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Dear Chump Lady, How do I make it through the holidays?

holly_petraeusIt’s that season again and it’s time to rerun this column. If you’re in a bit of a holiday slump, this goes one out to you. For the survivors of previous sucky holidays, tell the new ones how you did it in the comments. Thanks! — Tracy

Dear Chump Lady,

I am six months out from separation. Facing holidays alone with three grade school age boys. Friends all happily married (for the most part). Family all happily married.

I need any and all survival tips. The closer it gets to Christmas, the more easily I cry. I can’t stand to open Christmas cards from friends because their beautiful intact families reminds me of my broken family thanks to my cheating husband.

Offers of help and generous gifts from neighbors and congregation members just make me feel inadequate as a mom. I don’t want to be known as “the single mom” of the neighborhood, but I will be.

Divorce is amicable so far, which is a huge blessing; but about 45 days away from being able to be finalized.

All of it is still surreal. When I calculated today that I had asked him to move out exactly six months ago, I couldn’t believe that much time has past. It feels like I have been treading water without help for only a month or two.

It is a relief to not have the tension and day to day interactions with STBX. However, I am mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. All of you who have been single parents know that this is one tough gig! And relief every other weekend isn’t even close to enough time to catch up on everything that falls by the wayside when you are doing it alone.

I don’t know if everything is compounded because of Christmas. Or if my new reality is just settling in and I am scared to death to raise my sons without a full-time support system.

I figured this was the best place to go for ideas on how to make it through the next three weeks and make it as good a holiday season as possible!

Next year has to be better, right?!


Dear LimboLand,

Some holidays suck. When things suck — let them suck. You’ve been separated for 6 months. Your divorce isn’t finalized. You’re trying to get used to your new reality during a season of oppressive bonhomie. Who can blame you for occasional fits of weepiness? Even the sturdiest of us reel at the disconnect between our drab, ordinary lives and the manic imperative to be fabulous at the holidays. What? You don’t have your presents wrapped in artisan, wood-block print paper made by free-range lepers in India? You didn’t translate those Christmas cookie recipes from the original German? Didn’t you get invited to that party? You know, the one with the live nativity outside and the imported camels? No? Oh. Sorry.

I guess only the Intact, Happy, Married people were invited.

Please stop comparing yourself. Not every intact family is beautiful. Many of them are flaming cauldrons of dysfunction. And yes, some are happy. Be happy for them. The world needs all the sane, happy people it can get. Your problem is you need to expand your notion of “beautiful” and “intact.” You have custody of three boys. You’re at the helm. That’s an intact family. You’re just missing a fucktard, which is not missing much.

Yes, single parenting is hard work. But single parenting is not LESS THAN. It doesn’t mean you’re defective. Frankly, I found single parenting much, much easier than parenting in a bad marriage. In my first marriage, I paid the mortgage, all my own bills, my car, my son’s childcare, pre-school. I had a surly husband who didn’t much want to hang out with me, and the full weight of his untreated mental illness. I realized I was already a single parent. I didn’t have a fully invested partner. Having him out of the house was liberating and, hey, at least it was honest.

You were married to a cheater. No matter how many soccer games he attended, or bills he paid, that man was not a fully invested partner, in your marriage or in your family life. He directed his resources at fucking around on you. You’re mourning what you thought you had, how you enjoyed being perceived, not who he really was.

You don’t want to be known as the single mom? You ARE a single mom. Wear it as a badge of honor. You’re freaking HEROIC. You’re raising three boys on your own. This is your chance to raise good men with YOUR values. Did you really want to stay “intact” with that man and model to your sons that husbands and fathers cheat? And women must eat that shit sandwich and let the man enjoy his side-dish fuck entitlement?

Or do you want them to know that women are strong and life has deal breakers — and if you fuck with someone’s dignity and betray them, you will find your ass divorced?

Divorce is not failure. Cheating is failure. The shame of infidelity is not your shame to wear. I realize this is not how you expected your life to turn out, but it’s the rare person whose life turns out how they expected. And those people are dull and risk adverse. Intact can be enviable, it can also be boring as hell. And smug.

LimboLand, trust that in time you will find your sea legs on this parenting thing and you will have better days ahead, and yes, even happy holidays. But right now, you’re in crisis. Your world just got turned on its head. You are blessed that you are surrounded by kind people who want to help you. Accept the help. You know how you keep good people in your life? You let them help you. Don’t shoo them away. Be gracious, accept their kindness, and do a good turn for them later, when you’re able.

Reciprocity is what makes a relationship healthy. That means you don’t always get to be the giver. It means you also have to accept taking — graciously. That can be humbling for the more control freaky of us chumps. Makes us feel vulnerable. If you’ve been with a narcissist, you’re expecting that score card. Shit, I’m going to owe you and this is not going to be pretty. 

No. Some people are actually nice. Take the fucking casserole. Say yes to the babysitting. ENCOURAGE these people. Keep them close and do not reject them because you fear being pitied. That’s about you and you internalizing Single Mother is Less Than. They don’t see you that way. They see you as a lovely person who is in crisis and alone for the holidays, who could use some bolstering.

I could not have done single parenting without a lot of help. I had a dear friend who had my son for sleepovers every time I had to travel for work, or even sometimes when I had a date. And every chance I got, I reciprocated. I took her sons. Nearly every weekend I had a motley assortment of boys at my house. I looked for opportunities to do for my friends because I KNEW I was going to need their help too.

Being a single parent can open up your world in new ways, and deepen friendships. “Intact” families can be very isolating. As you build this new life, build a tribe. Lots of people are cribbing it together, doing this parenting stuff by the seat of their pants, even the married ones. Make some more friends.

But for now, just get through the holidays. Focus on your kids, making their Christmas bright. Create some new traditions (cookies for breakfast!) Relax. Please don’t spend those precious kid-free weekends doing chores. Enjoy some self-care. Watch a movie. Have coffee with a friend. Blob in your pajamas. You deserve it.

This new stage of life isn’t a punishment, it’s a gift. I know it doesn’t feel that way now — but you’ll get there. I promise.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This is so minor compared to all of Chumplady’s excellent points, but keep in mind that just because a family takes a nice photo, doesn’t mean they’re intact or loving or happy. It just means they can take a nice photo. I was conked over the head by this lesson two years ago when the most photogenic, fashion-coordinated, Pinterest-perfect family in our church – the one everybody held up as an example of a good Christian marriage and family – fell apart because the husband cheated in a blatant, jackassed fashion. Appearances can be deceiving.

    And if even if they are happy families, that doesn’t diminish you at all. You’re living a life of integrity, separating yourself from someone who makes you and your children unhappy. You’re creating a safe happy home for your children. That is also worthy of respect and you should be proud of yourself.

    • This was my thought when reading the letter. I absolutely know that it hurts, but that picture is not always the truth, it may be an artifice.

      My now-ExSIL is married to an absolute asshole. Cheater, got the OW pregnant, mean, manipulative… all the usual stuff. A counselor told her he was not able to be a good partner… but she stayed married to him, for financial reasons I think. They fucking hate each other. She drinks too much and finds any excuse she can to be away from him. I don’t all ways he is terrible, but there many I’m sure.

      But every year they send a Christmas card with the family together, smiling usually from Hawaii and/or some other destination. A Chump fresh off her divorce would probably find it hard to look at. But it’s not real, it’s set dressing so people don’t know how bad it really is.

    • I married at 35. Spent five years with a guy who pretended to want children with me. Never told me he had a vasectomy. Faked disappointment every time test was negative. Left the cheater with no children and my best reproductive years behind me. I’m an only child with both parents passed. I’m blessed to have my health, good friends and freedom. I look for magic in the world. Appreciate your gifts. I can’t help you with the scary part of raising children alone (Chump Lady did that) but I can tell you change is always scary—-you be fine. Be proud of your beautiful intact healthy family!

      • I feel for you. I married at 40 to Durt, who also wanted children and a family. Except he didn’t. He wanted my money and support for him and his mom while he screwed the slut puppet, side sluts and harem members. When I was crying during the divorce that I would now never have children, he laughed and said he couldn’t have children. “My swimmers don’t swim”.
        Cruel and heartless that they would ruin a woman’s dreams for their own sick wants.

      • Chumpless & Hopiumrecovery–the evil deception of your Xs is chilling. Using someone is horrible enough, but tricking them out of having children when they wanted children is cruel beyond measure. May both your exes get what they deserve.

  • What a timely post. It set me to reflecting. I have had many lovely comments here that I am going quite speedily through the journey to ‘meh’. Who knows. I don’t feel speedy. Today I feel treacly and stuck and low. But I think what HAS helped me is that I have been a de facto single parent for YEARS as STBX travelled the world. I knew first off that I would be able to cope. It would be hard but I would cope. I can fix stuff, get neighbours to help with stuff and generally do it all. One year he didn’t come home at all – just had the boys visit him while I stayed home with youngest.
    So it’s definitely been easier on me that way.
    And actually I must confess that it was harder sometimes when he was home as he interfered with all my ‘systems!’ This last two years were very hard for me as I was very ill and then went through a depression/burn out. I begged him to come home and now know why he was not keen.
    But holidays on your own can be lovely. Lovelier than with a fuckwit. Peaceful and your own style. Yes it’s hard work but raising a family is MEANINGFUL. I have always felt my life has been meaningful and that will keep me going.
    Make new habits and traditions at holidays. Go your own way. If you can survive a cheating fuckwit you can survive pretty much anything.
    I don’t have a family of origin either so my life has always been cobbled together from friends and neighbors but I get to choose!
    Life is short. Make joy. Model joy for your children. Model having fun, being independent, bucking the trend.
    I’ll stop now!!! Seems to have got carried away!

    • Sorry one more thing. I tiny trick I learned but weirdly seems to help me is ; instead of saying “I have to do x,y, z”- change it to “I get to do x, y, z”.
      Makes you see how lucky you are.
      I get to go shopping (I have a car and money)
      I get to clean up (I have somewhere to live and care for)
      I get to divorce a cheating fuckwit
      I get to arrange my Christmas
      I get to have my own career
      I get to figure out myself.

      You get the picture! Hope it’s not just me who likes this!!

      • Thank you Capricorn for reminding me of this! I was starting to feel bad this am and I read your response. You are spot on with this!

      • Piggybacking on this great point is the suggestion to change “expectations” to “preferences.” I find myself holding me to a ‘way-to-high bar. If I don’t overachieve, I fail. So, I prefer to get something done, but if it doesn’t happen, I remember I’m human & mourning.
        The majority of relationships don’t make it. You are in that majority.
        If you’re lying in a hospital bed with 2 broken legs, try not to beat yourself up for your inability to run today. See your emotional injury in the same light as a physical one. You will in fact heal, either willingly or kicking & screaming because you are “shoulding” on yourself.

      • Yes, Capricorn, you are a quick learner and even if you don’t feel it, you show that once a chump has the tools, vocabulary, and support they need, they use their well-honed survival skills to move forward because they were doing all the responsible, sane stuff anyway. Now they just do them without a cheater interfering and messing things up.

        This is not to say that you don’t have pain, grief, and setbacks. Healing is not linear and this huge betrayal takes time. No one passes through this crap and comes out unscathed. But as you say, you were so used to living on your own and doing all the heavy lifting, that not much has changed in your day-to-day living. I think it’s harder for the chumps who thought they were married to their best friends, and then one day “poof,” that person disappeared and a hateful monster took over.

        The beauty of CL and CN is that they provide the head-clearing truth and the soul-healing balm of support to get through the time of deep grief and insanity. Best wishes for you as you navigate your cheater-free life.

        • Finding Bliss

          Thank you. I have been ‘lucky’. It makes me go cold to think of chumps whose cheater is woven into the fabric of the family life and then must be detached. I think I would have been in reconciliation for a while if that were me. My fear of being a single parent would have been insurmountable for a good long time.

          I often said I was like a single parent. The actually reality of being one feels much lonelier but I know I can manage. I’m a bit of a loner anyway so more time on my own will be the best tonic for me. And knowing that I survived and thrived even after a rubbish childhood helped.

          When I think of chumps that have been suddenly abandoned I have such rage on their behalf. That is a seismic psychic shock. Some seriously brave people here.

      • “instead of saying “I have to do x,y, z”- change it to “I get to do x, y, z”. <–Love that Capricorn! …gonna have to practice that one. 🙂

      • Huge thanks Capricorn ☺️ I really want to model positivity to my two teenage girl. But it’s hard not to think negatively when there’s always a long to-do list of mundane chores as a single parent. This is a brilliantly simple way of turning the never ending to-do list into a ‘count my blessings’ list. Love it!

    • So many of us were defacto single parents in our marriages. And I find parenting much easier now that someone is not chopping at my knees.

      LOVE the “I get to ___________” mentality, Capricorn. And after awhile, you really *feel* that liberation in both large & small ways.

      • In my marriage I was a single parent to our son. I married who I thought was a man only to discover I married a pathetic overgrown teenager. A few weeks after X moved out I read an e-mail from X to our son in his quest to convince our son to live with him (to avoid child support) he told our then teenage son that if he were emancipated he could live with X full time and they could be like college room mates. Animal house?? 16 year old boys need a mature father not a college room mate. The judge agreed to have our son emancipated and lived in X’s apartment without adult supervision. X lived with his GF at the time. My son needed a mature parent and role model at a pivotal time in his life to guide him instead he had a college room mate who was never there.
        Capricorn you’re posts are enlightening.., thank you!

        • We need a conversation around how pathetic the legal system is regarding divorce. The lawyers and judges should be held responsible for when their shitty advice and/or decisions prove to be misguided and harmful. Some of the stories I hear are pure insanity!

      • This was what I thought about when I read CL’s post. Why is a family living on eggshells to cater to a cheating, lying narcissistic jackass “intact”? How is a family where one of the parents can’t be trusted “intact”? I’ve come to the point after 3 years of reading here where I think fixing our picker starts with being willing to challenge unhelpful concepts like “intact family” and “single parent.” Anyone married to a cheater who is in an active affair or affairs is essentially carrying the burden of the family alone, as the cheater has checked out. Of course chumps will be afraid of living without a second full income or of having to leave the kids in daycare and look for a job. That’s all legitimately scary. But holding on to an “intact family”? Once the lying and cheating starts, the marriage and family are broken. What chumps do when they file is allow the family to heal in an authentic way.

        • LAJ,

          Thank you for your summation of the past 35 years of my life with fuckwit! I have a lifetime of experience from walking on eggshells and spackling to keep the marriage and family intact.

          It took my highly aggressive cancer diagnosis, in January, to shock me into the realization my will to live was stronger than keeping his image intact and needs central.

          It’s been 10 months since final DD, filing for divorce and starting cancer treatment. I have listened to the collective wisdom of CN and lawyered up. I also found an excellent counselor who helped me get out of my unhealthy life of narcissistic trauma bonds. STBX is not doing well and I find myself ever closer to divorce settlement meh and Tuesday.

          Thanksgiving in my cheater free home was authentically delicious. No eggshells, no lies, no I’m going to the club to work out (read: quick fuck with AP du jour before being back to carve the turkey) and no one missed his fake self. I looked around my beautiful full table of loved ones and know now that working through my fears was worth every minute of pain and suffering this year. I have my dignity, self respect and am feeling mighty.

          I realize I was the rock, the anchor and still am. My family and friends have rallied around me in my new cheater free and hope to be cancer free soon life.

          Don’t let fear keep you in the sick and unhealthy world of a cheater. What you spackle dims your sparkle. Don’t let your awesome light go out. They (and their paycheck if they’re working) aren’t worth it.

          • Yes to dignity. Yes to self respect. You are mighty. CN is mighty!

            Physical healing and restoration to you FreeNow. Thanks for these great words!

  • I remember my first Christmas post DDay, it sucked. Second was better. I went to Cuba with my Mom. Third was even better. This year, will be great! Hang in there newbies.

    As a side note, and not to focus on the cheaters, but the holidays are all about family. Trust me, many cheaters who have left think about their families constantly during the holidays. I don’t believe for a second the holidays are a great time for them. Their loss of course but still. They’re not happy.

    • Yeah, my ex admitted during one of his several attempts to get me to take him back that, surprise surprise, it didn’t feel right to be with HER family and not his own for holidays and celebrations. It didn’t feel right to be on vacation where we always went, doing the things we always did, with HER.

      Well doh!

      The difference is, I knew this already, I already valued what we had, so I did everything I could to protect my family and my relationship with him, which was the foundation of our family.

      He only figured that out after fucking around (twice) and blowing it all up.

      And I knew it was super important and valuable to our kids, as well, so I did everything I could to make it work. That aspect was never important to him.

      • I don’t know how they can fake through that shit. I could not do it. They just move right into a new life like the old one never existed. They are so completely void of any life skills and decency. I always told The ClusterFuck B Sociopath the he “failed to perceive a threat” from his actions, or another words, either didn’t consider consequences, or refused to acknowledge consequences applied to him as well.
        I don’t know, I threw my hands up after his 5th DWI. I quit trying to figure out why ANYBODY would continue to drink and drive. Then when he ends up with felony convictions and no drivers license forever again, and sits in jail for a year he thinks that’s way too harsh. “I don’t deserve to be called a felon, I didn’t kill anyone”
        If you didn’t agree ( which of course I didn’t agree) he would rage at me.
        I fucking hate his dumb cunt guts.

        • EX-orcist: They get a boner from deception. It makes them Big Wo/Man on Campus–“I know something you don’t.” Their deception of being a married/family-wo/man keeps us hopping to maintain their facade of legitimacy, which is much better for public relations than “I fuck Craigslist skanks on my lunch hour,” or “I’m banging my boss in the copier room,” or (in the case of mine, “I’m carrying on sexual delights on gradwhore’s single bed while my wife is at Home Depot picking out stainless steel appliances for our kitchen remodel.”

          After the initial adjustment, holidays without the fuckwits are a source of relief.

        • The rules always applied to others and he never had consequences until I filed.

          And EX, I was always the designated driver.

          • I couldn’t go out with him for an enjoyable few drinks because he would turn into a fucking asshole who wanted to beat on me and rage if I didn’t agree with anything he said.

            • Interesting to me because Cock Slobber is a common ordinary bar whore who will drink with him. They must have some good fights. I have no doubt she has seen his drunk rages. Lol. She is so fucked???

              • It’s not a pretty picture. I’m indifferent to his life for the most part. My children have little admiration for him and as my daughter stated, “I have to live with this for the rest of my life.”

        • Yep. Throw your family away for the new one like thirty years of life never happened. Just brush it under the rug. Forget about it. Its the past doesnt matter. Took me a long time to realise how a person could do that? A pod thats who. After asswipe moved in with his whore id get texts from him occasionally asking for facts about stories that happened to us for his displays to new family and friends. I texted back its the past fucker remember? He would insist to get the story straight! I realized i am his memories. He didnt remember cause he never really cared. Gave a great appearance of a good family man hell he fooled me! Still insisted texting me to tell him the story. I finally texted back if you cant remember stories about your own son fuck you! Ask whore juice shes his new mom right and turned off my phone. Whore juice was telling stories one time with my daughter present for wj friends and family about when she was little and infront of everyone said how the fuck do you know you werent there that would be my mom not you. Her sperm donor said nothing in whores defense. I love my girl! Pods just never get it and they never will. Useless pieces of shit.

    • I really hope this is the case. He appears to have moved on so quickly and to be so happy. Of course, I’m completely NC so I wouldn’t really know and am trying to focus on joy and peace and new holiday traditions!

      Being divorced will take some getting used to, but I know I really had no other choice. I honestly don’t think it’s possible for him to feel the loss like we do. His repeated actions show we didn’t mean as much to him as he did to us. He sucks.

      • Neverwould, it became abundantly clear to me that even while he was whining and trying to come back, cheater narc didn’t actually miss US, he didn’t feel the loss as we did. He didn’t like that HE wasn’t getting what he used to (and what he thought AP would provide), and that the kids and I didn’t jump to provide kibble when he couldn’t get it from AP (she lived in another city, where he had been spending part of each week when the affair began).

        The only thing they miss about us is supply, we really never did mean that much to them, because nobody does. Blergh.

        • Yes, it’s just the consequences that hurt them. And the loss of cake. They suck.

      • neverwouldhaveimagned, “actions speak louder than words,” I wish I had paid more attention to X’s actions rather than his words or my words, the spackling, sugar coating, glossing over, even ignoring blatant disrespect. It took me a long time to accept that he didn’t care.

        No they doesn’t feel the loss like we do and sadly we didn’t mean as much to him as he did to us. They’ve moved on long before they leave us.

        I came across an interesting website this morning called “The Flying Monkeys, Oh my” has some good information on narcissists. I have been reading another site ,”After narcissist Abuse, There’s Light, Life, & Love” Along with Tracy’s book I’m reading “From Charm to Harm and everything in-between with a narcissist” Gregory Zaffuto. Reading helps confirm what we already know.

        • Brit

          I think I should have ‘actions speak louder than words’ tattooed on myself!
          ‘Stop talking – note to self’ would be another, lol.
          I could start a new trend The Illustrated Chump – maybe then I would be safe from the next predator that swims into view!

          I’m going to check out those sites and get that book. I think mine was covert, but he may just have been a crap sparkly narc.

        • Thanks for the reading suggestions, brit! Nothing has helped me more than Tracy’s book, CN, and a truly awesome counselor, but I’m always looking for more reading material that sorts through all this chaotic mess. 😉

          • If you even only suspect that you might be dealing with a cluster B personality disorder, narcissist, sociopath or psychopath, go to
   They have a wealth of articles and information that really blow the lid off everything. After Chumplady opened my eyes to the reality of being married to a cheater, that many of them were personality disordered, that is when I really started to put the puzzle pieces together and understand the severity of the person I spent decades with.

            • ‘but I’m always looking for more reading material that sorts through all this chaotic mess. ;-)’

              I’m so sorry but there is no such manual or any reading materials that make sense of it.”

              Don’t try to analyze the “skein of fuckedupness’.

              I’ve been working on it for over 3 yrs now.
              Read so many self-help books, many radio programs and a good blog I live on.

              Bottom line. There are no answers at all. And, you have to move on in life without that non-information.
              So sorry 🙁

              • I don’t think cdclocks is doing the skein untangling, I think they are merely doing a lot of reading to help them identify all of the red flags of a cluster B. Cd didn’t state they were trying to figure out why their cluster b was the way they were, they are just wanting to learn more about those types of personalities. Nobody wants to go back through that again, so information is the best defense.

              • Shechump,

                Reading about personality disorders did not change the past. Reading about cluster Bs did not change the fact that I was married to a lying cheating coward who got off on deception. Reading about infidelity did not lessen the pain of the realization that I had no good options left, only very painful days ahead as I pushed the divorce forward…

                But reading helped me immensely in my recovery. I read not to understand him better, but to understand my situation and options in terms of how to minimize the length and depth of my pain. Reading reinforced me resolve to stay NC and helped me avoid triggers and exposure to his twisted mind and 3 channels of fuckedup-ness.

                At first, the more I read the more I hurt as I realized how much I had used my olympic-level spackle skills to keep our family intact for our kiddo.

                I stumbled across evidence of his affair randomly, I was taken by complete surprise, and than faced with irrevocable evidence that his main problem solving strategy was to lie his way out of problems…

                None of the reading helped with the pain at first, and they certainly did not help my X treat me with respect. But the knowledge I gathered through reading helped me recover faster, helped me develop strategies on how to talk about the divorce with my kiddo, and have better boundaries in all areas of my life.

              • Chumpitude, ALL of what you said, exactly! I deal with things by figuring them out. For a long time I tried to figure out cheater narc in order to make things work the way they should in our family. But once I understood that would never happen, the figuring out was super helpful anyway, not so much about him, but about ME and what had happened to me, what I was dealing with, how to help my kids with it ….

                And everytime I read something or saw something on CL that made more sense of what had happened, it moved me closer to just accepting that what is, is, and we deal with it. Not untangling anymore, and I have put down my (practically worn out from use) spackling trowel.

              • She Chump.

                Once I read about the three phases of a narcissistic relationship the passageway to freedom opened.

                I lived those cycles through many Ddays and reconciliations.

                I had no idea about the role I played in tollersting abuse.

                I believed; I couldn’t believe. My emotions were so wrapped around The Limited I never considered leaving.

                I was told by both my therapist and kick ass lawyer that I had Stockholm Syndrome.

                I became obsessed with reading everything about these types of relationships.

                I had NO IDEA of the level of abuse I suffered or the fact he enjoyed my pain.

                I had NO IDEA of the level of power and control he had over me.

                Then one day in my obsessive persuit of untangling 41 years of lies I stumbled upon something that made me see the light.

                Richard Grannon, the Spartan Life coach was describing life with a covert narcissist. That was my life.

                I knew cheating was the tip of the iceberg. His actions were deliberate and calculated. He planned every loss that I suffered including the loss of my home. He degraded me to his family, my children, coworkers, and OW for years.

                Untangling the layers of deception helped me in many ways. It was a painful journey knowing I was never loved, appreciated, or cherished.
                It allowed me to see him as a malignant sociopath and to save myself.

  • When I am struggling with the idea that ‘my whole life has been a lie’, this has helped me see that he is the only lie.
    “Accept the help”
    Because you will get so much more than help. When you open up and let others step in to help you realize that you are surrounded by loving, trusting relationships. Letting people step up and support you and be there for you in ways your cheater likely wasn’t, helps you see more clearly thru the spackle.
    All the lies and betrayal your cheater brought to your life are the exception, not the rule.

    • “When I am struggling with the idea that ‘my whole life has been a lie’, this has helped me see that he is the only lie.”

      Wow, thanks for that…I have very much been struggling with the “my whole life was a lie” since husband of 26 years cheated for many of those years, but you are right…MY life wasn’t a lie, HIS was and thats on him.

      • Yes, brilliant, WarmSocks–“He is the only lie.” That just advanced me a year in healing! Thank you.

        • WarmSocks

          Love, Love this post. Recently, I found a WANTED ad the SlunT placed in a newspaper two weeks before he called her. She clearly stated SINGLES only. Yet he bragged that she didn’t care that he was married.

          He was always the lie and a lifelong predator.

          • WarmSocks – Bravo! I, too, have had a lot of struggles about my last 36 years being a lie. Well, I wouldn’t have gone along with a lie that long, if at all, if I knew it was a lie. That made me feel a lot better that *I* was authentic, at least. My families love for him was authentic, at least. Our friends love for him was authentic, at least. That much I know and as Tempest said, you also just advanced me a year in healing!

            • I do feel like such a loser, however, for the wool being pulled over my eyes for so long.
              Hugely embarrassed for all his ‘loved’ ones.
              Somebody stated in another post, that I’m sure he got very frustrated that it took me 3 long years to figure out his affair. He started getting very sloppy to the point it was almost thrown in my face and still, I couldn’t bring myself to believe he’d ever do something so sinister. He pretty much laid it right on my lap, along with that damn smirk of his!

        • Agreed, thank you warmsocks, knowing how much of my family life was real and what was fake tortured me (and still does at times)… But I am secure in my belief that I brought my A game to my marriage and as a mom, and that belief really helps me move forward authentically no matter how much history rewriting X tries to introduce in our kiddo’s and his family’s minds…

          • this is important : they gave us lies and we react as if the whole dam time was fucked up. but no – we were authentic and so were our kids – friends – relations – the only person who had the delusion was them . let them own it and keep the memories.

      • That is by far the hardest part. Your memories are now corrupted and you wonder what was real or what (or who) he doing during that time you are recalling. 4 decades with many Wonderful Magical Memories are instantly changed into deeply heartsicking aches inside. These disordered people steal your life without a care in the world. You’re left to pick up the pieces and try to heal when much of your life was a complete lie. It’s hard for others to even begin to grasp the depth of devistation that does to someones soul.

        • I’m sorry this is happening to you too, Chump Change.
          No, I don’t think people understand that is happening to you unless they experienced it personally.
          (very frustrating) Nobody I really know which is hard.
          The majority think I’m contagious.
          I’m in a small town and C/N has become my divorce ‘group’.

          This Magical Mystery Tour just took me off my feet and a perfect song for what he did.

          • Yes SheChump, I know what if feels like to be in a small town. I went from a very active in full social life to two friends. All the couples we knew pretty much dropped us when I originally kicked out Gaslighter and were separated. People are polite to my face, and I do hear from the grapevine that they Know my husbands a ConMan asshole…. but I know there are many Switzerland friends and people that just don’t want to look too deeply. I do think married couples are very uncomfortable around is divorcing and I learned that an attractive female is not a popular invite in this couples world. I’ve never felt so alone in my life.

        • These posts are exactly what I need to hear. Thank god you guys get it.
          Decorating for Christmas and doing Thanksgiving this weekend has had many triggers and I’m worn out today. DDay #1 two-year anniversary is coming up in a few weeks and I’m remembering all the “lasts.” Hurts like a mofo but I’m surviving.

  • The first one is the hardest. And I mean HARD. I will never forget waking up to an empty house on Christmas morning, after years of hearing kids sneaking downstairs at the crack of dawn. I’ll also never forget the time I fell asleep on Christmas Eve, before I’d had a chance to get all the “santa” stuff out and ready. I woke up before the kids (a miracle) and got it all ready. And then cried because it was yet one more tradition, one more chapter in the old parenting book that was never going to be the same.

    But guess what? The new chapters are different, yes- but they are good. Better, even, because we made new traditions that are ours and ours alone. There are still moments when I feel a pang, a bit of weepy nostalgia but those moments become less frequent and hurt less as time goes by.

    You will get through this and so will the kids. Just remember that. And my dear, take care of yourself too. It’s easy to neglect yourself while trying to make everything good and normal for the kids, but your mental and physical health are now more important than ever.

    Hugs to anyone who is going through this for the first time ❤️

    • Yes HH the new chapters ARE different. Holidays and birthdays are now celebrated with new traditions. And they are much better minus the slug.

      Thanksgiving with my son and all night shopping with my granddaughter and her friend replaced feeding assholes who made negative comments.

      Potluck Christmas dinners with my children, Yankee Swaps, and picking a secret Santa replaced endless shopping and the cheap thoughtless gifts I received as an afterthought. Joy replaced pain and constant complaints.

      Birthdays are special. We select a day we spend together based on the interests of the person we are celebrating. It’s FUN.

      Reinventing ourselves is a must. It takes time. It gets better every year.

      • Doing – ‘And they are much better minus the slug.’

        Made me think of a recent video – perhaps a sloth moves a little slower?

      • This will be my third Christmas after ending 38 years with the Gaslighter. The first 2 years my young adult boys and I continued our 10 year Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Traditions with our dear neighbors and their extended family – minus Gaslighter. The first year was hell. The youngest was a senior in high school and a full witness to my devastation. There were many emotional go rounds with my older son who lives in NYC, because I wouldn’t allow Gaslighter to be anywhere near these holiday traditions. I set very firm boundaries, I told them on no uncertain terms their father had lost the right to enjoy any part of things as they used to be. They could go see him somewhere else, and spend as much time with him and they wanted to. The second year was bitter sweet, but so much less stressful I couldn’t even believe it. Again my sons both spent the great majority of the holiday time with me, and only spent an obligatory couple of hours with their father and the other woman. The first year my oldest refused to even meet her. A few months ago my eldest and his fiancé and her mother (my friend) endured the AP explaining the story of their “love” and it was obvious the timeline did not add up to what they had witnessed or what his dad had told him. In other words he was clearly cheating on me for quite some time, while pretending to be a loving husband and father. So he Heard it directly from Schmoopie’s mouth that his Dad is a Shameless Lying Asshole. I don’t know why any of them didn’t say to this woman “Wow Schmoopie, Dad was very much married to my mom and with us during that year, so he’s been lying to you too”. Urggggh! But then I remember that this year I am going with both sons to Mexico City for Christmas and then to Cuba for New Year’s and my 60th Birthday. They will be with me. Thanksgiving for these the last three years I was with my younger boy who is in College an hour away. Gaslighter gets to spend his holidays with Shmoopie and her family instead of his own. I Win.

  • This brings me back to last Christmas. Stbhx had moved in with his AP. He wanted to come “home” for Christmas with our grown kids. Big mistake! He tried to act like it was a normal Christmas. He was triangulating trying to hold my hand putting his arm around me. Working in the kitchen to make dinner. It was a disaster nobody enjoyed. I ended up in tears and he walked put before dessert, sending a text that “he knows when he’s not welcome”. I apologised to my kids and said there would not be a repeat.
    This year we are celebrating at my daughters tiny city abode and no plans have been made with their wackjob dad. Daughters birthday was yesterday and she did not hear from her dad. He’s too busy with AP and her daughter, young enough to be his granddaughter.
    They really suck. Your boys are better off without him and if they spend part of the holiday with him that is the time to take care of you and think of a new tradition to celebrate. I got through it and so will you.

    • Just ew for the wackjob Christmas disaster. I’m so sorry he did not even wish his own daughter a happy birthday this year but glad you are rid of him. They just move on to a new, sparkly family. They are so shallow and phony. They suck.

    • Sadlady–yet more proof they were never invested in their children, either. Your X probably didn’t even remember it was daughter’s birthday.

      I have a funny (funny/sad?) story about birthdays–DD15 still won’t talk to her father two years out, and he sends her occasional texts or emails, but hasn’t really made tremendous effort to win her back. He texted her “happy birthday” last year a day early, then corrected himself.

      DD21 is still in contact with her father. He forgot her birthday last year, so asked her this year for something special she wanted as a gift, sent the item, and warned her “don’t open it until your birthday on Monday!” He was a month early. SMH.

  • I think the holidays can be difficult for many people, not just chumps weathering infidelity, separation, and divorce. Our expectations are ridiculously high for what it is *supposed* to be like. My advice is to pick a few special traditions (old or new) and just enjoy them. Quietly. Let this time be a chance to relax and unwind from a crazy year instead of being a manic to do list competition to meet silly media-generated expectations.

    • Dixie. So much yes to this! Do you know when I read this my shoulders actually came down from where they had been hovering somewhere around my ears …….and relax…..?

      • Dixie I felt the same as Capricorn as I read your post. A weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I can relax, I don’t need to go over the top with Christmas decorating
        Simple or whatever we have no one to please but ourselves.
        We can enjoy a peaceful Christmas without the miserable slug, and really how much help were they during the holidays? X never looked happy during the holidays. One day I mentioned it to him, he said it was because Christmas is so commercialized. I don’t know how I kept myself from laughing, as if that would make any difference to him.

    • I agree. My friend lost her father yesterday. Her birthday is on the 29th of this month. The holidays will not be cheerful for her and cheating was not the cause.

      We all lament certain elements but loss of family is felt especially at holiday.

      For those of you who are fresh in the process and still raw…hugs!

      I knowany of us would be loath to do so, but take a page out of the narc’s book and fake it til you make it.

      • Yes, loss comes in many forms. I work with people whose children die and holidays are not easy for these folks even if they have wonderful marriages.

        My 2 oldest children have suffered from pretty serious mental health issues that changed them dramatically fro the wonderful loving children that I wrapped gifts for years ago. One of them moved very far away this year and Im thrilled that he isn’t homeless. The other visited briefly last week and caused a bit of a stink that me and new hubbby had to work through, so yea, there are lots of ways that people suffer from.

        Accept also that there will be those awkward moments when the reality of the changes will bite your ass…one year after H1 died and I was dating H2, I had to order return address stickers…normally I would get ones that said “The H1lastname Family” and I cried when I wondered to myself if that entity existed any longer…I got all mighty and ordered some that said “Unicornomore lastname”. Now that I have H2’s last name I still felt awkward with “The H2 family” (does that ignore the folks with H1s name?). You get the jist, awkward, in-your-face moment that new widows and divorces have to trudge through. suckfest but survivable.

        • This isn’t near as serious but, just last year (after being separated 3 yrs/divorced 2) I was still getting xmas cards from his friends. Some from college who we used to be close to that didn’t have a clue we had ‘a marital issue’ and were no longer married – I was actually shocked he didn’t let them know!. So, I wanted to rub my hands together and just send them back a note that their ‘wonderful college buddy’ had walked out on me and our family of 4 big dogs 3 yrs prior because of a whore he met. It would have been SO easy with their current addresses.

          But, alas, I didn’t get that far in the gutter and just told him to call these people.
          Of course, I never heard from them again. pfffft Great – 10 less xmas cards to send this year!

    • Dixie, this is sound advice. We set up so much unhappiness with unrealistic expectations. One of the big things I learned after D-day was living in the present moment. And many times the present as we live it is just fine if we don’t compare it to the idealized past or future.

  • This is the first Christmas I will be without my son, the first I will not see his sweet face delighted on Christmas morning and I feel a pit in my stomach that wells up to tears. The weight we put on this holiday is enormous, and the traditions hold us captive as does the loss of it. I am trying to remember that I have no memories of my parents together on Christmas, and I was kind of cool with it. I liked the two Christmases and two kick-ass meals. Trying to stay focused on what matters, namely a new life without a flaming Narcissist.

    • Hugs to you! And all those with littles! Christmas must not suck. You just gotta pull yourself up by your bootstraps or put your big girl panties on or whatever phrase you use to mean weather the storm. We are clear on what matters. No more narcs! No more cheaters. Peace, joy, compassion for others…

    • Kibble , We do put so much weight in this holiday. The newness is also paired with the injustice of it all.

      You can celebrate another day with your son. Be creative and I’m sure as time passes this will become a tradition you look forward to with joy.

      There is so much fear associated with sharing your child. Hugs to you.

    • Also, remember that we can celebrate Christmas as a season, not just as a day. Take advantage of what you can do–put up lights together, have your kids invite friends over for a cookie decorating party (prize for the ugliest cookie or best repair job on a broken cookie, etc.), take turns choosing and singing Christmas carols in the car together. The only Christmas tradition your kids need to remember is that you did fun things together. If you do the same things every year, that’s great. If you do different things different years, that is great too.

      Finally, be for others what you need for yourself–the bearer of a kind word or an offer of a helping hand. I like to bake. I began giving away a lot more tins of treats after the EX left. Not only did I have time to bake when the kids were away, but it made me feel good to give a small gift to people who had offered me help during the transition as well as people who had no reason to expect a gift but who lit up with pleasure when I gave them one.

      I enjoy the holidays much, much more now because it is not a constant argument or negotiation with the EX. He wanted a tree, but it was never a good time to put one up. He wanted lights, but got angry both if I asked him to put them up and if I stopped asking and did it myself. As with many aspects of the marriage, the holidays were usually about him–anything I wanted or the kids wanted were grounds for grumbling or a tantrum. Sure, there are things I miss about the image I held of my “intact” family, but I do not miss all the spackle I was putting up to sustain that image.

      Last of all, plan ahead. If your kids will be with the EX for part of the season, have things to do. It doesn’t matter if it is novel you want to read, an “appointment” with a long-distance friend to have a leisurely phone call, or a long walk in the park followed by a cup of coffee you linger over with a trashy magazine. Plan ways to indulge yourself so that you have something (or several things) to look forward to.

      • Eilonwy – Standing ovation!

        ‘Also, remember that we can celebrate Christmas as a season, not just as a day.’

        This is wonderful because, it truly is an entire season of which Christmas occupies 2 months of Winter.
        As always, the journey is so much more fun than the destination – destination, just the cherry on the xmas tree.

        This is the first year in so many that I am actually full of the Christmas spirit!
        I don’t think I was all that happy for the past 5….wonder why.

        Tomorrow, I’m going to put up outdoor lights – he also was one who refused to do it. The one time he tried, he got so mad and frustrated I told him to stop. But, when I put them up he liked them. The entire point of having Xmas tree lights outside (logically speaking) this time of year is because it’s so darn dark out so darn early. I love the extra lights it gives you for 2 whole months!, and so many types and colors now. I think I’ll go buy myself new strings for my new little house but wait until everybody is done shopping this weekend.

        Now you guys are getting me all excited. I really feel I’m about 70% on the meh level these days, hitting 90% pretty soon!

        Thank you Chump Lady and Chump Nation.
        You got me out of my quagmire.

  • Chumplady, please consider a “where are they now?” update post on occasion. I would love to know how LimboLand is doing.

    • Love this!!! It can be so helpful and interesting to read where people are a few years afterwards. I vote for a once in a while ‘what has become of’ blogpost.

  • I have 3 boys as well. Divorce seems very prevalent in 3 boy families! (even if a girl makes 4).
    Just wondering if a/ cheaters tend to have boys more often or b/ its all the competition they cannot stand??
    The wheels fell off my marriage when my eldest hit 14, but EX was revealed as a serial cheat so not sure that age is relevant.
    Xmas has been ruined for me, hopefully not forever, but I have zero enthusiasm for it.

    • Interesting point, I have three boys as well, POS was always very hard on the eldest and it made for many confrontations, where I took my son’s side as I could see X was being unreasonable. He was very involved in the boys’ lives but when they reached a certain age, around 14, there was definitely an element of competition, especially for my attention( which you couldn’t make up considering he was cheating! ) He became physically confrontational with them, leading to many terrible rows especially when they began to try to protect me when he was being overly controlling! I don’t think he could cope with other males in his domain, it was fine when they were little boys but when they became young men, he freaked out.

      The irony is the OW has a son who is now 13 ( 7 when they began the affair), it will be interesting to see how he copes as that boy gets older.

      He has a very good relationship with all my boys, mainly because I facilitated it but it is very superficial based mainly on sports, there is no depth and certainly no discussion about feelings or emotions. He avoids that at all costs, despite the boys trying to engage him ( I ensured they have emotional intelligence, didn’t want them growing up as emotional immature as their father) so he really is a lost cause.

      A salient point, narcissistic personalities do not like competition, sons are competition to these type of men.

      • Olesammie

        Wow. Your post made me sit back on my heels. I remembered suddenly when my STBX first went to work abroad. All the tension and almost physical confrontation between him and my eldest (14at the time) left with him. I have always had to step in to stop things escalating between him and the boys as they got older.
        And similarly he has millimetre thin relationships with the boys based on nothing more than them actually being in close physical proximity to him. Out of sight out of mind really is true.

        Ahhh. That’s like my dad. Crap. He was great when you were in his eyeline but step out and you just disappeared from his mind. No object permanence.

        I love this site. So much to realise.

        • The last Christmas nowdeadhusband was alive, he had a rage because the tree fell over and he grabbed it to throw into the yard, trouble was it had many heirloom ornaments on it that would have been broken if he were left to his devices.

          Oldest son stopped his dad midway through the kitchen dragging the tree and told him “We’re not doing this”. Im so glad son took that moment to claim his authority and fix the situation.

      • The competition thing with their sons, if the father is the cheater, is HUGE. As you noticed, it begins around their son’s adolescence. They begin trying to cut the child down in any way. The other parent becomes the buffer. It’s really messed up. Even more messed up when the off spring has more IQ points than the abusive parent. Rather than celebrating their offspring’s gifts and talents, they make it a mission to tear them apart-little by little.

        I have one son out of the house and thriving and two boys still home. Thank GOD the asshat is nothing more than a fantasy figure for them. He never engaged in real parenting, just impression management. The younger two are tweens now and I am no longer fogged out.

      • Great post. The traitor has 4 sons. I used to call him “competitive dad” after the character in The Fast Show. Always had to beat them, sore loser and proud of it. He also stole all their Christmas chocolates from under the Christmas tree once. Two birds with one stone, he sabotaged my preparations and peed all over his boys…

    • What an insightful point.

      We have girls, and I gave to say, even though it’s cliche, once they started developing, X was very uncomfortable.

      They have crappy life skills. Seeing your boys as competition or struggling with your objectification of women because your own daughters are now teenagers are issues well adjusted people either do not have or thoroughly address and resolve.

      Cheaters are dysfunctional and choose to hide or run away instead of grow and heal. And their families pay the price. They suck.

      Also, they do not do intimacy or regret. They are shallow and selfish and so are their APs.

      • Never

        ” once they started developing, X was very uncomfortable.”

        He abandoned his first daughter at 16, lied and she moved out.

        When the second daughter turned 16 he moved, I lost my home and she was homeless.

        He abandoned his granddaughter at 13.

        Needless to say I trauma bonded with the asshole and thankfully they finally see the pattern.

    • Interesting hypothesis about the father-son dynamic. I doubt it works for serial cheaters, though–they are just immoral fucktards. I have two daughters; oldest one was very close to her father until his infidelity broke (she was 19), but he was probably cheating on me from when she was a fetus.

      • Tempest.

        I love it when you use technical terms Immoral Fucktards! Lol. I agree I think they are just crappy people all round.
        Sorry to hear about your dog. That’s hard. Wish I could do more than send hugs your way.

        • Thanks, Capricorn. Still sad about my dog, but spoiling the beejeezus out of him right now. (one of two “healing” dogs I got after D-day has a cancer diagnosis with only 6 months to live).

          And I have long thought that “Asshole” should be an official DSM diagnosis ; ).

          • Sorry to hear about your dog, Tempest. Always remember that your dogs have great lives living with you though. The rest is out of our hands.

            • Thanks, Kiwichump. My dog is an elderly, deaf, blind Shih Tzu named Gramps, so I knew I only had him for a short time, but he’s such a gentle little soul, and there is so much symbolism imbued in him, that I’m finding it rough to contemplate life without him. No doubt the other 4 dogs will rally to fill the void ; ).

      • Mine is a serial cheater who is extremely jealous of his eldest son’s achievements. I’m very observant, as hindsight is 20-20, with my younger two sons to have a good understanding of this fuckery. I was the buffer with my oldest but didn’t have the knowledge that asshat is an asshole.

        I also have a daughter. He tried to create situations whereby I guess if I were insecure about myself, I was supposed to get jealous of her. Nope. Not me. I did create a huge buffer once I discovered his love of nubile porn and my adolescent daughter. No fucking way was he going to be alone with her. Creep.

        Who the fuck are these assholes? I quit trying to unravel the skein. I’m 100% comfortable knowing they are fucked up sacks of skin parading as normal people- educate yourself and your children. This is a sad lesson to learn but very, very important as they leave the nest.

    • Hmm… interesting. I’ve also noticed that many Chumps have special needs kids, so there’s that, too.

      Those damned kids with their damned “special” needs! What about me and my special-er needs?! Waah!

      • Cheaters suck. Selfish fuckers for abandoning their spouses with illnesses (or pregnant ones) and their own kids, especially those who need extra care.

      • You said it, kaycan! One of my kids has special needs, but STBX says that he [our child] has none and that I just ‘don’t appreciate our children.’ ‘What about me and my special-er needs? Waah!’ truly represents my STBX. He is taking me to court yet again for the umpteenth time because I purportedly make him feel unsafe, although he has physically, financially, and legally threatened me (and others) and violated my rights for years. All this projection of his onto me (and the resulting taking of me to court) is terribly expensive, time-consuming, and wearisome. For what? After he burns me to the ground, he will very likely still be miserable, miserable over the damage HE caused. Really sad that people like this can take down society.

        • Seriously, it’s the cheaters who are “special needs” adults–they think of themselves as oh-so-special, they “need” fresh p***y/c**k, they need constant adoration, they need novelty! now! they have impulse control problems, they can’t connect to other people. I certainly don’t minimize the parental effort it takes to help and raise children with special needs, but on the continuum of abnormality, those kids are faaarrrr more “normal” than cheaters.

  • Let people help! Let them help! I didn’t have time to post on yesterday’s thread, and people were focusing on the big stuff they were grateful for, but I am so grateful for the small bits of help we got in the first year or two after I kicked cheater narc out.
    – our dentist who knew money would be tight for a while, who ‘forgot’ to bill me several things – even after I reminded his office!
    – the people at our local small grocery store, who were super extra warm to the kids and I, and put free Hallowe’en pumpkins and Xmas panettone in our deliveries.
    – our family friends who made sure we had plans and good things to do for every single holiday and many times in between (and who never again spoke to the cheater).
    – my sister and brother, who stepped up with bits of cash here and there for kid stuff and time/attention for my kids.

    People LOVE to help, and if we let them, it deepens our relationships with them. Don’t you love to help? Allow others that pleasure. Accept, and even ASK for help.

  • I guess I was very fortunate The ClusterFuck B Sociopath never participated and/or ruined every single holiday. I tried to make them special but they weren’t.
    Cock Slobber is. Very much into holidays, etc and she has a large family. I’m sure he tries to find a way out of it. I do know for a fact that last Christmas Day she was moving from their fuck shack 1/4 mile down the road (Thank Jesus). I laughed because making her move on X-mas was his excuse for not having to participate in any holiday festivities.
    Who the fuck moves on Christmas Day???? I knew then that he was the same old piece of sociopath shit he had ever been.
    He showed up here last X-mas, and went upstairs wasting time so he wouldn’t have to help her physically load anything into their moving trailer.
    Lazy piece of shit. She obviously had no idea he was avoiding having to do any manual labor.
    Ha ha ha ha. They do not change, ever.
    This is my 2nd round of holidays without the ClusterFuck. We had no happy traditions during 18 years, so that part wasn’t missed. It was devastating regardless thinking he was with Cock Slobber all happy & shit.
    To new and recovering chumps-the healing process is soooooo hard. There are no choices but to deal with it, pain, shit sandwiches, and all. I’m sorry for your suffering and hope you can remember that next year you will be much better equipped to manage.
    I’m meh, but it still stings when I think of what could have been. I tried to take Satan and make him into a person who I thought he had potential to be.
    Just keeping moving chumps. It gets easier.

    • Hi Ex-orcist, same here. When I got married and moved to another country a week before the New Year of 2005 to live happily ever after with my husband whom I loved more than life, I was looking forward to our first Christmas together. I wanted to arrange something but my narc husband kept telling me to relax. Stupid me, I thought he was preparing a surprise for me. I cried and cried when I realized late into the evening that nothing was happening. And then nothing happened on the following ones. And nothing happened on my birthdays, no “happy birthday” ever – for 12 years. Friends tried to invite us over to their places for celebrations but he declined. I recall two times we went over to our friend’s place but he insisted to come home early and go to bed. He just treated those days as any other calendar days, leaving me in front of the TV by myself. I hated all holiday celebrations including my birthdays. The past 6 years we lived in two different countries seeing each other twice a year. The Christmas/New Year was together in a resort on the seashore with strange people. The family holiday environment never existed. Actually, the family environment never existed. He attributed his reluctance for family celebrations to his teen-age years when he had to live with his uncle in another country while his parents were going through an ugly divorce. Some people go through pain and decide to not repeat it in their lives, while others opt to punish everybody in their family for the pain they had once suffered. I came to dislike all holidays. I now have to make myself like them again. I have a 9-yr old son who still believes in santa and it’s really up to me what kind of father and husband he will become one day.

      One pattern we chumps have is that we lived laser-focused on our narcs and their moods and desires and in the pursuit of pleasing them we forgot what we were about. Now it’s the chump-discovery time for me.

      • Long time
        Well I fir one would love to know what you choose to do from now on. How big will you go for Xmas?? I love Xmas I absolutely love it so have always had fun. The less I fear what others think the more fun I have. Our lives seem similar with our cheats working away for the last 6 years – snap!
        It’s so difficult to actually believe what has happened isn’t it. But you have a 9 year old who you can really go to town with on the celebration stuff. Good luck. Let us know!

        • Capricorn, I am still not divorced. Have not even filed yet. Not sure if I will any time soon. Christmas is as usual with him on the beach. The tickets were bought a while ago when we were in a fake-reckonciliation and I was elated that he finally understood the pain and thought won’t do it again. The CL and CN were not part of my life then to help open my eyes. He was always distant and secretive so after DDay he realized he had to change tactic and he layed it out in heart to heart long talks. Of course blaming me for all the affairs because I was not tending to his needs. What I thought I discovered when I read the texts was only 10% of his serial cheating. But just the fact he talked to me made me think that this was finally a soul to soul conversation which we never had in 12 yrs. So I bought in. It took him 4 weeks after that to show he won’t change.

          I wrote in bits and pieces here and there but I have a situation where my son holds his dad’s citizenship in a middle eastern country. We all are also Canadians. When we reconciled the decision was that my son and I would move back by September next year. I now know how stupid this idea was.

          So I have not confronted him yet and frankly have to thread this carefully. If he gets mad he can simply keep our son there and not let him come back. I will probably post my story in the forum to get some advice. I know I need to speak with a lawyer, in search for the right one now with experience in double citizenships.

          For now Christmas on the beach (4th year in a row) and I always had the uneasy feeling abt him but this time I know. With some new friends he made. I have to pretend. For my son. Let’s see how it goes.

          • Longtime.
            This is a truly horrible situation to be in. I filed for divorce about three weeks ago. My husband usually works abroad.
            He is home at present to sign paperwork and provide financial details.
            It is tricky to say the least.
            I’m thinking you will have to be a very sneaky very smart very thoughtful Chump from now on you will definitely be able to extricate yourself and your son if you plan and are careful.
            I’m following your replies. Let me know if you post in forum. Would love to offer help if I can.

          • Longtimechump, can you get advice from Canadian authorities about what, if anything, they can do to protect you both when you go to his country? How old is your son? How long would you have to pretend wreckonciliation? Big hug, thinking of you.

            • Capricorn, I am moving in that direction. As a matter of fact I have a business meeting with the Cad embassy staff (another dept) while I am there but it’s still good for contacts. I need to lawyer up – just need to find the right one. Thank you really for your support. Hugs

              • Longtimechump, please know that you are one mighty, level-headed parent. I hope you find the right person to help you. Good luck to you, from a fellow Canadian.

  • Limboland–Tracy is right on all counts.

    How to get through the holidays?
    1. Accept help whenever it is offered.
    2. Accept help even if you have to ask for it.
    3. Keep ALL the traditions YOU want (even if they remind you of fucktard–you have a future in which, eventually, he will be “someone you used to know” and you’ll want those traditions to have been kept).
    4. Downsize–I usually put up two Christmas trees (I’m a Christmas addict), the December after D-day & filing, I only put up one. Kids got fewer, but better-thought-out presents
    5. One step of self-care every day. I know it’s rough with children, but even 5 minutes a day of a bubble bath, quiet tea, three pages of a novel, will help.
    6. Accept help, accept help, accept help.

    • This! YOU own the fact that you love what you love. YOU own everything that is true about you. If you can’t bring yourself to do something year 1, maybe year 2, or later. Still, nobody can take the beauty that is your heart away from you.

      • I just can’t bear to bring out all the amazing Snow Globes that were so lovingly collected over three decades… so tacky yet actually really beautiful during the Christmas holiday all arranged on my baby grand piano. People loved them so much and always commented about them and many started their own snow globe collections after visiting. I especially remember hunting all over Greece for a Parthenon snow globe and believe it or not we actually found one. Only that a single one after searching 3 different islands and Athens. Each snow globe had a story and a history of a special time. My heart can’t bear to display them now. It would be like going through old photographs. Damn what are we to do with those?

        • Maybe donate to a nursing home or set up as a display on loan for xmas. Or give ones to special friends. I have a large collection of pewter asswipe gave most of them. Im keeping two and giving the rest away. I cant display them amymore i took them down three years ago havent been near them since big triggers for me. So ive decided as i see friends and family over the years the special ones get one as a gift that was special to me. Just a thought.

          • Great idea, maybe pass them on to my kids once they have their own families. right now they’re kryptonite to me so I just ignore the boxes in the barn.

        • Chump change.
          It’s hard but you have to let them go. Say goodbye and move on. Accept that this life you had ended. A new one has begun.
          Grieve them but let them go. Start a new collection, or none. You keep the memories associated with them. Now you need to keep moving forward like a shark. You can not afford to let them weigh you down with nostalgia and mourning.
          Stuff like that is heavy.
          Look forward. What do you like now?
          Change. Become the person you were meant to be. ❤️

          • I have a very different take on this than most. My mantra since throwing the cockroach out after D-day has been “He does not control any aspect of my life.”

            Thus, if I like something he gave me (such as a beautiful emerald ring–his most extravagant gift), then I keep it and simply divorce memories of him from the item.

            The Chinese carved furniture we bought at an auction for a song during happier times? I LOVE that furniture–keeping it. The dining set & china cabinet bought with gift money from the wedding? I considered selling that and getting something more mod, but I like the furniture–keeping it.

            The biggest dilemma was what to do with family photos, as I inherited my father’s love of geneology (and it’s tough to throw away items that count as ‘history’)–keeping them for my kids to sort through later. However, I did glue a picture of Francois Arnaud in leather pants over X in the main wedding photo ; ).

            • This is hillarious, Tempest! I banged a few big wedding portraits smashing the glass on the floor and tearing off the photos. Maybe this is what I should have done instead. I also can’t even look at the wedding band or the 2 rings he gave me. O yes, and a silver bracelet he bought for me from mexico while vacationing with his split soul whore. Considering to give back the treasures to him. I don’t want any reminders.

          • It’s very interesting that when I finally moved Gaslighter’s crap out of our beautiful home it easily fit into five boxes. FIVE. Nearly 40 years of life together. His clothes were most of it. I stood with open boxes in front of our large library hall expecting to fill boxes quickly. In shock I realized his only books were his high school and college yearbooks. Oh and a few Tom Clancy type novels given as gifts over the holidays. A huge long floor to ceiling hallway library overflowing with books on Art History and Design, Architecture, Biographies, Gardening and Landscaping, Horsemanship and history of the Vaquero, books about Wine, many spiritual authors, 1st editions regarding Arts and Crafts movement and on and on. I realized right then that there was no evidence of his life, there was “nobody home”. He had no interests, no collections, no sporting equipment, no music or instruments, no art, no books. The only beautiful things he owned I had either created myself for him, or designed to have made or handcrafted. How had I not realize this sooner. Yet again it just proves the point that these Custer bees pretend to be what you need them to be my life and interests are reflected in the design and contents of our home and life. Both my boys are musicians and voracious reader is and each have their own libraries. I am an artist and designer and he reaped the rewards of the beautiful environments I created for him. Not gonna let any damn Snow Globes get me down. Not going to give him any credit for any collections. He’s an empty shell.

        • ChumpChange: Don’t display your globes this year if they trigger you. But in another year or two or three, they will no longer be associated with the traumatic memories, and you may be glad you kept them.

          I think we all go through a phase where we want to “clean house” of reminders of the cheater and our former life with them. But that urge may not last, and you should be able to keep the things you love just because you do love them.

          • Thanks Tempest, I agree with you on that one. My kids may want them someday, time will tell. There in the barn. The last two years I put up an adorable little 3 foot live tree and curated the ornaments, not putting ones that were sentimental or representing trips we have taken as a family. I am slowly getting to the mind space that I designed and built this house, I designed every stick of everything in it, it reflects me not him. My goal is to keep this home and ranch and be able to pass it on to my boys who are very emotionally invested in this property too. Time to put my energies back into my art business so I can achieve this goal.

  • This will be my first Christmas alone as my adult children want to cancel it! As they have a close friend who experienced a complete false gathering of their soon to be divorce parents for Christmas, they said it was a disaster!! My daughter is spending it with her boyfriends family and my son who has a place ticket to come home has decided to stay with friends in Europe. I filed in October. My DD was in September. Turns out there was more than a decade of deceit, lies and basically another life that he had. He claims he is in “Recovery” after rehab stay and yesterday I went to check his google history and there it was 23rd Nov on Craigslist prowling for a hook up! Left the room for instance and he then remotely cleared that date but left all other. My heart is broken and shattered, I smoked the hopium pipe for short while but now I know that I am doing the right thing for me and my children.

    • I am devastated for you. I also recognize your discovery as a gift (a crappy one, yes, but a gift.) Now you know, no sugar coating.

      Peace to you.

    • Paris–that first year is hard to navigate the holidays; it is abundantly evident that everyone feels that something is missing, despite our best attempts to compensate. Your children may have the right idea to skip Christmas this year in its usual form; regroup next year.

      But…if that leaves you alone, find something else to do–volunteer in a soup kitchen or home for the elderly, tag along with a friend. Take a hike, go to a movie. Just do not sit in the house alone; it will set you back and the first 4 month are bad enough. Hugs!

  • I agree with doing something out of the ordinary to break the mold. It is hard to entirely focus on what you are missing when you are actively seeking something fun.

    I don’t mean to suggest that anyone ignore tough feelings or try to avoid grieving. I just think we can feel other things, like joy, at the same time. Our hearts are big that way.

    Since the end of the cheater marriage, the only new holiday tradition I have formed is to refuse to feel obliged by any tradition. For the first couple of years, I cried through a fair amount of it, but I laughed, too.

    Since then, I have spent holidays in unusual places, in usual places eating unusual meals, in the homes of people outside my family… I have even spent some years foregoing mutual gifting and focusing on giving to the needy and the grieving.

    This year I am spending Xmas at the ocean with the little blended family I enjoy nowadays. I have always wanted to do that. I definitely don’t intend to spend all day on weary feet in a kitchen ignoring the surf, nor do I want that for the others, so the food plan is morphing to accommodate quality time.

    It has been very freeing to me — more so over time than it was right at first when the grief was still so fresh — to feel unbound by old ways that don’t fit my life, and not just at holiday time. Over time, I hope all of you can make peace with your own paths. I just wanted to offer a bit of social permission for those who would be relieved to let go of the reins and trust the horse to know where she is going. It has worked well for me.

    Cry, but laugh, too, and give and accept as much loving kindness as you can stand. You were made perfectly you, and you deserve the support and the love. Hang in there.

  • Good morning, fellow chumps. This is my second round of holidays after divorce, so I thought I’d contribute for the sake of the newbies here.

    Last Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was officially homeless. Had all my possessions in storage (one 8 x 10 storage locker). I was living in a combo of short-term guest house rentals and friends’ guest rooms with just a suitcase. Why? Because after being a mostly SAHM and after almost 30 years of marriage (and gaslighting, blameshifting, emotional abuse, cheating, etc.) I didn’t know what I wanted and was terrified of being dead broke and it seemed that until I figured that all out it was best not to sign a lease. It made for a very unstable season. I went to the home of relatives of a relative for the two major holidays. Was grateful for the invites, but felt like the odd duck. Definitely lost and adrift, going through the motions.

    This year, I have an absolutely lovely new home that I’m renting that I’ve been in for 10 months, the best new neighbors in the world, and enjoyed a lovely meal, post dinner games, and lots of laughter yesterday at that same home of relatives of a relative. I love to cook and host holidays, but it seems fitting that after all those years of doing all the work to prepare a huge meal and cleanup only to have the cheater criticize or disappear from any share in the work, that I should enjoy letting others do most of the work and just enjoy their generosity and kindness.

    I have planned to be gone for Christmas this year, having been invited by new friends to a barbecue on the beach in a sunny and tropical location for the holiday. I will give my children and grandchild who live locally their gifts early, and then head out to experience this new adventure. My son and his family will be joining me to share in the sunshine and new traditions. I will also be working in an orphanage and volunteering at a library while there, so I will enjoy blessing others. I also have plans to tutor students who want to learn English who do not have the money to pay for lessons. Here’s to the new cheater-free life! It doesn’t look at all like what I expected my life to look like at this stage of living, but it has its own joys and rewards.

    Hang in there, newbies! It does get better. Get those cheaters out of your life, headspace, and heart space and keep coming here for support and life lessons. CL and CN saved my sanity.

    • Finding Bliss.

      Well. You are spectacularly mighty!!
      To go from that horrible uncertainty of not even having a home to where you are now. All hail you!

      And your posts and everything that EX writes makes me just completely mystified as to why anyone would not want you in their lives.

      Is is normal to feel a huge wave of pity for the cheaters? They have lost everything, all the wonderful chumps here, children, homes, reputations, self respect – all for what????
      Don’t mistake me. I’m not suggesting we leave anything for them but our quality dust as we run far away but really WTF? What for? I really don’t get it.

      • Neither do I. Doting wife, SAHM, three normal, healthy young adult children university
        educated, mortgage free home, paid a salary more than he deserves but he cheats with the
        office slut aka gold digger. She disappears but #2 moves, in naturally. Never alone, right?

        Cap, if you ever figure out why it was worth losing everything that it took you 30 years to
        acquire, please let me know. Yes, my life is now better, thanks CL and CN, but WTF?

        • Yes, scratching my head why is it worth losing everything you spent nearly 40 years building, two fabulous kids, a loving wife and mother, tons of friends, a great social life, and a gorgeous custom home on an amazing California ranch property. Now the facade is all crumbling. It was never real. His reputation is ruined on many fronts. Ongoing lawsuit of over five years for fraud and cheating his business partners. Learned after the fact he was sued two other times last couple of years we were together, and he lost both times with staggering financial implications. He completely hid that from me too. I don’t know how the man can sleep at night. That’s extra proof that he’s a sociopath because he has no fear, no emotion, he just doesn’t give a shit. He throws it all to attorneys to take care of, charmes them, and then he doesn’t pay, so they drop him and he hires another one and strings that one along. He is now stalling paying legal bills to four separate attorneys, is deeply in Credit card And IRS back taxes debt and his credit is shot. Maybe that is why he has to live this fake life and cheat with other women. So they see him how he wants to be seen – not how he actually is. He is a very handsome charming man with a silver tongue, educated as a rocket scientist. In actuality this makes him a dangerous predator with the intelligence and social skills to hide in plain sight and seem on the surface like an amazingly great guy. I feel like I sent the Devil to Cotillion! I taught him proper manners, took him to dancing lessons and showed him how to dress well. Once I started finding out all of the financial realities and what he had done in his business dealings I was gobsmacked. Had he just done things normally and slowly and not always tried his “get rich quick scheme’s” it wouldn’t have been this way. Naïvely, I had forgiven him for a supposed “one night stand” very early on in our marriage and thought we were done with that. Joke was on me. A leopard doesn’t change his spots. I realize now he never stopped. He was always getting away with something in taking great joy in doing so. I just received a forwarded email from a friend of his that was congratulating him on “their big holiday vacation to the East Coast and living the Good Life.” WTF???? I know for a fact he’s over $100 grand in debt with attorneys alone. It’s mind blowing because it’s a completely fake life. He’s broke, driving a 12-year-old broken down truck, most of our town knows he’s a crook, and young widow Shmoopie be thinks he’s Prince Charming, even though several people have tried to warn her. You just can’t make this shit up. I finally realize I was covertly emotionally abused, Gaslighted, trauma bonded to him since I was 19, and when I read what I just wrote I am astounded that I still grieve. He doesn’t deserve one single cell in my brain to give even a thought to him. Whew.

          • Chumpchange
            Wow. I can hear your amazement in your post! I felt / feel the same. Just “who is this thing??”
            I just think we are so normal and securely wired that we actually can not get it. It’s impossible for us to even imagine how people can live like this which is also odd because I have the imagination to make up a whole person in my mind that never existed!!
            He’s a fraud a fake a pretender.
            Just inexplicable.

            • Yes Capricorn (I am a Capricorn too?!) I believe that’s how they so easily fool us real human beings who have empathy, a conscience and decent morals – we had no concept that these evil manipulative creatures even existed, and at such a frightening proportion (at very least 4%) of our population! My Gaslighter actually had me convinced that he was a man of extremely high ethics and morals. Butter wouldn’t melt and his mouth. An Officer and a Gentleman….what a Mind Fuck. Couldn’t be farther from the truth. As part of my therapy, I am asked to keep a “Him Journal” so when an abusive “ah ha” memory bubbles up from the past, I can note it briefly in the journal, about what year it happened in the marriage. ( that’s the tricky part, the marriage was 36 years, dated for two before) Very quickly it became obvious that my Gaslighter has a Pervasive and Ongoing personality disorder which is part of the diagnosis. It needs to be pervasive and ongoing. I also see that he does this crap to everybody. It was chilling at the end when I caught him in a blatant lie, and he was able to very convincingly deny it. My blood ran cold. I realized I couldn’t tell when he was lying. I got angry and said “Oh my God! You lie about absolutely everything. You’re a pathological liar! How can you live like this? And he actually answered “It’s my fatal flaw!” Wearing a sly grin of Duper’s Delight as he flopped on the chair. He actually thought he was being cute. Frightening and dangerous is what it is. This thread is helping me a lot fellow Chump’s. When you really put it all out there in writing it’s mind blowing what we’ve been subjected to. I’m so grateful to Chump Nation and Tracy for this special place to share and heal.

              • And I just love you called him a cockroach! Mine looks like one. A very handsome tall sleazy shiny cockroach! He thinks his beard makes him sexy. Hahaha! I wonder if he sees a roach in the mirror. I now do!

  • My divorce was finalized 2 days before Christmas. It was gut-wrenching. I managed to force myself to put up an itty-bitty tabletop tree – that was all I could do. My heart just was not in it. It was nothing compared to what our Xmases past had been.

    “Tradition” was that our family loaded up and went to my ex’s parents’ for Xmas Eve with all of the aunts and uncles and cousins there. That first year, my kids went and I was left completely alone. I had a total of 4 gifts to wrap and place around that pathetic tree… I cried and cried. When the kids came home that night, following our usual “family tradition”, they each chose a gift to open early which meant they each had one remaining gift to open on Xmas morning…

    The following year was a little better. Friends invited me to spend Xmas Eve with their family. I was worried about intruding or imposing on their tradition, but they reassured me that I was like family to them. I was so glad I went. I had fun with them (just as I had any other time that wasn’t labeled “Xmas”). The third year I had the kids for Thanksgiving and I spent Xmas with my brother’s family. I was fine.

    This coming Xmas will be #6 post-divorce. I moved to another state 2.5 years ago. My kids are functioning adults and have lives of their own, but this will be the 3rd Xmas that they have flown out to spend with me. They decided that all on their own. And considering that for their whole lives every Xmas was spent with their father’s large family, it certainly speaks volumes about how new traditions can become just as meaningful as and possibly more important than the old.

    Holidays are so hyped up that we place an awful lot of importance on them as “The Time” to spend with our loved ones. Unfortunately life has rough edges. Things aren’t always neat and tidy. Divorce makes that glaringly obvious, especially around the holidays and kids birthdays. I have found that changing my outlook on things has vastly improved my state of mind. I look for the positives and gains rather than what I might be missing out on. I accept that my kids are separate entities and it’s ok for them to have fun and be happy with their father and his family. I can choose to spend a holiday alone or I can make other plans and have fun myself! I can vouch that my life is especially nice without having the burden of Mr. Buzz-kill in it!!

    • Thanks, Over and Out. I’m moving into the 6th holiday season post-marriage too. My kids are younger, so some of my challenges are different than yours, but I so admire your attitude and choices. Your post inspires me.

      • I empathize with you having younger kids. Mine were teens at the time of my divorce. It was hard then, but I can only imagine how difficult it is with younger children who are not old enough to understand and have a different set of fears, etc. Hugs to you Eilonwy! The things my kids remember about holidays are the special things that I did with them when they were little (making cutout cookies, decorating the house, shopping for special gifts for others, waking up to find Santa’s footprints on the carpet, etc). My narc ex did not contribute in those areas… He was too busy making his own xmas list to be bothered with parenting…

  • CL, you response is both hilarious and thought provoking. That is not unusual, I guess, as you do that veery day!!! But it heals me just a bit more every time I read your work. And I never miss. Thank you, you exceptional one!

    LimboLand, you are way beyond ‘adequate’. You are on the border of MIGHTY. You have your three boys, you’ve somehow kept the divorce process amicable (who can do that???? with cheating cluster Bs??????), you have supportive friends and church community and neighbours who like you so much that they adore helping you, you are doing the entire parenting business single handedly (I can hardly look after myself sometimes), you have provided a roof and food!

    Okay, CN. Let’s vote! Amazing? I vote YES!

    Last Christmas was my first without MoFaux, his kids, his FOO, his plans, his ideas of how it should be, his expectations of my performance feeding 25 people. I was alone in my Salvation Army decorated apartment (!!) with three small presents. One from his son (whom I adore), one from his daughter (who is neutral towards me) and one from my therapist’s clinic (yes!!!!!!). I touched them every day for days and felt so grateful, even though I usually had many, many gifts. I savoured them.

    And a lady I knew (not well) invited me to her home for dinner with her grown kids, their kids and her husband. OMG! I did NOT want to be in that situation. The thought of it gagged me.

    I accepted!

    And I gave gifts to older people in my building that I knew by name. And hosted them for treats and wine one afternoon. That was very rewarding to me. Very!

    There was not one hassle that day. The therapy office gave me socks, a comb, mouthwash, a toothbrush, and about 12 other things! It was hysterical and perfect and I marvelled. And my financial advisor (who is adorable, smart and entertaining) sent me a wondrous table centrepiece that smelled divine. And dinner was exceptional ~~ wonderful food, endless laughter, actual Joy. My new friend said it was their best Christmas in years, even though some had voiced reservations about having a ‘stranger’ in their midst that day!!

    Why on earth am I telling you this? I’m trying to explain, in my addled way, that everything might be different but it can be remarkably so. You will be provided for. I did not have any plan. I was quite without hope. But I experienced the true meaning of it all in such surprising ways. And you will, too. Sending Love & Laughter, ? V

    • Wonderful story, Virago.
      You touched his kids and they thought of you way beyond those gifts. You are missed.

      • Ahhh, Enraged, that comment really touched my shrivelled heart!!! Thank you.

        I loved your contribution below at 3:22pm where you tell about all of the people who showed you that they cared about you. That you matter. You very much do!! V

  • I never really gave a flying fuck about the Thanksgiving to New Years season anyway. My FOO is fucked, and I don’t have kids. So I am glad to be single and cheater free. Live to fight another day. That’s what this stupid fucking shit-show year is all about.

    • Hey!!
      You are my early Christmas present to myself this year!! I don’t know what it is about you but I just feel better when you are around like having a big brother that’s not afraid of anything or anyone and says it like it is (is that ok to say?). I think the word is bracing!!
      I’m imagining you as a Santa for cheaters checking your lists. Hahahahaha. Any video thing for this?

    • “Live to fight another day”. Ian you have a tremendous amount of fight in you like most of us. From what I can gather most if not all families are f’ed. Some just seem to be more functional than others. Since being discarded by my family and by that I mean my 2 children and ex husband I have not celebrated a birthday, mother’s day, Easter, Christmas, anything and I am not acknowledged on these occasions. The reason I have chosen this isolation for myself at certain times is because I choose it. It is easier for me to be on my own than to be reminded of what I think I have lost. Don’t get me wrong because I do receive invitations but I prefer to stay home. Can I ask you Ian, do you have some male friends who you know and hang out with? You sound lonely to me which is only natural. Sorry if I am asking you for too much information but you really do come across as a top bloke to me.

    • Ian

      “Live to fight another day. That’s what this stupid fucking shit-show year is all about.”

      And fight we must, each and every day. Once I shifted to fighting for myself it became clear the playing field was lopsided. Even that shit out. Live better Ian and take care of yourself always.

    • Ian…DUDE! What the hell?

      I sense that you are much younger than me…like my sons ages…both of my sons have been through this shit storm way before me…so…they got it way before I did and tried to get me to understand what the hell was going on…still took me a hot minute…but, I got it…FINALLY.

      Ok…enough of the back story…

      Do NOT let this holiday get you down Ian…its all about selling turkeys and such. Movin the economy…yep… Just another day sloggin through the rubble of life after UNenjoyment of divorce. You got this.

      You have been a bright light for me since you got here Ian. …I don’t like that light going off…so turn that baby back on please! And Thank You.

      Sooo…on to sharing your awesome self with others in your community and flashin that, more than likely, heart stopping smile with others that need lifted out there? Yep! Bet you a dollar to a donut you will save souls! Giddy Up! 😀

      Jeep and Beau

    • Thanks, Capricorn. You are doing great. Your clever posts and cheerful support of the newcomer chumps is so welcome.

      Maree – I have had a number of days in the past year where you kind words have repeated in my head and brought me great comfort. Thanks again for your concern.

      Jeep-Tess – always a pleasure to hear from you too. You are such a riot! I do have a lot of love and laughs to give, but I come here when I feel compelled to complain about how things are going with my divorce.

      Match Girl is making this a painful as possible for me. I won’t be divorced before the end of the year. I don’t want to go into detail, but she just doesn’t want any consequences. I refuse to let her off easy. It makes me a bit of a laggard in a way because most of y’all are divorced. I am not.

      I have spent a lot of time on this site. I have decided to spend most of my time trying to be funny, and support newcomers. Other than that, we don’t have a lot in common. (We may, but it’s outside the scope of this site.) So I sometimes get a little bitchy. It’s just who I am. Nobody in the real world has time for my bleating after a year – you feel me?

      And, no. I don’t have a good support network built up yet. We moved so many times in the last five years, and I was the trailing spouse. I don’t get on with other dudes because of my radical feminist ideology. Add in the fact that I fear for my Republic; I am a walking fountain of hate for women; 80 percent of the people my age have children at home; and most find that I am not great company sometimes. It’s slow going, but it is better without her. Okay? It’s *so much* better.

      • Ian–as painful and dragged out as this is, I hail your decision to make sure the evil wench MG has consequences. For inspiration, I give you Churchill’s “We will never surrender” speech:

        (and you know you have a very strong support chorus here; complain away.)

      • Ian, you don’t have to ‘ try to be funny”. You are funny.And for someone who describes himself as a fountain of hate for women, you are often very supportive and inspiring.Bitch away mate, you’re entitled to it. Sorry to hear things are dragging out. I found making a voodoo doll and sticking pins in it very soothing.

        • I’m also disappointed you are having troubles, Ian.

          Moominnmamma – ‘I found making a voodoo doll and sticking pins in it very soothing.’
          I still want to get one . .

          However, Ian – how about a puppy? Amazing therapy. Not sure it would work for your family, but dogs don’t always come along at the right time but they can save the moment. Just something to think about.
          You haven’t really said recently what is going on . . . ?

      • Ian,

        I feel ya, yep. There is nothing fun or happy about high conflict divorce from a disordered, soul sucking, empathy challenged narc, nope, NOTHING. So, yeah, I feel ya. It took almost 3 years for my divorce to be final, so, no, you are not being a laggard. You get one shot at this, take your best shot and leave no stone unturned. Protect yourself and your future self. You will heal and you will go on with your bad self and you will thrive! Trust me on this.

        Someday you will thank your lucky stars for this experience. I know that is hard to imagine right now but it is true. This experience will enlighten you in ways that will make the rest of your life better, brighter and, yes its true, MORE AWARE. Not only will you value yourself more, you will value others and everything more. You will find joy in even simple pleasures, that, until now you will realize, you took for granted cause you were FEEDING THE NARC and not yourself. No more! AND you will NEVER EVER allow ANYONE to take you for granted EVER AGAIN. 🙂 Yep, its true! The minute THE VERY MINUTE you feel like an option and not a priority YOU WILL WALK AWAY. Poof! Gone! 🙂

        I highly suggest getting a kite. 🙂 And a Beau. 🙂 Kar Marie is correct, pets are the best anti depressants on the planet! …and kites! 🙂


        • I am 45, Jeep. A wizened old bachelor! I forgot you had to spend three years getting divorced. So much pain here and so many stories. And then so much hope when somebody survives. Most people trundle on to the next phase, but it’s people like you, Tess, and many others (y’all know who you are) that keep coming back. And you are right, Jeep, I will never allow anyone to take me for granted again. If you are anything like me you were deeply in love with your spouse, and you never imagined how evil they could become in the divorce. I guess I am a little jealous of those that are already divorced. She’s the albatross I carry that make the journey that much more difficult for now.

          You are right, Shechump, I need a new pup. When she stole my dog it broke my heart more than when that bitch left 😉 I’ll get a dog soon enough. I still don’t know my housing situation after the new year, so it’s complicated.

          But kites! Yes!

          • Ian,

            Your day of freedom is coming. And all of CN will celebrate with you when it does. Hang tough, friend.

            • Ian,

              OOOOO Baby! Gotta get me one o those giant kites!!! Whooohooo!!!!

              Okay…you are a little bit older than my sons. But you still got this!

              Yes, I loved satan with my entire being…woulda died for that disordered ass…almost did. Thankfully I survived. I remember I weighed just under 90 pounds…it was like I was melting away or something…horrible. Horrible to feel that bad day after day after day! It was unrelenting. I didn’t think it would ever stop…that I would ever feel better again. Normal was so out of reach…

              But, I made it! And you will too! When you are finally able to close this last chapter you will feel like a mountain has been lifted off your shoulders!

              While you are involved in the legalities of high conflict divorce your life feels so ‘up in the air’ it is hard to even just get through the days…you can’t make plans for anything more than ‘dinner’ or ‘just this day’ or whatever. Nothing ‘long term’ cause you don’t know what you are gonna have to work with, or where to work from. Once it is all over you can begin to make a new plan for your life. One that will evolve over time to suit ONLY YOU. And you will be the master of the design. And you will choose who gets to be a part of it and who doesn’t fit anymore. It can be a very wonderful time in your life…its just sometimes hard to feel wonderful about it cause you’ve been forced here…but, that too will pass and you WILL start to enjoy it and it will begin to feel like you must actually be in Heaven! 🙂

              No more drama! No more chaos! No more WTF just happened?! No more wondering where they are or who they are with! NO MORE HELL ON EARTH! 🙂 Just aaaaaaaaa 🙂 …like the most soothing balm for your aching soul you can imagine 🙂 I PROMISE!

              …get flippin EXCITED Ian 🙂 It’s comin on! SAYIN!

              • You give me hope, too : ) I love the sound of everything you’re describing and look forward to that someday. Ian – and all of us – deserve nothing less! Thank you for the encouraging words!!

              • You are awesome too Mary!

                The other chumps are right, it is a struggle for a while. So please do take very good care of yourself! I am almost 2 years from my divorce and about 5 years from dday…I struggled for a good long time. But it truly does get better.

                Come here to learn about No Contact / Limited Contact, that will empower you and help you achieve clarity.

                Please take very good care of yourself.

  • My first Christmas after D-day was 6 years ago. My 2 boys left bright and early Christmas day and I was all alone. I endured the quiet for a few hours and later went to a movie. I thought I’d be the only loser there but to my surprise, the theatre was packed. By the time the movie was over, I had killed over 2.5 hours and Christmas day was almost over. I don’t remember, but I’m sure there were plenty of tears. For the last 5 Christmas Days I’ve been invited to my BFF’s house for Christmas dinner and it has become a wonderful, loving tradition. My boys, now in their late teens, don’t really enjoy being with their dad so they cut out early and come to my friend’s house and all 4 of the kid’s leave around 8 pm to go to the movie theatre.

    Yes, it sucks, it’s lonely, it’s fucking PAINFUL but I promise you, it gets better. I really don’t think cheaters are as happy as they pretend to be, especially during the holidays. Most of them are in a truly pathetic/dependent state and they *know* it. I know for a fact that my cheater XH is not happy with his life, even after all these years. He looks like shit, he doesn’t have much money left after he pays child support, and the kids could take him or leave him. The the first year of our divorce, he begged me to take him back, he still tells people that he made the biggest mistake of his life. I’ve never said that, I’ve been sad and mad but leaving him was the best thing I’ve done for me and my boys!!

    • I have never once regretted divorcing my ex either. Best decision I ever made! I did a lot of crying in the beginning because I felt so violated and used after everything I had invested (mentally, physically, financially) over 2 decades… BUT I’m not wasting any more of my precious life with someone like him. Not worth it.

      • Over and Out, I can attest to the feeling of exhaustion. When DDay #2 came for me, I just felt so fucking tired that every fiber of my being felt that it is just DONE. No more taking this crap.

        It has been a year out and I still feel exhausted when I realized the mental and emotional abuse I spackled the hell of to survive and maintain the image of our relationship.

        I wish to get my strength back once I get over the last hurdle which is filing for divorce.

        • I needed to wake up to this, three weeks in for me. Exhausted, working and dealing with kids 100 percent.
          Terrible dreams last night about him and my heart just aches.
          The love is going though being replaced with disappointment, hurt and occasional anger.
          My kids are dragging their asses around and my heart feels their pain.
          13 years of dealing with his less than effort for me and our kids and this is the thanks I get.
          I think it was a deliberate act to hurt me to the core as he knows how strong I am.

  • My XH was always miserable during the holidays, so while the first Christmas was rough, it was relief to have the curmudgeon gone. Here are a few hard learned suggestions.

    1) Your new life is a as divorced person. Let that sink it. Surprise, this means your kids have 2 Christmases. This means YOU do not spend time with your X or X’s family for the sake of the kids. YOU practice no contact as much as possible.

    2) Let go of the idea that there is a single time to celebrate (i.e., Europeans celebrate on the 24th and North Americans on the 25th).

    3) Say ‘no thank you’ to any events/gatherings that feel, well, uncomfortable and frankly weird.

    4) Go for a walk everyday. This helped me stay sane and reduce my anxiety.

    5) Get dressed and get out of your house for at least an hour a day. Get a coffee. Go skating. Just get out.


  • “Divorce is not failure. Cheating is failure.”

    This is important to remember and internalize. Our society and–wrongfully–faith communities often suggests otherwise, but reality is this is truth.

    The divorce is the public and official acknowledgement of the cheater’s character failure.

    • DM, when my ex husband told me that he had filed for divorce I just died inside and I actually said to him, “I feel like a failure”. He could not look at me but he commented that he didn’t. Sums it up !! I was the loyal, loving non-cheater but I carried all the blame for the failure of my marriage but not any longer.

      • I know you are not alone in having felt that way. Often, it takes time for what we know–or learn–to be true cognitively to register in our hearts.

  • New chumps: trust what you’ve heard here – holidays really do get much better! But YOU need to DECIDE that it’s better.

    I made a really conscious decision on my first cheater-free Christmas (last year) to put my kids first in all things. So I asked how they wanted to spend the holiday. Turned out they wanted to spend Christmas Eve and Day with ex’s relatives. Gulp…. But I smiled and said, “No problem!” And I made it happen. There was no stress, because there was no fight from me. I decided to give it up willingly. (As was suggested before, I “got to” give up the stress of Christmas Day. Yay!

    The result has been the creation of a fantastic new tradition. I now have ‘Christmas’ with my kids on Dec 23 and it’s wonderful because we do it our way. No interference from anyone. We enjoy fondue, open gifts, and spend time with friends instead of cranky relatives. I can say I truly enjoy this more than hanging out with ex’s family.

    While alone on Christmas eve, I pampered myself with a pedicure, put together a “repair my soul” plan for the upcoming year, and shared a steak dinner with a special friend who was also alone for the holiday. It was great night because I made it so.

    The added bonus of this arrangement? Giving up Christmas gave me excellent leverage with my ex for the rest of the holiday season. I picked up my kids on the 27th and took them skiing in the Rockies for New Years. Honestly, we enjoyed the whole season so much, that I’m doing the exact same plan this year.

    Always remember who is in charge of your happiness. It’s YOU.

  • The first holiday I spent without my husband and daughter was just after Christmas and lasted about a week through New Year’s Day. They went to the home of his AP about 200 miles away. (She was ideal for him because he could go visit her and she would wait on him and audition without the glitter wearing off too quickly.) The week was just time to get through and was very hard but I did things to pamper myself. Then on New Years eve I made a list of all the complaints and responsibilities and nasty habits I no longer had to deal with. I burned the list in the fireplace, and made a list of things he could no longer keep me from doing just for me. I played beautiful music, watched the fire and burned beautiful scented candles in the dark. I realized that you only notice the light when you are in the midst of the dark. It was actually an evening that was more pleasant than any I had spent in a long time. When my daughter came back she told me about how he had lectured the AP and her family about playing Canasta the right way. Made me laugh! The years since then have been so much better.
    By the time he had left I felt like a line drawing of who I had once been. I am now a joyous person with an awareness of what I had to offer people. I am truly grateful that she took him off my hands!

  • I spent a lot of years trying to become an organized linear thinker because that was what he was and thought I should be. I never accomplished that, because I could only be a poor copy of what I was never intended to be. I have since learned to value the creative person I am. I distract easily, so I start a lot of projects that don’t always get finished. But I actually complete far more than he ever did. I couldn’t see that when I was in the midst of all of the “stuff”.

  • I always try to remember that Christmas is “just one day.” And that doesn’t mean that it’s a sad day but it’s one day and not a life. I am a few years out from Dday so I have great compassion for those new to this. It’s difficult for sure and I hope you have some nice moments planned for yourself. I was a bit scared, nervous for the first Christmas alone but it turned out to be lovely. It was quiet, peaceful, I spent it with friends and we exchanged gifts. I cooked a delicious turkey. I can honestly say it was one of the nicest Christmas days I have had.

    I’m relieved not to have to spend Christmas with cheater or his family. We always had Christmas with them, rushing around and boring conversation at the table. I don’t miss Mr. Grumpy cheater and his comments on my decorations or gift buying. Now I decorate the way I want to, wrap as many (or few) gifts as I chose. It’s actually very pleasant and I look forward to the Holiday again. I do miss my daughter when she is not here, but I know she’ll be back and we will celebrate the season our way, together without the doom and gloom of that mean-spirited cheater.

    To those spending their first Christmas newly divorced or without their children, I send you big hugs and know that you are brave and good. Be gentle with yourself.

  • Christmas. I don’t know. I’m sure it will be like Thanksgiving, go to my families then I go to work and my kids go home. Fucktard has them on Christmas Eve. I know he will be spending Christmas day with CF and his and her families. That hurts so much more then I thought it would.

    So. I just need to learn to disengage. I need to learn to embrace change. I need to learn to celebrate the new life with new choices. Hopefully I will be applying to allied health colleges. I’m afraid that I fucked up a class and won’t be able to . I don’t know. Cheaters suck.

    • Calm.

      No question that this all hurts like nothing else. I’m not sure of your story sorry. I know you often post lovely comments and I love your name.
      One thing that jumped out at me from what you said is the pressure you are putting on yourself. You don’t ‘need’ to do anything but be very gentle with yourself right now. You are perfect the way you are, that fact that your fuckwit didn’t see that is his problem not yours.
      Have you read the Desiderata? I love reading it. Calms me down. If you are kind to yourself, easy on yourself, loving towards yourself then you will change, you will disengage, you will celebrate a new life and will make new choices. It will all come to you if you put your own arm around yourself and hug.
      As to the class. Worst case yes it got messed up, you can’t apply as you thought. But there are a million ways to skin a cat. You are a chump which means a decent loving person who trusted and got hurt. But we chumps are survivors.
      Determine what YOU want YOUR xmas to look like this year. If I didn’t have kids I would spend the day sipping champagne, wearing my fav pjs with my fav fluffy slippers eating whatever whenever watching some Nordic noir thrillers on tv. I would read and put the fire on and dance around a bit have a pamper session for myself and stay up way too late.
      ITS YOUR LIFE. OWN IT. FIND YOUR GROOVE. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE….? We already have lost so much. Don’t let the fuckers run off with your soul. Fight for you. FIGHT HARD. we love you here. ❤️

      • Capricorn, thank you for these kind words – they resonate with me as well. I am reading here today because the holiday season is the beginning of the nightmare unfolding and my whole world came tumbling down a year back. Every memory is still fresh – like it just happened yesterday. I’ve been trying to keep busy with decorating our house with upcycled Christmas ornaments. Still, the feelings of loneliness manages to creep in at times. I feel like CN is like our warm camp fire on a cold holiday night. To me, you are all comrades who have fought in the same war and we all share this incredible journey towards healing.

        So here’s to a toast for the CN community – to good health, authentic relationships and a rich life that is free from the disordered!

  • I broke my foot once and my Pastor told the people of the Church to ask me what they could do to help. I kind of sank down in my seat in embarrassment, because asking for help was not something I was able to do. One woman I knew slightly came up to me and gave me her phone number. And she told me, “don’t deprive me of a blessing by not calling me.” I had never thought of it that way before. I was always ready to help others. And I enjoyed doing so. But it also works the other way. So don’t be afraid to ask others. They need to be needed too.
    2 days later 17 people came over to my house and did yard work that had needed done for ages. Some of them were people I didn’t even know. I think more work was accomplished that day than my husband had done in years.
    My life is filled with anticipation these days. I am seeing so many things I never knew I was capable of. God also seems to connect me to people in need of encouragement. I have a life of joy and hope.

  • I’m in the same place as LimboLand, but I’m not exactly alone. I managed to escape the hell I went through and now I landed at my parents. My son will have a lovely Christmas, as everyone of my family will be around for him. God bless him and everyone in our life!

    But I think this whole experience – divorcing a cheater – is about much more. “Build a tribe” says Chump Lady. I was thinking along the same lines. This stage we are in, teaches us and forces us to connect with people. People in our shoes or simply people around us. Not everyone can “get” what it feels like, but anyone who has a shred of empathy can see we need support. Even a shoulder to cry on, a joke to brighten our day, a casserole, a walk, a talk.

    Through this, I made friends I never thought I would. A pair of old folks, who babysit my son for a good price. We didn’t even speak the same language, but we all tried. 🙂
    A mother with her own hectic schedule. Just a short talk, a cup of tea and wishes. It meant a lot.
    These people saw me in distress and offered what they could. And now I know to whom I’ll send my Christmas cards – not to fake friends on Facebook who still keep him in their circle!
    Building connections takes time. And I think it also opens our eyes to other people’s needs.

    LimboLand, today accept that helping hand. Make friends. Re-build yourself. Return a helping hand tomorrow to someone else. And don’t worry about labels such as “single mom”. You’re a hero! Ask around, they’ll tell you.

  • I haven’t had time to read everyone’s response about how to get through Christmas (and other special family occasions), but thought I would share what has happened for me. On my first Christmas I was alone. Both my boys were away working and I knew it would be hard. So, I invited two girlfriends for dinner. They had been on their own for years and has spent many Christmas’ just the two of them. They were happy to come and it did help, though inside I was crying the whole day. The next couple of Christmas’ I was invited to friends for dinner and that helped too, but it wasn’t quite where I really felt I wanted to be. Their families were lovely, but I felt somehow outside. Then two years ago, my boys returned, one with a new wife. They are now here for Christmas and we started a new tradition. They (along with several of their friends) and I serve Christmas dinner at the homeless shelter. We go there early in the day and then when we get home, our turkey is cooked and we get to have a wonderful meal together and share stories of the people we met that day. We laugh and just enjoy being together. Their father is always with someone different each Christmas and I presume goes to their family for dinner and we don’t seem to miss him at all (at least I don’t, the boys never say anything about their dad). Christmas is now a time of serving, sharing, loving and I wouldn’t change it in any way. It took time to get to this place, and I couldn’t have made it happen through force of will. It just evolved to something beautiful. Sometimes we have to go through some really tough stuff before the good stuff starts to happen.

    • Finally
      I love the idea of this “and I couldn’t have made it happen through force of will. It just evolved to something beautiful.”
      There is a lot about acceptance and trusting that everything has a time and place in that statement and I love that.
      Thank you.

  • I remember that first Christmas after X moved out, five years ago today. The next month was one of the low points of my entire life. My mum was in a care home, deep in dementia, X’s family cut me off completely (my X m-i-l’s contribution to my Christmas was a notice saying that she had cancelled a magazine subscription she had gifted me for years), my wonderful neighbours of of twenty years had moved away, my sons had huge issues and two of them moved in with X (who was, unbeknownst to me, living with OW), I had just been diagnosed as severely diabetic. A week before Christmas I was on the phone with my sister and I started to cry, huge great sobs just tearing out of me. I couldn’t stop. I felt so alone. It was like being in a cold, dark hell and I didn’t think the light would ever come again.

    That solstice I sat alone in the darkness, the only bit of colour my Christmas cactuses blooming abundantly in the kitchen windows. I wrote and wrote and wrote, got it all out. I was so sad but at some point I remember thinking this is a beginning. You can start again. I didn’t really believe it but I just keep it in my head.

    Five years later and I am going to meet up with one son in Amsterdam on Christmas Day. I’ll celebrate the week before with my other two sons, a nice dinner out after a concert. My kids are happy and healthy and working hard to get to where they want to be. I have a lovely place to live, light and clean and welcoming. I am healthy, active and sleep well. The Elderly Cat, who saw me through all this, is contentedly retired in the new place. I have new friends, new activities, new supports. My family is much smaller now, but loved and loving.And my holidays so much better.

    There are only two constant things I do in December now. One is to write down all the blessings of the year and on the Winter Solstice I go down by the ocean and release them to the water. I sit and meditate on all the joy that has come to me, look forward to the new year, and give thanks. The other thing is to go to Midnight Mass where ever I happen to be.

    Every year I give thanks for CN and CL. When I found this place in 2012 it was truly the crack in my world that let the light in. Every year after that has been better, easier and more joyful. I would have never believed this life possible five years ago.

    New chumps, it will get better. This year let it go. Take it easy. Give yourself permission. Forget all the gifts, the frantic entertaining, the obligations, the expectations. Do want YOU want to do for a change – spend a morning eating cereal with the kids and playing monopoly. Put on a sad old movie and get the hankies out and cry when you are alone and sad. Make a bowl of stuffing for Christmas dinner and eat it all yourself. Walk, write, binge watch Netflix, sleep in. Read the CL archives all night. Ignore texts and emails from people you no longer want in your life. Don’t go to anything you don’t want to go to. But do go places you really want to go.

    As chumps we spend our lives caring for everyone but ourselves. This Christmas, treat yourself well for a change. It will get better. It will.

    • I SO needed this! What a huge blessing these words are to me, Newmeme. You lived it. Thanks so much for sharing this hope (and permission to grieve) with us first-year chumps and chumpdomkind.

      • Never and Cap (((((((hugs))))))) to you, and to all the newbie chumps out there. So happy that my words help, and that I can pay back a little bit for all the wonderful wisdom I have found here in CN.

  • The sentence that brought me up short was the one about the scorecard, about expecting favours to come with a price. My ex has been extremely nice and helpful to me lately and I have been scanning the horizons for the catch- there will be one, he’s going to want something.Thank you for the reminder that that degree of suspicion only applies to him, not to normal people who show kindness.My favourite post split Christmas moment came 4 years ago when XH took my daughters interstate to visit his parents, and OW2, for Christmas. I had my goddaughter staying with me and we were sitting around in pyjamas reading. He rang to tell me that my eldest daughter had gastroenteritis, then he put her on the phone. Her little voice said ” I threw up on OW2’s couch, Mummy”.”Poor honey” I was saying, ” there there”, while doing a victory dance , with my goddaughter looking at me doing the WTF expression. It was a white couch, apparently. OW2 made my ex pay to have it cleaned.

    • LOL, my cat threw up on exassholes couch twice before the settlement was done, for the record, the cats had never done that on any other piece of furniture. Anyhow, I didn’t see any reason to clean it for him, hope he appreciated a little memento from the cat.

  • Anyone have a crazy/funny story from your first Christmas after shedding the asshole? Maybe there was something you never got to do at the holiday and you finally did it? I’d love to hear them! I’m not good at funny stories but I’ll give it a whirl.

    Backstory, I got my kitten (against his wishes) and subsequently got him one because my kitten didn’t want to have anything to do with him (that cat didn’t hang with him either!). So kittens were in the house, exasshole argued successfully that we should not put up a tree that year. They would destroy my ornaments, knock it down, etc. Somehow, he kept stopping the tree every year thereafter, I won’t go into the manipulations, suffice to say I didn’t have a tree for years and he knew very well that the TREE was my main happiness at Christmas. I love the tree, it is my favorite thing! in fact it’s usually so dead before I take it down there is a fire hazard…LOL

    Anyhow, the first Christmas after getting his ass out the house I went and got a tree, had it drilled for my spike and when I got it home it was drilled very badly. The damn thing was listing way far over. I got out the drill and it was dead, grrrrr. I could not find the charger or the cord (he always lost crap), grrrr. I tried to wind and unwind it on the spike, grrrrr. I finally called my friend nextdoor to help and that’s when hilarity ensued. We tried all kinds of crap. Finally, She tells me to just do this, she is sure she can get this thing straight and we did! Except the the trunk split (who knew a 100 lb woman could exert that much force on a tree?). So now it wouldn’t stand up at all, BUT, we were not going to be defeated!

    That’s when we remembered, DUCK TAPE fixes most everything!!!!!

    With much cussing and a lot of needles in our hair we managed to duck tape that sucker up pretty near straight on the spike. Decorating it was a um, delicate matter, heh.

    That was the most beautiful tree I’ve ever had.

    PS: if you ever need to tape a Christmas tree trunk I recommend Gorilla tape, that’s what I’ll use if it ever happens again.

    PSS: since that year I take my spike stand to the nursery and make the dudes put the tree on it before I take it home. They think I’m insane, even more so when I have them load the tree in the corvette. One of em told me last time it was sacrilege to put a tree in a vette.

    • Love this! There is something so remarkably badass about being committed to having that tree. And about now carrying one home each year in a Corvette. Awesome and mighty.

    • Hey Dat–Great story!! Love the image of a tree decorated with duct tape to hold it to the wall.

      P.S. it might be sacrilege to put your friends in the trunk, too, just sayin’ ; ).

      • Oh no! We didn’t duck tape it to the wall, we were seriously crazy, we duck taped it around the spike of the tree holder.

        PS: who me, put my friend in the trunk? ; )

  • How do we get through the holidays?

    The holidays were painful the first year. I imagined him having a life as I mourned the loss betrayal forces upon us.

    The next year was much better as it gave me time to heal further. I was able to shift my focus from what I lost to what I gained. Instead of seeing his life through the lens of a new and wonderful life I saw him chalking up the consequences of leading a double life.

    Now he’s in the rear view mirror as a speck of darkness. I no longer hate or miss him. He has lost the centrality or power over me. I will be picking up my tree tonight with my amazing son. We will decorate it with my granddaughter later on.

    It’s a process. It gets better. There are lows however in the end we gain.

  • This resonated with me:
    I don’t want to be known as “the single mom” of the neighborhood, but I will be.

    I, too, never wanted to be the single mom. And it didn’t take me long to figure out why. In my case–and I can’t speak for anyone else–it was because I had long held a very ignorant and unkind impression of divorced and single moms. I have been honest here–I was once a smug married woman. Divorce was for other people who were not as, hmmm, selective as I had been, who were probably immature, or, say, unskilled at relationships. My parents, you see, were still married, and *I* existed in a demographic of people who have a lower rate of divorce. I mean, you might have to take a few steps back because that smug is REPULSIVE. That’s on me. I stand here before you, exposing my meanness. I’m ashamed.

    Then, in the blink of an eye, I was divorced single mom. One fell swoop of karma came in and I had a lesson to learn. (To be clear, karma isn’t why X cheated, that I know. But my naked shame was exposed in the process.)

    And the funny thing is, it took me years to really see myself as such. I’d think “single mom” and still it didn’t resonate with me, and I would catch myself and be reminded that *I* was a divorced single mom. I hated the d-word. I hated wearing it. I didn’t want to give off the “wrong” impression. But, there was no denying the truth. I would be judged as I had judged others.

    Another twist of irony–The Coward revered the strength and dignity of a struggling single mom, like his own. I had long admired her, as well, but still I think I had a bit of an air of superiority, as *I* had it all figured out, and I was in the married class of people. And there IS privilege there, being part of the couples’ scene, having an intact family (CL is right–single-parent families ARE intact and they are families). There is something lovely about using the words “my husband” (now this is OW’s privilege) or hearing said husband call me “my wife.” Unlike The Coward’s mom, I got child support for a few years, and I had a great job out of the gate so never had to struggle financially like his mom did–and struggle doesn’t begin to describe the heavy weight of poverty, loneliness, and condescension she endured. Therefore, in The Coward’s eyes, I didn’t deserve the honor of being stoic and smart like his Single Mom, and he resented any sympathy or veneration that came my way from such a designation. It angered him that he was the villain (I told everyone!) I think that in his eyes, this was an unfortunate win for me. But I didn’t want the title, anyway. It was given to me against my will.

    I worried about my social standing, and that of my children. I was now 3rd or 5th wheel seemingly everywhere I went. In fact, like many here, I had long been de-facto single at countless kids’ activities after The Coward had grown tired of being Attentive Soccer Coach Dad, and years before I was aware of any cheating. Either he was at work or it was his day off–either way, he couldn’t or wouldn’t attend kids’ activities. Nonetheless, I was still married, and the kids’ dad–my husband–was still as real as the ring on my finger. But after divorce, I could no longer pass off The Coward’s absence as a minor schedule conflict. My ring finger was unadorned. And, now I was the Divorced Single Mom. And I hated it. I swallowed bitter humiliation and smiled anyway. What’s another shit sandwich.

    I vowed to make everyone wonder who would leave someone like me. I smiled a lot. I joked a lot. I was present for all (as much as possible) of my kids’ events. I stood tall. In a dress and mascara. I reminded myself that The Coward’s shtupping and rooting of some home-wrecking whore was NOT my shame, and I made it my goal to prove it. Whereas he was sour and haggard-looking, I remained cool and fresh, at least in public. I over-compensated on social media.

    I think the thing I’m most proud of now is that I joined the ranks of ass-kicking, smart-as-hell, strong-as-fuck SINGLE PARENTS. I especially admire those who make do with far less for far longer than I had to. I grew compassion and insight as a result of The Coward’s big reveal. I am NOT a married mom in an apron with a white picket fence. I’m her single-mom counterpart. I learned that my circle is FULL of people who are WAY kinder and wiser than I ever was, people who embraced me and my kids and who showed us real love and humanity. Suddenly I was surrounded by single moms, for whom I had a new-found respect, and they offered me understanding. I had no idea. Many married women and men proved themselves to be waaaaaaay more benevolent than I ever expected, given my own prejudices. A few had survived infidelity themselves, to remarry–they were warriors and gave me great advice. They embraced me. I don’t know that I deserved any of it, but I am grateful. I am ashamed that ever felt the way I did, but I admit I was ignorant. I like to think that I am reformed or reforming, at least, and that this is one more silver lining in the way my marriage ended. I am trying.

    I want to share a quote from Redbook magazine that I read just a few weeks ago that made me cry in the middle of LAX airport as I waited, alone, to board a flight home after visiting my son. While I would never presume to know the pain of being a single black mom, the quote stung me right in my judgementalism, and simultaneously made me proud to have earned a new-found appreciation and respect for the author, actress Taraji P. Henson:

    Like my mother before me, I made the difficult decision to cut off that romantic relationship with the father of my child, not just for my sake, but also for that of my baby boy. With that separation, my forever man, my first love was no more and my dream of building a family with him was over. In so many judgmental eyes, I’d become another statistic: a baby mama. But my becoming a single mother was about making a sound parenting decision that would ultimately save our lives.

    Of course, choosing to be a single mother, even under such dire circumstances, still opened me up to some severe criticism. The common-held assumption used to be that if there’s no diamond on the ring finger of the hand pushing the baby stroller, the mother attached to it must be an irresponsible lazy ass who got pregnant by accident (or on purpose so she could live off the government), and the poor baby in said stroller is either a mistake, a statistic or a paycheck. Hardly anyone ever considers that the children of black single mothers are made from love—that we care deeply about our babies and, like any mother with a heart that beats and a mind that is reasonably right, want the very best for them. Hell, even the president of the United States—four of them, in fact—were raised by single mothers.

    Nevertheless, mention that you’re a single mom, and all-too-many of us still have to cut through a thick, gristly layer of stigma before we’re given our proper due. The grace and understanding for the familial choices of married women is a given. The humanity of single moms comes with asterisks, ridicule and judgmental questions.

    I never saw my baby as a roadblock to my goals or a strike against my ability to do exactly what I planned to do with my life; I simply started planning and dreaming about ways I would get what I wanted out of life while I had a baby on my hip. Having my son gave me a laser-sharp focus. That is the miracle of single motherhood: it is not easy to raise a human being with a partner, but doing so alone requires a Herculean effort that is all muscle and grit, built up with repetitive sets of sacrifice. Whatever you gain, whatever you earn, you give to your baby and you work triple hard to show your child—not anyone else—that moving forward, no matter how tiny the steps, is possible. This is a single mother’s love.

    Be proud of being your best. Anyone who judges you for being a single mom really doesn’t have a clue. Have mercy on their ignorance, and if they’re in a great marriage, bless them. If they’re kinder than I am, I have nothing but respect.

    • Stephanie, thank you for this beautiful post.
      I was a “smug married” too for 16 years before I found out I was going to be a single mom.
      When I unexpectedly learned the news, I was one month shy of 40, with a week-old baby at the breast and a toddler in tow. I felt like such a failure. One of the things I am most grateful for in my life is how my divorce, though not my fault in the least, had the effect of humbling me and making me a more compassionate, less judgmental, and much kinder person.

      • MissDeltaGirl–
        Don’t you just cherish the wisdom that can only come from experience? I’m actually proud of being a single mom, now. I am proud of you, too. You are NOT a failure. (My eyes are welling up as I type that. It makes me SO angry to think anyone who suffered the undeserved humiliation of infidelity would EVER have to doubt her or himself like that! And I cry when I get that mad…) You are a fierce mama! You have heart.
        Take no shit off anyone. You are mighty.

    • Stephanie–That was very powerful, both your story and the Redbook mother’s story. Yet more evidence that the horror that we have all lived through has made us more compassionate, more aware, more willing to intervene in the lives of people who have been mistreated.

    • Stephanie, I could sign under every statement you made. Being judgmental and all..sitting proud among married friends and with condescending looks upon the unmarried or divorced ones. I even used to joke with my narc always saying to him that the word “divorce” was not a part of my vocabulary and that I would rather kill him than divorce. I used to tell him my name was written all over his forehead. I thought this was my reassurance to him, who was a child of divorced parents and suffered badly throughout the ordeal and his mom;s second marriage. I thought I was gifting him with my guarantee that I would never do to him what his mom did to him. Sometimes I feel that karma played a trick on us, chumps, too. Even though I never expressed disapproval out loud, I was one big judge of “abnormal” families. Mine was normal. Or so I thought.

  • Yes, the first holiday (and the first everything) after Divorce is indeed so very hard. I look back, and it’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years since I suffered through my first Xmas. It does get easier and better and even great! I promise!
    There is a lot of great advice here today. And I’m here to second it. Just two add a few additional tidbits.
    1. Give yourself permission to grieve. It is OKAY to be sad this Xmas. I intentionally let my STBX have the kids that first Xmas because I knew I would be an emotional wreck and I didn’t want to ruin it for them. (I had an equally important rationale for this schedule in that I was trying to align my kids schedule so I would have them during the same time periods as my brother’s visitation schedule with his daughter, so the cousins could be together. Something to consider!) I had a good week all alone to cry and be dejected every night after work. By the time I got the kids back on Xmas afternoon for the last half of the break I was all cried out (for the time being, anyway) and ready to give them my best self.
    2. Consider scaling back Xmas. I stopped sending Christmas cards after the first couple of years because of the expense and also the time. Nowadays, e-greetings can substitute or hell, just skip it all together. Getting divorced is a great excuse to just cut out gifts to certain folks due to expense. Suggest that your extended family draw names or let them know you can’t participate this year. Cut down on the “santa” stuff for your own kids. After my divorce was underway, I simply didn’t have the resources to continue many of the traditional gift giving that we had done in the past. Everyone understood. The kids and I baked gifts one year (turned out to not really be that cheap, but it was fun) and we tried to do things like make ornaments and special items for our loved ones. When you need money for you and your kids to survive, you don’t need to be buying a bunch of gifts. That will only create more stress later.
    3. Tracy is right. Accept help from others!!!!! It’s OKAY! If you are lucky enough to have folks who want to help (babysit your kids so you can go to an xmas party, bring you a casserole, etc) ACCEPT it graciously! Even if you can’t reciprocate right away, you can come back around when you are stronger. Another option is once you are stronger, you will be in a position to “pay it forward” to another single mom in your future. I know I was!
    4. Keep your gratitude list going! Read it every day and keep adding to it!

    • Sorry! I should have said “another single parent” instead of “another single mom” in point number 3. My apologies to all the single dad chumps out there doing your best for your kids.

  • I can laugh about this now, but it was by far the worst, most cringe-worthy Christmas ever! Final D-Day was 12/21/14 and that year I was to host both my family and CheaterEx’s family in our new home. Everyone knew what was going on, but nobody really knew how it would all shake out, and I decided to do one last “big, happy family” celebration for my kids’ sake. Uugh.

    I’d gotten CheaterEx some nice, meaningful gifts (because he’d been so distant, and because I was Chumpy enough to think that meaningful gifts could fix that) and decided to give them to him anyway. He got me the same shirt he’d given me the year before. My family gave him nothing. He sulked. His family was kind, supportive, and wonderful, and his gay brother helped me with the dishes. He sulked.

    It was so beyond horrible, and I still can’t believe that I went through with that bullshit. Cleaning, cooking a big feast, parenting, and entertaining by myself while he sulked and ignored everyone. I realized right then that nothing, not even being separated from my kids every other Christmas, could be worse than that shit show.

    • Yeah. Did that too right after DDay. What a shit show. It never happened again. That was the year right after I received a knife sharpener from asshat for Christmas.

      • Too bad you didn’t put that knife sharpener to good use right after you opened it ; ).

  • Excellent response, Tracy! !!! You are so right.

    I already was a single mom after DD was born for 7 years before the evil one left. ..I did everything without any help from him. ..i never took family Christmas pics with him because of how i felt like that would be committing fraud on my friends and myself in the last few Christmases we were together.
    I get to sleep in. I get to binge watch football, Star Wars marathons, IDiscovery channel, etd. and stay in my pajamas, etc. I also get to stroll through the flea market, have coffee and doughnuts with friends, go out dancing, drinking, whatever with friends, I get to raise my daughter the right way without his interference.
    Being divorced during the holidays, especially after being discarded and dismissed and abandoned by a narcissistic cheating fuckwit, sucks, but it’s better than the alternative, which is still being married to the asshole — I’ll take this over that any day.
    Thank you again, Tracy for a reminder! !!!

    • I felt the same — that I already was a single mom while I was married! It felt like I had 3 kids, too, including my then-husband. Based on our family photos, an outsider might think my ex was a great “single dad”…. I was the one behind the camera documenting milestones and happy times. Ex was front and center, soaking up the glory.

      • Over, same here. Great pictures with my son and narc…me taking them…how do I rip off the big poster I made for my son’s room with adventures in Egypt when he was just 5. He is so proud showing off his pics to friends..pyramids, sphynx, temples, etc. But I can’t see the narc’s smiling face there. We lived mostly apart seeing each other twice a year – he invented tons of reasons to avoid more time together. Whenever I begged for spending more time together he always said quality vs quantity and for him four weeks of vacationing together was sufficient. He would then boast in front of his own married friends that our relationship is great because we dont see each other often. And Gosh, how I hated when he would repeat a million times a story retelling to his friends some funny things our son said or did…his interactions were so limited that he would just cling to one thing and repeat it right and left making an impression of an involved dad. How did I not see this cruelty? How did I fall for it and kept justifying his absence repeating his nonsense excuses in front of everybody including my son. I so wanted to believe that his excuses were legit. Seeing the truth would have forced me open my eyes and act out. This is why we chumps keep shoving all signals inside and buring them six feet under. Better to deny the truth than live through the pain. I am now 11 months from Dday and 3 months from fake reconciliation and DETERMINTED to go through all the pain that is prepared for me by higher forces. Until I do that I won”t be able to put this false life behind.

  • The first Christmas was the worst. I felt like throwing up most of the time. I needed people to sympathize and care, and just be there for me….but everyone just kept saying “you’ll get through this, don’t worry”, which did not help me at ALL. No one understood, everyone kept their distance, not able to tolerate being around someone in such incredible pain, even supposedly good friends. It was awful.

    So, without a real support system, it was all up to me and my self care. I took Unisom every night for weeks. It helped me sleep and deadened my emotions somewhat the next day. My doctor gave me some Xanax which helped immensely.

    On the actual day of Christmas I put on the bravest face I could for my daughter. It was so, fucking incredibly hard.

    After My grieving process and Acceptance, Meh followed shortly afterward and I have found joy again, so much more joy as a single mom than I EVER had being married to an asshole. But the road here was hard, so hard. So many tears, so much pain.

    I am so sorry for everyone this happens to.

    • and a lesson–what helps people most after they’ve lived through betrayal is validating their pain. I’m sorry you didn’t get that at first, FarBetterOff.

      • Thank you, Tempest. Validation is key, so I just validated my own pain. When no one thereto depend on you just have to depend on yourself.

  • Last year I was asked my a friend to meet her and a friend of hers for coffee…her friend had been badly chumped and wanted to meet someone who had survived.

    This gal was so damn mighty !! She was grandmother age and had given her marriage ample chance and her husband was jerking her around. She had just filed and she knew he was going to try to weasel into a Christmas invitation, so badass grandma bought a plane ticket to London.

    Maybe for some folks, the holidays is a time to wildly mix it up…go to Vegas or something.

  • First xmas after dday my daughter flew in best time to come worst time to come. I was a total mess and the uncaring father threw her in the middle of his new family and expected her to accept the mess. She did the best she could. 2nd xmas i painted my bedroom and watched war movies all damn day. 3rd xmas my daughter came again she and i had a fabulous time. Just fabulous! We did naiks, hair, movies, shopping many out to dinners all on his dime! She was here fir seven days he father ignored her most of the time. She asked to spend a bit of time alone with him. Just her and him. Nope he screwed her it was like he didnt want to be alone with her god forbid she might want to talk to him! Not one minute alone with him. She was pissed off and spent most of her quality time with me happily running up his credit card!! Tee hee! This is my fourth xmas after dday. And my friends here im pleased to say im moving wednesday to my new home!!! No more holidays in this house of death and destruction and sadness!!! I leave all my sorrows, bad memories and sadness behind. Gonna shake it off at the gate!!!! The karma bus has hit the bastard big time. Audits, over 200,000 in debt. Im a bit sad been my home for a long time, but no longer being a happy honest home but a den of lies and whores im free! But im so excited!!! No more anquish cause of that asswipe! Yippee i o ki aaaaaa! Thanks to all who have helped me get through this. I will always be a part of it here. And a very special shout out to my girl jeep tess!!!!!

  • One of the great gifts of being betrayed and discarded by Jackass was changing my orientation to holidays. I vowed I would not miss another holiday with my siblings (the older generation having passed on), no matter who I end up dating. I revived some old traditions from my early days as a single person. I made new decorations and new traditions, with the goal of expressing my feeling about the holidays. I decided that feeling stress about “pleasing” people is a huge red flag that I am on the wrong path.

    One of my favorite changes is that I buy my own gifts in November as items I want or need go on sale. I put them away and when I put up my Charlie Brown tree, I put these items in my favorite “recycled” gift bags under the tree. I still enjoy giving gifts to others, baking, etc. But these little “gifts” to myself remind me that I count too, and that I don’t need a man to buy me that necklace I loved or the chainsaw I need. I’ve had years to come to terms with the serial monogamy thing and the codependency and long-term pattern of choosing to hitch my fate to people who are incapable of being healthy partners. The best sign that I’ve made progress is that I’ve learned to both give and receive and that I see that I have some responsibility to give myself what I need.

    • “The best sign that I’ve made progress is that I’ve learned to both give and receive and that I see that I have some responsibility to give myself what I need.”

      I am going to cross stitch the second half of that sentence and frame it to read first thing upon awakening (with credit to the sagacious LAJ embroidered in, too).

  • My d-day was in August of 2015 (kicked him out of the house immediately. Go me!) My divorce was final March of this year. Let me say that last year the holidays were horrible. I was NC with my cheater and had filed for divorce. My daughter was 4 and it was so hard to pretend I didn’t want to just roll over and die. I was a blubbering mess most of the time. So many tears. Couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. PTSD. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years were all gut-wrenchingly awful. But I have to say how much BETTER things are this year! Divorce was final in March and I have been steadily gaining back myself and my life. I’m thriving like never before (friends and family keep pointing out how different I am now. In a good way.) This year I simply enjoyed the holidays with my family and daughter. No pity party, not much thought or care given to the cheater, none of the broken feeling. Just content with where my life is going. I know I wouldn’t be there without reading this site every single day, my therapist, and my friends and family. To anyone still grieving (we are each on our own timeline), please know it gets soooooo much better. ❤️

    • SolteraOtraVez, exactly the same timeline, though I did not have to divorce MoFaux. Fortunately, never married him (my only smart move, apart from getting out).

      You sound so mighty, girl! And I had to Google your beautiful name! So glad you are here to remind me that setbacks never negate progress. ??, V

  • This reminds me of a Christmas when I was about two years from dday. I got a beautiful Christmas card addressed to me in lovely hand written script.
    It was a picture of a beautiful couple and their two gorgeous children taken on a beach in Hawaii wishing me a magical holiday. I’d never seen these people in my life and I have never figured out who they were.

    My family and I had a hilarious after Christmas laugh fest imaging who these Perfect People were !~ The man of my dreams….who always remembered my special holidays, my son who lived to shovel my walks ! The daughter-in-law who came to take me out to lunch each week ! The grandkids who always remembered to thank me for the lovely gifts I got them.


  • P.S. I kept the picture on my mantle for a few weeks after Christmas reminding me of my ‘perfect family’ somewhere out there, no matter how fake it was.

  • Fresh chump here.A week ago I found receipt in car for a package to Germany, that gut feeling knew. Partner has been having a Skype affair for 8 months and turns out going for”walks’ with homewrecking ex coworker on his days off whilst I’m at work. We broke up for 6 weeks over this skank 3 years ago and I said if you are ever in touch with her again I m leaving. I found this crap out when he handed me his phone he had cleared to look at. Forehead slap.
    Anyways I asked him to leave last Saturday and he is begging to come back as the bloke he is staying with is nuts, ,, oh boohoo.
    He used to have his phone glued to his head and rarely helped with the kids. Says he has feeling for Skype skank but thinks we can work it out!
    Crazy bullshit. My parents will disown me if I take him back.
    He blames me the old ‘not enough attention ‘ bs and I didn’t quit drinking and support him when he has been sober for four years. Yeah I haven’t been great either. Work kids doing everything while he is on sleeep over work shifts and to tired when he gets home because he has been Skypeskanking, anyways I’m fucking gutted facing the prospect of paying a mortgage on my own as we have no common assets, he has debt from being a man child. I have overcome a lot in life I think this is going to be a big one.
    Need support and advise right now, questions please ask.
    Forging on with head held high await from his needy meme lies. My trust and hope foe a future with him has been broken, 8 months
    He has taken the kids for the afternoon, I am trooping on even went to work and mostly held my shit together on the Monday, got house keys back and will call police he if tries any crazy shit. He asked why I was shouting at him and not being nice about it, said I could do psycho but have integrity and won’t the kids to still spend time with him.
    He is a parasite draining my mojo, he is going on stress leave from work as it’s all too much for him and why did I file for child support straight away. Let’s see maybe because I have made my mind up and will not under any circumstance be in the position to not pay for my house, that is my priority. I worked long and hard to get here with no free ride from him.
    Pissed of to the max and seeing what a selfish shit he is, I am actually supposed to care that he is hurting now. Chump I am!
    Thoughts help needed desperately, am virtually nc as he is first class mindfuck.

    • Lady

      Listen to the wisdom of your parents.

      You have a support system in place. Gather all evidence of his spending. Speak to an attorney immediately.

      Do not believe anything he tells you. He already went on leave from his job. Gather all the cash you can to support yourself. No contact.

    • Welcome, use that anger to press forward. They never want consequences. HE’s going on stress leave? Wow. Ignore the pity channel. Get clear of the mindfuckery with NC. Do NOT let him weasel back into your life. Post and read here often. Do you have legal representation? Stay mighty!

  • I spoilt my boy rotten that first Christmas – mum moved out on the 20th December. I insisted that she did too and at the earliest opportunity we took ourselves up to see his version of Uncle Buck. And UB spoilt him rotten too. I was in hell but I think my son did well. For me it was the worst Christmas ever I woke up sobbing. I just tried to stifle my sobs so my son didn’t hear them. We now have our own traditions of fireworks on Christmas Eve and quirky Christmas breakfasts – his favourite to date were the Indian snacks (samosas, bhajiis etc). This stuff helps.
    Looking back it was my wonderful friends and family that kept me going through that time I called in every favour I could and so I would really echo CL suggestion that you accept every bit of genuine help you can. Before long you’l be able to pay it back. Good luck – I hope you get through it all reasonably in tact. Please please believe me better holidays lie ahead

  • Lady Batshit
    Awesome name! So so sorry you are here. I’m only four months in myself so my advice would be to plough through all the archived posts and learn. It’s all here. What to do, what might help, what not to do, help with the bad days, celebration with the good.
    We are all here for you. It’s a good place.

  • Partner just left after dropping kids back angry as hell, no physical affair apparently, thoughts?
    My thoughts lies or maybe not yet but going for walks in private forest areas with unhappy married mother skank soon would be.
    I think he was looking to establish a relationship and move out eventually, only he got caught early and now has to stay with nut job co worker maybe karma bus has arrived early.
    Am I a prize chump for even considering the “not physical affair”
    Our sex life wasn’t bad and when good was good chemistry. But then he also had “feelings” for Skype skank, jeezus 13 years together friends for 20, I have been clumped, lies are the tip of the iceberg me thinks.

    • Lady batshit,
      Trust your instincts. I think you may be on the right track that your husband is trying to make you a prize chump by gaslighting. To most of us, an emotional affair is just as bad as physical. It is the betrayal of marital confidentiality that matters, not whose parts were stuck in who.

      He sounds like he is using the kids as ammo by making you out to be nuts. Depending on their age, you may want to be completely up front and explain that you have boundaries and expectations of a spouse, and that he betrayed you. There is no harm in showing your kids that you value yourself enough to make such behaviour unacceptable.

      Divorce always has costs that impact everyone. My son recently graduated, six years after our divorce, and I had to endure the OW there, trying to take credit for his achievements, even though he was 26 when she met him! Fortunately my son asked her to stay out of the pictures since it was me and ex who supported his education. She played the victim…more gaslighting…but he has learned from me to not give a crap what the cheaters say, do, think, whine about…..

      Well done for being strong enough to stick to your principles. That queasy gut feeling is usually absolutely right.

    • Lady Batshit–He fucked her. They weren’t playing backgammon or reading Sylvia Plath poetry all those hours spent together. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but many of us need the physical affair to exit a bad marriage.

      But….physical affair aside, he has treated you like crap, lied to you, invested marital resources (emotional, physical, monetary) in someone else. Leave. You don’t deserve that. You deserve love, not condescension. Huge hugs–this is SOOOO hard to wrap your head around, but you’re getting there. Even harder to leave, but eventually you will be relieved that you did.

      Get copies of ALL financial records (tax returns, retirement accounts now & when you first married, credit card statements–everything you can get your hands on) before confronting him fully. Liars lie. Cheaters cheat. He will start hiding or obfuscating assets once he thinks you are going to divorce him. Always be one step ahead.

  • My husband says he’s addicted to **** , I have caught him before emails, and phone numbers each time he swore he just contacted these women for pictures . Recently I found [email protected] to hack him and i found out texts that suggest he did way more then talk to a women and there certain things to suggest she was a call girl but I didn’t know that when I confronted him about the text . He give me his go to excuse , when that didn’t work he blamed it on me because stress he’s dealing with and finallly he brought back his all time favorite ” I am done its over

  • I don’t want to dig dirt and find out, to painful. He is out of the house, this is the second time. I remember when preg with my first child I found out he had paid for the company of a Thai prostitute for about two weeks while travelling. I found a picture of her and he said they used to go to movies together and she was a student, how dumb was I , friend later told me the truth, by which time I was 8 months preg.
    If not preg would have left him straight off as I thought he would never pay for sex, not that kind of guy. Anyways first red flag I guess got to stick to my guns. My gut feeling was spot on this time, nagging me always. I asked him flat out if he was cheating, he held gaze for way to long and denied every single time! The problem is I don’t expect people to lie to my face because I cannot do it, how silly of me.

    • Lady Batshit.
      My 3Ddays (!) are four months ago. I well remember how shocked I was, probably still am.
      I filed about three weeks ago. 22 year marriage – poof! Gone.
      You need to read all the posts from the first in 2012. Gives good advice. Getting all your financial ducks in order. Getting your head straight.
      Best advice is don’t expect to feel anything but crazy for a while but get started on finding your way out.
      I spent weeks on reconciliation sites. Waste of time. I landed at Chump Lady. Found my people. Read the whole site (and still do!). Filed.
      I still love who I thought he was but I’m just getting out.
      Stop trying to figure it out figure him out. Think about what you have to do for you.
      It does hurt like a motherfucker as CL says but not always and it gets better. I’m only 4 months along. I accepted what had happened. It was over. He isn’t a bad person (well yes he is ) but we don’t share the same values.
      Gather your strength for yourself and leave a cheater gain a life.

      • Thank you Capricornand Marci, weekend just gets shitter, phone has 42 texts which vasilate from ‘I love your grumpy face in the morning’ to I’m going to the bank Monday about the joint mortgage to I’m leaving the state if you bad mouth me in this town ,,, block number now!
        Oh and long cut on paste from him about trusting again. My trust has gone. Like someone said you wouldn’t think twice about kicking their ass out when your where 20 so why not now. Mindfuckery, I need to stay strong just keep having a voice asking if I’m over reactionIng but I need to shut that bitch down, ‘you might trick me once but you not going to trick me twice’ I see the future if I stay and I will be tots miserable and he will continue. I’m his safety net.

        • Lady.
          It is scary. Narcs can be so scary. Protect yourself. Don’t expect too much right now from yourself. Just breathe, try to eat, sleep, get some good friends to talk to. Be careful who you talk to if you can. All early CL posts are great. How to get out safely, how to find support.
          My advice, the best advice I got here was to focus on ACTIONS NOT WORDS.
          They lie. They lie over and over and over.
          Just focus on what you need. Copies of financials. See a lawyer asap.
          There is no love here is there?? Only the love you wish there was. It is the most intense pain but you can get through it to a much better life. Chumps here are an amazing bunch of generous and compassionate women and men who get it, they understand everything you are going through and they know the way out and they will grab your hand and pull you out and cheer you every step of the way.
          Your narc sounds nasty and loud. Use your anger to propel you forward.

          Mine is a covert narc. Appears quiet calm lovely. A nice guy. But he had three affairs over four years. One four years, one one year and the third only six months as I found out then. Dating website browser I only discovered a couple of weeks ago. 22 year marriage, three boys. There will be lots more but they only confess to what you know and sometimes not even that.
          Buy the Chump Lady book. It’s all you need. Funny and kick ass. Forums on this site also good for quick support.

          Welcome and sorry.

          • Also. I got a book
            Living and loving after betrayal by Steven Stosny.
            IT IS BRILLIANT. He tells you how to focus on you. I did all it suggested.
            It helps. With that and CL. Wow.
            Also Infidelity Help Group. Their site awesome.

        • Dear Lady Batshit of the great name,
          Rage is a normal reaction to betrayal. If you weren’t angry there would be something seriously wrong with you. My ex went on and on about the fact that I yelled at him- it hurt his feelings. Yeah dickhead,I yelled at you because you had 3 longterm affairs while married to me.
          It isn’t ” normal” to have Skype affairs while married. It isn’t normal to take long walks in the country with other people without telling your spouse. Normal people do not think of doing these things. He is not normal, he is a pod person who can lie to your face without blinking. Don’t let the pod person back in.You are not overreacting- and the fact that you are even wondering if you are makes me sad. You deserve a partner who is into you 100%. And on a practical level- I would change the locks, even if you got the keys back, just in case he has a spare set

          • Got keys back, don’t think he is smart enough to cut spare, probably surprised I asked for them back.
            He was here today and think he can worm is way back in. Everything i said meant nothing.
            The mortgage I can see will be paid by me now, he is not going to pay his half as in his words ‘ how is he going to afford to livc’.
            So I need to get more work and buckle down, he thinks he has me cornered as we barely got by on two incomes but I am savvy and will work it out.
            No concern about the kids losing a home, all meme
            Was enlightening, oh and maybe I should rent out a room for extra money,,,, wtf!
            He is still talking to EA for ’emotional support’ seriously I wanted to punch him in the head. I shoved him out the from door because he would not leave, this was ‘ hitting him’
            NC all the way and will drop kids off to wherever he wants to see them, cannot have him in this house and listen to the lies and be cut off and talked over, shut down denied. He as no empathy or respect for me, it is clear now.

        • Dear Lady Badshit,
          I second Tempest – he fucked her. Here is my story 11 months ago. When I discovered texts with the OW after snooping in my husband’s phone, I did not have the guts to tell him what I did. So I just cornered him unexpectedly, told him I saw her in a dream and asked who she was (by name). I guess he was stunned that I had this revelation with the name and he never thought I could penetrate his password-protected device so he for a moment believed it. By then, we have already had about 4-5 years of tense relationship (living long-distance and seeing each other twice a year) and my gut feeling and his comments and behavior were screaming at me but I kept shoving all the signals inside. So all I asked him was who was her? And he gave me a bullshit story that she used to be his ex-girlfriend from his uni years and that when they hugged after the very first meeting they were electrified and glued to each other for a while. And so all these years he could not get over this “electric hug” and so he embarked on the research and understanding of what it was. And meanwhile he kept his long-distance conversations with her because he felt that she “understands him well”. Well, guess what. I believed him. Why? Because I wanted to! Because if I did not, then I would have had to deal with the truth which was painful and I did not want any more pain over what it already was – a long-distance marriage, me doing single mothering, yearning for him and togetherness, feeling his distancing over the years, etc. I believed him even though I managed to read a thread going back for about 8 months and there were tons of revelations! I loved Tempest’s post where she said it blatantly – he fucked her! Believe her. He fucked her. What followed after Dday was 5 more months of painful emails from me trying to evoke some kind of feelings, reminding him of our good days together – in short lots of “pick me dance”-ing. The funny thing is all of my friends, my family, everybody whom I shared the story with warned me against telling him that I snooped in his phone – he would get mad for invading his privacy and this was a horrible thing to do! So I did not. And I was hoping that he would tell me the truth. But he just maintained the story – he never saw her throughout our marriage, it was just an online connection that he had to sort out. He also told me he had met a guy who claimed to be some sort of a shaman who told him that this electric hug meant that my narc husband and the OW shared a soul that split into two bodies. So he full-heatedly believed the story and was trying to convince me to believe it as well. And I did believe in that also. Guess what. I started googling stories about split souls and sending him links, and reading soul astrology and finding the right articles. We get crazy when we enmesh with crazy people! Run away!
          It was only after the pain became unbearable and I screamed at him after 5 months that I read it, I know it all! He still tried to gaslight and lie and conceal for another couple of months but then something happened. Don’t really know what planetary changes occured on that day. Was I too forceful? Did my behavior suddenly convey that I don’t take the bullshit anymore? He came clean. Or as clean as he wanted to. He told me he never stopped a relationship with the split-whore-soul. She was in our live in parallel, together with her chump husband and daugther, and with her multiple lovers. And my narc husband also had sex-lovers on the side. Always. As he claims, from 2nd year of our marriage. He said when we were having our church ceremony that he gave himself a word that he would never cheat on me. Then we had our big fight and he did for the first time. Because he felt I was not the right one for him. And after that it was “just a snowball effect.”
          He fucked her Lady Badshit. I know it hurts. You have to go through pain. I am there now. In pain. But I know it will be over. It just can’t be forever.
          I am so grateful to everybody here for insight and support. I love you all!

  • OP,
    The first round of holidays after a separation/divorce is bound to challenge your self-image as mother of an intact family. That was the hardest part for me, too. Attention feom well meaning folks makes you feel like you’re in the ‘pity spotlight’ when all you want to do is get back to normal.

    The thing I found useful was to not overthink it all. Just one step at a time. Most important, stop caring about what other people think. They love it when someone else has problems they can gossip about. The more calm and normal you appear in public, the less fodder they have to chatter about. Do your sobbin in private. Gratefully accept the do-gooder’s approaches, and accept that the first time going through this will suck.

    Focus on you and your sons, listen to their needs. They may have anger, or they may seem indifferent. But in the years to come, they will tell you how they felt. All you can do is be firm, as cheerful as possible, and affectionate when needed. Ever so slowly, you will get used to a new way of operating your life. My sons went through similar. Now that they are grown, they say their main concern at the time was for me.

    Strangely, divorce numbed my enthusiasm for holiday celebrations. Ever since, I have taken off on a holiday far away. You may have to continue celebrations while the kids are around, but you have to avoid allowing your own sadness to overshadow their fun.

  • Around this time of year, those of us of Northern European extraction will, even in the best of times, start feeling depressed for no other reason than having to wake up in the dark, sit under overcast skies all day, and drive home in the dark. I bought a SAD Lamp after my first gray fall day after nowdeadserialcheaterwife passed, and it’s been a life saver. They’re are great:

    • This is a great reminder. Some of the sadness is a response to environment. One thing I do is a house blessing every winter solstice. I burn a little sage and make a tray with the sage, a candle, and some evergreen and bless every room, dedicating it to love, peace, hospitality. That’s the dark point of the year; from that day on, we gain a minute of light every day.

  • Also, remember, holidays are for people, not people for the holidays. If you’re not feeling Christmas at all, you aren’t actually under any obligation to do it. Even if you’re religious, there is nothing in the Bible about enormously stressful family gatherings and spending more than you can afford on consumer goods. [There’s actually some strongly worded bits /against/ chopping down trees, bringing them into your home and decorating them, in Jeremiah 10.]

    If looking after yourself means checking out of the holidays for a year or two, then do that. It’s really ok. I promise.

  • Welp.

    Thanksgiving was my holiday, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending it with my 3 adult children and my parents.

    Now The Coward has them all out to dinner tonight. And 5+ years out, I still hate it when my kids are with their so-called father. I no longer wish that I could join them–those days are LONG gone. I’ve done some more reflecting tonight. I do realize that it’s a good thing that he circles back around for them from time to time, and that he texts them. My kids were definitely harmed by their father’s cowardice, but it could have been worse–he could have completely ghosted them the way he did their mother. My kids can each say that they have a father, however limited. I coped with the abrupt announcement that the kids would be dining with The Coward by going to the gym and working out to my favorite “Fuck you, you fucking fuck” music. I feel good knowing the anorexic blondie he lives with wouldn’t be able to keep up with me. I have a woman’s hips from giving birth to my children. She is a stick. And I work hard. I like it. Then I ran a few errands, deep in thought. I think what I hate the most is that he will always be my enemy. I am NC with The Coward. He is not my friend and never will be. Mercifully, I didn’t see him when my youngest left the house, and when I arrived home from errands, TC wasn’t waiting outside, either.

    I always feel like I’m in danger when he’s with my kids, or if he’s anywhere near me. My whole body goes into flight mode, even all these years later. I don’t know the man I used to sleep next to every night. He is a stranger, one who sent a grenade into our family, into my heart. He looked right at me, smiled, and blew the whole thing up. And my mind and body know it and feel it. I shake. I grieve. I feel violated all over again.

    But you’d never know it, and I certainly never burden my kids with my feelings. Meh. I’m safe. I know my kids will be home soon. The Coward must live with himself and the twat he ran off with for the rest of his miserable life.

    • I feel in danger too when he’s with my kids. I slept with the enemy so many years. He was such a good actor.

    • I decided later not to give him the power to upset me, at least for tonight. He’s a sad little man, and I have to remember how often I actually feel sorry for him.

    • Lol Stephanie! I had a divorce gym soundtrack with a similar theme ? I can see the CD cover now with your title and in smaller font “work out your chump rage to the music from the 80s and beyond”
      On the holiday topic – first year is agony, I remember sobbing as my mother in law hugged me when they came to pick up my boys for Christmas dinner with OW and her extended family (so tacky – he was still married to me)
      They get easier every year.
      Now my new Christmas tradition is a morning beach walk & swim with my divorced friends & whichever kids are around, then we head off to our family lunches

      • It’s a special, special hell to literally have been removed from your family and replaced with OW. Exactly like a wife appliance. Pop the old one out, pop the new one in, aaaaand holiday celebration rolls on.

        It’s so easy for me to look at that situation and see just how dysfunctional your ex’s brain is. Same for OW, to think she can just pop into your spot and carry on. Their BRAINS don’t work!

        Really I had no idea that there were so many people on the planet like this. They look and act totally normal. But they are broken in the head.

          • She was the one who told my FIL to take the kids to the car when she saw I was losing it, and stayed back for a few minutes and gave me a huge bear hug until I stopped crying – she’s actually been a great support. Looking back, I wish they’d had the balls to say “this is too early for us to be celebrating Christmas together with the kids and OW’s family” but my MIL is a highly codependent chump herself who has stayed in an emotionally abusive relationship, and is terrified of my ex cutting her off. Judging from others’ stories, I’m very lucky in that I’ve stayed in touch with his family who have been supportive. The majority of them have been cheated on too – there are some nasty patterns of male behaviour in his family.

  • I’m sad because my mother (78) will notice during these holidays that I kicked out my sweet adorable husband who for 24 yrs has always been a serial cheater, a liar as well as a financial and emotional abuser. My mom really liked him but I’ll have to show her the ugly truth. His texts and pics to prostitutes, friends’ wives, shop assistants, neighbors. My mother will die for the pain, she was so sincere and generous with him.

    • Show her as best you can how strong you are. She’s most worried about you, not him. She will be upset, true, but she might surprise you. Give her a hug. She was chumped, too. But no more.

  • Thanks I have read a lot on this site. he went to counciling a few months ago. I thought it was weird I was not invited but he had personal issues to discuss, anyways turns out MC said he should cut off with Skypeskank, he didn’t like this advise so didn’t see MC again, can’t believe he has so little respect for me and out family. We do not have a close extended family and as I pointed out to him many times, this is is buddy our little fam.but no manchild is still chasing rainbows! Gutted and taken for a prize sucker but have taken him back years ago when he used to go awol for 3-4 days at a time with his band buddies, drinking and spending what very little money we had, getting locked up, getting angry, have called police a few times and believe me I am no push over or wall flower but this apparently was unnecessary, no it’s fine to be drunk and swear at me, hound me round the house and kick shit and I took him back probably 4 times until he go sober. I am so dumb and sick of being the doer in the one sided relationship with meme man child!

    • Lady, I admire your strength throwing him out and filing for child support and moving so quickly. You are strong. You’re right in the middle of it and taking action. Welcome to the club no one wanted to join. I hope he feels miserable and pathetic staying with his crazy friend, serves him right. He should be sleeping in the gutter. You’ve done your dash taking him back several times and putting up with his immature and abusive behaviour. You will sort out your finances and soon find you are much better off and able to save money without him. You are not dumb, you were loyal and loving and your loyalty was abused over and over again. Never call yourself dumb for that!

      • Thanks for the support Kiwichump I am Aussie chump.
        The fast response was mainly a protection from getting royally fucked over which I think he will try once he’ s not geting another chance.
        We have no assets so I need to be as thrifty as I can to keeping my mortgage going. Didnt miss any work either. Fam blow up Saturday I was at work Monday.
        I believe he is on ‘stress leave’ now.
        He does have three channel and a spare one which is the self destruction channel, anyway I have to keep telling myself it’s not my bag.

        • Hi Aussie Lady Batshit. .. I thought you swore a lot, now I know why ;-)) The traitor is big on the self destruction channel too, I know what you mean. Sit back and watch now, it’s the whore’s problem. ..

  • “Some people are actually nice. Take the fucking casserole. Say yes to the babysitting. ENCOURAGE these people. Keep them close and do not reject them because you fear being pitied. That’s about you and you internalizing Single Mother is Less Than. They don’t see you that way. They see you as a lovely person who is in crisis and alone for the holidays, who could use some bolstering.”

    Learning how to receive, how to ask for and accept help, was a huge lesson for me. If we have to be perfect and “bulletproof,” we are only half alive. We can learn to see this situation as an opportunity to notice when others are struggling, in crisis or alone. By accepting help when we need it, we can “pay it forward” with true empathy and understanding.

    • So true, LAJ–most of us tried to be “perfect” and “bulletproof” for our cheaters; look where that got us.

      One of my favorite poems (by Robert Herrick) celebrates imperfection:

      A SWEET disorder in the dress
      Kindles in clothes a wantonness:—
      A lawn about the shoulders thrown
      Into a fine distractión,—
      An erring lace, which here and there 5
      Enthrals the crimson stomacher,—
      A cuff neglectful, and thereby
      Ribbands to flow confusedly,—
      A winning wave, deserving note,
      In the tempestuous petticoat,— 10
      A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
      I see a wild civility,—
      Do more bewitch me, than when art
      Is too precise in every part.

      • I told Tempest, and I want to tell the beautiful people here at CL how grateful I am to read your stories of sadness and success, strength and understanding, comfort and joy, stumbles and recovers told with such honesty. It proves to me the human longing for personal intimacy with another human does exist.

        This site, and the people on it, delivers this message to me daily. I do not comment as much as I used to, but damn how I love coming back here from time to time to see that old colleagues from my time in the hole are flourishing in their new found freedom from the horror show.

        I woke up on Thanksgiving and thanked God I no longer had to make the world safe for an asshole. May they all find themselves on the crapper one day without paper.

        Love to all of you.

  • Stephanie
    Your story sounds a lot like mine. 32 years married. Two adult children 27 and 24. He wants to swap me out. He told me he was going to for his 12 year younger blond skinny whore cunt. And why wouldn’t his family love her? She’s lovely! Four kids. Three men. Lied about paternity of oldest child for 20 years! Wrong guy paid child support! Abandoning youngest child to be with my husband. Great mother material huh? My ex to be says she’s a great mother.

    I know her story though as you can read it in the available court documents. I share those facts with everyone along with all the crap he has done to me. He pulled his bullshit on the kids also. Even his own siblings think he’s nuts.

    I am 6 months in after D Day 1. Headed for divorce in January. I want to find my peace and joy again. He makes my heart race and my hair fall out.. I want to not be bitter.

    I’ve been a SAHM for 24 years. Fucktard wants to screw me over.
    It sucks. I’ll survive.

    • I hope you have a good attorney.

      You will survive. You will thrive, untethered from a fuck-up like your stbx. He’s taken up with a nutjob whackadoo.

    • He he! Christmas is for sharing and singing, sing their praises Michiganchump, sing loud!!

  • Wow…this was a fantastic take on that first horrible holiday season since the jackass has left. It will be mine, too.

    I thought that once he moved out, I would be able to step off the emotional roller coaster…but not yet, apparently. One day I’m angry…next I’m crying…next I’m numb. Almost like he still lives here. I can’t wait to feel better. I’ve aged 20 years and can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. I’ve lost tons of weight…so I look like I’m addicted to cocaine, too. Not a good look…trust me.

    While I think I “want my life back,” I know that I don’t. I was also lying to myself and hiding behind my label of being married, which became my identity, even though it TOTALLY SUCKED. While I absolutely cannot stand being alone, I also realize that I was alone. For years. Plus living in a constant state of anxiety and other horrible emotional states because of his serial cheating and lying, and all the other delightful narcissistic head games and control tactics.

    I hate what he did to me. I hate that he gave me the promise of a family and then just like that…took it away, abused me for years in the meantime, and then sailed off into the sunset with his new “soulmate.” Busy guy.

    I try to get my head around it, but can’t. I don’t dread the holidays anymore than I dread waking up everyday re-living the abuse and simply not wanting to start all over at this point in my life. I want to lie down on the couch, pull the blanket over my head, and sleep for at least a year. Maybe then I’d wake up and feel better or be able to think about ANYTHING else for any length of time. I am so exhausted.

    But, I can’t lie down on the couch. I have a son to raise. We’re doing OK. I have an amazing support system of friends and family surrounding me. I have to remind myself that with each passing day, I’m getting closer to the divorce being final. With each passing day…the horrible life I had is further behind me.

    I feel so empty and lost most of the time, but try to think of things that make me happy. Even if it’s my slippers. Seriously.

    In the meantime, I’m going to hang my wreath, decorate my tree (while throwing out any ornaments that remind me of “us”) and drink lots of egg nog…heavy on the nog. I’m going to breathe, relax, give myself the gift of re-connecting with me, enjoy not being yelled at for not having everything done…and sing Jingle Bells at the top of my lungs. Most importantly…appreciate and love my son. I need to show him what his mom is made of…even though she doesn’t feel good about herself right now. Biggest. Challenge. Ever.

    Everyone keeps telling me that it’ll get better…I’m going to keep repeating that until I can slightly believe it. Here’s to a Happier New Year!

    • Mary,

      Please take care of you!

      Also, please read my reply to Ian. It DOES GET BETTER and YOU GOT THIS!

      And, WE GOT YOUR BACK BABY!!!! 🙂

      Trust me, someday SOON, you will look back on all this and flip your hair and say pfff 🙂 and realize IN EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY that you WON! You won! Your life won’t be wasted on a worthless, soul less DOUCHE 🙂 Your son will be better off too not witnessing the abuse! He will respect and admire STRONG women of VALUE and make better choices in his life because YOU will model his ideal female 🙂 Nasty narc women won’t even be able to get his attention. This alone is HUGE! Aside from not wasting your life catering to an empty black hole of a man! We LOVE our children and do not want them to suffer what we have. BREAK THE CHAIN!


      • Thank you, JeepTess! You are awesome! I WILL break this chain…I promise! I do so appreciate your empowering words. I needed them.

        I LOVE it here : )

        • Mary, what you describe is that you are doing the right things to get better, but it takes time and it’s really tough. So keep doing little things for yourself, especially little things you couldn’t do because of the fuckwit, and savour them. Make a note each time you treat yourself to a forbidden or forgotten treat you had given up to placate the fuckwit. Make a note of each little achievement, each obstacle that frightened you on your own but you have overcome on your own and pat yourself on the back. It’s a tough struggle learning how to be happy after your soul has been crushed for years then finally blown up. But the chumps here have been there and we have to believe that it does get better but for some it’s a long process. Also look after your appearance, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and it will make you feel better. Pre-loved clothes, give yourself time for a pampering routine, even if it’s a cheap one with mashed peas on your face! You can exercise at home for no money if your budget is tight, and you will enjoy seeing the results. And singing is wonderful therapy, it will bring out a lot of emotions good and bad, very cleansing. It’s about you now, and don’t feel bad putting yourself first. Your son needs you to look after yourself.
          The crying fits, the mixed emotions, are all part of the journey, you’re normal, he’s not. You are a good person who has been very hurt. Forgive yourself.
          Big hug.

  • Christmas… Deep breath. 3 months prior Dday, EW begged me to invite her AP to Christmas dinner with my kids and I. He was an old “friend” of mine. (and literally old, 21 years older than her). I knew deep down that they were having anaffair and refused her request. Ew flipped out in front of our two children, called me a fucking asshole multiple times in front of them. So Christmas has been rough to say the least. fast forward two years, divorced for almost one, I need Tuesday so badly. I am still doing way too much for her. And she still has the power to hurt me deeply. I’m getting stronger everyday. but want meh!!!!

    • You will never get to meh until you impose consequences on her. Sorry. That’s the deal.

    • “I am still doing way too much for her. And she still has the power to hurt me deeply.”

      You just answered your own question, my dear.

      No Contact is your friend. I know you are co-parenting with a fucktard, but keep that to business only, and practise No Contact at all other times, and you will find her power over you diminishes rapidly.

      There are some great posts in the Archive on No Contact and on co-parenting with a fucktard.