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The Walls In Your House Will Sing

This is a true story submitted to Chump Lady by her Aunt J.

I’m rerunning this today, because we can always use a reminder that there are good people out there. A post-script, my aunt and M are still together — it’s been 32 years. Sadly, M was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago. He’s hanging in there, and my aunt is a trooper — a wonderful, devoted caretaker. And M is still a really cool guy with a great sense of humor — his illness hasn’t taken that from him. We just saw them this past September up at their lake cottage. — Tracy

Ladies and Gentlemen (because men have cheating wives), life does get better after you get through the horrors of a cheating spouse. My second husband and I both had cheating first spouses though our stories are not exactly similar.

My first husband had a hardscrabble childhood with his dad’s early death, a mother who couldn’t cope, foster care for a while, living on the “wrong side of the tracks,” being told he was stupid and couldn’t go to college, then enlisting in the Navy before he would be drafted in 1953. The Navy changed his life because he did well, discovered he had a brain, and after four years in the service, put himself through college by working three jobs and carrying a full academic load. We met in science classes, married five days after my graduation (he was six years older than I), both worked a year, he decided to go to law school and began right after our first daughter was born.

Success followed in law school and in practice in Chicago. Because of health problems, his mother moved in with us and stayed until her death 7 years later. Initially, it wasn’t easy, but after a few months, we had a really good relationship and the girls adored her (second daughter was been born 6 years after the first). However, the lure of the fast-moving, big boat sailing crowd in the city in the early 1970s took hold with its ethos of drinking, bedding younger women, and partying (I know not everyone in the sailing world is like this…he just happened to find the group that was and enjoyed every minute).

He traveled constantly for the firm and after seeing him in action at sailing parties, I realized he was lying about his trips. I snooped in his briefcase one night after he had passed out — and found a return flight ticket from Savannah when he was supposed to have been in Washington. I confronted him, he had no reaction, just walked out.

A few months later he decided he didn’t want the suburban life, raising two daughters and having a wife. He moved out, bought a condo in the city, and went his merry way, sort of. Our girls were 14 and 7 when he left (freshman and second grade). They were devastated, but I was beyond devastated and asked all the same questions everyone does: What did I do wrong? Wasn’t I good enough? Did I not do all the right things? Should I get counseling? (I did, he wouldn’t, and it was the best thing I could have done to understand the dynamics of the marriage, such as it was at that point.) What will our friends think? (They all saw it coming and were thrilled for me because he was such a bastard the last couple of years.) How do I tell the family? (My brother and I, according to my sister-in-law, were not programmed to fail [she was correct] and I had failed in the most important relationship ever.) What could and should I do?

Well, let me tell you, I had been beaten down psychologically and emotionally but didn’t realize it. Over the years, my whole personality had changed. I definitely was an enabler for his drinking because I was afraid not to be. He wouldn’t have abused me physically because he wasn’t all that big, and I probably could have easily defended myself. Psychological and emotional abuse is just as destructive, in some ways worse because it is insidious and not obvious to outsiders. For 18 months I was completely afraid to hire a lawyer because I couldn’t gauge his potential reaction and I feared he’d stop supporting the girls and me. I was working part-time but didn’t earn nearly enough to keep the house and stay where we were. His lawyer was one of his partners. After 5 years of inaction or bogus but effective delays on his part, his lawyer finally said he’d have to give me the house and pay sufficient spousal and child support, or he’d drop the case and he’d have to start over. Ultimately, I gave up all claims on his pension, investments, boat, two condos, and future income so I could have the house and spousal/child support. To his credit, over the years he was always good about money and did put both girls through undergraduate college.

By the time it was over, I had regained my personality, strength, zest for life, and relationships with friends and family who were always supportive and “on my side.” I had started to date toward the end, after my lawyer said it would be OK. (OK for him to cheat and have women but I better not date.) I really didn’t want to date at first because I was too wrapped up in my own problems and wouldn’t do that to my girls, who still thought maybe this was a passing fancy on his part. Once I did start to date, turns out they were not big fans of the two men I dated at different times.

Then, about two months before I signed the final papers (on Halloween no less) I had a phone call from my mother. She and my dad had moved back to the town where I was raised after my dad retired. My high school sweetheart (M) and his wife had separated. We’d stayed in touch over the years, exchanging Christmas cards and photos of our children. She and I had been friends from the age of 8, long before I met my sweetheart in high school. We were all friends, ran in the same crowd during school; he and I dated exclusively after sophomore year until we broke up just before graduation. He and she began seeing each other and were married after college. According to my mother, his mother said M was the aggrieved party, she had been having an affair with the priest from her church, and wanted a divorce. Everyone in town was shocked because they were the quintessential perfect couple to the rest of the world. He had the house, the family’s summer cottage, and their two children, aged 14 and 16. Yes, she was leaving her husband and children for an alcoholic, cheating priest!

M was a wreck, according to his mom; my mom simply said to me, “Do with this information what you will.” Took me a while and right after I signed my own divorce papers, I wrote to M, expressing my concerns, I knew what it was like to be cheated on (he’d known for a while and despite her protestations that the affair had ended, it didn’t), to be left with all the responsibility because the cheater obviously didn’t want any of the issues of raising children, etc. My only words of advice were to avoid bad-mouthing her to the children. I tried not to do that with my ex to my girls because that can really totally disastrous. Children are far more perceptive than we realize; they figure it out eventually. I didn’t hear back from M right away but when I did, it was like we were 16 years old again.

Our high school reunion was scheduled for the next summer (this was now November) and he asked if I planned to come or would I be coming home before then. I was planning a trip with the girls to visit my parents that Christmas. I did visit, M and I saw each other and the 25 years melted away. I think we both knew at that point, we would eventually be together. He had to wait until the next fall for his divorce to be final, but in that time, we saw each other when we could despite the distance, my girls adored him right from the start, and we were married about a year after his divorce was final, when it was a good time for me to move my younger daughter after she finished 8th grade (older daughter was in college).

We bought a house, he moved to it in May, I moved in July, and we combined families, with children who were 14, 16, 18, and 21 when we married.

Our children are now all in their 40s, have children and we have a wonderful relationship with each other. We have never thought in terms of “step”; as far as we’re concerned we have 4 adult children and 7 wonderful grandchildren. They all get along, we have marvelous times together.

We still see his ex when she comes to see her children, we get along with her; her alcoholic priest husband never comes with her on these visits. The fact that we get along makes it so much easier for the children and grandchildren, no conflicts and actually, we all have a good time.

My cheating, ex-husband died of alcoholism nearly 20 years ago. He never remarried. After a heart attack and open-heart surgery, he would not stop drinking and drank himself to death. He was 60 and had several opportunities to get off the booze and reclaim his life. He couldn’t/didn’t and ultimately committed a slow form of suicide, which was very sad.

Yes, folks, life does return after a cheater is caught and either leaves or is thrown out. (I never had the courage to do that; in retrospect, the best thing he ever did was leave me, though I didn’t think so at the time). Have the strength and fortitude to rid yourself of a cheating spouse. It took me a long time to adjust to my situation, but when I did after 18 months, and finally took action, the relief was palpable. One friend said “the walls in your house sing again.”

I started moving ahead for my sake and for the sake of my daughters. They are well-adjusted women, who came to terms with their father, his actions, and especially his alcoholism, over the years. My husband’s children have done the same with their mother. Don’t give up hope because better days do follow the agony and tears, humiliation and hurt, stress and strain, and attempts to hold everything together. It isn’t easy, but it can be done.

I realize not everyone hooks up with a former sweetheart, but decent men and women are out there, people who will respect and love you and who will honor the marriage vows. We’ve now been married 27 years, longer than either of us was the first time around. I like the old Sinatra song, “Love is better the second time around!” Yep, it is! Don’t rush into another relationship, give yourself a chance to adjust, figure out who you are and what you want. When the opportunity presents itself, you’ll know and you’ll know whether that person is the right one for you. Until then, smile through the tears…you can do it and good things will happen.

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  • Just wow.

    More proof that we’re not dealing with a new phenomenon — cheating assholes have always existed, and apparently the basic playbook is very old.

    Let us be thankful that we have Chump Nation to help us through it — something Aunt J didn’t have.

    She must be just unbelievably proud of you Tracy — give her a big thank you hug from all of us.

    • UXworld, I thought the exact same thing — there is nothing new under the sun. People just didn’t talk as openly years ago as we do today.

      SO GRATEFUL for ChumpLady and ChumpNation!!!!

      And Aunt J’s story certainly gives me hope! <3

  • I’ve posted my story here so many times I hate to belabor it, but with few differences, my story is very much like this one…. very long period of me trying and being a good and faithful spouse while late spouse got more and more selfish and mean. I thought the cheating kicked in about 2/3 of the way into the marriage but I was wrong it was much earlier.

    I knew things were bad, but I didn’t admit to myself how bad they were until after he died. I tried to be mighty but I had a lot more fear than I realized I had.

    Like CLs aunt, I never had the courage to actually leave – I had saved money for the day I chose to pull the trigger but I hadn’t gotten brave enough to actually do it when he died suddenly.

    6 months after he died I was reacquainted with a boyfriend I met as a young child and dated as a young adult. We hadn’t seen each other in 26 years when we were reacquainted. His wife had run off 12 years earlier and his divorce and annulment were in the files for years, so we were free to have an unencumbered relationship.

    My kids are older than his single child and a lot wilder than his and they kind of scared him a bit, so its good they were older and launching. We as a group would not have done well living all together as a blended family – kudos to those of you who can make this work.

    We’re now like a couple of teenagers with a really high credit card limit…we have a lot of fun and do what we want but more than anything, we APPRECIATE the kindness we get from one another. He has offered to fund my education so I may go back to school and finish the bachelors degree I never got (my parents decided my education was less important than my brothers). I support his decision to devote his time to woodworking instead of getting a stressful city job.

    I don’t know how many years we will have together, but it is wonderful to know what it is like to be loved…its still human and flawed (like everything humans do) but it is precious and good and Im glad I took the chance. (I don’t, however present myself as “better than” Chumps who choose to stay single – that is a valid life choice).

    Despite YEARS AND YEARS of abuse, life is better than I ever thought it could be and that is what I hope to share.

    • Unicornomore,

      Your story alls gives me so much hope. I’m glad you share it. There are new chumps here everyday and it’s a beautiful reminder to those that are still working on rebuilding a shattered life.

    • I love the happy ending to your chump story, Unicorn. You have given us so much encouragement.

      Teenagers with high credit card limits–so funny. But you do have maturity and life experience and self-control also. You two deserve all the fun and adventures you can come up with.

      Love and hugs.

    • Sweet story. I’m impressed by their resiliency. I’ve been researching that. Tough self care 🙂 Trying to remember that we don’t choose or anticipate getting hurt but staying in that space and not fighting like heck to find a way out (whatever that looks like) is choosing suffering, at least in part.

      The other thing this story made me think of is how blurry the window can get when you are in the middle of it. I look back now and see how heavily I was gaslighted, maybe not intentionally but that’s what happened. My husband just openly started dating other people after well over a decade of marriage and then would make ME for guilty for ever thinking he wasn’t serious about the marriage. I mean wow. Just wow. And I’m not a weak person by any means. For hose of you coming out of the blur. It does get better!!!

    • “Despite YEARS AND YEARS of abuse, life is better than I ever thought it could be and that is what I hope to share.”

      Thank you unicornnomore, I am in the trenches, court-mandated to share custody with my X, not easy, but your story gives me hope that once my little one is grown, I can start a new chapter… Hopefully titled “Adventures of a middle aged chump with a high credit card limit” :)!

  • My heart is overflowing from Aunt J’s story.

    I’m two years out since the final d-day. Divorce should be final in 30-60 days.

    He and the OW have already broken-up and he’s moved on to yet another.

    I was never one who dated much before marriage and I do wonder if it is my destiny to be alone. I pray not to be. I loved my husband and family. I loved being a wife. But I can see now that being alone and sometimes lonely is better than being in a marriage with a cheater and always lonely.

    • My divorce was finalized just over a year ago.

      X cheated using Adult Friend Finder, Ashley Madison (ha!) and escorts and is now in relationship with his true love (ha, ha!) for just over a year.

      I have done some online dating and met some good guys (they’re out there!) and some not so good ones. Thanks to CL I am going slowly and fixing my picker–red flags mean slow down, and listen to my gut instinct. But I agree, being alone (which sometimes, not always, means being lonely) is far better than being in a loveless, lonely marriage that’s rooted in lies.

      • kmanning… know this… my STBX was also on AFF in our marriage… it was no surprise when the OW he left me for discovered he was on AFF… Cheaters don’t change character, they just change victims.

        Rock on.

        • I always wondered if my ex was on Ashley Madison or AFF. How does one find that out? It wouldn’t surprise me one bit that he was. NOTHING would surprise me anymore.

          • I got onto Ashley Madison after ex left to see if he was there, couldn’t find him. Then the leak came out with my email in it! Disgusting place.

          • My first d-day was finding an IM chat and email he had with someone. The next time was creating a search within a very small radius of our town and there he was, ha! The final time – a subpoena 🙂

    • Yes, ICanSee!!! I’ve always said, It’s better to be single and lonely than married and lonely!

      Hang in there, Friend!!!

  • Wow wow wow.

    Thank you for that ray of hope.

    CN has been my beacon of strength and I couldn’t be more happy.

    There really is light, I agree with your aunt, there are so many good people out there who are serious about life, love and commitment?

  • What a sweet story with a happy ending … love those kind of stories best. Yes, there are so many good people out there in the world. Why on earth would we waste even one more precious minute on the cheaters we happened upon. They aren’t even worth a glance backwards. Just watch out for those guys with sailboats …

    • Yes it was a sweet story. Aunt J looks so happy. I love the picture with the water. Notice there are no sailboats in the background either? Hmmmm.

      Also is Aunt J wearing Blublocker sunglasses? 🙂 Remember those infomercials years back?

  • I love this story!! Been almost three years and I am still working on myself but do know that he did me a favor, I had been miserable for years and did lose myself to someone who didn’t deserve me. I don’t think you realize the emotional toll of living with someone and them slowly erasing the person you were until you are completely out of the relationship. Loving someone should not hurt the way my love for him did. I was an unhappy shell of who I am now and wouldn’t change a thing.

    • Dito!!! She wore me down to the point I wanted to be 6 feet under. You described it so accurately. Thanks for this comment.

      • Skankboy wore me down to the point where right now, I have no interest in being in a romantic relationship. Maybe one day, but I’m not our looking for one. 🙂

        • I am solidly at ‘meh’, but the thought of a romantic relationship makes me break out in hives. I lost too much of myself in marriage and motherhood; everyone and everything came before my needs. I would rather be alone for the rest of my life (and, yes, at times lonely) than to fall down that well ever again. I know I may be missing some great love, but my peace of mind means more to me right now than the need for a relationship.

      • I knew it was time when I said to a girlfriend “I pray for death… his to be clear… not mine. I’m awesome.”

  • This has always been and will always be my favorite post Tracy. I came across it in your archives early in 2013 not long after I followed a link to your site. I was languishing in my third year of reconciliation with a remorseless cheater and your site was the first one I’d come across that didn’t sugar coat cheating. It was those articles that helped me see the light but since I was in my 26th year of marriage, I was so scared of leaving. Then I found the article about your aunt.

    Honestly it was the first time I could imagine taking that first scary step. There was so much hope, happiness and pure joy in her life once she let go of her cheating ex, that it made it easy to believe that everything would be okay if I followed suit. It took a while but I finally found the courage to leave by the end of the year. Your site held up a mirror to what could never fixed and she was the inspiration to finally let go.

    I’m so sorry to read that her husband suffers from Alzheimer’s now. My prayers go out to their family.

  • I’m glad someone got a happy ending. I have a nonverbal autistic child, so I’m looking at lifelong celibacy at this point. Oh well.

    • DemHoez, I wish I could swing by your place and bring you a beverage of your choice and give you a hug. There are so many of us Chumps out there in positions similar to yours. Please do not isolate yourself. Join support groups. Find others you can feel community with. Don’t close off possibilities. Your happy ending is out there.

  • This actually speaks to a point that I have come to realize in this whole shit show. We must learn from those that walk the path before us.
    My mother is a quiet submissive Christian woman who was married to my cheater father for 25 years. The cheating finally got just so blatant and in her face that she really couldn’t just pretend it wasn’t there anymore and they divorced. She then married another man who is not a cheater but runs her. She is happy in her situation I guess, but doesn’t know how to have an independent thought, she’s just from another generation.
    I got blindsided by my cheater and had my whole life wrapped up in his. I have chosen to not move from one fucked up situation to another fucked up situation. I have a boyfriend but I’m building MY life. I live in MY house, handle MY finances, do what I want. I take a part of my alimony every month and put it in a fuck you fund. I educate my kids on the importance of being independent and putting themselves in a position to be okay on their own. But….If one of my kids is ever in a situation like mine I want there to be an account so they can put down first, last, and security and retain a good atty.
    I could barely get dressed when my cheater left for the AP, getting my shit together to fight him was overwhelming.
    The walls in my house sing, but if they ever stop singing I’ll be ready next time.

      • She said she puts away part of her alimony so if one of her kids ever has to leave a bad relationship.

        “If one of my kids is ever in a situation like mine I want there to be an account so they can put down first, last, and security and retain a good atty.”

        For me, there was $40,000 in my escape fund but I was still afraid. Cheater control freak always put all the cars in his name and if I ever left, I knew I would likely have to buy a car first.

        Another thing that kept me trapped is that my job is so hard and stressful…I used to tell myself “at home I have one asshole and at work I have dozens” so going from part time to full time “support yourself” territory was a horrible thought to me. I envy those who have a mighty “throw the bastard out” story…I wonder sometimes if God had enough of my cowardice and tended the situation Himself to get it over with.

        • Thanks for the explanation, Unicornomore, of the F You Funds.

          And I’m with you about God tended to the situation. I truly believe with all my heart that He woke me from a deep sleep the night I caught my now ex out with the ho-worker. God has seen EVERYTHING my ex has done to me in the last 25 year’s and He knew I’d never leave him.

          A few years prior to D-day. We were on a family trip out west. Ex wanted to take the kids and I rapeling with a tour group. I was apprehensive about going, because of the danger involved, but he said it would be a “great family time together.” Well, we get there and my husband latched on to the attrative German girl. He spent most of the day with her (we were on the tour for about nine hours), showing off for her, taking pictures of her and everyone else (Mr. Nice Guy) and the only time he was with the kids and I was when we ate lunch and one other time for about a half hour. TWICE my kids commented to me, “Why is dad not with us and with her?” I wanted to say, “Because your dad is a fucking womanizer.”, but I said, “I don’t know.” That night I got angry at him for what he did and of course he had his story that he didn’t do anything wrong. He was just talking to her and everyone else to get “trip suggestions.” We didn’t need any fucking trip suggestions as I spent weeks and weeks planning our trip! I couldn’t sleep that night and walked the streets for hours and that was the first and only time I thought, “I can’t do this anymore.” But then I spackled and tried my best to make the best of it. God knew I would spackle forever.

        • This is exactly whats stopping me. I have had health problems but not eligible for any kind of pension, just enough to keep me in a lot of pain and some hospital visits every few months, I am totally supported by my husband. For religious reasons and because my health could not take my physically and mentally demanding job, that is also an industry renowned for bullies. The thought of being thrown back into the world to support myself fulltime, to a job almost as bad as my husband terrifies me. Its either that or cleaning houses which I am seriously consdering. In the meantime I stay.

    • Paintwidow.
      Wow. Fab kick-ass post. I have copied this!!!
      Fuck You Fund is a great idea. A great idea.
      You are incredible and I really like the idea that if your walls stop singing you will be ready.
      I LOVE THIS POST.

    • Love this, Paint Widow. I’m six years out from the final D-Day, sixteen years out from the first one. I have often thought that I wasted those first ten years after the first, but my daughter, now 26 recently told me that she was glad I stayed with her father those years as she got to have a dad. A good dad, she says.
      So I have adjusted my thinking a bit. Rather than ‘wasting’ those ten years, I ‘sacrificed’ them for my child. I am rather conflicted about this, but the past is the past. And my daughter has grown into a fine woman.

    • I also had an FU Fund. I knew I was going to divorce before he did, so I changed my direct deposit to my personal bank account (had never closed from before my marriage), but continued paying the bills out of our joint accounts. I also started hoarding cash. Every time I went to the store I took out some cash, my parents sent me $ to cover their portion of shared bill and I pocketed that (while he paid it).. so on down the line. The day I filed for divorce, I move my half of “our” money into my personal accounts that he could not access. I had like $3000 cash locked in my desk at work and secured my chunk of the joint money. My parents also have considerable assets and I had discussed with them the possibility of needing to borrow some money. Fortunately it never came to it, but it was nice to know I had not only plenty of assets right at hand, but the deep pockets of family to protect me as a threat if needed. I was well prepared to say “You know my parents financial situation and they are not big fans of you right now. I suggest that you do not give them a reason to take out some of that anger by making sure I fight you every step of the way.”

      I know a lot of people don’t have money, but do what you can to get some options lined up… it makes a big difference.

  • What a beautiful love story. I share some similarities with Aunt J in that my kids and I got left by a professional man who was chasing on “the good life.” Before my divorce was final (it dragged out for 18 months) I just happened to meet the man – a fellow chump – who would become my husband at a work related event – completely unexpectedly. In January, we will celebrate our 11th year together as a couple and our 9th wedding anniversary. He is a down-to-earth guy who loves family life and even adopted my two children a few years ago. We, too, have worked hard to have a cordial relationship with my X, and we still make it possible for X to spend time with the children even after the adoption. I can attest to the idea that love is indeed better the second time around. Not perfect, but better.

  • Gee, I just love a happy ending. While I know that being in another relationship is not for me, I applaud anyone who takes the plunge. I will be keeping them in my prayers as they navigate the challenges of Alzheimer’s.

  • Aunt J’s story is always one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing it again Tracy. Give Aunt J and M a big hug from all of us here at CN who draw so much hope and inspiration from her story.

  • What a beautiful story to read first thing this morning. You can tell from her writing what a sweet and kind lady she is. When she describes how she felt like a shell of the person she once was while with her cheating husband, it made me look back and see just how much I had slowly lost myself over the years also. Everyone who knew us thought we were the perfect couple also, but behind closed doors I was a very lonely and sad woman who was always on edge.

    When we first met, he was the most attentive and charming man I had ever met. I later learned through this site that it was just the love bombing stage. Within a year he went from being a man who couldn’t keep his hands off of me to rarely ever touching me. When we were dating he made me feel like the only girl in the room but over time I felt invisible. Towards the end I would make up excuses not go out with him because that’s when I’d feel the most invisible. He’d be scanning the room or the bar and when he did speak to me he would speak loudly in order to get someone else’s attention to engage in conversation. And of course I felt that it must be me who wasn’t interesting enough, or fun enough or pretty enough to capture his attention.

    I also remember the cycles that seemed to come like clockwork once a month. He’d bring me flowers, tell me he loved me and give me just enough crumbs to stay and believe that things would get better. But then I’d catch him in another lie, or on porn when he hadn’t touched me for yet another month and then we’d have a blow up and he’d fly into a rage, gas light the hell out of me and blame shift until I was a sobbing, pathetic mess.

    It’s been 18 months now since D-day and my filing, and despite all his delays and noncompliance he finally agreed to the settlement that I had offered a year ago. I’m waiting to hear back from my attorney when the papers will be ready to sign and when the final court date will be. I’ve been packing to move back to my home state where my kids and grand kids live and I’ve secured a nice apartment. I’m excited to be able to finally move on and far away from him and all of this nightmare, but I’m also apprehensive as he hasn’t complied to anything yet and I just can’t see him rushing to provide me with the settlement check so that I can move away. He will control it to the very last second.

    Reading her story and so many others on here gives me hope that I will regain a life and one day soon…. my walls will sing as well.

    • HeLovesMe… your story is my story… you are not alone and you ALREADY have a life… and it is one without a disordered narcissist. You’re a caterpillar now, but soon… very soon… you’ll be a butterfly.

    • HeLovesMe, I could have written word for word what you wrote. How you felt when you were dating. How he went from a man who couldn’t keep his hands off you into a man who rarely touched you. The scanning of the room while out. I thought it was my imagination that my ex did that, but after D-Day, my eyes were OPEN and I realized it for what it was. The lies, the porn, the blameshifting and gaslighting.

      I’m happy for you that you have plans to move back to your home state. I’m stuck here by the cheater for a few more years as we have minor children together. Good luck with your settlement and your move. 🙂

      • Thank you Martha, I’m so ready to be away from all of this. And they do make us feel like it’s all our imagination, and we’re even told that it is. And yep, you really can’t see it for what it is until you are away from them that your eyes are opened and you can put it all together. Hang in there for just a few more years…and good luck to you too!

  • Aunt J’s words…..“people who will respect and love you and who will honor the marriage vows.” – This clocks it perfectly.

    Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.

    Respect and loyalty are not upgrades in a relationship, they are a requirement.

    If you constantly have to tell someone the same exact thing about how you feel and they don’t change it, understand they don’t respect you.

    Someone who is worthy of your love will never put you in a situation where you feel you must sacrifice your dignity, your integrity, or your self-worth to be with them.

    The more chances you give someone the less respect they’ll start to have for you. They’ll begin to ignore the standards that you’ve set because they’ll know another chance will always be given. They’re not afraid to lose you because they know no matter what you won’t walk away. They get comfortable with depending on your forgiveness. *Never* let a person get comfortable disrespecting you.

    There will be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. Always pick being respected. That love without respect was always fleeting – but that respect could grow into real, lasting love.

    • I love this. “Never let a person get comfortable disrespecting you.” So true, so painfully true. I think of it as being at the core of why I was a chump. I just kept taking it, and he kept dishing it out. Thankfully, I will never allow this kind of treatment again. I mistook my vows of “for better or worse” to mean I had to put up with his moods, lying, disrespect, abuse. Never again. Gosh it’s so wonderful to be cheater free!!

      • The problem is–I never let Hannibal get comfortable with disrespecting me. I handed him his head on any number of occasions (even publicly, if warranted). But the disordered are not sensitive to consequences the way the rest of us are (I even teased him about it in other contexts).

        The fact is you CANNOT train someone how to treat you if the person is entitled; they view your protestations the way they view a gnat buzzing around their heads, and then they do whatever they want.

        The only option is to RUN.

        • Yes, Tempest, I also kicked James Bond’s ass every single time it was required. I notified the authorities when necessary, too. I followed a sensible plan for curing Narcissism (google it), that included: maintained the attachment, stopping the abuse, challenging him to improve (in a way meaningful to him), and increase emotional intelligence.

          Yes, I have seen that the disordered are not sensitive to consequences the way the rest of us are. They just go more underground with their conniving ways.

    • “They’re not afraid to lose you because they know no matter what you won’t walk away.”

      Yes, this mindset just allows them to ramp up the abuse over the years. And poor chump just takes it and settles for less and less as years go by. Things aren’t good … maybe I can make my needs even smaller and it will help.

      Sure, you are a wise old owl. Love your posts.

    • Jeez, SureChumpedAlot, great carpentry ~~ you nailed it! Thanks a heap. It is stated so purely.

      Respect and Loyalty. I got disdain and devaluing behaviour. I told him near the end that if we were in a trench together that I would have to watch him more carefully than the so-called enemy! Truer words I’ve never spoken. V

    • I could not have said it better myself, SureChumpedAlot. Respect and loyalty. I got them both during the lovebombing stage. When that stage ended, so did both the respect and the loyalty. I, of course, noticed, but I thought it would get better. Instead, it got worse and worse. The STD (lack of loyalty) and failure to inform me that I needed medical intention when it was known (lack of respect) finally made me realize that there was no future. I walked (ran) away. We were not yet married, so it was a little easier in that regard, although it was still very difficult emotionally. Incredibly, I got a hoover by proxy two years later when a mutual friend gave me a telephone number and asked (demanded) that I call. Really?

      I declined that “invitation” and have heard nothing since. Like the folks in the story, I finally met and married the love of my life and have lived very happily since. Yes, good people are out there and life can be wonderful again, whether one chooses to share it with another or not.

    • “*Never* let a person get comfortable disrespecting you.”

      This this a million times this!!!! No matter who it is: lover, spouse, parent, friend, boss, etc.

    • SureChumpedAlot – Your comment is spot on! I remember a day or two after DDay, I was in shock, taking a long walk to try and sort out my options. They boiled down to:
      File for divorce and have my kiddo grow up as a child of divorce.
      Put aside my self-respect and stay married to a cheating liar for the sake of keeping my kiddo’s family together.

      Both options sucked balls, but at the end, I knew I would not be able to look at myself in a mirror if I let him anywhere close to me.

      His actions since have confirmed again and again that divorcing him with dignity and remaining NC beyond kid’s logistic was indeed the least worse choice I had.

  • A great and positive story, Aunt J and CL. I have started seeing someone-never thought I’d get to that position. Your statement rings true: “figure out who you are and what you want. When the opportunity presents itself, you’ll know and you’ll know whether that person is the right one for you.” Due to the vast knowledge and experiences shared on this site, I’ve made major progress sin finding out who I am, what I need, and that I am ok. This person I am seeing is not the right one for me, not good for me, not what I want. Thank goodness I came to that realization early and can mark it up to fixing my picker.

  • Definitely a story I needed to re-read this morning. Thank you!

    It’s been 2 years since the divorce was final and D-Day was early 2013, and I feel like that was a lifetime ago.

    I wonder all the time if I will ever find another man again to share my life with. I’m only 36 but there are a lot of douchecanoes out there, ya know? Also, I really really love being single. I feel so free. But I do miss dudes. Only time will tell I guess.

    Anyway, thank you again for posting!

  • Thank you, CL. This reminds me that the possibilities in life are limitless.

    And that it would be best to relax and leave myself open to some of them.

  • What does this mean?

    As I am uncovering or understanding more filth on the cheating son of a bitch, I am experiencing a new emotion: deep, tremendous shame that I was involved with such a piece of shit.

    Never, in my life, have I felt such embarrassment that I was willingly involved with someone who is so lacking in any ethical standards. Like waking up from being put to sleep, the truth of who he is shocking. How did I not see?

    Beyond being a knucklehead, I was blind, deaf, and in a zombie state. I see now why my friends and family were so exasperated with me.

    Has anyone felt this most miserable state of being?

    • Yes. A million times and counting.

      And I don’t expect it will ever go away entirely.

      But this feeling is a perfect and appropriate reflection of our humanity and decency (something our cheaters cannot claim for themselves). And we must use it to power ourselves forward, as painful as it can be at times.

      • What a ride from hell: from love to despair to shame. Cringe inducing shame that I allowed such a varmint in my life, home and bed.

        Thank you for the encouragement, UXworld. I want to put a paper bag over my head.

        • Save the paper bag for the cheater please!

          You didn’t see this because you were projecting your good values onto him. Just because you have ethical standards, it doesn’t mean he does. That is why we feel so miserable, because we were snookered. We were being loving – only to the illusion – of who we thought they were. And who they really were, was disordered souls sniffing out the strange.

          • And, (hanging head in shame) I tele spoofed him last night, and he sounded as happy as a clam in the sand. Light! Carefree! Playful. Hundreds of lies and life destruction- no biggie.

            I hung up. I am throwing this shit sandwich in the garbage. Call the dump truck.

            Good grief!

            • Yes Devil on a Chain, good news is garbage pick up is on Tuesday!

              To see the path to truth and light (thanks AOoK) you *MUST* go No contact with him. You will *NEVER* start to heal while in contact with him.

              Let the clam just get washed up in the ocean, not your concern any more doll. 🙂

    • I felt deep shame and an enormous sense of failure, Devil on a Chain.

      The emotions i processed after leaving my ex were deep, and it was easier to blame myself than see he was a piece of shit. He is absolutely a piece of shit, under the charming, handsome veneer. He is an alcoholic, narcissistic man who is a liar, cheater, and who can be reliably be counted on to abandon when the going gets tough.

      I only wasted 2.5 years of my life with him, and only a year in a committed relationship. It has taken me over 4 years to process the relationship due to other massive traumas i was processing at the time. I had the good fortune that he was so blatant about his character, and despite the trauma i was processing, i was strong enough to see it and get out. He was emotionally abusive, which is more insidious than physical abuse. It got in my head, and his abuse had more lasting effects than if he had hit me.

      It took me a long, long time not to turn my anger against myself. Nearly a year after leaving him passed before i could relate to my anger as a healing, liberating force again.

      I blamed my natural sexual impulses that he manipulated, my own issues for not making the relationship work, my own issues for falling in love with an abuser and manipulator like my dad (goal of 20s, not to ever have an abusive relationship, man, i did not see that one coming, FAIL!) and on and on…

      The reality is this: They are con men. You cannot 100% of the time avoid relationships with abusive and manipulative people. Our society produces them in droves. You will run into them, be hit on by them, and be seduced by them. That is what they DO. It is their game. It is an old, old game.

      P.T. Barnum said it best, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” You got conned. I got conned. Recovering your pride and trust in self after such hideous intimate betrayal takes a long time. I still am working on self-trust and confidence.

      Eventually, from this pain does come wisdom if you have the courage to learn from a bad experience. Focus on moving forward, practicing love and forgiveness for yourself. It takes courage to live life, and courage to accept and learn from our choices and mistakes.

      • Your generous response helped me so much, ChefBella. I was conned with deliberate intent. I am trying to breathe through it today and not let the mind memories derail the day.

        Even hearing his voice last night in my silly phone game triggered some type of adrenaline flood that soaks every thought with dread and panic.

        I believe he was (is) an addiction. And even though I am not a drinker, I am using the AA “Big Book” to help me think differently. It has helped. I need to read your post again, take some big huge breaths and stand in the present moment.

        I survived. I recently found out that all of his past long terms lovers are either dead or in prison or financially ruined. Thriving is next.

        • Devil on a Chain, good for you for figuring out he is an addiction. They truly are! I look at my relationship with my ex. He gave so little to our relationship for our entire marriage and just kibbles of attention the year before we got married. But I was HOOKED on the love bombing stage. If I think about it now, I still get that same feeling in my chest and it was over 25 years ago. It was intoxicating. Like nothing I ever experienced with any man.

          And I watched my ex-narc husband saying the same things to other women that he said to me. I was lucky to see emails and Facebook messenger messages to women he was interested in. All the charm. All the flattery. Lots of the same words he used on me.

          Great job figuring it out. I don’t recognize your name or ChefBella’s name, so welcome to Chump Nation. I know you will find it a place of healing.

  • I remember reading Aunt J’s story last February when I first came across CL (yeah, I spent the week my kids were with their dad, binging on Chump Lady — I called it “divorce porn” at the time. 🙂 ). I’m sorry to hear that Uncle M has Alzheimer’s. 🙁 I’m not surprised one bit that Aunt J is taking great care of him.

    I like to hear other people’s inspirational stories, because I know for most people, they’ll find a loving, respectful and faithful spouse. I know for me, I’ll never find that person. Even from all that I’ve learned about red flags, etc. I know that no matter what I do, I’ll still pick a shitty man. I just don’t trust men anymore. And no offense to the chump men on here. I’m sure they are all great guys. I even have a chump man friend who found a wonderful woman within weeks of his divorce being final. And they are still going strong one year later and he’s a decent guy that wouldn’t cheat. I just don’t ever want to go through something like this again; this whole thing has brought me to the edge of death so many times. I have read so many stories here at CN about the cheater/liar not revealing themselves until way after they got married. There were no red flags before the marriage. I for one had many red flags, but I failed to act on them. That’s on me for not trusting my gut and for believing I known liar. So I will be single. Hopefully God’s plan for my life doesn’t involve me living until I’m really old, because I’m not sure how much more I can take of this so-called “abundant life” that He’s promised me.

    • Hey Martha
      Your post touched me today as it sounds so sad. I’m a newbie chump only four months or so since my three d-days piled up (I just noticed I am not counting months any more really). We were married for 22 years. He cheated on me for sure for the last four of those. Before then I don’t know and don’t need to! We have three beautiful boys. I have been raising them pretty much single handed since he mostly works abroad. We are in the process of divorcing. Maybe three months until its final.
      I was completely blindsided. Had no clue. Would have sworn on my life he was one of the good guys. it is so very painful.
      Like you, I feel that there will never be a special person for me again. I feel too hurt, too vulnerable and just too afraid to trust myself to spot a bad one. But I think if we do spend time on our own and learn to love ourselves the way we love others that’s a very big first step. After that I bed we will settle down to just enjoying life on our own terms and in our own way. We might be a bit lonely sometimes but that’s ok. And then I think the magic might happen to us- when we are not looking or worrying about it. When we are enthralled by our self made lives. We will learn to trust our gut, we will respect ourselves, we will be happy.
      You are a woman of faith, I am not but trust in that faith. Good things come to those that wait !
      And I disagree with you on one point. I hope you live a long long life wearing the clothes that give you joy, seeing the world as the special place it is, seeing the good in others, painting your house purple, buying a red car, wearing silver shoes and eating cheese at night with wine, singing out loud when doing chores, learning to play the ukulele………ok this may be my plan but live your life with as much joy as you can. It’s the only one we have and it’s a gift. The earlier post talked of a fuck you fund. Well. We should live a fuck you life!
      The best revenge and all that. Smile every day. You help many here with your posts and your kindness. Pour all your love into yourself.
      Who cares if we ever get married again – it’s not a requirement for happiness.
      Hugs to you.

      • Thanks for writing, Capricorn. 🙂 I intellectually know that everything you wrote is true, but right now my heart just doesn’t believe it. I went off my depression meds, because of side-effects. But I’m now realizing I’m need to go back on something. So off to the doctor I go next week for a different prescription. Two years since D-Day and I thought I would be okay without meds. No such luck. 🙁 My heart is so broken and he broke me down emotionally and psychologically for 25 years, but I had no clue he was doing it. I realized last night that I need to FORGIVE MYSELF for not loving myself enough to walk away even before we got married. I’m very angry at myself for that, because I *knew* something was terribly wrong in how he was treating me (devaluing me, angry, cold and dismissive).

        Anyway…..I’m so sorry you are going through this too. You sound very strong, in control with a very positive message about the future. 🙂 Thank you again for writing. 🙂

    • Martha – I feel identical to you about ever finding another partner.
      Why would I want to risk getting so singed and put up with such emotional cruelty for so long?
      The experience did me completely in and, as much as I really appreciate all the wonderful and insightful gentlemen who speak up on this site. It’s always so illuminating when I hear from one of the guys. Of course, everything seems to point that men generally don’t like to share their emotions and deep feelings to even their wives, let alone on a public forum. So, thank you to the men who have also opened up and helped me. You know, my ex was a Clam when it meant talking true emotions, otherwise I might have had damn clue that he’d never been happy, never loved me and didn’t now, and was never sexually attracted to me. (Many of you have heard that before).

      SureChumpedALot put it to words perfectly. Without respect, you really have nothing. Zilch.
      Love and respect go together like hands, ears, eyes…

      So I started going down the slew of the proverbial memory lane, the love canal, from when we first met.
      Really, he was too good to be true and he used to tell me that also.
      Big flattering and big pedestals.
      It seemed we existed like that for another 35 yrs.
      EXCEPT: the little nagging issue from the get-go where he withheld intimacy and sex from the beginning of our marriage. So, naturally(?) I went along with it because he treated me so well otherwise. (You probably recall me saying we had ‘sex’ 3-4 times a week but it was only me satisfying him and nothing for me. When I’d ask him for a little payback on occasion, ooh, a back rub would be so nice. Nope. Nada. Not once without it leading to sex for him. Uhhh. Ever heard of foreplay, loser?

      This SureChumped resonated when he said ‘Someone who is worthy of your love will never put you in a situation where you feel you must sacrifice your dignity, your integrity, or your self-worth (I own this one) to be with them.’

      So, Martha, I am all out of bullets after that many years of losing every shred of self-worth because the pattern of no intimacy was like getting rejected every single day we were married. I was always so sad about and I don’t think I ever should have allowed myself the back burner of the relationship for so many years. I can never put up with that kind of pain ever again.
      I told him at the end that I wished I’d never met him because all those years of pain and the horrible break-up wasn’t worth even one day we spent together. Nothing was true.

      Sign me single forever.

      Respect! Powerful word for sure!

      (Sorry if this post seems all over the place. Memory lane took a lot of twists and turns – lol)

      • Hello, SheChump. No, your post wasn’t all over the place. My ex did the same thing. Withheld intimacy as soon as we were married. It broke my heart. I thought it was me and that I was doing something wrong, so I tried harder, worked harder — could never do enough! And foreplay? What’s that? I used to cry during sex, because I felt attacked. A little kissing. Grab my chest. Grab my genitals. Intercourse. Done. I eventually got brave and told him I wasn’t happy with our love life and I give him credit, because he did at least try not to be so selfish in bed.

        I’m so sorry that you feel the same way I do. I feel the same way you do — I wish I never met him. People have said to me, “You don’t mean that. You have your beautiful children!” I do have my beautiful children, but I wish my children’s father wasn’t a narc who cheated on his wife and also cheated his children out of so much of his time, because he was always “working.”

        And I also get what you said that “nothing was true.” That was and is the hardest thing to accept. My entire relationship and marriage with him was a sham. A con. At least I know I was truthful in our marriage and my love for him was real. However, I loved a fake person that doesn’t exist. I know I’m capable of deep and abiding love and he is not.

        Thanks for writing, SheChump. We’ll get through this and everyone has told me that we’ll be stronger because of it. I really do hope that’s true. 🙂

    • Right there with you. I cannot complain about my life. I have a good but demanding job, good friends, great kids, and I wasn’t economically destroyed in the divorce. Still, I have huge trust issues, now. If someone I spent most of my adult life with and loved wholly and unquestionably (and saw through enormous health issues) could fool me, how can I ever trust someone again? I just can’t and I refuse to ever go through a other experience like that again! So I will content myself with what I do have and not worry about finding Mr. Right.

      • Yes, Violet. It’s being totally fooled by someone that you loved that’s the problem. My ex said my “trust issues” were the problem in our marriage. Funny how I NEVER had any “trust issues” with anyone until I met him! So now I truly do have trust issues and it’s all because of him, his pathological lying and constant womanizing/cheating. I thought he was Mr. Right, but he was Mr. Wrong on so many levels. Hugs to you, Violet. 🙂 Thanks for writing.

  • I was separated for five years, a single dad with three kids in my house, and finalized the divorce three months ago.

    My two older sons finished college, so I sold the family home and am now renting and living with my youngest son who is just starting college.

    In that entire time I have been with nobody else, having decided to make sure my personal life was in order and I fully understood how and why I allowed myself to be married to the type of person I was married to.

    My wife cheated on me with a family member who lived in another state. It was a devastating turn of events and took years to absorb, learn and grow from.

    My kids have reestablished their relationship with my ex and she is still with her AP.

    She has moved and bought a home elsewhere in the state, and has contact with all her kids, so in many ways I feel that for her it was a no harm no foul outcome.

    I have dated occasionally but I have to say I do not enjoy the dating game having seeing how it is played today.

    Fortunately I spot BS and immaturity from miles away due to what I have learned in the Demise of my own marriage.

    Unfortunately, I have a very hard time in believing that mature, non dependent, loving and giving relationships are possible in this day and age.

    I have taken the actions to be open to dating, and have gone out of my comfort zone to include that in my new life, however in my gut I just do not believe it is possible to have a true life partner

    I wonder if I had done something horrible to a woman in a previous life time and in this lifetime it is my karma to be so betrayed, and followed up by being alone?

    All the other aspects of my life are incredible. I’m a great dad with excellent relations with my kids and daughter-in-law’s, have a great career, on my own business, I am active and yoga and sports, have interest in leading a full life, however I just do not feel it’s possible in this day and age to find a true partner

    • Rick, two things you said that struck me as why I feel the reason is why you don’t have a “true life partner”.

      “however in my gut I just do not believe it is possible to have a true life partner”

      ……AND……

      “however I just do not feel it’s possible in this day and age to find a true partner.”

      Let me ask you this….

      Have you ever thought that “you don’t feel/believe it’s possible” that you could have become a “great dad?”
      Have you ever thought that “you don’t feel/believe it’s possible” to have “excellent relations with your kids/daughter in law’s?”
      Have you ever thought that “you don’t feel/believe it’s possible” for you to “own your own business?”
      Have you ever thought that “you don’t feel/believe it’s possible” that you “have interest in leading a full life?”

      You see Rick, I don’t think you ever thought that way about the 4 examples above and that is why you were blessed to have an abundance of all of these wonderful things.

      You have to see the things (“true partner”) that you want as already yours. Own it. Know that the “true partner” will come to you at need. Then let it come. Don’t fret and worry about it. Don’t think about your lack of it. Think of it as yours, as belonging to you, as already in your possession. 🙂

      • It’s a tough dilemma.

        On one hand I agree with you that what you choose to feel in turn creates your reality.

        On the other hand I see quite a lot of what I’m seeing and it’s disturbing.

        I believe in love and in life partners, however the state of the world is quite different than what people’s hearts believe in and want

        For me, I’ll keep open to what I believe and if it never occurs in this lifetime, it doesn’t

    • rickb89, those are stellar relational accomplishments!! And your awareness level is sky high.

      So, it seems that you acquired a PhD/DPhil in Domestic Abuse. It takes quite a few years.

      And then you begin teaching, doing research (?dating ~~ whatever) and sharing your new craft/craftiness with a larger community.

      Sounds divine! Very well done, V

      • Thank you for responding.

        I definitely earned my PhD by getting my butt kicked so harshly

        It was quite the learning experience!

        And you are right that my hard won experience has allowed me to help so many others

    • Awww Rick. Surely you know from spending time on CL that there are so many women out there who would feel forever blessed to be with you. Unfortunately, “dating” is probably the worst possible way to find one of those ladies. What to do? Relax and enjoy being a dad, a successful business owner, and someone who has an active and interesting life. Just be “you” and the right someone will come along when you least expect it. I know that is what you are already doing … just wanted to let you know you are in demand just in case you doubt it.

      • Ha ha

        Well, I figured I had to put myself out there in order to create the Mojo to meet a potential life partner

        Intellectually, I know there are many women who are probably on the same page as me and have lived through a similar horror show

        Thanks Dixie Chump!

    • I can so relate to your comment. I do not believe there is some great guy out there waiting for me. I am a fact based person, and I cannot “believe” just because others say I should. I am beyond happy for those who have been able to take the proverbial leap of faith on new love. I’m just not able to do so; I cannot simply discard my experiences to date.

      • Good morning Violet

        I hear you!

        Getting back on the horse is not so easy, is it? Especially, now that we know so much more. The good news is we can spot what is not good for us pretty easily. The bad news is that it gets spotted everywhere!

        I guess the answer is to just let it go and take things day by day, and see what’s what.

        I choose to believe in love and life partners, which makes this whole process more difficult. On the other hand, it keeps me optimistic that good relationships can actually exist. That they are not unicorns.

  • Didn’t re-read the article today. I have read it before and frankly, it triggered me something awful. My stbx left me for her old boyfriend, and while I know the situation here is innocent and healthy, I just can’t go there right now.

    I wish only the best to any of you who experience this kind of healthy, loving re-connection with an old friend, but I can’t face these stories. Just thought I ‘d selfishly throw in my two cents.

    • Osktree
      Kudos to you. For knowing what triggers you and second for being selfish (which I can’t see quite why your post was but I’m not the brightest bulb!)
      I have no idea yet what might be triggering for me. I just blunder in and get triggered then don’t even realise and just wonder why I seem to be inexplicably angry. Lol.
      And chumps are always selfless souls which is why they got taken. Congrats to you for being selfish- I’m practicing!!

    • I understand this. Honestly, it triggered me something fierce too. It’s not the pairing that did it, it’s more the, “look, there is hope for everyone!” vibe I get. For some of us, there is no hope. With the way my kid is (he has nonverbal autism), I doubt I will ever find another life partner. No one wants to deal with that. His own father has forgotten he exists. (and it doesn’t help that I’m an ugly middle age woman lol) I walked away feeling miserable after reading the story.

      It’s not anyone’s fault. I guess it just brings into sharp relief what I’ve lost and what I will never have again.

      • Hmmm……you lost nothing when you lost a cheater but bedsores oozing pus with a side order of cholera.

        I understand the bleakness, and I admire you putting it out there. I think I hear depression talking.

        Here is a shot into cyberspace, to get you through the night, perhaps.

        It is true. We may never find true love. It could happen that cupid’s arrow never strike again. But, would it be the worst thing? The myth of coupledom has taken many people down the path to hell and ruin.

        Your life could be whatever you decide. As for me, DemHoez and Martha, not living with a man just flows better. I let my dogs wallow in the bed. We eat supper at 11PM. We watch weird programs about Honey Badgers or read big thick novels until 4AM. No one is there to check my behavior, control me, assert their selfish agenda. It just feels delicious. Sometimes hard. Lonely. But better than maneuvering the minefield of a lying scumbag’s bombs in my life.

        You may find a lover, who you see on YOUR terms, and then you have tea and toast in the morning and kiss him goodbye. You may find someone who is patient and kind and will love your boy, despite any challenges he presents. (Go to a support group, birds of a feather).

        This one man, this subhuman, who betrayed you…he does not get to write the rest of your life story. You do. And start by stop calling yourself ugly. Who defines that?

        When you lose hope, you lose some vital juice we need to plan for a new day. As corn pone as it sounds, don’t let that fucking turkey bring you down. Don’t worry about someone else’s “happily ever after”…..you can have your own, any damn way want it.

    • You’re not selfish oaktree. Those types of stories are triggering for you and it’s healthy to acknowledge those feelings. I think chumps even more than most other folks need to learn to enforce our boundaries. That’s what you’re doing and it’s far from selfish.

  • Cap, I guess I think it’s selfish and limiting of me not to be able to celebrate somebody else’s happiness. It just reminds me too much of my stbxw’s blissful “twu wuv.” I’ll get over it someday.

  • I loved this when I first found your site, and it still makes my heart happy.
    Thank you for all that you do, Tracy.
    You’ve saved an enormous amount of people years of pain and suffering.

  • I’m still in my marriage, d-day was about two months ago, our parents still want to sit and “try and fix it”. I’ve personally made my decision and informed my parents. The fucktard and I are still living together. Some days I feel okay and that I have moved on but today, I’ve just realized that I have a long road ahead. I have made a tough decision to walk away for the sake of my kids and myself. My kids are still young and so am and so is our marriage.

    Before we got married, while engaged he had an affair with a 16 year old. He was 32 at the time. And I was 27. Last year that is.

    His parents sat him down and spoke to him. He said he would never ever cheat. Recently I found her number saved in his phone under a different name and a 8minute long call is his call log. I asked him about it, he denied everything. Told his mother, she asked him. He denied it.

    I’m sad because I still love him but I made a decision that I can’t live with a liar. Believe it or not I would have given him a chance had he not denied. But it’s hard to believe how insane he is. I won’t wait to find evidence that they are sleeping together…. So fed up… Moving on. Some days are so hard though…. But rewriting my story just reminds me that I cannot live this way…. Feeling much better than when I started typing this comment. I will be okay

    • He is a sick man. I am glad you are walking away … perhaps running might be even better. Good luck to you. I know it is hard. (((Hugs)))

    • You cannot love a liar. He had sex with a 16 year old child. CHILD. You cannot love a pedophile.

      Focus your anger, let it protect you in these difficult months. Protect your children. Protect yourself.

      Do not be afraid of The Storm. Be The Storm.

      Mama Bear, your babies need you.

  • Life is SO much better without my cheating ex. 12 months past DDay and 9 months since Divorce, my walls indeed sing again. Only Time will tell if ex will keep up the child support payments and effort he makes to be a part of our 13 yr old daughter’s life.

    But I must say I have very little hope of meeting someone decent. Times have changed maybe, as so many men truly seem to be completely focused on sex, youth and beauty these days. And I have changed because I will never settle for being a wife or girlfriend “appliance” ever again.

    But I am Happy! And Free of drama and hurt. Long live the Survivors!

  • This is a lovely story; what I take away from it is that there is much potential for happiness after being cheated on.

    However, I do NOT think a second marriage (or intimate relationship) is necessarily what everyone needs, or even wants. The trouble with this story is that in reading it, it’s easy to infer that falling in love again is the cure for what ails all of us.

    It isn’t! The cure for what ails all of us is to stand on our own two feet. To love ourselves, to get past the narcissistic abuse and the codependency and all the crap that was visited upon us by our dirty cheaters. This is the most important sentence in the whole story, I think:

    “By the time it was over, I had regained my personality, strength, zest for life, and relationships with friends and family who were always supportive and ‘on my side.'”

    THAT’S our goal. Not the second marriage, which is wonderful and fortuitous and complete gravy. But the real pot at the end of the rainbow is regaining ourselves and our happiness in being ourselves. The story could have ended right there, and maybe it should have.

    If you can’t or don’t want to date or be involved with someone else after being cheated on, don’t be hard on yourself. The person who deserves and needs your love and respect the most is right there with you all the time. Learn to treat yourself with the same, affection, respect, and kindness as you do your best friend.

    I believe that when we love ourselves, the love multiplies, and the universe sends a bounty of love our way, whether it’s from our children, our friends, or one special love, it WILL come your way. And whatever comes, you will be happy.

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