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Where Did Chump Lady Come From?

bitter_monsterI was not always a badass.

People say the nicest things to me on this blog, and I feel compelled to remind them that I was a blithering chump. The chumpiest. I chased the unicorn at a full gallop. Had four D-Days. Wrote the goopiest, most mortifying entreaties to my cheater to not cheat on me. Did the marriage counseling, the therapy, read the books. Championed my “reconciliation” to baffled friends and family members, and even my divorce lawyer. I tangled with the skein so deeply, that’s why my hair looks like this.

So where did Chump Lady come from?

She was there all the time. She was the bitch inside me fighting back. Getting angry and occasionally winning the arm wrestling contest against chumpy me. Chumpy me had the strength of ten, thanks to hopium (a powerful hallucinogen and reconciliation-enhancing performance drug), but Chump Lady — my bad ass persona — was tenacious. She was the creeping doubt. The nag that woke me up at night saying “This doesn’t add up.” The protector who yelled back. Who questioned. Who insisted.

Once she got completely off the leash, and boxed his ears. YOU WILL NOT THREATEN HER! YOU WILL NOT SAY THOSE THINGS! WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Chumpy me tried to put her back in her box, but she wouldn’t stay down. She fomented revolution. She would not shut the hell up.

Always the questioning. And the late night homework. She read infidelity boards (so many chumps, so few Chump Ladies and Men). She schooled herself about personality disorders and narcissism. She saw patterns. Things fit together, so that when chumpy me bought the lies, she said “This is manipulation.” Chumpy me wanted to go down the rabbit hole, had elaborate theories about why he did the things he did. Chump Lady said “No, he likes it like this. It’s that simple.”

Chumpy me got very upset with Chump Lady. How could two such different people live inside one woman? Chumpy me implored Chump Lady to shut up. Don’t you know what this means? It means we’re going to be ALONE. Fucked over! Broke! Humiliated! Chump Lady said — hey, we’ll figure it out. Chumpy me was too tired to make the journey. Remained unconvinced of the outcome. Where the heck are we going?

Chump Lady said “to a better place. Any place is better than this place.”

Sometimes chumpy me and Chump Lady were not on speaking terms. If chumpy me gave it another try, had sex with the loser, Chump Lady grew silent and just expressed herself as disgust. “It’s hard to have respect for you, chumpy.” Sometimes when Chump Lady grew quiet, chumpy me would try to summon her back, imagining what she looked like. (Chump Lady was several parts Aretha Franklin.) Chumpy me had to admit defeat — I can’t do this without you. Chump Lady said, “Okay, I’m driving. Get in the backseat.” Chumpy me tried to backseat drive and offer directions “Um, maybe we should pull over for that apology?” Chump Lady said “Shut up. I’ve got this.”

Chump Lady left the cheater. Chumpy me got used to the idea. They’re reconciled now. Chump Lady said “Don’t you dare feel sorry for him.” Chumpy me doesn’t. Chumpy me feels a bit sorry for herself now and then. God, what a waste that was. Chump Lady says “Nonsense. Look at how much we’ve learned. If it weren’t for that cheater, we never would’ve met.” Then the two sides of me embrace and have a good laugh.

This column ran previously. And no tiny people or metropolises were destroyed in my bitter rampages. 

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  • The trick for many I think is not dismissing or devaluing the “chumpy me” as weakness or worthlessness. These are two sides of the same coin that are meant to compliment each other. Embrace the best of both, and try not to let either one take over completely.

    • Great advice. My best moment was when my daughter told me I was a badass, she listed all the things that had happened to us in each last year and how much I had handled. Now when the shitstorms hit I use that as my mantra “I am a badass”.
      Thinking of getting it tattooed on my arm where I can look at it as a reminder.

      • Brilliant brilliant column and perfectly describes the strong part of us versus the afraid part. Magnificent. I’m printing this out to re-read.

        Finally awake.
        My experience in this has been that there are bits of me that are strong and know I’ve got this but the help and support from my kids and other chumpy friends has been invaluable. They are ALWAYS reminding me of the things I have already survived in my life. When I look back sometimes I can’t recognise this person but I trust she is in there somewhere probably a bit pissed off at all my wallowing in misery and self pity!!
        Need to learn how to be joyful and a cup runneth over kinda gal.

        Tracey. Just. Thanks. ❤️

      • I love that your badass persona has the word “lady” in it! I thought staying committed to my marriage was taking the high road and choked down a lot of shit sandwiches as a result.

        Even with fine china, cloth napkins, and proper etiquette, those don’t taste good! No one should have to eat them. I finally stopped listening to his words and started watching his actions. It didn’t take long then to realize I had nothing to work with. Cheating is a choice. So is divorce.

        Put down the hopium pipe. Someone with integrity and character would not indulge in infidelity. You are a class act and deserve better chumps!

    • Well Chumpy me was driving the car for far too long. CL definitely needed a turn at the wheel.

      But yes, I don’t think all chump qualities are pathological. I just think we should know our worth and give the best of ourselves to those who are deserving of it — not who we hope they might be someday.

      • CL – question for ya. You said your husbands also a former chump. How does he feel about the work CL does? Because you keep talking about your experience even years later and it stays on the forefront of your lives. It can be therapeutic But eventually don’t you just wanna not think about it? Don’t get me wrong. We’re all thankful and grateful for this place and glad you’re here. Just curious.

        • He posts on here sometimes. He’s very, very supportive of the site — in fact the whole thing was his idea. He wanted me to write a book, and I begged off thinking a blog might be easier (HAH!), and then I later wrote a book. (Or really two books… the first self-published one got picked up by an agent, and then rewritten and expanded with Running Press/Hachette.)

          He’s also come to a couple meet-ups — one in Texas at Tempest’s place and the book launch here in DC. So I swear he isn’t a magical goat. 🙂

          • Y’all both need to come back to Texas and I’ll host! The best to both of you in this ministry which I truly believe it is.

      • I’ve been reading this blog religiously for almost a year now, and this post is still my fave! I particularly love the part when CL tells Chumpy to get in the back seat, and that she’s gonna drive from now on. Love. It!! And when Chumpy tries to get her to pull over for an apology, CL tells her to shut up.

        I bloody love this blog. Feel so lucky to have come across it. Thank you CL! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to both you and Chumpy ??

    • I agree. Chumpy me is the nice part of me. Chumpy me is the kind and caring person that I am. The person who will listen and encourage. The person who will go out of her way to help someone. Etc. I like that part of me, but unfortunately I let that person get taken advantage of by takers and manipulative people. There has to be a balance like you said. Chumpy me needs to forgive, but not keep forgiving. Chumpy me needs to learn to walk away from bad people. Chumpy me is learning each day thanks to CN!

      • Exactly, Martha. These are good traits, but we have to be careful who we give this side of us to.

        • At 50 years old, it’s amazing I’m just learning this now. One of the Youtubers I watch said a lot of us just assume that other people are like us — we think everyone is kind, giving, faithful, honest, etc. She said trust should be earned instead of the other way around — blindly trusting people are trustworthy. I think she said it takes three months until people start showing you who they truly are. In my case, my ex cheated on his girlfriend with me (just kissing me, but still wrong I know) — so he showed me he was a cheater right away. And he told his mom and girlfriend lies in order to be with me — so he was lying way back when. For some reason I justified the whole thing. The reason was because he seemed perfect like Prince Charming. bleeech! Lying Narc!

          • My STBX was someone’s OM in college. Her boyfriend had graduated and my STBX was sleeping with her. I wasn’t dating him at the time. I did talk to him about it later and he said “I was in love with her.” As if that excused it. (She married her college boyfriend by the way – poor chump bastard.)
            I chumpily thought it was a youthful mistake rather than a character flaw.

            • Wow, that really stinks for that college guy who married a cheater and didn’t know it.

              I would have thought the same as you (youthful mistake.) Like in college kids sleep around, etc and it’s not a part of their character. It’s just them being kids. No, it’s a part of their character if they are sleeping with someone who already is in a committed relationship!

          • You can’t teach stupid….

            My X was cheating on her then Boyfriend when I met her and there was a small overlap with me. It’s easy to get sucked up in their reflective qualities (ie they tell you how awesome you are and how you are their “One”), to deny their actual behaviour and wish them to be the person you want (ie someone who will be faithful to you, even though they are not being faithful to their current/STBX).

            The pattern repeated itself during our marriage, which should have been to the shock of no one, especially me…

            • Yep! I got those lines, too. I was the “one” and the “love of his life”. And I was just so wonderful, perfect, etc. I obviously totally fell for it. I had no idea that narcs say this kinda stuff to reel you in. Live and learn.

    • So true, UXWorld–we want to keep our admirable, chumpy traits (but need to find better targets for our largesse than cheaters).

    • Yes, Ux. I am not embarrassed by chumpy me. Even if she is too accommodating, and too soft with the wrong people. Chumpy me knows her worth but somehow has not learned to FEEL her worth, so she needs to work on that.
      Chump Lady came from heaven, aka the Cloud, to set Chumpy me on the course to feel her worth one day. For this, Chumpy me had to stay alive and Chump Lady played a greater part in that than any other human.
      She drove my car far away from suicide street where I was almost exactly a year ago. If that’s not an angel I don’t know what is.

          • and (((((((Chump Nation)))))) and my ((((family & friends)))))

            All instrumental in where I’m at today. Wanted out so many times, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other.

            • Yes! Without a doubt Martha 🙂

              Always grateful for:

              (((((((CHUMP NATION)))))))


              (((((((FRIENDS)))))) also! :o)

      • “Chumpy me knows her worth but somehow has not learned to FEEL her worth, so she needs to work on that”.
        kiwichump, you put this statement so well. I love your post and you are worth a fortune dear girl. Even at my grand old age I am now well on my way to feeling my worth and I am also learning not to apologise for being me. It is a lifetime of conditioning that made me feel lesser than but I now know my worth and I am a millionaire albeit it a poor one, if that makes sense. Your final 2 sentences make me very sad but I think most Chumps have been there. Each of us knows that finding CL and CN has played a major part in our recovery.
        Even if there are Chumps on the site who do not celebrate Christmas, I wish each and every one of you a very happy Christmas and here is to a fantastic 2017. It does get better, it does. 🙂

        • Maree, thank you. Don’t be sad for me please, I am not on suicide street anymore!
          You are so right when you say you were conditioned to feel lesser than. When people say I feel worthless, I always want to qualify it. I feel worth less than, I have always felt worth less than…That’s what made it so easy for me to be a chump.That’s what I have to stop, and the first step is realising that it is a problem.
          I don’t celebrate Christmas, I used to because it was important for Traitor and his kids and they enjoyed it. It means little to me, since I was raised Catholic but have no faith. It would be hypocritical. However I wish you all a joyful and peaceful Christmas. I think I share a lot of your values, just not the faith…
          Maree, I will be thinking of you especially, missing your children, while your family and your faith mean so much to you. I believe they will come back to you one day. Time is on your side.

      • I drove away from suicide street too, but I parked there for a while first. 3 weeks in a very nice psych hospital- thank you,private health insurance.While I was still in the ER, with pneumonia ( aspiration), my ex came to visit with one of our mutual friends for support. Mutual friend turned out, 4 months later , to be yet another OW. Sigh. I now have to assume that pretty much every female person we ever socialised with is a likely past OW, including the one we named our daughter after.
        I read this site every day- because it”s funny, because it’s wise, and because often something is so familiar that I want to wave my hand frantically and say ” me too!”.Even though it’s been more than 2 years since wreckonciliation finally exploded, I still need a big sister to point out uncomfortable truths to me. For as long as I have to keep in contact with my ex- 8 years to go- I will be reading. Happy Holidays to all in Chump Nation, it is going to be 37 degrees celsius here on Xmas day, so we will be splayed out like lizards under the aircon

        • moominmamma, you have many big sisters here who will support you and yes, as long as you need to keep reading here everyday do so. This site saved my sanity and life when I thought I had lost everything but I forgot I still had me. I often think how fortunate I am not to have contact with the predator any more. Thank heavens for that I say.
          Christmas Day here in Melbourne is also going to be very hot and I remember many years ago the late American comedian Joan Rivers stating, “eewww, Santa with sweat stains”. That is funny and many will definitely be sweating. Have a lovely and happy Christmas young lady. xoxo

        • moominmamma, what a monster! You are mighty to survive this. As long as you keep reading here, you’ll know you’re not alone. Have a lovely Christmas with air con!

  • And I thought you came from heaven, Tracy. That moment when the two parts merge and we begin to drive the bus is amazing. I will forever be grateful to you and your nation.

  • Can we pull over for an apology….. brilliant!!

    Looking forward to this Xmas. Last Xmas I let the dog lick his plate before I served his postDday “why did I let him come for the kids” Xmas dinner. A tortuous day.

    WTF I was hopiuming for I do not understand. I found this site and the book and found my CL. I’m a winner and driving with no rear view mirror.

    • STBX coming “for the kids.” I trust that it will suck because he sucks. Thanks for the idea about the dog. Totally doing that.

      • I heard this one years ago; had to look it up. Happy Holidays!

        Larry went to visit his 86 year old grandfather in a very rural area. After spending a great evening chatting the night away, Larry’s grandfather prepared breakfast of bacon and eggs. Larry noticed a film like substance on his place, and questioned his grandfather asking, “Are these plates clean?”

        His grandfather replied, “They’re as clean as cold water can get em. Just you go ahead and finish your meal”.

        For lunch the old man made hamburgers. Again, Larry was concerned about the plates as it appeared to have tiny specks around the edge that looked like dried egg and asked, “Are you sure these plates are clean?”

        Without looking up the old man said, “I told you before, those dishes are as clean as cold water can get them. Now don’t you worry, I don’t want to hear another word about it”.

        Later that afternoon, as he was leaving, his grandfather’s dog started to growl, and wouldn’t let him pass. Larry yelled and said, “Grandfather, your dog won’t let me get to my car”.

        Without diverting his attention from the football game he was watching on TV, the old man shouted, ‘COLDWATER, GO LAY DOWN NOW, YEH HERE ME!!!”

  • Makes me sad. I have a dear friend who is still trying to save her marriage.. she just LOVES him.. she says she loves him so much even betrayal won’t stop her loving him. She doesn’t understand why the whole world tells her to get a divorce when she wants to save the marriage. He has been having an affair for 2 years. She’s been going through hell (but that doesn’t deter her). He doesn’t seem to give a fuck about her feelings.. but says he still loves her (he just needs to learn to love her ‘properly’, she is the mother of his children, they have a 25 year shared history etc.). But they both want to stay married… and the OW finally found her own partner.. so fucked up. They think their marriage is fixable… What do you think CL? Will they be happier than ever? Are all their friends and their therapists wrong? Will they be happier than ever?

    • If being cheated on for years is her idea of happiness? Sure, they’ll be happy together.

      • I am worried chumpy her will never find her Chump Lady. But we can only support her for so long… it’s her choice to live like this 🙁

    • Dina, the chumps in us believe we are different than others who rushed for a divorce. The chumps in us have higher values and got married to stay married till we died. We are determined to give our kids an intact family and we are not as shallow as the ones who run for divorce right away. We are strong and can weather anything. Our partner is also different than other cheaters. The partner can and is willing to change. They are just lost, in mid-life crises, with FOO’s but essentially we are made for each other and all is needed is just little patience. We’ll be stronger in the end. And they happily lived ever after…

      I told my cheater during reckonciliation I was prepared to give him my trust fully again and what he would choose to do with that trust would be a reflection of him and his values. I was so proud of that noble statement! He looked at me and said Wow! This is a pretty strong statement! So the chump me thought that he won’t do this anymore because he wouldn’t want to associate with those low values I had implied. He is higher than just a cheater. He is smart and intellectual and he appreciates me and family and he won’t do it again of course. The affair was finished. Our sex life was restored. Communication lines opened up. All was great..except the Chump Lady in me was disgusted with chump me. I guess the Chump Lady is coming out now…right in time for the new year and new resolutions. Thank you CL!!!

      • Yes, this was me to a T, Longtimechump. So insightful and spot on. I’d have been there forever except the nagging voice that said – check up on him just to confirm. To my great shock and horror, I discovered his goal was not a restored marriage.


        • I suspect that a great many of us who first come here think that our cheaters are ‘different’ and we are not ‘chumps’ and that if anyone can make a marriage work then we can.
          And so the well trodden path to enlightenment continues as we all find out we are more chumpy than we ever imagined, our marriage partners are these alien things that we don’t recognise and that we have a spackling superpower we didn’t even realise.
          Luckily there is a well trodden path out through repeated encounters with a 2×4 and lots of lovely chumps who light the way to freedom.
          Tracey is the one who comes along and talks over the Chump to the inner Chump Lady and she/he takes it from there.

          • I think this was one of the things that helped me most when I found Chump Lady. I had already decided to divorce and started the process, but finding this site, and reading the experiences that folks had… sometimes almost verbatim to things my Ex H would say and do, it really put me on the fast track to wrapping my head around the situation. No, this is not fixable, no this isn’t just some bizarre thing your spouse has to go through. He is just like all these other cheaters, and all of these people are saying how much better it is… stay the course, keep going, and get it done.

      • I did this EXACTLY. Only 2 years later was dday#2. And I was 6 months pregnant at the time. Since then I discovered that what I thought was restoration was only real to me. The words and affection he gave me were all part of his game. He was banging the 23year old girl who worked for him the entire time I was pregnant.

        All of those moments of uneasiness during the 2 years of wreckonciliation were my own inner Chump Lady. I kept talking her out of taking over. I instead let the books, websites, and marriage programs lead me. They told me that it takes years to rebuild trust. They told me that it would be 2-5 years before I stopped hurting over the infidelity. So I kept pressing on.

        I found a lawyer in April and went grey rock in June. Even though dealing with him still pisses me off at times and he still manages to ambush me on occasion, I no longer feel conflicted internally about my feelings for him (pretty much gone). Just 8 months after taking that first step to end things, I have more peace.

        That tells me that he was the source and reason for my inner turmoil. The only way to win with a toxic person is not to play.

        • I did it too and behind my back everything had been going on for 8 years, continued one more while he was talking to the kids behind my back about not getting on and splitting up, while he was lining up his ducks with the whore’s family’s help too. And discarding me, and saying I was trying to harm him and poison him. I still believed mid life crisis, FOO issues, etc. were the problem and our love and bond were stronger than all that, and he would be the man of his word he always claimed to be…

  • Sometimes I just shake my head at how chumpy I was. Crazy. But it was a learning experience … not unlike going from simple to the wise as in Proverbs.

  • Chump Lady says “Nonsense. Look at how much we’ve learned. If it weren’t for that cheater, we never would’ve met.” Then the two sides of me embrace and have a good laugh.

    I love this ^^^

    My inner badass that I always pushed down is now a part of me. I stood-up to the evil in my life (my ex and his mom.) They controlled and pushed me around for over 20 years. I occasionally stood-up to my ex and questioned him on his control of our marriage and family with his “work” and his “healthy female friends.” My MIL, however, I just kept my mouth shut and let her manipulate me. Well, Badass Martha showed up one day and didn’t take her shit anymore.

    My “Christian” MIL confronted me on Easter Sunday 2015 at church. She said and I quote, “So. You are keeping the grandchildren away from their grandparents and their father now?!!” The one thing I would never do, I got accused of. And it was both my kids who decided that they wanted to be with their mother on Easter instead of their cheating dad. I had nothing to do with their decision and they were the one’s who said, “Don’t we have a choice where we want to spend Easter?” So I told my MIL off in church and didn’t take her crap. And then days later she said to my face, “I never said that (the comment I just mentioned).” And I said, “Well, now I know where your son learned his lying from.” And now that I know about gaslighting — I know where he learned how to gaslight and deny that he said something or that he did something. He learned it from Mommy Dearest. And he learned how to be a fake, charming person from Mommy Dearest too as he’s just like her.

    So, yeah. If it weren’t for the cheater, I would still be denying that Badass Martha was a part of me. I’m still a nice person or at least I try to be most of the time. But the cheater has forced me to stick up for myself. To have my back and not expect someone else to have it. To fight for what I’m entitled to. None of this has been easy at all and lots of times I’ve done all my fighting with a limp and a brain wrapped in depression and fog. But God’s got my back, front and both sides. We’ve got this! Thanks, Chump Lady and Chump Nation! I was just telling a friend this morning how much you and this blog has meant to me and how much you all have helped me. You are my daily dose of therapy and untangling the web of thoughts, lies and past memories that are in my mind.

    • I think our MIL must be sisters. Mine did the same and confronted me “About how she only wants the best interest for her grandson and how could I possibly involve lawyers, her son and whole family love him so much” (uhuh, they love him so much that the whole family could justify why cheater should not have to pay child support and that it is ok for cheater to abandon his child and make no time for him).

      I was very civil with MIL until she confronted me with her made up bullshit fabricated to protect her poor poor grown manchild son who was a liar and cheat. Finally after 20 years I told my MIL exactly what I thought of her and her depressed narc son – the truth hurts didn’t you know? The chump in me for my MIL died that day – never to return.

      • Has anyone ever noticed that the defective parent tends to favor the defective child? Most defects raise defects but unfortunately there are “normal” children produced as well, but often they are brushed aside and favor the rotten kid. I think in a way it is like spitting in society’s face.

        • Wow, brilliant observation! MIL is a meth addict/compulsive gambler/serial cheater. Put my FIL through hell. He divorced her, and when my ex was old enough to choose who to live with, he chose her. His sister stayed with FIL. You can guess who turned out normal! And MIL and ex are forever close. They have a very creepy relationship- seems more like husband and wife than mother and son.

          • It’s messed up and sick. Yup you guys nailed it – ex MIL and ex both compulsive gamblers and my ex had the luxury of watching his mom have a revolving door of men in and out of his life growing up because guess what she was a bit of a hoe bag! Go figure! His father who abandoned him at the age of 5 and he is estranged from is also a compulsive gambler and a cheat. The ex and MIL are always conspiring on how to screw people over. It is a genetic mental illness in my opinion.

      • Yeah, I happily burned the bridge too with my ex-MIL and told her exactly what I thought of her and her son. I do recall calling him an “evil monster.” lol. He is to me. What he did to me was pure evil. I’m sure she was shocked to hear that about her “perfect and special” son.

    • Martha, my MIL, as my cheater, is super charming. We lived in different countries and she visited once a year and stayed with us for a month. I cried every time she left! She gave me this feeling of family and care and fun and was very friendly. More a friend rather than MIL. A typical narc seeking for adulation and she had it from me! Since my family was also in another country I always felt lonely where I lived with cheater husband – his choice due to various reasons. Fast forward 6 years and I and our son moved in with my MIL and her second husband and lived with her for 4 years. While cheater stayed behind under the disguise of taking care of family properties, working, bla bla bla. And my hell started. I now understand where he has his controlling behavior from, his anxiety, his “my way or highway” – all being covered by super charming ways. That’s what other people see in both mother and son: endless charm, they are the centre of attention, charismatic..but so shallow inside!

      Be careful what you wish for! I had wished to live with or close to her and it happened! The cheater hates his mother because he claims she cheated on his father and he knew it. Yet, he acts exactly as her. Cheats while maintaining this charismatic face.

      It’s been interesting to watch my MIL in various settings. She would cook tons for a party (great cook) and then make the entire party conversation revolve around her cooking so she could revel in attention. Share recipes, talk about her special ways…as soon as she is out of the spotlight she would become restless…withdraw…want to leave the party…Recently I started taking up that spotlight gradually with various stories, anecdotes etc and she can literally interrupt and decide to leave in the middle of an interesting discussion.

      I see so much connection between them now…the only thing is that she helps me with my 9yr old son..she lives closeby and drives him to and from school, feeds him, etc. Until I come from work. I can see how my son has changed throughout these years of being close to her. She definitely is making another narcissist out of him. I prefer him to be with a grandma that loves him as much as she is capable of rather than stay in after school. I also travel for work so her help is really precious. But sometimes I have this urge of RRŔRRRRRRRR!

      Past two years my son and I have finally moved out so at least he gets to see a sane parent 3 hrs a day. But I still need her help even during and after divorce and she pledged this. She loves her grandson a lot and has been totally alienated by her own son so she really has me and my son as two real things in her life besides her alcoholic husband. Yet I fear my son will take up from his narc grandmother and narc father…genes and exposure…

      • Longtimechump,

        That’s so tough with your son and him spending so much time with his narc grandmother. I guess you just have to try your best to be the sane parent and hopefully his grandmothers bad qualities don’t rub off on him. At least she loves him dearly and takes good care of him! 🙂

        I can relate to you being a source of adulation to your MIL. I remember even before we were married, I was over at my future MIL’s house. I shared something about my wedding dress to her (and I wasn’t a Bridezilla at all) and MIL just looked at me. No comment and started talking about her dress and her earrings that she had dyed to match her dress. I remember having a bad feeling in my gut. Red flag. I’m so happy she’s out of my life. At times it seemed like she was competiting with me. I can’t tell you how many things that we bought for the house, a new car, my fake diamond bracelet, etc , her and my FIL would go out and buy the same thing or something similar. It was so weird. Happy to be out of that fake family.

    • As my IC said to me when I was outraged that MIL was ‘supporting’ STBX:

      ‘why are you looking for sanity from the source of crazy?’

      • Ain’t that the truth! My MIL help create the narc monster that is my ex-husband. It’s not normal to tell your child their entire life that they are “perfect and special.” The last time I heard my ex-MIL say that to my ex was Thanksgiving 2014 and my ex was 45 at the time.

        My MIL would only invite us over once a year and that was for Easter dinner (and she was a young grandmother. Early 50’s when the kids were born). So what does she start doing after I told my husband I would no longer be making dinner for him since he no longer wanted to be my husband? She starts inviting her baby boy over for dinner every single fricken week. She was too lazy to do all the other holidays (chumpy me did just about everything) and invite our family over once in awhile. But when her baby boy needs someone to take care of him, she starts inviting him over for dinner. She’s toxic just like my ex.

  • This is why we love you…been there, done that…
    Who knows better but a former chump what we endure on a daily basis?
    You are the light guiding us to the promised land of Meh, stick with us, Tracey!

  • I was privileged to “see” Chump Lady in the early days, probably soon after she banished Chumpy for good. I was there, in the swamp, reading all those entries and stories on another site, 99.9% of them leaving a knot in my stomach and a migraine brewing. But there was one lone sensible voice. I heard it and it was cutting through bullshit so cleanly that I thought, “There’s sense to be made of this shit, after all!” But then that voice was gone. I noticed. I wrote to people privately and asked where “that lady with such good advice and outlook” went. Someone told me that the only person who was making sense got kicked off the site, because she “made fun of people who reconciled on her own site.” (Not true, but funny how speaking the truth is diminished by people who have a vested interest in promoting bullshit!). I was devastated because I knew I needed to hear MORE of what she had to say. I was a mess and even with sound guidance and advice, and no chance of reconciliation, it still took me close to a decade to truly recover. So imagine how dangerous it was for me to stay stuck in the quicksand of reconciliation type rhetoric! All I knew is, my light at the end of the tunnel apparently had her own site, so I went on a search! Found her!!! And it wasn’t too long after finding her that, I too got kicked off the reconciliation site. I wasn’t “supportive” when I responded to a woman who posted every Monday morning about how traumatic it was to run in the same social circle as her husband’s ex-mistress (ex, yeah, ok). Seems they “had to” attend parties with her, have her son over for play dates, communicate with her about those play dates, etc. She was stuck in this madness! She was a victim! She just wanted to do the right thing! Her husband just stood by and let it all go down like this! LOL I told her she wasn’t a victim, that she was choosing this Shit Stromboli, and whammo, I was put out too! LOL Oh well, it was a miserable place, all that moaning and groaning about how hard it is to save a marriage with a narcissist. Thank you, Tracy, for all you have done for us. You have saved lives. Truly, you have.

    • Just curious how your found Tracy/Chump Lady after she got booted? Was she CL on the other site?

      • She was not CL on that site. I only found her (as a member of that same site Carol is talking about) because someone posted her blog’s web address (which I think was later taken down because you’re not supposed to solicit other people’s links). Fortunately, I saw the blog address before it was removed and have been on this site ever since.

        Carol, I was not kicked off of the other site, but I haven’t been on since late last spring because it was really bringing me down. CL’s ass kicking has done me so much more good than reading stories about people who are sure that they are different and that their reconciliation with a narc monster will be the one that works. I think I was also smoking a little hopium on that site in the sense that feel good, happy crappy co-parenting is encouraged on there even if you’re dealing with a remorseless asshat. I was one of the few people who encouraged others to tell their kids the truth about the cheating; there was too much image management of the cheater for the kids on that site.

        Despite my feelings about all of that, I’m glad I found the site; it did help me in many ways, but I’m even happier that it led me here. This place has given me the strength that I needed to stop being a doormat in 70 different ways.

        • Yes! Chump Lady is boot camp for chumps!
          Those other sights are like a long painful massage at the spa where you leave feeling worse than you did when you came in.
          Chump Lady isn’t for wimps!

        • Me too, Moving On! I posted alot on that site’s thread about long term affairs, and eventually got to a place where I could not stomach one more sad story about how hard they were struggling to “stay positive” for fear of ruining reconciliation with their timid forest creatures, all of whom were, of course, “doing everything” to demonstrate remorse.

          My inner Chump Lady dropped the mouse in disgust, kicked me in the ass, and told me that, yes, I WOULD be alone, fucked over, broke, and humiliated, but even that was better than living with a disordered s.o.b. and continuing to “struggle.” So I left, both the site, and my ex.

          Like you, that site helped me in the early days when I was gutted and dysfunctional. But also like you, this site helped me stop being that way.

    • She has saved lives and not just the physical part of us for those who contemplated drastic measures. Being able to weather this emotional shit storm and come out of it with positive attitude, able to put aside the BS fed to us by cheating pod people, and able to lead satisfying lives in the land of Meh is nothing short of amazing. Thank you CL for your site and allowing all the great contributors to have a voice too.

  • This is 100 percent on point and exactly what I’ve been wrangling with for years. Luckily my better half has finally taken the wheel and there is no stopping this freight train now. Thank you Chump Lady for the guiding light you provide for all of us.

  • And Chump Lady, I’m glad you are here. I’m glad my, formerly my ex-husband’s, friends sent me here. It has made the journey to healing so much easier. After a few months, I was able to stop wallowing in self pity. And now, that it’s finally over, I get to just breathe. I still have to co-parent with him, but I’ll manage. Being alone is so much better than being with a grumpy old man who just parks his ass in front of the computer the moment he comes home.

  • It is hardly being bitter, chumps are angry because of humiliation cheaters put us through when ending a very important relationship such as marriage. .They.just.can’

    ILYBNILWY? Just fuck off and go fuck yourself, I don’t want to see your ugly butt like face ever again.

  • I still recognize this dichotomy in myself every damned day. I guess I always will. It’s not about getting rid of it, it’s about how to work with it and stay strong. Home, work, the world in general… Even the grocery store… Thanks formulating brilliant words to it. 🙂

    • I recognize it too – the dichotomy. I am learning to embrace the mighty parts of myself my STBX hated.
      I figured out that whenever I got compassionate or fired up and indignant about something (my old job in social services, advocating for myself at work, advocating for my kids for their special education services, etc.) he would be critical and unsupportive. Now, I think that he was trying to quash what could have become a rebellion against him.

    • I decided to let Chumpy me predominate in interactions because most people are deserving of respect and kindness. But inner badass is there, ready, in case someone crosses a line.

      • Anyone that makes you have to be a bad ass, or put up your dukes in fight or flight mode, is trouble with your name on it, anyway. Especially in a relationship. The bitch on the subway? Okay. But not someone in your bed. Took a long time to learn that.
        Someone who loves you does not want to upset you. Revolutionary.

      • I cannot see a day when you weren’t badass Tempest! You rock it like no one else!

    • Lord me too, even though “no more chumpy ConnieRed” is fighting hard.

      I won TWO court battles with ex in October. Yay ConnieRed!!!

      Yesterday, I bought a set of sheets and a blanket for my son to put on the bed at his fucking Dad’s house because he nor his Whore bothered to put a set on it for him. He bought gas with quarters the other weekend with my son in the car. And Whore bought $250 worth of ingredients to make fucking candy to sell. I tell myself that it’s for my son and that one day he will look back and remember who took care of him.

  • The thing about CL is she figured it out while Chumpy was behind the wheel. No small feat. Lots of Chumpies eventually separate but no in the Badass way required for a great “after-life”….and THAT is what makes CL so badass. Well, that and she took the time to show the world’s Chumpies how to recognize the need to Badass Chumps.

    BTW, I really dig the simplicity of the CL Manifesto. CUt through the RIC shit pudding and find the truth. Cheaters simply are pathological, and largely unfixable. Simple. Easy to Remember.


  • I will just say that when I found Chumplady and started reading, it was like the clouds parted and the rays of truth shone through. I consider it one of the biggest turning points in my life. The ex wasn’t very happy about Chumplady and tried to discredit everything here, but by then it was too late to try and convince me that day was night. LOL. Amazing how much effort they will put into trying to convince you of things when kibbles and cake are on the line.

    Thank you for Chumplady for teaching me how to take the wheel and drive.

    • Yeah, my X dismissed us all as “bitter” here. Duh, you did worse things to me than any enemy could, wasted 8 years of my life until I found out about your affair, and still want to blame me for your actions. Yup, bitter = smart.

      • I find the only ones claiming I’m bitter is douchecanoe and his ho-wife because I no longer bend to their agenda “for the sake of the kids.”
        Let the cheaters and their crew label us bitter. I know we’re empowered.

  • “pull over for that apology”

    Lmao. Love it. Also Been there and unfortunately I pulled over many times only to see that it was an illusion.

    I’m only about a year out so Chumpy and Chump lady are still trying to get to know each other. We disagree from time to time. Question each other’s decisions. My heart is more chumpy but im also learning that it’s ok. Shows that I have a heart and that I care and truly loved someone and would want to give those feelings again to a person who deserves it.

    But For now. Letting my brain be in the drivers seat. Cause my heart would want to pull over Just incase.

  • Thank you.
    The holidays have made me feel quite chumpish. I recognize it in myself now, and reach out for support.
    Last night I texted my sister:
    “Please remind me not to feel sorry for FF – that his relationships with the kids are his responsibility.”
    She replied:
    “If you start feeling sorry for him, I’m going to drive down there and punch you in the face.”
    (Sometimes I need to outsource mightiness.)

    • My sister is the same! It is vital to have someone to lean on in moments where your mightiness might waiver.

      • Me +5 and 1 bro who wants to be a sister. Although I had to use some of the famous CL potty mouth to convince one of them of the true nature of X. She sees the light however she is a professional spackler in her own life. She has a reconciliation under her belt and it, on the perspective of an outsider looking in, seems to be working. And I support the decision she made for herself.

        • I have 3 wonderful sisters actually. They are all wonderful and supportive. I would not be surviving this without them and excellent friends, near and far.

          • Sisters and special real friends keep me grounded. I love them. I love CN and CL. Yes, this site saved my life and kept me from panic and suicide. Thank you!!!

    • Love the “outsource mightiness” quote!

      Whenever I start feeling sorry for my X, I remind myself (a) he brought this on himself, and (b) I think of the coldest thing he did to me [let gradwhore stay in the room to hear the conversation when he called me for a divorce from Mexico, after we’d been together 16 years, 2 children together]. Poof! Sympathy all gone!

        • Unfortunately, when I asked if he wanted a divorce because there was someone else, he said no. Then he changed his mind and dumped gradwhore instead.

          It took me 8 years to find out about his perfidy (when a sexual harassment case was brought against him for that same affair). Told him we were over that night, he attempted to convince me he was “sorry” but the statement “you should obsess less over my affair and obsess more about why I was unhappy with you at the time” was his undoing.

          • Ugh Tempest, makes my blood boil to read your last sentence. What an ass. Unfortunately, all us Chumps seem to get worn down to the point that we actually believe their nonsense…until we stop.

            • It’s true, Lyn. So many of our stories play out like typical abuse scenarios–the slow chipping away at our self-esteem, our happiness, our mental health. And even when we know that’s what happening in the back of our minds, we keep investing in the relationship, trying to make it better (which only makes us more vulnerable to the abuse).

              I’m a generally happy person, and throughout most of the relationship I would walk around singing in my head and (I was told) mildly dancing. By the last 3 years of my 24-year relationship with Hannibal Lecher, I was decimated–panic attacks without knowing why, having to make a conscious effort to appear happy at work, a frequent sense of helplessness. D-day was, of course, cataclysmic, and when Hannibal set up an individual counseling appointment to show his resolve to fix the marriage (I refused to go, having already filed), most of what he talked about was “getting back the old, happy Tempest.” He wasn’t at all concerned about making up to me what he’d done (and it was too late at that point anyway). To them, it’s always about fixing US to suit their needs.

              Well, the happy Tempest is back (a shoutout to all the newbies–I was convinced I’d never feel sane and happy again, but I do). And since the sharp pain of D-day is but a memory, I now look back on finding out about X’s affair and the sexual harassment case as my key to freedom. Unfortunately, it’s hard to justify leaving someone for emotional abuse alone because it’s behind closed doors, and other people perceive the abusive spouse as perhaps a flawed-but-good person (who is typically in full sad sausage mode after having been left). But infidelity–aaah, that is justifiable grounds for leaving, both to others and to ourselves. But I wish the emotional abuse had been justification in our own minds. It took me, and many of us, too long to realize we are worth having positive, healthy relationships (and refuse to tolerate any other kind).

              • +1 — As I think I’ve said before, one of the things XH said to me (before Dday but I think mentally he was already leaving) was “Whatever HAPPENED to you?” in this scornful tone. Like, “You used to be such a badass, and now you’re this mewling little weepy wimpy person!” — As it turns out, the “whatever” that happened to me was him: years of neglect, gaslighting, subtle emotional abuse. Now that I’m out from under that rock, I am my badass self again.

              • I never knew I was in an emotionally abusive relationship until I read Leslie Vernick’s book, “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship.” It’s no wonder I felt like crap about myself for years and years. The emotional neglect, the lies, the gaslighting, the triangulating with his “friends”, withdrawing from me, withholding from me…….all things that I knew were going on, but I didn’t know it was abuse. No one will ever treat me like this again. If they do. They are gone! I’d rather be alone then be in a relationship like that again.

    • My sister, too! She was mighty for me before my mighty kicked in. One of my favorite moments was when the ex, my sister and I were in a room together. Ex was looking for her to be the nice SIL she always was to him in the past. Sister said, “Your charm won’t work on me anymore.” and later she said he was a snake. No one ever talked to “perfect and special” ex like that before. lol. And my sister is a very wise, nice and kind person, so coming from her definitely had shock value. 🙂

    • I said this, too, but to my mom. Sometimes, I start feeling like maybe I am being too tough. I mean, marriages end and people get divorced, right?

      Then I think back to how horrible he has and continues to be. Most marriages do not end with this level of disrespect. It is not my job to make this easier on him or to fix the damage he did to his relationship with the kids.

      My rule is that anytime I want to do either is to take 24-48 hours to think about it. Most times, I end up deciding to stay out of it and let the chips fall were they may. Yes, it hurts my kids, but I am not the one hurting them and my protecting them now just means I am postponing their hurt.

      • Thank you. That helps too.
        His sister and her wife are in town, and we used to be friends. But they wanted to be Switzerland. Thankfully, their visit is short and I. Can. Do. This.

    • I have 3 special friends that I outsourced mightiness too. One in particular…i call her Snake….I call her every time I feel I run out of anger so I ask for her “snake poison” in relation to my cheater. She gives me in abundance! I am grateful to these real friends!

      • I have a fellow chump friend that does the same for me. I save some of her texts to my phone notebook so I can find them quickly when I need them.

  • I also think that the CL message of;

    1). Trusting yourself
    2). Being comfortable in your own skin
    3). Being capable of living/being alone
    4). Having strong boundaries
    5). Having respect for your own needs
    6). Not putting yourself at the bottom of every pile going.
    7). To actively choose people who are good for you and conversely ditching those that are not
    8). To be able to ask for help
    9). To recognise your own worth
    10). To expect better.

    is all about us. As she says when we know about the cheating it’s then on us to define our own lives and she gives us the courage to do it and the hope it will work. It’s a message for many more people than just chumps.

    In some ways I am getting to see that his cheating may have inadvertently led me to a fuller, richer and deeper life than I would otherwise have had. I thought I was happy but I was living a half life in so many ways. And I know plenty of women friends who are in awful marriages but it’s not quite bad enough to leave. At least the cheating gave me the ‘hard blessing’ to get out.

    After this column I can visualise my inner chump Lady a bit more clearly and deliberately to help me on my way.

    • I love your line “I thought I was happy but I was living a half life in so many ways”. Yes yes yes. I thought I was happy. Then I realized, I really wasn’t. And I didn’t know why.

      You wanted to be happy, and happy with them, and for them to be the person you thought you saw. And for the fun times you had to be real. But they weren’t in it with you. They weren’t your best friend. They weren’t your ally. They weren’t your most trusted confidant. They were your demon, and you were their prop.

      Thank you for that….

    • Well-put, Capricorn! Encompasses my experience, too–“living a half-life.” For most of us the betrayal was the most horrible thing that has happened to us, but also our “get out of jail free” card. I still try to make sense of that, but at least I can do it from a place of strength now instead of the soul-sucking plateau that was my marriage.

      • Yes, this is the “dodged a bullet” phrase I keep hearing from my family. I am considering that marriage with him may have been my serving a lifetime sentence of sorts, but new evidence has resulted in my release.

        I’ve also heard it referred to as a “get out of jail free card” by many. Outlook and attitude are important when you are free to do what you want in your life and create your entire future.

    • I agree with this. For all the horrible parts of the cheating, the cheating was my get out of jail free card. He was horrible and abusive and manipulative in so many ways… but just infrequently enough that it honestly would shock me and I would sort of freeze up. He’s boring as fuck, he’s got tons of health problems, and was not a good partner. I hated being married to him, but I wasn’t one to get divorced just because. The cheating/wreckonciliation was my get out of jail free card. He cheated, I sort of tried, he didn’t… see ya.

  • I like how Chump Lady never tells Chumpy “I told you so!” Now THAT’S self love!!!

  • Thank you, Chump Lady!

    Finding this site and reading provided me my epiphany. I had been gaslighted for so many years, it was truly a relief to embrace the CL wisdom–it was never about me and what I had done wrong. I was able to forgive myself for wasting so much time in a marriage that was never going to work and get on with the important business of getting a life.

    At over a year post-divorce, I find that using Chump Lady’s advice works in all relationships: friends, family, work. Set the healthy boundaries, “no” is a complete sentence, be mighty.

    Can’t say it enough times, thank you Chump Lady! And thank you fellow Chumps for posting advice, sharing your stories, and for your ability to find humor in it all.

    • Yes! Such wisdom is shared from experienced chumps who survived the storm of betrayal. So encouraging! If they can do it, so can we. Chump Nation is mighty!

      • Yes, I am so thankful for Chumplady’s insight, but also for all the stories shared. This is the only place I know where Chumps encourage each other to rebuild their lives and leave the abusive cheater behind. Many of us are so weak and beaten down when we stumble into this space…

  • Agree So much with CL! I used to think that it could be worse – at least I’m physically abused, at least I have a supportive family and friends, at least I get my kids half the time- but its so much better to see the other stories in real lives and know that people are better off for all these hard lessons learned. Yes there’s a big learning curve for our former chumpy selves but if we are strong and patient ChumpLady wins in the end!! Yay Us!! Somewhere theres a Karma bus headed this way…

  • CL, I bought and loved your book, Leave a Cheater Gain a Life, but was delighted to discover this amazing and supportive online community as a result. Thanks!

    I believe cheating predators target unsuspecting, loving chumps. Your daily posts, the discussions in the forums, and the archives are helping me to fix my picker so I can trust others and choose healthy relationships.

  • I must chime in with everyone to say Thank You Chump Lady! I came to you after separating from the ex for almost 3 years. I was on another wrekonciliation site, although by that time I resigned myself to divorce. But I still felt weak and spineless. Thank you for the bolster I needed to file for divorce and keep going–the process was long 32 months and just waiting on the decree now. But it gave me the help I needed to set boundaries and begin to move on with my life.

    Very few sites fully address how to deal with the ex when you have children together and they’ve run off with the OW or OM…how to deal with your kids in this situation. As if it doesn’t happen. Thank You for the great advice. Thanks to you…meh is coming…soon….maybe next Tuesday!

  • My Badass me was almost dead. She had been shoved into a small box so Chumpy me could keep the fantasy of a loving partner alive. I remember sitting on the couch sobbing my eyes out in front of the Christmas tree the morning after I discovered and read his journal. My husband saw me and came over and tried to hug me, but then he started crying even louder and saying, “How do we go back now?”

    That’s when I heard this very tiny, weak voice deep inside say, “What about MY life?” I’d lived for 31 years trying to fit into his life, to support his dreams, but I’d dang near starved my own. I remember feeling such exhaustion in that moment. That was the point at which I gave up saving my marriage and started saving myself.

    • They always cry louder, are hurt more, feel more pain don’t they?
      Mine still texts me things trying to get sympathy: I have had a terrible day, my clinic is overbooked and I’m behind, I am really struggling, and, my personal favorite – my reserves are really low right now.
      Honestly, nothing brings out the bitch like his overt attempts to manipulate me.

      • And he thinks you should give him a pep talk and a hug because why? You quit that job and he still wants you to punch in at his clock?

    • Yep, I remember wandering the house around 3am on DDay wanting to chop the Christmas tree. I didn’t because his son with whore would have seen it in the morning.

  • Best line: “It means we’re going to be ALONE. Fucked over! Broke! Humiliated! Chump Lady said — hey, we’ll figure it out. “. I’ve been on this site for nearly 2 yrs. To see the growth in members of this nation, including me, is nothing short of astonishing. Pay attention newbies. It gets better. Thanks to CL and CN for all the bad ass-ness given to each of us.

  • Great post CL! As I devoured site after site grasping for something to resonate with me and validate all that I was feeling, I found you. This site and its community saved me night after night as I laid in bed reading, trying to understand all that I was going through…the pain, the humiliation, the why. Family and friends would keep repeating how strong I was and how better off I was to be rid of him and all his issues and yet after 23 years, it still was my world as I knew it. They just didn’t understand why I felt so ‘broken’ and stuck in the pain. CL understood and to this day, helps me stay focused on finding me…something I lost trying to ‘save’ my XH from his own demons and allowing him to devalue me and my worth. Thank you Tracy.

  • I use the “I’ll figure it out” line too which I first saw on Chump Lady. And I have.

    I was pretty chumpy in the beginning as well. I thought his sexy texts to her were an emotional affair. Duh. But once revealed as fucking inside our home, I got a divorce ASAP. Even with that quick decision it wasn’t easy. And even after the divorce I figured he’d be a little sorry. Nope. No regret or remorse just more anger at me. And he quickly moved on to the next. What I’ve learned about cheaters is that they just don’t care. And I’ve learned a lot about personality disorders.

    Thank you for this blog and the people here who have helped me so much.

    • The some – No, they just don’t care. What is so disgusting to me is how the soulless creature can heartlessly destroy a family with lies and deceit and taking all he can – then tell me it’s my responsibility to drive our daughter to him. He wants to talk about responsibility? Priceless.
      He didn’t like the settlement offer because it wasn’t in his best interest.
      It’s all about his best interest.
      Consider his daughter’s best interests at all?
      No. Just his. That’s all that matters. And it’s everyone’s responsibility to see that everything should be considered with his best interests in mind. That’s all they can see.
      I like that – his cheating is my get out of jail free card.

  • For me, Chumplady has been a wonderful learning experience, because I reached ‘meh’ long before I even knew the term. I was only with the coyote for a few years. In that short time I experienced almost everything I’ve read about here, and was so sad and freaked out that I took the first opportunity I got to leave him and get my ass back to where I belong. I chalked that miserable experience up to just a huge mistake, and never understood what had happened until I found CL about twenty years later.

    I was hooked immediately. So many “Aha!” moments. I’ve learned so much, and it’s scary to realize how much I was spared by getting away from him so quickly. I have no doubt about what the future would have been like. Thank you so much, CL and CN!

  • There was no Chump Lady back in the day when I was stumbling through the wilderness, being told by the Fucktard that I “just want to wallow in [my] own self pity.” And the confusion, oh, the confusion. It took years, and one monumentally bad attempted wreckonciliation before my badass self finally smacked me in the head and told me to get to higher ground. My chumpy self woke up when the abuse got physical. Thankfully, my entire family and a handful of trusted friends had my back. They’d been waiting a long time for me to grow a spine. To have had a resource like this would have been a welcome blessing at the time. One stop validation shopping for chumps, with the finest customer service and research library anywhere. All those unanswered questions answered, at last. Thank you, Tracy.

  • Tracy, I’m another one whom you saved. I could not “give it up” and everywhere I looked in the RIC (I’m an Amazon Chump) I saw that glimmer of hope. And, me being someone who has an incredible amount of persistence (to a fault), I couldn’t put the hopium pipe down. One day (this past June) I stumbled opon your web site and everything changed from there.

    The narcissism piece of the puzzle was *huge* for me. It was within days of finding this website that I said “I can’t stay in this marriage another minute of another day.” I lawyered up and filed.

    But, what is so unique and helpful to me is your sense of humor. The months of pain, grief and anger which are required in breaking an over 30 year attachment bond have been buffered most greatly by this web site. I’ve read most all the archives and each new day’s post as well as the forum. And, most days I end up laughing out loud at something you our one of your well-trained, well-informed Chumps has to say.

    I tell people that FUCK (in all its forms) is my most favorite word these days. The fact that you use language that you don’t see in most other writing to describe the situations and feelings is brilliant and refreshing and extremely helpful to me. I mean saying “DARN” just doesn’t come close to cutting it. Dealing with this shit is — these egregious stories that are nearly unbelievable — requires language that has a certain *feel* to it. Like the other say when you said “makes you want to rip his spleen out with a pair of rusty pliers.” Omg. I died laughing at that. And the laughter is therapeutic. Or, the Xmas carols we we’ve been writing over on the FUCK thread . . . Very cathartic!

    Anyway, I’ll stop here but I Can. Not. Thank. You. Enough. The work that you have done and continue to do is beyond helpful. It is truly life changing.

    • The humor. The acceptance. The support. The advice. The empathy. The love. It is all here.
      Everything my marriage was missing, besides good sex. Found that elsewhere, though.

      • The humor. The acceptance. The support. The advice. The empathy. The love. It is all here.
        Everything my marriage was missing, besides good sex.

        OMG-THIS X 1,000!!!!!!!!

        Although I don’t remember exactly what I typed to find CL- I was still with a cheating, lying, POS fucktard BUT so immensely freaking thankful to have found this site.

        I have always said that Tracy & CN saved my life. It put an end to all the fog, gaslighting, skein tangling, unicorn wrangling-all in one webpage. I’m pretty sure that this site helped more than the therapist did. I’m 3 years out from Dday #2 with divorce almost finished. I refer anyone and everyone to this site that I can.

        I haven’t had a lot of time to post lately but I’m still reading every chance I get. It’s especially great if I have a weak moment.

        Thank you again Tracy, CL & CN for saving my life & giving me a new one to look forward to with my son.

      • The humor. The acceptance. The support. The advice. The empathy. The love. It is all here.

        This would be a great tag line under the Chump Lady heading, I think.

    • +2! ChumpLady, I will never be able to thank you and the mighty ChumpNation enough.

      It is an understatement to say “You all saved my life.” but you all did. And I am forever grateful!

  • CL this was wonderfully written, made me cry. You always have a great way of summing up exactly how all this feels.

  • A big thank you to Chump Lady for the daily dose of backbone. Thank you for giving me the permission to be angry about what my cheater-wife did to me and our family – and not just her cheating but for every damn day she ran her narc flag up the flagpole and expected us to salute. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction so I could learn about narcissitic personality disorder myself. Thank you for helping me sort through the crazy-making bullshit so I can say with pride, “Hold up! Wait a minute…” Thank you for safe-harboring a bunch of misfit toys. Thank you for the creative (and sometimes angry elf) outlet. Thank you for touching so many lives in such a positive way.

    Thank you Tracy!

    • …for every damn day she ran her narc flag up the flagpole and expected us to salute.

      I am so using this, BNM. Love it!

  • My new favorite line from a song is this:

    “I’m the hero in this story, don’t need to be saved.”

    We are not victims, we are warriors. Thanks CL and CN for everything!!!!

    • Love this Beachgirl. Reminds me of the Nora Ephron quote “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” 🙂

    • Hells yeah, Beachgirl and Tilbeth! The best thing about CN to me is the messages are about empowerment. Just because we may have been victimized doesn’t make us victims. I think of us as heroes in our own lives, and to each other 🙂

  • LOL!! Current situation. I’m 2 years, 4 months out from Dday and my “No More Chumpy ConnieRed” is in full force!! She may have gone overboard a bit since she is still finding her footing. If she senses any injustice of any kind, she is fighting against it!! Gottin’ in trouble at work for standing my ground a couple of times. Oops. Showed a little too much attitude. My family interrupts it as anger but it’s not. It’s just that I see manipulations and mistreatment clearer than I did before and I no longer wish to tolerate it….from anyone. Now, I am working on still being ALL of me, the soft, chumpy part and the warrior part and putting her back together again….but better!

  • Yeah so 12 years I was with mine I will never forget the smug look on her face knowing I wanted her back well I didn’t go 4 it I am not doing that anymore so after 5 months I finally went on a date with a normal woman she was so jealous that she took my son the 1 who she didn’t want the 1 I took care of not her and filed a restraining order on me so now I am not allowed 2 see my son so these absolute bullshit columns and stuff about do this and do that now my son isbeing told lies about me from the narc and being put through fucking hell I have reached out 2 several of these blogs think 1 ever gave a shit nope what would they it wouldn’t surprise me if they were never in that spit 2 begin with

    • David, I am so sorry you are going through that. FYI, narcs LOVE to use restraining orders to control their former chumps. They love to threaten them with arrest too. Any way to gain an advantage and inflict pain is okay by them, and as you know narcs are accomplished liars. You need a lawyer who understands this. Your local domestic violence center is a good place to start. Those folks have seen it all before and will steer you in the right direction. Don’t go it alone; your son’s welfare is at stake. Good luck to you.

    • Yep, you caught us. We’re all liars making up stories. All of the thousands of us who come here. (kidding)

      — I’m sorry for your pain and your situation. If you’ve read any of these columns, you know there can be a lot of abuse and manipulation from the cheaters. As Survivor says, you need a lawyer, especially when it comes to children. We can sympathize and give you advice but the painful truth is that you ultimately have to do it yourself. Find a good attorney to help with the logistics, but feel free to come here for advice and sympathy.

    • Many chumps here have had restraining orders or whatnot file against them by cheaters. Post in the General Forum if you want support.

      Here’s one I know personally – OW was a friend of the family so my chump friend went over to her place one day and begged the OW to stop seeing her husband and give their marriage another chance for the sake of the children. Immediate restraining order was the result. That makes carline slightly more complicated when your kids all go to the same school. Yep. Cheaters suck.

  • And that’s part of what makes you so relatable Chump Lady! Thank you for this. The hardest part of my cheater experience(s) was that feeling of being at war with myself. And so much of what fed my chumpiness was fear (of being alone, unloved, wrong, or “crazy”). Part of becoming un-chumped for me has been knowing when to access what part of myself. It’s been the best lesson in self-love I have had. To me, Meh is what is achieved when I am more important to me than my cheater. I don’t need justice, I gave it to myself by leaving.

    • “I don’t need justice, I gave it to myself by leaving.”

      One time while I was showering I had a light bulb moment; I realized I don’t need to constantly feel angry at STBX because the act of leaving him already contained all the F*CK YOU!!!’s I’ll ever wish to express towards him.

      And as CL says, it’s the ACT of finality that matters when you do NC and leave. This drives the final nail into the coffin that shuts off the narc cheater.

  • Joining Chump Nation has been the best thing in terms of building a new insanely mighty life.

    Freedom is the end product. No “ragrets” (The Millers), glad as hell the cheater did what she did because it triggered the warrior inside to wake up and start kicking ass, total freedom from whatever anyone chooses to believe about my marriage ending (cheater’s stories or mine), superb boundaries and self awareness, economic freedom, a do over with money, health, opportunity, great relationships with my kids, you name it.

    Seriously, I thank the cheater every day. Man she fucked up. Adios!

  • I hosted my first local Chumplady-inspired meetup yesterday, and I have to say — though it’s too bad we were all members of this club — what a wonderful group of people (women only, as it happened, for the first meetup)! Witty, smart, funny, strong, compassionate…. And *WE* never would have met had it not been for *YOU,* Chumplady. So, thank you for your work and sharing your struggle and giving us a place to gather to share our own stories, to gather strength, to inspire each other, and to give each other a good (but loving) kick in the bum whenever we start to backslide and let Chumpy Us get behind the wheel, whether that’s listening to their lies, or condemning ourselves for our own humanity, or proclaiming ourselves “deserving” of the pain or unlovable, …. Thank you. And thanks to all of you, for saving my life. No joke.

  • Chumpy me is trusting, kind, generous, reliable, forgiving and faithful. I love chumpy me. It really is on him that he used my qualities to take advantage of me. I want to say he destroyed our marriage but he didn’t. He reflected me for as long as he could while hiding what he was.

    My goal is to be chumpy me, continue to speak truth and walk away if people can’t be chumpy too. I hope I can catch fake chumps faster.

    This is a good place you’ve made. Good people and great advice/support. Thank you.

    • Aletheia, there is so much truth in this post.

      “He reflected me for as long as he could while hiding who he was” <— very sinister, but true. Looking back, STBX and I were always together but I didn't feel like he was really 'there'. There was no true connection between us, apart from the putty of my spackle holding the relationship together.

      I also don't want to close off/be so defensive and hide my chumpy me from the world. That would truly be unfortunate. That is what learning Boundaries is for. I'm currently learning how to build boundaries, not walls.

  • Yeah, CL. And, now, you are rich and famous. All thanks to CL. Chumpy gets to go along for the ride. You need to make an IPO, so we can invest. This cheating deal is not going away anytime soon and I think you are in on the ground floor at what will, eventually, become the recommended route in dealing with cheaters.
    For God sake, if that moron Harley ( sexist , male bashing pig that he is) can make money at this with horseshit advice, you should be able to kick ass.
    I think that most of us who gravitate to sites like this are somewhat different than folks who once crossed by the cheater, just jettisoned the asshole and never looked back.
    I am not sure how many people do some form of the pick me dance vs immediate jettisoning. Those that jettison right away do not seem to come to the support sites.
    I think one of the biggest benefits I got was from your site and some others, was the education about personality disorders. I had never heard of them before and was also shocked at their prevalence.

    • Arnold, I am also investing in this CL IPO. Like you said the stock will only go up. I wonder if there will ever be a shorting opportunity. Not as long as the chumps exist…

  • Haven’t read the replys yet, but this post reminded me to donate to you!
    It’s my thank you for helping me reclaim my self esteem, and for all the wisdom, and laughs, over the last few years ?
    You do good work!

  • Oh Chumpy me, I had signed up for your e-mails years ago, after 1 or 2 or whichever ho had last fallen from the tree. I continued to get them, but of course, he was changing, it was so different this time, I no longer looked at your daily updates, my case was special, but my heart broke for those of you who did not have this! Well, I’m back, as you all knew I would be, I will not leave you again, lesson well learned. 7 years I cannot reclaim, but I have reclaimed me, and that’s the most important lesson Chumplady teaches us.

    • Yes, you are mighty to say no more. Even now. Welcome and so sorry they suck.

      • yes, they suck, but we have morals and values, and feelings that they can never have, so in the end, I feel like we win, even though there are days it does not feel like it.

  • Thank you Chump Lady and the rest of you for helping me understand why it wasn’t working no matter what I tried. Just got back from the attorney’s office. The divorce paperwork is all done. Even though I know it was the right thing to do, its still incredibly sad. She walked away from 21 years of history and 3 children for a fantasy. Reading through everyone else’s similar accounts lets me know this situation isn’t out of the ordinary. Y’all helped me understand that even though I’m broken hearted, I’m not broken. Thanks again.

    • “Y’all helped me understand that even though I’m broken hearted, I’m not broken”.
      A powerful statement Im_Drinking_Doubles.
      I feel at some point in our individual journeys, each Chump felt broken because I know that I did or I thought I was a broken worthless nothing. No longer thanks to CL and CN.
      All the very best and your sadness will ease with time of that I can assure you

    • Congratulations, I_D_D. I wish we had an emotional currency converter, to show how little the disordered value the things ordinary chumps cherish so highly. Stay mighty!

  • I didn’t have CL to light up my darkest days, either. But I did have the voice of reason whispering inside my head. I didn’t have the name of what was wrong, or the diagnoses of character disorders, or a support group, but I could read and I could research, and I had a job. I consider my education and income to be the primary resources that led me away from Crazytown.

    Early on I started rejecting the messages of wreckonciliation provided by social and religious sources. I knew I hadn’t done anything to deserve the treatment I was getting, and that I had more than lived up to my end of the bargains I had made. I didn’t lie, and I didn’t cheat. The closest thing I had to a role model was the information about alcoholism available, and I knew about the support groups like Al-Anon. It didn’t fit my problem exactly, but it gave me some ideas for structure. I was wandering around looking for Meh, and my “map” was like the vague instructions the early settlers received — go west — or in my case, try to resolve the issues, and when you find out that won’t work — get divorced!

    This site is my support group, and my chance to pay it forward. I made many, many mistakes, but I also intuitively did some things right. I came out on the other side, and my sons and I were much better off in the end. I think this site provides an invaluable message of hope and a great deal of practical experience for anyone who visits it in search of some sanity. We are very, very lucky to have a guide like Chumplady!

  • So timely. I’ve spent the day a nervous wreck because I/my attorney filed a petition outlining all of my asshole’s lies. & here I sit, sick to my stomach because I”m afraid of what I’ve done! All I’ve done is tell the truth, but the Chump inside me is squirming.

    Story of our relationship – he treats me like shit and I get sick worrying that he’ll be mad at me because he treated me like shit and I might have complained…..quietly….quickly backing down………because I’m too lame of a person to deserve anything more than being treated like shit. Where the hell did that logic come from???

    I can’t wait for the brave me that tells my attorney “damn right you should file this” takes the wheel for good.
    Thanks for this post!

    • Murphy, well done. It’s hard to take that first step after years of placating an insatiable beast. Your’e doing it, keep safe now, don’t stick around for the raging.

    • Murphy, you will see more clearly after the initial storm. YOU are not responsible for appeasing your oppressor. It takes more than a minute to redefine yourself. But you are on the path to stop answering to someone who doesn’t mind ruining your life to make his easier. You are not a beaten puppy. You are mighty! Hugs to you!

  • Here’s my Chumpy and Chumpy Lady dialogue for today. My XH the substance abuser and I had to meet to sign some business papers. (We first separated over 4 years ago). Now, we get along fine. But in the 1/2 hour we were together, we played out the whole relationship all over again:
    1. His first words were to attack my [insert ethnic/religious slur] therapist for cheating me. By being paid for her work.
    2. Second words were to attack me. For paying her. (This was before “Hello” or “How are you?”)
    3. While we waited, he rejected an offer I made to pick up some of his medical bills.
    4. Chumpy Me had made up his favorite dinner; all he needed to do was bake it. “Why did you do that?”
    5. Same routine with Christmas presents, even though I assured him I don’t expect anything from him; I just wanted him to have the favorite treats I used to buy every year.

    Chumpy Me walked away with tears in her eyes; I’m not sure whom I felt worse for–him, for being relentless negative and ungrateful; or me, for not just giving up. My Chump Nation grad said, out loud: “This is exactly why you couldn’t live with him. You did the right thing, even though it’s hard, even though you feel bad about it.” I’ll do the same thing next year, but every year I’m better at not expecting anything but negativity. That said, he never gave me an ounce of trouble over the separation, and he was pretty brave at 70 for starting over. We were fair with each other, and I loved him for a long time. I just can’t live with him.

    • LAJ, why? Do you need confirmation every year that he is a miserable killjoy bigot? I suppose that could be therapeutic but there must be better things to do with your time and money. You are such a lovely contributor here.

    • LAJ,
      Could anyone who is not disordered, addicted or like pain live with him? (sincere question)
      I think that is why No Contact ( I know you had to see him) is so deadly.
      These people are good at what they do. They tie us up in knots. So, you walk away with tears in your eyes, grieving and he goes and picks his nose or masturbates or eats the Christmas treats you made him and never even has a moment of reflection or pause over your pain.

      You are too smart and empathetic to waste such treasure on a clod like that. Even one more day.
      I know that. I can just tell by your writing and insights.

    • LAJ: You always give stellar advice to people about detaching, you can’t control other people, not pouring water into a cracked vessel. And you know I adore you.

      Think about what you would say if me, or any other chump, wrote this: “I’ll do the same thing next year, but every year I’m better at not expecting anything but negativity. ”

      Is this a reciprocal relationship? I know we as chumps gain benefits from helping other people with issues greater than our own, but if you are in tears after giving someone gifts and a hand-prepared casserole? What advice would you give to another chump under those circumstances?

      [and after reading this, may I lovingly suggest you change your name to LovedTWOJackasses ; ) ].

    • LAJ, I remember sending my ex a sort of farewell letter after our divorce was final. I told him I’d always be there if he needed me, and that he had been a very important part of my life. My answer from him was *crickets*. Thankfully, I no longer feel this way about him. It takes years of NC to get to the point that you give up trying to reach them or make them understand. Eventually, you realize you can love yourself better than they ever did.

  • ‘Now, we get along fine. ‘

    ‘That said, he never gave me an ounce of trouble over the separation, and he was pretty brave at 70 for starting over. ‘

    Excuse me?

    You’re making him meals and giving him gifts?

    And he’s a dickhead in return?

    And you keep doing it anyway?

    And why do you expect to have to meet him again next Christmas?

    Are you divorced yet? If not, why not?

    Forgive me, but this looks – to a complete outsider – like a combination of Stockholm Syndrome and masochism.

    • I think LAJ is pointing out that it is a battle, between being a chump and a Bad Ass. It IS hard when you loved someone a long time. Even if they are a train wreck, alcoholic ass wipe.
      That is why I believe seeing these people is dangerous.
      I can talk a big game, but if I saw THE MAN who devastated me, I don’t know what I would do, especially if money is involved. Or if he was charming. Or if I felt weak.

      We all backslide. The key is to find someone who does not make us have to implement all these crazy, insane no contact, grey rock, being a bad ass rules.

      People who love us do not need parameters or boundaries or tutorials in how not to act like a reptile.

      • I agree. Seeing these people is dangerous.

        I think if you HAVE to see someone dangerous, you should take a kickass, accountable friend with you. Someone who will not fall for the ex schmoozing, and who will protect you from yourself.

      • I agree, Carmela. Breaking bonds with someone you’ve loved a very long time is like overcoming a terrible addiction. I never understood what people who go through detox and rehab go through until I had to make myself stop loving and caring for the person I’d been with for 36 years.

  • I just found your book and this website and it is absolutely 100% saving me. I am so happy to find this community and not feel alone. I am so in shock that the things he said and does are SO SIMILAR to everyone else’s experiences. How are they all the same???
    We have been separated since July with D – Day number who even remembers since I have given him SO many chances to change. Reading everybody’s stories and reading the book helps me to know I’m making the right decision and I can be strong enough to move forward.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    • Stronger, I like your name, you are already mighty! I also found CL 2 or 3 months ago and got hooked. As you said, I was struck by similarities of cheaters and what they SAID to us chumps and also similarities among chumps and how we reacted to what cheaters said. I also thought these were primarily male cheaters and poor women chumps.. well, I discovered a lot on this site. Even though my heart goes out to male chumps here I also am hopeful and now confident that descent men exist. I see them here. One of them was my now passed dad but I thought descency is gone with his generation.

      Stronger, you need two to tango. As long as the cheaters have the chumps, the dance continues. And during this dance they sometimes act nicely, throw us a bone here and there for our obedience to their majesty. And we get hooked. We remember their generous niceness (a rarity) and focus all our attention on it and screen out all the trash. And as long as we continue doing that we all are unconsciously happy. I stopped dancing tango. I am a solo now.

  • Just wondering. Do you guys think that our cheaters were once the nice people we thought they were and they changed? Or do you think they have always sucked and we just had the wool pulled over our eyes?

    • Their suckitude was always a seed within them. That’s my vote. I have had friends and relatives who were chumpy and not once did I ever think to use their goodwill to harm them (in fact, quite the opposite, I protect my sister and friends who are chumpy and huge-hearted).

    • They always sucked but hide it at first. They couldn’t survive if they didn’t hide who they really are most of the time, so don’t feel bad about being fooled. No one would waste a second on them if they showed their true character most of the time. Most of them are stealthy, opportunistic predators.
      Welcome to the club no one wanted to join. It will be painful but necessary to read how banal your experience is… You are safe here.

    • I was talking to my mom a couple of months ago and told her that I want him back the way I knew him when we met..or the way he was during the failed 2-month wreckonciliation: my ideal guy. My mom said, he is who he always was. He just showed a different part at the time because he needed to hook you. He always said and says that I am an ideal wufe, can’t wish for a better one, and that he won’t get married again after we divorce because he knows he won’t be able to find somebody like me. Like I care now. And during wreckonciliation he acted that way because he wanted to hook me back again. Cake is delicious when you have a chumpy wife. It’s not as good when you are a free man. Deceipt is what makes them tick. They feel in control and in the centre of attention of chump spouses, APs, everybody. As long as they can control the puppets they are happy.
      Trust that they suck. I repeat this CL’s mantra every day.

    • I like to think I’m smart. In fact, I am! I’m not easily fooled.
      And yet, 2 of my most significant decisions in my love life were totally wrong.
      You would think someone at 23 is mature enough when she chooses her first one.
      Or when you choose your spouse, someone you plan to have kids with, to grow old with.
      I’m smart, but life had some bigger lessons to teach me. It ain’t about brain smart, it is about the big picture. These sub-humans are absolute predators! They can fool almost anyone. True con-artists.
      My SBXH thrives on the victim model. His friends, would they still be such good friends to him if they didn’t feel sorry for him? His family is a total mess, I would fall for that too.
      So don’t beat yourself up for being fooled.

  • We’ve been there and done that, but most of don’t have the courage to admit that past life, and to use it as a teaching tool for when we start to feel weak. Bravo, and we thank you! Hugs…

  • I liked the end: “Chumpy me feels a bit sorry for herself now and then. God, what a waste that was. Chump Lady says “Nonsense. Look at how much we’ve learned. If it weren’t for that cheater, we never would’ve … ” accomplished!
    I must step up my game and grow past feeling sorry for myself! Now is the time to accomplish BIG things! Best time to start a new life is on New Year and on an upcoming birthday! I’ve got this!
    Thanks, Chump Lady! I think I just discovered my Enraged Lady! 🙂

  • This perfectly described exactly what I have been going through and am still in the middle of going through now. In fact, as I read the part about Chumpy trying to summon Chump lady back, and reminiscing about what she was like, it occurred to me I was doing the same in regards my inner ‘chump lady’ by coming back to take a quick peek at the latest posts.

  • I just found this site. I’m still mostly Chumpy—but the CL is beginning to contact lawyers. Chumpy is terrified. 34 years married and I don’t have it in me to try to work it out again—been there, done that. Seems he’s now hooking up with prostitutes. I’m feeling devastated and am going to need a support group. Glad to have found you.

    • Anne-non-y-mous, welcome to the club nobody wants to join. We are all here for the same reason. We will be here with you throughout your road. You will come out mighty. We all do. Chump Lady says it happens on Tuesday. I am also here waiting for mine.

  • Thanks for writing this. My girlfriend cheats on me. She doesn’t consider it cheating, instead it’s “we can see other people”. YaReally. Got my feelings all hurt and messed up, and now I have to connect with the stronger side of me.

  • I know this is an older post, but I had to weigh in. My ex hated that I had finally found a voice of reason and a legion of supporters to expose him for the manipulative monster he is and his Schmoopie too! He would see me reading ANYTHING on a computer or my phone and would ask, “Are you on your bitty blog?” He just chalked the whole blog up to a bunch of whining bitter women. Little did he know it was my guiding light for getting rid of him and his idiot affair partner. The information on this site is invaluable and offers hope to Chumps who are stuck in neutral. He was gobsmacked when I divorced him and stuck to my guns winning nearly everything he had owned! I know he never thought I would follow through and win so much from him. In the end I know I could never have accomplished any of that without Chumplady! Thank you. You all secured my financial future and my sanity!

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