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Dear Chump Lady, My mother doesn’t support my divorce

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Hi Chump Lady,

I am writing this letter after another deflating conversation with my mother in which she takes what small victories I can muster (today I put a deposit down on an apartment for myself and my 16 month old daughter) as I approach my divorce and crushes them, most likely unintentionally, but it still hurts.

Usually when I say something regarding the process of separation in a positive light, I get these snide comments such as “I guess” or “if that’s how you see it.” She says she understands my conclusions (my husband cheated for 5 of 6 years of our marriage sporadically with prostitutes — over the course of several moves and major life changes), but believes that I didn’t do enough (i.e. counseling) to try to save the marriage.

I did not go to counseling because after months of rolling this painful truth around in my head and heart, I decided counseling for the sake of saving this marriage wasn’t worth the money — I had made the conclusion that while I may be able to forgive him, I can’t stayed married to him. This might make my mom sound old fashioned or heartless, but I know she’s hurting for me too. Also, there are grey circumstances surrounding my soon to be ex’s actions (emotional stunting due to shitty oppressive father, passive-aggressive mother who said she was going to leave with the kids then changed her mind). By no means do I accept this as an excuse, but my parents grew to love his good side, which is what charmed and eventually blindsided me, and feel sorry for him.

To be fair, he is going to counseling, has stopped his bad behavior, and is trying to fix himself. Still, not going to accept what was done as okay or wait for the grand reveal of the new him. How do I make my mother see that what she’s saying is hurtful to me and counterproductive to what I’m trying to do for myself and my daughter? I became a SAHM when my daughter was born. In a matter of a month, I’ve managed to get a full-time job (which currently requires a long commute), daycare for my daughter (and battled all of the illness that accompanied that sudden change), listed the house, found an apartment — I’m exhausted! My mom has supported me in the past, but this is — hands down — the time I’ve needed it the most.

Thanks!

ChumpOnIt

Dear ChumpOnIt,

You are incredibly mighty. You’re parenting an infant child. You were dealt the blow of infidelity. You lawyered up, you didn’t pick me dance, you initiated a divorce, you listed a house, you got an apartment, you found a JOB, you found DAY CARE, and I’m quite convinced if I give you another couple weeks you’ll solve the Syrian refugee crisis. Please, from all of us here at Chump Nation, take a bow. You are kicking ass and taking names. You are AMAZING.

I’m sorry your mom sucks. You’ve tried to couch it for me in understanding spackle, hey, she loved him too. She was charmed. She’s not old-fashioned or heartless. Really she’s hurting for you too. She just shows it with utterances like “I guess” and suggestions that you didn’t try hard enough to save your marriage. Well, ChumpOnIt, I don’t have to like your mom. She’s not my mom. I think your mother sucks.

I get that she’s your mother and you love her and you’ll probably continue to love her after this crisis, but right now she is letting you down grievously. Maybe your mom doesn’t know what it’s like to find out her marriage is a lie. And that for FIVE of the SIX years you were married he was fucking prostitutes. And maybe she doesn’t know what’s it’s like to have her pregnancy imperiled by STDs. Or have the person you trusted most in the world look you square in the face for FIVE YEARS and lie to you. To go out, fuck a prostitute and then come home, crawl in bed and fuck you. Maybe she doesn’t know what it’s like to have your heart shatter into a million pieces, and get up to feed a crying baby anyway. Or then find a job. Or believe in yourself when you’re on your knees with grief.

Your mom was spared that. She doesn’t know.

But I can tell you, as a mother, she should have a damn good imagination. Like most mothers, I don’t have to experience calamity to imagine it for my child. Oh, I imagine my son dead in a ditch every time he doesn’t text me back. I worry every time he drives. My heart broke for him when he was 5 and Kate didn’t want to sit next to him on the school bus and he sobbed. I felt murderous the first time I heard a kid bullied him. And pretty much 24/7 I imagine all sorts of horrors and what I can do to shield him from them. (Should I send money? Place a phone call? Drive to Pennsylvania right now and get to the bottom of this?)

What I cannot imagine is shrugging and siding with the person who hurt my child.

I’m not talking gray zone here — like maybe my son was an asshole, or he back talked a teacher, and got detention. I’m not saying My Child Right Or Wrong — I’m saying how a mother feels when someone HURTS her CHILD DELIBERATELY.

As in steals her money, abuses her trust, breaks her heart, and fucks prostitutes.

THAT kind of hurt, ChumpOnIt, ought to bring out the mama grizzly. Where is her protective love for you? Where is her anger? How DARE YOU HURT ChumpOnIt like that! How DARE you disrespect her! AFTER ALL WE’VE DONE FOR YOU! After we let you into our family and our hearts? You PLAY US LIKE THAT?

And let’s not forget your father here either. Why aren’t both of your parents chasing this guy down the street with a threaded pipe?

but my parents grew to love his good side, which is what charmed and eventually blindsided me, and feel sorry for him.

Why do they feel sorry for HIM over YOU?

It’s not their job to feel sorry for him. I’m sure he’s got enough of that for himself, plus he’s got his own set of shitty parents.

So why are your parents failing you now? Some guesses.

  1. They don’t think Dickface deliberately hurt you. They buy the RIC bullshit. It was a “mistake” (singular), not five straight years of deception.
  2. They see this as YOUR failure, not his. YOU didn’t try hard enough. (Versus HE broke this.)
  3. They don’t know. Never having experience betrayal, they imagine what they would do. THEY would be magnanimous. They would work harder. They would have magic, superpowers that could fix this. Because the most important thing is Not Failing. (As if you had control over other people and what they do.)
  4. They don’t value you as much as you (rightly!) value yourself. They think you should settle for a prostitute-fucking liar, thief. (Yeah, THIEF. Sex workers cost money. He spent marital assets to have a double life.)
  5. Your parents aren’t very deep. They put more weight on “charm” than evidence. (See prostitutes, double life, theft above.)
  6. You’re too strong. I don’t mean this is a blame-shifting way. I mean that you’re a chump. You shoulder more responsibility, take adversity head on, and are all-around mighty as a RULE. So why can’t you fix THIS, wonders your mother? Perhaps she hasn’t seen your vulnerability. You vomiting with grief. She sees a woman who Cannot Forgive, who is busy moving on with her life. She’s focusing on your REACTION to him, not what he did. I’m not suggesting you be vulnerable with Mumsy (sounds like a bad idea given her current state). I would take a more clinical approach and tell her exactly what he did and how it effected you. Perhaps if she saw your hurt more than your strength, she would understand your course of action.

ChumpOnIt, I can validate your anger and disappointment with your parents. What I cannot do is give you a new set of parents. I’d suggest you not look to them for support, but get on the forums here and find solace with the people in your life who DO get you. Let your parents help with logistics, like babysit their grandchild sometimes. But do NOT trust them with your broken heart.

When your parents fail you, the takeaway lesson is Don’t Be That Sort of Parent. Be the Mama Grizzly for your daughter. Be understanding. Be compassionate. And carry a threaded pipe.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • They could be old school too – following the mentality that whatever is dealt to you must be put up with no matter what. Or they are worried about you and the baby being alone and are expressing it poorly. Whatever it is – it is their issue – their problem – and not yours. You are mighty and taking the steps needed to break the cycle – to stand up and show your daughter that it isn’t okay to put up with crap (ok – she has to grow up a bit to get the message but she will). You are gaining strength every day that passes and like all shit sandwiches (and your mom is serving it) you have to push it away and say no thanks.

    • I disagree with this. Not all mothers and families do want the best for you at all in any way. Too many chumps have FOO issues for me to swallow this.
      I suffered for years (less now but it’s still irritating) that people always said ‘but she’s your mother she’ll come around, she didn’t mean it, I’m sure you remember it differently, she always seemed so nice to me’.
      It led me to stay silent about her abuse. It kept me isolated and further traumatised.
      Mothers and fathers are people that suffer from the whole spectrum of human attributes some good and some very bad.
      Sorry. Bit of a hot button.

      • Completely agree. I hate getting the “they’re your family” crap right after I’ve just explained all the horrible things that family member has done to me. It’s even worse when that person is your mother. Not sure why people seem to think you have to put up with parents even when they are abusive.

        • ^^^ This.

          My mother, for quite some time, did not support me either. With HER? It was ABOUT her. She wanted the male presence in the house (we all lived together). HOW would she explain this to her friends?

        • Yes. My dad, mom and sister. Then, my nephew I helped raise as my brother. I had a shitty family. I have basically gone no contact with them as they judge, steal and lie and tell me that I am the weak one. Thank you for the extra help stealing from me as I go through the divorce.

      • Spot on Capricorn! Quite often it’s our parents who are the ones that hurt us and cause the most damage, when they should be protecting us from harm. Just because someone is a sperm and egg donor doesn’t make automatically make them good, when they are ill-intentioned towards their own children.

      • Absolutely, Capricorn. This was a hard column to read — I don’t really know if my mother would have been on my side with the divorce (she had severe dementia, and knew nothing about any of it) — and she died three weeks ago, so I never will know that, or a lot of other things.

        • ANR
          So sorry. It’s such crap isn’t it.
          I know my mother will rejoice when she finds out. So will my brother and his family. And probably my cousins……
          One thing people ALWAYS say when they find out I am not in touch with my birth family is to ask ‘what if she dies?’ ‘Don’t you want to forgive her before she dies?’
          I usually try not to have this conversation as I think she died to me a long time ago and I’m hoping that her death doesn’t kick me again in a way I don’t yet see. She really has been the gift that keeps giving. If anyone is getting haunted it’s me. Lol.

          I’m sorry about the dementia too. It’s hard for you being a good person and feeling natural empathy but knowing that this person will not or cannot ever be ‘safe’.
          I guess hope that they will FINALLY get us and be sorry for all the hurt never completely goes away.
          Many hugs to you. ?

          • Cap,
            Your mother will rejoice when she finds out? I winced when I read that. God. I am so sorry. You have come so far with the shittiest of FOO issues and were so wise to go no contact. Sounds like you have broken that horrible chain of passing on the FOO issues and your kids are awesome. How many days left until STBX leaves? I think the full force of CN is counting down with you.

            • 5 DAYS……
              I’m literally a knotted mess of muscle and teeth grinding now. Nightmares. The whole nine yards.
              But I’m not going to crack now. Fuck that. I am observing a covert narc at work so that I can share just how fucked up they are and how we could not be expected to see it before we did.
              Methinks I shall have a few days on the FUCK thread…. I may break it.

              • Oh yeah, you’ve got this. This time next year? You are going to be celebrating your 1-year post-narc-under-the-same-roof anniversary. I celebrated that on Valentines Day. Our last day under the same roof was Feb 14 2016. At first it seemed a bitter irony since we got engaged Feb 14 1995. But later I came to realize it was a beautiful closure – full circle. You know how to best take care of yourself the next 5 days. Good luck!!?

              • My new therapist told me to remember that “he is sicker than you are smart” as we head to trial. Keeps me from getting caught up in crazy again.

              • Cap, it almost like we are like long lost sisters. My FOO exactly. Covert narc egg donor, malignant narc sperm donor. My view may not be PC, but it has been proven true. I would also add that this is not a comment on normal parents.

                Like all their disordered brethren, the parental cluster B’s completely enjoyed inflicting pain on those vulnerable to them because of the rush of power they got as they abused their victims. Might as well expect compassion from a black widow spider. They celebrate our shipwrecks because it makes them feel powerful and better than us. I suspect that many of us were the scapegoats in our FOOs, and that seems to be the usual order of business in families with at least one cluster B.

                Sending you hugs, Cap…… Wishing you blessed freedom soon.

              • Don’t underestimate the strength of the FUCK! thread; that thing is invincible and has taken more twists & turns than Thelma & Louise ; ).

          • Thank you.
            “Don’t you want to forgive her before she dies?” What a question. I didn’t forgive my mother before she disappeared into dementia, but I did the best I could to make sure she was cared for. I didn’t spend a lot of time with her, and I’m feeling the guilt of that now, but overall that was the right decision. I was with her when she was dying, and I hope that made some sort of difference to her, though it’s hard to say. My relationship with my father was not nearly as fraught, and his death was not nearly as difficult to bear.

            • ANR, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. You did the best you could. I, too, had a difficult relationship with my mother and in the end, she and I had an understanding that we both did the best we could with our relationship.

      • I agree with you completely, Capricorn. For me, waking up from x’s betrayal meant entering a nightmare of realizing my FOO issues are even worse.

        My mom never wanted children and has resented the three of us as long as we’ve been alive. I didn’t realize repeatedly telling your child that “if abortion had been legal in 1962 you wouldn’t even be here!” was not a typical mother-daughter exchange.

        Her most recent iteration of this old saw came last week on the occasion of my second brother’s 65th birthday. Mom sent me a long email stating that she had been so disappointed he was a boy (65 years ago) because she really wanted a girl and how glad I became that girl (55 years ago) and how lucky “we” were because…”if abortion had been legal in 1962 you wouldn’t even be here!”

        She also mentioned, again, how happy she was that x turned out to be such a perv because she “had never liked him” and now “everybody has to acknowledge how [she] was right all along.”

        When I was close to death in the emergency room last fall, she hung up on my call to her because [I] “didn’t sound happy.”

        Arghhhh!

        • At last! Sorry but Yes!! You get it. I can’t tell you (or maybe I can) how appalling a mother can be. Mine also would say she never wanted us but couldn’t do much about it now. If we made her angrier than she normally was (he default state) she would literally ignore us for days. Not speak to us, look at us. Breaks my heart to think of all the little I’m sorry notes I pushed under her door to try and get her to stop. They were always just scrunched up in the bin the next day.

          • Amazing, the cruelty they casually dish out to their unfortunate children. Thank goodness our children have us, the ones who know on a deep level how much this shit hurts, and who have resolved to give so much better than what we got. Go us!

          • Ahh the parents, mine are a narc mom and an enabling dad. The joys of growing up with a mother that despised you, just because you were born, and a father that was never there for you because he was always to busy “taking” care of mother to be bothered with the kids.
            After many years of NC with my parents off and on during the adult years, them not having any type of contact with my two younger children, never being there for me at any point in my whole entire life, “raising” my oldest daughter, because I “wouldn’t do it right” because I was only 18 when I had her, they help my brother, only sibling, to drink himself to death. And I get to clean up that mess too.
            My brother died a year and a half ago, at the age of 45, from alcoholism.
            My mother calls me one day and she tells me that my brother is really sick. I didn’t answer her call initially, my son, my conscience that day, says that I should at least find out what they are calling for. My mother wants me to come over and take my brother to the hospital. I ask her if he is that sick then she should call the ambulance. She won’t, tells me to come over. I go over and find my brother prone on the couch. There is no way to get him in my car, he can’t even stand. I call the ambulance. Parents are not happy. My brother gets to the hospital and omg. I had never seen someone who was so yellow.
            We are dark skinned, really dark skinned, but he was yellow. His liver was gone, the rest of his organs were shutting down. He may be able to come through this if he is transported to a hospital 200 miles away, if not the only thing that they can do for him here is to “comfort” him until the end. My mothers response, if they transport him I won’t be able to visit him. WTF. He’s dying at 45 yo, and she’s worried about what she can and can’t do.
            He died around 27 hours later, no parents there, because they were “tired” because they are “old”, with only me, the blacksheep, there. I promised him I would be there as long as he needed me and I was. Our relationship, me and brothers, was not good after our early teen years, thanks to mother. But at least I was there for him at the bitter end. I prayed that he would finally find peace and joy and hope and love, because we had none growing up and had very little while adults.
            So no, sometimes there are people that should never, ever be parents. They do not deserve the privilege or the honor to be parents.

            • flutterby – what a heartbreaking story. It’s a testament to your resilience that you have so much integrity and do the right thing…(((hugs)))

            • Flutterby – Your story brought tears to my eyes, because my parents were exactly like your parents. I understand why your brother ended up an alcoholic, it’s probably to mask the pain he was in because of your parents and how little love, joy and hope they gave your brother. Being there for your brother during his last days was the most beautiful gift you could have given him, because he was surrounded by at least 1 person who loved him. Your parents sure has heck couldn’t have shown him that. And I agree, that parents like ours do not deserve to be parents yet people like this meet, mate and have children to only torture them during their lives. Yet many deserving people want to have kids and are unable to. It’s so unfair.

          • Cap, I am sorry you had to deal with that. I remember doing something similar, but the effort was met with a much different response. I can’t imagine how much hurt that causes in a child’s heart. That, and (not that it’s a good thing either way), but usually it’s the kid who rejects s parent’s apology. Parents are supposed to know better/be made of tougher stuff.

        • Holy crap, Roaring. Bad enough a mother would think that, but to tell your kids you would have had an abortion rather than have them? Unspeakable. I’m sorry.

          One of the things my daughter said as additional reason to have NC with her cheater father was, “he never wanted kids, anyway.” Children should never know that.

        • Roaring, first I am so sorry you had to deal with this “mother”. Toxic does not even begin to describe this woman. She obviously thrives on torturing her children and in my opinion, she VERY MUCH wanted children as having children was where she truly got to release her venom. Why any of you have contact with this woman is baffling but I’d tell her that she is now her own (she must be up there with a 65 y/o son) and good luck. Laugh at her, they hate it when you laugh, especially when directed at them, and tell her what a foolish, ridiculous woman she has been her entire life. Tell her she’s a joke. Then have nothing to do with her ever again.

      • Hear, hear. Not everyone understands what it is to have a parent that you try to give the benefit of the doubt to, because you’d die and go to heaven if they, just once, one day reacted like you would like a mom or dad to when you come to them for help. To show you love, that you are valuable to them other than as an extension of their own ego. There is nothing more dispiriting than hoping they’ll change, giving them chances, and them coming right back – same as it ever was – with the same bullshit. My sister and my motto for dealing with our parents – avoid disappointment – manage (our own) expectations (of what they are capable of giving).

      • I noticed one thing missing in this thread that has helped me tremendously. When I told a not to close friend about The SpinDoctor, she later told me that she had a nightmare where he showed up at a party and she chased him off with a knife and told him to leave. My therapist pointed out that The SpinDoctor also deceived all my friends and family and they were going through their own grief at betrayal. Even parents and friends can spackle to make it through. Stick with support from your friends and family who trust that your cheater sucks.

      • Capricorn, I completely agree with you. Not all families — at all! — want what’s best for you. Some want what’s best for THEM!
        Perhaps people from so-called ‘normal’ (or at least ‘somewhat normal’) families find this hard to understand. But not all families are looking out for your best interests, and this letter writer’s family is certainly not, no matter how much she tries to spackle them!

    • Sorry, but not every mother wants the best for their child. Realistically, some mothers are just horrible for many reasons.

      Mine was awful – no one should be the recipient of the things she said about his infidelity and the divorce – I was the only one who took care of her until the day she died.

      Get some new BFFs (many here) and a great therapist (keep shopping until you find the best one for you!).

      Put your mother in a separate box and don’t expect any support.

      If you look and ASK for support and help, you WILL find it elsewhere and you will be great! DONT give up!

    • I’m with you, Cap. Not all parents want the best for their kids if it means they have to face the reality of their own mess and highlight their failings. After being scapegoated for years, I cut off a supremely toxic FOO for my own survival, and my STBX’s family could never quite grasp “why” I would do such a thing bc “they are your family.” Even after multiple detailed explanations they couldn’t seem to connect the dots. This in itself should have been a HUGE red flag for the dynamics in that family.

      Now, as I’m leaving STBX because of his abuse and infidelity, the big focus is on scapegoating me and spackling his behavior. Rinse, repeat. Lesson learned, never again.

      ChumpOnIt, you are **MIGHTY AF** and I wish I had a just a *fraction* of your badassery. As painful as it is, the less you look backward, the more you look forward and get ‘ok’ with focusing on you and your daughter. The more you prune out people who are dead weight in your life, the more space you free up for people who treasure you. Real love means never having to spackle!

      You two deserve a team of people behind you to love and support you; CL and CN are a key part of that team. There’s a ton of love, support, and experienced advice to be had here. Hugs to you and your little girl.

    • My mom wanted me to do whatever made her look good. She had visions that I would marry George Bush’s nephew or something. I loved Husband 1.0 and I believed he would be a good partner when we married but mom was racist and was deeply ashamed over my choice of spouse (who was Latin) she was ashamed that my kids have a Latin surname and she was never a good grandmother to them (her only grandchildren). Now that he is dead, she wants me to share his life insurance money with her.

      I actually believe that she is more disordered than H1.0 was.

      • Unicornnomore, OMG, again my mother. Everything was about how it made her look. I married an dark Italian. Her comment about us getting married, ” I don’t want brown, grand babies”. I cut her out 9 years ago. When my husband died, she was suddenly wanting to be close. I knew she wanted insurance money, nope, stay away from me. She is like the flu, she can infect you with a hand shake.

        • Wow, again parallel lives! When I worked 12 hour night shifts pregnant to contribute to my family, she (who refused to work,lives in a mansion/beyond her means) asked me for “food money”. That was a “no”. I never told them how much $ I got when he died but the trips to Europe were probs a clue… she told my brother that she was certain if she asked us each for $10,000 that we would give it to her. Uh no.

    • In my case (and this may not be true in your case), I learned a whole lot about my parents after my divorce, things they never intended to tell me or even deal with themselves.

      • This is my life currently! I’m seeing a whole lot of things I managed to ignore, not see, dismiss, minimize, explain away etc etc etc

        More every year / I shine light on edges I tried to unfeel
        ~Pinegrove, Cadmium

        • Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
          @sj you so nailed it. You’re not alone here. The things I have learned have mad me mad, made me cry and given me the foundation I need to build the me I want to be. My family no longer has any power over me and it is such a relief!

    • Totally agree with most of these responses. Some parents want what’s best for themselves.

      And standing ovation for ChumpOnIt for your mightiness!

    • I disagree that parents always want the best for us. Sometimes, just like cheater partners, they want what’s best for THEM! Or what looks best, makes the family look good and sparkle to the outside world.

      We have to recognize people for who they really are, and stop sparkling in all areas of our lives.

          • I had a real friend this weekend to make me go through so much in the house to give up. Plus, she went through clothes, coats, boots, hats and all the way through my kitchen utensils, etc. she told what I could and couldn’t have. I mean everything is going and soon! That is support. And she told me that the rumors around were he really liked him some nurses. He never spoke to me as a person after he had me. I can’t tell you how many people in small town hate this once prestigious doctor. I found a slip of paper where he had handwritten a will to leave me with nothing and give our home, land, our retirement, everything to the church 25 years ago. I had just cared for him after a heart attack. My helper angel said, “we are keeping that”.

    • Not to pile on, but many parents and family want you to do what’s best for THEM. They don’t wish to go to church or the rotary club or wherever and have to report that their child “failed” at her marriage and is now a struggling single parent. Nor do they wish to admit that the wonderful SIL they have been bragging about to anyone who will listen is actually a complete asshole. It is really embarrassing for them and you should sweep it all under the rug to spare them this indignity.

    • +1 for yet another FOO survivor here. My parents as well do not have my (or my family’s) best interests at heart. They are both disordered fuckwits who wouldn’t support me if their lives depended on it. They purposefully seek to point out my perceived failings at every turn. #whothefuckdoesthattotheironlychild??!!

      I’ve cut them out of my life. And for that, I get to be the “asshole son,” the bad guy in their’s and everyone else’s mind because I’m denying them their grandchildren (not preventing them from scapegoating them too) or not dropping everything whenever they call for tech support (so I can be blamed when it doesn’t work precisely as they demand) or not accepting blame for whatever the fuck they’re pissed-off at today.

      Whenever some poor soul inquires why I cut my parents off, I inform them that, “They are horrible, hateful, spiteful, vindictive people and I cut them off to protect myself and my children. I am in the process of cutting out the negative influences in my life so I can try to be healthy one day (you know… like when people cut out cancer).” There is an inevitable look of horror that crosses their face. But it’s not that my parents are horrible – it’s that I compare my own parents to cancer.

      I’ve come to accept my lot in life that I am an ungrateful, disrespectful, selfish piece-of-shit asshole. The very same monster I claim to be escaping from.

      • I beg to differ, BetrayedNoMore. You definitely NOT an ungrateful, disrespectful, selfish, piece of shit asshole. You are a smart, perceptive, proactive and protective Dad who is learning, growing, and doing the best job you can. To hell what others think. Self protection and protecting your kids from evil people is an act of bravery. My hat is off to you. I would have loved to have a dad like you!

      • BetrayedNoMore–I agree with Tessie, you are not ungrateful or an asshole. Think of it this way–if disordered people don’t like you, that’s a compliment. It must mean you have integrity and admirable traits (which they can’t tolerate, because they know you are a better person than them).

        I hope you can find (or initiate) a chump meetup in your area; you’ll find like-minded people who admire that integrity and your fierce protection of your children. Hugs to you!

      • BetrayedNoMore – + 1 with Tempest and Tessie… You are building better boundaries with people who hate boundaries… Of course they are going to test you with everything they have to get you back to your chumpiest state…

        I tried for years to explain to my dad why my way of life and my wanting to become educated and to travel were good things… He never respected my quest for knowledge nor my thirst for exploring different cultures… He only showed disdain when I told him I earned my PhD, and tried to guilt me into moving to his native country to take care of him in his old age instead of supporting my decision to move to a new country that had better career prospects for my line of work.

        When he passed, I felt the burden of catering to his ego and my need to adapt to his desires vanished along with him… I also felt a deep sense of peace that I did not compromise my values and I remain proud of how I handled my relationship with him.

        Hang on to your boundaries BetrayedNoMore, hold your head high and build your best life!

      • Betrayednomore, you did the right thing(s). I used to belong to an online Children of Narcissistic Parents group (not sure if it exists any more) and the biggest regret that people had was that they allowed their narcissist parent(s) to see their grandchildren in their formative years.

    • So true.. the only support I could find was Chump Lady and my lawyer! Everyone else spackled why my ex was extorting marital assests, alienating my kids, and his family against me to create a new life for him! If I allowed this any longer I would have been ?! Nothing fixes a predator!

    • Sue, I think your comment is most accurate in my situation. My parents come from a long line of long-married people (who are happy with each other other than the occasional “your father/grandfather is driving me nuts”…funny how it’s always the men :-/) I even told my mom as much when she started to get upset with/for (sometimes I can’t tell) me. I am not denying her emotions/hurt in all of this, but it’s my problem first.

    • Sue, I disagree. My mom certainly didn’t! She was a narcissistic alcoholic cheater herself who neglected and abused me for years. Shitty people breed every day — just ask all the chump-dudes here!

    • Many women come and tell other betrayed wives that perhaps they did not do enough for the marriage. That is a total lie and these women operate from a space of being judgmental and also where they may have never experienced betrayal themselves. My husband deceived me for most of our married life of 14 years and had an intense affair with an ex-coworker for one year while i had our second baby. Our marriage was floundering and i was asking him to pay attention to our family. At the time, i did not know of his deception and only suspected it because of his dis-engagement. Please take pride in your actions ! YOU ARE MY HERO. A HUSBAND WHO CHEATED ON YOU WHEN YOU HAD A BABY TO NURTURE (LIKE MINE DID)…IS NOT WORTH AN OUNCE OF YOUR ENERGY. I was an idiot that still gave him another chance and tried reconciliation for three agonizing months only to realize he still blames me for everything.

      • Pria, I was right where you were for four months…thinking it could work. I had the same issues too up until that point — feeling like something was off, but no clue and no answer from him, even when asking point blank (of course I got my answer after all this time…too little too late). I am now getting the “I don’t understand your anger”/”your anger is counterproductive” stuff. Really? *That* was counterproductive?? I am staying as businesslike as I can for the relationship between us for our daughter, but it’s so hard sometimes. I suppose hero is a relative term. We are in a very similar place…I hope you are also taking pride in your actions. You are right — they suck, and they are not worth it.

  • I wonder what these parents are like about other things…I was as hopeful that my parents would someday snap out of their selfishness as I was about Cheater. Even if you love them and see the best in them, some people aren’t really supportive parents.

    My parents can no longer do anything for me (mom drank herself into dementia) but back when they could, if I were struggling, they would pretend to not notice. I had horrible morning sickness when Cheater was sent to war and begged them to help me and mom said she had parties to attend. As a very young military spouse I was stuck alone in a far away city during the holidays and begged them to visit. Dad said he couldn’t bear to be away from his beloved house at Christmas (yes, they actually really do love their house much more than they love me, have proven it over and over again).

    They are the sort who would have bought me a bottle of water if I were drowning or a life preserver if I were dying of thirst in the desert then told me that it was expensive and I should appreciate it.

    There are some people who are so incapable of being supportive that looking for it from them is like going to the hardware store to buy bread…no matter how much you need it or how hard you look, there is no bread. Quit looking for bread, it aint there and you will spend energy you don’t have seeking it.

    I never told my parents of the abuse and cheating because I knew whatever their response was, it would only make things harder. Unlike the Mighty one Chumponit, I didn’t leave Cheater when the kids were little partially because I had no safety net at all. You kick ass, be proud of yourself !!

    • Wow, UNM, you have survived a lot. It’s so painful when parents suck, and leave you hanging. I’m glad you have love now!

    • UNM, I am so sorry you had to go through all of that without a safety net. My dad wasn’t mentioned because he is particularly supportive/understanding and less emotional/outwardly judgmental than my mom. I saw both of them this weekend (they have been trying to downsize for some time and want to move closer to my brother and I) and I think my mother is coming around to asking questions rather than letting hurtful things slip — trying to make sure I’m getting my bearings and asking if I need her to bring/take things when she comes back soon to help with the baby when my soon-to-be ex leaves on a work trip. I think it is just taking her some time. When I wrote to CL, I was at the point of totally resenting having to shoulder these jabs in addition to all of the other stuff.

  • This is true. It’s better to look to ur friends for this kind of support. If you don’t already know people who have been through this seek them out. Join a support group. Check around at ur new job. You’d be surprised at how many successful people have been through the same struggles and are usually more than willing to support just because of it. The experience gives you a unique insight that people who have not been through it simply are not capable of. I have found it also helps my own process of healing to help someone else. You are definitely mighty that you have done so much on your own but we all need a friend.

    • And I think we instinctively know who will be supportive vs. not; it’s not a perfect correlation, but “following your gut” works here, too.

      I have two sisters and two aunts. After D-day, I only called 1 aunt and 1 sister–both ones who supported me no matter what hour I called them. After the divorce was imminent, I started called the other two, and was eventually reminded of why they had not been the ones I leaned on early in the proceedings. Both issued variants of the “get over it” advice long before it was feasible that I would get over it.

      • and sometimes I think we call people we know will not be supportive for absolution for the divorce–if we can convince THEM it is the right thing to do, then obviously we made the correct decision. When those people show their hand as non-supporters, however, it’s time to run rather than question our own decisions about our own lives.

        • Tempest, so true…if it’s unanimous, it feels like the right decision. One word of doubt and it all starts to unravel.

    • Loved, you are right…I have talked with several close friends, one of whom offered to punch him on my behalf. Cousins have called and had long talks with me. I think it’s easier to confide in a “contemporary” than a parent. There’s such a different dynamic with the people who once changed your diapers and put bandages on your knee.

  • Dear Chumponit
    You are everything Chump Lady says you are – very mighty indeed. Don’t spend time trying to figure out the “why” of people do things. Your husband is an asshole and you are wise to give him the heave ho. You will never know why he did what he did – just that he did it. That’s all you need to know. Same with your mother. You may never know the real reason why she is not treating you with all of the compassion and understanding that you deserve – just know that she will not be doing it. Shut down that information flow to her because it is drawing pain your way at a time when you need emotional strength. I wonder if maybe your (silent) father did the same thing to her. Maybe her father did it to her mother. Maybe your wrecked marriage is embarrassing for her because she had enjoyed living in the reflection of a daughter who had everything going for her. Anyway, none of these are good enough reasons. You will likely never find out the “why”. She may not even understand why she feels this way. In any case, know that she sucks. Take what you can from the relationship – babysitting for your daughter and shut down all judgemental comments from your mother and anyone else who is not 100% supportive of your living up to your values. Joining Chump Nation and reading about other people’s experiences has given me incredible clarity when it comes to seeing who I need in my life. I cut out a couple of Switzerland friends and have never looked back. You have great worth. So glad to know that you are already on your way to a new life.

    • Indomitable, it’s more the opposite for me — Catholic family, long (mostly happy) marriages…I think my mom can’t deal with the fact that people are just getting shittier (and so close to home). She does want to best for me, but she’s struggling to make sense of what’s happening. Even though I’ve put my foot down and have moved on with things, I have been too. Trying to redirect with babysitting/spending time with her granddaughter seems to help. My little girl loves my parents. I have been reading everyone’s stories and comments nearly every day since — ironically enough — my STBX pointed it out to me when I was more of the mindset that things could be worked out. You all are so strong and generous for sharing your experiences. Now that I am getting feedback of my own, I am especially grateful to CL and CN.

  • Chump OnIt
    I noticed a couple of things that struck me about your letter.
    “Another deflating conversation” with your mother. I’m wondering if this is the usual way with your mother and that you are just noticing it a lot more because you are in desperate need of support. Is she usually supportive and is this an aberration? I’m guessing not so much.
    “I know she is hurting for me”. How do you ‘know’ this or is it an assumption? She really doesn’t sound like she is.
    About your STBX. “While I may be able to forgive him” “to be fair to him he is going to counselling”.
    What this SCREAMS to me is that you are undervaluing yourself and the magnitude of the offence against you and just what a total fucker he is.
    He has cheated on you for 5-6 years with prostitutes and god knows what else he has done. Most of us here find that the one thing that alerts us to the cheating is the tip of a very large iceberg that we never get to see the size of.
    You speak of grey areas for him exactly making excuses and minimising your pain. You speak of your mother hurting for you without much evidence of it. Loyalty and being kind to them is not going to help you. They will continue to do what is right for them regardless of feeding you into a wood chipper of pain.
    It is so hard to discover that people are really not who you thought they were. At least I knew my mother would be gleeful to hear of any pain coming my way. I just had to focus on how nasty my STBX really was despite the nice aura.

    • Cap, it’s only with conversations on the impending divorce that I feel deflated. Everything else typically goes along fine without incident. She and I butted heads a lot once I hit my teen years and had a “quarter” life crisis. I think she basically sees me as the impetuous, angry, depressed person I was then. Don’t get me wrong, I still have aspects of that in my system (particularly the anger), but I have grown out of a lot of it. I do see that my phrasing certainly minimizes my pain…maybe I’m concerned that I’m getting all “teenagery” again…I don’t know. I go through cycles of trying to temper myself and going ballistic. I do trust that he sucks…it’s just trying to find where I need to be that’s both just and healthy.

  • I wish a left mine 7 years ago when he was a binge drinking douche but the fear of the unknown kept me there, god only knows why as before having kids I had travelled and worked around the world. India, Morocco Europe, Canada alone.
    Some people can’t feel your pain stick to those that can, you are rocking it and will go strength to strength more power to you, he’s a dick. Like my Mum said to me ‘in a year from now you wont know yourself’ generally they have not supported me much because I was independent and living the nomad life from 17 but god damn they knew he was a fucker about 3 months in.
    My motto from my recent readings is ‘ perfect your own game don’t consider what the opposition is doing’ one foot in front of the other. He will go through the councilling motions, let him, pay no mind.

  • Having parents that never validate and in subtle ways tear down the confidence of their children sets them up to accept people in their lives that continue
    to mirror that behavior. Even if that behavior is abuse they find it familiar and accept it rather than face the unknown. I have no idea but I would wager that
    this is not the first time her mother has been unsupportive…

        • I’m not sure about accepting bad behavior. She’s been notably contradictory since all of this has been coming to a head. She tells STBX that she would have been gone in a heartbeat, then tells me tha she doesn’t think we did enough to try to get things to work. I think because nothing like this has happened in our family (at least my parents’ generation going backward) it’s just so foreign to her that it doesn’t make sense that this couldn’t work somehow.

          • Also, my mom is a tough lady. Both my parents work, but she had been more the breadwinner up until her retirement. She doesn’t take crap from anyone, which is why this reaction has been particularly confusing/hurtful.

            • Hi ChumpOnIt,
              I’ve read so many comments, yours included, and am just wondering this…have you told her how you felt? And then I also wonder…would you be willing to show her your letter to CL? I’m getting from you that there’s a disconnect on this issue, in an otherwise loving relationship. If that’s the case, your mother really needs to know how her not being there for you 150% is affecting you and causing you pain. I just went through a horrific divorce by trial that went badly for me and I lost everything. Of course, no matter how bad it gets I will NEVER consider that staying was a reasonable option. But a few people who love me and have watched everything be taken away after 20+ years have wondered if I had stayed and forged a life of my own in that situation if I would be better off. They wonder that because they love me not because they are taking his side or thinking I made the wrong decision. They want to protect me from the pain of everything I’ve been through. Yes, I wouldn’t have had my own independent (and cheater-free) life. But I would have security for myself and my two autistic children instead of worrying about being homeless every day. Moms worry about those things for their kids…and I think that may be what your mom is doing for you. She doesn’t think you’re wrong, she worries about what all of this (divorcing with a small child) will do to you. The hardships it will bring to your life and your daughters life. Just a thought.

              • Mighty, yes, this exactly. I think it might have been different if it were just me backing out of this (we also have a dog whom my parents love that will be going with STBX because he works mostly from home and can give her more time during the day). It’s just everything/everyone piled together. I have mentioned in my frustration/sadness how I have a lot to carry with me now. Not that I would ever wish my daughter away, just the cold reality of what it does to a person to have to try to start again with a child. My mom probably does fear for me…you’re right. Kudos to you too…it won’t be an easy life, but we’ll have our principles and hopefully a those who love us will support us as we try to provide a good example to the kids.

              • Also, not sure how she would feel about seeing CL saying she sucks, haha. The comments she made without wanting to go further into it sucked (and yes, I tried to call her out and we did go further into it). Maybe when I’m feeling more energetic and ready to have it out again…

    • So right.My hyper critical scapegoating mother set me up to be perfect narcbait in adulthood.I suspect many chumps who undervalue themselves are created by unsupportive parents.The abuse feels familiar.

  • I’m so sorry your mother is being totally unreasonable.

    We don’t control other people. You can’t make your husband faithful.

    And don’t get me started on MC. As I learned, MC may be helpful to address problems in the marriage. But cheating is not caused by problems in the marriage. It’s caused by one person having poor character (and you husband fits that definition, hands down).

    MC would do NOTHING to stop your husband’s cheating. Instead, it would just give him a platform from which to air his alleged grievances “with the marriage” and distract from the fact that he sucks as a human being.

    Best response to your mother is, “Yes, this is what I think is best.”

    • Just wanted to expand on this:

      My family was very supportive of my divorcing (in fact, they thought I should not have even put up with the 6 months that I did.)

      But my family knew that they would not agree with every decision I made.

      I chose to stay in the coty my wife moved us to years earlier, which my family didn’t want. But (at the time) that was what was best for me. It allowed me to push the divorce forward while my wife dawdled. And then, when the divorce was finalized, it allowed me to make new memories in this place (2,500 miles from my family) that were not tied to my ex. It allowed me to take on changes as I was ready to, not all at once…which probably would have been too much for my then-fragile self to handle.

      I no longer live there. I made the 2,500-mile move back to my hometown region last year. But that was after building new memories, and even trying a new life on a different coast, all without my ex.

      My family supported those decisions, all of them, even if they preferred that I made different ones.

      No one will agree with every decision you make. But they should support you, regardless.

      • “No one will agree with every decision you make. But they should support you, regardless.”

        GREAT point. Both Chumps and their supporters can lose sight of this, but it’s vital knowledge to keep in the back of your mind.

      • JC — funny, that was my response to her! Something along the lines of, “well, I see it as good news, so yes, it’s good news” (regarding finding an apartment). I am starting to think that maybe it’s more of the disagreement than lack of support. It just cut me down that night…I was feeling so high from seeing good things on the horizon, but still so fragile and struggling to find these little, happy moments.

  • Well said! Thank you for 4&5 as my unicorn was also a prostitute banger! Over 20 grand spent on prostitutes! I’ve also had so many people side with the cheater, he is great at gaining sympathy! If they feel so sorry for him, let them fork out the money to pay for his cheating!

    I’ve also gotten the “you should have tried harder” “divorce is never the answer” blah, blah, blah! If it’s so wrong for these people to use their morality to judge actions of betrayal, then also stop judging me for making choices for my own life!

    I have yet to figure out how to move past the anger of unicorn sympathizers siding with a guy who is a master manipulator! Granted many of them only know his side, since he ran out and made sure everyone got his version of events. Manipulators pray on sympathy and take on just enough blame to make them appear contrite … but those of us who have dealt with the patterned behavior know it’s all part of their game.

    Him: Poor me! My STBX went out and bought an expensive car after the divorce. She’s spending all our money. What shall I do? Sob, sob, feel sorry for me!

    Omission: She bought a new car because I cashed out $350,000 worth of stock to pay cash for the new house I just bought! Eh, never mind that was going to help support my wife and kids! It’s my money damn it and I’ll be damned if she gets a penny!

    Him: Yes, I made a huge mistake and hurt my wife deeply. She never recovered from it and wasn’t willing to make our marriage work. I never wanted this! I never meant to hurt her, and for that I am truely sorry! Sob!

    Omission: yes, I had an affair with a 21 year old stripper! My wife was devistated. It took her years of therapy to recover some sense of self-worth! I couldn’t have that though, so I went out and did it again and again and again! Can you believe she wanted me to stop cheating! Why won’t she work on letting me do whatever I want in this marriage!

    (I have 18 years of examples, alas I’m sure you all have your own).

    And the omission of facts goes on and on! Manipulators know how to manipulate and pray on the compassion of others! You can try and tell the truth (unless your ex slaps a gag order on you preventing you from telling the truth like mine did!) For some reason people can’t handle justified anger, they are more inclined to prefer giving sympathy to fake sorrow!

    • Got-a-brain, if you figure out how to get past people siding with the cheater, let me know your secret 😉 For some reason this is still painful – the way that people are snowed by the nice v. kind act, and are so quick to vilify me. I realize that says more about them than me, but that whole “two sides to every story” bullshit is a burr under my saddle. Especially when a couple of those people heard my side and still chose Viledemort’s side “because he seems so nice I just can’t see him doing that…” I value truth so this galls me. At this stage of the game I wish I could accept that some people prefer the easy spackle over the hard truth.

      • I’m still trying to figure it out! I’m inclined to believe that people put more value on what you can do for them vs. who you are! Those of us who don’t live our lives in compartments have a tough time swollowing that pill!

      • In the end, for me, the only coping mechanism I had left was to let them believe him and stick with him.

        I built a new life and found new people. It was hard, but it was also a relief to normalize my surroundings with people who weren’t digesting ugly and false stories about me, who could take me as who I really am.

        Side note: Yes, it’s amazing how omitting key facts can turn a mouse into an ogre in someone’s eyes. (My X published his BS stories about me in a public online journal. Yowch.)

        People believed him because they wanted to believe him. I was devastated, and he was still fun to be around. I was tucked in at home, bereft and broke, and he was spending the money he had squirreled out of our savings partying and showing off new women. He was fun to know. I was a burden to know.

        He was “finally free from the oppression” of the picture he had painted of me. I was finally free, too, but from things nobody wanted to hear about — exposure to STDs (though I would still have to undergo more testing to be sure), betrayal, massive money hemorrhaging, gaslighting, and his constant pity party.

        It’s no wonder they all chose him at the time. It’s my guess that they all know better now, since it only takes time for the leopard to show his spots. But it is too late. I wouldn’t be able to trust the people who believed him, anyway. Some of them had known me for ten years and they still believed that ugliness. (What is that quote about believing what I say and not what your own eyes tell you?)

        Sometimes moving on is all we have. It’s not for everyone, but it was, personally, my only path to sanity.

      • “If you figure out how to get past people siding with the cheater, let me know your secret… a couple of those people heard my side and still chose Viledemort’s side “because he seems so nice I just can’t see him doing that…”

        You know, trite as it sounds, I’ve had a lot of luck with just straight-out going “yes, s/he’s very good at seeming nice. I fell for it too. But, underneath it all, s/he’s not a good person, just good at seeming nice.”

        Because (and this goes for more than cheaters) “nice” and “but he just seems so…” are really the exact words people say. However, people do understand the concept of people who are nice on the surface but shitty underneath (even if they’re not so good at identifying them in real life) so just straight-up saying “yeah, you’re right, he does seem nice, but it’s an act” can be pretty effective.

    • Got-a-brain,
      I agree with everything you said. I feel this is my final hurdle – dealing with his lies of omission, the spin, the people who give sympathy to his fake sorrow. I get the rage going and it takes me a minute to calm it down (and I am 3 yrs post DDay, 1 yr post Wreckonciliation attempts and 6 months divorced). It’s a long haul for me. Amiisfree’s comment is good for me to read over and over again. Our stories are similar -X is more charming and fun, X got the story out first, and X is a master con artist so of course people believe him! Ammiisfree’s clear directive of move on, build a life, be happy is very very helpful to me. Moving on IS the path to happiness.
      It’s tough but I will persevere!

    • Got-a-brain, I’m always wondering about what omissions there might be. Of course it seems like everything is now out there, but if he was the type of person who could do this for so long, what else is he hiding? Even during the confession, there was more that trickled out later, and a second slip up (not more cheating, but undermining, secretive, selfish, unremorseful behavior). UGH. This is what I remember whenever there is a doubt that I should have tried to stick around to see if he can truly fix himself.

  • My mother did the same thing to me. She was divorced after 25 yrs of marraige and felt like she was the divorce expert. Her divorce did not include 2.5 yrs of cheating from her husband but she her advice was all all about staying married. She made comments like “This is the hardest thing to do in the world. Are you sure this is the right decisions? He is has so many good qualities.” I finally had to tell her the entire truth about him, she finally came to think it was the right decision for me. But I hated that I felt I had to justify my divorce with the one person that should have been on my side. Every conversation with her was a battle on WHY did I feel I needed to be divorced. It was exhausting and humiliating. It also altered my relationship with her, I do not feel the need to talk nor confide in her anymore.

    • Yes, exactly. It’s not that I don’t want her to have questions/thoughts/feelings of her own, but it’s my life, my problem…and she’s my mother! I feel like it would be better if you could just get the support up front, and when you’re able, hash out all of this stuff. But it’s such a shock, of course they want to play devil’s advocate in case you’re making a mistake. Like when I was a teenager, there were just times that I went to my dad instead to have these talks because he was much less picking and judgmental right up front.

  • I believe you are doing the right thing! I will tell you – my best friend was married to the same guy. She did not find out until ALL the money was gone.
    STD’s, financial ruin, disappointment in her spouse, broken heart and home and she took him back. Giant pre-nup. Years of IC for both of them. Watches that fucker like a hawk.
    They have small children and for many reasons she chose to stay.

    I don’t think she loves or respects him. She soldiers on and her kids are thriving. But at what cost?!?!?

    I would have supported her in any decision that she made. Her first marriage ended after he cheated and I loudly applauded when she kicked him out.

    I guess my point is ( by the way I left my cheating spouse ), that the people who love you should support your decision no matter what it is. You are the only person capable of knowing what is best for you. It is not up to them to tell you or bully you into a position that would make them more comfortable!!!!

    • Lucky, I am sorry to hear that your friend is putting herself through that. This is what I see in my STBX’s parents. FIL is an insensitive narcissist to the nth degree, and MIL is a passive agressive Stockholm syndrome case. What makes it worse is that STBX’s sister is chronically ill and has to live with the both of them (seemingly what made MIL decide to stay when they were all much younger). It’s probably part of what made me decide to just get out now. I do NOT want this happening to me. Even if STBX has been a good father (and hopefully continues to be) to our daughter, he was still a shitty husband to me. And I don’t have to put up with that.

  • ChumpOnIt–sometimes what people say has more to tell you about them than about the situation. While a parent under these circumstances might wish it had worked out without a divorce, her not supporting you after this betrayal is, frankly, cruel. And I suspect that she is the underlying reason why you normalized bad treatment in your marriage, in the same that many of us (me included) normalized poor treatment by my spouse.

    And “poor treatment” comes in many forms. Sounds like you had one of those “nice” cheaters (see last week’s “Nice vs. Kind” columns) who was adept at using the jolly-fellow, sad-sausage facade to win people over (including you) while giving NOTHING back in terms of emotional sustenance. YOU should not have to work hard at the marriage after he has screwed prostitutes. He should have pretzeled himself into a fabulous husband to make it up to you. And frankly, I don’t think that’s enough. He can’t unfuck those whores, and anyone who would cheat on their spouse, especially a pregnant spouse, is not relationship material.

    You have made a wise, painful decision and need all the support you can get. Don’t give your mother the power to deflate you. If you can’t stop talking to her entirely, make it much less frequent, and only discuss (a) your child’s artwork; (b) March Madness basketball predictions; and (c) the weather. She doesn’t get intimacy unless she is the rock beneath your feet rather than quicksand. Hugs!

    • “She doesn’t get intimacy unless she is the rock beneath your feet rather than quicksand.”

      I love this sentence, Tempest. It perfectly describes how I feel (not about my mom – she is a rock star), but about some friends and STBX’s family. The first sign that someone tries to minimalize the trauma I have been through and continue to suffer dealing with STBX, I shut a door emotionally to them. If they try to blame me in any way, the door is shut period. I have lost too many years of my life eating shit sandwiches. And I will continue to have to eat them because of the kids. So any that are not legally being forced on me aren’t going to be eaten.

    • That was beautifully stated, Tempest and this is a post I will keep in my notebook. I think for chumps it is very very hard to understand that our intimacy is a gift. It still sounds surprising to me!

      I feel that instead of my family, that was very supportive, sometimes I myself am the quicksand. No matter how mighty I may have been or felt there seems to be from times to times that tiny voice in my head second gessing myself. I am just starting to learn to deal with it, but it may take a lifetime…

      • (fixed the previous post being inserted)

        ChumpAsItIs–it’s natural to second guess yourself sometimes, especially early on in the proceedings. How far are you from d-day? divorce? The decision/set of decisions to extricate ourselves from toxic people runs counter to most of our life-long habits to preserve relationships, forgive people, put others’ needs before our own. It is a cataclysmic shift in our thinking, our behavior, and our lifestyle. Perfectly natural to have doubts or WTF moments! Don’t beat yourself up. Just keep walking…

        • Thanks for fixing my post and for your reply. I am one year from DD and 10 months of divorce. I do still have WTF moments definitely and it still aches when I think back of the life I thought I had. It is getting slowly better.

    • Thank you, Tempest. So well stated. I feel that all the bad stuff would have been normalized had a tried to stay. It tooks me months to come to this conclusion. I may have given my mom a little emotional whiplash when I first indicated that we would try to work it out and then decided that I could not. I am trying to be fair to her because she has done and continues to do so much for me. I would give her the benefit of the doubt over my STBX in a heartbeat. But this are great words of support…very helpful in trying to draw and keep my boundaries, regardless of who is (intentionally or unintentionally) cutting me down at any time.

      • ChumpOnIt — it speaks well of you that you’re so fair-minded about your mom. I’m sorry if my language was harsh — I’m sure your mom doesn’t suck in entirety — but on the issue of supporting you in this terrible time, I think she is failing you. It could be that she’s working through her own disbelief and grief, but IMO I think her concern for you should trump that (and whatever other feelings she has about Saving Marriages At All Cost).

        It’s always good to manage expectations. And fact is, for whatever reason, she can’t be there for you now. So best not to predicate your moving forward on how your mom takes it. Maybe many years from now, when you’ve got that hard-won new life, she’ll be proud of how you navigated this shit storm. I hope so.

        I simply wouldn’t discuss it with her. You don’t need her approval. It’s your life. You’re doing GREAT. Really, you’re showing all kinds of fortitude and grace under fire. I hope your mom comes around.

        • My MIL took her own daughter’s multiple cheating husband in when my SIL kicked him out. I thought that was the second most disloyal thing I had ever heard of. She was half in love with him herself. Although I no longer have SIL in my life (prior to her brother cheating on me I decided she was not worth having in my life – after 20 years of close friendship she flipped on me) I still feel this was a total mindfuck by her mother. Totally fell for his ‘nice.’ Hey, early 20s, I used to say, ” he’s a ‘nice’ guy, but fuck being married to him!” I agree with Tempest. Be the rock. Or do your thing and fuck the fuck off, quicksand!

          My own mother has been dead for 17 years. And I miss her terribly. I know she would have been the rock! I feel for all of you who don’t have that. My dad would be like that. Which is why I have never told him about my living situation or that my ex cheated. Sucks to be told you didn’t do enough. Or should have tried harder. Almost every person in my life has offered some version of that since D-day. Because he is so nice. And usually kind. Until he wasn’t! They don’t get it. And never will.

        • Chump Lady, it’s all good — I know you mean well. So you’re a little too “angry” for STBX, but that’s exactly why I like you…you’re the perfect amount of angry for me. 😉 While my mom might raise an eyebrow at the sucking comment (lol), I think it does come through that you are making thoughtful deductions about underlying issues (hey, you don’t know me IRL, so not too bad I’d say) and trying to get me to focus on plowing forward. I do have friends (some of whom have offered a punch on my behalf) in whom I can confide, and other positive outlets, such as the new job and my sweet little girl. I am hoping this will be a look-back-on-this-differently kind of thing with Mom and that things will improve, particularly as my parents move closer to my brother and I. Thank you for posting me and for giving me the opportunity to hear from all of the other chumps in CN. Keep on doing what you do!

  • Ditto to all of the above. I would have gotten an “I told you so” from my mother and never, ever been allowed to forget it. That I made a mistake. That I didn’t listen to her. Sometimes, God help me, I am glad that she has passed so I don’t get judged on every move I make, and be found wanting, every.single.day.

    My mother in law was another huge support(sarcasm intended). When told of her son’s “indiscretions” she looked at me and said that she understood the prostitutes- that was ok cause men will be men and that I hadn’t been a perfect wife either. But me and the kids still needed to respect him cause he was a good man.

    What I’m trying to say to you is this: you must block out the hurtful, invalidating comments coming your way. You must stop spackaling over the pain it causes you and focus on you and your daughter only. Nothing is going to make them understand or suddenly see your pain. You are on the path to even greater mightiness. Keep plugging, putting one foot in front of the other and live YOUR LIFE ON YOUR TERMS!

    Reading here and following some of the fantastic advice shared- will save your sanity.

    Your ex is trying to do image control by going to counseling. See how long he actually keeps it up. Not long, I guarantee you. He no longer deserves one ounce of your love, respect or forgiveness. And your daughter deserves to grow up a strong, independent woman without thinking that it’s ok to be cheated on or disrespected. You are showing her what that looks like. Prayers being sent your way.

    • SSH, so my MIL told my STBX when he broke the news: “oh well”…oh yes, and “did you get tested?” Not a peep to me, of course. His dad has yet to acknowledge that anything is happening. Fuck the normalization of “men being men”. It’s not about gender expectations/norms/allowances, it’s about being a decent goddamn human being. For his sake (and our daughter’s), I hope he continues trying to fix himself.

      • Yessss! Chumponit! I told my MIL. Someone I thought I was close to for 25 years. Probably, in retrospect I was hoping for some compassion and comfort? She stood there with her arms folded and said, “are the kids okay?” Then that was it. Nothing. Nada. No hug. No, “are YOU okay?” No sorry this has happened. No questioning of her son. And no fucking way is it about gender. It’seems about the promises you make one another and the unspoken commitment to honesty and kindness. Having just remembered how she took her cheating SIL in after her daughter kicked him out makes a bit of sense now. Ugh. Shitty people.

  • Chumponit.
    So impressed with how you are dealing with this. Please try and ignore your mother and her agenda.
    God knows why she says these things, off load on somebody else more realistic and sympathetic.
    My mother was not quite that bad, but she did say when my EX took my boys on holiday with the other woman, straight after bomb drop. “Well the boys will like staying in a nice hotel”.
    er, really really not the point.I was crushed at that stage. Nice.
    I realise now she is herself very narcissistic. She has big issues wrt putting other people first, yet I thought when a child she was a good mum.
    I now realise not really. Practically yes, but emotionally a very big gap. The only person she was really interested in was my father, as he spoilt her.
    I got away lightly, one sister who was very deaf she dealt with by ignoring it. It was very very odd. No way would I not notice I had a deaf child. That sister was labelled as ” shy” and ” not academic”.
    At the time, just our family!
    One thing that does now work with my mother is to challenge her head on when she comes out with her comments. So next time your mum says idiotic remarks, spell out what it feels like to be cheated on for 5 years and how you deserve better. You have a choice and you are choosing no more.
    They honestly have no awareness of feelings, so spell yours out.

    • I disagree with that. Spelling out your pain to someone that has already shown themselves lacking in understanding and empathy, is just banging your head against the wall. We tell newbies all the time that you cant reason with the disordered. Her mom sounds disordered to me. So, explaining, again, why she had to leave a cheater would be an act of futility. IMO.

      • Special snowflake
        I agree. Repeatedly having to spell out your feelings is futile and hurts you more. Probably more worthwhile is to use cool, bummer, wow responses suggested for dealing with teens and contact with cheating partners.
        Honestly if they never get it on their own they will not be getting it as you spell it out, they will just be agreeing not understanding. And it usually gives them fuel for hurting you later. If you don’t give them ammunition and you don’t show them your weak spots then they can’t shoot you like they would otherwise.
        One of my ‘engineering solutions’ to dealing with my mother was to put a big note on the phone warning me not to call my mother any time I felt low.

        • Cap, wish I had done that with my mom and his family! I was EXPECTED to call every.damn.day. And I did. I was a very obedient little widget. Took care of her till the bitter end. My brothers could do no wrong and me, no right. Was expected to take care of the men children she raised. Did/do that still. Just not so much. Took care of my twin as he was dying and my older brother has heart issues. So, I’m still the one called upon to take care of them.

          But, thank God, it appears that I’ve actually raised MEN. My two oldest are launched and doing well. The 3rd is well in his way.

          Tried so hard to not be my mom or my mother in law. Still struggling every day to be that stable, sane parent that doesn’t crush their confidence like the ex or my mom. And I’m finally seeing that I am winning and don’t have to take care of everybody, protect the image of the perfect family. Such a damned relief.

          • Just like to add, it took me finally leaving Stbx to realize that I put my life on hold for everyone else. Put aside MY dreams, aspirations, talents to be a “good ” wife, mother, daughter, sister. Everyone’s needs were more important than my own. Was conditioned for that my whole life. Guess I’m finally growing up and realizing that every life should have equal value, including my own.

            I’m glad that ChumpOnIt is seeing her worth now instead of waiting to her 50’s

    • Seriously, SSH, and Cap — it really does suck to have to essentially bang your head against a wall trying to get someone to hear you, particularly when that person should be the on person who backs you the hardest. Since talking with my mom in person, it seems that she is coming out of the shock and as I am persistently disclosing what is happening, she is starting to offer help and curb the hurtful remarks. You all have my thanks and support as well. You have all been through so much…more than what anyone should have to go through…and you’ve come out (or are in the process of coming out) on the other side. The fact that you are on here offering your experience and support is a testament to your strong character. Cheers!

  • It was very difficult for me to understand why women put up with the things they put up with when I was growing up. I figured out that I had family of origin issues when I finally had enough education to be able to connect a name for the problem with the problem. Even that information didn’t connect the dots for me, until several years of my life had passed, and until I had put up with things I should not have put up with. It is hard to be a woman, and realize that other people, even other women, see you as having no worth, no place of value in the world, simply because of your gender. It is probably hard for men to understand, because they have not personally experienced the dismissive attitude of others toward their problems. I have heard things like “that is woman’s lot” or “that is just the way it is” all my life. I imagine that my grandmother’s never considered they had any options, because neither had any education, ever worked a job outside of the home or had any money of their own, never even had a driver’s license, or were ever consulted on any decision with regard to the home or the family. They had no choice about when to serve a meal, or when to get up or go to sleep, or whether or not to have a child. Their husband’s never consulted them about what to plant in the garden, or even where they would work, and if a job meant the family had to move, it was up to the woman to pack up the household goods and the children and move wherever he had decided to go. I am not saying this way of life is easy for men, either — they had the responsibility for everything, and it must have been very lonely. But they did have value (above and beyond the value of a servant or a useful farm animal) and they did have a choice. Men had a sense of place in the social order, they could own property, they controlled the money, and they could vote. Women had a limited place — as long as they were useful to a man. It is not the same thing.

    I love my mother, and she certainly did not live her life according to the same restrictions that her mother did. But I recognized a long, long time ago that even though she escaped some of the physical limitations (she obtained a good education, she worked and earned her own money, she voted, she had a driver’s license, and she had the audacity to question some of my father’s decisions!) she never escaped the mental limitations that made her have less worth than a man. I have tried to talk to her about it, but it makes her extremely uncomfortable. She does not want to admit to having her actions controlled by the seemingly invisible threads of culture. But she still votes according to the political party her father deemed worthy, and she still expects men to run things. Even though she finally divorced my father after 40 years under his malignant thumb, she is still tethered to the cultural expectations she was raised with.

    I understand this, because it took me a long time to build up the courage to do the right thing for ME. I felt guilty, obligated, ashamed of my husband’s choices, responsible to clean up the messes, and uncertain of what the right choice of action was for me to take. I knew I could not count on my father for support or advice of any kind, and I could only count on my mother for nurturing types of support — she would see to it that my children and I would have a place to sleep and would not starve — but she thought that I should somehow magically figure out how to “fix’ my husband and protect my “marital status”. Becoming a relatively young divorcee and trying to raise children without a husband in the house was just not socially acceptable.

    Obviously, I did not know or understand my “lot”.

    But I regard myself as being lucky because I was raised in a time where I was expected to go to school. I was expected to earn a living. I was expected to drive, vote, and make independent life decisions. My culture may not have accepted my worth or value, but that attitude was slowly changing. A glacier may move faster than social attitudes towards the value of women — but my attitude was not as restricted as that of my grandmother’s, or even my mothers, and I feel fortunate.

    I am not defending the sucky attitude — I am just saying that it may come from a place of early and deep indoctrination, and Chumponit’s Mother may not have had some of the problems she has. If she did, she may have been expected to get over it — that it was her “lot” in life to put up with it. Her conscious brain may never have considered the options. Chumponit has chosen a different path than her mother chose, and in my opinion, Hallelujah!

    • Portia, will you please do an editorial for a major magazine or newspaper regarding the evolution of the human species? Darwin could not have explained the last 100 years better.

      Thank you.

      • There has been some excellent literature written by women (and a few men) who are much brighter than I am on this topic. I read some of it in graduate school, some recommended by a counselor, some from reading books on the popular market (and using these further, by checking the footnotes for resource materials in journals etc). Thanks for the encouragement, but my conclusions were formed by my independent reading. I am one of those souls who love libraries and bookstores. When my heart is breaking, or my soul reaches frustration overload — I self medicate by reading. Knowledge lowers my blood pressure, slows my breathing back to normal, distracts my nausea, and encourages me to analyze, dream and hope. I never found one person who was able to mentor me for (ALL) my personal problems. I was able to tap into many fine minds, and process the information into working conclusions on my own. This forum offers a tremendous amount of practical common sense application suggested by many of the theories I read. There are some voices on here that represent the very best of the Sages of the Chump People council! I am impressed every day, which is why I continue to follow Chump Lady. She offers a touchstone of support which helps me keep on track — and if I can contribute every now and then, I am happy to do so!

        • True, Portia. Everyone here does offer that touchstone of support and is the reason I continue to return to this site even after reaching the land of “meh”.

          Some responses resonate with me more than others, but even the others have given me many aha moments. Why, even a well placed four letter word can bring me up to the next level enlightenment.

        • Portia, that was so insightful, bravo! Thank you so much for sharing that. I do feel that so much of cheating (when men cheat on women, that is) is rooted in this idea that women have less value somehow. I have greatly resisted that idea, and am lucky to have a female therapist who shares that view, so I could explore how to embrace my value and not let myself be devalued by anyone, male or female. Things changed for women because a bunch of us (and supportive men) decided were ARE worth as much as men. And I honestly feel that the women’s revolution (which is just equality) is still being played out in our interpersonal relationships. And part of the way we all here at CN contribute to that is saying NO to UNEQUAL treatment. I really feel it’s a feminist issue. No, one’s gender does not entitle us to special privileges not afforded to the other.

          Again, thanks for the articulate and beautiful post.

    • Portia
      I always love your writing. This was great. I think that a lot of how people regard cheating now is a reflection of how little power women used to have (and still have in the courts etc).

    • Portia, this is very insightful and beautifully expressed. Totally agree that gender is still a great big obstacle. I see that even in HS. Boys can make out with a different girl every night, SnapChat shirtless beefcake pics of themselves to zillions of girls, treat every girl as a potential pathway to some sort of sexual encounter, and nobody makes a peep about it. But let an ordinary girl walk down the hall at school and say hi to a few boys along the way (while fending of the rude catcalls of countless others), and suddenly she’s a whore.

      Meanwhile, women do still struggle with a sexual economy that puts them in competition with one another. This can be a subconscious thing, but still very real. Even my best, most understanding friend sometimes lets the mask slip a bit after too much wine, and suggests that it is natural not only for men to seek out younger partners, but also for young women to want to snag older, accomplished, sugar daddies.

      As a culture, we sure do have a ways to go, still, when it comes to gender equality.

    • Portia, this is a very thoughtful look at the crap women have had to put up with for years. Earlier I wrote that there were generations of fairly happy marriages in my family. I have forgotten about my maternal grandfather’s father, who was (from my understanding) a myopic and hard man to my grandpa (a very happy and loving man) and his siblings, as well as my great grandma (who outlived her husband by years and years). There is a sad history of no choice, accepting one’s “lot”, and despite coming a long way, there is the residue of that attitude left over that still needs eradication. My mom is fortunate to have gotten her strength/gumption from both of her parents, so I am befuddled as to where this thinking comes from. I come from a Catholic family and it’s very much emphasized to make your marriage work. Still, in contradication to the person my mother is otherwise.

  • Amen Chump Lady. My mother also empathized with my ex instead of me. She told me it was “Unloving” to expect him to live up to my standards. No matter what I shared with her about his behaviors she made an excuse for him. I swear if I’d told her that he murdered someone she would’ve replied; “I can pay for your marriage counseling if you need help”. It really was an eyeopener. It revealed her beliefs about what women should tolerate from men. Beliefs she passed down to me. Beliefs I needed to change. Finding Chump Lady and reading a post she has about a similar situation opened my eyes. I stopped looking for validation from my Mother. I stopped sharing with her and faced the fear that she might abandon me if I divorced. I realized if she did I would be okay. I commend you ChumpOnIt, this stuff is hard and you’re doing great.

  • Chumponit, here’s one thing I know for sure: you “can’t make your mother see that what she’s saying is hurtful to [you].” You are assuming she “doesn’t see” what she is doing. But of course she does. She has a daughter with a 16-month old baby who is divorcing a man who cheats on her with prostitutes. And instead of supporting you unconditionally, she is judging you and undermining you. That is not an accident. And just as you couldn’t make your husband see that infidelity is wrong and horrifically painful and destroys the family, you won’t be able to make your mother see either.

    People either have empathy or they don’t. A few weeks after my father died, I visited her to attend the funeral of a classmate’s father. Afterward, I took my mother to lunch–where she informed me that my father had an affair with another of my classmates and they had a baby together. I couldn’t even speak. I had just buried my father. And here she was telling a monstrous lie. For certain, had there been such a baby, the mother would have filed for SS survivor’s benefits. Why would she do such a thing? Hurt me that way? The only conclusion is that it was about her, not my dad, and not me. Whatever she was feeling about my dad’s death, it made her feel better somehow to say that terrible thing to me.

    What you’re mother is doing is less obvious. But it’s clear she prefers that she values “marriage” more than your health and well being. She can hope that your STBX gets help and changes his ways, because he will always be your daughter’s father. But there’s something wrong with her that she isn’t being KIND to you. That she isn’t turning the world inside out to be your champion and supporter. It’s possible to know that your STBX had a rough childhood while also understanding that his behavior is dangerous to you and breaks every hope, every vow you had when you married. A screwed up childhood is not an excuse for robbing a bank, stealing a car, assaulting someone, or cheating with prostitutes.

    This situation with your mother is both painful and an opportunity. We always want unconditional love from our mothers. And when things get tough, we expect them to have our back. You have an opportunity to learn how to draw boundaries with her, both directly and in your own mind. First, you need to understand that whatever support she does provide comes with a big price tag. So I would suggest, as others did, that you stop sharing your little victories or your struggles or your worries. Find a true support in a friend, a counselor, a sibling, a cousin–whoever. That change starts within you, as you recognize the unhealthy dynamic with your mother (and perhaps both parents). And if she asks, say, “I can’t talk about this with you because you make comments that crush me.” I’m serious. Say it. And then change the subject. “But let’s talk about what color to paint DD’s new room.”

    You point out that STBX has a passive-aggressive mother, but you do, too. It’s tough to learn that when you need people the most, they bring out their agenda instead of that threaded pipe. You are mighty and I’m sorry that your mother is an enabler and trying to get you to sign on for that too.

      • Loved
        Wow. Wish I wrote like that on a bad morning! Brilliant.

        One thing I have recently learned is that first you can have an abusive childhood; that this can make your own children’s childhood a bit of a minefield to negotiate because it is often at that point you realise that a). your own childhood WAS abusive and b). you own ability to parent well is trickier and c). your parents, now grandparents can hurt both you and your children in another round of abuse.

        And now I am learning that my childhood abuse, probably led to me being vulnerable to the kind of person that would exploit me in some way in a marriage.

        And now I look at the boys and wonder if my parenting has been or is going to be enough to protect them from similar outcomes.

        ChumpOnIt you have done so much already. Maybe time to sit down and consider the dynamics around your families and their effect on your daughter.

        • LAJ, et al. — I am preparing to have to redirect when her emotion surrounding this becomes too much for me/doesn’t mesh with how I’m dealing with this situation. It still sucks. I think I get the lack of a filter when emotional from her…and I think that’s what this is. I reiterate what has happened in these terms — that a bad childhood is pitiable, but not an excuse for bad behavior — and it sticks eventually. My mom might be a little passive agressive (something about the propriety/calmness of it…versus my out and out agressive agressive under duress, ha), but she will at least stick around to have the conversation out. STBX’s mom would not hear what you said or just hang up the phone. >_<

        • Capricorn, I agree with every word (other than the “brilliant” part). I’ve done a lot of work to transcend the dynamic set up by my parents–in therapy, in reading about addiction and family systems, in being part of of this community. So I’ve thought about what it means to have a narcissistic or passive-aggressive or alcoholic parent or two parents who hated each other like rabid dogs but would not have gotten divorced, ever.

  • COI,

    My cheater ex also had a very bad life growing up. His mother, who was custodial parent, was awful, flat out mean, and she was also a world-class cheater. I absolutely understand how his young life contributed to his path to becoming a charming, self-serving, deceptive, unempathetic, gaslighting, cheap-sex-driven, unremorseful, underage/innocent/vulnerable-person-exploiting charlatan. I do feel sorry for him, and for every person who ends up in his wake of soul-destruction.

    I don’t have children with him (thank God), and I can’t know what that is like. I can guess, though, that part of you may need to figure out some reasons to not hate your STBX because he is your child’s other parent. I don’t know whether that’s really how you feel — it’s just my guess.

    The tough line a person in your position has to ride is how to stay sane when your child’s father is a bona fide problem. He is dishonest and unreliable. He will parent that way. He is both charming and highly skilled at feeling sorry for himself and garnering others’ pity to gain compassion. He will parent that way, too.

    I think you may need a professional’s help to navigate this over the years, if you can somehow afford it as a single mom. Until then, I would just say, consider practicing the facts-only narrative folks are suggesting above. Thoughts to consider:

    – He said he would be faithful and he was extremely unfaithful. That was a deal breaker for me. It’s not negotiable.

    – If he wants multiple partners, he is an adult and he can choose that, but it doesn’t work for me, so I had to leave the marriage.

    – I don’t do polyamory and I don’t do deception.

    – He has an honesty problem. It’s hurtful, yes, but it isn’t anyone’s fault but his own. The only way to have him in your life is to accept that he will lie to you and make sure you don’t count on him for things you need.

    – It is true that his life is hard, but his life will be hard whether I help him or not. His approach to life makes things hard for him and I can’t change that. It’s sad, I know, but the best thing I can do is take care of me and let him see his own way through.

    These may not exactly fit your situation, but you get the idea. If he isn’t able to be your partner (which had already happened long before the divorce, and really seems it was never really fully true to begin with), then he doesn’t get to have you as a partner. That’s the deal. His stuff is not your stuff. He doesn’t own you and you don’t owe him anything.

    You don’t need to be there to bail him out so he can save face with anyone, even the child you share. He is responsible for himself and you are responsible for things that are in your own sphere of control, and that’s it.

    Lots of people have bad childhoods and still grow into people who can be honest and kind and faithful (raises hand with so many other chumps, you included). His childhood isn’t what creates his reality. His choices do that. Your child will have to live with that.

    Your solid foundation and refusal to be dishonest to save face for him, while simultaneously refusing to be openly negative for the sake of it, will be solid boundary-setting behavior modeling for this beautiful child. You are rescuing your child from a life of mental torture. My hat goes off to you!

    Now enjoy the CRAP out of setting up that new apartment (probably through some tears) and know we all support you very much. You are amazing!

    • Ami, thank you! I will enjoy the crap out of *MY* apartment (it will feel so good to get out of this house…but yes, so bittersweet after putting so much effort into making it a home…just glad I will not be there for the closing). You are so right — my grandpa had a tough time with his father as a kid and he turned out to be a lovely man. I am trying to see this relationship going forward as a business thing…the business being to successfully raise our daughter. I am hoping he does truly feel for her what I have observed and continues to be a good dad and reasonable person when it comes to managing this. This is so much more than I signed up for — and he negated our marriage pretty quickly anyway. I can only work on me right now, and he can only (hopefully) work on himself. It has to be done separately. I could feel myself getting angrier and and angrier the more I tried to deny the reality of what had transpired.

  • I still think you can speak up to an extent.
    simply ” the decision has been made, and it is not yours to take”.
    If your mother is in your life, and you want her to have a relationship with her grandchild, you can say on what terms you are prepared to accept her.
    I do stand up to mine now much more and she has backed off considerably.
    She got older, and I got better at standing up for myself. She has not changed that much but she has learnt that if she starts down certain avenues I will just leave.

    • This is strong.

      When I was in my late 20s I was complaining to a friend that my parents still treated me like a child. She said “Well, you still act like a child around them.” She pointed out that I still worried what they thought and sought their approval, still bent over backwards to do things to please them, etc.

      That was a real kick in the cajones… And she was spot on.

      The more I behaved as though I was simply an adult who is responsible for myself and wasn’t asking for permission, the more they treated me like a self-actualized adult. If they offered advice, I politely thanked them and said I would consider it, and their advice gradually shifted from managerial to informational. It was kind of awesome, actually.

  • ChumpOnIt, you are so strong and capable of seeing what is needed and getting it done. I am so proud of you. Just amazing. You figured out the truth about what you could expect from your STBX, determined (correctly) that it was unacceptable, and you didn’t waste any more time trying to wish the problem away. Now you need to do the exact same thing with your parents. Acknowledge what you can and cannot expect from them in terms of authentic love and support and then position them appropriately in your life. They are clearly not capable of emotional empathy for you, so accept that painful truth and find your support elsewhere. Can they provide more practical assistance like babysitting, maintaining family holiday traditions for your child, or some weekend home repair help? Great! Accept that help with gratitude. We cannot divorce our families so we just have to meet them in that area of common ground. And yes, sometimes there is sadly no common ground which means walk away completely. You and your precious child are now your family … cherish and nurture your own family before all else.

    And regarding CL’s description of how a loving parent reacts when someone intentionally hurts their child … spot on. I would be calling up Dubious to borrow that elephant gun if ChumpOnIt was my daughter …

  • I haven’t posted in a while, but the mother issue struck a cord with me. Having grown up with a mother who has a personality disorder and who cared more about herself than me, I can tell you that your mother doesn’t care. Bottom line. She doesn’t care how the cheating affected you and she doesn’t care how your husband hurt you. It took me years of therapy to understand why these people say such dismissive and non-caring comments. It’s because they don’t want to deal with YOUR issues.

    Chances are your mother wants you to stay with your cheating husband, minimizing your hurt and pain, so *she* won’t have to deal with the consequences of your divorce, and the mess that comes with it. She prefers the status quo, because it is more convenient for HER. It’s a very selfish thing to do, but that’s the reality. And you may think by her actions and comments she cares, but she really doesn’t.

    My parents incessantly told me that no one would ever love me as much as they did, all the while they harmed me continuously and incessantly, caused me excruciating pain and sorrow. I finally realized they told me what I wanted to hear and it took me years to figure out none of it was true and it was all self-serving. So mothers or fathers do not always know best, and some are actually evil. The best thing is to protect yourself from such people who cause you more harm than any good. Hugs to you.

    • Not wanting to have to deal with it, for sure. Of course, my response to that is “do you think *I* want to deal with it??” Hugs, Kellia.

  • May my father rest in peace my Mom thank God is still with me……….my parents would have thrown him out on his ass, my father probably would have busted his face….we’re Italian…my parents would have been livid if that ever happened to me………you’re mother sorry as I know she’s still your’re Mom I really hope she’s not one of those people whose concerned about what people think…you know the people who don’t really give a shit but some fools do anything and everything for the facade….how it
    “looks” to people………….BS…………you’re mother should want to punch him in the face loser piece of shit………..I hit a guy I once went out with when I told him tell me the truth on who that girl was at the bas hed didn’t ………….I hit him……..u lie in my face you get a punch in the face and thrown away that simple……….let alone married ……….ohhh …………I’d beat him senseless then lawyer up and really beat him in the ……..POCKET….THAT’S THE BEST PUNCH YOU CAN GIVE

  • ChumpOnIt,
    Your letter made me weep. Because you are so strong and so amazing. You got a job, and daycare, and apartment and listed the house? OMFG. I had to do all those things too and they were HARD. I know.

    I’m so proud of you and I’m sorry your mom sucks. Mine sucks too. She married her sweetheart from age 13 and they are still together in their 70’s. She has no idea of the pain. Also, I want to echo what Capricorn said, not all moms are “good”. I think mine is taking some kind of sick pleasure in my suffering because she was always jealous of my relationship with my Dad. So, please do as Tracy says, dont look to her for support. She’s just not capable of providing it.

    I’m super proud of you. Go rock your new job. BTW, when I moved into my own apartment, I felt much better and I really enjoyed going to wokr each day knowing I’d come home to a nice calm house, my sweet boy and a nice dinner that I’d made. With no drama, no waiting up for hours for my drunk cheating spouse. Living alone was really great. Then i met someone super after half a year or so, and I could not have done that if I’d stayed in the house with FuckWit. We ar STILL married after more than a year of this B.S.

    So, go rock your new job and your new place. Get some cute throw pillows. leave your underwear on the bedroom floor.

    You’ve got this.

    P.S. when its all over, your mom will probably say “oh, I never liked him and didn’t see why you married him”. That’s what MINE is doing now. Little too late, mom. UGH!

    • Chumpy, <3 I am looking forward to those moments alone (and throw pillows and underwear on the floor, haha). We're "civil" and so are still both in the house as we wait for it to sell (I am bailing a few weeks before to make the commute and life more bearable). I am sorry your mom came around so late, but better than never…? Of course you needed her *then*, so yeah, ugh. I guess we can still be mighty — mom or no mom. :-/

  • All I have to say is DAMN ChumpOnit, you freaking rock!! You should be sooo proud of yourself and your mightiness.

  • I was/am invalidated by my mother. Since I was a tiny child. Everything was my fault. Unless it was an award, in which case it was because she was a great mom. It’s no wonder I married someone who also invalidated and projected on me. I sought out what I was used to, even though I met my wh at 18 and was ready to start my adult life with the relationships I felt had been denied to me.

    Since he was raised by a narc, with covert incest and all kinds of mess, he was never held accountable for anything. Project on others and bask in the glory of being faultless. Arrogant and mean in a very charming handsome package.

    I’ve mourned the mother daughter relationship I was denied – I can’t even imagine grabbing a coffee with her, it’s so loaded with pain.

    Bottom line? We chumps are the strongest. It’s why we allow it. We know that by being a chump we are protecting our marriages, our children’s futures, the fragile egos of our loved ones. We put others’ needs first because we know they need us. And rather than deal with their failures, those loved ones watch, entertained and satisfied, as we flail and fail, trying to triage everything we are blasted with. They get their emotional jollies by watching us get emotional and then claiming we are weak for having emotions. “Oh chump! You’re so sensitive! So dramatic! That never happened! I never said that hahahah! I’m sorry that you misunderstood, you stupid spoiled princess!” They are vampires, taking from us what they are too cowardly to deal with themselves.

    It has consistently happened to me my whole life, I’ve always invited that treatment in. I carry everyone’s baggage for them, those weak mean dumpers. And I still feel guilt about my extreme dislike for the people who treat me that way. I’m almost 50 and it still breaks me down into tears. But at least my eyes are open now to what manipulation looks like.

    They should teach this basic shit in high school. It would be so helpful. I’m the mom who sits all the teens around the table, mine and others, to explain mind fuckery and how to walk the fuck away. May it stop with me.

    • Nic.
      Great post. Yes. Hope it stops with us and yes they should teach much more relational stuff in schools – all schools from primary. Never to soon to learn about boundaries and balances relationships.

      A minor quibble with,

      “We chumps are the strongest. It’s why we allow it. We know that by being a chump we are protecting our marriages, our children’s futures, the fragile egos of our loved ones. We put others’ needs first because we know they need us.”

      We don’t ‘allow’ it. Often we don’t know it. We don’t realise our partner is not in it like we are. As soon as I knew I was a chump I filed for divorce.
      I had no clue he was so weak, so callous, so shallow. I wasn’t behaving as I did to protect anything I was just being a good wife and mother. We put others needs before ours because that’s what we knew, we are organised, loving, generous and fully in. When we realise we are chumps – we leave. IMO

      • I see your point. I guess I said allow because of the hindsight. Ignoring the red flags, the chest tightness, feeling confused or sobbing after gaslight interacting. I didn’t shit that shit down – in hindsight.

        • Nic
          I just don’t think you should blame yourself for not shutting it down sooner. They are masters at the game and we didn’t know we were at risk, or that there was a game. It sounds like you have had a hard childhood followed by marriage to a narcissist. That’s a lot to deal with.
          Not having supportive parents cripples you from the get go.
          But as you say now you know different. You know to value yourself. You know how to be kind to yourself and that guilt you speak of you just can just let that go, it is not your guilt to carry.
          Huge hugs to you for helping the next generation be more aware. ❤

    • Oh the invalidation! Just now discovering this stuff about my parents, all the gaslighting (you had such a happy childhood) lined up against reality (I contemplated suicide in the third grade) and the blame shifting (what did you do to make your sister break your arm) and the back handed insults (but you have such a pretty face). It was all training for the future abuse.

  • I think there is one more option here as to why mom sucks. SHE stayed with a known cheater. Seeing a daughter be mighty has got to be hard.

  • ChumpOnIt,

    I’m gonna throw some thoughts out there. I may be totally off on these. I’ll start with the easy one.

    1) Most of the people here go through a phase where they move to completely hating their X/STBX (henceforth just X, for brevity). Given what the X put them through, that’s justified, and if it’s a key part of their process, so be it.

    But that notion ignores one key fact. Most Xs have some redeeming qualities. If they didn’t, one wouldn’t have gotten into a relationship with them in the first place. And if the X cheated (as most of the people here have experienced), then the X was able to convince a second person to hook up with them.

    Now, to be very clear, I’m not excusing cheating, and I’m not advocating reconciliation. I’m just saying that a person can have some good qualities, and still cheat on their marriage. If one decides (as many here have) that cheating is a deal breaker, that’s fine.

    The process of getting over an X seems to go from love (before betrayal/DDay) to hate, to indifference (meh!). The last step involves letting go of the hate, and recognizing that one did get some good things from the relationship (possibly: wonderful children, fond memories, new friends and experiences, and some feelings of loving and being loved [even if reduced by later betrayal], and so forth.)

    Anyway, my point is that your STBX may have some wonderful qualities, but you’ve decided that 5 years of cavorting with hookers outweighs those wonderful qualities, and you’re moving on. Good for you for being true to your values, despite the hardships that it entails for you and your daughter. But you can still enjoy the fond memories and the child he gave you, while knowing that it can’t last because of his habit of buying sex. If you can explain it to your mother like this, perhaps she’ll be more sympathetic to your situation.

    2) This one is a lot harder, and I may be totally wrong on this. Given how your mother reacted to your letting her know about your STBX’s infidelity, it is possible that her ‘I guess’ and ‘if that’s how you see it’ comments are saying that she would have made a different choice in your situation. Which makes me wonder if she has been in that situation, and made a different choice than you did. It it possible that your dad strayed, and she brushed it under the rug to save the marriage, and keep the family together for you and your siblings (if any)? If so, one can understand how your decision to divorce your cheater calls her choice into question, and also opens up old wounds that she has spent decades spackling over. I don’t have any skeletons in my closet, but if I did, I could imagine that the situation replaying itself for my daughter would maybe freak me out enough that I couldn’t be there fully to support her.

    Again, I may be completely off base on this. Maybe your parents never had any problems like this at all. Maybe your mom is a product of an older age, that whole “for better or worse” crowd, and she thinks you should suck it up for the kid and stay with your cheater. But in any event, I would suggest that you sit down with your mom and have a heart to heart, letting her know why you’re doing what you’re doing, and letting her know that you could really use her support, even if she doesn’t agree with your choices. She might tell you about her struggles, and you could reconnect, or she might show you, beyond any doubt, that she can’t be a source of support for you right now. And in your situation, the last thing you need is to have to support her as she revisits the possible memories of your father straying on her.

    Another point is that, if your X gets help, realizes how he is broken, apologizes to you (really apologizes, not just lip service), and truly fixes himself, you have the option of taking him back and remarrying. It’s up to you, and I’d be very cautious and careful, but remember that divorce is just as permanent as marriage. Maybe telling your mother this could ease her possible projected guilt about your divorce.\\

    Finally, about X’s having a difficult background. In many cases, people who exhibit horrific behavior have had horrific backgrounds. But there are also lots of people who have had horrific backgrounds who do not exhibit horrific behavior, and many who are the antithesis of the horrors they lived through. In the end, we each choose our own path, and are responsible for our own actions. If your STBX truly wants to change, and truly wants to be better, he can do that. It seems pretty clear that you feel he needs to do that as a single man.

    And as CL said, you’re doing an awesome job of taking a crappy situation, grabbing it by the soft bits and whipping it into submission to your will. Kudos on the apartment, job, and daycare. On the scale of how bad some people here have it, you’re doing very well. And that’s because you’re doing an amazing job. Go you!

    Hugs. Peace.
    aeronaut

    • Thank you, Aeronaut. Yes, the good qualities were the reason I tried to stay originally, but the bad things he had done (and the duration!) eventually outweighed it all for me. I appreciate your analysis, but it made me LOL about my dad cheating (if you met my dad, you would understand). Mom is old school, for better or for worse, hands down.

      • Well, glad to hear that, I suppose that’s one less issue to muddle up things. And it also sounds like you grew up in a solid household, so I’m happy for you for that. Glad to be totally wrong with that idea.

        Maybe try telling your mom that you want your daughter to grow up in a house like the one you grew up in, and not one where dad visits prostitutes and mom brushes it under the rug. I’m sure she can find something in that statement to buy into.

        Now, be patient, recover, and go out and find someone with similar good qualities to your X, but who thinks that paying hookers for extramarital sex is a horrible thing to do. I’ll bet that you will, eventually.

        Good luck. Hugs. Peace.
        aeronaut

  • #7: Your Mom might be unhappy in her own marriage or in her own life and is jealous or resentful of your ability to move on. Maybe your Dad cheated on her in the past and she sucked it up, so the fact that cheating was a dealbreaker for you feels like a judgement against her own bad choices.

  • I am 59, and about 25 years ago, my best friend discovered her travelling salesman husband (and father of her two infant children) was fucking prostitutes, frequenting strip clubs, was a hopeless alcoholic, and had taken out a second mortgage on the house to try to pay of thousands in credit card debt. She only clued in when she found a receipt for $2500 from a strip club on the floor of the garage!

    She came to me at a loss as to how to cope. I was a young investment manager at the time, and I convinced her to line up her financial ducks asap. We cut off the credit cards, closed joint accounts, and did everything we could to stop the money hemorrage. She managed to secure some cash from that to carry on. The divorce meant selling the house, moving to a dump, and basically starting again.

    When she finally served the divorce papers, cheater husband came to her house, raped her, and broke her arm. I got a call from the hospital to come and get her kids. He was arrested, but HER parents posted bail!

    Now this is the horrendous part — her own mother, who was a wealthy, blue-haired old-school pompous poopie-head, refused to comfort her, support her, or in any way allow the family to back her. AND, Mommy Dearest actually served as a character witness for cheater husband! My friend was cast as the black sheep, and her (not) loving siblings cast her aside.

    The only person who saw through it all was my friend’s Dad, bless him. He was like a rock. Together, he and I set out a financial plan for her (she was a teacher) to pay down her mortgage (took her 25 years but she is free now). Her Dad is now gone, the old Mother is a vegetable in a nursing home, and my friend still visits her and STILL gets told she is a failure for getting a divorce.

    At long last, we can sit together and laugh at the irony of it all. Drunkie ex cheater is still alive, despite three major drunk driving crashes over the years. AND he received support from her all these years because he was an”emotionally disabled” alcoholic. He even kept getting payments when he was in prison for criminal drunk driving.

    My friend still says that I saved her from despair. I can say that although I do visit her Mom now that she is demented, I can only pity the old woman for being so shallow and sociopathic to care more about her family ‘reputation’ than her own daughter.

    • Marci–that is haunting. Sometimes it doesn’t take a village, it just takes one (or two) friends to keep a person sane in the midst of trauma. So relieved your friend had you and her father.

        • I’m happy to say that friend is now living a good life, and she raised two great kids who are productive members of society. They have no contact with their father, and are keenly aware of the possibility of their addiction genes.

          She has developed MS, but continues to work, and was able to travel to Europe last summer to visit with me. We just chatted on skype a few minutes ago!

    • Holy shit, Marci…your friend went through so much. It’s appalling that her mother could not only not support her, but supported her bastard ex. Thank god she had her father and is currently out from under that hell. And that she has friends like you, of course. I can’t imagine how excruciating it is to see your friend go through what she did. You are both strong women. Hugs

  • Dear ChumpLady, I love you more today than I ever have. Thank you for this column.

    Dear ChumpOnIt, You are amazing! I am in awe of all you have accomplished! Keep being mighty, for you and your daughter.

    It wasn’t my first thought but after the divorce and kicking Narkles the Clown out of the house and getting my son into a new routine one questioned nagged at me, how did I put up with being treated like crap for so long? I found a good therapist, to rebuild me, not to discuss my cheater, and she helped me answer that question.

    I won’t list the stuff she has done throughout my life, not enough lines here. My mother is the child of a huge narc and copes by only seeing the good things in any situation. Her response to my pain was to tell me stories about someone else she knew had it worse, or if I asked for help she would scream “well I don’t know, I never had to get divorced.” I learned she seriously just can’t handle when something that bad happens. She is not capable.

    After realizing that she can’t help me, she just doesn’t have the skill set, I learned to let that part of her go. When she asks about my day and it’s been shitty I just say “you don’t want to know” or “you can’t handle it lets talk about something else.” It doesn’t feel good to do but I know I can’t rely on her for support – so I don’t. I come here where people understand.

    Part of me is sad that she can’t be supportive. I decided not to let her meet my boyfriend. I no longer discuss anything emotional with her. I invest my emotional stability in places where it will be tended to with live, respect and appropriate emotional back up, like a good friend who wants to kill my x.its hard as hell but I can see clearly now and I no longer run my brain in circles trying to figure out what is wrong with me since my own mother can’t be on my side. I’m here if you need me. Comment below.

    • AllOutOfKibble, I am getting a bit of this right now. I am hoping it subsides. I know that management will have to be involved if it does continue, which, as you noted, does not feel good to have to do with your own mother. Thank you for reaching out. It sounds like you are in a good place otherwise. I am hoping to get there in time.

  • There’s an old saying that you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. Not entirely true; as an adult you can pick who among your family you hold dear.

    Not everyone is blessed with good parents. I had a good one, and a bad one. My mother was competitive with her children. I mean, what kind of Mom snaps on the lights and gets her kids out of bed at 2 a.m. to clean their rooms during Final Exam Week? And there was no using that as an excuse for poor performance; she would deny it ever happened. She was a teacher at our school. When we did well in spite of her shenanigans, she proudly claimed the credit as her due.

    Dad, on the other hand, would take a bullet for any one of us (unless Mom was the shooter).

    Knowing this, I did not ask my mother for support during my divorce. Dad was my rock. He’s the one who gave me a copy of In Sheep’s Clothing. He slept on the bench at the jail after the ex demanded my arrest for a nonexistent assault. He helped me clean out the new locks when the ex filled them with dirt and twigs so I could not get into the house I’d finally locked ex out of. He lent me money to survive during the early days of the divorce after ex’s harassment cost me my job. When Dad was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer years later, my siblings and I looked after him for some hard years, and he was surrounded by family when he passed.

    When Mom surfaced to say how sad she was about our poor relationship (I looked for an apology, but nope) and ask for help with her current husband’s Alzheimer’s issues, I did not respond. When she had a stroke, I did not visit her in the hospital, and I was not there when she died. No one was.

    The point here is that there are relationships that nurture you and those that most certainly do not. As some would point out, we reap what we sow. If a person cannot embrace your pain, you should not ask them to do that because it will lead to disappointment. My parents were at far ends of the spectrum of the ability to love. Some people may be at different points along the spectrum of ability to understand others’ experiences or empathize with them. Some may be givers, some just takers. Knowing what you have in front of you will lead you to those who will open their hearts and arms to you.

    Sometimes I think that as hideous an experience as divorcing a disordered philandering jerk can be, it does allow that we can reclaim our original self and process several cubic feet of mental horseshit into a kernel of wisdom that will serve us well in the future.

    Love to you all.

    • Survivor, I am sorry you had such an opposing force in your life, but your dad sounds like an amazing man. My mom isn’t necessarily the polar opposite of my dad, but he’s definitely the “softer” parent. Mom will take longer to come around. I like the mental image of condensing all of this horseshit into a kernel of wisdom. Much easier to store. 🙂

  • I had a very supportive mother. The rest of society, including a few of my sisters, had their own opinion. Chumplady was the ONLY place I found like-minds three years ago and she had been around for how many years, five, six? Most, if not all, religions, websites and books prior to the internet pointed to reconciliation with a fuckwit. Although, divorce abounded, the stigma continued.

    How many here thought long and hard and STAYED with the partner because of the abject fear of being alone, raising the children alone, failure of your marriage and choice of spouse, financial stress, housing and “what will the neighbors think?” Plenty of women and men choose and chose to remain in rotten relationships until the end of their lives because it is preferred to going through the incredible pain of starting a new life you NEVER dreamed would happen–to you. Is it possible “mom” runs with this crowd?

    I never saw a book that said, “Leave the mother fucker.” There are shelves for co-dependency, physically abusive, addiction, make him/her want you, how to make a better marriage etc…etc. Not one, “You are with a cheating, selfish, pathological, lying sack of shit get the FUCK OUT and don’t worry you WILL gain a life”.

    Either this mother IS a lousy definition of the word OR she is as ignorant of the soul ripping pain of making the choice to leave a cheater, gain a life as damn near every person I meet with the exception of those on this site. School her. If she brings it up again, school her…again. No one can read your mind. No one should have to read your mind. Not even your mother.

    I find that the people I school who don’t want the education, stop coming around. Problem solved. Others learn and I am damn lucky to have them at my side.

    I may be giving the mother the benefit of the doubt, but even I need that from others from time to time. I thank my teachers.

    • Calamity, I expect most chumps do their best for as long as they can because of the reasons you give. But when the only option left is to Head to the Tall Timber, a lot of those around them are not yet aware of the circumstances and wonder if it’s a rash decision. Chumps tend to preserve the normal long into the time they should be cluing in friends and lining up ducks. Sometimes, the only folks they turn to for support is CN.

      I’ll admit I stayed too long.

      • I hear you, Survivor. You are not alone in the “staying too long”. I personally wasn’t ready until I was.

        • No one can tell you before you are ready, even if they did. Climbing out of a bad place takes time to understand. My sister was all ready to get me out before I was ready to go. We are close now, but at the time she didn’t understand for a moment why I wouldn’t just Run.

          • Yes. Absolutely. Staying was far and away my biggest mistake, and that’s painful to contemplate as I look back at all of the clear indicators that he could never be a true partner.

            He was my only family. Did not know how to get out, particularly while he was still lying.

            As horrid as it was, dday saved my life.

            • DD saved my life, too, chumpionsahm. Believe it or not, as horrid as it sounds, I am forever grateful to the other women who showed me, without a doubt, the selfish emotionally abusive fuck I was with.

    • CJ, my mom would definitely prefer it if I were spared the pain I’m going through, but the pain will continue in the long term if I don’t rip off the bandage now. Thank you for giving her the benefit of the doubt. She is a good person, just struggling.

      • Keep up the good work, ChumpOnIt! It takes true grit to do what you did. If you can’t get support right now from your family, you have a entire nation willing to give it.

  • Have not spoken to my mother in 20 years. About her, meh has long since been achieved, but it was not painless.

  • I can only imagine how draining it must be to deal with this on top of everything else. Would it help if you whispered ” Chump Nation thinks I’m awesome?” to yourself every time you have to speak to her?
    Chump Nation thinks you are awesome
    Chump Nation thinks you are awesome
    Chump nation thinks you are awesome
    My mother was too old and tired to be much practical help when Ddays came around, but i never had to doubt that she loved me. And whenever thoughts of trying another wreckonciliation crossed my mind I thought of having to explain it to my sisters, and what their faces would look like, and it kept me on path. If they wouldn’t accept it for me maybe I shouldn’t either.
    Chump Nation thinks you are mighty.

  • My father’s reaction to my divorce was snake was what I needed to further distance myself from him. He basically said I was overreacting and attempted to use my situation to rewrite history where my mother is concerned, after she’d passed away and therefore couldn’t defend herself anymore.

    Yeah, no…. He wasn’t going to gaslight me too.

    Periodically I see him bullying another sibling or family member on Facebook and I am grateful I’ve unfriended him so I don’t have to deal with his passive-aggressive mindfuck anymore. It’s nice.

  • Chumponit-

    I’m positive if we all looked “Mighty” up in the dictionary, your picture would be there! I am in awe of what you’ve done in such a short time. You are decisive and you know your worth!

    I’m so sorry that your mom isn’t supportive at a time when you need it most. Part of it could be that this whole world seems to be full of people who still believe that reconciliation is the way to go. Other than Chump Lady, I have yet to find a book about cheating that recommends leaving.

    The other part could be that she dealt with that in her own marriage and your choice makes her question what she did. Or maybe she just doesn’t understand what a gut wrenching experience this is. Before it happened to me, I believed all the stupid cliches nor did I have any comprehension of the pain involved.

    It may be best to just not discuss this topic with her if that’s the way she responds. You knew what your boundaries were and you made a choice based on that. It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks (including family) because aren’t living in your reality.

    • Cheaterssuck, I definitely called her out on not understanding what it’s like to be in this situation. She and my dad have a true friendship of a marriage. I am certainly more reserved about bringing things up, which is hard when I want to share with her the good things that are coming out of this, as I’m sure she could use the good news just as much as I could.

  • It is not an understatement to say that when I read this, I got goose bumps. You are more than mighty, you are beyond brave, you are what every one of us, at some time, aspired to be. You found out what you didn’t want to know, you acknowledged the truth, and you made a decision based on that truth. There was not an excuse, not one I can’t, not a maybe he was sorry. I don’t know this man, yet I am damn sure that he IS sorry……sorry that he got caught. A mistake is not five years of deceit and lies. At a minimum, he is a liar, a coward, and more than likely, a sociopath. I feel for you that your mother does not acknowledge the damage to your heart, to your life, to your child. But no matter, you are amazing. Stay the course, know that what you did was indeed the correct decision, and don’t allow yourself to accept less than what you deserve… NOT EVER.

  • Unfortunately, many people put the marital vow “until death do us part…” OVER and ABOVE everything else, including other the other part of the vows, which is to “forsake all others”.

    Keeping *your* vows is more important than let’s say, *their* honesty (they didn’t “vow” to be honest). More important than *their* cheating (forsaking all others means something very different to them). More important than *them* spending all of the money in *your* 401K. (there’s a vow “for richer or poorer, but no vow that says that THEY won’t make you ‘poor’) More important than *them* giving you an incurable STD (no ‘vow’ against that, either)

    To them, *you’re* the one “breaking your vows” because you’re ending the marriage BEFORE “till DEATH do us part”. Therefore, it’s all your fault! The only reason the marriage is ending is because YOU’RE ending it.

    And a number of cheaters will tell you the same thing.

  • I was taken away from my parents when I was 13 for abuse by the state. My parents blamed me for making them look bad. The abuse wasn’t lack of money, food or a home. They had all that. It was mental and physical abuse by my father. Throw my mother in there because she did absolutely nothing to protect us kids but spackle what he did and said. They both lack any type of feelings such as empathy. I learned the hard way early on to cut such people away from my life. They actually liked it when I messed up so they could say it wouldn’t have occurred if I just would of kept my mouth shut and towed the line at home.

    My dad is now really bat-shit crazy and in his 80’s. He has no children at home to torment any longer. He now spends 24/7 tormenting my mother. I think God keeps allowing him life in hopes he recognizes and repents before he gets called to serve Satan. The way I deal with them is to go “grey rock”. I tell them nothing. My mother would use any bad information about me to sic my dad on me so he’d lay off of her. If my dad calls me I sic him on the president or FOX News or the gas pipeline. I’m secretly hoping the Secret Service get him in their clutches. I pity them boyz then. He has called the White House numerous times.

    When the election was going on my dad got a call from a lady representing Hillary Clinton. The lady asked my dad, “Do you know of Hillary Clinton?” My dad says, “Isn’t that Blow Job Bill’s wife?” You know how the conversation digressed from there. The only thing my parents taught me was how to deal with the disordered. I worked in a prison my whole life and did well Would I share my hopes and dreams with them? Oh, hell no. They have never been in my circle of support.

    • Yooper, I am so sorry you had to live through this. Your story sounds so much like what my STBX had to deal with growing up. What the hell is wrong with people? I am happy that you have a circle of support outside of their dysfunction. I certainly feel supported here in CN.

  • ” I think God keeps allowing him life in hopes he recognizes and repents before he gets called to serve Satan.”

    From what you’ve described, it sounds like he’s ALREADY serving Satan… 🙁

  • Chumponit, did you have a healthy relationship with your mother before you announced your divorce?

    Don’t feel bad if you have always had a bad relationship with her or you have just discovered that you have a bad one now. It’s now unusual.

    When I consider the ridiculous advice that my mother has given me over the years, I have to conclude that she and I have never played on the same team.

    It was a freeing moment when a friend reassured me that just because someone is my mother does not mean that she has my best interests at heart.

    You’re not alone.

    • JATB, our relationship has been pretty good (before teenage years and beyond teenage years, that is). I think I just blew her world apart — still waiting for her to see the reality in its entirety, and to know that her granddaughter will be okay. It’s weird to think about our parents as just other people, particularly when they seem omniscient/omnipotent when you’re a kid, but sometimes they just don’t know either.

  • Chump Lady, that was a terrific column. It’s so powerful to lay out what is simply a NORMAL response, especially for those of us who never experienced it.

    ChumpOnIt, lots of good advice here as usual. I would say the bottom line is that if you step back, you know what to expect with your mother. Really seeing it, processing it and developing new strategies is no trivial task but will help you immensely in the end. You have too much going on to focus solely on it but fit it in where you can and you will be amazed how clarity leads to acceptance leads to peace.

    My mother is cut from similar cloth to yours and some of the horrific mothers people here have experienced. (I flinched at so many of the stories. Such cruelty!) Anyway, it’s been over five years since my divorce and she will still bring up the x, wondering how he is and saying how much she liked him. I shut her down last time by telling her if she was so interested, she should call him. The number is still the same. That got her flustered but she will do it again. Why? Because it’s something she pulls out when I need to be punished. I might be too happy. Or I might have tried to go over options to help her maintain her independence and the reality of the situation isn’t something she wants to hear. Or maybe I didn’t support a really crappy opinion she expressed about some person or group, like blue collar men or celebrities who let themselves get old or fat. That’s really all it’s about in my case. In classic narc style, her battle is to dysregulate the emotions of everyone around her so that she can feel a little bit better for a little while. It’s a shame and a waste because she’s got her good points, too, but the bottom line is that I do not make myself vulnerable with her ever. She’s forfeited that right and would have to do a lot more than she’d ever be willing to do to earn it back. Kinda like everyone’s exes.

    • Ohana, suggesting that she call him is spot on. Nowhere else to go with that comment. It would be nice to know what things will look like 5 years out. Not sure if it would be considered “hopium” around here, but I hope she will come around. I’ve gotten bits of evidence that suggests that it may happen. Offering her car and accompaniment to IKEA/wherever to furnish the apartment was a start. I guess in the meantime, filter out the bad stuff, accept the good stuff (my mom makes good points also…unfortunately also sprinkled in with the stuff that upsets me).

      • ChumpOnIt, it would be great if this is just a phase or something temporary but it’s hard after an experience like infidelity to just hope for the best. (I’m not saying you’re doing that, more that I can’t offer you optimism alone.) Your best chance is to analyze what’s happening and face it head on. You’ve already shown you are tough enough to do that. Then it’s a matter of finding effective ways to regulate your own responses and emotions. Sometimes changing your side of the equation changes theirs. If not, it’s still a win for you ( and for your child who will be learning from you). Sometimes it can even be fun.

        For instance, my brother is a really great guy. My Mom brings him up in order to make me and my sister feel bad by comparison. The last time she did it, I just dove right into praising him and being happy for his recent good fortune. I could be totally sincere because he is awesome and I was very happy for him. The fun part came when Mom quickly tired of hearing her child praised. She wanted to move on from the topic long before I was done. That’s sad — a mother who doesn’t want to hear nice things said about her child — but I have to admit I was also laughing inside when I saw how she had fallen into her own trap. And how freeing it was to feel good about my brother rather than resent the use my Mom made of him.

        Maybe you won’t have to deal with such things after things settle down, but if you do, you’ll handle it.

        • It’s funny how there can be patterns to people like that…and it’s definitely noticeable in the people close to you. You’re right, only regulating myself could possibly bring a change of response. I am hoping to be more consistently there soon. Right now I’m a roller coaster…

  • What Chumplady said.

    Be that Mum yourself to stop the cycle of abuse which has probably been cascading down your family for generations.

    My own mother was horrible in the early days. Unsupportive and unemotional. I was always the coper and the fixer in the family. And now I was too broken to do that and she was distraught at her own lack of support. What? Yes. I stopped contact with her for a year or so whilst I fixed and morphed into a new life. I see her now. I love her. But I do not tolerate any of her old misbehaviours anymore. If she starts up, I just back off. I firmly believe my own poor parenting lead me to have such a low self esteem that I tolerated decades of abuse from my ex. No longer. And I fight for my own kids hard and strong. And walk by their side in the shit bits. That’s great work!

  • I have to say, one single prostitute fucking is ample grounds to end any marriage. Regardless of any other actions before or after. There’s nothing on earth that can make any marriage right after that. That is just about as low as you can go. Just truly disgusting.

  • My charming mother very sweetly patted my hand and said “Maybe it’s because your snore. Would you like me to pay for a CPAP machine?”

    Uh… my husband stuck his !#$ into my “best friend” for 18 months because I SNORE?!?!?!?

      • Yeah. I might have shocked her a little when I replied like that… Well, I wasn’t internet polite, I used the technically correct body parts. I think she got the point, but she won’t talk about it.

  • I’ve not left for a similar reason. My mum has told me to stay for the money. My abuser has a very good job and we have a very good lifestyle, although most of it is on a mortgage as he can’t save and spends like water so pays nothing off. He’s also stopped me from getting a career or working so I’d have a major problem housing my three children (one of whom is severely autistic).

    My mum has seen the abuse (she saw the manipulation, lies, etc before me, she tells me, but didn’t want to say anything because he gave us a good lifestyle). Even now, when it’s severe emotional abuse as it’s ramped up, she still tells me to stay so that I can have somewhere to live.

    Forums such as this one, however, friends and counsellors (I’ve seen one now) have told me to leave. I’m now making plans as it’s affecting my children badly I’ve found out.

    Ignore your mum. She’s identical to mine. They care more about looks and money than about what you are going through, especially if you have kids like me. You need to do what is right for you, not them! Hugs xxx

    • During the gas lighting years (pre-D-day) when I didn’t know my ex was shopping around / cheating on me, but was sick of his selfishness and criticism, I had contemplated divorce. One of the reasons I stayed was for the kids and the money. After years of surgical training, x finally was making a very good income, about 20 times the amount I earned at the time of D-day. The freedom you will gain once you have left an unhealthy relationship is priceless. I am infinitely happier despite my dramatically reduced income, taking modest holidays and watching my budget. OW has all the trappings now (e.g. new mercedes, designer handbags, expensive overseas trips flying business) but I pity her, married to an unfaithful narc. Please don’t stay for the money and lifestyle, it was soul-destroying for me.

    • I do agree that the perceived lack of the comforts that you (and mom through you) grew accustomed to is a hurdle. I know my mom sees hardship in my future. It sucks not having a partner to help now, but honestly, it’s not like I had one for a while anyway (or part of one, as STBX points out…yes, that’s totally comparable). I know I have other support in sloshing through (including my mom, despite her trouble with the concept of divorce). We do get stuck between a rock and a hard place in these situations. At that point, it’s crap or crap. I wanted to take the crap I could deal with.

  • I’m sending hugs to this awesome lady – ChumpOnIt!
    You did everything right, you’re mighty, you’re awesome!

    You and I are walking the same path and unfortunately, share the same type of mother. From my own hell with my mother, I drew some conclusions.
    Here are a few thought about this type of mother.
    – Her snide comments? She does that on purpose.
    – she is not siding with your X, she is positioning herself AGAINST you.
    – she blames you for the failed marriage because you basically embarrassed her.
    – she is not empathising with you and she will never do. She feels she is above you.

    My mother compares herself with me and thinks she is more accomplished (who does that??? Teenage divas???). I got more empathy and understanding from strangers than from my own mother.
    This is the root of our codependency, the need for validation. This is the set-up that led us straight into the arms of narcissists and sociopaths.

    Please protect yourself, from your own mother!
    Remember: you’re awesome!

    • Enraged, the comparisons thing made me think… There probably was a sharp curve for me, things to live up to with Mom. She was the valedictorian type, and I probably spent a lot of emotional investment in putting myself on that same level. She does not compare herself to me, but I can see the whole child-is-a-reflection-of-their-parent thing — some degree of embarrassment, I’m sure…even though she knows it’s not my fault (who knows though, maybe she does see my anger as a cause… I was an angry teenager). It has been easier for me to talk about this with people I am less close with, only because there’s no investment/attachment for them to feel any other way than what they would naturally feel about this kind of situation. Mom has not come at me with this outburst again…and I do think it was an outburst of emotion (not that it made it hurt any less)…so I think she’s coming around to this just being the way it is. I won’t be able to have what she and my dad have…40 years of an overall successful partnership. I am trying to make her see that this loss makes me feel just as sad…that I’m not just tossing marriage away. It’s not like I had a choice. I don’t care how nice STBX can be, you just don’t do that to your spouse.

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