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Dear Chump Lady, Why am I thinking “If only…”?

Dear Chump Lady,

Would love some tough love. One night after making a healthy gluten-free meal for my husband, kid, and kid’s sleepover friend, hubs and I had a quickie in the shower while the kids were outside. Fifteen minutes later I am walking into the den with my dinner (you know…feed everyone else then care for yourself mentality), I walk up behind the asshat and he is messaging “someone” and quickly shut the phone. I asked who it was and he stuttered (yes, stuttered) his friend’s name. I said “No who was it?” He said, white faced and shaky, “I am having an affair.”

The bottom fell out, the kid came up screaming at his dad, “What have you done to my mom??!!” Our family was forever changed in that instant. He chose to tell his wife of fifteen years he is having an affair AFTER sex and WHILE our son was home with a friend over.

Fast forward to 36 days later, he has filed for divorce (wants no separation and had the balls to tell me this marriage is not reconcilable — let me mention I didn’t even ASK for his ass back!) and I am the one picking up the broken pieces of this family for my son (who refuses to see his dad AT ALL). So here is where the tough love need comes in.

What the fuck is wrong with me that I am sitting here thinking, “If I hadn’t been so co-dependent our marriage would have worked?” Regardless that he neglected me emotionally and treated me like a sex object for 13 years (our marriage was actually great when it started), and that he used to call me a crazy bitch in front of our kid.

Why am I taking this on? Is this really how co-dependents think? “If only I…” ????

I want to slap my own face right now and really this feeling is coming from absolute rejection… He fucked around on me, he traumatized our child, he has been lying and cheating, yet HE wants out??? I feel unloved and empty and can’t believe I am letting this asshole make me FEEL anything less than HAPPY HE’S GONE.

Words of tough love, advice would be welcome.

Worth More

Dear Worth More,

“If only…” is the bargaining stage of grief. You’re trying to make sense of the whiplash of going from 15 years of marriage, sex, and gluten-free dinners to total rejection in 10 minutes flat. “If only…” is reconstructing the crash scene and trying to find the black box of blame. If only I wasn’t so co-dependent. If only I hadn’t asked to see his cell phone. If only I had served gluten that day…

Control is a very seductive commodity when your world’s been shattered. It’s far more palatable to think that you had some hand in this tragedy than to accept that your husband has the sociopathic ability to fuck you in the shower one minute and text his mistress the next.

So a chump bargains. I brought this on myself somehow. And you tell yourself that if only you could reverse course, or be different, you could prevent Scary Things From Ever Happening. Bargaining says your investment wasn’t a total waste. Bargaining says maybe there is something here to be salvaged (like friendship!) Bargaining is the crazy mindfuck that allows people to sleep with their exes. (Okay, we can’t be married anymore, but maybe we can just enjoy the sex…)

And even though bargaining comes with humiliation (the pick me dance, the desperate demands for closure, the endless loops of self-recimination), it keeps you from those scary feelings of powerlessness. Better to feel humiliation and a sense of CONTROL than utter loss.

Maybe you were too codependent. Maybe you buttered his gluten-free toast and folded his underwear in perfect squares and sublimated your every need to the greater good of family unity. Maybe your thighs are chubby. Maybe you hold embarrassing political views. Maybe your family is absolutely insufferable and your children are below average.

That doesn’t make what he did your fault. Your codependency, real or imagined, did not compel your husband to live a double life. And then, once discovered, to walk out on his family. That’s on him. We have no superpowers of abandonment and rejection. (As I’ve written before, if we did, then we could concentrate really hard and make people hit us or drive them to drink.)

Your husband could’ve spoken up. He could’ve behaved with integrity and had difficult conversations with you, a therapist, or a divorce attorney. He could’ve not taken THAT moment of all moments to announce his affair. He had a big decision tree with thousands of possible decisions and he did NOT have to make those hurtful choices.

Love and committing our lives to someone makes us vulnerable. Intimacy means vulnerability, there’s no way around that. But ethical people guard that trust. They are careful with our hearts. They do not gamble them in a two-bit crap shoot for easy pussy.

If you want to change your codependent ways and unchump, more power to you. I’m all in favor of self-improvement. But don’t mistake it for causality. People far more fabulous than you are cheated on every day, and people far more odious are committed to.

We only control ourselves. That’s scary and it’s also empowering. On the scary side, that means you can’t save a marriage single-handedly. Or change a cheater’s character by reading RIC books, or dragging them by their ears to therapy. You just get to save you. YOU decide who gets the honor of your love. YOU decide who is worthy and who is not. YOU decide who gets the mental real estate in your head and who is a squatter who needs evicting.

The way he treated you was appalling and unacceptable. He’s a coward who ran. Yes, Worth More you ARE worth more. Act on that self-worth  — cut him out of your life and communicate through scheduling software and lawyers. The feelings will follow.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This is along the same lines as what happened to me. He acted like he loved me and I thought I was so lucky. It fell apart in a nano-second and he ran. I never spoke to him again. Twenty one years, just imploded. I thought I’d die and it took me a decade to realize I wouldn’t. I’m still not sure what’s wrong with this type of cheater. But I do know that I never deserved the mess he created. I adored him and it showed. He never, to my face, acted like he didn’t love me. It still feels like a little bit of evil that I got caught up in. Whatever. He’s not my problem now, Thank God.

    • I’m there with you Carol. Twenty years of what it seemed a loving marriage crashed in a moment plus a cheater that never looked back. I’m in year four and once in a while I still find myself wondering how in the world all this happened.
      Betrayal plus Abandonment bring a very particular set of reactions from our brains. There are two books that helped me understand what I was going through: “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing” and “Love and the Mystery of Betrayal.” Both are up to date in the research on love, loss of love, the brain and traumatic betrayal. They helped me understand my reactions better.
      Nothing like this blog to be empowered and put the blame where it belongs though!

      • That was one of the harder things to deal with the, abandonment. 33 years together then poof gone and not a word from him, just like I never existed, his mom did the same thing to me. Assholes run in the family!

        • Narcissistic exFamily members seem to be more common than I thought. The narc’s begavior cam from his mother AND father. She (narc mom) introduced his AP (turned whoriffic wife) to him deliberately to see if romance would blossom. This horse-mouth wrench is undoubtedly the replacement warranty to service him. She’s a narc too (4 kids and married…came to my house for a party with her idiot kid when I was almost 7 months pregnant).
          It’s been a long half decade, but therapy, social support, and constant self-conversations to remind myself it was ALL him have helped me move forward. (although dealing with him and her weekly makes it so much harder bc my kids have to be constantly exposed to their deplorable behaviors and morals)
          Keep moving forward one step at a time…no matter how insignificant it may seem, it’s that’s much closer to recovery.

        • I think this is where I’m stuck and can’t seem to get out of it. How after so many years of marriage (both good and bad I thought) can they just leave? Give up? I wasn’t even worth but 2 weeks of effort.
          We had been luck n in different states for 4 yrs (work related) and poor. I asked a question about bank statement over the phone and got clobbered.
          Came home for 2 weeks and left again to work. He couldn’t take it anymore.
          I want to puke still. Sigh

      • Yeah, I really liked that Susan Anderson book.

        Here is my take on this co-defendant label: It is way overused.

        Many of us were dealing with the disordered ( if you research their lives before you were on the scene, you will se that it was there all along, just masked expertly.)

        So, invariably, after entanglement ( kids, mortgage, vows, finances etc.) the mask comes off ( not to the outside world, though).
        Then, the abuse ramps up, sometimes suddenly, many times gradually ( frog boil etc.)

        So, we are confused, tricked and have other consideration in getting out ( esp. kids, IMO).

        So, it seems to me very normal, not codependent, for it to take quite a bit of time for a normal,committed person to pull the plug. We do not take vows lightly and we have to consider kids and other things. Who just bolts at the first sign of emotional abuse? Half of us have never heard of it and we chalk things up to her/him ” having a bad day”.
        After a while , it finally dawns on us that this is who they really are. But, that takes some time.

        • Yes everything you just said. It was definitely the frog boil in my case. I was just getting to the point where I could no longer ignore the heat when D-Day happened. Yes it took me a while to get to the point of initiating the divorce even after D-Day, but you know what, I will not apologize for that either. I said my vows too and I meant them. I also believe in second chances, always have. I wanted to make sure it was clear that I did love him and that he had a chance to do the right thing before we pulled the plug. In my case it wasn’t a sudden break where he just left, but neither did he show any signs of wanting to reconcile our marriage. It was several months of limbo where he gradually pulled away (two steps away one step back). Eventually I had to acknowledge that he had made the wrong choice and that divorce was the only option to avoid an open marriage by default which was a deal breaker for me. That is when I started coming here. To keep myself on task. Of course his behavior lately has helped with that too.

        • Yes. I appreciate the reminder that valuing my word and commitments was healthy, not co-dependent!

          • It is. This is exactly my situation. You did everything you could. You tried to keep your word, keep your house, keep your kids, your life, money, your spouse. And you’re in total disbelief that they would choose the OW over the beautiful life and kids you both worked hard at. I can lay my head down at night knowing I did everything I could to save my marriage. I’m so glad he kept being his selfish delusional douchebag self. I’m 2 years out from Dday and I’m divorced, self sufficient, and raising 2 toddlers and a 2nd grader all by myself. Single parents out there-you are MIGHTY!! It. Is. so. Hard.

  • Worth more, apropos name. 5 weeks in and you are at this point?!? You are a BEAST. Took me 3 years to get where you are NOW. The “if only” brain loop will only fucking kill you (or years of your time). Fuck him and don’t look back. You and your awesome son will be so much better off.

    • Lemme add, not *will* be. Already are, despite the pain of the current moment.

    • I dont feel like a beast most of the time…today I submit Interrogatories bc the piece of shit wouldnt tell me her name…well guess what? Now he gets to submit EVERY detail BY law of so much more than a name. ASshole.

      • 🙂 You ROCK WorthMore 🙂

        BAM Consequences Asshole! 😀

        That’s right! (((((((WorthMore))))))) 🙂

      • Worth More, you should be so proud! You saved yourself years of heartache, disappointment and pick-me-dancing by lawyering up and moving forward. Being gobsmacked by betrayal and then abandonment hurts like hell. But, it does save you from years of waffling while you toke your hopium pipe. My ex-dealer spent years keeping me addicted, selling me hopium and spewing fake apologies, tears, and lies, lies, lies. I was an anxiety-ridden, shaky, insecure, depressed shell of my former self, desperate for every crumb of hopium he would throw at me. I went from a happy, confident person, to someone with zero self-worth. My head knew what I was doing was self-destructive, but my heart kept me in it. I talked myself into sticking it out “for the family” and kept myself wallowing by “focusing on all the good times”. After 27 years of marriage, I was a total wreck during those wreckonciliation years. And what did it get me? FOUR more DDays and a whole lot of hysteria. I was living like a detective, hiding from my family and friends out of shame, maniacally putting on a happy face for my daughter. It was truly a living hell. I finally wised up after the last DDay and filed for divorce, against my own will. In hindsight it was the one and only smart thing I did during that time. You can skip over all that and go straight to BAD ASS! Try to stay focused on your end game. Be good to yourself, cry when you want to cry, let your family and friends help you- tell them your truth- do not try to protect your piece of shit husband by keeping the dirty details a secret. Most importantly, stay NO CONTACT as much as possible. I did not think I would live through this mess, but I did- and you will, too! Take it from those of us who’ve walked this ugly road before you… there is a great, happy, BETTER life on the other side of this nightmare! You WILL get to meh- we promise! Any time you feel weak and want to contact him, post here instead and we will talk you down. Remember that hopium is a drug. It warps your sense of reality and makes you behave in self-destructive ways. RESIST IT! Please remember that because when your STBX realizes that his kibble supply from you has dried up, he will come barking at your door with a fresh supply of hopium. He will say all the right things, take trips down “memory lane” with you, and amp up the charm. Remember that it is all an illusion. It is your addiction talking. Kick the bullshit habit and don’t let him in. Be a role model for your child- be the sane parent. Sometimes the thing you think is the worst thing in the world, is actually a blessing in disguise. Trust that a better life is waiting for you on the other side… You CAN do this- you already are!

        • I love the hopium comment!!!! You are right and the bullshit habit is broken. Thank you!

        • You’ve given me peace and hope at 3 am when I can’t sleep because of my cheaterpants bullshit, thanks for sharing your story “over it”. I filed for divorce two days ago after 3 1/2 years since my first D -day which was three months after our wedding. This blog and the book have made it all so clear. I see he doesn’t deserve me and I will be better for leaving him.

      • Good. Don’t fall into any traps. Less is more. And don’t invite him back into the house/have any sex. It will forgive his affair in many states. You will get more in the divorce in some places because of his affair. I pick me danced after he abandoned our 6 year old and 10 month old son and I in another state. I was pregnant too and he had been gone and crazy and there was no way I was letting him take my newborn. If I agreed to some sex with him he would just come visit the kids and leave. I know, disgusting. But I didn’t care about myself at that point in my life (thanks for the devaluation). And he would go right back to her house. Ugh, what a creep. That’s what she sleeps next to at night. No thank you. It will take you years to accept he’s just a piece of shit. You still love him right now so it’s hard. Just follow the advice of CL/CN. You can’t save it. There’s nothing to save. RUN FROM THE BURNING HOUSE!!!

  • Worth More, if you’re not already, please find a therapist that’s familiar with unraveling that co-dependent connection. They can help you to stop blaming yourself for someone else’s actions. You need to be strong for yourself and your son.
    You are mighty, and you’ve got this!

    • Please make sure that therapist has experience with personality disordered individuals as well. It helps when they can understand what you are talking about and identify things that seemed casual in the moment but meant something bigger.

      • I am constantly amazed at the “Golden Nuggets of Truth” that I receive from the amazing posters here. And this is one of them! A thing that seemed casual in the moment but meant something bigger. I have one! The first week of our 35 relationship my now ex calls his mother and says “here talk to my girlfriend, we are having a dirty weekend.” I was appalled to be introduced that way and remember not wanting to take the phone. I felt very small. He left without any notice after 35 years.
        So I guess that casual “thing” that he said meant that he was a jerk! Why didn’t I listen to my gut? Drats. Thank you AllOutofKibble.

        • Yep, that was a big red flag.
          You felt humiliated and yet proud being his girlfriend. They always do that, don’t they? They make an offer you simply cannot refuse.
          Nevertheless, a lesson learned is a lesson learned. You are in the process of fixing you picker. I am so proud of you!

        • Yeah, my first thought reading that was that if anyone is dirty, it can only be true that one of you was dirty, and it wasn’t you. 🙂

    • I am thank you!!! I read co dependent no more in my 20’s apparently I missed the bigger lesson. :/

  • Rather than asking what is wrong with yourself, you should be congratulating yourself on having such amazing insight early on! Most of us were weepy sleepless emotional wrecks at that stage, not even able to recognise our own codependency or know that we deserved better. Like CL says, the feelings will follow in time. The other huge issue here is that he has totally deceived you, so you are probably questioning your entire marriage and reliving every dodgy memory or conversation to make sense of it all. The cheaters know what they’ve done, we can only guess and it really does your head in for a while. I suggest you also check out the book Runaway Husbands, it was a huge help to me early on.

    • I read that book before I discovered Chump Lady (actually a comment on that website led me here), and it helped me a lot too! (My exh was left me out of the blue for someone else and never looked back.)

    • I read it so many times that the author finally included my own story in the latest edition. SO helpful for those of us who were blindsided and abruptly without even a single backwards glance. Yes, it seems we should be grateful, but when they sit down calmly out of the blue and announce they are leaving (have, essentially, already left in every way except bodily), it’s its own sort of shock. Runaway Husband, Vikki Stark. Find it, read it, it helps.

      • Mine didn’t even have the guts to sit down and tell me he was leaving – he ended out 17 year marriage with a TEXT MESSAGE! Classy, right?

        • x left a note in the back of a cigarette carton. No class or guts.

          • Newdaydawning, that might win the prize for scummiest relationship breakup communciation. A friend of mine found a note on the doormat after about 25 years of marriage, but a cigarette packet is just the pits. Sylvester Stallone apparently broke up with Jennifer Flavin via fax. At least my scumbag said it in person, even if it was after months of gas lighting denial.

        • Cowards. Mine did the same. Sent me a text saying “I hope we can be friends”, which was his way of sort of leaving, but not, in case he ever wanted to come back because he didn’t want a divorce (read:he didn’t want to lose my money and support, his car, a place for his mom to live, his backup plan for when slut puppet finally saw who he is (she should’ve known given what the two of them did to me)). Then he was gone on his fake “tour” with the slut puppet for three months, which I paid for with the money he borrowed from me the day before. What a sweetheart. His mom lived with me that entire time and another 6 months after.
          Coward. liar. Sociopath.

        • I got home from work 7 weeks ago to find a letter. The double life is hard to come to terms with. My ex gave me a t-shirt for Christmas ‘Best girlfriend in the universe’ then a month later he was in a new life! Thank goodness someone posted a link to this site, so I know I’m not alone.

          • I am so sorry he did that to you. I guess he didn’t know what to do with someone that was “quality” since he obviously didn’t match that.

  • Worth More, I went through the same motions (and still do but to a lesser degree) after DDay a year ago. How would it be different if he had not told you 15 min after you had sex, but the following day? The following week after coming back from work? Or after coming home from a nice party together? Or during spring cleaning the garage? Or while loading the dishwasher? Would it lessen your pain? No. Dday hurts whenever and wherever and however it happens. You would still recall the nice times you spent together, great sex you had, jokes, fun times – you name it- and wonder how it all happened and how could you not see it earlier. After a while you will admit that you felt something was off for a longer time. Like him checking out emotionally for 13 years. Then you will start recalling cases when he behaved oddly, said an odd thing or two that should have hinted you something was wrong. If only you had caught it then…maybe you could have worked it out by now.

    “If only” took me back into his seductive trap and I reconciled after 6 months. For two months. Then he went back to his ways. Then I discovered CL and started seeing the sunrays through the fog. The ones that are razor sharp and hurt your eyes and you can’t and don’t want to open your eyes wide and watch. Until the day you do. And things fall into places. The puzzle works out.

    My cheater had the balls to ask me yesterday if I miss him. I said I do miss the guy I thought he was, i miss my hopes and dreams of life with him which are illusion. But I certainly don’t miss what I know is the monster he is, who had his affair going for almost as long as our marriage, who cold-heartedly was planning his exit from our life leaving me and my son and becoming a step daddy to his whore’s daughter.

    I went through many “what if” motions. I even secretly desired to not have snooped into his phone and discovered. I wanted him to reverse the day when he told me all and everything. I was prepping myself for more lies and so the wreckonciliation happened and then failed.

    I am proud of my little achievements since DDay where I showed him I was no longer his co-dependent. I still cry. I could not sleep last night because of the encounter we had yesterday. But every day is a new day. I am putting some make up under my black eyes now and going to work.

    It hurts. But CL and we are all here to support you. Come talk to us. And trust me…it would not matter when DDay happened. It still fucking hurts. He is not worth your pain and you will move on. Where I am today and where I was even 3 months ago are two separate worlds. Thank to CL. You will heal.

    Hugs to you.

    • Longtimechump, that’s such shit that your cheater asked if you miss him.

      When I missed my ex wife, I told myself the classic line, ” I don’t miss you. I miss the person I thought you were.”

      Repeating that a few times allowed me to put those feelings in perspective.

      • I know of a man whose first wife and he married, agreeing not to have children. The wife changed her mind, convinced him to have children, but…he didn’t like the with-children lifestyle, separated, and then left his wife and two small children (both under 5) for another woman.

        He actually had the gall later to ask her if she regretted having children so that they could have stayed married. !!!???@@@#$#$!! He asked her to throw her children under the bus to give him the validation of having been so wonderful that she would have preferred to have kept him. After he left her for someone else. Unfuckingbelievable. Hannibal knew better than to ask me that question; MUCH prefer my kids to his pathological-lying self.

        • Tempest, mine said it right and left how he did not want a child and how his mom and I convinced him to (had his eyes strapped, his hands strapped back with his mom holding them tight, pumped him with viagra, and had him raped together!!!) And so now it’s his mom’s and my responsibility to do the childrearing while he gets the fun time.

          He came over yesterday at my initiation to discuss and agree on separation terms. He wants jont custody. Ok. Son continues living with me, ok. I the suggested to split the holidays. Summer months in two. And alternate christmas and march breaks. We almost lost it there. He said that because he graciously agreed for son to live with me for the entire year, it is only fair for him to get the big chunck of his vacation. I told him he can visit and stay with his mom during the school year and do his share of a joint custody. Not that I want it. But I also don’t want to compromise on my quality time with my son. His response (bordering with threat) was that he may then arrange so that our son lives with him in his country and I will be the one to visit. We decided to contine talking next week. But this is it in a nutshell. I am left with either going to a pitbull lawyer and fighting (and he is the one himself playing dirty all his life even with clients) or take his offer and spend every christmas with him and son on his territory and have 3 weeks to myself in the summer. I wonder how long this arrangement will work. I may sacrifice two weeks a year during christmas for the sake of being with my son and seeing the cheaterface. At least until he is a little older. 4 years? Arghhh.

          • Longtimechump–get that pitbull lawyer! Pronto. Do you honestly think that if you capitulate on Christmas, he’ll in fairness give you everything else you ask for? Bwahahaahah!!!

            You will NOT want to spend holidays with the jackass any more than you will want to have your fingernails pulled out one at a time with pliers. Ugh–how to destroy holidays for the forseeable future. And cheater won’t want to see son for whole stretches of holidays past the first year (just to prove he has won).

            Lawyer-up, honey. And buckle in for the ride. Do it for the sake of your son, so that he doesn’t have to be a narc pawn. Hugs!

            • Thank you! Had a long conversation with a friend -cheater’s friend for that matter. His three good friends are totally on my side. He also threw a couple of suggestions. Shit sandwich does not taste great but it’s what we have to eat if we are to coparent with narcs.

              It’s march break here this week so every day is planned out with our son who stays over at grandma’s with the cheater. I saw him a couple of times last week. It feels so weird knowing your dearest son is just over in the next building but you can’t spend time with him. Cheater asked me why I want to divorce after we’ve essentially lived like this for the past 6 years. I told him ummm no! I thought I had a family. I loved you and trusted you. It’s you who claimed no emotional connection and checked out 12 years ago. I was in. That’s why for you there is no need to change things. You lived a double life. I did not. And after I discovered the truth I want out of this rotten marriage.

          • At first they offer the carrot, “Let’s be friends and not get attorneys, let’s do this my way… blah, blah”. Until the chump balks on the shit sandwich. Hey, an entitled POS is an entitled POS, they will see nothing from your perspective and they will act accordingly.

            THIS statement ^^^^ is the first wave of threats (“I will as for 50/50 custody – I will ask to be custodial parent..”) they use as a “stick” to scare women into agreements they should not agree to – in terms of child visitation and support.
            If he is already THERE at this point, get the pit bull and hold on.

          • I agree with Tempest. Get the pit bull lawyer. I wasted 8 months trying to get to an agreement and dissolution with STBX. It was a complete waste of time and money. Everything he claimed he would do or agree to in the beginning, he refused to put in writing and spent the time devaluing his business and tripling his business expenses to try and hide income. And even though he has standard parenting time as part of the temporary order, he won’t abide by it and just wants to make arrangements each week for what fits in his schedule.

            Plus, if he didn’t want kids in the first place and part of the reason he left was because family life cramped his style, why does he now want joint custody?

            • “Plus, if he didn’t want kids in the first place and part of the reason he left was because family life cramped his style, why does he now want joint custody?”

              ANSWER: to avoid or reduce child support.

              • Yep, and this is exactly why time is of the essence. Good advice, All.

              • That just shows how hollow they are. The kids are simply pawns in getting what they want. I am thankful that my STBX isn’t going for custody. That is one battle I don’t have to go through.

          • LTC, don’t believe a word this person says. He has already threatened to take your child away from you to another country.

            Secure your child’s passport immediately!

            Consider this your red flag

    • Longtime Chump has it right.

      The thing is, you are grieving the image of the guy you thought he was, and the life you thought you had. But those actually never existed.

      Once you realize he was never what you thought he was, nor was the relationship what you thought it was, the easier it gets to let go.

      Give yourself time, you will get there. *hugs*

      • All this is true – but doesn’t make it hurt any less? Still, keep coming back here – there’s great advice from people at all stages.

    • You are right but any time would have been better then when my son was home…ANYtime. Poor kid

  • I just want to reach right out and give you a huge hug. My heart hurts for you. There is nothing wrong with you. At this point, you are reeling because your world has just imploded. Time to be gentle with yourself. It takes time to absorb and time to process. I was stuck at the WTF stage for quite a while until my psyche caught up. When it did, that’s when I got pissed and moved into the FU stage.

    Gather your resources and go get yourself a pitbull lawyer. Start getting your ducks in a row, in other words, make copies of all your important papers and put them in a safe place. Run a credit check to see all outstanding debts. Unfortunately, it’s standard procedure for these assholes to spend YOUR money on their schmoopies. It’s called dissipation of marital assets. One thing that he probably doesn’t know. Once he filed, all assets are immediately frozen. So if he is hiding money, or moving assets around, he will have to play fair when the courts get wind of it. A credit check will tell you if he’s being deceptive.

    Any special family heirlooms or things that are precious to you? It’s a good idea to squirrel them away in a safe place. When cheaters devalue and discard us, they turn into complete assholes. They have been known to either destroy or steal things we love, just out of pure meaness. They enjoy our pain.

    The biggest thing for me was to realize he was no longer my friend. It’s hard to do that mental switch….trust to guarding yourself from him, but it has to be done. He is a user. He knows all the buttons to push to get what he wants. He is utterly selfish and doesn’t care about hurting you or your son. He has shown you who he is.

    Sending you hugs. This is the place to post. We all have been where you are, and we care about you. We can tell you all about the cheater handbook they all seem to operate from.

    • Again such a great reply CL. This hit me “But ethical people guard that trust. They are careful with our hearts. They do not gamble them in a two-bit crap shoot for easy pussy.”

      And everything that Tessie says especially “The biggest thing for me was to realize he was no longer my friend.”

      I went for a walk today to quiet down my thoughts and I realised that you do have to walk away from these people and build your life over again as they (no matter if they say they love you or not, and whether you still feel you love them or not) are not worth you anymore. They have hurt you in a catastrophic way. They cannot be trusted with your love, safety, trust or security.
      I still cannot wrap my mind around what my STBX has done but I don’t need to in order to make my way forward. Knowing that he was capable was quite enough.

      Worth More that is a great name because you are worth more. It just takes a bit of finagling to get out and get clear but there are many here who will light the way.

      I’m so sorry but you can do this. ❤

      • He was NO LONGER your friend?

        I think it’s more like he never was the friend at all, that you thought he was. That was all an act.

        • No, they never were your friend to begin with, I still have to remind myself that I never had the relationship or love I thought I had with X and he was never my best friend or a friend at all. Sociopaths without a conscious.

      • “Hurt you in a catastrophic way” is perfectly put, Cap. Yes, need that reminder. Also, “knowing that he was capable.” Amen. That’s all the info we really need. Horrid, but true.

      • It takes time…a walk to clear your head can be refreshing. But it doesn’t just make it go away. Kudos to you for keep moving forward

        • ImAPhool
          You are right, a walk doesn’t make it go away. It’s symptom management for me. I’m more treading water at the moment. Catching my breath for the next push.

          • I am writing letters to him nad his family…may never send them but it helps to get it ALL out. Dear motherfucker….

          • Oh absolutely. Sorry I didn’t mean to imply that taking a walk is useless. It can be very refreshing….add in some headphones and jam on to some upbeat music and you’ll be walking with a lil pep in your step and forget all about that ass – even just for those few minutes.

    • Excellent advice from Tessie and I would also add to line up a lawyer SOON. I’ve read many times (and it was definitely true in my case) that you have about 90 days after discovery to get the best settlement with the least amount of resistance from your STBX. This is when they feel the most guilty and they’re fantasizing about a life with OW.

      • Strad–exactly. Chumps who are in the “what if?” and stay there too long run the risk of prolonged divorce cases because while we are “what-iffing,” the cheater is devaluing us and getting positioned mentally and emotionally to repeat the devastation on the financial front. So get that tough lawyer and file for divorce and push for a settlement. Once the cheater settles in to a new life, he or she will come to believe the chump doesn’t deserve child support or alimony or the house…whatever the cheater wants.

        • AND they have more influence from OW/AP, IMHO. That was the reason I pushed hard for an early divorce — only 47 days from DDay to divorce — was that XH (STBX) was still acting sad sausage and putting on the public face of guilt and remorse, so I took advantage of that before OW started eyeballing my bank account. Evidently, I moved just in the nick of time, too, because the day before the divorce hearing, he called me (we didn’t use lawyers) and said he was having second thoughts about how much money he was getting (I’m a doctor), and I could practically hear his family and OW whispering in his ear, asking him to ask me for more money. In truth, I did give him a bit just to shut him up, but nowhere near as much as he would have gotten had we gone to trial. — Move fast, be aggressive, get what you need for your new life and worry about the emotional part later, Worth More. Be a warrior.

          • Amen! I had a quickie divorce too. XH left my pension. But little by little, whore started influencing and previously agreed upon assets began to be disputed. XH had no idea of the value of my pension – whore didn’t either. Thank God. Dipshit left about $300k in assets on table. He quickly married whore and appears to be in debt up to his eyeballs. They are so f’ing stupid. #truluv

            • NoKibble

              Same here. Thankfully, they are dumber than a brick and go for the pussy. The minute I filed and retained a lawyer he went balistic and the idiot had never fought for anyone or anything in his life.

              Now his greatest asset is a dumb ass whore he has to support financially. Now Six years from retirement he’s swimming in debt and will no doubt be broke for the rest of his life.

          • Yes, there can be big benefits to moving fast. My heart was not ready, but I quickly got a lawyer, got the MSA signed, and went to court to have my uncontested divorce finalized.

            I just followed CL’s advice in her book and kept reading here. I had to complete the next steps without thinking because the devastation and fallout were overwhelming, and I did NOT know what to do.

            I got the financial needs of my family taken care of either because he still felt embarrassed from being caught or because he couldn’t wait to move in with latest OW. I knew his sense of regret would not last and his remaining remnants of commitment to our family would not endure. He moves on fast and discards easily so I know taking action quickly helped my children and me greatly.

      • I agree, a quick divorce when the shame is high is the best course of action! My X got from bad to worse as his shame decreased…

        Get out as quickly as you can while getting as much cash out of this now as possible. Promises of future cash or contributions are smoke and mirror for these disordered types.

    • “I was stuck at the WTF stage for quite a while until my psyche caught up. When it did, that’s when I got pissed and moved into the FU stage.”

      I love the way this is written, I’m in the Pissed and moving slowly into the FU stage at the moment. It’s taken over two years to get to this stage.

      I’d like to add an additional stage I went through round about the WFT stage. Not quite sure what to call it but I stupidly went along with YoYo knickers idea of an amicable solution post D-Day, no need for lawyers etc…I think i was in that much of a daze i didn’t know WTF I was doing!

      When her settlement suggestions got more and more ridiculous and I realised that she had no-ones interests (Including the children) at heart…i quickly snapped out of it and entered the FU stage. This includes..

      1) Serious Grey Rock..don’t react or respond to any provocation – childcare stuff only
      2) Lawyer up – refer them to your lawyer with any divorce related stuff
      3) Remember what they did to you..they did some pretty awful shit, and thats just the stuff you know about. Theres probably a whole load of shit you didn’t know about

      • I was the opposite – Fuck You stage and all that rage from day one – With the help of very supportive brothers and sisters, had a blast breaking his “toys” and video games and taking a bat to his computer (after hacking it and getting what I needed) and anything that I gave him. Burned his fav shirt and loved every moment of it….that rage lasted for months because of his continued selfish and narcassistic ways. Then came WTF and how and why – 10 months later we divorced. I’m still at the WTF stage and wonder how a person can do this to someone they claim they love. It doesn’t keep me up at night anymore but still in disbelief at times. It’ll never go away completely. But it’ll hurt less and less.

  • This type of cheater….The Imploder… is insidious. NORMAL humans don’t implode people’s lives then walk away and never speak to them ….let alone never apologize.
    One day we were fine….the next I saw thousands of dollars gone and a sheriff at my door evicting me. A few months later….a gun hidden in my car when we were together shows back up with my fingerprints….and I am framed.
    Insidious…I wrestled with evil. I battled evil. It almost killed me. Messed with my mental health….
    I’m better now. But it took everything I had to pull thru.
    I didn’t ask for it….I didn’t deserve it. I am not responsible for it.
    I refuse to accept I deserved that type of treatment.
    He will have alot of excuses to give God on Judgement Day…. God don’t like ugly….and that bullshit excuses he will give won’t fly.

    • How does one wrap their head around the level of abuse and plotting these evil monsters dream up? Tracy, I’m so sorry you had to endure that level of toxicity. What a scary nightmare.

  • I think we will find many of us here that we’re abandoned, were left that way…..the hit and run.
    I’m two years out and will tel, you that NC is the path to the healing you want. It is sooooo hard at first, then it becomes easier.
    I have been known to occasionally fall off the wagon and when I do I beat myself up for days over taking the bait. Don’t misunderstand, my ex left me and the kids (17&23 at the time) and moved in with the young mistress and her kids ( 8&11). He left me cold and doesn’t want us back either but always finds some excuse to reach out when there’s been no word for a month or two.
    Now if I see a missed call from him after the last wagon fall off I text back for him to put it in an email……when he will respond with something snarky about how I should be grown up enough to just speak or how we would be fine if I wasn’t so “obsessed with them”.
    Ummmm……you called me asshole.
    Dealing with these people is the ultimate mindfuck. I don’t want this for me anymore.
    Chumplady is soooooo right. Decent people couldn’t just throw you in the trash that way. Decent people divorce….sure, but decent people don’t after 17 years of marriage have dinner with you then out of the blue ask you for a divorce and tell you they took off their ring already.
    I’m over trying to reason with the unreasonable, not my job.

    • I hear ya, Paintwidow. The years of reading the various stories here on CL have made me, ultimately, grateful he didn’t string me along with false promises of reconciliation, with love-bombing and begging to get me back. In hindsight, it was a brutal amputation — immediate, with no anesthetic or tourniquet to slow the hemorrhage, but it was better than sawing it off millimeter by millimeter.

      If I had an “ideal” end to my marriage, it would have been for him to have gone through counseling with me so I could have seen that he was never going to try and really did not (for whatever reason) love me, certainly not the way that I loved him. Then I might have realized he was not the person I thought he was and divorced him then. Instead, it wen the other way round: divorce first, then realization. I still ended up in the same place, away from a man who never really had my back, and therefore I’m better off. You will be, too, WorthMore.

      • No, no. They lie to the counselor’s face and manipulate you throughout the whole experience. This is an especially painful waste of time. It’s an opportunity to see more facets of their dark side, but no truths are openly explored and no sufficient explanations are apparent.

        I wish counseling had not been just one more part of a phony wreckonciliation. I understanding wishing they’d come clean, but they never do and it’s never their fault. IMHO, there is no ideal way to end a marriage with an unfaithful, lying spouse.

        • I spent about $10k on marriage counseling with my STBXH. I now know it was a complete waste of my money, time, and dignity. Much better to spend it on a lawyer or a great vacation with your kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • I guess I’m a little arrogant to think I would have seen him not making the effort. My situation (as far as I know, admittedly) is different from others here, in that I really do think XH got himself all wound up in OW and convinced himself that she’s The One. I don’t think he was strong or clever enough to have disguised his attentions for her in the face of therapy. — As it was, I did drag him kicking and screaming to one (only one) MC session, and at the end of said session, MC proposed an exercise for us to try for about a month (to rededicate our attentions to one another) then report back to him. The look in XH’s eyes was enough to set off an alarm, as he stuttered, “No, I really don’t think I could do that….” Even MC noticed and backpedaled to a modified exercise for two weeks. Same look in XH’s eyes, and that is the thing that did it for me, even before I found out about OW for certain: I thought, After sixteen YEARS this bastard can’t give me TWO WEEKS??? to try to fix our marriage?!?! I was furious and handed him divorce papers the very next morning. Finding out about OW (which he insists was just an emotional affair [UBT: I only put my dick in her anus, so it doesn’t count as “sex”]) was just the “you must move out of the house today” detail.

        • Counseling can serve a time-consuming purpose while you get that lawyer lined up. I know it’s manipulative, but I have a hard time feeling bad about being manipulative for three weeks after being heinously betrayed and potentially exposed to STDs for eleven years.

      • I talked mine into going to counseling upon finding our about his affair. He was fully expecting a wreckonciliation, I was working to build the best post-divorce communication possible because I was hoping we could both put our kiddo first post-divorce…

        Guess who could not follow through on the commitments and plans he helped shape and promised to adhere to during the sessions…??? Time and time again he tried to find excuses for why he was unable to keep his word while at the same time pretending he wanted to keep the family together.

        Needless to say that our co-parenting therapy didn’t last long… The only positive side is how helpful it is to still see that therapist on my own to process all the mindfuck and endless shit sandwich buffet of having bred with a cheating lying coward…

  • Dear Worth More ( and YOU, most certainly are)!I am so sorry for all the pain you are going through and for your child’s pain.
    CL and CN understand your pain. It is lickened to open heart surgery with no anaesthetic!
    Your cheater is not providing you the opportunity of doing the pick me dance. Perhaps that is a good thing.
    My Mr. Lovenuts cheater allowed me to do that. I loved him, I truly did. My DDay was years ago, there was no CL, no CN to guide me. I remember feeling so alone, so devastated. My child was too young to know my sorrow and I was in the first trimester of pregnancy. I felt I had no one to confide in.
    In your time of need I am so glad there is a CL and a CN to be there for you. They have your hand and your back. They will guide you. They are mighty. Their life experiences have not broken them. They have only made them stronger!
    Please give your son a kiss and a hug from each one of us in Chump Nation and hugs to you, Sweet Lady! You can do this, you are not alone!

    • I pickmedanced my heart out for over 8 months only to discover he had a whore on the side the whole time. Especially humiliating for me. I kicked him out, filed, and got my self-respect back.

  • WorthMore

    Having a lifetime erased in an instant with a simple statement is crushing. The pain is unbearable. We can’t just turn off our feelings with a switch.

    The disordered have this ability and often never attached from the beginning. It’s a long process grieving the loss of what you believed to be a loving husband and father. Take care of yourself and know this has to do with power and control.

    Take your power back by hiring a lawyer and filing. Don’t discuss anything with him as he does not have your best interest in mind. Find a support system, a friend/family and therapist. Draw up a settlement that supports you needs. Give the fucker consequences.

  • During those moments of ‘what if …’, I knew things might have come out differently if I’d been tougher on my ex, more demanding, more vigilant. Basically if I’d required him to at least LOOK as invested as I was, to at least ACT like a caring person.

    Then I realized that I didn’t want to be that person who is tough on her husband, has to demand and keep an eye out. And that I certainly didn’t want to be married to someone who needed that, to keep his commitments to me and to his kids.

    • The problem with narcissists, though, is that partnerships with them can only last as long as we remain co-dependent and accommodating. It’s precisely when we start to stand up for ourselves and get tough with boundaries that they escalate the devalue and discard.

      In some ways I think the abandoners who cut and run without a look back are the biggest cowards in the bunch. They know that they’re looking at the end of the kibble supply, as well as various other consequences, and they can’t handle it so they make their exist ASAP.

      • I have certainly thought this about XH, a cut-and-run type. Frankly, I think he was a little bit afraid of me, knew I was a badass and would not NOT kick him out of the house when I found out about OW. — I think he also knew that if he got involved with counseling with him, I would go to the ends of the earth to try to save our marriage, if it could be saved.

        But he was never going to be “that guy” — he took the easy road. No work, no effort, just couch it all in a “I never loved you, but I love her, she’s my soulmate” claim and walk away.

      • 100% Other Kat. This is my ex-husband to a “T”. As soon as I started putting less energy into my narcissistic husband and his dreams and standing up for my own goals and ambitions that’s when the devaluing started and soon I was discarded. As a friend told me “your light got so bright he couldn’t stand the shadows”. His affair was discovered and he cut and ran so fast, my mind still spins about it a year later. You are right these types are the biggest COWARDS of them all. He knew I wasn’t going to “pick me” dance. He knew I would never give him the ego kibbles he wanted because I no longer respected or wanted him. He moved out while I was at work and now we’re divorced and it’s over. No kids = no contact! Divorce was quick as I took others advice and moved quickly to file and settle while his shame was high.

        It took me a long time to wrap my mind around the mindfuck of him just abandoning and going on his merry way without so much as a backwards glance. But now I can tell you that he did me a favor exiting this way. Sure it hurts in a different way than those that come back to wreckoncile, but truly in the end it forced me to realize something: I got a clean slate, a complete opportunity for a do over. It forced me to create a new life for myself 100% without him. He didn’t try to keep stringing me along, so thus the cord was cut and here I am rebuilding my life. I refocused my energy and realize I deserve better. There was no more manipulation or him trying to confuse me when his actions and words didn’t match. He let me go, and I flew away onto a life all my own.

        • My STBXH and I reconciled and the marriage survived another 3 years. I thought I was lucky. I was so proud of my ability to pick me dance and carry 80% of the marriage and parenting load, and I was willing to do it until death do us part. Wreckonciliation lasted until the day I stood up to him. I said I would no longer keep quiet about his parents’ efforts to alienate their grandchild from their ex-son-in-law. He left me only a few days later. He now lives in their basement, just up the street from me, and they all pretend I am the nut job. He tells everyone what a sad sausage he is and how the marriage failed because, like so many couples, we argued about sex. He doesn’t tell them that what we argued about was the fact that he cheated on me, again, demanded an open marriage, and joined a local sado-masochism club (within 5 days of me standing up to him). Now he and his parents have my kids (age 8 and 10) every other week, and when the kids come back to me, they insist that I should reconcile with him. I have told them about the cheating and the open marriage, but the kids tell me I should just pretend like we are happy so they don’t have to be affected by our separation. Aaarrrrghhhhh!!! Do I have to tell them about the S&M too? My STBXH’s parents are leading members of our church and his father was a chaplain in the Navy, but I have proof that his father solicits strangers (men) for sex on Craigslist. Do I tell them about that too, so they know what pretending to be happily married looks like? I have kept that family’s secret for 3 years, but I don’t want to anymore. Once the divorce is final (in 6 months) I am going to expose all their lies and go completely NC.

          • Telling pre-teen about S&M seems like a big weight for them. The thing they need to know is that cheating is a deal breaker for you. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but in time they will gain enough life experience to get what he did. Right now they are being forced into the middle by assholes they love and it’s so hard at that age to reconcile that kind of BS. That’s why it is abusive.

            My vote is, no scary details for now. Honesty without adding shocking things is enough in the long run.

            • Gorilla, I agree with Amisfree; you can sympathize with how hard all this is on them, but make it very clear you will not stay in a marriage where you are disrespected and not loved or appreciated, AND you hope they won’t either, if they find themselves in this kind of situation when they are adults.

              You don’t need to prove to the kids how awful he is; you need to just keep on standing up for yourself. That is what they’ll understand, in time, and come to respect.

          • Hi GorillaPoop — I too love your name.

            My friend, I wonder you would like to move far, far away from those bad people?

        • Jeannie, “Sure it hurts in a different way than those that come back to wreckoncile, but truly in the end it forced me to realize something: I got a clean slate, a complete opportunity for a do over.” I think the cognitive dissonance that another round of love bombing would have actually driven me totally crazy, as it was in the end I was pretty much depleted.

      • You could be right. I had started to push back a tad the last two to three years and it was during that period that he started cheating. Maybe it was because I got tired of always giving him what he wanted only to have him still not be happy anyway. I pushed for and got my way on a couple of things and suddenly he decides I don’t love him anymore so time to find someone new. The thing is, I get the impression Schmoopie is as bad as him. Right now he is in woo the new woman mode, but eventually they will both be demanding to their way in everything and how is that going to work out? I think he actually believes that the two of them will just always be in agreement on everything and so nobody will ever have to compromise. Seems like wishful thinking to me.

        • Chumpinrecovery, ” I think he actually believes that the two of them will just always be in agreement on everything and so nobody will ever have to compromise. Seems like wishful thinking to me.” This is exactly what happened to x and his new twu lurve. They were the same type of cheating f*ckwit and in the end she wanted a sugar daddy and he wanted a sugar baby, only each of them was wrong about the other. x thought once he had her, she would be satisfied with his “awesomeness” and she thought that once I and the kids were out of the picture, x could “finance” her with “all” the money that the kids and I were bleeding him from. I find that so hilarious, because I knew exactly how much he made and how much he would hate to use any of his precious money on her after he got her. They truly deserved each other, but she wised up and went back to her very stupid, cheater, husband. These freaks cheat on each other and pay each other back and then they start all over again. x definitely deserved that kind of “happiness”.

  • The sewage we have to wade through makes us feel dirty inside and worthless. This makes our ex and our former illusions look more glorious than they are. In time, you realize that the sewage stayed on the outside. We AREN’T the crap we had to wade through.
    We are clean. We stayed honest. We have always been compassionate.
    And after we’ve had the time to heal from this trauma, we realize we’re whole.
    They can’t take that from us. No matter how hard they try.

  • I think I am in the bargaining stage of grief myself. I am so frustrated that I am hurting and not angry. He only contacted me thru my lawyer to ask for his cable boxes back. No efforts to see the kids he did not even bother to retain an attorney of his own. He left us and a majority of his possessions behind. I ran his credit and he took out a couple of personal loans and 2 withdrawals from his 401k. I am waiting on the suponea for his bank statements . In the meantime we were going without and low on food as I assume he was supporting another household and he may or may not have a child with this person. To find out that he never loved me and I was just a financiall source is devastating but the humiliation of him acting as if we don’t exist is mind blowing! Thankfully I kept my finances separate. I still feel like a piece of garbage and secretly hoping he makes contact so I get validation that he has not completely left us behind.

    • You are just lucky you kept your finances separate. Be very grateful for making such a wise choice. I have a theory that deep down many of us can feel something in our gut telling us things are not right. Sometimes we accidentally make some small, wise choices despite ourselves. Well done! Stay strong! In a few years you will wonder why you wasted so much head space on this bozo!

    • What a horrible person. The good thing is that what he is doing post-separation may in fact work against him. Most 401Ks require the spouse’s signature. If he left paperwork about the 401K behind, you or your attorney should be able to tell whether he has the right to withdraw funds without your notarized signature. My XH the drinker is still the beneficiary of my retirement fund, such as it is; my own plan for retirement sees that money as sort of a savings and so I tap it for major house projects. I still have to get a notarized signature every time I want to take some money out (over 65 and so why not?). So it’s possible that he did some kind of end-run around you.

  • Worth More,

    Your name says it all. You ARE worth more! You didn’t deserve this, your child doesn’t deserve this. Nothing you did or didn’t do or could’ve done makes you responsible for his decision to lie & cheat on you. THAT’S ALL ON HIM! All the “if only’s” in the world isn’t going to change the fact that he is a lying,cheating, selfish sorry excuse for a human being, much less a man.

    For 21 years, I loved and adored my husband and was the best wife & mother that I knew how to be. After the discoveries & the divorce that followed, I was the one crumpled up on the floor crying my eyes out, puking my guts up with the grief of what I had lost…not him. He had already moved on to a different woman because he was “lonely”. As if I wasn’t.

    After finding an awesome therapist and finding CL & CN, I realized I was grieving a false life. What I actually lost was a lying, cheating, piece-of-crap deceiver. In losing the lie, I’m gaining a life & am bound and determined to make the most of it! You will get there too, I promise!

    Follow fellow chumps’ advice…find a kick-ass attorney, start gathering documentation, begin no contact with him as much as possible & if it’s not, keep conversations with him to a minimum (only about your child & business & show no emotion!). Come in here to vent…we have all been through the same thing & will support you.


  • Waffle, people who can put up this kind of a facade are seriously disordered. What happened to you happened to my brother. There was not a single hint that there was anything going on with his wife until one day she acted distant. He ask her if something was wrong and she said she was leaving and she left. She disappeared. She was in and out of her children’s lives so sporadically that they lost all feelings for her. They might see her once a year for an hour. Sometimes it was several years before they would see her. My brother got so angry so quickly that it helped him recover and he was remarried within the year, very happily.
    I am not sure of codependence as much as I am sure you were married to a man who could be that unfeeling. It had nothing to do with you. There is something missing in him. It reminds me of the secretary who steals hundreds of thousands of dollars from her workplace and yet is the perfect secretary in every other way. Look at it this way……your husband is an emotional criminal.

  • WM, don’t feel badly, everyone on here goes through this: “If only I’d…done whatever” this wouldn’t have happened.
    Cheaters cheat because it’s fun, pure and simple. When they get caught, they turn it around and blame it on the victim.

    • Traveling, you hit the nail right on the head. Cheaters are about as deep as a puddle in the desert. It seems so very hard to grasp this concept, but they really do just cheat because it’s fun and they can. There is no depth. About the only time that cheaters have “depth” is when they think up all those cheap shit excuses to blame their faithful spouse.

  • These posts and responses always seem to hit home at just the right moment. As strong as we are, our kind and committed hearts always want to take the blame where is none. Cheating is 100% the fault of the cheater, but in an effort to justify their cruelty, the blame gets kicked right back to us like an overblown soccer ball. All I can say is that we’re so much better without these people who really don’t love us in our lives. Yes, it hurts, but so does a broken ankle. It may take some longer than others, but eventually we all do heal and we feel better. Hang in there,and as so many others have mentioned we’re here for that emotional support. When I feel myself slipping back into the darkness, I read these posts, and they do help. HUGE Hugs…

  • Even if you were an evil witch, he still could have chosen to honestly tell you he was unhappy and divorce you. Instead, he let you believe that everything was fine, continued being intimate with you, and cheated on you. No matter if you were a saint or satan, he still could have chosen to divorce before cheating.

    There’s no amount of good or bad behavior that affects his decision to deceive you. That’s all on him.

    • Exactly!

      Mine even told me that if I wasn’t made a Saint when I died, there was something wrong ~ as he was moving out leaving me like a bag of garbage on the curb.

      18 years of marriage ~ not one hint. Then suddenly gone… with no explanation.

      I saw the explanation about 3 months later ~ she looks like a circus clown!

  • Those first months after the discovery are absolute hell. For me, they seem like a blur, a nightmare that kept repeating itself. It was difficult not to constantly second guess myself and “what I could have done.” The one thing I did well was to protect myself legally and financially. Had I failed to do that, my life would be much different, now. Understand that you are now “the enemy” and that his infidelity probably also extends to your financial well-being.

    Addressing your emotional healing is paramount, but what can happen is that, while you are trying to process the betrayal, your cheating X is doing everything possible to screw you financially. I was dumb about a lot of things, but I was very shrewd about making sure that the money I had worked years to earn did not get stolen from me. In that sense, I treated our divorce very much like a business negotiation.

    There are different opinions about how long it takes to recover from the type of betrayal we talk about here. I know the first year was, for me, an absolute blur of anger, sorrow and confusion. My whole adult life seemed like a lie. X had been my best friend for over 30 year. We had built what I thought was a great life together. And yet, it wasn’t enough, I wasn’t enough. I am not exaggerating when I say it would have suffered less grief if I had buried, rather than divorced, him.

    For me, the three year mark is when I began to enjoy my life again. Now, I was in a very long term marriage and I had spent my entire adult life trying to be the “perfect” wife and mother. It took me a long time to change my way of thinking; I am sure others have transitioned much more quickly. My point is these things don’t happen overnight, understanding takes time. It is completely acceptable to give yourself time to heal, so long as you protect yourself in the process.

    • Violet
      Brilliant reply. I think I still find those first months traumatic to think about. I don’t really like to remember the extreme shock. I found my stash off notes and journals from that time yesterday and it was surreal the little bit I read. The pain, the confusion, the desperation was so clear it hurt all over again.
      So lucky this site is here to get us thinking through and past this pain just at the time our Cheats are taking advantage all over again, faking remorse, trying for reconciliation, feathering a new nest with proceeds from the first.

    • Well put, Violet!

      I think it took me about a year to a year and a half to get over the shock. It does take some time to process the various stages of grief.

      That time probably gave him what he needed to shield various finances from me and I know it gave him time to position the company we ran together as operating at a loss.

      I have often thought it would have been wise to get the financial portion of the piece going earlier in the game and worry about processing the loss later… although it’s hard to think clearly about finances while you’re grieving, so that likely wasn’t possible.

      A friend, who is a lawyer, told me it takes 3 to 5 years to recover financially from a divorce. For me, this timeline seems about right, if you start it at D-Day.

      I spent the first year and a bit grieving, the following year or so reaching financial settlement, and the 6 months following financial settlement looking for a job and a house.

      I got the job and the house, so a little bit into the 3 year mark, I was starting to stabilize. It will easily be another year to year and a half to feel completely stable financially, which brings us to about 5 years.

      Emotionally, although I’ve left the country that I lived in with the narc, and have a new love, and things are good, some neuroses still rear their ugly heads from time to time, that I know have to do with trust issues. I think the emotional piece will outlast the financial stabilization by a longshot. In fact, I will never be the same as I was prior to D-Day, emotionally. But that’s OK.

      I’d rather have battle scars and be generally happy and wiser, than stick in that sham of a marriage for one more second!

    • My story also seems to sit around the three year mark. I thought I was in pretty good shape at two years, but in hindsight that might have been generous and me pushing myself to be “over it.” This May will be three years, today would have been another anniversary, and I really truly do not care.

      • I agree NWB. I am just past the two-year mark and was determined to be a bad-ass and be “over” the betrayal at year two. But issues still crop up that make me think, “Uh, oh, that’s something I hadn’t thought of before,” and my X, Switzerland friends, and the cold brutality of betrayal still occupy way too much of my headspace every day. Now, some of it is my fault (hip-deep in ideas for advancing the Chump Revolution), but the thoughts are not purely academic–there is still anger and resentment and dismay and grief-at-what-should-have-been along with the pure cognitive judgments. I still have at least half a year of processing, from the sound of it.

      • and I’m sorry you even remembered that today would have been an anniversary.

        • It’s not bad. I almost missed it — I kept writing “March 11,” “March 12,” at work and thinking… “Hmm, there’s something….” then I remembered. So I’m getting closer. I’ve just sort of decided that how I progress is how I progress and have given up on the “coulda/shoulda/woulda”s of recovery timeline, as well. Personally, I think there will always be little thumbtacks in the carpet of my mind, that I step on once in a while. I had one earlier today and I already can’t remember what it was, that’s how insignificant those little barbs are now — I must be developing very tough-skinned “feet.” 😉

  • Worth More,

    Wow, you have a gift of seeing through all the crap this early in the game. And everyone above is right, it takes time for our emotions/hearts to catch up what our minds know. Use the anger to organize and steel yourself for battle.

    What has not been mentioned in the contacts is your child and his reaction. While your stbx was a dick of epic proportions in springing the”news” on you in front of your son….yep, that SUCKS big. However, it is also a gift. Your son has seen the mask off and knows in his heart that his father is capable of great cruelty. Over time he may soften his stance toward his father, but deep down, he knows. Why is this a gift? In the long term it will give him grit, emotional resilience, empathy, call it what you will, it is valuable. The other gift is that as you walk the pain that is having your life implode, your son will know why you are in pain, and as you move through this pain and gain your “mightiness” your son will see the power of putting one foot in front of the other, of living fully, from devastation to “meh”. Our instinct is to protect our children from this devastation. In the long run, for you to be able to acknowledge your devastation and his, you will strengthen your bonds and you have the opportunity to set healthy relationship goals for both of you. Good luck. It’s a road none of us volunteered for, but the journey takes many of us to the land of “meh” and it is a great place to find.

    • Agree with your comments. My ExH abandoned not only me, but our son. The bond between us is extremely strong as we have endured the pain inflicted upon us together(he’s 21 now). I had sole custody and never had to share him with cheater and his skank. Every Christmas, every life event….all with me and my family. Seven years later, my son no longer remembers ExH ever living in our house. Hope the whore was worth all that he lost.

      I ain’t gonna lie…it takes a long time to heal. But eventually life does get better.

    • Outwest

      My son was here when he told me and saw the devastation his dad put me through….was in fact screaming and crying in his dads face “YOU RUINED OUR LIVES! GET OUT GET OUT GET OYUT!!!!!” It was horrible horrible horrible.
      He is with me and refuses to talk to his dad (has had two conversations with him and they ended in him telling him he is a shell of a man with a dark heart!), and said to me the other day “I am sad mom, but I don’t know him…I want answers from the dad he used to be.” If one more person tells me “A boy needs his father” I will throttle them. A boy needs a healthy minded, empathetic, caring loving father. Not this WRECK of a man he is. When they say “A man needs his father I reply “Well when his real father shows up he can talk to HIM.” I am not keeping him from his dad but I am NOT encouraging a relationship either….and we have a therapy appt. for US weds (yeah I have to sit in a room with the asshole) to talk about this parenting thing an I am going with questions I asked my son to create that HE wants answered…and if his dad can’t even answer those questions for his SON in front of a therapist who can navigate what he needs then he’s a bigger fucker than I thought. My son has a therapy appt thursday and I will be seeing how he reacts to getting therapy nad not forcing him if he isn’t liking it after a couple sessions. He’s really clear: Dad slept with another woman that was not this amazing MOM and wife and he left his family to be with her and doesnt seem to care what hes done. A monkey would understand that is wrong…my son? Is 12 going on 40 with his understanding of love and how life works…and this AINT healthy.

      • Wow, once again I am in awe of your parenting and coping skills, WorthMore! Excellent work getting your kid into therapy for this, and for protecting him but still allowing him his own freedom of choice and thought. He’s very lucky to have you as his mom. He also sounds like a pretty smart kid, himself, so you must be very proud.

      • A son does not need a fuckwit, gaslighting father. There are tons of kids in Chump Nation about the same age who have cut off ties to their cheating parent. It is developmentally appropriate to take strong moral stands on issues in adolescence and the teen years. I have taught parenting classes for over 20 years, and you can tell those people who preach that “a son needs a father” to STFU. (If the new therapist insists on re-unifying son with his father, switch therapists. During my debacle, I spoke to 3 excellent family therapists–to a one, they said not to force my child to see her father because it would increase her feelings of helplessness.)

        • I just got back from my attorney and she said the judges around here MAKE the kid see their dad. I said what if he’s evaluated and proven to be a narcissistic sociopath in capable of supporting his sons emotional well being? She said then it would be more than likely supervised visits. Makes me sick.

          • worthmore, I’m praying that your son will teach the therapist and even the judge what it is to be a man, because that child of yours is more man, than many of the adult aged men out there. Good job on raising a good young man.You are mighty.

          • I have the draft of a letter ready for a chump whose X is suing her for parental alienation. If you want me to adapt the letter for your purposes, email me at [email protected] (I’m a developmental psychologist).

  • Aww, Worth More. I am so sorry. I agree with the prior poster that there is really no good time or scenario for learning this type of truth other than “sooner rather than later.”

    For just one brief moment, I hope you will open your heart to your STBX just long enough to recognize the one kindness he extended to you … he left without apology or regret. Please understand that as difficult as your world is right now, it would be 1000x harder if the person you loved all those years had kneeled down on the ground and cried and begged and promised all the things you wished he would. He would still be the same crappy shit of a person down there on his knees and you would have to find it within to forgive yourself for walking away from him as you should. So in a no contact mental thought experiment only, do give him a heartfelt thank you. Then get pissed. I mean ROYALLY pissed. Use that anger to launch you into action while you seek the settlement you and your son deserve. And on the off chance things don’t work out with schmoopie and he crawls back? Hell to the no!!!

    You sound like you’ve really got it together even this early in the process. I mean, hey, you know how to cook gluten-free! You rock. Yes, there will be second-guessing yourself, grief, anger, and more iterations of those items over and over until you’re done with it all. All I can tell you is you will come out the other side and you will be better for it. A cheater-free life is a fresh start and all things become possible. I send a big hug to you and your amazing son.

    • As always, Dixie brings wisdom: “All I can tell you is you will come out the other side and you will be better for it. A cheater-free life is a fresh start and all things become possible.”

    • Worth More-

      Dixie speaks so much truth here because believe it or not, the best thing he could have done for you was leave and never look back.

      I think my ex wanted to do this but he chickened out at the last minute and I let him. Do you know what that got me? Three years of his no-effort, blame-shifting buffet of wreckconciliation. Three years of my 40s that I will never get back.

      You are so mighty! Get as much as you can while he’s in the throws of building a new life with his true love schmoopie! You want the divorce settled by the time that blows up in his face…and it will blow up!

    • Excellent point – its already hard enough when you’re betrayed by a loved one, but then to be caught up in the mind fuck – it just makes it so much more difficult to move on. Keeps you stuck. And you seem to atleast be moving forward – without him. So good for you.

  • Worth More, this line “He fucked around on me, he traumatized our child, he has been lying and cheating, yet HE wants out???”
    My ex decided he had had enough, it was over.
    I said, “YOU’VE had enough!????? Your the one who screwed around, YOU’re the one who lied!”
    He looked up from the magazine he was reading and with an exaperated look on his face said, “yeah, and what did you do??”
    I, totally self rightiously said, “I stayed”
    He smirked and said, “Exactly!” And went back to reading his magazine.
    Right now he is the asshole that tore the family apart and broke you and your son’s heart. Let him remain the asshole, you can’t fix an asshole, to go back would just make you a door mat and next time he pulls this shit (and if you went back, he would) you WOULD have only yourself to blame.
    You deserve better, yes. But your son deserves SO much more. Your son has no choice in the parents he got. So he got an asshole for a father, he deserves to have a strong mother who teaches him how a strong, independent, and caring woman deserves to be treated.
    You can teach your son how to respect women, and be a man worthy of a good woman. Don’t teach him women are there for his pleasure alone.
    Your son will be much happier and healthier with a healthy and happy mom.
    This is your chance for happiness take it, for yourself, but more importantly; for your son.
    Good luck, you can do this!!

  • Worth More: I am sorry for your pain, and the shock of having been abandoned so quickly. Your cheater probably realized the gig was up, and you and your son were never going to overlook his indiscretions, so he bolted instead of face the music.

    Here’s some “what ifs” to replace the ones in your head:

    -What if my STBX husband had resisted temptation from another woman?
    -What if my STBX husband was a person with good character?
    -What if my STBX husband had the capacity for remorse?
    -What if my STBX husband had not emotionally abused me for years?
    -What if I had married a man who was actually capable of love and loyalty?
    -What if I had catered to then-husband at the expense of everything else in my life, including having a baby? Would I still be married? Would I want to be?

    And going forward:
    -What if I eventually have stress-free days where no one is criticizing me for small, piddly things?
    -What if I discover new hobbies that I love?
    -What if I re-connect with friends from my past, who I let slide to the wayside while trying to please someone who could not be pleased?
    -What if I give myself the gift of self-care, and feel a moment of joy each and every day?
    -What if son and I grow closer through adversity?
    -What if I fully comprehend how moral my son is, to excoriate his father and remain loyal to me?
    -What if I go on to live a much fuller life, filled with people of integrity, than I ever could have remaining married to a fuckwit?


    • I’m a “list” girl, myself, so of course, I love these.
      After Dday, I got one of those big paper easels like one uses at business meetings, and I wrote down every could/should statement that came to mind and told myself I wasn’t allowed to repeat myself. Over time, as I looked at the list and realized how ridiculous it was, the could/shoulds came less and less frequently.

      We all find our tricks, what works for us, but it’s a process no matter what.

    • Thank you, Tempest! This is the best What-If list ever. EVER.

    • What a great list – post it somewhere to remind yourself that its his loss, not yours. You got saved, it’ll take time to realize this.

  • Worth More- This happened to me, not exactly, but the hit and run. I have lost two years of my life, wallowing in grief and “if only” speculation.

    I could have earned another degree, lost weight, wrote a book, or traveled the world. Here is what I wish I had done. You may think you cannot do it- but by hook or crook if you can-
    Disappear. Take your son and go.

    Do I sound crazy? Impulsive? Reckless?

    I am telling you. Make copies of all important documents. Put them in a bank safe with your valuable and heirlooms. Pull out all the money that you can. Pack bags. Go see every good divorce lawyer in the area for a consult so they cannot represent him. (Conflict them out) Pick the one you sense is the most vicious to the point of scary and retain them. Have them send your Husband a letter that HE is to vacate the house permanently while you are “away”. His intentional infliction of emotional distress is harming your son and your health.

    Tell your attorney you are taking a rest cure for a few weeks. They will understand. They will get the wheels started for you. And go. Only tell someone who will never tell him where you are. I mean, make this happen in one week or less. Until you leave, don’ t speak to him.

    Here’s why: It is practically impossible not to want to contact him. It just is. You were having sex in the shower after dinner. That is a high level of intimacy. And poof! your life is gone.

    Unless you were a alien, there is no way you will not want to scream at him, cry hysterically , analyze, rehash, sob, beat him up…research this woman down to her DNA. Tell her that your husband & you WERE having sex. It is human. And guess where it all leads? To years wasted. Obsession. Being alternately dead/hysterical inside. Sobbing in the gluten free grocery aisle.

    To be a bystander of a preening peacock prancing his affair partner in your face.

    It is taking back control. It is the only thing that will make YOU feel like you are control. I know many people will warn of prudence. Fuck prudence. I say……tell your son you are going a a grand adventure. Find the money. And go. Make your husband wonder what the hell just happened. . Have him served and he will have no way to contact you and bully or berate you. Just silence.

    Chumps always play it safe. We stay home and run the Dyson and pay the power bill and make sure everybody has their snack. To explain “why” you had him served. To explain “why” you deserve half of his retirement.

    But you can’t get your arms around the truth of it until you get out of the orbit of a sociopath. They actually do have a supernatural ability to charm, influence and make you insane. And yours sounds scary. He is Mr. Ultimate Cake. Having sex with his wife, his dick still wet and he is texting someone else? (Ask me how I know about that nightmare).

    You will not be the one waiting by the phone. Desperately checking for a crumb of a text. You will be the mysterious woman, in the markets of Casablanca and your son will pick up Arabic and be pampered by everyone you meet.

    I knew this was the answer when this first happened to me. I knew it, but I was too busy fiending on the hopium pipe. I constructed elaborate fantasies about him and me. I was too busy hoping he would appear, sobbing and begging for my forgiveness. Guess what….he never appeared. Not even a email! (Yes, this still shocks me. We used to have sex all night…initiated by him) He fucked an Oompa Loompa for months while I wasted my life.

    Fuck money. You can always make more. Fuck what people say. They are not in your life.

    The wallop of pain that comes when you digest that they mean to stay with their AP……being in the same environment where you shared space makes it more horrific. You say over and over: Why doesn’t he miss me? Us? My French toast? My face? My smell? WHY DOESN’T HE MISS ME?

    Seeing a new place, seeing thousands of new faces…help you grasp- they are billions of other people in the world, and your life does not end because a selfish scary sociopath decided he wanted to throw everything away for some strange.

    It helps you see past your own sad life. Because….you are not THAT chump…digging through FB for clues. You are a woman who just showed her son the magic of Costa Rica. Or NYC. Or whatever else on your bucket list.

    Also, (this is not why you should do it) but why not make him wonder what YOU are up to? Mine did not care….but maybe yours has a few human synapses firing. Switch it up and serve that mofo a big plate of crazy and see how he likes it.

    He is a sickness you must escape from for a while so you can think clearly. Like an evil vapor. Become unreachable and unfindable.

    Oh Worth More, I would give my little pinkie finger to have followed my own advice. I have wasted away so many years on a fool who cared for my feelings no more than the lion heeds the cries of gazelle as it eats his intestines. Don’t be be like me.

    • Butterbean,

      I love love love your post! It is filled with passion.

      The sooner we realize that we don’t have to remain “victims”, the sooner we take back control of our life and be the master of our fate. And that is when we realize that escaping the half-measured life (or is it lie???) is the best thing that could ever happened to us.

      Worth More, you are an amazing woman. I can tell that you’re a great mother. You and your son will be OK. Better than OK. You will be happy again before you know it. Trust yourself and march toward freedom! Ask yourself what it is that you want out of this life and pursue it. Waste no more energy and love on pathetic people. Nourish yourself. Grow.

      A better, more authentic life awaits. Seize it.

    • Butterbean, please don’t kick yourself for floundering for however long and playing it safe. You’re obviously mighty. Just show yourself and kid(s) the magic of your bucket list places now. It’s not too late.

  • Worth more
    One other thing. If you know, as you already seem to, that this is all on him, it’s nothing to do with who you are and everything to do with who he really is, then you will be well placed to reject isn’t of the blame and the shame that others might try to make you carry.
    The shame and the blame belong 100% to him but there are unfortunately people who you will meet going forward that might feel that part of the problem might have been ‘the relationship’ i.e. You.
    I think that was the most important message I got from chump nation in the first few weeks. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my fault. It was nothing I did or didn’t do. It wasn’t the way I was or wasn’t. It wasn’t how I looked or didn’t look. It wasn’t if I worked or didn’t work. That helped me tell people in such a way that I got support from the right people. It’s usually a mixed bag I think of responses from friends and family but not accepting any part of the responsibility for his cheating is vital to your well being going forward. You are worth more and it’s not on you.

    • THIS-

      The shame and the blame belong 100% to him

      I know at the time of my DDay that it took months to get to this point but once it finally sinks in, it is like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. There is nothing that you did or didn’t do Worth More……it was ALL your cheater and his poor decisions.

      Take your precious son & be a mighty mom!
      There is an amazing, authentic life ahead for both of you

      Ask me how I know….my boy & are doing so much better after ditching my ex Mr. Runswithhookers

      You can do this & we will be here for you
      Big Hugs!!

  • Talk about support. Holy shit. Thank you so so much. Three days after he walked out (and never came back to our home except to pick up his stuff and once to have a conversation about our child) I got an attorney…..he’s a pit bull for women who have been cheated on, five days after he left I opened two new bank accounts, got my credit score (perfect), had him put my name on ALL house bills in case anything happens to power in a storm, alarm company etc, I saw our therapist for clarification of my emotions (yes, we were in therapy and I found out he asked me to start therapy AFTER he was involved with her), the following week I saw two more therapists over the week to discuss my co dependent behavior and move on from it, got my kid a therapist since he witnessed the whole thing, I put all his shit out on the porch 8 days after he left and had a PI on his ass within 4 days to get visual proof that he had another woman (bingo). I have all records in writing about him having slept with someone and getting STD tested ONLY after I asked him to FOUR times (Mine were done 5 days after I found out and I am all clear). The house is mine, the bills are being paid, I have access to a CC which he is paying in full each month, my car lease is being paid. Financially I know what I deserve by state law. So I am about 39 days into this mess and feel like I don’t even know this man as my 16th wedding anniversary creeps up. I am going to go back and re read every single post you guys wrote over and over. This man is a monster..I told him I wouldnt take him back if it came with a million dollars so he could stop the ego chatter that he “thinks” I would….because I don’t know who HE is anyway. He is a stranger to me and my son. Thank you again and thank you Chump Lady for this forum. Your book has helped me sleep at night and it is being recommended to some fellow chump friends. <3
    Worth More and KNOWS it.

    • Worth more!
      Fuck me. You should be giving US advice!!!
      You super rock. You are this mighty after 39 days! I am awestruck. You must be some kind of record. Good on you. ❤

      Any other chumps feeling a bit more chumpish….?

      • Maybe Worth More is what chumps look like in the future when the message from CL has permeated thoroughly through society.
        Chump evolution in action!

        • Capricorn, I like that notion! I was thinking about this very thing the other day.

          If CL’s ethical and sharp reasonings spread, I predict many good things will become of mental health and ethics, or at least how well “pickers” work and how to fend off the co-dependency that WorthMore (and most of CN) is suffering about.

          I now look back at my STBXH’s family: after almost 40 years of family life with my in-laws, it came to be that all of them (eight brothers and father-in-law) turned out to be cheaters of some kind: of wives, of business partners, and/or of siblings and friends. How did I think my ex would not follow the trend?

          My own mother cheated on my father (about money and men) and my own brother tried to get my father declared mentally unfit to get his insurance for a business (I stepped in and the judge listened to me).

          I neither prayed nor watched (I like the parable about the Wise and Foolish Virgins). I was smug and spackled for the reasons Tracy lists: control and resistance to change.

          But now my evaluation standards are guided by Tracy’s explanation in a past blog (I’ve added some situations) about the stupid shit the Entitled say and do:

          ‘Colonization of peoples, slavery, discrimination, stealing public money for my saintly political party, dead-beating my brothers, being a bratty jealous jerk, cheating and infidelity: all this is the same entitlement shit. All these dynamics are universal to anyone in any system trying to gain unfair advantage over another. “You don’t deserve voting rights, you’re not ready yet.” “Your skin is too dark”. “I deserve to cheat”.

          The entitled will always seek excuses as to why their entitlement is Right and Proper. Once entitlement is understood as a toxic power dynamic, you’ll understand why the shit said by the Entitled is so UNIVERSAL.’

          And if we understand what our cheaters are up to we can fix our pickers, co-dependency, etc.

          Worth More, we ARE worth more, but we need to fix our standards. This is THE place for this.

    • Well, you certainly have YOUR shit together, WM! Excellent work!

      If I may offer a bit of advice, which may or may not be relevant to you: I behaved fairly similarly quickly to you. I got from Dday to divorce in 47 days but only because we didn’t have kids, so the legal stuff was easy. — The point is, for me anyways, focusing on the “To Do” list kept me moving, so I didn’t have a lot of extra energy for wallowing. And once that was all finished (again, no children, so I didn’t have that constant insistence not to focus on just myself), it all sort of collapsed on me emotionally. Sure, I had righteous anger (“After everything I did for him, this is how he treats me?!?!??”) but I was just in a hole for a long long time.

      This may not be relevant to you, you sound like a badass. But I know that, from the outside, people thought I was a badass, too, and I was falling apart inside. If that happens to you, try to remember to be forgiving of yourself.

      • I was the same. I cried a lot but I was determined and I had an excellent lawyer who wouldn’t let me vacillate. I powered through the divorce and got him and his mother out of my house. Then I fell apart and it is taking a while to put myself back together again.

        • Same here. Powered through the divorce once I made up my mind. I drafted up a fair settlement which she signed when she was still feeling guilty. It took only several weeks and the ink on the divorce decree was dried (we had no kids). I feel like it was as clean and as fair of a break as possible.

          Ex wife was shocked and kept asking me what was the rush once she found out the divorce has gone through, and to this day she still asked why I didn’t stick around in her fake remorse rendition. Once the trust was gone, there was nothing left for me. But yeah, the emotional attachment to her, however bad, lingered, and I definitely had days that were bad. But I got used to them and recognized that they were just negative emotions that can be felt, then things slowly got better. No contact really does help severing the heart strings.

          I’m now in the rebuilding process, and it is scary and exhilarating. Everyday she becomes a smaller part of my life as I rebuild my life purpose, and with the help of family, friends, and most importantly myself. This past week (3 months post divorce) for the first time I didn’t think of the crappy divorce first thing in the morning. It helped that I went on a nice date the night before 🙂

          I think that NWBiblio hit the nail on the head in saying “remember to be forgiving of yourself”. You sound like a super woman and you are so capable of getting things done. Just take time and be kind to yourself. And you will thrive!

          • Great post Dan. Honest and sincere about the reality. And good for you for going out on that date. Get out there and have fun.

    • Wow Worth More-
      That’s some Rambo style chump action going on!
      You got this!

  • This is such an interesting discussion.

    And what particularly interests me is how what people call “codependence” is, like bargaining, a way to be in control of things we can’t and don’t control. It’s easy, at almost 4 years out now, to see that my initial objective of “getting Jackass back” or “being friends” or any other the other “bargains” I hoped for would have been cataclysmically bad for me. But 36 days in (as Worth More is) and most of us are all hoping to get the old life, the old bargains, the old illusions back, because starting over means that life itself seems out of control. Six months after D-Day and Jackass was still the focal point of my thoughts. I was either desperately hoping he would leave MOW, desperately hoping he would change his mind and see my worth, or desperately trying to show that I could have a life without him. Sometimes all of those things at once. He did me the huge favor of refusing to talk to me and that “no contact” gave me the precious gift of time to get through the bargaining stage and start to understand that it wasn’t me. That I was dealing with a disordered person.

    The other strand of this process was figuring out what I was doing with a disordered person and how that impacted my own growth as a human. A good friend advised me to do what he called a “relationship autopsy,” to go back not just into the Jackass thing, but all the way back to see the common threads in my relationships with others, but in particular with men. One obvious pattern was that I chose people who were not whole (in the main alcoholics/substance abusers but also narcissists and others who aren’t good at or truly available for relationships). Another obvious pattern was how I put my own life and needs on hold or to the side in order to make a life or home with such a person or simply just to date them. But that process came later, after I had fully accepted that I could not go back to Jackass or anyone like him, and that to move forward in my life meant that I had to change.

    There’s a scene in a famous short story (I think it’s in “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker) in which the an adult daughter in the story sets the table for dinner; the daughter puts the chipped plate at her’s mothers spot at the table because the mother always gave herself the chipped plate, always gave everyone else the best stuff and took the leftover and chipped up and worn out for herself. That’s an image to ponder. We see “self-less” as the opposite of “selfish.” But we do ourselves terrible damage when we don’t see ourselves as just as worthy as our spouse, our kids, our other relatives, our friends, and the people down the block. And we don’t make our families stronger by teaching others that we eat last. On a chipped plate. Once all the good food is gone. Maybe nobody eats until everybody sits down. Maybe we all take turns eating off that chipped plate or giving up the extra piece of cake to the person who had a bad day.

    The problem with codependency is that we are too focused on fixing others or giving them the good stuff that we take a pass on living to our own potential. Even after years of therapy and reading all the “codependent recovery” stuff, it took being chumped to really see that in order to have a relationship between equals, both parties have to do their share. I can’t be both halves of the relationship. And while I wanted to fix my picker and get back into a relationship [eyes rolling], CL’s emphasis on empathy and reciprocity in relationships, along with my study of narcissistic types, led me to see that fixing my picker required me to focus on me.

    All this to say that what infidelity does is show us that we are married to or in relationship with someone who is not capable of empathy or reciprocity or honesty or commitment. And once we see that, there is no un-seeing it. Wishing to get a jackass back would just leave us with a jackass. We have to understand what the other person’s 1/2 of the relationship was and how far short of acceptable it turned out to be before we take up the question of why we were with that person in the first place.

    • LovedaJackass

      Copied this. Just one of the best posts ever.
      Thank you. For everything and that’s a lot. ❤

    • LAJ, you really knocked it out of the park with this one. Good advice for the newly chumped, but profound wisdom and perspective for those of us who are several years out, as well.

      Beautifully stated and realized. I love your brain. <3

    • A fellow chump told me to write a two-sided list. On side one – put all the things cheater did to help stay no contact. On Side two – list all the things you deserve and want in a relationship. This post does a great job reminding us not to made our “side two” list a long recounting of unrealistic “if only” things we coulda/shoulda/woulda done. CYCLING repeatedly on “If only” kept me stuck for two years because I thought I could control things
      His (or her) choice to cheat was a SOLO DECISION THAT DECIDED YOUR FUTURE

    • In regards to codependency, I asked my therapist, maybe we can still be “friends” hang out, I mean he was my best friend, how do I let that go? She said, you are in bargaining, it’s grief, pretend he died, and you are asking if maybe you can dig up his cold dead body, prop him up in the living room with you, to watch the shows you enjoyed together. It made me laugh, and it made sense, especially the pretend he’s dead part 🙂

      • Oh that’s hilarious! … And excellent advice.

        Thanks for that. Friends? Nope.

  • He is not your friend. Treat him as the enemy. He has aligned himself with his affair partner. It is now THEM against you. Hard to except, I know. I had access to my husband’s and the OWs back and forth conversations for months. It was all plotting to get the best possible outcome for themselves. I was referred to as the bitch, cunt, whore I was the wife of a 22yr long marriage and innocent party. Get yourself the meanest, most aggressive attorney you can find. Go for everything and don’t let up. They are plotting daily against you They laugh about making your life miserable. It’s time to protect yourself and your child. Get a temporary child support and spousal support in motion. One place to cause them pain is the pocketbook. Go “grey rock” and keep him at arm’s length. He will attempt to empty accounts and sell property. Make sure there is a “freeze” on all assets. Keep a log on everything that is going on even gossip.

    I was with my X 29 yrs and married for 22 yrs. We raised 2 children together. Once he made the choice to leave I was nothing to him. He abandoned the children also. It’s like they quit one life and start another. The other women considers you a roadblock to their happiness. She’ll be actively trying to ruin your reputation and how you mother your child. Now is the time to change sadness to anger and fight for your rights. Get a therapist to help you deal with the worst of it. Post here often to vent and get advice. You have found out your husband’s true face. This is a hard road but there is a good life beyond. I wish you well on this journey.

  • Dear Worth More… he filed first to try to get ahead of the narrative on the divorce and his adultery.

    I hope you get yourself an AMAZING pitbull lawyer.

    And remember, that quickie in the shower PROVES beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is as deep as a puddle… in theory, he was cheating on you AND her… and you deserve a man much, much better than that on your worst co-dependent day.

    Channel your righteous anger into your divorce. Nail Mr. Gluten-Free’s ass to the wall.

    You’ve got this.

  • Worth More, You Rock Sweet Lady!
    Spunk, you got it! You are gonna be fine!
    With CL and CN beside you all the way this cheater is going to melt into oblivion.
    YOU are mighty!

  • If I have such amazing control over my husband that I can make him cheat… wouldn’t I choose to make him NOT cheat?

    And how is it exactly that I control him? manipulation? subliminal whispering? mind control? whipping sessions?

  • Well, I feel like a complete dunce trying to post after others here have had such wise words and good advice, and also after reading that you’ve really got the ball rolling and are taking necessary steps to protect yourself and your family (attorney? check. PI? check. therapist? check.). Impressive.

    But I would just add a couple of things:
    1. The first thing that jumped out at me about your story (well, after its similarity to my own) is how he made his big announcement with your child (& friend!) in the house!! — If you ever, in the future, have any doubt about his worth, you need look no farther at a man whose impulse-control is so POOR that he can’t even keep himself from having his own needs met (relief) to disclose the affair when your own son is sitting right there!! — Jesus, your son has better impulse-control than that!

    2. Control control control — that’s what it was for me, the grieving. If I blame myself, then I can control Life and what happens to me. This thing happened because I did X; if I no longer do X, then this thing will not happen to me again. Umm, no. It has taken me a long time to understand the extent to which we actually have very little control over our own lives and none at all over the behavior of others. As a doctor (vet), I understand this: What did my dog do to get cancer? Nothing. It just happens. But those owners want to KNOW so they can prevent this from ever happening to any of their other pets. — Alas, it doesn’t work that way.

    3. On a more ethereal plane: I heard a TED talk the other day about the subjunctive tense of language (most basically “could/should/would”). The speaker, whose parents speak Vietnamese (which lacks a subjunctive tense), was trying to explain to his parents how it works. He said, “If it hadn’t rained on Saturday, we WOULD have gone to the beach.” His father’s response, “That’s stupid. Why think about things you didn’t even do?” …. The speaker’s theory is that the subjunctive tense in our language sets us up for regret. We are better off focusing on what did and didn’t happen (indicative tenses), rather than floating around in the ephemeral world of could/should/would. — Interesting concept. Here’s the link:

    In the end, I don’t know if I’m codependent or not. As LAJ so beautifully expounded on above, the definition is loose. I was part of what I thought was a caring committed relationship. I don’t mind a little “chipped plate” now and then, as long as the other person is also willing to take the chipped plate once in a while. I did draw boundaries, and I think that’s what finally pushed XH out the door: my insistence he honor his word about curtailing his ever-expanding work schedule (where OW worked, not coincidentally, I’m sure). In hindsight, COULD I have been “nicer” and let him continue to come and go as our marriage, and my own happiness, continued to be slip down his list of priorities? Sure. But I WOULDn’t go back and change a thing. I gave when I needed to give, and I stood up when it was time to stand up.

  • Worth More,

    You wrote:
    “He fucked around on me, he traumatized our child, he has been lying and cheating, yet HE wants out??? I feel unloved and empty and can’t believe I am letting this asshole make me FEEL anything less than HAPPY HE’S GONE.”

    Yes, all that is normal given your horrific circumstances. Piece by piece.

    “He fucked around on me, he traumatized our child, he has been lying and cheating, yet HE wants out???”

    Yes, that’s what he said. Now, there are two possibilities, each bad. They are:

    1) He didn’t have the cohones to sit down with you and have a tough discussion about why he was unhappy in the marriage, so instead, he started an affair, and then admitted it when confronted hard enough, knowing that would certainly damage the marriage beyond repair.

    2) He does want to stay married, and still have affairs. He just wants you to do the ‘pick-me’ dance, to work even harder at pleasing him and doing what he wants you to. By saying he wants out, he hopes you will reflexively refuse that and work harder to make it work (which functionally means do even more things for him and less for you and your son).

    In either event, it sounds like you have your mind made up. Someday you will praise all that is good that he simply wanted out. Give it to him, but not without getting everything you can fight for and want.

    “I feel unloved and empty, …”

    Again, normal. You went in an instant from happily married wife and mother to undesired wife. You will discover, going forward, that it’s not a reflection on you, it’s a reflection on him. The immediate issue is that you thought you had a house build on a solid foundation, and you just discovered it was built on quicksand over a sinkhole. Right now, feeling unloved and empty is normal. A few suggestions:

    1) Sounds like your son totally gets it, is siding with you, and is losing his father in traumatic fashion. The two of you need to focus on your connection. Let son know you’ll be here for him, take care of him, and be a great mom, like you always have been. Comfort him, take care of him, and invest all your love in him. I’d wager significant money that he will love you back, and the two of you may end up even closer than you were. So if you want to feel loved, get it from your son, not your STBX. And take great pride in raising a son with a functioning moral compass – that’s your guidance and support.

    2) You don’t miss your STBX, given what you now know about him. But you definitely miss the idea that the problem of who to raise your son with, who to grow old with, etc., which you thought was solved, is now not solved at all. That’s normal and natural – you should mourn the marriage you thought you had, and at the same time you can be angry at the person your STBX turned out to be.

    “(I) can’t believe I am letting this asshole make me FEEL anything less than HAPPY HE’S GONE.”

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You seem to have the full compliment of righteous anger, which is healthy and normal. Use it to get what you need and go where you need to go, for you and for your son. But you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t grieve what you thought you had and lost. You wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t worry about what the future will hold for a divorced mom with a kid. I’d argue that if you didn’t feel these things, you’d be more like your STBX, self centered and cowardly. So, in a very real sense, you should celebrate that you feel this pain, that the content of your character doesn’t let you treat someone you love like shit. That kind of pain is the price of having a good soul – stuff bothers you. You want the people around you, the people that you love, to be happy and well cared for.

    In short, Worth More, you don’t need tough love. You need gentle, kind love, support, and guidance to help you navigate the quagmire your STBX has unceremoniously deposited you into. And we’re here for you. From your post, it sounds like you have all the external details in a row – good lawyer, control of important stuff, funds to function day to day and week to week during the process, etc. All that is good.

    It seems that you expect that you can somehow be superhuman about expunging your feelings of disappointment and anger that the person you chose to be your life partner didn’t measure up, and ended up failing you and your son in spectacular fashion. Forgive yourself for this human limitation, keep seeing your therapist (the one you choose, maybe not the one you and STBX were seeing, your call). Keep being a great mom for your son. And occasionally, schedule some “me” time. Read a book, take a bath, watch a show you want to watch, go for a bike ride or a jog or hit the gym, just do something to remind yourself that you’re a person with needs, and your needs matter too.

    “What the fuck is wrong with me that I am sitting here thinking, ‘If I hadn’t been so co-dependent our marriage would have worked?’ ” Nothing is wrong with you. The description of your d-day sounds like you were being an awesome mother and wife. (Rewind back to my college days, if someone had told lonely single me with no girlfriend about your future d-day [up until the text and discovery], I would have thought, that’s one great wife – can I meet her today and have that relationship? I certainly wouldn’t cheat on her. I mean, my word, spontaneous discrete shower sex while junior has a friend over – that’s over the top amazing.) I don’t think you’re co-dependant. Maybe I would suggest that everyone eat at the same time, but that’s a minor quibble, and if you’re doing all the cooking, you can pick how you do it.

    I think the harder thing is that you were used to investing a lot of effort and energy in your son and spouse, and now there’s no spouse to invest in. Kind of leaves you holding the bag with nothing to do for ‘spouse’. I’d suggest taking that effort and energy and investing it in ‘you’.

    Bottom line, you’re a catch, Worth More (you said so yourself). But now you’re stuck scraping shit off your shoe with a stick. Sure, be upset about it. Then, when your shoe is clean, toss the stick in the bushes and move on.

    Good luck. Hugs. Peace.

    • I agree, although we beat ourselves up and wonder what is wrong with us…what we really need more than anything is our own love and compassion.

    • Holy shit. (again) this really hit home for me. YES to all. I know I am a rocking mom, I was a kick ass wife: following that motherfucker around Ironman competitions until I have blisters, wearing a kid on my shoulders to see his “daddy” run or swim or bike by (UGH!), making his meals every week so he was in top shape, supporting his Crossfit events when he blew out his knees from Ironman events (let me add he couldn’t be bothered to support my 100 mile bike ride by being present for ME at the finish line). The list goes on and on. Kicking my own ass for giving up my windows for our home which I said “isnt it interesting how I want windows to reduce the heating/cooling bill and keep us safe and you are allowed to spend $5,000 on ONE BIKE that suits YOU and you only used a handful of times? ” ugh ugh ugh You are right. Just need to forgive myself for getting HERE and move on. <3 thank you

        • Heard someone say of previous post, cross fit is full of cheaters or makes cheaters out of people with boundary issues.
          They all think they are Thor cause they can throw a fucking tyre 10 yards, ‘ behold my mightiest’

          • Sorry to bang on look up somatic narcissist, sums up cross fit ironman types.

      • You’ve done a century? Awesome. I’m older and happily remarried, but in another life, you’d be my dream woman.

        From this moment forward, you have everyone’s permission to move ahead without your fuckwit STBX, and make intelligent decisions for you and your boy. Forgive yourself your failing at picking a good spouse, and celebrate your upcoming independence from him.

        Hugs. Peace. (I normally wish others strength too, but you already have more than enough.)

      • You rock, what a douche but like mine you need to realise they will never meet anyone as great as you again and hopefully that grabs what depth of soul they have in the middle of the night and rattles their cage.
        Keep rockin your life.
        I realise in hindsight he was all about him, his music, he was a drummer in a garage band and not a very good one but seemed important as he was an ‘artist’ and needed that 10.000 kit, totally horse shit.
        My first born couldn’t have a nursery because that room was his music studio, have to bitch slap my previous self for letting that go. My friends where like ‘what’
        Doing me now rockin hot new body and kick ass attitude, middle finger all the way.
        Him working 13 days out of 14, drum kit and teen rock star fantasy gone, cooking own meals and struggling to keep his shit locked down.
        Oh well it was a case of ‘pearls before swine’ he was always so ungrateful and for me gratitude is important as it can all be gone in a blink.

    • “The description of your d-day sounds like you were being an awesome mother and wife. (Rewind back to my college days, if someone had told lonely single me with no girlfriend about your future d-day [up until the text and discovery], I would have thought, that’s one great wife – can I meet her today and have that relationship? I certainly wouldn’t cheat on her. I mean, my word, spontaneous discrete shower sex while junior has a friend over – that’s over the top amazing.)” I agree 100%…That was his EVERY day cooked, quickie at lunch etc. Just not good enough I guess. Asshole.

      • “Just not good enough I guess.”

        No, way too good. He’s an idiot.


  • Someone above said something about attachment…It’s not until one of these psychos DE-taches that you realize how UN-attached they were all along. And when you’re a normal person, you attach, and when the attachment breaks, it hurts. Like a motherfucker. That means you’re a real person with feelings, no matter how much you want to be away from them or know they’re no good. So you just keep going like CL says, letting your feelings catch up with your decisions. Slowly, they will re-align. Worth More, it will happen for you!! Just keep going. I remember thinking over and over during that period of shock and devastation, “if you’re going through hell, keep going.” You get re-born in that fire. Hugs to you.

    • My ex seemed to mourn other people seeing him as a “good person” more than anything else.

  • There is physical abandonment, and there is emotional abandonment– both are intensely painful. The emotional abandonment I experienced came in the form of the Silent Treatment and the rewriting of our relationship. My X Asshat was never shy over the 5 years we were together about telling me she was in love with me and “never wanted to be with anyone else”– said that said that I was the love of her life. Said she would never leave me. The last time I heard that she was in love with me and never wanted to be with anyone else was just WEEKS before the affair started.

    Suddenly my loving GF acted like she hated me. I remember feeling very troll-like in her eyes. She treated me with the upmost contempt, like I had some kind of smelly, horrible, contagious disease.

    Of course I did not know it at the time, but this was the beginning of her affair.

    When the affair came to light a year and a half later, X Asshat told me that he was never in love with me, and wanted “out” from day one of our relationship! I was so shocked I didn’t feel the sting from that until a few months later. Then I got pissed. When I presented X Asshat with WTF? I got the Silent Treatment. I received no explanation, no admission of her discrepancy. Shortly after this she completely ghosted me.

    Being ghosted after investing years of our lives with a person we think loves us– and why wouldn’t we… they tell us they do!– is a special kind of hell.

    Cheaters are character disordered people capable of disconnection in a nano second for Better, Shiney, Newer. The new AP is the Cat’s Meow, floating high in the air on the Pillow Of Idealization, and we Chumps become dog shit on the bottom of Cheater’s shoe.

    Two years out and I’m on my way to meh–

    It has

  • I totally understand when first confronted by one’s spouse cheating, going through a shattering that includes feeling something could have been done to prevent the cheating. I certainly thought like this for the first two years of my separation. I was so demoralized that I couldn’t see the big picture. Then, one day, my still husband at the time, said something to me that made me stop and see what a jerk he is. Then I got angry and it was very healthy. That helped me go NC and to get clearer and clearer about what had really happened. It was as everyone has said here – I could have been perfect and he would have still cheated, because that is who he is. Anger led me to file for divorce (should have done it earlier, but …) and eventually to start to see that I am a good person and better off than being with someone who doesn’t respect me or want me to be happy. I have had minor emotional setbacks at times when something else comes to light, but on the whole have built a better life. It will be 6 years from D day this May and it has taken a long time, but I wasn’t capable after 33 years of marriage to detach any more quickly. Just happy it has all moved in the best direction. I think we all have similar stories, just move at different speeds towards Meh. I have so much respect for the journeys everyone on this site have been on.

  • I can’t stand the idea of people faking love. For 24 yrs I lived a lie. He was standing by me having many interchangeable OW in mind. Tricking me to put himself on a superior level. Acting kind with everybody, with any stranger yet mistreating covertly the most significant people in his life. Neglecting emotionally and financially our three children for years, now that I went totally NC, he has suddenly become father of the year even if he never pays a penny for family needs. In the years he has stolen money from me in subtle ways until I found evidence.
    He looks happy and unbeatable. I guess he’s more appealing than me, cheaters are preferred to fixers.
    His unreasonable rages were only for me, his shiny side for all his mistresses: bored neighbors with empty lives, waitresses, shop assistants, his friends’ wives and prostitutes (and he isn’t attractive at all, not one tiny itsy bit).
    Dear Worthmore, who deserves phony love?

  • that is my story too. thanks to your advice i did not contact. a quick and clean divorce.. im still healing.. but in really thankful for your indirects advices.. they have saved my mental health.. what if… im getting over that too.

  • It is so interesting how all these cheaters are the same. Really, the same.
    A northern UK expression is ” he is a bad egg”. I actually now wonder if its true.
    So many stories, all based around the same approach to life, the same poor character , the poor morals.
    I wonder if there is a correlation between age of mother at birth, position in the family etc.
    It seems to me that they all have a form of Aspergers. No feelings for others. totally selfish, sex is all important, no real attachment to their own children.
    Once you move away from the hurt and abuse, it is actually very odd. Maybe our parents generation just had children too old, or there was some sort of post war effect on the next generation?

    • My counselor read some of my ex’s diary and suggested he could have a form of asperger’s. She said he was all about acquisition and didn’t express much emotion, even while writing about schmoopie being the love of his life. LOL

  • I think it would be interesting to get feedback and do some research on a few things. eg
    1/ age of cheater when discovered to be cheating
    2/ position in their birth family
    3/ age of their mother when they were born
    4/ existence of siblings?
    5/ date of birth of cheater
    There are a lot of people on chump lady now. Could be informative?
    Perhaps its a chemical reaction to the introduction of the pill????
    Just a thought.

    • I think that would be interesting to explore as well. I’m not going to give the DOB of my cheater, but will give the other info:

      1. 52
      2. middle child
      3. 20
      4. 3 siblings

  • The lack of closure with the ones that cut and run is tough. There’s no way to work out what happened, or when it started to happen, or what you could have done to stop it from happening.

    It’s been 5 years since D-day for me and just last night I was dreaming of talking to my ex and trying to come to some sort of understanding. I’m not sure the desire to truly understand and be at peace with him will ever go away. What’s funny is I can’t imagine having any kind of satisfying conversation with him when I’m awake.

  • He is an absolute monster. Inhuman. Unevolved ape.

    Tear him apart! Be the Storm. Destroy him.


  • Dear Worth More, I know the shock of losing our “old” lives can be difficult to move past. I’m a little over a year out and still wondering how the man I loved more than anything, cheated, destroyed our 12 yr relationship and 7 yr marriage and now has the OW knocked up. (She sperm jacked him- he didn’t want kids and had broken up with her- when surprise I’m pregnant!) What can I say they deserve each other and all the misery that is headed their way. Anyways- I came across the article last night and it helped me. It’s kind of long, but helpful about how to start healing. Here is the link to the site if it helps anyone else:

    We have been where you are, hang in there. You sound mighty and you are worth more! ?

    When people find it excruciatingly hard to let go it’s not only because they had it really good but also because, usually at the unconscious level, they believe that there is no possibility of life ever being that good again. The one and only daily train to the land of meaning and happiness is no longer in service.

    From the perspective of the psyche, holding on to what is lost keeps what is lost alive. It remains up in the air as to whether the train can be repaired. To the objective observer, and to the rational part of the brain, it’s usually pretty obvious when circumstances have irrevocably changed, and it’s pretty obvious that these changed circumstances are going to disrupt customary patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sometimes there is no going back. But we human beings are not rational creatures, we’re irrational creatures with the built in capacity to think rationally.

    Remaining in a grief holding pattern keeps both the fear of finality and the pressing need to change customary patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors at bay. It’s a solution that comes from the irrational side of our natures. Whether we choose to say goodbye or not, sometimes the situation we loved is gone and it’s never coming back. But by refusing to say goodbye we fool ourselves into believing that our wanted circumstances still exist, or at least that they can be recovered.

    Dreaming a new dream is impossible unless we wake up from the old one. The fundamental error many of us make is in assuming that there is one and only one dream for us, one and only one set of circumstances from which we can derive meaning and happiness. By holding on to what was we continue to derive a modicum of meaning and happiness from the object of our longing, even though it’s just a shade of its former glory, even though it only exists in the private world of our psyches.

    But there are countless sets of circumstances from which we can derive meaning and happiness. Just as multiple rivers flow into the same ocean, multiple possible life paths lead to the same psychological place, a place of meaning and happiness. When we summon up the courage to let go and say goodbye, to accept the finality of the situation, we prime ourselves for myriad possibilities awaiting us that we’re incapable of seeing as long as our vision is clouded by the old set of circumstances. These possibilities, if recognized and pursued, will involve different challenges, different ways of being, but result in the same meaning and happiness we have lost and are yearning for.

  • OK, wothmore, After extensive review of my collection of “You piss me off, you get a very personalized ringtone just so I’m in the right ‘tude because I have to answer,” I’ve found one I humbly offer for your critique:
    “Fuck You Right Back,” Frankee lyrics.

    And if you don’t like that genre of music, I gotta bunch of other musical “attitude adjustments” from which to chose for you to audition.

    Sometimes we just need a little practical help on a daily basis, yk?

    • AWesome. thank you! ha ha! YES I do know sometimes you just need a little help!

  • OK this might be a new one but I still want to know what I did wrong. WHAT DID I DO to deserve this hell I’m stuck in? I’m cute, I work out, I devoted my life to caring for him, baked/cooked from scratch every day of our marriage–I ADORED him and was blindsided and in shock.
    Hub recently wrote me an email saying he never did anything wrong, he was just taking a new life path. A NEW LIFE PATH.
    This after a 25 yr marriage, where he fell in “love” after 2 weeks of meeting his “soulmate” and then wanting us both in a “polyamory” way, abandoning me, our son, and new grandchild. Yes, I filed for divorce and he then said I was blackmailing/extorting him to come home. UH, NOOOO EFFFINNNG WAYYY. The level of insanity and delusion is beyond any good memories of the last 25 years.

    • There is nothing in the world that you did to deserve to be treated this way, BeowulfSabrina! Absolutely nothing!!! Trust that your ex sucks (because he really does). I feel your pain and my brain won’t shut off either, but if we weigh the facts: you filed for divorce and you have refused the invitation to the Pick Me Dance – this makes you mighty!! Let’s get out of this hell together, along with CN, one step and a time.

        • TWO WEEKS? Adolescent lurve relationships take longer than this to consummate, are you kidding? That does not qualify as a “New Life Path” unless that term includes “Terminal Cockitis: Def: verb/ when a mid-life male gets cock-ho’d.”

  • The only “IF ONLY” statement that applies here is; “What, if only, cheater decided to remain a faithful spouse in the first place?” – THAT’S the amount of control you really have in his actions.

    Many people will have you believe that there are things that a BS can do to turn, alter, control or basically redirect a WS actions. We would all like to believe that the BS can “change”, make themselves more attractive, guilt, reason or beg the WS out of their current state and back into the marriage.

    We want to believe the fantasy of forcing a reconciliation because–
    It’s scary as heck to realize that your entire life and future plans can be thwarted by someone else. Someone you trusted and loved. The sword of betrayal and abandonment cuts both ways.

    We would all like to think we have affair proof marriages, divorce proof lives – (can we throw in financial and health proof guarantees/beliefs, too?)
    My family and friends are shocked that xh behaved the way he did. To all appearances, he loved me to pieces. Up until the day he did not.

    Truth is, and I hope you got the gist here, is that you really can’t do anything to control another human being, including one that you are married to. I surely hope your WS (who by the way has A LOT of balls to become engaged as a married man.) Pulls his head out of his behind, but wishes and $3.00? That will get you a good cup of coffee.

    Do not take on any blame in this frickin circus you currently call a life. BUT UNDERSTAND that it, for you anyway, is only a traveling circus, it will move on down the road soon. Please insulate yourself from his choices and know you can only do the best for yourself and family.

  • Capricorn, your comment after an earlier post I made touched my heart, thank you.
    The advise that CL, you, and experienced CN kind souls gives to newbies is (how do I find a strong enough word to express this?) outstanding, mind blowing!
    In fact, all of the information, advise, but mostly, the love and understanding is better than a Christmas tree with 100 presents all for me!
    Your gift of being here, not just for newbies but for all chumps is heart warming and life saving.
    Worth More, I hope things are going well in your journey. You already sound mighty. I am sure CL and all of CN are proud of you. Can you hear the roar!?

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