Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Forgiveness Trolls

forgivenesstrollOnce upon a time, I got my dander up when some troll commented on the Translating Other Woman-ese post. She was an artful troll though, the sort many of you probably encounter in your day-to-day life. The sort of person who notices your big, cracked open heart, peers in and sniffs, “Gee, you really should do something about that.” And then follows it up with observations that you’re grieving in all the Wrong Ways, offers sympathies, and adds that troll herself has never suffered such misfortune. Too bad yours is “self-inflicted.”

These people make me crazy. First of all, why on earth would you come on my board and tell chumps what to do if you yourself have never been chumped? I don’t get on boards for people whose children have died and tell them they’re grieving all wrong. Or really a better analogy would be children who were killed by a drunk driver (I didn’t intend to hurt you!) and remind them not to be angry, but focus on the future. Oh, and then link them to my book. What fucking gall!

forgivenesstrollbunnyThe problem with forgiveness trolls is they would just like everyone to bypass the unpleasantness. Which to me, cloaks a hidden agenda — unpleasant for WHOM? Trust me, this shit is a lot more unpleasant for the person going through it. I’m sorry chump pain is inconvenient and uncomfortable for you, troll. Anger is a stage of grief. Most chumps try very hard not slop their grief around in their real lives. They come on to anonymous boards like Chump Lady and spill their guts with people who get it. So really — I have to scare you forgiveness trolls off with a broom? You’re going to pester nice, anonymous chumps about their grief and “bitterness”?

God I can’t stand these people.

Here is your problem chumps — YOU’RE NOT ANGRY ENOUGH. I’m putting that in all angry shouty caps. If ANYTHING is “self-inflicted” it’s that you’re too damn nice. That you give people the benefit of the doubt. That you try harder. The problem with chumps in my opinion is they don’t get to anger fast enough. The whole purpose of my blog is to get more chumps to stand on a chair and shout “I’M PISSED AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!”

Why? Because I like angry people? Because I’m just bitter that way?

NO! Because I want you to move forward out of this situation that is hurting you, and the best way to do that is to get pissed off and see it for the injustice that it is. I’m a fan of PRODUCTIVE anger. The sort that says “HOW DARE YOU!” and calls a lawyer. That anger is your friend.

I’m not a fan of unproductive anger. The kind that turns in on itself as depression. The kind that stays pissy and short-tempered and refuses to do anything to help itself forward. The anger that stays stuck in limbo and paralysis.

You know how you stay stuck in unproductive anger? You listen to forgiveness trolls. Those “well-meaning” idiots who tell you to get over it. Not be so upset. Stay friends. Don’t be so rash. Puts a chump into a perpetual loop of cognitive dissonance. “I’m pissed!/I don’t think I should feel this way.” “How dare she!/Maybe this is my fault.” “You hurt me/I brought this on myself.”

That shit keeps you stuck.

Righteous anger frees you, gives you the jolt of lucidity you need to see that you’re being played for a sucker.

Do I want you to stay angry? Yes I do until you trust that they suck and you don’t get lured back into an abusive relationship. Does that mean I want you lurching around like Frankenstein, setting fire to small villages, venting your rage? No. Please don’t harm innocents with your anger. But do remember it when you feel the chumpiness coming on.

Once you get to meh, you won’t need your pal anger so much any more. Why? Because with some time and distance you realize who this person truly is and that being around them sucks. Your life is so much better (after time and distance) and you begin to wonder why you ever fought so hard to keep that wing nut in your life. Bad dream! The anger percolates up time to time as you deal with the fallout of the cheater’s shit decisions (money, kids, in-laws). But on the whole, you know how to protect yourself and you don’t feel vulnerable to their manipulations any more.

You don’t get there without anger. If that makes some forgiveness troll call you bitter? FUCK ‘EM, chumps. FUCK ‘EM. They haven’t lived it. They don’t know. What you aspire to, is to be high above it, blissfully indifferent to what a shithead your cheater continues to be, because you’re too busy with being awesome.

I’m not done with my rant. Oh no, I’m putting the comment through the Universal Bullshit Translator.

I have been married 25 years and neither my husband or I have ever cheated.  I’ve been reading this because a friend is struggling with a cheating wife. Though I have never worn your shoes, I can imagine how I’d see red if my husband went off with another woman and lived a “fairytale” life, in a nice house etc.

But living in bitterness and anger never helps us feel good or whole. For a while, allowing ourselves to experience truly death-dealing anger probably feels both necessary and good. But after a time, it will eat away at us. For the spouse who has been cheated on, the most important thing you can do is focus on the future not the past.

You deserve more. You are better off without your ex. I imagine this is almost impossible to swallow. It seems like it would be important to do your best to let it go. To aim for forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the ex is/ was right–but it allows you to move on and rebuild.

The other thing that is so cruel is how often the man cheats and b/c he is the earner, his life continues in the same vein whereas the woman suffers in terms of her lifestyle. This must seem like a daily slap in the face. The dependency on a man is so undermining. I’m a writer and until about ten years ago I barely made two pennies. Even so, I’m not sure I would have wanted his money if we’d gotten divorced. I would have needed it, but I would have hated relying on him. It’s hard to build up a sense of self worth and potential when you depend on the very person who rejected you.

Good luck everyone.

P.S. Oops just realized I am part of the “smug unknowing class.” In reality, I am someone who dealt with the amazing pain that is self-inflicted when you can’t find a way to forgive–or at least try to forgive– someone who has wronged you.

I have been married 25 years and neither my husband or I have ever cheated.  

So you have absolutely no experience with what we’ve gone through. Zero. Zippy. And you’d like us to know that you, unlike us poor unfortunates, have never suffered a divorce due to infidelity. Bully for you.

I’ve been reading this because a friend is struggling with a cheating wife. Though I have never worn your shoes, I can imagine how I’d see red if my husband went off with another woman and lived a “fairytale” life, in a nice house etc.

Yeah, I see red when someone cuts me off in traffic. I collapse in grief, puke for days, lose perilous amounts of weight, get STD tests, spend thousands of dollars on legal help and years in therapy when someone cheats on me.

But living in bitterness and anger never helps us feel good or whole.

And there we have it. We’re grieving wrong. Thanks very much Troll-Who-Has-Never-Been-Chumped. You played the “bitter” card. I feel very sorry for your chumped friend. Something tells me you haven’t resisted giving him this advice if you feel compelled to lecture perfect strangers with it.

For a while, allowing ourselves to experience truly death-dealing anger probably feels both necessary and good. But after a time, it will eat away at us.

And you know this how? Because??? Someone was once mean to you? Didn’t invite you to their birthday party? Snubbed you on the golf course? Gave you an ugly haircut? Have you suffered some soul-wrenching trauma that makes you an expert on “death-dealing anger”? It “probably” feels necessary and good? Probably meaning you’re guessing? You don’t know shit.

Look, troll. I wanted to carve my cheating ex-husband up with a fish knife. It didn’t feel “good” — the rage felt terrifying. Fortunately, I channeled those feelings into running the hell away from him. But let me just tell you, you have no fucking clue what you’re talking about. NONE.

For the spouse who has been cheated on, the most important thing you can do is focus on the future not the past.

No, understand the past before you focus on the future, so you don’t repeat the same damn dynamic in your next relationship. Realize you’ve been chumped, get angry, grieve, and THEN move forward. The most important thing you can do is HEAL. Moving “forward” is not the same thing as healing. You can “move forward” with fuck all for understanding. We call that “rug sweeping.”

You deserve more. You are better off without your ex.

Here we are in agreement.

I imagine this is almost impossible to swallow. It seems like it would be important to do your best to let it go.

You imagine. It seems important to let go. So in other words, you don’t know. This “seems” like the right thing to say. And you’re an expert because? You’re linking to your self-help book on my site about middle children? Hey, tell you what — I’ll keep my mouth shut about birth order and you keep your mouth shut about infidelity.

To aim for forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the ex is/ was right–but it allows you to move on and rebuild.

Don’t presume to tell other people what to forgive or what forgiveness does and does not confer. Some people’s religious believes require that the sinner ask for atonement for their sins, to acknowledge the injury. Most of us never get that. Many of us move forward quite nicely without forgiveness. Others struggle with it. You have a lot of nerve to tell hurting, vulnerable people what they should do when you’ve never experienced this.

The other thing that is so cruel is how often the man cheats and b/c he is the earner, his life continues in the same vein whereas the woman suffers in terms of her lifestyle. This must seem like a daily slap in the face. The dependency on a man is so undermining. I’m a writer and until about ten years ago I barely made two pennies. Even so, I’m not sure I would have wanted his money if we’d gotten divorced. I would have needed it, but I would have hated relying on him. It’s hard to build up a sense of self worth and potential when you depend on the very person who rejected you.

So your husband supported you for 15 years while you barely made two pennies. How nice that you imagine the flinty independence of single mothers who wave off support out of a “sense of self worth.” God, those weak women who “rely” on men! May their children “rely” on support from their fathers, or does that undermine their self worth as well? Yes, it IS hard to depend on checks from the very person who rejected you. Ask my son how he knows.

Good luck everyone.

P.S. Oops just realized I am part of the “smug unknowing class.” In reality, I am someone who dealt with the amazing pain that is self-inflicted when you can’t find a way to forgive–or at least try to forgive– someone who has wronged you.

I know from self-inflicted pain, troll. I read your entire comment and responded to it. Stay smug! Stay unknowing! Bye!

This column ran previously. But Forgiveness Trolls still live among us.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Osho, Ekhart Tolle, all these new age-y forgiveness guys. You have the legions going after you because these people are in pain and they think you have the remedies. I was one of them. For years devouring your books and wondering how, just HOW can I forgive betrayal and not feel anger, grudge, revenge – all these “negative emotions” that you warn us against abd prileach to replace with forgiveness. I ditched all your books. I found Chump Lady. Fuck off with your forgiveness!

    • I am also sick of this idiotic “no negative emotions allowed” and more ridiculous “manifest want you want – manifest a Ferrari!!”

      I have had a long think about emotions, my conclusion is that they must all have a survival function. We need all of them, but in conjunction with reasoning. Yes, aim for the higher ones but the other ones are needed to get us back up there.

      Ooooh – how I felt that day my cousin told me it was “OK to be angry” it was something spectacular!

    • Dear Chump Lady,
      This post came at just the right moment for me. Your website has been my life line for the past 3 months. Today my wife (We are a same sex couple) was served the divorce papers. Just got off the phone with her mother, who called to tell me how devastated my ex was. I was feeling so horrible, so guilty and sad, even though I know from everything I’ve learned here that reconciliation won’t work for me. Thanks for keeping me strong!

      • Fool Me Twice, welcome to the vlub no one wants to join! As the divorce proceedings start in earnest, be sure to keep everything in writing with your stbx, especially if you share custody!

        Also read through the archives for the 3 channels of fuckedupness, as your stbx might escalade her manipulative ways…

        Stay strong and forge on!

        • Thank you for your welcome and for the advice. I will keep everything in writing it and continue to lean on you all to keep me from falling into the foggy abyss of confusion these cheaters are so good at creating.

  • Got only a couple of those in my life — including my ex, who said that I should forgive him “for my own sake.” Apparently he continues to labor under the false impression that he knows what’s best for me. When I said that I did not beat him up and do not care enough to deal with him, so he should consider himself forgiven, he switched the channel to “you are a vengeful woman!” Don’t even care to wrap my head around the logic of that statement.

    • For your own sake? Interesting how your well-being is at the forefront of his concern when it comes to forgiving him, but absent when cheating on you.

      • Precisely. All his other actions that affected me magically fall under “not my problem,” including a severe bout of PTSD, which was treated as “it’s not my fault your body is reacting that way.” But when it comes to me forgiving him, he showed great concern for my peace of mind and mental health.

        • “All his other actions that affected me magically fall under “not my problem,” including a severe bout of PTSD, which was treated as ‘it’s not my fault your body is reacting that way.’”

          Yes! I dared to complain that my ongoing nightmares (every time I closed my eyes – violent/terrifying – worst of my life) were exhausting me because I wasn’t sleeping more than one hour at a time–no exaggeration. My asshat had the audacity to say that I wouldn’t be having nightmares if I regulated my schedule better. I was, as usual, dumbfounded.

          Not only does this type of response reject responsibility and empathy – the double-whammy is the blameshift. (It’s not what I did that’s the problem … it’s your body’s reaction to it …. ).

          Cause and effect is completely subjective in narc world.

        • I will NEVER forgive the fucktard for what he did to my children and myself. This anger allows me stand up for myself now when others try to demean or bully me. It doesn’t drive my life, but I definitely consider it a strength, not a weakness.

      • Yes, the hardest forgiveness troll to deal with is the Cheater Him/HerSelf.

        When anyone tries this $hit my general response is pretty harsh:

        So you’re saying that — after I get raped — my rapist is the one who gets to tell me the timeline for healing and forgiveness?!

        That usually shuts them up pretty quickly.

        • OhHellNo, I found, as a violent rape survivor (which most people, of course, do not know) that if I used that analogy, the reason for the silence was usually that the person was mentally throwing their hands in the air and thinking, “she’s a lost cause. Now she’s comparing the ‘silly mistake’ he made with the horror of rape.”

          Guess which of these events has caused me the worst, ongoing pain? Violent rape was never ‘my fault,’ and I moved on and ‘healed’ nicely. But most have blamed me (without a shred of evidence) for his cheating. Because, if such a great guy could cheat, it must be my fault, right? Troll reasoning.

          • I am not surprised the cheating caused you the worst ongoing pain, Horses. Being betrayed by the person you trusted with your life is shattering. It is such a struggle with myself to accept that although my trust was completely misplaced, what the traitor did is not “my fault”. It is a struggle to accept and forgive myself for not fighting back sooner, not fighting back harder. And the perception from outsiders that it is always partly the chump’s fault, it takes 2 and blah, blah, is always there.
            It’s still taking a long time for rape victims not to be partly blamed for their attack, though. I watched a doco on campus rapes recently and the way these women are treated because they had been drinking is disgusting. “You asked for it” is still alive and well if you’re raped by a middle class student…

            • Part of the reason I told so few people, kiwi. Just the medical staff and police as I was swabbed and stitched up (my genital injuries were extensive.) I was at a party, and raped by someone I knew. There was alcohol involved. But I was not drunk. Had a couple of drinks in me. Even if I had been off my trolley, I knew it was not in any way my fault. But I have definitely been victim blamed about his affair. By everyone (except him, actually!) He knows and says to anyone who tries that shit that I did NOTHING wrong, it was all his shit. I’ll give him that. He owns his shit.

              My ex didn’t know until we’d lived together about two years. He was and is my first and only sex partner. But I never told him that as I had been raped. It seemed a weird/hard thing to claim? He knows now. And is so ashamed that he caused more pain then the fat bastard who ripped me to shreds. I am totally meh about that. But still far from meh about the affair’s repercussions in my life and on my heart.

              • Oh. And the rapist never left me with a lifelong disease. I was thoroughly checked out at 20. The ex? Yep. I will deal with this for the rest of my life. And that just does my head in. Some random fuckwit did his worst and we all ‘moved on.’ My truly beloved, adored and treasured partner of over 25 years left me with diseases because he was so fucking stupid he believed ‘she was clean.’ Because you can tell by looking at people, right?

                He doesn’t know who that fuckwit was. But I also don’t think he fully understands my misery about this one everlasting fact, either. Not that he needs to anymore.

              • I am so sorry your trust has been repeatedly abused, Horses, also by your close family friend. Hugs.

              • I was molested multiple times as an eleven year old. The betrayal of my XW’s caused as much pain and damage.

          • I’m sorry you suffered both traumas, horsesrcumin. No wonder we all band together here at CL; so many clueless people out there.

            • Cheers, Tempest. Absolutely. No one IRL for me, gets it. No one. Grateful every day that this community does ?

              • Horses,
                There are no words. I am so sorry to hear the stories of your past. Thanks for posting and speaking the truth. You are a brave and strong woman. (((hugs)))

              • horsesrcumin, I am so sorry about what you have gone through. Oh my. There are no words. I have not been a victim of rape. Like you though, I got an STD from my husband that will reside in my body forever. I hate him for that. That injustice and rage you feel- I feel as well. Herpes for life…

              • Oh Hope. I am so sorry. So very sorry.

                And Kathleen, your hugs are very appreciated. I hear far worse stories. I have mostly, so far, had a very good life. We loved hard and true for a very long time. I know most chumps never had that.

    • Two years after divorcing the serial cheating, abusive X, my X still sends me texts saying I need to forgive him. “It would be best for you to forgive.”

      I think people get confused with forgiveness and consequences. I have forgiven. I am happy he cheated and acted like a jerk, because it set me free. But it doesn’t he gets off without consequences, like no contact, the divorce, etc.

      Forgiveness is giving up the right to revenge. I want nothing bad to happen to him. I want him to stay out of my life. That is not un-forgiveness. That is consequences.

      • Your ex sounds really smug. Do you think that maybe your ex is giving you a passive aggressive dig, such as you are still not over me? Maybe he is a bit worried that you ARE actually over him and this is his absurd way of never letting you forget him. In any case he’s a total asswipe. I think the next time he sends the “you should forgive” text you should respond “please get over me and move on as I have” or something along that line. It’ll kill him.

          • Aargh. Yes!!!

            Be like mean girls “are you like in love with me or something? Stop texting and obsessing over me and move on” lol lol lol. Laughing at my own jokes

            • It’s best not to engage the disordered, but a little send off that can be used as Exhibit “A” if the stalking continues can be fun.

              I think the whole asking for forgiveness ploy is meant to pave the way for “we can still be friends!” No, no we can’t.

              • The forgiveness ploy is probably a mask adjustment as supply dwindles.

                Changing your phone number gets the message through without engaging.

                Cheaters are lazy. Hey, he can’t be that bad if his EX still talks to him. It will fit his narrative. Cheater logic strikes again.

                As far as the idea of replacing vengeance with forgiving a cheating sociopath who sadistically took pleasure in abusing me for years? Um, no. That’s never going to happen.

                I believe chumps are much more intelligent than the weak minded insecure cheaters we partnered with.

                Once they lose centrality they experience fear. The fear we will move on and live better. Look who has the power now.

        • Yes, so many ways to be mean and have some fun, but it would encourage him too. I realized he got off on the fighting and drama….yuck! I just don’t respond anymore, in fact, when he sent a creepy “till death do us part” message on Valentines Day, I blocked him.

      • Yes, “I am happy he cheated and acted like a jerk, because it set me free” is as forgiving as I’m going to get, too. But it’s not enough for them — it’s not absolution, it’s not wiping the slate clean. Why they think we have the power to clean a slate that they messed up is beyond me.

        • I heard a good analogy once…it’s like breaking a plate. Sure you can glue it back together a couple of times, but it is never the same and then one day the glue doesn’t even work anymore…they just don’t understand the damage they do and the scars they leave. Very happy to be away from that mess!

      • Wow! Everywhere I read what forgiveness ISN’T. Forgiveness is giving up the right to revenge. Thank you for saying what it IS. My working definition is that forgiveness is minding my own business.

        • I also never heard what forgiveness really is. I took a graduate class that delved into forgiveness and it just happened to be at the same time of DDay #3. It gave me clarity to finally learn what forgiveness is…especially since the disordered love to tell you that you need to “forgive and forgot.” That is not what that means!

    • My standard response when someone asks if I’ve forgiven her is “she’s still alive, consider her forgiven”. Yes, I’ve given up my desire for revenge (not that I’m capable of hurting anyone, but the fantasy was nice).

      • Yes. My sense of humor and sanity has saved me. The funny thing is that I have been so shocked, paralyzed, depressed, sobbing uncontrollably, to being angry enough to say , “I am not walking out of this house without a large cash sum, a nice retirement in my IRA and I am having an estate sale where I keep the money”. I want the title to my truck, my cat and dogs. I am buying a cabin, kayak, horse, everything I gave up for your ass to abandon, disgard, dump me hoping that I would be living in the streets. Guess asshole, your children will have power of attorney over you and deem you unfit. They will control your money and send you to the cheapest nursing home. You made that bed. Forgive you?? Maybe forget you and have a good life. Not your chattel anymore.

        Dear Stupi ignorant person,

        Shut up!

        Bye.

      • Fantasy is nice, I used to imagine punching him right in the face, but it would not have been as much fun in real life…and I would feel bad about hurting someone, unlike Xhole.

        • Although I think this works brilliantly as a response (and I want a kayak, too), I worry a bit that the kids will get stuck caring for his ass. (Helping kids grow up to be compassionate and independent enough not to get sucked into a narcissist’s drama is a tough gig.)

          But what I like best about it is how it reflects my MIL. She was livid when I divorced her only and beloved son–largely, I think, because she knew I would be a reliable caregiver as she aged and needed help, and he is most likely to visit her bedside to steal her meds. My exit made the future of a lousy, lonely nursing care facility look pretty darn likely.

          Thanks for the powerful response!

      • My response is ” has that person forgiven me?”

        When asked what do they need to forgive you for?

        My response is: “For whatever I did that motivated her / him to do (whatever) to me.”

        that usually shuts them up.

        • That is gold. This is where everything is backwards for chumps. The onus and spotlight is turned on the wronged one to make it all better again and not be so unpleasant etc. To actually switch the tables and go back to the actual ‘crime’ of the cheaters action ie what must i have done to warrant such abberant behaviour makes people view the cheater with the same judgement they like to put on you. Poetic justice.

    • Let’s not forget that Marla Maples has publicly said that Ivana should forgive her — for Ivana’s sake.

  • Tracy, you never fail at being a badass. Chumps need to get fucking angry, seriously. Enough with all the melodramatic, little house on the prairie forgiveness shit. This ain’t the prairie. Wanna know the way I deal with my amazing pain, lady? I get pissed. I take no shit. You’ve never been cheated on? Well where the hell have you been? It’s quite empowering to truly learn to be tough and say no more to abuse, lies and manipulation.

    • I wouldn’t recommend being chumped as the gateway to boundaries. But if you have to deal with the pain, best to learn from it. And I don’t mean slathering “forgiveness” spackle all over it.

      Should add — (because I know the pro-forgiveness people are coming) — my position is forgiveness is a very PERSONAL thing. What you forgive, if you forgive, if you never forgive — IS YOUR BUSINESS, and IMO, has jack all to do with how soon you heal.

      Forgiveness to me is acceptance, which is meh. I don’t wish you dead. Consider yourself forgiven. Works for me.

      • “I don’t wish you dead. Consider yourself forgiven.”
        – really brilliant CL ?

        I’m going to use it every time that bloody word “forgive” is used in my presence in future!

      • This might be similar to what forgiveness became to me after some work with a therapist I liked.

        She said forgiving the cheater is like forgiving a bad debt. You recognize the person is never going to pay the debt and you write it off as lost. It becomes your past.

        Then, you change your “loan” policies to avoid that sort of risk in the future, and you NEVER extend another “loan” to that person or any other person who makes a similar proposal. Door shut, no negotiating.

        When I employ this definition of forgiveness in my mind, I feel empowered to think of him like a mistake I don’t get have to make again, and, for me, this is empowering.

        I don’t know if that’s the same or similar to what you meant, but it helps me, anyway.

          • Nice analogy. I’m “writing off” my entire marriage as an epic mistake. But personally, I can’t forgive the wrong.

            • I don’t think one has to forgive the wrong to let a thing become the past (meh) over time. In fact, for me, I think when it comes to betrayal, it might be impossible to let it fall to the past without acknowledging clearly that treating me like that is wrong, it is not ok, and nothing will ever make it ok.

        • That’s how I see it, too, Amiisfree. I forget the source that introduced me to the idea. It was in one of the many books I read trying to figure out how the hell I let myself be conned and betrayed like that and how I could gain some reasonable confidence it would not happen again. The concept of writing x off as a bad debt was so helpful. I hadn’t articulated the idea of a new loan policy but that is spot on, too.

          Actually the loan policy reminds me of a poker playing concept from Dan Harrington. It is the strategy of putting oneself in situations where the decisions are very clear cut. You might not always make the right decision or get lucky but there is never that awful confusion where you’re flailing around and are more likely to have a poor outcome. I.e., like dealing with a cheater. I apply it to a lot of life situations.

          When I see someone who is consistently acting in a narcissistic manner, I step away. If it was something minor or ambiguous, I might give them a chance or two to demonstrate the first observation was out of character (anyone can have a bad day) but if the pattern continues, even if it’s only seemingly small things, I’m very quick to disengage. I don’t want to put myself in a confusing situation. The new loan policy is a great way to describe the same thing. Thanks for that analogy!

          • Yep, it’s like hearing a bad noise coming from under the hood of a used car you’re considering buying. “Hmm, I had an old Camaro that made that exact same noise, and I ended up dumping years of my life, my heart, my faith in humanity into it and at times lost my will to live. So, no, I don’t think I’ll buy this car that makes that same noise.”

        • Amiisfree, I really like this-why I keep coming back here daily (well several times a day).

          There are times I think maybe he’s not so bad, he’s the father of my children. I am usually optimistic and let the bad stuff roll off me. The intnese anger has subsided. I get random texts from him about the kids and I never reply.

          He’s a physician. Dday #1 was a nurse he worked with–she was on her second husband and had been cheating on him. She was quite a prize to leave your wife and 2 young children for. Came begging back and I let him. Fast forward several years and Dday #2 is our daughter’s assistant high school soccer coach (in her 20’s).

          Now going on one year since Dday and divorced for 6 months, I trust that he sucks. The whole world revolves around his wants and needs. I couldn’t truly see that during the marriage. I always said he was ‘high-maintenance’.

          Now the kids tell me dad can’t pay $80 for this or that. They always come to me for their needs cause ‘dad’s saving up to buy a house’. Asshole. Makes 4 times what I make.

          What most cheater apologists don’t understand is this is who the cheater is. In all aspects of life. They apply their morals and values and try to think like a cheater. Maybe the cheater just lost their way. They must be miserable having lost their family. Maybe the cheater is miserable now, but they couldn’t have cared less during their luuuuuvvvvv fest.

        • I get the feeling that the forgiveness trolls have this idea that we’re these brooding, abandoned people who sit around with a strong hatred of our cheaters and plotting revenge. And this is something that will eventual consume us until one day we become some sort of … Batman. While emotions like that certainly crossed my mind especially at the beginning, I think most of us are just trying to get through our day and make ends meet and hold together what remnant of a family we have left. And in between taking care of business we sometimes take the time to evaluate our heart condition but it’s also a condition that doesn’t leave us alone and we function despite it. And we wait and we wait until one day we realize that we just don’t care anymore. Forgiveness is part waiving debt and part apathy. I’m sure most of us are not sitting around designing a bat cave but we are waiting for feelings to subside. For me overwhelming feelings were disappointment and abandonment not anger although that was a part of it.

          Just a guess about forgiveness trolls but seems appropriate today according to troll logic.

          • That, plus I think a lot of the ‘forgiveness trolls’ just love that feeling of superiority it gives them, when they’re telling you how you should ‘rise above’ and ‘be the better person’. Because that’s TOTALLY what they would do, if they ever found themselves in this situation they have no experience of (which would never happen, of course, their marriage is solid!). That self-righteous high, I hear it’s quite addicting.

            • Gag – “be the better person.” I am already the better person because I didn’t cheat. Rise above what? I can stand upright with my head held high without doing anything different from what I am already – I’m not the one rolling around in the gutter.

          • Crap… And I just ordered new blackout drapes for my batcave too.

            I’ve always felt I have to earn forgiveness from others when I screw-up. I’m the one obligated to make amends. So why can’t I apply those same standards to others? Why must I find forgiveness of others within myself?

            The people who were supposed to be closest to me used my empathy against me – #whothefuckdoesthat??!! Don’t look to me for forgiveness. I like my angry unforgiving cave. The anger keeps my idiot inner-chump duct-taped to a stalagmite deep in the bottom of the cavern.

            • Brew some coffee–I’ll come join you in your angry unforgiving cave (and will help you hang those new draperies).

            • Dang you can buy black out shades??? I didn’t know and straight up boarded up all my windows… Keeping to myself with nothing but two voodoo dolls I poke in various places from dawn to dusk… Wait how would I know the time in my cave…? Oh right, I don’t do any of these cave things…

              Instead I’ve been busy… Doing things like more than doubling my salary. I’m also 3/4 done with a rigorous certification program I started during the divorce process, my kiddo has had her best report card in years thanks to the therapy and tutoring sessions I’m facilitating and paying for, I could aldo pay for her braces all on my own, and we’re traveling to our favorite city for spring break…

              Bitter bunny? Absolutly, fuck forgiveness, I’m too busy building our best post-cheater life!

              • You rock, Chumptitude–if your voodoo dolls fall apart, I have backups direct from New Orleans I can send you.

              • Awsome …… me too…found out I had less staying with him! Grateful he left after 36 years but will never forgive him for stealing my life and ruining my children’s lives!

        • So true about the bad loan!

          Another analogy I learned here at CN is that of Maddoff. Hundreds of people lost massive amount because he lied to them for years…

          To me, my cheater X is like Madoff, he put together a great front, but it’s all a big Ponzi scheme…

          Unfortunately, shared custody with those disordered fuckwits feels like the courts are mandating me to use a convicted Maddoff as my CPA… Entrusting him with shared cudtody of our kiddo, the person I want most to proteft against his cluster b tendencies… The courts are unfortunately not going to do much as he is not so blatantly incompetent that thr would change our custody agreement… So the shit sandwiches will keep on coming, but no longer being married to him is a great step forward!!

      • Hi CL. I don’t know if I’m in the group of ‘forgiveness people’, but for me, I really did have to ‘forgive’ to get over the anger and bitterness that took up residence in my heart. I also seemed to be alienating a bunch of people to include one of my own sons. I did not like who I became. I’m “nice” and I was acting ugly! Now, two years later, I know I needed to get righteously angry, exactly as you purport, in order to heal. I needed to see that I was abused and had been for years What a class-A dick I was married to! I’m actually a bit peeved at myself for listening to the Forgiveness Trolls who had no idea what I was going through. I wish I had read your advice much sooner. What would really be nice is if you could give us techniques to talk to the Forgiveness Trolls when they spout out unthinkingly, “Oh! You have to forgive!” I think forgiveness was especially hard for me because I kept thinking, “What would Jesus Do?” He forgave us so many of our transgressions. He died on the cross for us. And here I was not forgiving. Plus I got married in the Catholic church and marriage is a Sacrament. I was REALLY confused. Talk about the Catholic guilt meter being pegged all the way to the right! I’m happy to say that 2 years later I’ve managed to reach the other side (for the most part.) I had to go back and read a lot of Scripture on divorce. Corinthians 7:13 helped me a bunch. I had to see that my ex-hole was not a ‘believer’ and it was okay to divorce him. I also had to read passages where Jesus exhibited righteous anger. I also had to read multiple sources on ‘Forgiveness’ before I found something that I could stomach. Just what exactly is forgiveness? So when I read (again a Catholic source), I found:

        Forgiveness is not:
        • A feeling
        • Letting the other person off the hook
        • Forgetting the wounds he/she caused you
        • Blindly trusting him or her again (that may be very irresponsible!)
        • Feeling friendly toward the person
        • Thinking that you have to be “friends” again (it may not be possible right now)
        • Having to dismiss restitution that should be paid
        Forgiveness is:
        • An act of the will; Choosing to detach from revenge
        • Trusting that God will bring perfect justice in His time (and His way)
        • Knowing it’s okay not to like someone but to still love him/her
        • Still being able to kindly set and enforce healthy boundaries with the person
        • Seeing the other person as deserving of kindness, even if you don’t like him/her
        • Focusing less on your rights and more on your responsibility to forgive
        • Obedience to God’s command

        Now I’m not telling you that I don’t wish his demise. I still dream that his skank is going to Bobbittize him when he decides he’s not in TWU WUV anymore. I even tell my sons that I don’t want to hear anything about their dad unless it’s bad. In fact I don’t think I’ve yet reached the land of Meh, but I can see it on the horizon. Thank you so VERY, VERY much! You have been instrumental in getting me this far and I believe that someday I will be able to give sound advice, “ChumpLady advice”, to anyone that goes through what we’ve gone through. And I will definitely allow someone to rant as long as they need and probably participate in destructive fantasies to help the next victim to heal and move on in life.

        • I really like this post Amazon Chump. I think finding ‘meh’ is really a form of going through all the stages of grief and reaching ‘acceptance’. Acceptance is trusting they suck all summed up. Anger is a stage of grief. Everyone has their own timelines, but hopefully no chump gets stuck. CL and CN ensure no chump is left behind.

          When I first started reading CL, I thought it was a bit harsh for my cheater. He is Catholic and he was sure going to church alot (he started going without me which put me on alert he may be up to something). Thank goodness I kept coming back to CN for more. It really helped validate my feelings along the way and helped me through the stages. I’m not truly at meh, but I’m getting there….

          • I’m glad you’re getting to Meh too. And just because someone is Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Atheist, or whatever, it doesn’t mean that they don’t sin (as I’m sure you’re already aware) and that they can sin grievously. It just means that they’re human. I now realize that CL is appropriately harsh. Those cheaters CHOSE to behave the way they did. My problem is that I projected my morals and ethics on my ex-hole thinking that he thought like I did. I had to realize that some people (and I was married to one) have no empathy and it’s all about them. (Sociopaths?) It was us, the ‘nice’ people, that needed CL to give us a good firm kick in the butt to come to the conclusion of “Trust that they suck!” That took me a very long time. Now I trust that he sucks!

            • Amazon Chump:

              Thank you for posting the definition of forgiveness from a Catholic perspective. I wish I had this when Uncle Priest called to try and talk me out of divorcing Cheater #1.

      • Would you forgive your spouse if he came home with and bomb and blew you and your family up then ran off with a secret girlfriend and your life savings! He left you homeless, your children for dead, your broke for retirement! He drained you during the divorce battle and avoided paying any support! But now I am suppose to be happy for your and schmoop! Your right i wouldn’t be nice if I didn’t make you feel guilty….f—k yourself!

      • I met with my teenage daughter’s therapist this week. My position is that I will accept and move on, but never forgive. What he’s done to me and my daughter is unforgivable. He’s been lying to her for her entire life. To me, he’s been unfaithful, deceiving, withholding, manipulative, abusive, etc.

        She proceeded to tell me that he didn’t cheat on my daughter, he cheated on me. She’s not getting divorced; her parents are.

        The therapist told me that I’m playing the victim — uh, yeah, because I am the victim –and followed with the “what was going on in the marriage that caused him to seek other women” bullshit. The “It’s a symptom of an underlying problem” crap.

        I am not so clueless to think that I was an innocient bystander in the marriage, but when your spouse flat out lies to you and misdirects you with the “I’m stressed at work BS,” it’s pretty damn hard to have a productive conversation. When he lies dueing marriage counseling, it’s pretty damn hard to reverse course.

        Should I have left him then? Perhaps. But I was committed to him, our marriage and our family. Why would I walk away without understanding what was going on with him. So I hung in there, repeatedly getting rebuffed whenever I reach out to him to understand why he was so irritated all the time.

        In closing I recently read a book about forgiveness. I did a mental “search and replace” and uses the word accept instead of forgive. I will accept, I will move on, but I will never forgive. When I get to meh, I’ll know I’m there.

          • I agree–your daughter will not receive validation or sufficient help from a therapist who minimizes what your X did to you AND to her. Compare that to my daughter’s therapist who told her, “Your father betrayed you, too.”

            Run, GiddlyEagle. You did not deserve that.

            • Playing the victim?

              Talk about compartmentalizing. These types of therapists look at ‘divorce’ as in, it takes two.

              Side stepping the abuse and trauma is a red flag. I hope you find a skilled therapist in the future.

        • I am so sorry you had to hear that from a “professional” — especially while you were there to support your child. Therapists who take this approach can do so much damage to chumps and their children.

        • You need to have a conversation with the therapist. One that probably ends with, “Thanks for your time. We will be ending this relationship.”

          Your EX did cheat on your daughter. Every time he was with his OA and not with his family, he was denying her the parenting she deserves. Every time he spent a cent on or with the OA he was draining resources that belonged to the family, including your daughter. Every time he lied to you, he was teaching her that women do not deserve respect and integrity and cheating her of a healthy model of adult, sexual relationships.

          If your EX means he didn’t have sex with your daughter, then yippee for him. That just means he’s not an incestuous pedophile; it doesn’t clear him of cheating charges.

        • Oh hell no. I’d get your daughter away from this quack PRONTO, and gift her a copy of CL’s book as a parting gift. She clearly needs come continuing ed.

        • Cheater disguised as a therapist! The worst kind!
          I put her discourse on the same level as prostitutes who claim their “job” is helping marriages!
          Ha Ha!

          • My ex-hole’s skank IS a Family Therapist at a University and is the Interim Director in the School of Social Work! How screwed up is that! She’s the one that sent me a letter that got processed through the UBT (https://www.chumplady.com/2015/11/ubt-ow-i-just-want-to-reach-out-and-help-you). I had a dick for a husband who had a master manipulator for a skank. And she just knew that God put them together for a reason; for TWU WUV! No wonder I was so messed up. Nope, can’t even trust the counselors

            • OMG Amazon Chump! Just read her email. And CL’s translation. Hillarious! I lol’ed when CL said the OW was so tired she had to lie down. To fuck your husband. Un-fucking-believable shit these cheaters say in tandem with their APs.
              No wonder you don’t trust therapists…

        • GiddyEagle, I could have written this. The cheater told me yesterday he had actually proposed to divorce twice in the last 10 years and he didn’t because I begged him not to. Well, yes! Because the reason he gave me was that we could not understand each other, we did not have the same life goals. Nothing on his actual cheating! Of course I was committed to him and our marriage and I wanted to work on our broken communication and common goals. Our “disagreement” was mainly around me wanting children and him diligently finding reasons to postpone this and then finally 3 years later admitting he was not interested. He would also get mad if I had called him at 8pm asking when to expect him for dinner. He said I was controlling and wanted to domesticate him. Now I understand the need for secrecy around his “work” schedule and “business” travels. At the time I didn’t. So an innocent “how was your day” could have turned into a fight of epic proportions with accusations of me being controlling and sticking my nose into his work matters. He was always busy, unavailable and tired. The more I begged for togetherness the more controlling I was called. He finally figured it would be better to get me busy with child rearing and off his back so he agreed to have one. And I got busy. Since he never got involved in the child rearing I was doing it all, plus house chores, plus work. So now he accuses me of neglecting him and focusing on our son only which pushed him into more cheating.

          I get it now. The more I engage with him the more interesting things I will discover about me being the reason for his cheating. It’s all me. Of course if I worked better on our communications early on…blah blah blah.

          So I tell him: you wanted this divorce 10 years ago? I disagreed? I agree now. Granted. Enjoy!

        • Yah Giddy Eagle, I’m thinking report that dumbass of a therapist to the licensing board. Once I get a chance, I’m going to do the same for the ignorant therapists who muffed with my head about Cheaterpants and his damn lies, blame throwing and gas lighting.

        • “The therapist told me that I’m playing the victim — uh, yeah, because I am the victim –and followed with the “what was going on in the marriage that caused him to seek other women” bullshit. The “It’s a symptom of an underlying problem” crap.”

          What was going on in the marriage, even if it was all your fault, would have been a great reason for him to get a DIVORCE, not CHEAT.

          A therapist who cannot see the faultless logic of that very simple solution should not be entrusted to the care of anyone’s mental and emotional health, much less that of a young girl.

      • Omg ????
        “Forgiveness to me is acceptance, which is meh. I don’t wish you dead. Consider yourself forgiven. Works for me.”
        HELL TO THE YES!!!!!

      • I am googling about cheating on the early months of relationship. I am thankful to have found your site. I have always been a victim/chooser of cheating men. I don’t know what it is in me. The last guy who cheated on me? I kept him as a friend. I am hoping to learn why I keep getting cheated on. I want to heal my inner wound this time.

    • I’m liking how people here are saying, “Forgiveness to me is…”

      Forgiveness to me is a very personal and private action. To me, it is not something you’re encouraged into, or have to state publicly as a gesture of sanctimonious attention, or as a “fake it to you make it” wish, but something you deeply feel. To me, forgiveness requires either years and years of time to dull the pain, or acknowledgement from the perpetrator that he did something wrong AND then willfully acts to rectify the wrong. In the case of my ex husband, unless I live long enough to dull the pain, forgiveness will never happen.

      I will never forgive the man who IS PROUD that he masqueraded as someone he knew he was not, lived an intentional, secret life that eventually and powerfully destroyed mine and our children’s well-being, stole money from us, continues to emotionally abuse his sons, continues to malign me to others and continues to expect to exert his right to control what happens to me and our kids because he deliberately misrepresented himself to the judge in our divorce hearing. And the judge bought it. And I can’t contest it because I can’t afford to hire a lawyer to help me contest the gross inequity of our divorce settlement.

      While I’d never do anything to expedite the process, my fervent wish is to outlive him so I can witness the end of the emotional abuse of our sons. Better they live with the select, good memories of their misleading father than the actuality of a man who will never put their needs above his own, and never be truthful to them. And continue to believe he had every right to cheat, steal and lie.

      • Me, too. It is nice that we can let one another have individualized definitions and experiences. Heartwarming. 🙂

  • She’s an advocate for Premature Forgiveness. Where did this idea come from, that there is a “right” amount of time to live our emotions, then it’s time to Stop.

    When my ex and I split I was a mess, and I was open with my family. After a few weeks they started telling me to “pull it together”, some even screaming at me “STOP” when I was crying or wailing.

    2 months ago my brother, one of the loudest advocates of me “pulling it together” told me that he suspected (hahaha) that I might be the only one in our family who actually feels their feelings and, while I’ve been harshly judged, I might actually be the healthy one.

    It got me to wondering — how many of us who stay chumps are from families who denied feelings? Is there a connection between being raised to “suck it up”, “get over it”, “stop carrying on” and putting up with the horrendous behavior of a cheater for way too long?

    If I was taught that feelings, even negative ones, are OK, would I have felt the pain of his betrayal fully enough to have left then? Monday morning quarterbacking, yes, but maybe there is a connection.

    • I think you’re right on with that. I think one of the reasons I fell so hard for x was the familiarity of his manner of attention, it was what felt like love to me. All of it, the sparkly attention, the diversions from my questions about behavior or statements, the raging, all of the playbook control tactics.

    • “It got me to wondering — how many of us who stay chumps are from families who denied feelings? Is there a connection between being raised to “suck it up”, “get over it”, “stop carrying on” and putting up with the horrendous behavior of a cheater for way too long?”

      I think so. I was raised to tolerate all sorts of bad behavior. Therefore (before the cheating), I thought it was my duty to persevere.

      Furthermore, I had a good friend — my best friend other than XH, I thought — who accompanied me to the divorce hearing for moral support. But even she gave way after about two months, said her hair was falling out because of the stress of being caught between me & XH (who was living in her house after I kicked him out). Here’s the point: I felt BAD for her! My grief had caused her distress, and if I would just stop being so angry, then she & I could go back to being friends, and it would be nice & easy again…. Needless to say, she is no longer my friend, and I’m sure she & her husband & XH & OW are all sitting around their dinner table, where I used to be, just as I predicted but she said No I would never be replaced. Ha!

      Everything is purified in the crucible.

    • Murphy,
      I think there is a lot to this. My family was appalled by my behavior and considered whether or not they should call mental health professionals because I was “still” weeping and a mess a WEEK after my mom died. The message was loud and clear. Is it any wonder they acted like I was crazy to be SO upset when my husband was hiring prostitutes? This idea that everyone is only healthy if they seem to act like nothing hurts them is becoming more and more prevalent. I think it’s the opposite. At one point after my husband’s shenanigans I told my doctor that although the antidepressants had controlled some symptoms like bursting into tears several times a day, they really hadn’t made me FEEL differently. I still felt depressed. He said, “Well, even that makes it easier for those around you.” And that is when it hit me. My treatment wasn’t about me at all. It was about making my terrible situation more comfortable for other people. Why is having feelings of horror at horrifying situations so disturbing to us?

      • I agree, Jojobee–much of other people’s advice or reactions are about THEM.

        I can live with people saying, “I can’t hear any more about your divorce. I’m tapped out.” That’s at least honest. But don’t tell me to get over it; the 3 people who have done so did not get a positive reaction from me.

    • So agree with the fact we chumps have been conditioned to deny our feelings and that does make a person feel crazy. My d day was last May when my husband of 26 years and father of our 5 children told me he was a cheater and had been for years ,and he couldn’t take it anymore. I went total chump apologizing, begging and trying to fix things. Fast forward 9 months of hell and I have finally realized my problem was denying my feelings and trying to please this control freak (won’t ever happen). I realized in a lot of ways I had married my mother who was very emotionally detached. She would tell me and my sister we were too sensitive.

      I married a sociopathic gas lighter who can’t relate to feelings and if you try to express them, he tells you your feelings are wrong. He and his mother are so intertwined I think they never cut the cord. At 71, she works in his business for no compensation and has not had a friend in the 30 years that I have known her. She completely controls her husband and he calls her “boss”. She has not spoken to her grandchildren who live a mile away since she uninvited them for Christmas because “they don’t want to be around their father and that makes me sad.” She has never once talked to them about the fact that their father walked out on them and is having an an adulterous affair. Apple didn’t fall far from the tree- like I said, I think it is still attached.

      So I make of point of letting my children know their feelings are real. I just hope they can learn this.

      My lawyer validates my feelings and I am in the process of filing. We will see how cheater feels about that. Someday I will forgive but for my children’s sake and mine, I need to be angry for now!

      • After I chastised my ex-hole for his snapping at me, he said, “Well you don’t have to be so sensitive!” I replied, “Whether I’m sensitive or not does not excuse your bad behavior. Do not talk to me like that.” That was year number 30 of being married. I think that’s finally when I realized that I had a right to be treated properly and my feelings did count even though the dickhead didn’t think so.

    • Murphy Cee, raising my hand here. Yep. My father is a raging alcoholic abusive narcissist. I and my siblings were raised to be seen and not heard and never, ever cry…oh geeze!…that would be certain death at his hand! So…yes. I’m certain my siblings are exactly like yours. I was always the expressive one and the one in trouble all the time because of it.

      …crybaby…stupid (thought that was my middle name for a whole lot of years 🙁 )…get outta my sight momma’s baby…

      I’m also of a mind that that early conditioning is what made me a perfect target for lying cheating coward boy…I eventually learned to be quiet 🙁 and just take it…must be how it is for all children right? Ugh… So, yes, dad taught me well…perfect doormat wife.

    • I thought I was smart. I knew I didn’t have good role models for a healthy relationship. I was AWARE. I was conscious. I was deliberate. I waited over a year aftr our engagement o set a date so I could be CLEAR. I didn’t marry until 30 and didn’t have my daughter until 40.

      I chose this man (ok, boy) because I thought he was steadfast, solid and for his POTENTIAL. I could see the man he could become. He didn’t. And I didn’t listen to that little voice in my head when he did things that didn’t align with my values. I was too blinded by my belief in him.

      I pray that my daughter will learn from my mistakes when she’s ready to hear my regrets and lessons learned. My mother never had the clarity to do so with me.

      Where was I going with all of this??

      Oh yes, emotions. My STBX doesn’t have them. And my daughter is afraid of them. And I live in my emotions. Daughter gets FURIOUS if I tear up when she’s upset. She yells at me, clams up and storms off. the result is that she feels like she can’t talk to me. I’m trying, but I can’t help the sadness I feel when she’s in pain about her father and what he’s done to the family.

      I used to be tough. A force of nature. I remember the moment my heart melted. It was at a wedding shortly after I got engaged. I wish I had a better poker face. Damn, I wish I had any kind of poker face. I’m about as transparent as they come. While I’d rather be in touch wihbjynfeelings rather than clueless, it has its drawbacks, for sure.

      I feel like I’m rambling. Sorry about that. Live you all. You give me clarity and strength. I feel like you are my pack. What dontjey call a pack of lions? A PRIDE — YES!! We are a pride. Hear us roar.

    • Good insight! There is definitely a connection. When you grow up with a mentally ill parent and have to censor your emotions or be punished (“stop crying or I will give you something to cry about”), you can’t learn to process, understand, and cope with emotions in a healthy way. It makes us very vulnerable to narcissists and borderlines.

  • I dealt with a “forgiveness troll” who is also a chump!

    I was finally tired of the constant lies, husband needing therapy to keep from jacking off to porn, and him having the relationship skills of an adolescent because he spent so much time doing something only normal for a sixteen year old – I was calling it quits.

    She, of course, was so much more refined. She was too wonderful of a person to let anger ‘consume her’ and she understood the importance of forgiveness. Okay – that is awesome. It wasn’t enough that she was happy with her decision, every single time I talked about finding a divorce lawyer or going gray rock, she would be right there letting me know she was so much more mentally free now that she fully embraced her husband and his ‘issues’. He was sorry and their love was stronger than him denying her sex for years because he was too busy jacking off to porn. Yes, he neglected her and the children for years and yes he lied about his activities and yes he still got caught in lies today – but their love transcends flaws and she was so sad that I didn’t have a chance to experience true love that could overcome small trials like they had.

    She didn’t have full disclosure, nor did she need it, because, “She was choosing to embrace forgiveness and focus on all the things he has done that are great.” Oh yeah, instead of getting full disclosure and “tearing her husband down” as I did by requiring my husband to take a polygraph, she was focusing on “building her husband up” by moving beyond his problems. She was also not requiring restitution, because that was just punishment and she didn’t want to teach that to her young children. She was teaching them to , “Love through hurt and pain” rather than punish someone for simply making a mistake.

    I finally had to dump that site, even though there were some supportive people there, because I got tired of constantly being bombarded with the notion that I didn’t “love strong enough” or I was damaging my children by filing for divorce because I wasn’t teaching them to “love through pain”.

    I am convinced her constant attacks of me were because she was seeing me become mighty and that intimidated her. It felt like I was dealing with the psychologist from the movie, “First Wives Club”. The one who kept telling Diane Keaton’s character to “grow from love” when she was actually screwing her husband!

    • “Love through pain” sounds like a first-class mindfuck. I truly hope my children don’t learn to do anything though pain: eat, plan their retirement, paint their nails — really, anything. Eliminate pain first, then do shit seems like a saner plan to me.

    • I have a friend who is a chump. A chump to the point that her STBXH and his OW are living on their 500 acre FAMILY farm while she moved out and has a yard the size of a cemetery plot.

      When I vent and breathe fire about Scuzzy, she regards me with a weird detached look of calm, and says: Why would you even think about him anymore? A bit judgy…..absolutely superior. She quickly taught me not to explore my revenge fantasies with her.

      I thought this was going to end the friendship, but I just decided to let it go. If she was not angry on her on behalf, I was not going to stoke the flames and make her the scary dragon I can be.

      About 2 months ago, we went to an Italian place for lunch. They brought the bread and the olive oil/ herbs dipping sauce. I dipped and said, This oil is cheap or old. I am going to get us some real butter.

      She tried it and LOST.HER.MIND. She called the waitress over and began haranguing her as if she had brought us motor oil for our bread. I was so shocked, I got strangled on my drink. Shouting, slamming the little white plate, waving her arms around.

      The waitress apologized profusely. I finally got out, “It is not the waitress’s fault. It is the kitchen. But it’s just bread!”

      It volcanos out….they are just not brave enough, scared to label it, or still stuck in fantasy world, frantically hunting unicorns…but deep inside they know they are still eating a shit sandwich.

      She is a powerful person. I think if she would get righteous angry, she would feel like she had the weight of the world off her shoulders.

      So, after things had calmed down and her face was not flushed with rage over bad olive oil, I said…”There’s this writer and her website you should take a look at……”

      • I got a letter from the GF of a long-time friend who had been a chump herself several decades ago. My friend let her read some guest columns I wrote for CL (which I guess she found ‘bitter’), and she also knew I was friends with a number of people from the website. While interspersed with good advice was good, and the woman was obviously well-intentioned, I found aspects of that letter damaging and patronizing:

        “Dear Tempest, My credentials include, at one time, a long time ago, having a philandering husband. Obviously 40 years has given me lots of time to gain a different perspective, but I hope that some of my insights gained over that time might be helpful for you. Let me start with a favorite saying of one of my best friends, “forgiving lets you free yourself, of the time energy, and emotion of hating someone else.” As long as you are tied up in an energy sapping, and typically one sided hate relationship, you are prevented from moving on. ….Moving on is possible. Open your heart and your mind to the possibility of new relationships – not just with men – but also with women, with whom you have more of a bond than just reinforcing the sad vagaries of life.*** Wallow in the possibilities not the pain.

        ….Affirm your strength; your strength to be a good parent, a loyal friend and maybe ultimately a warm and caring lover. And for your children’s sake make friends with their Father. As I told my divorced son, the best gift he could give his daughter is to be friends with her Mother and he did it, and is immensely rewarded with a balanced and open child – comfortable with knowing that both parents love her and respect each other. …..I urge you to reward yourself! Reward yourself by surrounding yourself with affirmation and hope. Reject negativity and regret, or ultimately that is all you will have.”

        ***I’m sure it will surprise all my CL friends to know that we share nothing more than the “sad vagaries of life.”

        • Even my therapist, when I mentioned the “be friends with your X” advice instantly said, “oh, hell no!”

          • Sad vagaries of life leapt out at me as well, as well her nauseating tone of superiority.

            I don’t know how to sort out a woman like this. My initial instinct is she is jealous because you have the guts to say clearly No, I do NOT enjoy shit hoagies, and then got to write about it in a kick ass manner.

            My second instinct would be to slap her smug face with a big wet slice of eggplant.

            I don’t buy her calm, ordered acceptance of someone making a fool of her (philandering! like a medical procedure…a clean word) unless she has early onset dementia, and she has just forgotten the daily gut stab and gagging fits that so many innocence “vagaries” can trigger.

        • in my opinion, if my ex was friends with me in the first place, and treated me like he does his friends, then we would not have gotten a divorce at all and would still be married.. ..

          how the hell can you be friends with someone who betrayed, lied and cheated you? if he did not have any respect for you to do that while we were married, how in the everlasting mindblowing world do “they” think he is going to do it AFTER we are divorced?

          seems a little too little a little to late… ..”for the kids” well i have not killed my boys father, and he is still alive.. .. i do not bad mouth him.. .. i havent blown up his truck or house.. ..i let the loser in my house to visit my boys without saying a word.. .. .. so i think i have done enough “for the kids”.

    • Omg. I can’t even imagine not demanding full disclosure.

      Even if I entertained the notions of unicorns, step two of the process (step one being of course “never ever speak to that homewrecking piece of garbage again”) would be “answer every question I ask, multiple times if necessary, over as long a time period as I require, leaving out nothing. And say you’re sorry while you’re answering.”

      So many chumps seem to lose sight of the fact that we are the ones who have been wronged. The work we have to do after infidelity is repair on ourselves from damage someone else caused. Anybody who says you have to be unselfish and giving all the time while doing those repairs can fuck right off.

      • That’s because after D-day we’re bombarded with the cheater’s refusal to admit that we (the chump) have been wronged.

        • Sadly true. As utterly mindfucking as I find it to discover they all read from the same script, it’s another layer of mindfuck to realize how awful and dysfunctional the script is. “You made me do it,” being possibly the worst line.

  • I’m not bitter, I’m realistic. I know what love and commitment looks like and what it doesn’t look like. The saying to err is human to forgive is divine must have been written by a cheater. You want forgiveness talk to whatever higher power you believe in. I was told that I needed to forgive x for my own happiness. Well guess what? I will never forgive him and I AM happy. Happy that I finally found the self respect to know I deserved better. Happy I have a chance for a life with people who truly care for and respect me. Forgiveness is for people who are truly sorry for their actions, it’s not a get out of jail free card. Like most things in life you have to earn it. I will never forgive x. I have forgotten him and moved past him but I will never forgive him. And I am perfectly fine and happy with that. I hate to break his ego bubble but I don’t care enough anymore to be bitter.

    • Yes, where did this idea that we can’t be happy without forgiving? I’m plenty happy, no need to forgive something unforgivable. Also don’t need to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Some things are not necessary to be happy.

      • I had a lovely friend from school who refused to have a reunion with the class bully (I think she got a lot of abuse from her)

        I said to her “but she’s different now, she’s not like that, Ive had long conversations with her, you must meet her again” but my friend said “she may well be different but there’s just not enough time, I’m busy, there’s so many people in the world to meet, I just don’t have enough time in my life to see her again” 🙂

    • F– that: need to forgive cheater in order to be happy??! What, even in forgiveness they STILL want centrality? Hello. Forgiveness as about the one who was trespassed, not the trespasser.

    • Alexander Pope wrote “To err is human, to forgive is divine” in his essay on criticism. He never married, probably because a form of tuberculosis damaged his bones – leaving him only 4’6″ tall. He died surrounded by friends, and left the bulk of his estate to a lifelong family friend, Martha Blount.

  • It is hard–i.e impossible–to really forgive someone if you are still struggling to believe or know what they did and that it was wrong. Often, faithful spouses, chumps, aren’t even given all the facts about what their cheater did.

    Also, I think this person makes the classical error of ignoring the need to grieve in order to stuff forgiveness advice on us. Forgiveness does not take away the need to grieve real losses. But it does have the potential of keeping us stuck in denial…not a good thing.

    • DM for the win as usual. “Forgiveness does not take away the need to grieve real losses.” This this this. Thank you. Time healed a lot. I moved on. One day I may even be able to forgive. But that never takes away the consequences of what he did, the need to change my standards to make sure it never happens again, or the need to grieve what happened.

    • This is the wall I hit when I try to coach myself into some manner of “letting go.”

      How do you even approach forgiving someone who not only has no remorse, but is arrogant, cunning and unrepentant? *Gleeful in his wickedness*

      Do you forgive a subhuman? Could I ever have apathy regarding someone who intentionally ran my heart through a food processor?

      • I’m not always apathetic, but I finally have moments. When CL says we’re too busy being mighty, we can’t do 2 things at once. He & my past are becoming less relevant. Maybe find a word that works for you & let go of a seemingly unreachable goal. I don’t aim for forgiveness. I aim for better selfcare.

  • I’m not sure what’s worse…. The ones who tell you to forgive and move on, or the ones who give advice on how to repair it. They just have no clue!!

  • This is so important: “No, understand the past before you focus on the future, so you don’t repeat the same damn dynamic in your next relationship. Realize you’ve been chumped, get angry, grieve, and THEN move forward. The most important thing you can do is HEAL. Moving “forward” is not the same thing as healing. You can “move forward” with fuck all for understanding. We call that “rug sweeping.””

    Someone was pushing me to move forward (and ridiculously, it was less than five months after dday!). I knew enough, thankfully, to tell him I’d take my own damn time grieving because I wanted to work through it in a healthy way. I didn’t want to focus on the future and stop looking at the past. I mean, I was still reeling from the past and wasn’t even divorced yet. Maybe he meant well, and I guess he’d never been through this type of thing. It was a new friendship, and it did not last. That comment was the first red flag, and after the next red flag, I cut him off.

    • I should add — you can (and should) move forward in terms of protecting yourself, your finances, and seeing a lawyer. Don’t delay that. But the emotional processing takes time. Use your head and leave your heart for later.

      • CL,
        I finally got what I fought for and have set goals. I am paralyzed about leaving the farm I have known and loved the entire marriage of almost 20 years. I finally learned to ask for help or I would be walking out the door with no clothes except what I was wearing. It slays me that when I am finally close to the finish line I can’t hardly packed a stupid box. But, I cried out to real friends and my farm children. They are coming out starting tomorrow. I go through so many stages. I walked away from the church of judgement. I was taught better. Thanks for what you do or we chumps would not regain our sanity without this CN.

        • saw,
          I’m glad you got what you fought for but it sounds like a rough time right now.
          Good luck tomorrow. CN will be thinking of you….hang in there.

  • I’m fortunate that all the forgiveness trolls were ex’s side of the family and his friends.

    My family and pre-marriage friends were all Knights of Righteous Anger, ready and willing to slay the Forgiveness Trolls.

    • Lulu, My mom was the voice of reason for me. She told me ‘he’s shown you who he is twice, you need to listen to him’.

  • Had lunch with the other day with a friend who apparently has a Swiss visa stamp in her passport.

    She said this whole situation I’m in was *unfortunate*. And I should “let it go”. Who knew she was a fan of Frozen. At least she didn’t sing it. I told her a flat tire is unfortunate.

    And then she said it’s like stepping in a pile of dog poop. Just scrape it off the bottom of your shoe. I told her to think of it as dog shit purposely shoved in your face. Wash that off.

    Again, totally smug and clueless. Other than that, she’s nice and I hope she gets to remain so. And thanks to CL and CN – I’ve been reading for the past 18 months.

    • She was recklessly blithe, glib and trite in the face of your anguish. Does she also go down to St. Jude’s and lecture the children there to buck up and focus on the bright side of their multiple myeloma?

      I have buzz words/phrases that let me know I am dealing with a phony: unfortunate is a big one, as well as when someone calls a group of people ” these folks” when they are the position of power, as well as

      -you are only hurting yourself

      -just move on with your life

      and the ever popular, tired, meaningless

      – Girl, he’s not worth it!

  • I’m with Chump Lady. Acceptance is my “forgiveness.” After a while (of No Contact), I accepted that what the ex did to me was no longer happening anymore. I accepted that he sucked and his cheating said everything about his character and nothing about mine. I didn’t kill him and I didn’t even go all Carrie Underwood on his ass when I found out. Consider him forgiven.

    After much reflection, I realized that I didn’t recognize my own self worth by ignoring red flags (before we were married), not enforcing boundaries and staying with him after dday for three years. I’ve forgiven MYSELF for those things. I am much happier these days and I have moved on but it came in my own time.

    • Great post Cheaterssuck! I absolutely agree that forgiving ourselves is MUCH more important for our healing and moving forward than forgiving the cheaters. I did the self reflection thing too and came to very similar conclusions. And now when the “I wish I’d……” thoughts come up again I remind myself that I did the best I could at the time and let those thoughts go.

      • Absolutely agree that forgiving yourself is priority. Remind yourself that if you tried reconciliation , the pick-me dance or anything else then you had honorable intentions. You wanted to fix things, make a stable family for your children etc. Well-intentioned but likely misguided. You gave it all you could regardless of where you drew the line and walked away. Forgiveness for the cheater? I think not. What he did was unforgivable. Time for the mighty to accept what is, gather up your children, dignity (and assets!) and march forward.

    • YES YES YES I did not recognise my own self worth and ignored all the red flags that were spotted by my gut but not by my chumpy brain

      I too ignored my gut instinct for 10 years after Dday #1 and carried on regardless. My gut instinct was quashed on more than one occasion in that 10 years too. It did not sit well with me for the entire duration that I took him back but I did so told myself to suck it up.

      Him going is a blessing – its a shame I was such a chump for almost 28 years. I knew on my wedding day it was wrong. The wedding day he begged and begged for btw – it took ages for me to agree.

      I’ll work on forgiving myself as for EX he can go where he wishes as long as its not near me. And now he has disowned our son he shouldn’t have too much trouble staying away. Mind you his life is going down the pan rapidly and soon Slaggy-Anne won’t want him now his pressie giving cash is about to dry up, and the debtors are after him. Lets see how much she really loves him? That might mean he tries to get back in contact. Sadly for him and to my joy I found Chump Lady. Forgive him – no way, Meh him absolutely.

  • I fell into a sneaky premature forgiveness death spiral whereby I went through the motions of being a benevolent kindness spreader and rage rejector. I realize now it was all image management for me- so I didn’t *look* like the bitter ex wife.
    I realized I had to do a 180 when all the seething volcanic hate bubbled up in unexpected ways because I refused to deal with it initially.
    Needless to say , I punched some stuff, set a few things (safely) on fire and had to go through the painful phase anyway.
    My ex was flabbergasted at the change- but it felt great to be truthful

    • Same here. My seeming calmness about this whole marriage mess was all image management for me because I don’t want to be seen as an angry and bitter person and I didn’t want STBX to actually have a good reason to want to be rid of me. I want him and everybody else to know he is foolish for leaving me. I also did legitimately worry that being angry and bitter could affect my long term happiness. Part of what destroyed STBX was hanging on to bitterness and resentment over the cruel blows life had dealt him (he felt this way even when he had his own airplane, a $200,000/yr job, three amazing children and a faithful and loving wife) and I didn’t want to be like that. I discovered, however, that all I was doing was suppressing my rage until small events would trigger it causing me to blow and totally lose that calm image I had been trying to project. Now I realize that anger and bitterness don’t have to last forever. For now it is a useful tool, however, to keep me focused on getting through the divorce which so far has been requiring me to do all of the heavy lifting. Once I am through that, my anger and bitterness will hopefully subside with time so that it doesn’t ruin the rest of the awesome life I plan to have.

    • We all have to fight that cliche that is our cultural narrative – the minimizing, discounting “bitter X wife” narrative. In fact, I take it as a personal mission to fight the narrative. One of my brother’s most trusted employees embezzled 500K from his company over 5 years. My brother was OUT of his mind angry at this betrayal. He fought so hard to get him to jail (never did). Nobody would ever think to call him a “bitter X employer”! I love having that story at the ready to remind people of the truth of the situation. We didn’t come out of the womb bitter – we are justifiably angry at a betrayal from the one person we thought had our backs. It is the most horrific betrayal possible. And infinitely worse of a betrayal than a betrayal by an employee! It shocks me when people get the embezzlement story more quickly than they get the spouse’s double life story. One friend said she’d have to think about that for a while and get back with me. She is no longer a friend.

    • I always wondered where the rage was when dealing with this shit. Of course, my blame shifting asshole had me tightly conditioned to NEVER have a thought or emotion that would in any way require him to acknowledge or care. He even once told me that if he did something I didn’t like, I had 20 minutes to formulate my response/voice my opinion. Otherwise, I was just being mean and being “too sensitive.”

      I think I was so shut down emotionally toward him (I had no love for him for a long time) that I just couldn’t get in me to be angry. People actually commented how well/calmly I was dealing with the divorce. I said – all the bad stuff has already happened, this is just completing a few forms to deal with the natural consequences.

      But what I did notice was once I got him out of the house and out of life… how much calmer I felt. Like I wasn’t so impatient in lines. I didn’t get worked up when driving. I just feel better. I fucking sleep, so I’m not exhausted. My emotional state is not straining at the seams to contain it, so I don’t feel so hair trigger. I think when we are trying to tamp down all the drama at home, so as to not scare our timid forest creature cheater, it seeps out around the edges in life.

  • I had a few minor forgiveness trolls who were easy to ignore since they were on the periphery of my life. The biggest FT was my ex himself. My ex was one of those who didn’t want to tell me the whole truth about what he had done. He said I would never forgive him because, according to him, I “dwell in the past” and “hold grudges.” I love to read historical fiction and have done genealogy for years so I guess he’s right. I love to dwell in the past but not MY past. If forgiveness is for the sake of the forgiver, then I guess I’ve forgiven him because I’m at the point now (over four years past the last dday and over a year divorced) where I am grateful that the marriage ended because I’m happier with myself now than I ever was during the marriage and I firmly believe my adult children are better off without him in their lives as well. My former life as a married person is receding in my rear view mirror and I don’t miss it. Do I really hold grudges? Well, if going no contact with the firm intent of remaining no contact for the rest of my life because he’s a liar, a cheater and a thief who hurt me AND MY CHILDREN (which is the truly unforgivable part for me) is holding a grudge, then so be it. Besides, I’ve never understood the point of forgiving someone who refuses to acknowledge that they did wrong.

    • Sounds like you are a past-dweller and grudge-holder, Beth! Nice spin by your X – it’s not what he did, it’s your reaction to it that is the problem here.

      I’m just a bitter woman who flies into rages. I’m a rage-flier!!

    • Yes in order to forgive your ex would have to come clean with what he or she did! No way would they ever confess in public what they did to you and your children! Impossible..they did with thier lives!

    • Typical blameshifter… My cheater is the same way. Around the time of our separation, when we were still putting on a united front for the kids, I remember telling him how painful it was for me to stand next to him at a kid event. He said, “I’m not the one hurting you. Only you can make yourself feel bad.” Bullshit!!

      A few days after he moved out, I regained my confidence, stopped crying, and finally got angry. Every day, every week, every month since then, I grow stronger, but never less angry.

      Cheaters are smug assholes who will never understand the pain they inflict on their chumps.

  • You know where I’m getting it? From the people that can’t understand why my kids have gone nc with their father.
    I get the ” you should encourage them to reconcile.” or ” they only have one dad, what happens when one of them gets married?”
    My now “un” chumpy i don’t give a fuck response is this:
    I don’t DIScourage my children from having a relationship with their father, that is their choice and I will support them in any choice they make.
    What I can tell you about ” the only dad they have” is that he was checked out for most of their childhood, as far as I can tell almost always had an affair partner. He lied to them repeatedly when asked direct questions about his affair after he abandoned his family and told them that they had to embrace his affair partner and his new life if he was to have a relationship with them post divorce.
    They opted out.
    Trolls come in all forms.
    I’m tired of the whole ” forgive….find your zen” nonsense or the ” anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
    Fuck that. Righteous anger is what got me here. Righteous anger is what made my 19 & 25 yr old adult children decide whats best for them. There was no “poisoning the relationship”……not by me anyway.
    For those advocates of the “mend it with dad” thing. I feel I should mention he doesn’t seem to care. He stopped the weepy text messages to them months ago.
    I’m sure he tells people he’s just trying to be a better person hoping the kids will one day come to their senses.
    Oh they have, don’t hold your breath buddy.

    • Oh God, this is exactly my situation. That “help them mend their relationship with dad” thing seriously pisses me off. My kids (24 and 22) broke off their relationships for different reasons but they HAD reason and I’m sorry but no one “needs” a dad who lies to them and steals from them. If he was a junkie who took money from the family to support his habit I bet no one would be telling me I need to help them “mend their relationship” but because he stole family time and money to support his stripper habit, I should get them to let him back in? Uh no. I’ve put exactly the same amount of effort into mending ex’s relationship with his kids as he has – no effort at all.

      • Beth,
        I love your posts on here and because our paths are similar but you are ahead of me on the journey I always try to learn from you. You have been kind of instrumental to keeping me from getting sucked into the guilt over their dad. I actually stole a line that you posted and I go to it often if the subject of him comes up with my kids. It was ” if you have a relationship with your dad it won’t hurt me, but may certainly end up hurting you.” I read it, and all I could think was “just perfect….”
        You should be proud of yourself and your kids.
        Beth, you inspire me.

        • Plus me, and BOTH of you guys are a real help to me.

          Yep, I have been shunned and get sideye in my small ‘open-hearted’ hippy community for doing exactly what you guys have done: protect and prepare your kids to deal with manipulative, character-disordered, moral situationists. Sucks when it is your own dad (mine was also a narc, and I married one, so I don’t just emoatjize with Kiddo, I get triggered).

          Amiisfree nailed it-you write them off like a bad check, or a lemon car, and it becomes your past. That is forgiveness.

          Much harder for Kiddoes to go NC. Mine is spending her summer with him and schmoopie, on the other continent she and I left four years ago, prior to gap year/college. I don’t think she’ll ever go NC until she is older, if at all.

          “If you have a relationship with your dad it won’t hurt me, but may end up hurting you.” is the truth! Stealing that.

        • Beth and Paintwidow, I needed so much to read this exactly today!
          Cheater has bought our eldest son off with an expensive car, fancy furnishings for son’s apartment (while running up many debts). So son is convinced that being politically correct/Switzerland to me and cheater is the way forward.
          This disappoints me and makes me worry about son’s values. Will use your points of view on him to point out how he is falling for his cheater father’s “values”

      • Oh wow… thanks you guys! That means a lot to me. I have to confess something. I’ve been eating my words on that “If you have a relationship with your dad it won’t hurt me, but may end up hurting you” phrase lately. My oldest got his heart broken when his first serious, contemplating marriage girlfriend cheated on him. Of course he came to me for help and advice and of course, I gave him both of CL’s book to read. But he got it into his head that talking to his dad would help him understand/give him some closure or something of that nature. The truth is, despite what I said, it hurt like a motherfucker when he contacted his dad. I don’t think it went well. Ex’s stripper live-in GF does NOT want her meal ticket to reestablish contact with his kids and tried her damndest to sabotage the meeting. I’m not sure whether it was a one-off meeting or if it was the beginning of a reconciliation and I’m not asking any questions. I warned my son again about who/what he is dealing with and let it go at that. But I was surprised (and I shouldn’t have been after reading here so long) at how much it hurt me that my son wanted anything to do with the man who carelessly destroyed our family. I’m keeping my mouth shut and waiting to see if (or more likely when) I’ll have to pick up the pieces once again.

        • My ex’s mistress would prefer my kids stay out of her orbit as well.
          I have tried to mentally prepare myself for when or if my kids say they may want to see him again. I don’t think anybody can no for sure how they will feel if finally confronted with it. I think I struggle more with the fact that it would bring that snake back into any of our lives.
          Beth, ugh!!!! I’m sorry you go through this. I hope your son had that meeting and it made him remember all the reasons he cut contact in the first place, that he didn’t fall for the sparkle. It never lasts and the letdown is a motherfucker.
          Hugs to you.

          • My ex’s Schmoopie’s previous role in myKiddo’s life was ‘aunt’, so a bit tricky there….I get how you might eat your words Beth but sounds like your kid drew their own conclusions.

            THAT is the really hard part even if I have full
            custody 6000 miles away.

            But. When she was there last Kiddo basically told her, ‘You are not my stepmother or any type of adult figure in my life. You were my aunt once upon a time but now you are just my Dad’s girlfriend.’

  • Oh how I love your blog, Chump Lady. Forgiveness trolls are everywhere. Your response to this troll is perfect.

  • Yep.. the forgiveness trolls. Idiots. To me it seems that if you can be that passive and forgiving you were never hurt, or in most of our cases. the chumps, DESTROYED by what our cheaters did to us. I don’t think I can ever forgive him. He destroyed my trust, my family and my future with him, because he wanted to “have fun, be with someone who worshiped him, have a woman who fucked him at the drop of a hat and ignore her kids” yep.. sure.. I’ll never get those 24 years back…
    He still will not take responsibility for his actions. Tells me to “get over it” and it was my fault, not his, because I didn’t cater to his narcissistic ego. Fuck him. Fuck all of them. The forgiveness trolls and the cheaters.
    I love CL quote “I don’t wish you dead, consider yourself forgiven”
    Maybe someday I will feel that way. For now I wish he’d feel an ounce of the pain he made me feel. Wishful thinking I guess.

    • Mine told me tonight we broke up because of my anger and argumentive nature ! deluded much. Your ass was thrown out the door 2 hours after I found out your EA was a long EA PA.
      Keep spinning that narrative until you and everyone you know believes it.
      Small town and thankfullyI know the decent influential people who are good family people while his folk are all defective wing nuts.

  • Accidents are forgiven, mistakes are forgiven, a lapse in judgment is forgiven….we all make mistakes from time to time. I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself.

    But spending years lying to your spouse and living a double life is not a mistake.

    Spending years hiding money while expecting your spouse to carry the financial burden for the family is not a mistake.

    Bringing your married boyfriend out and parading him around in front of your spouse, kids, friends, and your spouse’s family non-stop for years, while denying anything is going on, is not a mistake.

    Conning your spouse into buying expensive furniture for your future house and taking on all of your debt while you’re sleeping with other people is not a mistake.

    It took a couple of years, but I’ve gotten past most of this because my shock and grief morphed into full on anger, which then allowed me to look at these actions for what they are. I was mislead, lied to, and taken advantage of. That’s it. So now, when my ex tries to spout off any excuses or other blameshifting shit, I just ignore it.

    I don’t know if actual forgiveness is in the future, but I have absolutely no desire to dwell on this shit anymore. So I come on here and vent from time to time. But the letter writer, she really has no idea about what she’s talking about. So I guess I’ll start by forgiving her for her ignorance…..oh well.

  • Forgiveness? Naaah! I will forever hold him responsible for his actions. What I did have to do, was say to myself that it is a matter between cheater ex and Spirit. I’m not capable of forgiving his pathetic ass, nor do I have to. So I gave the whole deal to Spirit. Since cheater ex is dead, he is in Spirit’s realm anyway. Cheater was a horrible person and who did a horrible thing. Not my circus, not my monkeys. And I don’t feel one bit guilty.

  • I feel that anger, and any expression of grief is a very personal thing. The way we express any emotion probably goes back to the way we expressed it as an infant — and how our families and caregiver’s responded to it. I have seen some babies picked up the moment they cry, and others who are left to cry it out when they continue to cry after the caregiver has checked to see if they are fed, dry, etc. I think the babies actions are partly instinctive and partly training. I had two sons, and they behaved differently even when they were tiny babies. Another person cannot determine how you will react to any situation — they can only determine their own reaction. As a mother, I expressed approval or disapproval over the way my children reacted to various situations. I may have made some impact when they were older, but when they were tiny, I just did the best I could with taking care of their needs — and sometimes they just had to figure out that no matter how much they cried, mother couldn’t comfort them at that moment. I know that there have been some studies done on babies who were basically not cared for emotionally in some orphanages — evidently there was some terrible damage done to the core personalities of these children, which caused them serious emotional issues later in life. But the bottom line is that everyone has a different level of need and a different means of expression, and while others may or may not be able to provide comfort, they absolutely cannot determine how you express your particular need.
    I had a very difficult time with “forgiveness”. I think my own definition of forgiveness differed from the definition many of those who advised me to forgive had. I believe forgiveness involves remorse and atonement. There is a great difference in sincerely apologizing for an action you have done that has caused someone else a great deal of discomfort or pain, especially when you did not intend to do that in the first place — and just telling someone “you have to forgive me because you are supposed to do that.” I was told I had to forgive the other in order to find peace myself, and to take away their power to upset me. That, as Tracy points out, is acceptance, not forgiveness. I accept the fact that there were Nazi’s and they did atrocious things to Jews when Hitler was in power. I do not forgive them for their actions. I accept the fact I cannot change the past, I do not forgive actions I believe are unacceptable. For me, acceptance was the key I needed to travel down the road to Meh. Some folks call this semantics, and that is ok with me. They can believe whatever they need to believe to get on with their life, and I will do the same thing with mine.
    Trolls need to mind their own business and leave me alone. The most important thing I learned from dealing with Toxic People is that I could not be responsible for their choices, and I could not change anyone’s actions but my own. That concept is what allowed me to move forward and work thru my grief and anger. If I run across another traveler who seeks my help, and I can provide them with some comfort (as in, you are not alone, or this worked for me type comfort) then I am glad to share. If they don’t ask for help, I certainly do not feel compelled to give it. For Trolls — if your life is so perfect, why do you feel you need to meddle in mine? Please scurry off and live your life — I choose my friends carefully, and I don’t choose you!

  • Trust me when I say, forgiving cheaters will come back to bite you in the ass….or in my case will dump a bucket of dirty mop water over my head. I danced with forgiveness….The Worm acted like he had done me a huge favor by allowing me back into his life….stupid me, I forgave one more time. Met him with the family at a diner….first word out of his mouth is to tell me my collar is crooked. A torrential flood of anger came back and I realized I didn’t like who he turned me into.
    It was then I figured out the I was the one I needed to forgive. The Worm, however, can stuff it.

    • Isn’t this the truth? I need to forgive myself too for continuing to believe that I could give my STBX one more chance – THIS time he’ll be better. THIS time he’ll actually get a job. THIS time he’ll be good to me. Yeah right! These people don’t change. Plus I think if we’re going to get all into the forgiveness thing, it’s easier to “forgive” them when you’re not with them anymore. Ha. I’m inclined to think that I could quite possibly “forgive” my STBX when I see his outline in my rear view mirror.

  • I think the idea of forgiveness on the surface seems really benign. The problem in my opinion is that now days some people feel that it is a character trait. A value that everyone MUST subscribe to if they claim they have a moral backbone. I don’t begrudge people their forgiveness, but I also feel that it is such a personal thing. Am I going to hold onto my grudge against my STBX and his cheating while I’m laying on my deathbed and it’s the one thing I need to resolve to finally be able to die in peace? No. Hell no. I can live with myself just fine and know that I dumped my soul into a marriage that gave me a slap in the face back. I can definitely live with that and still consider myself a good person with integrity.

  • I am not a fan of forgiveness. I believe it is the ultimate Fuck You from the cheater to the chump. If you “forgive”, hey, what i did really wasnt that bad. You will be nice to them, you know, for the children. Make it easier for the new OWhore/wife. The needs of the chump are again minimized, under the guise of helping them off course.

    The one the cheater needs to seek forgiveness from is God.

    I run kind of contrary to other Christians, even, on this one. They, too, think forgiveness is the best thing you can do for the cheater. And, of course, yourself. Personally, I think the highest thing you can do to help a cheater is to let them suffer consequences so that maybe they will turn from their sinful activities, ie, adultery. The forgive advice is just another variation of ” it’s not what I did wrong that is the problem, it is your reaction to it. ” Uh, huh, sure it is.

    • Anita, I really get your post. My x is Jewish and my children were raised Jewish. My middle son recently converted to Christianity and is driving me bonkers with “forgiving” his father as Jesus forgives us. Doesn’t matter how many times/ways I come up with to explain true repentance and consequences. It’s like hitting my head on a brick wall…he just keeps throwing a blanket “Jesus forgiveness” on me.

      It’s terribly hard when your forgiveness hound is your own son, who is trying so hard to do the right thing himself. But I can’t/won’t forgive the x for lying, cheating and stealing from us all for the kids entire lives. For telling all of us to “get over it”, to “accept that’s just how he is”. How can any reasonable, sane human forgive that? Barring him dropping dead (and making me euphorically happy) the fact that the x is still breathing is all the forgiveness I need to give. The rest is up to God alone.

      • That’s rough, Special Snowflake. A few weeks ago there was a discussion at church, and one lady said “We need to learn to forgive faster.” I just bite my tongue and say nothing because being “unforgiving” is apparently doing whatever needs to be forgiven.

  • Troll translation:

    Not to brag but I’ve never been cheated on….how do I know….I know because I’m so very special and psychic and I absolutely know my husband of 25 years has never cheated on me. I’m that special unlike your poor betrayed spouses who are not as special and psychic as myself.

    I’m also so special that I can forgive although I have nothing to forgive because as I stated I’m special.
    I am also so special that I can give the appearance of empathy. I’m not here for me but for a friend who is not as special as me and it makes me uncomfortable to listen to his problems. I dislike people’s feelings and don’t want to hear about their pain.

    I wouldn’t want my husband’s money if he left me for another woman. I’m writer that didn’t make two cents for over 15 years out my 25 year marriage. I have my pride and during my 2 cent years my non-cheating husband never cheated on me while I lived off his income.

    Did I mention I’m a writer…I write about things I have no clue about and dispense advice I have no clue about. I am a writer….I’ve now reached the 2 dollar landmark earnings and on my way to eventually earning ten dollars as a writer in then next fifteen years.

    You poor chump sloths get over it. Forgive and please don’t make us special, never been cheated people uncomfortable in your company.

    Oh…I know pain….I’ll write about it in obscure vague way to make myself appear human.

    So get over it chumps because if I were cheated on… (although I haven’t ever been cheated on)…. I would get over it.

    Must go now….there’s a poverty thread I need to address…not that I’ve ever been poor or starving but if I were poor and starving I must add my 2 cents worth of my writing skills to address the whiny poor people who need to get over it.

    Namaste Y”all

  • I like the discussion defining acceptance and forgiveness. Acceptance that x is disordered is what allowed me to move on and reclaim my life. I don’t need to forgive to do that. Forgiveness is what he needs for image management.

  • The only way to truly forgive our cheaters is to imbue them with remorse and compassion and empathy, none of which they have (or they wouldn’t have betrayed us to begin with). Wait, isn’t projecting positive qualities onto them what got us into this mess to begin with? (facepalm)

    What we’re after is detachment. That doesn’t require forgiveness. Our goal is to make the cheaters an afterthought in the broad tapestry of our lives (including the rich, colorful section that comes post-cheater). To be able to think about them without strong emotion, much as you might consider a pair of jeans you once liked but have since discarded.

    My college boyfriend was a jerk to me–not especially kind, threw me just enough intermittent reinforcement to keep me around, but not enough to keep me happy or emotionally satisfied. He broke up in a mean way. (I know, detecting a pattern here in my romantic endeavors.) I never forgave him, I just stopped caring. I neither wish him well nor wish him harm. I have very little cause to ever think about him. That’s as much as my X can expect from me. Hannibal continues to minimize the damage he caused, to blameshift his serial cheating onto my deficiencies as a wife, and to convince former friends to have nothing to do with me (thereby further isolating me). Forgiveness? hahahahaha. Nope.

    • Thank you for writing this.

      I am so weary of people spewing cliches at me about me drinking the poison, seek revenge dig two graves….meaningless.

      For you to light the path with “detachment” helps me more than you can ever know. I had not thought of it. It is not given as a path to healing, but it is the only thing that has clicked for me.

      The old pair of brogans I gave to my mother to garden in, the Tuffskin jeans I wore when I gained 60 lbs (good times)… the books I gave away……that is the best goal I can have about Scuzzy.

      I will *never* forgive. I don’t care if I get brain cancer, have 3 days to live and the Pope, the Dalia Lama (sp?) and every spiritual leader in the world washes my feet. “Nope.”

  • Ugh, forgiveness. I still do not even know exactly what all I would need to forgive, and am unlikely ever to know. Plus, can a person even really forgive narcissism? I feel that the best I can do is gain enough knowledge about it to practice effective self-defense, but forgiving it seems impossible and irrational, like trying to forgive a tornado or cancer. At this point, still fighting to survive this thing, emerge with a reasonable settlement, and be fully extricated from the cheater. Accepting reality is the current task, and surviving, and getting a life. Then, maybe forgiving myself for being so thoroughly chomped is a good task. Already have made some moves in that direction, but it sure is not always easy. But the storm that leveled everything? The silent creeping cancer that took more and more? Not human forces. Not sure it even makes sense to think of them in terms of forgiveness.

    • Very good point. Don’t know what meh feels like, but feeling that it must be akin to this. It’s not about forgiveness – it’s about survival. You survived cancer? You feel good about still being among the living and you don’t dwell on the fact that you had cancer. You move on. You live life! You could have died and you’ve had a taste of how precious life is. Yeah, I can definitely see how this mindset plays into surviving narcissism and cheating. I survived that and yes, I’m getting out. I finally, FINALLY get how precious my years among the living – and living well – are.

      • Exactly–it’s not really a matter of forgiving the person. After all, that’s someone who will never fully confess, and is incapable of sorrow or redemption. So, here we have this storm or this cancer. The task is to survive and rebuild, first of all, savoring life along the way. Yes, learning to heed storm warnings and cancer symptoms important moving forward. So, we do that as needed, but keep on living. Forgiveness does not compute. Storms and cancer just are. We can heal and protect ourselves as needed, but the point is to survive and thrive in their wake.

      • I survived a cheating narcissist and I survived cancer. In some ways, cancer was easier. You don’t expect cancer to be nice or fair to you. You don’t consider giving it a second chance. You throw the book at it. Excise it from your body, and do your best to see to it that it doesn’t return. You never, ever consider still being friends with it.

          • Yes! And forgiveness, to me, comes in relationship. Do not want a relationship with a destructive force. Narks are cancer that wants a relationship. No.

            • And they’re harder to detect. If I could have biopsied the Fucktard ex, I’d have saved myself a lot of wasted time and effort.

  • I’m close to 3.5 years after leaving the XPOS and I still have hate. Oh well. My hate was a long time coming. I grieved for so long it was unreal and ridiculous now that I look back!

    And for what????!!! A cheating, most likely through entire 10 years, narcissist that didn’t know if he wanted men, women, or very young girls?!!! Really?

    Then came the hate. This, to me, is finally me protecting me and realizing this is WRONG! No one dare better treat me with disrespect, gaslight, lie, cheat, turn on me like a viper, etc and think I will forever greive. Oh no sir!

    Once I wake up from the grief and pain and realize that my life has been torn apart with intention and purpose……..watch out! I’m all in for the hate.
    Of course he has no idea because I have not seen or heard from him for 3.5 years.

    What I like most (NOT) are the people who say: ‘you’re giving him power and presence in your life because you grieve him (long ago), hate him, etc.
    Really? Uhhhhh…..NO! I rarely think of satan but when I do or if I have a trigger, then that’s when the hate surfaces.

    It’s my party and I’ll hate if I want to! 🙂 (you know the song!)

    • Me too. I’ve been divorced 5 years and still have hate – but I try to water it down but for MY sake, not his. I think back to all the beatings and KNOW that he hasn’t changed and even with the best will in the world the latest schmoopie will soon be finding out about that temper. The only saving grace for me is that he is now living in the States and I am in France so there is no chance of him just showing up at my house (he apparently showed relatives round my place while I was away in the UK). That being said, I have to see him in July at my son’s wedding but I will be surrounded by my family who would gladly sit on him while I punched three shades of shit out of him – not that that’s going to happen but it is a lovely daydream!

      • Attie, so sorry! No EVER deserves what you went through! What a piece of shit, coward!
        Uggh!
        I do like your daydream! 🙂

  • Sometimes I think I am my own worst enemy. I was the one who wanted to forgive and worried about being angry and bitter and what that might do to my psyche. Nobody else told me to “get over it”. I was getting my inspiration from the websites for spouses of Mid Life Crisis (and I still think that is playing a role, I just no longer see it as something that should be my problem). It took the anger of family and friends (as well as additional doses of subtle yet painful mistreatment from STBX) to finally steer me towards the path of divorce. It was when my super religious pro marriage friend, who was part of a couple who had been friends with us both for years (her husband was STBXs friend from grade school), told me that I really needed to divorce him because it didn’t seem like he was in his right mind and I needed to protect the kids, that I finally realized that divorce was the only answer. I had already stumbled across Chump Lady but had been avoiding it because it was so discouraging in regards to reconciliation. Once I decided to go down the path of divorce I started coming here regularly in order to keep myself committed to ending my marriage and my pain. You all have been a big help with that so thank you.

  • I suspect that many of these forgiveness trolls very much want to evade the consequences of something they’ve done. They want to keep the emphasis on forgiveness so they can feel fine about their half-assed apologies and sketchy behaviour. They can blame it all on someone else’s bitterness.

  • My cheater died several months after our divorce was finalized. Guess what? I still don’t forgive him and I find a new happiness about my life daily. Maybe one day I’ll “forgive” him for stealing 16 years of my life, my youth, my faith in God, my money, my health (mental and physical) and he did it with thoughtful willful intent and wasn’t the least bit sorry. What is there to forgive? All these forgiveness gurus wouldn’t be so quick with this shit if they’ve lived in our shoes for even a day. Today would have been his 41st birthday and I still don’t forgive him. People think because we don’t go the forgiveness route that we are also bitter, I’m not bitter, I’m rightfully pissed and I’ll be pissed until I’m good and ready to not be. I’m also gonna focus on living the best life I can now that I’m free of his evil.

  • Handing out blanket forgiveness – even when the offenders have no remorse, continue the same behavior, and have shown absolute intentionality (they know what they are doing and to whom they are doing it) – demeans and devalues the meaning of forgiveness.

    By default, this blanket forgiveness passively encourages bad behavior. Amongst other benefits, forgiveness is one of the social rewards for recognizing bad behavior and correcting it. But what’s the point of correcting bad behavior if you get the reward for doing the same bad crap?

    My asshat intentionally duped me for over two decades. Every single decision I made during those years were – unbeknownst to me – made from his carefully constructed list of options NOT from reality. And, of course, by default, our children suffered the same limitations of his constructed “reality.”

    And now that I’ve seen outside of the little cage he constructed for our family, I know that he did this intentionally … consciously … and he believes that he is entitled to continue doing it. His behavior shows no remorse, no empathy, no determination to make better (less harmful) decisions. Why would I want to passively encourage this kind of behavior?

    Instead, embracing reality with stark clarity, I call a duck a duck; a hero a hero; and — an asshole an asshole.I think my lack of forgiveness and dedication to honesty is much more proactive than subtly encouraging bad behavior could ever be.

    • Yes, well said JesssMom. Forgiveness is at heart an interaction, an exchange, a connection. Really impossible just to thrust it upon people. Diminishes the gift, the giver, and the recipient. Inner peace is another thing. I do think we can stop allowing the cheaters to claim so much shelf space in our brains, hearts, souls. That is very cleansing and freeing. But how we go about that is highly individual in both method and timing. Removing consequences, subtly condoning abuse, expecting and seeing no change–that’s not forgiveness. We can accept reality without ever calling it ok.

      • “Inner peace is another thing. I do think we can stop allowing the cheaters to claim so much shelf space in our brains, hearts, souls.”

        Beautifully stated, chumpionsahm! Even with all of the hurt and anger, finding peace for me and my girls is my primary goal. It’s (finally) the guiding light in my decision-making process. Encouraged by the words of Winston Churchill, we may have to “keep walking” through hell to get there … but we are determined to get there nonetheless.

  • Why does everything think you can recover from a major life event in 3 months or less?

    It takes time to:
    – Heal from a broken heart
    – Heal from years of being lied to and gas-lighted
    – Heal from everyone keeping X’s secrets and therefore also lying to you
    – Accept that you will never have your own biological children (because you stayed)
    – Accept that being paralyzed after DD#1 was a terrible mistake but you make a decision based on who you were and the facts available to you at that time (pre- Chump Lady, pre-therapy)
    – Understand that your X is incapable of empathy and is likely a sociopath
    – Realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you and that you deserve better
    – Trust again

    I don’t have a huge chip on my shoulder. I am not bitter nor am I defined by being a chump. There is no need to forgive my X.

    I do continue to work on forgiving myself for staying too long and not understanding that I could leave an unhealthy relationship.

    As always, Tracy you are a bad ass.

  • My Fuctard suggested that I must have a “mental illness” because I wasn’t being forgiving enough.

    This, just a couple weeks after she was clinically diagnosed with Cluster B Syndrome. WTF???!!!

    And her new SlutWhore had determined MY “diagnosis” because she was in school to become a psychologist. This SlutWhore McFuckMe had NEVER even met me and didn’t know a thing about me. I guess she was OK with my Fucktard’s Cluster B Syndrome.

    Fucking delusional ASSHATS!

    • IHateAsshats–water seeks its own level. Two disordered people will find solace in their respective Cluster B personalities. Ignore their rantings.

  • IF you forgive in any way it is because it is your choice and the person who did the damage actually owns it and expresses real remorse. In other words, shit a narcissist would never do, so true infidelity forgiveness is nothing to ever plan for.

    And amen Chump Lady for naming what has always confused me about forgiveness advocates who want you to get over the unpleasantness, “unpleasant for WHOM?” WHY do they care if you are angry, why does your anger bother them? It is an overtly aggressive nullifying thing to say to someone to “get over it” . There is hate in that wish.

  • The “forgiveness” issue is exactly how I found Chump Lady! I felt like I was recovering so well, but I couldn’t understand why I still had this resentment inside. I searched for how to get over the resentment of being cheated on, found and read the book, and here I am!

    Forgiveness may work for other issues, where you were unintentionally wronged. But cheating is deliberate and so personal. It up-ends your entire life, makes you question your entire history with someone you loved, and makes it difficult to trust new people.

    I don’t blame people who are ignorant to this pain if they haven’t experienced it. Perhaps they’ve seen the glorified cheating stories from Hollywood or heard someone’s spackled tale of being wronged. You just don’t understand the depth of the pain until you’ve been betrayed.

    Fuck forgiveness.

  • I’m just worn out from people telling me to ‘forgive’ Narcula and all the cake he ate during our 34 year marriage. I will walk away from him with a lot more than he thinks of our collected value over the years and not look back. Forgive? Oh HELL NO!!! Narcula will have to suffer the indigestion he deserves from eating cake all those years.

  • I wonder what the writer would think of my Ex husbands family? They made it clear to him that if he chose to be with his Schmoopie then he was essentially cut out of thier lives because what he was doing was sinful and wrong, DUH! To this day they have NC. They know he is ill and broke, but they won’t spend any time or effort on him. He ignored all of them during the torrid affair he was having. When his Dad died we were still legally married and I was always there for his Dad. He and his secret Schmoopie had just left town when they got the news that he had suffered a heart attack. No doubt he was there to try to shove Schmoopie down my FIL’s throat (didn’t happen). The siblings got together to plan the funeral and it was a forgone conclusion that I would attend as his DIL! The Ex thought that it was inappropriate since we were divorcing. His siblings set him straight! I wonder if the writer would call my deceased FIL unforgiving for writing him totally out of his Will for his adulterous actions? Just curious!

    • They really do blow themselves up Roberta. I asked very little of the Limited. Forgave him. The thrill of the chase. I know nothing of what it would take to destroy the love and trust of my family.

      In the aftermath I doubt it was worth it. These are unforgivable acts.

  • This thread reminds me of why reconciliation with a crazy making sociopath is simply incompatible with reality.
    They use your anger against you. That anger becomes, in their mind, the forefront of your marital problems, not their cheating.
    This circuitous crazy making can literally drive the victim on the receiving end insane. You start to wonder if you are on the verge of snapping and if you are capable of doing serious harm. You fantasize about punching the cheater in the face repeatedly, and beating the life out of the affair partner. This isn’t fun and these fantasies cause you to wonder if the cheater is right? Are you the one with the serious issues? Are you the one who needs professional help? (Yes on that one. You need help) and are you the cause of cheater straying in fear for his/her own life and sanity?
    My cheater once asked me if I would ever poison him. I was devastated by his abandonment and he dared to treat me like I was the one who was victimizing him. I was pregnant. Alone. And a complete mess, trying to care for our not yet two year old.
    I have anger issues. I have trust issues. I have the help I need to get through (not past) this shit. It’s going to take time but for any asshole who cares to tell me to move “past” my anger and move on? I say to them- with all due respect- shove your self righteous POS opinions up your squeaky clean anus and fart them back out onto someone who gives a shit. I’m done feeling what I’m told to feel. So fucking done with it.

  • Once I was done, I was done. Being terribly pragmatic, I did the whole lining up the ducks, making sure I had everything I needed, consulted lawyers and accountants, etc. I had to go about 3 months pretending everything was fine. Then I had to go through about 6 weeks of getting him actually moved out of the house. And we successfully used a mediator (no kids, no spousal support, 50/50 split, have nice life), but again I just wanted a signed agreement so I had to keep things pretty low key. I’m not one to go scorched earth on FB, and we did not have many mutual friends so I could talk to my friends and family pretty freely.

    BUT – once I had signed settlement I was fucking brutal. Like I think I made people uncomfortable with how much I vocally, and loudly HATED my ExH. Like just brutal in terms of describing the horrible things he did and said. I talked about the abuse. I talked about the suicide threats. I would shrug and say “I really hate my ExH.”

    I was not prepared for how uncomfortable this hate made people. I guess I felt like I was trying to get them to see how terrible he was and agree with me. To their credit, I’m sure it’s hard to wrap your brain around the fact that the somewhat quiet, but basically nice guy you have hung out with over the years is this nightmare asshole of a person. I can get that people think it seems like I was being dramatic or something. But nope, that shit really happened and I’m not even telling you the worst of it.

    I was fortunate that I had a few friends who were like “Yep, I totally see it.” and were almost relieved to be able to say to me “I’m so glad you are rid of him. I hated that guy.” I guess when we have been lied to, and gaslit, and abused for so long… you crave the validation of someone agreeing with you that this shit is crazy and you are making the right decision.

    • And the people that I see squirm, or doubt me or minimize Scuzzy Soul Sucker’s actions….never will have the pleasure of my company again.

      I have found a freedom in being brutally honest about it. It is super you are “keeping it real.”

      Keeping up Appearances (that show is so great) is exhausting.

  • When I was in the throes of my post-cheater clusterfuck, a friend of mine said something that really set me free. It was: “forgiveness is overrated.” Some people I have forgiven for their wrongs, some I have not. I don’t feel any less free or good of a person for those I haven’t. Some people do unforgivable shit, IMO. And I have the right to determine what works for me and what doesn’t. I think a lot of New Age pop psychology has been really damaging to people, especially this idea of fast-forwarding the experience of being victimized and focusing on forgiveness. Most of the people who preach this, I find phony as hell. The people who really embody it, don’t preach it. I am not God, nor do I pretend to be. I strive toward acceptance and personal empowerment. Period.

  • Reading the letter, I’m seeing a pitiful person who went on the wrong forum.
    She said herself: “I am someone who dealt with the amazing pain that is self-inflicted when you can’t find a way to forgive–or at least try to forgive– someone who has wronged you.”
    She has her own issue and she offers the advise she would give herself, for her situation.
    This is complete bullshit when she has no idea what infidelity feels like or what are the consequences!
    My life turned 180 degrees! I had to change countries! Do you know what that means??? It means relocating and paying for it, selling the old flat and most belongings, finding a place to stay, searching for another job, surviving in the meantime, solving the paperwork, trying to make new connections. It will take me years to recover! I lost 1 year of my life (and income and savings) battling for custody! There is no room in my head, heart or pocket for forgiveness! It’s done!
    When I think of all the other chump stories, so different from mine, I realise that although we are all in pain, the situations are so, so different!
    I don’t wish this kind of experience to anyone! Not even to my enemies!
    Peace everyone! I hope you’ll find your way out and please, deal with the pain however you can! It’s YOUR PAIN, YOUR WAY!

  • There are lots of things the Forgiveness Trolls do not know, but one of them is that many cheaters continue to offend in a multitude of ways even after the affair is over or the divorce is signed.

    They neglect to send child support. Or, the check arrives with a lesser amount and a little note reading, “Sorry, I’m $50 short, I unexpectedly had to pay my new girlfriend’s car payment. I’ll get it to you next week.” Or they do not show up to pick up the kids on the one weekend you have scheduled a date in the last 3 years. Or when you go to pick up the kids, they aren’t there, he ignores your texts, and arrives 3 hours late explaining, “We decided to go to the State Fair. Have you been waiting? Did I forget to tell you?”

    They bring their new love to your church, favorite 5k, and the restaurant you discovered 10 years and introduced him to. They don’t pay debts, and debt collectors come after you.

    They lie to your mutual acquaintances about their actions. They lie about you. They lie to their family and implode relationships that you enjoyed. They lie to your family and exhaust everyone. They lie to their kids. They lie to their kids. They lie to their kids. Then they lie some more to their kids.

    And this is not even touching on the malicious EX spouses–the ones who vandalize your home and car, or are still filing silly civil claims against you five years after the divorce, or stalk you, or otherwise engage in borderline criminal activities (ones that are technically actionable but very difficult to get police and courts to penalize until a definitive pattern of abuse is established–which takes years of time and thousands of dollars). Or the ones who do worse.

    Yep. Forgiveness. All that is missing is our cheery willingness to bestow it.

    • Yes! +1
      I think my cheater X is worse now that we are divorced. Before the divorce he acted like he wanted to reconcile so was outwardly pretty nice to me. But once I filed, the mask came off and he is brutally trashing my reputation and playing victim. I don’t see how he can keep his lies straight in his head – he has a different story for different people depending on their closeness to me. And with the kids he tells them I am a wonderful role model for them. My son sees the truth though and double checked that I have changed the locks…

  • I have an aunt who told me many times that I must forgive in order to move on. Until one day I told her the full story: that he cheated for years, gave me an STD, ran off to OW, married OW 3 days after the divorce, and immediately started a baby. I’m not sure what part of all that was new to her — I had been under the mistaken impression everyone knew.
    My aunt literally turned white and looked away for a long moment. Then she whispered that she still hoped I might one day forgive him but that she herself would never be able to if she were in my shoes.

  • I have to wonder about this troll being so sure her husband hasn’t cheated on her. Some cheaters are very, very good at it. Mine, for example. I was absolutely positive he was the most faithful guy in the world, when in reality he was cavorting with a local whore while secretly paying child support to one out of town.

    Will I ever forgive what he did? Hahaha! I enjoy hating him, it’s so much better than loving him. Plus I have too much respect for myself to ever forgive someone who did me so much harm.

  • Have really liked all the posts today. I agree that for me forgiveness is really close to acceptance. The other thing that it parallels for me is finally not having any focus on XH. I have been 6 years on my own. Two years of total shattering and pitifulness, two years of raging and intense anger and revenge fantasies. And the last couple of years have been a slow shedding of any feelings for my Ex and of growing love for myself and my new life. That is forgiveness I think. It is over – the anguish, the intense pain. Nothing is forgotten though and I will never be duped again.

    • FFH, I love your comment. I hope I’m on your time frame. Just over three years out, and the anger feels like a constant companion. Looking forward to shedding ALL feelings concerning my x, but like you I will never forget anything. The incredulity that someone I trusted would wreak such destruction on what was most precious to me—my family—has not diminished one iota.

  • Hi Chump Lady —

    I remember that darling cartoon placed with this article!! I laughed and laughed at every detail “bunny for your bitterness?” The green devil, his cute smile, rosy cheeks, sweet and caring expression, the bunny, the rainbow in the background, the color yellow — SOOOO masterful!!! And so healing was my laughter.

    The cussing done on this site helps too. Helps heal!!!

    The forgiveness troll cartoon is also excellent. Hands on hips, tapping his toe, using Grover-grammar — rich, rich rich and hilarious.

    Oh, fellow chumps? I work very closely with several people on service projects. Now that my blinders have been ripped off, I can see that there are a couple of manipulators in the bunch —

  • I offered XH forgiveness and also asked him to confess and repent for his affair. His response was that he had done nothing to confess and repent for and said, “That’s all in your head.” He even put his hand on The Bible and swore that he did not commit adultery despite physical evidence to the contrary. At first I couldn’t understand why someone would lie in the face of undisputable evidence but now I just tell myself that he has a Cluster B personality disorder and that his words and actions are consistent with those who have Cluster B personality disorders.

  • Re-read the whole column again, including Forgiveness Troll’s patronizing post that started Tracy on her righteous rant.

    Most of us glossed over this part, “I’m a writer and until about ten years ago I barely made two pennies. Even so, I’m not sure I would have wanted his money if we’d gotten divorced. I would have needed it, but I would have hated relying on him. It’s hard to build up a sense of self worth and potential when you depend on the very person who rejected you.”

    What the fuck is she advocating? That we all give up child support? spousal support (for those 5% who actually get it?). Is this the scenario–we get cheated on, have to move from that nice house in the suburbs into a tiny apartment with two kids and a dog after the divorce. Segue from part-time work or stay-at-home-parent into semi-full-time jobs without good benefits, while being the sane custodial parent, and we should refuse any money from the X? to build up that sense of “self worth and potential” that was trampled when we were betrayed. Because heaven forfend we rely on the person who was supposed to have our emotional and financial backs.

    Sure, Forgiveness Troll, what’s a little malnutrition for the tots because they have to eat 5/$2 ramen noodles every night and dollar store green beans so that we can have a sense of “self-worth” by refusing any aid from our cheating Xs?

    Yes, I know, CL you don’t advocate ” lurching around like Frankenstein, setting fire to small villages,” but damn if re-reading Forgiveness Troll’s letter doesn’t make me feel like doing so.

  • I am trying to help a friend in Nebraska leave her husband. He has been controlling for 30 years and unfaithful many times. She is in treatment for ptsd. She visited a Nebraska lawyer recently who told her she should file for divorce in New York because her husband’s job is on Long Island. Do you have a list of lawyers in New York whom she might contact? Her husband controls all the money, knows when the garage door goes up and where the car goes. The lawyer said the judges in her area don’t care about abuse cases, rule strictly by dividing property evenly.
    I want this guy taken to the cleaners. I have no idea what I have gotten myself into.

      • Well, I am a lawyer who does criminal law BUT I will add some thought that is worth considering. You can file for a divorce in Nebraska and the court can divide the property etc. BUT… because he is in N.Y. you may have an easier time if your divorce is complex and you need to i.e., get a property evaluation, accountants etc. that are known and respected by the court. These are things you will need to consider. Will you be deposing witnesses etc.? I know I am not the only lawyer chump on this site. Please weigh in and feel to agree all you lawyer/chumps. 🙂

        • She does not live in NY ! She said he works in NY! There would have to be considerable assets to make that work! The divorce could drag out for a long time! No fault makes the process quicker ! Very difficult to prove abuse!

          • I do not know what her situation is financially. He may have hidden assets etc. She will have to talk this over with a couple lawyers in consultations to lay out what they MAY be able to go after etc. and look at how good her evidence or ability it is to prove waste of marital assets. They can explain the cost benefit analysis to her. A couple of things she might want to consider. 1) What are his assets. 2) How is her health? 3) Can she get back into the job market and make a decent wage? She may be able to ask for rehabilitative maintenance/alimony for a short period of time or longer depending on her circumstances. 4) She also has to consider how much of a legal fight she is able to stand. ALL of these things need to be considered in ANY situation for any spouse.

            • New York is a Equitable Disribution state! That does not mean 50 / 50! That means it is up to a judge to decide what is fair! Borderlines find ways to get out of maintaince payments and hide money! Lawyers cost a lot to find out! Maintainence is not like child support ! You have to hunt your Ex down if he stops paying and get a lawyer to go after it when they don’t pay! Maintainence is also taxable! Just thought you might want to know!

              • Gail, I agree with your points you are making BUT I would encourage her to ‘think’ through the cost/benefit analysis and consult a couple of lawyers. Initial consultations are usually free or charged a flat fee. I have seen too many posts here on Chumplady.com since I have been a member since 2011 wherein a chump has said. I WISH I would have fought for myself because I had health problems, got sick and basically got screwed because I just wanted it over with. Don’t rush but really think, get information etc., to avoid being in a terrible position later.

              • I agree with you ! But many lawyers will tell you one thing and you later find out another! And being married to a cheater … already puts you at a disadvantage! Many including my Ex plan thier escape for years and steal marital assets in all kinds of ways! And if you are married it’s not stealing it’s commingling. The longer you wait the more risk them getting away with hiding assets! I was married 36 years and had proof that he wanted out! The courts didn’t care! Hope she finds a good judge!

  • arghhh! I just saw a friend who’s husband is still friendly with my Cheater. She asked me “so are you able to be more amicable now?” That’s the question after not socializing for the past few months. At first I thought, soon to be ex and I have been ‘amicable, we don’t fight. You may be remembering what I have tried to share with you int he past about how he has destroyed my sense of trust, sanity, and how deep the lies and vicious deception cut etc. Nope. It’s just a marriage that fell apart equally in her mind.

    But it is time for me to be amicable and forget those silly little lies. So we can all get along.

    The level of self control we chumps maintain in the face of the ignorance of others, it really is a sight to behold.

    • WonderNoMore? I don’t control myself (remain silent), I speak up, it goes like this: (Face not smiling, eyebrows raised) “I don’t want to talk about it.” . . . (continue looking at person, then look away & silence, until the other person breaks it)

    • WNM–reply, “Sure, in the same way I’d be amicable to my rapist.” Then ditch the Switzerland friend. Sorry you had to deal with that.

    • I would ask, sincerely, “Oh! What do you MEAN?” in a bright and sweet way. Put it on HER to explain herself.

      Then, quizzically, “You mean be friends with him? No, I’m afraid I don’t trust him. Have you ever been cheated on by your husband? No? Well…it’s probably really hard to understand just how painful it is–all the ways. No, the good news is that I have moved on! [steal their language] And I am really doing great! [keep it positive] I just have no plans to let him ever hurt me again, you know? Well, I mean, it’s hard for you–I get that.”

      I might even say something like, “Yeah, I really was pretty traumatized and probably said some things in my grief–I’m not sure you could ever understand, and I hope you never ever have to–but I’m in a much better place. You’re so sweet to be concerned! It hasn’t been easy. But I really don’t like to talk about it much with people who haven’t experienced it, you know? It’s really hard for them to understand. My friends who’ve been there have been really supportive, and such a relief. Well, and other friends who have been supportive because they get it–they’ve been so nice.”

      Know what? If they choose your ex? Fuck ’em. And DO NOT DISH about your ex nor about yourself–I would be VERY MUM–because a woman who would ask a shitty question like that probably LURVES to feed gossip kibbles to your ex. I mean, cheating would never happen to her because she’s so forgiving and even if it did she would be so forgiving. For the children. Because, forgiveness. And other buzz words that go along with having no clue.

      Now I’m pissed. What a bitch.

      • I think I want to press on the whole “amicable” thing. Just lean in and say, “What do you mean?” Then when she explains, ask another question. Never ever deny–don’t refute. NEVER say, “I do NOT yell at him! I do not stalk him! I don’t send angry texts?” Just, “What should I do?” Then, ask for more explanation. Just in the sweeeeetest, most innocent way. Wide-eyed. Then when the bitch gets pissy/exasperated, say, “Oh! I’m sorry! Don’t be mad! Why are you mad? I’m just trying to understand–I really am!” All breathlessly airy and sweet as hell.

        Bitch!

  • I think one thing Forgiveness Trolls don’t understand is just HOW MANY times the average chump has forgiven a cheater. I know I certainly did, probably hundreds of times.

    I was going to divorce him the minute I found out the ex was a cheater, but we had a young child and I decided to reconcile. Thus started my years long cycle of forgiving and being treated like shit for it.

    Every single cycle of forgiveness brought even worse treatment. Catch him texting whore. Forgive.

  • Find whores number in phone under strange name. Forgive. Hey insulted about appearance. Forgive. Get lied to. Forgive. Get gaslighted. Forgive. He knew whatever he did , he’d be forgiven. Hell, he’d even get some sex out of it.

    Then he did a couple of things I couldn’t forgive and I dumped his ass. So I guess he used up his allotment of forgiveness. All gone.

  • I’ve really never understood WHAT forgiveness is, in the way the pro-forgiveness folks promote it.

    They’ll say, “Well, it’s for YOU. It lets YOU move on.”

    I mean, I really don’t get it. What do you DO to forgive???

    Maybe I take the word to literally: FOR + GIVE. I see it as like a gift or a pass. Like, “Hey–we all make mistakes. It’s ok.” And those are words I can’t see myself saying to The Coward.

    I have a very high standard for this forgiveness, the way I understand the concept. It’s more like this: person does something horrible–just awful. And person HURTS people, with recklessness, and maybe even on purpose. THEN. Person has an epiphany. Person feels shame and remorse. Person takes great pains to not only COMMUNICATE this most humbly (truly humbly, not fake humbly) never thinking to ask for forgiveness, because, you see, their remorse is NOT about THEM. It’s about the pain they’ve caused, the mess they’ve made. Their pain and humiliation is real, but they’re focused on making sure the person/people they hurt is ok in spite of what they caused. Person goes to some lengths to change for the better, to change for the better by behaving morally, by trying to right wrongs, fully cognizant of the fact that some broken things cannot be fixed. Still, restitution is not just offered feebly in an empty way, but truly. The focus is on ensuring that he/she does not repeat their mistakes, does not re-offend. They fully understand or TRY to, just how–in detail, though painful–how they hurt the other person, and they do whatever it takes to not be the type of person who would reoffend. Hurty person feels PAIN for being an asshole, not for being SEEN as an asshole, and there is a difference. Hurty person expects NOTHING from the person/people he/she hurt, because, after all, they are indebted, and not the other way around.

    And then the person who was hurt sees this transformation, this SINCERITY, the EFFORT, the transformation, the goodness, the INTEGRITY, and says, you know what? It’s cool. It’s ok. The past is the past, you seem like you get it, and you’re not going to do that sort of thing again. I forgive you. I give you a pass. People make mistakes, and you–by golly–you are really trying. Not fake trying, but really trying, and you’re going to be different. I’m ok, and if you stay on that path you’re on, you’ll be ok. I may not want to be friends, but let’s let this go.

    THAT is forgiveness to me. It takes effort from the offender.

    The chances of that happening with an entitled, narcissistic, passive-aggressive, soul-sucking vampire are prrrrrrrretty slim.

    Therefore!

    My goal, as I have stated here, is indifference. Not forgetting–I will never forget. Not friendship–I will NOT be a cheater’s friend. I have no use for a coward who hurts my family in my life. No, my goal is to live a full life of beauty and love, and to limit danger and chaos, including people who hurt. And once toxic people are minimized in my life, then I can feel indifferent toward them, because they are not relevant to my life.

    Anyway, that’s the way I see it.

    • Also, I do NOT believe in forgiving on behalf of someone else. My kids are welcome to forgive their father in whatever way works for them. I do not. I can not.

    • Well said Stephanie. I agree, forgiveness only seems relevant when there is a relationship to mend. Smug trolls should just leave the chumps alone!!

  • My STBXH said “hopefully the worst pain is is in the past and we can all move forward” Really you fucking asshole, the pain is still swallowing me whole. This after a false reconciliation(yea I was a fool and believed his lies) and the 2nd DDAY that opened my eyes wide. I am moving on, have consulted lawyers , told my adult sons(hardest thing to do) …..btw your father has cheated on me so the marriage is over…..when I really wanted to say “you’re father is a whore slut homewrecking pig……but I will not roll in the mud with the ass. Also the mother in law asked what was missing in our marriage that would force her son to seek an affair…….you really have to laugh at these idiots……I will never forgive him, I will work toward the meh feeling, no love no hate just meh!!

  • This thread is so mind blowing! So many lies!

    Here’s my contribution, in the form of actual text conversations between my x and the OW, and between him and me.

    Cheater to OW: Can you watch the game at 3:30?
    OW to cheater: Yes, definitely
    Cheater to OW: Is your house ok? If the game gets boring we can always play doctor and nurse.
    OW to cheater: Yes, definitely
    Cheater to OW: I’ll be the nurse. LOL. What is your favorite chardonnay?
    OW to cheater: You can never go wrong with Ferrari Carano Chateau, La Crema Frei Brothers Reserve (it’s buttery!)
    Cheater to OW: Ok. How do you feel about some sushi to snack on also?
    OW to cheater: Yes, perfect. If you can find a Dragon Roll…I love them
    Cheater to OW: OK I will look just for you. Hopefully it’s like Cialis.
    OW to cheater: Do you want me to pick you up? Just finishing up things at office. Can’t wait to see you.
    Cheater to OW: Yes that would be fantastic. Text me when you’re leaving.

    Cheater to me: I’m going to watch the game tonight with Rich and Mark. I’ll grab something to eat and be home after.
    Me to cheater: OK sounds good. Tell Rich and Mark I said hi.
    Me to cheater: By the way, daughter and I will be watching “The Returned” unless you have any strenuous objections.
    Cheater to me: Can’t u watch something else?
    Me to cheater: I suppose we could. But you are the one deserting us.
    Cheater to me: Whatever

    We had been watching the French series “The Returned” as a family and really enjoying it. The cheater wanted daughter and me to wait to watch it until he got home from screwing his mistress.

    • These text conversations hurt even though they don’t belong to me and even though I have myself found many much worse stuff both texting and pictures from the cruel exnarc who lived with me and our three children.
      I’m beginning to think that, beyond not living this painful experience, people who can’t empathize with us are either potential cheaters or uncaught cheaters in denial. Hypocrites.
      Be strong dear champchump.

  • >