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Dear Chump Lady, Should I take back Sparkles The Magnificent Personality Changing Dry Drunk Unicorn?

unicorn_cheaterDear Chump Lady,

I am currently in limbo while I get the finances in order and fully decide what I will do. He wants to reconcile but I am leaning toward breaking up because after what he’s done I don’t think I will ever trust and love him the way I want to be able to trust and love a husband.

In the meantime he is being the great guy he used to be and I have my boundaries firmly in place. I keep wondering though if he is genuinely changed (all of his actions are in line with unicorn status) or if he is hoovering. He seems genuine, but I am reminded that he was also every bit as convincing when he was being an asshole for several drunken years.

My question is, how long can the average cheater get by without dropping ANY red flags? I am so picky now I analyze everything he does to make sure I’m not being conned, while healing myself. Suddenly sounds like double work for me, again. What a fucking surprise that is. At least I’m not harboring resentment 🙂 and besides he does mow the lawn and help with the childcare and housework. Wait, did someone just shout “Hopium!” at me? Anyway, his behavior checks out fine right now but at what point would I really know for sure? Can they fake actual nice for years? I’m already nervous enough about the alcoholism coming back up later on.

I read online that it’s recommended to give the behavior a year to see if it is hoovering. It has been four months so far. It will be about a year from now before I can truly afford to break it off if I decide to. So far I am keeping my emotional connection at friend level because I don’t want to get hurt again. Limbo sucks like we all know.

I am leaning toward getting out because all of his alcoholism and cheating and lying bullshit wasn’t and isn’t my problem and it’s all dealbreakers in my original book anyhow. But then I will sometimes feel like I am better off giving this a try for the children because he was great for many years like he is now and besides who’s to say I won’t pick another seemingly nice guy who will turn into a jerk later. As I am writing this, however, I am angrily wondering if that is my con right there — a shit sandwich for me and another try at this relationship for Sparkles the Magnificent Personality-Changing Dry-Drunk Unicorn. I think part of me would rather risk becoming a bitter old lady who gardens and whose company consists of her children and possible grandchildren, a few friends, a dog, and her principle of eat no shit.

Obviously, I am confused. Any clarity you can impart will be much appreciated.



Dear Hawk,

Well personally, I aspire to grow old (and bitter) gardening. So that’s hardly a terrible fate in my book. Compared with nursing Sparkles the Magnificent Personality-Changing Dry-Drunk Unicorn through sobriety and monogamy 12-step, I’ll take the hollyhocks any day.

You didn’t give me much to go on with Sparkle’s miraculous 4-month transformation other than he mows the lawn and notices his children. Is he in AA? Therapy? Has he pressured you for reconciliation?

I would think if Sparkles was serious about getting his shit together, he would not pressure you to reconcile with him. His sobriety should be his first focus, not ensuring that you hold his hand through this lest he fail. And it sounds like he has two impulse control problems — booze and fucking around. So he needs 12-step on at least a couple fronts.

Here is what I know about addiction — it’s often a life-long struggle, relapse is common (if not expected), and support is essential. Recovery is a lifestyle for many — weekly meetings, the support of sponsors, avoiding triggers and temptations. It’s not a poof! I’m suddenly a guy who does housework kind of transformation — it’s a slog. A struggle. Replacing shitty coping mechanisms with healthy, not-so-fun ones.

Frankly, I’d expect a guy who is truly in AA recovery, or sex addict recovery (or whatever stop whoring around looks like) to be rather a sullen, self-involved grump, if he’s doing it right. If he’s sparkly and magnificent? Yeah, that shit would give me pause. I would suspect he’s hoovering.

I am always suspicious of cheaters whose self improvement is contingent upon you staying with them. I mean, shouldn’t their lust for self-improvement go beyond you? An indication of a cheater getting it, IMO, is losing the entitlement thinking. Ergo, they’d lose the notion that they’re entitled to a reconciliation, or your continued support. They would accept the consequences of their actions and make amends in tangible ways that are not housework.

What do I mean by tangible ways? A fair, uncontested divorce settlement. A commitment to addiction recovery regardless of your presence in their life. A moral inventory where they own what they’ve done and don’t blameshift any of it to you.

If you really want to stay married to this person, I’d want to see accountability in the form of a generous post-nup so you’d have a ready-to-go divorce in case they fall off the wagon.

Sorry to me does NOT look like you assume all the risk and they’ll try harder at this sobriety, fidelity thing…. maybe.

What’s wrong with just getting on with your life, divorcing the man, and he gets better (or not) on his own time? He can always decide to date you sober again later. But I suspect after some time away from the chaos of living with him, you wouldn’t take him up on it.

Because Hawk, twitchy is no way to live. I am so picky now I analyze everything he does to make sure I’m not being conned, while healing myself. 

You cannot heal yourself at the same time you’re being hypervigilant that he’s not a screw up. Analyzing everything he does is NOT soothing. It’s trying to control the uncontrollable. It’s a sign that you feel very unsafe in this relationship.

So listen to yourself — you don’t know if he’s genuine, because he’s seemed genuine before at you got played. You spend a lot of time untangling his skein and playing marriage police to assure yourself that you’re NOT being played. In other words, you just don’t trust the guy. And with good reason.

When that trust is gone, IMO, your relationship is dead. Can trust be regained? Theoretically, yes, but it’s that unicorn I write about. It’s a slog. It’s not months, it’s years. It requires you investing heavily in his potential. And he’s already proven himself to be a bad risk.

People aren’t roulette wheels. Ooh! We hit on a good spell! He’s not drinking! Wheel turns. Uh oh, he’s cheating. Wheel turns. Shit, he’s drinking again. Wheel turns. Oh hey, he mowed the lawn!

You don’t want to lay all your money down that you’re going to hit red 7. You get up from the table and go find a more stable source of income than gambling. You surround yourself with reliable, consistent people who demonstrate good character over time. You invest in yourself and put the focus back on your own life. THAT is what healing looks like. You have some agency here. Not everything depends on him and his fragile state of monogamy and sobriety. You have “original deal breakers”? Enforce them. Start controlling you and walk away from what you don’t control — him.

This column ran previously.

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  • Not exactly the same as me, but I can wholly endorse CL’s advice based upon my experience.

    My entitled ex refused to sign a PN and said she could either work on herself or work on the PN with me…. Not both. I told her to work on a divorce filing instead.

    What I found incredible is that someone hell bent on reconciliation wouldn’t just do the work anyway. Anything short of that is very telling as they’re not genuine about self improvement – rather, it’s about keeping you in the game. Signing a PN means loss of control to them. Keeping you off balance whilst they “work” on their issues means control to them.

    CL didn’t mention this, but don’t forget that a busted cheater will be wise and learn how to cheat despite surveillance from the marriage police. Mine did that – she thought she had gotten away with it. But, regardless, who wants to live like that!?!

    Give the guy and yourself some space. If he genuinely wants to get better, he will. But you don’t have to bet on it and you can start healing yourself.

    And listen to CL ….

    • Hawk.

      I know this ran previously so if you’re out there please let us know how you are doing now.

      I agree with CL that at some point, you have to stop investing in potential and deal with reality! After 30 plus years I can’t tell you the number of times my ex would stop drinking for awhile (okay…so probation gave him the incentive a couple of times!) which I found confusing and actually produced hopium like thoughts for me. I’d think…but maybe he isn’t an alcoholic…he’s so over-whelmed and stressed…it’s me…I’m not doing enough to help him. BWAAHHAAA Truth? He’s just another messed up pod person living his life with the sole focus of how to get sexual satisfaction this minute. I am so thankful it is no longer at my expense. To all the newbies out there – don’t do what I did (that everyone else told me NOT to do) and fall for this type of Image Management again. When they show you who they are, never forget it. Stop investing in them as life will never be a Norman Rockwell painting with these types. Hugs to all.

  • Did he blame the cheating on his drunkenness? The Limited went through dry periods substituting weed while he mowed the lawn. The cheating went underground for years until he finally ended up with a bar whore with his lack of values.

    No surprise that in the end he blamed his cheating on the me stating that I never forgave him for cheating. It was never his problem after all. It was mine.

    You can be hyper vigilant and build back trust until the next time. Cheating isn’t a drinking problem; it’s a character issue.

    Get a PN and guarantee at least one thing. Personally, I’d move on and file as there is always a next. Why waste your life on a project.

    • Thank you for that! “Cheating isn’t a drinking problem, it’s a character issue.” My XH just quit drinking and I think he thinks this will get me back. He has cited alcoholism and his “lack of action” before our marriage as reasons for cheating. I don’t care if he has been dry for 20 years though, I don’t want him back because I agree, “it’s a character issue.”

      • Pagan, I would suggest you read “Why does he do that?” by Lundy Bancroft.

        This book was enlightening, as it described the behavior patterns of abuser, I saw my X’s actions in clearer and clearer light. Since I moved out, he’s shown many textbook traits of cluster Bs. I am so very glad I exited my marriage after DDay#1 instead of giving him another chance.

  • You won’t (trust him, love him). He won’t (stay sober, quit fucking around). The end.

    I was married to an alcoholic for many years. I would never recommend it to anyone. I know that sounds harsh but it is what it is. It’s a very very very tough road for these people’s family. I would never do it again. In my quest to avoid Alcoholics, I ended up with a lying, whore mongering cheater. Sounds like you got both. Four words for you. He’s not worth it.

    • Mine was a binge drinking alcoholic who went walk about with his band mates for days at a time while I was at home with bubs in nappies and no money.
      He would end up with dts and be out of touch for days, oh forgot to mention I was dropping kids at childcare and going to work heartbroken, not knowing where the heck he was.
      I remember standing in the hall way and fighting the voices in my head that said he was no good and I should leave.
      Fear kept me in that place, he got sober 5 years ago turning into fitness and clothes buying freak and started cheating. Said I resented him getting sober and having confidence and that I liked him being small.
      Yeah life was sure fun, him drinking and having no money and two kids, one with chronic exzcema and bring a working mum of toddlers, it was a blast.
      He also dabbled in gambling would be on and off anti depressants and Valium, would never tell me.
      He even took the same anti depressant that I took that triggered a psychotic episode in me when I was 18 resulting in me trying to kill myself. I hate anti depressants as a result and why the fuck would he take the one I had such a horrific experience with.
      He has been sober for 5 years but is a dry drunk who rages and has some angst and bitterness for the world he thinks has wronged him, yawn, always blaming and dramatising.
      Serious energy drain. He goes in circles. To me people with addictions live in purgatory and are never free. I don’t have the energy to deal with it anymore, gave him plenty of help and energy, not appreciated and addicts are fundamentally selfish.
      Would not date addictive personality type again, hell no, you can’t fix them

      • I understand. My ex also went on weekend binges. The thought of the anxiety and fear it used to bring me makes me want to cry.

        He too gave up drinking and became a health freak. Then had a full blown affair.

        It’s mad when I think how on Earth I forgave him every time he went on s bender. I suppose I wanted him to be normal so badly because I truest loved the person I thought he was when he wasn’t drinking.

        But yes, they swap one path of self destruction to another.

    • Mine was an alcoholic cheater pot smoker and occasionally an opiate abuser. I am straight as an arrow surely my good influence would rub off! Yeah it never did

      • Mine managed all three simultaneously: drinking, health freak, and cheating. Throw in some emotional, financial, physical abuse and a whole flask of hopium. It was great!

  • I want to share a piece of my experience. I always read in letters that chumps are waiting to save money to get this or that in order before filing for divorce.

    Uncle Dad stopped paying the bills–including the mortgage–about 3 months before I discovered the sonogram pictures on his phone late one night. I was a stay at home mom at the time. Upon finding said sonogram photos, I confronted him, and ended up with dermabond in my scalp and EMS in my driveway at 5am. He cooled his jets in jail for 48 hours.

    I filed for divorce a week later with an overdrawn bank account, a house going into foreclosure, utilities with cutoff notices, and a car weeks away from repossession.

    Now, to be fair, my stepmom is my attorney, and I had a lot of help from The Bank of Dad–even at 33 years old. I was able to get a job, keep my house, and my car. I ultimately was granted sole custody of my two girls, and Uncle Dad has supervised visitation, which he stopped using over a year ago.

    On the flip side, he has only paid 12 months of child support in the 3 years we have been legally separated and divorced.

    So, there will always be a reason that you need more money. You never feel like there is enough money in these situations.

    But take it from a girl who left with a significant negative balance–You can leave at any time and make it work. You have resources that will help you. The state is helping me now collect on my almost $15,000 in back child support.

    You can do it. You just have to believe that you can. BIG HUGS!

    • Awesome Kelli, like you, I was scared that I would not be able to financially recover from having put his career before mine for over a decade…

      I was thankful that with a lot of introspection, and a darn good amount of chutzpah, two years post-DDay and a few months post-divorce, I was offered a job that paid 3x more than my previous one.

      I am as NC as shared custody allows, it is a hard road of continued consequences for my decision to breed with a disordered fuckwit, but at least I am on solid financial footing, I can travel, and save for my retirement without nearly as much of the stress I was under while living with a drama king.

  • Hawk,

    What you have now (you playing marriage police, him holding it together and appearing to be nice) is the BEST you can hope for several years out if you stick around. He broke something (trust), and it’s going to be a difficult repair job.

    It might be better, long term, to let him get sober and stop cheating on his own. Then, if he can woo you again, it’s like a fresh start (almost). Or, as CL says, maybe you won’t want to head down that path again.


  • Oh yes, grass mowing…one of the things my wreckonciled cheater did. What he didnt do was tell me the full truth. Our marriage was based on lies and I gave him SO much more credit for being a decent spouse than I should have. Me thinks Mr Sparkles is trying to avoid consequences and is playing you.

    I had promised myself earlier in the whole mess that if I got to a certain point and the marriage wasn’t what I needed it to be, I would leave. I wonder how long I would have waited, I had my money in the bank and my plan in my head when God decided He had had enough and opted instead to remove lawnmowing lying man from my life via The Bright Light.

    Just because we start a wreckonciliation with them doesnt mean we have to finish it. Keep getting your ducks in a row and be ready to pull the trigger whether you see the mask slip or not.

    • Lol, mine did the lawn mowing , too. With a 12 pack. That was his “reward”. Who does that? Alcoholics, that’s who. Never again.

      • Because mowing on the riding lawn mower is fun! Not the trim with the push mower, not the weed eating, not the back breaking labor part.

        These clowns are so predictable.

        *Mine did it too.

        And acted like I should call the Red Cross or EMTs for a health check for him listening to his iPod, drinking a Red Bull and Vodka while mowing my flat, already mowed yard in 65 degree weather. The horror!

        • The ONE and ONLY time in the 46 year marriage XH mowed the lawn (push, but with motor), several neighbors came to watch and another rode his bike over to watch as well!

            • He shoulda charged admission-most crab asses expect to be paid for simply inhaling and exhaling and allowing you to share the unlimited hoax-agyn. Yes, that’s correct: Pay them for (over) playing the role as any dues paying card holding Actor’s Guild member would demand.

              Yeah, it’s a long way to the ground when ya pass out intoxicated and fall off the riding lawn mower. In those situations, it’s too bad the thing shuts off automatically: It would be far more productive if it simply defaulted to it’s Zero Radius Turns.

              • Tundra Woman. OMG. SO FUCKING FUNNY! And so true. Needed the fantasy visual. Especially while eying the 0 turn John Deere Mower.

        • Mine was a runaway abandoner and after he left I was so worried about how I would manage mowing the 3 acres on the ride-on mower. Up to that point I’d done the endless weeding, trimming, planting, mulching etc. – it wasn’t until I mowed the first time I realized how easy, almost pleasant mowing was and that I’d gotten the short end of the stick on yard work for years!

          • Exactly! Me too. Mine required me to stand nearby to pick up or move anything he pointed to, and open and close the gate. He never did weedeating so the edges were overgrown and looked awful.

            With him gone, I mow just fine. I have earbuds under my earmuffs, and I belt out my music, my singing drowned out by the mower. Also, I have learned how to set the mower to remain on when I get off, and I can even manage the gate without getting off the mower! Plus I edge, as that finishes the job and I hated how he left things.

          • What is it with them and the riding mower? Three acres here – and it is fun! He liked it because, as I read in his texts, he could dream of his schmoopie! And sext her.

            He still drops by to mow the yard (separated soon hopefully to be divorced) as a surprise. It’s already done but he does it anyway.

            • I dunno. I was always suspicious of that shit eaten grin. Kinda wondered if the vibration gave them a yard-on.

              • Yard-on!!! Hahaha! Tundra Woman you would be fun to have a beer with. I think I’d pee myself laughing though…;)


          This is what tipped the balance to the Traitor giving up on me (!?!?) after 3DDays apparently. Not the cheating and lack of character.
          I wouldn’t take care of our postage stamp lawn, because I don’t give a shit, put sheep on it. So I made 2 efforts as part of wreckonciliation, one the selleria above, two I bought an electric mower for Traitor as a surprise present during wreckonciliation to get on with it because he whinged he wanted the “pristine neatness of a mowed lawn” and claimed I wouldn’t “allow” him to have one (wrong, I even bought him a push mower years earlier…ha, ha!). Why pushmower, why electric? He demanded in MC. Because you’re concerned about global warming, you’ve campaigned in the local elections against fossil fuels, you been in the Green Party (twice, long story) so burning fossil fuels to mow a lawn is illogical. I respected your self-proclaimed values. So now he whinged that he didn’t get to choose his mower. Of course, it’s obvious that he wanted to parade in front of the sheep (no neighbours within 2 kms) on a ride-on mower the size of a tractor on a lawn the size of our living room. He even used the farm tractor once to mow the 1m wide road verge. Dickhead.
          I recommend these strategies if you want to chase off your cheater. They just want to play with big toys.

          • What is it with these dickheads and lawnmowers. When we moved out of an apartment and bought a house we had virtually no land. Maybe max 500 square metres, which included the house. The farmer at the back was selling a riding lawnmower and ex WANTED TO BUT IT!!!! For a piece of land as big as my bloomers. I mean, FFS, he would have had to do a 350 point turn to get it going in the other direction! Then when I wanted to turn over a small plot of land to a vegetable plot he bought the biggest, most expensive rototiller you have ever seen – and I think my veggie plot was maybe 10 metres by 20! My 80 year old neighbour just leaned on his shovel and smile benignly!

            • “wanted to BUY it” – not “BUT it” – oh my where are my glasses?

            • I had an argument with the lawn service years ago after they uprooted my edging etc. I had to go out of town and asked my x to mow the lawn. He didn’t, but he did go buy a fucking ride on. Go figure. I now own said ride on and mow the lawn. It’s green this week meaning I will have to do it while kids are at dickheads….they are offing weird about mowers….

      • Did anyone else’s alcoholic do this – just before we’d walk out the door to DRIVE somewhere, he would take a big chug off his bottle of Jim Beam! OK, let’s get going. ????
        I can’t believe I would get in the car, beaten-down Chump right here.
        Oh thank you CL! I no longer have to live that way!

          • Mine used to stop by the pub and pound a few down before picking up our son from preschool. Fun stuff. When he told me where he was, like it was no biggie, I relieved him from that responsibility. I mean I loved that I didn’t have to drive 30 minutes to get our child, but knowing that cheater was picking him up after drinking 3+ beers (strong, local, craft beers) made me sick to my stomach. I was terrified for the safety of our child; and of CPS being called because some drunk asshole was driving his kid home from preschool.
            When alcoholism​ is involved, everything else is an afterthought. Wife, children, responsibility… Everything.

    • This.

      Just because we start a wreckonciliation with them doesnt mean we have to finish it.

      Nothing commits you to staying. You can and should be prepared to walk away. Get a post nup. And walk away even if you just want to.

  • The Marriage Police has NOTHING on the Alcohol Police, believe me. I got to the point I could smell it on him a mile away, and could tell if he’d had anything to drink within like 3 seconds. This got me absolutely no where, by the way.

    Another fun thing was that I got to live like I was the alcoholic. I gave up drinking several years before we split because if I drank too it would escalate to violence if I didn’t watch what I said. If he wasn’t drinking, I had to abstain cause he couldn’t be around anyone who drank. Including me. No wine with dinner, no beer during the football game, no margaritas on Cinco de Mayo. Nothing ever.

    • Hey Peeps!!!!
      I’ve been back reading up on CL. I need it to remind myself of the hell on earth I was in for 18 years. Since I’m at meh, my anger is gone. The ClusterFuck B Sociopath now recognizes how hard he fucked himself. Poor sad sausage, at times I feel sorry for him?.
      CL and CN fix that in a hurry.
      Anywho, Anita’s post brought back some fantastic memories. “If I drank too it would escalate to violence if I didn’t watch what I said”
      I stopped going out with him entirely. He would then come home and verbally harass me for hours on end. It wasn’t only me who he abused, it could be anyone in the bar he would pick fights with. He was an uncivilized fucking asshole using alcohol as a reason to let that inner devil rear its Sociopath head.
      Fast forward to today- my husband to be and I stop for a drink just about every night after work. We laugh and talk, he is calm, kind to everyone, and I haven’t stepped on an eggshell in ages.
      It is the most fun I have ever had being with a sane man who loves me like crazy. I appreciate him so much for the littlest things.
      These fuckers who wreak havoc and pain??? Fuck them. There are much better choices I discovered. I trust one thing only where the ClusterFucks of the world are concerned “the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.”
      The excruciating pain myself and others suffered? I wouldn’t want to go thru it again, but I would knowing now the end result. Happiness, Peace, and freedom from constant chaos. Run newbies!!!! Run like hellfire is on your heels away from these fake whorefucking fuckers.

      • Good times, right, EXorcist ! Glad you found a great guy.

        Alcos are a total package. Personally I find them worse than cheaters. But, hey, total package, they are usually cheaters too.

        Under the influence of alcohol, this guy was Satan Incarnate. The worst thing with the cheater, is he acted EXACTLY like him when he was under the influence of the whore. Sounded the same, looked the same, was the same. Never again. If I see that one time in anyone, I am done.

        • Anita — what are you saying here? That alcohol had the same impact on Satan as did whore?

        • I also wonder if you are saying that whore was similar to alcohol for him. STBX is not an alcoholic, but Schmoopie seems to affect him similar to the way alcohol and drugs affect some people and his behavior in regards to her is similar to how I understand addictive behavior. She becomes a priority over other things that should be more important (like family), he lies and cheats to get what he wants. He hides and evades, he spends money on her. In short he is causing himself and the people he is supposed to care about harm because the need to get that next fix of all consuming. He has implied on occasion that things are not always sunshine and roses with Schmoopie either and yet he persists. He can’t give her up. If you tell him he has a problem, however, he will deny it and take offense (and when he takes offense he never lets go of that). He behaves in ways that most would see as irrational. Meanwhile he is always tired, has bloodshot eyes (that’s how I could always tell when he was thinking about Schmoopie early on), and he forgets things (he used to never forget anything).

          • He’s too busy hiding in her back yard worshipping at Yard Henge during the Whore Solstice.

      • Thanks Ex-orcist!! I love your breezy, fun, healed attitude and it makes me think that I can get there too!!

      • Exorcist, so good to see your post and congrats on finding a great guy! It gives me hope that I will find one too ?

  • First of all, LOVE this headline! 🙂

    The part I want to comment on is the part where she wondered whether it’s worth leaving based on whether she might just pick another guy who seems nice and turns out to be a jerk.

    First, this assumes, whether overtly or covertly, that the only road to life must include a partner.

    Second, we meet people all the time who seem nice but aren’t worthy of the depth of our hearts. That’s where fixing your picker comes in. It takes a lot longer to truly know a person deeply than most of us realize. Relationships that form quickly are occasionally strong, but it’s true much more often that a person who charms you quickly into more intimacy than makes sense for the time you have invested is playing you in some way.

    Call me jaded… And I am, it’s true. Still, it makes sense to me that focusing on your own life without another person first is critically important to the picker-fixing process.

    • This post really hits home! I think that whole initial charm was what lead to 25 years of hopium. Nobody was around to counsel me on my choices- like the fox guarding the hen. The few distant dissenters were ignored at the coaxing of the fox. It is hard to trust my instincts after all those years of denying them.

      Sounds like hawk has the right instinct to leave but like a good chump, she is questioning herself at the advice of the fox. How do we get past that “what if I am wrong?” My mother would never make decisions for fear of making the wrong choice- can I avoid this pitfall of questioning? It made me a great partner for a narc who always wants to control everything- even a unilateral divorce. I have got a lawyer and taken some control but it is far from done and I still question myself all the time!

      • >>”It is hard to trust my instincts after all those years of denying them.”

        This sentence is outstandingly accurate for my situation as well (and, I suspect, for a large portion of Chumpdom).

        • I had my intuition tamped so far down by the time chaos rained down, I wasn’t sure I could recover it. I highly recommend reading “The Gift of Fear”. I ended up reading that book twice and it helped to put me back in touch with myself. Give it a try Feelinit and JesssMom

          Jedi Hugs!

  • I went to therapy and the S-anon, the group for the partners of “Sex Addicts” (which I don’t believe in anymore). Although I gained a lot of help in that group, was able to tell people my story for the first time without any shame, tried to learn to “Let go and let God”, but it wasn’t until I read Chump Lady that I truly internalized the question, “What do I need?” “What is acceptable to me?” Maybe because I was in a high demand religion, that puts individuals second and the institution of marriage first- a shit sandwich was acceptable to me for a while, but as things didn’t change, the path became clear. I still can find myself untangling other people’s skien, and the clarity of Chump Lady always centers me- What do I need?

    • Anna, thank you, you’re words have helped me have a moment of clarity. Not only have I tried to untangle Mr Cheaterpants’ skein, I have also wasted a considerable amount of time trying to untangle that of the OW – ie. What is with her?! BPD waif (thank you CL, that was very interesting), narcissist, sociopath??? – when I should have just trusted that they both suck and work on my own stuff. I have spent too much time in my life trying to understand what makes bad/damaged people tick, in the hope I can somehow reach some peace, a point of connection that I can see why they might have done that because of this or that, where-as I just needed to get the hell out and leave them alone to do their fucked-up stuff. Thinking about it, I do it constantly, where as I should just be moving on and away, but I guess it is a key characteristic of chumps. Thank you again, I hope life is going well for you away from the crazy.

  • Run for the hills…
    My ex was extremely involved in recovery for a long time, completely turned his life around.(or so I and everyone else thought)
    One addiction just turned into new addictions.
    He took off with someone he met thru the program, the discard was brutal.
    His mask was ripped off and his shady other life came to the fore front.
    People who are disordered , do not change, they may be clean and sober but they have issues you can never fix ( believe me, I tried).
    I was co dependant and sacrified myself emotionally& finacially in the process.
    It is so scary to let go of a life you have come to except as normal….I now put the energy I gave to save him into saving myself, to be the sane parent, I no longer have to live in a shit storm of controlled disorded chaos, You won’t see that until you get your freedom.
    Make a plan, get out and don’t look back.
    I hope I have not offended anyone who deals with these addictions.
    I and others had a false sense that everything was going to be ok when the recovery process with him began, do not kid yourself.

    • little, please believe me. No one who is working a recovery program gets offended by the Truth: They embrace it.
      With every bit as much tenacity as they did their addiction.

      Good on ya, little. You have demonstrated more courage in that one decision and follow through than any addict and a ton of non-addicts I’ve ever encountered throughout my life have or will. Your children and their children will benefit beyond description from your Mighty and they will love, honor and remain in awe and inspiration of the role model you are providing them all the days of their lives.

    • Little Red Riding Hood – I so relate to this. He did well for a number of years then the near beer, then beer, then hard stuff, then young coworker, brutal discard, continued crazy making and ridiculous justifications… they don’t change…yep me the codependent sacrificer….. sucks

  • Yes, I second that with the money situation. My XH had stopped paying the mortgage too without telling me. I alone am dealing with a short sale and the foreclosure process while he has started a new life-if that means the same old addict pattern he has done in the past-get a fixer to handle those messy things like bill paying and making him look respectible-he had wife appliance number 1 and 2 (I am lucky number 2;) for that bit.
    I am amazed at what I have accomplished financially though without that toxic presence. You may be amazed too how much easier life is without your addict around…even clean, their entitlement tends to hang around…look up “king baby”-it’s basically NPD way of explaining the “dry drunk” behavior.
    I think that addicts want to change one moment and don’t the next. That is what comes with being disordered/an addict. My XH addict came to me after the divorce process was already in the works. He had been suspended from his job for too many sick days and he had been cancelling repeatedly on our daughter for visitation he requested. He “wanted to talk”, ie., manipulate me. He told me all the right things with a bunch of “please pity me” thrown in because that is what always got me in the past. He was only “sort of” seeing his AP that he left us for, and was determined to “be the good person he knows he can be”. By that time the mask was off for me and that “talk” (his speech) I found repulsive. When he said,”I will regret what I did for the rest of my life” and “I wish I could fight for my marriage”, I knew he was only saying those things to get his life “easy” again-meaning, he gets his appliance who he can bully into doing all the responsible stuff that he can’t/doesn’t want to handle rather than try to fix himself in any meaningful way. He might have well said, “it’s too hard to be a grown up! I need your help!” And I would have respected him more;)

    One week after we divorced he was living in the 16 year younger AP’s apartment. He has a new appliance.
    He needs someone to “do” for him. I actually feel a bit sorry for her because I was in her shoes 10 years ago.
    I felt the same way you did about kids. I didn’t want my daughter to not have him around. When we were married, although I thought he was clean, I knew there was something wrong. He struggles with major impulsiveness and rage and can’t get out bed a lot of time but I resigned myself with “being the strong one”. I now know that was an awful model for my child and I am so relieved that she isn’t around that on my end any more. Please consider that in trying to make a this desicion. Best of luck to you. I must say that although this year has been surreally hard, I do find an amazing amount of fulfillment in “fixing” my life. I guess being the “fixer”/codependent is definitely the better role to have if you have to be in a bad marriage.

    • Alcoholics Anonymous – North East Wales

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      King Baby Characteristics

      ‘King Baby’ is a title sometimes conferred on us, especially in early recovery, and refers to the characteristic infantile ego possessed by those who need to grow up. King Babies are driven by self-will, banging with all their might on their high chair trays. Recovery is a process of maturing emotionally and spiritually. Maybe that’s why Bill W. referred to AA as a ‘Spiritual Kindergarten’.
      What is a King Baby (or if you prefer, Queen Baby)? This is someone who needs to control others. It is someone who has an inability to accept frustrations. It is someone who wants it our way, right away.
      What are some other characteristics of King Baby? None of us have all these traits, but we will probably find many that describe us. Here is a list roughly adapted from a Hazelden Recovery Pamphlet of the same name:

      (1) Often becomes angry or afraid of authority figures and attempts to manipulate them to get thier own way.
      (2) Seeks approval to the extent that the lose their own identity in the process
      (3) Makes a good 1st impression, but are unable to follow through.
      (4) Have difficulty accepting criticism and becomes threatened and angry when criticized.
      (5) Have addictive personalities and are driven to extremes
      (6) Are self-rejecting or self-alienated.
      (7) Are often immobilized by anger and frustration, and are rarely satisfied
      (8) Are usually lonely even when surrounded by people.
      (9) Are chronic complainers who blame others for what is wrong with their lives.
      (10) Feel unappreciated and think they don’t fit in.
      (11) Sees the world as a jungle filled with selfish people who aren’t there for them.
      (12) Sees everything as a catastrophe, a life and death situation.
      (13) Judge life in absolutes, black-and-white, right or wrong.
      (14) Live in the past while fearful of the future
      (15) Have strong feelings of dependence and exaggerated fears of abandonment
      (16) Fear failure and rejection and won’t try new things that they might not do well
      (17) Are obsessed with money and material things
      (18) Dream big plans and schemes  and have little ability to make things happen.
      (19) Cannot tolerate illness in themselves or others.
      (20) Prefer to charm superiors and intimidate subordinates
      (21) Believes that rules are and laws are for others, not for themselves
      (22) Often become addicted to excitement, life in the fast lane.
      (23) Hold emotional pain within and lose touch with their feelings.

      [Harry M Tiebout MD – The Ego Factors in Surrender in Alcoholism (Hazelden Educational Materials)].

      • STBS hits about 80% of these and he isn’t even an alcoholic.

        The scary part is that my daughter hits way too many of these as well. She doe

        • There is a history of alcoholism in STBXs family, however. I have heard that people can sometimes inherit addictive patterns even if they are not actually addicted to anything. That would explain a lot of STBXs behavior.

          • That sounds like the Traitor, alcoholic father, most of the traits of an addict, no addiction to any specific substance or behaviour, switches fads (addictions?) constantly. This even includes political fads, has been in the 5 very different political parties that an know of, fully committed every time, just like his marriages I suppose.

      • Yep mine ticks pretty much all of them. I sat and listened to him the other night. I listened carefully without interrupting as he asked if we could possibly work it out. He is in love by the way or infatuated, whatever with his overseas GF and is clearly keeping options open.
        In between him raging about how unfair the world was, I heard in summary ‘ being a grown up and having no money and working to pay off my dumb choices is hard and I would rather give in and you help me’ when I said ‘what do you have to offer me, why should I consider taking you back’ he looked confused his brain thinking, what she has needs,, and standards. My theory is that abuse of drugs and alcohol in his late teens to early thirties has damaged his brain and stunted his emotional development. He is a one trick pony and dispite all the proclaimed ‘work’ on himself and meditation he really hasn’t reached any new levels of understanding and mostly sounds like a petulant teenager.
        Please God next time send me a man.

    • Mr.upstanding clean citizen didnt pay our mortgage either, the bank took it a week before christmas while he was shacking up with child girlfriend.
      It seems he was going to teach her about recovery since it worked so well for him bahaaaa.
      Bad impulses and rage mixed in holier then thou attitude was my life for a long time..ugh
      The best feeling leaving a addict is when I get up in the morning the money I had in bank or purse the night before is still there !!

      • Amen to that. Mine was drunk one Saturday lunch time and went out and ordered a 60,000 euro car (which was about 80,000 dollars at the time) because he “deserved” it. That was trashed in about a month but became part of the “common” debts in the divorce. So now on half the income I actually have savings in the bank and am paying my mortgage off early. Being free from THAT crap was one of the greatest things about the divorce. I think it’s called solvency!

        • Ah yes, the “I deserve this” rationalization to everything! I mean, I deserve this slice of pizza, or pair of shoes is fine every now and then. But my XH deserves BMW’s and Range Rovers and designer duds and pretty much anything that is something he has no business buying on a whim and on credit most of the time. Not my circus anymore. This is the thing that actually makes me giddy these days!! I am no longer walking around using spackle non stop…”He is a good person under all the disfunction! He is a good person under all the disfunction” was my never ending loop!

          • Oh my goodness!! Yes!! My stbxh also had to have all the nice things. Now the most charitable thing I can say about him is, “Life just didn’t treat him the way that he thought that he deserved to be treated.”

    • And yet ANOTHER Role Model! Wow! I commend you and a standing ovation, Nejla!

      Ohhh, how the Mighty have risen!

  • Let me tell you my story. When I met my soon to be ex husband, he’d been sober 16 years. No longer was he the town drink. He wasn’t in and out of jail for DWI’s and had gone through 2 detox programs, court ordered, at the state hospital. He was actively back in his friends and families lives, where he’d been shunned before. He was “recovered”. We dated a year, then were married for 10 before I found out he’d cheated the entire time. In those 11 years, there were no red flags. Everything was perfect…not even one argument. I discovered a harem of women that he had been telling he was “conning” me all along. He told them he was “a good liar and wouldn’t get caught”. Now I have an incurable STD and am leaving, what I thought, was a wonderful marriage. He’s trying the love bombing behavior, but I see through it. I know who he is now.

    • One thing I keep learning more and more about is how the absence of disagreement is it’s own orange flag.

      People who know one another for a long time should misunderstand and disagree sometimes because the depth of connection should naturally bring up topics that are hard to communicate clearly.

      I am highly conflict avoidant, so it is attractive to me to avoid disagreement, but it turns out it is important to healthy relationship development to engage conflict early and often. Also, how a person engages conflict tells a lot about his/her mental health and maturity.

      • STBX never got that. When we used to have even minor disagreements or tiffs, I always ended up feeling like I had done something terrible. He seemed to think that people who loved each other should never say harsh words to each other. In all fairness, he knew he wasn’t always perfectly pleasant either and would often say things like “how can you stand me”. Those words always used to make me uncomfortable too. People who love each other are not always going to agree on everything and that is ok. In addition, we all have bad days and sometimes say things we regret to our partners, but that happens in most relationships and its ok as long as it is coupled with reassurances that you do love the other person even if they annoy you sometimes. A good apology can also help, but he never gave nor accepted them.

        • Chumpinrecovery, I heard, “you deserve better than me”…I always thought, oh, how sweet! HAHAHA. I just didn’t see that he was actually telling me the truth. I guess it was guilt about what he knew the truth to be.

          Now, I am not going to lie, my instincts have been screaming at me lately, but because of the damage done, I had no idea if they were based on real gut intuition or paranoia. He had texted me a few times, using my actual name, something he never did. My stomach flipped and I thought, oh no! He’s trying to keep straight who he’s texting! no no, silly girl, stuff that, stop it, you are sooo damaged. Jesus, 3 years of therapy and you still jump to devastating conclusions! Just relax. But, I commented on it anyway, said it sounded funny, cuz he never used my name, always “hon”, or “doll”…HE BLEW UP. Totally freaked out on me, had me feeling all horrible for thinking he was “up to something”.

          Fast forward, I was right. He was texting his emo fix 8k miles away… fucking asshole. Another one.

      • Mine asshat quit drinking (at my insistence) while we were dating. But, like your disordered parasite, mine just redirected that negative energy into other bad character traits … pathological lying, serial cheating, excessive porn use, etc.

        My conclusion has been:
        When character is the core the problem, sobering up doesn’t matter overly much unless and until the character problem is fixed.

          • JessMom? You certainly do not “need an editor!” You edited HIM outta your life which demonstrates your impeccable references as a Life Editor-the only one you’ll ever need.

            • Thank you, Tundra Woman. Your analogy is great. It reminds me of that editing maxim … “kill your darlings” (no matter how pretty a word appears, it’s just excess that is clogging up the sentence). I definitely ditched the excess clogging up … well, everything.

              About your analogy … I couldn’t resist making a game of it. Hmmm … was STBX a dangling participle? Or maybe a passive construct?

              Bwahahahaha – This is too fun! 🙂

              • Hon, the only thing that “dangles” on him are those post-potty blast radius effects on his ass called “dingle berries.” (I do believe the proper British pronunciation is “dangle berries” anyway. Or should be.)

                Is his name “Chad” BTW? Remember that past US election with the “Hanging Chads?” It also took a judge to figure out the winner there too!

                And the AP Schmoopie? Passive Aggressive Cunt-struck.

      • My ex clean and sober over 20 yrs but he is a disordered fucktard and there is no program for that

    • Wow, SoManyTears, I am so sorry! We all of us get tested for STDs once we’ve discovered the cheating, and it’s a cold bucket of water on the head to realize that the person we’d trusted has been so casual about our health. This is a prime example of why cheating is the ultimate in disrespect. They didn’t even think about our health!

      And that gets back to the larger point made by CL, you, and others. There are two separate behaviors going on here: cheating and alcoholism. While cheating and substance abuse may occur together, one doesn’t cause the other. There are plenty of alcoholics who don’t cheat, and plenty of cheaters who aren’t alcoholics.

      When your alcoholic cheater blames his or her cheating on his alcoholism, then that’s a big red flag right there. They’re not owning their shit.

      Here’s the other piece. Even if they do take responsibility for their behaviors, that doesn’t entitle them to reconciliation. If they think they are entitled after apologizing, then that’s another big red flag.

      Chumps tend to be suckers for guilt and obligation. Someone says they’re sorry, we feel we ought to “forgive” them by giving them another chance. The thing is that normal, healthy relationships don’t involve Marriage or Alcohol Police. Not only does being the Police mean that we lack the trust upon which marriage is built, but we also think that we can somehow control our spouse if we’re vigilant enough, and that’s not healthy, either.

    • SMT. That’s awful. Cheating can be so awful, but your cheater really wins the contest.
      Take Care.

    • Looks good to the neighbors? Creates private time? I don’t know, either, but I agree, it’s weird that it’s so common!

      • Yup, exes mow lawns cuz it looks good to the neighbours, helps you out (those brief saviour moments they need), yard work doesn’t involve actually coming in the house and dealing with any icky stuff, like, oh, those clingy people they left behind. Mine mowed the lawn, and he brought the garbage cans in … once. Then he headed off, I’m sure to mow the lawn of his new (old) girlfriend.

        “AP Lawn Service … first in the phone book, first in your heart.”

      • We must not leave out barbequeing.
        Let’s see, the Chump goes to the store, buys the groceries, lugs them home, carries everything in, puts it away, then begins the meal prep.Good ol Chump cooks and prepares all the main dishes, salads, desserts, etc. The lawn mower star greets the guests, who in turn praise him to the heavens and above when he, by some miracle, manages to barbecue the hamburgers the Chump has prepared! ( and damn, he burned mine),

        • So true. They must make them cheaters in some factory in China where they also make lawnmowers and barbecues.

      • I have a large lawn, and while it takes a long time (about 3 hours with a self-propelled mower) to mow it, it does feel good. Not only do you get those nice endorphins pumping through the system (hey! aerobic exercise!), but also there’s a huge sense of accomplishment. It’s one of those rare things you can do where you see that you’ve made a difference. 🙂

    • I gave him a beautiful fathers day tree, after house went into forclosure i scraped up $100 and hired a tree company, they were throwing that bitch right into the chipper as mr.disordered pulled up.
      Best $100 I ever spent lol

    • I was about to ask the same thing!

      Mowing is the one chore I really can’t do. I’m allergic to grass, and will break out in hives. He would let that shit grow until I either hired a neighborhood kid or the city left notice that they’d fine us. Since D-Day, now that he’s hovering, my lawn looks amazing. He’s doing it twice a week, and he doesn’t even live here.

    • (See above-shit eaten grin from a Yard-On. In addition to being a Yard Ass.)

    • Yes seriously he did nothing around the house but would mow the lawn, it was however the one ‘man thing’ that I did not do because I didn’t know how to use the mower and have asthma.

      • I’m sitting here gobsmacked because I have always said the cheating started when he starting getting intense on mowing the lawn trying to get it perfect haha!!

  • One of the things that strikes me the most about reading others’ stories is how familiar everything is. It doesn’t even matter if a story has a million different little details than my own, the background noise is still the same. It’s like déjà vu every single time I read a chump story.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say that pretty much all of these drunken cheats are their own “special” species. Or subspecies.

  • PF, love the bat in the attic analogy, funny stuff. But on a serious note I understand this is an older post to CL. I only hope Hawk dumped Mr. Sparkles. Seems to me that cheaters always engage in risky, unhealthy behavior that takes a toll on thier bodies and then guess who gets to change thier bedpan??? Yep, the Chump! Does that sound like fun for anyone? I vote to leave. They will manage somehow. They always do. The Cheater didn’t care one iota for thier spouse and family while screwing around so why should we care when they are in need. I know, cause we are such good, fair and moral folks we feel guilty abandoning these broken cheaters. Well, get over them and get on with your own life. They have already wrung us dry for the most part and our lives have been gutted for a good part of our marriage so why let them finish us off by having to care for them? Alcoholism causes all kinds of ugly health issues. Do you really want to nurse that guy? And if money is an issue just think of the healthcare costs involved! Dying ain’t cheap! Run like the wind. If he is serious about his recovery and his change of basic decency then he has to do that on his own! You just can’t fix this for him.

    • You are so right, Roberta. The Fucktard tried to hoover me back after he found my replacement part defective. I thought about it for maybe two seconds and did not respond. From that point on, it seems that life did not treat him well. All those years of drinking and snorting an tanning and shitting on others came back to roost with a vengeance. By the time he died alone and friendless and jobless at barely 57 years of age, he looked 80 years old and had been in and out of nursing homes for six years. Disordered people can’t seem to hold it together without a chump to carry their sorry asses through life while cleaning up their messes. Good riddance.

      • Survivor, yep, they die young by today’s standards and they look really, really old! Mine started cheating when he was 58 and he was in great shape and people commented on his youthful appearance. He just turned 62 and he looks like a tiny little old man. Lost most of his hair and what is left is grey. He hasn’t the strength to rise out of a chair without aid and can’t pull his own pants or socks on! It’s shocking. I suppose if you burn the candle at both ends then this is what happens. I have stage 4 lung cancer and most people don’t even know I’m sick!!! There must be correlation between being an evil cheating ass and the warp speed breakdown of a persons health! It’s very sad to see it happen so quickly! He literally changed it seems over night.

        • Pretty amazing isn’t it? I think fundamentally it comes down to losing their chump. I did all the heavy lifting for 16 years and kept the Fucktard more or less on the straight and narrow. At least I provided cover for his crazy. He got his Ph.D., became a clinical psychologist, tenured professor, chair of his department, and leading drug researcher. I went to faculty wife teas, worked and put myself through grad school, saved money to buy a house, searched for a year for a house we could possibly afford, graduated, passed the Bar Exam, worked even harder, designed the enlargement and renovation of the house, landscaped, gardened, cleaned that house, planned all vacations, holidays and parties, shopped, cooked, paid the bills, did the laundry, and took out the trash. He worked half the hours I did, but was too busy to lend a hand with any of the trivial day-to-day stuff. He’d hold court on the couch with guests while I handled the rest.

          So I’m sure he did miss me once he figured out that the younger, thinner and prettier (his words) replacement part didn’t want to assume all of my duties. And with no one to remove all of the stress from his life and remind him to obey the law, he went fucking bonkers. It takes some serious wrongdoing to get fired from a tenured full professor position. And to lose federal grants you’ve received for decades. Then he let his state license lapse, whether on advice of counsel or by his negligence, I don’t know. But the man I saw in a photo after he died was older than I remember his father looking in his very late 70’s.

          Having had cancer myself (so far, so good), I wonder sometimes how much having a toxic evil douchebag in one’s life is a contributing factor. Hope the docs are keeping you well, Roberta. You rock!

          • Survivor, looks as if we lived the exact same life. My Ex also got his PhD and taught, but once divorced he actually quit his position to move in with Schmoopie! He had little assets to float him and I guess he thought it would be a breeze to get a job being so fabulous and all. Didn’t quite work out that way. Plus Schmoopie wasn’t quite the type to carry off the position being her last real job was being a barmaid….need I say more? Then she “imagined herself a “make-up professional” selling Mary Kay cosmetics, then advertised herself as an interior decorator after putting granite counter tops in her kitchen. In other words, unemployed with no real skills except husband poaching on Facebook. Yes, a real charmer. I think between his unemployment then the diagnosis of his terminal illness the “fun” factor was gone and she realized quite rightly that he was a huge liability to her. I too have stage 4 lung cancer, but I take good care of myself. The Ex has always expected and demanded that others take care of him. Makes a huge difference when you battle cancer! Good luck to you and enjoy your fuckwit free life! We ALL deserve it.

  • Frankly, Hawk, taking CL’s metaphor, you will be playing Russian roulette with you life. Watch The Deer Hunter if you need some strong inspiration for how this works. You don’t control chance.

    If your Cheater is really committed he will get your point.

  • Yeah, these fuckwits are very good at lawncare. We had an acre and he would spend hours mowing, taking, etc. They are also good at rescuing Dumsels in Distress, but it’s always some whore who puts out to show her appreciation. We, on the other hand, spend hours actually running the household so they have tons of time to play around and engage in shady behavior! Like I said before, dump his ass. Let his latest conquest have the millstone around her neck for a while!

    • Roberta, should we have asked / allowed them to take on more of the household responsibilities?

      • Queen, they only “perform” when it gets them kibble. They would never do what we asked unless someone could tell them how wonderful they are for being such a great spouse. So, short answer, no.

    • Oh God! The ex was not usually a ‘rescuer’. But I just recalled the second ever red flag that he talked me down from. He had been ‘too flat out’ with work to come on a family fishing holiday. On my return I discovered he’d driven a 6 hour round trip to help ‘our friend’ break up some concrete in her garden. Riiiiiiight. Suuuuuuure. I still can’t believe I bought his story. And their (at that time, very new) affair continued for another year and was ended before I ever suspected anything again. Facepalm.

  • Dear Hawk

    Geez….the rabies infested bat in my attic really wants to change. The bat has been great lately and hasn’t bitten me once since my last visit to the emergency four months ago.

    I’m on the fence about taking the bat back …should I give the bat another chance! Oh yeah…I have definitely worked out my boundaries with the bat….I get the house and stay out of the attic. the bat so far has respected my space and I’m rabies free at this time.

    • There’s a reason why they’re called “PF Flyers.” <Even though ya gotta be old to get that, you were the original role model, PF!

    • PF – add to it that there are 7.347 BILLION “bats” on this planet. She can definitely find another bat, keep her boundaries, and not end up in an ER. 😉

  • I know this article ran previously so I don’t know if the writer is still out there reading CL but this is helpful for new chumps too. The author has definitely read some chump lady articles but I saw some Reconciliation Industrial Complex in her letter too, such as this gem: “Besides who’s to say I won’t pick another seemingly nice guy who will turn into a jerk later.”

    That’s a really popular theme on RIC sites that goes something like this: “Everyone of us is capable of cheating; and there are no guarantees that (if you leave) you won’t wind up with another cheater.” I have news for everyone spouting that nonsense on those sites-I have no guarantees of anything, including my next breath but that doesn’t stop me from walking out my door every day. I like to refer to it as the “dance with the devil that you know” defense which is faulty at best.

    The absolute best litmus test of future behavior is past behavior. You have a better shot taking your chances with someone new than wasting your time investing in someone who has already shown you that they deal with life’s challenges with escapism into cheating. I can’t really comment on the alcoholism because I have no experience with that but I can say this: Don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you stuck with someone who you already know is a bad investment.

    • CS – your comment reminded me of a section in CL’s book where she tells a writer that “they could swing a cat in a crowded room and not hit someone who has already cheated on you”… with regard to the writer’s fear of dating someone new.

      Never stay with someone who has shown you their character (or lack thereof)… your odds are automatically better with someone new.

      • If we were afraid of the unknown, we’d never have made it to dry land or stand upright.

  • I don’t buy the 12-step gibberish. Pervy pants blamed his disgusting behavior on alcohol and rx narcotics- while minimizing his lewd, disgusting, deceitful sexual behavior.

    The problem is his personality- not how much booze/drugs he takes. I think he has the cart before the horse. He’s a dark, deceptive man- who uses substances to cope with himself. No amount of “sobriety” will ever change who he is.

    • Now in my City, we have an epidemic of sex workers. Yes. Huge recent increase, and it feeds the nation with sex workers. And the attorney general says it’s driven by the internet. So, yah, our cheaters are pieces of shit, they got no excuses for what they did. The community is so sick, however, so sick.

    • Too right, Leaving, and if IRC the founder of the 12 Step movement was a serial cheater himself, who condoned not calling cheaters on their cheating, or at least keeping it separate from the alcohol focus, because it would hinder their recovery (I think it’s a variation on Timid Woodland Creature), so it loses credibility for me if you have to be accountable for everything else in your life, apart from that. Perhaps that’s why some people sober up and cheat, because they get a pass, but honestly I don’t think it’s as simple and obvious as that. As others have said, bad character is bad character, whatever the vehicle for acting out.

  • Whenever I start feeling nostalgic for the man I fell in love with (you know, the one who never really existed in the first place)… I stop myself a look at him – who he is today – and ask myself… is this someone you want to tie your life to?

    So Hawk – if you were single and on the dating scene… would you CHOOSE to be with a man who has prior history of cheating (which also means lying) as well as an alcohol problem and only 4 months of sobriety on the books?

    For me, my X has 3 failed relationships (two of them marriages) that produced 5 kids. He now gets drunk/goes to the bar with his oldest boys. His younger son and daughter are both struggling to attend college and he refuses to support them. He has about $10K in savings/401K. He rents his house. He has about $30K in debt. He is a pathological liar who has cheated on every woman he has been with… even the on the OW he left my marriage to be with for twu luv.

    SEE – those are the facts. That is what I KNOW. But nostalgia will gloss over that… feeling lonely will dull the edges of that… fear of the unknown – and maybe never being in another relationship again – can make you think “better the devil I know”… but CL has it right… YOU DESERVE A BETTER LIFE… ALL OF US CHUMPS DO.

    I hope by now you have kicked his ass to the curb, Hawk.

    Every day, I consciously choose sanity and a chaos free life for me and my son. And, every day, I’m a little closer to Meh.

  • I do know of one man who successfully kicked a serious alcohol problem and is leading a great life now. However, it’s not with his first wife. He had to go through a lot of awful stuff to get healthy enough for a healthy relationship.

    It seems to me that once the trust is gone, it’s gone. Even though I wanted very much to make things work and to trust again, it just wasn’t the same as before he cheated and lied to me. That affects the dynamics in a relationship, and sometimes I think it’s just impossible to get past even if you want to. Even if you believe you have it in your heart to forgive and forget, it changes things. If your partner is the kind of person who enjoys people worshipping and looking up to them, then they’re not going to get that from you because you know them too well.

    • Lyn, your second paragraph pretty much sums up my situation. Couldn’t have said it better.

    • No…you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. I tried that- it doesn’t work.

  • Mine found a 3 times divorced fuktard sponsor- who advised him that he didn’t owe his wife and kids a damn thing. The only thing that matters is his “sobriety.” Pervy pants ate that deplorable advice up like candy.

    • Yeah. And eventually he’s gonna shit it out the other end with a lil’ help from Life’s Dedicated Proctologist.
      The Tooth Fair-y does exist-but it just works on the Exit Strategy.

  • “….and her principle of eat no shit.”


    I may print a business card that states only this.

    She who eats no shit.

  • That’s funny…about the lawn mowing. He would frequently tell me he had to go “fix” one of the other woman’s lawn mowers. Come to find out, they’d been having an affair for 11 years.

  • When someone is truly sorry, these 5 things will happen:
    1. They take full accountability for their actions and decisions
    2. They do not make excuses
    3. They do not shift the blame
    4. They acknowledge the effect it had on you
    5. They do not expect your forgiveness

    If you don’t have all five, you don’t have a genuine apology.
    If you accept insincerity, you invite iniquity.

    • srfrgl~ Thanks! Printed those 5 things out.

      “If you accept insincerity- you invite iniquity”~ Precious- and true!

    • Yes! Or in Catholic parlance:
      The Five Things Necessary for a Good Confession

      As every well instructed Catholic knows (which, today, may not be many, including myself), the five things necessary for a good Confession are:

      An Examination of Conscience
      Contrition, or sorrow, for our sins
      A Firm Purpose of Amendment
      the Confession of one’s sins to a priest
      Acceptance of one’s penance, and performing it in a timely manner

      If they aren’t telling you every single little thing, if they aren’t genuinely remorseful, if they keep repeating the bad behavior, if they don’t accept their consequences without a bit of whining or blameshifting and do everything they can to make reparations–They are not sorry and even GOD doesn’t forgive them. If Jesus doesn’t have to say “It’s all cool.” Neither do you or I.

      • Well, we can only speculate that when he dies your cheater will be in the lowest rung of purgatory. Hopefully it is so low that he’s dangling over a lake of fire closely enough for his pubic hair to catch ablaze!

    • Dumpsters in Distress always have a house with a Fawn Lair.
      Even if it’s in the Outhouse.

      Betcha noticed that too, huh?!

  • In my opinion, there are much worse things in life than growing into a crochety old lady who spends her days gardening and talking to her cats . Yes it’s unfair that we appear doomed to be alone when we decide to lose a cheater and gain a life in midlife . Yes it’s sad when we see our friends happily married while our marriages crashed and burned but hey , we still have a roof over our heads, afew good ftens and food on the table , our kids . Divorce sucks . And hurts like hell . But why stay with someone with a proven track record of cheating and lying ? It’s setting yourself up for future pain . Best to let it go.

    • MehMeh,
      Yes, losing the toxic poison of lies in your life is such a good thing. I find that I only feel anxious about the idea of being single for the rest of my life when I project way into the future – when I think of my life in its entirety playing out with me being single. If I just think of today? I am happy as a clam – kids, dogs, house, garden (lilacs blooming here!!). The reality is that I live my life only one day at a time (it’s the only way life can be lived). I choose not to fixate on the future and the possibility of being alone. You know what? Anything can happen. Today I’m ok and who knows about the future – I’ll assume good things are going to happen! 🙂

      • Yep, and I’m that crotch-ity old (widow) lady with the (over grow, tick infested) garden and (old) cat who learned (the hard way) to value it enough to self-produce Parasite/Predator Hopium Kryptonite.

        (The secret ingredient is “NO.”)

    • Yah, I like the way you summed it up, MehMehDancer . . . that’s it. Yah, it don’t look good. Still though, it looks better than the hell of living with a cheater. It’s a choice between two bad things, and choosing the less bad.

  • If the problem was “mere substance abuse”- it would be difficult to cope with- but doable. But….throw in cheating, lying, deception, spending family resources on prostitutes/porn, putting my health at risk (STDs)- all bets are off.

    • It ain’t “mere” when it’s their rendition of the “Purposefully Driven Licentiousness.”

  • I think the clue is in the name.

    My dad sobered up when I was 3, but was a self-centered, angry, bigoted, mysoginist his entire life.

    He cheated on my mom with vulnerable women he -you guessed it-would pick up at AA meetings. He married the last one. She cleaned my college fund, and eventually him out completely.

    This is an older post, I sincerely hope Hawk gtfo.

    If you are with any form of drunk- wringing, soggy, moist or arid, Chumps, gtfo. You can date them when they are sober, if you haven’t gotten a life by then and realized they were flaming assholes all along. Don’t spackle that shit for your kids or they might hitch up to someone like Mr Fab….

  • Here is something I didn’t understand for close to 20 years … sometimes what seems like “regained trust” is actually something else entirely. It can be a mixture of strong denial, habituation, or just plain mental fatigue.

    After having to think about his betrayal and lies every second of every day for a few months after the first D-day, I was exhausted and wanted the situation to just go away. I wanted my old life back. So when the day came where I no longer thought about the betrayal the first thing upon awakening and the last moment before I went to sleep … it was a profound relief. My ex was busy being pleasant and “normal” (i.e., continuing drinking and cheating under a new and improved blanket of lies and procedures.) Awww … again, what a relief. I was sick of thinking about the betrayal so I just stopped. And I wanted his lies to be true so I just denied what I knew to be true. Did I now trust him again? Well, I stopped asking myself that question so as to avoid the unpleasant answer. And life carried on … until the next D-day … and the next D-day …

  • I just want to say that a lot of gardening will alleviate bitterness to a great extent. The idea of becoming a “bitter old lady who gardens” doesn’t make sense. Hey, I’m all for embracing anger and bitterness – we need it to propel us to better lives after being chumped. But gardening can be such great therapy and meditation – such a great escape from everything. Gardening is full of beauty, hope, peace, life, science, happy nature drama, nourishment, and love. It’s hard to be bitter in the garden.

    • I agree. It’s just another stupid cliche for demeaning women who love to create beauty.

      • Yes, and I don’t like it when people make jokes about my pets. The old tired mysognistic cat lady jokes. A real knee slapper- not.

        I would choose my animals over a disordered entitled lying Cheater everyday twice and three times on Sunday.

        Books, good food, peace!, a cat snoozing at my feet, dogs by my side, no drama, no chaos, no cruelty, puttering around my clean organized house and trying out new recipes, binge watching Game of Thrones, taking hot baths, not on pins and needles, standing in the Truth…I have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of….this is a bad life?

        Each day, it feels more like Nirvana.

    • True! Gardening is bliss. I spent more time mowing the lawn in my marriage than ex ever did, cause he was too busy “working” or at the “racquetball club.” Funny how we can do it all and still have time to nourish our relationships. The disordered spend a lot of time just fucking things up.

    • Yes, activities that bring beauty, satisfaction, and even bending and stretching to our lives are valuable!
      I love my gardens.
      I found a small volunteer Forget-me-not today, and I transplanted it, pure simple happiness! Also, these gardens are adding some serious value to the house when I sell it, buyers love great gardens!

  • My advice is, before you make any decisions, take a few months away from crazy. Put yourself first, grieve, vacation, meditate, meet new people, do whatever it takes to get your head back on straight and figure out your own desires.
    Then reevaluate. I did and guess what? I realized what I put up with…..I am now in a relationship with a rational human being who cherishes me every day……
    Every once in a while I remember the crazy I tolerated and shake my head……

  • I haven’t been through all the comments (last week of term–arrgghh) but I want to focus on the issue of alcoholism. I grew up with a father who abused alcohol and ran through a series of relationships with active drinkers and dry drunks (guys who weren’t taking in alcohol but not working on themselves, either). So this I know:

    * You should not be in a relationship with someone who is not working a lifetime recovery process because the substance abuser’s primary relationship is with the substance.
    * Substance abuse requires lying. You know a substance abuser is lying because his or her lips are moving.
    * If there are two parents in the home and one is a drunk or addict, the other is enabling the substance abuse–and that person’s life centers not on a marriage or a healthy family but on controlling the substance and the drinker. So the “healthier” parent is also comprised, but to the second power, trying to control the uncontrollable.
    * The kids grow up with all sorts of problems because the family system is corrupted by substance abuse and too often the kids seems to become “pseudo adults,” trying to organize a chaotic household or fill needs that the parents have.

    As someone who was madly in love with a lifelong substance abuser, my biggest regret is that even though I came to learn, over time, most of the above, I married him late in life thinking that love was enough.

    It’s not. The drinking alone is reason to file for divorce. And then the non-drinking parents need to do the work of figuring out how to transcend the enabling and codependent habits that kept them stuck. I’d say the same thing about cheating. The notion that a family with a parent who is a drunk, an addict, a cheater, an abuser, a lying narcissist or sociopath is an “intact family” is so destructive. In the end, everyone in the family has to confront the damage done by this way of life.

    • I have to agree with everything you said LAJ. In my case the alcoholism gave me something to blame the other activity on — treating it as a symptom instead of yet another addiction. I also thought it could be “fixed.” I was such a great enabler! But damage had already been done to my psyche because my grandfather was a drunk, and my dad a “dry drunk” when I was young, and I married a “functioning” drunk. Who knew there were so many different spots on the same leopard? Any way I was well schooled in enabling, my mother was a great enabler, too. We were strong women and we could fix things! Until we realized what we had to fix was our own attitude about taking care of everyone but ourselves! If alcoholics and other substance abusers, and other types of abusers can be fixed, great, they need to get with it and fix themselves. The number one lesson I learned from all this is to take care of myself, then I could take care of my children (for a short time till they grew up). Now if I spot people who have lived many years fighting with any addictive demon, I wish them luck and I am on my way. I hope they do heal, but I won’t pretend I can have any part in the healing. I have to stick with my own “program of recovery.” I don’t let other people’s problems become my own. I have plenty to do just keeping myself out of harms way.

      • But to me, the point is you guys LEARNED. A very brutal Lesson in Life. And you ACTED on that Life Lesson; in order to do that, it takes tremendous internal resources to act in a way that is totally antithetical to what you know even if it is awful because it’s ALL you know and it feels comfortable, Yk? Speaking of fear of the unknown-look, that’s scary no matter how you shake it.
        And Loved, you also came from a shitty background. No excuse at all-and to be sure I’m not saying this as an excuse in any way but a Statement of Fact. It would be wonderful if we all started at the same Starting Line of Life. But we don’t.

        This is Courage: Unabashed, get down, painful beyond words Courage.

        • That’s such a lovely compliment. I have no regrets about any of it (and generally no wish to be younger or go backward in life) but wow–I am so much smarter now. And still learning.

      • “Who knew there were so many different spots on the same leopard?” Yes! Exactly!

  • I was married to that guy… the alcoholic and the cheater. What I realize now is that I wasted YEARS trying to figure out how to fix him and when I realized I couldn’t, I wasted more time just coping, all while juggling kids and a full-time job. I cried … a lot.

    Do not waste one more minute on a person like this. Not one. Get out, and if they happen to transform into a decent human being down the road, then you can reconsider. Chances are that IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.

    I didn’t realize how traumatized I was until after he left, but its now been almost two years and I am almost recovered. Almost. Years of policing alcoholic and cheating behavior, covering for him, protecting the children, struggling financially because he would spend all our money on booze, the blows to my self-esteem and the emotional abuse (gaslighting) all took a huge toll on me. You can’t see how horrible it is until you step away. I’m so glad I did. I wish I had done it sooner.

    • I could have written this post exactly. You are scared that if you make the choice to leave that you are the one ending any chance at possibly working it out. The reality is that the cheater did that and unless they fix their shit, there is no future.

      • Me too.
        Same life, same being strong one. The only actual adult.
        All the money gone all the time on booze, or some toy he wanted.
        So sad. I’m amazed my kids are grown and wonderful, but there was so much crap they had to see!

    • Occasionally bitters do go in a drink-a necessary component to a little liquid sanity. (I said “a little,” not a lifestyle.)
      Socrates drank the ultimte Hopium Buster, a cuppa Hemlock. For the men, there’s always the Her-lock rendition-but no one should ever get the poisonous kind.
      At least not for themselves.

  • 18 months. That is how long my unicorn mask wearing STBX kept it up after DDay#1 before cracks started appearing. Took less than 6 months after that before he was drinking heavily and cheating on me again.

    I spent 2 years hurting and feeling uneasy about trusting him again. Life should not be like that. I have more peace now that he is no longer a part of my every day life since DDay#2. Sure, trying to get divorced from an addict and narcissist sucks, but I am more sure of who I am and what I want in life. That tells me that uneasy feeling I had for those 2 years was my gut screaming and I did not listen to it. I pay more attention now to my gut;)

  • HAWK,

    I URGENTLY IMPLORE YOU TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY AND I KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. Apologies for the all caps, but I have to plead for you to listen and really listen. Mines a drunk too, I chose to stay with him for 8 more years – in which time he relapsed, racked up 2 more DUIs on top of the 2 he already had, cheated 5 more times (that I know of) and now its going on 16 months AFTER I filed and he’s still a drinking controlling ass fuck who wont settle and wont pay child support. As for “staying for the children” – My two (now) adult children HATE him, BOTH are in therapy for thier issues from being raised by this clown (the middle was only 10, on first DDAy that I knew of I could have saved her….) and I still have an 8 year old who has so many issues he’s probably going to knife me in my sleep. He never stopped drinking (he just hid it more), he laughed his way through all the court-order rehab, he now has a 3K a month bar habit (that I know of) and wont pay a PENNY in child support (I’m dragging him to court fro this). He got FIRED from a job that made 175K for drinking on the job, didn’t work for 2 years made me pay for everything and we lost our house. Now he met up with a rich whore he met at the bar so he can keep paying for his lifestyle and I’m arguing in court why I should not have to drive my child to his visitation because he STILL has no driver’s license. Oh, and being his Uber the last 5 years…. ask me how THAT was?! Ask me about how it was picking him up from the airport the day after by birthday (at 11:50 pm) when he claimed he was on a business trip but he was really on a week long luxury vacation with the stripper-whore…. for the love of all that is good – please LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. GIVE YOUR POOR CHILDREN A CHANCE. My oldest has a drinking problem now, too. Your kids will learn to be drunks if you stay. He will cheat more. You will go through HELL. Please leave. And you will not become an old crazy gardening cat lady, you will find a cute guy online dating who never drinks and treats you like the fucking princess that you are – and loves your kid (even though they will be brats). Thats what I did, I’m free and except for the divorce case that never ends, I am happy. I have an new guy who loves me and my kid, and my ONLY regret is not doing this after the first DUI – which was 1995 – how dumb am I???

    Please leave. I implore you.

    • Please, STTTAAAPPPP! You have kicked your own ass around the block the requisite number of times required and beyond. You are not on a “Kick My Own Ass Lifetime Parole With No Hope of Release” program, ‘k? “Dumb.” See that y’all? This individual who left a Shit Show of a Marriage calls themselves “DUMB.”

      Nope. Not buyin it, Chumpy. Lemme tell ya my own definition of “Dumb:”
      “Dumb” knows damn well “this is reality, this is the rest of my life and the kid’s lives. But I gotta martyr myself for the meat shields-oops, the kids. Or the house. Or because I don’t know how to do any thing else but this and I’m too beat up/beat down to even TRY to confront my own FEAR. So imma stay right here and find a million transparent “reasons” (excuses) to do the EASY thing rather than the RIGHT thing.” Yeah, I know, Ouch.

      We have two fundamental responsibilities to our kids: The care and Protection of our offspring. And to raise them as their primary Role Models to become functional, decent INdependent adults. The standard is not “perfect:” It’s demonstrating we live in reality-and no one escapes this life unscathed, without screwing up in a whole buncha ways. By being human and living in this world we show them human experience isn’t some Fairy Tale of Happily Ever After, but the reality that screw ups, using poor judgement, falling face down in a Life’s septic tank of shit is NOT TERMINAL. It’s gonna happen. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna destroy, completely incinerate some of our most deeply held dreams, hopes, aspirations. It’s gonna drive ya to your knees and then kick your prostrate ass.

      Have you ever seen the large scale destruction of a forest fire? In the immediate aftermath there’s an indescribable scene of char and ugliness miles of it everywhere where previously there existed something that was once beautiful.
      But wait-even though we don’t see it, underneath there is life and it’s awakening: The fire opened the pine cones and they dropped their seeds all over the place. The critters of the forest floor had no where to run and hide so they dove in their own borrows and waited out the smoke and flash over. The people who lost every.last.possession they ever had except the clothes on their backs look on in horror, yes, but they look also on their kids who survived-because they got them out of there.

      Come back in the Spring. In a year, five years and what do you see? Something completely new. Something that is growing in response to, a result of what was, at the time of that fire a barren tragedy of a landscape and life-scape. Everything that is there now, that is new could not have existed without the literal cremation of what was. No one wanted or expected their lives, homes, magnificent forests etc. to burn, of course not-but they did.
      Please. Never underestimate yourself and your own ability to somehow make a new life-sure, not the one you envisioned, but something entirely different. Never underestimate your own power to show up for yourself and your own life. Never underestimate the deep reserve of your own untried and untempered courage. How else would you ever know you actually ARE your own lifeboat, your own paddle, the author of your own life and future to a much greater degree than you ever could have imagined, and most importantly, your own hero. And your kids hero too.

      If there is a greater Legacy than this, I’ve never encountered it-and my life has been…a whole lotta adventure. So is your’s, just being lived daily as you compose the next installment.
      And while you were reading that I shredded your Parole documents and erased them off the hard drive. Please, stop Chumpy. That part of your life is over: Let it *be*over.
      You are many things. Dumb isn’t one of them.

  • Sorry…..but alcohol and cheating are two different things. Sometimes mutually exclusive of each other- sometimes not.

    A bottle of booze will never give me an STD, cheat on me, deceive me or lie to me. A bottle of booze does not have boobs and a vagina.

    A cheater is a cheater- with or without booze.

  • I’m going to play with fire here for a minute, in stressing that feeling a lack of trust in a cheater-hoping-to-become-a-unicorn is not because you don’t trust THAT person… lack of trust, after infidelity, is an A-bomb to it. It’s not that I didn’t just not trust HIM; I didn’t trust anyone. I still don’t. I found so much betrayal from others, once I stopped spackling for them too. No one cares about you more than they care about themselves or any offshoot of character attached to them.

    Of COURSE you don’t trust a cheater.

    But you simply just don’t trust anyone because… having trust AT ALL, IN ANYONE is gone. The trust *itself* is gone so my ability to use it or recognize it is completely irrelevant.

    To the OP: Stop focusing on him. You don’t trust him. Focus on you; you’re trustworthy to your own future. Make your life mighty without him; he’ll just be around until you succeed in building a life without needing him in it.

    • YES.
      Trust, generally, is a distant memory, and I do not foresee a time when I will trust anyone ever again.

  • I know I´ve learned, now, two years out that these disordered creeps DO NOT CHANGE.
    My narcopath STBX all of a sudden feels the need to “be with his kids” after TWO YEARS of unbelievable mindfuckery and creating chaos for us.
    He can say all he wants that he wants to be a “dad”, but the monster within IS WHO HE IS.
    I will fight to the death to keep these kids away from him, and I will NEVER speak to him directly again. EVER.
    I would never buy “I have changed!”, or “our kids need their dad”. He left us and cheated, created havoc, put me in the most awful pick me dance ever, and with that, he quit his job as a “dad”.
    As CL says, “cheating is a CHOICE.” As with any other addiction. People that want things to be better get help, they do the work, for THEMSELVES first and foremost.
    Cheating is like any other addiction. They continue because it “feels good”, lets them have NO responsibility WHATSOEVER, and it is a CONTINUOUS CHOICE. Period.

  • I realize this is an old column, and there is a lot going on, but what stuck out to me is how exhausting it must be to have to play the marriage police in a situation like this. Not only do you need to keep an eye on the cheating, but you need to keep an eye on the addiction behavior, the spending… etc etc. and the thing is, when the marriage police discover something inappropriate, you then have to do the exhausting business of either confronting the “criminal” about it (and have them lie, gaslight, manipulate etc.), or you have to dig out the old spackle bucket and negotiate with yourself if it is “bad enough” to actually leave.

    I think being the marriage police was the thing I hated the most. I could never relax or feel happy, because I was constantly dealing with trying to catch him getting up to something, or I caught him up to something and I was trying to pretend it wasn’t all that bad. And mine was just hiding the cheating. He had an alcohol problem, but he was pretty out in the open with it. He had a bunch of mental health issues (obviously), and was constantly threatening to kill himself, etc. I was in the middle of preparing to file, and on the recommendation of my lawyer, I got him set up with psych and counselor to help prop him up. He was put on a bunch of drugs by the psychiatrist and the counselor told him point blank that the combination of the drugs, the depression, and the booze was not good and he should probably stop drinking. I remember we were sitting at home and he was drinking beer and he sneered “I told him no way that was going to happen.”

    … and I was done so I didn’t care any more, I sort of just said “well it doesn’t surprise me”. But remember thinking how grateful I was that I got to just walk away from all of this. In like 3 weeks it wasn’t going to be my problem any more.

  • I totally understand that there is a lot of bad experience here with addiction, but I want to stand up for myself and the other genuine recovering Alcoholics here too. I’m 42 and got sober at 24. I did this through AA and was VERY fortunate that I had not only got completely sick of myself but was also in a branch of the fellowship that was very real, very loving and very badass. Sure there are always the creepy guys and creepy girls who are not there for genuine reasons and who behave in ways that try to muddy the whole pond but it’s not ALL of us. Get any group of people together, whatever the context and there will be people who are just BAD people. But Bad arseholes who are fake and lecherous and shitty characters is not synonymous with all members of AA. The fellowship saved my life and those good people were my family when I lived in a town in a country where I knew no one. I owe them a lot. And we are deeply angered and ashamed when a great movement’s reputation is sullied by the behaviour of a few.

    Secondly, the issue I wanted to address in the letter is the question of “how long do you give it until you see it is true behaviour change?” The arbitrary number she uses is four months. Nope. Sorry. They’ve shown who they are and without all the things other posters have already identified as genuine remorse, you have nothing to work with. However further caution. My ex he did all these acts of contrition. All of them. Convincing as fuck. I even remember sitting in the MC office at our final session 18 months after DDay and saying (while ex held my hand and smiled at me) “I don’t think even a psychopath could fake it for this long.” WRONG. It appears a psychopath can fake it for as long as it takes to be assured he has his hooks fully back in to his prey. Almost to the minute after I said that and we walked out the cracks (actually craters) started to appear and within 10 days I had kicked him out. That was November last year. I’ve been no contact ever since, property settlement finalises a week today (providing court stamps the consent orders as approved) and 50 year old ex is living with his 27 year old girlfriend. So the long answer is as CL always says: when they show you who they are believe them; everything else that follows is just fake and manipulation. The marriage is over the day you find out. Anything that follows is just a different ring of Dante’s Inferno.

    When your gut says “nothing to trust or work with here”, you have everything you need to know. Get out and get good ?

    • FWIW I have personally known several dry alcoholics who really were good people and I always admired them for their ability to overcome their additions and stay sober. I also admire people who have been able to give up smoking for similar reasons.

    • When I use the term “dry drunk” … I am NOT referring to alcoholics who have actually worked on their problem and have recovered. I admire you greatly for recognizing and dealing with a problem so young in life. Fabulous. Dry drunks are the ones who quit drinking to temporarily appease someone or address a problem, but they don’t actually acknowledge that they have a drinking problem. Because see? They just stopped! No problem. But it is right there waiting on them …

  • Zh,”The marriage is over the day you find out. Anything that follows is just a different ring of Dante’s Inferno.”
    I so wish that I had listened to my gut about this on d-day 1. It would have saved me 7 years of hellish egg shell walking then a rough abandonment. I always thought that very thing, but let myself get “talked” into being “nice” to the cheater, the marriage was over but the kibble dispensing was at an all time high. Live and learn huh.

  • flutterby, I agree totally. I have three adult daughters and each one of them have close friends who are dealing with cheaters. My girls have asked my advice and it’s always the same, kick the Cheater out and file for divorce, hold up your right hand and wave goodbye and wish them and thier new “mark good luck!

  • I’d much rather end up a wise older single “eat no shit” woman who gardens, volunteers and looks after their grandkids, than end up with my soul sucked dry from a toxic relationship. I often do my weights at the gym at the same time as an older couple – a meek sweet woman with an overbearing narc husband who barks criticism and controls her weights and reps. That’s how I imagine people end up when they stay in these controlling relationships for the kids / finances etc

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