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Not Your Job Anymore

Newly liberated chumps often struggle with freedom. It seems a crazy thing to write — Freedom? I LOVE FREEDOM! — what’s not to love? But a lot of gaining a life is realizing that “chump” is no longer in your job description. What now fills the place where an entitled, impossible-to-please fuckwit used to stand? Agency? Hmmm. Not so sure what to do with that agency thing.

The German psychologist Erich Fromm described this condition in his seminal book Escape from Freedom (1940). Fromm distinguished between “freedom from” something (like fuckwits, as negative freedom) and “freedom TO” (gain a life, as positive freedom). He argued that “freedom from” can be destructive unless it’s balanced with the creativity of “freedom to”.

From Wiki:

In the process of becoming freed from authority, we are often left with feelings of hopelessness (he likens this process to the individuation of infants in the normal course of child development) that will not abate until we use our ‘freedom to’ and develop some form of replacement of the old order.

Unfortunately, a lot of chumps spend their “freedom to” chips on attracting another fuckwit, or as Fromm would put it, submitting to another authoritarian regime. But damn, we’re so GOOD at being chumpy! It feels so dysfunctionally normal!

If we stay in the chump condition, we eliminate uncertainty. We give our authority to fuckwits who will tell us what to think and how to act. (And where we missed a spot.)

Which brings me to this letter I got. (I get a lot of this sort of letter.)

Dear Chump Lady,

I am struggling with making a decision concerning my son’s 5th grade graduation.  I just finished a 3-year custody battle with my son’s father. He is a flaming narcissist with borderline and paranoid features.  He has proven himself to be a very abusive man and that is why he only has therapeutic visitation with our son.  There is no restraining order in place yet. The judge has warned my ex that he shouldn’t go anywhere our son is including the school. I don’t know why I’m so conflicted about whether I should invite him when the answer seems pretty clear. I guess I want to avoid being accused of parental alienation. At he same time, inviting my ex would open the door for him to begin his vicious cycle of abuse all over again.

Dear Newly Liberated Chump,

Managing your child’s relationship with his father is Not Your JOB. Your duty is to follow the specifics of the court order. You don’t have to send out engraved invitations to your ex for every event in your child’s life. He can read the school calendar just like you can. If it’s not his custodial time and he’s confused about whether he’s permitted on school grounds for a graduation, he can speak with his attorney. Managing all those details for him? NOT YOUR JOB.

Will he accuse you of parental alienation? Oh sure. He might. He’ll probably accuse you of a lot of things, like failing to sufficiently appreciate his splendidness. Is there any grounds to an alienation claim? I don’t know, ask your lawyer, but in my opinion (and I’m a chump, not a lawyer), I doubt it. Elementary school is full of awards ceremonies and events and “graduations.” (It’s entry to middle school, not medical school.) You really think a judge with an overbooked docket wants to hear about your ex’s hurt feelings over a 5th grade graduation ceremony?

Fuckwits like to rattle sabers to get you to submit. You don’t have to submit. You can shrug. Or yawn. Or pick the lint out of your navel instead.

Here’s your problem, Newly Liberated — you’ve escaped FROM the fuckwit. Now you need to escape TO that new life. Hand in notice on your old chump career, and write your new job description.

Which is also everyone’s Friday homework assignment. Replace the old order!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • One thing, that the NEW Chump me can now do is say NO. It is so liberating. NO. “NO, I’m sorry I can’t go do that today” “NO, I’m sorry, I’m not available today”. “NO, I”m sorry, we’re not a good match”. I also got rid of all negative people around me. If you’re not a positive force in my life, I have no time for you.

    • Amen to that! This is one VERY IMPORTANT part of the healing process: learning how to say NO and not feeling the slightest bit of guilt for that. As Chumps it seems that we have been programmed to make our needs very small in order to please our impossible to please former spouses. Not any more. If you prove yourself to be a: control freak, cruel person, liar, self important or any type of an asshole, I have no longer the slightest need to fix you or spend time with you. It’s bye-bye. Keep rocking Chump Nation!

      • I agree with your concept. I haven’t yet been able to shake Fein the guilt, personally, but I have been able to become mindful enough about why I feel it that now I can choose my actions outside of the feeling. All part of the journey.

      • We make our needs small to please impossible-to-please spouses–and in many cases that sad ability was learned from mpossible-to-please parents. So that is our default and we must, must reset that default or the next relationship will look like the last. And we carry that chumminess into the workplace and into assymmetrical friendships with people who suck life energy from us and if we don’t wise up, we can teach our kids we are nothing more than gas pumps that produce money, time, baked goods, clean laundry, transportation and kibbles.

        Freedom to. Starts with the freedom to say no. Hell no. And yes, when that’s what we want.

        • Sorry for the typos…brain dead from the end of term and not overriding autocorrect. Not “Chumminess”–Chumpiness.

          • LAJ – what a great response! Yes, I make my needs so small in so many areas of my life and it did come from my childhood, most particularly going to boarding school age 9 – my parents sent me as they were living overseas, with good motivation, for a good education – which I did get, but not a place where there was much room for any kind of personal need or any opportunity to express your opinion and be heard. You fit in with what is expected – or perish. I know I do this at work (although I am better there than other places) and with my children too and it made me the perfect foil for my manipulative, exploitative ex-Narc who punished for any attempt at “no” fiercely (although often passively aggressively) so mostly I didn’t bother. He has continued to try and punish me since we split, particularly when I have not acquiesced or stood up to him (mostly for the sake of the kids) – I need to be brave and risk the wrath of “no” though. Otherwise it will never end. A hard habit to break.

        • YES TO ALL OF THIS. You’re so right. It’s no surprise that soon after I fired my ex husband, I also fired my father, who has severe NPD. I am so tired of being abused, and now I have absolutely zero tolerance for nonsense and bullshit. It’s really great!

    • I learned this here: “No is a complete sentence.” When it comes to dealing with the disordered, you’re best to just leave it at no. No explanations needed, no sorry necessary.

    • Mighty again…not trying to criticize, but consider rephrasing what you wrote above leaving out the “Im sorry”

      “NO, I can’t go do that today”
      “NO, I’m not available today”
      “NO, we’re not a good match”

      Fuck the “I’m sorry”.

      • You are right of course, That’s still hard for me, leaving out the I’m sorry. But I can see how that is still Chumpy!

    • +1
      It’s perfectly acceptable to say no;it can even be a complete sentence. NO. I’m practicing saying “No,that doesn’t work for me.” without a chumpy explanation.

      • It doesn’t hurt to follow up that ‘No, it doesn’t work for me, but thanks for thinking of me.’

  • I love this post. I now have freedom not to drink in the evenings to try to relax knowing that the Twat was coming home but not knowing at what time. Freedom not to walk on eggshells. Freedom from that knot in my stomach because I never knew which way he was gonna blow when drinking (which was all the time). Freedom to try to sleep without listening for the key in the door, the poke in the shoulder and the “you asleep?” at 3 a.m. Freedom from having to sort his crap out after yet another fuck up because “you speak better French than me” – note: he lived in France for 30 years and had free French lessons provided by his employer and on work time – and freedom from never having to run up to the Credit Union YET AGAIN to either repair someone else’s car or his after another drink-driving escapade. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Life is wonderful and he’s a piece of shit.

    • >>”Life is wonderful and he’s a piece of shit.”

      This is a perfect statement. 🙂

    • Walking on eggshells is a common theme among chumps. That’ exactly how I felt. About common sense things like not spending money on things we did not need or could not afford (does anyone have cheaters who did not know simple aritmetic?)

      • Mine had his MBA and is a CFO/COO for a state agency in SC and one that stresses family values. He could never understand the financials I provided every month.( I am a CPA) (took an accounting class at University of SC together cause he had failed it and I had the highest grade in the class) never understood bank reconciliations, never paid a bill, and used all that extra time to pursue women at work, 3 sexual harassment charges where I was a total chump. His last work conquest was the final one for me. Found out around midnight July 9 and had his ass out the door July 10. Divorced on February 2. Can you believe he asked me to do his 2016 tax return and said I was the only one he trusted. Of course I said no and will be filing married filing separately. I think they are insane.

        • Hmmm, methinks you’re the only one he trusted to do his taxes for free…

          They’re insane, but they can smell opportunity a mile away.

          Good for you for seeing through that one and congratulations on your splendid freedom!

        • My X idiot was getting married to his OW ….he came around to my home to ask me to do alterations on their bridal party s clothing…..he actually thought I would do it and was shocked when I said no….unbelievable. ……and the ink was barely dry on his newly wedding certificate when he cheated on Smoopie ….they are now slugging it out for their seperation/divorce. …me happily at meh …..rebuilt my life with a man who is pretty much a male equivalent of me….couldn’t be happier ?

          • Omg what a fucker, glad you are happiet and he is still shit slinging.

      • Unfortunately, the fiscal infidelity theme runs very, VERY deep among cheaters. My cheating ex had racked up something like $100K in debts and penalties in secret. I did manage to get some recompense for that in my settlement, thankfully. But my ex was no different than most other cheaters, she had little or no regard (and/or understanding) of consequences.

      • Clearwaters, Mine definitely couldn’t add up. Aside from spending a fortune in bars buying rounds of champagne, buying himself whatever he wanted (60,000 euro car anyone), he took care of nothing at all. BUT in response to your question, I genuinely don’t think he could add up. I mean, it stands to reason that if you have 1,500 dollars and your rent is 500, you only have 1,000 left to live on right? If you then go out and buy yourself a new guitar for 800 and a new bedspread for 400 you don’t exactly have money for groceries, electric bill do you? Not even rocket science is it, but I’m amazed at how many people can’t even do that.

        • Attie, did we have the same husband??!! I mean, even the extravagances are the same! Guitars, a Mini Cooper (very expensive in my country since it is imported; the yearly maintenance and taxes cost almost two months of my salary; I called it the mini pooper)

        • It’s not a lack of arithmetic skills. It’s entitlement all the way! They feel entitled not to even think about such mundane, boring concerns.
          Just like my ex, who was ok w/money, but who thought he could do absolutely anything in our relationship and w/the kids, and there would be no consequences.
          He’s so mad that there have been consequences. All my fault, of course.

          • Common cheater theme #798340593736422… Fiscal Stupidity.

            I know cheater asshat felt like a freaking peacock with his new VP corporate title at a Fortune 500. What he never has done is self advocate for a raise, etc… so the title is a paper title without the perks because incredulously no one bestowed upon him the riches that commensurate with said title (entitlement- don’t you SEE how great cheater is!).

            THEN… the entitlement to spend like you own the GNP of the US. Thankfully his debt is in his name only :). I’m crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s to make sure my kids are provided an education, food, shelter and clothing BEFORE asshat can begin to payoff his entitled vacations, Broadway shows and other forms of entertainment he demands to be entitled to.

            • For years I thought the traitor had a brain impairment with numbers and finances. And in a way I still think he does. He decided to correct an error on the paperwork to go with 10 cattle to the meat works. Changed the numbers of cows and heifers which then only added up to 8. Of course that was wrong and there were 10. After telling him and showing him the form returned from the meat works because it was wrong he still would not believe it. He has an MSc in plant physiology and tutored undergraduates in stats. But he can never do basic primary school maths, and is always certain he is right. Can’t keep track of time or money either. Something is not working in there but what he knows for sure is that the world owes him and the sun shines out of his and the whore’s arses.

          • Mines wants a medal for having a job, him having a job is doing ‘everything for our family’ He has an entitlement complex and sniffs out free stuff by playing on peoples sympathy, his Dad is the same, users basically.

      • Clearwaters.

        I think at the time I THOUGHT mine was a bit dumb around certain things (never maths stuff but always spelling, planning, money), but what I realise now is it was part of the act and guaranteed (for him) the continuation of me doing everything. His lazy unaccountable arse would much rather I saw him as a bit stupid around things than actually have to do them himself. A trade-off he was willing to make. And when I think about it, he didn’t care about my opinion or feelings about him in any other domain so why would he care if I thought he was stupid?

        Since we have no kids and the property settlement is virtually concluded the need to write business emails to each other is pretty much gone. but what I did notice is all his correspondence when it came had reverted back to teenage text talk. You know: “I can’t do it str8 away soz, will do it tonite” I know that part of this is because his new primary source is 27 and he needs to be hip, but mostly it’s because he knows it annoys the crap out of me! I think 50 year olds should speak and spell like 50 year olds and show at least some modicum of intelligence.

        Wow I’ve gone off thread, but I am recognising more and more (still only five months from separating and final mask drop so still at point of realising on a daily basis the levels of non human-ness, deception, absolutely meaninglessness of the past 8 years) just how many ways in which they love to fuck with your head, get a reaction, demonstrate how little they think of you. And mine is an expert in stealth. Take one of his actions (like text talk for instance) and explain it to someone else – how it is a flagrant Fuck you Zhuchi, and the listener would just look at me as though I’m mad and completely over reacting. Mine does not attempt murder by a big sword to the heart, but by a million tiny pin pricks raining down.

        Doh. Something just got triggered. Clearly. Having an angry!!!

        • Z, I’ve totally been there and can totally relate to your reaction.

          I hope your day got better after your angry.

          Keep posting, it helps (especially me)

        • OMG, Zhuchi – that! Mine does not attempt murder by a bit sword to the heart, but by a million tiny pin pricks raining down! I would much prefer the former! I am also 5 months post D-Day.

          And the playing dumb/memory lapses – you would think mine had dementia (at home, not work). He is still doing this – and we do have kids together, and still thinks it is my job to rescue him when he continues to totally macerate his relationship with them. Because of kids I have still done this to an extent, for their sake, but just decided no more. He is a psychopath who has just married OW who, just like him, has grotesquely put her needs ahead of my children’s. If he can’t behave like a vaguely decent human being to his children of his own volition and work he doesn’t deserve to have a relationship with them – and they are better off without him. (Actually they have been much better without him).

          I am having lots of angries at the moment! 🙂

          • Mine plays dumb and smart at the same time. So can’t budget but sends me very formal texts trying to use the longest words he can rather than plain English, but can’t spell them and must have turned spellchecker off too. He also makes up words trying to sound official. Used to make me laugh before DDay. Now it gets up my nose. I have a very hard time staying grey rock about that. Sometimes I just reply agreeing with him repeating every thing he said but spelled correctly, hoping that gets up his nose….

        • Mine played dumb always or got all pissy when asked to do something simple. Petulant teen really but cunning as a shithouse rat.

    • Attie
      Wow, you describe my life perfectly. I used to tremble in bed knowing he would come home drunk and abuse me.
      I’m sorry we suffered. I don’t recognize that person I was then.

      • It’s hard to believe someone else was going through the same thing isn’t it. Listening for that key was hell.

    • Attie in in the EU as well! ?? I’ve the same issue like you, cheater doesn’t speak the local language. Putain figure it out in your own. You fired me from the job of translator.

      • Hi getting real. Don’t know if you will see this as it is quite old. I work in GVA but live in France. Putain as about the reality of it. A

  • During my divorce, I met my stbx wife to do our taxes. We had set up our federal and state withholdings in a complicated way, so “married filing separately” was going to result in a huge return for me, while she would owe too much. Instead of having to then include a transfer of those funds in our settlement agreement, it was easier to just spend 2 hours with her in front of a computer.

    (It also gave her an extra opportunity to ask for another chance, which I denied, but that’s not the point of this story.)

    When we were finished, and all balanced out, she asked if I could write down what she should do with her federal and state withholdings, as well as give her some tips on retirement saving (which she had previously referred to as “saving money for when you’re dead.”)

    And I told her that it wasn’t my job anymore to do that. She could ask her father (at the time, I didn’t know she was still with her OM; if I had, I may have said that she could ask him!)

    And it felt sad, given I’m a Chump and believe that marriage includes taking care of one another, and sharing our strengths to balance out our partner’s weaknesses (and vice versa).

    But it also felt liberating. I didn’t have to worry about her financial illiteracy anymore. And I wouldn’t be made to feel guilty about being the “bad guy” who said that we couldn’t afford a vacation to some exotic locale. And I wouldn’t have to grit my teeth when she spent more in yoga in a month than I spent on an annual gym membership. Etc.

    Not my job. Right on, CL.

    • I get this. It’s amusing that these people still expect you to be that person for them even after discovery of the cheating, separation and divorce. Talk about entitlement. Do they EVER realize what they had? Do they EVER realize how good they had? They still want that safety net of your guidance and care….which does not mean they want to be FRIENDS. Lord no. That requires something from them. They want to be able to take from a giver regardless of being the one responsible for the implosion of lives.

      • Can I get an Amen for this?

        Yea buddy: “Talk about entitlement. Do they EVER realize what they had? Do they EVER realize how good they had? “

        • People keep telling me some day Stybx will wake up and regret what he has done and I always say I hope so. I don’t believe he ever will though and it is because he his disordered. Yes, a normal person would very much regret what he has done but he is not normal and the general population just doesn’t get that.

          • People always told me the same thing, but I firmly believe he won’t. He’s the kind of person who never looks in the rear view mirror.

            • I still hope for that day, some revelation he’ll have one day, but knowing it won’t come. Trying everyday to move him further and further from my mind.

          • Feelingit/Lyn/Imaphool: He left in 2010, house foreclosed, he watched me sobbing, moving myself and the 4 kids out, leaning up against his truck, slowly blowing his cigarette smoke out, like a snake. I found a house to rent, friend of a friend, heard my story, destroyed credit, bla bla, moved in. His daddy bought him a house around the corner from my new rental…he stalked us for the first year, finally assaulted me in the kitchen one night after claiming he needed to come in to check on the kids.

            To this day he has absolutely no remorse about any of it. The only pain he felt was his own for losing full physical/legal custody. How could I? they only know their pain, they only ever will.

            I am still trying to figure out how to not be attracted to lousy men.

            • Oh my word, that image of him blowing smoke clouds while you moved your children out – wow – satan in human form. I’m so sorry for you and I hope the karma bus is heading his way soon.

            • I’m so sorry – what a piece of shit he sounds like. We’re all phools in some way. But we didn’t know. We’re not like them. We have a heart and it feels things. We thought they did too. Its not our fault for having feelings

          • No, they don’t have regrets because (a) they didn’t have real connections in the first place; (b) then they would have to admit they made a mistake.

            My X doesn’t regret his actions, even though he suffered after I filed, because his current life is more sparkly, even if less substantial. He prefers sparkly.

          • See FeelingIt, I have been hoping that James Bond would wake up and regret it. That’s hopium.

            Here’s my new understanding: they know what they’re doing, and don’t care that we (wife, church, community) don’t agree. This is from that book on the disordered, by Dr. Simon.

      • “Talk about entitlement.” My cheater showed up at court for our first conciliation meeting all cocky, smiley, a true Lord of the Universe. I realized then that he was useful only to change the lightbulbs because he is tall.

    • Wow, my experience also. He would want to do these boat trips where the gas was many 100’s of dollars, not to mention everything else. When we did do these things, I had a hard time being so ‘carefree’ as he would, not a thought in his mind how we were paying ridiculous finance charges on a damn credit card to fund the trip.

      • Wonder,

        I hate boats with a passion. My x FIL had one that was his ‘floating place of passion’ and that same huge boat has been in probate for over 7 years is the ‘place of passion’ for my x. CANNOT STAND THEM!. I guess it’s a trigger point for me….eh?

        But like many here, I’ve been reading CL for three plus years and I have come a long way. I have taken 4 amazing vacations with my children since the end of my world as I knew it….the last vacation I took my two kids to Machu Picchu. Talk about amazing. I was in the process of becoming a therapist during the divorce debacle and I am now two months from having my full license and opening my own business that focuses on Divorce Mentoring (Chump Lady style). After trying to date for over a year and having one hilarious but scary 2 month relationship, I have put that down and am open to a more “organic” meeting of a potential partner, but my happiness does not hang on being partnered. Three years makes a world of difference. The sky is blue, the birds are chirping. And today, I was able to start and use all my lawn tools….not bad. To everyone in the trenches, hang on. It gets better, unbelievably better! Michigan chumps we should try to get together!

    • I’m a graphic designer and designed a corporate identity gratis for a fledgling business my husband started up. Little did I know that he was in partnership with one of the 2 women he was screwing behind my back (and had been for 5 years). After everything was revealed by one of the women and I’d thrown him out, he had the cheek to ask me to make amends to the artwork. I told him that it was conceivable there was a faint possibility I might help with a business venture of his own, but was he out of his mind to think I would help with a business he was running with one of his tarts.

      • I had just been admitted to the bar. Mine was vocal the whole way that he did not support me furthering myself. He said that I’d make a c-class lawyer. But before he left he asked if I’d be the attorney for his little start up…Which has yet to materialize. I declined. Told him that as a ‘ c-class’ lawyer I couldn’t help him.
        Added irony. He has hired two c-class lawyers in succession to represent in the divorce. My a- class attorney ( top attorney her year) and I just smile.

    • Spot on for me also. No more BS when all i’m trying to do is set us up for retirement and save money for kids college. Now, I do what I want with my money. No more trying to satisfy a bottomless pit. Good luck to her going on those much wanted trips on that big box retailer hourly wage. I’m free of that shit!

      • Amen. Mine overspends constantly. CC bills 5k a month he pays off every month. He’s spent me dry. 4K in lawyers fees worth it to end the hémorragie.

  • No longer my job
    – having to act like the shmucks Personal assistant
    – having to pre-empt what it is he is going to want or need and just make it happen.
    – paying the bills on reduced wages because he couldn’t hold a job
    – constantly needing to take responsibility for all the negative aspects of our life
    – being both mother and father while he spent time with others
    – constantly feeling robbed of my feminity because he struggled to be a man
    – needing to make him the center of mine and our children’s existence, merely because of his title of husband and father, not because he wanted to be with us
    – having to forgo any desire of studying or career, because my career was as WIFE and mother
    – having to submit all decision making to the shmuck because capable or not he was the head of our home being the man. all final decisions laid with him
    – being disregarded by my church for not submitting and being shamed for being an outspoken female
    – not being able to grow in my pursuit of music because he was the prodigy musician all I did was sing
    – never feeling as though I was an equal in my own life

    My new Job:
    – comes with a large amount of free head space, peace, love, joy and freedom
    – freedom from all gaslighting, lies, deception and cheating
    – freedom to make my own decisions
    – freedom to study and pursue the career I had wanted for almost a decade (degree almost completed)
    – freedom to pursue music on my own terms
    – to go to movies, pubs with friends.
    – wear dresses, colour my hair, do my nails, wear makeup. all without negative jibs shaming condemnation
    – freedom to have friendships that he is unable to take over and make his own
    – freedom to choose my own friends and live by my own discretion.

    through the positive that now dwells in my life, doors have opened. Sure I am single and probably will be for some time yet but I am happy, gaining my internship with the agency I wanted to complete my degree, and this week learning I can join the choir of my new church and fellowship with others of a similar creative mind, all with the acceptance that I am a single female and I am entitled to think for myself and share my opinion should I want to. I govern my own life, It was hard in the beginning, painful to the point of just no longer wanting to breathe if it meant the pain would stop. But now breathing deep brings a smile to my face. Because it feels good, life is good.

    • Oh and since leaving cheater and gaining a life, I have left Australia which I have never done before, and spent a week in New York, traveled to west coast of Australia for a friend’s wedding and spent time on the beach watching the sunset. I have walked 31kilometres (19.26 miles) for charity, and do as I please with my leisure time.

      • Thankful, I am thankful for your post. I can’t complain, bitter as my chumpiness is for me, You are an inspiration.

        • ClearWater, thank you for your encouragement.
          Please do not think that my journey has been without its bitterness, There were many times I fantasised about tasering my cheater and watching him drop, especially as he got engaged to another woman (cheated on me with men) while hindering our property separation and increasing my legal bills through dragging his feet, all while claiming to be the victim.

          It has taken constant reminders by people close to me everytime he has inflicted his own brand of crazy on my life that I should be grateful that I am free, and his impact of crazy on my life is now limited not every day. He is now someone else’s problem

          To concur bitterness I suggest looking for things to be grateful for.

          Right now I am grateful for purple hair, and a little black dog, (I got all the pets in the split) that is keeping my feet warm on a cold sydney night.

          • Thankful, what beautiful posts! So glad your freedom is everything that you deserve and you can flex your creative muscles!

    • The thing I enjoy the most is not having to flatter and puff up his ego in order to get him to cooperate. I never want to be in that position again.

  • I did a little exercise a while back to create a four quandrant vision shield with images that respresent the following for my new life: Where do I put my TRUST?; What brings MEANING to my life? What is my HOPE for my future? And what is my COMMITMENT?

    My trust comes from me–my gut–no more discounting that little voice inside that speaks to me.
    My meaning comes from authentic, healthy, caring/loving relationships. I will work to cultivate/maintain loving realtionships (be they with friends/family/romantic love).
    My hope is for a peaceful life. My image there is of Eirene, the Greek Goddness of Peace.
    My commitment is to “paddle my kayak”! The image of a kayaker paddling in the river represents an understanding that there is a higher power that is at work here but that I need to do my work/do what I can all along the way.

    Fresh out of divorce I am getting glimpses of just how satisfying this new life filled with my vision and focusing on my interests and needs can be.

    • Trusting your gut is HUGE.

      It has taken me most of my adult life to realize that my gut is not verbal. I can not fully articulate the REASON of a gut reaction until some time after the alarm bells go off. I have had to learn to just act without understanding at that moment. That is tough!! I want to know the WHY…and sometimes so do others. It makes me feel slightly crazy to act on a “feeling” without being able to put words to it. But honestly, my gut has never been wrong.

      • I seem to remember that gut feeling or intuition is simply a rapid accumulation of facts and knowledge enabling a quick decision. Think of expert medics in an emergency situation, they rapidly assess in a blink of an eye and their assessment is built on a vast store of knowledge and past experience that informs their swift decision making process. The gut reaction is simply you responding swiftly to a situation using a huge reservoir of experiences and knowledge. As chumps we may have ignored our gut senses but when reality really bites then we sit up and take notice finally. From that moment I think our gut response becomes much more valued and listened too.

  • Hi Chump Nation,

    It’s been a while since I wrote here but I keep reading this blog every day. It has been one of my life and sanity savers and there are not enough words to express my gratitude to Tracy and every one of you for that. Thing is I am at meh.

    Two years ago I was jobless, frightened and suicidal and in so much pain I couldn’t get out of the bed. But I did all the right things: no contact with ex, lawyered up, went in therapy, read ChumpLady and focused on myself and what I wanted to do, rather than ex’s shenanigans (I left my lawyer to deal with that). And slower than I wanted by faster then I expected things began improving: I got a well paid job, got a new car, signed the house on my name, acted on a stage, started drawing again, began coloring mandalas, making new friends, got rid of toxic ones and so much more. I am now booking a trip to go meet up with a long time friend who will take me surfing (something I have only been dreaming of learning in my previous life). My kids are doing well in school and in general. This life (no partner by the way in sight and not the slightest problem with that from my part) is soooooo much better than the abuse, gas lighting and shit I had to put up with my ex in my previous one.

    I don’t mean to brag, but the point is: if I could do it, you can do it as well. There are so many beautiful experiences, adventures and people waiting for you, I promise. Love and hugs to all Chumps. ChumpLady, you rock!

    • Unchumpingmyself

      Ahhhhhh. A lovely post. I could feel my shoulders relaxing back into position, rather than hovering somewhere near my ears, as I was reading. Thank you. I am going to assume this will be me in the future and the chaos around me at the moment, well, this too shall pass. ❤️

      • Thank you for posting this as I am in the process of “Escape To” after I break up with my cheating ex-boyfriend. I saw the foundation stain on the towel and the used feminine napkin on the trashcan when I visited my ex-boyfriend last January this year. That’s how I found out that he cheated. He admitted it afterward so I got confused. This is how we break up. Actually, most guys that I dated cheat on me. That horrific event last January 2017 keeps playing in my head. I definitely need to replace those bad pictures/memories in my head. Thanks Chump Nation.

    • Thank you for sharing! This gives us hope for our own future. May the world’s blessings continue to grace your new life. 🙂

    • By all means, brag away!! This is an awesome reminder to all of us chumps that there is light at the end of the tunnel and FREEDOM in our new and improved lives. I am so happy for you!!

      • Totally agree with everyone else..go ahead and “Blow your own trumpet!” lovely post..well done you!

        • Love it – and so happy for you. Esp the reality that it takes time, took you a couple of years. Thanks for sharing.

    • I think this is an excellent example of what CL is talking about in today’s post … how to move toward freedom (and the amazing benefits of doing so).

      Bragging? Maybe — and it is well-earned. 🙂 More importantly, though, you shared this in order to encourage others who are in (or were in) a situation like your own. That is a very KIND thing to do. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Unchumping myself: I am crying as I feel like your post this morning is an answer to prayer. I think I am where you were two years ago and I needed to hear that you not only survived but are thriving! Last night was rather sleepless for me and I am feeling sick with worry. Last night all I could think is how can I do this on my own- without my fuckwit crutch.

      My lawyer warned me that this will be the hardest thing you ever go through and it will get worse in some ways before it gets better. Stbx is doing every thing in his power to discard me but still control me so it is a constant battle for true liberation and like chump lady says now I have to learn to live free. I have sympathy for former prisoners. At least the sun is shining here today and I can keep reading about all you survivors! Keep your stories coming!

      • Feelingit, so glad you found us! It really IS the hardest thing you’ll ever go through, but believe me you will make it if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The way you are feeling is perfectly normal for what you’re going through. You will discover strength you never knew you possessed. Keep coming back for support!

      • Hey, Feelingit – we’ve all been right where you find yourself today. Sleepless nights and a life consumed with worry about how we’ll do this life alone now.

        I listen to Pastor Rick Warren’s free podcast “Daily Hope” every morning while getting ready for work. In one of my favorites in his series on suffering, he mentions Victor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor who devoted his life to studying, understanding and promoting “meaning.” His famous book “Man’s Search for Meaning” tells his story of surviving the Holocaust as a prisoner by finding personal meaning in the experience, which gave him the will to live through it. Warren mentioned that Frankl was stripped of his clothing and everything he had. Even his wedding band, but, he thought about how even standing there naked, he had the ultimate power to choose his attitude and response to their hate. No one could take that from him. Some of Frankl’s most beautiful quotes about suffering through circumstances and our mental freedom to choose our position are:

        1) Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

        2) When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

        3) Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

        4) Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

        5) What is to give light must endure burning.

        6) The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitudes.

        Interestingly, where douchebags like all the cheaters we’ve had blow up our lives are concerned, Frankl indicates a strong relationship between “meaninglessness” and criminal behavior, addiction and depression; that in the absence of meaning, people fill the resultant void with hedonistic pleasures, power, materialism, hatred, boredom, or neurotic obsessions and compulsions. Sound familiar?

        So, you and all Chumps can rest assured that you WILL move forward and have a great life, but only if you’re willing to find the meaning of and power in your pain. You’ll get there. It’s been 3 years since my DDay and 2 years since the divorce. I feel stronger and more beautiful inside than I EVER did tethered to that douchebag over our 23 years. You will, too.


        • I could spend $150.00 for an hour with a therapist and come out with nothing even remotely close to this wisdom and it’s relevance! Hugs to you kibble free mighty me!

          • Feelingit, You bet! All the insights are right here! Don’t “spend $150.00 for an hour with a therapist”. Everyone here, especially CL, takes their time to share, has learned a lesson, has suffered and is generous.

          • Amen! My doctor said that I had not released my anger and therefore, my blood pressure and other concerns were being affected. She gave me a card to see a good therapist. I didn’t say anything. My therapy is chump nation and chump lady. Y’all rock and are my rocks! I have been sending other chumps and their families to read chump lady.

        • That book was recommended to me by my therapist when I was in the worst of the early days. It truly helped me heal. I’m very visual and metaphors are very powerful for me, and this book was full of them. In particular, when the concentration camp survivors were liberated by the Allied Forces, they were actually scared; most of them had nowhere to go. Some even went back into the death camps, comforted by the familiarity of their (oppressive) surroundings. That image has stayed with me, as I learned about stockholm syndrome, and even now, three and a half years later, when I feel those “pangs” of longing for my old life, I snap myself out of it by reminding myself that I am like that, I miss my “crumbs” that I was willing to accept, in my cage controlled by my narcissist cheater.

          • (I miss my “crumbs”that Inwas willing to accept, in my cage controlled by my narcissist cheater.). Wow! I always referred to myself as Rapunzel locked in the castle with no one to throw my hair down to escape.

        • KibbleFree_MightyMe, thank you for introducing me to this work by Victor Frankl.

          The power of choice. That is all about us, mighty chumps (and also our cheaters, we must remember).

          These are the sort of things that will make me follow Chump Nation for as long as it or I last, no matter how Meh I become. Here is the place to learn about human nature, for better and for worse.

      • You aren’t alone. You just aren’t towing a fuckwit behind you. People will help you get started. In the first summer alone with this huge yard, a couple of young friends did all my mowing. Then they moved! ACK! Back on my own. And I couldn’t figure out what to do because the riding mower scared me and was not working well. So I cut the yard (2 acres) with the hand mower, because that is what I could do. Last year, I got the rider fixed and VeryKindMan showed me how to put it in reverse and I had two tools–the rider and the regular mower. Now it’s not an issue. I just do it. The point of this story is you have to ask for help. People WILL help. But the goal has to be learning to be self-sustaining–that means doing what you can for yourself and hiring people to do what you can’t do. I’m on the fence right now about hiring someone to paint the porch ($$$) or doing it myself (ugh). So I will talk to people and get feedback and make a decision by next weekend.

        Think of your situation as a kind of education or even “job training.” You are here on the planet to learn and experience. We’re all afraid. But courage is moving forward even though you are afraid. You can do what you need to do. Just set your goal self-efficacy–to be self-sustaining, independent AND able to ask for help when you need it.

        • Loved hit the target with that comment. Most people do want to help. You just have to ask and that’s hard for a chump. Do it! Noting will help you feel better than accepting the kindness of others right now. Then in the future when you are better, you can pay it forward. Just ask.

      • U can do it! Your post made me tear up. I know how u feel. I am at the tail end of my divorce and mentally recovering at a good pace. It’s so hard in the beginning and trust me, there are days that so many bad memories all come back at once and slap me. But when my mind is done strolling down memory lane, I’m reminded why I said no more. Take the bad and the good. Time is your friend and your enemy. Time is what helps to heal u but time doesn’t move fast enough. My only regret is not doing it sooner. U can do it!

      • It sounds like you have a good lawyer.

        Don’t feel as though you have to get everything in the divorce to get justice. Don’t give it more headspace than it deserves.

        I spent so much time feeling like things were so unjust.

        I didn’t get everything I should have out of the divorce, but the freedom I finally got, that turned out to be the only important thing.

        Look for that light at the end of the tunnel. It gets brighter everyday!

    • Unchumping-
      This was me as well, and Tracy’s post makes total sense too. I also was completely lost as to my future. I felt I had nothing to look forward to after babysitting a sociopath for 18 years. I sure didn’t even KNOW how to put myself first at all.
      Of course this blog was my lifeline during my grieving. I owe everything to CL & CN. I look back now and am not sure I would have had the mental strength to face the pain and leave that fucker once and for all.
      Aww. Poor ClusterFuck Sociopath. I took care of everything for that fucker for years, while he built new chaos on a daily basis.
      He recently bought me out of our beautiful home. I’m here temporarily until my new place is ready. He has been bitching to me about a very expensive furnace I had put in a few years ago because he went to jail and I had no heat.
      Bwa ha ha. Furnace has been throwing off malfunction codes, and he is pissed off about it. He thinks if he bitches enough I will take care of it (like he was accustomed to). Um, no Sociopath, welcome to my world in which you were free from any responsibility and I was left to do EVERYTHING because I could not rely on you. NOTE TO CLUSTERFUCK B SOCIOPATH: the 40 acres I mowed by myself needs attention?????
      I’m so happy CockSlobber wanted him so bad.
      Every single thing he did led me directly to where I stand today-happy and free. All his attempts at hoovering-not even a chance. I absolutely would not want to be him. He has nobody to blame but himself and I’m sure his sour puss mood means CockSlobber’s prowess at cock slobbering no longer soothes the savage beast.
      Who cares about him?? I’m the one skipping around now like a teenager.
      Meh is awesome.

      • My ex took off at the same time my kids got married and moved away. In the span of a couple of weeks I went from being a wife and mother with children at home to living alone and shopping for one. I couldn’t see my future and was terrified of what it would bring. I daydreamed about joining a convent where I could live in peace and never have to deal with human relationships again. LOL. Now my parents are telling me I’m happier than they’ve ever seen me. Amazing what happens when you feel you have control over your own life again.

        • Lyn.
          You are so mighty. To have been through that and come out the other side happier than you have ever been. Kudos !
          Wow. That’s some story. Do you ever look back and think damn, I did this!

        • Lyn,
          I know what you mean, I felt the same, and now even thou I’m still finding my footing, everyone tells me I look good. (( ‘and not even trying too))

    • Yes to this! I’m only just over a year out, so thrilled to see what year two could look like. Thank you!

      • I agree there is a big difference between bragging (being excessively boastful of small achievements) and providing other chumps with inspiring stories of unchumping ourselves!

        We are all survivors, recovering from being cheated on is one of the most arduous tasks, and I salute you UnchumpingMyself for being Meh!! At the same time, reading your story UnchumpingMyself makes me feel validated as well as triggers many negative messages against myself: I should be further along in my recovery, see two years out and people have fabulous lives, and I am almost 3 years out and still struggling…

        New and not so new chumps, here is my message to you: Everyone has their own chump recover time lines! I’ve been forging on, it’s been almost three years, and I’ve faced set backs to Meh… My path to Meh has been a tortuous one given shared custody and my X’s marriage to the AP, but one thing I have learned that I hope will be of help to other chumps is that every time I feel impatient against myself, I remind myself of all I have achieved instead of reminding myself of how much I still have to go to move from anger/disappointment to indifference when it comes to the unavoidable presence in my life of the cheating lying coward I share custody with.

        Forge on chumps, life does get better after divorcing a cheating fuckwit!!

        • I know what happened to me will always be with me and I have learned to be ok with that. For me, it was like a death, the death of what I was and who I thought I would be. It definitely was the death of what I had believed my future to be. As an “older” woman, I was looking forward to those golden years with X. I have had to make a new future for myself, one in which I am alone. I have allowed myself to grieve that loss and I make very conscious efforts to choose joy and contentment. It isn’t always easy. Reading the comments here has been so helpful to me because it has given me confidence in my choices. Life does get better. Different, but better.

    • I think you have definite bragging rights! I am definitely not at “meh”, although working on it. It sounds like you did all the right things despite feeling terrible (or having a guaranteed outcome) and it has paid off. It is great to hear stories like yours – as a reminder of where the end-game should and can be, and that it can be done!

    • Wow, OK, so your comments brought tears into my eyes. Tears of joy this time, really. I am so touched by everyone’s kind words. All I can say is that this community is made out of amazing people, good people who deserve good and happy cheater free lives. This blog, your posts gave me the courage and clarity to act in my best interest. I live in Europe in a country where staying with a cheater spouse is very much encouraged “for the sake of children and marriage”. A country where if you say “abuse” or “narcissist” or “psychopath” people get very upset and look at you like you are the insane one. So I have learned to keep my mouth shut. All I can say is that before stumbling over Chump Lady’s blog my head was spinning from the toxic advice I was being given from “well meaning” friends and aquaintances. As my misery was only deepening, once I found Chump Lady, I thought I have nothing to lose but to take her advice on what a newly cheated spouse should do in order to escape the shit storm and free themselves. And I am the living proof that it worked. And it will work for each of you, through your personal journeys no doubt. I am not perfect, and my life isn’t perfect either. But it is more authentic and much better than it used to be when I was together with my ex husband. I have regained a freedom that I have long felt lost. And I feel happy. Hang in there and hugs to you all!

      • See UnchumpingMyself? About the country where you live? I live in a neighborhood with lots of immigrants, and have come to be good friends with them. Some of the women are chumps too. I think this message of cheater-freedom is a message that women world wide need and respond to, whatever country of origin, whatever religious background.

      • UnchumpingMyself I live in Europe too!!!!

        I’d love to find more EU chumps. I’m in ?? Where are you?

    • Thankyou UnchumpingMyself! I needed that after a tearful sleepless night.

    • What´s not my job anymore?
      1. Keeping the spackle on Disordered STBX´s relationship with his 5 kids (that is now nonexistent)
      2. Being his emotional punching bag
      3. Caring at all what happens to him
      4. Proving my worth to a monster that never will be happy
      5. Listening to the unbelievable lies and betrayal
      I have a new job.
      My job is to stay true to myself and my kids. Find my worth IN MYSELF and never go back to that sham of a marriage I was in.
      The more NC I am, the clearer it all is. It´s horrifying in many ways, what I have been put through, (and my kids), but, wow. What a wake up call.
      I am thankful for my freedom, and that I can sleep until noon on a Saturday or Sunday instead of being literally dragged out of bed since disordered STBX couldn´t ever have any down time.
      That I can have a glass of wine and watch what I want to watch on tv. Actually having that choice.
      That I can raise my kids without his influence, they want nothing to do with him.
      That I can breathe, sit in the sun and actually feel the warmth.
      My court date is on my birthday, and on a Tuesday, so I´ll be getting MEH for my birthday.
      Best present I could ever get:)

      • Realization that one is better off without a fuckwit and having Meh on a Tuesday would definitely be a birthday present that’s hard to top off 😛

    • Thank you for posting this!! I am 2 months in and have good days and bad days. I can not see the light….Yet!

    • I filed 14 days ago after so many DDays I’m not sure what # the last one was and your post is exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve begun a morning routine and a Pinterest board on self esteem and goals. Today is the first day I feel hopeful. Thanks Unchumping myself!!

  • Sometimes it is very hard to step back and see the inappropriate relationship for what it really is, and the role you get sucked into playing, and more importantly, how to extract yourself from that dynamic.

    If you find yourself repeatedly entangled and at a loss of how to stop being part of it, (I think it’s called being the hypotenuse here), check out info about the Karpman Drama Triangle. Once you realize that someone is an anchor – not in a good way, to you, you can then work on cutting the chain.

    Being able to identify a problem is the first real step in healing.

    • Coyote ugly is a thing even after years of thinking you were married to a swan?

  • This concept has been a huge part of my recovery and I’ve summed it up with the life motto “You Do You”. I’m no longer responsible for anything outside of myself.

    My divorce has been final for 3 months. Chumps still in limbo- HANG IN THERE. The freedom that comes from the final decree was an even bigger relief than I expected. It will happen. Keep strong.

    This has been my jam lately, how timely!

    • Love the motto, ItAin’tMe. You Do You! And gonna add the Selena song to my playlist . . . Nice!

  • I’ve been coming back here lately because I have had to have more interaction with my Ex Fuckwit.
    It’s draining…..we’ve been divorced since August 17, 2016. Here it is May 2017 and we still don’t have everything done….he dragged his feet on everything. I just got the Retirement settlement signed by him. So….this freedom “from”….freedom “to” is timely.
    This skein of fucktardery I have had to be in is exhausting. It’s so close….yet so far. Coming back here reminds me that IT WILL HAPPEN….EVENTUALLY. I am more Meh now than I ever have been….but not full Meh.

    I am thankful for CL…CN. Our stories help one another. I hate that we have this common thread of Fuckwits…but at least we are not alone.

    • Tracy, I know how you feel. Our divorce was final in 2012, but it took 5 years of pestering the shit out of him to take care of the last thing he agreed to do. I finally had to get a third party involved. I’ve been told it will be resolved by the end of this month. So infuriating. Hang in there!

      • Wow, 2 years almost killed me. Hats off to you for hanging in there for 5! I cannot even imagine…

    • Hey Tracy, James Bond has been dragging his feet too on our divorce. Gloating a bit, about how it gives him power.

      Now I’m thinking, “I wonder if there is benefit to me in the divorce being drug out? How can I exploit this situation for my own benefit?” I ask myself, and the answers I find empower me a bit.

  • CL, this post is so timely. After a 3 year court battle and some issues with the judge, I finally got my divorce decree on Monday!! However I was determined that this was going to be the year I do me. The beginning of the year I suscribed to an online class share club. I need to update my job skills and school is too expensive for me and too time consuming. Also, I gained a few pounds, so I rejoined my weight loss club early this month. It’s slow going (lost 4lbs so far) but since I have made a concerted effort to concentrate on me, I find that my life is so much more at peace. I realize now that my Tuesday is fast approaching…yay!

    • I keep seeing the reference to my Tuesday- could someone explain it? I think I should be looking forward to mine but not sure the meaning lol!

      • Feelingit….”Tuesday” is the day you achieve Meh. haha One day, not a particularly special day, you realize that you are OK. The cheater does not take up your headspace or zap you of your energy…you’re just kind like meh about them.

      • It’s symbolic of the day when it hits you that you really don’t give a shit about what he/she’s doing and who he/she’s with. You realize your anniversary was several months ago and you think, “Huh. How about that.” You just aren’t worried about it. The day you truly reach Meh.

        Chump Lady picked Tuesday, and it’s funny how many times I’ve read about Chumps realizing landmarks in their divorces happen on Tuesday.

        My birthday was on a Tuesday so I guess I was born Meh. Explains a lot, actually.

        • LOL – you were born on a Tuesday – i look forward to my Tuesday when I truly don’t give a shit. Year and a Half later, I still do. I know, I know, Imaphool

      • I think it’s also in the glossary here on the website. great information there.

        • Thanks for that and pointing me to the glossary! ( without making me feel like I am an idiot as you know I have been a longtime chump)?

          • Sometimes “Tuesdays” just happen for us. I literally just checked the calendar, and it was on a Tuesday last year that the x-douchebag lost ALL parental rights to our teen daughter. It also just happened to be the date of our would-be 19th anniversary. Yes. All on the same Tuesday last year.

            I guess was already more at meh and completely indifferent to that moron than I thought, because those dots didn’t even connect until I just looked back.

            That rearview mirror is pretty awesome. =D

  • After my Ex walked out, I wept. Later, I began walking again (too exhausted before he left), got a subscription to a world-class opera (something I’d always wanted to go see but he didn’t, so we didn’t), traveled to the UK for ten days, and when he made comments about how I was spending my money, told him to mind his own business.


  • I tend to worry about stuff like 5th grade graduation not only because I am chumpy but because I am *kind* and considerate. The “nice lady” in me wants to organize and inform and invite and include because it’s the right thing to do. It’s what I did throughout our entire marriage — I handled everything and made it easy for the Cheater to fuck his OWs and then slide in right on time, beaming like Father of the Year.

    No more!!! Chump Lady is right — the school calendar is readily available to every parent who wants to be informed and involved. So LimpDick didn’t realize the play was this weekend? Oh well. Completely missed the registration for Spirit Week? So sorry. NOT MY PROBLEM to include a person who obviously has no real impetus to be involved in the first place.

    Collateral benefit is that my kids finally get to see how mom always shows up and dad couldn’t care less.

    • MehGloriousMeh, this was me also. I thrive on planning and organizing. I still put everything into Google calendars for the kids (it is how I manage all the stuff) and then share it with STBX. I look at it this way. He knows EVERYTHING that they do from practices to games, to school events, to haircuts to doctor appointments, etc. He uses it to send them a quick text “How was freshman retreat?” But the reality is that he misses 95% of their stuff. I then write whether he attended or not in a calendar. Proof that he is basically a non-participant in their lives AND evidence that he can never accuse me of parental alienation.

  • I’m fairly new to this process (just two months separated after 20+ years together) and I can be honest enough to admit to understanding what the letter writer is going through. (No worries – my logical brain is smacking my chumpy brain).

    It’s sort of a schizophrenic-like feeling. On one hand, I feel kind of lost. I loved this man for so long. It’s hard to undue residual feelings of obligation toward him.

    Then there’s the problem that I’m just so USED to him being with me. Some days I’m looking at pretty obvious questions or problems and just have no clue how to formulate an answer. Gee, the dog needs his nails trimmed. STBX used to do the dog stuff. What to do???? Panic mode. (Seriously, panicking over a dog’s toe nails … it would be hilarious in another world.)

    On the flip side of this, I’ve figured out that I was married my entire adult life (18 years young when I met him – married at 19). And my childhood was filled with similar disorder. So, basically, I have no clue who I am – at least not consciously.

    So, I’ve been working hard to figure this out. What have been my “go to” activities as an individual throughout my lifetime? Peeling back through layers of memory to figure out things that interested me, but I didn’t get a chance to do because I was saddled with a disordered husband.

    I’ve rediscovered Chopin! I’ve been listening to Chopin while spackling (haha) and putting a fresh coat of paint on every room in the house!

    I’ve also been able to indulge in reading again. I haven’t read a book in so long, yet books were always a mainstay for me — a lifeline when life truly sucked, and a treasure even when life was good. I had forgotten how much books meant to me.

    And, I find the single-hood to be beautiful — even serene. A lot of this is probably because I’m finally not walking on a gazillion egg shells daily … listening for a change in the tone of his voice … watching his body language … gee, is he pissed but hiding it? Is he getting ready to rage? Argh. I don’t miss that — not at all.

    I get a hefty reminder of how horrible that was every time I have to have any kind of interaction with the disordered asshole (even if by third party). My reaction is visceral. Blood pressure goes up, migraine ensues …. Damn. I don’t miss that.

    • JessMom, I too left a 20 yr marriage. It will be three yrs since my divorce and my life is now amazing. I also freaked out about handling some things that the Ex used to do, but I went ahead and figured out how to do them (YouTube videos are great for this).

      You’ve got this. Make a list of all the things you’ve always wanted to do and start treating yourself. I joined meetup groups and took up ukulele lessons.

      What I feared never happened. Yes it takes time to heal, but life on the other side is wonderful.

      • JessMom.
        Same here 22 year marriage. Ddays July last year. Divorce soon.
        Looking back on my own time I too realised I didn’t know who I was, what I liked, what I didn’t. At first my efforts were all a bit ‘stiff’ as I was trying things that I might like and determined to try lots of things. Now it’s more natural. I am working on my garden with a lovely lady gardener to help and it feels easy. No pressure. I am sort of redecorating gradually. I am changing my car. I am planning a new wardrobe. It all feels ‘flow-y’ now. I’m not consciously trying to ‘be me’ I’m just being. It’s sooooo lovely.
        That’s why I’m excited to be single. I used to look at couples and mourn what I no longer had. No I just look at them and think wise I’m so lucky I don’t have to fit with anyone else and their stuff. The amount of headspace I have feels liberating.
        I have learned that if there is something that breaks or goes wrong I press the mental pause button. Think about possible people or things that will help and do my best.
        I honestly didn’t believe my past anxiety was anything to do with my STBX until CL commented on one of my posts on a thread. Since then I know it myself. I still get anxious sometimes but have lost that high intensity background scream that was always there. And I have gained myself back. Not a bad outcome at all and something I could not have done without chump nation.

        • Capricorn –

          I know what you mean about the feelings of mourning when you would see other couples. I think I’m a bit behind you in the mental journey, but I am also starting to pull out from under the weight of “mourning coupledom.” Though, admittedly, I still can’t stomach the Hallmark channel (for those not in the US – it’s mostly romantic movies). 🙂

          Thank you for describing your experience with trying to figure out who you are. It helps me to see that it won’t feel this awkward forever! I’ve consciously berated myself for the awkwardness … it really shouldn’t be this hard to figure out who I am, right? I’ve kind of been living in this skin for a while now … (a bit over four decades). Sometimes, when I’m feeling a bit feistier, I get ticked off because I know I’ve diminished myself to this extent — trying to be loved by people who weren’t remotely capable of it. The good news about this anger is that it is a healthy, “never again” kind of anger.

          It’s keenly interesting to me that you mentioned anxiety. I had no idea I was so steeped in it, until I realized that I had only left the house a hand full of times in the last three years. Add this to the anxiety of dealing with the fallout from the implosion, the always-impending unpredictability of STBX, and … well, I’m kind of an anxious mess. I’ve taken up meditation and several other means to help control the anxiety. But I really like your idea of the “mental pause button” … if you don’t mind, I think I’ll borrow that. 😉

          It is so uplifting to hear that you have gained yourself back — and that you are moving with full determination into a bright, optimistic future. Thank you so much for sharing your journey.

          • I commend you ladies – 20+ years is a long time and you guys are staying strong even though it can be difficult. Hugs to all

        • Capricorn, I know EXACTLY what you mean. And I always blamed myself for it, all the anxiety and the crap that went along with it. It’s nearly miraculous how much of that high baseline anxiety has slowly melted away over the last 10 months since I evicted the cheater from my life (we have two small kids together, but my gray rock is solid). I have never, in my entire life, felt like myself. It makes no sense written out, but it sounds like you know the feeling. I didn’t know what kind of music I liked. Really. And so many similar things. I was so ashamed that I seemed sub-human. This stuff always seemed so easy for others!! I was always so jealous, and was trying to figure out how to get there. And now I am on my way!! Getting to know myself has been a very rewarding journey. I also couldn’t have done it without the therapeutic and insightful wisdom 2×4 of CL and CN. So much <3 for everyone here!

          • SomethingNew

            ” I have never, in my entire life, felt like myself. It makes no sense written out, but it sounds like you know the feeling”

            I surely do.

            I did not know myself because I had a tricky childhood and was always trying to make people love me by twisting into one shape or another. I didn’t trust that they would love me if I was just ‘me’. That set the pattern. Easy to spot in hindsight. I tended to go along with what everyone else liked. I dared not stamp my style on anything. I too tried to think my way into an identity. Copying stuff from others trying to see if it felt ‘right’.
            Fortunately one of the side effects of the cheating has been to give me the choice of more of the same or take the risk of nailing my colours to the mast. Finally I can feel me emerging from the inside out. So, pass me the hammer….

            • Yup. My life as I knew it felt like it suddenly burned down all around me, but hell if that didn’t make me take a huuuuge step back to identify where things went wrong on what I thought was my path in life. Now I CHOOSE to replace all the guilt-ridden “I should”s with agency-full “I want”s.

      • I just love that you took ukulele lessons. So cool! 🙂

        Thank you for your encouragement. I know it is a long haul – and I’m okay with that. Stories like yours constantly help to refill my motivational reserves when things get a bit wonky and wobbly in my head.

    • Jessmom, I met my ex at age 16 and we were together 36 years. Same thing with a difficult childhood and not really knowing who I was or what I wanted. I love that you are listening to Chopin, that’s the first thing I turned to as well. As long as I could remember music has moved me. It was very healing to get as much music in my life as possible. Hang in there, it takes awhile for the bonds that held you with him so long to dissolve. It sort of feels like your brain is having to rewire after being in a relationship since you were basically a child.

      • Thank you, Lyn.

        You said: “It sort of feels like your brain is having to rewire after being in a relationship since you were basically a child.”

        You nailed this. I’ve literally been stopped in my tracks because my brain feels like it has hit a dead end and is frantically searching for a new path. It is the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced.

        Music has long been a solace to me as well … I just started ignoring that somewhere along the way. I’m thrilled to have it back. Chopin, in particular, with his haunting yet soothing melodies is amazingly comforting to me. 🙂

        • Jesssmom, I understand the feeling of the dead end, the “things cannot continue like this”. It’s great to finally realize what you don’t want (disorder) but it leaves a big, gaping, murky uncertainty in front of you. Well, that’s what I don’t want, but it’s all I’ve known…so now what? That’s why I picked my tag, I knew I had to fashion of myself “something new”, particulars TBD.

          • >>”particulars TBD”

            Yes! The way I try to think about it (to make it a bit more palatable! LOL) is that it’s like a sculptor who has gotten her hands on a fine piece of marble. Now it’s her opportunity to create something beautiful. 🙂

            • That’s beautiful metaphor. We certainly are the sculptors, engineers, artists, and architects of our life.

        • Jess, for at least the first 2-3 years I had a really strange feeling of being “lost.” It was sort of like anxiety, but not really. I finally decided that in many ways I’d lost my identity. I felt completely disconnected from life. Thankfully that feeling hasn’t been around in a long time. Sometimes I think of it as a computer that’s having to overwrite all its data with new information. It takes a long time to reorder a lifetime of memories and experiences with a new reality.

          • In addictions therapy we talk to client’s a lot about how they will have to work to ‘re-wire’ their brains. That drugs fast track, a super highway to the dopamine centers and that in recovery, what we want them to begin to build in scenic by-ways, detours, county roads. Then as you take the other roads i.e. grey rock, meditation, health coping behaviors, these roads become the new main roads. It took all of us a long time to grow accustomed to living with chronic anxiety, dysfunction, walking on egg shells etc. The journey to meh is taking thousands of back roads and learning to re-wire our brains. Chemically there is a change. Hope this metaphor works. There is science behind it. When I explain CBT techniques to clients I tell them that to “Fake it till you make it” is in the long run, laying down new, healthy neuro pathways.

    • JesssMom, I was married for 25 years, together for 32. I’ve been divorced for over a year but every once in awhile (thankfully not very often anymore) those “so used to being with him” moments still hit me. Today was one. I went in for my mammogram and was the only single in the lobby. Every other woman there was with her SO. The last few years I’ve had to do re-dos and/or ultrasounds because they’ve spotted something that looked off on the film. The first year my ex went with me for the ultrasound because I was so scared that I had cancer. So this year, as I was sitting there by myself, I had that “so used to being with him” moment. But then I made myself REALISTICALLY recall that visit a couple of years ago when my ex was there with me. When after 2 or 3 different re-takes of the mammogram and an ultrasound I finally got the all clear he sort of mocked me for being scared and said HE wasn’t going to worry about it until there was something to worry about. And when I wanted to go out to lunch to celebrate (I was too nervous to eat before the testing) he said no, he had wasted enough time and had to get back to work. When I really thought about how life was with him I realized that I was better off being scared by myself than trying to pretend I wasn’t because I didn’t want to have my concerns mocked and belittled. The getting to know yourself as a single person can be hard but I have yet to imagine a realistic moment with my ex as he really was rather than my idealized image of who I thought he was when I didn’t know I was MUCH better off without him.

      • Beth, I’ve had that experience too. Recently I went in for minor surgery and the nurse was looking behind me as I came in. She asked if I had anyone with me and it felt weird to say no. Just me.

      • Ouch. I know that feeling of being with someone who just doesn’t care when there are medical concerns. It sucks horribly — and I’m very sorry you had to go through that.

        My STBX was the type who just couldn’t be bothered when someone else was sick. Of course, if he had the smallest thing wrong, the world was ending and he expected me to baby him. And, when I didn’t (as I learned far too late) – it was fodder for covert revenge (woohoo – she didn’t baby me, time to go get laid somewhere else!).

        Whatever comfort we thought we had with our disordered fuckwits just wasn’t real. Such a hard truth to accept, but true nonetheless. But, being away from that kind of degradation is a saving grace – as you said, even if it means we are dealing with the bumps in life by ourselves.

        (P.S. It’s excellent to hear that your mammogram came out clean!)

    • JesssMom: I get it… after a 40-year relationship with Asshat, I had no idea who I was, what I liked or what I was capable of accomplishing; the last time I’d lived alone or did any independent decision-making, I was 19 years old.

      When Asshat dumped me for his married coworker (I’m sure she still doesn’t know she’s #14 in a long line of whores he finally admitted to grooming and then bedding), I truly thought my life was over. I couldn’t breathe, think, function, get out of bed, and certainly didn’t know how I would get from one day to the next. But good, loving and faithful friends and family members immediately circled their wagons around me and helped me to see that (1) his longtime pattern of irrational decisions were all about him and had nothing to do with me, and (2) it was only my life AS I’D KNOWN IT that was over, and one day, I would be grateful to be free of that existence.

      We were separated for 3 years, and halfway through that stretch, I felt strong enough to completely disengage, go zero contact, and let my attorney serve as my communication conduit. That one decision to “go dark” ended up being the linchpin in my healing journey!

      I’m now 22 months post-divorce and 40 months ZC, and I am well on my way to the land of Meh. I bought myself a cute house and remodeled it to fit my tastes, I rediscovered my former passion for making jewelry, I’m taking better care of myself via healthier eating and regular yoga classes, I’m volunteering in my community and making many new friends, I’m doing more traveling to visit my grown kids, and I am so enjoying my independence! I’m beyond grateful that the remaining years of my life will be spent in truth and freedom… not walking on eggshells, not wondering if he was telling me yet another lie, and not waiting for the other shoe to drop.

      Of course, I still have occasional days when I miss being “coupled”, but I certainly don’t stress about finding a mate; eligible men in my age bracket (60s) who are not looking for a nurse or a purse seem few and far between. I’ve already decided that if I can’t meet someone new in an organic way, I’m just as happy being single.

      • “If we stay in the chump condition, we eliminate uncertainty. We give our authority to fuckwits who will tell us what to think and how to act. (And where we missed a spot.)” To me this is by far one of the most powerful statements I’v read here on this site. It speaks to me in so many ways.

        While no one would willingly allow a partner to inflict pain and abuse upon themselves it becomes our normal way of functioning despite having the ability to leave. The path to trusting ourselves is overwhelmed by pain and self doubt. While the pain subsides with clarity, self doubt lingers much longer. Our very identity was in being a wife/husband and part of a couple. At first we do gain ‘freedom from’ and this in itself is a necessary step. Yet getting them out of our heads and gaining emotional strength takes much more time.

        Abuse is often unrecognized within a relationship as often times present and rooted in our families of origin without recognizing how this impacted our choices and what we were willing to tolerate. Or we were in a healthy family growing up and never saw the signs until it was too late.

        How do we detach and become strong? It is with the development of rebuilding through self-efficacy, as LAJ so eloquently describes. That is the foundation which supports ‘freedom to’. The role an abuser plays in our lives is to always maintain power and control and is either blatant or covert in nature. It is usually present long before we become aware of infidelity. We are groomed in many ways prior to ever becoming aware. The goal posts move, and we up our support and feel helpless/hopeless and yet plug through it under the guise of having equal power in decision making because we are invested.

        I can relate to becoming a prisoner who upon having the ability to gain freedom, remained captive due to Stockholm syndrome as Muse describes. What was absent was my knowledge of the breadth and depth the face of abuse can develop over years. Infidelity is often times the catalyst used to further break us down; it’s always the tip of the iceberg. The abuse came long before it was recognized as such.

        Gaining self-efficacy takes one step and then another. Yes, I learned how to start a lawn mower, rewire electrical outlets, figured out how to replace lights in my car and remove the yellowing of my headlights. I supported my son and granddaughter while eating chicken legs for a year, learned how to cut and color my hair, and shop at consignments stores for clothing. And now after three years of supporting myself living on a good income, yet paycheck to paycheck I have learned to put my needs first. It’s been an uphill battle leading to ‘freedom to’. Yes, its and attitude knowing you can trust yourself regardless of the roadblocks because mightiness is knowing your self worth and living it each and every day with peace.

    • Hahaha! Yes!

      I would also include — nope, not reminding you of your own children’s birthdays. (Argh!!)

      • This…

        -Buy your own damn birthday, holiday, hostess gifts and cards!

        -Remember your own child and grandchildren important life dates!

        -Remember your neighbors names!

        -Keep track of your own car keys, tools and stuff! No, I didn’t move them.

        -Plan, book and confirm lodging, air flights, reservations and activities. No, I won’t be reminding you again.

        Ahhh…I have more time for me and meh! Fuckwits!

  • I ranted about this yesterday but I am still mad so I will rant again. Apparently one of the mediators in our divorce seems to think it is my job to encourage the kids to have a relationship with Schmoopie. Huh? Why is that my job? He says I should do it for the sake of the kids. How does encouraging the kids to have a relationship with someone who has a known track record of putting her needs ahead of our kids benefit them? If she and STBX want the kids to have a relationship with her it is up to them to convince the kids that it is in their best interests. This counselor/mediator was suggesting that I say things like “oh, isn’t that nice” and “it’s nice that she makes him happy” if/when he makes plans to introduce her to them. I would rather throw up. I told the man (of course it was a man, the woman lawyer was trying to get him to stop getting off topic because that whole aside had nothing to do with the legal stuff) in no uncertain terms that I was not going to do that although I would agree not to discuss her with the kids at all and not go out of my way to discourage them from having a relationship with her if they so choose. That’s the best I can do and I am under no obligation legal or moral to take it any further than that. Ugh!

    • I’m thinking dude must be a cheater. Or his kids don’t like his current love interest.

      • Actually, I think it is just because this group has probably never mediated a case that involves infidelity before (they take a highly collaborative approach) and they are trying to make our case fit the non adulterous break-up box. Everything he said about paramours would have made perfect sense if we were getting divorced, waiting a bit to heal and then casually dating before then finding that special someone. This case is different and mediator guy just doesn’t get it.

        The other thing is that it is clear STBX doesn’t really want 50/50 placement, but the mediators are trying to shame him into it because in there experience (dealing with people who don’t have a current love interest in the mix), it is normal for both parents to want their share of time with the kids. I get the impression that they think that is coming from me and STBX is going along with it out of guilt. For now we are looking at a temporary agreement that gives me more placement with a future shift depending on conditions (such as a bigger apartment). My goal is to come up with “conditions” that would make it possible for him to bow out in a way that saves face. If he really does want that much time with his kids in the future I don’t want to deny him that as I see his desire to be a Dad as a positive thing, but I don’t want him to take on placement just because he doesn’t want to look like a jerk for not doing so. Yes, my trying to give him a graceful out is solving a potential problem for him, but in this case I am really doing it for the kids so they are only living with a parent who really wants them there.

        • Oh wow, that sounds pretty nerve-wracking and I’d most likely venting about that a lot too!!!

          It’s lost on me how mediators can expect a formula to fit every case even when this case does not fit their formula. That’s crazy and it seems kind of counter to the process…..

        • I’m in a similar place (not that absurdity from the mediator about encouraging a relationship with the person who purposefully helped break up their family, that’s ridiculous and at best naive). But in that he feels pressured to take on my custody than he really wants to play “Good Dad”. I wish I had your restraint to give him a graceful out, I think it’s an excellent plan. While it’s hard to choke it down, it really show you have the best interests of the kids in mind. Go you. I keep trying to bribe him to give me more custody time…I’m not sure it a great plan actually….

    • So with you chump in recovery! I think you should be praised for being civil in this situation. These fuckwit mediators/counselors have no empathy at all for what a cheater puts you through and that it is abuse. What they are saying is analogous to asking you to help and support your non-repentant molester.

      Early on I had one counselor tell me I needed to be nicer to my cheater. My response was :” I think I am being very my nice, he is still able to walk through the door. ”

      Screw the mediator, you are amazing chumpinrecovery!!!

      Hugs and take deep breaths. Your children are lucky to have you!

      • Feelingit: Our mediator put in her report that she felt I had “mixed” feelings… Really? Of course I did! He was my husband, father of my kids, I was still bumping into walls trying to figure out what the hell happened. Part of me wanted to run him over with a truck, the other part was devastated and heartbroken. They are idiots.

      • I was thinking this afternoon, these cheaters pretend their spouses don’t exisist when they cheat so why should we acknowledge the whore’s existence. Did the whore ever encourage the cheater to be nice to his wife and kids and not cheat on them?

      • I had the mediator tell me that it was good that Stbx had even turned up without any financial information as many men didn’t. For a few moments I considered thanking him then I snapped out of it. When he left I pointed out to the mediator I could have chosen not to turn up or bring the required information too. Her response was we will never understand Men.

    • Chumpinrecovery, hell no don’t “encourage” your kids to have a relationship with the skank. Maybe don’t badmouth her (difficult I know) but you don’t have to push them towards her. My kids are older but I was travelling to the airport with them this morning and I was telling them that my ex’ skank had rented a house across the field from me. I can’t actually see her house but it is only about 200 metres away. My son’s gf asked how I felt about that (she and ex split a few years ago but she was the one he ran off with). I just said “oh, I open the bedroom window and give her the middle-fingered salute”! They both just grinned. I make no pretense of being civil with that cow and they know it.

    • Chumpinrecovery, there is nothing healthy about lying to your children about your feelings. Sheesh. That mediator is an idiot.

    • Chumpinrecovery your job is to tell them to FUCK OFF! Tell them it is their choice and you will not be telling your kids to accept and eat a shit sandwich. It’s their opinion and that’s all it is. No laws say you have to do any such thing.

  • Another brilliant post that makes my heart ache because there was no CL to teach me this stuff back when I really needed it. I am so grateful you are here now, CL, for myself and for all of us. It’s a terrible thing to have to have in common, but a wonderful place to heal.

  • CL – how do you always post what I need to read? It’s like turning on the radio and hearing a song that speaks to my heart.

    JUST YESTERDAY… Mr. Sparkles sent me a text “As a courtesy, I wanted you to know that I will not be coming alone to our son’s play tomorrow night.”

    The last D-day was September 2014, the divorce was final December 2016. He’s already cycled through the OW and this is his newest victim (whom he’s been with less than a year). )She’s like Voldemort… “She who will not be named”… seriously, he’s never used her name in a text or conversation with me – see how these NPDs objectify people?!?)

    But, I digress…

    And I read it and it PISSED ME OFF. Why does he think I give a shit at this point? I’ve got GREY ROCK firmly in place. A shared calendar for our son’s appointments, etc. Yet, he just can’t miss an opportunity to throw in my face… “LOOK AT ME – I HAVE SOMEONE… YOU’RE STILL ALONE… GUESS I’M NOT THE FUCKED UP ONE.”

    Obviously, I’m not a meh – yet.

    So… I replied that no courtesy was required, we are divorced… although it might be embarrassing for our son, but I can’t control that fact. His reply – SILENCE.

    ARGH… newbies… this is why no contact is sooooo important. Not only is it NOT MY JOB to save this next woman from the pathological lying bisexual narcissist that is my XH. It is NOT MY JOB to respond to his communications if they don’t involve our son.

    He created the chaos, but I played in to it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a shower with a wire brush 🙂

    Rock on Chump Nation.

    • Real world, real time- I see such things in my future- thanks for good advice!

    • Thanks for this ICSTMC — I fully expect to start getting ‘courtesy’ messages like this from the Kunty Kibbler any day now.

      And that’s EXACTLY what it is: “Look at me! Look at me! Someone is paying the kind of attention to me that I need! YOU were never able to do that! You SUCK!”

      Pitiful. And we get to be anchored to them for as long as we’re on the earth.

      • Yeah my ex new schmoopie posts all kinds of pictures of them on Facebook and frankly he looks such a dork. Picture a J.C. Penney catalogue model looking beguilingly off into the distance. Oh they really look such a pair of prats it makes me laugh, so if being on my own means I don’t have to pose like a J.C. Penney catalogue model so be it (says she, gazing off beguilingly into the distance).

        • That’s what stbx’ WhatsApp photo reminded me of a 1950’s knitwear catalogue.

    • ICanSeeTheMehComing!

      I would not have replied a word in this case. Especially since his “courtesy” did piss you off. For me that’s the litmus test for replying to these provocations: if it pisses me off, no reply. I’d use cheater “courtesy” to prepare my face muscles for serene indifference during the inevitable meeting of Sparkles and his new “cycle” of OW (love that way of looking at the situation).

      But I do agree that the intention was indeed not to “miss an opportunity to throw in my face… “LOOK AT ME – I HAVE SOMEONE… YOU’RE STILL ALONE… GUESS I’M NOT THE FUCKED UP ONE.” In fact I’m expecting this cruelty from my STBXH (I’m 65), I hear echos of it from my sons.

      • Clearwaters, don’t worry at all about them throwing their togetherness in your face. They can’t imagine that anyone could be happy on their own. I love it so they can go take a long walk off a short pier. There is an expression in French (I live in France) “mieux vaut être seul que mal accompagné” – better to be on your own than in bad company.

    • Hang in there – take a nice warm bath with bubbles – ahhhhh. Save that wire brush for running it across his balls

  • Oh wow. I cant describe the weird power struggle that ensued over whether or not the NarcX was going to get the school’s updates from me or if he was going to actually subscribe to the school emails and send his email address to the teacher. He REALLY wanted to squabble with me about it and I really did have to muster some strength to consistently say, “yeah. Weird you didn’t see that. You should call the school. ” all while thinking “I’m not you assistant and I’m not your wife and I’m not going to get blamed for alienating your stoned, disinterested self because I didn’t keep on top of school spam.” My only point is that it is wonderful to see people honoring the small courage it takes step by step to be free. It was hard and I learnimg all the new calculations of my new life was real work.

  • I’m a slow learning Chump, it took me a while, but now I can easily say, “not my problem!”

    I think unicorns have a way of conditioning chumps into proving we are good people. “Oh, you think you are a good person? Let me move that goal post and tell you how you’ve failed… keep trying Chump!” So we do more, try harder, and question if we did enough. It took time for me to stop trying to prove I was a good person. I am a good person, regardless of what a disordered fuckwit says! It’s a pain in the butt, but every time there is a situation that results in a disagreement about what I should be doing, I document.

    Just recently douche made 2 errors within a 2 week period on a time trade, and couldn’t fulfill his parting time because he was out of town. To rectify his error he wanted to keep the kids 2 extra days after Easter (which was his holiday), and those to days fell between his next parenting time. He would have ended up having 5 days in a row. I said, “Sorry you didn’t know your travel schedule, I will be expecting the kids back here the day after Easter, as per the calendar.” (Thank god for Our Family Wizard). His response…

    “You didn’t have the calendar updated until last week for this month or beyond. I am working and trying to manage my time with them the best I can, so if they come back to you Monday, I will expect them A different day as a trade for last week than Monday.”

    Haha, good try!
    1) Nowhere is it written “I” am the one responsible for filling out the calendar. He seemed to do a fine job filling it out the month before when he was taking smoopsie-pie and all the kids on Spring Break.
    2) I am not responsible for knowing his travel schedule
    3) I am not responsible for his mistakes

    Notice the you’re to blame and feel bad for me tone? Nope, not to blame and nope, don’t feel bad!

    I think we all want to do what’s best for our children, and that’s why it’s so easy to get drawn into trying to manage their parenting time… no one wants their kids to get hurt! I had to get okay with my kids suffering the consequences of hurt feelings when their dad doesn’t show up. Yes, it sucks, but I would be doing them a disservice by always trying to prevent their feelings from being hurt when it’s something I can’t control.

    • And unless there are legal documents that say you have to make up for custody days he drops, you don’t need to do that either, unless it works for you and the kids want it.

  • It is not just your own attitude you have to work on to be able to enjoy your Freedom. It is also the attitude of those around you who have been socialized to believe that you are nothing if you are not part of a couple. Or, equally enjoyable, you are some type of a threat to them since you have “lost” your spouse — you may want theirs! I run into this all the time.

    I also have to deal with the expectations of potential suitors who think they want to “date” me. Their idea of “dating” is to take me to a meal once or twice, and by then I should be so enamored that I simply cannot wait to jump into bed with them and fulfill all their fantasies, and then I should clean their house, do their laundry, and cook their meals. Yes — you guessed it — I am very disappointing!!!
    They do not believe that I am really not interested in getting married, and I am quite content with controlling my own assets, and not transferring them into their control. Really, I can live quite nicely without a spouse around the house.

    I am not trying to sound egotistical — it is just the attitude that I must be so LONELY, and DESPERATE, and I must YEARN for the comforting sound of a spouse snoring peacefully while I cannot sleep and must stare at the ceiling. I could not get up and go into another room, because that may hurt his delicate feelings when he wakes up and I have escaped — oops, am not there.

    I think that you have to stop believing the entire mythology of what marriage is and how a “good girl” should behave, and why you should always “stand by your man.” You need to understand that not only is it alright to think for yourself — but that you are capable of having some really excellent ideas. You don’t need to be part of an “intact family unit” to raise children, and it is possible to obtain a reasonable life style without another person’s income — and bills — coming in. You adjust, and you will be fine. Believe it.
    It is actually the small things that make me happy now. I love coming home from work to a quiet and orderly house, where all toilets have been flushed and dishes were washed and put away, and there are no crumbs on the counter or empty milk cartons in the refrigerator. When I sit down at the computer, it is not already “up” at a porn site. When I get out of the shower, or wake up in the morning — I don’t have to be groped, or admire a wonderful urine induced erection. I don’t walk into silent but deadly fart zones by surprise. I don’t open surprise bills when I review the mail. I watch what I want to on TV — or read without recrimination. This is the stuff dreams are made of, people!!! This is Freedom at its best! You will be ecstatic, soon! Seriously.

    • Portia
      I always love your posts but this one was so spot on!! Yes to all of it. I’m enjoying being the way I want to be for a change and finding it liberating to no give out my very precious fucks to all and sundry. In fact I am hoarding my fucks. I don’t give a fuck about much at all these days. Me, boys, friends, CN. Everything else can do without me. It feels a bit giddy to realise you can please yourself and not anyone else if you don’t want to. Growing old disgracefully is to be highly recommended.
      I’m entering a phase of wearing just what I like, the brighter the better and it makes me happy. Just realising that so much personal satisfaction can flow from such simple self choices is well, giddy.
      It’s like stumbling into an alternative universe that was there all along. Now I never want to leave!

      • Maybe we should start a road show — we could be Disappointing and Disgraceful!!! We can dress up in purple and wear red hats! Out theme song could be “I never will marry, I’ll be no man’s wife, I choose to be single, for the rest of my life!” I think we will be fine, we have been thru the worst and appreciate the best.

    • Absolutely!!! All of those things I still relish after DDay (3 years).

      I come home from work and do…nothing. If I don’t want to clean the dishes in the sink, I don’t. I relax, I watch a movie, I post selfies (haha!) I don’t cook every night. I no longer have someone calling me at 8 AM asking me what’s for dinner. I don’t cook if I don’t feel like it (and most of the time I don’t). No one snoring next to me at night. I sleep so good. I painted the walls in my house with COLOR. I bought a house that is quirky rather than “shiny and new” and I love it for the quirks. My son is happy there. My heart is full.

    • Thank you for your comment! I remember you from when I first got on here and always got something out of your posts. This one is almost all the things I can be thankful for as well. Shocking since i’m a male chump and these things should be about me and not the X. She did the things on your list minus the male only items. Glad to know you have found peace. I get closer everyday and finally see meh in the distance.

      • I am always happy to have the insights of the male chumps, you all keep the hope alive for the female chumps that there are men of character out there. I know there are horrible women out there praying on good guys like you. It is sad that many men come to believe we are all gold diggers, with no morals. The social myths puts many terrible burdens on you all, too. We just have to prove to ourselves and others that we don’t have to be part of a couple to be someone who is worthwhile!

        • Portia, a thought of gratitude beautifully put into words. Lostntx and all the make chumps, I am also extra grateful for your posts here. I would guess many of us are here because we’ve had very poor opposite gender role models growing up, which led to selecting similarly poor mates, and that level of personal experience leads to very low expectations of the opposite gender in general. Thanks guys for giving me the evidence I need to raise my expectations. Now just need to change the thousand subconscious choices I make in this area. Baby steps. Until then, I’m with Freedom. Freedom and Gratitude for the good things in my life have left me with a heart near bursting with joy. (Well, most days…)

    • Portia,

      Can I hear an “Amen” to your post. Last man I dated asked me to swing by and pick up his laundry for him at the cleaners since he forgot to do this after work. I told him I’m not a “wife appliance” and not interested in becoming one. I had already suspected he is a narcissist ,albeit a very charming one, and the straws were starting to pile up on the camel’s back.

      • Would you mind peeling me another grape when you finish cleaning the kitchen and turning down the bed?? Don’t forget my chocolate mint on the freshly laundered pillow!!! Wife appliance, indeed!

        I wonder what his reaction would have been if you had asked him to do that? If reciprocity exists, these personal favors become just that. If you allow yourself to be treated like an unpaid servant, I am sure he would never remember to pick up his laundry, and many other errands would become part of your wifely “duties”. Oh Joy!

    • I love this post. Thank you. 🙂

      The universe better be ready for at least one more single lady who is not a spring chicken.

      I’m fresh out of the insanity, but very clear on one thing … I am in no shape for a relationship. Even if I get to that point (I anticipate years of work), my whole focus on life and my way of experiencing it is just different now and I expect it to continue changing.

      So, I will remain single for a very long time – possibly for life. This is not a rejection of something, rather, an acceptance of something — it’s an acceptance of ME (for the first time ever).

    • Truth Portia! Love your post. Also true for me. I relish my single life. No interest here in ever becoming part of a couple again in this lifetime. Moving into my vintage motorhome this week after spending the last couple of months re doing the interior in my colors, the colors I love. I am equal parts scared and exhilarated and 100% pumped to go out and explore this great big wonderful country of ours.

    • Finally, after DD#4 and him sobbing that it was his final mistake, I got my divorce. I was so angry, I arranged the divorce all by myself against his wishes and finalised it in 4 months. Never looked back.The boys stay with me mostly, I live in my house, paid off my car loan and the debt that was on my expense for having no prenup, I kicked ass and I thought I was at meh so well. I started volunteering for refugees, kept on working self-employed at 2 companies and started raising my sons on my terms. Felt wonderful.
      Can anyone explain why, a year after feeling exited and free, my adrenaline dropped and sadness kickes in? I am still raising my sons, and working which is necessary for I am the sole breadwinner, but it’s hard and I don’t enjoy it like I used to. I suddenly cry and feel sorry for myself which I hate. I love myself for how great I got rid of my Narc ex. I absolutely don’t miss him, I just feel sorry for myself and lack energy to do what I set out to do, continue helping refugees, building a business and not only raise my sons but be their force. My whole heart wants to thrive, I know I can, I did, it feels like a step back and that freaks me out!

      • Grace, you were indeed mighty. And, like you said the adrenaline dropped, and the sadness kicked in. You had to be strong and angry and mighty to get all that done in such a short period of time. But you (all of us) have to go through the sadness. The mourning of who we once were, who we thought they were, the dead marriage, all that has to be mourned. When the the rage leaves, the sadness takes its place. Don’t push it away or feel like it is some sort of failure. Its just part of the process, and on the other side you will feel this accelerated growth. It sucks, it feels like shit, but its the uncomfortable necessary step to MEH.

        You’re in good company here. All of us either are going to be where you are now or are there right now, or have been there. The narcs never go there because they don’t grow. They remain shallow as mud puddles, with the inherent emptiness that goes with that life. Whereas you, because you feel, will come back to your joy and hope. Trust me. Its waiting for you.

        • Thank you so much. I will hang in there and try to maintain my activities but not push the sadness away. Sometimes it feels like it’s taking too long and I am dissapointed because I did feel well, but I believe it will pass, needed that reminder.

          • Grace, feeling it too now that I got through the emergency coping first year on the farm. Things are in better order than ever before, I can work a bit less and relax but find I can’t relax and feel sad. I agree it must be normal, now that I am past the high stress period, to be exhausted and flat and it will get better. Need to find my new normal.

          • And I realise, crying about the dead narriage part was off limits. My ex is a covert Narc, he appeared to be my best friend, business partner, lover. I was on a pedestal. My world fell apart when I discovered years of lying and he kept explaining that he had a problem and needed my help. Upon discovery I cried in relieve that he felt sorry and believed he would not hurt me and the boys again, untill he screwed up again. And again. And I found CN (he hates it). I got it and left in anger. Mourning felt (and still somehow feels) like giving in again. Without his presence, I shoul be ok to cry now, but it still feels wrong and alarm bells ring and I feel like walking in the wrong direction.

            • Grace I think mine is a covert narc too. I thought I had finally found a ‘good guy’ 20 years ago. He wasn’t boisterous and flashy like some other losers who would circle around me. I spackled like crazy. He didn’t reciprocate but he did do things–just things he wanted to do. I always said he was just ‘high-maintenance’. That’s spackle for have to walk on egg shells and do what he wants to do. I made my needs so small, yet he would tell me I was never satisfied with anything. I would question myself….

              I was watching the movie ‘The Break-Up’ and the Bartender Scene really struck a nerve. This described my ex husband to a T. He’s the life of the party, every one loves him kind of great guy. What I knew was he didn’t do anyting he didn’t want to do. I told him once when I trying put my foot down and make him do something with me and kids that I really wanted to do “never mind, you’re only going to make the rest of us fucking miserable if you go”.

              Here’s a clip or google “the break up bartendar scene”:
              Only for mine, it’s not for failing to let anyone get close, it’s because he’s a selfish, entitled ass!

              My history with the ex:
              Strip clubs with a friend while I’m home with a toddler and a newborn (should’ve left then), porn (I finally figured out we couldn’t rent a family movie because our cable bill was high from this little habit), porn on the computer, then 2 separate Ddays with damsels in distress (aka step downs willing to tolerate his shit because he actually is a physician and makes a great living for the little amount of work he does -chump boss). The last one was our daughter’s 20 something assistant soccer coach. Talk about the shit sandwich for the kids and me. Shit where they live–how utterly embarassing for them! Hey, but he deserves ‘twu wuv’. He told our daughter ‘He didn’t mean to hurt anybody’. LOSER!!!!! And yes, I get the ‘boo hoo’ sob stories of how he didn’t know how it happened….

              • Wah Wah Wah.. Me Me Me… Yes indeed he is a LOSER.

                I thought of divorce this way – if STBX only wants to do what he wants, well fine! Let’s divorce and so we can both do what we want. He can be free to be a fuckup but not while I’m his wife.

                To me divorce is not necessarily evil as I’ve conditioned to feel. I now look at it as freedom for both of us.

        • That was a great comment Boundarygirl. Going through the sadness is a horrible but necessary part of recovery and journey to meh. I find I cycle between anger, sadness and mightiness but the anger and sadness are becoming less intense and frequent. We just have to believe we will get there.

      • I totally get that Grace. It’s just started happening to me after 18 months of feeling really positive and enjoying living on my own without him I feel like I’ve gone backwards emotionally some days. I’m telling myself it’s part of a process and trying to keep myself busy until it passes. Would be interesting to hear if this happens to a lot of people as part of the journey to meh?

        • I am sorry to hear about your sadness but it is kind of relieving that it’s not only me, I have to admit. Would be indeed very interesting to hear about feeling like meh and than slipping into sadness. Maybe there also is the ‘meh from’ and the ‘meh to’?

          • For me I think the rebound sadness is settling from the horribleness of it all. Once you rethink it over and over, you start coming to terms with it. You maybe even become numb to it. You look at that fucker and feel sorry for him. Then feel sorry for yourself. Then think what a waist this all was for our family and future. I don’t know. He’s been trying to burn up my text again ‘about the kids’. I’ve replied a couple of times but know this is a mistake. I’ve had a couple of dreams where I’ve reunited with him and felt trapped. I’m frantically trying to get him out of my life again, but he won’t go. I guess this is more like a nightmare.

            I think the post of no longer “running from” and reshifting your focus of “running to” is going to be helpful for me. I have the kids most of the time. I’ve really tried to keep our home life as normal as possible and be there for them. They are both in high school and will be gone in just a few short years. I’m still trying to be ‘mom’ first and foremost for them. Then there will be ‘meh’.

    • Portia, this is so true and so funny. No more farts and burps at the dinner table, bath tub covered in hairs, greasy cutlery left on the bench, undies on the laundry floor, endless war history shows on TV, cleaning his ears with the fork handle at the dinner table…and the constant round of cooking to satisfy the bottomless gut. I only need to clean the house once a week now. Definitely something to remember when “coupledom envy” strikes.

  • I was SO used to doing things based on his preferences…everything…and he was fussy and particular and I had gotten him used to me accommodating him in attempt to “keep him happy” which was ALWAYS a huge failure since he was NEVER happy.

    I have seriously realized that he really didnt ever want to me married, but I was the best personal assistant that anyone ever had, he was never going to give up that luxury, ever. And he was such a cranky, demanding person…he griped about everything no matter how well I did, so I just kept trying and did better and better and it perpetuated the whole fucking mess.

    Right after he died, I did a few things that would have made him so mad…even my daughter said he wouldnt like it that I accepted money from hims friends (they insisted, I didnt have the energy to argue). I told daughter that I spent 26+ years trying to make him happy and that was done.

    Not my job? Being nice to his fuckwad sister who has nasty to me for 30 years, I told her stupid ass off publicly on FB. Interacting with his stupid friends, I tried at first then realized how glad I was that they all disappeared. Allowing him to make stupid financial decisions that always kept us behind – I paid off everything after he died and Im pretty selfish with it, its MINE and I dont feel guilty. I responsibly helped my kids with the knowledge that if I got them used to constant infusions of cash, they would not grow up.

    Interesting that fuckwad sisterinlaw has had some serious financial challenges (mostly due to being a cheater run away spouse) not that I would have ever rescued anyone from those consequences, but she chose to be shitty and alienate the one family member who would later be the only person with the cash to help her if I wanted to (I don’t, of course).

    I love doing stuff in my house not having to get his approval…in fact I like to do stuff knowing he would hate it.

  • HUH? Is there even a question in there? Well, on the off chance there was, here goes:

    Dear Person,
    It appears you have been newly minted in “It’s my life. No, really. IT IS. I am da groan-up and I gets to have pizza and ice cream for breakfast if I want with my beverage of choice. I make da decisions: Chocolate or Neopolitan, Stuffed Crust or Thin, Grande, Mucho Grande or I Guess I’ll Just Swim In It because it’s cheaper than renting a crane to do the heavy lifting-that’s the only way any of it will ever make it near the vicinity of my mouth.”
    And who wants a scalded crotch as a reminder-as if you needed one-of the “hunka hunka burning luv/” STD you contracted from your wayward spouse?

    It appears you are suffering from a TLI-a Traumatic Life Injury. It’s not fatal but it does need to be addressed with a comprehensive program of Fukittall. You no longer have to (fill in the blank) least the co-creator of said minor will (implode, explode, become even more psychotic, disappear in a cloud of alcohol/meth/crack fumes etc.) When it takes more time, requires more planning than the D Day Invasion and cost a helluva lot more to get out of the marriage than it took to get to the Wedding (forget the marriage,) the resulting primary symptom of Divorce Shock-n-Bawl is a marked inability to shift it into Drive-and Reverse isn’t an option. Apparently your ex done burned out the mental clutch.

    So try something a little less ahhhh, ambitious than attacking such a complex issue head-on. Let’s try a lateral move first: Yes or No, OK? You have a child, Y or N? Child is about to graduate from 5th Grade, Y or N? Now for Extra Credit: Co-Creator is so batshit even a judge, those people not known for the depth of their psychiatric knowledge (but does take a few meds-or should) has decided the minor gets to visit with the Major for “therapeutic visitation” Y or N? How ya doin so far? If you have three consecutive “Ys” the only correct answer is “OHHELLNO!”

    If the worst crime you’re accused of by a certifiable crazy person-oh yes they are if “Therapeutic” is in the same sentence as “Visitation”-is Parental Alienation, you need to remember these people actually *see* and *hear* aliens. In their heads. That scream nasty and very paranoid things about everyone including the judge, the shrink, the Alpha Centuri Beings-you get the idea, right? Why should you be exempt from the crew of aliens?
    So go forth and dive right into the Sane Lane. Because that poor kid is apparently some kind of Therapy Intervention I’ve never heard of but hey, anything is possible. It seems to me “Therapeutic Visitation” should involve something on four legs-like a dog. I’ve managed to get my nose broken, assaulted by a very determined flock of “guard geese” and had a near-miss Lobotomy-By-.22 and that’s just a typical Mon. so in my rather caffeinated judgement you’re doing good, just a little indecisive. Your kid needs a Role Model (oh boy do they ever) who doesn’t have a drawer full of psychotropic meds and a head full of non-existent “Life Coaches” arguing and screaming at them and one another. By default, you’re it. Out of consideration for the other’s fragile mental state, there are some things one just does not mention least the Alpha Centuri People decide to boogie on down to the school via multiple car jackings and proceed to play “Dancing With The Cops” while a pre-recorded version of “Pomp and Circumstance” gets drowned out by screaming sirens, SWAT-ers rockin’ a distinct resemblance to the Alpha Centuri Beings, (“Hey TW! SEE! Told ya!”) kids, adults, howling dogs etc. and a buncha flashing lights, OK?

    From now on, your default to any question involving the Batshit Barnacle you endeavored mightly-and succeeded-to dislodge is “OHHELLNO.” That *is* a complete declarative sentence. Once you manage to scrape it off, seal it with a TRO: Temporarily Restricted Outing. And that’s just until it morphs into “Permanent.”

    Now, what kind a pizza ya want? Ice cream? Adult beverage? My treat-TGIF! (Clink!)

    • Love it, Tundra Woman!!! (everyone repeat after you, “OHHELLNO!!!”) ?

    • Hahahahaha, love it Tundra Woman!! Let me know when I can sign up for your Fuckitall program!!

  • FREEDOM is very important to me. I rarely post in the blog but I read it daily.

    I was with my ex for half of my life. After my divorce was finalized I had the word FREEDOM tattooed on left forearm. I am in my 40’s I had never gotten a tattoo before but it was important for me to mark my new life. People have asked me about the tattoo, I think it because of the movie Braveheart but I just tell them it my reminder for my new life. This year I got another tattoo on my right forearm – Faith. The markings on my skin show that I will be forever changed but that I have a choice.
    It was through time and walking through the pain that I learned I have the Freedom to and not just Freedom from. I used be a chumpy chump the years of lies and betrayal took a toll on me but I took a step forward each day and learned how to unpack the old crap and build new Freedom path. My life is not how envisioned it 20 years, the journey to divorce my cheating ex-husband is much like the 13 Reason Why (only I did not end my life) I chose the other path, to walk through the pain and to keep moving. Sometimes I doubled back, sometimes I slipped and fell, but I have always kept moving. Now I know the movement I was making on journey was a path to Freedom to. It is funny, my ex and I have two sons ages 18 and 19, I got a tattoo with each one of them when they turned 18. The ex was upset when he saw our oldest son’s tattoo when our son had a tank top on at a track event- the ex sent me a text “Did you know _ _ _ got a tattoo?!” I did not reply but when I saw the ex later that day when picking up my son from a school event I made eye contact him and pointed to my tattoo on my forearm and walked away with our son. I do my very best to be no contact with the ex, most of the time I am ‘meh’ and fully embrace the Freedom to path. Occasionally, I have a setback but the setbacks are very few and far between now. I recently received a Joel Osteen quote from my Ex that coming from the lying paltering cheating piece of crap just irked me. I replied — both barrels firing. My ex is the typical cheater with the mindfuck stuff perfected. I knew I should not respond but I did. I know deep down I was screaming at myself – don’t do it, what good does it do for me to get upset by his fake high and mighty crap. Any way, I am back on my path of Freedom to… I have a very man in my life now, he lived through a horrible divorce with cheater that was honestly was and is even worse than my ex. So, we both continue to move forward on our Freedom Trail. We are FREE – Forging our path and trying a best to keep our children safe and sane despite having a disordered parent. I am back on my remission path…FREEDOM To and making a new life.

    • I, too, went and got a new tattoo after my divorce. For several years, I had been wanting an anklet with a charm, I just didn’t want a generic charm (heart, star, whatever). I found a Celtic symbol that I though was absolutely beautiful & when I researched it’s meaning, it stood for “new beginnings”. I knew I had found my anklet charm! I get more compliments on this tattoo & when asked about the charm, I love to tell the story behind it.

    • Me three with the post divorce tattoo. 🙂 I have a crown tattoo to remind myself every day that I am the queen of my own life.

    • Me four with the post divorce tattoo. I have a Phoenix rising from a heart over my heart (left pectoral). It reminds me every morning that I will survive anything and will always rise from the ashes.

    • I’m also in the divorce tattoo club. My one and only tatt at age 46. Felt good to make a decision, take control of something, and pass through the pain to something beautiful. I got “13” on my arm, a supposedly unlucky number that has always been weirdly lucky for me. To remind me that what appears to be bad luck often turns out to be good luck. As my divorce turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me to that point in my life.

      When I ultimately remarried to a fellow Chump? It was on the 13th of course, which we controlled. What I couldn’t control was that our wedding license was recorded in the 13th page of the huge records book at our county courthouse.

      If I had to sum up my advice to any Chump in a word, it would be, “thirteen.”

      • Wonderful story — thanks for sharing! I love hearing the meaning behind people’s tattoos.

    • Aimsbeck, I too got a tattoo, actually a few of them and well, you know its kind of addicting. My first is a simple RO Vlll:XXVlll, Romans 8:28 meaning ‘and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called to His purpose.’

      I have receive some great help from the forums here and actually am at the point where it’s time for me to move on. I just can’t stay still any longer. My STBXW is typical cheater and narc, but the pendulum has swung back and she is being carried along towards divorce. Ive simply, thru Gods grace, forgiven her and moved on.

      Freedom is strange to us who don’t know any better. I like it.

  • For me, since cheater is dead, not my problem anymore has been with his family. I don’t need to speak to his rude brother simply because he “needs” my help. Google an answer like I would. I no longer need to untangle his skein as he would still try to call me after divorce/pre-death where he would try to get me to help him with appointments or problems. Now that he’s dead a lot of the battles are in my head about what transpired during our marriage. It’s no longer my problem to psychoanalysize why he did what he did. It no longer matters. I am finally building the life I want. Looking forward not back. Nothing he does or did is any longer my problem, at all.

    The best parts are:
    Not walking on eggshells in my own house. I can wash a dish or hang a picture without being told I did it wrong.
    I can be pleasant and engaged with other people because I no longer worry he will fly into a rage over nothing and embarass me.
    Spend money on things I love, or spend no money at all because I want to save.
    Go to sleep in a peaceful house and wake up in a peaceful house.
    Not live with a perpetual pit in my stomach over what he is doing the minute he is out of my site. I now can truly relax.

    I am not quite at “happy” yet but I’ve fully gotten to “content” and it’s a beautiful place to live. Next stop the happiness of meh!

  • Chump lady, you are so right. When you get to the place where you no longer do something and wonder what the ex would think, or wonder how the new couple are getting on, the healing begins. Then you start moving into the direction you were always meant to go, if you hadn’t been waylaid by a controlling idiot.

    My divorce was a decade ago, but I had a real problems getting over the discard. This healing was complicated by ex stalking me, wooing me, etc, AP’s phone calls and hangups, the ex’s family contacting me and blaming me for alienation because DS and ex had issues. The divorce took 2 and a half years, for no other reason than ex’s procrastination and passive aggressive mission for me to give buckets of money to my lawyer. Which I did. After the divorce, I moved two states away and went NC.

    When I found Chump Lady my healing really began. I finally got IT! I still come here for the occasional reality check but its not the lifeline it once was.

    But to the issue at hand. When I finally GOT IT, I had a sudden rush of confidence. I am a painter and taught painting and drawing when I was married. My ex would look at my work and say, “It’s okay, but its not to my taste,” as if he was effing Gertrude Stein. It hurt, and it kept me in teaching, which was the point. But after the divorce, the constant demanding of access to me drove me way, and I moved and got a job part time in a gallery and starting painting in earnest.

    My work took off! I no longer work in a gallery. I’ve bought a house with a detached studio in the country. Last week I was contacted by a collector who wanted to represent me on his website. I’ve been in galleries, restaurants, and group shows and have a solo show in England coming this September. But I’m sure my work is not to my ex’s taste. Which is the best recommendation I could ever get.

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is you. Go find her/him!

    • This is so inspiring BoundaryGirl <3 Thanks for sharing. I am a creative myself and haven't done any personal projects for a long while since I was concentrating on the stability of my family. Whenever I show my work to STBX all I got were vague and vapid evaluations and how he thinks it would look better if I change this or that — never any sincere compliments. Frankly I got used to it and eventually found that I was showing him my work less and less. After dealing with this shit I'm looking forward to getting back to my creative projects and hopefully becoming successful at it like you!

  • Perfect topic for me this week. STBX’s phone died and he got a new one. He is having trouble “getting his email set up and remembering his Goggle password.” I share kids’ calendars with him through Google. I put everything on there. He wanted me to send him details of the kids’ events with locations and addresses, etc.

    I told him to log into his Google account and he would have everything. He then wanted my help to get his phone fixed. My response was “Use a computer to access it. I am no longer your personal tech-support.” Felt good.

  • Thank you for the Fromm book recommendation. I will order it after writing this post! I can relate to not feeling free after being married for 25 years to a controlling, sex-addicted cheater. After filing for divorce, I don’t think I felt single for about three years!

    One of my “ah-ha” moments in recovering from this disaster of a story was when I read Victor Frankyl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. He wrote about being interned in concentration camps, including Auschwitz. In reading his stories about trying to maintain his dignity and reason for living in spite of being treated sub-human, I found myself relating to his thoughts and feelings. In that moment, I clearly realized how horrific the experience of sexual betrayal could be! I related more to a man who had experienced the Holocaust than any of the authors who wrote about reconciliation. I think Fromm’s book will be a good addition in terms of embracing freedom!

    There is hope in freedom for all of us. It’s just a slow, tedious road to embracing it!

    • Absolutely. It sure takes some practice though, doesn’t it? Freedom never feels as good to those who’ve never had the experience of being shackled as it does to those who have-and then finally, released:There is an almost spiritual as well as practical component to unhooking oneself from the devil, from evil-and it takes some gettin’ use to. (But eventually it is such a relief.)

      There’s a part of me that thinks there’s almost a “Waiting For Permission” to walk away *and be OK with it and YOURSELF as well*: Am I really “allowed” to do that? Or worse yet, know they’re a horrible human being? (Or something a whole lot more “descriptive” than that?) Sure. The PC Police will fall all over themselves with the finger shaking and “high road” stuff because you call it as it is-even in the privacy of your own head or in confidential conversations (and not with your kids, obviously. They’re not responsible for our adult choices, blunders etc.)

      When your whole world, your self-concept and self-confidence has been so destroyed, you’re dealing de facto with a death. IMO one-if not the hardest-of human endeavors is being present, bearing witness to someone else’s profound pain. We all have times in our lives when we need to be heard: Not placated, not “fixed,” (even if it were possible) but knowing deeply we’re being heard and felt, that our human experience matters. That we matter. And someone “gets it.” Even when you’re in such deep grief you can’t even acknowledge their presence beyond the bare bones minimum, they hang in there with you for no other reason than they care about you-even when you couldn’t care for yourself or see any end to your darkest periods.

      If you enjoyed Frankyl’s work, I think the part you’re referring to is exceperted from Bruno Battleheim’s work, “The Informed Heart” section, “Coercion Under Extreme Circumstances.” You might like to read Bettelheim’s observations in their entirety. He was a Child Psychiatrist and once interned, he did exactly what he had done prior to this period: Observe human behavior. The confrontation with one’s own death and the helplessness in the face of such overwhelming inhumanity is potentially at once life destroying and life transforming. If it’s the work I’m thinking you’re referring to, it really slapped me upside the head as well: “The greatest human freedom is the ability to choose one’s attitude in any situation…No matter overtly dehumanizing, one can choose when and where to take a shit” (para.)
      Whoa. Kinda puts it all in perspective.

  • My comment is twofold. After the divorce I moved across country with my two young children to go to grad school. My husband didn’t want any custody except summer visits. In exchange I gave him literally every single thing we owned but the girls beds and our clothes. Fast forward a year and he is in foreclosure on the house (he made plenty but was just too lazy or irresponsible to pay and apparently also too lazy to call a realtor and put it on the market), has sold most everything he owned and the child support office has finally found him (he liked to move around and work for cash). He began calling me regularly and screaming at me about his problems. I had physically removed myself but had not decolonized my mind. I didn’t even realize this until one day another single grad school mom from the apartment below was there when he called. She was a first generation New York Puerto Rican named Diamante. She watched this unfold for a minute and then grabbed the phone and said the words that finally liberated my mind, “You are not a man. You are not fit to wipe Jojobee’s ass. Shut your mouth she doesn’t have to listen to you anymore. And you can tell that tattooed whore yelling in the background to shut her mouth too.” Then she hung up on him in mid sputtering scream. I realized she was right. I DIDN’T have to listen to him blame me. So simple really, but prior to this, even though I gave him everything, took on all the responsibility, and was working and going to school full time with no help (I hadn’t had any child support at this time), I had still felt like it was my job to absorb and try to mollify his anger. Nope. Not my job–and I never did it again.

    The second tale is for the male chumps out there, because I think they often get sucked into this kind of financial and physical care taking post divorce. My current husband was chumped as well, but if possible had an even worse divorce deal than I did (she got the house which he continued to pay the mortgage on, alimony, child support (despite 50/50 placment; he took all the marital debt including her student loans and huge debts she ran up while “separated.”). When we first started dating his ex regularly called and demanded extra money for everything from calling a plumber, to wanting a bird feeder for the yard. By the time we were engaged I found out how bad it was. He was still paying a neighbor kid to go mow her lawn! I confronted him on this and he said “It’s just easier.” Besides, who is going to do this stuff for her?” I looked at him and said “Who does it for me? Who mows the lawn at my house and calls and pays a plumber at my house? You are NOT her husband. You are not obligated to take care of her forever. She cheated on you. She divorced you. She didn’t want you. So, she no longer GETS you.” And the light came on. The next time she texted demanding something he told her that very thing. She raged for awhile, but soon found it was futile when she was met with silence. NOT HIS JOB.

    • Exactly Jojobee. That was the hardest thing for me too, decolonizing my mind (love that phrase!).

      • Yes. they really do set up shop in your head. They’re like some creepy guy that you don’t even know you have living in your attic.

    • If CL needs a break some day, this would make a great main post. Two good stories. I hope your husband has continued to unchump himself.

      • LaJ, he has. but it was a difficult road. Even after HE got it, I couldn’t believe the number of people who tried to make him return to his Chumpy ways by saying things like “You should help her. She’ll always be the mother of your children…” And I couldn’t believe the number of people who chastised ME saying things like,”You need to understand that he’ll always take care of her. She was there first; you have to deal with being second.” Uuum actually, no I don’t. But more than for me, I do not have to silently sit by and watch a hateful human being continue to emotionally and financially abuse my sweet husband. No, I don’t.

        • YEESS!! THANK YOU!!
          Giving birth doesn’t make a mother any more than having a wedding makes a marriage. Sadly when we carte blanch reify the title “Mother,” we denigrate all the one’s who truly ARE, in fact everything that title implies.
          The label is not the person.

        • Jojobee, you are mighty. The thought that your husband owes his ex servitude because they share children is ridiculous (but sounds so compassionate and “correct” by well meaning advisors). Ugh, infuriating. Caring well for the children does not mean kowtowing to the entitled.

  • The entire planet is in this freedom from/ freedom to dilemma.

    We all want freedom from the evil overlords that rule the planet, but so many don’t know what to replace that with.

    Getting the gift of getting rid of a cheating spouse gives us the opportunity to experience “freedom to”.

    Given that there’s probably 2 billion chumps and ex-chumps in the world, we may just reach critical mass and improve the world!

    • Yes rickb89, the culture of narcissism is one of the things that stymie Chump healing. N’s are seen as somehow better and therefore can do no wrong. I like the idea of critical mass, but hate to think so many would have to go through what we have endured to get there.

  • Thank you for this post Tracy, I love the distinction between freedom from and freedom to. When I got freedom from my cheater, I was a hot mess, drinking every night and sobbing about my miscarriage and the shock of finding out Principal Sparkles, wasn’t. I immediately found an arguably more disordered person to date before I got my shit together and thought soberly to myself…I need to get a life! One day I just rolled up my shirtsleeves and asked myself what I wanted…what did I really want to do? I decided I wanted to travel, so I went to a yoga retreat, to a baking workshop, to a spa to relax, and on the road I found myself again. I discovered that I loved to bake, to rock climb, to travel solo, to photograph my adventures. I discovered my preferences and hobbies and interests I didn’t even know were there. I devoted myself to physical fitness and trying new things. That’s where I found happiness. Liberation wasn’t enough in itself. You have to dig to find that which brings you joy 🙂

  • Freedom from:
    -foolish debts, including a consigned loan on MY paycheck, made not only without consulting me, but having the gall to deny it was him (I had already been to the bank and my HR department when I confronted him. These people really are crazy)
    -frustrating empty promises that we will have a small farm to help middle son (cheater is [was?] an agronomist, but prefers to sit at his think-tank job)
    -daily devaluation-invalidation
    -constantly supporting cheater’s family’s constant financial problems without any kind of reciprocity
    -and, of course, Lord Sparkledick’s cheating

    freedom to
    -manage my life with common sense and elementary arithmetic
    -buy my farm and help son
    -drive my sturdy, trustworthy 120K Km car without being pestered to get a new one
    -demand/expect respect

    • “Lord Sparkledick”…I’m sorry but I just literally LOL’d at this name.

      • Me, too! Is there a fund for replacing laptops that have been sprayed with iced tea on this blog????

  • When I was going through the divorce my ex asked me to do something (I don’t remember what) and when I mentioned it to my attorney she said “you don’t wife for him anymore.” I loved that! Wife” as a verb. That became my watch word. He wants me to do X, Y o Z. I ask myself “does that look like wifing?” If the answer is yes then my answer is no. A good portion of my wifing duties involved mediating between him and our kids and I quit that shit too. Which probably explains why neither of my (adult) kids have any relationship with their father. When I stopped propping him up, there was nothing but an Edgar Suit trying to pretend to be a human father.

    • Beth
      Love this. Hmmm is this wifing? I’m am so going to be using this. ❤️

      I’m thinking that for him I could use ‘fuckwitting’
      Does this look like fuckwitting? Why yes it does!

    • Beth, I too stopped proppng my ex up in his parenting, stopped spackling for him w/the kids, and just stood back, ready to pick up the pieces.

      Now, of course, his lack of relationship w/the kids is all my fault. Apparently he’s a 100% changed person, and if I weren’t alienating them, they’d see that. Uh huh.

      • Oh yeah Karen, the classic blame game. Ex and evil ex-MIL tell anyone who will listen that I alienated our adult children from their wonderful father and the lack of a relationship is all my fault. Okay… Let’s just ignore the fact that the kids were adults at the time, have their own cell phones, email addresses, mailing addresses, etc. all of which ex has in his possession. If he had put half as much effort into having a relationship with his kids as he did maintaining his “spread sheet” of porn star stats, there wouldn’t be a problem but yeah, it was all my fault. Whatever. I’m too busy maintaining my own happy relationship with my kids to worry about his. #winning 😉

    • One of my issues of anger at myself is how much I “wifed” for him even after he made it painfully clear that he would NOT be husbanding for me in any form. I wish I had had the strength to say no.

      • Well just let that shit go. We all, I’m sure, have regrets that we did more than we should have for far longer than we should have. Live and learn. What’s important is that you’ve moved on now in a healthy direction. Hugs to you.

        • “live and learn. What’s important is that you’ve moved on now in a healthy direction”
          wisdom thank you its just what I need to remember

    • This is where I am right now. Ex, who left 5 months ago and married OW today,has pretty much destroyed his relationship with our elder daughter (was actually a lot more tenuous from her point of view before he left than I had realised, anyway).

      I have tried to fix/mediate throughout this time at various points – however, not only has it been pointless in producing any sustained meaningful change of his behaviour towards the children but it has provided him with further opportunities to punish me.

      He has used my concern for my children not to be harmed to manipulate me into doing this and this has been particularly so over the last couple of weeks due to circumstances. I guess also, old habits die hard. However, earlier this week I finally made a decision not to do this anymore. Firstly, it makes me complicit in his mistreatment and effects their trust in me as a result. Secondly, I have finally accepted I can’t protect them from him – at least not in the long term. Thirdly, by protecting him I am making it even less likely that he will behave decently as he is being protected from the consequences of his actions too. Fourthly, it requires increased interaction with him which is never good for me. And finally, I just don’t have to do it anymore – this is the hardest part for me to live, as I’m so used to doing it.

      He sent me an email very recently asking to talk about how “we” go about facilitating the relationship of OW with my daughter (this was a night we were waiting on important medical results for her too – my focus of concern!). “We” won’t be doing this at all. No, I won’t be obstructing it – but I didn’t create the problem and I’m not going to be helping him solve it (to be honest, it is hard to see how this is possible, particularly with his inability to prioritise the needs of his children above his own for more than 30 seconds). Really Not.My.Problem. (And probably pretty pointless as well). But also – really not my problem. It has taken me a long while to get here and I know it will be tough sitting on my hands but I know that is what I need to do. Such a great CL post and so many wonderful replies. Very inspirational

      • Great points, Out. It’s hard to drop the habit of mediating initially but it gets easier with time. Your point that trying to facilitate the relationship between him and your kids can ultimately hurt your relationship with the kids is very true. Like you, I didn’t realize how deep the rifts between my daughter and her dad went and how much my attempts to mediate hurt my relationship with her. It took a while for her to trust me again but we are back on course now and I will never jeopardize our relationship on his behalf again.

  • During the early years of separation, I found it so hard to not “dwell” on the hurt, injustice of what had happened to end what I had thought was a good marriage (all in my head, it seems). But once on my own, I took on activities that were meaningful to me. For a very long time, I only went through the motions of doing these activities (volunteering feeding the homeless, teaching Tai Chi, leading book studies). Inside I was still crying. Then, a change started to happen inside of me. I began to focus on the activities themselves – to live just in that moment- and to stop the ruminating about what had happened. My negative thoughts went from almost continuous, to once or twice a day, to now maybe once a week, if even that. These outside activities helped heal me by becoming valuable in their own right. I now get up every day looking forward to what I am going to be doing. I have made lots of new friends and find myself smiling a lot and laughing more than I ever did during 33 years of marriage. This process has taken time (6 years on my own now), but I feel glad now that I have had this experience. Can’t believe I’m actually saying this – but I am a different person now.

    • Your story resonates with me. I just wrote on this topic (and got a wonderful reply). I am doing new things, but feel to sad to really enjoy them (I even stopped my volunteering), your story tells me to hang on to the new things and focus on the activity itself until my sadness passes.

    • Finally free heart, just copied your post for future reference. It sure sounds like what I need to do and reminds me that it won’t be instant nor easy to get to where I want to be. Reminds me of a program to train for a 5k- you can’t think about the finish, it is day to day effort and only looking back do you see your progress.

  • I just came across this: The most simple and accurate definition of the meaning of maintaining a relationship?
    “A good relationship must make the lives of both parties easier.”

  • Staying attached to the disordered, lying, cheating, mother fucker is like tying a dead horse to your back. You do all the work and the horse doesn’t care.

    If all you know is a dead horse on your back, you will miss it when it is gone. But, it is not your job anymore.

    Yet, don’t fear the path you were on with the dead horse as it is still the same path, only your burden much lighter and the adventures await.

  • This applies to ending a marriage to a substance abuser, being discarded by a narcissistic Jackass, and changing my chumpy ways in general:

    Freedom from:
    –the loneliness of living with someone who was never sober and avoided my family
    –carrying the financial burden for two on the salary of one, while the other salary went..well, who knows?
    –not being an equal partner in terms of decision making
    –having no social life
    –being the target of rage and verbal abuse
    –pushing my own preferences, hope, and dreams aside to “take care” of others
    –living with people who produce chaos and won’t keep a home clean and orderly

    Freedom to:
    –spend time alone and with people I love
    –using my money for my own benefit
    –set my own priorities for spending time and money
    –choose to spend time alone and with others based on my needs; more friends; a richer life in general
    –live in a peaceful, serene home
    –follow my own dream, even at age 65
    –live in a home that is simple, beautiful, restorative–and clean and orderly

    But the biggest thing is embracing my own worth and taking responsibility for my own growth instead of doing 100% of the work trying to have a relationship with someone who simply can’t do his share. Freedom to be a whole person.

  • This applies to ending a marriage to a substance abuser, being discarded by a narcissistic Jackass, and changing my chumpy ways in general:

    Freedom from:
    –the loneliness of living with someone who was never sober and avoided my family
    –carrying the financial burden for two on the salary of one, while the other salary went..well, who knows?
    –not being an equal partner in terms of decision making
    –having no social life
    –being the target of rage and verbal abuse
    –pushing my own preferences, hope, and dreams aside to “take care” of others
    –living with people who produce chaos and won’t keep a home clean and orderly

    Freedom to:
    –spend time alone and with people I love
    –using my money for my own benefit
    –set my own priorities for spending time and money
    –choose to spend time alone and with others based on my needs; more friends; a richer life in general
    –live in a peaceful, serene home
    –follow my own dream, even at age 65
    –live in a home that is simple, beautiful, restorative–and clean and orderly

    But the biggest thing is embracing my own worth and taking responsibility for my own growth instead of doing 100% of the work trying to have a relationship with someone who simply can’t do his share. Freedom to be a whole person.
    Freedom to figure out who I am and who I want to be.
    Freedom to feel whatever I feel.

  • Ah you inspiring people thank you for sharing your stories of how to survive then thrive on the way to meh. It reminds me of the progress from the gut twisting DD physical distress to being calmer, focusing on day to day necessities, following CN. The collectively mighty reminders guide and encourage as I navigate further abuse from the ex!s snarky lawyer letters and financial unfairnesses. there are quiet moments of peace to appreciate and agency, and success and think yes I fixed/sorted that. (ex is controlling and belittling so my aim is for NC and to disengage emotionally and focus on supporting my young adult- teens)
    thank you for the distinction it’s good to be rid of the ex’s presence but even better to go forward growing in confidence choosing deciding coping and knowing I’m heading towards meh.

  • Such a timely post for me today, ChumpLady, thank you!!!

    “Freedom” by George Michael is probably one of my favorite songs ever…as I hum that tune, I am going to list all the things I’m free of and have been for the last 2 years. First, I want to say how much I appreciate the Mighty ChumpNation and ChumpLady for guiding me and helping me get to Meh…
    Also, I must recall how much I was the “fixer” for exh2. I really don’t feel like going into the grand details of my chumpiness with the Evil One. Suffice to say that I spackled, covered, and explained-away his behaviors. No more of that, thank you very much.
    I am henceforth and forever free of the following:
    Cleaning up after him, making sure his laundry was done expecting a long his demands, cooking, giving him sex whenever he requested it but its snowing I would could never get the same courtesy, free from his lies, his cheating, and him stealing our money out of our joint account for his horse leaving us without even grocery or gas money each week…

    Also, what is no longer my job is worrying about the consequences of his misdeeds. Right now I am dealing with his rage and fury about his failure to pay child support, and no— I did not respond nor do I ever, except to coordinate pickup/dropoff times for his visitation weekends.
    Another example of “not my job” now (glory hallelujah!!!) is my DDs baseball schedule. I gave him a copy, and have yet to contact him to ask him if he’s coming to the game, practice, etc. NOT MY JOB.
    Since the day he left, he expected me to keep him abreast of DD behavior and progress at her school. Again, not my job. He knows where her school is located, over the last 2 years he has gone up there maybe 3 or 4 times acting a fool demanding that he get deli reports sent to him for his knowledge and information. The school has always agreed to comply with his request, only two make and inch pile I love reports that was never picked up. Again, not my job.

  • Ok I’ll blow my own horn! It’s been 18 months and while I have to wait until the court grands its way through piles of backlog for 4-5 more months, i am at meh. I truly trust that he sucks amd am no contact finally… I just sold the matrimonial home which went into my name in January( the fuckwit thought he could keep it with a mortgage but no paying job–go figure!). My business is back on track. Kids doing well although grown daughter still sparkles her dads behavior–cool, bummer, wow. Son is pretty much no contact unless he wants his car fixed. I bought a house–all mine and untainted by Wackjob’s stink. I’ll have renovations to do but it will be to my taste and design. I have a new man in my life but would be fine without him too. We’ll see where that goes…I have the love of my kids my family and friends. Life is good!! Hugs to all my fellow chumps!!?‍❤️‍????

  • Freedom …19th January 2015.
    I went to my FB page and posted that one word : freedom.
    It expressed everything that his leaving my life meant. I’m sorry most of all for the children’s unavoidable pain. When I told persons they inevitably said that they were sorry to hear it. I would reply : don’t be.

    • Ditto #1: most sorry for the children’s unavoidable pain.
      Ditto #2: Sorry? Don’t be.

      When it comes up I give my marital status as “happily divorced”. That usually shuts down the “sorry” comments. 😀

  • I sit here today after sanding and re painting my door jams thinking about freedom. Thinking for the first time in my very old life I am free to be me. My kids are grown and although I’m here if they need love and advice, their problems are not mine. I no longer rush in to “fix” things and they are stronger for it. They will handle their lives as they see fit. x’s continued shenanigans don’t affect me as I have thrown away the rear view mirror, I’m only looking forward now. I feel at peace today. Confident in my abilities and my life as it continues to unfold. As for possible future relationships I finally know what I bring to the table and it is a lot. I also know what it’s going to take to keep me there. I feel free from worry and angst. It is strange this feeling of peace. I think I’ll keep it and treasure it.

  • This is going to sound really weird and probably a bit stupid but I’ll try and articulate myself anyway and then take the onslaught from you all!!

    When I met Runplenarcskin eight years ago, I was very independent and had a great life. I did yoga regularly, went to boxing, rode a pushbike everywhere, ate out a lot, went to movies by myself, loved music and so on.

    Clearly all those things appealed to Rumple and were guises he wanted to adopt as his new “him”.

    Now he does all those things and acts like he gave birth to all of them as concepts. Peddles this image to all and sundry.

    As a consequence I don’t want to do any of them anymore. I’m angry about it but doing those things almost feels like I’m still somehow connected to him and I feel a physical aversion to them, they aren’t MY identity anymore. I don’t listen to music because it hurts, sex, because it has been so instrumental in causing me pain, just repels me, I can’t stomach the thought of yoga because I know he and his muppet are “doing dawn practice on the beach”, they cycle everywhere together. I feel as though my identity has been robbed and subsumed by him.

    I know I don’t have a monopoly on these activities but he fucking ruined them for me and I need something he hasn’t and doesn’t ever do.

    Therefore in my “freedom to” quest, I really don’t know what I want to do or what I might enjoy. And to be honest I feel a bit stuck in resentment about having to reinvent myself because that turkey reinvented himself in my fucking image.

    Ok. Ready for you all to shout at me now about self pity and ridiculousness.

    • Maybe you still need a little more time to heal. He still has some real estate in your head. Try doing just one of those things one time with the focus solely on you and what it brings to you. How you felt doing that before he entered your life. Recover the feelings of peace and accomplishment that activity brings you. Refuse to let him take that away from you.

    • No not going to shout because I completely understand what you mean. 6 months in and I can’t read books listen to music that I loved. Luckily stbx refused point blank to help me in the garden so that is my focus along with my daughter who he only sees every two weeks. Today I am
      Spending the first day completely on my own apart from cats since he left. Before I was frantically trying to fill the empty hours. I did not chose this freedom and I’m still terrified of the future alone ( I loved being a wife and mother) but I have got this far and I will reclaim my music and reading. It is a slow painful process but I am aware that what I am building is stronger. No
      More building on sand no more believing that if I kept trying the chaotic alcohol dependant cheater would be happy. Yes he has ruined so much of mine and our children’s lives but we can try to limit the affect he has on our future. Still in limbo waiting for divorce and settlement whilst he drags his feet. But I am beginning to find peace and strength in the wreckage.

    • A long time ago, a disordered fuck said to me, “What is mine is mine and what is yours is mine.” This sums up the “mine”set of cheaters.

      Take it back, ZHUCHI. It does not belong to him. Never did. What is yours is yours.

    • No shouting from me either. This is completely understandable. Two weeks before Christmas 2009, I was doing my holiday baking & candy making, which I had done for years & looked forward to doing. AND, this particular day I was also checking phone records because I had been tipped off that my husband at the time might be up to no good. This became DDay #2. I had always, always loved Christmas time. After this day, my Christmas joy was gone. It was all I had in me for the next several years to even break out the decorations & put up the tree. My children sensed it & my daughter became the designated holiday decorator. Looking back, it pisses me off at myself that I let this asshole rob me of a tradition I’d always held dear to my heart. That year of DDay #2, my gift from my XH was one of those pre-made gift baskets from Bath & Body Works. The scent was Sweet Pea. I have always HATED that scent. I never said a word or acted ungrateful. In truth, I was surprised I got anything. Fast forward to Christmas 2015 and a couple of months after DDay #3 during another wreckonciliation, apparently, I was slated to get another Sweet Pea Bath & Body Works gift set (how original, I know). He had picked it up & brought it home & asked our 15 y/o daughter to wrap it for me. She refused. She told him that if he knew anything about me at all then he would have known not to buy me that scent. She made him take it back & get something different. He said to her, “I’ve bought it for her before, I thought she liked it.” Her reply, “Dad, you don’t pay attention to her. She hated it the last time you bought it but never said anything because that would’ve been rude. She was grateful you actually bought her something.”

      I used to love to read. He would get wrapped up in some TV show or movie that I’d have no interest in, so I’d sit in the living room with him & read. He’d get mad at me & say that I always had my head stuck in a book. So I quit checking out books at the library. He’d get mad if I scrolled through FB or Pinterest while watching TV with him. I guess I was supposed to like all of the programs he did. I had no interest in them, so I basically quit watching TV all together. To this day, I don’t watch TV. But, I have started reading again & I love it. I also love music & to sing. If we ever went anywhere there was a live band playing, he’d always talk the band into letting me sing with them. I made him look good when people would compliment me to him about how good I was. We quit going out & dancing because he didn’t want to do it anymore, it was boring to him. Now that we’re divorced, I’ve been going out with friends & I’ve sang on stage more in the last 4 months than I did in 21 years.

      I’m rediscovering things about myself that I quit doing for the sake of him. I realize now how much I sacrificed things I enjoyed doing just to make him happy. I no longer have to do that & it feels awesome. He never wanted to travel. I do & I am. I am going to the Dominican Republic in a month & Cancun in September. For my daughter’s high school graduation, I am planning on taking her to Hawaii. It’s amazing to me now that I let him hold me back from so many things in my life just because it didn’t interest or what he wanted. Screw that. This is my life & I’m gonna live it.

      • My goodness. It’s downright freaky how similar our disordered exes are. 1) Shitty Xmas gift of a thoughtless thing I hate that is given repeatedly, or no Xmas gift is given at all? Check. 2) Getting mad at me for reading or net surfing while sitting together watching his choice of TV show? Check. These are his actual stated reasons for walking out on me and our 3 kids, right after moving us across the country. Oh and I didn’t cook like a trained chef does and I made too many freezer meals. Riiiiight. The truth is he’s a covert narc cheaterpants and had his next victim waiting in the wings, hence why he really moved us. Good riddance. Things are already so much better without his moody, erratic, nitpicky, negativity stinking up the place.

    • These vampires have no inner “meat”. So they siphon off our rich interests, hobbies & ideas. One of my sickest memories is of the Puke Bag saying, “I believe I am a better person now because of you.”

      Really? After you blew up my life, you are now Ghandi? Fuck you.

      My healing hit Mach 5 speed when I well and truly accepted that Puke Bag was just an utter piece of shit. Full stop. He is nothing to moon, long or grieve over. He is not mysterious and edgy or fascinating.

      You just need more of that old healer, Time. You need more Time. Intellectually you are clearly sharp as a tack, and know that Yoga is 1000s of years old and has no connection to even America. But now, the association is too strong with this dirt bag.

      And take heart, Friend….he will drop those hobbies very soon. You know how they say on here:

      That is how these ass clowns operate. Nothing holds their interest long because they have no inner fortitude or discipline.

      So, now is the time to explore new things! Yoga and all your wonderful hobbies are not going anywhere. Find something new that has zero connection to this Fuckstick and his whore. When your heart is healed, you can go back to your old interests, if you want to do so.

    • Ugh, that sucks that he has taken the shine off things you love. You were the originator Zhuchi, and he was the empty shell that took on your activities to try and fill his meaninglessness, or to attract someone by disguising himself as a fully functioning human being.I agree with others here though, try to find something new for yourself for a while, until you no longer care enough to associate those pleasurable activities with him.

  • There was a time when I didn’t think I would ever be happy again. But recovery did come for both me and my daughter. I went from getting layed off, cheated on and abandoned by husband and fair weather friends to a new job making more money, strongly reconnecting with my very best friend and good family I hadn’t seen in years, and my daughter is doing amazing. Life on my terms is 1 million times better than I ever imagined it could be.

    I tried dating a bit, but nothing really worked out. Red flags were extremely easy to see and no one I met was even worth my time. I will never waste my wonderful self on anyone who isn’t worthy, ever again.

    • This is me atm, lost my job Monday due to stress affecting my work and a boss with zero empathy. Freaking out. I have some money to keep mortgage and pay bills for probably 6 weeks then I will be hitting the skids, I have good skills and references so hoping something comes through soon.

      • LadyB I hear ya, I lost mine a week or so ago. Time to reevaluate and move on. Bad enough to lose a marriage and now a job. It all happens for a reason, I believe.

      • Could you enroll in summer college session for a degree you have always wanted to obtain?

        That financial aid money can get you over the hump and you would be working toward goals.

        Home equity lines are robbing Peter to pay Paul but it will keep the lights on and milk in the fridge.

        Having to deal with money problems on top of cheating makes you question the Universe.

      • File for unemployment with your state, even if you were terminated. You’ll only get denied if your employer chooses to fight it and many do not bother objecting.

        Customize every resume for the position you are applying for, match their job description line by line if you can. My current job had a great recruiter that knew exactly what the hiring manager was looking for and he helped me customize my resume to make it a perfect fit.

        After my unemployment ran out I finally got a job but it wasn’t a good fit. I took the job, was miserable but I kept papering my resume all over the area. I got a great position 6 months later. It was much harder to find a job when I didn’t have one, it seems.

        • Hi
          I am in Aus and have filed for unemployment.
          There is no point me studying I just can’t cover bills and mortgage.
          Im pulling out all stops to get another job and have good contacts in the town I live in.
          I am selling off stuff I don’t need like my motorbike to keep me going, figure I have about 6 weeks.
          My parents and brother will help if needs be.
          Asshole has been making noises about coming back even though he’s holding out for his true love who lives OS and says wait three years, she sounds like a nut job! and of course wants it all on his terms. My worse nightmare is having him back because I face losing the house which I am not going to do. The housing market here is really hard to get into and once your out you will probably rent there after, rents are high also.
          I think he would come back and get him self out of debt and then hit the road, listening to him makes me sick. I ‘groomed him for his affair’ I was speechless. I ‘didn’t like him having confidence after he got sober 5 years ago’ forgot to mention I put up with his drunken antics for 5 years.
          I realise he is dangerous to my well being and is dysfunctional and delusional. Praying the universe sends me work so I don’t have to consider this humiliation.

  • Freedom from
    disrespect, controlling, unreciprocated demands, lies, sulks, anger, rants and impulse spending

    Freedom to
    relax, enjoy peace and quiet, plan ahead, have time to catch up with family and friends, do hobbies, make so many more choices, reflect, learn and grow.

    Thank you this helps #somuchbetteroffnow

  • I have freedom to hope again. Some days it’s harder than others to be hopeful because of the never-ending financial fears and the continued emotional neglect and abuse that X continues to inflict on our kids. But it shows up more often than not these days.

    That makes me the happiest divorced woman on the planet.

  • Oh, sweet FREEDOM! When I first moved out right after the divorce was final (over two years ago), I thought maybe I would start a journal. I bought a notebook and I opened it up and on the first page I wrote “I can hear myself think”. I closed it up and put it away. I’m still basking in the peace and quiet of being able to hear myself think. I’m free after several decades of chaos, crises, ranting, tantrums, criticism, drama and nonsense. The freedom of the silence is heavenly.

  • My youngest son has a T shirt . On it is written:
    I understand, I just don’t care.
    This sums up a cheater. Once you REALLY absorb this, you can start to mentally move on.
    I am still, 5 years on from DD, trying to sell 2 houses we co-own. He has been as difficult and expensive to divorce as it is possible to be.
    Finally though, I don’t care either.
    Once the anger goes it is LIBERATING.

    • I want that t-shirt- perfect Father’s Day present for stbx. He wouldn’t get it- lol.

    • Yes, the houses. Such a rich field for them to fuck with you!
      X wanted to mess up the sale of our house, and he did, two times, until my lawyer jumped in the third time to make the sale happen, so pointless.
      Freedom from- owning property with anyone. Ever. I own my place, all alone, and that is great.

  • Not my job to :
    1. Buy birthday and christmas presents for his 9 nieces and nephews ;
    2. Attend coma inducing mothers day, fathers day , wedding anniversary and birthday diners of his parents , on top of seeing them every sunday for dinner ; praise his career success ;
    4. To agree with his criticism against his brother and sister in law ;
    5. Rants against his staff etc etc
    Isn’t life great ? Divorce is worse than death but with divorce there can be rebirth , whereas death is the end.

    • “coma inducing”

      Oh Boy, yes.

      Puke Bag had an aunt that talked so much it once gave me a migraine. She never wanted you to talk, and in fact, if you even said something like “I see” she gave you a look like “I am talking here!”.

      It was HIS aunt, and he would zone out at the TV and make me do all the work. I would sit and nod, smile and laugh until I was actually nauseated. I mean hours. It sounds harmless but it was actually bad for my health.

      • My ex MIL is like this as well, I believe she gets kibbles as she drones on, secretly enjoying holding you when you don’t want to be there. Any conversation you start is immediately captured. The absolute nadir was mentioning we had put in a new gas heater. She interrupted me to say she thought gas was superior, and started listing houses she had lived in as a child and what gas and/or electric appliances they had. I looked around the room, literally everyone’s eyes were on the floor, as she monologued nonstop on this topic for over an hour. I wish I had looked around earlier, I spent 20 years trying to be polite, looking her in the eyes, as she efficiently sucked out my will to live.

  • I am dating again. HUGE surprise to me and him. My picker seems to be working a lot better, too.

    Just taking it slowly.

  • I love this site. I don’t post much, but am bolstered by the perspectives. This topic is particularly relevant. I had considered asking about something similar in the blog.

    Ex has been back in town for a month, after almost 5 years of incarceration. He had talked incessantly of spending time with the boys when he got out. He “couldn’t wait”, and had dreams of various outings with them.

    Fast forward to today, and he hasn’t seen them at all. At first we argued because currently his visits require supervision (court requirement, not mine) and he insisted that I be the supervisor. I said no, so he called repeatedly and left a begging voicemail, then sobbed to a mutual friend, who then called me to recommend sitting down together with a neutral 3rd party to resolve our misunderstandings. (Still no.) I told him on the phone and emailed that I won’t supervise, but he can find a court appointed supervisor, or a mutual friend (I’d accept almost anyone.) Has he done that? No. He says I’ve made it difficult for him to see the kids. I’ve asked him for dates so I can set aside time in the kids’ schedule. Crickets.

    My younger son hardly knows him and is unaffected, but the older one misses dad. I had been mentally preparing him for ex’s return, so he knows he’s in town, and now there’s a hanging disappointment that tempts me to fix things. I tend to take on guilt, because yes, he would have seen them by now if I had simply agreed to supervise, but I don’t want to be stuck near him, without an escape from his incessant persuasive arguments.

    Not. My. Problem. <– I need to believe this.

    • Lilyrose, you are wise maintaining the no-contact. He want’s you back in his vicinity to give him the chance to hoover, and that is why he is blackmailing you with the pain of your son’s disappointment. That is why he is dilly-dallying, because you are the factor he wants back in the picture. Have you spoken to your lawyer (I know, I know, costing you money again).

      • Thank you. I sticking to my guns so far, and hope I’ll be convinced of my character assessment in another 1-2 months if ex has made no progress. I am one of the fortunate who has full custody based on the nature of his offenses. I would allow and even encourage safe visitation because I worry otherwise that my son will feel rejected by his dad, but if that turns out to be reality, then we move on.

    • Lilyrose, am guessing that your supervising services are free where otherwise he would have to pay, and then once you are ‘working’ for hm for free he feels he can better control the situation. A neutral party would be much less bendable to his wiles.

      You are sooooo wise to stay no contact. These fucktards have an insidious way of getting into our brains and leaving some deep programming.

      Beware and Stay Mighty!

    • Lily,
      Promises made in prison are written on the wind. My sister stuck by her husband when he was sent to prison. No one in our family had ever been to prison.

      He wrote her love poems, elaborate doodles and odes to her to magnificence . He called (on her dime) almost daily. My sister tells a great story.

      She tells of driving up to the prison gate to fetch him on his release day. As soon as she saw his face, she knew she had made terrible miscalculation. His face was snarled in rage and disgust. He exploded into the car and shouted, What took you so long, Bitch?

      He was in prison for domestic violence. She was the victim.

      You can safely disregard everything he said while incarcerated. They are bored and just want to make sure they have a soft landing pad. Also, it is admired in prison to seem to love your children.

      I would do him no favors and not encourage the visitation in anyway. The sooner he exits out of you and children’s lives…the better.

      • Okay; being totally nosy here but it’s irresistible; what did she do then? How long did it take her to dump his sorry ass? Is she still captive???


        • Ha ha, yes, I too would love to hear a happy ending for your sister…?

  • I am free from:

    Cleaning up disasters in the kitchen after one of his mad cooking sprees; grease on the back splash, tomato sauce down the cabinets and refrigerator and too much food cooked. As soon as he wolfed down what he wanted, his contribution was stacking towers of dirty, caked plates and half full bowls in the sink in a tower. I have no garbage disposal.

    Picking up wet towels off the beds, carpet and even the garage floor.

    Scooping up dirty clothes and stinking ball caps from the kitchen table (Who does this?)

    Someone spending like a drunken sailor on clothes and gadgets and then acting mystified or mad when I inquire about the power bill.

    Cleaning up pee and poo (NOT THE DOG’S FAULT!) because when I would have to travel for work and he was in “Charge” he would sleep until noon and then express disbelief that the dog has to go out to use the bathroom before high noon.

    Sneaking out to his car at 3AM to check his phone with a pit in my stomach to deconstruct his lies and life.

    His violent, scary rages where he would attempt to take back all the gifts he had given me because he was in a bad mood. Worried he actually would smash my computer that had my work and finances on it.

    Living with a pouty, spoiled child in a hairy, hateful, deceitful grown man’s body is in my past.


  • All these beautiful stories… I only have the smallest offering: the other day at work, I had a call from a customer with the same name as Sir Lies-a-Lot’s final fairytale princess. I treated her with consummate professionalism, neither giving her poor service and the higher rate on a lower-quality product (we’re entitled and encouraged to do so, but this is not how I consistently get my name on the “top sales” whiteboard), nor going the over-nice route to make up for the faint stammer that the gutstab of saying that name produces. The REALLY exciting part, for me, was not having to feign a potty break to get myself together after that call. Easing on down the road to the fabled land of Meh… I know it’s a baby step, but I am pretty proud of myself.

    • Wow, on the PHONE in a CONVERSATION with the princess, and you not only held it together but maintained integrity?! So impressive. Hats off! That sounds like meh indeed.

  • Not my job. Cut his ear hairs. Yep I did that. Saw him the other day – those suckers were 1/2 inch long. Yuck.