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An Interview with Jen Waite, Author of “A Beautiful, Terrible Thing”

Jen Waite lived a nightmare we here at Chump Nation can all relate to — one terrible day she discovered her spouse had a double life. Her husband was not the person he represented himself to be. He was a fraud, a liar, a con. Jen’s world fell apart. She was a new mother at the time. Here’s where Jen distinguishes herself from the rest of us — she wrote a true life suspenseful account of her betrayal and landed a publishing deal with Penguin books. 

Jen and I share an agent, which is how I heard of Jen’s incredible tale of mightiness. Today Jen, author, mom, former chump, is studying to be a therapist. A Beautiful, Terrible Thing is a new addition to the Chump Lit canon changing the narrative around infidelity. 

I had the opportunity to interview Jen about her chump experience. You can check out her book here. Support the Chump Lit cause! Buy the book! 

CL: Having once married a sociopath (raising my hand here too) — are you wary of sparkles? You say you knew he was “It” — does that kind of chemistry freak you out now?

This is a really good question and one I actually haven’t been asked a lot, but something I do think about quite a bit. The first year “post-sociopath” I was very, very wary of any kind of sparkles or chemistry or attention even from a man. I didn’t start dating at all until about a year had passed since everything happened and during that year I went through a good period of time where I decided that I never wanted a partner again.

But it was a decision made from fear and anger, not because I was truly happy being single (I am actually in that specific place now which is really lovely!). I spent a lot of time processing what happened and analyzing the “red flags” that I missed at the beginning of my relationship with my ex-husband. I also worked a lot in therapy to determine WHY I missed those red flags and that’s ultimately where I began to differentiate between chemistry and sparkles and love bombing, triangulation and a super heightened, disingenuous sense of intimacy. So I kind of ended up doing a 180 from when I was like “fuck no” to all men.

My grandmother told me something while I was uncovering piece by piece my ex-husband’s second life, she said: “Your stomach always tells the truth.” That might seem like a kind of “woo woo” principle to live by but if you feel sick to your stomach at the beginning (or end) of a relationship, your body is trying to tell you something. There is a big difference between having a healthy connection with someone and the “attraction” that results from love-bombing, triangulation, pity plays, etc. etc.

So long answer short, I’m not wary of chemistry anymore; sparkles are great and actually I think essential at the beginning of a relationship but I trust my stomach now and take in all the data as objectively as possible.

CL: When did the mask slip? Your D-Day was January 20, but did you have a mask slip earlier?

Yes, January 20th (that date will forever be seared into my mind) was the night that my husband came home from work a completely different person. I had found a strange email earlier that night and called him at work to ask him about it. He laughed it off and had a really genuine response but when he got home from work that night, it was like a switch flipped. Almost as if on the way home he decided “well cat’s out of the bag, I’m not gonna even try to keep up the act anymore.” It was eerie and shocking and confusing to the point that I felt completely panicked. I also had a newborn baby at this time and so I’m not sure what role sleep deprivation played but just suffice it to say that that was not a good night. That night was the intersection of the BEFORE and AFTER of my life.

At the time, on January 20th, I would have said, no, that was the first time the mask slipped, or was ripped off, but in hindsight I can pinpoint small moments from the end of my pregnancy that he started to let the mask slip a bit. He became somewhat disengaged around when I was about eight months pregnant — I chalked it up to the fact that he had a new job as the general manager of a trendy restaurant in downtown Manhattan so the hours were very late and long and (I believed) he was just insanely overworked and overtired. But I also remember him posting kind of weird, out of the ordinary, pictures to his social media for the first time. He posted a couple of quotes, like “inspirational” but really strange, like about being a lion or a tiger, and then he also became obsessed with New York City and “making it big.” I found out a bit later that his new “target” had just moved to New York from abroad and was equally obsessed with the city and partying and “making it big” in New York. He was starting to mirror her instead of me, for the first time since we’d met. At the time, it seemed subtle — behavior that I could pretty easily explain away, but now when I think about it, it’s totally creepy and obvious that his mask started slipping a couple of months before January 20th.

CL: Do you worry about Louisa’s exposure to her father? Is he out of your life? Or are you in our co-parenting with a fuckwit boat?

I am very fortunate that pretty much ever since D-Day, my ex-husband has kind of disappeared. I think once his lies were brought to light, he just wanted to slip away and start a new life. Right now I have sole legal and physical custody of my daughter. She is two and a half years old. At the very beginning, he would text once in a while, sometimes long, rambling, word-salady texts about needing time to “get better” and become the great father that he knew he could be, but now it has been over a year with pretty much zero word from him.

Louisa actually said the other day “What’s a daddy?” and it took me totally by surprise. I had heard another little girl in her daycare scream “daddy!!!” recently when her dad came to pick her up, so I think that’s where the question came from, but still my stomach flipped because I didn’t really have an answer prepared yet. I was about to go into some long explanation of “Well, someday you might have a dad but for now you have me and Mimi and Granddad and Uncle Ryan and…” etc. etc. and before I could answer she said, “Mama’s my daddy!!!!!”

I realize it won’t always be that simple, and I plan on being truthful with her in an age-appropriate way. But for now, while the girl is two, mama’s her daddy and I’m good with that.

CL: What advice do you have for people who unearth double lives of their partners? You lived this nightmare — do you feel unique? Like Freak of the Week, or do you think this experience is more common than we know?

This experience is shockingly more common than we think, or at least, than I thought. Since coming forward with my story, I have received hundreds of emails from other women (and a few men) who have lived through similar betrayals. There is a shame stigma surrounding this kind of life-altering betrayal. On the one hand, you feel like you should have seen it coming, and then on the other hand, if you try to explain to friends and family what really happened, you end up sounding crazy. And I’ll be the first to admit to having these thoughts about myself — that I should have known better and that I was going insane during the devalue/discard. I used to have this idea that when couples break up in a less than amicable fashion, there were problems under the surface for a while — you know that saying “it takes two to tango”? Well, I used to believe that fully — that a “sudden” breakup or betrayal in a relationship, while horrible, was always the result of a slow degradation of communications and feelings between two people.

Now I know that there are certain people (namely narcissists and sociopaths) who take pleasure in pulling the rug out and dropping you on your ass when you least expect it. While there are absolutely red flags in the beginning of a relationship with a narcissist and/or sociopath (thank God), the devalue and discard are designed to inflict as much confusion and hurt as possible, and at the same time convince you (via gaslighting) that you were to blame for the sudden absolute 180.

I suppose my advice first and foremost is to be gentle with yourself. I spent a lot of time beating myself up for not “recovering” fast enough or for being angry or sad or ashamed. I wished that I could fast forward to being strong and resilient and healed. So my first piece of advice is: let yourself feel whatever you need to feel without judgment. Be gentle and kind to yourself during this process.

And then my second piece of advice is: when you’re ready, go back and think about what drew you to that particular person. I realized that I was desperate for external validation and I thought that getting it from my ex-husband, who seemed very “hard to get,” would be the ultimate validation. The only reason though that he seemed like a prize is because he used triangulation and said one thing and did another, which left me in a constant state of confusion and infatuation. At the end of the day “winning” my ex-husband didn’t make me special, it made me a woman in a relationship, and then marriage, with a person who had shown himself to be completely lacking in character and integrity. So, look, my point is, ain’t no shame in the psychopath game (yes I just coined that phrase), they are highly manipulative con artists programmed to exploit vulnerabilities and insecurities. However, it is an opportunity to rebuild yourself (because you feel shattered and broken at the end of the relationship, I know, I was there) and finally, finally, FINALLY fall in love with yourself.

CL: Tell us about how you’re rebuilding your life and about your memoir. (We love mighty stories!)

It was a long process and for many, many months I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. The more I researched psychopathy and learned about personality disorders, the more I was able to very slowly align what my mind knew and what my heart felt. I went through a long period of cognitive dissonance where I technically understood that my husband very likely was on the psychopathy spectrum, had no empathy and our entire relationship was a lie, but I could not feel it. It was like my brain and my heart were at war.

I also was suddenly a single parent to a newborn, which gave me purpose and a reason to trudge forward, but was excruciatingly painful and difficult and a bit terrifying.

Basically, the first six months after D-Day were bad. Really, really bad. I was kind of on auto pilot, and just trying to make sure my daughter was healthy.

The silver lining though of being completely shattered, is that you get to piece yourself back together. I felt like everything I thought I knew had been ripped away, and, while terrifying, that eventually allowed me to start over in a way — to rebuild my self-worth and how I saw the world. I realized that I had lost a lot of myself in trying to please other people, whether it be family or friends or societal expectations in general. It suddenly became very clear what I wanted and who I wanted in my life. And I found that disengaging with people and things that negatively affected me (or made me feel slightly sick to my stomach) improved my quality of life immensely; suddenly I had more time to dedicate to the people and things that were truly important to me.

Six months later (from January 20th), I started writing. Six months after that, I finished a memoir. It was, as cliché as it sounds, kind of an out of body experience. Every minute that I could find during the day, and at night after my daughter went to bed, I would write feverishly, as if the entire memoir was inside my body and needed to get out. Because I uncovered my husband’s double life piece by piece in real life, that’s how I wrote the memoir, and it took the shape of a psychological thriller — not so fun in real life but it made for (I hope) a very compelling book. Writing everything out was also immensely healing for me and I hope it will validate other peoples’ experiences, and remove some of the shame, from this type of relationship.

I am also finding the life my daughter and I have created to be so simple and satisfying. It is so hard being a single parent (the first two years especially, it seems to be getting easier now…though she could be tricking me), but there is also a freedom and agency that comes with being a single parent. Being able to make all the decisions myself can sometimes feel daunting and overwhelming, but on the flip side it is so freaking satisfying and empowering. At the end of the day, we’re figuring it out as we go along!

Jen Waite lives in Maine with her young daughter. She is in graduate school to become a licensed therapist, specializing in recovery from psychopathic relationships.

Her book is A Beautiful, Terrible Thing — A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal

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  • Wow. And the first time I have really been directed to think about what drew me to him. That will have me pondering for a while. He was just so kind. I need to consider this further. What did I miss? What was going on in my life at the time. Thanks.

      • For sure, VulcanChump. This one was (and actually still is) kind. Not nice. He is kind to animals, small children, etc. He was not kind during his breakdown when he was fucking the OW. But he APPEARED kind still. He admits it was fucked. He definitely had a very out of character period there. Unlike many here, he genuinely is a good person MOST of the time. He is really genuinely sorry and embarrassed. He continues to hold himself accountable and does the personal ‘work’ required.

        But that doesn’t unfuck anyone, mend broken hearts, or cure HPV! I get it.

    • Per Jen’s website: “When I first met my ex-husband, I saw him lie to others. Instead of facing the reality of “he is a liar” I thought, “he’s lying because of a, b and c, but he would never lie to me.” I managed to filter out any bad behavior and focus only on what fit my paradigm.”

      • Star Tingover – I could have written the exact same thing. I watched him lie, too, but thought, oh, he’d never lie to me. What a CHUMP I was.

        • I never caught mine in an outright lie (he probably still thinks he has never actually lied), but I did see him feign interest in, concern for and comradery with others when he didn’t really mean it. Of course it took me a while to figure out that he didn’t really mean it even with those others.

          • What floored me was how EASILY he lied. So brazen. Not an ounce of guilt over it. I shudder to think how many lies he told me over the years.

            Even when I had the nude photos of the other woman (my daughter found them on her iPad as it was still somehow synced with the ex’s iPhone), he still denied it. Unbelievable.

            • I also find it fascinating how some people can lie without flinching or batting an eye.

              Once my Ex complimented me in an elevator (my 6 year old son was there as well), when I knew he had just sent an email to his girlfriend (affair partner) about how horrible I was; and I had seen their plans to discredit me. I smiled but then turned away, cringed, and held back panicky tears. I later read on a blog this behaviour is called “the mask of normal”. These people are out there and they are not normal.

              Because of my technical expertise, I was able to stay 10 steps ahead of them. Knowledge is power. But wow – disturbing.

              • Ok that is beyond chilling and disturbing. Good for you staying one step ahead Canadian Chump! I think their biggest mess ups come from severely underestimating us. He would tell me I’m book smart but yet so f ing stupid with no street smarts and no ability to understand basic concepts. It was damaging, but I’d think wow is this asshole wrong! Go ahead and underestimate me while I piece this all together. The times my husband did this to me I would feel the blood drain from my body and my hands wouldn’t stop shaking. My sweet old dog would know I was panicking… he’d crawl on my lap and just stare at me and lick my face. How many times did your husband do this to you? My husband had no clue I was onto him for a long time and I was in utter disbelief at how cold and calculated he was. He would be smearing me to his HoWorker and our “friends” and then a few minutes later say let’s snuggle and slide in behind me on the couch. At one point he got tipped off through a “friend” that I suspected he was cheating on me and he deleted her from his social media and switched her name in his phone. He had no clue I knew exactly who she was already. Careless “criminals” always get caught. Who’s the stupid one… not me! and not you!

              • My husband is a master at the “mask of normalcy”. He did very similar things to me that I have recently discovered since Dday 4/14/17. He was messaging an adult college student(38 yr old) of mine while talking to my daughter and I as we canned vegetables- some of which she had given gave me earlier in the week! He pursued her all summer and repeatedly asked her how her bio class was going (which I was teaching!) and tried to get her to meet him before my class!! What a sick monster! He did sooo many things like that it makes me physically ill. He didn’t just cheat- he was horrible and creepy about it. He is truly a psychopath and that alone makes this whole experience other worldly. I am devastated and completely crushed.

            • Yep. Get this. Of course I have shitloads of proof not revealing till those famous ducks are doing the Can Can. Turd.

          • The only outright lies I got were when I asked him three times if he was doing something to make a fool of me. But he was good at lying by omission. No question.

            • Same here. Lying by omission is his modis operandi. To him if he doesn’t say it happened, he cannot be held accountable because he just “forgot”. I had no idea until I found out he was lying to me. His silence and avoidance of the tough discussions involving character, morality, kind behavior, and genuine caring were absent. That is a red flag I missed, although I didn’t know it was needed to determine a healthy relationship at the time. I do now!

            • Forhot this part: I asked him outright if he was having any kind of affair or if there was another woman gaining his affected. Twice I asked at two different points in our marriage. Twice he said “no”.

              This is him lying by omission.

              There are a few more examples of him telling me about his day and life experiences where he just left out important details that I deserved to know for my own well-being. Turns out what he left out was quite pertinent to him having an affair and aspects to do with her.

            • Same here. Asked point blank 3 times. One day I said are you cheating on me. He said no. *lie!* and I said if you’re cheating on me I’m not going to be ok with it. In a quieter voice he said “I know you won’t”.

              • Oh, I asked my ex-douchebag outright, too! For years, he always told me, “If I were cheating on you, I’d have the balls to tell you.” Well guess what – he didn’t have the balls! And I made sure to throw that in his face.

                A few weeks before I found out about the affair, I confronted him and asked if he was cheating. He actually laughed at me and said “Why do you keep accusing me of this? I’m NOT cheating.” What a freakin’ bastard. And because he can lie so very well, I believed him – though really, I didn’t. My intuition knew something was up and damn if I wasn’t right.

        • Raising my hand here, he did the same and I also thought I was special and he wouldn’t do it to me. He made it clear I was on his team so he would do it to others, the rival teams.
          My fault for placing my longing to belong to a team above my principles.

      • Yep. I saw my husband become an absolute beast bent on revenge towards his sister. I figured he would never do something like that to me. Talk about hubris. If they will do it to others, they will do it to you. Once my ego got out of the way, I was this plain as day.

        • 100% red flag! I wish I knew that before I married him. The revenge and rage was always turned outward to others. Until I caught on to his cheating and lies. Then hell’s gates opened on me.

      • My cheater lied about a gambling problem during our engagement. I found some suspect purchases on our joint account. He lied to me and said someone else must have used our bank. He had to come clean eventually as I was going to ring the fraud helpline at the back. He promised he would never do it again, that he was sorry and loved me etc. I was young and stupid and in full on wedding planning mode. Fast forward to D-day and I find out he has started his gambling up again and been hiding it for at least a year. He has lied about so much to try and cover it up and also stupid lies that have really effects me mentally. I knew something was up but he used all the manipulation tools and gaslighting to make me stop asking questions. I realise that his affair was a cowardly way to get out of our marriage. He told me “it was easy to lie to you, you believed everything I said”. It hurts like hell but I know that I want someone who values me and won’t use my trusting him against me.

        • I think that’s so funny that he didn’t realize that he was paying you an enormous compliment by saying, “It was easy to lie to you, you believed everything I said.” That’s because you are a moral, honest, trusting person! A great thing to be! Especially in a relationship! He is warped!

      • I would ask him ‘is there anyone else?’ and he would say, no there isn’t.

        Of course, he was telling the truth because the day before, he had said to his OW ‘my wife and children are coming over and so I can’t see you for a month’ (cue passionate argument)

        So he was telling the truth.

        (When the children weren’t there, he didn’t even bother with this. There used to be a lot of late nights out with his team, piecing it together afterwards despite his denials).

        WHY I tolerated this mind bending humiliation and emotional abuse for so long is a source of great shame for me. Oh well, onwards and upwards.

    • Just bought mine, too! Looking forward to reading it. And to sharing my review on social media to educate people on the horrible impact cheaters have on their spouses and family. It’s not a cute plot device for TV shows and movies anymore. It’s devastating and horrific.

  • And just a reminder, CN, if you buy the book, PLEASE review the book.

    The more buzz, the more positive reviews give other publishers the metrics they need to publish more chump-positive stories. And it also helps people on the fence to buy these resources.

    So do circle back and review when you’re done. Thank you!

    • I can’t wait to read it. Just ordered it. Thank You CL and Jen.

      Yes, will write review after reading it.

    • Just ordered it, looking forward to reading it and to contributing a review, the more chump lit we help raise awareness about, the bigger the chump recovery movement, as tempest would say “VIVA LA REVOLUCION!”

      • and I love that ChumpLady has paved the way for Chumpdom to go mainstream. The fortunately uninitiated may now start to realize the horror that all of us lived through, that we did nothing to cause the “demise of the marriage” because marriages can’t survive with 3 (or more) in the boat.

        • Yes, Viva! Chumplady is by far a trailblaizer and a modern day hero.

          Can’t wait to read the book, Congratulations, Jen, you are Mighty.

      • I placed a hold on it at our library. Can’t afford to buy books, but I will definitely review it when I’m done.

    • Going to buy it and leave a positive review. CL and CN has saved my life as I go through this as a newbie. Thank you!!!!

    • Already did it! Jen was incredibly awesome and sent me an email when I emailed her.

      Jen has a gift of articulating what we have gone through. Incredibly, her insights came fairly soon after DDay. Not to imply, in any way, that her suffering was abbreviated. In fact, she details her post DDay that caused me just a little bit of PTSD. I remember that! And that! And that! She’s so honest and authentic as she tells her story – even the parts that aren’t so pretty about herself. I think that’s what makes the book so compelling. None of us are perfect and we can and have turned our own imperfections into self blame.

      A side note, I was telling a very old friend, via email, a Reader’s Digest version of my story. She responded with, “You don’t deserve that.” My response was immediate and authentic. I know and Of course not. In fact, I realized that self blame is so far from my internal vocabulary, her declaration was a non sequitur and didn’t belong in our conversation. Well, duh.

      Thanks, CL. Great book. Painful to read but inspiring to see a Chump become mighty. Way to go, Jen!

    • I wish somewhere in this article you had let readers know that the author of the book is an OW herself. It’s easy to have sympathy for her (and I do) because her story is horrific. But dollars to donuts the experience of the woman her ex-husband betrayed and cheated on when he got together with the author of the book was also horrific. A lot of readers here may have been *that* woman. Imagine her experience. Imagine her watching Chump Nation rally around the person that for *her* was the other woman. Ouch.

  • Off to Amazon. I look forward to reading this as I too, spent my post divorce days in therapy trying to uncover what lead me to fall in love with what I see now is clearly a narcissist. I too had that moment where I suddenly realized what I wanted and who I wanted in my life and I did disengage from the people who negatively affected me and my life and it improved my quality of life too!

  • What a powerful story. I’m sure that almost all of us here could find something that resonates powerfully with them in Ms. Waite’s book. Put it on the list.

    And one other little note – consequences. How do you think this book will affect her ex-husband’s life? I think he’s hearing the karma freight train rolling down the track, heading for him. Good luck reframing and blame shifting a soon to be bestselling novel (if it isn’t already).

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.
    aeronaut

    • Bet he hears the train a comin’
      Comin’ round the bend
      He knows it’s gonna clean his clock
      He just don’t know when..

      ( Forgive me, figured the Johnny Cash reference was appropriate)

      • Johnny Cash works fine too, but I was actually thinking Grateful Dead, Casey Jones:

        Switchman’s sleeping, train hundred and two is
        On the wrong track and heading for you.

        I don’t know if Ms. Waite’s ex-husband did drugs or not, but the next line is, “Driving that train, high on cocaine.” The song doesn’t so much glorify drug use as describe how drugs will lead one to a complacent slide into disaster (kind of like cheating and living a double life).

        Peace.
        aeronaut

  • I can’t wait to read this!

    I was lucky enough to be exposed to what I believe to be a psychopath in my very first relationship, in high school. I wasn’t even old enough for a driver’s license! I’m wondering, does pathological liar always mean psychopath? I’m thinking it does.

    This guy had me on the string for a long time. Like Jen said, Your stomach knows. I didn’t trust him and never got too deep in the relationship, even though I thought he was my soulmate, my fate, etc mainly because I knew he was a cheater/liar/turd. I think the thing that stands out for me was that he was Stone Cold. Never showed emotion, unless it would get him something. Oh well, luckily i got over him immediately and totally one day. But it was after years of “being in love” with him.

    I went on to a series of losers but I set my Creep Standard by this guy.

    • These malignant narcs can really ‘imprint’ themselves on our hearts from a very early age. I also got preyed upon (bedazzled, bombed, devalued and dumped) as a freshman in high school (he was 7 years older and a church youth group leader). Messed up my idea of healthy for a long time, but my stomach could always pick out these dangerous psychopaths (and yet still fell for one in college too). Heard recently (thanks social media) that my original was dying of liver failure. Karma train I guess, but thank God all I still feel is ‘meh’. 30 years married (with 3 wonderful kids) to a non sociopath heals a lot. And yes…these types NEVER change, they don’t know how, don’t care, are missing the basic wiring that makes us all human, etc. Just not worth the time (once you do the work to free yourself from the residual trauma of their manipulations), to think about them any more. Thank you CN for continuing to provide a way to share and heal (mostly forgotten now) old wounds too.

      • I had a psycho in my life during my teen years. He was about 10 years older, was a newly ordained minister, friend of my parents, and briefly dated my older sister. He insinuated his way into my family by regularly crewing in races on my Dad’s sailboat, and I was Dad’s little princess, always there for the races too.

        I sussed out the creep even at that young age just by watching, listening, and overhearing other women talking about him. Good thing I had this heads up, because he tried one day to assault me when we were alone on the boat down at the docks. I ended up diving off the boat and swimming across the (small) harbour and asking another boat owner for help. The other guy actually laughed when I told him what happened, then the offender came around and acted as if I’d fallen in and he was there to rescue me. I told him to back off or I’d tell my Dad. He scolded me for being a potty mouth and stalked off.

        The creep shortly thereafter found an excuse to stop crewing for us. I told Dad no detail but said the minister was a creep. I was sent to my room for being rude. Go figure. I knew my father thought women who were sexually assaulted must have been “asking for it” so there was no point in arguing.

        Fast forward 40 years, and this same creep minister turns out to be the university chaplain, in attendance at MY son’s graduation. I had never seen him in the interim years. I pointed him out to my then-husband, who just said “let sleeping dogs lie”. Well, at the reception, when the perv came sliming over to pump everyone’s hand, I looked him straight in the eye, reminded him who I was, at said “I have not forgotten you and what you did”. He paled, mumbled “whatever” and turned away.

        My son later said he would have whoooped the guy’s arse if he’d known…good thing I didn’t tell him.

        • Too bad you didn’t tell your son. Well ok, maybe not. I wouldn’t have wanted him to get in trouble over it.

          STBXs aunt was date raped in college back in the days when such things were never recognized for what they were and she had no recourse. At a reunion she ran into the guy with his wife and daughters. She thought about saying “oh yes, I remember you, they didn’t call it date rape back then but that’s what it was”, but didn’t. She said she figured she got her revenge because he had daughters and he would have to worry about them. I am not so sure. A guy like that probably doesn’t care what happens to his daughters. Too bad she didn’t expose him to his wife and kids but I can understand why she didn’t (didn’t want to look like the crazy one causing a scene). The wife probably already knew he was an asshole by then but was likely spackling like mad.

          • Yes, and the thing I didn’t realise when I ran into creepo minister was that he is currently on his fourth marriage. If I’d known that, I might have had some even more ripe things to say to him.

            He was also in attendance at my younger son’s grad last year, and I sidled up near him at the reception, stared him down, and he (wearing his darth vader lookalike gown) swept out of the room in haste when he saw me. It did make me barfy though to see how “revered” he was by university boffins. The faculty dean was an old friend from high school, strangely enough, but I thought if I said anything to her, it would seem like a nutcase dredging up the past. I wonder how many victims he has. I just thank my lucky stars that way back when, I was an athletic little girl who had the guts to dive into a murky old harbour than suffer his indignities. Hell, back then, I didn’t even know what sex really was…just that it was wrong what he tried to do. Now I wish I’d prosecuted him.

  • Great article and so glad to see how brave people, willing to share their story, are changing the cheater narrative forever.

    It has taken 2 1/2 solid years of working with a therapist to understand and untangle the “why I fell for it” and to clearly see what I needed to own from my marriage to a sociopath (enabling, etc.) and what was definitely HELL. TO. THE. NO. for me to own.

    Now, I am supporting my stepdaughter get the help she needs to understand the damage her Dad caused her (abandoning her mom; rinse and repeat with me; 2 new women in her life since my discard). I’m hoping she stays with therapy and gets the information and empowerment she needs to make better choices – some day, a nation without Chumps 🙂

  • And when I say I “knew” this guy (high school bf) was a cheater and liar, it wasn’t that I ever caught him. He was very secretive and elusive, so that’s a red flag in itself. Also, the no driving thing and no phone records, or internet back in the day made it very easy to get away with this stuff. I have the occasional dream about this guy (decades later), and see him around town now and then, and he is related to a friend on Facebook and pops up there too. It always throws me off a little, but it doesn’t “hurt”, it just weirds me out.

  • Beautiful and Terrible. Hey we both have the same d-day – Jan 20th. A day I’ll never forget. But thank you for another truly inspiring story.

    • Jan 20 isn’t all bad. It is my wedding anniversary date – to my new and wonderful fellow chump husband. It’s also the anniversary of our first date two years prior to our wedding. This coming Jan 20 we will celebrate 10 years of marriage, 12 years as a couple. This is the man who adopted my children from my marriage to Cheater. So consider my story a “rewrite” over the dreaded Jan 20. I used to love to rewrite over old stuff with X. For example, hubby and I vacationed in Chicago (hubby grew up there ). No longer is my last memory of Chicago (a city I dearly love) of my 10th anniversary trip with Xhole. When I was single I reclaimed my former favorite picnic spot with xhole. Took the kids there many times — cried the first few times but then so many new memories just wrote over the old. Hell, my new hubby and I even got married in the same church as my first wedding and we had reception in the same area of the church annex. Hahahah. By that time hubby had joined my church and it was just natural to do so. Kids walked down the aisle with us! Talk about a rewrite.

    • Weird…January 20th was the first date I threw his ass out; 2 years later, it was the date he assaulted me in the kitchen after dropping off the kids. very weird.

      Looking forward to reading the book. I love reading this blog, so many times words here describe how I felt but had no idea how to identify those feelings. I too thought I was crazy. It is cruel what the disordered do to the people who love them.

  • I agree that your spouse quickly “becomes” a totally different person after D-Day. My ex would occasionally still resemble her old self, but whenever any serious discussions were to be had (about anything–not just her affair), the mask was off, and I was dealing with a new-and-worse wife.

    Of course, she wasn’t “new.” She hadn’t changed. This is who she was all along; she just stopped pretending, and I gradually stopped wanting to believe.

    • Yes, on dday my now-ex came home and his eyes were completely different and it was like a light switch had been flipped. Such a mindf*&%…

      • Oh, NorthernLight, I so get this! It was like he was dead inside or something, like he had just decided he wanted to feel nothing for me anymore. Totally like flipping a switch. It was bizarre. That was so incredibly painful for me because I was in such unbearable agony and it was like he couldn’t relate to me at all.

        • It’s weird, but long after d-day, I recalled I’d taken photographs of cheater ex helping me cut down a tree in my backyard. It was just after that, that I came across the emails that opened the floodgates of information that constituted d-day.

          I looked at those photos on the camera many weeks later, and saw the evil, lifeless stare. One picture even had him with little red glowing pupils. He had previously been a smiling benevolent character. I realised at that moment how much danger I had been in but didn’t even see it.

        • Yes, the cold dead eyes… It was like all love for me had suddenly evaporated. But you know, like Marci did, afterwards I thought about this one photo from about a year before that I had always thought was old. There was something weird about his eyes in it… Not cold or dead, they were just….they didn’t look as they did normally. Just a little empty or something. Like his normal self wasn’t there. At the time I just thought it was odd (and objectively, to those who didn’t know him he looked good/normal, but for me there was something off and I never framed it even though it normally would have been one to frame due to the circumstances of the photo). After dday, I thought about that photo a little differently and thought maybe that was just a moment where his real void was caught in a photo. He had somehow had his guard down in that moment and the camera caught it?

          At the time it was such a weird thing, that photo…but I never told anyone because it sounded bizarre that his eyes didn’t look normal or like him. But now I guess that is the real him that I didn’t know?

          • Here’s a follow up to that. OW and cheater have now been together for about four years since d-day, and have produced three children in rapid succession. She publicly blogs about their poverty stricken life, ostensibly trawling for sponsors and youtube fame. Now and then, she posts a photo of Cheater.

            On the rare occasion I actually check out her site, I enlarge those photos to have a good look at his eyes. Lately, I’ve noticed a change to the lifeless stare. I wonder if she sees that? Or maybe it’s just sleep deprivation lol.

            • Marci,
              I believe our eyes are a mirror to our soul,
              Cheaters have no soul, that explains that horrible look in their already dead eyes.

              Not too long ago I pulled out a picture of cheater, our little girl and myself. ( taken at the beach shortly after DDay). I am in first trimester pregnancy at this time.
              I felt such a sadness when I looked at my eyes. I saw and relived all the pain that I felt then.
              ( I told no one of the affair, pick me danced, he stayed).
              Could no one else see the hauntingly sorrowful look in my eyes?

              OMG, what they put us through and somehow we survive.

              ((((Hugs to you Marci))))

          • I think there is a void in their souls. They’re empty. And they try so hard to fill the emptiness with kibbles and lies and whatever they can lay their hands on. But there are moments when their true self absolutely comes out. I think you’re right in that the camera caught it. I have a few pictures like that of my ex, too.

            In a way, I pity my ex. He’s got a huge void in his life and he’s always had it. He’s been a trainwreck since even before I met him. All the stories he’s told me…the guy cannot quit screwing up his life. It’s hard to watch. I’m just glad I’m no longer bound to him.

        • ” I so get this! It was like he was dead inside or something, like he had just decided he wanted to feel nothing for me anymore. Totally like flipping a switch. It was bizarre. That was so incredibly painful for me because I was in such unbearable agony and it was like he couldn’t relate to me at all.”

          This SO much. The hardest part is that suddenly, after 11 years together, it seems like I mean absolutely nothing. None of this seems painful to him, while I shed tears almost every day. It makes me wonder if he ever cared at all.

          • Cancer Chump: I completely understand. They go on with their lives as if we were just a fly they flicked away and no longer think about or care about. It’s one of the most painful parts of this whole thing.

            My therapist told me that my ex does not have the capacity to love in a meaningful way. Because of the personality disorder, the PTSD, and everything else wrong with him, he can only love so much. And they don’t know *how* to love.

            It’s not us. It’s them.

            • I accept what my therapist said: he loved me as much as he was able.

              It wasn’t all bad, we had a good marriage for many years and some good times together.

              His discard I now (after years of agony) don’t take personally at all. I is none of my business. It is pointless and completely unrealistic of me to expect a scorpion to be a bunny rabbit. Expectations set me up for resentment and disappointment

              Thank God for 12 steps groups.

      • Yes, I had this experience as well with the switch flip. A couple of days before D-day, he had really ramped up treating me like shit for no reason and then he went totally cold and I could actually feel an invisible wall that he had put up between us. He expressed abosolutely no care or interest in me or my feelings from that point and he was even done pretending to care. It was chilling…

        • NoMoreEvil, I had the same thing happen. I even wrote him a letter asking him what was wrong, why he was treating me this way. I remember writing, ‘Is it the weight I’ve put on? What is it? Why aren’t you happy?’ It was just baffling. But it was the beginning of the devalue and discard phase. He claimed that he just wanted to get on a motorcycle and drive away, do his own thing, blah, blah, blah. Even told me that he’d thought long and hard about just leaving everything behind and going out on the open road. I wish he would have done that instead of cheated on me. But of course, the affair was going on before we had that conversation.

          Now? He’s got more responsibility than he did with me. Shacking up with the 13-year-younger whore and her three little kids. Truly baffling.

          • Oh wow that triggered a memory of a similar conversation with ex cheater right before i found out the truth. He mentioned that may there was “greener pastures out there” or something..and I knew he was getting ready to leave and there was no stopping him. So I simply said to him, “If you leave, you’ll regret it.” His response was, “Is that a threat?” Such a weird and unexpected response. So I said, “No that wasn’t a threat. I truly think you’ll regret that decision”. He thought I was planning to hurt him like he was about to do to me and our son.

            • Oh sheesh…

              “Is that a threat?” What a buffoon to say that. And you’re absolutely right. He WILL regret it. Maybe not today or tomorrow or next month or next year, but he WILL regret it. I know my ex will. He will wake up one morning and go, “What the fuck did I do to my life?”

            • I remember tellling the asshat he’d regret his cheating & blaming shifting. His response was “it’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

              • What an ASS. Good grief!!! It’s a risk that he will most definitely regret. The karma bus will hit him and he’ll look back to that conversation and feel like a fool

    • It really is terrifying, isn’t it JC? When Mr. Sparkles was “done” he became the creepiest person you could imagine meeting. He leered when he made remarks. He stayed out until early morning, coming in as his teen children were leaving for high school. He strutted. And his eyes were black pools of nothingness. YET – when he spoke of the OW and how “he didn’t think he could feel this way again” – I could visibly see the mask go on.

      If you haven’t lived it, you can’t know. I’m so glad for CN and CL… I’m reminded daily that I am not crazy. And, being free from the psychopath (though co-parenting for 7 more years), is like awakening from a horrible, horrible nightmare and feeling relief… pure relief.

  • Empowering post! Spot on about the wayward spouse having a double life, the feelings of shame of the one left behind, etc. So eerily comparative to the abandonment inflicted upon me by my STBX (aka the personification of pure evil) who I now realize is a sociopathic narcissist. After 25 years together, my husband “ghosted” me. He completely disposed of me and our life together and while my bath towel was still damp hanging upon the shower hook, he moved his AP into our rental home with him. He has cut ties with all of our family members (including his own) and our collective friends simply creating a new life for himself utterly devoid of even the material possessions of the past quarter century (he left all of his clothing, Blu-rays, etc. behind in our primary residence). He became seduced by the materialistic world portrayed in television and film and the affluent areas of Southern California where he sells real estate. He “upgraded” to the lifestyle of his new social circle of his perpetually partying twenty-something “friends” (he’s 42). His new life consists of gym posts on social media as an attempt to collect “likes”, late nights at swanky clubs (where he pays the tab for the parasites he thinks are his “bros”), excessive gambling, binge drinking, and flaunting his adultery all over town. The AP has identical character disorder symptoms and an nonexistent moral compass which somewhat “explains” how she too can be so callous and self-absorbed. (She drunk dials me and her former fiancé on a regular basis). I am looking forward to reading Jen’s book as I’m expect it will be cathartic and inspiring for me. When I scraped what was left of me off the floor several weeks following D-Day, I scoured the internet for resources for recovering from being so heinously discarded. This topic is almost non-existent as most infidelity literature, support services, etc. all relates to deciding whether to salvage the relationship. I’m finally embracing the reality that having no choice in the matter (whether to stay together or not) is actually the universe’s way of protecting me as I probably would have pursued the wreckonciliation route which ultimately would have inflicted even further emotional abuse and suffering on me. Although I’m still in the “FUCK NO” stage of the possibility of becoming involved with another man ever again, I do feel that there are still good trustworthy people existing in the world as evidenced by the individuals who have stepped up when my husband stepped out, including fellow chumps whom have shown me more empathy and compassion than he ever was capable of displaying or ever will be. Thanks CL & CN!

    • I agree that having no choice in reconciliation is a blessing in disguise. I would have reconciled and it would have been a disaster. In my case I was given a glimmer of hope at the beginning and thought if I worked at it hard enough I could save my marriage. That glimmer of hope was never real, however. That was just STBX’s way of pretending that he tried to save his marriage before running away from the clusterfuck he had created. Now I am coming to grips with the fact that I am better off without him, but getting over the devalue and discard is still tough even if I don’t want him back.

    • ” It was like my brain and my heart were at war”. My brain is catching up but it is still hard.

      Still I rise, so sorry for you. Common theme that Peter Pan syndrome and never growing up. And their craving of the sparkly life- where does it come from? At some point I guess you just have to stop thinking about it.

      Last night I heard the story about stbx planning his up coming 50th- of course it is about him and he has been talking about it for years- something I don’t get. He will be having a party at his house (don’t know who will come besides schmoopie but I am sure it will be interesting). Then he and schnoopie will head to Florida where they will ride his Harley to New Orleans stopping at some always wanted to go to bars along the way. Truly so glad that is her not me. Maybe she will enjoy it. From unnamed sources I heard he was inviting a couple of his 20 something friends and their significant others. Their response: we don’t have motorcycles. All I can say is FREAK!

      I don’t know if I am off the crazy train or not. Maybe I am just watching it do circles!

    • I too had no choice in the matter, and though it really was hurtful at the time, in the long run, I think it was a blessing that he had zero interest in me and left me out of the blue without looking back…

      I am looking forward to buying and reading this book. And another memoir I enjoyed (is that even the right word…I felt like she “got it” because she’d lived a similar thing) was Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies. I am glad that books that share what this is like are making it out there in the world!

      • Yes LiningUpDucks, sometimes I feel like I’m living in a one of those scripted reality television shows! OW’s former fiancée told me that OW craves drama and that being ignored is essentially her krptonite. Therefore, each time she drunk dials, emails, etc. (which has been MULTIPLE times since D-Day), I never answer or reply (which has required superhuman restraint on my part to say the least). I have since blocked her, although I do somewhat miss the morbid comic relief aspect of wondering what ridiculous thing she’ll say next. During her last voicemail, (prior to the block), she slurred about wondering if my STBX and I would get back together. I felt like screaming, “Being that you’re living with him in OUR RENTAL HOME, that is highly unlikely!!!” OW is clearly a sadist as it takes a truly demented mindset to rub your poaching in the face of the betrayed spouse. My husband’s voice has been heard in the background on some of these calls too which indicates he is condoning (and is a party to) this emotionally abusive behavior. I received one of these calls on Valentine’s Day which was already painful and devastating enough for me as it was the first in 25 years which I was not spending with my husband.

        • Oh my goodness, good call to block her poaching, dunk ass.

          Not that it should be surprising at this point, but from what you’ve shared about her drunk-dialing rants, it seems like she has some pretty deep insecurities about you. All’s not well in paradise if she’s calling you up on V-day.

    • Still I Rise – your EX sounds similar to mine, who is also 42 and now spends whole weekends partying with his 20-something & early 30s friends. When he left, he told me he needed to be more social and that he was concerned about his happiness (nevermind that I had cancer at the time).

      The thing that gets me through it, is knowing he will never find happiness. He thinks it is being the life of the party at the bar, thinking he is some great philosopher, while slurring his words. Ugh, the thought of it just grosses me out. He has no idea what happiness is.

    • This is fascinating. I live in the East side of Los Angeles and when we make fun of the West side of Los Angeles, it’s for the behavior you are describing in your post. Vanity, self-centeredness, ostentatiousness, the works. So gross. He sounds so empty and hollow. I’m so relieved you got away from him and can now spend the rest of your precious life with real people with real emotions and real humanity – not that faux kind you see on Instagram. You win!

    • StillIRise – my husband discarded me too for a much younger woman – he’s 40 and she’s in her 20’s. It seems now he is only interested in partying, drinking, going to the gym and screwing the 20 something year old. It’s like he just decided he doesn’t want to be an adult anymore. And from what I know about her she is in to drugs/alcohol has mental problems – was stalking him when he ended his affair with her to come back to me bc he supposedly loved me, missed me, showed remorse. He told me all these horrible things about her and that he knew she was wrong for him/he would never introduce her to our son. And then he went back to her a couple months ago and she called to tell me bc he never would have left. I threw him out right away and am filing for divorce! She did me a favor bc I deserve better!!!! I don’t understand how he was able to act like the doting/amazing husband and family man while he was having the affair! It’s sickening the double life he was able to live! Now he claims she changed for him and he’s in love with her/they are planning their future. People don’t change with all those issues! She can have him but I am concerned about when he inteoduces her to our son bc of all her problems!!!! Ugh!!!!

      • Be patient, they will implode, seriously. I will pray it happens before he introduces your precious child. Those issues dont dissapear, and dont be caught off guard when he shows up on your doorstep in the aftermath. You are heading into the light, keep moving, one boot at a time.

        • Yep. They will implode. Mine has imploded more than once, and tries to change, but always, always reverts back to what he is. As my therapist said, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

          • Yes!!! My therapist told me the same. She also is the one who helped me understand that which was incomprehensible and to really truly understand it had zero to do with me. That was a very difficult place to get to. We are good people, and the disordered know what type of person they need to live life according to their needs. I used to bash the crap out of myself, but I refuse to become someone I am not. I am not going to become mean spirited because I was hurt by a narc POS. Sure I have scars, always will, but everyday is one day further away from my nightmare and for that, I am grateful. I believe in not looking back, but since finding this site, I have been able to heal some things that have lingered. In doing that, looking back has been necessary, but a necessary evil to heal. Its a process.

            • Totally get it! Looking back and connecting some of the dots has been immensely helpful to me. I learned that this man has been this way our whole marriage and that his cheating had *nothing* to do with me. And amazingly enough, he actually told me that. But I know that he told his whore that I made his life a living hell (my sleuthing uncovered that much) so who knows if he was being genuine in his “apology” to me? But anyway, I love your attitude. No, we are not going to become mean-spirited! Though I will admit, if/when the karma bus hits, I won’t be above a few evil laughs. LOL.

              • Haha, hell ya. I used to fantasize about his driving his truck on an overpass and it collapsing…lost a feather in my angel wings for that one, im sure!!

  • As a fellow chump who uncovered my XH’s double life with my infant daughter on my hip, I’m looking forward to reading this book. And you’re right — being both parents is hard but it’s also “so freaking satisfying and empowering.” Not to mention, many things are a hundred times easier without a sociopath standing over your shoulder. I’ll take single motherhood any day over that mess. I applaud you on having the courage to tell your story, Jen! ?

    • That is one of my biggest frustrations. I do have to co-parent with the fuckwit. I can’t make unilateral decisions on some things (what depression medications/dosages she gets) and I have to put up with his constant complaints of everything that is wrong with the children and what I need to be doing differently to fix it. Sometimes I get so frustrated by that. If I don’t get the good stuff from him anymore why do I still have to put up with the bas stuff? Of course I could just ignore him, but that isn’t always possible as we have joint custody and I am legally bound to consider his opinions on some things. Also, he isn’t always wrong in his notions of what is best for the kids (I agree that the boys spend too much time on screens and my daughter does spend too much time in her bed and doesn’t sleep/eat right etc.), but the insinuation that it is my fault because I am not being tough enough on them is irritating. I would rather persuade and present alternatives then force. It takes longer to show results, but is ultimately the better solution in my opinion and it reduces the likelihood of more extreme forms of rebellion. If going to bed later than she should and watching too much Netflix is the extend of my teenage daughter’s rebellion, that really isn’t so bad.

      • Don’t take his crap to heart! Sounds like my Stbx- claims he made rules and I didn’t enforce them. Please, these fuckwits are the problem not the solution. They can criticize all day long but as stbx always said “they are as useless as tits on a bull!”

      • I’m sorry you have to coparent with the fuckwit. Mine pretty much stays out of the picture even though I’ve begged him to be a father to our daughter. And yes, if your daughter’s rebellion is as bad as watching Netflix and staying up late, you are blessed! It could be SO much worse.

        I also think that your kids are probably dealing with the divorce and their father being out of the house in different ways which is contributing to behavior issues or activities. It’s their way to cope.

        And NO, it is NOT your fault. Children do have a mind of their own. I had two stepsons from ex’s first marriage to take care of when we got married 18 years ago and I tried like hell to steer them on the right path. But it just didn’t work. You can’t control them. You can impose consequences, discipline, etc., but it doesn’t always work. You are doing the best you can do right now while having to deal with your stupid ex.

      • Considering his opinion is not the same thing as deferring to his opinion. It’s fine and reasonable to consider his input and then make the best decision possible based on the information you have. That might br the same as what he wants, and it might not.

        I agreed to consider my ex’s input on selecting healthcare plans. He provided input, but he failed to persuade me that the cheapest option was the best option. So I went with the more expensive but better quality health insurance, much to his annoyance. Other times he’s had a reasonable point and I agreed.

        Input is not veto power.

      • I feel for you, @chumpinrecovery! And I agree with @Free Vix: “Considering his opinion is not the same thing as deferring to his opinion.” I also have to, eh, “co-parent,” if you can call it that. Hope I didn’t give the impression that XH actually went fully away after the divorce (though that would have been awesome). I just meant that life was infinitely better without him physically there all the time, breathing down my neck, and me having to walk on eggshells around his fragile moods and ego.

        My XH told me he didn’t want to be in a family anymore, and that even though he had tried really hard to love our daughter, he just couldn’t. About a week later, I had my first d-day. Later, after my 2nd d-day when I was pursuing a divorce, he finally talked to a lawyer and ZAP! Suddenly decided he *did* love our daughter, and that she was the most important thing to him in the world, and blah blah blah all this made-up garbage that is just plain fake. So now my small child has to endure visitation with XH, every other weekend and every Wed. night, even though he wanted nothing whatsoever to do with her when he actually lived in our house. lolololol wut? The world doesn’t make sense, y’all.

        Anyway, I only have one child and she doesn’t have any medications, so it sounds like I have it much easier than you. But I’ve stuck to CL’s decrees about co-parenting with a fuckwit. I’m gray rock, and if anything needs to be discussed it’s matter-of-factly via email. He’s the kind of Disney Dad though who has no idea about the real parenting decisions that need to be made day-in and day-out, so I just make those decisions and carry on. He had no idea who her doctor is (never been to the doctor with her since the week of her birth), what her dosages are for medications, what her insurance is, etc. etc. (being the inconsiderate piece of garbage he is, who’s just using her to appear like a Charming, Good Dad and not actually taking care of her) until I printed out a reference sheet for him in case she falls ill while staying at his house. When he snatched my kid from my doorstep and drove her away while drunk, you better believe I called the police immediately.

        So basically, co-parenting sucks, and having him involved in ANY way is 100% not what I would want. But (1) being gray rock, (2) documenting everything, and (3) not being afraid to call the cops if the custody order is being violated have all made things bearable. I cling to those things for dear life, and heck, the kid is happy and healthy as far as I can tell. I just grin and bear the garbage, and hope that the time she’s forced to spend with him doesn’t damage her too much. It’s the best I can do.

        You’re doing the best you can do, and you’re doing great. Remember that you weren’t dealt a full deck in terms of having what many people have — a supportive husband who’s not a piece of garbage. So you’re doing great anyway, with what you’ve been dealt. Making the best of it. Since your kids probably don’t say it (at least right now), I’ll say it — thank you for doing that. Thank you for being the sane parent.

        • The good news and the bad news for me is that he actually does care about his kids even if he has no idea how to connect to them emotionally.

          • I used to think my ex cared about our daughter. I mean, he tells me that he loves her and tells her that he loves her…but I don’t know. He will text her sometimes, but he doesn’t take the time to come and see her, to take her out to dinner or spend time with her. Instead, he gets mad because she refuses to go see him at his new place he’s sharing with the whore. Uh…she doesn’t WANT to meet the whore considering she saw enough of her when she found the nude photos of the whore on her iPad! He’s utterly clueless. Such a child. I do think he loves her – but he has zero idea how to show her. He’s always been about words instead of actions.

  • “I chalked it up to the fact that he had a new job”
    “the hours were very late and long and (I believed) he was just insanely overworked and overtired. But I also remember him posting kind of weird, out of the ordinary, pictures to his social media for the first time. He posted a couple of quotes, like “inspirational” but really strange”

    Ditto here. STBX started posting music to his FB, I’ll never forget the first one “You can’t always get what you want.” When questioned, he attributed it to his job, just like all the other deception surrounding him. He also started talking about getting a tattoo (which he had previously said he’d never do). All of these things that had my gut SCREMING, but I had learned to ignore because of the constant years of lying, misinformation, omissions, “my” misunderstanding, etc. Once the cat was out of the bag and there was no plausible deniability, the mask slipped.

    I’m looking forward to reading this book! Like so many others, my life with a cheater also unfolded like a mystery. I also plan on writing about my experience, but I’m waiting until the divorce is final… no way is he getting any intellectual property rights.

    • Smart thinking to make sure you won’t share any future intellectual property rights with your ex!

    • My ex started posting a bunch of weird stuff on social media too. A whole bunch of inspirational quotes about “spreading her wings” and “living her authentic life” and pictures of her hanging all over other guys (which somehow she’d get all mad at me if I confronted her about them).

      I mean, how exactly are you “living your authentic life” if you’re lying to your spouse on a daily basis, hiding money, and sleeping with other women’s husbands? Is there some inspirational quote for that kind of behavior somewhere out there that I missed?

      It really is just them living in a total delusion.

      • Well, obviously she is “authentically” a liar and a cheater, and be behaving like a good person wasn’t being true to herself.

    • I totally get that whole mask thing. I was completely naive and trusting, then on DDay the mask came off. He was an alien in his own skin, with cold flat eyes. He was cruel and cold. I did not recognize this man at all. Then when he talked about the OW he was another person again. What the fuck is that? I am one person – me, not always the best me but always me. I can’t understand this at all. I am working on just accepting… Not at meh yet, long way to go.
      Buying the book.

    • The tattoo, trying to dig more into his childhood (narc father, submisive/passive-aggressive mother), picking up hobbies and trying to assign other life goals…

      I chalked some of this stuff up to trying to get a grasp on his life (I mean, who isn’t?) and/or work stress.

      I recall seeing the Edgar Suit (Men In Black) analogy here before…it was like his was coming apart and he was struggling to make something “meaningful” happen/stick in his life. Then it all came out. I wish he had just disappeared. The anti-reconcilation period (i.e. can-we-have-sex-now? …a follow up to the can-we-have-sex-now? period following the birth of our daughter) was just too much. True self and “values” revealed. I have to co-parent as well. He gets to play dad sometimes, while I continue to do the heavy lifting. Not much has changed, except he doesn’t have to face me or what he did and he can freely troll for women–er, I mean work on himself.

      • I saw the Edgar Suit, too. He was cold and distant. It was baffling. I wish mine had just disappeared, too.

    • I must have been dense not to see mine trot out some strange musings leading up to the diabolical discard… he would sit on the couch with me …holding hands watching tv and wonder out loud…”ive never lived on my own in all these years ” (married 21 years 3 kids and hot together young ) i replied …we did live on our own(seperately) at uni…lived away from home shared accom etc…. so here i am trying to give an honest conversation around thus out of the blue topic and his reality was he was breaking up with me !! He really imagined by putting it out there about living on his own was hint enough that he was out. Disordered doesnt even touch how in their own heads these people are !?

  • Yes, a complete double life. Who does that?! Oh yeah, a disordered, pathological, narcissist. Thank you both for sharing your story of despair and recovery with others!

    I was just listening to an interview with Barbara Bentley who wrote Dance with the Devil after she survived her husband’s attempt on her life and then worked to change divorce laws in CA. Inspiring!

  • July 11th (today) is my seared date – 7 months for me. As a gift to myself, I just ordered the book!! I am hoping Jen’s story gives me the courage I need to take her advice “go back and examine what drew you to that person.” I am not sure what my stumbling block is not to engage in this hard work; maybe I am not ready?? I am not interested in dating… actually it is terrifying to think about, but being single forever is not something I see for myself. In a awkward way I am thinking that fixing my picker might mean that I have to pick again – does that make sense? “Be gentle, be gentle, be gentle.” My new mantra.

    • LettingGo, I am in the same boat and know exactly what you mean. I can’t imagine trying to be in a relationship with anyone in that way for a long time, but thinking about resigning myself to remaining single forever makes my heart hurt (although maybe I will be for a while by default since I have a toddler and it’s not like I have the time). It’s true — you won’t know the picker is fixed until you pick again…scientific method kind of thing. Maybe as a baby step, try implementing on other people/relationships in your life (i.e. friends). I am thinking this is the way it will go for me for a while…

  • Everyone who knows me says I need to write a book. I’ve read of stories here that to me are far worse than mine….and my Ex framed me and put me in jail. He did the crazy making. He had been setting me up for months….years even. While sitting in jail…I’d read books and think my story has more twists and turns.
    I’m almost afraid to write. I have 2 full boxes of “rantings”. I wrote feverishly while in jail. I know it takes 3 to 4 days of writing before an ink pen runs out of ink. I’d fill legal tablets front and back……
    I’m afraid to go back to where my mind was….where my heart was. Like Jen says, the two are at war. I was sitting in a county jail still trying to wrap my head around what he did to me….our daughters. My daughters had to go back home to live with him while I was in jail for 10 months. He poisoned their minds against me.
    I know I’m safe now…. but boy do the triggers come.
    Congratulations Jen on your book.

    • Write it, Tracy. You do have a horrific story, and already have pages and pages of raw writing. Tell us when you finish!

    • I feel like I am going mad just having to co-parent with someone who at least pretends to be nice and remains a monster secretly. I can’t even imagine the torture you went through. Hugs, Tracy. I say write that book when you’re ready.

      • I will probably need your advice. Final court date is coming up. We have 3 kids and much co-parenting to come with this man who has been leading a double life for so many years (if not all) of our twelve-year marriage. Super charming and deceptive.

    • I’m with you Tracy. I wrote furiously in journals – just had to get it all out of my head and sort through it. Without a doubt, doing so kept me sane on many days as I would re-read and re-read what had happened and what was happening.

      Memories lie, journals don’t.

      It has been over a year since I used them or read them. I’m afraid to now lest it might trigger me. But like you, at some point, I want to own my story.

      • I actually went back and looked at all my journals from my marriage and it helped me tremendously. I had forgotten so much. I had multiple entries where I said I’d had enough, that I couldn’t live like this anymore. I was able to spot that he was a narcissist from those entries and connect the dots. So much makes sense now. The spackling. The abuse. The lying and manipulation.

        Reading those journals was a lifesaver for me as it reminded me that this horrible tragedy needed to happen to get me away from this toxic man. I clung onto that marriage with everything I had and I would still be in it if ex hadn’t cheated. So even though it still hurts and it was a horrific experience to go through, I am now free from him.

        I’ve already filled one journal since my marriage imploded and am close to filling a second one. I don’t want to read those for a few years because like you, it will trigger me. But after awhile, I might turn the whole thing into a novel (I’m a novelist and also write non-fiction).

  • I wish more of us who’ve uncovered these traumatizing double lives would have come forward sooner. 11/24/2011 was my d-day. I was six months pregnant with our third child when I discoverd his hidden email account that he kept since 2006. All the details and different women were suddenly all in black and white. I couldn’t find the right help. All the sex addiction therapists tried to normalize the behavior and asked for me to take half the blame for his “double life”.
    I finally found the right help with a domestic violence center & with some trauma based therapy I’ve been able to work on recovery. It has been a long painful road. The biggest hindrance was the lack of resources at the time for recovery. I had no understanding of narsissistic abuse, borderline personality disorder, gas lighting, or emotional abuse. We need to help pave the way for women who felt as lost, alone, & ashamed as I did. Help educate one another to spot those red flags and follow our gut. There is some comfort in not being alone in all the confusion.

  • “I went through a long period of cognitive dissonance where I technically understood that my husband very likely was on the psychopathy spectrum, had no empathy and our entire relationship was a lie, but I could not feel it. It was like my brain and my heart were at war.”

    YES. My brain knows that my ex-douchebag is a narcissist and a psychopath/sociopath (not really sure which) but my heart is having a terrible time catching up to my brain. It’s like it doesn’t want to admit that this is who he really is, that I bought into his manipulation hook, line, and sinker. I also have a hard time realizing that he is smart enough to be this manipulative. I can’t reconcile the man that I knew with who he really is. I think that’s why I kept trying to get him to realize the immense hurt and damage he caused, but it’s like I’m speaking to a brick wall. I’ve caught glimpses of empathy here and there, and he has apologized, but yet, he still doesn’t get it. He still wants our daughter to go out to his new place that he shares with the whore, and she absolutely refuses, and he doesn’t get why. There’s a disconnect in his brain.

    I know the brain and the heart will get in tune one day, but right now, they’re still fighting. I’m working on the “trust that they suck” but then I remember all the great things he did for me. But was it for kibbles? Was he really being genuine? I don’t know anymore.

    • Hey Keepin Calm,

      I feel and have felt the same as you: disbelief. Yes, Chump Lady’s phrase, “Trust that they suck,” really does help, but here are some other thoughts and concepts from Chump Lady that have helped me come to grips with his being so evil, when I thought he was my man:

      — we project on our good qualities onto them and those qualities really aren’t there in him (you’ll see, if you haven’t already, that your cheater projects his evil qualities onto you)

      — No Contact is just damn good medicine. For one, it clears your heart and spirit of his bad vibe. When his bad vibe is gone, your own heart starts to feel your own feelings, like anger, fear, sorrow — all very healing feelings

      — Then, with No Contact, you’ll be coasting along, with your own emotional equilibrium, and something totally shit-tastic that he did will surface. You’ll be able to deal, because of your own self-generated calm, BUT you won’t allow it because of your own self-generated strength. You get clarity with No Contact

      • QueenMother, thank you so much. I’ve adopted the “No contact” and it has been wonderful. I only communicate with the ex via email using a strictly business and professional tone. He still has his crap in my garage and my basement and he’s been gone for six months, always with the, “I’ll get to it.” Well, I finally had my lawyer send him a “get it out in the next 10 days or you’ll be in contempt of court.” So he CALLS me at 4:30 a.m. yesterday! I didn’t answer the phone. I refuse to talk to him because I knew the conversation would be horrible.

        I also feel that I’ve projected my good qualities onto him since the beginning of our marriage in 1999. I went through YEARS of that. I kept journals the entire time we were marriage and when I went back and read them, I forgot all the things he’d done to me. One of them was that six weeks after I had my hysterectomy, he tried to have sex with me and I had not yet been cleared by my doctor. He said, “Oh, you’ll be fine, the stitches have healed.” I was absolutely appalled and refused to let him do it. He was upset at me, but I didn’t care. How could I have lived with a man like this? Thank God for my therapist. She’s helped me to try and understand.

        • Ugh, my X kept putting pressure on me after our daughter was born (I also had stitches and was otherwise in the process of everything healing). Six weeks was the rule of thumb, but the doctor said (and he was there for it) that it’s only a rule of thumb and it depends on how you’re feeling. It seems like their main goal is just getting off, regardless of all else. Turned out he was doing just fine on his own (prostitutes), so what did it matter that wife appliance was currently out of order?

          • There were SO many times I had sex with him just because I knew it would calm him down (he had WAY too much testosterone). I wouldn’t be in the mood but I did it because I knew he’d act better afterwards. How INSANE is that???

            • Keepin Calm, I’m so sorry. Sounds like your husband never had any regard for your well being and it was all about his needs. And you likely went along with it, because you were a good person and wanted to make sure he was taken care of. But your husband didn’t feel nor treat you the same way. I can’t believe he pressured you to have sex after you had a major organ removed. I want to kick him in the teeth.

              • Thanks, Kellia. Thing is, he was Jekyl and Hyde – sometimes he’d say, “Well, we’re not going to have sex if you’re not in the mood” and then I would feel guilty, but I thought, at least he’s respecting me. But was he really? He’d get frustrated that I wasn’t in the mood a lot (I have rheumatoid arthritis and during the marriage it got REALLY bad – now I feel so much better!) and then I’d feel guilty for not being in the mood. It was a horrible game with no winners.

                I just don’t know who he really is. Did he have my best interests at heart at least some of the time? I think so. I don’t think he was a 100% bastard. But I was so confused during the whole marriage, wondering if I was overreacting to stuff because he’s always say, “Oh, you think too much” or “Calm down” or “Don’t take it so seriously.” So now I feel all sorts of whacky, like I can’t trust my own memory.

                Oh – and I would give you permission to kick him in the teeth for sure! 🙂

              • Keepin, He was never being nice. He wanted you to feel guilty for not being “in the mood” whenever he wanted it regardless of the circumstances. I got the same from STBX. He made a show of being a considerate lover because he wanted me to enjoy it, but at the same time he was frustrated that I wasn’t always in the mood. If I just did it to please him, however, that was worse. I had to want it and enjoy it all of the time. I felt like it was a test every time we made love to prove how much I loved it. Part of the test was having to want it at inconvenient times. If I wasn’t willing to be late for events or let the kids go to school late or without breakfast, or if I couldn’t be instantly horny after being awakened from a deep sleep, or if it was difficult to climax in an awkward position or location, then I just didn’t want him enough. He thought I got my period every month on purpose so I could have an excuse to not be “in the mood”. The thing is, I would have loved it if I hadn’t always felt so under pressure to love it. It sounds like your STBX is similar. They are just selfish jerks who don’t get how their own actions and demands play such a big role in their own disappointment.

              • chumpinrecovery:

                OMG. That is my ex EXACTLY. I feel so much better now after reading your story. THANK YOU for sharing.

                He would also ask me why I didn’t climax all the time, wondering if he wasn’t sexy enough, etc. He’d always want me to climax first and I’d have all this pressure on me and when I couldn’t do it, sometimes he’d pout and say, “Well, then I’m not going to climax either because I want you to be satisfied.” And then I’d feel guilty again!

                And this: “the thing is, I would have loved it if I hadn’t always felt so under pressure to love it.” YES. THIS. A thousand times this!

            • Keepin’ Calm: Did you ever think your rheumatoid arthritis was caused by his constant devaluing of you? I mean his comments weren’t very loving. To tell you to calm down, don’t take it so seriously or you think too much, these aren’t nice comments at all but rather very dismissive and unsupportive. And you even feel better now that you’re not in his presence. I mean, he may have been the cause you weren’t feeling well, which lead you to not be in the mood to have sex with him. He doesn’t seem like a kind or caring person. At least, from what I read. I could be wrong, I’m sure he has other nice traits, which lead you to stay married to him, but he may have been the cause you got sick in the first place. Big hugs to you.

              • Kellia, I think you’re 100% right. I do feel that I got sick because of him. I was under an unbelievable amount of stress in my marriage. He was very dismissive of me in some ways, but not others. I always thought he treated me great while I was having flare-ups, but now I don’t know. Like I said, I think my memory is playing tricks on me.

                But for him to devalue me and discard me…it’s like others have said: someone flipped a switch on him. He spent less and less time with me, more time out with his friends drinking, and now I know he was spending time with the whore, too. It hurt so bad when I found out because I had grown to rely on him with my illness – and that he would leave me while I was sick just cut me to the bone.

                I don’t know what happened to him. But I think he was that person all along. He just put up a good front for a long time. I don’t even know what was real and what wasn’t anymore because now I question everything he said and did. I know he lied to me – a lot.

                Thanks for the hugs! 🙂

              • I absolutely think my autoimmune disorders are a result of my unhappiness and stress the last several years of the marriage.

              • AuntieMame, yes. Stress is the worst thing for autoimmune disorders because it releases the cortisol hormone and screws everything up. I have a feeling I’m going to be feeling a lot better in the coming months – and I really, really hope you do, too!

              • Thank you! I already do. It’s a miracle. A week after he left, I started sleeping again. About a month after, I could feel the difference in my body and my afternoon fatigue went away. It’s not perfect and I have flare-ups, but it’s much better.

                I wish the same for you.

              • AuntieMame, I’m so, so happy for you!!! I still have flare-ups, too, but I’m much more active now and my head feels clearer, my body stronger.

              • I must have been dense not to see mine trot out some strange musings leading up to the diabolical discard… he would sit on the couch with me …holding hands watching tv and wonder out loud…”ive never lived on my own in all these years ” (married 21 years 3 kids and hot together young ) i replied …we did live on our own(seperately) at uni…lived away from home shared accom etc…. so here i am trying to give an honest conversation around thus out of the blue topic and his reality was he was breaking up with me !! He really imagined by putting it out there about living on his own was hint enough that he was out. Disordered doesnt even touch how in their own heads these people are !?

            • Not insane. Similar experience here. We joked (at the time) that it was like hitting a reset button for him. His depression, stress, etc. just melted away. Little did I know what a drug it actually was for him and there was nothing I could (or, eventually, wanted to) do to fill that unfillable void.

              • That’s a perfect way to describe it – like hitting a reset button. Mine was the same. He was just calmer and easier to live with.

              • Sometimes I felt that STBX just needed to get laid and he would be less grumpy so I should seduce him. Alas, it is hard to feel like seducing someone who is complaining to you about everything you are doing wrong and everything that is wrong with the way you look, dress, etc. I didn’t have enough self esteem left to seduce anybody at that point even though I thought it might help if I could.

            • Same issues here with my chronic pain and illnesses. I had Vulvodynia due to neuropathy and he didn’t care that I was in pain, only that his physical wants weren’t being met even though I complied and suffered as a result. He has even said he thought I was faking my pain to get out of intimacy! Understanding that he is a manipulative liar is the it answer that makes any sense. Why would I lie about being in pain 24 hours a day for years? No one wants that; they have it to bear anyway.

              Hugs to you as I feel my pain and illnesses are a result of his treatment of me as well.

              • This hits home for me as we. I have severe neuropathy and chronic nerve pain due to an autoimmune disease and also PTSD. I KNOW it resulted from all the lying and billabong he put me through.

        • After my husband sat together in the hospital room and my oncologist came in to give me the information that my cancer had spread, I finally had a moment alone with my husband to talk about it. The first thing my husband said after I was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer was, “Well, there goes our sex life!”. Seriously. Then a few days later when I came out of radiation he presented me with a book he had picked up from a volunteer of the hospital who was bringing around a little library for patients who needed some entertainment. The book title I don’t remember exactly but it was about how to manage your sexuality during cancer. For real?! I get it – sex is a part of marriage. But we had maintained a sex life even during chemotherapy in the past. That was telling. In prioritizing what mattered in that moment of finding out I would be losing my life to cancer, my husband chose the loss of potential daily sex over the loss of the life of his wife. I had blocked it out but it happened and that was what you might call a pretty big “tell”.

          • Words cannot express how loathsome your ex is. I am so sorry you had to deal with that on top of everything else.

            Ordered the Kindle version of this book (prefer hard copy but couldn’t wait! ). Looking forward to diving in tonight and reviewing layer. ☺

          • I am so, so, SO sorry you had to deal with such a flaming asshole. What an evil monster he was for saying that to you. You are well rid of him.

          • That is just pure evil. So did you beat the cancer after all? I sure hope so. I don’t know your whole story.

            • Thanks, guys. I wish I could tell you that my cancer was cureable but it’s not. I’m still in treatment and doing okay. My ex is no longer amongst the living. That I never could have seen that coming!

          • It’s amazing that he could think such a thing, much less say it.

            So sorry you had to live through that.

    • I don’t really think that psychopaths as a group are that smart . They just prey on what they see as “weaknesses” of normal humans like trust, empathy, love, etc. They mimic what they think will work. It’s easy to beat others when you are playing by a set of secret “rules “, ie, no rules at all.

      • As an example, it was easy for x to lie to me about where he’d been.

        He got off work at 6, maybe later. It’s a 30 minute drive home. I get off work at 4. After working a full day, picking up child, taking care of child, fixing dinner, am I looking at the clock thinking “It’s 7:54, wonder if husband has stopped at some whore’s house on the way home?”. No, I am thinking maybe I can eat some dinner, and put my child to bed, and get some sleep after this 14 hour day, then do it again tomorrow”. That’s what I’m thinking.

      • Anita, I think you’re right. He really lacked common sense (and good manners and a whole host of other things) and so I have trouble with the idea that he was a master of manipulation, like he could map all of this out like those cop dramas where they have the pictures and the strings connecting people, etc. Or maybe I’m projecting my values onto him again because I have such a hard time realizing there are truly manipulative, evil people on this planet – and worse, that I married one.

        • I am sure my STBX is completely clueless and has no idea what a manipulative selfish jerk he really is. He is too self focused to be calculating which would require him to think about and study others. He just acts based on his emotions of the moment.

          • I think our exes are TWINS. Last time I had a conversation with ex, he said, “I don’t think, I just do.” Obviously, as you moved in with the whore and her three little kids even though you never wanted to babysit our future grandchildren because you “don’t like kids.”

            • Mine desperately wanted kids, resented me for not having more than we did, couldn’t handle the ones he had and then complained that I gave them too much attention.

              • Such a disordered ass. They are never satisfied. They lack logic. It’s truly baffling.

    • I can relate to to exactly what you are saying. My heart hasn’t caught up to my brain and I can’t understand who my husband has become. I believe he loves our son and has been a good father but obviously these poor choices impact our son. Also he wants to introduce him to his dangerous girlfriend (alcoholic/drug addict/mental problems but oh she changed for him) when the time is right and have him stay with them when it’s his time with him. He is thinking more about himself than his child’s best intesrests and that is something I completely do not understand!

      • Yep contradiction all round… we had 3 kids in quick sucession loved every minute…but even though he willingly came to the party ie ..made them !! .tried his best to act hard done by to anyone who would listen. So by the time he had indoctrinated everyone we knew (unknown to me until after the dumping ) thst his kids and wife were “suffocating ” poor sausage. It came as a mild surprise tha t he was intending to do the kid thing all over again approaching 50 with yhe AP desipte a 17 yr old vasectomy. Oh well good luck. Your original kids will feel soooo special .

      • Oh, mine is the same. Our daughter is 17 and he wants her to come out to his “new place” that he shares with the whore. Considering our daughter is the one that found the nude photos of the whore on her iPad (which was still synced to the ex’s iPhone), my daughter REFUSES to go to their house. Yet he doesn’t understand why. Uh, because she’s a WHORE who moved her three kids in with you and had no problem breaking up an 18-year-marriage? The whore is just as disordered as my ex is. What a train wreck.

        My ex is CLUELESS when it comes to our daughter. He won’t take the inititative to spend time with her, yet texts her that he “misses her” and crap. Didn’t even get her a birthday present. I used to try to get him to see what his actions were doing to her, but he said, “Quit throwing her in my face.” Uh, okay. That’s guilt rearing it’s ugly head right there, but he doesn’t want to deal with it or what his actions have done to her. I told him his choices have consequences. It’s not my fault that my daughter wants nothing to do with him right now. It’s ALL on him. I no longer try to get him to see the error of his ways. It does no good. I even sent him a heartfelt letter BEGGING him to be a part of our daughter’s life. Crickets. After that I said no more. I will protect my daughter from him in every way I can.

  • When I saw the mask come off, it was the most chilling thing I’ve ever seen. I’ll never forget how he went from someone who looked like he was going to kill himself to looking like the cat who ate the canary.

    And the mirror thing. Wow. That just made so many things click into place. I always knew something wasn’t right and he was mirroring me all this time. And now I’m seeing the changes in him throughout the years and realizing he was mirroring whomever it was he had on the side.

    smh

    • I wonder if the mirroring is to lull the victim into a false sense of security, or because they truly have no real personality of their own (other than the horrors they try to mask)? Looking back, I can see a little of both…leaning toward the latter. You should see his current place…so many things I thoughtfully picked out for our house (i.e. his style is actually mine). Meanwhile, everything except the baby’s furniture is new/my own. How he lives in the middle of all of that stuff and it doesn’t get to him…well, I think we all know why that is…

  • In regards to what attracts us in the first place and red flags I have been trying to sort through that. I was attracted to him because he made me feel loved. He had good manners, he was always polite, he did things for me, he appeared to always be considerate of me and wanting to do nice things for me. He was just as polite and courteous towards my family and friends. He never forgot a birthday or any other holiday etc. He seemed to love me for who I was. This stage lasted 5-7 years, pretty long really. It wasn’t until years into our relationship that I really started to notice his more selfish less considerate side, originally directed at others (I was special) before turning against me (oops, maybe not). He had always seemed insecure and I put a good bit of effort, throughout my marriage, into bolstering his self esteem. The only time I really ever took him to task or showed open disagreement was when he seemed to be disparaging others without cause (missed red flag). When the devalue started, it was gradual and easily construed as grumpiness when he was stressed about other things so it was easy for me to spackle. I have bad days and am sometimes grumpy too after all. He was just moody. I used to think he had PMS because he would be cheerful for a week or two, then grumpy for a week or two. Over time the cheerful periods became shorter and shorter and the grumpy became longer and longer until he was pretty much grumpy and dissatisfied with his life and everyone in it all of the time. Part of why I missed the signs is that it wasn’t just me. He was devaluing everyone and everything in his life. First he discarded his job, then the state he lived in. This is why I was taken off guard when I found out he had decided it was our marriage that was making him so dissatisfied. I knew he was unhappy, but did not realize he was attributing that to our marriage. The deterioration of my marriage was definitely a slow boil. In hindsight there were red flags, but they were subtle and interspersed with good stuff too so I don’t beat myself up too much over missing them. In his case, I don’t think he was always a narcissistic asshole, I think he gradually became one over time. He always had the personality traits that brought him to this point, however. I will look out for that in the future.

    One red flag that was present but I was unable to recognize for what it was when we were still in the courtship phase was how he had treated an ex girlfriend. Of course she was described as having some serious flaws. She visited him while he was spending a year abroad in England. She wanted to spend time shopping, she was upset that things were closed on Christmas, she didn’t embrace STBXs aunt as a friend rather than just his obscure relative, she had promised him sex in her letters and then got cold feet when she arrived. In that getting to know you stage, she seemed like a real bitch. I loved his aunt and I hate shopping and what a complainer to be bothered by things being closed on Christmas (never mind that she had probably invested a lot of money into a rather short visit and wanted to make the most of it). The sex thing should have been a red flag for me as being pressured on that subject had always been an issue for some of my previous relationships. He said he had felt bad for putting some pressure on her in that regard, but after all she had promised. I had a brief thought of “that wasn’t so nice of him”, but you know he was such a great guy otherwise and she was a bitch so spackle. The biggest red flag, however, was when he told me that he deliberately ordered cow brains in the restaurant on Christmas because he was pissed at her and knew it would freak her out. That should have been a tip off to his vindictive nature, but at the time I just thought she deserved it for having been such a grumpy visitor. Also, he was such a good boyfriend because he tried to write her a letter after the visit expressing that he thought perhaps the visit had not gone well and what could they do about it. She never responded and he never saw or heard from her again. Sheesh, what a (I now know smart) bitch. Poor STBX. Well, I would never treat him so horribly.

    • Oh yes, the grumpiness which occurs during the discard phase. It’s so common now when I see it happen to others and when it happened to me. These men quip but I’m depressed, I’m in such a bad mood every day. Gee, that never stopped you before from functioning and now all of a sudden, they are grumpy. But it doesn’t prevent them to get some action on the side. No they’re not too moody for that. Eye roll.

    • Chump in recovery my ex was quite similar to yours I feel and my motivations for being with him like yours as well…with him I felt loved and accepted for who i was and like I could feel like I belonged somewhere. He made a HUGE fuss of me for years and I loved it as I’ve always been the awkward weirdo who never felt like I belonged. It was like a dream come true,wow,SOMEONE ACTUALLY LOVES ME!! The discard was slow and started with small criticisms about me that I tried hard to fix…over time the criticisms grew and became colder,crueller,interspersed with episodes of frightening violent behaviour that I always explained away as “stress” or his FOO issues. As I felt his “love”slipping away i blamed myself utterly for the failure of our relationship and he encouraged that. By the end I was a cringing wreck and my self esteem was trashed. He then abandoned me and his children for one of the other women he’d had lined up. Incidentally it turned out that his discard had REALLY ramped up when he’d started an affair with an employer,which continued for 8 years before I knew :/

      • I was always the awkward weirdo too. I have found, however, that over time us awkward weirdo’s become more appreciated by our peers as they start to recognize us as “unique” rather than weird and awkward. Our idiot spouses not withstanding. They have dematured back to middle school and think replacing us with someone new will help them impress the popular kids.

    • I too heard about my ex’s ex… the one that got away. I often feel so jealous of her. She broke up with him early one and told him she thought “he needed to see more of the world.” I shold have seen that too!! AAHHHHGGG go see the world and leave alone more like it! What was she so smart and I so dumb? Why did she walk away from the fire and I walked straight into it? It’s not a healthy train of thought but I feel like the ex’s are so lucky to avoid the shit we go through.

  • Favorite part of the interview. ” If you try to explain to friend and family what REALLY happened, you end up sounding crazy” (so true)
    I just got divorced Fat Bastard never went with us as a family to my country. Around separation days I told him I never understood why?? (now I know) . Guess what he did? Took OW to meet his family a month after the divorce and still living in my house. When I told someone how evil he is they just said. “He is just showing up his new conquest” no he is a psycho but CN can get it they can not get it! It is difficult to “grasp” since some of this is “mind f@^kery”. Like we said in here it is not just the betrayal is risking: HEALTH, TRUST, FINANCES & WASTING YEARS OF OUR LIFE BECAUSE THEY ARE GREEDY AND LIVING THE DOUBLE LIFE. I will buy this book for sure!

    • People who haven’t been the chump just can’t seem to get it. I have had more than one person tell me cheater must be having a midlife crisis or ask me if it is just a midlife crisis. I should respond his life is an unending crisis.

      If it were a midlife crisis, it would be buy a new car, take a vacation, buy a motorcycle or maybe all 3; but to cheat with strangers and abandon your family, that is disordered.

      • YES. You’re absolutely right. I thought my ex was having a midlife crisis because he was unhappy with his job, our marriage, his life. But yet he had his whore on the side the ENTIRE time.

        Definitely disordered. And I try to remember what CL says: “Don’t envy the disordered.”

      • I believe STBX is having a midlife crisis, but I have also come to the conclusion that midlife crisis only happens to selfish weak minded and emotionally immature people, so there is no reason to feel any sympathy.

        • chumpinrecovery, I also think my ex is having a midlife crisis, too, and during our last conversation, I asked, “So what happened to you just wanting to leave and go out on the open road?” I believe he said, “I still think about it.” So to me that just proves that he has no intention of making it a permanent thing with the whore. He’s using her for the time being, getting his kibbles, getting laid. And screwing up her children (though they are already screwed up as I’ve found out).

          I think you’re right, though, about it only happening to “selfish weak minded and emotionally immature people.”

          We are far better off without them.

    • Yes, the “sounding crazy” part really bothers me. I’m happily at “meh”, but I hate what I sound like when I tell people why I don’t want to be around him or when I run into an old friend who doesn’t yet know that we’re divorced.

      To them, he’s still charming. Or maybe he’s already told them the BS story that we “grew apart”. I just need to figure out the best, most concise way to say that he’s a manipulative, two-faced cheater who can’t be trusted with anything, without coming across as the scorned and bitter ex-wife. LOL

  • The mirroring thing these narcs do is a really a good clue, like the author mentioned. I started to notice new phrases that XH was using that he had never used before, he started to download music secretly, and suddenly certain restaurants/foods that he claimed to have disliked when with me he would mention that he had gone to for lunch. It’s interesting too, that it is also about the same time they start devaluing all your likes and interests that they swore they loved too during the lovebombing stage.

  • This sounds mental but on one occasion Arseface was sitting beside me and suddenly his face changed out of nowhere and his expression became really monstrous,his features twisted and his eyes took on an evil glint.It passed in a flash,so quickly,I almost doubted what I had seen.It was before D day ,before I uncovered his sordid double life,the narcissistic harem,before the callous brutal discard,before I knew anything about sociopathy and the masks these people construct with such skill.Now when I recall that weird moment I realise I was catching a fleeting glimpse of what lay behind the urbane exterior.I was seeing the real him.
    This woman’s story resonates so much with me.I have to buy that book.

    • deedee, there are times I have seriously thought my ex was possessed by a demon. I know that sounds wacky and bizarre, but he would get this look in his eye and it was just pure evil.

      • Dee Dee and Keeping Calm, I don’t think the demon thing sounds mental, or bizarre, at all. I absolutely know I saw one in the x. I never would have believed it myself before that.

        He’d always been selfish and different than the Good Guy he was certain he was. But even in reconciliation, he was not that bad. A jerk, but not evil. Except when it had anything to do with that whore. Then he was NASTY. Talked different, looked different, acted different, WAS different. He acted exactly like my abusive alcoholic first husband acted, without the physical abuse. As you can imagine this way horrible for me. They were just about interchangeable. That’s when I started believing in demons.

        I don’t spread that around in real life but I do believe it. Adultery especially attracts them, I guess. I think the cheating comes first, and that draws them. Not the other way around…

        • I really think you’re right. One of my mother’s friends was very spiritual, and when we asked him to pray for my ex several years ago, he sensed that there was an intense spiritual battle going on in my ex. I completely believe it. There is evil inside him. Hard as it is to write those words, it really is the truth.

  • I just ordered the Kindle digital book via Amazon. Can’t wait to start reading it.

    Looking back, I chose my ex-husband because he was handsome and well-liked and he pursued me. I picked him because he had “potential” and believed he was a good and kind person.

    Fast forward to a month before DDay 2014, we were driving home from a wedding. We were being frisky or maybe it was just me being that way really. During the reception, I tried to kiss him deeply while everyone was partying and dancing and he pushed me away, crinkled his brow and said, “Don’t do that. It’s not classy.” That hurt my feelings. Looking back now, I understand that was part of the discard, the beginning of it. So back to my original story. On the way home, he decided to pull over to a dark road leading to a state park and we got out of the car and had sex. It was exciting to me. But when we got back in the car, I felt that terrible feeling in my stomach. I felt like I’d been used and I felt dirty. It was very strange because I couldn’t imagine why I would feel that way. A month later, it all made sense.

    I had to fix my picker. I had to be alone for a while. I found happiness in that after a long time.

    • conniered , I know what you mean … mine bought me a ticket to finally go back home to see my family (I returned to my home country after 10 years being oversees), it was a short visit, just a week, but when I got back, he would not kiss me “Hello” with the same passion we usually did. That was odd and I remember commenting on it but got brushed off. The love making was also different, making me feel confused and … taken advantage of. My son told me while I was away, ex questioned pretty much everything I did around the hose and … surprise, surprise … everything was done according to him not the way it supposed to … weird at that time, later on it all sadly started to make sense. We are better off without them … peaceful mind is priceless.

  • Jen’s story parallels my own in so many ways.
    The discovery email, his reaction, is pretty much what happened to me.

    I had been pushed by a friend to “snoop, a little, just this once, because something is up with him and he might be cheating on you.” after she’d heard my story about how he was acting.
    He had been picking fights, always busy “with work”, even having to stay over several nights in a hotel, glued to his phone 24/7, putting me down, never having any time for me, sex was non-existant or really bizarre, he couldn’t look me in the eye, he complained about me–and everything about our daily life–constantly, just little, picky things like my leaving a spoon in the sink. His trips to Home Depot would take HOURS.
    Yep. I was a chump all right.
    Because all I did was try and make things easier for him because he was so stressed “with work”.
    Yeah. Riiiiiiiiiiigggggghhhhht.

    I am slow on the uptake, what can I say?

    His deciding to cheat actually never even occurred to me! I wouldn’t have ever cheated, we were a happy couple!
    Plus–the guy had ED ever since we first dated and such a low sex drive, how could such a thing be possible? (Obviously, there is a lot more to that story.)

    The discovery email between him and his Co(dependent)HoWorker (no slight against the lovely salmon species) was found within two minutes of me looking at his inbox. It was not password-protected, because, you know, his wife TRUSTS HIM!

    My heart sank, my stomach churned, and I puked into the handy trash can next to his desk.

    I didn’t know of CL/CN then, I had no idea about “getting my ducks in a row” or protecting myself. I was adrift, devastated, and absolutely furious. My life was a lie. He was a lie.

    There was no way what I’d read could mean anything other than he was in the process of setting up a life with this person. (Or pretending to. Turns out he had no intention of doing so, only stringing her along because otherwise she’d wise up and go back to her young husband and two small children instead of hooking up with him daily. Did I mention that Mrs. “Daddy Issues” was literally young enough to be his granddaughter? Nothing special about her at all, neither in personality, appearance, nor accomplishments. She was just low hanging fruit for him to pluck. He would never have been seen with her in public. She didn’t fit his “image”. I’m sure that was news to her, but she did get the memo, eventually, when she realized he never had any intention of leaving me for her and never would have moved in with/married her. CAKE!!!!)

    I digress….
    I texted him to come home right away, because “something had happened”. He put on a great show of concern about what it could be; “A family emergency? Are you hurt?” He still had his mask in place.

    When he got home, he started hugging me, asking “Is everything all right? What’s wrong??!?!”
    He again was playing the Concerned Hubby, trying to make it all better.
    He was so good at that! That’s what hooked me in the beginning. Everyone fell for this routine.
    He was so compassionate, caring, nurturing; he’d give the shirt off his back to anyone. He’d help little old ladies and turtles across the street.
    It was only ever an act.

    However, I knew at this point he was a wee bit suspicious that MAYBE the jig was up, because he wasn’t quite up to his usual Supportive Good Guy Persona.
    I simply asked him, “Who is…CoHoWorker’s Name?”

    His mask fell, his eyes turned cold, like dead shark eyes, the smile slid off his face, he stepped back, and sneered at me with contempt.
    “Oh. So you KNOW.”
    The caring husband act was done. Never again did he EVER show any caring for me.
    Not. Once.
    I never saw that man again. He never existed.

    I was literally on the floor, in a ball, sobbing, asking “Why??????” My life, as I knew it, was OVER.
    He told me that I needed to stop playing the victim, because “YOU are not the victim here.” And he went upstairs and left me on the floor.

    I think it was the next day when I threatened to tell CoHoWorker’s clueless husband about their relationship, at which point he got REALLY upset and said, tearfully “I thought you said you wouldn’t HURT her!!!?!?!”

    When the hell did I ever say that? Hurt HER???
    “She’s a REALLY GOOD PERSON”, he insisted.
    “She doesn’t deserve your revenge, StarStuff.”
    “That’s not WHO YOU ARE, StarStuff. You’re not angry and spiteful!”

    Well, he was right. I wasn’t. I’m still not.
    But I’m also not a freaking DOORMAT and I kicked his ugly cheating ass out the door right then, telling him to go stay with her because she could have him.

    (Note: Much “pick-me dancing” and ”shit-sandwich consumption” occurred after this first *Mighty* act. I had it right the first time, unbeknownst to me, and should have stuck with my original idea. i.e.”HE SUCKS!”. Instead I went all Amazon Chump, and travelled to the Dark Side of the RIC for many, many months, to my detriment.)

    I spent almost 30 years with this person and I never knew him at all.
    Would I call him a Narcissist? Or a Psychopath? Not really.
    Perhaps he has some Covert/Vulnerable Narc traits, but that’s for a professional to figure out. All I know is the farther away from me he gets, the more light there is in my life.

    He later said, infamously:
    “I am a Master Manipulator.”
    “I lie like a rug.”
    “You were easy to fool because you were so trusting.”
    “I knew YOU would never cheat on ME. Because that’s not who you are.”

    And other gems.

    Today is one more day I am glad to be rid of him.
    The sun is out, and I’m going to see a sloth and some camels.

    • StarStuffGoddess – Oh holy wow. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Your ex is a manipulative asshole and you are well rid of him. I did the pick me dance for awhile, too. About a month after D-day, I was missing him and he texted me EVERY day, said he wasn’t dating anyone and was trying to come over and have sex with him, etc., and I *almost* let him, but then found out he was with the whore again. “I didn’t tell you because I wanted to keep the peace.” WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?

      No, you are NOT a doormat. I can see your strength and mightiness shining through your words. You are going to be better than fine without that jerk. You are going to be amazing!

      • Thanks, Keepin’ Calm!

        I’m glad you didn’t have sex with yours while he was lying to you and cheating on you! You can be glad of that, at least. I didn’t even get that opportunity, because he made it clear how “unattractive to him” I was and always had been. He did me a favor.

        (But—really? Almost thirty years together and that’s what you tell me now? Oh well!)

        Things are so much better here on the other side, once we figure out that these people we loved and slept next to for years are in fact our enemies.

        That to me was the most horrific part. He was my enemy. He believed that about himself. Talk about feeling unsafe and off-balance.

        I also tried hard to find a glimmer of the guy I thought I’d known, and he–bless his manipulative cold stone that passes for a heart–ENCOURAGED my efforts.

        Ugh. When I think of all the things I did to convince him that he should gain some sense and not throw it all away. It was embarrassing.

        He’d throw me a bone every now and then and suggest I try a bit harder to understand him.

        Fortunately, it did start to sink in after awhile that the chasm was much deeper than I’d imagined, there were more incidents and ongoing “hobbies”, more than just Mrs. CoHoWorker. There was a point I reached where I felt nothing but disgust for him, and fury.

        I am past the fury stage, but some of the disgust still persists whenever he crosses my mind, which fortunately is rare these days.

        It does get better. Much better.
        They suck.

        • I cannot wait for “meh.” I have glimpses of it every now and then and some days I don’t think much about the ex and his whore at all. Other days? I cry. But as my therapist said, “Healing is not linear.”

          I love reading stories from those who have come out the other side of this and tell me that it WILL get better. Thank you!!!

          • Listen to your therapist, she sounds like a keeper!
            It’s so true that healing takes its own path.

            You think you’ve got it together, and then WHAMMO, something triggers all those emotions. I have to be careful that I don’t let negative stuff with GUBU spill over into my current relationship. I find myself being emotionally triggered, and have to stop to think if it’s something that’s really happening now, or it is an echo leftover from that nightmare. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

            My ex did some damage to my psyche, that much is known. Even though I’m at “meh” with regard to him, the healing is still ongoing.

            I wish all fellow Chumps the best, at whatever their stage!

    • StarStuffG:“You were easy to fool because you were so trusting.” OMG, I can’t believe he took something as valuable as your trust and manipulated you for it. This makes me so sick, I want to throw up. That is pure EVIL, as it totally takes advantage of someone’s innocence. To use someone’s trust to harm them. I am so glad you aren’t with your scum of ex-husband. Big hugs to you. My skin is still crawling from this statement and I got chills down my spine.

      • Yep. My skin still crawls too.

        What’s more amazing is that I had no idea. What does that say about me and my ability to sniff out sickos? Not much.

        It was a heck of a lesson to learn, and I’m still working on it. Sometimes I err too much on the side of caution, but hey–it’s a process, right?

  • Oh. And I did order the book.
    I will review it as requested!

    Tracy is right, the more people who get out there and challenge the narrative, the sooner the idea that infidelity is nothing more than a prudish partner getting bent out of shape because their beloved might fancy someone else to ease the boring burden of monogamy, will change.

    My ex’s first quack therapist actually had him come home and ask me what I thought I did to make him cheat. For “homework”.

    GUBU stated: “You need to own YOUR part in this, StarStuff!”

    To which I responded:
    “Own WHAT?!!!? Your making hotel reservations, buying her gifts, sneaking around, lying to me, etc.?”

    I wasn’t taking the blame for his one-sided annihilation of our so-called “marriage”.
    No Sirree Bob!

    I said I’d take full responsibility for my choices/actions, but that he needed to take responsibility for his.
    You know, that “It takes two people to make a marriage work, but only one to destroy it.”

    He had literally no words. Stood there like a frog, speechless.
    It was a fine moment.

  • I’m still angry at myself for not kicking his ass out sooner..

    I was in denial for almost 2 years, seeing “red flags” but was too terrified to end it. I loved him so even after 34 years married. I was a coward I quess, thinking it was maybe a phase he was going thru. But after catching them together at whore’s house at 1:00 am ..that was enough.

    My mental & physical health was deteriorating..served him divorce papers 2 weeks later. At my age now 69, it’s lonely… but I keep remembering the pain of being cheated on is worse than being lonely.

    God bless us all !

    • Kathleen,

      I’m about a decade behind you at 57, and I was scared to pull the plug at first.
      But like you, my health was deteriorating and was more afraid of losing it than I was of being on my own.

      I agree, the pain of being alone (Safe! Watch whatever movie I want! Eat what I want! Sleep when I want!) is nothing compared to pretending to share a life and goals with someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

      I will never go back to that. EVER.

      • StarStuffsgodess-

        Yes! As you know, loneliness is sometimes crippling..but as time went on the pain of thinking of them doing intimate sexual things together- was
        driving me insane with pain.

        I eventually knew I had to get rid of him for my health, like you. I still don’t understand how he was never the person I thought he was. Cruel, cold & evil is what he is. I hope someday the both of them will pay for what they did to me.
        But I’m not waiting.. I’m slowly moving forward & looking for the good in people.

        So glad your better also.. stay strong! ❤️

  • I’m so glad I found this site, I’m not the only person dealing with a scary zombie! I met my stbxh when I was 18 (he was 33 – big red flag right there). We married when I was 21, and d-day happened a year ago (I’m now 40). I thought “I” was going crazy when someone I had loved & trusted my whole adult life turned into a sneering, heartless monster (I got the dead-eye stare a LOT shortly before & after d-day). I managed to legally throw him out of our jointly-owned home (now mine), 3 months after d-day, but I was so scared of him during that waiting period. He never threatened me physically, but the weird personality changes back & forth in him, & the way he looked / spoke to me at times was truly terrifying – it was like living with Jekyl and Hyde. I went completely no contact 3 weeks after he left (couldn’t do it sooner due to legal stuff). I’ve spent months having nightmares about him breaking into the house and attacking me. I still avoid areas in town at particular times when he could be around. Most of my friends can’t understand why I’m so scared of him, and they have a point – I know he won’t come near me now he’s decided I’m an old, worthless toy and he has a shiny, new one (6 years younger than me). I’m down to a couple of nightmares a month now, but I’m still locking the door as soon as I’m home, keeping my car in the garage so it looks like I’m not in, and closing the curtains the minute it gets dark. Hopefully I’ll get past this in time. I really don’t think they understand the damage they inflict. Very keen to download that book.

    • Budgie,

      What is it with the dead-eye stare? I read somewhere once that “Guilt blocks empathy.” Maybe that explains part of it.

      I saw the Jekyll and Hyde thing too. Although he was never warm or caring towards me ever again, I saw him turn it on and off with other people. He *seemed* to try it with me, but not really, I suspect because I had seen the true person and he figured “What the heck. It’s too much work to pretend any more.” Or something like that.

      It is frightening isn’t it? That coldness and utter disregard for us?
      I honestly believed at one point he might be poisoning me; he’d taken out a life insurance policy on me AFTER D-DAY, and shortly thereafter my hair started falling out. This was in addition to not being able to keep food down and losing close to 30 pounds in a few short weeks.

      I started to wonder… but it was just stress. The worst stress of my life.

      I can kind of laugh at it now, but when I pointed out how poorly I was doing, how I was suffering because of what he was putting me through–couldn’t get my pants to stay up, clumps of hair in my brush—he said “You are really getting off on all this drama, aren’t you?”.

      Cool as a cucumber. He had ZERO EMPATHY.
      That’s the man I married.

    • Dear Budgie.
      We Chumps have talked about “that look” before.
      It says a million words, none of them kind or loving.
      I am so glad you share your fears with CL, CN.
      We care Budgie, we truly care.
      It is painful to come to this site,( bittersweet I guess), but it is also healing.
      Other Chumps have our back here, they understand.

      Budgie, please please talk to a dear trusted friend,perhaps to a therapist.
      Share and express how you feel, yet be gentle with yourself.
      To hell with him and his younger woman. They are specs of dirt in your rear view mirror.
      Tiny specs, tiny specs to nothing!
      (((((Hugs)))))

    • Big hugs to you. That waiting period sounds like it was pure hell. So glad you shared this, and that you have him out of your home.

      “Most of my friends can’t understand why I’m so scared of him, and they have a point.”

      Respectfully, no. They do not have a point at all, and it sounds like they are coming from a place of unconscious ignorance about the character disordered, and the dynamics of emotional abuse. No, most your friends probably mean well but Do Not Get It, and they certainly do not understand the underlying Cluster B pathology. Ask me how I know this. It’s an incredibly isolating and scary thing to be the target of narcissistic/sociopathic abuse, and you are a Suvivor. I’ve found there are limits to the kind of support friends who have not been there themselves can provide. I’m thankful for CN, and for finding a therapist via Skype who understands NPD and Caretaker recovery. On the bright side, read CL long enough and you will come to see patterns that make some of this start to sound a little bit predictable– I take comfort in that. I’ve been discarded, it’s now onto image management and smearing me behind my back. To my face (which only happens because we have children together), he’ll do charm, self-pity, or rage. All well-established patterns to this pathology. Hope that helps a little bit.

      • Thanks everyone. I really wish I’d found this site earlier! It saddens me to see how many other people out there have gone through a similar situation (or worse) to me, but reading about others’ experiences has really helped give me some perspective.

        The third time he screamed at me, I started yelling back, which he couldn’t cope with. Having to constantly defend myself like this was exhausting, so once the letter from my solicitor arrived informing him I wanted a separation (you can imagine the rage / self-pity that day!), I went grey rock until he finally found somewhere to rent and moved out a month later.

        I know he is a pathetic, weak old man who has ruined his life, but those few months took their toll. Thankfully, my mum and one of my friends in particular are very understanding and caring. It’s scary the number of people who say they have seen a huge change in me since I kicked him out – everyone says I am more outgoing, confident and fun than I’ve ever been. I can’t believe how much he had dragged me down over the years – maybe I was living with Dracula! ?

        And reading some of the posts further down – the mask – yep, same here, I actually felt guilty that I really did fall out of love with him instantly. From d-day onwards, I was so repulsed by him. Bless you all – so glad I’ve found CN. x

  • Although the mask metaphor has been used here before, I’m only now realizing that’s the reason why I was able to fall out of love so quickly after two decades together.

    That puzzled me so much at the time. That is, I went from being completely in love to completely disgusted in a matter of weeks. Sometimes, chunks of love dropped off instantly, when I learned of some disgusting thing he did or said. It always made me question whether or not I was really in love before then.

    The love was indeed real.

    But it was the mask that made it end so quickly.

    Once I saw behind the mask, I couldn’t love the man beneath, this cold-hearted stranger who shared my house and my life yet had purposefully lied and betrayed me and our kids. I had nothing but disgust for him after that. I can’t un-see the real him.

    Occasionally, I miss the mask I’d see in memories, but it is whispy and paper thin. I want to go inside my memories and shake myself by the shoulders, saying “Don’t you see how he treats you? How he talks to you? How he looks at other women? How he reads his phone instead of asking you about your day? You’re amazing! He’s lucky to have you in his life, but he treats you like shit! Stop working so hard to please him! Stop paying for everything yourself! He doesn’t care about you… or anyone!”

    Oh well… Better off now. Everything in my life is authentic now. Everything is real. And every day is better than the day before.

    • This comment help me understand my own “a lightning bolt has just hit me!” sensation of falling instantly out of love after 15 years, when my narc dropped the bomb on me that he had secretly moved all of his things out of our new apartment. And I could tell he was secretly recording our conversation to make his divorce case against me. The mask fell. It was an epic betrayal. I was at my most vulnerable; my youngest was an infant. The one upside was the instantly falling out of love part. Thank you for helping me put that together.

    • JustAnotherStatistic,
      You write the truth so beautifully.
      Your writing makes me feel so sad, yet your strength shines thru in your post.

      ” chunks of love dropped off instantly”
      THIS
      I understand your pain.
      I am so sorry.
      ((((Many hugs to you))))

    • I am impressed that you were able to focus on what was behind the mask so quickly! I spent too much time fixated on the mask. I found your post very inspirational. I just wish the divorce process wasn’t so long and hellish.

      So many posts today repeat the truth your better without them but mine is like dog shit on a shoe -it takes forever to get it off and it is an unpleasant process.

    • Sorry you went through this. I feel exactly like what you are describing. Complete disgust and no love at the person I see he has become without his mask.

  • “Your stomach always tells the truth.”

    There have been two times in my life when my stomach dropped from my body and terror replaced it. The first time happened when our trash collector grabbed nine-year old me from behind on my way to school. I was in a crowd of neighborhood kids, who all stared in disbelief as he picked me up and pretended to throw me in the back of the truck.

    The second time was when my future husband said, “Well, I guess we’ll get married.”

    The terror sensation was the exact same. I ignored it when he proposed marriage, and I will regret ignoring that for the rest of my life.

    Always, ALWAYS listen to your gut.

    • Chutesand ladders Your post sent chills up my spine. I revisit the marriage proposal night in my mind more frequently mow. We were sitting at dinner just talking and I remember thinking he is going to ask me to marry him and I wasn’t feeling happy about it. When we got back to his house, I was very tired but he wanted to build I fire and fix me a drink- surprise I relented. We sat in front of the fire and he said ” so are you ready to marry me? How romantic(not). I couldn’t say no though because I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings. After I said yes, he fell asleep on the couch. Talk about regret.

      • Chutes my stomach dropped when after meeting on the Thursday (instant attraction), arranging to go to his home for the weekend, on the way back to the station he said ‘because I love you’.

        My stomach dropped and I said ‘but you don’t know me’.

        Then I ignored it because this must be love and he was very good-looking.

  • Wow- amazingly mighty woman!!!! I am a newbie only about 5 weeks out of D Day 2 (I took him back the first time a year ago after he begged me, seemed to show genuine remorse, went to counseling, etc. and then he went back to his AP) and I am filing for divorce after 16 years of marriage. This site is saving my life!!! Thank you to everyone on here! My heart is finally starting to catch up to my brain. I realize that I do not like the person my husdand became – the person I loved is unfortunately gone and has been replaced by a cold careless person who seems to have a mental problem. I have been reading about cluster b personality disorders and I’m really not sure if he fits exactly but it does seem a lot of the behavior is there. I really don’t understand how he was happily able to live this double life with absolutely no indicators to me. He treated me well, told me he loved me daily, we were intimate often. I don’t understand how someone can compartementalize so much and seemingly be happy with their spouse? Blindsided both times with no signs or conversations of him being upset or anything. So I’m not sure if he is a cluster b or just a very disturbed person lacking in empathy. And I’m not sure if it matters which one at this point. I know I will never understand what happened. Just want to move on and heal from this!!!!

    • My heart goes out to you Givesmestrength. I am about a 1 1/2 years out from DDay and still trying to divorce the a-hole. He’s delaying at every turn.

      I also cannot fathom how someone seemingly normal in other way (holds an executive job, etc) can compartmentalize so much so well… I really don’t know if i want to spend more time on it. It has engulfed the last year and a half of my life.

      I’m with you. I just want to move on and heal from this.

      What is the saying? Success is the best revenge? I just want survival. And peace.

      • Keep moving, ignore the delay tactics, stay NC. Once he figures out he cant manipulate your kind loving soul, he will drop the mask and get ugly. Stay moving forward, stay NC, there is peace ahead in the unraveling. Remember he is disordered and you are not weak, wrong, crazy or all those things this situation makes us feel while we are lost in the confusion. Don’t change your kind loving heart. Ever. Screw his pathetic selfish orb. Ginormous hugs.

      • It will happen, one day soon. The day you are rid of him/her will be the beginning of a new stage of your life. Sadly, these fuckwits played with our minds so much it can take therapy and time and effort to get them out of our heads! But the sooner they are gone, they better. They are fuckwit losers, the lot of them. Good luck to you.

    • Hi give me strength, my story is exactly the same. My exhusband treated me so well before I found out. We laughed together, shared amazing memories, were financially secure, and seemed to have a great life together. After being married for seven years our relationship still seemed strong, I thought we were each other’s best friend. However, what I failed to understand is that he is a sociopath. These type of people can compartmentalize beyond our understanding, feel little to no remorse or empathy, are extremely charming and amazing emotional manipulators. I understand in the long run it’s better to focus on ourselves then trying to understand the cheater, but there is this need to try and figure out how we got here- betrayed by the person we loved the most in the world with very little indication we were living a complete lie. Get in some good therapy, keep coming back to this site and remember you are not alone. You have a tribe of people here who know how you feel!

      Also, quick tip. When you divorce please realize you’re not dealing with the loving husband you knew, anticipate him being extremely difficult and let your attorney know that upfront. Get all the documents you can and protect yourself.

      Hugs!

  • It’s almost 3 a.m. in my time zone and I’m about halfway through Jen’s book. I am sobbing of course. For her, for me, for all of us.

    It was good to come here and find (before I finished the book) that she survived and is thriving. She is young. She has that on her side.

    But even though I am almost 55 years old, and soon to be divorced from POS SAH of 27 years, I too hope to surive and thrive.

    And I hope her book becomes a best seller and shows others and the world that ‘sex addicts’ are mostly narcissists and sociopaths in reality and the partner needs to get the fuck away from them.

    My STBX is also currently sending ‘word salady’ texts about needing my ‘support’ in ‘putting our family back together.’ AS IF it’s a FAMILY issue.

    I’m trying to be totally NC and hope his contact with me and my sons (ages 20 and 25, whom he tried to actually blame for the divorce if they didn’t ‘talk to’ me) dwindles away to nothing one day. Soon.

    Power and love to you all.

    These sub-humans are not worthy of another breath from us.

  • I got the book on Audible, I literally can’t stop listening to it…at work, in the car, even at the gym this morning! Still got a way to go but it’s a great read (Or listen if you see what i mean). I guess so many of us on here can empathise with Jen and what she writes about. Maybe I should write a memoire of my experience with Yo Yo knickers, i guess it would read more like a soap opera though.

  • In the beginning I saw the red flags but chose to ignore them. I was desperate for the love of a family I had never had. I was in my early 30’s, time seemed to be running out and he was there, ready and willing to get married and start a family.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    I don’t blame myself though, it was a con, I was conned. It wasn’t my fault.

  • “The more I researched … and learned about personality disorders, the more I was able to very slowly align what my mind knew and what my heart felt. I went through a long period of cognitive dissonance where I technically understood that my husband very likely was on the psychopathy spectrum, had no empathy and our entire relationship was a lie, but I could not feel it. It was like my brain and my heart were at war.”

    – THIS. I remember this phase. Now I understand and accept completely that he is a narcissist to character disorder and that No Contact is what protects me.

    Paradoxically, now I totally accept it, I can forgive myself. It really wasn’t personal, I didn’t cause it, couldn’t control it and couldn’t cure it, he did it to all his other soulmates since. It really is none of my business in the process of living. I can have more compassion for him: what an awful, inauthentic way to live and to be in such ongoing torment, poor guy.

    I am now such a citizen of the State of Meh that I can look back, see that the affair never stopped during my 5 excruciating years of wreckonciliation and go, ‘Meh’. He triangulated the next two. Meh. None of my business and I don’t care!

    The other day someone in my book club said that it takes two to tango. I am hosting the next book club, and this is going to be one of my books!!!

    • Great idea!!! I trid to understand, fix it, a form of controlling the situation i suppose. Eventually, i understood it wasnt about me at all. I was able to detach and find some peace. He has gone thru several since me and i watch the parade in a sad sort of way; the nightmare i see coming for his latest chump, the kids having to keep meeting these prisoners, the black hole life he has. My son knows what going to happen, so he doesnt get close to them. Meh. Sexual addiction my ass.

  • In her own words, Jen started her relationship as the OW, ditched her boyfriend immediately for someone whose character she really didn’t know well, and whose main qualities seemed to have been that he was goodlooking, charming, and good in bed. This guy then still carried on with his primary relationship for some time as she started dating him, Jill thinks for “just a month”, but with a habitual liar and cheater, the truth could have been very different.

    This is from Jill’s blog:

    “And I write this having been “the other woman” at the very beginning of my relationship with my ex-husband. We were both dating other people when we met. I broke up with my boyfriend immediately and he stayed with his girlfriend for a month. I believed at the time that if he “chose” me then that meant I was special. That I would be validated. That the sick feeling in my stomach was worth it because we were so in love.”

    These facts haven’t been mentioned here. The fact is that she was young at the time – but so were many other OW in the painful stories described by this community, who are then not called flattering names.

    Was it that her beautiful thing started terribly, or that her terrible thing started beautifully, then?

    • Her terrible thing started beautifully…for her. But she realizes how screwed up she was — how much she filtered out all the red flags due to love bombing. Why the “dream man” of a beautiful, successful, college educated young woman from a clearly affluent Maine family was a far older absentee father, illegal alien tending bar under the table in NYC, with a horrible girlfriend.

      I read the whole book in a single sitting yesterday, and I have a lot of questions. I mean, she definitely needs to finish her psychotherapy degree — she speculates wildly based on blog posts from googling “sociopath” or whatever — like how she managed 5 years of “idealize” because she was rich, with a rich family, and could give him a green card and pay for him to buy a restaurant. There are a lot of us here who had 25 years of “idealize” — or at least of happy family life. Maybe sociopathy can be late onset? Who knows?

      • Good point AllieP about why so many of us take 25 years before we see the disorder. I think some of it may be because we spackle but some may be because the disorder worsens with age. They don’t mature emotionally and now they are seeing themselves aging physically and they can’t take it. The disparity becomes too much for them and sends them over the edge.

      • I agree. Usually there is no sympathy at all for OW on this blog. Yet, here everyone is telling Jen she’s mighty//// hypocritical much?

      • THANK YOU! I am so glad someone else noticed that!

        Don’t get me wrong — her story is awful and traumatic, regardless of the fact that she started out as the other woman. But the fact that she did actually start out as the other woman is a non-trivial fact, and she never seems to go back and question whether the story Marco sold and she willing bought — the story that justified him cheating on his girlfriend with her — was actually true. (Hint: It wasn’t true and even if it was, it didn’t justify the behavior.)

  • “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

    ― Anne Lamott

  • “Your stomach always tells the truth.” That caught my eye! When I first started dating my ex, my stomach would inexplicably start cramping, and I would end up vomiting on our dates. I never experienced anything like it before. My body knew he was dangerous to me, even if I couldn’t comprehend that in any other way. I wish I had been trained to listen to my gut! I tell my kids this all the time now. Listen to your gut feelings!

  • Ha! I meant “throwing up during our dates”, not “throwing up on my dates”. I wish I’d thrown up on him! Maybe it would have put him off me.

  • Late to posting, but I purchased the book immediately upon reading CL’s comment. Great book, and I read it in two days flat. Jen Waite survived the nightmare of cognitive dissonance in a way that only those who’ve endured the same can understand. And she did it with a newborn baby to care for. Amazing triumph and she will make a terrific therapist as she is smart, analytical and compassionate. Thank you Jen for sharing your story and Chump Lady for the heads up about this great book.

  • I finished reading Jen’s book in two days. Absolutely incredible. I experienced so, so many of the things she describes. The gaslighting is the worst.

    And I left reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, saying specifically how we need to change the narrative around cheating! I hope it helps us all to have our voices heard, Chump Nation!

  • Was she in was she not a cheat and ow ?
    If she was ,then I want no part. If she wasn’t, good on her.

    • Yes, that is what I want to know too. If she started out as a road whore, I have no shortcut sympathy for her mm

  • Just finished the book and LOVED it!!!!! Great read and I feel so much of what Jen went through. I don’t think my husband is a sociopath or psychopath but is definitely having some type of mental problem and making horrible choices. I am 5 weeks from D Day and feel like I am on a roller coaster!

  • I read this book and I loved it. But I can’t help but notice the very, very, very small amount of time or discussion given to the fact that (1) she cheated on her own boyfriend; and more pertinently (2) she started out as the other woman. She was to her husband’s original girlfriend what the OW was to her. (Forgive me if this has already been discussed in the comments and I missed it!)

    That fact doesn’t change that I really appreciated her story and felt her pain. It does complicate the narrative though. I have read here many times about how OW are not true “chumps” — they knew what they were getting in to and chose it. I have also read here many times that OW/OM didn’t “win” if the cheater leaves for them — the cheater and all the cheater’s disordered behavior, is now their problem.

    I don’t really know what to make of it all, but it stands out to me in a blog that is usually no sympathetic to the OW/OM, in this particular article that doesn’t seem to out at all. If we knew more about the woman who was cheated on prior to Jen’s dating and marriage of Marco, would that be different?

  • This book. It was truly amazing! I can feel exactly how Jen was feeling. Such a magnificent read. Thank you!!!!! It helped my soul!

  • I just wanted to say that I am about 1/4 of the way through the book now, which I am listening to on Audible. Jen even narrates her own story.

    Of course, there are LOTS of emotional triggers, because her tale parallels my own in so many ways, and I’m sure echos the experiences of many of the chumps here.

    Her story is about that free-falling feeling of thinking you have one kind of life, and shockingly coming to the realization that it was all a lie; through heart-wrenching discoveries and gut-wrenching betrayals, while having to completely change your perception of your history and carry on with life.

    I don’t think anyone who hasn’t gone through this experience can ever grasp the full extent of the damage done to a loving partner by this sort of thing, and Jen clearly loved this man with her whole heart.

    I know many people do experience infidelity and maybe for some, they can work their brains around it in some way if *all* their partner does is have a sexual encounter with another person without their knowledge.

    That act alone is painful enough.

    But Jen’s story encompasses so much more, and sadly, that’s the way it is for so many of us. A total annihilation of our sense of self/partner/safety/reality which probably inflicts permanent trauma.

    I know it has done in my case, although every day I try to continue the process of healing.
    D-Day #2 was September 19, 2013, and although I’m doing well now, something in my head and heart has been “rewired”, and not in a good way.
    I hope with more time, the scars will heal completely. I’d like to believe that’s true.

    Anyhow, I’m rambling….need more coffee…but I just wanted to say “GET THE BOOK!!!!”

  • I’m so grateful to find a community of others who have experienced this…not glad you had to go through it but I have felt alone in what I’ve been walking through….like it’s off a 20/20 episode. As of March of this year, I was married for nearly 12 years to my best friend, the love of my life. We’ve been involved in ministry together our entire marriage and extremely close to both sides of our families. We have 3 babies and he let me get my tubes tied (I did so he didn’t have to). In Feb. this year, he lied to me for 8 days about how he lost his job…come to find out, he was caught at his work with a woman. Then it all unraveled…almost overnight. I was completely blindsided. He’s been with 6 other women that I know of, was receiving/sending out pics of himself and multiple women at the same time and has given me 2 STDs. He’s also been stealing money from me and our kids. While it’s been over 8 months, I still wake up hoping it’s a nightmare.
    I now look back and see so many red flags. I believed every word he said…never questioned him and never in a million years thought he was capable of all this.
    Anytime we talk about more than the kids now, I clearly see the gaslighting, the talking in circles, the anger when I call him out. It’s unreal. And his own family has gathered around him and virtually cut me out. It killed me at first but I have now accepted it and cut off all communication with them. The Lord has never left and I have an amazing support system of family and a few goid friends.
    Thank you all for sharing your story. We are not alone. <3

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