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Who You Thought You Were, Who You Really Are

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So riffing on last Friday’s post “What You Thought It Was, What It Really Was,” I thought we might turn things on their head a bit and consider our self-perceptions — then and now. Who did you think you were then, living with a cheater — and who are you really?

How deeply did you buy into the mindfuck? Sure, you can say, “I thought I was happily married and I was loved, but oh hey, I wasn’t.” CN, that’s so last week. I mean, who did the cheater try to convince you you were, and who are you REALLY?

An example — one not-so-subtle mindfuck my cheating ex laid on me was to tell me how incompetent I was. I couldn’t close drawers. I made pasta wrong (had the pasta to sauce ratio off). I was unorganized.

Now folks, I’m no Felix Unger, but I’m pretty damn organized. He learned exactly HOW organized when I left him. He thought we were reconciling. Meanwhile, I made excel spreadsheets, catalogued every item in every room, took pictures (so he couldn’t claim I took something that wasn’t mine), hired movers, enlisted a friend, lined up financing, BOUGHT A HOUSE on the sly, turned off all the utilities the day I moved out (they were in my name of course — CHUMP), enlisted the neighbors as scouts, got a rent-a-truck, created a fictitious conference to attend so he wouldn’t call me all morning, AND MOVED OUT OF A 3,500 SQUARE FOOT HOUSE IN UNDER 3 HOURS.

Unorganized motherfucker?

I’m a fucking field marshal.

How about you?

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I thought I was boring in bed.

    Hoo boy howdy, were he and I both wrong about that. Bored, for certain, yes… but definitely not boring.

    😀

    • So funny. You know the “boring in bed” is really a lack of trust and a lack of intimacy. I was damn boring in bed but I swear he brought the shark eyes and I just didn’t feel bonded – which is exactly opposite of what it is supposed to be like. I spackled that by thinking he was just not that great as a lover but there were “other things” that strangely did not include helping with anything, being responsible or parenting. Looking back, I don’t know exactly what I thought those “other things” were.

      • Indeed. I am no longer willing to have uninspired sex, and I no longer consider sex equivalent to a chore. It’s either clearly meaningful, connected, joyous, openly expressive time, or I choose to find another investment for my time.

    • Oh my goodness, yes!

      No, I am not boring in bed. I’m not a parade of porn stars and their tricks either, but post-divorce, I’ve gotten some very nice feedback from my partners.

      • YES!!! My current husband all right because I had been told how ugly, boring, and cold I was in bed. He couldn’t believe I was serious.

        • I actually got, “What is wrong with you?” in the middle of intercourse. What was wrong was that it was five in the morning and I had been sound asleep thirty seconds earlier.

          • ca-chump,

            OMG I snorted in painful laughs while I recognized the “oh so horny” 5am wake up calls…

            I learned to almost sleep thru what was once a beautiful thing. I’m pretty sure schmoopie won’t have to deal with that…yet. Maybe the DOCTOR won’t mind taking the blue pills (even though he says they gave him a headache). Maybe he’ll finally take a whole one, cheapskate that he is.

            What bugs me the most about ED is certainly not about a man’s age catching up with him. We have our menopausal issues, after all.

            My problem is why sex stops completely – he still had working hands and a mouth…why the does the party end for all of us, just b/c one of us can’t eat the sex cake? When I was in grief after my dad passed away, I still craved the intimacy and gave it.

            The DOCTOR rarely spoke about our sex life the past 5 years, though we both used to consider it a real gift we had.

            But later, I chumped in bed. Couldn’t always climax just from his presence. He blamed it on the medications, I blame it on zero foreplay and a distant look from my partner.

          • Yeah I had a hard time being instantly horny after being woken from a deep sleep in the middle of the night too. Proved I wasn’t really all that into him.

            • Wtf?? Do they all do this? Wake you up in the middle of the night and just go at it! My animal did this quite often.

              • When STBX claimed my libido was lower than his in MC I tried to explain that we just had a timing problem. We just weren’t interested at the same time. Many’s the night I was pining for him waiting for him to come to bed so I could start something, but he just wouldn’t come to bed or would be “too tired” at that time.

                After I explained that he switched to “she’s too predictable”. Well I guess he was predictable too. If it was 3am, five minutes before my alarm went off in the morning or five minutes before I needed to be out the door for something, that’s when he’d be horny.

          • Hah!! “What is wrong with you” the countless times I heard that anytime ex husband was not pleased with something! Could be anything… if I peeled a potato wrong, disagreed about something… anything. Not sex though… but who knows if we would have stayed together for many more years.

    • Lord knows Rhys wasn’t physically generous – I had thought something was wrong with me because of my lack of ” reaction” with him. Amazing how much different things are with a loving partner!

    • I got that feeling from him–I thought he was unhappy in bed–cue the pick me dance. My new BF calls me a passionate woman and we both know what he means😉

    • I ended up feeling so boring in bed – and the truth us, I did end up that way. I know I wasn’t in previous relationships, however, being with a sexually withholding, sexually controlling, actually technically pretty ordinary “lover” who was (to my knowledge) fucking prostitutes within the first 6 months of our (20 year – duh!) relationship, probably didn’t help. Haven’t ventured forth into new pastures yet – but I do need to remember not to measure myself by his yardstick if/when I do.

    • Yep, I got the major sexual devalue too.

      I’ve been having a lot of fun this year proving that was all his bullshit narrative.

      Leave a cheater, gain an awesome sex life. 😉

            • Same here.
              All our “problems” in the bedroom were mine to own, of course! (NOT! 🙂 )
              Funny thing though, prior to being him with and his chronic, porn-induced ED, my previous partners had thought I was enthusiastic and skilled.
              I always enjoyed myself and from the feedback I received, they did too.

              Over the years with him, with the lack of any foreplay,
              (his idea of an “invitation” was saying “Why don’t you go in the bedroom and take your clothes off?” Wow! How could THAT thrilling statement not just get my crank a-turnin’?), his ED, the emotional disconnectedness, the complete objectification of my body as if I were a blow-up doll and not a person, a rigid schedule of when he wanted it and when he didn’t, the total disregard for anything I liked, but most of all, ignoring me all the rest of the time with no affection whatsoever, spending no time with me, not a hug nor a kiss, nor a kind word…all those things combined into making me someone who wanted avoid any sexual contact with him.

              He had me convinced it was ME. I never really believed it, but then again, I found myself relieved when he kept his distance. I started to think maybe I was a bad wife. Turns out, my body knew what my mind refused to see: This man had other “hobbies” that were harmful to me. On some level I supposed I knew it, though not consciously.

              Suffice it to say, with someone who really loves me and cares enough to share real intimacy, my new Cheater-Free sex life is awesome!

      • I really hope someday I can say this too. Stbx really enjoyed rejecting me the last 2 years. One time in desperation I told him I could see the appeal to havaing an affair because it would be nice to have sex more than once a year. He told I was a bad flirt and probably couldn’t find anyone. The was 2 years ago and a turning point for me. Definitely started detaching then. Dd2 still surprised me. Dumb dumb me.

    • Admittedly, X was the only sex partner I’ve ever had and he said I was a lousy lay. So maybe I am a lousy lay, but I can definitely say that he was not the great lover he made himself out to be either. Just like in our life outside the bedroom, guess who did all the work? I held the full-time, breadwinning job, I cooked, I cleaned, I sewed his clothes, I cut his hair. I even remember when we moved houses/rentals, I would end up doing the majority of packing and unpacking. He would unpack one room and believe me, it wasn’t the kitchen.

      After analyzing this entire situation to death, I’ve decided that I truly do believe that I could be great in bed, with someone who was reciprocal. I was the only one who did anything about our sex life. He just sat there and complained. Pretty sure that having a reciprocal partner would take bedroom life to a totally different level.

      • Spot on. Skills aren’t the point of sex if you care about the relationship. Sharing is the point. Sharing joy is what’s exciting about it. Anything else is like watching paint dry.

      • *raising hand*. Me too! Probably says I emasculated him. Well you don’t hear me crying about him affecting my femininity. Devalued, set aside for another woman twice, it’s kind of hard to admire his masculinity. If you want to be admired, do something worth admiring. OW really appciates how well his does his job at work. Sorry, I forgot my gold stars. He would question my work judgement. It’s so easy to make him seem awful yet I still cry over him.

    • Yes, it takes two to tango for sure. Being called “boring in bed” says more about the whole relationship (obviously) and smells like self-serving and blaming narcissist BS language. I’m a dude, and my issues with maybe not lasting too long in that situation disappeared post breakup and have not been seen again. I had started to think were due to some physical ailment.

      It is amazing when you are a chump and you actually start blaming yourself for stuff, then it simply goes away and makes you realize what a gaslit hell you were living in.

    • I’ve had just enough coffee and just little enough sleep to overshare in front of the entire world:

      My wife said that her affair, and her leaving me, were prompted by the “fact” that she has not been sexually attracted to me for the better part of our 20+year relationship. (Total revisionist history.) She said I don’t turn her on. She said she’s never “wanted me” that way. She said her boyfriend made her realize that her increasing lack of interest in sex over the course of our marriage was not, it turns out, the result of low libido, hormone imbalance, or psychological hurdles. It was the result of our lack of chemistry, and, apparently, my inability to get the job done in the sack.

      I was reared in the 70s. My single mom left a lot of books about empowered-woman sexuality lying around for me to read when she wasn’t looking. If I took no other message away, it’s that a man must be kind, thoughtful and generous in bed. (I’m about to go all heteronormative here, because that’s my frame of reference.) I learned that a man should be keenly attuned to his partners’ likes and dislikes. That he should know her anatomy as well as his own. I learned he should care about her orgasm at least as much as his own (and probably more, because, after all, orgasms, for women, were often trickier to achieve.) He should be emotionally present and, ideally, spiritually connected. He should be open-minded and expressive and solicitous. Not selfish. Not purely (though partly!) animal. Nice, but not too nice. Confident, but not dominant. Unless dominance was requested. Dirty, but not too dirty. Unless extra dirtiness was requested. He should really strive to *see* his partner, and, above all, he should respect her. He should be, to steal Dan Savage’s phrase, good, giving and game.

      Having grown up with men who were not exactly shining examples of gentlemanly excellence, I hungrily internalized all these messages about male and female sexuality the way some kids my age were internalizing sports stats or the Scout handbook. I was committed to being a good lover — and, more important, a good guy.

      As I got a chance to test all this stuff out, the feedback was positive. Maybe all those girlfriends and occasional hookups were just being kind. Maybe they didn’t have anyone to compare me to. But I don’t think so, not all of them. Generally, I got high marks. By the time I married my wife, I was comfortable with myself in bed, had achieved a nice balance between the carnal and the spiritual, and valued the connecting power of sex above all. I also looked forward to sex as an opportunity to demonstrate love for my wife and treat her well. I thought sex, all in all, was about the best jolly good fun two deeply bonded people could have.

      My wife and I had an extraordinary sex life early on. Our sexual compatibility is one of the reasons I married her. She pretends now that this never existed. She is wrong. And as our life together unfolded, I was as sexually confident and as authentic, sexually and emotionally, as I’d ever been in my life. I dropped my guard, I opened myself up. I did my best to meet her at least halfway, to really *see* her, and to make her wants and needs and fears and tics as important (if not more so) than my own. I continued to be dedicated to being a good lover — and a good guy. I didn’t always succeed, but I never stopped trying.

      Now I’m told that I fell short. Now I’m told that another man does it all better. Now I’m told that another man sees her more fully, loves her more fully, satisfies her more fully, than I ever could. He has effortlessly, thanks to the magic of “chemistry,” found the combination to her physio-emotional lockbox. I’m told that a long, multidimensional sex life that naturally followed the shifting contours of the rest of our life together was lackluster at best, a chore at worst. I’m told I’m not attractive. I’m told that it is not pleasurable to touch, hold kiss or make love with me. I’m told that destroying our family, betraying our marriage vows and upending our lives was a reasonable cost to pay for the freedom to have sex with another man and the guarantee to never have sex with me again.

      In my weakest moments, I feel profoundly foolish, profoundly inept, and like a profound failure. I can’t imagine ever bringing myself sexually to a woman again. I did it the best I know how, and made myself as vulnerable as I could, and it was both insufficient and repellent.

      So, going forward, it’s on me to keep those demons silenced, and to try to do my best — again — with a worthy partner someday. I am really, really looking forward to the kind of validation you’ve all described above.

      (Dang, HeChump, more coffee?)

      — HeChump

      • HeChump,

        We need to meet!

        You sound like a man of honor and I bet you are great in bed, and she’s a moron. I hope in time you will come to see that you dodged a cheating wife bullet.

        • I’ll armwrestle you over him!!!

          Dang dude. The only thing you don’t have and you didn’t list here for your fuckwit of an ex……..

          ….is a strange dick. Yep, you’ve bonded with someone as shallow as a puddle. You just have to fix that picker and find someone worthy of you. She is definitely not it!

          • Really though. What was it that attracted you to her?

            I’m trying to figure this crap out on my own (no therapist). I am a fairly attractive female, or so I’ve been told. I’m VERY shy. Yep I’ve got FOO issues no doubt. I keep ending up with these very outgoing guys who pursue me. I thought I was doing much better with my ex since truthfully, not to be unkind, is very homely. People didn’t understand how we were together (only really close to me would ask what the attraction was). For me it was our similar backgrounds and our very wry/witty sense of humour. He was very persistent and didn’t take no for an answer. Yep, another narc.

            I didn’t know what that was until my 2nd Dday and coming here. Well okay, sure I’d heard of a narc. I just thought they were all grandiose. CL and CN Yoda’s have taught me well.

            I won’t ignore those red flags again, the lack of reciprocalness of a partner. I’m not ready to date yet, I’m a year out from divorce. I have teenagers and they need a sane parent. Ex is still with his young schmoopie.

              • PS why the hell is she telling you any of this? “I am told that” – SCREW THAT!

                So low class and trashy, and yes, sadistic of her to say a word about that. She cheats and you’re the villain/loser?

                Good grief, join a Divorce Care group (a group that does things together socially, btw) and meet normal women who will tell you the real scoop.

                I’m dating a man who is not built as well as THE DOCTOR, who I admit was a health nut with results. But my lover is earnest and cares and honest to God makes me feel so beautiful my libido is higher than it has been in years.

                I recall almost not being attracted to DOCTOR Man, b/c he was so clearly not impressed by the stretch marks having HIS 3 children left on me, though he never offered for me to get a tummy tuck.

                Now I want one but I cannot decide if it’s ME wanting to look my best (and if not now, when?) OR if I still have my soon to be ex in my mental audience.

                Get these horrid cheaters out of our heads.

          • I was just thinking the same thing- maybe we could all fight in a fountain `a la Bridget Jones.

            LOL

            Unless he is a troll. Perhaps I am cynical, but HeChump said exactly what I am longing to hear. I’ve learned to grow suspicious of that.

        • Oh CN Chumps,
          YOU are all so normal!
          What in the world is the matter with your cheaters!

          HeChump,
          You need to write novels! Romance novels!

          😊

      • Ok, well, first of all, you are super tuned in to what’s important about sexual sharing, so you will definitely be pointed in the right direction when you find the right person(s).

        And second, she’s full of shit. Whatever she says she did or didn’t find arousing was all crap that was happening inside her lying cheating head when she was trying to knock you down to pump herself up.

        Your pain and fear are valid. Her ridiculous statements about you are not. I still live with very similar feelings now, many years later, even though I have personally lived a reality that proves them wrong. That’s how trauma works, and it stinks. And that’s why I spend more time in counseling than out of it (and why I select my therapists carefully.)

        Her cruelty does not define you. She’s not right about you. I am sure of it.

      • HeChump
        Wow. What a post. I’m guessing that if the way you write demonstrates the way you think and if the way you think demonstrates the kind of person you are then you will be just fine going forward to a new relationship. Your ex or STBX I hope must be profoundly disordered not to realise what she has not just thrown away but has tried to destroy.
        Most of the women on this site were/ are looking precisely for this kind of connection and are themselves victim to men who have treated their wholeheartedness with callous disregard.
        I just wanted to say that such a thoughtful, reflective in tune male will not be short of takers but I know the emotional and almost spiritual toll these narcissistic people can take on a psyche.
        More coffee is always good.

        • I completely agree with Capricorn, HeChump! It’s quite obvious that she is a shallow pool of piss, and you are a deep lagoon of integrity and authenticity Her opinion means jackshit, my friend!

      • So WOW. I agree with others if you can write that I am sure you are on your way to an wonderful relationship if you can allow yourself to say authentic and not bitter.

        My EX also insisted that he was never attracted to me sexually. He said that my sex drive was higher than his because he just found me ugly from dating and the 20 year marriage. I got the I was too ugly to sleep with. I get feeling gut punched and wondering if you can open up enough to try it again. I know EX is one damaged man, he took the best part of me when he left, my youth and my genuine enjoyment of the intimate side of our marriage.

        I guess that is what makes us mighty is that we are willing to try again after being so lied to because like you, I do not believe their narrative is true just self serving.

      • Your ex should have kept her fucking mouth shut! If she wanted out of the marriage then get out of the marriage. Leave your hurting husband with some dignity! Sheesh, the absolute gall of your ex and the other exes discussed on this blog say everything you need to know about their integrity, or the lack of it.

        • what LET GO said. ^^^

          For any ex to say a word about the sex life you guys had, criticizing you to justify HER cheating, is sickening and evil and trashy like Jerry Springer contestants.

          Just gross. Which means SHE IS WRONG no matter what else.

          Gee she sure must have been faking well all those early passionate years too. (Hmm, maybe she Missed her calling as a porn star).

      • Wow, some woman is going to get the real deal with you!!! Cheater x never thought that deeply about someone else’s needs in his life. I am sorry she exploited your vulnerability to revise your relationship history and insult you so gravely. She is evil. Do NOT listen to her. Shallow narcs want shiny and new. They are seeking adoration over intimacy. Impractical. Unsustainable. Disordered.

      • Umm you married a She-bitch that knew where to cut you to incapacitate you. She clearly knew the passion and effort you put into pleasing a woman/her and that destroying that would derail you on her way out. Do not keep what you just described from another woman that deserves to have all that you have to offer. What a waste that would be!
        After all the God awful things my husband said and did to me never once did I hit him below the belt. NEVER! I thought it haha but never emasculated him even though I’ve had much better than him. That says something. A guy like my husband wouldn’t even understand what you just wrote.
        I agree with Doctors1stWife😉a real woman would hit the lottery finding you. Thanks for over sharing HeChump i had enough coffee to enjoy your post lol. She’s the selfish cheating fool not you.

        • Agree – also abusers tend to go after/ try to tear down that which is best and most glorious about their partners: their strengths, their gifts, what makes them unique. So just invert everything she said into its complete opposite and you’ll have the truth 👍❤️

          • This is true. Whatever they say of you, the opposite is true. whatever they accuse you of, they have done. Can you imagine how exhausting it must have been for your ex to try and mirror your authenticity, depth of emotion, and quality of connection? It’s just easier for them to be with someone who is as shallow as they are, or find a new chump victim to seduce.

            • This is exactly it! Take heart he chump. Don’t make up your mind NOT to love again but don’t chase it either. I know how you feel as my narc made me feel the same way with Ilybinilwy & “I want to be your best friend” bullshit. I am 3 1/2 years out & now realize that all the strange things he accused me of, he actually did himself.
              My age, 54, puts me in a position where there is very little hope of finding anyone again but you probably will. Just stay true to those morals you learned, & someone as worthy as you are will find their way to you. Meanwhile enjoy your freedom from one hypocritical narcissistic bitch!

        • Agree – also abusers tend to go after/ try to tear down that which is best and most glorious about their partners: their strengths, their gifts, what makes them unique. So just invert everything she said into its complete opposite and you’ll have the truth 👍❤️

          • KD,

            I agree. It’s funny how GUBU devalued the very things about me that he supposedly “appreciated” at the beginning. He ultimately tried to get me completely dependent upon him, which I did end up doing financially, because I trusted him.

            He tried to convince me that I was unable to survive without him, and that the talents I had when we met were “unmarketable” and a waste of time—because they didn’t bring in the big bucks. (Caring for animals and people, music, art, and dance.)

            Not like HIS job.
            Which he only got after many years of marriage, unemployment, crappy entry-level gigs. Somehow he forgot about THAT when he decided he was a fat cat with a fat paycheck.

            Somehow at that point, all my wonderful creativity was just… stupid.

            F*ck him and his corporate Kool-aid. I’ll stick with my animal-loving artist and musician friends, thankyouverymuch.

        • Maybe she was just trying to make you insecure because she is selfish enough to not want to let another woman have you so she is trying to make you too scared to try. Don’t let her win. Let a more deserving woman get what you have to offer.

      • Guaranteed that your narcissist X will one day gleefully inform her new Mr. MagicJack that he is a no-talent and is failing to fulfill her requirements.

        She is fucked up, you are a gem.

      • Oh screw her! She’s a right ass if you are what she gave up cause you are exactly what most sane women want in a lover!! You sound hot…evrn if a bit down at the moment. Please for the sake of womankind and mankind, please go unleash your sexy self on the world. Since I can’t get my hands on you let someone else have their faith renewed via you.
        She tackled you on sex because you were so good. You know they hit you where they envy you most.

        • This is great, Mandie, “Please for the sake of womankind and mankind, please go unleash your sexy self on the world. ”

          HeChump, I hope you can receive and internalize all this feminine longing. The men chumps on here are worthy and would receive many, many requests for dates if we could set up a CN only dating site.

          I agree with KD. The cheater/disordered take what is best and most glorious about their faithful chump and choose to attack it with lies in order to try to destroy you. Why? Maybe so that we might be as damaged as they are. I no longer try to untangle that skein. Just rejoice that you’re free.

          • Holy cats. Thank you, everyone, for the support, perspective, and really delicious ego kibbles. Now I feel a little sheepish about trolling for validation, but you know what? Sue me. My wife was away last night on another “work trip” with her boyfriend. She moves out next week after seven months of this horror show. Some validation and appreciation is most welcome at this point. Thank you all again. This community is a life saver.

            — HeChump

      • HeChump,

        That was a beautiful post.

        I think many women would be happy to enjoy what you have to offer.

        Your wife lost big time.

      • Wow! I have to say – I wish my husband had had one tenth of your insight! (Not near so insightful and very full of himself.)
        You’re going to be fine! Your ex-wife is an idiot!

        Give yourself a break and go find a girl who appreciates you!

      • Beautifully written HeChump, please remember that cheater’s revisionist stories are a very pervasive attempt at gaslighting.

        Preserve your memories, they are real, keep your approach to love, sex and life as they are, they are awesome! Your only mistake was to share them with the wrong person.

        The lady that you’ll share them with next will be a very lucky one!

      • They say the most inportant body part in sex is the brain. Her brain got dumber. Some other lady will appreciate your efforts.

      • They are sexually abusive.

        At not quite the midpoint of my 29 year marriage, my then-husband would approach me for sexual intercourse but would not offer any foreplay. I would oblige him although I was not sufficiently aroused. He would call me “Chillie Willie”, insinuating that I was frigid. When I asked him for foreplay, he would sometimes lose his erection. This came on the heels of the death of my father and on the eve of my diagnosis of cervical dysplasia from HPV. In the latter years of the marriage, we were able to establish a sexual routine that worked for both of us, for the most part. In the last year of the marriage, when he was having his affair, he told me that he did not want to have sex with me and did engage in some withholding behavior.

        When I was growing up, my mother had a friend who referred to the female genitalia as “suzy.” My mother was offended by this term, strongly disliked it and believed it to be crass and crude. There came a time in the marriage when my then-husband began calling my genitalia “suzy.” I asked him to stop, explaining how much that term offended my mother and that it was just uncomfortable for me. He would not stop and called it “suzy” at every bend and turn, often with a smile.

      • They are sexually abusive.

        At not quite the midpoint of my 29 year marriage, my then-husband would approach me for sexual intercourse but would not offer any foreplay. I would oblige him although I was not sufficiently aroused. He would call me “Chillie Willie”, insinuating that I was frigid. When I asked him for foreplay, he would sometimes lose his erection. This came on the heels of the death of my father and on the eve of my diagnosis of cervical dysplasia from HPV. In the latter years of the marriage, we were able to establish a sexual routine that worked for both of us, for the most part. In the last year of the marriage, when he was having his affair, he told me that he did not want to have sex with me and did engage in some withholding behavior.

        When I was growing up, my mother had a friend who referred to the female genitalia as “suzy.” My mother was offended by this term, strongly disliked it and believed it to be crass and crude. There came a time in the marriage when my then-husband began calling my genitalia “suzy.” I asked him to stop, explaining how much that term offended my mother and that it was just uncomfortable for me. He would not stop and called it “suzy” at every bend and turn, often with a smile.

      • HeChump-
        Narcs/Sociopath’s are notorious for kicking you when you are down. They stab you with that butcher knife and leave it there, twisting it just to see you writhe in agony.
        In reality, she was (and did) hit you where it hurt, and you can’t understand why she would say such harmful things to you unless, perhaps, they were true. Chumps are also notorious (myself included) at projecting our good character on other people. We can’t believe someone would be so cruel because we would never intentionally cause pain to another. I am not a liar, and if I say something then it’s true, hurtful or not. So I automatically believe this is true of everyone else.
        Well, we all know the reality that our projection on others probably causes us more pain. When your bitch ex told you her whore new man was better than you? You believe it because you would never say such a thing to her.
        Dealing with these sons and daughters of the devil is not easy, it’s very painful, and no contact allows the mindfuck to end. I can assure you that your momma was a smart lady, she wanted her son to understand a woman. She wanted you to love a woman like a woman needs to be loved. It sounds to me that you have all the ingredients for the right woman. There are many love starved partners out there, good women who will recognize your worth. Just remember those women will find you to be a little unbelievable because of the clueless selfish fuckers we are accostomed to.
        Don’t settle for less than your worth. And don’t believe that crazy bitch. If you provide opportunities for her to twist the knife then you have nobody to blame but yourself.
        I’m 2 yrs out. That fucker told me nobody would want me. Well, that’s not true. Even at 51 years of age they STILL chase me. I was very selective and now am in a relationship with what appears to be a good man, who has ED by the way. I’m not disappointed in his inability to maintain an erection. He is attentive, is confident (regardless), knows a woman’s body, and likes to please. He also loves me and shows it everyday. I feel so lucky to have him. And let me tell you-I thought he was a fraud because he is such a good person, but I’m learning to love and trust again. I admit I’m still cautious (collateral damage from 18 years with a bona fide sociopath). Moral of story: that bitch is a liar. Remember that.

    • THE DOCTOR said I was disorganized and an underachiever b/c I was a stay at home mom the past 8 years while HE “commuted” home on weekends so I’m not sure who would have provided care for our troubled daughter. Not him…

      2 weeks after I was out of the hospital for a newly diagnosed neurological problem, and on new meds, I flew my sisters and brother in law out west to pack me and drive me and my dog cross country. (I had also filed for divorce).

      I moved in with a sister until I had healed enough to function (or as THE DOCTOR said, I “used my seizures as an excuse not to work). Then I moved my furniture out of storage and into a condo and live alone for the first time in my life (no offense to my poodle. She lacks opposable thumbs and cannot open a beer to save herself).

      Now I’m job hunting and enjoy living alone far more than I expected. Turns out, I’m hilarious and smart and a great loyal friend.

      • My ex called me a rage-addict and a rage-aholic when he was in treatment for “Sex Addiction”. Looking back, I only raged about the prostitues in my bedroom. I haven’t “raged” since I kicked him out and went NC last year.

        • Mine always talked about my “anger issues”. Essentially I wasn’t allowed to be upset about anything he did (prostitutes, financial infidelity, lying etc) or didn’t do (have anything but minimal involvement in family life), never mind his constant passive aggression. Any objection I had just was turned around on my being such an angry person.
          The odd thing is (with the exception of me hating queuing/waiting in traffic which I totally own!) I really don’t tend to feel angry with other people very often at all. Both my children have special needs and can be challenging but I rarely feel angry with them – and people who know me often comment on my patience. I also work in a field where being impatient/angry would not work at all. I rarely (if ever) fall out with friends or colleagues – and not because I’m suppressing my rage, I just don’t feel it. I’m no saint, that is not what I’m trying to say, I guess it is just having had his telling me I am this angry person for so long and so often – I recognise now blame shifting and projection, nevertheless it is hard not to internalise. Time and distance help, I guess …

          • Yes! Apparently I have a terrible anger problem as well. And you’re right- he thinks I cannot be angry about anything he does or doesn’t do.
            I admit to having punched a wall and thrown things during our discussions/ arguments.

            But don’t anger problems typically run through every aspect of the angry person’s life? They have conflicts at work, in the grocery store, with family, etc?

            This is not the case with me. He is the common denominator in my angry episodes. Inteteresting. . .

    • I posted a bit back that I could not believe how different sex was with someone who cares about you. It’s really amazing! I can hardly believe how fulfilling my sex life is right now. As boyfriend pointed out nicely, sex is something you do with someone not something you do to someone.

        • Me too!
          I have had one partner for 25 years and he has sucked! I mean really he is just a total selfish self-absorbed jack ass. At first I thought- oh hell no never again! Now – I am thinking – oh hell yes! I cannot wait! It would be the biggest kibble ever if he knew I never had sex again. Nope- that’s is not going to be the end of my story. “She died and old shriveled up maid.” Hella no!
          “She died really, really happy and had a ton of great sex!” Now, that is going to be my epitaph!

    • I would like to point out to all chumps who were told they didn’t measure up in bed that, according to my observations, cheaters almost ALWAYS project their own faults and insecurities onto you.

      So if you are being told you were no good in the sack, it’s because your cheater was afraid HE (or SHE) didn’t measure up, not YOU.

      Remember that when trying to understand any and all insults and criticisms they hand out. Ninety-nine times out of 100 it’s about them, not you.

  • Nice question

    My X constantly tried to convince me I was not good at anything and that I needed her to succeed. She does not even have a high school diploma (I have a BS degree in computer science). She worked at hotels banquets, waitress and at retail stores while I worked as a Web Developer making about 5 times more than she does. Yet she always made me feel like I sucked! The biggest thing she tried to do is make me feel like I could never be a good parent and did her best to make sure I was never involved in parenting decisions by saying things to me about my child hood that I told her in confidence.

    Fast forward, I discovered I am a really good parent. Very organized! Re-organized the entire home and I found stuff all over the place because my X was so disorganized. For example she had so many Clorox bottles all over the house that it took almost 3 years before I needed to buy more for cleaning.

    With my X I never cooked and the few times I tried she would ridicule me so I stoped. Fast forward, with lots of experimentation and hot dogs as a backup I can say that I am a pretty decent cook. My daughters loves my food etc…

    What I came to realize is that my X was not really telling me that I needed her to succeed. What she really was saying is that she needed me for her to succeed but could not accept that fact so to make herself feel better she had to try and push her control over me. At some point it got to her head and she took it another step further and had an affair.

    One note, any relation where one person has to try and control the other is an awful relationship. Does not matter the salary difference or income difference. Be happy with yourself and what you do and live within your means. Your significant other (assuming they are normal) will appreciate that and love you just the same as equals.

    • My narcissistic X tried to present herself as the sacrificing golden parent who did everything for our kids. She did a lot, but it was all for her and what she saw as “perfect” in a family she never had. The kids? She saw them as reflections of her and not real people. Now that me and the kids have our own lives together, she is utterly enraged and does anything she can to interfere (ie control) the situation whilst criticising every little thing I do (some are comical) as “controlling”. She is obsessed with being controlled whilst wanting to monitor every little thing in my life – she even kept a calendar for the first 18 months setting out what I was doing with the kids.

      You’re right about the control point – oh, to have my life over again !!

    • Yes, I got the terrible parent thing from my ex too. I didn’t know how to parent, I didn’t understand the kids, yada yada yada. She used this as an excuse to move our agreed upon joint custody from 50% to my having two nights a week and alternate weekends, then to one night a week and occasional weekends, and then a default of always with her unless I arranged periodically to have time with them. Whole thing sucked for me (and wasn’t good for the kids either).

      In the meantime, the kids fought more and more at her house, and eventually grew to hate each other. My two daughters to this day have nothing to do with each other – bring up one in conversation with the other and they shut it down immediately. And when they fought at her house, and she couldn’t manage it any more, she would call me to come over and settle them down. She even said to me at one point, “This dynamic of you coming in and resolving their fights at my house is unhealthy for them.” I had been through the ringer with the loss of time with them, and didn’t have the strength to call her out on that crap on the spot. In her defense, they fought at my house too, but it generally wasn’t as bad, and was worst right before drop-off, when I couldn’t enforce consequences on them.

      Years later, I’m finding that I know what I’m doing when it comes to parenting, and regret the lack of my influence in their lives during their pre-teen and teen years together.

      Hugs. Strength. Peace.
      aeronaut

    • what a nasty and hurtful way to be treated. And honestly, even if – say – you WERE not a smash career success or – say – your cooking wasn’t stellar, how is being mean and cruel going to help? How? She was making you feel small to inflate her own stupid, fragile ego, like middle school bullies do, but are supposed to grow out of doing.

      Hideous.

    • Add me to the bad parent list. Know what’s funny, they now live with me full-time. Was I really a monster like portrayed? LOL! Actions speak louder than words. Kids right now aren’t even speaking to the X. Hate I had to go through hell mentally to get here. It was worth it because now the mind fuck channel is blocked from my life!

      • My daughter is going in the same direction. We are almost at the finish line as she is realizing the same thing your kids have.

      • Mine also told me I was a bad parent. If I tried to reprimand our daughter (you know actually parent) he would pull her away and say “Let’s get away from mom, she’s crazy.” He also on several occasions accused me of being an abusive parent.

        Yet when he left, he left her with me. When she spends time with him, he has trouble getting her to listen to anything he says. Which he blames on me for telling her he was incapable of being a parent.

        I started taking my daughter to therapy to help with the seperation transition and it turns out she is having difficulties with her because he doesn’t listen! She has complained of him only doing things with her that he wants to do and never asking her any questions about her life, likes, etc. Absolutely no complaints about me. So I guess I want’ the bad parent after all.

    • Some of the cheater accusations are downright hilarious, when you view them from the rear view mirror years out. Hannibal was a minimalist, I am not, and have my collections–of Christmas ornaments, books, thimbles, photographs, etc. The funniest accusation Hannibal dropped on me was that I was interested in “possessions at the expense of people.” Even in the hurricane eye of the mindfuck, I shook my head at that one–I’ve always been about ‘people,’ making strong connections, helping others when I can. What he really meant was he thought I preferred my collections to him. Hmmm, he may have been right.

  • Who I thought I was? After years of mental and verbal abuse, I thought I was the most worthless, depressed, and stupid person in town. I thought people thought I was these things. (Because that’s what he told me.)

    After finally hitting bottom and knowing it was leave or LEAVE, I found my anger, and me. I’ve discovered not only am I a pretty upbeat and positive person, I’m pretty damn sharp. Moved into a new job career, got out of debt. I’m living a BS free life. Most of all – i have the respect of my children, friends, colleagues, and most importantly-ME.

    I know who I am. I am awesome. I am rock solid.

  • I thought I was like most married older women I knew, putting up with a guy that was moody and a pain in the ass a lot of the time but who I loved and was committed to and who needed me to look after him! Ha!
    Who I am now: a vibrant, happy woman enjoying my new home and this new new adventure! I can’t believe how really happy I’ve become. No more worrying about his agenda, what he wants and putting my wants aside. I’m free to do as I please! This is actually the first time I have had the luxury of just looking after me for over 50 years and it’s awesome!

    • Your comment: I could have written it myself! I’m still trying to find my legs and myself after the whole ordeal. But I am so much LIGHTER without him. And now I am free to do as I see fit, for myself and it’s exciting (and a bit scary). But at 55, isn’t it time for me? My son’s are so supportive and pushing me to go live my dreams. It’s take awhile, but I’m beginning to see how very lucky I am that this all happened!

      • Most definitely time for you! Go live those dreams and yes we are lucky to be free of the burden of these disordered morons!
        Best of luck to you!

      • How many times did I give up a movie, a dinner engagement, a family party because he didn’t care for those people. I just sucked it up and went along to get along. No more, now I do everything I want, buy what I want, go where I want,. Yes freedom from servitude is Priceless!

        • I have the same experience. Fuckwit didn’t like crowds and didn’t want to be around people. So I went alone to parties, dinners etc. he wanted to be alone except apparently not really. I feel myself waking up. I’m listening to music I like rather than whatever he chose. I’m doing things I like with people rather than staying in. I’m having friends for dinner or tea. Even though I am weighted down at times with sadness, I feel an awakening. I am developing a vision for my future alone and even a vision of what a great partner would be. Kind, caring, communicative, joyful, friendly, and loves me for me. It gives me pleasure to think he is alive today looking for me. Fun!

    • Yes. This. Spent my whole adult life looking after him and twisting myself into a pretzel to try to fill his black hole. No more. I am 57 next Saturday and living life for myself for the first time ever. It’s a great feeling. I am at meh too!

      • Happy Birthday in advance! It is amazing how much lighter life is without the burden of always trying to please the man child. Do you ever sit back and just listen to some “happily” married folks, it’s a real eye opener? I go to bed at night thinking “God, I’m glad I’m out of the crap”. Life is definitely what you make it. Albeit, if you have children to coparent with a nutcase, it’s Impossible to just tend your own needs. The longer I’m free from the burden of this man child the more I realize what a big favour Schmoopie did for me! Counting my blessings and then some!

          • Thanks Lyndaloo. I have a lot of living to do and I’m doing it. The fear of being alone is fading( even though I have a BF I know I’d be fine on my own), as is the bullshit that I’m nasty and nagging and unlovable. People do like me for me. Life is great on the other side, and thanks for the early birthday wishes!! BF is taking me to cirque de soleil!!

    • I so could have written your post! I’m 10 months fromD Day, the family home just sold, I’m 58 and looking forward to what’s next! I realize I spent 36 years trying to make someone else happy- now it’s my turn!

      • Wow! I’ll be 59 in 2 weeks , spent 32 years being awesome wife, rewarded with a 10 year affair with half his age alcoholic drug addict . Oh fathered a child they hid, she died and he wants me to help raise love child . He’s 69, I’m 10 months out and in a rental home for a month. Half the town cheers me on, other half doesn’t believe I can leave innocent child . What you gonna do but go to CN for support in middle of night. You guys are awesome and your mightiness is an inspiration, thank you

        • You have no obligation to this child, it isn’t yours. If you want to try to go for custody you can, but you don’t have a leg to stand on. He fathered a child, he is obliged to raise it. You can move on to do something you prefer. If this child is lacking a mother, your ex can pull in OWs relatives or find a different woman to raise his kid. It’s not your problem.

          • No No NO – He is NOT obligated to raise it. Please, I hope somebody helps to get this helpless baby a good adoptive couple that wants her. How sad is this.

    • lyndaloo

      Great post.
      I’m a bit different. My ex used to always say how great I was (nice guy covert narc with five years with three girlfriends) It was me who didn’t believe it. I just thought I was never good enough. I wanted to make him happy but it was like trying to push a planet sized rock. Now he is gone I have discovered I am as excellent as he said!! And no more rock pushing.
      I’m stronger, happier and lighter than I have ever been. I still have trouble figuring it all out. I thought I would be rubbish on my own but it seems the opposite is true.
      I think the mantra on this site should be “Trust that you don’t suck.”

      • I have exactly this too Capricorn. My ex used to say about me “oh EVERYONE loves Zhuchi, she’s great.” But when we were alone together his behaviour indicated he did not think this at all. I think he was jealous of me in lots of ways but he was too smart to ever SAY anything to run me down (until the end and post the end), but he managed to give me the FEELING I was as worthless as shot on his shoe.

        This is the hardest part for me – seeing myself as what I might actually be. I have absorbed his message very, very well and feel it will be a while before I truly meet my true self and give her a high five. There’s a lot of faking it til I make it right now.

        Today I am a 42 year old. Almost one year free from my second very crappy marriage and I feel old, VERY unattractive and unsexy, out of shape and a failure.

        What I DO know though is that I was always inclined to view myself that way so NOW is my opportunity to work through that and lay it to rest permanently.

        I will get there. I know it.

      • That’s the trouble with women, we underestimate all our qualities. Yet we’re often the ones making all the decisions about food, kids, doctors, finances, home renovations, schools the list goes on and on. And usually while holding down a job outside the home. We organize and keep everyone’s schedule, remember all special occasions, even for the in laws! Do you think there would be Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations if it wasn’t for Mums! Yet, some asshole comes along and after we given our love and loyalty for years and years, says we aren’t pretty enough, or sexy enough or whatever enough and we doubt ourselves. Meanwhile, if we take a good hard look at th ese useless assholes they are nothing but big crybabies, most never did a thing to help anyone ever, just whined about their unhappiness. We have to be brave and take a look at who we really are and know we are ENOUGH just as we are and in fact we are more then enough, we are AWESOME!! Maybe the mantra should be TRUST WE ARE AWESOME. Hugs!

      • For many more years will I be eating the shit sandwiches of sharing custody with a cheater who married his mistress, but thanks to CL and CN, I believe my best days are ahead, and I’m well on my way to Meh…

        My internal messages went from “Trust that you don’t suck” all the way to “I’m a proud member of chump nation, that mighty band of courageous people who turn betrayal into mighty wisdom.”

        Keep forging on fellow chumps!

  • Well I am still not quite a field Marshall!

    Mine gave me all sorts of mindfucks before and after DDay – I couldn’t do DIY, me helping other people “paralysed us” (wtf!!), we were disconnected (which explained to her why it took so long for me to notice she was in a long term affair – her lying even when I asked her, nope, that had nothing to do with it….), we never had sex (BS), I was selfish, I was cheating, I (basically insert whatever she was projecting on to me)….

    After the DDay I gave her (divorce day), all the projecting has continued but now I don’t give a fuck and just ignore it, unless it is relevant to court in which case the lawyer deals with it. Over time she has just shown herself to be a ranting head case.

    Now I do my DíY when I want, help other people when I want, have loads of sex with a kind girl who doesn’t do mind fuck games….

    But what am I now? I am me…. Not the caretaker of a narc who bent to their crazy making mind fucks. It’s a such a great feeling and for those struggling with NC – that is the reward that awaits you.

    • “I am me.”

      And you are enough. We all are enough, just as we are.

      My x always made me feel incompetent and small. Sadly, I bought into that, despite many years of successfully taking care of myself before encountering his sorry ass. Now I’m just about back to my old self.

      I also got the boring in bed thing. Waiting patiently for a special man to come along so I can prove to myself that was BS.

  • Who I thought I was:

    An unlovable, incapable, depressed wreck, hanging onto a toxic marriage for dear life while the life was literally sucked out of me. I thought I had no chance or choice for a better life then living with my serial cheating and verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically abusive X.

    Who I am:

    I am a very happy, healthy fun loving fabulous 50 something women who is thankful each and every day to have her life back. I play in bands, write, hang out with girl friends (fun single women seemed to come out of the woodwork once I left him). I stopped loathing myself. I stopped being lonely after I gave up trying to convince someone that clearly didn’t love me to please love me. There are lots of things I am capable of doing, maybe not in someone else’s way, but I give myself room to mess up, cry, throw a fit and then I hug myself and move on. Life is not so hard when you spend your time in love, hope, gratitude and joy!

  • During wreckonciliation, I peeked at ex’s journal. He wrote that I was mean and yelled so much that he and my kids were fearful of me. WTF? Of all things, I am definitely not a mean yeller. When I moved out two of my three kids chose to live with me full time, and the other happily spends his time between the two of us. So ex changed his story. Suddenly I was too laid back and let our teens walk over me, and that’s why the kids preferred me. So…. which is it, asshole? Hmmm. Or…. could it be that I am actually an sane and engaged mother who loves to laugh, cares deeply for her kids, and puts their needs first?!?

    • I saw messages of my cheating exW (and also a cheating exGF I saw for a little while after the cheating exW) to her friends about me. Seeing what they wrote about me was a pivotal moment – once denial died (denial being a powerful emotion, as strong as hopium) you really got to see in the head of a crazy person and not the lies they were telling you to keep their cake options. How they tried to justify their shitty behaviour to their friends. It was like reading about a different person and Made me realise you can’t relate to a crazy person.

  • I thought I was mentally ill to the extreme. He even had me committed. He told me I was psycho, delusional. Turns out, gaslighting does what they say it does. It erodes your sanity and your self-esteem. Many of my friends could not understand what was happening to me. I also was having crippling stomach pains of unknown origin.

    He left, I stopped dancing. It only took me a week to start becoming myself again. It’s been 6 months now and I am a happy, healthy, social creature again. My life did a 180 in a matter of months. I thought I was a miserable person, turns out I was being psychologically tortured.

    • I am so sorry your X-asshole put you through that. What a horrible POS! There are no words for that kind of inhumanity.

      Kudos, though, on finding yourself after all of that. You have magnificent resilience!

  • He said I wasn’t a good enough mother and that is why our baby died (a miscarriage).

    The truth is that I am the best parent I can be. I am raising my 3 kids (4, 3 and 2) on my own. I just vacuumed before breakfast and will get 3 kids their vitamins, fed, dressed and out the door to the library then the grocery store. I will manage 3 kids in the store, then come home to carry in groceries, put them away, cook meals, play outside with the kids, read books with them, tuck them into bed. Where is he right now?! And I will do laundry, wash the dishes, sweep the floors again, take out the trash cans recycling. Wipe the counters, kiss boo boos and break up inevitable sibling fights in the afternoon…

    He has one supervised visit per week (that my oldest has mentioned a few times he sleeps through).

    • You sounds like a great mom! What a jerk your ex was. My stbx said he got involved with OW the first time when our kid was 6 months old after he saw me struggle with breast feeding. It was a sign of how unloving I was and a bad mother. That doesn’t even make sense!

      • These are both beyond cruel. During pregnancy and with a newborn are some of the most vulnerable times in a woman’s life. It should not be hard to “trust they suck”.

      • Yes pregnancy and postpartum were when mine had affairs too, complaining that I smelled like breast milk but also complaining if I asked him to watch the baby or kids while I took a shower. Normal people don’t do that. I’m so glad that you can see your worth AlohaFreedom and you are free of that lazy terrible shit.

      • And StarryEye, that is the ugliest thing to say to someone. I’m so sorry you had to hear that from someone you loved, that you even had to consider that craziness. I know how the echoes of that kind of cruelty stay with you. Thank you for trying to breastfeed your baby. Thank you for loving your little one so well, when you also needed love.

      • Aloha, Sage

        Fuckers! There are no words for this cruelty. They are just like my x monster- PSYCHOPATH(S)!!!!! I am so sorry Aloha.

        My demon was jealous of the breastfeeding. “He’s always on your tit! Stop breastfeeding. That’s why I bought you the pump. We are stopping and feeding him REAL food”!!!!
        He would stare at me, 2 inches from my boys face as I nursed. It sickened me. All that nursing while I was in utter fear and brainwashing torture. I still put my baby first. He’s number one.

        Ya I was a “bad mother” while he terrorized us the first week after he was born. He grabbed my baby and stormed around the house screaming and torturing us. I was terrified he would kill my baby. There was so much fear. I can’t write it.

        He said I’d “crumble and was weak” when
        we were wreckonciling.
        Ha. What I did!
        Lured him back home to confront the lies. Secretly Videotaped! His violence.
        Got him arrested 2times in 2 months. Ankle monitor! Yay
        Then weak lil me packed up our townhouse with my 6 month old. By my fucking self thank you. Arranged for storage. Moved twice, alone. Drove across country with 18 year old kitty and baby. Alone. Drove back and forth alone 3 times. Took photos of our shit. Told off abusive landlord. Told off DSS. Protected my child from the lies his incestuous sister spread about me.

        Found a new home in a different state. Alone again. I did all this without the help of a support system. I have always been alone.

        He said I couldn’t support myself. In 2 months I have 7!!! Patients for my home practice. They love and appreciate my natural medicine. They pay for my advice. I’m supporting us without his fucking money. Since he isn’t just a pathological lying, serial cheating, violent, psychopath – he’s also a deadbeat dad. Well I don’t want his filthy money. He can shove it up his cheap ass, amongst other things.

        I realized I am awesome. He’s a low life. I have double his IQ. I am moral, kind, unique, loving, generous, a wonderful healer, and a DAMN GOOD MOTHER.
        I thought I was broken, frail, and not worth living. After his abuse, and other cruel narcissists’ abuse, I pondered giving up my baby for adoption. I was suicidal for months.

        Now I am struggling, yet living. I am FIGHTING back now. I will endure. He is dust in the wind. I exorcised that demon from our lives.

        • devastated,

          glad you’re free now! But I hope you’ll reconsider letting your ex asshole get away without contributing money to your son. It will come in handy & is totally separate from any custody issues. (Men still try to use it to strong arm their exwives into surrendering their rights kid’s to support, just to be left alone.)

          Keep at it & live well. You are mighty!

          • Dear Doctor’s Wife

            I grapple with the child support. I do need it. The reason I don’t poke the bear is because I’m terrified he will attempt custody or visitation. Apparently, being a violent woman beater does not imply you will hurt children?!?!WTF
            I was warned he would get partial custody. Even though he’s been arrested 4! Times for assaulting me. I’m scared to death of that.
            He’s truly a sick pos. He said numerous times that my baby “has a sexy penis”!!!!! DSS and counselors didnt seem shocked or bothered by it. He’s demented and getting away with it.
            So, I’m in hiding from him and his evil family. I believe they’re all incestuous. They want my baby.
            As a side note, I attempted to get a restraining order on him, to no avail. The judge took his side. It was a nightmare. Now I will never trust the courts again.
            Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate them. I’m still scared, still extremely traumatized, but I will keep on for my baby. He needs to be protected.

        • Thank you for sharing your story! I needed this testimony that we can overcome even the most horrible abuse and mental torture from the cluster Bs. I discovered something “new” and sick today about my STBX. It set me back and hard. I also have to go to our first hearing next week and I have not been in the same room with him since he left. He has only just discovered recently that I actually know about his hidden creepy life. Your story gives me strength. I can handle this. I can be strong and I am a good person. He is the crazy person and he is NOT a good person at all! I am. I no longer believe his bullshit. I deserve better. I have this message taped on my bathroom mirror – Know Your WORTH.

          • Dear Perfectlife

            Thank you. It was a very hard road. It was nothing short of a living hell. It was my biggest test.
            I’m not sure what you are going to court for. But I must warn you, be prepared.
            I tried to get a restraining order on the demon and it blew up in my face! I showed video evidence of the violence. He attacked me with my baby in my arms! He was so scared and crying with his arms up to protect himself. 😭
            The judge did not care. All he focused on was my language. He said I “provoked him”!!! When what i really did was CONFRONT him about his deviant sexual tastes and sick porn. Apparently, I’m not supposed to talk back to a man, Or tell the truth, Or be pissed that he says disturbing things about my child!!! That’s provoking.
            I’m telling you this to warn you.
            Judges are often narcissists or psychopaths. They love siding with the abusers. I didn’t look good, what with my crying and shaking. I guess they think that’s unstable – to have feelings and express them after being brainwashed and tortured.
            Please be careful in front of the judge. Show NO EMOTION whatsoever. If the ex tries to bait you, don’t reply. Be indifferent. Stick to facts. Don’t mention feelings, thoughts, or despicable behavior.
            I’m praying for you.

      • When I asked my ex for a glass of water while breastfeeding our infant, he said, “what are you complaining about? Women in Africa have their babies in the fields and get right back to work”. I wasn’t complaining…just a glass of water.After that I learned not to ask him for anything since he couldn’t even meet a simple request. Years later I found out he was seeing some woman 2 hours away during that time and was supposedly taking work trips instead of ‘helping’ with our 3-year old.

    • I can’t imagine anyone saying something so cruel to you, let alone the man you were sharing your life with. I’m so sorry.

    • I caught my breath when I read your first sentence and it took several seconds to release it. I am so sorry for the pain that cruel accusation caused you. What a monster.

    • I cannot believe someone would even say those words to you. I am so sorry. And, of course, you are a great mom!

    • This brought tears to my eyes. The viciousness in his statement is absolutely heart-breaking.

      Sending a virtual hug to you and your kids.

    • AlohaFreedom–That first sentence would be grounds for a divorce at that moment.

      How mean! Miscarriages happen. They just do. To blame the mother in any way, shape or form–that is beyond thoughtless. It is deliberate cruelty!

      I am so glad that you are free of that toxic, vicious snake masquerading as a human being.

  • I got ze olde 100% blame shift / gaslight bullshit. I swallowed it all, 100% … hysterical bonding here we cum!

    I have a large collection of SomeEEcards that I’ve assembled in a folder on my computer, all culled from CL. It makes a nice “flip card” collection to review whenever I think I may have made the wrong decision. Like those stick figure animations we made on notepads as kids, a quick flip through my CL SomeEEcards puts it all in crisp perspective.

  • CL!!! You’re my hero! That was awesome!!!

    The only complaint that I got was I put him on the back burner. He felt he was not getting enough attention. He wanted to travel.

    I was running a 40 acre horse farm, working a part time job turned business, doing all the household chores and looking after my severely disabled child. So sorry you were on the back burner, cheater. Whatever.

  • I thought I was a kind person, a good mother, a supportive wife. I thought I was an independent woman who could handle what life threw at me. And I was right. I’m all those things. I had just hitched my wagon to someone who didn’t recognize or appreciate my qualities.

    • newdaydawning,
      Thank you. You just gave me a light bulb moment. I have struggled for so long with the thought that I had always seen myself as a strong, independent, and capable woman. How did I let this happen? You just reminded me that I, too, am all those things. Even though I struggle to do get everything done, what I have accomplished and how I have managed to take care of my 3 kids (one of whom was born after he left), 3 pets, and a house could only be accomplished by someone who is exactly the things I thought I was.

      • Same. I thought I was a strong, independent woman who would never allow herself to be abused. I thought, well, he’s not hitting me or calling me names, so he’s not abusing me. How wrong I was.

        Now I feel mightier than ever! I’ve reclaimed ME.

        • Same. I thought thought it was a busy life loyally ‘for better for worse’ living with someone who was stressed and grouchy. I thought my role to keep things smooth at home and to lighten the load for everyone else and that he made bad choices to yell, sulk and stonewall efforts to connect and communicate but that as things got better (in his work, kids needs etc) so would he…

          Really I was being controlled by anger, gaslighting, disrespect, emotional and psychological abuse. He was making these and other choices. It sure hurt to find out about the cheating choices and to let go of my dreams that things would improve and we had a secure future.

          Now after ‘leaving a cheater’ I am ‘gaining a life’ that has time for great conversations with my ‘kids’, and friends, laughter and kindness. It is peaceful and pleasant by comparison. There are details still being sorted out but these will happen eventually. Meanwhile I am feeling healthier, happier and looking forward to a better future.

          • Oh, onwards, how I relate to your post. I’m only 9 months out but I sense that MEH is well within my grasp when I think about all of his negativity that I’m leaving behind. I get a shiver down my spine at the thought of going back to that life under his angry, dark, the-world-is-out-to-get-me cloud. I honestly don’t know how or why I let it go on so long, but at least part of it was that my hopeful and positive nature made me always believe that he could improve, be happier. It was never going to get better, and he’s so good at hiding it in the beginning that I’m sure OW has time to get fully reeled in before she starts to realize who this man really is. I ALMOST – I said almost! – feel sorry for her.

            Me? I feel happier every day.

        • Yes, the word needs to get out, just because he doesn’t hit you is not a reason to think there is not abuse.

          I was sure I was crazy because well, he didn’t hit me.

          • I agree. We all need to educate others on abuse, especially the emotional kind. I just feel stupid for allowing myself to stay for so long and for not RECOGNIZING that it was abuse.

  • This challenge may be better stated as: “Who THEY Thought You Were, Who You Really Are”

    Aside from the obvious (she thought I’d do what I’d always done — listen patiently, defer to her feelings and do everything possible to keep things quiet), but in the spirit of what CL lays out as an example:

    Kunty Kibbler suddenly and without warning starting accusing me of never having dealt properly with “issues I brought into the marriage.” She never identified them (of course; keeping it as a general statement encourages the chump tendency to continually reflect and self-examine) but insisted that she was “tired of doing all the work” (going through therapy), and that now it was up to me to “get the needed help” so that I could better accept her need to fuck others.

    What I momentarily lost sight of, but fairly quickly regained, was my own sense of always having been the stable one in the relationship: the one with an innate sense of self, a high degree of inner peace, and an ability to take life as it came and make the ebst of things with a positive attitude. I did not spend 20 years constantly finding reasons why life wasn’t satisfying — that was her.

  • Who I thought I was: after the years of gas lighting, I didn’t know who I was. I felt depressed, trapped, friendless, incompetent.

    Who I really am: I don’t know if I know yet. I am still discovering different aspects of myself, two years (Sept 2 2015 divorce) down the road. I work hard and have gotten a FT job after years of being a SAHM, I love going out with my friends (I have reconnected with friends from school, and made some new ones, too), and I am free to make decisions for myself (some good, some bad).

    Sometimes I get down, but that’s just part of life. But I am free to face my feelings and choose how to cope with “the mean reds” as well as savor the moments of pure, unadulterated joy.

    • THIS-
      Who I thought I was: after the years of gas lighting, I DIDN’T KNOW WHO I WAS. I felt depressed, trapped, friendless, incompetent. Add in the old, stupid, fat, and ugly that no other man would want onto that as well.

      Who I really am: A smart, funny, dedicated, kick-ass single mom. And as it turns out, pretty and VERY passionate now that I have am amazing Mr. Nice Guy in my life. I also got a promotion at my job after the ex had passed away a few months ago. I have been busy becoming me again & I love it!

      • Everything they say is a lie. Often some shmoopie fed lie. I got (alternatively)
        It’s only natural that you lost sexual desire after you saw me give birth to the kids. (Huh?)
        You only have sexual desire for me no love. (Huh?)

        It’s a lie. Everything they say or do is a lie. Everything.

    • Ditto on the who I thought I was. Amazingly accurate description kmanning.

      High five on finding out who you really are.
      I was so unsure of who I was I started making a list to traits I desired in others and worked, and am still working, to become those things. I have the best fun ever with my son now that we don’t have Narkles the Clown always putting down our plans for fun or screaming that he’s tired from travel and can’t we just stay home so he can rest. Because clearly we could not go do things without him as to him we were just extensions of him. I also reconnected with old friends and got a new job that I totally rock! Getting a promotion within the year if all goes well and holding my own financially with a five year plan to move to a smaller house with no mortgage insight so I can save enough money to retire someday. I make friends easily with good people and I throw back any disordered folks who find themselves on my boat. Learned I am capable of being loved like an adult and have the ability to do the same.

  • Who I thought I was:
    I thought I was weaselly and weak when I stooped to snooping to find out what my wife was doing. I beat myself up, firmly believing I had wholly lost my integrity and was a shameful disgrace of a man…who of course was not attractive or desirable to his wife, given these traits. Any strong individual would have simply stood up for himself, left his wife, and not even bothered with those couple of months of snooping to try to “monitor’ what she was doing. I was pathetic.

    Who I really was:
    A man who couldn’t believe how quickly his wife appeared to “change” before his eyes, caught in a situation for which none of us are prepared. My snooping was a misguided, temporary, futile attempt to come up with a way salvage my marriage in the face of my wife’s unrelenting lies. But if a 400-page novel were written about the end of my marriage, my snooping would occupy 5 pages. It doesn’t define me as a person, and it’s not the reason my marriage ended. I had a couple of months of weakness, which I recognized and corrected. Two months before I left her for good, I stopped snooping and *apologized* to my wife…while she was still cheating on me! That’s not weakness. That’s taking personal responsibility for my flaws and poor judgment, regardless of the situation, and regardless of the abuse I was enduring. That’s character. That actually IS integrity. Damn fucking right!

    • Yes! Me too. I felt enormous guilt over being the marriage police. Not who I am. Apologized. Desperate attempt to save the marriage. Exactly my feelings, too.

    • JC, please don’t beat yourself up for becoming a detective to find out what you damn well had a right to know. There’s a huge difference between respecting privacy and revealing deception. Woody was furious at me for “violating his privacy”–but I never would have looked at his devices if I hadn’t quite by chance discovered that he was using them to lead a secret life of betrayal and lies. Cheaters aren’t entitled to have their boundaries respected when they are so flagrantly violating yours.

      • I agree. JC you’re not morally lacking in anyway for trying to find out what’s really going on when your spouse is deceiving you. It’s completely normal to seek safety and there’s a lot of danger to your psyche in learning that foundational “truths” about your spouse and your marriage are no longer true. And I agree they lose their right to privacy when they’ve been violating their vows and violating your completely valid expectations of honesty. Also, there’s a whole thread of shaming around “snooping” or “pain shopping” in RIC and in 12 step. I fell into that trap- stay in your lane, don’t snoop, more will be revealed… that’s all blameshifting BS in my opinion that keeps the partner vulnerable to more hurt and loss and maintains the power imbalance that secrecy and deceit creates in favor of the abuser. If my spouse does something that is impacting me, putting me in harms way, I damn well have a right to investigate what the hell is going on. And my character is fully intact. No shame in it.

      • “There’s a huge difference between respecting privacy and revealing deception. ”

        So agree with this!

        The part that I find among the most difficult part of my post-betrayal life is the notion of “trust but verify.”

        I want to live in a world where people can trust each other. That is an ideal that now I have evidence to establish is not possible to reach… I used to give my trust, now I make sure people earn it before I invest more time in a relationship.

    • JC

      Hey! There isn’t anything wrong with snooping. You deserved the truth and that’s how you had to go about getting it! I too, felt bad about it. But that’s just because we are conscientious folks who respect others. These freaks didn’t deserve our respect. Snoop away! It’s actually a red flag: being a detective. Our intuition knows when something’s up. No need to apologize. They had it coming. If I didn’t snoop I wouldn’t know my demon ex had herpes! I wouldn’t know he had teen porn. Ugh. There’s more. Bottom line, snooping is our right. It’s protection. There shouldn’t be anything to find …

    • He actually had me feeling guilty about telling my Dad he was having an affair when I was feeling devastated and needed to talk to someone I knew loved me. Yes, what a horrible person I was for that. STBX couldnt’ take the possible tarnish to his reputation.

  • Let’s see. I could not fold the bath towels correctly or use the correct coffee cup. My divorce was finalized last week and I can use whatever coffee cup I want. The silly little things are what I think about now instead of the devastation of Dday. Close that chapter and move on to the next. Funny how many people are telling me how nice it is to see me happy. Now I’m going to finish my coffee.

    • I couldn’t break pasta correctly. I broke spaghetti in thirds (to better fit in the pan), and I should have broken it in half. Three years from D-day, this marital memory has given me hours of amusement because of its absurdity.

      • Thirds?!? That doesn’t seem feasible to me. Granted, I shove it all down under the water, unbroken. And I’m an excellent cook btw, who thoroughly enjoys being in the kitchen every day.

        Amazing what gets tolerated, what becomes normal. What makes me choke up is reading about being bad in bed, not sexy, not desirable, cold etc. I became all that. It seems what was fabulous about our sex life was that he was in it. I wasn’t reacting to his fabulousless enthusiastically enough.

        • Ugh, what a collosal jerk!!!
          I bet you are thrilled to be rid of his “fabulous”, he deserves to have sex alone.
          I remember reading in my mom’s old magazines about how “frigid” women were…that was just a label that reflected badly an the accuser, NOT the woman.
          Flush that “cold” label and the rest of the lies right down the toilet, narcs are full of revisionist history and lack of sincere effort to form a loving, mutually happy relationship.
          Tender hearts are wasted on cheaters, I hope you get all the love you can hold in your future!

    • I could never serve him food with the “correct” spoon. Different foods required different sized spoons, to the point we had spoons from different patterns which were sized differently from our everyday set. Certain foods required the use of long-handled iced tea spoon. I never groked the code.

      • Oh my gosh, same thing, I got chastised so many times over 32 years because I couldn’t figure out the right size of spoon!! You can’t make this shit up !

  • By the time reconciliation rolled around I thought I was a nagging bitch who had let herself go, was inadequate in bed and incompetent at my job. He had me convinced too, that everyone, not just him thought this. “Do you ever wonder why you don’t have friends anymore? Because you never stop bitching and complaining.” “Your so anal-compulsive. No one can do or have anything around you because it messes up your perfect little world!”

    Turns out that the friends who came softly back after the divorce hated him; and, keeping a decently clean house is considered pretty normal in the world. It turns out what I was was an organized mom and teacher. That other people perceived me as patient and kind. And now that’s how I think of myself too. Nobody has yelled at me in years and I literally do not remember the last time I raised my voice to another human being.

    • YES!! Mine often told me that I had no friends, my family liked him better than me, etc. After he left, I had no problem finding friends to go out with. In 6 months, I’ve made more friends and had more good times than I had in the previous 7 years of marriage.

    • Omg! This!
      “Nobody has yelled at me in years and I literally do not remember the last time I raised my voice to another human being.”

  • I thought I was a miserable bitch that was solely responsible for all that went wrong in our lives.

    I was so broken in the months leading up to D’day that I was ready to leave him and my children because I believed they would be better off without me, he never showed anger or any real emotion except distain, I was all over the shop so it had to be my fault. He so messed with my head that at times I was even grateful that he had been willing to stay with me with all my faults. On day I even said to him I am supprised you have not left me to which he answered to my face “I was going to but thought better of it” cake eater.

    He was canstantly rude and judgemental and if I ever said anything or expressed that he had hurt my feeling he would state he had not intended to do so, it was just how I had taken it, implying that the offence was due to unresolved issues from my past (foo issues) he constantly remined me of my poor upbringing in comparrison to his superior one. His physical withdrawal from me was excused by implying that I had to be struggling emotionationlly some how to question his fidelity being a solid christian an all, or that he was tired and stressed from his constantly changing work situation.

    D’day – a decade long porn addiction, an affair with a man, multiple hook ups with men for oral sex, not to mention the years of lies and deciet and mindfucking behaviour

    Post D’day, I am calm, happy focused and in almost 4 years since D’day have attained two diplomas, am three months off finishing my degree, have sold and moved house twice, have supported my daughter through cancer journey (she is doing really well), have supported emotionaly and financially my eldest through his final year of high school and into a trade, even taught him to drive a manual car and we have found a spiritul home that has brought us all healing.
    I have even returned to my creative self and joined the church drama team.

    Ex is still in the church that chose him over us and now sits in the same seats as we did with my stepford replacment.

    • Thankful, I could have written this paragraph myself:
      “I was so broken in the months leading up to D’day that I was ready to leave him and my children because I believed they would be better off without me, he never showed anger or any real emotion except distain, I was all over the shop so it had to be my fault. He so messed with my head that at times I was even grateful that he had been willing to stay with me with all my faults.”

      Even now, my STBX’s only emotion is disdain. I started to buy into the fact that I was crazy. After he left, I began talking to married friends and it turns our my emotions were normal. I now make a point to let my daughter know ALL emotions are normal.

      • I had the same experience, all the things he said was a failure on my part, was just normal marriage stuff it wasn’t until this began to sink in that I began to realise I was being abused.

        His displeasure included shared responsibility to, pick the kids up from school, drop them off, cook meals, doing the washing, the shopping, taking kids to their sports, we both worked. He actually listed his having to do these things as a sign that I was a neglectful mother and wife. All in order to get custody of our children following separation. He totally ignored the fact that it was stated in docs to the court he had cheated, exposed our eldest repeatedlady to homosexual porn, and was hiding behind church elders as a way of dealing with it instead of seeking porfessional help. Oh and him hooking another victim and having her come with him to court both of them power dressed to match was a nice touch….DOuch

        • and also

          he is now remarried and willingly picks up and drops off the step kids to and from where ever. The new wife is even willing to allow him to unchaperoned take her 13yr old son and his male friends to places, alone. What the fuck is wrong with people.

  • I thought I was stuck. I thought I was obligated to sustain a marriage and partner no matter how horrible things were because to do otherwise would be shameful, bad for the kids, and an admission of failure.

    I am not stuck now. I work hard at things that are good for me and the kids. I am healthy, energetic, engaged in opportunities, and looking forward to what I will do with my next stage in life (empty nest in a few years).

    The littlest things used to be such huge productions (taking the kids to the park, for example) because the EX did not want to go, did not want to look bad by not going, did not want to come up with his own idea, did not want to waste so much time, etc. A whole weekend or three could come and go and we’d not be able to manage a simple family venture.

    Yesterday after I got home from work, one child and I loaded up our recreational equipment into the car that really is not big enough for it, zipped to the park, set up our gear, spent an hour enjoying ourselves with a physical activity neither of us ever even tried before the divorce, packed it all back up, and came home to make dinner together. And it was no big deal–just fun.

    Learning this took a while. The first year or two after our split, I mostly learned that the limited number of things he did in the home were not big jobs. Mowing the lawn took an hour, not all Sunday. Changing the water filter is a 10 minute job, not one that should keep a person busy 3 hours. Once I figured out that his contributions–ones he used to complain about incessantly as so time consuming and tricky–were things I could manage on my own while simultaneously doing the week’s laundry, I started learning how to relax and make time for “living” again.

    I am proud of some of the bigger accomplishments I’ve achieved post-divorce, but the real joys are in the day-to-day demonstrations of my competence and good humor. I am not stuck–I’m in charge of my choices.

    • “I thought I was stuck. I thought I was obligated to sustain a marriage and partner no matter how horrible things were because to do otherwise would be shameful, bad for the kids, and an admission of failure.”

      ^^^^THIS. Totally and completely.

      Ex and I had actually divorced in 2009, then remarried a year later because I thought he’d changed. Yeah, I was a HUGE chump.

      So when things started to unravel, I was determined to make it work. I refused to entertain the thought of leaving again because I had made the choice to marry him again (and a lot of people were against us getting back together) and I felt like I had made my bed and needed to lay in it, y’know?

      In one way, I’m thankful he did this because it freed me from the cage. I no longer have to suffer for the rest of my life with him just because I felt stuck.

    • Yes!! I thought I was stuck, too. The infidelity was both the worst thing to happen to me, and the best because it may have been the only way I had a “final straw” to leave the marriage.

      • Tempest, this is me exactly. I would STILL be with him if this hadn’t happened. My health would be worse, my self-esteem further shot, and who knows what else…

        His cheating was my way out. It was a HORRIBLE way out, but it was also a finality for me. Cheating was my red line. I refuse to be with a man who cheated on me.

    • Mine turned any outing into an ordeal as well. I’d try to get us together to go on a family bike ride. With him I had to plan an itinerary with times and a map, get the bikes out, fix whatever was wrong with the bikes, find his biking clothes, make sure we had snacks, and all of this while he judged every little step as wrong and too slow.

      Now if it’s a beautiful weekend I just say kids, let’s go for a ride. We go to the garage, get on the bikes and go. I take a little money in case we want to make an unplanned stop for a treat. It is glorious.

    • I also thought I was stuck. I saw signs before the marriage and chose to ignore them. I chose this, so I guess this is what I get. His infidelity and leaving me during cancer was the best thing to happen to me. I probably never would have left if not for it, plus it adds an extra layer of guilt for the divorce settlement.

      • Cancer Chump, our story is almost identical.

        Cancer gave me the clue-by-four hit needed to kick his gaslightighting, blame shifting, lying, cheating ass out.

        The only difference is my X felt no guilt moving in with prostitute AP (now pregnant girlfriend) or fighting me contentiously in divorce while I was fighting cancer.

        On DD (21 months ago now), he looked at me with his souless snake eyes and said he was at peace with his choices and he would make sure I got nothing.

        A great attorney, an outstanding mediator, solid case law ensured and provided otherwise.

        Like my sister said, “They are like snakes whose head has been cut off. They keep hissing for awhile but eventually they die”.

        Who I thought I was? An exhausted and sick wife, who loved her husband. I was trying to keep him happy and trying to survive his dark moods, pointing out my flaws and how things needed to change “or else” manipulating (unaware of his returned with a vengeance porn, prostitute addiction and hidden financial abuse). I was so beaten down. He knew exactly what he was doing and preyed on me like a wolf hunts sheep. I truly believe he hoped I’d die.

        Who I am now? Mighty and rising. I feel my inner beauty and light shining again. I am a person who knows their worth, trusts their gut and will never allow another person to make me sick again. 34 years of dark clouds, walking on eggshells and knots in my stomach. Nothing but sunshine and blue skies are in my extended forecast. ☀️

        In my darkest days after DD and cancer diagnosis, I repeated “Trust that they suck” and “Know Your Worth” as my mantras.

        I still do.

  • He said I wasn’t SPONTANEOUS. I planned too much.

    He’s right, though. And, maybe that is why I own my own home while he’s getting ready to move into the new schmoopie’s house. And, maybe that is why I take a travel vacation someplace cool with my kids every year. And, maybe that is why I had a pre-nup that was upheld in court. And, maybe that is why I have a blossoming 401K.

    He wasn’t wrong about who I was. He was wrong not to value it.

  • I was a fearful sedentary homebody that never wanted to do anything fun. I was adventure adverse. My fretful and rule-following nature was not only a buzz kill but also a burden he had to shoulder. Sure I worked a demanding job, kept an incredibly tidy house and was responsible for schlepping the kids to every activity and appointment but dammit – I was no fun. Really, he had no choice but to have a five year affair with a co-worker.

    Well, I really had no choice but to divorce his cheating ass and guess what I discovered? I’m the motherfucking definition of fun!!! Since my divorce I have hiked hundreds and hundreds of miles (including in Italy) and have kayaked countless rivers and streams. It is amazing how fearless I am, how resourceful and what a student of the natural world I have become. The catalog of wildlife and flora I have encountered feels like a badge. At 56 I have come to the realization that I am truly, to my core, an outdoors woman.

    So, right this very minute, my house could sure use a good cleaning but it is autumn in the mountains of Georgia where I live and I hear my favorite trail calling.

    • Five stars, Paula! A chump heroine after my own heart! I’m 55, and I too love the outdoors, hiking, and kayaking. I walked almost 250 miles in France last month. Back home now, exploring and hiking as the gorgeous fall season starts. Happy hiking! You have earned that badge of courage.

    • Paula.
      Exactly this. Exactly. I was not spontaneous, a killjoy, too anxious etc etc etc.
      Nope. Whatever he was doing it was sucking the life out of me. Now I’m fearless (ish) and doing new things every day. I even scare myself sometimes by the person I’m turning it to!!
      Great post.

  • What I thought I was: good supportive person trying to manage partner’s descent into what seemed like prolonged depression–catering to moods, trying to cheer him up, thoughtfully encouraging him to seek professional help, being understanding about his sexual dysfunction.

    What I truly was: the person he wanted GONE, so he could go forward with Schmoopie.

    Being a passive aggressive whiny manchild, he thought, “I know! I’ll just be in a bad mood and withold sex for two years! She’ll get fed up and leave!”

    What broke me in the aftermath, until I reached meh, was thinking back on all the time and mental energy and emotional labor I poured into that black hole. What can I do to fix it, fix him, make it better? The realization that the answer was: LEAVE. Get gone. I was the problem–well, it took a while for that to stop bringing me to my knees.

    What I am now: independent, happy, in tune with reality. So much better than living in a state of mindfuck.

    • I could have written every word that you did, Cleo. You said it all so well. You are a champion. So glad you LEFT and are free now. Carry on with being awesome.

    • This is really the story of my marriage too. Life feels so much better when you don’t live with someone who secretly hates you but is too much of a coward to do anything about it.

      • Isn’t that the truth? They really do seem to secretly hate us, but are cowards and won’t say so. My coward used to rant that I was just like all the other women–his mom, his sisters, and our daughter. You’re all the same! he’d scream. Mommy issues much? Sexist? I love that I’m not devoting my life to such a worthless person anymore.

  • Cheater tried to convince me I was a cold, negative harpy.

    Who I am really am is resilient, caring, intelligent, adventurous and positive and giving! Asshole projects and projected his lifelong soulless empty self on me all the while extracting ME from ME, using those traits in a facade to share with fuckbuddies, neighbors and other exterior sources for validation.

    I have always volunteered in numerous ways. His initial reaction, and a red flag that I spackled, was why do THAT?! Why give your time and energy to someone or something when there is ZERO public display of supposed awesomeness aka public kibbles.

    Toxic toxic toxic people.

    • UX brought up a very good pet. Asshole was trying to convince me of What I Was based on HIS narrative. I never truly accepted it. I did do thing to improve my relationship with him and myself because feedback and self improvement is always good.

      However, with these creeps it’s not constructive in order to improve the bond because their is NO Bomd. What they spew is destructive and I’m confident they know it. In order to control you they need you to believe and accept you are shitty, like themselves. I never stopped believing The Who or What I Am. He worked very very very hard to convince my kids that I was perpetually negative. That abuse was the worst and unforgivable.

        • YES! Some people have a very hard time with this. I truly believe, this is all scripted and intentional. I think the disordered are evil. I don’t give a fuck if underneath their evil is a frightened fuzzy bunny wrapped in silk, the rest of them is calculating and evil. Ironically I believed her attempts to demean me, until I caught her. Even though we (I mean I) did try to reconcile, catching her cheating was an epiphany. It was her all along.

          • I agree, even if there is a broken person underneath it all, there is also a cold, calculating evil. They really do take pleasure in lying and causing you pain.

  • Oh the names I was called! Two of his favorites were “Bitch and whore” when he was the one cheating with the hired hand. But I digress,

    The worst has come after the divorce and the alienation of the kids. I was told “This is all your fault because you got remarried “. “You will never see the kids, they will never move back in with you. It is all your fault.”

    Those were the worst, when all of his actions are my fault. I made him do everything. Talk about a mind-screw. Yes, I am therapy because of it.

  • My cheater was a champion at projection, but I didn’t realize that at the time, so his words hurt. And, he once told me that he had seen, in me, the “worst a human being can possibly be.”

    Well, no. Actually, I’m kind and compassionate. I have morals; I have values. I’m loyal. I put the needs of others before my own.

    I’m not a saint. I have a snarky mouth and little patience for stupidity or ridiculousness. But, I know how to love and be loved. My children, including the daughter he and I have together, are my delight, and sadly, he essentially has no relationship with her for several years.

    My faith is paramount in my life.

    So, yeah, no. I’m not a perfect person, but I certainly don’t believe that I exhibit the “worst of a human being. ”

    Wow. Thirty plus years later, and so many changes and so much growth, and I still feel the sting when I remember those words.

    • Just reading those words caused me pain. Its understandable 30 years hasnt erased them. It’s pretty scary knowing these things they say about us are really truths about themselves… It makes you wonder what horrible things they’ve actually done to think of themselves as the worst a human being could possibly be. The one i found most chilling is being called pure evil. I knew he was talking about himself and that is so scary. It takes some of the pain away knowing their accusations are just them telling on themselves.

  • I thought I was lazy, financially incompetent, forgetful, careless, disgusting, ugly, dirty, stupid, no street smarts, not sexy, no sense of humor, not fun, no friends, jealous, insecure, too good of a memory, evil, fat, low earning, care too much what people think of me, insane/mentally ill, liar, bruise too easily, button pusher, flirt that cannot tell men to go away, ungrateful, destroyer of erections, sexually disfunctional, too sensitive, spoiled. Basically he told me i am everything that’s wrong with the world. The list is too long to write all the things he told me I was. I believed it all. Im still working on reversing a lot of this damage.

    Turns out I actually make way more money than him. And once i sat down and said wait a fucking minute!!! I realized he’s stealing our money and I can actually afford our house on my own and a better lifestyle without him. It was a light bulb moment. I called my mom I was so horrified that I was literally living scenes out of Gaslight the movie. I have multiple degrees and wear a suit and heels to work everyday. How am I dirty? What does dirty even mean? I work full time keep an impecible home and had dinner in front of him every single day when he walked in the door. I donate everything that is “donateable” when the hospital asks me for it. I volunteer and help the community. Just everything was the opposite of what he convince me was reality. I feel kind of sick to my stomach writing this list out. I’ve tried to turn my torture into something good by joining support groups to help women that are still being abused. I love this group and everyone in it💛.
    My therapist even said to me how in the world did he do this to you? She likened him to a cult leader. He’s not that smart but he is one hell of a skilled abuser.
    Leave a cheater/abuser gain a life…
    abso-fucking-lutely! 💃🕺

    • My perceptions were very similar to yours. By the end, I was so broken that my mantra to myself was, “You are worthless.” Any time I thought I might want or need something (like sleep, food, etc.) — I would just remind myself that I didn’t deserve it. I was a burden. I hadn’t earned my place in the family (still unraveling how he got me to believe that line of shit).

      It breaks my heart that any of us ever felt that way.

      One of the benefits of realizing that STBX is a pathological liar — is that I’ve gained the ability to see all of the abuse so much more clearly. I also can see myself with my OWN eyes (not his pathological, abusive eyes); I was a devoted wife and mother — my family was THE priority to me. My family — minus the abuser — is still my priority. No scenario exists that would make that change for me. So, while I’m not perfect, I now know I sure as hell did not deserve the shit he dished out for over two decades.

      Three cheers to leaving a cheater/abuser (emphasis on the abuser portion!)!!!

      • It breaks my heart too JesssMom. Two decades omg you are a strong woman. I totally understand the strange thing of convincing yourself you are worthless. Instead of “You are worthless” I would repeat over and over to myself “You deserve this” so I could keep myself quiet and take whatever he was doing to me. If I deserved it then I could apologize, fix it, stay small, all to get his rage to go away. Standing up for yourself results in punishment. Just taking it results in the complete loss of self. The only thing left to do is leave.
        Cheers to us and everyone on their way out and everyone that has successfully left. Cheers to rebuilding and to all the strong men and women and all the excellent parents getting another person’s opinions of worth out of our heads.
        Xx

  • I still remember CL story & use it as example. I used to have a $9 job so I lined my ducks started making copies of
    docs, lawyer up etc..

    English is my second language even though English is his second language for him as well, when he was on the discard stage he used to make fun of my accent using my kid too as a “joke”… (man child)
    Guest what ❓❗️I found a job as a teacher using my native language & I am as certified teacher & professional as the other colleagues & I have an “accent” & guess what Mr. Cheater pants❓❓❗️With my income , child support & spouse alimony my monthly income is higher than yours.. 💪🏽 This is who I am: professional, great mom & a woman with character. yes‼️ Happy Friday!

  • Mine convinced me that I was untidy, overweight, not experienced in bed and therefore not a good or desirable wife. And guess what? I AM messy, have about 40lbs to lose, and haven’t slept with many men (y’know: was picky about who I f&cked before marriage and was faithful throughout the marriage). But, at the end of the day, I am a lovely person, have managed to appeal to other guys since our divorce in spite of these oh-so-awful traits, and was a damn good wife. Now my apartment is a cozy, happy home with papers on the desk and stacks of books on the floor and warm fire crackling on the hearth. I couldn’t be happier!

    • I refer to my desk “mess” as my “organized mess.” It definitely appears messy, but I know where everything is. When I clean the mess, I can never find anything. Hahaha! 🙂

      • I am a messy desk person too and one Christmas (despite the fact that the whole house was clean and everything was done) he went into my office (no where near his desk or bothering him in any way) and dumped everything onto the floor. He was just fucking mean.

  • Who I thought I was: Dedicated, good mom, sexy & loving wife, friend, etc. living with a decent, hardworking man. Experiencing good & bad times together for over 30 years…

    Who I Really Am: Honest, loving woman who is strong, independent & outright “good person” who has family, friends in her life. On my own now trying to find meh still.. but not there yet. He & his whore are still together living with their evil deeds. At least I live with honesty & self respect if nothing else!

  • After decades of emotional abuse and belittling, I thought I was unintelligent and less-than. He would often question anything I said with “where did you read that?,” as if I could never know anything or have a field of expertise like him. In the early years of my marriage, I remember I often pondered how I had become so dumb, since I had been a full-ride academic scholarship, Dean’s List kind of person before I met him, studying pre-med. He treated my opinions with scorn and contempt.

    After divorcing his lying, cheating self, I have been happily learning foreign languages, car and tech stuff, reading for the pleasure of learning, and engaging in great conversations with a wide variety of people. I really am intelligent. Cheater was threatened by my potential and my ability to have friends, which he never did in the 31 years I wasted on him. I’m so glad to be free of that abuse. I’m thinking seriously about returning to college and my love of learning.

  • My cheater never made me feel worthless. She was raised within a multigenerational system wherein the man IS worthless, but you placate the simpleton and send them on their deluded way. Because after all, one’s only connection to a man is as a necessary evil if you have to be married to them for mercenary reasons, or for imagined sexual aggrandizement if you’re not. Her abuse and disdain were constant but covert (just one daily example was her enticing neighborhood men, waiters, etc). On the self-deluded surface I was great and she was too. The mask never came down.

    What I am now really hasn’t changed. What’s changed is my perception of the world. I see or understand all kinds of people differently given that I truly grasp the nature and mechanics of personality disorder. Not that I apply a broad brush and see everything in terms of disorders, I simply see what finally explains those inexplicable people whose place along the spectrum is less well managed or hidden. I have a pretty good sense of those who are hidden. In my case, I had to take on a family of disordereds so it was a real classroom. It is a shame that so many people have no idea about this reality in human developmental defect. As we all have come painfully to know: it has a range or spectrum of extent; it has an environmental source; it has limited and identifiable variants, it has very predictable characteristics, tactics, needs, and even language (“stupid shit cheaters say” etc). What was bewildering at first, like learning organic chemistry, has become familiar and actually pretty simple now.

    • I should have added that I feel in this acquired knowledge a little like the kid in the Sixth Sense. I see things that are in fact there, but others, like me previously, don’t or can’t see them for what they are, and in fact mostly don’t want to believe exist.

      • I’m with you 100%, TKO. After learning about personality disorders, it’s like I look at the people around me with a new set of eyes. All those weird or hurtful things that I witnessed or what was done to me, makes sense when I now know these people have a personality disorder and their character is not the mask that they wear.

        Since before we even got engaged, I thought he was a cheater. Once in awhile, things seemed “off” with his family. Their actions didn’t line up with their words. I felt manipulated and used, but they “loved” me. I was being manipulated and used. And once I started standing up for myself, everyone’s mask dropped and I got discarded real quick. This after 24 years of always doing for them. Always listening to them. Helping them. Normal people don’t act this way.

        One thing I now do is not worry if people like me. I always tried hard to be accepted wherever I was. Now I ask myself if I LIKE THEM and if they are a good fit for me! I no longer have a problem walking away from people who have problematic behavior. That is really huge for me!! 🙂

      • TKO
        Yes. This is it. I just didn’t see this before. Now I am fine though. I thought I would be afraid to ever trust again but up came a new set of boundaries and I’m ok. As Martha says I just don’t worry about how I am seen or if I am liked anymore. I know I am a good, kind, honest and frankly quite funny person. I’m more concerned with what others are like towards me now. It’s a good shift in perspective.

  • I thought my sex drive was dead. Completely gone at the age of 40. Strangely enough, within a month of him asking for a separation, I was actually interested in sex again. Then D-Day hit, and my headcake is seriously messed up — but after finding out that he’s been cheating on me for at least 12 of the 11 years we’ve been married, that seems like a normal reaction. The death of my interest was in response to his emotional abuse about me not being interested in his increasingly-demanding fetishes and sex addiction. It turns out that I am interested in sex — but with someone who’s interested in sex with me, not sex with a gimp suit.

    • Yes, I thought my sex drive had gone completely at the age of 41. But it was because I didn’t respect him because of his parasitic, underemployed lifestyle.
      It felt like he was my son. Not exactly a turn-on.

  • I know this sounds weird, but most of his bullshit about myself, I didn’t buy. He tried to paint me as a woman who had no moral standards, I laughed in his face, and refused to go along with his bizarre requests. He was eventually reduced to telling me that I had a fuck you attitude. I told him when it came to his crazy that affected me or my kids…….Yup, you betcha, a total fuck you attitude, and proud of it! I would protect my kids. In the last few years he spent a lot of time frustrated with me, which is why he went to such lengths to smear me to as many people as possible.

    I knew myself well enough that I knew bullshit when I heard it. He tried to tell me I was lazy. At that point I was working full-time nights and going to nursing school evenings while parenting two boys, doing all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. I laughed. Uh, look buddy, here is your story, and here is reality. He got mad. Change to the next of my supposed failings…..Rinse….repeat…..

    That being said he did have some success in manipulating me in other areas, like pick me dancing for his family. And because I trusted him, I was oblivious to his stealing gobs of money from our marital assets, and of smearing me behind my back. Oh, and of course, there was also the matter of his mistress…. I had no idea until he rubbed her in my face. He didn’t get the response he was looking for there either.

    Yep it’s me and my fuck you attitude here in my peaceful, drama free new life. And, oh yeah, fuck you cheater ex…. backwards, forwards, upside-down and every which way from Sunday.

    • >>”And, oh yeah, fuck you cheater ex…. backwards, forwards, upside-down and every which way from Sunday.”

      Best summary. Ever. 🙂

  • I should have never allowed him to psychologically manipulate me and undermined my confidence.

    He told me I was a prude, too intense, and uptight. No, I am serious and goal-oriented. When I decided to kick him out and file, I did not hesitate. I feel much more relaxed and safe now!

    He told me I was cheap. No, I am excellent with money and most husbands would be happy to have a partner that is prudent with financial resources. When I went to a financial planner, my money habits were praised. I am creating wealth now while he continues to live way beyond he means (which is unsustainable).

    He told me I was too sensitive and over-emotional. No, I am practical yet compassionate. I love deeply and make no apologies for that. I was rightly horrified by the extent of his betrayal and expressed that openly.

    Lastly, he told me I had “no conflict management skills” and was controlling. No, at the end, I just couldn’t believe he was demonstrating a complete lack of morals. Preserving cake and continuing a secret double life is seriously disordered. What kind of relationship skills are those to bring into a marriage and how am I supposed to “manage” that kind of conflict?!!

  • That I had a severe mental illness which he suspected existed from before we’d met and was worsening.

    Um no, I was stressed and depressed with hyper vigilance and anxiety from countless acts of infidelity (well at 14 different women I can account for).

    Funny how that mental illness fades with no contact

  • Who I thought I was: I thought I was inordinately lucky to be with my ex, and that I was the protector of our Great Thing. I thought the universe was giving me growth opportunities and that I was the bigger person by forgiving and moving forward. I thought I had no leverage to have my needs met, and the only way to protect our Great Thing was to let him have his way and showing him that I was willing to do what it took to meet HIS needs. I thought that I was special enough and my love strong enough to hold things together. I thought I held a special and irreplaceable place in my ex’s heart and life. I thought I was weak because I could not overcome the crushing love and adoration I felt for my ex and stand up for myself in an effective way. I thought that I had to give in order to receive.

    Who I really am: I’m an ordinary person with real and justified needs. I’m neither special enough to work magic on someone nor am I demanding or unrealistic in my expectations of being treated with respect and kindness. I was not a lucky spouse, I was an emotionally pummeled spouse with a handsome but utterly shitty husband. I know that I am fully capable of defending my boundaries even when the costs of imposing consequences is undesirable. I wasn’t special to my ex, because his definition of special is unsustainable and cannot survive the discard. I know that just because I am not special to him does not mean that I am not valuable or worthwhile as a parent, a partner, a family member, and a friend. I am strong and able to stand up for myself. I am able to distinguish between the times when it is ok to compromise and when my values are on the line. I do not have to give to be worthy of receiving. I give because I want to, not because it is the baseline of my worth as a person.

    I wish there was an easier way to learn these lessons. But I will say that have never felt more self-assured or confident in my own capacity to persevere and make good choices than I do now.

    • This is lovely. Your first paragraph is exactly what my experience in particular was like. I thought I was working for good! I appreciate your insights. I too wish there were an easier way to learn these lessons. But I thank heavens they’re learned!!

  • I thought I was his one and only in our relationship. That he respected our marriage vows like be always told me he did. That he didnt care for certain types of women like he always told me he didn’t. That he loved me. Ha!

  • After 27 years of his questions and doubts and criticisms of EVERYTHING I did, no matter how significant or trivial, I thought I was an incompetent lazy person. He even called me stupid once.
    I have a 4 year degree. He barely graduated high school.
    We’re divorced now, and I just got a job because of my resume (the degree and my past business and volunteer experience, all of which X had belittled and said amounted to nothing).
    So I love this post because I have been realizing so much lately (with the new job and all) how he picked away at my confidence until my self esteem was in the shitter.
    Now I’m on an upward trajectory and I feel good about myself and the things I have accomplished.

  • With respect to my marriage to CheaterX:

    Who I thought I was–I thought I was a loving wife who worked hard to ensure that my beloved husband, who was dealing with the stresses of a dysfunctional workplace, could come home to a stress-free household: house tidied up, dinner all ready, pets fed. And of course all of this was on top of my full-time job.

    Who I really was–A wife appliance. My function was to do the adulting. Those late nights he needed for systems maintenance? He would sneak out to dinner with Schmoopie. They’d sext each other across the office.

    I woke up and smelled the coffee, lined up my ducks, and filed. I want a spouse who’ll value me as a true partner, not as someone who facilitates life for them.

  • I thought I was a controlling person. I thought I was a negative, angry person. I thought I wasn’t any fun. The reality is that I was struggling for control while being gaslighted. I was angry over the things he would do and say. I was left with all the responsibility for home and kids while working, too. And I nstead of leaving, I was trying to keep my marriage and family together and getting more and more frustrated.

    With him gone, I have discovered that I am a positive person filled with faith. Even with how hard it is to be a single parent with a disabled child, I still look for the good every single day. My kids prefer spending time doing my kind of fun over his almost all the time. And as a friend recently told me after he called me (yet again) a control freak, “Take it as a complement. You are holding so many pieces together while he barely even sees the kids (let alone help parent) and you are amazing at it.”

  • Jackass told me I “used to be fearless” when he first knew me and wondered how I had gotten so afraid.

    There was some truth to that because when he first knew me I was young and stupid. And what I was most afraid of even then was “being alone.” Not being in a couple. It’s a great irony that his jackassery propelled me into a new level–not afraid AND not stupid.

  • Holy Shit does this hit home. I thought I was disorganized too through him, and bad with money. I’m not. During the divorce I took a more satisfying job making less money but I have more money in the bank now that I’m not tied into his crazy money schemes and spending. HE was the one bad with money. HE was the one that attracted Murphy’s law to himself, not me.

  • Who I thought I was:
    I thought I was a strong, independent woman who would *never* stay with an abusive man (my reasoning: he doesn’t hit me or call me names, so it’s not abuse! GAH). I thought that this man needed love and no matter how difficult or broken he was, I would be the one to love him and help him through life. CHUMP. But I also thought I was a bitch because I would just go utterly crazy at all the stuff he put me through. I felt like a harpy, always telling him what to do (because he wouldn’t do it!) and constantly explaining to him how to act like an adult. In truth? I felt like a glorified babysitter!

    Who I really am:
    I AM a strong independent woman who’s had the blinders taken off and realized that I was living with an abusive man for YEARS. I am capable of taking care of myself, I am a wonderful mother, I am intelligent and kind, financially responsible, and full of life. I am mighty!

    Side note…

    My niece got married last weekend. It was HEAVENLY not to have my ex there. If we had been married, I would have spent the entire time hearing how he wanted to leave, was bored, or how the people around us were all a bunch of squares, and I would have had to constantly be on the alert for his embarrassing antics or inappropriate jokes. Then I would have madly tried to make him happy, to pull him out of his childish grumbling, to make him enjoy himself. Glorified babysitter!!! But I didn’t have to do ANY of that! I was able to enjoy the time with my family. It was amazing and I am SO GLAD he’s gone.

    • After my STBX left, my teenage son said, “At least now we can just do what we want without having to try and get dad to enjoy or want to spend time with us.” I can soooooo relate to your post, KeepinCalm.

      • I love this!

        My kids haven’t said anything like this, but I think they’ve thought it. My ex could be such a grump sometimes. I remember times, in public, that he couldn’t handle the kids disagreeing, so he’d just walk off and go sit in the car or do something else by himself. We’re not talking about huge kid arguments, just disagreements on things like where to eat lunch. It doesn’t exactly model a mature reaction when their dad storms off and pouts! hahahaha Curiously, the kids hardly argue with each other about anything now. The family dynamic is so much healthier now that my ex is gone.

    • “I felt like a glorified babysitter.” THIS! No more having to be his personal spin doctor! It’s so freeing now to just let STBX fail on his own socially, and let others see him for the inconsiderate, selfish bastard he really is.

      • Exactly! And just think of all the energy you now have to devote to you and your needs, energy you were previously using toward taking care of HIM. My therapist asked me to think of my energy as a pie chart and determine how much of it was used by the ex. I actually put it at 3/4. No wonder I got sick. No wonder I was tired all the time and overwhelmed and waiting for the next bad thing to come barreling down the pike because stuff ALWAYS happened to him due to his poor choices. No more!

  • I don’t know why it should after all this time, but cheaters continue to astonish me with how boringly pathetically predictable they are.

    Mine would call me lazy, call my dogs “filthy creatures”, ruin family holidays by showing up busted from drinking (and fucking around as it turns out). He was absolutely awful and I spackled. I tried harder to be interesting, more accepting and blah blah blah. All his crap before the cheating should have been enough for me to walk, but I didn’t. It took the cheating to do that and thank goodness, truly, he’s gone.

    I lawyered up, got his ass out in under 3 weeks, refinanced, repurchased, went on a nice holiday and got a job. Now? I have nice friends who support me, enjoy my job, renovate, plan nice events (that aren’t ruined by him), enjoy going out, feel 100% healthier and stronger.

    I did not really believe at the time that I’d recover, but my life is SOOO much better without him in it. It took me time to undo the damage he caused but when that happened, the skies cleared and life just got easier, better and happier.

    I cannot stress enough to anyone reading this and wondering if they should leave their remorseless cheater (is there any other kind?) please know that you can do this and yes, life on the other side away from these cheater freaks is better, kinder, healthier and much much more enjoyable.

    I have never ever met a cheater (I’ve known them professionally as a therapist and personally), that doesn’t have enormous mental health issues (that go untreated) and these issues will spill over onto you and your life, do not absorb that – get out and go after that good life.

  • Actually, he was very admiring of my organizing skills, top salary in my field, talent, discipline and kindness…he used to say I worried too much and was too controlling…( always in response to some impulsive, risky or bad behavior on his part that increased over the 10 years I was around.)
    The fact is I do worry and do try to control situations that affect me…a little neurotic…yes. But as I have come to realize from Dr. Simon, Chump Lady and my personal therapist plus all the reading I’ve done, those are great qualities in a friend, employee, daughter, sister, mother and wife when balanced.
    The difference is I like those qualities in myself more now because I don’t have a cluster b doing the “I love you, don’t leave me!” dance! And because of that there is balance. I don’t need to fix or help someone who has intention or desire of any real change.
    The moment I realized who he really was on Dday was so painful! But, he did not know what hit him when my love for him died in that moment! I was divorced with a good settlement and the financial messes mostly fixed in a year, while he filed chapter 7, moved in to the next host’s apartment, got suspended from his job and demoted and missed out on a lot of his child’s life. On the surface he manages his narc image just fine, but I know the real POS behind the mask. And I get to live my life as I want to live it. Freedom.

  • What she said I was:
    I was a “child” who “was affected by his parents’ divorce as a kid but had never faced it” and thus not capable of adult love, or some shit (yeah, that one was pretty low).

    “Controlling” as I took care of the bills, the taxes, the money, and anything involving responsibility. (This would seem to be the exact opposite of the first thing – I can either be way too responsible for things or not responsible at all, not both – but hey, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds).
    Plus, I was also “controlling” as I didn’t think it was appropriate for a married woman to hang out at bars without her husband wearing skimpy clothes (pre-D-day).

    I got the “lousy in the sack” complaint, too. “I’ve never felt the connection with you I did with the other men.”

    Who I really was:
    Apparently this “child” was fully capable of dealing with a cheating spouse running off from him and his two now-traumatized children. He was more than capable of divorcing her sorry ass. He learned how to cook healthy meals, sew Scout patches on uniforms, and put earrings into little ear lobes. He wasn’t the one who came crawling back later, begging to reconcile, and he had no trouble telling her to take a hike.
    As for being able to do bills and handle money, I don’t think those are bad things. And I stick by my belief that married women shouldn’t be acting like they’re not.
    As for the other comment, well, it’s hard to be Don Juan when your partner does nothing but lie on her back with her eyes closed the whole time (yes, the whole time). She was the epitome of the “starfish,” though I think actual starfish can move, or even flip over.

    Who I thought I was:
    A hapless single dad who was overwhelmed by the thought of trying to take care of 2 clearly upset kids while juggling a demanding job and all their activities.
    Someone who would go broke trying to pay for all the child support and bills.
    A shy introvert who couldn’t influence other people at all. A quiet guy no one noticed.

    Who I really was:
    SuperDad, who had no trouble juggling all those activities, and managing a household by himself. Eventually, SuperDad even volunteered to help with Girl Scouts and school activities.
    (Ok, so “SuperDad” isn’t a modest title; I couldn’t think of anything better).
    He had to sell our large beautiful house and his beloved awesome truck, but that wasn’t so bad after all.
    And he learned to get out of his shell and make friends with strangers. He tried all kinds of crazy extreme sports he’d always wanted to. Within a couple of years of D-day, he was elected to lead one of the organizations for one of those sports, and a few months later he was elected to lead a bigger amateur sports organization.

    • SuperDad sounds like a great title!! You were like mild-mannered Clark Kent with that badass S underneath all the time. Your kids are super blessed to have you taking care of them!

    • Yep, I agree that SuperDad seems very fitting. Wear it proud, TravelingtheWorld. You’ve survived the lies and hate and damage that were meant to destroy you, and you’ve risen up wiser, stronger, and healthier. Of course she came crawling back–all those lies were actually about her. She is the child, I’m so glad you sent her packing. Enjoy your new, cheater-free life.

  • Who I was told I was: A wicked control freak, abusive villain, holding xh long suffering prisoner.
    What I thought I was: A really good wife/parent/worker/home maker.

    What I became:
    MAGNETO
    (Learn to embrace the role, people. Black is the new black.)

  • I thought I was just angry for no reason. My patience was at zero and I was constantly nagging at X to be involved at home. Meanwhile (and probably also as a result of the aforementioned), I had very little desire for him (after our daughter was born, I was chalking it up to an uneasy settling into stay-at-home motherhood and perhaps some postpartum stuff). He would also say that I would get so hung up on things that would make me sad or mad…little injustices that I would see in the news or experience in real life. Was I asking too much? Were my standards too high? Did I have a problem letting go? Was I losing my mind? Come to find out he had checked out years ago with his assortment of prostitutes and the facade of being a great husband and partner was just gradually dropping away. I know now that I was angry FOR A REASON…and I am not just some angry person walking around being angry all the time. Of course, it makes me angry just thinking about the fact that I was made to feel bad about being angry about something that I should have every right to be angry about. Checking out of relationship is one thing — a cowardly thing, sure, but the secrets, lies, exposure to disease, an inability to make very important decisions affecting my life…the list of reasons to be angry goes on and on. You don’t get to stick your dick in strangers just because you can’t deal with someone else’s natural emotional responses, and then use those responses to justify your continued self-soothing asshole behavior. He can stuff his gaslighted picture of me up his sensitive little arse. How’s that for angry?

    • In addition to all of the JUSTIFIED anger I’ve spewed, I am a fun/funny person; I am self-reliant, independent, and responsible; I don’t take shit; I have good friends and family who support me; I’m a tired, but good mom who loves her daughter and appreciates life through a child’s eyes (trips to the swing set have been my sanctuary some days); and I can say that I am HAPPY to be free of my idiot X. I was a goddamn understanding and supportive spouse, but not being dragged down daily by this nebulous, unnameable something (that turned out to be his gross infidelity) has been such a relief. I’m just waiting for the anger to settle and the grief to end.

  • I thought I was in a happy marriage with a hard working Christian man. I believe (because he told me so) that he wanted to have a family with me and give them everything we both didn’t have.
    As far as I was concerned I was a loving and supportive wife who was part of a team.
    He convinced me I was unappreciative, neglectful, lazy, unlovable and simply not good enough.

    I am actually a kind, caring and loyal person. I am a bloody brilliant mummy and a good friend, I am truthful and I have morals and integrity. Yes I have faults but I also have lots and lots of great things about me.

    He is now with someone who he is more suited too. They are both selfish liars so I guess they deserve each other.

  • Been thinking about this a lot lately. He constructed a narrative about me — that he told to all his flying monkeys and fuckbuddies — and had me convinced I was the lousy person he said I was: An antisocial homebody who never wanted to leave the house, lazy, emotionally unsupportive, detached, uninterested in him, a mooch, boring.

    Pretty much think of the opposite of everything on that list and that’s me. I’ve been de-programming myself from his bullshit for the past two years.

    • Which is so untrue in every way! You are fun and interesting and brilliant 🙂

      I had an ex who called me a marshmallow. Really, honestly, believed I was a squishy, easy to manipulate, complete pushover. A total marshmallow. Um… yeah. Sure.

      Whatever you have to believe to get through the day, princess 🙂

  • I thought that I was a capable person but one whose lot in life was in bolstering up a very difficult, negative, criticizing person…but hey – no one is perfect and all marriages have challenges, right? He was an asshole, but he was MY asshole because despite all his horrible traits, he would never cheat…that thing with Susan of Seattle was a “one off”. We were going to be that Catholic couple who beat the odds and succeeded and we would someday host marriage retreats at church.

    Uh, no. My hopium was WAY too strong. He was a mean, negative, criticizing self absorbed person, but much of his affect was a result of the inner angst he had created by living a double life and the guilt that clung to him when (because of my trusting nature and his ability to lie) he pretty much got away with it. He was mean AND a cheater – what a bargain.

    His criticism was relentless and if I called him on it I was accused of being insensitive or not having a sense of humor. I tried to maintain a positive self image despite his constant barrage of nitpicking but it took SO MUCH energy…everything was hard with him. He then accused me of having a “siege mentality”…heck yes I did, because I WAS under siege…relentlessly.

    • Oh…I forgot to answer the original question…who did I think I was / who am I now?

      I thought I was a true blue, devoted wife…I probably was except I was in the marriage all by myself. What I was? A chump.

      What am I now? a happy, successful, satisfied person…contented spouse to a person who actually cares about me and what I feel and think. Im a nurse, college student, and world traveler. I also like to build stuff…today Im working more on my potting shed.

  • I see how paralyzed I was in the marriage. I think we had a normal marriage with normal issues besides the cheating but I think he needs thrills to feel alive. If it’s mundane he doesn’t feel like he’s making the most of his 1 life. He made it clear I wasted 8 years of his life.

    He made me think we were broke as fuck. I never did anything, never bought anything for myself or kids. Money only went groceries and household necessities. Of course that’s boring!

    We weren’t broke though. I have no clue what he spent our money on. I hope it was our debt but I have no clue. He was in charge of finances. I do know he’s a liar and a cheater. I know he used Ashley Madison so our money probably didn’t go to debt. I’m not going to believe in the best of him when he’s shown me his absolute worst. That money was used on his happiness and his future

    He made me think I was a boring, lazy, selfish, shallow, negative person. Turns out he was just squashing my happiness which made me miserable and maybe brought out the worst in me but never did any of my shortcomings or mistakes excuse what he did to me and our children. Sacrificing for my family is not shallow or selfish. As for the lazy, I was pregnant 18 months out of the 3 years I know he was cheating. I take care of the kids. Always did. I work 40 hours a week too. He has deeper issues than even he realizes. He is an iceberg. He will get bored again. He will resort to his crappy coping skills again. He will go thrill seeking to feel alive again. He just sucks.

    I have to send my babies to his mistresses/girlfriend’s house for visitations and for them to play house but despite it I am a happy, honest, wholesome, loving person.
    He had problems with alcohol but I’m the one who got judged meticulously. Figures.

    I am family oriented and just want to live a simplistic life watching my family grow and make precious memories.

    • “I’m not going to believe in the best of him when he’s shown me his absolute worst. That money was used on his happiness and his future”

      My X got us into financial planning, all while he was taking money out of the ATM for his hooker habit. I rarely spent money on myself — was content to pick up little treats at the grocery store every once in a while. Meanwhile, he’s “treating” himself like it (more like our marriage) was going out of style.

      “He made me think I was a boring, lazy, selfish, shallow, negative person. Turns out he was just squashing my happiness which made me miserable and maybe brought out the worst in me but never did any of my shortcomings or mistakes excuse what he did to me and our children. … He has deeper issues than even he realizes. He is an iceberg. He will get bored again. He will resort to his crappy coping skills again. He will go thrill seeking to feel alive again. He just sucks.”

      Amen. I became angrier and unhappier the more it became apparent something was fundamentally wrong (did I cheat though? NOPE) X was distancing himself from me via his hooker use and then using my subconscious reaction to this unknown misery to justify his continued hooker use. Oh yes, and then X hopped into some relationship right away (right after or prior to our divorce is anyone’s guess). I’m sure that’s totally healthy, given his penchant for self-soothing via his dick. His unhappiness will resurface and he will passive aggressively destroy that relationship once the novelty wears off and he needs to be “comforted”. Whatever. He sucks.

      • Oh…and I relate to you on this too: “I am family oriented and just want to live a simplistic life watching my family grow and make precious memories”

        I love my family and all I wanted was what I had growing up — two parents who worked together and were each other’s best friends providing the love and support needed to grow healthy, independent children. He had the opposite experience — a narc/probably cheater father and a passive aggressive mother who squashed and/or subverted the entire “happy family” experience — expected kids to just fall in, no one able to speak their mind or freely express emotions (other than happy/obedient). I should have known what I was in for.

        • Yes we are like minded! My parents provided a solid foundation for us in childhood. I wanted my kids to experience a happy childhood like I had. I thought he shared the same dream I did. He came from a dysfunctional abusive family. He told me his father cheated and was an alcoholic. He acted so disgusted by his dads behavior so I thought he valued the qualities of love and loyalty I’d offer our family. He might have actually valued my steadiness. I have this theory that he picked me b/c I was safe. He’d have kids with me and they’d be safe and loved with me. He’d give the marriage a go, make it look like he tried but leave when grander things appeared. His vows meant nothing. He’s off living his “bachelor” lifestyle in a big city 2 hours away, traveling for work, lives with girlfriend in her house, writing a novel. Only has kids 1 night a week. It’s like he’s back to his early twenties straight out of school with world at his feet.

          • There is definitely something to be said about being a “safe” choice. I feel like my X was looking for something solid too. But it wasn’t “sexy” enough to have a dedicated spouse. You’re right – it was like he was trying it out, and like his hobbies the marriage went by the wayside (too hard, not always “fun”, whatever the reason). And now mine is off on his own most of the time, living the swinging single life and trying to convince himself and others that he’s a great guy. Must be awesome to have all that freedom and stick the responsible yet somehow “awful” ex wife with the child rearing.

  • Who I thought I was: a stoic, calm person who was competent for handling anything that came my way, willing to wait and pray for a cruel, emotionally constipated asshat of a husband to change. Someone willing to stay in a joke of a marriage because it was the right thing to do, might be better for my child in the long run (it wasn’t), etc. Someone willing to make my needs so small that after nearly 20 years, I barely had any idea of what they were/are.

    Who I am: someone who realizes I need to come first for a change…someone capable of being loved and loving another person in a mature relationship. Someone who sets boundaries and enjoys life…rediscovering hobbies I loved and taking things one day at a time, with hope for the future.

    • ChumpA Lot

      I love your post. You are describing what I did for almost 17 yrs. He was also always constipated 😂. I keep screen shots of CN posts & yours will be one of them. You are describing my live to a T. I was having a conversation with my kid & kid told me: “Why you didn’t divorce earlier ? ” After that my sadness/depression for leaving him is gone. I was afraid for my kid reaction not anymore. Now my job is to try teach kid to create boundaries since he his trying to manipulate kid. I need to tell kid to learn to say NO to him and not feel guilty.

      • Yes you need to teach you kid to say NO. My father married a malignant narcissist person (my mother). He died and I had to deal with her shitty legacy and endure years of abuse. I had to do massive and intensive therapy just to learn to stand up to my monster of a mother. She still tries to manipulate me and destroy me. It’s great that you’re teaching your kid to create boundaries and to say no, so early on. I wish I had someone to look after me, rather than get violently ill dealing with my mother and having to learn all this way way way later in life.

  • Who I thought I was / Who I really am
    – socially inept / I’m introverted and I’m ok with that.

    – a bad cook / I feed my children and I no longer have to worry about sticking to his strict Paleo diet, because of course it was my bad influence that made him fat!

    – lazy / Now that we are separated if the kids need “the unimportant things” (fuckwit narrative) they know who will get their needs met. Need a physical for sports, ask mom. Need a copy of a birth certificate, ask mom. Need mail forwarded, ask mom, want to know how to buy new glasses, ask mom.

    – boring. Ass hat was easily bored and any down time was seen as lazy, irresponsible, a waste of time. He needed constant stimulation, attention and risk and excitement. / Down time is healthy and if I’m boring so be it. Being an introvert I recharge with down time, and I’m okay with that.

    – Predictable. Ass hat would complain about how predictable I was. “You get the same thing when we go out to eat, you stick to the same routine, you are so boating and predictable! / That is called knowing what I like, being consistent and most NORMAL people like others to be predictable. Of course predictable in his mind means inflexible (which was another one I heard often). We would have plans and he’d change them at the last second, when I’d get upset, I was inflexible!

    – stupid / I’ve gone back to school for my masters and somehow am able to maintain a 4.0 GPA with this pee brain of mine.

    – needy / wanting and needing someone who meets my needs for connection is not needy, it’s human. I now expect reciprocity in a relationship.

    – insecure / I realize the years of mindfuck made me insecure, I’m working on it. It’s sometimes hard to get his voice out of my head, and I still do a lot of second guessing and find myself trying to sort out his projections from reality. 18 years of instilled self-doubt takes time to get past.

    – ugly / with the absence of competition with porn, strippers and escorts something inside me has changed ( though I don’t know what that is). I find people commenting on my beauty a lot, and I think it’s something that is coming from the inside out. I guess just being comfortable in my own skin and realizing true beauty is in the heart.

    – angry /

    • I am guessing you meant to leave the space after “angry” blank? Now THAT’S something that hard to counter, given the fact that they exhibited behavior to make anyone immeasurably furious. My post probably uses the word “angry” about 50 times.

  • I went from him telling me I was the most amazing to at the end- I was lazy, sexless, ole model who covered up like a grandma, who’s 60 fitness meal preps a week or him, 5 loads of laundry, cooking, working out, cleaning, running a business, managing his career, getting him the fame he craved, adventuring, and Waiting on his every whim, was boring and lazy and a waste of time. ( the more I stepped up to be what I thought was a great partner, the more he used it any way he could to make it a negative.)

    That I went from the coolest girl who rode his race motorcycle, fished, boated, went to the range, paint balled, hung with ‘his’ loser friends, hiked and any other thing he wanted to do on any day despite my goals and responsibilities, to him saying I was ‘lame’, ‘boring’, ‘not sexual’, and ‘no fun’.

    That we never went anywhere or did anything and I was holding him ‘back’. (Code for: you are not new pornographic slutty new pussy, there for I will destroy you!)

    Always asking – Why weren’t we ‘partying ‘ more? Taking advantage of Hollywood. (Uh, successful people don’t party/ rage and get shit done- that’s why.)

    Things he used to tell people I’d gotten to do, or big jobs I’d had in my past where now things he resented and put me down saying, ‘you’ve got to do everything already so your just trying to keep me from my fun’.

    He went from you are my world, I need no one else but you forever, to Telling me that he only agreed to a commitment because we were going to have threesomes all the time. And when I caved and got him one during chemo radiation when I couldn’t have sex, he complained she was into me more so it sucked. He said, ‘don’t expect me me to be excited about 1 time.’

    After I managed his career and he started getting big, any Sabotage he did or failure to reach ‘his’ imagined goal, was my fault. In fact tons of fan attention where he acted inappropriate was my fault if I expressed he needed to respect me, not enough fan attention was my fault ( I was blocking the fan love.)

    He went from partying loser to sobered up and coming successful famous guy with me, then at the end said, ‘I had more fun being drunk and broke before you’, then the life we had when ever I asked him to not go out when I was sick from chemo.

    He went from helping me get the the groceries to letting me drive myself to the hospital throwing his up to admit myself because of complications, but he needed his sleep to look good and he didn’t want me to talk about my stage 3 cancer because it came up and it was not about him.

    He went from I’d die for you to watching me fight cancer to live and not caring if I died. He went from sleeping with me, to rejecting me and telling me it was my fault I was sick and not sexy anymore.

    He became a sadistic abuser and relished sharing me in pain and I tried not to act sick so he could have ‘fun’ and go out with his friends because he shouldn’t have to live this way, with me being sick and all.

    I twisted myself in a million shapes to please him. I let him convince me I was the lowest person in the world. I can’t believe what darkness truly lives inside him. I even more can’t believe how low I let myself get to hold on to the man I thought I’d grow old with.

    • What an ass. I think sometimes the things that draw them to us in the first place become the things they resent most because they weren’t able to suck those traits out of us like vampires.

      I’m sorry he was such a jerk while you were sick, and I hope you’ve recovered since then.

      • Thanks. All kind words help me feel not alone. So thanks for your comments.

        I appreciated the cool ocean breeze tonight. First glimmer of a thought without him in it. I am still here. I’m hoping to get one day to happy and healthy again. I hope.

        I’m due for tests again this month. It’s brutal but I have hope it has not returned or spread. And I’m hopeful it hasn’t so I can start to put all my pieces of what I know is good and right in me. To stop hearing his voice in my head.

        • Chumptothe9thdegree,
          Sending you love and all best wishes for healthy test results next month!
          Stay strong.
          YOU are mighty to have survived all this!
          ❤️

        • Fingers crossed for clean results! His voice in your head can only persist until you decide, in your heart of hearts, that he was wrong, and that his opinion is irrelevant to how you view yourself. That’s awfully hard after they’ve taken their place on a pedestal for such a long time, but also very liberating.

          It sounds like you live in a place that values the things that inflate his ego and peoples’ opinion of him, maybe including yours. I live in the mountains. I have grizzly bears and mountain lions and wolves and moose wandering around my house. You know how special your ex is to them? He’s made of meat, just like everyone else. An avalanche or rockfall would wipe him out, just like everyone else. Ego gets you killed here. He’s not so powerful afterall. I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but being in nature (real nature) makes a huge difference in how I perceive things, and it helps me to remember that no one is powerful enough to have that kind of control over me for long. You’re in the grip of much bigger forces than your ex, as your experience going through cancer treatment has demonstrated. When someone is big enough that they can overshadow your life, the answer is to make your life bigger so their shadow doesn’t cover as much.

          Big hugs from the woods.

  • Oh, gosh. This is one of the few things I actually responded really well to.

    I was told I was ‘just so negative. Schmoopie is cheerful and happy to see me every day. Now you’re just like (every ex). So negative. You were cheerful when we met.’

    Okay aside from the ENTIRE REALITY that marriage and kids are not carefree courtship, I’m not negative. Somehow I found the joke de vivre every gotdamn day to get up and function in the aftermath of a Fucknado. My friends find me pretty badass and hilarious. At that point, yeah. I was drained, depressed, devalued, exhausted. For good reason. I was poring every bit of myself into a leaky fucking bucket calling himself a husband, who was in turn leaking junk into random holes in the gutter.

    I actually had the wherewithal to ask if all his exes were ‘cheerful’ at first. He said, ‘Yes, they were faking.’ I said ‘Maybe there’s just a pattern and the constant is YOU. Maybe you take perfectly happy women and make them all miserable eventually.”

    Booom. You know you lip off like this but you don’t really trust they suck until you hear Schmoopie has been haranguing Cold Slab O’Meat for Adultery Baby Child Support for 3 years straight. And having a hard time deciding if she is gay or bi. Which is fine when you aren’t stringing along a whole parade of partners and lying to all of them about what puzzle piece been where.

    And when you hear about all of this third Hand and think, yuuuuuuuuupppppp. I’m surely the Debbiest Downer that ever was. They all sound so deliriously CHEERFUL.

    • Yup! I heard this one too! Ha ha!

      Poring your life into a leaky bucket – black hole vortex – with no thought for anyone or anything else is the most thankless and taxing job in life. Been there, done that too! Loved these visuals Luziana!

      Bet you’re deliriously cheerful now that you don’t have a sink hole to bring you down. Woot!

  • After so many years of marriage and cycles of devaluation he had me well-convinced that I was a lazy-assed loser, stupid, incapable of normal human communication and profoundly unattractive on top of that.

    Right now I am banking evidence to convince myself I am none of those things. My evidence is that I have skills and have had some great and interesting jobs. I am taking a full load of classes. Without him draining our bank accounts for his personal pleasure I suddenly have money so I can afford to spend time volunteering. I meet interesting people and am capable of long conversations with them. My kids are happy and doing well in school. I can check in on my very elderly parents once a week without feeling guilty for “wasting” time with them. Although I do not stand out as the beauty in the crowd I pretty much look like every other middle-aged mom, so much so that the kids sometimes run up to the wrong one.

  • Gradually during 33 years of marriage, I began to feel unattractive and boring (as many have mentioned). My now XH would come “alive” and show excitement when in the presence of an attractive, and usually much younger woman. Over time, I almost felt he winced when he looked at me (yes, I now had wrinkles and had put on a bit of weight). My self-esteem around my attractiveness fell to nil.

    Now, I still have the same body and face, but I have let go of the feeling that I’m not good looking. I am actually fine for someone who is 69, shortly to be 70. Sure, we don’t look like we did in our twenties – so what! I am also not “boring” to my family and friends. I actually do a lot of varied activities. My kids tease me that they have to make appointments and try and catch me because I have a full life.

    So – my XH had a view of me that just isn’t true. I believed it for awhile – but now his opinion means nothing!!

  • According to my X, I was and believed I was:

    – A lousy lay
    – Bad with money, couldn’t budget anything and was incapable of financial independence
    – Potentially a bad parent – we didn’t have children, so who knows
    – A prude
    – Incapable of making simple decisions, like picking a restaurant
    – Completely reliant on him in every way
    – Incapable of having friends
    – Just like my parents; mostly just like my mom whom he hated
    – Incapable of working with, being around or even living with someone who didn’t agree with everything that I thought and said

    The list could go on for days, really.

    What I’ve found out about myself is that I’m the exact opposite of most of these and that even if he was right about a few things, he wasn’t accurate on the narrative of my life. He projected everything from this list onto me. What I’m finding now is that while many of the mindfuck’s that he used against me are still in place, they are slowly being torn down because there are big holes in his arguments about who he projected me to be. My divorce was only finalized in the beginning of August and I’ve been separated since the beginning of June, so I’m still discovering and remembering more about myself and sifting through the lies that have been told me for the past 12 years. Still have many more miles on this road, but eventually, I’m hopeful that his effect on my life and my internal dialogue will be much, much less. I’m not the nothing/lifeless/dispassionate/unemployed/ill-humored killjoy. He is.

  • My STBX told me a million times that I am moody and always angry.

    Truth: I do not have a moody cell in my body. However, since I couldn’t stand to be in his lying, cheating presence, I was often in a bad mood and/or angry when I was around him.

    My STBX often complained to anyone who would listen that he is so social, that I am reclusive, and that I prevent him from socializing as much as he would like.

    Truth: I have many, many more friends than my STBX will ever have. While I certainly enjoy downtime, I also enjoy socializing. I never wanted to prevent him from “socializing”; I did, however, seek transparency from him given his tendency to engage in inappropriate relationships.

    My STBX always told me that I am clumsy.

    Truth: I am no more clumsy than he is.

    My STBX told me that I ask too many questions.

    Truth: He didn’t like answering my questions.

  • Lets see…I was “crazy” and “overly emotional” and “clingy” and “always sick.” (oh, and “inconsiderate” because I left the sponge in the sink). In reality he was making me sick, crazy, overly emotional, and clingy. Post-cheater, I am rather sane, emotional when called for, about a mid-range in terms of static cling, and OH, NEVER SICK. Funny how that works. I’m the picture of health these days. As for inconsiderate, I live the sponge in the sink when I damn well please.

  • I thought I was bad at business, because I was “lazy”. Now I realize I was always productive and hardworking in my career, but because I didn’t prioritize money over everything else (including ethics), the fruits of that effort were visible in terms of my clients’ well-being instead of the cash flow STBX prioritizes. Now that I don’t have to waste so much time being his spin doctor, I can devote more effort to fixing the business side of my practice.

  • I thought I was… loved. By him and by my best friend that was(is?) the AP for 4 years.
    There were no name calling or accusations as Ive read in other posts, so there were not really any habit or characteristic of mine that has been challenged.
    What I really was (I hope that is really in the past) was naive.

  • I was accused by my ex of being rigid and robotic with overly structured days.

    My ex is lazy and addicted to video games. I was the only adult in the house. I am naturally organized and thrive on order.

    I learned that his laziness and video game obsession caused me to overcompensate with my structuring. I felt like I was doing everything around the house because I WAS doing everything around the house, and I resented it, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.

    Now that he’s gone, there is no longer this force of laziness and sloth that pulls the kids. The kids still play video games, but they also hang out with me and help me with stuff. We have conversations, and they don’t push back on things like homework. The home feels incredibly laid back. It’s still in order, and the kids and I get so much more accomplished. We’re truly living now. We experience things. We talk more and share more. We express our love and appreciation for each other. We laugh and have inside jokes. We’re joyful.

    Way back in high school, people described me as easy-going. That is really who I am. Organized, high achieving, yet easy going. I like being ME again.

    When I hear the kids talking to their dad on the phone or Facetime, all they talk about is their video games. He can’t even bond with them about real life. It’s sad really. For the kids, he’s fun to play games with. Okay… fun. I guess that’s better than having an alcoholic dad or a physically abusive dad. But it’s too bad that they don’t have a real connection with him. Oh well, it’s not really my problem anymore. I can only give them my own love, and I’m truly starting to feel that the new me is more precious to them than the combination of the old me plus my ex when we were together.

  • Who I thought I was: I thought I was a needy person that expected too much from my husband, such as spending time together in the evenings or that he would take me on a date without me asking him to. I thought I was ugly and that I was super boring because I get motion sick easily and have asthma so I don’t like thrill seeking adventures. And I can’t forget that I was told that I was not bubbly enough for him, like his AP was.

    Who I really am: I am a person that desires real connections to people and not the fluff of “bubbly” conversations about reality TV, or gossip. I am a thinker and a learner so I like activities that teach me something. I have a skill for empathy, for observing, for reading people and situations. While I still struggle with the idea that I’m too fat for anyone to think I’m attractive, I think I have a pretty face.

  • I was told I had a bad temper and was hard to get along with. He used a word to describe me that is a synonym for “bitch.” But I’m definitively not a bitch, and I was angry because he treated me terribly, hurt me and our kids again and again, and refused any responsibility. Plus, he invalidated my pain constantly. He is in fact a very angry, passive aggressive man. I am a kind person who would never dream of treating people like he did. He sucks, for sure. I am kind, strong, and best of all…happy!!! That’s something he will never be. Ugh. The lies they want us to believe about ourselves. It’s emotional abuse.

  • I knew I was independent, smart and capable. Hell, I even rebuilt my the front entrance wood steps and railing without any help from anyone.

    But I really thought I was unattractive, fat and unlikable. I also thought there was something deeply wrong with me — and I wasn’t able to figure out what it was. In the final few years of my 17 marriage, I even felt like I was losing my mind.

    Post DD#2, I had heard so many complements from both sexes that I was ‘hot’. I look back at pictures when I was with EX (and while I was 15 lbs heavier than my goal weight) I looked good in my clothes. Also, people constantly told me I was “so nice”… and slowly I began to realize they had avoided me like the plague because they felt uncomfortable knowing that my EX was cheating.

    Over time the lies, gas lighting and devaluing had really done a number on me. My ‘gut’ was yelling at me that there was something wrong, but I just kept on ignoring it.

    Always, always listen to your gut.

  • I was told that I was a terrible mother and that my adult daughters agreed with him. He said he headed their way after he abandoned me (he drove 300 miles away on the day he left, they are at college) to “be there for them” and effectively amputate Mom from the family. I was crushed.

    What I really am is closer to my daughters than I have ever been, and in a new way. They see their father’s disorder and are embarrassed by him trying to hang out and party and have rock jam sessions with their friends at college. He even offered prescription drugs to one daughter’s friend right in front of her, trying to be a cool dad. He looks like a fool. And in the last 4 months he has barely been around at all, working at a site a few hours away. My girls are rooting for me, and have disgust for their father.

  • Who I thought I was: A bad wife for feeling like I didn’t matter in the marriage. He told me I was never satisfied with anything. It was true. I wasn’t satisfied with the life I was living as the only one truly adulting. I did it all. He did the fun stuff he wanted to do. I’d finish in the kitchen every night around 9:30 pm and watch a few minutes of TV. Got blasted for that. I got up 2 hours before everyone else. He sat on his ass watching sports every evening, well and texting schmoopie. If I did engage him to go out to dinner or around the block for a walk, he would only talk about himself. I would have to beg him for 5 mins of his time. Yes what a wonderful life that was. But I had financial security, or so I thought. I had an intact family.

    Who I am now: Definitely poorer but soooo much happier. Initially the pain and glee of what had happened at Dday (#2 for me separated by years) was such a double edge sword. I remember thinking ‘she’s a lucky, lucky girl’. Now I know I was married to a narc for 20 years. Love bomb, devalue, discard in every aspect of his life. I am so FREEEEEEEEEE!!! I had to definitely go through the pain to get there. I’m not totally meh. Still figuring this shit out. But married to a fucktard is not who I am anymore!!

  • Mine taught my toddler daughter to say that mummy was ‘rubbish’. I began to believe it. Not any more, motherfucker.

    • God these people have no limits. My narc used to torture me through his super narc mother. One year for christmas the witch of a MIL got my son to buy me a wooden spoon that said “worlds biggest shit stirrer” . At this point i was in such a narcissistic fog (felt like i was coming out of a cult after the discard) thst i didn’t get the pointed reference. Now i know its projection and all about her so no offence taken….

  • I have an innate sense of direction, I love maps and I can navigate very well. Growing up, that was one of the few things my parents publicly praised me for. Stbx figured this out while we were dating and would never acknowledge it. He would make fun of me- you grew up in a flat city on a grid system. Before gps, when he was driving and I was reading the map, he would get angry and tell me I didn’t know how to read the map and I was giving him wrong directions.

    Since he left, I have taken the kids on two vacations to places we have never been and got along just fine. We did adventurous things like go zip lining, hot air ballooning, rafting and more. He said I am not a risk taker.

    He said I couldn’t make a decision ( maybe it was because whenever I did, he overrode it. Well, I made the decision to hire a shark lawyer and divorce his sorry ass and try as he might, he couldn’t control that one.

    On another note fellow chumps, next up I will be sitting in the deposition of my stbx’s schmoopie. Up until now she is merely an unfortunate figment of my imagination. She will now be a real “person”. Dread is an understatement. Any tips appreciated. Lawyer told me to walk tall and confident. Say nothing as her actions are beneath me.

  • Ironically, the spread sheet and moving out was what the cheater tried to do to me. Bought and fixed up a boat to live on, moved fiances, told everyone I cheated on him and left him and that we were already divorced, caught him moving items of value out to a storage unit one Sunday morning and then the announced his engagement to a girl our daughters age a couple of months later. Fun fact: we aren’t even legally separated as of yet according to the rules in my state. So…having a field day with his lies and the karma that is on its way towards him in the shape of a barracuda of an attorney and went back to school to get my paralegal certification so I can understand what is going on in court. He pissed me off, dissed me for another woman for the last time.

  • He thought I was unintelligent and weak.
    Well, I’m as sharp as the sword I wish I could behead him with, but sadly, and still metaphorically speaking, my arms are still too weak to hold that sword.
    I’m 5 months out of that life, but about gaining a new one, that’s working mighty slow for me.

    But I’ll get there!

  • What I thought I was? Fun, loving, caring husband. And yes, good in bed. I don’t need to wax lyrical on this but when your wife drags you to bed after 19 years together you know you’re doing something right. Good friend to many, outgoing life and soul of the party. Good dad. Good provider and never boring.

    My Ex felt the same. This is true.

    Enter workHeHo. 9 months later I’m boring. Never fun. Do nothing with my kid. We’ve been drifting apart for years. I’m angry all the time (true for 6 of those 9 months because I suspected my wife was having an affair). I drink too much (see previous comment). With sex I just ‘push the button’. Wtf? I still give you orgasms after 19 years and that’s a bad thing? I never do anything(no because my wife is at work all the time up to 9pm fucking her workheho). I never take responsibility for any of the day to day stuff (no because everything was in your name controlling b*tch).

    What I am. Fun, loving, caring singelton. And yes, good in bed. I don’t need to wax lyrical on this but when your new girlfriend drags you to bed you know you’re doing something right. Good friend to many, outgoing life and soul of the party. Good dad. Good provider and never boring.

    Oh and running my own house. Always make work. Kid never misses his extra-curricular activities. He and I do projects together all the time. Bills are paid. Eat healthy. Have more new friends. I could go on.

    Want a laugh CN? The life she told me she craved (not being married, being with who she wants goin out whenever she wants) compared to the life I wanted (family, another kid, nice house etc).

    Well I got the life she wanted and she got the life I wanted.

    Go figure

    Cant wait to see how long shmoopie lives in suburbia with a control freak when he realises shes trapped him with a baby.

    Popcorn time

    • I can relate to the life he wanted vs. the life he got. Ex told me he wanted to “do his own thing” and go out on the open road and not be held accountable for anything! So what did he get? A whore 13 years younger than him (who also is apparently dumb as a post) with three kids (a 5 yr old, 6 yr old, and a teenager) and an inability to make his child support payments on time because he got fired and “just started working.” Oh, and they’re engaged. Yeah, looks like he REALLY wants to “do his own thing” and “not be held accountable to anyone.”

      Me? I’m free as a bird! I go out with friends, my daughter is a senior in high school, I get to do what I want, when I want. I have a fantastic relationship with my daughter (unlike the ex who hasn’t seen her in over a month and only occasionally texts her) and I am excited for the future.

      I think I got the better end of the deal by a long shot!

      • Keepin

        Air that just the way it works out? The crazy has an idea in their mind but it hardly ever works out. Because their too busy perusing perfection they don’t realise they’re trapping themselves in a corner.

        We chimps on the other hand pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off then realise “hey, I’m a blank canvass. Time to reinvent”

        Which is what they wanted to do.

        But they have an AP. And a disfunctional relationship to deal with.

        Ooops.

        • Yep. I am just going to sit back and watch what happens with those two idiots. His life just got a hell of a lot more complicated than mine, and that is a bit of karma right there. I’m the one who gained a life for sure!

  • I thought I was a kind, sensitive person, a good mother. But around him I felt frumpy, sexless, and not too bright. I was often afraid to talk too much for fear of being accused of repeating myself, or saying something irritating. Attempting to have conversation with someone who stares at the TV and doesn’t acknowledge a thing you say makes you feel invisible. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world!

    Now I feel alive, sexy, communicative, and pretty darn competent. LOL. I have to admit I don’t feel as sensitive as I used to, I’m more guarded and protective of myself. One day I was worrying about that change in my personality, but then I realized strength had replaced sensitivity. Maybe that’s okay.

    • “accused of repeating myself, or saying something irritating.”

      Ah, this. I remember this. Boy it used to grind her gears. Those egg shells eh?

      Wanna hear a funny one? When she dropped the bomb, one of the things that pissed her off was I had a hair growing out of my nose. A single hair that I missed with my nose trimmer.

      This is the same woman that wouldn’t shave her legs for weeks at a time but still expected sex. And I didn’t mind she hadn’t shaved her legs one bit.

      Mental.

    • Ha, this strikes a chord with me.
      Yes, around him I always felt frumpy, too. I thought I was just self-conscious about “home attire”, but I think it’s deeper than that. I guess I was almost reading his mind, because many times I compared myself outloud to him to the women at his office, parading in heels all day, and what it must feel like coming home to someone ready for bed. That kind of thing wouldn’t have mattered to me, but it’s like I was seeing myself through his eyes, and though he denied my perception, guess what, he was flirting around the office all day long.

  • I was sexualy devalued too for 11 months he witheld sex. He was depressed so I did not bother him. Come to find out he was screwing the skank behind my back while he was telling her we were just roomates wow that was news to me we were together for 15 yrs. When he found out the skank was still screwing her ex at the same time crying over which one she really wanted she dropped him like the piece of shit he is. He was back in my bed the sex was awesome so I thought he finally got over his depression. Found oput this all after he finally left with the second skank I was in the dark for the last 3 yrs together. But in all those 15 yrs we were together he was screwing his stripper hoe had no clue and everyone else he could find his excuse was he thought I did not care anymore. Whore’s problem now she was the prize pice of shit.

  • Yeah so I’m still in the “maybe I was that bad” phase even if his actions were truly unconscionable. Any time I read threads on other forums about things that would cause a spouse to leave I think, “well maybe if I said something this way he took it that way.” I truly want to understand, not because I want to get back together with him, but so I can fix and don’t repeat the pattern.

    No one around me seems to think I could have, not even my therapist, but I always wonder if my expectations verged past the border to judgements.

    • Stop destroying yourself. You could have been the “perfect” wife (what the fuck is a perfect husband/wife anyway?) and he would still have left. It’s his problem not yours. He’s the disfunctional one.

      Take your next relationship in your stride and if you find yourself changing yourself to keep them happy? Leave.

      Peace.

  • Also I wish there were “likes” on posts, sometimes I just want to be like I agree without having to use words.

  • What I thought I was and/or cheater’s complaints: a frump, too FAT (I am not, but I am 25 years older than schmoopie and don’t spends fortunes on clothes and manicures and makeup), don’t dye my silver hair, cause of debts, too demanding, cause of cheater’s professional failure.

  • I felt like I was running as hard as i could but not getting anywhere, everything seemed to just get harder and harder. I couldn’t understand why just normal things- having kids, running a business, seemed to be so hard. I saw other people succeeding and I was trying really hard- why wasn’t I cruising along like them?Post Dday 3 ( !)I realised that it’s natural to feel weighted down when you are dragging a deadweight along with you. I felt a great deal lighter without him in the house. Also, I have fibromyalgia and arthritis in my neck that made the radiologist whistle ( hint to radiologists- maybe don’t do that)Found a specialist, started meds, started feeling less awful. Showed XH the specialist report + Xrays. he said ” Oh, I thought you were just lazy.”
    By that stage, we had known each other for more than 20 years. I had slaved like a dog through eight years of babies and work, worked up to 36 weeks pregnant despite severe morning sickness, went back to work after 4 months with second child, moved 3 times and set up new homes effectively by myself…
    At that moment I could have killed him, if I could have got away with it, i really did see red- that does happen!
    I still have the fibromyalgia and the arthritis, but I’m not shackled to someone who has no idea who I am anymore, and life is so so much easier.

    • I did 90% of the work and got called lazy when something wasn’t up to his standards. He breeze around doing what he wanted, somewhere away from the house where the whoring was easy. At least he knew where I was! After birth of second child when x-rays could be done to show why I was in constant pain (which was openly handled by him and his family as trying to get out of work = laziness), they showed crushed disks. The “I’m sorry’s” where quickly replaced by, “You should’ve told me”, a total jawdropper because that’s what all our fights had been about lately – me wanting help and him sneering!

  • I thought I deserved better… And I do.
    I thought I was being reasonable… And I was but it is wasted on unreasonable people.

  • Yep!
    – Sexual devalue (I was actually physically repulsed by him near the end and didn’t want to touch him but he decided I wasn’t “wild” enough for him. Sorry, I am not a sex worker here strictly to entertain you.)
    – Was told I had gained weight so I had little value to him. (Funny how all that weight melted off after I left him! It’s amazing when you feel valued and less depressed how you take better care of yourself!)
    – Was told on DDay that my fledgling business wasn’t “scale-able” so it would never succeed. (This advice was sooooo valuable from a guy who ran 3 iterations of the same essential business into the ground and owes over $80K in back taxes, last I heard. And hey, my work was since featured in the NYTimes, I currently have the most commissions that I have ever had at any given time, and I was executing my biggest gig – work for a major TV station whilst I was packing my belongings to leave his poorly aging ass. lol!)
    – I was told rather loudly in the middle of a Lowes store that my contributions to the household weren’t equal because he could just hire a gourmet chef, a master gardener, a house cleaner, a general contractor, and an interior designer. (Sure….ok. He could afford none of these things and if he priced out all the work I did, I think it would end up being very close to equal, if my labor value did not exceed his.)
    – I was also told in from of his parents that I was mispronouncing my own last name! (Which is in a language he doesn’t even speak)

    Phew…damn! Fuck that old man!

  • I thought I was tired depressed no fun turns out I was exhausted from his mindfuck and raising his son doing all cleaning paying all bills while he sat in garage drinking and sexting other women.

    What I am a strong woman who can kick a mother fucker to the curb in less than two months and keep her house and the dogs. A beautiful woman with a great mind and sense of humor. A loyal friend daughter sister and aunt.

    Fuck these assholes ! 💃💃

    • Yep! Cooking, cleaning, shopping, working, raising kids- while he watched sports and whacked off to web cam hoes behind my back! The last time the scum bag attempted to have sex with me: I was on my way out the door to go work…..hair done, clothes pressed, running a little late. Enter the perv/creep- who appears in the kitchen with a stupid grin on his face and a hard on poking through his underwear. Not to mention he has ED from his porned out brain (porn alters their ability to have sex with real women).

      Fuck these assholes is right!

      • WTF with these assholes! Since our girls went off to college 6 years ago, STBX used to often walk around the house with no pants on. Couldn’t keep his hands off his junk. Massaging, tugging, ball juggling, give me a break, and he thought he was one sexy mofo. It was a constant precipitation of pubes all over the goddam house, and I was disgusted that he would do that and then go touch everything like the TV remote, kitchen things, and of course sit his naked hairy ass on the leather furniture (I am surprised there was not a suction-release sound every time he got up from the couch). He thought he was the shizz, and that all he had to do was swing his dick around the living room and I would drop to my knees to serve him up a nice BJ. Give me a break. And it pisses me off to no end that I put up with it! I dared not say a word of my disgust or else the poor tenderheart would get his wittle feelings hurt and think the big bad wifey was such a meany. I was always so careful and walked on eggshells for the entire marriage– well, more like a bed of coals, to make that asshole happy.

        After his initial abandonment he was back one weekend to move some of our adult daughters’ things to storage in preparation for selling the house. He looked just disgusting to me and I recall being very grateful to God that some switch had flipped and I was in no mood for any sort of hysterical bonding sex and I didn’t find him attractive in any way. Still, without fail, he had the nerve to get completely undressed and started in again with the ball juggling/wang whipping routine. I actually winced. He was very clingy during that visit but he was nothing short of disgusting to me and I let him know it. I told him I was fucking sick of him doing that and he could go ahead and get dressed, I was not falling for the seduction routine (YES, this was his best trick). He actually cried.

        Ha!

  • What I thought I was:
    A husband who stayed through all of the tough times through grad school (twice), moving for her career (twice) and keep the ship of state afloat. I believed that through my steadiness, we could build a life that could grow beyond day to day existence. Through the years, I felt worse and worse as parts of me began to be rejected and withdrawn from. I felt that I could not be sexual with my wife for a long time, like others, I got told the I am not attracted to you line or that she has no self esteem so sexuality can only exist in a specific box. At one point sexuality was a threat to her which in the end was a means of control. I’ve had one sexual partner in life and it was her and when she rejects your advances for many years, it damages your confidence and outlook. I began to believe that I could not be good this way and these feelings had to be repressed, so they were and yet I stayed. I felt that there was something wrong with me. My nature is to be introverted and she couldn’t understand me and how I work. She wanted to appear that she had people around all of the time, but I want meaningful connections, not numbers of people and those things were my problem. In the end, she was telling my family that I was depressed and she couldn’t do anything and it was just my problem.

    What I am:
    Rebuilding. Healing. Trying to restart the engine of my life. I am a strong person who has needs, beliefs and is still probably quite bad in bed, so what. This hasn’t stopped me and won’t. I am still the steady person who values real, authentic experiences. I am still an introvert who likes baseball, college hockey and wants the right woman to be vulnerable with. I am a lover who will trust and smile again and still believes that there is good in people. I would also like to be with someone who can enjoy me for who and what I am and stay for awhile. So, I still believe, I still stand, I still can laugh and cry (a lot) and I know I can still be with someone, I just want the real thing.

  • A late entry.

    Who I thought I was: a conflict-avoidant peacekeeper.

    Who I am: A woman who takes no shit, and no prisoners.

  • I thought I was a good wife, and also a good provider as I was the breadwinner, the one with the steady, decent job while he “had his own business” that never really quite took off but yet, I continued to pay for the mortgage, all our food, home improvements, pretty much all our expenses including asshole’s cell phone (which he also used for his business). At the same time I thought I was a wonderful homemaker as I did all the grocery shopping, planned and cooked all the meals (yes, all, unless we had a big party then he would man the grill and show off his skills and get attention). I also thought I was a hot mama, who had sex with him frequently, I mean more than once a week and did *anything* he said he wanted. In fact I never told the man “no” till the night I threw him out of our home when I told him cheating was unacceptable and a dealbreaker as he begged me to “do the sharing idea” so he could keep fucking his whore. So who was I really? I was all the things I said because I was 100% honest and present for the marriage, but I sure was a chump. He turns out to have been a serial cheater. I only knew about one affair when I threw him out but three more prior ones showed up months later. I was a chump. It’s pretty obvious now that he was only with me for the roof over his head.

    • And reflecting back on this today, I realized from all of everyone’s comments above that this was all an illusion that my major extreme spackling propped up because I too was subjected to millions of minute, daily criticisms about everything that I did and all the supposed things I neglected to do… I was never called ‘stupid’ or ‘selfish’ using those two words but that was done by gaslighting me over and over (example: “you just Don’t Get IT, DO YOU?” angrily snarled at me in our discussions of how the world was out to get him and I failed to prevent that from happening).

      I’ve learned enough here, and from reading about NPD to now understand the projection these narcs do, such that I finally understand the things they accuse you of are the things they are themselves doing. For example, incredibly, I was told I was “a heartless bitch just like my mother” (who had just died, and Narc benefitted from the modest inheritance I got because I used it to fund our house remodeling). And I was told that he was “defending us! defending our relationship!” from OW, while he was supposedly resisting her being “all over him like a train wreck” as he couldn’t possibly prevent the fucking from occuring. And I was “oversensitive” when I cringed and said nothing, while he flirted with every waitress and store clerk ever. And I was “developing memory problems as I was aging” because I didn’t remember shit that NEVER HAPPENED, like him claiming that for years and years he had “begged” me to go to counseling to resolve our problems but that “every time you refused, WisedUp!” as he pressed the instant-tears-button in his sociopath brain and faked the sadz. Lines I am now sure he used to seduce his many affair partners whose shoulder he cried on about how horrible it was living with me for 16 years but that he never chose to leave because Cake.

  • Thats the funny thing, yes I was in a lot of ways very chumpy, BUT I was always me, true to myself, I never forgot who I really am and this is why we did have a lot of fights because I didnt accept his micromanaging and criticism of me.

    I did chumpy things… spoil him with, try to please him, was the wifetary (wife but really also is secretary taking care of everything basically). BUT I always knew who I was and did not change my core characteristics. This is also why I did not take him back after DDay, I always promised myself, if someone cheats its over. Of course the extend of his behavior also didnt leave me any otherchoice and I was 9,000 kilomters away with baby do this forced me even more to stay true to myself.

    Writing this I do realize I was a pleaser and doormat after all, that I will never be again.

  • I’m relatively new to this website as well as to the horrific discovery. It’s been four months since I discovered the hideous truth. There is one thing that I’m trying to find an answer for. Not so much an answer, but I guess someone with a similar experience. I’ve looked and looked but it seems it never happened the way it happened to me.
    I was with this guy for four years. It was a long distance relationship, so fooling me was relatively easy. If he said he’s ill in bed, I couldn’t exactly go and check if it’s true. I had suspicions early on, but the biggest part of me couldn’t believe that he’s lying because I realised that if he is lying, he’s lying massively. In 2015 when I was with him in his city, a woman accused him of having been involved with her. He told me she’s nuts. I believed him. Not totally believed him but you know, I guess it was easier to believe that this woman is nuts than to face the fact that my boyfriend is a lying and cheating asshole.
    Things got worse. Lots of silent treatments, stonewalling and what I call “pseudo-dumping” which I now, in hindsight, think took place whenever I questioned too many things. He’d dump me or talk about dumping me to sidetrack me and occupy me with pseudo-issues. Although he might have dumped me if one of his other sources would have been turned out to be worthy enough. In May this year, I added him back to Facebook (he deleted me a couple of years ago, red flag!!!). He never got around to accepting or deleting my friend request (although I’m sure he would have done neither) but suddenly Facebook started to suggest all these women I “might know”. I knew for sure they came from him. I confronted him. He said they’re nobodies, related to studies or work or whatever and he isn’t in touch with them. He deleted the ones I named to shut me up. I decided to not be a complete chump this time and sent messages to a few women. A few replied, one just blocked me… . Turns out he’s been on Tinder since god knows when and has dated these women. One he was trying to meet up with that very week! When I got the first reply from a woman, he said it’s “bullshit”. The next morning he told me he’s busy with his sick father and can’t deal with my nonsense and that if I don’t stop, it’s “goodbye forever”. It was goodbye forever. After he told me he’s going to take care of his sick father (probably another lie) and informed me his phone is going off, I have never heard from him again. I have verbally abused him for maybe 3-4 days after this. Then I stopped contacting him. So, he essentially just disappeared. He didn’t even try to deny, or blame me, or anything. After four years, he was just gone. I realise most of you will think I’m really lucky, and I guess in certain ways I am, but it’s also a massive mindfuckery. How can anyone simply disappear after four years? Has anyone experienced anything like that?

    • Sounds like you were just one of very many to him and you got too complicated. Sorry to say but I think the relationship was unilateral… He could do that after 4 years because he has done it many times to many women… my guess.

      • I think that is probably correct, junglechump. I think I was probably one of few and even the main one for the first couple of years, but then more and more came along. I know his parents knew about me. In the beginning I saw him every couple of months, but then it became more and more rare which I think is when others started to be more and more frequent. The ones who bothered to reply to me told me they only dated him for a short while, or had no interest in him and didn’t pursue things, or they only chatted because they could feel something was “off” about him. The biggest thing that’s “off” about him is that he is married and he doesn’t attempt to hide that due to the simple fact that he can’t. His wife is a blogger and if you Google his name, her old posts come up immediately. So I knew that from the start. Him and his wife are separated, she is with a new guy and has been so for years. I told him in the beginning that he needs to file for divorce because being with a married man just seems ugh to me. He said he would. He even did, supposedly. But guess what? Four years later he’s still married… . She’s on a spouse visa and has no intention to return to the US and I’m pretty sure his FIL has some compromising info (I saw he threatened my ex) and forces him to remain married until his daughter can get the citizenship. That’s his new line, by the way, for new victims. That he’s good friends with his wife and is helping her get the citizenship. It’s all bullshit. She hates him. He has cheated on her, just like he cheated on me. Just like he’ll cheat on everyone.

      • But then again, I think most of us have been one of many. I mean we’re talking about serial cheaters here. And even with serial cheaters this behaviour seems pretty rare.

        • I am so sorry. I know it hurts, and it hurts worse because you clearly recognise that you set yourself up for failure.

          Something a bit like this happened to me recently, but it only lasted two months, and I met him in real life.

          Why it only lasted two months was because I saw the red flags, picked up on the half-truths, and DIDN’T ignore them.

          The reason I didn’t ignore them is because I can no longer tolerate red flags, and the level of discomfort, ambivalence, and mindfuckery that accompany them.

          I used to be like you. Four years in a long distance relationship with a completely unavailable man? NO PROBLEMMO. Anything was better than being single, even if it meant living in an agony of uncertainty.

          You need to start asking yourself some tough questions, preferably with a good therapist:
          Why did I choose this kind of relationship?
          Why did I stay for so long?
          Is this what I really want?
          What am I afraid of?

          Chump Nation is a very helpful place, and the archives to this site are great.

    • Yes. Narcissists are good at hiding deception. They know it’s wrong (hence they hide the behavior). When they are found out they typically blame shift and gas light (make you feel like you’re crazy). Loving a narcissist is the most miserable experience in the world.

  • I also realise I dont care much about sex (affection yes, but he didnt much…), only the days I ovulate I do. Yet, I usually played willing sexy wifey (pfffff), he was always horny and ready to go. LOL after DDay I even thought yay no more BJs!!!! not that those were so frequent but really hurt my god damn jaw.

    So if someday there is a new man I am not gonna fake anything.

    • Cheater told me sex was laborious with me, right before he left. I don’t have anyone to which I can compare him but I think it is about connection and then it becomes making love.

      Yes, sex was better in the lovebombing days. I believe the best foreplay in the world is doing the dishes together. Instead, he sat waiting while I finished the chores and tucked the kids in. If I asked for help- he would say let them put themselves to bed or just walk by their rooms and turn out the lights and say goodnight as quick as possible. It is important to me to say a prayer with each of them every night.

      When I came to bed, he wanted instant sex. No interest in talking first even though this was an opportunity for uninterrupted conversation. One thing I realize now is fuckwit and I never talked about dreams and philosophies, he could only talk about politics and current events. He is too shallow. He did want to know my sexual fantasies but I think that was in the context of pornographic deviance so I was never comfortable sharing.

      I did watch some pornography with him in the early stages of our marriage. He convinced me it was ok for married people. I was never comfortable with it and finally put a stop to it. I now think he probably never just gave that up but I don’t know nor do I probably want to.

  • Who I thought I was was the result of 16 years of messaging from STBX. In the beginning, the messages were subtle and widely spaced. Over time, that changed. The messages became more frequent, more insistent, and much, much louder.

    By the time of the discard, I had internalized his voice. I had been beaten down and I believed him.

    I was: lazy, depressed/depressing, a terrible mother, a terrible wife, a lousy cook, sexually frigid, mean, wrong, stupid, unemployable, boring, insensitive, inappropriate, socially awkward, emotionally weak, and incapable of love.

    Five months later, I can tell you this. I am not lazy. I have learned how to use yard equipment, do simple plumbing, and change out light fixtures and hardware.

    I am not depressing or depressed. I have terrific friends I spend time with, I laugh with FN. I have periods where I am sad or in pain. They pass. They are normal.

    I am not a terrible mother. I love and take care of my daughter. I talk to her when she’s upset, meditate with her when she’s anxious, help her with school, ice her sports injuries, make sure she’s eating healthy, has the clothes and other items she needs. In the first draft of our separation agreement, the very first items I included were for her college education, and her wedding. I love her and will protect her with the ferocity of an untamed beast.

    I was not a terrible wife. I loved my husband. I supported him and stood up for him time and time again. I went to his business functions and smiled and shook hands. I nursed him through several surgeries. I laughed with him at silly movies. I was his friend and his lover. I trusted him implicitly. I also made mistakes or did or said thoughtless things. I’m human. But I never strayed from him, even when opportunities presented themselves. I was in it for the long haul.

    I was not sexually frigid. At least, not for a long time. In truth, over time, the thought of being intimate with my husband was not appealing. He had hurt me too much. That could have been repaired if he had only had a little bit of willingness to say “I’m sorry.” Likewise, I wasn’t mean, stupid, or constantly wrong, or any of the other things I was told. I have learned about projection.

    I have also learned about continuums. I am imperfect. However, I also recognize and regret when I have hurt someone. I recognize what my limitations are and am not afraid to ask for help. I make mistakes. I try to not repeat them.

    The past five months have taught me that I am not the person STBX wants to believe I am. I am not the person he created in his mind as an excuse to abandon our marriage. I am a survivor. And I am willing to face my flaws and work to be strong again.

    He does not define me. I do.

  • You can file me under “hates sex”. (Spoiler: turns out I LOVE sex. Just not with selfish narcs who threaten, manipulate, and don’t give a shit about my feelings)

  • I thought I was unworthy, unlovable, uninteresting, unintelligent, incapable and alone. I had even come to the point that I thought my own family liked him better than they liked me. What I discovered I am: loved, appreciated, intelligent, capable and even desirable. I’ve made friends, branched out, started back to school, seen my children blossom, felt the freedom of cooking what I want in my own kitchen without his endless criticism and complaints, and had more than a few men interested in what he didn’t want. The harem can have him. I take myself alone any day.

  • My ex perv was boring in bed. Banging him was nothing more than a chore. Glad to be rid of the boring old creep. Interesting that as boring as he was…..I never felt it gave me a license to cheat. I must be a chump or something?

  • Who I Thought I Was/Who The Cheater Tried To Convince Me I Was

    I thought I was fortunate to be married. I wore my wedding ring like a badge of honor. I had a handsome husband. We were considered to be a happy couple; our circle of friends was impressed with our longevity. Behind closed doors, he was emotionally and physically abusive. I attributed his anger issues to the fact that he had emotionally and physically abusive parents. I thought if I could just talk to him enough and reason with him that he would see the error of his ways and we could return to the days when he treated me in a loving manner. We were married 29 years and I was the sole breadwinner for the last 12 years of the marriage. He criticized me incessantly for not making enough money to satisfy him while he refused to look for work. He wanted to do all of the driving, including driving me to work and back. Any time that I drove, to keep up my skills, he criticized my driving. If I put clothes in the washer, he took them out and redistributed them, saying he wanted to do it “a little better.” If I hung a garment up in the closet, he rehung it, saying he wanted to do it “better.” He also told me that he was the only man who would ever put up with me. He would refer to unattractive men who were known abusers and he would say that those men wouldn’t want anything to do with me and that if they ever had anything to do with me that they would wind up beating me.

    Who I Am

    I am now divorced as a result of XH’s affair. I have studied personality disorders extensively and I understand that I was married to a man who met the requirements for narcissism and psychopathy. I understand that my reality was distorted by him so that he could exploit me. I realize that he did alot of things for me to keep me dependent on him so that he could continue to abuse and exploit me. I am doing things for myself now that he would have done for me. Last week when I was driving myself to work, there was an accident on the road I usually take so I had to detour and take the interstate. I haven’t had much experience in interstate driving; XH always talked about how much he hated the interstate and how dangerous it is and how people are always getting killed in accidents there. I told myself I would have to take the interstate and the days of depending on him are over. I felt the anxiety rising as I drove near the ramp and it intensified as I drove onto the ramp. At the point of merging, I pulled it off, but began crying, sweating and shaking uncontrollably. As I drove down the interstate going 70 mph, I thanked God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit for allowing me to do this safely. I had a cook-out by myself for Labor Day; XH never liked cook-outs but he did everything. I felt anxiety as it took me 15 matches to light the grill and then when I had to read the directions 4 times to figure out how to fold down my card table. I am proving to myself that I am competent to do for myself and I am replacing the narcissistic voice in my head with positive affirmations. I am in tune with the red flags of narcissism and if I ever embark on another relationship, I will take it very slow.

  • I was a kind, loving, attentive person who cared deeply about other people’s feelings. I listened and I helped and I stood by her during her rages. I took care of her when she was sick and when she got injured and couldn’t contribute to the household. I helped write her thesis, her dissertation, her grant proposal, and her published articles — and never received authorship credit. I did ALL of the emotional work of maintaining the relationship. I compromised every value I held as she lied, cajoled, manipulated, and cheated. I taught her how to parent like a sane, responsible person. I was open and giving sexually. I did twisted myself into whatever she said she wanted me to be…and she STILL lied, cheated, rejected me in bed… I was severely harassed at work and lost my job, and she got aggravated with me for being “too needy” as I fell into a deep depression. For most of a decade, I worked full-time, took care of the kids, pets, and house, and she was never satisfied. When she became increasingly absent and I stood up for myself and set boundaries, she told me it was my fault she didn’t love me anymore, because I was “mean, cold, and critical.” It’s been one year, 5 months since I made her move out, and I’ve been through hell, but I’m relieved o be free of her entrapment. I am still a kind, caring person, but I can’t trust anyone. I still feel shell-shocked. I still get SO angry some days, and then feel guilty for having hate in my heart. I am a kind, loving, generous person who is afraid to show myself to others, because I feel like I have a bulls-eye target on me that narcissists hone in on.

  • Who He Thought I Was:
    Well, in his own words, which I found online: “She was a fat lazy cunt, who didn’t clean, cook or do anything of the sort. No one liked her and she kept me from friends and family… I heard [that she] had to move back with mommy and daddy…I heard a rumor [she] got into drugs as well…”

    Who I Think I Was Then:
    I have omitted a ton of other horrendous stuff which wasn’t him describing me. As far as being fat and lazy, admittedly I am not skinny but he certainly isn’t one to talk. Lazy? Perhaps but only because my job required so much from me emotionally and physically that when I came home, I just wanted to relax. Based on the appearance of his mother’s house, I never would have imagined that he would be picky with having a wife who didn’t always clean or cook. lol I never kept him from anyone; I just asked for boundaries between “us” and his very pushy/bitchy mother and his very erratic/spoiled sister. I just asked him to create special moments for us as a married couple, like maybe, a vacation that didn’t include his friends or having to plan our life around what everyone else needed.

    He hated that I held the mirror up to show him his own family dynamic, which had him at the very bottom of the totum pole. He was in his hometown everyday while he was at work. There was nothing stopping him from visiting his family/friends. I wonder if he thought about that shit when he was messing around with the OW in his car behind his job?

    …And then the completely ridiculous: I never moved in with my parents after he left. He had me pegged for a realy wimp when the only issue was that after spending so much time around him, I started to think I was just as gutless. Not so. Also, I never did drugs in my life. He was a pill popper though so I’m assuming this little bit was just projection at its finest.

    Who I Think I Am Now:
    A brave, independent survivor of emotional abuse who refuses to be put last ever again. A woman who can support herself, face her fears and sleep well at night because I am loyal.

  • I thought I was a happily married, suburban, professional woman with 3 kids, who had worked as a team with her husband of 30-plus year to achieve financial security and get kids through college into jobs and “launched.”
    Instead, I was a chump, who carried her husband for 30 years, only to have him take half the assets to start a new life with his secretary (26 years younger) who had cheated with for a few years before I found out. However, I now know that I am the family, I am home, and my wonderful kids turned out that way because of ME – he was never really there….

  • Where to start on this one?? I was labeled a few things by my ex and his OW!

    *materialistic (hardly!…..he was trying to buy me to stay in the marriage after dday)
    *highschoolish (because I hated OW)
    *lazy (because I got a cleaning lady 2 times a month because I was doing EVERYTHING!)
    *bossy (not sure why on this one. He never did anything for me….so I don’t get it)
    *I never initiated sex. (I didn’t have to. He was non-stop)

    What I discovered about myself is that I made my wants and needs so small so that he would stay faithful and happy and LOVE me for being so easy going. Obviously, I discovered that that not only didn’t work but also made me resentful and unhappy. I am a pretty plain woman with a huge heart who puts everyone first. If he thought that was a bad thing than I am super pleased he moved on with OW and left me to find someone else who appreciates who I am. I no longer make my wants and needs small!!!