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The Silent Chumps

The first year I started this blog, I was asked to appear on a HuffPo video panel. The subject was on being friendly with your exes. (Mine was the “no thanks” vote.) Before the segment began, the other panelists and I were chatting and introducing ourselves, off air.

I said howdy, mentioned my blog, and that I’d been chumped. Dr. Tammy Nelson (The New Monogamy) laughed and said — and I will never forget this — “Oh, most people wouldn’t publicly admit that.”

It was not said in an Oprah-esque “Gee, aren’t you brave!” way. It was said in a “My, aren’t you a two-headed calf in the sideshow tent” tone.

via GIPHY

We. Don’t. Talk. About. That.

Why would you admit something so embarrassing? Do you really want to confess your failings that drove him to cheat? Do you want a million viewers to wonder exactly how fat, sexless, and controlling you are?

Or worse — are you going to Play The Victim? Dear God, aren’t you Over It? Why are you still talking about this?

Okay, if you must speak of the chump experience, (and better you don’t) do so in terms of reconciliation, forgiveness, or Friendship For The Children.

Otherwise people will think you’re bitter.

Apparently, I didn’t have the good sense to be ashamed of my chump status.

That episode came to mind recently with the whole #MeToo revolution that’s afoot here in the U.S. Victims of sexual harassment are having a moment, standing up and outing their abusers. The mighty are falling. It’s exhilarating.

Of course, like 99 percent of women, I have a #MeToo story (or stories). The creepy ABC News producer who used to follow me around when I was an intern to ask if I wore that outfit just for him? Did I think he was handsome? Am I a virgin? Do I have a boyfriend? Perhaps we could move this conversation outside, because he has a lot of contacts in South Africa he’d like to share, over an intimate dinner.

Oh, or the revolting man who came up to me IN CHURCH, on CHRISTMAS EVE, IN FRONT OF MY FAMILY and kissed the back of my NECK — by way of greeting, because I’d once worked in his bakery. Where he was creepy and inappropriate.

Did I tell anyone I was being harassed? No. I’m telling you now about 30 years later. Because like every other person this happens to (and really, I got off lightly — no one exposed themselves or assaulted me) — I picked up on the societal cues. We. Don’t. Talk. About. This.

I asked myself if I wore the wrong outfit. I seethed with fury at the baker. I kept my mouth shut.

What do all these experiences have in common?

Wear the shame.

Own what isn’t yours to own. Eat the shit sandwich. And don’t you dare spit it out or you will be judged. This is your fault.

Finally, finally! We are collectively spitting out the shit sandwich and having a national conversation about sexual harassment and abuse that allows for anger and truth telling. Check out the devastating op-ed by swimmer Diana Nyad or Lindy West’s awesome Brave Enough to Be Angry post. (Could Lindy West please be my new best friend? Total fan girl here.)

Finally, people are pointing out the obvious — this isn’t about sex, it’s about power.

Some people point to the accusers and wonder why they didn’t speak up sooner. Well, imagine the awkwardness. It’s your boss, or a revered public figure, or a comedian whose approval could make or break you. Those are losses and embarrassments that would shut a person up.

I wonder about all the silent chumps out there, who never speak of their experience. Who wear the shame.

We can rightly imagine the perceived losses that would keep a victim of sexual harassment or assault quiet. Now imagine the loss is your entire family structure. Your home. Your financial stability. To tell is to risk hurting your children. It’s admitting the most sexually humiliating things that ever happened to you. It’s confessing all the grotesque things you accepted and accommodated to avoid these losses. And the perpetrator wasn’t tangental to your life — it was your spouse. Your partner. Your true love. The person you trusted the most in this world.

Now imagine that the ENTIRE discourse around this experience blames you for it. Asks you to own your part. Wonders out loud what needs you weren’t meeting.

Of course we shut up. The number of silent chumps is legion. In that vacuum, we let the cheaters have the conversation space and own the narrative.

What’s their story? That cheating is about sex, the unnaturalness of monogamy, and unmet needs — and not an abuse of power.

Of course cheating is an abuse of power. Intimacy makes us vulnerable. To trust someone is to show them your tender underbelly and hand them the harpoon. Betrayal is a violation of a sacred trust.

The cheaters are all “Harpoon? What harpoon? You shouldn’t go around showing off your midriff like that.”

I hope someday we can have the same reckoning with infidelity that we’re having with sexual harassment and assault. I’ll confess, I still have a hard time telling people I don’t know well about this blog. I mean, imagine leading with this at a cocktail party.

What do you do? 

Oh, I’m a journalist. And I have another career as a blogger.

What do you write about? 

Uh, relationship stuff. It’s on leaving cheaters… and there’s cartoons and snark. And uh, cheaters. It’s called Chump Lady. I was once a chump.

I HAVE KNOWN THIS PERSON 30 SECONDS AND I HAVE NOW JUST REVEALED THE MOST INTIMATELY MORTIFYING THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME.

In my experience, about 99 percent of people visibly recoil. If the conversation lasts long enough, and they don’t immediately lurch towards the buffet line, they recover at “book deal” and perk up considerably at “optioned rights for TV series.” But despite this blog’s success (which I attribute to a) Chump Nation and b) having this conversation space all to myself), I still stumble over telling people I was cheated on.

I wait for the judgement I know is there. Two divorces? Loser. Why couldn’t she make it work?

I wait for the pronouncement. Chump Lady? That’s… quirky.

And I do my best to shrug it off and keep this place going. Not because I give a shit about my cheater (I’m long past meh), but because the majority of infidelity discourse still peddles chump blame and assumes reconciliation over self-protection.

Fuck that shit. Come out of the closet, chumps! Stop wearing the shame!

I’ll talk about it, if you’ll talk about it. Were you chumped?

#MeToo

The cartoon “Rejection Man” appears in Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life and is copyrighted by Tracy Schorn.

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.
  • Sexual harassers and cheaters are both motivated by a sense of entitlement: I do it because I can. That sense of entitlement is not shared by me. I did not eat all the forbidden cookies, and my cheating ex-wife’s choice to gobble them down them does not affect my moral weight.

    I am who I am because of the choices *I* make. My decision to reconcile showed my loyalty. My decision to leave when she would not stop cheating showed my integrity. And my decision to build a new life shows my strength.

    #HeToo

    • Love your hashtag, too! If the #MeToo movement has reminded us of anything, it’s that countless men are victims of harassment and assault, too. And ChumpNation is proud to have so many lovely male Chumps here, telling their stories. #HeToo, indeed. <3

    • **I am who I am because of the choices *I* make. My decision to reconcile showed my loyalty. My decision to leave when she would not stop cheating showed my integrity. And my decision to build a new life shows my strength.**

      That is one of the best things I’ve read!!

    • I love this! I forgave. It all happened again. The extend of the things he did are so unreal I feel like this is not reality sometimes. I have ptsd from it all. It is a nightmare. I finally found the strength to leave after recurring Incidents and was told by my MIL “the most important think you can do is to not tell ANYONE.” You know for the sake of “dignity” for the family. Excuse me but the most important thing would have been that he doesn’t DO these horrible acts. I am done keeping silent. This has been a nightmare! #metoo

  • Been separated for 18 mos. Divorce complaint filed and wait period has expired but still I don’t sign. Sold amazing house in one day and moved to townhouse to get “unstuck” three weeks ago. Thought I was approaching meh – but these incredibly tangible signs – on view to the whole world — vs the inner circle I have been open with – have triggered deep feelings of shame. A sense that I’ve failed and that somehow the end of my 31-year marriage and all that entailed, raising three children, multiple moves, achieving financial security, happy times and trips with friends and extended family is NOW DEAD. Our family and values and lifestyle, one admired, is now fodder for gossip. And somehow, I feel I’ve failed, that I could have or should have done something different to make it all work. Feelings so deep and painful – they have surprised me. And while I say, “he lost his way” drinking, hanging out with 20-year-olds etc. – I can’t bring myself to tell everyone that he was a cheater. Because somehow in my convoluted mind, his cheating makes me seem “defective” as a partner and thus deserving of rejection or downright dumb that I didn’t know. That if I had been thinner, less focused on the kids, “funner,” less accomplished, less controlling, more grateful, sexier, JUST BETTER – then this wouldn’t have happened.

    #shamecheatersnotchumps

    • Tired Chump I can relate to your story mine is very similar, almost 40 years together, 3 children, took early retirement travelled with family and friends not a word about his “unhappiness” and “boom” he’s in love and gone. It’s almost impossible to comprehend that someone you spent an entire lifetime with could just walk out of your life and not even look back.
      Lately, I too have struggled with shame,guilt and humiliation alternating with anger and humiliation. It is nothing short of criminal that someone can just blow up your entire family and walk away. But it is what it is, and I can either let this define the rest of my life or keep pushing forward. I find when I am engaged in projects and people that don’t really know my history I am more content. I also try to be grateful for what I have family, good friends and enough money to live comfortably. I also try to keep an open mind to what might be in my future. I’m 72 so my future may or may not be all that long but then again , I had no idea that I’d be chumped so who knows what else,hopefully good things, may be out there. At any rate, I’m going to meet the challenge because that’s who I am!
      Hugs
      Lynda

      • Its definitely a process. First told no one thinking we would reconcile and having only found RIC board. Then found CL (alleluia) lawyered up, told inner circle and was supported! (except for MIL who upon hearing said “well no one knows what goes on in a marriage” – as if you need to understand anything when you hear your son is having affair with someone 30 years younger!). Now there is the final layer where EVERYONE “knows” we are getting divorced and I am having a brief regression. Nothing a daily dose of CN advice won’t cure – but surprising to keep taking the two steps back after each step forward.

        • TC – don’t feel alone! I’m doing the emotional bunny hop as well. I’m waiting to hear what Goofy is going to tell the family when I miss Thanksgiving for the first time in 35 years. That’s a trigger for me . . . he’s either going to lie and say I’m ill or do his lying version of the big reveal.

        • Tired and Goona be,
          I have been thinking about the triggers and why I have slipped back after making such good progress. For me it’s fear. Fear of facing the unknown, fear of making the wrong decisions, fear of going it alone and just having to start life all over again.
          Yet if I’m honest, I was the one that made all the important decisions throughout our marriage. I was the problem solver, the catalyst behind our financial success. Even at the end, when he said he wanted a divorce, he had no plans, he seemed shocked when I threw him out. Perhaps he thought I’d beg him to stay or do the pick me dance, or solve his dilemma somehow. I have come to the conclusion that facing my fears one step at a time is the key to getting past the back sliding. Today I went to my first Aquafit class. I had been dreading this because …… who knows, new people, new facility having, dreading having to make small talk. I was comfortable in my old facility, it was mostly senior women certainly not a beauty contest LOL! But it was a good class and I feel strong for pushing forward and not letting my fear keep me stuck. Everyday I learn something about myself and the support here is tremendous it makes us think about the hard things and helps us see our strengths. Thanks for sharing today it helped me a lot, 🤗🤗🤗

          • Something that helped me break free out of this continues cycle is a book my therapist gave me: “The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships” by Patrick Carnes. I highly recommend this. These men sell us a dream and don’t follow through. They’re so good at being charming and sweet but does someone who does this to his family have a heart? I think not. I was betrayal bonded and I’m breaking free. It’s not easy at times but I finally found the strength to do it! I used to think divorce was the worst for the family but what’s really the worst is staying with a compulsive cheater, what kind of role model is that for the children? What am I telling them by staying? No this is not okay. And we are leaving him.

        • Tired, I tried writing but was not allowed to post.
          My neighbor is living the hell of being married to a man many years older and she is now changing adult diapers, feeding him and having no life of own. Every time I see her she is so sad and beat down. Your ex is lying to himself if he thinks she is going to stick around once he loses his mojo. Every time I hear, or read, a story like this it reminds me of that Anna Nicole Smith mess where a family had to watch their elderly father make a total fool of himself and then had to keep lawsuits going for years. There is nothing romantic about your exes’ story. It just sounds like he is delusional.

          • Your neighbor is learning the lesson my mother declined to undertake; when my father died, she wouldn’t even consider another relationship because she didn’t want to be a nursemaid for another elderly man. It’s hard to do at any age, but when you’re more than ten years younger, you’ve resigned your life.

    • “That if I had been thinner, less focused on the kids, “funner,” less accomplished, less controlling, more grateful, sexier, JUST BETTER – then this wouldn’t have happened” I have to remind myself every day (and sometimes I forget) that it wouldn’t have mattered. He is the one who cheated and that was who he was and is.

      I need to get to the narrative and so do the blame the chump people: if only cheater would have put energy into the relationship instead of cheating: could have helped chump more, spent more time and energy doing for the family. But he wasn’t capable, he was disordered.

      • I can relate to what several respondents have said here–I ask myself a few times a day, ‘If I had been more professionally accomplished, more fun, younger, childless (see ‘more fun’), would my ex-boyfriend still be around?’ Who knows? He’s off with the younger, childless, higher income earning model now and refuses to talk to me about even positive things for a few minutes over the phone. I think that he’s still a disrespectful, invalidating liar, though. I didn’t make him this way, and he didn’t suddenly turn this way in his mid-forties. I just didn’t know for decades what lay beneath the surface of Mr. Popularity. I’m finally stopping the Pick Me Dance in a vain attempt to convince the undeserving that I am worth their love, respect, and attention.

        • Ah you are worthy of love, caring, attention and respect…who says you aren’t ….a fickwit asshole? How can you value the opinion of a fuckwit…even if he is/was a rock star…millions now might know him but today and in five years time, billions more won’t so its hardly a validating opinion. Thousands here think you rock. I’ve seen your posts…you rock and are a rock.

          • Thank you very much, Bannerman! People like you TRULY make the world go ’round!

            I have decided to become a ‘fire starter’ in a field that is not nearly as ‘sexy’ and lucrative as my ex-husband’s (entertainment) and my ex-boyfriend’s (aerospace), but is just as worthy a field (homeless support)!

    • I found out my brand new 3 husband was cheating 5 weeks into our marriage!!

      He left his email open. Literally hundreds of contacts arranging dates with various women. Some just that day.

      To say I was shocked was an understatement. We had dated 6 years, many of them long distance when he took a CFO job out of town.

      I had moved 400 miles to marry him. I left a great (and rare) white collar union job for him. We waited until my youngest was out of high school before we married.

      I left our house for a few weeks but couldn’t bring myself to admit what happened to anyone. Not my parents, friends or my adult children.

      I had been so excited about my fairytale marriage to my perfect man!! I flashed my giant emerald cut diamond engagement ring all over town. I flounced out of my job on my way to Never Neverland!! Karma is a bitch!!

      I grew tired of living at motels.
      Cheater was love bombing me and had an explanation I could save face with. (He was unsure about getting married bc he wanted kids and I couldn’t have them due to medical problems.) I was his best friend!! He was a broken man without me by his side. He had real tears streaming down his face!!

      I went home to him. I never breathed a word about this to anyone until my marriage blew up again later.

      I was so humiliated.

      • OMG born free, Same story here, first D day was 4 months after the wedding and I was too humiliated to tell anyone. He had cheated before the wedding (during engagement) and was struggling to hide a paternity claim. We had been together for 8 years, just had an embarrassingly lavish wedding (at his insistance, I really wanted something small) in front of 200+ family and friends, amazing 3 week honeymoon in Australia/ New Zealand. Wedding gifts were still arriving and I hadn’t even received the photo album yet. Family and friends were still gushing everyday over our wedding and honeymoon photos. My wedding planner put our photos into a national magazine somehow and Friends kept seeing it and sending messages to me. I was absolutely mortified to myself that this seeming fairytale was really a Jerry Springer shit-show. Even though I knew it wasn’t my fault, I felt like I was complicit in some terrible fraud. Nothing about my world made sense anymore and I was almost suicidal. Stayed at a hotel for a few weeks, crippled by panic attacks and crying my eyes out everyday. Went back without telling anyone except my therapists that he cheated (several weeks after the claim came up false). He put on a great show of convincing me that he was so sorry and he had almost lost everything and would never hurt me or risk us again. Then, guess what happened 4 years later?

    • I hear you, Tired Chump. I was blindsided after 30 years of marriage, abandoned by the person I loved more than anyone else. I told people right away what he had told me (I don’t think that I want to be married anymore) and some of what I had found out about what was going on. I never have had any real proof that he was cheating on me, but his sudden 180 leads me to believe that he had found someone else. My friends and family gave me incredible support, I’ve moved 2500 miles away from where we lived together and am trying to start over, and I’ve been divorced since January of 2016. But I still, after almost 2 years divorced, feel like a complete loser, like this is somehow all my fault. Because that’s what he told me, his parting legacy of our marriage, so to speak. Sure, he claimed that the fault was shared, but he was quick to point out all that I had done to cause him to be unhappy (which he never shared before) and want to get out. I’m seeking more therapy because I can’t seem to get past this. My head knows that what he said to me is untrue, but my heart can’t seem to believe it. Hopeful for relief and progress at last!

      • Peachy, my story is almost exactly the same as yours. Never talking about his “unhappiness,” until he announced he loved me but wasn’t in love with me. Then he brought up everything he could think of that I’d done wrong and blamed me repeatedly. At the time I didn’t realize it was emotional abuse, but kept feeling that his reasons didn’t make sense. I told him after 36 years I had a long laundry list of stuff he’d done to irritate me, but it didn’t make me stop loving him.

        After 36 years of relationship it’s the strangest thing to have the person who used to be central to your life just disappear. Sometimes I think I’ll never get over the shock, but I keep plodding along into my new life. Not where I thought I’d be, but I look around and a lot of people my age aren’t where they thought they’d be either. Maybe they’re not divorced, but many are widowed, have kids lost to drugs, etc. Everyone is fighting their own battle. Mostly I just miss having family around since my kids have moved away. Holidays are hard.

  • Once again, CL comes up with an exquisitely timed post, just exactly what I need when I need it.

    I have not been shy about talking about what happened with the Kunty Kibbler, really I’ll tell anyone who wants to listen. And when the #metoo movement gained steam, I spent a good amount of time dreaming of the day when a similar movement for Chumps would take hold (yeah, right).

    Just recently I was made aware that amongst several #metoo pronouncements that KK made on Facebook — mostly about an assault that took place when she was in college, but also about some supposedly unwanted attention she’d gotten recently — was this:

    “My former partner, after I left him, ruthlessly slut shamed me to family, friends, and in public forums. #metoo”

    (As far as I know, the “public forum” she’s referring to is the story slam event I chronicled on this blog just about a year ago.)

    Leave aside for a moment the “after I left him” bullshit (4 months of gaslighting and assurances that everything would be fine if I just “get some help”? 10 months in the same house brazenly flaunting her “new life” in front of me and my daughters because “that’s what adults do”?). For her to publicly lump me in with sexual predators and other social miscreants In this way isn’t just another call for attention and setting of her own fucked up “victim AND hero in a bad marriage” narrative. It is most assuredly “punishment” for not staying silent, for not “owning up” to my role in creating the circumstances that led to her deception, for not acknowledging that “there’s two sides to this story.”

    #ENOUGH #iwillnothaveit

    I implore every person currently on this blog, and every newbie who comes here later and reads this in the archives: DO NOT REMAIN SILENT. Find some way to tell your story — anonymously if you must, but TELL YOUR STORY. Own your dignity and character that was taken advantage of. Do not the disordered set the narrative for what is normal or natural.

    • UX, that just pisses me off on your behalf. They never miss an opportunity to throw their own shit, do they? What a horrible person she is. Sending you hugs.

    • OMG. KK is a piece of work. #metoo, indeed. Bitch.

      And I agree with you, UX–sing what they did to us. It’s not our shame. Chumps have hidden in the closet, consumed by shame over what “we” supposedly did to “cause” our spouses to cheat, and the narrative won’t change until we are brave enough to stand up and say, “I did nothing wrong. This is not on me.”

      Once I was over the initial shock of D-day and subsequent divorce, I told everyone that my X had lived a double life for 8 years–people I volunteer with at the shelter, the postal clerk who asked if my X was “really all that bad?” (yes), my real estate agent, anyone who would listen. And many people came forth with stories of their own after that. The spouse holding down the fort while the cheater is off screwing strange doesn’t deserve further victimization.

    • Right after my XH of 40 years left me for his also-married coworker, I was doubled over with guilt and humiliation. I was so filled with shame and a sense of failure that I could hardly get out of bed, let alone share that he’d left me because I wasn’t good enough. The bottom line is, I’ve been beaten down for so many decades, I’d lost my identity, I didn’t recognize my own value and I believed I was nothing without him.

      XH briefly agreed to marriage counseling (probably so he could do invoke impression management and tell others he’d “done everything” to save the marriage) and that’s where the SHTF. Our well-seasoned counselor finally got XH to expose the details of his sordid, secret life and that was the end of my love, my loyalty, my support, my desire to reconcile, and most important, my shame.

      After that, I did everything right: I put on my big girl panties, I hired a great attorney, I reorganized my finances, I began limiting contact, and I started speaking the truth, namely, that he’d had 14 affairs that I know of (all with women I knew), he had a raging porn addiction (another revelation from MC) and he thought he was such a special boy, he “deserved” to be in a marriage that was “easy” and required absolutely no work.

      When our 34-year-old triplet sons asked XH why we broke up, he told them, “That’s a private matter between me and your mother”. So, they came to me asking the same question, and I told them the complete and unvarnished truth. My sons are grown men with families of their own; IMO, they don’t need protection from the truth. And they are old enough to decide what sort of relationship they want to have with their dad, and I have no problem if they want to maintain contact with him (though I am 100% Zero Contact). But they are all moral men, and I can tell they are conflicted.

      XH married AP #14 last month. While XH and Debbie Does Dallas have quite convincingly told her grown children/family members that they were “work friends” and only started dating *after* her divorce was finalized a few months ago (prompting her kids to think she was “rushing into marriage” with my XH “on the rebound”), my sons know that they’ve actually been sleeping together for 5 1/2 years (their affair started 6 months before he left me), and they’re disgusted that their dad’s deception continues.

      But it will NOT continue for me. I will NOT remain silent and I WILL tell my story. If I can encourage even one chump to avoid the self-flagellation that I put myself through, then opening up my tender underbelly will have been worth it.

    • How does she do it? She manages to sink ever lower. Pretty soon she will be at the molten core of the earth.

  • OH MY FUCKING GOD TRACY I LOVE YOU!!!!

    “Now imagine the loss is your entire family structure. Your home. Your financial stability. To tell is to risk hurting your children. It’s admitting the most sexually humiliating things that ever happened to you. It’s confessing all the grotesque things you accepted and accommodated to avoid these losses. And the perpetrator wasn’t tangental to your life — it was your spouse. Your partner. Your true love. The person you trusted the most in this world.

    Now imagine that the ENTIRE discourse around this experience blames you for it.” Hell to the yes here. This is the part people dont get with the “why aren’t you over it, he did you a favor” line of thinking…

    “I wait for the judgement I know is there. Two divorces? Loser. Why couldn’t she make it work?” Yes yes yes

    “Of course we shut up. The number of silent chumps is legion. In that vacuum, we let the cheaters have the conversation space and own the narrative.
    What’s their story? That cheating is about sex, the unnaturalness of monogamy, and unmet needs” And may I add here, that while we are staying silent because it’s supposed to be better for the children, those very children are hearing the cheater’s narrative. “Oh, your mother and I were just friends, it takes more than that to make a marriage last, it takes real love…” blah blah blah. Oh hell no. Your father cheated on me and moved out of her home to be with her. That’s what fucking happened. And I fucking told my kids that’s what happened.

    “Fuck that shit. Come out of the closet, chumps! Stop wearing the shame!” We’re with you Tracy!

    Thanks for pointing out the parallel to the ME TOO movement. I hope you’re right, that the narrative about betrayal can change and empower the chumps in our nation!

    • I wish I had been more open with my older daughter who I haven’t seen for almost 2 years. I know it’s horrible to say because what happened to you was horrible, but I wish my husband would have moved out of the house to be with her. Instead he slept with her and kept her in our house. When I found out what was going on with him and the 21yr old babysitter, he said “I pay the majority of the mortgage so she stays. F*** off and go back to your room”. He insisted that our daughters loved the sitter more than me so they would prefer that she stayed and I left. It’s been 2 years and it hurts just as bad as it did then and it doesn’t go away when I get equally berating emails while trying to co-parent. I feel like even though I’m divorced from him now that he attacks me verbally just like he did when we were married and that i’ll never get my own life

  • #metoo
    My truth has so many fucked up stories of mindfucking abuse (as well as physical) from 18 years of loving a raging sociopath. I am sooooooo embarrassed that I accepted this abuse as normal in a relationship, or that I accepted it at all. The stories are so heinous and cruel the only place I feel safe talking about them is here on CL. I feel validation here, I feel acceptance, and I feel support. I also feel sorrow for fellow chumps because I know the pain they feel.
    I’m a graduate of CL, well past the early days of holy ever living hell. This blog saved my life and sanity. Try explaining to people that a blog got you away from a sociopath. Try explaining what a sociopath is, or the abuse associated with it.
    If newbies find themselves here, I know they are in safe hands. I know because had I not found CL I would not know he was a sociopath. I would not realize these assholes all operate from the same stupid script, and I would not have had the strength or ability to resist the hoovering, etc.
    When I found CL, I was in the discard for CockSlobber. I had zero strength, could do nothing, could not function, all while on my knees in the middle of a raging storm. Meanwhile he heaped the abuse on me, gleefully enjoying my pain. I found CL, and slowly made my way through the storm.
    I still have much healing to do, and I’m not the blindly trusting person I used to be. I look at actions and see if they line up instead.
    From this blog I gained awareness. I no longer accept abuse of any kind. I am indebted to CL and hope she creates a movement for chumps that garners media attention and makes her filthy rich.

    • Yes !!! I told a woman the other day whose son was just cheated on by his wife and is in a bad mental space. I told her about this book and blog and how it saved my life and it could help him also. It helped to calm the storm that was going on inside me. Am I 100% yet?- No. But I’m moving forward and that is way better than where I was when cheater wife had a hold of my soul in a death grip with all her lies and scamming.

  • I decided to try to change the narrative and I was invited to share “My Story” in a professional Bereavement Caregivers meeting. I was ASKED to share my personal story of loss and I thought about it for a month and had it all worked out in my head. The guy who was asked to give his story in a prior meeting was given time, latitude, compassion blah blah.

    It was supposed to be a safe place where confidences were kept. I started telling my story and was interrupted and told “Oh we decided that you need to keep this to 5 minutes” whereupon I tried to speed it up and it turned into something akin to an emotional dump…I was interrupted and told to stop.

    I was humiliated beyond words.

    It was this sort of thing you described so well “Now imagine the loss is your entire family structure. Your home. Your financial stability. To tell is to risk hurting your children. It’s admitting the most sexually humiliating things that ever happened to you. It’s confessing all the grotesque things you accepted and accommodated to avoid these losses.”

    I resigned from the group and was censured because I told the story of the disrespect to a regular member of the group who wasn’t there that day. One of the leaders tried to make an appointment with me to explain why they were right and I was wrong. I refused.

    That is what you get in the world trying to tell these stories. As you may know now, he is dead and neither my kids/parents nor his family were ever told and for me, for now, its not the time to tell. I may someday if there is a reason. I realize that there was never a safe time for me to tell the world of his abuse.

    But Im free of it. We will empower the Chumps of tomorrow if we refuse to accept the blame…I kind of failed but its not too late for you.

        • Most bereavement professionals are women, so when a male version shows up, he is treated like a Prince…it is SUCH bullshit. Most competant bereavement caregivers are open to the fact that loss comes in many forms…someone might tell of the loss of their left leg or whatever.

          Bereavement caregivers also fancy themselves very “self aware” and I learned (from both that encounter and another one) that a person who thinks they are very self aware who is acting in a manner that totally lacks self awareness is a VERY DANGEROUS person.

          • This is why I love CN so much…it and the people here saved me and my soul since June 2016. I visit every single day and recognise myself in so many posts. As a male here in Ireland you are valueless and have virtually no support especially as a victim of abuse. And they wonder why male suicide here is so high? At CN I feel my gender doesn’t matter or become something to judge me and the failure of my stbx wife to at least adhere to some moral code for our two kids. I may get judged every day, but not on CN.

            I was talking to the wife of a old friend of mine at the weekend who proceeded to tell me about a co-worker nurse who has been all but tortured and abused by her lying, gaslighting, cheating ex and kids (for a while) and was almost bursting to tell her about CN and the people here who can support this poor lady. I truely hope this lady visits and finds a tribe of people only too happy to support her and validate the abuse for what it is. I’ve been thinking about printing off stickers and posting them in bathrooms and random spots to tell people about CN and the site. A reaction to all those hooker numbers and graffiti you see written everywhere perhaps! Too many are quiet on this shit and the abuse of others …hopefully a gathering storm rising.

            • Exactly. I feel this forum really gave me back my backbone and funny bone. I didn’t even realize it inside myself that I was being abused. The sparkling was so obvious to everyone after the fact except me. I thought being together for years he was just too comfortable and needed to unwind after work at bars,etc. full denial was me apparently. I am so thankful for everyone’s story because it gave me the courage to love myself again and let go of the person I thought he was. Xoxo sweet

            • I love that idea! Carry chalk with you and write the url everywhere you can!!! I know there’s a lot of malfunction in Ireland, and if you’ll pardon me, I have to think it is very much due to the propaganda of the RC Church. If you derive consolation from your exercise of religion, I’m glad, but looking at how the teachings of this religion justifies the abuse of marital partners is horrible.

              So, YEA for spreading the word!

          • So sorry Unicornomore. You didn’t deserve to be silenced never mind being humiliated.

            On of my daughters overuses the phrase, “Sometimes people aren’t ready to hear the truth.” I cringe whenever she says this because we know the truth and shouldn’t be silenced by one liners as is often the case.

            And thank you Tracy for these words that summarize the stripping of our very identity by these malignant assholes.

            “Now imagine the loss is your entire family structure. Your home. Your financial stability. To tell is to risk hurting your children. It’s admitting the most sexually humiliating things that ever happened to you. It’s confessing all the grotesque things you accepted and accommodated to avoid these losses. And the perpetrator wasn’t tangental to your life — it was your spouse. Your partner. Your true love. The person you trusted the most in this world.”

            Rather than feel safe and validated we are further victimized. Yet it’s not our doing. So instead I wear a happy face and surround myself with the silence and secrecy. NO ONE CARES unless they are a chump or have been a victim of abuse.

            I wondered if I’d ever feel normal if there is such a thing. My therapist encouraged me to tell my story and I found the courage. He said it wasn’t my shame and I know this.

            Regardless, the subject is taboo. Don’t ask; don’t tell is the norm.

            Do I tell my adult children the horrors of their fathers actions? That they have siblings from a woman who wanted to conceive, no strings attached?

            Wanting to protect the innocent comes with a price we often pay.

          • Unicorn:

            “A person who thinks they are very self aware but acts the opposite is very dangerous ”

            This is EXACTLY why I am afraid of my husband. I could never put it into words, but you did. Thank you!

            Other people do not understand why I say “I am afraid because I don’t know what he’s capable of”. They see him as a big, harmless, teddy bear.

            Fuck.

    • Unicorn, any time you have an organization, even a group as small as that, you have Group Think. If there is a strong personality who only “allows” what they want then the group becomes so entwined no sunshine can get through, or they disband. A group is only healthy if the leaders are, and that is seldom the case. You are well out of that one. It sounds very unhealthy. Humiliation on top of being a Chump is unforgivable. We, on CL, know your story. We support you to tell it as often as you need to.
      I am not the Chump. My brother and his children were. I use this wonderful blog to keep myself from talking about it out loud because I cry every time. He died several years ago and I miss him. I am close to his children. They are as special as their dad.

    • Some people cannot fathom that being betrayed by your long term spouse is WORSE than death. They consciously chose to do this to us!

  • CL hits it out of the park again! I too initially was quiet, the shame I felt at how blind and stupid and forgiving of the most heinous acts my cheater committed was overwhelming. Many people I had the courage to tell gave me the “what was your part in it” bit. It was infuriating and frustrating. Believe me I had self reflected a lot and it took finding CL to realize the cheating, abuse and gaslighting had nothing to do with me. It is almost impossible to explain the ways of a sociopath to those that have no experience with it. Ted Bundy is not not a fictitious person but most people can’t imagine actually being dumb enough to sleep in bed next to him for 15 years. Thank you CL for the right post at the right time again!

  • I just say “I refused to take the cheater back” Over 27 years and he threw it away… twice.

    Beyond caring what people think, most people don’t even have their own shit together enough to be in a position to judge me anyway. LACGAL taught me to have non-negotiable boundaries and that now includes ‘friends’ – If they don’t like how I live my life then cool, no anger here, but stay away from me – I sure won’t darken their door again. Civilised non-personal revealing contact if not toxic, No contact if toxic.

    PS: I have tons of friends and a handful of really close friends – Its all good. I’m loving my new boundary enforcement.

      • I recently met up with one of my friends who suspected her husband was cheating and found out it was true for several years. She is going to stay with him and she knows my situation with my STBX. I’m not staying!!! Why do Chumps stay? It only shows the cheater that he never respected or never will. Not to mention you have no boundaries so he can play all he likes. What can I do to help her? I told her about looking at CL and getting the book, but she feels he is remorseful and will never do it again.

  • As usual, CL, you nailed it again! You continue to provide a light in the darkness for chumps and we are eternally grateful for it. Thank you for continually reminding us that the shame is not ours to own, despite society’s best efforts to make us think it is.

  • Fantastic. Amen to the above. All of it.

    This is what I mean when I say that one of the things new chumps need to learn to face are all those fears that are swirling around inside them – about being a failure, being responsible for the cheating, having to Be Single Again, not coping financially, the high conflict of the divorce, damaging the children, never being happy again, never finding love again, dying alone and being eaten by your own Alsatian, etc etc etc.

    These are the things that will suck you back either into faux-reconciliation, or into a Crap Relationship Mark II.

    If you want to leave a cheater and gain a life, you MUST face those fears inside you, because they aren’t figments of your imagination. Those fears inside you are real, and they came from somewhere. They came from all those people who condemn and judge, and keep schtum, and look away, and pretend it never happened.

    And unfortunately many of us chumps were among those finger-pointers, before they were chumped (or found out they were chumped). I know I was.

    That will never happen to me, I said.
    Oh no, I said.
    She must have neglected her marriage, I said.
    Well, what did he expect, I said.

    I know I was only saying those things because I was terrified – everyone who hears about infidelity, and who is in a relationship, must know that split-second of terror when you hear those stories, because you put yourself in that person’s shoes, and it’s like being in a bull-ring wearing a red dress and some fake horns.

    But gosh, I learned the hard way that I was wrong. And I am a better person for it.

    I want to apologise wholeheartedly to the universe, and in particular to those people who I doubted when they were chumped. I know better now.

  • I sang like a canary. My stock in trade was in the basement anyway, and I saw no reason to be quiet. Luckily there were a few friends who didn’t believe I was the horrible person cheater ex made me out to be. Of course after cheater ex “did his thing” suddenly the people who formerly shunned me came out of the woodwork. I was too traumatized to notice them much and they crawled back under their rocks after the drama died down. I did hear some vindication here and there, but the price was way too high. Now I just say we divorced because I objected to his girlfriends.

    • I still sing.
      New job? Eventually they ask because there is a child and no one else helping with that child and what do they get? The truth. It usually brings conversation to a screeching halt but I don’t care. I always end with the statement “I refuse to bare the shame of what he did, that’s on him.” If we don’t start to bring this up in conversation the taboo remains. Let everyone be uncomfortable for a few moments. Maybe if it ever happens to them there will be less stigma and more “that woman survived without shame maybe I can to”

  • Nailed it, CL. Nailed it. There are huge similarities between this and the #metoo movement. This is just another avenue where people who view themselves as more powerful take away the sexual choices and the consent of the people they view as less powerful. I will never look the other way or minimize the evil when I hear a story like these, and I hope our culture finally follows suit.

    • I don’t think there is a difference from the abuse we have experienced and the #metoo movement. It’s about calling out entitlement and abuse of power.

      When people ask about my STBX I say “go ask his girlfriends”. I’ve told his family the details (except my ML she is 92 so just the abbreviated version) they have been for the most part supportive.

      Thanks to CL I will not take blame or listen to it. I’ve said this before– CL saved my life. The support here is my armor.

  • Tracy, just this morning on the news “sex addiction is not an addiction” phew, finally! I never had a problem to state “He left me” actually I should have said “He ran away” because he did run. Why does a chump have to be embarrassed? I didn’t do anything wrong. Why would I feel shame? Sadness yes – still ugh. But shame? Nope.
    And please if you think you need to look at me funny, go ahead, I have no time for you anyway.

  • Wow! I Just sent off an email to an old pal who looked me up this weekend. She wanted some help from sparkledick. I had NO SHAME in telling her the truth. I feel so much better just telling the truth. I wrote: I will not be a chump.

    The only thing I am ashamed off is not acting earlier on the red flags.

    Why should I be ashamed of spending a weekend unwittingly helping cheater try to retrieve an AP’s suitcase that the airline lost on their romantic trip back home? I think it’s a damn good story to help chumps get their act together.

    And Vanessa Barbara just wrote this article in the NYT last week: “Brazilian women can learn to yell”. The key point in her article: in the present status quo, the worst thing a woman can do is speak up for herself…. This applies to chumps of both sexes. Hell, my own SON just this very weekend complained that “although I may be right in my complaints about the cheaters in my life (my ex-husband and my mother), I am too aggressive”and “look crazy”.

    That is how the cheaters like to make me look, but I am actually very serene.

    It boils down to the CL motto for this blameshifting manoeuvre of cheaters: it is not our shit that’s the problem. It’s Chump’s reaction to our shit that’s the problem…..

    Regarding sexual harassment, I have many stories too, but thankfully in the line of Tracy’s. Public transport was a story every other day.

    But I am proud to say that one day I was walking in the city center taking a pile of translations of a text book to the editor. I was appropriately dressed. And this young guy in a suit and briefcase starts to trail me and whisper disgusting things to me. I stopped in my tracks and started yelling at him to go say those things to his mother and sister. He BEGGED me to stop yelling. The whole street stopped to watch. THEN I get to the editor’s office, I’m going to collect my check, but he starts showing me an anatomy textbook that he had just published, but he keeps to the genital anatomy. I keep my merchant ear mode going and make an excuse to leave quickly. WITH my check.

    It is all about entitlement….

  • People who haven’t been through infidelity have no idea what we’ve gone through. It’s not their fault, they just don’t know. Sort of like when I’d listen to my grandfather tell me stories about fighting in WWII. It was very interesting, but there’s no way I could truly comprehend his stories of people dying around you on a daily basis. I’ve never fought in a war, so I will never truly be able to put myself in a soldier’s shoes.

    I know people have preconceived notions of infidelity. “It could never happen to me, I’m a good spouse” or “My wife/husband is great, they would never do that to me…..” or “There must have been something wrong or some failing with you, the marriage, etc. that could never happen to my marriage…”

    I don’t blame people for not knowing. I know I had no idea what infidelity was really like until I faced it. All we can do is tell the stories – to those that actually want to listen. But like everything else in life, you’ll always find better understanding from somebody who has shared that same experience with you. That’s why this blog is so invaluable.

    • So true blindside. Your post reminds me of something that has stuck with me for years but I still have trouble with it at times. I have four children who have various forms of language learning differences. When I finally had my oldest son tested and went to talk to the head of a school that specialized in learning differences, I told her my frustration with his school at the time and how they were not accommodating him. She said: don’t get angry, they just don’t understand. I took her advice and moved him to her school where he thrived. Over the years, I learned to keep my mouth shut, as so many times I would try to explain his learning differences to people who didn’t understand and would get blank stares or responses that left me feeling I had just told people my son has terminal cancer rather than he has a learning difference which makes traditional school difficult. I wish someone would explain to the world.

      Similarly I wish someone would explain being chumped to the general public. I am fortunate because I have several close friends who understand the situation and are boosting me up and ChumpLady blog is beyond amazing! But I am still angry at the people who don’t understand. Last night, I was driving and 2 of my sons were in the car. We pulled up to a stoplight and son says is that dad in the truck in front of us. It was and we knew right away he was headed to his parents for the Sunday dinner that we had done with them for 25 years. He had his whore with him. The anger was immediate. I have no desire to be there and I am not jealous, I am just angry that that was all a lie. 25 years I thought that was real love but poof, we have been replaced like actors in a show.

      My mind went on to think about the upcoming thanksgiving and that again, I will be blamed for not just accepting his new life and going on with the program like a good little chump. (My kids were invited by their grandparents via mail with Dear children, please come to the thanksgiving celebration at our condo, we would love to see you. Love, grandma and grandpa. It was written on a post it note.) This is the grandparent that uninvited us for Christmas last year and have never apologized or addressed that issue. My 15 year old read the not and said: Wow, I am rethinking my thanksgiving plans. That letter touched my heart and has caused me to want to rekindle the relationship with family. We were laughing hysterically at her awesome delivery.

      Anyway, I am sure all of his family that attends that celebration will be told that I am the evil one alienating the grandchildren from them and woe are them…even though it was their fuckwit son who cheated on me for years and never mentioned that he was unhappy and thinking of leaving. These very pious religious people can so conveniently ignore adultery. They all just wanted to make nice and play Switzerland.

      Well damn it, Hitler was evil and people need to take sides. Whether they know it or not, they are taking a side when they make nice with fuckwit.

      Our financial planner and investment manager was the best man at our wedding. He is the best networker I know and a master of political correctness. I will be moving my money out when the divorce happens. He is trying to say he can remain neutral but his neutrality will cost him my business. I love the Desmond Tutu quote I read here a couple of weeks ago:f you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

      More power to those who speak out !!!

    • I so agree with you about not understanding unless you have been through it. Even then there are so many variations of how we were chumped. Add additional shame if you you were “chumpy” enough to believe in reconciliation only to find out thats an all new shit sandwich. I owned that embarrassment that I somehow failed and I wasnt enough. Hell I didnt even throw him a 50th birthday party(he actually said that) Its taken 2 years of fake reconciliation and 2 years of being single after 31 years of marriage to finally understand that I will not own that shit any more. I no longer worry if I offend his family. I no longer try to find something nice to say. I will not hide his dirty secrets. I consider him dead now. After all the person I thought he was is dead.

  • My chump #metoo story is so hard, I haven’t even shared the entire thing here. I am still in limbo, unable to truly let go of this shame of a marriage. The divorce papers has been drawn up by a lawyer, I just haven’t signed. He is still in the house, although he sleeps on the couch.

    Why is it so hard for me. Because I know when I finally divorce him, when it is finally done, it will the final nail in the coffin that I am nothing and no matter how many things I accomplish in life (advanced degrees, great job, great kids) – karma has proven I was defective from birth.

    Why? Because, I am the child of an affair. My mother had an affair with married man and got pregnant with me. His wife didn’t find out until I was 15 years old. She was understandable angry and made sure I never heard from him again. I knew my history, but didn’t realize that made it okay to treat me like crap, to punish me for sins of the father.

    My husband knew my history. I always told him, I would have rather never have been born if it meant an affair didn’t happen. Yes, I would rather never exist than my mother sleep with a married man. But, I did exist. I remembered sitting in church and hearing the story about the first child between David and Bathsheba and the minister saying, “The baby died because God cannot bless what is cursed. The child was conceived during an affair, it was cursed.” I was probably eight years old, I knew my history (which was why I wasn’t allowed to call my father “dad” or ever tell anyone who he was; why he only came in through the back door). Sitting in church I finally knew why people looked at me and laughed, treated me like crap, said mean things to me – I was a cursed child and I deserved it all, not even God could love me.

    I have spent my entire life trying to make amends for the pain my mother and father caused. I have tried to be a good person. I have tried to be super woman to make up for the fact that I exist. Doing good in school, getting degrees, getting great jobs, being super mom and meeting the needs of my kids. Going through heroic efforts to make sure I bring something to this world that will excuse the way in which I got here. It has always been a burdened I carried, and my husband knew.

    When I found the pictures on his phone, my heart broke into a million pieces. Karma was rearing her head in all of her glory. It didn’t matter how good of a wife I was, I was going to ‘earn’ what I deserved. It didn’t matter that I did all the right things, I was the cursed child, there was never going to be real love for me.

    I keep trying to get strong enough to end it publicly. But, I’m not ready for the smirks and the laughs. And yes, they will be coming. I have had people predicting my ‘cursed child’ status since I was a baby, and I am in my 40’s. I heard adults saying my mom should have aborted me rather than bring a cursed child into this world.

    Deep down, I knew the fairy tale I was living probably wasn’t true. I had heard about ‘karma’ my entire life. I knew at some point, it was going to catch up with me. But, I really and truly thought – not this guy. I waited to get married. I took my time and looked at his character. We talked openly, we shared, he was kind and gentle and he understood the fragile nature of my existence, he would never. I even told him – no matter what you do, please don’t cheat on me. We can get counseling, we can even divorce. I will be kind and fair and never go for revenge, the day you no longer want to be in this marriage, please just leave. Whatever you do, please don’t cheat. D-day was the most heartbreaking day of my life – I looked karma in the face. Despite all the running I did from my cursed child status, from finding a ‘good guy’ to trying to be a good wife, it didn’t matter.

    Every day I want to crawl into a hole. I absolutely hate every moment of this, but I have still been unable to just go ahead and complete the cycle and go public with truth. That me, my life, my existence – is what happens when people have affairs. When they produce children of affairs. When people declare those children ‘cursed children’, and ‘unlovable’, and everyone waits for karma to kick in.

    What I wanted my whole life was to be loved, openly. To not be a secret ‘love child’ who never really got love. When my dad died, my name wasn’t even on the obituary, even though everyone knew I was his child. No one called, no one cared. All my adult life I have said I did deserve love, despite everything that was said about me growing up, it was okay for me to find love and happiness too. I was going to beat all those words against me from the time I was born. I had one damn request for my husband – please don’t cheat on me. Please don’t have an affair. I hate affairs, they are terrible and horrible and they do nothing but crush and harm and cause destruction. Through all the ups and downs of marriage I thought, at least I know he won’t do ‘that’. Then d-day came and I found out that I was so low, my husband would rather have webcam girls and massage parlor prostitutes. Despite how hard I have run away from karma – here it is.

    So, yeah #metoo with a twist. Not only am I a chump, I am the result of an affair. Cursed from birth and what everyone ever said turned out to be true – unlovable, disappointment waiting to happen, never being able to keep a family in tact because of the way she came into this world.

    I hate affairs.

    • Breeze, I know this may not mean much coming from someone who hasn’t lived it – but you are not a mistake. You have your soul and your human decency, and you have rights as a human being – a right to happiness and joy, a right to freedom, a right to live your life the way you see fit.

      I’m not saying I don’t believe in curses, but being cursed is not a moral indicator. I have a cousin whose life has been filled with sorrow, but I know she’s a good person. I have to believe it’s the same for you.

    • You’ve been through a lot. It’s not your fault. None of it. Don’t destroy yourself because of other people’s actions and choices. Karma is when something bad happens to you after you have done something bad to someone else. That isn’t you. Life is worth living. Don’t give up.

    • Coolbreezeout — our stories are eerily similar. I was not the product of an affair, though my dad was certainly a serial cheater, but I was unloved (and abused) by every parent/step-parent through my childhood. Like you, I spent my life working harder and harder and being the best person I could be, thinking if I tried hard enough — just maybe someone would choose to love me in return. It’s a hell like not other, isn’t it?

      One of the few good things to come from the implosion of my marriage was that I knew I had done everything humanly possible to be the best I could … and it wasn’t enough. It never, ever would have been. This could have been catastrophic except for THIS SITE made start to think that my best really should have been good enough. And that the behavior I had taken as “wow, I must really suck as a human to deserve this” was actually abusive (intensely so). And that single realization got me thinking about my childhood. Maybe I didn’t deserve that either ….

      I wanted to tell you that it is completely OKAY to be silent for your sanity. I’ve engaged people online who make idiotic comments (my small attempt at changing the narrative) and it can be horrible. People can be horrible. So, it is certainly the better part of valor to hold off until you are fully ready … and it’s okay if that never happens. As long as you have a few good people in your life you can talk to about it (for me — it’s a therapist and CN). Your healing and recovery are far more important than trying to change the narrative.

      We get you, Coolbreeze. You are NOT defective. I can promise you (with my integrity completely intact) — that you never have been.

      (((HUGS)))

      • Thank you so much. Through your words I can see that you absolutely get it. When you are young, you have hope for the future. You live in your fantasy and dreams for a better future. I was always motivated by the future I was trying to create for myself. When d-day came, it was like a balloon deflated.
        I remember looking in the mirror for hours thinking, “Am I really that hard to love?” I have days when I think I have found my footing and I am strong enough to move, even getting the divorce papers drawn up. But, other days I am just not ready to admit to the world that last defeat. Like, if I don’t file the papers that maybe I can at least have that last bit of dignity. That I won’t have to see the smirks and laughs.
        I know I have to go through with the divorce. I am giving myself until to New Years to file and then deal with whatever comes with the same fortitude I had as a kid. I just wanted to give myself a little more time.

        • Coolbreezeout – this will take continual lifelong reminders to yourself, but you’re not a mistake. In fact, even before the universe was created, God knew the time and place and circumstances by which you (and all each of us) would be born. Your purpose is greater than the circumstances by which you were conceived, and this will be especially difficult for you to grow to believe because you’ve grown up believing that your existence is wholly defined by your bio parents’ affair. But that’s only the beginning of YOUR story; not theirs.

          The truth is, your bio parents are horrible abusers and have taken comfort in putting their inequities on your shoulders, even when you were just an infant. Evil people do things like that. And what do we always remind ourselves here at CN? We are only responsible for our own actions. Bad things happen because of the active choices that we make, or that others make that have a negative affect on us. The demise of your marriage belongs to the cheater, not you. Did you act like a normal, imperfect human within the marriage? Yeah! That’s what we’re supposed to do! We’re not perfect, but we didn’t destroy our marriages. It’s not Karma. It was a giant cheating douchebag living right under your nose.

          One of the three healing therapies I started in 2013 after my DDay, and still listen to every morning or when I need to hear positive and encoraging messages anywhere, is the free podcast “Daily Hope” by Pastor Rick Warren. He has an extensive library to choose from and re-listen to and save your favorites on your device. There are 3 and 4-part episodes that are about 20 minutes each, offering spiritual direction and advice with series like: When Your World Falls Apart; How to Deal With Difficulty; When a Marriage Ends; The Season or Loss; The Season of Lonliness; Why is Life in This World so Hard? and Letting Go and Letting God. I have 190 different saved episodes on my iPhone that I listen to over and over.

          One of the episodes, called “Why God Made You,” from the series What on Earth am I Here For? tells us that God has never created anything without a purpose or a reason. Bigger than that, He wasn’t interested in your parents or how much they suck as parents. That was just the right combo of DNA and the incubator to get you born. Those two abusers? They are completely inconsequential to the great things that you can do and become while you’re on Earth. They have their chances and choices to make before their eternities start, too, but your life and happiness is not dependent on their success or failure as humans. Don’t own responsibility and shame that’s not yours.

          Here are some online versions of the podcasts, but the free app is the best bet.
          http://pastorrick.com/listen-online/why-god-made-you-part-1/daily-radio (Part 1)
          http://pastorrick.com/listen-online/why-god-made-you-part-2/daily-radio (Part 2)
          http://pastorrick.com/listen-online/why-god-made-you-part-3/daily-radio (Part 3)

          I really do hope some of these messages can bring you THROUGH your thinking that you somehow “deserve” the bad things that have happened. Remember – this whole world is broken because of sin; those of ours and those of others, but God can work with and through all of our circumstances for good if we trust in Him. (((Hugs, girl.)))

        • My cheater was a covert narc…my mom has Borderline personality disorder and alcoholism…my dad has narc tendencies ( I was like 40 before I read a book which explained how BPD “Queens” pair up with Narc Kings….OMG….my parents literally built a royal sized dining room table, this shit is SO REAL !!!!)

          In the worst of the adultery monitoring, my parents were also being horrible to me (capped off by a 5 year banishment) I kept thinking “I know some real bitches but their parents and husbands love them…here I am with these people”.

          Get the fuck out of all toxic situations you are in and create a life for you. You are not obligated to carry around the baggage others hung on you…life is short and precious and you have had enough of yours ruined by other people.

    • {{{HUGS CoolBreeze}}} You are not cursed, you are an abused child, two cheaters who had no idea how to empathize with a young confused child. They are unable to really love, trust that they suck, not you. You alway deserve love and you deserve to be told every day how wonderful you are, you are a child of God not a curse. That belief has to start within, I hate that some minister told that when you were there to hear it. I can not tell you that that childs death was not because of the affair, but I do know that that child still resides in Heaven because it was an innocent, and still loved by God.

      I was never good enough in my home of origin because of my weight, I have a mother who was diagnosed with anorexia and we could never get to her level of thin. My father use to hate the way we looked… The funny thing is I was always normal until the abuse really started in my marriage (in my forties). It took another abusive man to really bring out my biggest fear of getting heavy. (I started eating when he told me I was too ugly to sleep with after the kids came.) I believe they know our deepest pain and deliberately bring it out, after all we are honest and authentic in our marriages. This shows how bad he is, it is no reflection on you.

      What your husband did to you, using your pain to further his cruelty in discard, is something he will answer to. But always remember that evil has minions so it looks like you are the one cursed but keep the faith, time does cause things to get better. Tell your story, it weeds out the toxic people in your life.

    • Painful, coolbreezeout. Very painful.

      Yes, I think chumps are often, for a wide variety of deep-seated reasons–primed to cast themselves as simultaneously the scapegoat and the potential savior in any given scenario. We are far quicker than most to see our own myriad faults, and this is part of what makes us so deliciously appealing to cheaters. What could possibly be tastier than a person who will take the blame for cheater’s sins? Cover for them? Forgive them? We extend to others the love and acceptance that we have always needed and craved but never found, and we strive for impossible perfection, as though we might attain it, and as though this would miraculously bring some measure of control, peace, acceptance, safety. But no.

      That religion so often becomes another source of pain and guilt is especially heart rending.

      You are beauty, a miracle, and someone who deserved total love from moment one. That we actually live in a culture in which people are routinely made to feel as though a scarlet letter might be woven into their very chromosomes is unconscionable.

    • Coolbreezeout, you are breaking the curse by speaking out and using your experience for good. Your posts have helped me and others on this site and I believe that if you have a positive impact on just one other person in this world, you have served a great purpose because you matter and so does that other person!

      You are mighty! Hugs! Life is real.

      • P.S. Coolbreezeout, you need to get that asshole cheater off your couch and out of your house. I don’t know the story behind that. You have amazing strength to function like that. Keep us posted.

    • This story just breaks my heart. How on earth can people treat each other so terribly? What kind of church condemns the child for the sins of the parents? I hope you no longer belong to that church. If you do you need to get out pronto. There are so many churches out there that will love you for the amazing child of God that you are. Your parents may have sinned, but you are your own person. You have made amends for the wrongs of your parents and deserve respect, love and admiration for that. You rose above your conception and your upbringing. You are not cursed, your husband is cursed with the inability to cherish the diamond he was given. He is the one who failed, he and anyone who judges you. I am a bit of an agnostic when it comes to God, but I know I don’t believe it a God who wouldn’t love someone who showed so much strength in the face of adversity. Don’t give up. You are not cursed. You need to complete the divorce so that you can leave behind the person who is dragging you back down into the pit you so painstakingly escaped. Let go and fly free. Keep your pride in all of the other things you have accomplished in life that didn’t depend on other weak people to be successful. You have earned it. This is his failure not yours. You are not cursed, you are mighty. We here at CN recognize that. You need to recognize it in yourself. Don’t let the emotionally and morally stunted little people define you.

      It sounds like you still live in the place where you grew up. If so, get out if at all possible. Find a job somewhere else. Talk to your lawyer about how you can do this and take any kids you have with you. Where you live is toxic to you. There are many places in this world where someone like you will be respected and even admired for your fortitude and determination. Also, find a counselor who can help you work through your situation and help you to recognize the good in you and how much you have to offer this world. Your parent’s affair was wrong, but you are not. You are God’s way of allowing something positive to come out of something negative. You are the silver lining. You are the new beginning. You are the light in the darkness. Your hopefully soon to be ex husband isn’t enlightened enough to be worthy of being with you any longer. He threw away the best thing that ever happened to him. His loss.

      • Thanks. I left that church and church hopped as an adult. I finally felt comfortable with being agnostic. I just couldn’t deal with the hypocrisy of it all.

        I don’t live in the place where I was born. But, still have contact with family. Honestly, the last person to try to throw it in my face was actually of all people – my mother-in-law! When she found out what was gong on with my husband and I as he ran to her when I put him out, she made sure to let me know it was all my fault because of my ‘family issues’ and I never learned how to treat a husband right because of my background. It is all a dysfunctional mess.

        Telling myself I am going to be strong and sign the paperwork and officially file as part of my New Years Resolution.

        • I supposed it didn’t occur to her that she failed as a parent to teach her son how to treat a wife. Sign those papers and be rid of her too.

        • I hate that a person of authority in the church made such hateful remarks about children who are innocent victims of their parents stupidity. I’m glad you found another church. There’s no reason for a minister to say that any god hates children.

          Divorce the a**hole and take care of yourself.

          Hugs,

    • Coolbreezeout, you and your kids will be a more intact family when you get that toxic loser off your couch and out of your life.

    • Coolbreeze – Yours has to be the saddest story I’ve read here at CL.

      Who in the world places the heavy burden of a curse on an innocent baby?? You were a blessing, not a curse!

      You did nothing to make your X a cheater. You weren’t pre-ordained to suffer chumpdom. Your X and the others who have made you suffer are all jerks.

      • Thank you so much. It is hard because I have been trying since d-day, almost a year and a half ago, to get my head right. I have been running from heartbreak. Running from the failure of the marriage. Running from it ending due to cheating. Running from him doing the one thing I always asked not to do. D-day I thought I wouldn’t make it honestly. I sunk lower than I have ever felt in my life, it was scary. I am just now finding solid ground enough to think about how to live this next phase of my life – divorced, with my head on straight and doing what is best for my kids.

        • Your story almost breaks my heart. As an innocent child you have nothing to be ashamed about. No right minded church or religion would condem a child for something they had no hand, act or part in. I’m not much into religious dogma of any kind but neither God or Jesus could have anything but kindness for you in your life. Good and bad things happen to all people…the bad karma to the fuckwits is of their own special making. But for someone like you, I can only want to send love, virtual hugs and good things for your life. Dump the couch slayer out and you will start to find peace within yourself. You deserve the right to have a life of love and caring as much as anyone and especially those here. I truely hope you get it.

          • I honestly think he is still on the couch only because I have told myself that I deserve this. I have told myself that I was asking for too much in life. I am finally coming to terms with just how much damage was inflicted on me growing up and being treated the way that I was treated.
            I went to counseling after d-day, but dealt with three different counselors that were all terrible. I told one that I was following the line, “When someone shows you who they are believe them. I told her my gut said to file for divorce and move on with my life.” She told me I would regret it if I didn’t give him at least a year and it could take three to five years for our relationship to recover. She said I would be hurting the kids and if I ever found love again I would see that I just needed to try harder in this relationship. I paid $150 an hour to hear that. Even after telling her about my traumatic past she said I could only move forward if I learned to “open my heart back to Cheater and give him a chance to earn my trust back.”

            Ugh! Thousands of dollars for that type of counseling for six months until I realized I was getting more depressed after each counseling session.

            Then, Cheater was going to a counselor telling him he only cheated because he was “unhappy and he needed to be allowed to find his happiness”. I even sat in on counseling sessions and yup – he was being told that all of his cheating stemmed for him own ‘low self esteem’ and he needed to learn to love himself more.

            $150 an hour for those sessions as well.

            • Hummmm too much self love was his problem….self esteem not so much…if you worry about self esteem the last thing you want is major changes in your life when you are down. Maybe you needed all that therapy investment to show you what you wanted. One way of looking at it. You get to see his shit from a few feet further than you would at home discussing everything between yourselves. Therapy with wing nuts is actually useful if your own brain is telling you to get away. My head was and this was when I was full in RIC territory. Our MC was a narc too in my view and the bullshit in there was used as a stick to beat me during the mindfuck. You know what you know innately. You don’t owe him a couch anymore….he’s proved he’s a big boy so he can exit stage left and stand on his own two feet. You owe yourself and DDs the best life possible. Particularly after the layering of guilt to your door for the misdeeds of others.

            • cbo, another member here, LovedAJackass, posted a reply in the forum to another member about how to get a counselor who understands abuse. She recommended going to a counselor who specializes in abuse, abandonment, etc. NOT A MARRIAGE or RELATIONSHIP counselor because those tend to advise you to try for the relationship. Abuse counselors, however, will guide you back to yourself and help you discover and build the strength to leave and live again. FWIW!

              Come check out the forums because there is a ton of solid advice and tips for handling the terrible days. Create a thread entitled “finding a counselor” or something and LAJ will probably see it in there.. (hug! NO, you are not a curse! Man that makes me want to punch everyone who saddled you with that idea right in the nuts. Gah.)

              • Thanks, I will check it out. My last counselor and his last counselor (as well as his ‘therapy group’ were in the “Sex Addict/Porn Addict” business and supposedly counseled the spouse from the position of a victim of trauma. He got to be labeled a ‘Sex Addict’ for spending hours and hours and week and lots of money secretly jacking off to porn and falling in love with webcam girls whom he started to consider his girlfriends.

                First clue it was going to be a disaster was all of his ‘counselors’ were supposedly form sex addicts themselves. Also, for his therapy group, when I was playing marriage police and going through his email, found out they suggested the guys get secret email accounts so they could talk to and ‘encourage’ each other. So, one counselor was supposedly encouraging full honesty while the other was encouraging secret email accounts. And, of course, I was encouraged to ‘expect relapses as a part of the normal recovery process’.

                I did have enough sense to tell him that if I found even one shred of evidence I was going to blast it from the mountain tops, divorce him immediately, and make sure the entire universe knew what the deal was. It is amazing how fast you can get over a ‘porn addiction’ when the threat of exposure looms overhead.

                But yes, it was my ‘trauma counselor’ that was telling me it could take up to three to five years and to be patient. Although I suspect she just saw a shell shocked sucker and thought it would be great to reel in a new client for half a decade.

                But, I definitely know the benefit of good counseling. It is just finding a good counselor that is the trick.

    • CoolBreeze, there are a lot of people who do not deserve you. Please do not let them hold you back. You are a better person than many.

      • Coolbreeze

        I’m so glad you’re here where you will find the support to leave the toxic assholes who have held you hostage for so many years.

        You always deserved to be loved and cherished. You are no longer alone. This is a nation of chumps who get the abuse you’ve suffered.

        Time to take care of your needs because you recognize you’ve had enough. Take that step. File.

    • Breeze, my heart aches for the way you’ve been abused your whole life. not mean to diminish your experience or criticize you but it cannot be true: you are no mistake! You are not bad karma! This is an evil and wrong narrative.

      Huge hugs.

    • CoolBreezeOut,

      My STBX got one of his affair partners pregnant a few years ago. While I wish the situation had never been created, I have never blamed that child. She is just as much a victim of my STBX and OW#1 betrayals as myself and my children are.

      Truth is that I hope and pray that she will be able to grow up without the burden of shame that she should not have to carry.

      I can say this with absolute certainty. You have value and deserve to be loved. God gave you that value the moment you were conceived. Stop relying on others to make you feel valuable and start recognizing it for yourself.

    • Those horrible remarks about “cursed child” are one of the reasons why I don’t agree with any “organized religion”. They are just into control and power, by any means necessary. Shame the innocent results of someone else’s actions, but never rebuke the one who is responsible for the “crime”.

      You are not now, nor have you ever been, a “curse”. You have done so much with your life, you deserved to be treasured by your chosen mate; the reason you weren’t isn’t because you are a bad person, but because HE is.

      Stand up to this a&&, look him in the eye and tell him to get out of your life. You deserve better than he has ever been. Believe me, there are men out there looking for intelligent, well-educated, and loving women just like you. Never degrade yourself to yourself again, either by word or thought.

  • #Metoo
    I was chumped as well by my wife of 16 years. I was devastated emotionally, psychologically and financially. She moved 500 miles away with my 3 kids with the OM which has strained my relationship with them. She blameshifted and gaslighted everything on to me and many supposed “friends” of many years will not speak to me.

    This was worse than the deaths of my closest family members. It was worse than losing a job. It was worse than anything that I have ever faced and it drove me to the brink of suicide.

    Yet I’m supposed to just “get over it”, “move on”, and “no one wants to hear your problems”.

    It’s awful but it took me 5 years, a good therapist and the love of a fabulous woman for me to “get over it”.
    It is disgraceful how our society refuses to accept the horrible consequences of cheating and adultary.

    • Yes, it is horrible how society is always saying, get over it already. Its the most pain I ever felt, but yet I am the one to blame and I need to got over it? No one would tell you that is your spouse died, but it was like a death. Only I know he still walks the earth with his schmoopie. I will never undersand.
      #telleveryone #iwaschumped

      • Worse than death because my husband perpetuated this harm to me and the kids in a prolonged way and with glee. He reveled in the power over us. 10,000 Times worse than a death IMHO

  • Beautiful, empowering post Tracy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart once again.

    A scenario I experienced is shaming before I even got to say a single word. I merely showed up to my first Divorce Care meeting. Because of a snowstorm, I was temporarily the only person there besides the leader of the group. The church’s senior pastor stopped by and decided he should meet and greet everyone. Upon discovering it was only me, he asked my name, and immediately launched into a mini-sermon. “Well hello Bliss and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years in the ministry, it’s that there are always two sides to a story!” Then he merrily exited the room, having shredded my broken heart further, and not even bothered to let me open my mouth. (The group leader read my name tag out loud to him). I had come to this first meeting in great pain, hoping I would find some answers and balm for a shattered soul. But no, The Narrative is what is important to some people. Then they don’t have to really see you or deal with you or help you. What a way to devastate the hurting. #luretheminthenbashthem, #silencethevictims, #keepthestatusquo. #sonotthechurch’smission

  • I have lately started to think in terms of “deep no contact,” and I think it’s the key.

    Look, of course the cheater is running around in the world throwing my metaphorical effigy under every bus and onto every fire possible. Have watched as even the DS has bought into some of that. And, after months and months, early on (big sigh, the things pain will do to a person), of staying in conversation with the cheater even as he routinely and brutally tried to force me into “owning up” to “my share” of the “failure” of “our” marriage, it finally dawned on me that this was the same old deal, and the only tactic he would ever be capable of: wresting control of the narrative away from all others, spinning it to his liking, and bullying or hoodwinking all comers into embracing his interpretation of it.

    But the more important realization has been that none of this matters if the no contact zone is not only firm but very deep. I want no contact with him physically, verbally, digitally, mentally, or emotionally. Those last two are hard, but they are the goal. I have zero awareness of his social media doings, and want none. Zero interest in where he is. Zeroing him out on every conceivable level is the goal.

    What UX’s messed up ex did is absolutely common, maddening to know about, and tough to avoid entirely when kids are young, but kids do grow. My last one will soon be done with HS and headed to college. She currently has no interest in dealing with the STBX, but I have no control over what happens there over time. Once both kids are adults, they have to choose as they will. My vote is very clear: I will not deal with the STBX or any aspect of him unless absolutely unavoidable for legal reasons, and even then as little and distantly as possible.

    For my own health, healing, contentment, joy, creativity, spiritual depth, love of life, and all that is holy, the cheater has to be the measure and touchstone of absolutely nothing. That’s the deep no contact I’m after. What is said or thought about me and my alleged role is immaterial, really, for those things are about some fictional character made up for some disordered purpose and have nothing to do with actual me, and no force in my real life at all. I could give that whole deal a big slice of my inner life, but why? The Velveteen Rabbit gets to be loved into life, but evil black goo will have to tend to itself. It’s not getting mouth-to-mouth from me ever again, and deserves none of the notice that feeds and fuels it.

    Deep no contact requires doing some things that are new and hard for me, but damned if they don’t actually make me feel way better. When DS started in attacking me with the cheater take–word for gosh darned word–I made him leave and made it clear that I will not be abused by anyone at all, not even my first-born son. Oh, the nastiness he spewed, but no, my son. Here I am if you wish to treat me with the respect I fully deserve. Otherwise, you are not welcome.

    Whatever anyone else might think–both the STBX and the DS he trained so well think me bitter–this is actually the path to a peaceful and joyful life for me.

    At 55, after 29 years of marriage and a 34 year relationship in which I was entirely faithful, I deserve freedom, and I claim the right, without apology, to tell my own story, and to compose the rest of my life as best I can on my own.

    Deep no contact means that how I feel, how I look, what I do, where I go, who I love, what I think, how I talk, what I eat, and everything under the sun or the moon are never measured against or controlled by the ghostly voices or presences of cheater narratives or thinking. That’s the ultimate goal, and am getting there bit by bit, day by day, with still too many failures and setbacks, but great progress and more to come, in large measure because of this blessed place.

    • Cashmere, this post is inspiring to me. I am following in your path. So much rings true for me. I was just looking back at the last text exchange fuckwit and I had in March before I filed and went no texting. He said “you need to own up to your part of what lead up to the failure of our relationship” Fuck that, I never lied or cheated and I was always on board to improve things. He destroyed the relationship with betrayal and he can never know me again!

    • “For my own health, healing, contentment, joy, creativity, spiritual depth, love of life, and all that is holy, the cheater has to be the measure and touchstone of absolutely nothing.”

      BRAVO.

  • “INTIMATELY MORTIFYING”

    Pretty much sums up what we go through. Doesn’t help that we then get blamed for it because cheater spins tales to feel less guilty or ashamed and wants to avoid responsibility. Doesn’t help when cheater’s friends think that her adultery is totally awesome and want more details and cheater is more than happy to share and revel about it.

    • “Because I, as a woman, am finally taking charge of my own life. Because no man owns my sexual or relationship decisions or controls what kind of life I want to lead. Because it’s all about becoming confident, independent, beautiful and sexy. Because I am me, and I love it.”

      Yes, Zell, I’ve seen and heard it all before.

      • Watched a long-time acquaintance do exactly this, largely on Facebook, but also through targeted conversations, always spun as “just between us” intimacies with friends. Oh, the endless posts about finding her joy. Yeah. Because joy always requires steamrolling every innocent in your path. My gosh, what skill she had at spinning. Even while seeming to own up to things–oh, yes, she would say it was ALL HER FAULT–she was spinning away, dropping in references to his mental illness, her longstanding unhapppiness, and how very hard (cue violins and eyes just barely welling up) she really, really tried. And, of course, she surrounded herself with girlfriends who totally egged her on, many of whom had done the same.

        I asked her, when last we spoke, if even one friend had hazarded to call her on her bullshit. Her eyes got very big, and then she said one had, but she ignored him. I told her she should seek him out, and thank him for being the one true friend she has–one who cared enough for her to pull no punches about the unethical path she was taking and could never undo.

        We chatted a bit more. She threw in something about how she was super regretful and then mentioned his mental illness.

        I could only sigh and move on.

      • Oh, how I hate how “sexy” is the goal. But notice how she tips her hand that “no man” will control her sexual decisions. That’s an admission that she has no intention to be monogamous. And it’s not that our partners control those decisions; we make commitments and choose to stay faithful to one person. Such bullshit.

        • I’m sure that’s deliberate, LAJ. If what I hear about RPD is true, I’m quite sure they have some sort of agreement/arrangement whereby each is free to get the attention he/she craves without interference or protest.

          Not much of a foundation upon which to base a healthy relationship, as I understand it. But obviously I’m not as sexually sophisticated as she is.

  • I have *zero* problems telling people my ex cheated on me. I’ve been fortunate that everyone I’ve told has been suitably horrified, and have always condemned his actions, from my doctors to the lady who checked me in to get a mammogram to my bosses. If they think otherwise or wonder if it’s my fault, they never let on. Maybe there’s hope for the human race yet.

  • In my experience, cheaters are also manipulators who want to control the narrative. Merely by observing the patterns of STBX here are the things I’ve noticed.

    They are masters at controlling the flow of information. For example: they will tell their friends, family x,y,z upsets you and they shouldn’t discuss it with you. Because we are good chumps and stay silent (per societal shaming) they get to slowly introduce their narrative from no competing source.

    They are the first to run out and share their side of the story. By the time anyone gets your side of the story, they’ve already made up their minds based on the cheaters narrative. It’s the rare observer who will say “oh my gosh, I was totally wrong. Please tell me more about how I’ve gotten this all wrong!” Nope, once people have made up their minds, it is very hard to chance their opinions.

    They use kernels of truth as the basis of their narrative, but twist and distort it so much that the real context is totally unrecognizable. For example: if you were a stay at home mom, slowly working toward a degree taking a class here and there (with your spouses blessing and agreement) they will twist the context. They might say you’ve been going to school for 7 years, refuse to graduate, have switched majors multiple times and refuse to get a job.

    They pray on others empathy and are skilled at picking out what will hook their targets empathy, using blantant lies to accomplish that goal. They are very skilled at creating a common sense of “we”. For example: If they know the other person had to abort a severely deformed child and went through hell with the decision, and is struggling getting pregnant, they will use that as the basis to hook them into hating you. They might say, “yeah, she just isn’t a good person. She wanted to abort our first child. If it weren’t for me, first child wouldn’t be here. I know what an agonizing decision that must have been for you, and she was willing to do that with a perfectly viable pregnancy. I understand the painful emotions you were experiencing because I felt that way too.

    All of these manipulation tactics work beautifully with the societal expectation that “speaking out” is shameful. Many times by the time a chump does speak out, they are doing so reactively; defending themselves against the onslot of lies, and they end up playing right into the narrative of the cheater – you are unstable, angry, controlling, crazy, etc.

  • I’m a private person. I was mortified when my life became public gossip in our neighborhood. But I never felt shame over his actions. That was his to own. Switzerland friends tried their hardest to get me to take the blame for the whole mess, they actually had the nerve to come to my house and tell me poor x just needed affection. F### that shit. x had affection., he just wanted affection from strangers. I refuse to own any part of his actions. I’m proud of myself for leaving.
    #notashamedofhavingmorals.

  • I was lucky that I never bought into the shame.

    But a very supportive friend who I appreciate no end still pushed my buttons when she admired how ‘brave’ I was facing people who knew about the cheating. I just stopped in my tracks and told her thanks for the support, but >>I<< had nothing to be ashamed of, and if anyone was putting any blame on ME they could just stuff it.

  • I absolutely love you (Platonically!!!), Tracy. Thank you for this post. I’ve been struck recently with how very similar the social narrative is around being a Chump and being an assault/harassment victim.

    Feeling a bit stronger since now that I’ve been away from the STBX, I decided to participate in the #MeToo campaign. Partly, because I know I APPEAR as an educated, physically capable (martial arts) human, so the assumption is often that this could never happen to “someone like me.” Plus, sadly, my story highlights why it is so difficult to come forward. My one example (yes, I have more than one) included:

    1. I had an eyewitness to being molested as a child by my step-dad (the witness and said nothing/did nothing during the abuse).
    2. I was silent for years — terrified of the fallout within my family
    3. When the truth came out, the molestor confessed (because I reminded him of the eyewitness).

    So, evidence-wise, for sexual abuse/assault/harassment, you can’t get much better than that, right? Besides, that’s what so many people keep saying when they hear about an accusation … “where’s the evidence?” “he said he didn’t do it,” etc. But, in my experience, even complete evidence is never enough for society because the underlying narrative is so strong still.

    My example ends like this:
    My mom stayed married to to my step-dad, called me a whore (yep, I must have teased him when I was playing with my dolls … asshole), and the entire rest of the family insisted “but he’s such a nice guy otherwise” and “it was so long ago, you can’t ruin his life over it” …

    This is my blood-family. Even with excellent evidence, still they don’t care. Still they blame the victim. Still they side with the abuser. This response was the realization of my deepest fear — the reason I stayed silent for so long. It made me regret telling the truth … until NOW.

    THANK YOU Tracy and Chump Nation (from the depths of my soul — thank you) — finding this place after the implosion of my marriage helped me realize how thoroughly his behavior was NOT my fault, and it led me to see the million ways that my abusive childhood was also NOT my fault. I’ve owned my real flaws (and will continue to), but **I should never have had to own someone else’s decision to be abusive.**

    I’ve engaged the topic of #MeToo online when I see someone using the old excuses “the person must have wanted it” “give the guy a break, it was so long ago” — etc. I’m doing what I can to change that narrative. But, during the discussions, I have noticed how the excuse-making for the sex offender is nearly identical to the excuses made by and for the cheaters. It is a bit astonishing, actually.

    Egads, Tracy’s post was amazing …. I can’t even fully express it … (((Hugs)))

    • Yes, the excuses are very much parallel in any scenario in which there is a clear victim. Always but alwats, the spin is that value ctim’s did something to that nvite or deserve the abuse, and must claim a share of the responsibility for it. Meanwhile, in a stunning example of mental gymnastics, the perpetrator is spun as the “true” and wholly innocent victim.

      I look back now and see very clearly how deeply my particular cheater was bugged by my innocence. Oh, he raged. Did not want me to feel or (far more importantly) appear, in his words, “morally superior.”

      But here’s the truth, though chumps have a hard time owning it and are far too quick instead to embrace their role in accepting abusive conditions: we ARE morally superior.

      There. I said it. We simply are. And we are able to accept the complexity and pain that having a moral compass entails.

        • “But here’s the truth, though chumps have a hard time owning it and are far too quick instead to embrace their role in accepting abusive conditions: we ARE morally superior. … There. I said it. We simply are. And we are able to accept the complexity and pain that having a moral compass entails.”

          That was beautifully stated, cashmere. 🙂

          I had a moment with STBX — one of those lightbulb moments — where I said to him (in astonishment), “I always thought you were better than me. I had it backwards. This whole thing is backwards.”

          He was pissed ….. (shocking, right? hahaha)

    • Oh yes, a very familiar scenario to me.

      What everyone is saying is, in capital letters:

      DON’T MAKE US FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE.

      WE LIKE THE WORLD THE WAY IT IS.

      WE ARE OK WITH WHAT HAPPENED.

      THE NEEDS OF THE MANY OUTWEIGH THE NEEDS OF THE ONE.

      When you get served that up as a response, you have to decide if you agree with any of those statements as well. And a lot of us do, to our terrible pain and shame.

      But then you fight your way out of the cave and into the sunshine.

  • I live in a left-wing city where I am viewed as some kind of reactionary prude when I tell my cheating story. Clearly, I’m simply not sufficiently evolved, intellectual or open-minded to see that monogamy is a construct of the patriarchy and that when we promise fidelity we all know that means something more along the lines fidelity-ish. In not accepting that narrative, I demonstrate that I am naive and uptight.

    And you know what? I no longer give a hoot if others think that I am some kind of freak with my antiquated views on morals and codes of conduct. Sure, at first it was upsetting and made me feel even more alone at the worst time in my life. But now I shrug and continue to tell my story because I refuse to remain silent and it’s mine to tell. There’s a dignity in standing alone with my own truth.

  • I don’t think there is a difference from the abuse we have experienced and the #metoo movement. It’s about calling out entitlement and abuse of power.

    When people ask about my STBX I say “go ask his girlfriends”. I’ve told his family the details (except my ML she is 92 so just the abbreviated version) they have been for the most part supportive.

    Thanks to CL I will not take blame or listen to it. I’ve said this before– CL saved my life. The support here is my armor.

  • The parallels are real. When I was sixteen, I was sexually assaulted by a guy I’d been dating. Things got out of hand one night, I was frightened and tried to leave, he wouldn’t let me. The end.

    I came to regard that as “being mugged with a penis,” so, although it was something that could be perceived as intimate, it really was just something that was done to my body. Consequently, I felt no more qualms discussing it openly in public than I would have about having been mugged at gunpoint on the streets of New York. It was off-putting to many many people, my openness and lack of shame.

    Dday was different. Worse. Because although I once again was not the perpetrator, this time it WAS intimate, personal. Not just my body but my soul and my entire world. Still, I refused (after the first month or so, when my head was very very fucked up) to wear the mantle of shame. And if the subject came up, I was straightforward and honest about what happened. If people made their own silent judgments about what a shitty wife I was and how I deserved to be abandoned like that, well, that’s on them.

  • The thing that disturbs me the most about #metoo is that is is even more powerful than I ever imagined. It is more than the waves crashing on the beach when the tide comes in. It is a tsunami. What does it say about our culture when so many people have been hurt by these predators, and kept silent because of the cultural pressure to maintain a “normal” life — that is not “normal”. Why do these predators turn to sexual expression for their anger and aggression?
    There was a comedian named Lenny Bruce (he died in the 60’s) who was famous for his profane use of language when he made his astute observations about our life and culture. He said, “The ‘what should be’ never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no ‘what should be,’ there is only what is.” Lenny recognized that words were used as weapons, and the “vulgar” words were particularly lethal weapons. He talked about the disparity of taking an intimate and special act of love, like intercourse, and turning it into something profane, just by using certain words to degrade the actions and take the special nature out of them. One of my friends paraphrased one day, joking that sex didn’t have to be dirty — but was if it was ‘done right.’ Some how we have taken our sacred values and morals, and have used degrading language and inappropriate actions to ruin something special and make it dirty. If anyone who is in a position of power forces another person to do or endure an action that is not wanted and not consented to, that person is guilty of assault. Silence does not condone the unwanted action. But silence does allow the actions to be done again and to escalate. There is no guilt when the powerful feel entitled to assault another.
    Perhaps when people realize that they are not alone, and that the perpetrators are not as powerful as they believe themselves to be, much of our culture will be wiped out by the tsumani of truth which follows #metoo. I hope so. My suspicion is that we all have a story to tell, and the origins of the story happened long before we made the decisions which led us to become chumps. We were trusting and we were naive. We were chumped. I believe that I was in several situations from the time I was a young girl where inappropriate things happened, or bad lessons were taught, and the culture of silence kept me quiet and one bad decision led to another. That may not have been what it should have been, but that was definately what it was.

  • I can only say this – Silent? Fuck No. Appropriate? Yes. To me, there is a code and certain things I won’t do – I don’t post things about my STBXW on Facebook and other particularly public places as I do not want to do that. If I am asked about what happened? Buy me a beer, I’ve got a story to tell. One of her friends reached out to me: I’m sorry about the the troubles that you have had. My response: Thank you, if she hadn’t cheated, this would be a lot easier. Oddly enough, she didn’t know anything about it – how predictable. No – speak up to what you feel is appropriate and when you run into those who will judge you, and they will, speak the truth – Fuck ’em. Yes, my wife cheated and it isn’t my fault, plain and damn simple.

    #likefuckinghell

  • So glad to see this post today. The #metoo movement has been very triggering to me though I consider myself Meh four years out from D-Day/Devalue/Discard. For sixteen years I was ashamed to tell anyone about the verbal and psychological abuse I endured at the hands of X. Some family members (my kids mainly, and my brother) witnessed it, many times, and tried to get me to get help. Out of “loyalty” (trauma bonding) I always defended my Ex and told everyone we were fine, I was happy, he was working on his “anger management.” I also never told anyone about his sexual deviance that he presented to me as what he called ‘bedroom games’ in which he pretended (we’re talking hundreds of occurrences over 16 years) and enticed me to play-act, his desire to rape a 13 year old girl.

    It has taken two separate therapists and much self-reflection and this blog, as well as true supportive friends, for me to shed my shame. Talk about “slut shaming”, I allowed myself to be degraded in the most vulgar way, accepting those labels, whore, cunt, slut, fucktoy, etc blah blah blah as he called them ‘terms of endearment’ and convinced me it was all a kinky fun time. Trust me it never was fun it was abuse, all 50 shades of it for sure.

    Not only that, my Ex is one of those men like a low-level Harvey Weinstein I suppose, who simply cannot view a woman, old, young, fat, skinny, makes now difference, without leering, innuendo and even touching them right in front of me, thereby abusing both them and me simultaneously. I can’t tell you how many times this occured because it was constant. I learned to stifle my reaction so as not to get screamed at for betraying any emotion. One time I walked out of a furniture store after he put his hand on the sales woman’s arm and called her “sweetie”, not only that he always had his hands all over our friends 10 year old daughter who was long past the age for sitting on adults’ laps, yet there she was, legs wrapped around him and I *knew* just *fucking knew* he was getting off on it sexually. Did I tell anyone? Of course not. No one would have believed me and I convinced myself that I was truly a fucked up weirdo for sexuallizing this avuncular jocular behavior even though ringing in my head were his own words he used to say while having sex with me hundreds, thousands of times, his pedophilic fantasies.

    He was very secretive with his computers and computer files. While I have no concrete proof I am thoroughly convinced this is exactly the type of person who would likely be interested in child porn.

    About 3 months ago, I finally got brave enough to submit an anonymous tip to the cyber hot line for abused children, because I finally realized that this wasn’t just about me. Well, the tipline crashed and I couldn’t submit it but I printed it out and mailed it to the local prosecutorial authority. Whether it turns out my Ex has broken any laws will be for them to determine not me.

    The sad thing is I tried to tell some friends about both the abuse and Ex’s sexual proclivities, and while my closest friends believe me 100%, I have had to shed from my life the Switzerland friends who quite obviously through their words and actions, did not believe me. Either didn’t want to believe me, or who knows what.

    The saddest thing of all, that I hope is changing with the #metoo phenomenon and of course with this blog, is that the way these abusers get away with their abuse is because they count on this disbelief. They hid behind it. They wear their masks of respectability and they cynically exploit the average person’s naivete and squeamishness over these things.

    Thank you again, Chump Lady and all who read and post here.

    • That is just sick about the role playing he forced on you. You probably went along with it because if you didn’t he would claim you weren’t really into sex, as if your being uncomfortable with that was a problem with you instead of him. These people are such monsters.

  • I was chumped, more than once. The first time I didn’t know it. I just knew I was married to a man who didn’t have my interests at heart. But the second chumping was eyes wide open, heart in shreds, absolutely life-changing, and, while I thought it would kill me, it helped me live life on a whole different level.

    In other news, at 25 I was groped by a doctor in his office. I never told anyone. I was mortified and ashamed. And I never wore a skirt to a doctor’s office again. #MeToo

    • LAJ–I’m sorry you suffered sexual harassment by a doctor, and felt the need to keep it quiet all this time. Thanks for sharing that; you are a leader on these pages and your example is one that many people will follow who have kept painful secrets for too long.

      • On Twitter, I told that story in a reply to a famous novelist. She said how terrible it was and I said her story was worse. Then we laughed at how typical it was for us to see the other person as having the worse experience. Empathy is such a powerful thing.

  • I’m optimistic the narrative is shifting, though I think until you experience this trauma it can be difficult to understand it until the narrative does swing.

    There are several supporting trends to the shift. Women no longer marry primarily for economic necessity, which in part propped up the ‘men will be men’ so look the other way to their infidelity trope. Women now have power to leave people with such poor life skills for someone more deserving – even if that someone is just themselves.

    Second, there are more examples of alternative lifestyles now that, while not the norm in many places sure, are getting common enough that you can have whatever relationship you want. You want polyamory? There are societies you can join to meet like-minded people. You want only copious no-strings-attached sex? Try a variety of apps on the market. Swinging? Have at it with someone who is into that. The monogamy arguments are getting less powerful because if you believe it’s not natural, guess what? No one is holding a gun to your head to live that life.

    And finally, overlaying the above trends we are seeing greater attention on the experiences of women and consent. Deceiving someone, having sex with someone else when your partner believes you to be in a committed partnership, putting their health at risk… It all strips away any informed, positive consent we could have given. It violates our most intimate feelings. It breaks down some of our core instincts of trust and intuition.

    And with outlets like CL gaining such traction, building CN, the tide will turn so that infidelity is not just a scandal, it’s abuse pure and simple.

  • The tide is turning, Chump Nation. Discovering this blog fundamentally altered my reality, and now it’s trickling down to others. I help co-facilitate a class at church about recovering from the pain of divorce. I began three years ago as a member when Honey left, and now I’m one of the teachers. I have imparted the logic and undeniable wisdom of Chump Lady to people who are currently going to counselors who blame them for being cheated on. Asking them what they did to contribute to the demise of their marriage. Espouse reconciliation at all costs with someone who stole from them and broke their marital covenant and who are NOT SORRY. The world is mind-scrambling these chumps.

    The look on their faces when I speak about cheater entitlement and poor character and narcissism as reasons for cheating is like they’ve been handed a drink of water in the desert. Nothing I say is antithetical to the teachings of the course or the bible (marital covenant is broken in adultery), which is great, and it contradicts the narrative these people are getting in their home life, counseling appointments, and friendships. I am uniquely positioned to do a lot of good to get this message out there, and I thank this site for a great deal of that.

    Personally, I have encountered my own mindscrambling about being betrayed and abandoned. The worst happened in a weight clinic. I went there to try to get help because my weight first dropped dramatically after Honey left, then skyrocketed. I had my 2 babies with me, 3 and 4 at the time, because as a single mom, I often have to take them everywhere I go when it’s not ideal. The doctor comes in and starts asking me questions about my weight, and I (quietly) gave a little background about my weight relational to my spouse leaving me for another woman. She puts her arm on my shoulder, looks me square in the face, and in the loudest and most condescending voice possible asks ‘was your weight the reason he left?’ while nodding her head up and down (as if in agreement with her own question). I recoiled and yanked away from her. In a hushed voice so my kids couldn’t hear, I said ‘no, he left because he’s a narcissist with piss poor character, not because of the size or shape of my ass, but thanks.’ Never could have fought for my own dignity like that if it weren’t for Chump Nation!

    • Just when I think I can’t be shocked anymore…Unfuckingbelievable that a doctor would ask you that question. Throat-punch Thursday can’t come soon enough.

  • I can jump on the #metoo bandwagon for harassment (fortunately many years ago now for me). One was easy to deal with as it was a fellow 9th grader back in the day. He kept making inappropriate grabs at me. One day I got fed up and delivered a quick kick to the shins and he never touched me again. That was easy, however, as he was a peer and really had no hold over me. I guess I am lucky he didn’t hit me back, but he was young and stupid and really didn’t know any better. Hopefully the kick gave him a clue.

    At the same time I was also being harassed by the technical drafting teacher (gross man who chewed tobacco). I was the only girl in the class. Every day he made us students meet with him at his desk to go over assignments and when I went up he would rub my thighs in front of everyone. He was definitely in a position of power over me and I had no recourse of which I was aware back then. My solution was to avoid him as much as possible and I started reviewing my work standing across from his desk whenever I went up. Still, the boys in the class had all noticed and had their own theories as to why I had the highest grade in the class (the fact that I was smarter and more capable then they were didn’t cross their minds). I got off easy, however. The man was arrested and I think convicted of sexual assault on another student a few years later. Kudos to that girl for being brave enough to step forward and I wonder how many he assaulted before that.

    Another incident was a few years later during summer break when I was in college. I had a summer job helping restore old apartment buildings (really fix up work on apartments run by a slum lord). Anyway, there were two employees, me and a married 30 something man. The man was constantly kissing my cheek and trying to feel me up while claiming his marriage was sexless but he would never cheat because he wasn’t the type (as far as I was concerned he was already cheating). This was the only person I had to talk to all day. Never the less, when the harassment started I tried to avoid him, but he would go looking for me. I tried asking him to stop, but that didn’t work. I tried just going cold and ignoring the groping thinking he would get bored and stop. Didn’t work. Then he had the nerve to blame me for not stopping him. I wish now I had given him a quick kick to the shins, but I am not sure he wouldn’t have hit me back. The boss was no help as he clearly needed this guy’s help more than mine and he was busy harassing me in every way but sexually. I eventually just had to quit the job.

    The final kicker was when I was confessing all of this to a few college friends and one of them (a guy and notorious cheater/womanizer so stupid me for confessing in front of him) was blaming me for all of that. “Well, you must have been provoking it somehow, dressed provocatively and/or flirting or something”. I never dressed provocatively, it wasn’t my style (and not allowed in 9th grade) and if I knew how to flirt I would have used that talent on the hot young guys my age, not middle aged creeps.

    As far as being a chump, times have changed or perhaps I just keep better company because nobody has blamed me at all for any of this, not even his family. They may want to believe he is still a good person who made a mistake in blowing up his marriage the way he did, but they certainly don’t blame me for that for which I am grateful. Most friends who knew us well are angry on my behalf and have let me know that I was a good wife. I am grateful for that too. Let him be the one to suffer because “nobody understands” his pain but Schmoopie (who probably does blame me but fuck her).

  • Amen to that Chump Lady!

    I now understand that shame and guilt kept me frozen at DD#1. Five years later, there was also shame and guilt at DD#2 but mostly there was enough anger to get a divorce and stop the insanity.

    Before I found CL and this community, deep down I still carried a bit shame and guilt — which is so ridiculous. I don’t anymore. I see my XH as the fuckturd that he is.

    It breaks my heart to hear stories from my Grandmother and Mom’s generation. I am so happy that were are changing the narrative.

  • On the #metoo aspect of this:

    1. Some boatloads From teens that I will not tell, because, yeah, that bad.

    2. First teaching job, long note from student who wanted to rape me with a knife, and described that in graphic detail. Immediately reported. Many interminable weeks later, he was expelled, but kept attending my class that whole time, though I asked daily for his removal.

    3. Second teaching job.

    –Someone who shared my last name and had tenure was basically out as lesbian. Someone meeting me for the first time assumed I was her–and apparently also assumed that it would be just fine and dandy to verbally sexually harass a known lesbian–and proceeded very loudly in the faculty copy room, to discuss all he had “heard” about “me.”

    –President of the whole damned really big place grabbed my ass at a fundraising dinner in full view of the husband, who predictably was unhelpful. Yup.

    –Won a teaching award and received several notes from older male colleagues about how my youth and gender had to be the only reasons, for that, and observing that I was far too young (maybe 38 at the time) for a “career” award.

    –Male colleague brought Madonna’s sex “coffee table” book (then just published) to my office to ask how I might go about teaching it, laciviously turning the pages all the while, shit eating grin in place. Cannot make this shit up.

    –In a committee meeting, male colleague suggested that we could raise funds by setting me up in a kissing booth. Yeah. Fuck him to hell.

    And in the midst of all that, turns out that the supposedly trustworthy guy who would always root for me wasn’t and didn’t. So.

    Every single time yet another harasser is outed, I think of all of the ones who will never be.

    #tipoficebergmuch?

  • Awesome post! I completely agree that we are ‘Chump Shamed’ for somehow not being enough and having to take responsibility for our partner cheating…it’s INSANE!

    I was lucky though in a way…I had some great close friends and CN very early on in the shit sandwich I was served up. The SHAME of staying or reconciling was more powerful than the shame of being a chump. Through this amazing site I learnt to stand up and hand the shit sandwiches back to the people who wanted me to eat them. Thank you for giving me the courage to also stand up to the cheater apologists. I am loud about being a chump. I own the narrative and the truth. I have the photos and texts I am very happy to send anyone who suggests he wasn’t cheating and that I may have overreacted in leaving a man with cancer. I get to say “bullshit” and point out that I was literally paying to keep him alive and he was cheating on me. That sort of thing tends to go down like a lead balloon at parties but I’m well past meh now too.

    Personally, I have learnt that there are MANY silent chumps out there and that by telling my story I have acquired their support in my workplace and in my friendship circles.

  • From Day 1 I told. I told his family, I told our friends, I told our daughter’s teachers. Everyone.

    I simply stated the fact calmly. “He left for a 20 year old coworker.” If anyone judged me for that they didn’t let me know, and I don’t care. Dumping your middle aged wife for a younger woman is so cliche and shallow. If they couldn’t see that, then that’s their problem.

    I have zero shame. I did nothing wrong other than be too trusting, too kind, too understanding. No shame in that at all.

    The story has a happy ending though, one I wrote myself to my own specifications. My friend painted a picture of a beautiful floating jellyfish and the words “I WILL BE HAPPY”. The title of the painting is ‘Defiant’. I love it. It’s exactly where I am now, Defiantly Happy.

    • Time to flip the tables on cheaters: YOU ARE WHATS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE! Not the people you deceived and lied to!

      Re-victimizing the victim has got to stop! Never sit silently….never accept any blame for a cheater’s disgusting behavior! Cheaters love when we sit in silence. This way they can control the narrative (the story). Their biggest hope is that others will agree with them about their cheating. The only people they truly convince are other cheaters. Decent people would never agree that cheating is right- no matter what.

      Call cheaters out for what they are- the scum of the earth!

  • This is so timely.

    Just yesterday, I was thinking about the parallels between being chumped and the #MeToo movement. Since the #MeToo movement start, I’ve thought back on many moments in my life to when I was mistreated or objectified. In many cases, I’ve hidden these thoughts away, only to be reminded of them when I read another person’s story. It’s painful.

    This retrospection has also conjured up memories of my ex. He never harassed or raped me. But from the very beginning of our relationship, he groomed me to accept a disgusting level of behavior from him and his friends, telling me that’s “just how guys are”. I was young when we met, and I didn’t want to believe it. Still, I loved him, so I went along with it. I went along with his roaming eyes and his raunchy comments. After all, that’s “just how guys are”.

    No more. That’s not just how guys are. His telling me that was just another form of abuse. There ARE decent people in this world, and we deserve to surround ourselves with them.

    I’ve come a long way in healing from being chumped. I no longer feel the need to protect him. He didn’t protect me, so why should I protect him? He upturned my life. He made my children cry. Fuck him.

    #MeToo

  • #MeToo now has a valid place in my life, thank you Chump Lady!!!

    2 marriages, twice chumped. BOTH husbands left me in shambles.

    The wreckage I had to sift and pilfer through to be where I am today is what makes me, me.
    I am shamed and amiss at how much I put up with in silence with BOTH husbands.
    I spackled.
    I disconnected from friends and family that saw through their shit and told me I could do better.
    I hid my anger.
    I hid my pain, disappointment, discomfort.
    I was alone, but married.
    I was hurt, repeatedly.
    I had no one to talk to that “got it”, that understood. Until now.

    I would say in the beginning, “Don’t lie about me and all you did to me, and I won’t tell the truth about you.”
    Silent No More.
    Arkansas could hear me on a good day, now it will be Kansas…
    #MeToo

  • I haven’t read all the comments but when the metoo hashtag was first being posted all over the internet I said this to some friends I’m in a group chat with:
    “On a heavier note- this #metoo thing has been keeping me awake at night. Like 99% if women I’ve experienced harassment and assault from strangers/acquaintances/friends etc but what’s been weighing on my mind is the experience of being cheated on. I was told it had been going on for a year (now I know this is probably another lie and I’ll never know the actual truth). Because it was carried out completely in secret I did have sex and other intimacy with him during that time.
    But the thing that haunts me is that if I’d known the facts I wouldn’t have consented. So each and every one of those times (and day to day life in between) he withheld crucial information that I needed to give informed consent. So…I feel like not only was he financially and emotionally abusive he was also sexually abusive. And I don’t see that being addressed anywhere. And I don’t know how to express that it’s a legitimate abuse. I don’t feel like I can post about it. Cheating is still widely seen as a ‘marital/relationship’ problem and the victim is widely viewed as having been part of the reason (ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE).
    Aaargh. It’s doing my head in 😪”
    One of them replied with “I never thought of it (cheating) that way.”
    I’m glad Chump Lady has posted this topic. I hope it helps change societal narrative.

    • Totally love this take on it, RollerSkater. Being shamed for making a sad choice, when the information was withheld which would have made the choice a full one. It is your fault, I guess if you pick up an STD by choosing to not do safe sex on the erroneous (and studiously misinformed) assumption of monogamy. If you don’t have all the information, you can’t carry all the weight of that choice, period.

  • Cheating is NEVER a “marital problem”- it’s a moral deficiency problem on the cheater’s behalf. This is why marriage counseling cannot and will not help marriages that have been ravaged by a cheater.

    Treat yourselves to the truth – read up on the work of Dr. Omar Minwalla. I promise you will breath a deep sigh of relief. The work of Dr. Omar Minwalla is turning victim blaming mentality on it’s ear.

    Minwalla has cheaters pegged for what they are. Unlike Patrick Carnes and his silly ass CSATs- Minwalla calls a spade a spade – with no apologies. Carnes and his idiots- enable the cheater and blame the victim (the betrayed spouse/partner).

    Never accept the blame for a cheater’s behavior- NEVER!

  • Years ago, a friend and I went out for a drink. A middle aged man approached us and introduced himself. He was pleasant enough and he insisted on buying us drinks.

    We could tell by looking at his ring finger- he recently removed his wedding band from his finger (the obvious indentation in the skin gave him away). When my friend and I confronted him about it- he said “My wife doesn’t meet my needs.”

    My friend’s response: Obviously you are making NO effort to meeting her needs either. If I were you….I’d put my wedding band back on my finger……and grow the fuck up. She handed him back the drink he bought and said: You need to spend your money on your wife- not on strange women in the bar.

    If we all took that approach- cheating would end up in the dumpster with other toxic social policies.

    “My wife doesn’t meet my needs” usually translates to: I am a selfish, piece of shit that puts little or no effort into my marriage. I am entitled…….I am all that matters.

  • Tracy, this hit me so hard yesterday, I couldn’t post a comment: “Some people point to the accusers and wonder why they didn’t speak up sooner. Well, imagine the awkwardness. It’s your boss, or a revered public figure, or a comedian whose approval could make or break you. Those are losses and embarrassments that would shut a person up.

    I wonder about all the silent chumps out there, who never speak of their experience. Who wear the shame.

    We can rightly imagine the perceived losses that would keep a victim of sexual harassment or assault quiet. Now imagine the loss is your entire family structure. Your home. Your financial stability. To tell is to risk hurting your children. It’s admitting the most sexually humiliating things that ever happened to you. It’s confessing all the grotesque things you accepted and accommodated to avoid these losses. And the perpetrator wasn’t tangental to your life — it was your spouse. Your partner. Your true love. The person you trusted the most in this world.

    Now imagine that the ENTIRE discourse around this experience blames you for it. Asks you to own your part. Wonders out loud what needs you weren’t meeting.”

    Now, all I really want to say is thank you. Thank you for providing us with this forum and a real voice in the world. For everything you do, every comment, every moment of solidarity, every snarky laugh, thank you.

  • I recently got “there are two sides of the story” from the OW. I was like ,”Yep and you only know one so exactly why are you reminding me there are two?”

    This is what she told me because she wanted me to know she was a good person. She was concerned about getting involved with a married man but she came to the conclusion that it was complicated and we were separated for a few months. I told her well I certainly couldn’t be with a man who left his wife during cancer, but that was just me projecting my values on to her. And that is when she hit me with the “Well you’ve done things too. There are two sides to every story. ” But when I asked what I did that came even close to his atrocities, she decided it was not her place to say. I didn’t keep quiet. I told her just a couple of the things he did to me (in addition to leaving me with cancer) and she just couldn’t believe he would ever do those things because he didn’t seem like the kind of person who would stand up for himself. Sounds like she’s dating a great guy, huh?

    The fact that my Ex tumor left ME while I was going through chemo and STILL plays the victim is insulting. And it’s even more insulting that he finds clueless dimwits to feel sorry for him.

    I will not keep quiet. I will tell everyone I can what his true character is. I know they probably won’t listen, but years from now they will finally realize I was right and I will just laugh.

  • i have no problem telling people i divorced him because he cheated on me AGAIN. maybe my situation was different. i lost my first born at age 25 due to an aorta aneurysm, in mar 2012. wasband started acting out summer of 2013. i tried to hold on and fix my marriage only he kept getting worse. by the end of 2013, he was not coming home every single friday or saturday night or both. he was not helping pay bills, he was not spending any time with me and the boys, he was not talking to me at all and was giving us all the silent treatment. i still held on and had hopes. after christmas where i honestly thought we were going to be ok, he left again on new years eve, and i kicked him out again.

    come to find out he already had a girlfriend but i didnt find out about her until feb 9 2014. i filed the divorce papers the next day.. .. .. one of the lasdt things he told me was i “got boring” so my grieving for my first born got boring for him…. .. which is why i have no problem telling people he cheated….

    what kind of man cheats and betrays his grieving wife ??? not my problem anymore

  • I received a lot of aghast reactions when I cam out and told the truth. I refused to carry his shame. I wasn’t prepared for the embarrassed and censoring reaction I received from some other women, though. It was very much a “Shhhhhhh! We don’t talk about that! It’s shameful!”

    Why should I be ashamed? I was 100% loyal to the same person for 6 years. Speak the truth sisters, this isn’t the 1950’s anymore!`

  • I totally understand you Tracy, about the cocktail conversation.
    I learned the hard way not to mention anything that would reveal my most intimate status: divorced form a cheater.
    It all boils down to people not being able to empathise, unless they’ve been there. OR…being cheaters themselves, in which case they look at you and me like that TV producer.
    When one says they are divorced from a cheater, feels like the world instantly splits: who gets it and who doesn’t, who is the enemy.

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