I often get letters that are written in crisis. Heart-breaking, gut-wrenching letters. And I don’t publish them mostly because they are just too long for readers to wade through (and have no paragraph breaks), or they really aren’t asking me a question. They’re vomiting grief and sorrow and bewilderment.
When I get these sorts of letters, and I can’t run them, I just think, “Well, they found the site. I hope they read here and find comfort.”
Well, yesterday I got a D-Day letter from “Motleynurse.” For someone who just fell down the trapdoor into the dungeon of infidelity discovery, she writes very journalistically about the hellscape. I’m answering her letter below, but instead of my usual format, I’m going to break the letter into segments (ala the UBT, only kinder). She sees her lawyer today. Let’s lend her some Chump Nation mightiness. Here goes.
Dear Chump Lady
Here is my attempt at explaining the trauma happening in my life right now.
Day 1. Monday 11/13 in the middle of my work day, my husband texts me that he was having an affair with a girl from work, that was not sexual but they were making out every day. And that he’d like some time to figure out his feelings. My body’s initial reaction was to start vomiting and have severe diarrhea. I left work and patient care (I’m a nurse ) in this state of shock.
I’m so sorry. What a cowardly, cheating bastard.
Yeah, he needs time to figure out “his feelings,” but yours can be detonated at work. In public. By text.
I’m glad to read you’re a nurse. (Great work, you can always support yourself.) And you’re probably familiar with all manner of injections that could kill a person. Um, not like that’s a suggestion or anything.
That evening when I saw him, I was in the “please choose me” state instead of the mean, violent, get-out-of-my-house state that he expected.
Day 2 and 3 he acted as though he had complete freedom. He got mean and carefree with his words and actions. He said things like, “the kids’ pain is worth my happiness.” He declared that he loved her. I suggested we move for a new start. He said, “What makes you think it wouldn’t happen with someone else?” My body continued to shut down. Extreme daily vomiting, and inability to sleep.
He’s enjoying your pick me dance because he is a cruel, disordered piece of shit.
Please note some interesting contradictions. He “loves” the OW, but suggests that his cheating could happen with “someone else.” Boy, that OW sounds super special!
And yes, he does think the kids’ pain — and your pain — is worth his happiness. Actually your pain is part of his happiness. It’s the kibble flavor known as centrality. ME! ME! Are you sobbing? Begging? Catatonic? I MATTER!
Day 4. Thursday I found them having sex. It was not an accident and was his way to push me hard enough to kick him out and make it easy for him.
How traumatic. (((Motleynurse))
You realize that your husband doesn’t have to traumatize you to end a marriage. He can just actually END a marriage and communicate that. He has agency.
Day 5. Friday I left to Seattle with my kids to be with my sister. A time of reprieve and rescuing from the trauma. I left a note requesting he to pack his things and be gone upon our return.
Starting day 1 that we were gone, the texts and calls started. The begging and pleading for forgiveness was relentless. Over the next several days he told his boss what he’d done. Took the week off to “try to repair us and stay away from her.” He disclosed their 18-month emotional affair, a couple weeks of making out before and after work and at lunch, a week where he professed his love to her, a night of sex. But the next day cut off any and all type of contact with her … text /phone /email records collaborate the sudden real in communication.
He misses cake. His marriage (no consequences! all the perks!) and his affair partner. In 18-months he didn’t have *one* night of sex. That’s absurd. This wasn’t an emotional affair. Not that it matters, it’s all betrayal. My point is he’s lying to you.
Also he’s being transparent only with the technology you know about. There’s probably a burner phone, new accounts, etc.
During that time the kids clearly knew something was wrong, but not what. Wednesday evening Our 8-year-old son asked me, “Mommy , why are you so sad? Did daddy decide to love Elizabeth’s mom?” Can you imagine? It broke any part of me not already broken. I tried to be careful with my answer as my brain turned that this was something he was aware of, yet I was so blindsided? “Yes Son. He did. But he didn’t stop loving you. Even grownups make really big mistakes.” Etc. My husband called him that evening. Told him he was confused and made some terrible mistakes and apologized and promised him he would fix our family.
He reached out to my 19-year-old and apologized and swore to do better for our family.
So, he’s triangulating you with your kids, and gaslighting them to boot. Loving “Elizabeth’s mom” is just “confusion” and a vague “mistake.”
The fact that your son knows who the OW is, probably means they’ve been introduced. Part of the abusive dynamic is making children collude against the chump parent. Your poor kids.
Going forward, do not tell your children Daddy “didn’t stop loving you.” You can’t speak for him. Tell children to judge people by their actions, not their words. And don’t raise a future generation of chumps who equate terrible treatment with “love.”
You don’t have to say bad things about this man. You get to say nothing in his defense. Leave him to that relationship. You’re not his PR agent.
I desperately wanted to read what he and the OW had said to each other. He sent me some of their messages. Her fiancé sent me some as well. Her scenario with him played out nearly like our scenario. It was a planned out event to disclose their affair.
I read about her plans to start a family with my husband and worse, she said things like he — and my son and 4-year old daughter — need to be with her where they belong.
So she imagines stealing your life and insinuates that your own children’s rightful place is with her? A virtual stranger to them? (Which means you must really suck if a total stranger loves them more.) You know, when Esther Perel raves on about the exuberant aliveness of affairs, she tends to neglect these kind of details. “The sex was great and then we conspired to kidnap small children!”
She was so easy to read. Constantly looking for pity. Even created trauma to induce that pity.
The vomiting, inability to sleep and bodily break down continued through the week of his relentless crying and begging us back.
I’m sorry you didn’t find us sooner. You have to close all the portals to the “relentless crying and begging us back.” No contact is the ONLY way. You’re wobbly and he’s a manipulative bastard. It’s a bad mix.
But.. he started to say the “right things.”
Of course he did. #cake
Becoming somewhat transparent, he wrote a 6-page letter explaining how he got to where he was.
The Universal Bullshit Translator would love to see that. Note it’s all about him. Where “he” was. Same with this sobbing and begging. All. About. Him. No sobbing for what he did to his family. Just Holy Fuck There Are Consequences.
He described her as an alternate universe using the analogy of the movie “Coraline.”
There are no consequences in fictitious alternative universes.
He stated that when he woke up In her bed and saw her 5-year-old daughter, he thought “that ain’t my daughter. And that sure as hell ain’t my wife.“
They’re fucking when small children are home and can walk in on them. #thataintmydaddy
He discussed all the happiness of our life together and made all the right promises. He listed specific reasons and examples of favorite memories with me to assure me he wanted to make it work for us. Not just the kids. He used my fear of the pain and loss the kids would face against me.
So Friday we returned home. We lived in a somewhat normal routine over the weekend. I found myself wanting to be engulfed in him while being disgusted at the same time.
Bargaining stage of grief (aka “hysterical bonding”). Again this is why no contact and circling the wagons with other loved ones is so important in the beginning. You want the idiot who hurt you to make it all better. But they just keep hurting you. Worse.
Sunday I became overwhelmed as I knew Monday he’d be returning to work in the same office. He again offered all the right promises and reassurance. ..
Tuesday I could feel her presence and hear her words in him, although his promises of absolutely no contact with her remained. I asked him to write her a letter, telling her all he had told me.
Wednesday he said he wasn’t willing to write a “hate” letter and cause more pain than he already had. He talked about feeling bad for the pain he caused her. Can you imagine saying that to me?
I’m thinking instead of him writing her a letter, you could just’ve sent her the 6-page one you got. I’m sure it had some juicy nuggets about his “mistakes” in there. (OW: WHAT?! I am a MISTAKE?)
He’s setting you up.
Thursday morning D-DAY:
He came to my room, wrapped his arms around me and said, “Baby, I miss you. Please sleep in the same room as me. I need to feel your presence. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
At noon he texts me that his heart was still with her.
6:00 that evening he moved in with her.
Apparently his “whatever it takes” has a three-hour expiration date.
He again showed flippant detachment and disregard for his family. Carpooled to work with her yesterday and left the truck in her driveway, almost like a big F U to his family. I picked up the truck and loaded every item of his I could find in our home and then left it in her driveway.
Way to be mighty!
Another piece of the puzzle….
He went through essentially a breakdown about 2 years ago. He purchased vehicle after vehicle, stopped paying bills, and put us in financial crisis. A few months ago we went bankrupt. My entire earnings go to the bankruptcy and loan repayment. I found out that he has not been paying the mortgage or any portion of the bankruptcy, so it is thousands behind. ….
Last month I took out a large 401k loan to bring our mortgage current. So he wasn’t paying g the mortgage or the bankruptcy payment. He has cleared our accounts. I don’t know what he’s doing with the money. He has clearly had something planned for a while.
This is not a breakdown. This is financial abuse. His money issues coincide with his affair timeline. You need a lawyer and a forensic accountant. (I’m neither. Just a blogger.) If he moved monies (like say to an affair partner) before he filed bankruptcy, that’s a federal crime. You need some serious professional help. It’s NOT okay that you’re left holding the bag on this.
I’ve tried to return to work. I’ve found myself so overcome with panic I’m unable to get out of my car. Still unable to sleep or eat or stop getting sick.
You’re in shock, which is totally to be expected. Get help, make a plan, and practice self care now. More below.
I’m overcome with fear. I can’t protect my children from the pain they are about to encounter. They will lose their home, their security, their trust, the magic their life has been. I’m not a stranger to trauma. But this fear for my children has me in a non-functioning state. Every day brings new pain.
YOU are your children’s home. The surroundings might change, but that’s it. You are their security, their trust, their magic. YOU are the sane, loving parent. And that’s all kids need.
I’m not saying what happens next won’t feel devastating — it will. But please know that this is survivable. Your family will adapt to new surroundings and new challenges and income levels, because you’re there modeling mightiness every day. Because you LOVE them and have actual adult life skills.
He’s requesting to see the kids this weekend with and to place our home for sale. He wants to tell them together, but will not disclose what he actually wants to say.
Oh HELL to the NO. This isn’t a “we” problem. He’s not part of your family. He’s a bastard who fucked you all over. He’s on his own. Sorry. Asshole needs to craft his own bullshit on his own time.
I have retained a lawyer. He’s not aware of that yet. My meeting is Monday and then the clock starts and he’ll be served papers for a legal separation. I’m hoping to be on a leave of absence or short-term disability and just live my kids. I’m trying to take one moment at a time but am faces with huge changes and big decisions daily.
Great, I’m glad you’re seeing a lawyer. Why not file for divorce and get temporary support papers? You need to indemnify yourself against any more debt this jerk is ringing up.
Should I wait to tell the kids until after the lawyer? He is claiming I’m keeping him from his children. Do you have a script I can use to tell them?
Yes, wait. Don’t involve him at all in the telling the kids. He will have some self-serving, sad sausage narrative. Why should you subject yourself to that? Or worse, gaslight your children for his sake? I’ll let Chump Nation help you with the script. We’ve been there. Remember, your kids are not stupid. Your son already knows what’s up. You owe your cheating soon-to-be-ex NOTHING.
It feels like I’m drowning. I didn’t know I could be broken like this. I’m having to face that my husband is someone I don’t know. That my marriage that I thought was perfect, was a lie. I didn’t have a plan b or c or d. I didn’t ever consider I’d be left in my 40s used up and alone.
I wrote this to him which I doubt he even read. I guess I really wrote it to make myself believe it.
We decide the legacies we leave our children.
My children will never ever think of their mother as a victim. They’ll know I fiercely fought for their family. That I loved their father from the minute I met him. But they will never remember their mom as someone who thought so little of herself she’d be with a man who doesn’t love her, doesn’t want her, and spent his time bashing her, lying about her, and cheating on her. They will remember their mother as someone who knew her self worth. Someone who dedicated her life to protecting them and who would love them through the heartache and pain.
You’ve got this, Motleynurse. BELIEVE IT.
Now, retain that lawyer and nail his ass to the wall. Better days ahead.