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If You Could Go Back in Time…

Today’s Friday challenge comes from Joe who asks if you got a chance to shake some sense into your younger self, what would you say?

I was wondering, if chumps could go back in time to their late teens and early twenties and talk to theirselves, what advice would they give to theirselves? In my case, I would tell myself to stay in college and appreciate the opportunity it presented. I can’t help but wonder what chumps would tell themselves after they have been through the minefield of affairs, discard, etc.

Curious exercise. You may think this odd, but I’m not sure I’d want a do-over. I learned a lot from my idiocy. That said, I’m not so sure I would’ve spent some much time in the trenches with fuckwits. I wish the learning curve was shorter.

Words of wisdom for my college self?

Hi Tracy! You are at the apex of loveliness! Quit going through life feeling like a lumbering water buffalo! Go rock a bikini or something. Love your middle-aged squidgy future self. 

I should’ve enjoyed youth more. I think in my rush to be Serious and Grown Up, I settled too quickly.

I wish I dated earnest nerd boys like my husband. There were a few, but mostly I geared towards misfits and the ones who picked me. Enh..

Regrets. Anyone had a few?


Ask Chump Lady

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  • Not to worry, that it will all be OK. I think I was afraid to be alone so I ended up with jerks.

    • Same here. I was afraid to be alone and wound up with users and losers. 2 1/2 years out, I know I am worthy and don’t NEED a man in my life to make me whole.

      • I don’t even need to write mine. I’ll just say “me too.”

        And I would say, enjoy every age. Enjoy life. Know that you are beautiful. It kills me to look at photos of my younger self and to realize how little I valued myself.

        • ummm …. (slyly puts hand up) except – I would have had to tell my 19 yr old self, and then go back repeatedly during my twenties, my 33 yr old self ALMOST had it right but slide back from fear of being alone and I wish I had returned at 37. Fear of being alone has resulted in my being alone. And now I believe that I will always be alone.

          • Little young me was never afraid of being alone. She was not fearless but kickass anyway. And still I fell for the improbable perfect adoring person. Who looked like a guinea pig, but seemed so sincere. And stole 16 years of my life, and the house I spent a year finding, and 12 years fixing, while the rat bastard fucked my friend, probably my sister and probably his niece. Nice guy.

    • I would have never moved out of my Mom’s house in 1986 when I turned 18.

      I would have never gotten married.

      I would have never gotten a job.

      I would play video games 24/7 with no responsibility whatsoever.

      “HEY, MA……..MEATLOAF!!!!”

    • If I could advise my younger self
      Believe in yourself & be kind to you
      Rock the world with your brains and your empathy
      Finish your medical degree and healer; heal thyself
      Kick ass the imposters in your life! Banish their lies deceit duplicity dishonesty. And I nearly forgot! Their limp dick! Yes I heard- that was my fault! I don’t think so!!!
      Go shine your light and help to make this world a better place!

  • OhHellNo, a person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter — is not a nice person.

    (These are the words of Dave Barry.)

    • So true, and I will add a related maxim: A date who is nice to you but even NICER to the waitress is not a good date.

      • TheCheater started triangulation on our very first date by flirting with our waitress. A couple of dates in, it happened again and I said — “Cheater, you’ve talked more with our waitress tonight than you’ve talked with me. Would you rather be out with her?” — and his explanation was he had been a waiter for years and always loved having talkative customers, so he tried always to have robust conversations with waitresses serving him.

        I sure applied spackle to that explanation to make it plausible. Um, no. Pretty sure wait staff prefers polite but not chatty customers so they can get on with their work and make more/better tips.

    • Also, jerks/liars/cheaters can be nice to the waiter/waitress but rotten to you, their partner!

      • Absolutely! The Sprout is very solicitous and polite to most other people, just a head-fucking bastard to me (and his children!). I would rather it was the other way around

        • THAT is one thing that I always said: “Why does everyone else’s opinion matter more than mine and your sons?” He just did not care. I had all the clues, but did not know enough to put them all together to know that I was married to a SOCIOPATH.

          • X is quite charming and polite to the waiter or waitress, actually to everyone other than me and his son.

            If there was something X didn’t like rather than confront someone (other than me) he would write anonymous letters or notes to neighbors who hadn’t mowed their lawn or had weeds in their. garden or report a neighbor to the police if they hadn’t registered their vehicle on time or any other parking infraction. X also would contact a business again anonymously to get someone in trouble without anyone knowing it was him.
            He’d then like to sit back and laugh after seeing the neighbor get a ticket or see the police knocking on their door. At that time I didn’t realize I was married to not only a weasel but a sociopath.

            • Yes Brit,
              Sociopaths are charming, charismatic, masters of the art of manipulation!

              We Chumps, are easily fooled because we are decent, kind, loving, empathetic, people and can’t contemplate evil manipulation as a means to control and abuse! These predators take their time, manipulating, saying all the right things, to “hook” and then the narc abuse begins, causing their victims to question their own sanity and reality!

              They are bottom feeders !

              • ^^^^^
                Absolutely, Seeing clearly, bottom feeders is what they are, disgusting.
                After writing my post I thought how did I accept this behavior and not say something? I knew there was something “off” (who wouldn’t?).
                He had me believing what he was doing was somehow justified or honorable? WTF??
                I questioned my sanity, reality and sadly my judgement.

                They’re ruthless bullies who pick on those who they feel are weak and in doing so they feel powerful. No remorse, guilt or empathy.
                Bottom feeders.

                They truly are beyond evil.

  • Being poor isn’t any scarier than being abused. Poor and in peace is better than being battered!

    • OhHellNo,

      Yes, I agree, ditto for me. I would also add:

      Wildcat, “You are worthy and enough – don’t ignore the red flags just because you are getting older”

    • OMG, this! “Being poor and at peace is better than” . . . being abused physically, being cheated on, being blamed, being duped, being conned, spending 25 years with a narcissist with BPD, suffering through D-days, going through a hellacious divorce and trial with a narcissist with BPD intent on destroying you financially and mentally for having the audacity to question his abuse and cheating and lying, hearing the man you chose to be the father of your children tell those precious beings that he hated every minute of their lives, sitting in ERs multiple times while your precious child is on psych lock-down from her latest suicide attempt and/or OD following devalue and blameshifting and discard by her monsterous father, laying in bed trying to comfort weeping children night after night as they cry “why doesn’t dad love us, why does he want to leave us?”and knowing that nothing you do can “fix” this or undo the harm he caused to their sense of security and worth. . . . .

      If I could message my 15 year old self (the age when my dad died in my arms) and my mom kicked me out on the streets I would say: “Darling girl, these are the darkest of times, but hang on and hunker in. Life is worth living. Focus on sleeping, eating the best food you can get, pray to a higher power, spend a lot of time with your farm animals and riding your horses, do not drink alcohol or sleep with boys to soothe your pain and terror and loneliness, the days will pass, you will be free of Mom’s abuse — that is all on her, it is not about you in the slightest — you are a perfect human even with your human failings, good people will cross your path, trust people’s actions — if they are scary to you — run away. Beware anyone, especially men, who love bomb you. Run away from them. You are perfect just as you are. You get to grieve for as long as it takes. You can do this. You will be free of this torture and extreme loneliness and despair someday. Do not even think of partnering with any man until you are fully self sufficient. Then watch all of his actions for a long time. If he is not kind and empathetic towards all, then run away. Do not settle for the illusion of financial security. Rely on yourself for that. You will never let yourself down. You can be your own sense of security.”

      Just writing this makes me want to cry. When thinking about my childhood, I realize that I suffered so much abject abuse and neglect, its no wonder I was vulnerable to so many men, including two husbands, who abused me physically and mentally. . . .38 years of mostly hell. It is hard to think about some days. I try not to mire in self pity because that will do nothing for me today. In so many ways, I have been blessed beyond belief too: born during this modern era and relative peace, plentiful food, modern medicine, the right to get educated and speak my mind, and friends who have shown me love and kindness.

      • But here’s the happy ending. You endured. You did the best you could to survive. And here you are now, full of wisdom–FULL OF WISDOM–from living and learning. You had a hard journey; I did too, but I at least had a home, even if it was abusive and troubled at time. But we didn’t repeat the mistakes of our parents. We love. We care for others.

        • (((((((((((((MotherChumper99&lovedAJackass))))))))
          I have a profound love and respect for both of you wonderful women!!
          Sometimes it is impossible to come up with adequate words to express just how amazing you both are, and how much I admire and respect how you have risen above it all, so today, I will just leave it at that!!

          • peacekeeper, you are so right! I have a deep sense of gratitude and love for LAJ, MotherChumper99 and so many others that post their hard-earned wisdom on this site.

            I have a hard time coming up with the words too and they always seem to know what to say that perfectly expresses what I am thinking and feeling.

            Thank you from the bottom of my slowly healing heart. Hugs to all!!

      • MotherChumper99
        Wow, this is a very moving post. There is a world of difference between self-pity and self-compassion. Be kind and gentle to yourself. You have been through enough.
        Thanks for sharing your story.

        • Thank you Fern. I love your name, btw. Reminds me of a favorite childrens’ book, Charlotte’s Web❤️❤️❤️

          • Mother Chumper, your words resonate with me so much. Can we be friends? Let’s ask Tempest to put us in conta6.

        • Absolutely agree with Fern. No one should have to live what you lived through MotherChumper. Be kind to yourself and it’s totally okay to cry for that little girl that is still you.

      • MotherChumper99, I could cut and paste your advice to your younger self it rings so true for me too. You are a strong lady. The word “perseverance”…she persevered…comes to mind.

        If you haven’t already, I think your advice to your younger self would be great advice to your kids.

      • Wow, MC99, poignant and transparent. You are my hero for being a survivor and conquerer and in some ways putting to words some of my story and advice to my former self too. Thank you

      • MotherChumper99,
        Read your post, my hear breaks for you!

        Just know you are one strong, amazing woman! You are a survivor. You have courage x a million- people that abused you – they have zilch, none at all!!

        So, Don’t think for ONE minute you are full of self pity!! Just the opposite/ you are taking charge of your life!!

        Many hugs,
        Seeing clearly

      • All the hugs, and so glad you’ve come to a safe harbour at last Motherchumper. Much to you and your children. Xxx

        • Fern, Nothischump48, LovedAJackass, Peacekeeper, Wildcat, MovingOnChump, NotToday, SeeingClearly, and ArtistFormerlyKnownAsChump, thank you all so much for your kind and supportive words! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

          • MC99,
            Each and every time I read your story, comments, posts, I cry for you and your precious children. I wish I could give you a strong hug, and look at you, tell you, you are AMAZING!

            Look up Nikita Gill quotes, I love this quote by her:

            “ if you are someone who still carries hope in your heart, kindness in your eyes, and generosity in your fingertips despite terrible people happening to you, thank you. You are one of the few truly pure things left in this world, and you deserve to be protected “

            Hugs- I salute you!

            Seeing clearly

      • MotherChumper – what a moving and beautiful post. You have clearly gained much wisdom along your very difficult journey.
        I related to your writing about your daughter – mine has been suicidal with her father’s behaviours too and, although she hasn’t been admitted, we have had a lot of intervention. She is better than she was, although still has to deal with her father’s abuse and that pains me terribly. At least, however, our daughters will not have to deal with the fallout unsupported and invalidated. Hopefully their path to resilience will be much shorter than ours.
        It is easy to get caught up in all of this and never see the beauty of life, though – which is still there, as you acknowledged. Xxx

        • OutOfSparkles,
          I am so sorry you are having to go through this with your daughter. Your love, courage and wisdom will be the source of strength your daughter will pull from as she navigates the aftermath of her father’s abuse. No child should have to go through this!! I started crying, just reading your post about your daughter being suicidal and the interventions you’ve had to go through!! Just know, by your example, you being there, supporting her, validating her, you are ensuring your daughter’s path to resilience will be a short one. You will be there with her every step of the way, lovingly guiding her, holding her hand as she makes this difficult journey. It will be your strength and your unconditional love that will give her the courage and stamina to get through this. I picture you as a lioness, protecting her cub, with her fierce roar!!!!

          Many, many hugs to you and your daughter

    • I left the cheater/pervert/liar/abuser (Dancing Dick)- and a solidly middle class life. I live in a tiny condo…..I have a not so glamorous job…..but I am happier than I was when I was married to the freak,

      No more nagging depression, anxiety….no more feeling crazy. No more looking over my shoulder- no more misery. No feeling embarrassed because I was married to a porn slob/pervert!

      Had I gone another round with the 12-step//marriage counseling bullshit……I would probably be in jail for stabbing Dancing Dick in the eye with a rusty spoon. I couldn’t take the bold face lies, denial and blame shifting anymore!

      I’m almost at Tuesday….steadily approaching “Meh.” Come on “Meh”!

    • Leavingthecrapbehind,
      “Stabbing Dancing Dick in the eye with a rusty spoon “- that brought out a laugh

  • OhHellNo, don’t think that you’re a failure just because you’re still single at 30. Wait for the right one; don’t run down the aisle to the guy of the moment just because you’re getting older.

    It’s so obvious now — why wasn’t it then?!

    • OhHellno,
      I am so glad that my youngest, who is 30, didn’t settle, kissed the frogs and patiently waited, found her Prince Charming, and is now after 4 years, they are now planning their wedding!! I kept encouraging her, NEVER settle, don’t worry that other friends are getting married and starting families, just because you have a womb, doesn’t mean you must have a child to prove your womanhood- wait-someday, someone will enter your life that will value you, for yourself! They found each other and are now planning their wedding and future!

    • Yes. I would tell my younger self exactly this.

      Do not be pressured. There is no hurry. You have your whole lifetime to have sex (which is probably pretty amazing with RIGHT person who loves and respects you). Sex bonded me to such cheating losers.

    • Uh, no. I think people should totally know if they’re sexually compatible before marriage. And frankly, I think you run a very high risk of attracting highly religious closeted gay men.

      Take it slow, absolutely. No sex? Personally, I find that extreme. I think the focus needs to be on treating partners ethically, and learning boundaries and consent. Sex isn’t the issue — character is.

      • I was abstinent until marriage, and I ended up with a sex-crazed, misogynist, cheater, baby-man. I’m with Tracy on this one. I have 5 beautiful babies and I wouldn’t trade anything to go back, but I will be telling my children that honesty and kindness are the two most important things, and not to put their dreams on hold for anything or anyone.

        • True. My mother abstained until marriage, but her unsatisfied urges led her to jump into marriage after 7 months of dating my narcissistic, abusive father.

          Take the car for a test drive.

          • I went the opposite way. One of the reasons I married the loser was that the sex was good. What a mistake that was.

            Hormones switch on. Brain switches off.

            I was so caught up in good sex that I ignored his other faults: “Forgets” his wallet when we go out to dinner. Nice to my grandma but rude to me. Borrows money from me, and when I ask for it back says he’ll credit it towards my half of his apartment rent (BEFORE I moved in with him). Gets a cat but leaves the litter box cleanup to me. Doesn’t know how to fold laundry, much less put it away. Uses every pot in the kitchen and leave them dirty. (“I cooked, it’s only fair that you clean.”) Never cleans the bathroom, particularly the mess he leaves on the outside of the toilet and on the floor. Gets drunk regularly. Chain smokes inside the apartment. “Too busy at work” to help when we move to a new apartment. Tells me I’m too stupid about cars to change the oil myself. His idea of a vacation is to get drunk every night then stay in bed until the next afternoon; reads me the riot act when I try to get him up at 9 am for a tour.

            But the sex was good. Hormones switch on. Brain switches off.

            • Sometimes I think the sex is great BECAUSE on some level we know they are not healthy for us.

          • I did abstinence before marriage and married a full blown psychopath.
            (Not sure it had anything to do with abstinence, however, he would have discarded me BEFORE we got married if we had slept together. Anyhow, I blame my picker)

        • Yes, anyone without goals and dreams who expects you to give yours up instead of supporting you is not good partner material!

          Why did I think it was me demonstrating my love to give up my dreams, when I should have been receiving support as a demonstration of his love?

      • I could not agree more. Abstinence in and of itself is no virture and can lull you into a false sense of security. Instead, self-respect and healthy boundaries are key. No need to rush into sex, but taking it off the table is a can of worms.

        • “Abstinence in and of itself is no virture and can lull you into a false sense of security”


          Ask me how I know…………now departed cheater didn’t pressure me for sex when we were dating & told me after we were engaged that he would have proposed even if we wouldn’t have had sex. I didn’t know then that was a HUGE red flag in a marching band of red flags (he wasn’t religious) I thought he was being kind/loyal/sweet……………….I was grossly mislead.

          Turns out he didn’t need me for sex since he already had a full blown porn & hooker addiction on the down-low that I knew nothing about for almost 17 years

          • I can’t say for sure if abstinence would have saved me from Dancing Dick. He was patient and clever. I broke up with him a few times before I actually married him because he was “stingy”- with time, money, support, kindness. I wish I would have stayed broken up with him! He had his narcissist shit hooks in me…….so as hard as I tried…I couldn’t break free of him.

      • CL,
        Yes to all!!

        Many women in “June Cleaver“ days, did the abstinence before marriage -ending up with sexual freaks.

      • Absolutely. Sex isn’t the issue—character is. I think taking is slow is preferable to abstinence because you need to know if you’re sexually compatible. Taking it off the table is a can of worms. However, if you rush into it too quickly, that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms. The slow, gradual approach allows both parties to earn respect, trust, and see each other’s boundaries. I think the fuckwits take the fast approach because it’s one of the biggest boundaries you can push on someone, whether male or female. Then they figure, “If I pushed this boundary and ‘won,’ what else can I push and ‘win?’ ”

        I won’t be dating for awhile, but when I do, it’ll be the gradual approach. If anyone dislikes it, well then that’s their loss.

        • Yes, narcs blow by your boundaries to establish dominance plus all those bonding hormones create instant intimacy and make it practically impossible to see all those red flags.

          Both cheaters lovebombed and pressured for sex immediately. Once I compromised on that principle, I entered marriages that continued to erode and nearly erase my self-respect.

          Going slow sounds reasonable, but few actually go slow when they’re young and even just a year can feel like a lifetime.

        • Newtochumpdom,

          I, too, can’t even think about dating!! I need to make sure my “head” is firmly attached to my shoulders, clean of Narc BS first!

          My philosophy now is they would have to pass a CIA, FBI, DOJ background check. God himself would have to hand deliver him to my doorstep!!! Then maybe, just maybe, would consider opening my door!

      • I shit you not, my mom said this…

        “Don’t save yourself for marriage, don’t marry the first person you sleep with, and don’t marry someone who doesn’t satisfy you sexually. If the sex is bad, the marriage will suffer.”

        • She passed that along to Robert Downey juniors character in ally Mcbeal. He said soemthing like that to ally.

        • Sfrgrl,
          Your mom was a smart woman.

          When my daughter’s became teenagers, My late husband and I talked and decided I should talk to each of them, when the time came and tell them, “if you think you will become sexually active, come to me , get birth control. Sex can be beautiful, but with it comes responsibility. My Advice as they grew into young women, Just because you have a uterus, doesn’t mean you have to have children, wait, make sure you are more than ready, because once you have children, it’s not just about you any more!!
          I didn’t in any way encourage them to become sexually active, but wasn’t of the mind set like my mom was, save yourself for marriage/my mom did that and ended up with an alcoholic abusive husband. I knew that mind set had long ago changed .

          With my son, I started telling him at a young age, treat every girl/woman, just like you would want someone to treat me or your sisters-with respect! My late husband pulled him aside at 16 and gave him the “no glove, no love” talk.

          I thank god, when I remarried after being widowed at 40, that I deliberately made sure I didn’t have children with Stbx Narc freak!!

        • I’m with all of the above comments, especially with srfrgrl’s mom!!!!
          I gave it up wayyyyy too quickly in my youth and with exh2 trying to bond form a relationship with sex.
          I wouldn’t stay abstinent until marriage this time around, but I wouldn’t jump in sexually right quick either.
          If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t be so quick to get involved sexually. Ever.

      • I agree that it can be good to ensure sexual compatibility before marriage and that at least some kind of sexual contact is really informative about a person.

        I am a huge proponent of each person getting to choose for his/her own body whether and when and how to share sex. I think if a person wants to abstain until marriage, that’s as reasonable a choice as any. It wouldn’t be mine, and that’s ok too. I do think, though, that it is important to be able to communicate openly and clearly about sex whether or not genital-to-genital contact is part of the relationship. Some people are really generous lovers until they get married. Just having sex doesn’t tell you all you need to know.

        For me, there’s another angle (as usual). One the many things I wish I could teach my former self is to explore enough alone sexually that I would never have to feel dependent sexually on having someone else around. If you don’t perceive that you need anyone else to fulfill that longing, you gain a huge amount of power over your own life.

        That doesn’t by any means imply that I don’t thoroughly love beautiful sex with another person. In fact, I think it’s one of the best things there is in life. I just think I would have been much more discriminating — and therefore chosen partners better in general — if I had been more focused on analyzing the actual relationship than I was on feeling swept up by the romance of attraction.

      • Not always. The idiot my daughter dated for 4 months (he majorly pursued her) told her it was time to see if they were compatible for marriage. She told him no and he dumped her. Went after her friend from church and was secretly engaged 2 weeks later but waited a month to announce it. They were married 3 months later. She was spending the night at his house within 2 weeks. We only know this because he built a house 5 streets down from us and lives there now with the wife and ex friend… My daughter dodged a huge bullet. There were red flags but she didn’t share them until after.

        I didn’t see them as I was right in the midst of my mess with my great husband of 33 years. Just had to share that. I warned the girl when she called me one day. He told her that he never dated my daughter. He was a skilled liar. She was needy with two little kids and an ex who left her for another woman two years before. She also made more money than my daughter. He wanted a wife when he got in his new house!

        Thank God it wasn’t my daughter. We found out later he was dating my daughter and two others at the same time! May they live now in happy wedded bliss!!… lol

      • Hmmm . . . Tracy, your anti-abstinence answer gives me pause. I have received somewhat negative responses in the past from this site to my other religious / spiritual / moral comments, too. It makes me re-evaluate where you’re coming from and in what spirit.

        • Queen Mother, I don’t think that abstinence before marriage is a bad thing. I think it is beautiful commitment and a leap of faith for sure.

          The problem with all of us here on this site is that our ex-partners, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends had ZERO character, cheated on us thereby driving us to this site for answers to the complete madness we have suffered. What they do is lie, scheme and manipulate as narcissists. It is a perfect game and trap then for a Narc to say he/she “wants” to save himself/herself for marriage, give the appearance of being a religious person but cheat left and right on us unknowing chumps.

          I don’t believe a Narc can be abstinent at all. No way. When you think about it, a Narc cannot be a Christian now can they? They are all about getting ALL the kibles they can without caring one whit about you or anyone else. We are appliances to be used at their whim and that goes against the principles of Christianity completely.

          • Hope49,

            I dated a man in 2016 who claimed to be a “Christian”. His true character seeped out over a few months. He shared that he had cheated on his first wife during her first pregnancy;he was swept up in a sting operation with prostitutes and arrested. She stayed with him and they had a second child. He eventually left her for another woman he met while they were in group Christian counseling. That marriage imploded after twelve years and he claimed that he hadn’t had sex in three years when I met him.

            Guess who was getting blow jobs from a poor woman in his church in exchange for driving her around ? She doesn’t own a car and she divulged her childhood sexual abuse to me five minutes after I met her at a holiday gathering. A truly reprehensible person to do that to another !

            So much for being a Christian…Actions over words

            ps The sex sucked and I insisted he use a condom. I suspect he watches a ton of porn and he needs Viagra

            • I need to add that I met him in real life and a couple of months into dating he announced to me he was posting his profile on “Christian Mingle” I guess I wasn’t doing the “pick me dance” in my tap dance shoes hard or fast enough. I took a gander at his profile-one lie after another.

              Next !

          • Hope49,
            Your question about can narcs be Christian’s? I know we aren’t supposed to judge, but somehow the evil mind of a narc predator and ability to be a Christian / I think they love to put up the facade of being a Christian in hopes that if people see narc in church, narc with a bible, the illusion of Christian, I’m a decent person is put out there for his flying monkeys and the Switzerland friends. At the end of the day, you can wrap up shit in beautiful paper with a bow and it is still shit and it stinks!

            • As any cop will tell you when interviewing a suspect, when they say the reason they wouldn’t do the crime they are being accused of, “because I’m Christian,” is a red flag and most likely, they committed the crime. They minimize the crime, or reflect the question back. For example to the question, “Did you take the money?” The person answered, “Why would I do that? I’m a Christian, I wouldn’t do that.” They don’t say what the majority of trustworthy and honest people would say, “I would never steal something that didn’t belong to me. It’s wrong and I just wouldn’t steal.” Someone who is truly Christian, and not using it as a shield to mask their true self, can still commit a crime, but it’s easy to see the guilt and remorse, and they usually want to ask the person they’ve harmed for forgiveness.

              I forgot that very important lesson in my personal life, but no more. When I date someone, I will review their words with an eye on why they would or wouldn’t have done something. Fucktard used to say that he would never cheat because he has problems handing one woman, why would he want another? I accepted this instead of recognizing the lie and asking, “Why do you want another?” Had he not been cheating he would have recognized the hurt and damage to our marriage cheating would have caused and said as much.

              • Annie get your guns,
                You are so right, the ability to have guilt and remorse and truly asking for forgiveness to the person they’ve harmed, really reflects a persons character, whether Christian or not.
                IMHO, so many predator’s hide behind the Bible or their Christianity, a wolf in sheeps clothing, creating the illusion they have a moral compass and use that excuse to validate to themselves and their despicable character!

                Never judge a book by its cover, always comes to mind! Actions speak louder than words!

                My narc Stbx, always used “other people do this or that, to justify the shit he spewed. I frequently asked him, “why is it so important to you to use other people and their views, can’t you have a viewpoint on your own?”.

                During all the years of narc abuse, he would frequently say in defense of his actions , “ I’ve never been to jail-prison, I don’t drink, I don’t bother anyone , etc”! The fact that a person who had never been to prison , didn’t drink, and had a job, was the standard he used to reflect character, used to blow my mind!! I used to tell him, “Ted Bundy was charismatic and well liked by his peers, co-workers “, a man can beat the shit out of his wife and come home with an expensive piece of jewelry as an I’m sorry gesture “, does that make him a good guy” !

                The mind of a narc sociopath is a twisted, dark place!

        • Well, Christianity or any other religion doesn’t have a monopoly on morality, good or bad. Being a better Christian or marrying a more religious person would not have made you less likely to be cheated upon. In a way, it seems like you’re still in some way framing all of this as your own fault for not being moral enough. Which is likely why Tracy objects – you blaming yourself for not being abstinent, when in actual fact, even people who tried this have been cheated on, because it didn’t protect against a partner of bad character.

        • My STBX is my one and only. I am not that to him. He dated before he met me and seemed ok to take it slow. But, what I didn’t realize was that it gave him the green light in his mind to pursue porn in copious amounts while we were dating and then also
          after we got married. He then graduated to a mistress much younger than him and we are divorcing but in the meantime, his porn use affected our marriage long before the mistsss.

      • Absolutely no way do I believe that anyone should wait until marriage before engaging in a sexual relationship with one’s partner. Hell, I even believe in “casual” sex before marriage, so long as it is consensual and respectful. I regret my sexual exploration pre-marriage not at all. In fact, I wish I had engaged in more of it!

        What I generally regret is allowing the person I was to be so easily put aside, in order to meet the expectations of being “the good wife”. I, and so many other chumps, put our needs exactly last. We allow ourselves to lose our fundamental selves in order to “please” our mates.

        I thought I was supposed to put everyone else’s desires before my own. Hell, I was trained to do so. When it all came crashing down, I no longer knew who I truly was. What did I believe? What did I envision my life to be? Who the hell was I?

        Obviously, these questions came long after the initial shock and devastation of betrayal. My questions came significantly after I emerged from the darkness and anger of the early days. Only later, did I begin to want to find the young woman I left by the side of the road in my rush to coupledom, all those years ago.

        So while I generally do not believe in regret, I do regret that I did not respect and honor that young woman and her hopes and dreams. I lost her spirit. Still, she is with me, and is beginning to teach me to be brave, to take chances, and to insist that others honor the decisions about my remaining journey. I don’t know where my next path will lead me, but I know the journey will be mine and that a certain carefree, confident, and spirited young woman will be accompanying every step of the way.

      • I have a slightly different take. Some people bond through sex (and we either clearly know who we are, or sense it on a gut level). For others sex can be separated. Those that experience sex as a deeper connection need to protect themselves.

      • Agree strongly with CL. My divorce support group is great, but when they show the church sponsored videos talking about waiting for sex until remarriage, I laugh.

        I’ve been married 35 years and there is NO way I’d remarry anyone without determining sexual compatibility FIRST.

        Hell, I would not even date them for long, without learning about their sex drive, preferences, and attentiveness to MY needs. I’m in my 50’s and not “waiting” anymore. But that is me at my age, maybe not generally applicable. But it’s a huge factor for me.

        • I was raised Catholic, as was my STBXW. Neither of us were really experienced sexually. We were sexually active before we married because we felt we were in love. Everything was fine until it wasn’t. My STBXW’s view on the world changed in so many ways, or so it seemed. Religion, not important, marriage vows, not important, future we had planned together, not important. I think our sexuality is meant to be a gift to each other. Obviously not everyone values that the same way. That is where you have a problem.

        • D1F&K, I absolutely agree! I can’t imagine marrying again (I’m almost 56) but if I did, you can bet I would make sure I knew all about “their sex drive, preferences, and attentiveness to MY needs.” Especially the attentiveness part. That was sadly lacking in my marriage. Never again.

    • Never live with anyone outside of marriage. And never marry unless the man is of the highest character.

      • I will never live with anyone inside marriage again! And that is something of which I am 100% certain!

  • “but mostly I geared towards misfits and the ones who picked me”

    Well put. I think a lot of us were excited we were picked…. forgetting our power that it is US who selects.

    I keep this in mind now. I’m not dating, probably never, yet I remind myself that I do the choosing, and to let go of the (blinding) excitement of their picking us– their next target.

    • I did not forget I could choose. I was made to believe I was so impossible, conflictive, difficult and in general, unlovable, that nobody will want me. So it was not about forgetting, it was that in the whole world he was the only one who seemed to be interested on me. Even now things look like that: I’ve been 8 months out and nobody has even glanced in my direction. And he was better than cheater dad, so it seemed safe enough.

      • Don’t worry about anyone “glancing in your direction.” Work on loving yourself. Focus on building a wonderful life. Focus on making yourself happy and healthy. Focus on finding things to contribute to your community. When you are on the right path and working on your own life, you will find others like you on the same road.

        • I dont think I would have listened to myself. My best friend told me that he said that he really wanted a “slut”. I didnt believe it but it was the truth. He has one now and is happy. Everyone that I was attracted to didnt seem to reciprocate so I was blinded by someone (that I was attracted to) finally saying they loved me. I was willing to do anything to make it last. I knew that he wasnt perfect but I didnt think he was as bad as he was. I knew he lied but I didnt think he’d lie to me… I dont think it had anything to do with sex but that he lacked character. Even now, 4 yrs out, I dont see anyone glancing my way. Since Im 54, I dont really expect it but it would be nice. Im doing just fine on my own raising my 11 yr old but its sometimes lonely. I think Ive rebuilt my life but I dont see anyone even close to being on the same road as me in this small town

          • Loved and Lost,
            I hear ya. I’m your age with kids the age of your kids. I live in a large metropolitan area–but like you, I don’t see anyone even close to being on the same road as me.

            • ya people ask me sometimes if I’ve dated. Like I have a choice. Maybe I would if someone asked but I’m not desperate either. Im not chasing it. I did try “our Time” matching website but I didnt connect with anyone. Those in my area were either older & looking for a nursemaid or someone younger, retired & $ to travel. I am a relatively busy teacher, runner and 1/2 time custodial Mom. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family & friends who are in the same boat as me but they have families too so our free time doesnt always coincide. All in all its fine – I like my life & I am grateful for it. I dont really want another marriage but Id like s/o to share a romance with. Given some of the stories here, I feel it would be greedy to ask for more than what I have been so lucky to have.

      • I was made to believe I was so impossible, conflictive, difficult and in general, unlovable, that nobody will want me

        This was what 20 years with cheater ex had reduced me to…………….Only add in old and unattractive-
        and I’m only in my forties!

    • What’s interesting is that I was never ‘picked’ by the cheater’s. I moved towards THEM, even when though I’ve often had my choice in men. Yup…..!!

  • ….and soooo many more.

    Hoping that my kids learn from my mistakes rather than making all of the same ones for themselves. Except that I know the best teacher is your own stupid choices, and they’ll definitely make some of their own. Still, I’m glad they have my marriage to their dad as a reminder of how important it is to 1) choose a spouse carefully, and 2) slap away all the shit sandwiches they’re offered.

    • THIS-
      Hoping that my kids learn from my mistakes rather than making all of the same ones for themselves. Except that I know the best teacher is your own stupid choices, and they’ll definitely make some of their own. Still, I’m glad they have my marriage to their dad as a reminder of how important it is to 1) choose a spouse carefully, and 2) slap away all the shit sandwiches they’re offered

      My young son has already told me that he doesn’t want to be married. He said if he wanted kids, he could adopt. Other than that, he will have a dog.

  • Vulcan, it’s not worth it to wait for some guy to “come around” to loving you. The right one will recognize what he has with you.

  • Listen to you gut. It is never wrong. Let it guide you to adventure or out of potential hell.

    • This, ANC. Yes!

      I was spackling against my own gut long before I walked down the aisle. I really do think our guts know — if we’ll just listen to them.

      • Yes to this. I would have told myself to really listen and believe what XH said and not ignore comments that I now realize we’re telling me he wouldn’t be faithful. I was a master spackler and ignored my gut feelings. But they often showed up in my dreams and I ignored those dreams too. I would tell myself now to stop and really listen, observe and think before I leap.

      • When I was dating a really sucky guy, my daughter and I would go out at night to wish upon a star. It was her thing and an important moment for us. I would always wish to marry the really sucky guy. A voice would always come back to me: “Are you sure?” Within a few weeks, he proved himself to be really horrible, and I dumped him with prejudice. But I remember that voice asking if I was sure, because it was so unusual compared to the normal wishing on a star moments.

      • I can remember coming down from the choir loft and walking along the back of the church just before that “walk down the aisle”. I remember thinking…what if this isn’t the right thing? We had been dating for almost 6 years at that point. I told myself I was just nervous and it was normal as this was a big commitment.

        I would tell my younger self to listen more closely to those gut feelings and definitely give them more credibility.

  • My kids are in college so I actually think about this a lot as I advise them.

    Date different people and don’t try to get on with the rest of your life in such a big hurry. Get to know how you like different personalities and different people. I was so eager to start the life and family I had missed that I ignored red flags from the get go.

    If you have experienced physical or emotional or sexual trauma, get help whether you think you need it or not. The past has a way of punching you in the face 30 years down the road. There’s no weakness in getting help. Dealing with it alone is not a sign of strength – dealing with it completely and honestly is.

    Be yourself always. Don’t try to be someone you think you need to be. Others care about you less than you think, they’re as self obsessed as you. Since you have to live with yourself and your decisions, always be true to who you are. Practicing mindfulness will help with this.

    Always listen to your gut. It will never let you down. If something seems off, if you leave an interaction with someone feeling a little off kilter, if actions and words don’t match up – this is a good time to practice the mindfulness and listen to your body.

    If you fall for someone who you see lying to others yet treats you like a dream, please be aware that you are not special. He or she will lie to you too. This is really hard to accept as true, and it may take years, but you will be lied to as well.

    When someone doesn’t respect his family but pretends to, this is a huge red flag. You will be made to feel that you’re the only one he/she respects but it probably isn’t true.

    Don’t pose nude.

    • Great stuff all, @hollowbunny. But are you sure about the last one? Seems a little drastic, unless the posing was done with promises of confidentiality that were violated. I think Grudgy and Judgy would agree.

      • I guess the last one depends on how much do you care about those things. I wrote many letters to cheater and sometimes I care more about them being read by somebody else than if the whole internet saw the photos he took of me many years ago. I am a sexual being. I loved that man. If he published the photos or letters, the shame is his to bear, and the good people (who not include my FOO) will know it and recognize it. However, I work in an area not particularly conservative, so if they were to find my photos it wouldn’t matter, and if it did, I don’t want to work there.

      • The problem with posing nude is not Grudgy and Judgy. If you are posing for actual art classes, or some type of professional fashion/beauty/advertising professionals, you know — up front — that other people will see the pictures/portraits of you nude. Personal pictures? NO GUARANTY. It could even be accidental exposure (someone comes across the pictures that was not the intended viewer. Sexual pictures? Seriously — what is the easiest way to hurt you and embarrass you when something goes wrong? There they are. I personally knew a mother of 3 girls who was not exactly a beauty queen anyway, but allowed her “lover” to take nude sexual shots of her. He told her “so I can see you when we’re not together,” and “to remember when we are old.” Guess what? On the internet, porn sites, and eventually copies of the pictures got back to her 3 teenage girls. She was humiliated. She lost any authority she had had telling her girls what to do and what not to do. She asked for advice prior to posing — and then did it anyway. She thought it would “spice things up”. It really did. Like a whole bottle of tabasco sauce in the soup will spice it up. If the poser and picture taker are underage, they can be convicted of sex crimes and have a permanent record.
        Not a good idea. Ever.
        When you are in love and promises are made of confidentiality — you may be sincere. We all have learned the hard way that any promises made by our dysfunctional ex’s were never sincere, and were always self serving.

        • Portia I absolutely agree, posing nude for anybody is just plain stupid. Artist being the exception. What is with people nowadays? I it’s not enough to have wonderful sex you have to document it? Where will the pics be kept on your phone on his ? It just a disaster waiting to happen. If he or she needs a photo to remind them of the great sex they had it a huge red flag !

          • I found video of my ex jerking off that he sent his schmoopie on his old phone. (eyeroll)

            Gotta say it’s been pretty tempting to do something with it over the past few years, but I haven’t.

            If you just don’t take the photo or the video in the first place, no one can steal it or find it and then use it against you.

            • The whole point of taking selfie nudes in relationships is to take that risk. Life, and especially romantic relationships are full of risk. We can’t change this. It just so happens that they sucked as partner’s. Do we never go in a car because many more people die in road accidents than they ever did on a plane? No. Take the risk, you can’t avoid life, but it can be wise to be more cautions about when and how and who you take that risk with…

              • I don’t need electronics for love and sex! Flesh and blood … all I need. Anyone who tries to incorporate electronics into our love life- gets the boot.

            • Dancing Dick plastered his half limp dick…..all over the internet. I recognized it…. and my bathroom! He has dick pics floating around all over the web! Disgusting pig of a man!

              • Leaving the crap behind,
                I found a pic of Stbx narc freak standing in front of bathroom mirror after taking one of his on-line purchased blue pills, with a shit eating smile plastered all over his face!
                I’m sure he has plastered that shit all over the internet.
                When I saw the pic on his phone, I looked at him and said” you are one twisted, fucking freak! Who does that shit! Only a man who has no confidence or self respect takes a picture of himself with erection after taking a blue pill purchased on line from someone’s garage in India or China “!
                Stbx looked at me and said, “you just can’t ever forgive or let it go, that was a blunder I made”!


        • No posing nude. Or topless. In an internet age, it can always come back to haunt you. As a teacher, I even worried about photoshopping when I was a bit younger. Now, not so much. But I always figured I could count on the truth if I never cross the nude posing line.

          • The last one luckily doesn’t come from experience. Ever since my kids were 11 or so, when I would leave the house, Id say “If I get hit by a truck, erase my browser history, always use condoms and never pose nude.” It was the hollowbunny I love you goodbye.

            Im glad to say that using condoms has really stuck with them, and they always thank me for talking to them about uncomfortable things. Im an artist, so Ive been around my share of posing nude, btw, back in the day when grudgy and judgy still faced the sun, so to speak.

            So ‘don’t pose nude’ has always been my closer – it does have implications for women today though, much more than when I was younger and it meant actually posing for photos for money and your male relatives happening upon you in your glory in a magazine.

      • Personally I think that last is good advice. I am not a prude, but I would think that posing nude could lead to all kinds of potential for someone to do you harm with those photos later on down the road. I supposed some people really couldn’t be harmed by them, but many people have been harmed by such things in the past. It’s just another opportunity for someone to betray your trust and violate your privacy.

        • I have to agree with no nude posing. I learned this lesson when I was in middle school, long before the days of the internet. A teenage couple in my neighborhood broke up and he retaliated by making up flyers with explicit photos of her, along with her name, phone number and a list of “services” she performed. He posted these on telephone poles all over the neighborhood.
          I don’t think I had even kissed a boy yet at that point, but I knew that day that posing nude would never be in my future.

    • hollowbunny’s statement: “If you fall for someone who you see lying to others yet treats you like a dream, please be aware that you are not special. He or she will lie to you too. This is really hard to accept as true, and it may take years, but you will be lied to as well.”

      THIS ^^^ times infinity!

      I’ve watched my cheater effortlessly lie to other people for years. I was a complete fool to have thought I was not a recipient/victim of his deception. His innoculous white lies and his life shattering huge ones are doled out in the exact same manner (completely devoid of remorse and always justifiable, at least in his demented mind).

      His lack of integrity and ability to manipulate others for self gain was apparent from the onset. As the years progressed, he basked in the glory of using my squeaky clean goody-goody reputation as an elementary school teacher to cover his sleazy con artist tracks (until he found a new cast member for our lives who he feels elevates his status better being that she’s decades younger and “hot” enough to get him more “likes” on Facebook from fellow superficial narcs). I should have exited stage left early on rather than becoming a lead character in his award winning impression management performance piece only to be ultimately written out of the script abruptly after season 25.

      • Still I Rise,

        My cheater was also an expert liar (to all) in addition to an explosive temper in the early days. I should have known that at some point that would be directed toward me.

        In some ways he has mellowed, but in other ways he has gotten worse as we’ve gotten older. I think as our business got more successful, the power of his position just fueled the sense of entitlement and arrogance. Deep down he knows he would not have been nearly as successful without me – but will never admit it. He used me for my integrity and business intelligence, as well as the wife/mom appliance for 20 years. He is such a loser and I will never make that mistake again.

        • I wish that I had realized that if my boyfriend had lied to and manipulated people (partners) years ago but still appeared like Mr. Good Guy to virtually everyone, had been chumped by his wife, and had gone through many years of weekly psychotherapy that his spots might NOT have changed for the better (as in a leopard never changes its stripes).

      • You just document my marriage as well, and. Was also a squeaky clean teacher too, stay strong and powerful

    • Some good advice about posing nude is to never ever show your head, just your body. Then if they are ever leaked, you can say “not me”.

  • Tracy,
    You know that photo of you in the backyard in that white bikini dancing with your 3 year old niece…. Enjoy that. Quit hating your body. Quit thinking you have big thighs. Look at those curves!!! Trust me…in the future there are women who get butt implants….
    I know…right?!
    Oh….and you have found your calling. You are and will become an amazing hairstylist. Don’t give up your dream. Not for anyone.
    Seek to provide for yourself. There is no Prince charming….and beware for any that come riding along…it’s not a noble’s a horses ass they are riding on….
    Even if it’s disguised as a BMW.
    Walk away…
    Oh wait…then you wouldn’t have your beautiful daughter.

    Younger Tracy….you can’t go back and warn yourself.
    All I can say is buckle up sweetie…it’s gonna be one hell of a ride. And in the end…the mother fucker gets what he deserves and so do you!!! I love you. Stay strong. You’re a BADASS!!!

    • I haven’t seen that photo. Where is it?!

      btw, in case you’re wondering if this is creepy, it isn’t. 🙂 I’m a lady Chump who just wants to celebrate CL’s beauty — inner and outer! 😀

      • The poster’s name is Tracy and she’s referring to herself, not CL Tracy.

  • Stop being so damn insecure!! You are smart, funny and worthy!! Just because a man likes you, it does not make you better.

    • Slightly off topic here.

      Today is Australia Day – a public holiday celebrating the first English landing in OZ.
      Lots of BBQ’s and free flowing alcohol.
      I’m sitting under my patio having a ciggy, listening to the drunk neighbour verbally abusing / arguing with his female partner and he is well and truly putting her down, highlighting her faults and generally make her night a misery.

      WTF – this guy needs a swift kick in the gonads. He should be grateful that she chose to spend her time with him instead of someone else.
      It is sad that these types of people’s “picker” is so way out of whack. It would save an awful lot of heartache if we recognized and stood up for our boundaries and values a lot earlier on.

      • Send her a copy of LACGAL anonymously… Put a post-it on the front cover say it covers boundaries as well as cheating…

        • I once shopped in a pet store run by an older couple. The man was so polite to his customers but constantly berated his sweet, gentle wife as she did her best serving customers. I don’t mean he was a little sharp it was total verbal abuse. He called her slow, fat and stupid etc and didn’t even try to lower his voice as he insulted her.

          The first time it happened I left the shop upset and in shock but hoped was a “one off” and that maybe they’d had a bad row (course still no excuse). The next time I went into the shop he was exactly the same. She was trying to advise me on suitable products when he interrupted telling her how useless she was. I couldn’t take it a second longer, and exploded into a complete rant about why he was the nastiest, most unpleasant, rude and obnoxious man I had ever met, and that it was a miracle his lovely wife was still with him. As I turned to leave all the other customers applauded and cheered. It was quite funny. I never went back to the shop again but noticed shortly after it was up for sale. I hope she found the courage to leave him. Bless her heart.

          • GOOD FOR YOU! I once was in a similar situation and I said to the abuser “Excuse me, grownups are talking, wait your turn.” Got a few laughs. Still, yours is much better, and faced with it again, I would copy you. Way to stand up!

  • Coming from a dysfunctional family (raging alcoholic father, codependent enabler mother; and violent older siblings) I would tell my young self to find a great mental health counselor before jumping into any relationship.

    I spent my whole childhood hiding from the chaos. Isolated. I had zero close friends because there was no way I could let any peers see the shitstorm of my family life.

    But ultimately, I’m a great mom, with two amazing and well adjusted, strong, and happy children. It could have been worse. So I choose to be grateful.

    Is this Tuesday?

    • Indy I can so relate to hiding from the chaos of an unhappy childhood, and keeping friends at a distance for fear of them seeing the truth behind the facade of a middle class, successful home. I escaped at 16 years old ill-prepared for the real world but like you a survivor. Great that you broke the cycle and went on to have happy, well adjusted children.

      Happy Tuesday/Friday ????

  • I’m with Tracy. As much as my ordeal has ground me into the dust at times, I’m not I would have changed very much. I followed the example my own parents set for me, waited a good long time (married at 36), did a lot of things on my ever-evolving bucket list, and dated a lot of women along the way. I thought I’d learned enough about myself and others that the likelihood of falling into the trap of a toxic relationship would be pretty low.

    We all know how that turned out — but even so, an extraordinarily important lesson learned better late than never. I also proved to myself that I CAN go “all in” on a relationship, take the risk of making myself vulnerable to another, and still not compromise on what I know to be good and true and honest.

    If I was to re-do anything, it would be, in matters of the heart, to put less emphasis on working things out in my mind analytically, and pay more attention to the gut level reactions that were indicating trouble. But that too is part of growing, especially I think for men.

    • Im pretty much with you UX…as much as I rail against this experience (and how I responded to it) here, in reality, it was my journey for so many reasons and to wish it away would wipe my children off the face of the earth and I simply cannot do that.

      I wasnt a bad gal when I was young, but I had shallowness and selfishness common in youth and my hardships burned off the dross of my personality in the crucible of hardship and left behind a purer, kinder, deeper person.

      Perhaps the change I might have made is to have considered myself more in the big picture when the cheating and abuse were the worst…at the time I thought ONLY of kids, marriage intactness, & his reactions to things, I put my concerns so low that they didnt exist…that was a mistake.

      Even though I never pulled the trigger on my marriage with nowdeadcheater, I had made plans and saved money for when a split was imperative…I was ready to take my daughter to a safe place and start over. Again as much as I deride myself / wished that things had been different, it was probs best for my kids that we were all together when their father died. I probs did the best anyone could have done in the circumstances I lived.

    • Agree to this thinking UX.

      My gut told me the truth long ago.
      I tried to analyze the situation. I tried to work harder and provide more. I did the male-brain thing.

      My gut told the truth but I kept on dancing…

  • Also, NMSB, you DO NOT have to work yourself to the bone trying to “earn” love, it either is or is not love. PERIOD!

      • Thank you for this. I just read it and it’s brilliant! (Sometimes, though, I wish people would write PG versions I could share with those who need the message but won’t read or share something they consider vulgar.)

        • Yep – Mark Manson doesn’t pull any punches. If you can get past his “p’s and q’s”, his message is very clear.
          He has an interesting take on life,with very strong boundaries and his sense of self worth, which sometimes comes across as arrogant and self serving, yet he knows what he wants in a relationship and doesn’t settle for anything less.

          It’s a fine balance that can be learned and applied to (chump) life.

  • I may be weird but when I was young I knew EXACTLY what I wanted so I studied hard to make that happen. I ended up working in Switzerland at 21 and loved it. Had a lovely boyfriend who was a bit staid but otherwise nice. Then I met the Twat and it was so nice to speak English for a change and to be with someone who I thought was fun. Yes he was – to begin with – but many year later I realized he was mentally deranged. I would say to a younger person (man or woman) to live on your own before setting up home with someone (I did) and make sure you earn your own money. Probably in retrospect I should NEVER have mixed my finances with the Twat but we were young and it seemed weird to me at the time to do otherwise. In reality (and this probably applies only to me) I would say you don’t need to be married to have kids. Be with a wonderful man – great. He can be the father of your kids and be a wonderful dad – great. You can love him for the man he is but if I had any advice for a younger me it would be don’t get married. EVER. Maybe I’m jaded but I don’t need a man financially or otherwise and can love a man for who he is without needing to be married to him. Wish someone had told me that when I was young.

    • Attie – I’m with you. I always knew what I wanted and went straight for it. Education beyond high school (not very common in my culture), be financially stable before settling down, travel the world, date and party (responsibly!), etc. I really wouldn’t change one thing because out of my experience and surviving the exh’s cheating, came my lovely daughters.

      One thing though that I would tell my younger adult self is to pay more attention to people’s words, i.e., my exh’s. One comment that he always made, in variations of different conversations (throughout our 20 yr marriage) was that he always thought he would be a bachelor, party ‘till the sun came up”, drink like a fish, etc., and live in a bachelor pad in the city center/downtown. After the nightmare I survived I realized that he probably never wanted marriage, children, a family life.

      So guess what he did as soon as I kicked him out??? Yes, yes, yes, and yes! The apartment, the partying, drinking, and some I won’t wven get into. Until (a whole two years after our divorce) he found his truw wuv (not the AP I caught him with). Since then, he has remarried and no, no, no, and no. Doesn’t have his bachelor pad, doesn’t drink or party and worse yet, can’t even talk to his children on the phone without his new wife stuck next to him like a piece of gum under his shoe. The guy can’t even breathe without asking for permission.

      So in retrospect, suffice it to say to believe them when they say shit like that because in the end, they might already be doing it.

    • In a lot of places, not marrying solves nothing. In my neighbouring province, you are common-law after 2 years of cohabitation, or 1 year + baby, with most of the same rights (alimony, property, assets, pensions, inheritance) as a couple who legally tied the knot. And emotionally, to those who DO bond, not being married makes no difference, over time.

      I think it’s more useful that every adult be capable of supporting themselves and, if necessary, their kids. Never stay out of the job market so long or so completely that it will be very hard to get back in. Even if it’s part-time or volunteering, keep a toe in; you truly never know when you’ll need it. Never let your partner be the only one managing the money. Never agree to any level of debt that makes you uncomfortable. Never follow your spouse’s job around, if there aren’t also opportunities for you. We all need ‘fuck you money’, or to at least feel we have the right to walk away, and the ability to do so.

  • If I didn’t have kids, I’d take a do over in a heartbeat. I’d date more and stay in college.
    But, I do have kids and would NOT do anything that might prevent them from being in my world.
    I hope I’m a better person for what I’ve been through in my life. Don’t know who said it but, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” fits nicely into this life.

    Have a great 2018 CN !!!!

    • LuckyChump, I was thinking the same — I love my kids and wouldn’t want to prevent them from being in my world. They are who they are as a result of the choices I made to be with their father when I was young and naive. But then I thought hmmmm, what if instead I had kids with a man who wasn’t a disordered predator? A man who knew how to love me and our kids normally instead of as sources of narcissistic supply? That could be a pretty sweet for my kids as well as for myself! I wouldn’t wish my kids away, but if I had it to do over, I would definitely give them an upgrade in their genetic program and family functionality.

      • I have toddlers with my new husband (who is amazing in every way). Seeing how different they are as babies, compared to how my older kids were as babies (when I was married to an abuser/struggling single mom in college). It’s especially striking in pictures: the older three look wary, there aren’t very many pictures of them smiling as babies. The two babies we have now are giggly all the time. It hurts to see how different it could have been.

    • This was the absolute worst year of my life. That said. I wouldn’t change a fuckin thing! I love my 11 year old daughter and going through hell was worth her. She is very emotionally mature , the exact opposite of her emotionally retarded mother

  • Listen to your gut. Thinking he’s proclaiming he is in love with you WAY too soon? You’re right. Run. Thinking something’s off because he wants to spend the majority of his time alone, including your honeymoon? You’re right. Get out of there. So what if you just married him. Get it annulled. He engages in road rage with total strangers just because they passed him? Save yourself, Sweetie!!! He never buys you gifts? It won’t get better. Ever. So leave him now.

    I had these warning thoughts, along with many, many others. I tuned them out because I was in love. I so wish I had listened to my inner voice then. I am listening now!

  • To my young self,
    You are so worth it, know it, in your mind and heart. Do not have a man validate your worth.
    Always listen to what comes after the but…
    “You’re so beautiful BUT maybe you want to fix that crooked tooth.
    “You’re thin BUT you still have tone up and go to a gym.
    This is a person that is mindfucking you RUN.
    Love bombing is not normal..period ..end of story.
    Normal people dont push boundries.
    Always listen to your gut, never ignore red flags.
    You are stronger then you know, a true badass , dont dim your light for anyone to shine brighter because they dont shine on their own.
    Dont be a fixer.

    • Absolutely! But I think normal people do sometimes push boundaries, accidentally, or cluelessly, or immaturely…. What’s different is what happens when we affirm the boundary they’ve pushed. Normal people will feel bad about having over-stepped. They will leap back to the ‘right’ side of the boundary, and they will be far more careful about that boundary in future.

      What they won’t do is ignore, pressure, gaslight, manipulate, rage, flatter, sulk, guilt, sad-sausage or any of the other mind-fuckery, in order to get around your boundary. And they won’t look respectful, then come back to push that same boundary again and again.

      Wish I’d had this clear in my head….

  • If I could go back in time: I was a young woman so deeply in love with a man who first promised he loved me and treated me in the most loving, understanding way and I fell for it because he never let me down. He wasn’t a flashy lover. He was sincere. No more than a couple of months after hinting at an engagement, he casually cut me to pieces over the ways he deemed I failed as a woman and girlfriend and he left, saying he wanted to be free. The next time I saw him, he met with me to talk, which turned out to be an ultimatum over a guy I was seeing. I saw red and chose the other guy! If I could go back in time I’d consider that my first exercise in being MIGHTY, not the humiliating sign of a woman who can’t get man. Ultimately, it was good practise 🙂

  • I think part of the irony of this question is, to get to an okay emotional place, you have to reconcile and made peace with the choices you’ve made (no more self-blame). For me, it was the very act of evaluating that made me realize the stupid choices I made are partly what made me who I am. In other words, I stopped beating myself up for being imperfect, and realized I made a choice to let those seemingly bad decisions make me a better person – I walked away with a lesson.

    I definitely went through a long period after d-day wishing I’d never met fuckwit, or wondering why I didn’t see the initial red flags, but without those things, I wouldn’t have the knowledge I do now. I guess ultimately this experience made me realize I was not the horrible person my STBX claimed I was, and I do not need to be perfect to realize I am worthy of love and respect. I guess the lesson I’ve learned through all of this, and what I wish my younger self knew is … don’t put all your eggs in one basket, but also let go of worrying about every egg, sometimes things break. I could do everything right, and still end up with broken eggs, because there are some things you just can’t control. Stop trying to be responsible for things that belong to other people.

  • I wouldn’t change a thing, except that I wouldn’t ever have sex with anyone, EVER.

  • “You’ll never find what you are looking for just because you’ve got/had a man in your life…that only serves to impede you from examining your own inner issues and developing your own unique strengths. Take the time to figure out what was driving YOU into complicated unhealthy relationships, and start utilizing the power, wisdom and guidance of God instead. You are much better off and happier being uncoupled…and deep down inside you KNOW it. But yes…go ahead and get yourself a puppy.”

  • Hey, you–yeah, you: the guy who is totally transfixed by this beautiful woman and her oddly childlike personality. Yeah, it’s sexy and bewitching and she seems to be crazy about you, but it’s just the idealization phase. And get this: a normal person does not tell your brother the first time they meet that she loves him and that his brother’s semen tastes really good. That’s seriously fucked up and shows a total lack of boundaries. These are called “red flags.” Research Borderline Personality Disorder and run like hell. You will find someone else whom you are just as physically attracted to and who really loves you and will not eventually devalue you and destroy you. Sincerely, your future self.

    • David2016,

      If you can just roll back the date on your computer to January 26, 1998 and then email me your comment above, it’ll be a BIG help. It’s close enough in detail that I’m sure Old Me will assume it’s not a mistake. Old Me really needs that BPD research advice. Maybe add a line about trusting my gut about her really odd father – turns out it’s not just oddness. It’s sexual narcissism and he’s a predator. And her mother isn’t comparatively “normal”. Check her out under Adult Children of Alcoholics (where both parents were alcoholics). And quit being so “nice-guy understanding”. Okay I’ll stop there – but I won’t complain if you also mention investing in Amazon.

      Thanks! This is exciting. I’m really looking forward to popping over into that alternate parallel reality once you send it. Maybe I got into tarpon fishing like I had always wanted to!

  • “You must accept people and things as they are NOT how you WISH they were” !!

    Heeding one phrase would have saved me untold grief.

  • I thought I would have some regrets. Oddly, the one regret I THOUGHT I had is probably my one choice that made the field of play even. In 2011 I took back my cheating ass narc-O-pot-O-mus on the guise of working it out. For 6 years I worked hard at forgiveness, transparency and open communication. I finally got to a place of not forgetting but complete forgiveness. I fully trusted him again. Just when I thought I had nothing to worry about I began seeing signs of his pulling away early 2017. I began investigating and asking all the therapy counseled questions to probe him into dialog. I tried my damndest. I decided to trust the process we went through in therapy. I wrote letters to him, I gave him affirmations, I stroked his ego, I poured into him, I prayed for him and with him, I even confronted him once. All the while he was cheating on me… I did all the right things. I did my part, he just allowed the relationship and the bond to die on his end. In the beginning of D-day I did regret letting him come back home in 2011 just to have him repeat his behavior (but in the most hurtful of ways in discard this time in the highest of escalation); but now, 4 months after….. and after much counseling with my church and my independent therapist, friends and Chump Nation; MY PAST has shown me that I TRIED, I FOUGHT, I DUG IN MY HEELS, I DID NOT GIVE UP. So for that sole fact, I don’t have any regrets because I can say I gave all I had in me. He can’t say that. For that, I feel sorry for him. Still don’t want him. She can have him. I am moving on with a smile on my face, my head held high and my dignity intact.

    • OMG…. I’m two years in and trying to make it work with my husband of 33 years at the time/ now 35. Swears there was no affair. I’ve been trying not to throw it all away.

      3 weeks ago we pick out what we want to build when he’s done with his job in two years. I have no reason to think anything is still continuing. He doesn’t work with her. He’s at the same job everyday. All money is accounted for.

      Sunday night I randomly check the no affair woman’s FB page. She has shared a house that sold. Doesn’t say where and writes nothing.

      Although it’s not the same photo of the one picked…. it’s the exact same style including the garage and guest house on top. Very destinct! I’m thinking what honestly are the chances? Talk me off this cliff…

      • These cheaters are so unoriginal and since they can’t see a viewpoint other than their own, they have to ‘steal’ ideas and imitation empathy like characteristics. Since YOU liked this house, then surely she will too. I really think this is why they take their schmoopies on the same vacations, say the same things and nicknames, and you feel like you have simply been ‘replaced’.

        I would have to wonder if he has some magical timeline he has shared with her on when it will be acceptable to leave you and shack up with her. He’s throwing her bones of when it is. Retirement? This is when he won’t have to face work colleagues and his mask will drop and image will be destroyed?

        You may not be ready for the discard, but when it comes, it comes absolute. Please have your ducks in a row. They will steal every penny and not look back and be fair. They have already rationalized why you are bad and she is good. They have rationalized why they deserve to take it and you deserve nothing. Please take care of yourself and your financial situation!! Secretly see an attorney and do NOT let that cheater know!!

        • Okay. Going to be completely honest here…

          I couldn’t have told my younger self anything different. I was sure We had a great thing until the shit hit the fam starting in Sept. of 2015. He spent 10 months swearing to me no affair after ridiculous circumstantial evidence. He groveled. Cried. Begged. When it looked really bad, I did tell him If I found it to be true- That I would take his ass for everything!

          He continued to put on a great act for 10 months but something wasn’t sitting right with me. One month after our youngest graduated from high school I discovered he was hiding our entire savings. Oh, he had four thousand in there with forty thousand hid. I busted him, took the four thousand in the account and left.

          Took an already promised trip with youngest( without him) and came home after that. He showed me all the money. Said that he was going to leave me but only by himself. I don’t believe it still. He took me on a 6 day Anniversary. Trip and we talked a lot but I still don’t believe him.

          He won’t go back to counseling as promised before I came back and says he’s been honest. She’s pulled all kinds of shit with me on FB. He knows about most of it and has sobbed.

          He doesn’t know about the house thing. Why wouldn’t he just leave now? Why act like he wants this? I know??… I should have left 2 years ago but I didn’t.

          So here I sit waiting… She is still married too. That’s my biggest regret now. Not staying gone 2 years ago so I tried.

          I mean what are honestly just the chances of it being a coincidence?

          • There are no coincidences. Only the illusion of them.

            I realized this when I was going through my hell. I found a lot of “coincidences” and upon further investigation, I came to realized they were nothing but trends. Time and time again…

          • Kibbles is why. Who doesn’t want to have a wife appliance at home and a girlfriend who sends naughty texts?

            There’s no cheese down this hole.
            Stay incognito and document everything and hire a forensic accountant and run. It sounds like you have been marriage police for years? Are you enjoying life?

      • I hope you have a post nup. If you don’t, ask for one and judge him by his response to that. Put your ducks in a row be self protective. Listen to your gut. It’s sucks but you won’t regret protecting yourself. I didn’t do it and it was my biggest regret..

        • Omg still here, please listen to your gut. He is telling you who he is—please listen. I tried to reconcile ( for 4 years) . I didn’t get a post nup and that is when the ex took our entire life savings(( 500k) and blew it in his failing business. I lost my share of that money and much more since he also took many assets. All lost within the safety of the marriage so not claimable in the divorce. Please protect yourself now. Don’t be me.

          • Oh geez… I’m so sorry. I really felt like I knew this man for 33 years.

            He told me it was pride. I told him the only reason someone would hide that money to leave would be to leave with someone else. Period! He told me on our Anniversary. Trip that he couldn’t do that to our kids. I was like…. wtf about us? He also told me he had a new love for me! Wtf happened to the old love?

            I am here to tell you that I would have been one of those woman who would have been completely clueless!! He was such an actor. We also own 2 homes free and clear and he would have left me wth those thinking he was justified. I am sure. I’m still not secure after his attempts of 2 years trying.

    • Not Ur Supply Satan,

      I admire your stamina in pumping up your undeserving ex!

      You said, ‘Still don’t want him. She can have him. I am moving on with a smile on my face, my head held high and my dignity intact.’ God, I wish that I could claim the same! I still want my ex-boyfriend (don’t want my ex-husband), I wish that my ex-boyfriend hadn’t thrown me over for my replacement(s?), I wish that I had a smile on my face (instead of a face even more wrinkled than usual in pain, and dignity long gone.’ How did you get to the point of feeling and being all those wonderful things. I imagine after much groveling for undeserving boyfriend that I look needy, pathetic, and even more undesirable than he viewed me after he decided over two years ago that I was not going to be a ‘going concern’ and instead was going to be a gap-filling toy until he found what he really wanted and respected.

  • Advice to myself then and now would be to make my needs/wants just as important (if not more so) than any partners needs/wants. Voice your opinions and it’s okay to disagree on issues, big or small. Don’t lose sight of yourself and don’t try to become what your partner wants you to be. Someone who loves you would NEVER want you to change because they wouldn’t want you to be anyone other than YOU!

  • I’d do it all again ~ all of it ~ up to the point of when I married the X Asshole.

    The warning signs were all there ~ I’d listen to them and by doing so, I would avoid walking around with this spear in my chest. LOL

    • Warning signs were apparent in my case, too. I refused to acknowledge them until too late.

  • I would have to go waaay back. I sadly have a long history of having a bad picker. There need to be classes on relationships in schools. That’s what I would change.
    (The reasons I have a bad picker have become a skein I can’t/don’t want to untangle. I accept that it is and actively work towards changing.)

  • nomoreskankboy:
    You DO NOT have to work yourself to the bone trying to “earn” love…


  • Do NOT get married so young, you’re JUST 20!

    Yes, it’s flattering that he’s paying attention to you, but LOOK – his wife just died (short marriage, she had a blood disorder) and he’s just looking for someone to take care of him. Notice how the only dates are things HE wants to do??

    Finish school, listen to your mom – you’re meant to be a teacher. DO IT! Live on your own for a while. Date a lot. Be intimate with a few more guys or you’ll end up being 60 and the ONLY partner you’ll have had your entire life will be someone who just wasn’t that into you and sex will have been *meh* your whole life.

    Learn to be YOU now so you’re aware when someone who says he “loves you” is trying to bend you into something you’re not to suit himself. Be strong, and don’t be afraid of standing up for yourself and worrying that strength will offend him and chase him away.

    And rock that red and white striped bikini! Hell, you look GOOD!!

  • Jodi Lynch:
    The warning signs were all there…

    Yes. He was very up front about who he was from the beginning. I chose to believe what he said.
    He took me to WalMart for our first date.
    On the drive home he took a snack bar out of his pocket and started eating it. Then asked me if I had eaten something earlier. When I replied “no” he told me I “should have packed something”.

    I went out with him again and eventually married him. It still makes me sad.

    • My biggest warning sign was in 2006. I was bitten by a brown recluse spider and was in extreme pain. I drove myself to the ER as he was out drinking and couldn’t be bothered.

      I called sometime later to let him know I wouldn’t be home as they said I was in heart failure and they were trying to save my life.

      He replied … do you want me to come there? With silent tears rolling down my face, I replied… no.

      Um hello… of course I wanted him there but the fact that I had to say it, I didn’t say it.

      I was released around 4 a.m. and had to sign papers saying I would go to a doctor that same day and would be monitored for some time.

      When I got home, he was asleep with not a care in the world.

      Yep, huge warning sign.

      • That’s a horrible story. He’s a horrible person.

        And for those who obsess over the arrival of the karma bus–what could be worse than have the heart and soul of a man like that? He could live in a mansion and have a billion dollars and he’d be utterly worthless.

        • Thank you for saying that.

          Funny thing is, he does indeed live in a mansion with the circus clown OW now and rumor has it she is filthy rich ~ and yes, he is utterly worthless.

          Go figure… LOL

  • I would heed much more strongly the best advice my mother ever gave me: “Don’t marry a man you feel sorry for or have to make excuses for.” (I did it anyway.) A real red flag us deeply loving, warm people who falsely believe we can “make” miserable people happy with enough love. Now I see so clearly when I watch girlfriends bend themselves into pretzels to come up with explanations for their moronic fuckwits. “Oh, he had a bad childhood.” “Oh, he’s never had anyone believe in him before.” “Oh, I’m just going to focus on the good stuff.” “Oh, that’s just the way he is and nobody is perfect.” Yikes.

    • This 1000 times !!

      Now that I accept who my Ex is and as CL says “trust that she sucks”, her actions never surprise me unlike during our marriage where her actions would always throw me for a loop. I used to try and defend her shitty actions and had this unrealistic picture of who she was in my head that now I know was far from reality.
      It took Dday and for me to be emotionally and financially destroyed for me to finally wake up.

      My other piece of advice to my younger self — If all of your closest friends and family don’t like them and beg you not to marry them —LISTEN !!

  • I ran across a picture of myself early in my marriage, holding my 6-month old daughter, and felt sorry for my younger self–there is an innocence in my face that will never be there again because of having lived through emotional abuse & infidelity. I knew my marriage was going to be difficult, but had no idea there would be as many hours of fighting the inertia of helplessness to keep going.

    That said, I wouldn’t go back in time and slap my younger self into logical thought (“Don’t marry him!!”). Everything that has happened has brought me to this time in place, and it’s pretty wonderful. 3.25 years out from D-day, not-quite 3 years from divorce, and I am part of a Chump Revolution, have the most fabulous set of friends (most from CN), two daughters I would not have otherwise had, and wisdom about the world (which, while the loss of innocence is unwelcome in some respects, better represents the truth about the world, and that is always a good thing).

    Carry on, younger self.

    • Ditto. As shit sandwich as the past five years have been, I’d have no Kiddo. Or Chump Nation for that matter.

      I’m with you Lady T!

    • Tempest,
      YOU are an inspiration to CN.
      You never cease to amaze me.
      I believe you are the Best Friend CN has. We know ALL the extra things you do to help Chumps, you go more than the extra mile.
      Thank you for your enormous kind heart, TEMPEST!

  • At my 23 I would say to myself:
    – stop drinking and smoking
    – get a proffesional help for depression
    – get a degree now (and not at 42) and get a good job
    – start running daily
    – dump that troubled girl (STBXW, 19 years together, 15 years living together, DD#1 in September 2017 and DD#2 in November 2017, three teen kids…)
    – WTF happend???


    But Im becoming MIGHTY and near the state of MEH.
    Tuesday is comming with supersonic speed around the corner.

    THX to the CL & CN.

    We all rock!!!

  • I had dated CheaterX for about a couple of years before I went off to grad school. The summer before I moved, I had surgery for a torn ACL. About a week beforehand, I broke up with CheaterX. He always had a chip on his shoulder with respect to people who had more education than he had, and always railed against the academy. He did have a college degree, but both my parents were retired professors,

    He is a man who paints everyone with the same brush. Did he suffer an injustice at the hands of a professor? ALL professors are bad. I finally got mad enough and told him flat out that both my parents held PhDs, both had taught at the university level, and I clearly understood where he was coming from and that I no longer wanted to see him.

    I was sad, but getting over things.

    I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. He brought me flowers, balloons, and chocolates. The nurse asked me who did this and I told her that it was my ex-boyfriend, who was trying to get back together. She looked at me and told me that anyone who made that kind of effort deserved a second chance.

    Knowing what I know now, I’d have told her that no, grand gestures are all he’s good for. He’ll go back and be the same asshole he was before.

  • Definitely in the camp of accepting realities, including the impossibility of rewrites. Instead of imaging how I might have made different decisions–ones that might have prevented this mess–I’m all about both learning about how and why I made so many mistakes, grasping that I was dealing with a person who very skillfully manipulated me and withheld key information, and cutting myself a break on some key points. For instance, yes, I did stay too long, but then again some core values that I would not change were the foundation of that decision. Also, doing my best to live the present fully, and to see my independent future as a gift. Scary to be wholly abandoned at 55 with the empty nest imminent, but then again it’s pretty glorious to imagine having the freedom to focus on things that I really love. Small things like hours to read and write, or a day spent hiking, or long stretches of time to work in the yard until I am filthy and the sun is setting never seem small to me. Those are what contentment and health look like. I am really lucky no longer to be tied to someone who has very different ideas–if any, really–about what a worthy life looks like. I can go to church, now. Films. Museums. I can poke around in junk shops. I can spend hours taking and editing photos. I can get lost in a bookstore. I can dream by a river. Facing a lot of solitude–I like a lot of it, but this is REALLY a lot–but work and children keep me absorbed, and I think a good bit of time just adjusting to the new reality after divorce (coming soon, it seems) will be right and healthy for me.

    • Dear cashmere
      I am discarded at 59; but I know my future is far brighter than my dark lonely undervalued marriage. Engage in the people you love, your community and your passions. You have been gifted a second chance! Would you want to grow old with that fuckwit, care for him in aging poor health? Thrive my friend! This world is a beautiful place!

  • I would tell myself it is OK to walk away. I always had a habit of trying to make a relationship work, even when it was obvious that it was not going to or that it was bad for me. There were times when I would be involved with someone who I shouldn’t be, or someone who was just stringing me along, and I would stay. There were times when I was asked out by a guy who I had been friendly with, and I would turn him down out of obligation to the “jerk” I had been dating. I often wonder “what if”. I would tell myself when it comes to love, trust your gut, don’t be afraid to walk away from something that isn’t working just because you feel obligated, and don’t be afraid to take a chance. And girl, don’t wait for them to ask you, ask them!Of course there is nothing wrong with being alone either….

  • I’d also tell my younger self, that just because I got pressured into having sex (or wanted to and did) that THAT in and of itself did not mean I HAD to marry a man in order to be “morally right” with God. Okay, so I shouldn’t have had sex…but that did not mean that I was suddenly now morally obligated to also fuck up my entire life going forward with the wrong person. Sex muddied the waters for me…it made me think and feel that the unseen emotional/physical/spiritual “bond” that ensued (obviously only in MY mind) was an indication of a spiritual moral contract going forward…rather than just something that I needed to repent of. This is of course, coming from a Christian perspective. I had sex with three men during my lifetime…married them all, and ALL of them were cheaters and/or abusers. I did not take the TIME to really learn about their characters before having sex with them. DONE with both sex and men…much happier being alone going forward. Fixed my picker and made a choice for ME.

    • Agreed that I should have walked away but felt powerless to do so. Sex, for me, made it impossible to see or think clearly. There were many red flags for both of my cheating x’s, but I ignored them.

  • Actions speak louder than words

    Trust your gut

    Don’t be afraid to go on alone

    Don’t bet on potential

  • Considering I married my high school “sweetheart”, I’d tell myself to break up with him when I started college. Date other guys, have lots of other sex. See what else is out there because I had a poor definition and childhood example of what healthy love was.

    But, truth is, I was a very damaged and broken girl that came from a home of alcoholic narcissist parents. I mistook academic and later professional successes as evidence I was just fine and unscathed from childhood toxicity and dysfunction. I was so, so wrong. While this guy ended up breaking my heart decades later, I would have probably chosen a string crappy guys because I didn’t realize how codependent, conflict avoidant, poor boundaries setting I was until my marriage hit the wall. So, maybe, it was better I had only one mediocre guy versus possibly ending up with someone worse.

    I wish I would have gotten emotionally healthy much earlier in life. That wish isn’t related to him or infidelity…it’s just for me as a person.

    • In other words, I wish I had different parents. That is where my bad boundaries and lack of self esteem started. I thoughts it was showing I was tough and resilient if I never cried or acted like anything phased me.

      I work every day to try to create a more healthy emotional and physical environment for my kids to break the cycle.

      • It took me years to finally admit that my parents not only failed me but damaged me in deep, lasting ways. In fact, I was in the middle of figuring all of that out when my ex walked. I thought I was doing the right thing by turning to my partner, but it was all too much for her.

        My mom made my young adult dating life absolute hell because she treated me as her emotional partner. I finally met someone as an adult, at 30, but after 5 years of having what I’d also wanted my ex walked and blew all that up. Over three years later I still struggle with what exactly I’m going to do with this so called life. My formative years were hell, and I seem to lack the energy to create a new existence for myself. I’m just tired.

        • CNM & WWDSG – Introspection can be both painful and uplifting. It gives you the opportunity to bravely look at yourself and see the flaws. It also allows you the opportunity to remodel yourself and strengthen the good bits that you both possess.

          I’m on that path myself. It’s hard work, but the (small) rewards of working on myself are starting to show

        • Which Way Did She Go-
          To the last part of your comment, I understand this so well! At Christmas, I was at three years out from being deserted. I tried all the recommended Tips and Tricks that one sees on blogs and magazines for getting your New Year headed right, towards your goals.
          Instead, I find myself still drifting, directionless, still uncertain….But what IS emerging now is a compassion for the me that feels so unmoored.
          I buoyed up to the man who proposed to me over a decade ago, I had oriented my goals towards “Us” and “We” goals back then because I loved him so, every future dream included him because that was what we both always talked about. I felt secure, loved and anchored as a couple.

          How can we blame ourselves if three years after they blew up our dream, we still haven’t figured out what’s next? Undoing that many years of a total orientation to another human being we loved completely, likely isn’t going to happen quickly…..
          The exhaustion of trying to figure out WTF happened, of dodging the smear campaign bullets, of trying to educate my therapist that No, sometimes there really ARE victims and what happened to me isn’t necessarily an outgrowth of wretched family of origin issues that otherwise would have allowed me to walk away from him earlier (I was blindsided)….the whole process is terribly exhausting. I sleep more than I’m happy with and have a narrower bandwidth for the things I used to enjoy, but I have to think it’s part of accepting that my whole existence got up-ended due to something I had no control over, received no warning about, and was punished for crying over (he was the victim, he claimed, not me. Right.)

          So instead of berating myself for not turning over that new leaf on New Year’s that reveals the next vision of my future, I’m learning to surrender to the fact that all this was immeasurably harder than I could ever have predicted. That seems to bring a modicum of self-compassion so I don’t internalize his rejection of our life as some horrible set of faults of my own that caused him to move out in the middle of the night when I thought we were doing well together.

          For me, it’s rather slow moving…onwards and I trust, upwards. I pray patience for both of us! And I pray that I learn to trust more, that a higher wisdom is guiding me no matter how slow-as-molasses this post-explosion life seems to be going.

    • I had to check the name on this post…..thought I had written it before my morning coffee. Ditto!

  • I would tell myself what I told my kids. Get your education, figure out where you want to be in life then find a partner. Don’t make life decisions based on a teenage relationship. Go to college, it’s an experience everyone should have. Don’t marry someone because you are grateful someone chose you. Know your worth.

  • Hmm. Certainly I have regrets, but I am not sure I would know what to tell myself. I might be able to head off some mistakes, but I would just have made different ones. I also think that I have learned much from my mistakes and good things came from them too. Perhaps the one thing I would want to tell my young teenage self is “these are not the best years of your life, it gets better”. That would be hard to explain later when the bottom dropped out of my marriage, but life was better for many years before that. I did have a good marriage for a while and good experiences did come out of it (three amazing children for one). Also, things are getting better again now compared to where they were on DDay a year and a half ago. Life is full of ups and downs. I guess I am currently giving myself the advice I would want to give my teenage self. When I am on the down low, I keep telling myself “It will get better again. I will be happy again someday.” I tell my teenage daughter the same thing.

  • I would tell myself, stop putting other people first, I thought loosing 5 stone I would be treated better, I lost 7 stone, due to illness, was treated worse. Actions speak lounder than words, my ex, put everybody first but me. Someone I knew actually said “a man is better than no man”. But their entitled to their opinion

  • I wouldn’t go back in time. I am also exactly we’re im supposed to be. I have always enjoyed my life….the pain and suffering helped shaped me into a better person. As much as I hated the numerous affairs my ex had and it was the worst thing I ever been through. I eventually became a better version of myself. I don’t think anybody could have talked sense into me, I had to experience it myself…..hope that didn’t come across as narcissistic

    • I don’t think it sounds narcissistic at all. I think it shows that you own your actions and decisions.

      I feel the same way that I am a better person because of what I have been through ~ but after this, I can be better to myself and have some boundaries.

  • ICSTMC – To my 36 yo self I would say: “Darling girl… you have a great job, you own your own home, you don’t need a husband to have a baby (just because society still expects it). You can raise a little boy all on your own and build your own family.. you have enough love inside you to do it. Never settle because ‘the clock is ticking’. “

  • Interesting question CL!. A few years back I had a dream one night that I was standing on the corner of the intersection across from my High School. I was given the opportunity to go back and have a do over. All I had to do was walk across the street and when I reached the other side I would be back there at that age and with all of the knowledge I have now. Since I graduated in 1980 I would be going back a long ways. I was so excited for the possibilities and eagerly started across when the traffic light turned green. I got about half way across when I looked down beside myself and there was my youngest daughter about age 4 or 5. Her sweet face was looking up at me and she asked “What about me Mom?”
    I knew in an instant that I had to turn back. There is nothing that I would change because without having done exactly the things I had done I wouldn’t have any of my 3 wonderful children and there is no way in Heaven or Hell or anything that could ever make me want to live in a world where they didn’t exist. My goal always was but suddenly had even more meaning was to impart what I have learned to them and hopefully some of what I share they will take to heart an avoid the mistakes that I made. So they are my “Do over” . I couldn’t ask for any greater blessing.

    • Chumptotheend, Wow…what a beautiful and powerful dream. I am the same age as you. Like you I have a daughter. I can envision her saying the exact same thing to me. My kids too are my greatest blessing. Your post is one to frame. I am going to refer to this as I have spent WAY to many days in a pity myself for having married the man I did. Thank you…

  • I spent my whole youth doing what I thought other people expected of me. I went to a college I hated, majored in something I had no interest in, took a high-stress corporate gig, and so on…because that’s what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I spent a couple of years trying to help out a sick relative who did not ever appreciate what I did, because no one else would help her, and because that’s what I thought good people did.
    I should’ve stuck with working as a musician, or on a ranch, or just being outside and with people, because even though other people didn’t consider them to be “real” jobs, they were real to me. I was so much happier with less money, but doing things that I wanted to.

    I would live my life for me. I doesn’t make me selfish, but it would’ve made me a lot happier.

  • Wow. That’s a load of thinking. I would not change anything because I would not have my sons.
    But I always think:

    if I had spackled less over ex-H’s total disregard for my well-being (e.g., he would squeeze my hand till it hurt and totally ignored my complaints; I had two babies and was living in a primitive outback of my country when I came down with bad pneumonia and even so he spent the weekend with friends 3,000 km away; etc.);

    if I had been less dazzled by my ex-H’s family of eight handsome young men, all highly intelligent and nerdy, but incapable of having conversations of depth and all of them turned out to be cheaters in one way or another,

    I would have had some kind of a turning point decades earlier than divorce at 65.

  • My advice to my younger self: Adapt your world to your instincts, not the other way around.

  • So much of who you are seems to be based on who you were at the beginning, and what happened in between then and now. There are parts of my life that were more enjoyable than others, and parts that were pure hell — but because of my choices I learned things, had experiences, and met some exceptional people (including my sons). Met a few easy- to- forgets, and need-to-forgets, too.

    Have you heard the song Five More Minutes? I think that is my regret/wish, that I could somehow convince my younger self to treasure the good experiences, and dispose of the bad. To not take so long to determine whether an experience or person is good or bad. To learn earlier that you cannot change someone else, you can only change yourself. I wouldn’t trade my sons for anything — both the good and the bad of raising them. I wish I had not had so much drama and trauma in my life, but it has made me a very strong woman. I am content most of the time now, because I choose to be. I learned to build boundaries and enforce them, I only wish I had learned a little faster. When it’s my time to go — I’ll probably wish for Five More Minutes, but I am grateful for the time I have had.

  • I would have said you idiot please treat your best guy friend to a date. He is a good guy and you know it. Instead I went for the party boy who never grew up and ended up using and abusing me ( for 36?years). Best guy friend turned out to be a nerdy it guy who is still at the same company he started at many years ago and is a devoted dad. Oh well

    • Newlady,
      I don’t know your best guy friend, but I ended up getting involved with a friend (somewhat nerdy but popular engineer) who I had met nearly 30 years earlier shortly after my husband left. Best guy friend mistreated me in an often sick way until he discarded me for good (a second time) for work subordinate. Just saying that sometimes, the road taken not being great nor even ‘acceptable’ does not mean that the road not taken was better. Both the initial road taken (agreeing to marry the man I did) and the road not taken (in my case getting involved with the ‘nerdy engineer guy’) were bad roads! The best road would probably have been ‘off-road’ (stay single, even if that means staying single FOREVER) because dating/marrying and creating kids (as wonderful as they are) with these guys just led to me being devastated for the long haul and alone (officially and unofficially) for many years.

      • I get it. He may not have been a good choice either but I now just wish I had given both of us the chance to find out. I went for the sparkly turd…ughhh!

  • Advice to younger me.
    You are enough.
    Do not live your life according to other’s expectations.
    Know your worth.Internalise how valuable you are.
    Once you know this, it will prevent your being a magnet for fucktards.

  • I would tell myself to read a book about personality disorders and how to spot them before you end up getting conned into a relationship that will suck the life out of you.

  • As Thomas Wolfe says “You ant go back……………….” So why torture yourself?

  • Advice to my high school/college-aged self:

    Don’t be so concerned about what other people think about you! You ARE smart, kind and pretty. The ugly in those “mean girls” stays with them their whole lives and it’s their problem, not yours.

    Beware of sweet-talkers and guys who sing their own praises.

    Date more!!! And don’t overlook the shy/quiet/nice nerdy guys!

    Pay attention when your family or friends express doubts/concerns about your boyfriend! Don’t let your heart override your head! It will save you a whole lotta heartache down the road!!

    Don’t take any sh*t from bullies. Being nice doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat.

    Cut the cord at the first sign of serious trouble in a relationship if your partner isn’t willing to address it. Your feelings are important!!

  • I lived a full, action packed youth. Definitely would not change a thing until…..age 30 self.

    To him I would say,” listen to your gut, it’s never too late.” Of course referring to when I was asking God to show me a sign why I should not marry this woman, and it’s never too late to back out. So what if you have a date set, the church, the hall, guests who committed, etc., if it don’t feel right it’s probably not right.
    50 self learned the hard way lol.

  • Don’t get married so young & especially to a narcissist asshole. Travel, stay in the military. Go after your dreams & don’t listen to those that tell you that you can’t.
    When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

  • Don’t dance. When someone shows you who they are, trust them. Other people’s failures are not yours to own. Learn what your boundaries are and be true to yourself by enforcing them. Once a cheater, always a cheater.
    I wouldn’t give up my children for anything and really, I could never have known what a fuckwit mine actually is before D-day. I behaved with integrity in my marriage and relationships and frankly wouldn’t want to even understand that level of skepticism or predatory outlook. Maybe being a Pollyanna and giving the people I trusted to love and protect me the benefit of the doubt led to a more harsh and painful fall – I don’t know. I prefer to keep a more positive outlook on humanity even though my eyes have been opened to the levels of selfishness and deception that exist.
    My lovely daughters are my concern now going forward – I don’t even know what I could tell them. They’ve witnessed the epic downward spiral of the father they idolized and adored and I cannot even fathom what that has done to them. Maybe it’s what will protect them from being lambs to the slaughter? I hope it doesn’t turn them into ruthless predators like their father and decimate THEIR faith in humanity.
    I mean, what’s worse?

    • 1. Don’t get married to someone who is dependent on other’s opinions to make any decision no matter how big or small.
      2. Don’t give up your career to raise the children no matter how loyal, honest, dependable you think your husband is, giving up your financial independence will limit your future opportunities later in life.
      3. At the first sign of an affair, show him out the door. Do not cry, beg, cling, etc, he is not confused even if he is crying that he might kill himself or that his mom agrees with him, etc, you can not work on a marriage if there is a 3rd person involved.

  • As the quote says “it’s ok the live a life others don’t understand.” I always had this wonderfully wierd spirit as a young person and was driven toward unusual choices. But I had become convinced that the only way forward was to pair with a reliable man. As it turns out, sometimes what looks reliable on paper is not. Had I listened to my gut more I would have stayed single and just lived that “misunderstood” life. Luckily at 41, I get another shot.

  • I would tell myself to report the guy who sexually assaulted me on a date when I was 17 years old.

    I would also tell myself not to rush into marriage because I heard the biological clock ticking loudly (closing in on 40) and, at first, my husband seemed like a ‘nice guy’. Do. Not. Spackle. I would have been sad if I hadn’t had kids but could have prevented my kids and me from suffering the fallout of the marriage from abusive husband/father and probably would have avoided getting into relationship with Dishonest Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the rebound.

    When someone tells you who he is. Believe him the first time!

    You might have a better life ‘alone’ than temporarily paired with guys who don’t respect you/treat you as well as you, anyone for that matter, deserve to be treated.

  • This is a heart-breaking question. I think all of us have had moments in our lives that did not go as we wished they had. Those moments help to make us who we are. To remove those moments would change us. I have never hurt so much in all my life, but to quote Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

    If I were to change anything, would I be happier now? Possibly, but then I would be a different person. I also would not have my children, and we would not have had the opportunity to have shared the times we have had and the future we will make together.

    I am sad that things didn’t work out the way I had hoped. I can see how I need to change for the future. I can’t really ask for more than that. I know that my actions were always done out of love and care. The fact that this was not enough for my STBXW says more about her than it says about me.

    I think the fact that she would say that she didn’t have any regrets in her life should have been a bit of a warning sign. I don’t know if it means she can’t recognize ever doing anything wrong herself, or she was just trying to fool herself into believing that her shitty decisions weren’t harmful to other people. I guess that is not my mess to untangle.

    • To be completely honest, if I could go back, I would go back to earlier in my relationship with STBXW to try to keep it together. Not that I could do that by being a different person, but maybe we could have figured it out TOGETHER.

      I know that this sounds a bit like hopium, but it isn’t I know that I could not be back with her now, not after what has happened, but since we’re talking magic anyway, what if we could go back to when it was great and see if we couldn’t keep it that way. I do miss her, and I still do love her, even though I do see the flaws in her.

      • I totally get where you are coming from. I really feel that ex and I could have worked out our differences if he had asked for counseling before he strayed instead of after when it was already too late. If I could go back, perhaps I would have the guts to request counseling as soon as I started to perceive the devalue.

        • I DID do those things; tried to work with my then-partner while things were good, to keep the relationship strong and happy, tried to solve things, then to get counselling, when they got rough.

          He wasn’t interested in any of that. Liked my efforts but would make none of his own, really thought he shouldn’t have to. Went on to have 2 affairs.

          So don’t assume anything would have been different, if you had done those things. And don’t forget that it was also your former partners’ responsibility to make those efforts.

    • I have never hurt so much in all my life, but to quote Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

      That is so sad…..brought tears to my eyes.

  • I wouldn’t change a thing because I’ve learned SO much, and I have three absolutely amazing wonderful kids. That notwithstanding, I’d give myself the following advice:
    1. Do not be afraid! Of anything! Listen to your gut!
    2. Just because you were the first person in the entire history of your family to graduate high school, and you have no money, does not mean you can’t go to college. There are ways, you can do it.
    3. Join the Airforce! Trust me, 20 years from now you will regret the decision not to because you were afraid and because your boyfriend (future STBX) said he wouldn’t wait for you.
    4. Figure out what YOUR values are, live by them, and don’t take up with others who don’t share the same values. Don’t conform to others’ values you don’t believe in, this will destroy your sense of self-worth.
    5. Learn what good character is, don’t settle for anyone that doesn’t have it.
    6. Learn what red flags are, and pay attention! These are all the red flags your boyfriend (future STBX) waved loudly that you did not pay attention to:
    -he smokes pot, (and is the neighborhood dealer)
    -the story he told you about when he defecated in his grandmother’s car when he was 15 because he was really mad at her
    -he told you his motto is “love the one you’re with” when discussing your relationship, and your concern he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend who dumped him
    -he brags at a party that he’s had sex with every girl in the room
    -he keeps the money when a store clerk accidentally gives him too much change or forgets to ask for payment at a fast food drive-thru
    -he has zero respect for his mother
    -he routinely steals from other people

    • Jeanie –

      Get away from him! Sounds an awful lo like my X! As I was reading your list I was thinking in the back of my head “I wonder if he disrespected his mother like my X disrespected his?” And Boom! There it was! OK – Bragging at a party he’s had sex with everyone in the room? He is a Piece of Shit. That is WRONG! He is a narcissist – just like my X. Mine would go through Victoria Secret catalogs in front of me and make drooling sounds over the women as he turned the pages….
      Join the airforce (I wish I had, but instead got pregnant at 16…) and forget the boyfriend. He is NO GOOD!

    • -Pay attention to how he treats and speaks of his mother
      -Go away for a week’s vacation with his family. When you marry someone you marry their family and their family dynamics

      • Go away for a week’s vacation with the fam as part of the getting to know him/her process

  • I would have just said NO more often. Especially to people that made me feel I wasn’t good enough, or that I had to hustle for their approval. To anyone who made me feel like a sidekick and not a friend or an equal. Those were the people I squandered more of my precious life than I care to admit. Because of hindsight, I now know I left others in the dust who were good, kind, caring people in favor of fuckwits. That hurts, far more than losing said fuckwits.

  • I grew up with a mother who told me constantly that I was unattractive, cold, argumentative, too ambitious, too smart and too independent, and no man would ever want to marry me. I was grateful and surprised if any man showed interest in me. I felt that I had to accept any man who would have me and do and be whatever he wanted. It was always about “I have to make him like me,” rather than “Do I like him?” and I ignored serious red flags. So I would tell my younger self:

    –You are lovable. You have worth.

    –You don’t have to “pick me” dance to be loved. The right man will love you for who you really are– and won’t make you jump through hoops to please him.

    –Worry less about whether he wants you; ask yourself, “Do I want him?”

    –If a guy is unhappy, you can’t fix him. He has to do that for himself.

    –If a guy is verbally abusive, don’t apologize, argue, explain, or justify yourself to him. Just get away.

    –Verbal abuse is NOT a normal part of a relationship. A normal person will not WANT to hurt you.

    –Someone else’s opinion of you often says more about them than you.

    –You may never know why people do and say some of the things that they do.

  • I would probably say…that the mistake we’ve experienced in life are teaching lessons that we can hopefully learn for going into the next day(s) of our lives. No one is perfect, but you had the integrity to stay true to your children, your friends, your family, and (what you initially thought to be the most important person in your life) your wife/husband. Be willing to accept failure, as there is no such this as “the perfect life.”

  • There’s nothing wrong with loving someone and feeling loved in return, and your mother isn’t the authority on what love is. You will understand years from now that you were made to suffer for wanting to be normal because your parents weren’t emotionally compatible. To your mother, you dating someone felt like being cheated on. Read about emotional incest. And run. You haven’t been raised to be self-sufficient, and yes, the world can be scary, but it’s not nearly the hellscape that your mother fears so much.

  • Magneto;

    You are not the villain that you will be painted as for the last 1/3 of your marriage.
    — You are much more supreme leader than that! Gather your whit’s and gird your loins, gal. When you see it coming, fire up the Magmobile and floor it. They don’t build those things with a rear view mirror for a reason.

    If you find that you are being followed, release the oil and nails tank.

    Even if I could go back, I know I probably wouldn’t listen.

  • Dear younger self: Whatever you do, don’t become financially dependent on another human being. It doesn’t matter how sure you are that your husband is “different” and your marriage is solid and life-long. Don’t. Take. That. Chance.

  • Advice to my 20 year old self? RUN and know your worth. Just because he seems really smart does not mean that he is kind or a good person. Don’t ignore those red flags when he flirts with others or is disrespectful. Just because your mother trained you not to argue is no reason not to learn to assert your needs.
    Advice to my 30 something self after DD1 Know your worth. When there are red flags RUN. Know that you will be ok. Being optimistic and trying really hard will not fix that entitled liar. It will just suck another decade of your life marriage policing, losing sleep, and taint your children’s teens as you angst and try to mitigate his rages and make compromises to try to be loyal and present a united parental front,
    Advice to myself after DD2 a year ago deciding to finally RUN You’re going to be ok. Well done hiring that expensive kickass lawyer, you will be glad that you did, sleep more and choose the less pressured job option. Leaving him will give you a deep sense of relief, peace and authenticity, you’ve got this. It will be ok.

      • Thanks RockStarWife. The inspiration and support from CN and knowing that they really ‘get it’ about this journey makes such a positive difference.

    • Beautiful, Onwards!

      You’re so right…leaving after DDay 1 was probably advice we all wished we’d taken.

      Glad you made the move now and are on your way to a life free of all that misery.

  • “You have the right to be selfish, you have the right to be unforgiving, and you have the right to not be nice. Sometimes being a good person is mistaken for being a complacent person. Don’t be afraid to be judged.”

  • Honestly? College aged me was pretty together. I met and married my now-estranged husband, the one who cheated on me, but we had at least 20 great/happy years together and two fabulous kids.

    It’s not me. It’s never been me. It’s him who’s the problem. And his midlife crisis.

    Only thing I’d do differently is believe my friends when they said he was cheating. (Don’t worry, it only took me about six weeks to find the evidence, anyway. I’m not stupid.)

  • Exercise and save money!

    That changes the dynamic if everything else you’re about to go through.

  • I would say hello to the younger Rickb89 and say:

    – trust your instincts, listen to your inner voice. It’s ALWAYS right.
    – make finding and living your true purpose your number one priority
    – find mentors, ask lots of questions and take notes!
    – face your fears and ALWAYS take action on them
    – NEVER settle in a relationship. KNOW AND LIVE your value, always.
    – don’t be afraid to let go of shitty partners
    – build your own business
    – be aware and grateful for the millions of small miracles all around you
    – go beyond your comfort zone frequently

  • Dear ChutesandLadders,

    You don’t need a man to be complete.

    When your body responds to, “I guess we should get married,” with a physical feeling of fright and dread, LISTEN CAREFULLY AND DON’T SAY YES.

    Recognize EARLY that a husband who doesn’t value you isn’t worth your loyalty. Admitting failure is far more honorable than staying married to one.

    Get your professional ducks in a row before age 50. Discrimination is real.

  • I didn’t get much of a chance at childhood. My mother had an affair and blew up our family and I was left raising the younger kids, living in shacks and fixing cheap food out of cans and boxes for dinner. I got pregnant at 16 by a monster. I made lots of bad choices mainly because I had no one to guide me but myself. I guess I would have told my younger self that I would be okay. I look at pictures of that pretty girl and realize that a lot of it wasn’t her fault, that she was a victim of other people’s bad choices. Sometimes I get really sad about what feels like a life time of regrets. The men I wasted the pretty on like the cheater. I would do a ‘do over’ in a heartbeat. If I knew what I know now.

    • My mother had a habit of shacking up with married men. I thought it was disgusting and embarrassing when I was a kid. In the end….she was grabbing at “any old straw” she could get her hands on. The poor wives of her shack ups….must have gone through hell. Of course this was never discussed….and my mother saw herself as far “superior” to her shack-up’s wives. I vowed that when I married….I would stay married- for life.

      Problem was….I married someone just like her- no sexual boundaries…selfish…..morally infantile…….sexually centered. I didn’t have a clue…… Dancing Dick presented himself as decent, middle class, hard working, intelligent man. Underneath that veneer ….was a low class, piece of trash …dressed in Dockers.

  • Regret should not be an emotion, we made decisions based on the information that we had at the time. You should not look back and have regret, we did what we thought best based on our life, our mindset, our influences. There should be no, “I hould have done it this way, or I should have told him/her no”. If we continue to have regret as an emotion, then we continue to allow ourselves feel guilty, sad, stupid, chumped, etc…. We are none of those things, we are human, and whereas we may have made choices that cost us so much, we can’t go back. But, we can make a brighter future, believe in ourselves and know that we are all amazing. Just my thoughts…

  • I gave this a lot of thought over the last 2 years and again from this morning when CL posited this question.

    Time travel only works in one direction. Could I have made different choices? Absolutely. Would those choices have turned out better than the ones I made? There’s no way to tell.

    Science fiction is filled with stories of time travelers changing the past only to find out that it was the past that was there already.

    I made someone at lunch today laugh when I mentioned that when my 23 year old son moved in with me back in June I told him – quite seriously – “sometimes I make poor choices”.

    Perhaps I should have worked harder in chasing after that actress who kissed me after going out one night in the late 1980s. She went on to be moderately famous and is still very beautiful. My life would have been very different if she were the one that I was with. Would it have been happier? There’s no way to know. What about the gay friend that made a serious pass at me at University? That’s another path untrodden.

    I “own” my past and the decisions that I made then. A number of them were poor decisions and a number of them were not. A number of the more significant things that have happened to me, especially once Mme YogaPants got serious about her affair were completely beyond my control.

    I get up every morning and look in the mirror though and I like the man I see. He’s kinda wrinkly, bulges and sags in places, but over-all he’s a man that I’m proud to be.


  • This one is tricky , because i can recognise so many points where I should have exited without looking back. I’m going to write off the ( multiple) pre- children opportunities( how many red flags can one woman ignore, you ask?) because I adore my daughters and i can’t imagine not having them, just as they are. I’m willing to pay the price of being allied to their dad in order to have produced them.
    I should have left after DD1, though, and not flailed around in misery until DD2, and I should never EVER have been cajoled into a position where DD3 meant anything to me. And I should have learnt accounting properly, at some stage. My biggest regrets are due to being stupid about money, and letting him make decisions for me.
    And I agree with all the stuff about recognising that I was pretty when I was young- I didn’t, but I was, and I wish i had enjoyed that more. i also wish i had enjoyed being healthy more. I have chronic illnesses now, low grade but still there every day, and I wish I had been more athletic when I was able.
    That’s about it- I got to travel a lot, and do the work I wanted, and have the children i adored.
    No , wait up- I really , really regret not punching my ex in the face, just once. But, admittedly, that would have got me into trouble. Let’s change that to smashing all his Warhammer figurines with a warhammer

  • I would tell my 24 year old self when she first started dating exhole, to step away from the relationship until he had completely cut ties with his ex girlfriend. If you are meant to be together, he ‘ll come back when that door is firmly closed. I would tell 24 year old chumpintraining to make a bigger deal about the long late night phone calls with the ex while she sits in the other room, the times his ex shows up at work that he doesn’t tell her about until much, much later, the valentine’s gifts the ex sent him that she finds hidden in the garage…

    To be honest, I don’t think he was cheating on me with his ex, but he obviously got major satisfaction from the triangulation. I’m also pretty sure that he fudged on the timing of the end of their relationship. He insisted up and down that he had definitively broken up with her the week before he declared his love for me (I know, I know, even if that were true, that’s a mighty small time window. My 24 year old self was really dumb and caught up in the romance of having my long time unrequited crush FINALLY realize I was his true love :-/). Based on communications I found (yes, I started out our relationship compelled to snoop – another red flag I ignored), she insists that they weren’t broken up on the night she came over to his house and found us together. At the time, I rejected her version. After all of this, I’m certain she was the one telling the truth about the timing. 20 years later I still carry around guilt for the part I played – albeit unwittingly – in her misery. I’m sure she’s heard through our mutual friends about the divorce and is enjoying the schadenfreude. And I have zero hard feelings about that – if I were in her shoes I would feel the same 🙂

    • Chump in Training,
      You sound like a very thoughtful person. I hope that you AND your ex’s ex find someone more deserving of your love.

  • “You’re laughing
    But you’re hiding
    God I know that trick too well
    You forget
    That I’ve been you
    And now I’m just the shell
    I promise
    I love you and
    Everything will work out fine
    Don’t try to
    Grow up yet
    Oh just give it some time”

    “Conversations With My 13 Year Old Self” – Pink

  • Marry the altruistic guy that truly loves you. Those signs you’re seeing that make you think you’re meant to be with the scummy guitar player instead aren’t really signs, they’re just coincidence. You ARE good enough to be with the classy guy, stop selling yourself short. You don’t have to settle, you can soar!

  • I would tell myself of 12 years ago to listen to my workmates and friends who were suspicious of someone who had already been divorced once with 3 children, and whose next relationship had also ended when their baby was only about 18 months old…
    I would tell myself to listen to his first wife when she asked me to get him to agree to a divorce 8 years after he had left her and already had another family and failed at that relationship… Yes, he had lied about being divorced from his first wife.
    I would hit my younger self on the head with a 2×4 and scream “LISTEN!!! He lied about being divorced, now he says he’s been divorced in his own head for 8 years so that what counts!!! TAKE IN WHAT THAT REALLY MEANS!!!!”
    FFS, Kiwichump, he was lying to you before you ever met, he was lying on his online profile!
    Stop telling yourself that you’re not perfect, so who are you to judge. That you’ve had your failed relationships too, so you’re not that much of a catch! That you’re old and you’re lucky you’ve met someone who still wants to try and have a baby…
    Don’t let him move in after 4 months of dating just because he’s decided that’s what he wants and he hasn’t even discussed it with you!!!
    WATCH!!! Why doesn’t he doesn’t have any friends? Why is he so close to second ex’s family? Why does HER mother buy him presents all the time? Why are these people his ONLY social circle? Why does he have no friends from uni right here where he was studying and tutoring?
    Why is he on the local council and doesn’t get on with anyone there either?
    Why had he been in and out of 3 political parties ( and twice in and out of the same one…)?
    LISTEN the first time he yells and swears at you, and tell YOU that you’re difficult and he’s scared of YOU!!
    Years of flatting with all sorts of people and no one had ever been scared of you, Kiwichump…

  • No regrets. I can’t. Without him I wouldn’t have my kids, and they are worth all of it.

    • On one hand, I feel the same. On the other hand, all stats show that kids (especially daughters) of divorce are far more likely themselves to divorce and that kids (both genders) of cheaters are more likely to become either cheaters or Chumps, themselves. So, wish I could have the same amazing kids with a partner who didn’t put them at risk of all these things…

      • Yes this^^

        I don’t think I would ever have been happy that my STBXW discarded me, but knowing the potential damage that this will have on our kids makes it all the more difficult for me.

  • Yes, Chumped-but-happier-now: No regrets. Live and learn. I wouldn’t trade or change one second of this wild ride we call life! Buckle up, buttercups!!! You are going to need to be strapped in for what’s ahead!! Wheeeee!!

  • Love yourself, invest in yourself, stop thinking you aren’t worthy, be sure a man is truly worthy of you, character above looks or success in a mate, chastity and dignity will protect you, love and follow God above all else, and don’t be naive…there really are heartless people in world who will hurt you without a thought. Protect yourself.

  • Bellissimo (funny name for a troll) wrote, ‘I just got the funniest letter from the wife. She obviously won’t go back in time to change things, because she’s happy pick me dancing – and she has been doing so for the past 2 YEARS. She is fully aware of her hubby’s affair with me, but loves him ‘unconditionally’.. hhahahaha, this shit is too funny… she keeps fighting for a turd.. LOL. Oh, the desperation, she’s so pathetic. throwing love at a man who doesn’t love her, and doesn’t respect her. My goodness..too funny.’

    What’s desperate and pathetic (and unethical and cruel) is OW/OM getting involved with a married person and bashing a loyal spouse. You say that your lover’s wife is fighting for a turd. Aren’t you choosing to stay involved with this (married) man you call a turd? You have a distorted sense of moral superiority. At least the wife CARES. She is the only one in this story that cares about anyone other than herself. Hope that she finds Chump Lady soon if she has not already.

  • OMGosh – so many great comments, and this will probably go past 300 comments.
    I have one…

    When the fella doesn’t want to touch you or is NOT sexually fascinated with your hot-as-hell 21 year old body and says, he’s waiting for marriage….to, yanno, FUCK? Masturbating Him was the main alternative.


    He won’t change no matter how hot you make yourself.
    Still not sure if he was gay or just plain selfish.
    No longer care, 36 yrs later.

  • If you are in a relationship, look for reciprocity. If you are giving things and getting nothing, this person is not going to be a good person to have a relationship with. Also, eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

    • Reciprocity! Yes! Dancing Dick was stingy with everything- time, money, compliments, support, kindness.
      The only thing he wasn’t stingy with ….was his worthless dick!

  • Looking back….the signs and clues were there. I was just too young and overtaken by pheromones to see them. I would have never gotten myself tangled up with someone in AA/12 step group- had I known better.

    Alcoholism/drug abuse is a mere symptom of a more deeply rooted problem. Had I known that…..I would have ran! The prevailing thought in the 1980’s was that alcoholism/substance abuse IS the primary problem- BULLSHIT! The problem is much bigger and deeper than that.

    • Thanks for saying that, Leaving the crap behind.
      Since I stopped drinking 20 years ago myself (not through 12-step) and gotten chumped a few years ago, I’ve been eyeing the huge 12-step AA meeting across the street from my apartment building. It’s got hundreds of members, and I sometimes am tempted into thinking, “Maybe I should attend some of their socials, since I AM rather lonely. At least these people would be aware of their issues, right? Isn’t introspection part of how one works the steps?”

      So I needed to read your post today. Not like I think 12-steppers are perfect, no. But I HAD thought that picking someone self-aware would put them slightly above the rest of the population. You are probably right- there are probably many deeply disordered people there for whom compulsively self-medicating was just a symptom, just as there may be many who have integrity enough to get help for their out-of-control drinking. THANK YOU!

  • Looking back….Dancing Dick had the sexual development of a 12 year old. The things he said were things a 12 year old boy would have said about sex (won’t repeat them).

    I swear it…..some people never develop into mature adults with sexuality. As if they are trapped in a 12 year old’s mindset when it comes to sex and sexuality.

    My mother used to say ” A stiff dick has no conscience.” As if a dick were a separate human being? The problem isn’t the dick…….it’s the moral development of the owner of the dick.

    • My mother used to refer to the owners of wayward dicks as “life support systems for an erect penis”. Basically saying they only think about their needs and nothing else.

    • 🙂
      A mother’s wisdom!!
      My mom told me when I was a teenager- “a hard prick has no conscience “, she didn’t use the word “dick”- my mom rarely, and I mean rarely used “cuss” words-that’s what she would call profanity/“cuss word”. 🙂

  • Cheating is a form of domestic abuse! It’s of the worst kind too. The psychological abuse that occurs with a cheater….is more painful than being punched in the face.

    Anyone who deliberately, methodically lies to you….deceives you….undermines your intelligence and sanity (gas lighting) is abusive. Anyone who puts your health at risk with STDs/skin diseases…….puts your financial stability at risk….is as abusive…..or MORE abusive than someone who punches you in the face.

    Psychological abuse is real- and it should be punished the same as physical abuse.

    • When you’ve been punched in the face by the person you love or had gun or a knife held on you, when you’ve actually experienced that form of betrayal. Then, you can pronounce cheating worse. You might also consider that psychological abuse happens right alongside physical abuse. The cheating sucked, looking down the barrel of a gun and knowing the only reason he didn’t shoot me was fear of being caught was much worse. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have your face broken. Stop with the false equivalencies.

      • Datdamwuf,
        physical and psychological abuse both leave horrific effects! Many times they both occur, other times psychological abuse by itself.

        I, too, understand until you experience physical threat to your life, it’s difficult to say one is more horrible than the other.

        For me, the psychological/narc tactic abuse went on for years without physical abuse, however, my “wake up”followed being locked in a room, staring up at someone I didn’t recognize, realizing I was going to die/experience “death by strangulation “. To this day, I still don’t know why I decided to laugh, increased the laughing until his concentration was disrupted and allowed me to escape locked room, make into next room, only to be grabbed again, this time 2 dogs barking non-stop broke his concentration again, and I escaped to the outside! One of the police officers made the comment, my laughing at Stbx, made him pause, that pause allowed my escape and probably saved my life! Numerous bruises had started appearing on my body, the officer noticed the marks on my neck and wrists. What wasn’t visible was the Years of psychological abuse that had taken its toll! Prior to physical abuse incident, I didn’t have bruises all over me, but the scars were there, just not visible.

        Please know, in no way, was I attempting to minimize psychological vs physical. They both are horrible.

        IMO, societal views can hinder someone making the decision to RUN, because a threat to their life has not yet happened, there aren’t any visible scars or bruises, causing victim to believe “it’s not that bad”, YET!

        • There is not doubt psychological abuse often precedes and is always ganging together with the physical. I experienced both, escalation to physical when the psychological didn’t work any longer. I am objecting to saying the first is worse than the second because they go together. I can’t see cheating as being more traumatic than having the person you trust most showing you they would like to kill you. I’ve been through both.

          • Datdamnwuf,
            Yes, I understand. Thank you for emphasizing they often go hand in hand!

            In my experience, staring up into the face of someone I no longer recognized and realizing I was going to probably die in that moment, immediately made me not hesitate to fight for my life.
            My regret, is not taking the years of psychological abuse as a threat to my life, health, sanity and immediately acting! That is my biggest regret, that it took a physical abuse incident to shake me into fucking reality that I was married to a sociopathic monster!

            Once an attempt on your life is made by physical abuse, it does put psychological abuse in a different context, that was only my personal experience and is my own personal opinion! The cheating, narc abuse tactics I endured were nothing in comparison to knowing I would die by strangulation!

            Glad you are safe and free from your abuser and lived to tell your story!

            I hope in time victims of psychological abuse don’t wait for the physical abuse to occur before they RUN and never look back!

            You are strong and brave!!

  • I would tell my younger self 3 Don’ts, which apply to a spouse, friends, and business associates:
    1. Don’t mistake intelligence for character.
    2. Don’t select from the discount bin.
    3. Don’t believe that opposites attract (shared values form the strongest bonds).
    Though as CL says, I wouldn’t trade anything for the difficult but rewarding road I’ve traveled.

  • I would have told my younger self to let him go when he tried running. Instead I feared being alone and didn’t believe in myself. 20 years later and I’m the idiot for staying and now he’s not only left me, but our 3 kids.
    Believe in yourself. You’re worth so much more.

  • Hmm. I would tell myself to slow down when I met stbx and heed the red flags, but I question if my younger self would listen. After growing up in a VERY disfunctional family, I guess I latched on to the first thing that felt like real love. He seemed 98% perfect at the time and I thought that was enough. It was the 2% of behavior I saw and ignored that would nearly destroy me a decade later. It’s taken my years of reading, learning, reflection and therapy to realize I deserved better, so my 21 year old self that was blinded by love would likely not have listened. It was real love from my side and I tried hard, but I’m the chump after all.

    I really believe now that with men you have to ignore everything they say and watch closely what they do. Seems so simple now, but young me didn’t get it.

    Other than love, I can say I have no real regrets. I have a great career with more success than I could have imagined. I sometimes wish I studied harder, went to a better school for undergrad, etc. but I really don’t think it would have made a meaningful difference. There we’re a few travel opportunities I wish I hadn’t passed up and some friendships I would have tried harder to maintain, but I’ve traveled a lot and there’s still time.

  • I am late to this game, but I want to reply. I have only one actual regret. I had a wonderful job opportunity when I left school. Had I taken it, I would very likely be handsomely retired now at under 50 and able to work some other job I love regardless of the money. Also, he would have left me. The me of today wants to go back and beg old me to please, please stay at the job.

    Looking forward, I wish I had known what I now know about the legal and contractual nature of marriage. Given the same circumstances, I would not marry again without a carefully agreed custom contract (a pre nup). I used to think that was both unromantic and rude. After all, if you don’t trust each other, why get married? Now I say, exactly, and what better way to be sure you can trust each other than to discuss your future at length in contractual terms? You wouldn’t risk your life savings buying a house with only a handshake promise of the terms. Why risk your entire future on a handshake promise of relationship?

    This is why I fervently disagree with common law marriage laws. It should be at least as specific/planned to get a court order that you are married as it is to get a court order that you are divorced.

    • Amiisfree, I totally agree, and hope at some point we can get the word out. Marriage is a terrible thing because it is NOT a contract but is enforced like one, dysfunctional. EVERYONE should have a prenup, hell just skip the marriage license and only do the contract.

      • I am on board with this. I am married again now, but if the choice ever arises again, I won’t marry again. I will do POAs and beneficiaries and such as appropriate to a partnership, but not legal marriage. I want to retain ownership of my legal life. Anyway, my order is far stronger than any contract. 🙂

  • I would tell my younger self, “Trust your gut!”
    All the narco-pathic signs of infidelity, deceit, and cover-ups were there. But his skilled ability to gaslight me, and my skill of projecting my empathic character onto him was a recipe for false hope and wasted decades time.
    Yup, you have a good gut. Trust it!

  • I can’t imagine a life with no regrets, sounds boring really. I don’t do woulda, shoulda, coulda any more so I’m not sure what I’d tell my younger self. Maybe just, strap in, it’s going to be one helluva ride & never back down, trust yourself no matter how fucked up things get.

    OTH, I’d definitely take a ticket if I could be a teen or 20 years old again. Wouldn’t care if I retained memories or not because overall, it’s been a life worth living. If it weren’t for pain, how would we know what pleasure truly is.

    OK, I would tell myself one thing; do NOT date that dude, he was a great fuck but he will be a horrible partner. Stay wild!

  • When people disrespect you,don’t “share” your feelings and reveal your soft underbelly to them. Realize that some people are selfish and mean. If they don’t know how to treat others by the time they are 18/19/20 years old, this is who they are-stay away from them !

  • This is such a great question, and one I ask myself all of the time.
    I spent more than 20 years of my life with a man who was clearly completely crappy for me from the start – withholding, using prostitutes within the first 6 months of the relationship. The obvious answer to this would be to tell myself to never go near him (interestingly, I did split up with him very briefly at the very beginning of the relationship but changed my mind, as I then blamed myself for just being avoidant/irrationally scared). But, of course, I then wouldn’t have my children.
    I often used to have the fantasy that I was in a loving relationship with a man who was infertile or that I had chosen to be a single mother, and he had been a sperm donor. Looking back, it is hard to believe that I continued in the relationship, even as I was thinking this. As it is a fantasy, however, as sad as it is to have spent my youth with a highly abusive narcissist, I wouldn’t trade having my children for avoiding this.
    I would, however, change when we separated – and how. My children are 15 and 12, both my girls have genetic disorders with additional needs but my younger was also premie and sick for a long time after she was born. We moved half way around the world when she had just turned 2, with me giving up a great career and family. However, the new country has been good for my kids in ways that possibly my home country wouldn’t have been (pros and cons, hard to know the balance). My career took a nose dive moving here and financially I was much worse off (we came when we did for ex’s career) although I have rebuilt it (although not in all ways that it would have been previously) and am now financially independent from him (although much worse off as he is very high earning, but, as they say – some money is too expensive). As a minimum I wish we had separated at the point I could support myself, which was about 6 years ago. There was much financial infidelity, too, in recent years, and our assets were decimitated by him in this period too. So – I wish I could go back at least 6 years and show myself chump lady, and all of the other resources that confirmed that he was, obviously, as my now therapist put it the first time I met him (although none of the marriage therapists sadly) he is a “controlling, emotionally and psychologically abusive and, at times, cruel man”.
    Maybe I’ll see value in these additional years before we separated, and there are things that were good in these years, despite him (he actually spent very little time with us all which is a bonus).
    I think regret at years wasted is a theme for many on here. I guess we did our best. I hope that in another 20 years, I don’t have to come back and tell myself the same things though!
    Great topic!

    • OutOfSparkles,
      We do the best we can, at the time, with what we know!! Hindsight is always 20/20!

      After reading your posts, the courage you have shown after going through so much right alongside your beautiful children, I would wager, you won’t have to come back in 20 yrs and tell
      Yourself anything other than, I survived, my children survived, life is good. I love this quote by Nikita Gill:

      “You don’t have to prove to anyone just how tough you are./You are still here, and you are still alive despite all of life’s /storms and tornadoes and hurricanes.
      You have weathered them all like a grand old oak tree, and you are still here.
      You are still alive.
      And if that isn’t tough, I don’t know what is”
      —Nikita Gill, Your Soul Is A River

      • Thank you Seeing Clearly – what a beautiful response. Thank you also for your response to my reply about my daughter being suicidal before. From your posts it sounds like you are a wonderful mother to all of your children – and I’m glad your STBX is STBX! Xx

        • OutOfSparkles,
          Just keep seeing yourself as a lioness protecting her cubs! Just remember, we do the best we can, at the time, with what we know.

          You, are a strong, caring, loving mother and your daughter will get through her struggles with you, leading by example and guiding her every step of the way!

  • Don’t waste time wishing for things that aren’t going to happen. I think I saw that on a CL comment one time and it really resonated with me. Easier said than done however.

  • I just went on a site(this might be the one that banned you CL) and there is a conversational about reconciliation. I want to go through my screen and yank a knot in them(an old expression) because some of their spouses have had loooong affairs. Since I think your name is verboten there is no way to get them here unless they already are. I do know they can pm each other but only after 50 posts. I just hope some people here continue to stay on that site to put a little common sense in.

    • Let go,
      I haven’t ventured to the other sites, because my life line at this moment is CN.

      If I did, my response would probably be very close to your viewpoint.

      “Wake the fuck up already! Ignore all the RIC, church, family, friends that give false hope. A tiger never changes his stripes. Trust and believe you are nothing to your cheater, nothing. They view you as if you are just a piece of furniture !! RUN now, before your sanity or possibly your life is in jeopardy “!!!

  • If I could go back in time, I would have majored in the correct field for the profession I entered when my daughter was a baby. Although he appeared supportive, my ex soon expressed that he believes those with this role — TEACHERS — are lazy do-nothing-ers. So, frankly, although I wish I could redo my major and have been a teacher from the start, I know he never would have married me…and then I would never have my two sweet children.

    What I’M really interested in, though, Tracy, and would love to read about are mantras to cope when the unfairness is slapping me in the face. He makes double my salary but insists that we cost-share 50% for all activities for the kids. He believes his child support covers daycare — which I’m praying will be fixed when we go to arbitration next month — so I’m left scraping by at the end of the month. What do I say to myself to alter my mindset so I’m not SO FUMING every time he shows himself to be the opposite of the empath that I am?

  • Geez. Where to start? Don’t be so eager to get married. Have the guts to know you can make it on your own. Pay close attention to how he has treated women in his past. If he cheated on them, he will cheat on you. If there is something about him you feel you have to “spackle” before you can have him meet your parents, pay attention. It is OK if he comes from the wrong side of the tracks, if his character is something to be proud of.

  • Hey younger self:

    Get out of the SPACKLE business, STOP MAKING EXCUSES for him.

    He showed you who he was when he was 18 years old, BELIEVE HIM and GTFO. He abandoned you then and that is who he is! Dump him and don’t tolerate cowardly behavior from any prospective guy.

    Stop feeling like you have to FILL IN THE GAPS in his lazy conversation style. You will always be the one working harder than him on the relationship.

    When you ask a question and he ignores you, LEAVE. Do not stand for rude and passive aggressive behaviors, they do not get better.

    When he is constantly a few minutes late, CARRY ON WITHOUT HIM. This is more passive aggressive behavior- you can’t fix it and carrying on without him will just make him angry, so if this happens a lot it is a clear sign to GTFO.

    When he creates an emotional attachment to another woman and then lies about it for months, KICK THE FUCKER OUT. Don’t pick-me dance. Don’t beg for your marriage. Let the twat have him and watch them implode. There are no unicorns and you are simply wasting time until he pulls that shit again and blames you for it.

    The first time he gets MAD when you got a raise or bonus, KICK HIIM OUT. It doesn’t get better for this man-baby and you will end up hiding every success from him because he can’t handle it. Remember how many men would crawl over glass to have a woman who contributes to the household like you did and get rid of that loser.

    All of these can be summed up by simply insisting that I know my worth and not to settle for doormat status.

  • What would I tell my younger self?

    You are not fat! If I get to the weight I was then, I would be ultra-chuffed. Just because I was curvy then, and saw me from others’ eyes, I considered myself fat. Now when I see the pictures, I just want to hit my own butt for that pervading thought.

    I should have been more assertive at a lot of places, including the times when I was molested. I should not have been the one making excuses and feeling shame…those MEN should have been ashamed.

    I should have been more “wanting” from myself. I should have pushed myself more career-wise.

  • First time poster….
    this is one I struggle with all the time.
    Don’t listen to your father. He has an inferiority complex, he’s sending you messages that you’re not good enough, that you should appreciate scraps and crumbs and be grateful if someone is interested in you, bc he feels like that about himself.
    Don’t date when you don’t want to bc he tells you there are more guys than girls, and you are afraid to be alone. And I can’t change this but I wish there had been someone for you to talk to. Dont talk to him he’ll just minimise your feelings. Stop feeling like no one will marry you – know your worth. And stop all the overthinking (would help if I had known that term and realised I was doing it). If you have doubts and reservations, they are valid even if the people you try to explain them to don’t understand them and no one else will validate it. And don’t let your father make you feel you’re being difficult, challenging, as he has told you your whole life. You have a right to your feelings, your choices, your needs. It’s not always about making other people happy and putting yourself aside to keep the peace(that one is from my mother.) so you marry someone bc you feel guilty saying no, you have worries and it’s not exactly what you want and you feel too young but your father thinks you’re being selfish and difficult. You marry them also bc it’s exciting, saying no would be anticlimax, and you talk and rationalise yourself out of your concerns, bc you cant justify them logically. Still so confusing to me.
    And btw, I have a great relationship with my parents. That’s just who they are and what they modelled to me. My father is just always depressed. But I can’t for the life of me unravel all my issues that led to this choice. I’m so angry with myself….
    it’s like I knew but felt I had no choice… felt I’d come too far to call it off… I am so crazy and it’s all my fault. Who would get married like that? For years I told myself you made your bed you lie in it. You made this choice it’s your tough.

    • Learning boundaries,
      I too, took the “you made your bed, now lie in it” mindset because I felt very stupid and ashamed that I could have been so conned at the age of 40!!
      I know and understand exactly how you feel and it’s very hard to stop that mindset!

      Your father sounds like a bully.

  • Look out for reciprocity.

    As soon as you become an option, walk away.

    That is what I would tell my younger self.

  • The main things I would tell my younger self are:

    RUN from a partner who is conflict-avoidant. If you bring up something that’s bothering you, but in a respectful manner involving curiosity about possible solutions and your partner shuts you down (by going silent, by raging at you, by storming out of the house, by blame-shifting, appearing to comply only to passive-aggressively punish you later, if he obfuscates or any of the other tactics you now know about) RUN.
    This is how he “does” life. He is not interested in getting through the difficult patches to arrive at closer days with you, he only wants the “shiny”, full-of-promise times.

    Similarly, run from a mate who shuns solutions to problems he creates, both those you think of, those the couples counselor thinks of, those that self-help/recovery books come up with, etc. This is a mate more invested in holding onto his autonomy than in helping create more ease and obstacle-free growth in your relationship. Insert Tracy’s cartoon of “You’re Not the Boss of Me!” here.

    Lastly, a person who consistently withholds sexual and affectionate intimacy and forces you into a life of celibacy without regard for how that affects you, RUN. Stop listening to the marriage counselors who all fuss over him and his “earlier traumas” or his “FOO wounds”, or whatever he claims has hijacked his feeling “safe enough” to want to have sex with you.
    View the withholding sex/ intimacy as the passive aggressive “f**k you” towards you that it is. If it’s the only way he can exercise control over you and wrestle away your self-esteem under the pretense of being always tired, or afraid of your anger (at his secretive porn use/massage parlors) or his inability to be aroused at your less than his ideal body type, RUN.

    This list can be so depressing to write out, however, I also know that the incredible LoveMagik these guys sprinkle over us in the first 6 months of the relationship can be so intoxicating, we can get badly hooked in for far too long.
    Thanks to Tracy and CN, we can learn the signposts for what/who we’re really dealing with here.

    • BrokenOpen1,

      Silent treatment should have made me RUN immediately. I had been married for 20 yrs and then late husband died very suddenly at 42 from a rare heart syndrome.

      Had never experienced silent treatment before and it blind sided me / trying to figure out what I’d done wrong/ Discovered much later along with gaslighting and all the other shit / that silent treatment is a favorite narc tactic!

      The damage these evil freaks do is mind blowing !

  • I wouldn’t want to change the fact that I married the Edgar Suit because of my children – no regrets there, but I do wish I could change one particular moment. The first time we had sex, which was the first time ever for me, he said to me “no one should have just one teacher” which is not exactly a nice thing to say to someone 3 minutes after their first sexual experience (which was all of 5 minutes which was about average. Little did I know – literally). If I could do it over again, I would get up, get dressed and say “you’re absolutely right” as I headed out the door.

    • Hi Beth,
      Edgar suit – what an ass!!

      Sweetie, hindsight is always 20/20. I know you have made an amazing life yourself, 5 dogs and all:)

  • I haven’t read all the past posts but I have thought this same thing many times. Hindsite being 20:20, like others have said, I should have seen this coming more than a year ago. I have thought on many occassions I wish I could go back and change things for the better but how do we know they would have been better. I also probably would not be where I am today had I not been married for as long as I have. I would not have an awesome daughter who cares for her father. I would not have the career that I have now and love what I am doing. I also probably would not have moved south to South Carolina like I have. I feel like I am home where I belong but apparently not who I am supposed to be with. I know I have better horizons in the future but now it just stinks bjtnit has been getting better day by day.

  • Don’t try to fix bad peoples behaviour,
    drop them,
    move on,
    and do everything you wanted to do before people told you they couldn’t,
    Stuff them!

    (Trying to teach my teen the balance between listening to your elders and making positive decisions for yourself even if your elders would have chosen differently and don’t like it…. it’s killin’ me! I just want her to be obedient to me but know too that that won’t help her in the big wide world)

  • They say change one thing, change everything. I would do all of it over again just to get my kids. Every single moment of mind-fuckery & abuse. My boys are absolutely amazing, and we have all learned WAAAAY too much from living with a cheating, lying narc. I wish that they hadn’t been subjected to all of his horrifying behavior, because they were discarded as well. They will probably be in therapy for the rest of their lives. They were pretty little when he left, he gave up custody years ago & only gets the mandated visitation. So it’s pretty much the boys & I and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

  • Well….. not sure past a few financial decisions I would change. Really the first 20 years with kids was not that bad. What I would inform myself of is the moment she wanted a separation, file divorce. That would have saved me 4 plus years of total hell! I have been blessed with two great kids and would not have them without her. Yes, I could have picked better…. maybe. But wouldn’t trade them for anything. The stress and scars from the 4 years will never go away. Leaving her would have hurt but nothing like the pain she inflicted during that time!