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Dear Chump Lady, Can’t quite shake the rejection…

Dear Chump Lady,

Long-timer lurker, first-time writer. Post-abandonment three main issues keep reverberating around my head:

1. My ex’s (geographically distant) family didn’t say goodbye. He told them that “‘We decided’ to end our marriage.” (Um, no. He tossed me aside like a bag of garbage two days after I learned that he had had a sequence of affairs with colleagues.) Reeling from the two-day whirlwind of discovery and his divorce pronouncement, I sent his family a nonspecific goodbye email. (My thinking was that my ex’s family didn’t deserve to be hurt by being told what a lousy person my ex was/is, and–deluded–I likely didn’t want to endanger a possibility of reconciliation.) Frankly, given the circumstances, I thought my goodbye was charming. None of them responded. We were never particularly close, but his parents were always very kind to me and I thought I successfully demonstrated my affection for them. Unfortunately, the separation/to-be divorce coincided with my ex moving overseas for an impressive new job, an event that I’m sure suggested that I refused to move and support his new work opportunity. (Not the case.) Being tossed aside by them as well as him hurts like a motherf$*&%#. I’m seven months out from D-day, but unhealthy imaginary conversations still loop through my head in which I imagine clarifying the end of my marriage with his family. No matter which way I slice it, there’s no way that providing accurate information with them would work out in my favour. How do I get past wanting them to know he’s a cheating von cheatinheimer who has wronged me horrendously? (I don’t see how this information would ever naturally trickle down to them; plus, my thinking that they shouldn’t have to deal with knowing their family member is a jerk hasn’t really changed.)

2. My ex’s stated reason for leaving is that I am “incapable of being happy.” (So how could he do anything but ditch me? I was going to constantly ruin his chance at a happy life!) What a doozy of a head game. It causes me to endlessly question my daily living in the 13 years of our relationship (11 years of marriage). (With the exception of his work life, where my ex was all responsibility, all the time, I was the responsible one who cleaned, repaired, and worried about finances. I am certainly pragmatic and reasonable but I’ve never thought of myself as incapable of happiness.) This criticism also makes me second-guess myself post-abandonment. Now when I’m grumpy on a Monday morning before a new work week, I experience “Oh my, he was right; I’m incapable of being happy” seepage. When I stress about a broken appliance, I feel obliged to put a positive spin on my concerns, because otherwise he is right and I somehow deserve to have been left. Can you help me see this reason as a gem of narcissism rather than an indicator that I’m a miserable person?

3. He’s ghosted me. There were two days between discovery day and my ex telling me that he wanted a divorce (this was the first I had heard that he was reconsidering our marriage and had been reconsidering it for a year); the next day he moved in with his girlfriend (cuz I wanted him out); three weeks later he had moved overseas for his new job). Colour me a blindsided, abandoned chump.

Unlike many of my fellow CN members, my ex doesn’t goad me into regular-contact ego pacification. Despite his desire to “be friends,” we communicate only about our separation agreement (we don’t have kids). So then I sometimes weirdly feel like he is a better brand of cheater because he is not continually messing with my head: “Hurray! He ‘just’ abandoned me and walked away from our marriage without looking back or caring how I’m doing! I’m so fortunate!” But really “better brand of cheater,” in my weak moments, means that I somehow deserved to be left more than chumps with cheaters who can’t leave them alone and/or that my ex is more deserving of being missed than the average serial cheater because he has risen above suckling at the triangulation kibble teat.

… Hmmm, I’m realizing that I don’t have a question with point 3. I’m just lost in skein untangling. Perhaps what I’m looking for is some Chump Lady snark that will somehow soften my pain. Yes, it’s come to this. I need the man to whom I devoted 13 years of my life to be mocked so I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Sigh.


Stella (like I’m trying to get my groove back)

Dear Stella,

Yep, you just have an ordinary Trust That They Suck problem. You keep untangling and going, “Wow, he sucks… but can I be sure?” Untangle… tangle…. tangle… Gordian knot… “I think this requires further research!” Untangle… tangle… tangle…

Let’s draw a conclusion here, shall we? Call it “closure” — he sucks. And his family sucks too.

Not convinced? I’ll take your fears one by one.

1. My ex’s (geographically distant) family didn’t say goodbye. You’re perfectly within your rights to challenge his self-serving narrative “Stella refused to move with me, ergo we’re divorcing.” If that would give you peace of mind, say, “It’s taken me 7 months to find my nerve to tell you this, but Fuckwit has been cheating on me for years with his co-workers.” (Betty, Sally, Slutface… whatever, name names.) “I didn’t want you to think this divorce was my idea.”

It’s okay to do this to make YOURSELF feel better, but please let go of any expectations that it will sway his family in any way. When they got your first party line goodbye, they may have been rightly confused. “Why is Stella breaking up with us so suddenly (albeit charmingly)?”

However, someone who actually gave a shit, would’ve reached out to you and asked “STELLA! OMG, What is going ON?! We were so alarmed to receive your letter!”

Perhaps they were stung. Perhaps they’re shallow and don’t care. Perhaps your cheating husband has been at the Stella Sucks narrative longer than you know.

Doesn’t matter. They’ll probably continue to stay completely out of your life. The only person who will be upset by this revelation is your cheater. And you’re working out a separation agreement with him. So consider your timing. Why not get that out of the way, and then drop the bomb?

Don’t worry that his family will think he’s a jerk. He’s a jerk. If you want to tell them the truth, do it for you, but expect no results. In divorce, families break up. Cheaters get their families. These people (with rare exceptions) are NOT on your team.

2. My ex’s stated reason for leaving is that I am “incapable of being happy.” That’s classic projection. He’s the one fucking his co-workers. He’s the one who, never sated, gorged at the pussy buffet. His behavior says everything about HIM — he’s incapable of appreciating what he had.

He doesn’t know your internal life. If your heart swells at the sight of puppies or whatever. He doesn’t know what brings you joy. He can only speak for himself — NOT you. The responsible thing to have done is say: “I am unhappy. I want to break up.” He didn’t do that — ergo he’s blameshifting — YOU’re not happy.

You don’t need to put a “positive spin” on being abandoned. It sucks. You’ll grieve for awhile, and then you’ll get this fuckwit out your head and you’ll stop internalizing his rejection.

It’s okay to be unhappy sometimes. People who are being chumped and gaslighted tend to be less than their optimal selves. You know what solves this problem? Getting rid of the cheater.

3. He’s ghosted me. That says everything about him and nothing about you. He cheated on you for years and bailed when you discovered. Time to move on to greener chump pastures. You’re sullied, because you know. Abandonment is the elegant, simple solution if you’ve got no depth of character or empathy synapses.

That is ZERO reflection on you. NONE.

Look, he might still circle back if he senses you could be of use. So quit pining for a fuckwit! Put this in perspective ASAP. The faster you go no contact, the faster you heal.

The more you’re gooey for him, the more he can take advantage. Heck, he doesn’t have to work that hard! So, please tell me you’ve got an ace divorce lawyer on top of this, as you “work out” that settlement.

Hang in there, Stella. This crap is finite. Joy is out there waiting for you.

The cartoon “Rejection Man” is copyrighted and appears in “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life” (Hachette, 2016). 

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  • Oh Stella, forget him ~ forget his family.

    I got abandoned too with no notice, dumped on the curb like a bag of trash after 17 years of marriage and 30 years of what I thought of being his best friend. I was always there for him ~ even to the point of bailing him out of many drunken episodes and caring if he got home safe to sleep off that drunk. Even to the point of thinking he would someday appreciate all the things I had done for us and I kept my marriage vows of for better or worse. He didn’t.

    It took so long to realize that I was in love with who I thought he was and not the man himself. So long.

    You will recover ~ you will someday feel better. I never thought I would, but I am getting better every day. Every day I realize he abandoned us for he never was really invested in us. Only him.

    Let him go, let his family go.

    You deserve so much better as do I.

    • His family is never going to understand or empathize, so I would not even consider what they think about why your marriage ended. I recently encountered X’s family at my daughter’s wedding. They were worse than X, by far! They were included in the festivities because they are also a part of my daughter’s family, but some of them thought they needed to stand up for his character. Haha. Don’t worry, we just ignored them and they ended up isolating themselves from the fun. It didn’t spoil her day at all.

      So please, please do not expect that cheater’s family will ever “understand” what happened or accept that he is a cheater. They won’t, and you will drive yourself crazy trying to explain anything about his character to them. Just be the great person you are and leave those people in your rearview mirror! They may be nice, but they are now officially “someone that you used to know.”

      • It hurts when you are replaced with the other woman! They were my family too for more than 25 years but they act like it was my fault because he was unhappy and cheated. He married the other woman to show how special she was and how he was right for leaving me. All is well now because he is happy!

    • “It took so long to realize that I was in love with who I thought he was and not the man himself.”

      Excellent point. I think I was in love with who I thought he was — and who I wanted him to be — and who I fervently believed he COULD be…

      In hindsight, I gave him far more credit than he deserved.

      • Yes, the CL doctrine of “trust that they suck” is hard to grasp sometimes, at least for me. My fiancé cheated on me several decades ago and I could never understand why. We were a perfect couple – everybody said so – and yet she chose to hand me the mother of all betrayals while my head was in the clouds (pregnant by another). I walked away and never looked back – totally no contact – I’ll drink poison before I ever let her know she crushed me – but still I grieve, even decades later. I think, “what did I do to cause this?” yet I know it’s all on her and not my fault. She sucks, to be sure, but I still can’t bet my head around it (unravel the skein). CN helps.

        • Ditto, IT. The only difference is, mine did not get pregnant. She just got crab lice, and “gave” them to me. Then, she had the audacity two years later to send me a hoover by proxy through a mutual friend requesting that I call her. That was decades ago. She is still waiting for that call!

          Like you, I will never get my head around it all, but am forever grateful that I dodged that bullet. You should be too.

      • “It took so long to realize that I was in love with who I thought he was and not the man himself.”

        I think one of the reasons I was abandoned is that “I was in love with who HE thought he was” (until I started to stop accepting his image of himself without question). For 12’ish years, I bought into the idea that he was a special calibre of devoted and loyal…someone swayed by important ideas, not base desires, who should be supported because his work was so important and all-consuming. But as I began to question his inattention and how small my needs had gotten (only on a surface level, I had no idea that my marriage was jeopardy), his divine image was challenged. He needed to put distance between himself and me. As CL wrote, “You’re sullied, because you know.” I think it’s easier for him to malign me than to acknowledge how far from his own ideals he is. Over the past year, he’s found other women who will swoon over him unquestioningly.

    • Me too! I got dumped by text message! After 27 years of marriage and 37 years of being together. His final lines in the text message thanked me for being a loving wife and a great friend! This is after I caught him and his young stupid omw in the swamp in our food van, she was naked! He is impotent 62, she is 38! They all suck! It’s part of the personality cluster

      • Heavens, you got a thank you for being wonderful? Validation and an eyeful. Lovely.
        Yuck bet those two complete ding dongs will last a few more minutes!

      • Oh that was similar to mine! Worthless “yes you’re my best friend but you’re too heavy now after 30 years” and she’s a strapping 36 (same age as his daughter, which alone is sick) bartender at the golf club. Yes he said that and mind you I’m about 25 lbs overweight. But I Think about him having to pay a bit until he’s 70 and I smile, after all he now has to support her kids one of which is only 10. He’s so stupid and my kids put up with him and his family a bit but all 3 won’t even let him speak about the skank. I did the same thing “created someone I wished and hoped he would be but not who he really was.” It does get better. Immerse yourself in something you enjoy.

  • Life is better on the other side Stella.
    Put the energy you’ve been using to untangle the skein into getting that settlement worked out ASAP. The sooner the better! Tell your attorney (yes, you need an attorney) you want the super fast deluxe divorce package and ask what you can do to hasten the process. Then do it. Contact about the settlement is still contact and is still keeping you on a string.

    After that embrace No Contact, the path to the truth and the light. Go into the light Stella. This isn’t Poltergeist, all the best you can imagine for yourself lies in No Contact.

    Then fix you. Figure out how and why you got into that relationship. Why you stayed and why you put up with the crap you did (see your note about having to be responsible for everything) in an inequitable relationship. Fix that so you never do it again.

    Proceed to the other side.
    Life is better on the other side.
    You can do this. You can find peace and happiness for your soul….and the rest of you too.
    Trust that he sucks.

  • Stella – let me line up behind CL and agree – his character flaws are his to own, not you. He was happy with you – um, until he wasn’t one day. That isn’t the sign of a healthy, empathetic individual. Never will be. It’s the hallmark calling card of a narc.

    I’m sorry you are going through this. I’m 3.5 years out since D-day#4 and 1 year since the divorce was final. Those conversations you’re having in your head (with everyone) will subside. I started carrying a journal with me everywhere and whenever I started I having one, I’d write it out. It helped me process my feelings and more importantly, the more distance and time and no contact I had, the more I could look back on those writings with objectivity and see how much better I was without him (and his OW).

    I know this is painful – but you will survive and thrive one day. Stop delaying and do whatever you legally can in your country to get the divorce going. Take back your power. I have this vision of Heath Ledger as the Joker standing in a nurses uniform and blowing up everything behind him and he just sort of looks at it and shrugs… consider this image as a totem for you… blow up everything you believed about your past and walk away… look to the future without this fuckwit. You dodged a serious bullet and have been given a second chance in life.. use it wisely.

    And, keep coming back to share your strength as time passes… because with time comes the inevitable change that will lead you to peace.

    • Ha ha. I may be “incapable of happiness” but I’m feeling perfectly gleeful while thinking about myself as the Joker in that scene (which I can picture in my head). (Can I also be wearing the “bitch boots” mentioned by Kimmy below)? One thing I won’t be blowing up from my past is all the marvelous friends who supported me through this. Just as I’ve been blindsided by unexpected cruelty in the past year, I’ve also been left breathless by the compassion and consideration of others.

      Thank you to everyone who posted today. It is uplifting to have been in so many people’s thoughts. This experience has sometimes made me feel lonely, but not today. In turn, I wish you all good fortune, strength, and your own Tuesday celebrations.

      • Read your letter and it broke my heart a little; you probably WERE incapable of being super-happy… … … because you were worn out from being an acolyte and making yourself as small as humanly possible, because you were being used and even if you weren’t fully aware of it, no one runs on empty forever. No one. We’re humans, reciprocity is normal, not bean-counting, but you need to be giving AND getting for a relationship to be truly loving. Now, giving and getting takes a lot of forms and varies over time, but even when you speak of his family, it’s as though you had to put in lots and lots and lots of work to PROVE to them how worthy you are. Did they ever, even one time, work super-hard to try and make you feel good and acknowledge you independent of him?

        I would guess this would have been a rare occurrence.

        In the future, when you feel more equable (and you will!), be very sure reciprocation of the real and ongoing sort is happening and don’t minimise the things that are important to you. It will be hard, but it must be done. ”You’re an unhappy person”… why yes HAROLD, I am. Do you think it could be that you aren’t as wonderful as you initially thought?? What a turd.

        And FYI, being unhappy is a mood. Moods change. There are always reasons for unhappiness, be it mild or severe. Surely a wonderful person such as him would have sought to try and understand WHY his wife appliance was so… grumpy ALL THE TIME (as you apparently were, for YEARS Stella, years!) What a nasty man. ”My wife was unhappy so I dumped her”. Nice one dude.

  • So, that is his self-serving narrative. You don’t have to agree with it for yourself. Have your own based on the truth. He cheated and left as soon as he was caught. It is not about you never being happy. This is about him not liking the consequences of his betrayals and playing a coward by running away.

    • Exactly.

      A bit of spin clarifies the image a bit, too – actually, you could never be happy with him once you knew he was capable of being so cruel and deceptive. He, unlike you, already knew that you would be unhappy once you found out, so, in his mind you were already there.

      You can ONLY be happy again once his cruelty and deception are in your taillights. So, even if he WAS right, the onus for the unhappy situation would still be on him as the cruel and deceptive pain-creator. It wouldn’t be your flaw if you felt pain because you broke your leg. It wouldn’t be a flaw in you if you chose to avoid jumping off rooftops because you don’t want to break your leg.

      So, it isn’t your flaw to want your life partner to be honest and faithful so your heart and home and relationship will stay healthy and bring joy to both partners.

    • So true!! It works for them and anyone that will listen. Sadly my adult children believe his lies and feel sorry for him. He told them how he was unhappy for years but stayed with me because he wanted to keep them happy. I was wrong to kick him out when they were both seniors because I was mad at him for loving a coworker.
      He never mentioned his years of unhappiness until I caught him in the midst of an affair with an affair. Not his first affair but the first one I could prove. He married her just to prove his point.
      He is their hero…

  • Hi Stella,

    Be glad it is only 13 years and not 30 like me. I have come to the realization my stbx was a narc. His backstabbing narrative to his family about me lasted for years. They dropped me as well – like a piece of trash. It has taken me a few years to realize – it was him all along with the problem. They never change – he will do the same to his new supply. You are so lucky he doesn’t bother you any more. Find a new beautiful life. Be happy – your best revenge!

  • My father in law told me he didn’t have a dog in this race but he would pray for me. This after 28yrs of marriage.

    • Cheaters come out of certain twisted family systems, don’t they? What a jerk. Apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

      Stay mighty. You deserve better. Much, much better.

    • Wow. If his own son isn’t considered “a dog in this race” than it’s no wonder he wasn’t sympathetic to you. You’re better of without him/them.

    • My XFIL never spoke to me the second time CancerCock left, and indeed, actively and publicly supported the married mistress. XFIL had been a serial cheater on his wife back in the day, though, but supposedly repented of it. Guess he was gleeful to have his son turn out the same way so he had less to feel bad about himself.

      XMIL was much kinder and openly very sad about the whole thing.

      10 years in their family and none of them have said a word to me since everything came to light. Could be shame, could be hate.

      I’m relieved to be rid of people who support adulterers.

  • In most of these relationships we realize after the BD how one sided the relationship really is.

    I was the adult in my marriage and he was the giant man child who left garbage on the floor and needed a motorcycle and a new truck while I drove a car so old it had no AC.

    So, to think that they are going to end the marriage like an adult is unreasonable.

    I projected onto my x values, morals and what I thought he should be as a partner.
    But those were my wishes – in the end he lacked integrity and I cannot change that.

    Yeah – when you have to be the parent not a partner in your marriage – you tend not to be the fun one.

    However, I am a whole lot happier and much more fun now that I am divorced!!!

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking! Stella wore herself out all day catering to him, and she was frazzled when they saw each other. I’ll bet you a dollar HE was no fun.
      We need to take care of ourselves! I learned that after my divorce, and much of it from CN. My FOO taught me to cater to others, and that I was a lesser human, I was real Narc bait (and my Mom, Dad, and brother are all Narcs) My X always said I was ‘so serious’, because I was adulting all the time ????
      I was really just running around in circles caring for others. Life is so much more fun now, since I’ve tossed that mantle off! (I love on myself, and then reafch out to others second)

    • @Lucky, it sounds like I married your x’s twin. Garbage everywhere, motorcycle, new truck (also full of garbage). Mine would tell me: “Face it. We live in a dirty house. And you’re as big a slob as everyone else.” Um, no. He was blame shifting. One look inside my car or around my bathroom sink will tell you differently. (The master bath has 2 sinks.)

      I spent a lot of years expecting the respect I showed him to be returned and expecting him to support me when i tried to teach the children self-discipline. All fruitless.

      Finally I realized that he had no respect for himself, therefore he was incapable of respecting me or teaching the children to respect me.

    • Lucky, I had a car so old that it broke down continuously. He went out and bought himself a brand new truck with all the extras, long range fuel tank, fridge in the back, tent on the roof. I asked and asked for a new car (even a second hand one that didn’t break down) and was told no, I can make do with what I have. I can’t believe I put up with that crap!!!

      • Mine bought himself an expensive sports car, (he paid cash) then kept telling me and everyone else that I also deserved a new car, and when I was ready he’d be right there to pay for it. (That justified his purchase of the sports car.)

        When my faithful old Honda finally died he helped me tow it home and pick up a rental. But pay for the new one? Sorry, he couldn’t help. I was on my own, with a surprise 5-year car note I could barely afford.

        A few months later I made arrangements for a big family vacation to a national park. My parents used to take me and my sibs on such trips every year. We had never taken our own kids; the money was never there (see “sports car” above). But high school graduation was approaching for the oldest boy; it was now or never. Reservations were required months in advance. Ditto non-cancellable airplane ticket purchases. I had enough credit available on my personal VISA card (barely) but only had a little money left in my budget (see “surprise car note” above).

        He encouraged me to make the reservations at the nice in-park hotel and book the flights. “Don’t worry about it. When the bill comes due I’ll pay it for you.” I was stupid enough to believe him.

        Yes, the kids had a fabulous trip. But he paid for Not. One. Thing. It was just another one of his Image Management empty promises. It took me more than two years to pay for that trip.

        Oh yes, he also got drunk every night while we were there and refused to join us for anything before noon.

  • Here’s a fear none of us want to say out loud (especially with kids)-The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
    A buddy asked me what her parents said when I filed. They didn’t even attempt to contact me I informed him. “That tells you all you need to know ” was the response.
    Be glad they’re all out of your life.

    • My ex in-laws staged an intervention during DD2. They asked me to come down to the house and share with them the reasons I was taking my 2 bio kids and moving out. Why did they get I involved? Because after I told ex I was moving out for good (after a 3 week ultimatum) and he couldn’t rage me, guilt me or verbally abuse me enough to change my mind, he decided that it wasn’t his job to tell his two sons that I was leaving. I told ex that I refused to be there with my children when his sons found out because I didn’t want my children to be hurt if they jumped for joy or said something stupid. (These two boys were just as difficult as their father). So ex called his parents crying that I was just. So. Mean.

      Off I go to their house, lay out all the reasons I am leaving. They are calm. Nod their heads yes. He shows up. They turn to him and tear him to shreds yelling at him that all of my reasons are valid and these are all if the issues they have told him over the years that he needed to seek professional help for. He cries. They tell him to man-up and tell his damn kids himself.

      We go home and I put my kids to bed and take a bath. He comes in the bathroom and tells me he told the boys. Ok, I say, what did you tell them the reason was? He told the oldest boy it was his fault. Sigh. I leap out of the tub and run down to tell oldest boy it is NOT his fault. The ex couldn’t even get that part right.

      As for ex’s parents: they laid it on thick and even told me I was like a daughter to them, they were so sad I was leaving it was like They were breaking up with me. Lots of hugs and tears.

      Now? During dd5 I approached them privately and asked them if they thought a reconciliation with him would work. His dad laid it on thick: he could see how much we lived each other blah blah blah, his mother a bit more reserved. But they both admitted ex hadn’t changed since I had left 6 months earlier. If anything he was worse.

      Found out later that they knew he had been sleeping with other women during our break ups, and lied to my face when I asked them point blank. (Ex also lied but I found many messages etc After the fact).

      Hence Dd5. I left that asshole again.
      I also wrote them a nice goodbye letter. Crickets. Send them condolence cards when grandma died. Crickets.

      Heard they were pissed when ex’s Ex wife and I became friendly. And guess what she ex wife told me one night? “Sometimes I miss ex’s parents. We were pretty tight. They always told me I was like their daughter….”

      So his parents have the same bullshit con their son does. Tells all of ex’s girlfriends the same line. Why was i surprised by this?

      Took me a long time to get over his parents betrayal. Ex’s betrayl was bad enough. But then theirs? Sometimes I still have those conversations in my head about what I would say if I ran in to them….but now? Not as frequently. And they really are shit. Just like their son. Took a long time for that to sink in. I mean, bottom line is: they created the monster.

        • I laughed when you wrote that. Reminds me of something my dad said.

          My dad had to help me move some of my stuff out of his house with his van and as we are driving away from ex’s house I start crying. My dad is incredulous. “Why are you crying?” He asks me,
          “Because I will.miss his parents…” I cry
          “ChumpedinCanada,” my dad says, “that family is the Jerry Springer show. I have never met a family with more drama….Cant you see they were just using you so they didn’t have to deal with his bullshit so often? Jerry Springer, I’m telling you…..”

          My family and friends were cheering my escape. I cried for a long time over the whole situation.
          Now? I just shake my head and think of God looking down at me saying “girl, you sure like to learn your lessons the hard way….”

      • ChumpedinCanada? I liked the fact that his parents yelled at him. That they had been telling him that he is messed up and needed help.

    • DunChumpin, you are so right: Here’s a fear none of us want to say out loud (especially with kids)-The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

      CheaterX and I had no children, but CheaterX’s Cheater Brother did have children with his first wife. Yes, Cheater Brother cheated. CheaterX and Cheater Brother had a role model: Cheater Father.

      I don’t know the nieces well because my late in-laws were always a bit weird about the whole family situation with the nieces. Certainly the younger one had loads of problems (self-harm behaviors apparent in a grade-schooler). That said, both seem to have grown up and become fine young women.

      At any rate, it was clear that both of the nieces thought that CheaterX was more what they wanted their own father to be like. I thought they’d be let down, and I didn’t want them to find out via Facebook.
      Therefore, when I was filing, I contacted their mother to give a heads-up. The mom actually had me call her and we talked an hour! When I contacted the younger daughter, she wrote a very kind email back, and said about CheaterX, “when you plant corn, you get corn.”

      For what it’s worth, neither of the nieces is Facebook friends with their father.

  • Stella, you are my brother. His wife was acting a little distant, he asked if she was ok, she said she was leaving, and left. She abandoned a husband and young children and never came home. He was so grief stricken I don’t know how he survived, except I do. He got so angry that it carried him through the divorce and getting full custody. He opened up to dating and found a wonderful woman. He moved on and he was a man who had loved her from the time they were very young. Be him. Get angry, but do it quietly. Get the divorce and finances done then say what you have to say or write what you have to write but accept CL’s wisdom. He doesn’t give a damn about you or anyone else. I don’t know what makes these people the way they are but the best way to view them is in your rear window. His family is his family. Leave them behind as well. They helped make him who he is.

    • Yes but if the cheater keeps contact, your precious children have to be around him and the family that made him who he is spinning their lies of “daddy needs to be happy”and “he didn’t hurt you, just mummy and he didn’t mean to” To let your children be around them without you to make sure this isn’t happening is a horrifying thought and keeps me well and truly stuck. MIL says “men will be men” and is a cheater herself. It goes against every maternal instinct to allow her and her values and morals around my children.

      • If there is a parent willing to stay in a child’s life and do so in a healthy way there’s very little you can do about it. Alienation of parental affection is becoming something lawyers use in court. You do not want to be accused of that. You don’t have to be around those people at all. Your children can go, and play, and do, and visit, and when they come home if they say that their grandparents, or their dad, or someone else says something about you you can defend yourself. If you have a lawyer keep them apprised of what is going on. One thing about children that is inevitable is they grow up. And most of the time their grandparents become 150 on their list of priorities. As long as you show yourself to be a decent person you can get through this.

  • Your letter could have been written by me! Being several years past you, let me just add part of my own story to CL’s response in the hope that it helps you.

    1. Upon discovery of the at least 12 year affair with his law partner and someone I considered a close family friend, I drove to see my mother-in-law. I woke her up, hysterically told her what I found out and we were both in tears. She was as shocked and upset as I was!
    Fast forward 8 years, I have no relationship with any of his family members. We were very close, I know I was an amazing daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and world class aunt.
    While I feel sad that I will never see my 95 year old mother-in-law again, it is best to let it go. Keep the happy memories, know you were the best relative you could be and keep your friends and any of your own family close (I only have one sibling but he, his family and my friends are my family). Even one person who loves you with all their heart is better than dozens willing to walk away!

    2. Look deep inside you and you will know you are capable of great happiness.
    Do you take a deep breath and feel good when you experience a beautiful sunset, fresh snow, a perfect beach day, a baby’s smile, a perfect flower or a cute puppy?
    If so, you know what happiness is. Go find more of what makes you happy! The rest is just “noise”.

    3. Ghosting was the end of my 29 year marriage and hasn’t changed since. Yes, it’s frustrating. But, anyone here will tell you that ghosting is better than swooping back in. I know, I find it hard to believe, too. CN is a place of honesty and I’m going to believe them.
    Your ex may not care or ever admit it to you, but he is very much aware of the truth. Actually, the two of you are the only people in the world that know the true details of the relationship between the two of you (forget the other person – they really don’t count at all regarding ghosting).
    Trust me when I tell you that hoping you get anything from your ex is like hitting your head against a brick wall!
    Don’t hit your head anymore. You have flowers, sunsets and puppies to smile at!
    Some inspiration – I love the beach, it makes me happy. It took me several years, but I moved to a perfect house at the beach and found my peace. Go find yours and all the questions and doubts will fade (perhaps not necessarily disappear, but definitely fade enough).

    • Beautiful post Rebecca!

      I am sorry for all your pain, but good for you, your “first writing” to CL is very wise.
      You will find answers here, from CN, as well as hearts as big as the ocean, who will reach out to you, 24/7.

      Always remember, it is not you, it is him.
      Write down what is in your heart, what you want to say to your MIL, tuck these thoughts away. After your settlement is completed you will know whether you want to share these true facts with her and the rest of his family or not. But that is what they are, TRUE facts.
      YOU know this, and that is what matters most.
      Try to be kind to yourself Stella, you did nothing wrong.

  • Stella,

    Okay first off your stbx is not “Mr. Responsibility” at work if he’s having sex with a string of colleagues. At best my late grandma would tell you that he is shitting where he eats. At worst, a potential claim for sexual harassment. He sucks. Learn it. Internalize it.

    CL is right about the in laws too. They will take the side of their cheating offspring 99.9% of the time. Blood is thicker than water and all that. Don’t sweat it, chances are pretty good his family sucks too.

    Finally pain is pain. Being abandoned sucks and being constantly mind fucked sucks. There are no winners when it comes to cheating fuckwits. Grieve the end of your marriage because that is sad. Grieve for the person you thought your husband was. When that process is over you can move on.

    Don’t stop to try to figure him out. You aren’t wired the same way so there is no point. Hopefully you’ve got an attorney and you can get this divorce done and go complete no contact.

    He was too much of a coward to face you after he was discovered and nobody deserves to be treated like that. This is all on him!

    • “Mr. Responsible at work”

      Yes, this stuck out for me, too. It’s more likely he used work as an excuse to work late with his affair partners.

  • My ex’s not geographically distant family (which is pretty much just my ex MIL) never said a word to me after the divorce was announced. Not one word after being a part of her family for 30 years. Honestly though, I don’t care. She is every bit as toxic as my ex (she raised him after all) and I’m relieved to have her continual I’m-judging-you-and-finding-you-lacking energy out of my life. She admitted to my kids that she never asked my ex what the cause of the divorce was because she didn’t want to know. I’m guessing she’s having a hard time avoiding the unpleasant reality now that she’s met his former (?) stripper, convicted felon gf, who is now his fiancé. ???? The other side of the coin is that when one of my relatives was revealed to be a hypocritical Jesus cheater having an affair while his wife was battling cancer, I had no hesitation about supporting her and not him. It’s all about character – I have it, his wife has it and he does not – that makes it pretty simple to me. Just because he’s related to me doesn’t mean I have to condone his shitty behavior.

    Stella, you’re better off without any of them. Put down the skein, get that cheater and his crappy family out of your life and fill the vacuum they leave with good people of character who will support you and enrich your life.

  • Stella, your story is almost a copy of mine.

    The fact that your ex’s family is “silent” (in this case “silence” means this family sucks, is shallow, selfish and, above all, not worth a second of your thoughts). I admit that I still kick myself for having wasted 40 years of dedication, interest, all forms of help and resources and being thoughtful on a bunch of petty, self-interested jerks. I wish there were some pill I could take to obliterate these memories. However, I do not waste time WONDERING why they are silent. Trust that they suck, there is no other understanding involved that explains this silence.

    My ex’s “official” story is that “we grew apart”. And I reply with CL’s snark: well, he forgot to send me the memo about this, but did not forget to keep sending me the bills. Or to recruit me to help recover his AP’s suitcase lost while on a trip with ex. Etc. Talk about being a chump.

    Please believe CL: except for being a well intentioned chump, this is not about you. I hope CN is helping you to get over this awful person and gain a life. Take care.

  • I’ll be damned if Imma hand over my right to my own Identity to some morally bankrupt fuckwit to define me. This asshole is engaging in so much Projection he might as well be a multiplex movie theater.

  • They’re not happy, you don’t make them happy, somebody needs to be happy……”I just want to be happy!” I’ve had it with the whole happy/unhappy crap. If they’re that unhappy, then they should just be honest with their spouse and divorce them. Be upfront and honest and end the marriage.

    But that never seems to be what they do, is it? No, they need to throw in affairs, hiding money, gaslighting, blameshifting, etc. It’s ridiculous of course. After all, we lived in the same marriage as they did, and it never occurs to us to do any of these things even once to our spouse – let alone do it all the time for months or years.

    No, the whole happy/unhappy thing is just another popular excuse they use that has the right amount of vagueness along with some deflection, projection and blameshifting mixed in for good measure.

    • Question: when they come out of nowhere and say I want a divorce because I’ve been unhappy and have feelings toward one of your friends, wouldn’t you expect to work it out (eg counseling) before moving out? I’m just referring to what you said above with “If they’re that unhappy, then they should just be honest with their spouse and divorce them. Be upfront and honest and end the marriage”

      We tried to work on it for 2 months while I was in school before he really did move out and abandon me. I keep thinking back “did he do the right thing and just leave me cause he was so unhappy?” 7 months later, found out he was seeing my friend behind my back but at the time of him leaving, I was just hurt he left.

      • I had this conversation with my ex at the end. If she wanted to just divorce me, yes I would have been upset, and yes I would have tried to work it out with her (I even tried after learning about the A). But there’s no law that makes somebody stay married, so if she was that miserable, I couldn’t make her stay and I wouldn’t be able to make her try. People get divorced all of the time, it would have sucked, but it’s something that I could at least understand.

        My problem is that that wasn’t what happened in my marriage. She had an affair for several years (unbeknownst to me of course) leading up to the ILYBINILWY speech and the “I’m not happy, don’t you want to be happy, etc.” I didn’t find out about the A until after these speeches and starting to investigate what had suddenly changed. Combine that with spending the last few years of our marriage using me to pay her debts, having me buy all of these expensive things (just prior to the speeches) that of course ended up with her in the divorce, and basically lying to me on a daily basis right up until the end – and then blaming me for it all of course. It just made the end of our marriage about as bad and as ugly as it could possibly be. We have no friendship now, no trust, and no relationship (other than as co-parents) to speak of. It didn’t have to be that way.

        • That’s just it. If they are truly unhappy they should leave before they stray. Either you are worth leaving or you aren’t. One shouldn’t need a replacement first to determine whether or not to keep the original. Also, the presence of the AP makes the whole “I was unhappy” thing suspect. Were they unhappy before they cheated, or did they convince themselves they were unhappy after they cheated to justify it? One could argue that they wouldn’t cheat unless they were unhappy, but that doesn’t necessarily follow. They may just have been curious, wanted cake or been flattered by somebody else’s attention. It never occurred to them that they were unhappy until they let themselves be tempted by others. Either that or they are unhappy, but they are cowards who can’t stand the idea of being alone so they go shopping for the replacement first. These are the most selfish because the have no problem trusting you into the very scenario they were look to avoid because they couldn’t handle it themselves (being left without a romantic partner).

          • “One shouldn’t need a replacement first to determine whether or not to keep the original. ”

            Since I moved to his country after the marriage I had to go through all the required paperwork validating my legal stay there as his spouse. Not long after I moved he started “joking” that he would take me back to my country’s embassy and ask for a replacement, like recycling empty beer bottles before buying a new sixpack. He would then laugh at his “sharp tongue and creativity” and repeat this at every occasion with his friends. Embassies should take their products back – hahaha!

            I heard this for 12 years – as long as his affair and our marriage was. And I was also not capable of happiness. I am now.

          • Cheaters are emotionally immature, selfish and are constantly living in their fantasy world. They just can’t accept life as it is and continually search for someone to make them feel “happy”. How many posts have we read with the same traits over and over. The more reliable and normal and loving their spouse appears the more insecure they become. Then along comes Schmoopie and they run off to find true “happiness” only to discover the butterflies and mystery eventually disappear. So again they start the search for the illusory fantasies they believe will make them “happy”. Meanwhile, life is ongoing, children are marrying, buying new houses, getting promoted, grandchildren are thriving and graduating, life is happening without them.

          • Per Chumpinrecovery’s post: the chicken and egg happiness/unhappiness thing, I think my ex was unhappy in other areas of his life and I ended up getting the blame for that because he couldn’t acknowledge that he was capable of making any bad decisions.

            Re: his cheating. According to how he tells it (which I know can’t be trusted), he had three emotional affairs; the first starting in fall 2016. The first two colleagues live internationally so he didn’t really have physical access to them. The third colleague, and the one that I caught him out on, lives locally. He SAYS their relationship was not physical but I call super-duper-bullshit on that. For the first time ever in the last two months of our marriage he was spending nights away from home. (Like the Champ of Chumps I was supportive of his nights away: “That’s fantastic. Take advantage of your company’s downtown hotel so you don’t have to commute super early for that early-morning downtown meeting. You work so hard, you deserve this perk.” Hilariously, when I told him to get out of the house post-discovery I asked, “Do you think your girlfriend would let you stay with her. (I did this because I knew that’s where he would be going anyway and it was my only way of feeling like I had any control over the situation; I was done with being lied to, which is what he would have done otherwise.) Other than wincing at me calling her his girlfriend, my ex didn’t hesitate when he said that she would have “no problem” with him staying with her. REALLY? You have no physical relationship with this woman and she will be FINE with you MOVING IN with her for a prolonged period without a conversation??? Please, tell me again how you never had sex with this woman.

            Anyhow, he really did work all the time and this is where he put his focus. His career success indicates that he wasn’t spending all of his time at work having affairs. BUT, he worked constantly, took promotions that stressed him out further, never felt like he could be accomplished enough, never took holidays. Years and years and years of not taking a break. So, he could have chosen to say, “Huh, I’m not happy. I’m stressed and miserable. I don’t see my wife often enough. Maybe I need to take a break, reconnect with her.” Nope. Much easier solution was to continue to be a workaholic and to get his ego stroked by women at work. Then he could work and have someone fawn over him all at the same time.

            Again, I recognize that there’s plenty of room for me being delusional here, but I really do believe we had a decade of a solid and enjoyable relationship. But finally the balance beam tilted. He could either choose to think that valuing relationships over work might make him happier, or he could decide that his primary relationship was a drag but that combining work and relationships was the perfect combination. Now that I look back on our relationship I can certainly see that entitlement ruled his actions (i.e., I see where I spackled). When entitled people face discomfort, they fix the distress with as little inconvenience to them as possible. Peons who get caught in the crossfire = cannon fodder.

        • Me too. So sad that someone I spent pretty much most of my adult life with I don’t even speak to now on a regular basis. Because of her poor choices. Cheaters don’t think like this. Or at least not when they are starting their affairs. Perhaps at some point they do miss us and the triangulation starts but by then it’s too late for us. We’re not interested and smart enough to recognise what’s going on.

          If she had tried, left then met someone else then I know we would still be friends.

          But that’s not the path she chose.

          • They can’t leave without someone waiting in the wings. They can’t be alone, they always make sure they have a soft place to land.

            • 100% agreed with “having a soft place to land”. He destroyed me to be with someone “better” and knew that if he left, he still wouldn’t be alone.

  • “My thinking was that my ex’s family didn’t deserve to be hurt by being told what a lousy person my ex was/is.”

    No one gets through this without regrets, but I do regret replying to my MIL about how me and her daughter “want different things” and that “trust and respect have been destroyed.” I was pulling my punches–call me a chump, but I don’t like telling any mother that her daughter is a…what’s the word, CL?…”Slutface.”

    But I do wish I was firmer, less polite and less “taking the high road.”

    Regardless, as CL says, it doesn’t matter. My ex’s family didn’t believe a word that I wrote until 1.5 years later, when XW partially “came clean” to them in an effort to legitimize her bullshit relationship with OM.

    Stella, CL is right. They aren’t your family, even if they WERE your family up until D-Day. It’s a hard pill to swallow–to lose that support network, and to see how family bonds are more important than truth and honesty. But it’s reality.

    You are tough, and you need to use that strength to mentally let go of them. It’s not fair that you also lose them, and it’s not fair how they ignore you. But it’s common, and almost expected. Throw them in the trash with your ex.

  • There are two sides in a divorce. You can be vested on one side or the other. But, you can’t play the middle. It doesn’t work. I removed from my life anyone, including my sister in law, who had anything to do with him. By interacting with him, they picked his team, forever.

    • I find this hard to do when you have kids. Only one of my 3 kids would have a chance of seeing their grandparents, aunt, uncle, or cousins if I cut his family off. That is because only one of my kids maintains a relationship with their dad.

      I have limited my contact with FIL since he has welcomed OW into his home. If he is in town, we have dinner with him and when we go visit ex’s sister, we visit with him, too. But we do not stay with him anymore (no chance I want to sleep in a bed ex has slept in with OW) and I do not discuss ex with FIL. However, FIL is still pretty good to both me and the kids and hates what his son did. He doesn’t want to cut off his son either. So, like ex, he just avoids the uncomfortable topics.

      Now ex’s sister is another story. She rarely communicates with ex. When she comes to town, she and her family stays with us. Often, she doesn’t even tell ex she is in town. But I still try to avoid discussing ex unless she asks me a direct question. Then I answer her honestly even if it means telling her shitty things about her brother.

      I decided I would maintain those relationships as long as they do not cause me anxiety and are beneficial for both the kids and me. And they maintain the relationship with me because they want to see my kids and that probably won’t happen through ex. Reality is that for 20 years, I spent about 4 times as much time with his family as he did.

      I have decided what my boundaries are with his family and if they cross those boundaries, I am prepared to let those relationships go. I will not hold onto things that are not healthy again.

  • Stella, you should consider yourself one of the “lucky chumps.” I had the type of cheater who was trying to “ride two horses with one ass!” He constantly boomeranged in and out of our home for nearly two years. It built false hope and made the final exit that much more painful. Although his family was well aware of his cheating and did side with me. It sure doesn’t make ANY difference in the outcome nor does it make you feel any better. I’m with CL and other posters here. Just get a decent settlement and close the door on him and his BS. At least you didn’t have nearly 41 years invested like I did! You can still have a great life ahead and you will! The sun will still shine on you one day and you will come to the realization that he did you a huge favor! I would have loved for my cheater to ghost me, but he got his jollies out of torturing me by popping up from time to time. And if I really examine the times he returned I realize it was only for HIS advantage. He didn’t really care for me. He just needed a soft place to land! I was of use to him and nothing more.

  • Stella, its been about 2 years for me and I have yet to get my narrative across to my cheater’s family. They are on the other side of the world, and speak a different language (which I don’t speak).

    I don’t know what the cheater has told them, but I know it paints me as the bitch. I think its something along the lines of “she’s selfish and wanted everything her way, so she left with the kids and went back to her home country…and left me, poor me, I didn’t even do anything wrong”. I feel bad for his mother, because she’s a lovely lady and doesn’t deserve this (she hasn’t seen the kids since April 2016), but I have no way of explaining to her what really happened. And she is elderly, so I am afraid it would give her a heart attack if I did somehow figure out how to inform her.

    I feel terrible about all of this, because she deserves an explanation!! But, I have come to the conclusion that 1) she knows what kind of person I am, and she FOR SURE would know that for me to leave with the kids, HE must have done something seriously terrible to me. I am a family-oriented person, and she knows this. I would never break up a family unless there was a serious situation going on. And, 2) even if I tell her, its still HER SON, and she is always going to side with him. No matter what.

    I have had to come to terms with the fact I might not ever be able to tell his family. But… I believe in karma. (And I am afraid of karma. Hence why I always try to do the right thing). I am certain his mother knows me well enough to know I must have had legitimate reasons for leaving him at the airport.

    I think you should do what Chump Lady suggested – wait until your settlement is all sorted out, and then tell his family the real story. But thats all you can do – just lay it on them and leave it with them. Don’t expect a response. As long as you feel better about letting them know the real deal, thats all you can get from doing this. If I could speak my in-law’s language, I would have called his mom about 12 months ago to explain. To just get it off my chest, that would be a great relief to me. And she deserves the truth.

    Best wishes, Stella. Enjoy your new, cheater-free life….and go get your groove back!

  • Stella, I completely understand your second point. How he blames the fact that you cannot be happy.

    I still second guess myself when I have a bad day. (Is this what he meant? Am I really that miserable to live with?)

    Then I realize that ANYONE would be unhappy if:

    – they were the only person in the relationship adulting
    – they were essentially parenting alone
    – while also parenting an irresponsible spouse/fuckwit
    – while having NO NEEDS MET whatsoever
    – and unable to look elsewhere because *I* was faithful

    I can’t think of many people who WOULDN’T be unhappy in those circumstances.

    Give yourself a pass on your unhappy days. If Cheater had made some fucking EFFORT to love us, maybe they would have seen more of our cheery sides!

    • Amen to that OhHellNo! I still second guess myself when I’ve had a bad day too because I was told I was such an unlovable person because I was so unhappy, but then I tell myself the EXACT same things you list. Every single adult responsibility fell squarely on my shoulders–I did the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, the grocery shopping, the meal planning, the finances and bill paying, the child care, the organizing, the scheduling, the volunteer work at our kids’ school, carting kids to doctor’s appointments and practices, all while maintaining a full-time very demanding professional career. I couldn’t even get him to take out the trash every now and again! I gave, gave, gave and he took, took, took. But yet, he still wasn’t happy. So I would bend even further over backwards trying to facilitate his “happiness”, but it was still my fault when he wasn’t happy. When he walked out on me and our family for another woman to chase his happiness, we reeled in shock for days. How could he do this?? How could he not be happy?? And to top it off, the woman he “fell in love with” on the internet was unemployed, uneducated, penniless, and UGLY! He had it all! He had a beautiful wife who accommodated his every whim, supported every new hobby, made an excellent salary to support his need for vacations and toys, and did absolutely all the adulating. His kids are amazing, the most, beautiful, kind, sweet hearted, polite, well-mannered boys you’ll ever meet :-). It didn’t take me long to realize if all that couldn’t make him “happy”, then there’s nothing in the world that will. About a month into my journey, I read Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life and it was seriously the most eye opening experience. It hit me so suddenly and completely that his leaving had nothing to do with me or our children and everything to do with his disordered fuckwit self! And I’ve never been happier! I got myself a fantastic lawyer two days after he walked out, opened a new bank account, made sure me and my kids were protected as much as I possibly could and never looked back. It wasn’t easy, but damn it, it was worth it! I started a list after the shock of abandonment started to wear off of all the things I wouldn’t miss and the things I looked forward to now that he was gone and the longer my list got, the better I felt. Hugs to you Stella, just as everyone else here has said, trust that he sucks. Trust that his family sucks. They really do. Surround yourself with good people and don’t look back.

      • Good for you!

        Another good reminder is that my Cheater was the ONLY PERSON who said I was unable to be happy. Everyone else in my life got my usual, cheery self — because those relationships were reciprocal. But after being FORCED to “parent” Cheater because he was such a rotten, selfish asshole, I’m certain I wasn’t the most fun person to be around. Duh. Grow the fuck up and then I’ll show up in a teddy wearing a smile.

        Which, by the way, I DO for my wonderful, new husband. Ironically, he comments all the time about what a happy, contented, easily satisfied wife I am. Probably because he makes an effort to reciprocate!

        Like CL has always said: Effort is sexy.

        Cheaters make NO. FUCKING. EFFORT. If that pisses me off and makes me a bitch, then karma, asshole. You don’t whip up dog shit and expect a bowl of pudding in return.


        sorry a bit triggered by the memories this morning

        • “Grow the fuck up and then I’ll show up in a teddy wearing a smile.” and “Cheaters make NO. FUCKING. EFFORT. If that pisses me off and makes me a bitch, then karma, asshole. You don’t whip up dog shit and expect a bowl of pudding in return.”

          OhHellNo you are on a roll this morning. I fucking love it!!!

          #2 on Stella’s list trigged me super hard this morning (11 months out) and now thanks to CL and CN I have words to describe many things I experienced in a 21 year relationship (14 married). No, it’s not all me. I battle depression but you know what, I find the good and bad in every day and this was not on me.
          Fuck those cheaters and their shitty character!

        • Love this comment. Three cheers and a high five, you nailed it.

          It really doesn’t take much to make us happy.

    • Stella (with groove on its way),

      Your ex smells my ex-wife. She presents well, strives to be admired, and is sharp and is successful. Her narrative that I was “too negative” really got under my skin and I believed it for awhile.

      Do not forget the big picture here. Even if his assessment of you were true for some crazy reason, his course of action is still reprehensible. I would hope that marriage would feature mutual support and discussion about perceived failings, and if things are indeed so bad, a decent human would go through the process of owning it and ending the marriage transparently.

      Narcissists are really good at a number of things, and one of them is labeling you something that really plays on your insecurities. They sense the weakness and use it as an excuse to (yet again) blame someone else.

      He is incapable of anything else, sadly he took his family with him. Disconnecting is hard, it is not fair, and is the only course of action that will get your toward the groove territory.

      • “one of them is labeling you something that really plays on your insecurities. ”

        My ex did this. At first, I was the most excellent and caring mother. He was soooo lucky to have a good woman like me. My kids and his sons were lucky to have me as mother/stepmother.

        By the end, I was issued an ultimatum by him to “step-up My parenting ” with my 3 yo bio sons because he “whines too much” and gets up in the middle of the night to pee. Uh, say whaaaat? I guess I should have duck taped his mouth shut and tied him to the bed…..

        My ex then considered himself the Dr.phil of parenting advice which I considered very rich considering his 11 yo son was suspended from school for the 2nd time. (First time was for calling a female teacher a c*my, second time for bullying a disabled classmate and telling the kid to just kill himself because no one would ever like him and then smashed his head off the cement wall during gym.

        But no. I was the bad parent. I also didn’t know teamwork (when his ex wife and I were friends she thought that comment was hilarious “he doesn’t know the meaning of teamwork”) and apparently I didn’t know how to communicate because I was “stubborn and bullheaded”. Apparently me having independent thoughts and ideas were wrong.

        The final humdinger: during DD5 when I was presented with irrefutable evidence of cheating, drinking and driving with his boys and other poor decision making and bad character and I told him I was leaving…..AGAIN…..I was accused of “running out when the chips were down”.

        That one stuck with me for a long time till my therapist set me straight that his actions were so unacceptable that no sane person would stay in that relationship (esp with my children watching).

        So long story, yes, they study your weakness in order to break you down. Normal people would never think to do that.

      • Narcissists don’t consciously study you for weaknesses, it is hard wired like a lot of their less desirable behaviors. They smell weakness and compliance and leverage it for selfish advantage.

        • I don’t necessarily agree with this. Mine openly admitted to studying people for their weaknesses and using this knowledge to consciously manipulate others (in the context of his career) and he BRAGGED about how easily he could do this and how good he was at it.

          Chumpy me never thought he was doing this in EVERY aspect of his life, including our marriage. *bang head against wall*

      • THIS:
        “Narcissists are really good at a number of things, and one of them is labeling you something that really plays on your insecurities. They sense the weakness and use it as an excuse to (yet again) blame someone else.”

        Don’t let this get you down, Stella! They always use this tactic to make you doubt yourself, don’t let him inside your head.

  • Stella please I hope you have a good lawyer and invest the process to have a forensic accountant! You were married more than 10 years. This going out of the country is concerning about him hiding money and assess you are entitled to! Don’t let him play and be nice while he is trying to screw you behind your back. You will need this money and you are entitled to it. Please don’t let him screw you.

    • ^^^^THIS^^^^ In my experience as an expat/repat, overseas assignments usually bring with them an additional bump in income to cover the costs of the new location. By way of example, we moved from NYC to London and that move bumped my ex’s salary up by $30K USD. So FOLLOW THE MONEY. My ex worked for an investment bank, so their policies may be more generous than other industries, but the overseas-glam job usually brings perks.

      Also, Stella, were you aware of this move prior to DDay? Overseas assignments tend to be in the works for a bit. If he knew about this and didn’t tell you, then THIS WAS PLANNED FOR A LONG TIME. Read that again. He’s been staging this exit plan for a while, which means FOLLOW THE MONEY. Please, please get a forensic accountant involved.

      Don’t be me. I discovered that the spreadsheet my ex had been “helpfully” preparing when putting together our settlement, was created *two years* prior to DDay. When I realized that, it was too late, as he had carefully inserted a “no claw-back” clause in the MSA, so I can’t go back. Jokes on him though, I ended up meeting a wonderful man and remarried. So the lump sum settlement stays with me.

      “No claw-back” works both ways, motherfucker.

      • Sorry, I hit “post” before I meant to. The spreadsheet, where he essentially buried me in numbers, was all to project the appearance of him being transparent. When I realized its’ creation date, that’s when I put it together that this was a carefully planned exit and that it likely meant he had been shuffling financial assets. It became obvious when he did a $100K remodel of his house while unemployed and crying poverty that this was in fact, the case. Go by what they do, not by what they say (or put in spreadsheets). But at this point, I don’t care. He sucks. I trust that with every fiber of my being.

        • Me too, FreeWoman, lol! My advice to chumps going through the settlement process: watch every move your opponent makes/asks to insert and make it apply to you as well. They hide in plain sight – well, at least my ex did – and have a tendency to project what it is they want to protect. My ex would get frustrated throughout the crafting process when I would make his special little snowflake clauses apply bi-directionally (if applicable, and only after discussing it with my lawyer). If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander.

  • “You’re an unhappy person” YEP, I got that one too! I’m pretty sure there is a secret cheater handbook all cheaters work from – they are very unoriginal!

    “His family didn’t say goodbye.” My ex’s family were perfectly aware I’d had an intervention with our church for porn and hook-up site use. They were aware that he’d previously had an affair with a stripper. They were aware that I reached out to a crisis line when my middle daughter was a newborn (17 years ago) because he left a giant bruise on her bottom. I constantly enlisted the help of his family reel him in, but they still didn’t know the half of it. I sent a lengthy email out-lining all I endured in the marriage and exactly why we were divorcing, because he was using prostitutes . (Hmmm… you think maybe there are legit reasons to feel unhappy?) Their response … “while I’m sure this allowed you to vent some of your feelings, it’s time to stop being angry and bitter and forgive for the sake of your children.” Yep, it was my anger and bitterness that was the problem!

    Sure it hurts, but I’ve come to realize that if someone meets your anguish with simplified responses or no response at all… they aren’t your people! These people bad mouth me in front of my kids and hold their son up as a saint. On the rare occasions they do see me, they are super sweet (fake) and prod me for information that would benefit their son. If I look beyond the fake nice, there is no genuine inquiry into anything about me intrinsically. There’s nothing to work with there! It’s like trying to make a turkey sandwich out of coffee grounds… it simply isn’t going to happen!

    Their rejection is about who they are! Sure, you can try and figure out who they are but why? Why care how their fucked up minds justify fucked up behavior? You think maybe if you had approached it differently the outcome would have been different? No, people act from their own moral compass, and obviously their’s is broken. Someone reaches out to say goodbye and they don’t respond… that’s a “them” issue, not a “You” issue! You are looking at it from your lense. I’m assuming in your mind the only way YOU wouldn’t respond, is if you felt there was a legitimate reason… so there must be a reason right? Yes, the reason is because that’s who they are! You said yourself you weren’t close. Was it for your lack of trying? I’m guessing no. It’s because that’s who THEY are.

    Don’t internalize their rejection!

  • Stella,
    Thank you for writing. Your feelings mirror my own.
    I’m over three years out and this is my experience:
    1. I told his parents, in person, what he did, thinking they would talk some sense into him (as they did at dd#1). In response, they protected him while they attempted to schmooze me into a better financial settlement for their son (the writing was on the wall this time, even though I was still hanging on). All the other relatives that I bump into here and there stare at me like I was the cheater (after 20 years of marriage).
    2. Yes, I was also told I was incapable of being happy. Of course I was! I was being cheated on and lied to!
    3. Yep, I was ghosted as well. Worse yet, he ghosted his own children. He was free to screw around so he disappeared. That lasted until he got caught cheating on schmoopie then he circled back to start messing with my head again. You don’t want him back. No contact is THE only way to heal.

    Best advice I can give you:
    Divorce his ass immediately because he will be back. Not for the marriage, but for some weird, twisted hateful revenge. Once you begin the process he won’t believe that you still don’t want him! I took time to heal/grieve first. Don’t. I’m still fighting for a fair settlement for the kids and I and he keeps moving the goalposts. It’s agonizing and it delays the healing process. Come back here everyday for strength. CL has your back. Look after yourself now. It’s so much better on the other side.

  • Stella. Trust that he sucks and trust that being left and betrayed sucks. But you will move on. You have to. It will take time. Like you, I didn’t have kids with my assface ex. So once it’s iver there’s no point in any contact. And you need that. Don’t worry if he’s ghosting you. Block him. That way you can’t even think IF he calls or texts. Take control and don’t let one Asshole have so much power over your life. He’s already done enough. This is still fresh for you. Keep moving forward. Even baby steps.

  • Stella

    Many of us here knows the hurt of being ignored by the in-laws. Myself after 34 years never heard from anyone
    when the separation then divorce was happening.

    I’m sure the cheating adulterer slandered me for quite awhile behind my back. They say “ blood is thicker than water” but they were always loving & kind to me
    so I was truly hurt.

    I saw their true colors & didn’t try to reach out to them.
    So I was rejected by him & his family. Double whammy of pain.

    Try not to think about the cold, uncaring people you knew & think of yourself to heal. You are not alone.
    We here at CN understand & realize your pain.
    Stay strong.. you deserve so much more than a piece of
    crap for a husband. Let him go & realize you will ( in time) start to see that life is better without a sociopath
    degrading & cheating on you.


  • “It’s okay to be unhappy sometimes. People who are being chumped and gaslighted tend to be less than their optimal selves. You know what solves this problem? Getting rid of the cheater.”


  • Divorced 15 months, my EX’s entire family cut me off after 35 years of marriage (and hosting holidays and special events, entertaining nieces, buying all cards, gifts, etc.) They are all local and not one call, or text or email to see how I was. I even allowed my MIL to stay at my home during the week of FIL’s funeral in 2012 as her home had lost power due to Storm Sandy. Guess where the EX was?
    I need advice on how to handle facing them at my son’s August wedding. I am not a violent person, but, I can see a cat fight in my future. I would like to tell them all to go to hell, and that as far as my EX, my MIL and the whore, there’s a special place in hell for them!

    • Just nod politely to them, keep your head high, walk away and enjoy the festivities at your son’s big day. Don’t let them steal the spotlight, don’t take attention away from son by focusing on them, don’t think you need to spend any time talking to them or interacting in any way beyond a nod hello.

      • Better still: concentrate on your son and your new in-laws – surely the lovely bride will have parents and family there? Mix with them, and ignore the ex-in-laws.

    • Remember that your son, and his new wife, are probably counting on you to be cool. They most likely know that the other side of the family are nuts!
      Do it for the love of your son. It’s his day.
      Although, a cat fight sounds fun, save it for when you see them somewhere neutral, or just fantasize about it, and then – Never mind! They are not worth the energy, F them

      • No cat fights. (Laxative in their coffee, on the other hand,…)
        Just kidding – but fantasising is free and fun.

    • First the shallow part. Get a great knock out, stunning outfit for the wedding, work out like crazy before the wedding and you’ll be mentally & physically tip top. Totally blank them and concentrate on your family/friends and the bride and groom. Narcs being narcs would love the drama of a cat fight, don’t give them the satisfaction. Have fun and know they have not beaten you.

      • ^^^THIS 100% -do not give them the satisfaction, and don’t let them goad you into ruining your son’s day. You will be happy looking back knowing you handled yourself with dignity and class. You are BETTER than them, don’t sink to their level. Head high, and fuck them – narcs HATE being ignored! You got this!

    • I have my daughters wedding in July so have the same dilemma.
      There is no top table so I will sit with my sister and/or my son.
      I will be seeing in laws that I haven’t seen in years. I aim to be polite but not over involved. We were never close but I’ve known them almost 40 years and I guess it isn’t their fault…OW is one of the pack now but I won’t give anyone the satisfaction of showing anything other than good grace.

  • Stella:
    Girl, let me take this one concern at a time……

    1. Even in-laws who live close don’t say goodbye. It doesn’t sound like his parents are people persons. This kind of explains a lot about your ex and how easy it was for him to discard you after 13 years together. Maybe he never really “touched down” in your marriage. Sounds like he was just above the surface with no real commitment. My ex was like this also. My feeling is that if you did clue in his parents to their sons short comings………it would fall on deaf ears and frustrate you even more. I say let it be and turn your back on the disordered.

    2. No person is happy every single day of their lives. NO PERSON! It is okay to wake up on a Monday and not want to go to work. It is okay to be unhappy about bills piling up. It is okay to hate the weather one day. THAT IS NORMAL!!!! We all have that. Fuck him and his rotten excuses. And that is all that that is. Excuses for his shitty character. Pay NO MIND to that mind fuck!

    3. My ex-husband of 20 years told me on the day he moved out that he would do whatever it took to win me back. Told our daughters that same thing. Then……he phoned his five year affair partner and continued right on with the charade. Then she moved in. Now they are married. They say and do unthinkable things. They behave like sub-humans. They suck. They lie. They care only about themselves. Fuck that noise! You deserve something so much better!

    Put on your bitch boots and kick him in the nuts with your lawyers help! Then smile at him and tell him you have never been happier!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I, too, sent a letter to someone in my soon-to-be-ex’s family, just to be nice. I had been close with this particular SIL and her husband.
    The letter was passed around to everyone, analyzed, and used to make fun of me.

    Trust that the family sucks, too.

  • Cheaters are all selfish week minded jerks in one way or another who lack empathy and are incapable of true love and commitment, but beyond that they have varying personalities that lead them to behave in different ways. The more aggressive cheaters are the ones who fight for cake, beg you to take them back, triangulate and try to hang on to their wives/husbands without really giving up their APs. That takes a lot of energy, but some cheaters have that kind of energy. Some cheaters are passive and don’t work too hard at fighting for cake, but they are happy to accept it if it is offered and will never get around to initiating the divorce and setting you free until you finally get tired of limbo and file yourself (my cheater was that type). Some turn ugly and mean, trashing you to everyone and trying to ruin you financially because they have to make you the root of all evil so that others won’t think they are jerks for treating you the way they did and so that they can live with their own bad behavior. Others are just cowards who abandon and ghost as soon as they are discovered because they don’t have the balls (or whatever the female equivalent is) to face the ones they have betrayed. Stella, that’s the kind you had. He is just a coward and that has nothing to do with you. Meanwhile his family lives a long way away, wasn’t witness to the end of your marriage and probably doesn’t know how to process it all, but he is their relative so they are going to stick with him regardless of what you do and do not reveal. If you tell them the truth about the end of your marriage in as factual a way as possible, it will clarify that none of this was your idea and you can feel better about knowing that they know it, but it likely won’t change their response (or lack thereof) to you.

  • Stella! YOU ARE AMAZING! Believe that (and go see a FOOKING LAWYER!)

    On Friday, I’ll have exactly 1 month without contact from STBXWW. Like every other chump my brain couldn’t process/believe what my eyes witnessed when she shed her lizard skin, and I saw her for who she really was (Have you seen the movie THEY LIVE with Roddy Piper? We should be issued the cheater polarized sunglasses before the wedding ceremony.)

    She got it honestly from her mother’s FOO paradigm and I was chumped from day 1. (WW became “the perfect wife” as in “Damn I am soooo Gulible”). I KNOW HER PARENTS SUCKED. They were leeches plain and simple and attached to our marriage within a few months moving in next door. They stick together like glue. A virtual mafia of …I can’t find an adequate adjective…

    What still amazes me to this day is HOW these asswipe cheaters can just switch off a relationship and leave us untangling, untangling, retangling, untangling some more- ad nauseum ad infinitim. It’s like their balloon of secrecy and lies gets popped, Ooops! No thrill left here!! and they coldly move onto the next target….”Who were you again!?” (WW texted me shortly after moving in with AP2…”You were my first and only tru wuv”..que harps & violins…get to dancing Clown!!)

    A few weeks after Dday I did get an IM from WW’s sister saying “Even though things are not ‘ideal’, I want you to know We’re still family”.
    ..UBT translation- I’m embarassed with what my sister did to you (even though we expected it all along and forgot to inform you about her previous 2 marriages where she cheated in both)…Thank you for spending your time and money caring for our mother in her last 18 months dying from COPD, effort herein duly noted. OH! and so sorry YOU had to pay for her funeral.. Buh-bye.

    If it will make you feel any better…after discovery I was privy to the conversation where WW told her sister she had an affair(s) . aka- Pre-Crisis Image Control Drill…
    WW’s Sister had 2 questions, When did you find the time? and Who was he?. I expected them to start giggling like teenagers. Superficial Bullshit exchange tinged with faux-concern. So trust that your POS cheater’s family is the same.

    If they do contact you it will only be apologetics or guilt management. My daughter and WW’s son are on my team. WW’s DD is Switzerland but also a ghost- except when she needs something of course.

    You must take a long, deep drink of BETWEEN YOUR EARS NC. Become an NC-aholic. It’s a healthy addiction you can bet will yield positive results. You are not alone. You have an army behind you. Me included!

  • It’s a hard thing to process all of the damage left in the wake of finding out the person you are committed to, who is supposed to be your best friend, is supposed to have your back–just isn’t that person and probably never was. You put all your money down on that sure thing and cheater told you they were all in, except they weren’t. They always kept a backup plan and held back all while telling you they were all in too. It’s hard to accept the unjustice of it all. We want fairness, restitution, others to see the shit.

    I confused intelligence with character. He never had it. Going on 2 years with gray rock and I see this so much more clearly. Please don’t think he will get any better if you are nice about all this. He is a thief. A thief of your heart and good nature. Being supportive and nice to him will only set you up for him to take more. And don’t expect the family and friends that know this about him already (they are shit people in all aspects of their life) to support you because you are the innocent bystander in all this.

    He’s claiming you are the thief. It’s a diversion tactic so he can take more and not look so guilty by comparison. Go stealth mode and get what you need in terms of a fair and adequate financial settlement so you can go live that awesome authentic life you deserve.

  • Whenever you allow a cheater to control the narrative, something unhealthy is going to result.
    That includes the narrative in your head that you tell yourself.

    Cheater is self serving. Five syllables.

    I get it. I am where you are. On the surface you understand that you are not at fault, and something is terribly wrong with cheater, but you also slide into self doubt and empathy for the cheater’s victimhood plight and narrative.

    For me, what it all boils down to is:
    No matter what happened, there was a horrible breakdown here.

    After decades of marriage, children, work life, pets, countless family gatherings, building a life and trust there should have been something intrinsic formed between two married people. That relationship should have become more valuable than things, money, vacations and straaaaaaange puss.

    Normal people feel it, normal people cherish this, normal people protect it. Like a parent for a child, most people would die before abandoning it.
    I am normal. I felt it. I have it.

    It’s a painful motherfucker to loose a bond like this, but that genuine pain and loss shows me I’M doing it right. All systems are operational.

    What happened here on HIS part was not normal. His showing on the outside that he felt and understood this “family bond” was just a façade – but internally, there was nothing going on. The lights came on and there was nothing in the basement nor attic.

    He is nothing. He does not share this bond with his children, nor friends, believe me – not OW either.

    • Absolutely this! I say that my ex does not firm normal emotional attachment. Right before our divorce settlement, he decided he wanted the house when he realized I and the kids planned to move.

      He plans to move him and OW into the house we shared and had kids in for 20 years. That is NOT normal. It is creepy and proves he is not capable of emotional attachments. It is all a mask and pretend.

  • Oh Stella… you just expressed exactly what I went through with my ex cheater. EXACTLY… even down to the non communicating family. They are in another country and refuse to believe their sweet son can do such a thing. Oh how do I feel your pain!!!

    • In that case, I must be feeling your pain too. So sorry that you’ve experienced this. (Just as I’m so sorry for all of the post-ers feeling variations of this.)

  • Stella,
    I am sorry that you are dealing with a cowardly liar (even if job title and salary might indicate otherwise). I’ve been there–more than once. You might find some comfort in reading Runaway Husbands from a psychotherapist who experienced something quite similar to what you are experiencing. I hope that you can use whatever angry energy you have to fuel progress toward a beautiful authentic new life.

  • Sometimes your own family can be toxic and you need to get away from them. That is a lot harder than leaving your in-laws. I had a sister in law (wife of the ex’s brother) who also divorced the brother. We are still great friends. Together we have been able to give the children of the two marriages some continuity. Both of the ex-in-laws are dead now, the MIL was a huge narc and I never got along with her — neither did her sons. She had little to do with the grandchildren while she was alive. Fine by me, the less contact with her, the better. My dad has had little contact with my children because he is a malignant narc. My children lucked out with one grandmother, my mother, who loves them and has cared for them like a grandmother should. My other ex comes from a family of misfits, too. I think being raised by a narc, I was familiar with the treatment, and that had something to do with me marrying two of them. Of course, I didn’t even know what a narc was growing up or going in to the marriages. When you find yourself in constant pain, you look for a reason. I educated myself.

    Look for people with values and character who do what they say they will do. Make them your extended family and friends. Your life will be better when you don’t try to keep a relationship with someone who is not worth the effort. Keep reading Chump Lady and Chump Nation’s comments. That will keep you grounded and will help you get over any narc or other toxic person exposure. You are not alone.

  • I did send three letters. To the three kids of asshole brother in law. I told them how proud I was of them. I watched all three grow up. I was proud of them. I want them to remember that.

    I mentioned nothing about me nor the divorce. It did not matter.

  • I wrote to Chump Lady bemoaning a ghoster. I wish she’d stayed ghosted. It hurts like nothing else ever has or will, but it’s really best-case scenario. You got this!

  • My ex didn’t ghost me, unfortunately, so I can’t speak to that, but as for the rest:

    Family: I never heard one word ever again from my former in-laws after 20-year marriage ended, other than one brief phone call with former MIL who told me to “get a job.” My former in-laws all know that ex had endless sex with other men, affairs with married women, and owes me tens of thousands in child support arrears. Their response to all this is to idolize him as the most wonderful thing since sliced bread, and they took turns financially supporting him for YEARS until he finally managed to snare some sucker woman into taking on the burden. They think I’m a horrible person who wasn’t good enough for him. Does this sting? It used to, I admit. I eventually got over it, though, once it really sank in that they are all batshit crazy.

    “You’re just not happy enough” Oh, yeah, I got variations of that one as well. Was told I was a hypercritical monster; funny, because in reality, I let ex get away with anything. Was told I was boring; well, I guess it’s true I’m capable of having a quiet day at home, which ex equates with death. He tore me apart in every way after separation. It took years for me to see that it was his way of hurting me and it was all bullshit; but sometimes, it all still haunts me and I DO feel like a boring, small person compared to him.

    I’m years out and although I’m mostly over it all, I do sometimes still struggle with the skein. But mostly, just living and focusing on my own life helped fade the nightmare into the distance. It takes a lot of time. Hang in there, Stella. Your Tuesday is coming.

    • Not to worry Glad…you can recoup those arrears when he starts getting his Social Security. They will garnish it straight out of his checks until every last penny is paid back to you. 🙂

  • I look at it this way Stella:

    Mine ghosted me too once I confronted his (undeniable) cheating over two years ago. I am certain that he gave his friends/family a horrible narrative regarding me also…so horrible that it would call to question his own “good image” and sanity if he had reached back to me to hoover back. He often told me that our relationship (marriage) was “Toxic”. It was for me, because how could it be anything else given what he is? Over 60yr old: porn loving, women chasing, drunkard, pot head, HUGE financial disasters, lazy as fuck, verbally combative, gas lighting, liar and pervert. I suppose that it was for him because he had to try to live on the sly for over ten years knowing I could easily see through his BS and had no problem calling him out on it.

    Six months after he left, he suddenly appeared at my business once to personally hand me some junk mail addressed to me. I told him that he could have just forwarded it to me or thrown it in the trash, but thanks all the same. When he was leaving, he yelled “ARE YOU HAPPY!!!?” Huh?? For one thing, what business is it of his if I am or not? For another, why would I bother rehashing all the ways he fucked our marriage over and the ensuing RELIEF I felt when it was over? Or tell him that I only missed having access to his bank account after all I had suffered? I just smiled but said nothing (they say a picture is worth a thousand words). He would not have appreciated the truth, which is that I was THRILLED beyond words that he was gone, as it was an answer to my long awaited prayers…and I would rather live under a bridge than spend more time with him.

    It griped his ass that I did not call him even once to grovel since the moment he left. I figured that there was absolutely NOTHING that I needed or could not live without that I couldn’t find a way to obtain on my own w/o contacting him…and I was correct. So his little Ego blew up thinking that I would grovel just so that he could then turn around and reject ME further was not working for him.

    I consider myself blessed that he does not hoover back. Nothing says “you suck” like crickets. Apparently, the feelings are mutual. As for his family, no loss there because I already knew that they would side with him regardless of the facts of his sleazy behavior…they always had excuses for him. I got a good settlement and a soft landing because we moved as fast as lightening during the initial phase when he likely felt some need to maintain a good guy Christian image and/or guilt. I took advantage of that and got what was fair (short of Biblically stoning him to death).

    Everyday is a challenge, a joy, and a blessing for me…because he is gone. I can breathe, and I do not have to police his lack of morals any more. I lived with this nightmare too many years to feel any loss. Soon enough, you will too. You cannot have a marriage of any quality once you KNOW the kind of character these cheaters have.

    • Gone is good. Fortify yourself, because those losers often do circle around for a Hoover when their plans don’t work out as well as you did. Just say no. Better yet, do not respond. I left my Outlaws behind back in the day because the Fucktard was an information gathering machine, and was very good at what he did. Now that he has literally gone to Hell, they are back as friends and understand why I had to leave them behind to stay safe. They were appalled at the Fucktard’s treatment of my replacement part. Apparently he was less subtle with her, and her family staged an intervention and extraction inside two years which included showing up with boxes and a moving van. Then I got the letter saying I was the only one for him. No response is the best and only response.

  • Oh Stella, forget him and forget them. Your story coulda been mine and so many others. Don’t just trust that they suck. Know that they’re not even original. I get hung up over the “try to be more happy” schtick because what if no one would love the “real.” We both gotta get over it.

    So, girl, get your groove back. Stop waiting to exhale, and find someone that makes you wanna shoop.

  • Stella and all,

    This could have been written by me, or any of us, 25 years and after DDay4 ex walks out and blames me and kids…..disordered persons are just that. CL mentions in her book that this disorder person that was your spouse changed the terms of your marriage, without your knowledge or agreement. Your involvement was negated and superseded when he chose to lie, cheat, project, deflect, abandon, gaslight…etc. Now you get to rewrite your terms, your boundaries, your happiness, your life and you don’t have to negotiate with a fuckwit or his half-baked family anymore. Same for me, same for all of us, its empowering, and a little scary too.

  • Stella, Within the past year, I was also abandoned, 21 years of marriage, we have children, and he just came home and dumped me one day for an “emotional involvement” with a ho-worker. Within weeks he moved in with schmoopie and was carving out a whole new life. In keeping with supremely shitty behaviour he’s just been too self-absorbed and dysfunctional to maintain a consistent, significant role in his kids lives. The pain this has caused is indescribable.

    It seems to me, you’re struggling with the message of worthlessness he has sent you. It’s so hard being blindsided and discarded in such a cruel way. A few people (all men) used the phrase “it’s not human”, that really hits the nail on the head! It’s so hard to come to terms with having your life yanked out from under you by the person you most loved and trusted. Something very meaningful to you was taken away and you were powerless. Although I’m in counselling and we have discussed closure, what helped me most with these feelings was chump lady’s post:

    Little shaman healing on YouTube discusses narcissism, many of her submissions resonated. Let’s face it, “discard” is cluster b pathological behaviour. It’s never about you.

    You’re probably just in a power struggle with your ego that wants to be validated in the face of serious injustice. I certainly was. It seems all of us chumps highly value fairness and letting go of that expectation being reciprocated in your primary relationship is a huge task. I was appalled that my children were given a broken home and I had no say! That was my ego, and it’s certainly not wrong to be infuriated by that, but I was powerless to it and I am learning to let that go. I have to.

    Remembering to “Trust that he sucks” is also helpful. I spackled and I’ll bet you did too. At the end of the day, so many of us accepted major character defects for those fleeting moments of kindness. In our heart of hearts, we have to admit this stuff doesn’t just happen out of the blue, your spouse has long-standing flaws that are deep-rooted.

    He used you. He doesn’t connect beyond that use he saw in you and your time-limit expired. This has nothing to do with who you are at all. I know I was 100% worthy of my husband’s loyalty and love, he just doesn’t have the capacity for that in him. He’s damaged beyond repair, when I feel empathy about that, I remind myself that he would slit my throat, leave me for dead, and happily fuck strange while his loving family was reeling in devastation. I tell myself this repeatedly, talk to friends and loved ones about this, so it really sinks in. It has. My ego is letting go of the reasonable expectations I had, and I am accepting the truth that I married and loved a tragically limited individual. My only major flaw was the grave miscalculation I made in loving him. I also remind myself that his identity was a fairly brilliant charade so I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Everyone was shocked, I wasn’t the only one played as a fool. But now I see he didn’t change, his use of me did. Glimpses of entitlement, self-absorption, little reciprocity, and dysfunctional ways were there all along. He struggles in very basic ways.

    Take heart in knowing the next person he’s with gets all that and nothing more. I realize that schoompie poacher is in for a well-deserved deliciously rude awakening! In the meantime you and I get to work on ourselves and use our hard-earned wisdom to make better use of our future emotional investments. There is potential for us to be happy, the abandoning cheaters are stuck with their crappy energy, interpersonal approach and mindset indefinitely. Their joy runs out once the dopamine high wears off and they can’t sustain happiness beyond that. We can.

    Work on humbly accepting all of that and you’ll find yourself caring less about how invalidating he and his family are. His silly projections and false narrative will become desparately ridiculous, even amusing, in time too.

    It all hurts like a mother-fucker. In the end, he lost you and he’s stuck with himself.

    Rise Stella, you’ve got this!

    • That’s it exactly. Most of us chumps never studied these things until we found ourselves in a bad place and searched for answers. Looking about here, chumps are overwhelmingly intelligent, competent and well educated, but still they find themselves snookered by lowlife cheaters who fake a better image than they deserve. Even well educated cheaters are lowlifes when we take a good look.

      • Honestly, I saw traits in his mom but I was played so well I never saw his discard coming! He mirrored me well. Not perfect, but well-enough!

  • Even if the family would listen they would likely still just side with cheater and/or not believe you. Blood is thicker than water as they say which I think is just cover for the concept that its hard for a parent to admit their kid is a horrible person.

  • I like my ex in-laws and they were very fair to me during wreckconciliation and divorce. My ex MIL tried to talk me back into the marriage several times, which makes sense given it is their daughter they are most concerned about. Best part was while talking to me she shared the details of her marriage and how ex-FIL cheated on her multiple times. He’s a pretty decent guy now, or at least seems like one, and at the time it gave me hope for their daughter being a unicorn.

    At one point I asked my ex MIL how long it took her to get over the betrayal of her husband cheating. She started crying and told me “a long time but you’ll one day trust her.” Then I asked how long age it was she had been cheated on? She told me the last time was 25 years ago. At that point, I was like I’m out of here. If she’s still hurting 25 years later there’s no sense in sticking around. I suspect in 25 years I’ll feel just fine and won’t be hanging around someone who hurt me so badly.

    A point her mother made is that no matter bad a thing someone does their parents are going to stick with them. Even serial killers have moms saying “he was such a sweet boy.” So it comes as no surprise my ex MIL told me “we hate what she did but she’s still our daughter.” This is a fair point on her part and hopefully we all have the benefit of having someone in our lives who care for use unconditionally. In the end you have to go with your family and your ex will go with their family. In some cases, their families are similarly disordered and in others they know what their relative did was wrong, but you’re moving down the road. Their relative is not.

    • Dang 25 years later and she’s still harboring all that pain! Forget it. I’m so glad you were out of there. Damage like cheating never heals when you stay with the cheater, EVER! And that pain is more profound than any physical scar can leave on your body and takes an eternity to heal, if ever. Life isn’t meant to be lived with such a heavy burden of pain being carried around until your deathbed. I think you’ll be fine sooner than you think. So glad you didn’t stay! Bravo!

      • Kellia,

        I believe you are correct that I will recover soon. I discovered my wife’s infidelity in September 2017. She had been cheating on me from the time my son was 6 months old and for two years with a married loser. Took me four months to decide to cut bait. I couldn’t deal with the constant pain she had caused and realized it wasn’t subsiding.

        I travel a lot for work and outdoor recreation. Of course she was cheating on me while I was working or recreating. Obviously, I can’t give up work. The recreational activity I enjoy she didn’t participate in much so I was in the position of giving up the activity for her. I decided I rather enjoy my lifelong outdoor interests in peace than either go and wonder what she is doing or give them up. A relationship is no fun if you cannot pursue your healthy independent interests because your spouse has an unhealthy independent interest.

        When I was “reconciling” with her my mind was in constant turmoil. The day I said “f*ck this” my mind settled in a measureable way. Of course my head is still messed up, but day by day it gets better. I suspect it will be even better when I move out of our marital home in three weeks and our divorce is final after the 60 day waiting period.

        Chump lady and the Chump Nation showed me the way. My life is getting better and will soon be great! again!

  • It is very very hard to deal with how unfair it is when someone who you were devoted to turns out to have been a bit of a con, or a lot of a con. I am not there yet (meh) but do realize that in the end, we MUST go through the motions of making our new lives before we get there. I have a similar situation with the in laws…also, Swiss friends, the OW appliance, etc. and I still (a year out from being divorced) have days where I am so mad that he seems to have “gotten away with it”. He has convinced a lot of people he is a great guy underneath his “bad choices” or his “addictive tendencies”…or so I imagine since I really don’t know for sure;) I am also aware that every time I ponder on my waste of a decade with X, I waste more energy on him when I could be using all that energy to make my life what I want it to be. I wish I could just press a button and I could let go. It doesn’t work that way. Stella, I hope you have someone, a divorce group, a therapist that can help you. What your stbx did is unforgivable and awful and he deserves all the pain and then some that he put on you, but i know you (and me and everyone in CN!) are so much better off than we were when we were with those character devoid podpeople.

  • I pretty much was abandoned as well. Once I knew about the affair, it only really took about a month before he decided that they had a “great love which could not be denied” as CL says, and he was “poof” gone.

    But don’t worry about his family and what they think of any of this. Fuck ’em. I’d bet we have an apple/tree scenario anyway.

    In my case, the X’s family . . . I always described them as hyenas. Every fucking one of them. They always wanted something from me, or talked shit about one another. Then they’d act all lovey when they saw each other. I laugh when I think back to how I tried to appease them and “like” them, even though deep-down, they were never my people. Fun examples: Mom had spent time in jail for embezzlement, cheated, left the state and dumped her kids with alcoholic father to live 100’s of miles away in sunny California. Dad like to brag to his sons that even though he had dick problems, he could still get a boner with that hooker Friday night. Brother cheated constantly, his sister had an affair while pregnant with her then husband’s kid, and now whines because 10 years later, that guy she cheated with still hasn’t put a ring on her finger after her husband dumped her. I’ve got more, but the point is, it’s all about character right? So why did I think they would be decent to me after what my husband did?

    But it makes sense though. I look at them the same way I look at the X. Once I wasn’t of use, I was tossed away. Once my X split, Mom couldn’t continually try to live with us rent free, or ask for money. Sis couldn’t whine to me about her boyfriend, etc. I’m sure they are chewing the bones off a rotting caucus somewhere right now, and hooray, now Schmoopy is invited to that feast because it’s all about character right? She IS their people. 🙂

    Divorce equals freedom. Sweet sweet freedom and there are no fucks left to give. 🙂

  • Reading this makes me want to give a shout-out to my X in-laws. My X ran out on our 20 year relationship with no warning and moved in THAT DAY with Schmoopie. (Luckily, we had no kids). Later I got a card from my mother-in-law saying she was absolutely flabbergasted, (yeah, me too!), and appreciated how I had been a part of their family for such a long time. She closed it with love from her and her husband.

    I thought this was pretty classy. They do not live in the same area as me so it is unlikely I will ever see them again.

    Another relative who does live in the area stopped by 6 months after the discard, and said “Wow! You look really great!” – Believe me, that is the best revenge. Getting on with your life, looking great, and having everyone know it.

  • Your soon to be ex is still a Class A Dick for the abandonment part. Because what sort of creep does that sort of thing to another human being? You were his spouse and you deserve more respect and dignity than to be ghosted. Like Chump Lady stated, says everything about him and nothing about you.

    My ex did this, which is why I am posting.

    1. I texted his family when he walked out. Actually, they took him to lunch when he announced he was going to leave, dropped him back off, and then he packed his backpack like a 12 year old. I texted because I was confused and stunned. I also texted because he had a neurological condition; I was worried he was having some sort of medical episode that had manifested in a psychotic/cognition problem. That, or he developed a mysterious brain tumor that impaired his thinking. I even thought about calling his neurologist and reporting this out of character behavior. Turns out, he was screwing another woman. And the behavior wasn’t out of character. His parents didn’t text back because. . . They were complicit. (They also helped enable some other loathsome, scary behavior because dick begets dick). Trust me. Your spouse’s parents know. They raised him.

    2. My ex gave me some sort of happiness spill too, but it was so stupid, I can’t remember what it was now. I just remember shrieking, “What does that even mean?” The truth is, only a miserably bastard will walk out on his spouse. Don’t forget that.

    I went through the whole “what’s wrong with me” list and determined wisely at one point his behavior must have been caused my slightly crooked yet charming teeth and my parents’ blue-collar background. But his mom didn’t go to college at all and he didn’t even brush his teeth some days, so that couldn’t be it. In that case, pass “go”, collect your settlement, and land on it doesn’t fucking matter because. . . Only a miserably bastard will walk out on his spouse.

    I think we pick out the things that we feel the most insecure about and turn that into the reason for them. Don’t make their job easy. Only a miserably bastard will walk out on his spouse.

    3. He is not a nicer brand of dick. He’s still a dick. My ex made up the bed and gave me a half-assed Christmas gift before he walked out. He told me I could still take our scheduled overseas anniversary/holiday trip (like hell I would leave the house unattended). He also bought me four new tires several months after he left. All I had to do was email. Poof. Sent right to my doorstep. He was still a dick. He was still dicking around with his mistress. It was a type of manipulation to distract me from the fact he was trying to cheat me out of a fair settlement. He also used the “nice guy” routine when things got heated between attorneys. Don’t fall for it.

    For me, I didn’t snap out of the haze. It took time to see the situation as it really was. Because relationships with people like your spouse is like living in a house of mirrors.

  • Stella so sorry that this has happened to you. Telling his parents the truth after the divorce is final will help you get some closure. They will probably not respond but you will have peace of mind that they know the truth. Telling the truth is not revenge, it is for your mental health, for your peace of mind that they know the truth. I hope you are able to recover quickly, at 7 months out this is all still fresh and you are dealing with divorce negotiations. Soon things will be better, one day at time.

  • Hi Stella–

    I think you’ve received excellent advice from Chump Lady and Chump Nation. Here’s my feedback.

    I’m just lost in skein untangling. Perhaps what I’m looking for is some Chump Lady snark that will somehow soften my pain. –There are two keys to softening your pain.

    First, Trust that He Sucks. Once you truly internalize that he sucks, you’ll start to heal. Right now, there’s the little nagging voice in you that wonders if you’d done X instead of Y, or if you’d understood just a bit more, you’d still be happily married. Nope. You were married to a man who had a string of affairs with his co-workers. There’s not a lot to understand there. And really, having affairs with colleagues sucks on a lot of different levels. As a result, some companies in the US would fire him if they found out because they consider that kind of behavior extremely risky from a sexual harassment liability perspective.

    Once you Trust that He Sucks, you’ll also be able to laugh when he does have to interact with you.

    Second, No Contact helps with getting past the pain. The less contact, the less you will have him as your focus and the more he’ll recede into the background noise of your mind. Your only contact should be divorce-related, and only through your lawyers. Once you get some emotional distance, you’ll start to see when he’s blowing smoke and when he’s deliberately trying to push your buttons. You can laugh because you now see the transparent manipulation underlying what he says and does. He no longer holds that power over you and you can see his attempts to retain that power as ridiculous.

    Not saying good-bye: the ex in-laws and ghosting.–These are two parts of the same desire: that of closure. There’s also another underlying desire tied into the wish for closure: the desire for them to recognize the bonds you thought you had.

    All Chumps want closure. We hope that if we untangle the skein of fuckedupness, we can get it. We maybe want to talk with our Cheater and get the Truth, which will give us closure. We want the sit-down with the in-laws whom we loved so that we can neatly wrap up that particular relationship. We don’t get any of this, and as a result, we’re deeply hurt.

    I think, however, that we get closure. It’s just not the closure we wanted. Especially when you’re in the new stages of Chumpdom, there’s the desire that perhaps the Cheater will See the Light. When you confront the Cheater, the Cheater will fall down on their hands and knees and confess that they’ve been stupid, that they realize that they love you and you alone, and that they’ll do whatever it takes to regain your trust. This is what’s supposed to happen, and it’s the narrative put forward by popular culture. When we don’t get it, we think we’re missing closure.

    This is why you have to Trust that They Suck. Once you trust they suck, you can see the real narrative.

    “My Cheater told me he wanted a divorce, ran off with Schmoopie, and moved to a foreign country” is the short form for “Cheater turned out to be living a double life, fucking all sorts of his coworkers. Once I discovered the affairs, he skedaddled off with the latest ho-worker instead of facing the fallout and working through it. In an attempt to put even more distance between his affairs and the consequences, he accepted a position in another country. I, however, am getting the divorce underway, looking into the future, and preparing myself to meet the world on MY terms.”

    Closure with the family is similar. Even if they believed whatever narrative Cheater told them about the divorce, they still had the note from you. They could have responded. That they didn’t tells you that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. They, too, can’t deal with the fallout. The appropriate thing would have been to respond to your note with something like “We, too, are sorry that things didn’t work out. Our best to you in your future life.”

    They didn’t. That tells you that they don’t face their problems. They run from them and hope that the problems go away–and their son learned the same thing.

    You, though, are facing your issues head on. You are Mighty!

    Now go gain that life!

    • “You can laugh because you now see the transparent manipulation underlying what he says and does.”

      I did this recently. The ex stressed that he wanted me to know that he wasn’t one of “those guys” who bad-mouthed his spouse to his other women. Even when he first said this, I recognized it was image management and paltry recompense for the fact that he was having affairs. But about a month ago this point flitted through my mind and I laughed aloud at a sudden realization: he was manipulating me by setting up expectations for what a decent spouse would do in our situation–i.e., I should keep my mouth shut about his infidelities.

      Your example of the sample in-law letter is what I thought I would receive from my ex’s family. They circled the wagons very quickly and tightly however.

  • I, too, was ghosted, and dumped by his mother and sister (meh).

    You know what hurts like a MOTHER FUCKER?? Is when they DO know the truth, and justify it. They rationalize that he wasn’t happy, and He Deserves To Be Happy, and You Had Issues, Too. And you’re spoiled, you’re irritable–and remember that one time you were terrible? So, yeah–he left, and you’ll have to Get Over It, and Thank God He Is Happy Now.

    I’m just saying–whether they know or not is not going to save you from the horrific rejection. They will circle wagons, and it’s even worse when they know the truth and still reject you. CL is right, too. If these were the warm-hearted type of people to care about right and wrong and to LOVE you, they’d have sought the truth out and embraced you through this difficult time. Instead, even after knowing you for all these years, they’ve decided to believe whatever bullshit your ex has told them about you, and that is that. Trust me, I know.

    As for you being chronically miserable? Maybe. Have you been to a therapist? I mean, it’s possible. But I will bet really GREAT money that you, my dear, were gaslighted your whole relationship. You see, he transferred all the responsibility for adulting onto you, and skipped off to have affairs with colleagues. That means that not only were you alone in a sham marriage, you had little of the fun and all of the drudgery. He was not invested. He may have given you superficial, meaningless praise, or superficial “It’s ok, don’t worry!” (so easy for HIM to say, right??) FUCK HIM. That makes me so mad! Your ex was likely showing all sorts of subtle and not subtle symptoms of his devaluation of you. He was probably manipulating you in ways that you haven’t quite put your finger on. Your heart and mind were screaming at you that something was not right. You were in a state of perpetual cognitive dissonance–that breeds depression. And then they point the finger at YOU and tell YOU that YOU are the problem. The Coward did this to me, too. If he wasn’t fucking some whore while I took care of all the chores and worried about money (he shared none) then he was on his hours-long workouts, or working overtime, or adding to my responsibilities and draining money for a “vacation” home that only he wanted. He did the fun part of parenting when he felt like it, and left me with the rest. And *I* was the miserable one.

    Guess who has two thumbs and is so happy to not be dealing with a covert narc any more? ME!

    Guess who is chronically miserable? Not me. Do I have anxieties and complaints and joke about my neuroses? Of course. But I am not what he made me out to be to his family. My family and friends know what’s up.

    One suggestion: start making a list of all the things you hated about him, and all the things he did that hurt your feelings, all the times he put you off, broke promises, or refused to support you. I called this my “Reasons Why I’ll Never Go Back” list. Not that I had a choice–I was ghosted. But I loved reading that list. I was just remembering the other day how he would insist on using a nasty handkerchief over and over and over when he had a cold, blowing into it repeatedly, then wadding it up and shoving it into his pocket, and never washing his hands, then throwing it into the laundry for me to wash. *shudder* I’d ask him to use disposable Kleenex, and he’d yell at me for being such a shrew. Good times. I was the miserable one. That’s on the list, of course.

  • Stella,

    “Unhealthy imaginary conversations” still run through my head too. But not nearly as much as they used to! You are 7 months out from Dday which is not that long. You need to process to heal. To me, processing isn’t untangling the skein, it is really giving your brain time to get over the shock and accept what has happened. Processing is just coming to terms with reality. Processing is gaining insight and connecting the dots. (Only for you – you don’t connect his dots) He is gone and you know the truth. Tell your story often. Tell it to your journal, your therapist, a support group like CN, and close friends. Tell it until you are well and truly bored. Boredom helps stop the ruminating.

    I wrote on a post-it note in my office “I know the truth”. I look at that note every day and it makes me feel strong. Oh, and definitely let his family know the truth when the timing is right. It’s empowering to speak the truth and does not matter in the least if they reply.

  • This sure was (is) a timely post. Ex’s evil cousin called me out of the blue yesterday – thank GOD I didn’t answer my phone since I didn’t recognize the number; when I listened to the voicemail message I about flipped OUT. Nonsense about how he (the cousin) had been wanting to reach out to me for several months but waited; how he’s sorry about our divorce but he’s “been there” and gets it (um, he is also a cheater and narcopath – at one time, I thought he was worse than my ex but I have been able to connect so many of the dots and I see how similar both are). I’d blocked him on social media (as I have blocked all of ex’s family and extended) but these cluster Bs just HAVE to be central! There had been a weekend hootenanny where all of ex and the many divorced-yet-still-fraternizing-remarried-to-others-in-same-family-tree-and-various-and-sundry-half-siblings-turned-cousins-turned-ex-cousins-but-still-half-siblings kin, gathered – and while my absence was surely not noted or missed by any of them (since we never had anything in common from the get-go, and, I’m not from their midwestern city thus an “outsider”), I think it may have prompted this particular cousin to contact me. They are BIG into Impression Management, the lot of them.

    Well, I guess my point is, I pretty much was flipped out all day – while being completely annoyed with myself FOR feeling so flipped out. I’d been clipping along OK….having my moments here and there but mostly enjoying the peace that comes when one’s cheating ex FINALLY fucking leaves the domicile, even if it IS a year after having filed and a month after actually submitting the signed Settlement to the Courts; Ex and I are even…getting along well and there’s a spirit of cooperation that I don’t necessarily hold great stock moving forward, but is in my opinion, better than a Jerry Springer Shit Show…and then BAM! This call….which had me SO twisted, I actually called up the cousin’s ex-wife and ranted for about 15 minutes straight, then followed that up with random stream-of-consciousness texts as they formulated in my head – because they were in my head all day long. How DARE that asshole call me and intimate he “gets it” (and also hopes we can still say “hi” to each other in public should we bump into each other, or our kids get together or whatever) – ugh I could go on and on but bottom line is, I wanted to WRITE A CLARIFICATION LETTER to him and to all (or most of) ex’s KIN, setting the record STRAIGHT as to what actually went down. Cousin’s ex-wife said that the cousin only knows that ex “had an affair a long time ago”….which I also believe is what ex told his mother. It’s NOT true, and I have a real hard-on for TRUTH so this is something I’m struggling with though deep down, I also understand that blood IS thicker than water, and since there was never much love lost between me and his kin anyways, chances are that no fucks are to be given if I did enlighten them – and, it might just antagonize the ex. I don’t really care too much about THAT as I’m finally done having to worry about such nonsense – but, in the spirit of moving forward and keeping things all about “me” (not in a narcissistic or selfish way – but in a self-care, focus on what I can change/impact way) and staying positive, I have to admit that pausing to “clarify” ex’s cheating, fraudulent, narcissistic, petty, lying, low class behaviors and actions all while he was Impression Managing his image on the outside – well, that’s just a waste of personal resources and time. I am LOATHE to admit it – but even “for me”, it’s not worth it. I’ll simply ignore that voicemail message and carry on as though it never happened.

    So – reading this post has been timely and I appreciate all the responses from fellow chumps. Glad I saw this.

    Amazing how these cheaters are SO unoriginal. Who sent them the Playbook?

    Peace out!

  • I’m a fairly new lurker and had to chime in on this. I am almost a year out from D-Day and just finishing up final wreckoncilation attempts. CL and CN have opened my eyes to lot, and now that I’ve seen things that were patterns all along, I can’t unsee them—although I am still at war with my heart over the difference between the man I’ve loved with my whole heart for 17+ years, and the boy-man all evidence shows he really is.

    My ex-inlaws (well, not really, as we never were married) have always been loving and welcoming. I always said they liked me more than they liked him. That should have been a red flag right there: his family loved him, but didn’t respect him. He was always the “problem child” who’d let everyone down one way or another, but he never did it to me. (Until he did, spectacularly.) I clearly remember one day with his parents, early in our relationship, when he was in another room and I was gushing about how “wonderful” their son was—smart and funny, cooked delicious meals for me, etc.—and how I thought he must be the “perfect man.” The looks on their faces, as they turned to each other and then back to me… well.

    In fact, it was his sibling (“Sib”) who told me about the OW, although it took almost a year of him bringing her to family events (supposedly “as a friend” – she was his skanky high school girlfriend) before I was told. This was easily accomplished, since we were long distance. I know, I know, all the better to Chump you with, my dear. 17 years long-distance (red flag, meet spackle). I’d been in touch with Sib because Cheater had been so distant, hadn’t wanted to see me in person in almost a year (red flag, meet spackle), and some things he said around the holidays made me fear he was suicidal—which was not far-fetched, since he has always had tendencies toward depression, and had been framing the distance as “being in a dark place and having to work through some life decisions.” (red flag, meet spackle) He had apparently by his vagueness about my whereabouts, let it appear that we’d broken up, so Sib was initially surprised to hear from me regarding my worry about him. At first, Sib pushed me to “confront him and get some answers” but I was too deep in denial to push hard. It wasn’t until I had plans to visit Sib and the nieces and nephews when I was in their area, and to try to see him too, that I think Sib feared being put in a bad position when I found out the truth. Cheater was furious at Sib (as was the OW, who may or may not have known I was still in the picture, that is still unclear) for “not showing family loyalty.” Sib is also furious at him on my behalf, because I was considered part of the family for 16 years, even though we never married or lived together full-time (red flag, meet spackle). It was a bit vindicating to hear Sib say, “He’s my brother and he’ll always be my brother, but he’s still an arsehole.”

    Something I felt terrible about was that his parents must have thought that I just disappeared and didn’t say goodbye. So during this now-waning spate of wreckonciliation, when I found out his dad was having surgery, I reached out to his mom. Her response made me cry. Although we didn’t address what had happened between her son and me, she said ‘You are ALWAYS welcome to visit us.” And she signed it “with the most loving greetings” (translation from their language). And, since his family is not demonstrative (although he often marveled at how his mother hugged me so fiercely whenever we met—If I’m cynical about it, maybe she saw me as the last, best hope of unloading the Edsel?), that was HUGE.

    So, I’m not sure if it’s more heartbreaking to still have the love and regard of the ex-in-laws (who you also loved) and to know you will never again be part of that family through no fault of yours or theirs, or to be cut off and dumped by them as well as by the Cheater. I guess whatever happens to you personally is your own personal worst. Either way, it all sucks and it hurts so desperately. But it makes it a tiny bit better knowing that I am not alone in either my pain, or my shame at being such a pathetic Chump for so long. Someone above said that if there was a pill to take to make you forget all this, he/she would. I second that. If that was an option, I’d be on it in a hot second!

    • Very wise insights.

      But what about YOU? It sounds like your needs were really, really stuffed down for 17 years, until they were almost invisible to the naked eye.

      I was a great picker-up of relationship lame ducks and problem children all my life, complete with long distance, till I got some good therapy.

      Co-dependency AND commitment issues is a pretty crazy-making combination. ‘People as Projects’ – I could have had my own PBS half-hour regular slot. I Can Fix Him. I Am The Only One Who Understands. Etc etc etc.

      I hope you are getting good help and are building a better, cheater-free life now. helped me face up to Florence Nightingale issues, if you’re looking for some funny but confronting reading.

      • Thanks so much for this, Lola. The sad part, though, is that I really, sincerely didn’t see him as a fixer upper until just recently. I had escaped a hellish relationship with an obvious fixer-upper (which was also my lifelong pattern) before I met him, and I really thought he was move-in ready. Although, now that I look back, with the 20-20 hindsight of having had my heart trampled, that is so clearly not the case.

        It didn’t even occur to me that I was making my needs small, but now I see it. After a few years, I really wanted to have a full-time life together, but there were a lot of logistical reasons (on both sides) that were challenging although not insurmountable. I had never been a “marriage and babies” kind of person, until I met him, and I didn’t want to make myself “that girl.” But it’s so clear now that I really should have pushed for what I wanted. Given his commitment aversion, we probably would have broken up years ago, if I had, and rightly so. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Looking back it was totally the fear of losing what I had (which was great in so many ways—he checked all my boxes of intelligence, humor, attractiveness, values) if I tried to push for what I really wanted. So, what’s a little emotional avoidance and commitment-phobia between friends? We’re free spirits!

        It was the same during the year of him being distant, when he was carousing around with his newly-divorced skanky old flame and telling me he “just needed some time alone to think about his life.” Meanwhile, I was going through some of the hardest times in my life. Even having no idea about the OW, any normal person would have said, “I don’t know what’s up with you, but sort it out and be an actual partner or we’re done.” But I didn’t, because of the fear of losing what I thought I had. So, yeah.

        I guess the only positive thing is that, although we are not yet NC (I haven’t gotten that brave yet) I am starting to work on myself (in therapy, at least, not so much in life) rather than untangling his skein. I don’t EVER want to go through this again. Turns out I am an enabler, from a long line of strong women who have enabled their men’s crappy behavior for generations. Who knew? I have a good therapist, and have started setting boundaries. Which is TERRIFYING, I have to tell you. And also sad and scary, because now I know I have to do the thing I have been avoiding for years: “lose” him because if I don’t I will lose myself.

        Finally, thanks for the link to the “Mr. Unavailable” excerpt. It’s funny, because I actually bought that book a few years ago for a friend who was in a bad relationship (again). At the time I was riding high on having found the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with, so it never occurred to me that maybe I should have read it too 🙁

        • I hear you. Loud and clear. Lifetime pattern here also.

          To be honest: No Contact is your best friend right now. I’d really encourage you to take that brave step and do it.

          People like you and I usually make the classic beginner mistake of telling him you’re going No Contact – the best way is just to do it.

          Unfortunately if you Google ‘No Contact’, you get a whole lot of websites advertising it as a ploy to Get Your Man Back.

          But that’s not why you should do it – you should do it to Get Your Soul Back, and your sanity, and your sense of self, and your direction in life, and your joy, and your mojo, and everything else that’s good.

          No Contact is painful at first, but it gets progressively easier really quickly. It clears your head like no one’s business.

          At first you obsess over them, but with good therapy and self-help, you can push past that as well. I read a cheesy self-help book called *Don’t Call That Man!* which was actually really, really helpful! (plus cheap on Kindle)

          Give yourself time, and focus on untangling YOU and rediscovering YOU – the free spirit that you clearly are. Genuinely free spirits can actually live really well without a partner at all.

          One of the things I have had to examine is ‘What IS a partner, for me? What does this concept really mean/feel like?’ The answer that came up was a combination of a DIY project and a crutch. Not very flattering, but very eye-opening.

          And hey – look on the bright side – a lot of women go too far in the opposite direction and ‘push for what they wanted’ for decades, doing all the heavy lifting in the relationship, and still get dumped.

  • I don’t think relations with in-laws can be salvaged in most cases. The pressure to side with their son or at least remain neutral is very high. These people probably think they are being “classy” by not saying anything critical to you. Or maybe they would like to say something nice to you but their son has told them that from a legal standpoint no one should communicate anything pleasant to you so it can’t be used as evidence against him. Or maybe they are angry with you because they had been counting on you to keep their jackass of a son from being such a jackass and now he’s screwing everything up again.

    Mourn the loss of these people as you need to but don’t cling to any illusions that you can ever make sure they know and believe the truth. They probably can’t handle the truth or are insightful enough to know they don’t want the truth.

    As for you not being “happy” enough for the EX? Well, that spiteful comment to you is just a load of bullshit. If he cared a whit about your happiness, he wouldn’t have been cheating on you. If your lack of “happiness” was a concern for him, he’d be dragging you into therapy. What he means is, “I’m a complete jerk, and you are going to respond to my behavior with emotions that could undermine my self-satisfaction, so let me pre-emptively make sure you know that all the unhappiness you are feeling is your own fault.” If a bank employee sneaks in and robs the bank one night and then tells his co-worker the next morning that the bank is going under because there isn’t enough money in the vault, would you blame the co-worker for the cash deficit? Your EX would.

    Things will get better. But like others, I hope you have a good lawyer to look after your interests. It is too hard to make smart, long-term decisions about finances and retirement plans and insurance and tax consequences when you are still wondering what the hell happened to your life. And everything about your EX’s behavior suggests he’s been planning some variant of abandoning you, so he’s probably made sure his interests are protected.

    • Thank you for your post (and everybody for their posts–wish I could comment to everyone to indicate my appreciation [shoot, is that a co-dependent impulse?!]).

      I do have a lawyer. Got one within the first 10 days of D-day. (Made him sad-sausage mad. In some ways, I am mighty.) Sadly, the lawyers are moving more slowly than I would like them to. Lots of feet dragging. I am eager for the particulars to be sorted.

      Really am doing NC as much as possible. Every now and then a business-like email is required but I share no daily life information. I agree that NC is pivotal. I think of contact as an indication that I care. He doesn’t deserve to think I care about him.

  • X came to me out of the blue while i was sitting the kitchen table organizing homeschool materials and told me I was depressed and he wanted me to see a psychiatrist. It was a total mindfuck (also projection)! I was like wtf, I am fine I’m just drinking coffee here. But he persisted for months gaslighting me and even I started thinking he might be right. Looking back it was just another step in his years long brainwashing mission. Naturally I wasn’t the happiest I had ever been but how could I be when he spent every spare moment with or in contact with our hapless helpless single mother neighbor? I was holding my own though because I’m as tough as they come. The day he surprise left us was terrible, but also great. The cloud of gaslighting has been lifting ever since. It can take years to start to see all the ways our X’s messed with our heads and warped our self-images.

  • Stella, I texted his sweet sister-in-law and told her that he was quitting his job and moving in with with his girlfriend a few hundred miles away. I let her know that this relationship had been going on for three years (off and on, I guess) I also let her know he threatened me with alimony and taking half of my retirement account (we weren’t married, thank god!), so I wrote him a large check and let him take vehicles I had paid for just to get him out of my life. She was sympathetic and I know she feels sorry for me, but she’s his family and I know she will stand by him as she should. I told her I wouldn’t contact her again and I won’t. But I felt so much better letting his family know the truth. He can spin it anyway he wants to and I know he will, but they will know my truth.

  • Stella….there is an end to this mindfuckery. My ex pretty much ghosted me too. I was blindsided by the affair. His family who claimed ‘to love me so much’ never spoke to me again. I was devastated. He went from my bed to Schmoopie’s bed within 24 hours. I took care of him through a bout of cancer where he almost died several times. He insisted we renew our wedding vows on our anniversary after he recovered. Five months later I caught him sneaking off to a motel room to fuck schmoops. They’ve been together ever since. He actually had the nerve to call me an ‘angry woman’ during divorce proceedings. You bet your sweet ass I was angry over wasting years on this fake man, fake marriage and fake life.

    My life is so much better cheater free and yours will be too….someday soon. Good Luck. You’re in good hands here.

  • Stella,

    I was also ghosted. No play for cake by XH. He moved out of our home and in with his Borderline Personality Disordered Schmoopie.

    I too heard that he was leaving me because I was unhappy: “You once said you hated your life.” Yeah, my mom died young, I hated my job, brother chronically ill, but never said I hated H or my marriage. Then when that didn’t stick, he moved on to: 1. “You took family on our vacations (his/mine). 2. Your wanted to quit your job once (I’ve been with the same company for 20 years). 3. “You’re controlling. The list kept going. I’m sure by now, I’m also directly responsible for global warming. Told others that we “grew apart”, “we were going in different directions”. It’s all bullshit. We’re not together because his whore danced the pick me dance better than I did. I didn’t know that we were competing and if I did, I don’t think I would dance. He told me that he didn’t “think you can forgive me for what I’ve done”. He was right, though he never copped to being a cheater.

    I also got ghosted by the XILS. XMIL was cray-cray. Emotionally enmeshing, passive aggressive narc. XFIL was a former cheater, conflict avoiding waste of matter. They used to call me their daughter. Within weeks of a very FAST divorce and after being their “daughter” for 17 years, they welcomed whore into their home. They switched me out with the whore just like he did. You see the mold, you understand the Jello. I know all I need to know to understand that normal people don’t do this shit. It’s them, not you.

    • This happened to me, too. I was “like a daughter to them,” they could see how much ex and I loved each other and they would support us in making it work blah blah blah.

      We leave their house and go to ex’s house where I come across evidence of an affair and betrayal and lying (in spite of our 5th attempt to reconcile, sigh…), so I dramatically leave him and he hoovers me hard for 2 weeks. He loves me, he will change, he wants to marry me, I’m his best friend, even sends me flowers along with many tear filled messages and blah blah blah.

      When I go nc and don’t respond, within 1 week he has new supply (not AP). I was upset and reached out to his ex wife (his kids mother). She proceeds to tell me all about how ex in laws just love this new supply and how they all went out for ice cream together (he never allowed us to go to this ice cream store as it was too $$$$) with all the kids. I cried for days and days. I could not believe the injustice.

      Now? Meh. Trust they suck.

  • Stella,

    One of the hardest things for me to handle, still 3 years after dday is that not only does he suck but he has been sucking for most of my 19 year marriage. I was being neglected and bullied and knew it but justified it (Spackled) and was happy just having a family. I use to tell him “good thing I am so strong and do not need to be pampered like most women” Turned out that long term everyone needs to know they are loved and be pampered a bit. I was an empty shell after 19 years. His words of love never matched up to his actions once we tied the knot. While dating he was Mr. Perfect. I was always chasing perfect after the wedding.

    When my MIL dies, My EX only had one sister for family. I found OW and filed for divorce, I was shocked when he showed up to the house one day to “Pick up a few things” with his sister and her finance (I had always gotten along with them) and without going into detail, I will tell you it ended up with me injured, broken ribs, bruised and battered (3 against one). She was yelling things that were not true (my affair, my leaving him and breaking up his family, my stealing HIS money…. ) and I realized it took many years of lies for her to get that angry. He had SUCKED for a very long time. He planned to leave and was managing the image years in advance. The only good that happened from that was my divorced happened 5 days later due to the violence. No fighting with a NARC.

    I took less than I deserve but got out fast and NO CONTACT is my very best survival tool.

    I think in the beginning was the pain of the flying monkeys that took his side after all he had done. He cheated, He stole family funds, he physically hurt us (yep even the kids) and he moved several hours away and refuses to help pay for his college age kids and I am the one some of these people turned their back on… What has happened to morals and values. But as I move away, I realize I never lost one person that I really connected to and liked. I did not lose anyone who really loved me for me. It was just a way to weed out the shallow and toxic people.

  • I’m on the opposite side of this situation. My brother’s marriage broke up last year, after 20+ years. She had been cheating for at least 15 years, so basically most of the marriage. We had no idea.
    I loved this woman like the sister I never had, and we all loved her entire extended family. Spent most holidays with them and all of the kids birthday parties. I think they really loved us too.
    I remember the last time I was over there before the divorce announcement. I had no idea it was the last time I would see her or her family. Her elderly aunt died recently and we didn’t even hear until after the services were held.
    We’ve seen the kids of course, they are high school and college age, but not anyone else, it’s so sad. I don’t understand how people blow up their own lives like this. My other siblings were so angry at her family, thinking that they must have known what was going on, but I don’t think they did.

    • This is an interested comment that reminds me of something my Oma said to me once.

      My uncle had divorced his wife of 20 years very suddenly. The reasons were never given to the family but he clearly hated her deeply. He confided a bit in my mom that when they were separating that neither one of them wanted the marital bed. In fact , they were fighting over who would dispose of it. I remember saying to my mom that I thought that was very odd and suggested that this I indicated a sexual issue (there were whispers within the family that they were swingers gone wrong)….

      Anyways, my Oma was talking to me about this one day saying that at her age it was so hard that she is asked to accept spouses into the family and then asked never to talk to them again when the relationships go south. She said she treated this woman as part of the family for 20 years! She loved her. She was the mother of 2 of her grandchildren. And now she was forbidden by my uncle to never speak her name or talk to his kids about her…..

  • Stella, I was abandoned by Jackass, too, after a 35+ year friendship. I wanted explanations, apologies, closure, a chance at reconciliation. In fact, I felt certain that after a cooling-off period, he would eventually sit down and tell me what happened. We were friends. Weren’t we? Weren’t we?

    But we weren’t friends. I was his friend. He was a disordered fuckwit jackass. I came to see that he would never give me an explanation because he didn’t have one other than “you aren’t the boss of me.” Once the mask fell off and I saw him for what he was, he was gone. And I also came to see that I was much better off because I was discarded and that discard gave me the time and space to see what he was, and is. It’s a blessing, once I realized that being discarded by a disordered fuckwit does not mean that I was trash to throw out. It’s like a hyena picked up a diamond or a brand new iPhone and eventually put it down because it had no idea what it had.

    And I hope you stop talking to him. Let the lawyer work out the details of your settlement. And if you have to communicate, don’t use phone or text. Email only. No contact.

  • For the last 2 1/2 years I have been thru hell. Nothing went right I tried to keep everyone happy and I was use to things going badly that is why to my surprise my Tuesday really did come . Yesterday I signed the lease on an apartment in Brooklyn . Had all of the utilities put in my name I will be moving in with in the week. When everyone talks about their Tuesday I now get to join in. This whole moving experience went off without a hitch. That is why I was worried. Can it really be this easy. I was waiting for the shoe to drop becaise for the last 25 years I have had nothing but drama and disappointment from this moron. Is this how life is suppose to be ? Easy . Wow I am surprised. I am looking toward to the new beginning it just so happens that is really was a Tuesday. Thank you chump lady and chupetts for being here when I needed you the most. The strength and guidance was astounding. I will continue to be a loyal reader and recommend this site to all those is need.

  • Hugs Stella. I too was left in the dust without even a glance backwards as were our kids. He hasn’t seen them in years. He just packed and left while I was at work one day. That was it. No explanations nothing. I found him at the now OWife’s place a week later. I did meet up with him for a coffee a couple of months after he left… All he could say was he didn’t love me any more. 20 years of marriage and I got nothing. No explanations, no reason, no thought for me or our kids. He hasn’t seen his kids for around 6 years now and is raising hers. I am nearly 8 years out now and it still stings. It took a long while to realise that this had absolutely nothing to do with me. It was all about his entitlement and narcissism. They have no empathy. They are not your people. They don’t have your back. THEY SUCK. Yep the inlaws treated me the same. Once you get that into your head, it is so much easier to deal with. Keep going lovely xx

    • It’s hard for us chumps to comprehend but truly cheaters have an abnormally low level of empathy. Something is wrong in their brain. Once you realize that, you realize there is no relationship to be had.

      • For a psychology class I once had to watch a video that featured a chimpanzee yawning. The purpose of the lesson was to share that empathetic people will find the chimp’s yawn contagious. While watching the clip, I yawned and looked over at my husband…he was not yawning. At the time, we just laughed about it. Now I wish I’d taken more notice.

        • They don’t startle easily either. I am a bit of a jumpy person so I valued my X’s calmness. Wish I had known – sign of a sociopath.

          • Is the trait of calmness actually a sign of a Sociopath? OMG, I actually admired THAT about him. Each day, it all gets clearer.

  • The in laws ghosting you is a blessing, IMO. I did the opposite and have gone no contact with them and as no contact with the ex as I can considering we have a child together. From him for obvious reasons (avoid manipulation and just overall bad feelings, rebuild my life), from them because my desire to move on is so great at this point that anything in between me and that goal is poison, and keeping in touch with in laws is riddled with emotional land mines. I let them know as much in a friendly fashion, but I’m sure they feel abandoned and what not…but that is not my priority–myself and my daughter are now. And besides, I’m no longer enabling and spackling for my ex, so any conversation with them about “so what really happened” is not gonna end well for them, or me. Why rehash? Nothing changes.

    At the end of the day, this is your one life. To spend it communicating with people who will inevitably bring about negative feelings in you is a waste of that one life. Even if his family fell over themselves trying to console you and assuring you that they love you and want to still be your family, would that real be better? Do you really want that lingering tie to someone who treated you like garbage?

  • i understand the situation re: family. my ex’s family actually tried to keep in contact with me, but they gave up after i was unresponsive. i liked some of them (brothers in law and their partners particularly) but just couldn’t bear being around them because, in doing so, i felt like i was still kind of involved with my ex.

    no contact is very hard because it forces you to face your fears and losses, rather than trying to salve them by clinging to some false hope that things could be different between you and your ex. the truth is that he will never accept any responsibility, you will never get an apology and the only real “revenge” you can have is to focus on yourself and fix your life.

    congratulations for not having kids with this cockhead.

  • Dear Stella, why would you expect his family to be any different than your cheater ex? After all, they created him, so they likely think like him and will naturally take his side. For them to give you the empathy, kindness and caring you deserve will not come from a family that created a cheater. They were likely polite to you all these years you were married to this scumbag, but it doesn’t mean they were loyal to you. They probably maintained their loyalty to douchebag and always will. Politeness doesn’t equal loyalty. It sucks but similar things have happened to me after I dumped boyfriends who were assholes. Also of a sudden my ex’s family that adored me when we were together, would start attack me after our breakup and he was the asshole. Been there, done that.

  • How I wish I was ghosted!!!
    Instead I was kept dancing for nearly 5 years through international custody battles, several hundreds email from psychotic OW pretending to be my ex and emotional abuse of my kids that I could do nothing about.
    I agree that ghosting is very painful and makes you question your worth but trust me after 5 years you will not care at all.
    I do however care that all the profit money from the sale of my flat went to pay my solicitor/ courts and that I might never be able to afford another flat in London.
    This hurt me before, hurts five years later and will probably hurt me for a long time to come.
    Him leaving… meh

  • I can relate to a lot of what is shared. For me the abandonment reasons included something new and different each time I asked. “Something missing”, I wasn’t fulfilled “, “ I thought I was being ungrateful being unhappy and should just “suck it up.” Also AP and he shared “authentic “ love that was “unconditional”. And it “felt right.” Writing these down I realise how absurd they are but I have spent much much time analysing it all. Very hard w/e coming- our 30th. I am running away with some girlfriends. As to the in laws- although they live in the same street we have not been close. They told me they “didn’t want to know the truth”. But they got to hear some anyway. I have implored them on a few occasions to support the kids. No effort at all. They still occasionally email and say: “it would be nice to see them” . I agreed with this sentiment in a recent email and sent them all the kids mobile phone numbers. “ just in case you don’t have them”. As if. They remain silent. I maintain a respectful and distant relationship and have politely declined to go out with STBXs sisters to commemorate our wedding anniversary.. Why?? Too weird.

  • I could have written this letter myself, Stella.
    Everything you wrote about is similar to my story as well, except I never tried to contact the now ex-in-laws. By the time I figured out what all and how long exh2 had been talking shit about me behind my back (and social media posts), I no longer cared that they ditched me along with their son. F*ck them.
    It’s been almost three years now since D-Day, Stella, and I can tell you that the process sucks going through it, but it really, truly does get better.

  • Stella – you described the way my stbx acted perfectly! I am 18 months out now and my life is so much better. After discovering CL and one major incident I started to realize that I do not need anyone that puts me down in my life. The only responsibility he had was for his job, I did all the rest. As to his family, same way. First it hurt, but now I could not care less. Oh yeah and the ghosting! Think about it, how much more immature can he get? Such a coward. In some way I see this as a reflection on me. I choose to interpret it, that I am such a mighty woman that he is scared of me, and that makes him a coward. In time we will realize GOOD RIDDANCE to all of it, the exes and their pitiful families.

  • Used to go camping with my XILs. One year it was the worst vacation ever, start to finish. Here we were in the middle of fucking nowhere and everybody was treating me like shit. That next year I drew the line, I will not be attending. YOU go. Looking back I now know that Fucktard was juggling two lives. It was really hard for him, he couldn’t run off to his “supply” and his sis has always supported him. Years later (after Dday) I looked at our phone bill and two calls were logged on back to back. One to Schmoop, the other to Sis. Dday was the day after these calls were made.
    It was best for me to go no contact with his entire family, too much hurt to go forward. I wanted my new life to be authentic. To be surrounded by people who loved me.

  • Stella my heart goes out to you. What you have is classic cheater narrative. My in-laws ghosted me too. I thought of them as my parents, after 20 years. Ex told his new schmoopie that he left me because I was unhappy. Duh…the pick me dance made me very depressed and miserable. Don’t try to untangle any of it. I know. It’s practically impossible not to. What they do is all about them. They are unhappy and insatiable. They are utter morons. Someday you will see that he did you a favor. You deserve better.

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