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You Don’t Need It THAT Bad

paralysisI get a lot of mail and many of my questions boil down to — How will I ever manage? How can I be alone? Surely it’s a cesspool out there and All The Good People Are Gone!

Generally, these people are telling me this to make rationalizations to stay. On the one hand, they’ll outline chapter and verse about how completely untenable their situation is, but then they’ll tell me how the future is so scary, so they stay paralyzed with indecision. As if these things were commensurate and could be weighed — the dreadful existence you are currently living versus the nightmare you imagine you’re going to.

Did anyone ever hesitate to run out of a burning building because they were afraid of fresh air?

Sure, you could imagine future calamities, but does that justify staying in a burning building?

But it’s hard out there! I won’t have a house. I’ll have to rebuild one, stay with relatives, and be the sad object of pity because my house burned down.

Okay. But you survived the fire.

And uh, duh… your house was burning, what did you think you should do?

These discussions usually come down to — I hate that my choices suck.

Yes, they do. I’m sorry folks, often choices suck. But when choices suck, I think the best thing to do figure out where you have the most agency, the most control over a given set of circumstances, and move in that direction. (Remember, you only control yourself.)

That’s why my advice here is — go save yourself, you’ll figure out the what next.

And I know it’s hard. I lived it. But it’s also full of rewards and surprises, and it’s a hell of a lot better than being married to an arsonist.

But how do you get into that mindset? How do you become someone who acts with self-protection? I think you have to let go of whatever you’re holding on to and realize it’s going down with that burning house. Your ego. That intact family. Your sex life with that person. You need to tell yourself that whatever it is you’re clinging to — you don’t need it that bad. Seriously, you can do without. Let it GO. The shit you never, ever thought you could let go of — let it GO.

I need to stay married so I don’t feel like a two-time divorcee and middle-aged failure.

Nope, don’t need it that bad.

I need the constancy of an intact family for my children.

Don’t need it that bad. Not at this price. No sir-ee.

I need this person’s financial support.

Don’t need it that bad. Not at the cost of my dignity and self-respect. Nope, think I’d rather flip burgers and live in a box.

I need to be coupled, because no one will ever love me again. There’s no one left.

Don’t need it that bad. Living in a bunker alone with cats until the end of your days is preferable to this cheater.

See how that works? You have to be prepared to run into the arms of “I’ll figure it out.” I know it sucks, but I have every confidence in you that you WILL figure it out. Seriously, I do. I know there are huge, scary challenges out there — serious shit like supporting your children, like facing 337 lonely Saturdays, or figuring out how to reinvent your remaining years. But you’re a chump and you’re mighty. You have deep reserves of faith, misplaced until now, but directed to yourself? You’re going to be okay. And then fine. And then better than fine.

When you “need it that bad,” you’ll do anything for it. You drive down the price of your self worth. Demand a higher price. Know your worth. I promise you, whatever it is? You don’t need it that bad.

This column ran previously. I am a bazillion miles from home. Greetings from the future!

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Every time you support Chump Nation on Patreon, a bunker is populated with chumps and cats. And it’s a GOOD LIFE.

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  • I had to live in my car. I had no money, no job……nothing.

    But, it was better than the alternative.

    I also knew I could handle any type of pain or misery……I once sat through a Michael Bolton concert for my ex-wife’s birthday.

  • ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know’…right? No. Better no devil at all!

    I still can’t believe I was prepared to put up with the way stbx treated me for the Rest of my Life. Whaaaaaattt??! 🤦‍♀️

      • I like this concept, Doingme…Here, please take this fuckwit from me, good luck, they’re your burden now.

    • Yup, raising my hand right here on that. I boiled away in my frog water and was prepared to take a mountain of shit. I didn’t realize it was boiling until I was abandoned; he had to dump me in the end because I wasn’t reacting to his increasing disdain of me. I am glad to be free but the discard was brutal.

      My bunker has cats.

      • Ain’t that the truth? I’m sure he was trying to push me to be the person that left. Why was I willing to put up with his distain and contempt? Until DD#2.

        In my case, I think I was clinging to our lifestyle. The big house. The mountain vacation home. The in-tact family for my daughter.

        Oh, and that I committed to him, myself and everyone else that I would be faithful, for good and for bad… blah, blah, blah. I was a child of divorce. I waited 3.5 years before I married — 1.5 years after he proposed. I wanted to be sure I was in a Rick solid relationship. And we waited another 7 years before we tried to have kids — married 10 years (and 3 miscarriages) before it happened. I wanted to make sure I was in a rock solid marriage.

        I was duped. It sucks. It hurts. It makes me not trust myself.

        • I waited 20 years before I said I would get married. I sold my house. I included him on a real estate deal that made him a whole lot of money. I bought a farm with him which was supposed to be our dream farm come true. All the while I was doing that he was using Korean prostitutes on a regular basis. So yes a bunker with cats could work! But a bunker with dogs would be good. Dogs do loyalty.

  • “I need the constancy of an intact family for my children.”

    I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with myself on this very “need.” Surely, I thought, I could put up with KK’s deception and disrespect until my daughters were out of high school (5-6 years). Accepting that the intact family wasn’t going to happen was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, and is the only regret I’ll carry with me until I die.

    But when I realized I’d never advise my daughters to endure such disrespect as the price of staying intact, it became easier to move forward alone.

    • Thank you UXworld for your erudition in explaining your story and decision-making processes. They are an inspiration to all us male chumps out here in the ether. This is what I am now processing in my own case (Accepting that the intact family wasn’t going to happen), and it hurts like a mofo. Like you, I will regret it until the day I die; the look of sadness behind my kids’ eyes even when they are “happy” is horrible, and I feel culpable for it. I “bred with a fuckwit”, so have to own it.

      • I HAVE an intact family!

        My grief over losing what I thought was an intact family was huge. I feared that I was ruining the rest of my sons’ lives. How would they cope without their father? The loss of the huge extended family?

        Five years post divorce and eight years post DDay, I can tell you that my relationship with my 2 sons and daughter-in-law is stronger, tighter and happier than anything I could have imagined.

        They have close to zero relationship with their father and minimal relationship with the extended family and we are GREAT!

        Holidays are whatever and wherever we want them to be and we have fun. No subject is off the table and we discuss everything. They are my pillars of strength and I am the one they know will do anything for them. I never thought we could become closer than when we were as an “intact family” but we are. We weathered this storm together and came out the other side together and bonded. Complete honesty and transparency started at DDay and continue as the rule of our family. It is a wonderful way to live and I adore my family.

        I had no idea that the “new” family could ever be closer and happier.

        Instead of fearing things will be worse, imagine the possibility that things will be even better!!!

        • Yes! This is so true. Despite the destruction the cheating idiot left in his wake, the fact is that this family was immediately improved by his exit.

          Turns out that the thing I was working so hard to preserve–some sad semblance of the presence of a dad–was the very thing that was harming us most.

          So, guys–I hope you toss that regret. You and your kids are a family, and a healthier one without a cheating, selfish, deeply messed up mom.

          Most of us chumps do seem to wait on divorce until it is the only ethical path left. No shame in that.

          • @cashmere

            Turns out that the thing I was working so hard to preserve–some sad semblance of the presence of a dad–was the very thing that was harming us most.

            Yes – at least within my household. They can go play “happy fake family” with him – he cannot tolerate any criticism so my younger two play along. In my house, we are honest and open to all conversations.

            • Mine too. All ex does is take them on expensive vacations and Groupon “experiences”. The real parenting and real bonding happens in my house, where we move through the ups and downs of life together. On 1/5 of his income.

          • Yes, the pick me dance for the sake of the children having an intact family because statistically children of divorce have so many more problems. Well where are the statistics showing the damage of having a covert narcissistic abuser in the home? Has anyone researched that sample? No, but daily we are fed the line of how important a relationship with the father (in my case) is no matter how sucky his behavior.

            @UX world your post about thinking you could stick it out 5 or 6 years for the children made me think of how I went from sticking it out for the intact family to my current I can stick it out for 2 years with our family wizard and a parent coordinator in order to have sole legal and physical custody. My how the narrative in our heads can change when we look at things from a different perspective.

            • Having a narc parent is recognized by mental health professionals. It’s called ACoN or Adult Child of Narcissist Parent. There are lots of books and support groups for ACoNs.

            • I hate that the divorce industry loves to shove that idea that children need a father. All my ex had to do was show up in court and cry about wanting a relationship with his child to change visitation to 25 hours a year supervised to 5 days every other month. He’d had no contact for almost a year, but when I went to court to move he suddenly wanted to play dad! Cried to the judge about how he just wanted to be a father. When I told the judge he’d had no contact for almost a year, the judge said, “Well he wants to know. Give him a chance.” 3 years later and we are back to no contact. Playing daddy only lasted a month after court.

        • Rebecca,

          THIS times 1000!!! I couldn’t have said it any better if I tried.

          After multiple DDays, I knew I just couldn’t do it anymore. BUT, I had this internal struggle of wanting to keep our family together not matter what. Ya know, I took those vows seriously!!!

          Once I got out (I’m a year & a half out from divorce), life is so much sweeter on the other side. I am finally living the life that I deserve. I have a wonderful relationship with both of my kids, I am getting ready to start a job that will make things more secure for me financially & allow me to move back to my hometown, I come & go as I please and answer to no one. Both of my kids tell me that if it weren’t for me, they wouldn’t be where they are. They are respectful, kind, fun young adults who enjoy spending time with their mama 🙂

          As for my X, he’s moved off 3,500 miles away with Schmoopie in search of the mother load gold nugget. I hope he finds it. I am by far richer than he’ll ever be.

          • Awesome @brandib. If only I could get mine to move away – even out of the community. Last night, he held court with the neighbours outside of my house for 45 minutes. To even hear his voice coming into my backyard grated on my nerves particularly since I have yet to tell anyone what went down. He’s still the great guy charming all around him.

          • I wish I could move away, or exh2 would move.
            Either way, he hasn’t paid child support in over nine months, but keeps up with visitation.
            I just want to be free of him once and for all.

        • Rebecca.. your post is what I am beginning to experience.My daughters and I are better …more relaxed..we laugh and have fun. No waiting hours for dad to show up..no seeing disapproving dad face, no over reaction to things said, no wanting things dad’s way, no dismissing our good for his poorly articulated and unattainable ideal.

          Our family was destroyed but we are building a new one. I like the new one. I still feel a sense of loss but I’m not sure for what. It gets less every day.

          • Ah the nasty glances of disapproval. I sure don’t miss those at all. And life is so calm without his high maintenance, never good enough, his way or the highway ass around. I’m two years out from another Dday (but the last one for me!) and although at the time it felt like a double edged sword-I was devastated for how it would be for my teens and giddy I had a legit reason to divorce him, things are more peaceful for all of us. I feel like there is some normalcy for my teenagers when they are with me.

            They still interact with him but without me as a buffer, they are starting to see him for the real ass that he is. He’s ‘grumpy and in a mood’ often per my kids. Only amusing now because he went straight to his young schmoopie (DD14’s 20-something asst sports coach in my kids’ Catholic high school). I thought a young schmoopie fixed all the misery from being married 20 years to a middle aged mommy with accompanying mommy body 🙂

            • I think my kids (they are adults) are really seeing how much I buffered his awkwardness. My middle one refers to time with her dad as “The Dad Show” because all he does is talk about himself. Doesn’t ask questions about their lives. My youngest is finally expressing anger at him for not being around and being distant and distracted. Spackle free dads are not so awesome.

            • twiceachump – Our daughter sees her dad for the ass he is. And she sees he will not change. She said he can’t stop. Yep – grumpy and in a mood – even though he moved out with girl over half his age, bought bigger toys, etc… He got away from 55+ year old me, and, in fact, he seems to be even more miserable than ever. Must be hard when all the new shiny things don’t make you happy. And his way o the highway – no reasong, negotiating – nothing. Just spiteful nastiness. ugh. So glad he’s gone.

        • Good point, Rebecca. My nuclear family is me and my three kids, and we are very much intact. Figure in my extended family as well, and my children have a number of other loving relatives and role models in their lives. We are probably happier with my ex-cheater out of our family, to be perfectly honest. I can’t imagine what kind of unhappiness I would have subjected my children to if I had stayed with that nitwit.

        • After DDay#2, I was done and some of the truth of the previous 2 years came out (not in detail but enough that my kids found out that there had been a DDay#1).

          My kids then asked me why I stayed after DDay#1. When I told them I didn’t want them to be part of a broken family, my 13 year old daughter said, “Our family isn’t broken. Dad just isn’t a part of it anymore,”

    • I feel compelled to amend the final words in my post: “. . . it became easier to move forward alone.”

      Fact is, I was never alone.

      I had my parents, my sisters, and every friend and family member who’d demonstrated to me in word and in deed that they’d always have my back.

      I had the good examples that had been set for me, and that I’d always tried to set for my own daughters.

      And I had the realization that when I made a promise to KK, I’d actually made a promise to myself — a promise borne of character, of honesty, and of being true to my word. I’d kept that promise, which meant that no matter how bad the pick me dancing had been, nor how difficult the postDDay shit show was destined to be, my dignity and integrity were intact.

      I was never alone.

      • I hope you realize how lucky you are to have such a supportive family!
        I only had my brother who lives on the other side of the country.
        My mother told me his cheating was my fault but I didn’t expect any support from her anyway.
        Wonderful for everyone that has supportive family but chumps CAN do this alone.
        It sucks really, really bad until one day it sucks just a little bit less. From that point on, it’s mostly goes forward with fewer and fewer setbacks.
        So worth finding your strength and living your truth outloud.

        • Im doing it alone. I was inspired by Traceys book to leave my cheater. My narcissistic family abandoned me when I left him. I was an isolated stay at home mom with no friends of my own. Everywhere I turned I ran into people who where just as abusive towards me as my family. He turned my kids against me by devaluing me behind my back to them and our friends and family.

          The only friend I had was my therapist whom I pay $180 an hour to encourage me to carry on despite all the obstacles.

          I finally turned to 3 women who I was friends with at different times over the years and they each welcomed back into their lives. I’m so grateful for each of them.

          Almost 3 years out and I’m still in the throws of a heated divorce. I’m nc with him, his family and most of my family. I’ve learned that alot of the stuff including our house just isn’t worth it to me. It’s completely unfair that I have lost everything in my life but in the end its just stuff. I may end up living in a van as a nomad someday but I’m ok with that – at least I’ll never have to see his face or hear his nasty put downs ever again. And all those Switzerland family and so called friends can bite me. I know I don’t need anything bad enough to put up with any of their shit.

          • Your user name is well, well chosen. I know just how hard it is doing it alone. You rock!! I know that doesn’t make it any easier, but I hope it helps to be validated that you are awesome and brave. ((Hugs))

          • StrongWoman

            I feel for you having such a miligment asshole. Three years? Holy fuckimg fuck. That’s horrible.

            Happy you reconnected with your friends. My family offered no support either. It took three and a half years for my sister to reach out.

            I’m hoping things turn around with your children. I’ve found that they do sometimes identify with the abuser. It’s painful. Keep your chin up. We’re here.

    • “But when I realized I’d never advise my daughters to endure such disrespect as the price of staying intact, it became easier to move forward alone.” Another chump adding to the chorus of agreement here. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure it out, that I would never want my daughters to allow themselves to be treated in the disgustingly cruel ways I allowed myself to be treated. Not ever, not for any reason

    • Yes. The ‘do it for the kids.’

      I researched so much on whether to stay for the kids. Many newer articles say a bad family with no violence is better than a broken one. That just added to the pressure.

      Some of us left because we were left. Some left because we became sick, physically or mentally or both. No sane person leaves a marriage or family easily.

      I was told contradictory stuff in by therapists as follows:

      The whole forgiveness stuff by Christian counselors. Funnily enough the Catholic priests I saw told me to separate.

      One counselor told me it’s ok to stay in a horrible marriage, that many of her friends do. That was not helpful. I never went back to her. I kinda knew that already and had been doing that. duh

      A counsellor at the battered women’s shelter told me ‘ when the pain of staying is greater than the pain of leaving you will leave.’

      A counsellor who had worked with abused children told me that children who are removed by the Children’s Aid Society will BEG to go home. Despite being burned, beaten and starved in that home. They are terrified of the unfamiliar. That had the biggest impact on me. It didn’t motivate me to stay. But it did validate how HARD it is to change a life situation. Non chumps have no idea how gut wrenching it is to totally change our lives and those of our children.

      It is hard on the other side. It was hard on the inside too. But this way I don’t have to be the morality police any longer to a sicko. Being associated with him and his deviance was cringe worthy every single day.

      He does his best to torment me now through the grown children. But, as Dr Phil says ‘you can call me a son a bitch, but you are going to have to do it long distance’ 🙂

      • Thank you for sharing all your research. My husband (or STBXH) has insinuated that I’m overzealous in researching and reading up on things to make me sound like some kind of control freak. I was sure that it’s not unusual to be informed about the decisions that we make by seeking out good and valid sources, rather than just doing things because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing.

        I think it makes sense to stay in a “bad marriage” (meaning not abusive though) if there is the potential of overcoming what is making it bad. We all know that marriages go through their phases of ups and downs. We don’t want to be short-sighted by leaving when the going gets tough without knowing that we did everything we could do. When we know that we reached out to our spouses again and again, identified issues, offered positive actions as solutions, tried again, gave them space, etc., then we have to ask ourselves why we’re spinning tires with no progress. Why does our spouse not respond to positive action for change? Why does the spouse resist your love? Why does your spouse avoid addressing serious issues in a serious manner?

        Then, we’ve got the grounds to question our present condition in the face of our mental and emotional well-being and that of our children. Because you brought up your priest, I will share the conversation I just had yesterday with my priest.

        He equated my husband’s actions with the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal Son wanted to take his inheritance early and check out of his family with the illusion of greater happiness elsewhere. My husband has decided that life with me is less than the love affair he is having with this other woman. He wants to cash out and go live out his fantasy.

        The Father in the story doesn’t try to stop his son. He doesn’t beg him to stay. He doesn’t guilt or control him. He gave that son his inheritance. It hurt him deeply to do so, but he did it. And off the son went to live out what he thought would be his glory.

        What did the Father go on to do? He lived out his life. He cared for his other son. They worked together to continue building up their farm and caring for their workers. They grew in their love and they continued to prosper as a family.

        My priest told me yesterday to be that Father. I have children to care for and protect. They need their Mommy to be whole. They need her to have energy and positivity and love. I will not have that if I continue to take from the well that my husband poisoned. I need to take from my own well, a well of fresh water that is continuously replenished by what is good and moral and right. There will be no greater benefit to my children, who are my greatest vocation in family life, than to have one healthy and whole parent.

        Let my Prodigal Husband go and spend his inheritance. To try to resist that is to continue taking from the poisoned well. Who knows what is to come in the story of our lives? Perhaps, like the Son my husband will spend his inheritance and be left with nothing. From there he might find great humility. But, I cannot wait around for that day, just like the Father did not just waste away for the day that his Son might return.

        And so my journey to mental and spiritual freedom continues and has leaped in spades the last few days. First was discovering that my husband has already cheated on this OW (and so she’s really not some great love of his life that he professes her to be). Second was my priest ensuring that letting go of the poison is the right way to go to live out a moral life of integrity. That is what will ultimately be the best thing for my children and our family.

        • Positively brilliant as usual, ONM. This is my situation exactly, too. I like the prodigal son outlook and need to look at it from that lens. Thank u for your insight.

      • My priest also told me to separate when it seemed like the whole world was telling me to stay. He also incidentally told me to do my best to try to limit my girl’s contact with their narcissistic, immoral father when the whole world was shoving “kids NEED a relationship with their father, no matter what he’s like.” I will die eternally grateful to that brave priest who named EVIL when he saw it and told me to run away from it–not towards it.

        • Yes to this! My priest, a young, new pastor from
          Latin America at the church (who I did not think would be sympathetic), said that the best thing to do was to get my boys (9 and 11-years old) and myself away from their father as soon as possible. I was obsessed with an “intact” family. We had been married 21 years and together 25. I keep my word and stood by my vows especially better or worse. The priest told me to get them away from that EVIL degenerate and model what a sane, responsible, moral parent should be. He said that there is NO excuse for abuse and he specifically meant emotional and psychological abuse. He said I had seen evil and had to act. Why are people afraid to call it what it is? I can report that now one year later, the boys are happy, healthy, and so relaxed at home. They love our home. Together with my mom (my savior) we are an intact family. The tension evaporated. No more walking on eggshells. Their father moved to another country. They don’t miss him one bit and the few times that he appears to see them they ask me when they can refuse to go. Society today is really messed up and the RIC cashes in but chump nation knows better. I hope CL and others can continue to educate therapists, counselors, ministers and others that the disordered are the ones destroying “intact” families and we are the mighty protecting our children and ourselves. Love you CN!

    • This is the hardest justification to staying in the marriage. Before D-day, when all I was conscious of was the emotional abuse (some of it quite subtle), a friend asked me whether I would still be in my marriage if I didn’t have children. Even I was surprised at how quickly I said, “No.”

      Some children will indeed thrive after a fuckwit parent is out of the house, and many will suffer from the divorce. In most cases, it is more beneficial to have one sane parent who is not semi-broken by the weight of infidelity. One can’t be a fully attentive parent in the midst of emotional abuse, or when focused on our own pain. At least in the case of divorce, the pain is finite and then we can get back to business. I knew that I could not be a full person if I stayed with my abuser, especially after I knew of his sexual/emotional treachery.

      • That was my viewpoint right after D-Day. That if I wasn’t a father to 2 young daughters and still had my IT career (stupidly gave it up 8 years ago to pursue a financially-unrewarding family business with stbx w) I would have walked away immediately, never wanting to see, hear or know anything about her ever again.

        So is staying “for the kids” any kind of reason? Nope not really. And yes I’d read all the research and stats. But now almost a year later and with her behaviour getting worse then I know deep down that I need to “grow some” and break the trauma bonds of the last 20 years. Not easy of course but this really is abuse and the only way to end it is to leave

    • I thought the same thing when I was married to my first husband who physically abused me. I wanted to stay together and get the kids raised. I fantasized that the day after the last one graduated from high school, I would hand that STBX divorce papers and then go on a two week cruise that included a stop at Aruba. I remember locking myself in the bathroom after an early morning tirade of his not being able to find a specific comb, sitting on the edge of the tub and thinking, “only another 14 years.” About 3 years after that, I was sitting in the county attorney’s office where he was telling me I was going to end up in a body bag if I stayed with him. I chose life.

      And so when I was finally aware that my second marriage was crumbling before my eyes, I took that failure incredibly personally. It will be two years in August when he informed me that he’d been blowing up my life, and the dream I had of raising kids with a man who I could respect and trust and who I knew was a good dad, went ‘poof.’ I struggle SO MUCH with the failure of it and all the time I wasted on that relationship…. only to know that he never, ever loved me the way I loved him. If he hadn’t left me without looking back in my direction, I’d still be dancing… so his doing that is probably the most decent thing he ever did. It wasn’t for me, but it probably be my saving grace.

    • This is what I am struggling with. I think about my 11 year old girl, all the time. Can’t believe her mother did this to her

    • My parents stayed ‘intact’. And I wish to hell that they hadn’t. Living in that toxic miasma darn near killed me, and I went on to unconsciously repeat unhealthy patterns from BOTH of them in my adult life. Trust me–kids will pick up on all the choices you make. Including the ones to choose healthiness, to choose boundaries, to choose self-respect, to choose truth over spackle–and the reverse is true, as well. They may be torn up at the time of the divorce, but at least they learn to see people clearly rather than going out into the world prepared to spackle the heck out of everyone (after all, aren’t those the kind of ‘skills’ that kept all us chumps in these situations in the first place?). Coming from a child who wished my parents had divorced, I hope this helps some of you feel less guilty for choosing healthiness. It will ALWAYS be the better choice in the end.

      • I absolutely second you, kibbleshopflop. My parents didn’t divorce until I was 22, but I truly wished they would have. My dad is an overt narc and my mom a champion spackler. It subconsciously instilled in me what to expect in romantic relationships, what’s “normal”, what should be tolerated to “keep things together”. I knew my dad sucked, but in trying to pick someone completely unlike my dad, I managed to pick a covert narc instead. Yay me. I didn’t see any of the red flags and stayed way too long as the relationship was growing awful, but I was committed (vows, anyone?) and convinced that this is just how marriage is. The flip side of this story is that when my mom finally left my father (this was before I was married) she really walked away. No contact, left him the paid off house, decided that nothing was worth this abuse and she could and would figure it out. She absolutely did and built herself a beautiful new life. That was instilled in me as well. So on DDay #1, within two weeks of pick-me-dancing/marriage policing/utter shock, I kicked the cheater out and shortly thereafter filed for divorce. I knew if my mom could do it, I could do it too. I have two kids with him, at the time they were three and one years old. I did not know how this was gonna work out. But I knew for a fact I could not force upon them a toxic home life, because for me that was the worst thing I had ever experienced.
        Also, as a kid who grew up in this mess, please don’t deny your kids’ reality. My mom, my whole family in fact, always pretended that my dad was “ok”, just eccentric. It really, really messes with your head and makes you not trust your own instincts, feelings and judgements when people deny that the relationship is abusive. My mom buried her head in the sand and pretended it wasn’t happening. I love her, she’s amazing in many ways, and I realize she was a victim too, but it wasn’t the right choice. Be the Mama Bear/Papa Bear your kids deserve. Protect them from anyone who is hurting them, especially if they are close enough to do real harm (like, for example, a parent). That doesn’t have to take the form of fighting a losing fight (my boys’ father has a lot of visitation, I’d never win sole custody). But it can be simply talking to them (as emotionally-neutrally as possible) about negative feelings they have towards the other parent, not negating their intuitions (I don’t tell my boys their dad loves them, I simply don’t talk about the topic at all unless they want to), and helping them learn to form their own opinions, their sense of self and
        their rights to themselves, as well as coping mechanisms for dealing with the disordered. It can be getting them a therapist or finding a support group (my son’s school counselor ran Banana Splits, awesome). This can pay off for them for their entire lives, helping them pick healthy relationships, be willing to end unhealthy ones and to deal with the disordered people they will inevitably encounter in life (fellow students, teachers, co-workers, bosses, etc etc etc).
        It’s been two years since I kicked the cheater out, we are almost divorced, and my life is better than I could’ve ever imagined. Better than it ever was before. Ever. I’m able to be the loving, attentive, financially-more-secure mom my kids deserve, rather than a scared, lonely, broke mess. And it all hinges around me finally being able to call bs on bs. Teach your kids that skill, it’s irreplaceable. To teach that, you first have to show them how it’s done. Go forth and show your kids what strength and resilience really look like, that no one should tolerate abuse. You’ve endured so much already, you have reserves of strength you don’t even realize. I remember feeling exactly the opposite, but it wasn’t waiting for strength that let me act, it was acting that built my strength.
        I will not promise you that everything will work out perfect, but I do think that no matter what, it will be better. And, coming from the Tuesday-side of better, better is real good. 🙂

        • Kibbleshop and Something new – I am sure there are many of us out here very glad to have read your stories. Instinctively it feels right, but society (those not in this position) tell us otherwise.
          My eldest daughter was relieved when me and her father separated (14 at the time). He is a covert narc – in trying to not pick my overtly narcissistic and abusive maternal grandfather I managed to pick a covert one – my greatest sadness. Initially I did spackle somewhat when he left but then I realised that by lying on behalf of an abusive and untrustworthy man, that made me an accessory and untrustworthy too. I don’t any more and, whilst I am careful not to editorialise, I will name his behaviour for what it is occasionally with elder daughter. She knows, his ploy is always to project blame onto others, so by never validating her (real) experience again is just not fair.
          My mum always said she wished her parents had split many years before he finally left my grandmother for his last affair partner (after very many) when she was 64. Growing up with them was miserable. I wish I had seen this sooner for my own children. Better late than never, I guess.
          My life is actually not brilliant yet – but I’m working on it. It is certainly better without him though.
          Thanks for sharing your perspectives x

          • I’m glad that you’re able to talk about the behavior with your daughter, and to do it without editorialising. Making it emotionally-heavy makes it harder from kids to hear the actual message. I agree with you that it is not right to lie to your kids to make things “easier”, as many people think you should. My fear is that by telling my kids that their relationship with their dad is what love looks like, it’s telling them that it’s ok to be cruel and abusive towards people you “love”, and I’m very afraid that they’ll believe it. That could easily set them up for many, many unhealthy relationships in the future. It’s harder in the short term to not play into society’s expectations of “smoothing” everything over “for the sake of the kids”, but I really think in the long run it’s doing kids a great disservice. They need to be taught right from wrong, good behavior from bad, and children learn a lot from what the people closest to them model.
            Please don’t beat yourself up for not seeing it sooner for your kids. You see it now, and it’s never too late. I didn’t learn how to call bs on bad behavior until I was 35 years old, and it certainly wasn’t too late for me! I’m glad for it everyday, in all my relationships. Being able to put words to it (projecting, minimizing, etc.) also helps me understand the world around me better, as well as the people in it. It’s an important education, though the people who haven’t been directly affected by the disordered don’t understand why it would be necessary. I understand that they are coming from a place of ignorance, and I just keep on doing what I know needs to be done. Wishing you a brilliant Tuesday soon. 🙂

  • I didn’t need any of it, as it turns out.

    But at the time, it’s super-scary.

    TRUST. Trust yourself for once.

    • This is so, so true. So super scary at the time. But if you can get through the fear and keep moving through the pain, a much better life truly is waiting on the other side. I also thought I needed it all, but it turns out that when I’m not spending all of my energy on a secretly back-stabbing emotional black hole my life gets immeasurably better. Who’d have thought, right? I’m no longer constantly working to bail water out of a sinking ship! My energy actually goes towards constructive, sustainable purposes rather than constantly being flushed away.

      To be honest, the hardest part for me was accepting that it actually WAS a sinking ship. To answer CL’s theoretical question, “And uh, duh… your house was burning, what did you think you should do?” my answer for the LONGEST time was, “Work harder to pour water on the flames, duh!” And I denied that they were flames. “Look! They create light…and warmth! Maybe I can re-purpose them into something useful! *spackle spackle* Don’t mind me while I bend over backwards procuring more patch-up wood–I need to keep up with the flames.”

  • Conceptually, I know this is true. I understand that my stbx is self destructive and sabotaging. But I’m still in that Cognitive Dissonance stage. He was abhorant to me. The psychological warfare,paralleled with the acceleration of his relationship with the OW, was unimaginable and unfair.

    But I can’t help but think that he never gave me a chance. We went through too much, too soon. In 3 years we went through debt, Army transition, 18 month consecutive deployments, fertility, chronic illness, death, and a move. We got married before we could properly heal from all of that insanity. We went through hell in high water, but as things started to settle down, he got bored and found comfort in the arms of a girl 14 years his junior (he’s 38, and she’s a 24 year old subordinate).

    I keep looking up Psycholathology and Narcissism, and he fits the criteria for both. But, he also fits the midlife crisis paradigm. People tell me that ‘maybe we just weren’t right for one another.’ The problem with that is that I wouldn’t know, as he was never honest. I kept finding things out on the back end. He was never forthright.

    I loved him with everything I had. I adored him, and his children. My family accepted him and embraced him. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was to love him enough to let him go. Scratch that, I love myself enough to let him go.

    It’s not so much that I’m afraid of the future, as I am grieving the fraudulent dreams we had together. We spent 7 years together, and have been connected for nearly 10. We got married two years ago, and his affair had been going on for nearly a year.

    I accept that we are over. This pain is unimaginable. However, the truest pain is that I loved someone so completely and naively who never even existed.

    For the rest of my life, I have knowledge that people like my stbx exist in this world.

    People tell me that ultimately, the way I found out and how I handled it (I kicked him out, I filed, I packed his belongings and placed them on the front yard for his retrieval), I got my power back. But the truth is, I never wanted to be in a power struggle with my husband. I didn’t know that I needed to be.

    If he had told me the truth as he started to pull away, i would have let him go. The devaluation and discard didn’t need to happen.

    I always thought that my husband was supposed to be my safe place. I never knew that I needed a safe place from my husband.

    • Lilyanne, my heart aches for you. You have done such a lot in a really short time – be a little kinder to yourself when you feel like this.

      Yes – it’s the most painful thing of all, to learn that your ‘safe place’ is actually unsafe, and is the cause of your terror.

      One of the great things about taking this painful journey is that you learn to listen to yourself a lot better. And you start to learn that there are actually quite a few people in your life who are unsafe – who you AREN’T really comfortable with, and who you DON’T really trust, not really.

      But for whatever reasons, you’ve been silencing the little inner voice that told you that.

      I think many chumps have been here – we are all brilliant at being colour-blind to red flags, because we’ve been stuffing down that little voice all our lives. You describe a relationship that was full of intensity and drama, and this may have made it hard for you to hear the warnings from your inner self about your ex.

      And having good therapy, or even just journalling, is a really healing way to start to look at this side of yourself, and learn to trust your inner voice – your gut – a lot more in future. Journal for pages and pages and pages if you have to, when you feel like this. Write it all out.

      The good news is that there ARE people out there who are safe. Learn to identify them, and name them. They won’t be lovers – they will most likely be friends, colleagues, co-workers, maybe members of your extended family. Once you start to learn who is safe and who is unsafe, the world becomes a much less scary and hurtful place.

    • This is so true for me too, Lilyanne. I never dreamed I would be parsing through his compensation package, tax returns and bank records to unravel how I had been deceived. So not fun. My family admired him because he was so successful and had come from such humble beginnings. Now they are dealing with reality like me

    • Lilyanne – “But I can’t help but think that he never gave me a chance. We went through too much, too soon.”

      I completely relate to this statement. One of the shit sandwiches is that you can look back and see that the cheater never really gave you or the marriage a fair chance of survival. They just unilaterally decided to set off a nuclear bomb in the family’s life and blame you for driving them to do it.

      They suck.

  • I was desperate to hang on to the only home my kids had ever known. Where their (and my) friends were and where I had a lot of support. I have a decent job earning just a little more than him but he was running up the debts faster than I could figure out a way to pay them. BUUUUUUUT now, so many years later, I kept that home, and those friends and those mountains, I’m paying off a 17 year mortgage in 8 years and I have more disposable income than ever on half of what we as a couple had. You see I no longer have to find ways to repair his or other people’s cars after his drink/driving escapades. I don’t have to fund the big fancy car he HAD to have (obviously compensating here). I don’t have to buy the best, the most expensive (all for him, mind) but then take no care of anything. I’m so much better off in so many ways I certainly never needed it that bad. Thanks Schmoopie!

    • I’m with you Attie. I couldn’t stay but I sure as hell was scared to go it alone. Then I actually did it and it was so much better. For anyone in the depth of despair that is D-Day please know that when I say it’s better on the other side I mean it. It’s so much better on the other side.

      Like Attie I live better now on just my income than two, I never thought I would survive when Narkles the Clown made three times what I did in any given year. My stomach knotted with fear that I wouldn’t make it by losing 75% of my income. I was wrong. My bills dropped drastically. My electric bill plummeted from $450 a month to $150. I refinanced the house into my name and I can afford it fine. I eat leftovers so I don’t buy as much food. I don’t throw out food he just had to have because it goes bad. Then there’s just the issue of knowing where all the money goes. I had no idea how much he spent on crap and his whores.

      I worried about the intact family thing too. After all you hear all the statistics about children of divorce. I no longer worry my child will be negatively effected by it. If anything I think he will be better off for seeing the difference between me and his father. He now knows having a house full of crap is not normal. He sees his father is a hoarder. He now knows mom keeps her word and gets things done (I am no longer prevented from fixing the house so I do) and he knows dad buys a lot of crap and then rarely if ever uses it. I don’t think he has figured out the whore part yet but I give it a few years. Everyday I show my child that there is a different normal than the one he spent years immersed in. His comments mean he sees the difference in how we live our lives in two houses and he can articulate the differences quite well. If this is your sticking point you may be very surprised at the things your kids learn from a broken family. Show them what it’s like to live mentally healthy.

      • Yeah I can see that my future life will also be much simpler with less stuff from my cheating hoarding stbx wife and no doubt cheaper too. However I’m not looking forward to my kids flipping back-n-fore between 2 homes. Maybe it will be ok? I’ve no idea…

        I’d love to go for full custody of my daughters, as I’m effectively the one who has raised them. e.g. if my wife ever decided to take one of her D’s to a birthday party then no-one would know who she is as they’ve never seen her! Her definition of spending time with her D’s is sticking the TV on while she curls up on the sofa and sleeps. I’ll stop the whingeing there… 🙂

        I can do this — bit of short-term pain for long-term gain

        • Kids aren’t like cats that get confused when introduced to new territory. They’re resilient, and moving a bit doesn’t hurt them.

        • Even if you don’t get full custody, you’ll find a Cheater will start reneging on their time with the kids. You might end up with defacto full custody, because she doesn’t want to take them to pursue other men, and sleeping. Cheaters have no capacity to hold it together long term. You’re playing a long game here, and Chumps are hardwired to perform in this arena better than Cheaters.

          • ^^^THIS^^^ – only a few months out from separation and a) the kids make choices to stay home and b) he has to travel, work late, etc. so the kids are with me the majority of the time anyways. I think I got three whole hours without a kid last week.

        • Yes…WITS. Your daughters need you to model righteous life skills; we all deserve someone who respects us, treats us well, and celebrates life. Cheaters are selfish and checked out. Your daughters will need to observe healthy relationships because those will let them know that they are worthy of real love too. Love is reciprocal. X was a lazy parent too—though he did show up if kibbles were involved—and that is why we are of value, we get things done. If I could change my past, I would have done so. My children struggle to understand their father’s behavior. I didn’t realize he was living a lie (and a double life) until Dday, and wish I’d have recognized what all those crazy behaviors meant. There is a pattern though and I know CL/CN will be of help to you and yours.

    • That’s 6 and a half years of Saturdays…. maybe the number of Saturdays Mrs CL took to find Mr CL?

        • I understand! I am lucky I earn a good income so I was able to stay in the marital home. It was the only home my children knew.

          I have less than 1 year left on the mortgage. Yes, it was difficult, but without having to support ex’s “big wheeling” lifestyle, I have been able to do it.

  • Immediately after I left the Cheater, people tried to reassure me with the, “Oh, you’re so great, you’ll definitely meet someone else.” And I thought (as it turns out, I’m right) – probably not. However, even if it’s next-to-impossible to find a good man, life as a single woman of a certain age has much to recommend it and even some of my happily-wedded pals have moments of envy. And it’s definitely heaps better than staying with a bad man.

      • Yes many people admire my freedom & adventurous spirit as well… I now live my life true to my values. My children & grandchildren are my focus & I don’t have to waste my energy on stroking the ego of my (X) partner.

      • I hear the same thoughts about freedom.

        I recently bought a kayak. Put roof racks on my SUV and I use a ladder to carry the kayak up and hoist it onto the roof rack. Sit in the top of the suv and strap that sucker down.
        I’m driving all over the place with my kayak and it sparks a lot of conversation with people who wish they had the time and energy and freedom to join me.

        I spend every free moment kayaking and am sharing this peace with my children and friends.

        My one friend, who is also a chump, bought an identical kayak to mine and so now I have 2 kayaks strapped to my roof and we drive all over exploring. We are having so much fun together. It’s so healing. We grab a tea and catch up and off we go.

        Every time I hit the water, under beautiful blue skies with the sun shining down on me, I think two thoughts:

        1) when I left ex narcopath, I prayed to God for peace in my life. When I am on the water, I feel very close to Him and a sense of peace always washes over me. So I got my wish.

        2) Me, driving all around, doing whatever I want? Ex would never have allowed it. So I always consider it a big “Fuck You” to him. He’s seen me driving with the kayaks. Waves like a fan-girl at me every time. I ignore him and crank the tunes and drive away from him as fast as possible.

        I have determined that the summer of 2018 is the summer of “making shit happen”….

    • Yah — that’s where I am, too.

      I’m thinking to use my time for community service, painting, gardening, reading. What’s wrong with that? Plus, it’s so nice to get off of that dating carousel. Sheesh. I’m sick of that shit.

    • Thank you so much for this! It gives me such hope to hear from people on the other side of this nightmare.

    • I came to the same conclusion a while ago, after my last awful dating experience / great brunch story.

      You suddenly think, ‘WHY am I doing this to myself? Exactly what is in this for me?’

      And I realized that I was the one expected to give up everything for Mr Unknown and Already Demonstrably Unreliable and Weird, just for the sake of having a plus one for parties. Or I’d end up SINGLE! with CATS! and TALK TO MYSELF! and live in a cardboard BOX!

      Fuck that shit. I go to art gallery openings and have tattoos and can walk into any social function by myself without a twinge of fear. And on the rare occasion I see an ex, they are the ones who can’t look at me, not the other way round.

  • I think that what has kept me stuck is hanging on to the “dream” of who he used to be; the guy I married who was great, otherwise, I wouldn’t have married him. It was my dose of hopium that if I gave him time and patience and understanding, he would snap out of whatever was driving him to act in this way. It hasn’t happened.

    Two nights ago, I learned that he just slept with someone else on a night out with the guys just before Christmas. Yet, he was leaving me just after Christmas to go be with the OW he’d been having an affair with for over a year. The very woman that I had discovered a secret email account filled with adoring emails about how she is the love of his life and the only person he has ever been able to be his real self with. He woke up on the morning of the 23rd with a new woman at his buddy’s house. I have an email to the affair woman on the morning of the 25th saying that he loved her. On the 26th, he was already at her house making new years plans.

    I don’t know who the real man is…the “good guy” I married or the “jerk” he’s become in the last couple of years. Either way, I have come to realize that the guy I thought I married is gone. He’s dead. Maybe the guy he is now has always been in him. Maybe he was always faking the “good guy” because he really wanted that life for himself too. Maybe this is a crisis he’s going through. Whatever is going on with him, the reality is that the guy I thought I knew is dead. Mourn his loss and move on.

    Learning that he’s already cheated on the “love of his life” has freed me, believe it or not. I have become unstuck from the anxiety that has plagued me over the thoughts that he left me for someone who is “better for him” than me. Who understands him better. Who makes him happier. I felt sick over the idea that it might be true. Now I know she’s being chumped too. She cannot be the love of his life after all or he wouldn’t treat her in that way. I realize now that my STBXH has become a DOG, a PLAYER. Gross. Grow up. He wasn’t this way in his 20s, why suddenly is he this way in his 40s? No matter.

    Goodbye to the ties that bind. Goodbye to the dream. No worries that you were inadequate and that this OW was everything that you could not be for your husband. I don’t want what she has, no thank you. I am not inadequate. In fact it was my strength and integrity that made him feel inadequate. He’s found his level of water in her. He’s her problem now, and she can have the DOG.

    Hello peace and freedom. It’s been a long time…

    • Sadly, ONM, he was (and will always be) faking it. You had something he wanted (maybe the mask of normacly??) Trust that he sucks. And, let the harem figure it out on their own.

    • YOu nailed it! I held on to the dream of what I thought he was and tried hard not to face what he had become. 37 years of marriage and probably 25 of them good but then a few business failures turned him into a lying cheater trying to make himself into a “success.” He found some really trailer park women who told him he was a “success” and this worked for him. Big fish, small pond. Well I still am in love with the guy I married 37 years ago but I have finally faced that the guy I see today is just not that man. I wouldn’t so much as have one date with the guy he is today so current OW can have him. But it is so very hard to let go of the life I had–intact family, comfortable finances, friends, family, history, and security. What helped me is the realization that these things were already “gone” by the time I discovered the most recent affair. And at my age I need to face that I probably will be alone for the rest of my life but that has to be better that living this lie with this Cheater. My goal is to make some good friends and move on, to stay in contact with old friends, to protect my adult daughter as much as possible, and oh yeah, to wish some awful karma on Cheater and OW (I still need to have a hobby!) while achieving “meh” status.

    • ONM

      I like the way you let go of your anxiety through the knowledge that your x was ‘cheating’ on his ‘twu love’ prior to leaving you. As my divorce was unfolding, I found evidence my x was sleeping with ‘call girls’ on a hook up site. I know who his AP is and that most likely started years before I figured it out. I remember feelings of disgust, repulsion, anger and simultaneous relief that I was making the right decision to divorce.

      And now, I have an ‘intact family’ of me and my two kids. We are a happy band of three. They do have a relationship with their dad and as a general rule I take a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ stance about their time at his house. Every now and then, my kids let something slip about his behavior etc and it reinforces how lucky I am to have gotten out.

      Like many, I have not had luck in the dating world. I’m content now, I have four more years to raise my son. If something happens I’m open, if not, I’ll reevaluate when he graduates.

      Huge success attending Prom photos the other night. My ex was there. We don’t speak. I took photos, talked to acquaintances, he was less than a foot away. No issue. Walked away feeling great. Had made it a bigger deal in my head.

    • I am so glad for you that you discovered something that helped you let go. Hang on to that knowledge!

    • It’s so great that you got to see his true colours once and for all. It takes a lot of ‘proof’ for us to finally accept that they are morally deficient.

  • My ex, leaving, meant I didn’t have to put with him, screaming all night, , saying I’ll be back in a hour turning up 3 days later, breaking windows, the police arrested him then let him go 2 hours later!, telling me about different types of prostitutes, apparently the better off prostitutes said don’t talk to the lower class prostitutes, there all in the same crackhouse, you idiot, to top it off, the prostitutes were all happy according to him, but not unfortunately sti free!

  • For the new Chumps. Do not be afraid! My DDay was 2014. I was depress, lost weight etc. I discovered ChumpLady a week after Dday & I was even afraid of posting for a year. The more I read the more confident I got. I started “lining my ducks”, found a better job, saved $, stayed quite. A month before I was going to visit lawyers, destiny helped me & found Mr. Cheaterpants having a phone conversation @ 2:30 am on the couch with a friend that was “drunk dialing” I was so ready that for his surprise I did not even yell at him. I took a bottle of water & went upstairs again.
    When I took my little bag with all bank stmts, W-2 copies etc .. My lawyer told me: ” I have everything I need”. Divorce was on 2017 a year ago & I still can not believe I was able to make it. It was rough at first but it will get better. If you are in distress please go to the doctor to keep your sanity and start making copies even if you are in “doubt/denial/afraid/paralysis or RIC”. As we speak I am in my sofa relax drinking a cup of coffee, there is silence & peace. I have no more anxiety of thinking if Mr. traveler Cheaterpants was really having a “business dinner” the night before or if he took someone to his room etc. New chumps keep reading & listen to CL & CN. Hugs

    • Good advice!

      I’m still in the process as she’s “madly in love” with her long-distance piece of lowlife. I discovered it started again in Feb and he’s coming over for the summer. So I’ve just been keeping quiet and saving her texts, etc. as well as receipts she leaves around about money she sends him. All evidence for the future divorce.

      Hopefully I’ll be in that better place with my 2 young children soon and probably wondering why I hung on for so long. Typical of a cheater, she tells anyone she can that she’s the ‘best’ parent but generally avoids them as much as possible, even abandoned them at Xmas to run off after him, but actually I think we had a better Xmas without misery-guts around 🙂

      • Living with doubt about who your partner is seeing or screwing is a dog’s life. Once the trust is gone it never comes back.

        • Yeah! That’s what I feel

          Ironically, I spent 20 years telling her this saying many times:

          “All relationships, whether business or personal, are based upon trust. Without trust there is nothing”

          I’ve no idea where it came from (I’m sure it’s not original to me) but obviously she never paid attention — one of my aunts said too (her sis got cheated on 40 years ago) that it will never be the same again — time to move on

        • The thought of having to live a life of anxiety as the marriage police was sufficient to compel me to throw Hannibal to the curb; a dog’s life indeed (if you’re a stray dog whom people kick).

          • Yes, a stray dogs life.

            Having to cringe about what he will say next to the neighbours, or who he will sue next. Or which mother of our kid’s friends he will need to ‘help’ out with a crisis next. Or which holiday he will spoil and how.

  • Right after Dday someone who knew he cheated repeatedly throughout my marriage commented that I stayed because I didn’t want to be alone. It was the furthest thing from the truth. Sadly I loved my abuser.

    Having spent my life from 16 to 57 with my abuser formed a trauma bond so strong I was cemented to the covert narcissist.

    Breaking that bond was necessary. This was one of the posts years ago that helped me see that it’s never to late to save yourself.

    The sad sausage manipulation however never ends. Still he plays the victim. Gotta let that go. Predators come in all forms. Let their actions play out somewhere else. Focus on your ‘better’ life.

    I posted about crying because I couldn’t start my lawn mower years ago. I celebrated my fourth freedom day anniversary yesterday. I fixed that lawnmower, chanced the spark plug, drained the oil and alas I had to LET.IT.GO! I bought myself a self propelled one and it’s amazing.

    Propell yourself Chumps! At 61 I’m free and living my life in the home he insisted I leave before Dday to downsize. I mow thst half acre and have peace, finally.

    • This is so inspiring! Thank you. Yesterday I mowed the lawn for the first time and it felt like such an accomplishment. It was the one big house task that he did on his own so I was worried about it. The rest I either did or we shared responsibility so I’m not so worried about those.

      • Jackie, the fear is crippling at times. Every time you take a baby step you’re moving forward. My car was the better vehicle. I feared breaking down and not having the money to fix it. My mechanic fixed my car and said don’t worry about it. My tires needed replacing and it meant cutting back on food.

        A year before Dday I had no credit cards. I had closed them a year before figuring I didn’t need them. Because of this my credit score sucked. I paid off my debt in two years. Still I feared applying because I couldn’t face being rejected.

        I finally applied and now have a credit card for emergencies. Now I can travel without the fear of my car breaking down.

        Each time you face and conquer a fear the anxiety lessens. I’ve taught myself to tile a floor, change an electrical outlet and change spark plugs.

        My adult son sat and watched as I scored the tile, remeasured and got the hang of it. He’s seen me spackle walls and paint.

        I think of my Irish grandmother and the challenges she faced living in poverty during the depression when her alcoholic father abandoned the family. Under five feet tall she stood up to my father to protect my mother.

        Fear not, get pissed and fight for yourself. You will survive and then thrive. Rebuilding self confidence takes time. You will get there.

  • I wouldn’t say that I stayed for a intact family, but rather when my son was 3 (my first d-day) I was not willing to only see him growing up 50% of the time. So, I stayed… and I built a fractured “intact” family whereby my son and I began doing our own thing (Mr. Sparkles always stayed behind to “work on a house project”).

    But the cost of that decision was a slow death for me… an erosion of my identity and my soul and my self-worth.

    And guess what, Mr. Sparkles left anyway when we found a new special snowflake. Then, I found CN, filed, got mighty, and got on rebuilding my life. It can be done, even if the choice is forced upon you… look at it as a blessing… God just pushed you out of the way bullet. Don’t look back.

    • This was me 7 years ago, broke with two kids in nappies and a partner.who was under employed whilst I worked full time and he would dissappear for days drinking with his band mates, every few months. I stood in the hallway and a voice told me I needed to leave. I stayed for the intact family only to be treated poorly and done over 5 years later.

    • I started off as staying with cheater because I was not willing to see my young son growing up 50% of the time. I, too stayed… and I built a fractured “intact” family whereby my son and I began doing our own thing but it still wasn’t enough. Eventually cheater ex couldn’t contain his yelling & screaming to just me-he started on our little boy who was trying to protect me! Once that happened, that was it for me-we were done. There was no love or trust between cheater ex & I and I needed to protect my son. That was almost 2 years ago and about a year & half since cheater ex died. I used to cringe at first when my son would talk about his dad’s horrible temper but as time has passed, he talks about that-and him less & less. We now have peace & quiet in our home.

  • One thing that struck me as I read this was,

    Did anyone ever hesitate to run out of a burning building because they were afraid of fresh air?

    Sure, you could imagine future calamities, but does that justify staying in a burning building?

    I am a teacher and we recently completed A.L.I.C.E. training for an active shooter situation.

    Alert
    Lockdown
    Inform
    Counter
    Evacuate

    In that training we discussed what to do if we hear a fire alarm go off in a lockdown situation. Walking every student outside would make them targets for a shooter, knowing that there would be many students going out each door. A shooter could just plan to be near the door and start taking out the students as they exit. So, unfortunately there are times that we would maybe not exit a building.

    But, I think that is the delima that many chumps face, especially those with children. Is it better to stay kind of protected in a classroom, (or with the parent who can protect them) or out into the open where they are essentially on their own, (splitting custody with someone who doesn’t have their best interests at heart).

    I know for me, I chose to stay, thinking I would just leave when they graduated but keeping the intact family of me being the buffer between them and their father as I worried what would happen when he had them and I didn’t. I didn’t fear for their physical safety. There was no abuse of that kind. Rather, it was systematic manipulation to the nth degree.

    And some of my fears played out. After asking him to move out, one evening when he had them, he got wasted drunk and threatened suicide to them. They called his mother instead of me because they are teens who shouldn’t have been put in that situation in the first place and didn’t react the best way, and MIL said she couldn’t help them because it was inconvenient for her. The teens left the house and when they got back home, (we were nesting) he was gone and is still alive and kicking today. It did cause them much angst and was quite horrifying for them.

    How do you protect your children? Giving them up for days at a time just seems so difficult. Sending them to stay with someone who would cheat on their mother just seems wrong.

    My children hardly see their father. They get to choose and will not do overnights with him. DS sees him for a couple of hours a month and DD won’t have anything to do with him. But when D-Day happened, they were young enough that i think a judge would have insisted on visitation.

    I am so happy to be divorced, but I do always wonder if me sticking it out for a few years was better or worse for my kids.

    • I stuck it out quite long. And in that additional time he managed to convince our son (and daughter to a slightly lesser extent) that I was a bad mother. He said I refused family counseling, took all him money, wanted him dead. And they believe him. There is no possible ‘better’ outcome with the personality disordered. Low contact or no contact is the best we can do. That and living a positive life for our kids to see and emulate after leaving the predator. That is the best way, don’t doubt it. You can’t shield kids from them, only set a good example.

  • I had invested in his 7 years of education to create a new career that would see us through until retirement. The plan was for me to go back to school after he graduated.

    I spackled like crazy as he went through what I could only guess was a mid life crisis!
    I held onto the idea of our “intact family” when he left the kids and I without a home and took the equity in our house to finance his dream. Living 3 hours away. But hey – we were still a family right ?!?!

    I spackled and pick me danced when he had emotional ( possibly PA ) with other students because … intact family.

    I turned a blind eye to financial shenanigans, emotional abuse and neglect and a host of other ugly things in order to keep “us” together.

    In the end, after an openly flaunting a 3 year affair all over campus and in front of friends and family “ she’s just a friend – get over it”, I just did not need it that bad.

    I put myself through school. I stopped expecting him to be a grown up and stopped enabling him.

    The kids still have a father. But I no longer have a giant man child – it’s a win/win!!!

  • Unfortunately in my case, the cheating was one of the smaller indiscretions. I had to get out or get him out (which I did) because of abuse. It was escalating and I knew I was going to be seriously hurt or killed by him.

    My divorce and the aftermath has been true HELL but it is nothing compared to the walking on eggshells daily and being hyper alert.

  • You really dont need someone that you dont recognize.
    And you absolutely can not be with someone you think has the capacity to physically hurt you.
    That is what i have had to accept.
    After you see those empty hollow eyes you cant unsee them. You dont need what ever is behind those eyes.

    • My STBX did not physically abuse me..but those “empty hollow eyes” made me afraid. He was doing so many weird things (cheating on his AP and then came crying to me, plus other things) that I was afraid for my safety. All I could think was that he was possessed by something evil. Or he just let the evil in and it took over. It was heart breaking to see someone you loved become a monster.

  • I’ve never been one to be afraid of what the future holds if the “now” sucks ass. When I was 16 I decided I didn’t like being told what to do by my parents (yes, I was a delusional self-centered teen, as is sometimes the case), so I ran away. For a long time. And it was rough but wow did I learn a LOT. When I discovered husband #2 was cheating, I did the “pick-me” dance for about 3 months and then I was like”fuck this!” I had all my ducks in a row almost from D-Day, being the pragmatic sort of person that I am. So when #3 and his cheating ways came around I got rid of him lickety split (only married 9 months) I didn’t have children or money to worry about, thank the stars, at divorce time of either one of them. I was so thankful to get those monkeys off my back I didn’t even care about hooking up with someone else (although #3 happened wwaaayyy too fast due to narcisstic sociopathic love bombing). Being in my early 50s and all, but low and behold, men started hitting me up on the regular but I had learned to be VERY picky. Now I have a great guy, even tho he is wwaayy younger than me, which might be an issue in the future but since I don’t count on the future anymore I am not worried about it. I’m having fun and that is all that counts! So dont’ worry about being alone. Being alone is wwwaayy better for your sanity that is for sure. Love will come your way if it is meant to be. Just do YOU! And don’t worry about the others.

  • I have a letter board that I use for positive thoughts. Today’s post is in total alignment with my current board saying:

    “If it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive”

    My advice is to have something like that you can refer to when you feel like running back into the fire or if you start thinking the fire was your fault.

  • I made my ex leave after multiple DDays and I felt that my life was over. 50 yrs old, 30lb overweight, and caring for an autistic teenager. I felt as a sexy as a warthog.

    Three years later I still have the teen with autism lol, but I have traveled to Central America, Europe, Africa and many other beautiful places in the US with an adorable man 17 years my junior. I don’t cry anymore and I lost 10 of that 30lbs.

    I waited way too long to run from that burning building. Thank Gid I gathered the courage to get out so I could see how amazing life really is.

  • I really, really, really needed these words today. I’m terrified. He moves out on Friday and I can barely breathe here but taking it minute by minute.

    • You CAN breathe, Jackie…..just like taking one step at a time–one deep breath at a time.

    • Breathe. Just because you can see the future doesn’t mean it isn’t waiting to unfold before your so-surprised eyes. You will work hard, but you will be working for your peace, your life. Pricelesss.

        • Jackie

          I remember being physically ill as my x moved out. I had a lawyer there for 6 hours due to his shenanigans. You will survive. If you have a friend who can be there with you do it. If not, make plans for the evening to decompress.

    • Jackie, I have been reading your posts on the forum and thought of you when I saw todays topic. I hope you find encouragement from all the comments today.

      • Today is a tough one but I’m definitely getting a lot of strength and encouragement from the comments. I’m so grateful for this site and CN!

    • my d-day was a little under 2 yrs ago. I thought i would die. 2 kids 26 years. I was blue this weekend. the kids were with him for the 3 day holiday. In the middle of my sadness, I realized even though I missed my kids and was lonely. I didn’t have to deal with his chaos. That my life was mine. That is so scary I know. But w/o the chaos life becomes excited again. Be afraid, but do it anyway. Everyone is afraid. You can do this. Keep present. Keep reading CN! Even my cats are more chill. Good luck and peace to you

    • sounds weird, but after he leaves move some furniture around. Put up some different curtains, pictures, new sheets, etc…. It’s a new life- time to begin. Also keep yourself busy- don’t dwell. Get some exercise, even simple things like walking.

      • This is exactly my plans for this weekend! I can’t spend a lot of money as I have legal fees to deal with and I have to adjust to living on just my income. So, I’ve planned a lot of re-arranging at home this weekend to change it up and make it feel more like mine without spending any money yet. I’m hoping to buy some new furniture eventually to replace what he’s taking but that will just have to wait for a bit.

    • Jackie, you can do this! Mine left Dec. 30th just a couple of hours after breaking the news to the kids. I felt like I died a little inside. I was left to answer the tough questions that came up with my 7 and 9 year old.

      Everyone is different. What helped me at that time was throwing myself into organizing the house after he took things from different rooms to furnish his own place. I wanted to get the house looking as normal as possible for the kids. Lots of putting together of IKEA furniture.

      I bought a new bed because I made him take our marital bed. Got new linens. Painted the bedroom. Re-arranged the furniture, got a couple of new things. Nothing about that bedroom resembles what it looked like before. It’s a “virgin” room just for me with no traces of him. The bedroom is the oasis that I was always telling my husband that I wanted the room to become (but it was the room of the house that kept being put off in home renos).

      Cry! Go out in the woods and scream like an animal. Punch pillows. Have imaginary conversations with the bastard and yell at him all the vile things you would love to say. Cry some more. Connect with your family members. Cry with them. Even connect with your in-laws (if they are supportive – mine are so angry with my husband and love me) and cry with them if you can. When he has the kids, invite your girlfriends over (have a sleepover like you are teenagers all over again). Cry with them. Start putting away the photos with him (keep a family photo in the kids rooms so that they can honour their parents, if you wish. Get a trunk or a box and put all your marital things in there – those cards I know you have kept all these years, the wedding photos, etc. – stick it in a corner of the basement or the closet for your children in the future.

      It sucks to see your children go with their father at first (always really). Use the weekends they are with him wisely. Organize your house, work out, get all those projects you’ve always wanted to do done with (you know you’ve always wanted to scrapbook all your kids’ art work – Hehe!). Cry some more. Go on hikes, re-connect with old friends and beloved family members. Go for a facial. Do your nails.

      When your kids return, you will feel peaceful, organized, healthy and more settled. They didn’t see what you went through. They will see happy, solid Mommy – the one who stayed. The one who takes care of all their needs, who remembers everything and gets things done. Talk to them a lot. Lie in bed with them and chat. Ask them how they are feeling and validate it. Share that you feel sad too. Share that you also feel happy to have them and that you’re not going anywhere.

      You can do this! You are mighty! You are the sane parent who stayed. You are the role model who has lived a life of honesty and integrity.

      You are loved.

      Read up on betrayal trauma (you’ll see that much of what I have done is on those sites). Get a counsellor. Talk to your religious leader (if you have a faith). Hang out

      • Thank you so much for such a detailed reply! I will be taking your advice. I’m expecting it to be really hard initially but hoping I can settle into a new routine.

        My kids are grown (24 and 21) and not living at home right now. So I have the added adjustment of living alone for the very first time in my life at 50. (I always had roommates between uni and getting married).

        So I’m trying to be gentle with myself since this is obviously a huge adjustment that isn’t going to settle down quickly.

        I’m so grateful for all of the support here.

      • OptionNoMore, what you are describing is exactly what I did when my kids left for their dad’s. Saved up all my tears and rage and wrote in my journal and cried and cried. I refused to let them see me cry. I had designated cry and misery time.

        It’s been 10 months and now I plan stuff to do when they are gone and I work and it is so much better. I miss them when they are gone but also now revel in my freedom to do whatever I want.
        Sometimes I just walk to a restaurant and order wings and a beer and read my book or kayak on the lake or call my friends for tea.
        Life is so much better.

  • I’m 3.5 years out from D-day, and if there was one thing I wish all Chumps could take heart from CL and those of us that have gone through this, it’s that there really is something at the end of that rainbow. It’s probably not a pot of gold, but things do get better. I don’t want to sugarcoat things: dumping a cheater and going through all that pain is AWFUL. But…it’s much less worse than trying to get back your old life, which you never will.
    Do I have less money, and a lower standard of living? Yes, but, honestly, there really are things more important than money.
    Was it rough on my kids? Yes, but less rough than watching Daddy go nuts dealing with Mommy’s “friends”
    Was it hard being a single parent? Yes, but I learned lots of new skills.
    Was it lonely? At first, but then I found new people to be around, and I took up new hobbies.
    Yes, I did lose some things, but I gained other things that were worth much more, like self-respect. If nothing else, I don’t have to put up with a spouse who makes me miserable with her wayward-ness.

  • Hmmm. I’m about 9 1/2 months out from Dday and still working through some emotional constraints relative to the trauma inflicted. For me the availability of sex was the clincher with The Dragon. It’s one of the primary attractants that fueled the beginning of my 12 year marriage that got me into this mess.

    I recently spent the day with a young lady friend and her two boys at a beautiful mountain lake. On The Dragons birthday no less. It was a major ego booster for me and I didn’t think once of her. There were many younger, sexy, lithe mom’s there that day and guess What!? They were looking at this 58 year old, slimmed down and toning specimen of male chumpdom. My date ended with pizza and a family type dinner. She texted me a day or two later Thanking me for a wonderful day. She thanked me for my friendship and caring.

    She also pointed out to me ‘carry over’ behavior I was exhibiting from my marriage that were invasive to her and I recognized that these were Caring jestures. She thought enough of me to communicate warmly and show me what a real woman with boundaries does. I was trying too hard and didn’t need to.

    So what did I take away in the ‘don’t need it that bad’ catagory?’ I don’t need The Dragons approval, misguided and manipulative shows of affection (when I got them). Sex. Don’t need it that bad. A female family member tells me that my ED is probably stress related. She may be right or it may be chemically induced from years of Prozac. Not sure.

    I’ve not met a lady where in I’ve had ‘chemistry’. Including my younger friend described above. But I’m not looking either. My D is only weeks away and I’ve been told it’s akin to a huge load dissipated. I pray the realization that I’m no longer tied to my serial cheater leaves me with a next-level freedom to carry on- confident, that I have much to bring to the table. That my self worth Rocks. That ME, is What I need BAD .

    Also… ‘the next Marriage’, …Don’t need it that bad. 👊😃.

    🥓👈🏽 Bacon. That’s what I need bad. 😂

  • Went to a wedding this weekend. yeah, I know a Chump at wedding: event full of hope, idealism and wishes. I was fine. All from my old affluent, prestigious neighborhood. Me? I have the really cute place miles away, that is all mine.

    Went with grown son. Looking around at all the happy adult parent couples? No envy. So many of them are just existing. You can tell.

    Me? Living the life. Have my own place, set my own agenda, do my thing.

    I will admit to a recent trip to the Big Island (yeah, the one with the volcano) seeing a Hawaiian guy who may be the first guy I have noticed with INTEREST in years. So I guess I am not dead. He was playing the uke and singing. Had the most beautiful hands. The things I notice about a guy ; o.

    Told my son I actually feel kind of sorry for the ex. His life is train wreck. Screwing with Miss BumFuck 1997.

    Meh. Such a nice place to live. So leave and create your own Nirvana. Worth it.

  • Don’t need living with, supporting, loving a person that I never really knew. Don’t need being disrespected and being taken advantage of. Really didn’t need to learn all of this about him either, but, Tuesday is almost here.

  • I am still mourning the loss of the idea of an intact family. I still look at young couples with their children, and feel sad that I don’t have that. I know I don’t need it because I have been able to do it on my own since he left. I still get angry and sad that he promised so much, but we unable or unwilling to follow through on those promises. He claimed to want to ensure our children had everything he didn’t, he failed spectacularly and it will be our children who will suffer just like he did. I have FOO issues also but I have been able to rise above those, I’ll never understand why he wasn’t able to.

    • I feel like there are some people who use FOO issues as an excuse to do shitty things to other, and others who use them as a reason to never hurt someone else that way, ever. My kids’ dad always said that his parents divorce, caused by his dad cheating on his mom, was the most painful experience in his childhood. That he would then choose to risk the same for his own children (who he claimed to love above all else) bogles the mind. Their ego is always their first priority. Trust that they suck.

      • SomethingNew – Over the years my stbx talked about how his mom cheated and how horrible it was. He brought up how his dad left step-mom (after mom and dad split) to move in with a young girl – pregnancy – abortion – and then the step-mom took him back. Stbx always acted disgusted that step-mom took his dad back. Now present time: Stbx left to move in with young girl – their baby is one year old. Our daughter is devastated. Stbx texted me that he got over his parents cheating – our daughter will have to ‘get over it.’
        They are sub-human. And, yes, they are their first priority. No one else matters.

        • nomorecamping – What comes out of their mouths has so little relation to what comes out of their actions. I bet he was told/taught that he had no choice but to “get over it”, and it sure sounds like that hurt him. That he then chose to repeat that exact same cycle of abuse on the people he should be trying hardest to protect, especially your kids…well, that’s what clearly demonstrates that he Totally Sucks.

  • I stuck it out for the sake of the kids…I only made it to 5 months before I kicked him out. About 4 months in my 4 year old daughter summed up the futility “Mommy, why doesn’t Daddy have his own bed? (He was sleeping in the couch). I have my bed, my brother has a bed and you have a bed, but daddy’s on the couch.” I realized then that I had to let go and get rid of him. What was I showing my kids, teaching them? This was ok? He had continued his affair and refused to work on the marriage. Because we were already in December I decided to keep him around so as not to ruin the kids holiday. But one cold January night his behind was out on the pavement. DDay was now almost 8 years now and we have been divorced for 1(He dragged me through the mud in court for 3 years).

    Has it been easy? No. Did I end up with two sobbing kids, one who was in therapy for 3 years?Yep. Are we better off. Definitely.

  • I wanted desperately to save my children from becoming children from a “broken home”. And I sacrificed my happiness, health and my future for them to continue to have their dad in our family. That thinking was so destructive and the worst decision I had ever made in my adult life. Even when he was there he was so busy spending all of his free time with the OW that he wasn’t even participating in our family. I was so busy tracking him and playing detective that I was only available to be the sane parent half of the time. It took me one Saturday looking in the mirror at my miserable self and realizing that the only way for me and my children to survive was to end the charade and get a divorce and go it alone!

    I know not all children are the same but my girls thrived!!! And so did I. In fact, my girls tell me now that they are so happy I kicked him out. They rarely see their father these days and he lives 10 minutes away. He doesn’t have time for them and they are sick of trying to keep the relationship with him going when he doesn’t make an effort. Our bond is so much stronger, they look up to me and they have learned to demand respect for themselves. I am so thankful that I wised up and moved ahead without him.

    • You are awesome, Kimmy. Our daughter hasn’t seen her dad for 6 months. MIL told me, well he does have his new family now.
      Oh ok. That explains it!

  • When you go down this path there are many things to be done and decisions to be made- all under horrible emotional duress. Advice from someone 12 months in:
    – Deal with issues in front of you. Don’t worry about stuff that are years or even months down the road. Deal with what is in front of you. Otherwise you will get overwhelmed and become what you see in the cartoon at the top.

  • The hardest part for me was giving up the fantasy that my ex was my prince and seeing him for the frog that he really was. I had never been lucky in love before. When he came along I truly thought my ship had finally come in and that he would be my happily ever after. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. He was my big love life success story. I continued to believe that for years, even when he was being difficult or downright cruel. “Well, we all have bad days, but I know that he loves me. He’s my prince”. I was proud of our story, how we met, how we fell in love, how we weathered so many storms together. I didn’t want to give up my prince. The desire to cling to my fantasy was what kept my bucket of spackle full. After DDay, the fantasy fell apart and I couldn’t spackle anymore. That is when I switched to trying to repair my fantasy. No, it would never be the same, but it could still be functional right? Eventually I had to face the fact that my fantasy was just that, a fantasy. He was never my prince. That has been the hardest thing of all to face. My biggest triumph became my biggest failure and I had no control over that outcome.

    • This broke my heart, CiR. You were so grateful for your ‘prince.’ And he was a selfish ungrateful prick. I can totally understand why that has been so painful.

    • Your biggest triumph is that you got away from that piece of shit.

      And your even bigger triumphs are yet to come.

  • Just found this site a few days ago and I think it might save my sanity. I need help…I suspected my husband was having an affair for a year and a half with a co-worker. He denied it over and over…telling me I was insane and crazy…blaming me when he hid her number in his phone under a mans name because that is what innocent people do. When I questioned him about the frequency of texts to this woman he told me to get a life again that I was crazy. We had numerous fights to the point I left my home and stayed at a motel overnight. The next morning he always convinced me it was all in my head. The day I found emails that he forgot to delete was when he finally admitted he was “only sexting” with her. Within days I found out they had been having “lunch” together almost daily but “nothing happened”. Within a week I found out that they had been sending each other videos…in fact she sent him half a dozen pictures of herself naked the day before our 30th wedding anniversary. It has only been 2 months and he stands steadfast in his assertion that they never had sex. I have no idea what to think…what to do. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Accept that he cheated. H will lie and bit by bit move the reality line. It will take awhile for the reality to fully set into your brain. It won’t be easy- it’s going to hurt.

      Read Chumplady’s book. It saved my life. Helped get my brain right.

      Go see a lawyer. Let them tell you your options and ways to proceed.

      Find a therapist. Group therapy also if it’s available.

      Read the forums on this site. Post when you feel a need. People here can help you.

      • Thank you Zell for responding. I desperately want to believe he didn’t screw the HO but I know for a fact they took an hour and a half lunch together 3 to 4 times a week for a couple of months.

        • If you are hesitating- you need to realize that he’s likely already scheming on how to get rid of you now that he knows you are hot on his trails. He’ll say whatever to buy himself some time. The only thing a cheater has empathy for is the idea of losing half their stuff through divorce.

        • Heed this: Do NOT tell yourself there are some bad things he “just wouldn’t do.” While you are left dithering with the “would he/wouldn’t he sleep with her” conundrum, he could very well be moving assets, opening secret bank accounts, running up debt, draining retirement accounts, taking loans/mortgages you don’t know about. Then, when HE is ready, you’ll get dumped while he and schmoopie head off into the sunset on your stolen marital assets. Gather financial info, get important papers like birth certificates/passports/bank statements/mortgage papers etc and keep them somewhere he doesn’t know about. Go see a lawyer. Put some cash aside yourself in case you need to get out fast or cover the mortgage after he leaves town without a word. DO NOT TELL HIM YOU ARE DOING THIS. Be ready for anything because if he is capable of this deceit he is capable of anything.

          Oh, and yeah, he’s fucking her. Grownups don’t sext, meet three times a week, tell each other they love each other, send nudes/masturbation videos and then get together to play parcheesi.

        • Tiedupinknots…so sorry to hear your story and for you to be in a club you never wanted to be in but so happy that you found this site when you did.
          Honey…..they are fucking. Don’t kid yourself for ONE minute. Get your ducks in a row and find a pitbull attorney asap. Even look into a forensic accountant. Him and schmoopie most likely are scheming on leaving you with nothing. The minute he began this affair, he turned into the enemy. You can cry later. Save yourself today. Assholes.

    • Oh honey. Give yourself some time to process this and please seek a qualified therapist and an attorney (and don’t tell him.) just to understand your options.
      Also, rent the movie “Gaslight” with Ingrid Bergman. (Where the term ‘Gaslighting’ comes from). I think it will ring true for you.
      This is going to be difficult, but probably less so than questioning your own sanity and sense of reality.

      Hugs and good luck.

      • Granny, Thank you…What scared me the most was my mental health as my natural father died of dementia at the same age I am now. I was so scared that I considered killing myself so my daughter would not have to watch me deteriorate.

    • TiedUp–he’s gaslighting you. The reality is he IS having an affair, but he’s trying to convince you that you are crazy for thinking that or even suspecting him. Naked videos? Absolute clincher–they have been together sexually.

      I’m very sorry; the initial realization that we are married to people who could betray us so badly, and show no remorse whatsoever, is gut-wrenching. Getting through the first 4 months after D-day is a Herculean task. You will cycle through horrific pain, profound grief, and dark rage. Channel those emotions into getting free, both physically and psychologically. Post here as often as you need; there is no better audience who “gets it.” Also register for the forums (top right) so that you can get solace and advice virtually 24/7. Sending huge hugs your way.

      • Thank you Tempest. He cried yesterday saying how sorry he was…that after 3o years don’t I owe him forgiveness…that he loves me but just got “lost”. It has been 2 months and I am still in a fog.

        • Trust me, he is not sorry; he is sorry he got caught. As soon as he thinks he has you back in his grasp, he will resume the power play (ask me how I know). You are not in a fog, instead you sound pretty clear-headed to me. You are in the middle of a cyclone because he is swirling the air (and logic) around to obscure your vision. Distance brings clarity.

          IMHO, it is a slow, silent death to stay with the person who has betrayed you. The evidence he won’t change? He is still lying and gaslighting you rather than facing the truth (and your resultant pain & wrath) head-on. That is the strategy of bullies & cowards (and sometimes they occupy the same skin).

          If you posed the question to Chump Nation members of how many wish they’d left after D-day #1, my guess is it would be 99.9999%.

          Stay true to yourself and your values, and your path will become clear.

          • I am so angry at myself for believing the BS. The first text I ever saw was “If I was single I would hunt you down like a wounded deer in the woods”. He laughed and said “If you saw her you would laugh…she is ugly”. I did confront her a year ago and she denied it saying they were just co-workers who were friends. I actually apologized to her the next day because he convinced me I was paranoid. You are correct I am dying…a piece more everyday that I have to see his face.

            • We all get mad at ourselves for believing their lies, but we were operating as normal people–imagine going through life thinking everyone is a liar. Horrible. Instead, we assume people are honest and operate accordingly (but then feel like fools when it turns out not to be true, as with our cheaters). They are good at deception, and our intentions were good–to give someone the benefit of the doubt, to keep a marriage together. Knowing that makes it easier to forgive yourself.

              • One night after a horrible fight I packed a bag and was leaving to go to a hotel. I stood in the driveway and said “Will you stop texting her” and he said “No, I need to it is part of my job”. At that point he was still denying anything was going on….he was so willing to defend what he was doing he waved as I drove away. Like a fool I came home the next day. I know it will be difficult to forgive myself as the affair (with no sex) continued on for months and months.

              • “We all get mad at ourselves for believing their lies, but we were operating as normal people.”

                Tiedupinknots: And they are not normal. They are so not normal it’s hard for us to comprehend what they are doing without remorse. Forgive yourself – and be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

                Also, in addition to no remorse they compound it with cruelty and brutality – it’s surreal. One thing that shocked me was that my stbx would let his daughter see how he treated me – her mother.

                I wish I had been stashing cash. I did it when my first husband went off the rails, but I didn’t do it this time.

            • Tied – Sexting IS CHEATING! My son was the one who found my exholes fuck phone. Then I too found emails on messenger to dozens of women. Judas claimed “he never cheated on me!” Um yes you did dumb ass. When they start doing things behind your back, like putting in a different name for a person, or going out and getting another phone without your knowledge, or turning it upside down, or having it on vibrate, or when it NEVER leaves his side – then they are cheating. They are hiding something and that in itself is cheating.
              I wish you luck but don’t do what I did. My son told me about his dad’s little fuck phone back (Memorial Weekend) in 2013. It took 3 years to divorce the piece of shit because he is a narc and fought me for everything. It also gave him plenty of time to stash money, cash in his ROTH, and start selling shit because he knew the end was near. So be careful!

        • they can cry, trust me they can cry and then once away from you its the exact opposite. My Cheater Wife is an expert. All cheaters are con-artists. They have to be in order to pull off what they do- sometimes for years. You are dealing with a demented person. He’s not who you thought.

        • The only thing he is “lost” in is new vagina. It’s painful to believe–but you must believe it and act accordingly.

    • So sorry to hear you have found yourself here, but you are in the right place! Do as Zell suggests, but it is also best if you do this without telling anyone, esp. your spouse, at this point.
      Keep quiet but as we say here start “ getting your ducks in a row”. This means start copying and keeping in a very safe place all your important documents and financial statements. You will need the original copy of your marriage certificate. You need to know what bank accounts you have and how much is in them. If you can put aside a little money over the next few months, do this, you will need it for lawyers fees and other expenses.
      Don’t confront your husband with any more evidence. It serves no purpose, he will lie and lie more to avoid consequences. He likes his life as it is now, he is free to do what he wants and actually gets a thrill out of getting away with cheating you, it is part of the excitement for him.

      I was one of the ones where it was supposedly JUST sexting, but I finally realized it did not matter if it was actually physical or not. The sexting itself was hurtful enough and a violation off our vows and he refused to see this for what it was. Entitlement to the “ nth degree”. It was his right to do this and in his mind I should not be upset! Keep in mind that almost ALL sexting willl become physical at some point if given the opportunity ( unless they happpen to live 3000 miles apart and never ever visit ).

      It is up to you to decide if you are willing to accept this in your life or not………

      • He says it is over. He no longer texts or emails her but they do work together. Fortunately I take care of the finances and have access to some cash but I am not working and I have no idea how I could afford to move out. He keeps pushing me to forgive him…not to throw away 30 years but I can barely look at him without wanting to puke. I am trying to be a good actress by swallowing my rage until I can devise a plan.

        • As said before, get your financial paperwork in order. Pensions, insurance (health and life), pink slips on cars, house deeds, etc. Get a credit report; it will show what other credit accounts are in his and your names.

          Make a separate checking account and start putting money into it. You’ll need funds.

          If he’s saying he’s stopped, depend upon it, he hasn’t; he’s simply put it into another line you don’t yet know about. Don’t waste your time on “Marriage Police”, just get on with it.

          Get a good attorney, file, sell your share of the house to him, get your own home. You don’t need his lies.

          Yes, it’s a terrible betrayal of your lives together. Now decide if that’s what you want to spend the rest of your life dealing with. He’s already decided that a little strange stuff at work is worth his marriage to you.

          Come here and talk; we’ve all been where you are now.

            • it brings back memories—my ex begged me to stay and I let him even with the puke inducing re-marriage in Central Park. He used the next 4 years to steal our retirement savings—500k, money I couldn’t get back because he did it within the marriage. When he left he took all of our vehicles and numerous toys ( including the snowmobiles and trailer I bought during wreckonciliation). He got away with it since they were all in his business name ( dealership). He was planning for literally years. He even tried to get me to leave our house so he could move his new AP in—luckily my lawyer said don’t leave. He is not your friend do not expect fairness. Start getting money together get a counsellor and a lawyer. Please don’t wait and don’t be me.

        • as your gathering evidence he’s getting rid of it. Cheater wife erased all the naked pictures from her phone, shut down social media sites, and I think even notified her AP not to let me have entry into his Instagram account because she had been liking and posting comments on his pictures.

          Go quiet and strategic like a ninja. I turned my car into a file cabinet as I hid copies of paperwork, legal documents, etc.. under the seat. I took a day off from work to see a lawyer and get the wheels in motion.

          • Yes this. Your chumpy self is saying ‘well maybe he loves me and is sorry’. Um no. Anyone who cared about you would never do what he has done. And it’s not because you’re not worthy or loveable. It’s because he’s a cheater. Please take care of you! Get those ducks lined up. See a lawyer as we have learned that someone capable of sexual infidelity is very capable of financial infidelity.

            Just sexting? He’s minimizing. And are you even okay with them sending pictures to each other? I’m guessing no and the marriage and trust is over.

            Yes keep this to yourself as he will never be fair or have your best interest at heart. I’m sorry you’re here but glad you have found us.

        • IT ISN’T OVER! It has gone further underground. You will not believe what they will resort to to dupe you. He gives you his email and phone passwords? Yeah, because he established a secret new account. He might by a secret burner phone. He may be having bill sent to a P.O box you know nothing about. He is just waiting for you to “cool down.” When he feels like it is safe he will be right back to his tricks. That is just what they do.

    • Tied Up, I’m so sorry that you’ve found yourself in this situation (but glad for you that you found this site). You’re at the beginning of the emotional roller coaster ride that we all rode on. All of the advise above is sound, but I would just add that when listening to your husband’s excuses/explanations/general ridiculousness, and you’re trying to figure out what’s true and not true — just don’t make the mistake of projecting your thoughts/feelings/values upon him.

      One of the biggest mistakes that I made was that I projected my feelings and values onto my ex, and would think “oh, she’d never do this, she’d never do that, how could she ever do something like that? — after all I couldn’t.” Don’t make this mistake. I was married for 15 years, and you’d think you’d know somebody by then, but love has a way of clouding our judgment. But don’t think that he isn’t/wasn’t capable of doing certain things just because you aren’t capable of that stuff. These folks look at things completely differently than we do, and just have a completely different outlook on life. You may not be capable of something – but they are.

      Also, and I hate to say it, but whatever you think you know about what was going on — it’s only just the tip of the iceberg. None of us ever get/have the full story. Just remove your emotions (I know, hard to do) and rely on your gut and your common sense.

      Good luck, and keep coming back!

      • TiedUp, and anyone else just stumbling here…. so sorry.

        Coming here saved your life. It saved mine.

        It sucks ass. That said, here are some amazing things:
        -you have been in a fire pit of hell, but only see it now
        -you will walk out alive and well
        -there are better people on this side of things
        -it sucks but it is SO much better here

        Here are things I didn’t need THAT bad:
        1. I didn’t need to be told I wasn’t a good dad anymore – I’m a fucking great dad. Am I the best? no. Do I wish I was better; hell yes. But fuck that shit, I dont need to hear that complaint anymore.
        2. I didn’t need to hear I didn’t read enough. Books where her thing. Music is mine. I am as passionate about Radiohead as she was about whatever… she could’ve listen more…
        3. I didn’t need to feel like I didn’t earn enough money. I worked my ass off so she didn’t have to feel like she had to cook. Blue apron? sure. Out to eat? sure. Not making enough..? ugh.
        4. I didn’t need to hear I wasn’t a good husband, that I didn’t listen enough, respond enough. That i was never enough ________ (fill it in).

        I have VALUE. I bring a crap-load of value just being the worst I can be. I am 10,000 more impressive than most of the apes on Match.com (sorry guys) because I’m THAT awesome.
        I wouldn’t know it still being married. I would believe it if it weren’t for CL.

        Going through this crap sucks ass. But… its pretty great on the other side.

    • Do you actually need him to confess that they are having sex before you dump him because everything you’ve found out already you rationalize as perhaps just being “iffy”?

      Lots of people choose to look away from what is true and accept lies (and cheating liars) as a viable parnership option. Since you already know the cheating liar spooning you, are you ready to spend the rest of your life swallowing his shit? You get to choose, right? Or maybe you don’t? Maybe he gets to choose? Do you feel good about him choosing?

      The brutal truth or the soul crushing lie? They both hurt dreadfully, but one sets you free. The other slowly rots your spirit’s core.

  • I live alone with cats and it’s awesome. They don’t eat all the snacks, let me read all weekend if I want, never complain about what’s on tv, never snore. They don’t help with the housework, but then ex hardly did either, and at least they clean themselves every day.

    10 out of 10 would recommend.

    • I agree with this assessment and would like to add that my cats give me more emotional support that my ex douchebag EVER did.

      • Haha, yes! I remember folding laundry, singing songs praising furry cat bellies and playing “cat trap!” games with the basket. Ex came in out of the blue to start an argument about something I’d said two days ago that he’d twisted into the worst possible interpretation of about 100. I really think he hated to see me happy and content, or at least not singing songs of praise about his furry fat belly.

      • I 100% agree with this! My cats have been a huge source of support to me through this nightmare already. They are the best.

  • I think some folks stay (or stay too long) because they are waiting for the ‘Win Win’ situation…or the “Win Lose” situation… something with Win in it. But sometimes, there is no win. There are no ‘good’ choices. There are just choices you can live with easier than other ones.
    For example, should you loan more money to your X, even though he’s still probably using/gambling/whatever and going to use the money you give him not to pay his rent but buy something to snort/smoke/whatever. And if you Don’t loan him the money, he’ll stop sweet talking you and disappear again and might be homeless and you’ll feel TOTALLY GUILTY. But if you DO loan him the money, he’s just going to continue this destructive spiral and you won’t be able to pay your bills and you KNOW you’ll never see that money again. Two lousy choices; I chose paying my own bills and feeling guilty, because although I hate to feel guilty, it was less stressful than dealing with my own creditors. And maybe if he sleeps under a bridge, he’ll hit rock bottom and go to rehab and figure it out. Or not. It’s not my responsibility anymore.

  • I hated that my choices sucked! I also hated that it was so unfair that my choices sucked!

    It took me years of philosophical reflection about the nature of fairness and justice to realize, everything I believed about these concepts was a lie. Because things that are fair and just don’t suck right?

    The conclusions I came to helped me get over the hump of waiting for a better option to come along.

    Pre-cheater philosophy vs./ post cheater philosophy.

    Fairness means everything is equal. Fairness does not put one person above another, everything is balanced, level, and there is a shared sense of satisfaction.
    vs./
    Fairness is good in theory, but impossible in practice. For a simplified example: Sally brings a bag of candy to school. Sally shares with her best friends, but not the rest of the class. The teacher tells Sally “it’s not fair to share with some children and not others. If you want to bring candy, you have to share it with the whole class.” Sally isn’t happy about it, but she does it anyway. She learns to consider the feelings of others and integrates it into her concept of fairness. She sacrifices her selfishness to be fair. Though it pains her that she has to hand a piece of candy to Tommy, who kicks her in the shin every day at recess, and pulls her hair in the hall, treating him like the rest of the kids is only “fair.” So for Sally to be fair, she has to be satisfied with sacrificing her feelings to that of the others, including Tommy. So what if Sally absolutely won’t give Tommy the candy? The teacher tells her, if Tommy doesn’t get candy, no one does, as this is “unfair.” The teacher isn’t interested in “why” she doesn’t want to give Tommy the candy. There is a pressure by the rest of the kids to “just give Tommy the candy” because they want the candy too. What is one more piece of candy? Sally has a choice; consider her own feelings, and no one gets candy, or consider the feelings of the majority. Sally feels like the choice is unfair, why should Tommy get the candy, he’s a bully.

    So really, the idea of fairness is only as relevant as the feelings attached to the acts surrounding making something fair. Fairness isn’t linar, it requires the allocation of something from one person to another.

    That of course this is super simplified, but I basically had to rethink the way I saw fairness. I realized that theory and practice are two totally different realities. In an ideal world, the concept of fairness would work, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world with shitty people, shitty behavior, and shitty choices!

  • I am really glad that a lot of chumps are doing better without their poor excuses for partners.

    I am relieved that my abusive ex-husband no longer lives with me, but nine months after last discard of me, I still miss my ex-boyfriend (or his facade)/feel hatred toward my ex-boyfriend for objectifying me, lying to me, disrespecting me. I don’t feel successful or calm or whatever wonderful thing chumps here write about.

    • It hurts a lot when the subsequent relationships fail. 9 months isn’t very long for healing, especially when it’s been a double whammy. You will get there.

    • I hope some day you will be as relieved to be rid of your ex boyfriend as you are relieved to be rid of your ex husband.

      It is hard when you think your relationship with someone is the answer to all of your prayers. At the time he seemed like the silver lining to the marriage ending cloud. My ex husband was my hero who saved me from the dating pool and all of my previous bad choices. I thought I had picked well that time. I was wrong and that is a hard pill to swallow. Your ex boyfriend may have been a slight step up on your ex husband, but he is still an asshole and always was. He was just a different kind of abusive that you didn’t recognize because of lack of experience. That is hard to face and it can easily make you lose faith in men as romantic partners altogether. The best thing you can do is be happy with yourself and proud of what you accomplish every day. You take care of your kids. You are the sane parent. You support yourself. It may seem like you are just getting by, but you are doing it and you are doing it yourself under difficult circumstances. You don’t need to rely on anybody else because you have you. You are mighty.

      • Thanks, Mitz and Chump in Recovery. Unfortunately, I do no need to rely on other people–my kids get free lunches, we get some financial support from my ex-husband, and a nice renter rents one of my two bedrooms in my apartment (four or more people living in two bedrooms–I don’t mind being a bit squished, but not everybody thinks that much density is OK). Ideally, someday, not sure how, I will be able to earn enough not to rely on the support of the government and my ex-husband, and my roommate.

  • Us older chumps smoked the hopium pipe for too long.
    Even though my marriage of 35 years was good at times, I never knew I was living with the enemy.
    He was my whole life besides my son. Now 2 years divorced I’m very slowly getting better.

    Doesn’t matter your age or length of the marriage.. the pain & betrayal is what destroyed my self esteem, insecurity & trust in another human being.
    I was never loved. I know that now. He said he loved then whore when I caught him with her but 5 weeks after she died.. he found another “victim “‘& now lives with her. He’s afraid to be alone. Narcissistics are evil & cruel.

    My friends here at CN give me support & courage to
    move on day to day. It’s not easy but I know I’m not alone!

    ((HUGS)) to all 🤗

  • All the good ones ARE gone where I live or married and at home with their wives where they belong. Still better than being with a lying cheater.

  • I appreciate this column today. Eight months out, I can recognize that I am better off without him, but I continue to be overwhelmed by loneliness, homesickness, and doubts about my future. Option #1 sucks. Option #2 pretty much sucks too, unfortunately. It reminds of that (stupid) game we played as kids, “would you rather have a stomach ache or a headache? Would you rather be too hot or too cold?” Why do all the options have to be miserable? Is that what Meh is, i.e., a state of mind where you’re OK with option 2 even though it sucks? Or is there really an option 3 that DOESN’T suck?

    • I think you just have to get through Option 2 first. This sets the stage for Option 3 if you are willing to work at it and you are open to it. Once you work your way through Option 2, there is no set template for Option 3. It can be whatever you want it to be.

  • Life on the other side of chumpdom is infinitely better, although when you’re in the midst of it you can’t see that

    • Rick, I am really glad that you feel that life on the other side of chumpdom is infinitely better. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the same way about my post-chump life. I find it much poorer, more exhausting, lonelier, sexless, with fewer options. And NO men who are not completely inappropriate (sleaze bags, con artists, or men who live on other continents or are doing month’s long engineering projects on oil rigs in the middle of some unknown ocean or saving people’s lives at some undisclosed location in the Middle East (at some undisclosed location), i.e., are con artists), or just incompatible in a thousand ways (drug-addicted parolee)) has offered to date me in approximately a year. Guess I’m doing post-chump life ‘wrong.’

  • I was told that it was over. They also worked together. He left me for her on January 2. You cannot trust him. You will never trust him. A marriage without trust is no marriage. If you do decide to stay, read Tracy’s real-remorse-or-genuine-imitation-naugahyde-remorse article. See if he will take any of those steps.

  • Since I am fairly new here, I am meeting this post for the first time and really appreciate it. At six months out, I am becoming more stable in my new, independent life, but I continue to struggle with the idea that I am not real–or that my life is somehow not real–without the love of an intimate partner. I hate that I feel this way, because I am a feminist and because the judgment is painful. I would not choose an unhealthy, exploitative relationship over my solitude, and I know I need considerable time on my own to find my own feet and my own center. I do not know, however, that I could be completely satisfied outside partnership as a longterm arrangement : /

    • Lucky for you… you don’t need to make any of those future-looking decisions today. I mean, really, I could argue that I have to quit my job and take a trip around the world right now because, you know, I’m going to die some day. You don’t stay with a cheater because you might never couple again. Don’t choose fear… fear is a liar.

      For today, just be you doing you. Stay (or go) No Contact. Keep building your new life. And learn from your past life choices so you don’t repeat them. Let the rest of the days that follow take care of themselves.

      • ICSTMC, Great advice here: Just be You doing You. Canada, Love that you are kayaking…water sports are great for healing.
        To our New Chumps, it really is all about baby steps, keep reading! there is so much good advice here, and just know this, Life is too short to spend it with someone who is lying to you. That is not love.

    • Just tell yourself: “I don’t have to be the bravest person in the world to do this, I just have to be about 10% braver than I think I am.”” That’s a lot more achievable. You can focus on just being the tiny bit braver that you need to be everyday. Sooner or later, you’ll get there.

  • Part of my resolve to (probably) never get married again has to do with the pain of the decision making process. Although Ex# 1 was a longer marriage, and I am sure I dithered because we had children, ex # 2 hurt the most, because he was an even bigger more bold faced liar than Ex #1. Also, at my age I figured I would not want to risk trying again, even if I could find another I believed in enough to risk again (highly unlikely). So I had to find a way to be happier with myself, by myself. I think that my realization that I had to be happy by myself, with myself, for myself is what helped me get to MEH faster. I never excluded the possibility, just didn’t believe there was much probability.

    The good news is that I have days when I wake up so HAPPY to be alone, and to have a quiet home, to have an entire peaceful day to do as I please when I please. I enjoyed being a wife and mother when I believed I was a loved wife and when my children were small. I endured being a single mother when my children were teenagers, mostly because I loved my children even when they were being horrid selfish teens, or living dangerously during their teen years. Now I enjoy having adult children who live in their own homes, and solve their own problems. I am getting ready to go into a new phase of my life, retirement, which will be strange because I’ve always worked outside of the home since I was 16. But I am not afraid, and I think I will be even happier once I get used to the changes.

    Life is always about change. Attitude is the ultimate preparation for all the phases I’ve lived thru so far. I hope my attitude will continue to serve me well. I think if you polled Chump Nation, you would find that surviving and thriving makes chumps more confident and feel better about themselves than they ever did, even when they were young and naïve.

  • Bob Hoskins in “Maid in Manhattan.” “Sometimes, we’re forced in directions that we ought to have found for ourselves.” Yeah Bob, that one quote makes this movie a classic for me.

  • Lilyanne – “But I can’t help but think that he never gave me a chance. We went through too much, too soon.”

    I completely relate to this statement. One of the shit sandwiches is that you can look back and see that the cheater never really gave you or the marriage a fair chance of survival. They just unilaterally decided to set off a nuclear bomb in the family’s life and blame you for driving them to do it.

    They suck.

    • I recognize that my x and I never shared the same values. Even when he mirrored mine back, X’s actions told me all I needed to know.

  • I’m one of those who left before my feelings caught up to the decision, and a good part of me staying away was due to Chump Lady and CN’s influence. I thought the pain would flat-out kill me, but it turns out we can endure an awful lot without spontaneously dropping dead, and I’m forever grateful I took someone’s word for it and ran out of that burning building. It was hard, as I knew the pregnancy I lost at the end of that relationship could be my last chance to have a biological child. And because I was pregnant when I left, the bonding hormones were so difficult to override, OMFG that shit is real. But, I did it, and I’ve advised many since then to do the same, knowing just how much this would hurt in the short term and change their lives in the long-term. Because as douchey as some of the men I’ve dated have been since then, they have all been a major improvement on Principal Sparkles.

    While I may never have that baby I always longed for, I do have a loving partner, who has a child already, and I so enjoy being with them. Life brings you other things, but if you remain stubbornly attached to IT MUST LOOK LIKE THIS OR I WILL DAI, life has a way of dishing up more shit than you could possibly imagine. Only after you break the dependency, are you free.

    Thanks for the reminder CL!

  • It is truly, truly TRUE

    that life is BETTER without the cheater in it.

    I was terrified, clung on for years (my therapist marvelled at how much pain I could take in order to keep my family intact) until DD#3 forced me to file ….

    and now have a much better, happier, calmer, saner and more fulfilled life.

    Him? Not so much #NotMyProblem #HeIsHisOwnWorstEnemy

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