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Owning Your Chumpiness

Cheat_on_meMy name is Tracy, I’m a chump, and I’ve been spackle-free for ten years.

It’s a struggle, of course. Some woman from the local charitable sorority will press me into service for the garden tour and it’s a battle to say no.

I’ll think, “I just did two straight years of graphic design for you people! The historic home tour? Hello? ‘Hey, can you type this up?’ and it’s written on a cocktail napkin and I have to google the addresses, oh, and can I take some pictures? And could we have 200 copies, and you don’t mind fronting the printing costs, do you? And I do ALL THAT, plus posters, and street signs, and 5 months later you’re after me for garden tour brochures? There are 40 people in this organization, doesn’t one of them use a computer?!”

Answer — no. They’re all over 70. And hey, it’s so much nicer when you do it. We do tell you how NICE they look! Bless your heart.

Chumpy me thinks… don’t be churlish. It’s for literacy. Say yes. You don’t want to disappoint these good people. Healthy Tracy thinks, I have contributed. It’s okay to say no. Write a check.

So I say “no” — and yep, I feel bad. But I’m not spending the next month doing InDesign for seniors who don’t know what a PDF is either.

Yes, I still struggle with being a chump. I have a Vitamin N deficiency.

This term was introduced to me by an older mom friend who said all kids need “a good dose of Vitamin N.”

Vitamin NO.

Some people have a hard time setting boundaries and saying NO. (Chumps.) And some people never get Vitamin N, or reject it, and live in entitlement.

I own that I’m a people pleaser, and I’ve had to work on my issues of seeking value by what I offer other people. The pleasant side of that is you can count on me to give you a ride to the airport. The uglier side of that is I tend to over estimate my powers. I WILL MAKE YOU LOVE ME! I can control any bad outcome if I just WORK HARDER! I accept responsibility for things I shouldn’t. And I resent it when people don’t notice my “kindness.”

These faults directed at a garden tour brochure are pretty benign.

These faults directed at a cheater are really toxic. They kept me stuck.

One misconception people have about this site is that I don’t blame chumps. Well, in a certain sense you are right — I absolutely do not blame chumps for being cheated on. We’re good people, we have a hard time conceiving that anyone would do us so wrong because we see the world through our own moral lens. Of COURSE we’re shocked by infidelity. Of COURSE we’re gutted. We were totally committed. That’s how we roll. We love with our whole hearts.

But dear God, people, that doesn’t mean you don’t have shit to own — you’re a CHUMP. I’m a chump — that’s why I named this place “CHUMP Lady” — it’s everything I learned about infidelity and myself in about 1500 articles of brain dump. Some people are manipulative pieces of shit, and they’re good — but we need to be better.

That doesn’t mean you drove your cheater to cheat. There is so much of that crap out there, so much blameshifting from society and from cheaters that we chumps get defensive. Don’t you DARE insinuate that I made this person cheat on me!

That shit pisses me off too. We did NOT make them cheat on us. But we are 100% responsible for how we go forward. THAT is on us.

I didn’t respond well. I don’t fault myself for the sobbing and puking and paralysis. I do blame myself for giving him four D-Days before I left for good. I blame myself for making idiotic financial decisions that kept him in cake. I blame myself for not enforcing a protection from abuse order the first time he threatened me.

I know why I did those things. I know what my fears were, and my FOO issues, and why I did the pick me cha cha as long as I did it. Doesn’t make it any less chumpy. What he did was WRONG. Horrible, cruel, abusive. But I stuck around in reconcilliation for a year of that shit after he showed me who he really was, and that’s on me.

The important thing is that I figured it out eventually, and I forgive myself, and today I try not to be such a sucker. I preserve the nicer parts of my chumpy tendencies (rides to the the airport), but stifle the uglier side (trying to control things I can’t control).

It’s so easy to lose yourself in the cheater. As the saying goes, the villain gets all the best lines. Bad guys are so compelling. What makes them tick, why they did what they did, how much it hurt us, how unjust the whole clusterfuck is. Going through the skein untangling is inevitable in the beginning — but don’t get stuck there. Because you’re never going to understand or control that wing nut. You only control you. So ask yourself — why did I accept this crap? What am I afraid of? What are MY values and am I honoring myself and living my life authentically now?

Cheaters are going to spin, try to pin their crap on you. People will gossip or second guess you. It’s hard not to get defensive and correct their lies and assumptions. All you can do is speak your truth and live your values. Let go of what you don’t control.

I think it’s totally okay, necessary even, to react to blameshifting with anger. How dare you try and pin this shit on ME! But don’t let that stop you from self-examination. You don’t have to justify yourself to the cheaters and the rubberneckers in your life. But you do need to answer to yourself. Who WAS I in that relationship? How did it get to this point? Why didn’t I enforce my boundaries or know that it was okay even to have boundaries? How can I honor myself going forward?

Because unless we examine our issues, we’ll be chumps for life. And that’s a shame, because being a chump is such a treatable condition. We just have to know our worth and assert it when people trample our boundaries.

I suppose being a chump wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the world were comprised solely of fellow chumps. My chumpy tendencies are muted paired with my husband’s chumpy tendencies. Okay, delightful even when we’re both trying to out-please the other. If he resents the fact that I do not sufficiently appreciate his French toast (I don’t like French toast), the world isn’t going to end.

But the world isn’t just full of chumps — it’s full of bad guys who will play you. And even more full of people who just Need Things Done and will sniff out your chumpiness and use you. So say NO to the garden tour brochures, people! It doesn’t take everybody to be your friend. Know your worth and let people earn your gifts — don’t be quite so free to give of yourself unquestioningly.

Forgive yourself for crimes of spackle, for not being your best self at the worst of times, for failing to see where you stopped and the other person started. Forgive yourself for not connecting the dots between words and actions. Forgive yourself for your fears and vanities. Forgive yourself for baking another cupcake for the cake eater instead of setting fire to the kitchen and leaving. Forgive yourself for being a chump.

The first step is owning that you were one.

I’m Tracy, I’m a chump, and I’ve been spackle-free for 10 years.

This column ran previously, and I’m still working on that book club thing, however I have conquered the garden brochures. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • WOOT! Can I get a witness!?

    Yes. This is what I was trying to say in the last post. I was totally a Chump, and I am SO MUCH HAPPIER now that I have learned the word No, and some red-hot boundaries.

    And you are allowed some wobbles on the way up too – the dodgy first date, that specially awful person who keeps somehow busting your boundaries, the falls off the No Contact Wagon. I personally was sucker-punched by a flaming narcissist only last year – but when that man hit my boundaries, they were like steel pylons, and he didn’t like that, so he left as much damage as he could to the remaining soft tissue, before slinking away into the undergrowth, never to be seen again.

    But you have to keep going – and make those wobbles fewer as you go. It can and does happen.

    Big message: No one is going to rescue you. A lot of Chumpiness comes from believing in The One Who Will Make It All Right, and it’s a dangerous belief that pushes too many newly-single Chumps into dating again far, far too soon.

    (I know I’ve commented before on those emails Chump Lady gets: “I’ve been separated now for six weeks, and I’m almost at Meh, and am dating someone wonderful! But there are just a few things I am not sure about”, followed by an entire red flag factory.)

    No one out there is going to rescue you. YOU are going to rescue you.

    It’s an amazing journey, and well worth every step. YOU are well worth every step.

    • I like to say that I am learning to be my own hero.
      The fourth anniversary of my D-day is tomorrow, and I have learned this: When the shit hits the fan, you may find some emotional support if you are lucky, but you will find that no one has the money, time, knowledge, or desire to rescue you. You have to do that all by yourself.

      • Bingo!
        Thank you ChumpedButHappierNow for your insights. We save our own lives. Because they are worth saving. We may be clumsy at it at the beginning. But we get better and better, rebuilding trust in ourselves. A woman who trusts herself is the most powerful woman there is. And it’s not about trusting ourselves to be perfect—that’s the misogynist trap laid for us on that self-improvement road. Our job as human is not to be perfect, but to hold our space in the world with the core values around which we express our humanity.

        • Yes! I just went through a really tough time. My mom is in hospice care, and then my car’s timing chain breaks when there is only 62,000 miles on the car. I fought the car company. My ex would never have done that, and he wouldn’t have let me do it. It took 3 weeks, but I got them to pay 80% of the 7,000 bill. I won. Against the car company, my ex’s attitudes, and at life. The most important thing I have learned is that I can do this on my own. Someday, If I ever date again, (way too busy now!) I will KNOW I can do it alone, and I won’t lose myself again in a man who THINKS he is smarter and knows better than me!

      • I was going to submit a new comment but I just had to reply and say AMEN! Preach, Lola Granola!
        And forgive me if this seems like a tangent, but I keep forgetting to say/post this (even though I’ve thought of doing it a jillion times when I read what people have written here) so I’m just going to post this here, now. Or I’ll forget again.
        Chumps: You so often remind me of this conversation between the two twin brothers in the movie Adaptation*. I would change one word: I think you are hOw you love.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfGtwkq5sC0
        This is turning into a sermon I know, but just never be ashamed of loving not wisely but too well. Don’t let the cheaters rob you of your generous spirit. Be proud of how easily and completely you loved. Own your chumpiness, and own your love.

        * A movie I didn’t even like except for this scene. (Read the book. It’s better.)

  • Great column. I have changed for sure. I was asked if I would share a room on a holiday with a friend because all the single rooms had gone. I said “ sorry no I think I’m a bit too old for sharing rooms”. Pre the shit I would never have done that, so mean for me to stop her being able to attend the holiday. Hell no, she should have booked earlier! Actually she replied with “ don’t ever apologise” and turned out they found a room for her in the end. She was a fellow chump that along with Tracey, had helped to teach me, I’m actually as important as other people.

  • Gosh darnit, Chump Lady, you have also reminded me that the person who first used the word ‘co-dependence’ to me, in terms of my relationships, was a Catholic priest. I was furious! Stick to the prayers, Father, and spare me the psychology! But he was exactly right.

    Super good questions for the Relationship Audit, pinched from above and mixed up with my own – this works for ALL your relationships, not just your romantic ones. This is a great journaling exercise.

    * Who AM I in this relationship?

    * Who is THE OTHER PERSON in this relationship? (Suggestions: an income? a source of kibbles for me? a hiding place? a project? a fixer-upper? an excuse not to do things I don’t want to do? the best partner I’ll ever be able to meet at my age? protection from the horror of being single? an opportunity to get back at those kids in high school? a Wounded Soul upon whom I can lavish my Florence Nightingale tendencies?)

    * How did it get to this point?

    * What’s in it for me? (eg. what personal reward or payoff am I getting from this uncomfortable and unpleasant situation? see above for some suggestions)

    * Why didn’t I enforce my boundaries?

    * Do I even know what my boundaries are with this person?

    * How can I honor myself going forward?

    The last one is the hardest, when you’ve clean lost yourself in the morass. I had to sit for hours and try to write down things that would honor me. I didn’t even know who I was, or what I liked.

      • Nawwww, there is only one Chump Lady. I just really got riled up by the last thread, because I kept seeing my old self in so many of those comments. It all came flooding back.

        Normal transmission will resume shortly.

  • Final point before I head home: the best feeling in the world is when you discover that by saying No, and having boundaries, you really do have heaps more to give to other people.

    Plus you give it from a position of strength and abundance, which feels totally different.

    I was used to giving from a feeling of worthlessness, abnegation, emptiness, desperation, buying love, trying to buy attention, or a reprieve from abuse. It’s that sense of, “Yes, of course I will lie down on the floor, because you asked me to, because that’s what I always do.” It’s like a habit, but it’s a bad habit.

    Took me a while to figure this one out, because if you are a God-fearing folk-ette like me, you have to try to create habits of virtue – doing the right thing until it becomes second nature to you. It’s really easy to mix this up with just lying down on the floor to be walked on.

    Whereas if you say ‘No’ when you recognize and feel that inner resistance, and know your limits, you have so much more to give. You quite quickly get this whole treasure-house of strength and blessing that you can be for other people, while at no time lying on the floor to be walked on. Lifts to the airport are only part of it.

    Step 1 is learning to recognize the inner resistance and respect it and act on it, and not squash it down into a tiny corner like you normally do.

    You are allowed to NOT WANT to do things.

    • Worrying thought: am co-dependent on Chump Lady and Chump Nation?

      Tracy I love you I think you must be the most sensible rational person on this earth. (Also Lola Granola I love you.) Fan alert.

      I’m a graphic designer who has done WAY too many garden brochures. Plus graduated in Masters of Art Therapy (yeah just like Her Cheater-Apologist Perelness) ten days after DDay, and in my training they were big on the Enneagram Personality Type test.

      In Enneagram testing, I am a Number Two: The Helper (or The Giver). I suspect most Chumps would be. (There are nine types, but it’s nuanced – everyone is a blend but there are dominant characteristics).

      All of the good bits (generosity, compassion, loyalty, dependability) and ugly bits (martyrdom, lack of boundaries, Florence Nightingale fantasies, neediness, mistaken virtuousness) that Tracy and Lola list are detailed in the Enneagram stuff on Number Twos. Reading it as part of my studies was incredibly uncomfortable: it was like a fly on my wall wrote it. But, also same as finding CN and knowing I am not an isolated freak – there are so many of us. Comfort with the discomfort.

      Hey Lola, thanks for the Relationship Audit. 18 months for me, meh-ish, a few tuesdays, no dating, fairly ready (for ‘casual” if nothing else). Glad I’ve got your checklist handy.

      And then we – Chump Nation – crossed paths with (and often bred with) capital T Takers. (aka sociopath/narcissist personality type).

      The fabulous Brene Brown says exactly the same as you, Lola, about boundaries – something like once she figured out how to have healthy ones, she was a less sweet, but a much more loving person.

      • But do remember, the checklist can be used NOW, for friendships and workplace relationships as well. I weeded my entire group of ‘friends’, and recalibrated the more meaningful ones into much better and healthier friendships.

        MamaMeh, you may not love me when you realise that I read this sentence “are detailed in the Enneagram stuff on Number Twos”, and promptly snorted like a preschooler.

        Potty jokes, forsooth.

        Brene Brown is right, though, if that’s what she said. (I watched her TED talk on vulnerability once, and I tried reading one of her books, but she seemed to take an awfully long time to get to the point. But good stuff nonetheless.)

        • Yeah, but I love people who snort with laughter and aren’t too good for poo humour. So there you go Lola.

          Am so with you on the friend sorting. Amazing when you realise there is so little wheat, and you’ve been wasting your precious self with chaff. (Excuse over-stretched metaphor.) That’s been pretty painful, so thanks for the audit tool.

    • “Why didn’t I enforce my boundaries or know that it was okay even to have boundaries? ” This is my BIG takeaway from the entire experience. It turns out that I never set boundaries with anyone, my ex, my mother, my brother nor my sons. I did everything in order that I be loved or even liked.

      I will now define how I will allow myself to be treated by all.

      • I never knew what boundaries were per say, but I did try (key word try) to enforce a couple with my Ex. My problem was that he then would push back on those boundaries and make me feel like I was wrong for having them. This made me all out of whack as a person.

        Was I the problem? Was I asking too much? At the time he had me believing that what I was asking was unreasonable. I was an unreasonable person. But I would look at other relationships and see they were asking the same things from their spouses. I then thought maybe I was asking wrong? I asked different ways, but the response from him was always the same.

        It’s taken me a while, but I am finally realizing that I was not the problem. My chumpiness contributed to it going on for so long. My chumpiness is responsible for not setting up and maintaining a solid boundary early in the relationship, but I did everything I could to accommodate his needs and he never did the same for me. Never. Going forward I will not allow so many chances. You get a boundary warning and if you choose to push it, that is your choice and then I will choose to end the relationship.

        • “But I would look at other relationships and see they were asking the same things from their spouses.”

          The X was constantly saying that I knew what he like and and didn’t like when I married him. He didn’t like cleaning so therefore, I must never ask him to do any cleaning because, well, I was warned. I did 95% of the cooking and all the cleaning.

          If I would have even broached the subject, he would have pulled his line to remind me again about what I signed up for. I should have known that he really was a jerk and he was never going to help me. I got to where I just stopped asking him to do things because it was always a hassle and I had to justify my request.

          I would look at other couples and be so sad that my husband didn’t share in the household. That he didn’t feel the need to help me. I was such a chump. Never again.

          • OMG. Because we LOVE cleaning SO much. Hey, I don’t like paying taxes, so should I warn the IRS?

            My X wanted to buy an “eco-friendly” fridge with a freezer that would have to be de-frosted. I asked him if HE was going to go to the trouble of doing said de-frosting. He said, “No, that is YOUR job”. I said, “then we are getting a frost-free one”. He was furious with me. Furious. Because I am clearly a person who doesn’t care about the planet. Whatever. You want it that badly, buddy, do it yourself.

  • Still growing out of this…better than I was as Ms Fiestypants can attest. However, I need to apply this chump recovery to my work world. Loyalty and trust being a two way street is a hard lesson to learn.

  • I am Gaby, I am a chump! I struggle for over 2 years but I am stronger and better, most importantly I made peace 🙌🏼
    I am grateful for the time we shared together and wish him the best!
    I feel happier then ever, looking forward to see new horizons of my own 😍💃🏻
    Cheers to all!!! 🍻

  • Ahahaha yes!

    A few weeks into our marriage, when I discovered his Asian lesbian super-heroine cosplay porn tapes (gah!), we had our first and virtually only Words. I detest, loathe and abhor porn, in my own home. Anyone else can do as they like, but not in my home. Fast-forward 12 years and I’m an exhausted menopausal Mum of 3 children under 3 years old, waking up at dead of night to find him using porn on the computer at the bottom of our bed. I say nothing then or later because ‘He needs it now’. That was the moment I became a Chump and it all went downhill from there.

    Never letting my boundaries down again!

  • CL, thank you for this. I think I imagined that the cheater was the problem and once he’s gone, all my issues would disappear. Couldn’t be more wrong 😛 It’s actually kind of exhausting and scary to have boundaries and to keep enforcing them. Example? I need to make a career move (finishing my PhD this year and have no desire to stay in academia). Ever since I said that to my adviser last week, I’ve been feeling super guilty. I had made that decision a long time ago for various reasons, but I also don’t want to keep working with her: I constantly feel used in that environment. I was super sure of it, but ever since she said it was unreasonable and told my other colleagues (who message me to ask why and what I am thinking), I’ve been feeling like I’m letting everyone down, even though it’s my life and I know what I’m doing. Being a chump is exhausting :p

    • Amanda, trust your gut. If you constantly feel used in the academic environment, then you almost certainly ARE being used. TRUST YOUR GUT. It knows you better than your colleagues do.

      It’s none of their damned business what you’re thinking, anyway. Do you need their permission to get a job somewhere? I don’t think so.

      The feeling of guilt and of letting the side down are how these people – although sometimes well meaning – manipulate us, and keep us in our boxes. (We let them do it, so they keep doing it. Easy.)

      Yes – maintaining boundaries is hard at first, and sometimes we make mistakes and go too far, but you know what? IT GETS EASIER. It really does. And it becomes second nature, and a good habit.

      Other people – especially the ones who have been bossing us round and using us for their own purposes or validation or whatever – HATE IT when we start drawing the line. And they will work against us. And we have to keep pushing back, in every way we can, or they will swamp us all over again.

      So use those cheater-honed skills to get away from this dodgy relationship with your dodgy adviser. Who is she in this relationship? Who are you? How did it get this way?

      You have got this.

      • You are so right Lola, many people think if you work in a school system or a church you will be working with NICE, educated, polite people with morals and altruistic goals. Spoiler Alert — this is a clear misperception. People see what they hope to see, and often trip over the truth and still do not see how things really are. Read a summary article this morning about bullying in the academic workplace, and it hit so close to home for me I had to stand up and take a deep breath. If you are a chump, the nice, educated, altruistic, helpful life appeals to you, and you want to be appreciated. I still want all those things. But after living in that world for most of my adult work life, I am sad to say there are few people there who fit those ideals. There are many power hungry, petty, users there. I believe it is one of the reasons that our education system is not what it should be. For a system to sustain, there has to be firm boundaries and strong positive values to guide it in the right direction. Bullies and users need to be outed, and ousted. I know they exist in all workplaces, and this goal should be extended into our whole society, but please, lets make an effort to start with the institutions that help raise our children. They are our future.

    • Amanda, oh man, this really strikes a nerve. The field I have a PhD in also expects everyone to remain in academia. When I started graduate school 12 years ago, speaking the word ‘industry’ was taboo. But, reality check, the available academic positions in my field would cover only about 5% of the total number of grad students in the field. Yet, the unspoken rule was that everyone remain in academia. My thought was ‘spend a lifetime struggling for grants and perpetuating the institutional serfdom that is biomedical grad school? No thanks.’ Industry isn’t such an ugly word these days, at least.

      But, the hypocrisy of the ivory tower is neither here nor there. The point is that you pursued your PhD for yourself with a very specific goal in mind. It’s your achievement, not your mentor’s or the department’s. Despite what they probably think, you don’t owe them anything. They didn’t do you a favor by allowing you to earn a PhD. You have every right and obligation to use your PhD for your own goals.

    • Go with your intuition! YOU earned your degrees and you take that knowledge and your achievements with you whether you stay in academe or not. I think the Ivory Tower has a disproportionate number of egotistical narcs, and it’s been my toxic world for two decades, and I’ve been working on my escape plan. Once I survived my cheater and cleaned up the mess, I realized I could not fully recover from chumpiness as long as I continued to work in this environment.

      • I’d say the overwhelming majority are egotistical narcs, like 99.9999%. It’s a prerequisite I think to getting funding in that environment. You have to be really good at impression management (“my research will change the world!”) and gaslighting (“I never said THAT was the overall goal of my lab.”).

        It even extends to interactions with students (“These experiments will finish off a really nice paper.”…and when those experiments don’t show expected results…”I NEVER told you to do those experiments because I knew they wouldn’t work!”) Ugh, I spent 10 years working like this only to come home to a cheater. No wonder I lost half my hair and developed heart palpatations that lasted for years and magically went away when I left all that behind.

        • This is the OW to a tee. “Look at me! I’m a SCIENTIST!! And I have my PhD! Oh, and I’m a WOMAN. And, if my paper isn’t published, it is clearly because of misogyny.” Do what most MEN do, sweetheart, and take gender out of the equation by using your friggin’ initials on said papers.

          Of course, then she would have nothing on which to blame her lack of publication.

  • I was a chump for 34 years. Looking back I could kick my former self in the ass. I never put myself first. I gave up my hard earned money so he could restore a 1970 Dodge Dart. Worked overtime and the last 5 years of our marriage he wentvoutc4 to 5 nights a week spending money on skankella. I actually believed and trusted that he was going to a friends to watch football and play pool.
    I No longer feel bad saying no. If I do not want to do something . I proudly say no.

      • …except yes to restoring DDarts* when you bring it into the marriage w/ visions of romantic drives across the country.

        My inability to say “no” let that dream go onto the bed of a tow truck & into the hands of another dreamer.

        I too am a designer and have done my share of “garden tour” brochures. And XW’s ppt presentations looked way better – btw.

        Its hard to say “no”. So very hard.

        *it became a rust-bucket sitting in the garage, so it wasn’t totally a bad idea to move it along..

  • Examine every relationship. My house WAS on fire. And in order to save myself going forward I have to allow others to take responsibility for themselves.

    Who would have thought being selfless was a flaw. It is a hard lesson to learn and feels isolating at first to take off the rescue hat. Yet it was my MO to the core.

    Surely my actions should have spoken louder than words. It’s a role I felt comfortable with early in life. Saying no over time builds self worth. Letting go of giving; who would have thought it makes you stronger. It does.

  • My name is Dianne, and I am a chump.

    I have spent the past week beating myself up because I invited!! Invited! A woman friend to go along on a cruise I had planned for myself post chemo. How did this happen? My therapist points out thet I really don’t know how this came to be. And red flags were flying high in the weeks before we left!

    I loved taking the quiz above, Lola Granola, and now recognize I was saving her from the grief of her husbands death, I WOULD SAVE HER, at the same time looking for admiration for my generosity and was a little scared to take this trip on by myself.

    All I know was suddenly I was on a ship with a classic narcissist and user, and was “too nice and motherly” to toss her butt off and send her home.

    Ouch!!

    I thought I was making progress in the NO department, in smelling out and avoiding users, but this was a MAJOR and expensive fail, both in self confidence and money. I have been hiding st home with my head under a pillow.

    As my therapist, Diane Stickland (look her up, posts here and blogs) said, you were the charity and she the recipient. You offered a little, and she
    took it all.

    Will I ever learn? CL, this post was what I needed, everyones comments are balm, and Lola, that list is going up all over my house.

    Love you, CN

    • Take back the cruise! Go another time, but go ALONE! You can always save up for a really good one next time, too.

      Weasels gotta weasel. You have to learn to out-weasel them. I like doing it by being completely and utterly nice and vacant at the same time, and missing all their hints and suggestions, as if I am really rather stupid and vague.

      • Lola, where have you heen all my life?

        Weasles have to weasle and there sure are a lot of them out there. Instead of listening with my heart, I need to listen with your vague, niceness until I see who they are. I used to play “dumb blonde”, guess its time to reprise that role!

        And I did recognize the playbook right away. And tried to freeze her out. But was unable to pull up the guts to freeze the funds and force her to go home. Sigh.

    • Oh I do think this is progress though! It sucks that she ruined your celebration gift to yourself, yes. But you saw her for who she was and what she was. For myself, I would’ve kept wondering what I did to make someone else behave in such an atrocious way towards me.

  • I was born doing the pick me dance. Lived it throughout my childhood. Dad always compared me to my skinny, younger blonde ballerina Sister ( not her fault ). I was althletic in a different way – but it did not matter to him. She was thin,fluffy and cute!

    In my relationships I found that I always tried too hard. Never a two way street.

    When I met my husband he love bombed me and I was over the moon! No one had ever just loved me for me and he didn’t make me chase him. He was so in love with me that I got pregnant and married ( in that order ) within 6 months.

    Once my daughter was born the discard started. I believe that this felt so normal to me because of my upbringing that I lay down like the chump I am and took the dancing doormat stance as second nature.

    It took a horrific amount of financial abuse, emotional abuse and cheating for me to stand up again and even consider saving myself.

    Today I am still working on my chumminess/ but I recognize it for what it is.

  • “But the world isn’t just full of chumps — it’s full of bad guys who will play you. And even more full of people who just Need Things Done and will sniff out your chumpiness and use you. ”

    Wow, my marriage in once sentence !

  • Great subject, one I am busily confronting in myself at the moment, and having a tough time with.

    After years in and out of therapy, and years of Alanon I have gotten much better at boundaries with the world at large. Having been “raised by wolves”, as one therapist put it, set me up to be a chump of epic proportions. Combining a malignant narcissist sperm donor, and a covert narcissist egg donor as parents, produces a kid that had no idea of where those boundaries might be. Instinctively there were some there in that I recognized the injustice of their abuse, but it was tough to learn to say no as an adult because I had to learn that in the real world, most of the time, there was no all powerful person standing by to administer terrible punishments if I dared say no. My challenge was to comfort and nurture that terrified little girl inside. As she began to claim her power as a person, so did I.

    My challenge today is keeping good boundaries with those I love, my son in particular. He is a functioning alcoholic who has just been diagnosed with Wernike Korsikoff Syndrome. Basically, it’s a progressive form of alcoholic dementia. He might have a chance if he stopped drinking, but he doesn’t think he has a problem and continues to drink. He may have a year left, maybe a few, but the fact that I am powerless over the whole situation is a bitter pill to swallow. I am not going to enable him to kill himself quicker, so there will be no rescuing from the consequences of his drinking. I have hope that maybe, just maybe he will find sobriety if he has to face his consequences on his own. I told him that I can’t fix him, I can’t help him if he doesn’t want to be helped, so all I can do is love him. I will buy him an occasional meal if he is hungry, but that’s it. I have to turn him over to Spirit and get on with my life. It would be easier if he were a jerk, but he is sweet, and loving, and sliding into gentle befuddlement.

    One chump lesson has been that I am responsible only for myself, (and my kids while they were kids.)
    It sucks large to not be able to save someone I love so much, but it is not my call. The only thing left to do is what Alanon says, to take my hands and eyes off of my son, and put them on myself, to live the best life, and be the best person I can.

  • For maybe the last five years of marriage, I bought my clothes at Goodwill, got the cheapest haircuts (and even those very seldom), and basically bought things strictly for kids and house, getting yelled at even for that.

    Meanwhile, cheater and his chick were decorating their love nest with antiques, catering parties galore, building a wine cellar.

    Why?

    All of the usual reasons: real and justified fear, disbelief, denial, hopium, paralysis.

    Can’t even tell you how many flyers, brochures, websites, databases, fundraising catalogs and so forth I made during that time. Was incredibly grateful to have things to do that did not involve contemplating what in the hell to do. Then, maybe the entire last year before dday was nothing but contemplating what in the hell to do. Lots of sitting and staring and being at a loss, punctuated by more abuse and more fear.

    It was killing me.

    Never again. I still love poking around at the Goodwill, though. Perfectly worn Levi’s, soft as butter, are a treasure.

    Not entirely done with my journey toward freedom, though. Long hard trek, that, though I think the end is nearing. Still plenty of fear and anxiety to face, but I’m not on point of disappearing any more.

    • cashmere, that’s beautiful. I love the poking around too.

      “Was incredibly grateful to have things to do that did not involve contemplating what in the hell to do.”

      Yes. Exactly. #MeToo. Anything to avoid facing the abyss.

      But when you really do decide to face it, it’s actually not nearly as scary as you thought. Grasping the nettle.

    • How about the opposite of Goodwill…doing everything in the world to be attractive, pretty, seductive, sexy….to keep cheater atome. Pick me dancing hard, with hair removal, hair extensions, waxes, mani-pedi, implants, facials, fat freezing, dermatologists, clothes, staying super slim….all trying to get cheater’s attention. For Cheater to leave with a muffin top, fat bottom AP. Then, cheater to say that spouse was the narcissist! Now, AP is getting skinny and looking good and wearing spouse style. Spouse done holding the stomach in. Exhale. Boundaries = Be. Who. You. Are.

  • I am raising my chumpy hand here to say ‘My name is Twiceachump and I am a chump’. Definitely grew up with FOO issues. Father was a narcissist and alcoholic cheater. I’ve married 2 narcissists, overt and covert. Not alcoholics but definitely asshole users. Second husband a serial cheater ‘nice guy’ I spent 20 years of my life with.

    My mom tells me to this day that I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. This is the work I have to do for myself. I’m learning to say no and I’m better with boundaries. But damn I feel really guilty about it and will stew on it for days!!

    • I would suggest that your mom is not helping here. She may be that voice in your head that helps you to keep feeling guilty all the time.

      It does get better with time and practice, but you have to stick at it. It’s worth it, though.

      Stewing is a vicious and depressing obsessive-type cycle that can be broken by giving yourself a full (for example) five minutes BY THE CLOCK to do nothing but sit and stew on the issue. When the timer goes off, that’s it. End of stewing. You have to give the matter your undivided attention in all its manifestations.

      You can do it for 20 minutes if you really feel you need to stew a lot. But time yourself. And only stew with a timer on.

      The rest of your time should be your own, stew-free. You can train yourself! And if you get it right and have a day when you only stew on the timer, reward yourself.

  • Being a victim of abuse of any kind is horrible. I completely agree, we are not responsible for their behavior, but we are responsible for the one thing we control, and that is our reaction to it. Once you know better, you do better..thank you Maya Angelou..we can’t undo the past, but you sure as hell can guide your future.

  • I’m Shari and I am a chump as well. I am spackle free about a year now. Took a while but I’m I am finally spackle free. Thank You, Tracy, for all the great advice and insight. Reading your book years ago was my healing. Reading the blog was my therapy. Very grateful !! Thank You. I also thank all you fellow chumps who share your stories. There really is power in being a chump ironically. Your stories help other chumps feel like they are not crazy and that we all have that common denominator. We are not alone and it’s not us, it’s the heartless jerks that fooled our good hearts into thinking we are less than we are. Not the case!!!

  • My rules for giving….time, money….

    Do I WANT to?
    Can I afford it?
    Am I giving without expectations?

    I have to answer yes to all three to say YES, otherwise it’s a NO.

    New point on the boundary issue….I am way better than I was when I first heard the term in 1986 in therapy, but in my marriage of course I was with someone who had very poor boundaries (cheating is a boundary issue!)….he said YES when he meant NO, then resented ME in secret, and used it as justification for his affair. (The term I learned in high school, “gunnysacking”….holding resentments and then hitting someone over the head with the whole lot when the fuse blows…)
    that’s my STBXH.

    Or as Melody Beattie says, “when people who feel guilty say ‘no’ they flip it into anger at the other person”…..

    One of my crimes in my husband’s major league people-pleasing family was saying NO. My MIL gave me the silent treatment for THREE YEARS when I politely told her I was very uncomfortable with her just walking into my home (she thought our home was another room in her house). And crazy as this sounds, it only recently hit me that she got away with it because MY HUSBAND DIDN’T BACK ME UP! He didn’t want her walking into the house either, but his way of “setting boundaries” on that issue was to tell his mother that I didn’t like her walking in. I got thrown under the bus a lot…and stayed because Hey, we’re sober and clean and in counseling together!
    But I was a frog in the pot of water and didn’t notice when the heat was being turned up….that’s my best guess about why I stayed so long….too loyal and not loyalled in return…😔

    So I guess what I am thinking about on the boundary issue is being on the receiving end of that rage when someone can’t set boundaries and flips it into anger at you. I see a lot of linkage with this concept and cheating.

    • he said YES when he meant NO, then resented ME in secret, and used it as justification for his affair. (The term I learned in high school, “gunnysacking”….holding resentments and then hitting someone over the head with the whole lot when the fuse blows…)
      that’s my STBXH.

      Ye, yes, yes! This is exactly what I am describing below in my post. You said it better. Thanks.

  • To some extent I think it is my ex who is the codependent one. He is the people pleaser. He wants everyone to love him. He volunteers and he helps out. He works hard at whatever job he has. He used to do a lot for his family too. He never got any pleasure out of it, however. He did it out of a sense of obligation and as a way to get people to like and admire him or give him a raise. Eventually, when the thanks, praise, and or pay raises dried up he would start to resent the things he did for others with too little gain in return. He used to work hard to please me too. He worked harder than he needed to. I rarely asked him to do anything for me although I tried to show my appreciation when he did. I didn’t want to be a burden on him as it appeared so many other people were. I thought he did things for me because he loved me and it brought him pleasure to be nice to me. Wrong. Eventually he resented everything he had done for me too, never mind that I did reciprocate and did things for him as well. Eventually he burned out. He felt that he had wasted his life giving and not getting and that gave him a sense of entitlement. He had earned something for himself. Then he gave himself permission to betray the one person who gave back and treated him better than anyone else ever had. Somehow he took all of the fruitless efforts he had made over the years to make everyone love him and put it all on me as if I was the one he had done everything for and everyone else’s lack of appreciation was my lack of appreciation. He didn’t feel loved by me because he didn’t feel loved by anybody else. He was completely blind to his success (earning my love and admiration). I was the one who loved him and appreciated him and did things to try and improve his life and he chose to betray me. Meanwhile, he is still off being the people pleaser for everyone else. He’s an idiot.

    I also have codependent tendencies although they manifest differently. I don’t try to get the world to love me, but I desperately try to avoid being a burden on the world. I am not good at asking for help. I tend towards trying to please those to whom I think something is owed. I used to tie myself into knots trying to be the perfect employee because they are paying me after all and I don’t want them to regret hiring me. On the other end, I tried to be accommodating of my nannies, pay them well and be good to them because I wanted them to enjoy working for me. I was good to my ex because he was good to me and I didn’t want the relationship to be lopsided and I didn’t ever want to be a burden on him like so many other people seemed to be. Somehow, I ended up being viewed that way in the end anyway. I am getting better. I had previous bosses that took advantage of my codependence. My current employer, however, is wonderful. They make me feel appreciated every day without my having to tie myself in knots. They were very accommodating of my loss of productivity during the first few months after my marriage blew up. When I make a mistake I just fix it and its fine. I hit my deadlines and that’s enough. I still work hard to do my job but I no longer try to take on more than I can reasonably handle that could cause me to burn out and/or get resentful. I just do good work. My efforts with the nannies seem to have paid off as I am still in touch with the most recent ones and consider them friends. Meanwhile, I am in a new relationship with a new guy. I am still feeling my way with this one. I probably did start dating too soon as I still have so many uncertainties about what my priorities are and what I really want out of a romantic relationship long term. That and although I am over wanting to reconcile with ex, I am not yet over the trauma of how he ended our marriage. I am still working through that. I did at least get into this new relationship, however, with few expectations of him or of myself. We enjoy each other’s company and we keep getting together but neither one of us is falling all over his/herself in order to please and/or impress the other and that is a good thing. There is hope for me.

  • Hi, I’m MissBailey and I’m a chump. I’ve spent most of the life not reinforcing my boundaries..

    The X, in the beginning, liked that I would get all fired up when I thought my principles were being trampled on. Somewhere along the way, I lost that spark. I think it gotten beaten down by the X who hated being told NO. When I tried to stand up for myself, I got the silent treatment, a fight or disrespect.

    He used to embarrass me in public. He would berate me using a disprectful tone and hurtful words. Everyone would look away or say nothing. I hated him for being so cruel to me and for trying to make me look stupid. Damn him for being a fucking prick, and please forgive myself for thinking he was better than he was.

    I’ve always been a people pleaser and tend to drive my decisions based on guilt. My life has changed thought very drastically in the few months. I’m divorced and my mother passed away a few months. Other than to dear friends and myself, I have no commitments. It’s a very strange place that I’m not sure how to navigate.

    I don’t feel like the same person that I used to be. I used to laugh more. I used to have a better sense of humor. I’m not sure what happened…life, disappointments, stress. I don’t feel unhappy or depressed but I’m missing the joy that used to be in my life. I hate the X for sucking the life out me and I hate that I let him do it.

    • I also had a divorce and lost my dad this year. It is quite overwhelming and alot of pressure to be the person you were before the storm. I struggle daily with this myself, I recently lost my best girlfriend because she said I don’t listen to her anymore. I can only wish that you and I can get to the place of loving ourselves again even though out hearts were broken. This is my wish. Life is so short and I want to enjoy it again and bring my best qualities back to those who deserve it. Much love and hugs xo sweet

      • Much love and hugs to you too! Dealing with two griefs in one year is hard.

        I was just reminded of something my mother said to me. My brother killed himself about 30 years ago. My mom was telling me how her second husband (a serial cheater with long-time girlfriend) had complained that he wanted the old Marty back. Like she said, that version was gone. She will never be the same.

        We’ve been through too much to ever be the same. We will never have that innocence of youth where the possibilities and love for our husbands was endless. We’ve been hurt and betrayed. We allowed ourselves to be chumps. But, we aren’t doomed. Our walls will sing again.

        • shaking my head – we didn’t allow ourselves to be chumps. We got chumped. But, there were things I did and did not do that allowed myself to be used and abused. I will never forgive me for taking my love and trying to turn it into sometthing dark and ugly.

      • SCG I feel so sad that your girlfriend didn’t have the largess to recognise what you’ve been through, and the fact that you are struggling to maintain day to day stuff, on top of the other grief and trauma. That speaks to me about a lack of insight. It probably doesn’t help, and you’ve probably already thought it, but I just thought I’d say. I’ve been going through a period lately where, after giving birth, outing the affair and having my father die all in the last 3 years, I am struggling to function on a day to day level and hold back the dam of emotions that come with those events. I have slowed to a crawl, my burden has been too heavy. It’s only been in the last fortnight I’ve recognised that I need to give myself some space to face, process and if possible resolve some of the associated crap, so that I don’t feel like I am carrying a huge rock on my back everywhere I go. I am hoping that by acknowledging how deeply unhappy I feel right now, instead of just soldiering on and hoping the passage of time will take it’s course without actually facing anything, that I will be able to make some positive proactive changes to the way I feel and ‘lighten my load’. Hugs to you.

        • Stig,Hugs to you back. She was with me thru it all, I have to acknowledge that I was deeply hurt by my world crashing in and she couldn’t save me from it. Only I could do that. She was the best and I never realized the toll it was taking on her. I understand ‘lightening your load’. I’m a work in progress. One step at a time. Life is still great! I know it is… I just need to let go.

  • Timely as usual since this is exactly what I’ve been dealing with right now. For every story we hear of cheater asshattery in a relationship that lasts years or decades, there’s a chump there taking it for years or decades.

    After the shock and the rage and the divorce fight and the grief and building a new and INFINITELY BETTER life … I’ve had to own that I allowed myself to be treated like shit for 22 years. Honestly, this has been one of the hardest parts of the journey — swallowing that I had so little self-worth, so few boundaries, that I allowed a relationship and my mental/physical health to spiral down to such awful low points. The trauma and abuse cycle is powerful, and you have a lot to lose if you get caught in it.

    It’s incredible now to look back at what I accepted in my marriage. All I can say is I’m incredibly grateful for CL and CN because I’m not sure I would have made it out of chumpdom without the knowledge and wisdom here.

  • I’d like to say I never pick-me danced, went to a useless marriage counseling session (in which I was ridiculed and told what an inferior being I was), or felt sorry for my STBX because she was spending Thanksgiving alone…but thankfully, that part of chumpiness — with her — died after a couple of months.

    Now, I need to do something about my own version of the “garden brochure.” We have a club of 50+ people. I’m the leader, and I enjoy doing it, but I’m the only one that ever helps out with events. And I’m the only one that’s bothered to donate any money to the club in the last couple of years. Time to say no…in a nice way, of course 🙂 .

  • I set a boundary with this stringer reporter woman who I had worked with peripherally a couple of years ago. No, I won’t give you a quote and No, you know I don’t work with you. I suspected she was NPD. Now I know for sure. Now my organization and I are confronted with a full-on smear campaign. She is asking for an attorney general investigation of my organization, accusing me of embezzlement, asking for all this publicly on Facebook and sending her open letter to all of the local media.

    I read somewhere if you want to know who is a narc, set a boundary. If all hell breaks loose, voila! there you have one.

    We will be fine. The worst thing Chumpy me has done is to pinch off a piece of succulent in an inconspicuous place on the plant while I am on my walks. I am still sure the FBI is going to be showing up at my door any time now. I will confess fully.

  • I’ve gotten so much better enforcing boundaries these days. Case in point. I rented part of my house to a so called ‘friend’ for a month last March. She left both rooms filthy for me to clean…they were spotless when she moved in and then left a huge pile of crap that she couldn’t fit into her SUV to take home to Canada. This was in April and I said ‘You can’t leave this stuff here…my house is small, I don’t have room to store your stuff (for free)’ She told me that she would be back in June to get it. June 1st I contacted her about coming to get it or arrange for someone to pick it up. She told me that she would be back at ‘the end of the summer’ to get it. Huh? I ended up giving her two deadlines to get the stuff and she ignored both. So I got rid of it all. Last Sunday she showed up to get it and I told her that it was ‘GONE.’ She was furious. Too bad. Friends don’t do that to friends. I didn’t lose a minute of sleep over any of it.

  • Great subject (and I love reading these) .

    The Chump layers have peeled off slowly for me over the years. The Chump in me has made my professional life more stressful than it needs to be. I was a lot better getting to the personal life issues and choosing the greatest empathetic mate of all time.

    I have been in corporate management in a busy growing company for about 2 years, a new experience for me, and thank goodness I have a good mentor for a boss. As I have described to her feeling overburdened and interrupted too much, she has done a good job of making me aware of how I have to stop inviting that sort of interruption.

    “Nice” really does suck. There is a dishonest element in it where you say yes, want to say no, and you end of resenting people. “No has power, and also has power to let you concentrate and get the important stuff done.

    • Re: ending up resenting people: I tried to finesse my urge to be nice last week and had an epic failure.

      XW asked to switch custody days and I had a moment of insight (good!) and responded to her honestly (bad!). I told her that I was afraid I would resent it if I said yes to her and I ended up needing the day to run errands with the kids – so I offered “yes, but I might need to take it back”. I was very explicit that I was *trying* to say yes without boxing myself into a corner.

      XW completely flipped out, accusing me offering something I knew she’d never accept just to look good, of “holding her hostage” to my “whims” if I changed my mind for “any reason”. To be clear: she was asking me for a favor – switching days so she could see the kids – because she was traveling (to see AP) on her normal custody day. In the end she flat-out refused to accept my compromise “out of principle” and told me it was either I let her have the kids when she wants on the terms she wants, or she won’t see the kids at all. So she didn’t see the kids.

      Now XW has bought eldest daughter (away at college, so I won’t see her all fall) a ticket to go to Europe with her so I won’t see her at Christmas (my allotted custody time with the other kids) in retaliation.

      I think the lesson is that “no” is a complete sentence. Don’t offer to compromise with someone with malice in her heart.

  • Recently, while cleaning out the basement, I came across all of our Pre-marital counseling workbooks. In it was a list where one person had to write what the other was giving up in the relationship. My ex had written a list of about 10 things that I had to give up–driving further for work, living with his brother, etc.
    I had zero things on the list for him. He didn’t have to give up anything to be in our relationship. And somehow I expected him to compromise on things going forward.

    *facepalm*

    • Wow. This is an eye-opener. I think back to my pre-marriage days and what I had to give up versus what he had to give up, and I find the same equation. I was totally unable to see how I was setting the stage for “compromise means EX gets everything he wants.”

      In my case, I think I was buying into a cultural myth that marriage is more for women–that agreeing to be married and monogamous (grit teeth here) is the male half of the marital compromise and the rest is on the woman. I have no idea how I got so drunk on this myth. You’d think I was born in 1930 and raised on the set of “Father Knows Best” and that was not the case.

  • I did eventually get round to saying no when the ex let two young people into our home in DC and they ended up spending three hours bombarding us with their sodding religion (no idea what it was)! After that never again. One time the ex came home roaring drunk around 2am looking for a fight. I squared up to him and very calmly said “don’t you even THINK about blaming me for your disgusting state” and he shriveled right in front of me (he didn’t usually- I mostly got beat up) but that was when I learned “no” is a complete sentence! Never again!1

  • This is a great post. How we need to build boundaries in general, not just about romance picker.

    Some of the best articles and advice on the site here is about how to recover. How to learn to say no, how to believe in your capabilities, how to undo the damage. Many chumps have PTSD or develop or worsen in anxiety. I haven’t seen the piles of advice the same way I used to- all the articles had piles of people telling every chump to get up and walk around the block… maybe I am not seeing it because I’m already doing it, or maybe the articles have been about other stuff. But. My therapist is harping on me, so I’m sharing his mantra- 30 min a day. Maybe tomorrow’s challenge should be talking about how we recovered and how we found time for all the self care while balancing things and learning new boundaries… it’s hard but possible.

    • I moved into an apartment with a 9 yo dog who’s had 2+ acres to roam since he was a puppy. He’s a bigger guy so we walk every day in the evening. If it’s too hot, we go for a ride.

      I also walked on my lunch hour. I quit doing it during the hot, hot weather. I started back up this week. I like being outside, hearing the birds and people (I’m on a university campus), and how it makes me feel energized and good about doing something for myself.

    • Just being busy helped me heal because I had other things to focus on. Yes my world was still falling apart, but I still had to get the kids fed and out the door for school. They still needed help with homework and rides to their appointments, activities. The birthday parties still needed to be planned and executed. I kept doing these things because I knew I could do them well and I needed to do the things I was good at to maintain any sense of self worth at all.

      The other thing I did was start organizing a once a month “girls night out” with some other neighborhood moms. They all knew my marriage was in the process of blowing up, but I didn’t talk about it much during those events because that wasn’t their purpose. The purpose was to get out and do fun things and give the other mom’s a break as well. I felt good about starting something that the other moms seemed to enjoy as well although it eventually did fizzle when it became too difficult to find time when everyone could meet.

      As soon as the divorce was final and the parenting plan was finalized I joined an outdoor meetup group. This group scheduled a lot of mid length hikes so that gave me something to do besides sit at home and mope when ex had the kids. I eventually met the man I am dating now through this group.

  • ” Forgive yourself for baking another cupcake for the cake eater instead of setting fire to the kitchen and leaving. Forgive yourself for being a chump.”

    Yep, I literally did that. He came over to our home to meet with the realtor to list our house two weeks after ILYBINILWY. I fucking baked him cupcakes. He was afraid to eat them as he thought I may have done something bad to them, but when he was convinced that I hadn’t (as if), he ate one. I chased after him to his car with a plateful of cupcakes. Hello, I’m NoKibble4U and I was a chump 5 years ago.

  • “I own that I’m a people pleaser, and I’ve had to work on my issues of seeking value by what I offer other people. The pleasant side of that is you can count on me to give you a ride to the airport. The uglier side of that is I tend to over estimate my powers. I WILL MAKE YOU LOVE ME! I can control any bad outcome if I just WORK HARDER! I accept responsibility for things I shouldn’t. And I resent it when people don’t notice my ‘kindness.'”

    This is EXACTLY who I am. Thankfully, my family and friends pretty much all said, “So, we’ll help you pack your boxes because you need to leave that arsehole!” I also found supportive, you-must-leave-him folks on another site before CL launched. So, I’m glad that I never went through the “make him love me” phase, but I couldn’t have done it without folks who felt the same way as CL. I’m quite certain that if I hadn’t been hearing a chorus of “Leave him, leave him” in my ear since day one, I would have tried and tried again at the pick-me dance.

    We just need to get all of society on board. I don’t really talk about my personal experience with people I’m not close to, but when ANYONE talks about how cheating is justified, I will open my mouth and say, “Nope, there’s no excuse for cheating.” I have found that they really don’t have a good rebuttal. Shocker.

  • “So ask yourself — why did I accept this crap?”

    Well, I never did accept it. 3 years later, I am filled with the same rage as D-day. However, 3 years later, I’m still stuck. Which brings me too…

    “What am I afraid of?”

    My 3 kids (all under 10) having the same childhood that I had. My parents were poor, and then they were DIVORCED and poor. I didn’t realize it then, but I was really a depressed kid. Life was just so bleak until ran like hell for college. The divorce itself wasn’t nearly as bad as having to ping pong back and forth between 2 parents that I loved dearly. It was tragic hell. I don’t want that for my kids. Today, I don’t make nearly as much as my husband. After our first child, my husband and I agreed that we wanted our children home as much as possible, as opposed to staying in a day care. I have a master’s degree, and I work in higher education, but my salary is a good 8 years behind where it would be if I had kept working full time from the start. My salary alone won’t cut it where I live. I’m afraid of struggling to pay bills and put food on the table. In a way, I feel like my husband’s actions have subjected me to the stigma of becoming “just another black single mother” and that (stigma) sickens me to the core. There you have it. I am eyeballs deep in shit.

    • Justchumped, that is a difficult position to be in. You did everything the “proper” way. You got married, you had children and you assumed you had a forever partner. You were committed. Her turned out not to be. Now you are in the position of being a doormat to your asshole husband or being judged by a society that is, unfortunately, likely to presume the worst of you and how you got into your circumstances. It’s just another case of society blaming people out of ignorance for things that they really could not control. We tend to do that a lot. We shouldn’t be blaming single moms of any race who were never married either because we just don’t know their circumstances. I would say screw what other people think and leave the bum. You know the truth and you can hold your head high knowing that you did nothing wrong and you are doing your best to raise your kids in an environment that doesn’t teach them how to be codependent or abusive. Unfortunately, you will still need to do your best to accommodate their relationship with their dad as difficult as that might be, assuming he makes the effort to be a dad. That and make sure that your children know you love them and give them as much of your focus as you can to help them heal. First, however, get a lawyer and fight for everything you can get so that you can maintain a decent home for your children.

  • I am a chump. Spackled then pick-me-danced for far too long humbly owning lack of perfection. accepting disrespect and non-reciprocity in return for occasional charm which fuelled hopium of a less stressed, financially secure future. Betrayed and chumped again at DD2 I redirected the misery, disappointment and anger, gathered courage, lined up ducks, and left entitled, lying, cheating, gaslighting X. Nearly two years of NC apart from the very occasional grey rock logistic is healing, peaceful and authentic. Spackling is a hard habit to break. Making good progress at work. It is a work in progress with DD and DS who study full-time, live with me and are making progress learning adulting 🙂

  • It’s not exactly on topic….I don’t know what happened 37 years ago during the party…. but after watching chilling performance of judge K….. wow, just wow.

    I think anyone from chumpland can see through this man… regardless of him being involved in this particular act…. there is one red flag after another…. a.m. I the only one seeing it?!?

    • I can’t watch. I thought I was going to have a stroke during the Anita Hill hearings and I was much younger then. And we all know how that ended.

    • I couldn’t watch more than a few minutes. A person’s good name being dragged through the mud, getting tried in the court of public opinion, so many willing to conveniently overlook “innocent until proven guilty” when doing so furthers their own agenda… Reminds me of X working sneakily and diligently to make others see me as a monster. *shudder*. I see plenty of red flags, all right, but not with, “this man.”

  • I’m CeliA, happily divorced, and NC with ex wingnut for three years.

    I’ve got so much anger still and forgiving myself is a tough one that I am still figuring out right now.

  • This is my first comment after signing up a year ago after dday#5 and lurking periodically. This post couldn’t be more timely, especially this:

    “I think it’s totally okay, necessary even, to react to blameshifting with anger. How dare you try and pin this shit on ME! But don’t let that stop you from self-examination. You don’t have to justify yourself to the cheaters and the rubberneckers in your life. But you do need to answer to yourself. Who WAS I in that relationship? How did it get to this point? Why didn’t I enforce my boundaries or know that it was okay even to have boundaries? How can I honor myself going forward?”

    I have been doing great but now that I’m trying to divorce and resolve custody with my fuckwit stbx… it’s gotten ugly. He hooked me good this week and I totally went down the rabbit hole into an argument with him, when he blameshifted his three year old struggle with alcohol and tried to rewrite history and tell me that I too, apparently had a drinking problem. Wtf? I’m now scouring through 3+ years of text conversations for documentation and reading through my text messages with him covering 3+ years… all I can do is cringe over many times I let him Hoover me back in or when I desperately begged him to get help and fix himself. Oh sweet Jesus – what. a. chump! Anyway. I’m listening to Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life for the second time right now… and ironically asking myself all those questions about how I got here, how can I grow boundaries and not ever end up here again.

    Chump Lady: Thank you.

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