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Chaos — The Fourth Channel?

I’ve often said the Mindfuck Only Has Three Channelsrage, charm, and self-pity.

Recently, I was upbraided by a self-professed cheater.

I’ll tell you: You’re spot on with the three channels, (but) you missed one: Big Chaos.

Chaos is a premeditated distraction that’s designed to keep us together.

Whenever I’d slip and fear she’d be on my scent, I’d switch on the Big Chaos channel. I’d do it in a number of ways: with my side of the family (Dad has Sudden Cancer, but Doesn’t Want to Discuss His Medical Condition With Anyone But Me!), or a destabilizing project (it’s time to sell the house, RIGHT NOW), or some random concern (does our child have autism? We gotta go to a fuckton of specialists). Or some conflict (my boss now hates me, let’s get lawyers and build a case).

The net results: We spent money and time on random shit to keep us from accumulating assets. Was on purpose on my end, nearly conscious. Because I feared that if she had options, she’d leave. So we had to spend, spend, spend.

Chaos making is totally a thing. In fact, it’s one of the recognized signs of personality disorder, particularly Borderline. And oh yeah, it’s absolutely in the cheater playbook.

I’m not sure chaos is a channel though. I think it’s more meta. Chaos is expressed through the mindfuckery channels.

Here’s chaos and rage:


Here’s chaos and self-pity:

No one appreciates my unique genius at work. This has all been so difficult for me, so I decided to quit my job. Taking a loan from my 401K, I’ve invested in a beer bong/kiteboarding/crocheted toilet cover business on Etsy/eLance/random hobo. Don’t I deserve to be happy? Isn’t it time I invested in ME? Why won’t you believe in me? You’re so negative and controlling. You trigger all my trust issues. Clearly, you don’t believe in my potential. 

Here’s chaos and charm:

LET’S RENEW OUR VOWS IN BERMUDA! Now! Won’t that be ROMANTIC? Babysitter Babyschmitter! What’s another 5K of credit card debt? Let’s be SPONTANEOUS. (Schmoopie is always Spontaneous and Unfettered. Unlike you. Perform the pick me dance!)

Chaos is such a powerful go-to move. It keeps the chump off-balance, and in constant triage mode. I cannot ask more about this affair, I must prevent him from quitting his job and impoverishing our children!

Running here and there, putting out fires, soothing egos, tamping out temper tantrums — it’s exhausting.

Which is rather the point. Now that I’ve worn you ragged, you’ll let that go. #winning

Chumps are so busy being chaos janitors* (Clean up! Aisle 6!), there’s no energy left for their own needs. And if you’re a little FOO fucked up and codependent, that feels normal. Horrible, but normal.

Is someone in your life manufacturing crazy like the Henry Ford of Dysfunction?

Close shop, chumps, and come on over to the stable side. It’s peaceful here and the sanity pays dividends. Chaos? Not so much.

* “I will not be your chaos janitor” is a line from SuperDuperChump I filed away as quite brilliant. 

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  • Holy crap!! I recognize my cheating ex in this. Trips to Europe, jewelry, Doctorial program, motorcycle…. not that it makes a difference now, divorce was final 10 days ago, but I can add it to the “it was HIM, not ME” file and continue on with my now happy life.

    • So my past life with fuckwit. Chaos so that we never moved forward, never accumulated assets so he never had to make a real decision…just react, react ,react. But at the same time everything had to be the same ..even when it didn’t work or serve us well. Don’t have that anymore. Had a peaceful fuckwit free weekend.

      • I make 1/5 of the money I made pre-divorce, but….even though I am still strapped with marital debt….I am gradually progressing on a daily basis instead of going backward.

        Greatest literary masterpiece ever written: “The Tortoise and The Hare”……slow and steady wins the race.

    • Omg! Me too! My ex’s big announcement after we adopted a baby and I’m working 3 jobs is, ‘it’s really finally time for me to start focusing on me and really give my hip hop career a chance by making it our main priority. It’s going to cost money up front, but once I’m established it will really take off’.

      No it’s not.

      • Ah geez, his career in hip-hop. Doesn’t he realize that most artists in this genre are of the starving variety? Time to “focus on” him AFTER you adopted! Yes, a baby requires no attention or time, focus on the man-baby instead. You are well rid of this adolescent. So sorry that you had to endure this.

    • OMG me too!!!!!
      More proof it was him and not me.

      The calm is uneasy at first but so so so amazing!
      Another reason No Contact is the path to the truth and the light

  • Now 20 months post Dday I just cannot believe how massively Chaos got normalised. How sweet it is to be discarded by cheater. Home is SO calm!

    Have to agree with CL that it’s more a meta strategy than expressive channel. But can I offer a possible Fourth – (strangely was just thinking about this today).

    Charm, Rage, Self Pity … Mockery.

    Any chump hurt, confusion or anger is ridiculed: it’s absurd, crazy, stupid, hormonal, over sensitive, an over reaction etc etc. I used to get, “What’s wrong with you? Settle down!” In front of the kids. A chump friend was often told, “It’s so teenage of you”.

    • What do you and Chump Lady mean by ‘meta’ in this context? It’s a new word to me, and when I looked it up, it seems to mean self-referential. Like arguing about the argument you’re having right now. Or a writer who writes a book about a writer who writes a book.

      Pls help me understand in this context.

      • What ‘meta’ means here is that, depending on the features of the chaos the cheater has cooked up for the chump, it can be part of one of the “Three Channels of Manipulation”: Rage, Self-pity or Charm.
        Chaos is not a strategy in itself, but accompanies or follows one of the three strategies.

        And sometimes they overlap. Like when glitterballs goes out and buys an expensive, imported car he needs like a hole in his head and in spite of being in debt: don’t I look good getting out of a tiny MiniCooper being 6’4” (charm); I deserve this (self-pity); I don’t give a damn, it’s MY money (rage) (when chump is helping to pay glitterballs’ crazy family’s expenses).

          • Chaos is meta. Chaos is the network funding the stations. Meta. The stations don’t exist without chaos and chaos doesn’t exist without stations. Chaos won’t be a channel cause it has FOO issues and functions as a counter part. Co dependent. Meta.

        • In my language meta means goal. Something you do to get a certain outcome, That is how I read it. Manufactured chaos with the goal of distracting and keeping the spouse busy and off balance.

      • For the past decade I’ve heard meta used in a literary and scientific context to mean ‘big picture’or ‘larger scale of abstraction’ like ‘meta narrative’ and ‘meta phenomena’. I think self referential is a current millennial use of the word, but doesn’t seem to work as well in this context?

        • Not necessarily a current millennial thing depending on the field. For instance, metacognition is basically thinking about
          thinking and has been studied since the 1970s.

          • Yes, and meta-fiction is fiction about fiction or fictiveness, a longstanding concept in literary criticism.

      • Hey OTCT, yep the way I understand it, and understood CL, is that meta is more an overarching backdrop – the big picture. The simile of the network funding the stations is genius.

        Thanks y’all for weighing in on Mockery as The Fourth Channel. Thoughts, CL??

    • Mockery: Sparkledick’s favorite passtime.

      And “passive-mockery”: when his uncouth family would be incredibly rude to me and he would let it pass. Not that I wanted scenes to be made. But a word in private. Or something like “Well, I think Clearwaters’ bread is excellent” (bread this chump here had backed for his family)

    • Mamameh,
      Absolutely agree with you that Mockery could be listed as one of the channels. My experience is that all four are employed in part when gaslighting.

    • HA! If I ever expressed concerns with his behavior when we were together..he would get cruel and then I would get upset. He would say, “you poor thing, you have it soooo bad!” when he saw tears. I would have to go to the bathroom when upset so I wouldn’t be mocked.

      I thought that was normal! Peace is so wonderful!

      • T, I heard the the same line, when ever I expressed a concern about his behavior, “your poor thing, you’ve got it sooo bad,” he’d ridicule me for crying, “now you’re going to cry..? “Why don’t you go to Mommy or Daddy and cry?”

        I too, accepted this as normal.
        To the public he’s charming and just the nicest guy which made me wonder if there was something wrong with me. He’d say, “no one else has a problem with me just you.” Feels so good to be free from the Mental manipulation.

        • @brit – This! And the “no one else has a problem with me just you.” Gah!

          You end up thinking you’re the one who has all the issues. Until you tear that all down and say, “wait a minute, I have absolutely none of these same said issues with anyone else in my life”.

          Happy to be free too!

    • A week and half after she came back and wanted to reconcile, she mocked me for wanting to see her phone at a restaurant. I went off on her loudly. Oh, she felt uncomfortable with that, Life is sooo hard when you’re the victim. I knew she wasn’t remorseful.

      • When Cheater knew I was on to him…he tried to hide in plain view…one day he mocked me horribly…he waved his phone in the air and said “you think that this is the phone I use to call Susan!!” Guess what he did with that fucking thing? He called Susan.

    • Ex didn’t use mockery on me so much but he did it to my daughter all the time to the point where it bothered me as much as it bothered her. If I tried to defend her, however, then I was making him look bad in front of the kids and I didn’t have his back.

      • Chumpinrecovery, mine did the same thing with our son, mocking him, using ridicule, cutting sarcasm. Many times I could see our sons face flush with embarrassment or see that he was hurt. His remarks weren’t funny, they were demeaning, cruel and obviously hurtful for a young boy especially from his father.
        Thinking that Cheater was unaware of what he was doing, I’d talk to Cheater in private explaining that his “jokes” were hurtful to our son. He’d then laugh, and tell me he was joking,
        He’d then mockingly ask our son in front of me, “did anything I say hurt your feelings?” My son, not wanting to upset his father would say no…, then he’s say I was trying to make him look bad in front of his son and play the victim, just dear old dad being fun loving.., evil Mom trying to cause trouble,”picking on dad, she’s never happy..”
        I regret thinking this was “normal.”
        They look for chaos, twisting the truth and diversion from whatever it is their hiding.

        • Oh god! Same here. Mr. Magoo made our oldest son into the scapegoat (like many narcissists do). He wonders why all three of our children want nothing to do with him. Maybe because you are a selfish, entitled, angry jerk? Nah, must be because oldcrone poisoned them against him. They are truly all the same.

    • Oh the Mockery! It’s part of everything the truly twisted FeXtheCat did. Dupers delight-mockery. Gaslighting-mockery. Me: “I am still concerned you are too friendly with that girl you are texting” Him: “You’re too paranoid, she’s just a work friend” – and in a haughty mocking tone: “but she does have a nice ass… [pause, pause, to get full kibbles] just kidding!”
      Me: discovering a nugget from the past [ah ha I was Right! he did in fact lie!], Him: “Why can’t you just let the past go and move forward, I have. It’s not like You were perfect. I’ve changed. Do You have to keep rubbing The past in my face and ruin all our days together?! Why can’t You just be happy. I’m happy. You are just broken, a sad sack, Nobody is ever going to want you.” -and if I’d laugh at him he’d even mimic and mock my laugh. I am so glad he has his Sugar OW as his punching bag. NC NC NC

      • Not physical punching bag. While that sounded awful and Nobody deserves a Narc such as him, she worked hard to win her “prize” -always dangling cash and prizes for him because physically she is absolutely nothing compared to me (not that I think I am all that), and finally I kicked him out for good and with literally nowhere else to go, no job, no money, and his grand entitled ungrateful attitude, she won him. Now I am truly happy, doing self care and at peace.

  • “Chaos is a premeditated distraction that’s designed to keep us together.”

    The cheater even minimized it as a distraction when we know it’s all about power and control.

    Premeditated? Sounds like a psychopath. Bless his heart for weighing in.

    • Probably was. And, I wasn’t trying to minimize anything. I called cheating pure evil; that tactic was a distraction, or a theatric performance. It is absolutely shitbird behavior.

      But once you’re cheating, there’s no bridge that’s too far.

      • Oh, there’s more than one reason for it. It’s also a form of covert emotional abuse and we know cheaters get off on abusing their chumps. That’s a big part of why they cheat to begin with.

        • Yes, Chumoerella. it is covert. There’s a certain excitement the covert enjoys knowing you know while simultaneously abusing both the spouse and AP.

          Then there’s this tidbit. “Was on purpose on my end, nearly conscious.”

          Semi conscious?


          • True, except when the AP is slso a covert narc abuser and has the upper hand over the cheater through manipulation, he will not be able to abuse her. In my cheater’s case he wouldn’t have dreamed of being anything less than a slave to his precious AP. She was perfect in his eyes, despite being pathologically immature, a drunk and outrageously promiscuous. She was actually covertly abusing him by denying him sex but doing other guys, all the while giving him ugly little hints as to what she was up to. One of many examples; at last’s year’s work Xmas party, she was all over another guy right in front of him, even had him take photos of her hugging the guy. I saw the pics and she had a sneaky, I’m-playing-you expression on her face that said everything. She then got the guy to give her a drive home. I told him she blew the guy in the car, guaranteed. He’d never even considered it. Sometimes guys who are playing you end up getting played by the OW. The difference is that they don’t get hurt because they didn’t feel anything real for either of you.

  • Come to think if it, the Limited smother always write, “You deserve to be happy”, on his birthday card. Every.Singke.Year.

    • My mother-in-law used to ask idiot “are you happy, dear” right in front of me in her whinny condescending voice. Crazy old bitch. He’d just smile. Ugh!

      • #StillBreastFeeding #PutoMadre (motherfucker.) ????????????

        King kuntard put his head on mommy’s shoulder. In court. Front row. #IncestIsBest

        The mindfuck is real. The hustle is deep. Fucking Cracker.

        • @tarabelle
          #lol #hilarious #youmademelaughsnort #ftp #yotambien #viacondios #mividaloca #soylibre

      • My evil exMIL said to me “everytime I was with him, he told me he was unhappy”. Failed to mention that leading a double life may be the cause. Right now, she has two adult sons living with her (going through their own divorces), my ex will have to kiss Schmoopie’s behind, as there is “no more room at the inn”. They all deserve each other.

  • We had a good income but were constantly broke for 10 years. He got vacations and stuff he never used. When it was time for my share, there was nothing left. I waved him off on his summer holidays five years in a row and got 0 myself all that time. The heartless jerk thought that was fine. There was definitely a double life to maintain.

    • Similar but in my case it was my gullibility for pandering to her every whim & desire

      we moved house every 2 years ‘cos she’d get bored — the next location/country was always amazing and the current one the worst in the world — then very shortly after it’d change again
      how many trips did we finance 100% for her parents to come over from South America and visit over 20 years! I’d rather not add up the cost. Easily a 6-figure sum. Yet her 2 sisters (also living in N. America or Europe) never had any money to do the same. Funnily enough, now that the affair has come to light and divorce is being planned (by me) the 2 penniless sisters suddenly do have the money to bring over their mum (or take their families to visit there themselves). Yeah, I got chumped by an entire family

      • I found some frightening hereditary asshole-ness as well. His family has treated me like a queen before the divorce, then garbage, knowing he cheated on me and that he swindled me out of, what for it……….. at least a quarter of a million dollars. That’s only the $ I can figure. His brother has been married thrice or maybe four times now. Let his kids go on food stamps while he had an amazing salary. 3rd brother seems fine but totally clueless to the other 2’s lies. Funnily enough, he has a different dad, who doesn’t appear to be a narc.

        Nature, nurture, both? Regardless, it’s a creepy batch of people I’m glad have cut me off. It sickens me that my daughter is still sucked in though. Have to let that play out I guess. It’s just so hard.


        • *speechless* at not only that amount but your ex-in-laws’ attitude — ouch — but I reckon genetics does play a part as you mentioned

          with mine her older sister is also a cheater with 2 affairs (well 2 that she admitted to) and now divorced; though I noticed MiL came around to older sister’s side and they all now peddle a lie that her ex was the one who had a secret affair (as he remarried an old gf a few years later) — I’ve noticed that MiL is now back to friendly terms with STBxW so no doubt I’ll also be the evil ex H in the very near future

          as you wrote, creepy batch of people that we should be grateful to be rid of

    • X was never happy with what we had. In our first house (purchased when we were in our early twenties), he deposited an inheritance into our down payment for a bigger home when we really didn’t need it. Later, he would refinance and pull more equity out. Which made me uncomfortable even though he was making good money. He did this with both homes, just kept pulling equity out. We had a good life, kids were in sports which cost a lot, but I was very frugal. X had this “let’s do this” kind of attitude…entitlement, I now believe. Whenever he wanted a big ticket item, he would float the idea, then in spite of my reservations go ahead and do whatever he wanted. Often those items were things he used. He would vacation by himself, competing in his sport, while I held down the fort and stayed home with our children. He had friends who regularly complained about their wives, kids, and marriages. Looking back, all red flags.

      • @Drew
        I hear you! I’d always had a aversion to buying frivolous things but STBXH never said no to himself. However, he’d scoff in horror if the bag of Mandarin oranges I bought wasn’t on sale.

        It was hilarious finding out how much money he was blowing on other women. As I picked lint off my 5-year old black dress I made a comment about wanting to go shopping after D-Day and he told me his behavior was no excuse to start being irresponsible! hahaha

        • Hahahahahaha. Bahahahahaha. My behavior is no excuse to start being irresponsible. Oh man. Great belly laugh.

          • ::tips hat:: At your service.

            I’m fairly certain I did the same thing when I heard it. He was so serious when he said it – that made it even more funny
            = )

        • What an asshole! That sounds awfully familiar. My jerk insisted on saving money by limiting our cable package so I couldn’t get all the channels I wanted. Meanwhile, he wasted money on booze, the high tech gadgets he just had to have, trips with his friends, and taking his slut to concerts, restaurants and bars.
          I spent most of my time alone because he was either out drinking, whoring, watching sports, or just texting her and ignoring me, and I didn’t even have the channels I liked on TV to help pass the lonely hours. He also refused to get a second dog after one of our dogs died because we “couldn’t afford it” and it was “too much trouble”. The scumbag makes over $100k a year but can’t afford a dog? We’d already had two and he had never once said he found it troublesome. I believe he wanted to deprive me of that companion, knowing how lonely and unhappy I was, just to be mean.
          Cheaters are cruel, completely self-absorbed and don’t care about anything but their own pleasure.

          • Yes! Aside from the harem mine needed gadgets and booze too! Must be requirements to join the Skidmark Spouse Club.

            It’s funny now, how I’ve learned that it’s okay to spend money on myself without feeling guilty. The games they play, huh?

            I hope you have every damn channel you want, from the cable provider of your choice AND the dog.

            • Thank you. I have my channels now and will be looking for a rescue dog as soon as I am in my new house. Cheater jerk is paying for it but will not be on the deed. He’ll be in a dumpy studio apartment with no pets and nobody to come home to. Awww. ????
              Yeah, they love to play their cruel little games. I think that once they start cheating, they hate us because just being around us reminds them that they have failed at marriage and parenthood and are worthless assholes. Feelings of entitlement mean they don’t hold themselves accountable, so they then blame us for the shame they feel about being abject failures.
              Yours had a whole harem of skanks? Ye Gods. When and how did you find out, if you don’t mind my asking? Let me guess; he didn’t use condoms. Statistics show most of them don’t. My cheater gave me HPV, the cancer causing kind. My latest test showed I was able to fight off the HPV itself, but the pre-cancerous cervical lesions were already in place. I’ll always have to worry about cancer now. The scum don’t give any thought to what they could be exposing us to.

              • Chumperella, you are so spot on about the cruelty. Mine was never what you could call kind, but his actions during his last long-term (10+ years) were abusive, bordering on torture.
                And yep on the STDS. I had to have abdominal surgery, including removal of my cervix and uterus, due to the chronic PID which resulted from the many STDS he gave me over the years. My doctor and I determined that the beginning of my PID, based on my symptoms, was right after the birth of our middle child. Might be why it took six years to get pregnant with the last one. Okay, I get that he just didn’t give a shit about me, but to refuse to wear a condom with your whores while your wife is PREGNANT? Monster, as he has been called before.

              • @Chumperella
                Sorry for the late reply! ‘Harem’ actually makes it sound a lot more dignified than it really was. While I slept he would sneak out of the house and meet hookers he found online. I saw shady crap on his phone that he’d explain away. One day he was in the shower and I got curious so I checked his phone-same thing. I confronted him & he lied as he always did. The next day I rang him up at work and called him a liar. He said he only called, ‘just for the thrill of hearing their voices’. He probably thought I saw the call log and was gonna cop to the bare minimum…SIKE! In reality I had zero proof, only my gut and flashing neon signs.

                I called his bluff and he folded like a dirty rag. He stopped for about 2 months when we first met-but he saw them through our entire courtship, dating, engagement and marriage. He even admitted to creeping off while we were on vacation after he met some married skank at the casino!

                Mine swears up and down he wore condoms every time but I don’t believe that for half a second. I went for my follow-up blood work last week and my swabs were normal. This crap is insidious though, and I’m a paranoid type so I’ll be having a full exam next month just to cross all my T’s and dot those I’s.

                Having to continue going back and forth to the doctor to check/treat STDS as a married person/person in a committed LTR is rough-especially given that we’ve done nothing wrong. I am so sorry that you have to deal with all this. My thoughts are with you and I have full faith that your body is going to kick the arse of anything janky that rears it’s ugly head.

          • “Meanwhile, he wasted money on booze, the high tech gadgets he just had to have, trips with his friends, and taking his slut to concerts, restaurants and bars.”

            Every single thing, the exact same here. I begged him to get a studio apt and stop coming “home” at 1am, especially given that he was 100% clear that he was moving into slut’s the second her husband moved out. He couldn’t afford that or even hotels the 3 nights a month he came home. But he could spend, god I don’t know, I’m guessing 7k a month on all the aforementioned. Not a dime to alleviate my pain, but his life savings to amp up his and sparkletwat’s pleasure.

          • I’d have been tempted to bring a cat into the home since he complained about the idea of a dog.

      • My ex would always buy big ticket items whenever the mood struck and most of the time, my feelings were not brought into the discussion. He always told me “he preferred to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission.”

        mKay. right!

        • Ooooh, cheaterssuck – that “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” line was one the Python used.

          Should have been a red flag the first time I heard it!

          And he bought many big ticket items without discussing first with me. Even AFTER he agreed we’d discuss any expense over $100. Agreements? Vows? Bah. Meant nothing to him.

          • I abhor the phrase “better to ask forgiveness than permission” for so many reasons. 1) It’s NOT better and 2) asking for my agreement – not “permission” would have felt like he cared about my opinion, which is a hell of a lot better than reality, 3) he NEVER asked for forgiveness anyway!

            He just did whatever he wanted and if I got upset that he wouldn’t even apologize, he’d say he WOULD have apologized if I had given him the chance AND OR that he would have told me in advance about the latest shitty selfish deceitful act, BUT he knew I’d be upset…

            See the logic there?? (Me neither).

            Wow, it’s moments like this that I am very torn. I’m torn between authentic relief that Dr. Narkles is out of my life – and feelings of shame at what I tolerated in the name of saving the family/ marriage.


      • This describes my life too
        I was constantly looking for bargains how we could make do
        Try to do house repairs myself (badly) and he would have the nerve to criticise not offer to help !! And yes the drawing down on the house was chronic until there was nothing left
        Big holidays to impress the family self publishing a vanity book that made nothing
        A whole host of stupid accessories for his dam bike and wining and dining business colleagues
        What a bastard
        Now 3 Christmas s later he pleads poverty or meanly denies basic support to his kids citing how hard he has to work
        Boo hoo

    • Oh Mmarg, I completely understand the good income-constantly broke-he gets everything he wants dynamic. And heaven forbid you might point out that you aren’t getting your fair share. He says that if he gets anything, I expect to get something for myself in an equal amount. Not so, as evidenced by his $600 suits and my jeans from Old Navy. But I would like something, at some point. From this I have learned that if someone is bitching about my concern that I’m not getting my due, it’s because they’re the one stealing it from me.

  • I agree that chaos is a meta state.

    Also blaming/responsibility avoiding – nothing is ever the Cheater’s fault.

    The thing I like (?) about the charm-self pity-rage cycle is that’s so very reliable and predictable. These are qualities that most Cheaters don’t demonstrate anywhere else.

    I had an encounter with my Sinister Minister’s discarded mistress the other day. Brought back a lot of unhappy memories about Fr Sparkles McCheater’s utter refusal to accept any blame for his very public failings.

    Got a lot to pray about this Christmas – lady friend has a husband on a revolting child porn charge. He got a suspended sentence, and she’s standing by her man. For how long, I don’t know – when you’re used to pain, it gets awful comfortable.

  • An eyeopener! 10+ years post divorce and this is X exhausting me to the point of burn-out. And then hitching up with his twu-luf. Among other ‘i want to buy a boat an sail the world! Where did your adventure spirit go? ‘ uh… we have two school-going kids and this would ruin their education? Very happy when he and shmoopie decided to sail a boat on the other side of the world, because it really showed to me that it was his OWN derangedness.

  • FucktardX had a lot of drama in his life but it was never about me until he met his fuckbuddy. Then there were a few years where his behavior was off the charts and that whole devalue thing reared it’s ugly head (chapter in the Cheater Playbook for sure). The number one thing with X was that he had to be recognized. He volunteered in many of our children’s activities but one friend shared that “it was never about the kids….” This shortly before Dday. At work, in which he was fairly successful, it was never enough that he made a good wage and was able to dictate his own hours. His superiors “hated him,” he was “too sensitive,” the macho guys promoted then excluded him, he was always overlooked for a promotion, etc. In his sport, he complained that he never had enough time to practice to be competitive at a certain level (yes, the wife and babes were holding him back, for twenty eight years ????), all this while spending a great deal of time “working out.” After awhile, anything I said was met with criticism, like I didn’t know what I was talking about. Sometimes it was the smallest thing to argue about but he always had to be right (or better), even when he wasn’t. He was very competitive, with me and the kids. Whereas I simply didn’t see these as healthy, and would sometimes call him out on it. X was always “off” on special occasions, either physically or mentally absent, or very often not participating. When he did, he complained then would participate begrudgingly. Like he was doing us a favor. He could never fully appreciate what he had. His best friend, who lived many states away, used to call and because X was never home, he would let me know how good X had it. It was our running joke. I wasn’t a controlling wife because I trusted him. Turns out he wasn’t so trustworthy.

    • Damn, that’s a whole catalogue of classic narc behavior. The guy sounds like an overt, grandiose narcissist. They always have to be right. Even when you present them with absolute proof they are wrong, they will never admit it. Often it’s about stupid, meaningless things. Also, the non-participation in family activities or acting like we should be grateful for their grudging participation is familar to me. Mine (a covert narc) would do this on vacations. We would rent a vacation property in the summer and he’d spend most of the time indoors, watching TV or reading, pretty much ignoring the family. After he started the affair it got worse and he would mope and be petulant, which I was confused by. It turned out that was because there was no cell service to text his bitch, he couldn’t stand being cooped up with the family he’d devalued and he had no ability to go out drinking and whoring.

      • Totally!! The whole extended family rented a massive castle in Spain one year and what did fuckface do ? Rented a BIKE and took off every day god knows where
        Still clueless until at the end I realised hewas too cowardly and ashamed to spend quality time with hthe family he was planning to dump soon after

        • A castle in Spain? Whoa! Next time you go, invite me instead of that chickenhearted prick. I’ll show the proper respect and appreciation. 😉

  • Oh totally have to agree with Chaos-as-a-distraction and the more I’m further down the road from D-Day to Meh the more I can look back and see the obvious red-flag signs I completely ignored.

    So for me D-Day was Aug 2017. She got us into couples therapy so that was a distraction for a bit. Then we just had to move house so that took care of a lot of my time for several months. All while the long-distance affair kept going. When I finally had had enough and insisted on NC for the summer vacation months, I got the self-pity bit but held firm. She then started divorce-via-mediation in September, which now I realise was another distraction as, after starting the process, she’s now delaying it (I’m seeing 2 lawyers tomorrow to push this through myself in 2019).

    Even before D-Day (affair started Jan 2017) she used chaos-as-a-distraction. As her dad had recently died, she wanted to bring over her mum to live with us, so that wasted lots of time (& money of course) investigating immigration, etc. We did actually bring her mum over (just before D-Day) but then she decided that it wouldn’t work out. So again, another distraction!

  • My ex would randomly get hurt somehow needing me to care for him and work while picking up the lion share at home. One time he even tried taking on a flat bed 10 tonne truck in a merg line while riding a push bike to work. It always happened on work time so he could claim some form of compensation. Over the years an injury to his ankle, elbow oh and the weirdest one being hit in the head with a skateboard while using a public toilet. ????

    • Thankful,
      “Hit in the head with a skateboard while using a public toilet”
      THIS, will do it every time!

      You have started the Monday Chuckle.

        • I’m howling over “getting hit in the head with a skateboard while using a public toilet!” It’s no problem to picture my XH as the poor victim. This would make a great CL cartoon!

        • But, but, he’s a transgender person that just happens to not be transitioning. “Don’t discriminate against me. I’ll have to turn on the self pity channel”

    • The second day now I’m trying to understand, how this could have happened, please please explain/elaborate and end this torture. Maybe you guessed, I have some obsessions, today it’s the infamous skateboard incident.

  • x constantly used chaos as a distraction technique. Especially after dday. He stirred up so much shit between the kids, caused so much fake drama about random things, that by the time we got divorced his affair was practically forgotten. Very effective tool for him. It was specifically designed to try and distract me from seeing how he was hiding assets.

  • Oh yes, indeed. Asshat is the King of the Chaos/Self-Pity Channel. He really ramped it up recently, quit 3 jobs in 4 years, 2 of them with no new job lined up, because he was so misunderstood-underappreciated-put upon, etc. Yet I was the one continuously accused of not working hard enough over the years.

    • This. Kaa would pack in jobs roughly every two years. the people he worked with who had started off being the most fantastic ever ( Love bombing like obsessions) would apparently turn on him and he would have to move on. this happened 9 times in twenty one years before the divorce, twice when I was pregnant.
      If I was a betting woman I would put money on him packing in his current job just as soon as he has got OW down the aisle.

      • flowergirl,
        Wanting to give you a big hug filled with understanding,
        My cheater changed jobs eight times over many years.
        Each time was so very difficult for our little children and myself.
        I remember sitting with one on either side of me on the couch, hugging them, telling them, it would be ok, holding back tears myself.
        ( and cheater was usually away on a conference).
        I had to get the kids settle into a new school and find a new job for me. In a hospital setting that was never difficult to do, but emotionally, it was draining.

        “Nine times in 21 years”
        I am so glad he is moving on, on his own life now.
        YOU and your precious Children are Mighty

          • Two years is the time when others realise that a charming person is but a bluffer. I once had a bullying boss (narc) who changed workplaces – every two years. Another sign, they never stay in contact with any of their former colleagues.

            • Exactly! The chaos machine went into operation every 2 years of our 25year relationship
              It was like just when I was settled and relaxed… offf we go again. And I could never fully understand where it was all coming from since he would constantly proclaim ‘all I want is a quiet life’ who knew ?!?

            • Yes this! 2 year chaos cycles. lucky me, I got discarded after 4years married (6 total) with 2 kids under 2. Then much later I got in with another narc, and another 2 year love-bomb to abuse cycle. I finally woke up, left the madness, and never looked back.

              So sad I’m watching two dear friends (living many states away) in the earler stages of the nightmare of being with a narc. they’re spackling so hard, trying to fix the unfixable. I pray for them and hope to get a chance to talk or support or point them to resources.

          • Lucky,
            It is like a whole new can of worms isn’t it?!?
            Nothing was ever good enough, not enough this or not enough that!
            The grass was always greener on the other side of the fence, until it wasn’t.
            I often wondered why he had to be like that. I always loved where we lived, the job I had, especially the friends the children and I had. It broke my heart every single time we uprooted.
            Only years later, thanks to CL, CN, I realize it has to be a narc thing, the nothing is ever good enough, blah blah blah attitude.
            Always learning, we Chumps, always learning.
            ( so late, sigh, so late)

          • 18 jobs in 9 years . 6 of those in the last 18 months . I’ve gone NC but he lost his job again 6 weeks after leaving. I can only imagine there has been another job or 2 in the 6 months hes been gone

          • My cheater Ex had 8 jobs in 20 years and also had stopped working (his unilateral decision) at one point to pursue a Masters in Education. But during student teaching shortly before he was to graduate, he decided teaching wasn’t for him as he’d have to deal with parents. (…duh!!…) He’d also been laid off and unemployed for 8 months a couple years ago. So when he got laid off again after our divorce mediation, I could only grin. Craigslist schmoopie, now his wife, gets to live this drama now!

        • 6 jobs in 10 years. I guess 7 if you count the job he has now that he moved to be with his ho-worker. It is indeed a thing.

      • OMG – this is a “thing” with them! I just added it up! 9 jobs in 16 years of marriage – and he used to make me feel like a freak for being at my job for over a decade! It’s crazy what and how they normalize madness!! I remember being absolutely MISERABLE working for what I know now is a narc, and getting an offer from another company that was $5K less than what I was making working for the narc. I thought losing $5K was more than worth having peace of mind (this boss was BRUTAL!), but STBX lost his mind and raged out of control. Little did I know that he’d already quit his job, so I had to keep earning what I earned so “we” wouldn’t lose anymore income. Almost five years and not one, but TWO depleted 401Ks later, I’m in financial ruin, but so happy to be rid of his ass…sigh!

        Just when I thought these cretins couldn’t be more similar…there really is a playbook, isn’t there?!?

      • My STBX is the same way. Starts a new job and everyone is wonderful, the job is wonderful. Then over time everyone was an asshat but him and he was the victim. Taken advantage of, lied to etc. Unless it was a good looking female co-worker that liked him then they were ok. He would flirt with any female co-worker that would flirt back and form unnatural attachments to them thinking I didn’t know. But a male owner questioning him on work related issues? Hell no!!
        Right now he’s playing the victim that he’s going to need hernia surgery, plans on quitting his job just before Christmas because he’s tired of the company BS, going through “stuff” and trying to fix himself. Spends so much money on psychologists, acupuncture, chiropractor, massage, tanning, etc to get better because he thinks this last DD has opened him up to everything that he’s done wrong in his life. He had an epiphany that his serial cheating all stems from his childhood and how he was taught to sweep everything under the carpet and not deal. Feel sorry for me, it was my lack of love from my parents that caused me to dip my wick in any skanky prostitute that would let me pay her to love me. If I have any emotion that is negative because God forbid I have a hard time dealing with this he gets his nose out of joint. Questions why I’m crying or why am I mad?? I’m not the one that’s broken. This is about him. He’s trying!!!!
        He loves drama and playing the pity card. It’s ridiculous. He won’t move out and makes sure I know what HE’S going through.

      • Yup, mine fits the pattern too. Six jobs in nine years with many month-long stints of unemployment in between where he’d work on his “consulting” job (whatever that means).

      • Oh, Flowergirl- I just love your name for your Ex! Kaa is certainly the epitome of evil, nice choice!

    • Yes, new jobs. It’s always someone else. 11 jobs in 15 years and *I* found him and got him all but 2, which didn’t end up being real jobs but schemes that illegally used “contractors” who are actually working as employees. My advice to not pursue those because of multiple red flags at every stage was being down on him, being controlling, treating him like an idiot, etc. He’d buy all kinds of shit (equipment, classes, licensing) he needed to start and then find it was all bullshit. He even spent 6 weeks taking an insurance-licensing course and exam (for which he needed herculean encouragement from me), THEN decided it wasn’t for him. Yuh- I know. Four rounds of unemployment that he finished out the terms of every.single.time and professed to be “scared” that he couldn’t provide and was worthless… but then DID nothing to alleviate that. Thus, why *I* had to write his resumes and cover letters, take personality tests (he ALWAYS failed because he “a bad test taker” HA!), find him jobs, build him up for interviews, and manufacture pride for the smallest thing he did at work. And when his sales were poor? I’d take on an outside sales role (my profession) and strategically market his product for him… just funneling sales to his cell phone and inbox. Calling huge businesses and setting up contracts of recurring sales FOR him while he was at work (he was scared of outside sales) and the kids were at school. He’d get awards for his sales and when we were in a fight, throw out that he’s not SO worthless: “Look at my numbers!” Um, are you delusional?! MY numbers, remember? You’re going to claim MY work for OUR family as a pillar of your value? HA! I may have been a SAHM but I worked VERY hard and employed myself well.

      He took more effort than all three toddlers, put together.

      • And yes, I ABSOLUTELY put that experience on my resume when I was looking for an outside sales job without any recent employment history. It got me interviews and explaining the whole thing (respectfully because no one likes a basher) really sold them on my ability to walk into any situation and work a sale out of it. I worked even when I didn’t have a direct employer, technically.

      • X needed “help”–lots and lots of it–on the ethics test required for his current gig. Hah. I got tapped for that. The OW, turns out, took all the online tests required for keeping his professional certifications up to date.

        • Oh gosh, me, too!

          3 jobs in the first five years of our marriage, when things were “good.” Then 5 jobs in the four subsequent years after the first D-day, three of which he was fired from within a few months. But did that send me packing? No, because I am a first class chump, from a family of tenderhearted chumps with good intentions, who ALL RALLIED TO HELP HIM START OVER IN A NEW CAREER, all while we paid his huge student loans from undergrad that had prepared him for the previous career.

          I think the chaos thing is very real–I yearned for years for a few months of nothing “going wrong.” I am sure I enjoyed problem solving all this crap, because of course, problems are fun to solve (in the abstract!), but what an exhausting run.

          I remember this time last year crying to my mother: “I just want to step outside the circle of crazy! It’s ok to step outside the circle of crazy!”

        • I “failed” one test, for him, ever. For the scheming-insurance gig. They weren’t looking for – and I QUOTE – “someone with such a rigid concept of honesty.”

          I’m in SALES; I knew what they wanted before I took the test. I answered their questions like I was an evasive, used-car salesman, specifically to fit the mold. That I (::ahem:: HE) would not lie outright? “Rigid honesty.” These people… yuh, sorry I won’t lie to customers for you, but especially not without even the protection of employment/shared culpability. Not even HE would have done that. He’d have lied, all right… but not without taking shared blame.

      • God…I thought I was the only one chummy enough to get the resume together, apply for the positions, AND get impressive interview plans together (like a 30/60/90 day plan for onboarding and success) – what we won’t do to sparkle and hold it all together. Sigh!

        • Right?

          I found Cheater his IDEAL job. Gaming sales. I even looked through their employee directory and found that a childhood friend’s brother was a VP. It was one of THOSE jobs… the kind that pay 6-figures to start, have lunch catered every day, offer FULLY-PAID benefits, and unlimited PTO. I messaged him and he was excited. He put Cheater’s resume and cover letter to the top of the pile. He said it could take up to a month to get back since that’s just their process and they have a lot going on… to email nicely, asking for an update, no more than every two weeks, and to not expect an answer before a month out. I relayed this to Cheater…

          Who called after 2 days of submission. Who then emailed every morning, requesting a response. Who, after 3 days of this (within the first week), emailed the HR person back and told her that the company was run unprofessionally and he wasn’t sure he could work for such a shoddily-run business. And I didn’t find out any of this until a month later, when he said he’d heard back and they didn’t want him. “So much for your connections.”

          I called my friend’s brother to apologize and told him to shred it. He said they already had and forwarded me Cheater’s email thread. WTF?!!

          To say we had a fight over this is putting it mildly. He sabotaged his own success – at something he really would have been happy doing – just to stick it to me.

          • Employment! 6-7 jobs in the last 10 years…I can’t even count the number since we have been together! I knew when he was getting ready to quit because things at work were “not fair”.

          • They don’t want to work. That’s adulting, and adulting is for YOU to do while they play.

          • Wow Insistonhonesty!!! Just WOW!!!!

            They HATE you having something they don’t. In this case a solid connection to a DREAM job.
            It was really only to bring you down.

            What a fucking king douchebag!!!!!

        • I had the opposite problem. After I told ex we couldn’t move to the state he wanted to live in until one of us had a job there I came home from work the next day to him waving a job description under my nose. I will admit it was a good fit for me so I said I would apply. He told me he had already filled out the application online and all I had to do was sign it. Then he wanted to rewrite my resume for me. Honestly, I was offended that he thought I was too incompetent to do all of that for myself. I told him I could update my own resume thanks although I might let him review it when I was done. When I went for the interview he tried to tell me what to wear and how to act. If he had his way he would have put a microphone in my ear to tell me what to say. Seriously, I have managed to get myself hired many times before without his help. When I did get the job, he probably thought it was all thanks to his hard work so why was I getting all of the congratulations? It couldn’t possibly be my experience and good references that got me the job. Looking back it was all just part of the devalue. “I really want you to get this job but I don’t trust you to do it right because you are so grossly incompetent so I need to control the whole thing”. I will give him credit for finding the posting in the first place, but that’s it.

    • My cheating ex also had so many jobs over the years, I can’t even remember them all now. He once failed the personality test required to work at a big bank, I assume because his diagnosed narcissism skewed so heavily. He also once refused to leave a company’s HR department until the hiring manager gave him an answer….. guess what the answer turned out to be. He would repeatedly hound and email anyone he interviewed with, lost a lot of opportunities that way.

    • Yes douchebitch is at 4 jobs in 7 years. Going to make her pay for destroying the family. Making sure the kids will be taken care of. Married 18 years with 4 kids. She makes over 100k with current job. Child support & maintenance for fucking up shit

  • Watch out for this! I know someone whose husband did this! He did it with debt. He kept them in debt so she wouldn’t leave him. They need to buy all new furniture, then they needed to but this or do that. That is exactly what he did for years was keep them in debt. Guess what. Then he left her when he was ready. 17 years of marriage and she got nothing.

    • I’m convinced now mine uses this tactic.
      He keeps me with car payments so he can bash me that I never have money, that I can’t contribute to our lifestyle and implies that he always has to fill in more that his share because I’m such a loser. ( I make 1/2 what he makes and he’s self-employed and barely pays taxes so more like 60/40.) We share household expenses down the middle though. He always throws in my face that I don’t contribute to repairs on our old house. (We agreed that since I didn’t have the money he had upfront I’d buy materials on credit. In his mind, that doesn’t count, though. He did ALL the repairs with NO help from me, which is an abject LIE.) I also bought ALL the furnishings in our house except for our mattress, the 2 TVs, some towels and maybe some pans. EVERYTHING and I literally mean EVERYTHING else I bought on my “pathetic” salary.

      A couple of years ago, he got it his head that I needed a bigger car because his young adult daughter needed a car and mine was just the one he wanted to give to her. I had a paid for Nissan Versa that ran great. I wanted a bigger car but I didn’t need a bigger car and I told him so many times. He kept badgering me about buying my car from me so I could put a down payment on a bigger car and he could gift my Versa to his precious daughter (that lived 350 miles from us at the time.) I kept saying that he could buy any other small used car for his daughter and to stop badgering me about it but like most things, I ended up caving to keep the peace.
      He put about $1,000. 00 upgrades into it after I “sold” it to him. Tinted windows, paint job, new tires and detailed inside. Nothing he ever did when the car was mine. He complained to me all the fucking time about me needing to get these things done on my car but I didn’t see the necessity when we had house repairs to do. See what I mean……..
      His daughter totaled the car not 6 months later.
      I was devastated……I’m still paying for the bigger used car with high interest because I didn’t have the money upfront to pay for it outright and couldn’t afford a new SUV car payment…..FUCKING ASSHOLE.

  • Men! Watch out for the same thing! This happened to a guy I know. He and wife had 3 little kids. She said let move (several states away and hundreds of miles) so we can get a good therapist and work on our problems. We all live in a major city. There are plenty here. He fell for it and agreed to move from all his family and support system. You guessed it. There was no marriage counseling! As soon as they got up there and got settled she filed for divorce. That was the plan to get him away from his family and support. They had 3 young kids so he had to stay so he could see them ,be involved in their lives. He had to live in a small apartment because his child support was almost 2 thousand a month. So men also be aware.

    • It’s certainly a tactic employed by both sexes. For whatever reason, there are more horrible ex-husbands profiled on this site than horrible ex-wives, but that doesn’t mean that women never pull this kind of crap. In my age, income, and educational bracket the divorce rates are in the low single digits – but in my actual life 100% of my wife was cheating on me. We moved 1000 miles from my family and friends and XW bailed on the marriage a few weeks after I arrived.

      The moderators (and ChumpLady herself) are very good about not generalizing from “there are more hard-done-by women than men on this site” to “all men are pigs”. It really is about the character of the cheater, not the gender.

      • Absolutely. After all, even the single women these men are cheating with have shown they lack a moral compass. If you’ll enable somebody else to cheat, you certainly won’t have a problem cheating yourself. My stbx’s mistress was married for a long time and had two kids. She was a serial cheater. I told her husband, being sure to alert him to evidence of other guys she’d being doing, including his best friend. I hear she’s not been looking so happy lately. ????

      • I have no problem seeing the kind of woman who cheats as being a chaos producer as well. Really the cheating is just one of many ways in which they sow chaos because they are too focused on themselves to know or care about the destruction that follows them wherever they go. It’s all just part of “I want to feel better now no matter the cost”.

  • Douchebag McGee said he thought he had cancer a year after we split….. two years later in court documents he still said he might have cancer. Two years is long enough to find that out. Trust that they lie. Life is better on the other side of the mind fuck.

  • After I found out about my ex affair with Skankella. We agreed to try to make our marriage work. Every time I wanted to talk about the affair. He would say. It is the weekend I don’t want to talk about it. When I would bring it up during the week. His response was my job is stressful and discussing it makes me not focus on my job. I don’t want to lose my job. Even before I found out the affair. He blamed me for him losing his keys etc. After 1.5 years of gaslighting me post affair and finding out he was texting other women. I showed him the door.

    • Hmm. now that you mention it perhaps that was what ex was doing on DDay when I confronted him and told him that Schmooie’s husband had told me about the affair. He seemed really concerned that he would lose his job over it because Schmoopie’s husband was one of his flight students. It sort of worked as a distraction as I was hoping to reconcile and wanted him to keep his job. Now it is just one more thing to add to the list of what makes him a flaming idiot. Fucking a client’s wife. Great idea. Not! It almost kind of bothers me now that he didn’t lose his job over it. He had his employer convinced that he was more important that the paying customers.

    • I was the one who was always blaming Ex for losing my items. It stemmed from when he threw a whole pile of papers away before our wedding. In that pile was my birth certificate, which I needed to get our marriage license. Actually I needed the whole pile of papers. But it was my fault for leaving the pile on the table.

      So, I learned to manage where I put things, which often meant that I hid them so well, I couldn’t even find them! But also, things always seemed to disappear in the house. Kitchen utensils were never in the right place (something my 8 year old has no problem doing). And pencils! I had a cup on the counter to keep pencils for homework that somehow never had pencils in it. I was always losing important papers and my keys and various other items. Stuff broke a lot in the house too. I was constantly popping the closet door off the track and the screen door off the track.

      Guess what? After he left, I have no problem finding pencils for homework, even without a cup holder. The closet door and screen door haven’t popped off the track in over a year. I found items that I had been missing for years because he put them in a box and put them behind the shed outside, ruining most of the stuff. And I haven’t lost an important paper in over a year. He had me convinced that I was a rotten person for even the hint of insinuation that he moved any of my stuff. Turns out he WAS moving my stuff and so much more. No wonder I was so crabby. I was in constant chaos for YEARS.

      • This.

        He is now gone for a month and it feels like the chaos has lifted. Things are in place. Nothing is missing anymore.
        The best part… everything is a lot cleaner, too.
        It is bliss.

      • For years, I was gobsmacked over This One Thing. Cheater and I had gone to get our marriage license. Then, we grabbed subs from my favorite deli, went to a park to have them, take a walk, and headed home.

        Shortly afterward, I got a call from a former boyfriend’s parents. ??!! They’d seen a packet of papers on a busy road, stopped to gather them, and saw my name. It was ALL of our important paperwork, which Cheater had put on top of the car like a cup of coffee, then gotten into the passenger side. Our IDs, birth certificates, my passport, our SS cards, and our marriage license. HE’D LEFT IT ALL IN THE MANILA FOLDER I’D GIVEN HIM, ON TOP OF THE %$^&ING CAR. They dropped it off, glad they could help. I gushed over them. Cheater said that someone was bound to find it but thank goodness, they knew who I was!

        I saw it as a sign that we were meant to be, like a godd@mn idiot. He was a pASSenger. I gave it to him because he had nothing else to hold and I’d had to rummage for my keys. And he set it on the car, probably HOPING it would all be lost.

      • Yes, this is part of the chaos tactic. Saddam would regularly sabotage large appliances, so that they’d fail while he was “on a business trip”. Almost like on CSI, where the criminal cuts the break lines on a car. But he’d do something to washer/dryer, the furnace, the dishwasher, etc, so it’d break while he was gone and I’d race around like a crazy person coordinating repairmen.

        The other thing Saddam would do is throw my expensive flatware in the garbage. I’d gradually realize “why are there only 2 spoons left?”, so by the end of my marriage, I’d be constantly counting flatware and hunting through garbage bags. He blamed it on my kids. When he left, my kids were 6 and 2, and I NEVER had a missing piece of silverware. Even toddlers are more responsible than Cheaters!!!

  • Chaos. I never thought about it like that, altho it, in hindsight, is clearly what it was.

    XH always had some terrible problem that required total focus on him. Sicknesses that I finally saw as fake. He pretended to have dementia (in 70’s) for over a year during the last bad years of our marriage. Then, poof, after DDay, it was gone. Blood in urine. Etc etc. If ignored, he would call someone to take him to the hospital…chaos.

    His “guilt” about his kids from his first marriage. He ignored them until he needed a distraction, then he would be overcome with “guilt”, huge waves of fake guilt. Many years of our marriage was controlled and tainted with his “guilt”. This borderline, sociopath, narc could not feel guilt if it bit him….chaos.

    He would act like an ass at his Very Important job, then spend months being furious about the fallout.

    If I was sick, scared, tired, upset, he scoffed and said I was over reacting. Eye rolls…

    It was chaos and part and parcel of it all being about him, and keeping me focused away from what was really going on.

    Thanks for this insight!!


    Shortly after D-Day I was in the living room discussing my plans to move out. He was in the dining room which faces both the living room and the kitchen. I couldn’t see into the kitchen from my position.

    He got real quiet, held up his hand and told me he had just seen a mouse scurry across the kitchen (mind you, the biggest pests we had were those tiny spiders and the occasional water bug). I froze. He told me to wait for him to run to Home Depot and grab some traps. I sat there for about 20 minutes before I realized his scheme. The only rat in that damn house was him!

    After calling him out he said he may have seen some ‘negative energy’ float by rather than a mouse! HAHAHAHA these people are rich.

    Whether it’s “cancer”, a “dying relative” or Stuart Little these bungholes know exactly what they’re doing. The mouse only worked for so long, so a few days later he flew into ‘going to kill myself’ mode which resulted in my calling 911- the ultimate pity/chaos combo.

    So little dignity. But I tell ya, it helped make leaving easier.

  • Proverbs 13:20
    “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

    In other words, why I have to divorce….and good luck to him and his next victim. I can’t afford to be the companion of a fool. He is currently a 54 year old man, living in the loft area of one of the buildings of our business like Greg Brady in the attic pad, despite plenty of cash available to buy a house.

    He was right…they ARE “sole mates”! Two fools belong together. Let the chaos begin…WITHOUT me in the Bermuda Triangle. In the meantime, I am falling asleep peacefully once again thanks to my Calm app.

    • You had me laughing at the Greg Brady line! Love that!

      I admittedly don’t know much scripture but it makes sense: you lie with dogs you get fleas. Fleas – not all that nonsense about a “stronger marriage”. How!?

      I loved the hell out of that man and doted on him like he was the crown prince of England. But… No man. I don’t love anybody enough to dedicate the rest of my life to someone with that kind of character. It was hard to admit that, but loving someone doesn’t mean you throw your needs and safety out the window.

      • I told my cheater that God has forbidden me to speak to fools. Don’t care how it makes me sound but it put him off me long enough.

  • Chaos:

    Soon after D Day our beloved family cat (adopted/feral) went missing. Normally, this would have been a code red emergency for me, but my life had been blown up so completely, I couldn’t give the missing cat the attention he would normally have received.

    18 months later, kitty showed up at a shelter in the next town over (like a 40 minute drive). The same town where my abusive ex-husband was occasionally camping out with his mother in between fights with the OW. My ex husband’s home town.

    Looking back on it, rather than talk about moving to with our divorce, the ex was trying everything possible to redirect me. I now completely believe he took the cat and dumped him in the next town to create a chaotic distraction from his affair.

    • Oh yes. The Wackjob took one of our cats( the one that was “his”), allowing our daughter and me to think he had been killed by coyotes.. asshole…

      • That sends a chill down my spine. I can’t even….

        These ‘people’ aren’t human.

        • Its when you look back at events the mist clears
          In the chaos of exloony tunes walking out on us ALL 5 of our pet rabbits mysteriously died exactly the same time ( had them for 7 years no problems) it was like Armageddon. I didn’t know what my name was at that point
          But of course he was cool as a cucumber
          If I hadn’t seen this chaos drama as a theme I would have brushed it off as a dreadful coincidence
          Just happened that his moving out also included insisting we sold the house (huge over financed mortgage) so me and the kids would have to rent somewhere
          Just as well we weren’t looking for somewhere that included accommodation for 5 free roaming rabbits ….. how sick
          The 4 of us ended up in a tiny appartment
          He was certainly getting his ducks in a row

  • YES.

    He did this in situations large and small…manufacture chaos to keep me off balance and always fixing and distracted. He used to go into rage fits on our way to work events likely to throw off my scent when we got there so that I woudnt notice coworkers who paid too much attention to him.

    He endlessly complained that we didnt take enough trips as a family (I worked nights as a nurse – mostly on weekends – to pay for the stuff he couldnt live without so free weekends were rare) so once I planned a weekend which was really hard at that stage to extricate me and each kid from commitments. We had football tickets in Colorado Springs and a hotel. The kids were ready, bags packed and we were in the minivan ready to leave and he comes home from work DETERMINED to pick a fight and cancel the trip. I was so numb to it, I refused to fight and told him that we were going and didnt care what he did. He proceeded to have some bizarre meltdown fitting a 4 yr old.

    I used to say that as soon as we had our finances arranged in really good stead, he pursued some idea to throw it all off-balance again. “Lets buy a vacation home”… what? we can barely maintain our living-in home.

    The mockery…yes. He loved to mock me in front of the kids or his family in a way he knew I wouldnt fight over (or if I did, he could make me look foolish). After he told me of his intent to divorce me, he told his father (in front of me) that “we would move to ___ but Uni refuses to go”. there was SO MUCH fuckedupness in all this.

    Looking back one of the smallest chaos-producing lies he told me reveals so much about his need to control with chaos. We were moving and I was (as any good military spouse would be) responsible for EVERYTHING and in arranging hundreds of details, one day he says “Oh they dont have mail delivery there” with no explanation for how people in that neighborhood got their mail. If I had called him on it, he would have manufactured an excuse or said he was kidding, but really, it was his manufactured chaos. He probably had some woman on a string and needed time to do whatever it was he did.

  • This is the TRUTH!

    I used to think our front door was a revolving door because we always had someone from “his side” of the family coming to live with us during the 10 years we lived together. His brother (2x); his stepdaughter from his first marriage (2x); my stepson; my stepdaughter – these with no financial support from their mother. I often told him that I was drowning… he simply shrugged.

    We’d do stupid things like look at motorhome parks at the beach; explore putting in a pool; buying cars for his brother and the kids (only to resell them when they missed payments)… and my death knoll, of which I am certain, is that I refused to sign a $25K student loan for my stepson. I truly believe that is when Mr. Sparkles decided that I was no longer of use to him.

    The irony is that now that it is just me and my son, I HAVE MONEY. I have time back to read and travel and spend with friends. I have a 401K and a 529. I sleep the night through. OH – and the best part… I literally bought a new front door – with double locks.

    It was scary to file first and risk the unknown… but four years out, I can safely say that his discard was the best thing that he ever did for our marriage.

    • Weirdly, I am finding I have more money, too. I can’t figure out if its because I changed my spending habits, or if he was hiding money, or if he just “cost” more to feed and house than he brought in.

      Thing was, he was always claiming to never spend any money at all, and I spent everything. Well, yes, when “spending everything” means paying the bills and mortgage on time!


      • Strange here too. My money is mine now and I actually can pay all bills and have money left over!!!

    • My cheater XH was always lusting after something we couldn’t afford. He wanted a Harley so he bought himself some leather vests and doo-rags. I refused to go into debt for one and it wasn’t long after that he met schmoopie and she bought him one. That was the first time I really put my foot down and told him ‘no.’ At that point I was no longer of use to him.

  • You can tell by what awful lies, what their character is really like my ex, chaos, pretended to commit suicide, his ow dad was in prison for child abuse, that was a lie, etc.
    He could buy his “friends” or fuckwits, drugs and alcohol. But buy his, kids birthday or Xmas presents, or week trips with the school. Didn’t have money for that.

  • “I’ll show that ChumpLady my brilliance and dazzle those chumps with what would be an amazing dissertation. (I should have been a professor or lawyer but eh, my family needed me.) My mind is an untapped resource and I have KNOWLEDGE to impart!”

    Dude. You’ve just changed the name from The Mindfuck to Chaos… no wait, you couldn’t even figure out that they’re the same thing; you thought it was a previously unheard-of channel. (It’s hard to be objective when the idea of your under-appreciated intellect is so shiny! Poor guy.) Chumps NEVER notice when their cheaters are stirring up shit. Not even in hindsight.

    So much mansplaining. So little time.



    • This… Cause cheaters aren’t all bad… Sometimes they help chumpy chumps out. Whatever!
      Still always good to hear what bounces around in their heads… As you were cheater!

    • I’m with you, Insist. The whole “you missed a spot” is such a classic move. Instead of deconstructing the schematic, how about “know better-do better”? CL and CN have met our collective quota on mansplaining. The idea is that when we realize and learn something, then we APPLY it and change our life. Make amends. Grow as humans. Oh wait, that takes work, hard work in fact. Doing (not blabbing) is so—- Chumpy. But cool story, Bro!

  • Well, THANK YOU, Mrs. Chump Lady!

    Yes, indeed…..there comes a day of exhaustion that you realize:

    “I am sick and tired of cleaning up your stupid shit! Life throws enough curve balls….why are you constantly creating more shit for me to clean up??!!! I refuse to be your chaos janitor anymore!!!”

    • I once had to clean up a hot check that was written to the IRS.

      She had withdrawn the money out of that account because her unemployed, 35 yr. old brother “had” to go see the Texas Rangers play in a World Series game.

      • ????‍♀️????‍♀️????‍♀️????‍♀️
        To be the “hero”? What an ass!!!

  • We moved house 18 times in 23 years and I am sure it was so I was never anywhere long enough to make local friends because I might then feel I had some local support and not feel so reliant on him

    • ^^^THIS^^^ I’m right there with you, @Vicky. Moved 14 times in 25 years, twice internationally. The moves were *all* at his insistence — we need a bigger place, didn’t like the location, etc. At first, Figment stayed with the same investment bank for 20 years but once we moved back to the US and into the house where our kids would finish out their school years, the job-hopping started. He up and quit unexpectedly and decided he wanted to own a farm (a FARM – the man didn’t own a lawnmower or do any of the gardening whatsoever and now he suddenly wants to grow crops? “Okay, so, we’ll raise cows!” I WISH I WAS KIDDING). Thankfully, I talked him down from that particular ledge. In the past 10 years, he has worked at five companies. Since we split six years ago, he has moved seven times. If the job was anchored, the chaos manifested in frequent moves. If the home was anchored, the chaos showed up in job changes. Now he (and schmoopy) have both at the same time. He’s in overdrive.

      In between the moves and the job changes, he was sick with some “life-threatening” illness to where we were either dealing with the symptoms of it, the ever-increasing specialist visits, and then the eventual surgery the “illness” would require. Over the course of our time together (25 years), he had eight major surgeries and at least a dozen hospital stays.

      It was always something.

      • I’ve said this too with mine. It really is always something with him. You are ALWAYS waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    • 8 moves in 13 years. Yep. Always something. He was always quick to say that when HE picked the next place, we stayed there the longest, even though it was always up to me to pay all the household bills.

  • I swear to God, they’re all carbon copies of each other. I know I’ve said it many times, but I see my ex in these posts all the time. They’re all the same. Sure, some of the details might be different, but they’re still the same immature pathological, pathetic little middle-aged high schoolers. And that’s when they’re not acting like middle-aged infants/toddlers.

  • Omg the Wackjob was a master of chaos—cars, trips, houses , expensive toys of every description, constantly spending so far above our income we got into a million dollars of debt by the time he left.. luckily I managed to keep enough to buy a house but I’ll work until I’m ready to sell—retirement is not an option unless I sell. I do not miss that!!

  • CL… Thank you. After all these years, when I read your beautiful words, I still get massive new insights about my life history that spur new growth in me, game-changing insights that take weeks to fully grok and which make me a stronger and smarter person. I gain even more precious life in the light of your brave sharing of all the wisdom your life teaches you.

    Your heart is a beautiful gift. I am blessed.

    Now I am going to spend a week processing this until it is integrated into my cells, this understanding of something I’ve known but which you have put together so eloquently that years of my life (far beyond my ex marriage) are morphing into a new crystal clarity.

    Damn. Exactly. THAT is how they all distract me. THAT is how they all set the hook in my heart even when I already know the BS is running high. THIS is how they use my early learning to win with me. It’s so simple, yet so hard to see from within the tornado, that the tornado itself is the actual problem, as opposed to the things crashing together in the chaos of it.

    Thank you, Friend, for this new light.

  • Oh the Chaos! My ex would go from job to job every few years. It would be long enough between that it didn’t rouse suspicion, but the pattern was always the same…..he would suddenly start taking vacation time or working from home. He would actively start looking for his next gig, and promote it to me as “an opportunity that just fell in his lap”. The entire scenario played out with him bitching and moaning about how someone wronged him at work. After seeing this play out a few times, and learning some things about the ex, most likely what happened was his current employer found out he was full of it- he did not go to college (he lied about having a BS), he exaggerated his skills, and he would often get into fights with people that called him on his shit. I think he may have left some jobs just before/ as they found out that he was not who he claimed to be. I saw this same thing happening this spring right before he got fired from his last job….unfortunately he is so far gone from the drinking I don’t think he had an exit plan this time.

    The other chaos I remember was right after our daughter was born. She was in NICU for a day. He went nuts saying that “there is no way we will be able to pay the hospital bills for that”. His mother even got on board with it. The crazy part was that I carry the health insurance and I knew exactly what we were on the hook for- $100! That was it…I have excellent coverage. I paid the hospital bill myself. He used this excuse to take out several unsecured loans from multiple sources. I have no idea what he did with that money. His mother even tried to shame me for giving birth to “an unhealthy baby”. Apparently, the women in her family only labor for less than 4 hours and the baby is born ready to go home the same day with no health issues. Of course this excludes her and my ex…..he was born 6 weeks premature because of restricted growth in uterine!

      • These “mother” types unfortunately produce men like “couchslug”. One of them comes out with outrageous, crazy comments and the other swears to it. All so dysfunctional.

  • I really don’t remember any manufactured chaos but I sure remember a lot of times that real life chaos was a factor in his cheating by making it easier on him because my focus was elsewhere. My dad is diagnosed with early onset dementia and my mom needs my help? Convenient Chaos for my cheating ex. Our daughter is diagnosed with a serious, chronic disease at age 16? Convenient Chaos. I have need surgery? FANTASTIC Convenient Chaos! He can literally text and email the OW while sitting in the surgical waiting room with my mom. Any time my attention was focused on another member of my family or on myself due to a crisis it was an opportunity for him to ramp up the cheating AND gave him a self righteous excuse for his behavior as in “Well, if Beth had been paying attention to my needs the way she should, I wouldn’t be banging strippers in the family minivan. IT’S ALL HER FAULT FOR IGNORING ME, ME, ME!!!” This also meant that he was pretty much useless to me during whatever crisis was happening because his focus wasn’t on helping his family through the situation, his focus was on how he could use the chaos to his advantage. That created extra drag which made coping with any situation more difficult even if I wasn’t consciously aware of why it was so hard. Obviously, life still gets chaotic at times but it is so much easier to deal with any sort of crisis without him. I was always on my own anyway, now it’s just apparent and I don’t have the burden of thinking I should have a partner to rely on when I don’t.

    • While I don’t have any definitive proof of cheating throughout our marriage, I do recall times that, when he was stressed, he acted distant. He used to say when he was stress, he did not want sex. Actually, I think it was precisely those times when he was cheating.

      As for me, I just kept my shit to myself. Toward the end of the marriage, I knew he didn’t have my back and would be useless to me as well. I got more support of my dog and cats.I think that’s one of the parts that still hurts me the most and a part that I’m trying to get past. For all that I did for him and was there for parents’ deaths, my stepson’s bipolar, his ew-wife, custody battle, his numerous jobs. I only ever really needed him when my mother was critically ill and passed away. Of course, that happened during the divorce, and he offered no help or sympathy toward me or my mom. None, the time I needed him the most in 18 years and he was gone.

      • Sam here. I was always there for him, always. I could never count in him, ever. It was always about him

    • I hear ya. The day my dad died (right in front of me), my cheater went to a pub with his mistress instead of coming home to comfort me, claiming he had to work and couldn’t get away. He started the affair when our daughter was seriously ill and in and out of hospital.
      Tragedies and illnesses expose their empathy deficit, so they feel the need to run away so as not to have to face the reality that they don’t feel anything for their supposed loved ones.

      • “Tragedies and illnesses expose their empathy deficit, so they feel the need to run away so as not to have to face the reality that they don’t feel anything for their supposed loved ones.”
        That is EXACTLY it. They have an empathy deficit. Wow. You nailed that one, Chumperella!!

        • I remember when a relative of my ex’s died. I cried because he cried. Seeing my husband sad made me sad. But, when he started being a serial cheater, I found my sympathy for him growing cold. I wonder sometimes if we need to emotionally distance ourselves to endure wreckonciliation.

      • This is very true.
        I always knew there was something off about him. In spite of the fact that I loved him/revered him to the point of almost sainthood in my eyes and the fact that he projected himself as some kind of knight in shining armor or Superman to me, his family and friends I always felt something not quite there. Of course, I spackled. Then, 5 years ago this January, a week before our 10th anniversary I had out-patient surgery to try to get pregnant and he takes off to get drunk with his buddy and leaves me in bed unconscious from the anesthesia.
        All spackle died that day. I knew there was no coming back from that. I wouldn’t have treated an injured backyard squirrel the way he treated me that day. Like I was trash, like I meant utterly NOTHING to him. My vail and his mask fell off that day.

    • Sad truths right here. I spent a year off and on caring for my dad while he was fighting cancer. My ex likes to hold that up as a time he “truly supported” me by doing more around the house and with our daughter (he wants that bitch cookie for being a decent human being and what not)–but in actuality, it gave him lots and lots of time to stray.

  • My problem is that I always just went along with the all of the chaos. You want to cash in your term life insurance policy to buy an airplane? Sure, maybe that will make you happy. You want to quit your high paying job to be a SAHD and work towards your dream of becoming a flight instructor? Well, ok, I don’t want you to be miserable in your job on my account. Are you sure we can afford to do that and still keep the airplane that costs $10,000 per year minimum to hanger and maintain even if you don’t fly it and on my salary which is a third of what you used to make? You ran the numbers and it all works out? Well, ok, I guess you know what you are doing. I did at least tell him “we can’t move cross country to the state you want to live in unless one of us gets a job there first”, so he found me a job in that state. Ok, I will admit it is a great job, I am happy there and it does make it easier to live independently now that he is gone. I guess he slipped up there. Oops. The move still cost us a lot of savings, but that was my fault for not insisting on having the company that hired me pay for moving costs (but why would they when they knew we wanted to move there and they did have other candidates who already lived there). Anyway, when all of that chaos failed to get me to leave he had to go the cheating route. Even then I still tried to hang on for a bit. It took moving out and continuing to see Schmoopie for several months for me to finally initiate a divorce when I got tired of waiting around for him to either get his head out of his ass and come home or file for divorce himself. The kicker is that he did eventually meet his goal of becoming a flight instructor (after much encouragement and accommodation from me because I did believe in him and I wanted him to be happy) right around the time he took up with Schmoopie 2.0. I was puzzled at the time as to why he was still so unhappy and being a jerk to me and the kids, even after I praised him far and wide for having achieved his goal. Now he is a copilot for a commercial airline. I got to deal with all of the chaos. Through it all I encouraged and supported him, but now, other than a few years of child support, some stupid slut who was in the right place at the right time, willing to fuck somebody else’s husband and tear families apart for personal gain, is the one reaping all of the benefits. The good news is that there may not be as many benefits as she thinks because he is a big spender and that airplane (which is his fourth child) still costs a ton to maintain and he will never get rid of it. I also wonder what will happen when he is off flying all of the time and Schmoopie gets bored while he is away.

    • His spending and trying to find ways to gratify himself will not stop. He’s trying to fill a black hole with will always be empty.

      Seriously, I wouldn’t want to be her. She knows he’s a cheater, and he now flies with (I’m assuming) overnights in different cities. No thank you!! She’s on the marriage police whether she wants to be or not.

  • Chaos and mockery…. hmmm if you live in the USA this is the news everyday because of some severely bordelined politicians. As much as I feel like my super hero power is to spot the disordered at a glance (years f educating myself after being chumped) and once you know how the game is played, it’s pretty easy to predict (narcissistic sociopaths usually all have the same script) but MAN the news is triggering. And exhausting. The lying and insane behavior and the flying monkeys that support it?? Any other chumps out there feeling the same way?

    • Yes, I am still shocked that so many seemingly smart people thought his behavior was amusing and that he would suddenly become “presidential” after the inauguration. Even pundits from the opposing side spouted this crap. Although my ex is a very covert narc, I am hoping that those in my family who still think he is great will see the parallels in his behavior to that of the overt narc in chief.

      • I never thought his behavior was one bit amusing and I never believed that he would somehow become ‘presidential’ after the inauguration. He has turned out to be exactly how I knew he would be. You can snow the snowman, but you can’t bullshit the bullshitter~

  • Chaos… Bad decisions. Further proof of their insanity. Who in their right mind does that kind of shit to keep someone they don’t want? Its all just selfishness and madness as it has no rhyme or reason.

    • It is crazy when done deliberately to hang onto the unwanted spouse. In my case I think ex was trying to get me to divorce him so he wouldn’t have to be the bad guy and I kept trying to accommodate him instead so he just kept having to behave worse and worse while still trying to maintain his great guy image everywhere else so that he could get pity points when I divorced him. Alas, I didn’t follow the script so he had to cheat and people found out so now his great guy image is tarnished.

      • Mine also had to cheat to get rid of me. However, his image remains in tact as he’s been smearing me for at least six months…three of which were prior to me finding out about his affair and promptly kicking him to the curb.

      • At the time, I just spackled more and more….looking back now, I can see that he WAS REALLY trying to force my hand to leave him so that he would look like a victim. I get aggravated with myself when I look at all the things he did to drive me away and I DIDNT SEE IT.

        • Don’t. I look back on those last few years with TEO, I think he did the exact same thing.
          He knew the absolute deal breaker was cheating, even though he cheated the whole time we were together.

  • Wow, the chaos factor. I really didn’t notice the three channels as much as I did the chaos factor. Chaotic would be the most accurate description of my 12 yr marriage to the x. It was always something, we were moving again, x was having a major health crisis again, x is unhappy in his job, x goes for his MBA now he needs some other notch to add to his resume. Sweet Jesus it was never ending. I didn’t realize the exhaustion until I was free. The emotional drain those twelve years took on me has permanently affected my ability to panic or even work up a good over concern. I don’t miss any of that, none.

  • This has been my life. My stbx was diagnosed with BPD last month after I demanded he get a mental health evaluation. He almost destroyed me over the years. Always blaming. Always denying reality. Always manipulating. Always lying. Always distracting and projecting.

  • Chaos / Drama, same damn things. If we didnt have chaos he would create chaos, drama drama drama! and holy cow it was so exhausting. I see now the tactic he had mastered to keep me chained down for 2 years.

    Interesting point though about not accumulating assets. He was all about the budget till he got me moved away 100 miles to new town and a mortgage then spent every penny on alcohol and junk food. Makes more sense now!


  • I know why aliens don’t make contact with earth. We are so screwy and evil and more trouble than we are worth.

    • “The surest sign of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is the fact that none of it has ever tried to contact us” (or something like that) – Calvin

  • Chump Nation –

    You’re my only hope!

    A death star of chaos sowing approaches my nice post divorce cheater and drama free Christmas! “Someone” (oh gosh I just wonder who it could be?) has convinced my special needs son he just HAS TO buy Christmas presents for my ex’s new schmoopie and her two kids. She seems like a nice woman. Honestly I feel sorry for her but she will have to learn on her own like I did. I just hope for her sake she’s quicker on the uptake. Anyway she’s nice to my boy. He likes her. He gets along with her kids. So I don’t have a problem shelling out for a couple of small token type gifts. What I have a problem with is how this will be used by the fuckwit to try and weasel his way into my life. He already thinks we should like – I don’t know all have family dinners together. Which you know – if it were just her family and mine minus him would probably be GRAND. But since he undoubtedly plans on being the center of attention at any such fantasy – uh, never in this life or any other. So, tell me please, what’s a mama to do?

    • Uhm, his Dad needs to help him buy gifts for his schmoops and her kids. Why is this being relayed to you? Hell to the no. That’s on the cheater to do this!!

      I think you punt this back to where this should belong along the lines of ‘oh that sounds so nice of you to want to get gifts for schmoops and kids. Have you asked your dad to take you shopping so you can be sure you’re getting something they would like?’

      What a fucker he is!!

    • “Omgoodness – Sweetie! That’s SUCH a wonderful idea! The next time you’re with Dad, you should ask him to take you shopping – just him and you – so you can buy gifts for Fake-Mommy and her children *together!*”

      And then email the Cheater:


      Son told me all about wanting to buy gifts for Fake-Mommy and her children. He’s super excited for you to take him shopping to buy their gifts during [Cheater’s next visitation period]. Thanks so much for making this transition a little easier by discussing HOW to include these new people in his life! I hope you all have a great Christmas!


      This needs to be done in writing, so you can print it up when he says you’re being difficult about his new relationship.

    • No family dinners! Make it clear to him that when he cheated, he ceased to be part of your family by his own choice. As others have said, insist that he takes your son shopping. It’s not your job to help make his girlfriend happy. It’s not yoir job to help him with anything.

    • Stop wife-ing. You aren’t his wife any more.

      And get out of the triangle, fast. You’re being used as a hypotenuse.

    • Thanks guys – why does it never occur to me to just toss that steaming pile of crap back over the fence? instead I only think of the various unattractive options I have for taking care of it. You set me straight. I sent him a message just as suggested. And the “lets all get together” thing is happening never. I always say exactly the same thing to that one. “She can always contact me if she has a specific question or concern about my son that you, his father, are unable to manage. Shuts that right down.

      • “She can always contact me if she has a specific question or concern about my son that you, his father, are unable to manage. Shuts that right down.


  • My ex loved drama and excitement. I don’t think in his case, however, it was to distract me… at least, not most of the time. It was because his high level of narcissism demanded constant attention, so he was ALWAYS on the lookout for an opportunity to step into the spotlight, no matter how inappropriate or embarrassing. Also, because his blazing ADD — which he refused to acknowledge or treat — left him with a complete inability to consider consequences, plan long term, or resist his impulses, he tended to create a lot of chaotic situations and messes. None of that ever bothered him in the slightest, however. He simply moved onto the next scenario; like many disordered, he always managed to land on his feet. And his narcissism meant that he never felt guilt, remorse, anxiety, or self-doubt.

    IME, people who are always “the life of the party” or creating chaotic situations are personality disordered. They will suck you in, drain you dry, and spit you out once you have nothing left to offer them.

  • I haven’t been reading CL for long, but it has been without a doubt the most empowering, eye-opening reading I have done since the cheater made his slow descent into cheating madness almost two years ago. This post is the most eye-opening so far. There was so much chaos throughout our marriage I never considered HIS chaos, just bad luck that seemed to follow us. He was fired from a job 6 months after we bought a new house, fired from another job when our son was a baby, a drug-addict friend of his needed a place to stay (with us, of course!), and more. It only got worse once he got emotionally involved with his co-worker…he suddenly developed a sexual dysfunction (ironic!), he revealed that he had been abused as a child, and another mentally ill, alcoholic friend needed to stay with us for a few weeks. I ran myself ragged trying to deal with all of it and help him. Intentional distraction or just more of his usual chaos? I don’t know. I spent 20 years as his chump janitor, fixing problems, picking up the pieces of his chaos, trying to keep him healthy and happy. No more. So gloriously thankful to be nearly free of it!!!!

    • I haven’t been reading CL for long, but it has been without a doubt the most empowering, eye-opening reading I have done since the cheater made his slow descent into cheating madness almost two years ago.

      Amazing how once you recognize crazymaking behavior for what it is, you can’t unsee it, right?

      I used to think the cheaters were good people who just snapped one day. Looking back now, I realize they were always chaotic, that the unstable behavior was there from Day One. I’d just refused to acknowledge it.

      • Nailed it!

        “I used to think the cheaters were good people who just snapped one day. Looking back now, I realize they were always chaotic, that the unstable behavior was there from Day One. I’d just refused to acknowledge it.”

  • Hmmm. I find this interesting. In my case there really wasn’t much drama at all. we didn’t spend and cause financial chaos. Struggled some but nothing out of hand. Until exposed secret credit card debt during divorce that she had hid for a couple of years. Unfortunately we still work very close to each other. about 700 yards apart. We never see each other AT ALL. Fortunately. We live 3 to 4 miles apart as the crows fly. We would car pool together quite often and have lunch together routinely. I look back and realize how much she would complain about work and coworkers. On the way to work. At lunch. On the way home. And then again to whom ever would listen. She never really had any friends.

  • “We spent money and time on random shit to keep us from accumulating assets. Was on purpose on my end, nearly conscious. Because I feared that if she had options, she’d leave.”

    There’s a lot of shitbirds out there who think like this. It’s scary.

    Years ago, I was supposedly friends with a guy who told me he liked girls with low self-esteem because they would never leave him. I was in college at the time and didn’t recognize what a red flag that was. Who recognizes red flags when you’re 20? He asked me out shortly thereafter but I’d never been interested in him, so I said no. I thought he respected that and we would stay friends.

    Took me years to realize that every one of his girlfriends hated me, that he triangulated each one against me to try to make me jealous. He married the final one. The day he got engaged, he sent me a note with a picture of the ring: “Sorry, Cam, I’m off the market.” WTF? He thought he would make me jealous! I never wanted that asshole to begin with, and what about his poor fiancee? Who DOES that? Instead of making me jealous (barf), it just reiterated that the years of friendship meant nothing, they were all an act to get into my pants. He never respected my “no”. He never respected any of the women in his life at all.

    But now I look back and think, it’s worse than that. He actually told me he liked women he could easily control. I didn’t understand that at age 20. Now I read this post and think what a bullet I dodged. Still got chumped later by a different guy, but that’s another story.

    • You know the Maya Angelous saying, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Unfortunately, far too many of us didn’t recognize it when the cheater first revealed their true character.

      • Amen. Chump Lady once wrote how until the age of 42, she was “always shoveling shit” in her relationships. I was the same. I dodged that first creepy guy, but it took years until I learned what a red flag was and how to tell someone’s character. It just never occurred to me that heartless sociopaths existed. I thought everybody had a basic moral compass.

  • I don’t remember overt chaos as much as subtle chaos or emotional chaos. I just remember feeling off-kilter and not knowing why. Or the Dickhead would either be ignoring me or be all over me. I remember his mood shifts or how our lives were defined by what mood he was in. Everything seemed to revolve around making the Dickhead happy and keeping him happy.

    Just remembering all this hurts. It also makes me very, very angry as he was never really worth it. Me, my stepkids – we idolize him. For what? For the chance that he would be our hero. At one time, I thought he was but that was a very long time ago.

    • I remember that too. The constant managing of his emotions. I felt off for many years. For several of these, I thought I had a serious mental health issue, because he constantly would point out how my reactions were always wrong, my priorities not right, and I had too many emotional outbursts. I thought I had a severe flaw in how I interacted with others and how socially incapable I was.

      • Always tip toeing around his mood. What a pile of ship we were given!!!

        I could be having a heart attack and he’d step over me and tell me I was overreacting but if he had a hang nail I had to drop whatever I was doing and tend to him because WHATEVER he was doing/feeling/needing was more important than anything I could ever muster.


  • Wow, so true. I have sometimes referred to Cheater as a “chaos-generator.” He completely blew up my life every couple of years–usually in expensive and unnecessary ways. When I finally started my own savings account, he was furious and tearfully told our pastor that he believed I was planning to leave him, and that as soon as I had enough money in the bank, I’d be gone. That’s when I realized that he was keeping me broke on purpose so that I wouldn’t have any options. Asshole.

      • I just decided to opt out of mine because I didn’t want to feel like I was on the Jerry Springer show. Show is still going but praise God I’m no longer on stage ducking chairs.

  • Moved house 10 times in 24 years, he had so many different jobs, I cant even count. Stayed in one place for 10 years but got so much in debt by 2011 that he convinced me that we HAD to file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and that we couldn’t afford a lawyer to help us so *I* had to do all the research, work and file it for us. It took 6 months and many trips to the courthouse to re-file something because I didn’t really know what I was doing. All the while he did not want a “day job ” anymore, he was a special, talented musician, he was too good for a “day job” and a lot of that debt that was racked up was for music gear, $5000 for online school to become a graphic designer that we paid for and then he dropped out and never finished. (what a waste). I was working 12 hour days, six days a week with a hour to 90 minute one-way commute just to make enough money to pay the mortgage, bills, the Chapter 13 payment and feed us. By 2013 it got to the point that I told him he had to find work, I couldn’t do it on my own anymore, he applied for all kinds of odd jobs (not anything in his background so it was starting at entry level) nothing took until he found someone willing to teach him to lay tile and within the first couple weeks he injured himself by shooting himself in the finger with a nail gun and that was the end of that job. Then he convinced me that there was no work to be found where we lived, (one of the of 4 biggest cities in the US) and we had to sell the house and go back to where we lived back in 2000-2002 which was about 1300 miles away from my family so he could work for his brother (in his actual background field) so he took off to start working and get a place set up for us while I had to do all the work of getting the house ready to sell, do showings every weekend for about 6 months and pack it up. I hated giving up our house and making DD lose everything she had known and her friends but I felt I had to do it to keep our family together. It took me less than 2 weeks to find my job that I still have now when we made the move. It was never enough for him, where we live now is a rural area and there weren’t enough “real musicians” for him to “work” with and he started talking about moving to a bigger city, see where this was going? I started to say no to the BS and now we are divorced. I was just thinking about this yesterday, I’m doing okay on one income, but where did all the money go when we had two incomes the last 4 years? What was it all for? Such a goddamn waste of time and energy and money.

  • Damn! I just wrote a huge post and it got zapped into cyberspace so sorry if this double-posts! But THIS, THIS, THIS! The best post ever! Every time I think “oh I must write about that” someone else has just made the same comment, so where to start?
    Constant moving? I had to give up my great job in Switzerland because Mr. (former) Marine Corps wanted to move to D.C. and start running the White House. I didn’t want to go because who wants to leave Switzerland but I thought I at least owed him that much. What happens? I get a great job at the World Bank and he can only find shit for a job (apparently the White House didn’t want him). So then he doesn’t like D.C. and wants to move to Pittsburgh to be near family. I manage to get myself a nice little income working from home but Mr. Shit-for-Brains still can’t get a job so I get my job back in Switzerland. Not long after that Switzerland is too expensive so let’s move into France (but keep the same job). Can you imagine home many frickin driving licences I had! A couple years later he wanted to move to Montana because … who the hell knows. We didn’t know anybody there. We were also going to move to Colorado because John Denver and Dan Fogelberg lived there – hey, who knows, we could have been neighbours! This time I put my foot down and told him to move there himself, get the great frickin job and we’d follow. Needless to say, if he had to do it himself it wasn’t going to happen.
    Money? Despite two good incomes we were always broke. I mean always. But hey, buy $1,000 guitar number 8 for the fuckwit? Yeah no problem. We had just finished paying off a rather large loan and I started to breath a sigh of relief. The same day, fuckwit went out (drunk) and bought himself a $60,000 car. I took out my pension money to pay off his Landcruiser and he rolled it, drunk, 3 months later!
    But the most scary thing he ever did was get caught drink-driving in Switzerland in 1993. So they hauled him off to the cop shop where his blood alcohol reading came back 4 times over the drink-drive limit. He knew he was in trouble. So he came home and told me that it wasn’t his blood! They had tried and tried to get blood out of his arm but his veins were too skinny and they couldn’t get any blood! Damn, so I called our lawyer and explained the situation to him and he actually said “DO YOU ACTUALLY REALIZE WHAT YOU ARE SAYING? DO YOU?” Thankfully I decided not to follow up (it would have been me that had to do all the work) and yes indeed it was his blood. His lawyer told him to take his toothbrush to court!
    It’s funny but the day I finally said “enough, handle it yourself” he almost crapped that tiny brain of his out of his asshole because he didn’t know what to do about his innate ability to create chaos. I told him to get his lousy friends to help him – they were all such good drinking buddies after all! So thank you CL – for me this is the best post ever. 26 lousy years of non-stop chaos with that asshole. Oh, and I never used to swear until I met him! Sorry about that CN!

    • Attie,
      You can swear any time. You have earned the right.
      I love how you write.
      It is all horrible stuff, the way you have been treated and all, but the way you tell it is superior.
      I want to sit at the same table as you!
      I will wear padded knickers and bring lots of kleenex to dab the tears.
      I have said it before, and will say it again,
      YOU rock.
      I love you Attie!

      “His lawyer told him to take his toothbrush to court.”

      • Aah you are so sweet. I don’t cry about him (haven’t for years – except for the laughing) but the padded knickers might be needed. Actually one time I was on skype with my sister (in Denmark – whose asshole husband had treated her the same) and we were SCREAMING laughing so hard that the neighbour came round to ask if I was OK. Oh man, there were two stories that night (one from each of us) that if I ever get the patience to write down you’d need those padded pants! But thanks for being so sweet, I find it very therapeutic to write it down and to learn from everyone else that I’m not the one who was mad. Hugs from France!

  • This is the channel I stayed with exh2/The Evil One.
    I cannot tell you how many times he put me in a stress-induced panic over finances, exh1/issues with visitation, his lack of employment…
    I can distinctly remember him bringing up things I experienced with exh1 that I had told him about. He would say, “Didn’t you tell me he once did (x,y,z)?” only to get me all riled up and upset about it all over again…
    He was never content to just be. Just be peaceful and happy with himself or our family life.
    He always had some kind of storm brewing. All a deflection. All a screen or mask to hide the cheating and lies and thievery I endured

      • Yes, Onwards.
        Three and a half years now I’ve been exh2-free… Once in a blue moon he tries to bring back into his drama/chaos. I stay grey rock and say toodaloo!!!

  • As soon as we got married cheater XH started jumping up and down demanding we sell my lovely home and move. ( I think I had my home up for sale four times during our marriage) Nothing was ever good enough. Then we would go house hunting for something he liked and the real insanity would start. He wanted to put an offer on EVERYTHING we looked at from bombed out meth sheds to crumbling shacks on the side of mountains. We wouldn’t have one thing paid off before he was lusting after the next harebrained thing he had to have. Are these people all clones or what?

  • Happy to be moving on from the narc known as ‘disordered X’. chaos ensued from his controlling moves that directed family time and funds and. caused stress. and disorder. Rebuilding life on the other side that is so much more peaceful and pleasant. leaving a cheater is good.

  • When we met, I thought the chaos was cute. He coined his own word for it: “spontenuity” (continuous sponteneity). Between his hypochondria (always in a health crisis of some kind) and the changing jobs (5 within the first 5 years) and supporting him financially while he started his own business (in another state where we knew no one) and real estate drama and “let’s have a baby,” I saw the chaos but didn’t connect it to my chumpery. I chalked it up to untreated ADHD–I was his coping mechanism to be marginally successful. I lost one job in my life ever (and got a better one without missing a paycheck) but only ever heard from him, “You’d better get a new job fast because come next month, we’ll be sucking wind.” This is the same man who told me I could be a stay-at-home mom if only I’d support him to get there. He was cheating on me then, but I thought it was just virtual–did the counseling etc. I think things are getting better, so had unprotected sex with my husband once–of course got pregnant immediately with our third child (oldest was 4). Fast forward 5 months once he’s left me for the first of several OW, I’m crying in the midwife’s office as they do the STD test. He still tries to manufacture chaos as much as he can, but I am able to differentiate better than I was being married to it. The hard part is that it is now always around the kids. They don’t have the skills to deflect his ass-holery as well at 6, 4, and 1.

  • My ex’s form of chaos was compulsive entrepreneurship, dragging me along with him. He wasn’t driven by a need to destabilize me, particularly (although that was a nice side effect), but rather by a strange combination of seat-of-the-pants risk taking and the desire to accumulate as much wealth as possible to feel secure.

    He started a wood products business that he eventually expanded to 200 low-skilled employees, talk about chaos! When he was in the middle of that and we had a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old and I was also working full time, he decided he HAD to start a brew pub. At the same time he had branched his wood-products company into a second business making snowboard core. Over the years, there were other companies, including one in Savannah, GA (we live in Oregon) that required him to spend weeks at a time there. After I discovered his penchant for extramarital sex, I wondered how many women he had there as well.

    Starting, running, and selling, these companies was CONSTANT CHAOS. He would get sued, he’d be dodging process servers, he’d be burning papers in the back yard, he’d be constantly traveling, constantly putting out fires, constantly complaining about other people. He’d suddenly put all our assets in my name, then just as suddenly take them back again. He put up a complicated security system in and around our house. I never really knew what he was doing, or why. I realize now he never told me the truth about anything. He presented all his questionable activity as earning money “for the family.” Since I was such a blind, codependent enabler, I accepted that explanation and interpreted his motivation as “love” for me and the kids.

    I was the loyal wife who stayed home, worked a normal 8-to-5 job, raised the kids, paid the household bills, cooked, and kept the house in order. I performed my function as an appliance extremely well.

    In the end, my ex had some successes, and some spectacular failures. By the time we divorced, in our 50’s, my half of everything left over was enough so that I don’t have to worry about money any more. But it has been a high price to pay for 30 years of chaos.

    My ex doesn’t cause so much chaos any more. He got older and tired and stopped starting companies, thank goodness or he could well have endangered the assets we did actually manage to retain. He’s wealthy, but he lives like a miser now, fearful of the next economic downturn.

    I took my half of the assets and now live exactly the way I want for the first time in my adult life—free of the chaos and the deception and the cheating.

    Unlike the cheater CL describes, my ex didn’t cause chaos specifically to control me. His chaos was a result of a constant narcissistic drive to accumulate wealth and success, and I was just collateral damage.

    • I think some cheaters do it on purpose as a “look over there” tactic, but others it just follows naturally in their wake and they are oblivious to it or just don’t care because what they want is all they see or care about.

  • 100% chaos blended in with the other channels as CL says. Not so much with charm, simply because the charm channel was switched off after the first year or so, but the other 2, especially self-pity and his obsession with major end of the world issues.
    In Traitor’s case it was obsess over whatever (usually climate change), turn his life and mine upside down to prepare for the coming apocalypse, but in practice do absolutely nothing that a real prepper would do except spend a shit load of money on half-finished projects. The projects would be abandoned because depression (self-pity) because evil first wife had custody of his kids .
    Not because he moved 350 kms away to do a PhD, and hooked up with the grand daughter (the Whore) of his landlady while he was studying, left wife with new born 3rd son, had baby with the Whore and dropped out of his PhD, then dropped Whore – another abandoned project because depression because evil first wife, evil family court which decided the kids should stay in their school, in their house, in their community, close to both families, Waaahhh!
    Between 2006 and 2015 he was in and out of 3 political parties, a student again, a local council member, a farmer, claiming that each one was forever.
    Come 2014, throws his toys out of the cot, Whore is his Twu Wuv, rinse and repeat. Gonna be Whore forever, except less than a year after we settled, he wanted to come back, but, so noble, has to stay with Whore because of their 14 year old son. Didn’t stop him leave her when their kid was a 18 months old.
    Can we call it chaos if there’s a pattern? I don’t know.
    Watch out for chaos, it is so effective.

  • I do think that a lot of the chaos with Cheater was just his cheerful assumption that he could do what-the-hell-ever and Carol39 would fix it. I was CONSTANTLY stressed out and fixing his messes. House in foreclosure because the fuckwit didn’t pay the bills? Well, I saved up, bought a cheaper foreclosed house for cash, and fixed it up so we’d have somewhere to live, then put the other house up for sale and sorted out that mess.

    People always commented how he was so cheerful and relaxed. Well, sure, because he just assumed it was my job to sort out all the glorious chaos he generated everywhere. And then of course, that was a reason to cheat… because I was always so freaked out and no fun. He even told me that he was a better Christian because he just had faith that God would take care of those things. It wasn’t God. It was me.

    • Argh, YES!

      “Babe, don’t worry! These things always work out!”


      That’s only because I take care of it!!

      And the religious portion of the family shows up to tell me that I should “give it to God.”


    • The Bible says we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16). If Christ can figure out how to take care of him and he has the mind of Christ, why can’t he figure out how to adult and take care of himself? Or maybe he doesn’t have the mind of Christ because his actions show that he doesn’t actually follow Christ? hmmmmmm…..

  • Mine manufactured chaos and drama with severe alcohol binges several times a month and booze-fueled guy trips with his drinking buddies. Then there was the beer and cider at home and at lunch that was getting more out of hand as time went on. It worked out nicely for him because I was too focused on his alcohol issues to be wondering what else was going on. It meant I would (and did) put all his weird behavior down to alcoholism when it was really about an affair. She was an alcoholic, so he drank more than he had before their affair to please her and to feel like they had something in common. He would text her from home just to tell her what he was drinking at the moment. He even sent her pictures of his empties, FFS. They were always brands she liked, naturally. Turns out he wasn’t a genuine alcoholic, because he quit cold turkey after dday with no problems at all. I found out he’d been looking into vaping as well but hadn’t tried it yet. More concern on my part and more drama would gave ensued from that, giving him another handy little distraction and another way to emotionally abuse me.
    That’s another reason they create chaos; as a covert form of abuse.

  • Chaos… oh my…

    No surprise that the nr1 on my list is “ safe and quiet environment “
    Creating chaos 95% of a time, after which I was always thinking WTF?
    Oh my….

  • For most of my marriage, I looked at this chaos as me not adjusting to married life well. How was it that other women I knew didn’t seem so stressed out about their spouse’s schedule? They were able to roll with the punches, while I was always stressed and frustrated. I felt like a failure.

    Turns out it was all him. I could never plan out a week because he would throw a last minute trip or meeting or happy hour that he forgot to tell me about. Turns out, he knew about many of those things well in advance, he just wouldn’t tell me in any sort of appropriate timeframe. When I did get him to participate in planning things like family vacations, he would never speak to what he wanted to do. He would only complain about it later, so he could lay on the guilt of me not meeting his needs.

    Every single morning was chaos because he would outright refuse to help with our daughter. I would be running behind and he would be sitting in bed reading the news on his iPad. Then he would stir up some trouble with our daughter or rile her up in some way or derail her getting ready and then promptly leave for work. I was always left to clean up all messes. He changed jobs 2 weeks before our daughter was due, which meant he couldn’t stay home for a week as planned and left me to do all the insurance paperwork. If the car broke down, I had to rescue him (something he would not do for me).

    At some point I started realizing it was him. I made decisions based on the opposite of what he would do because he always chose the wrong decision. And he was notorious for adding fuel to the fire instead of diffusing a situation.

    Every single thing or event in our marriage was hard. He liked to blame me. Calling me difficult. In fact, when he left that was one of the reasons he gave. Things were too hard. It shouldn’t be this hard. He was right. It shouldn’t be THAT hard. But I wasn’t the reason.

  • I was a chaos janitor for the entirety of my marriage. I am not kidding in the slightest. Chaos surrounded my ex. Most of it was from his doing. I was always in clean-up mode, whether that meant scrambling to put money in the checking account because it was overdrawn – by him – or trying to patch up his latest kerfluffle with my family, or deciding how much to pay on a bill because we couldn’t afford the full amount (see: overdrawn checking account), or dealing with him getting fired (happened twice), and on and on and ON. There were the stints in jail (DWIs and a weapons charge), periods of psychotic breakdown (he told me his mother had cancer one time – and when my mother saw her and asked her how she was, my mother-in-law was like, “What? I don’t have cancer”) which happened more often than you’d think. It was never-ending.

    I do not miss that. At all. And now the OW gets to deal with it. I think she’s a master of chaos on her own, so the two of them should be epic together! Man, do I ever love MEH. I do not care ONE BIT.

  • Amazing how we were all married to the same person. My XH has had 12 jobs in 30 years, and every time he quit IT WAS NEVER HIS FAULT HE WAS THE VICTIM. Hope OWife is enjoying the chaos. I am enjoying the tranquility of life without him– and cherishing the friendships I’ve made in the one job I’ve had for the past 30 years.

    • Reverse that with The Evil One— 30+ jobs in 13 years.

  • Although ex fomented some level of chaos the last few years of our marriage through his pursuit of happiness with no heed to how those pursuits were affecting others, he wasn’t creating a constant state of crisis like so many others described here. I think Schmoopie has a touch of that though. She seems to be someone who is in constant need of rescue. Sometimes it is things she really can’t control (I did feel sorry for her when her house flooded last summer), but it often seems somewhat manufactured to me, like when her then husband abandoned her at a restaurant (after she probably told him to fuck off) and she just had to call my then husband to go pick her up and drive her home (doesn’t she have any other friends) and the time, after he moved out, when he was supposed to come have Sunday dinner with the family (before I wised up and we stopped doing that) and she fell off her bike and he had to tend to her instead, etc. etc. He seems to thrive on all of that chaos, however, as it appeals to his need to be the hero.

    • Ah, the damsel in distress ploy. It is indeed manufactured much of the time. For example, my cheater’s mistress got him to come over to her place to comfort her as she cried in despair because -get this- her job was moving to another building and she would have an extra 15 minute commute. Oh, the humanity! He also held himself responsible for her asinine behavior. He had to get her dumb drunken ass safely home numerous times, even felt her “owed” her because the silly bint got ugly drunk on a date and puked all over the backseat of a cab. He paid for her cab fare, the puke clean-up fee, and bought expensive concert tickets to “make it up to her”.
      Meanwhile, he knew perfectly well I was suffering from depression caused by the state of our marriage, as well as a physical illness, and he never comforted me. He coldly ignored my very real problems but was delighted to be her rescuer over fake, attention-seeking nonsense and drunken self-destructiveness. Because new pussy.

  • Mine did this with our business, which I tried to keep going even after we divorced ( don’t do this, really bad idea). In April we had a positive meeting with the accountant, I’m feeling relieved, then 3 days later he says to me in passing while I’m in the staff break room ” we owe the tax department $42,000.”I cried in front of our employees. We had huge inexplicable bills to suppliers, nothing made sense. I have no idea where the money went. If he’s stolen it, he’s hidden it well. I was in crisis mode all the time, until I walked out. I won’t get any money, but he’s responsible for the debt.

    • “don’t do this, really bad idea.” LOL, truth. I tried to keep a shared gym membership with my ex…that didn’t last long. Just better to cut all ties ASAP, no matter the economic hit.

  • Thanks CL so thankful I found your website. After reading this I realized that is what my whole marriage was, chaos. He had multiple surgeries, pretty sure he is a hypochondriac. After a DD he had surgery and who was going to take care of him? Why me of course the biggest chump of all. Yet when we were separated and I had breast cancer, he drove me to the hospital for surgery and said he would help me through this, ha ha. I guess driving me to the hospital was it, he had a job interview and my sister had to come and get me. He had so many jobs throughout our 25 year marriage, I lost track. Always started out that he was the best employee ever and how much they loved him. Then it quickly turned to everyone was an idiot. It was always someone at work who was an ass. He would come home and say he had quit, we had 4 small girls. He knew I would always be there. I have worked full time as a nurse for 28 years, even after having twins. I just did it, because that is what you do. He on the other hand would quit his job, who does that when you have a family? He also loves to go shopping and by things that he already has 10 of. All for distraction and so he doesn’t have to sit with his rotten self and realize what a fucktard he is. I finally have gone no contact and it is the best thing ever. When he moved out the peace in the house was amazing. No longer had to walk on egg shells to make him happy. I wasted so much time on him, thinking I was being a good wife. Should have left him 16yrs, ago after the first DD. Why did I stay? Ugh I can’t believe I just couldn’t see my life without him. He sucks so much!!!

  • My cheater only created chaos by constantly overplanning. He would add things to do or projects to an overly stressful week. He was never happy without a house project or anything to do. The worst thing for him was a weekend without any real plans. He despised me when I said that I needed the weekend for rest considering that I was a full time employee and had two little kids.
    I handled most of of the kid duty during the week. He gaslighted me into believing he did his fair share. However, now with honest reflection that is not true. He had me handle all the minor stuff and occasionally (very, very rarely) volunteered for a major thing at school. I remember three times that he has done that. Typically, he would sign up for something, but handled when he was on business trips. He was on many business trips.

    So, the chaos he created was by constantly making me feel guilty for not doing something he thought was valuable. REading a book was not good enough. Cleaning the house was not good enough, only outside yard work mattered… when others could see it. Whenever we had guests coming over, he would spend hours outside getting the house look good, while I had to handle all the party details. Mind you, we are talking about a guy who could care less about the inside of a house on other days: wearing dirty shoes — sure, leaving trash lying around — why not, throwing jackets onto couches —absolutely, leaving shoes everywhere — his right… He would walk through the mud room where we have a bench and shelf for shoes and sit in our living room on a very light beige carpet to take of his shoes and leave them there. The same with a jacket. He essentially walked by the coat rack to throw the jacket onto the couch. It made me angry.

    There were always crumps and spills on the kitchen table. I just assumed we were just messy and did not have enough time to clean up. Now that he is gone for a month, the kitchen table seems to remain spotless.

    He could never find anything. Would constantly lose credit cards. His keys. His phone. Always putting it somewhere where it was not supposed to be. Could just not find it. He lost his cell phone 5 times in the last ten years. He lost at least 10 credit cards. Nothing was ever where it was supposed to be. Kitchen ware. Lids.

    And then he would always complain about the chaos. Make me feel insufficient. Like we are all to blame.

    • Ahh yes!
      The lost whatever…….always dragged into the drama of finding whatever it was he lost/misplaced. Good times!!

    • OMG, yes! The household chaos. The throwing of crap everywhere and anywhere, the constant losing of items, the disorganization. My cheater is also a bit of a hoarder. He still has useless junk from 20 years ago he won’t throw away. He lives like he’s a frat boy, thinks it’s okay to throw wringing wet sweaty gym clothes (including underpants) on the floor. Many years ago I actually had to teach him that you shouldn’t serve food right on an unwashed table, no plate, especially after letting the dog up on said table. He made our daughter sick from the bacteria by doing that. This kind of chaotic way of life can be a symptom of a borderline personality.

  • Totally agree with this entire post. They are Chaos factories, those Cheaters. Adjacent/tangential to chaos manufacturing, is Cheaters employ another technique/meta to keep you off-balance: sleep deprivation. Maybe it’s a subset of chaos, or maybe it’s a totally different tactic, but the result is the same – you won’t be able to catch on to them (or even if you catch on, you’ll be too exhausted to confront it).

    • Ex narcopath did this to me: sleep deprivation.

      When we first started dating he told me I was not allowed to touch him when he was sleeping in the bed with me, because he was such a light sleeper. I was distraught over this, as I love a caress while sleepily turning over and falling back asleep. I found myself doing this and then correcting myself in fear of upsetting him.

      The whole situation made me so tense that I could not sleep at night. We would make love, he would kiss me goodnight and roll over and then THE RULE was in effect.

      If I made the mistake of touching him, he would become restless and by 3am would tell me he was moving to the couch. I always felt abandoned when he did this.

      Later, he changed the rules, and it was ok to touch him sleepily, but he would randomly move to the couch. I could never determine when or what caused him to leave our bed.

      Once I moved in with my kids, he issued an ultimatum about my 3 yo son. My son would wake in the night to go to the toilet, and this upset ex narcopath so much that he stated that I need to “step up my parenting, otherwise the relationship would be over.”

      I was proud my 3 yo would wake up to ask for help going pee, instead of just wetting the bed! That blew my mind. He was out of diapers and we had coslept until I moved in with ex. So big adjustments in his little world!

      Then ex became enraged because, while he was sleeping on the couch, my son would come to my bed, and we would snuggle for a few minutes before getting up to toilet, and ex would be screaming from the couch “he has his own bed!”.

      I would toilet my son and then lay in his bed with him for a few minutes until he fell back asleep, and heaven forbid I drift off to sleep, because I would awaken to ex screaming at me to get back in to “our bed”. As he is still on the couch.

      By the end, I was run ragged and sleep deprived. It was pure bliss to move out and not have to deal with him.

      And, ironically, my kids asked to cosleep again, and we did, and my son never got up to pee in the middle of the night since.

      I finally get a full nights sleep.

      • What a child-abusing POS! I hope he never gets a night’s sleep again. I’d love to call him at 3 am every night and yell “I have to pee!”

        • SO sorry you had to put up with that, particularly when the kiddo was really being wonderfully adult about his potty habits.

          Another ex boyfriend of mine used to come into the bedroom, when he knew I was fast asleep…I was a college student and also worked as a waitress, so sleep was a commodity.

          He would flip on the light, and come slam himself down on his side of the bed, slowly take his clothing off…look around…putz for a few minutes….go into the bathroom and take a shower (the light is still on in my bedroom)…blow dry his hair with the door open….and then come back into the room….

          and stand at the light switch staring at me while I would pretend to continue to be fast asleep.

          I didn’t catch on at first and would ask him nicely to shut it off…or I would get up and do it myself—which was the point—he wanted me up and awake and on edge.

          When I finally just pretended to be sleeping with Prince Valium or something…he became even more cruel about it. He moved to the second bedroom….

          and STILL did the whole light switch thing….but would simply leave the light on ALL. NIGHT.LONG. He would turn on my bedroom light…and go to bed in another room.

          Same guy also snapped at me one Saturday morning, after cleaning his house like a slave, folding his clothing, etc….I made myself a plate of salad and had just sat down to a brief lunch …he walked by me and said….

          “What do you think you’re doing??” (meaning, I was not permitted to stop working on his house and sit down to rest or eat)

          Not the proudest moments where I stayed in that “relationship” for 4 years, but I wanted to make it through school and get out…which I promptly did.

          Then he asked me to “date” him.

  • I don’t know if anyone posted about this, but I have to wonder if my ex created chaos because it kept him busy. I am never happier than when I am sitting quietly at home, enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee. I enjoy traveling and going out from time to time, but overall, I prefer the simpler and quieter aspects of life. Not true with my ex– he wanted to travel far more than I did, including after we had children when it wasn’t really practical; every home we moved into required massive renovations; he moved to the area where I am from because we were long-distance, and I wanted to be near my family. The whole “where will we live drama” was a constant supplier of chaos. I can’t tell you how many miserable, time-sucking arguments we had about that. He wanted to live in an expensive metropolitan area, and I enjoyed my much smaller and quieter area of the world. If where he lived truly meant more to him than what I think he used the drama for– a way to supply some exciting chaos– he would have broken up with me years ago before we got married and had children.

    He needed the chaos, and when traveling, home renovations, and location arguments lost their edge, he turned to cheating. I have always said that he would never truly be happy, and I hope that his next chapter in chaos does not focus on my children (though he’s already done plenty with that so far, probably in the hopes of dragging me into the drama and manufacturing more exciting chaos).

    • I just wanted to add that I’m not sure what he needed the chaos for. I can only speculate that, as someone who was raised in a very privileged environment and didn’t have to work for much, he was easily bored by life rather than grateful for what he had. To avoid the boredom, he sowed chaos.

      • It’s not just boredom they seek to avoid, it’s their own sick reality. They need a means to escape from their own disordered selves. Instead of facing and dealing with their problems, they need never-ending distractions so as not to have to think about them. Cheating is one and so are the changing of houses and jobs. Also the use of alcohol, drugs, porn or other distracting and high-producing elements. Heaven forbid they ever have to be still and quiet long enough to think about who they really are.

    • Yes, to avoid boredom and quietness. They can’t sit quietly with their thoughts–too dangerous for them I suppose. Probably why my ex needs the tv on at all times. My ex is a college professor and I learned over years to dread winter and summer breaks because he would become so bored, and it was always my job to keep him entertained. Even still, as we wrap up our divorce, I know that once Christmas and July 4th hit, I’m bound to see an increase in ridiculous communication from him.

      • OMG. I dated a guy, who did this television thing. He had purchased a tv for every. single. room. The kitchen was in full view of the diningroom…yet each had their separate tv sets.

        He kept all of them on, at the same time. If I turned one off, he would snap at me “I WAS WATCHING THAT!”

        And the going to bed to the pre-recorded “Judge Judy” and “Law and Order” shows. He would be literally snoring…and I would be so fatigued and I would finally just quietly turn it off…and he would snap wide awake and say “I CAN’T SLEEP WITHOUT THAT ON!”

        I finally stopped sleeping over at his house. Then I just dumped him. What a crazy person.

      • I had setup a filter on my email to forward emails from him to other people. I figured that boundary would help stop the ridiculous communication real quick. I wonder if there are any phone apps like this.

  • “It’s not my fault it rained. “He decided to start a construction/ destruction project opening part of the roof in western Washington in December. Now have a huge waterlogged hole in the living room and insulation “ snow” on the Christmas tree.

  • Apparently my cheater is a bit slow on the chaos…he’s creating it now, almost 2 years post divorce. They really f’ing suck! All of them.

    • Mine also was less chaotic during marriage–too much of a cheapskate to pull any of the antics described here–but in divorce…look out! It’s not uncommon for my lawyer and I to receive 6 texts and emails in one afternoon from him, all long and crazy making. He makes avoiding court very difficult. Unsure what these types hope to accomplish with all this craziness except some renewed centrality. And maybe that’s it–they get to occupy your time and attention once more and that’s enough for them.

      They love to make difficulty where none need exist.

  • Cheater used to say he thinks his life was too plain and wants more “drama” when we first started going out. Given we were 19 and 20 at the time I thought he meant “drama” as in overseas trip to see the world, have babies… “normal” drama. He tried the same tricks listed by CN, always blame the boss who don’t “appreciate” his work, injuries in sports… After 15 years of trying he has created the drama he’s after… star-crossed lovers with an evil wife who’s controlling, oh poor baby now he has depression and the OW “saves” him. *vomit*
    I guess it’s all about attention to feed his empty soul.

  • I think home renovation as an attempt to save a marriage is a whole thread of its own.

    I was watching ‘Grand Designs’ the other night, and I wondered if they followed up a few years later on those projects and found out how many of those couples were a) still married and b) still living in the Dream Home That Would Fix Everything.

    So often I watch the couple’s dynamics (slightly scary). That, plus the huge debts, plus the stress of living in a caravan or a shed or with relatives – it’s hugely chaotic. The finished houses are always gorgeous, but I am not sure they’ve really been worth it for the couple.

    I know more than one married couple who used home renovations as a Thing in Common, but I think it takes more than one Thing in Common to keep you together.

    • Oh, totally. The reno cheater is a thing and some of those HGTV couples give me that creepy feeling as well. My cheater created 3 solid years of home reno chaos with two houses around the same time he started cheating. They think it will prevent them from leaving the marriage as they will be in too much debt, and I imagine it often does, but that just makes them more resentful and mean to their spouses. It’s also used to distract you from what’s going on.

      I know a couple who admit they bought a house they can’t really afford so they would not be able to divorce. Yikes!

  • Just last week I recited “poor baby is sick” in a baby voice to keep from screaming, crying and possibly strangling the fucking moron I haven’t left yet while I cleaned up half a bladder of piss from around the toilet.

    I loved this post. It’s exactly my life. Chaos. Real or manufactured but always there.

    Always waiting for the next time……until you leave. I’m working on that.

  • Yip. This post resonates with me and my life with my cheater stbx. Thanks for illustrating and sharing stories of chaos.
    Mine always worked away not suited to the boredom of 9-5. Leave reappear repeat for 24 years. Various discarded toys briefly committed too with big plans. 3 bbq’s, 10 rusted server computers, 4 rusted pieces of gym equipment, 20 packets 1kg each of protein powder, an old car (collectors item), old ski boat, new motorbike in garage, bought another car last Xmas, bought another car and two dirt bikes in last 6 months. Even the Xmas tree he bought 13ft which he built once and requires me to build each year and move furniture. Always could not find things. Could never plan a thing as he is contracting and likes to be “spontaneous”. “Life is dull when you have the perfect life” he once said amongst so much other pathological lying and abuse. He had me a fun loving wife and our kids age 6 and 8 and all the toys he wanted. After kicking him out in April he would loose things and I would get the blame. Once he had the kids and lost something and raged blaming me and told kids tell your mother to get a babysitter. More recently he lost his passport and blamed me said I stole it and asked me 3 times to hand it over, he told kids I broke into his appartment at 3am while he was sleeping and took it. My daughter now 10 said mummy wouldnt do that daddy. He promised kids and permanent residency to his co- worker whore. I have a big mess to clean but it will be the last time. Dont miss doing his cleaning smoothing over upset kids with his lack of empathy and crumbs of love, smoothing over aggresive demands he gave kids teachers, my friends who thought he is rude not interested in them + his friends and family who he has also discarded. Total fucking chaos.

  • Yes, my cheater is always making chaos, my sister has cancer, my mom has mental illness, my dad lost his job, my company is downsizing, always something else to focus on but her multiple affairs.

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