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A Masterclass in Boundaries

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I confess I’ve got a thing for the HGTV show “Love It or List It.” It completely appeals to my chumpy, codependent senses — you take a hideous pile, see the potential, and then transform it into something beautiful and worthwhile.

Of course, this sort of transmogrification never works on humans. (Seriously, don’t fall for “potential.”) But it works just swell on living spaces.

For you non-North Americans, on “Love It or List It” a homeowner takes on a renovation project and has to decide whether to “love” the new design, or “list it” and move. The show pits the designer, Hilary Farr, against her co-host realtor, David Visentin.

It never really seems like a fair fight. Hilary is stuck with leaky basements, faulty wiring, and snotty homeowners who want granite on a Formica budget, while David swans about showing the ingrates stunningly unblemished move-in ready spaces.

But what I LOVE most about the show is the way Hilary takes no shit.

Seriously, forget the throw pillows, this woman could give a masterclass on boundaries. Hers are iron clad. A typical exchange goes something like this.

(Horrible, expensive, budget-derailing disaster is discovered. Hilary must deliver the bad news to the homeowners.)

Hilary: “While removing your staircase, we discovered your foundation is crumbling. And the paneling is made of asbestos. The septic tank is overflowing. And your deck was built on an ancient Indian burial ground.”

“I’m sorry, this means we cannot do the mudroom.”

Homeowner wife: “BUT I MUST HAVE A MUDROOM! It is ESSENTIAL to my existence! How COULD you, Hilary?! We gave you MONEY! We TRUSTED you!” Turns to her husband and hisses, “See, I told you we could never trust this limey bitch. That’s it. We’re getting a condo.”

Hilary stands taller, looks down her aquiline nose, and politely but firmly says, “When you told me your budget, I said you would have to prioritize. The mudroom can no longer be a priority.”

I cheer from my sofa for Hilary.

She doesn’t internalize their displeasure. She doesn’t accept one whiff of blameshifting. She stays positive and forward looking.

She states what she can do for them — and then she delivers it brilliantly.

Sometimes you can detect a little glint in Hilary’s eye after she’s withstood a blistering critique that seems to say, “You are an entitled git and I hope you are crushed under the weight of your granite island some day.” But she never lets on. She stays the course.

How did this woman get so mighty? I did a little internet sleuthing and discovered that Hilary Farr auditioned for “Love It or List It” right after coming out of a painful divorce.

Farr revealed her bitterness after a “horrible, horrible divorce” and resentment toward her ex-husband. It was then that she auditioned for Love It or List It. She “needed to deal with that anger,” and to “use it well to give her edge.” Farr “rocked the audition.” Now, five years later, she has filmed over 100 episodes as the show continues to draw viewers and fans, and she’s “met some crazy people” in the process.

In dealing with less-than-favourable individuals in shooting, Farr says she allows herself not to react and instead turns the anger into positive energy. “Love It or List It is a metaphor for all of us,” she says, “It’s about challenges in the home and rebuilding houses, careers and families.” She acknowledges how tough life can be and advises to deal with it by “turning ugly into beautiful, and a mess into a sanctuary.”

Does anyone else suspect Hilary might have left a cheater and gained a life? More than her ability to transform basements into sanctuaries, I admire her boundaries and her badass business acumen. Keep being mighty, Hilary!

Rerunning as a salute to Hilary. But she’s not the only boundary badass — CN is full of mightiness. Give the newbies your masterclass pointers!

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Someone once said, if you want to improve yourself, go to the biography section not self help.

    I love the way you show you can similarly education by watching good examples and you get the bonus of entertainment and maybe some practical knowledge on home remodeling and decorating to boot.

    • Agree! While going through the worst of this, I found comfort (distraction/inspiration??) in watching bio’s and documentaries. A very common thread is that so many of the most inspiring and incredible humans are those who’ve been through terrible hardships.

        • I found this quote from Frida Kahlo so inspiring.

          Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell
          by Marty McConnell

          leaving is not enough; you must
          stay gone. train your heart
          like a dog. change the locks
          even on the house he’s never
          visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
          you have an apartment
          just your size. a bathtub
          full of tea. a heart the size
          of Arizona, but not nearly
          so arid. don’t wish away
          your cracked past, your
          crooked toes, your problems
          are papier mache puppets
          you made or bought because the vendor
          at the market was so compelling you just
          had to have them. you had to have him.
          and you did. and now you pull down
          the bridge between your houses.
          you make him call before
          he visits. you take a lover
          for granted, you take
          a lover who looks at you
          like maybe you are magic. make
          the first bottle you consume
          in this place a relic. place it
          on whatever altar you fashion
          with a knife and five cranberries.
          don’t lose too much weight.
          stupid girls are always trying
          to disappear as revenge. and you
          are not stupid. you loved a man
          with more hands than a parade
          of beggars, and here you stand. heart
          like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
          heart leaking something so strong
          they can smell it in the street.

  • Thank you so much for this inspiring piece, Chumplady! Hilary is Mighty, she is a BadAss. Mightiness is the way forward for Chumps. I am working on it, moving ahead, thanks to you.

  • Hillary also played The Bride in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Looks even better now, 40+ years later. #FarrOut

  • WOW CL, you were drawn, from the start, to Hilary’s character.
    I do not know her or watch that show, but she sure is Mighty.
    It takes one to know one.
    Soul Sisters, YOU and Hilary!!

    Thank you for guiding so many new Chumps to becoming Hilary Chumps.
    AND, thank you, for all you do, for all Chumps.

  • There is no way to make an informed decision about whether to choose a person as a partner when they have a big warehouse of secrets and
    lies. So the best decision for me is to leave it!

    If you want a fixer-upper, buy a house. When it comes to choosing a partner, what kind of efforts are they putting into improving THEMSELVES?
    I thought because my STBX went to counseling with me that he was working on himself. It looks now to me like he was just sitting in the room counting the carpet fibers.

    Relationships have to work for BOTH of the people in it.

    Abuse doesn’t work for me.
    Lying doesn’t work for me.
    Cheating doesn’t work for me.
    Crummy communication skills doesn’t work for me.
    Unwillingness to learn long term relationship skills doesn’t work for me.
    Unkindness doesn’t work for me.
    Blameshifting doesn’t work for me.
    Avoiding issues and letting problems fester doesn’t work for me.
    Emotional immaturity/ignorance doesn’t work
    for me.
    Expecting me to read minds doesn’t work for me.
    Holding resentments doesn’t work for me.
    Passive aggression doesn’t work for me.
    Breaking agreements doesn’t work for me.
    Controlling the money doesn’t work for me.
    Being manipulated doesn’t work for me.
    Ignoring my expressed requests/needs/wants
    doesn’t work for me.
    Breaking promises doesn’t work for me.
    Failing to stick up for me doesn’t work for me.
    Untreated alcoholism/co-dependence doesn’t work for me.
    Treating me like a subordinate instead of an equal partner doesn’t work for me.
    Hypocrisy REALLY doesn’t work for me.
    Double-standards don’t work for me.
    Lack of compassion and empathy don’t work for me.
    Self-centeredness doesn’t work for me.
    Lack of generosity doesn’t work for me.
    A broken moral compass doesn’t work for me.
    Emotional and spiritual and moral bankruptcy
    doesn’t work for me.

    I could go on…..but you get the idea….

    • …years ago I desperately wanted a beautiful home that was built in 1927. When the 12-page pest report arrived, I lost my desire. There was no way to ascertain the extent of the termite damage without removing stucco, which the owners did not want to do. Remember Let’s Make A Deal With Monty Hall? Contestants choosing the box or what’s behind the curtain? When they chose the curtain and got the goat? Not too bad when you’re on a game show but a terrible picking strategy when it comes to life partners! If you can’t see the whole iceberg, steer clear and keep sailing!

      Unbeknownst to me, my STBX had a major pest
      report. Tear-down.

      Metaphor madness….my apologies!

      • Can we get pest report done on people???
        It would have saved me 20 years of investing into a money pit (him =user & taker) with no reward, shelter or protection from the man/house I loved.

    • Thank you Hammer, for great examples of boundaries. I’ve copied the list and will review it when I start to waiver.

      • Writing is an awesome healing tool. I could have added many more to that list but didn’t want to be a blog hog….!

    • If you see a dealbreaker, immediately leave.
      ….so many of my girlfriends SAW the dealbreakers and STUCK with their boyfriends and MARRIED/HAD kids…
      – alcoholic & DUI or Drugs….Dealbreaker
      – skipped out on Army & owes the recruiting bonus to government….Dealbreaker
      – cheated on ex….Dealbreaker
      – cheated on business, tax returns, stole from employer….Dealbreaker
      – can’t hold job, broke ass, fired from jobs…Dealbreaker
      – gambling too much…. Dealbreaker
      – doesn’t pay child support, ghost parent… Dealbreaker
      – uses wife and/or kids for $$, jobs, reputation…Dealbreaker
      – goes missing, lies, lives double lives….Dealbreaker
      …etc, etc. etc.

      • Meow, YES!

        I need to fix not only my picker but my LEAVER.

        Red flags are STOP SIGNS. We are not bulls in Pamplona!!

        • Yes! I said this to my sister recently (who although over 50) who is still participating in bad relationships. She keeps trying to convince me that I just got lucky with my husband. I reminded her that i dated for YEARS before we met. I said “Statistically Lisa, you and I probably meet about the same number of disordered assholes in life. The difference is that 15 years ago I learned to not spend any time with them after seeing they were assholes. You keep waking up next to them every morning lamenting that, oddly enough, today this guy is acting like an asshole.” The difference isn’t how many assholes or nice guys you meet, it’s spending time with people who continue to be jerks. Every minute you are wasting on an asshole is a minute you aren’t continuing the interview process that would allow you to meet a nice guy eventually.

          • I like this JoJo!! This is very helpful to me thank you…I mean of course it’s true but so good to be reminded 🙏🏻

          • It’s why I don’t get Affair Partners!
            They SEE he’s an ass. They’ll admit he’s a loser. And, they’ll admit they want to change him.
            Women with self confidence won’t date a married man….either they are losers or gullible chumps. I can see a married woman trying to keep her family together.

            • They (a.ps) can also be opportunists. Screwing the department head gets you special treatment – attention, gifts and money. It makes them feel special & powerful though they’re really just shitty people. It also gives them fodder to giggle about with their equally morally corrupt girlfriends. I was really blindsided. This was going on for several years & I didn’t even suspect it. It’s so sad that so many are okay with & even endorse this dispicable behavior. There’s obviously no thought or consideration of the damage on the other side of thier “fun folly.”

      • Meaw

        Issue arrives when they are “ perfect” on paper and their covert narcissism is very well hidden…
        Great job, taking care of family, volunteer, impression management to the x.

        Higher lever of mindfuckery… 🙁

    • I have the urge to print this out and turn it into a poster that will be the first thing I see when I wake up.

    • Velvet Hammer, that’s a great list. It’s all what doesn’t work for you, though. I would suggest rewriting it in the positive. What does work for you.

      Two years post divorce and I’m finally happy again, but I had to quit psyching myself out to avoid thinking about what I didn’t want, and start thinking about what I do want. Next step is convincing myself I’m worthy. Baby steps.

      • LisaLisa It’s been done!

        The above is the partial inventory of my marriage and why I don’t want to stay in it….

        😍

    • Wow, I can check off almost all of those issues, Velvet Hammer. So sad to see it all laid out like that, but at least now I have the chance to heal and move forward without all that awful treatment weighing me down.

    • Haha,ha. Looks like my recent inventory that took 3 or 4 sessions of 1-2 hours each to 5th step. The ‘old ideas’ list has not been closed as of yet as new ones keep coming to mind daily as I write my way out of the fog.

      A legal pad plus numerous writing tools sit within hands reach of me on most flat surfaces in my house thus I always have something close by to jot those suckers down on so they don’t go subterranean on me again.

  • The show’s set-up sort of embodies the two mindsets, doesn’t it?

    “Work with the ‘known’ to make something better” vs. “Walk away and start over with something new”

    There are times when each option is the better one — in housing, and in life.

    The problem, as we’ve all come to find out, is that some people will purposely and dishonestly sabotage the ‘known’ in order to move on to the something new.

    Therein lies the disorder — to cheaters, people are nothing but things, like a house, that serve a purpose. And when the purpose is no longer served to the cheater’s satisfaction, there are other options to be pursued.

    • And there are those who simply don’t want to do any maintenance work to make certain their house doesn’t crumble around them. They move into a perfectly good house, then destroy it, leaving holes in the walls, peeling paint, ignoring small leaks that turned into major mold problems later, and allowing intruding trees to grow up around the foundation, cracking and crumbling it.

      God forbid they do any actual work to keep their home, or marriage, in good working order. Sadly, when it becomes really damaged, they simply move on to the next “house”.

      • And while they’re aware of every crack and chink in the old house, they believe the new house is in pristine condition. Because – as we all know – everything looks great during the realtor’s walk-through. You don’t find out about the leaky basement or the loud morning traffic until you’ve lived in the new house for a while.

        Come to think of it, this isn’t even a metaphor: I like old houses with character, that may need a little fixing and don’t have all the latest appliances, but have beautiful quirks. XW likes brand-new construction, soul-less (IMO) and stark.

        • Love, Love, Love this analogy! I agree- older houses with character and a solid FOUNDATION are far more attractive than the cookie-cutter/cut-the-corners newer houses, without the love, sweat and tears. (Not ALL newer houses, but some!)

    • “The problem, as we’ve all come to find out, is that some people will purposely and dishonestly sabotage the ‘known’ in order to move on to the something new”
      Uxworld thanks for saying what I am experiencing at the moment. My STBXH loves to say we have trouble communicating. He seems to forget that giving me the silent treatment is him sabotaging any chance at fixing things. Funny how we didn’t have problems communicating for 20 years and now that I know he is a serial cheater we just can’t seem to communicate. Ugh!

    • That’s how I felt. I felt like an old reliable pair of shoes that feet the feet and do the job but were starting to show signs of wear. Those new shoes over there sure did shine and the old ones looked shabby by comparison. Those new shoes made him feel like a new man. I hope they give him blisters.

    • Bingo! That’s exactly what my cheater did. He sabotaged our marriage to have an excuse to walk away from it. But his AP wasn’t actually interested in being his way out, but was just using him for attention, so he got stuck, and punished me for it.
      Thank you for that reminder of his suckiness. Every day, this site helps to firm my resolve to never give anyone the chance to hurt me again.

  • I love your comparison. I’ve taught Upholstery classes for over ten years. After four sudden family deaths, 1st betrayal discovery, a few years trying to patchit up, then 2nd betrayal discover and finally the much needed divorce, I can’t go back to simply teaching Upholstery. I’m working on shifting my craft into a metaphoric hands on tool for Re Covery. (Haha! Get it?)
    These life events have changed me for the better. I have to at least try to help others discover a helpful tool to wade through the sludge.
    I’m so happy you posted this. Thank you.
    What do you all think? A tangible way to get all of the thoughts out of your head and use your hands to repair, rebuild, repad, and reupholster a beat up, tattered old chair to transform it into a beautiful showstopper.

    • I would sign up! For one thing, you have to evaluate the substrata of the chair/sofa to decide whether it’s worth your time and effort to re-upholster. I can see that as a whole class session.

    • Shelly,
      WOW do I understand how you feel! The last Boy Scout and I have run our own Remodeling and Design business for 25 years. I have been a designer for the same amount of time. I completely threw myself into it! Damn I was mighty, for the first time ever I was doing things I didn’t know ahead of time I could do. It’s one thing to design a project, it’s an entirely different thing to do the work! He is so good at what he does and I learned so well from him. Plumbing, Electric, Drywall, Framing, Painting….When our bottom dropped out in 2008, we we’re doing 3 million dollar homes and went to Architectural Digest, I couldn’t believe it…..Now? I work for Home Depot in flooring. Lost everything that I was for along time. This was the only job I could get. I have no heart left for this as I have come to realize all I really was/am is FREE labor. I can’t hardly stomach it anymore. The depths this goes is really bad. He was my Hero and I bought every bit of it. Desire is something I don’t care to feel anymore.

  • Thanks for rerunning this! I missed it the first time!

    To the newbies: stay the course! You CAN do it! And you WILL do it! My ex was an abandonment cheater. Left for the affair partner without even looking back. Eventually married her, has a new baby girl. He left me with a special needs daughter. In the six years he’s been gone, I rebuilt. Bought my own home, still have my horse, and my business is growing and thriving!
    DON’T GIVE UP!!! There is a better life on the other side!! If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be this: invest in a kick ass lawyer AND buy Tracy’s book! Today!!!

  • Yes, use the anger to drive you. To propel you into a new fabulous life. It can also make you do daft things but that’s only to be expected. Show their sorry asses you don’t require them anymore, they are discarded.
    If you get the dirty done on you it shows them up as being the piece of dirt. Anger can be overwhelming and suffocating but try to find a release even if it’s to spite them – make yourself look fabulous, decorate your home, go out for meals. I love eating out knowing that he is paying for it! I get smug satisfaction.

  • I met and married Cheater very young and I hate people arguing that their relationship commitments are disposable simply because they were young. I was 21 when I said vows and I held to them, dammit.

    So I scoff at 99% of the “but we were young” crap

    BUT

    When it comes to getting addicted to his potential, I think our youth contributed to my later dysfunction.
    In college, everyone is a wild jumble of potential…people live in dorms and study. People in his school didnt even own cars until Senior year. Figuring out who would be good mates in homeownership, career, moving, kids, getting the oil changed – it was all conjecture.

    Not long ago, I went to my HS 35 yr reunion and I was struck that a guy I knew in HS…who got his GF pregnant were they were like 19 turned out to be one of the best dads and husbands I ever saw. They married and the guy worked for his dad and supported his family and worked his way up and is one of the most stand-up guys I ever saw. My Cheater got into a prestigious university and looked like he would blow past Teenage-Dad-Guy by a long shot. I never dated TDG but I had interior thoughts when I briefly spoke to him that I seriously picked wrong.

    Similarly, I knew now-husband as kids and if you had asked me then if he would be the best of the bunch, I would have said “no way”…he had a chum who back them seemed so smart and poised and he is now a bit of a trainwreck…my nowhusband was a goofy little boy who grew up and done good.

    “Potential” is a tricky thing. When does one look at what is there and say “This did NOT go as I had hoped”. Love it or list it, indeed.

    • It gets so much easier when you’re older, you can assess a man/ woman in a minute also from their history leading to present. When you’re younger there isn’t that much to judge from and hence ‘choice’ is not completely applicable.

      • VERY good point! I met my (Cheater) EXH when I was 19 years old. I was so impressed then. As we “grew up” together, I realized I was “growing up”, but his once “cute” traits became immature and more like arrested development in his 40’s. After 2 years of reflecting, it dawned on me… if he “applied for the job (of spouse) today, would he pass the test?” The answer is NOOOoooooooooooooo.

    • Omg so true! A mutual friend (who also dated my ex in their youth) told me that my ex was getting 6 figure job offers right out of college, but that he declined them all to start his own company. I guess everyone was envious of his bright and shiny future back then. Well the company he started failed miserably, the investors tricked him into signing a contract that allowed them to seize control and he lost everything. I found out a couple years after I left him that he was actually saddled with a million dollars worth of debt to the state. I had no clue! Thank god I did not marry him! But what a huge fall from the genius with so much potential to the guy who married an alcoholic and is essentially unemployed.

    • Is it character to look for when they are young? I’m trying to give advice of value to my daughter about the young man she is seeing and I keep going back to character.

      I wish someone had told me that when I was young – or did they think I should have known?

    • Unicornomore- I agree with this wholeheartedly. I married at 22- after 3.5 years of dating and the blessings of our families. He was smart, hardworking, kind and humble- and came to church with me every week. I though we would make it through every storm. People with integrity issues or seeds of personality disorder can hide it for years. Real life stress and responsibility can make some people mature and wise. Then the less strong taker can lean on that responsible spouse too much. They sometimes “need” to make impulsive, stupid to feed the ego of their youth and justify and manipulate to remain the innocent one.

      I’m not going to be fooled again because now there is a trail of a life to look at. Today my ex is underemployed- lost great jobs for lying at work and cheating and he is still using women- and another one left him after 3 years. I’m not his cover anymore and it’s all hanging out.

      There’s a great post from CL where people explain this was going to happen to us- and many could never have seen it coming. The projection management is just that good and we were sold a great house with a clean termite report when we married, but the infestation was just really hidden.

      Boundaries and Velvet Hammer’s list are the takeaways for me today!

  • Thank goodness. I was doing a refresher reading on boundaries and codependency today, and it’s so clear.

    If you have spent your whole life hiding behind other people, it’s scary when you have to get a life, because this involves finding out who YOU are. You get to explore your own asbestos, leaking pipes, and wobbly foundations. It’s not always flattering or fun, but it really helps with the renovation.

    I had dinner tonight with a wonderful lady who has had a painful rebuild after being discarded late in life. Most of the adult children sided with the Fun Parent who has enthusiastically moved on, so she described herself now as in the process of detaching from them.

    They are still her children, but they have shown her who they are, and she has listened and believed them. The door is open for future communication, but she is not at their beck and call, and she has refused to attend family events which are just too painful for her.

    They are longtime spacklers and think she’s being unreasonable, but she’s maintaining her boundaries and blossoming as a result.

    It is scary for her to let go of her old identity, and step back from their lives, to face who she really is as a human being standing under the sun, faults and all. But she’s thrown herself into the challenge. I am so proud of her.

    Another masterclass in boundaries.

  • Thanks to CL’s recommendation, I am a huge “Love it or List it” fan. I love how Hillary gives David a hard time throughout the show and takes no crap off the clueless homeowners.

    I recently watched the very first episode and Hillary has her sharp wit even then.

  • Apparently I was the fixer upper. Of course he didn’t tell me that when we got married. I thought he loved me for who I was but it seems he loved me for my perceived potential. Alas, I was unable and in some cases unwilling to change in the ways he desired. It hurt to find out that he never actually loved me. I am lucky that I love me enough that I wasn’t willing to sell my soul to him. I wouldn’t want to be the person he wanted me to be. It’s better for him to have found somebody new who’s soul is already twisted to suit his tastes.

  • Yes! Hilary is awesome. You can tell you’re a chump when you watch the show and start to feel uneasy for Hilary as her demo team uncovers the bad news that she’ll eventually have to relate to the often childish owners.

    It’s truth. It’s reality. And if anything, it’s probably the owners’ own fault. But you feel hesitant and maybe even somehow responsible imagining how you’d break the news to them. Chump. Then Hilary hits em with it square on, no nonsense (given or accepted). Yes, she’s probably been cheated on. She entertains no BS, probably sees it all as related in type, if not degree, to the BS her cheater tried to inflict.

    But her best quality, and the best part of the show, is her absolute genius for rehab and design. What she produces out of nothing is incredible.

    • “But her best quality, and the best part of the show, is her absolute genius for rehab and design. What she produces out of nothing is incredible.”

      If only she was able to perform the same remarkable transformations with our cheaters!
      I for one would cast a vote in favor of electing her “Queen of the Universe!” 😉😆

  • Here is my boundaries advice. Truly moving on means just that. You move on. For real. You hold people accountable for their shit and you own your own. And you fix your own. I want to live like I never met the bastard.

    Here’s something Hillary would agree on. If you keep the house, and you hear a water drip, fix it before it becomes a flood. Get real about savings and an emergency fund and literally what kind of plumbing, heating, electrical your house has. Yes, emotionally, but also LITERALLY. Have an emergency kit. You are ALONE now. Really on your own. And you can’t literally afford to be helpless or hopeless or not be the adult.

    Spoken from someone who has scraped together change to buy a PEX pipe capoff and crawled under her house a few too many times. Boundaries are for you too. Make good financial decisions and don’t budge from them because you are sad and want to buy things that are fun. You know hat’s fun? No debt. You know what’s soothing? Hiring a real plumber.

    • Amen! And pick your men the same way. You know what’s sexy? Safe and warm. You know what sparkles? A man that thinks a 401K is a better retirement investment than hookers. You know what’s exciting? Knowing that when he says he is working overtime, he actually is and there will be more resources to pour back into you life together–not an STD.

      • Amen. And it’s not gender specific. Straight male chumps, giving to a spendthrift woman till it hurts is not being a good provider. It’s being a chump. You deserve better.

  • I’m in the midst of another painful “relationship” that is not working for me— my job and maybe my career — I’m a lawyer. I spent all of 2018 in the equivalent of bad marriage counseling — with a career coach who was ineffective and at the end gaslit and blameshifted. At work, I get a lot of money, which feels essential after the discard and abandonment by X after 26 years together, and the terror of the divorce and having my budget reduced by 6x in the mix, but at work I am mistreated (ignored, yelled at frequently, gaslit, blamed, have no support to do the actual work, and my needs are irrelevant). There is almost or no possibility of a future here. Spackle? Hopeium? I feel stuck and extremely, even clinically, burned out but what to do? Quit/leave it? Find a way to stay/love it? I went to EMDR trauma therapy for 3 months last fall to get tools to stay/“love”/bear the job. It didn’t help. I’m barely holding on and have even had suicidal ideation as the result of this. 27 years of sunk costs/investment in this career path. Writing this makes me see the parallels between this and my marriage. It all seems to point to some major childhood traumas I suffered: narcissistic alcoholic abusive parents, sexual/emotional/physical abuse from age of 2, dad dropped dead in front of me as a young teen, losing my home when narc mom kicked me out of house at 16. Terror that still feels real. I’ve had years of therapy but I find myself in another Love It/Leave It situation with no clear path….. I feel like I need to leave it, take a long-term break to heal and then decide what work I want to do, what makes my heart sing, with people who are healthy or at least not abusing me. I’m saving every penny to try to make that a reasonable possibility but fear is holding me back …. fear of being destitute…. it’s irrational but it’s there. 😫😫😫😫

    • Motherchumper my heart goes out to you.
      Please dont give up on yourself and your life! Life has dealt you an incredibly shitty hand but against the odds you have kept going. To me that shows you have immense inner strength and perseverance. More than you realize.
      You are a lawyer, currently in a work situation that sucks. This situation doesn’t define you as a person, it’s not who you are and the good news is that it means that it is something you can walk away from. It won’t be easy but you already know how to walk away from a shit situation and survive.
      You got this!! Trust YOU!

    • You definitely need to leave. I was in a similar work situation which was very much as you describe. I spackled for years while simultaneously being put down by my ex at home (and I spackled that too). It is a wonder I had any sense of self worth left at all between my ex and my boss. I got double whammied at work and at home. It was hard not to think it was just me. The only things that kept me going in my job were the fact that the boss was a Dick (truly, his name was Richard and he used that nickname) to everyone not just me and some of the clients who praised my work so I didn’t feel like a complete loser. The one good thing about my ex’s insistence that we move half way across the country to satisfy his whims (which still didn’t make him happy) was that I got a new job where I am valued, appreciated and respected. It makes such a difference. Too bad it didn’t make the ex value me any more.

      The question for you is, do you hate your job or do you hate your career. If it is just the job, perhaps you can change jobs. Someone with all of your years of experience would likely be able to find a new job somewhere else in the current job market (not sure what it looks like for lawyers right now but the job market seems to be hot in a lot of other professions). You can use your experience with your ex and your job to ask the right questions and find a better fit for you in terms of work climate.

      If you are no longer happy with your career in general and you feel that working for another firm is just going to be the same shit in a different location no matter where you go, then you have a bigger nut to crack. Before you leave you will need to do some serious research and reflection to determine what you would rather do and come up with a plan to make it happen. There may be other careers that can still make use of your skills in general (maybe mediation?). You might have to start over but at a higher level and a stronger base skill set than someone younger.

      Either way you need to get out of the situation you are in now as it is only dragging you down. Good luck.

    • MotherChumper99, it sounds terrible. Hang in there. I found the work of Liz Ryan and the Human Workplace very helpful and inspiring — to me she is the ChumpLady of career advice! (I hope her group isn’t the one that mistreated and did not help you!) There are tons of stories out there of people who found ways to put their skills and experience to work for them in brand new ways. I wish you the best and good luck.

    • Your situation is appalling; I can definitely relate as I’ve lived through a couple of employment sieges like that.

      Is there any way you could find a more congenial law firm? Surely all partnerships are as toxic as this particular one??

      If you’re good at what you do, and you like what you do, find another position at another firm.

    • You should be able to find another workplace that isn’t so toxic. You might have to take a cut in pay, but surely it will be worth it. It sounds like work stress is making being chumped even worse. EMDR isn’t going to do much if you’re still in a toxic relationship with your job. All the toxic shit has to go, not just the cheater. Sorry you’re going through this.

      I’m in the situation of being unable to work and dependent on my half of the cheater jerk’s income. It’s a precarious position, because he could just decide leave his job and run off to parts unknown.

    • Gosh with your career experience could you not apply to work at another firm? When you have tried everything like you have and it’s still making you sick it is time to take a chance and leave! No job is worth your health.

        • I just wanted to add something I recently listened to. It was a podcast in Overwhelmed Brain and they talked about commitment and decisions. One question he asked was… “if you only had one week to live what would you do?”. It was a simple question really but complex because what would you do? What would you decide? Just thought I should share and hope you are able to figure out your life path. If you know you have a choice to leave, because you do, would that be the job/relationship you want for yourself? Xo

  • Your anger can be one of your most powerful gifts! I was so angry at the beginning of my divorce and discard that the only thing I could do to manage my fury was to go to very loud spin classes and punish the spin bike. I was overweight, out of shape, unhealthy, humiliated, horrified, traumatized and despairing but I was also so furious I just quit worrying about what other people thought of me and what I thought of myself and I plopped my soft rear end on a bike saddle and literally worked my ass off. Unbeknown to me, I soon caught the attention of my instructor who one day introduced me to her boss and before I knew it, I had a job as a cycling instructor. Me! A quiet middle aged woman who’d disliked exercise and had no time for it when she was married because she had the propping up of her disgusting cheater to deal with was now shouting affirming things from a teaching platform like, “use that pain!”, and “what matters to you most is at the top of this climb so you better damn well get there.” Once I realized how I’d done something I’d only fantasized about before (I always envied women who were in shape and dreamed what it might be like to be one) I remembered I once dreamed long ago in college (right before I met the cheater) about becoming a yoga teacher. Again, I wasn’t EVER flexible, my body shape is kindly described as “sturdy” and now here I was daydreaming about arm balances and back bends. But because I was angry, I was like “why the hell not? Those warrior poses might help me kick his ass.” So I took a zillion classes, trained and became a yoga teacher who can balance on her arms and nearly do a full split. Then my effort grew again into becoming a personal trainer and then that grew to becoming a mind/body health coach and now I have my own business, my own home, a seriously successful relationship with a fellow chump, many new friends and, most importantly, I have my power back and working for me.

    Anger can ignite a blaze of burning effort and drive a spirit to shine even when suffering immense pain. Through anger we can develop strength in body, mind and character. We can grow courageous and wise and we can become direct and hold fast to our integrity. Turning ugly to beautiful is possible! Be encouraged fellow chumps and fan that angry flame into a fire of purpose.

    • Yes! And good for you! I did something similar but with my education. Turns out, when you pair with a soul-sucking fuckwit you end up sacrificing your own potential. I had no idea what I was capable of because he had held me back (or, more accurately, I had held myself back trying to please him) for so many years, and I’m so grateful to be finding out now.

    • No Rain No Flowers,

      Thank you for your inspiring post. Using your anger to do something constructive and that you’ve never done, is the way home to yourself.

      Each difficulty and challenge met with determination and persistence can be building blocks for your new life foundation.

      Aggressive cancer was my challenge to overcome while going through highly contentious divorce with serial cheater X.

      I channeled my anger into will; not only to survive but thrive. Every surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment was an opportunity to fold or muscle through. This was the foundation of my new cheater-free and cancer- free life. I knew X would love receiving news of my not making it. It was up to me to use my sheer will, grit and truth and not fold.

      It’s been 3 years since final DD and 2 since divorce final. While I’m still in cancer treatment, I’m 1-year NED and now on 6-month checks/maintenance treatments. I’m currently living in Bali for 3 months, am happy and feel great. I worked for almost 40 years and had never really solo travelled.

      Boundary setting, making myself and my health a priority and re-building brick-by-brick, from the 34-year cheater ruble and debris, led me to health and vitality. On DD I couldn’t have imagined being here; yet here I stand.

      Stand tall, firm and proud CN!

  • Help, fellow Chumps. Help me get to Mighty.

    I have a 7 year old with my cheater. D day was 10 months ago, with the usual nightmare: he’s her boss, she’s 17 years younger, and a free spirit (read: married in an “open” relationship and is sleeping with half the office). I only found out cause she ended things with him and he got sad.

    My head has been working on exit strategies but my heart keeps derailing every good plan I put in place. I want to leave the cheater, but my body screams against leaving my child. I live for my son. No way around it though, if I leave the cheater I will have to share custody and miss half of my sons life. Just the thought of having to go days without seeing him makes me breakdown. I don’t know how to survive the reality of that situation.

    I want more for me, the possibility of being with a real and honest partner. But the cost is being with my son.

    • Dear Fearful & Loathing, Here’s your friendly 2×4….your son is watching and learning about relationships from YOU. What are you teaching him? Imagine his future relationships ie he’s either the cheater or the chump. Is that what you want FOR HIM?

      Yes, it sucks greatly to lose time with your child, but you must do what is in his best interest, and your own, long term. We’ve all been there, it’s hard. But you must value yourself and your child enough to make a stand and get out of a bad situation. You can do this! (((((Hugs)))))

    • F & L, I second what snowflake says; it is far better for your son to spend half his time in a healthy, loving household, where people care for and about each other, than to watch you eat that shit sandwich every day. If your son’s personality is more like your own, you’re raising a new Chump, someone who will let themselves be walked over, again and again, in multiple areas of their lives. If he’s more like his dad, you’re raising another selfish, unempathic asshole.

      And don’t necessarily assume you’ll only have him half the time. I live in a jurisdiction that defaults to 50-50 time split between parents, unless there’s been serious abuse OF THE CHILD. This was one of the things that kept me from leaving when my ex threatened my physically (very, very convincingly) when the kids were 8 and 9. But when I kicked him out when I found out about Affair #2 3 years later, I knew the kids were of an age to have some say in how much time they would spend w/each parent, and were getting close to being able to absolutely choose on their own. Since 80% of their care had always been on me, he’d been doing an MBA that meant he spent even less time w/them than usual over the previous 3 years, and he’s a crabby, moody asshole, I figured they would choose to spend more time w/me. And if they didn’t, I would suck it up.

      But he NEVER ASKED for 50-50. He quickly accepted about 15% of the kids’ time, then within a year reduced that to a day-and-a-half, every two weeks, so he could go live in Shmoopieville. MANY MANY cheaters do this, ESPECIALLY if you suggest that the child support they pay be what it would at 50%, but that the kids ‘could be w/you when he’s busy’. MANY cheaters start w/a certain amount of time w/the kids, then start cancelling days, dropping the kids back early, picking them up late, postponing weekends ….. And the Chump ends up w/a much better split.

      So if you haven’t already, talk to a good family lawyer. Find out what the laws and usual practices are in your jurisdiction, figure out whether you could decline child support or take less than required if you go more time w/your son, think hard about whether your cheater will actually want to, you know, parent.

      And even if you have to do 50-50, that will preserve your health and sanity, and be better for your son than what you are living now.

      Check the forums on these topics, lots of excellent advice and lived experiences shared there.

      • I’ve collected legal advice, and am in a no fault state. He’s pretty involved as a parent and would go after 50/50. We have a united front parenting wise so our son doesn’t see anything. He can sense I’m upset though and you are right that the strain on my mental health is going to start impacting him.

        Cheater won’t leave “his house” and “his family” so I’m going to have to be the one to file and move out. I’m terrified my son will see that as me abandoning him.

        • Can’t you get a court order to compel him to leave? Or just take your son with you to your new place? Also, don’t kid yourself that he’s seen nothing. Kids see more than we think. He’s very likely seen you being treated like you don’t matter, Fearful. If he hasn’t yet, he will. The marriage is a toxic environment for your son as well as for you.
          You could also threaten to expose your cheater at work and with everyone he knows if he doesn’t leave. Is he on Facebook? You can tell your story there on a private page, show it to him, and say you’ll make it public if he doesn’t piss off out of your life and agree to give you the lion’s share of time with your son. I got my cheater to buy me a new house that way and hand over the family car while he has to live in a cheap apartment. 😄 Worth a shot? Your cheating bastard of a husband deserves those kind of tactics. No more Mrs. Nice Guy. It’s neccesary to be cold and calculating with these jerks.

          • Work is his whole identity, and I admit I often have revenge fantasies of exposing his “indiscretions ” to his boss. Lawyer advised against it as it could impact a settlement. Also I’d have to claim some type of abuse to get him out of the house. The crappy apartment appears to be in MY future. It’s hard to keep it together and not expose him.

            That public shame is the only card I have so I’m holding on to it for the divorce negotiations. I don’t want the house anyway, just want my cut, and my kid to stay in the same school. All the stuff is tainted anyway; let him live with and clean up the decade of crap we’ve collected.

            I’m just scared to start. I’m gutted at the thought of having to make this real for my kid. I’ve stood in front of it for nearly a year thinking I can do one more day if it gives my son one more day of a happy intact childhood. But the days drag on and i feel like a liar. I’m complicit in cheaters lie and betrayal because I’m lying to my son by pretending everything is all right.

            • This is your key to shifting your head space. Your son doesnt have a “happy intact childhood”. He has a lie, where fear is stopping him from being able to grow up with real character. Maybe it’s time to find your mighty self hiding under the fear, and show your son how strong you are?

            • Trust that the people offering advice here really know.
              I’m only 2 months from d day, and still hoped something could be worked out.
              But it seems to me that infidelity is a dealbreaker for anyone who wants to be able to relax. Staying with the cheater is like waiting for the next trauma. Stressful and unfulfilling.

              Thry seem to repeat the behaviour. Because if they get away with it once,it means it’s ok.

              I wish there was a better answer.

      • True cheaters have other priorities that are already splitting their time and often let the chump take on most of the child care. They’ll demand their time in the beginning and try to be super dad(or mom) but when that doesn’t produce the desired kibbles from the kiddos they’ll back off in search of better kibbles elsewhere. They want immediate reward for any perceived effort on their part.

    • Damn, that’s pure hell. But ultimately your son will be the better for you teaching him that women don’t have to take shit from men. If you continue to take it, he learns being emotionally abusive to his future spouse is normal and acceptable. Your cheater will do it again. He will treat you horribly. Your son will see it and model himself after his father. You don’t want that.

    • Plenty of people stay until their child is 18. Totally your call as long as there is no physical abuse or emotional battering going on. Only you know what is right for you.

  • Motherchumper, I feel your pain and sorrow and despair. The sunk costs with marital betrayal and say, hitting a glass ceiling and suffering from horrible treatment after so many years of putting your heart and soul into your career, are excruciating to bear. I wish you could work for yourself, dump the corporation and help chumped women get badass divorces from cheaters.
    I am so impressed that you became a lawyer after such childhood abuse. So many chumped people could use your help. What kind of law do you practice?

  • February is beginning to feel like “boundary enforcement month”.
    A simple check-in: when my alleged “loyalty” is blocking my ability to look at a situation with (work, parenting, friendships, family, fillintheblank) honestly, there’s something rotten in the boundaries fridge.
    No self-shaming/loathing as a workaround, it’s time to softly give myself a hug, get the trash/recycle lined up, and go clean it up- big girl panties style.
    Ps: a wireless Bluetooth “jam” speaker to unleash powerful music is a bonus.

  • Does it ever get better CN!?

    I recently saw an message between by stbxh and his howorker about her wanting cuddles from him. Made me want to fucking puke. How can this bitch be ok with what she’s doing, like WTF. And him to! How do you just walk out on your wife and kids!!!! Not to mention he cheating while I was pregnant and then I found out after I gave birth!!!!! And this whore knew the whole time!!!!!!

    I’ve posted on here often, and I know they aren’t worth my energy, but sometimes it fucking burns my soul to know that he did this to us, and she is so willing to still be with him!!!!! Doesn’t she see that a man that can do this to his family is not a man at all!? She’s such a fucking whore! I hate them so much!

    I already filed and have recently told hom that he does not exist anymore, so I have not spoken to him in a few days! I plan to keep it this way until the divorce is final. He went off his fucking rocker, I was terrified for my kids well-being. Since I told him he no longer exists to me, he’s decided to not come home for almost the past week, like he’s throwing a tantrum. Well I have not reached out not even once! It bothers me that fucking around with his whore is more important than seeing his children!!!!! I want to fucking shake him back into reality!

    I want their “relationship” to fucking crumble I want her to feel deep pain. Since she goes on about her life all happy and smiles, not giving a fuck about the heartache she’s causing and the home she helped destroy and the innocent kids involved! Don’t worry I think he’s fucking scum too.

    Someone help me out of this fucking agony! I HATE it! I hate this I hate him I hate her I hate everything. I just want to be fucking happy!!!!! He says he has no idea why I’m so upset with him! Are you fucking kidding me!!!!!!! Who is this person!? He can’t be the man I married!

    It’s killing me that they spend time together enjoying life completely unaffected by the pain they’ve caused and the lives they destroyed! I’m not a spiteful person but I really pray the universe fucks them both hard!

    • What you are waiting for is them to grow souls. And that IS futile. It won’t happen. There is just an empty space where real human emotions go. He and she SEEM happy. But, they aren’t really. They aren’t because these skin suits do not feel the way that real people do. Be grateful that you have finally seen the monster hiding under the skin suit and can run away from it. Do not feed it. Do not make it central. Do not expose your real feelings and vulnerabilities to it. Here is the hardest lesson in dealing with these bastards : HE NEVER REALLY LOVED YOU. OR YOUR KIDS. If he had, none of this would have happened. He never loved you because he is incapable of love. Once you really believe this, it gets easier to move on.

      • You’re so right I am waiting, but people who can do this probably don’t have souls. I am trying so hard not to feed his ego, and not allow him to know the pain I’m feeling. Sometimes it’s very hard. You’re right he probably never really loved me, but it’s hard accepting that. Sometimes I wonder if I would have done this or that maybe he wouldn’t have cheated, but I did EVERYTHING for him so I don’t think anything would have stopped him.

        • A good life lesson that applies to everyone not just Romantic partners: people do what they want to do. If they want to prioritize you and the kids, they will. If that friend wants to see you, they will clear some time. If they want to go to therapy, or quit drinking, or get a degree they will. This is true of stuff both good and bad. If they want to gamble, they will. If they want to fuck hookers, they will. Don’t buy any other explanation. My cheaters were “too busy” at work to take me on a date–but had plenty of “dates” with prostitutes I know a guy whose wife “just didn’t feel comfortable” holding his hand in public–but was pretty comfortable giving her boss blowjobs in the front seat of a honda. For awhile, I had a “friend” who just never had time to get together. But I started paying attention and it turned out she had time for all kinds of hobbies, fun events, etc. She just only called me when she needed something. People do what they want. If they want to make time for you they do. Anything else is an excuse. If they fuck other people it is because they wanted to. Plain and simple. Never let them blameshift with “But I was unhappy. You didn’t fold laundry correctly. We never had time without kids. You ignored me by not making lasagna when I wanted it.” Well guess what? You were in a marriage (the same one!) where I am sure not every little whim you wanted happened, not every single desire you had was satisfied–and you did not go fuck strange. Because it is not who you are. You didn’t want to blow up your family, so you didn’t. People do what they want to.

          • Wow that is so true. It really is that simple. People do what they want to do. The simple explanation is he wanted to fuck her so he did and continues too. You’re right those are the excuses he used! It was never enough. I was in that same marriage with him and never once did I want to fuck someone else because I wasn’t getting every whim I wanted answered. It’s called being an adult. He’s doing want he wants, he’s doesn’t know how to be anything but selfish.

            • Big hugs Heartbroken. I so understand. I loved my husband to the moon and back. I never once wanted another man. Even today, the thought of a man touching me makes me slightly sickened.

              Jojobee is right – if your husband truly loved you, none of this would be happening. I firmly believe this will all my heart. If he truly loved his children, he would be thinking about them and not himself. They just don’t fucking care and probably never did.

              This is so hard and painful to get past. It takes time, patience, lots of tears and understanding of what really happened, the understanding and acceptance that he is a fuckwit.

              My neighbor lost her husband after a physical altercation with a suspect while on duty. He was a town marshall. He had a massive heart attack and died on the scene. They had just celebrated their 27th anniversary and went to Disney World. They were planning their second trip and they made me sick.(smiles). They were so much in love. A year after he died, my kind neighbor and I were talking. She told me that she didn’t know she could be in that much pain and still be alive. She lost her everything.

              That’s the pain and it will get better. The scar will always be there but the heartache will slowly dissipate. Im just over 9 months out and I still have my bad days. They aren’t as bad as those first few months.

              We wanted better from people who couldn’t or wouldn’t give it to us. This is your chance to have that better life. Going back to that will never be better.

              • Thank you! I’m sorry you went through that too. It’s so hard when we love them so much, and they love us so little. I guess we can take from this and learn an important lesson. I will never let allow someone to treat me like this ever again!

    • I wish I could give you a hug and make it all better right now. I have felt exactly what you are expressing. I still feel that way now sometimes and it makes me sad and/or mad, but it isn’t the acute pain it used to be and those episodes are further and farther between. Time and no contact are what will get you through but it will still be a long journey with many ups and downs. Some days you will be fine and then suddenly something will happen to trigger your pain all over again (seeing a text, catching a glimpse of them together on back to school night or some such). I know hearing all of that isn’t going to make you feel better now because it didn’t make me feel better back then but maybe it will keep you going and give you something to hope for (even if Karma never does strike as we all wish it would). Don’t get discouraged. Keep plugging along and work on gaining your life whenever and however you can. Allow yourself to feel your pain, but don’t let it keep you from moving forward. You are better than they are. They are scum. The rest of the world might not know it but you do (as does everyone here at Chump Nation) and that will have to be enough. As tough as it is you have to view this as “not a contest”. You need to work on living the best life you can without focusing on them at all. How happy they are in spite of their vileness needs to be irrelevant to your life. There are plenty of happy shitty people out there who do not deserve to be happy. It doesn’t matter, they are still shitty and you are better off being you. You can have a good life in spite of them. Don’t let your happiness depend on their misery. Hang in there and good luck.

      • Thank you, It’s true, it should be irrelevant to my life. I need to focus on rebuilding my life without him in it. It’s just hard sometimes because I cannot wrap my head around why someone would ever do this to another person. I guess you it’s just a lesson that I will have to experience so that in the future I can hopefully find someone who will love me, the way I deserve to be loved.

        • #1: You’re on the thick of it so obsessing over this stuff is normal. Please know that. Let me validate your frustration and obsession. I feel you.

          #2: You may be focusing on too many things. You’re wanting to find someone who will love you the way you deserve to be loved (ok, good goal), but that’s a long-term destination. Your first stop is getting him out of your life as much as possible, and the best way to do that is to stop asking why he is the way he is and start taking actions to get him the F out for good. I recommend just looking at the very next stop right now. Put all your energy into that.

          #3 Happiness comes when our actions, words, thoughts, and values align. If one is off, happiness suffers. Let your values lead. You’re not a spiteful person yet you’re spending a goodly amount of time wishing ill will on others. I mean, that’s natural to do in your circumstances, but it won’t make you happy. It took me a minute to realize this and work to get there–and it’s not linear, there are setbacks, but when I started thinking and speaking my truth that came from my value system, and then lived that truth, then I got happy.

          So, like, you acknowledge that you’re not a spiteful person (value), then you dig deep for compassion and change your self talk about revenge into thoughts of pity and maybe even self reflection (thoughts), then when you talk about ex and mistress your start to say things like “they hurt me so bad, I feel broken, I hope they can understand the pain they cause and never do that again or make amends, but really that’s not my concern,”(words) then you enter therapy or start a self-help project (exercise, yoga, cooking, education, volunteer work, etc.) that enhances your value (action). Lather, rinse repeat. It’s the work of self empowerment and peace. It’s tough.

          • Thank you, I love your advice! I plan on practicing it everyday! You are right I’m not a spiteful person. I’ve had so many opportunities to screw them and I just didn’t want to. I’ve never been one to hurt people. I usually lean towards compassion. I really need to hear this! You grandma is a very smart woman!

        • Put a simpler way, as my Grandma used to say…would you rather be happy or be right? You can’t always be both.

          Best of luck to you.

    • Dear Heartbroken,
      I have felt everything that you are feeling now. It does burn your soul, and no the cheater & his affair partner do not have a problem standing on the sidelines watching you writhe in pain; or even worse they don’t even bother to notice or care. It sucks but it is reality. No amount of shaking your cheater is going to “wake him up”; ask me how I know. My heart aches for your pain, but trust that you are on the path to the end of that pain by going No Contact and detaching as much as you can. Trust that one day the facade of the sparkly life those two present will crumble, but hopefully you won’t even care much by the time it does. You can’t wait for their house of cards to crumble. The epiphany by the cheater and his affair partner that what they have done is so damaging is not coming. They are horrible selfish people period. Yes the man you married probably had some good moments, but overall really look who he is SHOWING you who he is. I am finally accepting who my cheater and AP are, and it is one ugly, pathetic picture-but I accept it for what it is now and really they are just pitiful. So many months I wasted seething and wanting some serious justice to come down; it didn’t seem like it was happening; they were getting exactly what they wanted. But that is the justice, they are getting exactly what they wanted (insert maniacal laughter here). I get it, when someone hurts us so deeply, it is natural to seeth with anger-I think it is healthy for a bit. But what I found on the other side of that anger, at some point you drop caring about the injustice for the most part, and start caring more about what is going on in your life and what your future can look like. I am free from the fuckwit. He has come begging back, sad sausage that he is and I don’t care. I am about me and my kids. Don’t get me wrong, every now and then he can still rattle my cage. But the more time that goes on, the more I build MY life, it gets less and less. I am about 9 months out from Dday, so I trust it will get even better no matter what they throw at me; and believe me they do throw some shit my way-but it is less and less relevant. I trust the same will happen for you at some point, even though it might seem impossible right now (at least that is how it seemed for me not too long ago). You can’t force it, I know, but hold on tight to the belief that it is coming (the not caring about fuckwits and caring about your life more) and that will pull you through a whole lot of crap & shit sandwiches. Sending you great big hugs in the meantime❤️❤️❤️

      • I’m sorry you are also dealing with such a horrible person. It’s really terrible the way they can treat their families. I will never understand it. Time probably will make it easier. I sometimes wish I could just fast forward to the part where I don’t give a rats ass what he does, but I know that can only happen with time.

        It just makes me crazy that I spendt so many years with this man, and he never behaved this way before. It’s like something in him snapped! And he’s just not the man I married anymore.

    • Their relationship will most likely fail. It’s based on fantasy and neither of them has any loyalty. Also, they are not happy people. They are currently on a high, but it will crash and they will be back to the misery that comes from having an empty void where your identity and core values should be. They don’t care because they are disordered people and such people are never happy. They experience short-lived, selfish pleasure, but their minds and lives are chaos and they have deep-seated low self worth. Let them wallow in it. You will eventually find true happiness and they will not. I hate my cheater and his whore, too. They destroyed my life and mental health. I have gotten revenge on her and am getting ongoing revenge on him. I’m not suggesting you go that route since many people can’t operate that way and it doesn’t help them. What will help is getting him out of your life forever. I wish I could be there to make you a cup of tea, hug you and listen to you vent. Having someine IRL who will listen and empathize is helpful.

      • Thank you, I agree with you on a lot! I don’t think he is truly happy and there is definitely a void he is trying to fill. I just wonder how much longer he is going to be on a high with her! It’s been months! I need to just get to a place where I don’t care, but it’s hard when I loved him so much.

        • I wonder that too. Ex and Schmoopie are going on three years. I hadn’t expected it to last more than two because that’s as long as the hormones are supposed to last. Shouldn’t they be sick of each other by now? On the other hand it took him 20 years to get sick of me so it could be a while. I hope I don’t care any more by the time it has been 20 years for them.

          • Just because they are still together doesn’t mean they are happy. Remember that. People stay in unhappy marriages for a long time just out of intertia and not wanting to be alone.

        • Months is nothing in cheaterland. My cheater was on a completely delusional high with his AP for over five years. He knew she was a serial cheater (had evidence she was even cheating on him), that she was a hopeless drunk, and that the affair was going nowhere as she wasn’t interested in leaving her marriage. He still gave her more respect and attention than he did to me and to our family. He still planned to leave me. He would still be high on betraying me with that ugly pig if he hadn’t gotten caught. If your cheater lives with the AP the high should be of shorter duration. It depends how long he can live in denial.

      • When does that feeling for revenge dissipate? Howorker doesn’t have to loose her child, home, and husband because she is in an open marriage. We chumps aren’t the ones that homewreck yet we loose so much in this soul crushing show. Even the legal system doesn’t offer justice.

        • For me it was when my life became so busy and full that there was not space or time to even think of revenge. Took a couple years. In the early stages of de-chumping and de-cheatering, I advise everyone to stay as busy as humanly possible–even better if it’s something that productively improves your life. You should be passing out at night you’re so tired from the days work. Keeps the demons at bay.

  • She does a great job putting lipstick on a pig. But sometimes you can’t fix broken. Men, houses, hearts etc. so that metaphor can go several ways. I reinvented my marriage and rebuilt my family every time my husband blew things up for some reason. The burden of kids, his job, his mistakes, his temptations often got the best of him. I was the strong one that got to pick up the pieces. Held things together. Gave the kids normal. I remember a fight where I screamed and cried but in my head I was thinking oh God. This family might really need to die cause I just can’t fix this. And that was the answer, gut wrenching as it was. He may have loved me but it wasn’t great enough to ever put me before himself. He even treats her better than he ever treated me. And his was conscious of what he was doing while he did it. I saved his ass so many times and that’s how I got repaid. So I root for the list it. I only wish I’d given up years earlier.

    • I can’t stand Allsop. She seems like a narc to me. It’s probably just scripted that way and she may be perfectly nice IRL, but it bothered me to look at her smug face on that show. The insults to Spencer are often despicably low blows and she delivers them with a smirk, brags about herself, and generally acts like a royal bitch. If it’s all acting, she’s damn good at it.

  • If you want a fixer upper, get a house (not a man). LOVE LOVE LOVE that line. I kicked out my cheater 8 months ago, been working on my old house ever since giving her love and affection while she gives me peace and protection.

    • Yep! And like, everyone has problems. The difference is…if a man wants you to solve his problems, then GTFO. If he’s working on his own solutions and improving is life, well now that’s something to work with.

  • The show is staged. The homeowners are told to act like entitled assholes to create drama. Nevertheless, it is to fun watch them rage and see her calmly explain things to them like children. The zingers to the “sleazy realtor” are also amusing, albeit staged as well. I hate what she does to the houses, though. She takes the character out of lovely old homes and turns them into cookie-cutter showplaces for the latest souless home design trends. Most designers do that, most homeowners want that, and it sucks. Not this chump. My new house is from the 1890s and it’s going to look that way; beautiful original woodwork, heart pine floors, creaky old staircase and all.

    Was Hillary chumped? Could be. Sounds like it from the description of the divorce.

  • No one ever told me about boundaries. I’m 52 and it wasn’t until D-day and when I came here, that I really learned what they are and why it’s ok to have them.

    I’m sure I had boundaries or lines in the sand (as I think of them) but my enforcement sucked. The lines swayed depending on hard I was trying to make someone happy, not feel guilty, or how hard I was trying to placate the Dickhead.

    I have boundaries now and I’m learning to enforce without feeling guilty. It’s not easy and I still trip up from time to time.

  • I have always considered myself to be poor at boundaries. I am not good at enforcing them when I even have them. I don’t have many. I do think, however, that to some extent, it comes from being fairly easy going. There are a lot of things that I just don’t care about or that just don’t bother me. Many of the boundaries I fail to enforce with the kids are really ex’s boundaries that I am trying enforce. Other times I am trying to enforce boundaries that society tells me I should have but I don’t really care that much. I am also somewhat lazy. Enforcing boundaries takes effort and I prefer to pick my battles. I rarely set boundaries with ex because I trusted him and thought I didn’t have to. When I fail to set and hold boundaries, it is either because I don’t know I need them or because it just isn’t worth the effort if putting up with it is easier.

    Looking back, however, I am pleased to see that I actually do set and hold boundaries when it really matters to me. In high school I refused to try smoking, or drugs because I didn’t think I had anything to gain and a lot to lose. There are certain sexual activities I refused to all who asked and did not waver when they tried to manipulate me into it. I wouldn’t let my ex swear at me. I did not quit my career to please ex. I will not do a job if I feel it will endanger or embarrass me or others. I was not willing to delay my master’s degree because it would be convenient for my advisor. I will stick up for myself if I feel my boss is putting me in an impossible situation. I never let ex give me the silent treatment beyond a reasonable amount of time to cool off. After DDay I tried to set some boundaries on ex but he got all “you’re not the boss of me”. I did tell him, however, that if he wouldn’t stick to those boundaries he would have to leave and I kept trying to enforce those boundaries until he finally did leave. I suppose I could have held out longer and continued to fight for ex longer than I did, but I eventually stopped because I don’t like enforcing boundaries and if he had come back to me I would have spent the rest of my life doing so. One of the reasons I married him in the first place is because I thought he didn’t require boundaries and I didn’t want to be in a relationship where they were needed. Now he’s gone. Problem solved. I have walked away from bad jobs too. I guess that is how I handle boundaries. I only set them when they are important to me and then I walk away from whatever and whoever is crossing them. What is hard is setting boundaries when I don’t want to walk away.

  • I find that I am struggling to fully understand the appropriacy of boundaries. On the one hand, it’s crystal clear for me what certain boundaries ought to be: cheater – out; abuse of alcohol – out, scary temper – out, etc.

    On the other hand, how much latitude is allowed to someone for just being human? I worry about potentially eliminating every man that I might meet. Am I going to become so hyper-vigilant that I eliminate all possibilities? It’s that old adage of just being “too picky.”

    Again, there is a list of very obvious red flags, but my STBXH had no obvious red flags. Even looking back the little red flags I see know would have been a stretch to justify back then as denoting a serious issue.

    So, now I meet a man and I am “oh-oh” immediately to anything that might raise even the slightest eyebrow and jump to all sorts of conclusions. Is that really healing on my part? How much am I reacting to my own trauma? How am I to know the difference?

    • OptionNoMore, what you’re experiencing is a normal part of the abuse healing process.

      You are hypervigilant, which is a symptom of post traumatic stress. Hypervigilance comes from a place of self-protection, and rightly so, because you’ve been burned really badly, and everything in you is now on red alert to stop you going through a process like this again. This is completely understandable, and there are psychotherapies you can try for healing this, but it can take time.

      It’s also a sign that you should not be dating right now, or even thinking about it, because you’re not able to be on your own comfortably and safely. When you have healed more – and I am sure you will – you will have more balance and more self-confidence.

      Don’t worry about being too picky or not picky enough. (In fact, whose voice is that in your head, warning you about this? often it’s Mom or an abusive ex. Shut that shit down.)

      Focus on you and your healing. When you’re further down the track, and can be secure and comfortable on your own, with your own judgement, you will be in a better position to date if you feel like it. Then this whole thing won’t feel like such an ordeal.

      • Thanks Lola. I think that you’re spot on about not being in a place to date. Oddly enough, I was pretty vigilant in looking for a partner when I was younger. Having grown up with an abusive father with a drinking problem, I was always wary of red flags from men that showed they might have a temper, or be irresponsible. My STBXH seemed so safe. He had no temper, so easy-going (I now realize that he just doesn’t like to confront anything – conflict-avoider to the max). He had a quietness that wasn’t shy, but came off as pensive, quiet strength (all an act – he always wait for others to act first before he follows suit). Although he hadn’t reached the same potential of his family members (most of whom are very highly educated with fairly lucrative careers), he was college-educated, had a decent job that he had been at for almost 10 years. I took that to mean that he was stable (I’ve since learned that he doesn’t ever move from anything – just settles and rides coattails).

        My ex was so covert in his flags. I really don’t think there was any way I could have predicted this outcome in his choices. I have a story from years ago, just before we had kids. My father was visiting with us and got drunk, and when drunk he is often very inappropriate. My husband accompanied my father outside to the deck for a cigarette. While outside, my father started talking to my husband about going out to party and seeing some strippers. He pulled out a viagra pill and started singing its praises in picking up women. Then, he offered one to my husband and said that they should go out that night to pick up so that he can try how awesome the pill works. My husband was appalled that my father would suggest such a thing and reminded my father how he was married to his daughter. My drunken father just shrugged his shoulders and said, “So what. Doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have a good time.”

        Nice dad, I know. But, I remember my husband being so disgusted and feeling sorry for me to have grown up with such a man. I wasn’t overly surprised by my father’s idiotic remarks and pointed out to my husband how that is an example of why I rarely spend time with my father over all the years.

        Fast forward 10 years from that evening and what has my husband gone on to do? Carry on affairs with other women for over two years of the marriage, that I know of. Likely used ED meds because it’s an issue he had been increasingly dealing with (there had already been some issues when I met him). Picked up women while partying with the one single friend he has (who himself had cheated on his wife years ago – she left him). Then, my ex left just after Christmas 2017 to be with the OW who lasted the longest.

        I wish he had just gone out with my father that night over ten years ago and gotten it over and done with back then. Would have saved me a lot of years in a marriage in which I was constantly struggling for a deeper connection with an emotionally distant man. But, then I wouldn’t have my beautiful children, sigh.

    • I posted on this below, somewhat. I’m with you. I guess at this point I’m looking at overall track record. Because of my age, folks I would be friends or partners with are older…so, what have they done? There’s been decades of life…how have they used it? Because I’m reinventing myself right now, I’m choosing to not see that as a red flag, but I’m looking to other indicators like…relationships with their parents and children, # of old friends they still have, ability to physically and emotionally take care of themselves (like, are they healthy? Do they handle their problems?). Things like that. It’s not perfect but it at least weeds out the obvious jackasses.

      Truth is my ex looked mighty good on paper and checked a lot of “great person” boxes. His narcissism snuck up on me. So, I struggle with my instincts at the moment.

    • I know exactly how you feel. I go back and forth between wanting to stick up for me and wanting to be accepting of others who are trying but just don’t know any better because I don’t always get it right either. Communication is key I think but I am struggling with that one too.

      • Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself. Learning boundaries takes time, and everyone gets it wrong sometimes, and when you’re first learning then it’s normal to overdo it. You will feel like you’re going back and forth, but eventually you’ll find a stable middle ground.

  • I think if you’re going to look at someone’s potential when choosing a partner, then you also have to look at their past track record for reaching toward that potential (or doing anything of value actually). There’s a world of difference between a 40 year old on his 3rd marriage struggling to keep a job but with “lots of ideas” and a 25 year old putting himself through school while working a steady job. Neither, arguably, has reached their full potential but one sure as heck appears to be working diligently while the other just appears to have made one bad choice after another.

    I do believe that people can change at any time in their life. Our chump mantra is based on that idea. In the middle of my life I’m striving for my potential, and I’d hate to think I’d be categorically excluded because I decided to reinvent myself at my age. But there has to be a track record of self-renovation with some ascertainable results, otherwise you’re gonna partner with a bottomless pit of problems.

    And I love now having this onscreen embodiment of boundaries to study! It’s like a visual boundaries manual. Thanks CL!

    • The one advantage of being older and starting over again in the relationship department is that there is now a track record. So different from our 20s when we are looking for potential, like an employee hiring a college-graduate with little experience. You’re banking on what little experience they might have and instinct.

      Now they have years of experience. What have they learned? What are they doing now with what they learned?

      There is a lot I need to figure out about boundaries and fixing a picker. What I do know for sure is that I need to see that he’s learned from the mistakes of past relationships and worked on himself in concrete ways. I need someone who sets his own goals, and I observe that he goes by them. I know not to trust someone who love-bombs, wants too soon to make his life decisions based on what I am doing, professes undying love or tells me that he can finally be his real self with me. Ummm…you should already be your real self at this point in life. He has to love his family and be very active with his own children. If he prioritizes his children over me, I’m impressed (My ex recently turned down spending the actual day of his birthday with the kids when I offered it to him because it landed on my day with the kids. He said he had other plans, which I knew were about prioritizing the OW. When her access agreement with her kids suddenly changed the week before his birthday to include being with her kids on the night of his birthday, he was contacting me to tell me that he realized that he would prefer to spend his birthday with his kids and changed his plans. What a louse.). The kids should come first.

      I can definitely understand the desire to just stay on my own. Much easier.

  • one of the perks of being an Autism Mom is getting to memorize each and every Disney movie as your DD gets fixated on a certain one for a time…
    The last Christmas season I was with exh2/TEO, she was fixated on Frozen.
    There’s a song in Frozen called “Fixer Upper” that’s cute, fun and endearing and speaks of this very post.
    One line, “…we’re not saying you can change him/cause people don’t really change/love’s that magic that powerful and strange/people make bad choice when they scared or mad or stressed/but throw a little love their way/you’ll bring out their best…”
    https://youtu.be/lWtTdRmSrYQ

    I clicked with that song and used it to excuse TEOs shitty behavior and spackled and pick-me-danced with that song in my head…
    Nowadays, I’m living for myself. I’m looking out for me, myself, and I. I’m making changes every day and moving forward alone.
    I have a micromanaging prick boss these days and it’s like living with TEO all over again. I have to reinforce boundaries with him every day. I’ve had to practice saying No in the mirror to prepare to tell him no and stick to it, because the Pisces in my personality and character automatically says yes as being a people-pleaser on a daily basis.
    It’s a daily struggle.

  • Apologies if this has already been said, but I googled Hillary the host described above.

    She’s worth millions now. She may have been before tv fame, but I suspect things accelerated for her afterwards. I hope her (presumed) cheater ex is choking on this fact and is a bankrupt loser without her..

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