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Dear Chump Lady, She was ‘going to make it up to me’

Hello Chump Lady,

I’ve been reading your posts for the past three years understanding and yet ignoring all of your sage advice till just recently. Love is not only blind, it’s deaf, dumb, and stupid as well. I discovered 5 of my wife’s affairs in 2016. After a psychotic break and several suicide attempts back then, I somehow convinced myself that her contrition was sincere and believed her when she said, she’d spend “the rest of her life making it up to me.” Her sex addiction explanation was compelling and believable to a desperate spouse terrified of being single again in his 50s and not wanting to shatter his son’s sense of security and normalcy.

Back to the present. After 3 years without sex or any real intimacy, (I often wondered when the “making it up to me” was going to start), while looking for a Q-Tip last month, I opened a drawer and found a partial tube of vaginal estrogen cream purchased just months ago. I then understood that nothing had changed at all and that I had been the perfect stooge all along.

Three weeks later, I’m doing the nomad thing going from couch to couch till i can get my own digs. I’m sad, I’m depressed, I’m afraid, but mostly I’m angry. At her for being such a malignant narcissist who used me for the duration of our 15 year marriage, (she invited one of her lovers to our wedding I discovered!!) But mostly I was angry with me for burying my head in the sand and wish thinking for so long when I could have been living life. Serial cheaters don’t change. Don’t let your other followers waste the years that I did hoping beyond hope that they can.

Each day is a little bit better now. The best wisdom I’ve received this past month was from a divorced friend distilled into one sentence. “It sucks getting divorced, but its great being divorced”. I hope to soon find this to be the case.

Cheers,

The Fish Doctor

Dear Fish Doctor,

She’s about to Make It Up To You by exiting your life. Not to say she’ll go easy (fuckwits usually don’t), but you will get your freedom. And may she live happily ever after with her partial tube of vaginal cream.

Please don’t beat yourself up.

I somehow convinced myself that her contrition was sincere

Skepticism isn’t the out-of-the-gate response with someone you’ve spent over a decade loving and trusting. Wanting to believe is normal. Your heart was blown apart by these revelations, and you projected what YOU would do, how YOU would behave — Fish Doctor would be sorry. You assumed that breakdown was for you, not her.

It’s very difficult — and painful — to change long-held assumptions, like “trust wife.” Brain science says it’s “cognitively costly” — so changing course and doing the sorts of things I advise here — go into self-protection mode, be guarded — don’t feel natural. What feels right is stopping the pain, and if she says she’s sorry and going to do “everything” to stop your pain? Of course you’re going to jump on that like a starving Labrador attacks a steak.

We’ve been there, and it doesn’t end well. Sometimes we learn sooner than three years of sunk costs, and sometimes we learn later. The important thing is you got out.

I’m sad, I’m depressed, I’m afraid, but mostly I’m angry. At her for being such a malignant narcissist who used me for the duration of our 15 year marriage,

Learn from it. That’s the only way forward. Learn from it.

T.H. White, in The Once and Future King wrote:

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

Learn how narcissists wag and why you wag. Discover reciprocity in your relationships. Value the people who value you — who demonstrate it.

she invited one of her lovers to our wedding I discovered!!

Me too. I paid the bar tab for one of the Other Women. We should form a chump conga line.

Serial cheaters don’t change. Don’t let your other followers waste the years that I did hoping beyond hope that they can.

It really doesn’t matter if they change or don’t change. There’s you and what you’ll tolerate. YOU can change. You can learn from this sucktacular, unjust situation and launch yourself into a new life. You control that. The ways of fuckwits, not so much.

Look what a lot of things there are to learn.

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.
  • Doc, I find it very telling that you don’t say anything about your wife looking after you after your suicide attempts. Even if she hadn’t cheated, that’s still concerning and I’m glad you’re away from her.

    • It was unclear to me if he was the one who had the breakdown and the suicide attempts or if she was the one who had those. Either way she wasn’t doing much to “make it up” to him.

      • When I was a Chump and didn’t know I was a Chump (and as I was being fed lies and doing all I could to overlook every red flag), I had a friend who was cheating on her husband. When I found out what a Narcissist was and began my journey of discover – I realized that during my relationship with the king of all Narcs I had surrounded myself with a great number of new “friends” who were drum roll here… Narcs as well. Apparently sweet Chumpy empathic me was a great feast for many of them. I found she had used me as an alibi and I broke off my relationship with her, then I moved across the country.

        Over six months later, her husband caught her cheating and unbelievably he blamed it on ME her. Well she threw the biggest hysterical fit and had a complete (or acted) mental breakdown. He forbid her to be friends with me and took her back. No loss for her, she and I were already no longer friends – and I knew she slept a dozen other men long before I met her while married. Essentially she threw me under the bus to save her skin.

  • There’s a great poster in my gym that says “A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today”.

    I think it’s such a great saying for not only starting a workout regime, but for chumps to kick a cheater to the curb!

    • At my auto service centre, a sign on the wall:

      “It might have Felt Real, but it was Never Genuine.”

      Deep.

    • “A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today”.

      Thanks for the reminder. I left my cheater five months ago. I know intellectually it was the right move but I still don’t feel it in my heart yet. Someday I know I will.

      I’m forever thankful to this blog & community for giving me the strength to leave before my heart was ready.

    • reminds me of the chinese (?) proverb:
      The best time to plant a seed/tree was twenty years ago, the next best time is now.

  • 10 years of thinking he would come out of his Mid Life Crisis fog ( palm to forehead ).

    Many of us waffled around waiting for them to change. The truth is that we finally saw the real person under the mask and missed the lie of who we thought we had partnered with.

    I went back to school. I was so broke that I once lived on a boat that was for sale and in a ghetto with no appliances or heat – because I couldn’t afford it. But it was still better than living with my Sinister Minister Husband!!!!

    You are doing great. You have a wonderful future waiting for you. She is stuck with her not so fabulous self. That is karma in itself.

    Best of luck!!!

    • Yup… 7 years of hoping that he would become better … completely ignorant of the fact that I was not even in possession of the data needed to understand how truly awful he was.

        • You are more than welcome. There are a lot of other essays on the site that are equally informative.
          All thanks back to VHammer for posting here first.

          Thanks back to you!
          EC

  • Put her and this as far away as you can. learn and move on. You can have a wonderful beautiful life in spite of this setback. Rid yourself of this malignant tumor ( Wife). You’re in remission and get out there and have new life experiences and meet people. Meet people that appreciate you!!! Remember you are awesome!! Fake it till you make it. Good things will come your way if you let it.

  • When married I took time for granted; there would always be a better tomorrow. And 20 yrs flew by.

    One of the (sad) great things about divorce is that I don’t take time for granted. My life is limited. I appreciate each day more. And the second “half” of my life will be way better than my first.

    So I raise a glass to your journey Mr Fish Doc. It’s better over here.

    • For me, I was always looking for that better tomorrow, that pay off. If I could just be a better wife he would pay attention to me. If I could make myself smaller and never ask anything of him he will eventually find a way to like me and stop fishing off the company dock for his connections.

      Time did not fly. After 28 years he abandoned me for a ho-worker our daughter’s age and he declared I was awful and that I deserved it. After I put up with truckloads of his shit and his abuse of me, he said I deserved his abandonment.

      No more waiting for a pay off. I demand reciprocal relationships. And that means that 2+ years post-abandonment I am alone and probably will be for some time (possibly permanently). This makes me sad but I can’t compromise.

      • It is disgusting and cruel the way they try to blame us for their own evil actions after we have spent years trying to please them and be good partners.

        During discard my ex told me “I wish I hadn’t been so nice to you, maybe I would have gotten better out of you”. This after I gave him 25 years of my life, bore and helped raise his children, was faithful to him and supported him through several career changes, cross country moves and deaths of people close to him. There were only two things he didn’t “get” from me. I refused to give up my career to meet his expectations of the perfect woman (which he never mentioned before we got married or even before we had kids) and I wouldn’t take it in the wrong hole, and no, being less “nice” to me wouldn’t have gotten him those things. I am not willing to give up my soul, even for the ones I love.

        • What is with these guys and the other hole. I wouldn’t do it either. Makes me think he’s hiding something–perhaps playing with the other side( to be clear I have no issue with bi’s or gays, just with toxic assholes hiding who they really are). Mine told me I deserved it too since I was nagging him to stop screwing other women and spending all of our family’s money on himself. toxic toxic toxic

            • Interesting, I did everything and anything he asked to try and make him happy. I never even thought he was degrading me. Makes sense now that I think about it.

              • Wow, and here I thought I was alone with the other “hole” thing. My STBX was abused as a child and thought he wanted to recreate his abuse. That happens too. Later I found out he dissociates. All kinds of fuckedupness

        • Good for you. They do want you to give up your soul because they don’t have one. I suspect they are actually envious.
          I wouldn’t take it in the wrong hole either. These sickos always love anal because they like degrading us. I also wouldn’t I let him get away with dismissing my feelings and opinions. I also wouldn’t slavishly kiss up to him, pretend he was perfect or agree to boringly emotionless sex where I was used like a blow-up doll whenever he demanded it, which was constantly.
          So I was out and schmoopie was in. The pathetic thing is she wouldn’t have sex with him at all after the first five months. But she kissed up to him to some degree, and with that and the duper’s delight it was enough to keep it going for years until he was busted. He’d intended to go on indefinitely, having stupid boring lunches with her every day and not even so much as a kiss from her in the last year or so, just to feel like he had one-upped me.
          Narcopaths.

          How long did yours cheat?

          • I guess that depends on how you define cheating. He had an emotional affair about 8 yrs before DDay. At the time I thought the fact that he told me about it instead of fucking her meant he wasn’t a cheater. After DDay, he told me that he regretted that it hadn’t gone physical. He had only been with DDay PA Schmoopie for about three months when I found out but there was another PA Schmoopie before that (started ~10 months before DDay) who I found out about several months after DDAy when I unknowingly confided my marital troubles to her, Doh! Ex of course was upset with me for blabbing about our marital troubles. Who knows how many other EA’s and PA’s, stolen kisses, blow jobs etc. there might have been that I just don’t know about. He was quite proud, however, of the fact that he “never paid for sex”. Well, he’s paying now.

            • He’s paying now! HA! I love that. Mine feels the same cuz his brother uses hookers. And I say the same to myself once everything gets finalized. Helps me not “feel bad” about the monetary orders.

              I paid for it during. He will pay for it soon!

            • I call her the million dollar whore- cause in the end that’s what it cost him between retirement alimony and child support he has to dish out. Hope she was worth it especially when money is the most important thing to him- taking a big chunk of it was the perfect karma!

    • I have similar sentiments. I prioritized making sure my family was taken care of, knowing that our daughters were priority until they were ready to move into to college and/or start their own lives, and then (ex) wife and I would have time to focus on each other because we still had many decades to be w/one another. Almost 2 years after finding out about the affair, and almost a year after the the divorce has settled, I now know that I still have many, many years to be a better father and person, and if the “right person” comes before me, it will be fate.

      • See that’s how it is supposed to work, but cheaters want it all and they want it now. They are incapable of looking at the big picture and feel neglected when you spend time taking care of their kids. The funny thing is, ex wanted kids as much as or actually more than I did. He was upset (after the fact) that we didn’t have them sooner and was upset that we didn’t have more than the 3 we did but he was also upset that they took up so much of my time and attention. Totally clueless in a selfish way.

        • Yes! The very stbx told me before marriage that he wanted a big family ‘like the Waltons’ but when our first boy was born (after 9 years of marriage) I don’t think he could cope. Then the baby got measles and that resulted in a dangerous lung condition, we had twins when the first was 2 and a half (stbx used to say they looked like gollums) and one of the twins had a serious bladder/kidney problem and I went through the menopause aged 41… He couldn’t stay the course, leaving when the kids were 13 and 15. Just when I was starting to hope for a better life with him once the kids had left…

          • What is it with leaving after the kids go off to school? I had the same hopes of turning toward each other when things finally settled down. He wanted an open marriage and a “girlfriend” to spend all his good time with, and me at home …help clean the kitchen? I think he left the marriage years ago, was never really in it or wanted the same things. Refused my requests to go to therapy (couples and sex therapy), 21 years of marriage meant nothing – only I think to him it meant a “successful” launching of the kids. It’s still unbelievable to me.

            • SSMH I think that’s exactly what mine wanted but never had the balls to talk about it clearly. I think he thought I’d settle back into the old wife appliance habits. I wasn’t having it, I would have done every therapy going to repair us as I did love him, but eventually kicked him out after months of wreckonciliation when I realised our children’s mental health was actually endangered. He always was the King of Procrastination but never thought he’d carry it that far!

            • Wow — so many of us dumped just as our couples lives were about to get back on track. My STBX wanted kids more than me and seemed to be a good father when they were little. He changed as they got older and seemed no longer as interested in them or me. Now I know why. I find it odd. To me what you invest in is what you value. So investing in viagra fuelled affairs with lots of lying and manipulation instead of investing in your family shows your true colors. Of course the whole time he pretended to be on my team talking about the future and letting me pick up the majority of the work (as he worked farther away than I did). I lived in a world where people are usually good and where your loved ones and family may irritate you at times but they love you and support you. I never realized the true danger to my family or my health came from the person who pledged to love and honor me. We had a good life and any struggles we have were average struggles. I realize now that he never could have coped with any curveballs like major illnesses, disabled children, or any other major stressor in life. Just the regular old average life was too much for him — he wanted more grandiose things — asshole. The stress of this process is almost killing me but I will survive (and then try to thrive).

  • Dear Fish Doctor,
    I’ve been there and my heart breaks for you. I had contemplated suicide and my narc ex, knowing my struggle, provided opportunity by leaving loaded pistols around. My kids were the thread I held on to and many days I was barely holding on.
    Getting your mind to break from your cheater is extraordinarily painful, but some day the anger will come and replace the sorrow. Let it come. When I was in your place, my counselor told me to let the building anger empower me to fight in the divorce process. There is a time to be angry and this is it.
    You will have a fight on your hands. They never go easy, but you are worth the effort it will take. Providing your son with a sane parent who sets a good, example is worth it.
    CN has your back.
    This recovering chump stands beside you.

    • YOU’RE couch-surfing??? Don’t be kicked out of your own home.

      Like CL said, she won’t exit your life smoothly or painlessly … find your anger and you do the kicking. Not her. She’s kicked you all over the place for a loooong time. Now YOU kick HER to the curb.

      You’ve lost your idea of your reality (a functional marriage/family); you’ve lost your home (for now); you’ve probably lost a lot of sleep (and in my case a lot of weight and hair!); and you probably lose your mind every other day.

      Now it’s time to lose a cheater and gain a life! As we say around here. You go do YOU, FD. All power to you.

      • I agree! How dare this cheating bitch kick him out. The arrogance of these people is astounding.

        • I am more concerned that if he is in a no-fault state, leaving the home loses rights. And careful with custody too. Make sure you are seeing your kid alot.

          Sex addiction brings all kinds of “disease” dangers into the home. Worst kind of fuckwits. I got a STD from mine. (Damn smokin the hopium into hysterical bonding)

          • This.

            It is very healing for the Chump to leave the marital home, but it’s vital to see a lawyer about the legal implications of doing so. Moving out could be considered abandonment, and that would have a big impact on custody (and child support). Would filing for legal separation be a way to guard against accusations of abandonment? Again, talk to the lawyer.

        • I agree, leave the marriage, leave the house. She knew the kids were leaving with me, but still insisted she stay in the house. What kind of parent kicks their kids out of their home?

          • They will not think about anyone else. My STBX is still being an asshole. We have finally sold our house (he won’t leave until money comes through). My son chose to come with me as his Dad claims he has done nothing wrong yet admits to cheating and lying (sometimes I think he is an asshole, sometimes I think he is mentally ill, possible he is both). So in return his father has bought a condo that is 500 square feet and has no space for my son (but he could sleep on the couch). One more way he is showing his son that Dad only cares about himself. He could have afforded more but he told us he is “changing his lifestyle”. Me too – no more assholes allowed!!

  • This cheater sucks. No doubt about it. I am totally on board with kicking her to the curb.

    For general purposes, please note that vaginal estrogen is not solely a sexual treatment. Perimenopause and other hormone conditions can cause painful issues in the vagina, making it hard to function in daily life. Treating those issues with localized estrogen is much more like treating a headache with aspirin than it is like taking Viagra. Also, localized estrogen reduces the risk of other related cancers, so it can be superior to oral hormone treatments.

    The general public is pretty ignorant about women’s health, so I find it important to address these issues. In the broad picture, finding vaginal estrogen is not specifically a sign of cheating or even of an active sex life. It’s possible, but it’s not at all definite.

    Again, not saying our chump letter author is off base in his own situation. I’m just suggesting that you don’t vaginal estrogen to condoms and Viagra and birth control pills and dating site logins as relationship policing signs of cheating, because it’s not medically applicable to that category.

    • I was thinking the same Amiisfree,
      Not like those condoms lined across his duffel bag, and me, the wife, in first trimester pregnancy.
      Nope, not for me!
      Now that’s a sure sign!

    • ?????
      Though I understand the point you make, this undermines and minimises the scale of Fish Doctors issues with his Cheater
      Finding the meds helped him to reach his conclusion about his cheating wife which is the real point.

      • Yes but this letter is read by other people as well. And it’s misinformation about women’s health. It was a good thing to point out. I was going to if no one else had.

        • Thank you for that.
          I was thinking the same thing.

          I don’t think it undermines his story. It’s just the facts.

        • Thanks for this clarity and for your willingness to champion education about women’s health. I appreciate this response a lot. 😊

      • No undermining in correcting the big mistake in reasoning here: “I opened a drawer and found a partial tube of vaginal estrogen cream purchased just months ago. I then understood that nothing had changed at all and that I had been the perfect stooge all along.”

        No causality there at all, and I am glad people pointed out that this is a routine treatment to relieve symptoms for those who experience post-menopausal issues (and while we are correcting misconceptions about women’s health, it’s probably good to point out that many women don’t have these particular issues at all) and not an indication of cheating.

        Might help explain lack of sex, though. Would definitely help relationships if sexual health could be openly and accurately discussed.

        I’m always bemused by the fact that people have sex—the most intimate thing—with people with whom they cannot actually talk about sex.

        Humans!

          • That ran through my mind too, truth be told, but I also know I am rather perma-jaded so I tried to hold it in one hand and see what other data rolled in before deciding. This non-in-person medium is tough for conveying complex information.

        • I resonate deeply with all of this, and that last paragraph especially rings true for me. Wish I had gotten to that much sooner in my life.

      • I appreciate your point. I did attempt to ameliorate that with my first paragraph – that I am totally on board with him leaving this cheater. He knows more about his unique situation, so I specifically don’t want to minimize him as I concurrently address the general idea expressed. Thanks for bringing that up.

    • I read this as she was preparing to have comfortable sex with someone. As he wasn’t getting any, it wasn’t him.

      But thanks everyone for the clarification.

      • The medical info for the estrogen cream is good to know but if he was married 15 years, she may only be in her 30s— WAY too young to be post-menopausal. Thus she was probably using it for what he thought she was using it for.

      • Vaginal estrogen cream is for menopausal symptoms, not like lube.

        I know there’s clearly a lot to unpack with this marriage but prescription cream like that most likely isn’t one of them.

    • As a fish “Doctor”, I completely agree and appreciate your insight that some of these Rx’s have multiple purposes. My old gullible self would have explained it away with that hope. But alas, corroborating evidence too painful to mention here pretty much sealed the deal. Thank you for your input!

  • I liked the quote you can learn something from being sad about an experience (s). The cheater normally is nice to you because they have been caught out, it’s not real.

  • Fish Doctor:

    Oy, so sorry you’ve gone through 15 years of hell. But I’m delighted the lightbulb finally illuminated the truth and you left; sleeping on a lumpy couch at your pal’s house beats the mindfuckery going on at home, hands down!

    I spent 40 years with a covert narc who was a KGB-level Master Of Deception. I was snookered the whole time by his incredible charm, charisma, and the ever-present appearance of the Devoted Husband Act. It gutted me to learn about the decades of lies and betrayal, and I honestly didn’t think I’d make it when divorce landed on my doorstep at age 60.

    But today, the proverbial sun is shining, and I’m kicking ass, taking names, and getting shit done. There is no better feeling in the world than to stand firmly on your own two feet, knowing you can withstand the strongest of storms and you will not crumble. I have so much to be grateful for, and I never take that for granted.

    Doc, look at it this way — you’ve been liberated! Be grateful. Get up every day and strive to be the best man you know how to be. Find your tribe, love them, and let them love you. Live the life you want to live. Sit outside and listen to the breeze. Every day is a precious gift, so don’t waste it. ❤️

  • Dear Fish Doctor,

    I languished for three years in wreckconciliation with the ex. He wasn’t a serial cheater to my knowledge but knowing what I know now, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

    Point is I was afraid of leaving too. Pretty much the only reason I stayed. I promise it gets so much better though. I am five years out from divorce and it’s so great not having to deal with living with a cheater.

    It may have taken us a while to get there but at least we got there eventually!

  • My ex thought that the best way to make it up to me what’s the fake reconcile. Oh he went to counseling and he said he wanted to work it out all while still hiding his whereabouts including buying gadgets to block the tracking app he agreed to have on his phone. I got fed up with his “all talk- opposite actions” and decided to leave. I then quickly went to a lawyer and decided what was the best way he could “make it up to me”. So take control of your life get the divorce done and make her make it up to you that way. I’m 18 months out from D- day and 6 months from divorce being final and have no regrets. You owe her nothing!

  • Vaginal estrogen isn’t exclusively for sex!

    Having said that, Fish Doctor, you did the absolute best thing for yourself by kicking her to curb.

    “After a psychotic break and several suicide attempts”
    “After 3 years without sex or any real intimacy”

    Definitely better off without her toxicity in your life. Okay, today may SUCK but things will improve. If only because you won’t have her around!

    Best wishes for Tuesday to come soon.

  • I too was told, “I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you.” Only to waste three years and have him cheat again, and again before I finally ended things.

    I even got suckered into the idea of living together for an extended period of time until I finished school, before we moved forward with the divorce. Needless to say it didnt end well.

    I’m going through hell right now trying to finalize the divorce and sell our home, but in a few weeks I will have my freedom and my life back. Divorce sucks, but staying stuck in the trauma cycle of cheat-reconciliation-cheat and repeat is the worse thing anyone can do to themselves.

  • After you get out of the chump conga line (love that Tracy) lawyer up and use your anger to get a good settlement. There’s strength in filing.

    Facing the pain will feel like a mountain at first. You’ll take one step at a time; keep taking them.

    1. Align yourself with a therapist who understands trauma bonding.
    2. Take medication for depression if necessary.
    3. This is a tremendous group who gets it. Be sure to reach out to supportive friends and family.
    4. Learn all that you can about covert narcissists as she might fit that profile.
    5. Disengage from all contact. Speak through your attorney.
    6. Do a credit check. Often times financial abuse goes with infidelity.
    7. Take half of any money in joint accounts out.
    8. Protect yourself financially.

    Yes, we believe they can change. Don’t beat yourself up over that, expect entitlement from her. And the malignant WANT to break you. They will add insult to injury. LEARNING requires knowing. Stay clear of any and all communication with your abuser.

    You CAN do this and the pain is finite.

  • Dear Fish Doctor,

    Your friend was right— my divorce from a serial cheating covert turned malignant narcissist was TERRIBLE but being divorced is absolutely wonderful, especially compared to being married to the monster that X revealed himself to be. Do not be afraid to fight for what you are entitled to under the law— usually with property settlements and spousal maintenance you only get one chance to get an award— don’t assume you can rescind or revise it, so do not cave in fear. I ended up WAY better going to trial.

    Here is a short list of why in my situation my divorced life is amazing:
    Being no contact, which means:
    No more being blamed
    No more being manipulated
    No more drama
    No more word salads or mind fucks
    No need to be marriage police

    Freedom to think, do, feel what I need to for my pursuit of peace and well-being and even MY happiness — no need to compromise myself

    Peace of mind — this is HUGE

    Freedom from terror and bewilderment

    The ability to be in the moment and enjoy and experience the moments of my life

    Hope for a better tomorrow based on my actions today, which I can control (e.g., career pursuits, vacation and travel plans, exploring new interests, meeting new people who become part of my community, ranging from casual acquaintances to friends to my new significant other whose actions reveal that he is compatible with my well-being)

    Agency— I get to choose how I live

    Physical health – no more risks of STDs from cheating fuckwit, good sleep, no relationship stress

    I could go on and on …. the list is endless.

    Come join us in Meh — it’s absolutely fabulous here! Please come directly and as soon as you can and do not take any false detours.

    • Mother, isn’t it wonderful to not have to deal with all of this anymore!?! Peace, wonderful peace!

    • Well said, MotherChumper99!!

      For all that I lost, there is nothing better then living without the lies and confusion. The word salad and mind fucks! At the time, I had no idea I was manipulated and used for 23 years. It was a horror show of emotions and confusion when my brain started realize all this. Yes, peace of mind is wonderful! My brain used to hurt when he’d lied to me and I just knew in my heart that he was lying. And I’d ask myself, why would someone lie so much and about stupid stuff too?! Because he’s a disordered fuckwit/narc, that’s why!

    • Very well said motherchumper99! Being no contact is absolute bliss! As alloutofkibble says: “No contact is the path to the truth and the light!”

      Getting divorced sucked but being divorced is awesome!!!

  • Fish Doctor, we see you. That there’s nothing new under the sun is a great comfort and devastating heartbreak all at once. Feel the feelings—they’re likely to come in waves for a while—and between high tides, tend to the administrative to-do list, like working with a great attorney, connecting with a few loyal friends/family, managing career, housing and finances. You’ve got this.

    And can I just say, I’ve never loved CL more than when she quotes Merlin’s micro-essay to the Wart about learning.

    • Yes about Merlin and Wart, although my pleasure in T.H White’s work has been tempered by Helen Macdonald’s “H is for Hawk.”

  • It makes me angry for you that you are the one who is the nomad and not her. Doesn’t she have a lover she can move in with while you look after your kid? Lord knows she is too busy with her “addiction” to properly look after him. I hope you have a really good lawyer who doesn’t let her screw you any more than the law requires. The most important thing is that you do everything in your power to maintain a relationship with your son and fight for as much custody as the law will permit. Don’t let he keep the marital home. Sell it and use your share to get your own place so you can have your son at least 50% of the time. Focus on the practical aspects of your split for now. You can grieve once the dust settles. Good luck.

    • Mine too. I guess he really meant “I’ll spend the rest of my life still being a jerk, but not cheating, at least for a while, since I lost my ho anyway. Why aren’t you filled with gratitude at my not cheating because I lost my skank?”
      These people. Smh.

    • In my case the attitude seemed to be that if I spent the rest of my life making it up to him, maybe he would condescend to stay. One reason I didn’t “fight” for him as hard as I could have is that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life trying to make him not regret running off with Schmoopie. It still took me way too long to file for divorce as I sat around waiting for him to figure out that Schmoopie was a POS and come running back to me. Thank goodness that didn’t happen.

      • The bold-faced arrogance! You had to make up for HIS cheating?
        Yes, you are fortunate he broke it off rather than doing a fake reconciliation act. Mine did that and it really messed with my head, since his dishonest actions weren’t consistent with his claims of wanting to create a better marriage with the openess, honesty and emotional connection that had been missing in it. So of course I saw through it. As soon as he realized I wasn’t going to forgive him and didn’t buy his “changed man” performance, he dropped that bullshit and the snake- eyed iceman came out.

  • I too was told, “I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you.” This was after he came clean (I had to of course ask him!) about going up to Canada over ten times to get lap dances (and probably more!) from 100% naked strippers. He was doing this during the time that I’m now 100% convinced that he was having an affair with a ho-worker (all the signs were there, plus more). He said this way back in 2005.

    For the next nine years, he did nothing to make it up to me.

    He did however get even better at hiding his second life.

    • And like CL, my ex invited a former girlfriend to our wedding. He had me 100% convinced that it was perfectly normal that he continued to see her for lunch and “friendship”. When he invited her to our wedding, it didn’t bother me one bit. I felt like I “won”! He picked me over her. I won the Pick Me dance! Yay, me. Not. I won a sparkly turd.

      I’ve had my moments where I’ve wanted to contact her after D-day and tell her that I saved her from being married to a creep. She always kept in contact him (they dated in the late 80’s) and she sent us a Christmas card every single year and I never ever sent one back to her. But I stop myself as I know I’d just come off as the crazy, vengeful XW. If she still pines after him (no doubt in my mind that he said to her all the same love bombing stuff that he said to me), she would never believe me. Nothing can touch Mr. Sparkly Nice Guy Turd.

  • Hey Fish Doctor,

    My heart goes out to you, I was a cheated-on husband and discovered it all in my 50’s, I remember thinking I would be too old to start over after a 20 year marriage. The hopelessness was paralyzing.

    When you are in the shit like that, you tell yourself terrible and inaccurate stories that seem true. Along with learning from this, also remember to be kind to yourself. You were actively lied to and manipulated, you did not commit crimes. It was trauma and you need time to heal.

  • My ex cheater also did the fake sympathy/suicide/smoke screen ploy.

    Like in your situation, her birth control product, which wasn’t for me, was discovered. In this case, it was my young son who discovered it, googled it to see what it was, and then presented with the evidence. Fun times for the family indeed!

    You’ll definitely get over the divorce, and you’ll be amazed at how much better life. Incredibly better!

  • I relate a lot to this post. I was really angry / embarrassed at myself for being so easily chumped, and I still feel that way sometimes. “If only I had demanded good treatment,” “If only I had asked of him 1/4 of the effort I was putting in,” “If only I had believed my gut sooner instead of his lies,” etc. Something important to remember is that part of the reason why you were such a lovely person in the first place is that you put real faith into people and don’t desert them at the first hint of unpleasantness. So while it was important to grow, change, and get a little more jaded along the way, it’s okay that you were such a soft chump once upon a time. It’s what made you you. Though you may be more wary now as relationships get underway and more pragmatic about focusing on actions rather than intentions, never eradicate that nugget of openness that gives you impulses toward kindness in the first place.

  • Wow – I really like that one! There’s really no such thing as ‘ I’ll make it up to you ‘ (mine said that – I’m still waiting – then I realized for what?). She also said my suspicion was ‘ just my imagination’ – wait a minute – I’m ‘imagining’ my wife screwing my so called ‘freind’ – SICK! I was also ‘sick ‘ to accuse her of screwing my friends! I realize now I was hitting the hopium bong daily because I didn’t want my 20+ year marriage to end. We’re still ‘married’ still in counseling and I’m still waiting. If Chump Lady had been around back then I would have just left – but at the time I was completely clueless about what to do. If I caught her again tomorrow I’d file for divorce the day after!

    • I’m too new at this to be called an expert in any way, but your comments hit too close to home for me not to say something. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, fuck the duck and get out!!!

    • Jax, there are so many wonderful women with integrity and mental health that would respect and honor you if and when you choose a cheater-free life. You will not believe what you put up with when you experience the difference. Don’t waste your one and only precious life!

  • Hi Fish Doctor,

    Mainly just wanted to send you my sympathy.
    I really hope that life starts looking up for you soon. Not telling you to immediately start dating, but if and when you are willing and ready, I think that you, as a fifty-something year old good guy, will easily find many great women to date as single women our age and older significantly outnumber single men our age and middle-aged and older men generally want to and can date much younger women.

    Unlike your friend that said that going through divorce is awful but being divorced is great, I don’t agree. Going through my three year long divorce in court was horrible. Being divorced has also been awful as I have become much poorer (and ann now unemployed), I have had no opportunities to date someone remotely all of the following—‘normal,’ somewhat compatible, even a bit appealing—in years, and my ex-husband harasses me through our minor children and the Court. My situation is quite extreme, though. If I had paid $100K to my now ex-husband as soon as he filed for divorce, kids and I probably would have been better off. Sometimes, law-abiding chumps lose in court, no matter how experienced and expensive their attorneys. That being said, I sometimes realize that I am not as emotionally abused by dishonest, malicious, selfish exes as I probably would have been had they stuck around. If you have only one minor child and he is a teen, you will be spared many years of co-parenting with your cruel STBXW, so there are some silver linings in the cloud.

    • RSW,
      It makes me sad to hear of you trials and tribulations. But it makes me angry that for the most part in the divorce process, (at least where I live), assets are split and both parties go their separate ways. Courts don’t care about the gory details and this is tantamount to rewarding the cheater for his/her actions who walks away with half the stuff from the marriage, yet has never experienced any consequences or paid any penalty for their actions. I’m not suggesting bringing back stoning but when the cheater walks away from the trainwreck they caused, leaving your life in tatters, you want them to have some sort of penalty or penance.

  • I don’t like giving out advice unless asked but I assume that since you are here I already have your approval so my advice is simple.

    You have been here longer than I have and I have been blown away from what I have learned here and it has revolutionized my life.

    Another thing that revolutionized my life and blew down a huge wall of denial was when a friend lent me the book Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. If you can get your hands on a copy it is a real eye opener to how the serial cheaters see themselves and how the operate in the world. I saw how his behavior had been there from before we even knew each other. I just had no clue such a thing existed back then – decades ago.

    As others have said, yes it is hard letting go but the rewards are well worth the pain that will change.

    They do not change. It is a progressive disease. They just get sneakier, more distorted and kinkier and more violent in their demands because nothing fills that hole in them – nothing – not even the sex and when that realization hits them – the shit really hits the fan.

    Run away as fast as your little legs can!

  • Quote of the Week

    “Learn why the world wags and what wags it”.

    Ask Dr. Drew Pinsky said repeatedly on the radio show he co-hosted “Healthy relationships are based on mutuality and reciprocity” And respect.

  • One of the mantras I’ve been repeating to myself over these past two years is “the inside of her brain is like a tornado”. Once you accept that a cheater is a really really messed up person, it begins to quiet the thoughts in your head trying to figure out why a cheater did what they did. They don’t think like you. They don’t think like a normal person. They will never will think like a normal person. They aren’t capable of remorse- which makes them incredibly dangerous- read the news – some of them kill their spouse in addition to cheating.

    Once this sinks in you can start to believe the statement: “I was so lucky to get out of that situation”.

  • The letter struck a big cord in me as I went through the same exact process with my now x-wife.

    BUTTTTT

    There is a light like Chump Lady says. You have to learn and you now have the power to make and do anything you want again. A good friend of mine said to me (on multiple occasions) the best revenge is to live well.

    I never realized how depressed I was with my X until I no longer cared about her.
    I went from 275 pounds down to 199 pounds
    I went from being un-health with my diet to very health
    I went from not being attractive to being attractive again
    I went from having a broken wife to getting remarried to an awesome wife who is completely the opposite
    I went from sad to being happy.

    Now every sentence where I said I (above) you need to put your name there. It is a hard rode but its not how hard you can take the punch but it is about you getting back up!

    Live well!
    Live Happy!
    Find yourself!

    You will enjoy your life again I promise!

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