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Dear Chump Lady, She has abs of steel

Muffin topDear Chump Lady, 

I need your help because I sabotage my own life by comparing myself to the ex’s new woman (one of the many OW behind my back).

She owns a business. She is also a cross fit junkie with abs of steel. My body is soft. She is blond. I have almost black hair. You get the gist.

I’m a mere school teacher working 12 hours a day, raising my special needs child alone (not his child but my son knew this man from the age of 2). My spare time is spent seeing friends or being an advocate for my son. I have no time to sculpt chiselled abs or create perfect hairstyles. I’m in bed alone, waiting to be woken by my now almost 8 year old son as his disability often has him up frequently, whilst the ex is having fun and screwing her. I feel lame.

The thing is, I know in my heart I have so much to offer and that I’m a good person.

I don’t blame the OW as I know how manipulative and charming he is. He is also good at being a victim when he has no idea about hardship.

But my question is, how do I start being happy again? How do I stop comparing my not very exciting life to their “wonderful” life? How do I stop comparing myself to her and always making myself out to be the loser or not matching up? How do I stop comparing my looks to the point where I cry when I see my face in the mirror and can’t eat.

Am I lame because I haven’t moved on yet? I have the opportunity to with nice men but I push them away. It’s been a year.

The thing is, even though I know he’s a piece of sh*t, he also gave me some of the best times I’ve ever had in my life. I used to think we were deeply connected. Now I see he’s a narcissist who mirrors people. But how do I move past the fact that I actually really loved him? Even though he abused me physically and psychologically.

Does he win because he’s always had women who want him and is in a new relationship as fast as lightening?

Please help. I’m sick of feeling depressed, worthless and replaceable. Why am I so hooked on him?

The Comparing Exhausted Mum

Dear Comparing Exhausted Mum,

Whoa. Forget abs of steel, you need a complete values overhaul. If I could make your self-worth drop and give me 40, I would.

He won? What did he win? He’s still him, right? A manipulative shit of man who physically and emotionally abused you, and cheated with multiple other women.

I swear I’m going to create an SEO tag “She Won the Sparkly Turd.”

He did NOT have a character transplant. Ms. Crossfit won a guy who beats women and cheats. If that’s winning, what’s second prize? Ebola?

The thing is, even though I know he’s a piece of sh*t, he also gave me some of the best times I’ve ever had in my life.

Bullshit. He sold you a fantasy. Abusers have hooks. They love bomb. They charm. Of course they do, because if they led with pure odiousness, no one would fuck them or share their bank routing numbers.

Narcissist sparkles (narkles?) feel awesome. So does heroin. You see where I’m going with this? This isn’t healthy love. It’s distraction, it’s limerence, it’s God-my-single-mom-to-a-special-needs-child-life-is-exhausting-and-I-need-a-whirl-around-the-dance-floor.

People who love you don’t exalt you… only to drop you. They don’t power trip on your pain or goad to you to pick me dance. They just love you, squishy midsection and all.

I’d like to share a radical revelation — I am a 52-year-old woman and I’ve got abs like an exploded can of biscuits — it does not render me unlovable. (It makes jeans a bitch to find, however.) I made worse relationship choices when I was young and could bounce quarters off my stomach. Your lack of rock-hard abs says NOTHING about you that matters. If you want rock-hard abs, I’m sure you could have them, should you set your mind to it. (If you’re 52, however, I’d say forget it. Your body turns to melting candle wax at this age. No not really — YES, YES IT DOES, I lift weights and eat kale and FUCK belly fat! Anyway, the squidgy struggle is real and I’m digressing…) My point is, you’re a not a “mere” school teacher and single mom to a special needs son — you’re MIGHTY!

But me typing it doesn’t make it so if you don’t believe it. If those aren’t your values, if you don’t think educating children, or raising a child on your own, or being a honest person who loves with her whole heart is a BETTER thing than being a con artist, I can’t help you.

Is it unjust that you got chumped? Yes. But the continuing flagellation of self is completely on you. If that man beat you with a stick and left, would you pick the stick up and keep beating yourself with it? No. That sounds ridiculous.

But my question is, how do I start being happy again?

When you put that stick down.

How do I stop comparing my not very exciting life to their “wonderful” life?

You have no idea what their life is like. Trust me, it’s not exciting, unless you think domestic violence is a thrill ride.

How do I stop comparing myself to her and always making myself out to be the loser or not matching up?

STOP IT. Seriously, STOP doing it. You have a choice. There’s agency here. You stop doing the self-destructive thing. Put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it, or imagine me reaching out from cyber space to slap you. You STOP doing the dumb thing. And the more you stop doing it, the more you rewire your brain for other stimuli, like cute things your kid does, or peonies, or the new Elton John movie… FILL YOUR LIFE.

That’s the “gain a life” part of the equation. It takes effort. You’re good at effort. (See also “Teacher” and “Mom.”) You only get so much precious life, so stop giving it to fuckwits.

How do I stop comparing my looks to the point where I cry when I see my face in the mirror and can’t eat.

Well, stop doing whatever you’re doing to keep these idiots central. (How do you know about her abdomen anyway?) Turn off the social media, practice no contact like it was transcendental meditation.

Am I lame because I haven’t moved on yet?

You’re grieving, but you could be smarter about it.

I have the opportunity to with nice men but I push them away.

That’s lame. Nice people YES. Bad people NO.

You think I’m being flippant? I’m not. That’s the ethos of this blog distilled into two sentences. In fact, that might be my new tagline.

It’s been a year.

Okay, it’s totally fine that you’re not ready to date. You’re doing you. (Sobbing in the mirror looking at yourself.) Heal up. Do the gain a life thing and when you’re feeling less wobbly and you find your belly fat charming or at least utterly irrelevant, then date. Or go on a burning mission to be an American ninja warrior with abs of steel.

I have no time to sculpt chiselled abs or create perfect hairstyles.

Okay, then you have no time to mourn fuckwits either. I think we’re in agreement here on the time management.

I’m in bed alone, waiting to be woken by my now almost 8 year old son as his disability often has him up frequently, whilst the ex is having fun and screwing her. I feel lame.

Maybe you feel tired? Unappreciated? Unsupported? Why is this bad feeling self directed? It’s like writing, I lifted a car off a trapped pensioner. I feel lame. You are doing magnificent feats of caring. That isn’t lame — that’s heroic. But even superheroes need a rest sometime. Respite care? Moving closer to family and a support network? You’re allowed to carve out some me time for that life rebuilding. It’s a-okay. The fact that you think the best times of your life were spent with an abuser tells me you really need to get out more.

I’m not snarking. I’ve been there. I swear I was good kibbles for a sociopath because I was an exhausted single mom who needed that twirl on the dance floor. Love bombing take me away! Maybe if I was less exhausted, maybe if a few more people in my life told me I was mighty then, or I told myself that, I wouldn’t have found a fuckwit so intoxicating.

Our mental scripts matter. Rewrite yours.

((Big hugs))

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Dear The Comparing Exhausted Mum! You are mighty, big hugs to you! Happiness will come, and please stop putting yourself down. You say mere school teacher!!! Are you crazy?! Teachers are mighty!

    About the the soft belly: yes it’s a real struggle, I’m 55, I do yoga, pilates, biking every day and have a magnificent muffin top to show! I work out for feeling better, I always looked funny anyway, so, don’t sweat is, have another cookie 😉

    • Start reading or listening to self help books (audible is awesome for the car) I started with Healing from Hidden Abuse and moved forward from there, cheap therapy, helps to understand the whys and what’s and how to move on. I remember feeling utterly lost and worthless, now I have my inner self worth back, I was a shell of a person when he finished with me, the books helped tremendously!

      • Healing from Hidden Abuse is a great book – definitely a must-read for chumps. The author is extremely knowledgeable and gives excellent guidance. I haven’t seen any other book that sums up my experience better than this one.

    • TCEM,

      I wish I could post a screenshot of my countdown calendar for today. It’s a picture of my cat with an ‘I’m over it’ expression on his face and the caption says, “MEH. 365 Days since LOST TIME INCIDENT.”

      Today I am ONE YEAR SOBER on looking at anything to do with my ex and the OW on social media or her blog where she once literally used 23 personal pronouns in the first paragraph. I use the word ‘sober’ because I was addicted to comparing myself to the other woman (a former friend).

      The chumpiest thing I ever did was to beg my husband to tell me I was at least a better person than she. He just stared at me. WHAT THE EVER-LOVIN’ HELL? OF COURSE, I am a better person. OF COURSE, I AM! In fact, even if my middle is squidgier than hers, I am better than her in every way that counts and about 10,000 that don’t count.

      Can you guess when I finally (after a decade) really began to believe in my own worth? It was when I stopped looking at them. They can wax eloquent all they want in posts and blogs, but I know who they truly are and that now they are even more that person for each other. I finally trust that they suck. And they do. All day, every day–even when they’re asleep.

      TCEM, he’s not the father of your child. Your divorce is final. If you met him now and knew what you know now, you wouldn’t even smile at him. There’s no reason you need to know what he’s doing or who he’s doing. Put down the things that keep your eyes on them and walk away. I didn’t think I could do this, but I did. Every time I was tempted to look I thought of my countdown clock and how much I wanted to see today’s number. I can’t wipe the smile off my face because the best revenge is forgetting they ever existed.

      I have a new number today–730, here we come!

      • Renay
        Spot on! What a great way to put this. Many of us are addicted. Thanks for your insight and sharing.

        • I’m at 264 days since getting off social media. I was torturing myself by watching them comment and love each other’s posts. Even with having 4 kids with her I’m also slowly forgetting she ever existed.
          I thought for a minute that he was better than me. But it didn’t take long to realize that the only thing he has me on is the amount of money he makes. I now laugh every time he speaks because he has the most annoying squeaky voice and a hyena laugh. It is fun to watch them at my kids sporting events as well. They have basically been disowned by our entire community of 1500. They show up and everyone avoids them like the plague. Life gets better everyday.

          • THAT is the answer: LAUGH AT THEM. Begin to see that they are ridiculous examples of human beings … and after a while, most (good) people around you (and them) do figure that out and just can’t be bothered.

            Laugh at them, and retrain your brain to NOT BE BOTHERED about insignificant poor quality people. You basically need to break a bad, long-standing habit of investing in rubbish. Now: start investing in YOU and other high-quality people. That’s called Gaining a Life.

    • When they try to whine their way home don’t be there. Lol. B****** have no home.

  • I agree with al K, you are indeed mighty, but as CL suggests, maybe you could move nearer/rely more on family and friends to give you a break sometimes. You must be exhausted. And hey, muffin top? Years ago I had a fabulous figure (like many of us I guess), right up until about 50 and the dreaded menopause. My husband was built like a stick insect and I was slim so in bed we were like two forks clunkin around in a drawer. After my divorce me and my muffin top dated a lovely Dutchman with a hairy chest and those two muffin tops just melted into each other so comfortably it was BLISS – for him and for me! Sod your ex and Ms Washboard Abs!

    • Love this! Why do we believe our bodies are for others to look at and not just for us to use!!!!!!

  • If i could hug you through the internet I would because I know how it feels.

    You have to train yourself to stop thinking about them. What worked for me was to create 4 lists (Things I want to do, places I want to go, skills I want to learn and traits I want to have) and every time I caught myself wondering what Narkles the Clown (yes, Chumplady, Narcissist Sparkles) and The Flying Whore were up to or how they did something or why or anything involving them I forced myself to add to my list.

    It wasn’t just a distraction (OK, when I started it was) it turned out to be a bit of a road map for gaining a life. After a few months of writing down things on my list I got brave and started doing the things on my list. I still haven’t made it China (And probably won’t ever be able to afford it) but I made it to a really cool park in the next town over with my kid so he could go on new playground. I haven’t learned how to play the harp but I did learn how to lay tile at the free classes at the hardware store. I can’t go deep sea fishing from here but I did take my son to a big lake nearby to cast lines.

    As for dating. If you’re not ready then you’re not ready. There is no timeline. There are good people out there. Guess What? most of them don’t have great abs.

    And don’t let me sign off without reminding you that you have something he doesn’t, your son. The one that wakes you up. He loves you. He adores you. You are his world. Yes, its hard, it’s exhausting, but when your son smiles at you let it fill your heart. No matter what that x of yours does, he won’t ever have that. He isn’t capable of that kind of bonding and exchange of love.

    • I made my lists into Pinterest boards. I’ve got 70+. It changed my life. And now I need to tune them–and me–up.

  • Most men like that leave for someone easy to control. The male ego is fragile and if they know you know too much they’ll dump you and start a new sparkly life with the next victim… but he won’t keep the mask on forever. He will return to his awful selfish self and neglect and abuse her. It probably won’t be in the same ways so it might not be apparent to you. You won’t ever know so you need to let go.
    I am a good looking aerospace engineer. I’m on the bigger side but i work it. You need to build your confidence. He destroyed that within you. My ex did the same to me. Let me tell you no one is perfect but if you find something about you that you love, start building on that. Care for yourself like you care for your child. Imagine if things were worse. And when you’re ready to date remember you don’t owe anyone anything… not even a flat stomach.

    • Not all male egos are fragile. Please refrain from gender stereotyping, we’ve got some good guy chumps here. But yes to the rest of the advice. 🙂

      • Keiko (or maybe you’re Nathan Larson)-

        Fuck off. You have to develop some depth in order to manage to be shallow and clearly that will never happen.

        Slither back to the Reddit Incel boards.

        “Keiko says
        July 1, 2019 at 10:09 am
        Just what matters to the heartbroken- a pronoun police.

        Self righteous jerk behavior cloaked as a SJW.

        That’s self importance.

        There are gender differences, see the stats on who uses sex workers and who traffics in humans.

        The men on this site are outliers. They are still grieving for their partners. There is something wrong with them. Most men couple back after a break up quite quickly. Only the women are dumb enough to stay on this site, wasting their lives year after year. I am including myself in that category. I wish I had gone out immediately and found a new love. Hell, just a new male friend.

        Instead of wallowing in this misery. I will never get those years back.

        * To advise the desperate and sad that men don’t care about looks is cruel. If you were a psychologist/ psychiatrist, it would be malpractice.

        Men care about a female’s appearance more than her character, her habits, her education, her bank account.

        Look at the world around you.

        To the poster- Just stop caring about any men. Most are not worthy. But if you do want to find a man who is not going to exploit you for your bank account or perhaps access to your child ( lots of freaks) , if you are overweight, you need to lose weight.

        Most men are not attracted to overweight women unless they have a specific fetish. You can lose the weight by cutting out carbs. You do not even have to exercise. But it would help your mental state greatly if you did.

        To compare is to despair.

        The best way to feel better on a gut, animal level is to look great and get a hot partner. And for your ex to see you with him. Is that shallow? It sure is.

        Will that work? Yes.

        Yes. And yes.”

        • Keiko- just because I said my body is soft doesn’t mean I’m overweight. I’m 5’9 and slender. I just meant that I don’t look like a body builder because I don’t do CrossFit 10 times a day – which now after reading all of the other comments which were wonderful (except yours, I found yours to be ill informed) I’m actually happy not to have a body building body.

          As if I’m going to cut out carbs, I love them more than I loved my ex.

        • I do believe Keiko has been here before under a different name. That troll err poster went off on the male chumps on this site too.

      • Keiko, assuming you’re not a troll, then I’d offer that some therapy might help you overcome your anger issues and jaded perspective. If, however, you are a troll (and that’s where my money lies!), then, to echo No Shit Cupcakes, fuck off!

      • What a load of horseshit. I’ll always be grateful to this site and I’m a paying subscriber just to pay it forward for newer chumps. After what my cheating ex wife pulled to our family I’m surprised I made it out alive. And after 24 years together I’m just not interested in another relationship, so no I didn’t just hop into the closest bed. I had to finish raising our daughter. Go troll somewhere else

      • @Keiko – Wow – What amazing Bullshit. How incredibly shallow.

        The best way to feel better on a gut, animal level is to rebuild your confidence in yourself, live the life you want and not give in to horseshit attitudes like this.

        The best way to feel better on a gut, animal level to defeat the attitudes that you are perpetuating, live your life and leave this type of poster in your dust, where they belong.

        To all chumps out there – These are the comments to be ignored and wiped from existence. Quite simply, this is garbage. From whatever this poster may really want – who knows and who cares. @Keiko falis in every way imaginable with this comment, please ignore it.

      • Keiko
        Your obviously on the wrong site! We here at CN don’t need your angry & twisted perceptions
        of relationships/marriage.
        I’d advise therapy immediately. ????

      • Keiko,
        You can go spread your fascist ideas somewhere else. Definitely a troll.

        Yes, cis gender men use sex workers at a much more frequent rate but that is not necessarily about gender, but more about social constructs and norms. It’s not socially acceptable for non-men to hire sw’s, plus cis gender women are still paid less around the world and don’t have the income or time to account for such excess since they’re also typically rearing children and/or tending to the caretaking of the home. A disabled man who hires a sw is seen by society as needing release, while a disabled woman is seen as promiscuous or unhealthyly kinky. As for sex trafficking…unfortunately there are cis gender women involved in this horrible criminal endeavor and those numbers are growing. Profitting off of human misery knows no gender.

        SJW who specializes in sex workers rights

        P.S. You know who cares about looks? Narcissists. You sound just like one.

        • No Shit,Captain,Kb, BSOD, Kathleen and Narcos Can Die,

          Thank you for that group smackdown

      • I gotta echo the sentiments of others, Keiko. Your claims are dubious at best. Narcisism is not a trait based on genitalia. Good people like good people, regardless of shape or size. And yes, a lot of men care about looks. A lot of women do as well. Plenty of good people of both sexes have been turned down by a crush because of looks. Too fat, too tall, too short, too old, not enough teeth, too many tattoos, birth defects, medical issues, scars, etc.

        Please, seek some help for your anger issues.

      • *the narcissistic male’s ego is fragile. Thanks for the catch! I don’t mean to bash all men… just the narcs.

    • It’s Exhausted Comparing Mum here

      I did wonder that. I started to get strong (not that I felt it) and was calling him out on his lies, his neglect, the text messages, cheating, poor behaviour etc. He would hate it and say all I want to do is argue and hate him. So I guess he was chasing someone new (well he always was) but moving on to someone new who won’t try and make him accountable and tell him what a good boy he is. Vomit.

  • I’m 63, thin, relatively fit, and blonde. I’m educated and have a good job. The fuckwit is 65, thinks he’s fit and the current OW is an uneducated domestic worker from the Philippines. She’s 35, a Zumba instructor with long black hair. Pretty much total opposite of me. For a very long time I felt inadequate, old, and unattractive. He’s “rescuing” her and buying a coconut plantation for her in the Pi so he can care for her and her kids that she “had” to leave behind to work for a family in Hong Kong. We were married for 40 years and I now know that he cheated on me for most of those years. It has taken me the better part of almost two years to get my mind around the truth of how badly I was played and to even begin to visualize how my new life is going to work.

    I tried therapy, life coaches, 12 step groups, drinking, smoking, church and for a long time nothing helped. I hate to say it but it just takes time. The pain and confusion were so awful at first, that I didn’t think I could survive if it was going to take time to feel even slightly normal. But time, and as little contact as possible are finally helping.

    I’m still not completely over the anger but I’m finally at a new normal and I’m so much better. Everything Chump Lady says is true. He’s a disordered person who is nothing but a fraud. You’re a wonderful caring person and it sounds like you’ve got a lot going for you. This is difficult stuff to process. You WILL feel better. You WILL get past this and have a good life especially now that you’re free. Don’t compare yourself to fake. Neither of them will ever be as mighty as you. One day you will realize that Miss CrossFit took the bullet that could have hit you.

    • What is it with men and younger women ( i know its an ego boost etc ) but apart from Money what do women see in older men ?

      Your Ex husband was married longer than she was alive – Eeewww

      I am 45 and i don’t want to date a 75 year old man or even a 65 year old one ! My STBX is almost 46 his whore is 29 . When we got married she was still at school !

      I don’t want to date a man of 61 ( same age difference as my STBX )
      I find it all indescribably weird to be honest .

      • I don’t understand it either, unless much older guy is rich and therefore charismatic. I also don’t know any couples with big age differences.

      • They see absolutely nothing other than money. They do not find him sexy or witty or anything else. They see he has the golden ticket to help them on their feet so they can find a hot guy to go with knock boots with.

      • The younger women either have “daddy” issues or are lazy with a case of “idontwanttoworkitis” and therefore need a meal ticket. Neither scenario will end well.

        • KB22, Don’t sweat it – if they stay together she will end up as a carer for an old man. Changing an incontinence pad can’t be really romantic can it?

      • I’m 47 and the ow was 27. That was enough for me to send him packing. If that what he wants, good luck.

      • It disgusting! My Stbx was 44 when he started with a 20 year old two years ago. Our daughter is now 18 and it makes me feel sick to think that the OW (or should I say other girl) was only two years older than her. Three of the other OG’s were 18, 20 and 21. I don’t know about the rest but I assume they were of a similar age. I honestly don’t know what they all saw in him. I can only assume that he charmed the pants of them with bullshit because he is not that hot!

        I try not to compare myself to them because I believe that he went after them to boost his own ego and it really had nothing to do with me. In fact, comparing yourself assumes that you can only have a faithful partner if you are pretty enough and it also legitimises his behaviour.

    • Ex Pilot
      Excellent advise. Myself 34 years & it does take time to feel somewhat normal again. ???? Hugs

      • I get it.
        You wonder….why her? Why is he awesome for HER?? What does she have that I don’t have?
        Let’s see?? No special needs son and a flat stomach.
        I get what you are going through. I went through it all and still have days where I reflect and question things because it just makes no sense.
        I kept thinking that he was awful and that it would blow up any second……that was almost 5 years ago and now he’s raising her kids and they are planning their wedding.
        So….not blown up.
        Here’s the growth that only comes with time and distance:
        It doesn’t matter who he is to her, it only matters who he was to me. He was an awful human to me.
        I know that eventually this relationship will blow up, because he is who he is. I continued to believe in him after 17 years and five mistresses. So I don’t know why am shocked that she is still with him after only five years, when she was one of the mistresses.
        I don’t plan to spend my life waiting around for his to implode.. I am also planning my wedding. I have a great guy who loves me and is involved in the lives of my kids. I think the worst, is that now he’s made me not trust people. I have someone in my life and he’s wonderful, but whenever something happens that makes even one tiny hair on the back of my neck stand up, I just want to flee. I have to catch myself, because I know thats a scar he left on me.
        I’m happy, and I’m not with a fuckwit anymore.
        He’s him, and she’s saddled with him. That’s her punishment.
        Go be happy. You know what she has that you don’t??

        • Congratulations to you on your upcoming wedding Paintwidow – you deserve some happiness. But I know what you mean about trust. I think the biggest hatred I have for my ex is that I don’t think I will ever trust a man again, which is sad because there are some great guys out there!

        • Paintwidow: “It doesn’t matter who he is to her; it only matters who he was to me.” Perfect.

        • Sometimes there’s just people in line for the rodeo. It’s time for her to learn what we had to.

          • The ride is not very fun. It really doesn’t matter how sexy or how beautiful or how wonderful you are. It is their character and patterns. that determine how the ride goes. It ends in disaster. Dont ride or die.

    • It’s true, neither of them will ever be at all mighty. Cheaters are just shitty. You can’t make valid comparisons between good, caring & honest people and shallow cheaters.
      Just trust that they suck because they REALLY doo.

    • Ex Pilot’s Wife, love this. You’re the poster child for mighty ❤

  • Dear Mum! This guy used to beat you? I know you can’t see it now but you are better off. You cannot raise your child around that! Do not ever allow anyone to ever assault you. That is extremely bad for you and especially you child to be raised around that. Please reach out to your support like family and friends and please do not ever consider getting back with him. From the way you talked I would be very worried you would take him back if he were to come crawling back if things don’t work out between him and OW. Don’t envy what she has. He didn’t change and his true colors will come out. As CL says you need to work on yourself so you don’t have the same type of guys coming around. Please please talk to your friends and family and please post here for support as well. Very good support system here. Everyone here is pulling for you. Let us help you.

  • Oh Comparing Exhausted Mom – PLEASE don’t beat yourself up any further! He did a real nasty number on your head and got you hooked on self-flagellation.

    Please don’t let him continue to live in your head, for free. He should be paying you for that valuable real estate. He isn’t? Then work on evicting the bastard.

    Therapy. Journaling. Blogging. Taking your 8 yo to the park.

    I’m squidgy. I’ve been treated for breast cancer (so I was squidgier, bald, had a unilateral mastectomy, radiation AND had to have my ovaries removed) and it sucked sucked sucked. I always hated the color pink and I hate it even more now when everywhere you got treated was loaded with pink.

    If you don’t have the time or inclination to lose the weight to show off your abs of steel (which, by the way, you DO have or your couldn’t walk), then compromise. Play with your hair color (pigmented conditioners are all the fun without a year long commitment to the color or a hair stylist). Go roller skating. Read a book with your kid. Ride a carousel. Flip your ex the bird.

    He has no substance. I bet if his newest shiny toy loses any of her twinkle (see breast cancer – above), he’ll be out of there like a shot.

    You’re amazing. If you have any doubt about it, ask your son.

    • Shit. Fuck. I’m so sorry. Wow, that’s tough.

      And you’re exactly right.

      I don’t want a man unless he’s prepared to take on the storm with me. Because life is hard and will always have obstacles. To keep it shiny it to remain shallow.

    • Our stories are so similar. I was bald and sick, recovering from chemo, surgery and awaiting radiation when I discovered his secrets. Talk about feeling weak and miserable.

      Exhausted Mum,
      It’s been 8 months and I’m now rocking a very short hairstyle and awaiting reconstruction surgery next week. He is stuck with himself and yet another schmoopie.

      We can’t compare ourselves to anybody, whether they’re screwing our spouses or competing in a triathlon.

      Start where you are and move one step at a time. It sounds trite, but it does work.

      • I hope your surgeries and recoveries go beautifully!

        Have you started rocking the chemo curls? They’re temporary, but so nice and cool for the summertime.

        • Thank you so much!

          LOL, just gelled them this morning. I know as soon as I get used to them they’ll straighten out. But yes, they are nice for the summer.

  • Ex left me for a triathlete, I’ll never come close to being a triathlete.

    AP has abs of steel along with your ex who is dishonest, selfish, and heartless.
    Who will never genuinely love anyone other than himself.

    She didn’t win the “prize” she won the sparkly turd.
    You got rid of an imposter.

    • Such accomplished business women, sportists and great hair, yet all they can manage is starting as a second fiddle? I’m so envious.

    • Mine left me for her trainer. Now, they live together and she is paying someone else to train her. 🙂

    • Mine left me for her trainer. Now, the live together and she is paying someone else to train her. 🙂

  • Thank you to everyone who has commented. It’s so helpful and heartwarming.

    Chump Lady – you are right on the money. I needed to hear that. I will start using my energy to start making positive gains and changes in my life and snap myself every time I figure it’s okay to beat myself with a stick. Thank you Chump Lady!!

    Narkles- gold!

    One thing I can say about myself that is positive is that I AM a good soul with so much compassion. I just need to work on my boundaries.

    Knowing that it’s all a show helps. The thing is, the nex has tried cheating on her with me before. Many times. I didn’t buy into and I have now blocked him so I don’t undo any progress made from his contact.

    He didn’t physically hurt me often – but he did. Pushed me off the bed. Spat on my face. Kicked me. Shoved me. He’d also say I’m a whore or slut if we’d go out and men would approach me (I’m considered an attractive woman to many but I just don’t see it myself). Yet I’d never talk those me. But he would then leave me sitting alone so he could flirt with other women, and give them compliments that I’d never received from him. Well, not since love-bombing stage. But he was still clever at saying backhanded compliments so I would always be second guessing myself and my appearance.

    You’re all right. OW took the bullet for me. Her tough abs took the bullet.

    I did this abusive, cheating toxic dance with him for years. I need to break the cycle of my thought pattern. I’m only hurting myself now. Again… put down that stick!

    Audiobooks is a great idea!

    I did recently take a trip to Iceland and Ireland and went glacier hiking, northern lights spotting and waterfall climbing. It was magical and helped me realise how I still have life in me…

    Keep the comments coming please!! They are so helpful! Just knowing I’m not alone in this is warming me up.

    • And to add… whilst my son is unable to talk and is extremely exhausting… he is always smiling at me, hugging me, and in awe of me. I have to remember that a boy who is unable to communicate and has limited receptive language ADORES me and has empathy even though I was told he would have none (example: seeing me cry and he came up in his very autistic way, slapping his chest, then held my face, looked at my eyes that had tears, and just started at me… then he kissed me, smiled at me and then he started to cry… oh my goodness. I created my son!!!)

      • Wow, that just brought tears to my eyes! Smart boy on the deepest level:-)

        • Wow! That gave me goosebumps. Your son is so precious, your life so meaningful, and your love so REAL! ❤ that’s something miss abs of steel doesn’t have with the defective hand me down. Y

      • Insecure Chump,
        Your posts are so beautiful, because they are a refelection of the beautiful person that you are.
        And, you are so wise.
        I am so very proud of you that you are determined to make as good, and as happy, a life, as possible for you and your precious son. You are doing this independently of any other person and especially without such a horrible person as your ex being involved.
        I know that as Chumps, sometimes we think that it really isn’t much regarding physical abuse, but just one slap, just one punch is one too many.
        YOU are a wonderful, sane, loving, present, MOM!
        Stay Mighty dear sweet lady!

    • I completely understand. I was told by him that she was “younger and fitter than you” and “I like her skin” and “I like the way she kisses me.”. She is 7 years younger (I’m 48). Her body looks like a boy’s with no curves at all and she has this massive bobble head. I weigh 115lbs have great albeit freckled skin and appropriate curves (yes, belly fat sucks). I also am told that I’m attractive. He would tell me that I’m “so naturally beautiful”. He has a hairy pimply back and probably will eventually lose his hair.

      It’s hard when you are replaced so abruptly. You keep trying to figure out why. But know this. Your OW and my OW and your STBX and my STBX are all very ugly people. As we get older, the inner beauty outshines the outer beauty. As my therapist says, “feel the feels, it sucks but it’s all part of the healing process. It’s been just over a year from D-Day for me and almost 7 months when I kicked him out. I’m not ready to date either. I would not think it fair to either me or my kids or the men I date. Work on you and when you’re ready, you’ll know.

      My 16 year old is ASD. I get the special needs isolation but it doesn’t need to be. There are lots of great people and organizations to help. As your son gets older, it will hopefully be easier and you can have some breaks.

      Huge hugs to you and know, I think you are mighty, beautiful and amazing.

      • This is the phrase I would lose forever: “when you are replaced.” That is only true if we look from the perspective of the cheater, who can trade partners like some people change their socks. The problem is that cheaters can jump from relationship to relationship without a pause. And that’s an indication that there is something wrong with them. He may, indeed, be replacing one woman with another, but that says NOTHING about either woman. It says volumes about his lack of character, about his capacity for exploitation and lack of empathy.

        Are the people you love REPLACEABLE in your life? Can you replace a family member who dies? Or even a pet? You can get another cat or dog but that’s not the pet you are grieving. Over the years, I’ve had 4 close friends move 1000-2000 miles to the west. Although we’re still in contact, it’s not the same as seeing those people every day, sharing their lives. And while I make other friends, they don’t “replace” the ones who are further away now.

        I know it feels like we are “replaced” as if we were a refrigerator that is not stainless steel. I know we feel like the avocado or harvest gold refrigerator or the dated bathroom tile that is so scorned on home improvement shows. But when cheaters live a double life and then leave for the AP, that reflects the shallowness of the cheater. We know people aren’t replaceable. They don’t.

    • You sound like an amazing woman. You can do so much better if and when you are ready to date again. Not that you ever need to date. You are awesome all on your own.

    • He’s an abuser and the abuse always escalates. Any guy that would push, spit, shove and call you vile names is someone you don’t need in your life, definitely not your child’s life. An abusers MO is to seek out partners that they perceive as weak and would be thrilled to be in a relationship with them….they tend to gravitate toward single mothers. They figure you have more restrictions, less dating options and therefore will tolerate more crap. Be glad the sniveling coward left.

    • Thank your lucky stars that he chose to cast you aside. Not only was he ruining your mental health and physically HARMING YOU, it was only a matter of time before he did the same, or worse, to your son.

      Please find a therapist who specializes in people with PTSD and/or spousal abuse. You have so much to unpack so you never ever find yourself with another abuser.

      The first time someone treats you disrespectfully is the last they see of you. When someone shows you who they are – BELIEVE THEM.

      It will take time. Intermittent reinforcement is powerful. How powerful? Well, you only need a crappy reward 5-25% of the time to keep you placing bets. You don’t even need to break even to keep playing! It’s worse when they can love bomb you or somehow convince you that you deserved their wrath.

      Don’t fall for it anymore. Please.

      “Intermittent reinforcement affects the way we think about rewards. Think about slot machines. Slot machines are programmed to keep a small percentage (usually 5-25%) of the money and pay out the rest in “random” winnings and jackpots. If the payout was predictable, for example, if on every play the gambler entered one dollar and got back exactly 90 cents, the odds would be the same but the gambler would quickly get bored and annoyed. What keeps them feeding the machine is the frequent small payouts (2-10 times the bet), the occasional medium sized payouts (50-100 times the bet) and the dream of the rare payout (over 1000 times the bet). Most people will feed small and medium-sized winnings straight back into the machine and keep playing until they get bored or go broke. That’s how intermittent reinforcement works. Slot machines account for approximately 70% of casino earnings.”

    • It was never, never, never, never, never you. These sick people do number on your psyche, your emotions and even your bodies. You can’t carry that much stress and not have it show up.

      CL’s right – just stop with the comparing. Give me a squishy, kind man any day of the week over something with no emotional substance. You are comparing traits that are superficial. Look inside those people – the same ones who were willing to hurt you, tear apart your family and leave you standing there. Those people don’t count because they have nothing to offer. Who wants to live a life based on the trimmings? Those fade and fall apart eventually and then they are left with sad looking houses that are empty on the inside.

      Take your son and build a life that’s the best for you two. Your letter speaks to your mightiness. Don’t be afraid to grab it and let it show.

    • I will also add that whenever you start to think about those “wonderful times” that he is having without you, instead think about all of those good times and amazing experiences you are having without him. Not only did he miss out on “a trip to Iceland and Ireland and went glacier hiking, northern lights spotting and waterfall climbing”, he is never going to have anybody love him the way your son loves you. He will never experience that because he isn’t capable of experiencing that. You win.

  • It does take some reframing to realize what he did was about who he is and nothing about who you are. And his accomplice in crime? She’s no prize either. Look at what you value and spend your time and energy on. Look at what she values and spends time and energy on.

    Dr. Cheaterpants compared me to another mommy one time (her husband had divorced her and she was shacked up with the flavor of the month). She would hit on anything that moved. She was a fitness instructor and gave private lessons in her home. Always had her hair bleached and done with full makeup. Manipedi’s. A body that would put an 18 year old to shame. Showed up late to her daughter’s events in yoga pants, tight top, heels–I shit you not. Her ex took care of the kids, he adulted. He had a regular job.

    I told my now ex, I could look like that too if I spent all my time and energy pursuing it. It’s not how I choose to live. Granted he left for a 20-something who did spend her time on looks. Now he’s begging the kids to come take care of his home and yard for them. He doesn’t have anyone to adult. He doesn’t have any kids who want a real relationship with him. The kids, my family, etc… spend quality time together.

    If you were shallow and vain, you could dump your child, slack off at work and spend your time going to the gym, the hair and nail salon, and hooking up with fuckwits. I’m guessing that doesn’t sound good.

    Once you grieve and heal, work on gaining that life, fix your picker, you may decide to date real people with real values and not users and abusers. You are so worth that!! Or you may decide you are enough and your life brings you joy that you have created. And you will realize you are lucky to have dead weight of a taker out of your life!!

    You are super mighty!!

    • CL has a great cartoon somewhere showing NOW: dickhead and the dollybird with the chump looking on in distress, and THEN: 15 years later, the chump is backpacking the world cos she’s retired and the kids have flown the nest, while the former dollybird has two snotty kids in diapers and an adult whose arse she also has to wipe – the cheater! It’s brilliant!

  • Detaching takes time and practice especially when you’ve been physically and emotionally abused. Over time you’ll wonder how the hell you ever accepted those breadcrumbs while being broken down.

    When you look in the mirror tell your story. It’s a reflection of a woman who cares deeply about helping others, loving her son and is worthy of being loved, cherished and appreciated.

    I asked the Limited what he saw when he looked in the mirror after DDay five years ago. That’s his story.

  • CEM, if part of a person is going to be flabby from excessive overindulgence, better our abs than our souls. You rock, AP sucks, FULL STOP.

  • “abs like an exploded can of biscuits” …just snorted coffee!

    • Yup I have those exploded can of biscuits abs too and I’m on the bigger side but it does not seem to be an issue. There are men for whom my mind and personality are much more important. I am lovable and my bf absolutely thinks so too. He has the squishy middle too. Two peas in a pod. I agree with all that was said . Start living your new life. Try to get some respite as it sounds like you need it. Date when you’re ready. There are men out there just waiting for you.

      • Agreed.
        The squidgies are fungible and superficial, but good character, a quick wit and stellar personality are cornerstone…and priceless!
        Also, I’m 15 months out – still not ready to date. I’ll get there eventually. Until then, I’m gonna keep doing me (literally and figuratively) and let time take care of the rest.

  • Hey just some perspective here: I’m a skinny blond chump who is told all the time how much more attractive I am than the OW. Trust me, it doesn’t make me feel better. Betrayal, Torture, and Abandonment followed by Working Single Mom Loneliness hurts like hell no matter what the players in this shit-show look like. Also, you’ve met nice men? God, I have not. I’ve kind of given up. Not that I’m pushing you to date, you don’t sound like your ready, which is totally normal, it’s only been a year. But please please please stop thinking this has anything to do with your body, I promise you it doesn’t. You are an awesome woman. Be kinder to yourself

    • We all latch on to anything to compare and put ourselves down. We all want a reason.
      The truth is they suck. They lied and cheated.
      No matter how we look, act, eat garlic, give to children, we win.

      We are better people.

  • Mum, Healing takes time. You are also grieving. People heal differently. Please do not be so hard on yourself. And stop comparing yourself to the OW. There is no comparison. She screws other peoples husbands. You are a Mom caring for a disabled child. You are a teacher. You are a mighty women who overshadows the OW. Let her have the abusive pig. Karma will bite both of them in the ass.

    It is OK to get angry. It is ok to cry. Being cheated on does not define you. It is 2.5 years since I found out about my husband’s 4 yr affair with my cousin. And finally my healing is over. And i realized I did nothing wrong. My husband cheated because he wanted to. If it would not have been with my cousin it would have been with some other women. Let them have each other.

    • This. You are an overworked mum looking after a special needs child and a teacher. She is happy to run off with married men without a thought for your son no doubt. The abs just aren’t getting anywhere close to us being able to even start a comparison my dear.

      Shiny new toy that he believes he loves. The way he treat you . Unforgivable.

      A year is no time when your world has been turned upside down. Go easy on yourself. Unfortunately at this point people expect you to have ‘moved on’. Work on the things CL says but it’s quite understandable to say you are working on healing and recovering from something thar put your life into free fall and frankly there isn’t a 12 month time limit on how long you need to recover. When I think about OW who is now grooming my child. I just realise how can you compare. If you compare the 36 year old child free career successful me to her a fairer fight but I am not that and I have responsibilities and more years on me. It’s a ridiculous comparison but what I do know is I wouldn’t swap places for her for anything. Would you? I doubt it. Keep fighting the fight.

  • He’s going to do the same things he did to you to his next victim.

    These kinds of men do not pick weak women. So it’s not due to you being weak that he did these things.

    And the most important thing to remember is these kinds of men DO NOT change. Please read about this online.

    I went through the same things you did and believe me you are much better off without him. This is his loss not yours. It’s a blessing you are away from him and safe. And whatever you do not go back, nor take him back. I cannot stress this enough. The abuse will just get worse.

    You are a strong capable woman and an awesome mother. You deserve better.

    • Abusers pick (prey on) decent women that are selfless, hard working and responsible. They see these wonderful traits as a weakness to use and abuse. You are so right about him doing the same things to his next victim. The abuser is not going to have an epiphany and change his ways with the new woman. The OW will be abused as well, after he hooks her with the honeymoon period.

  • Their life isn’t fabulous. He’s still the awful person he always was, and she’s getting punched in those perfect steely abs.

  • I remember comparing myself to the 18 years younger OW. She was pretty, OK, but I have legs long as Monday! I know, it was childish, but I thought “grow such long lean model worthy legs you stinky shrimp if you can”! She is wrinkly now, as am I but I still have those toned lean yoga/pilates legs. Childish, I know, but it makes me smile and then I have another cookie with my tea 😉

    • Ha! I have those legs, too. And maybe having my soft curves will be much preferable than a hard rock body!

  • I don’t know about the other guys here. Had the same issues. He had abs of steel. Had muscles on top of muscles. I could not compare physically. Shit does mess with ones head. You compare and question your worth. Turns out he can’t keep a job, is a drug and alcohol abuser with a shit attitude. Not really an upgrade! Funny thing is, as she was chasing the exbf love of her life, she was hit in by a 26 year old. She started having sex with him. In essence cheating on the guy she was cheating on me with. He was short and chubby. One gets to the point you quit trying to figure it out. These people are sick and crazy.

    • “One gets to the point you quit trying to figure it out.”

      A good place to be!!

    • TOTALLY!!

      I had issues at first, the OM had these “heroic” photos on FB and I felt like such a little pos. Blocking him on FB and shutting that all off was a critical step in the right direction.

      I came across (on accident) a recent photo of OM, he’s all fat & croc-shoed jelly man in real life. Just another middle-aged beer-bellied sob. Made me feel WAY better.

      XW is beyond this OM. On to her new guy.

    • Just want to note that many people serving decades in prison have rock-hard abs, truly stunning physiques. That doesn’t mean they are attractive or make good partners.

  • Dearest CEM,

    From one exhausted single special needs mom to another, LISTEN to Chump Lady! Be kind to yourself. Not sure how, every time your inner voice starts criticizing, think is this how I would talk to my boy? Would I tell him he’s ugly? Boreing? Call him lame or a loser? No? Didn’t think so. Take care of YOU like you take care of him. Stand up for and protect yourself like you would that precious boy. Even if you don’t feel like you deserve that level of care and devotion I promise you, you do. And besides, you are all he has. So start doing it for him if you have to, and after a while you will realize how awesome and deserving you are and you will take care of you for you.

    This is what worked for me. There is absolutely nothing I would not do for my boy. Getting myself healthy in mind body and spirit may be the best thing I’ve ever done for him.

  • IC, there will be good days and bad days. Allow yourself to have both. Give yourself grace. You have been dragged through hell by a demon, and of course will have some burns. But you SURVIVED.

    The comparison game is something we have all played. “What does she have that I don’t?” The truth is…a different vagina. He can say it was her rock-hard abs, her painted toenails, how they agree on folding towels. But the reality is that there was a woman who batted her eyes at him in an oh-so-fetching way, that, well, he had no choice but to fuck her because he has no personal boundaries. YOU, however, do. And you are mighty for enforcing them, painful as it may be. The next step is to hone your no-contact, avoid “pain-shopping” (easier said than done), and get on with your fuckwit-free life.

    And remember that this woman with the rock-hard abs is no prize. SHE knowingly slept with a married man. One or both will cheat on the other. It is only a matter of time.

    You guys, I have become quite disillusioned by the whole gym and fitness thing. While I realize there are many reasons why people go to gyms, all I can see now are a bunch of shallow, narcissistic people who believe looks trump character every time. I would rather dig a ditch than go to a gym. In the meantime, I try to get in 10,000 steps a day, watch my diet, and have dropped 44 pounds since DDay over 2 years ago. 6 pounds to go! My mid-section will never again be rock-hard, but I don’t care, and IF there is a future lover in my cards, he won’t care either.

    • I’m a chump, and I like the gym. I’m in my sixties, and I work out simply to feel stronger. I find that I walk differently now that I’m a bit fitter – after my husband left I walked with my head down and shoulders rounded, like I was ashamed of myself. My dream is to be tough and confident and scary, like Sarah Connor in Terminator.

      • You go, Catherine! Not bashing everybody, really, and I recognize my own prejudices in this realm. My STBX got hard-core into fitness when he was busy having affairs with ,multiple women, would preen before the mirror, would sneer at my slow-but-steady approach to weight loss. So, yeah, I’m jaded.

        But I also know there are many people who go to the gym to become healthy, pure and simple.

  • “Do not assign meaning to other people’s lives.” This is what my therapist would say whenever I would compare my life to my ExH’s new life with his new wife.

  • It is hard not to compare yourself when you get left for somebody else. It’s part of untangling the skein. We so badly want to understand why this could happen and if we love our partner we tend to go along with the narrative that it is something wrong with us or something better about the other person. If we aren’t comparing looks, we end up comparing something else. In my case I thought she was better because she has perfect grammar, better fashion sense and knows how to fold laundry efficiently. He also had me convinced that she was better at being social because she talks about herself incessantly and never shuts up and I don’t do that. She has five children and I only have three. She is a SAHM and I am a working mother. I seriously thought these things made her a better person and me a loser. I know better now. You will too in time. It really is about values. You have allowed his shitty values to infect your brain. Time and distance will help you to overcome that. You are the better person. Good luck.

  • I work out regularly for at least 45 years. I was once 585 lbs I’m now in the lower 300’s and feel great. Do i look like some of the other guys in the gym? No ! I’m the senior bad ass there but not GQ cover material . A young woman joined the gym a few years ago looking to improve her looks . About a year or so after her joining we would talk . She shared that she recently divorced and was shocked that he cheated with a model type as he had assured her that he loved her as she was. By the terms used on this sight i feel like she was doing the “pick me dance”. I’m not really sure what helped her out of the apparent funk she understandably was in but whatever it was awesome . Her self confidence and outlook is infectious and amazing . Friday she came in to the gym with a tee shirt that was printed with “Strong is the new Skinny ” i though that was perfect

  • My STBXH left me for a 19 year old. He is 33. His youngest brother (who he was a father figure to) is 20. I’ve done the whole comparison spiral. I work in an actual career field, successfully I might add, while they both work a nothing job at a smoke shop for pennies. I’m not the most fit, but I am healthy and mature with all my faculties, she is horribly unhealthy and mentally way behind the mark.
    What I found is that it isnt about her at all. It’s about him and his own selfish needs. It is about the life I thought I had and now I don’t. He and I were together for 10 years and married for 6. The man I knew enjoyed a challenge, the man he actually is is lazy and going for low hanging fruit. He is not worth the mental gymnastics I had put myself through trying to figure out how she stole him. She didn’t. She was just easy pickings.

    • “She was just easy pickings.” Yes this. This is what they are after and all that they can find when they start looking while still married.

  • Side note: The rubber band thing? If you want to stop thinking negative thoughts, get smelling salts off Ebay. They come in bullet shaped containers that you break open. Negative thought? Break one open and give it a whiff. It is SO painful, you’ll actually be afraid to think that thought again.

  • Also – I feel it’s important to note that your abs and dark hair had zero to do with the treatment you received. I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that “good looking, fit people” are worthy and don’t get slapped about, cheated on, lied to, etc because it’s not true. At all.

    I had been married for a mere 15 months when my first (and only) D-Day hit. We had no children, both gainfully employed, I was 30 years old with those ‘abs of steel’ and a big rack. None of that made me bulletproof. If that’s not enough, remember, Shania Twain got chumped along with a lot of other amazing, talented, good looking rich folks.

    Those things happened because he’s an asshole. He chose her because she was willing. As CL says, he lit the fire but you’ve got the bucket of water. Use it.

  • It’s only a year out for you. Don’t listen to anyone or anything that tells you your grief has to end on a certain timeline. You spent a significant portion of your life with this man. Uprooting from that is not easy. Especially when you’ve been duped.

    Someone posted in the forums the other day a really good piece from the NY Times. It points out that people who manipulate and decieve and do selfish things tend to be more accepted by society because there’s the *potential* for them to change and become better people (protip: don’t fall in love with potential.) They have their lives, their narratives, intact because they know all the details of what they’ve been doing. They know the whole truth from day 1.

    But it’s more difficult for those who have been used and hurt by these decievers. Largely because we DON’T have the whole truth, and what we believed to be so is false. Often this means suddenly questioning reality. And for those of us in decades-long marriages, that can mean almost our whole lives. The narrative of the betrayed is nebulous and shaken. We don’t have that benefit of having all the pieces in place. And narcs can just walk away from the past like it’s nothing. For those they leave behind, not so much. And Chumps also have to contend with the embarrassment of prying questions into our intelligence and naivite about how we didn’t see it coming, how we missed the red flags, how could we have not known???

    Point being, it’s hard, and when you are the sole caregiver of a special-needs child on top of it all, it’s exhausting. So be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself for the self-deprication, forgive yourself for the comparisons, and listen more to that part of you that says you’re a good person. No matter what OW’s abs look like, or what color her hair is, she’s an OW and she won an abusive cheater. That’s not a prize. Also, remember, “If he’ll cheat with you, he’ll cheat on you.” It’s likely he’ll just eventually cheat on her too. If he hasn’t already. Abs don’t stop cheaters any more than muffin tops cause them.

    Plus, I assure you, that crossfit stuff probably takes up a huge part of her life. To get visible abs, you have to spend a ridiculous amount of time at the gym. I’m talking like, two hours a day, 6 days a week. And the insane amount of food monitoring you have to do as well. (I dated a dude who had visible abs, and one of my best friends is a body builder. She spends at least that much time at the gym preparing for shows and counts every calorie, carb, and ounce of protein. The dude with abs was constantly breathing down my neck, judging every bite of food I ate, and never missed a chance to tell me what I was doing wrong at the gym. …it’s …really not something to be jealous of. Enjoy your life, enjoy your food. Being healthy and happy doesn’t require visible abs.)

  • My two-cents about younger, “perfect” women, lest you think all men are “like that.”

    I am 52, 6’3″, handsome, tenured college professor (if it matters).

    I am and have been for 25 years surrounded by women 18-25 five days a week. I can’t tell you how uninterested I am in them–and to be honest, women under 40 in general. Do you know who catches my eye? A woman around my age who is imperfect (in other words, human) as I am, a woman who has lived life and transcended advsersity. A woman who is smart, feminine, cries easily, is endearingly neurotic, squats down to gush over dogs, and is physically attractive enough to turn me on. And who moans audibly when she eats a spicy tuna roll. Could be tall, short, buxom, flat-chested, chubby… Much younger=turn off.

    As for their perfect life? Pfft. Don’t believe it for a minute. My ex (objectively beautiful with a flaccid black sac for a heart) and her AP are miserable together, and have been for seven years.

  • I don’t think these folks actually leave FOR someone else. I think they leave because they are always bored and need new shiny kibbles to distract them from who they really are. They are empty, and they look for others to reflect well on them. But they are never satisfied. Some kibbles are easer to manage than others, and if you are trusting, and naïve, and a loving, giving person, you are easy prey for these predators. Sex with someone else is not necessarily better, but it is different, and if you are not supposed to be doing it, it has that delicious taste of forbidden fruit. Comparing yourself to others is really a waste of time, because you are who you are, and you don’t change that FOR another person.

    The best thing for you to do for yourself is decide what type of attributes you have, and how to encourage yourself to be the best you that you can be. There are things you CAN change and sustain, and things you cannot. Pick what is important to you and plan how to make yourself into your best self. When you live your life reflecting on how to make your good qualities better, and whether or not it is possible to change or diminish your bad qualities, then you will stop comparing yourself to others. You will be living authentically, according to your own value system, and you will no longer worry about others who don’t actually live a life, but instead present an image of one for the world at large to see.. People who are authentic seek others who are authentic, and friendship and attraction is bases on finding those whose values are a good match for your own. Personally I would rather have one good friend than a thousand followers on social media. Of course I don’t do social media, and don’t really know what it is I am not finding any value for, but from what I have been told, it holds no attraction for me. My point is I do know what I value, and don’t care about all the rest. I am closer to contentment now than I ever was in my earlier life, when I was trying to live according to what others told me was important and valuable. Even those who love you don’t always actually know what is best for you. You choose your own path.

    • Some also leave once you see them for the disordered souls they are. Deceivers can only tolerate abject admiration. Once the gig’s up, they are gone.

      • To add to your point, some leave because they can’t stand someone standing up to them or calling out their bullshit. What triggered the obvious devaluation was my questioning Jackass when he broke promises.

  • Mum —

    You sound super pretty, what with your black hair and curvy body. Men LOVe that look. (Madonna has abs of steel, you know what Guy Ritchie said about sex with that? It was like cuddling up to gristle.)

    Look at the cartoons on this website, I swear they have healing powers. Find the sparkly turd cartoon. Yah. It’s a steaming pile of poop, with pink frosting and sparkles. Oh my goodness. How I laughed when I saw that. Tears ran down my cheeks, still I laughed and laughed. But there are other healing cartoons that CL has up in the website. Use them as medicine!! They are so healing —

    My intuitive healer told me that James Bond didn’t love me, and he never did. Do you think that hurt me? No, it didn’t, it was also medicine and there was a resonance to those words (you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free). Every time that I get soft in the heart for Asshole, I remember: “he didn’t love you, and he never did.” This has helped me so much: it’s sobering!!! No longing for a fantasy — which is the greatest coldest fog of pain.

    ChumpLady has thought all of this through. She uses the idea of a hologram husband. Not real. What I thought was real was not real. It’s counter-intuitive maybe, but for me, facing the truth about that “marriage” has made me more of a Badass than I could ever have imagined. And I like being a badass.

    Here are two more sayings that help me: “Be your own hero.” and “Be addicted to the feeling of having your shit together.” What is helping you now, Mum? C’mon, share with the Chump Nation, what saying, thought or cartoon is giving you sustenance?

  • My OW is also very skinny and has abs of steel. She was a friend of mine and used to show herself of on facebook. Yep. She would pose in bikini pictures and with tops that would show off her abs. She started this the second the affair started. Of course then I did not know this. All I knew was that my friend changed and displayed some odd behavior. She seemed all over sudden too interested in making her body the forefront of who she was. She talked about herself on FB, nearly bragging. I mean seriously, who displays a promotion immediately on FB when most of the people you work with are your friends? It felt like bragging. So I told my then husband:
    “I think Susan is having an affair”. She worked for him. I also pointed out that I found her posing in these skimpy bikinis highly inappropriate considering that the people working for and with her are all her FB friends. I also pointed out that I was no longer comfortable with her flirty FB to him. My ex did not find anything wrong with it. And defended her as being attractive and why not pose bikini pictures… You see that I am probably earning a chump crown for that story. I knew she was having an affair. I knew my ex defended her. And I even know they were on flirty terms… And… it did not occur to me that they were having a full affair. Until the moment she gave him an ultimatum and he decided to break up with me.

    So… my point being. You are not them. They have these abs and shiny lives and their “happiness”, because this is how they want to be perceived by the world. The fact that she owns her own business and STILL has time to work on her abs shows me that she has one priority: HERSELF. She probably only dated a married man, because she liked the competition. She is shallow. She wants to win. She is in it for herself.
    And you ex?
    Sounds like mine down to the physically and emotionally abusive aspect of your relationship.
    It takes time to recover from all of that. Don’t pressure yourself.

    • inescapable, I thought the same thing with ex’s AP, she’s constantly training for the next body building competition, marathon, triathlon which are usually held on weekends and holidays. There’s also at least a day of travel time to most of these events which are held in other states.
      She works full time as a professor and is an attorney, so where do her children fit in to her schedule?
      I don’t see where she would have time to attend or be involved in any of their activities.

      They need to win, enjoys competing, she’s shallow and she’s in it for herself and the attention.
      This is why in a world of single men they chose to compete for the married men.
      Winning a cheater isn’t saying much..,

  • Comparing Exhausted Mum. I have been dedicated to my work outs since I was 36 years old. I have great abs and it didn’t make a bit of difference. My husband of 20 years still cheated. It’s not about us or how we look and it’s not even about the other woman who, btw, would stoop so low as to open her legs to a married man making her a despicable human being. It’s about the cheater and a hole they are trying to fill within themselves but never will. He is not a prize or someone to be fought over. He is someone you can’t fix and it sounds like he needs a lot of fixing.

    Please be kind to yourself. Look in the mirror and instead of seeing what you don’t like, see the things you do like. Your lovely face, beautiful eyes, dazzling smile, kind heart. Hold your head high because he did the dirty, not you.

    Don’t assume they are living a wonderful life. The things we see in our mind’s eye is not reality. Life with an abusive, narcissist, piece of shit can’t be good. Whatever prompted him to pursue and have an affair with another woman has not been addressed or resolved. She will be on the receiving end of his abuse not far down the road and she deserves it.

  • I was married to a man (Hannibal Lecher) for 19 years/together 24, who turned out to be a serial cheater. A significant post-divorce relationship turned out to be with a superficially “perfect” man who lied about (a) having been a serial cheater in his marriage; (b) having an alcohol problem (NEVER saw any evidence of that), (c) being a smoker (also carefully hid that because I am highly sensitive to smells), and was HIGHLY avoidant attachment style (despite seeming so at ease talking about feelings).

    Mindfuck? Oh, hell yes. The site (below) put so much in perspective about Emotionally Unavailable People and the False Self they use to rope us into an investment. There are 5 sections to the False Self. Read all of them because those of us with covert deceivers were duped by masters of Impression Management. Some of us were duped twice : (

  • I went through the same thing – I think we ALL did!! It’s grief, and it’s brutal, but you pick yourself back up and start rebuilding your life. I am 6 years out this summer (and 1.5 years post divorce) and just this year am able to see myself as such a badass. I have hard days, or crabby days, or days when I think I just can’t do it anymore, but I am the sane parent and I am an amazing mother to my 2 boys. I had to fight like hell for years against the fuckwit, who tried to ruin me and take my boys. But my boys look at me and have told me over the years how amazing and strong I am. Back when I was doing it, I certainly didn’t feel that way – I was terrified most of the time – but they are absolutely right. I kick some ass!!!!
    Do what makes you feel good – I think you need to make sure you have something that you do just for yourself. For me, I started working out more. Doing really intense style workouts that absolutely pushed me to my limits. Then I joined a crossfit gym 7 months ago and it was the most amazing thing that I have ever done for myself. I am stronger, have more energy, and being able to do the exercises and weight lifting makes me feel unstoppable (and I scale pretty much everything, and def don’t have abs of steel – I wish!!) My oldest son just started going to class with me last month, and he’s hooked too. It’s also incredible bonding time for both of us, and we’re so proud of how strong we are together!! Do something for yourself – if it’s reading, knitting, prayer group, whatever!! Make sure you carve some time out for yourself. I’m sure it’s extremely difficult when you are the sole parent to a special needs child, but see what you can manage because taking time for YOURSELF goes a long way!! Hang in there, and listen to Tracy. Wear a rubberband if you have to, but you can retrain your brain. You are NOT second class to the howrecker and your exhole. You are way too good for them and cannot even compare yourself – it’s like comparing potatoes to apples. ((Hugs))

  • Everyone here, hear ye hear ye!

    Please please PLEASE watch the documentary called “Embrace” on Netflix. It’s highly lady-focused, but the messages are all true for all of us.

    Your body is worth loving. Anyone who disagrees is a waste of energy. YOU are worth loving. Anyone who disagrees is a waste of energy.

    I re-watch it every couple of months to recharge. We have to inundate ourselves with more reminders than media can give us of the opposite in order to maintain perspective.

    Take the time to flood your own world with positive input. The kids need to learn from us how to see the world a better way, so we have to learn to do it first. ????

  • I am not terribly concerned what Soulless might be up to, but one of his APs was a younger, more realized, STUNNINGLY gorgeous version of myself. She was the reason that I completely quit all social media (I had been hanging on a bit to reconnect with old friends).

    Like me, she’s shy and nice and literate. So it’s not like I hate her, I don’t and I certainly have no interest about either of their lives.

    But it Murders me that she exists. There are times when I can’t even look in the mirror without biting back screams of rage and pain and hate. When I see illustrations of our type, or sometimes even the makeup on my face, I can only see her.

    This has nothing to do that random nice kid who my Ex lied to about his divorce. I don’t think I even remember her name.

    Those screams and sobs of hate? They’re for me. Everything that I’ve lost, or had stolen from me. Lots of things I’ve never even had. And because this is about me, it’s harder to dump with the rest of the trash.

    I thought that I was okay with giving up all I did for the sake of the special needs kiddos. I mean, after all, look at all we gained! The sweetest, coolest kids in the Universe! But I so get where your coming from.

    Big hugs!! And remember, you still got all the best stuff out of this: that priceless little face.

  • I am a slim, blonde, attractive 40 year old. But my ex still cheated on me. Why? CAKE. Kibbles! Entitlement! So much better to have multiple woman adore you! My ex is who he is – he will always be a cheater because he is a narcissist and incapable of the self reflection and ownership of his choices that would be the first step to ever not being a cheater. It’s about who he is, not about me.

    Your ex has not changed – he is still the same ugly person, and certainly AP’s flat set of abs are not going to change him. Surround yourself with people who value good character – you’re rocking that – and not looks and be thankful he’s out of your life.

  • CEM, it sounds like you have good values and a lot of caring that you are sharing with your son and students. Abs of steel can’t compare at all to good character.

    I think it’s fine that you don’t feel like dating now. Aside from the trauma you’ve been through, it sounds like you have a ton on your plate with caring for your son and your students at work. At a year post-dday, I wasn’t in a great emotional place because I was still in the thick of grieving and healing (and still trying to get out all the last lingering things of the ex out of the house out before the one-year mark…tax paperwork and what not). At that time, I wished I was further along and more “moved on,” but that just wasn’t where I was. Shortly after the one-year post-dday date, I threw myself a potluck party to celebrate surviving the year from hell. And things continued to slowly got better with time.

    Tomorrow will be six years from dday, and so much has changed. So much for the better. I’m happy and have been with my kind, others-focused partner for over four years now. I’ve learned about expecting reciprocity and choosing to be in a relationship with someone who can handle adult life tasks. And my ex? Well, he was with OW for four years or so but then has cycled through several other girlfriends in rapid succession after that. He left OW because he fell for someone else. I think he and those girlfriends have blown up at least a couple of relationship/families along the way because they were in relationships when they started dating. Anyhow, there’s nothing there for me to envy because that is the opposite of the life I’d want. I consider myself lucky he left when he did because after that I saw the unhealthy aspects of that relationship and eventually my life got better.

    CEM and anyone else in the early months/years, hang in there and give yourself the time you need to heal. (And going no contact is key. Redirect that energy back to taking are of yourself and your son…) And remind yourself as often as you need to that you are a good, caring person with character, and that’s something you can’t get with all the money in the world and a lifetime of crossfit.

  • Abs of steel, buns of butter, it really doesn’t matter. Trust that they suck. He absolutely sucks!

    Someone cheated and therefore they busted the contract. Broom them. Broom them faster and then board the doors if they are physically abusive on top of emotionally abusive.

    Actually – no. The first time they gut you and somehow try to make it YOUR fault for their crappy behavior – get them out and have done with them.

    Rock on with your awesome self.

  • I needed this message today, too. I had been dwelling in meh for a bit, but learning he bought his Schmoopie a two-story house with an in-ground pool threw me for a loop! Fuckwit never bought me a damn thing. In fact, I spent a lot of money on him over the years trying to keep him happy. There was a four-year stint where he could not work due to back problems, and I supported us and earned some PTSD from all the stress of keeping us afloat. When I was down and out, he fled with a 23-year-old ho-worker. I don’t envy her looks, her age, or the narkly turd. I envy that he spent money on her! He has become the used in the new scenario, though, and he’s completely supporting her. He hoovered his parents after 9 months of abandonment to show them the house and asked them to move in with him. I’m imagining that it is for their government checks. FUCKWIT!

    • He spends money on her because they are in the “overvaluation/love bombing stage.” He’s busy securing his supply and doing impression management to make him look good.

      He wants the parents to move in? With his young ho-worker? He needs more income to meet the mortgage.

    • Medusainmeh – eeewwww. He sounds like a wanker and an embarrassment

  • Like everyone else said, you are head and shoulders above those two dead inside scumbags. Her abs aren’t going to protect her from an abusive creep.

    If you do want to get fit, it doesn’t require the time investment you think. Women in their fifties should do strength training to ward off osteoporos. You don’t need a gym. Get a set of dumbells (obligatory joke about just getting rid of a dumbell aside) and do a strength workout at home for 20 minutes, 3 days a week. Who doesn’t have 20 minutes they can carve out of their day? You can add 20 minutes of cardio the other 3 days, or combine the two. You can do workout videos from YouTube. They have a huge variety. Working out will have the added benefit of making you feel better both physically and emotionally. Be too busy making a better life for you to even pay attention to the fuckwit’s fakeass life.

    • I started this last week! Thank you! Not to get abs of steel but to feel fit and mentally healthy.

  • Ugh. Left a whole paragraph out. You are mighty for what you’ve accomplished! Your diligence, power, and effectiveness are so much bigger than your weight or your measurements.

    Predators hunt the wounded. You are too remarkable for that bastard to handle.

  • If we could share pictures you would fall off your chair seeing me and then the OW. It makes no sense to anyone. Our cheaters are just sacks of shit and they were going to cheat no matter what. They were just waiting until the one skank spread her willing legs and that’s all there is to it. No twu luv bullshit or magic in it at all. These people are as faithful as their options so just know that it was never about you. Mark my words…money back guarantee… he will get abusive with schmoopie too.

  • I keep telling myself that any woman that is willing to have an affair with a married man with 2 young children, has shitty character. She comes to almost every pick up and drop off and sits in the car with a smug look on her face. Definitely something wrong with her!

    It doesn’t matter if a woman is skinnier, younger etc. If she can do what she did, she is ugly on the inside!

  • THANK YOU!!!

    I didn’t expect to feel relief from replies but I really do. I feel so much better.

    I’ve also come up with this list that is all about my positives and god it felt good to not put myself down for once!

    I don’t have abs of steel or big strong legs… but I am still slender and my soft body shows that I enjoy cheese, wine, and LIFE

    My body housed my gorgeous son

    I have 30 students in my class and 11 students have special needs. Some very significant. I don’t get much external help with my students. They were given to me because it’s my niche. Their parents are so happy (I’m in Australia so school is still happening right now). I get my students interested in things like the environment and refugees.

    I worked hard and went above the pay scale and now earn 6 figures. I am also studying externally to be a psychologist

    Yes she owns a hairdressing business and does cross fit… but I do more for others which I think makes me unique.

    I am also the women’s activist for the area and was voted in as well as the union representative. People trust me to lead them.

    My son adores me.

    My students adore me as do their parents.

    I cry over things on the news because I have EMPATHY.

    I play the drums. I like metal music and I’m actually quite funny and witty when I’m not depressed thinking about the ex turd and his rock hard woman.

    My ex tried cheating on her… with me. I denied. That’s the prize she gets!!!

    My prize… getting to bring back my old self… and also my son.

    I really hope I don’t sound like I’m gloating. I’m really not. I just realised that writing down the things that I’m good at or make me a good person actually help.

    He is a charming man and can have any woman he wants. He’s very attractive and intelligent too. But it really does mean nothing if you have no integrity or character.

    I think what really set me off was that they were happily playing tennis around the corner from my house knowing I would most likely see them. He saw me and gave me a smug look. It punched me in my soft guts.

    I can’t thank you all enough for your comments. They are helping me an enormous amount. And a big thank you to Chump Lady. This supportive place is simply amazing.

    • If he was secure and feeling good about himself, he would not be trying rub your nose in his new relationship by showing off himself and his AP, tennis partner. He needs you to feel bad to feel better about himself. Good people who do bad things (like cheat) are remorseful and do not rub other people’s noses in it. I am very impressed with your work with special needs kids. You have a calling to do something serving others. That is wonderful.

    • Good for you! Now read this list to yourself every day for a couple months, and keep adding to it. You will feel super awesome in no time!

      And, there are lots of guys out there that don’t go for the super fit, super coifed looked. When I indicated I was trying to lose weight and tighten up (my body and my general presentation), my current man friend frowned a little and said “you look so great, you’re so real. I love your curves.” Ah geez…why don’t I?!? Maybe answering that questions a better use of my time than tightening my abs.

    • Being betrayed is a special kind of hurt. But I look at what is out there…..people with advanced cancer, people who have children with cancer, accident victims, people who through no fault of their own are living in their cars, the isolated elderly…. etc.

      Seems that we all suffer. It’s how we manage to carry on that is important.

      Giving to others is the best in life, you rock!

  • Edward Rowland Sill. 1841–1887

    The Fool’s Prayer

    THE ROYAL feast was done; the King
    Sought some new sport to banish care,
    And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,
    Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”

    The jester doffed his cap and bells, 5
    And stood the mocking court before;
    They could not see the bitter smile
    Behind the painted grin he wore.

    He bowed his head, and bent his knee
    Upon the monarch’s silken stool;
    His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,
    Be merciful to me, a fool!

  • “I’d like to share a radical revelation — I am a 52-year-old woman and I’ve got abs like an exploded can of biscuits — it does not render me unlovable.” Too many LOLz and “Amen sister!”

    Took me a minute to appreciate this one. If we place our self worth in our looks and “fun-ness” then, when we fall short (and most of us always will), we think we are terrible people. Our self worth follows our values. When something traumatic like betrayal happens, it’s a great opportunity for a gut check. Like, what have I been valuing and is that correct? If you value kindness and work ethic and intelligence the MOST, then I suspect you’d look a lot better in your own eyes. So yea, value those things.

    And, as my sister pointed out to me, things like weight and rock hard abs are, in fact, within your control. Believe it or not, reshaping your body is way easier than reshaping your soul. But, even better is loving your imperfect self for what it is great at NOT hating it for what you perceive it is bad at.

  • That’s beautiful N.A.N.C , love the way you put it down. We are all beautiful, no need to compare , be you. Love and peace to all y’all chumps.❤️

  • “Get a Life” can not be said enough and no contact really just allows you to disconnect from the “disordered.” As to the “happy couple,” no abundance of glitter (money, abs, youth) is going to make their fake reality a truth. These people don’t change; though very good actors, eventually their house of cards falls apart. Unhealthy people and unhealthy relationships follow patterns…. It is our job to recognize where (and why) we made mistakes (red flags aplenty with x) and to “fix our pickers,” grieve, and move forward. I remember wanting that fairy tale, and each year our relationship disintegrated more. Hard to succeed at marriage when your spouse is cheating. Broken people can never give us what we want or deserve, only whole healthy people can do that.

  • I’ve never had “the perfect body”, not even close to it, no matter my weight, age, size, whatever, my body is weird ok?? And you when the only time I cared about that was? When I was with an idiot who spends 80% of his time noticing and commenting on people’s appearance and the other 20% complaining about how “stupid” people are. We know the type, by now.

    Point is, I COULDN’T TRULY CARE LESS what my body looks like, as long as it’s comfortable to live in and to use. As long as it works and allows me to do what I need. It doesn’t allow me to train for a marathon or even do light exercise really. But that STILL SAYS NOTHING ABOUT MY VALUE.
    People who care about that, though, that tells me something about THEIR value.
    I don’t want to be with people who care about what a body looks like, because I don’t.
    It’s my choice and I make it.

    • Yes, I love this comment too!

      What’s hilarious is… I decided to really make an effort since posting my question to Chump Lady, to gain a life.

      Because my ex is blocked, he emailed me today from a different email address and went on about his dream he had that I was in, how I’m so kind and amazing and that he thinks about me all the time and that he will never get over me.

      So yeah, the hottie with abs of steel can have that unfaithful piece of shit. What kind of man writes that to his ex behind his girlfriend’s back? Oh I know. My ex.

  • “I swear I was good kibbles for a sociopath because I was an exhausted single mom who needed that twirl on the dance floor. Love bombing take me away! Maybe if I was less exhausted, maybe if a few more people in my life told me I was mighty then, or I told myself that, I wouldn’t have found a fuckwit so intoxicating.”

    Wow. Just wow. This hit home like no tomorrow. I cannot thank you enough for your words. My narcissistic/ sociopath ex bf — who I’ve still been mooning over — made me feel alive for those dates when I could not be the single mom, and just be wild and sexy and free. But at the bottom of it all, he was and is a fuckwit who has no sense of what a real relationship entails. Guess that’s why my spidey senses were always tingling and led me to discovering him one night with someone else — a guy, I might add. Ladies, NEVER ignore your gut instincts. And Chump Lady, you are incredible.

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