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The Silent Chumps

The first year I started this blog, I was asked to appear on a HuffPo video panel. The subject was on being friendly with your exes. (Mine was the “no thanks” vote.) Before the segment began, the other panelists and I were chatting and introducing ourselves, off air.

I said howdy, mentioned my blog, and that I’d been chumped. Dr. Tammy Nelson (The New Monogamy) laughed and said — and I will never forget this — “Oh, most people wouldn’t publicly admit that.”

It was not said in an Oprah-esque “Gee, aren’t you brave!” way. It was said in a “My, aren’t you a two-headed calf in the sideshow tent” tone.

via GIPHY

We. Don’t. Talk. About. That.

Why would you admit something so embarrassing? Do you really want to confess your failings that drove him to cheat? Do you want a million viewers to wonder exactly how fat, sexless, and controlling you are?

Or worse — are you going to Play The Victim? Dear God, aren’t you Over It? Why are you still talking about this?

Okay, if you must speak of the chump experience, (and better you don’t) do so in terms of reconciliation, forgiveness, or Friendship For The Children.

Otherwise people will think you’re bitter.

Apparently, I didn’t have the good sense to be ashamed of my chump status.

That episode came to mind recently with the whole #MeToo revolution that’s afoot here in the U.S. Victims of sexual harassment are having a moment, standing up and outing their abusers. The mighty are falling. It’s exhilarating.

Of course, like 99 percent of women, I have a #MeToo story (or stories). The creepy ABC News producer who used to follow me around when I was an intern to ask if I wore that outfit just for him? Did I think he was handsome? Am I a virgin? Do I have a boyfriend? Perhaps we could move this conversation outside, because he has a lot of contacts in South Africa he’d like to share, over an intimate dinner.

Oh, or the revolting man who came up to me IN CHURCH, on CHRISTMAS EVE, IN FRONT OF MY FAMILY and kissed the back of my NECK — by way of greeting, because I’d once worked in his bakery. Where he was creepy and inappropriate.

Did I tell anyone I was being harassed? No. I’m telling you now about 30 years later. Because like every other person this happens to (and really, I got off lightly — no one exposed themselves or assaulted me) — I picked up on the societal cues. We. Don’t. Talk. About. This.

I asked myself if I wore the wrong outfit. I seethed with fury at the baker. I kept my mouth shut.

What do all these experiences have in common?

Wear the shame.

Own what isn’t yours to own. Eat the shit sandwich. And don’t you dare spit it out or you will be judged. This is your fault.

Finally, finally! We are collectively spitting out the shit sandwich and having a national conversation about sexual harassment and abuse that allows for anger and truth telling. Check out the devastating op-ed by swimmer Diana Nyad or Lindy West’s awesome Brave Enough to Be Angry post. (Could Lindy West please be my new best friend? Total fan girl here.)

Finally, people are pointing out the obvious — this isn’t about sex, it’s about power.

Some people point to the accusers and wonder why they didn’t speak up sooner. Well, imagine the awkwardness. It’s your boss, or a revered public figure, or a comedian whose approval could make or break you. Those are losses and embarrassments that would shut a person up.

I wonder about all the silent chumps out there, who never speak of their experience. Who wear the shame.

We can rightly imagine the perceived losses that would keep a victim of sexual harassment or assault quiet. Now imagine the loss is your entire family structure. Your home. Your financial stability. To tell is to risk hurting your children. It’s admitting the most sexually humiliating things that ever happened to you. It’s confessing all the grotesque things you accepted and accommodated to avoid these losses. And the perpetrator wasn’t tangental to your life — it was your spouse. Your partner. Your true love. The person you trusted the most in this world.

Now imagine that the ENTIRE discourse around this experience blames you for it. Asks you to own your part. Wonders out loud what needs you weren’t meeting.

Of course we shut up. The number of silent chumps is legion. In that vacuum, we let the cheaters have the conversation space and own the narrative.

What’s their story? That cheating is about sex, the unnaturalness of monogamy, and unmet needs — and not an abuse of power.

Of course cheating is an abuse of power. Intimacy makes us vulnerable. To trust someone is to show them your tender underbelly and hand them the harpoon. Betrayal is a violation of a sacred trust.

The cheaters are all “Harpoon? What harpoon? You shouldn’t go around showing off your midriff like that.”

I hope someday we can have the same reckoning with infidelity that we’re having with sexual harassment and assault. I’ll confess, I still have a hard time telling people I don’t know well about this blog. I mean, imagine leading with this at a cocktail party.

What do you do? 

Oh, I’m a journalist. And I have another career as a blogger.

What do you write about? 

Uh, relationship stuff. It’s on leaving cheaters… and there’s cartoons and snark. And uh, cheaters. It’s called Chump Lady. I was once a chump.

I HAVE KNOWN THIS PERSON 30 SECONDS AND I HAVE NOW JUST REVEALED THE MOST INTIMATELY MORTIFYING THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME.

In my experience, about 99 percent of people visibly recoil. If the conversation lasts long enough, and they don’t immediately lurch towards the buffet line, they recover at “book deal” and perk up considerably at the traffic numbers. But despite this blog’s success (which I attribute to a) Chump Nation and b) having this conversation space all to myself), I still stumble over telling people I was cheated on.

I wait for the judgement I know is there. Two divorces? Loser. Why couldn’t she make it work?

I wait for the pronouncement. Chump Lady? That’s… quirky.

And I do my best to shrug it off and keep this place going. Not because I give a shit about my cheater (I’m long past meh), but because the majority of infidelity discourse still peddles chump blame and assumes reconciliation over self-protection.

Fuck that shit. Come out of the closet, chumps! Stop wearing the shame!

I’ll talk about it, if you’ll talk about it. Were you chumped?

#MeToo

The cartoon “Rejection Man” appears in Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life and is copyrighted by Tracy Schorn.

This column ran previously. 

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.
  • I kept quiet about the beatings at first but eventually I couldn’t do it any more. I told the staff counsellor, the doctor, my friends (but not my family at first – I wanted to “spare” them), but eventually I shouted it from the rooftops. When he left me for his skank it was all I could do NOT to put an ad in the local newspaper. I eventually realized it was not my shame to bear!

    • Interesting that you bring it up… not all cheaters are beaters… but from what I’ve observed, all beaters turn out to cheaters too. X#1 & X#2 were definitely like that. Sending you big hugs… you’re a wonderful person & you didn’t deserve this. We all ❤ you so much here at CN!

      • At the time, I wasn’t sure that the first abusive ex-husband was a cheater. I’ve since learned that he WAS, only I didn’t catch it because I wasn’t looking for it. He was cheating with men.

        Cheating itself is abusive, so you could say that all cheaters are abusive. But when you’re talking physical violence, yes. Both of my beaters were cheaters. They were both Narcissists as well — nasty people with whom to become involved! When I left the first beater, I told everyone exactly why I was leaving him and I lost all of OUR friends and most of mine because “Tom is such a CHARMING guy. He would NEVER do that. You must be making it up.” It took me a long, long time to realize that those people weren’t really much of a loss. It sure compounded the pain at the time, though. I left because he tried to kill me — and nearly succeeded, and *I’M* the bad guy here?

        My second abusive ex-husband, also diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder was also very charming. I voluntarily cut myself off from any and all “friends” who took his side and I realize that I’m better off. The people I do tell about the abuse are people who can be counted upon to believe ME. Most of them are people who he brought into my life, but who see him for who he is and who hung around because they value ME. I have lousy taste in men, but great friends.

        Abuse and cheating seem to go hand in hand — not always, as you’ve noted, but often. The same sense of entitlement that allows a guy to cheat also allows him to control his parter “by any means necessary.” At the bitter end, Mr. Sparkly Pants told me that “Sometime I throw a fit just to get you to do what I want. It used to work pretty well.” Yeah. It used to. Shame on me.

    • Attie,
      I’m so sorry you experienced this in your life.
      No one should ever have to write that they were beaten; you are amazing that you can share this.
      I don’t know you but I do know it was horribly wrong, inexcusable, unfair and demoralizing.
      Huge hugs for getting out of that still intact.

      • Sunny/Rebecca, thank you for your kind words. I’m well over it now and the shame is on him, but it is awful to think I’m not alone and others are suffering the same kinds of horrors. I hope they have the strength to get away too. As I say, I’m totally at meh anyway now!

  • “We can rightly imagine the perceived losses that would keep a victim of sexual harassment or assault quiet. Now imagine the loss is your entire family structure. Your home. Your financial stability. To tell is to risk hurting your children. It’s admitting the most sexually humiliating things that ever happened to you. It’s confessing all the grotesque things you accepted and accommodated to avoid these losses. And the perpetrator wasn’t tangental to your life — it was your spouse. Your partner. Your true love. The person you trusted the most in this world.

    Now imagine that the ENTIRE discourse around this experience blames you for it. Asks you to own your part. Wonders out loud what needs you weren’t meeting.”

    I can giddily imagine how Vicki Larson, Esther Perel, Tim Tedder and a panel of other Word Salad Spinners and Chump-blamers would react to being confronted so bluntly by a Chump.

    Me? I offer tissues, tea, attorney recommendation, a link to this blog and lend them a copy of your book. I have also offered to kick a cheater in the twat so hard she would get pregnant giving blow jobs. At least that one earned a snort of laughter!

    • I hold my head high. I done nothing ‘wrong’ to warrant such treatment. My kids done nothing wrong to drop down his list of importance. To be abandoned.
      His actions. His lies. His deeds. His cheating. His selfishness. His greed. His failure.
      I was not quiet. I blasted him on social media. I confronted the OW. I fought for my money back. I started an online diary to document the shit festival he created. It is actually laughable the plates he was spinning to carry out his triple life. I pity him. Deadbeat dad, living in a caravan, sponging off her now.
      I pity him.

    • No Shit Cupcakes

      It’s been about 2 years since DDay #1 and just when I think I am making ‘progress’ something hits me out of the blue and I go down another rabbit hole.

      And then I run across something akin to what you wrote above and I realize that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what has been done to me and my children. Like there is still a buffer of protection around me somehow despite the fact that I do talk to others about this. I do have tons of high quality support. A part of me still minimizes what he did. Part of me still blames me. Part of me has compassion for him. At times part of me even defends him if someone points out the blaring things he did.

      I get it intellectually but then I soft pedal it and say to myself or others that it is ‘just life and I am one of the lucky ones because’…….fill in the blank.

      I am one of the lucky ones because I do have a roof over my head and money in the bank to last awhile. I have self respect and the respect of my friends and my children – lots of intangible things can go on this list

      But then I read what you wrote and I realize that is exactly what I faced and the bind I am still in in regards to my children – walking that tight rope between standing my ground with NC without blasting the X who is their father. Despite the fact that my children are all in their 20’s discovering that their dad, Mr. Good Guy, isn’t as good as he made himself out to be – they do know he is a serial cheater now and has been their whole lives – leading a double life , I struggle with keeping my mouth shut when they strike out at me in their own anger – anger they can’t direct at him. I live in fear of them turning against me at some point which is what happened to a friend of mine.

      When I read your words a wave of validation washed over me – acknowledging exactly what I face each day now. The torrid and ugly side to all of this that can’t be whitewashed away. I know it is there yet I can’t go into the details with the children and I can’t fix any of the pain that this is causing me or them. It all still feels so unbelievable on so many levels and, yes, that it is my fault somehow although I know that is a lie – a part of me hasn’t accepted that 100% yet. So much fear of God only knows what mixed in with the PTSD.

      Thanks for your words – for the eye opening truth of them. I know more will be revealed and along with the new insights I do gain more and more freedom and compassion for myself. Tough stuff for sure.

      • I’m so sorry Elderly Chump. Also, I wish that I had written those words but they are Chump Lady’s. I quoted them because I think they are so powerful and sometimes people overlook what has happened TO Chumps and how devastating it is.

        You are right, this isn’t of your manufacture and it sucks that you have to deal with the aftermath. I hope your kids continue to learn the truth and opt not to want to be like dear old Cheater.

        You rock the mighty!

  • I am
    Sorry you experience that when chatting with other people you meet. I used to get pressured to be the “peacemaker” and to be friends with his new woman and for the sake of the kid’s. It made me feel suicidal. I try to keep it general when I meet people but I will answer questions honestly lol. People who know me realize they will never change my view. I have to be civil in front of the kids of course but not friendly.

    • Resilient,

      I’m so sorry you’re a chump like the rest of us, but thank you for your mighty words and actions. Fuck being the peacemaker; the time for that was before the cheating started. They unilaterally decided we weren’t worth it, and fucked us over. So, sorry, no peacemaker on our part now.

      I’m slowly getting to the point where I don’t feel the need to tell everyone my story. I had and have trouble w/boundaries when talking to others, because I have/had this gaping, incredibly painful, emotional wound. Now I’m finally feeling like I can hold back my need to share the pain, and I’m not constantly hoping for someone to empathize w/and understand what I’ve been through and what I’m going through now. I was always pretty honest w/people about my life even before this, but like most people, never totally. I’m still a very imperfect human, and always will be. I’m just trying to learn from my mistakes and move forward, for myself and my kids.

      And yes, that last sentence of your post really resonated w/me, because I told the cheating XW that I could be civil to her, not cordial. Exactly the same as what you’re saying, just slightly different wording. No hellos, no goodbyes, no talking about the weather, etc. I get straight to business, and then drop it. If it doesn’t involve our divorce decree or our children? Go take a flying leap, you fuckwit.

      I don’t anticipate changing my view either, and thanks to CL and CN, I’ve totally discarded those Switzerland friends who sympathized w/me right after it happened, but had to remain friends w/Ms. Sparkly Turd, because she’s a local politician that just, well, sparkles! And because no one really knows what went on in a marriage. Even though they believe me when I say there was never any abuse on my part, and a whole lot of love.

      I’ve come to realize that Switzerland friends are simply intellectual cowards. They can see the abusive behavior in the cheating, but don’t want to take a stand for the chump. So much easier to just ignore the abusive behavior that cheating represents and try and remain friendly w/both sides. Well, fuck that.

      Ok, I’m going to end on the positive note that I’m sending lots of love and hugs your way. Power to the chumps!

      • TheLongRun

        ‘Switzerland friends are simply intellectual cowards.’

        I second that and add that what I have found is that we as humans are social ‘animals’ so most of us follow the crowd out of our basic instinct to fit in. I have found that this is a powerful instinct that most of us ignore until something like betrayal happens.

        As social ‘animals’ we do need ‘leaders’ because most of us are like sheep. We follow. FWs, due to the ability to charm others, attract sheep. Not fair but that is what I see more clearly now than ever before.

        You don’t have to look far to see this played out in all type of situations – work, religious, family…etc. In most cases the leaders are narcissists – very weak individuals beneath all the charm they broadcast out to their ‘fans’.

  • We all have varied stories of why we don’t speak up. Mine is this: he is a charmer. People flock to him way quicker than to me. My friendships take years to build. People don’t necessarily warm up to me at the get go. He has a way of making people feel like he’s a big teddy bear that you can’t help but love. And it’s true. I bet if you met him today, you’d probably feel that way too. I have introverted tendencies and can be awkward and small talk is hard for me. Anyway, it’s more acceptable in society to be an extrovert and anything that may come with it seems more ok than an awkward introvert. Even if you can’t consistently hold a job. Even if you can’t have a deep conversation. Even if you avoid anything hard because you are so good at joking. People would rather see that than the opposite. I have my flaws I’ll admit! and they seem bigger when you are a minority personality type and have been abandoned. But I have this fire in me to make this right when given the opportunity. I’m also feisty, and have strong convictions. One of my goals in life was to help “heal” this broken world, one family (mine) at a time. I felt like much of the world’s issues were because we have families, even material things, that we don’t want to maintain and help blossom (other than maybe financially) because we always look at the shiny and new to escape. He seems to hold that promise when people meet him.
    Anyway, that’s what kept me quieter than I’d have liked to be. No more though. God has put something on my heart and I’m here on earth to at least try to make that happen, with or without him.
    I still have a long way to go on being vocal…my own demons sometimes hold me back, and I’m not a spring chicken. But With God’s help I will persevere.

    • I bet you are in fact more well-liked than you imagine. People who are introverts, who may be shy, and especially those who have been betrayed and hurt, tend to see themselves as less-than, and their betrayer as somehow charming and untouchable and universally adored.

      Quite often – not always, but often – others see straight through the act, because that is what it is, all sparkles, not a vast amount of substance. People are more perceptive than that, sure they may initially think ”ooh Fred is so cool” but I assure you it wears off, his inconsistency at keeping jobs tells me that.

      You are most likely very well-regarded and admired by people of substance, and isn’t that great?

      • I agree with Caroline @NJSC. I have no problem starting up conversations with complete strangers, but I’m also decidedly not an extrovert. I’m somewhere in the middle. My son, however, is the classic definition of an introvert. He would come home from school exhausted after having had to socialize all day. But you know what? He was universally liked and respected by his peers at school. People notice your character whether you realize it or not. Even people who are more extroverted than you probably silently admire you. You may not attract attention like your turd does, but just wait until one of his admirers asks something of him. His mask will slip and they’ll get the full picture. You’re the real deal, so just be you and be proud of who you are. Actions do speak louder than words, it’s not just a cliche’.

        • To NJSC: Fuck these people with their horseshit phoney-baloney, life of the party, knee-slapping, back-slapping, hail-fellow-well-met, HORSESHIT. The one and only time I was legally married, was to one of these full-of-shit, fuckboy assholes. Who was British to boot, which I’m sorry to say even though it may not have caused it, it probably didn’t help matters — stupid naive me, I thought it was actually going TO help — because of being British as well as also quite a bit OLDER; therefore (or so I thought) it would mean: more reserved and more on my wavelength than the typical “American-o.” Sorry if I offend anybody but that’s just how it is. “Teddy bear?” Try, the lead singer dude from Spandau Ballet, for those of you over a certain age/era/musical taste. Maybe a cross between him and, John Oliver, and Mr. Darcy. Really, really, talented, dark, handsome, funny, amusing, tall, the whole shit (I’m 5’10” so this is kind of an issue, again sorry). Yeah, right, Mr. Darcy all right. He went from Mr. Darcy to “Ditchy McAbandonpants” routine of the previous, re-run, column — I think when he realized I /my parents didn’t have as much money as he thought we might (yes he was nothing but a goddamn fortune-hunter, at the core, probably, needing the Mr. Darcy lifestyle to go with the looks; his own parents were kinda rich but I think had cut him off) he farted off back to his home country. Speaking of “legally,” what else I could have had, legally, was: concrete grounds for divorce — via — abandonment — which is exactly what he did. Alimony too as we were technically married for over 10 years but good luck getting anything out of him from “across the pond.” From HIS rich family! No cheating (on me, that I am aware of) but probably would have just been a matter of time since he told me OUT OF HIS OWN MOUTH about his doing it in the past on multiple occasions — always with other “taken” people of course — and almost like bragging about it to be more “gangsta” or some shit like that, too, in point of fact (yeah, I know, red flags+++, but I was 32 and probably kind of “desperate to have a man,” and get my parents off my back, more than I ever want to admit, still). Actually that last part is probably the most painful part about it because of being a testament to THAT whole ball of horseshit aka “single-ism” or singlehood discrimination or whatever you want to call it. That and being left twisting in the wind at 36 years old and in my part of the country. (Now, can you guess where?) Anyway, to rewind, not finding sufficient male companionship opportunities to rectify the situation (once again, around here “in my part of the country” — have you figured it out yet?) I ordered one off the Internet, more or less, so to speak. It did not end well. More to the point, and I’m not lying here — I don’t believe that I am — when I say this: I was actually very lucky not to have wound up a whole lot worse off — either in jail or dead (or both, the way our law enforcement/justice system seems to be operating, at the present time). Or in a coma or paralyzed and/or even, WISHING I were dead. Or something like that. Take my advice, 1) do not (at least legally) marry out of desperation (if there is no hard-core reason to, such as with myself — example: could not really medically have kids — and did not want to/or really could, adopt either — so that was/is not an issue; 2) get someone who is APPROPRIATE for you as that trumps (sorry to use that word but it is highly appropriate here) EVERYTHING else. As I have, finally, now, finally found it and still have it — thank you Jesus — since about 40 going on 41. And try playing the guitar. Or something else. It helps. And never, ever, again, BE played. People l like you and me (depression/anxiety/etc./also maybe — at least I have reason to think — maybe very mildly autistic, as well, etc., actually even deemed “medically frail” by my health insurance provider) have less-than-average tolerance for abuse for what should be, obvious reasons (incidentally, more or less, the topic of today’s column. Abuse. Via infidelity. That is seen as: everything and the kitchen sink, EXCEPT, by fuckheads). Why is this so hard to understand? People? Like I said, obvious. But, it sure seems to be. Hard. So, practice self-care and do WHATEVER you have to do to form a: family/friend neighbor/acquaintance or even FWB (NOT sex! Necessarily…) etc. whom or how ever you define it — support network — ON YOUR OWN TERMS even if you are not MARRIED or “PARTNERED” people do not seem to realize this even remotely close to, enough. So as I said in the “Big Inning” (these types of people and their enablers) fuck them. Metaphorically only of course! Oh, one other thing. I will not be so long in the future. Just wanted to share my point of view…hope it helps you (and others, on here, too)…thanks a whole, bunch.

          • Love your writing style chumpedrazorbabe! Of course I’m so sorry Mr. Darcy was a dick.
            But you really have great style. Thankyou for writing a long piece.

            • Chumped, I’m British and I can’t bear Hugh Grant and his good ol’ boy act – his only single acting accomplishment I fear, although I love him in Brigitte Jones! Gotta leave Mr. Darcy alone though. I met Colin Firth once and he is gorgeous and a complete gent (well, as much as I could tell from one meeting).

              • Blinky Grant who got caught getting a b.j. from some hooker in his car in Hollywood when he had Elizabeth Hurley (a model no less !) as his girlfriend ! FFS

    • I know it is slowly changing but when a wife was cheated on everyone made excuses for the cheater. The wife could have been an introvert, such as yourself and be considered a real pill. She sucked the life out him, how could he not cheat? Or the wife could have been the life of the party, again, too flamboyant, embarrassing, how could he not cheat? Paid too much attention to the kids and not to her husband, how could he not cheat? I could go on and on but you get my drift. These lame ass excuses were not only given my men but especially women. Again these ridiculous perceptions and blaming the wife for her husband cheating are changing but a bit too slow for my liking. So yeah, screw these asswipes and simpletons taken in by your ex, be vocal, be strong.

      • It doesn’t matter what we are like. Any cheater worth their salt will just lie lie lie, with a fake tear in the corner of their eye, and yknow leaving out all the detail of how much you suck. The other person will fill in all the details they need.

      • We have these conversations and frankly why can’t seemingly ANYONE just say yeah I know what I did was wrong f I cheated but I am moving on. I am not saying I am an advocate of this as s model but imagine some HONESTY here on behalf on the cheater and the ability to accept responsibility. Oh but no it’s YOU and what YOU did wrong. And people stay away from you because once you are single you are a threat to their marriages. No I am bloody not you idiots. It’s all insecurities. But the ‘what did you do to make it happen’ narrative. No. I think not.

    • Such wise words. Many of us experienced the sparkly spouse, who could walk into a room and make everyone’s head turn while we stood back, away from the adulation. I suppose many of us are also far more introverted than our X’s. I personally prefer quality over sparkles and look for people who understand life’s deeper meaning. Your goal of helping heal this broken world is so very important and a testament to your character (something cheaters will never understand).

      • My ex was definitely more introverted than me, to the point where had no friends other than work acquaintances. I have maybe 5 people in my life that I consider real friends, and only two of those I regularly interact with. One of them is only through text, I’ve never even met her face to face. My ex used to say he admired my ability to be present with other people. He was envious of my relationship with my son for the very same reason, by his own admission. I think what all of our turds have in common is that they can’t form real human connections with people, no matter what end of the introvert/extrovert spectrum they are on. Extroverts get all the attention, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. Quality people see through that. Introverts with shitty character like my ex don’t get lots of attention, but I think they slip through the cracks because everyone thinks they are a nice, quiet guy. My nice, quiet guy is addicted to porn and dating sites and hooked up with anything that moved as far as I can tell. He described himself as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Anyway, sparkly or not, they’re all disordered. You are a quality person, and I have no doubt you project that to the world and people see it. Stay mighty, even if you don’t roar!

        • Great point — don’t judge those books by them covers! Mine — the one I am with (now) — is actually artist/musician (as I am, more like”after a fashion” though); every OTHER one of which I had had any acquaintance with in the past were the stereotypical lying, cheating, bullshitting man whores (pardon my phraseology) but this one isn’t! An artist/musician dude who isn’t! He really isn’t’! I’m not lying. Yes they exist!! I guess. (Or maybe I got the last one off the overstock shelf…)

    • Yup, I have a sister who brags about how exuberant and joyful she is. Meanwhile she spends half her time running people down. I have told her that it’s perfectly acceptable to be an introvert (me). It goes over her inflated head. On the surface people think she’s great.

      • It’s been my experience that people who brag about things like that are just trying to convince themselves of their awesomeness. Especially if you day she also drags other people down. Maybe she’s propping herself up. Either way, you know her much better than I do. And it is perfectly acceptable to be an introvert. I have no doubt you are the one with substance, and that’s all that really matters. Keep on being your mighty self!

    • People often mistake personality and character. Someone can have a really charming personality but lousy character and on the other hand someone may not have buckets of charm but have solid character.

      • 🙌 yes, OWhore is the most charming sycophant with the most appalling character.

    • Oh mine is a charmer too. I am an introvert, with a few loyal wonderful friends. It takes me a long time to build friendships, and I am shy, small talk kills me! For years I was led to believe by my ex there is something mentally wrong with me. He could work a room, I felt totally exhausted after a night out with him, he constantly would scan the room for someone he knew, would talk to everyone around us but me. He destroyed my self esteem, my self worth. 3 years post D day, I have built it all back up, my children around me, therapy to remind me of who I am and not the lies he told me about myself. My children are in therapy and learning to deal with a bully and manipulator (i.e. last weekend he forced our 10 and 13 year old to write a thank you letter to his girlfriend for her help around the house and how grateful they are she is around – mind you she was the affair partner too and the kids know it. He said they were not allowed to go home until they did – that is some mind F&%K there). And now, three years out, instead of why wasn’t I good enough, memories of his behavior becomes I can’t believe I put up with that from this person who was supposed to love me. I am out, kids are out. We are happy.

      • Oh my good god the letter. How awfully controlling and manipulative is that. You WILL like her. That must be so hard for you even though frankly it’s not your shit to care about I know it must make you hang your head in despair about what next. That is a true clarity Trust that they suck moment though. Wow.

      • NewLife2017,

        Good for you AND your kids! Wishing you all the happiness you and your family can handle. I’m hopefully heading the same way, and my kids. Fingers crossed. The fuckwit XW accused my older kids (two daughters) of not wanting her to be happy w/the fuckwit AP she’s shacked up w/, because they both can’t stand him! Being wealthy and in a position of power still doesn’t mean everyone’s going to ignore your lack of character and shallow facade, asshole. Or should I say, assholes?

        Believe it or not I’m pretty damn good about not attacking their mother in their presence. That’s saved for here and my tight little support group of some family and friends.

    • I hear you, NJSC. I prefer the quiet of my living room and a good book to a party any day. Not my ex– he and his Owife are apparently a couple of social butterflies who get invited to local parties (from what my kids have told me– I do not ask around or search on social media; I don’t care). I’m sure that many people think that my ex and his fellow cheater are just a lovely couple, and I probably come off as anti-social (which, honestly, unless you’re in my inner circle, I am). I am polite but hate BS small talk.

      If people want to cozy up to my ex because he acts like the life of the party, they can have fun with that. If you befriend me, I’ll be there for you when life gets rough. I hope they don’t expect my good time Charlie ex to be that person. As a friend of mine who battled cancer once said about him, “He would never have been there for you if you were going through this.” She was absolutely right.

      I’m glad I found this site. It has certainly helped me to take a closer look at the actions of others, and it’s certainly kept me from diving into a new relationship despite the presence of many red flags. Being outgoing, fun, and the life of the party does not mean that you are a trustworthy and decent person.

      • Mr. Sparkly Pants was “there” for me when I was battling cancer. He drove me to every doctor’s appointment, lab appointment, treatment and follow-up. He stayed with me while I was hospitalized. We both worked for the institution where I was treated, and I realized after the fact that he was getting all sorts of positive attention and kudos for being “such a supportive spouse”. That’s why he was doing it. He was after the shiny public image. He wasn’t doing it for me. Everyone we knew (including me) was emotionally supporting him because his wife had cancer. No one was emotionally supporting ME.

        Mr. SP was also a “good time Charlie,” the life of every party.

        • The Ex-Mrs. Sparkly Pants

          I am chuckling after reading your input above because I too had similar experiences and I was even emotionally supporting HIM….Poor ‘him’…look what this has done to HIM.

          That’s how chumpy I was! Can you believe it? Yes, I imagine you can.

          Well now I see things differently and I am giving myself permission to grieve for all that happened to me back then. How I turned on myself without even knowing it. I had to be super wife, super mom, super survivor and I had to ‘get over it’ yesterday so our life could continue like nothing had happened.

          Thanks for posting and giving me even more permission to be there for myself and to claim the life that could have been taken from me. I was just so grateful to be alive then that I didn’t complain about a thing….just soldiered on.

        • That’s so pathetic. I’m so sorry you had to deal w/that, The Ex-Mrs. Sparkly Pants. What an asshole. I’m wishing you the best for your future. Forget that turd. You’re worth so much more than him.

    • NJSC,

      Ditto what you have written. Just today I attended a memorial service for a friend’s mother. Reluctant to go and be in a crowd but she is a dear friend so I went and was proud that I did. An hour or so into the service I couldn’t sit still anymore so I allowed myself to leave and walk around in the foyer where the small children were being taken care of because they couldn’t keep still either. I had to smile at myself because I felt just like one of them and I was proud of myself for allowing myself to leave the sanctuary without being horribly self critical. Something I wouldn’t have been able to do before because the X always would critique my behavior when we went to a function together. Today I could pat myself on my back and give myself a hug and it felt good.

      Thanks for writing what you did. I know I am stepping out more and doing things and saying things I never though I would do before. What you wrote lets me know I am not alone in this and that there is hope for us quieter ones.

  • Oh, you wouldn’t believe how often people who think nothing is wrong with adultery also have a history of abuse around consent issues.

    I participate in online community discussing popular culture. Movies, theater, music, tv. When former feminist hero Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) was exposed by his now ex wife as a serial adulterer who pressured actresses on his sets into extramarital affairs, and then gaslighted his successful wife to the brink of insanity, I had several long debates with one member in particular about adultery as abuse, he contended over and over how ‘infidelity does not automatically mean abuse’ Huh even when the person suffering from it details the abuse, the gaslighting, the risks to their family and health, and the pressure to keep quiet about it?

    https://www.thewrap.com/joss-whedon-feminist-hypocrite-infidelity-affairs-ex-wife-kai-cole-says/

    Kai Cole, you rock.

    As for my online Devils Advocate? Had a felony conviction IRL for secretly filming women coworkers undressing in a changing room at a law firm. He was asked to leave several areas of the community.

    He still has defenders who state he has changed and served his time. Really? Abuse is abuse is abuse.

    Adultery is abuse.

    • Interesting that the editors note says Josh Weldon says there are inaccuracies in his ex wife’s account. Classic sociopath move.

    • Thank you for the link to Kai Cole’s expose. I have struggled with how to describe my feelings upon learning of my STBX’s double life. He was an international airline pilot who specialized in “relationships” with down and out 3rd world women. He apparently always had a main girl in the country he traveled to most plus several side chicks. Oh, and me of course. The unknowing Chump waiting on him to come back on days off while maintaining our home and raising our children. The 3rd world women had no idea he was married or about the other side chicks. He roamed the world taking advantage of women everywhere he went.

      “My brain could not fit my experience of our life together, through the new lens of his deceit.” This perfectly describes how I’ve been feeling since d-day almost two years ago. As more and more information came to me (yes, I was unraveling the skein of fuckedupedness), I have become more and more traumatized. People don’t understand my bewilderment and why I’m still so unhappy. I hear things like, “why can’t you just get over it” or “move on already, what’s wrong with you?” It’s very difficult when your entire world and identity have been completely shattered. My 40 year marriage was a lie and a sham and I didn’t know. I’m left feeling stupid and lost and angry and sad. And at age 63, my financial future is in question too (no, airlines don’t have pension plans anymore so no grabbing half of any financial security). Divorce in a 50/50 state doesn’t care that someone had multiple secret sex partners.

      It’s abuse and worse. I think it should be a crime with severe punishment. Why has cheating, especially serial cheating, been normalized and even applauded in our society? Has anyone considered the collateral damage to not just the chumped partner, but also to the children and other extended family? The destruction is terrible and seems to continue through future generations. STBX’s father was a cheater and so, sadly, is our son.

      I don’t have a problem discussing this with people. If they don’t want to hear it they don’t have to listen. I bear the shame (and so do my adult kids) by default and I did nothing wrong. I think I have a right to make my truth public. Why should I hide so that others don’t have to face an indisputable truth—this happens a LOT more than anyone is willing to admit. #metoo is great for as far as it goes. It needs to extend a bit farther. #criminalizeadultry #adultryisabuse

      • I liken the experience to those who find out their parent or spouse was a serial killer for decades. It makes the head spin. So hard to reconcile the person we thought we knew to the predator they really are. We mourn the person we thought we had. It hurts.

      • Pilot’swife, my ex is an international pilot. He will receive a pension and will be sharing it with me. Also, you aware that you’re eligible for 1/2 his social security?
        There’s a pilot site that gives you the pay scale for each airline, phone numbers, and other information that might be helpful for you (can’t recall the name at the moment, when I do I’ll post)/.
        Ex used his profession and charm with the female judge. Joking, banter, laughing. I ended up screwed in the divorce.
        My attorney was useless despite him having a good reviews. I believe he also was taken by ex’s charm and that he’s a pilot.
        Sounds ridiculous but I could see it.

        • Brit, I’m what is considered a “high income earner” by the court so I get nothing. I was never a stay st home mom because he wouldn’t allow it no matter how much money he made. I guess in some ways I’m lucky because I do have a good job but I’m definitely getting screwed in the divorce and retirement went out the door with him. He had to retire at 65 so he’s going to live in the Philippines with the 30 years younger love of his life. A domestic worker he met in Hong Kong. Doing the creepy old man thing. He’s “rescuing” her. He was cheating on her too but I guess she doesn’t care. She’s smarter than I was. Look at the money, not love.

      • Our culture is built on patriarchy and the power in patriarchy is wielded through institutions, religion and cultural norms. Women and children are possessions with no value. Current discourse reflects this. I know, men are cheated on as well and the dialogue is a little different but still holds the course like “what’s wrong with him, he can’t control his property, er um wife”.

      • Ex Pilot’s Wife… you have just written my exact life story except we were in the oil industry stationed in a 3rd world country. I also found out my marriage was a sham after 35 years of marriage (although we grew up together and I knew him since I was 14) It is beyond my comprehension that I was a devoted wife and mother and left my home town for his career. I was left without a home having to leave the foreign county we were living in when I finally figured out he was cheating ( of course he denied 4 times when questioned if he was having a affair). I actually contributed his strange behavior to work stress… I’m also 63 and so very tired and just plain SAD !

        • I’vebeencheated I do know how you feel. Sad and tired about sums it up. I don’t know where to go from here. It’s not better on the other side, at least not for me yet. It’s hard to start over at this age. And honestly, I’m so tired I don’t want to.

          • I picture tiny chump house community for us all! We could encourage each other when we feel tired and wondering if we can start anew.

      • Ex Pilot’s Wife,

        ‘My brain could not fit my experience of our life together through the new lease of deceit.’

        Thank you for writing this! My experience exactly and I have struggled here and elsewhere trying to put into words my experience. I end up using way too many words and still feel frustrated at what I have written because I have never felt like I have been able to convey clearly what I am experiencing. Now I do have the words.

        I am also older. Married 30 years. Grown children. Feeling like I should be over this by now.
        Also 2 years out. I am lucky in that I have a friend who is 4 years out that I see on a regular basis and she gives me hope that things do get better with time. (She was married 40 years when she hit Dday and kicked him to the curb.)

        Thanks for taking the time to share here! Your words have lightened my load.

      • Jesus, Ex Pilot’s Wife. For a second I thought you might be the spouse the AP of the XW left after 40 years of marriage. The 40 years of marriage part almost triggered me. I couldn’t understand how he could leave his wife of 40 yrs, mother of his two grown daughters, almost as much as I couldn’t understand the XW leaving our almost 25 yr marriage (really 30+ years as friends then lovers/spouses) w/barely a backward glance. Not to mention them both being willing to blow two families apart. Then I realized you said he was an airline pilot, and reality reasserted itself.

        I’m so sorry you had to go through that pain infidelity brings, like the rest of us here. It rips you apart, man or woman. And I understand your desire for it to be a punishable offense. I felt that way too, and to a lesser extent, I still do. But after having a discussion w/a coworker, he pointed out how hard it is to prove, not to mention how they’ll frequently just try to deny it no matter what. But yes, by God it is abuse.

        I think the best we can hope for is what CL and many others have said. The best revenge is us living our lives well now. Showing these pathetic excuses for human beings that we are not only tough enough to survive, but will THRIVE w/out them. That’s my mission now. That and to maybe help some others in this world, whether regarding dealing w/infidelity or just in general. I think Habitat for Humanity is calling me.

        I wish you only the best, and that you are able to move further on the road to meh. And live better w/out the fuckwit than he ever thought was possible. You deserve it. We all do.

        • Thank you thelongrun. Yes, 40 years is a long time. It will take me some time to get to meh but I’m trying hard. As far as proof goes I have it in spades. The idiot made movies of himself with various sex partners and I found them. Anal sex and all. Along with emails and chats and dating profiles. And plans to buy a coconut plantation in the Philippines with the latest LBFM. You get the drift. What burns me is that is doesn’t matter in the state of Florida where we live. And now that he’s retired the money is gone anyway. Except for what I make. And he could go after me for alimony. So, I think the laws should change. It’s way too easy for these blowhards to get away with what they do. It’s definitely abuse. It would have been much easier for me if he had died. I could cash in the life insurance and move on.

    • Luziana,

      Thanks for bringing this up. I had no idea Joss Whedon was such an asshole/abuser. Good God, what is wrong w/these people? Is it just the power? Or is something just fundamentally wrong w/them? I’m guessing the power enhances their fucked up characters.

      • I was pretty disappointed when I read about Joss Whedon, because I enjoyed so much of his work. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was fun — nigh particularly highbrow, but fun. I loved “Firefly” and “Serenity”. Now I feel awkward about wanting to re-watch those episodes that I loved, because I don’t want to contribute to Whedon’s bottom line. I feel the same way about Stallone, although when his second wife cheated on HIM, I thought he got what was coming to him.

  • “Don’t wear the shame.”
    Yes!
    It’s not my shame. It’s his!

    My mother’s first words when I told her about serial cheater husband was “Shame on him!”
    She was right!

  • The religious community angle is something to consider as well. You speak up about it and are instantly labelled, “Bitter” and “Second-Class Christian.” It is a problem that exposing sin has been twisted into the issue as opposed to the actual sin–i.e. adultery and lying.

    • I also resent the push to force victims to forgive. It’s another club with which to bludgeon people. Too often it’s done by people in the religious community.

      “Before you can forgive somebody, there has to be an acknowledgement of transgression. They have to be able to say to you, you know what? I really screwed up. I did a terrible thing, and I’m so sorry. I don’t even know how I can repair it. I mean, at least that’s a starting point. But to ask somebody who is the victim of abuse to simply give a carte blanche forgiveness, is a psychologically meaningless and potentially, really harmful task to set them.” — Dr. Richard Friedman

      “The exhortation toward forgiveness can quickly turn into pressure. Victims of serious crimes are often encouraged to forgive their attackers in a public way and on an accelerated timeline. And this pressure frequently originates with religious leaders or in the victim’s own faith community.

      One particularly troubling example of this pressure comes from the published guidelines of the Advanced Training Institute (a Christian curriculum TLC’s Duggar family used to homeschool their children) for addressing sexual abuse in the home. It explicitly requires child victims to forgive their abusers in a 10-step process that includes first looking for guilt in oneself (“Why did God let it happen? Result of defrauding by: immodest dress, indecent exposure, being out from protection of our parents, being with evil friends?”).

      The problem isn’t just that these manuals explicitly invite victims to blame themselves, the problem is that it creates a cavalier expectation of forgiveness. It is easy to see how a family reared on these manuals would urge its young women to publicly forgive their abuser. In a culture that values forgiveness, condemnation awaits those who refrain. Our language mirrors the subtle religious rhetoric: to be “unforgiving” is to be harsh, judgmental, and lacking in compassion. The common understanding of forgiveness fails to recognize how much work and time is involved in genuine forgiveness.” — Candida Moss & Christa Grace Watkins

      I wish I knew how to bold certain statements but [b] bold [/b] hasn’t worked here for me in the past. Suggestions anyone?

      • And yet my ex couldn’t forgive me for anything I did that bothered him no matter how minor, how unintentional or how many times I apologized and never did it again once I knew better. Forgiving is for the little people and only great sins must be forgiven whether the perpetrator is remorseful or not.

        • Funny how they are big grudge-holders and life-scorers. You get the feeling they view every interaction only through the lens of “what’s in it for me?”

          • If they are narcissists — and by that, I mean Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) — they DO view every interaction only through the lens of “what’s in it for me”?

      • I don’t think you can use bold typeface on wordpress comments.
        I just pasted the above statement, the word ‘bold’ was BOLD typeface, but reverted back to standard typeface once pasted.

    • I have been labelled by people at my church as having “no family values” because I left my abusive, alcoholic, and adulterous ex-husband. When I told my pastor about the years of abuse, I was told to “take his hand and tell him you will wait for him as long as it takes”. When I told the pastor I had been doing exactly that for 10 years already, he just looked at me and said nothing. Most people have labelled me as the problem because he is charming and popular and a pastor’s son himself. I can’t bring myself to go to church anymore. It doesn’t feel safe. My charming ex has church connections all over the city. I have lost not only my family structure but my community as well.

      • I was also repeatedly told that I would ruin my children. That it was all my fault – not the fault of the charming bastard who was abusing us. Not a shred of blame or guilt or responsibility has been directed toward him. It has all been heaped on me.

        I can’t help but wonder if sexism is a factor. I don’t think my pastor would have given that same advice if a man had come to him whose wife had been doing all that my ex did to me. Nor do I think he would have given his own daughters the same advice.

        • I wasnt told that outright after my first husband assaulted me, but I was eventually told I wasn’t “needed” anymore on the worship team at my church. I wanted to know why they were “letting me go” they would only say that “God has led them in this direction” and would never tell me why.

          I remember that they publicly announced that a woman had been “released” by that church and they never really publicly stated why. And then when I asked for help keeping my abuser away and asked them to not allow him stalking me in church, I was told there was nothing they could do since he was a child of God and needed church to. I pointed out that there was literally a million other places in the world he could go, and it didn’t matter.

          I left and haven’t looked back.

          • That really pisses me off. No surprise that a church would take an abuser’s side, though. We all know what happens when their own people abuse women and children- they cover it up.

            • my husband went to court ordered therapy for knocking me down as he was trying to run to a party to see his howorker (what I now realize 20 yrs later where he was going to see her ) and the catholic church where the therapy services were; told him to flee the premises (our home) whenever i was home. They took his side and not ever having met me; believed his lies whatever lies he told; to take light off of his narc abuse which at the time was just mental abuse not telling me anything; keeping secrets; lying; running off to parties while we were newlyweds, etc etc; so i cannot stand church because I remember him telling me what they told him to do against his wife….

          • This is where the church/pastor gets it wrong. Fine that everyone is a child of God but there should be an expectation that you treat your fellow people with kindness and respect. The first priority for the pastor or church should be to support the people whose world was crushed. If they can’t do this and make sure that church is a safe place to be then really I don’t believe they espouse the values of their faith.

            • I found out the hard way that my former in-laws don’t espouse the values of their faith. I don’t believe in any gods (there are many, so I’m using a small “g”, not to offend). My ex knew I wasn’t a believer when he married me. We both had the attitude that it was a very personal thing, and we respected that treating other people well was the true test of good character. Of course, since I’m here, I now know he was just blowing smoke to manage his image. In practice though, we raised our son to know that he was free to choose what he thought about that ultimate question. He’s 18 now, and so far he has come to the same conclusion that I have about matters around faith. I always tell him that if he comes to a different conclusion later, that’s fine with me. I just love him, and he’s a good man, unlike his father. It doesn’t matter to me where he draws from to guide his moral choices. Anyway, seven years into our marriage my in-laws found out their son married (gasp!) an atheist. They knew my character, but that tidbit changed our relationship. I was needled about it, my son was given impromptu lessons about why he needed Jesus, and my FIL attempted to shame me as well. It became more bearable as time went on, and they did show me love, but boy did I get a rude awakening when my ex’s cheating came to light. It turns out that the fuckwit had told his parents that he needed to divorce me because he had met a really nice girl on the internet, but she lived in another city. Their response was to tell him that he should be careful because you never know for sure about people you meet online. No telling him what an immoral asshole he was being, just acceptance that he wasn’t happy, of course. He admitted to performing character assassination on me, but that is still no excuse for them to throw me under the bus. They had known me for nearly 20 years at that point! So they were all concerned that their grandchild wasn’t receiving a proper moral education because we didn’t go to church and he wasn’t in Sunday school, yet it turns out their own son was the one with the gutter morals, not me. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He learned his impression management from absolute pros. As an added bonus, the very last Mother’s Day card they sent to me after fuckwit’s double life had been exposed was a very religious card talking about how good mothers are prayer warriors and other talking points to that effect. I consider that to be their great big “Fuck you” to me since they didn’t need to play nice anymore. And yes, my son lost tremendous respect for them for that.

        • Of course sexism is a factor. Let’s be real; the holy books of all religions are sexistI. That is one good reason among many to avoid organized religion. Spirituality is good for many people, but much of organized religion is just a scam. They line their pockets with your donations and tell you how to live. Power and money for them, subservience for you. You don’t need those con artists in order to be spiritual. Good for you for leaving that horrible church.

      • Chumpupthevolume, please change churches. They are not all like that. Divorce on the grounds of adultery is Biblical.

      • Someone posted a link to this pastor who does address abuse head on. Unholy Charade.
        unholy charade
        I don’t know how to post links here or I would so you could get to it easily. (two attempts don’t look right but maybe when I hit the post button they will light up…..)

        You will just have to Google and it should come up. Loaded with sermons under ‘The Psychology of Sin’.

        Maybe a new church family in it for you.

        Good Luck

      • Um, you are biblically validated if you leave an unrepentant , unchanging adulterous spouse. I pray God will show us that He has something better for all of us!

    • I was told that I’m “harboring unforgiveness in my heart” because I don’t want to be friends with my cheating ex (“for the sake of the kids,” of course). *eyeroll*

      • And surely the response to that is ‘Yes I am harbouring imunforgiveness in my heart exactly for the sake of the kids to model some normal behaviour.

        The oooh how dare you react like that and not just get over it narrative. Sickening.

        • I see this very differently.

          I do not see forgiveness as anything that can be achieved single-handedly.

          Forgiveness is a 2 part deal. The other part is Repentance. Forgiveness cannot happen without Repentance.

          Jesus forgave anyone who asked for it and were repentant. However, when he was on the cross, did He say, ” I forgive you”? No. He said, “FATHER, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” He couldn’t forgive them…for what they were doing to him, because they were not repentant.

          “But if you don’t forgive those who wrong you, then you are walking in unforgiveness.”

          Not true.

          You walk in unforgiveness when someone asks you to forgive them and then you don’t. (Leave the true motives of their hearts to God….we are to just do what we’ve been asked)

          Which is why Romans 2:4 in essence reads, ” Or do you have so little regard for His rich kindness, his restraint, and his patience, that you ignore the fact that the purpose of God’s kindness is to lead you to repentance?” and this is because repentance is required before forgiveness.

          So, that’s all a very long way of saying….my ex is not repentant….neither is his affair partner….and because they are not repentant, I am unable to forgive them …and because I am unable to forgive them, due to their lack of repentance, then I am not walking around in unforgiveness.

          Therefore, the self-righteous can suck it.

          However, should my ex suddenly meet Christ on the road to Damascus and get a character transplant, I’ll have my work cut out for me. In the meantime, I suppose in order to fill the order of Christianity that I am trying to walk (albeit, not very well, but I’m a work in progress) I should probably pray for them to repent, if for no other reason than to be obedient to the calling of Christ and my own commitment to walk the talk. So I will muster that, in the very least. If that prayer is answered, THEN and only then, will I be called to forgive.

          I’m okay with that.

          • I like this, as a non religious person who respects all belief systems.

            The father of my first two children operated with some very damaging behaviour. He physically assaulted me on numerous occasions, put my teeth through my lip once, and I left him. I removed access to the children when I realised he was an addict and was neglecting the children when they stayed with him one night a fortnight. His family assisted me to do so.

            I raised both of them on my own until I met my husband a number of years later. We got married and had child 3. Husband is the cheater, not the addict.

            Anyway, in March this year I get a call from first father’s family saying he is in hospital dying of terminal cancer and has asked to see me & the kids. We went. He proceeded to repent. He owns all his shitty actions to me and the kids, he could not stop saying sorry, he asks me to pray for his soul and thanks me for being so strong and caring for our 2 kids. In the months leading up to his death he really tried to mend the hurt and heal the wounds he’d caused.

            He passed a month ago. His kids and I found peace with him before he died. It took him facing his mortality to bring about the change in himself and want to make amends before he ran out of time. He left this earth with some dignity.

            In short, unless there is repentance as tedious folk put it, there can be no forgiveness. And those who do not do the work to reconcile their wrongs, will carry them to their grave. That is on THEM.

      • Our forgiveness process is valid and it is at our pace, or not at all (that’s between God and us). Do it as quickly as you can, for yourself, but forgiveness doesn’t mean going back and engaging with the monster or being friends. If you notice in the Bible, anytime Jesus went to a sinner, they TURNED away from their sin and REPENTED. People forget that when they say Judge not or they also tend to muddle the forgiveness process.
        It would be most beneficial to forgive for our own health, I think, but also your process needs to be at your pace, not the world’s.

    • I have written about this before, but I will repeat here. My experience with my church has been incredible and supportive. I regret that I didn’t seek that support immediately when I learned of my STBXHs infidelity. I assumed that I would be encouraged to save the marriage at all costs, and when my ex and I both have very Catholic families, I felt I had all the support for the marriage that I needed from our families.

      After a devastating year of pick-me dancing, he left me anyways for the OW (she wasn’t the only one, just the one who lasted the longest). His family was appalled. His own father apologized to me for what he said was “his failure to properly develop his son’s morality.” They made it immediately clear that his relationship will never be accepted by the family (and they are sticking to their guns a year and a half later).

      When I told the story to my priest about what happened, he was shocked. He informed me that if I had confided in him sooner he never would have advised me to stay in such a situation. The priority would have been to protect myself and the children from this man’s immorality and abuse, which is what occurs when adultery takes place. I was stunned. Thank God that, with respect to issues of selfish or abusive actions in marriage, it would appear that the Catholic Church has become more informed of good psychology and incorporates it into their support of families.

      I hope that all faith-communities can do the same and continue to improve what they are already doing. Faith must be reasoned faith. God does not require us to be blind, but to be informed. Interpreting the scriptures in a reasoned manner, utlizing the great intellect God has given us to better understand the human condition is imperative in ensuring that we are always responding in the most loving way possible.

      Of course, my ex, in his selfishness, would prefer to view his family’s stance as negatively judgmental and as a sign that he cannot be his real self with them. His narrative is that he’s never been understood by his family and could never measure up. It is unfortunate that he doesn’t understand that it is a loving act to hold other’s accountable to a high moral standard, to want others to be good and to do the right thing, to ensure that you have what you need and not just what you want. And, so we all pray for him, for the grace of God, and continue to lay out the boundaries that he so seems to hate.

      As for “saving the marriage” at this point, my priest has advised me that my only priority is the care of my children and my own well-being. Oh, let’s schedule the next meeting to discuss annulment. Forgiveness itself must follow the stages of grief, and it takes as long as it takes.

      • Sounds like a good, decent priest. There are wonderful pastors and priests out there, unfortunately there are creeps with power issues that flock to those vocations as well. I think if you divulge abuse, in any form, to a therapist or spiritual adviser, and they tell you to basically stick it out, get rid of them or leave their church pronto.

    • In my case it was my super religious, super pro marriage friend who finally convinced me that I needed to get divorced.

  • I sang like a bird, and he was mortified.

    I don’t understand how he thought I wouldn’t let people know the truth, probably because he was such a skilled liar.

    Anyway, so true that we need to see infidelity as abusive behaviour. It takes time to shift awareness, but I like to believe we’re making some progress.

  • My ex thought that I’d stay quiet about his cheating ways, but I didn’t. He was furious, which actually surprised me. After all, they’d ‘dated’ in public places while he was playing the good husband and dad at home. He moved from our house to hers and immediately took her on a work trip; surely folks could put that together themselves! His secret was not mine to keep, and I didn’t.

  • Another angle is the likely widespread preception that cheating seems like a “first world problem”:

    “Well sure, of course cheating is never a good thing, and I can understand why you’d feel devestated.

    But come on, when you think of what other families are dealing with — drug abuse, alcoholism, gambling addiction, domestic violence, suicidal depression, financial victimization, disease — you know, REAL problems …”

    Very few people would point to any of these and give a hint that both parties played a role in bringing them about. But i think there’s a knee-jerk reaction to marital infidelity that somehow the victimized party could have influenced the outcome such that any colateral damage wouldnt have been as bad.

    That perception will take a long time to change, and requires the type of bravery and honesty that CL exemplifies.

    • Agreed, UXworld.

      For years, I convinced myself that leaving my abusive ex would be cowardly – that women in different parts of the world were going through so much worse, so it was my duty to stay married to my ex. After all, he was “only” adulterous and alcoholic. He didn’t beat me, so that didn’t count as abuse, right?

      • Interesting that we get chided for being co-dependent while simultaneously being told that lack of codependence is our fault.

        • That codependence thingy is just another way to blame the chump – it’s your fault that the spouse cheats because you’re codependent enabler. Your enabling makes him/ her do it.

      • I was from the ‘you made your bed, you lie in it’ generation. And your vows were for better or worse crap…..

        • Mitz, I don’t know that I’m from that generation, but that’s my mindset. My older brother’s, too.

    • That’s because they see cheating as an isolated or singular incident/event. People don’t realize that most often it’s weeks or years of ongoing choices, gaslighting, hiding, and possibly other devastating “choices” (esp if there’s true mental disorder involved) that are gradually revealed=long term covert abuse.

      • Yup, and this is what I thought my cheater’s infidelity was on Dday 1 (a one night midlife crisis). Once Dday 2 rolled around and I realized he had a whole secret life I was shocked. Now that I have found chump lady and done a lot of reading on infidelity I understand that it is rarely a singular event. I always tell people now that the cheating is one thing but it was the lying stealing, gaslighting, stonewalling, and other appalling behaviour that made it so much worse. I say it loud and proud that I have nothing to be ashamed of “his shame to wear not mine”. Many people say good on you but I can see a lot of people looking at me “like holy shit can you believe she’s telling us this”.

        • Had to smile when I read what you wrote because I get the same reaction especially about all the new ‘strong’ words I am using. Just the other day a woman I have known for 30 years remarked, “I have never heard you talk like this.” We giggled.

          I will continue to use colorful language until I don’t feel the need to anymore – and that may be never because I am an older woman and I can do what I please now. 🙂

    • Agreed. They also don’t realize that those “real” problems often go right along with adultery. My ex turned out to be a high functioning alcoholic, he stole Xanax out of my prescription bottle, he’s a porn addict, devastated me financially, and I’m forced to go back to work with chronic pain and mobility issues. He also quit his six figure a year job so he wouldn’t have to give me spousal support, with the excuse that he couldn’t do it anymore. Porn addiction rewires your brain and he literally cannot concentrate. He drives for Uber now and delivers cars to people across the country for a local dealership. He fucked himself over and I got caught in the tornado, along with my son.

    • Ugh, I dealt with this and it made me livid. Someone who had recently experienced a death in the family basically told me to get over myself because other people are experiencing “real problems.” Such a hideous response. The one positive thing about going through a painful experience, whatever the severity, is that it makes you more empathetic toward other people going through their own rough patches. Evidently not for all, though, considering the way this person spoke to me. I did get a good laugh at her expense a year later when I heard through the grapevine about her own love life falling apart and her outrageously inappropriate response to it all (she was cheating on 2 people at once, so no guilt here for laughing at her pain).

    • When I left my first abuser, the church in the form of my pastor and the pastor of a faith community I was considering joining both told me that I needed to correct that about myself which was causing my husband to be abusive to me. My therapists — the first five or six anyway — asked me what I had done to make him hit me, or asked what I could do to make him stop. My father, who as far as I know never lifted a hand to my mother, told me it was “no big deal,” and “joked” about how a man “used to be able to beat his wife as long as he didn’t use anything bigger around than his thumb.” My point is that people *DO* blame victims of domestic violence, just like they blame chumps. In fact, no matter the problem, most people blame the woman. A man, after all, has NEEDS.

  • Thank you CL! Like so many other chumps, I carry so much shame that is not mine about the cheating, divorce, etc. I have also tried to “keep the peace for the sake of the children” and all that has done is leave me vulnerable to further manipulations and emotional abuse.

    I know I need to change the situation, but sometimes I feel stuck because I have enabled a faux family narrative in my effort to “keep the peace.” So how do I explain to my children (teen & college age) that I am no longer willing to participate in the toxic, dysfunctional “co” parenting BS that I have been putting up with since DDay 2 years ago? What if doing so damages my relationship with my children, especially since their father is likely to manipulate them & tell them what an angry, bitter, shrew I am? How do I set boundaries I should have set long ago?

    • Your kids are smarter than you think. They might fall for his manipulations for awhile, partly because it’s easier for them psychologically, but they know the truth, and it will prevail. Having healthy boundaries is the BEST thing you can do—it’s sets a right example for your children and it protects you from further abuse, which will allow you to focus on the Real things in your life, like your kids. Be Mighty!!

    • I think that starting with exactly what you said here; ‘I am no longer willing to participate ….’. Explain what the FACTS are, explain why it’s not good for YOU to participate in a false front, and mention that you don’t think it’s good for them, either. Tell them it is likely confusing to them to have you change your position and behaviour like this, and that they will likely wonder which narrative is the correct one; yours or your Ex’s. But that you trust that they will be able, with some time, to weigh what they have experienced over the years of you and of their dad, of the observations they make about the situations you are describing, and their own perceptions and analyses, and figure out what they think has happened and is hapenning. Make it clear that you will answer any questions they have and listen to any concerns. But that how YOU behave is up to YOU, in the end, just as their father’s choices are his, and theirs are their own.

      Come on over to the forums, there are LOTS of discussions of how to deal w/the nearly-grown kids, over there.

      • Thank you Karen. I am traveling this week with limited computer access but will post in the forums next week!

      • How do I find this stuff about older kids in the forums? Does it have a specific heading? (I am new here so haven’t learned all the ins and outs.)

    • I see anger as being a healthy response to all the crap we’ve had to deal with (within reason of course). It would be weird if you never reached the angry stage. My older teens know the truth and know that I believe their father was a coward for doing what he did. When they have discussed with me I have talked about the power of choice – we choose how we treat others and how we deal with situations. He tried to tell the kids he hadn’t wanted to be married in a while and I said that while that was hurtful he certainly hadn’t told me that or owned up to that. If that is how he truly felt (while writing me love letters etc. – can we say cake eater?) he should have done the right thing and spoke up about his needs and either asked for what he wanted or counselling or whatever or ask for a divorce – he did none of that – he developed a secret life. Early on in the process he wanted to continue “family dinners” where he ignored me and held court with the children. After a few of these I said we shall alternate family dinners – he was pissed. Cheaters want to control the narrative because image is such a big thing for them. I am sure if you have a heartfelt conversation with your kids about your needs and wants they will eventually respond. I refuse to pretend that what my cheater did was okay and faux family stuff gives off that message. I never want my 2 sons to do this to someone or have it done to them. Good luck!!

      • Thank you, Deee! What’s so interesting is that the other day my son generally said — we were NOT at all directly talking about his father — that my problem was I was “too kind” and that I needed to find my anger. From the brief conversations we have had about the divorce, I do think he “gets” it, as he has his own issues with his dad that the divorce has only made made worse. I am more worried about my daughter, who is a “daddy’s girl” and wants to “both sides” the situation. I also have my own relatives, who want me to “make nice” and expect me to continue to attend larger family events, etc., with the Jackass.

  • The church is gifted at shaming the chump into silence, some of the reasons given for my desired silence were:
    So our younger two children would not find out, lets just ignore that the eldest one was exposed to his fathers homosexual porn habit that lead to D’Day.
    Two wrongs don’t make a right – my anger over his infidelity was a sin (I was red Hot angry) and as all sin is equal my sin cancelled his out therefore I had nothing to talk about.
    I was expected to stay silent and not tell anyone (especially fellow church members) what he did becasue doing so would hinder his recovery – we didn’t need anyone judging him unfairly.
    I should remain silent because I needed to own my part, yep It was expected that by keeping quite I would single handedly save my marriage.
    It was expected that I would just sit silently on the sidelines of my own life while the senior members of the church dictated the terms of his recovery and my reaction.
    When I spoke up I was bullied by my senior paster I was advised that by not yeilding to their authority and keeping silient I had over stepped my bounds as a woman, and I have previously shared about being told I had no right to say my marriage was over because how was I going to save face when he was restored and I HAD to take him back……….It took me a few years to deal with the shame of being chumped not just because of the years of lies, denial, and cheating but the relentless faithful spouse shaming that compounded the pain I was already in. I ended my relationship with my church and my ex just to gain piece of mind but it came at an emotional cost. I am nearly 6 years out and am so Meh. if you are facing similar from your faith based support please know one thing, you are not alone and there are many healthy churches out there you do not have to submit to men or leaderships that would condone such compounding abuse. For those of you who are being bullied into reconciliation by your church through comments like “you should not give up so easily” or “God hates divorce” know this, God divorced the nation of Isreal for its sinful cheating behaviour, He hated it because it ended the relationship between him and his beloved Isreal. Don’t allow people to speak twisted scripters over you to get the outcome they want. Stay Strong.

    • In your case it sounds like you needed to leave a cheater and a church in order to gain a life. Both difficult and painful decisions but the only way to move on and heal from your abuse.

    • “I had no right to say my marriage was over because how was I going to save face when he was restored and I HAD to take him back…”

      WTF? So glad you escaped him and them.

  • I read this in the book “Missoula” by Jon Krakauer, about a college town who was in denial about the football team’s rape culture. It has so many parallels to narcissistic cheaters:

    It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering . . . In order escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it on herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail. – Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery

    • In my opinion, Judith Hermann’s book “Trauma and Recovery” should be read by every woman who has ever been abused. It’s the keystone text in the literature of abuse and recovery. It is THE text that allowed me to understand the dynamics of both the childhood sexual abuse I experienced at the hands of my father and the abuse he dealt out to my mother.

  • This is a great post. I too was very open about him leaving me for another woman. I wasn’t a perfect wife and I take responsibility for 1/2 of our problems. However, him cheating and leaving me and the kids is all on him. He was such an idiot and lost a lot- family, friends, home, etc. He is starting to realize it somewhat (10 months out). 95% of the time people were supportive and had a similar story to tell. I tried to make a joke out of it so I would not appear angry “he left me for a woman he met on a commuter flight. She resembles Mr Ed”. People would laugh at their expense and I liked it. I needed to get the story out of my head, to verbalize it. I was devastated and I’m just beginning to feel better- was in denial until recently. Thank you Chump Nation!

  • Love this CL! I told almost everyone and the people close to me were supportive but some other people reacted as if I’d just told them I had a horrible contagious disease. I also dislike the way cheating is trivialised in movies etc. And victim blaming is rife. Thank goodness for Chump Nation!

  • There are plenty of times where I feel like there’s a big C or D (divorcee) branded on my forehead. I can’t change what everyone thinks and for the most part, I don’t care. However, I was not quiet in front of my family and friends. What I discovered is that people thought of this as a typical divorce. People change, fall out of love, part ways, whatever. It wasn’t until I spoke of incidents and behaviors that someone finally said, “I didn’t know your marriage was that bad.” To be honest, I didn’t know it was that bad. Well, on some level, I knew it wasn’t ‘right’ in sense that I observed other marriages. But like a good chump, I spackled and spackled until he looked like a normal human being. Those days are gone and long over. I no longer spackle and I no longer hide what he is.

    • I didn’t realize my marriage was bad either. Now that he is gone my kids get along famously! When he was here they fought all the time because he was angry and we were on eggshells. He also treated our daughter like crap. It went downhill slowly and I didn’t recognize what an asshole he was

  • The church is gifted at shaming the chump into silence, some of the reasons given for my desired silence were:

    So our younger two children would not find out, lets just ignore that the eldest one was exposed to his fathers homosexual porn habit that lead to D’Day.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right – my anger over his infidelity was a sin (I was red Hot angry) and as all sin is equal my sin cancelled his out therefore I had nothing to talk about.

    I was expected to stay silent and not tell anyone (especially fellow church members) what he did becasue doing so would hinder his recovery – we didn’t need anyone judging him unfairly. But hey Everyone was free to judge me because my actions where not matching up to what most people knew of the situation.

    I should remain silent because I needed to own my part, yep It was expected that by keeping quite I would single handedly save my marriage.

    It was expected that I would just sit silently on the sidelines of my own life while the senior members of the church dictated the terms of his recovery and my reaction.
    When I spoke up I was bullied by my senior paster I was advised that by not yeilding to their authority and keeping silient I had over stepped my bounds as a woman, and I have previously shared about being told I had no right to say my marriage was over because how was I going to save face when he was restored and I HAD to take him back……….It took me a few years to deal with the shame of being chumped not just because of the years of lies, denial, and cheating but the relentless faithful spouse shaming that compounded the pain I was already in. I ended my relationship with my church and my ex just to gain piece of mind but it came at an emotional cost. I am nearly 6 years out and am so Meh.

    If you are facing similar from your faith based support please know one thing, you are not alone and there are many healthy churches out there, you do not have to submit to men or leaderships that would condone such compounding abuse. For those of you who are being bullied into reconciliation by your church through comments like “you should not give up so easily” or “God hates divorce” know this, God divorced the nation of Isreal for its sinful cheating behaviour, He hated it because it ended the relationship between him and his beloved Isreal. Don’t allow people to speak twisted scripters over you to get the outcome they want. Stay Strong.

    • Thankful, we should talk. I had a similar but slightly more positive experience with the church.
      My church leadership made a “recovery plan” for Jonathan (Cheater) that he promptly didn’t follow. Honestly, i was relieved the document had nothing to do with our marriage or reconciliation and everything to do with his own therapy and the breaking of his poor decisions. Still, they were not patient or kind with my anger and I believe to be angry is to be brave. I know it’s hard to be angry and not bleed all over everyone else, hurting them as well, but we aren’t responsible for our trauma reactions and I believe that anger is one of them and it needs to be encouraged and encouraged to it’s proper setting. People don’t get anger. They just tell you crap like “hurt people hurt people” not understanding that to not act “hurt” you need to get that anger out, even if it takes a year or two!!! Gosh, this topic gets me fired up. I just hate how our society and within society, religious culture, somehow forget that anger was made with a purpose. It can be used for good! It creates that fire under your butt to get it the hell out. It accelerates the evolution of your grief to sprout some freak of nature legs that help you make boundaries and get safe!!! Anger is good! Keep being angry for as long as you want because you know what? Once you feel all that anger, you won’t have to feel it again. Essentially, would you rather stifle it your whole life or smash a few glass wares and be moody or sad or bitter for a year or two and then emerge stronger and wiser?

      • Silent Chump hand ( both hands) raised here,
        Every Chump’s story has differences to other’s stories.
        I pick me danced, he stayed, children were so young.
        I never told anyone then, later or much later. It is a good deal for him. He got to cheat, he got to stay, to keep his wife, his beautiful children, his life as he knew it.
        He got to forget the cheating, ( told me nothing really) and of course, I never forgot one single solitary thing about DDay and the difficult times that followed.
        But, to tell, and of course I have thought about this, many many times. It is all engraved in my heart and in my memory.
        In my case, I know that it would only cause pain to my children and now to my grandchildren, so I do not tell.
        Really simple, I just do not tell.
        CN is a place, ( a secret haven), where every Chump is set free to tell what they are able to get out, to hold back what they cannot write even here.
        Here a Chump can tell.

        Attie and Sunny,
        I send you big big hugs. You are so Mighty as well as so many other Chumps of CN.

        • Peacekeeper, do not make this a ‘secret haven” the point is to get the narrative out there. I know that you think that telling your truth would hurt your children and grandchildren, but what do they think now? Mom, grandma, was a meanie so Dad, grandad, had to leave her. Is that what you want? You can tell your truth gracefully, righteously and completely without worrying about its harm. It is only harming you to keep keeping the peace peacekeeper, take yourself into consideration too.

        • Your comment about keeping secret reminds me of a patient I had at work.

          One morning as I was washing her and getting her ready for breakfast, she turned and asked me if I thought she was going to hell…

          Often in those moments, I feel the depth of our age difference (I’m 39 and she was 80+) and have not lived even half of the life she has..

          So, my usual go-to is to ask “do YOU think you are going to hell?”

          Crying, she told me that she had raised her 9 children with her husband, and he always had provided well for her. She had a car and money, when most women at that time did not, and he was good husband and father.

          But after all her children left the house, she discovered that her husband was having an affair.
          She said she had enough evidence she knew with out a doubt, but she sat on it, and did not confront him.

          She was devastated and quietly made plans to leave. Then he was diagnosed unexpectedly with end stage cancer. She stayed by his side and nursed him to the end but she said when he died, she felt relieved and she felt that feeling was a sin and she was going to hell.
          Even on her death bed, she never told her adult children about their fathers affair.

          After she told me all of this, I hugged her and told her, that I do not speak for God, but she showed so much love towards her husband during his illness even knowing his betrayal, that her action of caring for his must negate the feeling of relief when he passed.

          I dont know if that was the right thing to say, but it was all i could think of in the moment…

          I think often of her….

          • ChumpedinCanada, those words are beautiful. That poor woman, to hold on to that secret for so long. I’m sure your words gave her comfort.

          • God Lord. That poor, good woman. To be tormented w/guilt for so long while behaving so much better than her cheater, not to mention many others. I admire her character, but I’m so sad she felt guilt.

      • I am a hurt person – I don’t go around hurting people. I just call bullshit on that narrative entirely.

      • I was angry, not any more.

        When cheater realised I was not taking him back he used my anger to justify our marriage ending. His infidelity did not end our marriage my anger did, it was eaiser for him to claim to be the victim of an abusive wife, than to accept I had ended our marriage and was angry because he had been having sex with men for most of our marriage. because he was a sad sausage and that was easier to work with than the red hot angry mess I was, throw in our youngest getting cancer with in weeks of D’day and his victim status hit warp factor 9 in a matter of days. His story gained even more credit when my reaction to the situation was more than the church thought it should be because he gave them a sanitised version of events and treated me and our kids like shit while claiming to be doing everything they asked of him, they never considered to verify his story because I was just and over emotional female (who had already proven to be non compliant). And all our friends just though I was full of shit when they watched him hook another woman and the church helped him groom her as my replacment.
        So why am I no longer angry? I am debt free, have a good job, have earned a degree since d’day, have lost 15 kg (aprox 30 pounds) since February, have good friends and am totally drama and crazy free.

        Oh there is a sign post, its says………MEH!

        • Thankful, I am so happy to hear you came out for the better. Many wouldn’t, w/a story like that. You are mighty as all hell. And he’s got to live w/the fact that he’s a POS.

  • CL, I am an attorney in the area of discrimination/harassment and a settlement judge at the EEOC. And a chump, and a survivor of domestic violence. I went to Harvard Law School and am not stupid – just hopeful, and compassionate, and trying to see the good in people. Ha! Thank you for talking about the commonality of ABUSE OF POWER that underlies both workplace abuse AND infidelity. The power of the #MeToo and #WhyIDidntReport movements cannot be overestimated. They are literally changing the face of the American workplace. If you can earn your own money, you’re financially able to walk away from abuse. And now your #TrustThatTheySuck movement is changing the stigma of being chumped.

    When they can no longer keep you from making your own money, or keep you from speaking your truth because you’re not ashamed, what weapons will they have?

    I’ve started to speak publicly about my workplace and personal experiences of being abused (because my 2nd husband was also my law partner, alas, these experiences overlap – see paragraph 5 in this piece, https://medium.com/@lindafalcao/im-feeling-tired-after-a-lifetime-of-men-asking-about-my-uterus-3fe72ff4c958 ) I went onto a 3rd husband (someone I knew from my childhood, so I naturally trusted him), who after developing a mysterious passion for motorcycle riding and long absences from the house, emailed me (after 17 years together) to let me know he was moving out. I wrote to his family to dispute the narrative he was selling (that we had some “side agreement” to our marriage that he was “honoring” by moving out as soon as he felt like it), as follows:

    “Dear Family: I wanted to write to thank you for your love & kindness in the last 17 years Kemuel and I have been together. Family is really important to me, and you have been my family, so it’s important to me to tell you what happened (to the extent I understand it myself). After a minor disagreement that lasted a week (about my supposed non-support of Kemuel’s hobbies), he threatened to move out. Things then de-escalated and we had a pleasant weekend together, I thought we were moving past it as just one of those things that happens in a long marriage – then I wake up Monday morning to an email telling me he’s putting a deposit on an apartment that afternoon and moving out that weekend. Yes, he emailed me the news he was leaving me after 17 years together. This came out of the blue completely- we had not been arguing on a regular basis, in counseling, etc. (I have been asked about this, so I assume others have this question as well). I was emotionally devastated. To compound that, I had immediate financial worries, as Kemuel immediately contacted the utilities companies to tell them he would no longer be paying for the utilities (our housing arrangement is that I pay the mortgage, property taxes, and house insurance, and he pays the utilities). He’s sent me numerous nasty and verbally abusive emails, including threatening to cut off my internet (which I depend on to work) if I didn’t transfer the account by 4 pm that afternoon. (He claimed it was to ensure a “seamless” transition for me- Verizon told me he had a 2-year contract with them, the cancellation fee for which is $160). A PECO worker came pounding on the door to give me a disconnection notice, which was a shock. Kemuel’s also claimed that we had a secret sworn “agreement” that anytime one of us felt like leaving the marriage we could just bounce . This upsets me almost more than anything, as it makes a lie out of our marriage. Does anyone think I’m an idiot, that if we really had had that agreement I wouldn’t have gotten a prenup? Or I would have rolled over proceeds from a paid-up house solely in my name into a house in joint name ? Or put my money in a Roth IRA in his name ? He still won’t say anything about why he left other than that he doesn’t believe in “one-way streets” (i.e., I take and he gives, which ignores my moving up here to be closer to his work, not having another baby because he didn’t want one, moving out of my house in Wynnewood that I lived in for 25 years and put a 2-story addition on the year before we connected again because he didn’t like that I had lived there with previous husbands, giving him a house to live in rent-free for 13 years, among other things). About a month ago he got a cell phone, after having mocked people having cell phones for years, and I know he meets female bikers out riding. My doctor recommended a full panel of STD testing, which thank God was negative, but of course the HIV has to be repeated in 3-6 months. My family has been mega-supportive, visiting, taking me out, lending me money so I can give him the $$ he’s demanded to sign papers returning my assets to me, but this whole experience has been emotionally and financially devastating. BTW, to clear up something Barbara mentioned, we are not divorced. Kemuel keeps saying we’re divorced, but legally we are not, you have to wait 90 days in PA. We will be divorced then if he agrees to it without demanding more money from me.

    Sorry to dump this raft of ugliness into your laps, but you have been family to me, and I know he’s already telling some lies about me, so I wanted to give you the facts. Please feel free to call me or email, or simply wish me the best in your hearts. I love you all and thank you for being my family.

    love,
    Linda”

    Anyway, he’s told me numerous times since then (before I blocked him) that he was “really upset” I sent that email, and told his co-workers (who were friends with me also) what happened. Ha! Long story short, I’m having a wonderful time alone (spent a month in London just because I wanted to – he didn’t like international travel- and moved to the DC area for better work), and, most importantly, have sanity & peace in my life. THANK YOU for all that you are doing to end marriage abuse and encourage folks to speak their truth. You are changing the world! God bless you!

    • Excellent…..you told the truth to his family! I told my ex’s family and he was very angry that I would ‘poison’ them against him. The arrogance of cheaters is boundless.

        • I didn’t exactly “tell” his family but more than once when he was beating the crap out of me I managed to dial their number and either got them on the phone (which I hid down the side of the sofa) or got their answering machine, or pressed “video record” on my own phone and hid it. I then sent that recording to them AND him. Either way they got to HEAR him and what he was doing. I liked my in-laws but I do remember ex FIL saying “what the hell did you call the police for?”. I was stunned and just asked him if he thought I should allow his son to continue beating the shit out of me! He had no answer for that! So yeah, they knew the truth!

  • Thanks Cl for the post today. Good thoughts

    Honestly, I forget that there might be some shame in my past husband’s decisions. I just talk about it semi freely with people I trust. To people I don’t trust I just say “ya, he made some poor decisions that lead to our separation and divorce” and leave it at that. Some people shrink away from wanting to listen, and you know what? I’m ok with it because I know that eventually they will also be hit with tragedy because nobody is exempt. Who knows? Maybe they will remember how I was strong and call me for help, which I will freely give. I just categorize those people as “not ready” for my full story.
    Anyway, I think my mind has arrived to a space where it just assumes everyone thinks that my ex is awful, not that I wasn’t enough for him. I can’t fathoms someone having such an archaic perspective of betrayal. I’m sure people do have it but that’s their problem- not mine 🙂
    I’m sure some people are thinking “it takes two to tango” but again, I just see those people as not ready for the full story. We will wait (not with anticipation..) till they or someone they love gets abused or someone has a disease or is attached by something or someone else and see if there was much consent in those situations.
    -In light of grief

    • Yeah, I just tell those kinds of people who really don’t want to hear the whole truth that “He put his wants before his wife and son’s needs”.

      • ‘He made some poor decisions that led to our separation and divorce.’
        ‘He put his wants before his wife and son’s needs.’

        2 month after d-day and I am still trying not to overshare. I need some phrases that can let people know that I am separated, but not have to tell the whole story. Thank you for these ideas.

        • I simply said the following…”I couldn’t remain married when I found out he had a girlfriend.” That was it. 99% of people responded with…”what an asshole and I’m so sorry”. You don’t need to say lying, cheating, abandoning asshole…which is exactly what I wanted to scream everyday. Those words trigger people to pullback and not want to engage. But if you use the phrase above it’s softer and more acceptable to most people. We are not the assholes and by changing the tone of answering the question it prevents people from assuming chumps are bitter, angry and in someway responsible for the affair.

          Oh and it absolutely made my ex nuts that I would casually say it when asked by people. There wasn’t anything he could say to disparage me as all I did was state the facts and keep the focus on his actions.

  • Maybe I’m dense but I don’t feel like I have the same experience. I have never felt the need to be ashamed because of the cheating. I did as a younger woman when my first husband physically abused me, but not after my second husband cheated.

    I have never had a problem placing all that squarely on him or felt ashamed for how he treated me. If anyone has put that on me, I’m truly oblivious… because I honestly don’t give two shits about that. I know my truth and I really don’t care what anyone else has to say about it. I’ve gotten support and that’s been amazing.

    • I never personally felt ashamed of having been chumped or afraid people would think poorly of me because of it. I was just reluctant to tell because I didn’t want to betray him by telling other people what a jerk he was. I needed to “prove” my love by being trustworthy myself so he would pick me. I actually felt guilty for having told my Dad when I was a devastated emotional wreck and really needed the support and thought that betrayal had something to do with his picking Schmoopie over me. I know better now. I am glad I told me Dad when I did.

      • I don’t feel ashamed either, and I find that reaction to my chump status is an excellent test of the character of newer friends. Folks who act like I should be embarrassed — or start to tell me that ‘it’s not so bad’ — I don’t have anything to do with them after that.

  • I have told people that I was abandoned by e-mail after 28 years of marriage. That he is a cheater and he left for a chick our daughters’ age. That she was not the first affair. That he is a lying coward. That our daughters don’t speak to him.

    He left the country to avoid facing anyone and I am left to run into long time friends and acquaintances–people whose kids grew up with ours. I tell. Most people express horror and determine he is awful but then then shrink away like it is contagious, never reaching out to me again.

    There is palpable fear of this happening to them, covered in a smug understanding that they are Better Than That and thank god they are not married to a crazy man child. To themselves they try to think of a half-dozen reasons why we didn’t make it, none of which identify him as a passive aggressive covert narcissist. It could never happen to them. Cluck cluck, there there, pat pat.

    I might as well walk around with a leper face. This is why we are not supposed to talk about the cheating–not that we are terrible and deserved it, but that we are part of spreading a disease if it is spoken of. It is why the older generation often whispers the word “divorced” or “cheating” like they whisper the word, “cancer.”

    Don’t speak of it and it can’t find a foothold among us Good People. Nobody likes a bummer.

    Eventually I will stop defining myself by this but for now I tell.

  • I admit I only told my 2 friends for the first 5 weeks
    I was ashamed and embarrassed my husband left me for a girl 16 years younger than me .
    I’m 45 and but look 44 ha ha ! How could I ever compete with a 29year old girl I’ve got no chance

    Until I found CL and realised this is not my doing not my shame so now when anyone asks where he is I’m truthful when I say I’ve absolutely no idea he left me for another woman

  • My short version is “He decided he no longer wanted the married and family life, so he walked out after 20 years of marriage when I was 6 months pregnant.”

    Then if they ask, “And you couldn’t work it out?”

    I reply “Not after I found out that he was screwing around with the 23 year old girl who worked for him.”

    There is SOOOOO much more, but that is usually a conversation ended.
    #metoo

  • For me, the biggest and most destructive silence surrounds his sexual abuse of our children.

    This is a story I don’t tell much for a whole variety of killing reasons, most of which the predator formerly known as my husband neatly engineered.

    For instance, I still don’t know exactly the extent of what happened, though it has emerged in small bits over the three years since the predator (and sociopath) left my house. At first, each of my now grown children approached me separately to say that dad had masturbated to internet pornographers in front of them when they were small. This apparently typically happened on weekend mornings or afternoons when he was actually home long enough for me to be able to grocery shop or run errands without kids in tow. And it apparently went on for many years. The guilt of not having known—of having zero inclination to suspect my husband and the father of my children of this horrifying thing—is overwhelming. Oh, I knew he could be a jerk, all right, but at that point I still believed and wanted to believe in the false image he created and promoted: he was just a hard-working family guy, totally devoted to creating a good life for us. Sure, that stressed him out sometimes, but I should just be grateful to be a stay-at-home mom with an ambitious husband, and take his occasional anger and sarcasm in stride. That he was exposing my kids to pornography, to his genitalia, and to his sessions of masturbation—right there in the basement playroom filled with joyful kid games and toys—just never occurred to me. It is bizarre and devastating even to attempt to conceive of it. There were my precious wide-eyed little ones—both of whom I have loved fiercely from the very first moments of their existence—and right there, against the backdrop of Candyland, Winnie-the-Pooh, toy trucks, and baby dolls, dad jerked off to porn in front of them.

    It’s distressing, enraging, and inconceivable in about equal measure. He should jailed, unemployed, featured on every sexual predator list that exists. Instead, he cohabits with the one young employee (one in such a long of exploited professional subordinates that I will certainly never know how many lives and families were damaged by his conscience-free approach to life) he could finally persuade to stick around and be his partner in soul-sucking deception long enough to make exit from marriage and family look like exuberant fulfillment of the true-love, single soul-mate fantasy.

    While those two are planning pool parties and exotic getaways, I’m just over here very gradually learning more of the truth, and dealing with the consequences. Just this week, two new things.

    First, my daughter—soon headed off to her sophomore year of college—dropped quietly into conversation that when she was little and those basement abuse sessions were happening, dad would say things like, “We don’t need to talk about this with mom.”

    Of course, right? Very typical predator behavior, this securing of the victim’s silence, and this cutting the victim off from her one source of reliable support. I wonder if there were more threatening things said, as well. I expect that there were, and this also sheds light on why this kiddo, who is the one who found the sex pics of dad’s affair partner on his phone, held that in for months and months while her grades went down in flames and her depression peaked, and I was desperately trying to support her without knowing even a fraction of the facts.

    Very telling that the children breathed not one word of any of this until he moved out of our home at my insistence. They were clearly protecting me at great personal cost, and this deepens the devastation. They took that and kept it quiet because they loved me, and he exploited that love as only the most disturbed of predators ever could.

    Meanwhile, my son contacted me to express frustration over the trichotillomania he has been battling since grade school. Back then, I thought it was alopecia areata that he suffered, but nope, and this he revealed only very recently. To him, it feels like a small area on the top of his head is always on fire, always burning with an itch that can’t be scratched, and that the only way to find momentary relief is to pull out the hair in that spot. This week, he wrote me along message about how hard it is to live with that feeling constantly, and to try to resist pulling that area clean again and again.

    And only now did the dime finally drop: this is almost certainly a reaction to the basement abuse. The timing fits perfectly—it began when he was just getting old enough to understand the darkness and threat of what was going on—and that it continues is a heart-rending testament to the ongoing damage of dad’s perversity.

    Kids are resilient, hey? I’d like to tell this story of abuse and consequences to every person who says that, or who urges us to move on, get over it, let it go, forgive and forget, avoid bitterness.

    Here are two kids who will contend with the damage to their hearts, psyches, and souls for a very long time. For their whole lives, probably. They are strong, smart, loving, funny, creative, and entirely wonderful people who certainly have the capacity to heal and to live great lives, but it will be an effort, and to the extent that they spin this deep damage into wisdom, compassion, and insight, that will be only because they are exceptional, not because they are effortlessly, instantly, magically resilient.

    My daughter has been known to refer to her father and his young girlfriend as “The Child Molester and The Kid.” That’s the kind of dark humor that some would call bitter, but that is crucial to healing.

    I wonder, sometimes, what The Child Molester and The Kid think about when they are hosting their pool parties or taking selfies on tropical beaches. I wonder what their friend and colleagues think.

    What I know for sure is that the sexual predator counts on this story never being told, and there are reasons for his confidence. They are far too wounded ever to withstand the further wounding and humiliation of prosecuting him as he deserves. He has for many years, now, effectively leveraged my love for them and theirs for me to secure the silence he requires.

    And to whom would or could I or any of us tell this story, so easily dismissed in the face of our reflexive cultural belief in the bitterness of scorned ex-wives, the resilience of children, and the primacy of true love and happily ever after finally won?

    It’s a horror story. An anti-fable. Hardly the sort of thing that makes suitable fodder for cocktail party banter. And yet it is the still very partial truth of a story that only the predator knows the whole of, and that the victims (who knows how many?) left behind will contend with always.

    • And, by the way, telling this story as mom? Nearly impossible, because the most common reaction is blame: you should have known, you should have stopped it, you are complicit. Skip right over the predator, and blame mom immediately. Because apparently I should have known better than to allow dad to be alone with our kids. Yup.

      So fun to live with. That mom is a victim as well—and charged with managing all of the moves toward healing, to boot—is never considered. Quite something.

      Meanwhile, I live endlessly on tenterhooks, waiting for the next crushing revelation, and knowing either that it will come eventually, or that there are deeper depravities that they will perhaps never tell, which is killing, because they need to tell someone (does not have to be me) to live well, but silence was survival when living it.

      • Wow, he is a major sicko. Are you and your kids in therapy for trauma? People can do therapy via Skype now or over the phone if it’s easier for them.

        • People need to therapy in person and in private, especially for this sort of sickening trauma. No recording of anything unless the client wants to in case of dissociation and the need to listen again to something the therapist said.

          • Not necessarily true for everyone. I’ve conducted therapy with trauma survivors via telehealth means numerous times.

            • “Be judicious about internet contact-the internet is not a secure medium” quoted for professional literature (How To Fail As a Therapist).

      • I am so sorry Cashmere – your post made me cry. My cheater husband has certainly affected my sons — lying and pulling away from family always has consequences even if they never want to admit it, but nothing to the extent of what you posted. I am sure it was heartbreaking and devastating to find that out. This whole experience with STBX has really opened my eyes to all the shit that humans do to each other. It has made me determined to “be the change you want to see” in the world. I believe many chumps (who are often kind and empathetic souls already) use this experience to become better people and give back. Big hugs to you and your family – thank goodness your children have you in their corner. Hugs to all of you!

      • cashmere, I don’t post often, today is an exception for some reason. I just want to express my deep sorrow for what you and your children have endured, and my gratitude for all the wisdom you impart with your posts. You are extraordinary, and I wish I could take even one iota of your pain away. I dearly hope that you and your children can live the best lives you possibly can. My heart goes out to you. 💔

      • Cashmere, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so sorry that you and your children endured all of this, but I am so glad that those times are behind you now. I hope many healing and happy days are ahead. <3

      • I am so sorry this happened to you and your wonderful children. Bless you for believing your children, as many parents do not. My family sweeps it under the table, never talks about it and has never asked me for any details including what all happened and the frequency. My father sexually abused me and my mother physically abused me. There was no ‘safe’ for me anywhere my entire childhood. Only after I was older and able to get myself some therapy and I made a stand of No Contact with my mother did even a sliver of her abuse come to light and my father’s never did. So again, bless you for believing your children and being their ‘safe’ place now. The fear of speaking out when you are threatened as a child is strong and deeply embedded.

      • Cashmere: Your story touched me deeply. I understand why you and your children would remain silent about your ex’s sexual abuse. Yes, your ex certainly does leverage your love for your children for your silence. An excruciating position for you. The psychological repercussions of his abuse on your children is heartbreaking to read. I hope there are no more depraved revelations coming out – you are the emotional rock for your children, but even a resilient person can falter. I also hope the experience of writing down your heartrending story for an empathetic audience helped you somewhat.

    • Is there a statute of limitations on child sexual abuse where you live? This pedophile needs to go to prison because he’s going to do it to other kids, if he hasn’t already. They always do. Would your kids be willing to file charges?

    • And to think of all of the wisdom you impart here and in the forums every day, to people who, while not minimizing their own hell) didn’t experience nearly the horrific experiences you did . . .

      ON behalf of everyone who has benefitted from your advice and counsel and kind words, I can only offer a humble ‘thank you.” You’re a true hero of CN.

    • What a horror! I am so sorry for you and your children. I don’t know what he is doing to keep you from telling that story (other than the “who’s going to believe it coming form me”) but that makes him that much more evil. I hope your children can find a way to come to terms with what happened to them and find a way to heal (that doesn’t require them to forgive their abuser). I am thankful that they have a sane parent in you.

      • It is theirs to tell, that’s the thing, and I totally get why they do not want to, much less to do so in a courtroom. Exact same position that rape and sexual abuse survivors are placed in every damned day.

        He would absolutely go to extremes to discredit them, and they know that. My deposition in divorce made that even more abundantly clear than it was already.

        In my state, the statute says that the clock starts ticking when the survivor realizes not only what happened, but how it harmed them. They are still working the latter part of that out, and it is not easy.

        • Cashmere,
          You are so right they go to extremes to discredit their victims. After I finally worked up the courage to tell my father that he had made our lives hell with his violence–and I said nothing about his sexual abuse of me–he ran around telling everyone in the community he could that I was an ungrateful, lying daughter, and then recounted to me their words of support to him.
          I was not able to fully process what had happened to me until he died, because while he was alive I never felt safe, even when I was living 2000 miles away from him.
          May I say, as a victim, that you, after finding out this horrific truth of what that monster did to your children, are exactly the mother I would want to have if I were one of your children.

        • You have just related a true American Horror Story. I can only hope that you and your children will heal in time from the damage your XH did. My thoughts and prayers are w/you all.

    • Wow, cashmere, I am so sorry that you and your children have endured so much. I don’t post much, but you are one of my favorite voices at CN. I have appreciated your sound advice on several threads, and I am even more impressed with your grace and strength after hearing this information.

      • What can I say that hasn’t already been said Cashmere – except I’m so desperately sorry for you and your children. May he rot in hell!

  • I find most people uncomfortable with it. Even good friends. They will ask a question about my ex and then when I start to answer, they start looking away, shifting in their seat, or they quickly change the subject.

    It has been over 3 years now and I am okay not talking about him (lots going on in my life that doesn’t have anything to do with him). So, if you don’t want to hear an answer, then don’t ask the question.

  • I recently got a message from my mom saying that my posts about the affair and the break up of my marriage and post divorce struggles were worrying my aunts as to how I’m dealing with my “situation”. It made me so mad I went off on my mom and my family. I DIDNT DO ANYTHING WRONG! I honestly think that this epidemic is just growing because we don’t talk about that. I refuse to do that. I reach out for help and prayers when I’m struggling- I explain why I’m struggling- I tell my story- I’m not ashamed because I didn’t do anything wrong. Meanwhile the ex and the howorker are now being welcomed into everyone’s fold like they didn’t just commit one of the 7deadly sins and break commandments left and right- but me saying what they did and showing what it does to the spouse the kids and life is “worrying”! So I will continue to post- I told my mom- if it bothers you or offends you- unfriend me- I don’t need people who are unsupportive and want to hide everything! I have adult cousins who still don’t know their dad cheated on their mom and left her with 4 kids and nothing to her name- and they treat their dad like he’s a king- while criticizing their mom! Nope not happening- my son knows the reality and I’m not hiding the reality from anyone!

    • iwillsurvivethis2018, my mom does the same thing. If I repost a meme on my Facebook, reflecting my healing journey, my mom will say the relatives “are questioning”…. early in my healing I didn’t care, told her to tell them whatever she wanted…

      As I have read Chump Lady and Captain Awkward, I have learned some boundaries and now, if I get one of those phone calls, I ask my mom why the relatives are so comfortable talking about me, behind my back, to her. I remind her that she should direct their questions to me. She doesnt need to answer for me.

      Also. Ex narcopath is a predator as had many women who, unfortunately are all subject to the same abuse that I endured. The first two victims, I felt the need to warn them somehow. The first, I wrote her a letter. The second, we had a mutual friend who warned her. Both of those victims are free, but I have knowledge that they checked out my Facebook. So sometimes the memes I post are for them. I refuse to warn or intervene as those are kibbles for ex, and it is not my business. But I leave clues for wandering eyes.

      Recently, I was accused by an acquaintance of being “bitter” towards men. I pondered this for many days. I am not a bitter person in general. But I do not forgive people who have harmed me and am having firm boundaries in expelling them from my life and giving them over to God. If he is working in their life then they will attempt to make amends. If not, I dont need to pause my life waiting for anything because they are currently not part of my life.

      My mother told me that this person was correct “you come across as a man hater”, but I challenged her to give me one example of a man in our lives, that we knew who would be a worthy companion. Who demonstrates character and integrity and is faithful.
      That gave her pause. She said her current husband. I said that was 1 out of 2 husbands (not my dad). Think of ALL the men we know! Ironically she did not list my brother. Or her father.
      I even asked this question to 5 coworkers and not one of them could come up with a man. Not even their current partner!

      Later, as I was kayaking and pondering this, i thought, how could i overlook, God?

      The acquaintance who made this accusation is very focused on advising people “you need to let it go and move on”, but when challenged on what exactly that looks like or the steps to take to get there…..blank stare.

  • Remember that keeping quiet is what your cheater wants. My cheater XW told me to “watch what I say to people”. Protecting her image was an expectation of me. She also told me I needed to forgive her.

    It’s all classic abuse.

    • My ex wanted to tell people that things just didn’t work out – and that if I told anyone he could get fired…. well the threat of getting fired didn’t stop him from fucking the howorker at every hotel within a 5 mile radius of his job!! The day he found out I had told everyone and I mean everyone- he said he didn’t want anything to do with me- that he only wanted to hear from me if our child was in the hospital! His image was all he cared about!!! To this day I think that’s what really pisses him off about everything- not the destruction of his child’s world or his family!!! The only reason I haven’t told their job is because I enjoy the alimony I get from his job!

    • Yes, this sounds familiar. My XW said similar things. She and her affair partner “didn’t want it to get around.” As time went by, I realized my answer was FUCK THAT! The funny thing is, when they told their workplace (the old cliche of the rich old boss fucking his relatively younger secretary; I mean, administrative assistant), I was told by someone in their large workplace that it was a major scandal. She lost her job because of it. He’s still the head honcho. Go figure.

      I hope you’re healing, Zell. All the best to you and your family. Us abandoned spouses have to stick together.

  • It goes further than masturbating in front of them honey. Much further. I know this from pure, sad and horrific experience. Much love.

  • I still kind of have a fear of saying this happened to me. It always inevitably leads to a string of questions. Almost an interrogation.

    What happened?
    How did he cheat?
    Are you sure it was really cheating?
    How do you know?
    What did you do?

    And on and on…

    Aside from the fear of the interrogations, it’s just utterly exhausting to have to explain it. And if the evidence is even slightly circumstantial? Ho boy be prepared for the enormous and oddly heavy Shadow of Doubt that will be cast over you. It’s awfully heavy for a shadow.

    It feels sometimes like once the words come out of your mouth that you were chumped, society expects you to have photographic and written proof, copied in triplicate, notarized, buried in soft peat for three weeks, and then submitted to a judge for review within a fortnight.

    God forbid your cheater find out you actually SAID they cheated. Cue the character assassination/victim complex (she was frigid/naggy/boring/depressed/didn’t wear enough makeup/wore too much makeup/cooked the wrong kind of rice/Etc) the rage (“How DARE you say that!!!”) the script-flipping (“She’s just crazy and trying to smear me because she can’t move on…”)

    Sometimes on my days when I feel less mighty I get afraid that one of my exes in particular (a very abusive person) will find out I told the truth about him and he’ll crash back into my life and destroy everything I’ve built for myself. As irrational as it is (what would he even do at this point???) I’m scared he’ll refute everything I say, call me a crazy liar and everyone will believe him.

    It’s been about 3 years (I breathe easier and easier with every year that passes and he’s behind me. I can’t believe it’s already been even this long) so there’s no real chance or reason he would do that. But it’s a latent fear still.

  • I have trained myself to stay fairly quiet about the causes of the divorce in front of my kids. My son will get angry and claim that there are two sides to every story, and I want to act totally blameless etc. I will tell him my shame is that I let it go on so long, and I let myself get really sick by staying as long as I did, and I could not support my kids emotionally like I should have due to staying.

    Family members have told me it could never happen to them. That affairs only happen if you aren’t meeting your spouse’s needs. They remain firm in this belief despite what I said. So in certain circumstances staying quiet with certain people helps US.

    Talking about being cheated on can sometimes be like talking about being raped…..you have to be careful with who you are sharing the information with. Our personal trauma background has a bearing.

  • I have a theory about that shaming of the victims of a cheater, and about a lot of these ‘let’s all be friends’ and ‘we’re still family, in some sick and twisted way’ scenarios.

    I think it’s about who has had the power, in marriages, and how that affected cheating and divorce.

    Ya see, not so long ago, in many lands where we all still live, men worked outside the home and/or both people in a married couple with kids worked outside the home, but the man made more money (because he was a man, ya know?), and controlled the finances (because he was a man, ya know?). Marriage was often a question of survival if the family was poor, and of power and $ if rich.

    So, men had more power. And political, religious and social customs supported that power.

    This meant all sorts of things; that women were responsible for the house and child care, even when both worked (or neither did because they were rich), that men were often not as close to their kids because of this (it was NOT a ‘win’ for men, either, eh?) etc etc. The wife-appliance role was the norm.
    AND divorce was hard to get, discouraged in general by the surrounding society. There was a much bigger stigma around a divorced woman than a man. (Plus, in a lot of places, a man who found out his wife was cheating could kill both her and her lover, and escape criminal consequences because it was a ‘crime of passion’. Yeah, women could claim the same, but it was ssoooo much more rare for them to do that killing, or to get away with it.)

    All this combined meant that women took more responsibility for creating and maintaining family ties. In general they put up with a lot more bad behaviour from their husbands. If they did divorce or separate, they were at a HUGE financial disadvantage unless ex-hubby was generous (still are, on average, but not quite as much), which also put their kids at a HUGE financial disadvantage.

    RESULT: Men cheated more, because they could get away with it; few to no consequences! Women cheated less often, because the consequences for them and their kids would be super high if they were caught. Women ate more shit sandwiches. And they put up w/their husband’s cheating far more often, they pretended not to know or hid it from their own social circles and kids.

    So when a husband was cheating, there was a conspiracy of silence, people didn’t tell the wife. They said it was none of their business, that maybe the wife already knew and accepted it, etc. There wasn’t an expectation of HONESTY and TRUST in marriage, because a marriage between two people who are not EQUAL, where the power within the relationship is not EQUAL, can never be a marriage based on honesty and trust.

    So when there was cheating? Couldn’t be the MAN’s fault! No way! Must be that the wife was inadequate. Or men are just like that, super-sexual beings who have to be accepted in their little side-adventures. When the man lied about it, hid it from his spouse? Well, that was to PROTECT her! After all, she’d be so much more unhappy if she knew, and it’s not like she was going to LEAVE or anything …

    So cheating was made shameful, but not for the cheater

    When there was a divorce due to cheating (often because the cheating man decided he needed the latest model wife), the cheating man (the person with power) could expect all sorts of things to go his way. Because it wasn’t his fault! Inadequate wife, clearly! And because Ex Wife needed to stay on his good side, maybe he’d be more generous financially, maybe he’d take care of his kids …. The cheating would be kept secret. The cheater’s reputation and standing in the community protected. Kids wouldn’t get told the reason for the divorce, to protect dad’s image with the kids. Chump Wife would suck it up and continue to spackle for Cheater to kids, act like all were friends, maintain those family relationships through holiday get-togethers, kid birthday parties that dad just walked into, had fun and looked good, then walked out of, etc.

    And if the cheating did come out? Well, ya can’t be shaming a MAN just for being a MAN! Let’s shame the people w/less power, that always works!

    I don’t think it was EVER better for the kids, or the family, all this faking. I think it was better for the MAN. But that didn’t sound very good, eh? And everybody knows that mom’s ONLY desire in life is to have her kids be happy, so let’s frame it as better for the kids. Makes it easier to push that shit sandwich on the women.

    Oh, and now things are changing and it’s not acceptable to say that WOMEN have to eat that huge shit sandwich buffet? Let’s say it’s all divorced people, especially parents; sounds much better.

    I know there were definitely communities and families that didn’t work this way. But these have certainly been the cultural norms. And I am SO HAPPY that CL and CN, and now more and more others, are fighting these myths!

  • Absolutely about power.

    We lived in a remote location not connected to the road system, in a small community where I would always be an outsider. He had all the power and control: the job that made $, had benefits, that the community relied upon, while I worked part-time, no benefits, barely above minimum wage -which was all I could get living in a community that did not have jobs, much less jobs in my chosen field. (He used always ask me why don’t I make more money and help him pay all these bills?) He had the financial and physical ability to go and do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, while my existence was totally predicated on what he wanted, when he wanted it. He did not share his paycheck with me, kept his own bank accounts. If I wanted anything, I had to find a way to pay for it myself, which meant I didn’t get anything. Meanwhile he bought himself all sorts of man-toys and took trips, even out of the country, without me. I stayed home and took care of everything.

    When I finally left after 19 years, not one person in the community seemed to care a fig about me and what this man had done to our family. And yes, they were aware of his drinking, his drugging, his infidelity. Didn’t matter. I abandoned him. He is the victim. I was silent because screaming the truth would have been an absolute waste of energy and to my own detriment. And the really sad part, was this place has several hostage families like that. The guys got it good, while the girls stay home, take care of the kids, and take all the shit.

  • I had my name reverted back to my maiden name as part of my dissolution. As soon as the gavel dropped, I no longer had fuckwit’s last name dragging me down. Of course, getting the rest of the world up to speed with this change will take some time. When I was at the Social Security office updating my records I of course had to show them my dissolution decree. The kind older woman expressed sympathy that I went through a divorce. I thanked her, but told her in a regular tone of voice (no whispering, I didn’t care if everyone heard me) that my ex had cheated on me, and not only that, the joke was on him because the woman he was going to leave me for turned out to be a scammer, so he ended up alone anyway. I laughed about him approaching 50 and thinking he’s Don Juan. She had lost her husband of many years, and told me she felt lucky to have had him, but she also made it clear to me that she thought I was better off without my POS ex. I walked out with my held high. I also told our mutual primary care physician when I went for my physical recently. She inquired about the name change, and I made no bones about what happened. Before I left, she said, “You’re 51, you are still young and have a lot of good years left in you. You can make a new life and be happy, your life isn’t over.” By telling my story I publicly shame cheaters in general, and I always have a little spring in my step afterwards. I’m just a bitch that way. 😉

    • Loves! Oddly enough I had my own moment of admission at the SS office during the name change. The friendly SS worker and I had chatted a bit while he was shuffling papers around, just regular stuff about what I do for a living, etc. Then he asked my why I was changing my name and I blurted out “divorce…he cheated on me and then decided he didn’t want to be married anymore after 20 years together.” The worker guy shook his head and was all “well that guy made a very stupid decision.” Yes, yes he did Mr. Nice SS Worker. Thank you for that!

      • When my cheating ex wife and I settled our divorce it included her signing a quit claim on the house deed and cash out for her. She had the first appointment at the title company to sign papers. I came later but had the same employee. Somehow the divorce came up and she asked me about it. I told her my ex had been a serial marital and financial cheater. Her jaw dropped a bit. “That is definitely not the story she told me. I had a feeling, so that is why I asked you an unprofessional question. I apologize.” The title company held up her fund transfer until they went back and verified everything. She of course told our adult kids I cheated her, despite the fact she had her own attorney. When my kids relayed this to me I asked them if they wanted to hear the parts of the story she had left out? “No Dad. We have seen enough.”

    • Pepe Le Pew,

      If you’re a bitch, then I guess I’m a dick, because I do the same thing regarding my FW XW. My primary physician knows all about it, as I went to him soon after D-day to find I was indeed battling diabetes as well as depression when she left me for her boss (see my post above to find out what happened to her job as a result). At my last checkup, I told my physician how my two older daughters told me they can’t stand her AP (that she now lives with in a condo an eighth of a mile behind the house I bought her out of). He told me every little victory counts, right? They sure as hell do.

      As for keeping quiet? I was in shock after it happened, and our children expressed the desire for me to not make this public, as they felt they would be embarrassed, so I kept relatively quiet. As time went on, I realized I could be much more vocal about it and still not embarrass my children, so I was and I am.

      This definitely started after the two months post D-day where I was making a great effort to try and get her to reconcile w/me. After all, this was the love of my life and the woman I had pledged to love for better or worse, sicker or poorer, ’till death did us part! Even then, it wasn’t until six months after she left me and our family that I really started to realize keeping quiet only benefited her and her AP. No more!

      All the best to you and your family. Stay strong, and I hope you heal well, and live well to get the revenge you deserve. And keep being a bitch about the affair. It’s your absolute right for something like this. Hopefully, we’ll both get to meh by Tuesday, right?

  • I wonder if the response to “I was chumped” is cultural, here are two different instances:

    Mom told me a church doesn’t know how to deal with a divorced woman. That’s right, except to distance themselves from ya: maybe it’s contagious, or maybe you want her man.

    I teach in an urban school, lots of diversity (only a handful of white kiddos). Students eventually want to know if you’re married, “I was, but he was a bad man, and I told him to ‘hit the road, Jack’.” I loved their responses, “Oooooo!” And an admiring look of “what a badass teacher is”, then laughter.

  • Reframing “cheating” (tee hee!) as “abuse” (i.e., what it really is) is brilliant. While I will never understand what happened to me, recharacterizing “cheating” as “abuse” just gave me some understanding about one of the biggest mysteries about my wife’s cheating — why didn’t she feel sorry? Why didn’t she cry like many of the cheaters in the movies when I discovered she had cheated on me for over a year and had blown up our family? Where was the remorse?

    It’s because she’s an abuser, and abusers don’t feel sorry about their actions.

    I wish we could come up with a new term for “cheating” to help the non-chumped better understand it for what it really is.

    • Well put @BeardBoy — I also didn’t get any remorse from cheating STBXW, in fact she arrogantly used the phrase “I don’t regret it” several times to my face

      You and CN are absolutely correct — cheating is simply abuse and abusers are disordered entities who feel nothing about the consequences of their actions unless it directly affects them (which is when we get the Sadz) — also yes, I love the line from CL about how infidelity is not about sex or not about having ‘needs’ met or not being able to deal with monogamy but simply about having power, control and being able to manipulate (and therefore abuse) another, especially one who has given their all to the cheater and shown their vulnerability.

      Another term for “cheating”? I think “abuse” is all we need to say. My practiced phrase if I ever have to use it is this:

      “Infidelity is abuse. It’s psychological abuse. It’s emotional abuse. It’s often physical abuse. And in many cases it’s also financial abuse.”

      And for the Esther Perel et al disciples out there, I just thought of this one for monogamy:

      “Monogamy is all about giving trust and showing respect for your partner.”

      • Outfromtheshadows,

        Thanks for your ‘practiced phrases’. I struggle to find appropriate words to express things to people sometimes and end up feeling frustrated.

        What you have said is clear and concise vs being derogatory which, I find turns, people off to what is being said. I am educating myself to all of what has happened to me and at the same time I want to educate others to all of this stuff in a way that may offer them clarity in order to help someone they may know. I seek not to offend. Now I have the words to use.

        Thank you again for sharing.

  • I am a chump… at least 2 affairs, physically and financially abused. I went to police after I got the courage up to finally report domestic abuse. My STBX was arrested. Went to family court for hearing and the marital master dismissed DV case stating conflicting stories. Of course there were conflicting stories….. the truth ( he was arrested and the police took pictures of bruises in my arm) and his story- “ I have never touched her in 27 years of marriage. My restraining order was reduced to a marital restraining order. I was advised by prosecutor in criminal case to offer deal- anger management course- because DV case was dropped by family court and he would probably get that sentence if found guilty anyway. I also filed fraud report with police. Although the grand jury ordered subpoenas for credit card records and taxes from IRS that my ex signed my name to the case was closed. The credit card companies and IRS never sent records requested.
    I finally got the courage to speak up…… didn’t get me anywhere. He still walks unscathed. No justice. I was torn to pieces on the stand by his criminal attorney…..
    regardless of my outcome- he was arrested he has to go to anger management and I spoke my truth. It forced me to go no contact. For this I am grateful.

  • Power and abuse have always gone hand in hand in human culture. Power is the reason for the secrecy. As long as any form of abuse goes on “underground” and unacknowledged, the truth about our relationships and social structures goes on unchallenged, and the powerful stay in charge.

    Abuse, sexual and otherwise, continues under a guise of “normalcy” and our very social structure would be in chaos if everyone told the truth about what really happens. I heard a statistic that one in every four (maybe three?) women has been abused in some way by someone in a familial or “trusted” position in her life. I wonder what the number is for men? I also wonder how inaccurate that number is, because how many more remain silent? The point is that we cannot trust anyone, whether they are related, a “friend”, or anyone in an employer or educational, or church environment to actually BE trustworthy just because they hold a position of “trust.” The world is full of powerful predators. This may sound paranoid, but I truly believe what has been reported so far in the me too movement is only the tip of the ice-burg. Add the cheater stories you now know. Add the atrocities in the church that we actually know about. Think about the teachers who have been exposed having sex with students.

    I would like to be convinced I am just being paranoid. The world would appear much better if I were just paranoid. However, from where I sit and watch, and based on my personal experience, what I know is that most of our social structures and power positions are rotten to the core. Sadly, I don’t know what to do about it. I just believe you have to speak your truth, and refuse to be silenced. That is the only way any of it will ever be changed.

  • I was a chump. I spackled over my Ex Cheater’s infidelities for years. I finally spoke up and found my way through the fog of his lies and gaslighting. He cheated with multiple women I am fully aware of the fact that I only know the tip of the iceberg and will never know about all the rest of his infidelities and lies and I am fine with it. We are divorcing now and he is telling our teens, who recently figured out that he was cheating – which happens when you bring the new Shmoopie around 5 mins after mom moves out – that I had an affair as well. They are upset and confused. But I have told them to look at their dad’s behavior: she is a married woman (husband in another country), they are together day and night, he tells the kids and me that they are just “friends” and yet they go up to his room to “take naps” together. My teens don’t buy it for a second. I told them that people who cheat can’t be honest or take responsibility for their actions and they see this happening with their dad. Recently, when son confronted him about the cheating he lashed out and scared my son so badly that he called the police on his dad. Son refuses to see his dad right now because he knows his dad is crazy and unhinged. Cheater Ex will maintain that I, too, had an affair until the day he dies because he is incapable of taking responsibility for his actions and apologizing in an authentic way. I feel for my kids but am glad they are seeing who he truly is.
    I’m a recovering Chump and I’m not ashamed of that. I’ve told all my good friends and family the truth about why we I left him. I am learning how to stand up for myself and how to set boundaries now. And I am teaching my kids to believe what they see and not what people tell them.

  • So timely. I was in the shower this morning thinking about exactly this. I realise it’s actually worthwhile to get your narrative out. Don’t be ashamed. Speak your truth.
    This goes for telling kids. My kids actually are wanting me to stuff my anger or disapproval while I’ve been am open ear to them. So I told them no if you get to relieve yourself so do I and I won’t be carry with it but I let you think that my feelings have merit as well.
    Chumps need to speak up.
    The only people who benefit from our silence is those who do wrong. It’s a form of victim shaming.

  • A long time ago, when I found out that I couldn’t have children (recurrent miscarriage), I decided to own it when people asked me, “Oh, you don’t have children? Why ever not?” My go-to response became, “Oh, at one point I wanted to, but I couldn’t.” *gesture in a circular motion to my boob/belly area* “Turns out all this is decorative, not functional. Who knew?” Most people either look alarmed and go away quickly, or get where I’m coming from and stay to chat about their own infertility experiences, or to move on to other topics. It certainly weeds out the faint of heart.

    I’m working on a similar approach regarding my unattachedness now. If I mention the ex, and anyone asks what happened, I say, “Oh Fuckup? I found out he was cheating on me.” *pause with an expression of mild distaste on my face and wait for the recoil or the look of recognition on theirs* “And, to make a long story short, that was the end of that.” It’s the truth in a nutshell. If there is reason to, I can expand. If not, there’s enough finality to the statement to let the conversation move on to other things.

    • Oops, I meant to write “if someone mentions the ex or asks what happened.” I rarely bring him up with people who don’t know the story already.

  • My answer to the average Joe/Jane in the world
    who issues a pass for infidelity (but weirdly enough would agree that lying, murder, domestic violence, embezzlement, fraud, etc are wrong…..)

    INFIDELITY IS WRONG. Period.

    Esther Repel is making a boatload of cash selling printed bullshit in book form explaining WHY people cheat? And because they cheat and always have and so many do that maybe it is OK and our feelings about it are wrong? Well, my book would be one sentence long:

    CHEATING IS WRONG.

    Or, THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.

    Most people don’t argue about the other commandments being OK….why THAT is is a study I’d like to read.

    I don’t care why people shoplift, embezzle, murder, lie, steal, abuse, destroy. It doesn’t matter. People have done wrong since the beginning of human history, and will continue to do so. It doesn’t matter why. And offering explanations for offenses doesn’t make them OK.
    Just because hordes of people do it doesn’t mean it’s OK. It would be fun to play Mad Libs with Esther’s books and replace the infidelity terms with “murder”, “murderer”, “thief” “crime”, “abuse” etc. Then it would be really easy to see how outrageous her logic and theories are. I actually hate the word “affair” because it has this breezy, carefree euphemistic ring to it. Which I think contributes to the inaccurate perception.

    ALL ANYONE NEEDS TO KNOW IS THAT IT’S WRONG.

    Equally absurd is the logic that LOVE justifies cheating?!!

    Sweet smoking Jesus.

    How freaking unclear on the concept can you get?

    • I’ve said this before but I really think willful betrayal (like cheating) is one of those rare black-and-white morality calls. Either you betrayed someone when you DID NOT HAVE TO or you didn’t.

      Even murder has more gray–was it in self defense? Did you make a mistake in identity?

      You can’t claim self defense with cheating. And I’ve never heard extenuating circumstances that make cheating ok. “My wife is sickly and bedridden”…OK, divorce her OR care for her and be loyal OR tell her that you are going to sleep with other women FIRST and give her a chance to divorce you. “My ex boyfriend came back into the picture and I instantly fell in love again.” OK, divorce your spouse OR tell them you are going to be with your ex and let them divorce you OR just, don’t, and honor your commitment and find ways to reconnect with your spouse.

      • I so agree. I don’t understand why people think there are gray areas with cheating. I’ve even had conversations with family members who thought cheating was okay under some circumstances. Not long conversations because I won’t entertain any reasons. Here are the justifications-reasons I’ve heard and my replies:

        What if the husband beats his wife? “Yes, let’s bring a third party into that mess who could get hurt. Leave the abuser, do an overhaul to your picker, get some therapy, and then think about getting a boyfriend.”

        What if the wife refuses to have sex with the husband? “Well then there are some adult conversations that need to happen and if there are no medical problems and she just isn’t into it, then you honestly divorce her. Of course I would say that it shouldn’t be that easy. There is probably something going on that needs to be explored but maybe the sexual appetites are truly different.

        Bottom line: In America anyway, it is shockingly easy to procure a hasty divorce. I guess sometimes you have to wait out a year of separation but most of the time that’s extreme. There is no reason/excuse for cheating. EVER!

      • NotANiceChump,

        I’m pretty sure it’s been discussed here before, but how about the ones who’s spouse gets early dementia of some type, and the other spouse has them cared for in a home of some type, but then sees that as their hall pass to start a relationship or just fuck around w/another person? The spouse being cheated on doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand what the spouse is doing, or if they would they like a divorce.

        This was the case w/one of the XW’s “friends”, a college president who’s wife got early dementia, so he took up w/another woman and shipped her off to a facility in Florida (we’re in upper New England). The XW didn’t say anything when I expressed my distaste for this behavior (I’m being polite). That should have been a warning sign to me.

    • Velvet Hammer,

      I like your arguments. I also like “Sweet smoking Jesus!”

      Keep on being Mighty, and my best wishes to you and yours. May we all heal from these nightmares and these horrible people.

  • When Betty Ford announced she was an alcoholic – the country really sat up and took notice. Alcoholism suddenly wasn’t something that “those people” suffered. It affected white, wealthy, privileged women too.

    Ditto for the lid being blown off of spousal abuse, domestic violence, AIDS/HIV, breast cancer, etc.

    Someone talked about it. Sadly, it was largely overlooked until someone from the privileged (white) classes brought it up – but it finally went mainstream.

    I think that the concept of infidelity as ABUSE and akin to beating someone up will eventually catch on. After all, we’re finally coming around to the idea that words CAN harm people. Cyber bullying leading to suicide, etc.

    So why can’t infidelity and chumping a spouse be categorized as abuse? It is, it can be but it will (sadly) take time. The more people who openly discuss it, or support someone who is going through it, the sooner it will be recognized as more than “just” a moment of losing control of oneself.

    That those actions are HARMFUL and no one who was chumped deserves one MOMENT of blame for the actions of another person. Not a bit!

    I don’t think I’m wording this terribly well, but I think Tracy terming it as being CHUMPED and laying out the parallels to other forms of abuse of an intimate has been making inroads and will continue to do so. Not fast enough, but it will happen.

    Thank again, CL.

  • My ex did not want me to tell anyone about skankella. He was highly upset when I told our children. The ironic part was that he told his parents that I was stealing money from him. They believed him and let his stash cash in their safe. We tried to work on the marriage. All he kept telling me is that it is no ones business what went on in our marriage. There was no need to tell anyone about his friendship with skankella. Because people love to spread rumors. I reminded him that it was not my job to protect his reputation. He should have thought about his reputation when he chose to cheat. I tell anyone who asks why our marriage ended. Funny how these fuckwits do not give a dam that they cheat. But, when they get caught they expect the chump to protect their reputation.

  • I definitely speak my truth but I don’t shout it from the roof tops, mainly cause I’m a private person. But, when directly discussing the demise of my marriage with a genuinely interested/thoughtful person (I won’t waste time having these conversation with someone who has an alternative agenda), I feel very free to mention his cheating. I try to keep things neutral without much emotional commentary and just basically say, “yea, it was unacceptable and our marriage just couldn’t be saved.” I save the more interesting commentary for my ‘inner circle’ people.

    Of course, my ex in no way acknowledges what he did as cheating (just a couple “mistakes”) and firmly believes that our marriage ended cause either we grew apart OR I changed by trying to improve my education and career. Either way…not his fault.

    I find telling people is a good litmus test when determining who I let into my life or who I must extricate from my life. Any person who is anything less than understanding and compassionate when hearing my story is GONE, in some form or another.

  • I was told by a family member that I needed to stop airing my dirty laundry after I explained to people why I wasn’t with my ex anymore. When I asked her why being betrayed was dirty laundry, she hissed back at me “my God, don’t you have ANY shame?”. The women in the family said that I did something wrong because happy men don’t stray. And if I didn’t have the grace to forgive I never truly loved him anyway and he deserved better than that. They’ve always been quick to shame and blame though.

    • I am currently fantasizing about getting in all of their faces and telling them what a load of shit they are trying to drop in your lap. Good grief, sharing DNA is no guarantee of loyalty and honor!! I’m sorry your family is so unsupportive. Hopefully CL and CN can help make up for that!

    • Fuck them. Let them have it happen to them, and see how they feel. I’m so sorry you had (have?) to deal w/that. Remember that you are a good person, and they are just fuckwits.

  • Adultery has become nothingness and consequently marriage has been devalued. So there is no recourse for chumps. Not culturally, not legally.

    In the 70’s when I was little my mother, an honorable person, started being looked down upon by the left leaning feminists (the new upcoming culture) because she was a stay at home mother and liked it. They were unforgiving towards this serious lady who was dedicated to her children and work in the house.
    Those were the days when one income was enough for a family.
    A left leaning feminist literally infiltrated herself into the family. My father went for it. All was lost.
    That was the end for us. My father going laterally (having other children), that, and more, done secretely , caused our demise. We never recovered. In health, financially, etc., etc., etc.
    I will never forget the contempt the people of that new up and coming culture had for my mother.

    Fast forward, I married a man (purportedly of traditional views on marriage) that abandoned me – younger woman with more resources.

    I miss the protection of the masculine element that has integrity, which I remember in my grandfathers.
    My father did not have that. He had been completely steemrolled by his narcissistic mother.
    My ex husband did not have that. Intergenerational abuse.

    Up and down the generations, the never-ending chain of betrayed children.

    • I don’t think you can call yourself a feminist if you encourage a man to disrespect and abuse his wife. How does that empower women?

      • People w/shitty character can and have called themselves many things over the centuries. Their actions prove otherwise.

  • My exhusband admitted he was having an affair, left our family home, came back 7 hrs later to say he made a mistake and we went right into counseling. He had a herpe outbreak 1 month later. I wanted out at that point but he promised and promised how sorry he was that he didnt want to hurt his family. So I stayed knowing very well the chances. He was still sleeping with her the entire time and left 2 months later. I had my first outbreak 3 weeks after he left. The shame and embarrassment of it still bothers me. It can make you feel like a utter fool. He recently told our daughter who is 19 that I am cold to him. Why because I don’t want to be friends or have absolutely nothing to do with him. I wish I could tell everyone who wonders why can’t you just move on.

    • Foolish Chump – why don’t you tell them the truth when they ask why you can’t move on. You’re not his PR person and it’s not your shame to bear. Hugs to you.

        • Kale I did bring it up in mediation to ask for to pay for my medication because I was a stay at home mom for 17 years and no insurance. My ex claimed he did not have it and he has no idea how I got it. I never felt so betrayed and we were already a year into the divorce process and at that point I was just ready for it to be done.

          • You can subpoena his medical records. Je should absolutely pay for medication and I’d write in a clause about paying for any reoccurrence or complications too.
            So sorry.

          • Yes – I agree – even if the divorce is done – you can see if you can re-open this one issue. What a shite he is. Also, I hope you got a good alimony etc. from the divorce for being a stay at home mom.

          • I agree with Kale, he’s a shite, and he always will be, but at least he’s no longer yours to deal with.

    • In my state you can sue someone for giving you an STD (and maybe even a criminal charge) under several theories–negligence, battery, fraud. You can get your medical bills covered and money for emotional distress. If my ex had given me an STD, I would for sure sue (or at least threaten to sue and maybe go so far as to have a lawyer send a legal letter). In some cases, you don’t even need to get the STD, you just to have been exposed to it. And you don’t need his admission, you can subpoena his medical records to show when get got the STD.

      Sometimes you just gotta take a stand

      • Agree with Notanicechump. Ultimately, foolishchump you have to do what you are able to do emotionally in terms of fighting. But sometimes, starting the fight will give you the strength. Re: your kiddos – how old are they and do you know that they would rather be protected than have the truth out there? Again, you have to do what feels right to you and what you are able. Whatever you decide, I wish all good things in life going forward.

    • I understand the shame and embarrassment; I’ve been where you are, so I’ll offer you this…

      We all make “foolish” mistakes, and sometimes they have lasting consequences. I’ve carried my consequences for 30 years, and I’m here to tell you that life goes on – it gets easier! Try not to let the STIGMA get you down. That’s easier said than done, I know, so here’s something to ponder: at least half the people you pass on the street are HSV1/HSV2 positive. It is VERY pervasive. Fact is, it’s little more than a minor skin irritation that pops up once or twice a year, at the most, and sometimes it occurs only once, never to be seen again. If you’ve ever had a cold sore, you’re HSV1 positive, period (frankly, I’d rather have type 2; you can’t see it). Yet, the stigma continues, perpetuated by peoples’ ignorance and fueled by pop culture. Here’s another way of looking at it; if one trusts the accuracy of the Medical Assoc and CDC derived statistics, roughly half of CN is HSV positive, whether they realize/accept it or not. Many folks are simply “carriers”; i.e. they show no symptoms but can infect others, who, in turn, also show no symptoms.) You’re in good company. It’s a harder to see it in a bad light when it impacts so many people you know, not to mention it’s easier to cope with when you realize that you are VERY far from alone.

      For the record, I don’t think you’re all that “foolish”. You’re quite normal, in fact. 🙂

    • Foolish Chump,

      Good God. What a piece of shit XH. I say that knowing my piece of shit XW felt that since she committed multiple acts of sex w/a married man of 40 yrs while continuing to be intimate w/me, I shouldn’t get worried about anything sexual health-wise, because the fact he’s been married so long means he’s totally safe, right? I don’t think so, fuckwit. (He’d been married for 40 yrs. That wasn’t his age, just to be clear. He was 65 yo and she was 49 yo).

      I made sure to get myself tested for everything, and I made sure she knew it too, and that when we had to apply for Medicaid together since she lost her job over the affair, I made sure the guy taking down our info knew as well. She didn’t like that. Tough shit was what I was thinking.

      Anyway, I’m so sorry you had to deal w/that. I’m sending a ton of hugs your way.

  • I have been and continue to be very transparent about what happened to me. I have told every family member I have told every friend. the result has been that he has been isolated to a great extent. I feel really strongly that our deepest secrets make us sick which is a phrase from recovery programs. The more you Journal about Problems, the more you share With People you trust, The faster you heal. I think it’s really important to be open About things that are so toxic And so detrimental to your health. At least that works for me. I’ve had a lot of Interesting Comments about that. some people think that I shouldn’t be so open about my feelings and my experiences. I don’t feel shame about my past,I don’t feel shame about my recovery. I think it’s an important part of my recovery from betrayal. and if that makes somebody uncomfortable that’s really their problem and I’m perfectly happy to not share with them. hugs to my my fellow chumps

    • I think the love people had for Princess Diana had to do with the fact that she was so forthcoming with personal struggles….and I am sure she helped many many people with that openness.
      The whole newspaper-reading, television-watching world knew she was being cheated on….we all know about Maria Shriver’s infidelity tribulations with Arnold Schwarzenegger….and in my own case I have only helped or been helped by talking about what is really going on. If we all were honest and open, maybe we would all help each other heal from awful things, and maybe people who cheat would think twice knowing their victims wouldn’t keep their dirty secrets?

  • I mostly don’t because of the stigma that comes with it and to protect my kiddos because we live in a small town. It would spread like wildfire.

    • FC, why do you feel it’s better to keep this a secret? There’s a stigma as long as we consent to hiding it, as if it were our shame. And it’s not as if you’ll be the only one in your small town who was ever cheated on!

      Your kids should definitely know why you and their dad aren’t together anymore. They can be told in an age-appropriate, factual and calm way. Better that they find out from you than later from rumours or their own analysis. Someone needs to be honest with them.

    • FC, I agree with KarenE, honesty is the best policy (in an age appropriate manner, of course), but I’ll add that timing is everything; circumstances can influence when the disclosure is made, and THAT is best decided by you.

      For example, I’m roughly 18 mos out from the initial discard. My college-age daughter does not know the details. My XW originally told her “we grew apart”, which I subsequently corrected, advising my daughter that her Mom left; it was not a mutual decision. That is all I have disclosed thus far. Why? Because the past year has been exceedingly difficult for my daughter, for reasons that extend beyond the divorce. Telling her the truth, at this tenuous juncture, would be detrimental to her. One day, though, when she is stronger/older, she will hear the truth.

  • He had at least 11 APs.

    I tell.

    I tell everyone. I even tell people I just meet.

    He has been ostracized by his own family, my family, my co-workers, our friends and acquaintances from our mutually shared hobby.

    He’s all alone with one of the APs who stuck it out for 4 years.

    Take no prisoners. I’m truthful. And every single person I tell, tells me they are #TeamMe.

    I say out them all.

  • If I tell people it’s because of his porn addiction, too many of them will think porn is normal and I’m the problem. Many will assume I’m sex-negative, frigid, or otherwise messed up. Others will assume I was doing weird stuff with him or for him.

    There’s no way I can win if I explain it. I just say he broke our vows.

  • It is not our shame to carry. I hand my shame back to the appropriate person-the cheater/abuser/bomb thrower.

  • Ladies I wanted to take him to court which the lawyer said I had a solid case I was just emotionally done. Our daughter who was 13 at the time took it the hardest. She had tried to take her life and can you believe her own dad didnt even show up to hospital because he was 3 hrs away at a resort. After the judge heard everything he gave all 3 of my children a choice to see their dad after he talked to them. My kids made the judge cry. They were 9, 13, and 16. I know the judge saw thru him and my ex even stated that the judge was to close to the case. At that point I was drained. So I walked away with all the 401k, child support and everything we acquired in 20 yrs. It will be 4 yrs in March. So I can at least be comfortable with you guys and state I am a chump who contracted herpes from my douche ex.

    • FC – Huzzah!! Well done. You sound like a strong person and a good mother.
      Also, hat tip for the brave disclosure. Don’t let it slow you down; it’s an overblown stigma and of little substance. How do I know this? HSV2 for 30+ yrs. Life goes on!

  • Yes I’ll talk about it, because you and CN have given me the courage, the words and the snark to enable me too.

  • I just announced my impending divorce on facebook. I said exactly why it was happening–STBX had multiple affairs over multiple years. Everyone was supportive of me. I only got one “why did you share your dirty laundry” post and STBX’s close friend from high school messaged me to say I was the best thing to ever happen to STBX and he was so furious with him.

    I’m done hiding his bad behavior.

    Of course, when I told my landlady that I needed to move somewhere cheaper she asked me to try to convince my husband to take me back. Uhhhh, no.

  • The Chump Revolution

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, as Chumps we need to get militant about infidelity.

    #MeToo is just one of many movements throughout human history where enough people (a critical mass) have decided that enough is enough, they won’t stay silent any longer and that they needed to make their voices heard (and often have required to give their lives too); e.g. universal suffrage, abolition of slavery, human rights, gay rights. Go back in time and items such as the Magna Carta or the replacement of absolute monarchs with democratic governments have required many people to stand together, not ignore abuse and to force through changes.

    We need to do the same with infidelity. As CL wrote above, it’s not in our nature to talk about it and often others just want to ignore this issue. But we have to, otherwise this abuse of power will continue unabated. A Cheater needs to be treated with contempt and disdain by the majority and not as some sort of hero as many are today. And we the Chumps become the heroes for standing up to our abusers and leaving them.

    One change would be to classify infidelity as abuse within the legal system.

    I’ll get down off my soap-box now…

  • Ick, I ill-advisedly looked at Tammy Nelson’s website.

    Surprise! She’s written a book entitled “when you’re the one who cheats”. Vomit inducing blurb below:

    “The cheater finally has a voice in this new book by Dr. Tammy Nelson. Learn why people cheat. Find out what to do about the affair. Decide when and if to tell your spouse”.

    This charlatan has a vested interest in keeping chumps down. Screw her.

  • I really do hope that one day, there will be a big wave of Chumped stories that just crash over our society like an avalanche. It needs to happen. 100% agree with CL that cheating is abuse, and I think it causes untold misery, trauma, and financial hardship for so many chumps out there. Including me.

    This is how chumpy I am…I got chumped super hard, and found this site, the book, and fellow chumps. Then, I found a guy I thought was so sensitive, and would never dream of hurting me, lying to, or cheating. So, I moved to another state to be with him. Within 6 months after I did, guess what? I found out he was a cheater, a freeloader, and a narcissist, and enjoys emotionally preying on women who have been abused, all under the guise of being Mr Woke Feminist. I allowed him exactly one month because he begged for another chance, and when I saw the Fake Naugahyde Remorse for what it was, I got the hell out of there and went No Contact.

    So….I’m back! I want to own up to avoiding this board when I met Mr Woke Feminist because I was in denial. There were red flags I didn’t want to really look at, I wanted the fairy tale ending so badly. BUT! I have Chump Nation to thank because I wasted less than 2 years with this cheater, and moved out 6 months after relocating to another state and knowing next to no one, because I’m actually pretty mighty. It didn’t break me, and you know what? He hasn’t been that hard to get over. I just saw it for what it was, plain as day, and I got ANGRY instead of blaming myself. I really credit Chump Nation for my ability to summon all that.

    Still working on my picker tho….

  • K

    Yeah to you.

    Thanks for sharing. We all do make mistakes and that doesn’t mean we are mistakes.

  • I’ve reported every single instance since I was 14. I’ve been fire 4 times for it. Don’t know how much better it is but since my XH never “believed me” I know who he really is. 99% is right. Epidemic.

  • I’ve reported every single instance since I was 14. I’ve been fire 4 times for it. Don’t know how much better it is but since my XH never “believed me” I know who he really is. 99% is right. Epidemic.

  • yea…i heard the forgive and forget bs from others when my chump status happened and it didn’t resonate. 16 years of what the hell is going on….finally became clear. it wasn’t me–he had a secret life. i broadcast widely that he had a second family while with me…his family and my family knew. he made our son not say anything to me. i told the tool that if he ever hurt my son again in this life time, it was not a threat but a promise that he would hear from me. yep…he said i am mentally ill and that his why he did what he did. i am mentally fine but was emotionally raw, financially kicked and physically exhausted. my “mental” took the wheel away from my heart and drove us out of the bs. my son and i are healed and life moved on…it has been 2 years since i found out. meh is not forgive and forget. meh is who gives a shit. the best revenge is success and consistency. all the judgement of others in the past has faded…they see he is a tool. keep strong.

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