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Dear Chump Lady, I’m angry with myself for not leaving sooner

Dear Chump Lady.

I recently read your book, and it’s helped me a lot to not contact my ex-boyfriend (which had previously been very difficult), and to fully acknowledge his bullshit answers on evidence that never made sense.

I first (yes, first…) discovered his cheating about three years ago. It came with the baggage of gaslighting and blameshifting that made me question my actions and sanity, and feel horrible about myself.

There were a handful of instances that I’m aware of. He only admits to one of them, however, because it was the only one where I had evidence he 100% without a doubt cheated — he gave me an STD that he still insists was caught from a dirty toilet at work. (Luckily, it was an easily cleared STD).

Yet, there was a lot of good in our relationship that I miss all the time. The love, fun, companionship, emotional support (I know, that’s in contrast to what I wrote above). And, yes, I was addicted to our great chemistry — not just sex, but the way our personalities clicked and we enjoyed each other’s company.

My question is this. I’ve lately been more upset with myself than him. Upset with myself for staying as a “knowing, passive chump.” The first time I was blindsided, but then I spent three years working on our relationship despite the knowledge, pain, and lack of trust this was causing me.

I painfully kept everything a secret, and only told a few people and my counselor. Now I am single again, middle-aged, and he has moved on with his reputation intact with his friends and whoever else he meets. I should have walked away three years ago (or 2 or 1.5…) with my head held high, calling him a bastard, telling my friends and family, and knowing that what he did to me — including the gaslighting and blameshifting — was very wrong.

I’m so angry at myself for not being a stronger, more confident person with how I handled this. I’ve even told him a few times that if my self-esteem was higher and my upbringing more positive, I probably would have left right away. He actually seemed to understand and acknowledge that. (We have a strange dynamic of being loving and supportive on a lot of stuff while all this was going on in the background).

Your book (which I love, btw) discusses reaching “Tuesday” when the pain stops. What are good ways to reach Tuesday and no longer feel pain over my own passive chump behavior? I’m so angry at myself for not being stronger, more confident, and leaving him sooner. His actions may have chipped away at my self-worth, but so have my own.

Sincerely,

Regretful Chump

Dear Regretful Chump,

Hey, don’t feel so bad. At least you’re untangling the right skein of fuckupedness — your own. So many questions here focus on “Why did the cheater do this to me?!” (I don’t know. Bad character. Entitlement. Bats?) When the better questions is “Why did I accept this shit?”

That’s a harder one to answer, but it’s really important work. Helps you shore up your defenses, examine your vulnerabilities, and do an internal chump audit.

Answering these sorts of I’m-kicking-myself questions is difficult, because I never want to traffic in chump blame. Intimacy makes us vulnerable — it is the very act of taking our defenses down. But we can pull the drawbridge back up when our boundaries are attacked. There’s always some risk to loving someone, but you must love yourself more and not tolerate abuse.

So let’s look at some reasons for staying with cheaters after discovery. First I’ll outline the why’s, and next the antidotes to the chump condition.

1.) You only have so many tools in your toolkit. How we respond to adversity is pretty seat-of-the-pants decision making. This crap broadsides you. So we reach for the tools in our life toolkits that worked before.

For example, when I got chumped I went with two tried-and-tested Tracy tools — I studied the hell out it — and I tried harder.

These are not bad tools. In fact, they’re great tools if you’re trying to finish a masters dissertation in Southern African history. However, they’re terrible tools when dealing with a sociopath. It’s like being armed with a wine opener when you should’ve had a ballistic missile system. (Actually, the all-purpose tool here is RUN! RUN AWAY!)

Which brings me to Fight or Flee. Those are tools. There’s also Freeze and Fawn (stayed paralyzed in indecision, or suck up and pick-me-dance.) If you want to do a deep dive into co-dependency stuff, read about the Four Fs.

Your tools are not necessarily pathological. They work in a lot of other healthy situations, but when you’re in an unhealthy situation, don’t arm yourself with a cork screw, okay?

2.) You had sunk costs. You enjoyed this guy, or whatever it was he was projecting and you were attracted to him, and you invested deeply in a dream of a future with him. It’s easy to let sunk costs blind us. (MUST KEEP INVESTING UNTIL I TANK THE ECONOMY!)

Bad guys aren’t always bad. They have hooks. No one wants to date an ogre. They want an ogre with aftershave and witty banter. But when you’re seeing deeply bad stuff (he cheats, he gives you an STD, he mindfucks you) — realize that witty ogre is a package deal with bad guy ogre. Figure out what your values are. If you just want a plus-one who smells good, this won’t hurt. If you want a life partner, it will hurt.

3.) You were afraid. Who are you without a plus-one? Do you matter?

Now I am single again, middle-aged, and he has moved on with his reputation intact with his friends and whoever else he meets.

Yeah and so? There’s nothing wrong with being single or middle-aged. And YOU moved on with your reputation intact. You didn’t cheat. No reason to keep his secret now is there? Forget about how he presents himself — how are YOU presenting yourself?

Never need someone THAT bad that you’ll trade away your values.

4.) He mindfucked you. Of course, it’s hard to stay true to your values when you stick your head in the mindfuck blender. The whole point of which is to make you question yourself, erode your values, and let the freak keep extracting value from you.

5.) Our culture doesn’t support chumpdom. Nearly every single resource out there on infidelity, except this one, encourages reconciliation with cheaters. Therapists do this (hello Reconciliation Industrial Complex), rom-coms do this (steamy affairs! edgy! chumps? controlling shrews who deserve their fate), Disney fairytales do this, (if I kiss an ogre, the rose in the glass won’t wither and he’ll turn into a prince!)….

OMG so much bullshit. And then there is the Esther Perel Industrial Complex (affairs are just exuberant acts of defiance!) No wonder the experience is shrouded in shame. You’re the dullard who wasn’t Meeting Their Needs. And he’s the Sexy Beast grabbing all the Happy with gusto.

Don’t despair, chumps. We’ve got antidotes:

1.) Learn new tools. You know why my book helped you? Because you learned a couple new tools for your tool kit — like giving yourself permission to be strong, or decoding mindfuckery.

It made sense, because the corkscrew wasn’t working. You had the wrong tools for the problem. The right tools make all the difference.

2.) Create a new life. You got sunk costs? Make new investments. In YOURSELF. Not a fuckwit.

3.) Be brave. Bravery feels much better than capitulation. Whatever freezing and fawning have going for them (rest from exhaustion, the occasional kibble), bravery kicks ass in self-respect dividends.

4.) Recognize mindfuckery. He can’t mindfuck you if you recognize it as mindfuckery. It’s not a smoothie in that blender — it’s bullshit.

5.) Change the narrative. Now that you’re out, make it easier for the next chump. Don’t wear the blame. What you did — love, trust, invest, give too many chances — is not a crime proportionate with cheating, emotionally abusing, and risking a chump’s health.

Heck, feel free to tell people you regret staying with a cheater. That counteracts the pernicious propaganda that cheating Makes Relationships Stronger. The more you call it out, or wrinkle your nose at Esther Perel, or just rock on as a single, middle-aged woman — the more you model MIGHTY.

We need more examples. That’s your job. There’s your Tuesday.

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 so needed this today. He had an emotional affair at work, was fired and now we’ve been working on that mess. I filed but can’t seem to share this beyond a very limited group (couple friends and counselor). I can’t seem to leave -due to shame, fear, failure, hopium. but this is today has helped me reframe! Thank you!

      • Yup. “That mess”.
        Actually it’s HIS mess, the mess he made of your shared life, your shared future etc etc.
        Get this straight and you’ll be on your way. The shame’s not with you.

        • You sure that shouldn’t read “I’m the one acknowledging betrayal while he’s the one distracting me from thinking clearly with frolics and kibble?”
          Glad to see you posting here lovely – hugs to you x

          • So true. My inaction is frustrating me so much. Time to take action. Better late than never. Thank you!

            • Sorry to add this but look up what CL says about “emotional affairs”. Adults have sex. Cheaters have “emotional affairs” only until you can prove otherwise.
              Find a kick-ass lawyer and demand a fair post-nup. Insist he do a credit check in front of you to see if there are any credit cards you don’t know about and make sure you have online access to all bank and credit card statements immediately.
              If he hesitates, you have your answer.

        • Stop. Stop working on the relationship and move out. If your partner isn’t right there with you trying to pick up the pieces of your broken relationship, then they are already done and they don’t care about you.

          He tells you to relax and have fun while you are emotionally distraught and broken.

          Get out now.

        • That’s funny, I can distinctly remember several times where he would be on call and going to the hospital to do a case and when he came home he would see all the things that I had finished over 6/8 hours and say to me “I didn’t know you like to do housework “well buddy who is supposed to do it? I was doing it and taking care of his son who was a small child at that time. Talk about Ungratefulness.

      • Ditto. 2.5 years of gas lighting and manipulation, and me pick me dancing like a maniac. We can fix this! We can make it work. There is no we, he is nodding and going along with it to avoid consequences. He will say and appear (but not really) to do whatever you ask to keep his comfy life going.

        I’m so sorry, it is just awful but it does get better. I’m five years out from Dday, 3 years divorced and my life is peaceful. I have regrets, I still have anger but its all OK. My kids too. Good luck.

        • This is it exactly, Lemony! About a year after Affair #1, I realized that I was doing all the work, to repair and improve our relationship. That’s when I started to understand how selfish and entitled Cheater Narc was. After Affair #2, I finally realized that THERE WAS NO ‘WE’! There was him, doing what he liked and getting me to make his life better and nodding and going along with MY efforts and plans, and there was me, thinking we were working together, that we were somehow a team.

          This didn’t only apply to the wreckonciliation, of course; it covered EVERY. SINGLE. AREA. OF. OUR. LIVES., including parenting, his career and mine, how our time and money and home were managed, our social circle … All that was me doing for us, and him doing for him.

          The first time I realized this, and told a friend that there was no ‘we’ in that relationship, I cried so much.

          But it was also freeing.

          • Same scenario as KarenE. Although I knew he’d cheated and lied to my face about it I still trudged forward, doing all the things for the family. ALL OF THEM. and all while he was cheating, lying and gaslighting and I was pick me dancing. Hard. Until one day, right after daughter had left for college, I was done. Completely. I finally found the inner resources to get to the truth. And it was way worse than I’d thought. But then everything in the last several years of my life made sense. And that was so painful but so freeing. Leaving was the toughest but most necessary thing I’ve ever done. But the payoff is the rest of my life Cheater free and that’s priceless.

        • ” he is nodding and going along with it to avoid consequences ”

          I deserved the consideration and I earned the consideration. I know that now. He did wrong and continues to do wrong.

          I’m not giving anymore to the black hole of suckitude…to the Golddigger sad sausage. And I don’t give a fuck.
          My daughter’s wedding – she wants to know who I want to sit with. Even though it might be nice for her for golddigger sad sausage to sit at the same table as me, I’m not interested in what makes him comfortable or for that matter whether my daughter is comfortable with it or not.
          He doesn’t get consideration. He gets to be ignored. Or minimized. Diminished. Why? He doesn’t deserve it and he didn’t earn it.

      • At least you guys had “we’re working on it” – I realized after far too long that “it was me working on it” and him stalling so I could do all the responsibility work until the kids graduated. Asshole! I don’t wear the shame – I was quiet for so long but then the dam broke (when I finally realized what my life had become – you know fraud and deceit makes that hard to see) and I sang like a canary. You are mighty and you left. I do regret that I gave my cheater a second chance but I fell into the if your work harder and the sunk costs category (20 years at Dday 1 with kids just entering highschool – I didn’t want to f**k up the kids but now of course I realize that a) It did anyways (as kids are always smarter than we think) and b) it was him that f****d it all up.

        The whole thing is a colossal mindf**k for all of us no matter what type of cheater we have. I consider myself a strong and confident person but it almost broke me. I truly believe I have come out of it as a better person (though I still really wish it didn’t have to happen). I am truly grateful for what I have now because I realize how quickly things can be destroyed and how little control we really have over what happens (we really control our responses to life).

        Hugs to you regretful chump. I am the queen of regretting but I am starting to see that every second I spend regretting is a second of life that I can’t get back so I might as well use it for something productive for me (this is a work in progress). Have an awesome day!!

        • This is exactly how I feel. I am strong and usually confident and I am still afraid this is breaking me because I haven’t had a long period of strength. It pisses me off so badly, because now he’s always cheerful esp toward the kids, has no daily responsibilities with us, and thus can be more relaxed when he sees kids. This is fooling them and a mindF. I also feel like things can change easily and I don’t take things for granted. I never want him back but I grieve family life so badly.

    • Chumpianx2…I’m sorry this is happening to you, but YOU don’t have to work on anything except taking good care of and protecting yourself. That “mess” is all on him. Big ((HUGS)).

      • Yes, thank you. Concern for the what if’s have paralyzed me in inaction (not leaving). Kid worries on top of that. One step at a time.

        • The more info you can gather, the better you will feel. If you haven’t, have a consultation with a lawyer and find out your options. Review your finances, run a credit report on both of you, and start thinking about your future.

    • The shame is not yours to bear. You did nothing wrong. It was he who cheated. It was he who got fired. It was he who did all this. Why? Because he could. And because he believed there would be no consequences.

      Feel free to let people know that you’re divorcing because he was unfaithful. Remember that they already know something is wrong–it’s that elephant in the room. But if it’s secret, then everyone is like the blind person and the elephant. Your cheater has the ability to guide the person’s perceptions. He’ll say things like, “we just grew apart” or “she couldn’t handle it when I lost my job.” Practice one-liners that let people know he cheated while deflecting further questions, lines like “I hope he remembers to keep it zippered on the new job, not that I plan to be around” or “Yes, we’re divorcing. I’m tired of competing with Meg in Marketing” or ” I just don’t like his girlfriends.” Then turn the conversation back to things like the weather.

      I know you filed, but I hope you have retained an attorney. Knowledge is power, and one way to get your mighty back on is to understand your legal rights under your state’s laws. Where are you in your career? What kind of asset division does your state favor? Does adultery factor into decisions? If so, what kind of evidence do you need and how can it be collected? How does your state calculate child support? These are all lawyer discussions.

      Once you know your rights, then formulate your plan. What do you want for yourself and your family within 6 months of the divorce? A year? Five years? Thinking long term can help you put up with bullshit from your STBX and his attorney. Start with your dream plan and negotiate from there. Never start with what you think is fair. Fuckwits think that divorce is fundamentally unfair. After all, you should forgive them so they can go ahead and cheat again with impunity!

      Good luck!

      • Lulutoo, an emotional affair is basically just plain old cheating where one of the parties isn’t brave enough to go all the way, or they were never actually caught in the act. He might have been harassing the OW at work, or co-workers might have caught on and assumed there was sex. I read somewhere that 80%+ of emotional affairs end in a physical affair. Or maybe you’re with me here and think the bs is that there WAS no sex? Any way up an EA is emotional abuse, intimacy with spouse denied. Bit triggery, this!

      • By “emotional” I assume the implication is not-physical. He could have sent some x-rated emails/communications to a subordinate. That’s a big liability (sexual harassment) for businesses and grounds for termination.

    • I don’t understand why are YOU ashamed? You didn’t cheat. Why would anybody be ashamed if they need e.g. STI test because of a cheating partner? Are you ashamed if you get burgled?

      Our societies actually put a stigma on being a victim. You’re a cancer survivor (what about those people who can’t beat it), black Americans are mocked in Africa as slaves (and Kanye West thinks that his ancestors chose slavery) etc.

      But we’re often victims. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do our best to overcome it and learn how to avoid it but the bottom line is, sometimes we are victims. We shouldn’t be ashamed of being a victim, those who victimise should.

      • Excellent point!! You verbalized so very well, what I have long felt about the experience of victimization. Thank you!

    • It took me a long time to tell people we were breaking up even after he left. Use those times you get angry to get things done that are hard like calling a lawyer, telling him to move out, you moving out. Angry doesn’t have to be destructive.

    • Chumpianx2
      There is no such thing as an “emotional affair”.
      We’re working on it??? Did you read CL book?
      He’s having sex with that woman. Read more here &
      learn that your being used. You deserve so much better than that. Don’t waste any oof your precious time on a cheater. We are here for you 👍🏻❤️

    • It’s not worth trying. He’s a liar. And likely wasn’t just an EA anyway. As Tracy says, “Adults fuck. It’s just what they do.”

      My ex robbed me blind during the short 7 month “reconciliation” period I tried. I’d give anything to not have tried reconciling. When you find one lie, there’s likely 1,000 more still covered up. Don’t buy it. He is moving money as we speak.

    • Get out now! You will only kick yourself in the butt 5 years from now. All the marriage counseling, priests. Preachers, etc in the world won’t help. Unless he is sincerely working on himself and the marriage. Not just pretending so he can keep his life intact. I mean really digging in: spending time with you, romancing you, being there for you, answering questions, truly repenting, putting you FIRST in everything. Basically worshipping the ground you walk on. Becoming the leader of the family; sacrificing, praying, and Manning up! If he cannot do that….RUN RUN DO NOT STOP. Actually the above comments ate a fantasy. You won’t forget about it and he won’t do the work. Get a life without him.

  • Ugh! Plausible Deniability. Boy did I live that dream (nightmare).

    And I only recently discovered the 4 Fs…total game changer. Unravelling the family of origin fucked upness as we speak (freeze fawn Chump has here, how’d you know Tracy? 🤦‍♀️)

  • Heck you did better than I did. I knew immediately that our marriage was a mistake. I gave up a great job for him to move back to the States so that we could try to make it there. Within 2 weeks he was screaming at me for ridiculous shit – I found about his fury outbursts only after we got married. I regret having my first child with him because without that I could have moved back to Europe (where I still had a good job waiting for me) and divorced him. Sure I love my kids but like I said in a previous post, I would have had those lovely kids but with someone who treated me and them better. Took me 26 years to become middle-aged and single. But you know what, I’m lovin’ it!

  • Regretful Chump-

    I was you. I fell into the sunk cost category. I was married for 24 years when I found out about the cheating and stayed for an additional 3 years of abuse following dday. The longer I stayed, the scarier it got to leave which just left my head in the mind fuck blender that much longer. I was 47 (beyond middle age I think) when I found a semblance of my self worth and the lady balls to divorce him.

    Like you I was more mad at myself than I was at him. I was angry that I didn’t set boundaries; that I didn’t drop kick his cheating ass to the curb the moment I found out; that I didn’t love myself enough to believe that I deserved better. It’s taken me a few years to figure this out but eventually I realized that I needed to forgive myself and cut myself some slack. I didn’t have the right tools for whatever FOO reasons but I did the best I could with what I had to work with. I have learned from my mistakes and I continue to learn.

    The most beneficial thing I’ve learned is that I can’t grow if I’m constantly punishing myself for the crime of trying to be a loving partner even after the cheating. I think that has been the hardest thing to let go from the whole experience but it is vital to move on. It takes a lot of self examination and research but as CL pointed out, at least your energy is being spent on yourself and not the fuckwit. That in and of itself is one of the mightiest acts you can make! You got this!

  • I think many of us here can relate to your same course of thoughts & action. Many of us found it hard to leave until at least 2-3 D-days later. We picked me dance despite all the pain, and felt confused on our inability to keep our marriage intact. Doesn’t matter really since our spouse never understood marriage…you know, especially the part of the vows where they declared to “forsake all others”.
    Know that you will thrive after you wake yourself up from the hopium pipe dream. Life is better without the mindfuckery from a fuckwit.
    All the best to you.

  • You will find yourself again, get stronger, be happy being single, not settle. Make plans for yourself. It is great on the other side.

  • my heart breaks reading this. my husband cheated on my last year and recently my friend found him on tinder (my heart breaks typing that). at first he wanted a divorce and has even called attorneys etc, but then recently changed his mind and wants an in-home separation. it’s literally killing me having to go through this. i have called attorneys as well to protect myself and am appearing strong when i pass him in our home but inside i’m falling apart and fighting tears on my drive into work. the end of our marriage is so tragic to me. but he is someone i don’t know anymore and i’m still blaming myself for his behavior. i hope that goes away someday. right now, i’m living 5mins of my life at a time because looking fwd is so painful.

    • Share with your family that he cheated on you and worse – he’s still cheating. Anyone who blames you either gets cut out entirely, or kept a continent away emotionally. Maybe literally if you are lucky.

      “i hope that goes away someday. right now, i’m living 5mins of my life at a time because looking fwd is so painful.”

      It will, someday. That is all you CAN do at this moment and it is OKAY. Plenty of support is to be found here and with YOUR tribe. There are people who will blame you for his decisions to cheat and you know what that means? It means the trash has walked its way out of your life.

      Hugs.

      • Do whatever you can to get him out. That pain is finite. Living with him is like staying in a burning house.

        Rattlesnakes belong OUTSIDE and FAR AWAY.

        • Thank you so much Cupcakes and Hammer. i’m doing my best as the days go, even had a counseling appointment and found a place to stay sometimes when i need a break from our home. He refuses to leave our residence and I can’t force him out. i have no family or friends around, they are 2,000miles away. the place i found to stay sometimes is a coworkers friends house, so it’s a little uncomfortable to say the least but it’s better than our home. His family and my family knows he’s cheated. mine wants him out of my life and his still thinks he’s a saint. i’m just waiting till our lease is up so i can leave.

          • Does your employer offer an Employee Assustance Program – EAP? You could also check with local Domestic Abuse agency, though I don’t know if services extend to emotional abuse. Any potential connections from family – a referral to local church, etc?

        • I second that velvet hammer. We did a 10 month live in separation and it almost killed me and it damaged the kids – he of course got off on it – rubbing trips with his married girlfriend in my face while I did all the work.

          Do whatever you can to get out of there – even if it costs you a bit of $. I really underestimated the toll it took on me. Now that I am out I can hear a door open or close and not jump.

    • Alice I understand what you are going through. When I found out about my Husbands affair with my cousin it broke me. I found out January of 2017. He promised that he would end it. In March 2017 I received a letter from his lawyer that revoked my POA. His said it was because of a credit card I got in both our names. In July of 2017 I received a call from my cousin’s daughter. She asked me if I was getting a divorce. She said that my husband told her Mom that he was filing for divorce. She told me about how they were seeing each other for over 4 years. Talk about getting the wind knocked out of you. My husband denied filing for divorce. Called her daughter a liar and a nut. Two days after my Birthday(August) I received divorce papers. My husband stopped the divorce because he wanted to work on our 33 Year marriage. I was so mentally drained and scared that I agreed to work on the marriage. He did stop all contact with Skankella, His reason for the divorce was the credit card. He failed to tell his lawyer about Skankella and him hiding cash in his parent’s save.
      We agreed that I would pay of the credit card. And he agreed to never have any contact with Skankella. Never to talk to any women on Facebook, phone, internet, text etc. If any women contacts him be honest and let me know, No more secrets about anything. Fast forward 1 year. I found out that he was texting and talking to his ex girlfriend from school. She contacted him on facebook. When I ask him about it. He said he did not think it was her. He thought it was me trying to trick him. Even when I showed him the texts between her and me. She admitted to contacting him. She showed me that he gave him his number. And he contacted her first. He still stuck to his story. She told him never to contact her again because she doesn’t ruin marriages. I packed his bags and put them in the driveway.
      My point to this long story is. Do not waste your time on a cheater. I know it breaks your heart to divorce your husband. But, he is playing mind games. Cheaters do not change. Having a in home separation is just another way he can keep abusing you. Do not blame yourself for his behavior. He knew exactly what he was doing. You did not put a gun to his head and force him to cheat.

    • How awful for you, living in such a stressful environment. I hope your attorney can get things going because you need him OUT of your home. Home needs to be your safe place (where you can grieve and read CL and find support from your tribe). Get him out of there!

    • Alice,
      My heart breaks for you! File yourself. In home separation is a nightmare…it’s torture for you and a kibble-fest for that f*wit you’ve unmasked! Protect yourself. What he wants is irrelevant. In CL’s Mighty words: Is this acceptable to you?
      Hang in there. That’s a special type of ugly you’re forced to live with there. It gets better.

    • What?!?! “In-home separation??

      You have your head in the blender well past your shoulders and the mindfuckery is going to CHEW YOU UP.

      Alice GET OUT. Couch surf, do whatever it takes.

      Of course it’s completely unfair that he broke the rules and now gets to be at home. But you said it’s literally killing you. Save your own life. Get some perspective and start your path to mighty.

    • Get out or kick him out. One or the other. This is no way to live and he is staying in the home as it is convenient ($$) at the moment. Will hit the road as soon as he hooks up with someone that will take him in or he’ll force you out. Also, Alice, know this..he has an avid interest in someone that is not returning his feelings, at the moment. In the meantime he’s happy just to hook up with other women. You have nothing to work with here and if he tries to talk you into “working” on the marriage, and he just might panic enough to do so as your departure may not fit his timeline, please please do not buy his BS. You’ve been kicked in the gut and put through the wringer you have to get away from him to start healing.

    • Why does he get what *he* wants? He decides if you divorce or not? Oh, hell no. Don’t you have some say in it? Tell him to get his cheating ass out of your house
      First, find his Tinder page, save that as proof, and gather any other evidence you can of his cheating. Then get a lawyer. If he refuses to leave you can tell him you’ll make it all public if he doesn’t. That should get him moving. Do NOT stay in an in-house separation with a man who is still cheating. It will destroy you emotionally. I can’t stress that enough. I’ve been in house (he stopped cheating on dday) and it it has literally driven me crazy. I’ve been brought to the hospital twice in the past year. They wanted to admit me but I’m afraid of hospitals. The swiftness of my mental deterioration from living with a cheater has been astonishing.
      I can only imagine the agony of living with a spouse who still actively cheats. Get him out!

    • “It’s okay to feel terrible. You aren’t broken for feeling that way. You just can’t let yourself get attached to the feelings. There will be days when life feels too hard. You will feel pain and loneliness and fear that will make you suffer. None of it reflects who you are, nor are they any indication of what your future looks like. They are merely the temporary visitors. When the feelings visit me, I acknowledge the pain. Hunker down. Maybe clear my schedule. Lower my expectations of productivity. Give myself permission to rest while I let the thoughts pass. Then I move on. It’s not that you ever forget the pain, but moving on is a way to compartmentalize it so it does not destroy you.” ~ Teresa Shimogawa for tinybuddha

    • I’m sorry for what your going through. My ex wife cheated on me all through our marriage and the last nail in the coffin was when she got pregnant by another man(we were still married at that time). You need to find someone you can talk to and trust and get support from because you need people in your corner when your going through something like this. You deserve to be treated way better and never feel you deserve to be treated bad because you don’t. Your gonna have really bad days and it’s gonna feel like your heart is being ripped out but remember you are a good person and one day you will be free of this and when your ready find someone who is worthy of your love and be happy. I wish you the best, if you need support or to talk don’t hesitate to talk to someone cause that’s how you keep your sanity.

  • I can’t add much to what ChumpLady said, because, her answer is brilliant. Just one thing:

    “I should have walked away … calling him a bastard, telling my friends and family, and knowing that what he did to me — including the gaslighting and blameshifting — was very wrong.”

    Actually, don’t kick yourself in the ass. Once I decided to end my relationship with my gaslighting, mindfucking ex-wife, I actually DID that, I told anyone who would listen, mainly family and friends. And it didn’t make a bit of difference. The truth is that Switzerland friends are gonna Switzer.

    Just focus on yourself, and forget the loser.

    Peace.

    • I actually think it’s useful to tell all and sundry the facts. That allows us to sort out who is a friend, and who is not. It allows us to sort out who has values of honesty and loyalty, and who does not.

      My friends and our couple friends all responded amazingly and were supportive of me. Some people I had thought of only as acquaintances were supportive, and some of those became friends. I know many people who had friends and even their own family members who ‘didn’t want to take sides’ or openly sided w/the Cheater.

      In either case, you told your truth. And then you get to do some weeding among your friends, as well. If you don’t tell, you don’t learn the reality about your friendships.

  • I had the same regret. The reconciliation is false – it is just an effort to buy time. In my case, time to see if he could get another overseas job contract to allow him to continue the asset theft, pick me dance, evaluation of how serious he wanted to be with OW and to soften up his enablers to accept the divorce. It all went to plan for him. Because I thought the plan was different.

    It IS harder in midlife. In hindsight, I was heavily involved with a couple of narcissists in my youth, and suffered heartbreak, but I was able to move on. Unfortunately, I married this one. And when I was ready to get out, it had taken its toll physically. I wasn’t attracted to the kind male coworker who WAS there to support me through.

    My advice is you will only make the grief and loneliness more acute if you don’t cut your losses early on.

  • I was just talking about this in counseling with my very dear beloved trusted therapist.

    We stay hooked until we unhook. We did NOT waste our lives. We cannot read minds. We did the best we could and what we thought was right.
    There was no way to know we were being conned by expert liars. And many of us have awesome children because of how long we stayed.

    When someone rips you off, the shame belongs to THEM.

    • PS….feelings of regret are a normal part of grief about anything, and heightened in the case of being victimized by infidelity. It has taken me a long time (going on 21 months now) to really internalize what I wrote above, to put those regrets about the past to rest. I’m working now on not shutting the door on half my life that I spent with him. I stayed for my own conscious and unconscious reasons until I was ready to go.
      There is no shame in that. There is a lesson and a gift in it, but I won’t be able to see it until I stop beating myself up about it.

      “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it” is my goal, so I am halfway there!
      If I can get there, anyone can!

  • “he has moved on with his reputation intact”
    It’s never too late to tell the thruth.

    “angry at myself for not being a stronger, more confident person”. Yeap, abuse has consequences. It destroys your self-esteem. You had a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

  • I wish I’d known all this too. I wish I was more confident in myself, wish I knew what love was meant to be like, how nice guys operate, how to spot fake bullshit, how not to gloss over the bullshit that is niggling in your mind.

    I wish I had more self belief back then. I’d try to call him out on his crap but then somehow I always felt like the baddie. Plausible excuses all round.

    I now know how to put my needs first, to not be so anxious. I too got an std years ago – he convinced me (and I convinced myself that it had been lying dormant for 7 years). I didn’t have a clue that there were such great liars out there, who project a front; ‘Yes, I’ve met my long lost father when actually his mother had never told him who his father was… Yes, I can drive he said to colleagues and his new ladies – he’s never shown an interest in learning to drive. Yes, I have a degree – he dropped out. Yes, I am a single father – when in reality I thought we were a happy ish family with a new baby… Yes, I’m away working for a week – no, he was on holiday abroad with skank.

    I see everything different now I’m removed from it. A relationship shouldn’t be that hard work, so exhausting. It still is for me as he abandoned his kids and has no thought for them. Again more entitled non compliant behaviour on his part he can do what he likes and I’m left holding the pieces, the baby the mortgage, the bills as usual.

    My life has got better. I have one less man-child to worry about. I can focus on me and my kids. Skank can have him.
    21 years of bullshit and I didn’t know it.
    He’s messed my head. But I’m tidying it up and learning about life on my terms.

    I need to forgive myself too but that will come. We wanted decent, we got duped!

  • I felt that way too. I went through 3 d-days and over a 2 yr period. During the last few months of my marriage I did not hate him, I hated me. I couldn’t believe I would stay with a man that would do this to me. I felt so bad about myself that I felt in some way I deserved the abuse. That is what they do to us, they make us responsible for the way they treat us. On D-day #4, 2.5 years after D-day #1, I finally got the courage to leave. I actually felt such a relief that it was over!! That I no longer had to search for proof, live with the shame etc… I felt free!!

  • -raises hand-

    9 years between affairs for me. He never made good on the first offense and OW#1 left him quickly after discovery. He didn’t really choose me nor her afterwards and I danced very well and perfected my doormat status. In the end he abandoned me for OW#2, a chick half our age.

    Funny though, in some ways I don’t regret that I stayed because I and our daughters got to learn, in the end, exactly who he is. That first affair wasn’t just a mistake, a dalliance, him getting pulled into a relationship with a younger chick who worshipped him briefly. Nope, this is who he is and he sucks. I do regret wasting my life with him but perhaps the schooling was necessary.

    So what you have been through, from one perspective, is school. You had to learn the lessons slowly, turning them over in your hand to examine them further, and now you see him for what he is. If you had just popped out of the relationship after a single offense you might have just joined up with another one just like him and wasted more time. Education takes time, we fail tests, but in the end we build competence that is not fleeting. We don’t need to beat ourselves up with regrets while school is in session.

    You have been educated and will go forward sooooo much smarter now. Time to graduate from the school of fuckwittery, stop lamenting prior midterm exam failures, and commence with better things and better people.

    (hugs)

  • I feel this regret also. Things were good in the beginning but his behavior changed about 4 years in ( we were married 23 years) but over time he was a master at gaslighting and blame shifting. It happens gradually until you believe it is your fault and you get trapped in a cycle of doing everything to please and changing you personality to suit him. When I finally realized that would never work i stayed out of fear of how I would be perceived by my children if I left (he is a master at looking like a great guy to the outside world). I felt trapped. So when he met someone at work and left me it was all the more horrible. Added mindfuck is that she is my age and not pretty. Double blow to my self esteem. It’s 2 years later finally getting my self back but still have things that trigger me. Can’t wait for meh.

    • Iron Butterfly,
      Your story sounds similar to mine in many ways, but my last partner left me for much younger, pretty, brilliant, and rich, ‘baggage-free’ (childless) work subordinate, who is now his second wife. The situation makes me feel undesirable. Now in my fifties, ‘sexless’ for two years and counting, underemployed for several years with struggling kids makes me feel hopeless.

      • RockStar, same here, exactly. My strat is to examine and change what I’m hoping for. What’s the alternative? Xxx

      • You are not hopeless RSW

        I’ve read a lot of your posts in the archives and you are mighty .
        You fight everyday to make things better for you and your wonderful children .
        You are amazing

      • Rock star. You are incredible for living through that. It helps if you can learn to enjoy doing things alone. Pamper yourself as much as you can. You deserve it. 🤗

        • Aww Rock Star. Hug ! Take heart! I recall your story. I could tell you are still carrying the pain. Two idiots in too close succession. (the odds? Unfortunately very high these days).

          But I can confirm that you can go at least four years without sex (ask me how I know. lol). Do I miss it? Not as much as I like not being exposed to STIs!

          Also, a shitty financial situation can slowly turn around if you look for alternative sources of income and be consistent. I’m down to my income with two kids. Maintenance is paid but we know that it is never enough to maintain the children or household as it was.
          Can’t tell you how many shitty pretty/handsome rich single young people I’ve met… Or how many shitty people in general.

          I hope things work the way you want though sometimes the thing we want is not the thing we need (see cheaters).

          Take your time. Lament if you must but you will rise again with wisdom to share. Get your self ready to pay forward what CL has shared here.Blessings and healing to you.

      • RSW,
        I too am on my second cheater.
        I felt so good when I broke up with the last cheater – had a few blissful single years not wanting or needing a relationship. The current cheater showed up and seemed perfect and wonderful and pressured me hard to marry him. I did. Boy do I regret it.

        I try to remind myself that if I found happiness after the first cheater; I can find it again. I know how to be single and happy, and as soon as I can pick myself up off of this floor, I’m intend to do it.

        Sending strength to you!!

  • Thank you, Chump Lady, for responding to my email. The support and acknowledgement helps a lot. And thank you everyone for your responses. I agree with a lot of them. If I had left the first time, I would have wondered if I messed up not giving him another chance (under “hey, everyone messes up once, right?”), plus I may have gotten into another similar relationship not having deeply learned the manipulations and deceit I experienced with him, along with learning the ultimate doomed outcome of trying to make us work. So, yes, the experience has made me smarter and tougher to not go through this again!

  • My mother, God rest her soul, was a very devout till-death-do-us -part Catholic. But she had a good friend who had been totally screwed over in a divorce. I remember her telling me when growing up “Don’t get divorced (over trivial matters), but if you do, get your own lawyer and file first!”. I literally heard my mother’s voice that awful night when I got confirmation of my ex’es affair. Hired an attorney 2 days later, filed, and ended up with 2/3s of the marital assets in a community property state. My retirement is protected.

    Teach your children well, my friends.

  • After telling my aunt about a few instances throughout my 18-year marriage and through divorce, she asked me why I didn’t leave him earlier. I loved him. And, I so wanted things to be different, I wanted him to be different. Looking for that fairy tale that was never going to happen. That’s why.

  • Certainly chumps have regrets in hindsight. We question why we forgave, continued to trust and work on ourselves rather than deliver consequences. For me it was twofold; my level of tolerance was extremely high and I loved my abuser.

  • Yes, we wish, wish, wish.
    We look back in hindsight after being educated and beat ourselves up for not being stronger.
    Well, we did our best at the time with the tools we had. Ineffective ones, like that corkscrew CL talks about.
    You were being mindfucked, projected-upon and gaslit constantly, right? Nothing was ever what it appeared to be. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to withstand that.
    I was raised to believe divorce is shameful. (Oh dear, why can’t she hold onto her husband?)
    What bullshit!
    Go easier on yourself, sweetheart. We are all bruised and have battered ourselves with wishing.
    Wishing does not accomplish anything. You are free!
    Rejoice that you did not marry that cheater!

  • If a trusted friend all of a sudden beat you up and raped you would it be your fault ?
    Would you blame yourself ?
    Of course not and you shouldn’t in this situation. You were an honest loving person and he is a disordered fuckwit who played you from the beginning. There was nothing in your past to prepare you to deal with someone like him, so you did the best you could, got burned but learned a lot from the experience.
    Ditto for almost everyone here. From now on though you need to do as CL says and “fix your picker” so that your next boyfriend isn’t a carbon copy of the the fuckwit. Next, watch for red flags in any relationship and when starting a new relationship make sure that the boundaries are drawn and known and any deviation and out the door they go.
    Don’t beat yourself up, forgive yourself, move on and learn from the experience.

  • “Instructions for Today” by Julia Fehrenbacher

    Sit and listen to a tree for longer
    than feels appropriate. Close eyes
    until the hurting demands
    settle, until only the invisible speaks.

    Ask yourself the same questions
    you’ve been asking
    everyone else. Be still
    until you hear
    the answers. Trust me —
    they will come.

    Tell the truth. The one
    that has simmered
    and boiled inside you. It is yours.
    No one can shape it
    or take it. When words fall out
    notice how sure and steady
    your feet feel on the ground — it is meant
    to be this way.

    Remember, there is no promise
    of tomorrow. Let this truth live
    inside you
    until you can’t help but
    turn toward love.

    You are not a victim. You
    are a truth-telling warrior
    who gets up again
    and again and again. Who stands
    in the middle of the mess
    and says: I don’t know.
    But I’m ready to listen.

    Then open your eyes
    and head on home.

  • I think it’s important to be balanced about this.

    Good things: get better about boundaries, learn about 5he magic of no contact, just say no and mean it as needed.

    Bad things: beat yourself up mercilessly, blame yourself, torture yourself with what-ifs.

    Hey, we meant our promises and vows. We valued our relationships and families. We actually have assorted lovely and useful morals, values, and beliefs. Often, the level of diabolical plotting that cheaters are capable of simply never occurred to us.

    Plus, even once we finally knew or suspected some of what was up, we never had the full set of facts at our disposal. We were denied access to the truth of our very own lives.

    So yes to getting ever stronger and smarter, but nope to blame and guilt.

    We cannot rewrite the past—what happened happened and no undoing it—but we can see and interpret it in ways that make us wiser and healthier, not even more full of sorrow or pain.

  • This one Gets me

    5.) Our culture doesn’t support chumpdom- and the support of RIC

    There is less than nothing out there for abandonment . When 1 spouse has absolutely no interest and just walks away without a look back .
    Yes i have found my tribe now and there is runaway husbands blog ( not updated often ) and the book but that’s it .
    There is a nation of people who have just been abandoned ( I mean no interest in trying to save marriage fake or not . Not 1 call, test, email absolutely nothing just nothing )

    I don’t blame myself for that though I honestly never knew people like this existed ,

    • Because those that abandon their marriage are excused with the whole “they fell out of love, aren’t happy, why should they in a ‘loveless’ marriage for their rest of their life”. What’s never spoken about is the callousness through the marriage, the affairs, the narcissist display by the ‘unhappy’ spouse while the chumpy spouse does everything to make the marriage better. The gaslighting, blameshifting, physical and emotional abuse, mental cruelty, the casual approach to spouse and children – this stuff is never talked about and never mentioned because the chumps hold it in.

    • Yep, and there’s even LESS out there for us husband/male chumps. Case in point, you won’t find a book titled “Runaway Wives”, although, sadly, I can assure you they exist.

      • I think runaway husbands ( the book ) can be applied to either gender . Same as CL

        It’s a good read ( for the subject matter ) and if you get the opportunity you should read it .

        • Yep, good book. My husband has not looked back, either, and he left his parents. These guys are still narcissists. They are not worth worrying over, even though the abandonment initially hurts like hell–it has been one year today for me. But, I told him to go, as I did not want him having a girlfriend; and his anger was escalating to the point it was scaring me. I quickly got a separation agreement that gave me the property and kept me on his health insurance and paid our bills for a time I felt it would take me to get back to gainful employment. He walked away with a vehicle and personal property to go be with young Schmoopie. I’m in no contact. I got a great job, life is on the mend, and I will be pushing the divorce through.

          I never expected to be in this situation, but here I am. Great friends, a good therapist, and Chump Lady helped me get here. Rocking toward 50 in a few days, and feeling very hopeful.

  • I think it is easy to be angry over wasted time, after all we only get one life, and we would rather use our time wisely. But the fact is everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has regrets. I don’t know one person who has never made a mistake. I have known several who will never admit it, but in my opinion that is a red flag of a mistake that gives information to someone who has actually lived life.

    I don’t like to make disparaging remarks about anyone else’s journey of discovery. It is important to remember you know what you know when you know it. We wonder why others believe in something that we no longer believe in, and seem to forget that once we believed that same thing, until we learned not to believe it any more.

    I have heard others make fun of family of origin errors, or terms like codependent. I find these terms useful to described the feelings I had once upon a time. If you have not had a parent devalue you, you may not understand the effect. I have not been on a war battleground, but I can still see how PTSD is a real thing. I also think it happens from human emotional battlegrounds. Just because I have not experienced it, or seen it, or heard it, does not mean it isn’t real. I stayed too long, and wasted too much of my precious time trying to believe what I wanted to believe until the evidence overwhelmed me and the pain of not seeing the truth became more than the pain of facing it. You can put any label on that you want to. If it helps you to understand, if it helps you to heal, then good. The pain served some purpose, I suppose.

    We can be angry we experienced something unpleasant, but we need to forgive ourselves for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong belief system. We know what we know when we know it. You cannot change history, but you can choose not to make the same mistake again. Be happy you survived. Be happy you have the opportunity to start over. Older, yes, but wiser. When you leave a cheater and gain a life, you are in a better place than you were when you were living a faux life. That is something productive to concentrate on. Anger at the past will never change what happened.

    • I was going to post the same thing, Portia:

      “You know what you know when you know it.”

      Seems simple, but I think that phrase packs a lot of wisdom!

      I think those of us who stay for awhile and try wreckonciling are still processing the catastrophic upheaval in our lives. You may hear a voice telling you “It will never be the same…I can never trust this person the way I used to.” But you’re still off-balance, still not sure of anything anymore. The rug has been pulled out from under you, and out of habit, you cling to the one you committed to for life. The warning voice inside isn’t heeded because you don’t know what to believe anymore.

      Until you finally get it. We come to that realization in our own time. Some learn quicker than others. And that’s OK!

  • Regretful, please don’t be so hard on yourself for being a loving, caring, devoted, beautiful, loyal woman. I’d rather be you than a lying, cheating, piece of shit. You have done what I and so many others here have done. It’s okay. When we are blindsided with such gross disrespect and utter betrayal from the one person in our lives we trusted the most, loved and who we thought had our back, it takes a while to come to grips with the reality of it all. It’s a lot to process and it takes time.

    For me personally, whenever I shut him down, which I did from day one, he would come back to me asking to give him another chance. I gave him those chances because I wanted my husband back, I wanted my happy life back and taking him back made this gut wrenching pain go away, albeit temporarily.

    I did not keep his cheating a secret because that’s a reflection on him, not me. I spoke the truth. Once he opened that disgusting can of worms, there was no putting the lid back on and placing it back on the shelf like it was never opened.

    You hold your head high!! You’ve done nothing to be ashamed of. You’re self esteem, confidence and strength will return the more time you spend away from that selfish, piece of shit.

  • I think we Chumps blame ourselves because it’s been programmed into us over time. Kind of like we get used to settling for less and less while we do more and more. I don’t think we start out that way. Entitled character disordered people are attracted to confident, capable people because they are quite useful. That is what they look for in a Chump, and that is what they erode over time through mistreatment. If we didn’t buy into the Cheater narrative that we matter less at least a little bit, we wouldn’t need a 2 x 4 to the head to wake us up and convince us that we’ve had enough.

  • Miss Bailey,
    Thank you for eloquently, concisely stating this fact. Some of these abusers, including my ex-husband, malign chumps even more, going as far as filing for divorce from the chumps they abuse and abandon, publicly making false allegations about the Chump, even taking them to court.

  • This article makes me think of the different lists of life-regrets the elderly and the dying have. Most of these lists are similar. Number one on the most recent, picking the wrong life-partner. A few years ago the number 3 item was not leaving someone soon enough (wasting time). And that brings me to the best life quote ever from David Cassidy to his daughter on his death bed: so much wasted time. He was refering to their difficult relationship and the time wasted when they were not getting along. Point is, you’re normal in trying to stay and normal thinking you wasted too much time trying to stay. Time to move on… leave the cheater and gain a life (CL) 🙂

  • I was able to forgive myself for poor decisions with first spouse because I was young, no experience with healthy relationships in childhood, etc. But when I made the same mistake the second time, I beat myself up HARD for a long time. I always relied on my intellect as my source of strength and self esteem, so I couldn’t stop asking myself, HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID?! Im in a much worse position financially now, but i worked with a good therapist and am single, middle aged, and so much healthier.

  • CL you have a gift for making it clear! I struggle every time my yearly GYN appointment comes near. I’ve never told her that I stopped having sex – due to embarrassment, shame, timidity, fear of not knowing how to answer her questions, but probably most of all fear of hearing myself say it out loud. Years ago I was not emotionally or financially ready for any of this shit. Well, it’s been 11 years. No relations with husband. No evidence of an STD. Now I feel it’s way too late to even bring it up. Just another chumpy thing to beat myself up about. I’m afraid she’ll ask why I didn’t tell her long ago. At least some of the reasons are here today.

    • How do you say, nope, no sex but yes I’m still married? If I say it aloud, maybe it means that he doesn’t want me anymore? I’ve been there. Whether or not you say anything is up to you. My GP knows that I’m divorced now but I still use Vagifem. She asked me if I wanted to stop. Why? Because I’m divorced? Hell, I’m hoping that someone will still want me some day down the road. I’m not stopping just because I’m celibate at the moment.

  • I wasted time with two different men. The first was a live in boyfriend. The second was my ex husband. Unfortunately, the ex husband and I have children together so I still have to deal with him but I’m better at ignoring his bullshit! I dated someone not long after my divorce (probably too soon) and I ended the relationship after a year. He wasn’t a bad guy; however, it didn’t feel right. I never dump so this was a big step for me!

  • Regretful Chump.

    Especially with the benefit of hindsight boy I am sure we are all angry at ourselves about something. Whether that being having no idea, no right to reply (the ones that go poof), tried to
    reconcile (RIC), believed a pack of lies, tried to work through their problems and gave other chances.

    And we all end up feeling totally stupid for what may appear to be blindingly obvious down the line.

    I have many regrets now. So many. But I cant just can’t regret how I felt or what I didn’t know because I was being lied to.

    We should not beat ourselves up, we have been through enough.

  • Regretful Chump and anyone interested, I have spent way too many hours on youtube listening to channels on narcissists, but I keep coming back to Assc Direct and a video on The Narcissist and the Continuous Loop of Infidelity: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=91TPsPa1pHY

    I must have listened to this 20 times already. Maybe it will help someone understand better who they have married.

    • This is superb. I have wondered whether ex is a covert/introvert type Narcissist, and listening to this really ticks boxes. Thanks for posting Medusa. Just wish he hadn’t had that 23 year fuse – my kibbles were just too good, until “talking to Dream Princess (OW) toppled Artist off the pedestal”. Gah…

  • So needed this today. What a great piece. Just got to keep doing me. I ll on the right track. Someday I’ll catch that meh train.

    So glad I found cl and chump nation.

  • I was angry with myself for a long time after a miserable relationship in my youth that ended when he went on a trip to the other side of the planet and while he was gone conned his mother into dropping the bomb. In that moment I knew utterly how lucky I was to be free of him.

    Once I got past the anger about wasting years with him, came the relief that I had not wasted MORE years with him.

  • I had to come here to say that I laughed out loud on the train reading this on my way to work this morning. CL out did herself with a piece of genius amongst the truth bombs in this one. It’s so simple and I aim to use it in future when the timing is right.

    Q: Why did he do this?
    A: I don’t know, entitlements, Bats?

    Lol!!!! Classic!! Thank you!

  • I swear I wrote this myself.
    Did yours get “famous”, too? That’s how mine started his cheating lying abusive bullshit.

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