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‘I Fix Hearts. She Broke Mine.’

Hi Chump Lady,

I read your book and I divorced my cheater, but I still feel like I’m not gaining a life.

I’m a very busy cardiologist in a small town. In July 2018, I discovered my wife of 15 years (we had known each other for 25 years) had been having an affair with one of our friends for 10 years. This spanned the birth of both of our boys (currently ages 8 and 3). I filed for divorce the next day and was granted this 2 months later based on her infidelity.

This wasn’t her first offense. I found a letter between her and her boss in June of 2015. She denied that anything intimate took place, only that her boss propositioned her and she declined (she later admitted to sleeping with him because she was extremely drunk). After thoughtful consideration at the time, I agreed to give her a second chance to repair our marriage. A week later she informed me she was pregnant with our second child (you can imagine what my initial thoughts were).

Two months later while we were living in a different city, during my final year of training, she decided to move back home as she was “not happy” away from her family and support system. (She later admitted that her lover threatened to kill himself if she didn’t move back home). She took our son with her (he was 4 at the time).

I flew home every 2-3 weekends to see them. She wanted nothing to do with me, just laid in bed all the time and made me sleep with my son. Yet I was completely invested, taking her to the ER on Thanksgiving due to dehydration, racing home when she went into pre-term labor, and racing home again when she delivered.

I met with her in the spring of that year for dinner to ask if she was “all in” to repairing our marriage. She said she was 100% all in, so I purchased a 5000-square-foot home that I planned to raise my family in. After moving back home and starting my cardiology practice, I thought my wife would seriously try to repair our marriage, but I never felt like she was sincere in wanting it to work. Nor did I feel like she was truly trying (I now know why, because she was cheating). She never wanted to be intimate. We tried couples therapy, individual therapy, and separated for awhile. I ultimately moved back in the home, but we only coexisted, as I was simply hanging on to a failed marriage for my children at that point. Then I found out about the 10-year affair.

I get that she is a terrible person as a serial cheater. She’s a narcissistic sociopath and has major character flaws. Who the hell starts a family with someone when they’re having an affair??? But I can’t seem to get over her (or at least the idea of the person I thought I married). I miss my partner, my best friend, my confidante.

And I do realize it was a farce — that she really wasn’t those things because deep down she didn’t respect me. Co-parenting with her is not easy. I want her to be miserable, not happy. I want her to demonstrate remorse for what she did. But she hasn’t. At this point I honestly don’t believe she’s capable of feeling empathy or remorse.

I’ve had both of my sons paternity tested and they both are mine. I’ve been tested for STDs and am completely clean.

Her family blames me for this. They don’t know the complete truth because she refuses to tell them. They only know she “slept with someone else.” They have called me an absentee husband and an absentee father. I admit that medical school and post-graduate training took up a lot of my time, but I still managed to attend major events and holidays. I was doing something honorable and admirable to better my family. She also knew I wanted to go to medical school when we were dating and engaged.

It’s very clear that I will never trust her again. Also, the thought of being intimate with her disgusts me. I divorced her because she betrayed, deceived, and disrespected me. But not because I stopped loving her.

I’ve been in 2 short-term relationships since the divorce, but each has ended because I didn’t feel ready. I felt like I needed more time to get over my ex-wife. It’s as though I have built a wall around my heart that is preventing me from fully letting someone else in. Why do I feel this way? Why can’t I move on? Why does she still have power over me?

How do I get to “meh”? How long is this going to take? When will I feel happy again? When will I “gain a life?”

It’s bizarre — I fix “real” broken hearts for a living and I love what I do, but I can’t fix my own…

Please help. 

Sincerely,

The Cardiac Chump

Dear Cardiac Chump,

Just because you believe something is true doesn’t mean you accept it.

That’s where you’re at. Here’s a heart analogy. You can tell someone they have heart disease, and to manage it, they’re going to have to take meds and change their lifestyle, or have an operation. And they believe you. (They’ve got reasons they’re seeing a cardiologist.) But it’s a big, scary reality to wrap one’s arms around. Heart disease? Me?

I have to change? I have to eat leafy green vegetables? I have to exercise? Worse: I have to go under the knife?

You nod. “Yes, yes you do. If you don’t do these things, your heart is going to kill you. We must fix it.” And you explain that while their hearts may be damaged and scarred, if they do the right things, there’s a very good chance they’ll live a longer, healthier life!

Winning, right? No. Because even though that patient believes you, they may go out an eat a Big Mac anyway. They believe but they don’t accept. The idea is there, but the internal acceptance isn’t. It hasn’t translated to behavior change.

Or they may do the right things — diet, exercise, operation, meds — but they don’t feel like their old youthful self, before heart disease. They keep waiting for the wrong outcome. Or they’ve started to do the right things, but they haven’t seen results yet. The pride and springiness they’d feel 20 lbs lighter. Doing the Right Things is still an act of faith.

That is where you are.

You were chumped. You did the right thing — you divorced her. Your heart won’t be the same. It was abused. But hearts are resilient things. You can recover from this, but you’ve got to get your head in the game.

She’s a narcissistic sociopath and has major character flaws… I miss my partner, my best friend, my confidante.

A doctor told me I have heart disease. I think I’ll eat this Big Mac.

And I do realize it was a farce — that she really wasn’t those things because deep down she didn’t respect me.

I do realize that I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without wheezing… I have a bad heart.

Co-parenting with her is not easy. I want her to be miserable, not happy. I want her to demonstrate remorse for what she did. But she hasn’t. At this point I honestly don’t believe she’s capable of feeling empathy or remorse.

… But I keep expecting to run a marathon.

STOP WANTING IMPOSSIBLE THINGS.

If you truly believe she is a sociopath, then you will ACCEPT the diagnosis and realize that she is not capable of empathy or remorse. She’s not going to reflect on her behavior, because she does not reflect.

Every. Time. You. Expect. This. You. Set. Yourself. Up. For. Pain.

You! Not her! Wishing her to be miserable is just the flip side of missing your best friend — it’s not Meh. It’s not indifference.

Her rapturous happiness is not that much different than her deepest despair — SHE DOESN’T DO DEPTH.

Bad hearts don’t run up flights of stairs.

Sociopaths don’t co-parent well (it’s all about them, can the children be of use? Could we trade them for a Pekinese purse dog?)

You’ve got a Trust That She Sucks problem, Cardiac Chump. You trust with caveats. She sucks with disclaimers. For this to get better, you need to REALLY accept the suck. Which hurts like a mofo. It means you invested and bred with a fraud. While you were building a life together, she was cheating for a DECADE. There’s nothing to reconcile your thoughts with here, except stone cold monster.

The good news is that not everyone is a monster. But it’s harder to move on from a monster than you might think, because:

a) You’ve been in a heavy duty pick-me dance. Read up on the brain science of Intermittent rewards. You thought you “won” the last time this went south. Expecting her to be better after the “consequence” of divorce is another kind of pick me dance. You “win” a contrite her. (To watch her suffer, or to want you back.) The pick me dance is un-winnable. There is only disengaging.

It’s hard to disengage when you’re co-parenting, so work on parallel parenting and scheduling software solutions.

b) Narcissists sparkle. (Narkles?) When freaks want you to believe you’ve “won” the pick me dance, they may give you some kibbles — kibbles you over-value because you’ve been on starvation rations. No one else’s kibbles measure up, because you’re kind of mindfucked in that toxic dynamic.

So dating again and missing your ex? Maybe you miss the fantasy limmerance of the disordered?

Good people might feel weird at first. Like eating healthy food after a life time of Big Macs. Hold out for nourishing relationships.

c) This is a lot of shit to grieve. A decade of deception is a LOT to process. Maybe you should just go easy on your heart now and not date until you feel a bit more healed up? It’s not fair to new people if you’re not over your ex.

Or you could give yourself some credit for working on the new life. So what if you didn’t find a Forever Partner? You’re taking time and being choosey — that’s a good way to be.

It’s as though I have built a wall around my heart that is preventing me from fully letting someone else in. Why do I feel this way?

Uh, you were terrorized by a monster for a decade? The monster is vanquished. You divorced her. Your heart is scarred, but it CAN recover.

Why can’t I move on?

You can. First step of moving on is believing that you can move on.

Why does she still have power over me?

She doesn’t have any power accept the power you GIVE her. Stop giving her power.

Manage the channels she does have into your life (parenting software, lawyers) and BLOCK the other channels. (Her family doesn’t need an explanation about your divorce, but feel free to give them one — a DECADE of deception — and then CUT THEM OFF.)

I don’t need to tell you this, but I will anyway — Cardiac Chump, you’re a stock that trades high. A loving man with a good job. I could get a line of chumps waiting here for you that spans to Brooklyn. Your ex stole 10 years of your shared life. Don’t give her another day.

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.
  • Intellectually you know that she is the equivalent of walking into a reactor core, naked.

    Emotionally, you are still playing catch up. You had 25 YEARS in this relationship. 15 of them married! It is simply going to take time for you to distance yourself emotionally from her.

    You’ve still come a long way. At some point the line makes a sharper curve up up and away. No one knows when that will happen – but it will. Eventually. Generally once you minimize interactions with her. The miracle of parenting software! Children who don’t need to be escorted to the door – you can hand them their backpacks and watch them enter the home

    I am so relieved you don’t have a parting gift of an STD to deal with and that your children are also biologically your kids. *phew*

    • It does take time for your heart to catch up to your head but it will.
      Focus on you and your kids not your ex. Don’t date until you are ready.
      I am almost 3 years out and happy being single. I have lots of friends and activities to keep me busy. I am choosing to keep the wall around my heart but I am in my sixties so don’t feel the need for another relationship. Being younger you owe it to a new partner to not be pining over your ex. Good luck.

    • Yes, take the time to heal! I’m crying over the computer right now because I spent the last year and a half with a man I loved completely. We were both chumped in our previous marriages. I recently called it off because every time we tried to move forward in our relationship – he couldn’t ‘because of what happened to him in his marriage’. I thought it had been a year since his divorce before we dated (and years since DDAY for him and separation etc), but learned only a few months ago that his (ex)wife moved out just one month before our first date. He was frozen. I begged and pleaded and probably did a type of pick me dance with pots and pans and daycare….I’m so completely heart broken.

  • I feel you, Cardiac Chump. I’m stuck in the same place – not yet divorced from a man that cheated on me for 10 years. Ironically, I’m a divorce attorney. I advise people to RUN from marriages like mine and I help them get free. Yet, I am stuck and I can’t seem to get free myself.

    I hope that we (and other stuck chumps) will find acceptance and peace soon.

    Thanks for breaking broken hearts.

          • Really! Where is it he lives again? Not like I’m poised over Travelocity looking to book tickets or anything.

            Seriously Doc, take chumplady’s advice. Give your self credit for working on getting a new life. Date casually as a way of getting your feet wet but don’t rush into anything.

            Give yourself time to find someone who is a good fit for YOU, your interests, your wants and is willing and able to be a healthy partner( also time for me to find you- jk).

    • “She’s a narcissistic sociopath and has major character flaws… I miss my partner, my best friend, my confidante.”

      We are believers aren’t we? After 41 years of abuse I still loved my abuser. For me it meant unloving a man I’d spent decades tolerating and acceptance was my way of life.

      Still after being told he was a narcissist and a sociopath I was bonded to a man who made it his mission to harm me ways that showed blatant disrespect.

      Acceptance for me required a thorough understanding of personality disorders and the phases of narcissistic relationships. Then there’s the list. You look at their actions and realize how little those spoken intermittent reinforcers kept you hanging on believing.

      Being devalued, negated, and erased leaves us questioning ourselves. Unless one has experienced this abuse it is quite unbelievable and difficult to understand why intelligent, kind, loving partners have such staying power.

      Make a list. Reread it daily. Don’t beat yourself up when the list grows; it’s what they do.

      • I had 33 years in the same situation. I knew intellectually that he was disrespectful and wrong when his cheating came to light. I separated and divorced, but missed him terribly. I kept saying he sucked, but was so sad. It took about 4 years and one day my emotions caught up with my mind and I became free. I finally accepted everything.

        I think we just have to keep reminding ourselves why it had to end and eventually we are happy again. I believe I couldn’t have shortened my process. It had to play out in its own way. I think we are all unique and need to be patient with ourselves and we will eventually “get a life”.

        • Doingme & Finally Free Heart ^^^^^^^

          Yes. What surprised me was how much I truly loved him when he left. I had been telling myself I wasn’t in love through all his bad behavior, but but but………. “I miss my I miss my partner, my best friend, my confidante.”

          I trust that he sucks and have made great strides. Not quite there, but I’ve come up for air since DD April 2017 and can see Meh on the horizon.

      • It is fascinating to me. I was married for 25 years with one d-day at 20 years and as I did not have chump lady then I stayed around for another 5 years until d-dayish 2 (extreme and limited trickle truth/lies?). I was so devastated and thought life was over but he made it much easier for me by being a cold aloof asshole that was defiant that he did nothing wrong. That eventually made me say **** you I am better off without you (he still bullied me and forced a year long live in separation which I survived (barely). I try not to think about the past too much as it is still painful that another human can be so cruel to his wife (and to his children) but that is on him not me.

        I not only trust he sucks but I can’t believe I ever loved him (or whatever form of him existed at that time). My world view has changed but right now I have started dating a kind man who fascinates and excites me. While I would love to think that this man is a forever guy for me I don’t know if I believe in that anymore. Relationships are a lot of work and require compromise and there are a lot of people unwilling to do that anymore. I am trying to tell myself to just enjoy my time with him. Heartache is likely in the future but hey if I can survive the implosion of my worldview and long term marriage I can handle another break up (I don’t want to but hey we have limited control over what happens to us we can only control our reactions). Love on chump world (in whatever form of love you choose)!

        • Deee49 ~ I hear you about heartache is a possible outcome but as I learn what healthy relationships look like and more importantly boundaries I feel better prepared. Disordered people prey on their partner’s need to make it work no matter what. They provide the lip service to keep the hopium pipe going. Healthy people listen to you, they care if they hurt you and do better.
          Sure there can be some mismatches, but hopefully no more disorders in your future as we now know better. Best to you.

    • Do you ever advise your clients with childten to wait til the kids are out of the house and just use that time to plan financially and “You do you” until then?

  • That’s the hard up – catching up and not trying to untangle the skein still the same time. I remember telling the Dickhead that he knows what he did for 19 years. I did not. Suddenly learning the horrible stuff and trying to reconcile it is gut-wrenching. There’s a line where you learn enough (probably not all), come to grips with you can, and walk away from the rest because now it becomes about saving your life.

  • I often repeat the phrase “trust that he sucks.” It keeps me grounded. “Trust that she sucks” would be a good phrase for Cardiac Chump.

  • Dont for a second buy their “you were an absentee father/husband” as an excuse….
    Im a nurse and am well aware of your sucky hours, but as a military wife, my Cheater left for 6 and seven months at a time and I never cheated…never came close. Medical families make it work if they want to. This is just a red-herring excuse basing her bad behavior on something you cant change. Its all crap.

    Like you, I lived a long marriage with someone who did not respect me…who was not “all in” when I was and it does feel like a waste. What I learned is that it has allowed me to be very appreciative of this next phase of my life with a good partner.

    You need to clean up this whole messy thing before you think about repartnering, but you know what is wildly valuable out in the world? Men who were and are true-blue. Entering middle age, men start to die and too many prove themselves to be baby-men unable to adult properly…a good one is a precious jewel in the muck. Be ready that every women out there is told by every newly single guy that it was all the Xwifes fault…it takes time and discernment for us to figure out who is telling the truth.

    So sorry for your pain…it gets much better than this. Thank God your kids are yours…that would be a shitstorm no one wants.

  • Your ex sounds a lot like mine CC only I wasted a lot more time with him (46 years). Don’t be me. You have a great (and stressful) career. You have two kids who are likely to get very messed up during this whole process. Do what you can to lessen the damage. The best thing those kids can see is you being a person of integrity and the person they can count on no matter what. I’ll bet they see through her on some level and need you to just be there.

    The best thing I did was gray rock my cheating ex. After all the years of him having multiple affairs (that I didn’t discover until a few years ago), pick me dancing, putting up with his tantrums, put downs and rages, spackling, and all the other things chimps do, I just stopped. I’m still in the throes of wishing it could be different but I know he will never change. And I can no longer live with what he is—a monster in human form. Read everything you can find about narcissists. Most cheaters fall on the narc spectrum somewhere and you will find yourself saying yes, yes, yes this is her to a T. And there is no fix for that. The hard part for us is accepting that it cannot be fixed. And dealing with the damage.

    You’re smart and you can do this. It takes time and determination. And awareness and acceptance. You found CL. Stay with us. We all have some version of the same story and the same pain. We understand as few others can.

  • Take the next opportunity to let your in-laws know that your wife cheated multiple times during your marriage, including an affair that spanned 10 years. Point out that you engaged in multiple strategies to heal your marriage, but she continued to cheat, so you are completely comfortable with your decision to divorce.

    And, harsh as it sounds, let the kids know too. There is appropriate language for explaining it to them–use it as often as necessary. Otherwise, your EX and in-laws will teach your kids that “Dad was mean to Mom; he is a bad person.” They need to know Mom didn’t want to be married to just Dad, and since she wouldn’t play by the rules, the marriage ended.

    You really have not been free of your marriage very long–let yourself enjoy casual relationships for awhile. After 25 years of a dishonest partnership, you’ll need a couple years before you have a new sense of yourself and your current needs. You aren’t replacing your wife. You are stretching as a person and learning to be a divorced father–once you love that new version of yourself, maybe the right woman will be easier to open up with.

    • This. 100%. Have a few casual relationships and heal.
      However please be upfront with the ladies if you don’t want anything more than casual at the moment. Nothing wrong with casual. In fact, that is where I am now, but they deserve honest from the start so as not to get their hopes up. You don’t want to be the cause of someone else’s heartbreak. My two cents.

      • Unfortunately, loving people CAN get very hurt by casual relationships. Perhaps, Cardiac Chump should just wait until his wounds aren’t so raw. Then it will be less likely that he or women he gets involved with will get hurt.

  • I too got the “you were so busy and didn’t have time for me.” It’s bizarre how they all have the same handbook of excuses.

    I translate this as, “you didn’t constantly put me first and worship the ground I walked on, so you are oblivious to my greatness and you suck.”

    I’m proud he thought I wasn’t living my life only for him. I was committed, but not a doormat.

    His family cut me off too. They know of the affair but goodness knows what excuses he’s told them.

    Now he’s on his third marriage (with the AP) and I couldn’t be more thrilled. They are both nightmares and deserve each other. The honeymoon will be over soon and frankly, this is probably the only revenge I’ll ever get.

    I haven’t been ready to date until now and also live in a small town. Prospects are slim and it’s hard not to let my resentment of him take over. The few single men I’ve run across I have turned down because my spidey sense is telling me to run far away. I feel good about this though and am less vulnerable to manipulation. I used to feel bad for “not giving a guy a chance,” but no longer. If I see red flags, hell even tinted pink, it’s a no-go.

    Hang in there Cardiac Chump! It really hasn’t been that long for you to recover from so many years of gaslighting and being in a crappy relationship. We’re all rooting for you!

    • Uh huh. During his discard of me, I was told “you never put me #1 and it feels good that she puts me #1.” Um, we have 2 young kids and when we got married didn’t we become one?! Yeah buddy, your married howorker with 3 kids is hardly caring if you’re #1. Just narc sociopath babble.

  • Gosh, Cardiac Chump! Your stock would trade high with me! What I wouldn’t give for a man who’s all in when his schedule allows him a break from surgery! I have a crazy schedule, too, though I’m not saving lives when I’m not working (and not literally saving lives when I am working, either, though the work I do does impact the future). I’d be totally down for someone who wants a partner, not a housekeeper!

    Anyway, I agree that you have a Trust that They Suck problem. You know she sucks intellectually, but you haven’t processed that on an emotional level yet. This is where counseling can help. Check out therapists who’ve experience in trauma bonding. You were married to someone who had a 10 year affair! That’s at least 10 years of enduring emotional abuse in hopes that things get better. You need to learn some healthy emotional habits. Once you do, you’ll be a whole lot happier and a whole lot more prepared to be in a relationship.

    Try to have as little contact with your XW as possible. Use parenting software and insist that all child-related communication go through that. Hold to the court-ordered plan. Practice Gray Rock. When you have your children, be the sane parent. Don’t bad-mouth their mother, but don’t try to explain away her actions as anything other than what they are.

    Go No Contact with her family. They think it’s no big deal that she slept with someone else? What kind of family dysfunction is that? The apple, my friend, did not fall far from a tree here.

    Work on YOU. Sure, you know intellectually that she’s a narcissistic sociopath, but you don’t really get what that means emotionally. This is where you need the therapist to help you get to that particular point.

    Best of luck!

  • Cardiac, there are so many great single sentence pieces of insight and advice in CL’s response. I would print it out and go through this line by line over time until you feel like you really grasp each one. And then keep them in your head like a mantra until they begin to stick in your heart as well. Aside from this, and far less important, I would give one full explanation to her family of the years long abuse and repeated cheating. How she went “absentee” in order to cheat when you wanted her with you as you pursued the profession she knew you were pursuing. Not to convince them of anything, but just to be able to say to yourself and to your children perhaps some day, that they were In fact told. Her family almost certainly is dysfunctional. Look at how they have blameshifted already. A healthy family doesn’t produce someone like her, so they will not have the capacity to accept either truth or consequence. But you may be put at ease a bit knowing you’ve informed them, set the record straight, and they can’t claim ignorance. And your children will someday as adults be able to look back and know that these people were clearly informed of the truth and yet chose to twist it and blame you. Your ex and her family will have indicted themselves.

    • Yes Cardiac, you must tell her family everything (including how she took a child away from you and moved back home to be with her fuck friend). But I also wouldn’t count on their sympathy, they’re disfunctional. If I showed up at home (or close to my home) with a child, leaving my husband behind for weeks, my mother would kick my ass back home to my husband.

      And as to the excuse you were never there – when she was fucking around she also didn’t spend time with you and pay you attention yet you still didn’t cheat on her.

  • Cardiac Chump, You can’t miss what you never had. The key is accepting the truth: Your ex was an illusion. A sleight of hand. A cheap magic trick to keep you on the line and off the market so she could do whatever her entitled self wanted. Let yourself get angry, and take out that trash. You can do this, and you will feel free.

  • Cardiac Chump-
    I feel your pain so very much. I have the same sentiments….the wanting the remorse, the feeling like everyone buys the narcissistic cheater’s narrative, the feeling of loss despite feeling repulsed at the thought of your ex. It’s all normal. I had the exactly same experience except that I gave up my job as a tenured biochem professor for my chump who continues to enjoy massive success and adulation (at least on the surface) from his colleagues in the business world of science. I can tell you this. I don’t know if you stop having those feelings, but you stop caring so much about them. I feel the sadness or rage, depending on the situation, but I can shut it down more easily. I feel like the intensity of those negative, destructive feelings are more determined by my own mood–how susceptible I am feeling on a given day could make me more reactive to the same triggers. At first, the triggers had control over me-they could pull me out of a good mood. So, it does get better but the blissful state of “meh” is different for everyone. And Chump Lady seems to have found a super cool partner, which makes it easier. I think. Not everyone can. I have been so unable to fall for anyone else, perhaps because the whole love/falling for someone is intertwined in my mind with youthfulness. But life is still so much better without the cheater. My thought is that maybe some of those memories of what we had are real. I can trace the change in my cheater’s personality-I could practically graph his selfishness on the y-axis and his career success on the x-axis. We all have a bit of narcissist in us, to varying degrees. Usually we grow out of those tendencies but some end up succumbing to them. I think some of us chumps met our cheaters in this window of time when they hadn’t yet succumbed to selfishness and we were still a little immature and it worked but years later they have to gaslight us and unravel the whole life that was built, leaving us wondering what the hell happened. All I can say is that over time you will be more and more able to shut that voice that torments you off.

    • MadKatie,
      Good insights, and I think you and I are in much the same stage (and have eaten similar shit sandwiches). I, too, find that the intensity of my “bad feelings” is more on days when my mood is down. And I also find that for the most part, I can mostly more easily shut off wanting an expression of remorse or my resentment that I’m the one who ended up suffering the consequences for his actions (I retired early from my tenured job and took a financial hit rather than have to endure working with him in the same small academic department–I feel like of all the things he did, tainting my professional life and making me sever contacts with colleagues is the worst), except on those bad days.
      It is getting better though, and I hope it continues to do so for you, for me, and for all of us.

  • Read that last line again. Post it on your mirror. You can have ANYONE you want. Someone much, much better than your ex-wife.

  • Cardiac Chump I really recommend you read ‘Exorcism’ by H.G.Tudor and follow his advice about expunging this person from your life.
    Like you,I uncovered years of cunning deception,multiple APs running concurrently. My head knew he was a sociopath but my heart took a long time to catch up. I was annoyed and frustrated with myself and blamed and shamed myself for my weakness.
    Eventually your heart catches up but you have to do the work.For me it was therapy,exercise,meditation,a hobby I could get lost in and reading widely about the behaviours of narcissistic sociopaths and the impact they have on those they abuse. There is a blog called Narcsite written by Tudor that helped me enormously, alongside CL.
    Having only the barest grey rock interaction with your ex wife is VITAL to your recovery. It is literally like having to exercise a demon from your soul.I know this sounds melodramatic but that’s how it felt for me.
    I look back now and wonder how I could have been in the power of such a person and one day you will too.

    • DeeDee, I wouldn’t recommend buying or reading anything by Tudor. He’s a sadistic FUCK and as malignant as they come.

      “You cannot blame us for that. You cannot blame us for the fact that you become the willing volunteer.”

      Fuck him.

        • I’ll cheerfully disagree about SAM VAKNIN here…I have found his videos (particularly those with RICHARD GRANNON) to be quite informative and helpful when trying to understand the Narc

          But obvs to each his or her own…a resource that helps one of us heal might trigger another in a negative way…and that’s okay!

          Stay mighty, people

        • Yes, I got help from MTE. And she has a money back guarantee. If her Narcissitic Abuse Recovery Programme does not help you, you get a refund. She also has a subsidy plan for people too poor to enroll. But, not for everyone, as there is a “woo-woo” element – as she herself calls it! It can feel “New Agey” but it helped me a lot to discharge the emotional content and triggers over time.

      • I downloaded Exorcism on kindle and really wished I hadn’t. I started reading it but stopped after feeling like I wanted to bash the m’fer upside the head for thinking he’s all that.

  • I understand what you went through. It does get better.

    My XW of 24 years, together 25 years, had multiple affairs over a good chunk of our marriage. I suspected, but didn’t get proof until I DNA tested my kids. I am into genealogy. I am glad they are yours. My oldest isn’t mine. I understand how you feel about why they would try to start a family while having an affair. We were actively trying to have a family. Going to OBYN appointments together. Actively trying to have a child while she was in the middle of an affair with a married OM. She told me she wanted a child with him because she loved him. But he wouldn’t leave his wife for her. It is so messed up. She would later cheat through the birth of my son and afterward.

    My XW’s family at first supported and even encouraged me to divorce her. But then the smear campaign began. They have cut me off and glare at me when I have dropped off the kids at their place. It was painful. But I have seen how dysfunctional the family is. Good riddance.

    Now when it comes to dating… It is scary. So MANY dysfunctional and crazy women out there. I have told people that dating/being single was like being thrown to the sharks/chum in the water. Freaked me out. I remember being told that the best way to spot a narcissist/BPD is learn to love myself. I didn’t date while separated. I focused on my kids and myself. I was told by my friends girlfriends that I shouldn’t date UNTIL I was completely over my XW. I knew I was ready when I saw my XW and felt NO feelings for her except a little sadness. I dated a couple of old friends but their lives were messy. Not my job to be the knight in shining armor. My mom told me that I knew what I DIDN’T want in a woman but not what I DID want. I never had a check list either. Just standards. THEN I met my now wife. I was use to love bombing/fire works. I thought she was “boring”. No fireworks. Just getting to know each other. A small fire that gradually grew into a open flame. I kept strict boundaries. Never moved in with her (how disordered can get their claws into you and the divorce rate for those who live together first is around 75%). I wanted someone to put some skin in the game before living with them.

    Anyway. I had to filter 24 years. It sucks! But is necessary. I have no idea how many affairs she has had. Parallel parenting sucks badly. My XW is a narcissist/BPD. She has messed up my kids badly. But I have a great partner who is very savvy in dealing with my XW. Although she was a chump herself (military wife whose husband cheated many times), she has never met anyone as messed up as my XW. It blows her mind.

    Let your heart heal before dating. I married when I wasn’t healed enough. Has caused some friction in my marriage. A real, healthy relationship with a good woman will seem “boring”. Take your time. Don’t go out there looking for love. Just be yourself.

    • While we were married, my XW became pregnant at 46. Not expecting that, and she seemed over the top upset by it. (Not there are not good reasons) I was not thrilled, but accepting and working towards happy anticipation when she misscarried. She was pained by it, but got back to her old self, which was generally mean towards me. A year later I discover she had been unfaithful before and after the pregnancy with a man with dark skin and brown eyes. We are both fair skinned and blue eyed, as are our two sons. So I have always wondered what was going through her mind during this pregnancy? Would her adultery be found out by this baby in the delivery room? Should she come clean in advance? She frequently thought God was punishing/rewarding her. Was she thinking this pregnancy God’s way of revealing her cheating? (I do not believe in that God)
      I’m will never know. I do think it contributed to her craziness at divorce.
      Very happy to know our two sons are mine and sorry about your circumstances. Hopefully you have worked out what is best.

    • Sirchumpalot, as someone who hasn’t dated in 22 years, your words are soothing to this soul. I’m so glad to hear that there are men who are willing to take it slow. Not that I’ve even jumped into the dating pool or have any desire yet. But when I do, I will so appreciate a person who’s willing to let a relationship progress carefully, slowly and thoughtfully.

    • I secretly wished for fireworks and to be carried away by a Prince…my inner self craved full on love bombing…my heart was so broken and neglected. That desire was tempered in that I had 3 (adult and near adult) kids, a babymomma and their child in my house at the time. My now husband called it “The Boarding House” and there was no way he was going to move into that chaos.

      We didnt get married until 4 of them were gone and the baby of the family was transferring from community college to University. It was wise. Our relationship also grew at a safe and steady rate and it is not exciting, its nurturing and safe. I don’t need or want everyday to be exciting…when we need excitement, we go on a nice trip.

      I am now so glad that I didnt get caught up in some insane love-bomb nightmare. A friend recently had a lovebomb marriage with all the silly FB photos leading up to it…too much too fast and after 2 months, the guy told her it was all too much work and left to move back to his moms house.

  • Dear CC I’m new to this total acceptance thing too! Maybe there is a correlation, a graph perhaps that plots the level of spackle from the Chump on one axis and the time required to accept the reality of the Cheater on the other.

    Just this weekend I was blindsided by my cheaters behaviour – dick pics on the kids iPad as his iPhone is somehow linked. Also screenshots of his contact with the patient which caused him to be suspended from practicing medicine. Both situations pose great risks to our sons and I am shocked that he would do that.

    But should I be so shocked! Maybe it’s because I was such a high level spackler that I can’t accept the reality of his behaviour? I do trust that he sucks but do I truly accept how bad he sucks?

    Good luck to us both on finding Meh!

      • It can also help you if he turns it around and says that YOU solicited these photos and didn’t prevent your children from seeing them.

  • @CardiacChump…. give yourself more time and focus on two elements: no contact (or as little grey rock contact as is possible-treat it like a challenge) and self care. What hobbies do you want to try? Where do you want to travel to? What volunteer experiences excite you? It’s a big wonderful world out there— focus on things that inspire or nourish you.

    I’m 5 years out from Dday where I was completely blindsided after what I thought was a 25 year wonderful marriage— it was all an elaborate con because I found out XH had been serial cheating at least 20 of those years despite having four kids together, building our successful law practices, starting real estate development company together, co-writing a legal treatise, training for and running half-marathons together. He read me Pablo Neruda’s love poem Puma while he was also reading it to one of his affair-partner clients! The sheer monstrousness and cold-hearted sociopathy takes time to absorb and accept.

    Today I’m happy and peaceful at Meh. I am in a significant relationship. I’m over XH. I will never forget but it is reality and I am living a good life without all that pain and drama.

    You will get to Meh also. I predict that it will take 3-5 years. In the meantime you have you to care for. You are worth that care. 😘😘😘

  • CC
    Look at it like a very slow oxidation-reduction reaction . Your pH is slowly working it’s way to a neutral equilibrium before a balanced state occurs. The quantities of reactants are fixed and time is the only variable required to reach the Neutral 7.0 (Meh)

    Secondly, do not buy into the myth of “ the only way to get over someone is to get under someone else”. That’s an exercise in emotional masochism. You are a prime target for goldbricking women. Learn what relationship reciprocity means.

    You will rediscover who YOU ARE and how to own that with humility.

  • I read once that neurotic people stay stuck in dysfunctional cycles of thought. So I determined to fight my tendency to ruminate, and stay stuck in negative holding patterns. Many childhood issues messed me up. I must be neurotic to have stayed in a long marriage with a cheater and liar!, and to keep trying despite mountains of evidence that he only cares about himself. I gravitate toward dysfunction. I know this about myself. So I fight this everyday, and have vowed to leave the past behind and seek a normal life with normal people. I deserve better. I need to believe this, and so do you.

  • Cardiac Chump,

    You have 25 YEARS IN building neural patterns around your former wife. Neural patterns can be changed and take lots of time and practice!

    That is the simplest explanation I know of. I don’t even like to use the traitor’s name because I want to build new neural patterns that help me internalize who I now know he is. I need to obliterate and cauterize the neural pathways that link his name and positive experiences.

    I agree with Chumplady to wait until you are healed before dating. The more healed you are the better you will choose and the better partner you will be. Good luck on this most painful journey. You are in a LOT of good company in the lifeboat here.

  • My last hurdle is the crushing loneliness. I am not afraid to be alone but I’m just tired of doing everything alone. I’ve joined clubs and started going back to church but it’s hard to make connections. I have friends from work but most are married and busy. Or I have to always plan something. They never do. Then I find myself ruminating that it is so unfair which I know is not healthy. How do I get past this?

    • Ironbutterfly, it IS unfair. But how we deal with this unfairness is what makes the difference.

      My ex did a great job of isolating me from friends, family, my interests, etc. He’s been gone a year and a half now (and living a “happy” (not possible) life with the OW), I’ve been no contact for almost that long. I did a lot of reading and learning about my childhood and my “original wound”. I worked on that. And now, I’m getting back to me, doing things I like, getting back to the interests I gave up for the ex. I’m at the point now where I enjoy my solitude and I’m rarely lonely. If I get lonely, I call family or friends for a chat (they all live in other states).

      Focus on you. Do things that make you happy. Eventually, you’ll be too happy and busy to feel the unfairness of the situation.

        • Iron Butterfly,

          I can relate to what you are saying. I, too, am tired of doing (virtually) everything alone (now as a single mom) who is struggling to find work that pays even basic bills. I do go out to do many activities but still feel lonely as those around me are generally friendly or at least civil, but the bonds don’t run very deep, in spite of my attempt to be friendly toward and support whoever I meet. Just not the same as a loving intimate partner! I have decided to ’embrace the suck,’ perhaps in a Buddhist/mindful way (even though I am not Buddhist, am agnostic). This is the way things turned out, and I can’t undo the past, so I am going to observe the universe around me and just try to become the most noble being I can. I plan to channel my pain into my philanthropic work. Specifically, whenever I think of a way that somebody tremendously harmed me and I can’t do anything to fix the situation, I am going to try to think of something kind or charitable (large or small) to do. (A bit like using manure to fuel an engine that benefits the world!) Doing so doesn’t deny or kill the pain, but it does put some positive thoughts in my head to, in a sense, dilute the unhappy ones. Awhile ago, I quit focusing on being happy and started focusing more on trying to bear my current reality. I think that I feel calmer with this new outlook. And I can now empathize with those who are experiencing many unpleasant conditions, so I know that when I try to comfort others, they might realize that I have also, in some way, to some degree, also ‘walked through the fire.’

          If I can think of any helpful advice for the challenge we face, I will definitely let you know here on Chump Lady!

      • It strangely helped me a little to deal with the unfairness to think of this saying, “cut your losses”. It finally clicked that I’m the loser in the fairness battle and that it’s as simple as that. I can’t get even. I suppose it helped me to realize there are enough people out there in the world, not just us betrayed, that are the fairness-losers, too. So many that a saying was made up. So, we accept the unfairness and we cut our losses.

  • Cardiac Chump, the only thing you can trust about her words are that she’s lying. It might be blatant, it might be subtle, but the dishonesty is always there. One of the things they do is frame issues in a false manner. They take something good, and spin it into a character flaw. And so when you were called an absentee father and husband, the good thing you were doing was falsely framed as a flaw. You need to accept that she sucks, and everything good you might have seen was a mask. My ex told me that she was ‘pretending.’ Anything you might be missing from your ex was her simply pretending. They are not capable of anything authentic. You are lucky that you got through med school. I had taken time off from school for military service, and so had a limited amount of time to finish before my med school prerequisites expired. My ex spent my undergraduate tuition money, delaying my education and keeping me out of medical school. Chump Lady is right. Your stock trades high. You need to look to the future, not to the past. You have an excellent future. It’s yours for the taking.

    • It’s interesting your ex told you she was “pretending”. After Dday, when the mask was fully removed, my ex told me he was envious of me that I didn’t have to “pretend to be someone I’m not for other people”. They really do all work out of the same playbook.

      • Yes, they do! It’s amazing reading all of the stories on this page, and in the now closed forums, and how similar they are. Chump Lady once explained it as there only being limited moves on the chess board, and that makes sense. If you wish to use someone and be crappy, you can’t do it openly. It won’t work if it’s obvious that’s what you are doing. And so they have to make it appear otherwise. They have to pretend.

        • I totally agree.

          The admission of pretending to be someone he’s not also helped me to “trust he sucks” since I realized the love bomber I fell in love with was just someone he was pretending to be so I’d fall for him and he could then manipulate me. That made letting go a little easier, but not any less painful. I’ve learned this experience had to be painful for me to learn my lesson and “fix my picker”.

      • I told my husband that he didn’t love me, so why would he say he did? This was before total no contact. He said he never tells people what he really feels, only what he thinks or knows they want to hear. He’s a user. He may marry the skank he’s engaged to while we’re still married, but she’s as likely to get the truth out of him as I was. He’s disordered and can’t tell the truth. So glad that’s almost out of my life

    • They do all say that. Upon D-Day my XW told me that the person I fell in love with and married was a “fake person” and that this was the real her. A liar, a cheater and a thief.

  • Cardiac Chump, when a disordered person like your ex (and mine) chooses a target they make you feel very special. Life can be very exciting with a narcissistic sociopath. Or maybe for your ex it’s Borderline Personality Disorder, which is more common in women. Either way, don’t waste a lot of time trying to figure out what’s wrong with her. That’s giving her centrality in your life. But whatever her problems are you’ll find that a relationship with a normal woman will probably not be as exciting. That’s a hurdle you’ll have to get over. A normal adult woman will not have the extreme highs of a disordered woman. Fortunately, she will not have the extreme lows either. Normal will feel odd and maybe a little boring to you.

    For some people a new relationship can be very healing after a disordered marriage. For other people taking time off to recover is best. Only you can know what works for you. Since you’ve tried dating and it hasn’t helped, maybe it’s time to try not dating for awhile. Spend as much time as you can with your kids. Take up a hobby. Volunteer. Do the NY Times crossword puzzle every day. Whatever makes you happy.

    For me, the best way to recover from life with a narcissist was very low contact while the children were still minors. Communication became a game to me. I waited a minimum of 12 hours before I responded to messages and I used the fewest words possible. Try it. It’s fun. Since my youngest child became an adult I have been full no contact. My marriage lasted 25 years, and it has been 11 years since I separated from the ex. I don’t care what happens to him unless it impacts my adult children. Most of the kids are also no contact, so there’s very little impact.

    Like others have said, take a moment to tell your former in-laws that your ex-wife cheated on you with multiple partners and that she had a 10-year affair. Tell them you had to DNA test the kids to be sure they were yours. After that cut them out of your life if possible. If not, treat them as distant acquaintances. They can see your kids during Mom’s time. And if your kids come home saying that Gramma said bad stuff about you don’t hesitate to sic your lawyer on them.

    Chin up, Cardiac Chump. You will get past this. Life on the other side is much better. It just takes time.

    • “Either way, don’t waste a lot of time trying to figure out what’s wrong with her. That’s giving her centrality in your life.”

      Very true. My cheating ex is BPD. For the first few years of our situation (open relationship so not sure if I can call it a “real” relationship), it was me trying to figure out wth is wrong with him. I am a psych major and investigative by nature so I saw him as a puzzle of sorts. Then it dawned on me that he was BPD and I told him my thoughts and he said his then-therapist diagnosed him as such. I have no love or patience for BPD sufferers (sorry!) but because I am often accused of being cold I decided to take another approach and be empathetic. This led to me spending so much of my time psychoanalyzing him and excusing his crappy behavior. I made this person central in my life and I wasn’t even madly in love! So I agree, no one should spend that much time trying to figure out what’s wrong with a person who is entirely unreasonable.

  • Thank you for your honesty @CardiacChump. I also wonder why it’s taking me so long to recover. My story is very similar to yours (long-term cheating XH and an embarrassing year-long pick me dance that included a considerable amount of drama ). All the ugly facts are in front of me yet, I am still in shock after more than a year. Stuck in a circle of WTF! Asking myself, “How could anyone be so gross & dishonest and live with themself?” Ugh!

  • My imaginary dating profile:

    1. I will never cheat on you
    2. We can make the rest up as we go

    Good start I think. Anything is better than what we had.

  • “Who the hell starts a family with someone when they’re having an affair???”
    A slimy cheater, that’s who. It’s “cake:” you can have the respectability of the intact family, with the benefits of the other person.
    My ex did the same thing. (Thankfully, the kids look just like me.) And she didn’t get a shit about me, either, never wanting to spend time together or be close. She was just using me as a paycheck and a babysitter (i.e., “husband appliance”).

  • Great post today…my heart goes out to you, Cardiac Chump.

    I am less than a month out from DDay and my husband leaving me for the other woman; still feeling the love for my STBXH and missing my best friend. I got exciting news about a job offer this morning and couldn’t wait to tell him; then I remembered that this doesn’t affect him anymore, and that he doesn’t care.

    He came by today while I was at work to get the last of his things, and when I came home to see his key on the dining room table my heart broke into a million pieces. I’m in a different kind of denial—I still can’t process the fact that this is really happening, or that he is really gone. How do I push through this horrible pain?

    • Brilliant news about the job. Many congratulations. You did that in spite of your difficult situation and pain. That shows how Mighty you are already.

      As for the rest, I feel your pain at 4 months out from DDay. The removal of the things is horrible. But just think about that job offer …

    • newlywedchump

      Breathe. Sometimes it’s moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. The pain/grief is not linear and it can hurt like a MOFO. Cry, scream or just be still. This is your journey and CN is here–reach out!! I likened it to an earthquake, where aftershocks occur–frequently and strong at first, then eventually it levels out. It is hands down the worse pain I’ve ever experienced, and I lost both my parents in-between Dday & divorce, but I trust that he sucks and I can assure you it DOES GET BETTER. Focus on you.

      “Head East toward the darkness, for those that walk West toward the light, will never see the sun rise”

      Your meh will be a beautiful sunny day. Hang on.

  • I really get how you feel but when I feel like that I try to look back at where I’ve come in the last 18 ish months. I now truly trust that he sucks, the way he continues to behave is so utterly appalling it’s really unconciousable on so many levels and really does himself a huge disservice so it’s not been hard to trust that he sucks.

    I have huge fears about parental alienation and manoeuvring things so as my only child gets older she will automatically spend more time with him which is my WORST NIGHTMARE and I often feel the really worst fall-out from this is yet to come (it probably is and that tires me out just thinking about it).

    But I am not an emotional wreck every day any more. I have had days when I haven’t really thought about him/the whole thing, I have had some fun times. I have had bad days too. But I was waking myself up crying out and was so stressed and traumatised.

    So I think it would be nice if I could feel as though my heart could open up to someone else but I am so scared and so hurt it’s just not time yet, I can’t even think how I could trust someone else but I have made a lot of progress and I think it will come, just not yet. And if it doesn’t well I have to stay true to how I feel at this moment and I can’t just skip back to how I was before all this happened, maybe I never will. But I suspect that slowly slowly I will. It just won’t happen anywhere near as quick as I’d like which is quite frustrating but that’s a lot of commitment and life to just put to one side and ‘get over’. We’d be pretty weird if we could just move on like nothing had happened I often think.

    Just keep focusing on what progress you have made and congratulate yourself for any positive movement forward, that is all you can do.

  • I’ve been in 2 short-term relationships since the divorce, but each has ended because I didn’t feel ready. I felt like I needed more time to get over my ex-wife. It’s as though I have built a wall around my heart that is preventing me from fully letting someone else in. Why do I feel this way? Why can’t I move on? Why does she still have power over me?

    How do I get to “meh”? How long is this going to take? When will I feel happy again? When will I “gain a life?”””

    Man, I just looked at your timeline, and it’s barely a blink of an eye since you divorced.

    It’s really, really hard – especially when you are a driven, focused person, as you clearly are – to handle change that takes time.

    I think this is largely a guy thing, but there are also women who are really driven and focused and externalise everything – so that they don’t give themselves time to heal on the inside.

    You’re trying to FIX THIS, because you FIX THINGS, DAMMIT, and that’s great, but this is something you can’t actually FIX with force or action or drive.

    Slow your roll. I think Chump Lady is wise in her advice to you to stop dating – you’re medicating with people, and you’re not ready yet.

    Interior, emotional healing takes time, and it takes its own time. There’s no schedule here that you can point to (like a surgeon who knows how many days in hospital you give to a person recovering from operation X, because that’s the clinical norm).

    This stuff has its own rhythm, follows its own pattern, and it’s unique to you. You can’t really control this process in the way you might like.

    Before I start sounding completely like a New Age Warrior and you switch off entirely: go and see a a therapist. Seriously. See a man therapist if you think it will help.

    But just go and talk to someone about your fears about healing, and get some proper help on slowing your roll, doing things that help to promote internal healing (HINT: STOP DATING), and above all some reassurance that you are not broken or damaged beyond repair. You just need more time.

  • This is a really late- evening reply but hey, docs have weird hours.
    I’m a medical specialist chump too (peds).
    I’d be SO gentle with yourself. Remember you spent a decade practicing holding intense feelings at bay for the good of other people: no terror in a messy code, no anger at judgemental attendings, no exhaustion on call.
    If you’re anything like me, you’ll take a bit to learn enough to move on while heartedly. It requires the stillness, the quiet, the vulnerability, and the self compassion which we may have been ignoring for a while.
    Take care and stay kindhearted.

  • This is one of the more meta letters…an actual heartbroken cardiac Chump. Infidelity can be so much like that. There is is much bittersweet to all this horrid stuff. I’m sure you invested everything. All of that precious time of your life, she let you invest yourself to her, only to set you up and snatch away your beautiful family. It is the suckiest suck that ever sucked.

  • Thanks for posting this letter Chump Lady and for the VERY candid advice. I most definitely needed it.

    Thanks to everyone in this thread for their advice and support.

    People told me “the first year after your divorce will be the worst.” I thought I would be feeling a lot better by now. I guess this is going to take more time.

    • I’m 2 1/2 years out brother. Very similar deal to your ex. I was heartbroken as well. I know what its like to invest everything in your family and to be betrayed and deceived for all of your devotion. My ex also claimed I worked too much, but only AFTER it was revealed she had been having multiple affairs. It’s a cliche but it simply takes time. I still struggle, but I’m much better than I was a year out. It’s not a straight line out of hell, you’re going to zig zag. Stay strong…

  • It looks like more men have been finding this forum. Welcome! I have first hand experience as well as many friends. Men’s divorce, ego, money, kids. I have 5 years since D day. Life is now good! I still feel guilty for not being able to keep family together for kids. Funny part she married affair partner quickly with no guilt.

  • Cardiac Chump,

    I am sorry to hear that you have experienced what you described. I mainly want to wish you and your kids happiness.

    Here’s a story to share with you about how ‘progress’ sometimes occurs for those of us who are very slow healers:

    I have been mostly unemployed for a year in spite of holding advanced degrees (but not finishing my dissertation, so no PhD, which kills me) in purportedly very useful fields and years of varied work experience. (I am failing to earn a living wage, resulting in my kids and me depending on the ‘kindness of strangers’ (including that of the government), and am physically and emotionally exhausted and lonely.) Today on the way to an office for an interview, my car malfunctioned–I could not steer my moving car while in an intersection. Quite thankfully, nobody was injured and no damage was done. I was able to finally get my car into a parking lot near the interviewer’s office and then, following the interview, contact a towing company to tow my car to the car dealership. This frightening event made me think of an accident I had on the freeway a few years ago, while I was still with my last partner, the one who I thought was my friend for 30 years and then left me to marry his work subordinate, a common theme in his company (executives at that company marry their subordinates–I think that it’s part of an executive’s contract there…). A few minutes after I got into that accident, shortly after leaving his house, which was in a different county at the time, I called him and briefly explained what happened. His response? ‘If you hadn’t driven to my home, you wouldn’t have gotten into the accident.’ I should have broken up with him that moment, as I should have many times before and after when he very obviously treated me like @?!# (emotionally abused me), as did my (now ex)husband, who had officially left a couple years prior. Thoughts of how my abusive partners who I dearly loved harmed me used to be tremendously painful–to the point that around 50, I first started experiencing what were probably panic attacks (my hands tingled for months). Now, 2.5 years since my last partner discarded me the last time, I still feel unhappy, sometimes angry about the way he behaved, sometimes upset with me for not being more ‘impressive’ or more aware that he never loved me and thus avoided the whole fiasco of a ‘relationship,’ and, to some extent, sad about the loss of him and a happy, married life, but I notice that the thought, ‘He was a real jerk (not Mr. Nice Guy that so many people believe him to be)’ almost automatically pops into my head. I think that calmly trusting that abusive partners suck can help. What/who you/we loved were illusions. Now, to some degree, after the thought, ‘He was a real jerk,’ goes through my head, I can go about whatever (ideally productive thing) I was doing. Maybe it’s like a scar on a foot you sometimes notice. You can look at that scar and remember the incident or situation that led to you getting the scar, but the memory isn’t quite so painful and you can kind of use your foot again, to at least limp along if not run. I wish you the rapidest and most thorough recovery possible and positive transformation from this experience. I am fairly certain, now virtually unemployed, in my mid-fifties, as a divorced mother of young kids, that I will be unwillingly single for the rest of my life as I have received virtually no offers of romantic partnership for years and the offers are from guys who are NOT a good match (drug addicts, cons, guys with serious psychiatric disorders who won’t get help, very unappealing, unhealthy guys who want to just hook up–for free–I’m not a free prostitute, nor any type of prostitute, for that matter). It’s not the life I want by a long shot, but I’m still breathing, at least until I get into an accident when my virtually new car fails again. So I’m going to try to do something useful as a single person until the end. You sound like a very diligent, intelligent, professional father who routinely does your patients and your family much good, so YOU will probably need to figuratively beat prospective partners off with a stick. That’s a testament to you. In many ways, you are a hero.

  • Thank you Adelante and NSC! He contacted my solicitor and denied what is clearly shown in the photographs. Proving my point that I’m only at the start of accepting that level of suck!!!

  • There are so many similarities here …
    I’m a pulmonologist , also have always put my family first and also got cheated repeatedly over the years.
    I read CL responses as if they were meant for me. Maybe in some points I’m a step ahead .
    My former in laws are just the same kind of narcissists as my ex wife.
    Blame me for everything .
    One thing which I have learned is – talking to them is pointless . No contact is the key

    • Yes, please! As someone divorced from a physician, it was weird to see all the fangirling here for dating a cardiologist.

      Beautiful Character, not beautiful checkbook, is what we’re going for post-chumping.

    • Totally agree, just want to say that as a physician, we also get stereotyped:
      Type A personality
      Always at work
      Family comes second.
      Likely to cheat when away on conferences, cheat with nurses and so on.

      So, I – and of the course the author of the letter are different:
      Strong family values, not cheating.
      And we got cheated on.
      I think what that means is : Cheaters will cheat, in my case the “you always worked and ignored me” excuse was used.
      I think mentioning the occupation is noteworthy.
      But yes, I thought some of the responses were odd too.

      And in my real life experience – I am not actively dating, but I had a few approaches by women who so clearly saw me as their “financial withe knight”that its actually quite a turn off.

    • It’s still a thing amongst young women. Two cases in point.

      I recently played tennis with a woman in her twenties who works as a teacher. She said she’s looking for a rich husband. No comment.

      Three young women live in the apartment above me and a handsome young British man moved into the backyard cottage for $4,000 per month. He’s rarely there and one of the women (Cl.) asked me about him. I told her I had googled him, learned his father is a hedge fund manager and mum is an arts patron. Mega bucks rich and his family is active in London’s Jewish community. Cl. then said “Oh I should tell Co. (one of her flatmates who happens to be her boyfriend’s younger sister) She’s looking for a rich husband.” Now Co. has a cute face but she’s morbidly obese, not Jewish and doesn’t come from a wealthy family. Some people are delusional.

      I burst out laughing when I read the term hobosexual that somebody in CN coined. Some men can be fortune hunters I guess whilst there are gold digging women out there. Still. Times have changed. Or so I thought.

  • We so get you.

    And it takes longer than you would like to, to get to Tuesday.

    But at least it meant you LOVED. And, thank God the kids are yours.

    Good luck, Cardio

  • It’s interesting to me that OP presents his profession in a negative light. He had to devote lots of time and energy to medical school, he’s busy now that he’s a cardiologist. But… that comes with the territory. Everyone knows medical school is time consuming, that being a doctor is hard. That’s why they pay you enough to buy the nice house. That’s why so many people want to date doctors. It’s absurd that your ex-wife and her family are using “he’s a doctor” against you and have convinced you that there’s something wrong with it. Being a cardiologist is something to be proud of. It’s an asset. I guarantee you there are women out there who would appreciate you much more than the manipulative narcissist who tricked you all those years.

  • Doctor Heart:

    – f*** that bitch, she will never be more than a major a-hole no matter how you try to rationalize anything good out of her.

    – f*** her family too for blaming you

    Any other girl you meet can be anything from Satan’s spawn to Mother Teresa’s super hot mentor, it’s more important that you know how to be in a relationship or a relation-shit….your choice.

    Now get out there and kick some ass. That’s an order!

  • I was in your shoes Cardiac Chump! I was married to a pilot for 25 years and he cheated on me for about 18 of those years with about 40 different women.

    My whole marriage was a lie – and yet I wanted my husband back. I wanted the man I thought I married back and I tried everything to get it. I endured emotional abuse, verbal abuse, gaslighting and financial abuse among a billion other things.

    It took a while – but once he moved out and I was free – I just lived my life – free from all his toxicity. I made my own plans and did my own things with the kids and stayed busy with work and kids and getting things done-ON MY OWN.

    I can’t even imagine being in a relationship and dealing with someone else’s shit. It really makes me want to puke. Now, if Thor walked up to my door, I would be OK with that-but I still wouldn’t want to hear about his kids or his job. Hopefully that will change – but for now I’m miraculously fine all by myself.

    I am just about at MEH. I don’t give a crap what my ex is up to, who he’s with or what exotic place he’s flown to. I know who he really is and I don’t want any part of it.

  • Dr. Cardio,

    There is no HPV test for men.

    Please let the women you have sex with that your wife cheated on you so they have full knowledge of what they’re potentially exposing themselves to.

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