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I Still Want Her Back

Dear Chump Lady,

I am 44, she is 10 years younger. We’ve been together for over 11 years and are married less than 3. I have 3 kids from a previous marriage. She’s been part of their lives for many years, my daughter was just 2 when she entered her life and was like a second mother to her.

I always thought we had an unbreakable bond and love for each other. We got married in 2017, the dream destination wedding she wanted in Florida. A year after our honeymoon, I caught her cheating with her gym instructor. We were lying in bed and I realized she was still up, I rolled over and asked what she was doing on her phone. She said she was playing a game and was heading to sleep soon, I could tell by the reflection in her glasses that she was texting, turns out it was her gym instructor. I turned on the light and demanded her phone. She literally ran out of the house in her pajamas with her phone, deleting everything she could. After 30 minutes, she finally confessed that she kissed him twice, she’s not happy and wants a divorce. The next few days were horrible as the pick me dance started. She told me how fat, disgusting and unattractive I was.

The battle ensued for the next few weeks, me taking and accepting all of the blame and her never really apologizing. I asked her on numerous occasions how I could ever trust her again, she would take my hand, cry and say she saw how much pain she caused me, how she almost lost me and the children and as a person, she could never do something like that again. We never really had too much of a trusting relationship, she cheated twice very early on in the relationship but as my rebound relationship after my first divorce, I couldn’t let go and I moved forward. Over time I forgot about the early occurrences and I do believe good people make bad decisions and mistakes.

Over the next 10 months, we had the best time in the history of our relationship. I got fit, lost a ton of weight, we were active together, traveling, having fun, great sex and true passion and commitment had returned. I never trusted her as much as I trusted her during this time. I had no reason not to. Fast forward to this August, the night before we were leaving for our annual family vacation with the kids to a week at a beach condo. She was on her phone for hours and I asked what she was doing. As soon as I asked, I recognized that look on her face. The look of panic and lies.

I took her phone and walked off to see a text message from the gym instructor again. The same guy she swore she would never see or ever talk to again, the number she swore she deleted from her phone. His text said “when do I get to see your sexy naked body again”. I almost passed out. She came running over and more lies and excuses started.

After we get home, a text message from her arrives, a REALLY long one. It was her confession. She never stopped the relationship with the OP. They had a regular, ongoing emotion affair over the 10 months, it never stopped. Even last year when she was crying to me and telling me how she could never do such a thing again, just as a person she was not capable of that, she was still doing it. My only response to her was for her to leave the house, pack some of her things and her dog and stay at her parents because I could not see her.

The next 2 months were rough and she played games with me. My therapist said I was suffering from PTSD. She became the scared little timid sheep, unable to understand why I was so angry.

It’s been 7 months since that night I saw the text message and I have literally cried every single day. I cry almost every morning, every car ride to and from work, every time I sit at our old dinning room table with my kids and her spot remains empty. I text, email and try to call her, tell her how much I love and miss her. I still beg her to not give up on me and us. She has no feelings towards me anymore, often she won’t respond or even acknowledge anything I say. Many emails and texts have gone unresponded to. I asked her why and she says “it makes me sad when I read your messages”. I guess not sad enough to at least respond. I have said to her so many times that she didn’t even try to save our marriage or help me through all of this, her response is “we did 4 hours of marriage counseling”. On numerous occasions I have asked her to go back to counseling, not give up on us, me and her step children. She doesn’t care, she’s cold and mean and has completely rewritten history to justify her actions. She told me that she’s not asking me for forgiveness for what she’s done over those 10 months.

My heart could not be any more broken. I truly did love this woman, I still do. The fact that she pulled me back into the marriage after the first time she got caught, made me think we were truly in love and she was 100% committed to us, the love notes, the trips, the memories we made and it was all a lie. It was a false reconciliation, it has broken me mentally and emotionally because I truly believed it. I could swear on my life that she was in love with me. That we made it through a horrible low point in our marriage, better than we have ever been. I swear, I still have all the pictures of us together, smiling, kissing and hugging as we traveled, went to concerts, spent time with family and friends, all the things she wanted after she got caught cheating last time.

I have always been a very stubborn person, head strong and goal oriented. I can pick myself up pretty quickly and move forward. This has knocked me on my ass so hard, I can’t get up. It feels like a tsunami of emotions, sadness and despair I can not get out of. 7 months later and I am still in complete shock. Our house has been sold and she dragged me thru mediation, I still don’t hear from her, not thru the holidays or my birthday but stupid me still hopes that she’ll realize what she’s done, realize that she misses me and the kids and will come home. We don’t even have a home anymore to come back to, but as I have pathetically explained to her, home is in our hearts and not a physical place. She didn’t even bother to respond to me. I emailed her that i feel completely humiliated that I am still fighting for her and this marriage, I have faced 5 months of total rejection, isolation, gaslighting and stonewalling but I still won’t give up because I love and miss her tremendously.

I desperately need help from you and the network. I live by a train and everyday I just wish I had the courage to jump in front of it. She has knocked me on my ass so hard, I don’t even have the courage or the energy to do that. I no longer have the energy, mental or emotional capacity or even desire to pick myself back up from this. We had our life’s plan, I was so happily married and in love with my wife. Everything I have read, friends and my therapist have all told me to think positively, do the things I always wanted to do, be the person I was before the marriage and focus on myself and focus self care. I can’t do any of that. After I caught her cheating last year, I lost myself. I poured every ounce of myself into her and our marriage. I lost almost 80 pounds in one year, became some fun extrovert (I’m naturally an introvert), I tattooed half my body (she thought it was sexy and the OP had a ton of tattoos) and my life’s goal became not losing my wife. I have nothing left anymore, my tank is on empty and I really feel like just giving up. I was so happy, I don’t want a new life, I don’t want a new partner, I don’t want to practice self care or explore hobbies. I want to be with my wife, back in our home and continue our life’s plan. I didn’t ask for any of this, I never wanted this and I certainly didn’t want to have to start life all over again at 44.

Please help me understand why I am still crying for her everyday 7 months later. Why I would cry for someone who did this to me, us and my children. I truly feel like I am completely lost with out her. I shared that with her recently and again no response. The most she will say is “I’m sorry you are feeling that way, you should spend time talking to your therapist about this”. This has all broken my heart so badly, and now it’s broken me emotionally and mentally and I need love and support from the group.

I am a smart man, i have faced challenges, adversity and heartbreak before but this has all been too much. This one has knocked me down for the count.

Please help!


Dear Justin,

Get up, Justin. GET UP. So I can hug you. ((((Justin)))). It’s all just a big shit show, isn’t it?

I do believe good people make bad decisions and mistakes.

You’re a good person who’s made some bad decisions and mistakes. First, let’s take stock of your goodness — you’re a man who loves his family with his whole heart. That’s gold. That makes you a stock that trades high. Next, you’re not a quitter. Ordinarily, that a heroic quality — the sort of stoutheartedness that storms the beaches at Normandy, that perseveres in the face of a challenge. Great tool in the life tool box, but not the quality we need for this particular situation. (More on that in a sec.) Third, you’re forgiving. Which is a really hard thing to be.

Now then, I want you to take these three stellar qualities and direct them at yourself and not your ex, okay?

Love your family with your whole heart. Think of your kids, how much they need you. How much they need a strong dad who is present for them. Who isn’t squished under the railroad tracks, but is there every day doing Dad stuff, like telling corny jokes, or telling the teenagers to take showers, or attending school sports banquets. You might have to fake it until you make it, but drag that broken heart to every school function, and SHOW UP. This is a loss for them too, so be a leader and model resiliency to them. Show your kids that THEY possess your heart, not your devious, abusive ex-wife, okay?

Don’t quit. Fight to get over this shitty relationship. You’re worth it. Your kids are worth it. All that energy you were pouring into her, trying to get some serial cheater to love you, direct at yourself. I’m not talking hobbies (but then again, why the hell not? Jigsaw puzzles may be getting me through coronavirus…) I’m not about allocation of resources. You are a PRECIOUS resource. Quit squandering yourself on someone so unworthy. I know you’re tenacious, so be tenacious about getting better, radically accepting what happened and who she is. You’re not going to arrive overnight, it’s a slog, but focus on YOU and quit wishing for impossible things with impossible people.

Forgive yourself. All the humiliating pick me dancing, the begging, the marriage policing? Ugh. It’s a terrible look. It comes from fear. Forgive yourself for giving all your power to an unworthy person. For acting in fear instead of courage. Forgive yourself for spackling over who she really is (a serial cheater, liar, blameshifter). Let it go, and learn from it, okay?

Now, to your bad decisions and mistakes.

Taking her back each time reinforced that she could cheat on you without repercussions. Apologizing to HER let her get away with the lie that this was YOUR fault. Improving yourself for the sake of the pick me dance, also reinforced that entitlement. And no wonder you’re miserable — this is a lousy way to live! You’ve been living off the contact high of intermittent rewards of her “love.” It’s called trauma bonding. All the drama is addictive. It’s like your brain is trying to kick a drug.

The only cure for this is NO CONTACT. Read that again and again and again. The ONLY CURE IS NO CONTACT.

I am the last person in the universe you should write to about how to win a cheater back. I’m telling you STOP WANTING THAT. Stop calling her. Stop humiliating yourself. We can’t control other people, let alone make them love us, or treat us with respect. We just control ourselves. That’s it.

Ask yourself why you — a good faithful man — would want someone as craptacular as your ex? But, but! good quality! But, but happiness! No — that’s like telling me you enjoy cocaine but hate the bankruptcy. You’re bankrupt because you have a coke problem. Learn to live without cocaine.

You want to throw yourself on the railroad tracks, but don’t want to give up your ex — the person who fills you with such depths of despair and misery.

Justin, SANE, healthy loving relationships EXIST. They do! There are people — lovers, friends, even store managers — who will treat you with more respect and kindness than this woman you invested 11 years in does.

Have a healthy relationship with yourself first (see love, don’t quit, forgive yourself), and be open to healthy relationships with others. This whatever it is with your ex is NOT HEALTHY. It’s 77 flavors of fucked up.

I have faced 5 months of total rejection, isolation, gaslighting and stonewalling but I still won’t give up because I love and miss her tremendously.

This sentence is patently absurd.

Do you miss rejection? Isolation? Gaslighting? Stonewalling and general mindfuckery?

They’re a package deal with your ex.

Step away from the hot stove, Justin. DON’T TOUCH IT. Big (((hugs)).

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Hi Justin, I’m still trying to get my head around it, if I were to say “I’ve spent 5 months banging my head against the exterior wall of my house and it’s causing me so much pain and I’m injured.” Surely it would make sense to leave the wall alone, stop hurting yourself?

    I also did some begging for a little while. Then I decided to make a sacrifice for my kids (which is really easy to do because it’s “for the kids”) and I just looked after them no matter how much I was hurting.

    In my case I was more of the stalking kind because he was still lying to me. But anyway I stopped it, stopped bothering with him and bothered with my kids because deep down, I knew they needed me more.

    Anyway, they did really well in school and I healed and he’s just a silly annoying little twat who doesn’t matter.

    • Excellent analogy! I think every chump on here had flashbacks reading your letter.

      -The heartache and despair.

      -The agony of longing

      -The confusion of how the love of your life turned into a cruel stranger overnight.

      -The loss of identity without your partner (who am I now?)

      -That nagging feeling that surely they’re MUST be SOME way to go back to the way things were.

      -Knowing in your heart that you’ll never love anyone like him/her again. (Or so you think)

      -The numb feeling towards things that once brought you joy.

      We’ve all been through this broken, shocked, denial stage, Justin. I was triggered at how well you described it, it’s seared in my memory. I wish I could give you a hug. Listening to your story, to me, is similar when you listen to your teenagers problems with other kids in high school and try to tell them this pain is temporary, but for them, it’s hard to see past the present moment.

      And this pain is… temporary. I know you’re already shaking your head. How long this pain phase lasts depends solely on YOU. No contact takes willpower, it’s not for the feint of heart. Mental strength. You’ve got to cut off your heart from your brain. It’s tough Justin, I know. Good God, do I know.

      I’ve got good news for you, though. YOU are a keeper. Women all over planet earth would KILL for a loving family man like you. (I’m talking cat- fight hair pulling in the grocery aisle.) Here’s where we change your thinking: REMEMBER YOUR WORTH. Remember that you’re a catch because you are. Your worth is not bound to what your trashy ex’s opinion of you is. Got that?

      My dad has a saying, “Consider the Source”. You are allowing a woman who can walk out on her family of 15 years without a glance backward for some gym instructor without any scruples. Her opinion matters not. She’s not on your level.

      You’ve got this backwards – SHE doesn’t deserve YOU. Here’s the kicker- she never did. Water sinks to its level.

      And that the person you are deeply in love with? Here’s a shocker: she doesn’t exist. You’re in love with an non- existant creature. She was faking it for all these years. You fell in love with an act. That woman who is cold and distant now? THAT’S the REAL her. Mind blowing. I know.

      I felt inclined to write this to give you hope. I was you 8 years ago. Stay at home mom of two young ones, married for 10 years, together for 13. Then I discovered the gym instructor. I was a good and faithful wife and he dropped us like a bad habit. I had to start over with $15 in my bank account and two heartbroken kids. He moved out of state and we lost our home. I cried every day for a year. He and AP flaunted their TWU WUV and laughed at me. Mocked me. I thought I couldn’t go on. I felt ugly and worthless. A month after the divorce was finalized, they got married on our anniversary, On purpose. (AND mocked me on Facebook about it.

      Oh, I’ve been through hell. Trust me.

      Fast forward 8 years. I have graduated cum laude while raising my kids all alone. That woman without an education with $15 dollars in her bank account 8 years ago? Well, I make a multiple 6 figure income and run my own business. I’m more successful and richer than they are. Success is the best revenge. ????

      I also met a fellow chump like myself who is the love of my life. He reminds me of you..a GOOD man.

      The kids see him and AP a couple weeks a year, but thei think they’re idiots. ( I raised smart kids and didn’t bad mouth them, they figured them out on their own.)

      So, here is my command to you – FIND YOUR MIGHT! You say you’re a fighter, fight to remember who you are!! Your worth. That guy before the ex came along. He’s still in there, I promise. Get angry.

      Make a new set of goals, hopes and dreams.

      I never thought this would happen to me either, but you know what? I’M GLAD it did. All the pain and struggle I went through turned me into the bad-ass I am today. If I can do it, you can do it, too. 🙂 Become mighty again!

      • If you don’t mind, I’m going to keep this reply in my list of important-things-to-read-when-i-need-them.

        I really appreciate these words.

      • Love this, thank you for this post. I hope he reads it, this helped me ! Xo sweet

        • You’re welcome guys! Going through this is literally like living in a real-life horror movie. The only people who “get” how truly shattering it is are the ones who have experienced it first-hand. In addition to your internal grief, it’s an unbelievably unfair and unjust experience to endure because society either shrugs at infidelity or blames the victim. You feel alone and misunderstood.

          This site saved my life and I’m so incredibly grateful to CL. Remember, you are not alone, CN has got your back!

      • This is a stellar comment…you described the journey we’re all on so well

        Good for you for killing it at life and coming back to show the rest of not only that it’s possible but also specifically how you do it.

        Stay mighty

        • Aww, thanks guys, I’m touched that my story helps you!

          There is a saying, “By and by, we will understand”. Looking back, I realize how mentally abused I truly was. I thought I was happy before but I know now that I wasn’t.

          Someone who truly loved me wouldn’t have blown up my universe without and then drove off into the sunset, willfully blind and deaf to my cries of pain. No, that’s NOT love.

          I knew I deserved someone who had depth and honor… someone just like me. Someone who couldn’t fathom treating other people in such a horrible, callous way.

          Although my ex had this gigantic, ego (that I always fed into) I eventually came to realize that HE was actually the WEAK one. He’s a pathetic, wishy-washy excuse of a man who is shallow enough to throw his family under the bus for some “strange” he met online. Whereas I was a true-blue, ride-or-die human being that would willingly throwing myself under a bus to protect the ones I loved.

          Why would I chase after weak sauce after he showed his true self? Those two deserve each other, he was LUCKY to have me.

          Marriages that start this way, with the gigdy couple stepping over the bodies of loved ones as they walk down the aisle are not likely to be looking lasting happy. Why you may ask? Because they’re two unbelievably selfish people…and selfishness and marriage don’t mix well.

          I have a saying, “Trash loves trash, trash throws quality away”. Trashy people can’t relate to quality people. They envy and resent your shine, so that’s why they try to diminish you. They KNOW that you’re a better person than they are, so they seek out other trashy people because it feels more familiar.

          Then, because of their secret envy, they enjoy destroying you on their way out. They THRIVE on watching your pain. They delight in crushing you because they know they can’t compare to your goodness. You’re everything they could never be and they hate you for it. They want to ruin you. Kind of like the wicked queen in Snow White.

          No contact isn’t for them, it’s for you. I’ve actually made a funny game of how short I can make my coparenting app responses: “No.” “Yes.” “Okay, 5:00”. We roar with laughter replying to the ranting messages with as little verbiage as possible. If you want to get under their skin, IGNORE THEM. It drives them fucking crazy. ???? I only respond to valid questions concerning the children. Most of the time, I’ll just completely ignore the nutty messages all together. It makes him crazy that he can’t rile me up anymore. It’s hilarious.

          No contact actually becomes fun and powerful. Take back your power!!

          • I am so sorry about what you went through. I am going through almost the exact same. Sorry if I sound too cynical, but I hear this all the time:”relationships that start like this end soon/don’t end well/are doomed”.
            But the truth is: They have been together for 8 years. That is a long time. You are still here, so it means you still care. I had infertility. I was on every single possible infertility online support group. The moment I got pregnant, that was it. Sometimes I don’t even remember I had problems conceiving. And the way I feel today (almost 3.5 years after being left for the love of my life of 20 years), it’s like it was yesterday for me most of the time. He is still with the downgrade he left me for, still hating me for I don’t know what since he was the one that spoiled what I thought was perfect. And, I am SURE, they will be the ones marring in my wedding anniversary as well. So, my question not just for you, but for Chump Nation is: Is there really a light at the end of the tunnel? Are they really the “unhappy” ones? Or they simply don’t care and we are collateral damage? All I see are friends being left behind and their exes (men or women) living the life I see people saying one day I will have. But, frankly, I don’t know anyone who managed to be happy after suffering what we had. I really wish I could believe but the more time passes the more I see my life is tainted in a way that I find impossible to fix.

            • I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a similar hell. BIG HUGS. I always check back on this site because I absolutely adore Chump Lady and Chump Nation. Occasionally I see a CL email pop up and enjoy the articles she posts. This site truly saved me, so I will always lurk on here.

              I think the point would be this: Who cares of they are happily married forever? I honestly don’t care if my two idiots stay married for 60 years. They’ll always be rotten people. The end of their story doesn’t matter. The goal is to shift the focus onto your new future sans the losers.

              As for me, I’ve accepted the crappy hand I was dealt and have (somewhat) made peace with it. I don’t think any of us here will ever be “cool” with the people who caused us and our children so much pain and skipped off without any consequences. It’s annoying on dooneese level.

              I wear my struggles as a badge of honor. I was tough enough to endure hell and overcome it. I like my story of surviving and thriving against all odds.

              Life is not ruined forever, you just have to reinvent your new future.

      • You made me cry, I’m so happy for you! Such an amazing story, thank you for sharing!!

    • Good analogy with banging your head against a wall Midlife. That helps put things in perspective.

    • Hey , it seems impossible at the moment when you want her back and life seems so empty with the one you want is no longer there. Even your beautiful kids won’t ease the pain yet, but like a lot of people on here you will stumble through your journey and in time build a new life with no a cheating waister , you won’t see this yet but it will come, I wish you well my friend as I have walked that journey too

  • No contact IS the key. I spent wayyyyy too many months in contact with my cheating ex wife after she bailed out and left me and our daughter. Weekends sitting on the deck waiting and waiting for a reply to my text. UGH!! Finally after enough internet reading and YouTube videos and finally Chump Lady it hit me that NC was the answer. (NC was much easier in the 80’s lol, no social media or cell phones..and I realized back then I had gotten over heartbreak much quicker) it’s been I don’t know how long I’ve had no contact with her, I’ve just lost track. Used to count the days (30 days NC etc) eventually becomes normal NOT to communicate. Judging by her responses and non responses she’s DONE. Time to move forward buddy! (I was 49 when this happened to me, you’ll be fine! Lots of life left!)

    • Justin, I feel badly for you. I’m offering you the sympathy and encouragement you requested. This is a terrible situation. One that you can change!

      You can fix this. Look what you have already done. Lost eighty pounds, got fit, tatted up, went to therapy. Now do that for you. Put you and the kids first.

      That woman you cry over. She does not love you or those kids. She is a whore. Whores are not capable of love. Purge that whore from your mind.”MENTALLY Divorce” that whore. She is no prize.

      You are going to get through this. I found journaling, gym time and therapy made all the difference for me. Get you a therapist who agrees Adultery is abuse. Put your energy into yourself and those abandoned children.

      Block her. She is very bad for you. She does not love you. She is a whore. You deserve better.

      • This^^^^. She is a whore. Like mine is. A lying cheating whore. …… man that feels good

      • Block her Justin!! You absolutely must go No Contact in order to heal. We all will tell you this. Just like an addiction, you MUST stop taking the drug else you will never heal. Even little trace amounts of the drug will keep you addicted. After you’ve gone a long time of No Contact, you will stop and say to yourself, “I can NOT believe I was going to kill myself over a FUCKING WHORE!!!” Trust us. You WILL say that. Your children need you to be a great example of loving themselves. The only way they’ll do it is if you love yourself and not allow a fuckwit to ruin you. You have only one chance to make your children well in the head. Don’t mess it up by focusing on the whore.

      • I was talking to my cousin the other day, he is one of those people that are, to put lightly, extremely blunt, and as I was talking about the OW my husband left me for he told me this:” Listen, I’m not condoning cheating of any kind, I’ve cheated on a girlfriend and she left me when she found out and I felt like the stupidest person on earth. But no way I would have engaged in a relationship with that woman because I would be even more stupid. That being said, anyone that cheats is an idiot, now, a man (or woman) that cheats (in my case she was a co-worker) and leaves his family, wife, and kids, for that woman is a complete moron. The woman /man that accepts a relationship with a married man/woman is a whore without scruples, moral compass, you name it…. he sucks, but she sucks as well because she chooses to take part in this. Would you go to a strip club to find a wife? Exactly! HE IS AN IDIOT! And she is already below zero so don’t even think about comparing yourself to her because you’re up in the sky. True? Yes! But today, for example, I am feeling like you, exactly like you minus the begging, I know he is done and if anything would make him change his crazy mind, I’m sure begging is not on the list. I am walking around like a depressed zombie, maybe it’s the social isolation because of this damn virus or maybe it’s bad PMS, I feel your pain like you have no idea, our stories are very similar, only mine lasted 20 years filled with joy until he left and became a monster. Part of the struggle I realized is accepting you married a monster. You had kids with a monster. You’re a candidate for a Dateline NBC episode. This is something that makes me feel cursed, lonely, misunderstood (he is a high executive and keeps the good guy mask for everyone else), it’s also about accepting this. I’m “one of THOSE people”, I thought I got a prince and I got the ugliest most venomous frog in the world.

    • I’m a 49 year old in NC for coming up to 3 months after a 2 year relationship with the love of my life. And he’s fading away surprisingly quickly.
      It’s the best way.
      I couldn’t do this with my 17 year relationship because we share a child. He had an affair with one of my best friends. I’ve been to hell and back.
      We are ok nowadays, friendly even.
      Life is tough but these people are like addictions, you have to go cold turkey.
      Good luck!!! You can do it. Get into YOU Justin

  • It is definitely the trauma bond that is making you miss her, Justin. You are just 7 months out. I cried every day, too, for around that amount of time. I am 19 months out now, and I do not miss him. I still think about the illusion I had sometimes, but I have moved on. See a therapist to help you heal from this. It is rough. Very rough. But you will get to the other side. No contact is key.

  • No contact is the way to recovery.
    I didn’t know there were people like this- your ex and mine.

    Thank god you and me got the kick in the ass we need. Those people suck. It doesn’t matter why.

    My life and my relationship with myself is good – so good – today. You will get there too. Now get on with your half tattooed bad ass self. She ain’t worth it; you are.

  • Justin, how are your kids reacting to the cheating and the split? Your ex has been a part of their life for over a decade but you only mention the impact on them incidentally.

    By focusing all of your energy on winning back your ex and contemplating suicide, you’re sending a message to them (even if you don’t explicitly say it) that this cheating bitch has more value to their Dad than they do. I don’t think that’s a message you want them to internalize.

    Also, if your kids are hurting from this divorce, then you need to be supportive and emotionally available to them. Their whole world just changed and they need you to help them process this.

    But on the off chance that your kids are pissed off at your ex or coping remarkably well under the circumstances, then maybe you need to follow THEIR lead.

    • Agreed. Say more about the kids— I feel like they are kind of minimized in this account (edited for space maybe?). Your children need you!!!! This is hard on them seeing their dad destroyed. You can do this!!

      No contact! Read up on disordered people. Look to the awesome Chump Dads of CN for the way forward.

  • Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and be an example to your children of how a man overcomes hardship and heartache. Because believe me they are watching everything you do. Block that woman from your phone and anything else you can. That way the ball is in YOUR court and you are taking control of the communication of which there should be none anyway. If you feel you need to say something to her, tell a friend or text it to yourself. That way you get it out of your system but she doesn’t see it.

  • Yes on the crying every day for months, trauma bonding, fear and wanting to wreckoncile at any costs.

    Somewhere in it all, though, I told myself “If he can see how much pain Im in and ever do this again, it will prove to me (with no doubt whatsoever) that his definition of “marriage” and mine are too different to ever bridge that gap”.

    The fact that she came up with that “I could never do this to you again” while DOING IT shows a degree of fuckedupness that is hopelessly unworkable. I only realized that my sitch was hopelessly unworkable after the fact because after he died, I learned that the other affairs were prior to the big one I discovered, not after.

    It also took me YEARS to understand that the real reason behind all the millions of things I could not explain or understand were that he REALLY DID suck THAT much…he was THAT selfish and manipulative. He wanted a spouse who met many needs to be in a little corner and behave while he did whateverthefuck he wanted. That was who he was and nothing I ever did or said would change that and he was so accustomed to blaming me for everything that he would never ever ever treat me with kindness or fairness, ever.

    So now you know and Im so sorry.

  • I’m going to point out that while Justin absolutely does not deserve this, he also took up with a 22 year old girl when he was a 33 year old man. That difference is huge at that age…..likely he’d lived his life but she hadn’t.

    So she’s trying to make up for it now. This makes her poor partner material. Best to go no contact and heal, then he can find a more compatible partner.

    • I reread the letter. 33 old guy who’s divorced with 3 kids takes up with 23 year old girl.

      Not a good idea, even with someone with good character. She doesn’t have good character.

      Find a compatible partner.

      I’m sorry….I know it hurts. You don’t have kids with her so you can go full no contact.

    • That is exactly what I thought, a 22 year old girl hooked up with a man 10 years her senior with a family. She never really got to go out and raise hell, get her heart broken, have god awful dates that she and her friends could laugh over and a bunch of other stuff. According to the chump he is an introvert by nature so a 22 year old became a homebody with a ready made family. I’m not condoning her cheating and her poor behavior, she’s 34 years old and should know better, just that these relationships (older man/younger woman) should come with a warning label. If they had hooked up when she was 34 and he was 44 that would have been smarter. The chump also states he got fit, which is always a plus no matter what the circumstances, but he also got a lot of tattoos and lead a life that is not really his style. This was a pick me dance on steroids, again we all know how that normally turns out.

      • What matters Justin is that there’s no way to justify her ACTIONS. It had nothing to do with age, size, or being introverted. It has to do with a lack of character on her part. She strung you along and you believed she could change because you’re forgiving and cherished your life together. She’s trash.

        You on the other hand want to fight for what you invested in, your family. The PAIN is finite. I didn’t believe it but it’s true.

        You have a trauma bond with a cluster B. It’s what allows her to be indifferent to your pain. And you’re thinking of suicide? Call a hotline, speak to a therapist who gets Stockholm Syndrome in relationships. For gods sake you deserve BETTER. Tell your kids the TRUTH that she cheated.

        Focus on how to stop loving an abusive spouse in therapy. That’s the support you need. Life gets better. You will be ok. The grieving process is hard. Fight for yourself.

  • No contact is definitely the key, but also, train yourself to see the bad in your relationship. I watched a video once about overcoming heartbreak, and this was the truth that really stuck with me… that the grieving often centers around an ideal of the relationship that didn’t really exist. I was guilty of this not only with the EX, but even with bad relationships with Switzerland friends. I would pour some heartfelt words into an email expecting someone to read it and finally understand. I would even start thinking that the lack of response meant that they were thinking it over carefully… as no doubt I would do in their place. Then I’d finally get some vague answer that showed that they didn’t even really read it.

    I started to get better when I began to truly tell myself, “You know, he wasn’t really all that special.” And I let myself remember all the times he left on Saturday morning and didn’t come back until evening with no real explanation of where he’d been. And all the times he lied about money. And how he was such a slob and I was always cleaning up after him. And he couldn’t plan for shit. I always had to do all the planning, and then he complained about me being controlling. And how he never got me anything nice for my birthday, but I had to practically throw a parade for his birthday….

    Make a list. I know you loved her, but I’m sure she was shit. You just kept overlooking that. So take off the rose-colored glasses, and actually look at her. What an immature, nasty, deceitful bitch. She married an older guy who had no tattoos, and then.. what, she is mad because you are older, maybe a little out of shape, and had no tattoos? How is she planning to handle you getting arthritis in a few years when she can’t even stop chasing other men just because you put on a few pounds?

    And of course, that was a lie, because you lost the weight and tattooed up, and … oh, look, she’s still a cheater! Get angry… angry enough to turn around and walk away. You are waiting for a vapid, shallow person to develop character. Well, she’s had 11 years to do that. That’s long enough.

    • Yes, make a list. Not of things you loved, but negative things. I did this when I got divorced. I called it the It’s Not Okay list.

      -It’s not okay that he leaves a mess in the kitchen every morning because he never puts away the food or cleans up after himself.

      -It’s not okay that he lied about drinking with a woman “friend” of his who never invites me to go out, only him.

      -It’s not okay that he got fired for sexual harassment at work because he brought up polyamory to a female coworker.

      Etc, etc.

      Things that are unacceptable behaviors to you. Dealbreakers, lies, whatever. This list is meant to break the idealistic vision of her. Knock the pedestal down, and remind you that it is healthy to have dealbreakers and boundaries and things you can say NO to.

      Do NOT send her this list. It is for YOU.

  • For some reason I’m kinda curious how his first marriage ended… ????

    • Me too… the “I have 3 kids from a previous marriage. She’s been part of their lives for many years, my daughter was just 2 when she entered her life and was like a second mother to her” sets off alarm bells for me.

      Not that it isn’t equally possible his first wife was a cheater too. When we chumps don’t fix our picker we make the same mistakes again and again.

      • He said that she was his rebound after his divorce so it doesn’t sound like his relationships were concurrent. Since he was 33 when they met, it’s likely that he got married very young and that’s probably why his marriage didn’t work out. This 23 year old was probably so attractive because it seemed like an opportunity to reconnect with his lost 20s

      • Throw in a 33 year old divorced guy with 3 little kids going after a 23 year old girl.

        I may be projecting because my ex was like this but IME men who sniff out inappropriately younger women have their own immaturity and self esteem issues. Therapy might help with this.

        • Yes, you’re projecting. Let’s give support instead of judgement when a chump is in the paralysis state and needs our respect and support.

          • Interesting. So we can’t both provide support for his pain and call him out on his poor choices?

            I thought this site was about hard truths. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a 33 year old divorced guy with 3 little little kids pursuing a 23 year old girl?

            Do you think you’re doing him a favor by allowing him to avoid his own choices?

            • He was in an 11 year relationship. She lied, cheated and he forgave her : which one of us hasn’t done the humiliation dance?

              Here’s what you might have missed. “I desperately need help from you and the network. I live by a train and everyday I just wish I had the courage to jump in front of it.”

              He still loves his abuser and her age has NOTHING to do with cheating. He needs help and I am in agreement that you’re projecting as you stated. He desperately needs help and not pokes about bad choices, his tattoos or anything else that makes him feel less than he already does. He’s the victim, not a cheater, he’s a man in tremendous pain. I stand by my post.

            • I agree with DoingMe. There is a time and place for tough love. It is not when someone desperately asks for support and is suicidal. We sound no better than our exes if our response to that is “[shrug], they need to hear it.”

            • I think people are being harsh about the age. While 23 is young, some people marry and start families at this age. I had my second child at 25. 23 years old is not a child. I don’t find a 10 year age gap inappropriate. Perhaps, she wasn’t ready for all those responsibilities but now we are blaming the chump. As women, this bothers us so I think we are projecting a bit. We all picked poor spouses, which is why we are here.

      • Me three. That, the age difference and his incredibly over-the-top reaction to the break up (and believe me – it has to seem over-the-top if I’m saying it- I was catatonic for pretty much two straight years after the a-hole I adored for 25 yrs of marriage got caught in a 4 year affair and abandoned me and our kids when he was found out) seems very odd when he talks about his first marriage without even mentioning the first wife. Could it be he’s a cheater who can’t believe he’s been cheated on? Is the reaction more true love or incredulity of a narcisist?

        I really think this letter is only one fraction of this story. And I totally agree with the post that pointed out a 22 yr old hasn’t lived life. She may have loved the idea of playing “house” with ready made kids and a husband, but she quickly started to long for someone more her speed, fitness level and age.

        And really – who tattoos have their body just to keep someone?

        Snap out of it, as Cher said with the virtual slap in the face to go with it. There’s a world of women out there – and I’ve never met the man yet who can’t get at least a few of them to want to marry them. Man up, buddy – man up.

        • I don’t know if this chump was a cheater but this story is a good indicator of what happens when a cheating husband leaves for a much younger woman. The younger woman will generally become bored, resentful and eventually look for younger options.

          • I’ve seen that happen even when cheating isn’t involved. The thrill of being with an older partner wears off quickly and the reality of the age gap sets in.

            A ten year gap isn’t such a big deal with older people, like 44 to 54, or 50’s to 60’s. But 23 to 33, it’s an age gap, difference in life experience, maturity, career position, etc. I’m not even really friends with anyone younger than 26 now (I’m 32.) Not that I couldn’t be, but largely the life experience difference is staggering sometimes. The interests of a 22 year old are just not shared.

            I wouldn’t be shocked if the cheating ex in this scenario started to feel she’d lost her 20’s, and the shine of playing house wore off.

            Which that’s NOT an excuse. There are 1,000 ways she could have ended it honestly with respect to him and those children.

            But I agree the age difference, it starting as a rebound, and his continued attempts to beg her back mean he doesn’t just need to go no contact (before she blocks him, which eventually she will) it means he needs to think about what relationships mean to him and what he actually needs in his life.

            • Ex asshat cheated on me with a coworker just a few years younger but after a few years divorced he married a woman who wasn’t even born when we got married; we were married 24+ yrs. Gotta wonder.

              • While every circumstance is different, the general rule is younger women that get involved with an older man generally look for financial security. You don’t find too many older men flipping burgers or greeting you at Walmart being pursued by younger women. If the older man is fit and decent looking that is always a plus. However, sooner or later the younger woman will grow bored and resentful. She will resent being dependent on the older man even though she created and even wanted this life. Men can look pretty good till their early 60’s but then I don’t care how fit you are, age wins.

          • Some of your guys responses are incredibly presumptuous and also cruel…we’re here to support other chumps. See Rebecca’s comment as an example to help, rather than twist the knife even deeper.

            • Actually we’re here to support chumps and to help people get healthy.

              That means imploring them to own their own choices, whether that means pick me dancing, spackling, or pursuing partners that aren’t a good prospect.

              Coddling doesn’t help.

              • Time and place Kim. Jesus Christ who decides to be brutally honest when someone is suicidal. A fucking narc does, that’s who.

              • I think the point Kim is trying to make is going no contact isn’t enough in this situation.

                We all can agree that’s the first thing he needs to do. But it can’t just end there.

                He has admitted this is a second marriage, and she was a rebound at the age of 23. He needs to not do this again. No rebounds, no partners significantly younger than him. Having a partner a decade older and not feeling comfortable with the arrangement anymore IS a fair reason to end a relationship, it is NOT a fair reason to cheat. We can all agree she has no excuse for cheating. If she felt the age difference and life she signed up for were not the reality she wanted and she felt unhappy about it, she could have approached it with honesty, she did not. That makes her someone who cannot be trusted, who lacks character, and isn’t worth his time or life. Nobody is trying to excuse her.

                What we ARE saying is starting another relationship with someone far younger in an attempt to fill the space left by a previous relationship is not healthy, and he shouldn’t do it again. This is Fix Your Picker.

                We’re also saying that he bases the value of his life on what his partners think of him, and without that approval, he falls into very deep depression and desperation to please. I.E. tattooing half his body because the Other Man had tattoos. He now permanently has these tattoos, yet she is still gone. She still didn’t stop cheating. She still kept lying. I have 13 tattoos myself, so I have no problem with tats, the thing is, he drastically altered his body, not for himself or his own health or because he wanted to, he did it for her hoping to get her approval because he thought that would make her love him.

                That’s not a healthy thing either. We’ve all heard of trauma reactions/fear responses “Fight, Flight, Freeze” but there is also “Fawn.” “Fawners” respond to fear or traumatic situations by becoming SUPER pleasers. Fawners don’t just Pick Me Dance, they throw entire Pick ME Dance marathons, Grand Pick Me Balls, Pick Me on Ice. Pick Me on Broadway. They don’t just shrink their needs, they eliminate them entirely, hoping the person discarding them will suddenly love them, stop hurting them, come back. When that doesn’t work, and often it doesn’t, their sense of stability and self-worth is shattered and left in shambles.

                Justin is a Fawner. He needs to work on his sense of identity and self worth without a relationship. No rebounds, no matter what their age. He needs to find himself without trying to please someone else or without someone telling him who to be.

                Which will take individual therapy. While his ex is a POS, she IS correct when she says “That’s something you should talk to your therapist about.” She doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot of room to be telling anyone what to do with their lives, but he does need to be talking about these things with a therapist, not texting them to her.

                The lack of responses from her will get longer and longer, and eventually they will stop entirely. If he doesn’t build some kind of emotional safety for himself, what will he do when that happens?

          • Oh, how I wish you were right. My ex is 43 and the OW 33 never married and no kids. But he is successful, from a rich family, she is less than a plain Jane (some people we know laugh when I show them her pic) , from a poor family and there is no way in hell she will leave him. I am (sorry for saying this but people tell me “very good looking, super wife, mom, smart, loyal) and still here I am at Chumpland. There is no reasoning with these looneys.

  • Justin,

    I’m really, truly sorry this is where you wound up. Everyone here lives thru some version of this and many are survivors and happy. I know that concept is too far away right now.

    First, about that train…been there myself. My therapist told me that the day I decided to have children was the day I gave up the right to take my own life. She made me promise I would not hurt myself in any way. At times that promise was sooo hard to keep. I’m a good person, unlike the schmucks we married, so my word is my bond.

    Be easy on yourself right now. You are in such early days. You will look back and wonder how you are even getting up every day! This is the worst of it – it won’t get better for a very long time- but it also won’t get much worse.

    That mediation? Is the divorce final? You MUST get an opinion from a great divorce lawyer befor signing. She’s a liar, a cheat, a shitty person and any other adjective you want to add…why would you trust her in a mediation? The answer is you shouldn’t!

    You’re having dinner at a table with your 3 children? You don’t know how lucky you are! Gratitude starts with counting all the healthy, present things in your life and counting those 3 blessings. Yes, I’m many years out but my kids think I’m the strongest, most amazing, most competent person on the planet and that feels pretty great!

    You MUST listen to Chump Lady and go no contact. It’s the only way. I’m sorry. No one wants to hear that. ????. Whenever you want to call or text or email, hold an ice cube or clean the bathroom. That breaks the mental cycle. Those are DBT tricks to help you cope.

    In these early days, try to focus on no contact and making sure your “mediation” is best for YOU. Find a good therapist to talk to. Crying in the car is standard so don’t feel bad about it.

    This place and the people here are the ones to reach out to instead of your cheater. We care, we understand and will help you get through this!

    • I hope one of these DBT skills helps you get to “no contact”.

      Distress Tolerance Skills – Distraction

      A.C.C.E.P.T.S is another great activity. Negative feelings will usually pass or lessen to some extent over time. If you distract yourself until the emotions subside, you may be able to better handle things.

      A – Activities. Try engaging in activities that require thoughts and concentration. This might be doing a hobby, working on a project or doing something else.

      C – Contributing. Focus on something other than yourself. For example, you can try volunteering or doing a good deed or anything else similar.

      C- Comparisons. Compare your situation to someone else who may have it worse. You can also remember a time when you were in more pain or when someone else was going through a difficult time.

      E – Emotions. Try an activity that creates a competing emotion like watching a funny movie, or listening to soothing music.

      P – Pushing Away. Try writing down negative thoughts on a piece of paper and crumbling it up and throwing it away. Refuse to think about the situation until a better time.

      T – Thoughts. Focus on your thoughts when emotions take over. Count to ten, write a poem or read a book.

      S – Sensations. Distract yourself with physical sensations like wearing a rubber band and snapping it on your wrist or holding an ice cube in your hands. You can also try eating something sour like a lime.

      • I am so sorry Justin. You deserve better. So do I. Didn’t want to be divorced, didn’t want to be alone, didn’t want to be without my husband. I tolerated cheating and lying for 44 years, because I truly loved the man. I finally woke up from my “fog” of abuse and left 7 months ago. I am 61, and am getting me back. I didn’t even realize I had lost myself until I left and went no contact. You cannot be with a dishonest, disloyal, self-absorbed partner without losing yourself. They suck your life force and energy. You lose your identity and become part of them. Trauma bond. You are a good man. Focus on you and your kids, go no contact (why does she get to continue abusing you?) one day you will wake up and start feeling like YOU again and trust me it’s the best feeling in the world.

      • LOTS of great stuff in there, Rockin Reasonable Righteous Rebecca!

        THANK YOU!!


  • You can’t make someone love you and she doesn’t love you. I doubt if she ever did. The math says that she was 23 when you two began your relationship. She probably thought it was so romantic to be involved with an older man. She is now 34 and is ghosting you. She can’t have been any clearer. What I just wrote feels cruel but we want you to let go. She is gone. Just let go. You love deeply. There will be someone out there who will cherish that, and you. Give yourself a chance to find her.

  • I love baseball for the life lessons.

    Three strikes and you’re out is a very good one for many situations. I’ve amended it to one strike when it comes to cheating and lying.

    Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. No one can tell you what to do, but I personally think giving someone another chance after finding out they cheated on you is sufficiently generous and magnanimous, above and beyond the call of duty.

    Without trust and safety, you don’t have a relationship. You have an entanglement (aka trap, snare, net….which to me is one explanation of why it’s hard to get away….)

    • PS….

      You’re using your stubbornness on the wrong issue. Example, instead of using my stubbornness to prove I could drink and use drugs, I used my stubbornness to stop drinking, using drugs, smoking, and trying singlehandedly to have a successful marriage with a “man” who was drilling holes on the starboard side of the boat while I was preoccupied with bailing on the port side.


      “but as my rebound relationship after my first divorce, I couldn’t let go and I moved forward.”

      Bingo. I suspect there’s a lot of grief from that on top of how you’re feeling now. That’s how unresolved grief works. The payoff of a rebound relationship is to avoid grief. THERE IS NO GETTING AROUND IT. THROUGH IT IS THE ONLY WAY OUT. That means being on your own. Scary but so worth it!! Major delayed gratification!

      “Over time I forgot about the early circumstances.”

      “I never trusted her as much as I trusted her during this time. I had no reason not to.”

      See “denial” and “over time I forgot”
      You had MANY reasons not to trust her!
      I don’t trust her just from your letter!
      (You deserve trust and safety!)

      You can have the life you want. You can’t have it with her. I found out at 55 that my life (half of it!) was a lie, a castle built on quicksand. I’ve come to realize it’s not HIM I am mourning; it’s the dream. That took a LOT of time to realize. WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU WANT IN A PARTNER.
      Then ask, is she it? Not “could she be it?”
      I’ll bet she fails the test spectacularly.

      As a stubborn person who wants a dream, I can also be a person that wants to control my feelings and NOT FEEL GRIEF.
      I need to remember to use that strength and stubbornness to TOLERATE THE GRIEF, which is the ONLY road out of it.

      I am sorry for your loss and your pain. This is the ICU with people who understand and will help you. You don’t go to the butcher for bread. You don’t ask for five dollars from someone you know is broke. You don’t ask your XW for what she crystal clearly plainly obviously does not have and therefore cannot give you. As long as you keep asking her, you are preventing yourself from healing and someday meeting someone who can.
      Right now that person is YOU.

      WONDERFUL PEOPLE DON’T HAVE AFFAIRS. Hold out for authentic wonderful.

      Beyond Betrayal: Life After Infidelity | Psychology Today

      Cheating in a Nutshell: What…


  • Lying to you is ok with her, Justin.

    Putting you at risk is ok with her.

    Hurting your heart is ok with her.

    Putting the children in a terrible situation and hurting their hearts is ok with her.


    How do I know? I know because I know that when I see that I have done a thing that has brought harm to a person I care about, I change my behavior because it is not ok with me to hurt the person. Of I wasn’t willing to change the behavior for the long term, that would be a clear statement that I’m ok enough with the harm I caused to keep causing it, that something else I want is more important to me than not causing the harm.

    No matter how sad she acts, or thinks she is, the bottom line is that she’s ok enough with it to keep doing it.

    So, she will.

    Whether you love her or not, all of the data indicates that this is her normal and she has no intention of changing it. If not for yourself, then for your children, you absolutely must remove the source of harm from your home and rebuild a new, more solid foundation for yourself. (Of course, you do still need to learn and embrace your own value enough that letting someone harm you is no longer a viable option in your mind, but that takes time. In the short term, it’s on you to make life sane and stable for the children.)

    You can, and must, do this. You are mighty. How do I know? Because you’ve weathered a brutal storm and you’re still reaching out, still in the game.

    So grab that Dad cape and some Kleenex and get to work, Hero! You have a support base here and you can do this.

  • I agree with the others Justin, no contact is the only way. The only thing that worries me about no contact, though, is that narcs love/need to be the centre of your attention so if you truly go no contact she might start throwing out kibbles, just to get you on the hook again. Remember she’s a slut with no morals (3 affairs that you know of so far). You have to have some self-respect – if not for yourself (right now) but for your kids. Your kids need you. Good luck. I know you don’t think so right now but you CAN do this!

  • All that attention you are giving her is like oxygen to a fire – she’s eating it up! And she’s LAUGHING at you. cut off the oxygen supply today!

  • “Please help me understand why I am still crying for her everyday 7 months later. Why I would cry for someone who did this to me, us and my children.“

    I think many people experience in miniature what you described in your letter. CL referenced trauma bonding. I take my own instance of this to have been like an intense terrified need to get back to what was, even for a moment. Like the relief of coming up for air as an attacker, hands around your throat, is submerging you under water. If only for brief moments within the experience of trauma, an experience that seems to make all future irrelevant if not impossible while you’re in it, we get to feel normal again for a bit. But as we get our footing, gradually the future returns. First as a bleak reality and then in time it begins to brighten. And as this happens, the need to re-experience what once was (but never really was) diminishes.

    But you have experienced worse. Yours has seemingly only intensified. And you ask why. Of course I’m no expert, and I would recommend that you do research trauma bonding, but as I read your letter I thought that this is a person (you) who was long ago trained for this abused role. This wasn’t “just” trauma. This wasn’t actually about this particular woman either, or this detail or that detail. It was more like it was about how you were “wired” to begin with. It just seemed like you had plenty of correct rational conclusions but all of them were linked almost immediately to really maladaptive emotional reactions. In my opinion that only happens in childhood. I would look there for a source you believed consciously that you could trust, maybe even believe is beyond reproach, but who actually is manipulative and broken however well they dress it up. There is probably a source there where all the solid values you know and actually live by were linked to an invalid reward system. Its as though you learned well the surface level of lessons in decency and goodness, and for you they are very real, but you tied them to the comfort and reward system of an abused slave where really vile scraps are gold. You’re left satisfied with, nay you chase, the deficient “love” of a truly broken person. This ex-wife is actually pretty irrelevant, except for the fact that she has proven to be someone who can act legitimate but be illegitimate. The combination you “need”. Like CL aptly describes, an addiction to a destructive drug. But to add to this, I think the addiction was formed elsewhere. She’s just the current supplier.

    However wrong this all might be (but there’s strong value in researching trauma bonding), the point is to figure out yourself. Your solution lies in you, not her or anyone like her. You can learn why you “tick” the way you do and alter it for the benefit of yourself and your kids. You are clearly a very good person. We all need you and more like you in this world.

    • Attachment to the Perpetrator. Often in trauma bonding the original wounds are being replicated and exacerbated by contemporary events, likely in this case to be marital betrayal.

      Knowing that doesn’t stop the pain and points a way out it.

  • Justin,
    You have to realize what you’re going through is just like grieving a death. You’re grieving the death of the person you thought was your wife. Your mind is coming to grips with the concept that the person you married no longer exists. Actually she never did exist. You made her a whole, loving person in your mind. But she never really was that person.

    It’s also a bit of a mindfuck because you still see her in the flesh and you still associate her with all the loving feelings you had (and have) for her. But that person is a stranger who has been living an entire life apart from you. She wants and needs that other life more than she wants and needs you. She’s only willing to allow you to stay in her orbit if you accept a secondary role to her other men. That’s not the person you invested your love in. In fact you need to realize that’s not the kind of person you would ever be attracted to.

    Your mind is still catching up to this new information. It’s called cognitive dissonance and it takes us humans a while as our brain has to reprogram itself. The grief and crying and roller coaster of feelings is part of working through the cognitive dissonance.

    I hope you can take solace in the fact that countless people have experienced what you’re now experiencing and they have gotten through to the other side. It takes time and understanding. Be a best friend to yourself and learn to practice self care and self love. If this notion is foreign to you, simply ask “How would my best friend treat me at this time?”. Your best friend would buy you to a nice meal and keep reminding you that you’re worth more and that the proper course is to rid your life of a cheater. Your best friend would make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, that you eat sensibly, and that you exercise regularly

    You’re processing a lot of pain and grief, but one day you will be a better, stronger person for having gone through this, and you also will possess a rare wisdom.

    Godspeed on your journey. A lot of people here are testament to the fact that you can (and will) get through this and you will be a better, more attractive person as a result. The destination is “meh” and you’ll more than likely get there on a Tuesday.

  • Chump Lady and Chump Nation are correct, as usual. You need to treat this like a drug addiction. I found a great article on Elephany Journal about how out brains release the same chemical in an abusive relationship as they do with drug addiction. I treated this like drug addiction. I went no contact right away. Even hearing their voice or seeing a text can release those bonding chemicals and you need to break that. I looked for other sources of those chemicals, dopamine and oxytocin, and used them every day. Things like getting outside, caffeine, massage and acupuncture, hugging a pet or a kid, eating healthy, yoga. It worked. I was over the crazy in three months. I am now on month four from the last DDay and I feel joy almost every day. You can too.

  • These situations are so not fair. All we want, when something horrific like this happens, is for things to go back to the way they were, to normal, when we were ‘happy’. And that’s what you’re trying to do, slot everyone back into their role again, you the faithful, loving husband, and her the wife you love.
    But she’s not that person, she probably never was. She let you build a life around her, and if you look carefully and truthfully, I bet you’ll start to see that she was on a bit of a free ride, that it was a bit one-sided, that she ‘let’ you look after her, without her necessarily making sure what she gave in return was equitable. Often younger woman are dazzled by the more experienced older man, or they like that he has more life resources accrued than her younger peers. As others have said, I am sure if you go no contact and let yourself move a bit and heal, you’ll start to have little insights into the ways she was a lazy partner, and didn’t pull her weight in the relationship.
    You also sound super capable, and someone who is used to solving life’s problems with tenacity, persistent effort and in this case by using these qualities to mould yourself to your ex’s requirements. Your ego is basically being stubborn and saying, I will not give up! I want what I want, I was happy and I want that time back, even if it means being in the matrix and living an illusion. You sure as hell won’t feel it now, but this has been a gift, really. A gift wrapped in a turd sandwich, but one that has let you see who you are really dealing with. It hurts like hell, but please be brave enough to use all that energy that you are directing toward trying to get your ex back toward looking truthfully at what she is and what your relationship was and walk away, because your babies need you. As chump lady said, your stock will trade high in future, but I would also look at what in your past makes you think that your role in life is to keep everyone else happy and comfortable and move mountains so that they don’t experience any feelings of boredom or discomfort in their lives. Your wife was used to you doing for, please fix your picker so you can find a mature person who appreciates you for who you are and recognises that life is not about being pleased all the time and cushioned from the realities of life, but is what you make it as a responsible adult and give back to others. Best of luck on your journey.

    • And those affairs when you first got together, were probably testing you to see what you would put up with in future. She set you up for a dry run and then knew that you would tolerate high levels of abuse. When you surprised her by not just rolling over and forgetting again, she realised the jig was up and you wouldn’t get back into place without her putting in some effort, which she wasn’t willing to do, and she moved on. She is not a good person, not a well-adjusted person and you are well rid. Please don’t let her hoover her way back when the shine wears off and she realises life with loverboy isn’t as cushy. And perhaps consider, when you feel able, adjusting your tatts to something personal to your own current reality, they must be a constant reminder of what you’ve been through.

      • One last thing: We get stuck. We’re gripping on for dear life on the place on the river back where we once were, when all that made it a great spot is already gone. The hard bit is letting go and unsticking ourselves to flow down river to a better place for us. We put all our energy into trying to maintain or recreate the status quo, which creates this huge emotional and psychic wake around us, which is exhausting, instead of admitting that things have changed and putting our energy into moving forward into the new reality. Letting go is the hardest part but you are obviously a strong man with many resources. (((HUGS)))

  • One of the bad things I learned when I got out of a twenty year marriage was that there are people who search for the newly devastated because they are emotionally vulnerable. They have not had the time to heal, or evaluate their “dream”, and they may have some cash, and assets from the end of the marriage. It is the same for those who get a cash settlement from an accident, or life insurance, or win the lottery. Suddenly they have something that those who don’t have it want.

    It is sad that these predators are so good at getting what they want. Love bombing is much easier than actually working for a living. I know I was a good wife and mother, and I focused my anger on my ex spouse. Why did he do what he did, and how could he throw away all that we had worked for, and how could he forget he had children, unless it was convenient for him to see them, or if he could use them to make himself look good. What I didn’t do was evaluate why my new boyfriend was in such a rush to be in an exclusive relationship, and such a hurry to marry. I wanted my stability and my dream back. I wanted to feel like someone loved me. I never imagined my assets were what he was after. I had a job, I had a home, I didn’t want more children, I had good credit, I had health and life insurance. How wonderful did I need to be when I was so useful? I thought of myself as an average person who had just chosen a bad mate, but I didn’t realize that someone who didn’t have any of the things I had would pretend to love me just to get those things,

    When I was young, I never worried about dating. I had some friends who obsessed about it, but I never did. I didn’t date much because I worked and went to school. I didn’t have much money, but I had potential, and a strong work ethic, and good habits. No matter where I lived, it was always clean and comfortable. My parents trained their baby bird to make a good nest. I felt there would come a time to marry and have children, but I was not in a hurry. I did not think I was unusual. I did not think that the man I eventually married would see me as useful. I thought he loved me. Maybe he loved me because I was fun, and smart, and sexy — but now I am sure that my being useful was important, too. I made his life easier and better. He did not make my life easier, but I was committed and I tried hard to deal with problems as they came up. I didn’t expect perfection, but I did expect participation. I took a lot, and I put up with too much, and finally I was just tired of being the only one who worked in or on the marriage. He caused many problems, but really, I was just exhausted. I blamed myself for not making a good choice, for not seeing he was not a good choice. So I divorced him.

    Then I did exactly the same thing. If insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome, then I was insane. Fortunately, it did not take me long to see I had made a mistake, again, and I had learned a few things along the way. But that rebound relationship was more devastating because I realized I had not protected myself, or my children, because I had not taken the time to fix my own vulnerability issues.

    Time, no contact, and self evaluation are essential to heal. No one NEEDS a bad partner, or to hold on to a bad dream. Get away, get help, get healed. Learn that you have value, take time to see if other people are worth your investment of time and energy. Look for friends who have character, and compatible values. Don’t jump into a relationship because you are horny, or lonely. Learn to be happy with yourself, by yourself. I have found a group of good friends. If I ever have another intimate relationship, that person must first become a good friend. My boundaries are set, and I have abandoned my first dream. My new vision is to have peace, and harmony, companionship, and interests in common. My new vision is to have relationships with friends who are willing and able to contribute to the relationship. I have no time for those who ask “what have you done for me lately?” They have their problems. I take care of my own problems. I am finally useful to myself.

    • Portia, if you were local I’d sure want to be friends with you. Thank you for your consistent, level, succinct and sane words of wisdom.


        • Hey guys can I be in your posse too?!

          VH you set the bar high, Portia you are a wise and generous soul of the same calibre.

          Big point raised: INVESTMENT. One of my new mantras is to never again over-invest in people that I haven’t carefully evaluated over time. Being a friendly and trusting soul, the Former Chump me had too many people around that I over-invested in … turned out I over-estimated their value. (Yes, they ended up to be flying monkeys and Switzerland friends).

          No More Non-Reciprocal Relationships. Less people in my circle, higher value.

          One more thing. A CN comment a while ago – don’t place too much emphasis on common INTERESTS. Look for common VALUES.

          My high-value people share my values.

          • Oh. my. God.

            “don’t place too much emphasis on common INTERESTS. Look for common VALUES.”

            Mama Meh, you are in the posse.

            That just hit me upside the head like a cast iron skillet.



            (And guess whose values do?)

            No wonder Higher Power took him away!


    • Port
      Yeah. It’s hard to admit about rebound relationships. You and TKO had stellar responses today. I realized my xw was a rebound from my 1st divorce after some self Inspection. She said to me early on,…“put a ring on me or I’m kicking you to the curb”.
      That’s the Red flag ???? I was manipulated and complied. Now I’m educated. At a price

      • You are all very kind. We live in a great virtual neighborhood, with good folks to help lift us up when we fall. I learn things here, and stay focused on what is important. We are fortunate to have many wonderful contributors!!!

  • You have some great advice here and I hope you heed it because it will make your life better. Make a list of all the crap she’s pulled and read it whenever you feel like contacting her. Ask yourself as CL wisely counsels, is this type of behaviour acceptable to you? Someone who gets you to buy in to a mirage without any care for you or your children?

    Even if you’re in mediation, get your own legal counsel and have them double check what you are contemplating (before you agree) every step of the way. That’s what I did. It cost more but was worth every penny.

    I picked me danced over 4 DDays and 14 years. I am now 50. Don’t waste any more years of your precious life on this train wreck. And, don’t be the train wreck. You have children and bigger responsibilities than your own sadness. Sorry to be harsh, but it’s true. You need to set an example of resilience to them. What would you want your children to do if they were in this exact situation? Would you counsel them to keep chasing someone like her, having them think this is the best they can get?

    What worked for me is finally reconciling the actions with my thoughts. For too many years, I focussed on his words (lies) and the intermittent rewards he would toss me (vacations, jewelry). If he acted decent, instead of thinking it a normal requirement, I would be over the moon praising him for being so incredibly wonderful. I finally recognize his actions were hateful, deceitful and there is nothing I did or could have done to have warranted his behaviour. He is disordered and I fell for it.

    No contact can seem daunting. I haven’t fully mastered it yet at one year out. But instead of thinking of the long days ahead of you, try one day at a time. Today I will not reach out to her. Today I will find a funny story to tell my kids at dinner. Today I will reach out to a real friend for a chat. Write out a few baby steps every day at breakfast and stick to them. One step at a time. Each day will get easier if you start to break away. Each day will get worse if you stay stuck.

  • The dream wedding and honeymoon she wanted, 10 years younger- all of that spells gold digger. It’s why she faked reconciliation. She was using you from day one and likely cheating from early on. It’s a compulsion for her and she will never change. Emotional affair, my ass. She was fucking that guy the whole time. His text spoke of seeing her naked body, Justin, and she claims it was only emotional? Ludicrous. She is a coward, a pathological liar, a user and a skank. What’s to miss? Try to be objective. I know it’s hard, but please try.

    I have no doubt you have PTSD and you badly need therapy. You’re obsessed with getting a worthless person to value you. That isn’t love. A trauma bond can be even stronger than love and you would swear it is love, but it is not. Please get some help to recover from this. Your kids need you to be alive and healthy. Don’t put your obsession with this bitch before your kids. Stop texting her immediately. Your equilibrium will return when you have had no contact for a while and therapy for the trauma.
    Get your life back that she stole from you instead of pining away for a loser who will never, ever care about you no matter what you do. Internalize that truth. Some people are just vile by nature and beyond redemption. From everything you said it is clear she is one of them.

  • Hey Justin.

    I know exactly where you are. Not a cool place to be. For me, the X-rated mind videos that played in my head at night were the absolute worst form of torture. I didn’t sleep for months. It bore down on me until exhaustion set in.

    I had never really understood self care until Discovery day. I saw a doctor and a shrink. I was TOTALLY HONEST with both. They shared my hurt and let me know I’d made a Huge step forward by seeing them. Antidepressants and non-narcotic sleep meds were necessary. Daily exercise. 3 healthy meals a day. These were the castor oil tablespoons my grandma would give me that I knew I would not like, but knew I had to swallow if I wanted to feel better.

    You will run out of tears. It’s gonna happen eventually. I’ll lay a concrete concept on you my A&A sponsor told me in the throes of my alcoholism, “JUSTIN, You’re not going to do a Goddamn thing about yourself UNTIL YOU HURT BAD ENOUGH”. So feel the pain as long as you need to cause in short order you will ask yourself, “Have I hurt bad enough?” That’s when the magic happens. Your Moment of Clarity.

    SHE caused this. Biblically you have a legal out with no shame or guilt required on your part. Morally you OWN the high ground. You have Many Brothers here at chump central. Sisters too.

    The pain is finite Bro. Look at my name.
    “Justin! Come Forth.”

  • More..

    Justin, I have been on my own since the big infidelity reveal (Oct 2017). I am SO GLAD!
    I have trauma to heal (me AND my daughter) and homework to do before I ever get involved again.
    I am committed to falling in love with ME. You have three little folks besides yourself that need first aid STAT! Give yourself and your children the great gift of TIME to be by yourselves.

    In the meantime, the Relationship Genius has been caught cheating on the affair accomplice. He is still lying and evidently has learned zero in the same amount of time.

    (Isn’t it ironic that the partner who is cheating and has proven their spectacular ineptitude regarding relationships is the person who has to be in one?)

    My therapist advises, do not date until after legal
    divorce at the earliest! Do not introduce children to a significant partner until at least a year after that. More time is involved here because intentionally inflicted trauma is the most difficult to heal from. She also said hardly anyone ever does that. Well, I like being different and I like being an honor roll student so I am effen doing what she says. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain with this…it’s called delayed gratification. A FOREIGN CONCEPT TO CHEATERS.

    Thank you Chump Nation for today’s posts. I have been seeing with more clarity in recent weeks how much of a beating my self-esteem took in my MIRAGE (marriage). It was pretty much drained out of me, almost completely. Very slowly…so slowly I didn’t notice and am seeing now because I
    am not being distracted by a relationship (which I do not feel qualified to be in!)





    • If the ex is a twit some divorces can take 3 or 4 years. My therapist said it is ok to date, but don’t move in with/marry anyone till the papers are signed. AND until you know the new person at least 2 years.

  • Brother,

    There are multiple distortions at work: the way to find health and peace is to get your emotional regulatory processes in check. Following a trauma that is easier said than done and essential. Exercise will help tremendously. Do not drink alcohol. Breathe.

    A disordered person will destroy anything, burn down any house, in order to be right. There is no winning here. The battle to save your marriage was over before you knew that you were in it. Once she was revealed, she had to destroy you in order to save face. Her cruelty is not personal. It is who she is. If she ever returns, it will be only to extort and humiliate and use you. She is incapable of love.

    Forgiving yourself for loving her—that’s a real process that will lead you to a greater understanding of yourself and others. Loving someone is not wrong, and giving yourself permission to leave, to change course, will be a gift for you and your kids. You are not bad: you are human. Erase the self-flagellating impulse. Beating yourself up to try and win her back will not win her back. Let go, be kind.

    You did the right thing: fought for what you believed in; made your case; and now it is clear: it is over. She is who she is. She is incapable of human feeling through the lens you operate by. The more you insist you love her, the more repelled she is. You will never guilt this person into loving you, and if you could you wouldn’t want her anyway. Not really.

    Stay away from the train. If you go there, she will get the flowers and the sympathy, and your kids will lose their dad. Faulkner wrote, Between grief and nothing give me grief.

    Grief is human: grief and sorrow reveal a heart that’s capable of love, thumping and alive. Also though, love doesn’t cling. To cling is to suffer no matter who one loves. That’s why it’s so essential to be self-sufficient and whole. Only the strong love well. Be strong.

    There are boundary issues here: she destroyed your own, and by you pursuing her when she has been clear in her rejection, you are violating hers: nothing but sorrow and conflict comes from disrespecting another’s boundaries. By respecting the boundaries of others you train yourself to enforce your own. You also teach your kids to do likewise.

    For whatever reason she used you as an object of utility. When she no longer had any use for you, she discarded you. It’s hard to see this now and really it’s a blessing. Really. Sometimes to save a lung, or the human heart, it’s necessary to crack open the chest and break some ribs. The pain you are feeling is real: if you allow it to flow through you, if you intentionally let it go, that pain will cleanse you. And you will become through all this stronger, kinder, wiser, and more whole.

    Look into medically supervised Ketamine for addressing your PTSD and depression. Seriously, look into it.

    You are not bad or weak. You have been traumatized. If you heal from this you will become, as Tracy says, Mighty. Imagine your kids looking up at that magnificent oak, or their Dad. Remember how they love and admire you—you, their Dad, who made them.

    Stay safe, heal up—

    • “Once she was revealed, she had to destroy you in order to save face.”

      Exactly what has been happening to me since my ex left. Would you mind giving me more insight on that? Why? Are these people narcissists or can a “normal” person use this as a way of justifying bad behavior….
      Understanding mechanisms really help me in my healing. Thanks!

    • “Grief is human: grief and sorrow reveal a heart that’s capable of love, thumping and alive.”

      I love these words. Touching.

    • Glad to know we have Portia, Epictetus, and Marcus Lazarus here in Chump Nation. I might change my handle to Marcus Aurelius Il…

      Great words, Epictetus!


  • This sounds like me about 2 years ago and about 6 months after Dday, especially the crying every day and the thoughts of suicide. Go talk to your doctor. Mine prescribed valium and it worked wonders. I took it for just over a month and found I could go a day without crying. Then try something like knitting or running (exercise that includes arms and legs) or something in other words that is based on “purposeful repetition.” It doesn’t cure the hurt but it does give you a break from it. I don’t know how or why, but it helps.

    And don’t give up. I promise promise promise that it gets easier. (((HUGS)))

    • Cloud
      Purposeful repetition. That’s a Great description for practical martial arts ???? which helped me Immensely at navigating through rough mind Fuck seas.

      I found an OhDoKwan Sensei and dojo not ten miles from me. It’s one of six TaeKwanDo schools. Coincidence? NOT. There are No coincidences.

      Any road, 6 hours a week for two years got this 60 year old body in shape. There is a LOT of purposeful repetition in trying to make my body assume uncomfortable positions and stresses plus the cardio side. Sparring helped venting anger also. I Loved engaging a 5th degree black belt Mano-a-Mano. I couldn’t hurt him if I tried but we both loved our fights.

      Point is that it works because it pulls me out of the danger neighborhood between my ears and makes me focused on the reality of NOW. This freekin moment Now….when everything in my fiber screams STOP ???? FOOL!! This is hard work. Be lazy again would ya?

      Thanks ????????????

  • If you have to beg your wife to return to the family then you have no family with her. She doesn’t share your value system. She never will. You can try to get blood from a stone but it is a waste of time.

    The grieving and trying to accept the permanence of a split is gut wrenching. But getting her back won’t make it all better. You’ll only expose yourself and the kids to more rounds and rounds of make up’s and break ups. Your kids may suffer permanent damage from being dragged around like this emotionally.

    Don’t beg. It does you harm. And it feeds her ego as irreplaceable and valuable. She is neither.

  • All best to you, Justin. We feel your pain!
    CL quite rightly said that we can’t control other people. I’m going to underscore that! Though I’m not involved with the organization, apparently Al-Anon popularized the acronym DETACH, standing for Don’t Even Think About Changing Her/Him. This has become my mantra. When we have little or no evidence that our cheating partners are willing to change, even to take our trauma into account, then we have our answer right there, and we just need to do the hard work of accepting it.

    Please DETACH, Justin. No Contact is the way. If you find yourself obsessing, distract yourself. Or get back in your body through exercise or mindfulness practice. Or write a long letter to your ex, or to yourself, or to your kids, that you will not actually send. Please check out therapies for trauma like EMDR. But in all these activities, try to focus on yourself, not in your ex. Because she’s not worth all this agony, all this energy. YOU are, and your kids are.

    You can DETACH! You can breathe at last.

  • She has showed you multiple times that she doesn’t love you. That is abuse, not love, that she had consistently demonstrated. I’m so sorry you have to feel all this pain. She did not deserve such a good man in you. I hope you find healing in your heart. Focus on you and your children. They need you and we need you.

    My situation is similar except that I found out shitbag had an affair for the entire decade we have been together. You will get to a point where you will wonder why the hell you wasted so much time on this cheating witch.

    One word… Run.

  • Justin, my heart goes out to you. Every single one of us on this page understand how you feel. We loved deeply and wanted that love with the person we had. I gave him repeat chances and was hurt worse each time. Justin, time will heal your heart. I swear to you. And you will see that you wanted love but that the person you are idolizing right now really isn’t the highest quality person to love. Honestly, the behavior you describe, I and so many of my female friends could never enact. More importantly, I’d never be friends with someone like your ex. She is a low quality woman. It is sickening that she toyed with you. But you sound amazing and will find someone who loves you wholeheartedly. It needs to begin with you though. Be the person who is always in your own corner, no matter what. You are worthy of that. And let go of all people, memories, events in the past that made you question whether you are worthy of seeing yourself as loveable. Keep coming to the site. Over time, you’ll read people’s stories and realize you now have wisdom that you didn’t have before. You’ll have discernment. You’ll have inner strength. And one day, you will have hope again. But let her go. Do not give her another moment if your precious life. You will one day realize she was never worth it.

  • Justin,
    As I’ve shared on this site I too have been blown away by the force of my pain over betrayal in my 2nd marriage. It’s debilitating. I believe the pain is compounded because after the loss of a 1st marriage with children, you think you have finally arrived at a great place and feel safe, valued and wonderful and so do your children. Your children see you happy after those years after a divorce, and they love having that stepparent around. Then poof, the person you thought loved you HURT you and by extension your kids. It’s a loss for them too- they worry about you, you worry about them. It SUCKS beyond words.

    I’ve cried every day too and it’s been 4 months. I watched a YouTube video on abandonment, and it said something to the effect of there’s science proving that your brain gets a dopamine rush by thinking and talking abt this person and obsessing – it becomes like an addiction and the way that you keep them in your life.

    I however would not take this person I cry over each day back – NEVER. It took me 3 months to ‘get’ what he did and is capable of. I do not want to be with someone who is able to look me in the eyes and lie to me for his own benefit. I don’t want a cheater around my kids. I regret telling my kids that I wanted him back in the beginning- I don’t want to model that. Now I tell them he has problems, big issues and they’re not my problems.

    I try to be gentle with myself, the virus situation has just made everything worse and set me back. But I will not be somebody’s Plan B and nor should you.
    This woman is skanky beyond words and believe me, you can do WAY BETTER. At 44, there are so many woman 30 -50yrs that would be thrilled to get to know you. Not the pain Olympics, but many of us women in our 50s and up we don’t feel like we have a 20 yr age spread in men to choose from.

    You will eventually be much better off. Decide for yourself that you would never take her back and tell yourself that you are rejecting her forever. You are worth way more and you don’t have the same values- to say the least. You are a catch, she is NOT anymore.

  • Oh Justin ((( hugs )))
    I can feel how heartbroken you are in your letter I know that pain and devastation . All you want is to rewind the clock and want to be happy , safe and secure with your spouse .

    Can I just ask why do you want her back ? What are you missing out on ? A woman who who would NOT give up her affair partner but was willing to give up you and 3 children she helped raise .
    A woman who lied to your face texting AP while in bed with you saying she was playing a game
    A woman you will ALWAYS have to marriage police

    Please read the archives I’ve got literally hundreds of screen shots of wise words / inspiration/ encouragement from them but one of my eternal favourites is getting back with a cheater is like handing them another bullet as they missed you the first time . That’s NOT what you want back

  • I am goal oriented guy too. My goal for the first six months was get through a day without crying. Mindfulness and meditation were really helpful. I still struggle somedays. Lately I have added EMDR eye movement desensitization reprocessing and other bilateral stimulation I read about in “The Body Keeps the Score”. It’s about trauma and recovery. Weird stuff but it seems to work.

  • Justin, I was with “no change” for 27 years total. I have been exactly where you are, and I was there way too long. So I have some experience with this. Yes, I had the typical excuses. Get my daughter out of high school, my business may suffer, how would I ever move/sell house under such duress, she was so hot, great in bed ( little did I know she was practicing without me)..blah blah blah. So those were real things at the time, but what about this other shit, wanting someone who did not want me. A person who had zero empathy for her daughter or me. A woman who witnessed my terrible pain and shrugged her shoulders to only go back to her phone. A keeper??? Not hardly.
    Listen, no contact is precisely what you need. 100% no contact. But I want to challenge you on another front. A front that involves you personally. Go back, yes, go back, and find out what is in”you” that except’s and desire’s a person who is so abusive. I did this, it lessons your pain, but more importantly it helps you remain steadfast against not only taking her back, but excepting another one of the same character. For me, that is currently my focus. Me. To avoid another train wreck with crazy.
    I am praying for you.

    • …“ it lessons your pain”…
      It sure AF does!!! Lessens AND LESSONS your pain. I (and you Bro) got those lessons. Spellcheck actually got it right this time. Cosmic pun intended y’all!!!

      Ps- rainy so no welding of the Taco frame buttress plate just yet. My neighbor (the welder) had his wife walk out on him a few weeks ago. So gotta wait for another moment. Maybe Tracy will roll through VA with a welder in tow?!

      • Ok, so two things…no wait three things.
        First, Siri and I constantly battle with my Texas accent. I really just don’t like her. The second one in all honesty, because that is what we chumps tend to be. I missed it when I reread. My disclaimer. I am a ”machinist major” not a English major that is most likely obvious to so many of you. Third, no matter the reason ” LESSONS YOUR PAIN” will be one I will use in the future. Thanks Marcus for the autocorrect.

  • My eyes teared up reading your story Justin. No one deserves to be treated like that by anyone let alone someone who claims to have loved you. Her actions are a reflection on her NOT YOU.

    I was heartbroken and humiliated for a long time. I always read on this blog that no contact is the way to peace and happiness. I wasn’t ready at the time to let go but let me tell you now that it is true. I still experience grief bubbles for the loss of a great marriage to someone I gave my heart to but I’m getting stronger and stronger the longer I stay no contact.

    Whatever you do DON’T answer a hoover from her. When her shit show of a life she has chosen falls apart, and it will, be really really strong and ignore her. IGNORE HER. She’s a despicable liar and an untrustworthy piece of shit. You are romancing the short piece of time you had together that was good. I’m so sorry but that will never happen again knowing what you now know about her true shitty character and lack of morals and integrity. I hope you value those qualities in a partner and not the fact she is 10 years younger than you.

    Stand up for yourself and shout to the roof tops that you will not tolerate such abuse and gross disrespect from her! She’s not a good person and you will get through this. Stand tall and firm on what your standards are on how a catch like you should be treated. Throw her away like the trash she is. You can do better. Much better.

  • Justin,
    The good…
    You CAN start over at 44. I started over at 42, and I was able to eventually pick myself up and get into a semblance of a regular life.
    You know what I DON’T miss?
    Being lied to
    Being cheated on
    Wondering if I can ever trust this person I married

    The not-so-good…
    Your ex (and that’s what she is) has been cheating on you since before you got married. She’ll keep doing it if she ever came back.
    She and the gym instructor were NOT just have an EA, she only confirmed what you already knew.
    It hurts so bad to find out that someone we’ve trusted so much, and put so much into, can turn out to be such a bad person, but you need to stop contacting her.
    You won’t believe me now, but in time, you’ll realize she did you a favor by running away.

  • I cried reading this. I live CLOSE, the answers are so right. We all know the feeling, yes it seems unbearable. Trust that she sucks, think of the lies she told you, how she just didn’t care. Stop loving her. I know how hard it is no matter how awful they are. You’re better than her. I’m also 44, I get it, but life’s not over. I feel strong and then weak, I discovered it all 15 months ago, I have been divorced 10 months. I get the loss of investing your life and soul into something g that won’t be. I tell myself I’ll be better off and hope I believe soon. Please be strong, think of your kids, of yourself, talk to friends, read posts and comments here. Fight. You’re worth it, she’s shit. Hugs

  • 7months out from the destruction of my 20yr marriage, i was still a complete mess. getting on the other side truly did require as much no contact as i could (considering we have two minor kids and shared custody).

    she was your person Justin.
    she cheated on you.
    she lied to you.
    she manipulated you.

    quit texting her.
    start counting the hours, and then the days, and then the weeks….
    block her #. block her on all social media.
    do not call her.

    the only way to stop craving the contact, is to quit contacting her. your brain literally has to guide your heart.
    the only way to get through the withdrawal, is to quit taking hits.
    if you want the pain to stop, you’re going to have to sit with the most incredible pain there is and let it pass all the way through you.

    i literally cried every time i was in the car too.
    it was incredibly cathartic. i walked 500miles around a lake, 2.8miles at a time and let the pain seep put of me in whatever fashion it wanted. anger, sadness, anxiety.

    at almost 27months out, i feel vague annoyance on good days. i laugh at the ridiculous things he did, mixed in with a bit of anger. on bad days i might experience a bit of disassociation. but i know it will pass as i sit with it.

    keep going. you can get on the other side of this too.
    but please please please please, stop contacting her.
    if for no other reason than proving to yourself, on an hourly basis that you can.
    think of it as a pact to a fellow Chump across many miles.

  • Justin. You have already gotten a lot of good advice here. There’s really only one thing I have to add to it. You’re not going to want to do any of these things. You’re not going to feel like taking care of yourself. You’re not going to feel like getting out there and trying new things or exercising or eating healthy meals. You’re not going to want to go no contact. Use that stubborn persistence you have to do it anyway. Do it rather you want to or not take care of yourself whether you want to or not take care of your kids whether you feel capable or not. It’s only by getting started that you make any progress. Huge hugs. It does get better.

  • I just want to add something to note about no contact – and this may have already been said, because I have not read all the comments.
    When you go no contact, after a while she may (not definitely, but may) wonder what is up and contact you. Please be aware this is not an indication that she loves you and you should renew your connection. This is the action of someone who has been bombarded with contact who has suddenly had it removed. She may be relieved, or she may miss it. Either way, if she renews contact after you have withdrawn it, do not respond!

    Also wanted to add that my heart goes out to you in your pain. I hope CL and the network here can help you look after yourself and your kids and let go of that toxic person. Even if she is a good person, she’s not good for you. Your feelings look a lot like addiction as much as love. Withdrawals are hard! Take what you can from the responses here, jump onto the CL Facebook page if you have Facebook, get as much support as you can and kick that addiction!

  • Justin you are preventing yourself from meeting someone that truly loves you and your kids and will bring you so much joy. Your ex is disgusting and will never stop cheating. You are so much better than her. Why don’t you think you and your kids deserve better? You have to block her and never ever ever contact her again. Start today. You can’t heal if you keep tearing away the scab.
    And try an antidepressant. I couldn’t function without one after the PTSD.

  • I totally understand and sympathize. Why are you crying at 7 months? You’re very early in the process: the trauma is fresh and ongoing (CL addresses your role in this). At 7 months I was literally in a fetal position on my bed sobbing. And I’m not a crier, let alone a sobber. That’s what abuse does to you. Ease up on yourself but also take heed of what this person has reduced you to.

    I hope you will not have to reach the point I did until you act (walk away, stop pick me dancing, accept who and what she is). It was primal survival. I was convinced that I would die—literally, my heart would stop beating from the wracking psychic pain—unless I stopped. So I divorced. That was seven years ago. We have kids together and the dust has settled. I’m ok. I was convinced I wouldn’t be without her and my family.

    But man, get out. Use your intellect and not your emotions. Your emotions are liars and your enemy at this time.

    You can do this. You’ll be on the other side some day and shake your head with a grim smile at the man you were and the even better man you will be.

    • I just realized I did not read carefully enough at the beginning: you don’t have kids with her! This is not to minimize the pain, but damn, Justin, you have a get out of jail free card that many of us wish we had (not that we don’t love our kids!:-)

      Go. Run like the wind. Flee into your freedom with nothing holding you back except your illusions about her and soon enough they too will be gone like the wind.

  • Dude, you will get your life and mojo back.

    In the end everything that happenEd was the sum total of every choice you had ever made. Once you accept that, it frees you to start to grow and learn and evolve. Despite what she did, you did choose her.

    As for all the pick me BS, forgive yourself, you were a wounded creature, wounded to the core. It happens to the best of us.

    As for your ex, the chicks a loser, a bitch, immoral, unevolved, gutless, selfish, narcissistic, and a host of other negative things. F that bitch forever.

    I guaranty that someday you will laugh about it, seriously.

  • buddy, i feel your pain. very similar story to mine, but i got zero emotion from her. we split eight years ago and have both moved on.

    as everyone has said, no contact is the only way out. fight the urge to text / call / email by doing something else that you enjoy. leave the house without your phone. the feeling will pass. the urge to reach out will fade over time so long as you keep up no contact.

    i was 41 when i got divorced. i’ve met someone else and i feel like i’m now living the life i wanted.

  • You can’t change her, Justin.

    You can’t make her into the person you thought she was. The person she never was. The truth is, she was lying all along. But this isn’t about her.

    This is about you. You can only change yourself.

    Every day, every minute, when you find yourself thinking of her, say, “I’m going to concentrate on my own life.” Then do the next thing you can to make your own life better in the here and now and in the future. Nothing about her. She’s not there anymore. Really, she never was.

    I started doing this a year and a half ago, and everything changed fairly quickly. I am now much happier and more successful, and I love the life I have without an abuser.

  • I know there are alot of comments on her with very useful information but hopefully this finds you. I have followed this site for about a year in a half now and it has helped me so much but i am not so far out of the darkness that i don’t feel the shudder crawling down my neck or tinlge in my spine from your words and how close our sotries mirror each other. I have never posted anything but until now, your story compelled me. This is what i want to impart on you.

    I used hate for the better part of a year over what happened to me, to you. Lost over a hundred packs, went from having stretch marks on my stomach from weight gain to abs (those tiger stripes give me pride now 😉 got new tattoos and some peircings but nothing helped. Everyday i spent trying to destory the man that she shattered despising his weakness and patheticness. How he was such a fool and failed himself, his family, and his wife. I was a vision of despair and regret much like you may feel like today.

    I happened to have a cousin who i grew up with that was also a chump. He has a little boy who is 1 year younger then my daughter. He didn’t make it Justin. I got told at 2:39 in the morning January 2nd this year *blank* commited suicide. Now i had thought about doing this over much of 2019 but never really commited. It was surreal. Almost like looking at what could have happened.

    The pain you feel is rooted in so many places. You crave validation, so validate yourself. Fuck all else we are lions and we are mighty. She used you to mourn the life you had so by the time the jig was up she didn’t give a shit. Read that again. How much easier would it be to have her there to comfort you while process and move through this difficult transition? She lacks that strength. You have it because brother you don’t have a choice. But find solace in the fact that you persevered in the face of calamity and oppression. Don’t say you didn’t because you are still here. It hurts i know but your still here, that’s perseverance.

    Enough with acknowledging this catastrophe that has become our lives, how do you get out right? The answer is you go back to the beginning. Before her you had a life full of dreams, fears, and insecurities. Well your already going through hell so can’t get much worse right? Face them, chase them, overpower them because you have now endured what no person should and that pain makes you dangerous. It makes you unstoppable. Each day you wake up and put one foot on the ground you are walking in pain but you start to see that it gets easier and then you feel powerful because you don’t walk through hell and come out with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder knowing what you can withstand.

    Love is the answer my friend. If you have to and hey i understand if you do, love her. Love the shit out of her but do something else also. Love yourself more. Chump lady says on here we can’t control others but we do control ourselves so are you willing to accept this behavior? Change your narrative, she didn’t quit you, she lost you because you will no longer tolerate the disrespect and lies. She is just too foolish and arrogant to realize the cards are in your hand. The world is yours, take it.

    I know you have some insecurities about this other guy because we all have had that feeling. He’s a fucking weasal. Walk proud around him because i can promise you that the top of the dating pool does not poach women or men that are taken. We don’t have time for that shit, it screams disfunction and cowardice. Do you think that a beautiful strong woman craves the attention of a man who can’t look his competition in the eye and shake his hand before the race starts. Anyways love yourself man and find something to laugh about and smile. Everyday i started with fail videos as sad as that probably sounds but now no one will every steal my smile or my laughter from me again. Listen to music you loved before you met her (preferably something she didn’t like or you just didn’t listen too). You now have an open schedule, other then your child whom I’m guessing brings you much joy when your not feeling down about the family atmosphere lost. Guess what you can now form an even stromger bond with that child. She is focused on this new man and her image so her time is full if fake little nothings because she is constantly working on the image she is keeping up with for people at work, family, him, of course she doesn’t have time for your sadz. But you also have that time and what your building is real and i promise you when you start to pick your self up and rise nothing will touch you and you will see that her castle is built of sand.

    TLDR: It hurts, probably the worse pain you are gonna go through. Your a badass because you went through it (tattoos make you sexy because they say hey i can handle pain) Let go of the hate strive for positivity. Love her if you have to but remember love is selfless. If this is what she wants love her enough to let her have it. Above that though love yourself more, would you want your children to tolerate this behavior in a relationship? Go back to the beginning before you met her. Face your fears and insecurities, chase down your dreams.

  • The hardest lesson I had to learn is that the husband I wanted back, the husband I fell in love with and still loved, was just a fantasy. I thought I knew him; I did not. I don’t think he ever loved me. I was just the actress he chose to be the co-star in his life drama. He just found it easy to have a lot of understudies. When he decided he was displeased with my performance, scratch! New ingenue takes the stage!

  • It’s almost 2 years for me and I still cry every damned day. Not because I miss him (I got rid of a 200 lb. tumor), I cry because I can’t understand how two people can be so cruel. And why me? What did I do that was so horrible? I cry because I can’t let these questions that will never be answered, go.

    I did attempt suicide. He brought Schmoopie to the hospital after I specifically told him not to.

    It got me a 3-day vacation at the psych hospital. Let’s just say it wasn’t a pleasurable experience.

    So, I would definitely advise against suicide.

    No Contact is the way to go. If I didn’t have to see them every week all over each other, I’d probably heal a lot quicker.

    If we all had Justin’s devotion, there wouldn’t need to be a Chump Lady! (sorry CL, just using you as an example)


    • Gillian, they ain’t worth it. Stay strong honey. Your life will get better I promise!

    • Dear Gillian, sweetie, it’s not you, it’s him. How can two people be so cruel? Because they are selfish, entitled assholes with no regard for anyone but themselves. They are shitty people with shitty character.

      Why you? Why any of the thousands on this site. Your’e not alone. His actions are not a reflection on you. They reflect pretty badly on him. You cannot take blame for his deplorable behavior. You didn’t cause it and you can’t change it.

      What did you do that was so horrible? NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. I know this is hard to truly believe but his cheating has nothing to do with you. He cheated on you but that’s where the connection ends. His cheating was because of his issues, not because you weren’t good enough. You are more than good enough.

      I too had questions that I had to have answers to. I researched covert narcissism and found my answers. If you’re the type of person to follow CL’s advice not to untangle the skein of fuckedupness, then that’s infinitely better. But I’m not that person. I wanted answers. I had to know for my own peace of mind that it was not because of anything I did or didn’t do and I truly believe in my soul that I did not cause his cheating.

      I don’t know why you have to see them every week “all over each other”, maybe you have kids with that jerk, but trust me on this one that it is all smoke and mirrors. These cheaters have to believe the choices they make are good ones. Lying and cheating is never a good choice. When reality punches them in the face, life won’t be so grand, believe me. Relationships are never without issues and theirs started off scummy and tainted. The grass ain’t greener.

      Please sweetie believe in your heart and soul that you can do better than a lying, cheating asshole and his disgusting behavior was not because of you. Stand straight, shoulders back with confidence because you did nothing wrong. Nothing. You are so much better than a liar and cheater. His life is a fucked up mess and yours is wide open for nothing but good things to come.

    • “I cry because I can’t understand how two people can be so cruel. And why me? What did I do that was so horrible? I cry because I can’t let these questions that will never be answered, go.”

      That first question is the really devastating one–it really speaks to problems with society and human greediness and all that bad stuff that we often forget exists. That’s an existential question. It’s tough. The second and third questions are manageable. It’s not about you. Never was. Never will be.

  • ”quit wishing for impossible things with impossible people.“

    This is akin to something my therapist said to me. And when my therapist said it to me it broke the spell I was under. He said that I was looking for comfort from the one person who couldn’t give it to me.

    Justin, my beautiful, dear, sweet man. Your x wife sucks. I wish I could give you a big hug! You gave it your all but the cheater just ain’t worth it. Like Tracy says your stock trades high. What town do you live in because honestly I’d snatch you right up, lol!!

    Your letter hit a nerve with me. I too just cried and cried. For about 10 months. Every day, every day on the way to work, every day in the way home from work. I didn’t think that god made that many tears. But he did and they were meant to wash that turd right out of my life. It’s taken a year but I finally stopped crying. I too got sooooo sick of people telling me to do things for myself. I wanted you throw up every time some said it, it literally made me nauseous. How could I do something for myself to make me happy when the love of my life is GONE! Gone I say! How can I possibly live another day. But I did, and I did it for my kids. The thought of them living without me kept me alive. Until I could Finally turn the page. Until I could finally realize that my x husband SUCKS! He truly sucks.

    You will get there one day. Until then come here every day, read the archives, every single one of them. Copy and paste certain passages that ring true to you into a text message string you send yourself and scroll through it when you feel like texting her. Text your friends if yourself what you want to say to her. She is NOT worth the waggle of your fingers on the keyboard.

  • Hi Everyone

    This is Justin “the Chump” and author of the letter. I’d like to thank everyone who has commented, shared their thoughts, candid moments of strengths and weaknesses and the invaluable advice. I never thought I would ever be in a support group for those that have been afflicted by lies and hurt by a spouse but now that I am, I couldn’t be more appreciative of everyone on here. I actually felt such a release by sending in my email to our fearless leader Tracy and then reassured by her loyal army of followers that generously give their time to read, share and support others who have or had faced the same emotional challenges.

    I will get better, I will come out of this a better man, better father and maybe one day a better boyfriend or husband. This whole experience has required me to find and acquire life skills that I’ve never possessed and process emotions I’ve never felt before. I am trying to learn everyday.

    I spoke to my therapist yesterday regarding trauma bonding and started to read a book about it last night, I look forward to learning more about it and I’m hoping it will provide some guidance and insight into the illusive answers I’ve been seeking in my head and heart.

    I am fortunate that my children have remained strong, they have been my bright spot, my reason to get up everyday, my motivation to fight another day and my force behind getting stronger. I did tell my 17 and 15 year old sons recently why we are no longer together, I thought they deserved an answer. Both were shocked but assured me that I deserve better than someone who would do this to me and our family. Fortunately my children have a mother who is very active in their lives, she’s been very supportive throughout this nightmare and has helped me guide the children through this unexpected time in all of our lives. Her strength has helped get the kids through this, reinforcing the fact that no matter who else comes and goes in this world, their mother and father are always there for them and that will never change, and equally as important, mom and dad may not be together but we will always be a family and we will always help each other in our time of need.

    Thank you again to everyone, I can’t express enough how meaningful it’s been to me to read ALL of the comments, regardless if the comments were comforting, judgmental or brutally honest. I have a tendency to believe the right combination of all three is the key to learning and growing. Sometimes in life you need a hug, sometimes you need advice and sometimes you just need a smack in the head.

    Lastly, I know one day when I fully recover, I’m able to stand back up tall and strong, I’ll be there for future chumps who need the support from someone who was once knocked on their ass and got themselves back up.

    • I have zero doubt you’re going to be that guy who gets back up and helps the next guy.

  • I totally feel Justin’s pain except I’m nearly 3 years down the line since D Day. I’ve pick me danced, begged, let him come and go as he pleased. Finally went no contact 6 months ago after I found out he was still with her. I am going to counselling every 2 weeks, even started online dating and was seeing someone for about 5 months (lots of red flags yet I still stuck at it until he finished it). I feel no further forward. CL has been a godsend and I’m on here religiously every day but I don’t know what else I can do to stop wanting him to come back. I’m so hurt and angry about what he’s done and still have to see the OW most days doing the school run. Divorce is nearly finalised and he’s giving me house etc.I’m trying to be strong for my children and trying to gain a life but feel like I don’t know what my purpose in life is anymore and if I’ll ever feel happy/ normal again?

    • Sorry to hijack your comment CantGetOverIt by using reply. My intent was to comment at the end. I’ve been mulling Justin’s post over for awhile though so the site isn’t accepting new posts (guess I’m wrongly going around that?).

      You know the Nike saying of Just Do It. Referring to you contacting her, you need the saying in your head, on your wall, everywhere saying,
      “Just DON’T Do It”!!!

      I’ve been somewhat where you are right now. Though I didn’t want the rat bastard back, I just couldn’t stop sending him long texts for months after he left (years before I found CN). I felt like I had to get information & specifics of when/where/who/why about all.he had done during our marriage that I didn’t know about so I could understand it & try to make some sense of it.
      As many on here know, that didn’t work so good for me. Most he didn’t respond to. When he did, it just created blameshifting plus more questions & mindfuck for me. Who knows if the few things he said were even true. And of course, I didn’t get any remorse, apology, or closure from him.

      What I didn’t realize at the time or understand until much later was that in a weird twisted way, he got off on my obsessive texts asking for information. It made him feel central. It stroked his ego. It gave him ammo to use against me later in the divorce. He used it to triangulate between us and the ow he moved in with. It was evidence for him to say I was crazy.

      Me sending him all those texts didn’t do anything for me but cause more pain, significantly more pain. I realize now he would only answer something once in a great while to keep me hooked to continue doing it (intermittent reinforcement). Why? Because it was working for him. And he’s a sick fuck who got off on my pain. Ya, I also thought if he could just see how much pain I was in, he would feel guilty & be apologetic. Nope. It just made him use anything I said against me & made the evil monster inside him rear its ugly head more.

      Justin, please listen to everyone here who have been there & did what you’re doing. JUST STOP IT! JUST DON’T DO IT (don’t contact her). The longer you continue doing that, the longer it will be for any healing to begin). You’re probably thinking to yourself, if only if it was that easy to just stop it. Oh it’s absolutely not easy. It’s probably one of the hardest thi ga you’ll ever do. But it’s necessary for your own sanity and survival. Trust us here whi have been where you are, you will begin to see things more clearly within weeks of no contact with here. You’re not going to be able to see that or find your footing until you stop that contact.

      Don’t give yourself excuses that you have to contact her. Not even if she contacts you, which she probably will a few days after you stop. It will be because she lost her kibble supply (any attention is good attention). She wants to keep you hooked & invested, at your expense. Don’t allow her to do that too. She’s already done enough to you. Block her so you don’t even know if she contacted you or not. If it’s that important, she can go through an attorney.

      You might have to give your cell to a good friend & have them screen & pass along other calls & texts to you, even if you have blocked her, just so you won’t call or text her. Oe if one of your kids is old enough, give your cell to them temporarily. Do anything to keep yourself from contacting her again. You’re in survival mode here. What you haven’t yet realized is that your survival is based ON YOU NOT CONTACTING HER, not on her responding back.

      As others here have said, use your anger & stubbornness to fight for yourself! You can do it Justin! Wishing you well.

  • This letter really showcases how dependent we become on others to fill the little gaps within ourselves that we should probably be filling ourselves. Of course being gobsmacked after betrayal is normal…even for a long time. Lots of tears and drinking and more tears. Lots and lots. But what this letter reads like to me is obsession. Obsession with another person. And, for the most part, we become obsessed with others because we think they fill in what we lack and without that gapfiller, we are lost.

    May this be a cautionary tale or a wake up call…interdependence between adults is good, co-dependence is bad. Justin sounds like an addict mourning the loss of a drug. No one should give away that much emotional control to another person. We teach babies the ability to self-soothe, let’s teach our adult selves too.

  • Justin
    I know how you feel. My x-wife after 20 years of marriage cheated on me with her best friend’s husband just over 3 years ago, they are still together now after we divorced. She hurt me so badly, but I still miss her, I still love her, I still cry. But I know that is stupid. She didn’t care about me or my feelings at all. Broke my heart, maybe she felt a bit of guilt about it but it didn’t stop her carrying on with her new scumbag partner, all the while knowing she was destroying me, her former-best friend and both families.
    Why do we still care about and love someone who has done nothing but kick us in the guts over and over again? It doesn’t make sense. No Contact would be the best way for me to recover, but we share custody of our son and have a strange arrangement due to her working hours where we have a handover of our son almost every day, so I have to see her all the time. I avoid looking at her or talking to her, I guess I’m about as No Contact as I can possibly be in our situation, but seeing her still breaks my heart every time. I think she is so beautiful and I wish we had never parted.
    But in reality, I know we could never be together again. She has hurt me too much, I could never trust her again. If we were put together again, I doubt we would last a day without getting into a screaming fight about what she has done. She was my favorite person in the world. But after 23 years together, she became the type of person I despise the most in this world, people who are utterly selfish, immoral and uncaring about the consequences of their actions. They justify what they do by saying they weren’t happy in their situation, so they do what feels good to them, destroy lives in the process and feel no remorse.
    So why do I still pine for her? It just doesn’t make sense. Rest assured, you are not the only one who feels this way. As others have said, we are addicted to something very toxic. I read your story and wonder “why would he care less about such a bitch?” – because everything you have told us about her shows her to be an absolute scumbag who no one would want to go near. That is the luxury of the third-person perspective, of not being emotionally attached to someone yourself.
    My ex is the same, but I feel like you, I want her back, even though I know that is impossible and would never work.
    I try to remind myself of what CL often says, “trust that they suck”. As hard as it is, we just have to try and live our best lives without them. We have to work towards attaining the state of ‘meh’, I must say that reading CL helps retrain the brain in that direction. This is good therapy.

  • Justin, I’m a little late with this response, but I have an alternative thought for you. I think your PTSD is not just about what this cheating female jackass has done to you, but also about that first divorce.

    You say this was a “rebound relationship,” which suggests to me, at least, that you probably didn’t do the work of grieving for that marriage. Even if you were the one who wanted that divorce, that was a loss of a marriage, of your dreams, of your “intact family” with your kids. And you jumped into a relationship with a girl in her early 20s, who, after 11 years is STILL not mature. So you have piled up a lot of debris. Whatever pain you had from Divorce 1 you medicated with a young woman and the romance of all that (to the point where you ignored her early infidelities).

    Your therapist is probably right that you have PTSD. But it’s not just about this latest divorce, bad as that is. You’ve got a lot to heal from. And the only way out (along with NO CONTACT) is to turn your attention to healing yourself. How do I know this? Because I had a similar huge, blots-out-the-sun reaction to Jackass’s cheating and his discard of me. Once I started looking, with the help of my therapist, I saw that reaction as a symptom of the problem: I wasn’t paying attention to my own feelings and needs. I got involved with men in order to fill a void in me. What I needed to do was fill the void for myself. Then I would be whole, myself, and I could look for someone who would be a match for that.

    7 months isn’t that long. You’re crying for her because you are hooked emotionally into what being married to her represents to you–not to the actual woman, who is quite unattractive in terms of character and personality. She’s a liar. A gaslighter. Someone who hurt your kids as well as you. So take a long look at what you avoided when you took up with her. Go back and dig through that debris. See the difficulty you’re having with moving on as an opportunity. This time you aren’t rebounding into something/someone new. Now is the time to get comfortable figuring out who you are when you aren’t in a relationship.

    Read up on the narcissistic relationship cycle. That’s what got me started on getting my own life in order. And of course, NO CONTACT. One day at a time.

  • A few thoughts on this one from a male chump that has been through it:

    First – you are going to be ok. You are going to come out of this nightmare just fine, and you will look back on all of this with pride for yourself for getting yourself through such a traumatic life experience. You’re in the thick of it right now, where it’s hard to tell up from down, I’ve been there. Push through, buddy. Take it day-by-day right now, it gets easier.

    Second – I know this is consuming you. All of your energy is focused on the sadness of this situation, the unexpected life change that “has knocked you on your ass so hard”, and the longing for this person to return to your life as if none of this ever happened. I remember the months I spent in that state – literally every single thought I had from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep (if I was lucky enough to fall asleep) – the sadness, confusion and the endless search for a shred of hope that she was going to come to her senses and come running back. It’s exhausting. But the good news is that all of this energy can be a tremendous asset, you just need to refocus it elsewhere.

    Find your ANGER about what she has done to you! Get pissed man! Nobody does this to you and your kids! Anger is your friend right now. It makes you protect yourself from further abuse. It helps you not get screwed in your divorce settlement. I set a photo of my ex-wife’s other dude as her contact photo on my phone, with his stupid backwards hat and shit eating grin. I changed her name in my phone to “She Fucked This Guy”, so every time she called or texted (or every time I went to call or text her) that’s what I saw. It was my firewall. Eventually it became comical to get a text from her crying about some bullshit, and there was a photo of this douchebag’s fat face next to it. Change your STBX’s name to “when do I get to see your sexy naked body again” in your phone.

    DON’T direct your anger towards her, though, Don’t give her the satisfaction of knowing how pissed you are. She loves knowing that you’re angry about what she’s done. You’re telling her that she’s still central in your life, and she gets a high off of it. She laughs about it with Lifetime Fitness. Use your anger as a tool to protect yourself and get back up. Nobody knocks you on your ass like this, Justin! You’re a badass dude with a bunch of tattoos. Get up!

    Lastly – really consider what it would be like if she did come running back to you with tears in her eyes, and all this regret and promises that it will never happen again. Literally, think about if she showed up at your door 10 minutes from now, proclaiming that she’s ready to recommit to you and the family that she had no problem casually betraying for her personal trainer (come on man.. her personal trainer? That is so cliché). What if all this stuff that you so desperately want right now just appeared at your doorstep? I bet you’d start to backpedal a little bit.

    As it’s been mentioned before, we tend to look back at all of the good parts of the relationship, the “highlights reel”, when in this state of shock and longing for things to just return to normal. It’s like the dog that chases the squirrel around the yard day in and day out – one day, the dog actually manages to catch the squirrel and it just sits there, eyes wide open, like: “Holy shit! I got it! What do I do now?? I’m not even sure I really want this squirrel. I don’t even like squirrels. Shit!! Why the hell have I been chasing this thing around for the last 6 months??”

    Think about what your relationship would be like going forward if she showed up today, wanting to jump back into the family like nothing happened. It would suck, Justin. The trust is gone. You’d lay in bed with her every night, trying to catch a glimpse of her cell phone screen in her glasses, forever. You’d have a panic attack every time she went to the gym.

    “when do I get to see your sexy naked body again”? Fuck. That. Shit.

    Get up man. Nobody knocks you on your ass like that! You have an awesome life ahead of you, but you can’t live it down there on the ground. You got this!

  • Justin,

    Totally connecting with your story. I played this dance for a long time, D-Day after D-day…it never stopped. There is no alternative. It is you, or a meaningless sad life ahead. You have to fight with every muscle and ounce of energy to cope with the pain and start to channel the desperation to a place where it does a service to you, or to someone you care about.

    I had fallen back into my ex again and got burned. I never thought it would happen again. So listen to what so many have said to you and to the ghosts who said it to me. Get cozy in your own skin and fight like hell to work through the agony that will come…good times will come but it’s gonna be a while.

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