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.
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)).