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What Do I Do with the Phantom Pain of Abandonment?

Dear Chump Lady,

First, thank you. Your truth is like a laser ripping through the threads of the tangled skein I’ve struggled with for three years. I’m two years out from divorce after a torturous separation. I’m guilty of reality-bending, crippling doubt, doing the pick-me dance for ages — leading to self-loathing that took years to heal from.

I don’t know how to get over the fact that he treated me like an inconvenience. He didn’t attend my surgery when I was in the hospital. Complained about having to pick up post-surgery meds. Couldn’t be bothered to pick me up when a man on the street was threatening me, leaving me to walk home alone in a new city. Always ignoring me with a phone or computer in front of his face, day-in and day-out. Falling in fantasy wuv with a girl who was my friend, but did not work or go to school. But she was edgy, like him! I wasn’t supportive of his anger! All of this while we were married.

Ex-shitlord did a lot of things, including lying through omission as much as he breathed, never admitting to or apologizing for his cheating, refusing to stop seeing her, saying he didn’t want to be in a relationship (while married?), forcing me to pull the divorce trigger. Victimhood had always been his identity.

He withheld information like it was his job. There is so much I’ll never know and I don’t entirely know how to make peace with that. He abandoned me — I saw his love for me turn off like a light switch and I’ve never fully recovered from that experience.

In retrospect, sure, I see things. He never was a good husband. A coward who only thought of himself for the almost 20 years I knew him. A liar, a gaslighter with anger problems and entitlement the size of the moon. I allowed it because I didn’t know better. Because, at the time, I thought what I was fighting for was a good future in which I’d invested everything.

What haunts me is that he always hid the truth of his inner world and acted like I was nuts after I found it out about his (firstly emotional) cheating on my own. Because, like a human being, I responded to the secret social media accounts and (likely) booty call clandestine plane trips with massive hurt — he actually froze when I asked him if he was cheating. Not yes, not no. Everything and nothing in that empty space.

Soon after, he accused me of being mentally ill. For crying all the time. Persistently trying to talk it out. Wanting to spend time together to work on things. He specifically said his therapist said I had BPD.

Talk about insult icing on the pain cake. No offense to those who actually suffer from BPD. Ever a marathon chump, I asked my therapist about BPD since I couldn’t see anything clearly through my grief. I did have depression (situational much? utterly screwed over by the only person I ever loved?), but she pointed out that I had a stellar career, great friends, and that I worked through some turbulent family issues that came out positive. I’ve taken off into the stratosphere since losing the loser/cement shoes, so why can’t I forget what he said? What he didn’t say?

Ex-shitlord knew I struggled with some past trauma — ironically, abandonment trauma. He was gaslighting me into thinking that my feelings were disordered and that my needs were the problem. I tried to erase my needs. To be someone else since who I was had been so easy to discard. Obviously, this did a number on me. It still hurts to know that’s how he thought of me and represented me to others — as unhinged. His family loved and supported me, his mom said he was the one who wasn’t wired right. Losing them was the ultimate, but such are the casualties of cheating. So much fallout. I had no control over any of it, which only magnified my despair.

And for what? He must have been dumpster diving when he found his schmoopie — who ultimately didn’t reciprocate. True enough that they always affair down. I’m now in the best shape of my life, at a top medical school, making more than him, with a wonderful/better/healthy man, doing work that matters, traveling with wonderful old/new friends, and HAPPY. I stay away from him now like he’s 80’s Chernobyl. I’m in a better place than I ever would have been if I had stayed — but I went through three years of hell to get here.

It’s like looking in a rearview mirror and seeing a flaming car wreck. Looking back… you can be thankful you got out, despite the burns.

I want to lay this phantom pain to rest. Please help me unfuck my brain — his abandonment and his love for me extinguishing like nothing. Leaving me to fend for myself when I was in the worst pain of my life. Stringing me out on hopium just so he could crush me when I tried to get close. Lying, lying, lying. Accusing me of BPD to invalidate everything I could ever say or feel about him. Saying he loved me…but refusing to answer if I said I missed him. Never telling me what really happened.

Even now, I have to stay far away from him and memories of him for risk of a downslide into the dark. All because I don’t know how to make peace with what I don’t understand. All because a piece of me believed him when his actions, but not words, told me I wasn’t worth anything.

Sorry I suck at brevity and this is not really one question. I’m in a wormhole. Twenty years of my life is now a wasteland of tainted memories. I have no answers. Only this empty space where love used to be.

Gratefully,

To Have and To Withhold

Dear To Have and to Withhold,

Consider this a bitchslap. You don’t have an “empty space” — you have a FULL LIFE. You’re in the best shape of your life. You’re at a “top med school.” You earn money. You have a new man in your life. You wrote HAPPY in all caps.

CONGRATULATIONS.

Okay, so it took “three years of hell” to get there. Isn’t that preferable to the decades more of hell you would’ve lived if you’d stayed with him? The reign of Ex-Shitlord is OVER. He is VANQUISHED.

Or is he?

Imagine if Dorothy couldn’t click her ruby slippers and return to Kansas because she was convulsed with self-doubt. Why are you giving a fuckwit the power to destroy you now that he’s dead to you? Let that bitch melt.

Saying he loved me…but refusing to answer if I said I missed him. Never telling me what really happened.

Don’t predicate your healing on “What Really Happened.” He’s not going to tell you. That’s how fuckwits are. And if he offered details, it would only be to hurt you. To toy with you for kibbles, to see if you still care. There is no such thing as closure. You do NOT need him to process what he did. You need NO CONTACT with him to process what he did.

Even now, I have to stay far away from him and memories of him for risk of a downslide into the dark. All because I don’t know how to make peace with what I don’t understand.

I call bullshit. You understand this just fine. He was abusive. He was a cheater. A mindfucker. Liberation is not having to “make peace with it.” You got AWAY from it.

If you have a Trust That He Sucks problem, work on that. He’s not the lodestar of your self-worth. Yes, you invested a lot in this person, a marriage, you knew him a long time, you loved his family. Again, that doesn’t make him the final word on your worth. NO ONE has that power. Not your mother. Not the president. Not the mean girl in 8th grade. NO ONE. YOU set your value.

He’s an idiot. Consider the source. He devalues you because that’s who he is — a user. An unethical, unkind person. Why do we care what he says?

Frederick Douglass once said, “A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me.”

Take away Shitlord’s power to insult you. He’s a shitlord. Not a gentleman.

All because a piece of me believed him when his actions, but not words, told me I wasn’t worth anything.

To Have, look, I get it. We’re all here because someone we once loved rejected us in the most humiliating, traumatic sort of way. Or held on to us to front their fake life until we could reject them. It hurts like a motherfucker.

The entire point of this blog, this community, is to make rejection your bitch. Learn from it. Be mightier for it.

People are going to reject you in this life. Fairly and unfairly. Mysteriously. Abusively. You have to have an internal core of self-worth to stand up to it. To not internalize their judgements.

I’m not saying be a dick, or be impervious to criticism. A good person self-reflects and weighs these things. I’m saying — GET UP AGAIN. Fuckwits and even well-meaning people are going to underestimate you. Don’t underestimate yourself.

Take up room. Have needs! You’ll be shocked to find decent people who respond. Who’ll give you a lift to the hospital. Who know how to be a friend. They exist. Invest in them. As you do so, fuckwits will recede from your life and your brain.

You know what’s worse than having invested in a loser? Investing more in a loser.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Wow, this is me all the way to the lack of brevity…but today will have to be brief for now since life is calling, BUT…

    Yes. I get this. I also get the idea that I have felt like I was trapped in it until I understood it better.
    And the fact that what looked bad at first ended up being the tip of the iceberg. I thought I was with a decent guy with an anger problem …a person who had all the pieces he needed to put together a really amazing person but just always seemed content to leave his incompleted self on the table floundering about.

    Turned out, he had a lack of intimacy with me because he had SO MANY SECRETS that intimacy was impossible.

    Yes to everything you described and to my difficulty healing from it. 29 years, 3 kids and I cant look back on a single good memory because if I think about any of the moments which seemed good, I am left also facing the fact that he fucked up everything despite the possibility of good always being so close.

    and I will never know the real truths since he died

    I have also moved on to a better partner and a better life but I know that the trauma did some damage. I likely also suffer from some of the same “yes, but…” moments of just not letting it die

    (He once told me that I was nothing to him but an “obligation” yet he wouldnt end the marriage with integrity (probs since he didnt have any)

    CL is right, though. Users don’t define us. I think Im pretty awesome evenif my newhusband is not liking my new purple hair. I am living it and hope that you can truly extricate yourself from the mental spinning faster than I did. We owe it to ourselves.

    • “Turned out, he had a lack of intimacy with me because he had SO MANY SECRETS that intimacy was impossible.”

      Yes, a thousand times this!

    • Turned out, he had a lack of intimacy with me because he had SO MANY SECRETS that intimacy was impossible.

      Yes to everything you described and to my difficulty healing from it. 29 years, 3 kids and I cant look back on a single good memory because if I think about any of the moments which seemed good, I am left also facing the fact that he fucked up everything despite the possibility of good always being so close.

      This was my life too. I just wanted a good husband and father to his kids.

    • Oh, you were nothing but an obligation! But ex-hole let you do all the hard work! Dear unicornomore, you aren’t alone. It happens a lot. You were of use to him. As Chump Lady says, an appliance.

  • “His family loved and supported me, his mom said he was the one who wasn’t wired right. Losing them was the ultimate, but such are the casualties of cheating. So much fallout. ”

    Are you absolutely positive you are mourning him, or the people around him who valued you and told you so?

    Mourning him is mourning a fantasy.

    You are in medical school and in a good relationship. How do you have the energy to miss a liar and a cheat? Please, focus that energy on the REAL. He isn’t and NEVER WILL BE the person you pretended he was for years.

    You may be locked down with people who really matter and who will look out for you as much as you look out for them. You know he would lock you out on the street if you were there today. Or steal all the food and barricade himself while threatening to hurt you (further).

    He isn’t wired right. You are no longer in his clutches. Celebrate the moment and go study.

  • Thank you. I love this site, its so unique. I’m feeling a bit like the OP describes right now – “shocked at the light switch going off and the abandonment. I’m having a really hard time trusting that he sucks as a person just now.

    5 year relationship. He did give me lifts to hospital. He told me how close he felt to me, that I was his best friend, that I was his beautiful baby. As well as being kind, supportive and generous he was attractive, very successful and had a great group of friends.

    Then he left me. I was completely blindsided and shocked. We’d just bought a new house in a new city weeks before. He offered a long list of things he was angry about recently, as well as resentments he had from years ago, all relating to me, my behaviour, my actions or inactions. When I asked if there was someone else, he said “not really”. He did like someone, but it wasn’t why we were breaking up.

    But he’d told this person he liked her in the week before we split, so it seems he was lining her up to monkey branch to her. Met her at work, even though he said his career is hugely important and he thought the stress between us (largely from having just bought & moved in to a new house…why?!) was risking his career: don’t affairs at work risk careers? Apparently they “just got on” and she’s more like him so, I guess, better suited.

    He then slept with her, then slept with me, then moved out, and now says I need to get over it, move on and get out of the house so he can move back in. He has been financially generous and helpful, but in no way generous with emotion or information: he won’t tell me her name or anything about her, presumably to protect her and himself for any act of vengeance I might commit because “I’m too emotional”.

    He’s barely said a word about what our relationship meant to him, he says things like, yes, we had fun, but you can’t get me to change my decision, I want to split up… I don’t WANT you to change your decision, I just want you to actually show some remorse or reassure me the whole relationship wasn’t an empty shell?

    He’s talking to me like we just dated got 6 weeks and now it’s over and I’m overreacting. It’s been 6 weeks since we split and I’m still hurting a, lot, messaging him a lot (I know I know) and struggling to move out, though I did get a new place lined up, whilst coping with an intensive college course and various other things that don’t stop just because you get dumped, but it’s not quick enough for for him.

    I trust his handling of the break up sucks, I trust he’s treated me badly and coldly in the last few weeks. But I don’t think I’ll meet anyone who was as good to me as he was before all this, or as stable and successful. Which I KNOW sounds mad given what I just said, as truly stable people don’t hit 40 and dump their partners for younger women at work.

    There were truly no red flags in his behaviour that he would do this, he was not bad to me in the relationship. In fact, at the start, I was abusive to him, as I just wasn’t coping well with my life or my head at the time we met. So I feel like this is my fault in a way, I got us off to a bad start and I guess he never got over it.

    I still can’t believe this is happening, I can’t believe I’m on an infidelity forum talking about being dumped and cheated on, I just never, ever, ever, ever thought he would do this.

    He says it happens all the time, people break up every day. Helpful, thanks mister.

    • I am so sorry for your loss….and so glad you found us.

      If you stay here and read, go back through the archives, you will find one thing he said was true.
      What happened to you does happen all the time. In creepily eerily scarily exact detail.

      He is a type and he behaves according to type. He is a dime a dozen pond scum lowlife common little man.

      Many of us would give quite a lot to have only been in for five years instead of 20, 30, 40…..

      Welcome to the infidelity ICU.

      ❤️

      • Thank you for replying, I appreciate all feedback right now!

        I completely understand that most people here have had far longer relationships, 5 years is the tip of the iceberg I suppose. But it was long to me, and very special and important to me.

        I am thankful we never got married, although a weird bit of me thinks, well, if we HAD got married, maybe he would have tried harder and we wouldn’t have split up (I know that is absolutely insane logic, you can tell I have most certainly not attained the zen of meh yet!).

        We spoke about marriage quite often, he asked if I would take my last name. Only a few weeks before we lay in bed for a couple of hours chatting about wedding ideas… I punted that out, he said, well, I’d had a drink in me that night. Surreal levels of dismissiveness and cruelty.

        Here’s the thing: he’d never cheated before in the past. He’d had 2,long, monogamous relationships previously. He really doesn’t seem like the average selfish lowlife cheater. Until now,where he is being horrible. So I do kind of feel I changed him into that somehow.

        I see how frighteningly common this is… I can’t help but be terrified it will happen again. I could never have predicted he would, and everyone was shocked as hell. how can I see the next one coming?

        • My comment about 5 years above was not intended to diminish your relationship or invalidate your grief in any way. My intention was purely about wishing I had spent five years instead of 27…in other words JEALOUS. Maybe plant a seed where you might breathe a sigh of relief someday that you dodged the bullet at 5 years.

          My apologies if I sounded dismissive.

        • You didn’t change him into a cheater. It took me about six months to internalize that it had ZERO to do with me. Thinking it was your fault is a symptom of trauma.

          I was completely blindsided, believing 150% that I had married the nicest guy who would never ever ever cheat. I would not have guessed it in a million years. He has a reputation as Mr. Nice Guy that he works hard to polish. I know now it’s phony. Nice guys don’t lie and cheat. Con artists do nice things all the time. Lying and cheating is the character reveal.

          You have no idea what he was doing in his past relationships, but with what you know now it’s safe to assume he was cheating then too. I’d bet on it.

          • OMG – SO TRUE!!!! I foolishly trusted his loser a&$ for years only to find out that the “nice guy” was a dog! I feel stupid, sad and lonely. Wish he felt the same but he is with his LOVE, the one that “has more in common with him” – yeah she’s a cheater!!! Why are we the ones that feel awful and they get to have fun?

        • Hella, I’ve wondered about red flags for the future as well -If I’m ever brave and lucky enough to get in another relationship how the heck do I screen for this when my 2nd H seemed so perfect?
          In my case, all I can think of is that he was completely conflict avoidant. That’s 1 reason why our relationship seemed so wonderful- it was so easy. He needed a lot of validation, which is partly why he was so giving – he got a lot of compliments. Apparently his cheating partner gave him even more and better ego kibble.
          It’s always terrible whenever this happens , but beyond devastating for my children and I as it was a 2nd marriage…
          It’s tough on the Inlaw front as well. He is the golden boy in his family who helps everyone out and can do no wrong. They are simply worried about him. They dont see him in a negative light. I lost them too.

      • Thanks Velvet, you know I think I was reacting to him and not you – when I pointed out how devastated his dad was when his mum ran off and left him for a guy she met at work, he said, well that was a 16 year marriage with kids, it’s hardly the same. OF COURSE it’s not the same, but it was his way of minimising what he did and ridiculing my “over the top” or “out of proportion” reaction.

        I know you weren’t in any way trying to do that, I know you meant that there was an odd kind of bright side to this, which is true!

        Good point re trauma symptoms. We can all work on ourselves and do better in relationships, and some things, may contribute to a break up, but nothing contributes to cheating. The logical part of my brain knows that, the emotional part is trying to catch up!

        Mine also has a well crafted Good Guy vibe – was always so delighted when junior colleagues act like he’s the “cool fun boss”, lends money to family (then moans about it), very polite… But still did this and acted like its no big deal.

        I guess it’s just paying very careful attention to how they act with others, how they describe past break ups, how they are emotionally… No assurances history won’t repeat but I have a small amount of things to look out for a little now I suppose.

        Thanks again x

        • You’re going to be ok.

          Avoiding it in the future comes with ‘fixing your picker’.

          Keep in mind everything you know about this man is through the filter you have been given. His previous relationships may have ended with the exact same discard pattern and you don’t know. He sucks the persons soul and keeps them on the line but when he thinks he has a better model in the showroom he swaps you out. Your description of how good he is being sounds like you’re giving him a lot of credit for being ‘decent’ when in reality him being financially ‘generous’ after 5 years of being together actually sounds… legal in a lot of places. And kindof like you feel like he should be ‘worse’ to you. You deserve to be treated ethically, and well. The fact that he’s acting like you guys were roommates with a little on the side is actually terrible. The fact that he didn’t tell you any of these ‘problems’ as real problems, he has made you out to be bi polar to his ‘team’ of therapists and friends… youre stilll accepting it and thinking ‘aw gosh he’s so sweet because he’s giving me a fair buyout on the house’ hunny…. get fucking furious. He’s acting like you’re worth less than him, and that money is the only thing on the line. Use that to fuel your anger to learn to hate him a little. Start examining his action. Did he ever try to talk about issues? Did he over speak? Did he interrupt? Did he have expectations for you to meet? Were you allowed to have expectations for him, or were you kindof a kept doll? As you grieve you will start uncovering some things you may have minimized or not noticed which moulded you and made you take for granted that you were the one ‘benefitting’ when really, he basically groomed you to feel like he was the better partner and you were getting a steal. Trust that he sucks. His gaslighting will come to the surface. His cheating doesn’t stop with just one partner. You are escaping with only 5 years spent, and you need to define new boundaries, heal, eat some feelings, and be happy that someone who you kindof describe with robotically competent ‘relationship’ success… didn’t breed with you, because you would have totally ended up with the weird girls from ‘the Shining’ … ‘yes mother. If we can help mother. You are fine, but we are better, mother’ … I would make sure you aren’t walking away from a better settlement, but he also may just be trying to move on to the enchanting wicked witch for some reason… good luck.

        • Devoting 5 years of your life to someone is always a big deal…for many women, those are valuable years of fertility.

          I struggle to know where I would have deviated from my life as I lived it had I known more truth about how he was living. I cant wish away any of my kids…we were married just over 9 years when I conceived my youngest child. She is a lot like him but I love her so much (a strange dichotomy to live).

          And yet, when I look back…I saw times when he tried to dump me but was too cowardly. I have told myself that if he were going to say anything, I wish that he would have said “Im leaving this relationship and dont try to change my mind, my decision is final”.

          One mistake we all seem to make is to ask “why?”…we may as well load a gun, hand it to them, point it at ourselves and suggest that they shoot. That question opens the floodgates of abuse.

      • Velvet Hammer…you are a God send on this forum! Your insight, wisdom and experience helps us all so much. Thank you for having been there before us. God bless!

        • I agree, VelvetHammer you are always so kind and generous, people like you are why CN saves lives as well as CL xxx

          • Yes yes YES,
            ❤️💪VELVET
            Thank you for opening your heart to CN.
            You took all your pain and turned it into constructive wisdom for all in need.
            New Chumps are blessed to have access to your shared wisdom!
            Thank You.
            I wish there had been a CL, CN of Velvets in my lonely time of despair.

    • Hella, you’re freshly out of an unexpected breakup of a relationship so you’re undrrstandably hurt. I’ve met several men like your ex. I was dumped 12h after making plans about visiting my then boyfriend again (we were long distance then). I was going mad about trying to understand this switch.

      What helped me was to acept that this is how some people are. They’re very, very good at compartmenlizing. One day they’re totally into you, the next they dump you without looking back,ever. They’re very dangerous because when they’re into you,they’re sincerely in love, full of emotions and you can feel and believe it.

      They mess with your sense of reality because how come you thought they’re so in love when they dumped you next day? Yet this is exactly how they are, when they loved you they sincerely loved you and when they dumped you they are no longer interested at all and there’s no emotion. Until you understand this you’ll be untangling this skein. LW is also untangling the skein. Drop it,you can’t undestand it because you aren’t such a person.

      • That really rings true Persephone, thank you. He was indeed an expert in compartmentalising, he could keep different parts of his life and his feelings about things separate, he did it a lot with his family and at work, perhaps that is a warning sign in future.

        I am congruent and transparent to a fault when I am upset, so I can’t relate to people who can hide it and lie until breaking point then disappear. It is bizarre to me.

        At least perhaps it was real while the switch was on. The love and warmth just stopped the minute the switch flipped. I wish I’d seen it coming and not let myself get so comfy and dependent on him, I used to be so independent. At least that’s something I’ll gradually get back.

        Thanks to everyone who contributes to this site, people are so amazingly strong, insightful and powerful, it really gives people like me a bit of hope and a sense of solidarity.

        • If you bought a house together, is he willing to give you back your investment. Or is he just kicking you out expecting you to just take nothing for your share? If I had money tied up in the house, I would expect my money back before I moved. Perhaps the deal was to get your resources to buy the house, then dump you.

          Just color me cynical that way, but that’s the kind of things they do routinely.

          • Haha Tessie I’m pretty cynical too these days but no, he has much more money and earnings than me, definitely didn’t need me for that.

            The money I invested is being returned, but I sold my own place to contribute it, so I’m back to renting which I’m upset about, but can’t change it now.

            I read somewhere that they always seem to wait until you are in your most vulnerable position and it does seem to be the case here!

            • “they always seem to wait until you are in your most vulnerable position”

              Yes. That’s part of the pattern of abuse. Almost always, the abuser actively works to make you vulnerable.

              • Hand raised here!
                I never really thought of it that way, me being the most vulnerable at that time.
                But, New home✔️ Baby on the way✔️Small child✔️
                I ticked all the boxes when he pounced DDay on me.

                They really are all the same, aren’t they CN?

      • “Good at compartmentalization” is another way of saying “bad at integrating the various components of a normal personality.” The word “integrity” comes from the idea of these parts (e.g., values, words, and actions, with different people, over time) being integrated, or consistent. Not conflicting or changing suddenly without good reason. So these hardcore “compartmentalizers” truly lack personal integrity. It’s not name calling, but a matter of fact.

        • There’s compartmentalising, (we all do it, as a way to get by, eg grief sometimes has to go behind a closed door just so we can function. Then we open the door for a visit at times when we are safe to fall apart for a bit).

          And then there’s splitting. That really is hardcore and a characteristic of the disordered. And that again is not name-calling my friends, but a matter of fact.

    • Hella, your story is remarkably similar to mine. 5 yrs total (1 1/2 living together & 1 married). New home together, seemingly fantastic man. Amazing stepfather to my 3 kids. Wonderful father to his 2 young adult children. Strong family connections with his parents and siblings. Successful and generous man, well liked by his colleagues.
      Right before our 1 year wedding anniversary, I find out he was leaving me -because he was googling ‘how to leave your wife!!!’ Then a gut wrenching and traumatic conversation about how he wasn’t happy (News to me as I checked in with him all the time to see how we were doing) …. I was in utter shock – I couldn’t believe he was dumping me and I couldn’t believe he was dumping his stepchildren as they absolutely loved him and he seemed to have loved them. We had created a beautiful blended family.
      He adamantly swore there was no one else -just a friend who knew nothing about this and had nothing to do with it. It took me about a week to finally -after 1 million lies -get the whole truth. He had been having an office affair, she had three kids too and was married. He also wouldn’t tell me anything about her. I think his exact words were ´ I’m not going to tell you anything about her life.´ I did find out she’s younger, big surprise. He also kept telling me that he had made a decision. He also told me to move on. He too was generous enough with a settlement. He looked and sounded like a completely different person as he complained about my flaws in order explain his unhappiness. A month prior to this I was still getting cards saying I was the woman of his dreams blah blah blah. They broke up 2 families to be together. It’s hard when you can’t even tell yourself that you’re happy to be rid of the guy, because the guy you were with made your life great – until he threw a wrecking ball at it.
      This site has helped me to trust that he sucks… it took me a few months. Sobbed every day. I made every excuse for him on the planet and blamed myself. My 14-year-old still can’t hear anything negative about him, she absolutely adored him. As CL has said-anyone who puts their ‘happiness’ above and beyond everyone else’s – just like that – …has a huge character flaw. Now I’m thinking, it’s better that I find out now after five years together, rather than after 15 years together. But we are left with a huge mess of selling the house etc. Chump lady’s book as well as ‘Runaway husbands’ might help.
      I think my former Mr. wonderful is stunted emotionally at the level of an adolescent.
      But as CL says, what difference does it make? He sucks and I have to focus on me. You’re doing better than I was, it took me months to realize I didn’t want him back. Good luck to you.

      • X did same thing re: a handmade card for my birthday, saying, “so happy you are my wife; love you forever, etc.” 2 weeks later he’s screaming at me and walks out to go live with his girlfriend.

        To those chumps who are struggling with sudden discard, disbelief at what your spouse/fiance has done:
        Absolutely trust that they suck and always have. Everything was a big fat lie. They did not change. People do not fundamentally change at all.
        They dropped the pretense. Lots and lots of secrets all the time. With some cheaters, it becomes impossible to maintain the lie. Some last 5 years; some last 35-40 years. It is not about us at all. X lives a lie, always has and probably always will.

        • Chumpalou, I have already decided, if I’m ever in another relationship I’m insisting on no cards. Say your nice sentiment to my face! And even then… my picker is obviously very weird. I’m still working on convincing myself it’s not me.
          2 marriages with ongoing cards with extremely loving sentiments – and actions to match.
          2 abrupt ‘ I’m not happy.’ Both of them using weird and ridiculous reasons for breaking up a marriage ‘you like to decorate’. ‘ we don’t go to bed together at the same time every single night.’ WTF – both of them wonderful men until they weren’t. Both great dads. I found out the second one cheated, I never thought the first one did, but now I’m wondering? Hopefully therapy can help me out with this but even my therapist seems to be at a loss!

          • Zip…like to decorate???? That is really twisted (and funny too)!! I used to laugh at X for criticizing me with stupid shit. I stopped laughing when he got enraged and physically abusive. However, he also insisted on going to bed together at the same time. So weird!

            • Sorry that happened to you Chumpalou.
              Yeah, I was telling a happily married friend about H saying not always going to bed together at the same time as a reason for saying we were growing apart and she said she and her H don’t even sleep in the same room and they’re all good! Cheaters will say anything to justify their affair.

    • Hella…the really surprising thing? Is that MOST of us on this site NEVER saw it coming and thought we were in happy marriages. I had just nursed my husband through two years of cancer while he was in critical condition, almost dying a few times. After he had a miraculous recovery he insisted I remarry him on our wedding anniversary and repeat our renewed vows with an intense vigor. Five months later I caught him fucking schmoopie at the Econo Lodge and soon after dumped and abandoned. We all thought we had something we didn’t. Trust that they suck.

    • Hey Hella,

      I also have a similar experience to you, except that it was my wife who did the cheating and abandoning. Similar amount of time, except we were married for two years. All the comments on your post are great advice.

      I am sitting at 7 months since D-Day and my best advice is no contact. I was devastated by the discard and the affair reveals. I only wish now that as soon as she made her decision I would have walked away immediately and started no contact. Continuing to talk to them, whether it’s change their mind or understand their behaviors, only makes things worse. That “nice” and “loving” person has finally shown you who they are. They will only say more heartless and mean things that will only hurt you. An example of mine “we’ve only been married for two years, it’s not like it’s been ten”. Honestly, these after d-day conversations will only hurt you in the recovery.

      The pain is awful but it is finite. Distance yourself, and stick to no contact. And block. It’s been a tough road, but it does get better slowly.

      • “I only wish now that as soon as she made her decision I would have walked away immediately and started no contact. Continuing to talk to them, whether it’s change their mind or understand their behaviors, only makes things worse.”

        I have thought this a thousand times in the years since I was in this situation but when I catch myself thinking this, I remind myself that he would have used my feelings and family devotions (very strong at the time) to jerk me around.

        I did make the mistake of asking WAY too many questions…each answered by a cruel and hurtful answer.

    • Hella Determined,

      The words “at the beginning, I abused him.” set off warning lights just now.

      Wasband convinced me (for years!) that I had abused him. He even accused me if domestic violence during the divorce negotiations.

      When my lawyer heard that her jaw practically fell to the floor. Ridiculous. He’s 6 feet 8 inches tall and pushing 350 lbs.

      Soon I realized my actions were actually reactions to his hurtful and bizzare behavior.

      Please look up an article called The Myth of Mutual Abuse. Essentially, abuse is about POWER and control.

      May God be with you. You’ll get through this, even though it doesn’t seem like it right now.

    • I’m in an exact same boat. It’s just I haven’t moved out yet. Now I’m trying desperately to save my sanity.

  • When CL writes about fixing your picker she knows from experience. You were married to a bully who stepped right in your original family narrative. He abandoned you emotionally years before he actually left just as others had done. His behavior just continued the story. Your picker was faulty because your childhood robbed you of the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. In order to try to hang on to a sick relationship you developed ways to explain your experiences to yourself. They became habits. Habits are tricky simply because your brain is used to doing things the same way. He did a number on you. He’s a piece of shit.
    Find an ugly picture of him. Blow it up. Put it on a dartboard and every time you feel as if you are going down his rat hole throw a dart at him. He has no more power over you so keep reminding that sad part of your brain.

  • It seems that you blame yourself for his behaviour. It was his problem not yours. Your current partner, is probably everything your ex wasn’t. you don’t stop loving someone, it takes time, you know his behaviour was unacceptable. It could be PTSD, its the lies, and the stress, its common with cheaters. You have built yourself a life, enjoy it. Why are you thinking of your ex, do you think he was thinking of you. It sounds like self harm, your trying to hurt yourself. You can only control yourself you can’t control others.

  • To Have and Withold
    Your letter sounds so very similar to my marriage of 35 years. As I was reading it I felt the familiar pain of the
    abuse and betrayal. I realize now I wasted years trying to keep my marriage together with a narcissistic cheater.
    After my breast cancer treatment and surgery which I
    lost a breast to I saw how little he cared for me. Never put an arm around me or a supportive hug to make me stop crying with all the pain from recovering. He met the Owhore around that time and I was no longer wanted. I ignored red flags for two years while pick me dancing and lowering my needs to the point I almost had a nervous breakdown. He was cruel, cold and treated me with humiliation with her standing by him and laughing at my pain. I finally knew I had to save myself and divorce him.
    It’s now 3 years out and I’m still not at Meh but getting better. Karma appeared when the Owhore died and he quickly moved into another woman’s home where he is today. My son still sees his father although he realizes how morally corrupt he is. Your in a good place now having come so far and having a decent man in your life.
    I’m pushing 70 and my chances of meeting someone to start over are low. I have my family, friends and my beloved cats in my life that I’m so lucky to have.
    I hope you find peace in your mind and in your heart for you deserve it. Keep coming here to find friends who understand what you’ve been through and find the strength to continue to be mighty! God bless you 👍🏻

    • Why can these men never stand to be alone? Why do they have to go ftom one woman to another to another?

        • Why do they monkey branch? They don’t reflect. There’s no depth. All the answers are outside themselves. A lot of them don’t have male friends (lonely). When they are done, they are done. They’re really great at first, so there’s always some woman who’s ready to believe that she’s special – she’s this great guys perfect match. Sex. Neediness.

            • Mine didn’t have male friends. I always thought it was odd. I noticed he was always friendly with women more so than the men at work, or when dropping off our son at school he would stand around talking to the other Mom’s rather than the Dad’s. Not sure if he felt like he was a women or looking for attention.

              • Yes really friendly with the women, even the wives of his colleagues. More connected to his mom than his dad, a little closer to his daughter and his son… Everyone liked to talk to him, he was Mr. friendly guy. I didn’t think that would translate to him having what turned out to be intimate lunches with a female colleague.

              • Mine was the same! Never had men friends always women. I have heard from my friends’ husbands that they never trusted him. I used to think that he was more in touch with his feminine side & eschewed the macho type of male. Not I realise he’s just another narcissist who can’t live without constant kibbles. Oh and he was the most wonderful of husbands until we found out that he wasn’t. It’s uncanny how so many are so alike

              • Mr. Personality to other women. Like you CDU, I thought he was more in touch with his feminine side and sensitive. It was a con.
                I did find out later that some of the other husbands thought he might be gay.

                I remember feeling defensive when someone asked if I ever thought he’d cheat while on business trips. I foolishly answered, no, not at all, he loved me and his family too much.

                Yes, they’re very much alike. Finding CN and reading the posts it was like reading my story.

              • Zip, mine was also very roundly with the wives of his colleagues. As if they were old friends. He’d act interested in what ever they are saying. Too interested. Looking back (of course) it wasn’t normal. There was something telling me it was kind of weird but like so many things I brushed it off, thinking it was his sensitive feminine side.
                Funny he never showed that much interest in me or his family.

      • Guys please help me , after 13 years went through the entire discard process last year, rented out our home , depressed almost killed my self and now that I’m not physically living with him I still can’t let go , still meet up with him ect , I’m constantly breaking no contact and today he actually blocked me, I’m upset and a little ok with it , it feels like I will never let go and all I do is self distruct

        • First, you block HIM. On everything. Every day of no contact, give yourself a pat on the back. One day at a time.

          When you start down that rabbit hole, have something else you turn to that disracts or fills the consciousness. Moving ourselves in space also helps reprogram our brain. Go for a run? A hike? Maybe start something competely new, like learn to knit socks (if you don’t already) or something else you always wanted to do? Try to have something on your social calendar every day, or almost, that has nothing to do with you-know-who.

          Can you find a therapist? One on YOUR side, who won’t make it your fault IN ANY WAY?

          Or, I’ve found Aaron Beck’s Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy helpful for reactive depression even without a therapist.

          The cognitive-behavior therapy part can be done on a self-help basis in a pinch, and has helped me a lot in more than one situation, even though it doesn’t get into family-of-origin issues or traumas that may underlie our particular vulnerability to cake eaters. (The part about pharmaceuticals was kind of technical and definitely not self-help!) There are probably other, similar manuals on CBT, I just happened across that one.

          You WILL get better at this! And eventually, feel non-compulsive!

          Disclosure: I’m just an idiot who struggled _that_ badly with a long-term non-marital relationship. Better now.

            • ZULU23 – please realise that CL and CN are not kidding when they say THE ONLY WAY is No Contact.

              CED above has excellent advice, please take it. I’m being more direct and a little cruel to be kind.

              Staying in contact is basically self-harm. Sorry to be so blunt. But if you want to be well, if you want your OWN life – CUT HIM OFF. Then you start the healing.

              This advice comes from a 22 year married chump who he told by phone March 2017 that, as well as a ton of porn, he’d been going to brothels and gay clubs for last half of marriage, (when our youngest was a few months old), and it was because of me because “I wasn’t there for him” after our daughter died.

              Within a year of DDay he and one of my best friends (a widow) were together, within another 18 months they’d had 4 OS trips and bought a place in the city, where they now live (hour and a half away).

              So, I get it you see. I began proper No Contact Sept 2018. Apart from emails re the youngest two (now teenage boys, oldest son now an adult). They’re fairly infrequent these days, as he doesn’t see them at all any more (they interfere with Fabulous new Life, plus they loathe him).

              You are ten thousand times a better person than he is. Cut him out and start filling in the gap with REAL people who reflect back to you how great you are. Yes it will hurt like a motherfucker but just take that small first step, then another, then another.

              We are MIGHTY!!!!

        • Zulu23 Please know you are worthy of a good life. Without him! Focus on doing things you enjoy/like and keep no contact as much as you can. Focus on yourself. When things are too much have a mantra or some positives to bring you back to you! This guy is the loser here. You’re getting a chance to find yourself again. If no reason to contact /meet up like kids or business-then don’t do it! Check in here often and/or sign up on the Reddit board. I hope you have real life supports. Perhaps a counselor or even some antidepressants from your doctor . I started antidepressants and was able to function again. My anxiety was out of hand and no sleep. I’m sorry. You will get through this!!!

            • 2nd time for me being chumped (Married 20 yrs; 2 yrs with new boyfriend)and since I just start No Contact this week it’s been hella rough. One thing I repeat is I’d rather have a little of this pain then a lifetime of this pain. I also Watched a ton of YouTube videos about letting go etc. RC Blakes Jr does a video about soul ties. It was very enlightening. He is religious but not over the top about it because I’m not religious. Hope this helps. Keep coming here and expressing yourself or read archives and comments. Stay mighty xo sweet

        • If ever strict “no contact” was in order this is it….

          Yes you are devastated but he doesn’t care one bit. He more than likely at times pretends to care but he doesn’t, period. Please move on and if you do not have children look into options of relocating.

        • Zulu, a group of loving, supporting friends is precious. Don’t sit at home thinking how you shouldn’t call him but you will. Go out, run alone or do line dancing. Finf a second job or volunteer. Join a chat room or yoga retreat. Get busy and distract yourself. And when your fingers are itchy again to call, come here and rage.

        • It helped me when I realized that my rocky childhood contributed to my dependency on him. Also I was a bit hooked on drama, it was what I knew. Chaos felt normal and a peaceful life felt weird. It takes time to get free of the addiction/reliance on another person and the relationship, good or bad. The silence can be deafening at first.

  • Here’s a novel idea. Take a moment and embrace the pain – allow yourself to be sad that things just didn’t work out the way you wanted. Then move on. I feel like that’s more effective than expecting yourself to be perfectly happy or dismissive about it.

    • Yes, this.

      After 1 1/2 years of EMDR, my therapist who also specializes in mindfulness has moved me to state the things out loud that still plague me. So now I say the worse of the worse out loud as it starts circling my head and then state what my current reality is, i.e. I am a good man and father. After doing this it is gone or at least the emotion is gone. Crazy how our brain tells us what is a bad idea can be the very best in the circumstance. I am a big believer in touching the wound until it is healed. This way my vulnerability of ending up with another No-Change is nil.

      • Blue dog, I like this. Do you have any more information on this technique? I’m still working on not obsessing and it’s been several months. Thx

        • Sure Zip, this is straight from her email.

          “And here’s a process for you when things are difficult:

          Calming critical voice – it gets internalized around level 8 or 9. Try saying: I’m having a thought that _____. It dissolves the power, because we are seeing it as a thought and not the truth. Mindfulness makes us aware of these negative thoughts. If we label, then power starts to fade. Maybe even make a “top ten” list of automatic negative thoughts or the top ten things your critical voice in your head says. Notice the thought, the negative voice, it’s tone, what it feels like in your body, in your mind as you hear it; start by acknowledging or validating: this hurts, this sucks; use a gentle soothing touch like you would with a friend or a child; say, “May I be kind to myself.” “May I let this go, or grow from this.” Try a more compassionate voice, using words that feel authentic to you. Remember the critical voice just wants the best for you. So, we almost re-parent the voice, what we needed to hear, and rewire the brain eventually to have kinder, softer responses to ourselves.

          I hope this helps!”

          The part of our critical voice-only wants the best for us was something that helped me accept this method. The things I perceived as demons; those stupid thoughts were just warning me of threats that no longer existed. Many of my negative thoughts were things I suspected but never were able to prove. Not smart, I know, but that was what I had swimming in my head. I even use it when I cannot sleep. As in, my thought is, I will never go to sleep. The truth is, I can sleep. Dang, this one really works for me.

  • Closure is MY superpower that involves me, me, me and no one else but me.

    If someone came to my front door, I invited them inside, I realized at one point they were selling shit sandwiches from a picnic basket, and I asked them to leave, THAT is closure. Closure the door on your way out, Mofo.

    Closure is Chump Lady validating my experience

    Closure is Chump Nation telling their stories which are creepily eerily and scarily the same as mine. Like a disease or a virus we were all infected by….

    I just read “Cheating in a Nutshell”, an excellent companion to LACGAL. It worked like a tranquilizer on thoughts and feelings like our writer is having. Grab a copy!

    This sounds like lingering effects of TRAUMA. Which is treatable. That’s my plan. I don’t need to figure out the serial soul rapist. I need to address the trauma he inflicted on me.

    • Maybe the Chump Version of phantom limb pain mirror therapy would be to look in a mirror and read LACGAL out loud? I have found that talking out loud to myself really helps when I find myself ambushed by nostalgic false narrative about the cheater, self-doubt, or eating blameshift cupcakes.
      Talking out loud to myself while looking in a mirror might really help reroute those neural patterns.

      https://www.medicinenet.com/phantom_limb_pain_mirror_therapy_treatment/views.htm

      • I agree with talking to yourself out loud. I think it has some real means of breaking the rumination loop. I do it when I’m running or biking. Passers by think I’ve lost it, but by the end of the jaunt, I felt free and sure, once again. Creating the new neural pathways is a process. Slow or fast, it’s progress

      • I agree with talking to yourself out loud. I think it has some real means of breaking the rumination loop. I do it when I’m running or biking. Passers by think I’ve lost it, but by the end of the jaunt, I felt free and sure, once again. Creating the new neural pathways is a process. Slow or fast, it’s progress.

      • Velvet, I use this technique. I literally do this very thing. It has helped me when nothing else has comforted me. It has helped me “touch the wound” and heal. Providing my own validation keeps me from seeking it from fuckwits like xhole.

        I’m currently reading “Cheating in a Nutshell”! Thank you for the recommendation!

  • I could have written this with the exception being my ex is a product of his upbringing. My ex in laws are pure evil and taught him everything he knows.

    He married his affair partner(I’m trying to be nice). I really think his Mommy made him to “save face”. She’s getting abused in that screwed up situation now and don’t feel sorry for her.

    Now, I have a GREAT career, married to my own Mr. CL, and now have great friends and hobbies. There are occasional times of “phantom limb” pain but is it fleeting. No contact has helped tremendously and I would recommend it along with a therapist who specializes in abuse.

  • Dear To Have and to Withhold,

    Hey! You stole MY letter to CL. I could write, ipsis verbis, what you wrote. Both about being “guilty of reality-bending, crippling doubt, doing the pick-me dance for ages — leading to self-loathing” and being treated as an “inconvenience” (and also as a housekeeper and a purse).

    I had an anaphylactic reaction after an ant bit me and he complained about having to take me to the ER. And I swear he only did take me because he didn’t have the guts to omit himself. I could feel he was rooting for me to drop dead. He was so disappointed when I recovered. D-day was just months away….

    Take care! Let’s all start to become sober about this self-loathing affliction

  • Feeling abandoned sucks. I think even more so during a pandemic. Struggling a bit with the pull to invest further in someone undeserving of that investment.

    Also is the reddit community still a thing. I don’t have facebook.

  • In time and with the help of great resources like chump lady and chump lady nation and other therapies and good books, I learned about the kind of people who behave like STBXH.

    They can inflict a lot of damage while the CHUMP blithely skips down the flower path spackling and buying into the love bombing which eventually turns into crumbs which eventually turns into devalue and then to discard.

    The “great guy “mask is simply a cover for the depravity that exists within them.
    All the years of conditioning in my life had prevented me from seeing the truth because I did not want to believe it. Once I accepted it, my recovery accelerated on many levels. Meh is on the horizon.

    “Trust that they suck “is an excellent summary of the reality that these people are selfish, self absorbed and pathologically skilled abusers.

  • To Have- I sense a father issue here. You said you’ve worked through your family issues, but some of it never goes away. It’s baked in you when you’re a child, and you just need to work around it. Does this guy remind you of some relative of yours?
    Anyway, you’ve moved on and killed it! Be proud! I’m proud of you. You’ve been through so much, and kept your core values through it all, that’s a triumph.

    • Hi THATW, I could have written your letter too. I’m 5 years out from dday, and it’s been a journey. In your letter, I hear the echoes of post-infidelity PTSD. I too have abandonment issues from childhood that got ripped open wide by my ex. The pain, the rumination, the vulnerability, I bet most people reading this can feel your pain…..You are not alone…..I’m so sorry. It’s horrible. But it’s not forever. You can heal. There are therapies that help. Try EMDR. Set a timer and lean into the pain, feel it for 20 minutes, then get up and do the laundry. For me (and my sister the psychologist says there is actually a research study endorsing this) the magic has been to play bejeweled blitz when I start spiraling. It actually works for me. It changes my thoughts better than anything else I’ve tried! Lately it’s been solitaire on my phone. Honestly, When I can tell the rumination isn’t serving me at the moment, I can go from despondent to happy by shifting my attention. Other times, I can tell I’m grieving for real and just feel it. Real grief passes. Rumination spirals.

      I too have a successful job, great friends, etc (no dating yet, but I’m hoping the right guy will be looking to meet the right lady after this social distancing lifts :)) but the sometimes the spiraling takes a hold of me. I feel so empowered that I can stop it with a harmless game! I can honestly say that 5 years out parts of me have healed (going back to my childhood) that I never thought would. You can do this! Hugs and chocolate chips cookies to you. You deserve joy, love and peace.

      • It’s like the best club no one wants to join! 🙂

        I’m sorry this happened to you too. Thank you for the advice and support.

  • To Have……” it’s like looking in the rear view mirror and seeing a flaming wreck”…..to me that brings to mind a car ACCIDENT. Nothing accidental about his actions. Look in the rear view mirror and picture a junkie with a needle in his arm, wasted in a dump; picture a pedophile sitting in front of a computer full of porn. You pick, but change that image in the mirror……and then look forward.

  • When I told mine about spinning out on black ice with my two kids in the car and a transport truck coming he skipped right over it like I’d said nothing. Probably thinking of the insurance money he missed out on.

  • To Have and Withhold,

    What you wrote really resonated with me, especially:

    “I allowed it because I didn’t know better. Because, at the time, I thought what I was fighting for was a good future in which I’d invested everything.”

    In the midst of D-day revelations, I told STBX that he was demolishing our family and my life / purpose along with it. I was so baffled why he refused to DO anything or fight to save our marriage instead telling me that I was over-reacting, I was the one who was the problem – all the while continuing to cheat, lie, gaslight and manipulate me AND our kids. Having to be the one who finally has the courage to say ENOUGH only for him to turn around and tell the kids that I was the one destroying their lives since I filed.

    All of it was a mind fuck that ripped me apart. Looking back, revisiting it, reopens the wound but I hope that eventually the scar tissue will hold together, the wound will fully heal, and I can move forward.

    THAW – You are strong, you moved forward, you are making a new life! I send hopes of continued success and growing toward “MEH” when you think of ex-fuckwit!

    CL, I am going to print this from your answer and frame it…

    “Fuckwits and even well-meaning people are going to underestimate you. Don’t underestimate yourself.”

    My kids will love the fact it has “fuck” in it.

  • They can rent space in your head for a lot of years.

    I was betrayed by a man who has no honour. He’s proven it countless times.

    The shock does fade in time, but it’s a slow process.

  • I could have written this. Like word for word. I still have emotional flashbacks over his vacuums of plausible deniability and triangulations right under my nose. They floor me. But my life is good, except for the flashbacks.

    We did a reading at my ACA meeting the other night. It spoke to this. And I climbed out of a hole. ACA is Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. It works.

    It was the term “shame attack”. THIS is what my emotional flashbacks are. This is what it sounds like you are having. We need to do the trauma work, forgive ourselves and practice gratitude and self compassion. Easier said than done.

    I also read an epic definition of narcissism on quora. At it she essence, it’s the shame don unhealed trauma that creates it.

    Well damn if that isn’t the same shit we’re going through. I’ve used that definition to push me to work on this trauma and these shame attacks because damned if I’m going to be in the same same camp as these fuckwits. Work on your shame and be the better person you are. BEcause we are better.

  • Hi, I’m Stig, and I’m a control freak. Withhold, I hear you. I don’t think you have a self-worth problem, in fact I think you probably have very good self worth. So good that underneath all this pain and handwringing is a massive amount of anger that you are not willing to face and acknowledge. How dare he! How dare he not let you work this out so you have some semblance of closure. I know it’s hard. There is no sense to what they do. And they leave and that’s it. No way to negotiate, no way to change it, no way to take control of the situation so that it has any logic or mitigates the pain in any way, because you can understand why they did it. And if you understand, maybe you can do things differently that will change the outcome. You sound like a super-capable person, a high achiever who is used to acing everything. I am guessing that’s why you stayed and white-knuckled it with an obvious asshole, because You. Were. Going. To. Make. It. Work, dammit! You would not fail. And then he took his cards off the table, and there was nothing to work with anymore. So you were left going in mental circles trying to change things that were no longer within your power to affect. Face the anger withold, and let it out. Your pissed. He changed the rules, and that’s not fair! That’s what asshole narcissistic personality disordered people do. He cruised and let you do the hard work, then he let go. I think if you haven’t already, it might help to see a counsellor and tell them, I have this anger that is stuck and I need help. You need to cede the illusion of control and move on. Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.

      • It sucks it sucks it sucks it sucks it’s JUST NOT FAIR!!!

        And never will be. That’s about the size of it. Full stop.

        Stig, I cannot believe I am recommending a book called
        Everything is F*cked,
        A Book About Hope
        Mark Manson

        but I am. Recommended actually by my kids’ GP (teenage boys, struggling, you know …)

        I had imagined it would be glib and shallow but no – super well-researched, very funny, potty-mouthed like our dear CL and very very digestible. The author describes a phenemonon around pain – where one person causes pain without justification, creating in the hurt party a sense of injustice, and he calls this a “moral gap”.

        He says that it’s our “natural psychological inclination” then overwhelmingly desire a return to “moral equity”, and calls that “equalisation”. And that our desire for equalisation underlies our sense of justice.

        He goes on to talk about how we normalise persistent moral gaps, and how that effects our self-worth yada yada. excellent stuff, really, I recommend ALL of you read it!! hella, To Have …

        Anyway … I think what a lot of us get stuck on is the colossal, shocking INJUSTICE. There will never ever be equalisation. No karma bus, no nothing. Just us, our own lives, our own bus. What WE have control over. Which is, in the end, becoming Mighty and leaving the injustice on a kerb somewhere WAY back down the road.

        • This sounds very interesting MamaMeh, thanks for the heads up, I will be looking into it. I love your point, we want to be empowered again, and have the scales balanced, but we don’t recognize our motivation. Thank you.

  • Hi, I’m the original poster. I just want to thank Chump Lady for the bitch slap. I needed a reality check. So many of you offered insights that really helped me. It absolutely is a trauma I need to address. The anger is very real and paired with the loss of control.

    I suck at brevity. 🙂 Suffice it to say that the support and (sadly similar) stories have really been validating and healing to read today.

    I am grateful to all of you. I am trying to focus on the horizon. And do a better job of being kind to myself.

    Eventually, my brain will forget or reorganize around this… I am fortunate all in all.

    • Hey Wurmhole5, I read your letter at 3 years out, and thought to myself, “she’s pretty darn mighty”. After almost 19 years of marriage, and at 23 months out from a blindsiding D-Day/Discard, I can say that I feel so much of what you articulated, and hope I will be that closer to Meh by my Year 3. Godspeed.

  • Wurmhole, I’m in Aus and always get here late.

    Like I just wrote, read Mark Manson’s book, it ranks up there with Chump Lady in wisdom and sense and wit. I’ve already got most of this sorted but it’s great to have his take on it all put together. Yes I am underlining and asterisking, as I did with LACGAL!!

  • Congratulations To Have! You are rocking life. I am 3 years out and also have a great life. I think the trauma of what happened has changed us but we can still go on to have happy lives. I don’t want or need to know the details of my ex’s 4 year affair. I just need to know that he sucks and I’m glad to not be with him even though he presented as a nice guy and I loved him.
    Listen to CL and banish those thoughts that bring you down. Best wishes for your awesome life.

  • Wurmhole5
    I love your style of writing, your way with words.
    Sadly so many Chumps can relate to so many things that you said. I think that is the main reason that most of us are here, we just can never, ever, figure out how a person can treat us the way we have been treated.
    I mean Chumps here loved with all of our heart, we were invested in another human being, we became soulmates, until we weren’t. AND, we, the Chump, never broke that bond. It was shattered, destroyed, thrown dead at our feet, and most of us never had a clue. We never saw it coming.
    How do we deal with the hurt and the betrayal? That is the question.
    I suppose we do the very best we can, day by day. We help others along the way. When one is down, we stop, pick that person up and continue on.
    YOU have done this is your amazing life now. You really are strong, in fact, you are Mighty!
    Be kind to yourself, always remember it was never you.
    Leave your cheater in your rear view mirror, right where he belongs.

    ( I think you could write a book)!

    • Well said. You articulate the problem so well. One person bonds. The other person has no bonds.

      The End.

      Life struggle: how to deal with that trauma, process it, understand (in the marrow of our bones) it has NOTHING to do with us, our worth, we had no control over it;

      LET GO and move on.

      We all struggle with that Worm. Thank goodness for our fellow Chumps who tell us we are not alone in this inhuman crazy.

  • I haven’t read the comments and I almost got through the letter, but what I know it that your ex is a classic scumbag, sociopath. He has every classic sign: lies, cheates, lack of empathy/remorse, blames you for his shitty behavior, gaslights, gives you the silent treatment for questioning him and he is mentally abusive, and discarded you without remorse.

    Why can’t you let go?

    1) You are still suffering PTSD. What you went through is not normal. It’s happened to almost all of us who visit this site though, so it’s not uncommon, but it is crushing nonetheless to you soul. I

    2) You don’t value or love yourself. The latter is kind of a strange concept I had to learn myself, but if you truly honored yourself, you wouldn’t give a shit about the complete sociopath who is gone from your life. You will never get an apology, remorse, answers or any effort from him to make you feel better for the god awful shitty things he has done to you. This is also classic sociopath behavior. The moment you can understand and truly accept this reality as well as love yourself and know your worth, your life will get better and you will begin to heal. I’m not here to say it is an easy road, but you have to continue to nurture your self, your esteem, your body and your soul.

    I can honestly say, I could give a shit what my ex sociopath thinks or says now and I was pretty much at the point of not wanting to live post my D-Day. I’ve come along way, but I worked on myself and read CL like a devout Christian reads a bible.. Today I view him as very disturbed in the head and a tortured soul. Whatever he says or thinks or shares with his tribe – and he has endless friends and women willing to fuck him because he is wealthy — just rolls off of me. I just don’t care. He is soulless and miserable on the inside. Whatever happiness he pursues is fleeting. Those who associate with him are fake. They wouldn’t be his friend and the women wouldn’t fuck him if he didn’t have money. I find that laughable now. In fact, in general I think he is just a joke.

    Live your life now. Take steps to heal even if it is just a baby step everyday and you will heal.

    Hugs and love and peace.

  • Pema Chodron’s book “When Things Fall Apart” is a wonderful read on the journey of trying to make sense when bad things happen to us. I recommend her teachings to everyone and especially this book as well as “Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change.” A lot of these books can be purchased online from used stores, too.

    I found her teachings allowed me to accept my feelings of anger and hate and revenge and sadness and confusion and loneliness and the constant anxiety that came from being scared of uncertainty . It truly was a game changer for me. I highly encourage anyone suffering (and not just from abuse from a cheater) from loss or injustice or grieving to read her stuff. She became a buddhist nun after being cheated on by her husband. She was ANGRY and had to find a way to channel her anger. Buddhism helped. Her writing is very relatable and its a quick read.

    Here’s a link to a blog which shares some of passages: https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/07/17/when-things-fall-apart-pema-chodron/ Or you can google some on your own.

  • “We’re all here because someone we once loved rejected us in the most humiliating, traumatic sort of way. Or held on to us to front their fake life until we could reject them. It hurts like a motherfucker.

    The entire point of this blog, this community, is to make rejection your bitch. Learn from it. Be mightier for it.

    People are going to reject you in this life. Fairly and unfairly. Mysteriously. Abusively. You have to have an internal core of self-worth to stand up to it. To not internalize their judgements.

    I’m not saying be a dick, or be impervious to criticism. A good person self-reflects and weighs these things. I’m saying — GET UP AGAIN. Fuckwits and even well-meaning people are going to underestimate you. Don’t underestimate yourself.”

    THIS!

    CL, you should be a public health service announcement.

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