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6 Ways to Respond (or Not) to Character Assassination

liesfabricationsA lot of my Chump Lady mail can be divided into two categories, “I got chumped… what are people going to think?” and “I got chumped… and my cheater is telling people terrible things about me.” Both followed with “And what can I do about that?

Nothing. Sorry, chumps. You can’t do anything about what people think of you, and what people say about you.

Look, I know it’s unjust having your cheater telling bald-faced lies about how controlling, sexless, abusive, hairy-legged, and insane you are. Worse, I know some people whom you once thought cared about you (such as your in-laws) are inclined to believe it. This infidelity crap is a one-two punch — betrayal, and then more lies.

Okay, maybe it’s more like a continuous thug-kicking by a motorcycle gang than a one-two punch. Betrayal, lies, character assassination, gaslighting, alienation, and alimony. Anyway, my point is, leave the impression management to the crazies. You just keep being your mighty self.

Some pointers:

Never let what people might think of you get in the way of protecting yourself. That especially goes for what the cheater thinks. Oh, I might antagonize him if I see a lawyer/move half the money/run a credit report. Hey, your cheater didn’t worry about antagonizing you when he/she cheated on you, so just go ahead and protect yourself. Stop caring about how you’ll be perceived (i.e., bitter, vindictive, selfish, churlish, hasty, etc.) Start caring about reality (i.e., this person is fucking me over).

Speak the truth, but stop at defensiveness. There’s no good way to answer set-up questions like “How long have you been beating your wife?” I don’t beat my wife. “Oh you would say that. Six months? A year? Ever since you met?” The temptation is to raise your voice and really get stroppy. I DON’T BEAT MY WIFE! Stop. You just missed an important clue — your questioner is fully invested in that narrative. You answered the question. They either believe it, or they don’t believe it. In the case of infidelity (and not fictitious wife-beating), the truth is you were chumped. That’s what happened. You don’t need to defend yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong here. Frankly, you don’t have to answer any personal question you don’t want to.

Speak the truth, and realize that your cheater probably got to the narrative first. One way chumps get chumped is when they agree to the “we just grew apart” story, and keeping “private matters private,” they think the cheater is going to play by the same set of rules. You won’t talk smack about them, they won’t talk smack about you. Oh chumps, your cheater has probably been talking smack about you all along. Shaming you into being quiet ensures that their narrative stays on top. That’s why cheaters get so ugly when you do start speaking up — you’re tilting at that balance of power. Disordered people need their impression management so their manipulations (and Sad Sausage story lines) keep working on everyone.

People who believe the worst about you don’t know you. Not really. This might be one of the single most awful things about life post-discovery. People who you thought knew you, really don’t. Their attachments were shallow. It’s hard enough to realize this about a spouse or partner, it’s even more gobsmacking to realize it about your social circle. Well, of course Dorothy got cheated on. She’s frigid. Unlike me. I have sex with my husband! This person doesn’t know the inner workings of your bedroom. Maybe the lie makes them feel superior. Maybe the lie gives them some weird false comfort. Who knows? What matters are the people who do know you, and have your back. Invest your energies there.

People who believe the worst about you probably have a vested interest in believing that crap. You don’t control that. Your in-laws turned on you? Better you be the monster than believe their son or daughter is a lousy person. Not their special Pookykins! Maybe they’ve been believing all the crap said about you for years, and now that the affair has been revealed, they’d have to admit they were mistaken. Why be wrong? Who are you again?

Character is revealed over time. Who we are is revealed every day in every little action and decision. No one is perfect, but the arc of someone’s character — how giving they are of themselves, how considerate, how reciprocal — is perceptible. The people who matter aren’t swayed by your ex’s gossip and trash talk. The shallow people who are? Please, stop caring what they think today.

This one ran before, but the message could stand a repeat I thought…

Ask Chump Lady

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  • They also have a huge head start in the story. This is what justifies their actions in the first place. You will never catch up, don’t try.

    • This hits home. She went around town telling EVERYONE that I was this controlling, insecure, misogynist, wife-beater deadbeat. I guess me being the cook, gardner, repair man, AWESOME dad, great and LOYAL husband meant nothing, right?
      Of course, I realized that she needed to create her narrative to avoid the shaming she was getting from her own family. Her own denial of her fuckedupness is a prime example of her lack of moral.
      This is a great article. I know it’s easier said than done when you’re still numb from the shit hitting you like a ton of bricks but, the minute you stop caring and trying to defend yourself is the minute your healing begins. Remember, the best revenge is just DON’T GIVE A FUCK!

  • I’ve told my story here before but the twat was telling people in the local skank bar that I used to beat him up when he came home from work. The problem with that was (a) he might actually have to go to work occasionally for me to beat him up when he got back and (b) my reaction when I was told this (in front of a fraternity of his “believers”) was to burst out laughing and say “what a cunt” (sorry, that’s not quite as offensive in French as it is in English but that’s basically what I said). Then I walked away laughing. More recently I’ve been disabusing his mom of quite a few things. I’ve stay in touch with her occasionally over the years and she doesn’t like latest schmoopie. She was telling me that she couldn’t understand how the twat (her son) had upped and left France quite so quickly – how did he get it all sorted so fast. So I told her “he didn’t, he just abandoned everything and I ended up emptying his 3-bedroomed farmhouse and took the newly-acquired dog back to the pound, forwarded his mail and put the “debtors bank” back in touch with him”. She also made some comment about how “relieved” latest schmoopie was to be back in the US as she really didn’t like France. So I just told her that they had been to the French consulate in D.C. to ask for a French “green card” for her and they were refused. Little by little it’s all coming out, but then I didn’t care that much if it didn’t. Anyone that got to know my ex over time would soon realize he was batshit crazy!

  • It does not seem fair does it? They cheat on you and bad mouth you to whomever will listen. My ex sure made me out to be a crazy person. Told so many lies about me I am sure a movie script could be written. I was angry and embarrassed at first. But, I realised that I had no control over what he said or what people thought about me. I suspect he lied to Skankella to make her feel sorry for him. She had to save him from his nutjob of a wife. I am sure I was a good joke to them.
    I know what kind of person I am. My children know. I may have made bad choices in life. But, I never chose to cheat on my husband. Or cheat with a family members spouse.

  • I use an old Anon saying as my Harry Potter spell for this one:

    WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF ME IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS.

    The only exception I make is when our daughter reports him badmouthing me to her. It’s a habit he has that was revealed before DDay when she was nine. She came to me telling me he had said I was selfish and only think about myself. Yes. The “man” who was lying, having affairs, and hiding money from me while I was going to therapy with him trying to get him to talk. That was my first clue that something was rotten in Denmark.

    My standard response when he does this is to tell him this:

    WE DON’T TALK ABOUT PEOPLE; WE TALK TO THEM. I also remind him it’s a form of emotional abuse.

    If any smack talked about you comes your way, you can put the cheaters right in front of the freight train from the comfort of your saddle and say “well, I don’t say anything about someone unless I say it to them.”
    (I got that one from an old-timer at my morning AA meeting.)

    Wise people, the kind you want in your crew, totally get that the person who talks about others is the jerk. I have taught my daughter this as well
    She talks TO people, not about them.

    And that’s what counts.

    • PS…a marriage is doomed to failure when your partner talks about you instead of to you. That’s also a good standard response.

      • If you make a habit of not saying anything about someone unless you’re going to say it to them, you will avoid a world of problems in life.

        I have taught my daughter this her entire life, and many a kid on school field trips.

        Of course it is over the heads of cheaters, who create SuperFund sites out of the lives of all they come into contact with.

    • Thank you Velvet!

      My daughter told me the same thing – actually she screamed it. “The divorce is all your fault – you’re so selfish, you only care about yourself and you are ruining our lives!” She then told (screamed) that STBX told her I refused to go to therapy / reconcile. WTF? Gee here is the email gave to your dad 4 months ago with the contact information for therapists who could fit us in ASAP asking him to select the one he felt comfortable with and make an appointment. Nope — he was too busy to take the time to do it.; then he wouldn’t go because I finally filed after he a schmoopie disappeared for two days.

      The amount of smack he talks about me to her is just amazing. I will start using “you talk to people, not about people” when she acts as a proxy to deliver his insults, lies and misinformation. Any suggestion on dealing with the triangulation / parental alienation? He is doing a bang up job on that front as well.

      Losing the in-laws really sucked too since the they were the only geographically close “family” without Alzheimer’s (my widowed father).

      • You don’t say how old your daughter is, but here are some things I’ve found helpful;

        – say clearly ‘your father shouldn’t be discussing this with you. But when he does, I want you to feel free to ASK me about it. If what he’s saying is correct, I will tell you so. If it’s not, and I have proof, I will show that to you. If I don’t have proof, I will just tell you what I know happened. I won’t badmouth your father, but I won’t leave you believing lies about me, either.’

        – if you show her proof of something like that, recognize to her how upsetting it must be to see that. If she asks why her dad would lie, just say ‘I don’t know, sweetie. I just know that I will always tell you the truth. And if I don’t know something, I’ll tell you that, too.’

        – in a calm moment, you can tell her ‘I know you get contradictory info from your dad and I, sometimes. I can only imagine how confusing and painful that is for you. But it’s also a good opportunity to work on a skill you’re going to need all your life; observation. Think about what you’ve observed about your dad, and about me, over the years. Think about what you saw happening in the time before we separated, and since. Observe how we are acting now. Gather the facts you do have, and your observations. Then reach your OWN conclusions about what probably happened, when you can. And when you can’t, practice accepting that sometimes we don’t know what really happened.’

        – also in a calmer moment, you can say something like ‘Maybe your dad lies about what happened, because he wants to make sure he continues to look good to you. But your loving him or having a good relationship with him doesn’t depend on what he tells you about me. More and more, over time, it will depend on how he treats YOU and how you SEE him treat others. Later, when you’re an adult, it will also depend on how you treat him, which I hope will be with honesty and authenticity and self-respect. I hope that you can have a good relationship with your dad, but that depends on him, not me, now.’

        And keep in mind that kids actually behave the worst for the people they trust the most. Unfair, but it’s how it goes. She knows she can scream and accuse you of things, when she’s in pain and so confused. You won’t walk away. Who knows what her father might do?

        Let go of that rope, but don’t let him get away with lies.

      • I really hated losing the in-laws, too. For twenty years, I considered them family. They dropped me like a hot turd right after I left him with what I could carry after my sister-in-law clued me in on his cheating. She *knew* he was cheating. I told her about the abuse when I was having a meltdown over the cheating. With 20/20 hindsight, I can see that he was talking smack about me for years — to his sisters, to his mother, to the nieces and nephews I considered my own. It’s really hard to realize that these people I thought loved me would believe his lies. I guess blood is thicker than . . . whatever.

        • Are you me?

          My in-laws dropped me, too. The one who is a “marriage counsellor” (one weekend of training via the Catholic Church) and completely sanctimonious about supposedly hating domestic violence, cheating etc, was appalling. When I disclosed that the X hit me, he said “you must have done something to deserve it!” He also gave the cheating a complete pass. I can only imagine how appalling his “marriage counselling” must be.

          A sister-in-law who used to post regular anti-DV messages on Facebook says I deserved the violence and eggs on my X’s ongoing harassment.

          It hurt for the first few years after I left. I bought their hypocritical facades when I was with X. I thought that after 27 years, they were my family and would at least be decent to my kids. Nope. They encourage the X in his ongoing crap (4 years after I left!) and only contact the kids (17, 20 and 24) to berate them over not contacting their abusive father.

          I imagine the X was probably talking smack about me, too.

          Anyway, I know I am a person with honour who protects her kids. They are enabling jerks and hypocrites. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

          • Sorry you had to see the in-laws drop their masks too. It hurts to lose them but they weren’t who we thought they were.

    • These are truly wise words for all of us to add to our repertoire.

      I’d add this one from my therapist: Never talk negatively about someone who isn’t present. (It’s fine to ask about someone’s health or share a funny story or express actual concern, e.g,, “Have you heard from GoodFriend? I know she’s having a bad time since her father got sick.”)

      And this one: Don’t be the third party in a dispute between two people. (That’s important to teach kids, and a corollary about not taking ABOUT people.) That teaches kids to notice when someone is trying to manipulate them to join in a conflict.

  • Gosh this was such a hard hurdle to get over for me. What everyone else would think. I had such poor self esteem by the time he was finished with his work. I was certain that everyone knew everything about me already. I was perpetually hiding already like a mouse. I had in-laws who really didn’t care or contact me about anything. They would call the house and ask for Disney daddy even after 34+ years of marriage. I was still an outsider. Now our children treat me the same way as he did/does and I’m forced to coparent 50/50 with him. I’ve started drawing boundaries on acceptable behavior and explaining why I do certain things with our children. I live in hell.

    • Chicken……..if your kids won’t go to therapy with you, can you go alone? With the express purpose of learning how to manage your kids brainwashing by their ‘father,’ and to help prevent them from becoming his Flying Monkeys? Your local abused women’s shelters often have lists of good counsellors. Therapists and counselors now do phone or online sessions. Research Narcissist Extensions and Narcissist Flying Monkeys. Any reading /therapy you do helps so much.

      • We all do therapy except Disney daddy. DS13 goes weekly. DD11 goes monthly because she won’t talk about Disney daddy. Just clams up. Disney daddy once went into her room when she was little and yelled at her to go to sleep because she was crying (age 2.5 approximately). She was on an asthma medicine that can cause vivid dreams at the time. I kept taking her off of it and it would stop. The doctor kept insisting it wasn’t the medicine even though it was a listed side effect. We eventually stopped the medicine. The nightmares continued but I blamed that on Disney daddy. He did similar abuses to son. Has threatened to throw away their toys because their rooms weren’t clean enough. He went as far as to bag toys in garbage bags and put them in a closet for a few days. Now I’m the mean mother who suffers their wrath. I go to my therapist either weekly or biweekly. I pay for all the therapy out of pocket as his insurance is not accepted by the therapists we see. No CS (50/50 custody) as I make more than on my disability insurance than he does working. He has been known to cherry pick jobs so work offerings are slowing. They are figuring out he’s picky at his three side jobs so he gets less offers. His main job is guaranteed work but the overtime is supposedly going away if you believe that. Disney daddy is a lifetime liar club member.

        How’s them apples! It’s all rotten from here.

        • Take a deep breath. Disney Dad is driving you nuts via your kids. Stop explaining yourself to your kids…..when they accuse you of something off the wall, calmly ask why would they ask that question? What would possess them to think that you would do such a thing? Then calmly listen. If they say Disney Dad said xyz…….tell them you have no idea why he would say such a thing and you are sorry that have to hear xyz but you can’t control what Disney Dad says. Disney Dad can swear martians are living in his closet, and we know that not to be true, but again, you have no control over what he says. Let Disney Dad be the nut job, tell lies, make crazy accusations, time for you to take control. One big key is to keep your home organized & peaceful. The kids are going to need a refuge with a father like Disney Dad.

          • Yesterday was the only day I tried to explain as a rebuttal. Usually I just take it or reinforce a boundary. Yesterday I just finally had enough. It was everyday some comment about how Disney daddy is better. Disney daddy meanwhile is texting me and driving me insane. I’m getting minimal sleep. My foo has been eliminated because they are not helpful. I’m drowning. I’m human and I can only take so much. Everywhere I turn is another wall.

            • Chicken; Keep telling the little buggers that they are being disrespectful and rude. Say that you love them, but this is YOUR house and your house rules are that you treat them with respect, and they must treat you with respect as well. Your job as a parent it to call them out when they act rude and condescending.

              Tell your ex he can text you once a day only and keep it about the kids.

              I would explain to them that comparing parents is disrespectful. How would they feel if you constantly told them how much better behaved and accomplished your children’s friends are ?

              Looks like your ex wants them full time to have you pay him maximum CS.

              I am sure you are documenting of this, time, date, etc.

              • I unfortunately can’t limit his contact. It’s in the custody agreement. At least for now it is. I have done the disrespectful talk. I’ve even done the you aren’t allowed to do that to each other. You don’t like it when sibling does it to you right? Right! I don’t like it either. Results in a brief respite < 1 hour usually. Then it’s back to beat mom.

                He may want to have them full time CS and custody but he’d have to quit working. He would hate that. Loss of image management unless he could spin it properly as poor sad sausage. I’m sure he could probably work it until he found some idiot, I mean nice person to help him.

                Most of my documentation is done via a court ordered coparenting app. I did manage to force his hand there. He kept balking at it previously for multiple reasons. Nope, the court says use it. Now he’s only using it half assed. I try to keep everything flowing through it.

          • This is very good advice. CC, don’t worry if they don’t talk about their father to you. Concentrate on your relationship with them and don’t assume that what is going on now will be what goes on forever.

            Follow KB22. Work on your own self-control and mental health. As much as possible, don’t think about DisneyDad or his doings. You have no control of any of that, and if you try, you make things worse for you.

            Focus on you, your home, your kids, your health. The more you claim your own life as your central focus, the better things will get. And if your therapist isn’t helping with this issue, find one that will.

            • I have been encouraging them to stay out of it as much as possible. Information Disney daddy has been lobbing at me has been coming from our children at times. It’s things only they would know. I don’t go fishing for information about Disney daddy. Disney daddy had insisted on tucking our children into bed and waiting until they fell asleep to leave their rooms. Control issues. It is now expected by DD11 to this day. DS13 has outgrown it. I get to bed around 11. I get up again at 6AM to repeat the cycle. Sleep is sketchy even on pill #3. They are spoiled and do next to nothing around the house. They used to do chores. Disney daddy stopped encouraging it when he was still here. So it ceased.

              Yesterday was just enough. I’m human and tired. They are taking turns. Disney daddy has me defending against crazy claims in divorce process. Example I have undeclared bank accounts. I spent hours one day doing 3 credit reports, trying to find a bank I never knew existed, calling them to CONFIRM I didn’t have an account, and intermittently emailing Lawyer S with status reports. That was just one day in crazyville. I’m sure it cost me at least $300 in legal fees. It’s just one example. Want another? Go read the FUCK thread on Reddit. I’m venting a spleen over there too. I’m trying to take the higher path. Once in a while you stumble and fall. I’m drowning and crying. I can’t go NC. I was told it would get better multiple times with different milestones by Lawyer R. I feed two lawyers. He moved out. Temporary custody agreement. Custody agreement. Child support. Child support hearing. Divorce hearing. Nope, it just amped up the abuse. Yes I’ve read a few books. Lundy Bancroft, chump lady. Yesterday was just too much. 😞

              • Here’s the thing, Chicken, you do not need to communicate on more than one platform. You can, and should, limit his contact, especially if it is stressing you out. Drama is meant to keep you off balance (this too is in the Cheater HaNdbook), especially during custody hearings and property division. Keep your eye on the prize. Make sure your lawyer is working for you (and not allowing you to respond to anything which is crazy, untrue, or adding to the drama) and not unnecessarily padding his wallet. Nothing needs an immediate response, unless it’s an emergency. So, take your time responding to valid concerns and throw out the rest. X also gets to parent now too so let him! Children are work and even the best parent needs a break. Rules at each home can differ as well. Get ahead of that. Chores are done by responsible people with character and get out that chore chart. Schedule your days now. The great thing about losing the disordered is that you can now have that fairy tale. You (and yours) are enough and they need sane more than ever right now. Who the fuck cares what your x does/believes (as long as no harm is done)? This is your life, your rules. I would also let cheater know to communicate with you by parenting app/lawyer only. In an emergency, he can call. Nip that abusive texting in the bud, texting is only for people who care about you, not crap people who don’t. Keep reading here, Chicken, you are “early days,” grieving, and trying to sail a boat taking on water. Step back, practice extreme self care, focus on your children, and that fair settlement. This is all you are going to need to gain a better life. (((Hugs))), you got this.

              • @Drew
                My custody agreement says I cannot limit his contact with our children. So I have to let him call. When they hand me the phone and he starts to yell at me I say goodbye and walk away from child. Some of his abusive texting is actually on the coparenting app. That should be helpful later but not so much now. Because it’s there when I open it. No way to avoid it. Court also mandated email communication And having my phone number. I call my children directly on their phones that he deliberately purchased without consulting me. Against the custody agreement parenting decisions plan that is spelled out in one section. His lawyer even sent a letter saying he was going to do it!! I yelled at lawyer R to make him stop. I got lame ass excuses about can’t control what he does in his own home and that phone has limited features….. (I quickly had schooled lawyer R on several options available for said plan – 13 smartphones at Walmart alone thank you!!). I keep getting told to play by the Fing plan and Disney daddy wipes his ass with it. Next up coparenting classes. Mine start tomorrow afternoon!! 🤮

    • ChickenChump, I know how difficult your situation is especially with teenagers. I went through this with my son. Ex had been confiding in our son about my alleged mental illness and who knows what else before ex walked out.
      Our son knew he was leaving before I did.
      Sorry to say my once close relationship with my son no longer exists.
      Find a therapist who is educated on parental alienation, for yourself. It’s a living hell.
      Been there. Take care

    • Digital and Chicken, Id post more but I’m not able to login with my computer. Using the correct password. Anyone have any suggestions? I’m able to login with my phone using the same password.
      I keep losing my posts on my phone.
      Find a therapist who is familiar and has experience in parental alienation. It was too late for my son by the time I got him in therapy he refused to cooperate in therapy. Influenced by ex who told him therapy is a bullshit profession and he didn’t have to listen to the therapist.
      It’s heartbreaking and cruel for a parent to rob their child of a normal relationship with the other parent. This isn’t love, it’s abuse.

      • They won’t go to therapy. I have asked them repeatedly but they say no. I asked my lawyer to try to make it happen but nothing as of yet. Some days I miss when I could pick them up, buckle them in a car seat and take them wherever I wanted them to go.

        I have TWO therapists though!!

    • ChickenChump –

      I there with you. It royally sucks. My teens run to his new abode when I try to set boundaries or follow-up on quarantine at-home schooling. It makes good parenting and age appropriate discipline impossible. I never know when they are going there, or when they are coming home. It’s crazy making.

  • When I was telling my family and friends about my awful marriage and abusive situation, he accused me character assassination. He said I was trying to turn everyone against him. I was hundreds of miles from home with no friends or family, and hardly any money. I needed support.

    This, however, did not stop him from slandering me on the air of a local morning radio show! Even some of the other hosts were like, this can’t be true…

    Found out yesterday that same show has been syndicated to a radio station about an hour north of me. It made me want to barf, but how much can my ex have to say about me after a year of no contact? I won’t know because I won’t be listening.

    • This has been a hurdle for me as a chump. I too often have worried that to describe what my life with him was like–simple description–is to engage in character assassination. I have had to tell myself often that it’s his own actions that indict him, not my saying what he did.

  • I should tape this one inside a cupboard door. Learn it off by heart. Make it the lyrics of an awesome song. Gold.

    Begone, cares and troubles over what shallow people think. Just muddying up the Meh.

  • I am lucky in this area. She is so inept most of the people we know don’t believe her and a few try to remain neutral. My actions have always spoken for themself. Even better since I have removed myself from her assylum I am getting back my old self and I don’t care what most people think. My favorite saying on this topic is, “There are some people that if they thought well of me I would think less of myself.”

      • Hope I get this in the right spot. Following a thread isn’t my strong suit. Serendipitously today on quotes and the opinions of others I found this while I was listening to some stuff, “Maslow defined self-actualization as “being independent of the good opinion of others.” I love a good “coincidence”.

  • My cruel narcissistic ex husband probably slandered me years before I knew about the Owhore. He even told our son terrible humiliating lies about me. The Owhore told me when I caught them together that I had a terrible “odor”’down there and quote “he goes down on me.. not you “ and then they both laughed. I’ll never forget that devastating feeling of betrayal. Only a few of the many lies and intentional words to crush my heart and soul after a 35 year marriage. Somethings are unforgivable.

    • That is just downright cruel Kathleen. I remember her getting her comeuppance though. These things don’t have to be true but because they are intimate they are so hurtful. Good riddance to him (and her) honey!

      • Attie
        Thank you for understanding. Yes Karma showed her face. It’s ironic that we were having sex all the time and I know I was always careful with hygiene.
        I guess ignoring the red flags was my downfall but I loved him for half of my life not knowing I was sleeping with the enemy. 😈
        Good luck to you and stay well friend ❣️

    • And look at the classless pig he ended up with Kathleen. I believe they end up right where their lack of character lands them, in the gutter with their equal.

      The cruelty was unnecessary. That’s how we know they are disordered assholes.

    • That is horrible Kathleen. What kind of adult does that? Jeez. Knowing nothing else, I know you are better off without him in your life. I’ve read a lot of stories of cruelty on this site and that one is among the worst.

      • Doingme n Fern
        After I had a mastectomy from cancer he even compared her hugh breasts telling me “her breasts are fabulous “. Owhore died 2 years ago and he immediately moved into another woman’s house.
        So sad 😞

        • That quote right there tells you all you need to know. “Her breasts are fabulous,” not she is fabulous, but her parts are. That’s pretty much the disordered. Now there’s an empty shell for ya!

  • My ex assassinated my character online when online journaling was so new that only computer geeky people had them. Thought I wouldn’t find it.

    So, so many ugly lies.

    (Also documented all of his gleeful overspending in the days leading up to his court-ordered payments though, so that was useful.)

    He systematically dismantled my relationships with every mutual “friend” over a 2-year period with his lies. The grief was devastating for me.

    I know now, not one of those people was worthy of what I was offering to them. No person who was worthy of what they were receiving from me would have been willing to walk away from me without talking with me about what they had heard. I am better off without them.

    Many years later my ex is still very web-public. Several failed marriages later with none of the same friends left in his wheelhouse, moving to a new city every few years, but dropping loads of money and living a life that looks very shiny on the internet surface… I figure those people probably all eventually learned their mistake in trusting him — but that’s theirs to sort out.

    In the moment, we chumps worry, “maybe it really is me…” because we know we are imperfect and the cheaters look so shiny, so happy, so together. But I see through the cracks. Multiple failed marriages, no lasting friends, can’t stay settled anywhere, the ex is just oozing through a life with all the glitter but no substance.

    I am definitely the one of the two of us who won a real life by shedding that dead weight.

    His denigration was temporary. My freedom and joy and love for the beautiful things in life are forever.

    Anyone who believed him is missing out on a heart that would have loved them fiercely until the end of their days – mine. And I am finally able to recognize… that is a huge loss.

  • He badmouthed me to the kids before he left (I did not know). After he left the kids (19, 17 and 14) he yelled at them and told them I was “crazy” and “insane”. Ranted about how he’s been putting up with me for 30 years. This cost him his 17 year old daughter (disowned him). Our 19 year old son with aspergers stopped talking to him about his personal life. Our 14 year daughter only uses him for money. Oh and this was all before we knew about the OW. Its worse now.

    He thought the kids would support his pursuit of happiness and be grateful that he finally got rid of me. He saw himself as the superior parent and thought they’d choose him over me. My 19 year old son even said “he’s living in fantasy land”.

    I’m grateful to have the support of my kids but there are days when I think I just can’t do this anymore.

    • My ex did the same. He also convinced me that they agreed with him that I was crazy, abusive, etc. Given my FOO issues, I bought into his narrative even though it did not correspond with the relationships I had with all three of the kids. He was very sure that they would abandon me; I have emails in which he taunted me about it. Fortunately, he was such a lousy dad on top of being a shitty husband; his badmouthing only served to infuriate them. It’s funny, after dday, I was willing to try to work things out and my kids talked me out of it. My son actually threw him out of the house and my youngest, who was still in high school threatened to move out and in with friends if I let him back in – she was 17 and the only minor child. Through the entire divorce process he blamed his estranged relationship with the kids on me and even tried to claim parental alienation. Luckily by the time it ended they were all legally adults. Three years later and they are still no contact.

  • My ex was talking shit about me for years. Nothing major, mostly petty, small lies. When I found out, I admit I was a bit shocked at first, but I have never really cared what others say about me. So once I got over the initial shock, I ignored. If someone is stupid enough to parrot lies back at me about me, or others, I tend to just give them an “are you f’ing serious?” look and then ignore. It always kind of surprises me when others are so bothered when they discover someone is lying about them. I’ve witnessed this happen to others too. I can usually tell when someone is full of shit because people’s actions always tell who they really are. If you’ve shown nothing but integrity, why would I believe it when someone else with an agenda comes along and starts talking shit about you? It makes the storyteller look bad, not the victim.

  • Some families are just toxic. They see the wife as someone that “stole their son” and this jealously and competitive feeling is sometimes so strong that when they finally have a vessel to let it all out, you’re like: wow!! I did not see that coming!
    With my ex, I also realized he “used” me to get away from his overbearing parents, and when he finally got his successful career and every other thing he found important, he just opened the gates for the pit bulls to attack the “horrible woman” that had kept him away from his lovely family.
    There was also a lot of jealously from his mom and sister towards me because people would praise me as a woman and mother and now I can look back and see how much they resented that.
    Basically, he can come back to his rich family like nothing ever happened, he blames me for being between then and they can blame me for being a horrible wife and the scapegoat for the fact that their lovely son was capable of abandoning them.
    The other “friends” now can rest because our perfect relationship is no more and the idiot surrounds himself with these “supporters” thinking they are on his side when secretly all they want is for him to self explode. That’s why 99% of the time that’s what happens. They try to find supporters for their stupid trainwreck of a plan (OW also couldn’t care less about all the destruction, quite the contrary, she’s WINNING after all!) and no wonder 5 marriages and 2 bankruptcies later they finally get what they deserve.
    These people know very well that we are good and resent us from the beginning, the hate they felt towards me was devastating. To realize people hate you so much just because you tried your best to be a good mother, wife, and person is mind-boggling.
    I see a lot of my story in the whole Harry/Megan story. The difference is that she married a real prince and I married someone that thought he was one. He wanted to get away from “The Firm”, found someone different enough to shock them and make them hate, even more, he is the “poor guy that is being taken away from his family by the witch”, she is (like me) thinking she is the most loved and lucky woman on Earth and buys into the whole story (I have to admit I really believed I was his princess and the one who had him under my thumb), and when Harry gets his independency and get to be his own person and wants to get back to his Royal Family, guess who’s going to get all the hate? Bad Megan.

  • I agree with what CL wrote here. It’s an older post and I have read it several times. However these cultural words of wisdom
    can have the unintended consequences of keeping the chump’s mouth shut. They protect the perpetrator. My cheater has cleverly used words like these to bolster his impression management and subtly undermine me and my story. We’ve all heard this:

    -There are two sides to the story
    -If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything. (keep your mouth shut)
    -You need to take the high road (keep your mouth shut)
    – Don’t be a bitter ex wife who has to slam her ex all the time (keep your mouth shut)
    -Don’t talk behind people’s backs (keep your mouth shut)

    A master manipulator like my cheater, can use this to his advantage to shift blame to me. It feels colossally unfair and it fills me with anger. I have worked with my therapist practicing how to speak small nuggets of truth without hurting my own reputation more than his. We all know the Narcs are master of image control and they will win. I speak the truth, but I choose my words carefully and concisely – but I will not remain silent at this point. So, for example, when an older woman stops me on the street to tell me how my ex’s new fiancé is happier than she’s ever been her life, I look confused and say, “I wonder if she doesn’t know he’s bisexual? It was such a shock to me to find out he was meeting men in hotels. Hmmm maybe she doesn’t know… anyway, I’ll see at you later” and then I walk calmly on. For me, speaking up was the only way to get my power back.

    The flip side of the coin is that I work hard in therapy learning to be better at giving myself validation – to strengthen a solid core inside myself that will help guard me against the pain of people minimizing and discounting my story. Some of us struggle harder than others coming to terms with letting go of what other people think of us. Being liked and being accepted is deeply ingrained in our DNA. It is my biggest struggle, but I will get there.

    • Great post, KathleenK…this has been so true for me as well. Ever Since I busted her, my cheater of a STBXw has been hell-bent on trying to control the narrative.

      “Why do you have to tell everyone I cheated?!?”

      “Because they’re asking why we’re getting divorced. I don’t mention it unless they have asked a specific question to which your infidelity is the only true answer”

      “It just makes you look bad.”

      “Oh I dunno about that, Hon. Most people respect someone who tells the truth even in situations where it is painful and possibly humiliating.”

      “Well, I just think it makes you look bad”

      “And here we see a paradox, right? For literal years, you went around fucking people, emotionally abusing our family and secretly telling friends what a terrible person I am…yet now you are concerned that answering someone’s question about why we are divorcing is making me look bad.”

      Etc etc

      My short answer has settled here:

      “There is an easy mechanism to prevent me from telling people the truth. It’s called an NDA and my lawyer will be happy to sell you one with my signature on it. Until then, everyone gets to laugh at your bag of sex toys.”

      • Digital and Chicken, Id post more but I’m not able to login with my computer. Using the correct password. Anyone have any suggestions? I’m able to login with my phone using the same password.
        I keep losing my posts on my phone.
        Find a therapist who is familiar and has experience in parental alienation. It was too late for my son by the time I got him in therapy he refused to cooperate in therapy. Influenced by ex who told him therapy is a bullshit profession and he didn’t have to listen to the therapist.
        It’s heartbreaking and cruel for a parent to rob their child of a normal relationship with the other parent. This isn’t love, it’s abuse.

      • Digital and Chicken, Id post more but I’m not able to login with my computer. Using the correct password. Anyone have any suggestions? I’m able to login with my phone using the same password.
        I keep losing my posts on my phone.
        Find a therapist who is familiar and has experience in parental alienation. It was too late for my son by the time I got him in therapy he refused to cooperate in therapy. Influenced by ex who told him therapy is a bullshit profession and he didn’t have to listen to the therapist.
        It’s heartbreaking and cruel for a parent to rob their child of a normal relationship with the other parent. This isn’t love, it’s abuse.
        Having trouble posting…

      • I think Tracy supports telling your side and not keeping it to yourself.
        People will believe what they chose to believe and we have no control of what they think.
        People who don’t know us or who have a vested interest in believing the lies and siding with the cheater/liar are going to believe the worst and side with the cheater no matter what we say. Let them go. They enjoy the excitement of sordid gossip. You’re not going to convince them otherwise. If it’s important to you tell your truth. No one believed me or would say they couldn’t see my ex being a cheater. Not Mr. Nice Guy.
        People who support us and know who we are will believe us.

        • brit,
          You are absolutely right that Tracy supports speaking up and that we have no control over what people think.
          I have been surprised by the support given to me by people who appreciate hearing my side of the story (again, very short version). And it’s odd because my side of the story is the “sordid gossip” sort. The truth is very very sordid. His story is sunshine and roses and just “growing apart; too bad she is angry and bitter”. So technically according to the cultural narrative, I am the problem. I speak the truth now and that is what is empowering – not the reaction of people. Speak up!

    • Kathleen, you don’t need any (self-) validation and your core doesn’t need strengthening because you did iota wrong. A woman who stops you on the street to tell you how happy his fiance is, is after nothing but hurting you. A piece of utter $☆€€¥. And I like your answer to her, good for you!

      As to your comment a bit above on smelling – why did he stay married to you if something bothered him so much? If for whatever convenience, then this doesn’t paint a very favourable picture of him. If the things weren’t so bad then him saying such vulgarities around doesn’t paint a favourable picture of him. In both cases, a person with at least one brain cell would know what kind of person he is and how much he should be believed.

      I hope you’re recovering and spending less and less time thinking about your ex and what he said or is saying and more and more time focusing on yourself and what you want.

  • I just opted out. After sending heartfelt “good bye” emails to the members of his family who I had a positive relationship…I closed all contact. Anyone who stayed friends with him (very few actually) I walked away from too. No contact.

    I’m sure he was spinning his stories about me…but it didn’t matter. Those folks were out of my life.

    I know not everyone can do that, but I highly suggest going no-contact with anyone in your cheater’s camp as soon as possible. Maybe you experience a loss right away, but the long term peace is worth it.

    • Absolutely. I did the same. Well, I didn’t send any heartfelt goodbye emails, not one of THEM had reached out to me, so I just ignored them. Including the one couple who were supposed to be ‘our’ friends; turned out they’d known from the start, but declined to tell me.

      I was very lucky, the judge awarded me the whole amount from the sale of our home, so I was able to move many miles away to start a new life.

      None of them know where I now live, all of them are blocked everywhere, and I have a new email address none of them know.

      But, like you, I realise how very fortunate we are to be able to do this, and my heart goes out to all the chumps who have to be in semi contact with the cheaters, because of children, or aren’t able to move away. It’s absolutely horrible and unjust – Kathleen, the vicious cruelty of what was said to you makes me sick, but remember it just underlines what vile, evil people they both are. 😈

  • While we were married I cared so much about making her happy and doing everything I could to fulfill that. It was such a punch in the stomach to learn the truth. I guess that’s the main reason after D-day, separation and divorce I could not care less about whatever narrative she decides to tell people. I don’t engage or care what other people think about me…I know the truth and those who know me KNOW ME. And the funny thing, I have the tightest and best social network of close friends that I’ve ever had. That circle is smaller for sure, but by design. I don’t invest in people who aren’t worth the investment.

    • Same. I did so much for him and tried so hard to make him happy and everyone saw it. Bad-mouthing me makes him look worse. He has his little harem of hussies (all of whom knew about each other) that I’m sure he’s been telling lies about me to for years, but those women are trashy af and I could care less what they think.

  • It is amazing how going through the chump experience changes the way you look at things. Like most people who have been staying “safe at home”, I have been watching a lot of TV for entertainment. I watched Big Little Lies, and my perceptions of the story were certainly influenced by my personal experience after surviving my FOO, and 2 cheating ex’s. I didn’t have physical abuse, but the verbal and mental abuse were very similar. The women in this story were all more concerned with how other people saw them than with what was real. The lies almost killed them, almost destroyed their families and the social structure of their lives.

    I’ve also been watching The Sopranos. I saw the original series, years ago, but watching it now I am seeing many things I missed at that time, It is also about perception of reality being different from reality. Lies, impression management, dreams, desire, warped morality, the ugliest parts of human nature — there are character studies for everyone!

    I think the point of dealing with Lies told to or about other people is that you cannot believe what people say, and you cannot control what other people do, or what they want to believe. It disrupts our entire society. I am particularly disturbed by reports of things which happened years ago, and how accurate your memories are. I am not the same person I was at 16 (Thank God!), or 26, or 36 … . Should I be judged now for any stupid thing I may have said or done then? Should I judge someone else by another person’s memories? Do they have an agenda? Do they see themselves as other’s see them?

    All I can do now is deal with my own perception of reality. I try to make decisions now based on the observed actions of other people. I rarely believe anything other people say if I cannot see consistency in their actions. I do not like sanctimonious, holier than thou folks, and try to avoid them whenever possible. I have not been perfect, and I do not expect it from someone else. What I do expect is for thinking people to have a moral compass, and to own and learn from their mistakes. Not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk. It may kill spontaneous interaction on my part, but it also may save me from making the same mistakes I have made in the past.

    We all were programed from childhood with the cultural norms and expectations of our social circle. Some of those belief systems were very dangerous. It is our responsibility to think before we act, and to consider how we behave towards others. We cannot make someone else do what we think is the right thing. I have two sons, and I believe both have a moral compass. I do not believe they are perfect, and I know they have made mistakes. It is more important to me that they own the mistake, make corrective action and move forward, than it is that they made the mistake in the first place. If my influence on my sons has accomplished that goal, I believe I was a good parent. I could not afford to buy my children’s affection, and even if I had the money, that is not what I would want to do. The most important thing I did in their lives, in my opinion, was to be there. They could always count on that, and to me having that safety net is the greatest gift I could give them. Whatever their Dad did or did not do or say really does not matter much today. Time and distance, and learning to cope provide a different perception of reality. If you live an authentic life in the real world, the lies others tell will not defeat you.

  • Clowns may be colorful and attract a lot of attention, but at the end of the day, real people know when they’ve been given free tickets to the circus.

    • Great comment, trust in your true friends to believe you. Generally people love something to gossip about and it’s you, until a new circus arrives in town.

      • Yes! That’s how I feel. Just ran into some former friends that recoiled like I was spewing Covid from 50 feet away. Okay, maybe a little exaggerated but it was awkward, probably all the more so due to my cheerful nature. I mean, other people’s weirdness is definitely not my problem.

  • Not a nice chump
    I so agree with you —anyone who stayed friends with him is not my friend. I enforced this for everyone except my kids and my nephew. Yes it hurt at first but it was much easier in the long run. You really find out who your true friends are

    • Agreed! I even had a couple of his friends make very kind gestures toward me, to remain in my life. But, not worth it. They too had been fooled by him and, sad as it all made me feel, I couldn’t have any of that around me. Too many triggers. Too much potential for drama. They mostly understood.

      My ex, however, was flabbergasted when my family and friends dropped him like a hot rock. He made all kinds of terrible accusations at me, spun out of control, had these tearful speeches about his “heart” and his “life’s work with these people.” Shouted at me that I MUST have forbidden them to contact him! It was all evil me, pulling the strings. It took all my willpower to not just absolutely level him with forwarded emails and texts from my support system calling him a dirtbag and a fraud. But to what end? It would have eroded my mantra: “keep my side of the street clean at all times.” All I’ve ever said to him was “everyone gets to decide for themselves who they support. Neither you or I control that.”

      But, even his outrage was transparent. It’s not that he TRIED to keep in touch with these people, it’s that they DIDN’T actively reach out to him. They didn’t reject him, it was just radio silence. In the end, his entitlement to their attention and efforts caused him more consternation than anything else.

      • My ex was stunned when I told him he would not be welcome in my family’s homes in England ever again. This was more in connection with the violence than the cheating, but either way, he was horrified. As was my sister’s cheating asshole who basically bankrupted her and their four children to be with a Russian whore he met over the internet. Of course the whore was “madly in love with him” until the money ran out. But this dickhead thought my family would still welcome him with open arms into their homes when he needed somewhere to stay on his trips to England. SMDH!!!

  • Whenever I find myself getting worked up about the utter nonsense that my ex-spouse and/or ex-partner have said, are saying, and will undoubtedly keep saying to others about me, I picture the two columns I’ve drawn up in my head: Those Whose Opinions I Care About, and Those Whose Opinions Mean Nothing to Me. Then I rank the people who’re in that second column–and, funny coincidence, the two at the top of my “nothing to me” are both my exes! Cheers me up every time I do this little mental exercise.

  • I lost a couple of friends whom I really thought were “ride or die.” I couldn’t be friends with them when I realized that, even tho they knew everything my ex did to me-they were still hanging out with him and inviting him to their get togethers. It took me about 8 months to finally let them go. I’m still a little sad about it-but-I wouldn’t go back.

    And yes-my cheater did the “Can we just agree to tell everyone it was ‘Irreconcilable Differences?’” tactic.

    By then-I knew what he was up to. I agreed.

    So-now-when people ask me what happened-I say, “Irreconcilable Differences. He needed a wife AND a girlfriend-and I couldn’t reconcile with that.”

    • This! Without fanfare, I’ve taken to saying “well, obviously relationships are complicated, but basically he wanted to date young women and I wasn’t cool with that.” It’s pretty funny to see people’s reactions!

      • It really is, isn’t it?

        Usually people break out laughing because it makes an awkward situation a little less heavy!

  • Thankfully, those in our social circle had a hard time believing his badmouthing. First thing he would say is that we had a sexless marriage. When I was pregnant. Saying how I was so lazy, when I worked the job that actually paid our bills. Saying how cruel I am when they’ve all seem differently in my actions and in conversations. The only one to buy the lies was his mother, until she had a conversation with me and I just spoke the truth. Adding the ways he had failed to be a good husband, then me blocking her from my life for 6 months until she had a true conversation with me. She understands and appreciates my boundaries when it comes to her son. Especially since she can only have a relationship with her granddaughter by not crossing them.

    • YES!

      My STBX marched in with me, our 2 week old baby and 2 year old twin boys to my OB-GYN follow up appointment-to ask the doctor if there was a pill like Viagra that he could give to me to increase MY sex drive!!!!!

      What a POS….

  • People are taught that it is compassionate to listen quietly and sympathetically to people who are ranting and upset. And it’s amazing how few people seem to realize that listening quietly and sympathetically to some backstabber who is saying vicious, untrue things, about someone who is not there to defend herself, is NOT compassionate, or in any way the right and good thing to do. Especially if the person being trashed is a family member or friend or even just a decent person. You either challenge liars or you enable them. Listening quietly and sympathetically is sometimes just a cowardly form of betrayal.
    One of my favorite MLK quotes is, “Silence isn’t always golden; sometimes it’s just plain yellow.”

    • ^^ Yes, I totally agree, Mardi Meh. One of the things that shocked me most after D-Day #2 is that my STBX (we are both women) had told a dozen people – including many old friends and her dad – after her affair. Not a single one of them seriously advocated for me, or told her that they couldn’t listen and support her until she had told me. I felt very betrayed by all of them, and guess what? Only one of them responded with empathy when I tried to tell them how I felt about the way they had handled STBX telling them about the affair.

      So, I’ve cut them all off. The separation and divorce will make it very easy not to speak to any of them ever again!

      • Oh LezChump, I feel for you more than you know. It’s amazing how spineless people can be. I actually found it easy to forgive a couple of people only because I know they don’t even stick up for themselves. Which is exasperating but at least it felt more like timidity than disloyalty in those two cases. But except for those terminally timid two (who weren’t even that close to me) I am baffled not only that people did stay silent, but that they COULD stay silent. I can’t listen to people I love being slandered–or even people I just like or respect. I will listen to honest people vent about a boss or co-worker who’s causing them problems at the office but it’s another thing entirely to listen to one friend or family member unfairly and dishonestly or disingenuously trash another. Not to mention that the trashers in such cases are so often people who have no allegiance to the truth.
        I had a sister-in-law who was so brilliant at standing up for people and ideas that she believed in without alienating anyone or even raising her voice. I try to be like her even when I deal with backstabbers and liars, instead of just getting shrieky and aggressive. (I actually had a calm and civilized conversation with an anti-vaxxer the other day!)
        When I start feeling really hateful I blast out Peter Gabriel’s Mercy Street and sing along. It helps.

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