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The Dying OW’s Confession

Dear Chump Lady:

My soon-to-be-ex, was a serial cheater. D-Day #1 was in August of 2018, when one of his mistresses sent a confession email to me at my work email address (with pictures attached!) to tell me how “sorry” she felt. Even though she was sorry, she used a fake name for her email. At the time, I was pregnant with a very wanted (and surprise) baby after struggling with infertility for years. I was a mess, and decided to work on reconciliation with him. We went to 5 different marriage counselors, a marriage retreat, and I saw an individual counselor. I really tried.

During 2018/2019, I received more “trickle” truth, including discovering multiple online affairs (he had 25 fake email addresses), hookers…. it was a never-ending bottomless pit of pain.

Easter Day was D-Day #2. I discovered that he had cheated on me in 2014 and again in 2016 with a friend from college. I knew this woman. She was diagnosed with cancer at age 30 and I assisted her with her estate planning, and I tried to be super supportive. I would often send her notes of encouragement. I had a family member around her same age die of cancer around the same time, and I was trying to help her.

I was floored when I discovered that he had cheated on me with HER. I sent her a message (we had been friends) in April of 2019, which she read, but never responded to. I worked hard in my individual therapy (I was diagnosed with PTSD when I was 9 months pregnant) to deal with the trauma of multiple lies/serial cheating. I have made significant progress, and then this…..

On December 23, just 2 days before Christmas, this OW sends me some sort of”confession” letter since apparently she’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“Hi *She Persisted*:

I am very sorry for the pain I have caused you. I really did like you and hated myself for being the cause of any pain to you, when you were nothing but nice and supportive to me. I did you wrong and for that, I will always be sorry. You didn’t deserve this. I don’t know what “*STBX* said but I imagine it’s not the whole truth. It never is.

I found out a couple months ago that my breast cancer is now stage 4. No idea if I’m going to be around for a couple more years or be that rare outlier. I am looking back and seeing the things I did wrong and what I wish I could do right. You were high on that list. Words cannot truly convey how sorry I am. You are a good person.

I won’t bother you again. I hope you have a long and happy healthy life. If you want to send me a message cursing me out, my inbox is open. If you want to call and curse at me – xxx-xxx-xxxx. Just because I’m terminal doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a curse out.


AND NOW, I am emotional wreck, once again. I already have bad memories of discovering this affair on Easter, but Christmas too? Why now?

Please help me make sense of this, CL and CN. I just want it to be Tuesday already.

Thank you,

She Persisted

Dear She Persisted,

Just what you wanted for Christmas — affirmation from the Other Woman that you’re a good person. And bonus — she likes you!

Can you return that Christmas present for an itchy ill-fitting sweater instead? Or a flaming bag of dog poo?

Stage 4 cancer doesn’t make the OW any less of a fuckwit. A more unfortunate fuckwit, yes, but still a fuckwit. You reached out to her in April 2019 — nearly two full years ago. She could’ve sent her regrets then. Or better yet, never fucked your husband.

But now that she’s dying, she would like some absolution to hedge her bets against Cosmic Judgement Day.

Okay, whatever. Her misfortune has nothing to do with you. Cells divided weirdly and gave her cancer. That’s random. Could happen to anyone. Your pain, however, has everything to do with her. It’s not random. She inflicted it. Willingly. Over the span of YEARS.

But, but Tracy! Cancer trumps all. She Persisted must find her grace and forgive this poor wretch!

No. That’s not required. Forgiveness, if you believe in it, is your own personal journey and whether and when you decide to forgive is your business and cannot be on your abuser’s timeline. That’s just more entitlement. (CALL ME! GIVE ME CENTRALITY! NOW!)

Look, you might decide to forgive her, and then keep it to yourself. No need to traumatize yourself and expend energy on the OW. Or you may decide to reply to her note with a single sentence: “I forgive you, and never contact me again.”

That would call her bluff. Because I sincerely doubt she wants forgiveness for some afterlife accounting of her sins. I think she wants a last hit of centrality. She wants to be ENGAGED with. Called. Discussed. Worried about. Invested in. And I would totally deny her that.

Not because you’re spiteful, or take pleasure in her cancer, (who you are was made abundantly clear when you tried to HELP her through cancer the first time), but because she fired you from the job of caring about her. And she must live with that or explain it to her maker.

So what to do with that non-apology apology? Let’s feed it to the Universal Bullshit Translator. Its quarter panels are expanding from all the holiday cookies. It could use a work out.

I am very sorry for the pain I have caused you.

The nameless nebulous pain that has no subject.

I really did like you and hated myself for being the cause of any pain to you, when you were nothing but nice and supportive to me.

I, I, I, me, myself, me.

I miss you being nice and supportive of me. Especially now that my life is in the shitter.

I hated myself so much that I fucked your husband in 2014. That’s why I did it again in 2016.

I did you wrong and for that, I will always be sorry.

So sorry I can’t actually utter what I did exactly that I’m sorry about.

You didn’t deserve this.

I really didn’t care if you deserved it. I’m sure I had some handy justifications for fucking your husband, which escape me now. But now I have cancer, which I totally do not deserve, and the weighty matters of cosmic injustice are suddenly of interest.

I don’t know what “*STBX* said but I imagine it’s not the whole truth. It never is.

He sucks! We are sisters united in his suck! Let’s conspire against him and be friends once more! He lied to me too. MORE even!

I found out a couple months ago that my breast cancer is now stage 4.

You should care about my boobs.

No idea if I’m going to be around for a couple more years or be that rare outlier.

Manipulation channel is set firmly on sad sausage.

Oh fate, you cruel mistress. The sort of mistress that fucks your husband and expects a Get Well card.

I am looking back and seeing the things I did wrong and what I wish I could do right.

I wish I could do right, but my dividing cancer cells make it impossible for me to, say, leave you a large legacy for emotional damages.

You were high on that list.

On my “Things I Did Wrong” list you were just above jeggings and too many Jaegermeister shots. It’s a long list, but you were in the top 10.

Words cannot truly convey how sorry I am. You are a good person.

I’m not leaving you any money, so please accept this generic compliment.

I won’t bother you again. I hope you have a long and happy healthy life.

Unlike me. (sob!)

If you want to send me a message cursing me out, my inbox is open. If you want to call and curse at me – xxx-xxx-xxxx. Just because I’m terminal doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a curse out.

Because I’m terminal I feel entitled to your attention. Just like I felt entitled to your husband. And your forgiveness. And you can send me one of those edible arrangements if you feel inspired. Radiation cannot kill my entitlement.



She Persisted, don’t give her Easter or Christmas or Arbor Day or any other day. The OW’s days may be numbered, but yours deserve to be free.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I’m Catholic, so my view on it is very simple. If she needs absolution, she needs to call in a priest. Even simply from a religious/theological standpoint, SP, you do not have the power nor are you *required* to have the power to clear her sins. I’m not denying what CL’s saying about this being manipulation, I’m just saying even if it wasn’t, it’s STILL not your department.

    • I’d agree. If you must respond, I’d go with “This seems like something you should discuss with a priest or counselor of some kind.”

  • People always have a reason for doing what they chose to do. When they get caught they tend to put it out in the most heart-wrenching terms.

    Cancer sucks. It is my worst fear. But, this person chose to destroy your holiday. She chose to use her cancer to make it so that you can’t fight back even though she gave you permission to do so. She knew that you wouldn’t because she knew you are a nice person.

    I guess the question that I would ask would be this: if the STBXH were to go and hold her hand through her cancer, would she let him?

    I think the answer to that would be absolutely. I think she’s just looking for another foot into the door, for somebody else to help her time of need. Maybe you, maybe him, maybe someone else’s husband.

    I’m hoping she’s barking up the wrong tree.

  • Can you imagine a life in which repeatedly cheating with a man who is married to a friend who helped you through cancer is not CLEARLY the worst thing you’ve ever done, but only “high on that list?” Ambiguously, casually, the way rocky road might be high on the list of your favorite ice cream flavors, or “Afternoon Delight” might be high on the list of your guilty pleasure pop songs. Only someone with ZERO conscience or empathy can live or even think this way.

    Also, I wouldn’t take her word for it that she has terminal cancer. Plenty of people fake or exaggerate health crises. And one thing we know about this woman is she has no integrity and is skilled at hiding the truth. #HumanTumor

    • Damn that’s a good point. She didn’t say it’s the worst thing she ever did! What could be worse? Child abuse?

      • Agree! Nomar makes a really good point!

        “High on that list” belittles the betrayal. It’s reminiscent of the “I-made-a-mistake” language popular with cheaters. A mistake. Like forgetting to buy milk.

        Also, ever the chump, I didn’t even consider that the OW might be lying about the severity of her illness. Narcs tend to exaggerate illnesses for attention. And cheaters lie. They can never be believed.

        She persisted, please don’t respond at all. As CL says, there’s “[n]o need to traumatize yourself and expend energy on the OW.”

        • Yep if they just make a mistake (albeit) over and over again; then that is no different than the time I ran out of salt. We both did things wrong, so lets just move on.

        • Wow! That is just a new low! But for her to message on Christmas, that was a purposeful attempt to ruin your holiday.
          In fact it reminds me of my mother in law.

    • I don’t believe dying story either. She wouldn’t be the first person who faked serious health crisis when discovered and/or faced with consequences.

      If she does have cancer. very sad but you’ve already done everything you could, supported her, helped her with practicalities etc. until she fired you as her friend. You don’t need to expose yourself to more abuse just because your abuser has cancer.

      Also, Isn’t it that the cheaters often confess, reach out for major holidays, just to spoil them for everybody? Writing you after a year and a half??

      Ignore and don’t think about it. You’re a human being, too, with feelings, PTSD and a small child. Take care of yourself.

      • This happened to a former co-worker. His stay at home wife left him for another man and left him with a toddler and a baby. (He was working two jobs so she could stay home and he could afford her lifestyle). Six months later she had cancer and was terminal and had at most six months to live. He took her back, so they could all be a family.

        Then, she didn’t die.

        She just continued to cause mayhem. He kicked her out again, got custody of the kids she didn’t want, switched jobs to a company with more family friendly hours. A couple years later I heard he had an opportunity to take an international role with said company, and he left the US and the crazy ex behind.

        • God, that sounds like a fantasy (the latter portion).

          My ex got me to move across the country to be near one of her APs, she wouldn’t work a regular job and I was constantly stressed trying to provide for children and a spouse. She then got me to fund a business for her that I didn’t want to do cause of the extra expenses it would bring on. I did it anyways. It was her exit plan as there was now a second AP in the picture.

          She didn’t want more time with the kids so custody isn’t an issue but I would never get full custody because she’s too concerned about image. But God, never take these people back.

      • My ex had a bar buddy who was a cheater and all around jerk, but seemingly popular with other heavy drinkers lacking morals, such as my douchebag ex. He certainly had a lot of flying monkeys. So this clown got cancer and was in the hospital for a long time having surgery and chemo. After he recovered, he whined to ex (complete with tears of self pity) that none of his so-called friends visited him in the hospital or even sent flowers or cards. That was because nobody genuinely likes him, and facing that fact was a narcissistic injury.

        So I’m thinking OW isn’t faking it, but has the narc sadz because she’s not being deluged with sympathy. So she reached out to her old reliable chump ex-friend to soothe her injured ego, because by now she certainly knows who is a good-hearted person she can possibly use by playing on her empathy and who isn’t. She didn’t care if she ruined her ex-friend’s holidays in so doing. That shows the depth of her selfishness.
        Her ex-friend is supposed to be touched to make the top ten list of regrets. That shows the depth of her grandiosity and self-delusion. It’s a transparent ploy for sympathy kibbles.
        Sick or well, they have no guilt or shame.

        • OHFFS

          I also sense the OW really does have cancer and is disappointed to see NOT much sympathy coming her way from NOT many friends. Hmmm, what to do??

          Best to call the bestest chump EVER – the same one who helped SO MUCH BEFORE (and had a fw to cheat with).

          I did not see the holiday timing as an attempt to ruin Christmas but rather a narc’s way of saying “I know I’m still central to your life so here’s a NICE Christmas gift from ME – ‘I’m sorry'”!

          I don’t know how much care went into her wording, but what threw me was that cheating with ANY married man, let alone a good friend’s husband, was NOT THE WORST THING on OW’s shitty sins list.

          I used to be a criminal defense attorney & many of my clients did some very bad things. I think a few of them could probably say the same.

          Good grief.

    • So true! Her punishment is to be her! Don’t waste one more second of your precious life and run from all this negative energy!!!

    • Excellent point Nomar.
      This letter makes me realize what an incredible chump I am because I tend to buy into some of the the sad sausage stuff until Clady wonderfully points it all out.
      My Ex also contacted me in December to do work around the official divorce – even though I had told him twice that I would contact him in the new year after the holidays.
      So he destroyed last Xmas with discard and Dday and after the required 1 year wait time -wanted to finalize everything around Christmas this year. His email set me back to relive trauma as well.
      These fuckwits really are unbelievable.

      • Your damn ex! Geezus. What is it with these cheaters and the holidays? I’m sorry he did that.

        Oh, and I’m with you on buying into the sad-sausage stuff until CL points out the problems. When I first read OW’s apology, I thought it was a good one and even momentarily wished I would receive something similar from my ex’s OW.

        A true chump, I keep slipping off the learning curve.

        • Avoiding Chumpton is difficult for someone with a full functioning heat and soul.

          It is why we tend to get chumped so badly. Those with hardened hearts, and suspicious natures don’t get taken advantage of as much.

          Doesn’t make it our fault, and honestly I still would rather be me, than them.

        • I too thought the letter seemed sincere. Now I wonder… if the OW in the OP truly felt remorse, how should she express that? Should she just stay silent?

          Would I have wanted an apology from Cheater or OW? I don’t know. D-day was just before Christmas 2014, and I left him after five months of pick-me dancing. I got a letter from OW demanding I apologize to her and to Cheater for all the pain I had caused them in the past four years. It was so absurd I just laughed and ignored it.

          The Cheater always did everything he could to make sure OW and I never crossed paths. It was easy as long as she stayed in her home country (China), but he really worked at it after she had come live with him in Sweden. A couple of years ago there was a parenting crisis and I took one of our kids to his house unannounced. As soon as we started talking OW broke down crying and screaming, calling me a murderer. It turns out she was “forced” to abort her firstborn when I “refused” a divorce (that I was never asked for, and he repeatedly denied wanting). No wonder the Cheater was so careful to keep us apart. How disordered do you have to be to let your girlfriend abort a wanted child, and then maintain those kinds of lies FOR YEARS??? OW was understandably crushed and furious. The Cheater turned all his attention to calming her, ignoring me and our son. In the end we just left, parenting crisis unresolved. Neither of my kids have had much contact with their dad since.

          So no, I don’t want any fake apologies. I still wonder how someone would write a real apology though.

    • Well said, and bonus points for mentioning Afternoon Delight. I’m sure had many of those with other people’s husbands.

  • OW may be trying to get centrality from the husband because he’s not supporting her in her cancer the way she wants him too. You know, from the “all attention is good attention” department, if you can’t get his attention, get his wife’s attention.

    In any case, CL is right. This person’s cancer is irrelevant to anyone who isn’t the person who has it and the people who care about that person. It isn’t a game changer for the people she’s hurt, it isn’t a reason to hurt anyone more, and it definitely isn’t any kind of get-out-of-accountability free-card.

    It is 100% true that I am FAR from heartless about the devastation of cancer to the person, the family, and those who surround it. I only mean to say that our writer owes this person nothing, not even sympathy, and no illness, terminal or otherwise, changes that. When you are willingly horrible to someone else, that’s yours, no matter what follows it. You can make amends with the future, but not with the inalterable past.

    • If anyone needs an “o”, you can have the extra one that autoincorrect put on that first “to”. ????

      • Amiisfree,
        I want the extra “o”. Never had them w fuckwit. Finally found them with my last partner. O’s can be very, very good.
        In fact, O’s for EVERY CHUMP!
        O O O O O O O O o o o o o o o o

  • Oh She Persisted – my heart is just breaking for you. The only insult I found more awful than the cheating itself was when the OW felt compelled to contact me… “I’m sorry for the stress I caused you.” “It turns out everything Mr. Sparkles said to me were lies and untruths.” Why these OW and OM think that the Chump is their confessional is beyond me?!

    But, I promise you… your Meh Day is out here. It will come. How do I know, because I was once where you are now (my son was in third grade, so not a newborn)… and I made it. And, I know I made it because when I just read your letter and saw your remark about 25 different email accounts, I laughed. NOT AT YOU… but at Mr. Sparkles… because that was/is him to a “t”… MagikFngrs10… MrGrey1968… Webcrwlr36… I could go on and on… and he had them all route to a gmail account – guess it was easier for him to keep up with them all.

    Some day – not likely any day soon – but someday, you will laugh at the insanity of all this… you will laugh because you got away and the cheater isn’t your monkey or circus anymore… you will laugh because you will have that beautiful baby to raise up (it only takes one sane parent)… and you will laugh because you will be at Meh, on a Tuesday, in your future. Promise.

  • They really loooove to ruin holidays, don’t they? It’s like a speciality of theirs.

  • When someone who came from hell sends me a communique of any kind, I ignore it.

    They stood at a crossroads and chose to knife me in the back. There was nothing accidental or inadvertent about it. Everyone who participated in it lies like they breathe.

    The absolute best thing for me to do is stay away from them in all ways possible.
    Healing dictates that I spend my precious time, breath, attention, and words on people that matter to me, people who love me.

    Even Miss Manners has said that I need not concern myself with the feelings of those who have shown they have no regard for mine.

    • ….and the fact that she is contacting you, two years later, at Christmas, is just more solid proof of a big giant hole where a heart, a brain, character, integrity, a moral compass, and emotional maturity should be, and that she completely lacks any understanding of what love is,

      I am sorry she left a bag of flaming dog poo on your porch and doorbell ditched you at Christmas. Don’t get your ruby slippers dirty putting it out. Close your eyes, click your heels together and say, “there’s no place like home without losers in it.” while imagining your new improved life.

      • Ahhh. Love this comment!

        And, frankly, I need this reminder.

        Recently, my MIL who insisted on D-Day+2 weeks that I FORGIVE sent me a Christmas card with a bible verse. She also signed it, “Your friend.” What?

        She really is a toxic bitch and always had been. Acorn/tree re her son. But, ya know, she’s old and in an assisted-living facility that doesn’t allow visitors because of a COVID outbreak, so I feel guilty that I didn’t text her on Christmas. Old habits die hard. And chumps gonna chump!

        • My in-laws were originally on my side and knew how much my ex lied and knew about the affairs. However, she didn’t get entitled by accident. There’s been excuse after excuse for why she did what she did and how she’s just messed up and needs God. My ex likes to use the Christian shtick as a disguise for image. I’ve seen what she says in private to her AP and how she acts when she thought no one was around.

          Anyway, my ex in-laws have now grown cold to me because I’m dating and introduced my children to a good woman after nearly a year of dating. But now I’m the bad one because it’s not working out for my ex and the AP and she only had my kids around him a couple of times. It’s apparently bad for me to try and move on with my life or to do fun things with a new woman (who my kids really like). You see, I’m supposed to eat a shit sandwich as a Christian and allow myself to be abused and how “marriages can be stronger after an affair.”

          This is the typical crap advice you get.

          But anyway, I know my mom and my mom certainly wouldn’t make excuses for my shitty conduct. At what point do cheaters just take responsibility as an adult for their choices in life instead of blaming everyone and everything else in the world?

          • Oh wow! Yeah, I think it’s to be expected that parents will continue to love their cheater kids no matter what. And I have no problem with that as long as they love the sinner but condemn the sin and have a ton of compassion for the betrayed spouse.

            In your case, it’s all backward! They have compassion for the sinner and blame you. Oh, and they use Christianity to justify it all. Crazymaking!!

            Ugh. Stay strong! Good for you for gaining a life!!

            • ‘Yeah, I think it’s to be expected that parents will continue to love their cheater kids no matter what. And I have no problem with that as long as they love the sinner but condemn the sin and have a ton of compassion for the betrayed spouse.‘
              Exactly, my in-laws dumped me like a hot potato the minute their son did. This is after showering me with many compliments every time they saw me and them being invited over several times a month for big family dinners.
              This is during Covid, and they couldn’t even reach out by email to see how I was doing.
              This is my former mother-in-law not even returning an email asking her how she was doing during Covid.
              And I wonder where he got his superficial charm from!

              • My former in-laws act as if I never existed after a 35 year marriage AND 3 kids whom they also have forgotten about.

                My kids are my ex father in laws’ ONLY grandchildren – and there has been zero contact with any of them in over 4 years. Every holiday reminds me of how fast and brutal the discards were – and how total.

                God only knows what DOCTOR Narkles told his dad/step mom, or how long he’d been poisoning the well against me and them, but OMG – to turn your parents against your own children — just seems evil and sick.

                All to protect your image?? To punish the kids for not siding with you?

                I hate that it still hurts.


              • Mine were super close for over 20 years. I was the “best mother and wife” anyone could ever ask for their son. It took 4 months after my ex left me for the entire family to shun me. They still talked to my kids but this Xmas there was no message, post card, phone call, message in a bottle. Nothing. My kids are still little, were “loved” dearly by his family. They hate the OW but still welcomed her in their home even though we are still legally married. The loneliness me and my kids go through is pure cruelty. I finally decided to delete every one of his family and friends that still followed me on social media. Talked to my kids and they told me they don’t feel like answering the few messages they sometimes still send them. I told them it’s ok to stop talking to them. I could see they wanted my “permission”. I never wanted to alienate these people but enough is enough. They’re causing them pain and I feel that I have to interfere. My ex has three major male figures in his family that are horrible narcissists. I think there is a huge genetic component in this and obviously also the way he was raised.

          • Ugh, straight after Dday MIL wanted in to ‘manage’ the situation and when I tried to express my shock and outrage at his shitty selfish behaviour she cut off the conversation with, ‘there’s always two sides to the story’. Thena little later she mentioned that a couple down the road had been renovating their house but they now had to sell it because the husband had ‘found a new girlfriend’ and it was so sad. When I said, perhaps a little too cynically that I hope that the wife got a good price for it, she said that everyone was just looking to be happy, and FIL added that money isn’t everything. Yeah, but I can imagine that if the wife is the typical chump she busted a gut making everything happen, and then he decided it’s not what he wanted and found someone else instead of working out their unhappiness one way or another up front. It just underlined that in laws are not my tribe, and will always use inane platitudes to justify shitty behaviour.

            • Stig,

              “…she cut off the conversation with, ‘there’s always two sides to the story’.”

              GRRrrrrrr. This is SO infuriating!!!
              It’s up there with “I love you both.”

              By the way, I agreed to take my MIL to her doctor’s appointment shortly after D-Day. I know; I know; I know!!! I was still very much a chump. My ex acted like she was dying, but that’s another story (although I guess it ties in to the main theme of today’s post). It was all a ruse. She wasn’t dying! But I fell for it. My ex knew I would.

              Anyway, when I picked her up, I was really angry because I had just learned she’d met with the OW. When she got in the car, I refused to drive until she read some quotes from LAC;GAL that I’d printed. She said, “Ok, low character. Just drive. Put the radio on.”

              Then I heard all the Christian forgiveness stuff. Bitch! Oh, and “you need to get over it.” Three weeks out!!!! ????????

              • I really feel for you Spinach. They really have no concern over the way that their child’s shitty behaviour might reflect on her mothering skills, they want to damp down the situation so they can say, oh it was a minor hiccup, it wasn’t a big deal, and if they can’t do that because consequences are being imposed (ie divorce) they make out that it was a yearning for happiness and a love bigger than the both of whoever it was ie noone is to blame, but if anyone is it’s the chump, because they couldn’t make cheater happy.

        • After my d-day #2, which I didn’t have a ton of evidence just circumstantial plus a good gut feeling. Yet I sounded the alarms so to speak, just in my grief that he’s a cheater. Weeks later my mil said you can’t divorce, think of The children.

          These mil’s created the monsters we married, they enabled their bad behaviors and then have the audacity to try and make us do the same. Sorry lady, you can have your precious son back????

          • AMEN, Longtime Chump. My ex is entitled like no other- so selfish- so consumed with herself and constantly critical and disappointed. Nothing is her fault. And no consequences are ever issued except for me when I finally had enough of the lying and cheating and filed for divorce.

            I’ve been harassed like no other for a year, thousands of texts, emails, showing up to my place, manufacturing emergencies with the kids (she has episodes where she wants reconciliation if her AP BF has dumped her for a couple of weeks)…her mom routinely took her dad back after being a serial cheater. He’d do the Christian recovery thing for awhile until, you guessed it…a final affair occurred. Wasted years of life. In my trauma, she and her new husband were good people to lean on and I was grateful but I was handed so much victim-blaming literature/”fight for your marriage” BS before discovering CL and doing no contact. They believe in reconciliation and I don’t. Years wasted trying to make it work with a cheater only for the inevitable to occur and it always does.

            My ex saw this and is basically her dad and thought I would always be there as some backup, some safety net and would love her no matter what. Why? Because that’s what her mom was for her dad. Her family is there to make constant excuses for her–daddy issues, being a mom is tough, etc.

            • So many excuses for her bad behavior, you’re the only one that’s ever given her consequences. And you didn’t follow the plan she had in her mind of how this would all play out. She sounds like my stbx. I’m supposed to continue to be his maid, chef, keeper of all things, sole parent while he continues serial cheating and living like a teenager. His parents always enabled him with comments like “you deserve that”, “you work so hard”, etc. Meanwhile I’m all haggard wondering when he’s going to actually be the family man he portrays. Now I’m giving up the act. Just as you did. If they don’t see the problem with their family there doomed to repeat the pattern.

              • My MIL wanted me to take her son back and couldn’t seem to grasp that he wanted to be with this other woman. It was as if she was following some societal script–“all men cheat from time to time; their wives need to forgive and reconcile.” She really couldn’t absorb that my ex wanted to marry this other woman. It went against the script.

                When she finally realized that he wanted to be with the OW, she doubled down on my need to forgive and MOVE ON!!! As I said, she insisted on this only weeks after D-Day following a 35-year marriage. The woman has NO capacity for empathy.

                Oh, and she’s one of the only people who’s stuck by my ex. But the thing is, he can’t really stand her. I used to smooth things over. Now they can ruffle each other’s feathers all they want. Fun times, I’m sure!

          • “but if anyone is it’s the chump, because they couldn’t make cheater happy.

            Yep, I get so sick of that. And as a Christian, I say shame on any self proclaiming Christian that would spout that hooey. I would have to wonder if they really are a Christian.

            In my case the FW said he had cheated on me for ten years and never loved me, which I guess in his head made it my fault. The only complaint he could come up with against me was that I was not a good enough housekeeper. So you would think schmoopie would have been a really good house keeper. Nope, my son said in comparison I am a spit shiner.

  • If this letter illustrates anything, it’s that *nothing*, not even the probability of imminent death, prompts this kind of person to actually practice some real self-examination.

    Sad and *awful*, assuming it’s true.

    In any case, as CL and others have pointed out, you owe this truly reprehensible creature absolutely *nothing*.

    Ignore, and get on with your life hun. ????

  • Sometimes the most eloquent response is not to say anything. You befriended her and supported her, and she stuck a shiv in your back, twice. And then twisted it by sending you a holiday shiv card that screams self pity and no true remorse.

    Does this feel like real remorse to you? Every adult human being on this earth who has a conscience has had to make amends for wrongs done, and knows what it feels like. I don’t think this is it. Real remorse is raw and painful and authentic. It doesn’t blame other people, as she does in her allusion to not getting the whole truth from your husband.

    Save your beautiful love and kind heart for yourself, your son, and those worthy.

    • Principled, Yea the part where she says she’s fine with being called and screamed at reads like she’s fine with it because it won’t really affect her.
      In my early 20s my friendship with my two best long term friend’s blew up because friend A cheated with friend B’s long-term boyfriend. I remember friend A telling me that she would understand if I didn’t want to remain friends with her anymore. I remember feeling that in addition to betraying our mutual best friend, she didn’t really care if she lost my friendship either.
      Cancer cheater reminds me of her, it’s like ‘this is what I did & you can be mad’ the end.

      • Exactly. Cancer cheater takes the low road (twice!) and then tries to guilt her betrayed “friend” into taking the high road. She cares only for herself.

        I’m glad you had the wherewithal to cut off your cheating college “friend.” Hopefully she went on to mend her ways and lead a better life. In college people are young and stupid enough there is still some hope of redemption…

  • I just wouldn’t reply. Silence, in this case, is your greatest power. Don’t waste your time or emotional energy on her. It may sound harsh, but…everyone dies. Dying doesn’t make her special, and you’ve already seen how she repays your kindness. Focus on yourself, getting away from your cheater husband, and taking care of your baby. That’s where you need to place your energy.

  • I’d love to hear CL/CN take on forgiveness. I think it is more a personal “come to terms” with the insult and letting go of the anger/pain/desire to hurt in return so I can carry on with my life. I don’t quite understand the second part of forgiveness where the insulted “forgives” the insult or or what it means to do so. Is that saying your insult is forgotten ( cuz that won’t happen). Or is it we will pretend it never happened for civility sake so we can share a meal as a family? Is it just a way to let the insultor off the hook and thinking that way isnt that like being a doormat once again. Is it something you arrive at and you will know only when you are there? Curious what you think.

    • My take on forgiveness is like a bank forgives a loan….they stop trying to get the money from you, and they won’t give you any more.

      • Good point.

        Go on with your life FW, I am not giving you any more consideration/emotion (currency); nor will I try to harm you. I will leave you to your own devices, and I will take my losses and rebuild.

        Very good analogy.

      • Perfect analogy. CL wrote in LACGAL “I didn’t kill you, so consider yourself forgiven.” I think the bank analogy is very close to “meh. “ Just a bad business decision- and no more business with you!

      • The bank can take you to court/collections for reparations though. No lawyer will even talk to me about my ex’s financial, emotional, mental, and health abuse.

  • As someone who discovered X#3’s cheating while undergoing 6 months of chemo, I have absolutely ZERO sympathy for this bitch. Gosh, karma finally caught up to you, and now you want sympathy from the chump? Go. Fark. Thyself. If you were really sorry you’d never have done it in the first place. Hope your demise is painful and imminent… especially for trying to ruin one more holiday for the chump. They’ll stop at nothing for those kibbles, and yes… it was purposely timed. Terminal cancer is too good of an ending for the likes of you. You should have met your demise at the hands of an angry crowd of chumps with baseball bats.

  • A couple of months ago, I came face-to-face with the OW in a court proceeding. Afterwards, she approached me for the apology that wasn’t an apology. (I had pictured this exchange for months, I had planned everything I was going to say, I was going to bring her to tears.) She started with, “I can imagine how you must feel . . . ” From that point forward, all I heard was “Bla-Blah, Bla-Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Bla-Blah.” Like when the teacher speaks in the Charlie Brown cartoons. I just stared at her. When she was finished, I simply said, “You took something that wasn’t yours to take. If you’re looking for forgiveness, today is not that day.” Then it was over. Nothing like I had imagined. I just thought, “This. This is the person worth destroying our marriage for. Have her. Take him. Karma, come and get them.”

    I’ve discussed forgiveness with my therapist many times over. She keeps telling me there’s no timetable. There’s no calendar. There will be no fanfare. It will just be a thought that pops into my head for a moment, and then it will be gone, and I will be released. Kind of like Tuesday. So here I sit, waiting for both.

    • Your therapist is right. And in fact I’ve found forgiveness comes disguised as different things. One day I woke up and actually felt pity for my cheater. Not ‘my heart bleeds for you’ pity but ‘it sucks for him that he has to live with his troubled self’ pity. And I realized I had “forgiven” him. No fanfare, just a shift in feelings. And, it’s peaceful.

      • ????

        My forgiveness came pretty early on. Maybe about a year out from Dday. I realized I no longer pictured him floating face down in the Ohio River. Good enough for me.

      • Yes, NotANiceChump. That’s why my forgiveness looks like, too. It sucks to be him. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with him or his awful family, and I feel sorry for the new wife. It’s peaceful.

        One important part of forgiveness was that I couldn’t get to that place until he had stopped abusing me. He was cruel to me and our children until they were adults and could choose how much contact they wanted. He abused me through the court system as long as he could. My divorce was an awful experience, but it’s over and I am at peace.

          • Oh, you wouldn’t believe it. For an entire year after the divorce was final he took me back to court once a month over stupid garbage. He would claim that a particular weekend was “his” because it was convenient for him, even though it wasn’t supposed to be his weekend with the kids. And then he wouldn’t show up to get the kids on the weekends that WERE his. He took me back to court to demand vacation time with the kids that first summer after the divorce was final when he could have just asked and I would have agreed. To top it all off, he never made a vacation plan that summer and didn’t take the kids anywhere.

            The real topper was after our 4th child graduated from high school. (We have FIVE kids). The ex just stopped paying child support and alimony. When I took him back to court to make him pay, he had his lawyer say that I was cohabitating and that violated the terms of the divorce agreement, so he didn’t owe alimony. But he was referring to our adult son, who was living with me while going to college. The judge get really mad at him, and that was the last time we went to court. The money was not a hardship for him at all. He has a really high income and could just write a check for a year’s worth of child support and alimony. He was just being an ass.

        • And I think this is key. It is virtually impossible to forgive someone who is engaging in ongoing bad behavior and abuse toward you. In fact, if you do, you are self sabotaging because you’re probably letting down your guard against their attacks.

          I was the same. Once the divorce was settled and my ex stopped making intrusive and cruel gestures toward me, and stopped sending me harassing emails and text messages, I found a sort of peace toward him. And it has sustained over time. It’s not forgiveness though, in the traditional sense. I just decided to stop being upset over it…dealt with the trauma…and moved into a more positive space. I don’t hold a grudge against him. I wish him no ill will. In fact, I wish him true happiness, even though I’m quite sure he’s not capable of it. And, I did all of this for myself. It had nothing to do with him.

    • I am reading a book on forgiveness therapy. It’s interesting, it’s got good empirical evidence, and it devotes pretty much an entire chapter to what forgiveness ISN’T.

      They outline a four stage approach:

      1) Uncovering: Identifying the wrong and the harm done to you, very specifically. This can take a long time. Admit shame, become aware of cognitive rehearsal of offence. Realise possibly permanent nature of injury. Begin to accept altered ‘just world’ view.

      2) Decision: You are willing to consider forgiveness as a healing strategy. You commit to it. Or not. Maybe you’re not ready to go there yet.

      3) Work: Reframing, contexualising, processing pain, making a moral decision about forgiveness. Developing compassion and pity for the offender.

      4) Deepening: connecting with others who have suffered, finding new purpose and new meaning in life. Decreased negative affect.

      I like Chump Nation partly because, whether you want to forgive or not, this site is a valuable resource for anyone at any stage of this process.

      I’ve read testimony here from people at each of these stages, right the way through to Stage 4, which really is ‘gain a life’ and Meh.

      • This is very similar to the path I’m following with my therapist. I’ve learned that it’s a process that should be individually applied to everyone in this process—my STBX, the OW, and myself. Forgiveness moves at a different pace for all, and there will be steps forward followed by steps backward. What’s important is that I work past the stalls and keeping moving forward, even if it’s at a snail’s pace.

        • Serious question: How are we defining forgiveness?

          I still don’t really know what forgiveness is. I mean, is no longer caring (arriving at meh) considered forgiveness? Can you forgive privately and not share it with the one seeking forgiveness? And he/she has to ask for it. Right?

          • ‘Developing compassion and pity for the offender.’
            I have a lot of questions about forgiveness as well. I’m not sure I will ever be able to or want to develop true compassion and pity for someone who really scarred my children and traumatized me, because of a SERIES of self serving choices.
            I did have that at first for my H and I feel that was the true chump in me shining .

            • No desire to forgive or be told to forgive. I know there will be a day where maybe I don’t really give it much thought but I’m not forgiving someone who has/had no remorse (her and her APs), cost me seeing my kids half the time, altered their lives forever, and defrauding me out of thousands and personal choice. Then harassed me on top of it and continues to use my kids in her perpetual drama.

              I’m sure God forgives but I’m not God and I won’t forgive that type of betrayal nor do I need to sign up for counseling to be mind effed into blaming myself and being forced to “forgive.”

            • The trauma many times endures. I am many years out, and am here as I have mentioned due to recent action by the FW and schmoopie against my son.

              But, I realized just recently after his BS with my son, that I had kept anger at myself buried for years. Anger for being so stupid, and yes that is still how I think of it sometimes, though not always. I should have known way sooner than I did.

              I didn’t even realize I was pushing it down, I was busy with a good life, wonderful family, my now husbands side and mine, and work.

              Then Covid and the ex FW struck, not long after my retirement, and I started researching NPD, it was the only thing I could think of. So maybe that was the silver lining of him showing his ass yet again, it helped me to finally be able to get that out.

              Then of course I am now addicted to CL and all you wonderful folks.

              That does not mean I have not had a happy post divorce life, I have; and I just wish I had met my now husband first. But, maybe we both had to go through our heartache to really appreciate each other as we do.

              I think it has been good for me to release that anger, and by reading CL I have begun to understand it and forgive myself.

              I was also after more than 25 years able to actually tell my brother what had happened in that house for the 1.5 -2 years prior to Dday. I had never told because I thought it was me, because after all that is what I was told. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I let him treat me like that. I was really ashamed that he never loved me. That one just about broke me. There was no CL or other sites to educate me, on all the bullshit these ass wipes say and do. Good lord he was a walking cliché. He still is. There was no internet to research, and I didn’t even know I needed to research. I just hid my anger and went on.

              Of course my husband knew, as we spent a lot of time getting to know each other, and he needed to know all about my experience. He was the first one to tell me that I was not stupid, I trusted my spouse and that is what is supposed to happen.

              So I would tell Chumps, don’t wait for total healing to live your best life, total healing may be too much to happen, if ever. But, you can be happy and still deal with some hurtful memories from time to time.

              • True! My therapist says we heal through relationships. So i’m working on myself so I can BE in a relationship (COVID be darned) without literally shaking at even the thought of being on a date and having someone SEE ME. I still feel like curling up and hiding like a wounded wild animal.

                And people wonder why I still am angry – he gave me PTSD and is living consequence-free in a house he’s on the deed to but did not put money in with his new wife (one of his APs).
                I am working so hard to try to heal the damages he inflicted on me. I’m 12 months out, and it would be really great if the nightmares would stop.

            • I struggled with the idea of “compassion” or “pity” for my ex. However, I found that I’ve started to feel it spontaneously the last while (I’m three years out now). It’s not a compassion such as, “poor thing, how awful for him”. It’s more like a pang of sadness for lost opportunity on his part. I see him and there is this pathetic aspect to him that actually doesn’t give me feelings of vindication. I just feel sad for his sorry state of affairs (no pun intented). Here was a guy who could have had it all.

              Now, all he has is an affair partner that no one has accepted. He’s at her place the days he doesn’t have the kids and uses his rental on the days with the kids. Our housing prices have skyrocketed and he will never be able to purchase on his own. None of his family speaks of this woman. Most of his long-term friends have not met this woman as their wives are still my friends and don’t want to see her. His best friend was my cousin and my cousin cut him off because he felt betrayed by all my ex’s lies.

              We’re supposed to get wiser as we get older, have our shit together, attain peace and carry ourselves with greater confidence. He’s just regressed in this compartmentalized life of his. He’s lost the respect of so many people.

              Though he’ll never be my friend, and my boundaries will not come down with him for my own well-being, I don’t wish him ill. He doesn’t get to have anything more from me beyond what I do for our kids. I think that reaching this element of compassion is a by-product of one’s own life getting better and the process of growing stronger. The further away I get from him and what he did, the less power the trauma of it has on me.

              • Option, I’m happy you found some peace and I’m very happy they treated the OW as OW’s should be treated.
                I feel if there were more known consequences to people who cheat causing wreckage to many lives, people might think twice before going down that road to destruction.

          • For me, forgiveness is letting go of the anger and resentment I have toward my STBX and the OW for sending my life down a path not of my choosing. My STBX has never offered an apology, and I doubt he ever will. The OW just said a bunch of meaningless words to make herself feel better. That tells me neither are really interested in whether I forgive them or not. This is me; my peace. When I forgive them, like the rest of my life, is not of their business or concern. In my mind, I need to come to a point where I no longer waste the time or energy dwelling on their roles in my life. I’ll put them in the past, maybe that’s Meh.

            • Bookdog I totally agree with this part of what you said and I’m really working on taking responsibility for the life that I have now moving forward. ‘In my mind, I need to come to a point where I no longer waste the time or energy dwelling on their roles in my life’
              I just don’t know if for me that has to include forgiveness! Anyway it’s whatever works for everyone.
              I wonder if Clady forgave her fuckwit H in order to move on?

          • Yes, giving up resentment is forgiveness. That’s pretty much it. Different cultures and religions have different ways that it should be carried out, but ultimately forgiving someone means that you no longer are angry at them or resent them. You’ve put that in your rear view mirror. And, it is the best gift you can give yourself for long-term healing…once your cheater is out of your life and no longer actively hurting you.

            As stated above, it is very difficult to forgive someone who is actively hurting you. Maybe even ill advised to do so. But, forgiving acts of the past can be a life saver.

  • An apology without atonement or any visible repentence. A plea for forgiveness and reassurance, perhaps even a plea for the help “She Persisted” offered in the OW’s first cancer treatment, masquerading as a “kick me” request.
    I can well imagine that someone facing her mortality could have such a “Yom Kippur” moment about past bad behavior, and approach the person wronged to apologize, repent, and atone. I just don’t think the OW is doing that here.

    “She Persisted,” I’m sorry this person has managed to ruin two holidays for you, and I hope you can devise a ritual to take them back for yourself.

    • Adelante,

      “A plea for forgiveness and reassurance, perhaps even a plea for the help ‘She Persisted’ offered in the OW’s first cancer treatment, masquerading as a ‘kick me’ request.”

      I missed the masquerade part at first (the chump is strong in this one!), but that’s exactly what this is. Well said!

  • What a horrible person to send this fake-remorse to you on Christmas. She’s disgusting.

    Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of my Dday. I spent the day with my kids who are young adults now and with my fiancé and his son.

    Not one word of remorse from XH or AP/now live in GF…I suspect they don’t have a clue that this was the anniversary of the end of my 25 year life with XH, why would they? To them it was just another day when they thrilled at duping me and fucking me over! Sick fuckers.

    Karma bus hit again though: kids said that X & ‘ho got into a huge fight and XH spent day alone while AP/GF was out hiking with a guy-“friend.” Too bad, so sad… not! They SUCK!

    My son left for semester of college in another state and I got to spend his last hours with him. XH was alone. His consequences. I know that he’ll probably have plan B, C, D, E to get back at AP-GF for the fight they had. Cheaters cheat! What grotesque lives they live.

    Glad to be free of that toxicity!

    For the first time since 2014 I didn’t cry on Dday anniversary… Meh is really here!

  • She wants attention. She wants drama. And pity. Why beg you to email or call and curse her out?
    One possibility is that she wants to get kibbles and support by showing others that even though she’s dying, an awful person is giving her grief over something that happened years ago.
    She can show her message, which she carefully worded to avoid saying what she did. She can claim she was apologizing for something innocuous, such as not carrying her weight on a joint college project, not sharing a dorm room, a drunken New Year’s kiss with STBX, or “We got close emotionally.”
    She may hope you don’t respond as “proof” you’re no better than her, or that you’re even worse; after her noble, death’s door apology, doesn’t she deserve centrality, forgiveness, and sympathy? Or if you do reply and she’s feeling guilty, she may think your negative reaction somehow justifies sleeping with your husband, and erases all the help you gave her. Or maybe she wants an excuse to call STBX for comfort and connection—“Look at what your awful wife did to me!”
    She’s had six years to think about how she betrayed you and almost two to respond to your letter. She responded to the first by having sex with him again, and to the second by staying silent for almost two years. And now that she wants still MORE from you, she’s very careful not to admit a specific wrongdoing for which she could be held accountable.
    This is sick, sick, sick, and I don’t mean the cancer. She knew this would hit you during the holidays, and probably timed it to provoke a reaction, whether that’s condemnation as she claims, or forgiveness.
    What’s more, it’s not a true apology. If it was, she wouldn’t try to manipulate the outcome by using her cancer, which she knows is a trigger for you, to try to guilt you into forgiveness. She KNOWS you’re a decent, compassionate person, and it seems the curse-out she suggests-twice-is not your style. It’s almost like she’s trying to make you rush to prove you’re the kind of good person who forgives her. Just like cheaters who fake apologize to get more kibbles.
    She was in your life. She was a friend, and you stuck with her for better AND worse until she lied and betrayed you. Cancer or no cancer, there are consequences. No kibbles. No contact. And no guilt.
    I just realized that I did what she wants from you–centrality, speculation, importance. (And she may hope that in time, a good person like you will resume those encouraging notes and help her again with her finances.) I’ve been untangling HER skein of self-centered mess. Tracy answered your question far faster and was much funnier.
    Enough! Let’s think about what REALLY matters, you and the much-wanted baby. Tell us about the baby, and how you’re doing parenting and nurturing the baby as well as yourself. Hugs to you both. .

    • Goodfriend, LOL, bravo! You like how most chumps develop the gift of incredible insight? It’s as if we are some episode of CSI where we can decipher BS and motives.

      • Yes! Exactly… it is so vague and non specific that she probably sent it out to a dozen people to see who would take the bait!

  • The subject of apology, true/untrue remorse, and forgiveness is hard for me. I would prefer closure, but I am not sure that really exists either. It may be another unicorn. As CL has said in other posts, I understand that in the healing process you reach acceptance. You cannot change what happened, you only control your choices.

    In my personal life, my relationships in FOO problems have haunted me. I am sure they influenced decisions I made as a teenager and adult. My parents also made several bad decisions, probably based on FOO culture, which left a deep rift between us. Here is the sticking point for me, my mother later saw what she had done wrong, and truly apologized. I do not believe my father is capable of doing this. They are 89. I won’t have either of them much longer. I have accepted the situation for what it is.

    My mother followed up on her apology by actions which proved to me that she had always intended the best for me, even when she didn’t accomplish that. She has been there when I needed her, every time, and now she has dementia, which is taking away all her memories, good and bad. Her apology meant a lot to me, and I treasure it, and her.

    My father has several of the cruel illness’s of old age, and I maintain a relationship with him from a distance. He cannot/will not apologize, and I accept that is who he is from behind my boundaries. It is not a relationship of joy. It is a biological connection. I do remember a time in my life when I was young and did not understand dysfunction. I also remember he worked and put a roof over our heads and food on our table. I think he is so damaged he never knew how to love, but that is only my opinion. It is not forgiveness, it is acceptance.

    I came from this FOO influence into marriage as an adult. I sensed I was damaged, but could not define it, at first. When my husbands cheated on me and ruined everything I had worked so hard on, I felt betrayed AGAIN, as I had felt when the deep rift happened in my FOO. It exponentially increased the pain for me. But my husbands are only responsible for their deceptions and lies. I had to deal with how ALL of this was hurting my life. I had to change the way I thought and acted, so that I would not repeat the ancient patterns in my FOO. I accepted all that, and I forgave myself.

    I actually do not think of the OW anymore. They were fools with their own problems, used by my Ex’s, and they are not my problem, They are responsible for their own destiny, and there is no need for forgiveness, because they are not significant to me. I am sure my Ex’s made them miserable, too. All that may be karma, but it is not my life anymore. Neither are my Ex’s. They are in my past and responsible for their own actions. They are not significant to me anymore either. One of them died, and all I felt was relief that I would not hear from him again, ever. Permanent no contact.

    I do not know if this acceptance is full MEH, but it is very peaceful. If this is what forgiveness is, then I am grateful I have reached this place. I am living an authentic life, and I am enjoying the relationships I have in it. I work to be a good mother and friend, and I feel good about my decisions now. Maintaining this peace is my priority. If anyone from the past reaches out to me, I do not feel the need to respond. If they feel true remorse, good for them. If they want attention, they will be disappointed.

    • Glad you’ve come such a long way. I love that indifference to fuckwits is simultaneously the healthiest thing for us to feel towards them and, as an unintentional little perk, is actually the best way to drive a fuckwit nuts. They’re just insecure, self-centered and short-sighted chaos-lovers who see no bigger picture than “When is the spotlight on MEEE again?”

  • She did that because she’s likely a Dark Triad personality. There’s an article on HG Tudor’s site about the prime aims of a Narc, and one of them is seeking fuel. Narcs love to ruin your holidays, important milestones, and events. It seemed like she knew exactly how it would affect you and she specifically chose those family holidays to pull the trigger on you–because she gets off on it. Narcs stay that way to their deathbed.

    • Right. And it will be the case that cluster B disordered types will ruin special occasions regardless of whether they *intend* to fuck with you, just because those occasions are important to *them*, and they lack empathy for your experience – especially when they have already devalued you in order to maintain their own positive self-image.

      My STBX emailed me four days before my DD18’s high school graduation in June to let me know that she had started dating someone else. In person. During a pandemic, when I am at higher risk for severe disease if I contract Covid, and I’m exposed to whatever STBX contracts because of custody exchange of DD9. This was also after we had had a brief (~7 minute) exchange during our last mediated session in March, during which STBX had raised the issue of when she could start dating again, and I had asked her to wait until our divorce was finalized. (We are both women.) STBX had appeared to acknowledge my concerns at that time, and had not raised the issue of dating again until I got the email before DD18’s graduation, even though I later learned that STBX joined dating apps just 3 weeks after I moved out.

      The revelation prompted alterations to our plans around the graduation, weeks of additional negotiation around Covid rules in our custody agreement, and many additional triggers and stressors for me.

      All because STBX herself was feeling the import of the graduation weekend and wanted to unburden herself of any guilt before it happened. No understanding at all about what it would mean for me, or DD18, or my parents, etc. if anything, STBX had convinced herself it would be a *kindness* to me to divulge this information ASAP, and better for DD18 not to have to worry about hiding something from me (since DD18 had discovered that STBX was dating). Again, it was all about STBX and her own disordered, confused notions about what was appropriate. Yet another master class in boundaries for me. (The karma bus hit soon afterward, btw, and the new girlfriend went away. ????)

    • Hmm. Interesting- my ex wife tried to do that this year on Christmas Eve and looking back at text messages from last year, cursed me out repeatedly on Christmas Eve (three months post D-Day, separated- two weeks before I filed).

      I think their egos are out of control. Best to try not to respond to them but my ex narc deliberately got the kids the same gift as I did despite me telling her a month ago what I was getting, I hung up on her after saying how petty it was, she proceeded to call 18 times, send three emails, and another email at 2:30 in the morning saying “Sorry about how today went.”

      These people are the worst and I question the sincerity of any AP.

      • Put “why narcissists destroy/ ruin holidays” into YT search and everything will be soon clear.

      • These people are so addicted to being the cause of other people’s pain. It’s the cheapest, saddest and most pathetic way to feel significant in the world. All you can do is give them as little information about what you’re doing with your life so they have less ability to fuck things up for you. They absolutely plan on fucking with you if you give over information like that.

  • I’d do exactly what she did when you messaged her two years ago.

    Ignore her.

    She doesn’t care that she slept with your husband. She cares that she’s “dying,” assuming she actually is. If she gave a real shit about what she did to you, why did she wait almost a full two years later, and only when she’s gotten a cancer diagnosis to say so? She’s not sorry, she’s fishing for sympathy. Really, what does her having stage 4 breast cancer NOW, not in 2014 or 2016, have to do with her fucking your husband in 2014 and 2016? Nothing really. So why bring it up unless she’s looking for you to absolve her out of pity for her encroaching death?

    If she gave a shit about what she did she would have apologized for real when you caught her. Or, y’know, just not fucked your husband, there’s always THAT…

    Way, way, way back in the day when I was still in my early 20’s, with my first cheater, the OW I caught him with had a plethora of health issues too. Or at least that’s what she told me when I confronted them. Her joints are always in pain, she has lupus, she’s in and out of the hospital, her father has arthritis, and on and on…I was young and naive back then, so her pity ploy worked on me. But now that I’m older I realize it was a pity ploy. Having bad health issues doesn’t entitle you to fuck someone else’s boyfriend/husband/spouse. How many Chumps here suffered terrible medical issues and WEREN’T the ones cheating? Show of hands???

    It’s bullshit. She wants you to respond, hell she wants you to respond and cuss her out so she can play the “wooooe is meeee, you’re sooooo right, I’m suuuuch a bad person!” and when she does, she’s hoping you’ll be like “Oh no, you’re not a bad person, you don’t deserve this cancer, can’t we make up and make good before you shuffle off this mortal coil?”

    Nope. Give her what she gave you when you reached out two years ago. Silence.

    • *raises hand* Amen to all this, Kara!

      Also, I realize that CL’s tongue is firmly planted in cheek, but I object to any assumption that OW is dying. I survived stage 4 cancer, and OW doesn’t anywhere mention that she’s been given a terminal diagnosis. (I bet that would be item #1 if it were the case. The rest is just speculation.) A recurrence of stage 4 cancer is scary, but it’s not necessarily a death sentence. It’s certainly not carte blanche to suggest that people you’ve wronged should make their final choice about whether to punch you or to forgive you, posthaste. The sad sausage is strong in this one – not surprising, given OW’s fuckwitted decisions in the past.

      • Oh I have a healthy dose of skepticism here about this woman’s diagnosis. She doesn’t mention she’s dying but I would guess she wants SP to believe she is. I’m sure she’s hoping SP will call and be like “Oh no! That’s so terrible! Is it terminal? What are your options? I can’t POSSIBLY cuss you out at a time like this!” And if SP did give her a piece of her mind, it would be used by her STBX as “how could you talk to her like that? She has stage 4 cancer!”

        It’s a trap.

        Most people when they hear stage 4 think about death, I’m sure OW is trying to use that implication to her advantage.

        • And I wouldn’t put it past a scumbag person to use cancer or some fake illness to manipulate and get something out of you. My ex, in the midst of her affairs and post D-Day, was convinced she had MS or a brain tumor or liver cancer.


          One of the best things about not being with her anymore is not dealing with her BS hypochondria.

  • The year was 1983, so I don’t recall all the details. It was within 90 days of my ex leaving. 90 days I remember because I agree he could use my medical insurance for 90 days. I got a call at work saying he was in the ER with another heart attack.

    I left work and arrived in about 45 minutes to the ER. I was told I couldn’t go back because ‘his wife is with him.’ I sniggered and the clerk at check-in asked why. I handed over insurance information and said, “Someone has lied about being his wife, but here’s his insurance anyway.”

    I left.

    Of course, there were a million bills and a million providers and each time one arrived with MY NAME on it, I called the billing department, explained we were divorced (yeah, I lied), and gave them his address.

    Months later, he had the balls to complain to me that I did something that made the bills so high. He didn’t understand about family deductibles (thanks to him, me and the kids met it that year), out-of-pocket limits ($100,000 that year) and co-pays.

    I realized upon reflection, that he had never paid a medical bill in his life, despite being 36 years old. He had gone from mom to the navy to me.

    • And, lived in a world of paranoia where you are unilaterally increasing his medical bills, lol. My ex accused me of, somehow, working with ALL of the online housing appraisal websites to decrease the value of our home come divorce settlement time. Yea buddy, that’s me. The great real estate puppet master. Or…thats just what our house was worth.

  • Delete the email and never think of her again.
    I didn’t catch if you had left your cheating husband. If not, do this immediately. See you bank, lawyer, std clinic and block his number.

    A person cannot recover from abuse when they live with the abuser.

  • Send OW the link to this chump lady post.
    She’s central, all right. Widely mocked and exposed for the entitled fraud she is.

    Here’s a better letter from the other woman:

    Dear “she persisted”,
    I have wronged you terribly by having an affair with your husband.
    Everything that happened, those wrong decisions and wrong acts on my part belong to me only.
    You are a wonderful person.
    I betrayed you and our friendship. I am ashamed for what I did. And I am sorry.

  • My ex was all weepy and sorreeeee after almost kicking the bucket and having major heart surgery. Yeah. It didn’t last long before the cheating cheater lies came up. Oh, he was a choir boy when he needed me but then new cow bla bla bla. I strongly suspect this bimbo is using you to get through to your ex. Perhaps you’ll tell him she contacted you so that he’ll call her. People also lie about this stuff for sympathy. It’s twisted but there ya go. I’d either never answer or tell her ‘hey bitch, enjoy your ride on the highway to hell.’ No, I’m too kind to send that but I’m thinking it. Omg I’m going to hell now, too! These people love corrupting good people, especially their victims. Don’t answer and just listen to holiday music. Hugs

  • I wouldn’t touch this lady with a 10ft barge pole. Obviously she is looking for attention. If she gets an email cursing her out, I guarantee you: she’ll go public with that email, and make it look like she’s being persecuted for having stage 4 breast cancer. You just can’t win with crazy and she’s totally crazy

  • My initial instinct of a response would be’ “Enjoy hell.”

    But I’d likely never respond which kills their giant ego.

  • She left out the 5 little words that are at the root of her delusional self-centered fuckwittedness:

    ” . . . If you want to send me a message cursing me out, my inbox is open. If you want to call and curse at me – xxx-xxx-xxxx. Just because I’m terminal doesn’t mean I don’t deserve a curse out. AND THEN WE’LL BE EVEN.”

  • This post has me musing on the “9th step exception”. Would that guidance (“made direct amends those we had harmed, except when to do so would injure them or others”) apply here, indicating she should have not sent the note? Other posts in CN think that exception is invalid, and that it lets cheaters off the hook. If that’s the case, she should have send SOME amends at SOME time, although not this one. What do you think?

    • Amends are not supposed to hurt the person, or anyone else! Exception!

      Sometimes when in-person contact would be hurtful it might be possible to make amends indirectly, through action, keeping it anonymous. Sometimes a more general type of amends — like a donation to a relevant charity. Some times it makes sense to just skip it.

      IF the person is sincerely sorry.

      This one doesn’t sound like it.

      (I once had someone, apparently intending to make amends, apologize to me for his _thoughts_ about me; thus inflicting a small shock that was totally unnecessary, since I had no idea he thought bad things about me, or that he thought about me at all! LOLOLOL. Amends were totally unnecessary!)

      • Yes, this exact thing happened to me also, and it was shitty. Ironically the person had ALSO done some actual shitty things to me (outside of the shitty thoughts I didn’t know about) and an apology for those might have been nice. But no, it was “I thought bad things about you when you were in a bad situation and that was wrong of me. OK byeeeee.”

        That experience definitely strengthened my doubts about “the program” especially as practiced by narcs.

    • The key here is she would actually have to be sorry. And she isn’t. Nobody is buying it.

      If your cheater or their AP contacted you nearly two years after your DDay, would you buy it? Or would you tell them to stay in hell where they came from? Most of us would either ignore them, or do the latter.

      In this case, the exception applies. The “amends” is further injurious to SP, it’s insincere, and full of pity grabs.

  • Okay, but like show of hands: How many people want Chump Lady to get the Call 1-800-FUCKWIT line so we have somewhere to curse our brains out without giving fuckwits the kibbles of knowing it happened.

  • I too believe this is all about attention and centrality for the OW.

    Normal people don’t go two rounds with a married man.

    • Yep. And, especially convenient is the two means of contact that the OW gave, you know, so that the chump can be sure to centralize her in multiple formats.

      Also, if someone has true remorse and wants to make amends, they don’t qualify it with background information and “come to Jesus” rhetoric. They just reach out, in the least intrusive way possible, and say “I’m sorry.” Own up. Live better. Leave said chump alone. You don’t front load an apology with your own sad sap story, to be sure to maximize pity toward you and better ensure you are given a pass.

      If this OW is in fact at the end of her life, she will die without any true understanding of remorse or accountability or selfless kindness or even basic humanity. She will meet her maker this way. That’s on her.

  • That email was clearly all about her and her needs. She doesn’t truly care or she wouldn’t have been your “friend” and fucked your husband.

    I was set up and talked to the OW, she denied everything. And was “so sorry for what you’ve been going through.” WTH!!! Then had the audacity to say “I became so close with your husband due to another co-worker.” WTH!!! She admits to becoming close to
    My husband but is too narcissistic to even accept that was HER fault and blames another co-worker. That conversation was over. Cheaters are all about themselves. The hell with them all.

    • What is it with these people. Just because you become close to someone, doesn’t mean you have to fuck them. You can just stay friends, or you can say oh hmmm, this is getting weird and back the hell off.

      That goes to the cheaters and the OW/OM. That is what decent humans do. We aren’t dogs going on instinct.

      • Right?!?! Too close and hey maybe this is a bad idea. We could hurt our spouses, children, we could get fired, the list goes on. But no, they don’t they keep going. Nothing matters more than them and their wants.

  • Dear Persists.
    I agree with the majority here. Do not respond to her. You have nothing to feel bad about. You were a good friend to her and what she did to you is a disgrace. Didn’t have the decency to respond. I would not trust her. Yeah she gives permission to call and cuss her out then tell everyone you did. Honey don’t worry your pretty little head. You owe her nothing.

  • I am going out on a limb here and you can chop it off if you want to. I get where she’s coming from. I sat with a dying relative who asked me if I believed in heaven. When I said yes he said he certainly hoped there was one because there were people he had hurt and he’s so wanted to see them again and tell them how sorry he was. When people are faced with death they really do look back at their lives and regret many things they have done. I’m sorry this has hurt you again. I know you still feel victimized. I wish she had not done it but I know where she’s coming from.

      • I do not want to chop you down,but think that as a chump your relative was capable of feeling a deep sorrow for causing hurt,in the many years I spent with an ethical black hole of an ex,it took the exposure of the abusive affair with the accompanied justifications,none of which acknowledged the depth of pain and grief for our children(or myself) for me to really see that black hole.And to retrospectively be able to see i had never observed that level of feeling in any situation,it was as if he could (prompted) react appropriately but not actually feel with any depth for anyone, let alone the people he should most feel for in this world, his children.I also saw this clearly in the A.P(through much unwanted harassment and a letter I wish wasn’t way too long for C.L!)A kind of a lack hard to describe.

        • Might have to clarify above,my teenaged Daughter(traumatized by email discovery of long term AP and child courtesy of an enraged AP….IGNORED,DECEIVED,DYING although still alive 5years
          And Son 9,thrilled to be finally getting some attention at last in the few months prior to useless father getting outed by AP was shocked and really damaged. The type of situation a father might have concerns for the wellbeing of his children. Nope,zero.

          • More…however he did learn eventually from the( Still) horrified responses to stifle his victimized self-pity attitude,So that others can be deluded more easily,an unfortunate consequence for his future partners.

  • I kept wanting to offer OW the empty grave spot next to Cheater. I was married to Cheater when he died and I think he was buried pretty far down to save a spot for me. Just before I remarried, I pulled my oldest son aside and made him SWEAR that if I died before my wedding, he would NOT bury me with his father.

    I think I know 2 or 3 of his howorkers…imagine the offer I could send them !!

    • The FW in my life wants to be cremated and scattered. I asked him to be sure he doesn’t want our son to have his ashes and he said no, scatter. I asked where and he didn’t have any idea. He said it was a moot point to do end of life planning because he will outlive me but if it happened I could just scatter him any old place as he had no preference. I would prefer to scatter his ashes someplace completely insignificant to him or anyone else. Someplace unlikely to be visited by anyone where no one would care so no part of him that remains can get even an ounce of the attention he has spent his life hurting everyone around him to get. Narcs like FW don’t deserve the energy it would take to be angry at them. On that note, I have never wanted to do anything funny or bad with the place where he ends up. I just want it to be a place quickly forgotten like he should be. I sincerely hope when he goes that someone else handles it and I have no idea what becomes of him. His wasted existence should have no legacy. I wonder if feeling that way means I am closer to MEH!

      • Lol “he will outlive you” these FWs really think they are in control don’t they?

        No one knows for whom and when the bell tolls, not even these self important assholes.

  • OK. For those of you who commented above and are discussing what forgiveness is and isn’t:

    The book I’m reading is Richard Fitzgibbons and Robert Enright, ‘Forgiveness Therapy: An empirical guide for resolving anger and restoring hope.’

    They’re both very experienced psychologists with many years’ practice and research in this area. (This isn’t something they just pulled out of thin air or Esther Perel.)

    It’s not a light read, or an easy one, but I am doing this because I want to have the right foundations to offer this as a therapy to clients who want to try it out.

    They start out with a long and detailed definition of forgiveness:

    “People, on rationally determining that they have been unfairly treated, forgive when they wilfully abandon resentment and related responses (to which they have a right) and endeavour to respond to the wrongdoer based on the moral principle of beneficience, which may include compassion, unconditional worth, generosity, and moral love (to which the wrongdoer, by nature of the hurtful act or act, has no right.)”

    They then go into a LOT of detail about practically every word in this definition, so there is no room for ambiguity.

    You can already see that it’s got nothing to do with the offender apologizing. It’s a process that can – and maybe should – take place entirely independently of them.

    It’s something YOU choose to do, in your OWN time, at your OWN pace, for YOUR longterm benefit.

  • A bit more from Enright and Fitzgibbons on what forgiveness is NOT:

    Pardon, legal mercy, leniency- a judge is not the person hurt
    Absolving – this is religious
    Condoning and excusing – putting up with it or ‘letting it go’
    Tolerating – respecting others’ rights even when they are annoying
    Accepting the other’s apology – you can do this and still not forgive them
    Reconciliation – nuh-huh
    Conciliation – appeasing or placating an offender
    Justification – telling yourself their behavior was fair after all – nope
    Forgetting – this just leaves you vulnerable to being offended against again
    Becoming less disappointed – you can actually forgive and still be disappointed with a person’s behavior
    Balancing the scales – revenge, punishment
    Self-centring – forgiving only for your own benefit, focusing just on yourself and not the offender
    Letting time heal the wound – this is not active
    Abandoning resentment – you can do this and not feel any compassion towards the offender
    Possessing positive feelings – nope
    Saying ‘I forgive you’ – not necessary
    Making a decision to forgive – this is only going part of the way
    A quick fix – nope, it’s a long struggle in most cases
    Accepting what happened – nope
    God will punish them/karma bus – this is cloaked revenge
    I have moved on – nope
    I have the satisfaction of not letting them get to me – also possibly cloaked revenge
    I like to let them know how much they owe me – also probably cloaked revenge

    The thing is: ALL of these can be steps towards forgiveness. But some people will choose not to progress any further along than a particular point.

    This is ALWAYS the injured person’s choice. Always.

    This is where the pop psychology and RIC world get it so hopelessly wrong – “Why You Not Forgive?” The discourse around this fake version of forgiveness just retraumatizes the victim and becomes a weapon to use against them, the Bitter Bunny.

    The Enright-Fitzgibbons model is completely the opposite. It treats the injured person with complete respect and autonomy.

    In this model, forgiveness is a really personal choice – or rather a series of choices, usually taking a long time, working through a process, and with multiple steps forward and back.

    What’s interesting for me is that both the Enright-Fitzgibbons model, and Chump Lady, both terminate at the State of Meh – reduced negative affect, and improved health, happiness and gaining a life.

    • Lola, If you throw in smatterings of “I have no fucks to give about the pitiful consequences you earned for yourself” they you kind of have the manner in which I deal with my narc, alcoholic, demented parents.

      • Not dissimilar here, unicorn.

        I actually feel sorry for them because of what they missed out on – a happy relationship with children who loved them. Friendships. All sorts of stuff.

  • I struggled with the idea of “compassion” or “pity” for my ex. However, I found that I’ve started to feel it spontaneously the last while (I’m three years out now). It’s not a compassion such as, “poor thing, how awful for him”. It’s more like a pang of sadness for lost opportunity on his part. I see him and there is this pathetic aspect to him that actually doesn’t give me feelings of vindication. I just feel sad for his sorry state of affairs (no pun intented). Here was a guy who could have had it all.

    Now, all he has is an affair partner that no one has accepted. He’s at her place the days he doesn’t have the kids and uses his rental on the days with the kids. Our housing prices have skyrocketed and he will never be able to purchase on his own. None of his family speaks of this woman. Most of his long-term friends have not met this woman as their wives are still my friends and don’t want to see her. His best friend was my cousin and my cousin cut him off because he felt betrayed by all my ex’s lies.

    We’re supposed to get wiser as we get older, have our shit together, attain peace and carry ourselves with greater confidence. He’s just regressed in this compartmentalized life of his. He’s lost the respect of so many people.

    Though he’ll never be my friend, and my boundaries will not come down with him for my own well-being, I don’t wish him ill. He doesn’t get to have anything more from me beyond what I do for our kids. I think that reaching this element of compassion is a by-product of one’s own life getting better and the process of growing stronger. The further away I get from him and what he did, the less power the trauma of it has on me.

    • Wise words…thanks for that.

      “It’s more like a pang of sadness for lost opportunity on his part.” Exactly this. And, in my case, that my ex will be forever trapped in the prison of his own insecurities and neediness, his own inability to find happiness. He will chase it his entire life without every understanding that it exists right in front of him in a million little ways. He’ll never understand the peace and authenticity of feeling and acting and thinking in unison.

  • Hello Chump Nation – I am She Persisted. I have been reading your comments and I am blown away by all of your support and help in this shitty situation. I have taken all of your good advice to heart. I have grown so much since I first discovered Chump Lady (who my STBX tried to steer me away from – according to him, CL is *that* – gaslighting at it’s finest).

    There was a time in my life where I would have jumped at the opportunity to get the “real truth” from the OW and run face first into the pain just so that I could just catch STBX in more lies, but I know that CL and CN are right. This person does not deserve my time, attention, whether she is healthy or sick and dying. Instead of choosing more pain, I am choosing PEACE. Thank you, fellow Chumps for helping me navigate this.

    Ironically, I am a divorce attorney (chumpdom can happen to anyone!). Thanks to Chump Lady and Chump Nation, I am going to use my professional skills to help “change the narrative” in my legal practice.

    • ETA STBX tried to steer me away from Chump Lady because it’s all “bitter” women

      • I am so glad you will be using your situation to change the narrative in the legal system.

        People need to understand the trauma, and they need to know the full scope of infidelity. I think so many who have not been a victim see it as an “indiscretion” they don’t know about the months, sometimes years of manipulation, theft, emotional abuse etc that the betrayed has endured. Many times even the betrayed won’t speak of it, because they are so ashamed for being so stupid, and they also want so badly to believe that he/she once really did love them. It is a horror to think it was all a lie.

        I had a lawyer who for some reason even back then knew at least a portion of what I was going through. Had I not chosen the right one, who knows how awful it could have turned out for me.

  • Whatever forgiveness is… I think it’s different for each of us.
    I just move on and you’re dead to me. I don’t try to screw you over. I don’t talk about you. I don’t care about you anymore. I don’t need an explanation or closure.
    I hate apologies after deliberate cruelty. It shows the person was more comfortable causing the hurt than refraining. That is enough for me.

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