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My Mom Sided with the Cheater

Dear Chump Lady,

After five years of being with my soon-to-be-ex husband, (4 years engaged, 10 best friends), I finally leapt off the proverbial cliff and tied the noose… err, knot. I suppose that I had given up on getting an answer back from God on whether I should marry him and succumbed to “making things right” in my religious beliefs. Sigh. For a month and a half, it was pure marital bliss! Then, I discovered his wretched porn addiction. Multiple times, splayed out on my sofa with his pants around his ankles, pretending to watch TV and gratifying himself to Pornhub, while I was lying in bed in strappy Victoria’s Secret lace, waiting for my newly wedded groom. (The full-length version of these discoveries is quite colorful and I’m certain my head nearly exploded, since we had both made a “no-masturbation pact” and extremely specific vows of purity to each other. Yes, so very Corinthians of us.) Who chooses porn over their attractive and 15 years younger bride that’s waiting to fuck you stupid? (I was told he was “teaching me a lesson.”)

That discovery led me to go asshole-deep into his phone that we had both saved each other’s fingerprints on, which led me to a few weeks of daily discoveries of all sorts of infidelity over the years, when, at one point, he was fucking 13 other women (and me!) all at the same time. He was organized enough to keep this tidily in an Excel spreadsheet with dates and times and locations. I found 9662 photos worth (I took photos of his phone with mine so I would have “proof” that couldn’t be deleted) of said bullshit, including three active dating profiles, and a lifetime worth of lies and cheater-depravity. He was even using the Caribbean vacation and scuba diving trip that I paid for and surprised him with to pick up on women. 

I got both of us into a 12-step program for sex addicts, (him as the addict and me as the angry and betrayed) and was trying to wrap my mind around the idea of ever getting past any of this. I just kept finding out more and more and had two months of “staggered disclosure” when he finally snapped and physically assaulted me, permanently disabling my shoulder. (Former National Champion College Football Prick, you know). That was my non-negotiable. Blah blah, that led to Assault 4 and Felony Strangulation charges, two restraining orders (he kept violating the one the court put in place) and now we’re here, finally facing his trial later this month. Honestly, I hope he ends up having to do some legitimate prison time for this and finally has a dose of accountability for his actions.

More than a decade of forgiving the cheating bastard and arriving here isn’t my issue though; that’s my empathic stupid ass. The real betrayal? My mom has developed a crush on him and has taken his side in this. Even going so far as to participate in his fuckery, like looking through the spare phone that he bought and downloaded his backup onto, giving to her “so that he could prove to her he wasn’t ‘cheating’ with all of these women,” including meandering through the dick pics that he had saved on his phone. (Call me old-fashioned, but I really don’t want my mother peering at my husband’s sad boner.) I could go on for an hour about all the things that she and my stepfather have done for, or with him, but it didn’t stop at my cheater cooking them Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’m just crushed at this. She wasn’t even there for me for my shoulder surgery, trying to repair the damage that he caused. She will barely speak to me, if at all, but talks to him daily. They won’t come to my house because I’ve moved on and am finally dating again, but they go to his place now, after I included her address on the second restraining order I was granted. She buried his dog that died at her house and hung his collar on her fence! Ugh.

I’m not sure what to do with her, or how I can forgive her for any of this, let alone all of it. She did this with my first husband (an emotionally abusive cop, because I really know how to pick them!) and it took me years to forgive her, eventually ascribing it to her daddy issues. I’m an only child, too, so the failure of this relationship might cost her ending up alone in a nursing home if we can’t repair it. It just feels like the DNA has been forever altered now. What mother on the planet chooses this kind of POS over her own daughter?


Fool Me Twice

Dear Fool Me Twice,

So let’s recap. We’ve got two abusive ex-husbands, a conservative religious upbringing, and a mom who enjoys Thanksgiving dinner with the guy who strangled you.

I don’t even have words for how fucked up that is. And I have a LOT of words. Like, I make my living with words, and I’m all, where do I file this? Trust that they suck is not quite covering it.

Let’s start with mom.

She isn’t normal. For humans, or for the animal kingdom. Speaking as a mother, if someone were to threaten my child, my primal instinct is to tear off their face. In this respect, I am not unlike a grizzly bear. You get too close to a grizzly bear’s cub? Mama bear is coming for you.

It’s not just love, nature made us this way. Propagation of the species and all. It’s in our best interests to continue our lineage and protect our offspring. And when you bond, you protect.

It sounds to me like you were raised by a barbed wire monkey. A mother-approximation creature who isn’t bonded to you in the way a mother should be. There are no warning sirens going off for her when you’re hurt. She doesn’t protect you — WORSE, she sides with your abuser.

That betrayal, honestly, seems a million times worse than marriage to the PornHub Strangler. The person who should have your back here is saying through her actions that she’s okay with your abuse. She ratifies it. Go ahead and dislocate the other shoulder, heck, you deserve it.

I don’t know what’s in her head (bats? an endless moral void?), but she’s doing some sort of mental gymnastics that concludes that your abuse doesn’t matter.

Someone might jump in here and say, oh, that’s how abusers are, they turn everyone against you. They’re so wily and clever.

Yeah, no. That shit might work with your neighbor, or the dim woman who sat on a committee with you, but it should not work with your MOTHER. She’s made a choice of who to side with and it’s exactly what it looks like — she’s complicit in his abuse of you.

So fuck her. CN can weigh in on this. I’d put a lot of distance there. I’d probably give her a boundary that if he’s in her life, you will not be in her life. But of course, you cannot un-know this. I’m loathe to estrange a parent, even an abusive one, but that may be what’s called for here. Get a good therapist to help you proceed.

My point is — given your upbringing, abuse must feel normal to you. Healthy is going to feel disorienting. And no one modeled to you what to do when those sirens go off. (DANGER! DANGER!) Run? Fight? Or go make it a cup of a tea?

The good news is — boundaries can be learned. The even better news is — you’re a fighter. Despite your shit upbringing, you got out of one abusive relationship and you can get out of the second. You pressed charges. You’re having that trial. You’re imposing consequences. WELL DONE!

Sometimes, we have to learn to be our own mama grizzly.

So, here are a few pointers, I’m culling from your letter.

we had both made a “no-masturbation pact” and extremely specific vows of purity to each other. Yes, so very Corinthians of us.)

Marriage is a vow. And the rest of this seems all very marriage-police-ish to me. (But I’m not an evangelical Christian, so I’m probably slow on the purity pact thing.) You either have a partner you can trust and can be intimate with, or you don’t. No pact will make a dishonest person honest. And masturbation is fine and healthy and shouldn’t be policed, IMO.

We have to know our dealbreakers. The PornHub stuff is vile, (everyone go read Nicholas Kristoff on the Children of PornHub right now, please), but the egregious thing is how he used it to reject you. To set you up and punish you.

You can go down a rabbit hole of purity and wanking, but the real issue is that abusive dynamic.

I got both of us into a 12-step program for sex addicts, (him as the addict and me as the angry and betrayed)

Are you a sex addict? (Assuming that’s a thing. I don’t think it’s a thing.) Why on earth would you enlist in a program that BLAMES you for his behavior? And enlists YOU in fixing HIM? Cue my standard line — we don’t have superpowers. We don’t control other people. Sex addiction therapy is the same Reconciliation Industrial Complex bullshit. This isn’t an “us” problem, it’s an entitled fuckwit problem.

I’ve moved on and am finally dating again

Heal up first please. I’m not one of these people who thinks you need to wait years before you date, but you’re not out of a marriage with a guy who STRANGLED you yet and you have an upcoming trial. You’ve got no emotional bandwidth for a relationship now, and being wobbly gives you very good odds of choosing another fuckwit.

Blah blah, that led to Assault 4 and Felony Strangulation charges,

Not blah blah. You have a very breezy writing style. “I was married to a man who nearly killed me” isn’t the stuff of humorous dry understatement. (Trust me, I have a blog attempting this tragicomedy thing.) It’s the stuff of RED SIREN ALERT OMG OMG OMG!

Do not gloss over your abuse. That’s exactly how we got here.

Big ((hugs)) for the trial ahead. Please send us an update.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Chump Lady:

    Quick question: Why are you “loathe to estrange a parent, even an abusive one….”? I would think that abuse would tip the scales in favor of estrangement.

    • I think this situation should too. It’s a deeply personal decision. It takes a lot to estrange yourself from a parent. I guess I’m just awkwardly saying I wouldn’t make the decision lightly. Some people manage to put distance there, and enforce boundaries, yet still care for a vulnerable parent when they age, or if they have a change of heart. It’s difficult to see how that would happen here. Some people still feel a filial duty to bad parents. That’s why I defer to an experienced therapist on this part.

      • Thanks CL for your reply. I was sexually abused from 10 years old to 12 years old by a boy in our neighborhood who was 14 to 16 years old. My Mom knew, everybody knew. I was told by my family that I was a slut. As you can imagine, many bad decisions come from that kind of guilt and shame (2 marriages to cheaters). After my first divorce/escape, my Mom also befriended my ex. It was a weird kind of competition, she wanted me to know how attracted to her he was. Yuck. However, I was able to move forward after many, many years to an affectionate relationship with my Mom. It wasn’t a nurturing, loving kind of relationship, but It was familial and affectionate. I was always honest, so she learned not to ask too many questions. We always kept the focus on her, because that was the only way to be in a relationship with her. She died in a nursing home in November. I never brought up my abuse to her, she was offended if I ever shared any of my pain or fears. I have no regrets.

        • That was my first thought — that Mom has the hots for the abusive ex. Abusive ex may be having sex with Mom as further punishment for Fool Me Twice.

          Abusive ex’s comment on masturbating to porn as “punishment” for his wife made my skin crawl. Twisted and sick all the way around. Free yourself and don’t look back.

          • Agree with every word here. He’s showing her dick pics? So he could prove to her he wasn’t cheating? That is a Grade A Cheater Lie if I ever heard one. I mean come on. I’m so sorry but I agree, they are having sex. This is staggering abuse. You owe her nothing. Run and don’t look back.

          • “makes my skin crawl” is the best description of how I feel after reading this. Also nauseous.

            The masturbation-as-punishment just feels rapey, as in he’s using sex as a weapon and to control her in a hateful way. I hope Fool Me Twice doesn’t try to minimize this as “breaking a pact” or simply a betrayal of their religion. The intent is far more horrifying than the act itself.

        • ((((IamChump)))
          You are Mighty.
          I am so sorry for all that you went through.
          So very sorry, big big hugs to you. ❤️

        • “I was sexually abused from 10 years old to 12 years old by a boy in our neighborhood who was 14 to 16 years old. My Mom knew, everybody knew. I was told by my family that I was a slut.” I have a very similar story except I was 13-16. Also I never told my mom he was raping me because at the time I didn’t understand that’s what it was. But she had calls from concerned parents who knew I was being hurt. Her response was to punish and attack me and call the police on me, who then proceeded to threaten me. I had a criminal record as a child because another kid at school was raping, abusing, and threatening me and every person around me blamed me and treated me as if I was the perpetrator against them somehow! I did nothing illegal. I harmed no one. But I was the mass target. My C-PTSD to this day has triggered severe, disabling chronic illness and has been nearly impossible to navigate in my adult life. My mom continues to publicly slut shame and blame me to this day and takes any opportunity to verbally and sometimes even physically hurt me. She doesn’t side with my abusive exes, but instead jumps on board the abuse train and completes with them for the most abusive title. I’m so glad you figured out a safe distance from your mom and that you have made peace with that. This is my goal as well.

          • Am so sorry to hear about all your traumas, MarissaChump and IamChump. Big hugs to both of you, and I hope you’re getting the support you need from other sources.

            • LezChump, I’m looking for more support now. It’s taken a long time to figure out that my shame is getting in the say of my healing. Do you have any reccomendations? I appreciate it.

          • Marissa, why do you tolerate and accept this abuse from your mother? She will hit you still? Why have you not cut her out of your life? Why have you not got therapy for this abuse and have them help you be done with her? I bet a lot of your issues will simmer down once she is out of your life. You don’t need her and it is ok to cut bad toxic people out even if family.

          • Oh, marissachump, it breaks my heart to read this.

            Sadly, “jumps on board the abuse train” is something that I can say about my mother too. It’s one of the traits I notice in sociopaths. They can’t help themselves.

          • MarissaChump, I’m so sorry for everything you went through. I’m an old lady myself now, it took decades for me to stop needing/wanting Mom’s love and nurture. That was the distance. I hope you find your peace.

        • IamChump, I don’t understand the logic: “she was offended if I ever shared any of my pain”.
          I mean it in kindness. Seems that you put her feelings above your pain.
          I guess it’s a personal decision, after all.

          • European,
            I don’t understand the logic either. My Mom was bored by anything about me, and offended by anything that might touch her that wasn’t narc supply. To share my pain with my Mom meant I was to be rejected, berated, gaslit and accused of abuse towards her. It took awhile, but I stopped putting myself through that. She wouldn’t be a part of my healing, or help me understand how it all happened. It hurt her too much, and when she was hurt, she hurt back. She was the victim in my abuse, she was so humiliated and embarassed. The button for putting her feelings above my pain was built into me before I knew what my feelings were. It doesn’t feel like a personal decision. I’m glad for you that you don’t understand.

            • IamChump,
              Thanks for sharing, and am sorry that you have had to suffer so much.
              What you wrote is helping me.
              My story is further down below.

            • Iamchump, thank you for sharing. I am so sad and sorry for what you had to endure. I resonate with the way your mother had you believe that your feelings did not matter. It is so bewildering to discover that our mother did not love us in a normal way, and hugely difficult to apprehend what love should look like, so we do not hurt the next generation the way we have been hurt. You describe your world of hurt in a clear way. That is mighty. It helps me very much. Lots of hugs!!!

      • The mother here is a monster.

        FMT, you have spent years making excuses for her and minimizing your own pain.

        No wonder you keep picking abusive men who talk a big game about love, and then treat you like shit.

        You are totally worth more than this.

        I can’t tell you what to do or not do. But I can say that I know a bit about what you’re going through. My mother sent me back to a man who was hitting me, and we weren’t even married.

        And it wasn’t malice; it was sheer lack of interest and not really listening to what I had told her, plus she was uncomfortable with the conversation, so my pain was trivialized and dismissed.

        And so back I went. He was Cheater #1, and I always thought it was odd that I would date someone who reminded me so much of my mother.

        • Ugh, I’m sorry.

          I’d also add there is a generational aspect to this. Women tolerated domestic abuse and infidelity for eons. There were whole systems in place to keep women vulnerable economically and emotionally. Think about single parenting before pregnancy discrimination laws and Title IV, or women being able to get credit cards or bank loans (the 1970s!)

          Thank God enough women thought enough with this shit and the laws changed. But I think to previous generations, putting up with abuse is what you had to do.

          • Generational differences affected women as did religious differences (and perhaps still do). I can’t speak to other religions, but I know that Catholic women like my mother put up with crap by saying, “It’s my cross to bear.”

            Oh, and my father loved when the reading at church was, “Wives be submissive to your husbands.” He gloated all day over that one.

            I swam in those messages early on.

            • My lapsed-Catholic STBX asked the female Episcopal priest, during our pre-wedding meeting to discuss the ceremony and other issues, “I did not hear you say “obey” in those vows?” Snd she said “you’re damn right!” I thought he was kidding in being taken aback. This was 22 years ago. When they show you who they are, believe them.

              • So many truths coming up here … and really, really sad stuff.

                “When they show you who they are, believe them.”

                FMT, besides agreeing with CL that it may not be the wisest to be dating atm … the likelihood is that this new man may be a familiar wolf in the same old sheep’s clothing. You are so habituated to abusive relationships. Keep an VERY keen eye out for when he shows you who he really is.

                Thanks CL for bringing up the historical context – and worth pointing out that patriarchal fundamentalist Christian bs perpetuates the out-of-date ‘norm’ that women must just put up with a husband’s behaviour. Never mind if the behaviour is shocking and abusive.

          • There’s the fact right there! My mother put up with cheating. It was the typical story: I loved him I decided to forget it. He was drunk in the bar. I was a housewife. It happened, I avoided him for a month, and we never talked about it again.
            That was and has been my “inspiration” over the past year. After my mother’s initial disgust toward my husband- Some of her other comments have been “they need you right now” (he and his daughter), I don’t think “he’d ever do that again”, “being alone is hard”, etc… sometimes I think she wants to keep him around because he does a lot for us manual labor type stuff AND she’s a sap for abuse. Never made good choices it was a roller coaster growing up.
            I’m so sorry for the writer and hope she can slow down as you advised. Dating doesn’t seem necessary
            Thanks CL

            • I think that when your mom has herself stayed with a cheater or an abusive spouse, your choice to leave is threatening to her. It makes her see that maybe she was wrong to stay, and that causes tremendous cognitive dissonance because it potentially invalidates her whole life. So instead of doing the work of reevaluating her own choices, she simply decides that you are the one who is wrong.
              But the OP’s nom goes way beyond that. She is as disordered as the cheater.

              • This is why I can’t talk about my past abusive boyfriend with my mother, even if it would explain a lot, etc…. She knows her husband (my father) is cruel & wrong. She loves complaining about him, but I feel PSTD quakes when she complains because it reminds me of the worst aspect of childhood for me (being my parents marriage counselor & being pushed in between them). Only in adulthood do I see that my father hurt her by favoring me (explaining some of her hostility to me). Even worse I talked to her like he did at times. I’d do anything to change that past. But definitely can’t bring it up even if it’d be freeing for her to realize this. Plus I can only be near them much now because of Polyvagal & other trauma therapy.

      • My mother made things easy for me to estrange myself from her: she chose to throw me under a bus, and in a way that harmed my sons when I found out about her faults and braked one of them.

        I actually like to think it was her way of protecting me from the extra shit that she knew would eventually come along in her old age.

        My mother lied to my father that she was pregnant. Just like Holly Golightly, she thought he was a wealthy South American. He was a middle-class student whose parents made a huge sacrifice to put him through an American university in the 50s. And, lucky for my mother, a devout Catholic who would not abandon a girl he got pregnant. I was born 11 months later.
        Then my dad raised a daughter who is not his.
        Then my mother, after a hell of a good life provided by my father, tried to get him declared mentally incompetent to get his insurance.

        And, by the way, everything came back to bite her.

        So, Fool Me Twice: please take care of yourself!

        By the way, another reason my dad married my “pregnant” mother was because he feared his grandmother, a formidable and fair woman who had whipped her son when she found out he was making his maid sleep with him. She made him marry the girl and told him: “You will NOT treat ANY woman this way”. This was in the 30s. I think they were happy.

      • It does indeed take a lot to estrange a parent, but sometimes – it is the cure for what ails a chump child. Both my children are fully estranged from my a-hole ex after he fully and completely showed them who he actually was as a man, his opinion of women (to be used and discarded at his pleasure) and his lack of respect for everyone he claimed to love – from his overly indulgent mother on down to his two children. The weight lifted by making that difficult decision – and remembering that a sperm or egg do not a good dad/mom make outside of the most base biology – has been imeasurable. Weddings are joyful events because he is not in the equation. Holidays are happy – life truly is better for our entire family. They both made the decisions at slightly different moments (both are adults) but once they did – no regrets. So lose this sad, pathetic and toxic excuse for a mom, FoolMeTwice. To paraphrase Shakespeare – bad wombs can produce good fruit. She is a bad womb – kick her out of your life and feel the weight lift.

        • As someone who is contemplating estrangement from my FW liar and cheater of a father, I appreciate your comment. Indeed it is a difficult decision, especially when, as a person of good character, I expected to care for my parents in their old age and was willing to do so. But the more I find out about my father’s double-life, the less I want to have to do with him. He has made choices that put him where he is. HE chose other everything (work, women, shiny objects) over his family EVERY time. ALWAYS. As a family unit, we were just there to provide and prop up his image as a “family man” though he was anything but.

          What do I owe this person who is called my “father” but who never acted like one? Who sleeps with women younger than me. Who gives his time, attention, “affection,” resources, energy to anything and everything outside of the family? What do I owe him? He went so far as to say that he thinks the family “owes him,” though he never elaborated on what we owed him.

          Anyway, I appreciate hearing about your children and how it has brought them peace and happiness. So many people say “But he’s your faaather (or mother)….” and insinuate that they know anything about what he’s put me or the family through.

          I hope you and your kids are well and thriving.

          • Bullshit and Lies,
            I hope you find the correct answer for you – but NEVER feel that you owe anything to a man who so obviously feels he owes nothing to you or his family. He sounds much like my ex, much like so many of the narcisist men and women we all have written about in this life-saving blog Tracy started. He is toxic – you might as well be taking poison as deal with the stress, anxiety, pain and rage brought on by his actions – his choices. And that bit about you “owing” him?? My ex – seriously – said the identical thing to my children. He was owed “love” and was owed “respect” for no other reason than he had two sperm with senses of direction. The fact he would say that to you indicates his incredible self absorption and lack of any empathy or real care regarding your feelings.
            And one other thing – don’t let ANYONE guilt you with the “but it’s your dad” line – they know nothing of what you feel or what the dynamic is between you and your father. It’s not their business, and it would not be wrong for you to tell them just that, believe me. You are the only one making the choices here, and you have to make them based on what works best for you at this point. I can tell you that both my kids are healthy, happy and thriving in their lives. Both have told people outside our immediate family that they have no regrets. Each has handled removing their father from their lives slightly differently. But there is not any bitterness or lingering anger in either of them. It’s like they removed a cancer, honestly. He removed himself partway from our family when he deserted us, but he hoped to keep the aspects of that old life that flattered him. What he didn’t expect was that his children would have the strength of character to finish the job and remove him completely. I wish you all the best and hope you find a path to a peaceful and full life with all the great possibilities that includes.

          • Watch the Danish movie “The Celebration”, a black comedy drama for inspiration
            A fellow child of a narc abuser father

    • Because children have a biological need for love and approval from their parent(primary care giver). There is no logical explanation because it begins at birth with no language to interpret anything. Babies somehow manage to think in the abstract and make decisions. The one decision that is nearly impossible to make is to let go of their mother

      • I hit send too soon. On the other hand mothers let go of their children. My sil did it to my brother ans his very young kids. She never looked back. It happens.

    • I couldn’t agree more. This is a highly toxic parent. Sometimes you have to cut family off for the sake of your mental health.
      The OP asks how she can forgive her mom, as if she is required to. She’s not. Nor is she required to have her in her life.
      I mean, the psycho tries to kill FMT and her mom is FRIENDS with him, even cooks him thanksgiving dinner? That is utterly depraved.

  • FMT,

    Your cheater – by definition – sucks, so NC for him. Your Mom – sadly for you – also sucks, so NC for her too; this isn’t about retaliation. it’s about protecting yourself. And please listen to what CL says about not dating right now …… you really do risk just stacking up yet more hurt for yourself.

    And best of luck for the trial; I hope that he gets what is coming to him.


    • Hi,

      I think one very important aspect to consider is the upcoming trial. I would not make any moves out of the ordinary (including N.C.) to fire her mother up more. Behave normal -abnormal. Her mother is morally and mentally unwell and you don’t want to stoke retaliation and negative advocacy anymore than is already present. For example organizing allies for court against Fool Me Twice as an indirect attempt to have control over her daughter and diluting/thwarting protective legal consequences. It could have serious consequences post trial with this dangerous guy.

      • Lisa,

        Fully agree that FMT should avoid rocking the boat pre-trial …… however beyond that she really needs to protect herself by going NC with her Mom. I do sense, however, that her Mom will interpret whatever FMT does and whenever FMT does it in a negative fashion.


        • You are absolutely right LFTT. Her mother is extremely abusive, and timing is everything.

          Right now the mother feels significant and central in the triangle/pick me dance. If Fool Me Twice dared to set any limits or cut off contact pretrial, the mother would become actively vindictive with a delusional sense of entitlement and false sense of victimization. She would go balls to the wall teaming with the ex.

          Unfortunately judges get played while trying to dscern who really are the dangerous ones. The added element of a mothers negative testimony could just be more money and stress to fight thru.

          Best wishes to you Fool me twice. Be as non threatening as you can for your safety.

      • Agreed. Good advice to just lay low and go “grey rock” for the time-being. When all is said and done with the legal situation, then go no contact. For now, perhaps not rocking the boat is the best course of action in order to get through the current legal affairs.

        FMT, sending you strength and fortitude to overcome your obstacles to joy.


      “Sex addiction therapy is the same Reconciliation Industrial Complex bullshit”

      Can you imagine if you have to listen to “drunkalogues” and “drugalogues” in other 12 step meetings, what the hell do you listen to in sex anon meetings? A room full of professional disordered liars “pervaloguess” “skeezealogues”?? And then being told (blameshifting) to “accept your part in it”?! This has to be one of Dantes circles of hell.

  • “I’ve moved on and am finally dating again”.

    These were the words that scared me the most.

    First abusive marriage of how long? at what age? -> second abusive marriage to a guy you’ve “known” for what looks like at least 10 years? who tried to kill you? -> you’ve MOVED ON and are DATING?

    I was watching ‘Spectre’ tonight and one of the baddies says to James Bond: “You are a kite dancing in a hurricane”.

    This is a potent image.

    Fool Me Twice, listen to Chump Lady. She’s telling you some painful but valuable stuff here that will save you weeks in therapy.

    You are skating over and diminishing the abuse that your gravely disordered mother has inflicted on you. It sounds like she may be the root cause of your fascination with unsafe people.

    And you sound like someone who’s been in a hurry all her life to get somewhere, and who doesn’t spend a lot of time processing or reflecting on What The Hell Just Happened.

    I try not to make blanket statements like this, but you absolutely should not be dating.

    I would say that you SHOULD totally be seeing a competent, trauma-informed therapist and exploring family of origin issues and patterns of abuse. Dig deep and don’t be scared; the relief is immense.


    Not your mom, not your exes.

    YOU. You need to do this for yourself.

    (PS: This is the amateur Scripture scholar in me, but nowhere in Corinthians does it say that marrying a guy you’ve been sleeping with already somehow retroactively makes the unmarried fucking okay with God now. A common theological mistake which many have made, only to find themselves trapped in awful marriages with terrible people. Please, literally for the love of God, don’t make this mistake again.)

    This is all a bit stern of me, but there’s a lot of red flags here.

    You are worth more than this.

    • You said it, Lola. I totally agree. FMT, I also have a strict Christian belief in the sanctity of marriage and ‘for better or worse’. However, I really, really, really don’t believe any of the Christian faiths want you to be with a liar and a cheater. Your FW chose to ‘leave the marriage’ by not keeping his vows. And when an unbeliever leaves, you let him go. And like Lola says, don’t date. Figure yourself out. I also came from a highly dysfunctional family. When I finally was done with my FW, my head was a total mess. I wanted to date, but I thank God that He didn’t put anyone in my path. I was able to heal, figure out all the crap that I went through and why. It all came down to the fact that 1) That’s all I knew, and 2) I didn’t love myself. So once I realized that I had value, and my value did not depend on anyone recognizing it, that’s when I stopped allowing anyone else to hurt me. I put up boundaries. My father is not someone I choose to have a relationship with. I called him up once a long time ago out of feelings for ‘Honor thy Father’. Within 5 seconds he said, “You should call me more often. I’m not going to be alive forever.” I replied, “Well dad, you can pick up the phone and call me.” And I hung up. And that was it. I was done. I call him on occasion just because I still feel it necessary (he’s 92) but he never messes with me anymore. He still pulls some of my siblings’ strings to this day because they have not yet realized that they don’t ever have to put up with his crap again. But he doesn’t mess with those of us that are finally done with him. I strongly recommend that you do not date until you also learn to love yourself and recognize your value.

  • Oh Sweet hell, of course you go no contact with anyone who supports the monster who tried to kill you. Anyone, including your biological mother. I am so sorry there is any question in your mind. You deserve a Mama who loves you.

    Now you become your very own Mama Bear. I envision myself as my own Mama Bear. It is empowering to me to envision the care and nurturing that Mama Bear Me provides the wounded me. I am encouraging you to protect yourself like a fierce Mama Bear. Mama Bear has very low tolerance for any threats to her baby.

    Please step away from anyone who supports a man who tried to kill you. Blood kin or no, that woman doesn’t love you. She made her choice. Now you make yours, choose you.

    I join Chump Lady in encouraging you to find a therapist. You can weed out the bad ones by asking their stance on adultery. Find one who agrees Adultery is abuse. I’ve been in therapy for nearly two years now. I am a new me. I have boundaries. I have self respect. I am my very own Mama Bear.

    I want that for you. I want you to know the peace that comes with eliminating the toxic people from your life. Boundaries and No Contact protect us, they are tools of your Mama Bear. I am so glad you survived this horrific violence. I am in awe of your resilience and bravery.

    • Thirtythree is giving some excellent advice. I was neglected as a child and learning to “self parent” had been really important in my healing. When your parents don’t protect or love you it’s challenging to know how to protect and love yourself.

      CL often talks about the exhilarating freedom that happens when we go no contact with our cheaters, but the same is true of leaving anyone abusive. Distancing myself from my parents allowed me to realize how triggering and depressing even just talking to them on the phone can be.

      I realized I’m officially too old to pick me dance for my parents. I’m too tired to give a shit anymore about their FEELINGS when they don’t care about my HEALTH & SAFETY. I didn’t completely cut them off, but I minimize interactions and keep phone calls very short.

      I hope you find your magnificent Tuesday when you are free from your cheater, your mother, and anyone else who supports your abuse and violence.

  • Wow. Big hugs to you Fool Me Twice! In addition to the excellent advice of CL, allow me to reiterate that you are in a very toxic mother-daughter relationship, I am so sorry. Your story echo of mine, and I would like to hug you tight. You do not mention your father, and I presume he also let you down. I presume the same from your extended family, if you have any. Please do not feel guilt of going No Contact with your mother. Please you must protect yourself. She chose your ex. She can go to him in her old age. Yes she raised you, but not in a loving way. You do not owe her love. Her toxicity primed you to get into relationships with toxic men. Healing yourself from that will take time and help from non-toxic people. Your family does not appear capable of any help. I am very sorry and wishes you to heal and recover ????????

  • I think we’re soul sisters! My mom was the same. She came to me in the midst of my trauma, upset because he didn’t come say hi when she saw him at the post office. She was truly upset, and had no concern that I was a melting puddle.
    Honestly, she had been that way my entire life. I point to my upbringing to explain how I ended up with my ex. Just like I did with the ex, I went no contact with her about the same time. Both of them are out of my life and I feel so much lighter.

  • (Uh… There’s a mom-OW-shaped elephant in this room, right? Is it just me?)

    Complex PTSD.

    The stuff that’s going on here is multifaceted. It sounds many, many years old and new at the same time. It also sounds very, very twisted, and twisted is impossible to clearly see and change while one is in it. So, you must get out. It’s the only same choice.

    I am 100% on board with closing the door on any parent who would believe the abuser over their own child. Even in an extreme case where the child (adult or not) might be lying about the abuse, you don’t make it binary and choose the one option that doesn’t include the child. You recognize there might be more to it and still put the child first.

    And if you don’t do that, then you don’t get to whine and boo boo when the child pushes you out. You don’t get to refuse to care about a person’s abuse and also continue to enjoy that person in your life. That’s unreasonable, and, in my opinion, not allowed.

    What about “honor your mother and father?”, some might say. I would offer this. Sometimes honor IS closing the door on a person. Sometimes the best honor we can give a person is to let the person go.

    I know I wouldn’t be able to make better decisions for an aged person who had repeatedly broken my heart this deeply than a neutral third party could make for that person. So, maybe it is actually BEST for this parent to live the projected reality of ending up alone. Maybe that’s her best case scenario.

    Even if it isn’t, though, that isn’t really the point. In many respects, walking away without dislocating HER shoulder and strangling HER shows a great deal of honor, in my book, after this heinous abuse.

    Honor her by putting her in your past so she can’t abuse you anymore, says me. As good as a statue in the city park, with no bird poop, says me.

    • ^^^ Yes, this. We protect and honor ourselves when we go no contact (or establish rock-solid boundaries) with disordered people in our lives, but in a way, we also protect and honor the disordered people. How many of us have found it difficult to stay calm when confronting the mindfuck blender? Many of our cheaters have their own fucked-up origin stories, and I have great empathy for some of them (esp. involving LGBTQ-identity trauma). But of course that doesn’t give them the right to visit their trauma upon others, just as we chumps don’t have the right to pay our trauma forward.

      In many cases, no contact is a kindness to others as well as to ourselves. I know that my STBX – and various other people, including her dad – are incapable, at least for now, of having any substantive conversation with me about the hurt they have caused me. For several months after D-Day #2, STBX clearly felt that I was actively trying to shame, blame, and punish her whenever I tried to talk about my feelings. I’m not making excuses for disordered thinking, but pointing out that I’m sure disordered people find the truth to be terribly uncomfortable, and in many cases it’s probably feels “safer” for them not to have to deal with our chumpy feelings. FMT *can’t* be civil, and shouldn’t expect that she can be, if her own mother chooses not to support her through this trauma.

      • “I’m sure disordered people find the truth to be terribly uncomfortable, and in many cases it’s probably feels “safer” for them not to have to deal with our chumpy feelings. ”

        Well said! I suppose that’s why my FW father is nice to and “gets along with” everyone but me. He doesn’t like my “sharp tone,” which is actually a flat tone to not engage with him, show interest in him, or do anything but exchange facts (i.e, my attempt at grey rock). If I disagree with him he thinks I’m yelling at him. Call him to task on his misdeeds and he’ll shut down. I’m sure it does feel safer to him to not have to deal with my feelings toward him, which are a direct result of his abusive behavior over my lifetime. I suppose he should be “emotionally afraid” of me – not because I will abuse him, but because I will tell the truth which he absolutely positively does not want to hear, admit, engage in, or apologize for.

  • I might be alone here, but my advice is cut your mother out of your life permanently. You said, how can I forgive her? You can’t, and why would you try? You don’t owe this abuser comfort in her elderly years just because she happened to give birth to you. Give yourself permission to let her go. Some day you can choose your own family of good people you’re not related to by blood, whether it be friends or a future romantic partner or both. But for now, ask yourself why you free yourself of abuse from a spouse, but consider staying in an abusive relationship with a parent? You don’t have to. You got dealt a shit card with a parent who cannot parent. You are not obligated to stay in that abusive relationship for the rest of her life. The course of action here is exactly the same: No contact! No contact brings clarity. Good luck to you, stay strong, choose healthy people in your life

  • I haven’t spoken to my mother in 20 years. While praying for me, she would give any abuser a gun, to shoot me. Then acts surprised and hurt that I’m upset. I didn’t realize it until therapist pointed it out when I casually mentioned some of her abuse. She never used violence, just failed to protect me from it, incited it and went along with abuser. You should never have to convince someone they should protect you if they love you. My kids are grown now, not once ever did I allow anyone to abuse them. My daughters ex threatened her. I got in his face told him what I would to him. If I did go to jail, as a tiny older woman? His jewels and a big hunk of skin off his face (with my bite marks) would be in my purse.

    • This. If anyone hurts my child, now or in the future, you can be sure I would be behind bars, because they will not get away with it. The only reason I would be inviting ex to Thanksgiving would be to ensure the cyanide in his turkey leg did it’s job. Noone deserves the kind of double mindfuck that OP is going through. The woman who gave birth to her is toxic, competing with and demeaning her own daughter, and if OP goes into therapy I am sure iterations of this kind of behaviour will pop up that go back a long long way.

  • how was your mom towards you when you were growing up. did she always put other people first or herself first. fuckwits act differently with different people. your husband and mom are similarly alike. a lot of people still think chumps are responsibility for cheaters cheating. people who use porn are afraid of intimacy with real people. your upstairs hes downstairs. for example porn is fake, prostitutes will tell them him what he wants to hear, same as ow. what are his parents like. he sounds screwed up. you should when possible ask her why she sticks up for your husband. but you have to remain calm, do you think she puts other people first. there is no excuse for his behaviour. what was/his mum like.

    • I don’t think you need to know WHY either of them did what they did. They point is, they are the type of person to do these things. Their actions show who they are. They will both continue to be who they are (morally bankrupt and abusive people) if you stay in their lives or not.

      At some point you have to stop running around dodging bullets and just step out of the line of fire.

    • I would not even bother to ask, her mother wouldn’t be able to have any rational insight into her own behaviour and would most likely use the occasion for more gaslighting, blameshifting and mindfuckery. Stay far far away. And I wouldn’t be dating with a looming court case, the opposition may try and use that as proof that you provoked him with unfaithful ways etc and he ‘lost control’ or make you show the court private dating conversations to prove what you were/weren’t doing, but either way it’s another way for them to try and control and demean you. Also don’t be shocked if your mom turns up in court to support him, or is called to witness. She sounds like POS. If she does, I would be prepared to tell the court what you have told us, that she has shared intimate photos with the guy and the other toxic behaviours that she has displayed that show an unhealthy connection between the two. Date and time, download text messages and other written proof with apps and be ready to present in court as evidence. Because I wouldn’t put it past them.

  • Holy crap – Mom, stepdad and STBX deserve the corpse wiggler. But that’s a pricey and unlikely prospect.

    For the sake of your current and future relationships, please bring this marriage to a legal end, jettison your mother and stepfather in celebration, invest in yourself (real therapy) and slow your roll.

    May he go to jail for years.

    As long as you have ANY interaction with your mother and stepdad will lead to your abuser knowing where to find you. Trust that he will do so at his first opportunity, finish the job of killing you, your mother will assist him in disposing of your body and provide him with an alibi. You can do better without any of these abusers in your life.

    Beware of “rescuers” in your personal life too. To be a rescuer means you need a victim. Screw that noise.

    I hope he is convicted and your divorce is granted the same day. Good luck to you.

    • Cupcakes makes a really good point that was not brought up…
      This man tried to kill you. There could be huge safety implications by not taking moms involvement seriously. Through her he will know where to find you.
      In addition to therapy are there resources out there that can help you keep distance from him? Beyond your moms weird motivations and actions – Why else would he choose to continue interacting with your mom other then to know your whereabouts?

      • Relationship Violence Fact: in almost all cases in which the make abuser returned and killed his partner, he had previously put his hands around her throat at some point in their relationship.

        • Yes, strangulation and or pushing/crushing someone against a wall is the number one way the abusers kill victims – intentionally or not. Strangulation and crushing of the neck/chest injuries can develop immediately or even up to a week or so after causing life threatening issues. I am glad that Geode mentioned this and that the abuser/cheater FW in this letter is going to court for this type of abuse.

          I hope that the court is responsive and consequences for his actions are appropriate.

          • A lot of men strangle women to death during sex and then claim “It was an accident; she was into rough play” Thank you Porn. Never mind the women who have a stroke when their airway is blocked.????
            What the hell is happening ?

        • I was going to say this. A prior nonfatal strangulation is HIGHLY predictive of homicide from any cause in the future. I hope this man ends up in prison for a while. He is dangerous.

          • Also, I think other posters may be on to something when they warn to not rock the boat right before trial. If, God forbid, he’s not locked away or if he serves his time and is released and your mom is still in contact with him, going NC with her becomes even more important for your physical well-being. You don’t want any personal info you give to her to be passed on to him.

      • Good thinking…. liars and cheaters and abusers and thieves are master manipulators and it sounds like mom provides some sort of usefulness to STBX. Watch out for yourself, OP, and be on alert. If he is a psychopath then this is just a game to him and he can fool many people. Violence comes easily and if he does not go to prison then he may continue to target and harass you, possibly with your mother’s help.

  • My mom and our writer’s mom are sisters
    Guess who I married? Someone who was. not protective of me. Or his own daughter. (Surprise).

    I ended my relationship with my mother around 2003. I don’t miss her. I don’t
    miss being mindfucked. I also realized after my mirage (marriage) ended that I had married my mother. Same emotional blueprint. I also don’t miss the XH, Mindfucker 2.0.

    I have had two awesome therapists in my life since 1985. Women. They are awesome. I think of them both like my adopted moms. One was my therapist from 1985 until she moved away. She is still in my life and we talk every week. I have been an official client of #2 since 2006. Your situation sounds like a job for Super Therapist. Start interviewing. Hold out for genius. So I have an awesome woman therapist on each arm walking me
    through the infidelity shit show. Like those film clips of physical therapists helping people with TBI’s learning to walk again.

    One morning I had a vision in meditation. I was a passenger on the Titanic. It had sunk. I was in the freezing water trying to get into a lifeboat. My mother was trying to pull me out. That was all the courage I needed to tell her she needed help and that she could no longer be a part of my life. I realized I would never heal if I did not stay away from her.

    So being left by a cheater is actually nothing new.

    And it’s a GIFT.

    I’d suggest not dating for quite a while…..

  • This is horrible. Just horrible.

    Your ex is an abusive monster.

    Your mom is worse.

    If anyone hurts my babies, I would want to destroy them, not be buddies. My kids win over anyone. If my best friend hurt my kids, bye bye best friend. I would be willing to walk away from anyone for my kids.

    What your mom has done is exceptionally toxic and unforgivable. There is no excuse for that. None. You can’t repair the relationship because there is no relationship. She doesn’t care about you, and you can’t change that. She is only going to get worse as she gets older. Go no contact now, save yourself. Find a therapist who supports you 110%.

    There are a bunch of YouTube videos about narcissist parents. Go watch them for hours. I’m so sorry you are going through this.

  • FMT–So much here! I am so sorry that you have had to deal with any of it!

    I think that Chump Lady has given great advice, and you’ve heard from others who’ve had to deal with toxic parents.

    I’ll look at the two things that stand out to me. First, your mom’s behavior is a sign of significant dysfunction. She took sides against you at least twice in your marriages. This looks emotionally abusive to me, but I am not a therapist. I would strongly recommend that you find a really good therapist who can work with you on the issues stemming from your mother’s rejection of you. I agree with CL–your mom isn’t modeling normal. Some people are so toxic that the only real thing to do is to detach with kindness. A therapist can work with you on this because it involves a lot of unpacking of your own emotions.

    Second, this is the second abuser you’ve married. This is a big red flag. Before you start dating again, work with a therapist. You’ve established a pattern of being attracted to men who will abuse you. A good therapist will help you start to set boundaries and maintain them. Take time off from the dating scene. It will be there in a few months, and it’ll be better once the pandemic is behind us.

    One of my best friends was the child of an alcoholic father. When she was at university, she discovered Al-Anon and was completely surprised to find that so many of her attitudes and relationship behaviors were common to children of alcoholics. Finally seeing these helped her learn to recognize the difference between dysfunction, which had felt “normal” and what was actually normal.

    This is what you would get out of therapy: recognizing that you probably aren’t a good judge of a normal, healthy relationship at this time, and that you can learn what a healthy relationship looks like and know that it’s okay to break off a relationship once the other person transgresses your boundaries.

    Good luck!

  • Sometimes we fell for our exes, because we dealt with similar dynamics at home growing up. If you never witness respect how would you know what it feels like?
    I do family and friends defend my ex. Loudly assuming that it was my fault that I cheated, of the fault of alcohol. Never his.

    It helps to let go of toxic family dynamics as well, it is hard, but sometimes the only solution to change ones life.

  • I was discarded. Less than 15-year marriage to a controlling withholder. Drawn-out divorce despite the discard.
    Moved back home, another country/continent. Lost all I had worked for. Even the investment in a degree.
    In the meanwhile I started learning.
    And I learned my story.
    My mother with her neediness had almost destroyed my sister. Sister almost lost her will to live.
    I understood parents were cluster b’s, as the language goes.
    Father cheater codependent covert narcissist, mother codependent covert narc/borderline.
    Sister lost child. I, scapegoat.
    No golden child. Why? Golden child was everyone out there.
    We were being killed, killed, and killed. Only we did not know.
    The father’s other life, the control unit.
    They covertly destroyed any avenue of financial independence for me and my sister.
    We were sadistically treated by both father and mother, affair partner-in control, cum earlier partner of hers who played pimp and gathered resources, and all those who rejoiced in such a lovely situation, where they could pour out their shadow side onto us with impunity. And there were many.
    We ended up very, very isolated. Almost vanished.
    The father died.
    Then, when I married I thought I had found a safe harbour, at last. And that from there I could help my sister as well. And I was not yet aware of what my story was.
    I came home and live with my mother and sister because I would not accept that a person’s life (sister’s) should be offered up in sacrifice to such abuse. Sister is out of the fog now. But was left with no resources. And was not given an avenue to make a living. Beaten, beaten, beaten, emotionally. Mother plays victim, and oh so caring, she poor thing, with her meager pension. Sister and her just getting by. The mother got a caretaker for life, without having to pay her.
    In truth, it turns out, mother was horribly sadistically abused herself, by mother and father. And father, yes, father’s mother was a very abusive woman.
    The never-ending chain of betrayed children, as I call it.
    As for the ex-husband, he just took very much advantage of a very difficult life situation. Used it for the time it was favourable to him, and then, having found replacement, discarded me. In truth, he as well is one of those betrayed children. Some go on to reproduce the abuse, some don’t.
    In my family of origin, there is a pattern by which those who were not abusive (a few) died kind of early. I miss them.

    • I should clarify, both my mother and father were scapegoats (covertly scapegoated) in their own families. Rewarded with approval for taking care of parents in some capacity, and covertly insulted and humiliated so that their own mothers and one father could unload their darkness and feel better about themselves (projection). The golden children receive the projection of the good, and the resources. Black and white split. And the children are triangulated against one another. These families are upside-down. Children take care of parents. These children then seek approval from people outside (often flatterers, exploiters) because they have not received love and care at home, even at the cost of sacrificing their own children, who are disapproved of and filled, in turn, with all the bad feelings, in favour of outsiders who are put on a pedestal. These children still, in turn, are expected to take care of the parents in some capacity despite having received a bad treatment. Really a nasty and vicious cycle. Triangulation and splitting on and on.

    • For clarity’s sake, I am not minimizing what my ex did. To the contrary, to exploit a very difficult life situation to have much advantage in the relationship is particularly hideous.
      My not being aware at the time of the abuse I had undergone in my FOO made me perfect prey.

      • I can relate. I am slowly learning how my FOO primed me for my issues in school (bullied), university (toxic thesis promoter), work (burn out twice) and couple. It is destabilising to say the least. How can we learn Normal and (self)Respect). I am at despair stage. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you/we recover. Lots of hugs

        • Alas rainy again,
          Thanks for your note. Please be very kind to yourself. And keep going being very kind to yourself.
          Lots of hugs.

          • FP, It’s true, the cycle of abuse runs deep down the generations. In our family, the whispers were that my Mom was actually the daughter of her oldest sister. I asked Mom about it once, she said it didn’t matter and she didn’t want to talk about it. So, she had already heard herself. In my Dad’s family, he was supposed to rule the world, and he didn’t. He was criticized and unloved. Maybe knowing their stories made it easier to love them without needing their love. My Dad loved me, but mostly only after they divorced. I guess he needed me. Being needed is another button of mine. I hope you are finding support here and elsewhere. We’re raising ourselves. Good luck to you.

  • I have this mother as well. I couldn’t let her go until she started messing with my daughters. Going NC meant I let go of my sisters, spineless father and whatever extended family I have left. It’s worth it! She can continue to be buddies with my Cheater X as long as she wants. The advice people post here is truly wise. Please consider it.

    • Thank you for sharing. I am in a similar situation and I was hesitating to cut my kids relationship with their grandparents. You are mighty! This is inspiring and reassuring to read ????

  • FMT:

    My mom is a mess, too. She had a horrible childhood (in an orphanage) and married a physically abusive man. She had complex PTSD and no tools for parenting, so we never bonded. Our relationship has always been difficult – she tends to either parentify or betray me. She sided with my father when he beat me but expected me to soothe her when she was his victim. Cue the fuckwit I married. She hates my ex now, but she always sided with him during our marriage. Kibbles from a man are tastier!

    Anyway, going NC with a parent as an only child is a difficult and lonely thing to do. I’m an only child, and I tried it for a couple of years while I went to therapy. Through that therapy, I also learned how to adjust my relationship with her. My mother’s a broken person who was emotionally incapable of bonding with or caring for a child. Does that suck for me? You bet it does. Are there injuries that still hurt when poked? Yep.

    The difference is that I now understand what I’m dealing with and expect that she will likely disappoint me. But I’m also honest with her and, if she goes too far, I draw the line by telling her that her behavior is unacceptable and/or leaving. She’s learned to apologize to me as a result. She’s also learned that I’m always going to call her out, so she needs to watch herself if she wants my company. It’s certainly no Hallmark mother-daughter relationship, but we can get together now and actually have fun.

    My guess is that your mom is a lot like mine. She’ll side with someone else over you most of the time (triangulation) and get lots of tasty kibbles for doing so, not unlike your stbx. It’s a true manipulationship. Welcome to Narcs Are Us!

    If I were in your position, I’d let her know what I think and feel about her behavior (no need to be mean, just honest) and then draw a line. What, exactly, that line is depends on what you can accept right now. My sense is that, as soon as your ex finds someone new and/or the trial ends, that manipulationship will go by the wayside anyhow.

    I agree with CL as far as “sex addiction” and masturbation goes. The latter is nice and healthy; the former doesn’t exist but sounds curable, so it feeds the hopium pipe.

    Also, find yourself a good therapist and stay away from the boys while you’re getting to know yourself better.

    I hope this was helpful. Hugs and good luck!

  • I was very naive about how on the drama was going to spread to both sides of the family. I have an elderly aunt who warned me, but I was convinced that it wouldn’t be that way. Of course soon I added separation/divorce to weddings and funerals as the things that families like to fight about.

    His family ignored the documented mental health issues, history of chemical addiction, porn addiction, and sexual abuse of our youngest child. They said that he was misunderstood. They said that our religion had only one path forward for me — reconciliation. All the while he was playing victim and convincing them that I was weak and mentally ill, unable to make good decisions and handle my life apart from him.

    Our college kids remained with me when he took off, and without them, I would have just run away to my elderly aunt and taken care of her. She is leaving the house to me anyway, and I work online.

    But I somehow stayed sane through a divorce unlike any other that my attorney had ever had (40+ years in divorce law), and I got to the other side. My attorney said I’d get a whole chapter if he ever wrote a book. His attorney repeatedly talked about quitting and only stayed in as a favor to mine. I know that all sorts of contrary stories were told to his family. Well, I was there, and I know what happened. I have emails from my attorney, forwarded emails from his attorney to mine, and emails from him to document my story.

    Indeed, “normal” people can’t grasp what we go through. Glad it’s over for me.

  • OMG, Fool Me Twice, this is the worst betrayal story I’ve ever heard. You do not have a mother, you have an ovary-donor. Any person who becomes a parent is given the Prime Directive of parenthood, which is to protect your child. Please go NC with her and your stepfather, and find a therapist with extensive experience in trauma, narcissism and child abuse.

  • Wow….what a heartbreaking example of just how insidious and damaging psychological and emotional abuse is.

    Fooled Twice, your mother didn’t just become like this. She has always been disordered, whatever her specific personality disorder is. Growing up with her, you likely normalized a lot of abuse and don’t realize even now, just how much of it was abuse. This is really quite common. Unfortunately, the never ending damage of that is that toxic connections, toxic relationships is what you will continue to choose for yourself unless you take a serious time out to sort yourself out. Toxic is what is normal and familiar to you.

    As for dating….please just stop. Unless and until you are fully divorced, this can be used against you in so many ways by your abusers and their lawyers. You NEED to detox and learn that you are good standing on your own two feet – no men, no relationships, no dating. The only relationship you need right now is with yourself and sorting out a lifetime of damage from your toxic upbringing. You most likely need to step back from everyone – your mother, community, church (not advocating that you give up your religion, just step away from that church you attend for a bit), friends and just take a complete time out to process some things. I suspect that once you step away from the current influences in your life, things will become much more clear on what’s broken and toxic.

    Think of it like this – when you are sitting in a room full of stale stinky air, you are accustomed to it and don’t even realize how bad it is. Only once you step out into fresh air and sunshine do you suddenly become aware of just how stale and toxic the air in that room is.

  • He’s using your female birth parent as a means to emotionally abuse you. She is a very disturbed woman. Cut then both off. No contact.

  • As some other posters have suggested, your cheater/strangler may have befriended mom to weaponize her against you in the trial, divorce or both. I would be VERY careful to avoid giving either of them any further ammo or justification for claims that YOU lack credibility. Cheater/strangler may be planning to use your mom as a character witness for himself, or to discredit you. I would not give her a heads up that you’re considering cutting her off, or any more info she can record, repeat or distort. Don’t give her the opportunity to damage you further. Work with a therapist, and once the trial and divorce are over, you can decide IF you think there’s anything worth salvaging in a relationship with your mother, who has been aiding and abetting the man who harmed and may have tried to kill you. IMO, you will be far better off being estranged from her.
    I also think it’s far too early for you to be dating for your own health. Consider, too, that others will use it as a reason to claim that what he did to you was no big deal since it appears you were able to recover so quickly. I’m not saying you have recovered, just that it can be perceived that way. Dating, combined with your flippant humor, left ME wondering if you are a chump for real, or an April Fooler a few months early. I’m not saying you are; it’s hard to believe my STBX did what HE did, and I, too, use humor for emotional protection.
    Best of luck.

    • THIS. My mom is a covert borderline, very high functioning and normal-seeming to most people. I waited until the litigation was over, and I had moved away to finally go very low contact to eventual no contact with her. She’s sick and twisted, and unable to genuinely bond with any other person. She has sided with every abusive boyfriend I had as a young woman, and refused to do the normal mom thing for me and have my back as a grown woman.

      OP’s mom is still many orders of magnitude worse than mine. Sounds like quite possibly one of the most overtly psycho abusive mothers I’ve ever heard of in CN.

  • This post underscores my suspicion that cheating is just the less athletic, lower effort, less legally risky form of battering.

    The MO, twisted abuser psychology (explosive form of attachment disorder coupled with personality disorder, coupled with ornate system of rationalization, plus extreme image management) and cycle of abuse (tension-building, explosion, denial/blame/self pity, “honeymoon” stage back to tension-building stage, etc.) are precisely the same. One usually culminates in illicit bonking while the other culminates in violent assault or threats. But being that it’s all on the same pathological continuum, it’s not surprising that A) all batterers cheat; and B ) many formerly “nonviolent” cheaters may become suddenly violent, especially if victims get wise and threaten the abuser’s sense of control.

    The abuser described in this post seems to have had one lucid moment when he alluded to porn use being a kind of punishment. The extreme attachment disorder attributed to batterers theoretically involves such infantile psychic dependency on partners that the abuser will start to view the partner as wielding life and death power over the abuser, triggering a “rebellion” against that entirely projected sense that the partner holds all the cards. It can trigger rage, hatred and punishment towards the partner to the extent that the abuser was raised with toxic shame for feelings of dependency and vulnerability. Punishment comes in many forms– sexual and other forms of betrayal are standard to “break” the imagined “hold” the abuser imagines their victims wield over them. Then violence and intimidation can serve to regain control of the victim. One can lead to the other.

    A subset of abusers will mask this dependency, appearing cold or uninvested on the surface. The latter are statistically the most lethal when they do blow up.

    This is why I’m starting to view the CSAT certification for treating sex addicts as not only a scam but a dangerous form of minimization that is in itself an extension of the batterer mentality. I think it’s made more dangerous that it’s spun under the aegis of “science.”

    Like abusers need any help spinning sad sausage excuses to abuse. That in a nutshell IS the batterer MO. It’s also similar to the disastrous “addiction” theory that misled Carrie Nation– who was actually an anti-domestic violence activist– to campaign for prohibition. That didn’t end well but it’s a common political outcome of a bad scientific theory (i.e., eugenics, etc.). Doctors at the time would blame the demon whiskey for rampant domestic femicide. Carrie Nation and her followers just took the lame apologia seriously.

    I do think that, in 20 years or so, streaming porn– like cigarettes– may be looked back on as a public health scourge. There have been reports of a shocking 1,000% rise in ED and Viagra use among young men between 18 and 30 since Pornhub and other streaming services became available in 2008. But there are also increasing reports from single young women associating male porn use to relationship abuse and sexual violence. Reports of female porn use with abuse of male partners (abuse veiled as kink especially) may be less frequent but still rising in tandem.

    On the surface it might look like addiction is a sort of “gateway” to abuse, an idea that could seem to support the sex addiction theory. But another way to look at it is like the kill training of boy soldiers in the Congo or how violent video games serve as kill training for military drone assassination. In effect, it’s *objectification* and desensitization to aggression that are gateways or even a fast track to abuse and relationship violence.

    The porn industry has an indelible aura of violence around it to the extent that so much of it involves abuse, trafficking, pedophilia and destruction of lives. That’s what comes with every serving of porn whether the viewer understands the nature of the industry and the emotional subtext in the performances or not. Like removing infected prions from cows with mad cow disease, it’s impossible to remove all the violence from the sex industry.

    The same dymamics can’t be applied to misuse of booze or pills so I just don’t believe that “sex addiction” is a legit parallel. The compulsion is something way tf darker.

    • p.s.– Look up “hybristophilia” in regards to the traitorous mom in the scenario. She’s like one of Ted Bundy’s or Chris Watts’ prison groupies– a monster in her own right.

      How horrible to be effectively orphaned on top of and in the wake of surviving extreme violent crime. It’s like surviving a war. Unfortunately this happens to too many abuse survivors– sometimes called the “second injury” of domestic violence where bystanders and even helping professionals and family may subtly or overtly echo the blaming attitiudes of abusers towards victims. This is listed as one of the chief obstacles to recovery from PTSD and has to be acknowledged as a factor in treatment.

      • Ever read the book “Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, And Other Sex Offenders” by Anna C. Salter, Ph.D? Chilling.

          • Great post, Hell of a Chump. Very thought-provoking.

            I do hope you’re right about 20 years from now. I think most porn fuels misogyny.

        • Just added to my reading list, thank you.

          I always wonder, How do you know if someone is a pedophile or rapist or sex offender? They don’t wear labels and in fact are adept at hiding and creating a mask of respectability. Without concrete proof, there is no way of knowing.

          I suppose this is where our intuition comes in. Even if we don’t know for sure, if someone gives you the creeps, believe that feeling versus trying to rationalize it away.
          There is someone in my town who tried to show a very certain side of himself: respectable businessman, entrepreneur, forward-thinker, conservationist, bridge-builder. Yet whenever I saw him I got a sinking feeling and sometimes would shake and absolutely could not look at him or engage with him. Months later he is in the news with numerous felony charges against him for slavery, indentured servitude, strangulation, and like 15 other charges. I *knew* something was wrong with him!

          I try to listen to my gut and it is hard to explain to friends why you don’t like a certain someone or a mutual friend or co-worker or politician or whomever. So I seem like a meanie and aloof person….but I’m okay with it.

          Looking forward to reading that book.

    • Totally agree with you. When I was younger, I didn’t think much about porn one way or the other. As I’ve gotten more mileage and life experience, I think the easy access to porn and what it portrays about sex is indeed becoming a very serious societal issue.

      Sadly, we humans haven’t moved away from monkey see monkey do. The easy access to porn is creating a situation where violence is being normalized and main streamed. Strangling your gf is “erotic” and when enough people watch enough of that, they buy into that and it becomes normal and acceptable……”didn’t kill her, it was a mutually desirable accident”… dismissed…..

    • Hell of a Chump- THIS. Every word you said. This is EXACTLY how he was, and I used to wonder if he was a sociopath because of the complete lack of emotions in our fights, but then I’d question myself because of the love bombing and idealization/crazy dependency stages thrown in the mix in between. I mean, one can’t fake THAT right? Of course he loves me. *facepalm*

      I’m devouring books. Sometimes 2 in one day if I listen on Audible versus physically reading them. Sometimes, I’ll listen and then go read it, or vice versa. I’m ravenous to heal from and understand this, then be able to stay as far away from it as possible. There doesn’t seem to be any on the market that I’ve found that quite covers the maternal aspect of my betrayal, but I will look into what you suggested. Thank you so very, very much.

  • Foolmetwice……… don’t have to cut your mother out completely. But you can distance yourself from her. Don’t call her, don’t chase her. If she calls you be civil if you want. But detach emotionally from this very toxic excuse for a mother. She doesn’t deserve you worrying about her nursing home or care. Did she worry about you? I think you are casting pearls before swine and expected a pearl necklace.

  • After my brother divorced, my mom included his ex in family functions and I naively believed my brother was okay with it. After my divorce, my mom mentioned how difficult it was for my ex and would accept his calls. I became livid re-explaining the abuse several times and finally with a therapist told her that if she mentioned him to me or spoke with him that I would have to hang up and I would be business only with her. After she distanced herself she found out how disordered he is. My mom had misplaced empathy a lot.
    I was discussing this problem with my brother and he quickly let me know he was never ok with his ex at family things. I encouraged him to tell our mom but I think it had been accepted as the norm for years that he wouldn’t/ didn’t. Maybe she thought since they had a kid it was the thing to do. We have two and I was adamant that would never happen. In fact for every gathering I feared he would snap and show up and try to kill me since he knew where I would be on a specific date.
    After our mom died, the gatherings moved to my home and I supported my brother by not inviting his ex. I know my brother was able to really relax and I think my nephew and his family were relieved as well. No ghosts in the room. Honestly, I felt a twinge of guilt myself because she has zero family other than their son and it had been the norm for decades. I felt mom shamed and she wasn’t alive.
    I would add to your life a good therapist, true friends or true supporters within a group, only date yourself to really get to know what you need, enjoy and want from life. Give yourself permission to disconnect from your mom. You can tell her it’s temporary while you sort out things to get healthy or go no contact without an explanation. *Honestly though, as mentioned above, you may have to play “formal nice” with listening without commenting until your trial is over. He could subpoena her if he feels supported by her. Document what she says with date etc. you can’t control them.

  • Fool Me Twice – What a horrific film you must feel you are living in rather than reality. I think you have so much good advice on going no-contract or grey-rock at least with your mom (for awhile or forever). Find yourself a therapist to look at Family of Origin issues around your mom and what you need to feel nurtured… not what your mom can give, which sounds like nothing, but what you can seek out for yourself and be for yourself.

    And I am crossing my fingers that a trial will provide your mom with a bit of a wake-up call that she is not healthy and does not have a friend or reliable person in your STBX, but instead is a tool of his abuse toward you. Hugs.

    • Down, there is nothing that will wake her up. This man tried to kill her daughter and she sides with him? Not only that I am worried she will help him in this trial coming up and throw her daughter under the bus. After this trial is over she needs to cut off from her mother so she can have a chance at life. Her mother will get her killed if she keeps on.

      • I agree that the mother is a dangerous traitor and could act as a bridge for lethal danger to reach the author. Personally I would (and have with some extended family and in-laws) opt for NC. Because triangulating types breed and feed other “triangulators” and victim-blamers, one of the risks is that the mom spreads this toxic nonsense about her daughter throughout the social context and this deputizes more and more people to take the side of the abuser. This increases the risk that other people in the social context could become the entry point for the abuser to reach and do harm to the victim. Going NC is a statement to the social context that the victim does not agree with the views or interpretations of the triangulating party.

  • I can’t even imagine living through this horrid tale. You’ve been surrounded by corrupt, depraved people. You don’t need them. Run don’t walk from this evil.

  • Fooled me twice, she has never asked for your forgiveness so there is nothing to forgive. You don’t know anything but abuse. Right now say nothing until this trial is over. I am very worried he is going to have y our mother testify against you and for him in this trial. She may also come to you to try to drop charges. Please stick this out. He could have killed you and do not minimize what happened. When you say you built back up your relationship with your mother you did not. She would never be doing what she is doing now. You just stuffed it down and accepted it. I guarantee she was and has never shown remorse. It is a hard pill to swallow but she does not love you. I bet she doesn’t even like you. You must subtly start to treat her as the enemy. Please do not tell her any strategy or anything with the divorce or criminal case. I would not be surprised if she is working against you. He will know where you are. Please take this seriously. After this trial is over you must detach from your mother. Honey you don’t have a mother and makes no difference you are an only child. She has never had your back. She is helping to destroy you. She would associate and callabrate with the man who tried to kill you is outrageous. Get thru this trial and the way forward is to cut her completely out of your life. You are not responsible when she gets old and never let anyone guilt you. I agree about the dating with those here. By this post you are still accept and normalize abuse. This is the devil you do know versus the devil you don’t know. Honey get through this trial and get into therapy. Go through them until you find one to help you get away from your mother. Anyone tries at all to turn this on you to accept and on and this and that you be done with them. You don’t have a mother. She just gave birth to you.

  • I agree with going No-contact with your mother, and any other abusers in your family, at least until you sort yourself out emotionally (and maybe forever with the extent of dysfunction that your mother is showing without any efforts to get help for her own emotional instability).

    I too have a Narc mother, and her betrayal of me is a bigger wound than my serial cheater STBX.

    Mothers have a special shield like a Presidential pardon, which is perhaps necessary most of the time to raise kids and not lose your mind. But those with disorders use that shield for justification, and they are power tripping – using children (and continuing on to their adult child) at their expense for the purpose of making themselves feel better. Leaving the child/adult feeling worthless (because their self esteem is built upon diminishing others).

    You may have some sympathy about being cheated on, but if you have an unloving/rejecting/corrupt mother, there is no sympathy. No validation, and likely you will be shunned for bringing up anything of that nature. It is pure INVALIDATION and gaslighting of the highest order – your reality doesn’t exist. That screws people up. I feel extreme rage towards my mother as I am in the process of grief for that relationship…in the midst of separating from my cheater. She is doing the exact same thing, siding with the cheater as he is able to meet her needs for control of my children. It feels like being ganged up on. Just because the two of them are against you doesn’t invalidate your hurt. You are entitled to be hurt, and entitled to heal yourself without catering to their needy desires. Draw your boundaries like a fortress. It feels extremely uncomfortable for a co-dependent who has been a child, now adult, raised to doubt themselves.

    It is a hard journey to go No Contact with a parent (100x harder than doing NC with the cheater) But you have to do it if you really want to be free of the drama and recover from the trauma – with the help of a good therapist who can guide you back from your survival mode where you appease people in order to try to earn their love and security. Finding that within yourself will be necessary in order to avoid choosing another dysfunctional relationship. Put yourself first.

  • My cheaters mom had a long history of cheating on her husbands. Her motto to her 3 kids was “if you are unhappy, do what ever feels good to make you happy.” So when times got tough, guess who showed up to assist with the happy? Mom started inviting an ex boyfriend over to her house for dinner with daughter. Dinner turned into sleep overs! Did not matter this ex, had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and physical abuse. Interesting what some mothers will do! Fun part is when I found out, it was just sleep no sex! They both turned out to be trash and liars!

  • 13 other women! I hope you ran to the OBGYN for screening, our your local county STD testing center (which may be actually cheaper, with or without insurance). Ask for a full panel of tests including HVS herpes 1 & 2. Some of this is asymptomatic so find out for sure he didn’t give you any surprises. The information may also come in handy for your divorce lawyers. Please make sure someone other than yourself has the back up proof of the infidelities and pictures you took. He has threatened ypur life if he thinks he could get away with it he could do it again (especially if he could make you and the proof disappear also). I watch too many crime shows, just cover all possibilities. Good luck at trial. You have this. Protect yourself from disappointing people in your life. They have not earned the right to have you in their life right now. Yes to counselor to help you with boundaries.

  • 13 other women! I hope you ran to the OBGYN for screening, or your local county STD testing center (which may be actually cheaper, with or without insurance). Ask for a full panel of tests including HVS herpes 1 & 2. Some of this is asymptomatic so find out for sure he didn’t give you any surprises. The information may also come in handy for your divorce lawyers. Please make sure someone other than yourself has the back up proof of the infidelities and pictures you took. He has threatened your life if he thinks he could get away with it he could do it again (especially if he could make you and the proof disappear also). I watch too many crime shows, just cover all possibilities. Good luck at trial. You have this. Protect yourself from disappointing people in your life. They have not earned the right to have you in their life right now. Yes to a counselor to help you with boundaries.

    • That was the first thing I did. All was good in that area, thankfully. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  • Someone here made a good point. When you go to court for the criminal case be sure to bring and have ready all the proof and a written affidavit if what your described your mother has done with him and the pictures and all. Please have it all copied and be ready. I would not be surprised if your mother goes to testify for him and blame you and lie. I think it is a very real possibility. Please don’t be in denial and think she won’t. Put nothing past her. Be ready. Again, say nothing to her or discuss these cases. You can’t trust her. Please be careful.

  • The account of the mother’s behavior legitimately took my breath away and I couldn’t even finish reading.
    I don’t know what to say here. Just praying for lots of healing. This is out of the ballpark!

  • I am twice a chump because being raised in a house with a serial cheater and a professional chump, abuse feels very normal to me.

    #1 financially abused me, hit me and our only son, cursed and insulted me, isolated me and of course, cheated on me from the get go. Going through marriage counseling I saw how unhealthy it all was. Divorced his sorry behind.

    #2 Normal guy, happy family. Things were blissful, I’ve never been so happy. Until he started to show the typical signs that were so normal to me. I knew the fairy tale was over. HE CHEATED with his howorker for 3 years..I am crushed.

    I dont talk toy father, mother and father divorced some years ago. My mom sided with #1 because cheating was acceptable to her. I stopped talking to her for 7 years because of it. After I told her of #2 cheating, she refused to believe it and accused my friends of making things up. I stopped talking to her for a year and a half. I just started to talk to her again because she is my only family and I need support now.

    Would you please momma listen to me? Would you please not make it about you, or minimize what is happening to me?

    • Nope. She will not. Past actions are usually a good predictor of future action. Unfortunately you can’t change her. I tried with mine. It has been a waste of time and energy I should have kept for myself. What we can do is to adapt our expectations to that reality. Lots of hugs ????

  • Yuck. These people are all assholes. A pack of assholes. Difficult as it may be, disengage from every last one of them.

    Maybe there’s a place for your mom in your life down the road…but it sounds like it needs to be pretty minimal.

  • Dear FoolMeTwice,

    This question about your mother is central to your healing, your happiness, your future. The question of forgiveness, if that even happens is secondary to understanding how your mother’s monstrous behaviors have damaged you. You ended up with two very abusive husbands because being abused in your default, and on top of that you have a layer of Christian upbringing that creates dissonance for you. Love your parents. Marriage is forever. So you try and try and try with these people who don’t care what happened to you.

    You don’t have to know YET what to do about your mother. I had one myself, although she wasn’t nearly as bad as yours (and a counselor once called mine “like Hitler.”) But even entertaining what to do about this woman who is ACTIVELY ABUSING YOU RIGHT NOW is a sign you are not yet able to act in your own self interest–and that will be absolutely required if you are to have any relationship with her at all. You do not need to forgive her. You have to understand that you were abused and it will help if you have some sense of the many ways that happened. And then you need to get busy healing from that abuse, almost certainly easier if you have a therapist who understands what happened to you.

    The biggest step for me was getting into my gut and my heart (and not just my brain) that I was never, ever going to have the love and care I needed as a child. The damage done from that lack led me into bad relationship throughout my adult years until I finally got it–I don’t need my mother or for that matter, my father now. I’m an adult. I’m not a small, dependent helpless child. I do not have to try to fill that terrible void from my childhood. For a long time, that hunger for love and approval and comfort led me into one bad relationship after another–and the sad part of that was that I wasn’t really looking for the love that adults can have, as I understand that now (equality, reciprocity, give-and-take). I was in an adult body but looking to fill a child’s emotional needs. What I learned is that I could name those needs and learn to recognize them when they come up, as they still do from time to time. But I don’t expect other adults to fill those needs. I do what a Gestalt therapist taught me–I talk to that little girl and find out what she needs and then tell her she’s loved, she’s safe, I’ve got her. Then I can get back into my adult.

    None of this might resonate with you. I tell you this story so you will understand that you do not need to forgive your mother. She’s not sorry. You can’t forgive her until she changes, which almost certainly won’t happen. So forgiveness is not a question right now, is it? She’s not sorry. What you need to do NOW is turn to the little girl and the teenager and the young adult and the battered wife that she abused emotionally. You need to stay away from her until you are free of your STBX and you’ve had some therapy with an expert in adults processing childhood abuse. That doesn’t mean you need to be years at this job. You don’t have to dig up and talk about every time your mother raised her voice or preferred your BF to you. You don’t have to unpack years of bad memories. What you need is to know how you were hurt and how to heal with that.

    For now, please consider cutting contact with your mother and anyone else dealing with her XH until the legal processes are over, including divorce, and for as long as she stays in close contact with your X. Sometimes it’s sad, but blood relatives can be our enemies. And rather than spackle her terrible behavior (e.g., she had “daddy issues”) recognize that no one, especially not your mother, has the right to abuse you emotionally or physically.

    • So many of these posts from CN have been so very helpful and healing, but yours might resonate with me the very most. Thank you for these kind words. Admittedly, I’m the queen of glossing over and spackle, (and hopium too). I’m going to really dig into this with the therapist and get to the bottom of that because it makes so much sense to me. (Then add in the approval seeking and performance for love and that approval…. oi vey.) I have been on a huge, DEEP journey of understanding for so many years now that it’s almost embarrassing that I haven’t explored this specific path. You don’t know what you don’t know, I suppose.

  • There’s such a disconnect between the horror of what happened and the OP’s tone. My ex did a lot of horrible things during our marriage. Every time I got through it, after the “I’ll never do it again, I’m sorry” me smoking hopium and spackling like crazy, it would fade into the background. Then when something else happened, more outrageous than the last thing, I’d get through it, spackle and smoke hopium. You become so inured to the horrible treatment that you get numb. Your way of dealing with it is grim humor (blah blah blah) and a misplaced pride in your mightiness for surviving the crazy yet again.

    My divorce was final last March. Ex died of an overdose 7 weeks afterwards, and I’m still unpacking my feelings and healing from the abusive behavior. It’s like I’m finally coming out of a fog and realizing just how NOT normal my life with him was. I was numb for so long.

    Don’t date until you take care of yourself because a new guy and a new situation are really only spackle to avoid unpacking the trauma.

  • Oh, CL and my sweet, fellow Chumps,

    Thank you, CL and thank you to all of you for your encouraging words. I do want to say, I’m actually a year out of this currently, despite the court system moving slower than molasses on a witch’s frigid, brass ass… or however that saying goes. *wink* I was waiting on a verdict but am now in the process of annulment; hopefully, that moves more quickly than justice from his criminal endeavors have.

    While I don’t disagree that I’m certainly not healed and have a helluva long way to go, the raw, painful parts of the whole shit show really revolve around my barbed wire monkey of a mother. I have to believe that deep down, I knew this was in his soul even though I tried to convince myself otherwise. I’m writing my second book to include this mess, (my first book is in cover design with my publisher,) and have had the opportunity to dissect Every. Single. Stupid. Choice of mine with a microscope set to the nine zillionth power in order to not only learn and heal from past stupidity, (mine and others) but to really glean everything I can from things and make better, or at least wiser and more prudent choices in the future. Maybe even to better understand why others make their choices… if one could ever understand said bats in some people’s heads. I had the pleasure of doing this for the simple task of helping my readers understand things and be encouraged. It was like a karmic lesson from God forcing me to unbury “glossed over” shit. I will have that pleasure dissecting this madness as well, but I’m confident there will be a Tuesday somewhere at some point.

    Do forgive me for glossing over the atrocity of this entire thing; I have a vile loathing for anyone perceiving me as a victim. Or worse, thinking that I’m trying to paint myself as a victim. I was the victim to an incredibly horrific thing and five years of horrific emotional abuse that turned into physical abuse, yes. (We’ll leave the emotional abuse from my childhood that nicely set me up for this, out for the moment being.) I don’t even like calling my Victim’s Advocate at the DA’s office a “Victim’s Advocate,” as silly as that sounds. No. I’m a fighter. I’m indomitable. I jump out of airplanes and road race a 205-horsepower motorcycle with men in the “fast” classes. I’ve had my spine (and most of my body) shattered into pieces from said racing and half of my body is already metal. Victim? Ugh, gross. Just saying that makes me feel weak. So, I’m careful to breeze over said atrocity as if to pronounce and claim from the rooftops that “this too shall pass” and I will phoenix my broken ass right out of this fuckery. I’m incredibly tough too, but permanent injuries at the hand of the person that is supposed to love and protect you above all others feel so much worse than when happenstance happens and you crash a motorcycle that you willingly threw your leg over on your own accord. And heart stuff is far, far worse than even metal spine stuff… especially when one’s own mother is involved.

    CL… you don’t disappoint and hit some nails squarely on their heads. (I wish you and Karma would take a few swings elsewhere too, to be honest.) While I probably shouldn’t have been trusted to choose my own socks for quite a while, I do feel better about at least some things now and a year has taught me a lot. We’ll see how my 180-degree choices go; I may be making omelets on my face later.

    Sex addiction is a real thing, I’ve learned, and IMHO, a heroin addiction might do less damage, especially in an Evangelical household. Your take on this is not wrong, however. I suppose I was trying to do my sweet Christian part in the reconciliation dance of sorts and looking for some semblance of support from the betrayal of it all. I found that there briefly, but then got too disgusted in the whole thing and “why on God’s green earth are y’all staying in this crap?!” took over. I quickly bowed out after everything escalated to violence and at least now can walk very tall knowing I did my due diligence in trying to repair things, if only briefly. My pastor and Mommy Dearest would be so proud. I read my Bible daily and still have my very strong faith (even with my potty mouth) but I’ve also stepped away from my home church for a bit too, for that clean air that one poster suggested. It’s been lonely, but refreshing.

    I love what you say about Mama Bears. This is exactly what I struggle with, STILL struggle with, and why I wrote to you after reading your book. I’ve been more-or-less NC with my mother for quite some time with a few little exceptions to see if we could just be lighthearted and talk about anything OTHER than the Pornhub Strangling Elephant stomping around the room. We can’t really. And because we are still mid-court-bullshit, when something comes up and I calmly ask her a question, I’m met with more fuckery and betrayal. *Aghast* “I’m so sick of this crap!!” for example, in a response to me asking if Fuckwit was at her house recently (despite restraining orders restraining him from her house) when I was sent an intentionally distorted photo of said Fuck IN HER KITCHEN with her arm around him from the porn monitoring software company that monitors FW’s phone and computer. (Oh yes, more of that “reconciliation” type insanity. This cesspool is deep.) Pretty simple question, “Was [FW] at your house recently?” *shows photo and explains* *gasping and “how dare you” type responses ensue.
    I don’t think she and I can ever be repaired. My father died six and a half years ago, so she, my stepfather, and my 92-year-old grandfather (that lives with them) are the only real family I have. My don’t-orphan-me-behavior has set some piss-poor precedents that have enabled her fuckery and I have unintentionally been dancing the Pick Me Dance for many years; honestly, long before I lost my dad. I have even become a gourmet chef of Kibble. It’s a wonder my clothes still fit.

    I suppose I needed a bit of unbiased validation in my inevitable choice to truly walk away from her and go NC for good. I don’t think anything will change at this point in the trial regarding her and what is set in motion will happen, and I absolutely expect her to be there, like she was for him in the RO hearing. (The trial has been postponed, yet again, and now is set for April. *sigh* I will keep you posted of verdict and sentencing; hopefully, we will be clinking martini glasses online and not dreadfully disappointed further at the justice system.) I’m not sure, really, why I needed validation to make this choice other than it is a really, really hard choice to come to terms with. I’m so fiercely loyal to my loved ones and could never in a million years imagine making the choices she has made and hurting my children the way that she has me. So, it helps that you and your followers cheer me on in my escape from toxicity and remind me that I can still love her from an extremely far-away place than where I am now.

    For that, I am profoundly grateful, CL. Now, to don this damn bear suit and start protecting my own ass from domestic terrorists, I suppose. Big hugs to you back.

    • Thanks for letting us know. It was hard not to worry for you. You’re capable and all, but that is some deep dark side around you. I’ll cheer your escape. ( It is fun to hear your jokes too. )

      I wonder if you are like I was 10 years ago, proud of my toughness & how I could see humor in anything. Eventually I realize that pride, accomplishment, toughness, and humor covered up a lack of self love. Good luck.

      • Thank you so much for your kind words and care. And it’s totally a pride thing! You’re spot on, honestly. But how does that relate to self love? A lack of vulnerability that prevents one to admit when one is hurt? How old were you when you discovered this and how did you discover this correlation, I suppose is what I’m really curious about.

        Thank you so much again. 🙂

        • >>A lack of vulnerability that prevents one to admit when one is hurt?

          Bullseye. That sentence reveals more than you think, “lack of vulnerability”. You don’t lack vulnerability. Not admitting vulnerability isn’t the same as mastering it. Some dangerous narcs smell that pride-hidden vulnerability like a shark smells blood. We’re not really fooling anyone when we hide it. Just ourselves. We’ve just confused our tough game-face with our real authentic self.

          I guess I discovered “self love” when I was surprised to discovered that I loved my vulnerability and wasn’t ashamed of it anymore. It’s what I share with my deepest, closest friends & husband, like they share theirs with me. It is so exhilarating to share that part of ourselves with the eyes of love/friendship, and feel that deep connection/appreciation. There’s a good scene about this in the movie “Good Will Hunting”, our weird embarrassments are the “good stuff”.

          If I could go back to my past self, I wish I could give it that message, and not take pride in “outsmarting” my vulnerability. Unfortunately I was near the age of 50 when I started to figure this out.

          Narc parents are particularly terrible at teaching this or any self-love or self-care. Abuse isn’t so much the punches & insults as setting our self-worth thermostat to zero. Narc parents treat our vulnerability with contempt, which makes us bad friend material for someone who understands that vulnerability is precious, only for those who appreciate it, like our hearts.

          “Vulnerability” might not be the word, so I’ll explain with an example from my life. With my evil Ex, there was a crossroads moment. I knew something was off with him, but I didn’t understand, and I was in a fog of fear, obligation, and guilt. A friend from bible study dropped hints. In hindsight, I see she would have been more than happy to help. Even then, I knew I needed to insulate myself from him. I wanted to live in some home with other Christians for a semester or two. I needed perspective, a new environment, and chances to build new friendships, no major inconvenience. But I was used to being shamed for asking help in my FOO. I was proud of handling things myself. Anyway I missed that chance for help. Plus rather than “handling it”, I got handled instead. Decades later I realized that helping each other through our mistakes is how the deepest most satisfying friendships are built. I regret missing my chance to have built a great friendship, not to mention sparing myself 5 years of toxic exposure to an evil manipulative jerk. One of the best protections from abuse is knowing what real love or friendship is.

        • FMT – You ask good questions about something which I’ve also found inadequately answered. All the corny stuff about love making us whole is true, because it transforms our “vulnerability” from a minus into a life creating plus. Anxiety is transformed into joy when you realize your vulnerability is about protecting something precious, not managing something shameful.

          I remember how I could never understand this, and scoffed. And that was why I couldn’t understand “normals”, who I later I realized thought that I’d rejected them, their friendship, & vulnerabilities.

          I’ll end this by quoting Joseph Campbell. I still don’t understand what he said here, but it’s close, about how pride-hidden scary-illusions fade into wholeness.
          >>>“Atonement (at-one-ment) consists in no more than the abandonment of that self-generated double monster—the dragon thought to be God (superego) and the dragon thought to be Sin (repressed id). This this requires an abandonment of the attachment to ego itself…”

  • Dear Fool Me Twice,
    It is a constant and continuing loss to grow up without a loving and supportive parent. My own mother was loving and supportive but she died when I was in my late teens, and my father was habitually abusive and neglectful and sabotaging my whole life. So emotionally I felt orphaned as soon as she died. But several women my mother’s age, long-time family friends and also aunts on the emotionally stable side of the family, were open to my reaching out for the motherly support and advice I needed in order to get through the changes of life. One of these women actually introduces me as her honorary daughter, and I think of her as my “mother of the heart”. I truly believe that biology is not everything when it comes to getting the parenting that you need–there are wise loving older women who need a daughter like you as much as you need them! Bonding with (or cultivating) some wise, loving older women in your larger social network, might be a real option for you, too, and you sound like you would be an amazing “daughter of the heart” for some one. Wishing you a much better 2021!

  • Dear Chump Lady,
    I’ve heard you discuss this lady healing, why didn’t you recommend therapy? Or did I miss a recommendation somewhere? It has been very helpful for me and for many others. Seems to me that techniques such as EMDR may be the only way for this lady to move past this trauma. If you are concerned that a therapist would want her to return to her ex husband no licensed therapist I know would insist on that. Sarah

    • She did recommend it, I believe, and I have been. No professional I’ve dealt with thus far- the police, my advocate at the DA, (or anyone at the DA’s office) health care providers, NO ONE has recommended me to return to him with the exception of my mother and all of his friends. (My friends, of course, don’t either.) The therapist has not either and would probably be the last to!

  • There is an old dateline or one of those shows that’s about a monster mother like this. A sociopathic policeman married her daughter and they had a child. He constantly ran around on her. Finally he began dating another cop who got tired of waiting and told him it was her or his wife. So he shot his wife and said it was suicide. His mother-in-law sided with him. After all he was so charming and he lived in the house with her and his child and his wife so he must be a good person. She never wavered in her support of him all the way through the trial. It took a while so in the meantime he had found another woman and she was also living with his mother-in-law. After he went to prison the mother the new wife and the child all still live together. The mother is a monster.

  • It may be impossible to have an accurate count, due to low or non-reporting, but I once read that one out of every three girls had been sexually molested or raped. I don’t know if that applies to boys or not. Anyway, if that is true, think about what that says about the world in general. What are your chances of being safe in a world where one-third of the population has been abused, and there have been no consequences for the abuser? How are your children going to be safe?

    Parts of my FOO were into evangelical Christianity. Some of them appeared to be kind and normal people, at least they never harmed me. Some of them were monsters, of the “wives submit to your husband” variety. If someone quotes scripture, but only the parts that are taken out of context and endorse subjugation of others, my bet is that they don’t understand the fundamental concepts of any religion. I am not anti-religion, but I am anti-fanatic. You cannot reason with a fanatic, and should not waste your time trying.

    I worked for a couple of Christian colleges, and I also worked in the public sector. There were liars, cheats, hypocrites, and snakes in suits in all of the institutions. You cannot trust someone because they have a title. Your parents may be biologically responsible for your existence, but that does not make them good parents.

    My barbed wire monkey is my father. He is 89 now, and sick. I learned (finally) that he was never going to change, or be sorry. So I keep him at a distance, boundaries enforced for my welfare. I cannot abide people who say , “But he’s your father.” Go live with him awhile, then talk to me. He’s toxic.

    I tried to understand porn addiction and tried to forgive cheating husbands too. There is nothing to understand, nothing to justify these behaviors. All you can do is save yourself. That is your only job. If you have children, you cannot help them if you don’t help yourself, and you cannot save them either. They have to decide to be independent and save themselves. You can assist, only if you are strong enough to save yourself. I have seen some children who are barbed wire monkeys to their parent(s).

    Chumps are always shocked to find the truth about the world they live in. Somewhere in our psychic make-up we put on blinders, until one day the dissonance in our lives caused the blinders to fall off. We don’t want the world to be what it is, or our beloved to be who they really are, but once the blinders are off you can not help but see clearly. Your true family is the tribe of people with values and beliefs similar to yours. Biological connections are no guarantee. Look at Chump Nation — we are diverse in many ways, but we all learned to leave an abuser and gain a life. That is our central unifying belief, and I think each of us would say it saved our life.

  • FMT – If you’d like a biblical take on abuse, I recommend Jeff Crippen’s “Unholy Charade” blog. A lot of what scripture describes as “evil” translates to abuse. Evil = Abuse.

    • I think I read that quote by Campbell 4 times. Lol! You really have me thinking about all that, and I will read Crippen’s blog. Thank you! (FWIW, I’m pretty attached to that damn ego, but only when no one is looking. Ego is horribly unchristian though and I need to work on that.)

  • I am so very sorry for what your mom is doing. It is as painful as your husband’s betrayal, if not more so. My mother is exactly as you describe your mom. Mom is elderly, but still the narcissist she always was, the Queen of the Pick Me Dance.

    I have spoken to her over the phone twice since Covid began; both times she informed me she was going to do whatever she wanted, go wherever she wanted, see whoever she wanted, Covid be damned. Before last year, every single conversation with her was about how I utterly failed to live up to her expectations (I a a self-supporting professional, who put herself through school and put 4 kids through college on my own!) Our lifelong estrangement is now complete.

    My daughter was concerned how painful it would be for me if mom passes away without reconciliation. I told her it would be no more painful than the years of living with the knowledge that my mom does not love me (ouch!). For you, nothing can hurt more than the awareness that your parent cares more about a violent cheater than her own daughter.

    So yes, my mom will have to find someone else to take care of her in her old age, and yours may have to do the same. I wish you peace with your decision. I have made peace with mine.

  • Something in this letter turned on sirens in my head.
    How does it fit the “religious” parental style with the fact that the mother befriends someone with a porn addiction and assault on his resume?
    It’s clear to me that the religious thing was a mask, a means to instil guilt in a child. A means to manipulate.

    Fool Me Twice needs therapy, to heal all those wounds inflicted by her mother.

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