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Don’t Send It, Three Reasons Why

maintain your dignity

Psssst! I have a little secret to lay on you…. People are not interested in your messy divorce.

Okay, maybe your parents and closest friend. Certainly it sucks for your children. But the rest of humanity? I’m sorry. They do not care for the particulars.

I know how unjust this is, especially if you’ve been cheated on. It’s shattering. The horror of being played for a fool is enough to put anyone out of their right mind. But I’m telling you, chump-to-chump, maintain your dignity.

I’m not saying shut up. Please understand I want you to speak your truth.  If anyone asks, sing like a bird. “I found 14 Craigslist hook-ups. We’re divorced.” Or “I didn’t like her boyfriend.” Or “The Ashley Madison accounts really didn’t jive with my idea of marriage.” By all means, speak up. It’s not your job to be your ex’s PR agency and polish their image. What they did was shameful and it’s not your shame to wear. It’s theirs. But there is a difference between matter-of-fact succinctness… and emotionally vomiting all over a stranger’s shoes.

What I’m saying is — don’t send a three-page, single-spaced narrative with footnotes and apocrypha to their employer. Don’t do a social media blast of their sexts. Don’t post the naughty bits you found on their secret cell phone on Facebook and tag their mothers.

Does that sound delicious? Did you just read that and think “OMG, I have to try that!”

Step away from the send button. You’re still wobbly. These feelings will pass.

Here’s three reasons why over-sharing the particulars of your messy break up is a bad idea.

1.) Lawyers. Any tangible communication can be used against you in court. Don’t give the crazies in your life ammunition, okay? You don’t want to face harassment charges. If there is an actual abuse of power that you should report, like your ex was having sex with a minor, or their therapist, or was abusing their authority in some nefarious way — you need to run all that past a lawyer. How you expose, how you confront — these things are best left to professionals. And in other less egregious cases, let your lawyer use evidence of infidelity as leverage in your divorce. (Yes, even in no fault divorce states, affair partners tend not to want to be deposed.) It doesn’t work very well as a threat if you’ve already informed everyone on Facebook. You also need to think through the ramifications — could your ex lose their job for a work place affair? Shouldn’t you get the support order in place before that happens? Lawyers think about these things dispassionately and strategically. You need that.

2.) It makes you look like a loon. The last thing you want to do is match the narrative your ex paints that you’re crazy. Even if they manufacture crazy like Henry Ford made automobiles, even if they’re a big slag heap of insanity — don’t take the bait. Don’t match their crazy with your crazy. I know you’re angry and grieving, but take a big step back. You can’t control this. You only get to control you, so be the sane person.

And remember, people aren’t interested in your cosmic injustice. I know it’s huge to you, but to the person reading your three-page, single-spaced narrative with footnotes and apocrypha — it just comes across as raw. And unbalanced. And they don’t really want to sort it out, so they’re going to make a quick decision about who to side with and it’s probably going to be the person who didn’t send them a three-page, single-spaced narrative with footnotes and apocrypha to read.

So really, if you have something to say — bullet points.

But better yet, keep it to yourself and maintain your dignity.

3.) It gives the bad guys centrality. This is the biggest reason not to alert the press — it gives the bad guys your precious mental real estate. Your life gets winnowed down to winning some stupid narrative. You know the truth. The people who matter to you know the truth. Everyone else? Who cares. Who cares if they think the sun shines from your ex’s butt? Who cares that she’s a fraud? I promise you, they’ll find out (painfully) in time.

Focus on you. Focus on your new life. Don’t look back at their drama. Fold the three-page, single-spaced narrative with footnotes and apocrypha and stick it in a drawer. Pull it out a couple years from now and have a good (if rueful) laugh. You’ll be so grateful that’s no longer your life. Trust me on this.

This is a rerun. I’m still coming down from the Valentine’s Day winners. 

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Here’s the thing….a one or two sentence explanation when someone ask why you got divorced seems factual. For a while my favorite was something about his girlfriend. It’s also easily repeated. And if the person who asked is a gossip it spreads like wildfire that your ex was a cheater. It enforces the narrative that he was the bad guy in the divorce. If you emotionally vomit all over somebody the only thing that will spread is that you’re unhinged and no wonder he/she divorced you.

    • I agree, speaking out is best. I wrote a frank email to mutual friends, people I was friendly with at his work, and his relatives. He was presenting it as a mutual decision which was a complete lie; he told one friend he was ” honoring a request from me,” in moving out, and I quashed that quickly. I also mentioned that at the request of my doctor, I got STD testing because his sudden departure suggested he was having an affair. My adult daughters thanked me for bringing the question of sexual health and being protective of my sexual health into the equation. I think shutting up just perpetuates the cultural script that being cheated on is somehow shameful to the chump.

    • CL knows what she is talking about. My ex outed himself after DD by going off the deep end with many people, the realtor, other parents, coaches and scout leaders, babysitters. In our small community I got lots of sympathy and without having to say anything except to a few few that asked.

      I want to emphasize that knowledge is power. Do not give the FW power over you. I will bet the farm that they made triple sure you had no (and still do not have any) idea what they were up to. This is in relation to social media, emails, the long emotional letters or texts. Journal it instead. There is a reason why lawyers make you promise to stay off social media when they take you on as a client. They also don’t want you to try to negotiate with the FW yourself. You will get burned.

      Do not give FW and Co. anything to work with. I cannot emphasize this enough. They can and will use it against you. They didn’t care enough about you to refrain from cheating and after DD, separation and divorce they don’t care at all about you. They became the enemy the moment they cheated and do not have your best interest in mind. Put it this way. You were supposed to adore them no matter their behavior, and when you didn’t, they decided to nuclear bomb your life, make popcorn and watch you scurry around and try to put out the fires in the burning landscape. Do not feed the fire that is burning you! My ex enjoys stirring up drama so much he will repeat the experience as often as he can even though I am as NC as possible with kids. Don’t feed the beast!

      An enemy is not entitled to know your thoughts emotions. Poker face! Grey rock! They will ferret out your weaknesses and fears from all the crumbs you leave on social media and elsewhere and use them against you. In the litigation and post divorce as well. You fear they won’t pay child support? What a great thing to threaten you about! You fear a custody battle? More legal fees you can’t afford? Threaten custody with every exchange!

      An enemy is not entitled to know your schedule. Do not leave any clues for them to piece together and use as ammunition. Rest assured they will try to twist things to their advantage. My FW has used Covid as an excuse not to see the kids. His neglect is virtuous, in his mind.

      Do not overshare with others and do not overshare with the FW. They are not entitled to explanations or your reasoning. They never gave you the same consideration. I just state the facts in as few words as possible. I repeat if necessary as he always argues and twists. Mine tries to figure out how I spend my money and what we are up to thru the kids. The kids are allowed to share what they wish as it pertains to them alone, but not anyone else’s information. It is not his business.

      The attorney still wants me documenting the interactions— for the kids. These days it’s just a chore. An unpleasant and unwelcome waste of time spent focusing on the worst aspect of my life. I truly think it helps keep me stuck and not moving forward to meh. The one bright spot of going NC is that at least the interaction with me is mercifully short. Keeping track of the lies and broken promises and word sale with the kids, not so much.

  • I am many years out and can say with firm conviction – listen to CL!!!

    I was not perfect. I called my son’s God Mother to explain. She hung up on me ( MIL’s best friend ).

    The entire congregation at my X’s church didn’t even blink. The MF did a sermon on how we just grew apart. They. Had . Tea.

    The Bishop explained that he “ had bigger fish to fry” and then sent a check for $500 to help me move out of the rectory ( which was nice ), but my husband cashed for himself.

    No One Cared. I did look a little crazy. That is when I held my chin up, rented an apartment and moved the fuck out. Went back to school and lived my life.

    And when asked I said “I divorced because I didn’t like his girlfriend”.

    I stopped over sharing with complete strangers. Crying on the bus and posting stupid shit. Because it was not helping and the sad truth was I was not special. It happens to a lot of people.

    What it did do for me, was allow me to see who my real friends are. And cut a lot of Switzerland friends out for good.

    Once I stopped navel gazing I slowly gained a life. Looking forward helped tremendously. It just takes time!

      I also say, “Oh we got along well enough; we were married for about 20 years, I just didn’t get along with her boyfriends”.

      And once I stopped looking down and started looking forward, I started moving forward. At first it was baby steps. Soon after, I was flying.

      It took the most courage and energy to look up and straight ahead.

    • I love reading from people who made it to the other side, makes me feel like the is light at the end of the tunnel. Can I ask you a couple of questions about it?

      How long was it before you started to feel normal again? Because I’m nearly one year from D-day and nearly 6 months from the time it ended, and it just feels like a permanent stain I can never wash off no matter how hard I try. I don’t write about it on social media (I’m not on social media at all), I’ve gone no contact. I immediately put myself through school (although covid has been slowing me down). I’ve done all things right, and yet it feels like I’m moving without going anywhere. My brain keeps on reprocessing this thing again and again, and I relive all the memories both good and bad all the time.

      Sometimes I read about people been out of it for 3 years and still struggling, and I hope if they’re reading they don’t take this the wrong way, but what I think is that… I can’t. I can’t go on like this for years with no respite, what’s the point? It’s too long, and he has stolen enough from me already, so much time I have wasted on something that was a lie. I don’t want this burden anymore, I want to let it go and go on.

      • Infidelity is severe emotional and psychological trauma and you don’t have any control over when it doesn’t hurt anymore any more than you can control when a physical injury stops hurting.

        You have control over your response to the injury….your actions. Responding to and changing your thoughts and thinking. Using the tools for healing.

        But the healing process is an individual time table that has a life of its own.

        I am just over three years out and the reality is that I am much better, that I get a little better every day, and that I am not fully healed yet.
        I was with the traitor half of my life
        (for 27 years) and this is intentionally inflicted trauma, which Dr. Peter Levine (one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma) says is the most difficult to heal from.

        On some level to some degree this may always hurt, or not. Both are normal. It does help me to not fight how I feel, however it is, and respond in a way that helps me.

        • THIS!!

          On some level to some degree this may always hurt, or not. Both are normal. It does help me to not fight how I feel, however it is, and respond in a way that helps me.

          Feel what you feel and respond positively is all you can do.

        • I’m about 18 mos post-divorce and 3 years from third DD. Also a 27 year marriage. Also more than half my life. I’m rocking grey rock. I really don’t care anymore. The part that prevents me from getting to meh is the kids. This is, I think, because it is the part that is ongoing.

          Ex abandoned them for all intents and purposes. Ex pays the court ordered support. Thank goodness. However he refuses to help with any parenting thing, financial or otherwise beyond that (like college) despite promises made to the older kids. The part that gets me the most is the one hour visit now and then and a call or a text once or twice a month? I cannot forgive it. My little one cried in my arms last night. Said to me—I wish I had a dad. But he gave up on us. —I said no, hun, your dad walked away. I can’t seem to get over it and I just can’t understand how someone could do that. This part of the acceptance is hard. I know it’s not fair and I wish it weren’t so and I did and am still doing my part. I just don’t know how to move beyond it because the rejection is ongoing. Never mind that the ex ruined, without fail, every single holiday or celebration. We don’t miss HIM per se but he’s left a dad sized hole in my kids’ life. We have fun as a family anyways. We are close knit group. We support each other and we are finding our way. But I’m still waiting for Tuesday.

          • I agree and I am in a similar situation with my daughter and my heart breaks breaks breaks for every child who has been caught in the crossfire of this major fucked up shit show.

            He went from best friend to MIA overnight. She had just begun 5th grade and had been soaring toward the sun, brilliant and outgoing and confident and those two motherfuckers shot her out of the sky like the pair of sordid skeet-shooting soul-sucking mates they are. She fell apart in the library while I was trying to help her with the family history school project. She asked me if we could leave because she wanted to go out to the car and cry. She was crying in the car and said what I could not believe I would ever hear her say, “Daddy’s hardly ever around any more.” That piece of junk he was fucking works in a cheap hair salon franchise and I later found out he was in there hanging out “all the time” according to the salon manager whose jaw dropped when I went in there and told her the true story of who he really was. My daughter’s 5th grade teacher, a fellow chump, excused her from the family history project. Two of her other teachers and the school principal, friends of mine who had dads who cheated, rallied around us and held us up. I totally owe them. I have never in my life wished harm on another person until this.

            Extra hugs from me, a mom whom none of you know but cares DEEPLY.

            • They are such *bastards*. There should be a special place in hell for people who bring children into the world, then abandon them for their own selfish desires.

              I’m so sorry and angry for you both, and all the Chumps here in the same position. ????????

              Ex fuckwit walked out on his two little daughters from his first marriage, for a blond bimbo who then cheated on him. ????????

              I remember him getting all snivelly and whiny because they wouldn’t have anything to do with him now they’re grown up – I later found out they had written to him when they were little, and he never bothered to reply. Fucking arsehole.

              • Chumpnomore6, I’d like to also add a place in hell beside bio parents, for people who become the wonderful kibble seeking step-parents to vulnerable kids ….. knowing full well these kids have already been through a lot ….. only to completely abandon them one day to the next for their cheating partner who also has kids (their newest step-children).
                Before letting them into our lives and the life of our children, we tread carefully. We meet their family and their biological kids. We check off every box before putting ourselves and our children at risk. We show them how vulnerable we are and we learn to trust again . Then – wham – utter shock, betrayal, chaos and scarring ….these selfish fucks and their latest twu wovs are dispicable.

        • Dr. Levine has a lot of useful information, but beware of Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute or SETI. One of the higher ups there was the AP. Ironic? Hypocritical? Imagine my surprise when I was trying to find help for my betrayal trauma and stumbled upon the fact that she is a high ranking employee there.

          • I picked up a copy of the Boston Globe during a family visit. Bessel van der Kolk “The Body Keeps the Score” was dismissed due to allegations of workplace bullying.

      • I am just in the separated stage and working on divorce. So it is real raw still. For me though I’ve found that writing has helped me so I’m not over sharing with people. Last week I was in a really bad space and kept going over and over in my head all the horrible treatment over the years—30 years together. So I decided to write my story from the time I met him. This was really therapeutic and I did it for me, no one else has to read it. But it was a way to get it all out and I felt better the next day. I’m still on that emotional roller coaster and they tell me it takes time to get off, but at least for a while I Felt OK.

        • Very good idea. I focus on the great things that happened during my marriage that were apart from him. A great career, getting to raise two kids, some wonderful friends.

          He was part of my life but not my entire life.

          • I have had the thought to start writing down my stories and history to preserve for my son. I have been a genealogical researcher for our tree for the last 15 years and I find it important for people to preserve memories and stories. However, I have wanted to write it mostly in the “I” voice rather than “we.” I have struggles with whether this would be in inaccurate omission of FW’s existence, but in truth, many of the best stories I have don’t include him when I look back. I could maybe write up a separate history of “us” that includes all of the horrible things he did, lock it up, and leave the key with the lawyer to only be read after I am gone. But anyway… I want my history for my descendants to be MY history. He has been living a separate life the entire marriage. I no longer consider him central to my story. I learned that he was a lesson – a bit player. When I remember living in Hawaii or visiting foreign countries or even great stories of adventures in school or with friends, he isn’t there. And though I know he was technically there for the birth of my child, I hardly remember him being there (and I labored 58 hours with no epidural so I was AWAKE).

            Writing out the pain – and not sending it to anyone – can be cathartic. Writing out the good in life will be, for me, I reminder of all I am without him and how fun, fabulous, and mighty I have been and will continue to be in spite of hitting his speed bump… even if it was a 20 year speed bump.

      • August will be 4 years out from dday and 3 from divorce final.

        It still hurts but meh is well within view.

        The progression is geometric but you wont see that unless you journal or have the same therapist or your mom listens for hours on end for those 4 years.

        The best description of analogy i have ever read is the recovery ia like capsizing in the mid atlantic in winter. At first you are drowning and every time you come back up you get another lungful of water. But slowly the storm weakens and there are small breaks between the 50 foot waves that plunge you down again. But when you are hit it feels just as bad and nothing has changed. But when you surface you breathe for a minute before the next one. And that is progress.

        Over time the space between the waves becomes longer and the waves arent as big and they dont push you down as hard and…oh yeah….youve learned to swim better bc you had to. And over a couple of years the storm and the cycle just die out. There are still waves but slowly there is also the sun and horizon and birds chirping. And … can swim.

        Meh is real. NC is the path. Focusing on you is the path. Forgiving yourself is the path.

        Just keep swimming.

        • NC does do wonders from lifting the worst of the pain. Initially, the thought of your spouse sleeping with someone else haunts you and hurts so much. Then you eventually get passed that part. You’ll still mourn the loss of what you thought your life was and the possibilities and find yourself upset at the selfishness of this person’s sin that completely demolished something that was pure.

          I don’t have feelings of love any more for my ex wife and I’m fatigued from what she has put me through after D-Day and trying to rebuild my life. But it’s hard to imagine 100% meh ever being a legit possibility.

          • Finn this is right on the money. I think meh may be possible but we will be much older and greyer when that happens. Old age will help us forget 🙂

      • Dear vee, Velvet Hammer, Ready to move on, and Ragingmeh, have said it beautifully.

        I would only add this; that these days of Covid and lock downs have made it *doubly* hard for those of us who were chumped relatively recently, to move on and “gain a life”.

        My own experience is that I moved to another county, where I didn’t know *anybody*, and set about joining all sorts of things, swimming, walking groups, the WI, etc, etc. Then Covid, and the first lock down. I hadn’t had time to build a circle of acquaintances, let alone friends, and now we’re in the middle of the second lock down. This does make it much harder. I’m 3 years out from Dday, and the decree absolute was January 2019.

        I’m in much the same mindset as you, (some of the time, not *all* of the time), but I really do think a large part of it is the isolation and frustration of not being able to do what I’d planned, one then tends to brood and ruminate on the past.

        The thing to remember is, it won’t last forever. Vaccines are being administered (had my first yesterday), and eventually things *will* get back to normal.

        You just have to hang in there hun. I’m only speaking for myself here, but I don’t think something like this ever really goes away, it will always hurt a little, like scar tissue sensitive to changes in temperature.

        And I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. The scar is a reminder of the massive betrayal and fuckedupness some people are capable of, and a warning to watch our boundaries, and know our worth.

        Plus, do we really want to be as shallow and superficial as the cheaters and their whores, who can just move onto the next shiny thing without a backward glance? Because we hurt, we feel, and that’s more than can be said for the vapid scum *they* are.

        Hugs to you. Come here and vent, we’re all here for you. ????????

        • Chumpnomore, this is very well said. I agree the lockdown makes it so much harder. There is so much I’d like to do that is not possible quite yet. So I have a great therapist and a good social support network and CN which help get me through day to day. And when I have panic attacks and start crying for no reason I try to let it be and journal about it when I can.
          part of why I journal is when I start doubting what’s happened and start thinking about going back or feeling sorry for him, I re read what I wrote and realize it would not be a good idea to go back or feel sorry for him! I can then do one more thing to move forward. My latest is I’ve rented a small apartment— a blank slate, just for me. A little spot with an awesome view. This is progress.
          I’m working on stopping trying to figure him out….

          • Journaling also provides a backward glance. A few years in you realize that you have come far from that place. Yes you may relapse because betrayal cuts very deep. But your awareness grows and you find out you do have the inner resources and the occasional miracle that can keep you going.
            I’m several years out, but Valentines Day is wretched …. that was yesterday… and Today is GOOD.
            I’M starting to beleive we are alchemists, capable of turning shit into gold. Chump Nation is an amazing group if human beings!

            • Re journaling, yes, I think this is *very* important. Mainly because Chumps have a tendency to romanticise the past, and forget the worst bits – Kim Saaed, whom I’ve found quite helpful, calls it “the pink cloud”, when we refuse to remember what it was *really* like, and instead wallow in the very few good memories we have.

              Retroactive spackling.

              I resisted journaling for a long time, mainly because I really didn’t want to remember it all again. But I forced myself to, because I’d been plagued by a series of dreams where I was involved with the shit again, and I *knew* what I was dreaming was utter bullshit, it was just what I wanted to believe.

              So I forced myself to sit down and journal. It was hellishly painful, but it cured me of sucking on the hopium pipe, which, unbenownst to myself, I *had* been doing. (chump delusions sometimes take a long time to dissipate).

              The journaling has really begun to clarify what it was all actually about – his ego, his desire for control, his total inability to accept responsibility for *anything*, the determination to blame everyone except himself; oh, I could go on and on, but we all know the drill.

              Sitting down and writing out *everything* helped me a lot, in that I realised I was still cherishing a Wizard of Oz, and I had now pulled the curtain away.

        • “I’m only speaking for myself here, but I don’t think something like this ever really goes away, it will always hurt a little, like scar tissue sensitive to changes in temperature.”

          Yep, same as other hurts we suffer, and cause scars.

          That is why I don’t think staying away from meeting new folks, or enjoying our life should wait until we are totally healed is necessary. Many of us never will be totally healed. Of course the time frame will be different for everyone, as to when we are ready. It doesn’t mean we can’t go on and love and live. As long as we take it at our own comfortable pace, until we are sure.

          After age 18 (and many times before) we pretty much all have baggage.

          For most of us, our life with the SO, was a huge chunk of our adult life. That is going to leave a mark.

      • Best thing I did after he left was to join a 12-step group. There are tons of them out there based on Alcoholics Anonymous that might work for you. I tell locals to try different ones until you find one that fits. After over a year of just going to meetings, I joined a step group and did the whole recovery thing — personal inventory, making amends, etc. When I made my amends, I mostly wrote letters and shredded them. I did NOT contact my ex and his family who enabled him. It was truly a deep transformation for me. In a few months they plan to start another one, and I plan to do it again. It also gave me friends who care about how I’m doing and who point out things I need to see in a loving way.

        Then closeout took longer than the actual divorce process because of yet more drama, COVID, backlogs, and institutional mistakes, but getting that truly closed out where he couldn’t insert himself any more made a big difference. All told, it was two years of agony, but it’s over.

      • 6 months after the last of the legal process or “from the time it ended” is not all that long. Every situation is difference and young children, financial trauma, and long-term abuse can extend things quite a bit, as you will see if you stick around and read peoples’ stories.

        My suggestion is that when the brain keeps reprocessing, you might get relief from some form of therapy. You can look for a traditional talk therapist with experience treating trauma patients. You can try EMDR, which many people find helpful. You can try clinical hypnosis with a trained therapist.

        The other thing that helped me was developing routines for interrupting the “brain reprocessing” or ruminations. That means sort of making rules for yourself. Once the thoughts start, you interrupt them. Put music on and clean a closet. Put on headphones and listen to a podcast. Watch a movie. I watched police procedural TV shows constantly. Yoga and meditation also helped. In the car, I listen to news or sports talk on the radio (I have satellite radio, so I can listen to Forensic Files on HLN. Or I would put my “recovery” playlist on and sing with the radio. Anything to divert my mind. Eventually, the rumination stopped.

        The last part is making “mental no contact” a way of life. It’s a discipline. And you can do it.

        • Therapy, for sure. EMDR is helpful as is “somatic experiencing” therapy (see ). This is a trauma and like all traumas is held in the body. Somatic experiencing helps you get in touch with the stored feelings in the body, noticing how and where you feel what you feel, and releasing old wounds. I’ve found it to be very helpful along the way.

          • Excellent advice as always, LAJ. Both you and Bullshit and Lies have underlined techniques that helped me immensely. After several years of feeling mired in misery, I finally gave myself a time limit of only ten minutes to ruminate, and then I went about my day. My therapist also taught me to focus on where in my body I felt the hurt/tension/pain and then to send thanks to that body part for alerting me to the trauma. The end result was the physical relaxation of the muscular tension in my body and a shift in mindset toward gratitude and away from the anxiety that had my body literally tied up in knots. There is great psychological benefit in giving yourself permission to feel the pain for a limited time and then getting on with your life.

          • I believe you need to heal stored trauma and EMDR was helpful. Beware of Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute or SETI. One of the higher ups there was the AP. Ironic? Hypocritical? Imagine my surprise when I was trying to find help for my betrayal trauma and stumbled upon the fact that she is a high ranking employee there.

        • GREAT ADVICE lovedajackass! As always.
          YES to interrupting rumination. So important to spot it, recognize the feelings and self soothe and do something to shake it out. Take a walk until your mind changes

          • Yes!!

            It actually requires a lot of self discipline. The moment it strikes, *refuse* to give in to it. Do *anything*, a walk, clean out the fridge, put on some raucous music and dance to it. (I favour the Drop Kick Murphys myself), even ironing with YouTube in the background! Kate Rusby always soothes me.

      • Vee,

        Sending love and support. I started feeling better a few months after the divorce was final and property deeds were transferred and I got a big promotion and a new job. That was 2 years and 4 months after Dday— 23 months after I said GTFO — 25 year marriage, covert narcissist.

        I’m 6 years out now – life is better than ever. I just got engaged, my children are well, my health is wonderful, my career is rocketing into the atmosphere, the only thoughts I have about X are pity that he’s not capable of normal human connection. I feel lucky I got a second chance at life.

        Life will get better! Keep investing in yourself— it’s an investment that will always pay off.

      • I’m 3 years from dday 1 and newly divorced, around 27 years or so together. I’m ok for the most part then here and there something rattles me. Each time I cry about it I honestly think it’ll be the last time because most of the time I don’t think of him–until recently I’m strict NC and only recently have some contact because I have to sell my beloved home and THAT bothers me so much more than thoughts of him anymore. Having said that, when I got my final divorce notice last week it did hit me more than I thought it would. A neighbor came by because of a broken fence, the nicest person ever, and when I started to talk I burst into tears. Big ass try to catch your breath tears too, and I’m not a huge crier. Poor thing wanted to give me a hug but couldn’t and ended up leaving me flowers from her backyard on my porch later. I think it was her kindness that set me off as weird as that sounds.

        I never in a zillion years expected that reaction and was hugely embarrassed by it, but it happened even though I’ve been ‘over’ him for a while now and I see meh off in the distance waving me forward. And I have to tell myself that it’s ok, it doesn’t mean I’m missing this new him or anything like that and that it might happen again at some point–the picture I get in my head is like a graph of overall growth where the jagged line goes up, then down then up. Even when you’re charting the downs marks, if you step back and look at it it’s overall going up. I believe for me that once all the final connections are severed I’ll be ok, then after this pandemic eases I’ll be fartin’ daisies again. And I also have to leave a little wiggle room for the occasional surprise cry, though I’m SURE this time last week was the final one. =-)

        • Gosh, I completely understand those feelings of grief of having to sell the beloved home. I’m a little over 1 year since the divorce was final and 2 years since DDay. While mostly I am happily moving forward, I find the anger of the injustice of it all can consume me and send me in a funk (like now). I have been going through extreme anxiety because this home turned out to be a place of peace for my son and I after we got the cheater out and this past year it has been a sanctuary during COVID. But now I’m forced to sell in a few months time under the terms of the divorce and turn over half the proceeds. I cannot afford to buy another place in this community where I have enjoyed such a strong support system of friendships in my neighborhood. I struggle with the whole injustice of divorcing a cheater – the legal system screws the innocent. Why did I have to give him half my life savings, part of which he used to buy a lovely new home with Schmoopie, who has a great income of her own and they could have well afforded it without my money? Judges should consider the assets of the cheater and the affair partner against those of the chump. It’s so unfair that after suffering the trauma of betrayal and financial rape chumps then have to suffer a downgrade in lifestyle and then struggle to rebuild our savings because of the actions of these disordered creeps. I just can’t seem to make peace with how unfair it is and unjust. My anger holds me back from completely moving forward, I know

          • Yes yes yes–I’m in the same situation with having to sell because of the divorce and the rage that goes along with that. The only home my kids have ever known and we love it here; it would’ve been paid off in 2 years. And same in that I won’t be able to afford in this area that I’m currently living because asshole has accumulated a massive amount of debt that I’m half responsible for; apparently it was half my fault his selfish ass went batshit crazy with credit cards indulging himself and whore before I found out. Plus I’m older and currently unemployed yada yada so my anxiety is through the roof. I feel like a toddler stomping my foot screaming ‘it’s not FAIR!!!’ but I guess that’s the way these things go.

            Sending you virtual hugs and strength-I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

            • Thursday, I’m sorry you are going through this too and send superpowers your way! I’m trying to reframe it as an adventure….my hope is that by year send we and our kids will be in a much better place both physically with our new homes and emotionally too.

          • Susane, I agree. Let’s see how much they want to poach other people’s spouses when there are financial consequences for them too.
            – and in terms of timelines, I find it stressful. Sometimes I count how long it’s been… then I judge myself …
            Then I pray by this point in the future I’ll be fine or by this time I won’t be this or that ….. The cheater moved on while he was with me… So it’s extra humiliating that they are in a whole other life and I’m still hurting.

      • 2 years. But I still hyperisolate (covid helped) and see red flags in every single man I pursue or who pursues me (tinder at least is great for throwing up red flags).

        Actually technically “over him” after 6 months. I got closure though. Became friends with one of his many OW (she had no idea) and was able to see how far he went.

        I don’t recommend that type of closure, but it was a catalyst for me.

        Doing intense trauma recovery work, shadow work, was key for me, alongside humour (CL great for that)

      • Dear Vee,
        I’m sort of where Motherchumper99 is … nearly 6 years out and fully moved on and happier and better than ever (well, better than I ever was with fuckwit, anyway. I’m still overwhelmed by life and COVID times).

        The first 6 months after DDay were complete Hell… all the trauma. Lost 25 pounds in a month. Riddled with anxiety. Couldn’t wrap my brain around WHY. Didn’t sleep at all. My world flipped upside down. I needed a lot of therapy.

        At one year, I got my divorce. Things started to get better. But FW became increasingly cruel and crappy to our son (who was just 9 years old on DDay). And in this way, FW kept me tied to him for a few more years with custody issues. Even with that though, it was such a relief to be free of that ass. He thought being cruel to our son and me would make me crazy. Instead it was liberating! Why would I want him back ever? He was calling the police (???) on our kid when he couldn’t get him to behave. He was calling our son names. He was locking the poor kid out of the house. And his AP? Totally supported fuckwit. She would rant and scream.

        It gave me clarity and helped me make a clean break from that piece of shit. Plus my boyfriend and other friends witnessed it, so it helped out FW as a complete asshole.

        I’m in a 4+ year relationship with a nice man. He’s sexier and more fun and better company. He makes me feel good about myself. I still carry baggage with me, but he does too (he was cheated on by his ex wife). We both see therapists to try to make ourselves better people and better for each other.

        I just appreciate everything so much more. Give yourself time. Give yourself space. Therapy is helpful. Like the very wise Velvet Hammer said — there’s no one timeline for this. Keep working on yourself. Focus on you. And eventually the bad feelings get less and less and less….

      • tons of thoughts here. I skipped right over, so if anyone catches repeats, sorry.

        DONT WORRY ABOUT THE LONG GAME’S TIMELINE. Just get through today.

        It’ll take what time it’ll take. And NO MATTER WHAT — YOU CAN’T CONTROL THE PROCESS.

        But you can effect it:
        -NC is the path. Little contact if there’s kids.
        -Trust yourself. I promise you’ll like yourself so much more (cause you’ll be so much better)
        -Eat and live healthy. I leaned on the bottle a little more than I should have, but its all about getting through the harder shit first
        -Look for a new life. Its there…. It aint what you thought it would be, but its still new and waiting

      • Meh is not physical place- you don’t reach it after a noted finish line. And the more you open your wounds or make yourself vulnerable to the past the more likely it will be a long time. But – sounds like you’re winning the boundary battle. And your clear eyes full hearts can’t lose mentality is going to get you to the meh faster. But it’s a bit like any other grief or learning. It ebbs and flows and you will probably be 80% there for that ‘year 3’ but have a few wednesdays and sundays where you backslide out of meh. And you just pick yourself up and get back on the meh wagon. And then you’ll realize one day- you aren’t going to chump lady first thing every morning for your dose of snark and check in to steel yourself for survival. In fact- you haven’t been there in weeks and you’re not teetering on the edge of meltdown. You’re good. Your happy. You can go and catch up with the forums and realize- oh. This is what they were talking about. I’m not the person I was before but I am not centrally focused on surviving this anymore. I’ve survived. I’m ok. Fuck it, I’m thriving. Oh. Hells yeh. It’s Tuesday. I’m meh.

        Cant tell you when. But that’s how it was for me.

      • So many replies, thanks so much to everyone who took the time to write back, and for the good advice. Made my heart swell <3

  • A comment my uncle made after D-day was the following:

    ‘You’re not the first this has happened to and you won’t be the last. Pull your shit together, get the fuck out, hold your head high as you have done nothing wrong’

    That’s exactly what I did. No craziness, no elaborate letters or emails to his family or friends. I could have seriously damaged his business but at the end of the day, had no energy for all that.

    • I like your uncle!

      I agree; keep it simple; I said “He wouldn’t break up with his girlfriend.”

      Follow CL advice; “Don’t match their crazy with your crazy”. Need to keep that saying in my mind; it would benefit anyone dealing with a wing nut; and I definitely deal with them in my job!

    • I had the same uncle.
      Navy officer, school headmaster and then worked with Jimmy Carter at Habitat for Humanity.
      Said she “was trash to have treated you this way. You did not deserve it. You will not have any trouble attracting a woman who who will love you for who you are.”
      My favorite relative!

  • I learned a very valuable lesson from my daughter’s first grade teacher. She had the children decide if a sentence was FACT or OPINION.

    For example:

    Pumpkins are orange (fact)

    Pumpkin pie is delicious (opinion)

    Believe it or not, I realized I had wasted a lot of time in life getting bent out of shape over OPINIONS.

    OPINIONS are not FACTS. And I don’t need to argue about FACTS, which are true whether others agree or not, or OPINIONS, which everyone is entitled to.

    I keep the focus on facts in the infidelity shit show. I leave the opinions alone. That especially means the traitor, the hitwoman, and their opinions. Giving weight to what AH’s think is my insanity.

    The exception is that I never pass on the opportunity to educate that infidelity is abuse. That’s a fact that needs to be pointed out if someone’s opinion is that it’s normal and OK.

    What helps me stand down when I am experiencing the temptation to exact vengeance is the quote attributed to Napoleon:

    “Never interfere when your enemy is making a mistake”

    Doing and saying nothing is actually the most powerful thing you can do, and requires the most strength, which really appeals to me.

    • “The exception is that I never pass on the opportunity to educate that infidelity is abuse. That’s a fact that needs to be pointed out if someone’s opinion is that it’s normal and OK”

      Totally agree. I was at a WI meeting where someone said how much they loved Anna Karenina. I calmly pointed out it was about a selfish drama queen who betrayed a good man for a vapid womaniser, then threw herself in front of a train because she didn’t have the moral courage to face up to what she had done. ????????

  • In the first consultation with my lawyer he told me not to do anything I didn’t want to explain to the Judge. He also warned me about social media. He ended with nearly word for word repeating Mr. Chump Lady’s words of wisdom, “If it feels good, don’t do it.”

    I’ve stuck to that with only a few slip ups. Maintaining No Contact has been my Saving Grace. I get the satisfaction of knowing that I have dignity and integrity. I have nothing to explain to the Judge.

    Thank you Chump Lady and Mr. Chump Lady, you held me back. Your words kept my bail money in my handbag.

    • Mine said the same and even went so far as to say that I should put nothing in email or a text that I wouldn’t want in court. He said that venting to mutual friends or his relatives was also a no-no because they could be called as witnesses.

      Thankfully mine settled out of court, but I was indeed super careful anyway.

  • It’s been a few years but I did have the absolute best person to vent all that hatred to. Surprisingly his last AP ended up being a good friend of mine after we both dumped him (he’d been telling her I was his ex for over a year before she found out I wasn’t).
    Ironically he was already cheating on HER too when I found out about it all. Anyway, getting to hear the actual truth was most definitely good for both of us. I was crazy after all, and she was never some husband chasing floozy he made her out to be (oh, I couldn’t say no, she was so persistent… yeah you’re that irresistible, whatever).
    And of course it’s nice to have this place with all the other who’ve been there too.

  • I’ll admit to posting on my fb page CL’s post on “sparkly turds”.

    But that was in the very first few days after DDay. I’m not on fb anymore, and the only thing I do have is a Pinterest page entitled the rat faced whore, with appropriately contemptuous quotes, and one on abusive fucktard’s. But that’s just for me. ????????????

    • There are some great things about Pinterest. You can have boards that are utterly life-affirming, character building, or centered on your own interests. You can also have boards where you collect quotations, poems, and images that allow you to vent your feelings. You can keep that board private if you want! I gave my venting board a name from a song lyric) and let the be the one place where I posted about pain, fear, anger, and disdain of cheaters. Probably no one ever looks at it but me, and I haven’t looked at it in years. But at the time, it was a lifeline. Now it’s probably the one board I never look at, but 7 years ago it was a history of my pain.

  • ???? I am guilty of emotionally vomiting on strangers and friends alike.

    It was during the immediate aftermath of my ex’s big confession.

    I was angry and admit that I wanted to tarnish his image. I wanted to get ahead of the narrative that I knew he would put out there. I was also trying to process it all.

    Did I appear unhinged? I don’t know. I don’t think so, but it’s all relative. I was unhinged in general during that period. At least I didn’t put anything in wriitng. When I did write an email, I would first send it to my sister for her opinion. 99% of the time she would tell me not to send it. I would grumble and then press delete. Thank God for my sister!

    I really can’t say that I was hurt by this. I’m sure people didn’t care as much as I thought they did; I’m sure they were probably composing their shopping lists as I spoke. I’m sure it’s better to refrain from a few good emotional vomits. But, alas, I think it’s tough to avoid a season of oversharing. Just don’t put anything in writing.

    One last thing: Perhaps in part because I’m an adult child of an alcoholic, I’m extremely sensitive to people’s moods and reactions. I think I had the good sense to silence myself when I thought I was losing my audience. *sigh* Writing this just reminds me of what an effed up time it was (and still is, but not as bad. Not NEARLY as bad. I’m gaining a life, folks!! And it feels so good).

    And I’ve stopped oversharing. I just say, “He cheated.” OK, I add details, “He cheated with a much-young nurse.” Honestly, I add more, “He cheated for years with a much-younger nurse.” Then I stop.

    I’m getting there.

    Best wishes to all my fellow chumps!

    • I was totally unhinged. Crying at publix, emotional vomittting, you name it.

      I think most people had sympathy to be honest. I think the pain seeping out of my pores was pretty visceral and it made people uncomfortable but concerned. Many people asked me if i was ok even when i thought i was being kinda normal but just the deadness in me was alarming i guess. I would always apologize and explain i was going through an unexpected divorce. So many people expressed sympathy and told me not to apologize for having difficulty holding it together.

      • I cried through Midnight Mass. Just being in church opened up the floodgates. It was what it was–in this case, honest emotion. I sat in the back in a packed church. I really didn’t know many people there. And I looked terrible anyway. That was 7 years ago and I look much younger now than I did in those days.

  • I love this response, I thought I was the only one who thought this about Anna Karenina! The greatest love story of all time, my arse, she was a manipulative bitch, who screwed over anyone she could to get to her “happy” then couldn’t cope when it didn’t go as planned.

  • Their eyes met across a dimly lit cockpit, they knew it was wrong but urge within the loins of their yearning was stronger than the shackles of morality. How could these two hungry souls deny themselves what was meant to be? The star crossed lovers fell into each other’s arms for the embrace that would solidify the true love they felt for each other…. Blah blah blah.

    I read your post this morning, obviously too late to save me from writing and sending the telanovela to mutual friends, posting screen shots of the elicit texts and the utter disgust of my discovery, no descriptive adjective left unused.

    What immediately came to mind was the double standard. The chumps are crazy and unhinged but the ditch pig and hoewrecker are lovely together. Friends and family are sooo happy they’ve found the love they deserve. oh they look so happy in their new life together (umm, really? little fantasy, sure) …. Dry heave gaging, my eyeballs are now bleeding.

    • The key is not to care what other people think. You know the truth. The people who love you know the truth.

      That’s not to say it’s easy to give up trying to win the narrative and get people to see what a jackass the cheater is. But it’s a change in life perspective that will make your life better in many respects. We just can’t control what people think. What we control is what we do and say.

      No matter what you’ve done or said up to this point, chances are most people won’t remember it next week. I work with someone who made an utter ass of herself during her divorce. not only oversharing but overconfident in a married man, which ended up in disaster. That was a few years ago. She got back to normal and I’m quite sure no one thinks of that time.

      CL explains the peril of trying to fighting the injustice and getting people to see things your way:”Your life gets winnowed down to winning some stupid narrative. You know the truth. The people who matter to you know the truth. Everyone else? Who cares. Who cares if they think the sun shines from your ex’s butt? Who cares that she’s a fraud? I promise you, they’ll find out (painfully) in time.”

    • Chumpette, whenever I think people are thinking that… I unfortunately ruminate imagining things – my imaginary comeback is “ they definitely deserve each other”
      And I love the comment… I think it’s Susie who makes this one “ he paid way more than market value for her” – I prefer to say for that!

      • Honestly, I don’t regret losing my shit on dday.

        Funny, what comes to mind had I been passively indifferent at learning the truth about the ditch pig and hoewrecker would be a dialogue along the lines of: ‘she didn’t really care’ or ‘see, she really wasn’t meant to be my partner cause she doesn’t care it was for the best’ just adding to the blameshifting.

        Because I lost my shit and shared the details I learned who were the caring supportive friends and who were the Switzerland weebils. The weebils, I figured were themselves guilty of being cheating ditch pigs, who lacked any direction on their moral compass. Woefully ignorant, live life with blinders, don’t rock the illusion of being a sparkly turd. Blur your vision and everything sparkles.

        Because I lost my shit I learned about and was directed to CN and LACGAL. I can’t imagine what this past year would have been like had I not had this resource. I will be forever greatful.

        It’s a sad truth that this is a common theme. The narrative is so easy to spout off into some cheesy harlequin story line. Yeah I could write the story from the perspective the star crossed lovers struck by the arrow of Eros, add it to all the other story lines the romantics are drawn to. But really, I couldn’t hold my stomach down to do this. I can’t comprehend how so many in society accept this as common, as an ‘oh well, that’s too bad’ like you accidentally stepped in dog shit. Just scrape it off and carry on. Even the devoutly religious are able to make excuses for the behaviour. As if being number 7 on the list of commandments makes it less significant. Seriously, the hypocrisy makes me laugh. What a load of shit.

        But seriously, there’s comfort in knowing the truth. I wasn’t imagining things, I wasn’t making something out of nothing, I wasn’t over reacting. I trusted a ditch pig and I couldn’t slink away in silence. Nothing is as it was.

  • Google some videos by Dr. Peter Levine.
    He is one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma.

    You can’t take something away without putting something in its place. I have a PLAN for what I can do that will help myself and the situation when I get triggered instead of handing them ammo to verify the smack he talked about me.

    Put your plan in writing. Keep it handy. REVIEW and REHEARSE so you can be READY when you get tempted or triggered.

    BOX BREATHING (aka TACTICAL BREATHING) is really helpful as well (I have a friend who is a retired and decorated Navy SEAL and this is part of SEAL training).

    He/she who stays calm and dignified WINS.

    • “Stress Triggers Our Reptilian Brain

      The reptilian brain is often still in control long after traumatic events, and when it’s in control, the thinking brain shuts down. It’s impossible to reason and process emotions when your reptilian brain is still screaming “RUN!”

      • This is one of my most surprising realizations from the divorce.

        I am a well-educated, smart person. I have a PhD in physics from an Ivy League university. During the divorce, I *could not* read and understand a 3-paragraph letter from my lawyer. My brain was so steeped in stress-induced chemicals that I had to reread a simple, factual email a half-dozen times in order to grasp it, and even then I would forget it the next day. I had no idea that hormones could have that effect on a brain.

        It was pretty sobering, actually. I like to think of my “self” as separate from the stew of neurotransmitters sloshing around in my skull – that my personhood is independent of my physiology – but my experience during the divorce revealed that to be a comforting self-lie.

        • My most difficult and surprising course as a psych major was Biological Psychology. Who we are, what we do, and how we feel is much more than what we decide or learn. It’s just another reminder that Nature Bats Last….

          And cheaters are dopes who don’t realize that sex with someone unleashes all kinds of brain chemistry that is the cause of that Twu Wuv they’re feeling, and then they make permanent decisions based on that temporary chemistry-based condition. True love is what happens after the hormones subside, IMHO. I thought I had that but I didn’t. ????

          Producer David Foster is on wife No 5, talking about “when he runs” (tellingly not in past tense) and saying “how fucking stupid” he was to abandon his wife and children, which at the time included a 7 month old baby.

          (I agree with him.)

          • He’s disgusting!! His current young wife is pregnant now too so hope she realizes she will be raising that child alone at some point. Well at two points actually considering he is old enough to be his wife’s GRANDFATHER!!! Gross!!

        • IG,

          I had the same experience, and it IS sobering to think that we aren’t as in control as we think, that stress can affect our ability to think and concentrate, and that we are somewhat at the mercy of our physiology. I like to think that this awareness has made me both more humble and stronger.

          And to VH, thanks for the links. I’ll check them out.


        • Thank you for this post. I have a degree in English, have taught at the college level, and could not read for almost two years after Dday because I lacked the focus to do so. Plot? Forget it…I could not even get through the writing on the back of a cereal box. Basically had to retrain my brain, starting with “beach books” and “airplane books” until I had the focus to absorb and understand a simple plot line, and only then move on. It’s quite frightening. Chumps: trust that your abilities will return.

          • I hear you. It is hard to focus on anything. I don’t want to even play video games and that was my joy. Just want this trauma feeling to end.

    • Velvet—Thank you for the advice re: Dr. Peter Levine. There is SO much excellent info on the link you posted. SO HELPFUL and ENLIGHTENING.

    • I hope everyone reads this and heeds your advice.

      Responsibility = Response and ability. We are able to respond in ways that help us rather than hurt us. I love the idea of planning IN ADVANCE how to handle trigger situations. My go-to plan is to ask myself, “What am I reacting to? Is it this event in the present? Or is this bigger than the moment I’m in (meaning there is old unresolved trauma stoking the fire of my emotional reaction)?

    • Thank you, You are absolutely right with all your points and I’m almost at the I don’t care, they don’t care, just shut up about it/them and move on.

      The ‘their eyes met across a fully stocked meat counter…’ harlequin narrative that fills the book store shelves, romance movies etc. Society glamorizes the narrative of the illicit affair and the chump crazy, deserving of abandonment and deception. This I find troubling and difficult to reconcile.

  • Yes, so true. You also have to weigh who you’re talking to.

    I have a handful of friends who know the whole, play-by-play story, but most people don’t. If someone I haven’t seen in awhile asks about him, I have my elevator speech — After some really difficult times, he took off for XXX. We are divorced. I appreciate your prayers as we work out the future. If they press, I say that I’ve been divorced for over a year and really don’t want to talk about it. Done. Nothing about the bad behavior and my gut suspicions. It really doesn’t matter at this point.

    I also thank God every day for my wonderful attorneys, but that’s between me and God. People don’t want to hear how your divorce attorney is your hero. My close friends also know about that, but no one else.

    What an experience.

  • Six years cheater-clean here… and I can still get a “high” thinking about “outing” Mr. Sparkles. But to what end, it just pulls me back in to his drama and away from Mehtown. I found out early that having one succinct line that sums it all up is the best way to go. Mine to our son, when he was in 3rd grade, was “Daddy got a girlfriend while we were on our family vacation and married people shouldn’t do that.” What else can be said?

    The sooner you remove yourself from the narrative (because you will never control it)… the sooner you can begin your healing.

  • Good advise. They only way anyone knew something was up was when my XW disappeared from my posts on Social Media. My phone blew up, so I did a little post being “almost single” (which I later deleted). That’s it, nothing more. So glad I did. Even the day of the divorce, all I posted was “one chapter of my life just closed and another one opened”. A fellow divorced woman (friend) complemented me on my self control. I didn’t get ahold of her work because of the fraud she committed because I didn’t want it to effect the alimony. I do talk about it if someone asks and I did tell her friends and family which launched a WW2 size smear campaign.

    • The person I most admire on Twitter is a young mother whose husband walked out of the marriage. I don’t know whether infidelity was involved although I doubt it. But I know she loved him deeply and dearly and her heart was broken. She can be very candid about certain kinds of struggles but they are NEVER involved with the kids’ father, and usually it’s clear that she’s neither using social media as a place to air dirty laundry or as a place to curate her impression management of a perfect life.

      Three of my nieces (with kids) have divorced and they made brief note of it on FB and moved on. Two of them live fairly far away so I was glad to know what was going on with them. So I think it’s possible to share some things on social media without vomiting up your agony or creating some sort of false persona who has it all together.

      • Everyone who mattered already knew what happened so I never made any announcement on social media. But those who didn’t know certainly found out when my ex did family pics of just herself and our kids.

        I don’t like the idea of sharing anything on social media about it. No one gives a crap as we aren’t celebs.

  • I certainly made my mistakes in this regard – I remember one particularly mortifying moment of spilling my emotional guts all over the wife of my ex-husband’s client in the grocery store. She was very nice about it, but, really, this virtual stranger didn’t need to be pulled into the fray of my horrible divorce. It’s been five years since I found out about the affair and I still struggle sometimes. It’s particularly hard when I encounter someone new and they have already met my ex-husband and his mistress and have assumed my children are hers. That’s a real trigger. I’ve settled on, “No, they are indeed my children — I remember giving birth to all three of them! The woman you met was their father’s intern while we were married.” Any advice? Is even this too much? It actually came up recently when I found out my ex-husband had my son taking confirmation classes at his church and had not notified me or given my contact information to the organizers. I had trouble getting on the list for parent information and had a conversation along these lines with the priest.

    • I think you are remarkable restrained. I’d be giving that priest an earful, for sure.

      And to anyone who assumes, probably because XH and InternHo have implied it, that those kids aren’t yours, your answer is perfect. Remarkably restrained.

    • No MaisyL I don’t think what you said is too much, why keep their secret? It was short and to the point. And the truth.

    • No MaisyL I don’t think what you said is too much, why keep their secret? It was short and to the point. And the truth.

    • Maisy,
      Good for you setting boundaries and claiming your rightful place and role as YOUR children’s mother. No to being erased and replaced by the abusive cheater’s partner in crime. Stay strong.

  • I definitely overshared regarding the violence and what a bastard he was. It took me ages to shut up about it but at least he couldn’t deny it (well he tried to but it didn’t work). As for the cheating, I just say “I didn’t like his gf” but then I was lucky in that I was SOOOO happy that he became somebody else’s problem. On another note, I shared on Reddit recently that I have a blog and in one of my posts I commented how a blogger in the UK printed her own “exemption from having to wear a mask” attestation on the grounds of distress (perfectly legally) and that I didn’t agree with it, I felt that it should come from a doctor. Well she must have been surfing that day and went apeshit crazy. Basically I was a bitch and “this is what bullying looks like” – it doesn’t I just happened to disagree with her. And this is a blogger who deletes any comments that don’t toe the party line. Well I got so many hits on my blog that day (1,800 as opposed to around 300 normally – yeah, I’m no CL) and every single comment I received was positive, about how she was spreading bad information re covid – like it was a hoax etc. I’ve also seen where she’s commented on other blogs and really gotten to people who work in the healthcare industry riled up about how “covid is just the flu” etc. She’s entitled to her opinion – but then so am I. I desperately wanted to publish a (very politely worded) post about the old crone and her followers but posted it to Reddit instead. And that’s where they told me not to do it – and they were right. Oh I still have the post in my draft folder in case the crazy old cow decides to have another go at me but I’ve left it there. Interestingly she claimed to have had 2,000 hits on her blog that day, but only 25-ish comments, of which 12 were her own replies, so I guess maybe her 2,000 followers didn’t really agree with her. In the end, txs to the CL Reddit people who talked me down!

  • I over shared so much! Told lots of friends and family. Lots of it in writing – very fact based. And now I have to defend myself in court about it. (The judge approved a Discovery request for any correspondence I’ve sent or received about the divorce – so yeah, that can happen)

    But you know what? D-Day and him leaving was when I had a newborn baby, and it threw me into horrendous postpartum depression. I needed to know people supported me. I needed community. I don’t know if I would have survived if I kept what happened a secret.

    If someone thinks I’m crazy for being a mess when my husband abandoned me with a baby, then I don’t want them in my life anyway. Most people have been so sympathetic and supportive.

    1+ year later and I don’t go into the details with most people now. My divorce is crazy and nasty, and it is overwhelming for normal people. I typically stick with, “Shortly after Daughter was born, I discovered that stbx was having an affair.” That’s enough.

    • Good luck in court. If you explain it this way, that he abandoned you with a new born and spiraled into postpartum depression, then whatever you said just reflects back on his monstrous behavior.

      • I’m not too worried. I can legally say what I want in private correspondence. And all my messages support the true story (that I was totally blindsided) The juicy stuff was all from over a year ago, if he tries to argue I’m still too bitter to co-parent. Worst impact should be it showing that my witnesses hate him, and might be biased.

        He thinks I sent a bunch of stuff to his coworkers, which I didn’t. His lawyer was also very upset that there isn’t a paper trail of who I sent physical mail too. So they aren’t going to receive what they are hoping for.

    • I’m so sorry you have gone through this at such a vulnerable time. There’s no sense in comparing pain, I know, but dealing with being abandoned while caring for a newborn seems a particular level of cruelty.

      I hope everything turns out ok with the discovery motion. Will your ex have to disclose any correspondence HE had regarding the affair? Why in our society do we seem to think people talking about the harm that’s been done to them is worse than doing harm! Big hugs to you, Pregnant Chump.

      • Haha… The judge compelled all his correspondence with OW.

        His old email was corrupted, and he lost everything!

        His old phone died, and he lost everything (1000+ texts with OW on the phone records)!

        The OW is a client, so their communication is Confidential, and he can’t provide it!

        His company owns his work email, so he can’t provide any of it! (except for the emails he wanted to provide in Discovery…)

        The judge said he can’t order stbx to provide ‘Confidential’ emails, but he can order the company to do so. So now we have to set up a Motion to Compel against his company (we tried to subpoena them already)

        I didn’t even bother asking for correspondence with other people since I knew he just wouldn’t provide anything. The double standard is infuriating.

  • I wish I had known this advice before I found CL. The most popular RIC board I found first openly advocates exposure and declaration. They also have entire sections devoted to snooping and spying. SOME of it was borderline “iffy” legal.
    Much nicer here.

    • So by their logic, you’re supposed to stay with your spouse, but also expose them and put them on blast? I don’t get it.
      When I found out about cheater 2’s exploits, he told me he wasn’t telling his friends so as not to embarrass ME. I thought that would be the RIC’s general position. Curious!

  • I created a social media profile in which I unloaded everything the cheater had done. I kept it private, but let the cheater know that if I did not get the settlement I wanted I would make it public. So far he has acquiesced to all my financial demands and has not tried any of the usual legal stunts to make my life more difficult.

    While it’s tempting to out a cheater, I think the power lies in what we could say but don’t. It puts you in the driver’s seat if the cheater cares about his/her reputation. If people ask, I will tell them he was unfaithful, abusive and an all around poor excuse for a husband. What more needs to be said?

  • I did not have an “uncle” but did have a wonderful sister who was “my shoulder to cry on” during those first horrible months following DDay. married over 40 years. I had a wonderful psychiatrist also at the beginning except for the fact that he recommended I not do anything drastic (divorce) for at least six months. I know that is highly not recommended but I had not found CL at that time. My sister immediately said “I never like him and never trusted him. There was always something sinister about him”. I never said a word to anyone, not at work, my mother, other family members, no one. I moved away to another state immediately after retiring and had the time and solitude to think. That is when I found CL and CN. I have since told everyone that asks and can easily now say “only one of us respected the marriage vows and it wasn’t him”. At first I thought I was crazy to not tell all our “friends” but now 4 years out it was the best thing I could have done. Those just starting out please take CL advice and keep your dignity. That gives you strength in itself. You don’t have to prove anything. You know the truth and that is all that matters.

    • Most people neither care about one’s heartbreak, nor wish to hear about it. It is no one else’s business anyway.
      Nobody EVER asked me why I am divorced. It is callous and rude. Who does that? If anyone wondered, they had the good sense to be polite and NOT ask.
      For myself, it was no good for me to speak of X at all until I reached the Land of Meh. Talking about him kept the pain fresh. I journaled instead. I was also embarrassed and ashamed of what X had done. Thank God those feelings passed rather quickly.

  • I found out a friend of mine who is married to a sex addict (SA will turn 70 this year and had an affair when she was pregnant long ago and another affair later on with a separate person. In between he was a sex addict. He left her for this second affair schmoopie. They divorced then remarried about five years later after the schmoopie left him and he got in a recovery program and counseling so she accepted him back and remarried him. He has been “in recovery” now for many years) I found out about 9 months ago at a restaurant he goes to regularly, he asks specifically for a particular waitress named Bailey every time and gives her noticeably large tips– way more than the bill itself. He tries talking to her about her life. Bailey is attractive and in her 20s. It seemed to me this was a red flag especially since he is a sex addict and when my friend mentioned on the phone yesterday that her husband would be capable of getting another affair partner even at 70 because he is very sweet and charming to women and people in general but she trusts him now very solidly (she says 100%) because he is recovered and they both have worked through a lot of issues. Their relationship is very good she says. I told her this sweet charm was used in the past on women as a way to get what he wanted. Then for her sake (I would want to know if it were me) I told her yesterday what I knew about the waitress Bailey. She didnt take it well and minimized it. Said she knows who Bailey is and her husband told her its because Bailey reminds him of his granddaughter and wants to be extra nice and help her. That its all innocent. She thinks am angry inside and cynical of all men and need to get into therapy.

    I wish I read this topic yesterday! It would have been better for me not to get involved.

    • OMG, that is my FW father!!! He frequents the same restaurant, practically stalks “Carlie” to find out when she is working, then goes there and leaves her $500 tips! Then he got her number, they meet for coffee and he buys her stuff. First of all, fu(k you, “Carlie” – you are 33 years old and my father is 75. And second of all, fu(k you, “Dad” – you are a narcissistic, emotionally unstable liar, cheater, thief, and predator!


      What is it with these fu(king assholes?

    • “…. Bailey reminds him of his granddaughter and wants to be extra nice and help her.”

      Snort. This reminds me of the rationale ex fuckwit spouted about the rat faced whore. “I think of her as a daughter!” (she’s 20 years younger). I said, “oh, so you want to fuck your daughter?”

      This was after I’d discovered his texts boasting about fucking the whore.

      • It’s hilarious to watch this at the grocery store and the bakery. Most of the 20/30 year younger women look at the men with a resting bitch face. But one girl laps up the attention whilst we all wait in line to order and pay, rolling our eyes.

  • I would add: forgive yourself for over sharing in the early days, if you did so.

    But don’t keep spilling your guts and letting the abuse become your identity for life.

    • This is great advice. When he told me he’s been miserable since he met me and I left the house, I wanted to tell everyone! And I’m sure I overshared especially with his family several of whom I’ve always been closer to than he ever has. I was tired of hiding the truth about his treatment of me. Anyway, I joined a support group, do a lot of journaling, talk to my therapist and many days I have to take it minute by minute just to get through. Work is helpful for some distraction.
      And I ask my friends to tell me about good things or funny things going on in their lives to help get me out of the shit I’m sitting in.
      I surely do agree about not letting the abuse define the rest of my life. I’ll take whatever advice others have to help.

      • Agreed. It is hard sometimes because it seems like all the young people I work with are in an upwards trajectory, happy and busy. Here I am, trying to pick up the pieces and move on. I try to live in the moment. I can smile and laugh and joke. But then I feel isolated and alone as if no one can relate to me and I’m alone. And sad. Trying to find my motivation and things to look forward to but struggling. B

        • I can relate, Anonymous, and I’m sorry things are so hard and sad right now. Velvet Hammer, thanks for sharing all of that. And Mitz, your advice was just what I needed to read.

  • This is probably advice about a specific topic I need to read over and over and over again. I spend my days plotting in my head all of my revenge fantasies. Many of them are:


    Or writing to his old employer saying I know about all the affairs they covered up. Or all the women they promoted for sleeping with my father. Or the fraud they were party to.

    Then in my fantasy I progress to writing letters to all of the women together with all of their emails at the top so they will see that they were part of a very large harem and were nothing special. And/or in that email naming names of who each person is, what she got from him – promotions! free vacations! education paid for! expensive dinners! fancy clothes! – which I would hope would expose them for the whores they are.

    But I would never do that because it is not in my nature.

    Instead, I started a blog and post my writings on there ( without naming actual names (especially my father’s). It is therapeutic to write it down and put it out there even though no one reads it.

  • The psychological trauma that comes from divorce is too much to bare at times. Being betrayed and cheated on and then if you have an ex like a lot of us do, that drags everything out, plots and schemes, uses kids as pawns, hovers back, trying to thwart any progress in your life…really leaves you demoralized at times.

    I told my best friend the other day that a lot of people have hobbies but for nearly two years, my hobby has been trying to get this divorce to the finish line and fighting my ex wife’s craziness off. It has consumed my thoughts every day.

    Regarding dealing with the ex, your “erratic” self will be in the early months fresh from the trauma. Don’t post anything on social media at all. Cut off contact. Try to stick to email even when they abuse contact. I never shy away from telling someone the basics if need be. Although the cheater’s side will want you to protect their image as much as possible.

    But it’s true though that no one gives a crap outside of your family.

    • That hoovering back, is something that is especially bad. My ex did that. Now I knew, that he was still humping schmoopie; yet he would call to “try again” I only fell for it the first time. I kicked him out after a little less than a week.

      Yes, I believe that is for most cases an attempt to destabilize our life and healing process. They just can’t accept that we won’t be spending the rest of our lives grieving for them.

  • I never got into trouble by doing and saying nothing, and justice came for
    many people who slimed my life in spite of it. If you don’t know what to do or say, don’t do or say anything. The way will become clear and so many times I was glad I paused when agitated for at least 24 hours. Restraint of pen and tongue is a great principle.

    That being said, knowing what to say and how to say it and to whom, and how, has been a progressive and ongoing chump lesson for me. I accidentally posted something on FB that was meant for my private infidelity group and I was mortified. I also realized the traitor was not mortified enough to stop himself before driving out family off a cliff.

    In being truthful without editorializing,
    (sticking to facts and leaving out my opinions) I have not only received help but helped others. Helping fellow chumps is in the top drawer of my tool kit, and whether I am helping myself or someone else is a good motivation check.

    In the beginning, every day I called twelve of my friends who had been cheated on. Talking with me was like sitting too close to a forest fire, so I had to spread out the chat sessions with a large support group of experienced women friends I trusted so no one would get consumed by the flames.

    I have not put anything out on social media. People can guess we are divorcing by the change in stories and pronouns. If they ask, I tell them privately.

    Discretion is the better part of valor…I do not want to do or say anything that would validate what said about me or give them an excuse to justify what they did, which cheaters are usually desperate for. I have never before understood “anything you say can and will be used against you” like I do now.

    I am really invested in being the example of emotional maturity. What would Mr. Rogers do? Well, for starters I doubt Joanne would have cheated on him, but I can’t see him pulling a Fatal Attraction move.

    I am willing to go to any lengths to show that what he said about me is a lie, and let him expose himself for the lying liar he is.
    The world is full of people to fool; be fooled me for a long time and I have to remember that Bernie Madoff did too.

    Trusting myself is one of the casualties of having been victimized by infidelity and I am working on restoring it. After all, he validated what I suspected…..

  • That would be a Good Friday challenge.

    Put the reason for the breakup in succinct, headline form.

    – His dating page said ‘single’, so I hired an attorney to make it really true.

    – I decided his hooker habit wasn’t a good financial plan for me.

    – I can’t fix stupid, but I can protect myself from an std.

  • I can’t remember if it was in here or somewhere else, but once it’s all over, I’ll be saying: “We had a disagreement about religion. He thought he was God and I disagreed.”

  • One area where just a bit of extra information was needed was when my marriage was annulled. My ex and I and some witnesses all had separate interviews with the vicar and then I had the opportunity to read over what was said. He had filed for the annulment, (after 21 years of marriage and 3 children) under the premise that I was a bad wife. After hearing the testimony, the church changed the grounds for the annulment to, “quality of person on the part of the petitioner”. I had the opportunity to clear up some questions the vicar had regarding the smear campaign on his part. He genuinely wanted some of the details. When I showed him the text messages proving that my ex bought an engagement ring 23 hours after our divorce and months before he filed for an annulment, the vicar understood that most of what my ex had told him was a lie. I was able to share when it mattered and the annulment reflects the truth of our marriage and divorce. This was one time when I felt sharing a few more details was important and worthwhile. Otherwise, if someone asks, I tell them, “He cheated on me with a student and we couldn’t put our marriage back together after that.”

  • Oh, Chump Lady. How I wish I had your common sense dose of reality advice After my D day. I had the brilliant [heavy on the sarcasm] idea to write the OW a missive describing our wonderful married life together prior to my husbands mental breakdown over work stress and the resulting poor coping mechanism of a silly emotional affair he had with her. (He and I had been reconciled for about 3 months at the time, and I was feeling strong and righteous.) BAD IDEA. She sent the letter to his boss, also disclosing unsavory things they had discussed, etc. He was fired from his job, and it has taken him a very long time to recover (in his career and financially). If it feels good, DONT do it! Lesson learned.

  • Agreed, great advice, but what do we do when it’s too late? Sounds really nice to not match crazy with crazy – though an abuser’s crazy isn’t equivalent to a chump’s crazy, in my book. Unfortunately, I already did almost everything wrong, including sending it. After managing to stay outwardly calm and capable and to keep “our problems” to myself for many years and iterations of reconciliation and Pick Me, it all piled up until something in me broke. I had the sense to leave, but being chumped in a long term relationship and realizing my life was a lie was life shattering; years of abuse was insidious and left scars; and losing my home and community and future and primary relationship (even after learning it was garbage) during pandemic lockdown has been next level.

    I am pretty sure I wasn’t just acting crazy – I was going crazy. I did not feel, look, or act like myself, and it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I couldn’t eat, sleep, feel joy or affection, be rational, regulate emotions. I got in two car accidents, experienced memory loss and scary levels of distraction, couldn’t control impulses (when I’m normally pragmatic). It was terrifying and painful and overshadowed every moment of my sleeping and waking life.

    Unfortunately, when you’re “crazy,” you don’t feel like yourself and do a lot of compulsive, counterintuitive and self destructive things. At least I did, even though I knew better, and it was humiliating and only added to the stress and frustration of an already impossible situation. I believe we shouldn’t stigmatize mental illness, yet I personally feel so much shame. To make things worse, when you’ve been gaslit (gaslighted?) and called crazy for years, things turn meta – and not in a good way.

    I’ve grown inasmuch as I’ve learned that I shouldn’t put myself in situations where my reasonable desires, boundaries and expectations are… crazy. I’m no longer wasting time and energy seeking remorse and compensation from an abusive, selfish coward who will never pay or heal my wounds. I am, however, still humiliating myself by oversharing and emotional vomiting (case in point). Why can’t I seem to stop myself? I don’t like who I’ve become, and I want to return to my ideals and values – for myself and for the people I care about. It’s up to me alone to move forward, but the concept of accountability is confusing the hell out of me under these circumstances (abuse, mental health, gaslighting, mindfulness, values, manipulation… I’m lost). I am so ashamed. Any insights or suggestions, anyone?

  • Next month will mark 3 years from when my (then) wife discarded me and our family. I’m not going to lie; it’s been tough, but I’m proud to say that, for the most part, I’ve taken the high road. Admittedly though, in the early months, I over-shared. Mind you, I didn’t come unhinged; it wasn’t emotional vomit, but I shared more than I should have about my (now) ex-wife’s disordered antics that, at the time, left me mentally and emotionally devastated (I was trying desperately to untangle the skein!). Compare that to today, with “Meh” on the horizon, I now simply (and confidently!) reply…

    “I had convinced myself that I was in a MARRIAGE to someone who LOVED me. I was wrong.”

    • I am convinced that in the early stages of separation things can just become so overwhelming that we reach our emotional and mental capacity for absorbing the magnitude of the Con, for taking it, and we just ‘overflow’. I think it’s necessary lest we truly become unhinged. However, I think that we have to be careful who we share these things with and not just radiate pain and emotional vomit indiscriminately in all directions.

      • Good point, lest we become toxic ourselves. This helps me reframe. Just as childhood trauma, etc., doesn’t excuse infidelity and abuse, nor does being cheated on and traumatized excuse my bad behavior. Everyone on the planet is dealing with a lot right now. I care about healing because I care about being a decent human capable of authentic and reciprocal relationships with others, even if things seem really hard in my little bubble right now. The drama wasn’t mine to begin with, and it doesn’t need to be any more.

  • Thank you ChumpLady for these matter of fact advises.
    In those early moments of soul breaking pain (I speak as a mother here)
    of mental distress, of panic, fear of what may come
    – in those moments, applying these advises is like pushing a boulder uphill. It feels like Sisif.
    When it would be so much easier to let the flow go downhill.

    After going through this hell myself, my piece of advice is this: put yourself together. Get out of the situation, grieve later!
    Pray to find the way out.

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