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Standing on Lies

Thank you Dr. Anna Fels! I urge every chump to read the opinion piece in the New York Times “Great Betrayals” by Dr. Fels. It’s the rare article on infidelity that recognizes the traumatic injury of deception — especially the sort we encounter here at Chump Lady — making sense of the double life.

Fels writes for every chump that’s ever sorted through their family photos after DDay and thought “Oh, Disney World? That’s when she was screwing her boss.” Or “There’s the OW at my son’s bar mitzvah. Wasn’t I the unknowing idiot?” Or wept over her wedding pictures, because really, the cheating began during courtship.

What was real? What was fake? You thought you were happy. Your children had an intact family. Maybe you weren’t really happy. You were depressed, but didn’t know why. You couldn’t understand the nebulous sense of disconnection and conflict that had no source you could point to… except yourself. Maybe if you just tried harder…

But it wasn’t you, chumps. You were living a lie.

Fels writes:

Frequently, a year or even less after the discovery of a longstanding lie, the victims are counseled to move on, to put it all behind them and stay focused on the future. But it’s not so easy to move on when there’s no solid narrative ground to stand on.

deception copyExactly. What’s the story of your life? It’s the hardest thing to explain to someone who hasn’t been chumped — I don’t know what my story is. I thought my life was this one thing (settled, “normal,” “successful,” committed, intact) — and in reality, I was being played. My investment was a Ponzi scheme. My spouse was a con.

Usually, chumps spend a lot of time untangling the skein of fuckupedness precisely so that they do NOT arrive at that conclusion — my life was a lie. They sift through the evidence to find shreds of evidence that they mattered. No, at THIS point we were really in love. She TRULY meant it when she said this. My children were conceived in LOVE. (Assuming my children are really my biological children at all. Pity the chump who has to check.)

Fels writes:

As a psychiatrist, I can tell you that it’s often a painstaking process to reconstruct a coherent personal history piece by piece — one that acknowledges the deception while reaffirming the actual life experience. Yet it’s work that needs to be done. Moving forward in life is hard or even, at times, impossible, without owning a narrative of one’s past. Isak Dinesen has been quoted as saying “all sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” Perhaps robbing someone of his or her story is the greatest betrayal of all.

Yes, but it’s not just robbing chumps of their story —  they were robbed of the opportunity to live an authentic life elsewhere, to not make life altering decisions based on false information, to not waste years of their youth. What does it mean to be robbed this way? Especially in a culture that doesn’t see it as theft at all. Hey, shit happens. People “grow apart.”

How did you piece it back together? For me, I had to simply conclude that I was real. (And in the end, that’s the only person I control, me.) I brought my A game. I committed. I tried to work it out. I was truly happy on my wedding day. I meant my vows. I enjoy the fine May weather. The love of my friends and family. I enjoyed the catering, the flowers, and the iTunes dance mix.

That grinning chumpy woman you see in my wedding pix, who paid the bar tab for one of the OW, and assorted other wedding guests who knew of his cheating? In that moment, she was happy. That naive woman on her honeymoon in Paris? She enjoyed the trip. That’s who she was THEN. That is the story.

When it was happening, with all the evidence she had before her — she had every reason to be hopeful and optimistic. What came months later — the truth of who he was — doesn’t change her.

This is what I learned about that narrative — I don’t need his story to tell MY story. I’ll never know all of what was going on and with whom. I know enough to know it’s disordered and has everything to do with him, and nothing to do with me. I wasn’t living a lie. HE was living a lie.

I like the Dinesen quote “all sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” It probably goes a long way toward explaining why I created this blog. It’s not so much my story, as it is the playbook of cheating. This is how he did this. These are the manipulations that were used. This was my part in staying stuck. Let me describe this to you — it’s a tiger pit. I fell into it once — and I thought I was going to die. Here’s a roadmap so YOU don’t fall into it. Did you fall? It’s okay. Here is how you climb out. This is what happened to me after I climbed out — my life was blessed. I moved on. I fell in love again. I found “meh.”

I left a cheater and gained a life. That’s my story.

***

I ran this post in the early days of the blog. Someone over at Facebook just reposted it, so I thought it might be time to run it again. I think the narrative has changed a LOT since 2013, thanks to CN and Dr. Fels and #MeToo and other people bravely not putting up with abuse. I’ll be posting classics this week as I need the time to work on the new site. You’ll see lots of Spanish translations went up this weekend. A huge shout out to our volunteers! We’re inching closer…

Meanwhile, if you want to see how that Paris thing turned out, see my post on Taking Back Paris with Mr. CL.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I think the hardest part for me apart from my marriage was a con is accepting I’ve never been loved .

    He gets to swan off get remarried , have a new family and I’m left sifting through my memories wondering did he love me then ? What about then?
    What about when we did this ? Did that really mean nothing to him ?

    It’s a painful fact that my marriage and love for him didn’t mean a thing to him .

    But we keep going one step at a time

    • Nobody means anything to them. The person that they ‘swan off’ with means nothing. Nobody does. What matters to them is that their ego is fed constantly. When chumps see behind the veneer they can’t stand it.
      I don’t think we chumps miss out on any good thing when we cut cheaters loose.

      • So true. The hardest part for me was accepting that he never loved our children either. Cognitive dissonance truly had its iron grip on me with that one. Now, I just pity the soulless robot. How sad to go through life unable to care about anyone but yourself.

        • Same. Fw doesn’t love our children either. He *says* he does but his actions say otherwise. He feels connected to me, and when he visits he wants to interact with me, not them. The truth is he doesn’t know the children as he has been absent most of their lives and he doesn’t know how to interact (read bond) with them without me. He is unable to love in it’s most primordial way l, which is as sad as it is concerning.

          I honestly pity the fool. The love for my kids pours out if every pore of my body, and it is sad that for fw it doesn’t come out naturally. He even says it’s hard.

          I don’t believe for one minute that it is “easier” for him to love others, it may be at the begining while the clam still has glitter but that eventually will fade. That is why they all come back and hover later, because the “easy” love becomes hard, because live requires work and reciprocity, work that they are not willing to give.

          If fw spends time bonding with the howorker, of course they will feel that they are connected more, he hardly spend any time with my (our?) kids, so no wonder he doesn’t know what to do, what to ask or even look at them in the eye and say for sure that he loves them. He only loves himself.

          My kids love and respect me, we don’t need him. If he doesn’t want to show, then more for me!

          • I have the same, mine hasn’t visited our children in person in six years. You can say you love them over Skype until the cows come home pal, but no one on this end is buying it anymore. Sadly, that now includes two innocent, beautiful children who I would hurl myself in front of a train for. He won’t even cross the street for them. Insert numerous curse words here.

            And I’m sorry, I in no way intend to make light of what you’ve written because it’s tragic and totally unfair and also completely well written, but…

            ‘while the clam still has glitter’ Bwahahahahahahaaa!! Outstanding. That may be have to be my new band name.

      • Absolutely these types are Narcissiistic and the new supply will also soon be a distant memory on the scrap metal pile!🥶

        • they live for the secrecy and triangulation.
          Once you understand this, it’s child play to mess them up.
          He dares to talk bad about me? I tell him straight: “you’re obsessed with me”. It’s enough to set on fire his “new found love” or peace or whatever.
          I don’t care about the details of their arguments. One word is enough to put them on the edge. That’s how crazy their world is.
          And they so deserve it!

          • Enraged – this is absolutely true – it is the feeling of excitement about the secrecy and triangulation that they enjoy. They were obsessed with me!!! Now it is time for me to get those squatters out of my attic and make room for better experiences and relationships. They are so obsessed with the external and can not fathom how to find peace or joy from within. Good riddance. I really must thank her for getting rid of that dumpster fire for me….

            • As painful as the situation was when it was going down, I still am forever grateful that she relieved me of the fw. She wanted my future and she got it. Thankfully my path took a dramatic turn for the better.

    • Reframe this one. He isn’t swanning off. He’s on to a new mark, and a seriously dim-witted one if she’s the one he cheated with. It takes a lot of time and repetition to really internalize this. The person you thought he was does not exist….you didn’t have that person and no one else gets that person either.

      • “The person you thought he was does not exist” that is a big one to finally get. It’s hard to mourn something that was what a fantasy? Or a person you were conned to believe was real?
        I wonder do our souls know this and we project our love to spackle this?

        • well, one could take comfort knowing that the image they were projecting was mirroring you. That’s the twist of narcissism: we actually fell in love with our own image. We are real.
          Knowing this, we are one step closer to forgiving ourselves.

    • What you lost and the OW gained was a man that always had and will always have one foot out the door. I think instinctively the chump knows this even when the marriage seemed solid. I think the pick me dance starts way before the affair. I’ve been through this and I’ve witnessed couples that one, even though they said the right things, actions were above board, etc., they were not as invested as the other one. The authentic invested one lives to please the fake invested one. I know so many chumps say the marriage blow up happened out of nowhere but if they really look back they’ll remember when the balance shifted and they unconsciously started the “what will keep him/her happy and I’ll do it mode”.

      • KB22
        I couldn’t agree more. That dance began within the first year of marriage but I thought it was ‘normal’ back then and so did my friends. For them it was just a phase, commitment early days jitters that their spouses grew out of and grew up.

        For me it remained and that lingering feeling of his having one foot out the door was a constant BUT oddly, I never imagined cheating. I truly was naive. I believed what I wanted to because he was in ‘recovery’ and therefore, was living a life of rigorous honesty. Never occurred to me he would lie….Oh that sweet young trusting woman…I miss her because now I trust no one!

        • Yep. I miss that young person.

          On the lighter side I sometimes think. I gave up a great looking Sailor for this asshole. (I think of that sweet young man today and hope he had an amazing life, he deserved it) Even if the Sailor had been no better, I could have seen the world. With my asshole, I got stuck in his home town with him as a Police Officer, lying to me for God knows how many years.

          Oh I had my good times, with my son and my friends and yes even with him, when he either loved me or was lying better. But, still you think of roads not taken. Another was going to college, my dad so wanted me to; but no I was in love. 😒

          • Speaking from personal experience, the sailor was probably a narc a-hole, too. That saying about them having a OW in every port is not without good reason. It has only gotten worse with the internet and their ability to juggle them all for never ending kibbles.

            They truly have no soul.

            • I don’t agree with them all being like that. I think there are as many faithful men and women in the military as in the general population. At least that is the stats I have read.

              Also, back when I married, the draft was in effect, most men of marriage age would have been in the military, including my ex who was in the Army.

              My current husband is retired AF and I have no doubt that he was faithful to his wife of 29 years.

      • I 100% agree I think I was doing the pick me dance since day one .

        He didn’t even need to try impress me I willingly bent over backwards for him and he used it to his advantage then just abandoned.

        I seen your comment below also KB22 but there was no reply button but I honestly don’t think he will leave this wife or her him . He is very greedy especially with money and no way he would want to pay for 2 children’s child support . She isn’t working ( maternity leave again ) and relays on him for everything .

        • He may never leave her, or her him. I likely never would have left my fw, but it didn’t change the fact that he was cheating on me and lying to me for years. I just didn’t know. The difference is, she will likely know, and she is stuck because she is dependent on him. So yes, that may be a great set up for him, for her not so much.

          They just don’t change. “He is very greedy especially with money ” that is who she won.

          Take care, and I wish you happiness you never imagined.

          By the way my fw was greedy and selfish with money. For the most part it was going to be spend on what he wanted. I always knew that, but did think he loved me in spite of it. I just am not sure folks like this can truly love anyone the same way normal folks think of love.

        • So your ex cheater is stuck with 2 kids (kids cost a lot of money) with someone that is not contributing to the household, at the moment anyway, he must be thrilled (heavy sarcasm). I feel bad for the kids as he will more than likely be very resentful towards them and he will end up treating (if he hasn’t already) the AP/Wife like something the cat dragged in.

      • I feel this one completely. That WAS my marriage – an endless “pick me” dance because the discard started after the “I Do”. I was always trying to convince him to love me and to stay, so the secretive behavior, trips away from home, hiding out in the garage, and eventual abandonment was not suddenly. It had been building.

      • This is so accurate. I danced long before I knew of an affair. I think deep down I suspected, but didn’t want to be the “jealous wife”. I wish I’d given myself permission to let go then. I took the marriage vows seriously and thought we could work though the issues. I was early 20’s. I even remember crying and googling and discovering narcissism. Somehow, I ended up in therapy and our life just continued, and I stayed.

    • Yes! The realization that I’ve never experienced real romantic love in any relationship, including my marriage, is soul crushing. I gave it freely and abundantly. He took it without genuine reciprocity. I thought I had it. But it was a lie. When he said our marriage “wasn’t real”, was “fake”, and “a fantasy”, I was crushed that he could say that. Now I know that was probably one of the most real things he ever said to me.

      • I am not sure that he did lie, I mean I don’t know your ex, but since all fw’s pretty much say the same thing, I think that could have been the lie. for some reason they think saying that makes them look better, not sure why. But introspection is not a huge skill of cheaters.

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they loved us the way we loved them, they just aren’t capable; but I do believe he loved me and our son as much as he could love anyone but himself. It isn’t much, but it is what it is.

        I do think that given what I know in our life, and how I know his life went down after we divorce, I do think that the years we were raising our son, were the only true “happy” years my ex ever lived, before or after. His years with the whore up to the day he died were just one mess after the other as he continued to search for that elusive satisfying hit. He left her in a huge financial mess. I was lucky to escape that.

      • My love was real. And that made the relationship real on my part and it made my family real and even though he turned out to be a fuckwit extraordinaire, he can’t take that away.
        So booyah and good riddance covert narc x with the continual poopy diaper face.

    • For a long time in my life, I pursued happiness with men (serial monogamist) because I felt such a deficit of that from my FOO. So “I’ve never been loved” resonates with me. But even my own struggle conflates parental love for a child/FOO love with love for a partner or spouse.

      The new story I tell myself is that many people have loved me across my life. But this story takes into account that romantic love can’t fill that old childhood need anyway. That’s work for me to do–to learn how to love myself, get my needs met, take care of myself. Finding a new male partner isn’t going to do that for me anyway. The world is full of people and animals to love, many of who will love you back. Starting with you!

      Kar-Meh, that said–if being married to a romantic con artist is your whole experience of romantic love because of a long-term marriage, there is still time to experience that, once you finish grieving the loss of the marriage and the way your X robbed you of time, love, and the ability to choose.

      • LovecAJackass
        I can really relate to this too. I felt no real love or acceptance in my FOO and I was always told no man would love me anyway I was too fat, too smart,etc. so I believe I was looking for romantic love as a substitute. I likely stayed in my marriage way longer than I should have trying to prove to FOO and others that here is a man who wants me!
        I likely either was ignoring lots of red flags or thinking if I just act right he will change. No such luck.
        I am slowly now recognizing the love of family and friends who really are there for me and we honestly show real care to each other. He was never invested in a real relationship.
        And I really am working on loving myself! That’s a big one. I depended on someone else to love me romantically for my self worth.
        Sometimes I’m just really mad at myself!

        • I think this is part of the story for many of us. But that positive here is that now we know. We know we must love ourselves and that romantic love is not a substitute for what we needed as children. We know! And so we can do better.

    • It should have felt like a slap in the face, but I felt nothing..

      He had been dead over a year and I found a hard drive in my basement and had someone crack into it. There was a file from an Anger Management homework assignment (I didnt know he was in this, he must have gotten in trouble at work)

      It said “I never loved my wife”

      well there it was in black and white pixels on my screen…my worst fear manifest in front of me

      and the world did not crack open and I didnt fall into the abyss.

      That night, the lovely man who hacked the old computer was making dinner for me.

      But I totally get that my life was stolen by a person who did not free me to have an authentic life. He told me “I just wanted someone to come steal you away…he didnt want to be “the bad guy” and EVER be responsible for divorcing me. If he didnt want to be married, HE should have divorced me with some integrity and decency

  • Finally, an article on infidelity that reflects our collective experience! Is it bad that one of my first reactions was that I hope my ex will read this?

    Anyway, this part, in particular, resonates:

    Lack of control over their destiny makes people queasy. Friends often unconsciously blame the victim, asking whether the betrayed person really “knew at some level” what was going on and had just been “in denial” about it.

    There’s no Dramamine for this kind of queasiness.

    And this: FREQUENTLY, a year or even less after the discovery of a longstanding lie, the victims are counseled to move on, to put it all behind them and stay focused on the future. But it’s not so easy to move on when there’s no solid narrative ground to stand on. Perhaps this is why many patients conclude in their therapy that it’s not the actions or betrayal that they most resent, it’s the lies.

    No narrative ground!!! Yes, a thousand times yes!! It’s the lies. And it hits me every damn day, even when I think I’ve “moved on.”

    Just yesterday, my daughter sent a video of her daughter on a toddler swing and I was hit by the memory of asking my then-husband to buy one for her and set it up in our backyard on our already installed wooden swing set, which I had scrubbed to look like new. It was really a non-job; he just needed to buy the rope and swing on Amazaon and install it). He NEVER did it. So I think: “Wait. Did he intend to leave me and sell our house before the baby was even born?” That was in March. DDay was in October. I was in such a fog!

    It’s these constant reminders. The ground forever shifts. It’s tough to get a solid footing. And let’s not forget our kids. The cheaters fuck with their narratives, too!

    Telling our stories to true friends, journaling, and metabolizing our pasts by writing on this site helps. Thanks again to CL for providing this invaluable service.

    I’m NC with my ex and resisting the urge to email a link to this article to him. “If it feels good, don’t do it.”–Mr. CL.

    • ” Is it bad that one of my first reactions was that I hope my ex will read this?”

      It’s not bad–it’s that you still believe that your X is capable of insight and remorse. The only point of his reading such an article would be for him to finally SEE what he did. But as Dr. George Simon writes, “It’s not that they don’t see. It’s that they disagree.”

      It’s a waste of your head space to “educate” a disordered cheater.

      • Amen, LaJ. I still fight the impulse to try to “educate” my cheater. It’s tough, because she seems so confused most of the time, even though she is a tenured professor. We (and our friend group) always shared relevant articles/ideas with one another. On the surface, it *seems* like she could read an article like this and understand my perspective better.

        But no. Because, as I learned over 15 months of trying, STBX can’t have any form of this conversation *with me.* Why not? Two main reasons: 1. STBX has to deal with toxic shame anytime she has to deal with the actual consequences of her actions, and she can’t actually deal when there’s no core self to fall back on. 2. STBX devalued me for years, and is not about to put herself into any discomfort in order to empathize with me.

        So, in a nutshell, as LaJ rightly says, it’s pointless to share a gem like this article with a cheater. Like CL’s entire site, those gems exist to help the abused, not their abusers.

        • Seeing from the perspective of others requires empathy. No article can make someone without empathy develop it.

  • “Yes, but it’s not just robbing chumps of their story — they were robbed of the opportunity to live an authentic life elsewhere, to not make life altering decisions based on false information, to not waste years of their youth. What does it mean to be robbed this way? Especially in a culture that doesn’t see it as theft at all. Hey, shit happens. People “grow apart.”

    That’s one of the hardest things for me. For what I know, but the story might be different because he does not tell the truth so it might be longer, it was 3 years of cheating on me relentlessly with many different people. 3 years where I thought we were solid, and made many decision based on that narrative, and I wouldn’t have, had I known the truth. He took his time not only to cheat on me, but to decide whether he wanted to stay in this marriage or not, all behind my back because I had no idea he was even questioning it. And when he did make the decision to leave it was also unilaterally, I never got a say. He didn’t even come clean, he tried to make me believe there was never anyone else and he just wanted to leave, I had to go and find out about all the cheating.

    “I’ve been trying”, he told me afterwards, and I’m sure he’s convinced of it. But I never had the opportunity to be a part of this trying, because none of this was ever shared with me. I was a NPC in my own life, the truth was taken from me every day for years, so I could never be a protagonist. Sure, people do grow apart. People fall out of love all the time. But why should that be a justification to steal others’ opportunity to play an active role in their lives? Because that’s what you do when you lie to them.

    People think finding out about the cheating was the hardest part, but somehow that isn’t it.

    • I agree. I feel so violated; he made decisions about my future without my consent. I invested my money in a retirement house for us; I quit my job because we planned to retire together and live in that house. But all along he was planning something else without my knowledge. This makes me feel so angry and deceived. And he thinks it makes it better by saying that he wasn’t SURE he was going to leave me. He was still weighing is fucking options. I was an OPTION to him. Well, I was robbed of any options. These cheater narcs can’t even see that!!

      An, yes, I feel I was robbed: “Yes, but it’s not just robbing chumps of their story — they were robbed of the opportunity to live an authentic life elsewhere, to not make life altering decisions based on false information, to not waste years of their youth. What does it mean to be robbed this way? Especially in a culture that doesn’t see it as theft at all.

      Also, this is what I heard a swiss friend say and it still makes my blood boil: “Hey, shit happens. People ‘grow apart’.”

      • *his fucking options

        Great. That’s one typo I’m happy to correct. Feels good to write it again for emphasis.

        • DITTO to all that you said Spinach. I absolutely feel robbed. This morning I stumbled upon a book that the DOCTOR gave me on my birthday a few years ago and he wrote a beautiful inscription to me in it. Made me sad to read it, because I think there was love in SOME form from him, and I do not know where that went. And I wondered, briefly but still painfully, if I had somehow killed what he once felt. Because how could it all be gone?? SIGH…

          As for your moronic Swiss friend who tells you that gaslighting crap about how “people grow apart” – screw them.

          If I hear that from ANYONE,

          I’ll say “if you have not been through a betrayal of THIS magnitude, then do not advise those of us who have. Clearly It’s far too deep a concept for you to grasp.”

          Idiots and blame shifters abound

      • “And he thinks it makes it better by saying that he wasn’t SURE he was going to leave me. He was still weighing is fucking options.”

        Mine says the same thing. Idk why that should make it better, because they never gave us a chance to actually work on our marriage and making informed choices so that we could also have agency and steer our life where we wanted it to be, not just THEM. They took it from us. And the cheating is 100% them testing their new lives to see if they like it while keeping you as the safe choice, see how selfish that is? You’re in the dark thinking everything is fine, while they’re trying on a new identity behind your back.

        People grow apart is not something that can be said about these sort of situations, because people growing apart is not a justification to treat others like dirt.

        • This is so painful to read, even though my cheater said he was never planning to leave.

          I was 2 months from walking away from a job I love, selling our young kids’ dream house in a dream neighborhood, moving away from my parents who moved to be close to us when I got pregnant with our 1st child, and moving overseas for HIS career. Becoming fully dependent on him not just for money and help with the kids, but for my very legitimacy to live in that country. Luckily I forced a DDay and didn’t accept his denials.

          It doesn’t feel like theft of my life (thankfully, I just can’t imagine the depth of pain of some here). But it does feel like theft of my autonomy. Frankly, and I’ve been afraid to say to anyone IRL for fear of sounding insane, it feels like an attempted kidnapping.

          • Yes. It certainly was a manipulation in order to rob you of a life that you would have regretted losing.
            They don’t care.

            • “They don’t care.”

              And that was the nail in the coffin. He had to move overseas alone, and we did virtual marriage counseling (yeah I know… now…) and he was just “so deeply sorry for what I did… Now do you think you could be here with the kids by X date? Here’s a spreadsheet to show how much this is costing me.”
              Go ahead and punch in, I’ll be there by never. Took me four months but eventually I saw the entitlement and manipulation and quit MC.

        • They got to weigh their “options” we didn’t.

          There is no putting lipstick on the pig who used us to their own advantage/power.

      • It’s the feeling robbed of life that gets me the most. 15 years stolen from me. From 22 to 37 years old just stolen and wasted on a pathological lying cheating wife. It hit me today when I seen a guy walking around the store happy with his little girl about same age as mine and it just brings back all the memories and have my family have been taken from me. It is theft. Years I will never get back and I despise her for that.

        • ChumpyNoLove: I feel the same way except he took 28 years. More than half my life and at 50 I have far fewer ahead of me than behind. You only get one life and he intentionally robbed me of mine and I hate his rotting stinking lying guts for that.

          • I hear you. I’m in the same place. I gave him everything from the time I was 26 until I was 46. He didn’t want kids, so I never had kids. Of course there was the one time we had an “Oopsie“ pregnancy. He told me if I had the baby, it would ruin his life. I did not have the baby. Now at 52 years old, I’ll never have a child. Well I ever find the true love I thought I had? Who knows? Fuck him forever for all that.

            • I’m now almost 47 my ex left me when I was 45 after 19 years

              He never wanted children either . He said lots of things from he hated children to he would leave me if I got pregnant . We’ve got a great life why ruin it blah blah

              He’s now got 2 with his AP now wife . I’ll never have that opportunity now but he does . It’s very upsetting

              • I replied to your post above, but the AP now wife has landed herself a guy that will always have one foot out the door. Kids or no kids, won’t matter to him when the opportunity knocks on his door. AP/wife is gravely mistaken if she thinks having his kids is going to hold him…and who wants to live that life?

              • Mine did the same trick! I left him because didn’t want any more children (he already had 2 and I was in my mid-thirties). So I told him to find a woman who was also divorced with children, like him. He found one in 2 months.

                Then for a year, while being with the Mom-Girlfriend, he kept hoovering me, saying he longed for me but the family perspective issue blocked him.

                After he broke up with the MG (he couldn’t stand her son – obviously of a lesser breed than his kids!) I made the mistake to see him. Then he got back in touch with me after that, saying that the child idea “excited” him (he was into all kinds of sexual excitements, and I had a hard time figuring out if this was a serious decision or just some new kind of sexually arousing idea). That was early last year, just before the crisis.

                To make a long story short, we never met. During the first lockdown, when I still believed Human Connection Should Save It All, asked him if he was ok, and he accidentally (?) sent me pictures of him in lockdown in a lovely country house with the mom-girlfriend. Then I told him to go to hell.

                Fast forward one year, he proudly announced on his social media “his family was expanding”, accompanied with just a big picture of Himself. From whom? His friends do not even know.

                But hey, I figured I’d rather be childless than have a half narc-gened kid and coparent with his slimey sexually obsessed presence.

                What can I say, there is no justice… I just wish I had had better judgement. But maybe we’re not the mother kind of type, otherwise we might have prioritised differently. But it would have been nice to have a choice.

                I do know people without children that are super happy & inspiring & hope you’ll find ways to be happy too <3

            • Yes, fuck him for eternity.

              I was coerced into using Plan B after a rare slip-up. I was 32 at the time, had a good job and stable housing situation, had been with my partner for 8 years and was ready to start a family. FW was insensitive to my sadness. It was around that time I first began to realize he felt entitled to make unilateral decisions about our relationship and life together, and that he truly didn’t care about my needs or feelings. The whole episode was pretty bad, even on the surface – and I had zero inkling was cheating on me, too.

              The creep continued to dangle the kids carrot for years. In the midst of DDay #1, he “confessed” in tears that he’d recently daydreamed about our (imaginary) kids running around in the house we were (actually) building together. After DDay #2, hoovering and getting no response, he repeatedly brought up his desire to have children with me, going so far as to ask me not to go on birth control. Almost 40 and high on hopium, I was fool enough to buy it and come back for still more abuse; I can’t even say I was surprised that this topic of conversation was strictly forbidden by the alternately raging/TFC “man” who re-emerged the day after I returned. Even after I left for good, he still taunted me: “I saw a mother with her two little kids today and cried thinking of you. You are sweeter and better with children than anyone I know.” Fuckhead. Of course, he was with another woman by this time – only weeks after declaring his undying love for me as I drove away from my life.

              Memories like this make me wish I could reach back in time and drag myself out of there by the hair. I have a feeling it’s only a matter of time before FW has kids with his next young conquest. I can only hope that I’m to Tuesday by then, because it’s going to test me, no matter how fine I am. I’m not vindictive and don’t “believe in” revenge. I don’t want that sickness on me, and besides, getting back at him wouldn’t give me a family or bring me happiness, so it would be energy wasted. But even if I did want to even the score… I couldn’t possibly. Nothing I could do would come close.

              • I think it is true that nothing we can do will ever even the score. I did learn that early on.

                In my fw’s case he pretty much made one stupid decision after another. I only know of his life of chaos because my son had to deal with some of it. Son is fine, but he sure had some rough times with his dad. Unfortunately they rarely change for the better. They are who they are.

              • bread&roses,

                Yes, you were robbed. He’s an awful person. But have some compassion for yourself. It’s understandable that you stayed. He taunted you with visions of children in your future. He expressed his undying love. It’s hard to resist that and too easy to see in retrospect.

                I’m sorry this happened to you. Your more evolved than I in not wanting revenge. I want his dick to fall off, but that’s just me getting angry on your behalf. May your Tuesday come soon!

            • Theft.
              Childless by cheater is definitely a thing.
              Robbing one of that possibility unbeknownst to the person. A person chosen, for instance, in later years of her fertility window. Then, once there is commitment, withholding and gaslighting.
              Then, cheater having acquired more value in career and money, all the way having been emotionally supported by wife, cheater meets younger woman, and has children—that’s the (spoken or unspoken) condition of younger woman and her piece of insurance. Transfer of wealth. Wife is not awarded damages for all her work (interesting, one of the jobs where one is not payed in this society).
              No to talk about the childlessness, if one had desired children.

              • Variation on theme.
                Cheater gets younger woman and uses up her fertility window as well in his rinse repeat cycle.

          • Samesies … 28 years and at 50 realizing that I will never have the future I worked and sacrificed for.

            He didn’t want anymore children because he was selfish. I am so glad I have the one oops (when I was 21). She is the reason the rest was not a total waste.

            I also deleted the pictures of us together. It made me realize that I was the one that took the pictures. There are so few with me and my daughter. It’s either them or all three of us.

            • I’ve been struggling with this – there are no pictures of me. I was never included in the photos – rather I was the person who took the photos. I’m really afraid to open the case and look at the photos now. What if I wasn’t ever really there? I obviously imagined my entire 40 year marriage. So it’s likely even those precious memories of my children in their younger years was also only imagined. I have been erased. Replaced like a wife appliance in CL’s words. My adult children are adament in their support for their cheater father who “wasn’t getting sex” and so he deserved to find sex elsewhere and “be happy.” They are puzzled why I cannot “be happy” that he is now finally happy. Many days I am still struggling with crisis lines and safety plans. I get a little bit better, but then I just slide back down to fetal position and a heart with a knife twisting inside it.

              • “My adult children are adament in their support for their cheater father who “wasn’t getting sex” and so he deserved to find sex elsewhere and “be happy.” They are puzzled why I cannot “be happy” that he is now finally happy.”

                tallgrass, I am sorry you are going through this with your adult children. I am the adult daughter of a FW father (FWF). I hope they can someday come around to see the fuckery for what is is/was. Perhaps they aren’t ready to process the fact that their own FWF is a liar, cheater, and abuser. It is a hard pill to swallow, I know that from my own experience. However, I would NEVER side with my FWF, never, ever, ever. As I’ve told others, I have compassion for him as a human being who is suffering, but I have zero sympathy for him because he made the choices he made and those choices were to hurt people he claimed to love. Now the consequences are coming back to bite him in the ass. Karma is a bitch and I hope she’s not done with my FWF yet.

              • tall grass, my heart really goes out to you. I’m so sorry you are going through this.

              • Tallgrass,

                Me too. A friend convinced me to have all our home movies put onto a thumb drive so I could watch them and they would make me happy – early days.

                Didn’t work because most photos were of holidays and birthdays and I am the one behind the camera and it looks like he is always there. He was for about 5 minutes on those occasions and then it was me….alone.

                Older kids still not communicative and I get their anger which hurts like hell. My role, always…to clean up the mess and then be grateful.

                I am old now and the gratitude piece is a tough pill to swallow today – hard night last night with a grown child I am struggling with….I know gratitude is for me and not the mess he left me with and that tomorrow will be a new day and I can begin to practice being thankful again….but just for today, I am pissed off 🙂

                Sorry you are going through this too. Please be kind to yourself – or try to be…

              • It sounds like your kids have internalized his selfishness and amorality. How cruel and disrespectful of them to talk to you that way. I’m so sorry.
                Sometimes you even have to cut yourself off from your kids if they are toxic and abusive. I had to do that with one of mine. We have not spoken in over two years.

              • Any children who can be so cruel to their chumped mother do not deserve the term “adult”!

                The lack of empathy and commitment to the woman who brought them into this world is disgusting.

                My heart breaks for any chump in this position.

                WE will stand as your family who will always tell you the truth…
                That you deserve to be loved and respected.
                That you are worthy.
                That you are enough.
                That someone unilaterally changed the course of your life and cheated you of the truth.

                Please know that everyone here has stood in your shoes and we know better than your children.

                Look in the mirror and find the self-love that will help you survive and heal.

                ❤️

              • Tallgrass, your story really got to me. I’ll tell you what I told a Swiss person who spouted the “he needed more sex and to be happy” crap. I emailed it so I still have it, word for word;

                “Actually, he got much more sex than he deserved. In fact, I was the one who was unsatisfied with our sex life. He was so selfish and disconnected that I felt like a blow up doll, used, abused and then coldly discarded when I got older, like a mere object with no feelings. He didn’t cheat for lack of sex. He knew he could have had tons more sex if he’d just treated me like a human being and cared about my needs. He knew it because I told him so. He dismissed it, just plain didn’t give a shit. He cheated because he’s a massively self-centered, unethical person who cannot create a genuine bond with anyone. He knew he was a failure as a husband in many ways, so he ran away like a coward rather than do the work to change. So I’d appreciate you shutting the fuck up with this horseshit he’s sold you about how I was the problem. It was always him, from day one, and I deserve happiness far more than he does because I am a kind, loving person and he is not. But do you care about that? Apparently you do not. You didn’t even ask me how it was for me before you passed judgement. You may consider yourself out of my life if you continue to parrot his selfish false narrative. The choice is yours.”

                I could just picture Swiss idiot’s mouth drop open, flapping like a founder as he tried to come up with an excuse for being such an asshole. He waited several weeks, then he finally apologized and admitted he’d been taken in by fuckwit’s bluster. I also warned fuckwit that if he continued selling that version, everybody he knew would hear about how bad he was in bed. He had the good sense to tell people he had exaggerated the scarcity of sex and that it was not my fault.

                I’m telling you this because I think your kids need a two by four of the truth about their scumbag dad. They may decide not to believe you and be assholes about it, but you will have lost nothing. They already treat you badly and suck up to the creep. You might as well have the satisfaction of telling the whole truth. Right now you are imprisoned by his disgusting blameshifting and in deep pain over the injustice of it. The only way to break free is to at least try to speak truth to stupid. If it doesn’t work, then at least you know what you’re dealing with and can arrange your future accordingly. Best of luck.

        • “It’s the feeling robbed of life that gets me the most. 15 years stolen from me. From 22 to 37 years old just stolen and wasted on a pathological lying cheating [partner].”

          I’m sorry, ChumpyNoLove, and I feel the same. We’re on roughly the same timeframe: 15 years, 25 – 39. I saw a little girl walking down my dirt road at dusk with her dad in the rain, and it was just a ghost ship passing in the mist. I do not have a child – that was another future fake. I turn 40 this week, and I am choked with grief over the years and opportunities that were stolen from me. Motherhood is the most difficult loss to accept. I don’t want to let someone else’s ugliness overshadow my life more than it already has, but the consequences are real and omnipresent. I’m at an impasse, and I feel so alone.

          Is Meh about quitting hopium and accepting that unicorns are actually sparkly turds? If so, I’m there. I’m 100% NC (thank you, CL/CN, for giving me the final push I need) and can finally imagine a future clear of that pathetic, selfish, duplicitous, cowardly cliché (again, thank you CL/CN for the illuminating corroboration). I KNOW my ex is a worthless POS, and my efforts to heal are now squarely focused on myself and what’s important.

          However, if Meh is about feeling ok about what’s happened, returning to oneself and embracing current circumstances, I have a long way to go. I’ve read enough here to know Meh and Tuesday are possible, but it seems like this process takes years under “normal” – i.e. not global pandemic – circumstances. How did you chumps have the stamina, strength and optimism to play the long game?! I’m in awe, and just a little bit hopeful.

          • Have hope! I am 41 and been saving for a few years for a surrogate to help me have a child. There’s also adoption and even volunteering. There are ways to involve children in your life still!

            • Thanks, InnocenceLost, for the kind words… not lost on me. I’m a teacher, volunteer and doting auntie, and I will always have children in my life, even if I’m never a mother. Also haven’t ruled out the possibility of becoming a stepmother or foster mother, though it’s not currently in the cards.

              I’m fully aware that many folks lead perfectly content and fulfilling lives without kids, as well as without partners, and I’m determined not to let this ruin my life. It’s just not what I wanted or imagined, and I’m grieving the loss of something that never was. This doesn’t mean there isn’t also a lot I’m grateful for.

              I love that you are going after what you want, IL. Sending admiration and warm wishes your way.

              • Bread&Roses I can so relate! I’m turning 39 this year.. It’s just dead painful. But as mentioned above, let’s not be too hard on ourselves. We also have a lot of love to give and receive from other people, if not children.

                All the best!

          • Bread and Roses,
            One of my high school classmates fostered quite a few children with her husband and they adopted their son when he was a teenager.
            A former colleague married for the first time in her late forties. She and hubby adopted two boys from China.

            • 33-59 here. No children and he withheld sex as soon as I reached menopause. Long-standing, long-distance affair with ex school girlfriend. I found emails 2 months after he left although he has consistently denied the affair. Discarded by his family too. Left me when I had no job as part of a planned retirement towards a portfolio career.

              I have rebuilt a fantastic life over the last 15 months. However, I will never forgive the lies, the stealing of my past and my future. The destructive way he left, the devaluing of everything we built together, every holiday (he didn’t enjoy any of them apparently), the devaluing of me and my achievements (I wasted my talents, I was told). He is, of course, now a step parent. The cruelty and bullying from him and his family to whom I had been consistently kind and generous. I wish all of them nothing but ill-winds.

              I am in intensive therapy to recover from the trauma and to work on myself. Much of what is said above and below resonates strongly with me. It is a hard, long, painful struggle. All in a UK COVID lockdown doing it on my own, save for my wonderful bubble and online fellow chumps both here and in my other online life.

              I can look back on my life with immense pride. I am finding excitement for the life to come. I will always be the mighty woman I am; he will always be a disordered, empty shell of a man.

        • It is absolutely theft.

          You and I lived loved and reacted to what we thought was real. They were just doing a walk through. Using us as place holders.

          It is the hardest part of the whole mess to get over.

          • It is absolutely theft!

            27 – 59 here. I too lived, loved and reacted to what I thought was real. Turns out I was simply a “prop” in his move. Haven’t looked at the family pics in several years, too painful. Nothing with him was real IMO.

            Five years out and still ponder “who does this” apparently more than we know!!

      • 👍

        “I invested my money in a retirement house for us; ”

        Same here. I have mentioned the last year we were together he convinced me against my better judgement to buy a River Property for our “retirement” Oh we would have just joy frolicking with our future grandchildren. It was a convincing argument.

        He knew he was getting ready to dump me, and go off with the whore. Oh I don’t think he was planning on dumping me as soon as he did, I think he was planning on another year, then someone dropped a dime and things got nasty at work.

        But he still conned me into making a financial decision that was based on a lie.

        The only good thing is, he and schmoopie gambled everything away, and had severe money problems all of their time together. I am sure he made some good money on the River property, but he gambled it away and filed bankruptcy.

      • UGH!
        “Hey, people grow apart!” NO!

        This is so freakin assinine to say to someone who has been cheated on and left. There is a world of difference between two people who allow themselves to grow apart with normal marriage break downs and a deceitful pile of dump who is lying and cheating.

        What the assinine person who says things like that isn’t getting is that while your ex is supposedly deciding on whether or not he wants to leave you for a whore he’s screwing behind your back or just to leave in general so he’s free-er to screw more whores without having to hide it, he’s PRETENDING with you at home. You think everything is peachy keen. He tells you he loves you. He holds your hand, sleeps with you and next to you every night, and he’s even actively planning a future with you to your face. “We’ll go on vacation there next year. Hey, let’s do this to fix up the house!”

        It’s less often that I see a betrayed spouse say they weren’t surprised to find cheating or speak of a marriage filled with conflict and break downs or indifference. Usually it’s total shock: “I thought we were okay!” “Sure, we had some stressors but we were still good!” “Things were totally normal one day and then the next everything went to hell” “Our marriage was actually happy and good!” Spouses really didn’t see it coming.

        Sure, there could be signs and red flags betrayed spouses missed and will look back on and be able to see it later, but those red flags weren’t missed because the betrayed spouses were stupid or delusional. Those were missed because the cheaters made sure they were missed. They buried their mistakes and weirdness under loving behavior, normalcy, plausible excuses when weirdness was noted and brought up, and they used your shared history of a good relationship against you so you give them the benefit of the doubt.

        Growing apart, fighting a lot, having indifference or resentment or a lot of conflict make things much easier to understand and deal with than someone who is actively and purposely deceiving you every day to make you think everything is good or normal and then dropping a bomb on you. Cheaters and assinine people who shrug telling you “people grow apart, it happens” can eat and choke on the shit that spews out of their stupid mouths.

        • I tried to copy and quote the best part of your statement, but it is all gold and it is all what these idiots who make inane statements need to be told. It is what the RIC need to get a handle on, rather than keep victimizing the betrayed.

        • That is such a good description of how this played out for me too. Future faking even to the point of getting married 1 month before he blindsided me and left. We had been together 22 years at that point and just bought another property. It won’t surprise anyone to hear he is now concealing assets whilst demanding huge sums of money from me.
          The amount of lies he continues to tell are just astonishing but having said all that, it’s a gift because thank god that excuse for a human is out of my life. Once you start to see what really lies behind the facade there’s no going back.

    • Spot on, vee.

      On the night the Kunty Kibbler raised the “open marriage” question was raised, what came out was a half-hearted attempt of a back story . . .

      – “I actually had a session with a divorce attorney last year, because I wasn’t sure I really wanted to continue in the marriage.”
      – “She was the one who advised me to try couples counseling, because of all of the residual effects I’d need to consider before taking such a drastic step.”
      – “I began individual sessions with [a different 1:1 counselor] so I could figure out what I wanted for myself going forward, and if it was possible for me to find it in this marriage.”
      – “I spent the entire spring and summer working through the issues in my head, when I suddenly became acquainted with [AP 1].”

      I’m positive she meant for it to illustrate the ‘effort’ and ‘sacrifice’ she’d been supposedly put in to finally arriving at open marriage as the most viable solution to the (her) problem.

      What it actually shows is exactly what you say: “…never having the opportunity to be a part of this supposed ‘trying,’ because none of this was ever shared with me. I was an NPC in my own life, the truth was taken from me every day, so I could never be a protagonist.”

      And more to the direct point — finding an excuse, in the form of AP1, to start figuring what her “do over” might look like when the shit inevitably hit the fan.

      • Exactly! Discovering that the cheater was writing a scene for you, planning the denouement, without your knowledge or consent, is beyond upsetting.

        We feel used and weak. We were pawns in their chess games. We didn’t even know about the game. We thought we were people with full agency, but we weren’t.

        • Yes, not knowing we were being judged and strategised on. Being weighed up when we thought we already had commitment. Pawns in a game we didn’t know was going on.
          I feel foolish but he is the actual fool!

      • UX: I’m often struck by how similar KK sounds to my STBX, who is also a woman. These dramatic scenarios they spun out in their own heads, months or years before telling us anything about them. Manipulation (“I might leave you if you don’t pick-me-dance”) framed as “honesty.” All so self-absorbed and disordered! Those actions/behaviors alone should be red flags, let alone evidence of actual cheating.

        Goodbye to them, and good riddance! All best to you.

    • “But why should [falling out of love] be a justification to steal others’ opportunity to play an active role in their lives? Because that’s what you do when you lie to them.”

      100% this.

    • We are robbed of the opportunity for an authentic life. He knew he was incapable of monogamy and truly loving me. Yet, he went through the motions. He was so miserable, I see that clearly now. He wasn’t honest with me about anything from the beginning. Then when I discovered an affair he could have been honest, but no he continued to drag me along. He used the kids and me as his happy front to the world. Behind the scenes making his secret life, with time he spent more time in his own world. These were all things had I known the truth I would have made different choices.

      It seems as though he was always planning, preparing, waiting for me to figure this out. Like his exit strategy was always there.

  • For me, I had to go back and reclaim anything that I could.
    I needed to be with my memories, especially the memories of the future I was planning.
    At the same time, it’s confusing, because that future is not there to be had.

    Nothing looks like it, even I am different by now, not just my circumstances.
    It’s a lonely place to be. No future. No past. A shaky present.

    • It is so disorienting, Quetzal. I recently stopped therapy because I was so confused and overwhelmed that I needed a break. All of the compassionate and logical advice and wisdom and strategies make sense and sound great in theory, but they so often seem contradictory and I struggle to put them into practice. I’m beginning to think it all boils down to time, tenacity, perspective and (ugh) more mental gymnastics… fake it till you make it and mind over matter. Oh, and luck.

      • bread&roses:
        Your comment really resonates with me. I think that ordinary talk (individual) therapy can be really draining for chumps. (I would never advocate doing couples’ therapy with a cheater.) Talk therapy sessions can be very triggery. I would suggest trying EMDR or another trauma-centered form of therapy instead. I find that EMDR sessions can still get to a deep place – and I often get emotional during them – but they don’t feel as draining afterward. I can get back to my day/life faster. I hope they are helping with the trauma triggers!

        Someday, way down the road when I’m in a very different headspace, maybe I could try talk therapy again. It takes a very special therapist to be able to work well with trauma, and unfortunately there just aren’t enough trained people in my area. All best to you, b&c!

        • Thanks, LC. I’ve been wanting to ask here if there were any particular modalities people recommend for betrayal, being chumped, etc. I have heard EMDR can really help. I hope you’re able to connect with a good therapist, yourself. I’m guessing you’ve already considered it, but the recent explosion in telehealth might motive the options available to you?

          • EMDR can be an excellent and powerful tool towards recovery.
            Make sure you find someone who has proper training and didn’t just take a short course.
            Done right, EMDR may cause some short term distress but won’t last more than 24 hours. It can make a huge difference to process trauma.
            The website https://www.emdria.org/ is a great place to find the best people.

  • I think for me, once FW’s mask came off, I started to slowly piece together that he was never really present in the marriage – especially after our son was born. I’ve always been independent, so when FW didn’t do much, I made the fun. I booked the trips and planned dates and the things to do on the weekends. And when FW sometimes wouldn’t come or just be an argument waiting to happen, I went anyway. I’d take my son and have a great time. FW would be a boring lump on a trip. I somehow didn’t see it altogether in the moment. I just kept going and thinking he’s just introverted and procrastinates and would always rather just read a book (all of this is true – so I just accepted that must be it). But when FW left, it wasn’t until my own son (9 at the time) pointed it out that I better understood it. “Mom, you were always the fun on a trip!” It still took me time to look back and go through his skein of fuckedupness. The trauma didn’t help — especially for more than a year after DDay. But with my new lens, I look at those pictures and laugh a little. Ah… this is the trip to Universal theme parks that son and I loved — and FW grumped that he hates Harry Potter and isn’t into comic book characters like Spider-Man (both of which son and I adore and enjoy together). Oh yes … the trip to London, where FW worked for 4 out of 5 days … but son and I toured everything just the 2 of us and had an awesome time!

    F*** FW. I took back my narrative. He’s an idiot.

    • Hey MichelleShocked!
      First of all, very cool username!
      Your experience resonated with me. This was also the first step towards my healing.
      When I got chumped, I kept thinking “he was so interesting. we had such a wonderful time together. we always went to the most interesting places. we were a very active couple.”
      but the truth is, I was planning all those events. I was in a relationship with myself.
      Whenever he planned something interesting, he always went with his friends and left me behind. It was always the same “I need some time with my friends. I thought you wouldn’t be interested. or even the worst one, “I am sorry, I somehow forgot to tell you about it.”

      Remembering that I was the fun was the first step to remembering who I was before he totaled my self-esteem

    • MichellShocked, I can relate. I did all the planning. He came along and usually ruined every vacation with his foul moods and rages. Still, I planned big and better trips. He and I met and married in Key West, took a cruise afterwards. I wanted to book a cruise or exciting vacation for our 20-year anniversary. I thought we had finally made it. He had other plans. Met up with his old GF, went on cruise with her, to Key West! It makes me sick. He is repeating our vacations with someone else. He even books ski vacations were we used to go with his new GF(s plural now hat we’re divorced and he is playing the ladies.). My kids think it’s weird. I think it disgusting, but that’s who he is. I was the fun one, but I don’t plan trips like I did. Somehow all the fun has been sucked out of that.

      • He’s not a planner, because that’s too much work. So he just copies your plans because he knew they were successful.

      • ChumpTo TheMax –
        FW did the same. He immediately took AP to San Francisco (where we met and then had our honeymoon). He started duplicating all of our trips… with her. My son was the most upset by it. My son also was really bothered that his dad bragged about going to Paris with AP — when Paris was THE place my son had been begging to go to (he’s been enamored with Paris ever since seeing Ratatouille). But knowing that ex is a dud (he’s seriously about as fun on a trip as dragging along a box of rocks), I reminded my son (and myself) that wherever FW goes, there he is. Son thought about this and laughed — he concluded on his own that “Dad is boring”… “He’s no fun on trips.” Exactly, kid. And Paris? AP clearly drove that. FW hates all things French and I’m sure he was mortifying to his Francophile AP who majored in French. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall of that sh*t show of a trip LOL! So rest assured…. if FW is using your ideas, he has none of his own. There’s no more to be had from you. And he’ll need to leech off the next one. I have long since reached meh. If anything, I get a lot of laughs thinking of how little fun she’s having.

        Find your fun again. You will. You’re the fun one and you can be better than you ever were with dead weight.

    • I do that that is a positive to look at, the kids and I were happy. The things we did and do to make the fun and give them good memories those are real.

      • I’m finding it difficult to tease out those times.

        He was absent (work, golf, hockey, fishing, girlfriend…whatever floated his boat), so it shouldn’t be difficult. But even those good times with the kids have a pall over them right now, mostly because I think my kids should have had a good dad who WAS present.

        I guess I’m just angry.

        • Spinach@35 – There’s only one person you can control: you. We all wanted a good dad (or mom) for our kids. We wanted both parents to be present.

          But, sorry… tag, you’re “it.”

          And I’m “it” too for my son. I am now my son’s world. And I can make the fun. In the past, it was just me who made the fun anyway. It’s ok. Let your FW ex do what he’ll do. You are the one that will make things great (and happy and safe) for your kids.

          These FWs are selfish and myopic. We can’t make them see what they’re missing. It just doesn’t work that way. And it’s not our job. Just focus on the kids. You are their world.

        • I totally get that. I’m just determined not to let him taint the good moments of my children being little. For example a certain beach trip we took the children loved it. They have the best memories. It was d-day for me one year. I’m choosing to think about the good times I had with my children, not the fact that he was screwing one of the ow. That is his to own and carry.
          You have every reason to be angry.

  • This article exactly voices the feelings that have made my life intolerable since discovering my wife of 18 years’ web of lies and deceit towards the end of 2018.

    I’ve been telling people all along that the thing that is really difficult to come to terms with is the theft of my personal history. With the collapse of the foundations of my life and memories, it is almost impossible to even consider planting the first brick in the wall that must inevitably be constructed if I am to survive and somehow rebuild my life.

    The best that any of us can do is to try. And to keep on trying. Last weekend I spent two days deleting more than 44,000 photographs and videos of my ex-wife from my computer. I didn’t like to risk being reminded of my fake past every time I opened the Photos app. It was an arduous and upsetting task but one small step that had to be made towards the future.

    Sending all of you my love. x

    • I have also been working away on deleting all aspects of my ex wife. I keep all of the kids but I’ve deleted all to do with her and her family. I want absolutely nothing to do with her, nor her memory. She is dead to me.

      • That’s exactly what I’ve done. Any image which features her or her, frankly, weird family is gone. Just me and my daughter left.

        • It is devastating, and I feel exactly the same.
          I don’t want to keep any photos of myself from ages 21-46, because they inevitibly include her. It’s like I never got married and had two kids with the woman I loved. I was just a sucker waiting for the devastating betrayal and end that would come after. I’m looking forward to the day when my son turns 18 and I won’t have to see her at all anymore for handovers.
          Luckily I was never much of a photo fan so I had a lot less than 44,000 photos to get rid of. That must have really sucked. But it is horrible that I can’t look back at my life through photos and enjoy the memories anymore.

    • I am into genealogy. So I CANNOT delete or throw out pictures as that is history. That is history of my life and my kids. Genealogy helped me heal as life is messy for everyone.

    • Ah Back To Reality,
      I strongly suggest taking those photos, putting them on a stick or in a box, and storing them away. Give them to a friend to hold.
      First, they are the whole story of part of your child’s life.
      Second, there may be a time you can look at them again and not feel the gutting pain.

      I’m the chump that had the OW next to me at my son’s Bar Mitzvah!

      She still has the photo he took of her during the reception on her Facebook page. But it doesn’t matter anymore and I can even laugh about it!!

      Since I was “lucky” enough to have had her at both my kids’ Bar Mitzvahs, I certainly couldn’t throw away the beautiful albums of THEIR history. She was at enough family vacations and business events that I would have had to throw away so many photos where me and the kids were truly happy.

      It’s over 10 years since DDay and almost 8 since the nasty, horrible but successful-for-me divorce. Enough time that I can let go is so much. Not everything, but enough.

      Please reconsider your child before giving into the impulse to just discard. I truly get it!

  • We are still the heroes of our own stories, the faithful, loving and trusting protagonists. It’s just that there has been a massive plot twist and the true villain of the story has been revealed.

  • This is why the “I was unhappy for years” most of us hear after the cheater is exposed is such complete bullshit. If I hate a restaurant, I don’t keep eating there.
    They stick around an awfully long time for being so unhappy. That right there is at the very least proof of stupid. They are VERY happy filling their black holes where a soul should be until all the loyalty and life is sucked out of the chump. Then on to the next mark. Getting into illicit relationships is NOT an sign of emotional intelligence.

    Just Friday I got another “apology”. It went like this:

    “I’m sorry. I should have spoken up when things weren’t working and told you that things needed to change or I’m out of here!”

    Hmmm. Let’s review.

    He has a LOT of relationships that “aren’t working.” The one with me. The one with his daughter. The ones with cheating accomplices. No long-term friendships.

    I think HE is the secret ingredient in his list of non-working relationships. A very common denominator who found another very common denominatrix to forge another dysfunctional duo with.

    I was being honest about what I said, what I thought, what I felt, what I was doing, and who I was doing it with. That is all I ever have control over at the end of the day.

    • “If I hate a restaurant, I don’t keep eating there.
      They stick around an awfully long time for being so unhappy. That right there is at the very least proof of stupid. ”

      I think it’s worse than that. They want to keep us close for as long as it suits them, because we are familiar and a safe line, while they try all the other restaurants. It’s deliberate. Being honest jeopardises their security, because once they’ve told you the truth you’re free to make your decisions and also they’d have to actually make an effort at saving the relationship, rather than just take the coward way out and cheat.

      • Agree.

        The point is that a lot of what they say makes no sense and there is nothing they will not lie about.

        • Right!

          “I’m sorry. I should have spoken up when things weren’t working and told you that things needed to change or I’m out of here!”

          Mine would write the same. He probably has. Who the hell can remember? It’s so infuriating. I agree with you, VH. These people lie. They have crappy relationships with so many people. This excuse is their way of blaming the chumps! We weren’t good enough. They were being a bit too kind in not mentioning it sooner. Didn’t want to hurt our feelings, I suppose. That’s their only fault. Dammit.

    • I heard that too “we never were happy and this marriage has always been troubled.” Yes it sure was bc he was lying and cheating the entire time. His deep down self hatred comes spewing out at me, in the most awful ways. The circular arguments and conversations that never made sense and were never to be resolved, just kept him in the power seat and me exhausted. The late night waking me up so I never rested. The dollars he hoarded and breadcrumbed to always give me something else to worry about. The daily tasks that were stacked so high I was always busy and never accomplishing much. He did this all on purpose. And then says “our marriage was always troubled.” Yes it was bc I married a person interested in power and control and unable to have a true relationship.

      • Longtime Chump, mine did that too, kept me awake, literally would come in at night and bang things to wake me up, even though I was the one with the higher paying job and was supporting us. He would be angry I dared try to sleep! I was so exhausted, there were weekends I could barely pull myself out of bed, but I had to be there for the kids’ events and sports. He bailed on that too, his low paying job was so much more important than mine. Seemed the more I did, the more he tried to unravel it. It’s crazy making and thank God I got out, but over 20 years of deception have taken a toll.

        • So typical of them to belittle our efforts and elevate theirs. I know what you mean when you say how your job was the important one for your family yet he expected a level of treatment for his efforts that was not given to you in return. This was something I experienced as well. It’s so confusing when living it. And the loud banging to wake you, it took me forever to realize this was a purposeful tactic!

      • I too have come to believe it’s all about power and control. Those circular conversation blame games were nearly the death of me. Weird punishments and satisfaction, too, that I only saw after the fact. And yeah, no wonder things weren’t good! They were miraculously good considering… FW was an abusive, cheating, lying, entitled, porn-addicted man-child. Mine was also an alcoholic for years (not judging alcoholics, but life is hard when you live with one, and my ex was not concerned with my needs being met). Why don’t we chumps start playing the “the sex was terrible/nonexistent” card? That’s the very least of it, but come on! I think that could be a Friday topic.

        Um, my posts today are definitely the antidote to “feel good” emails. Sorry, chumps, and thanks. I’ll take a cue from the cheaters and blame the day off and looming milestone birthday. In reality, I’m just mad and have nowhere else to go with it.

        • “Why don’t we chumps start playing the “the sex was terrible/nonexistent” card?”

          This is a very good point. Because my ex really wasn’t that good at it, and in fact a part of me is surprised he found as many people as he did to sleep with. Everything had to be like straight out of porn. And sex had to be offered whenever whatever, with zero attempt at seduction of any type. And yet cheating on him didn’t occur to me, because I valued what we had a lot.

      • This is really weird. Mine did the same regarding waking me up. When my son was a baby he had croup and I was up with him all night. Finally in the wee hours of the morning the baby was asleep and I crashed. Then here came my husband clumping around loud as can be and kissed me goodbye making sure I was awake before leaving for work. He knew I had a sick baby and not much sleep, why do he do that?

        Another time he himself was sick and coughing a lot. He would sneak in slobbery kisses even though I told him not to kiss me because I didnt want to catch what he had. He said ‘forgot’ and kissed me anyway. Fortunately I must have been immune because I never did come down with it.

        So is this knowingly inconsiderate and cruel or clueless because they only think about themselves?? I seem to think both.

        • It is so weird to compare chump notes and learn about what of all the cheater similarities… or should I say, “idiot-synchracies”!

          This rude awakening theme reminds me f a recent post in which several chumps (myself included) commiserated about aggressive bedhogs. Since then, a friend (chump in spirit, even if not cheated on) who was married to an emotionally abusive narcissist for 40 years recently confided that her husband routinely scratched her with his horrible, sharp toenails, never apologizing and sometimes drawing blood. For decades! I almost died because my ex did the same exact thing. Her confession dissolved my bitterness over that relatively insignificant offense on the spot.

    • Yeah, that was a justification that Best Regards repeated to me and his therapist and all our friends and anyone who would listen while he in the process of exit-affairing me:

      “I told her I was unhappy, but nothing changed.”

      Man, that was quite the mindfuck. It worked really, really well to get me to take the blame and to trigger the pick-me dance for quite a while, until I woke up to the following truths:

      1. Other people don’t make us happy, and other people don’t make us unhappy. Pinning the blame for your unhappiness on someone else is therefore abusive bullshit.

      2. Any problem in a marriage (I’m not talking abuse, just normal marital problems) takes two people to make and two people to solve. So, presenting your spouse with a list of things that make you unhappy for them to “fix” is also abusive bullshit.

      3. When the person saying “things need to change or I’m out of here” is the ABUSER in the relationship, that is also abusive bullshit.

      It took me a long time to process and neutralize the shame that came from this “I told you I was unhappy” mindfuck because, as with many forms of narcissistic abuse, what it does is invert and weaponize a normal response to abuse. It is normal for a person who is being abused to say, “If you don’t stop this, I’m out of here.” However, when the person leveling that ultimatum is the ABUSER, it becomes just another form of gaslighting and control.

      Unfortunately, I see this mindfuck supported by therapists who aren’t trained to recognize narcissistic domestic abuse. I sadly also see it repeated on some support forums for victims of narcissistic discard, who say something like, “He didn’t even give me a chance to change the things that were making him unhappy!” Spoiler alert: THERE IS NO WAY TO MAKE AN ABUSER HAPPY. They are miserable human beings who make everyone around them miserable. That is their special magical power.

      I would really like to see this bullshit narrative of “I told you I was unhappy and nothing changed” or “I should have told you I was unhappy so you could fix it” STOP.

      • Oh, and I should mention that the things Best Regards was “unhappy” about were either ridiculous (“You won’t run 32 mile races with me”) or totally nebulous/vague (“we argue all the time”). Nothing specific, concrete, and actionable. That’s another hint that it was ABUSIVE BULLSHIT.

        • This happened to me too. I was told by my stbx that he has been unhappy since he met me and in counseling when asked why he needed to hang out with young college girls said loudly “because they make me happy!”.

          He rarely worked, I was the main supporter. I was always there for him with numerous illnesses and I included him in any decision about the house, vacations. He got to go on daughters school field trips while I was working.
          So his unhappiness? In counseling he complained that I got the bigger bedroom closet, I got a new car, (we alternated who got new cars and he could have gotten one if he had not decided to retire so early). He complained that I expected him to be ready in time when we were going somewhere. These are a few examples of his unhappiness.

          When he told the counselor I blame him for Everything— I asked for examples. He got angry and said see now you’ve caught me off guard I can’t think of anything specific now!

          As a friend told me, he is a petty little man!

      • I think for me at least what I lament is that I was never informed of any unhappiness. In fact, when I did question him about certain behaviours that would suggest he wasn’t as happy as he claimed, he’d lie to me. Maybe there wouldn’t have been a way to fix it even if I did know, but I have those texts conversations saved, and what hurts is that I gave him plenty of opportunities to talk things through with me, but he always chose to lie.

        • Yep, when I questioned him as I began to notice him avoiding me and getting angry over silly shit, he said “Oh it is just all the pressure of my new job” “I will make it up to you, sorry etc” I guess he still wasn’t sure how much longer he needed me as a prop in his plan.

      • Liar Cheater Thief blaming others for their unhappiness and needing other to change = laughable.

        I’m pretty sure that the unhappiness is self-inflicted and the person that needs changing is the Liar Cheater Thief.

  • Yep – the lies are the worst part. They are used to both cover up the cheating and justify it for others. Whether the chump is the mother of young children or the solo, aging woman, the lies re-write the narrative and the trajectory of real lives.

    • Yes, there is only one truth when it comes to cheaters: they are abusive pathological liars. Their judgement and morals suck, and realizing what absurd, predictable losers they all are is what has allowed me stop trying to unravel the skein of who he is and what he did. Nothing is real, not even (especially not!) the stories they tell themselves, and there’s nothing to figure out (as many other chumps point out here). From this distance, “my” FW is now just as repulsive to me as all the other cheaters I know or see on tv.

      With a cheater, it is a constantly mutating narrative, and as shameless and unsophisticated as it is – it’s shockingly effective in the moment! Thank god I see this nonsense for what it is and have stopped writing “feel good” emails now.

      Imagine yourself in a room with “your” cheater, your friends and family, their friends and family, their AP(s), your individual and or couples counselors. Then imagine trying to unravel the skein. The chump narrative… would be damn similar, if not the same, from all angles. We weren’t perfect but we were authentic and we cared and tried. If we were asked to answer for ourselves, we could do so without lying. The cheaters? Not so! It would be a different story/stories from every person in that room, and they would only be able to defend themselves with word salad. And we still wouldn’t get to the bottom of it because it’s not real! And who knows what other undisclosed APs wouldn’t even be in the room. This hypothetical helps when I question my reality, even still, and when I let my ex’s narratives and gaslighting come back to haunt me.

  • This perfectly sums up what it’s like to be in a relationship with a cheater. Thinking over the relationship and realizing, wow even then they were lying and cheating. It takes a lot of purposeful deceit for affairs to take place. These individuals lie about nearly everything. Doing the postmortem on the relationship and realizing “oh that’s why they were so happy then” or “they were being so mean” and “that’s why this women said or did that” – bc he was f-ing her too! It feels like your life was fake, like your spouse was nothing more than a con artist. Most of these cheaters also have other areas they are abusive. Mine was financially abusive, so it seems like if we had a business contract he’d potentially be criminally prosecuted, but since the contract was marriage it becomes a legal battle of assets.

    The married to a con artist feeing just makes me nauseous lately and it’s the phase I’m currently hung up on. I’m glad to know it’s normal and actually healthy to put the realizations together. My spouse knowingly did all he could to deceive and trick me, he did all he could to convince me he was a good guy and that I was the really flawed one. The purposeful way he went about this, from the very beginning is so scary to me. He would have fits or act like I had done something wrong, when in reality he had. Meanwhile I danced on eggshells trying to keep the peace.
    He knew what he was doing, it was all so he could have power and control. He is a sick man.

    Sadly where I live it seems the #metoo movement and other women rights movements have fallen on the sword of the patriarchal society. I hear so many women say “but the grass isn’t always greener” “you stay together for the children” “it doesn’t matter what you want it’s the family unit”. I find that many of these women are in abusive relationships themselves and are more convincing themselves, rather than me. There is no house, lifestyle or keeping up with the Jones that is worth living in abuse. That is what women I’m surrounded by are doing. I’m ok with being the black sheep.

    • LongTime Chump
      I can’t help but wonder if the women you speak of really know, really get it if they are indeed in abusive situations because, as I have found out, I did it all to the max for decades and the comment, ‘it doesn’t matter what you want, it’s the family unit’ really is such a lie because in the end I lost my family too.

      The very ones I dedicated my entire being to – 2 out of the 3 bailed on me. They see not the sacrifices I made for them to hold everything together…they must have seen that you take what you want and when someone has no more value to you, you walk, you discarded, you abandon, you dump.

      I now believe that solid friends are more loyal than family because we choose our friends and not our families.

      I still have a lot of bitterness about this piece at the moment….IF I live long enough I may get over it 🙂

      • Elderly Chump,

        I’m not sure exactly what those friends of mine are thinking, they just often describe things that are red flags to me. However, I see your point in that they may also find they give and give of themselves like the sacrificial lamb and in the end they lose their family anyway. This is the goal of the narcissist anyway for the most destruction? They leave a legacy of shattered people. Your other 2 children may follow his lead, like a cult leader, but in their hearts they know who showed up and truly loves them.

      • Elderly Chump
        How long has it been since your divorce? I ask because it’s been almost six years for me after 44 years of marriage. In the beginning our two daughters sided with their father and that was the hardest part of it all. I didn’t realize how long he had been lying to them about our relationship and how he recruited flying monkeys even from my own family to support his version.

        But now both my girls are treating me with love. Even the younger one, who I thought was lost to me. We don’t talk about him and I only told them my side of the story (he was having sex with men our whole marriage) very briefly and right after I filed for divorce. They don’t ask either. Ironically, he retired to the city where they both live right and he sees them and our grandchildren often.

        So, please don’t give up hope that someday they might return to your love. You never know when they’ll start to see his pathology.

  • This is very hard to do. My ex wife had affairs other 5-6 years of our 24 year long marriage. Starting in year 8 of our marriage. My DDay happened in year 23 when I DNA tested my kids and one wasn’t mind. I look at the pictures and wonder how she smiled and acted all normal while knowing (she did a paternity test with the OM) that one of my children wasn’t mine? Smiling and acting loving in pictures WHILE screwing other men. I had to go through 24 YEARS of a marriage and try to figure out what was true or not. I suspect there is more to the story as she admitted she made MANY mistakes. I eventually came to a point that I will NEVER know the complete truth. It is a hard thing to come to. Since I think infidelity stopped years earlier, it didn’t bother me near as much as the thousands and thousands of LIES. That is what is the hardest to overcome. “How could I believe all the lies?” I have since dated and remarried. It effects my world view that everyone is a liar…

    • “I eventually came to a point that I will NEVER know the complete truth. It is a hard thing to come to. ”

      I had to do that. First he told me he had been unhappy and “dating” for ten years, then he told me he never loved me, in our entire 21 year marriage. Then when he wanted to come back, he told me that was all lies he just told me so I would hate him. So, I will never know.

      I have just gone through the pics, kept the ones that have meaning to me. Gave the rest to my grown son. Hard to no know the full extent of truth in your past.

      • Yes it’s so hard not to know all that happened. We want to know. It’s a trauma but I’m unable to look away. Although, I do think we can reach a point where we know enough, our imaginations can help fill in the blanks, and knowing any more may just cause more hurt that’s not necessary. Mine had a bunch of apps on his phone. I don’t want to know what he was doing, I can fill in enough. Almost seems more painful to know all that at this point.

  • Ain’t it sweet. The psychiatrist of the article was described by the covert controller as being a very intelligent, smart woman.
    As if more duper’s delight were needed.

  • This hits home!
    “You couldn’t understand the nebulous sense of disconnection and conflict that had no source you could point to… except yourself. Maybe if you just tried harder…”
    I kept asking “What are we fighting about?”
    On a trip to Japan with another couple. “Why do you keep acting like you don’t want me here? This is very expensive to not have a good time.” FW – I think everyone is having a good time. Me- ” I AM NOT HAVING A GOOD TIME!”
    I didn’t matter.
    Those well meaning people that told me “You get a do over!”
    I didn’t want a do over. I didn’t choose a do over.
    How do I trust myself to plan a future that I can count on? I was robbed of the future I worked for. The future I sacrificed for.
    How do I trust someone to keep their word?
    I still plan fun trips. But now it takes more effort because I have to change the parameters. FW’s preferences no longer dictate choices.
    It does not make it better that “He did love you at one point.” NOPE.
    The cruelty of silence, detachment and unilateral dismissal of my wants and needs, as if I was the hired support staff, after a 28 year marriage, leaves me feeling robbed.
    I went to only essential or NC very quickly. I filed very quickly. I knew from Dday that the active alcoholic FW cheated and lied but it didn’t have anything to do with me.
    And yet I still feel robbed.
    I never wanted FW back.
    I still feel robbed.
    I have created a good life and plan for my new future.
    I still feel robbed.
    But I am getting closer to meh.

  • A pivotal point for me happened one day early on as I was seated at the ‘key’ counter of my local hardware store.

    Out of the blue I was struck by the fact that the person I loved and had trusted the most in the world had lied to me and, hence, could’t be trusted. Who then could be trusted!

    It was good that I was seated since the realization felt as though it was a physical blow. What followed was panic. Sheer panic due to the knowledge that I couldn’t, so to speak, put the genie back into the bottle.

    Unbeknownst to me the ground had already shifted beneath my feet on dday but my unconscious mind had grabbed that tad-bit for later ‘discovery’. That day brought it into my conscious mind.

    Since that day, I have grappled with every aspect of my past. Not just with the x but prior to meeting him. Leaving no path unexplored when a memory flashes to mind. Roots go deep into childhood. Not only family history but culture too.

    Conclusion drawn, I didn’t have a fighting chance when I met him. The cards were stacked from before I was born – literally. But that realization has not brought about depression but oddly a sense of something else that I can’t put words on yet. ( It has only been a few years for me and I was with the x for over 30 years.)

    Finding CL and being able to identify the behaviors has literally saved my life. Although my life was totally, and I do mean totally, demolished I now know that it wasn’t me and that bit of truth makes the world of difference.

    Demolished indeed. I lost my past. I lost the family I thought I had. I lost my children – all older who withdrew into their own shells and still do not talk about any of what happened or is happening.

    I lost my sense of spirituality and God which has been the hardest loss to deal with since my beliefs were what kept me grounded, lent me a foundation in all that I did.

    Knowing that the people who were supposed to be on the same spiritual path were covering for him – knew but none stepped forward while they were supposed to be living a life of ‘rigorous honesty’…He went to meetings not to stay sober but to pick-up a new mark, to see and be seen – meetings that catered to that kind of behavior and condoned it.

    That was one of the greatest shocks and the reverberations went all the way back to the man who began AA back in the 30’s. In all of my years in recovery I never knew that he was serial cheater. I experience a new level of betrayal with that one. Memories literally flooded me with local ‘spiritual giants’ within my own community and all had a past of cheating that was covered up…..

    I count myself fortunate because I have really good friends who have listened and carried me for these past few years. They know he was a good-for-nothing and I have yet to feel like they are rushing me along in my recovery, in fact, when I criticize myself about all of the mess, they are the ones to step forward and remind me of the mindfuckery and they continue to listen.

    Thank you all here too. I know you are always here reflecting back to me my reality and how it is playing out a day at a time.

    I have been long winded. A rough start this morning and I guess I needed to vent.

    • Hugs to you! I’m inspired by how much you lost and how reflective you became. If we can’t learn from this sh*t, then there really is only pain and suffering.

    • @Elderly Chump

      ((( HUGS ))) Thank you for sharing your personal journey through your past. I felt such a connection to you. Never apologize to us here about venting, WE get it! Honor yourself and what you have lived to tell. I especially related to that “key” experience. I was married for 32 years and I’ve been divorced 5. Divorce was a living hell and I saw proof of the monster behind the mask.

      It will forever blow my mind at how much energy he spent on keeping me off balance. Damn am I ever glad to be out of that vortex of hell.

      I send you peace, joy, love …. <3

  • Thanks so much CL. Two years on from DDay and coming to terms with the reality of how things really were, has been such a tricky thing to navigate. The advice in this post is the best. I have no idea how long he was cheating but think maybe the last 10 years of our 36 year marriage. I found out from a letter he left (still not telling the truth – UBT would have a field day with that one) when he was already on a plane out of the country to go and live with the OW abroad. No goodbyes for me or our adult children, no time to prepare. We were completely blindsided and all of us question what was real and what was not. Even his workmates knew he was leaving us before we found out. Our children question whether a man who happily let his workmates organize a big farewell for him, but who denied them an explanation or a chance to say goodbye, could ever have loved them. That’s their journey but it is heartbreaking. It absolutely is the lived experience that counts. The experiences I had were real. I was real. My happiness was real and I can’t go back and change that. I claim all those happy memories for myself because my contribution to those times came with my whole heart, trust, and goodness. This past week, an old (non-Switzerland) friend of the family, sent one of those soppy videos of photo memories to music that she’d put together. She’d included photos from all the holidays our two families had shared over the years, but none of him. It was a light-bulb moment as I watched the film, relived the memories, felt the joy again, without once thinking of him. It’s not a matter of rewriting history, just a case that his part in all that didn’t make the grade and is now gathering dust on the cutting room floor! The movie is 100% better for it.

    • ” It was a light-bulb moment as I watched the film, relived the memories, felt the joy again, without once thinking of him. It’s not a matter of rewriting history, just a case that his part in all that didn’t make the grade and is now gathering dust on the cutting room floor!”

      Your friend’s video is a great metaphor for how we reclaim our history by realizing that the cheater was never fully “there” in the first place. The experiences and memories are ours.

  • It discourages me at times. 30 years is a long time. I have such happy joyful times but there is always this dark piece haunting me. I was so proud of the family I built and now I know that my children knew things about their father that I didn’t know. That so many things were a lie and I probably don’t know the half of it. When I think about dating and meeting new people I try to find/construct a narrative of my life that is simple and honors me. I’ve reinvented my life and am moving ahead. People will remark or be happy that I seem happy (what choice do I have?). There is still a deep deep wound that lives in me. I wish he had died, I at least would have the respect and acceptance that it brings. There is honor in widowhood..the recognition that something happened to you (death) that was out of your control. The belief is the fuckwit’s cheating, lying, stealing, discarding was something I should have been able to control. It makes everyone feel better to believe. It’s hard not to beat yourself up about it – you know you had no power but there is that dark doubt that lingers. My daughters and friends are so proud of how I’ve picked myself up and am moving ahead. But I do feel such a sadness at times and as I said earlier there is a piece of that grief just below the surface.

    This weekend I went kite flying on a frozen MN Lake Pepin with people I love. I was watching myself laugh and have fun It wasn’t fully touching my heart. I’m hoping if I keep going through the motions it will eventually find my heart and heal it. There is so much work to do.

    • “People will remark or be happy that I seem happy (what choice do I have?).”

      I think of the quote from the old Rosanne show. “If you just give me a little time, and no other choices; I can be a remarkable woman”.

    • Spoonriver,

      I feel the same way. I almost want to correct people when they think I’m “all better” because I’m laughing. I guess “fake it till you make it” works. I just wonder if there will always be a little something that catches us just as we feel happy and trusting.

    • Spoonriver, your story is so familiar. 32 years married, over half my life spent together and I believe this charade would have gone on forever if it were up to him. He had a great life hiding behind me, the family we were so proud of. But he wasnt really proud bc what he did was bring shame on his family.

      X was in law enforcement and I had the thought of why couldnt he have just died, there IS honor in widowhood. I dread seeing him at celebrations for my grandkids, his presence is disturbing to me. I don’t try to figure him out anymore but focus on me and how far I’ve come. There will always be a deep wound but hopefully my solo journey will heal my heart and life will be great again. On my 60th b-day I skydived, it was like floating on clouds. I highly recommend it!

      Peace

  • This is timely for me. I broke up with my boyfriend of 6 months on Friday after confronting him because I felt so much cognitive dissonance. He more or less admitted to using me for sex( he was VERY loving when we were together and I thought he was being cautious about getting serious in other ways too early ) he was conning me to keep his kibbles ( sex) coming. I’m hurt but proud I ended it as soon as I had the confirmation of what my gut was basically screaming at me. Signs? Not introducing me to his family most importantly his sons( blamed covid), not spending much time with me other than Saturday night overnights here( again he blamed covid), not telling me he loved me( he admitted he doesn’t), actually hiding me from his family. The final straw was on Wednesday when an ice dam created a big leak inside my house and his response was I don’t know anything about that( note he was a contractor for years and lives 5 blocks away). He didn’t even come over to provide any support. His response to the break up? “ I’m sorry you feel that way”. SMDH I was strong. I had his stuff in my car and left it in his garage. No need for him to come here ever again. I’m just about ready to give up because I have not met a good man yet( they are all good at pretending to be good ). I’m 60 so maybe just concentrate on my work my kids and my friends and family.

    • Newlady15, well done.
      I actually admire your attempt at relationships. Very much so. And send you wishes to find a very nice considerate man.

      • Thanks for the kind words TTC. I do want a partner for our golden years but it’s not easy dating now, too many selfish entitled men really( no offence to our beautiful male chumps). This guy was even a fellow chump!! So damn selfish!!

        • I’m doubtful this man was a fellow chump. His behavior was exploitative and manipulative. Hugs to you. You took a risk, know your worth and dumped him.

  • So good to read this today. 4 years after leaving him after years of his abuse, I had finally got myself into a pretty good place … then I found out he has come out as gay to our (adult) kids. In typical fashion he made them his secret keepers, not allowed to tell anyone, especially not his parents. So now I’m back at the beginning again, knocked for six by this revelation. Angry at years of crap dished out to us because he wouldnt be honest. Furious and feeling robbed and being made to suffer for so many years by a lying coward. Appalled at being put down and made to feel ugly by a man who prefers men.
    AND having to seek STI screening as I have no idea if he acted out during our 25 year marriage. I found out indirectly from someone who happened upon my ex’s florid social media presence. I have been no contact for a couple of years. Such a hollow fake person. I have never felt hatred like this before, not even when I left him. Its a whole new level of betrayal to process.

    • If you don’t know about the Straight Spouse Network you should look it up. There’s a forum, too, where you can vent to those who have gone through similar experiences. My ex kept his sexual orientation secret for 32 of the 35 years of our marriage, and after coming out to me, his sister, and an ex-student he was “exploring” his sexuality with, continues to live a closeted life, including to our son, which puts me in the middle.

      • Thanks for the tip Adelante, I’ll check them out. I found an online book of 20 straight spouse stories from a support group … many histories rather chillingly like mine. Its doing my head in at the moment but I’ve pulled throught once , so I know I can do it, just need time and more therapy

    • How hideous to lie about his sexual orientation.
      You are right to be “Appalled at being put down and made to feel ugly by a man who prefers men.”

  • Daughter of a FW father (FWF), here. I’ve read on here where people talk about “agency” and it is such an under-used but important word.

    Before I found out about all the fuckery that my FWF was up to, he commented/asked about why my mom seemed so sad all the time. I told him “because she has no agency over her life” – a simple but powerful word and descriptor that summed it up mostly well. FWF behaved like a dictator (and loved it) – bossing people around, using rage to control people, using my mom as his….I don’t even know the right word for it…..secretary / errand girl / rage sponge / cook / personal assistant / driver / target / victim of whatever abuse he wanted to throw her way (except physical). Over 54 years – FIFTY-FOUR YEARS! – she was conditioned to be quiet, compliant, jump when he said so, ignore his rude and condescending comments, go along to get along, put on a pretend smiley face and entertain, play the part of happy wife.

    I am SO PROUD of my mother that last year she filed for divorce. She was very clever about it and he was completely surprised and shocked. I guess he thought he could treat her like that forever and she’d just take it and he would continue to not understand why she was depressed and blame her for her lack of enjoyment of anything.

    He asked me late last year, “why did mom dump me after 54 years?” I was with him at a doctor’s appointment and I’m not sure if he did it for sympathy in front of the doctor or if he really didn’t understand. I said that he was demeaning, degrading, disrespectful, disloyal, treated her poorly, cheated on her, was an addict to alcohol, work, spending money, porn, and why should she have continued to stay in a relationship like that?

    He seriously acts as if he has a big sad because my mother left him. Poor him, his wife of 54 years dumped him while he is in poor health and near the end of his life. Poor him, his wife would no longer take his abuse, insults, disrespect, rage, and infidelity. Poor him, his image is shattered.

    Meanwhile he is living in another state and trolling bars and picking up women who are …. let’s say character-deficient. FWF had fun fucking around for years with mostly “professional women” (not professional whores, but actual business women) who were easy prey because they were co-workers or women he’d meet on a plane or at a conference or through a mutual friend/business acquaintance. Now the only people he comes across are bar-rats (and now maybe professional whores) who are there to pick up on lonely old rich men like himself. He is meeting his equals in terms of character and integrity. My mother is a kind and caring and sweet and gentle soul who gave him a certain amount of credibility as being a decent person (otherwise why would she be with him) in his life. Now he attracts the kind of person who reflects who he really is.

    It is pathetic.

    My parents settled on their divorce last week and are just waiting for the final signed judgment to come through. They exchanged texts the day after the settlement and my FWF said he loves her very much and they had 54 wonderful years together (self-delusion). My mom wrote him back to say she loves him but the divorce wasn’t about love, it was about respect. And he replies by saying she made him upset, for which she apologized!!!! Poor FWF, he has a big sadz. Boo fucking whooo.

  • So much of all of this resonates with me from everyone posting. The 30 years erased and wondering if he ever loved me at all, the people who say I should just move on, life happens, forget about it. (I wish it was that easy!)
    Me scheduling family vacations during which he would complain about everything and mostly stay in the bathroom or on his computer playing games.
    And friends— he just dumped so many of them for who knows what reason—these were men his age. Nice people. He has no long term friends. I think they likely called him on his shit.

    My therapist tells me not to let him erase my memories of the good things, but I question what was really good?
    I’m working on all of this and hope to someday feel like I have a life again.
    The emotional roller coaster is a real bitch!
    Oh and I’ve heard from our past therapists and others when I’ve talked about the cruel things he has done, “well you know he has been hurt too!” So who hasn’t been hurt? That’s not an excuse for treating someone the way these fw do.

    • Exactly, RtMO.

      Ex tried harping on this early on: “I can remember all of the good times, the laughter, the whirlwind experiences, the joys we shared when our daughters were young. . . why can’t you stop being bitter and remember those things too?”

      It’s because I was investing deeply in those things, focusing on them as building blocks for the future and appreciating the good that we had, rather than dwelling on what wasn’t perfect or what was missing.

      And now all of those things are forever tainted, because — apparently, based on her boudoir photo postings — I was also investing in someone who’s mindset from the beginning was: “He loves fat me, unworthy me, so I got married . . . because, who else would?”

      So I make no apologies. For once, I have a sense of entitlement about this and am not afraid to admit it.

      • Absolutely no apologies.
        Bottom line, the contract was fraudulent on her part. And no matter how kk tries to spin it with her tale of revisionist history, the fact is that you kept up your end of the bargain and she was pulling a bait and switch.

        It’s not so much entitlement on your part as righteous outrage.

        Basically, she says, “It was my interpretation of the contract as I understood the unwritten part that you didn’t know about and if you were unclear,
        I don’t care, get over it, the damages you suffered were not important…,”
        in the word salad narcspeak twisty way of blaming the person who was the target of her fraud.

        Once the girls are 18, you can be free ( if you want) of this absolute horror of a person. No contact is the way to slay the beast.

  • Learning the truth both robbed me of my past (35 years married) and lifted from me the burden of that past. What I mean by that is that although after D-day I felt as if I couldn’t trust that anything had happened the way I thought it was happening at the time, I later came to understand that for the many years I believed I was at fault and faulty I was not at fault: he was. The problem wasn’t me; it was him, and there wasn’t anything I could have done, even though he made me feel as if I were the problem.

    Now I am learning to treat my memories in different ways that reflect my understanding. When the memory is happy, I accept it, in the same spirit Chump Lady says she does, because I was present and honest (but I don’t keep photos of the two of us happy, because I know he was living a lie then). When the memory is one that is tinged with my earlier sense of guilt and self-castigation, I let myself off the hook. For the most painful memories, I try to avoid what I know will call them up.

    • Adelante, I think it’s interesting that you felt that a burden was lifted from you. There’s something about knowing the truth, albeit belatedly, that gives some relief, especially if you’re able to truly believe that you were not at fault.

      And your processing of the memories makes sense.

      My own challenge is having compassion for my previous self. It’s great that you’re able to let yourself off the hook.

  • 38 years of him lying to me. Found out for sure in July 2016 of his affair with a ho-worker and all wedding pictures of us were destroyed. Offered my daughter any family pictures she wanted and destroyed the rest. All those wedding, Christmas, Easter, and vacation photos gone forever. We now have a 3 month old granddaughter and I realize how lucky I am to not have him in my life and that I can get rid of my shredder.

  • This is the most profound piece I’ve read in a very long time. It’s like an Epiphany for me and I think it gives me peace to read this. It is like I get it now. It’s ok to love my family life cuz I was authentic and real. I spent years wondering what love is and how do I feel love like I was the flawed one. I was loving deeply all along, I wasn’t loved back cuz there was no oxygen left for me. Thank you

  • “What was real? What was fake? You thought you were happy.” I ruminated on exactly this.

    I came to the conclusion that in the early years I was truly happy, while he probably was. (It doesn’t matter to me if he was or not.)

    He didn’t let the mask slip for several years straight and I remember telling him on the 5th anniversary of our first date that those had been the five best years of my life. We had laughed together virtually every day and he was helpful to my aging parents. My happiness was real.

    I know now that he had lied to me from day one about many aspects of his life story (including the ridiculous claim that he valued honesty!). So those five years were like “The Truman Show.” He was the director of a show I didn’t know I was in.

    I don’t kick myself for not realizing what was going on. Some con artists are just that good. I’m at peace with knowing I was truly happy for years and that I was a trustworthy, reliable, and fun-loving partner even if he was a fake.

    I don’t dwell anymore on how many years of my life I spent with The Python. I can’t get those back. I don’t review the worst emotional pain in my life (D-Day) because I suffered enough. I prefer to remember, when I do think about it, that I was genuinely happy for some of it. It wasn’t a total waste. Happiness happened and I was real.

  • The movie “ Peggy Sue got married “ is my dream. If I knew then what I know now! I wasted 44 years with FW. After getting ducks in a row, quietly, I was ready to serve him. Totally blindside him. Three days before planned attack, he was given terminal diagnosis. He spent a year on hospice, with me thinking, just die POS. I was grey rock the entire time. I got everything, was worth it. CL, kept me sane. I now believe the entire marriage was a lie. Thanks to CN and CL, I realized he was a cheater., not just a POS. it’s been 5 years since he died, I’m still realizing how he lied or stole money etc. When a memory comes up, I look at it through different eyes now. Death is not easier, people say, I’m sorry or you must miss him. I’m thinking thank God he finally died. I will never know the truth about so many things. I lived MY authentic life. If I had to do it over? I would wave bye, with the first shit sandwich. When I married, women had fewer choices by law and my FOO is worthless, narcissist. One day, hopefully, I will not feel anything, when a memory is painful because I can now see BS for BS.

  • I know it’s late enough that this comment, which has zero relevance to the topic, is absolute spam, but I had to say it somewhere:

    My cheater always looked down upon me because I was “trashy” and “lower class,” because he had been brought up in the chi-chi North Shore suburb of Lake Forest, and I lived in many strange and wonderful places growing up, and my mother (gasp, shudder) _worked for a living_ (never mind that she worked as an MD, and probably could have stayed home if she felt moved to, that’s why one has charity balls, to stimulate the minds of penned-up suburban SAHM’s) and I didn’t come out as a debutante, something he apparently hated despite his contempt for debutante culture.

    But you know what?

    He cheated on me.

    All that time feeling terrible, listening to my inner critic telling me that my trashiness drove him to cheat, but you know what? His trashiness is what caused the cheating. Not mine.

    Thanks, ChumpLady. Message received.

  • I love this site. I wish I would have discovered it sooner because I feel so validated every time I read articles or the comments. I’ve been going through that phase where I grapple with reality trying to figure out what was the truth and I do look at pictures thinking “He was fucking that whore then…” or “Wow, a month from this day he started cheating on me” It’s still so painful. Reading what others say about their lying cheaters helps too. Especially when they talk about how nothing their cheaters say had any basis in reality and we all can see how much they follow a cheater’s script.

    I had a lot of emotional whiplash from my cheating pos and it was hard trying to discern what was truth or had a grain of truth in it and what was lies. A lot of times the lies were pretty obvious, but it was maddening the way he would blatantly lie to my face about reality as if I hadn’t been there living it with him the entire time.

    “I love you…I don’t love you….I love you but I’m not in love with you…No, I really do love you but it’s fading and I don’t know if I can get it back…I HATE YOU! THERE IS A COLD WET HOLE WHERE MY LOVE SHOULD BE!!!!!!! Wanna fuck because I do love you?” Sometimes these things were said literally seconds away from each other.

    Him: “I just don’t want to be married anymore and I never want to get married again….I would marry you again. I’ll propose properly to you the next time around.”
    My response to that last bit: “If you’re sitting there thinking about getting back together with me and remarrying me in the future, why are we divorcing now? We could work on things now. This doesn’t make sense.”
    His screaming response to me saying that: “OMG!!!! THIS IS WHY I CAN’T TALK TO YOU OR BE NICE TO YOU!!! YOU TAKE EVERYTHING I SAY THE WRONG WAY!!!! I PUT A “THE” AT THIS ONE POINT IN THE SENTENCE THEREFORE IT CHANGES THE ENTIRE MEANING!!! YOU STUPID! YOU TOOK IT THE WRONG WAY!!!”

    • He constantly shifted the timeline of when he supposedly started wanting a divorce because it was hard to make it work with reality while trying to make it seem like his out of the blue unhappiness and sudden random desire to divorce had nothing to do with the whore he was fucking behind my back.

      First it was “in the past 3 weeks” but he realized that made him look really bad and of course it places his sudden and random unhappiness smack dab in the middle of their affair. Then he changed it to “early spring” Whoops – the affair started then and we had this relationship talk at the time that he has to explain his new unhappiness around….okay um….(he actually said this glorious next bit:) divorce randomly popped in his head for a week back in October even though nothing was wrong with us and he thought about it seriously because it popped in his head and then it went away as quickly and randomly as it came and he was fine. The thought came back in early spring and it never left. Oh right. Then it was 18 months ago…2 years ago… he was unhappy this entire time and we never should have married because our foundation was always shaky (even though it wasn’t)!!!! Then it was back to March-April until I reminded him of the conversation we had and oh yeah, he was already cheating then too. Then it went back to June-July which was his original and probably truthful timeline and when their affair most likely changed to being physical. Then it went back to a year and a half ago…then back to the spring (when the emotional affair started) and then it went back to June-July the last time I asked. I love how he couldn’t see how the constant shifting made his lie even more evident. I mean, gee, if you really were unhappy and wanted to divorce your wife you’d think you could keep a relatively straight timeline and story.

      His reasons for divorcing were equally stupid and baseless and constantly shifting. The most infuriating is when you debunk a lie and they just sit there blanking and instantly shift to a different lie like nothing. This conversation is real and it’s one of many like it:
      Him: “I hated that you never let me drink beer.”
      Me: “First of all that is LIE. Second, who fucking divorces for that and makes that an issue? WTF?! This isn’t reality. You know I planned evenings with our friends at this new arcade bar because you were there! You drank then! I tried to get you to go to the christmas pop-up bar a few months ago and you had a damn fit so we had to turn around and drive home because you said bars are a waste of money!”
      Him: “well, you don’t enjoy drinking and it shows in your attitude so it ruined my good time when we were out with xxx and xxxx.”
      Me: “I was laughing and having a great time, what are you talking about?! You were barely around me that evening because we were all playing games and I was talking to xxx most of the time.”
      Him: “Your anxiety about driving is the problem. I couldn’t drink how I wanted to because you were too scared to drive home”
      Me: “What utter and complete horseshit! The bar is literally right up the street from our house you idiot! Why would I be afraid driving home on the streets I drive on every single day?! YOU LIAR!!!!”
      Him: “I FEEL it’s true.”

      • Yep, mine went from two years, to ten years, to I never loved you (21 year marriage) all in the same conversation. He had no ideas what was falling out of his mouth.

      • And you didn’t follow that completely nonsensical and incoherent pattern of logic?? 😂🤣😂

        Sometimes I wonder if arguing with a FW is really not that different from arguing with a two-year old. How they expect anyone to fall for the obvious lies and inconsistencies is beyond me. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    • “Sometimes these things were said literally seconds away from each other.”

      Yes! He was flailing, it was like he couldn’t remember what he said from one minute to the next. In fact like he had read the cheater handbook and was just running the lines with no emotion. Of course I didn’t figure this out until later, but I can still remember standing there and thinking WTH is happening here.

  • “This is what I learned about that narrative — I don’t need his story to tell MY story. I’ll never know all of what was going on and with whom. I know enough to know it’s disordered and has everything to do with him, and nothing to do with me. I wasn’t living a lie. HE was living a lie.”

    I take great solace in this ideology. I loved him, my daughter was born in my love for him and for the family we were creating. I wasn’t confused about my feelings until discard began. I lived and loved authentically. This was all real. This is my truth.

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