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Enough with Divorce Shame

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congratsMy cousin got divorced yesterday and I noticed today on her Facebook page that she wrote a very kind thank you to her friends and family who helped her through this difficult “journey.”

She didn’t mention what that journey was — divorce.

Several people wrote “You’re in my prayers,” and “hugs” and other supportive kind things, a few of them having no idea what they were supporting her about.

I wrote: “Congratulations on your new beginning.” Which is what I say to most people who’ve gotten divorced.

It’s a START. A new slate. It’s a gulp of fresh air after you’ve been sinking in the quicksand of dysfunction. And it’s a cause for pride because you endured a battle. However “amiable” you worked things out in your settlement, you just had to do legal warfare with someone you’d once promised to love forever. The disconnect of that is heart rending. In my opinion, a newly minted divorcee doesn’t just need hugs and prayers, he/she needs a slap on the back and a cold beer. “You survived! Hurrah!”

I have a tendency to over share and I realize some people are more circumspect and private. Not everyone wants to spill their bucket of emotional slop onto others, thank goodness. I’m an admirer of tact and reserve, even though I possess none of those qualities. So, if you don’t announce to the world, HEY, I GOT DIVORCED TODAY! that’s your right and due.

I just hope you’re not keeping your mouth zipped because you’re ashamed.

If you got chumped? If you loved with your whole heart and tried your damnedest? If your partner drove their life into a ditch and you had to jump away and save yourself? And you SURVIVED that shit? There is nothing to be ashamed of. NOTHING people! NOTHING.

If you got divorced because you’re a cheating douchebag, this post isn’t for you, because you probably feel no shame. Most likely, you’ve already remarried to your Schmoopie or you’re out partying in a nightclub somewhere or trolling Craigslist…. or all of the above.

I’m talking to chumps. Those of you who stuck out terrible marriages of disrespect and dysfunction because you were afraid to be alone, to figure out your own life, to be One Of Those Pathetic Divorced People. If you feel responsible for other people’s crimes. If you internalize the shame of being abandoned. I’m talking to YOU — DROP IT. Let that shit GO!

Yes, divorce is a loss. It’s painful as hell and financially calamitous. But it can also be noble and brave. If you left a cheater, you’ve demonstrated “I will not take this crap anymore.” You’ve fomented revolution. You’ve stood up for your self-worth. If you were left by a cheater, and you had to file the goddamn papers yourself, you’ve survived injury AND insult. Hold your head up. If a cheater divorced you for some new piece of ass, well good riddance to bad rubbish. Fuck ’em.

I’m writing for myself as well as you. I left TWO marriages. I’m a double loser at this Pick a Life Partner thing. I hung on to that second marriage to a serial cheater so hard because failure was NOT an option. No sir! I was NOT going to be a two-time divorcee.

I had some wonderful artsy sister friends come visit me from New York City when I was in the throes of D-Days. I told them I was worried about being divorced twice. How weird and freakish that would be. One of them, Sara, said to me “I dated a guy who told me he was a vampire. Now THAT’s weird. Divorce? Not so much.” Her sister Dana said “You should move to New York.”

And that exchange gave me hope that, hey, there’s a metropolis somewhere of cool sophistication where no one will look askance that I’ve been divorced twice. Maybe I can do this…

Meanwhile, Mr. Cheaterpants was still screwing the OW, getting stumbling drunk, and threatening me, and my biggest worry was — will I be the freak?

In the end, I didn’t move to New York. You know the story, I eventually wound up in Texas, a place known for its tolerance and liberal outlook on life. (Not.) I don’t go telling everyone I’ve been divorced twice, but it does come up if I have to explain both my son (from marriage #1) and being a chump (marriage #2), which means I have to know you pretty well.

It’s just part of my story now. Some days it’s even a joke. I’ll ask my husband, “Hey, am I your favorite wife?” and he’ll say, “Am I your favorite husband?” and we’ll laugh because the other ones were such horrors.

If you’re feeling any twinge of divorce shame, consider that you’re divorced exactly because you DO value marriage. You DO believe in commitment. You DO believe in love throughout sickness and health. You DO believe in family. And you’re divorced because your spouse did not share those values and you refused to live a sham marriage.

Not one damn thing shameful about that.

***

This one goes out to Queen of Chumps from yesterday. (It’s a rerun, but a message worth repeating.)

Oh, and my cousin has since remarried. 

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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.
  • ‘If you’re feeling any twinge of divorce shame, consider that you’re divorced exactly because you DO value marriage. You DO believe in commitment. You DO believe in love throughout sickness and health. You DO believe in family. And you’re divorced because your spouse did not share those values and you refused to live a sham marriage.’

    Taping this up somewhere in my house! Xo

    • Agree Shelly
      It’s dedicated to queen yet does us ALL at some point. I deal with this. In the back of my mind I think how am I going to explain why were divorcing. What kind of mind&$! Is that? I feel some guilt that I’ve waited a year my papers aren’t filed. Though we have minimal contact. Go about our days then sleep in the same bed. I can’t even reach out for him anymore.

      Also, I used to tell my husband “he’s my favorite” because (I thought) he was refreshing after being chumped and left after 14 years. (My daughters dad)
      He’d say it back- you’re MY favorite. It appears I was maybe the favorite but not the only all the time like I expected!

      • I told my husband he was my favorite too! Our wedding cake topper even said “You’re my Favorite” because that’s truly how I felt about him.
        We’ve been in limbo since Dday 3 in November. Last night I caught him in a lie – he told me he was going to the gym, but I found a receipt in his car showing that he was at a bar/restaurant.

        • You don’t need to be in limbo. You have agency. It’s not going to change if you have three D-Days already. Get a plan and get him out.

          He was your favorite. Now you be your favorite.

        • So, the more D Days you rack up, the more the Cheater learns they can continue shenanigans and bad behavior, and you’ll do nothing about it. They get bolder with each successive D Day where there’s no consequences. It’s the Inverse Principal of D Days. They don’t *learn* to have morals and values with each successive D Day, even if you’re more hurt with each one.

          Get out now and save yourself.

    • The version of this paragraph in the book is the final straw that made me ready to divorce my FW. I’d come around to the realization he’s messed up in ways I’d never be able to understand, let alone fix. I’d realized I’d never be able to get any sort of trust back. And yet I’d thought it would somehow be going back on my word to back out of a marriage I had said I’d stick to for life no matter what.

      Then thanks to this part of LACGAL it hit me: I didn’t fail at the marriage. FW failed. It was like a light going on, and I really hope other chumps who are struggling like Queen of Chumps yesterday will find a way to internalize this message.

      • “[I]t hit me: I didn’t fail at the marriage. FW failed.” 100% correct AGC. This is what I say to anyone who spouts that “It takes two to break a marriage” nonsense: No. It takes two people to MAKE a marriage, it only takes ONE to break a marriage. I am not perfect and my marriage was not perfect but I was committed to it all the way. That my wasband was not is not my failure; it is all on him.

        • Yes! I told the ex-cheater (fiance not husband), when he said that I broke up with him: “YOU left the relationship when you cheated. I just finished what you started.”

      • AGC and fellow chumps,
        Watch the Tina Turner documentary on HBO, if you haven’t already. (Get the free trial for a week just to watch this!) I posted to the Reddit group about the many chump-friendly messages from this show. But the relevant one here is: Tina felt stuck in an abusive marriage for YEARS because she had promised Ike she would never leave him, pandering to his toxic shame and insecurity. She says she was loyal to him, and felt obligated to stay and be the star in the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, which was their source of income as well.

        But Buddhist practice released her from those internalized beliefs and promised change. Eventually, she saw that Ike was sick at a core level and that nothing would change if she didn’t stand up and change it. What’s the point of making vows to someone who would hurt you, someone you fear? It’s unsustainable. It’s certainly not a marriage in any recognizable definition of the term. Divorce is just formalizing the dissolution of the marriage that has already taken place. And yes, chumps are usually not the ones who dissolved that marriage.

        May all chumps be blessed with Tina-level mightiness.

        • Tina is my newest spirit guide. I’ve since gotten her new big coffee table book, copies of her other books, and a vintage copy of Rolling Stone (Oct 1984) which will be going into a red glitter frame. I’ve watched that doc three times. I’ll be watching it again.

        • I was with my book club and decided to tell them for the first time that I was separating. This came so fast out of my mouth: “It’s making an honest woman out of me! I don’t have to pretend anymore!”

      • “I had said I’d stick to for life no matter what.”

        The question, of course, is would you have made a lifetime vow if he said he was going to cheat? And cheat? And devalue you, disrespect you, break your heart?

        Of course not. Marriage is a contract. You would have stayed for life but HE broke the contract.

    • Some do, many experience instead relief! And as they get older so many of their peers will have divorced parents it won’t be a big deal.

      How we talk about the divorce also makes a difference; if we frame ´ it as a healthy step into a better life, after a valiant effort to make the marriage work, they can understand that.

  • I’m proud of the divorce, but I’m ashamed that:

    1. I put up with abuse
    2. I needed a revelation of cheating to leave him (Why wasn’t the other shit enough?)
    3. I seem to have ignored so much

    Maybe “ashamed” isn’t the right word. “Angry,” “shocked,” “disappointed” are more like it. I’m angry at my ex but also at myself. Sure there were times when I fantasized about leaving him just because he was an unpleasant, sullen, moody, hyper-critical, pathologically quiet jerk, but then there were times when he threw me some breadcrumbs, and all seemed well. I survived on that. As a result, my intuition, my ability to spot gaslighting and get enraged at shitty treatment shriveled to nothing.

    And now, I’m feeding my emotional self a healthy diet. She’s getting stronger in part because of daily nourishment from CL and CN! It’s my spinach! 💪 💪 💪

    Signed,
    Spinach, proudly divorced (finally)

    • Exactly so, Spinach. I’m angry/shocked/disappointed at myself because

      1. I didn’t fully recognize and understand KK’s constant mantra of “happy wife, happy life” for what it really is: a way to manipulate our marriage so that her happiness was all that mattered.
      2. Once the troubles started, I trusted her words more than I trusted my own intuition.

      It’s a humbling experience, but one I’m ultimately thankful for.

    • “Maybe “ashamed” isn’t the right word. “Angry,” “shocked,” “disappointed” are more like it. ”

      For me I would add confused, confused as hell. Took me a while to be able to shake my and clear my head. Nothing made sense.

      • Susie lee

        Most chumps deal with psychos/ narcs. Unfortunately no one teaches us how to deal or even- that they exist. So we apply our values, care and love expecting reciprocity.
        Instead- we are being blasted with lies, gaslights down a mindfuckery.

        We are more knowledgeable now- we can spread the knowledge and help others.

        • Yes, it’s really about being aware that such people exist! Before I’d think of sociopaths like people that would obviously be scary and that I’d easily stay away from, not the sweet & humble looking little narc guy that I had run into. It was a big lesson that there could be such a gap between how a person presents himself during the first few months and after that.

          The worst thing is these people think they are normal and you’re the weird one, making me think he was simply more confident than I am. He really had to treat me like **** multiple times before I realized there was something profoundly wrong, and that he never was the loving person I thought I had met in the first place. Gah. Why did I for such a long time cling on to this idea that he was human?

    • Spinach, EXACTLY!

      I am relieved that I am divorced, but I am still struggling with the “how could I have been so stupid?”

      Worse: sometimes I fantasize that if I had been wiser at the very beginning of our 39-year marriage I could have avoided sparkledick doing his shit. And then I remember: why do CHUMPS have to do the cheater’s homework? It’s each human being’s job to know the difference between right and wrong. I have remedied my own mistakes by getting divorced.

      • I feel the same way. I am a female attorney that does not put up with any stuff at work and can strike fear in some very seasoned business men. Me too, how could I have been so stupid.

        • Boy I can relate. Boston. My job is dealing with complaints at work and helping employees communicate and work together.
          I could not do that in my sham of a marriage and for that i feel stupid and a big amount of shame.
          What I realized recently is that my stbx refused or was not able to be an equal partner in that relationship. He would twist my words and put his own spin on things. He even did that during marriage counseling. The MC called him out on that several times. Stbx was supposed to repeat back what I said and he would put his own twist on it. MC would say, that’s not what she said. Stbx would say, I know but this is what I heard.
          When he told me in the last conversation how unhappy he was he said that we don’t communicate. And blamed me for it all of course. What a mind fuck it all was. And I just kept trying to figure it out.

          • That is exactly what got me stuck in his web. I suddenly wasn’t sure if anything. It’s a very disorienting place to be.

    • I feel exactly the same and in fact you could be describing my husband. I made every excuse under the sun for him, to myself and to other people.

      I’m working on forgiving myself. I was very young when I met him and he was was extremely manipulative and soon he’d trained me to see everything through his eyes and I found myself disappearing.

      You can see it happening in photos taken during the marriage. I go from confident and sassy to shy and awkward and even my clothes became baggy and shapeless and always in dark colours. The affair was really only the cherry on top of everything else he did to me.

      I’m trying to see it as 40 years saved not 20 years lost but it’s tonight when those 20 years were your youth.

    • My biggest regrets are not listening to my gut instinct. When we first started dating she told me she cheated on her ex boyfriend whose she had lived with for several years with multiple guys including a threesome with two guys and stupid old me stayed. I tried to rationalise it yet my gut instinct was telling me to run. In fact I did break up with her but she turned up and kept calling me and I got sucked back in, I was a stupid 22 year old.

      My gut instinct told me on my wedding day to run and it was so apparent that even the lady doing the wedding ceremony pulled me to the side and said “son, are you fully sure you want to do this, it’s not to late to say no” and yet again stupid old me went ahead because my family were there and everything was paid for.

      Less than two years after that wedding day she was sneaking out of the house and sneaking back in at 5am and all the other obvious signs of cheating. She had me as an immigrant in her country were I had no family, no support, no friends and no money. I was beyond trapped and she knew it.

      Point is, always always listen to you gut feeling. I wish to god I had back then. She is truly the biggest regret of my life.

      • I rationalized too. Didn’t listen to my gut. BIG mistake.

        Early on in dating, I visited his place. No sex yet but some making out and when I left to drive home (a pretty long drive) he told me to call him when I got home because he would worry about me.

        He was clearly asleep when I called. My gut told me “he couldn’t have been too worried about me if he fell asleep” but I only allowed myself to think that for a moment before I spackled: “He was probably really tired and just couldn’t help falling asleep.” No, dummy, he was putting on an act, pretending to be Mr. Concerned and Protective.

        He wasn’t truly worried about my getting home safely but I believed his words and ignored his actions. I wish I had listened to my gut instinct!

        • That’s a brilliant example. It’s subtle detail, yet so telling. I bet many people would have rationalized the same way you did. If you see how much these people can get away with – at work, with other partners, with their family, etc – I think there are far more chumps in this world than we’d like to admit.

      • Me too. My therapist was notorious for never, ever, stating an opinion or telling me what to do. When I told him I got engaged, he gave me a stern warning about marrying my husband. He told me directly that marrying him was choosing a life that was going to be really difficult, and that he hoped I would reconsider.

        Chumpy old me of course saw that as a challenge, I can face any difficulty! I can fix anything! All my fiancé needs is to be shown that I will always be there for him! You see, all of his bad behavior was just him trying to “push me away” and I needed to prove to him how stalwart and unshakable I was.

        Blech. Somewhere in my gut I knew I was wrong. But I shoved it away, too embarrassed to admit I made a bad choice.

        I look back and can’t believe I took the word of someone who always treated me badly over the word of my therapist, who literally saved my life and had seen me for almost 10 years by that point.

      • >> stupid old me went ahead because my family were there and everything was paid for.

        The disordered are really good at putting us in those type of situations, where we’ll be too embarrassed or conflicted to save ourselves. As I go through life, every now and then, out of the blue, I’ll remember something my Ex pushed me to do which made no sense at the time, but hindsight shows me the advantage it gave him. Usually, it was about destroying my connection to potentially friends or keeping control of me. Even him pushing me to commit to him when I was so wet behind the ears (age 18) had the benefit of me being embarrassed to tell anyone.

    • I’m not ashamed or angry at myself anymore. I’m angry at them and proud that I’m a good person.

      They’re assholes, and they deserve nothing but my unadulterated ire and disrespect, which I generously dole out whenever he tries to communicate with me.

    • YES!!! My Mom recently said to me “You were always such a strong person and somehow you lost yourself during your marriage. I always wondered why you deferred to him about everything.” That is what I am “angry, shocked and disappointed” about. How I lost myself for 30+ years. I have absolutely no shame about the divorce at all. I am finally becoming myself again after all those long years of always feeling “less than”.

    • I hear you spinach, and I too am now finally divorced. My teenage kids said “mom why did it take his cheating for you to finally do something (although to be truthful, he left me, but I filed for divorce) why wasn’t his abhorrent treatment of us enough?” That kicks you in the ass

    • I never, not once, said Happy Wife Happy Life, nor acted like Queen of the Castle. Not once. He was lord and master, the king. My daughters and I served him completely and put up with him being that pouty asshole. Further, I was committed to doing that until death, wiping his ass and caring for him through dementia if required, until his last breath.

      He was a petulant, selfish, passive aggressive 15 YO teenage boy on his best day and a stonewalling silent-treatment monster when unhappy. I would never have left him and lived on the crumbs. I was delighted with the crumbs because I was a Cool Wife who put up with all the things.

      I got dumped anyway and now spend way too much time angry with myself for letting him treat his family like garbage for 31 years. My girls and I are still damaged by it.

      h/t to commenter Gorillapoop who said, “…when you finally are free, I guarantee you will spend more time and energy recovering from the abuse you volunteered for than the abuse that was outside of your control.”

    • Eh, see the comments above. We’re told that marriage is for life. People invest. People have kids. Parents don’t want to lose their kids 50% of the time. It takes an amazing courage to choose sanity and health and character and values when the visible cost of that is time with your kids.

      Many of us have it drilled into our heads not to be “selfish,” that is, not to have standards or needs or dealbreakers. We’re told to “forgive” and not to “judge.” And finally, if we saw emotional or psychological abuse in childhood, we are primed to tolerate it in relationships. If we saw spackling and red flags being ignored, we are primed to shut our eyes.

      The miracle is that we learn and grow.

      • I think UX’s point is very important. We trust the WORDS of other people more than we trust actual behavior, more than we trust what people do, more than we trust evidence in front of our eyes or our own instincts.

      • Good points! It’s complicated.

        I was primed by my upbringing to be unselfish and to consider myself unworthy. My ex chose his target well. *sigh*

        Once we had three kids, I swat away any thoughts of divorce because of the terror of sharing the kids half the time. How could they be alone with him without my interceding? Still, I stayed with him 10 years after my youngest reached the age of maturity., so that doesn’t explain everything. I needed the affair to leave.

        I’m traumatized by his double life and deceitfulness. Eighteen months post Dday, I still experience intrusive thoughts. And yet, I’m also happily getting reacquainted with my gut. I’m learning to trust it. This will be a long haul. Despite the soul-crushing pain of the betrayal, I’m glad it forced me to get out. I’m happier now.

    • I used the analogy of “breadcrumbs” in a therapy session BEFORE I learned of the cheating, Dday and divorce. Somehow, deep-down, I just knew that I deserved more. I also kept a quote on my message board that said “There is a moment in every woman’s life where she must decide if everything she has is everything she wants.”
      I just was too afraid (and too proud) to act on my intuition.

      • You’re speaking right from my heart! I’ve used this term and others trying to fight through the foggy overgrown weeds in my head! Trying desperately to describe how it’s felt even when I did t realize
        I took what I got after a while and got used to “the way he was”
        Then cheating.
        No, I do deserve more and I’ve already COMPROMISED to the fullest here
        Thanks for sharing!

  • The most demoralizing part of my divorce was going for my religious divorce called a “get”.

    I did my research and learned that I could hire a rabbinical student to stand in for my ex so we didn’t have to be there at the same time. Smart decision. It was unbearably misogynistic, humiliating and gut-wrenching experience that completely stripped me of my love of my religion. That is something I am still unable to reclaim.

    I posted a line drawing of a get scroll on Facebook and said I was proud of myself and that this was the first step to my new life.

    Someone commented “Oh, is this a thing that people now post about?”.

    I responded “YES! I survived and am proud of everything I went through to get here”

    Then I unfriended that person 👍🏻

    🥰 Self-love

    • My friend recently had a Get. She shed tears of JOY from disengaging from her abusive ex and having it recognized within her faith. Yesterday she took a mikveh.

      We should all celebrate our courage to end abuse. I like the idea of the mikveh to further spiritually and physically cleanse oneself from FW filth.

    • Mazel tov to you, Rebecca, and to any survivor of abuse who endures divorce and the Get process. I hear what you’re saying about disillusionment. Real self-care is a mitzvah, and that’s what you did when you advocated for yourself. I’ll keep you in mind while saying the Mi Sheberach this Shabbat.

    • Congratulations, Rebecca. I know that must have been hard.
      In the Catholic church there is an annulment, which you need if you ever want to get re-married in the church again. Although I was married with the full Catholic Nuptial Mass, and even got a Papal Blessing, I never practiced my faith afterwards.

      Yet, even though I was married for 44 years, part of me wanted to get an annulment, which would declare my marriage invalid. But, I would have had to find witnesses to say that they knew my ex was gay and I had no idea how to do that. In the end, because I don’t care about Catholicism anymore, and I don’t think I will ever get remarried, I decided not to pursue it. I did take my maiden name back, though, and that helped me regain some self-respect.

  • I’m not ashamed of being divorced it’s just part of my story now . He left and I filed and paid for the divorce because as usual I’m left to pay for him .

    I’ll tell you what I’m ( not ashamed ) but a constant thought of mild embarrassment do people think it’s me ??

    He’s remarried ( within a year from D Day ) he’s got children with her ( none with me ) they have a nice house etc . My life hasn’t moved on at all . I’m not dating , I struggle financially and I can’t see that changing in the foreseeable future .

    I do wonder if people think well it must be her she’a got no one and now a middle aged divorcee and look at him ( them) thriving . He wanted children with AP but not his wife so that tells you something ( wink wink nudge nudge )

    I try not to think about it as I never wanted to get divorced but I do wonder what others think

    • Kramer. Please be grateful you had no children with a fuckwit. You can read on here what they do to their kids—it’s awful. Mine were grown but in my heart of hearts I know it’s because of the awful abuse they witnessed that neither of them is married. My daughter has no use for men and my son has a lovely girlfriend so I hope. They are damaged by their disordered father and the chaos when they were growing up. It’s not your shame at all. He has his mask on ( as does my ex). I am getting hints that things are not perfect and I know he’s just digging the same hole just with different players in his own sick play. Hold your head high you are a warrior.

    • I’m having the same problem. Fw is off living the life with the a**wipe who helped destroy my family. I’m 57, alone for over a year still, struggling and isolated. No Facebook images of me living the life like those two oozing infections as they travel, drink, and party.

      Worse is the a**swipe is heavier, less attractive, less educated, and less financially stable than me. So I worry people are saying I must be a real POS for the FW to leave me for that.

      It is shame. It is humiliation. I have never hurt this bad in my whole life. And worse, I never saw it coming. Never.

      And still, there are no true consequences for what they have done to me and my daughter.

      • (((Hugs))) I hear you, DC. Seeing your Ex on social media being so ‘happy’ is rough. It might be a good idea for your recovery to take a break from social media for a bit. It really seems to bother you what other people may be thinking about you. One of the key bits we all learn over here in Chump Nation is that we can’t control what other people are thinking. I think you’re awesome and brave. And so does all of Chump Nation. Hang in there. Keep reading here. It gets better. <3

      • People think lots of dumb crap. You can’t live your life worried about them. Hell, they call me fat Morticia but i don’t care lol.

        I need about 40 more haters by August, line up y’all.

      • You’re still looking at his Fakebook? Time to stop. Delete your own account if needed to avoid temptation.
        You know what’s indicative of peace within yourself, rather than your ex’s sick displays of narcissistic exhibitionism, which show anything but? The answer is a desire for privacy and an appropriate level of humility. Let people who don’t know you imagine what they like about you and give them no information to base it on. Chances are none of them are thinking anything about you, but if they are, since they don’t mean shit to you, why worry about it? Anybody who is worth anything will be grossed out by a supposed grown man’s adolescent party lifestyle and figure you dumped him because he’s an immature loser with a drinking problem.

    • People only think of themselves.

      Sounds like you need to go have some fun-just for you. You are free!

    • You take up camping or hiking or canoeing…. and you post all these wonderful pictures of yourself on FB doing all these adventerous things or wherever these ‘people’ are.

      Even if you are in the canoe for 10 minutes, even if you go hiking for 15 minutes!

      This is called Impression Management. Fuckwits do it all the time, why can’t we ?

      (You can always foster a school age child if you want children in your life and your job hours permit this).

      • We shouldn’t, because we aren’t narcissistic. If you do too much impression management and public exhibitions of your life, you may create narcissistic tendencies in yourself when you get dopamine rewards for it with likes and admiring comments. It’s safer to not go there. You can’t out-brag a narc ex, anyway. If you post a photo that you think makes you look like your life is awesome, they will make sure to top it. Life is a competition for them, but it shouldn’t be for us.

        Keep it humble, chumps, and keep your personal life private.

        • A few displays of impression managment can go a long way

          As with anything you can’t go overboard

    • Please don’t attack yourself like that anymore! All those external so called signs of happiness really don’t mean anything at all, and certainly don’t say anything about you or who or what you are. You are lovely!

      All of us here had the fantasy life going strong and thought we were happy enough; in retrospect we understand how unhappy we really were. I look back at my 29 year marriage as a vast wasteland of striving to connect with someone who never wanted that with me, nor, I would wager, with anyone else. I’m 59, and two years out from divorce. He’s 60 and living with a 28 yo.

      I don’t have a partner and I don’t feel a need for one, I live alone and I’m loving my life. People can be ignorant (again NO reflection on you) and can think what they want. I’m feeling so rock solid and content with myself, like never before in my life. We all know the standard fall in love, get married, have kids, build a career, take vacations etc. doesn’t guarantee happiness. We have to make our own kind of happiness to fit our deepest desires. For me it’s been full tilt on a spiritual path. And I have no desire to go back to what now seems like a set up for failure.

      Right now your biggest plus is the total freedom you have! He’s strapped down with a lot of new baggage, and you are free! Take advantage of this time for you. You sound like a very cool, honest woman, just beautiful. A big hug to you!

      • Tere, thank you for your post. It sums up precisely how I feel after 26 years. I have been surviving on crumbs all my life and definitely for the 26 years I was with the ex. I’m twice divorced (first ex discovered he was gay). A second failed marriage felt like a disaster so I stayed far too long. I would never have left him. However I gathered the guts together to divorce him once I knew about the affair. At 61 I have created a new life and, with the help of therapy, I am thriving. For the first time in my adult life I do not have a ‘love interest’. And it feels wonderful. So much energy to give to myself, my puppy, my work, home and true friends. My standards are high and that’s the way they are going to stay.

  • This is a beautiful post! Mine was final on Monday morning of this week so this is especially meaningful to me. Thank you!

  • Twice divorced here too. First one was a beater, second one was a cheater. Just celebrated 16 years away from Psycho number 1…. and over the last few years realized he was not nearly as abusive as Psycho number 2.

    Anyway…. I doubt I will ever marry or be in a Serious relationship again. I’m just over it.

    • Me too. So. Over. It.

      The rest of my days on this earth are for me. My parents ruined my childhood, my husband ruined the rest.

      No one else is taking a single day of my peace and safety.

  • When my divorce papers showed up in the mail. I read through them and noticed the judges signature and stamp date was July 3. My favorite one line joke was that my divorce was July 3rd…the closet day I could get to Independence Day… always got a laugh.

    • That is funny.

      The stamp on mine was of all days 14 Feb. One of the few valentines gifts he ever gave me.

    • I didn’t even bother to ask the date of my divorce. The lawyer handled it all. I only came to know the date when some other legal issues came up.

      There are worse things than divorce …. not being divorced being one of them.

    • Believe it or not, my divorce was just finalized on April 1st this year – April Fool’s Day. No joke! The irony of it is not lost on me.

  • Divorce saved my life. I went from having three to four panic attacks a week to maybe once a month after my divorce. If that’s something to be ashamed of, I’ll wear my red D with honor.

    • Me too! No more panic attacks, feelings of anxiety, sleepless nights, waking up exhausted, trouble breathing/needing an inhaler, etc. Even my physical appearance changed dramatically… lost weight, skin cleared up and my eyes and hair were shiny again. Several people mentioned the changes and that I looked happier and younger than I had in a long time.

      It’s amazing how our bodies react to stress that we are not even aware is happening.

      I proudly wear my red D, as well 🙂

  • Karmeh, I understand about feeling stuck, and thinking the other party won.

    Can I give you some unsolicited advice?

    1) Stop looking at them. You sound like you know a lot about them for someone who has no reason to be still involved with him.

    So I don’t know where your information is coming from, but shut it down. Go deep No Contact. They are dead to you.

    2) Obviously I don’t know your financial situation, but maybe help with budgeting, refinancing loans, and other strategies might help. There are charities that help people with this kind of thing for no charge.

    3) What other people? Who is this invisible army of shame?

    I’m middle aged too, and I’m absolutely certain that pretty much no one is looking at me, ever. And they’re definitely not thinking about me.

    So I think you can rest easy on this one.

    4) Here’s a useful mental exercise. The Universe Pixie just appeared to you and told you, “You’re going to be single for the rest of your life.” This is non-negotiable and absolutely certain.

    So how are you going to live your life?

    You have more options than you think.

    • Lola Granola,
      This is brilliant what you wrote:
      “What other people? Who is this invisible army of shame?
      I’m middle aged too, and I’m absolutely certain that pretty much no one is looking at me, ever. And they’re definitely not thinking about me.
      So I think you can rest easy on this one.”

      Who is this invisible army of shame — spot on. And if you watched Schitt’s Creek, there’s some sage advice throughout the show, but one moment I made even my 15 year old son watch was in Season 3 (SPOILER ALERT) when David has to take his driving test. And he’s having anxiety and freaking out about it. He asks his sister Alexis to give him 20 minutes to meditate before he “fails the test.” And she says that he’s acting all sorts of crazy because “this honestly does not matter – nobody cares.” He says that “people care” and he cares and the driving instructor cares. And she says “no he doesn’t. Trust me… people aren’t thinking about you the way you are thinking about you.” She repeats to him as he leaves for his test “David, nobody cares.” And in the end, he realizes that the driving instructor has his own things going on. The driving instructor doesn’t really care. Alexis is right. (here’s the segment on youtube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkXAutT_6Wc

      Karmeh, don’t worry about what other people might be thinking. Just take care of you and ignore the invisible army in your head.

    • I am 100% no contact have been since D day when he ran off . I’ve only looked at her Facebook once ( when I found out her name)

      The only reason I know anything is I live in a small community and they were in the local paper with their children ( baby 1 was during my marriage ) but everyone knows everyone here.

      I lost my job due to covid ( my work closed down ) I’ve only recently got another job but it’s only 3 days a week and as much as I’ve tried I can’t get a full time or other part time job ( we are still in partial lockdown level 3 we are at just now ) so money is tight . I can stretch it but it’s hard going .

      They invited mutual friends to their wedding ( they didn’t go) but I do wonder if people in my community think oh see well here’s her alone and he’s remarried something happened

      Oh I’ve been visited by that pixie and I know I’ll be single forever I’m still trying to accept that 😀

      • Karmeh,
        I hear you. For me it is not at all a matter of shame, it is a matter of the social pain and the cost. Being financially in worse circumstances. I start not to like this thing that all should be good. No, it is not. One is alone. One is struggling financially. Jobs hard to get. Responsible for relatives’ care-taking all on one’s own. The lost opportunity of being married to a decent person. The less likely possibility of finding a new partner.
        What else do I need to pile up onto the allostatic load?
        This stuff is real. It’s not about what others might or might not think. It’s the social pain of it.
        At the very least, and it would just begin to address the issue, divorce should come with monetary compensation for damages. The way it is, it is an insult. It sides with the fraudsters.
        Yes, I am out of this specific abuse, but in how many other ways am I hurting now that I am out?

        • Flower, yes. It’s true. The financial fallout is what keeps so many women, in particular, trapped in shitty marriages.

          In my early 40s I seriously considered entering a shitty marriage just to improve my financial situation.

          I can’t offer anything, except to say that I get it.

          And maybe do an equally ruthless inventory of your assets? What you’ve gained?

          It’s hard now, but it may actually get better.

          Chump Lady has some good stuff in the archives about how to improve your financial situation.

      • And Karmeh,
        That of having children with the other woman, after not wanting any with you, is absolutely horrid. It’s a kick in the teeth.
        Lundy Bancroft has a paragraph regarding abandoners (I was abandoned too, no children): it is just one last gesture of abuse. Abandonment is abuse.

        • Karmeh, Flower, same experience with baby making here.
          He already had children, and officially we broke up because I wanted a baby (although I first wanted our relationship to become more balanced before taking such a step) and he was completely adversed of having one more. Then he changed his mind, we were meant to get back just before the Covid crisis. But as I wasn’t enthousiast enough (= had become careful + setting standards regarding his toxic behaviour) he found easier prey and got some random woman pregnant instead, showing it off on social media with references to the moment when we should have gotten together.

          Strange thing is, I have been able to discuss this with some sweet friends but only up to a certain extent. Most people haven’t experienced such a thing, so I guess they just don’t know what it feels like to be exposed to this level of human ugliness. What creeps me out too is that the FW is admired by many people, as on the surface he seems such a nice guy. I just want to scream and yell to them what a perverted fucktard he really is. Would the new mom of his kid know what she has run into?

          So hear I am, after living in Covid isolation for a year, soon to turn 39 and single. It’s not where I dreamt to be, but in the same time I’ve been doing some great stuff for myself and finally am giving myself the chance to go for the career I have so long dreamt about, move out of town and all that. What I really learnt from this: I really no longer care what other people think of me. Just the thought of it makes me tired.

          Now I just want peace. If you’re not peace, you’re not getting into my life. That’s about it.

      • Hey, the Universe Pixie is just a useful focusing exercise! He isn’t real!

        Whether you partner up or not in the future is entirely within your control. You could get married within a month or so if you lowered your standards completely.

        What I’m saying is: re-partnering shouldn’t be the determinant of your happiness.

        So what SHOULD be?

        I don’t know. But you do.

        This exercise is about getting yourself back – your authentic self – and finding out what SHE really wants to do with her life.

        I’m so sorry things have been so shitty with COVID19 for you. And it must suck to have to be exposed to the ex because you live in a smaller community.

        Loneliness isn’t a crime, and partnering up isn’t its only cure. You sound as if loneliness is hitting you harder right now.

        The cure IS other people, but not a partner – especially not right now, because your self esteem is pretty low.

        But there’s lots of ways of connecting with other people, from the superficial to the more vulnerable.

    • Lola Granola, what a fantastic post!!

      The Universe Pixie just bopped me on the head with their wand and I love this image!

      I would just add that there are married people who won’t admit it but they are sometimes jealous of us divorced folks. And when I think of most married people I know well, I can honestly say I don’t envy them their marriages (with the exception of 3 couples, one of which is a lesbian couple, and another couple is dead – my parents).

      I don’t mind compromise and sacrifice, but what I see in most couples I know is someone who has given up too much, in my opinion. Sometimes it’s the man who sacrifices too much, but more often it’s the woman (we live in a male-dominated world and too many people of both sexes think it’s OK for women to defer more often to the husband’s preferences and desires).

      I have a beloved nephew who has thrown away his life (his parents think so too) to be with a manipulative, immature (personality disordered?) girl who isn’t even close to his moral and intellectual equal. He knows it will never be a “50-50” relationship, that he’ll always give more. That marriage makes me sad.

      Most married women I know are NOT thrilled about a lot of their husbands’ behaviors but they’re glad that “he can fix things around the house.” In my opinion they put up with a lot of crap just to have a live-in handyman.

      Bottom line: just because someone is married doesn’t mean they’re in a better place or luckier than we are – in fact, they may secretly wish to be US!

    • You are so wise, LG. “I’m middle aged too, and I’m absolutely certain that pretty much no one is looking at me, ever. And they’re definitely not thinking about me.” IMO there is real power in the invisibility of middle aged femaleness. I wear what I like and what is comfortable. I more often than not leave my house with no make up on. I eat to be healthy and satisfied, not to be thin. I can do all that because I am absolutely sure no.one. is. looking. at. me. 😀 I try to go about my business without a single concern what other people are thinking about my exterior. I hope they notice my good heart but otherwise, critics can pound sand. I am 59 and I am training myself to give absolutely no fucks whatsoever for my remaining time on earth. From now on it is going to be all about me being the best me I can be for my own satisfaction and no one else’s.

      • 51 here. The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘elasticised waist’.

        Discovering the concept of self-efficacy was transformative for me.

        Also having a life purpose. It’s hugely fulfilling.

        I look now at all the time I spent dating and being in relationships, and I think: ‘Why did I set my sights on something so small?’

  • Marriages should end with a champagne toast as well as begin with one.
    May your new life bring you joy!

    • Yes! Friends came over the night my divorce was final and we had champagne and laughed together. It was fabulous! Freedom from FW!!

      • My best friend and I did a shot of top shelf tequila to celebrate my divorce, then we went on with our evening because he just didn’t matter anymore.

  • On a play date with my kids the other mom was asking a lot of questions about the kids’ dad. I didn’t know her before this day so didn’t go off about the divorce, just answered her questions, and finally the answer was “We’re getting divorced. So he will not be moving back after (job).”

    She looked at me and said, “I don’t…uh… What do you want people to say in this situation?”

    I just said, it’s probably different for everyone but for me, it was my decision to divorce, so no condolences needed. It was because of things he did, but still my decision and I’m happy with it even though it’s not always easy for the kids. Sometimes it’s just necessary.

    She went on to tell me about someone in her church leadership that gave a talk about her (church lady’s) own divorce. I don’t know what this church lady said, but according to kid’s friend’s mom, it was enlightening because people usually don’t talk about divorce.

    If people don’t want to hear about it, fine. But I think the more we are open about the reality of divorce the more it helps other people who want to be supportive but have internalized the shame narrative at some point. I fully believe this other mom really did not want to judge me at all, but was struggling against what she had been taught all her life. Let’s teach them something new.

  • The secret to having no shame is to share everything.

    Yes – I am divorced, sober,on antidepressants.

    I am also financially comfortable, well educated and kind.

    I hide nothing and I have zero worried people are talking behind my back. My skeletons are on display.

    It is true liberation.

    • Me too! I overshare about the infidelity and divorce for sure. And it makes people uncomfortable for sure. But I spent too many years keeping secrets – abusive father, insecurity, etc. so if someone asks they hear my story. I realize some of my telling is to justify my divorce to make me not look like the bad guy. I’ve stopped that. Some of it however is to process which I am still doing and I think that is necessary. I just remember the phrase ‘you wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you realized how little they do. Most people are just trying to manage their own struggles and if I am a topic of their conversation or thought, they are truly leading boring lives. Hugs!

    • Not even oversharing – just BEING HONEST about painful stuff.

      Telling the truth is the direct route to much better mental health.

      The energy required to continue living a lie, and telling a lie, is very draining. People only do it because they’re more scared of telling the truth.

      And yet when you rip the bandaid off, it’s amazingly liberating.

  • Yesterday I got a call from a friend that I hadn’t heard from in maybe 7 or 8 years. She was not on Facebook and we lost touch. We re-discovered each other and she called me. I suddenly wasn’t sure if she knew that I’m divorced (for over 5 years now). But being the wonderfully forthright person she is, she asked me pretty quickly and point blank. I guess I had sent her a holiday card a few years ago with just me and my son on it, so she had put two and two together.

    I didn’t even hesitate with my response. “Yup! Divorced from (FW). I’ll fill you in…”

    And now she wants me to help a friend of hers who is having difficulty with it. Happy to. Of course, first step is to direct them to CL and LACGAL.

    When it comes to my divorce, I’ve lost all shame. I feel like this is the best thing I’ve done for myself and my son. And I feel like every time I let people know and show that I am strong and empowered, an angel gets its wings.

  • When the subject comes up, I usually tell someone I’m Happily Divorced. That’s it, no other detail. They can fill in the blanks with what that means. To me, it means I’m liberated. It means I live my life with people who respect me and love me. It means I choose my future. It means I’m stronger now than when I was ‘happily married’. I’m proud to shed the shame and consider myself Happily Divorced.

  • Amazing post.

    I’m also divorced twice.

    While I was going through my first divorce I was the piano player for my church and lots of people knew me. Word got around that I was divorcing and I got through it, but secretly wondered what people were thinking.

    One of the people I wondered about made a kind remark to me afterwards, saying, “You look happy,” or something. So I said, “You know, I was kind of wondering about your take on it all.” (There was no cheating; I divorced because of a cocaine addiction that went on for 15 years.) And he said, “We all know what you’ve been going through and the elders have been praying for you and asking God to release you from shame and guilt, and hoping that you could move forward with your life as a great mother for your kids.” And I marveled at that. It wasn’t what I was expecting that people were thinking.

    It wasn’t really shame or guilt that I had been worried about so much, as doing the RIGHT thing. Doing what was best in God’s eyes, no matter the pain for me. Pleasing Him. I was projecting forward and trying to figure out how to live with the responsibility of the divorce on my shoulders. How to help the kids navigate the pain when I knew that I caused some of it. (I thought that THEN. NOW I think that he caused most of the pain and I took us a distance from his pain.) I reasoned that God was sovereign (he allowed my situation) and He was sufficient (He would care for me in the situation that He allowed.)

    This man’s words still resonate with me today. (And he said them decades ago.) The word “release” was a word he used, and something released in me the moment he said it. After that I ceased to wonder what people thought. I must have decided that everyone thought as he thought. I don’t know how one man’s opinion became so valuable to me – over time – but it did. And the fact that he said “move forward with your life as a GREAT mother for your kids,” instead of as a “SINGLE mother for your kids,” was encouraging. He was a wise one. It made me think that he thought of me as a great mother, and it gave me courage to keep going and to keep focusing on that. Afterwards, when I heard the term “SINGLE PARENT,” I thought “GREAT MOTHER.”

    I wasn’t proud of the divorce. But I was proud of me for stepping out of the southern Christian comfort zone and doing the thing that was best all around. Taking the risk of doing the wrong thing upon myself rather than hoping that things would change (after 15 years,) and risking my own children’s future for that hope and for that self-righteousness.

    During the decision-making process, which took five years, a story kept going through my mind. It was one of those day dreams that come to me sometimes when I’m wrestling with which way to go. In this particular dream, I was in a crowded restaurant with my two kids, and a sniper walked in the door and started firing at random at everybody. I took my kids, got under the table, and shielded them with my body, and I did this instinctively. I didn’t calmly sit at the table with them and say, “God is sovereign. He is sufficient.” and trust Him to direct the sniper’s fire away from us. No, I did my part. I could not NOT do my part. I got us to a safer spot.

    So I did my part and got us all a divorce. Years later he quit cocaine. And the cocaine itself made him hate marijuana, so he quit all drugs, and didn’t move the addiction over to anything else. He just didn’t want or need them any more. He told me after he had been clean and sober for a while, “Your divorcing me was one of the reasons I was able to quit. It was shocking when you did it, and then I was alone with just the drug. I saw that my decision to use drugs to numb the pain of my childhood created way more pain for me, because it took you and the kids away. So every time I did it after you left, I thought, ‘This is why she left.’ And then I just saw it as a counterfeit and didn’t want it any more.”

    I wonder if cheating is any different? Isn’t it some kind of counterfeit that numbs the cheater’s pain of needing so much, never being happy, never counting the blessing of the home fire, and never realizing that the only thing he will want on his deathbed will be the comforting touch of one of his family members? He’s got the real deal and he doesn’t even value it.

    • “I wonder if cheating is any different? Isn’t it some kind of counterfeit that numbs the cheater’s pain of needing so much, never being happy, never counting the blessing of the home fire, and never realizing that the only thing he will want on his deathbed will be the comforting touch of one of his family members? He’s got the real deal and he doesn’t even value it.”

      Light heart, I understand what you are asking. It is an exercise in holding two opposing thoughts/feelings/viewpoints at once. I struggle with this with my FW father (FWF). I am also doing a lot of personal work in trying to understand trauma. I’ve read three of Gabor Mate’s books and they have expanded my viewpoint on addictive behaviors. Yes, FWF had some severe trauma when he was a child. I do believe that his actions – all the ‘holics like work, alcohol, attention/neediness, porn, eating, shopping, all of them – are reflections of his deep, deep trauma. I have compassion for that, I really do.

      On the other hand, it is each person’s responsibility to not be destructive assholes and to contribute positively to society (at least that’s my opinion). So I have compassion, but…. FWF did a lot of damage to our family as a unit, each of us individually, and others whom he’s interacted with throughout his life.

      “…the only thing he will want on his deathbed will be the comforting touch of one of his family members…”

      FWF was just diagnosed with Covid. He has all of the bad comorbidities that make Covid especially dangerous for him (heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension). He has fucked around his whole life and done nothing but what he wanted to do. Seems like he had a great life while making others miserable. And now that he’s at the end of it, if Covid is what gets him, he’ll be dying alone. His wife of 54 years just divorced him. He moved to another state where his kids don’t live. He pays people to hang out with him and has very superficial relationships. He’s still trying to get laid by people young enough to be his daughter or grand-daughter. It is really, really, really pathetic. His value system is very fucked up. And he’s so *in it* that he doesn’t see it or understand it or try to do anything different so that in his final days (whenever they may be) he will be surrounded by people who care about him and whom he loves. He really missed the boat. The rest of my family are amazing people. He is a man-child.

      I feel like asking him, “was it worth it?” Was it worth it to fuck around your whole life? To abandon your family? To neglect your family? To cheat on your wife who is like a saint? To have superficial meaningless relationships? To do only what you want without regard for others? To go along in a haze? To have people not want to be around you because of the way you treat them? You are going to die alone because of this. Was it worth it?

      If you’re interested in reading Gabor Mate, he is a great writer and is very clear. I’ve read “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” and “Scattered” and “When the Body Says No.” All excellent books.

      • Thank you for these! I haven’t read them and I will.

        Oh, I’m sad for you and I’m glad that you got out of there. I’d have the same questions that you have for your ex. Was it worth it? Surely he knows it wasn’t.

        But maybe not.

        I didn’t mean that everyone sees the light or that everyone understands in the end. Some people are just so lost. Knowing he’s struggling for breath somewhere in some hospital is a stressful thought. Hugs for you and prayers for him, even if he caused pain and havoc everywhere he went.

      • Bullshit….I agree with what you said
        I had so much compassion for H#1 and all his problems – I blamed his mistreatment of me on his big time issues. I justified the emotional trauma he put me through for years. If I could have a do over- I’d have compassion from afar, and not let him do so much damage to my self-esteem. Nothing like being subtly (then later overtly) devalued for years while living with a H with a secret porn addiction to take the wind out of you.
        Unbelievably, I also had compassion for H #2 as I saw his discarding me for married OW as self-destructive. Thankfully the compassion didn’t last as long.

        This blog helped with my compassion problem! Messed up people don’t all wickedly betray loving and supportive spouses – and then blame-shift. After what I’ve been through, I feel messed up – but I wouldn’t use it as an excuse to covertly abuse another ( even though sadly they’re in denial about their actions being abusive).

    • “He told me after he had been clean and sober for a while, “Your divorcing me was one of the reasons I was able to quit. It was shocking when you did it, and then I was alone with just the drug. I saw that my decision to use drugs to numb the pain of my childhood created way more pain for me, because it took you and the kids away. So every time I did it after you left, I thought, ‘This is why she left.’ And then I just saw it as a counterfeit and didn’t want it any more.””

      And this is why we do it – well, it’s another good reason.

      It’s excruciating to realise, as a kind and chumpy Chump, that all your help ISN’T HELPING.

      What’s really going to help – potentially – is removing yourself from the equation. Permanently.

      Consequences can be life-saving.

      For those Chumps who stay because they ‘love’ their abuser/addict/cheater, this shift in perspective can also be life-saving.

  • I think I overshare as well. But frankly, I do not give a shit. I’m genuine. You’ll never have to play PR for me to craft a fake image. I’m exactly who I say I am. My wife’s infidelity is not my shame to carry. It hurt. It wrecked the plans I had for my life. But you can’t control someone else’s decisions; only your own. No other choice but to rebuild.

    Personally, I find it more embarrassing to stay with a cheater. That’s much more humiliating than seeing someone throw up the peace sign to a person who betrayed them.

  • I fall in the camp of not sharing information about myself with people I don’t know, or consider an acquaintance, not a friend. I have few friends, and most of them already know my life, but I tell them anything they want to know. I trust they will ask the right type of question. I tell some people, including my sons, that some things are none of their business, and it is rude to ask. I bare my heart to chump nation. I agree that most people do not know, or care, about most personal information. In addition, I have grown to a place in MEH where I do not care what they think, either. It is really quite peaceful.

    The hardest issue I had to deal with in my life was not cheaters and liars. I had to deprogram my thinking from the dysfunctional belief system of my FOO. That took some doing. I believe that is the source or our belief we should not make mistakes and lead a perfect life, and turn a blind eye to the faults of others. That is definitely where I learned to hold men to a different (lower) standard. Men were powerful, and didn’t have to answer to women in their world.

    When you are programed to believe you deserve to be “less than”, and have to accept the consequences of the actions of others, you are codependent. This is insidious, and pervades your entire thinking/living /decision making process. This is where shame develops.

    When I was young, I did what was expected of me most of the time. Some of the habits were healthy, some were not. For example, I still believe in daily hygiene, going to school or work, paying my bills, caring for my young. I do not believe you have to marry to have sex, or you “should be” married, or that you cannot be happy without a mate in your life. Every day I now live a happy, peaceful life. This proves (to me) I do not “have to” care what my FOO think.

    I also do not have to be ashamed of decisions I made before I ditched the negative FOO influences, and codependency. That was as hard as being physically addicted to any substance, in my opinion, because the needed fix was internalized. I didn’t have to do anything untoward to support my habit, I lived my habit. Now I live my authentic life, for me. If someone doesn’t like it, they can take a walk to somewhere else. I no longer care.

    Some people make more mistakes than others, all of us are on a different learning curve. Your “number” doesn’t really mean much. Who are you now? Who do you want to be? That means everything, in my opinion.

    • Just a humorous aside, do you remember the TV show Designing Women? The characters were great. I wanted to be Julia (Dixie Carter). Anyway, the character of Anthony had been in jail at one time in his youth. He always called it, “my unfortunate incarceration”. That’s how I view my marriages. Free at last, free at last .. !

    • Portia!

      I think something similar happened to me! I grew up with shame because I grew up with the idea that I was a reflection of my parents and my family. The shame came from knowing that I didn’t deserve the attention and admiration that was given to us, (falsely.) I hadn’t done a thing to earn it.

      I carried the shame over to my marriage. There was no way I could make it into a perfect picture, as my family had been for others. In a good way, I learned to accept authenticity, and not to need the picture for others. I finally saw that thing for what it was; a believable mirage. A big fat lie. In a bad way, I kept striving to get that perfect family happening – I wanted it so badly – and I could not do it.

      Probably my friend, who told me he’d been praying that I’d be released from shame and guilt, was referring to the shame I felt about my marriage, not about getting a divorce. He used the term “release” when talking about divorcing. He wanted me to be free at last! And I finally allowed myself to be. Free from the marriage. Free from needing that family image.

      • Light Heart, I never really thought about the fact that I was ashamed of my Foo – so much dysfunction and a FW borderline personality disordered messed up dad.
        I married twice – both to men who came from seemingly perfect families ( no divorce, no addictions, high achieving, close siblings).
        Both H’s had wonderful qualities admired by all ( I was told I was so lucky)- but both had a secret dark side and the emotional development of a 12 yr old.
        H #1 made a point of repeatedly letting me know in subtle ways how much better and more successful his family was.

        It’s like today’s article – instead of being proud that I turned out OK with so many challenges from my childhood, I wanted to marry into a solid wonderful family and hide my Foo. Turns out neither family was perfect and one was extremely enmeshed – both kept their son’s very high on a pedestal and had domineering mom’s -worshipped by their sons.

        • Zip, thank you for this:

          “instead of being proud that I turned out OK with so many challenges from my childhood, I wanted to marry into a solid wonderful family and hide my Foo. Turns out neither family was perfect and one was extremely enmeshed – both kept their son’s very high on a pedestal and had domineering mom’s -worshipped by their sons.”

          Same here. I dated a few guys like this: the Golden Child with the Perfect Family, hiding a mess of enmeshment, sexual weirdness, and cheating.

          And I totally saw marriage as a way of erasing all the FOO stuff, plus assuring my financial security. The idea that I might be able to support myself was unthinkable.

          I’d been told consistently that I would be unemployable unless I became a secretary or got some other kind of job in ‘the real world’.

          I was lucky enough to go to university fully government subsidized, and I loved it. I worked part time in a supermarket while I studied full time.

          For this, I was called a parasite by family members who worked full-time. I left home at 19 partly because I was so sick of hearing this.

          I then got a scholarship and stayed at university, and have been employed at above-average salaries for most of my life. I’ve got really transferable skills and am a very good employee.

          But this took me YEARS to realise. I was constantly haunted by the idea of being unemployable and broke because I had ‘wasted time’ and taxpayer’s money at university.

          And this helped drive me into shitty relationships, and keep me in them, because if I didn’t get married, I’d be homeless.

          I’m still not married, and I almost own my half of the house I bought nine years ago with my unmarried sister (who is also my best friend).

          My life totally did NOT turn out the way I thought, or wanted, or expected. But I’m really happy because I’m trying to watch the donut 🍩, not the hole.

          The donut is WONDERFUL. Being Cheater-free is priceless.

  • Does CL still publish articles? She has such a unique voice and perspective. As someone divorced 2X…..( never in a million yrs would have predicted that – loyal and committed to a fault )- I really appreciate this rerun.
    I used to feel worked up when I’d hear someone claiming that they are still married because THEY really worked at it. Another narrative that has to change. We don’t all end up divorced because we didn’t make an effort.

    • Yep, some do work hard and sacrifice a lot. I know I tried hard the last year when I knew something was horribly wrong. There are things I would have done differently if I had known anything about the commonality of infidelity. But, it was a different time.

      On Dday, I was drop kicked, there was no chance in the short term for me to work on it. (thank God)

      By the time he did circle back I knew how dangerous he was, and I knew he was not really wanting the marriage or me back.

    • Eh, all you know for sure is that they’re still married. That’s it.

      Only means that they haven’t divorced….not that their live is worth living.

      Sometimes simply staying married is the easiest and most cowardly path.

  • Divorcing a cheater should be regarded as comparable to beating cancer: reason to ring a bell and shake a raised fist while loved ones gather round and cheer. Maybe also wear a green ribbon, since that’s the color of new growth, and also connotes mental health awareness, and the sanest thing I ever did was leave a serial cheater.

  • I just want to address the thing about shame in CL’s post. I know that a lot of fuckwits act shameless. But my STBX, and a lot of cheaters I’ve read about on this site, clearly is full to the brim of toxic shame. It’s why she could never have the conversation about my feelings post-D-Day #2: she just went right to the shame place, and then blamed me for “shaming and punishing” her.

    In the excellent Tina Turner documentary on HBO that I mentioned in another comment above, Tina says a number of very prescient things about what kept her stuck in an abusive marriage for many years, and how she’s worked to fix her picker afterward. She says, “I deserve a man without shame, who can see the beautiful woman I am.”

    When our cheaters are so full of shame – from FOO issues, from disorder, whatever – they CANNOT see us or interact with us in reasonable, emotionally healthy ways. No amount of couples therapy can help with that. If that happens, it’s time to leave the relationship and drop the burden of THEIR shame, as Tina did so mightily.

  • I’m so glad the chump whose cheater chose to leave them was mentioned in this post. I’ve felt a lot of shame because my ex husband chose to leave me, and I’ve felt like I didn’t stand up for myself. My friend told me once that I did though. I laid out a list of things he would have to do in order to reconcile, and he didn’t last two weeks. She said I stood up for myself then. It seems like a very small stand though. It’s like a double rejection…cheated on and then discarded for the OW. Oh, and yeah…I had to file for the divorce and do all the work… nothing new. That’s how our entire relationship was.

    • Shy, yes some of us were dumped by our cheater – we didn’t get the choice. It makes you feel like absolute garbage when you initially beg to work it out and you’re basically told you’re not worth it. It still shocks me that this happened at the hands of a H I had put on a pedestal. I would love to say that I left him rather than the truth that I was suddenly discarded.
      With the time I’ve moved to focussing on the fact that he was a cheater and supreme liar and manipulator. Basically a very messed up person who looked great on the outside.
      We don’t know why some of them dump us and some of them want to stay. I think in my case, he wouldn’t have been able to handle what he did (and live with my pain- and face a fallout with coworker OW). Easier to run and have a big story around this is his twu love and it was justified because of bla bla bla.

      • >>beg to work it out and you’re basically told you’re not worth it.

        They’re projecting, since they’re the ones who aren’t worth it. The horrible depths of how they were worse than worthless in a relationship becomes more and more clear with time. Parasites who leave when you ask them to grow up. When they realize you can’t be the parent forever.

        They reject adulting more so than you. Somehow this reminds me of all those scriptures where God said something along the lines of: “If they reject you, they rejected me first”, “If they hate you, they hated me first”, ….

      • ” It makes you feel like absolute garbage when you initially beg to work it out and you’re basically told you’re not worth it. ”

        So true. Then I did give my ex another chance when he “changed his mind” and wanted to try again. He treated me like shit for a week before I told him to leave.

        Then I gave up and started to work on recovering. (All this happened just a few weeks after he filed for D.

        Then six months later (we were still legally separated) our preacher called and said he wanted to have a session and talk about “trying again”. I went, I knew I was not going to go back, but I guess I was curious; and I think a part of me just wanted to look him in the eye and say go to hell. Keep in mind he had not spoken a word to me other than once to call and threaten me that if I didn’t do the divorce settlement the way he wanted he would tell his lawyer to sell it all.

        Anyway I went. I don’t remember saying much of anything, except once I said, “I am not a consolation prise”. He spit out a few things wrong with me, then he turned to me and said “I can’t make any promises”. Make any promises? you fucking idiot you should be on your knees begging me, shove your promises of your ass and the ass of the whore you rode in on, is what I should have said. But, I just looked at our preacher and said “thank you for trying to help, but we are done here” and I walked out.

        He called a few times after that, each time was a big NO. The last time he called was just a few weeks before he married the whore. Gee wonder if I made the right decision.

        I wondered after the fact what in the world he was trying to do. He didn’t want me back, but he had to have something in his mind.

        • Susie Lee, when I first met one of my Cheaters, at a group kind-of first date, I emailed him afterwards and said I didn’t think it would work out.

          He was shocked. Shocked, I say. He scolded me for not giving him a proper chance.

          Turns out that everything that followed was driven by the fact that he wanted to be the one who did the dumping, not me.

          And three months later, that’s what he did. And this set us up nicely for around three years of folie a deux with a rinse and spin relationship cycle.

          I was so relieved when he finally told me about the official OW. It was like being cut out of a car crash with the jaws of life.

          I should add that I was 38 and he was 40 when we met. So not exactly teenagers, who at least have an excuse for this kind of shit

        • ‘ you fucking idiot you should be on your knees begging me, shove your promises of your ass and the ass of the whore you rode in on, is what I should have said’
          We hear you Susie.

  • Excellent!

    We are divorced because we believe in the pillars of a healthy marriage.

    Thank you again CL, you are the best.

  • I think, for me, I felt like I didn’t try hard enough to save my marriage.

    The ex cheated on me several years before that and I stuck it out and many people were praising us for staying together to work on it.

    I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t really say that my more.

    Little did I know-that 99% of my friends actually said, “It’s about time! Your ex is a creeper and a smug asshole. YOU were the only reason we were friends to begin with!”

    I have to admit-that did feel pretty good to hear since I could never understand why we would lose some friendships and when I asked my ex about it, he’d always say the SAME thing: “Well-obviously YOU did or said something to drive them away.”

    Now-I’ll admit that I’m an over sharer and not a wallflower or a Stepford Wife. I have my own opinions that I vocalize when I feel like it-and I would actually spend hours trying to figure out what I did and how I could change into a person that people WANT to hang around with.

    Turns out-it wasn’t me. Our couples friends and my female friends got tired of being hit on by my husband.

    I’m so thankful that I don’t have to put up with his bullshit anymore. I dumped a cheater and gained a backbone.

    Now-I can joke about the divorce….a lot of people were shocked that we were getting a divorce because we APPEARED to be so happy together. My ex told me he wanted me to say ” Irreconcilable Differences” so he wouldn’t look like the bad guy. When people ask me, “What happened?” My over sharing tells them:

    “Irreconcilable Differences. He wanted a girlfriend and a wife at the same time-and I couldn’t reconcile with that.”

    • You lost friends because of him. What a relief to know that! How validating!

      Even when we were married, my ex couldn’t seem to keep golf or fishing partners. One and done. I think he was unpleasant to be around, even doing something that he loved. At least one of these men told me this recently.

      I’ve somewhat enjoyed noticing that post Dday my ex has lost so many friends AND family members (not just the ones on my side–that goes without saying–but also many on HIS side).

      Turns out that people don’t like cheaters, and he never bothered to cultivate true friendships (with minor exceptions). Either that or he’s incapable (which is my therapist’s theory). Anyway, now he has the sadz. #allmyfault

      And the OW must have the sadz, too. She and my ex giggled mindlessly while running and tossing grenades behind them, destroying two families. Alas, the exciting tryst stage is over!!! My not-at-meh-yet self hopes she’s having many oh-shit, face-palm moments. No tag backs!!

      He sold her a vision of a future full of friends, family, and financial freedom! Turns out he’s a miserable, moody AF man without many friends or family (NONE of his kids). Oh, and his net worth took a sizable hit in the divorce. #greatlawyer

      • I just want to add that I knew he was unpleasant with me and our kids, I just foolishly thought that he miraculously became pleasant for “the guys.” (Just as I sometimes now foolishly think he’s pleasant for the OW. 🙄🤦🏻‍♀️)

        And if you wonder what I mean by an unpleasant golfer, here’s an exchange we had on the golf course (Btw, I happily gave away my clubs when we divorced. Hate golf.)

        Me: “Good shot.”
        Him: “How could you say that was a good shot? That was a terrible shot.”

        To this beginner golfer, it looked good. It went up in the air and stayed in the fairway. Geezus.

        He stomped ahead. I looked for my ball in the rough, feeling miserable.

        NOTE: I will NEVER take on someone else’s pastime unless I love it. For some reason, he always begged me to play with him. Oh, now I know why. No one else wanted to. Back to my original point. I was used. Classic.

        • I used to think that my ex had EVERYONE snowed-but now-people are seeing who he really is-and they don’t like him.

          My ex’s hobby was home projects (which never got done. Took me 10 years to get master bathroom redone).

          Now I can’t stand home improvement shows.

          Divorce is a real great way to weed out the friends.

          I’m SO glad to be out of that house! He was weed whacking the other day when I picked up my daughter from his house-and a pebble hit his sliding glass window and shattered it. That was 2 weeks ago and it still hasn’t been fixed. He painted the boys’ bathroom months ago and never installed the bathroom fan-nor did he paint the trim.

          I never wanted any friends to come over because they would chastise ME for not making him get the projects done.

          Now I have people over all the time and I’m proud that my house is finished and tidy.

        • We married the same man Spinach. Whenever I read your posts I am struck by the similarities. When he had been particularly obnoxious, I used to say ‘if you talk to your work colleagues the same way you talk to me, you won’t be very popular’. He wasn’t popular!

  • But how do you change the personal narrative of shame? I do feel shame, and cognitively I know it wasn’t my fault, but I still am shamed by the cheating.

    I don’t care what other people think, that’s not where the shame is coming from. It’s all internal and I have no idea how to stop that feeling.

    • Fearful&loathing,

      I’m no counselor. And I’m not even sure if it’s okay to give advice here, but I felt shame too, and knew it wasn’t my fault, and I still felt it for a long time, too.

      I’m trying to figure out what I might do if I were you, and here’s a thought: how about just going into it?

      Should on yourself a bit… “You’re not beautiful enough to keep your man. You’re not sexy enough to keep your man. Your man had to look elsewhere because you didn’t cook for him enough. Your house wasn’t clean enough. No wonder he’s out with so and so. You’re not smart enough. You’re not a spiffy dresser. You’re not a conversationalist. You’re not into science. You hate sports.

      Now reverse those thoughts: You love sports. You are into science. You love to make good conversation. Your clothes are awesome. You are smart. Your house is clean. You did cook him amazing meals. You are so sensual and sexual. You are beautiful, way more beautiful than the other woman.

      For each of the things you didn’t do, or that you weren’t, you could probably write out three examples of times that you did do those things, or that you were those things by nature.

      I think that his actions are removed from who you are or who you aren’t. Who you are and what you did or did not do did not cause his behavior. He chose his behavior as you chose yours.

      But real shame? Maybe we all have things that cause us real shame and remorse. Simple solution: ask for forgiveness. Then believe you’re forgiven. Then proceed in accordance with that belief.

      That’s my two cents, if it makes sense!

    • The shame comes from giving others the power to determine your worth, and it’s hard to shake.

      Take your power back.

      For me, it started when I realized that I know, with 100% of my heart, that I am a good person. I am nice. I am thoughtful. I care about other people’s feelings. I do nice things for people. I say kind things. I work hard. I take good care of my child.

      When you can pull apart that what he did has nothing to do with you, that’s when the shame starts to ease. He did it because he wanted to. He would cheat on anyone and everyone, because that’s what he likes to do. It had nothing to do with you because he didn’t even consider you. He doesn’t care about other people’s feelings. He is NOT a good person.

      Your worth is yours to know in your heart, yours to keep, and yours to cherish.

      • Thankyou, NotAnymore. I’ll just have to keep repeating the cheating wasn’t about me. Maybe my heart will catch up with my head.

        • Fearful&loathing,
          You might want to look into the works of John Bradshaw on shame that binds.
          Toxic shame is a rather complicated thing and can be crippling.

          My FsOO were/are shame-based, and they shame is thrown onto the next generation by parents, as a thing to get relief from the shame. The child, buried in shame. (By the way, I believe my ex’s FOO to be shamed-based as well). It does not allow to go into real vulnerability ever. Which would be the saving grace. The way out of it all. Vulnerability is met with contempt and disgust.
          Instead the reaction is to go into defendedness, superiority, in order to not feel the shame. And on and on.
          The way out is vulnerability, humility. Then one no longer has that hook inside onto which some people can hook themselves.

          I found a link on the web to one of his books should want to take a peak:
          https://creativegrowth.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/bradshaw_shame-1.pdf

      • ‘It had nothing to do with you because he didn’t even consider you’ . He is NOT a good person.
        ‘Your worth is yours to know in your heart, yours to keep, and yours to cherish.’
        👏 this is what I had wanted desperately to hear from a therapist.

    • “I don’t care what other people think, that’s not where the shame is coming from. It’s all internal and I have no idea how to stop that feeling.”

      Do you think this could be family of origin (FOO) stuff?

      We can start internalizing shame at an early age.

      Especially if your parents used it as a way of disciplining you excessively.

      Parents carry a lot of their own shame, and disordered people take that out on their children.

      There’s good online resources if you want to explore more.

  • I wanted to be married to have a family with children.

    I wanted trust and safety. I wanted emotional health, working moral compasses. I wanted ongoing personal and spiritual growth. I wanted to feel, deal, heal with grievances. I wanted respect. I wanted truth to be the foundation. I wanted clean, sober, recovery. I wanted security and comfort. I wanted a partner who was accountable for his own side of the street while I worked on mine, and we worked together to keep the marriage street clean. I did not want to repeat the dysfunctional shit show marriages from our original families. I thought I had that but it was a MIRAGE, not a MARRIAGE.

    Breach of contract is a real thing. It applies here too. Maybe “breach of contract” is a better way to think of it than “divorce”. Lying, cheating, fraud, stealing, abuse is breach of contract. Deceptive business practices. Bait and switch. Real life laws apply real life consequences to these white collar crimes.
    I regard the end of my marriage like I would regard encountering deceptive and fraudulent business practices after entering into any business contract.

    As I was slogging through a two inch thick marital settlement agreement yesterday, I had a moment of clarity. This agreement should have been made BEFORE I got married. Not just a financial prenup, but agreements about marital conduct that are as detailed as those in these divorce documents. It should be as hard to get married as it is to divorce. The way it is now is so backwards. Fill out the marriage license, pay your fifty bucks, get an officiant to wave their magic wand over you while uttering a spell, and BOOM. Easy peasy.
    I do think it really in a way it is “til death us part.” Who said, “we don’t really get divorced; we just add spouses.” (Or not….). But like any major trauma or lost limb, these are usually bonds that do not get vaporized or an alien mind wipe. They get carved on our spirits and souls and my beloved therapist says my job is to keep the wound clean. I often wonder if there is a psychosomatic component to Alzheimer’s or dementia….

    • “This agreement should have been made BEFORE I got married. Not just a financial prenup, but agreements about marital conduct that are as detailed as those in these divorce documents. It should be as hard to get married as it is to divorce. The way it is now is so backwards. Fill out the marriage license, pay your fifty bucks, get an officiant to wave their magic wand over you while uttering a spell, and BOOM. Easy peasy.”

      I totally agree.

      I also have no shame in counselling couples who are considering marriage to be REALLY HONEST, to this level of detail. They’re usually religious, so Gary Thomas’ book ‘The Sacred Search’ is a huge help – talk about a 2×4 between the eyes (and legs).

      It’s really frustrating to meet priests who – when confronted with evidence of the beginnings of abuse in the courtship stage, obvious manipulation, and downright dangerous and risky weirdness in a couple – say things like ‘Oh, they’re both good Catholics; they’ll work it out’.

      NO THEY WON’T. Or rather, yes they will – once a couple of innocent kids have been added to the mix, and someone’s about to lose the house that they worked really hard to save up for.

      If I can convince 30-40% of all couples not to get married, I’ll help to reduce Australia’s divorce rate (fingers crossed).

      • One male Catholic I know found pre-marital classes laughable, led by a man of the cloth who doesn’t know the first thing about being married. I think the classes are called pre Cana here in the States.

  • Thank you, Tracy, for beginning to change the narrative on divorce, reconciliation, love, marriage, etc. Your snarky & sometimes crass way of describing things made me pay attention and hear it loud and clear! I have reels of bad messaging in my head. I am 60 years old. My dad is 93 and I have several living uncles & aunts 85-90 years old. I lived through the 60’s, the 70’s, the 80’s, on & on —so many decades!

    The most consistent messages I needed to hear from Tracy were to respect myself, care for myself at least as much as I care for my family, don’t knowingly let people take advantage of me, judge someone’s character by their actions, and to get away from people who actively keep hurting me. These are very basic messages that I tried to teach my kids when they were little!

    I was embarrassed when I separated in December, because it took me so long – 10 years from the time I knew I should have done it. I spoke with an attorney for the first time in 2010, after 25 years of marriage and 3 Ddays. So I was primed to read Tracy’s messages but didn’t find them until 2018.

    I filed in December also & am waiting for the divorce to be settled. A younger friend of mine, also divorced, told me she is on dating sites again. “No one cares about divorce. It just doesn’t matter,” she said. I also agree with some of the writers above – no one cares that much about me & my situation because a) they are thinking more about their own life, and b) I am in that category of woman that falls into the woodwork – important to my children, my employer, and my chosen friends. It’s a relief to be a grandma & to not have to be attractive to men. Clean, neat, and pleasant is what I strive for!

    I did have a tiny bit of anxiety return about the pending divorce when I made a visit to my elderly aunt & uncle who live out of state & in the same town as my daughter. I knew they didn’t know yet about the separation & that they would ask about my husband. I read a lot of CL for sustenance over the month before the visit, and then determined that I would tell the truth. And how much I would tell would depend on my judgement of how much they truly were interested in me & my well being. I’d also have to navigate this over dinner with my adult daughter!

    It turned out that they were very easy to talk with. The funniest thing was that they asked me “Does your dad know?”!!!! They knew how set my dad is in old ways! (He really is one of the first I told, but I don’t ever expect to hear the words “I’m proud of you for getting out of a bad situation.”) I have often wondered why my parents were set on having me go to college & become financially independent from them, only to expect me to return to dependence upon my husband. I assume my dad grew up knowing of his and the generation before him, when a woman who separated from her husband became a burden on someone else. It makes sense nowadays that if someone can financially support themselves, they are not bound to stay with someone that is causing physical harm (STD), financial ruin, and psychological harm to the entire family.

    The stuff that happens to chumps is not good dinner table conversation. This makes it easy for other non-chumps to get stuck in thinking like “if it happens once, why not forgive?” or “people grow apart.”
    Because no one wants to be that person who does talk about the harsh realities. So, I too, kept it generic by the phrase, “I couldn’t live with someone I didn’t trust. There are reasons why I needed to separate in order to be safe.” And in return, my aunt told me of 2 incidences of her old friends divorcing & then remarrying! As if I would be cheered by that possibility. I asked her if she came across people who divorced because they just “fell out of love.” She said yes! I thought to myself, the conversations she had probably just ended after that explanation. She most likely never dug deeper, and the divorced person just let the conversation drop.

    It would be horribly boring & not appropriate to detail every single cheating incident, the effects, the broken promises, etc, and I did not do this with Aunt & Uncle. But I don’t think non-Chumps can even begin to imagine the disordered life of a FW. Heck, I won’t ever know much of my husband’s secret life, but I do know it was messed up & that’s why he went on trying to cover it up for 36 years! That’s what got me thinking about serial killers, child pornographers, Mafi, etc. People understand immediately about getting away from those disordered folks.

    • “be noble and brave. If you left a cheater, you’ve demonstrated ‘I will not take this crap anymore.’ You’ve fomented revolution. You’ve stood up for your self-worth.”

      I like these words. For me, the action came first. Now these feelings are replacing the embarrassment.

    • Yes….nobody cares about divorce.

      I have a lovely bf of several years who asked me out pretty quick after he heard ex and I had split.

      He cared not one iota….only knew that I’d be available.

  • I didn’t “give up” on my marriage initially after discovering my Xhole’s 2.5 year affair because I didn’t want to be a failure. But an amazing friend pointed out that the only way I’d be a failure is if I failed myself by staying with someone who didn’t know my worth and continued to suck my soul away. I filed as soon as I possibly could when those words finished processing in my traumatized brain. I’ve never once regretted leaving behind that vampire!

  • I rode the shame train that last year of marriage when I fought the fight of my life to save it.

    1) I’m Catholic. I believed my marriage was sacramental and for life. Felt I was failing my faith and God.
    2) I’m a Catholic educator and teach my students these values. Felt I was failing my profession.
    3) I wanted to work on my marriage. I bought into the RIC literature that a marriage could be made stronger through adversity (but I didn’t know the whole truth of all my ex had done until the end of the marriage when he left to be with OW). No matter what I did, it didn’t seem to sway my husband for long. I felt like I was failing him.
    4) My parents are the only people in my family who are divorced (nobody blames my mother because my father was so abusive that it made headlines way back when), but everyone else in my family is married. Everyone in my ex-husband’s Catholic family is also married. I wanted that too. I wanted to make up for what occurred with my parents. Felt I was failing our families.
    5) I wanted my kids to have a “normal” family that I didn’t get to have. Felt I was failing the kids.
    6) I knew that I hadn’t always been my best in the marriage and felt that I held responsibility in pushing my husband away. That my complaining, nagging, occasional silent treatment, etc, had come back to bite me. Felt that I had failed myself.

    Shame, shame, shame everywhere. But, then I realized that it wasn’t coming from outside of me, but from within (and fueled by my ex’s accusations). No one blamed me. Even my priest told me that had he known earlier what was happening, he would have advised me to protect myself and the kids first. All my “confessionals” with my counsellor has yielded in her telling me, “There is nothing you have admitted to that just about everyone doesn’t say or do in a marriage. Not great, but not abnormal and not something to end a marriage over unless the person just didn’t want to be in it. That’s not on you.”

    He failed. My ex-husband. He cheated. He broke vows. He lied. He manipulated. He gaslighted. He pursued other women. He had sex outside of marriage. He left the marriage to be with one of these women. He continued to deny what he did. He took advantage of me. He failed.

    I survived….and now I even have started to thrive.

    • Option thank you for sharing
      I felt it all as I read
      I can relate and follow every detail also empathize completely
      Here’s where I USUALLY get caught up when overthinking because
      He didn’t LEAVE. My ex? He definitely did
      This one? Nope. Cut ties and wants to stay and be GREAT
      I get stuck knowing I will now have to be the decider.
      I pull the plug
      I am the one responsible
      It’s so crappy.
      So how do I justify the sorry and I love you forever and I made huge mistakes. Yes 2.

      • Talk is cheap.

        Have you read Chump Lady on ‘genuine remorse’? It’s well worth reading.

        This would help you set up a plan for genuine reconciliation – imposing conditions that could take your relationship forward.

        Your Cheater will vanish at the first sight of actual consequences.

        And that’s your answer.

        • I did! Yet I need a refresh. I actually discovered CL and CHUMPNATION, shortly after he confessed to cheating he’s claimed it’s been six years now.
          For a year now I have noticed he doesn’t talk to (her) that I’m aware of. It’s very dysfunctional since we always took care of his/THEIR daughter and now- he’s forced to take her to court to gain back his visitation since she’s kept her away.
          It’s just heartbreaking and makes me wonder what in the world went on and why??
          He’s been good to me. Way more attentive. Yet I just can’t care as much. I am afraid plus a bit grossed out.
          I used to be affectionate and value time together that I used to fight for. Now? I keep to myself as much as possible yet we just keep rolling along.

        • Yes – I agree with this completely. When I asked FW ex husband to pay me back all the money he stole from me and his child for his sexcapades with the whore – he told me “are you going to pay me all the rent you owe for not living here?” Meanwhile, the reason I left (twice) was due to his abusive treatment of me son and I – my first mistake was coming back home the first time – the second time I stayed gone and am glad I didn’t go back. They show their true colors.

      • Shann:

        Your husband is responsible for his own behavior–for what he did and did not do. He failed; not you.

        So many good posts today. Staying is a decision too even though we usually think of it as a nondecision. Good luck.

    • “He had sex outside of marriage. He left the marriage to be with one of these women. He continued to deny what he did.”

      On top of all that I am sure he stole thousand of money from you for his illicit activities.

      When I pulled the credit card history and our bank history is when I found out my ex did that. Up to that point all I was thinking about was the lies, betrayal and horrible treatment of me. Once the money piece fell in place, I went nuts. I spent years sacrificing and doing without to save money that he could spend on a whore, or many whores.

    • Lifelong Catholic here, with two recently divorced siblings. You’ve done the right thing.

      You don’t have to seek an annulment if you believe your marriage was and is sacramentally valid.

      I know divorced Catholics who’ve never remarried, because that’s how they believe, and that’s totally a thing. They still pray for their exes, but they sure as hell will never live with them again.

      I wish the Church would do more to honour this witness publicly. It’s morally good and it can be a genuine way forward to greater peace.

      • I am pursuing the annulment. Hey, he claims that he never loved me, regretted having married me some time shortly after the wedding, but figured that he made a commitment and that he would make the best of it to be satisfied enough (until I made it too hard, I guess). Well, I’ll run with that. I clearly married an immature man who believed that you can just leave a marriage for greener pastures if it gets too hard (which is actually grounds for an annulment – not sharing the same values).

        I’m early in the game and this has yet to go before the Tribunal of the diocese. The process has been really supportive so far as in my priest, and the nun assisting me, really want to help build my case.

        One of the interesting things about counselling has been the issue of “hope,” which has been a challenge to reconcile. My counsellor has been concerned that I hold out hope for my ex, but I’ve made it clear that it’s not hope for reconciliation, nor am I dependent on him turning things around for my own healing. There is nothing that he could say or do that would ever make me give him a chance in any intimate way (nor do I expect that he ever will). However, I pray for his own healing, transformation and redemption. For his sake and the sake of our kids. I don’t think he is an evil man, nor do I think he suffers some DSM personality disorder. He is just a very immature and stunted man with a very weak sense of self…AKA poor character and on the narcissistic spectrum. That’s my Christian hope at play, but no longer naive enough to ever put myself out for him again.

        • “I clearly married an immature man who believed that you can just leave a marriage for greener pastures if it gets too hard (which is actually grounds for an annulment – not sharing the same values).”

          Absolutely – if there’s no belief in the permanence and exclusivity of marriage, that’s grounds.

          Good for you!

          I know some people go down the annulment path just to get a greater sense of healing and closure, as well as the chance to marry again. I hope it works out for you.

  • Ah , the social media trap. I’ve been divorce for almost 40 years and got custody of my kids. All the time they were growing up they would tell me things that were going on. Not that I cared however , but occasionally I’ll still take a peek at her facebook , I call it checking the misery index….lol. Her life has been an absolute train wreck and nobody deserved it more than her. The straw that broke the camels back for me thus ending our marriage , was that she took her boyfriend to spend a weekend at a regional amusement park when she was supposed to be spending a weekend of introspection as to what was really important to her in life. I knew of the affair and was at the “him or me” stage. She was stupid enough to take pictures and left them on a camera in her car. I found them.This park has a mock up of the Eiffel tower as a centerpiece. This was not lost on me. Two years ago my dear wife of 38 years and myself got to go to Paris. I made absolutely sure we were dressed to the nines and had our picture taken with the REAL Eiffel tower in the background , and my dear wife posted it on her facebook page. I know my ex checks on it periodically , so it is soooo satisfying to me to rub her skanky nose in it ….lol.

    • Love this story ! Hope you dined at the restaurant Jules Verne. “Paris is always a good idea”

  • ‘I’m talking to chumps. Those of you who stuck out terrible marriages of disrespect and dysfunction because you were afraid to be alone, to figure out your own life, to be One Of Those Pathetic Divorced People. If you feel responsible for other people’s crimes.’ Thanks CL, I really needed this today. My marriage wasn’t particularly happy but I was loyal and thought the babies would give us a new lease on life (I’m such a cliche!) to pull together as a team for our kids. A lot of guilt here but finally in in-house separation and trying to feel super brave. Never thought I would get here. Thank you to you and all of CN, I’ve been reading for years and finally there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • I know I’ve been the Mouth from the South in the last 24 hours, but this has been an amazing thread, and one of the best.

    It’s why I come back here, and why I’m so grateful to Tracy for sticking with this resource/bitch-slap/outreach/ministry/apostolate/thang that she does so generously.

    I’m so grateful to you all for sharing, because it’s really helped some of the pieces of my own puzzle to fall into place – especially about the belief that so many women have about their own financial incompetence and ability to provide for themselves.

    And trying to get married to erase FOO – only to be drawn to really fucked-up people and families in an attempt to escape my own.

    Gosh.

  • All of this. Thank you CL. Although oddly enough, as much as I used to value marriage (enough to end mine with my ex cheater) I value it very little now. I think I had a childlike relationship with marriage, like the vows themselves somehow magically kept marriage sacred. I know now that it is the commitment and love you work at everyday that matters. I’m with a great guy now, also an ex chump. We’ve been together almost 5 years. We live together, he helps raise my daughter like she was his own. He’s a true partner. And, we care not about getting married. It’s irrelevant and IMO a distraction from the substance of a relationship. Either we love eachother and want to be together, or we don’t. We live vows everyday we’re together, and that’s more than enough.

    • I love this! So very happy for you both and thanks for the hope of a new day:) way WAY down the road!

  • I’m the chump from a few days ago who had their letter posted and I am very guilty of having divorce shame. My ex-wife has told people so much about me that isn’t true, I mostly just ignore the subject altogether.

    To people who are devout Christians, she has told them I will not go to church (kind of true) and she has a passion for God (not true).
    To Atheist neighbors, she has said I was too wrapped up in church (I haven’t been to church in maybe 10 years)
    To others, she has said I was too wrapped up with our child and she didn’t get any attention (this is true cause he has to be taken care of).

    And now the latest and greatest………. She just can’t even say what her ex-husband has done to her.

    So just let your imagination run wild (didn’t feed the cat, sold mom on eBay, who knows but it is so bad she can’t even say.)

    This makes it hard for me to even mention being divorced.

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