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I Don’t Feel Mighty. I Got Left.

Dear Chump Lady,

Being the sleuthy sleuth I am, I discovered my husband of 15 years’ “emotional” affair (um yeah…her husband hired a private investigator that put that silly belief to rest) within days, since he suddenly went from sending about 300 texts a month to 7000 texts a month. All to my kids’ preschool teacher.

We are now divorced and he is married to her.

I have two questions that I don’t think I have seen addressed before. The first is this: you say Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life. And that makes you mighty. But what about those of us who didn’t leave? What about those of us who pick-me danced and he didn’t pick us? It’s hard to feel mighty when you are the one who was left. (That said, I wanted to make him make the decision because it was important to me to be able to say and to know that I did everything I could do save the marriage.)

Also, any advice on Chump/Chump relationships? In my limited forays into online dating, I seem to be drawn to chumps, even before I know they are chumps. Maybe it’s the genuineness and lack of pretense that comes through when someone has had their life upended. But it strikes me that there could be chumpy characteristics that could turn out to be dysfunctional in combination. Any thoughts?

Sleuthy Sleuth

Dear SS,

Last question first — to be chumped IS to be left. The cheater checked out on the relationship. Some cheaters stick around for cake, forcing the chump to divorce, and some cheaters leave for their Schmoopies (but not before a big dose of cake). It’s all rejection, and as I frequently say here — this is not the Pain Olympics.

You got left. Okay. That doesn’t have anything to do with your level of mightiness. It’s how you respond now that is the measure of your mighty.

So you pick me danced. (So did 99.5 percent of the rest of us. Learn from it. Burn your tap shoes.)

So you tried to save your marriage. (A noble effort, but wholly impossible when only one person is invested in the marriage.)

So it was all futile because he married the preschooler. Excuse me, preschool teacher. May they enjoy an eternity of Circle Time and soggy graham crackers together. Whatever. The guy is a cheater. He wasn’t worthy of you.

And THAT is where your head needs to be before you even consider dating. Don’t wade into that festering pool thinking you’re less than because you got chumped. Don’t internalize the cheater’s rejection, that life is all one horrible junior high gym class and you didn’t get picked for dodge ball. Loser!

NO. Reframe this. Who the hell wants to get whacked in the face by a rubber ball? Who wants to WIN a cheater?!

You need to be really clear on your mightiness before you date. Because dating is about you and your resilience. I’m sorry to tell you, but most of dating is rejection. Being rejected, and doing the rejection. You are going to go on a coffee date with a man who looks like a boiled potato and he’s going to reject you. A man of dubious employment, who doesn’t read, and who spends most of the date telling you how he lost his thumb in a tragic Dobro-playing accident. THAT GUY is going to reject you.

And he will reject you for reasons you can never fathom. Was he expecting a supermodel? Did I not pay rapt enough attention to his Dobro story? Am I too tall?

And if you are not healed from this chump shit, you’re going to let a thumbless, quasi-employed Dobro player question your self worth. You will go all wobbly. I can’t even attract an over-cooked potato! Aaah! 

Instead of waving it off as one weird coffee date, and regaling your girlfriends with the details later. Next!

This whole Gain a Life thing is about YOU and your self-worth. It’s about testing your resilience one brave episode at a time. It’s about filling your life with people who are WORTHY of your investment — people like your kids and friends who supported you through this shit storm. Gaining a Life is about never again being a satellite to a narcissist’s orbit.

Back to dating (assuming you have the time, with all your Mightiness) — no one enjoys rejection. But if you’re a chump? Rejection is your SUPERPOWER. Think about it — you’ve endured pretty much the worst humiliation and rejection life can hand out — and you survived it. What’s Dobro man got?

Dating isn’t about sussing out fellow chumps, it’s about being solid in yourself. Knowing what your boundaries are and what you will and will not accept in relationships. It’s about knowing what sort of people bring out your best self, and what sort of people do not. (Even though they may feel comfortable in a fucked up oh-hey-I-know-this-dynamic way.)

Anyway, suffice it to say, stop feeling like a loser. He left. Yea! This Gain a Life is yours to do with as you wish.

This one ran before. 

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I don’t know quite how I got so brainwashed that I came to perceive a CHEATER as a WINNER, but that is patently absurd logic. CHEATERS ARE NOT WINNERS.

    As they say in AA, stuck with the winners. I was brainwashed and gaslighted and emotionally abused and snared in the Intermittent Reward spider web, and only a power greater than myself could have freed me. That was power greater than me was the affair. Not only incontrovertible proof that he is a jumbo jerk (thank you fellow chump for that one!) but he LEFT for the lower companion and they are now possibly still snared in their dysfunctional “relationship”. I meant my vows and I was emotionally mired in it and I would have hung on with all ten claws. And my demise would have continued.

    Cheaters are NOT healthy people. They are not wonderful people. I assigned him all kinds of qualities that he is NOT. ANd that’s what the parties involved in the affair do as well, by the way.

    It’s essential that I remind myself as often as possible that I was not rejected but being protected. I was NOT able to see the writing on the wall because I was standing an inch from it. With time and distance? Hoo boy, I CANNOT believe what an ugly ugly ugly person he is.

    Wonderful people don’t lie deceive gaslight abuse screw around on hurt defraud hold hostage other people.

    Period.

    I consider myself rescued by unseen forces because I could not see that I was in a very bad situation.

    #stockholmsyndrome

    • “The divorce impulse, to me, is very much akin to a suicide impulse. It occurs when people are depressed and panicky and want to run away from their lives. They come up with drastic plans of action to escape the life they think is making them so miserable, when it may be that it’s the fact that they drink every day or they don’t get enough exercise or that they tell lies to the people that they need to be close to or that they are operating from a model that’s invalid.”

      – Dr. Frank Pittman

      I love Dr. Pittman’s work on infidelity. Much of what he writes saves my sanity on those days when I doubt it. In particular I like his opinion above…it makes a lot of sense to me.

      The traitor has revealed that he is in a lot of pain, which is difficult to listen to after what he did to our family. Evidently his solution for happiness didn’t work.

      • “The divorce impulse, to me, is very much akin to a suicide impulse. It occurs when people are depressed and panicky and want to run from their lives.”

        Oh, Velvet Hammer, you have hit your velvet hammer on the nail via Dr. Pittman. Four years before dday I noticed a suggestive email sent by my husband to a married female friend of ours. When I questioned him about this he slid to the floor confessing that he was a closet/functioning alcoholic. I was stunned into shock. He was textbook: hid alcohol, thought about it all day until he could come home to drink, hung out with alcoholic neighbor more & more, annoyed that I didn’t “party” more, etc.

        His behavior was off the previous months. Short temper from an usually extremely easy going person, house wasn’t clean enough, I spent too much time on my hobbies, etc. We celebrated our 20th anniversary by going back to our honeymoon destination -England & sailed home on the Queen Mary 2. I was hurt a few times when he wanted to party late into the night with the 20 somethings. I mean it was our anniversary celebration & he just wanted to drink. It never occurred to me that he had a problem. He was a good provider & never drove drunk.

        After his confession he went straight into therapy & stopped drinking immediately. It was like the old him returned. We talked about how hard it was for him but I was there for him. I told him if he slipped up he had to tell me, not lie about it & we would go from there. We even gave up friendships that pretty much revolved around drinking. (By the way nothing every happened between ex & friend who go the email.)

        Fast forward to dday when I found notes that he might be having an affair. This time his reaction to my questioning of his behavior led to rewriting history & spewing untruths. I asked if he was drinking again & at first he denied it & then claimed to only having a sip which we all know is not true.

        In three weeks he was gone from my life; he filed 2 months later. It was all a terrible whirlwind for me. His subordinate OWhore who was divorced without custody of her 5 kids dropped him once the light of day hit their affair. He moved into an apartment a hour away conveniently steps away from a bar. I guess there he could make new friends who would never question his drinking. I heard a few years later he married a women still in her 20s when he was in his early 50s.

        I believe he was running away from life or rather running to a life of drinking. I believe his drinking made him a cheater. I am very sad a times because we did have a wonderful life together – over 26yrs together, over 24 married. I can’t help but think he has to remember what he ran from.

        Alcoholic is a powerful addiction that can allow victims to throw it all away.

        • I hear you, Hurt1, and I’m sorry all of that happened to you. I don’t believe in sex addiction per se, but I believe in addictive personalities – that is to say, that people who lack a core sense of self will often turn to external crutches to help them, whether alcohol or drugs or affairs. Anything that produces a high that can distract the person from their own dysfunction.

          So, to me, it’s not so much that your ex’s alcoholism caused his cheating, as that all of his maladaptive behaviors are coming from the same place: lack of core self. And there’s nothing we chumps can do to heal someone with that problem – the only true healing has to be driven by that person (and even then, it’s a long, hard road). All best to you, and a shoutout to all chumps in recovery who are doing that hard work for themselves.

          • Hurt1, LezChump,

            Father, Mother, and other family members,
            ex husband, all lacking a core sense of self.
            Shame-based families.
            FOOs were about domination, over-control, humiliation (covert narcs, borderlines and codependents). That is, external locus of control for the individual.

            And, true to form, I was abandoned in my FOOs, and in marriage.

            Should anyone be interested, “Healing the shame that binds you” by John Bradshaw is excellent. The thesis is that toxic shame is at the core of all addictive personalities, personality disorders, codependency, etc., etc.

            • I followed a twenty weekend program led by a local therapist based on Bradshaw’s work 👍🏻

              • For years I was embarrassed by the shame my father’s abuse and abandonment brought on my family of origin. I decided to hand it back to him.

          • ‘people who lack a core sense of self will often turn to external crutches to help them’
            That’s the covert narcissistic in my case and the crutch was the affair
            And so true war Dr. P. said
            It’s ironic, sounds like the chumps are relatively healthy people yet we stay….. we are not the ones running away to escape -we try to learn and work on things because we know there’s no magic bullet to happiness.
            The unhealthy empty people would have been better off with us. They destroy things for themselves by leaving us.

            • That’s what’s so bewilding. We don’t know they are “unhealthy” until there is a crisis & by then it is so out of control that “all the king’s horses & all the king’s men could not put humpty dumpty back together again.”

              It doesn’t matter that we had years together weathering all sorts of storms because when they bring on the shit-show tsunami it’s all over.

              • That first paragraph says it all.

                I had no idea how messed up he was. He hid a lot of stuff for years. Did I miss red flags, of course; but I trusted him and I trusted what he was saying. I had no idea.

                Quite frankly I was easy to cheat on, and the fact that he kept me busy with work and volunteer work, and popped in and out, or called I just believed it.

              • I still find the ‘healthy’ detector difficult. Many here have mentioned that they were not healthy ( foo trauma is not rare) yet they were not fuckwits. Sure I saw some signs of imperfection- like he wanted all the light to shine on him. But I never thought it would amount to this catastrophe. I have issues too (especially now 😂) but I’ll never be a lying, manipulative fuckwit.

            • I found Dr. Pittman before I found ChumpLady. He saved my sanity. CL reinforced everything he had to say, but in a snarky and fun way. As for ‘the unhealthy empty people would have been better off with us’, I’m certainly glad he’s gone. I think he knew he was better off with me, that’s why he stayed so long and kept his OW in the background so long. But I honestly think that after her divorce she kept pressuring him that she wanted him to go through with what he had been telling her for years, i.e., that he wanted a divorce. Yet when it came down to it, he never told me he wanted a divorce. He just thought that we could live separately. If I left divorce up to him I would have been messed up that much longer. I’m glad I filed because the coward wouldn’t have. And though he would have been better off staying married to me, I would not have been. He would have continued to lie and cheat, and I would have continued to be ‘abused’ albeit unknowingly. I am SO, SO happy he is no longer my husband.

              • Amazon Chump, me too…my experience was pre-CL and Dr Pittman helped me along. Hos book “Grow Up” was one I had…my cheater used minor childhood slights to excuse ghastly adult wrongs he committed.

                I was a VERY good wife appliance and he knew his quality of life would diminish if we divorced, so he used the intermittent reward system to string me along for YEARS.

                He seemed to pick OWs who had a lot to lose and would not tell and it seemed to work for him but there was so much to hide that at the end of his life, the skeletons in his closet seemed to really concern him. I remember thinking “he looks like a person with a terrible secret”. Once he claimed that we had “an agreement” to which I replied “if you have betrayed me because you thought I also had outside relationships, then you have made a terrible mistake”.

                Like above, my borderline, narc, alcoholic parents groomed me well for this. I just saw them this past weekend. My dad now sees me as successful and wealthy and now pays attention that he never did when I was growing up and it feels creepy, not healing.

                Like the OP of this post, I never left and I have sometimes struggled with a feeling of failure but most often forgive myself for my decisions

        • I’ve been in recovery for 36 years, and I do think cheating is just another symptom of whatever -isms are active and untreated.

        • I think addiction of some kind is big in the cheater world.

          My ex I think had an addictive personality. He drank a lot in HS (though I didn’t know it until after we married) He quit drinking because he didn’t want to be like his dad. I wonder if that is when he started chasing women to replace that alcohol high. But, anyway after Dday and he married the whore, he continued to cheat on her, but after he retired he turned big time to gambling. I wonder if the chasing skirst just wasn’t doing it anymore, or if he suffered ED, or maybe getting whores wasn’t as easy without the badge.

          Either way, he turned to excessive gambling, then after filing bankruptcy he started buying bigger and bigger RVs until he bought the motherload RV and died a year later leaving her drowning in debt.

          It is just like he couldn’t live like a normal person, something was wrong. For that I have a small bit of compassion for him.

          The only reason I know most of this is my son and daughter in law have talked to me especially after he started his crap with them.

          • At least you got validation of what a jerk he was. I get snippets like, “Trust me Mom. Dad is miserable.” And I have to be content with that. Every now and then I get plagued with stupid thoughts like, ‘Well maybe she makes him happier than I did’, and ‘Well maybe he’s finally getting to do the things that he always wanted to do without me preventing him.” And then I doubt myself. Fortunately I pull my head out of my butt and say, “Stop it! He’s the same nitwit with her that he was with you! And even if he is happier, the fact of the matter is that he was never going to be a better person with you!” It’s too bad your fuckwit drank himself to death, but you didn’t cause it. And your divorcing him didn’t cause it. So many people are the cause of their own demise. I hope you’re living life happily now. I am!

            • Exactly, she may have made him happier, at least until the sparkle faded from the twinkie. Since he started cheating again, I have to assume he was looking for more sparkle. But, here is the thing she likely didn’t care that much, she had her meal ticket; and my guess is she did a little revenge crap.

              Either way he treated me like shit, and I am so glad she took him off my hands. Had she not been his direct report, I might have been stuck with him for a few more years.

              Oh as far as I know he never went back to drinking; he went on to gambling. He died in January emphysema and congestive heart failure. He was 71.

              For my sons sake I do wish he had become a better person, but it was not to be.

        • My uncle was a raging alcoholic. He never really gave it up. He never cheated. He adored my aunt even when she would kick him out from time to time. Alcohol doesn’t cause cheating, but it may lower inhibitions to cheating. The inclination to cheat was already there,, though.. Alcoholism causes alcoholism.

          • Oh I didn’t mean the alcoholism caused the cheating, I mean my ex had an addictive personality (from what I saw) so when he gave up drinking, he likely just switched his med of choice to women, then as he aged he turned to gambling.

            I don’t believe my ex was ever an alcoholic, but he did drink heavily in his youth, (from what he told me) and in the first year we were together after we married. He just said one day, I don’t want to be like my dad (who was indeed an alcoholic, and a gambler) and he stopped drinking cold turkey.

            As far as I know he never took up drinking again, but he did turn to skirt chasing then to gambling. He was also an extremely heavy smoker.

          • My perspective is that alcoholism is every bit the deal-breaker that cheating is. An active substance abuser has a progressive disease that makes him or her unavailable for intimate emotional connection. And as things get worse, their need is for companionship that either enables them or joins them in their addiction. Healthy people? Going to the discard pile.

          • Of course alcoholism does not cause cheating. I am an alcoholic, in recovery since 1985, and I never cheated. But we have a moral inventory piece of recovery literature because of the negative behavioral and emotional aspects of the disease that commonly plague us when we are untreated. Every alcoholic is not identical. Moreover, drinking is not the disease but a symptom of it. Because recovery involves addressing character issues and behavior, I see continued lying and cheating and an indicator that someone (like my X) is probably lying about their sobriety as well.

          • Of course cheating is not caused by alcoholism. I’m an alcoholic and I never cheated.

            Not every alcoholic cheats, but when I see cheating and lying, I wonder about underlying untreated -isms. If someone is claiming to be in recovery, and lying and cheating, the odds are very good that they are lying about their sobriety too.

            • ……there are a lot of behavioral earmarks common to alcoholics, which is why there is a piece of recovery literature entitled “Moral Inventory”. We aren’t identical but the similarities were worth noting……

              • Velvet Hammer, I was really beating myself up for not going to Alanon this morning….so I really needed to hear all of this from you. You are so right; this is just another way to act out in their addiction…

                Struggling with grief today. My daughters barely speak to me and appear to be best pals with the affair partner close to their age. I am sure they are terrified of being financially cut off

        • Lots of good points here, Hurt1. About 6 months after my divorce was final, as I was finally allowed to clean out his remaining shit in my house, I found about 50 bottles of alcohol, hid EVERYWHERE.

          About 3 years after my divorce was final, I was flipping tv channels and came across an HBO documentary that profiled 4 alcoholics. A few that were probably filmed at the end of their lives. One of them that they profiled showed a guy who worked at Home Depot, who had to get out to his car every hour or so to take a drink to stop his hands from shaking. This was a very good, but also very sad HBO documentary.

          Which triggered me to a memory about 1 year prior to my final D-Day, when I noticed Dracula’s hands were shaking uncontrollably (he was probably 48, at the time).

          I NOW think he’s also an alcoholic, who hid it from me FOR YEARS, along with hiding the cheating.

      • VH: that quote from Dr. Pittman perfectly describes the situation with my STBX. It’s hard to know whether STBX realized that she was depressed and unhappy with her life for many years before affair #2, or if she made that up retroactively to justify the affair. Either way, I later learned that she was struggling for years with the impulse to cheat between affairs #1 and 2. STBX finally allowed herself to do so when the depression and panic reached a fever pitch after the death of her narcissistic mother in 2018. She called it an impulse to “blow up her life.”

        BUT, we can go even deeper, to the root cause of the depression and panic in the first place. This might not be true for all cheaters, but STBX (like a lot of cheaters I read about here) does not have a stable sense of self. She admitted after D-Day #2, in a rare moment of candor, that she doesn’t know how to love herself, and she doesn’t understand boundaries. It’s not that she finds them hard (like many of us) – she literally doesn’t understand them at all. I have untangled the skein just enough to deduce that there’s probably some toxic mix of cluster B personality disorder going on there, and I’ll leave it at that. If STBX ever wants to heal herself, she will have to investigate further. But I know enough to “peace out”!

        One problem, of course, is that we chumps tend to be very empathetic. If our partners come to us saying “I feel depressed and panicky,” or “I feel like I can’t love myself,” we jump into the fray and try to help. If I could erect billboards across the nation, and pay therapists, to disseminate one single concept, it is this: Disorder. Is. Real. Not everybody is playing with a full emotional deck. Not all marital conflict stems from “communication issues,” damnit. Chumps, be free in the knowledge that disorder is real, and we can’t heal it with TLC.

        • Yes, I still have a mother who is disordered. She really is. I did not realize it because I did not know -I learned about all this stuff post abandonment in my marriage. My parents did not have a core self and so they ended up controlled by other people, as they had been each controlled by one parent and a brother, who, by the way, did not have their best interest at heart, actually more their destruction, as it is in these types of families. Both parents were sadistically treated.
          As painful as it is because you love these individuals, yes, not everyone plays with a full emotional deck.
          It was beyond painful seeing my father destroy himself, and attempting to bring us down with him, and my mother still to this day being cruel to me and my sibling and playing victim.

        • ” Not all marital conflict stems from “communication issues,”

          Yep, sometimes I think “communication issues” is the “Fiber myalgia” of the emotional world.

          Now before I get pounced on, yes I do believe fiber myalgia is a thing, just as I think communication issues are a thing. But, damnit, sometimes something is wrong and it is not fiber myalgia and sometimes a person is disordered and the problem is not lack of communication. That is just an easy diagnosis to get us out the door and collect the two hundred dollars.

          • Communication issues: he didn’t say he was courting married Office Whore while married to me / all the while acting like he was looking forward to his future with me – the woman of his dreams.

            • Yep, if my ex had said hey Susie unless you become a spit shiner house keeper, I am going to fuck whores, then I could have addressed the problem. I would have said, hey instead of you fucking whores, why don’t we spend the money you use fucking whores on a weekly house cleaner, so I can work my full time job, do all your volunteer work and still be able to keep up with the dusting.

              Yep that’s the ticket and I am sure he wouldn’t have fucked whores.

            • Zip
              Communication issue: I didn’t tell him that an orange scented soap makes me sick, but got mad at him for buying one
              Personality issue: we agreed on having a monogamous relationship yet he was dating and hiring hookers throughout our whole relationship/ marriage

          • I’m not pouncing, just informing. I have fibromyalgia and I have found docs are reluctant to diagnose it unless you fit every single one of the criteria perfectly, so I don’t know where you got the idea that it’s being overdiagnosed. It’s just increasingly common. It’s a disorder where the nerves send pain signals to your brain when there is no injury. The cause is as yet unknown. My daughter has it too and had a hell of a time getting her doctor to admit that’s what it was. He’s still not fully convinced, even though the meds for it are helping. A lot of doctors seem to prefer to think it’s something psychosomatic, especially in women. It’s more common in women, so sexism is a factor.

            • I wasn’t saying it was over diagnosed, but certainly mis-diagnosed.

              I am going on personal experience. I was diagnosed with it, when my dr decided she had done everything she could. I said, nope something is wrong I want a specialist. She finally sent me to a sports dr and he found damage to my rotary cup. Performed clean up surgery and I never had issues with pain in my shoulder again.

              This was in the late 90s, so I am sure much more is known now.

              • True. It was a relatively new diagnosis in the 90s and they didn’t have clear diagnostic guidelines. I’m glad you got the right diagnosis. I was misdiagnosed with lupus for many years. Then they developed fibro drugs. I convinced a new doctor to let me try one and it helped dramatically within 30 minutes of taking the first dose. My regular GP could barely look me in the eye after that. I hope she learned something from it so that at least I didn’t suffer for nothing.

    • “I meant my vows and I was emotionally mired in it and I would have hung on with all ten claws. And my demise would have continued.”

      That is exactly how I was. I would have stood on my head in the weeks after he left me to save my marriage, I even let him come back once and he treated me awful (it only lasted a week). That was when I called my dad and asked him to start praying that my feelings for the cheater would go away and my heart would harden against him. My dad was chomping at the bit to do this, because he kept begging me not to let him come back. So the prayers started, I started going forward with my blinders on, and the next time he circled back, NOPE. I was done.

      The only regret I have is that I didn’t go for three years of legal separation vs just the one year I got. In hindsight I realized he would have been fine with that, but dang schmoops would have been livid.

      Also, I made him file as he was the one who wanted the D and destroyed the marriage. I don’t regret that a bit. In that time I could walk away and say, hey you wanted it, you got it. Also, in our state him filing gave me some extra protections given that I had proof of his financial fraud. He didn’t know that of course when he agree to file, after I in little girl tears asked him to file, because he was the one who wanted the D, and he should take responsibility. “sob, sob”. Yes by then I knew exactly what I was doing.

      Of course I would have had to file, had he refused; because he was continuing to spend money on the whore, but it worked.

      Also, the one who filed had to provide all the financial information re property bills etc. He handled everything and had all that with him, I was not going to put myself in the position of having to beg him for documents. At least not if I didn’t have to.

      All I had to do was sign it if I agreed with it. I put that I agree, but that I suspected he had stashed away funds somewhere, but that I had no proof of it. I do think he had a private bank account somewhere, but it was not worth it to me to sus it out. He eventually lost everything via gambling anyway.

    • Yes, Velvet Hammer is right. I stayed with my cheater. I won the pick-me dance. Over a decade has passed, and I realize that he only picked me because I’m the best doormat he could find. It wasn’t my good qualities that made him pick me, it was my worst qualities. People who lose the pick-me dance are the ones who don’t make the narcissists feel powerful. Do you want to be a doormat? No. I would bet anything that when affair partners get married, one of them is pure evil and the other is a masochist. Be happy your ex subconsciously sensed that your too “good” for him.

      • I think my ex said it best when I caught him and the whore at our river property (that he had just conned me into buying. I ask him “why are you doing this to us?” his answer: while hanging his head and looking at the ground “this is who I am” he didn’t look happy at all, quite honestly I think he was in a trap of his own making, but it was indeed who he was.

      • Mia, you are too good for “him,”
        too – whatever role he occupies in your life at present. He’s doing everything he can to make sure you can’t see that. Thanks for writing what you did.

    • “I was brainwashed and gaslighted and emotionally abused and snared in the Intermittent Reward spider web, and only a power greater than myself could have freed me. That was power greater than me was the affair. ”
      ^^This^^
      VH- THANK YOU for the mental “click” that happened when I read your words. As they also say in AA, God was doing for me what I clearly couldn’t do for myself – also gaslighted, abused, and snared in the intermittent reward web.

      • I don’t know where I heard or read this, either on this site or CoDA (codependents anonymous). “Higher Power/god/the universe brings people into your life and the same force can take them out”

    • Another great one, oh dear Velvet Hammer.

      I wonder about the psychology of the feeling of being “left” or “abandoned” or “discarded.” In terms of thinking about how narcissistic people operate, we talk about the “discard” as that stage where the disordered person unplugs emotionally and may in fact leave the relationship entirely. From the Fuckwit point of view, they truly are “discarding” someone, even when they don’t leave the shared home or file for divorce. Some of them may hang on to the marriage for any number of reasons, have transferred their affections, their free time, some or most of their money, their attention and their social companionship to some Schmoopie.

      And I know I felt “discarded” when the Jackass walked away, essentially without explanation. But I go back to my very early days as a caseworker for the welfare system. We didn’t talk about someone who walked out on a spouse and kids as having “discarded them” (although in the chump situation, that word is a clue into the mindset of the FW). We talked about them as people who ABANDONED their family, as deadbeats, absent parents, etc.

      One of the worst things a chump can do is to pick up cheater perspective and use it to frame our thinking and particularly our sense of self. I don’t mind the word “discarded” now because to me that’s a technical term that indicates Jackass operates on that dysfunctional cycle. I see myself like as something fine that he “discarded,” as an ignorant person throws away antiques, works of art, functional furniture, valuable artifacts.

      • Thank you for pointing out how the disordered will emotionally unplug and “discard” even when living at home. Mine was discarding me and I was listening to Berne Brown wondering if I made myself more vulnerable if I could save our marriage and taking responsibility for our ineffective communication, what a bunch of horse shit. He pretended to want to reconcile but his attempt was so pathetic it was like it was too much work for him to pretend anymore.

        • That sounds just like how I was, Longtime Chump. It sickens me to think back on the hours, days, years I coexisted with a lying conman. Constant, cruel, exhausting lies filled my days. That’s what I think of when I feel my lowest, and I am always relieved to be away from that FW for good. That was a terrible way to live and to feel about myself.

          I think the concept of rejection is purely hypothetical when it comes to cheaters and chumps. Our attachment to these FWs is based on deception. We would never have chosen or stayed with them if we’d known who they TRULY were. (At least I wouldn’t have.) We stay because of abuse and coercion, or we stay because we hope they’re someone else. Probably some toxic blend of both. We leave after dday, and then we come back by convincing ourselves they aren’t the heartless, morally corrupt, pathetic humans their cheating and antics exposed them for. Does this mean we’re not rejecting who they really are? They have to lie to get anyone to “love” them.

          • So much truth. I agree that the worst is thinking back at the years of being duped. How I was ignorantly going about life, thinking I was married to one man when really I was married to another. It gives us no solid ground and the longer we were with them the harder it is to find some solid ground.
            We never would have opened our hearts to these cheaters had we know who they really were. My FW was just recently shaming another cheater, “I can’t believe anyone would do that?” I was just shocked he could even that with me anymore, they really are disordered.

    • Yes I am coming to realize my trauma bond/ Stockholm syndrome or whatever term you attach, it exactly what I have. He’s stuck around in our house while we try to separate and it’s made it much worse. Now after so much time and terrible things he’s done, I feel like I’m falling in the web of he’s not so bad. I know it’s all smoke and mirrors, but I attach so many more positives to him and the relationship that I should. Again am questioning everything.I was really good at painting the happy family picture so when I look back a my photos I see the good. I never took photos of the hand prints he left on my butt when just playing around or the red marks on my wrists he left when again just playing around. The worst scars aren’t visible just deep emotional wounds that will always be there. Luckily I’m past the point of return, but still I just keep trotting along like a brainwashed cult member (making things appear nice). Basically waiting for the spacecraft or separation papers, or which whore is behind door number 3.

    • In the vaccination center I ran into a work colleague of FW, who had also been briefly my flatmate (we hosted him for one month in our flat share during university days while he was in between leases).

      He asked me how I was doing and if I had any contact to FW. I briefly replied saying that “he acted shitty towards me so we are not in contact anymore”.

      The work colleague proceeds to stay “I am on your side.” I said there is no need for sides to be taken. He then proceeded to tell me how FW had withheld data from a shared collaboration project, delaying several of this guy s publications.

      I thanked him and reiterated that i didn’t want to know anything about my ex.

      Nevertheless trust that they suck! And not only towards you!

  • I don’t know how you do it CL but I was reading this in the archives lately

    It’s been 2 years I was left without a look back or the chance to do the pick me dance . He’s remarried and has 2 children with AP/ now wife

    I’ve only just started to try on line dating , I’ve been on 3 after work coffee dates and rejected by them all . I won’t be doing it again I’m not mighty enough to keep getting thanks but no thanks .

    One date had blocked me by time I had drove home from the date I had just been on !! He text me ( before blocking me so I couldn’t reply ) that I wasn’t good looking enough for him . This from a man who arrived unshaven and smelling of alcohol and he rejected me !!! He knew what I looked like from on line .

    Anyway I’m not mighty enough ( yet) to do it again as I’m totally fed up of being rejected while him and her skip off into the sunshine . Absolutely nothing goes wrong for them . I’m not going to lie a little bit of bad happening to them wouldn’t go a miss just now .

      • Bev and Karmeh: plenty goes wrong for them as it often does with fuckwits, they are just good at hiding, lying, rugsweeping, etc.
        They are good cons just as they have always been.

        • Agree.

          The thing to remember is they were lying about their life with us too. I don’t know about others but up until the last year of our marriage, he was playing the happy, successful winner who loved is wife etc. But, according to him he was miserable to ten years, and he had been cheating for at least six years. (I didn’t know it then) Yet to our world (and to me) which was full of politics, events and time spent together we were solid.

          So what makes us think they are telling the truth now.

          I get that seeing some Karma is great; and it did help me, but my ex and schmoops stayed together until his death. They had lost everything to his gambling, he left her in huge debt; but who knows maybe they still woke up every morning blissfully in love.

          Either way I am so glad she won that load. She deserved him way more than I did.

            • FWIW

              The DOCTOR tells our youngest (the only child who will take his calls) that he is “so happy”. His life is “finally” great. He’s glad to be free of me and they were posting the SO HAPPY photos on FB before we were divorced.

              Turns out He’s lost his job (which is hard to do where he is & with his qualifications and absolutely would NOT have happened if we were still married)

              AND he and his wife and her daughter are all in “family therapy”

              OH and he has cancer.

              I don’t take pleasure in his suffering but I realize that his image management must be exhausting. OR as CL would say “he eats cognitive dissonance for breakfast.” Thing is, it’s NOT about me.

              Anyway, that’s how great THEIR life is.

        • NewLady15 is EXACTLY right…

          “You can put lipstick on a pig-but it’s still a pig”-and these narc cheaters are AMAZING makeup artists….

        • Some of these FW’s are so shallow that they never notice all the “wrong” around them!!!

          I went of a date with a guy I will refer to as Captain Track Pants.

          He asks me if it’s ok if he comes straight from the gym to our 10 am coffee meet up.

          Sure. But don’t they have showers there???

          He showed up in grey track pants that looked like he had been wearing them for weeks. And a very stained and stinky t-shirt. And I don’t mind if a guy isn’t in shape, but he clearly did not go to the gym often. He was CL’s boiled potato guy.

          He was arrogant, self involved and loud. He had an in home business doing some sort of on line deals ( read unemployed).

          He asked me to lunch that same day. I guess I was too shocked to say no, so we went “just like that “ to a Pho place he liked.

          Still no shower. I had to insist I drive my own car. He was a nutter – I should have just drove home.

          Anyway – this guy was the worst and he was oblivious to himself. It was the worst date. And he tried to kiss me.

          At this point my survival instincts kicked in and I fled, blocked and showered.

      • They *are* wrong. They aren’t happy, not ever. That’s why they continually seek out newness and thrills. It’s a sorry substitute for real happiness, but it’s all they’re capable of.
        Don’t buy into the sparkly image they sell. These are pitiful people.

        • “That’s why they continually seek out newness and thrills. It’s a sorry substitute for real happiness, but it’s all they’re capable of.”

          Absolutely agree. I wish all chumps got to see it plainly, but even for those who don’t see it, I just think it is is most cases reality/ Yes I do think there is that rare unicorn, but very rare.

          • It’s sad to see so many chumps assuming the fuckwit is deliriously happy just because he/she has image management pictures on social media. These people lie. You can’t believe anything they put out there.
            Besides, who cares if they are happy or not. Gaining a life is about finding our happy place, not obsessively ruminating on the fw’s new life. We can’t find our happy if we’re doing that. While it’s a natural stage you go through, it has to have an end point and you go on to the next stage. A lot of chumps get stuck in that stage and therefore can’t make progress in gaining a life. I think that’s where the OP is at.

            • Fuckwit – I think of it as a slim, well dressed person on the outside, with all kinds of dangerous fat around their organs.
              They’re not even aware of their fatty organs -they don’t do anything about it.
              They move on and they keep looking good on the outside… The fat on the inside builds and builds and will eventually get them.
              Meanwhile, we chumps have been slugging away working on ourselves becoming mightier and mightier.
              They look like they’ve ‘arrived’ but we will surpass them.

            • Yep my fw was bragging at his promotion ceremony how much I had supported him in his work yada yada yada. Less than a year later he drop kicked me after telling me he had been miserable for ten years and never loved me. Lying then, lying now really who cares. Lying liars lie. It’s what they do.

    • Oh Karmeh, I was rejected by a dry drunk with a Buster Brown haircut. It’s not you, it’s them. You may think they’re skipping off into the sunshine. I thought the same thing with my ex. But he’s been married and divorced 2 more times with women much younger than himself. Now he just lives with one. We only see what they allow us to see, and if one is busy monitoring their happiness, you aren’t living your best life. A family member portrays all kinds of ‘happy family’ on Fakebook, yet he threatened his wife’s life, was arrested, had to do anger management classes, etc. Other relatives have no idea. We don’t know if nothing wrong happens to the cheaters but I think it does.

    • The blood is everywhere even though it’s not visible to the naked eye. Spray Luminol all over their life and voila, there it is. Some people can live with the stench of their murder victims rotting under their house. I’m glad I’m not one of them. Cheating is proof that there is plenty wrong, and an illicit relationship will never feel as clean and clear as one began honestly. Just because they aren’t aware of it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

      Integrity feels really good and cheaters will never know that feeling.

    • Yes, various friends have been encouraging me to date. Mine was a gray divorce. They say to do it online and see what happens. I have had some local asks, but none that I would want to spend more time with. I also know some horror stories from quick marriages to guys met through apps. At this point it’s not something I need or want.

      I was chatting online with an author friend of mine who had a child later and didn’t marry the father. She was relating that as the years went by, her desire for marriage faded. She chose to buy an RV and homeschool her child while she supported herself with writing, graphic arts, and odd jobs. She had her military retirement and benefits. With the RV, she could go help relatives and friends as needed. It wasn’t as if she had gone off the rails at all. Sometimes she puts down roots for awhile or goes back to a place she’s been before. She talks of settling down again when her child graduates from high school. But dating and marriage, nope. Just not into the thought of it.

      I think that’s where I am.

      • Sounds like my idea of heaven. “So do you want (a) a new husband or (b) an RV”? I’ll take option B please!

    • In reading this, I sense a humble kind heart. I’m willing to bet that slovenly drunk sensed that same decency too. With his kind, when they see true qualities, they either need to be able to envision being adored by you, or they have to overtly reject you. There’s no middle ground. Your decency creates an uncomfortable self awareness in him. Since apparently he couldn’t envision manipulating some lack of self esteem in you to his deluded benefit, he had to instead see himself as being too good for you. Truthfully facing himself is not an option. The telltale? Going so ridiculously overboard in his “rejection”…he insults you and then “blocks” you? As though you guys had had some major falling out, or you’re some crazed nasty stalker or something? This guy was trying to prove something to himself, he wasn’t simply expressing a lack of interest in you. And his lack of interest? That was really fear of seeing his own self displayed versus who he sensed you to be. Basically, when he met you, he rejected himself.

      • Yep. That’s it. Exactly.

        The problem is projecting what the cheater did onto every encounter that doesn’t work out for us. It’s like saying I failed bowling in college and now I’ll always such at bowling or I burned a pie once so I better not bake one.

    • I am so sorry that happened. My guess is he was so insecure he refected you before he got rejected.

      Honestly I don’t know how folks do the online dating.

      I met my now H at work, and we spent a lot of time just getting to know each other through work and an occasional lunch in the work cafeteria. That was scary enough, but at least by the time we did go out, we knew we liked each other on the surface.

      It seems like online dating adds so much extra stress to that. Though I understand it is just the way it is done now.

      You are still not that far out from your nightmare, so I understand how it can still be so painful.

      I am praying something wonderful happens for you in the next year that helps you through this. Whatever shape that takes.

      I think I had mentioned before that I was dumped and he walked away initially. Yes he did circle back, but I know without a doubt after giving him onc chance that it was never about getting me back, it was just about destablizing me for reserve.

      I did however get to see my ex and schmoops crash and burn not only financially, but with family and community fall outs. I won’t lie that did help. I suspect there are things you are just not aware of that have happened. As another poster said they lie and most of them are really good liars.

      The biggest thing that initially happened is that my ex got demoted, and he had only held that promotion for about a year. I am pretty sure that was the beginning of his descent into bankruptcy and other fall outs. He evidently didn’t value me, but he valued that promotion, and he lost it. If he could have hidden that he would have.

      • By the way their financial demise took several years, as from what my son said; he didn’t start gambling big time until after he retired, and he retired early due to losing his position and standing in the community. Oh he would never mention it, but I know; because I know that his promotion and his political standing was of the utmost importance to him. It is why he hung in with me until he got promoted. I worked with him to get there, and once he got it I guess he figured he was home free.

        So it is early in the game for your fw and schmoops.

    • “This from a man who arrived unshaven and smelling of alcohol and he rejected me !!! He knew what I looked like from on line.”
      I think this was a case of rejecting you before you had the chance to reject him. Reflecting back years ago when I was involved in the dating scene, the biggest jerks were the ugly losers. Deep routed anger and resentment issues I guess. The good looking athletic guys were great. However, the really bad guys were the ones that looked good and engaged in some (easy and for show) sports but they worked really hard at looking good and spent a lot of time at the gym. It did not come naturally. My mother told me never get involved with a man that you have to fight for the mirror.

    • Don’t believe nothing goes wrong.
      My ex has had a baby and is now breaking up with gf. He will have 2 child support issues and a 1 year old, at 50.

      It looked like he was creating a new, happy family, but he is still the selfish narcissist he revealed himself to be without my protection.

      I, on the other hand, have so much more time and energy when I only need to be me. No managing anyone else’s lives. It’s amazing.

      I’m not even sure I understand why anyone dates…but perhaps I’m still drunk on independence.

      • Oh that’s wonderful A I’m so happy for you you’ve always rocked it . Love to you and your children

        Karen xx

      • You give me hope! I hope to be drunk on independence one day soon. Thank you for a fresh outlook!

    • Don’t take the online dating crap to heart. I know gorgeous, successful, fit, happy women in their 20’s who get rejected by avg guys. I also know a woman who went on about 200 coffee dates before marrying her prince ( and it was similar for him btw).

      • I once had a guy tell me he couldn’t date me because I made more money that he did.
        Another guy said it was because I owned a house.
        A third one didn’t like the Ph.D.
        Others hate my involvement with sports.

        None of that says anything about me. It says a lot about a bunch of insecure loser FWs.

        • Loved, I must say that is shocking! And the fact that they admit that… omg! Pathetic.
          You need to find a site for professionals… both former H’s wanted educated women, with fulfilling careers….and an interest in sports and/ or having some money would be a bonus.
          Unfortunately they were both disordered – but there are definitely men out there who value your credentials. I have friends married to men like that.
          Perhaps some locations have more of these men than others?

          • Oh, I date a very nice guy now who isn’t any more interested in marriage than I am. I wouldn’t do online dating; I would go do things like join a sports league or a hiking group or a writing group. Then we’d see. I’m fine with or without a Y chromosome in my life.

        • Yet the really dangerous ones are those who don’t tell you so upfront, but draw you in and then start demolishing you during the relationship.

    • You were rejected by an unshaven man who smelled of alcohol on a coffee date, who evidently expected his coffee date to be a supermodel. But you don’t know why he didn’t want a second date. I’ll hazard a guess: he saw that you weren’t on board with his drunk, unkempt, and unkind self and he knew you wouldn’t go for a second date. Either that or he’s delusional since he thought sue were pretty enough from your photo. I’m not sure why you (or anyone else) would care about his opinion.

      I will also point out that you don’t know that “absolutely nothing goes wrong” for XH and the AP. First of all, they are stuck with each other. And two kids in two years? That’s not a day at the beach.

    • Trying out dating sounds brave, and deciding you dont have to put up with the crap that is the online dating world (as I understand it) sounds mighty to me. You’re better than that, and you’re definitely better than those creeps.

  • To the OP, beware the alleged chumps you are finding in the dating world. Klootzak pretended to be a chump and I realized later it was a mirroring move he made to suck me in. Narcs sometimes pretend to be chumps. Sick, I know.

      • I’m a Jedi at this now, thanks to all that training from FW. He was that good. Bad. Still don’t plan to date. Can’t imagine finding anyone I want to spend any amount of time with, never mind love and trust. This is the most painful part of being chumped, for me. I don’t miss FW, and I don’t miss loving FW, but I miss loving.

        • “I don’t miss FW, and I don’t miss loving FW, but I miss loving.”

          Spot on, bread&roses, that’s *exactly* how I feel.

          As soon as the shelters are open, I’m getting a dog! 😂🐶

          Seriously though, I think LAJ has it spot on too – the thing is to get involved with things you like to do, maybe you’ll meet someone nice, maybe not, but you’re with people who have the same interests.

          Online dating? People who *want some kind of relationship*. Not what I’m interested in pursuing anymore, if it happens, that’s nice, if not, that’s OK too.

    • I agree. My second husband was also a chump, or presented himself as one. We bonded over our supposed chumpiness. After I married him I found out he was abusive. His first wife didn’t run off with one of her patients— she left him because he was abusive. According to the marriage counselor I dragged him to, he also had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I sure can pick them.

      I’m staying out of the dating pool until I fix my picker. In other words, probably forever.

  • As CL said, we all got left. The cheater abandoned his/her commitment, whether he/she stuck around to use and abuse us some more, or just up and left.

    I can tell you from my experience that it isn’t any consolation to have a cheater offer you a reconciliation. They don’t mean it. They just want to get more use out of you and have a placeholder until the AP is ready to commit or they find another AP, at which point they will probably leave anyway. I turned him down and I’m certainly glad I did. He didn’t pick me. The OW just didn’t want him for real. It was all just a fantasy and a game. If she’d wanted more than just a good time he would have left me for her ages ago. I refused to be second choice and a consolation prize for an asshole. I deserved to be the one and only and I was never going to be that to him.

    Many others thought they had been picked, but the fuckwit kept on cheating, all throughout marital counseling and many fake promises of change. Don’t pine away for that kind of torture. An abandonment hurts like hell, but eventually you will feel better. If you had stayed with him the torment would never have ended.

    It sounds to me like you are blaming yourself to some degree, telling yourself that if you had danced prettier or done something else differently, he’d have picked you and you could have repaired the marriage. That isn’t true. Your marriage was over the minute he made the choice to cheat. That was the point at which you were actually rejected, not when he left.

    It doesn’t sound like you’re ready to date yet. You need to do more work on building up your self worth and internalizing that his rejection of you reflects on what he is lacking rather than what you are lacking.

    • You are completely right. The spouse who wins the pick-me dance never ever feels they have won anything. Trust me. It’s not your fault you married someone who was emotionally defective. Also, these nutjobs in the dating world who can’t even muster common decency: they have nothing to do with you. There is a lot of untreated mental illness in this world.

      • “There is a lot of untreated mental illness in this world.”

        Yep, and many of them don’t even realize they aren’t normal. I had one guy I met online, a widower who seemed super interested in me. We had one good, long date, texted and flirted a lot for a several weeks, and were supposed to have our second date, but when I called him to arrange it he was cold and brusque and then he inexplicably ghosted me. Now that I’m no longer into meeting anyone, I couldn’t care less if anyone is interested in me or not. But that rejection did sting a bit at the time.

    • OHFFS, ‘Your marriage was over the minute he made the choice to cheat. That was the point at which you were actually rejected, not when he left.’ Thank you for this.
      I do think mine left because the damage was done- and he knew it. I couldn’t face it at the time, but I’d had told him in the past that I would never be able to get over cheating. He knew he blew it all up, but hey – he’s flexible ….OW was younger so why not!

      • I have read a lot of your story Zip and I agree, he knew he blew it up and there was no going back.

        In my case; I think he either really did want to leave, or he was caught by the short hairs because she was his direct report; maybe a little of both. I think he thought the thrill was going to last with her, and to be fair, I was gaining power in the marriage via my work, and I had started to state my needs more. He did not want to give me much of anything. He didn’t give schmoops much after the marriage either. I hope she enjoyed the sneaking around, I believe it went downhill fast after the Las Vegas wedding.

        I love that story about getting married at a Casino that CL posted. So fitting. Yeah that will prove to everyone that I didn’t just blow up my whole life, shot my wad on the schmoops.

      • Yes, mine ran away because he knew I was heart broken over his cheating & lying – I told him so.

        I remember right after dday I decided I was going to die by starvation & lack of water (crazy I know but I couldn’t process what was happening & I guess I was running away myself.) On the second day he brought a glass of water to the bedside. I told him to go to hell. I’m tearing up just typing this. Anyway I didn’t hold out too much longer on my fast.

      • Zip, that’s sick how easily he moved on once he knew he’d screwed the pooch at home. It shows how shallow they are that they can just replace one person with another and feel no sense of loss.

        • It’s even weirder when they not only swap out you, but kids. He swapped out his adoring and loving stepchildren for new stepchildren- overnight. I know there’s something very wrong with not only him, but with the OW who thought he was a great catch. She dumped her husband for that.
          It’s like chump lady says, the mental gymnastics they must perform to convince themselves their cheating partner is a dreamboat.
          I mean, we didn’t have this kind of evidence when we married them. They do.

  • Yes, I was left. More like abandoned although a divorce attorney would say that we mutually decided to separate, and then he decided to make it long-distance.

    He left behind chaos and told me I deserved that. Then he decided not to come back here and that I had to move there. We sold the house. I had three jobs and utilized an informal food bank so that I could reserve my savings because the future was horribly uncertain. We lived in a junky rental that was perpetually falling apart. Our kids lived with me and commuted to college. They covered their expenses and got scholarships and grants which mostly covered things.

    He had almost nothing to do with our college kids in the first year. They received a handful of texts and emails. Later there were a few cards. No wonder they didn’t want him at their graduations.

    Through it all, he was perpetually vague about how he was spending his time in the new location. He told me that he was “helping” various women which was a red flag for me. He said he went out to eat, worked out, and walked on the beach. That’s maybe a couple hours of the day (he’s retired). I knew that an old girlfriend that he idolized lived in that area.

    During the divorce process which he kicked off (yes, it had to be), my very experienced attorney kept saying that he “smelled” (his word) other women. My state where my ex chose to file has an adultery option, so we discussed that. I decided that I didn’t want to pay for a PI if we could settle out of court. Thankfully we did, but there was a lot of drama at the end and then yet more during closeout. All told, the “simple” divorce took over two years total because of how he acted and pandemic delays.

    During all of it he cultivated the “poor me” image with his family which they bought into. It helped that none of them live close to him and that he seems them infrequently. He tried that with his attorney, and in time the attorney stopped buying it and told my ex to get a life. His told mine that from what he heard, there was nothing in our marriage that wasn’t normal couple ups-and-down. Mine confirmed that impression and noted that I was a perfect client — respectful, reasonable, and responsive.

    So yes, it was horribly painful and financially trying, but life on the other side is good.

  • I felt mighty some days, others I feel mighty abandoned 😂

    The fact that I survived the nuclear bomb of discard and somehow have managed to keep my head above the water is a miracle. I am the sane parent that has to fend for the kids well-being and I don’t have the luxury to fall apart. Those days I feel mighty.

    I never saw FW as the winner, he is fkd up and his priorities are skewed, however, I don’t see myself as a winner either, it’s all different degrees of losing. I don’t get a break ever and I’m tired and moody. My kids suffer and seeing their little hearts breaking hurt me more. Fw has a responsible indentured slave to handle it all with no help while he is out following his dreams and partying and being the hero to others while my kids eat their dinners asking me if he would come, so no mighty-ness has been awarded to me quite yet. Maybe someday, it’s all to fresh and raw.

    • You model mightiness every day by being the sane parent and shouldering the burden. It’s unfair, and it’s maddening, but you can hold your head high.

      • Also with all due respect to CL, I think maybe “mighty” might be too ambitious in the beginning. I like the word “sane” if we can come out of that horror sane and standing upright, that is huge.

        • I hear you Susie, that ‘mighty’ column triggers me…but I‘ve decided it’s what the definition of mighty is for individuals during the stages. Like:

          At first- you didn’t kill yourself – mighty
          Then, you showered – mighty
          You tried to act strong for your kids- mighty
          You got out for a walk – mighty
          You made some phone calls- mighty / sold the house/ packed/ changed accounts / grocery shopped while hiding tears
          You decided to work on taking care of your mental health the best you could – mighty
          You took care of others while you were suffering – mighty
          You cooked- mighty
          You went for a walk……mighty
          You keeping working on getting unstuck and moving on- mighty
          It can take a while to get back to where we were, let alone some super ‘improved’ version of ourselves.
          We are all mighty to have survived such heartache, the rest is all icing.

          • Very good points Zip, each step along this path is mighty, even when it’s the day when you get out of bed even though you wish the ground would swallow you up, or the day you laugh at something even though you feel rotten deep down.

            Sometimes it’s only when you look back you realise how well you did in the circumstances.

            • Yes let’s add laughing to that list. Having a sense of humour – super mighty

              – one of the reasons I love CL

          • 👍

            For me the mightiest thing I did right after Dday was walk upright, and be able to go to work. I held on to work like a mad woman, it was all I had that I could count on.

            I plastered a fake smile on my face and lasted a week before telling my supervisor. She was amazing to me. She said she knew something was off, but since I was getting some good work done, thought maybe she was imagining it.

            She asked me if I cared if she told the team. I said no, but just tell them I will be wobbly but will be ok. That Friday I got a huge arrangement of flowers delivered. My co workers got me through on those bad days.

          • YES! Zip you nailed it.
            Simply surviving narcissistic abuse compounded with having your intact family blown to smithereens is mighty.
            Keeping yourself on the road to recovery, with set back after set back after set back, is as mighty as anyone can be!

        • “Mighty” starts with one foot in front of the other when the pain makes it hard to get out of bed or when we think it will never end.

  • We all feel you. In my case, I was left very coldly. No chance for a “pick me dance.” After just 3 months with OW coworker, I figured it out and confronted FW and he walked out on me and our son and our house within the hour… and never came back. He moved right in with coworker OW just 2 miles away. He already had a key to her house — with her 2 sons.

    All I could think was “what was wrong with ME?” And after much confusion, trauma, dramatic weight loss and therapy… I came to terms with it.

    Once I understood that he wasn’t who I thought he was — it’s all so bizarre and surreal isn’t it? — then I slowly realized I was LUCKY! He ripped the Band-Aid off. There were no games to be played. That leech detached from one host and latched onto another without looking back. Thank goodness!

    A cheater is not a winner. If a murderer kills a bunch people and doesn’t get caught — is that “winning”? They are shitty humans. In some cases, they barely pass as human.

    Sometimes I even consider sending OW a thank you card 😉

    It takes time — but breathe in and breathe out — freedom from a cheater narc is like breaking out of prison and getting full access to fresh air again.

    • I agree 100 percent. You mentioned the word murderer. I want all chumps to watch true crime and lifetime movies and understand this: you got away. You won. You are the movie’s conned victim who married a monster. The monster tricked you into marrying him. There was no way of knowing. He was charming and he fooled you. But when he snapped (as was always his nature) you outran the villain and you got away. You survived. In these movies, that is all that matters. Think about that for a minute. Bad people are universal. It has nothing to do with decent people. It’s not personal. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time when you met him. Does this make sense?

        • Twelve or fifteen percent of the world’s population is personality disordered. Narcissists, borderlines, antisocials and paranoids. That means I’m going to cross paths with some of them, in my neighborhood, at work, seeking services, when I travel solo or part of a group domestically or abroad. There is no way around the numbers. So I have to pay attention, ask lots of questions, trust my gut and walk away when necessary. With age comes wisdom.

        • When the Lacy Peterson story hit the news and we found out he had a girlfriend, my blood ran cold.

          A few weeks after my ex filed and we went into our separation agreement, he called me wanting to “try again” I had my doubts, but still loved him and was willing to give it a shot. He asked me to drive to our river property where we could talk. I did it, I knew he wasn’t acting right; but he was saying the right words. I let him come back to our marital home and it lasted a week. I asked him to leave, and he had to per the separation agreement. My guess is if he could have stayed until the primary election was over and played the happy reconciled marriage he would have. All it would have took would be for him to stay in the house, no one on the outside would know he was still treating me like shit. He counted on me not telling. However I kicked him out, and he couldn’t stop that.

          I think of going to that river property and how easy it would have been. Still makes me shudder.

      • I agree, Mia. Before I started figuring out that my ex had Narcissistic Personality Disorder (my diagnosis), I didn’t like true crime stories much. It was so hard for me to believe that there were so many evil people walking among us. I believed that the wives of serial killers must have known somehow.

        Now, after years of educating myself on personality disorders, I often watch 20/20 and Dateline to see how these bad people are finally exposed for whom they are. It is gratifying when they finally catch one, even decades later. I see how many people still defend the guilty, claiming that they know him to be a great guy. And I am grateful that I escaped.

  • Sleuthy, I totally relate to this. After years of pick me dancing, i got a text in the middle of the night on my 10th wedding anniversary that my husband was moving in with his girlfriend. I did NOT feel mighty at all. I felt rejected and so so sad. Then my best friend of 20 years was so cruel when I needed her most I had to stop communicating with her. Again, did not feel mighty. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of her empathy or support after years of providing her with my time, attention and support through all kinds of crap.
    BUT all of the things I continued to do—work, be a sane parent, advocate for my child’s needs in custody evaluations, etc. are what I now see as my crowning achievements. It felt terrible at the time. But all of the things that you continue to do–parent, live your life, ignore your sorry-ass ex and Mary Poppins Jerkface—those add up to recovery and one amazingly strong person. I wish I had thrown my abusive, allergic-to-work ex much earlier. But I kept going when I was flat out destroyed and you are doing the same thing. Be proud of yourself for that!!!!

    • I guess I’m one of the .5% because I never did the pick-me dance. Of course, we weren’t yet married, we both came off of long marriages in which he cheated many times. I knew his history and still invited him into my life and home. D-Day was the day I kicked him out of my home and my life.

      But – I had the benefit of knowing his past, we weren’t yet married, and he had an available empty (crappy) rental to go to.

      That all made it an “easy” decision. Not that it was emotionally or even physically easy.

      Online dating – I actually went on that coffee date. The blue eyes reeled me in. Thanks to Covid and quarantine that one coffee date was it for a month. Forcing face-time dates was the best thing. Finding out that we’re both awkward nerds, that our ideologies match, was the result.

      I don’t need another roommate, but I want a male companion/friend. I learned that I love living alone (half the time with my teen).

      The FW left the relationship. I just kicked him out of it when I knew that I was cake.

      (He has been begging me to come back to him. I’ve blocked him as many ways as possible but every once in a while he gets through.) All I see when I look at him is a familiar-looking stranger.

      I don’t even remember the point I was trying to make. 🤦🏻‍♀️😂

    • “It felt terrible at the time. But all of the things that you continue to do–parent, live your life, ignore your sorry-ass ex and Mary Poppins Jerkface—those add up to recovery and one amazingly strong person.”

      Yes, putting one foot in front of the other. It is so painful to be dumped/rejected. Until we really understand the reality of the situation, we just have to get through it and focus on the daily tasks.

      I was lucky, my son was grown, I think having to manage dependent children along with that is just so much harder.

  • Dear SS – I think you are in need of a major “reframing the narrative”… you didn’t get left… you got FREED. Whether you wanted it or not, you NEEDED IT. You were in an abusive relationship with no will to get out. Think of it this way: you’re standing in front of a car barreling down the road to hit you, but you’re stuck in the mud so thick you cannot move your feet, then out of nowhere someone pushes you out of the way of the car… YOU LIVED… that is what happened here. (For me, God did for me what I would not do for myself… I was staying for the kids… ha.) When Mr. Sparkles left me for the OW, I was devastated and pick me danced for a year before finding my mighty and filing for divorce… but I had to take back my power first… I had to see that he did me a favor… “the trash took itself out”!

    Find the gratitude. It is there. And I wouldn’t worry about dating until you wrap up the leftovers from the marriage. This isn’t a race… this is your one and only life… live it your way.

    • Yes! Exactly. You are 💯 percent right. No one would say “this wolf was after me and I was half-mauled when he suddenly rejected me because he found a more delicious woman to chew on. That made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for him.” Fuck that. Let him go destroy some other unfortunate desperate for attention. You won!

  • “Who wants to WIN a cheater?”

    I did–at least at first.

    When I told my sister of the affair, she said, “He’s no prize.” Through tears, I nodded in agreement, but I know that I really still thought he was a prize.

    How is that possible?

    I quickly read LAC; GAL umpteen times. I wrote, “Trust that he sucks,” on a sticky note. I thought I believed it.

    But it really took time and distance for that message to sink in. It was as if I was in a cult. I just couldn’t see his ugliness. I couldn’t see that he was an abuser. Instead, I engaged in this type of unhealthy self-talk:

    *I must be unattractive (or at least not as attractive as the OW).
    *I’m not sexy enough.
    *The OW is better.
    *The OW is younger and therefore so much more appealing (she IS younger than my ex, by 12 years)
    *They found true love.
    *He’s right. They bonded over taking care of sick patients. How wonderful! I’m inferior.
    *I miss my husband.
    *I want my old life back.
    *I screwed up. Why didn’t I do x, y, z? I should have fished with him more.
    *I overreacted to things. Why did I overreact?
    *I must have been too sensitive.
    *I wasn’t enough!!!
    *I’m not worthy.
    *blah, blah, blah (with a self-flagellation stick)

    It took months for me to truly process what a jumbo jerk my ex is AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN.
    It took months for me to realize that the OW is truly my inferior; she knowingly had sex for years with a married man, AND she cheated on her own husband. The two of them giddily tossed family-destroying grenades over their shoulders as they ran off together.

    They may or may not be happy together. Maybe two low-character cheaters enjoy each other’s company. Whatevs! I’m trying not to care. #notatmehyet

    I do know this: I’m better off without my ex. I’m not just saying the words now. I trust that he sucks. I know that he’s no prize. And I also know that I’m worthy. I only surround myself with people who support me and treat me well.

    I feel as if I’m no longer in prison.

    • Thanks, Spinach. Hearing those kids sing so beautifully really makes my day and renews my hope for a better world.

    • “It took months for me to truly process what a jumbo jerk my ex is AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN.”

      Yes, double yes. It take some time, for the mind and heart to connect in these situations. I think for me, I thought if he could just come right back we could go back to how things were. It took a long time to realized that things could never go back to where I was blissfully ignorant, and that is all it would be if I could go back. By his own admission he was a serial cheater, though for a short time I didn’t believe him.

      The guy I adored didn’t exist, it was a mask. That is hard to let go of.

    • Spinach

      I think the above points about 10 times a day……over and over again.

      If only I’d been better…
      If only I could have had a child (fertility issues).

      Now he’s with someone younger and I dread the day I hear they are having a child. It’s like he won.

      It sucks.

      • Morrychump,

        As much as your situation is incredibly tough, please know that that man didn’t deserve you. He sucks. You did nothing to deserve this. You couldn’t have done anything better to change his basic assholery. The OW sucks, too. She may be fertile, but she’s awful.

        I sincerely hope that you start to feel better with time and distance.

        ((hugs))

        • Thank you for the responses.

          Today is exactly one year to the day since D-day.

          It’s been a rough day. Can’t wait for tomorrow.

      • We’re on your team, Morry. I know the pain of being childless and chumped. It’s a very lonely place that can make you question your worth and your purpose.

        It’s been nearly a year since I moved out, and I welcome the growing distance. After one year, I give myself permission to stop keeping track. It’s a relief. Looking forward to one year from NC (think I can call it New Year’s Eve). Then that’s it for arbitrary anniversaries. I don’t want FW to be the main reference point in my life any more. He never should have been in the first place.

      • Ooooh I feel this in my bones, if I could reach out and hug you I would. We struggled with infertility for years, then I had some health issues and decided childfree would be okay. He would tell me he didn’t need children as long as he had me…and that I wasn’t ‘broken’.

        DDay he announced he wanted to be a father, wanted to leave ‘a legacy’. Now he’s with someone younger and I tortured myself thinking he would have the life we dreamt of and how I got cheated out of so much.

        But honestly, whether he does have children with her or not, he didn’t win. And there were days I told myself this in the mirror and smirked at my own disbelief. But eventually it sunk in for me and I know it will for you too. They don’t win.

    • Spinach, I suffered that way too – thinking I caused this. This might make you laugh…out of desperation, I talked to a psychic …I felt fine with paying to hear some good news because my therapist wasn’t great.
      I sat there looking very depressed and distraught – I said nothing – and she told me what had happened. She knew. She even knew it was a work affair and some other stuff.
      Then she said “don’t take him back, you’ll never be able to trust him” (I didn’t have the option)
      Then she said “you did nothing to cause this” “this isn’t your fault”
      She said that to me a few times because it’s like she was surprised that I actually felt that this was my fault ( or maybe all chumps blame themselves at 1st).
      She also said it wouldn’t last, OW would cheat on him. I kind of thought she was telling me what I wanted to hear on that last one but $ we’ll spent!

  • My story ran recently but I did leave out some details ( I could write a book).

    I was not really given a choice, just told how awful and miserable I made her and how below her I was.

    She initially left me for someone who had attempted suicide twice within the last month after his wife caught him cheating and had just been released from the psych hospital. He was an alcoholic with a history of abusing each wife he had and their children. He was currently living in a car and unemployed.

    The current one is 10-15 years younger, no steady job, and lives with his mom and dad.

    She went from driving a luxury car, having a nice home, being treated like a queen, having a housekeeper to living in not much more than a shack. She doesn’t have a full-time job, no health benefits, her child doesn’t like her but if you see her on Facebook or out anywhere she’s “living her best life”

    Just depends on what people consider winning.

  • I think online dating is a band-aid on the gaping wound of dysfunction in our modern techno-world. We have no really good places to seek others with a like minded goal of companionship, because that is a full time job, and all of us are already working. In addition, the cons and defective’s of the world go online to try to “fish” while hiding their true nature. You don’t even know how safe you will be to meet for a coffee date in a public place. It is scary!

    My advice is not to look for a mate. Make sure you are strong, and well, then seek a friend, male or female, in a group that shares an interest of yours. Whatever that interest is, the people who attend should display their interest in the subject. You will learn a lot more about other people’s character while observing them talking about something else than you will if they are trying to impress or assess you. The phrase “character is what you choose to do when no one is looking” is true. Listen and observe their behaviors. Do they ring true? Make friends of both sexes, not that you intend to date, but who display the character you need to be around. Don’t be afraid to cull if you find you have missed something important. The pressure is off you in this situation. People either want to share an interest, or not. If something develops, it will evolve more organically, over time. If not, you have made some like minded friends. Win/win.

    I don’t know if this will work for a mate — but I have made some really good music friends. I have no interest in dating them, but at my age it is just so good to be able to relax and enjoy my life without the pressure of “seeking”. You are complete without an “other”, significant or not. Believe in yourself. You are worthy of being treated well, and with respect. Don’t ever forget that. Those who rush to judge you because you don’t fulfill some “need” they have will be searching forever.

    • I did exactly this with a sports league. I made male and female friends and met the man I date now. I have no intention to marry but it is very nice to have a companion for those pre-COVID things we used to do and may someday do again. It was a great place to meet people and even if I hadn’t found someone to date, I would have had a group of people to hang out with during the season and after.

  • Up until about the 1940s or 50s we were an agrarian society. You got up in the morning and you worked and you worked and you worked until sundown. You did not have luxuries of time. What you had was a day that was planned around getting basic needs met. I consider a lot of what’s the matter with this country and the West in general is way too much time on our hands. I read somewhere that primitive societies don’t have a word for depression. When you live in a throwaway society you throw things away, you throw people away. Ask anybody at the Humane Society and they will tell you how many pets get thrown away every year. We are not much good at loyalty anymore

    • True. Your comment reminded me to look at the bigger picture. Getting rejected is pretty timeless and universal, so it’s not about any specific person. Some people are lucky enough to encounter good people, but most are unlucky enough to meet broken people.

    • “Ask anybody at the Humane Society and they will tell you how many pets get thrown away every year.”

      That is so heartbreaking. All of my pets have been either strays or shelter animals. They are the best.

      We just recently adopted my brothers dog as he and his wife passed away. He is such a sweet heart. He was adopted by my brother from their local shelter. They were a cat family but he had wanted a dog forever, so finally they decided to get one. That was about five years ago, and the first thing my brother said to me when we visited was “if anything happens to me…” And of course I said yes.

      So here we are.

      • As the bumper sticker says “Neuter is cuter” Four or five MILLION cats and dogs euthanized every year here in the States.
        I had to dissuade an older friend from adopting a cat. She’s struggling financially and lives in a tiny flat near a busy roadway. Cats and dogs need fresh air, sunshine and space to run or roam, in my opinion.
        Furever fur baby 🐈

      • As I was walking out the door my husband reminded me not to bring another dog home. We still had one and he was enough. Well my volunteer job that day was walking dogs free for adoption. It was at a park and was sponsored by the local shelter. No one wanted her. She was 70 pounds of sweetness and when I called home he knew we had another dog. I have never had anything, person or animal, love me like she did. She died this year, 12 years later, and I miss her every day. If people loved each other the way she loved me and I loved her we would have no broken hearts except at the inevitable goodbye.

  • Thank you CL. My hurt pride insulates me from the raw truth of infidelity being humiliation and rejection. I have refused to take that on because I didn’t do it or expect it-plan for it. It was not in my control and that is hard for me to accept. But deep inside that is the truth of the matter-i felt totally rejected and he was smug and arrogant about it..rubbed my nose in it. Like he won something. In these matters there is no winning or losing there is just carrying on. Taking the hit. It is not about what happened but rather how I recover. Now I look for people with shared values. People who don’t lie and cheat, scam the system, or put others down. I look for people who build each other up and are kind. Wish this happened to me when I was much younger but then I had a family to raise so probably would not have had the time to appreciate the lesson. Hugs!

  • All relationships have problems. A relationship can only be as healthy as the two people in it. Cheating is NOT a symptom of emotional and mental health. It is a symptom of deep issues. Cheaters don’t resolve problems. They do a geographical to a new person, they put their fingers in their ears, hum loudly, and avoid problem-solving. They create slush funds of resentment and then bail when the dam breaks.

    A house built on sand with the rotting corpses of the family members sacrificed at the altar of Twu Wuv is never going to be as solid and odor-free as a house built on bedrock with no murder victims hidden away, no matter what they think.

    I love the Investigation Discovery channel. I find it fascinating that amateur evildoers think they can outsmart the scientist who has the electronic intergalactic gastronintestinal photon spectrometer thingy. There is no action without an opposite reaction. There is no crime committed without leaving trace evidence. Cheaters have to live with trace evidence, the stench and the blood of their victims all over them. Some people can do that. I’m glad I can’t.

    Don’t be fooled by appearances. No one should know that better than us.

  • I also would say when you are casually dating/ meeting people online, you have no idea where they are in life and it’s highly likely a rejection isn’t really about you or your attractiveness as a person/ potential mate. I met my current partner of 10 years online and we had a disastrous first coffee date where he said I made it very clear I wouldn’t be interested in anything further. In truth, I was only a year out from my divorce and in no way ready for a real relationship.

    We met again online a year later and decided to try another date. Same people, same looks, same careers, same personalities, but I was in a different place in life and ready for something more the second time we met.

  • Perhaps meh is when one stops feeling rejected and realizes they have been set free?

    I could almost thank my ex for releasing me…almost. He is still an asshole and his behaviour was unacceptable.

    Regardless, I’m enjoying every moment of my new life!

  • This is from Alan Cohen’s blog today. He is one of my favorite spiritual teachers.

    Only with the Heart
    Can One See Rightly

    “Are you wondering what company to work for? Who to hire to improve your house? Who to marry? Which friends to associate with? Which product to buy? Every day we have to make decisions about who we will work, play, and connect with, and which people and organizations we will support.
    Dee and I have recently discovered an impeccable way to make such choices. We are very attracted to work with people who have a good heart.
    We were trying to decide which contractor to choose to do some remodeling on our house. After we interviewed several contractors, we looked up their reviews on Yelp. One contractor had a review by a fellow who had hired the contractor while he was dealing with cancer. The contractor had built him a new deck, and then didn’t charge him a penny because the homeowner was going through a rough time. We knew this was a sign to hire this contractor, because that kind of caring energy is the kind we want in our home.
    While I was trying out a new dentist, the hygienist and I got to talking about dogs (a subject I get to with just about everyone ). She told me that she and her husband have an older dog who was traumatized by the intense construction going on around their house for a long time. They decided to break their lease and move to a quieter town. “Breaking the lease cost us $10,000, but now our dog is much happier and healthier, so it was worth it.” I took this act of kindness as an indication of the quality of the dental practice, for a dentist to have such a kind person on his staff.
    We found a dog groomer who left the shop she was working at because her values didn’t match the owner’s. She took a leap of faith to establish her own grooming business out of her house. When we went to drop off our dogs for grooming, we found that she is a single woman who takes in lots of rescues, rehabilitates them, and finds them good homes, all at her own expense. We knew this is the groomer for us and we are happy to support her new business.
    In his classic book The Little Prince, Antoine de St. Exupéry said, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” We are living at a time when lots of things are changing, we have huge new choices to make, many people are steeped in fear, and our path can be confusing. At such a time we need to find a way to make healthy choices that will serve us and the people we touch. This is a powerful opportunity to practice choosing from the heart rather than the head.
    I often quote Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel, who said, “When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old I admire kind people.” If you are going to choose someone to hire, a company to work with, a friend, or a relationship partner, you will do well to put kindness at the top of your priority list. If you are going to support someone, support someone who is bringing light and healing to the world by their loving attitude.
    The world needs miracle workers. Anyone who chooses compassion over judgment is performing a miracle. May we make that noble choice.”

    – Alan Cohen

    It’s very simple. Is cheating on your partner or getting involved with someone who is in a committed partnership an act of kindness?

    No. It’s cruel.

    How about lying or hiding money or refusing to communicate? How about ignoring your partner when they speak up? How about defrauding someone? How about holding them hostage by pretending to be married while screwing around with other people?

    No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

    Case closed.

    • There is nothing more to say.

      And the cruel/kind test puts all those cheaters supposedly living (ahem) “the good life” is a terrible, revealing, and merciless light. They’re cruel. Doesn’t matter if they have a vacation house and travel to Paris when there’s no pandemic and drive a sports car. They’re cruel. And we know that first hand.

  • . Even though I’m the one that left the house, he said he was going to divorce me. I feel like I got thrown out like last weeks cat litter. He treated me like I was invisible long before any divorce paperwork was filed. I was just looking at old journal entries from last year and when he told me he needed other females in his life because “we don’t communicate”, I stayed of course and danced as fast as I could. All he did was become more and more mean and dismissive. The nicer I got, the meaner he became towards me.
    I can really relate to the letter writer and I’m grateful for this today because I don’t feel very mighty either. But I’ve looked at some of the things I have done to move on with my life and need to keep that in mind. Although my heart is horribly broken and I still feel sad, angry, guilty and everything else, I am doing things to move on. I went out dancing on Saturday night, I’m finally getting nice furniture for my apartment, I’m staying the course with counseling and I’m seeing friends who understand. I infriended someone who was rude and inappropriate on Facebook. So I think we chumps should look at what we’ve done to take care of ourselves even though our hearts are shattered in little pieces.

    I’ve sort of jumped into the online dating and I realize I need to get off of it. I’m honestly not ready as CL points out with the letter writer. I think I’m only trying to prove to my stbx that even though he does not want me somebody will!
    I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. And honestly I’m not really feeling comfortable actually meeting any of these men.
    I’d rather have actual friends male and female. I need to realize that stbx was never my friend. He was not real with me. He was only play acting until his real personality showed up. And honestly if I met him now with his current behavior I would not have anything to do with him. I’d stay far, far away… let the 20 something year old girls have him.

  • At first I too wanted to hang on so I’d know I did my best to save the marriage.

    Now I know it wasn’t a real marriage because there is no marriage if only one of us is committed to it. The other one lied and cheated and yes that means in all cases that’s the one who “left,” whether they linger awhile for cake or not.

    I also think in terms of my having been married to a sort of Bernie Madoff – other people may have been taken in by his act too, not just me. Skilled con artists are just really good at acting and mirroring and making you feel special. But once I realized I was left by a con artist, I was relieved to no longer be living with a lying manipulative gaslighting snake!

    • Yes Hopium, Mine made everyone feel special/ even a bank employee he couldn’t stand – Bank employee would think he was exe’s best friend.
      Everyone loved him – such charm. Never said the wrong thing/ great listener / True politician could work a room.
      Former mother-in-law was the same way. I thought she was amazing, she made me feel wonderful. Then dropped me one day to the next when her son dropped me.
      I had close girlfriend back in the day who also turned out to be a cheater/
      Same qualities. Very charming, never said the wrong thing. I just checked up on her on Facebook and I see she’s still big on sending out huge whopping compliments to people.
      They get people to like them, so they always look like they’re winning.
      They need to be seen a certain way.
      It’s really important to them.
      I will forever be leery of super charming people.

  • https://youtu.be/XTvTLGkWYMU

    Cheaters and those who cheat with them are cruel. Their conduct is solid proof. Ignore it at your own peril. There is no honor among thieves and their association prove that like attracts like.

  • FW of 24 years pretended it was just another workday and abandoned all of us, his elderly, in poor health parents included, for his delusions and the black hole of the bottle. Crocodile tears and promises of reformation when the reality of OW didn’t live up to his fantasies (I wasn’t interested in sloppy seconds). The reality is that the abandonment and discardment of empathy happened long before; their physical departure is just the final act of dropping their facade when they’ve found an easier, more gullible source of supply to leech off of.

    It was devastating and blindsiding, and I don’t forgive or forget the abuse that FW and OW put us through. It was liberating when I realized that I no longer had to live within the parameters of his lies and selfishness, that I didn’t have to be a supporting player/placeholder in whatever drama he was crafting for his own benefit.

    • Ain’t It A Shame,
      So sorry for the abandonment. I was abandoned too.

      You write that he abandoned his elderly parents as well. I remember a few instances here where posters said as much.

      • And this is pitch perfect:
        “The reality is that the abandonment and discardment of empathy happened long before; their physical departure is just the final act of dropping their facade when they’ve found an easier, more gullible source of supply to leech off of.”

      • Thanks! I’m doing much better these days, and I hope that you are as well. FW’s parents ended up relocating to the community where their other son lives, and have little to do with FW these days other than the occasional phone call. I’m closer to them than he is, sadly, but that’s the way it is.

        Partners, children, parents, we’re nothing but props to cheaters and OM/OW, but we’re all healthier for removing their dysfunction from our lives.

  • It’s gotten very simple for me: cheating is cruel. It is not kind. Cheaters are not good people, kind people. You need to do good to be good, not phony good so you manipulate people into thinking your’e a kind person. you can’t commit an emotional, mental, psychological, sexual, spiritual, self-murdering crime like this against another human being and say you are good, kind, or know what love actuall is. Cheaters don’t have a clue what love – cheating is the proof, kindness and empathy are probably the simplest indicators of who someone is, as are their ability to like and chat and betray their family.

    They make no effort to please anyone byt themselves. It takes 1 million lies to cheat on someone so the first character defect you’re looking at is lying. I stayed way to long hoping for the best, It takes a long time for the heart to catch up to your head. One day is will just be better…… it takes time. Its been 5 years since divorce was final after 3 decades of life. I was duped big time and that will not happen again.

    Peace doesnt have a price … IMO

  • I must admit I DID feel mighty when I tipped off the sheriff the day I knew he’d be drinking and then getting behind the wheel with schmoopie(s) from work Refused, rudely, my offer to drive him. He was arrested, of course. I filed within hours. Too bad, so sad. F** off.

    • My favorite time was when I picked up the newspaper and saw where he was demoted. Oh the mayor attributed it to organizational changes, but he was busted right at a year after he was promoted, and just about a month after he was outed by someone. Not sure who, though I suspect someone who worked for the city. He got put back out on patrol, and kicked out of his cushy office. Put a bounce in my step for a couple days.

      Hey asshole I helped you get that promotion, we both know that; schmoops brought it crashing down around you.

  • As I began reading this post this morning, it started to seem just like my story. Then I realized — it WAS! This was my letter from years ago.

    I’m pleased to report that Chump Lady was absolutely right. I am mighty. (Years of therapy helped me get there.)

    And I am newly madly in love with a very mighty former chump. 🙂

  • I’ve written this before but one upside of doing the stupid RIC therapy process (and maybe even a reason to feign interest in it and go through the motions while fully intending to bail) is that some cheaters get anal retentive about the “full disclosure” ritual and truthfully share certain icky details about the affair and affair partners. Some habitual liars, when they try to tell the truth at last, can’t seem to edit. It’s like lancing a boil.

    At first it’s traumatizing (ew), but later all those gross details are comedy fodder. Most importantly, it can demythologize and de-romanticize these affairs for the gritty dogshit-shows they are.

    What I learned about the AP– the alcoholism and alcoholic enabling, poor health habits, kinkmeisha performative reenactments of porn and love of rape-ily violent pulp crime novels, daddy issues, pre-diabetes, eating disorders, PCOS-driven desperation to get any mate before the clock ran out– would have been a tragic case study of internalized misogyny and dysfunction if the AP wasn’t such a baldly mean person. But the story was so full of human pathos that it was impossible to believe this person or FW “won” anything even if FW hadn’t dumped the AP on D-Day. At least that was part of the revelation that helped me bail out. It was like walking in on your partner wearing a diaper and eating shit from a bucket. Hard to “mythologize” or project any romanticism on that.

    Maybe I’d feel differently at first if they’d ended up together. But in the long run, I think any sense of FOMO was impossible with what I learned.

    • I can see how it could later become comedy. In real time as my ex was telling me about the whore, he got all dreamy and said “our first time was in the back seat of the squad car” I stopped him in his tracks and said “I am your wife, why are you telling me this” or close to those words. Anyway, now years later it strikes me as funny imagining those two short horny toads hoisting their fat asses over to the back seat.

      Talk about acting like stupid teenagers.

    • Totally. What I learned about the AP, because the FW threw his “twu wuv” under the bus right away to try to save his skin, would make me feel sorry for her if she wasn’t such an asshole. She was the total package of addiction, narcissism (and the attendant compulsive attention whoring), deep rooted FOO issues, sexual problems, covert rage and arrested emotional development. I read some of her emails and would have sworn a 13 year old wrote them.

      I do sometimes chuckle that fw was so delusional that he thought she was, in his words, “great” and wanted to trade me in for something like that. The primary draw was she was a co-addict who made him feel better about his own addictions. Secondary was that she is a skank who likes cucking men and will only have drunk sex. He’s into that stuff sexually. Yuck. It seems most fws are a creepy mix of addictive personality and some sort of sexual perversion, often porn induced. The APs can have that shit. No self respecting chump is going to service some creep’s deviant tastes just to try to keep a relationship that sucks. Self respect is the key to getting free of them, imo.

      • You know ohffs, it is weird, I think I mentioned before that sex was pretty regular between us, up to the last few months. However, he did one time ask about anal, which I refused. I was pretty good about going along with his liking to do different stuff, and especially he liked to be in situations where we could get caught. We never did get caught, but there was I guess the risk he liked.

        I am guessing she didn’t turn anything down. I was never aware of him using porn, but it was before the internet, so who knows.

  • Sleuthy Sleuth…I was also left for the OW after 13 months of devastating pick me dancing. I’m 3.5 years out and the perspective gained has been tremendous.

    To support what CL already said, it is important to know that him leaving was a major WIN for you. What did you lose? A cheater, liar, deceiving, low-value, morally ambiguous man-baby. The OW did not gain some major prize in your cheating ex.

    It’s become so clear to me that my ex found someone with a weak moral compass and a wishy-washy value system; someone like himself. I couldn’t be further from that.

    Make a list of your ex’s shittyness (even just five major things) and then ask yourself if you would date a man with these characteristics if you knew about them upon meeting him. I know that I would never, ever date such a man, and I would be a winner for losing out on that. Yet, the OW has chosen that, knowing what he’s capable of doing, and delusional enough to think that he was only acting that way situationally and she’ll be immune from that. Insanity!

    I think you ask an interesting question, if I understood it correctly, in how do you know that dating someone who was once a chump might not be dysfunctional himself. It’s true that we have all suffered varying degrees of trauma ourselves that has required tremendous healing, which means that we may be “dysfunctional” for someone else if we jump into dating too soon. So, observe and listen carefully and use your common sense. I have met a couple of men that I have ended up saying that I think they are in this too soon and so pursuing anything with them is not for me. If they care to hear my advice, I give it. Otherwise, I wish them well on their journey.

    We are all mighty in some very similar ways and in some very different way based on our circumstances. Those of us who stayed and were abandoned took our vows seriously right until the bitter end. No doubt we have learned that it wasn’t good for us to do thaecause it prolonged abuse. We won’t do that again, but boy are we loyal and tenacious – very powerful traits when applied wisely.

    So am I a loser? (1) Well, I lost a man who is not solid in who he is and changes with whomever he is with. (2) I lost a man who does not take initiative in life (other than to cheat) and typically does the minimum. (3) I lost a man who is conflict avoidant, who rarely says what he means or wants and then stews in resentment. (4) I lost a man who didn’t remain loyal to vows that he made in a sacramental marriage before God. (5) I lost a man who spent several years secretly watching porn, gambling online poker and having an affair with a few different women.

    Wow! Thank God I’m such a loser.

  • Abandonment in my case was nothing other than punishment.
    In Lundy Bancroft’s “Why does he do that?” page 224-225, there is the following: “My clients sometimes leave a woman to punish her. Women in this position can experience the abuser’s departure as one final slap in the face […] that leaves her feeling even more humiliated and unlovable. Therefore it does not help an abused woman when people say to her: “What are you upset about? You are lucky to be rid of him.” Anyone who wants to support an abused woman’s recovery and empowerment needs to have room for both her sadness and her outrage about being left and to understand that his exit was just one more way she was walked on.
    Abusers who take off often leave other damage in their wake […] Communities that want to support abused women need to recognize that the abuser can create difficulties that endure long beyond his departure.”
    I would think the same is valid when a man gets abandoned.

    • My mother asked herself “If a man like that doesn’t want me, what does that make me ?!” Free and clear of an abusive asshole, that’s what. I watched him emotionally abuse her (Mr. Stonewaller) and he attacked her a couple of times, in front of me and my older brother. It was gift to care for her during her cancer. I asked questions and was enlightened to what else happened, in terms of his cheating. I remember women calling the house and there was the Meadowlands Stadium incident.
      No book, blog and online community created by Tracy back in the day. All would have helped her reframe the abuse. She wouldn’t have wasted time and money on that therapist.

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