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The ‘Only One Who Really Cares’?

mindfuckDear Chump Lady,

I was married for 29 1/2 years to an amazing, dedicated, sweet husband. In 2009 we lost our teenage daughter after only a one month diagnosis of leukemia.

I did not realize my husband was in depression until our oldest daughter got married. He started to have moments of disconnect. By 2016 he was working nonstop. Really disconnected. He denied anything was wrong. He took a traveling, much higher position with the company and everything fell apart.

He refused to go get help, so I told him he needed to move out. He did for 10 months and we dated. A few months after moving out, I found a phone with 3 emotional affairs. One had been going on for 3 years and was not reciprocated. The other 2 were, but when the women tried to get physical, he ended them.

One was a friend and she was willing to talk to me out of her guilt of our decades of friendship and she validated he ended it as he said. The 3 years unreciprocated OW traveled and worked worked with him. I was able to talk to her and ask her why she had not turned him in. She stated she knew he was sick and was afraid he would kill himself, so she just allowed him to send messages and did not respond. However, when they were together in person it was business except 3 time he tried to kiss her after she complimented him. She did state that she had to confront him in person a few times on messages and asked him to stop and he would for a few months and then start back. He drove by her house. It was like a limerance obsession. She is not an attractive woman and now they have no relationship and he is embarrassed by all three.

He agreed to go to counseling and moved back home. I stuck by him as the unreciprocated affair was surely validation he was not mentally well. He started to be better and moved back home. We then bought a second home in a state where his corporate offices were. In 2019 with covid he started to withdrawl again. In June 2020 I found an email to a subordinate that he sent telling her he missed her and hoped to see her. Same as past emotional affairs. All messaging very juvenile. He went into a more intense therapy and was put through EMDR and meds and psych talk. He was told he has split personality due to PTSD from daughters death. Therapy made things much worse. He went on a business trip Nov. 2020 and never came home.

He asked for a divorce. Said he couldn’t live with what he did and when he looked at me all he saw was his failures. He finds it hard to be even around our adult children nor grandson. I did a quick divorce in 90 days because he was suicidal and cutting and said he couldn’t handle the pressure from family.

Found out that week he asked, he went on a date with the subordinate I found the email from. He has diabetes 2, low testosterone, low self-esteem and ED. It has now been 6 months since he left and he see’s the OW every other weekend and said he is more depressed and breaks down several times a day.

I have no idea who this man is and after staying by him through the affairs and trying to help him I find it hard to let go as I would not stop caring for him if he had cancer. I keep being told he made his choices and he didn’t choose me, but he doesn’t seem to know what he is doing. He told me he was going to go back in to therapy.

Do I just move on? He wants to be friends, but he has lied, gaslighted and manipulated me for years to protect himself from what he was doing . He has no friends. He said that what is hard about me is that I am the only one that cares and asks how he is and he just wants to not think about it. He also says he doesn’t want to let go because I am the only one that truly cares. The OW who he is seeing he is not talking with her on past or anything other then surface level. He seems to just be putting himself in escape relationships to not deal with his pain and family. I know if I let go I can’t go back, but my love and empathy wants to be there for him.

Signed

Torn between love and insanity

Dear Torn,

Where’s your PTSD? Not only did you suffer the loss of the child — same loss he had — you had the mountain of shit piled on your life — abandonment, a mentally unstable husband, who cheats on you, divorce.

The first loss was a tragedy. Those other losses were inflicted on you by a selfish, escapist man.

How are you not buckling under the weight of all of this, not out there propositioning coworkers?

I find it interesting, given his delicate mental state, that he has the executive functioning to:

  • Get a job promotion
  • Conduct three years of “emotional affairs” and conceal it
  • Buy a second home and do complicated real estate things
  • Go on dates

I thought depression made a person lethargic and unmotivated. And yet he has the strength to do OW drive bys and go on long business trips.

Anyway, I’m not a shrink. I’m a skeptic with a blog. I find your husband’s distress very convenient when it comes to accountability. An “amazing, dedicated, sweet husband” would be holding YOU up after a devastating tragedy. Not chasing tail.

I found a phone with 3 emotional affairs. One had been going on for 3 years and was not reciprocated. The other 2 were, but when the women tried to get physical, he ended them.

You don’t know that. You have self-reporting from a cheater. Two were reciprocated? Oh, but your husband (the guy who went looking for the attention?) ended them? At the precise moment they got physical? A guy who kisses his coworker? That guy?

One was a friend and she was willing to talk to me out of her guilt of our decades of friendship and she validated he ended it as he said.

That’s convenient. This is one of the reciprocated “emotional affairs”? You believe she wanted to get physical and he didn’t? I think you’re kidding yourself that a woman who would fuck your husband would be an unvarnished truth teller.

I stuck by him as the unreciprocated affair was surely validation he was not mentally well.

Is it inconceivable to you that he had an affair because he wanted an affair(s)?

Said he couldn’t live with what he did and when he looked at me all he saw was his failures.

Apparently he can live with it, because shortly thereafter he’s out dating.

I did a quick divorce in 90 days because he was suicidal and cutting and said he couldn’t handle the pressure from family.

Isn’t it funny how he’s only suicidal when women don’t give him what he wants? Don’t end our unconsummated affair, Coworker! Or I shall kill myself! If you don’t give me this divorce, Torn, so I can date a subordinate! I will REALLY cut myself the next time!

Oh the poor man. No one can possibly feel violated or wronged, he’s in such crisis.

He has diabetes 2, low testosterone, low self-esteem and ED.

Hope the young subordinate enjoys a flaccid dick AND mindfuckery. He’s the total package.

It has now been 6 months since he left and he see’s the OW every other weekend and said he is more depressed and breaks down several times a day.

This is more information than you should have. NO CONTACT. His breakdowns aren’t your problem. Or his blood sugar. Or his boners. He fired you from the job of caring.

after staying by him through the affairs and trying to help him I find it hard to let go as I would not stop caring for him if he had cancer.

Mental illness is not making him reject you for other women. HE is doing that of his full volition. I know that’s painful, but these are choices. Many people suffer from mental illness. Depression doesn’t manifest itself as dating. This isn’t cancer, this is manipulative, shitty character.  Please stop caring about him and start caring about YOU. You’ve had it 100 times worse than Mr. Sadz.

Do I just move on?

Yes.

He wants to be friends

Fuck that shit.

He said that what is hard about me is that I am the only one that cares and asks how he is and he just wants to not think about it.

Oh the poor sausage. Mindfuck is firmly set at the self pity channel. You’re the “only one who cares” is your cue to keep performing the pick me dance. OW just fucks and flatters him, but you, YOU CARE! You’re still special! He is a poor, sad man who cannot be burdened by difficult thoughts.

Stop doing the emotional labor for this creep. Stop caring! He doesn’t give two shits about you. He Does. Not. Want. To. Think. About. It.

“It” being cheating and abandoning you. But he will happily take your care and concerns.

The OW who he is seeing he is not talking with her on past or anything other than surface level.

Whoa! What happened to his suicidal ideation? Did it go on holiday? Does he just tuck it into his back pocket while dining out?

I know if I let go I can’t go back, but my love and empathy wants to be there for him.

Tell your love and empathy to stop being a chump.

You be there for him. He’ll be out on a date.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Have love and empathy for yourself, Torn, You need to be kind to yourself, you’ve been through very difficult things. Sorry for you losses.

      • Torn,

        I’m suddenly struck by this sentence of yours:

        *”I know if I let go I can’t go back, but my love and empathy wants to be there for him.”*

        Oh Torn.

        What is there to hang onto? He’s gone.

        And no matter what you do, no matter how much you cling to him hoping for a better ending or a time machine – there is no going back.

        It’s a damn hard lesson to learn. But please learn from me and the many many others who have had to accept this painful lesson –

        the sooner you let go of what isn’t even there or real, (and which does not serve YOU or your ex)

        the sooner your authentic real life will begin.

        And the sooner you can try to heal your very sore heart.

        You cannot go back. None of us can. So Go forward.

  • My bullshit detector went of the scale at: he has an split personality due to trauma.
    There is no such thing as a split personality.

    • You’re absolutely correct. There’s no “split personality” diagnosis. Dissociative identity disorder (previously called multiple personality disorder) is an actual mental condition but it’s exceedingly rare (no more than 2% of the population) and is typically the result of years of ongoing, severe physical and sexual abuse starting in early childhood.

      • I think there are a lot of therapists out there who don’t really know how to deal with profoundly dishonest clients and this means they often end up unintentionally validating people who are gaslighting/ abusing their partners.
        On the other hand, there’s no way of knowing if the therapist really said it unless or if it’s something he’s come up with himself.

        • I made in an error in what it was called. Also therapy focused on the death of our daughter as they said that origonated his issues and until they dealt with that they couldn’t address the EA. I talked to 2 of the 3 women. I knew them personally for decades. Things I asked him i asked them to see if stories were the same.

          • Torn, that’s an awful lot of marriage police, right there.

            Turn in your badge. There’s nothing left to work with here, and I think that deep down, you know it.

            Good therapy for YOU would help you understand why you can’t let go, and why you’re clinging to someone whose every action tells you that he doe he doesn’t love you, and wants out of the marriage.

            Don’t pay so much attention to what he says. Pay close attention to what he does.

            I’ve just finished honours in psychology, and this man isn’t mentally unwell, as far as I can see. But he does show signs of emotionally unstable personality disorder.

            I am so sorry for your loss, and the grief that you seem to have been carrying alone. I am so sorry your husband has abandoned you to your grief.

            You deserve better than this.

            • I totally agree. He doe not love me at all and may never have. I am just realizing that. I believe covert narcissism with Borderline Personality Disorder.

      • There is a lot of focus on my misstatement on the disorder. I obviously got it wrong. He was diagnosed. I apparantly don’t remember it correctly

        • I’m sorry if my comment came of wrong. It was not a meant as criticism towards you but towards him. He was either bullshitting you or the therapist was lousy.
          In other case not your fault

        • Do you mean he *said* he was diagnosed with some kind of mental illness, or you heard it from the doctor directly?
          If it’s the former, I wouldn’t trust it. You said he went to therapy a few times. That’s not enough time for a responsible, ethical therapist to be confident in making a diagnosis. He could have gone to a quack, but that also means the diagnosis is most likely not valid.

          Sorry, this guy is shady as hell and so is his story. He claims to have low testosterone, yet he’s been sexually harassing at least one woman. He claims to be mentally ill, but he functions fine other than that he cheats and preys on women. Mental illness is a global phenomenon. It affects every aspect of the person’s life. Unless there’s something you’re not telling us, his alleged illness appears to only affect how he treats women and his family. It just doesn’t add up. With cheaters, if things aren’t adding up, it’s because they are lying.

          • He went into therapy at different tomes. Would be treated and then quit and then go back. Not just a few visits. I went to some. Saw report and meds. The EA were juveniles like high school flirting. As it got worse he got worse. That is how I knew something was wrong. His self esteem was non existent. He said the flirting allowed him to get out of his head. He has had ED for years due to medical
            Issues and assume that is part of where the flirting cane from. Trying to bring back some masculinity as they wouldn’t know right? Never got to that in therapy. He has seen a eurologist who said it is in his head and depression and once he deals with it then the ED should life

            • Thankyou for clarifying. Depression could certainly cause ED and I could understand him using flirting to regain a sense of his masculinity, if he was single. Since he wasn’t, there’s a character defect involved.

              At any rate, this skein untangling doesn’t help you to let go. Focus on your own mental health and recovery from both a terrible tragedy, then a betrayal. You are not responsible for his problems and you can’t fix them anyway.

              I’ve been through this runaround of a cheater going to therapy, making no progress, stopping therapy, starting up again, on and on. I want him to change for the sake of our kids, but I’ve washed my hands of any involvement. They have to adult for themselves, or if they decide not to, they must suffer the consequences without expecting a rescue from the person they chumped.

              • I completely agree. He is no longer who I loved and is a shell of who I knew. I gave it 150% and he rejected my help. It is on him to help himself.

            • I feel for you. You’ve tried to help your husband in the wake of a terrible loss and trauma. And I can see why you thought all of this behavior could be fixed, somehow, with mental health treatment.

              But none of that takes into account what happens to YOU when your husband chooses to unplug from your marriage to boost his self-esteem. I was married for a long time to a man who abused alcohol and other substances. I know he has an addiction problem as well as physical issues. But that doesn’t give him a free pass to use me and my paycheck to make his retirement easier, while he expends his energy on his drinking buddies and wannabe girl friends at the bar.

              At some point, recovering becomes your husband’s problem. You should have, I think, some minimal expectation that a man who can hold a job should also be able to address his problems without stalking other women and having juvenile affairs. And let me say that I don’t think an emotional affair is all that much better than a physical one. He’s not invested in the marriage, other than for what he gets out of it. You deserve better.

              • Yes, any escape from a marriage emotional or physical is a issue. I totally agree. The letter was about helping or letting go. Not saving a marriage. I divorced him. I realize he is the only one now who can save myself and if he doesnt it is not on me

              • Torn, you’re splitting hairs on these responses. You’re saying you don’t want to save your marriage, okay. You’re still toking on the hopium pipe. You still want a relationship with him. You’re conflicted about that. You still aren’t sure if you should give up the job of managing his life and know WAY TOO MUCH detail about what he’s up to, and with whom.

                You’re deep, deep into his skein.

                This is what CN is telling you — drop it. Get mad. It’s OKAY to be mad and not be compassionate about Him for second longer. It’s okay to put yourself first. To care about YOU more than him.

                You’ve been caring more about him than you for a long time, you’re habituated to it. Think of how glorious it would be to have all that energy for yourself. To have true peace.

                Sounds like you’ve been in chaos, crisis mode for a long time. That’s a lot of grief. And he’s a project you could throw yourself at. It must be a terrible wall of pain to feel powerless in the face of your daughter’s illness and death and your husband’s fuckupedness. But you CANNOT fix him.

                You gave him love and support and children and history and he shat on those gifts. Please don’t give him any more mental real estate.

              • CL- you’re right!! I am MAD. I am done with the lies and manipulation and you are right also he put me through all this while I also was grieving and then left me in the middle of a pandemic before the holidays. All while wining and dining someone else. He not only doesnt love me he has no existing concern for me. So I need to not have concern for him. This blog has been everything for clarification as I knew it would

            • My ex supposedly had ED too which made it a lonely marriage for me…as I was never one to make light of a medical condition because he rarely was ever in the mood.

              He also supposedly had *only* emotional affairs, and loved only me…when I discovered weird phone records.

              He was also depressed and suicidal …especially when I would think of leaving. Newsflash – he’s still alive – it was a manipulation tactic.

              Im 7 years out and it was a terrible existence – for me!!!

              Turns out he was screwing prostitutes, coworkers (the ones he was having only emotional affairs with) and was syphoning marital money to support his inklings.

              Your husband has demonstrated he is deceptive and I’d guess you are probably not aware of the full depth of his lies.

              Save yourself and go no contact. Get away. If you’re divorced and your children are adults, there is NO reason to communicate with him. (Other than mindfuckery.)

              It’s so much better on the other side! You got this!

              • You’re right and I am convinced he has had more relations then he admitted to. I was rejected for years while he was showing interest in others. Im an attractive woman. He could have let me go and not messed with my head to make it easier to move on if he wasn’t interested anymore. It was cruel what he did.

      • It’s also very controversial. The hypothesized separated memories where debunked in research. It seems to me that it was very popularized in the 80s and 90s in the US and clinicians didn’t want to let go of this, so they sort of redefined it to give it some credit but outside the US i think it’s not taken very seriously and classified differently.

    • I think this guy uses “split personality” as a more sympathetic term for leading a double life, cheating on Torn, and being a FW.

      • Again, I used the wrong term ( I honestly cant remember what the actual name was apparantly) and he only repeated what was told, but not as excuse. He doesnt want to believe it. His meds dr told him that and his talk dr said disregard it.

      • We went to therapy more than once. He also did emdr. He is severely depressed and has some severe mental disorder ( there is no doubt)

      • FACTS: This man is very dishonest, utterly self absorbed (it’s all about HIM and how HE feels and nothing about her pain)

        and at best, he is a weakling. **This poor woman has got nothing to work with here. **

        Nowhere in her letter does she seem curious about whether HER needs are being met (they’re not) and if HER needs will EVER be met (they won’t). There’s nothing in this FOR HER.

        It’s more like she wants to prove something about loyalty and commitment that simply isn’t applicable here.

        It’s like going from being a victim of a sad sausage cheater, to consenting/volunteering for more abuse.

        I’m very sorry about their MUTUAL PARENTAL loss, which I’ve witnessed in a close friend. She and her husband lost their son suddenly and they pulled together thru that nightmare.

        They used to have marital issues (in the normal range, I mean) but their son’s death pushed them together and I thank God for that.

        So, enough about this man/boy’s pain and depression. This woman needs to reclaim HER Life and my instincts say her late daughter would want her to find happiness and joy in HER life.

        As for the man/boy husband, please stay NO CONTACT and save yourself!

        maybe a real consequence will wake him up — but he is NOT your problem.

        Just…ugh

        • It takes a strong person to subject themselves and their life to this evaluation with people that do not have all the intricate details. I am that strong person, obviously. The letter is reclaiming my life. Dont worry about me! I have a cape and I know my super powers

          • Torn,

            Sorry if I offended – perhaps I recognize my own issues in your situation. But please, life is short.

            Live your best life and go no contact. I don’t think you can try to rescue him AND be free.

            Your ex says he can’t face you and uses his failures as a reason for more failures. God forbid HE change or get help because…cake/effort.

            I do get where you’re coming from. My ex of 35 years now has cancer. Not his fault, and he always took good care of himself.

            But he’s also with OW. So as hard as it is, caring for him is NOT my job – because

            1) he was a bastard to me AND we divorced

            AND 2) he fired me from that job. I’ve been replaced.

            I seriously doubt my kids would have any respect for me if I tried to rescue him. They are watching our reactions more than we realize.

            We must model what moving on and living our best life looks like.

            All of our children will face their own betrayals, losses or setbacks someday (yours have already lost a sibling).

            If they only have your ex as a role model or see you as a victim, they’ll flounder.

            Your ex husband is your ex for a reason.

            Be happy – for your sake and theirs.

            • I totally agree!! I want my children to continue to see the strength and resilience in me that I have shown. They are watching!!! Great insight

    • Right. Cheater is feeding Torn a load of BS, knowing full well Torn is not privy to his therapy. Torn needs to go no contact and face the reality she had nothing but a selfish cheating prick of a husband that had the audacity to use his child’s death for an excuse. I think Torn needs to get herself into therapy and really delve into why she is so willing to make excuses for this cheater. Was cheater actually the sweet, dedicated husband she claims or was it a forced narrative or fantasy she subconsciously created to overlook or dismiss red flags that were there all along?

      • Just read Torn’s posts on cheater’s diagnosis. Still does not excuse his cheating and total disrespect of Torn.

      • I think their were red flags all along on insecurities and covert narcissist and BPD. I think the death brought it a whole new level. I think 20 years he was a dedicated spouse. The death changed him. He is and has always been full of self doubt. Doing mouth to mouth trying to save your childs life is traumatic. I was there doing cpr as well. He did the mouth to mouth and she dies, so yes. He does get some slack from
        Me. It was and is a horrific thing to deal with and we are lucky we both arent locked up in a room.

        • Dear Torn,
          So many hugs for you – this is a horrific experience and huge trauma which no doubt has affected you both. I’m so sorry for your loss.

          But Torn, not only have you gone through just as much trauma as your ex, you have stayed the course while your ex has spun into the abyss of his own making and hurt you even more in doing so. You have tried to remain true and loyal while your ex has done the complete opposite.

          It is clear you went through the unimaginable together and regardless of whatever mental illness it is (or not), I’m worried for you that you are stuck in skein untangling. He is playing the poor me card / generating empathy kibbles however it will drag you under. My cheater was suicidal too – the reasoning you give sounds scarily similar my own particular brand of willful blindness to every red flag. Your ex is acting more like a master manipulator than anything. Chump Lady has given you a MasterClass in helping you to diagnose your hopium addiction and spackling. Save yourself Torn. Absorb this 2 x 4 of truth for the life raft it is. You have been strong before but you need to be even stronger now. Go no contact and see how he reacts. Guaranteed you’ll see the rage channel. Wishing you the best.

      • Agree! I also think using our childs death in made up stories and excuses was manipulation to give it all validity and that is horrible on a whole new level. It was what made me start waking up to the lies

  • I do think someone who cuts themselves is depressed. I also think he’s probably got some sort of mental issues. I do agree, however, with Chump Lady that he had the wherewithal to get a promotion and buy a house etc. I also think you’re not looking after yourself because you are worrying so much about him. I just watch the BBC and it’s about aging and health. One of the major factors in a long life is having a good support system. It sounds like you have children and grandchildren that are important in your day-to-day life. Let go of him and turn to the people who support you. So far it does not sound like he’s interested in fixing himself. He’s hanging onto a very slippery liferaft of a younger woman that he can manage because she is his subordinate. That’s an accident/screwup waiting to happen. If he’s not getting real intense therapy it’s because he doesn’t want anything other than what he’s got. A psychologist told me once that depression is the only illness that can actually fix itself in some cases simply by getting up and doing something about it. Obviously he has not had that memo yet.

    • This is great advice LetGo. I’d add something that was hard for me, stop making any effort to include him in family events.

      I did everything in my relationship, and even after separation I still did chumpy things like call him to tell him about school/family events, and then call again to remind him to attend, or remind him to buy/bring gifts.

      This blog helped me realize my folly. He was on the school emails. He got the texts from family members. He knew when people’s birthdays are.

      He. Just. Doesn’t. Care. If he did he would show up. When I stopped adulting for him, it became painfully clear that he wasn’t willing to put in any effort.

    • I took care of the purchase of the house, paid all bill, cooking, cleaning and packing for business trips. He got the promotion before going into severe depression and he is not handling the job well
      Now. I do agree that I have stuck in to long

      • I do agree with the other posters that if he starts doing suicidal behaviors you need to call 911. Don’t let that be the driving issue in your every day life but it should be something to do if/when he alludes to it. You can’t fix someone who does not want to fix himself. That’s the real issue. We just do not have the power to change another human being. It sounds like you’ve been a loving supportive wife until he threw you away. You are worth much more than that.

      • Your X may indeed be suffering from some sort of psychological/emotional distress, but that distress does not mean he is not responsible for his behavior. Unfortunately, many people seem to believe that their conduct can be excused by claiming unresolved mental health issues. Any good mental health provider will tell you to the sickness should be separated from the action.

        Being depressed, or manic or OCD or having a personality disorder is a diagnosis NOT an excuse!

      • Torn, what a fine woman you are. Please direct some of your attention, healing, energy, compassion and love towards yourself. Please honor your daughter’s memory by loving yourself enough to save yourself. You are worth it.

    • Letgo, I agree there are mental health issues here. But I wish I had had CL’s letter when my 1st H was clinically and seriously depressed. I too stuck by for years … young kids, it’s an illness, I’m committed etc. Then after divorce, I never stopped worrying as we had shared custody…..I was always worried.
      The treatment I endured during that marriage did so much damage to me. I made allowances/ excuses because he wasn’t well. I attributed the enormous off and on horrible devaluing of me to his illness rather than a choice. And then later, I still needed to be involved as my kids were there- I’m the mom and needed to know he was functional ( he wasn’t always). I still had to pick up the slack ….I could go on. I still had to care about his well-being and it was an absolutely thankless job. I know in my case if I had gone no contact, I believe it would’ve meant I was being an irresponsible parent. I couldn’t get full custody.
      Torn,
      If you have no reason to be in communication with him- go NC 150%.
      When you are in it, it’s hard to see it.
      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      • My husband was suffering from depression etc… for most of our marriage and I thought that was the reason that I was being devalued and ignored. Turns out that it was also his excuse for f*king other people as well. Strangely I also had crisis and I didn’t turn into a stonewalling, self pitying liar and cheater. Weird that?

    • As someone who does suffer from depression, the achieving things is a hard one. On the surface I function rather well. I don’t stop. I have goals. I’m tenacious. However I’ve also been a cutter and to this day still struggle with an eating disorder, even though I’m on an AD. With that said, OP offered all her support and he didn’t want it. Now it is his problem to fix.

      I strongly disagree with what that psychologist said , that’s a real misinterpretation of depression and I hope they’re not telling their depressed clients that. Yes, becoming passive makes it worse. But for many people who suffer from depression this is an ongoing struggle on and off for life even when you’re trying your hardest.

      • The psychologist said “in some cases”. There are depressions that are so entrenched the sufferers need intervention, medication and intense therapy. I have two friends who have battled this for most of their lives and they tell me it is like a black hole waiting to swallow them up. In my husbands family is a strain of melancholia. Each of them gets on with things. They don’t cheat. They manage by recognizing it and actively work to overcome it. In cases more severe this would not work.

        • This is true, but everyone does not handle things the same. He has multiple things going on. Again, no one is debating he needs professional help including me

  • Torn, the next time your husband mentions suicidal ideation or self harm in a phone call, text message, social media, or email, immediately call 911 and report it. If he’s actually a danger to himself or other people, then he will get the care that he needs.

      • Yes. I had a former boyfriend try this shit on me, and I immediately drove him to the hospital for an evaluation. The look on his face was priceless. “I can’t afford it!”, he said. “I’ll pay for it.”, I said. His face crumpled and he refused to go in, so I took him to the airport (he had a flight the next day), and left him there. His problem, not mine.

        I recognize that there are people with true mental health issues, and that depression, unchecked, can kill. I know this. I also know that manipulation is right in the cheater’s playbook, and this one is, I believe, playing Torn like a Stradivarius. IF he truly has depression, it can be treated, but HE must be the one to seek it out, not Torn.

        Torn, you cannot control him. But he is doing all he can to control YOU. He wants all the neato flutteries of “new”, but also wants the stability you provide. Is this acceptable to you? That is the ultimate question.

        • My ex wife’s former step father use to play the suicide card. Except we all absolutely hated him after years of abuse. When social services got my ex wife’s mothers out off the home and away from him he sent us photos of the pills and how he was going to kill himself. Only thing he never considered was the hatred we had for him and he was simply told “good”. Years later now and he is still walking around sadly.

      • My daughter has a roommate who was doing this past winter – suicide threats and cutting. My daughter and her other roommate took the threats very seriously especially after seeing the gash in roommate’s leg. My daughter insisted on taking the roommate to the ER. Once there, roommate panicked and refused to be admitted or to speak with anyone, they released her after a couple of hours- prob due to Covid issues- the cutting and suicide threats stopped immediately. They also implored her to get help – roommate previously saw a therapist that she said she liked and trusted; she didn’t do that either. It turns out she was trying to manipulate a young man she was involved with who had broken up with her.

        • I’ve sadly known of about 7 people in our community/known from childhood who killed themselves and not one of them told anyone they were depressed. Last family friend went to my sisters house and had Sunday lunch and seemed perfectly normal as usual, went home that evening and hung himself. He spent the day with my brother in law who was his childhood best friend and nobody seen it coming.

    • Yes, call his bluff or get him immediate help. Either way, it’s a good move. As it were, threatening suicide is a major tool in a disordered persons toolbox to keep someone under their thumb. I’ve seen it several times, and yet not one of the threateners I’ve know has ever actually tried to kill themselves. Curious.

      • I agree. While dude may be depressed, millions of people are. Most do not use depression/suicidal statements to control others. X did this during reconciliation; I took him for evaluation, then he refused to take the meds.
        Torn, you are truly torn because you are allowing this. It’s only been 6 months; it takes a long while to get over a 29.5 yrs union. Lots of history together, but it is OVER! If you continue babying him, your mental health may deteriorate. Detach from this man because it seems he’s continuing to hurt you.
        All the other crap in the letter sounds like an overly dramatic screenplay. Who wants to be sucked into messy junk with an ex??
        I totally agree with CL. This guy is a giant liar and loser. OW drive-bys, haha!

    • No matter how you slice it, whether someone is threatening suicide to manipulate others or in earnest, the individual has serious problems and needs help.

      I learned Saturday that my mother died. She went to the hospital after her 2nd COVID vaccine and wasn’t feeling well. She was there a couple of days and scheduled to be released. The nurse found her dead in the shower. They could not revive her.
      The autopsy was inconclusive.

      The way I see it my mother committed suicide on the installment plan. A lifelong alcoholic and smoker, she died just shy of her 82nd birthday. She left a long path of burned bridges and scorched earth. Our relationship was one, although she would have me believe I was the only person she had problems with and she got along great with literally everyone else. Have you heard anything like this from a cheater? My mother was a cheater and never got into recovery, but blamed me for our family being one big fake happy compound fracture. (I’ve been in recovery and therapy for 36 years and counting).

      When I last spoke to her years ago, I told her I thought she needed help. I told her if she wanted help I would be there, otherwise I needed to stay away. She never contacted me for help. Twice she wanted me to “let it go”, “quit bringing up the past”, and demanded I forgive her, though nothing had changed and being in a relationship with her meant beionf on board with lying down in front of a freight train.

      I married my mother. #facepalm.
      Though I tried very very hard to break patterns and avoid it.

      My uncle wrote me a card to tell me she had died last March. He had not spoken to her in over ten years. He had gotten hit by the freight train too many times too. I was surprised because he is a lot like her and for them to be estranged too is really saying something.

      Like with the X, my relationship with her could not have been any different.
      I had to choose between life and those relationships. I had enough and so I am at peace with this finality. I showed up and was there for making the relationships a great place to be, but I am done being a punching bag.

      I used my stubbornness to get well. Cheaters are seriously crafty and resourceful people. If they’re not using those skills to become better people, to be safe and trustworthy, RUN. They’ll just pull you into the quicksand which is on top of a tar pit.

      I am 57 years old. I got the news about my mother on Saturday. I kid you not I had a tangible, noticeable feeling of lightness ever since.

      Sometimes the only response to another person’s conduct is save yourself.

      That’s what I did and it’s sad and it also feels great. I am obligated to model this to my daughter. It’s my ultimate gift to her.

      • Velvet, I am so sorry. I know you have been in mediation with your ex, and now to find out your mother died. Don’t know your religious background but I am praying for God to extend a sheltering wing over you as you navigate all this. It is a lot.

      • Velvet, I’m very sorry about the passing of your mother, especially since she was never able to change her behavior or make amends to you. Your wisdom in making space between you while still keeping a door open to help her is inspiring.

        Your daughter is very lucky.

      • Very sorry for your loss and the inabilty for your mother to see the good in her life so your relationship could be saved. What a tragedy people can make of their lives when they have loved ones that are worth the fight

      • Velvet,

        I’m sorry you had a mom like that but am glad you feel a certain lightness of being now that she’s dead.

        Amen to self-preservation and stubbornness!

      • Velvet, you described my mother. Except she is not an alcoholic. She uses God as her weapon, when all else fails. She is 92 yrs old and still mean as a snake. As horrible as it sounds, my siblings and I , wait for the relief of her passing. She loves to send letters mixed with gaslighting, cruelty and saying she is praying for us. No wonder our picker was broken.

  • I seriously could of written a big portion of this.

    I was his only real family. No one loved him like I did.

    He could not try to make it work after the affair, because it was just to hard to see the pain he caused. (Was not too hard for him to keep using me.)

    4 years later, meh.

    Get some therapy for you. Specifically look into co-dependecy issues. The need to be needed is a powerful addiction. Please do this before you start dating again. The world is full of sad sausage looking for a caring bun.

    Hugs, I know it is hard to imagine, but there is a another side.

        • My heart goes out to you Torn, you have been through so much pain. Time to turn your attention to you and focus on your needs. If you are able, find a good trauma therapist to help you process and unpack the last 12 years (I found mine at the local YWCA).
          Take care (((hugs)))

    • “No one loves me like you do” = “Nobody is as chumpy as you were.”

      Mine whined; “But if I can’t manage to keep you, how can I expect to make it work with anyone?”

      UBT; “How am I going to find somebody else chumpy enough to put up with me?”

      Yeah, not our problem. Go looking for chumps on Tinder and swipe until you get chronic carpal tunnel syndrome, dickheads.

  • Also, there wasn’t an “unreciprocated affair”, he was stalking and sexually harassing that poor woman. No amount of mental illness excuses that. He should have lost his job for that, and also for having an affair with a subordinate. He’s not remotely a good person. He manipulates and intimidates women into doing his bidding.

    Drop him like a rock. You can’t help him, and he doesn’t care about you. I’m so sorry.

      • Unless you’re with him 24/7 you don’t know how much is true and how much he’s gaslighting and lying to you. Please take care with assessing him. He’s still showing a lot of agency in his life – not curled up in the fetal position in bed all day.

    • Right!? It sure sounded like stalking. It’s an arrestable offense and predatorial action. Disentangle from that guy right away!

    • “Also, there wasn’t an “unreciprocated affair”, he was stalking and sexually harassing that poor woman. No amount of mental illness excuses that. He should have lost his job for that, and also for having an affair with a subordinate. He’s not remotely a good person. He manipulates and intimidates women into doing his bidding.”

      Torn, think of your oldest daughter who has this kind of FW for a father. See, I am an adult daughter who has this kind of FW for a father.

      It is horrifying to me to think of my FW father sexually harassing women at work, stalking women, having affairs with subordinates, and manipulating and intimidating women. What formerchumpnowbride wrote above is what your ex-FW is doing and what I’ve learned my own FWF was doing and it disgusts me.

      These men should not be given a free pass because of what they experienced. I am so, so, so terribly sorry for the loss of your daughter. I cannot even imagine the devastation to your heart and soul that must have caused you and everyone in your family. Your ex-husband was using your daughter’s death as an excuse for his bad behavior. Yuck.

      When men get money and power they show their true characters. My FWF was mentally checked-out from his family for a very long time. I don’t think he was always a cheater. But when he got more money and more power and started hob-nobbing with CEOs and famous people, any semblance of integrity, character, and morality went flying out the window. So THAT is who he truly is. He is a turd who used his own money and power to manipulate women, sexually harass them, perpetuate assault and violence and abuse against them, all the while *pretending* to be a man who loved his family. As a daughter, I find this enraging, insulting, offensive, disgusting, and embarrassing.

      Your ex-FW has modeled poor behavior standards for his daughter and family. He is gaslighting and manipulating you with his sadz. He made his bed, now he gets to lie in it, and that’s how consequences work. His life may implode. That is not your fault and not your problem. He wanted what he wanted, he took what he wanted, and he didn’t give one shit about you or your family. Let him go.

      • “Your ex-husband was using your daughter’s death as an excuse for his bad behavior.” This is absolutely what he is doing and it takes unforgivable to a whole other level. Do not allow him to put you through this sick and twisted mindfuckery.

        My ex used the sudden and tragic death of a parent, when ex was just a toddler. It got so out of control that even the kids saw through what he was doing.

        Heal yourself Torn, trust me your Ex likes things just the way they are; he has no intention of changing or helping himself. Most likely if you truly detach from him you will see that he was not the man you thought he was for most of your marriage – over time that has happened to many of us here.

        • I was raised in an abusive alcoholic household, lost my brother in a freak accident and have a child with a chronic illness. I never cheated, emotionally or physically.

          We all carry our own sack of rocks.

        • That is probably the hardest part. Who wants to admit it is all a lie? I choose to believe the deficits in his behavior were exhasberated by the tragedy. Either way we are here! Time to move forward

          • Dear Torn,

            I’m so sorry for your losses – your child and husband. Life can be unfair and make no sense sometimes.

            It was a bitter pill to swallow when I realised that I wasn’t loved, valued or even respected by my ex and I’d spent half a lifetime with him. I was focused on raising our child etc.
            It has taken me months to try to come to terms with the facts that secretly my husband planned to leave us for years. We were together 33 years. The level of deceit has been traumatic. They do not think like us. The do not have our best interest at heart.
            When my ex left I still had access to his phone account and could compare what he said to what he did – they didn’t reconcile at all. I was Lucky that I saw what he was up to or it would have been hard to believe it.
            My ex told me he was suicidal but his actions were continuing to contact and go out with many other women and ignore our child. It is hard to not trust them but just don’t. Their actions have already told us who they really are. They will continue to use us to get what THEY want.
            Unfortunately you will grieve and cry and be angry for the lies you’ve been spun. But at some stage along the line you will find you are relieved that you are free.
            From Australia, sending you a hug.

      • I agree. I do think that insecure men that are given power and now attract attention they never got can be abusers and I have told him he should have checked himself into in-treatment even if using vacation to do so. He refuses to look at himself as he said he cant live with himself if he does. He is running from his reality. I dont see any way it ends well.

        • Firstly, I am so sorry for your loss. That’s beyond heartbreaking and I am so sorry.

          Secondly, he isn’t running from his reality…he’s embracing exactly who and what he wants and chooses – sex with a young subordinate. You are running from your reality as a discarded spouse of little to no importance to a known liar and cheater.

          Contrary to what you desperately want and deserve – your ex simply doesn’t care about you and your shared family and history. He cares only about himself and has latched onto mental health issues to manipulate you into being a backup plan and absolve himself of responsibility for his sh*tty actions over the course of years. Ask me how I know! Mental health issues don’t suddenly make you a f*ckwit. F*ckwits and abusers were always sh*tty people who can (incidently) develop mental health issues that make keeping a “mask” on their terrible characters much harder according to my therapist.

          You have been through trauma and loss and adding more trauma and loss to that in accepting your ex is a liar and a cheat who probably was ALWAYS that way…is just heartbreaking. Most people here have had to accept the horrible reality that we built our lives with mirages. That’s part of what keeps us holding on- refusal to accept the truth. Please let go Torn. You are looking for any excuse to try to make sense of the choices he is making – choices that show what a sh*theel he is. Accept the truth and start your healing. I promise that it is worth it! In a few years you will look back and be embarrassed you hung on so long to such a horrible person…I certainly do.

          You can let go, you can let him sink in his own crapulance (because it’s exactly where he wants to be) and you can have a beautiful life! It just takes accepting that you have been played for a fool and refusing to keep being played for a fool. It’s one of the hardest things you will do but it will be worth it. You can let go! You can have a wonderful life! Best wishes and good luck.

          • The day I found the old phone I accepted I had been played for a fool. I will never be embarrassed for trying to help anyone, but I can recognize that they have to help themselves. I wrote to get brutal honesty and the ability to release myself from being his only support. I appreciate all the brutally honest comments. It is everything a felt and needed to hear

          • “who can (incidently) develop mental health issues that make keeping a “mask” on their terrible characters much harder according to my therapist.”

            You have spoken gold here. I don’t see how most of these folks can do what they do for years and not have it negatively impact their mental health. Just can’t happen, and how bad they get of course will depend on whether they get help (most don’t) or not.

      • You’re absolutely right. The sexual Harassment should have been the final straw and for him as well. He should have checked himself in to help himself at that point and made sure it never happened again. It is disturbing

  • Torn. You’re blaming yourself Too much.
    The way you describe yourself and devotion , you sound like a perfect wife. The reference model.

    I’ sorry you find yourself here at the reality channel. You’ve got a brilliant manipulator on the line playing on your sympathy. Be sympathetic with yourself and get away from whats making you sick.

    We’re born with a self preservation instinct so when he hurts bad enough he’ll do something about his problem. Watch actions and mute the words.

    Good luck and huggz

    • I am far from perfect, but I have been a devoted partner trying to help. I agree I have been manipulated . He is clear he sees no future for us. He barely sees a future for him. My only struggle is the double tragedy for our children and also the memorials we have put in place that we are obligated on for our lifetimes that we invested $200,000 to establish

      • You cannot save a grown adult from themselves. But, you can save your kids the heartache of watching their mother’s life unravel along with their fathers. Give them the gift of at least one sane and stable parent. Detach from this man.

        Also, your memorial is an administrative detail. Figure out how to run it with no interaction with him. It’s possible. It seems right now you’re looking for reasons to stay attached to this man, reasons why detachment won’t work. Try doing the opposite.

        • ^^^ This.

          Torn, if you read your responses to others’ posts you will see that you are continually defending your choice to continue to play nursemaid to your ex. You are no longer married to him. But even if you were, you have nothing to work with. It takes TWO people to make a marriage work, and your ex’s mental illness means you had nothing to work with. You cannot carry him, you cannot fix him, and he is perfectly content for you to continue in orbit around him because he likes the centrality. You seem to think his illness requires your care, but you might want to think about the fact that enabling him in his mental illness is no kindness, and may, because he is content to lean on you, prevent him from the motivation he needs to get the care he needs.

          • I have explained why. Not defending. Explaining. It has been a journey. Death of a child , 30 years and abandonment and cheating. I have the right to go though the process and I have. I am in a much better place at 5 months. I am aware of where ai am making errors or have. It is all on the weight of a life in your hands. Again, that has been the struggle letting go. No one wants to be responsible for a life. For better or worse. I meant it and now I am relieved of duty and am moving on

      • Hi Torn; I also had this reaction to the cheating; so focused on figuring HIM out, fixing him, and having compassion for his messed up background, etc. At some point, I realized I had forgotten about me, and my own self respect and self preservation. This site helped me realize I needed to provide (strong) boundaries for myself and others in my life. Not just for myself but my teenaged daughter who was witnessing what I was putting up with.
        You sound like such a fine and loving person who needs to stop putting up with this BS and look out for yourself. He is running you down when you least need it. He knows he can extract from this caring side of you, depleting you further.
        Look up “Untangling the Skein of Fuckedupness” on Chump Lady’s site, it describes this futile focus on figuring out their crap! It was a big help to me.
        So very sorry about the loss of your precious child.
        Love and prayers to you.

  • “Depression doesn’t manifest itself as dating.”

    Truth. I know from depression. I’ve been dealing with depression for years and it never made me cheat on my former husband.

    Torn, your ex-husband is simply a drama queen who enjoys all the attention. He is not (and probably never was) an “amazing, dedicated, sweet husband.” He’s is no longer your husband, and he was probably faking the good stuff if he is now the kind of person who would be so dedicated to cheating. A personal tragedy does not change your character. For your own sanity you need to cut this jerk loose.

  • Torn,
    You’re worried about him… who is worried about YOU?

    Please focus on YOU and get yourself free of him. By your own description he’s a liar, gaslighter, crazy maker, serial cheater, user. Any one of those would be enough to say goodbye. He’s certainly not friendship material. He’s not good for anything.

    Please take care of you and go no contact.

  • Torn, listen to CL. This guy isn’t mentally ill, he’s a first class manipulator and a predator. He has repeatedly stalked and sexually harassed a coworker after she told him to back off, which is evidence of sexually aggressive sociopathy, not depression, and that’s only the one case you know about. Take it for granted that there have been others. It most likely has nothing directly to do with your daughter’s death, either. “Split personality” isn’t even a diagnosis anymore (hasn’t been for a long time), so if that’s what he told you the diagnosis was, it’s a lie just like everything else. It could be that losing a child brought the disordered personality that *already existed* into a more overt state, but it certainly didn’t create it.

    As for suicide, cheaters commonly use fake suicidal ideation in order to manipulate. The cutting is a new one on me, but there is no crazy story they won’t tell to get sympathy and avoid consequences. The whining about how you’re the only one who cares is to get you on the hook to be plan b and save him when his degenerate lifestyle blows up in his face.

    Empathy and compassion are wonderful, but wasted on this creepy choad. Save it for people who are capable of reciprocating. Please get him completely out of your life. You don’t want to be there and get stuck paying his legal bills when he eventually gets arrested for stalking.

    • If I didn’t see the cut marks I would not be quick to believe the cutting stories. Experience has made me wary. I believed many horrifying things my ex told me that turned out to be lies.

      My ex used to text suicide threats to his OW when they pulled back.

      I wonder how invested Torn’s ex is in his children and grandchild? I would guess he not very. He is more concerned with his conquests.

      • Yeah, he’s claiming it’s just too painful to see the kids/grandkids, but odds are strong he doesn’t find them to be good kibble producers, thus has no interest.

        • If he’s saying it to her, “Poor me, I’m sick, no one can help me, i feel so alone, i can barely function, you’re the only one who gets me,” I guarantee he’s saying it to every other woman he’s seeing or grooming. It’s 100% a manipulation. Even if he IS actually “sick”, it’s manipulation.

  • Oh, and Torn, I’m so sorry about your daughter. What a terrible time you’ve had. It gets better when you get away from the disordered cheater.
    I can understand your urge to keep him around, as you naturally see him as a link to your daughter, but it’s harming you. You need to grieve both losses fully in order to feel better. Having his chaos and mindfuckery in your life is preventing you from doing so.

  • Torn

    He will tear down your remaining years if you keep being a source of free therapy for him. If that is ok with you then by all means be his crying towel. You won’t get any medals for it, and if he was fit and virile I suspect he would have lost your number by now.

    He does not have cancer, he is sad because his conquests were rejected and he has ED.

    Tell him you are not qualified as a counselor and he needs professional help. And that you have your own trauma to manage, you can’t do his and yours any longer.

    Every adult has their own journey to make through life. Make yours a happier one by making your own good choices.

  • Torn, you are the frog who has been boiled so slowly, your not aware of being cooked. Been there, done that. This is an elephant size pile of shit. A week, let alone a year after you go no contact, you will be shocked, at what you wrote. How you accepted such blatant lies and manipulation. You may feel right now, your situation is unique. It’s not, it’s part of the narcissist play book. You have PTSD from years of lies. You jump every time he pushes your buttons. Go no contact, no explanations to him necessary. Just stop and stay strong. Quickly, you will see the truth, feel better, feel happier. We have your back, he doesn’t.

  • I think Pete Davidson said something on SNL once along the lines of “being mentally ill is no excuse for being a dick”.

  • I’ve no idea how he manages to cheat with low testosterone if it is even all that low. I speak from personal experience as I was diagnosed with the testosterone levels of a 95 year old at 35 years old due to medical issue. Endocrinologist was amazed I was still able to even slightly function. I had zero sex drive. No motivation, ED, depression, anxiety attacks, weight gain, hot flushes, insomnia and chronic fatigue every single day for a couple of years. I’m now on testosterone injections and boy what a huge difference it makes. Anyway, I’d really really question exactly how low his levels are if he is running around trying to have relationships. If his testosterone levels are so low then is he not on treatment? Medically low levels lead to many health issues including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bone density loss and tons of other things.

    • He has to inject every couple days and it is still low. Diabetes and depression feed into it. He has Extreme ED. It is a fact. The EA were all on messaging. The one now is like a glorified friend. I believe she is using him as much as he uses her. He needs a friend and she does not have to do anything in return and he pays for dinners and buys her things

        • Oh, I sure do!!! He is messed up no doubt. The relationship is over . He is the father of my children so trying to release myself of helping has been the issue

      • Doesn’t make sense. I know about zero testosterone production. X was exactly like ChumpyNoLove says when he was too lazy or cheap to inject himself or use the Androgel. I have never heard of needing an injection so often in someone who still produces testosterone, which apparently your ex does as he’s a cheater.
        Super low T is a slovenly thing. It causes a lack of interest in practically everything. No care or appreciation of anything…women, food, personal appearance, life.
        It is also super- treatable. Some men don’t want to be bothered with the treatment. It’s easier to lie and manipulate.

          • Who ghosts their marriage over an emotional affair? No. One.

            Torn, I know you want to believe it with all your heart, but there is no way he hasn’t had some type of sexual contact with at least a few of these other women.

            Please think about it – nothing adds up. He says, “I have low T, depression, and ED” okay, then he shouldn’t be chasing tail at work, he shouldn’t even have the urge.

            So then you say – okay well he was chasing tail at work and TRYING to have an affair, but all these women turned him down. It was all unreciprocated. He was sad. He was mentally ill.

            But you KNOW it was reciprocated, because he left you and is spending his time with the OW. He likes her. She likes him. They are two adults. Were you sexual with him even though he had ED? Whatever you were doing with him, he is doing with her. People with ED or disabilities can have a sex life. They are two adults, and that is what two adults who like each other do.

            So you say, ok, but they TOLD me that nothing was reciprocated! But you are taking the word of people who lied and went behind your back for years. Lying liars lie to get out of consequences. How convenient for them that their answers just happen to avoid all embarrassment and consequences – every. single. time.

              • Sex isn’t only penetration. Plenty of people without fully functioning genitalia have sex lives. They can still cheat and betray their marriage vows.

              • I fully agree that he may have and certainly is now trying to. This is what I love about this site. The brutal honesty that puts us in check when our emotions cant

          • Torn, it seems that you are not ready to let go and are holding on to “it was only an emotional affair” and” he has a diagnosed mental illness” as your mental justification for staying connected to him. I have been there (My ex was diagnosed with PTSD and swore that affair #1 never got physical.) At the end of the day the sex is the least of it. Think about it this way: he abandoned you and your children, and instead of owning it he blames you. He hides behind his mental illness and health problems. He hides behind the death of your child- that is truly despicable. He takes no ownership over his problems or his behavior – he blames you. He was intimate with the details of your life and your relationship with these women, he shared your family secrets, no doubt he tore you down and badmouthed you to those women. This to me is at the very least as bad as a physical affair – in some ways the betrayal is worse. I will never get over my ex badmouthing me and lying about our life together in order to justify his cheating on me and abandoning our family.

            Losing our centrality in their life even if is negative and was mainly a figment of our imagination is a tough pill to swallow, accepting that the part of our life that involved our partner was built on a foundation of sand and was washed away in the tide is gut wrenching but it is the only way to move forward. Dwelling on what is worse a physical affair or an emotional affair is like spending time pondering how many angels can dance on the head of a pin – it is an exercise in futility. Facing the fact that our partner moved on without us is a cold hard fact that unfortunately all of us chumps have to accept, like it or not we were replaced without our knowledge or permission and the decision was made by our exes AND their affair partner(s). Putting down the spackle, stopping trying to untangle the skein, admitting that we did our best and they just didn’t care and truly embracing the fact that we can stand alone and we do deserve better is harder than hell but dear God it is worth it. I hope all of the insight in from CL and CN helps you to accept the truth and get the help you need to move forward and find your way to a path of calm and peace.

            • ” no doubt he tore you down and badmouthed you to those women. This to me is at the very least as bad as a physical affair ”

              To me that was the hardest part to recover from That he opened up our sacred marriage to the town whore, and likely to more than one; until he found the whore he would marry. I would have never exposed him to anyone like that. In fact I can talk about stuff on here, but in real life; i am still reluctant to bash him much. Simply because he is my sons dad.

              How can these folks do this to us? To me is is simply stated by CL and others; they never really bonded to us the same way we bonded to them, if they did at all it was only on the surface. And that of course carried it’s own pain and sense of lost years.

        • Just saying from an outsiders point of view that if a man is on treatment and injecting every other day (probably testosterone enanthate split into two smaller injections weekly) if it’s not raising your testosterone levels then clearly a doctor would increase the dosage? I started on injections two years ago and results came back still low so my endocrinologist increased the dose. Makes no sense for it to not be increased until stable and suitable levels are achieved.

          You’re 100% right about the affects of low testosterone. I remember sitting in work at lunchtime and barely able to stay awake I was so drained of energy. The insomnia was crippling. I was having hot flashes lol. Could eat one meal a day and never lost one single pound of weight. Other guys my age were out playing sports, going to the gym and having a life and I was stuck with this awful brain fog and seriously thought I had cancer before my blood work came back.

  • Torn,

    What about your life? Are you going to throw it away on a man who is indifferent to your pain and suffering?

    Your husband unplugged from your marriage. You did the right thing to see that he got mental health treatment, but it’s clear that he’s not only mentally unbalanced, he’s also selfish and unkind. No shrink can fix that.

    I have some questions for you. Answer them as if Mr. Selfish is not in the picture:
    1. What are you doing to build a happy life for yourself?
    2. What kind of person do you want to be?
    3. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10years? What kind of life do you want to have?
    4. What are you grateful for?
    5. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

    Block him on your phone and text. Send his email address to the junk folder. Give yourself 90 days of no contact. One full summer. That becomes a habit. Meanwhile, work on your own life. He’s using you.

  • Spouses with complicated mental health issues and are non-compliant are radioactive. You cannot fix them and they poison the environment around them. My XW was in this category. It gets compounded by the cheating and a cycling of excitement and remorse.
    When XW announced that she wanted the divorce after extended therapy sessions she left the room. The therapist told me I was fortunate to be rid of her now, because “She’s got problems you can’t fix.”

    • Alcohol and substance abuse are the same: You didn’t cause it. You can’t control it. You can’t cure it.

      It’s hard for codependents to understand that ENABLING bad behavior and sickness does not help anyone.

    • I know you’re right. A friend told me “ it must be so difficult for someone who is so goal orientated and can accomplish anything to not be able to fix this, but you cant save him or fix him”

      • Nor should you want to. You cannot help someone who will not help themselves. Save your helping for the people around you who will receive it and appreciate it and not weaponize it against you. Because that is exactly what this guy is doing–he’s turning your caring about him, your caring about children, into a weapon to be used against you. And that’s some evil stuff right there. He’s weaponizing your love against you, and that should piss you off and disgust you.

      • Help you. Help yourself. Sometimes our fixation on someone who is sick is at rock bottom a way of avoiding our own pain and talking responsibility for our own life.

        I hope you stick around here, Torn. This site has really helped me with the “get a life” portion of the program.

        • As an aside, LAJ, your new avatar reminds me of the lovely possibilities that lie ahead. Your former avatar of the lavender always brought me a warm sense of calm and peace, and I realize now that all along I have been subconsciously making tiny incremental steps of progress, because I now am confident that the road ahead is leading me to very good things.

          Not sure when you changed it, since I’m blind on the right side (stroke survivor since 1991) and just noticed, but I hope you too are moving toward something good.

  • Torn,

    I, too, was kept in check by worries about my husband’s depression and potential for suicide.

    Just another bit of manipulation that kept him in control and kept me feeling as though I was really, really needed! #codependent

    Anyhoo, when he had an affair, he fired me from the job of caring about him. Thank God!! I never should have taken on that thankless task.

    Oh, and he’s still alive and well and fucking the OW, so I wasn’t really needed to keep him from desperation. In fact, he wrote some BS about how he needed to leave me to *avoid* desperation. No good deed goes unpunished.

    Please heed CL’s advice. Let go and be free!

    • Yes, I according to him is his trigger. He is not holding on to me. He let go. Except wanting to be friends. This is my inabilty to let go of someone that I clearly cant save

      • If he wants to remain friends he is still holding on, he is enjoying his cake, he demoted you from primary source to secondary source but you are still a major and important source to him (he wants you to be one of his flying monkeys so do speak). If you really were his trigger he would not want to be within a 1,000 miles of you, my ex completely triggers my CPTSD and I can’t even think about being around him without feeling the beginnings of a panic attack. He is expertly playing you; for your sake and the sake of your children stop taking the bate.

      • He fired you from that job. He is not your friend.

        I know it’s hard to swallow, and it hurts. But I would really love to see you get MAD at him for everything he’s put you through! He’s an expert at pulling on your heartstrings and making you feel sorry for him. He is an expert at making you feel like his actions are your fault.

        He knows that you are a nice, decent, caring person – and he uses that to take advantage of you. It was the same with most of us here! We cared. We worried about them. We fawned over their sadz and tried to make them happy. We wondered what WE did wrong when they were being distant and mean.

        Honey, he is the bad guy in the story. While you worried, while you tried everything you could think of to help him, he was stabbing you in the back.

        • Legit people will tell you that they have good days and bad days.

          Manipulators will lead you to think that their every single day is miserable.

      • You’re not his trigger. Couples can fall apart after the loss of a child, but that doesn’t justify the amount of hurt and deceit he’s been slinging at you. Nothing really does, especially since he must have known how vulnerable you must be feeling as well

  • Torn, stop feeding him cake. He’s wanting you to still be attached so when the “emotional affairs” blow up he can come back to you to take care of him.

    What happened to your daughter is absolutely tragic. How did you grieve? I bet it wasn’t by sexually harassing your employees. After awhile the “poor me” persona gets old.

    Please protect yourself and your sanity, he needs to navigate life without you. He’s no longer your responsibility.

    • You’re correct! I have been the rock. If anyone has the right to be unhinged it’s me. Some of us are just stronger.

      • It’s not that you are stronger than him – it’s that you are a good person with morals. You would never hurt anyone the way he repeatedly hurt you. This is not his weakness, this is his selfishness and a total lack of empathy.

  • I lived a version of this. In my case, the precipitating event was the death of our Marine nephew in Afghanistan. My now-ex, a college professor (as I am) fell apart.
    For three years I witnessed increasingly bizarre behavior, including fixations on younger women at work.
    Unbeknownst to me, he revved up his long (and boundary crossing) relationship with a former student. With her egging him on, he decided he was transgender.
    His behavior reminded me of nothing so much as the behavior of my bipolar, paranoid father in the grip of his delusions. What he said about his gender identity was so strange and so variable that I was constantly off-balance: “I’m multiple!”; “I have many women and men inside me.”; “I think I have dissociative identity disorder!”; “There is a little girl inside me who has never been allowed to come into being and I am going to let her out.”; “I’m going to take cross-sex hormones and have my testicles removed and live as a woman.”; “I’m not going to have any irreversible procedures and am going to stay in the closet because I won’t pass, but live as a woman at home.”) Like you, I worried about his mental health. To me he appeared unhinged. His preoccupation with himself, his “inner women,” and the ones he was creeping on at work, was constant, and his behavior and demands ensured that I was equally preoccupied with him.
    Yet, at the same time as he was acting in such strange ways at home, he, like your husband, also managed to continue doing his job, quite as he always had. My now-ex even did a stint on the search committee for the next president of the university.
    When I finally divorced him, he tried to keep me on his emotional hook. By then, however, I’d found Chump Lady and learned about “no contact.” I have no doubt that if I hadn’t, he’d still be yanking my emotional chain.

    From my perch, it looks to me as if your ex is manipulating you. You need to read up on “no contact” and then free yourself from this emotional vampire by putting “no contact” into practice. Your empathy is binding you to a person who will suck you dry. You can’t save him or prop him up. If he is to get help, or be helped, it’s going to be because he perceives he needs help and and he seeks it for himself, rather than stalking women–you included.

  • Dear Torn — Please heed all the excellent advice from Chump Lady and the Chump Nation. Your ex is a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen. Be far, far away when that bomb drops.

    Many articles in the archives re: no contact. The basics:

    http://www.chumplady.com/2013/05/how-to-go-no-contact

    When you go no contact, prepare for rage and charm in addition to self-pity:

    http://www.chumplady.com/2017/09/mindfuck-three-channels

    Read the archives. Scroll down to the very bottom to get Chump Lady’s book. It’s in paperback, Kindle and Audible.

  • I am so sorry, Torn, that you lost your daughter.

    I cannot imagine how much pain you have been weathering for so many years.

    I do know that tragedy does not legitimize the kind of behavior your EX has been subjecting you to. He may have mental health issues (and physical health issues), but having problems does not give anyone an excuse to mistreat other people. His choices have harmed and continue to harm you. On some levels, he knows he has abused the people who have treated him the most kindly, but self-knowledge is not enough. He has to take responsibility for his behavior if he wants to have better relationships with other people in the future, not you.

    He will almost certainly spiral further into dangerous or even deadly behaviors. But you cannot fix that. Whether you chose to support him in the ways he is asking or refuse any contact with him, he will have problems until HE fixes them.

    Stop taking his calls, reading his texts, or otherwise communicating with him. If you need to, enlist a friend to screen all of the communications and to give you any truly necessary information (financial, legal, etc.)

    Time will put his behavior into perspective, but it is hard to break habits that are decades long–and your habits now involve forgiving him, apologizing for him, fixing his problems, and providing him comfort and reassurance. He can get those things somewhere else if he does the work. It is not your job to do all of this emotional labor for him. Leaving a spouse who needs transportation to chemotherapy is entirely different from leaving a spouse who wants to be reassured when his mistress isn’t being nice to him.

    Congratulations on divorcing him. It was a big step. Keep on walking.

    • He does not contact me. I bring to much oain , because I try to make him own his mistakes and get help. It is my codependency on wanting to save my childrens father. I know I need to move on

      • If he isn’t even contacting you Torn then it shows how much he even wants to stay friends! Please stop chasing this exhale begging for crumbs! No wonder you are feeling so low and confused, you are not detaching you are actively pursuing someone that isn’t interested! No one feels good running after someone that doesn’t want them! This only hurts you,
        Torn. He gets a high from you reaching out to “check” on him because he knows he still has his hooks in you incase his new relationship blows up!

        He FIRED you from taking care of him and doesn’t even want to reach out to you so you do all the work staying in touch for him! Torn, please PLEASE see how damaging this behaviour is to your healing and your mental and emotional health. You are so focused on him that you seem unable to focus on yourself and building your new life.

        My exhole was DYING from cancer and due to an operation had all the nerves cut in his penis so he couldn’t get errections. It didn’t stop him setting up dating profiles and pursing any female he laid eyes on. Do you want to know why he did it? Because he WANTED to! He didn’t care about me…only what I could do for him. He was out looking for my replacement because he thought he could land a “better deal” because he always viewed the relationship through a selfish perspective of what he could get out of it! If he felt he could get something better from someone else…he’d be off in a flash because he never bonded or cared about me! Torn, your husband has done the same thing! There’s no mystery or mental illness. There’s a selfish man that thinks this young employee offered him more than you…so he took it.

        Please find your anger! Anger can help burn the desperation and pain away because it shows the truth! Please start to look out for yourself!

  • Cheaters are masters at manipulating- and if the manipulation worked once they will definitely try it again. Those who put you last do not deserve your love and empathy. Put those energies towards peace and harmony in your own life.

  • Torn – You mentioned your swift divorce. Is it possible that his words propelled you into giving him the divorce? Did he participate/cooperate? Were you fairly represented?

    Was he able to have reciprocal relationships with family members in the past or did they/you have to initiate contact.

    I’m so sorry for the losses in your life. Going no contact will allow some healing.

    • I handled the divorce uncontested. My lawyer only. He agreed to all my terms. Very good settlement of house with all equity, alimony for 13 years that covers house and all bills and Remain as beneficiary if he passes before me of all his estate. He has no friends and he is disconnected from family. I was the only one keeping in contact for him

      • Torn,

        My cheerleader voice: What a fantastic settlement! Congratulations!, now go gain that life!


        My no nonsense stern sisterly voice:

        at what point will you consider yourself the OW engaging in an emotional affair with him? The way it looks to me: you already are. You’re now by default, the interloper…

        he told you to move on. DO IT. You need a boat load of no contact. Good luck

      • My fuckwit was on SSRIs, told me he’d been diagnosed with anhedonia, took himself off to sleep clinics, drank excessively, worked excessively. He fessed up to fellating his male colleagues in the work toilets and told me he ‘just needed to feel something, anything’ (ahem 🙂 ) He disappeared for 9 days over Christmas and made up a complicated story about a row at work and a nervous breakdown.

        I spackled like crazy. Therapy for him, couple therapy for us. Surprised him with thoughtful gifts. Set my alarm for 2am to fish him out of his freezing cold, pissed-in bathwater so his foolish carcass wouldn’t drown. Stopped trying to have sex because my attempts were ‘demasculating’. And many more things!

        So, turns out the reason he was so depressed and tired was because of the secret one-year old and baby momma he was hiding in a basement flat in East London. I only found this out many years after I left. He told my brother that he deliberately made his mental health look worse than it was, to get me to back off. He also told my brother was the reason he couldn’t leave was because of my ‘delicate’ mental health.

        Thing is, every single one of the mystifying things he did back then makes total sense with that one vital piece of missing information.

        They are pretty simple, really.

  • Torn, sometimes traumatic things happen in the lives of FWs. And FWs like to use that trauma as an excuse for being a FW. Klootzak was in the Pentagon when it was struck on 9/11. He was on the other side of the building when it happened and evacuated and walked home. He didn’t participate in any rescue efforts or anything. But because he MIGHT have died that day, that was his excuse for every FW thing he ever did. Because he HAD TO cheat as much as possible because… carpe diem! Life is short and brutal so hook up all you can! It wasn’t his fault. It was the trauma! And boy, does he feed off of it. When he retired from the military, he tried to claim disability for PTSD. I have friends whose spouses served in Afghanistan. I have heard tales of the horrors of PTSD. Klootzak does not suffer PTSD and the military told him to blow smoke after an examination. Bad things happen to lots of people; it doesn’t make them stalk and hook up with women left and right.

    Whether because of empathy or co-dependency, this person has his hooks in you. Close the door on him and don’t look back. Get therapy for yourself to deal with these multiple traumas and start putting as much effort into caring for yourself and gaining a life as you have invested in FW.

    I am a bit jealous of your situation. You aren’t tied to FW by minor children. As he doesn’t have much to do with his kids and grandchild, you can enjoy your family without worry about bumping into him and his sad sausageness. You have an opportunity to build a better life and you are in control of taking it. Seek counseling. Be mighty. You deserve better. Like Elsa said, let that $hit go.

  • I spoke with the wife of the man my wife was having an affair with. He was depressed because the wife had kicked him out for having affairs. He was doing the suicide thing. Sending the wife pictures of guns, sent her pictures of a rope he was going to kill himself with, even got put in a psyche ward for a week. While he was doing all this, he was talking, txting and hooking up with my wife every chance he got.

    Suicide and depression are serious and should not be taken lightly, but most would not be able to continue advancing in a career, going on dates, etc if they were this bad.

    • The career advancement was before he got severely depressed. He is seeing a woman 1 day a week every other week. So once every 2 weeks. They hike. Apparently it is more of a friendship. He appear to just be paying for dinners and things . He is also manipulating her not to ask him persoanl questions. He says he knows he is mentally ill and has told me to move on.

      • Torn, he is still working and we should assume he is productive. If he exhibited any mental illness at work, that would be considered a major liability, the company would address it right away. They would offer medical leave, short term or possibly long term disability. While I have no doubt his bizarre behavior has you worried, I still can’t help but question his using the “mental illness” diagnosis to excuse his cheating and wanting a divorce.
        You’ve been through enough. Forget having a friendship with this man as he has proven to be not only a terrible husband but is also a lousy friend.

        • I hate to be that person, but I’m seeing so many misconceptions about depression. Your productivity isn’t directly correlated to it. It definitely is to some people, not to everyone. Does depression and PTSD excuse cheating? No. You’re responsible for your actions even if your mental health is struggling.

          Furthermore, Torn did everything she could to help him and he refused it. So whatever he is suffering from, that’s no longer hers to fix, which is more to the point imo

      • Torn – Here’s another 2X4 which I remember receiving.

        Think how grateful and loved you would have felt if your ex had committed to spending regular, quality time with you and buying you “dinner and things”. He’s capable of doing it.

        This is the complicated grief, the letting go of the future you thought you would have.

        Don’t confuse that with your sense of self-worth,

      • The fact that you know all of this is a problem. Disengage, disconnect, and create a behavioral plan to help you. For example, when you find yourself worrying about him or ruminating on him, immediately turn to another labor-intensive task to break your thinking. Or if you have the urge to reach out to him, stop yourself then reward your self-control with something you love. I found that creating a behavioral change system really helped reshape my thinking. But you have to be intentional about it. You have to want to change and to do the work.

        Also, realizing that NOTHING you do will help him and that EVERYTHING you’re doing for him is hurting you and by extension your kids. They deserve to have sane and stable patent…so be that for them.

      • Please find a good therapist and explore why you want to know this level of detail when you’re divorced. Enough about him and his issues. What are you holding on to and what toll is it taking on you? Your children and future you will appreciate the effort you put into helping yourself through this awful time, more so than the time you spend on him.

  • Torn, I just wanted to say I’m so deeply sorry for the loss of your daughter and for the trauma you’ve been though with your ex. I hope you have a great support system around you and pray that the days ahead bring you comfort and peace.

  • I totally understand why you feel the need to help him and you’re so worried. Maybe once you gather the fortitude you need to go forward alone, you might recognize that it was easier to worry about his crazy instead or dealing with your enormous pain and abandonment by someone you counted on. You’ve lost your child. Your marriage. Your stability. You’ve had to hold it together for the rest of your family. And he’s carrying on like a pimply teenager. It’s your turn to talk. To listen to the wind. To get grief counseling. To laugh and smile. To enjoy your grandson in peace. I’m so sorry and I wish I could hug you. Let him find his way and you find yours now. There’s much more for you out there.

  • Wow, this was hard to read. You have to let go. Of him, of the relationship, of the fantasy in your head.

    Look into Al-Anon meetings. They are all about letting go of codependency. I went to one and cried the whole time.

    Stop reaching out to him. He fired you as his wife. If you fire a house cleaner, do you expect her to stick around and keep cleaning your house? No.

    He abused you, and you are worried about being friends and saving him. That’s a trauma bond that you need to break. It is so hard to accept that a ‘perfect’ spouse is actually a monster under the mask. It takes months and months to get there.

    Your divorce is final and you don’t have minor children together. Block his phone and email. Be free.

  • Torn, save yourself. Where is your love, empathy and compassion for yourself? You are wasting your life on that sad, shifting diagnosis, self absorbed cheater.

    I’m urging you to treat yourself with the same consideration you show him. Place yourself first. Become your own Mama Grizzly Bear. Your letter is all about him and nothing of you. It is time to change that.

    He is not your responsibility anymore. You were fired so stop trying to go to work on him. Give yourself a break from the black hole of energy sucking madness that is that cheater. Delete the contact from your phone. Block him. Purge him from your social media.

    I left a sick man. He has PTSD, military service injuries, a revolving host of ailments. He wasn’t so sick that he couldn’t cheat. It was terribly hard. But it came down to the fact that staying was going to kill me. Perhaps literally. I chose me.
    Chose you, Torn.

  • I’m sorry for the loss of your daughter, and I hope that you’re getting the support and counseling that you need. It can be difficult, especially for people with codependent behaviors, to realize and accept that someone that we share history with shares neither our compassion nor our decency, that our devotion can’t cure their issues.

    From my own experiences, loss and grief are never an excuse to abuse people. The false suicide attempts and self harm (my ex both cut and punched himself when confronted with his behavior) are tools in the arsenal of a abuser. I believe it to be unsafe for anyone to continue to stay in the proximity of someone who engages in the above behaviors – my ex went from self pity and self harm to throwing me into a wall and threatening myself and my pets.

    Divorcing him was a step in the right direction. You and your family deserves a happy, stable life without your ex’s mistreatment.

  • Working non-stop? Are you sure about that? Or was he cheating non-stop? Because my cheating sack of shit was going “back to the office to work on files” every night, until I told him I was lonely at home and would bring a good book and sit with him. Suddenly all that extra work stopped. Just speaking from experience here.

    • Me too Martha. Ex is a surgeon. When he he found out I had called the scheduling desk a few times inquiring about how long he was expected to be in the OR the “extra cases” stopped. Unfortunately he just found new ways to cover up his habit for Craig’s list prostitutes.

  • Wow! Good analysis CL. I’m reading feeling all sad for him and her, and you come in with a 2×4 and just lay it out. Yep-manipulator to the extreme-

  • Torn,

    The status/depth/specifics of his relationship with this woman should not concern you. Truly, you cannot be certain if it is a 2X/month dinner or his newest soulmate. Step away from what ever is the source of information about their relationship. Step away from the rabbit hole. Put down the skein. Don’t try and comfort yourself with the shallowness of the relationship or torture yourself with the sincerity.

    None of this matters. It is just a distraction to keep you from crossing to the peaceful land of indifference and subsequent healing and finally joy.

    You are strong and brave. Use that to propel yourself into a better place.

  • Let’s compare and contrast:
    “I was married for 29 1/2 years to an amazing, dedicated, sweet husband.”
    and
    “…he has lied, gaslighted and manipulated me for years to protect himself from what he was doing…”

    Sweet people don’t lie, gaslight and manipulate. So which is true? I think you know the answer, but it’s difficult, after all you’ve been through, to accept this as well.
    I hope you are going to counseling to truly understand mental illness (of others) and gain some tools to deal with them. I would also pick up the book “The Sociopath Next Door”. I think this might help you accept what you are seeing clearly.
    And may I say, I am so sorry for the loss of your child.

  • Of course your “friend of decades” would be happy to confirm that she never had a physical affair with your husband–why would she want to risk losing your friendship? If you treat her with the same care, consideration and deference as you do your ex, I’m sure you’re a wonderful friend for HER to have, but doubt she’s wonderful for you. A friend for decades would not have an emotional affair with your husband for three months, let alone three years. She’s no friend, and nobody you should want as a friend.
    Your daughter died of a terrible illness a month after diagnosis, and I’m so sorry for your loss. Perhaps your desire to hold onto your child motivates or compels you at some level to hold onto the rest of your family. You’re still trying to save and hold onto you ex, even after the emotional and legal death of your marriage. You even say specifically that you would not stop loving him if he had cancer, the disease that killed your daughter. You mention your es did not get therapy for this loss at the time. Did you? It’s not too late. You’re spending a lot of time and mental and emotional energy trying to parse out his motivations and relate them back to loss of your child. Maybe you should do the same for yourself.
    Many of us initially think there must be a medical cause for our partners’ cheating and personality “change.” He’s handing out all kinds of physical and bogus mental health excuses to justify his selfishness, lies and cheating.
    You wrote that it’s hard for him to be around his adult children or to deal with family. Maybe THEY don’t want to be around him after what he did to you and your family. If you truly are the only person who loves him, he must have done something(s) to alienate his own children and relatives. Perhaps they know about more than “emotional” affairs, but really, you don’t need to know what they know. He’s not worth holding on to, even if he hadn’t moved on long ago. Mourn your daughter, and enjoy the family you have now, and the life you can still create.

    • So many wrong things states, but appreciate it anyways. No friend of mine would cheat with my ex. Also, the whole letter is not about saving the relationship as a couple but releasing myself of the obligation of being the sole care giver of his issues for so long. Again, I am strong and will survive

      • You will survive and once you release yourself from the burden of worrying about your ex and HIS issues, you will feel lighter. Wishing you all the best!

      • Sounds like you are seeking permission to jettison this person from your life!

        You have permission! To leave him and go no-contact. It will never be truly helpful to him or anyone else if you are stuck in an unhappy, unfulfilling, lopsided relationship.

        He will suck all the life out of you. Mentally ill or not we all make choices, we all are 100% responsible for our lives. Don’t presume you know what’s best for him! Sounds like YOU are getting benefits from being “the only one who cares”. Something is wrong if you care more about him than he does. Often times consequences are just what one needs to wake up!

        Work on your co-dependency, it’s really holding you back. Bless him, trust that he is a child of God just as you are, but STOP rescuing this soul sucker.

        • Exactly! Only person to get it. Thank you. The letter was about being released from the burden of being his only
          Friend and only person checking on him. You literally are the only one to get it!!! Not saving a relationship. He lives in a different state. We are disconnected

  • Even if his destructive and selfish behaviour was brought by trauma, it is no longer yours to fix and maybe it never was. You’ve done your part plenty.

    I wish I had someone who stuck by me throughout my depression. I’ve been suffering from it on and off since I was a teenager, and to my ex husband it was merely a nuisance he would never take seriously. In fact, when the mask came off he unironically called me boring, because I wasn’t smiling enough. Granted, I didn’t have to suffer the pain you and your husband did, but even if let’s say it’s true that his behaviour is due to PTSD and depression, he did have someone who was willing to help him through it, but he didn’t want it.

    It’s hard to let go of those we loved for a long time, they become part of our being and it takes time to shed them so it’s ok that you feel you can’t quite move on from that yet . But the end of a relationship shouldn’t you leave with this gaping hole of trauma. When that happens it means something went very very wrong. It would probably advisable to keep your contact with him to a minimum

  • Lots of great advice above. I was raised in a co-dependent household and was incredibly co-dependent with my cheater ex. For a long time I “felt bad” for him, even when he was behaving terribly. This is learned behavior, and it’s toxic. And often, it requires behavior modification to stop it. I suggest seeing a therapist for a behavior modification plan, if you can’t create one yourself, that helps you stop obsessing on him and rewards you for exercising self control and remaining no contact. Sometimes, mind follows body. That’s the point of ‘no contact.’ You change your behavior and that, in turns, allows your mind and heart to catch up. Therapy could also help you identify the root of your co-dependence and savior issues so you don’t allow that to happen again…or worse, so you don’t transfer those same behaviors to your kids and burden yours and their futures with it.

    Adults should practice inter-dependence with each other, not co-dependence. Inter-dependence is healthy, co-dependence is toxic and destructive.

  • Your husband cheated before and after your daughter’s death. Stop making excuses. He’s just your typical cheater. Nothing special.

    Your friend who cheated with him should be permanently banned.

    Definitely of friend – loyal, honest and trustworthy. Neither fit that category.

  • I’ve got some experience with debilitating depression. I recall barely being able to get up and take a shower, but I sure don’t remember dating. I’m very sorry for your loss, but your ex is a manipulator and an asshole. You both dealt with the same pain of losing a child, you’d think he could help you through it as a partner should, instead of using this as an excuse for shit behavior.

    Shut that shit down. Stop having contact with him and worry about yourself. You deserve to be happy 💗

    • Depression comes in many forms. Noone should base their depression on others. There is more at play then depression, death, health sickness, low self esteem. I think it was the perfect storm. Either way! No one is making excuses. He was capable of many things and getting help should have been the number one thing. He himself will admit he is weak in not doing so.

  • Torn,

    Losing a child is heart wrenching, and more so because you deserved a husband (father of your daughter) to be there for and with YOU when you were going through the worst possible thing that a mom can experience – losing a child. He abandoned your heart and your needs when you were the most vulnerable.

    He is a jack-ass. He has zero empathy for the mother of his children. This is such a no brainer from my view. From your description, he is an emotional parasite. Stop wasting one more second of your precious life trying to analyze and spin his bullshit into gold. I wish for you to have the dark cloud cleared from your world, and for you to see that he is a not, and maybe never was, worthy of your energy.

    What about him do you think you still need? Try to disconnect from who you “want” him to be, and focus on the reality of who this man is. He wants you to be his mommy. Unconditional, mommy who cleans the drool off of his chin, and changes his diapers (metaphorically). He lacks empathy for you. He chose to leave, he chose to betray you – he did not choose you – shut the door and move on with your precious life. It gets better, but first you need to get him out of your life, no contact.

  • Dear Torn,

    Of the four or five people over the years who threatened suicide if I didn’t do this, this or that or because I didn’t do such-and-such, THEY’RE ALL STILL ALIVE.

    Still alive and still mindfucking everyone around them.

    I started working in a very male-dominated, high-stakes industry right out of school.The industry has a tendency to attract people with personality disorders. Those types always first pose as cuddly helpful mentors then turn into psychos. The entire field is beset with traps and flooded with pervs. It’s not just men. It’s also PickMe-dancing central where blowing your boss for job advancement and squashing other women who complain about workplace abuse of power are typical.

    Any “creative” or “heroic” profession that offers potential fame or “immortality” tends to attract the biggest psychopaths, maybe even more than professions that offer only power and riches. It was sicko city. My parents were veterans of a different competitive and creative industry and warned me, but they knew it was my dream to work in that arena so they stood back and gritted their teeth, offering support whenever the shit hit the fan, which it did.

    Now that the #MeToo movement is underway, more people are talking about abuse in more and more industries and at last droves of people are coming forward about inequity and abuse in that field. But when I was in it, no one talked. Victims were either like that woman you encountered who suffered through your ex’s stalking (from your description, that was categorical, criminal harassment and stalking by the way) because of misplaced pity and/or avoidance of scandal (that tends to sink women’s careers more than men’s), or because they capitalized on it and actually bonked the guy.

    Because I wasn’t raised to put up with this stuff, I was always about the only one who did “talk.” The response of bystanders was to ask me if I’d considered why this stuff always happened to me and no one else. Cut to 2018 and it appears that was a big, fat lie. It was happening to everyone or at least under everyone’s noses continuously. I was just the outlier weirdo who thought it shouldn’t. I didn’t think screwing one’s married boss to protect one’s job was a “fond affair with a generous, experienced older mentor who had the bad luck of being married to a cold harpy.” I thought it was rapey and gross and thought their wives should get combat pay. Years later, I also put two and two together and realized that the women in that profession who backstabbed other women and who acted as flying monkeys to abusers of power and policed against women who spoke out were all chronic cheaters and side chicks in their own rights, but that’s a digression. In short, cheaters and witting side dishes are never normal, healthy campers. They’re all abusers one way or another and it carries over into all spheres of their lives.

    On top of struggling to avoid workplace harassment and inappropriate behavior, I was stalked and assaulted by an employer, then later by a coworker, and then obsessed-on by yet another coworker. All threatened suicide because I didn’t comply. My mother, who sometimes shows real genius about human behavior, surmised that these guys chose me precisely because I wasn’t playing the game and precisely because I was the rare target who would call a halt to it. “Maybe they secretly wish to be stopped?” She guessed this made me the omnicient mommy figure who would have protected them as children from whatever horrific abuse made them the way they are.

    Because I reported the first two cases to the police, bystanders and coworkers pressured me to drop charges (I didn’t) and blamed me for the mental states of these older douchebags. In the first situation, the guy’s ex-girlfriend, a very beautiful Ivy League grad, submitted testimony to the DA on my behalf that he was, in fact, violent and coercive. This brilliant woman had gotten roped into “remaining friends” with this asshole who abused her out of pity for his mental state and possibly a little fear over his status in the industry, and then she felt terrible because the optics of this were used by him to prove that he was a “great guy.” After what happened to me, she dropped him and began telling people who he really was. It was on her advice that I simply turned over evidence of the suicide threats left on my answering machine and delivered through other people to police and the courts as proof of further harassment. She joked that she’d saved all the suicide messages he’d left on her answering service back in the day if the DA needed them.

    The third case was a coworker with more status who stepped in as a supposed rescuer in the aftermath of these crises, then pitched a tantrum in a parking lot because I didn’t return his “wuv.” He didn’t threaten suicide to me directly but passed this on through other people who blamed me as the hussy who “used” him for career advancement (??) and ruined his life. At least this idiot apologized years later, but because I was blackballed and lost my job as a result of his triangulation, I refused to be friends with him. The fourth case was a woman who had been unrequitedly pursuing stalker #2 for years. When I prosecuted him, he got her hopes up again by crying on her shoulder about what a demon I was and how I made it all up. He basically deputized her to punish me, thinking she’d at last win the dance. During a project this woman and I worked on together, she hauled off and attacked me on the street, trying to push me into speeding traffic. It was out of the blue, but from the babbling messages she left on my phone, apparently, it had something to do with how I’d “led on” her precious balding old stalky douchebag. I reported her to the police as well, then got word she was “suicidal.” People felt sorry for her. People who you’d think would be too smart to fall for the act felt sorry for her. It was terrifying.

    All of these people went to either Ivy League or exclusive state universities. The two most violent were the sons of upstanding doctors. The psycho chick was the daughter of a good ‘ol boy state rep somewhere in the Midwest. All came from major money. All also grew up witnessing and experiencing family violence. You find this stuff out because these types of pity-mongering abusers tell their sad sausage tales a lot, both as sympathy traps as well as to scuttle the negative press that trails them about their cyclical horrible behavior. But the key ingredient making them dangerous, besides the fact that all had internalized the worst abuse committed against them, was the sheer toxic entitlement.

    Later, after I got married, I got involved in advocacy for victims of domestic violence and rape and was required to study stacks of books on criminal psychology and to understand abuser profiles as well as the politics that impact clinical theory on “victimology” and public perceptions of abuse and victim-blaming. I had a Catholic friend who, at age 20, started reading about the Big Bang theory and evolution and had a sort of positive nervous breakdown about it. I had the same kind of overwhelming revelation and come-to-Jesus moment reading about criminal psych and criminal personality disorders. I kept thinking “Why doesn’t everyone learn this in seventh grade???!!” It could save the lives of millions or at least spare them from years of bs.

    What I learned (if there are any psych professionals here, feel free to correct my understanding. It’s been awhile since I read the research):

    –It’s a myth and remnant of therapeutic misogyny that borderline personality “mostly” affects women. Quite unjustly, BPD is particularly pinned on female victims of abuse. Borderline people simply maladaptively get stuck in very standard human crisis behavior, but what makes it “maladaptive” is that they eventually learn that acting this way is great for coercion and manipulation. Of course, actual victims and trauma survivors may go through a transient phase of exhibiting similar crisis behavior, but that’s where the similarity ends. Genuine victims typically don’t deliberately cause crises to manipulate people and victims eventually pass out of that stage with the proper supports. The victim may develop PTSD but that’s very distinguishable from BPD. Meanwhile, the borderline abuser repeats that cycle endlessly, with or without an actual event to trigger it. Though sometimes women do fit the dx, the most cutting-edge dv researchers have identified domestic batterers as mostly fitting the borderline profile.

    –Borderline personality disorder is not “mental illness” per se and it can be a big mistake when clinicians assume it is. Individuals with the condition are far too canny and successfully manipulative to be characterized as mentally disabled. People with major mental illness are too addled and confused to be that skillfully coercive, dissembling and to keep track of the masks they wear in different circumstances. Borderline abusers know to keep their abuse behind closed doors and don’t, say, randomly attack their bosses or armed security officers. Instead, many people with borderline are more akin to the criminally disordered, though only a portion may commit actual crimes.

    –Threatening suicide and using displays of depressive behavior as a means of entrapping and manipulating people are apparently typical of BPD. The fact that people with the condition may actually suffer emotionally from frequent relationship failure and may sometimes carry out these threats doesn’t take away from the fact that they also use the threats as coercion. Like the boy who cried wolf, many make so many fake suicide threats or use “sadz” to manipulate others that, if and when the BPD person does become genuinely suicidal, there may be no one left who takes it seriously. The situation is more biblical irony than biblical tragedy.

    –Suicidal tendencies turned outward easily become violence towards others. Fake suicide threats and playing the sad sausage are often used to conceal malevolent rage towards a victim and can also end in harm or violence towards the victim.

    –Borderlines use tragedies that happen to themselves (or that they cause) to make everything about themselves, and they’ll use everything that happens to YOU or to your children or anyone else to make everything about themselves. They guard victim status with all their might. They are always the victims of their victims.

    –Batterers with borderline always cheat since cheating is just another means of trying to destroy the “power” they paranoically imagine their victims wield over them– the power to “abandon” or “engulf.” Destroying the self-esteem and agency of victims is seen as necessary to this end. Shifting their infantile dependency to another target is intended to break the “control” that abusers imagine their victims have over them.

    –There are definite overlaps between battering and cheating. Batterers are cowards and operate on a “beat by need” basis. If all it takes to crush their partner is constant betrayal, DARVO and gaslighthing, that’s the easier, lower-risk path, doesn’t leave visible marks and is less prone to criminal indictment. But statistically, cheaters– even those without known histories of violent behavior– like batterers, are more likely than average to become violent for the “first time” when victims attempt to leave. Chris Watts told police he killed his wife to get her out of the way of his affair. But according to the dv theory of “masked dependency,” he may actually have killed his wife because she figured out his cheating and told him to get out. He may have killed his daughters because, on being exposed as a depraved creep, he imagined they’d grow up hating him and would abandon him or simply because they witnessed him killing his wife. He was reportedly not violent in the marriage up to that moment.

    –Borderlines were believed to be incurable until recently (it remains to be seen if new therapies work or not) because of their tendency to manipulate and lie to therapists about their behavior, about events, about the characters of their victims, about their MOs. Borderlines may use therapy to polish their abusive and manipulative tactics and tendency to demonize their own victims. They tend to have an uncanny ability to get people on their sides.

    When FW in my case began secretly drinking and using porn and displaying many of the above borderline behaviors (minus violence) while launching into an icky workplace affair, I think it’s obvious he feared that my past experience and “education” would eventually rear up and nail him what he was doing. He treated me like a snake on a stick almost preemptively, and the gaslighting and DARVO-ing was particularly horrible and meant to instantly paralyze. I had a history of “winning” encounters against far bigger predators. He blindsided me and I was genuinely crippled until D-Day. Because I’d hired a PI, there was no way for FW to minimize the affair and porn use (which, of course, led to ED and secret Viagra dependency). He definitely would have lied and spun and minimized if it weren’t for the full-color surveillance photos, incriminating emails, phone search history and the GPS on the car. To this day, I’m still so paranoid about his DARVOing and character assassination that, even in anonymous forums, I never give all the details, the real timeline or details of what my life is like now. I have minor kids and play defensively.

    I don’t really understand why drinking brought out behaviors that fit the BPD profile, some of which weren’t there before. I can definitely look back and see his history of milking the pity cow, sort of “tragedy posturing” over certain setbacks, etc. But before the drinking and fucking around, he had a sense of humor about his own periodic drama queen bs. I’d like to give a workshop about all the ways in which cheater and abusers boil their victims like frogs for years, basically acclimatizing the victim to this idea that the abuser is a suffering soul beset by unimaginable stress and injustice at all times. They do it by infusing drama into mundane gestures, like wrinkling their brows and scowling in concentration as they feed the dog as if they’re defusing a bomb that was left in Times Square at rush hour. The whole idea is to set the victim on edge and make them “scurry” to placate the poetic martyrdom and epic suffering of their mates.

    There actually were a few family tragedies that preceded his big shift into FWittery, but these were things happening either to all of us or to other people. But my impression in retrospect is that FW had been waiting his whole damned life for the perfect storm of “tragic circumstances” that would be sufficient to buy himself license to be truly horrible. As is typical of batterers, I think he drank in ORDER to act out rather than the other way around. And at one point he did threaten suicide if I tried to leave him. He never got violent but I remember jumping out of my skin when he would go into his DARVO-y, pre-D-Day rages. Maybe he could depend on the violence of other men to make sure my brain would scramble even under implied threat.

    In the final analysis, he was right and my past “education” did kick in and help me see through his game. It makes me wonder if, secretly, he was hoping to get caught and stopped as well. Why else would anyone choose me as a target considering my history of mopping the floor with aggressors?

    Anyway, the perp described in the post reminds me of classic profiles of high order BPD abusers capitalizing on pity to get away with horrendous abuses.

    • Interesting. He is a man in crisis. When it started hard to tell. I think it has to be in you to flip a switch during tragedy like this. There is a coping mechanism missing and I believe as stated covert narcissist BPD for sure. I can look back and see the signs. I have told him this as well. He has stated he will be going back to therapy. I dont think it will help. I think his negative thought process is stuck. I dont think he wants to do the work it will take to face himself

      • Torn,

        Thank you for speaking out. And I’m very sorry to read about your loss and the fact that you were only punished on top of this.

        I imagine it sucks being a person who does terrible things. How hard it must be to climb back over the mountain of their own ill-deeds to redeem themselves. It seems most would rather not.

        I’ve noticed that, with some, the ill deeds come first and the “crazy” comes afterward. Does the stinking thinking drive them mad, a bit like the concept of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) for computer programming? Regarding this and the “stuck thought processes,” I thought the following was very interesting– a study of “neutralization” or “reduction of self-punishment” (self-exculpation) methods used by a range of ill-doers to retroactively justify various callous or criminal deeds and then proactively pave the way to do them again.

        The paper is on an extreme theme but applies as much to college exam cheats as it does serial killers. I think one of the takeaways is that the toxic thought process becomes so internalized that the individuals no longer have to “muster” it in self-defense and it’s no longer completely conscious. It’s an alternative theory to the concept that only sociopaths commit certain crimes, since the neutralizing thought process can make someone who is perhaps normally wired *effectively* sociopathic. That way they can say, “I didn’t mean to do…x,y,z bad thing!” and believe themselves perfectly sincere because they’re so good at x,y,z that they no longer have to even try or intend to do it. They just never get that paralyzing, nauseated feeling of guilt that a normal person would on the brink of doing something heinous because the self-exculpation is so ingrained and automatic that it vaporizes guilt before it forms.

        I assume it’s a behavior passed down through generations. https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/9/2/46/htm

        ‘Sykes and Matza [45] proposed neutralization techniques to explain how juvenile offenders can engage in delinquent behavior yet remain “committed to the dominant normative system” (p. 667). These techniques allow offenders to engage in deviant/illegal activities by providing a rationalization for these behaviors, allow offenders to protect their self-concept and deflect both self-blame and blame from others [1,12,30,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53]. Maruna and Copes [30] suggest that the neutralizations used by offenders might not only be used to rationalize behavior, but also that these might be “implicated in the etiology of deviant behavior” (p. 222). Additionally, other researchers affirm this position, that neutralizations may be used not only after the fact to rationalize behavior but may actually influence and instigate future behavior [33,36,38,54,55,56].

        Sykes and Matza [45] described five techniques used by offenders: denial of responsibility, denial of injury, denial of the victim, appeal to higher loyalties, and condemnation of the condemners; see also [1,12,30,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53]. If the offender claims the behavior was outside his/her control or an accident (e.g., “I was late because my alarm didn’t go off”) this is denial of responsibility. Denial of injury is where the offender insists no harm was intended or there was no harm done despite the act being illegal (e.g., a juvenile steals a car to joyride, but returns it without damage). Denial of the victim is when the offender insists the victim does not deserve this status (i.e., harm was rightful retaliation), did something to instigate the offender or deserved what happened (i.e., it is really the victim’s fault), or that there is no victim (i.e., absent or unknown victim). For example, the offender may claim that the victim hit them first, so they needed to retaliate which resulted in the victim being “beaten up”. When the norms and values of a smaller subgroup take precedence over the offenders’ attachment to dominant societal values, this is appeal to higher loyalties. Finally, with condemnation of the condemners, the offender rejects those who would reject him/her. The offender may claim that those denouncing them are secret deviants or hypocrites [1,30,45,46,48,52,53,57].

        These neutralizations allow offenders to engage in criminal/deviant behavior while protecting their sense of self, avoid culpability, and minimize the stigma of being an “offender” [45,46,47,48,53,55]. As asserted by Maruna and Copes [30], “neutralizations are variously meant to protect a person from…shame, guilt, remorse, self-awareness, loss of self-esteem, public labeling, and stigma” (p. 255). By using these to justify wrongdoing, offenders can protect themselves from blame and the associated stigma [30,45,46,48,55]. Neutralizations may also be the mechanism by which these offenders are able to “drift” in and out of criminality while maintaining commitments to conventional morals, norms, and behaviors (i.e., families, work, school); see also [1]. Neutralizations can be used by those either committed to normative society or those “…who are in a state of drift…partially committed to mainstream values but also committed to a certain lifestyle or set of behaviors that are labeled as deviant”’

        • I think this is true. He rationalize the unreciprocated affair as he thought she was his friend. When I asked what he thought was in it for her to put up with it for years. He seemed to flip a switch and be angry that now she wasn’t in hind sight and used him. It is all very twisted self serving thinking that in the end made him lose his mind and lose himself.

    • > I kept thinking “Why doesn’t everyone learn this in seventh grade???!!”

      Same.

      > Why else would anyone choose me as a target … ?

      They like a challenge? They are that arrogant? They hate you for resisting and want to take you down?

      I too have been stalked and assaulted at work. I find almost no women able to hear about it. Either they lack similar experience and are just clueless, or they have similar experience and unprocessed trauma and are triggered.

      Anyone here following the disgusting saga of David Haas?

      • I Survived,

        Apparently, consulting jury psychologists advise the prosecution against putting women on rape trial juries who are too similar in age, race, background, etc., to the victim because it might make the “safe world effect” (one name for it among many) kick in and the jury member may side with the perp. The safe world thing goes something like “God is in his heaven and only good things happen to good people. If something bad happens to you and especially if you are similar to me, I must find fault in you, some reason why you are bad or arbitrarily different from me, in order to protect my illusion that the same misfortune will never befall me.”

        In my own trial against a workplace stalker, I noticed there were some nuances to the above rule. There were several young women chosen for the jury by the prosecutor and you could even say they were similar to me. But they all shared a particular quality– kind of humble and wholesome and calm. I’d read about the safe world effect and this made me nervous, but sort of like the quiet, smiley little old martial arts sensei who can still flip man-monsters around like dish rags with one hand, those jury members all turned out to have spine and to think for themselves. One male jury member was so terrified of the stalker that he bailed in the middle of trial, but the rest ruled for my side without blinking.

        • Yep. Siding with the abuser is a very real, very sick and damaging dynamic.

          I am glad you had such a “woke” jury.

          • The prosecutor was the bomb and picked that jury. The whole thing was incredibly interesting. She had an uncanny sense of people but the defense attorney grossly underestimated her. For instance, during jury selection, her scrunchy kept slipping out of her straight blonde hair and the jury would laugh with her as she laughed at herself. She knew what she was doing. The defense attorney assumed she was a ditz and seemed to be snickering to himself that the state had chosen a jury who would rule for his perp client. He didn’t fight her choices.

            You should have seen his face when they ruled for the prosecution. I guess he thought the jury were all the types who would be on his client’s side. Nope. He didn’t pay attention to nuances. African American college guy had the glowy demeanor of someone who liked his mom. The older men were trim, straight-spined, sober-looking Vietnam vet era in modest professions and probably had daughters. And like the blonde prosecutor, the young women (all Hispanic) weren’t as fluffy as they appeared. The primly dressed Asian-American grandma ran a small accounting firm. I don’t quite remember the rest, just that the defense attorney hung himself on his own entitled biases (that self-deprecating blondes are idiots, that black men are “more violent,” that Asian women are geishas, that feminine women and maybe especially Latinas are mindless man-worshippers, that older, light-blue-collared and working-class men are all Neanderthals).

            I saw the more hopeful side of humanity that day. Justice is probably the best PTSD treatment going. It made up for all the fish-faced incredulity and judgment I had to put up with from bystanders following the assault.

            • The saying “Don’t ever try to read a book by its cover”. DA the dumb ass🤣

    • ‘The poetic martyrdom’ sums up 26 years of my relationship and marriage. He was Morrissey battling life with a sad sausage face, hiding the toxicity lying behind that mask. I was the princess turned into a frog by my prince. What a sad story. I wish I’d left the relationship 1 year in.

      Thank you, HoaC.

      • “Morrissey battling life with a sad sausage face.”

        Your gallows humor made me laugh but I know personally how unfunny it is. Of course, now we know that’s the classic “covert narc” or anti-social personality disordered passive-aggressive leading with self-pity. But why don’t we all learn this in seventh grade??

  • So sorry for the loss of your daughter.

    He was cheating, withholding and gaslighting you for a long time. OW and cheating spouses are not good reporters. They lie. What strikes me as ridiculous is the fact he’s clinging to you for being the only one who ‘cares’. Narcissists often speak of the ‘one’ and it’s about use, period. He can’t use you unless you allow it. Access allows him the power to keep you focused on his issues. They are no longer your problem. No contact will guaranteed he’ll latch on to someone else. It’s what he does.

    • Agreed! In the end he is the only one that can help himself and I no longer owe him my loyalty or friendship

  • Around the time when I learned of his most involved affair, my now-dead cheater started acting crazy.

    Long term depression was a given…after he died, I realized that he was likely a covert narc.

    But during the craziest time, I thought the mental health issues caused the cheating, but I think in my Cheater’s case, the cheating created such chaos that it contributed to his declining mental health.

    Like Torn, I defended him (and my ongoing entrenchment) for years. It was only after he died that I was able to see things with more clarity.

    I would have also said “we had our challenges but stayed together”…no, he cheated and was an asshole and I spackled.

    I also agree than an “unreciprocated EA of a coworker” = stalking

    • I think all is true. I think my ex has so many things it is almost impossible to determine which or why is the cause. At this point they are intertwined. Also the unreciprocated was definitely stalking. She never reported him. She said she knew something was terribly wrong. She worked with him for decades with no issue and she said in person it was normal. Just emails and texting. I told her she should have reported him. I would have the first time without a doubt.

  • Hi Torn,

    There is no friendship in how he treated you as I have come to understand the definition. I don’t believe anything anyone says who has lied to me, directly or by omission.

    Trust and safety are the two essential ingredients of any healthy relationship of any kind….friend, parent, child, partner, family member. Without those it’s not a relationship; it’s an entanglement. Which is why it feels sticky and weird and causes us to seek help and validation from others.

    When something is true and real and safe, I don’t think and feel in ways that cause me to seek out the opinions of someone outside the situation. The world is full of people and I don’t want to waste any more time, which I can’t get back, on someone I can’t trust and who does not care if they hurt me.

    Trust yourself, Luke.

    • He has not been a friend. You are correct. The struggle has always been the mental health issue. I knew this site would be brutally honest giving me the ability to let go. That is why I wrote to CL.

      • Yes, and his mental health issues are the jurisdiction of people who are trained to help with it. I think you can resign with a clear conscience.

        ❤️

  • Mental health issues are very serious and he should get the best help he can. Meanwhile, he doesn’t care about your marriage and you are not Plan B (he is using you for back up). I wouldn’t put up with that shit for a minute. As too many of us here know, narcissists use pity to great effect. It has kept many of us tethered to a bad person for many years. It’s very good manipulation for empaths. As CL says, if he kicked you down the stairs, would you be okay with that because he had mental health problems? Hell no!
    Also, my support team at women’s refuge set me straight about why men abuse. It’s a choice, plain and simple. They said “if everyone who had a mental health issue was an abuser, our world would be a terribly unsafe place to live in”. It’s a myth that men abuse because of mental health problems. He’s CHOOSING to abuse you, which makes the reality of it very, very shitty.
    These are separate issues. His mental health needs addressing (by him and his support network) and you need to get the fuck away from a cheater who uses you as his back up. In fact, he’s hardly even doing that – he’s told you he’s not interested. Please listen to that and protect yourself. No contact. Stay with the chumps here on this blog, get your ducks in a row.
    Big hugs – you can do this.

    • This is spot on. He is a classic BPD that has devalued me and has moved on to his next source. I have hung on to mental illness to hope that would explain this change in character from the first 20 year until last 10. In the end the red flags have always been there for the BPD behavior and the stress and death just brought it to a new level. Im not sure now if there was ever love for me from him. That has been a hard pill to swallow. He may be not capable and honestly I think he doesnt want my help. I think I am giving it for myself. Time to walk away

  • Torn,
    To start, I want to say I am so terribly sorry for your loss. I too have suffered the loss of a child (twice) and nearly a third time recently as my mentally ill daughter had a very serious suicide attempt and almost didn’t make it. My stepson passed away at the age of 15 in 2006 (drowned after falling through ice) and my biological son passed away at 16 years old in 2014 (car accident). No parent should ever have to outlive their children, and when they do have to live in this world without their child, each day starts out reliving the trauma as soon as you open your eyes and try to face another day without them.
    I found out 15 months after my son passed that my husband had been sleeping with my best friend/neighbor for 7 YEARS. The woman who sat with me and my family at my son’s funeral and stood with me while I did his eulogy, who was there when our youngest child was born, who my kids called “Aunt Jo”. The same woman that I confided in when I suspected that my husband was being unfaithful, and her response was “anyone can see how much he loves you. he would never do that to you” and all along they were having an affair, right under my nose. Do you know that when I first found out about them, my first thought was that I cannot loose this connection (to my deceased son). It felt like another death. Another day where you wake up and your kids are alive and your family is intact and then BAM !! It is taken away. I was heartbroken all over again and humiliated. The trickle truth went on for what seemed like forever. OW started stalking my youngest son and myself to some very scary extremes when he didn’t leave me for her. She was eventually arrested and moved out of the neighborhood. So, all of this focus was in her acting crazy and still trying to gain my footing from my son’s death. I was kind of paralyzed. I didn’t want to suffer ANOTHER loss. I didn’t want my kids to suffer another loss! And if I left him that is exactly what would happen and I still feel responsible for that (even though logically I know that his actions are what has split up our family). But it was 5 years before I really had a “normal” response to his affair. A very delayed reaction. My therapist says that it is like emotionally passing out. Our brain will only let us deal with so much at a time, especially when it comes to traumatic experiences. I feel like I am just now waking up and realizing what happened and what he has done and I am PISSED!
    I was barely able to function and take care of our other 2 kids after my son passed. So while I was drowning in my own grief, it was the perfect distraction for him to go screw the neighbor. Now, I do understand the escaping reality past of an affair. There were times when I would have done ANYTHING to stop feeling the pain. But you what? I DIDN’T. I had every excuse to turn into a meth head, alcoholic, crackhead or adulterer too! BUT I DIDN’T.
    My daughter has very severe mental illness that has worsened since the loss of her brother. When she is in psychosis she is not able to control her behaviors or rationalize between what is real and what is not. When she is dissociating she is still aware of right and wrong she is just emotionally disconnected from the reality of her actions. She has had some horribly traumatic experiences since her brother passed, in part because she DID chose to self medicate with drugs/alcohol and those things come with experiences of their own and landed her in some very horrible situations.
    My point is, yes the death of a child is a pain like no other. Yes, it changes you forever. But it is NOT an excuse. There is no excuse for them to let us drown in grief while they go “escape”. This is the time when we needed them the most. When we needed to have each others backs. When we needed to be each others lifeline. They let go of the lifeline and used it to deceive and distract us. That is a special kind of fucked up. He has offered a post nup and I have not caught him in any other affairs. He gets very angry if I even bring up his “mistake”. But even if he is a “unicorn”, he is no longer “my” unicorn. I can’t ever see him the same way. To me he will always be the man who cheated and made me look like a fool for 7 years. It isn’t a matter of getting therapy and becoming a better man. It doesn’t matter that he may never cheat again. THE PROBLEM IS THAT HE ALREADY HAS. Unless he can find a way to un-fuck her, we are done here.
    I am getting my ducks in a row and although a lot of people shame me for still being here, I am just now able to comprehend all that has happened. I am just getting stronger and I can only handle so much at one time. But I WILL get there. And so will you.

    • I’m so sorry for your many losses. Everything you stated is beyond true. I am better than all this. I deserve better. I deserve to look out for me. I have many things to be thankful for and he is not one. He is no longer my project to fix. Wishing you healing and light in all the darkness.

  • All I could think of while reading this was WTF? Repeatedly. This guy is an amazing, sweet man? Yeah. Nope. Torn, I really think you might want to get in therapy for yourself. After decades with these FWs, our ability to see things clearly is severely damaged. Therapy can help you with that, especially before you start dating yourself.

    • I plan to go into therapy. This has been a violent trauma. I do see how messed up it all is. I have been fighting the double tragedy and trying to make sense of a situation that makes no sense

  • Torn,
    So sorry for your loss. I cannot fathom the pain of losing a child. You need to take care of yourself. Please! I understand how some people keep going and being the strong one…that I have done. But it will break you down eventually. A grown man should be able to help himself and not rely on others to keep filling the whole in his heart. Yes mental illnrss is a hard deal but people have to take the step to get thrmselves help. If all they are doing is driving you under with them then it is like trying to rescue somrone who is drowning and they cling on you as a boyancy device while they get air and you can’t.

    • Agree! He left. He needs to start talking with who he left me for. That wont happen. He doesnt want to deal. I also no longer want to deal with him. Ready to take my life back. Just not sure what it will look like

  • Torn,
    I’ve been a chump for a very, very long time. I’m late to this thread but my sense is that the full truth of his betrayal is too much to swallow right now and I get it. Let me address it at another angle. I have to be succinct or I lose my post so let me ask you to reread your letter and then reflect on your relationship with your ex. It was more parent/child, wasn’t it? He’s always been a dysfunctional partner because he has mommy issues. Being a caregiver, you took on that role.

    Let’s assume that ex believes everything he says. Let’s assume that he truly believes that he needs you. Let’s face it, you are in the mommy role. Now two quick realities. You are getting something out f being in that role but it’s nothing healthy. It’s a dysfunctional relationship and you need to go No Contact and explore it with your therapist.

    Last, consider your ex. Assuming he believes he needs you to keep him steady or whatever, staying in this dysfunctional relationship keeps him stuck, too. Exit the mommy role (no contact. Really), and allow him the freedom to be a grown up without Mommy swooping in and telling him what a good little boy he is. That he will grow up to be such a good man. Let him grow up and be a man. Or let him find another mommy. You have enough on your plate right now. You are not his mommy. It is unhealthy, especially after your horrible trauma, to continue this game. Mommy needs support. She needs peers. She needs equals. She needs to be functional for herself and her children. Ex needs to leave you alone so you can grieve and work out your own issues. It’s time for him to grow up.

    • Absolutely 100% I often said to him I don’t want to be your mom. I have read the letter and responses many times in the days that followed the posting. I have come to a more clearer head and have walked through the fog. What he did and has done is beyond cruel. My caring heart wanted to find a way to excuse his behavior, but everyone is right. There is no excuse. He has been calculating and frankly diabolical. I have been through a lot more in my life and he should have been the one person that should have shown me the empathy and respect I deserved if not for our decades and family we share, but for the empathy and respect I showed him despite all his betrayals. Moving on and not looking back

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