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Reframe It

Mindfuck blenderI often think of CN as a place to deprogram chumps from the RIC. To “decolonize the mind” in the words of the great Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o. To un-manipulate your brain.

It takes a lot of peer support and perspective to do that. And, of course, your own personal mightiness. The experience of being betrayed is so reality-shattering. So Alice in Wonderland bewildering, it takes some mental work to get things straight again.

On Tuesday’s column someone suggested a Friday Challenge of reframing your chumpy thoughts. I had written:

We give cheaters some kind of magic mojo they don’t deserve. Wow, they’re SO POWERFUL to hurt us this way. The dynamic is so whack.

Reframe it — you gave them a precious gift — your TRUST and your LOVE, and they shat on it. That makes them stupid and unworthy. They are not powerful, they are UNWORTHY of your further investment.

What have you reframed? What did you used to think, but now see in a new way? What’s helped you make sense of it all? Trust That They Suck? They’re not that deep?

TGIF! Share your wisdom and give the newbies a leg up.

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.
    • It’s Friday somewhere:) I thought it was Friday ALL day because my schedule just changed and it was my “Friday” all day:)
      Thanks for all these articles!
      I do realize cheaters are dumb. Disrespectful idiots who need constant attention or will take ANY????
      Also it’s never ever ever our fault. We’re productive attractive moral having individuals that they only dream they could be.
      Pretty much haters.
      We’ve made life too easy for them and they did exactly. SHAT. Alll over it.
      With all our attitude and craziness????????

      • “We made life too easy for them”. Yep, I made life WAY too easy for my FW and demanded way too little for myself. I will never make that mistake again.

        • DW you took the words right out of my mouth. A man-child who I pampered and took responsibility for at great sacrifice to myself for 40 years. I think it’s called Burning Martyr Syndrome! I won’t make that mistake again either.

        • DW-I tell people the SAME thing:

          I always said, “YES” to everything-even when it was harder on me.

          I gave too much to a Narc and never set proper boundaries.

    • Thank you Tracy
      You helped me enormously. I have totally reframed my life; starting with’i had no idea you were this stupid!’
      I’ve divorced, am retraining, set myself up modestly but sustainably! After 40 years/31 married; I learned that I framed his entire life, until I didn’t! When I left, everyone left with me. He is surrounded by the saddest tiny group of misogynistic racist bigoted sycophants! They are a travesty on mankind, An embarrassment to our human DNA. They sure make our gene pool shallow & swampy!
      Dearest Chump Nation; we thrive!

    • I was wondering why it was there so early today! I usually check during the day and it’s often not till 10pm (ish) that it appears. I get excited to get to bed and read it. I AM living alone for the first time in decades after all and loving it cos I’m FREE. Love ❤️ it CL. Makes my day, poor little chump.

    • Looking back I was the wife appliance who provided the hearth and home and “family” man persona while he pursued the drunk salt life. I will reframe that energy to restart my life , continuing to pursue education, career, independence, while still being there for providing guidance to my adult kids.
      Have at it

      • This is what I’m doing. He took up so much of my energy throughout our marriage. Now I’m refocusing it on myself and going back to school. I thought it was going to be hard but it’s actually been quite easy. I didn’t realize how much of a weight around my neck he was.

      • Yeah, me too Gray. I was wife appliance for 30 years to a supposedly good Christian man. He worked at our church. Both me and the church provided him with the respectability he wanted to cover for his extra curricular activities – frequenting Asian massage parlors, cruising the city red-light district for prostitutes, hanging out and getting inebriated with sketchy men and women. A seedy, sleazy other life I knew nothing about.

        He now has a new wife appliance; he actually married one of his massage girl sex workers! (He tells everyone he met her at Starbucks.) I have no doubt he is continuing his disgusting activities. Or he will as soon as the sparkles fade with his whore wife.

        Honestly, I’m not sure how to reframe all of that. It’s a mind f*ck that the person I spent more than half my life with was someone I really didn’t know at all. I do take pride in the fact that I wasted no time divorcing his slimy ass and got a pretty good deal for myself in the divorce. I’ve landed on my feet and am comfortable and content.

        One thing I know for certain. I was fooled for more than 30 years, but I will NOT be fooled again!

  • I used to think my husband was a good person. Not just any ol’ good person, but the BEST person. Much more charitable and definitely the more thoughtful of the two of us. He loved animals, was kind to my parents, opened doors for old ladies… I always felt like I’d hit the marriage lottery because he was obviously way too good for me. Later he opened the door for a 25 year old smoopie and burned my life to the ground. It took 2 or 3 years to realize how I was the better person. He helped animals because I rescued them, I ran myself silly helping to take care of HIS parents. I open doors for people and still somehow manage not to sleep with them. I am a good person. I was the one too good for him.

    • Love this…” I open doors for people and still somehow manage not to sleep with them”
      ????
      Me too!!!
      Funny how easy it is to just open a door, let someone pass and not even THINK about sleeping with them!

      But, then again, we are just plain, normal, kind chumps. I’m happy to be a member of this gang!

    • I feel this too. I used to think that, between the two of us, my H was the more clever and talented one. I didn’t think all that much of myself, I guess.

      It’s been years and I’m still reprogramming myself to see that I’m actually all the things I thought he was.

      • Same!! I looked up to him so much. I believed in his act of being generous, humble, caring and he turned out to be the precise opposite. The only quality left is I guess intelligence, but his talent turned out to be in sharp contrast with his emotional intelligence.

        I sometimes wonder if I’d meet him for the first time today, would I still address him all these qualities? For a part maybe (his outside shell seemed very authentic) but I would notice quite quickly that his attention to me was superficial, and that his attitude to sex was fishy.

        After this I promised myself to never, ever put any partner on a pedestal ever again. It’s a pattern I had repeated before and it’s a recipe for unequal relationships.

    • Robin….. me too. I thought XH was the “better” half and I was the “high maintenance” one. Not! That was probably a result of his emotional abuse.

      • Isn’t that a strange projection! I did it too. I would like to understand this phenomenon more. Why did I project my best qualities on him? It’s still so hard to believe that he’s the opposite. With the lying and the rages, and cheating. None of which I did. Is it because he would listen to something I said and then reword it right back to me as if it was his own thought? How odd. I’m going to have to really think this one over. This was a real eyeopener for me.

        • Pet
          Maybe the Narcs mirror us so well that we spiritually recognize ourselves in them Until they drop the mask. ?

          • I think it’s in part because we don’t know our own worth… therefore we feel lucky to be with them. And we focus on the good in them and the shortcomings in us. Some would say that we unconsciously train them to devalue us because we devalue ourselves. Whether you believe that or not, it seems that a lot of chumps had their fuckwit on a pedestal – that means they had to look down to see us.

          • Mine mirrored me so perfectly that she tested as INFP.

            These days of course She’s ENTJ. A complete personality transformation.

          • I think everyone mirrors according their own values and wishes. If anything, I wanted to prove to my fw that I was a loving person and wanted best for him. So I thought that, even some behavior was off, that in the end he meant things well. It was only after time that I realized he really doesn’t care, and it was quite a discovery these kind of people existed.

            • I think that is a fair statement.

              I know I had always known (soon after we were married at age 18) that the ex had a selfish streak. I know I tried to do things to make him happy.

              I think in a small degree that is healthy, it is part of helping each other. When it becomes one sided, well that is how many of us end up discarded when they have used us up.

              • Yes indeed.

                The other way round, it’s very telling when people distrust you, it means they also calculate according to their own (low) standards.

        • I also thought my husband was smarter, more level-headed, braver, less anxious, more optimistic, better with money, more fun, more secure, etc. Weirdly when he dumped me after 25 years I realized just how much projection he’d done. I was in such a mindfuck that I lost myself completely. I don’t think my self esteem was that low- I had help getting there and staying there. I know because even at my rick bottom, traumatized state I felt like a different person after he left. And not one of the things he told me about myself was true. In reality I’m the fun, brave, smart, successful, likable optimistic one. Who knew? I’m really angry that he managed to change my belief in myself so radically.

    • Robin, exactly. I had mine on a pedestal…. so high… he was extremely kind, generous, giving and thoughtful … I am also those things… maybe partly because I’m a woman (?) but I din’t get all the accolades he did. I work on reframing all his outward loveliness from what I thought was a true caring nature to what I know was a need to be praised all the time.

      He’s now being all these wonderful things to the OW. MR Wonderful has been reframed into Mr Fake who wasn’t worthy of me.
      I will never feel so ‘lucky’ to be with someone again. Strangely, although on the one hand – all this has been demoralizing and heartbreaking – it’s also made me know my worth a little bit more. Because I don’t have his BS, covert, lack of integrity, passive aggressive, untruthful side. He’s actually really selfish underneath the fake selfless persona.

      Thank you Chumplady, I was the one who suggested the reframing challenge because our thoughts matter…..and it takes effort and reminders to keep the thoughts where they should be.

      • Thank you Zip and Chump Lady.

        Reframing is really important especially if you have tried RIC or Marriage counselors. The very first thing they do is have you share what you “Value or Cherish or Love” about your partner. For 15 years I would say he’s a great father. He is very loving with the step kids. He is a great provider. BLAH BLAH BLAH. I feel almost brainwashed.

        Reframed: You are not a great father when you are lying, gaslighting, manipulating, blameshifting, and triangulating the kids against their own mother to cover for your cheating and to make yourself feel better about what you did!! THAT IS ABUSE!
        A great provider: He spent over $60,000 on DUI lawyers and fines. He spent over $20,000 drinking in 15 years. He spent untold amount for happy endings, motels, porn etc. THAT IS FINANCIAL ABUSE!

        I’m doing so much better since I stopped affair recovery and MC. Those programs didn’t address the TRUTH! When I would say those things about him—- WHY didn’t they point out what’s so obvious to me now???? It’s almost like abuse in itself to keep someone blind to reality.

        • I don’t see how they can ask what you loved about them because for the most part, if not all of what you loved about them wasn’t real. And even if it was real, how do you know it was real.

        • chump no more, I agree- cheaters are not great parents. Even the ones who pay support, who are still involved….think about what this does to kids and their mindset. You cannot compartmentalize being a cheater. When I think about what the fuckwit taught his daughter through his discarding and sad sausage outlook. Something along the lines of- if a man betrays you, show him compassion because he just wasn’t happy and didn’t have the tools- and don’t trust what’s in front of your eyes because you can think you’re happily married but your husband might just change his mind because maybe underneath all the fake show he really wasn’t happy (and it’s your fault ) so watch your back at all times…. I could go on. The underlying messages are so harmful…
          I used to think fuckwit was an amazing father.
          Reframe to he wasn’t. He was a sad sausage dad.

          • My fuckwit seemed actually a great father of his kids from a previous relationship. He had full time custody, which I considered a good sign. It took me a long time to realize he didn’t use his caring qualities for the women in his life (at least for me), and if there is anything that would make me doubt about my judgment, it’s that. I mean, the guy is in line with 90% of what is this described on this blog, but he genuinely seemed to care about his kids, and his kids seemed happy too. Maybe he treats them well because they carry his sparkling set of genes?

            Having said that, he is a very very lousy example of how to treat women and this will certainly not help when the kids grow older.

            • Giraffy, One of the things that gave me complete confidence about marrying H#2 is that he had a wonderful relationship with his two young adult children. They adored him and had him on a pedestal-even though I later found out he had abruptly discarded their mother after a long marriage. That’s not how it was presented to me.
              But they wanted him to be happy. In his family, his happiness is very important and it justifies his actions.
              He was also an amazing stepfather to my kids, they loved him with all their heart and soul.
              But the fact that he discarded us /his 2nd blended so to speak/ family one day to the next for a 3rd family negates all the wonderfulness he showed to his step-kids. It would’ve been better off if my kids had never met him.
              And his own children had to go through all of the getting to know and love their stepsiblings, getting to know me etc. adapting to the new situation… Only to have the rug pulled out grog under their feet – and they also have had to adjust to the latest steps siblings and stepmom.
              If you discard your spouse and or betray them (and all the things we’ve learned comes with that) you cannot at the same time claim to be a wonderful parent. Children don’t know any better, they want to love their parent.
              But his wonderful adult daughter has a very difficult time with relationships….. I’m very confident it’s because of how she’s processed how her glorious father has treated women. His adult son has also had a lot of issues with women. He won’t show them any affection… Probably because his father was Mr. romantic, affectionate man/discarder.

              Cheating doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

              For children it is so hard because it’s primal to want to think the best of your parents… In some ways they are a reflection of you. Imagine the cognitive dissonance they go through when on the one hand their parent treated them like gold but on the other hand he treated their mom and in my case me -their stepmom like shit(by discarding) but justified it because he’s a sad sausage broken person who made a mistake and wasn’t happy????
              The story is there was no affair with the sudden bulldozing of his first marriage… But now of course I think that’s probably not true. The secret is probably just well kept.

              • Thank you Zip for your reply. This is a topic that I was thinking about a lot and you’re the first person to provide me a thoughtful answer 🙂

                I used to think that people are neither completely good, neither completely bad. And of course there are scales of narcissistic behavior, up to the true personality disorders. But I agree with what you say: their behaviour doesn’t happen in a vacuum. This is why I’m pretty confident he will not be much better to his current partner/victim. He is making his entire entourage suffer, including his children, just to get what he wanted at that moment. It’s ridiculous and ugly, yet so few people see it for what it is, as affectionate relationships can be blinding.

                Cleaning up the mess they left you behind in takes so much work, while they just move on harming other people. And of course for not one second they will have a second thought about it.

      • I was googling ‘kindness’ to understand why I’d been such a sucker with the FW and came across something called self-sacrificing schema especially emotional deprivation schema from childhood where your emotional needs are not met and as a result you become self-sacrificing because you felt unworthy and unlovable. You sacrifice your own best interests for other people (read FWs) because you don’t deserve to put yourself first. Until one day the mask drops off and you see the real FW as I did and started putting myself first.

        • And it is not easy to switch to putting yourself first. It took me a few months to really get how to do it.

          We being normal people with empathy have to balance it with treating others as we want to be treated.

          My own dad told me to think of what I want, spoil myself etc. That helped a lot. I was raised by the golden rule, and I had to make sure I was looking out for my own interest. That is why I hired a kick ass lawyer, I knew he could likely still manipulate me, so I hired someone to think for me.

          I literally told that lawyer, “I can not think, I need help”

      • Giraffy, I agree people are complicated. As far as the population of cheaters go… Mine was one of the better ones????.
        For me, I found this made it even harder – because while my kids and I were going through trauma, he was being Mr. nice guy- but yet still bulldozing our lives. Genuinely good people don’t have affairs while always pretending that everything is great and then dump one day to the next. It was so confusing… I kept waiting for him to come back because he was showing so much kindness and what could be perceived as love to all of us while he was moving out.
        Even though everything looks great on his end, 0W is posting away on her open Facebook page -and former in-laws are commenting on all her posts about their great life-I have to reframe it to they are simply disordered people.
        I blocked them all on Facebook, but then one day I googled her name to see if she still worked at his company… And she had put her Facebook public after I blocked it. So it came up and I got to see that she is living my former life with him. The furniture I bought with him is in the pictures! I need a sponsor that I can contact next time I get the urge to google sparkly Twatt’s name. It’s one thing to break up 2 families with children for your latest twu wov- but to post about it on an open Facebook page just says it all: 0 empathy, disordered narcs.

        • I am always amazed at the gall of the whores.

          FB was not around when we split, but it came on by the time the grandchildren were little. I looked at her FB in the beginning, just to see pics of the grandchildren, and likely just a bit curious.

          It actually helped me because, first of all there weren’t many grandchildren pics, so I wasn’t missing anything, and second she had gained massive amounts of weight, (sorry, but I got a kick out of that) and her whole site was filled with “praise the Lords” and Christian sayings. Unbelievable. There was only one pic of my ex, my son said he hated FB, so he refused to co-operate.

          I am guessing he preferred to stay out of sight. I will give him that much credit.

          That was years ago, so who knows what is there now.

          • The gall is exactly it! Two weeks after our separation agreement she was posting gifts he gave her on her open page! Who does that!
            I had zero to do with his separation from his 1st wife but I knew it’s not what she wanted. I was always sensitive to that and acted accordingly.
            Reframe- FW OW and FW are a perfect match.

            • Same here. I did not even know my now H when he and his wife divorced. I always tried to treat his kids with respect in regard to their mother. In H’s case she wanted the D, and he was very hurt, but still there is a time for sensitivity.

              But, who are we kidding a two liars/cheaters are not exactly good candidates for sensitivity.

              • ???? yeah why is it surprising that they get off on pouring salt in the wound – or are they oblivious?
                I remember not even wanting to be in the car and his ex-wife’s driveway – even though I met him a year after they were separated!
                Chumps really are kind souls.

        • Arf Zip, Facebook can indeed be a toxic place to go. :-/ I also learned the hard way.

          In my case I made the mistake to look on the FW’s account, where he proudly announced – with a big photo of just himself sitting behind a birthday cake – that his family was “growing”, i.e. he got some woman pregnant just months (weeks?) after he saying he wanted a baby with me.

          Context: this came after a 1,5 years of him being in a relationship with a single mother after our break-up, only to avoid the perspective of having a third child. It was his perfect excuse to break up with me, in my mid-thirties, with no children. During this year and a half he hoovered me many times, always using the baby as an excuse to not build a future with me and to just have sexual adventures. I refused every time except once, which of course lead to a whole load of crap happening. I didn’t know about NC and all the essential stuff back then.

          Similar to what you describe, it feels as is he is now living the life he imagined with me with her. He always made me feel so replacable. But what is the point of discarding and replacing someone, only to reconstruct the same thing?? They really have no original ideas of themselves…

    • Robin,

      ‘I used to THINK…..’

      That thinking got me into a lot of denial too and only recently, I am just at 4 years dday, am I beginning to see the results of MY THINKING.

      My thinking led me to feeling less than and as a consequence of believing that it made me totally deny my feelings and intuition.

      Actually I turned my feelings against myself with the, “It’s my fault” line of thinking and it made me hone in on his feelings to the exclusion/deadening of mine.

      DISGUST

      Last week someone mentioned the book, ‘Cheating in a Nutshell’. (All about how cheating effects US.)

      I ordered it and that is when the above realization hit me between the eyes.

      Second chapter is on DISGUST.

      As I read about disgust I realized I had felt that early on in our relationship and it totally confused me so I thought something was wrong with me.

      Well, fast forward and the re-frame whipped my head right around – threw my eyes wide open and my old ‘something is wrong with me’ disappeared immediately.

      Mr. X was a serial cheater from the get-go This I found out shortly after dday. (Together for over 30 years.)

      WOW. My body knew this and I didn’t ‘get it’!

      The authors explain that the emotion is a guardian angel. It warns us to stay away from things that can hurt us physically, emotionally and hurt our very souls.

      And the authors see it as soooo important that they devoted the entire second chapter of the book to it….Anger doesn’t get its chance until chapter 3..

      So what I am now excited about is this waking up of MY emotions and what they are telling me for MY benefit! Indeed re-framing my life and discovering myself.

      Apparently the saying: ‘old dogs can learn new tricks’ is true. I just had to get older/more mature to realize it. 🙂

      Thanks to all who post here and to your comment!

  • I don’t think of anniversary of d-day as “day x moved out.” It’s now the day I started living alone, and since I hadn’t lived alone before, it’s a cool thing to celebrate!

    • You are right, it’s like a new beginning. I married young and moved out of home straight in with cheater, now decades later I have my freedom as an adult finally and it feels great.

    • I really like a comment from another chump on a different post who referred to D-Day as Freedom Day. Changed my perspective – a year and a half later I’m a lot better off and I can reframe it as my freedom day too!

      • It absolutely was for me. I’d been unhappy with my cheater for a long time but was willing to put up with a lot when I thought he was trustworthy and loyal.

        Once I realized he wasn’t I was out.

        If it hadn’t been for his whore I’d probably still be slogging along with a nasty, phony, passive aggressive conflict avoidant prick that was 20 years older and couldn’t get it up.

        Hmm….maybe I should send her a gift card?

        ????????????

        • Kim,

          Some days I think I should send a thank-you card too because she really, really did do me a favor for all the reasons you posted above.

          I would have stayed forever and missed the life I have now, which isn’t by any means easy, but ‘my worst days now are better than my best days with him’. Never thought I would say those words…..

          Truly feel like I escaped with my sanity and saved my soul because the thought of being with him after knowing he is a serial cheater and sexual predator creeps me out beyond disgust.

          I have to honestly add that what I miss is the fantasy of who I thought he was and who I was in that fantasy and the life/future I thought we had. It really was a lovely fantasy 🙂

          • It wasn’t a fantasy for you, so you weren’t living a fantasy life. You were building something authentic on your side. Your partner was the fraud. We all found this out when we built our half of the bridge and ended up starring at the empty void where their half was supposed to be when we reached the middle.

            Keep being your authentic self, Elderly. We need all the real people we can get in this world.

      • Thank you for commenting about Dday being reframed as freedom day as I will agree with that. One thing from my ex wife that really stands out is from hidden camera footage that caught her still cheating. This was at home and there she was on camera giving me hugs and kisses and acting all innocent, within five minutes of me going upstairs and leaving her alone she was straight onto her phone and taking her shirt down and taking sexual photo of herself to send to other men. This was less than three days after Dday and her fake tears and lies about not wanting me to divorce her nor leave. How she was not contacting any men and how she regretted everything. Thankfully I had filed for divorce two days before she was caught on video. That video killed me but it also gave headed me towards freedom. Hard to believe it was only one year ago.

        • Martina McBride ” Independence Day ”

          Well she knew it wasn’t right, no sleep that night
          So she contacted a lawyer with whom to speak
          No use to pretend he wasn’t cheating AGAIN
          Cause the proof’s on his phone, take a peak
          And I was only 30 years old that summer
          And I was trying to understand why he chose to betray
          So I took myself down the the best lawyer in town
          On Independence Day

          I made sure word got around, it was a small, small town
          An arrogant man, said he did because “ I can “
          But I wasn’t cowed, I stood my ground
          Cause I knew he was on the losin’ end
          Some folk whispered and most folks talked
          But everybody had their own say
          And the truth came out beyond any doubt
          On Independence Day

          Take off that ring, give it a good fling
          The whole town will know that today
          Is a day of reckoning
          Let the weak be strong, the right will never be wrong
          It will all be OK, let the guilty pay
          It’s Independence Day

          Good riddance and good-bye, no more wondering why
          By the time the decree came
          They both signed their name
          To the law you must now comply
          Now I’m sayin adultery is wrong
          And divorce may be not be the only way
          But each choose your own solution
          It’s Independence Day

      • Mine was most definitely Freedom Day. I call it My 4th of July…. because it was on 4th July 2020. I will forever celebrate my very own Independence Day. I’m English and in the UK so that day is just another day usually. I have a BBQ planned for that day this year and will party, party, party with my family.????????????

        Hugs to all who are here ❤️

      • Small But Mighty,

        Indeed!

        Another example of how changing one word can change ones world view! In this case it was changing a mere letter into a new word into a new perspective.

        Freedom is right although I certainly didn’t know it then and now I am exactly 4 years out from ‘F’-Day.

        Love that I learn something new here almost daily that keeps expanding my world into a much better world. Out with the old and in with the new.

    • CCC,

      In a similar vein, the day Ex-Mrs LFTT moved out was the day that our 3 kids (then 11, 16 and 18 and now 17, 22 and 24) and I started to build a much better life. That was over 5 1/2 years ago now, and the four of us are – give or take the odd bump in the road – in a much better place; we all felt a weight lifted off of our collective shoulders when she finally went off to enjoy her new “fabulous” life with her AP.

      We rock and she sucks!

      LFTT

  • So many nuggets of sanity from this group helped me, but I’d say these three were tops: Trust that they suck, Be the sane parent, and NO CONTACT. Thank you, Chump Lady! ???? ????

    • My favorite nugget is from Maya Angelou “ When someone shows you who they are,
      believe them “.
      It took me awhile to understand that this applies to bad behavior.
      Someone isn’t having a bad day, feeling ill, work stress, depressed, etc etc.
      This is showing you their real selves.
      Dump them like a hot potato.

  • I used to think that we were so incredibly in sync. We never fought and always agreed. Now I understand that he didn’t care. He just wanted me to do all the work and he was indifferent to whatever the outcome would be. Now I can do whatever I want and not have to worry about his (lack of) opinion. Feels freeing to realize that. CL, have a great vacation!!

    • Boom… mic drop… well said LTT:

      He just wanted me to do all the work and he was indifferent to whatever the outcome would be.

    • I had the same marriage. Never fought, for twenty years he liked what I liked, disliked what I disliked, had the same opinions. We were so in sync! You know how heartbroken and bewildering being chumped was.

      I’ve reframed it as….he purposely reflected me back to myself because he was psychologically messed up he had zero sense of self. He just wasn’t…..there. And if I look at other relationships he had with others like family and friends I see it too. He is whatever whoever he is next to needs or wants or expects him to be. Like a sociopath or skinwalker. He is just who you need. I look at his known affairs and the chick he left me for and I see it too. And it’s terrifying. It’s the shit of serial killers and true crime stories and I’m lucky he’s not my husband anymore.

      • Beans, were you married to my ex or was I? You have described my ex-husband exactly. To his clients, to anyone we spent time with, he morphed into who they were and he had no absolutely no conviction or sense of self. And no empathy at all. But, as he was morphing into who he thought he should be at the moment, he always one-upped them. If their situation was bad, his was worse. If their situation was good, his was better. But never, never was it based in truth. I was stunned . . . how did he keep track of the endless lies? Somehow he was able to always dance around and was never caught or challenged. Charming, charming, charming.

        To anyone reading this, please be aware that the little white lies, the embellishments, are in fact of huge consequence. We went to counseling years ago and the f*&^ing therapist didn’t challenge him as to why he lied. Decades later, his little white lies turned into an affair that he believed he was entitled to. Do not ignore the little signs along the way – they are a road map to where your narcissistic spouse is likely to end up.

      • Beans, this sounds exactly like my ex. It is terrifying. Wasband acted like he had no life at all before he met me- he adopted everything of mine, started using the same brand of toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrush and liked the same food-down to ice cream. At first I thought it was so sweet that we were so compatible until he started stealing my exact words from conversations between the 2 of us and using them in conversations with other people. He would copy and paste my opinions, even when he seemingly disagreed in conversation with me. For example, on financial budgets, I had to fight to get us to save money, yet in conversation with other people he would suddenly be the expert of saving money-taking all my ideas and presenting them as his own. I do not talk much in a crowd, so I would watch and listen-it terrified me. I enjoy reading the news, and I would share what I read with him, then he would present it in a group setting as evidence of how clued up he was about current affairs and world events. It was so bad that he copied my prayers sometimes(we took turns praying out loud), it took me a while to realise he had no known Bible verses of his own but he would repeat whatever I said in my prayers when it was his turn. I watched him switch like a chameleon from pious Christian, to que sera sera frequently. My head aches just thinking about it and my heart races as I remember the fear I felt living with a chameleon.

        • “He started stealing my exact words from conversations between the 2 of us and using them in conversations with other people. ” Yes, repeated phrases of mine to others, but, never gave me credit. Actually took credit for a Costume Contest we entered (and won), when the idea and all of the artwork was MINE! He didn’t have a creative bone in his body. Post d-day, found an article in his work newsletter (where he was considered the audio book guru) of course, something that I had introduced him to. He actually used my description of why audio books are enjoyable and actually stated that he just finished the audio books that I had listened to. Of course, no mention of my involvement. Yes, this is all creepy and crazy.

          • My ex was a bit like this too… He would harp on about how we never argued and his mum questioned it once and said ‘A relationship always has ups and downs’. He really thought it was amazing, but now I think about it, it is due to the fact that at first he took on my personality in some ways. He’d use my words etc.
            As time went on, we would argue and I was doing less of what I enjoyed and more of the day to day work of running a family home, kids and having a full time job. He once said ‘You have no hobbies or interests anymore’. It wasn’t that I didn’t, I just had no time for it and was exhausted and it later dawned on me that he was pissed as he had nothing to mirror properly.

            Now he is married to the OW he loves theatre, musicals, uses the word ‘Ace’ a lot and lots of other things that just weren’t on his radar before. He’s a new man. All of sudden, he’s had a child with OW and he now dotes on his kids with me again. Before they were an inconvenience. He spends time with his family again, but before wouldn’t speak to his mum or dad.

            Before D-Day he became obsessed with Tom Petty. I now know why! He kept going on about how he doesn’t understand why he never listened to him before.

            It’s truly cringeworthy now!

            • I noticed that with my ex wife! She started talking different and using more slang type language that she had never used in our 15 years together. Words that to her as an American living in the UK were not usual for her. She started to change and I truly don’t know who or what it is she become but my psychiatrist believes without a doubt based on all the evidence they have seen and what I went through that she may have a personality disorder. They are sadly whatever they need to be to get whatever the hell they think it is they need. It’s a sad way to exist having no real identity. No real soul at the core.

        • Isn’t that called mirroring when they take on your identity/personality traits? Now we know from being chumped that that is a huge red flag and a major sign of personality disorder.

      • Beans:

        “He is whatever whoever he is next to needs or wants or expects him to be. Like a sociopath or skinwalker. He is just who you need.”

        EXACTLY! Like a chameleon, changing his external appearance/behavior to fit the situation. It reminds me of Julia Roberts in the movie, “Runaway Bride”; she ate whatever eggs her fiancé ate… scrambled, over easy, fried, Benedict… whatever allowed her to fit in. And she didn’t even like eggs!

      • Beans, my XH was exactly like this too. I thought we had the best marriage imaginable for 23 years until he was caught on Dday and the mask slipped. It’s been nearly 7 years and the cognitive dissonance between who I thought he was and who he really is still baffles me.

        I’m no contact and I don’t try to untangle the skein of fuckedupedness… I TRUST he sucks.

      • YES! this! and it has been so hard to put into words! I think this is way more common and so hard to define. What I could never understand was if we agree on everything (but it was just him saying yes and reflecting back to me whatever I said as if he agreed the same) why are we so OUT of sync. It’s like the second the conversation was over and I thought we had agreed on a course of action he would just go back to whatever it was he was doing in the first place. This makes me absolutely mental.

      • This is so scary Beans.

        My STBXWW got smashed on Vodka one time and my mother came over (a very conservative woman). They talked about their love of the church and I kept looking at her, like “who are you?” When my mother left, I looked at her quizzically. She said:

        “I can be anything to anyone that they need me to be at anytime.”

        She was blacked out… so she says… and denies saying it. I don’t think she meant to let the mask slip.

        The stuff of nightmares…

        • dogcopter, I literally said those words to him: “who ARE you??”

          The acting had been so good that when his betrayal was discovered, I was astonished that he had been able to pull off the Mr. I-Value-Honesty role for years. I had bought it hook, line, and sinker. The reveal was a shocker. I didn’t really know him at all.

          • Same here. Before D-day, I went through STBX’s email and saw that he wrote my son’s rock-climbing teacher and said he wanted to hire him as a guide to summit Mount Rainier. WTH? He has never shown any interest in hiking or climbing even the tiniest hills and now he was scheduled to summit Mount Rainier? It made zero sense. Later I found out that he was deep into an affair with the OW who likes hiking and so he pretended that he is a regular at the summit. His lies were whoppers and he really didn’t care if they were easily verifiable or not. He doesn’t stop until his lies were as big as they could possibly be. He didn’t climb just any mountain–why, it had to be the biggest one in the state. He lies, he cheats, he steals. He likes the thrill of deception. He is absolutely addicted to it.

            I still remember when we were newlyweds at a dinner party, my boss asked him what his hobbies were. Without hesitation, he said baking (he had never baked a thing in his life). My boss was so impressed and asked him what his specialty is. He said cheesecake (he hates cheesecake). I asked him about it afterward and he said he was just bored so he was just having fun seeing how far he could take it. I brushed it off then but now, after 23 years of marriage that collapsed under the weight of his fraudulent behavior, I can’t stop thinking about that cheesecake moment. “He was bored so he was just having fun seeing how far he could take it” is pretty much the summary of his many, many pathologies.

    • He didn’t care. This most definitely. The mirroring, like he was trying on the skin of a person he tried to be by being with me. He never had a true form. It’s so fucking creepy when I think about it.

    • Yeah, this was mine too. I think it’s why he resented me so much by the end as well. Because he did have opinions but instead of talking to me (even when I begged him to give input because handling everything by myself was exhausting) he just silently seethed with resentment. He wouldn’t participate, he pretended he agreed but inside he was full of contempt and despised me for not reading his mind.

      It’s amazing not having to deal with that mind fuck anymore.

      • EXACTLY. Ex Mr Beans had this down to a science. Any adult decision to be made would be met with oh whatever you want baby! I don’t care! Whatever you think! So you make the decision and he says it looks great. And this is repeated ad nauseum throughout your marriage. You get to the point where you barely even ask because he never cares. You always end up with the responsibility of the decision. It bothers you somewhere in the back of your mind.

        But he did care. What he wanted you to do was to do what he wanted without him having to state his opinion. Read his mind, please. Because to him any adult discussion or debate was a CONFRONTATION. Or fight in his mind. When in your mind you’re just hashing out the particulars of blue on the walls versus grey.

        So you paint the walls grey and he seethes about it for ten years or so. And then he tells you about it during a fight over the affair you discovered when his mistress shows up on your porch. Because he had no control, no say, ever! You always just do what you want and steamroll him! He never has a choice!!!!

        And then you realize that to him every single time you didn’t agree with him, and I mean emphatically agree, was a fight, a conflict, a war to him. He’s that big of a disordered wimp.

        • Beans, every time you disagreed with him is also a resentment. They don’t forget and use the resentment as justification to cheat.
          There’s a war we know nothing about but they make sure they win.

    • Chumpupthejam, my Ex sometimes dropped strange little white lies too. For example, we bumped into some people we knew and for no reason he came out with this complete fabrication of what we had been up to that day. There was absolutely no reason to put this lie into the conversation, nobody cared what we had been up to.
      He caught me off guard and I blurted out “no we didn’t!” It was so embarrassing. I regretted making him look like a liar and I was so confused as to why he made up a silly story about what we had been doing that morning. The other couple just quickly changed the subject.
      When we got back in the car I asked him why he lied, he was irritated and said ‘ what difference does it make? I’m just making conversation and keeping everyone happy.´

  • This is such a good topic… right now, with Mr. Sparkles now newly engaged to his latest victim, I am reframing the narrative that he has the emotional depth and capability to love anyone (other than himself) enough to enter in to marriage as intended – for life.

    For me, the reframe is… he does not love her – he loves that she loves him… he does not dream of an everlasting future with her – he needs something from her (likely money) and marriage will give him access… he will not stay married to her – he has a left 3 relationships (two marriages, all with kids) and they say a serial killer is identified after 3 cases… 3 = a clinical pattern… his children (all adults now) acknowledge he is “sick”, but feel powerless (as they are) to intervene.

    Chump Nation and Chump Lady saved my sanity and my life. If you are new here and just dealing with the fallout, be thankful you have found this tribe. You may not always like what you hear, but the more you come back… go no contact/grey rock… and hire a kickass lawyer, the better your life will become. You will be ok. You can do this.

    Rock on Chump Nation – you are warriors!

  • He always said the right thing, but rarely did his words match his behavior/actions. I kept believing his words. I have learned to reframe it using the phrase: “Actions Not Words”. Patterns of behavior are what show the truth. If you are experiencing cognitive dissonance, then take a very close look at their Actions vs Words.

    • Same thing. Our first therapist asked me what I loved about him. I said, ‘I know he’s so good under all of this.’ She said, ‘You may believe he’s going to be good someday, but he’s showing no signs of living what he’s talking.’ That was the first of many wake up calls.

    • The words to actions ratio was lost in me. . I kept believing the words. Even when he got his own apartment because he needed a “man cave”
      for his books and papers.
      Even as I am healing now 10 months after leaving I still feel the pangs of my own gullable stupidity being revealed. The pandemic blew the roof off the shabby house of lies I was living in. I’m getting a bit queasy as I realize how flagrant the lie of our togetherness was.
      His actions said I’m a single guy, his gas-lit words suggested .”we are going to make this work”.

      • We’ve all been there CFtC, go easy on yourself. It is good to note you were gullible so you you have a more critical eye of future people but don’t be hard on yourself. What really helped me with this was CL saying this duplicity was his shame to bear not yours. You loved with your whole heart and you entered into the relationship and the stormy times with integrity and a willingness to do the work to keep it going. You should be proud of that.

        It’s been a long time for me and I live with a duality I never would have thought could be peaceful. I was played and I am responsible for not putting myself first in many instances and that that doesn’t feel great great. But I brought my best self and gave it everything I had and I’m proud of that.

        It left me wiser , gave me a chance to get to know myself on a deeper level and now I trust but verify. I’m glad it happened but it sure did suck at the time. Be gentle with yourself and be your own best friend.

    • I was in a strange place because Cheater was backwards of most. Many of his ACTIONS were reasonable while his WORDS were destructive poison.

      He worked hard and let me handle the family finances (even though he spent too much money on some stuff I still had control). He helped around the house and we had a good home vibe when he wasn’t raging….but the way he spoke to me was awful…all day, every day. The criticism was incessant.

      He SAID he was going to divorce me then didn’t. After Day, he SAID he was going to start a company and hire OW and I had no say in it (then didn’t do it).

      This was so strange when I would read to “ignore words and watch actions” …he was a certain sort of FW. I dont know if anyone else has one like him, but if you do, be cautious…the FW will still take you down.

      He knew that words were my love language so he used words to keep me off-balance. I look back and see the if I looked like I was getting strong, he destroyed me with words to keep me in check. It worked.

      • I understand your feelings about the incessant criticism. ???????????? My XW criticized me every day. It got to the point where when she asked me what I wanted for anniversary I would say “one day where you are nice to me and don’t criticize me”. She never did it.

  • I used to be so bewildered by FW’s behavior. I could never figure out exactly what was going on: how he’d turn things around on me, gaslight me, keep me off-balance by having peripheral female friends, his dismissiveness…and then list goes on.

    Of course, now I know he’s a textbook narcissist. It’s laughable just how predictable he is – garden-variety, unremarkable, unoriginal.

    Now I can see what he’s going to do from miles away and I know he’s a damaged, pathetic little man. His AP (who I’ve named Penis Flytrap) can have that. Meh.

    • Penis Flytrap! OMG…the creativity of the names on here absolutely make my day. It’s only this group who can understand the healing power of this type of creativity. I made a scrap book of the shit sandwich that I’m in, which includes poems, drawings, emails, grafitti’d family photos and I entitled the scrap book, “Fuck you and the whores you rode in on.” I love the creative process for healing. My last creative project was ripping his wedding suit to shreds and using a Sharpie to make some really great comments about just what I thought about him, his body parts and his cheating. It was the best therapy ever! I really wanted to donate it to an art gallery and have it displayed, but one day I had enough and I threw it away instead. I feel bad for the landfill having to keep that thing!

    • I love that name! I thought calling mine Hovid-19 for how fast she spreads was good but penis flytrap is just brilliant.

  • Discovering this site after reading the book truly gave me the clear thinking to see how things really were. You all have empowered me with your stories to stand strong. Honestly, I’m to meh on some days. Other days, not.
    I don’t want him. I just want my life to be a bit more joy filled.

    • Shelly, Same for me. Read the book then found CL’s blog which both gave me some clarity. Some days are tougher than others but my Beagle boy furbaby keeps me going and hanging out for Meh. I don’t want FW either but more joy in my life would be nice. You guys are awesome!

  • When I kept blaming myself over & over for his cheating & abandonment, I finally got it one day. I GOT IT. I was valuing myself through his eyes & not my own! He had chipped away at my self-esteem until he had finally took it with him. I had to get that sucker back. Yes, there was the usual counseling, exercise, eating well, connecting with supportive people, but it was the guided meditations & yoga that really made my spirit soar. I have been healing at the core & not just on the surface. Yes, some days still hurt but I’m strong enough to know it will pass & get less & less. And yes, I do trust my ex sucks.

  • The best reframe came from CL, thank you ❤️. I was struggling to deal with the loss of my family after I had spent 7 years since the first d-day pick me dancing to keep us together. While reading LACGAL, I came across this sentence “Your kids have an intact family – you and them. Now it’s just minus one fuckwit.” It changed everything for me. From that moment, Not only did I realise that I did have an intact family but also that my girls and I could actually become a much better family minus that loser – and we did! The three of us have become incredibly close, we go on family holidays, we have our own new traditions and we all feel a sense of peace in our home. It is a place where we all feel safe to be ourselves and are supported by each other. In fact, both of my older girls have been asking if we can build a multi generational home so they never have to leave.

    • Build the multi generational home. Live with your girls forever…

      My oldest daughter moved in with me along with her husband and my 3 grandchildren (a month after DDay as she feared for my mental wellbeing). It’s chaos, messy, noisy and hectic. But I’ve never felt so at peace. It’s truly wonderful, utter bliss! It was to be temporary but we are going to make it permanent. I love it. I’m truly grateful everyday for my very ‘in tact’ family.

      Thanks to the CN tribe for being my rock ❤️

    • Beautiful! Mine don’t want to live with me haha, but yes – we are a close and solid family unit too. They are wonderful to me and don’t look to their dad for anything meaningful. Learning to receive and relish their love simply because they find me lovable, and to accept their help and support because they want to give it has been a big reframing of my concept of myself for me.

    • Yes, the sense of peace in our home now, the real bone deep peace that comes from the knowledge that I don’t have to go to bed with a liar… I keep reminding myself that the worst day without him is still BETTER than the “best” day with him…. because all those “best” days he was lying. Peace.

  • The reframe for me just came this past week after Father’s Day. Our adult daughters sent a very basic text message and that’s it, as he hasn’t spoken to them in 3 months…that’s a separate story. Anyway, the next day Whoreen posted a long Facebook post about how it takes a real man to step up and take care of kids (5 and 10) who are not their own, yada yada and tagged him in it so that our children could see the ass kissing. (Her kids have a great involved father but that’s not the narrative they want out there). For about a half a day I wanted to break no contact and rip him a new one for making his children feel the way they do after seeing that and then it hit me. This isn’t a public display of gratitude but rather an attempt at stroking an ego that is incredibly fragile and bruised and insecure because he realizes he’s a shitty father to his own children and can’t face himself. His own doing. Our oldest daughter was even visiting from out of state the week before Father’s Day and didn’t spend one single minute with him and he found out she was in town from pictures posted by our other daughter and the friends wedding shower she was in town for after she left. Life is short and his minutes are ticking away. He will die a lonely broken man because as soon as he stops being the meal train Whoreen will dump him and he knows this and has verbalized as much. Sad existence of his own doing.

  • I picked up on something that was a definite reframe for me, I think it was Spinach@35 who said:

    “I doubt anyone tells cheaters to stop having the sadz and just move on. Only chumps get that lecture.”

    Within weeks after my X abandoned me by e-mail he began to completely alienate his adult daughters by first treating them as appliances to manage his life, and then by raging at them to “get over it” and demand that they accept the OW as Mom’s replacement (a ho-worker their age). He has screamed at and intimidated them physically and raged that they are bitter, vindictive bitches who are mentally ill. He lied to and abused them in the months immediately after D Day before ultimately abandoning them too. He is now 2000 miles away from us all, having bought a house many states away, thank God.

    In the 4 years since that first horrible summer, Asshat has sent occasional texts to our daughters saying he is sad because he misses them, loves them, blah blah blah, usually with a sad sausage pleading tone but sometimes with a hateful “I AM THE FATHER” demanding tone to remind them that he is the by-God pater familia with RIGHTS and MORAL AUTHORITY. This happens maybe 5 times a year and they don’t respond (one daughter finally blocked his number, the other ignores him).

    Word from relatives is that he blames me for alienating and poisoning his daughters against him, but they are adults and they directly experienced the long devalue and ultimate discard, too, having lived through one affair in their teen years and then witnessing the implosion of their family for the second whore who is their age. He was abusive and abandoning but still insists I am the one who caused the rift. Give me just a small fucking break.

    My reframe is that he needs to get over it already. His girls are gone, he threw them away for a cheap whore and now they wish he was dead because it would be easier. They don’t ever want him in their lives and he won’t know his grandchildren. He chose this path, he insisted on it. He declared he deserved to be happy even if it meant destroying their family. If they never saw him again they would be at peace.

    We are his victims. We are the family now and he does not exist. He needs to get over it.

    • My heart breaks for your daughters. My father was the best & passed away years before dday. I can’t imagine the pain they felt being devalued by his words & actions. Keeping being that sane parent.

      • They are both messed up when it comes to trusting men now, terrified they will build a life and have kids with someone who suddenly abandons them. They have been to counseling and I try to help by being crystal clear with how much spackling I did and how many red flags I ignored. We are open about his passive aggressive, covert narc ways and have pointed discussions about the times he failed to be there when they needed him and how he is he only one to blame for it- they are worthy of goodness. He failed to provide it and I enabled his behavior by spackling it over for him. We have collectively put down our trowels and will never spackle again.

        It is his worst crime, doing this in front of his daughters, but he still sees it as my fault because of All the Reasons. Incredible that he still maintains that position though he only bothers to try to contact them a few times a year and purposefully bought a house half a country’s distance away from them. #stillmyfault

        • “Word from relatives is that he blames me for alienating and poisoning his daughters against him, but they are adults and they directly experienced the long devalue and ultimate discard, too….”

          Yeah. This is so sad. I’m right there with you, I.C.. My covert-narc ex walks around spewing the same lies about my poisoning our adult kids. Of course, he poisoned them himself…for years!!! The affair simply seemed to provide the incentive they needed to press the eject button and free themselves of his toxicity (something they wish I’d done when they were younger).

          So, on top of being betrayed, we get blamed.

          It’s a Dagwood shit sandwich.

          Then again, we have our kids. And they have us. When trowels aren’t used for spackling, they can be used to bury shit sandwiches. We can repurpose trowels together.
          ((hugs))

    • Sad story Now I.C. But you reframed it beautifully. He needs to get over it. Way to go Dad.
      Hugs for you and your girls.

      • Thank you – I have thought if I heard from him with accusations about my driving a wedge between him and the girls I would calmly tell him that he needs to just move on. During the throes of the first affair he screamed at me that the girls and I “would be just fine without him and that we don’t need him anyway” (his self pity was delivered with rage). After the final D Day in 2017 he told our girls that they stopped needing him by the time they were about age 10 so he had a right to check out. Yep, he blamed them for growing up.

        I would love to inform him in a customer service tone that indeed, as he had asserted, we are just fine without him and those countless nights that he couldn’t be bothered to come home for dinner trained us for it. He is too cowardly to talk to me directly- the escapist conflict avoidant abandoner would never step up and own it so I doubt I will ever get the chance. I know he would simply lie and re-write history or accuse me of holding grudges if I ever did tell him so it is pointless.

        It is not what he did (ever) but it is only our reaction to it. Bitter, vindictive bitches.

        • I got the same accusations.
          I am bitter and vindictive. He said that God would punish him for his infidelity but would punish me and the kids more for our “punishment” of him. (From the mouth of a non-religious man!)

          He later said that I had always spoiled the kids, so it was no wonder they all gravitated toward me. He even accused me of paying for their affections. Damn the lies!

          REFRAME: I didn’t spoil the kids; I just loved them and spent time with them. I showed empathy. I enjoyed their company. I was a mom.

          They are now successful, self-supporting professionals.

          Unlike my ex, I didn’t stomp around the house in a bad mood. I didn’t demand that they practice their sports. I didn’t mock them. I didn’t derive narc pleasure from their successes or view them as extensions of myself. I didn’t refuse to do stuff with our grandchild so that I could spend time with my AP. I didn’t lie and cheat!!!!! I didn’t fuck around.

          So maybe, just maybe, the kids saw and felt all that and decided to draw the line on toxicity. Boundaries!

          #fuckhim #stillmyfault

          • What the hell with these assholes. Our FW’s fell out of the same space pod. It is amazing to me how your FW diminishes the destruction of 2 families but how dare you impose consequences and boundaries. These narcs (especially the covert ones) are truly delusional.

            Not only was I always the one who was there for them while they grew up, post-abandonment my girls and I did a shit ton of emotional labor around how they were raised and we painfully reviewed incidents of their lives and resolved several unknown grudges they held. Going all the way back to preschool, we talked about certain kid-trouble incidents and the punishments meted out, and how their father behaved vs. how I dealt with things, etc. etc. etc. Hours and hours over these last years we have spent doing that painful work. My girls concluded that they were really raised by a single mother and their father was just there for his fan club which became damn boring and inadequate by the time they hit their teens.

            While we family women had all the hard conversations post D-Day, the Asshat was off fucking a whore and treating his daughters like disposable tissues. Now he wishes he could just flip the ol’ Daddy Switch and get those mighty kibble dispensers up and running proper again for his ego. The fact they don’t run for him anymore is clearly my fault.

            He didn’t do one moment of reflection or confession about how he behaved their whole lives, cheating and lying and ignoring them, and yet wants to wipe the board clean. Their failure to bang the erasers is simply an indication of how they are poisoned and defective. He would love to swoop in and act like enough time has gone by so everyone should be over it, without him having done one moment of acknowledgment of his destruction. Just like during the marriage when he would do something awful to me, give me the silent treatment and wait, and once I apologized we could carry on. I apologized a lot for things he did to me. I suppose he expects me to apologize now and be his cheerful liaison and concierge for his relationship with his daughters. Nope.

            I don’t know how these Asshats live with themselves. I can’t imagine not knowing my daughters and being part of their growing lives. But he chose it. I hope he is miserable. I am not.

            • Yeah. So similar. *sigh* I did ask my asshat how he can look himself in the mirror, and he responded, “It’s hard.” But he lied all the time, so who knows?

              Mine truly believes he was “a great dad.”

              He told them that the affair was “between your mom and me,” which infuriated the kids. “That’s effed up,” our son told him. Our son also refused my ex’s offer to meet and tell him how he and the AP met and fell in love. WTF???

              One of my daughters said that she’s hurt but not surprised that he has never acknowledged their pain in all this, only his own. She sighs and says, “Cluster B.”

              All kids are in therapy. I think they are thriving, but I worry about the effects on them. I’m afraid that dealing with the emotional damage will be a lifetime exercise.

              • Abusive. The way they insist on dragging the kids into their affairs is beyond disgusting.

                My Asshat asked the girls if they would be OK with him “moving out for a while to think” during the first affair when they were just 13 and 15– they were horrified and cried and begged him not to go (I had no idea about this until years later). As the affair came to light they got to endure realizing that he was ASKING THEM if he could go fuck around on Mom. He also asked them to imagine what it would be like to have the 4YO little girl of OW#1 as a sister, oh wouldn’t that be fun. My daughters even babysat for that kid.

                He tortured them. But now it’s cool, right? Bygones. Get over it.

                Sigh. Rough week. I wish I was at ‘meh’ but I do think it is important to remind each other how we are not crazy, this really happened, they really did this to themselves and their families. We did end up with the best part of the marriage, our kids, but it still hurts to know how much we invested in these phony bastards. It is good they are gone but it is so mind blowing that it takes a long time to reset after 3 decades with them.

              • “He told them that the affair was “between your mom and me,””

                This always pisses me off when fw’s say this or imply this. No an affair/adultery is between the cheater and the co adulterer. Unless the spouse was informed about it beforehand, she/he had no input, therefore no responsibility for it.

                When my son came back from AF for a visit right after the fw left one of the few things said to him by my ex was “it takes two” my son said no dad, you did wrong; this is on you. I lived with you and mom for 18 years, I know how mom treated you” My son told me this right after he said it, though I never asked him anything. He also told me again a few weeks ago when we were spending some time together working through my brothers estate.

                Yes it takes two to cause an affair; the cheater and his/her cheating partner.

    • Oh, I love this reframe. I know it’s going to happen eventually, someone, if not FW himself, is going to come to me and spin a sad sausage tale of lost family.

      And now all I’m going to say is he needs to get over it. That’s perfect. I’ve wondered how I’ll handle that. I’ve cut off most people who could do it but I figure eventually it’ll be someone, even if it’s someone who didn’t know us while married. I now have the perfect response to drop and walk away. So thank you.

  • Yay for us antipodeans getting a Friday challenge on a Friday!

    Here is a basic reframe…it seems so obvious but, here goes…

    STBX said that I wasn’t meeting his sexual needs so he had to go to hookers, sex clubs, etc. Well, this was news to me! He also said that I never did a big sexual performance for his birthday, but that every wife knows she’s supposed to do that for the husband. Gee, I missed that memo. But I’ve spent two years in the mindfuck blender on this one and it was really traumatising me, and I kept replaying that over and over wondering what I could have done to save my marriage (you know the drill). But, my really good friend asked me a really great re-framing question, which was simply this: was he meeting your sexual needs? The answer to that was a big, fat NO. And then she asked me, did he give you great sex and on YOUR birthday? The answer to that was a big, fat NO. So, instead of believing all his crap, I’ve reframed a lot of this to…was he a good husband? was he meeting my needs? did he care if I was happy? It’s really helping me get a more realistic view and it’s moving me away from all the blame-shifting he did.

    • Oh yes indeed. The idea that not only are we allowed to have needs and desires – but that our needs are just as important as theirs is a biggie in the reframing journey!

    • Oh my god, is birthday sex a human right between narcissists?? My ex also asked me to imagine a sexy performance for his birthday, wtf?? It was when he was trying to get me back, making me feel that I was The Chosen to perform this wonderful performance on his birthday!

      I had to think of when we split up, one week before my birthday, and then I found out he had taken some other girl to a fancy gala right on my birthday. So much for reciprocity!

      What a pathetic, ridiculous little fucktard.

  • He is better at finances than me. = He likes to control every dime I spend while maintaining his own hidden accounts he uses to pay for his burner phone, schmoopie dates, etc.
    I am “not very social.” = I am plenty social but I disagree with being the house slave, planning, cooking, and cleaning so he can put on a show for people who stroke his ego. My friends organize play dates and “ladies nights” so they can try to spend time with me without him ruining our good time.
    I am unforgiving. = I go no contact with FWs who repeatedly violate my boundaries. Having standards is meaningless if I don’t enforce them, and sometimes – rarely – that means removing someone from my life completely and THAT’S OK.

    I started waking up to how effed up he is when I stood back and looked at these narratives he tried to spin. He is all about controlling everything and getting endless cake and kibbles for himself. I was the spousal appliance, tripping over myself trying to make him happy and not understanding what was wrong with things as they were and why I was unhappy. Even when I wasn’t hit with the latest 2X4” of him cheating, he was being an ass in so many ways. When I resisted being his minion, he would pull out an arsenal of words to belittle me. For a number of years, he had me believing I was anti-social because of this. When I stepped back and was able to apply my words to the story of us, the truth set me free. When I stopped accepting his spin, my mind was freed. The last attorney consult I did, I didn’t shed a tear. The detached winding down of a business was all I could think of. He decided to threaten me with divorce, thinking it would return me to compliance. Instead, I talked to people, got educated, read LACGAL, and made plans. Threatened by divorce? No, my dear, you taught me that what I was fearing was what I should have been embracing. Divorce isn’t a threatening word to me, anymore. It means freedom. That reframing for me has been the biggest.

  • I was the person with the friends and the majority of ideas for outings, holidays etc. I thought we got on well as he was seemingly happy to go along with my ideas and charming to my friends.
    After he left I found out about the cheating and that he thought I was boring. My reframing was that at least I lived the life I wanted to during our 14 years together. If he was unhappy but never said anything that was his problem. I wasn’t a mind-reader. Also, he was the boring one.

  • The ex is a chocolate figure wrapped in shiny foil. Looks pretty; the chocolate tastes of bland, slightly cloying nothingness; leading to the empty space inside the shell. ‘Nuff said!

    • THIS!!! I have been thinking about my ex as a cheap, fake “chocolate” HOLLOW Easter bunny! The image has really helped me… he has no center of his own, no identity, he’s just fake all the way down.

  • I used to wonder what in our life caused him to change from a lovely attractive man to a malicious, scary and sexually creepy jerk. As I get further away from the separation, the divorce and especially from contact with my gxh (4.5yrs/3 yrs/2yrs) – I realise more and more clearly that the person I loved and the malicious and scary jerk are one and the same. It wasn’t our life, it was him. It was just a matter of emphasis.

    Looking back over the 25 years we were married, there were always little appearances of the jerk within; I remember them because they were ‘out of character’.

    But really all I was seeing was the continual forming of a character that everyone goes through in life.

    It wasn’t really a sudden change from nice guy to abuser. It was a gradual accumulation of his choices that formed attitudinal and behavioural habits. Eventually the balance tipped and – no more Mr nice guy.

    Basically the personal decisions he made throughout our marriage allowed the jerk to win and not the good guy.

    Everyone is formed by their choices. No-one is perfect. Circumstances in which we find ourselves can be very challenging. Some of us find it easier or harder to choose honesty, consideration, generosity, kindness, patience etc. But the choice is always there.

    I found that time, supportive friends and family who didnt mind listening as I worked through stuff, and on occasion a good therapist, helped me to see this.

    It wasn’t me it was him.

    • This ^^^

      This was my struggle, too, trying to reconcile the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde versions of my husband. I eventually arrived at the same conclusion you did, NewChump, that my husband had been both people, and over time the combination of his emotional disabilities and his choices tipped him toward the dark side.

      My mom learned an expression years ago that helped me with this idea. It was a Native American elder that said that everyone’s soul is like a dogsled team, and there’s a white dog and a black dog on that team, and when we lean into the good parts of ourselves, we’re letting the white dog lead, and when we indulge the worst parts of ourselves, we’re letting the black dog lead. My mom said to me, “He just let his black dog lead for too long.”

      That helped me understand what happened, but I still struggle with how to remember my ex (we’re 100% no contact, have been for 2 years). If I remember the good times we had, they’re tainted by the abuse. If I remember the bad times, I feel guilty because there were all the good times, too…. I want to simplify things and either write him off as a bad guy or cherish the memories of my marriage to a good guy. But I can’t do that. It’s “both/and” not “either/or,” and that’s hard. I don’t think it’s as hard with people we’re still in contact with because everyone has a good and bad side to some extent, and continuing to live with them helps reconcile those two sides. But once they’re gone, it’s hard to integrate the memories and feelings from what was a very disintegrated marriage in many ways….

    • I like this framing of the situation. My EX put in some work to be a reasonable person when I met him. Now, I know a lot of his self-presentation was lies, but I think they were aspirational lies–he wanted to be a good person on some level. Yet, living up to the standards he had set was tough (though no tougher than it is for anyone else), and he lacked the character to persist. Eventually, he lied more and more about things and became more and more insistent that everyone believe his lies (me, employers, the kids). Instead of “fake it until you make it” and doing the hard work to achieve things, he shifted over to “make everyone else fake it” and get pissed off when they won’t accept your lies any longer. And, everything became our fault for not supporting (funding him), believing in him (accepting his lies), sympathizing with him (taking blame for his failures).

  • The “Mona Lisa” is STILL the Mona Lisa no matter how you “REFRAME” it…

    YOU… UNIQUE human being have a 4-TRILLION DNA combination…

    That means YOU are the “Faberge Egg” and no matter “Who” tries to “Re-frame” YOU…

    YOU are still the Mona Lisa… Only YOU decide what kind of “Value”…. You are going to place on YOU…

  • My “father of the year” called me the day before father’s day to come get our 9yo. Because he suddenly had to get on a plane. I picked up the pieces the next day. Not even a phone call.

    While I was stilled married to the fuckwit I would ask him, when did you fall in love with me? He never answered it and always had a funny response that was usually sexual. I never thought about it. Do now. Red flag much? Trust that they suck.

    • Yeah, those jokes.

      I remember the last couple months of the years if devaluation, my fw had conned me into signing for a river property for “our retirement”. I really didn’t want to as I knew he was not acting right, but he pulled an ok fine, I will just sit home and do nothing. He never sat hime and did nothing. He was always doing something.

      Anyway I caved and said ok, I don’t think the timing is good but ok. So on the way home after signing for the property, he was happy as a clam. I said: “I love you” he said “I love me too” and then laughed at his joke. I noticed the next couple times I said I love you he would come back with the same “I love me too” and laugh.

      I quit saying it. About the same time some other things happened and I pretty much knew another woman was involved. I just hunkered down and waited for it to hit. I didn’t have to wait long.

  • I thought HE was a great father and husband. When FW left, I realized that I was really the only parent the whole time. I am a great wife, mother, husband AND father. It was always me. The reality was that I was doing everything and when FW left, even my 9 year old son recognized it and pointed it out to me.

    FW was never a father or husband — he was always dead weight — an anchor holding us back. Breaking the anchor chain set my son and me free.

    • I feel the same way: I used to think I was so blessed and that I had found the perfect partner to share my life with. I read old journals from my 20s where I lovingly penned things like “this is the man I am going to have children with; he is going to make such a good father.”

      I can’t read those diaries or think back to those days without wincing. I was not lucky. I was not blessed. He was not the perfect husband or father. I was just blind and in love. Ugh.

      Dead weight. An anchor. That’s what he really was. It may have broke my heart to realize it but my family, the kids and I, finally felt complete *after* he left and my personal journey to move forward creatively and professionally began *after* he left.

      I think about that a lot. I didn’t feel like a complete person who was able to do amazing things with my life until he was gone.

  • My reframe came with thanks to Twice a chump and KB22

    I read it nearly every day .

    I use to think that sparkle whore was a femme fatale ( she is 16 years younger and very pretty way prettier than me ) and they said

    If she was all that and a bag of chips how come she could only get a married man ?

    I’ve expanded it to be if she was all that and a bag of chips how come she could only get a morbidly obese , married , middle aged man from her work ?

    No one her age wanted her , no one single wanted her , no one in her social circle wanted her . All around her her friends and sister were all getting married and having children she was left out as no one wanted her .
    She’s not all that and a bag of chips she’s a cheap Ho and she is welcome to that fat mess !!

    Thanks twice a chump and KB22 you’ve no idea how much that helped me

    • What a lovely thank you Karmeh.
      As far as pretty goes, anyone these days can make themselves look great with all the available cosmetic treatments, make-up, etc. Next time take a closer look, I’m betting you’ll have a different view of her looks.
      No one her age wanted her because they sense desperation and that something is off, but the dopey, overweight, insecure middle aged twit was more than happy to get her attention. You just lost a very weak man…good riddance. However, it won’t end well with the cheaters. When you have someone dysfunctional, and I’m betting the farm AP is a major mental mess, paired up with a weakling, the relationship is going to be miserable.
      I wish you all the best in life!

      • Yea, Re OW’s who get with married men 15 + yrs older…… How many of these sparkle twats end up with married older men they think don’t have $?
        Regardless of the age difference- it takes a total dimwit to think a man cheating on his wife and abandoning his family is a good catch.
        I love Chump lady’s line about ‘what kind of mental gymnastics do you have to do to convince yourself that …………..’ etc.
        They are so narcissistic that they actually think that only THEY could turn this wonderful man away from his commitments. They are magical!

        Gets me thinking, we chumps do mental gymnastics when we morn the person who has proven to be a crap act.

    • ????

      I believe you have nailed it.

      And for what it’s worth I think it is true of most of them. Quality women just do not date married men. And quality married men do not date anyone but their wife, they stay honorable.

      • ???? ‘Quality women just do not date married men. And quality married men do not date anyone but their wife, they stay honorable.’
        Quality people don’t betray, lie, cheat – period.
        The real low life’s are also fine with hurting children with all their fuckwit ways.

    • Oh yeah, this hits close to home for me. I had some comments about how I shouldn’t be jealous of the OW who is also 16 years younger than me and I shocked a few friends by exclaiming, “Why would I be jealous of her?!”

      She is 24 years old and all she can get is an out of shape old man whose dick doesn’t work without huge amounts of viagra, who has a bum knee and can’t do anything active, who is lower middle class in income, who was married with a kid nearly her age, and has outright told her he will continue to screw dozens of people while in a relationship with her and bring her lovely diseases.

      I did not have to settle for that at her age. I do not have to settle for it now. I married him in his prime and he was single and we had all kinds of dreams of building for the future. What she’s signing up for is disgusting to me and I’d never accept something so low and pathetic. She’s basically rolling around fucking in a stinky, gooey dumpster and screaming, “Aren’t you jealous! Don’t you wish you were in here?!”

      No. No I do not. At this point any time I think of her it’s either a wave of disgust or pity .It’s just so pathetic.

  • Over a year ago I watched a pandemic wedding (poor, dear young adults), and the preacher said two things that made me release just how far I’ve come. The preacher who married them was well-intentioned but a little clueless. I get that a wedding should be about hopes and dreams for the couple, but I sat there as an older, wiser soul.

    He said that any marriage problem can be overcome if you work hard enough. Well, if you have two decent, balanced individuals and if the problem is truly something that can be worked on, it’s something you should do. If one has an ongoing addiction, not true. If one is full of contempt for the other and won’t accept individual responsibility, not true. If family/friends/paramours are in where they shouldn’t be, and the partner who brought them in won’t remove them, not true. I could probably come up with more, but you get the idea.

    Then he made a joke about investing in your marriage so you don’t have to invest in your divorce. Well, I did both. I put forth my best efforts to keep my ex happy and healthy, and then I paid the attorneys to get me out of it. Mine said at signing that I’d get a whole chapter in a book if he ever wrote one. It was that crazy. Now my attorney is happily retired and playing golf on the coast, and I’m semi-retired myself, just taking on enough work to cover my basic expenses. Life is good.

    I have another wedding to attend in a few weeks. We’ll see what is said there (LOL).

    • “He said that any marriage problem can be overcome if you work hard enough.”

      Ugh. I see this sentiment, and other variations on this theme, all the time on social media, usually accompanied with an image of a flower, rainbow, a beach, etc. They’re usually shared and reposted by well-meaning married friends (I have never seen a divorced person–particularly a person who didn’t want to be divorced–share this kind of malarkey.)

      “People today give up too easily. Nobody wants to repair that old toaster or work on that marriage. I refuse to live in a disposable culture.”

      or

      “A perfect marriage is possible when an imperfect couple never give up.”

      I know I’m jaded and I’ve made peace with that but I legitimately want to scream when I see those kinds of posts or hear the sort of stuff that the preacher you mentioned says: “All it takes is hard work and if you are a divorced person then I guess you just didn’t try hard enough, did you?” Rarely do these sentiments have contextual nuance like “One person cannot work hard enough to save a marriage that two people are supposed to be a part of.”

      These people mean well but, bless them, they have no idea and can’t paint over that kind of trauma with the “try harder” brush. I’m quite sure in my innocent ignorance, I’ve probably said similar things.

      By the way, I learned (many years later) that the preacher who married me and FW (he also conducted a good marriage class that we were required to take) later divorced his wife and moved in with a younger women. I can’t recall what he taught in his marriage class or what he said in his sermon but I guess he didn’t follow his own advice.

      • I agree… I feel like people romanticize marriage so much, or build it up to be so important… some relationships simply run their course and there is nothing wrong with not continuing to invest. And, as we all know here, some marriages were based on lies, often from the very beginning and it’s actually harmful to keep investing.

        • “I feel like people romanticize marriage so much, or build it up to be so important… ”

          Yes! What they need to prepare young married couples for is the humdrum, the boring every day duties married couples face. While being young and in love is great, it’s not long term reality. We’ve produced decades of selfish spoiled brats that resent not having constant excitement and then opt out of working on the marriage. They’d rather seek excitement and the rush of being infatuated.

          • That happens of course.

            But, the issue is for Chumps is the years of abuse before they are even alerted that the time is up.

            Not being happy, growing apart, losing the passion whatever excuse one uses for adultery is the issue. If the cheater is unhappy, leave in honesty and don’t abuse the partner and use the betrayed for their own benefit unti8l they get their second life set up.

            It is the wasted years staying committed to a cheater while they lie, verbally abuse, and seal marital assets; that causes so much damage.

            But of course cheaters/liars are always going to use others for their own benefit.

      • Yes, a friend of mine has been in divorce ministry to women for over twenty years. Her ex cheated and wanted nothing to do with their faith. She found out that there were other ladies like her struggling with getting on their feet again, co-parenting, and more. So she took a rough situation and made it into something bigger and better.

        As a project, she actually reviewed faith-based pre-marital counselling materials including what she and her ex used in a church class for the engaged. NONE of the materials talked about the tough issues like we discuss here.

        I mentioned this issue to a friend of mine who is a therapist and does some marriage counselling, and he said that he uses secular materials that are more frank even though he advertises himself as a Christian counsellor. He’s divorced from a character disordered woman, so he has that perspective.

    • True, but I think your second paragraph says it. It has to be a marriage issue that both can work on. Adultery, addiction, theft, lying those types of things are not marriage issues generally. Those are individual issues that the individual involved has to be responsible for.

      One person not getting enough sex, that is a marriage issue that both can resolve if they work on it, money issues such as how to spend; need more money, better investing etc, yes marriage issue that both can work on.

      When there are lies and one person does not know the whole story, that is not a marriage issue that can be worked on; because one party is not fully informed.

      So I do think the preacher is right in that any marriage issue can be solved; but it has to be an actual marriage issue that both are fully aware of.

      • It takes two people to make a strong, fulfilling marriage. It only takes one person to destroy it.

      • Adultery, addiction, theft, lying those types of things are not marriage issues generally. Those are individual issues that the individual involved has to be responsible for.

        YES, nailed it! I quit counceling from secular and Christian after hearing from both the “NO ONE IS PERFECT”. We ALL make “mistakes”.

        True that, but I didn’t F other people

        • ????

          Marriage issues, and problems are not morally or ethically equivalent to adultery, addiction, theft or lying.

          A partner can certainly help the guilty party through with some support, but they should never be blamed for them.

  • It’s what they do, not what they say.

    Once I could admit the truth of x’s actions versus what x said or what I hoped or what I believed or what I was told or what my upbringing was…

    I was able to detach and release myself
    from the bondage of my false assumptions. Took a good bit of self examination.

    It took a far worse narc than x to bring me to the truth.

    Educating myself about these kinds of “people”
    was the big step to prepare myself for releasing the belief system that “everybody is good deep down inside.”

    Older, wiser and empowered.

    “No matter how hard the truth is or what the facts are, I prefer to know, look at, and accept this day.”

  • My reframes:

    Old me: He must be so happy!
    Reframe: He’s not happy because he’s never been capable of true happiness. And that inability predated me, so I will not accept any blame. I never should have felt responsible for his moods.

    Old frame: He found true love.
    Reframe: Did he find true love? Well, maybe. If so, he fell in “love” with someone who was happy to sleep with a married man. Likewise, she fell in love with someone who was happy to sleep with a married woman. As I’ve said before, they are two peas in a putrid pod. They can watch their matching, massive upper-thigh tattoos stretch and fade in the coming years.

    Old frame: I wasn’t enough.
    Reframe: Why should I care about what was “enough” for him? He clearly wasn’t enough for me. And this horrible betrayal has brought that to light.

    Old frame: He won.
    Reframe: The way I define winning, I won. I have my freedom. I have my kids and grandchild. I’m free of an abusive FW, someone with whom I would have stayed had the affair not come to light. Bonus: I was given a wonderful litmus test for true friends. #chumpperk

    His abuse shrank me, like a cooked bag of spinach. But I’m growing emotionally stronger. I’m really starting to believe that I didn’t deserve his shitty treatment and that I’m lucky—yes lucky!!–that this cluster fuck of an affair showed me the way out.

  • I gave him all of my good years, positive energy, love trust and loyalty. He discarded me without a care after 23 years.

    Reframe: He sucked the life out of me for 2 decades and now that he’s gone I have the wonderful opportunity to make my life whatever I want it to be.

    It took a while to recognize it, but this new beginning…it’s a gift.

    • Mighty, absolutely. I think of the movie 9 to 5 where Lily Tomlin says ‘I’ve never seen someone leapfrog to the top so fast, and I have the bad back to prove it.’ I vaulted my ex into becoming a world traveler, college educated, and am still paying off part of her student loans (I was a paralyzed chump and just wanted the contact to stop, should have protected myself better legally). All so she could put her AP through college.
      Anyway, my point is that I reframed it into thank God for Dday and the discard or else I would have paid for more and more and more…it is a gift in the long run.

      • I gave my ex a good deal on buying me out of the house so I could get away quicker. I re-framed the fact that he got more of our marital assets as “the price of my freedom.” I don’t regret or dwell on it at all. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

        • Yep, my ex definitely got most of the assets, though he did have to pay me back some money he stole for romancing the whore. He did that via a legal separation maintenance agreement.

          He still walked away with most of the assets. The fact that he within a few years gambled it all away and he and the whore had to file bankruptcy is just icing on the get away cake.

  • I was never enough, not giving enough, not understanding enough, not doing enough. The truth is not only am I enough I am more than just enough. I am fan fucking tastic. He is a yawing vortex that sucks in and districts anything that gets to close. Only he couldn’t destroy me, he choked on much amazing I am and imploded because he couldn’t completely break me. In fact, now that I’ve cleaned off the debris of his detonation I am exactly as fantastic as I was before I met him. I am titanium baby. Nothing he does can leave a permanent mark

    • Yawning vortex! Amen!
      I think the choking on a powerful partner, whether that is outward power or a mighty personality and strong character, is a common theme at CN. These roaches just can’t take it. They have to strike out and scuttle away from the light. If we didn’t love and trust them we would have never internalized that noise.

  • I need to remind myself that no matter how difficult things got in my marriage (including his lying and cheating) I never thought an appropriate response would be to find another sexual partner. Didn’t occur to me and that will never, ever be part of my moral makeup.

    The concept of Timid Forest Creatures helped me reframe my hestitancy to confront him.

    Finally, the CL description of people conspiring to collect stones and smash a Tiffany stained glass window says everything about them and nothing about the window. Their evil actions will never diminish the beauty and value of a truly committed love.

  • I knew STBX had lots of flaws, and I can see them so much more clearly now with distance and time. But I thought him an honest man at least. (I was ignoring the little white lies he continually told and the constant exaggerations.) He was general counsel for a firm and he resigned because he thought the company he was working for was acting illegally. I was proud of him and some part of me thought this means he would never cheat.

    My reframing is that he was more worried about getting himself in trouble as a result of the company’s actions. It had absolutely nothing to do with integrity.

    • “Reframe it — you gave them a precious gift — your TRUST and your LOVE, and they shat on it. That makes them stupid and unworthy. They are not powerful, they are UNWORTHY of your further investment.”

      This is good and so true.

      My dad told me a version of this when I called him and told him what happened.

      He said, Susie hold your head up high, you did nothing wrong. He and that woman deserve each other, and if he stays with her, he will eventually look at her across the table every day and resent her for what he gave up.

      I don’t know if he did, but that sure helped me in real time. I am a little ashamed now to admit it, but I actually prayed that he would marry her. (I was afraid he wouldn’t). I did not want him to escape her.

  • My cheater (not my cheater anymore) love-bombed the shit outta me at the beginning of our relationship. After D-day, I was devastated for months. I felt humiliated, worthless, confused, betrayed and abandoned. I kept asking myself why someone would seemingly treat me so well, cheat on me, lie to me and then all of a sudden make it my fault by gaslighting me? Once I reframed that, this was the conclusion I came to…I was love-bombed / manipulated to think he was a sparkly unicorn simply because he wasn’t. Love-bombing is the price a shitty person has to pay to get someone to fuck them…because deep down inside, they know their innate shittiness. They have to love-bomb us because WE’RE valuable and they want what WE have. If you experienced love-bombing and after D-day your head was spinning…REFRAME IT 🙂

  • He told me “she showed me what was missing in my life”.

    I realized that she showed me what was missing in my life too.

    I was missing an authentic husband with empathy, a brain, a heart, courage, a moral compass, integrity, emotional maturity, compassion, etc etc.

    • If it wasn’t for the discovery of that illicit relationship, he would have kept eating cake while I kept stumbling around, looking for the source of the smoke I smelled, depressed, anxious, wondering what was wrong with me, trying to fix it, not being able to and feeling frustrated, beating my head against a wall talking to him, thinking he is Mr. Nice Guy, wasting money in therapy,
      dying dying dying little by little every day, until all was left of me was the clothes I was wearing because I had finally evaporated and ceased to exist altogether.

      The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today.

      I have come so far in a positive direction. He is still on his dysfunctional spin cycle. The other day I was reviewing the bridge toll account related to our business. I hadn’t noticed before that day that he had deleted his truck from the account early last year, obviously to conceal where he is going. When I sent him an email asking him which vehicles were on the account, he failed to respond. After three days and resending the same email three times with the same simple request, he sent me a screenshot of the account. Not knowing what I knew, he had gone into the account and added his truck back on to the account. I said nothing to him other than “thanks” and am getting a good laugh out of it. This is a 57 year old man. Toddlers have more integrity and are better at deception than he is.
      I could feel him tripping out from twenty miles away and I enjoyed every moment of pushing him into the rabbit hole.

      It doesn’t feel like it, but chumps actually have the power. This is probably the most major reframe of all.

      • “It doesn’t feel like it, but chumps actually have the power.”

        ^^^^^^^^^THIS!^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

      • Yes we do.

        It took me a while to realize it, I honestly thought he had all the power the day he left. But, in truth that was the day his power ended. Neither he or I realized it at the time. It took me about three months to realize it, it only took him until he filed for divorce about a month after he left.

        I am certain up until he faced down my lawyer, he thought he had it under control and he would call the shots.

  • Old script: He is a brave man fighting an addiction and I must help him.

    New script: He never fought anything, he lies compulsively, and I’m done doing his emotional heavy lifting.

  • Oh, one more thing.

    My ex: I’ll think I’ll be happier with this OW.

    Reframe: What a selfish rationale!!

    He was stunned that others (including his own adult kids) didn’t buy it as a reasonable justification for betrayal. Like the figure in Munch’s “Scream,” my ex is frozen in time screaming into the void, “Why isn’t everyone happy for me?”

    Both the selfish rationale and the inability to recognize the entitlement of it all reveals his true nature. I’m just not sure why I didn’t see it sooner. Guess I was too busy spackling while mainlining hopium.

    • My FW was also stunned–genuinely stunned!–that people were not supportive of his decision to leave his family and shack up with his new soulmate.

      He fixed this by running with Switzerland friends and brand new friends. When I did see what he was up to (many, many years ago; I’ve social media blocked him for a long time now) I could see that he was phasing out his friend group to only include the Switzerlanders and brand new people. The friends who didn’t agree with his new life were dropped like hot potatoes.

      These days his friend group is comprised of almost entirely new people, or rather, people who have never heard of me or “the time before.” He gets to tell whatever stories he wants and they don’t know any better. The most common story that drifts my way, from time to time, is that there were no affairs and that he and his first wife (me) just “drifted apart” as couples sometimes do. His new crowd loves him and accepts this story and why wouldn’t they?

      I do not insert myself into those fabrications or contact these people to “No, *this* is what happened instead!” all over the place; it is not worth the emotional trauma and despite the fact that it’s… you know… the truth… it’ll just make me look like a bitter ex or a loony. Ain’t that a kick in the pants? I just stay as far away as I can.

  • It’s definitely a work in progress, but I’m reframing the offensive difference in our standards of living.

    I’m the cliché that supported my husband at home for 17+ years, working part-time when I could, volunteering in the community, hosting clients and staff, writing and editing PR/marketing materials, raising kids, scheduling everything for everyone, carpooling, cleaning, maintaining home and garden, and whipping up delicious meals.

    Apparently that wasn’t enough for him. I should have worked full time as well. Brought in some fat paychecks and turned them over to him while doing everything else. I refused because he’s a lazy shit, and I would have been crazy exhausted. So he traded up.

    Fast forward to now. He lives in unabashed resort-style splendor with hired help and first class vacations to Australia.

    I live in a small house on the outskirts of a decent neighborhood and work part-time as an adjunct professor. I haven’t been able to find a sustainable full-time job since he left in 2017. Between the pandemic and my age (56), it’s been impossible. His support payments keep my bills paid, but they will end when I turn 59, which is 3 years before I can even begin collecting social security. Needless to say, I’m worried about my future.

    I battle anger, grief, and disbelief every single day. But my kids are wonderful people, and they love me so much for the childhood I created for them. I am the heart of our family, and my kids show me that in every way. He’s a pretentious outsider, and their relationship with him is purely transactional and obligatory.

    He has lots of money and I have very little. But he doesn’t know love. He doesn’t appreciate the joy of family, and he traded the three people who gave him those priceless treasures. For a shallow life and a bag of golf clubs.

    My kids and I talk about pooling resources, buying a chunk of land, and building a house for each of us so we can always be together. Even if it doesn’t happen, that kind of closeness is priceless. So, yeah, I’ll struggle financially. Maybe even for the rest of my life. But I’m far richer than he’ll ever be.

    • The love of your kids is priceless, indeed!

      Your FW is not rich in the ways that are most important. Corny but true.

      All the best to you, ChumpQueen!

      ((hugs))

    • I’m so sorry to hear this, ChumpQueen. I too was an adjunct professor until recently (was laid off due to Covid state funding apocalypse). I have a new non-academic job but am concerned that I might not be able to work full-time hours, since I’m still dealing with the effects of trauma. BUT, I am still negotiating my divorce settlement, and I appreciate your sharing your story so that I can reflect and advocate for myself.

      I hear you so hard and will send you positive vibes. With your kids’ support, I really hope you’ll be able to work it out.

  • “He started stealing my exact words from conversations between the 2 of us and using them in conversations with other people.” Yes, my ex did this too, and also took credit for my ideas, words I coined, a logo I designed, etc.
    Then he started taking credit for my EXPERIENCES, repeating stories about what I’d done as if they happened to him, although he hadn’t even been present. It was like he was using my life to impress people. He’d heard me say those same stories to people. Didn’t it occur to him that people might hear the same story from both of us and wonder? Or did he think they’d assume I was stealing HIS life story?
    I later discovered that he fabricated a lot of awards, degrees, etc., perhaps to compete with those I legitimately earned, or just to get ahead and impress people.

  • I am reframing my married life as the time we raised our sons who are great people. My post married life is the time I explore my individuality, passions, interests time to focus on me. I’m feeling thawed out from the devastation of betrayal. It’s good to reinvent myself and learn who I am.

  • My feelings before – the “poor dear just can’t help himself. He keeps f….ing up and leaving me to clear up the mess because, well, he’s not well mentally and his French isn’t as good as mine”! That changed to “why the f….ing hell isn’t his French as good as mine after 30 years in the country and free lessons provided by his employer? And if I stop cleaning up his messes (stop being his Chaos Janitor – love that expression) who cares who will sort it out for him?” Turns out, now he’s back in the US (and speaks the language obvs), nobody wants to help him, least of all Schmoopie who thought she’d bought a ticket to an early retirement! Ha dream on sweetheart! Despite his very generous pension he’ll drain you dry, probably beat you up too and you’ll continue to live in an ever-spiralling vortex of chaos and misery! But then all she every wanted was a meal ticket and all he will ever be is the concrete diving boots!

    • Sounds like the same situation of my fw. She absolutely was after a meal ticket. And since he was spending money on her from our joint assets, she likely thought he was a catch an was loaded. She had gone after other married men, but she couldn’t land them.

      Anyway, he ended up retiring early, gambling them into bankruptcy and then all they had was that pension. He drug her out of the trailer park, and they ended up a few years later right back in a fixer upper trailer. He left her in debt for 80 thousand dollars, for a huge ass RV he just had to have. He could barely walk, but a year before he died, he bought that thing, knowing they couldn’t pay for it.

      Honestly I don’t know what these RV places are thinking, why on earth would they even grant that loan.

      My son just recently told me about his mess. Luckily my son has no financial entanglements or obligations to them. My son did try to talk him out of buying that RV, but deaf ears and all.

      • Susie, the original skank just saw his paycheck. She could drink a bottle of whiskey in an evening so was just his type!!! Latest one is much prettier, slimmer and she knew him from schooldays but she’s already been married twice, and while she’s qualified I sense she’s just looking for a way out of working. Initially she used to post on FB “berk, it’s Monday, oh, I forgot, I’m retired” and then she had to go back to work because they obviously weren’t making it on his pension ($8,000/month). Damn, if I had that money I could pay his mortgage, taxes and all his bills and still have money to spare – but not while living with him. So now he’s retired and Schmoops is back working 12 hour days. Enjoy honey! I make half that, my house is paid off and I’m fully retired!

        • It is good when they get exactly what they wanted.

          When my son told me of her now situation, I just had to say “well she wanted my future, she got it”

          She worked for a few months at a retail place after they married, then she quit because of back issues and never returned to work. (she was 36 when they married, he was 41) She had been fucking him for over six years; so I guess she figured it was her due.

          Meanwhile, I worked another 37 years and built a healthy retirement. (I was 40 when he left) Had I stayed with him he would have blown it all too. Oh he couldn’t have touched my retirement, but he would have rendered it worthless by debt. And we would have had no savings.

          He had already told me when he retired he wanted to sell out and buy a boat and live on the boat. I said no, I am not going to do that. We already had a 34 foot cabin cruiser. It was bought used, but it was a good boat. I told him he could take trips when he retired, and I could go occasionally, but I was not going to be a river rat.

          Thinking back, that might have been when he decided to drop kick me and find someone who would just do what he wanted.

          I guess he gave up on the boat, then fixated on the RV.

  • My ex remarried fairly quickly after our split, certainly started shacking up very quickly. My mantra…

    Some people pay their babysitters, other people marry them.

    He thought having a wife that worked was great while he had a gambling addiction to sustain, and then a period of unemployment. The moment he started to get a new career established he hit fast-forward on the discard button. Suddenly he had no interest in work-life balance and sacrificing the occasionally after-work happy-hour to pitch in at home. Now he has a stay-at-home 2nd wife who watches our daughter during his custody time (along with her own). There’s no way he could have maintained 50/50 custody and the work esteem he’s desperate for if he wasn’t with her. Now that I’ve stepped away from things it’s become painfully obvious just how transactional all of his relationships are. It’s all about utility to him. He’s a black whole of need and I’m glad I’m no longer the pomme de sang for that emotional vampire.

  • I reframed the idea that Jackass “abandoned” me to he “discarded” me as part of the relationship cycle he has followed all of his adult life. Shifting away from “abandonment” moved me into a more adult position, less like a child fearing abandonment by adults. I’m not a child or an inanimate object, like a car abandoned by the side of the road. I’m an adult, with agency.

    I came to see the “discard” as the inevitable result of how people like Jackass devalue people, places, and things that no longer buff up and secure their false sense of self. They can devalue things, in terms of their own shallow values system; all that means is that they can no longer suck the marrow out of the person or situation they are devaluing, and the discard is inevitable, even if they never move out of the house. They just no longer see us of use to them. I’ve reframed that process as being about Jackass and his ilk, not about those of us they abuse in this way.

    All of this helped me reframe the betrayal as the inevitable result of falling for a disordered person who moves through this cycle. I just stopped caring about how he ghosted me, after months of tears and pain and somewhat secret hopes he would come back. Finally, I’ve reframed him as a pitiful, stunted creature incapable of love, empathy or real human connection.

    • ‘reframed him as a pitiful, stunted creature incapable of love, empathy or real human connection.’
      So true.
      What I lost was real to me – but it wasn’t real. He wasn’t real. Stunted is right on. I think he has love and empathy for his foo – but that’s because they are all enmeshed.

      • “reframed him as a pitiful, stunted creature incapable of love, empathy or real human connection.’

        That is how my ex had to be. His life post divorce showed just that,. To my son and daughter in law, and as much as she deserves it the whore.

        They were asked to leave a church they got involved in, they got so belligerent. When he was involved in our church he wasn’t like that. He was easy going and even did some work in the church.

        I know some highlights only from my son and daughter in law. My son and I talked extensively not long before the ex died. I think my son just had to get it out. I got some stuff out too.

        I told my son that I believe with all my heart that the only true happiness his dad ever had in his life was when our son was little and he was doing the dad thing. I think that is true.

        Once my son was grown the ex was on a constant search for the next high. Emotional high, I do’t think he ever took drugs.

    • “All of this helped me reframe the betrayal as the inevitable result of falling for a disordered person who moves through this cycle.”

      Thank you for sharing this.

    • LAJ,

      Thank you for this.

      I continue to be awed by how changing one word can transform almost anything in a heartbeat…

      ‘Abandoned to discarded’.

      Beautifully stated.

      • And then “discarded” has to be about what kind of person DISCARDS spouses, kids, family, pets…not about what’s wrong with those being discarded.

          • When you think about it, it’s more of a swap than a discard.
            Like they changed watches for a newer model.
            These fuckwits would never just leave a relationship, they always have something lined up first.

            • Yep and what if it doesn’t work out, they need someplace and someone to crash on until they can try again.

              I also think many of them just intend to fuck around then go back to the hum drum life. Then the noose tightens.

  • Story told mostly by his actions: I am not interesting enough, as into sex as I used to be, successful enough, tidy enough, etc…

    Reframe: I am interesting and people seek out my companionship. I freaking love sex and wondered why he was being so cold to me. Whatever I do, I do with my whole heart and the house is plenty tidy enough thank you. Most importantly, I am enough and I don’t have to keep proving it.

  • The biggest reframe came after becoming a part of CL Nation. I had spent countless hours wondering what had changed and why he was behaving this way…until it was reframed to me that he was ALWAYS this way but had just been hiding it for years–squeaking bits out over time–until he could no longer play the “good guy” part anymore.

    I’ve dropped this wisdom bomb on several people over the years–that their ex didn’t change, he just revealed his true self. And…It. Is. Life. Changing. That they were duped (understandably so). It helps people let go and stop pining because why would you pine for someone who’s inherently shitty?!

    • This is so true.

      When I was pregnant a few decades ago, I remember feeling SO great when I switched out of my regular jeans and into those maternity jeans with the stretchy panel. Heaven!

      I suspect that my ex probably feels the same relief now that he doesn’t have to pretend to be a good guy of good character.

      Wearing a mask must be exhausting. Now he can be his true, selfish self! Jekyll let Hyde out.

      As my therapist reminds me, he was always a bit of a shit. Yours truly spackled liked hell. As I’ve said before, I saw so many red flags that I thought I was in a parade.

      You’re right, NotANiceChump. They don’t change. When we stop blaming ourselves for what always was, we will feel relief.

      • “I suspect that my ex probably feels the same relief now that he doesn’t have to pretend to be a good guy of good character.” Mine is doing the same thing with a younger wife-appliance type…he’s opting to repeat the same “nice guy” pattern with a much younger person who will be duped until she isn’t. Sadly, she’ll probably spend a decade of her life trying to please this man who will become increasingly dissatisfied that all of his “unmet needs” aren’t being met until full discard happens. But, maybe she’ll be smarter than me and get out sooner–realize who she’s really dealing with. Who knows. She’s good to my daughter so I sort of hope she sticks around until my kid’s a little older…because who knows what the next one will be like?! And I selfishly want my child to have consistency and predictability in her life. This young woman wasn’t the OW, and I wish her no ill will. I assume she knows nothing about his cheating past and, as we all know here, telling her is not a great tactic.

  • His cheating shouldn’t have been what made me seek a divorce. I should have left due to his awful treatment, manipulations, lies, and sociopathic behavior years ago. I’m now fighting like hell to get out and get my chance at a real life.
    If I can just figure out how to deal with this custody battle he’s created.

      • Thank you. Lately I’ve wished I’d waited til the kids were older. But I just couldn’t take it. I just don’t know how to let my precious babies spend more time than they’ve ever spent with him and starting now. I stayed with him to protect them yet I won’t be able to. He’s doing g it to hurt me and them and because he can. It’s evil.

        • LC, your ex has placed your family in a double bind. None of this is your fault. By standing up for your values, you are teaching your kids how to be good people and showing them that you are worthy of love and equitable treatment. And that they are. You are taking a stand against entitlement and abuse, and you’re giving them a chance. I don’t blame her, but I wish my mom had been able to do this, for her own sake and for mine/my sisters’.

          • LC, check out One Mom’s Battle site / Tina Swithin. Some of her experience and resources may be helpful. I used her post separation and divorce wheel the last time I went to court to help me focus as well as passing a highlighted copy of the points that he was doing to my attorney.
            Leaving sends a stronger message to your kids than staying. I tased too long.

            • Informal,
              Did you find the attorney and judge were receptive to the wheel and highlighted points? I actually looked at that last night and it was really helpful to me.

              I suspect we all think we stayed too long at some point. I know I cannot do this much longer, but thinking of him being with the kids for long periods makes me physically ill, as I know what he is like. Its very covert manipulation, with moments of rage that terrify the kids and me. But he pretends so well to be such a nice guy.

              • I’ve been at this since 14 with the same attorney and have tried to educate her. I gave her books AFTER the divorce because I felt she didn’t get truly disordered tactics despite being an attorney and previous judge and she tried to get Dr. Simon to speak here but he was booked. I didn’t hold it against her because she never has been in that hell. I basically wrote her a novel on his predictability and the sadistic things he did knowing she was charging me to read them. If I gave a photo, I included a sticky note with an explanation.
                It was the last trial that I gave her the wheel of post separation and abuse in preparation. I feel she understood much better. Even though she thought he was bipolar after the first mediation, I knew there was so much more.
                I think there are attorneys that just get it. Judges are former attorneys so some of them get it and thankfully the last one did. He was new to family court which worried my attorney but due to COVID he gained experience before my case.
                I guess I’m saying document, give them everything you feel will help your case even a wheel of abuse. it’s hard after abuse to let go but you have to move past fear and say fuck the ex’s feelings.(I’m still fearful and use the attorneys as a buffer so no contact there) He does not care about yours. Your number one job with the disordered is stay ahead and by living with them you know their patterns. I’ll add no contact if possible. He underestimated me because I was literally taking notes with dates and times the last four years we were married.
                Don’t give up! I looked at other attorneys when I felt she wasn’t doing what I needed but they turned me down because i had so much time vested with mine. This final time I think she understands and told the judge we’d probably see him in a couple of years because it’s the ex’s routine.

          • Thank you for the validation. Staying with the disordered is a complete soul suck. I’m currently in the middle of the battle and it is hell, from here I don’t see the light (at least for my kids). The problem is how dads are graded on a curve, we should be so happy a dad wants to spend time with the kids we will accept abuse. I am not sure if he will even follow through with his time. Or will he just to make the kids suffer. Either way its heart wrenching for a mom. And as we all know narc’s don’t compromise. I just really worry about the kids in his care for any time. It tends to be explosive.

            • Dear Longtime Chump,
              I just have to reach out to you, don’t really know where to start, but first want to say YOU are doing the right thing. To stay with him for the good of the children would be wrong. You have made that move, you truly are very very strong.
              Now, is so very difficult for you, and I hope all the expert, understanding, advice from other chumps here will help you in this battle.
              I doubt very much that your cheater will end up wanting to spend time with the children as cheaters care foremost about only their own self. Selfish narcs for the most part.
              As your children get older they will decide for themselves what relationship they want with their father.
              It took a lot of guts to do what you have done, and I just have to tell you, I am rooting for you all the way. I admire your courage, and I am so very very proud of you!
              As an older chump who pick me danced, cheater ended up staying, but it was the narc like character that never never changes and it affected my beautiful children.
              I don’t post often, as I am not a CL, CN success story, as many many chumps here are. Still, I admire the courage, the fortitude that is present on this site.
              I come here to offer encouragement and support.
              YOU, sweet lady are beyond Mighty.
              One day, when I read here, I will find a post from you that tells of better, much happier days, for you and your precious Children.
              Stay Strong ❤️
              Oxo’s
              Peacekeeper

              • Thank you, Peacekeeper for that beautiful message. You speak from a place of wisdom. I will forge ahead, as there is no going back now. As much as I hate this for the kids, I have a glimmer of hope for the first time since I became entrapped in his web of lies.

  • Reframing…OK…

    I lived for YEARS with my WORST fear being that my husband did not love me.

    He acted like he didn’t love me, but when I confronted him on his words or actions, he retreated on his nasty behavior just millimeters back into reasonableness. He knew exactly how many (and what sort of) crumbs to throw at me to keep me in my designated spot (serving his needs and being a good wife appliance).

    Yet he did it over and over…so did he love me or not?

    He lied, cheated, abused, criticized and manipulated…. but did he LOVE me?

    Everything in the universe, for me, hinged on this question. Was he a good guy who too-often acted like an asshole but his good side was going to come to the surface (any day now) or was he a mean bastard who I over estimated?

    After he died, I found something he wrote that said:

    “I never loved my wife”
    (it was during his affair with Susan of Seattle but I no longer think that matters)

    Well then.

    and the earth didn’t crack open and swallow me whole

    Reality: I was married to a man for 26 years who did not love me….and I still have years of my life to live and the guy who cracked the hidden hard drive open (for me to read these words) is a wonderful man cooking me dinner.

    I guess the answer to whether he loved me or not doesn’t matter anymore – hey honey, what is for dinner?

  • Narrative that keeps looping in the minds of my 3 kids: “Dad ruined our life.”
    Reframe: “He didn’t ruin our life. He ruined his life. We were always awesome. And now we are free!”

    • Yes! I still have feel sorry for myself moments even though divorce was 9 yrs ago. (Moments are good as it used to be weeks, then days, then hours, then minutes.) In those moments I am angry that he ruined the life I thought I had. Never worried about bills, traveled the world regularly, threw great parties, gave back to the community & had a wonderful retirement in the works, etc.

      But I reframed it as I am who I was always meant to be. I’m not a cheater, a liar, a thief, a deceiver, a loser or a backstabber. I didn’t runaway from my life & recreate a new one with someone 24 yrs younger (not schmoopie). I have compassion & dignity. I have CL & CN. I have good health. Not too happy with my life right now but it’s certainly not ruined.

  • Norovirus had me on the couch for two days so I’m late to this challenge.

    Here are the ideas and phrases from Chump Lady that helped me the most to see clearly: word salad; trying to talk with a cheater is like sticking your head in a blender; pay attention to what they do, not what they say; trust that he sucks; no contact.

    My ex and I are both English professors. My ex was a master of word salad. Language is what I do, and what I value, so I was a sucker for his verbal gymnastics, which were Olympic worthy. He sucked me in early on, with a story he told me about preventing his uncle from performing a racist act. It was the single thing that happened that told me he had values similar to mine, and had integrity. He told me, forty years later, that he’d made it up.

    He used language to confuse me and keep me secured, often beginning his missives with a sad sausage appeal. But he also would make a promise to do something, or alter his behavior, that he never followed through on. Engaging with his verbiage really was like sticking my head in a blender, and I was scrambled for far too long, helped along by my internalized belief that he was more intelligent than I was (a belief he inculcated in me early, despite consistent evidence of my own academic achievements to the contrary).

    Once I was alerted by CL, I started paying attention, and began to understand that his promises were empty ones, and his explanations were circular, confusing, and often downright contradictory.

    I started totting up in my mind the number of times he would not follow through, and after enough evidence, I got to the point of being able to trust that he sucked, and to be able to approach his missives with the warning to myself to trust that he sucks and this will be a bunch of self-serving word salad. And so it always was.

    By the time we separated I was no longer subject to the manipulation of his word salad, though he kept trying through the divorce to achieve a more favorable settlement for himself, and then after, so I could continue to serve in wife appliance-type ways. I knew the only way to free myself from his manipulative and self-serving word salad was no contact, and no contact it is.

    No contact is easy for me, because I know that it’s difficult enough to rebuild after 36 years of marriage (and 40 of being entangled with him); the last thing I need is him, trying to stick my head back in his mind-fuck blender.

  • I used to think how stupid I was for not finding out about the affair sooner. Stupid for not realizing she was capable of an affair before I married her.

    Now I think how stupid she was to fall for a married man. To think he would leave his wife for her. To throw away the sure thing, me, for a chance with a total con artist. Stupid to not see he was a con artist.

    I don’t like being friends with, much less married to, stupid people.

  • “He is whatever whoever he is next to needs or wants or expects him to be. Like a sociopath or skinwalker. He is just who you need.”

    37 years ago when I met him, I was in AWE at “how much in common” we had. 32 yrs married and on DDay 3 I had my own Ah Ha moment. He was unfixable, not worth my time, love or anything else. Turns out he was NOTHING like me and his double life was proof. Hs Mr Nice guy was just a persona and under that mask was a very disturbed person. It has taken years to refrain all my head noise, the take away I have is, He didn’t ruin my life, He ruined his own!!

    And yes he has, now I sit back quietly watching the calamity that follows him. I only have to see him at grandbaby birthdays and I know for certain he KNOWS I KNOW who that real monster is.

    Cleansing the kingdom is what I call living in my home with nothing that reminds me of him!!! Its great to be free from the BS

  • I reframed the idea that he didn’t think I was good enough to the truth; I was too good for him.
    He even admitted it. He said he chose to be with people more at his level because his poor widdle fragile ego couldn’t handle how much better of a person I am and what failure he was as a husband and father.

    Naturally, being a better person and therefore not failing wasn’t the solution in his alleged mind. Drinking, cheating and hanging out with lowlife scum was his solution. Because stupid.

  • It’s been a few years, well 4 since d day number 2. Yes, I’m definitely a chump. I guess reframing it was just finally moving on. I”m with a wonderful woman now. Didn;t think that was gonna happen. Didn’t think I’d be saying any of this. Yes Ex Can still be a thorn at times, but the grey rock was money Resisting, and if you think about it, it’s not even resisting. It’s just putting up you’re boundaries like anyone would. Yes, children can make that difficult. Just think about it though. Just because you have children with someone doesn’t mean that they have ANY control over you’re life or how you parent, or who you choose to be with. Maybe I’m blessed now or maybe I’ve just done the work to heal from the damage that my marriage was. WHICH, I was a part of. I am not giving her any passes. I;m just simply saying…..move on. You will never get any wreckonciliation and if you try, pray, or beg for it, It simply is unlikely to happen. When I accepted my role in all of it, that I had allowed it, the healing came from within. I ain’t perfect, never gonna be. But I am pretty damn good at being me. Let them be them. They are not in our lives. The people that love us are. If you have the divorce papers, you have the rules right there on paper. This is you’re life, like it or not. Just a hint, choose like or you will be a bitter soul. Trust me on this one, you don’t want to be that when another person comes along. That was a lot of talking, I guess I should have said in shorter words that my “reframe” is to just be you and gods be damned if you aren’t good enough to be that. Never lose who you are. You are good enough!!!

  • Reframing being chumped: I gave trust and love. He betrayed it and was not worthy of my regard. I got the gift of knowledge and the motivation to go. He lost my care and regard. Now my love, care & effort is now directed elsewhere and he has no part in my future.

  • Just a general comment: before I found Chump Lady (and some other sources/books on narcissim) I was in the fog about my relationships problems. Now I know this was unnecessary, because once you understand the dynamics of narcissistic/chumpy relationships, everything falls into place. Once you know it, it’s a simple pattern.

    In my life I have been seeing 5 different therapists and none of them was able to pinpoint this, provide me answers I was so desperately looking for. I find it a shame that it took my own googling and finding this blog really by chance (it was recommended on another blog) to be able to FINALLY say: that’s it! I’m not that original, in fact there are heaps of people with the same relationship patterns. The awareness CL has given me is the equivalent of many therapy sessions I have now spared (although I could still use some, even with the knowledge I have now).

    One psychologist explicitly advised me to avoid internet, and not to believe “what’s out there”. I wonder wether this was sincere or whether she was just scared of the competition with her lousy therapy sessions.

  • There was a moment when a light bulb went off and there it was: REFRAME. I wasn’t trying for it; it was just there, plain as day.

    My husband left me for a woman who seemed, to me, as though she was a stepping stone out of the marriage for him. He wanted to be free, but didn’t have what it took to tell me, and the only way he could get out was to have a helper, a protector, a shield, a life boat.

    My response to the declaration that he was unhappy, and therefore leaving, was to schedule up my time. We were retired early, living the life in a foreign country, where we had just moved, and I knew no one there. He had been a planner and a scheduler, and the first day without him made me realize that I was gonna have to assume that role for myself or I would begin to feel very lost.

    So I signed up for school two nights a week. I went to divorce recovery one night a week. I went to another meeting once a week, where I had met a few people. It was a meeting we had gone to together, but I just decided to boldly keep going. The weekends, though… what a challenge! There were no groups or clubs to join on Friday night or Saturday night. I joined a church so Sunday morning was covered, and went to the bible study on Sunday evenings, but Friday and Saturday were not easy.

    I made it my mission, on all the other evenings, when I was with people, to invite and invite until my weekend nights were covered, and I found, to my surprise, that people took me up on my invitations! We went out, had good times, and then THEY started invited ME! My calendar began to fill up.

    Soon I had some friends, and I decided to have a bonfire on the beach. I got a fire permit from the local fire department, asked some acquaintances who were in a band to come and play, and invited people from my groups. About 75 people came! We all had a great time on the beach.

    I realized that I felt happier than I had ever felt before. And I began to feel sad for my ex. He only had one woman! And no real friends!

    In that moment of realization, I felt that there was a victory of some kind. I felt that I had survived the loss of the relationship, all the memories and triggers associated with that relationship, the what-might-have-beens, and the looking back over time to piece together the real history of “us.” There were so many people out there to get to know!!! There was a world of new relationships to explore! When thoughts of him came to the surface, they were quickly discarded because I was living in the present, making plans, being busy, having fun and feeling alive.

    After some time of busy-ness, scheduling up my evenings and meeting people, as if my life depended on it, I began to settle down and reflect. I found that I was thankful. Thankful that there were no more unexpected rages. No more stolen glances at other women. No more feeling left out of the finances, of the planning, of the deep thoughts about life. No more conversation avoidances. No more of the daily things I had been dealing with for years! I could just sit by the fire, look out the window, and feel glad to be alive.

    • Wow, so inspiring!

      I just changed country and (even though I’m younger) I find it quite challenging. There are good moments, but building up a new network of friendships takes time!

      • Hi Giraffy,

        It depends on where you are. I was in Canada and I’m American. Canadians have a love/hate relationship with Americans, and when we moved, we were still together for a few months. I told my husband that I didn’t think I could make friends there; the women were cold and aggressive. I’m a southern woman. But there’s nothing like grief to level the playing field and make all people equal! And I found that by persevering with invitations, (as I said, as if my life depended on it,) I had some takers. Not many at first, but I just kept at it. (Doesn’t everyone love to be INVITED?) And it just started happening.

        It can for you, too. I was fortunate in that I was retired and not working, and I had some money. I don’t have any of that now and I work all the time, and I’m back in the south, and it’s much more difficult. I don’t have many friends here at all.

        • Hi Light Heart, thank you for replying 🙂

          It’s quite hard to relocate.. and sorry to hear that going back home seems difficult. I relocated quite a bit in my life (in Europe) and I know a lot is possible with perseverence, but I’m starting to realize that maybe I prefer sticking with people & places I know (& that know me) rather than trying the adventure all over again. I would so much like to grow roots somewhere but I seem kind of incapable of it..

  • I had to really think about this one and could think of that my ex was vapid and a sociopath – someone who was a chameleon with no real hobbies and lives for validation from others to feed his ego – a real covert narc. He is the one who abandoned his family and abdicated his role unethically and without morals – that my son and I are not a broken home – he is the broken one that and we are just fine. I still deal with the lies and trauma from the abuse but I sleep better at night knowing that I’m no longer tying my life to him or dealing with lying and cheating. I don’t look at it as loneliness – I see it as solitude.

  • It is SO funny I always thought he was the more intelligent one in our marriage. I sacrificed my career to raise kids and lead the household because he was working a lot and somebody had to…Meanwhile I managed still to work full-time (!), but in worse job I could have because I had to be at home at 4pm to take children from preschool etc…At the same time he was ONLY working and making a big fuss about that.
    Now, a year after break-up, almost divorced – I have the best career ever, I earn much more than I used before and I am appreciated and I love my job.
    And you know?
    I was the more intelligent one. The problem was he made this image management of himself that I believed. Now when I have to deal with him during divorce – I regularly make facepalm how stupid, stupid man he is.
    All we need is to stand up for ourselves, love and appreciate ourselves – because our worth does NOT depend on any man. It took me some time but finally I see it now clearly.

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