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Why Can’t I Get Them Out of My Head?

panopticonDear Chump Lady,

I need your take on what is still happening to me nearly eight years after D-day.

I went no contact almost immediately. My cheater had asked for a sort of break (we called it a vacation, I think– she said out of the blue ‘I just want to see what my life is like without you in it’), and D-day came right before the break. I thought the break was to be a break from daily stress because I had had seizures and had failed the bar exam and was studying around the clock while working and adjusting to seizure meds…it was tough.

We had been together for over seven years. I had no idea of an affair or that it was a planned fuckfest with cheater’s best friend’s girlfriend. I started the break on D-day and temporarily moved out. She asked me not to tell my family. A few weeks later I served cheater with dissolution papers and made her sign my dissolution contract, which included ‘do not ever ever ever EVER contact me in ANY way that is not business related.’ I told her she killed it, and I am burying it, and it is DONE. I don’t think we ever spoke again apart from sanitized business communications and the occasional blowup from her about money, which I smoothed out with an icy detachedness that I am still proud of. She did send me a letter four months after D-day, after she had moved in with Schmoopie and Schmoopie’s child. I opened it, read the first line of ‘I have tried to write to you so many times,’ closed it, resealed the letter, and sent it back, with: ‘I read the first line only. Actions say it all. Keep your words,’ scrawled on the envelope. I had a nearly fatal seizure the next morning. She still doesn’t know.

She and Schmoops did join a softball team apparently for the purpose of playing against me for the next two years. I never spoke to or looked at them, just right through them. They also started a wedding photography business together and worked all of our mutual friends’ weddings. I never spoke to or looked at them. I also terminated the friendships with the friends after the wedding days. I got one drunken text from Schmoops about three years after D-day (‘I’m sorry and I respect you…it was hard seeing you tonight…if you don’t want to speak to me please pretend this number doesn’t exist’), after they were already married (on the two year anniversary of D-day, incidentally). I never responded.

Until I found CN a few months ago, all of this activity seemed to me to be sheer cruelty, not permutations of Impression Management and temptations to Dance. I deleted all social media around D-day when I realized they were going be prolifically posting their love alongside former friends of mine, and I still have no social media except Pinterest. I have had a militant policy with my friends who see them at social gatherings to never divulge anything about me or my life. Though sometimes friends have told me negative things about Them, and I am still friends with the other Chump involved here, who tried unsuccessfully to get visitation with Schmoops’ child. My ex made damn sure that didn’t happen.

So it sounds like I was and am no contact. But is that really correct? D-day was almost eight years ago, and I am married and just had a baby with my wife, who is the most magical and wonderful partner I could have conjured for myself. And yet. I still feel this CONSTANT awareness of Them.

I was unable financially or medically to move away after D-Day. I also wanted to make this new town my own, my territory (we had JUST moved across the country to be near her family in California, and I am from the East Coast, meaning the law license that I finally earned exactly one month prior to D-day was only valid here).

I have a terrible fear of running into Them, though I never have. Part of me wants to run into them, especially when I was pregnant or when I am in trial kicking ass. I feel this awareness daily that I might see them, that they might see what I am wearing, what classes I am taking at the gym. Will they see my Pinterest? Can they, even though I blocked them?

I still have friends who are former friends of theirs, who I now recognize as Switzerland Friends, but I feel like it is far too late to dump them almost a decade later when their friendships with ex and Schmoops are already over. When I have contact with these people I gloss my life over to make it perfect and awesome, anxious that details could filter back to Them. I make sure no pictures of me and my family are posted on social media.

My best friend is still friends with ex on facebook, for ‘purposes of watching the trainwreck.’ She is under strict instructions not to tell me ANYTHING, even if they get divorced or die. But I hate that she can see them. I still see ex-grandma once every few months (she loves my wife and baby and truly loves me and supported me during my worst times…I can’t cut her off, though I do not think ex knows the extent of our contact or whether we are still in contact), and we do not discuss Them (though Grandma has given some details over the years when I have probed — about their jobs etc). An acquaintance who I have now cut off let me know that ex was expecting twins about three months after I gave birth. This led me into post partum crazy, to do something I had NEVER done before… Google them. BAD IDEA. That was a year ago.

Anyway…I did get into therapy about this and found CN (I love you people), and I am working on redirecting my thoughts. I even sometimes have dreams about Them. Every time I drive by certain restaurants, I feel anxious and upset, remembering association with ex. I google myself to see what she/they would see (she was QUITE the internet stalker when trying to woo me back in the day). My job puts me in the newspaper sometimes, and when grandma calls to tell me that she and ex’s brothers read about me and how Big Time I am, I almost always have a full-body sweat and anxiety reactions.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME?! More importantly, how can I fix it? It’s a low grade panopticon. I give them too much power. Why do they have so much real estate in my head? How can that be possible? I KNOW they suck. As you say, who cares what they think? Yet I want them to see me in my perfect job with my amazing life. They could move away, die, or get divorced, and I don’t think I would ever find out, because after the whole post-partum Google fest I gave everyone in my life strict instructions to never mention them to me ever again under any circumstances. I can’t just cut off ex’s relatives because of my paralyzing fear that it will get back to ex and she will crow in jubilation that she still has an impact on me. Same with former Switzerland friends. I also can’t hurt Grandma like that.

I’d love to be free of this and wonder what decisions I would make/would have made had I not been in the imaginary panopticon all these years. Maybe I still don’t trust that they suck and fear their judgment of me? I really need my friend CL and my family CN to help me. It has been way too long for me to be dealing with this daily.

Thank you,

Panopti-chump

Dear Panopti-chump,

Okay, you had me at panopticon. (I studied at the University of London, home of Jeremy Bentham’s skull).

To the uninitiated, Bentham was the founder of utilitarianism (“the greatest good for the greatest number”) and he designed the panopticon as a form of prison control, with one watchman at the center. The design of the prison was such that even though one guard couldn’t watch everyone, the prisoners would feel as if he might be watching, which was as good as watching.

Back to you. This is what I think’s going on — your “no contact” is one-way. You don’t want the details of what’s going on with Them (except when you sometimes do), BUT you absolutely want Them to be aware that you’re AWESOME without Them.

Sure, you shut off your social media, but you still have ex-Grandma and mutual friend broadcast networks. You won’t shut down this portal because…

I can’t just cut off ex’s relatives because of my paralyzing fear that it will get back to ex and she will crow in jubilation that she still has an impact on me. Same with former Switzerland friends. I also can’t hurt Grandma like that.

Who cares if she crows in jubilation? I think your greater fear is that she won’t. You don’t matter that much to her. Evidence of this? The way she cheated on you and cake-ishly broke up.

Either way — jubilation or whatever — WHO CARES? She is your EX. You do not control what she thinks or feels. The thoughts in her head have NO POWER over your life. They don’t touch you in ANY way. If she uncharitably thinks “Panopti-chump looks fat in those jeans” you will NEVER know. And it won’t matter. And you’ll rock those jeans anyway, with or without her thoughts.

People think (and say!) mean things about us all the time. You can’t control that. You can just control yourself. I know it stings. Even imaginary thoughts of judgment. (“I am loathsome. I should never wear those jeans. I should wear sackcloth and apologies.”) But you absolutely need to quash this stupidity inside your head.

When you care about Their approval or Their misery or Their breakfast you are giving Them WAY TOO MUCH POWER. It’s a choice you are making. To invest a couple of nobodies with the keys to your self-worth.

Now, why do you want them to think you’re Awesome? Justice. Triumphalism. But this strategy is totally backfiring on you. Nothing says I STILL CARE more than trying to convince your ex that you’re fabulous in every way. You are still locked in a pick-me dance of your own making.

I get it. To survive this shit we create a narrative (and then a reality) of triumphalism. We move on. We rebuild our lives. We succeed. And wouldn’t it be great if They knew that? And wept? And regretted? And felt small and puny like we once felt small and puny? Wouldn’t it be nice if they choked on humiliation for once, in awe of How Much Better My Life Is Now Without You In It?

So you keep those networks open. You’re not dumb. You know Grandma reports back to Them, and so do those mutual friends.

If you were truly meh, I’d say, okay, you can handle the contact. But clearly this still tortures you, so I suggest you let those relationships wither on the vine. No need to make an announcement. Just be a lot less available. You’re a mom, you’re remarried, you have a career. You’re a busy woman.

Also, it’s an honor and a privilege to be invited into your life. Start being more selective, okay?

I gave everyone in my life strict instructions to never mention them to me ever again under any circumstances.

Okay, and how is that less “paralyzing” then cutting them out getting back to them? In both cases you’re announcing YOUR CONTINUED EXISTENCE REALLY UPSETS ME.

They exist. Radically accept this. They may be happy, they may suffer. They aren’t in your life. There is no justice except the justice you create for yourself — the gain-a-life thing. Why would you want to build a whole new world and then allow some crappy old characters back in?

Here’s another thought — people who reject you feel really powerful.

You can see this dynamic EVERYWHERE. With children who dance for the attention of their shitty parent. In sycophant politicians. At the 8th grade lunch table and who sits or doesn’t not sit with the Cool Kids.

You can see it in every glossy magazine selling “exclusivity” — are you worthy enough? Here’s a fabulous thing — don’t you want it? Just the PREMISE of maybe being rejected jolts people to attention. What? I might miss out?

Anyone watch Fran Lebowitz? I think she’s very witty, but her entire schtick is complaining that the world doesn’t live up to her exacting expectations. New York isn’t in the 1970s anymore. We have computers. Tourists suck. Ad infinitum. She does it entertainingly, but it’s all narc-y “Oh, you missed a spot.” You Fail to Measure Up. Hahahahahaah.

People who reject you are JUST people who reject you. They too will be rejected by someone sometime because that’s how the world works. Just because the Rejecters rejected doesn’t mean you’re a reject. It means you’re ordinary. You got your heart stomped on. You were disappointed. You didn’t get something you deserved. Justice was denied. The jury voted and the jury are bastards.

The thing with infidelity is, the cut is so intimate, so personal, that we take this rejection very deeply. 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.

You’re going to get on with your life and succeed — because that is who YOU ARE.

Sure, it’s nice to have an arch-villain to spite and prove wrong. That’s a certain kind of fuel. But it’s limited. It won’t take you the distance. Defining yourself against Them worked, but why not let them go now? You don’t need Them to be YOU.

They don’t matter. The guard is asleep at the panopticon. Do what you want.

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.
    • This particular advice is something I have been attempting to explain to a friend. Now I can stop struggling to explain and just have her read this post. Thanks CL for lightening my load and helping my friend. I’m most grateful for all you do!

  • It is such a relief to know that I no longer care if he’s there. I know what he is, the people who matter to me know what he is and have my back – and the people who think he’s ok don’t matter to me. Nil interest. And … its Tuesday here!

  • “The guard at the panopticon is asleep.”

    Well put. Even 5 years out, I still have the nagging feeling the DOCTOR is out in “My audience” watching. I work hard to make choices under the assumption that he’s dead, just so that I make choices without him being a factor at all.

    Because a part of me – STILL wants to prove that he was WRONG ABOUT ME.

    Wrong to wrong me, wrong to lie and steal and so very VERY wrong to have been cruel to me and to discard our children. That he was Wrong to replace us. Wrong not to be content with the family we created…wrong to treat us as if we were not enough.

    One thing that helps me in the here and now (because I’m partly at meh) is the realization that regardless of whether the DOCTOR even knows he was a shithead – let alone would inform me of any regrets —

    I know MY life is better without him. Other than having less income, all other aspects of my life are better without him.

    He treated me (and our kids) badly, which makes him an asshole. I don’t want an asshole in my life.

    Panopti, you KNOW in your head that your ex mistreated you. You KNOW this cognitively. But I think a part of you is not totally convinced. You retain some haunting self doubt.

    Somehow you have to get truly truly convinced of your better position in life (better than being with your ex) and however you get there, then get the message to your heart.

    **Where the head goes, the heart will eventually follow.**

    • DOCTOR’s1stWife….. “part of you is not totally convinced…” Haunting self doubt. That’s what it is, man. Does it help to pretend he is dead?

      • Yes. It does.

        I think of it less as pretending though, and more like the persona is in fact dead.

        The Python portrayed himself as someone who vehemently disliked liars. He probably did dislike lying EXCEPT when it came to himself, because as a narcissist he’s special and the rules don’t apply to him. But he left that part out (lying by omission!) – never openly acknowledging that his belief was that “liars are really, really bad… except for me.”

        That person, who supposedly valued honesty as much as I do, is dead. In his place is a sneaky slimy snake. Who used to put on an act and pretend to be a person of high moral standards. THAT person is no more.

        I don’t care what a snake thinks about me.

        • Yes, that’s how I think of it. The husband I thought was real never existed. It was a facade. My best friend told me, he basically died. I had to grieve like my husband had died because that’s pretty much what happened from my perspective. It did help. I’m working through the grief and healing.

        • Hopium, my ex was the same. Always talking about character, and her watchword was ‘integrity.’ Always super honest about everything! I think back now, my gosh, what a mask she created, and what a spectacular explosion. No wonder extensive Impression Management is so important — and I do wonder, as I guess we all do, who the person we married really is?

  • You are a star Panopti-Chump. Your defective ex and their Schmoops should be recognized as the defective people that they are. You have no time in your life for defective people like them. You are out of their league. Put that energy into your health and your new family and don’t waste it on their existence. Let them go.

  • Just yesterday I was thinking—it’s been long enough. Maybe reading CL every morning is keeping me away from meh. And then today I realize that there is still more pain that I cannot express properly and so reading the mighty CL and CLN is a necessary and beneficial part of my day.
    Thank you for today’s letter! It offered clarity to why even AFTER gaining a life, I still feel immature and vulnerable to the opinion of the FW and AP (former friend). This stuff is HARD…but grateful for this club of incredible peeps!

    • Me too. I’m almost 6 years out now. I’m rocking the Grey Rock. I’m living my life. But I still read here almost daily as there are still pearls of wisdom that hit me upside the head and make me aware of sore spots I didn’t even know where still there.

    • I’m with you 100%. I’ve been divorced almost five years and reading Chump Lady daily makes me wonder if I’m the only one who can’t get to meh (on the inside; I present just fine on the outside. Holding onto “fake it til you make it”).

      “Trust that they suck” is another something I hold onto. But living in a world where the sparkly ones with the shiny toys get all the attention and accolades, it can be difficult to always believe in. And while there has been a lot of karma in my favor, it seems elusive or not strong enough, at times.

      Tracy, today’s advice is perfect. Thank you!

      • When the first thing I do, isn’t, check CL and the topic. I know I will be heading to meh. I spent 46 years as a co-dependent person. I believe, I need time to learn healthy choices.

    • BigCity, I had the same thoughts — why does it bring me such comfort to read all of this daily? It really is a balm. You Gain a Life, but there is more..it’s humiliating to still admit to feeling this way, but I figured CL of all people would be able to help.

      • I also wonder why I’m here daily and whether it’s preventing me from getting to meh. But it’s a great comfort to be with people who are going through the same shit. And I do think cheating is the greatest betrayal and getting through it takes years. I’m also doing the ‘you didn’t pick me dance’ letting people who are still in contact with him know how great my life is. It’s only been 18 months since the final split but 21/2 years since the final d-day. There are some days when I’m rocking it and feeling like I’m getting over it and other days when I just cry and cry. I’m in a new relationship and all my friends think he’s wonderful and he is but sometimes it feels like I’m with him because he looks like a massive step up from Fuckwit. And I want Fuckwit to know this.

        • I think being at meh and being healed are different things. I’m at meh, in that I care not what my ex does in as much as it does’t waylay my daughter, and I truly want him to just leave me alone (I think he’s gross), but I still suffer from PTSD and other psychological and emotional fallout from the relationship with my cheater. This site helps me contextualize some of that stuff and continues to provide validation that it’s ok to not be totally healed. I still cry pretty regularly at trauma triggers, but those things are bifurcated from any feelings I have about him. The trauma is my cross to bear, unfair as that may be.

          So, yea, sounds like you still care a little about him–wanting him to know how great your life is and what not (as if that fuckwit being impressed with you matters!). But I encourage you to not confuse lack of total healing with those thoughts. I may cry the rest of my life, on occasion, about my trauma. I don’t know. But I care not for my ex.

          • The distinction between “meh” and “healing” as you describe it is very helpful. Thank you!

            • It’s late but for those of you still reading tonight, I want to say that I am very much at meh, in fact, grateful to the AP that she took him off my hands. But I read every day without exception. There is so much wisdom here. I’ve learned how to help guide my children through dealing with a narc parent, how to respond to intrusive questions, how to hold firm boundaries and how to trust my gut. The whole CL lexicon is helpful with its concise encapsulation of ideas – I told my stepdaughter she may need to ‘fix her picker’ and that sparked an interesting conversation at the dinner table that might not have happened if I didn’t have that handy phrase.

              I also come to provide aid and comfort to the newbies as I think this is one way to support CL’s work. My thought is to follow your gut if you think this place is keeping you stuck but I suggest you don’t put undue pressure on yourself.

              There are no easy answers to healing from this sort of betrayal and no quick timelines. It is hard work and the process is not always linear. Be as gentle and patient with yourself as you would with a hurt child because you deserve all of the compassion your big, chumpy heart has given to others.

              • Wise words!! Thanks so much. CL is one of the very few sincere pearls left on the interwebz.

    • BCC

      I am a long timer in 12 step programs and a line said at almost every meeting at the end is ‘Keep Coming Back’.

      I have been trained in that tradition and even after decades of meetings I STILL learn something new EVERY time despite the fact that the same stuff is being said that was being said way back when….and the thing I also know is that despite the fact that I know this I still have resistance to going to meetings. As I have been taught, I go anyway.

      I have applied the same thinking here because I know I will continue to learn because I keep learning something even though it may be the same something I have already read over and over and over again.

      When someone speaks the Truth, as I know it, that Truth expands and deepens opening onto insights that I hadn’t seen before; each new insight opening the way to greater understanding and ‘aaahhhh moments’.

      I find Truth here on a regular basis and letting go has gotten easier with time. What I love about CL is that her message stays the same. I know she will be clear and concise and I read even though I may not see what she is writing about yet – I know someday I might get it.

      I don’t want to miss ‘getting it’ so I read and read and read on.

      Only yesterday what I realized is that what I am missing now isn’t him at all. It is who I was when he was who I thought he was.

      I loved being a wife and mother. It was something I could depend on and, after 30 years, I had a well established identity and purpose in that role.

      Yesterday what I grieved was for that woman who lost her ‘job’ – her identity as a wife and all that went along with it.

      I am indeed a new woman now and I am absolutely glad of that but….there is the reality of who I was despite who he was that I grieve. A grief of my own not really attached to him or who he was.

      So I keep coming back for surprises like that.

      You hit in on the head with your comment.

      • Thank you so much for this: “Yesterday what I grieved was for that woman who lost her ‘job’ – her identity as a wife and all that went along with it. I am indeed a new woman now and I am absolutely glad of that but….there is the reality of who I was despite who he was that I grieve. A grief of my own not really attached to him or who he was.”

        I’ve never thought about it like that, but this is so important.

  • I feel bad for what she went through. I hate seeing people suffering. She is not over her ex. I feel bad for her spouse. Please get the help you need. Be it therapy/medications/mental heath professionals. You don’t control what other people say or do. Some people suck.

  • I’m trying to get there. I am working on the I am worthy part after 15 yrs of gaslighting, lying, cheating. The hardest part I’m facing are the older children from my 1st marriage who were young when I married Stbxh. They still want to be around him. That’s hard. He spent years making me look like wicked witch of the east to cover his cheating. While he was Mr. Easy going, Mr. Goodtimes. I’m trying not to be hurt but its really hard.

    • Are your older children old enough to read Chumplady? That’s another huge shit sandwich
      you don’t deserve. We’re not supposed to negotiate our kids relationships with our abusers. But the thought of mine having happy times with Mr ‘perfect’ cheater, discarder step-dad almost killed me. I told them he was a fake, and it would really upset me if they spent time with him. Luckily for me, they didn’t want to – even though they had really loved him and thought the world of him. Since he moved on to a whole new set of step kids one day to the next, maybe he wouldn’t have had an interest either!
      Hopefully, their desire to spend time with the fuckwit will fade in time. Hugs to you.

      • Since they are older, I wrote them an email to: 1. Apologize for putting them through another life of chaos, especially with me feeling like I was crazy from all the gaslighting. 2. I was clear to them that he has cheated on me for all 15 yrs of us together. 3. That the last 7 yrs he cheated on me emotionally and sexually with his stepsister who at one point lived in our home for 4 months. That I am working to be a better parent from here forward and not continue my poor coping skills.
        He was very effective at triangulating the kids with me, to cover his cheating. He comes across as this “I did wrong- I made mistakes, I promise to not do it again” and then turns right around and continues to cheat. He has mastered the double life.
        My counselor reminded me not to put him down. Not to make him look bad. Just keep trying to be the sane steady parent. Just hard after all the years that I spent looking like the crazy witch to repair my relationships with them.

        • I’m so sorry you went through this. I wasn’t there for the full conversations with your counselor… but personally I have no problem telling my children that lying, cheating and betraying somebody… in other words – having zero integrity – is wrong.
          I wasn’t perfect, but I have integrity. He wasn’t perfect, but he had zero integrity and purposely caused harm.
          However, this was a short conversation in the beginning. My kids hate to go there… They don’t want to think about it, it was just too painful so they just stuffed it down.
          Cheating is so so hard on the kids – as well as on us.

  • Well, I need this reminder. I confess that, like the letter writer, I relish the thought of my ex learning through the grapevine that I’m doing well. And my grapevine is stubby–one friend whose husband maintains contact with my ex.

    Of course, I want my ex to be hurt by news of my wellbeing. Revenge feels good. He hurt me; I want to hurt him back. But, in so doing, I keep the focus on him and endow him with too much power.

    He shouldn’t matter at all. A gnat. A spot.

    Also, I can’t control what he thinks. For all I know, he might be happy to hear I’m doing well. Perhaps this would relieve him of guilt. Who knows? Who cares?

    “Out, damned spot.”

    • I think what’s hard for us to get through our head sometimes is that they are pretty much indifferent to us. They don’t care how we’re doing, they didn’t even care when we were married! They are very busy managing their own life, impression management, keeping it all together and justifying their choices. We are the past for them… Remember they are shallow.
      We may as well worry about how the neighbour three streets over thinks about us!

      • So true

        …and so painful.

        They don’t care.

        They don’t love us.

        They suck.

        They are entitled and shallow.

        Their actions tell us what we need to know.

        For some reason, I have such trouble truly registering this.

        In my case, I think my ex cares about one thing above all: the consequences of his behavior, consequences that he views as unjust punishment. He’s The DARVO King.

        • Spinach,
          I think it’s because we can’t believe we made a commitment to someone like this. The image I had of my now-ex is nothing like what he actually was. He was just enough like it on the surface for me to sustain my illusion–and when he wasn’t I spackled.

          • You articulate all of this so well, Adelanto!

            Today’s post is reminding me of a saying that I found very helpful in the early days (weeks, years!): What I saw in him, I did not have. What he had in me, he did not see.

        • I project a lot still as well. But I know that the fuckwit had to move on while he was with me in order to do what he did. And I know that he has to tell himself his new life was the right decision in order to live with himself and his choices… thus sealing his move away from anything that has to do with me. & I know he compartmentalizes.

          I don’t offer him anything any more….so he wouldn’t bother thinking about me.
          Maybe if we reframe it, there’s a freedom in that?
          We don’t have to care. We are off their radar.

      • Zip, so true! If they can do what they do to us, future faking, gaslighting, cheating, manipulating and saying they love us within the relationship, they don’t give a flip or even think of us outside of the relationship. I realized that ex husband of 25 years started doing all of the above the day we got married.
        The only time ex thinks of me and not fondly, when he is writing out monthly settlement check.
        I also take great delight knowing the orangutan 🦧 wanted my life and is now living it, I’m sure, to her dismay. 😂
        He is her fourth husband and if he ever quits bringing home the bacon and frying it in the pan, she will make him her 5th ex husband. 😂😂😂

        • Jokesonyoulynnjazzy, I think it’s so helpful when you know that you don’t want to be with fuckwit anymore – And when you truly know that they are no gift because you’ve lived it. Mine left when he was still playing the great wonderful partner. All his nastiness was covert. On the surface I was still living the dream. And he kept being Mr. wonderful all through the separation except for the initial Jekyll and Hyde discard ( he got back into impression management after that and became the same old wonderful man except that he was discarding me !).
          A lot of this still giving a shit is me not staying grounded in reality. It’s holding on to the fantasy he played out with me.
          This letter is a reminder that I have to work hard at reminding myself of who he is, based on his many lies, betrayal, blame shifting, manipulating, gaslighting and cruel discard, spouse and family swapping.
          This is who he is. Unfortunately he came into my life. But I must move on, and try and flip it in my head somehow to -I don’t want to be with Mr. Fake impression management, covert Narc. He is better suited to the woman who likes to fuck other people’s husbands while she’s married .

      • Zip, this was one of the hardest things to get my head around, but you are so right. It’s so important to remember that, when we are thinking about what they think of us, if our actions (whatever they are–moving on, not moving on) are impacting them the way theirs impacted/impact us, etc., it’s all one-sided. The reality is that we are in their rearview, and it’s all wasted energy on our part. I still struggle myself (and it’s been several years since we separated and just very recently divorced), but I do know that he doesn’t spare a thought for me, what I’m doing, where I’m at, etc. unless it impacts him in some way (like having to square up for kid-related costs).

        • I know!! Personally, I’ve known since the separation that he doesn’t think about me. It was clear that he had changed teams and was fully invested in the OW by the time I found out. I mean, he had to make me a nothing in order to move on one minute to the next and drop our whole life. My pet names were now her pet names. The flowers I received were now the flowers she received. I saw that he was a one trick pony and the OW was getting all the tricks. I’ve had no illusions about that. His family stopped thinking about me and moved on to OW- it’s actually a little comical how shallow they are.
          What bugs me, is that I think about him. That he still takes up space.
          I hate to mention celebrities… So not our life, but it’s comical to think of Jennifer Lopez thinking about ARod. She has moved on! And I highly doubt that he’s going to waste several years of his life pining over that relationship either.
          But that is similar to how much fuckwit’s think about us !

          • It’s like we were married to the same person. And *that* person is now with the same OW: “He is better suited to the woman who likes to fuck other people’s husbands while she’s married .” Check and check. Uncanny.

        • I am impatient to get to meh. Alas, I think of X many times throughout the day. My saving grace is that I had the willpower to go NC from day one. I never look at his social media and I blocked him from mine. While I lament that I am still “hung up” on him and wish I wasn’t, I feel relief that he has no idea. This helps me when I wonder if he ever thinks of me. He may or may not, but at least by appearances, I seem like I don’t think of him, either. I like that he has no idea what I’m thinking or how I’m doing.

          I also wonder whether my journal writing is dragging out my recovery process. I stopped myself from talking about him to friends. I stopped listening to certain music that reminds me of him. But I want to process my feelings so I write privately. (I tried to stop that but I couldn’t resist.)

          I am trying to be patient with myself in my journey to meh, faking it outwardly til I make it, but I worry that I’m never going to be repaired.

  • I get it, Panopti-Chump. I don’t want my fuckwit back AT ALL, I wish him and the OW all the best in their mess, and still I think of them. When I still lived in the same city, I was dead-scared to run into them and their quick-luv baby. (And it actually facilitated my decision to leave.)

    WHY? It’s not rational, but I guess the fuckwit made a huge impact, it was a shocking experience. I do what I can to keep busy, but still have to wait for that moment that I will not think about the fuckwit for weeks. Until then, just trying to learn from how deep I sunk into his centrality in the first place. Trying the exorce the thoughts from my mind through meditation. Reading this blog.

    But: there are moments when I realise that it’s been long ago already and I can feel the meh. He has become a stranger, and we were never meant to be together. I just hope there will be more and more moments like that, but the psyche is a funny thing.

    Good luck!

  • This particular advice is something I have been attempting to explain to a friend. Now I can stop struggling to explain and just have her read this post. Thanks CL for lightening my load and helping my friend. I’m most grateful for all you do!

  • Oh wow I’ve just cried reading this .

    I think we all want this a bit of justification that they were wrong to do what they did and they regret it. This is why it annoys me ( although I understand it) when people say “ oh they will regret it or karma will come but you won’t see it” or they hate it when you live your best life

    What’s the point of any of it then if you don’t see it ? They don’t actually care if you live your best life if they cared at all they couldn’t have did what they did . I’ve never known any cheater have any regrets .

    We all want to shove it in their horrible faces and say see how great my life is without you but many times that’s not true either . Life is hard at the best of times and then swanning about still living it large with the person that helped implode your life is just yet another unjustness .

    No matter how much no contact works from your end ( I pride myself as the no contact queen of Scotland) I always find something out I think most people do . Either through community or children or stalking on google/social media . I want to scream from the rooftop most days “ they are cheats and liars that ruined my life” they are not loves ( middle aged and Young’s dream) I just want some recognition for that.

    It ain’t going to happen , my life is content it’s not great but it’s not bad . It’s nothing like theirs it’s nothing like what was .

    • I know, it pisses me off that they both got to keep their jobs. But if a man can masturbate on a zoom business call and keep his job… then why not!
      What irks me is that I can’t seem to stop the intrusive thoughts.
      And that they get to think of themselves as winners. That the OW is smug and proud and entitled. That he’s still the apple of his family’s eye.
      I hate that I still give a shit.
      And reading the writer’s letter… great new family, wonderful new partner, great job, …. talk about building a great life! And yet still caring. Still being robbed emotionally. Hugs to Panopti. It’s scary.
      Being left really does shit to your head. The minute you think the wound is healing it can fester up again. Ugh.

  • Panopti-Chump,
    One of the reasons you may have this continuing feeling of being surveilled, and have internalized it, so you are constantly aware of how your life is stacking up, is that your ex and Scmoops went out their way to taunt you by joining that softball team specifically to play against you. (Or, alternately, they joined it because they didn’t give a fuck for your feelings at all, so they just went ahead and did what they wanted, which, when you think about it, describes their behavior when chumping you. )

    Also, CL is right: “the cut is so intimate, so personal, we take it very deeply.” It hurts us right down to our core. Recovery includes lots of time and many tools, and one of them is “I’ll show you!” But the repair to our sense of self-worth, of feeling worthy as a person, is not to be measured, nor can it be repaired, by achievements or accomplishments. What we achieve and accomplish can lift us up, and it can reflect back into the eyes of the one who betrayed and discarded us, but if we had an already fragile sense of self, one we’d bolstered over our lives by achievement, or a strong sense of self that had taken a hit from, say, a new or intractable health challenge, sometimes betrayal and discard can feel like a confirmation we aren’t worthy. Boundaries are there to protect us, and sometimes that means to protect us from ourselves. If you haven’t thought about that aspect of this awful experience, it might be worth doing so–and with a therapist, if you decide one is warranted.

    Last, congratulations, on your new life with your wonderful wife and baby!

    • Adelante, I think you are right.
      I did feel watched and taunted but kept going to those fucking games, for my dignity, which was maybe not the best choice (they are both excellent athletes, whereas I am more A for Effort). Same with the weddings.

  • PC,

    I know exactly what you’re going through and it SUCKS – been there – still there on some days.

    At the end of the day, all we have is the knowledge that we were loyal, faithful, honest and genuine and that’s something to feel good about. Cheaters? Not so much.

    I had such a hard time reconciling in my brain what I did to cause the cheating, but the truth is, you can be the most beautiful, intelligent, funny, kind…cash in the bank, good credit score, shit together…and they will still cheat. Why? Because they’re disordered. They lack values and character and it rarely changes.

    Many nights I cried myself to sleep thinking about if they cared, were they hurting they way that I was.

    They don’t and they weren’t. Why? BECAUSE THEY’RE DISORDERED. They lack the empathy and depth to feel and operate the same way loyal and honest people do…and guess what? IT SUCKS TO BE THEM.

    The best thing you can do is completely cut them out and everyone and everything associated with them. There is power in that. When you get to meh, when you become indifferent, you no longer love them or hate them…you simply don’t care.

    And they’ll notice…trust that they will. It will bother them if only slightly. Why? Because narcissistic cheaters LOVE centrality and attention. They’re very aware that you’re thinking about it. There’s a cosmic energy/entanglement still there. Work on releasing the trauma that’s still there…RETURN TO SENDER meditation. When you release that trauma and that energy from your body not your mind (Trauma is stored in the body)…the Karma goes back to sender. This was how I healed.

    They could win 2 billion dollars or they could end up in a box on the street…and you don’t care. It’s the best feeling.

    Another thing that really helped me was recognizing that I couldn’t get past it because of my own ego. I was screaming inside to myself…Im amazing, Im this and Im that…how could they? Again…it doesn’t matter how amazing you are…they will still cheat BECAUSE THEY’RE DISORDERED.

    I get it…you want justice, you want them to hurt the way that they hurt you…eventually it will catch up to them somewhere down the road. You may not ever find out or know about it…but it will. By then, hopefully you won’t give a fuck.

    Love yourself more and more each day. Remind yourself of how you’re grateful that you don’t have a dead soul…that you have in your words “magical and wonderful partner”.

    Cheater and Schmoopie have each other…a cheater. It must suck to have to always have in the back of your mind that you’re a cheater and always having to look over your shoulder.

    The day you left…YOU WON.

    Remind yourself of that each day.

    XOXO

    • PREACH Chumpenhearted- this is it exactly. Repeat after me: They are disordered. If you really really really accept that fact (and it is a fact or you wouldn’t be here)… you will find freedom.

      When I heard from our son that Mr. Sparkles got engaged, I shrugged and asked my son how he felt about the news… he shrugged too… we’re both at Meh when it comes to the antics of Mr. Sparkles and his troop of flying monkeys. You will get there too!

      • Right ON I can see Meh coming. Sounds to me like you are AT MEH! You ROCK!

        Chumphearted: this is truly the Coles Notes to gaining an understanding to Trust that they Suck: DISORDERED!
        I’ve said it continuously here and on other pages. We are in pain but our pain is finite. They get a life sentence. They canNOT change. They are DISORDERED.
        I am glad to clear the sick out of my world. More room for the quality people to enter and share a healthy life with.

  • Oh, PC. Infidelity is abuse, and is traumatizing. Please give yourself some grace, and try not to beat yourself up about those intrusive thoughts. You, me, none of us deserved what our Xs did to us, no matter how crappy they claimed we were. They had full license to dissolve the relationship honorably, but chose not to do so. Truly though, I believe they cheat first, then rationalize it later. That is on them, not you.

    I believe what you experience is normal, frustrating as it may be.

    • “Truly though, I believe they cheat first, then rationalize it later.” I absolutely believe this to be true. Being in a committed partnership, parenting, paying down the mortgage, talking about what happened at work today, what’s for dinner, who’s taking which kid to what to game/birthday/lesson–it’s not glamorous or butterflies-in-the-stomach-y. Suddenly someone starts paying attention to you outside the marriage, flirting, offering a bit of illicit excitement? Well, who could resist? Not a FW, that’s for sure. And then suddenly they’ve crossed the line (whether emotionally and/or physically), and have to cast about for all the reasons why they were “unhappy” (never mentioned it previously and there were zero signs, of course, and may have actively denied it), because they want the butterflies and the “new” and the chance to feel like a twenty-year old again.

    • ‘Truly though, I believe they cheat first, then rationalize it later.’ 👍🏻 After the big surprise ‘I wasn’t happy song’ fuckwit admitted that if it wasn’t for affair with OW we would
      still be together doing fine (until some other kibble machine came along I’m sure ).

  • It is easy to see where you are a superstar – and YOU ARE. I am a bit concerned that your current spouse is getting short shrift though simply because you feel in some way that you must make it clear to your lousy cheating fuckwit ex-wife that she discarded gold for pyrite.

    You do have an awesome life. I think the fewer social entanglements you have with anyone from your former life, the better. This probably means writing ex-Grandma short notes rather than visiting. This should mean dropping people who knew you both and haven’t pitched FW and her Schmoopie overboard. You may want to start with those who are most peripheral to your terrific life and move towards distancing those who are more central to hers.

    I do feel sorry for her grandmother, but she has been around long enough to know that sometimes you have to step away or fade away for one’s own sake. Or ask her to help you help yourself and not share any further information about her granddaughter and her life – even if you should ask.

    Ex-FW doesn’t hold the keys. Never did. You do. You know that intellectually but you don’t quite feel it yet. You will. Tuesday is out there.

    Congrats for all your new-found happiness!

  • I think a lot of us carry oozing wounds longer than seems reasonable (and certainly longer than our friends and family understand). Others think the scars ought to have healed (heck, we think so too); nonetheless, these injuries are deep and lasting.

    One thing I hope you take pride in is the ways you have moved on. Opening yourself up to a new relationship, trusting again, is a huge kind of growth. I don’t feel surveilled all the time (nearly 10 years out), but I have not developed the level of trust you have, the willingness to risk another relationship. Sure, you should work on strategies for moving closer to meh, but pat yourself on the back for all the ways you have shown strength and courage.

    We also see you. We also judge you. And we find you fantastic! (And we aren’t fuck-wits!)

  • PC,

    I think that it very telling that your Cheater Ex didn’t want you to tell your family; she wanted to control the narrative and to cut you off from a vital source of support when you needed it most. F*ck that noise.

    But, fundamentally, you have much to be joyous about; so be joyous about it. To mangle the metaphor, if a tree in the forest stands tall, it stands tall regardless of whether anyone sees or hears it …. the tree knows and that is all that matters.

    LFTT

  • It’s so hard when you live in the same community, with the same interests and circles of friends. I had to move away. A lot of my friends were upset that I was leaving, and felt that I shouldn’t have to change my life because of his fuck up. They didn’t realize that I needed to do it. It has been wonderful and refreshing to not be in the place where my trauma occurred.

    • I too moved away from my ex wife. My friend is now coping with his ex partner/mother of his child now dating some new guy on the scene and he lives five minutes down the road from their old family home. He is constantly now in a state of worry that he will see them together. It’s better being away from the constant daily reminder.

      • FW started a “friendship” with a co-worker of mine (that I never knew about) prior to our marriage going wonky, and lo and behold, it turns out she’s the “love of his life,” which means that he picks her up from the building we both work at *in front of me* and drops her off from their lunch dates *in front of me* and she talks about their wonderful relationship with our mutual co-workers. He also pretends to be a “family friend” in front of *her* husband, who apparently doesn’t know they’re in a sexual relationship–even helps them with household repairs. It’s so gross and beyond what I could have ever anticipated. They are very disordered people and I’m glad to be out of the marriage, but it would be a lot better if it wasn’t in my face. Once the work-from-home era is over, I’ll have to deal with that reality again. I no longer find it humiliating, because they are gross people and they behave accordingly, but it would just be nice to not have to see her or them. (I still have to engage with him over the kids, but I do that via text only and will only be in the same space as he is if I absolutely have to).

        • Wow. You’re one tough cookie. Total props to you- there is no way I could control myself and be as mature and be the “sane” one like that! I would probably get up in their faces and call them scumbags at work and get fired.
          I would also be very tempted to reach out to her husband and let him know what’s going on. I feel bad for him.

          • I did confront her once in her office and requested that she have him pick her up elsewhere, and then made the same “request” to him (“She’s a leggy gal–I’ll bet she could walk one extra block and have you pick her up one street over? That would be *great*, thanks!”). I discussed it with my boss after and we agreed that there would be no more encounters in her office or on campus–not because I’m not justified, but because it could easily be turned around on me. My boss literally said “These f*ck*ers are liars–she could say anything–she felt threatened, you were harassing her. Don’t put yourself in that position.”

            Re the husband–it’s unclear what the situation is. OW has told coworkers that he is okay with her having “friends” (he’s quite a bit older than her), but my daughter says FW and OW are totally sneaking around and lying about it to him (she hears her dad on the phone with OW all the time when she’s at his place). She has a daughter who is the same age (and goes to the same school) as my daughter; I’ve decided to just stay out of it.

        • I would let the husband know (anonymously) that his marriage is a big lie. One message and then leave it be.

  • ‘Reframe it — you gave them a precious gift — your TRUST and your LOVE, and they shat on it. That makes them stupid and unworthy.’
    I would like to see a Friday challenge around reframing.

    • Such a great line!!!

      I’d also endorse the following challlenge: Which line from CL or a member of CN was worthy of copying in your journal, on a post-it note, on your skin (tattoo?) or wherever?

      • I don’t remember who it was, maybe it was CL herself, but; “You didn’t causes it and you can’t fix it.” has stuck with me. I’m a fixer by nature so I had a hard time letting go of that.

  • Panopti-chump: I TOTALLY experienced the panopticon as well. It’s an inevitable side effect of codependency. Your narcissistic ex trained you to guess what she was thinking and feeling all the time—in fact, to believe that *you* were thinking and feeling those things. It’s a very particular kind of fucked-up, and when it’s over, the panopticon is the ghost it leaves behind.

    You need therapy—not focused on the ex, but focused on yourself. The issue at the core of your problem is that you don’t feel like you’re worth enough on your own without someone external to see you and tell you you’re a good girl. A lot of women have this problem: our society pretty much bakes it into us from birth, and being in an abusive relationship just intensifies our need for external validation through inconsistent reinforcement. To escape the panopticon, you have to become your own guardian. You have to learn to give yourself the unconditional love and approval you’re so hungry for. When you’re not relying on external sources (e.g. other people) for validation, you’ll find your ex disappears from the watch tower at last, and you can just open the cell door and walk out and live fully in your new (and wonderful!) life.

    Lots of love and light to you. It’s a tough road to becoming your own guardian and protector, but totally worth it.

  • And the truth is, even when Chumps are living our best lives, the fucktards may not openly recognize this. So to use the panopticon analogy: even when we keep our cells inspection ready, the Panopticon guard can wake-up, barge in and plant contraband whenever they want to.

  • Dear letter writer,

    >I still have friends who are former friends of theirs, who I now recognize as Switzerland Friends, but I feel like it is far too late to dump them almost a decade later when their friendships with ex and Schmoops are already over.

    You can dump people any time you want.

    You don’t mention WHEN, exactly, you started therapy. If it was more recently, then I’d say no wonder you’re still upset: you were dealt a huge trauma and then lived with it for years. Healing takes time.

    But it’s impossible when you’re still surrounded by poison i.e. Switzerland friends, ex-Grandma. Why are you trying to hard to keep these people in your life?

    There’s 7 BILLION people on the planet who haven’t fucked you over (or enabled someone who has), and I suspect you’ll have far more mental bandwidth to go meet them once you’ve cut the dead weight.

  • I will make this a short one:

    NO CONTACT is BLOCKING her phone number in your phone and deleting her in your contacts list.
    NO CONTACT is not opening any personal written correspondence and replying with even one single sentence. Buy a shredder and use it. Even writing return to sender gives her narcissistic supply. Shred. Block. Be done. Don’t chat with Gma about anything except knitting and the weather.

    Oh, and your bestie remains FB friends to keep tabs on the “train wreck.” No. There are people in this world who love to rubber neck at the wreckage and drive slowly by to see the guts and gore. This is NOT EMPATHY. This is voyeurism and it is also sick. When you free up the sick in your life it creates a vacancy for the healthy to enter. You decide who takes up the real estate in your world and in your head.
    Personally, I cannot stand alarmist, tattle-tales who have an insatiable appetite for other people’s pain. They are NOT my people.

    • I thought the same thing about the rubbernecking friend. Doesn’t this person have a life?

      Letter writer, sounds like you have to clear house some more.

      You have a great career, a baby, and a new wife. You should be focusing on THEM, not the garbage from your past.

  • Dear Panopti – been there, still am some days, it’s hard. My advice: go deeper with the no contact. Trust your gut: if it feels bad, wrong, hurtful, chances are it is. Switzerland friends and ex-grandma have their own agenda, chances are they don’t have your best interest at heart, sorry to say.

    You’ve been busy kicking ass, maybe it’s time for some me-time and really taking care of yourself. Get help, love your awesome self, the rest will come.

    And if you run into your ex some day, don’t worry, chances are you won’t recognize that person, BECAUSE SHE NEVER EXISTED.

    ((Big hugs))

  • Panoply, Okupin made an excellent point about getting your self worth through external sources. What I would add to that is it isn’t your skill in the courtroom or your new family that makes you awesome, it’s your character. So you could be a flop as a lawyer and single and still be a wonderful person. Lots of chumps are unemployed, with no partner, and no obvious external accomplishments to brag about, but they are still great people. Their accomplishments are internal; they’ve learned not to let the cheater shake their confidence and are still kind, generous, honest people who did not let being chumped change them. I think you need to focus more on those kind of sources of self worth rather than on what other people can easily see.

    As an aside, I’m so glad somebody else finds Fran Lebowitz annoying. I don’t even find her witty. She comes across as having a stick up her ass about everyone and everything. IMO, it’s not wit if you’re not selective in what you condemn, it’s just being a crank. Our beloved CL is selective, and she selects well. In a head to head wit match, she’d mop the floor with the likes of Lebowitz.

  • I am not the cheater. I am the chump.

    I do appreciate the perspective on my self-centeredness in my letter. I tried to take control when chumped the best way I knew how, to stop the bleeding and prevent more seizures.

    • thanks for replying. When hurt, self-centredness is often exaggerated even to the point of narcissistic behavior (which is present to a degree in all of us).

      Some of what chumps have to find in themselves is how they are setting themselves up for getting hurt. That’s not to blame but to be self-aware. Co-dependency is created usually in childhood from attachment issues. I’d recommend reading Dr Gabor Mate. Also Polyvagal theory and Somatic Experiencing.

  • Yea, they’re living rent free in your head, and only you can stop them. The obsessive nature of your deliberations might be pathological…have you ever been evaluated for OCD? I recommend doing so. With OCD, some people need to wash their hands 52x a day, and others need to run mental loops filled with ex-lover paranoia scenarios. Either way, it’s inescapable behavior. It’s like you’ve used your obsession with them as some coping mechanism for…the trauma? Other life stress? There’re also hints of self-obsession too. That you want them to view you as Perfect and Awesome, etc., is something you should probably also bring to a professional. Because, in a more well-adjusted, mature mindset, you really should’t care what they think. They’re strangers to you, and have been for years.

    Best of luck! I think many of us go through some version of these loops for a while, but we move on–often using ALOT of intentionality and self control to get us past the mental gymnastics. That you can’t move on, after all these years and all these life accomplishments and other blessings, seems like something deeper than just simply not being able to let go.

  • We all want justice. When crime victims are asked what they want, it is always justice. When a repressed or discriminated group of people are asked what they want, it is always justice. What we forget is justice in our legal system is a way to balance the scales. It is not a complete restoration to the way things were, or the way we thought they were. It is not a public whipping, shaming, or shunning. No one proclaims “you were right, he was wrong” as they walk through town.

    When your virginity is gone, there is no restoration, no matter how much you pretend, or your mother cries. When your heart is broken, you can glue the pieces back together, but it will never be the same. We can resist aging, but it happens, and eventually we all die. You can’t go back and be 20 again. Accept what you cannot change. Accept that you cannot do or say or accomplish anything that will change the type of person who hurt you. They never valued you the way you valued them. Their loss.

    Remember the advice about seeking revenge — before you start that journey, dig 2 graves. One is for you, because you will kill who you are trying to get “justice” from the one who wronged you. Eventually they will die anyway. Better for you if you aren’t even aware of it when they go. Making a good life for yourself is the only way you can fill those scales of justice. Work on yourself until you get your balance back. It is the healthy choice to make.

  • Zip, you will get there! It took me five years to put down the Hopium pipe and realize how blessed I was that he chose the orangutan 🦧. Be patient and kind to yourself. I’m cheering you on and know you will get to the other side! 🥰

    • Thanks Jokesonyoulynnjazzy, I know I will too. Sometimes simply reminding myself that he wasn’t trustworthy is enough to get me out of that backsliding funk. Actually I think that’s going to be my go to answer now if I feel the need to tell people why we’re not together… I’ll just say ‘he wasn’t trustworthy.’

  • Dear Panopti-Chump,

    Being rejected can really unseat our brains and throw us off track for so long. Those 8 years of thinking about the clown that cheated on you, you can’t get back. Please don’t spend the next 8 years worrying about someone who was never who you thought she was anyway. Let her significance fade. I’ve learned something from yoga sessions, not sure why this is discussed in yoga (lol), but when people say or “do” mean things, or awful things to you, it is so rarely about you. It is about that person.. She would have cheated on whoever she was married to at that time in her life, most likely. It wasn’t personal, it was all about her. She screwed with your reality. You were an innocent bystander.

    You have a family! So lucky and fortunate! I think you sound like a pretty amazing person! You sound loyal and honorable. Turn that great energy to your baby and wife, and to your clients and your friends and family who are in your life. Anyway, I wish for you much positivity.

  • Pan, What struck me most was your body’s reaction to having had ex in your life. Did your seizures lessen once you got your life back?
    There’s a quote that goes, “Don’t Look Back, That Is NOT Where You Are Going,” and it is so relevant. Rather than focus on what was (or wasn’t), nurture what is. You do have it all: a good job, a new love, and a beautiful child. Place all your energy and action into your best life and only with those who bring you joy. Do not try to fix what you can not…. FOO issues influenced my decision to marry toxic, it is what so many of us knew. Know better now. Best Wishes on your Journey Forward.

  • Dear Panopti,
    I’m writing in late to say, I’m always glad to see another Rainbow Chump posting to CN, although of course I wouldn’t wish Chumpdom on anyone. I’m so glad you have remarried and started a family. If you ever want to chat with other LGBTQ+ chumps, come find us on the subReddit. And live the dream in the Rainbow Capital of the US! If you can afford to live there with your lovely family, you’re way ahead of the curve and have definitely Gained A Life. Happy Pride Month!

  • 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…

    This is something my mother keeps telling me. I just needed to hear someone else say it to sink in. Thank you so much <3

  • I’ve got to second CL – lose all of the mutuals. It’s so freeing. Every time you interact with these folks or remember they are seeing your wonderful new life and wondering if they’ve shared it with the cheater – you are renewing her lease in your head. Evict the whole lot.

    • ‘Evict the whole lot.’ When you put it like that… that every time I share with these people I wonder if it is filtering back, I renew the lease… I never thought of it like that, and obviously I have thought about this a lot.

      You know, I think I will evict them.

  • Every now and then comes a letter that really forces you to think and really makes you consider your own decisions… thanks Panopti-Chump and thank you CL for posting this letter.
    I unconsciously still dream of an apology. Reading your letter today brought back the memories of playing the Pick-me-dance, him telling me about the other woman and downplaying the infidelity, me ending things and at the same time there is this huge doubt in your head “am I overreacting? am I making the wrong decision?”
    It’s this combination of heartbreak and self-doubt… then came the pandemic and I was utterly alone and he had the OW… him posting on reddit about his relationship, communication and how important it is to be transparent with each other… barely weeks after I ended things… I felt so erased…

    Panopti-Chump, Cheating is abuse. I have been no-contact since the day I left and I am also blessed to be in a wonderful new relationship but he still occupies some space in my head, rent-free, that I hope will diminish with every passing second.

    I am already at meh. but today, admitting that I want an apology, that I would like him to hear through the grapevine that I got a suma cum laude for my PhD is a first step for healing….

  • I have discovered something about myself these past few years and I don’t want to stop thinking about him and loving him because I feel like if I do that then he will stop thinking about me. I fear that he will forget about me. Something in my mind tells me if I keep him in my mind keep wondering about what he’s doing keep wondering about their stupid relationship, that he won’t forget about me.

    My friend tells me that he won’t forget about me no matter what. How can you can forget about 30 years of your life.

    I was talking to my 26 year old son a few nights ago and he is still trying to recover after the abandonment of two years ago. He revealed to me that he feels guilty moving on and starting a new life and forgetting about his dad. He is stuck he doesn’t do anything he won’t get a job he doesn’t do anything outside the house. And I just told him that he has to move on he has toMake his own life now without his dad. So for some of the children they feel the same thing we do the abandonment and the loss and the grief.

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