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Years Later and No ‘Meh’

mehDear Chump Lady,

I was married 20 years. It was around year 18 that my ex started the implosion, blaming me for his unhappiness for my views on “life”, that I was “asexual” (not true), and had to be taken care of, which he no longer wanted to do (some truth there – childhood baggage I didn’t realize i was carrying).

While I fully recognize I had improvements to make for myself, our kids, and our relationship, I was 100% WILLING to work on them. But I was the only one working while he pretended… because at the time I was unknowingly up against a much younger 3rd party in the background.

I do not know the extent of their affair. All the behaviors were there — the working out, teeth whitening, body hair shaving, new phone passcodes, gaslighting, anger, defensiveness…blah, blah.

Pretty sure he wanted to make me end it if he was enough of an asshole, but I was fighting for our family and hoping the person he used to be would come back out, and I doubt he ever thought I was strong enough to fight like I did.

So, he eventually had to be the one to call it quits, after 1.5 years of sheer misery at home. I became aware of their relationship about 5 weeks after he moved out, and got my hands on messages between them pinpointing the brewing of the relationship about 5 months or so prior to the sudden start of his marriage implosion effort.

My problem is — it’s been almost 5 years since the implosion, and 3.5 years since his decision and my discovery of what was really going on. And I’m nowhere near “meh”.

My anger has gotten worse lately prompted by him no longer willing to celebrate milestones for our kids together like we’ve managed to do until now, because he insists on including her and doing things separately. (and I’ve made it clear he is not to bring her around me. He has not remotely admitted to a thing, though — to me, anyone else, or most importantly, himself.) They’ve become more brazen with their relationship on social media — where he used to hide the posts from my friends, he’s now allowing them. The majority of his family has also hurt me in their treatment of me through this early on and still, and it’s been incredibly difficult for me to lose people I truly loved and cared about — and there are a lot of them in a big family. I lost quite a lot because I was unwillingly extracted.

I’ve been through regular therapy, I’ve immersed myself in hobbies, creativity, finding new people who “get” me, staying busy. I’ve volunteered packing or delivering meals, raising money for and contributing to a Habitat build, and many small and kind gestures. I’ve done the things I enjoy, taken many amazing trips (several solo), learned meditation, stepped outside my comfort zone, embraced the authentic, genuine, self-aware, and kind person that I am that I’ve come to realize he didn’t appreciate and I can now be “myself” without feeling like that’s flawed.

I’m aware I need to be ok on my own and don’t need a relationship to make me happy, only I can do that. I read your articles, other great articles or podcasts — repeatedly — helping drive similar messages, whether of hope, of ways to focus on the good and accept the things that suck, and understand that the things that suck make you stronger. 

But I still find myself angry — wanting (and sometimes fulfilling) a text fury in reaction to his actions with the kids or the girlfriend that sets me off. Wanting the karma to come, wanting the relationship to end, wanting the closure of a sincere and full apology that includes a full admittance and regret of how awful he was to me, and wanting him to admit the truth to others — so many who have chosen to remain in ignorant bliss rather than be real or realistic of what happened.

It bothers me that it’s lasted, and likely in his and his family’s minds proof that the divorce was the right decision. (Most do not know or believe this was an affair.) It annoys me that he hasn’t had to deal with the exhausting quagmire of online dating or give a crap he put me in the position to deal with it. I feel like an engagement is coming any day and try to brace myself for it so that I don’t fall apart when it happens. I hate that my kids like her — while I simultaneously had to deal with anger from my oldest who was blaming me for the divorce for 3 years (angry and defiant toward me more often than not), until his dad FINALLY at least let him know that the divorce was his idea, not mine, a few months ago.

I KNOW I’m only hurting me — drinking the poison to hurt my enemy. But it feels like by not reminding him of what he has done, he will otherwise get to stay in that bliss, because he’s REALLY good at being in a bubble and I have no doubt, the lies and alt reality he told to others (and himself), was enough to become an actual reality for him. Grey rock is what he absolutely prefers from me — because that’s easier for him to handle. He doesn’t like being reminded of the actual truth or to know how much of it I know. Avoidance and igorance is key for him.

I feel like at this point, I deserve to be told “move on and get over it”. What am I missing that I’m still stuck here? I am someone that is rarely angry — my default is more of hurt or frustration. It took a minute early on to get to anger, I got there, and still can’t seem to get off that train. There was a brief period maybe two years ago where I felt like i was at the meh door and even in the threshold. But as their relationship continued, I managed to lose my grip on it.

Total cliche here but…HELP. I must be missing something that I’m too in it to see.

No Meh Martha

Dear Martha,

What the hell are you fighting for? Major life lesson here — when someone no longer wants you, DON’T WANT THEM. When they cannot appreciate your value? QUIT OFFERING VALUE. Never, ever try to make someone love you. And don’t punish them when they don’t. You’re worth more than that, and people of worth never punch down.

The best thing you can do about the injustice of being cheated on and left, is build a better life. More on that in a moment, but first let’s dissect some thoughts that are keeping you stuck.

but I was fighting for our family and hoping the person he used to be would come back out,

Oh, so you’ve spend some time in the Reconciliation Industrial Complex trenches?

You can fight for your family by being the sane parent. You and your kids are an intact family. A fuckwit walked out. That’s on him. Fighting for your family sounds noble. You were fighting to hang on to a cowardly cheater who was gaslighting you. That’s the REAL him. A person of superficial attachment who couldn’t end a relationship honestly.

There is NO prize there.

So, he eventually had to be the one to call it quits

This is NOT a victory, okay? When you suspect an affair and the person is treating you like shit, digging in your heels and refusing to grant a divorce is incomprehensible to me. It would be one thing if he’s pretending to reconcile, doing the cake thing, but if he wants out and you won’t let him? You’ve just shot yourself in the foot. YOU file. YOU get to the lawyer first. YOU call the shots. Grieve later.

You gave this man your power and continue to. The anger you feel may be at yourself.

My anger has gotten worse lately prompted by him no longer willing to celebrate milestones for our kids together like we’ve managed to do until now,

This here is the core of your discontent. You are DIVORCED. You have separate lives. You don’t get together for birthday parties or whatever. You. Are. Divorced. He is NOT your family. See point above — you and the kids are a complete family. You don’t NEED him to be family.

Will you cross paths at a kid’s wedding? Sure. Will you organize it together and sit at the same table? NO. Because he’s not your husband, he is your EX. Some people have amiable divorces (I think some people are better at eating shit sandwiches and pronouncing them delicious), you are not this divorce. He cheated and you don’t like his girlfriend. Let this expectation of get-togethers For The Family GO.

Also, it sounds like hopium to me. Look at this beautiful family! Don’t you miss us? That’s the pick me dance. Don’t model that shit to your children. Be a strong mother who has moved on with her life.

because he insists on including her and doing things separately.

That is HIS RIGHT now. You are DIVORCED. He can do any fool thing he wants to do. Date a muppet. Eat soda crackers for dinner. Never wash his underwear. You’re FREE of him.

(and I’ve made it clear he is not to bring her around me.

How about you make it clear he is not to bring himself around YOU? Then it’s a twofer. Like, you have a life you’re very busy with and he’s not invited.

He has not remotely admitted to a thing, though — to me, anyone else, or most importantly, himself.) They’ve become more brazen with their relationship on social media — where he used to hide the posts from my friends, he’s now allowing them.

STOP FOLLOWING HIM ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

Read everything here on no contact. This is NOT helping you heal.

It was brazen to cheat on you. Now he is a divorced man and he can date. That’s not brazen. He may choose the appalling person he was having an affair with. And wash that down with soda crackers for dinner. NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Also, not on your radar, because you are NOT LOOKING.

But I still find myself angry — wanting (and sometimes fulfilling) a text fury in reaction to his actions with the kids or the girlfriend that sets me off. Wanting the karma to come, wanting the relationship to end, wanting the closure of a sincere and full apology that includes a full admittance and regret of how awful he was to me, and wanting him to admit the truth to others

Let go of karma. His punishment is being him. Waiting for karma just keeps YOU stuck. He’s never going to apologize. Let that go too. The ones who apologize, they generally want something (like cake, or a more generous divorce settlement). Even if you got an apology, and it were sincere, that bell done rung. It’s over. It doesn’t matter. He is NOT the measure of your worth. Don’t GIVE HIM THE POWER of whether you move on or don’t, waiting for impossible things.

You take the reins, you lead your new life.

many who have chosen to remain in ignorant bliss rather than be real or realistic of what happened.

Okay, well that’s useful information to know who to cull from your social register.

But Martha, you’re also remaining ignorant of who your ex really is (a cowardly cheater) and you’re not being realistic about how divorce works. So this feels a bit like projection.

But it feels like by not reminding him of what he has done, he will otherwise get to stay in that bliss,

Not your job.

You KNOW what he did. Stop trying to convince him and others in his orbit. The strongest argument you can make is a) no contact with him (why would anyone as terrific as Martha trifle with a man who cheated on her?) and b) go be awesome.

When the Cool Kids won’t let you into their club (in this case it’s Cafe Fuckwit), create your own MUCH COOLER world. This is how cool is made. By REJECTING the gatekeepers. Drag queens, pre-Raphaelites, jazz musicians — all were rejected by the Academy and made worlds far, far cooler than the appointed arbiters of taste.

A fuckwit rejects you? Take it as a COMPLIMENT. Reframe this shit. These are not your people and this is not your world. Quit trying to fit into a place that insists on rejecting you.

Martha, I’m sorry you were chumped. It’s a lot to lose 20 years. But meh is out there. Peace is out there. A cooler life is out there. He’s not in it. Start being the gatekeeper of your life and ignore his.

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.
  • Don’t be the woman I heard two others talking about. Their friend had been left by her husband for another woman. He moved across the country and she hadn’t seen him in years. At their daughters wedding he brought his wife. The woman fell apart. This was years later. She had wasted all those years yearning for a man who did not care. Don’t be her. This is your one life.

      • My neighbour (a chump like me) told me about one of her friends, early on in my saga, as an object lesson in what not to be. The friend followed the cheater ex husband of many years and 4 adult children from the UK to another European country (pre-Brexit). Cheater and OW set up home as did the chump nearby. Chump waited, and pined, and waited and pined. The OW died unexpectedly. Chump thought that her time had come. Hooray! Cheater very quickly married someone else from that country. I’m not going to cast aspersions save to say that the new marriage was fast. A respectful mourning period had not passed. Chump fell into a slump. Her adult children were getting married. She paid for cheater to attend the weddings, having already supported him in his change of career pre-divorce. Interestingly, as soon as cheater could work as a lawyer in the UK, he moved to the country where he couldn’t work as a lawyer! Chump waited again, and waited. Cheater then died. Finally it was over. Chump has returned to the UK with nothing, aged 70. What a waste, and what a lesson. I took it to heart. I don’t want to be divorced and I certainly didn’t want to be so due to abuse including an affair. However I’m 61 and still curious about the world. Why waste that curiosity on a cheater, the OW and his family. I know who I am and I know who they are. We occupy different worlds. I like mine better than his.

        • Great cautionary tale, MW!

          Yes – NOBODY be like this Chump!! Do not waste your own, precious life!!

    • “She wasted all those years yearning for a man who did not care” You actually don’t know what she was thinking and feeling when she fell apart. Maybe she was kicking herself for wasting precious time (which is limited for all of us) with a selfish abuser.

  • “Never try to make someone love you.”

    I could have saved 30 years of my life by figuring that out. Over a decade of it was wasted trying to make him be properly sorry for treating me like dirt. Guess what? He never loved me and was only sorry he got caught.

    You can’t control other people. You can’t make them feel or do anything. Don’t waste your time.

    I could have spent that time doing so many better things at work, and maybe even found a better mate. Trying to control others gets you nowhere.

    • “Guess what? He never loved me and was only sorry he got caught.”

      I think we married the same guy. He was never sorry for what he did, only for the stuff I found out about.

      • At one of my coworkers social events (attended by many other of my coworkers), I actually stated to my then husband “Make sure to act like you love me!” The fact that I had to say that speaks volumes about our marriage.

        • I had to attend many social events for FW’s work. I remember telling him it would be nice if he acted like we were married. Acting like he loved me would have been too much to ask but I was hopeful he would at least act like we had car pooled. I keep looking back and saying THAT was when I should have left.

        • And Madge. I went down that same path. Years of trying to make someone live me.
          Then I spent a good 5 years more in the reconciliation nation. To be fair even others closer to me pointed out I had it hard, as my ex husband went big on wanting cake and faking sorry. He would not let he go, He physically followed me everywhere from the minute I was devastated by the revelations of his double-life.
          I need Chump lady’s advice so bad. I left in mid-January for good, and here I am waiting for ‘meh’.
          I found out since I left he is dating his staff member who is 11 years younger with a 1 and 2 year old. Her husband committed suicide within the last 18mths.
          We were married 23 years. 17 of those in ignorant bliss of his sex addiction/porn addiction.
          So here I am, realising I’m still doing the pick me dance in the way I feel and react to what he is doing, I keep wanting to know has he said anything about me. What he is doing?
          How do I value myself more?
          The best revenge is leading a life I’m happy with.
          Why do I want to be part of this circus? 🤡
          I have a family, my kids and I.
          I have to let it go, that he is not MY family.
          I think it’s true, a lot of the pain is facing the fact I begged someone to love me for years. I still feel unlovable at times.
          Wish me success in changing that.
          I hope we will all heal and recover and find a place where we are valued and seen. It has to start within.
          I also remember having to remind my ex husband what it looks like when you love your wife when we attended awards nights etc. in business. One man at our table was shocked to find out I was his wife. He said it, out loud. That was just the beginning. Yet how many times I made excuses and tried to change the narrative. Why would he not love me?!
          Thank goodness for Chump Lady.

          • Wishing you the best. So glad you found CL. I felt unlovable for so long. Probably for 35 out of our 36 year marriage. Reading the CL archives helped reprogram my thought pattern.

          • Hi FoughtforYears, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but one thing that helped me was reading up on Intermittent Reinforcement and understanding how the Manipulator (as I call the ex) used that. It’s a way that abusive people have of alternating seemingly loving behaviors (acting sorry, etc.) with mistreatment at random intervals, and it has a _powerful_ psychological effect on the person subjected to it.

            • I remember many years ago, in the late 80s, I heard a preacher who had been abused as a child and had done a lot of study on it. He said that they have discovered that children who are raised with constant abuse, with no real affection actually have a better chance of recovering, than a child who alternates back and forth between abuse and love.

              His first name was Jerry, wish I could remember his last name.

      • I married the same guy too. Biggest regret of my life.

        I wrote a long response pouring out my heart, but lost it somehow before I finished. (This had happened a couple of times.) I figure it was good to vent, even if no one gets to read it.

        In a nutshell, I’m still angry he stole 20+ years of my life. I don’t want him back. I want those years back. I accept that I can never recover them, but I will never forgive him for taking them. Ever. And I will never forgive him for the pain he caused me and my daughter.

        My life is smaller now, but better. I get to dance. I get to hike. I get to travel somewhere other than a ski or beach resort. And I’m dating a very sweet man, who loves me dearly, and although I’ll never live with him, I’m experiencing true intimacy and the best sex of my life — at 60!

        Oh, and every month when I get his support check, I smile knowing it is a thorn in his side. He had grand visions of retiring at 50, even though he didn’t start making real money until his 40’s. Now he can’t retire until 67. His fault. He didn’t get out of the marriage when he started having affairs. Now he gets to pay the price; literally.

        (Ok, it was a little more than a nutshell, but my rant is now over.)

        • “He didn’t get out of the marriage when he started having affairs. Now he gets to pay the price; literally.”

          Yep, he owes you for the years he stole from you.

        • Wow – sounds like you’re lucky you live in a state that has generous alimony. That alone would be a decent revenge. Here it was only 1/3 the marriage and that time is passing quickly. I”m sorry you went through that – I don’t wish i had all 20 years back, but certainly hte last few where he put me through hell and then the additional year it took me to heal enough to not be in a fog all the time and feel good about myself. thank you for sharing.

  • “Let go of karma. His punishment is being him.” Those words were the key for me. I was stuck too, resentful that my ex had a girlfriend and free time and no responsibilities and everyone still thought he was a great guy. I kept waiting for him to have to pay for what he had done to me. But he never did.

    Instead, I focused on the “trust that he sucks” advice that ChumpLady advocates. Once I realized how much he really does suck, I missed him so much less. I stopped caring about his life, and started enjoying mine. That’s when I got to “Meh.”

    I also find that our kids — who initially blamed me for the divorce — have no interest in him now that they are teens and young adults. I was the steady, sane parent who kept the family together while the ex focused on himself. Now my boys and I laugh together at regular family dinners and games nights and they are affectionate, helpful and protective toward me. They are indifferent to my ex and see him on occasional holidays.

    His punishment is being him.

    • I wrote a song when I first started reading chump lady that had a line about this in it! Here are the lyrics:

      And while you live I’m glad you’ll be stuck with yourself
      For someone like you that must be a living hell
      Meanwhile I’ll take my sweet revenge by being me
      And living well.

      • Thank you Lisa; this is a gem.
        How much time we spend hoping they will see themselves and repent, apologize from some deep place, be wracked with pain and regret for the harm they did, the lives they ransacked for their own cheap thrills, entertainment, self involved highs.
        Yes-he is stuck with himself. How fitting!
        Very poetic.
        Maybe that’s how you get to Meh.

    • Thank you, and youre right. My kids do adore him tho, and while I don’t want to take that away from my kids, it can definitely be a gut punch to know they think he’s wonderful when he clearly wasn’t thinking about them at all with his decisions. He’s charismatic and people love him b/c he’s a complimenter. I learned post divorce that he doesn’t do it to be sweet and sincere, but to be liked. But – it works. Everyone, everyone thinks he’s the nicest guy.

      • Martha, getting him out of your head is challenging I know, and no contact is your best friend as you work on really freeing yourself from his influence.

        Once you start focusing on getting him out of your life and your thoughts, just give the kids a little time time. A couple of mine were initially angry, blaming me because I initiated divorce from my very abusive husband. I said nothing, stepped out of the relationship between my children and their dad, and tried not to talk about him at all with them.

        After five years, their contact with their father varies from little to none. Exposure to their dad unfiltered very quickly showed them his true colours and the depth of his interest in them. I didn’t have to say or do anything. He ruined things with them all by himself.

        If you go no contact and start building your own family life around yourself and your kids, being the sane parent who is there and caring, you may find find that your ex’s place in their life might diminish quite significantly.

  • I find awesome things to read with which to reprogram my mind very helpful. I am three years and eight months out from DDay. Anger is a dashboard engine light that means I need to recalibrate and reframe whatever thought or situation that set me off. My mind and heart needs the next right thought STAT to help me get out of the tree. Here’s the latest, a quote from Anthony Hopkins:

    ′′Let go the people who are not prepared to love you. This is the hardest thing you will have to do in your life and it will also be the most important thing. Stop having hard conversations with people who don’t want change.

    Stop showing up for people who have no interest in your presence. I know your instinct is to do everything to earn the appreciation of those around you, but it’s a boost that steals your time, energy, mental and physical health.

    When you begin to fight for a life with joy, interest and commitment, not everyone will be ready to follow you in this place. This doesn’t mean you need to change what you are, it means you should let go of the people who aren’t ready to accompany you.

    If you are excluded, insulted, forgotten or ignored by the people you give your time to, you don’t do yourself a favor by continuing to offer your energy and your life. The truth is that you are not for everyone and not everyone is for you.

    That’s what makes it so special when you meet people who reciprocate love. You will know how precious you are.

    The more time you spend trying to make yourself loved by someone who is unable to, the more time you waste depriving yourself of the possibility of this connection to someone else.

    There are billions of people on this planet and many of them will meet with you at your level of interest and commitment.

    The more you stay involved with people who use you as a pillow, a background option or a therapist for emotional healing, the longer you stay away from the community you want.

    Maybe if you stop showing up, you won’t be wanted. Maybe if you stop trying, the relationship will end. Maybe if you stop texting your phone will stay dark for weeks. That doesn’t mean you ruined the relationship, it means the only thing holding it back was the energy that only you gave to keep it. This is not love, it’s attachment. It’s wanting to give a chance to those who don’t deserve it. You deserve so much, there are people who should not be in your life.

    The most valuable thing you have in your life is your time and energy, and both are limited. When you give your time and energy, it will define your existence.

    When you realize this, you begin to understand why you are so anxious when you spend time with people, in activities, places or situations that don’t suit you and shouldn’t be around you, your energy is stolen.

    You will begin to realize that the most important thing you can do for yourself and for everyone around you is to protect your energy more fiercely than anything else. Make your life a safe haven, in which only ′′compatible′′ people are allowed.

    You are not responsible for saving anyone. You are not responsible for convincing them to improve. It’s not your work to exist for people and give your life to them! If you feel bad, if you feel compelled, you will be the root of all your problems, fearing that they will not return the favours you have granted. It’s your only obligation to realize that you are the love of your destiny and accept the love you deserve.

    Decide that you deserve true friendship, commitment, true and complete love with healthy and prosperous people. Then wait and see how much everything begins to change. Don’t waste time with people who are not worth it. Change will give you the love, the esteem, happiness and the protection you deserve.”

    • PS…

      I don’t know if he is still involved with his Craigslist “Sole Mate”. I do know he has not been loyal or faithful
      to her either. My daughter caught him on Tinder when she was using his phone to watch a video and he got a drop-down message from someone.

      BREATHING helps. Specifically, BOX BREATHING or TACTICAL BREATHING acts like cold water on hot flames of anger and rage. Google it. Tactical breathing accesses the anger and neutralizes it. Some anger and rage is beyond the reach of words or thoughts to dissipate it. I have a friend who is a retired Navy SEAL; they teach this in SEAL training to stay calm in high emotion situations.

      Napoleon said, “Never interfere when your enemy is making a mistake.” This one works like a charm to get me out of the anger tree. Affair accomplices riding off is no victory
      or bliss. Two people whose conduct proves they are not safe, trustworthy, loyal, or kind have joined together.

      New to my toolbox is watching Outlander again. I have a major crush on Jamie Fraser. If he were a lying, cheating jerk I would not. I wanted a loyal protective husband, not a Bernie Madoff husband. I was duped and thought I had a Nice Guy. The Sole Mate jumped in headfirst and eyes open knowing he is a lying, cheating jerk.

      It sounds to me like you need some first aid tools for when you feel angry. Like a bleeding wound. If you do nothing, it festers and gets infected. Denying you are angry is like letting the wound bleed and not dressing it. Having an emotional first aid response kit of helpful tools, whatever they may be, has really helped me.

      I do NOT text him. Only email. If absolutely necessary. The approved topics are child, business, money, divorce. That is IT. I am now getting emails from him about past marriage issues and how It Was Both Of Us. How he Is Sorry For Lying And His Dishonesty and Hopes I Can Forgive Him.

      Sorry, bro. We had a therapist in the room our ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP. He lied and cheated in that situation for who knows how long. The Complaint Department is now closed.

      They are each other’s problem now.

      • Velvet – thank you – your reply was really helpful info. To be clear, I’m not even close to longing for him. (But admittedly, miss being a family, especially bc I think All the uncomfortable separate stuff is not what the kids would have envisioned the rest of their growing up) I didnt Find out there was someone else until shortly after he left. My gut kept thinking there was, but he kept denying it. And I didn’t Have the proof I needed until later. Had I known For certain there was someone else, would have been a dealbreaker immediately. I fought like I did bc I believed It was him in crisis, blaming other unhappiness he had on me. Once I knew What was really going on, it all made so much more sense.

        • ” I fought like I did bc I believed It was him in crisis, blaming other unhappiness he had on me. Once I knew What was really going on, it all made so much more sense.”

          Same here. He was telling me it was work stress, we would be fine etc, so I patiently tried to calm and love him through it. 🤮

          He wasn’t done using me yet.

          • Yes, Martha & SL – they lie, because they’re hoping to keep Cake open with you, you being Plan B, keep being Of Use to them, etc. Which speaks to how they’re so much worse than you ever thought they were.

            • Oh I definitely think he had planned on keeping me in use for a while longer, then someone at work dropped a dime and all hell broke loose for him.

              In hindsight it was kind of funny.

              I remember for the last couple months we were together, he was walking around sweating like a hooker in the front pew.

          • Ouch..!! That truth hurts-he wasn’t done using me yet. I was plan B. He liked having me in the background
            . I hate to see that I was a convenience for him. People really can swallow up years of your life because they want convenient background music in their life. Something to soothe them between adventures out in the world looking for bigger thrills. Then home to safety and the comfort of a wife hooked on the hope that if only she can do the right dance the relationship will return to its rightful place. To squander the years of someone else’s life-is that legal?

          • Ouch..!!
            That truth hurts-he wasn’t done using me yet. I was plan B. He liked having me in the background. It hurts to see that I was a convenience for him. People really can swallow up years of your life because they want convenient background music in their life. Something to soothe them between adventures out in the world looking for bigger thrills. Then home to safety and the comfort of a wife hooked on the hope that if only she can do the right dance the relationship will return to its rightful place. To squander the years of someone else’s life-is that legal?

            • Part of my Cheater’s narc personality left him often wanting t mutually -exclusive things. He wanted freedom (in its many forms) but he wanted the impression of being a family man.

              Keeping me in a corner running the legit version of his life allowed him to have cake for much of his adult life. He kept well-curated inventory of my failings which allowed him to justify his decisions to betray me.

              I circled around and around feeling unloved but totally terrified to face that truth and do anything about it.

              After his death, I learned that he was a long term betrayer and our marriage was a big fucking joke. A blight on anyone who tries to tell me to “remember the good parts”…no, I refuse.

              Hating him would require more energy than I want to expend and I already allotted him more of my life than I should have, so I live in a state that I call “chronic, low-level distain”. If other people want to mourn him, they are free to but Im not. He surely did squander years of my life.

              I hate that we are all judged so harshly by our reactions but years out from a divorce, chumps need to live their lives and ignore the cheater. Do not give anyone reasons to believe that their “she was bat-shit crazy” excuse was valid.

        • Oh Martha. We have the same story, down to specific details. My heart hurts for us both. The first time he asked me for “space,” I even decorated our home with spaceships and styrofoam solar systems (like a naive second grader) bc I thought it was a cute distraction from the midlife work crisis he clearly *must* be having…right? But two years later and 18 years of marriage down the drain after the now-realized infidelity…I could’ve written your post. Space. Right.

      • “They are each other’s problem now.”

        This is the reminder I need and what is helping me get to meh.

        In a relationship that begins as an affair, each participant knows the other is capable of cruelty, cowardice, and deception. These are not quality people. And that’s the unsteadiest of relationship foundations. As I see it, they’re stuck with each other. CL is right about their punishment being them.

        For chumps, it can be tough to feel that we deserve better when our self-worth is slowly drained from us during the relationship, especially one that ends with extreme devaluation.

        I vow to surround myself with people who value me. If they like the abuser, then I cull them from my social registry (thanks to CL’s advice). If they don’t care for me, that’s their right. I don’t chase people who don’t want to be with me. And I don’t glom onto people who don’t treat me well or share my values.

        • “In a relationship that begins as an affair, each participant knows the other is capable of cruelty, cowardice, and deception. These are not quality people. And that’s the unsteadiest of relationship foundations. As I see it, they’re stuck with each other. ”

          Great points, thank you. And the rest, I”m with you. I did some of that cleanup with friends during this since true colors were shown.

      • VH – FAB posts today!! Lots of great insight & help here.

        But, Danger Will Robinson – it sounds like FW is Hoovering now, if he wants to revisit the relationship and who did what, who said what, etc. Keep ignoring him!! He’s trying to get a foot in the door here. 🤮

    • Thanks so much for posting this, Velvet. I saw this Anthony Hopkins essay yesterday and thought about it all night. You just saved me the trouble of searching for it today!

    • Thanks for sharing that, VH. It doesn’t apply to me with my ex but it does apply very keenly to a friendship I am in the process of walking away from because I need to “Let go the people who are not prepared to love you. This is the hardest thing you will have to do in your life and it will also be the most important thing. Stop having hard conversations with people who don’t want change.” When you express the very simple, basic human need to be valued and are ignored, it is time to move on. I hope the OP reads your comment and gets that.

    • While I admire the sentiment, Anthony Hopkins, if he indeed wrote this, while being a brilliant actor, is I not a person I would ever look to for personal advice. He is an recovered alcoholic, has Aspergers and I suspect is a narcissist. He went through two divorces and abandoned his only daughter. He is by no means a caring empathetic person.

      • Holy crap 💩 Turns out Brianna Wiest wrote those wise words, not Nonethony Hopper

  • When you give him attention you’re making him feel powerful. It doesn’t matter if he celebrated the kids Don’t text him, regarding his behavior with the kids. Evidently he doesn’t care what you think and your rants aren’t going to change that. Your text rants are only providing entertainment for him and his girlfriend.
    Mutual friends that are friends with him aren’t your friends.
    Find friends like yourself who share your values.

    .

    • thank you. I guess I have to wrap my head around the idea that my rants might make him feel powerful. I have figured they make him feel justified in what he did maybe. but b/c i already know about him that he much prefers ignorance is bliss and me to be quiet, since that allows him to not be reminded of what he actually did, I tend to go for the airhorn.

      I found out about the OW about 5 or so weeks after him moving out, and kept it to myself other than my somewhat inner circle of people i trusted wouldn’t talk to him. For a year and a half. For several reasons (but I NEVER thought i would be waiting that long).

      1)they were being secretive still – to everyone. so if i told him i knew, it would make it much easier for him to be out about the relationship in general. I figured it would corrode from within if he wanted to keep things quiet when she would eventually want it to be public and I knew he’d want to save face and not raise eyebrows – he cares very much about his reputation. I also didn’t want her around my kids and figured the earlier they can be out, the sooner she will get introduced to them. I actually think this probably worked b/c I was seeing evidence of behaviors that pointed to distress due to not being able to be out in the open fully.

      2)Silly me thought when he was ready to introduce her to the kids, he would give me a heads up first. And it was my plan to disclose all I knew during that conversation and make him feel small. Boy did i ever miscalculate that. What he did was start bringing her around them here and there as his friend. First only her dog for dogsitting. Then her sometimes picking up the dog. Then an occasion like the Superbowl. She was an employee of his, so it wasn’t out of nowhere to them, though they hadn’t met her before they were “together”.

      3) he doesn’t like to address problems. Period. Again, same as #2, I thought he would have the adult conversation to lmk he was dating someone. Me ripping the bandaid off FOR him would have been an initial shock to him, but essentially easier for him. I wanted him to stress. THat may have happened somewhat, but i will never know.

  • Oddly, it sounds as if you don’t fully believe he is a jackass. You still are hoping for an apology and empathy. If he gave you these things, it would prove he is the good person you believe you married–and it would probably make you long for the old relationship even more. He doesn’t have the capacity to know or care that he hurt you.

    Your insistence on sharing family events with the EX worries me. What kind of relationship do you want to have with your kids when they are grown? Do you want to travel with them? Do you want an annual week at the beach with the gang and their friends? Do you want to have a one-on-one special tradition with each of them? Start experimenting with developing these traditions right now. This is important for two reasons–if your relationship with the kids pivots around “family” events that include your EX, you will lose all of these as they grow even if your EX relents or you decide you can tolerate the OW because no one will be willing to “perform family” for the children once they are adults. And it will be crushing if the kids both leave the nest and you have no traditions to celebrate with them any longer.

    Second, you will find it empowering to develop new traditions with the kids that forefront discoveries you make together and that don’t look like Norman Rockwell paintings. Set the bar low for these new family experiences–it is okay if the car breaks down or the weather is lousy–they are experiments, and eventually they will be funny anecdotes. Two perfect hours on the beach laughing together may be all that really “works” in an entire weekend, and that is okay as long as you know to enjoy and appreciate them.

    Finally, is it possible that you are confusing “meh” about your EX for “meh” about your dreams? I am “meh” about my EX. I don’t care what he does or with whom. But I do still sometimes miss the idea of a husband. I do sometimes wish my kids were growing up with a photo album filled with annual nuclear family photos. I do still sometimes envy other nuclear families when I see them looking happy and doing the things I grew up seeing in my own parents. I probably always will. Reaching “meh” won’t mean you feel no sense of loss, it just means you won’t have any longing for your EX and all his baggage and dishonesty. It means you wouldn’t take him back for a million dollars even though you still wish your life could have included one perfect marriage.

    • Good points. And I have Taken amazing trips with the kids and done a ton with just us. This was more about big milestones happening where we briefly participated together and suddenly he’s decided she has to come and we are therefore separate. I guess In my mind – it was better to not have the kids awkwardly toggle two sets of people at the same location.

      Your first paragraph is what I needed To hear. I do keep thinking he’s the person he used to be, who had empathy. He’s definitely not.

      And I’m definitely in the same place on what I long For that stopped existing. I DEFINITELY do not want him back. I dont Long for him at all – but I cant Get to meh for caring about him having the realization that he was such a jerk or that their relationship born out of lies and deceit has continued to work out.

      • In my yoga teacher training there was a saying “Don’t let anyone steal your peace” or as Cardi B puts it: “if I see you and I don’t speak, that means I don’t f*ck with you” 😅

        I understand that it’s triggering to see her, but don’t let them ruin one more event. Celebrate your kids and pay her no mind. They don’t exist. They aren’t worth your time. You don’t have to pretend to like it, you don’t have to smile at them or say anything at all. They are coworkers you don’t like but can’t fire from their jobs.

        You don’t have to “get over it” you just have to rise above it. You said you think they prefer no contact, which makes me think maybe you stir this pot hoping it will piss them off. They feast on the triangulation, they love to cause conversation about how bitter and angry you are. Cut them off!

        The best revenge is living your best life ❤️

        • “They feast on the triangulation, they love to cause conversation about how bitter and angry you are. Cut them off!”

          So much this. Also I’m glad I’m not the only one that finds that Cardio B song empowering even though I’m pretty sure she also says she’s ok w mate poaching. Whatever, it’s a good song for putting on your red bottom bitch boots!

          Martha, my fuckwit said about OW (in a tragic tone of course, poor sausage) “We could never be together. We could never trust each other.” When you see OW, laugh. They both won the sparkly turd and are hellbent on only seeing the sparkles.

        • Thank you! It’s possible i stir the pot to make him uncomfortable or pull him out of his bubble, so yeah, maybe to piss him off. I have been assuming he doesn’t share with her what i say, b/c he wouldnt want her to know i figured out when their relationship started. I highly doubt he admits the timing of their relationship in a way that can’t be explained as post-divorce. (I have been sort of curious what date they treat as their dating anniversary for this reason.) He probably DOES twist things i text/email in some way and tell her i upset him and am being ridiculous though. I know how he thinks all too well. He’s not going to be detailed and he’s going to want to be careful what he shows b/c he can’t spin it. I do realize it gives him ammunition to have his version of a story – but if he’s making things up anyway…

    • Eilonwy- I love your comment about the being meh about the ex vs being meh about dreams. You said it all perfectly. I mourn the loss of my nuclear family. I look at other families at church and think about how wonderful they look (while fully knowing their home life could actually be really horrible). My children and I are currently on our first vacation since discovering the affair 16 months ago. Just a simple beach vacation in a simple condo. But It’s actually pretty depressing being here without anyone else and I just want to cry sometimes. I still haven’t hit meh with my ex. He had an affair with someone I thought was a good friend. They’re still together, bought a house together 5 minutes away, and haven taken all the kids (here too) on multiple trips (including Disney World). I still hate them both. I still unfortunately think about what they’re doing. I still get anxiety anytime I think about having to be near one of them. Their apartment was 20 minutes away, but now that the house is 5 minutes away I worry about seeing them at the grocery store. I luckily haven’t seen or talked to her since the day I discovered the affair. I’m not looking forward to the day it has to happen.

      • Yikes – that’s rough and I’m sorry. There r times where my trips with my kids would be easier with a dad there – but – I have Found them easier overall without his opinions which often seemed to contradict mine on purpose and added stress to vacations. I would Advise to plan busier trips than the beach. Not sure the ages of your kids – but I have Had many amazing ones with mine. I try To go to places we haven’t seen, to take in cool sights. I think Your vacation to the beach has too much down time and you can think too much. I personally See trips as opportunities for quality time with my kids and I take Them whenever I can.

      • You aren’t that far out from Dday, and that is hard to have to worry about running in to them; especially that soon.

    • Yep. Today would have been my 30th anniversary. Divorced after 28 and a half years of marriage. I don’t miss HIM per se but I was sad today at the loss of what could have been had he tried —and not been a disordered serial cheater FW. The loss of a dream. The loss of the investment of my time, energy and love unreciprocated.

    • I liked these suggestions, Eilonwy!
      I love the idea about traditions.

      It reminded me of a game we used to play.

      When I got divorced, I moved to an apartment complex that was subsidized, but was brand new and in a ritzy area. I asked the kids if they’d be okay with not having the buying power that the other kids had, or if they wouldn’t mind inviting kids to our apartment, and they said it would all be fine. The schools were good and my kids had cute clothes, and were liked by other kids, so we did it.

      Since I didn’t have money, I couldn’t afford to take two kids to the movies and then pay for their friends, too (like the other parents did,) and buy refreshments at 500% mark-up, so I made up some fun. I put them all in the car and said, “Let’s get lost.” This was before cell phones, so there was nothing really to fall back on to get us home. Game rules: I wasn’t allowed to use maps or to ask anyone directions, so here’s what we did. Each kid would take turns and tell me where to turn. Simple as that. They could take as long as they wanted, (and some did!) After an hour, we’d stop and load up with snacks at 7-11, get out of the car at a park nearby (that we’d find) and then I’d have to find my way back home! They were chatty and having fun both ways, and many of the guests requested that game again and again.

      So yes! Traditions and games and fun wherever and whenever you can! I love this suggestion!

  • Anger is the reaction I have struggled with the most. I can’t seem to shake it. I will be bopping along, doing fine, and out of nowhere something triggers it and I am back at square one. I’m not sure I can ever get to the point where thinking about him manipulating me, duping me, spending my money on other women, and lying, lying, lying won’t make me angry. I no longer love him. I avoid any interactions with him. I am grey rock like concrete…but damn, I am still mad at the asshole.

    • Same. Something happens that sets me back. Some I reset from and others make me stuck again. A big one was being asked not to come to a very large, important family event, for someone in the family I loved And was in her life for over 20 years. Essentially a 2nd person extracting me to include the OW instead.

      • Fuck that noise. If you are invited and wish to go, then do. What that cheater and his whore do is none of your concern. If it is his family asking you to no longer participate then no longer grant them the gift that is you. Block anyone who chooses a whore over you.

        His family is his. He fired you from his family. Let them go.

        • I would agree, if the one who uninvited is the host then of course don’t go, but if it is hosted by someone else, unless they uninvite then go if you want to; at least for a bit. But, just try to make sure you are going because you want to see folks and not just to keep an eye on them.

      • I sure hope Karma comes back to bite the excluding family member in the butt. How horrible that the family wants to discard you after 20+ years. I absolutely love both my daughters in law, and if a divorce happened, I would continue to love them. Cannot imagine what you are going through.

        • I dont Get it. I think like you and see other divorces where the ex is still treated sweetly. They do on the surface – pretty much just commenting on my social media posts. But that’s not the real stuff. That doesn’t show me love. That’s public and makes them appear like theyre being kind to everyone else.

          • Martha: Not even 6 months after FW walked out, his father passed away. This man had been my father in law for over 17 years, and he was my children’s grandfather. However, I was told pointedly that I would not be welcomed at his funeral.

            I realize that FW spun some serious fabrications about me, but his family had known me long enough to at least question his story. They didn’t, of course.

            But even if they believed everything he said and more, what was the point of such callousness? Asking anyone in almost any situation to absent themselves from a funeral is as heartless as it gets. In my case, that would be his entire family. I did nothing to warrant such treatment, and it told me that I had attached myself to a clan of disordered characters who didn’t deserve my time, thoughts, or energy, let alone my respects. Detaching completely was the only healthy response.

            These people you are dealing with have no character. People with character don’t throw away good people. I don’t care how wealthy or respectable or educated or attractive your ex’s family may be, inside they are rotten. Stay away from the rot – there is no value there.

            • wow, that is super thoughtless and self centered to even THINK about asking you not to come in the situation of a funeral. WTAF. I definitely always remind myself that the right thing to do is most likely the hardest. In your case it would be going to the funeral, and yet, you wanted to be there. Definitely shows your character…and theirs. I will be in that situation too, eventually, and have every intention to participate. I assume i will be asked not to come and deal with it at that time as it seems appropriate i guess.

          • Hi Martha, thank you for your post but it helped me tremendously. Your story is so eerily similar to mine that, as I was reading it, I wondered if I sent CL a letter and just didn’t remember it.

            My ex’s family treats me like hot garbage. I’m sure that’s due to the lies that she has spread about me, but the fact is they were all too eager to believe those lies. I think that’s because they feel like they have to believe them. They aren’t willing to confront the truth about my ex. Hating me, making me the villain and her the victim, it just makes everything so much easier for them.

            I feel like I was at meh, but she did something really messed up about a month ago and I can’t let it go. I put her on blast and told her *exactly* what I think of her, but after reading this I realize I just fed the fire. I gave her what she was looking for apparently.

            Your ex husband sucks. He’s human waste. You deserve better, and he and his tramp of an affair partner deserve each other.

            • Thank you. It’s such a strange thing to me that these behaviors are so predictable and cliche that so many do the exact same things. There are times for sure where I just Need to get things off my chest and I dont Care what he thinks of what I said Or if he responds. I just need to say it to him. I think About writing letters to some of his family too, as a way to say what I need To, but never sure I want to deal with what would come after. Also If they’re worth my time to do it – except I think the reason is for me and I’m worth the time if it’ll help me.

      • Being asked not to come was by the host, with the support of my ex. But supposedly not his idea. However I know He was relieved bc he didn’t want me there. I was Honestly workinf up my courage for months to attend bc I knew I was being invited and that the person the event was for wanted me there. And even tho I would Be difficult for me, it was the right thing to do, so that’s all I needed to push me. And it meant a ton I was Being included. Until I wasn’t.

        • Well, be sure to text the person with congratulations and an apology that you can’t be there but you’ve been asked not to come.

          • So first the host invites you and then un-invites you because your ex said so? Seems to me the host is making the present and future very clear – Martha has been replaced. The host doesn’t have to bend to your ex’s whims, they’re CHOOSING to. I know it’s more hurt heaped onto your broken heart. Many of us have gone through the same thing. But don’t apologize and offer kind words to them. This isn’t fourth grade and mom will only let 3 friends sleep over. The host isn’t thinking of you with kindness.

        • It is almost certainly your ex behind your being disinvited. A couple of years ago I got disinvited to my former sister in law’s birthday party because Schmoopie was not comfortable with my presence. In my case sister in law asked me nicely if I was willing to come before the party so she could still see me and I agreed because I did want to support her and I didn’t want to make her life more difficult by making a fuss. In my case, it was clear who was behind it so I blamed ex not her. I don’t know if he was aware of my pre party visit. Meanwhile, one of his aunts invited me to another aunt’s funeral. Schmoopie refused to go because I was invited so ex told his aunt he wasn’t going either. His aunt was upset when he said he wasn’t going but also refused to disinvite me to get him to go. The result was that they had a big fight and are still on the outs over it. They used to be close and she is really upset over it. She doesn’t blame me, but I do feel bad. If I had known, I actually would have gracefully bowed out and made some excuse not to go to avoid making trouble for said aunt. At the time I was just steeling myself to be able to handle the event with dignity in spite of Schmoopie’s presence when I thought she would be there. The funeral was supposed to be all about the deceased aunt but ex made it all about Schmoopie.

          Blood relatives of cheaters are stuck in a difficult situation. They may not like how their son/brother/nephew etc. behaved but they still love him (or her) and don’t want to throw them away. They are often under a lot of pressure to exclude the ex and embrace the Schmoopie or risk losing the familial relationship. It takes a lot to cast out a family member and blood is thicker than water even if the relatives in question don’t really like the way things turned out and would otherwise want to keep up a relationship with the discarded spouse. There may also be reasons other than affection for wanting to have a smooth relationship with cheater because they have to deal with them on a regular basis or are otherwise dependent on them in some way. It isn’t fair but, for me at least, looking at it from a perspective of sympathy for the difficult spot the relative is in, makes me feel better. They exclude us because they don’t feel they have a choice.

          • When “Schmoopies” pull the “ex wife better not be there or I’m not going” crap they are hanging themselves. Being the affair partner and then insisting everyone else adhere to their outrageous demands of excluding the wife (the mother of the grandchildren, nieces and nephews) that was cheated on will not create allies. Only complete dipshits would go along with this insanity and who needs dipshits in their life?

            • My party, my rules. Any guest that tries to dictate who is invited to MY party (that I’m paying for) will promptly be disinvited. They show up with others that I didn’t invite ? 👋

          • Yeah it hurt when my ex mother in law kind of turned on me. Not in a big way, but she said a couple of hurtful things to me. She was good to me when it first happened, and I know she was devastated at his behavior and embarrassed.

            Bottom line is I know she had to keep eating that shit sandwich. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she would have preferred he stay with me. But, she depended on him and she was indeed stuck in a crap situation.

            She was not the cause of him acting like a cheating shithead.

        • Attending functions with ex’s family sounds creepy to me. Especially if ex is there as well. Not your family anymore. Unless this is a function for your child and the paternal relatives must be involved, it doesn’t seem healthy or on the road to meh.
          Seeing the ex in social situations and obsessing over his life will keep you stuck. If I ever had to see my X again, I would totally ignore him. He is a dead guy to me.

        • I”m trying to figure out how to reply to the multiple comments on this one – hope that by replying to myself it will work b/c i appreciate everyone chiming in. …. I was trying to not be too detailed about all this side conversation, lol. But it was for a wedding on the other side of the country. Not something I could schedule separately, i was told by the mom i was on the bride’s guest list and she hoped i would be there. 5 months later was asked not to come to not take away her joy at the event by worrying about how i’m dealing with being there, as well as making the other guests uncomfortable. So choice was to extract me as opposed to asking the ex not to bring his GF,who didn’t even really know the bride…my niece of over 20 years that I knew since she was 2. I am pretty sure my ex didn’t ask her to do this, but supported the decision afterward instead of giving her the option to have me be there. And I did reach out to my niece with a very sweet card saying the last thing i would want was to make anyone uncomfortable, but my heart was broken to miss it all the same. and sent a handmade gift. I never heard from her after i sent it, but she’s young, was trying to enjoy her wedding I’m sure, and none of this was her fault. It hurt…a lot, but I can’t say I would have known how to handle that in my 20’s either.

          @chumpinrecovery – how awful. But that’s definitely on your ex and his decision to pull that crap. Wow.

          @susie lee – i had that too with MIL. and while I see where they’re stuck in the middle in my case, i also see where there ARE ways to rise above that and be kind and genuine anyway.

          • When somebody sends you a gift (and a handmade one at that), you send a thank you card or letter 🤦‍♀️

            • I agree with that comment, SPS. ‘Thank you’ is basic good manners. I’ve noticed how much I, and Mighty Chumps generally, make allowances, excuses for bad behaviour. It’s something I’m exploring in therapy. My feelings are still repressed, buried and I find it more comfortable to rationalise events and actions in a very ‘adult’ way. Many of my sentences in therapy and life start ‘to be fair to X’. I want to be fair to others, but not to the extent of being unfair to myself, at my psychological expense.

              Martha, you strike me from what I’ve read as a person who wants to do the right thing, to be fair and just. You did the right thing with grace and dignity. No response from the niece was a response in itself. Grieve and accept. I have had to do this with the ex’s family, including a much-loved and admired niece who was complicit in helping ex to cheat. After 26 years, no children, I was dropped before he left (they knew when I did not know). It really hurts, and is an added blow to an already battered body. Self-care and awareness of triggering feelings help.

              The ex’s two brothers both behaved in the same way (affairs, drinking). The in laws kept in close touch with the oldest brother’s ex because she gave birth to the nieces. That was the only reason. They hated her, I heard them say so many times. She also hated them but they are rich with money to leave. The second brother’s ex gets Christmas and birthday cards. This ex, who is also my friend, continues to be grateful for crumbs and the crumbs keep coming. I did get a Christmas card, as did my mother. Ex left me only 6 weeks after my father died. My mother and I were in crisis and did not send Christmas cards to anyone that year. I was suicidal. We were both criticised for our ‘failure’ to respond to their generous gesture. Image management and a total absence of empathy. One day the ex’s parents will die. They are both over 80. The remaining parent and the ex, and even the OW, will, perhaps, understand what real grief feels like. Or more probably not. I will not know when they die and will not be invited to the funerals. I can live with that. I cannot make people care about me and I don’t want to. It is sad, humans should be capable of being kind. We Chumps have a special gift: we know that those we have loved are capable of cruelty. This gives us a survival advantage and makes us strong, prepared, sensibly, for what might happen and how we will deal with it. That’s you, Martha.

              • I’m so sorry u went thru that and am glad you’re on the other side. I guess I just Try to think of where I was At her age and how I might Have behaved. Probably not totally the same, but it would have made me feel bad regardless and I wouldnt Have known what to do. I have Not reacted the same to the adults

      • Yep. Today would have been my 30th anniversary. Divorced after 28 and a half years of marriage. I don’t miss HIM per se but I was sad today at the loss of what could have been had he tried —and not been a disordered serial cheater FW. The loss of a dream. The loss of the investment of my time, energy and love unreciprocated.

  • “Let go of karma. His punishment is being him.”

    This is something I still struggle with so this was good to read. I hope for karma but I also don’t believe in it, to be honest. I hope his marriage with the affair partner ends but, honestly, I believe it never will; FW and NowWife (formerly affair partner #3) have been married longer than he and I were. My former in-laws dropped me like a hot potato and accepted her into the family (while FW and I were still technically married) and my kids, now in high school, have known her since pre-school (when FW’s affair with Affair Partner #3/future wife began), adore her, and call her “Mom” as well.

    I don’t see either of them, I have pretty high walls, strict boundaries, and I’m grey rock all the way these days.

    I still think it would be “nice” if their marriage fell apart (nice in scare quotes because I hate wishing that upon anyone, to be honest) so that I would only have to see FW at the next unavoidable family event; not FW and the last mistress he left me for together, hand in hand. But, karma isn’t really a thing and I’m only hurting myself by fantasizing about it. Because life is not built on the idea of fairness or justice, I suspect those two will actually remain “happily married forever after.” And good for them, I guess; that’s no prize. I did my time in the “I’m married to a man who tends to cheat” trenches and it did horrible things to my mental health. It took years of antidepressants and recovery. The sparkly turd is hers to cherish now.

    I made my life cool and independent after years of ADs and work on myself and I don’t want him back in my life in any capacity. But I know I have a complicated relationship with the idea of karma. Sometimes it depresses me that their marriage has lasted, now, longer than his and mine did (Me, the first wife, his high school sweetheart, etc etc) and sometimes it’s absolutely freeing to just shrug and say “F**k it, they’re going to be married forever. Not my problem.”
    Does anyone struggle with the idea of karma and comeuppance?

    • My in laws have been married since the early 60’s. They are now 95 and 85. It is a sick sick sick relationship. He is still a serious alcoholic who beat the crap out of her in their younger years.

      Length of time together means nothing and is useless yardstick to measure the quality of a relationship with.

      No one should know that better than us.

      • “Length of time together means nothing and is useless yardstick to measure the quality of a relationship with.”

        Agreed. Thanks for the reframing.

      • I was in my marriage to serial cheating FW for 20 years, some of us longer than that. Length of time together means less than nothing….trust he still sucks, because he does and do not create a narrative of what you think they have because you are just hurting yourself. Unless he had a stroke or closed head injury or some other brain/personality transplant it is hard to believe that the man who cheated on you three times early in your marriage miraculously changed. He just married someone who expected a cheater……

      • For the chumps that also escaped physically abusive relationships, aren’t we content to be free of 👊 ?

      • My inlays were married for 59 years and on his death bed, my FIL refused to eek out one decent kindness to his wife. She wasn’t perfect, but she really was a good wife to him. In many ways, she and I both did the same thing, we made the best of a life with a selfish, mean man who clearly did not love us.

        At about the 25 year mark (still trying to convince him to act like he valued me) I told him “If at our 50 year anniversary party our future granddaughters ask me when I knew that you loved me, I would say ‘never’…is that what you want as your legacy?” I was trying attempt 54,293 to convince him to love me. Huge mistake.

        So yea, VH is right, time means nothing..assholes can be assholes right up to their last breath. It is us who have to decide if we ought to stick around

    • I used to think Karma would be ex and Schmoopie’s relationship blowing up in some spectacular fashion. Five year’s on from D-Day, I have redefined Karma. Karma is they are stuck with each other for the rest of their lives.

    • thank you for sharing and yeah, i get it. I don’t feel like i see evidence of karma in general, but find myself hoping for it during this. i know i shouldn’t for sure, neither of them are worth my time on those thoughts.

  • Martha, you need to block him on social media and stop trying to figure out what he’s up to. He’s having a BLAST telling his friends and family and YOUR KIDS about the pitiful woman who just can’t quit him. Stop giving him the satisfaction. I don’t know if all your kids are adults, but if they are not you need to go grey rock. If they are all over 18 it’s time to make it your life’s work to never hear from him again. No contact is the path to peace and happiness.

    I was married 25 years and still had minor children when I divorced the cheater. Of course I had to go back to court when the youngest graduated from high school to make him pay the child support and alimony that he still owed me. It’s been 10 years since the divorce was final and I’m at full meh.

    • I second this: no contact with him at all and that includes no contact via social media. You shouldn’t want to know anything about his life or what he does when he has the kids.

      Block. Block. Block. His life is separate and different from yours. Knowing him is an addiction; it’s time to break it. I know because I used to be FW addict too. I figured out how to adjust privacy filters on all the apps and social media I used in order to block FW and NowWife. I don’t want to know about their lives; it only stalls my forward motion. I searched up what their various social media handles were specifically so I could add them to my block lists. I don’t want to know about their lives; it only stalls my forward motion. I (nicely) asked any friend who would send me photos of my kids out and about with their Dad and Stepmom to stop. I (nicely) asked any friend who felt it was important to message me with what FW was doing now to stop. It took years to train some of these people but they stopped. I don’t want to know about their lives; it only stalls my forward motion. No social media contact. No social media contact. No social media contact.

      “But I have to know what my kids are up to when they’re out with their Dad.” No you don’t. They’re out with their Dad. That’s their time with him and it’s separate from you time with them. If they tell you, they tell you. If they don’t, they done. You don’t need to know; it just feeds your FW addiction. Don’t use keeping tabs on the kiddos as a crutch. I know I did for awhile and it huuuuuurt seeing all the smiling, happy photos of the smiling, happy weekends-only-stepfamily. I knew I had to stop looking.

      No social media contact. Block. Block. Block.

      • A great expression here: Forward Momentum. This is key. We all need to be focused on the Forward Momentum in our lives. If something doesn’t serve this, or jeopardizes it? It needs to go or the activity needs to cease. Everything needs to be framed in terms of: “Does this serve my Forward Momentum?”

        That will help everyone that is struggling.

        In my own life, I frame it a little differently: “Will this disturb my sleep at night?” I literally frame almost everything in this concept, as I was sleep deprived for YEARS with Dracula. And now, I guard my sleep very diligently. Looking at his Social Media? No, because that could disrupt my sleep. Asking my kids details of what they talk about with him? No, because that could also cause sleep disturbances.

        But it’s the same concept, and Forward Momentum is a better overall framing technique.

        • Sleep deprivation is a form of torture for political prisoners.
          It’s no wonder an abuse victim’s adrenal glands are shot to hell and they develop health problems.

          • Totally agree, SPBAS. Dracula was ex Military, I’m sure he learned that there, and used it to keep me off-balance and not uppity. And so he could do shenanigans and I wouldn’t notice.

            • It’s only been the last ten or fifteen years that health care practitioners have emphasized how important restorative sleep is for overall health. One older friend (in her 70s) struggles with insomnia due to financial worries.

    • and @Fourleaf – i’m not connected to either of them. But ALL of my friends are. So at some point, one will end up mentioning what they saw to me, usually in a light that isn’t nice b/c apparently their posts appear to be looking for attention, but I find out about it regardless. until recently, he had some settings that prevented them from seeing his posts or ones he’s tagged in or something and now something must have changed he’s decided it’s not necessary.

      • Martha,

        I was married to a cheater (liar user fraud selfish adult toddler) for almost 40 years and I’ve been divorced for over a year now.

        A lot of education about these kinds of people and how they use and abuse others with the ‘nice guy’ mask in place helped me tremendously to get intellectual perspective and then emotional clarity and detachment.
        Narcissism, Borderline Personality, Sociopathic Behaviors information helped give me the validation I needed to understand the dynamic.

        Basically,
        I was wasting my time continuing to view X as some kind of normal and decent human being.

        He is not and was not in our shared life except by the grace of my efforts. The betrayals were unending. I didn’t know what I was dealing with. I know now.

        Unfortunately, my children are figuring that out, as I spackled very well over many years.

        He is much worse now with schmoopie number 18 or 19.
        But I don’t care.

        My life is rich and full and valuable to me and so much better without the oppression of a disordered cheater in my life.

  • CL, I totally get Martha.

    My feelings and situation and my letter if I were to write to you are almost a copy of hers, down to the angry eldest son and the horrible treatment by FW’s family. They think FW got tired of me. But, coincidentally, I had started to rebel at paying FW’s family’s stupid expenses and being blamed for our bad financial situation. Just the length of the marriage changes, 39 years when divorced, to the day, and the amount of time I spent “willing to work on it”, almost the entire marriage (no, I never spent a penny on RIC, it was 100% my own stupid).

    I now see FW and his family liked what I did for them, but not me.

    I AM building a new life and actually having fun at it. I have always had a profession that I love.

    But I can’t get over the anger, at me, at FW, and at his family. I wish I could take a magical pill that obliterated all the memories I have of these cynical, self-interested people. I still shiver when something triggers a memory. And after 42 years of relations, there are MANY triggers, almost daily. I gave my sons a father who is going to be a HUGE burden on them in the near future (and, consequently, on me).

    It looks like PSTD to me. I think I am a good, albeit stupid person. It is traumatic to find out you were sleeping with an enemy for decades and bred with him. I don’t stalk (except to check if FW still has a job), but I do fantasize about running into an ex-SIL whom I thought was my friend and reducing her character to a grease spot in ten words.

    I don’t see any way out of these feelings except to calm down by remembering that everywhere, including here at CN, there people and chumps who have had much, much more suffering than I ever had and be grateful for this.

    Martha, take care and keep up the good work. You are in very good company!

    • Clear Waters…. I do the same thing. When I get too mopey I remind myself that many many others have it much worse than I do.

      People are sold into brothels as children, murderered, nurse their children through childhood cancers, live in a tin shack in a refuge camp, die of starvation etc.

      This is NOT to say that our suffering is invalid! But we don’t own it all. ALL suffering is valid.

    • Clear – I’m absolutely positive that FWs family is missing your money, how you’d pay for their lives & expenses. They’re users, all. (Which is why FW is the way he is – he’s a product of that user environment).

      Take every red cent you’d spend on FW User Family and spend that on yourself!

    • Clear Waters,

      Your sons’ father will be a huge burden on them in the near future only if they allow him to be. We all have choices.

  • Good advice from CL and all others.

    The only thing I would say is Don’t assume filing first is the best thing for you, check with a lawyer first. In this case the D is final, but just for new Chumps get legal advice to the best of your ability first. In my case even in a no fault/50/50 state him filing was so much better for me.

    Of course if he refuses to file, then you have to do what you have to do. But collect all those bank and credit card histories first.

    • My divorce is taking too long, I filed, he waited until last day to answer petition, my lawyer had to file motions to get discovery info, it was incomplete and trickled in. My Estranged coward wouldn’t have filed. Due to judges caseload reassignments, July trial date was moved to April of next year. It’s been 2.5 years since I filed. Now I’m working on a Marriage Settlement Agreement.
      Susie Lee glad it worked to have him do it

      • Yes, that was part of it.

        My lawyer said if he files he is responsible for proving all the paperwork. Had I filed he could have drug his feet and caused all sorts of delay which would have delayed our temp separation agreement.

        No way is perfect, but it can make a difference. There are other reasons it was better for me too. But, that is one of them.

  • Children’s events have to be about the children. If it is a birthday celebration for an 8 year old, and your past neighbor who got divorced brings the new wife/girlfriend when dropping off your child’s friend, you don’t stop the fun by saying “Ralph, how could you bring HER, you know I am Ella’s friend?” Because it is not relevant. It is also a bummer for your 8 year old.. Ella should not do that for her 8 year old either. If Ralph is the dad, they are divorced, and he is invited, do you expect him to come alone and slink into a corner with shame? Do you expect all the other guests to throw stones at Ralph?

    Most of the time, I think separate celebrations are best, for the children. They can have two birthday celebrations, two Christmas celebrations, two vacations. That’s the gravy you get when your parents are divorced. Also, It’s not a competition. If Dad buys a more expensive gift, so what. That leaves Dad less money to spend on his new lifestyle. If you don’t react and get upset, no real fun for Dad. Believe me, as time goes on, he won’t continue to do things that are not fun for him. In addition, new girlfriend/wife is probably more expensive to maintain, and that pesky child support and solo child care cost gets expensive. If you are the sane parent, the fact that you always remember the birthday, and give a gift according to the reality of your budget will eventually register with your children. They are materialistic when they are young, but they are capable of learning that all that glitters is not gold.

    When they have school events, graduations, weddings — just be prepared. I tried very hard not to sit with good old Dad and the Flavor du Jour, but he always made a beeline for me and whoever I was with. I realized it was because he wanted to know about my life, and because he was incapable of keeping up with what was going on in the celebration. He was focused on himself, as usual. I just developed a thick skin for those events. That is where you learn to bury the unchangeable past. It is dead. Don’t expect remorse and apologies from someone who is incapable of doing that. Pigs will never fly, either.

    Meh doesn’t arrive with karma. Meh is the state of your mind when you realize you are worth it, and you are actually better off without him/her. Karma has it’s own timeline. Age and consequences are what caught up with my ex. Children grow up, and their perceptions change. You lose “friends” who actually are not friends. Time passes, and you get better. Just believe it. It did not happen as a moment of epiphany for me.

    • Thank you – I do Realize things in your last paragraph. Just get stuck in the things I mentioned. And The divorce did open my eyes to some of the good people around, as well as the not so great. And there was some weeding for sure.

      • Martha,

        My divorce opened my eyes too. Some people who I had always thought of as friends turned out to be nothing of the sort ….. and some people that I knew only tangentially (socially or through work) turned out to be real lifesavers.

        LFTT

  • Reprogramming your mind and repairing the damage requires the realization that YOU are your soulmate. Make YOU your focus and be your own best friend. A result of this mindset is that you will begin to notice people becoming more attracted to you. Just be prepared to be more protective of yourself the way a best friend would be.

  • If I were to ever be in a relationship again, given my age (57) that man would have to have been in a previous serious relationship.

    His previous conduct in those relationships would be a primary concern with which to make a decision about him.
    If he had a living former spouse, believe me I would want to read the room accurately. If he had cheated on her, even if he is Jamie Fraser in the flesh, I am taking a hard pass.

    People who get involved in affairs are Relationship School flunkies. There are legions of people walking the earth that are A-OK acting poorly and thinking very highly of themselves. My goal is to not be one of them or be married or otherwise tethered to one of them. If you want the Mona Lisa and have the choice between the real McCoy or a forgery, which one would you choose? The affair accomplice is settling for the forgery. That leaves me in the spot to have the real thing.

    If I love myself, and love others, and am kind and loyal to myself, and kind and loyal to those who reciprocate loyalty and kindness to me, then I have love in my life. Trying to extract love from someone who is not capable of it is actually NOT loving myself. I am thankful I have no desire to get involved with married or otherwise committed men. That alone puts me in the best section of the ballpark, which is where I really want to be.

    STICK WITH THE WINNERS. And cheaters, by definition and proven by conduct, are not winners.

    • Velvet, that is some boundary turning down my darling Jamie Frazer. But I concur, there is no man that cheats who is husband material!

    • VH, very true, you are wise.

      I tell people that when I considered entering a new relationship, I did not want a man who betrayed his first family. Even learning that he made mistakes betraying them doesn’t make them a decent person.

      I met a Chump woman who went on 53 first dates and asked each of them if they cheated on their wives and the first 52 admitted that they did. She married the 53rd guy.

      • When I first met my now H, I definitely did some asking around. I knew that he and my supervisor had grown up near each other and were friends. She kind of became our matchmaker because he was pretty shy, and so was I.

        I had been asked out by a couple other men, but either wasn’t ready, or wasn’t interested. For some reason this guy got my interest.

        I flat out asked her if she knew if he cheated on his wife, or if she knew what happened. She said she was pretty sure he did not cheat, and she knew he was really hurt when his wife left him.

        He and my dad and my brother are the reason I know that there are good men out there; and they aren’t all chasing strange. I still know that and after 26 years married, I don’t see that changing. We are now 71 and 81.

        I took plenty of time to get to know him personally, and financially. Anyway after a few years we did get married, and we are still together. I have been blessed, and he makes me feel like he thinks he has been blessed too.

  • One thing I would also say to folks in this situation, after the settlement is done, if you do not have a job; get one.

    Unless child care makes it impossible for the time being. A job is something you can focus on and sink your teeth into.

    I was so fortunate to have my minimum wage entery level job. Of course I had no children at hom, as mine was fully emancipated.

    I was 40, and starting my life all over. If I did nothing else right (and I did some things right) I recognized how valuable that job was to me.

    Within just a few years I was outlearning him (his pay was public record and so was mine). He was saddled with a whore who had quit working just a few months after they married; and never worked again. I know this because we share a son who he and his whore tried to commit theft against. (He wasn’t successful, because my son takes after me and is not an idiot).

    Volunteer work is grand, but having a job that earn you your own money is important.

    If one is independently wealthy of course that might be a different thing. That was never my situation.

    I did a lot of volunteer work while we were married, I enjoyed it but I also did it to help him in the community and in his job.

    I quit all that immediately, and concentrated on work and college classes. I had to save me. Once I got solvent and on my feet, I was able to start contributing to whatever cause I chose.

    • Agreed. I was about to comment that Martha’s list of activities omitted a job. I think working and making your own money matters ALOT for self esteem and fulfillment. It also made dels resiliency to kids…of all ages. I recommend every woman who’s exited a traumatic relationship throw herself into her career, or get a career, or get a new career. Also, and not for nothin, it’s a lot harder to stew in bad feelings when your tired after a long day of fulfilling work. Too much time on one’s hands is a very bad thing when you’re spinning.

      • I’m working FT too. And did have to start a career from scratch. I was Working before but wasn’t something that would go anywhere and contract ended right after the divorce anyway.

      • Not being able to find work is a real problem for some divorced people.
        It’s not a choice.
        Divorce poverty is real.
        It’s not a luxury problem.

        And it’s not even about a career. It’s about finding a job.
        I don’t know, sometimes it feels that truly there are different universes.

  • I think it is fair to say that many of us wish for Karma and knowing “karma is being him” doesn’t quite satisfy. Some days I feel mighty but many I do not. I try to practice gratitude for the things I have built – like a loving, mutually respectful relationship with my kids. Most days that helps. But meh is a goal – not always a reality

    • I get that.

      I am one that got to know that my ex just kept right on shitting on himself; but many don’t get to.

      I would be lying if I said it didn’t give me some satisfaction, at least in the beginning.

      The down side was the pain he caused my grown son and sons family, so even when “karma” is visible there is a down side.

      Also, I don’t really believe in Karma as folks think of it, I just believe in the results of bad decisions. Folks who are prone to bad decisions, rarely stop making bad decisions; they just don’t.

      • Agreed, SL. The evidence of “karma” that I’ve seen manifested all just ended up hurting my kids, which hurt my heart further.

  • One step to my Meh was seeing how I failed myself long ago. I should have broken up with my X when we were dating. I should have seen it was wrong WAY back then.

    But nope, I didn’t learn that lesson for another 24 years.

    That’s on me.

    Part of this journey is seeing where we were “wrong” and growing from there. That’s key to gaining a life.

  • Well, I really needed to hear this too.

    So many overlaps in her theme to mine with regard to: “many who have chosen to remain in ignorant bliss rather than be real or realistic of what happened.” remain friends, call each other buddies and think she’s so talented.

    Trying to remain in the sailing club where these people are still connected is just more then I can bare. If they’re ok with what those two did, I can’t be ok with them. If they’re ok that he (a club director and sailing instructor) gaslighted and used me all the while screwing around with the married hoewrecker, gaslighting her husband the commodore of the club I can’t be ok with them.

    Yes: “Okay, well that’s useful information to know who to cull from your social register.” and this is what I did. This was painful to do. Just more loss to swallow. And there are a few more I should do this with too. I chose quality people for friends over quantity.

    Also, as I read thru the response I also saw a few similarities. The ditch pig had her on ‘our boat’ (as he referred to the boat) twice without her husband in the Caribbean. 9 says the 1st time and 7 days for the 2nd. I witnessed the behaviour. Any mention of what the hell was going on I was told that: I’m overreacting, stop being so sensitive, you’re just jealous. There’s nothing going on. If I feel we’re having problems in our relationship I’d talk to you about it, looked me in the eyes and said: “I’d never hurt you like that, You’re my girl.”

    Like really? I am mad at myself, and this is keeping me stuck. I can’t seem to forgive myself for wanting to believe he had standards, morals, professional ethics, for not wanting to believe the truth that was screaming at me. I saw him kiss her, but apparently I imagined this. I saw in my peripheral vision her finger her crotch at him while he was on the helm. I imagined all this because I’m crazy apparently.

    I knew the first time I met her when she invited herself and a friend for a day sail. I opted to get provisioning done for our 9 day trip to the north channel and meet up with them when they returned. I got the vibe. I knew then something was going on and I pushed it aside. A year later I find the truth in messenger technicolour and realize just how long those two were meeting up at their usual spot.

    Knew him for 14yrs, 7 years in a relationship, 14 years of wasted time with this character. Just get over it. Move on. A year later I am doing fantastic I think just not completely there. New friends in my life, I feel as though I almost have my old self back. It’s been a nasty journey.

    Thankfully we were not married, thankfully I maintained my own home and did not have to settle anything financially and thankfully to all the stars in the universe I did not breed with this sparkley turd. But why oh why would he string me along like that? Well, I also had my advanced cruising certification, basic instructor, international certificate of competency. He needed me on the charters, to help him move the boat, to clean and organize the thing.

    Plain and simple, he took advantage of me, used me and I let it happen. Why? Because I didn’t want to believe he could be such a twisted, selfish and cruel person. I wanted to believe that whatever ups and downs we would manage even though I was so sore from being whipped by the red flags. She can have him with my blessing. When I think of him the feeling is disgust. Ditch pig is a term that does not fully convey how disgusting he is. We were on a boat, surrounded by water. There’s a problem with one of the toilets. On a boat there’s a pump assembly where the waste gets pumped through to the holding tank. He takes it apart and where does he proceed to clean and scrape it out? In the kitchen sink. Behind the sink is the tray of cooking utensils. When he’s done he uses the dish cloth to wipe the counter down, gives it a rinse and hangs it up to use again later for dishwashing. OMG, being me I just accepted his lack of domestic knowledge and forgave him mom for not teaching him this stuff. I went after and put the cloth in the laundry, cleaned the sink and counter, washed and dried the utensils. The look he gave me almost unhinged me, it was mean. I think it hit me then and there, that this character with everything going on with what I saw, what he’s saying, I saw something that told me this isn’t right. But still held on we would get back on track. What a fool I was. Had I found out while on the boat and between islands I really believed he would have pushed me overboard. Had I found out when he left me in Antigua to deal with the boat when he went home for business (which was hooking up with her) and couldn’t return because of covid, I would have left that boat open and where he anchored it. 1ft off the bottom in calm water and not forecasted to stay that way. These story lines wake me up at night. So besides not being able to forgive myself for hanging on and wanting things to work I am thankful I found out when I did. Safe in quarentine but not quite sound in my own home.

    Why is it so difficult to forgive our own selves, this is the big question?

    • We HAVR to forgive ourselves! They are sneaky marauders, invading our land, and pretending to be an upright human! They hide it well, let’s all forgive ourselves right now!
      You sound like a very impressive woman, and I’m pretty amazing, too! People who truly know us, will confirm. Even so, we were tricked, we were lied to, and royally gaslighted! Intelligent people still do get fooled, so let’s forgive our sweet selves, and move forward into our futures.

    • Marion,

      Another sailor on here welcome!

      I found out about the cheating when our boat was tied up seven ways to Sunday in a hurricane hole during Hurricane Irma. I didn’t actually leave immediately because he said it was talking and texting only and for the first time since we left the Chesapeake he was talking to me. I had settled for so little because I didn’t want to give up my dream boat (the ketch, not the “Captain”). About the time the flood waters receded and it was safe to walk on shore again, I realized I was so angry I couldn’t contain it. Then I left.

      Turns out it was more than talking.

  • You are keeping yourself in this for what purpose? He doesn’t give a damn about you.

    You’re only good path is complete no contact. Grey rock him. It can be done effectively but you are keeping this active on your end. Probably trying to control an outcome that has already been decided.

    Get out of the victim chair or linger in limbo. You are the only one keeping yourself where you are.

  • How timely that this came up! I was watching the new episodes od Dirty John on Netflix, and this season is about Betty Broderick- and as she kept involving herself in her cheating ex husband’s business, I could hear CL in the back of my mind going “NO! Disengage for fuck’s sake!!”

    • Dirty John has been so so good to watch. The first show I can think of that accurately tells the tales of chumps.

      There’s one quote where Betty says “If Dan had defrauded a business partner the way he did me when he broke our contract, he’d be the one in jail, not me.” Loved that.

      You were not the only one mentally yelling at the screen!

      • I think that’s why the last scene of her realizing how many chances she had to turn back was so important – we all have the choice to save ourselves, yeah?

  • Martha, I don’t have kids so I’m certainly no expert on parenting, but if I did have kids, I would follow in the steps of the many on here who have made the truth of the circumstances clear to their kids in an age-appropriate way. I’m concerned that the kids only found out a few months ago that the divorce was your ex’s idea (and that he was the one who told them). And I wonder why most friends and family don’t know (or don’t believe). Maybe it’s because you only found out after he left and then didn’t share that new information at the time? But that’s information I would definitely want to know, if I were your friend. (And if you told them and they don’t believe you, I think that is important information to know about a “friend.” A true friend should believe you, so this lets you know who you need to cull….)

    I found (and still find, when it comes up) immense freedom in speaking the truth about the circumstances around my divorce. I try to do so in a relatively matter of fact way: most of the time I say “my husband got a girlfriend, so we divorced.” In fact, sharing this truth widely is how I learned the feeling of the the “truth shall set you free.” The relationship was over, and I did not need to protect his reputation in case we ever got back together because I knew we were NEVER getting back together. And seeing how different people reacted to the information allowed me to see their character and adjust the relationship as necessary in light of that. I knew who I could rely on, and I knew who to distance myself from. This all gave me a solid, true foundation to build a new life on. Martha, I hope that you are able to share the truth with your circle. Maybe it will help lead you to meh?

    • Thank you. My circle knows. My kids don’t. At the time of the divorce, I wanted them to know it wasn’t mutual and my therapist explained and sent me info on why it’s better for the Kids relationships with both parents to not know it wasn’t mutual. But when I believed My son was blaming me, I wanted Him to know it wasn’t mutual from his dad bc if it came from me, I knew That would backfire and he wouldn’t believe me and be angrier. That took 3 years. Idk what is appropriate for them learning it was an affair. Especially bc she’s in their lives and they don’t have a choice in spending time with her. I want What is best for them, as hard as it’s been, and continues to be for me.

      • What is best for them is the truth in age appropriate terms, I have read that here plenty of times. It seems your therapist believes that gaslighting the kids is okay – honestly there have to be people who know the truth would you want them to find out from one of them? That is truly unfortunate and wrong headed. I have to question why it was okay for you to take the blame in order to make it possible for your ex and ow to save face but telling the truth was considered a problem. Perhaps you are stuck because your therapist is failing you and your family.

        • I agree, they need to know the truth in age appropriate terms.

          No need to bash or drag it out. A simple, this is what happened and then move on and and love and care for the kids; assuming they are still dependent. If they are emancipated, then let them figure out their own relationship. Treat them with respect and as the adults they now are. Won’t be easy at first, but it will get easier and feel more natural as time goes on.

          I was lucky in that my ex was outed before the whole community and on the job, by his/and her own hand. He suffered public humiliations so in a small way that helped me get through my public humiliation, and I did suffer public humiliation, even if it was in my mind only. People knew he screwed around with this whore for years, that is humiliating. I still can’t believe in the very beginning after Dday, I tried to protect him. Luckily for me, that didn’t last long.

          I was also well known in the community, so though I am sure he tried; blaming me for his egregious actions was never really a possibility for him.

          But, it is not too late for Martha, she can turn this around fairly quickly and start to heal, especially since it appears the D has been in effect for a while.

      • The truth is always best for kids. When you lie or conceal the truth you are teaching them to lie or conceal the truth. You are teaching them to cover things up instead of feel them.

        I’d love to hear this therapists reasoning for lying to a kid. I can’t think of situation where it is better. The truth will out, and then they have to deal with two gaslighting parents instead of one.

        Be the sane parent that can always be trusted to tell the plain truth.

      • I’m glad your circle knows. I personally disagree with your therapist., though. I know in the past (several years back when I was more active on here, my d-day was almost 8 years ago now) I saw some parents share how they told their kids. I don’t know how old your kids are, but I think people have said things like “when your dad (or mom, as the case may be) and I got married, we promised to be each other’s favorite person forever and to not have any other boyfriends or girlfriends. Your dad (or mom) did not keep the promise they made to me, and they broke the rules of our marriage so I could no longer stay married to your dad (or mom).” This is just my memory of how people explained it; I’m sure some actual parents will share some ideas about how they worded it. If you decide to go ahead and tell them, you could maybe also add that you waited to tell them because you were following the advice of your therapist but now you realize that you disagree with that advice and wanted them to know the truth and to hear it from you and maybe apologize for waiting so long? I dunno, that’s probably how I’d think about doing it. Again, I’m sure parent chumps will have excellent ideas if how they’ve navigated these conversations… Good luck with thinking through all this!

      • I don’t know how old your kids are, Martha; maybe they are quite young? But if they are teenagers, I am surprised that your therapist advised you to lie to your kids and say it was a mutual decision. Being lied to is tough. You know that from your ex lying to you. It’s the same for your kids – when you are lied to about something as impactful as your parents divorcing it’s just not good. Do they need to know all the gory details? No. But age appropriate truth can actually be calming for kids. Everything makes more sense. They are not being left in the dark with a very uneasy feeling.
        At this point (I’m 4 years out from divorce), my kids the know they can count on for sure from me is honesty. They deserve that and we are relentlessly honest with each other.

      • I told my kids the truth. There are many, many shitty therapists & judges & lawyers out there who will counsel you to LIE to your kids. This backfires, because the kids won’t know what the truth or lies are later in life. I told the therapist & judge “I will not step in front of FW and lie to my kids”.

        Your goal here is NOT to tell the truth so that the kids “pick sides, or one parent over another”. Get that illusion or fantasy out of your head. Even if the other parent is a FW, the kids will still want them in their lives.

        The GOAL of telling the truth is so that the kids start to internalize who is the sane parent that will ALWAYS tell them the truth.

        • Yes, exactly. Be the parent that they can trust, that will be truthful. But also be the parent that supports their relationship with the FW. You can be honest with them about your feelings (age-appropriately and within reason) while showing them how to live and move on with life no matter the circumstances. Just don’t confide in them, or use them to communicate with FW or OW.

          • One thing for me that is so hard is all 4 of my kids know what their mother and her AP have done. They saw first hand. Yet my oldest two kids will not talk with me or come by me now going on 3 years. I’m not sure if it’s because I filed and divorced her. It’s one of the worst things that could happen to a parent. I reach out all the time but it seems to be a lost cause. My younger 2 kids though keep asking and telling her they want to live with me. Of course she will not let them. I don’t bad mouth her or talk to the kids about her. The younger 2 love being with me because they have my complete attention as I have no one else. Where as her time spent with them always involves her AP and 4 of his kids. What does one do when the kids ask to live with you and want to know what age they can decide? Has anyone dealt with something similar? They will be 13 & 10 in a few months.

            • No legal advice here re: your youngest two. Depends on where you live. You’d need to seek professional advice about if it’s (1) possible and (2) worth the hassle of going to court. Do they stay with you more often than agreed? Document, document, document.

              Re: your oldest two. They don’t want to lose mom’s (1) love and/or (2) money/power/social circle. I am so sorry. It is very probable — not certain, but very probable — they’ll come around eventually. Most likely she’s love-bombing them and bad-mouthing you. It can take years to overcome that.

        • “Even if the other parent is a FW, the kids will still want them in their lives.”

          When I found out my father was a cheating fuckwit I wanted nothing to do with him from that moment onwards, at the age of 11.

      • Your kids need to know the truth – so they don’t make untrue reasoning about what happened and blame themselves, or worse, be gaslighted by the flying monkeys that surround the fuckwit. Fuck therapists and their Switzerlanding bullshit.

  • I am not bashing Martha but it would appear she is using the kids and their “milestones” to force cheater to
    be the family they once were…huge mistake. Cheater resents it and more importantly I am pretty sure the kids hate it as well as it puts them in a shitty position. Definitely not a pleasant way to celebrate “milestones”. Oh and the oldest is well aware Dad wanted out of the marriage and didn’t need Dad to tell him it was his idea. Martha, you need to focus on you and the kids, forget cheater and his family. If you continue down the same path, you’ll lose your kids as well. They’ll see Cheater Dad & AP as the sane parents. Being cheated on and dumped sucks. Having your life turned upside down also sucks. Continuing to hang on for dear life to the person that cheated, dumped and turned your life upside down will suck even more…time to move on.

    • One more thing…you are waiting for a lying piece of shit cheater to come clean to family and friends? It will NEVER happen because he is a lying, cheating coward.

    • Thanks. My son definitely didn’t know divorce wasn’t mutual. More detail than I wish To publish, but he didn’t know.

      • The kids will sort out that it was their father that caused the divorce and it may seem like right now they are all honky dory with cheater and AP but when they become adults that may change. They’ll resent the parties that hurt their mother.

      • My opinion is that you should have told your kids the truth from the start. That your HUSBAND had a long term affair with his much younger employee, caused the massive problems at home during the affair, and filed for divorce to be with her, and is lying to everyone. The truth is best for them. They are intelligent persons, and deserve the truth. They don’t need TWO lying parents and a lying ho stepmother. Sorry, but you created your own problems with your son. Tell him the truth about the affair. Stop worrying about what your husband’s family and friends think. Stop overthinking the obvious, and stop listening to an idiot therapist. Do you want your kids lying to you “for your own ‘protection'”? And, yes, I have divorced parents.

  • At first, and for a very long time, it looked to me like he was giving to someone else what he denied me. That is the best way I can spell out one source of my anger. It took a long time to internalize that this is not the case.

    The anger I am processing these days is around having been deceived and years of my life taken by someone who was deceiving and abusing me. The hard pill is that I stayed as long as I did for whatever reason. In denial, playing alchemist trying to turn garbage into gold, hooked by FO issues, whatever. Had I left earlier I would not have my daughter, who I would never ever wish back in a zillion years. So I can find a measure of acceptance with that realization. My daughter is the sure thing if I stay worthy of her trust and respect. A romantic partner will forever be a crap shoot. He paid for the Craigslist “Sole Mate” with our daughter. He turned his relationship with our daughter into a pile of ashes for a lower companion whose conduct proves she has very serious deep issues (like him). It’s great to be me. If I had to choose between my child and some guy from the Internet who would cheat with me, I’d choose my child every time. That’s what anything with a desirable heart and brain would do. She had no problem with him ghosting our daughter, the only evidence I need to look at which proves how effed up they both are.

    Every interaction I have to have with him actually verifies that divorce is the next right thing and that whoever is with him is not getting what I wanted and thought I had, as recently as Thursday afternoon when he, who worships the father who beat the shit out of everyone in his family, was surprised that I should feel anything about the death of my estranged mother.
    This emotional illiteracy was not at all lost on the brilliant co-parenting therapist, in whose presence he made the comment.

    What we experience with them is what their current and future romantic partners get. It’s very very hard work to reprogram oneself, and cheating is the most reliable indicator that someone is incapable of that work.

    I’m feeling chatty today….just a heads up there may be more coming!

    😜

    • TYPO…

      “That’s what ANYONE with a desirable heart and brain would do”

      Not “anything”

      Ok, I am headed out for the business meeting with Lothario the Ex.

    • “whose conduct proves she has very serious deep issues (like him).”

      As painful as it is to lose our families, the reality is cheaters always find their own level eventually. They may even hurt a few innocent folks along the way, but they will land at their own level. Some will have the power/money to hide it, most wont.

      The key is for us betrayed to also find our level, and most of us have done it or are in the process. That is a good thing,.

    • I know what you mean about resenting not being given the “better” person that the next spouse gets. That bugged me for a while. In some ways it was my fault: I did too many things for my XW in the marriage, and required too little of her. In a healthier marriage, we could have rebalanced our roles and stayed together, but XW preferred to discard me and our marriage rather than do the hard work of addressing the problems we did have. Unfortunately, I was never doing to be given the new and improved her, as she’s not really capable of compromise or introspection.

      Personally, I think it’s not right to jettison a 20-year relationship rather than attempt to fix it, but I was never going to get her to have an open and honest conversation with me so my attempts to assess and address any problems in the marriage were doomed to failure. It’s not surprising that our relationship – which we started in our 20s – needed some work; what surprised me is that she thought it was best to throw it away and start over with a new person (who, by most metrics, is very similar to me – except unsullied by a couple of decades of life together). But since XW is constitutionally incapable of admitting fault, I guess “throw it away and start over” is really her only option. I’m pretty confident that XW is accumulating unvoiced, unaddressed grievances in her new marriage, just as as she apparently accumulated them in our marriage. Maybe those problems will hit critical mass and she (or he) will discard this marriage; maybe one of them will die first; maybe they’ll just age out of the adultery age bracket and finish their lives together. Regardless, XW is incapable of the kind of compassion, empathy and introspection that it would have taken to save our marriage – that’s why she monkey-branched to a new one – so whatever improvements she’s managed to pull off for her second marriage were never going to be available to me.

      • I now believe affairs are about the high of cheating, and are not a response to the betrayed spouse or the relationship. For a long time I thought of the affair as him starting over with someone else; I now know that he is not loyal or monogamous and wanted fries AND vegetables with his entree. He cheated on the Sole Mate too. A monogamous relationship is not even on his bucket list or in his skillset.

        He didn’t want to be married. He wanted to be married and fuck around, which is not sustainable. Something’s gotta give. Tom Jones’ wife Linda thought she could live with it but I don’t think she pulled it off. I am completely at odds with how’ both of them define love and marriage. To hear him talk about Linda after she died blows my mind.

      • “Unfortunately, I was never going to be given the new and improved her, as she’s not really capable of compromise or introspection.”

        You are right on with the compromise/introspection comment. In the early days after the first DDay, I was destroyed by the cheating and deception, but I was also thankful that it might provide the opportunity to rebalance my relationship (thanks to marriage counselor, Perel, RIC, my partner’s BS, and my earnest, optimistic chumpiness). I’d been campaigning for years, in vain, for a more equal partnership, yet it kept getting worse. I was in a relationship with an abusive, manipulative person. OF course he wouldn’t, even couldn’t, rebalance the power. Every attempt at a meaningful conversation was a joke. Word salad and all the rest. Forget about nitros action and compromise. One of those painful but game-changing realizations.

    • My anger was a little different, it was more (though not all) that he took everything that I had worked for along side of him, including our family and turned it over to the town whore. And in fact, he really did.

      Kicker was she didn’t get o keep any of it, except for a small pension from his job. Early on in their marriage, he lost everything to bankruptcy, (gambling debts) and just when they were digging out of that, he bought a huge ass RV for over 100 thousand dollars and a year later died and left her with no way of paying for it.

      On another subject how in the hell do these folks who file bankruptcy get approved for something like that, at the age of 70. They had to know if he died there was no way she would be able to pay it off. I guess write offs and such.

      Please don’t misunderstand, folks file BR for many reasons and I get that they need to start new, but for a rich mans RV on a moderate retirement income, with no assets for collateral. Just weird, but not my problem thank goodness.

  • No Meh Martha,

    Dear woman… we have quite a few parallels…I could have written this about my Fuckwit and marriage implosion:

    * I do not know the extent of their affair. All the behaviors were there — the working out, teeth whitening, body hair shaving, new phone passcodes, gaslighting, anger, defensiveness…blah, blah. (seriously — I think we had the same FW)

    * The majority of his family has also hurt me in their treatment of me through this early on and still (his parents were truly abhorrent)

    * I’ve been through regular therapy, I’ve immersed myself in hobbies, creativity, finding new people who “get” me, staying busy. (yep)

    * wanting (and sometimes fulfilling) a text fury in reaction to his actions with the kids or the girlfriend that sets me off. Wanting the karma to come, wanting the relationship to end, wanting the closure of a sincere and full apology that includes a full admittance and regret of how awful he was to me (oh…so much yes)

    * It bothers me that it’s lasted, and likely in his and his family’s minds proof that the divorce was the right decision. (Most do not know or believe this was an affair.)

    *******************
    BUT here is where our paths digress… I don’t feel that way any more! Sure, occasionally I still want say a silent prayer that karma will get him and he and OW won’t work out… but then I set my head back straight and focus on what I CAN control and what MATTERS… me and my kid and my family and my boyfriend and my job. I have enough on my plate!! And FW doesn’t matter anymore or make it onto my list of things to worry or think about.

    DDay was about 6 years ago for me. And it took me almost 3 years to fully get past everything.

    How did I do it? Well, it did help that I was the one who went for the divorce. I didn’t fight for him because he left me and moved in with OW straight away. But my heart still had to catch up with my head… so that one year leading to divorce was a struggle and included loads of therapy and walks with friends.

    After the divorce, I still had custodial struggles. Early on I thought we could share holidays and birthdays for our young son too…but it didn’t happen from the start because FW was such an ape that the one time he showed up for a birthday party for my son, I could see how bizarre and entitled he was acting and I promised myself NEVER AGAIN. No need to share those special times with the creepy FW who fucked your family over. Enjoy the actual holiday and birthday focused on the things that are enjoyable… not on worrying about FW being there and how you look and what you’d say. Fuck that shit.
    The funniest part was when I wouldn’t share those events with FW, he got angry and tried to force it and even went through attorneys over it LOL. They can’t force anyone to do that. That dumbass.

    But here’s the big takeaway: Getting to meh is a DECISION. Yep. Sit yourself down and decide that you are going to focus on you and stop worrying about FW or what happens to him. You are divorced. He is not anything but a father to your children. He is NOT your family. His extended family is not your family.

    And when your mind starts to cycle and starts to go back to it’s old ways, set yourself straight… use therapy or meditation or whatever healthy method works best for you if you need to.

    Now it’s time to decide to move on and focus on you and your family. It’s a decision. It’s all up to you. You can do this.

  • Expecting the perpetrator to care is mistake number one.

    Inviting him to your house to do family celebrations is mistake number two. It only opens up wounds. You can have your own milestone celebrations with the kids, and let him have his with his girlfriend. This should be the new normal. Kids don’t require their divorced mom and dad to be present in order to celebrate events, no one ever died of having a birthday party or grad party on a different day.

    The kids are accepting her and you will have to cope with that. Because the other choice is getting sick about it. Yes it hurts to lose you inlaws. But that is also part of divorce and inevitable for most of us.

    Expecting justice or fairness in this life is mistake number three. Yes the wicked do seem to land on their feet often. . And they even flourish. That is reality.

    You may want to try EMDR if you haven’t already, to stop being triggered. And unfollow his social media, you are stewing too much in his pot. Let.Him.Go.

  • Okay…just cohosted a grad party for our son yesterday. It was for him. I had to eat the shit sandwich. If I didn’t, it would further added to the pain my kids are already feeling. The son that graduated has a relationship with his mother. My older son, doesn’t. The night before the party, my graduating son broke down in tears over the destruction of our family due to his mother’s choices. He is awesome and beautiful and doesn’t sugar coat anything. He’s got firm boundaries around his mother’s AP, and lets everyone in the family know that dude is a “piece of shit”. The POS was not allowed to come to his graduation party, and both sons insist that the POS will never be allowed to anything of theirs. Both sons are also boycotting future family gatherings on that side of the family due to their acceptance of the new “member” of the family. So, they get reality without prompting from me.

    But yesterday…yesterday had to happen the way it did. He’s got close friends he loves dearly in this community, offspring of people that were once friends of mine, but some of whom chose to remain “neutral” over what happened. I dreaded seeing them just like I dreaded seeing my former family. But, by me sucking it up and choosing to love and welcome people, the party came off beautifully, and he was very happy about it.

    While I appreciate Chump Lady and this thread, there is chump shaming that often happens here and I resent the insinuation that chumps like me that do eat shit sandwiches on occasion for he sake of their kids are weak people setting a bad example for their kids. And for anyone that would frown upon or chastise any chump for eating the shit sandwich for the sake of their kids, I’ve got one thing to say–you are sad people.

    I dreaded yesterday…but in the end it was I that showed strength and grace toward everyone including those that betrayed me. I’m proud as hell of myself for pulling it off as I wasn’t sure I could. Yet, in the end, I held my head high and felt like superman. Do I have regrets? Not one. Was it hard? Putting together the slide show of his/our lives was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done given the circumstances. Would I do it again for him? In a heartbeat. With no regrets and no shame.

    • I don’t think it is Chump shaming. People who get burned by cheaters need to heal. Some can and manage co-parenting. Others, like my brother, were blindsided by abandonment and never forgave because of the damage to their children. They can’t handle making nice. They just can’t. When the idea of being around the cheater makes you throw up you have to choose. Grief takes us all differently and you are to be commended for being able to do what you did.

      • Thank you. I realize I’m probably overreacting…something I’m fairly practiced at doing. I’m more at meh than I realize as I don’t really feel all that vulnerable around her and her family. I appreciate your response.

        • TM, it sounds like you made a thoughtful and wise choice regarding your son’s graduation party. To me, that’s very different from eating a shit sandwich. Shit sandwiches make you feel taken advantage of, inauthentic, and sick. When you feel proud of your behavior (and rightfully so), you feel no regrets. That’s called good parenting.

          • Thank you Kathleen. That feels good to hear. My son was really beaming this morning at all the love from yesterday. It was all worth it given how it turned out.

    • Don’t worry about it, sometimes this stuff is gonna happen. But also, you truly don’t have to have this shared event. It may seem like it was necessary, but it wasn’t. It sounds like your sons are leading the way…boycotting stuff, setting boundaries. You can do that too. At a minimum you could have hosted the party yourself then let your son know he’s welcome to invite who he wants, including his mom and her kin. In this way you’re in charge and setting the example of strong autonomy and resiliency.

      There’s no real playbook here, and shaming or feeling shamed is not productive. However, I encourage everyone to challenge there “had to/have to” mentality in these situations.

      For example…sentimental slide shows are not necessary. A simple pic of him going off to kindergarten aside one of him graduating is lovely and timeless and saves you the trauma of photo memory lane. These are real, reasonable choices.

      Best of luck in your future events. I too used to straddle the balance beam you’re on. I’m in the other side now and it’s better for all, including my kid. She’s not confused and neither am I. Her milestones are met with delightful family and friend parties that I throw, and her dad is welcome to do whatever he wants too.

      • Thank you. It was hard putting that slideshow together, but in a way, healing, too. My son wanted it, and because it was about him, I was able to do it. He loved it as did everyone in attendance. He was very sensitive about having his grandparents and family there, and while I agree that I didn’t have to go to the extent that I did, it was at a neutral location, and it worked out. That’s really the last big hurdle for a few years until my D graduates.

    • I propose that strength and grace you showed is less shit sandwich and more Gaining A Life. You put your kid first. You didn’t let your ex and and POS have any centrality on a day that isn’t about them at all. You took the high road. You did the right thing.

      Chumps can share events with their ex’s – or not. I truly haven’t seen any shaming around that.

      I think people propose no contact for Martha because her rage is not in control – she is trying to have a shared event but then causing drama by saying the OW can’t attend. In other words, making the event about her pain and not about celebrating the kid in question. That’s not okay and is damaging to the kids, and separate events would be better until she can do precisely what you did.

      • Good point. My situation is actually easy from the standpoint that shithead and I won’t be at any milestone events that I can think of thanks to my sons. Thank you for your supportive words.

    • TM – you did the right thing.

      There are going to be SOME events you can’t do TWO. Can you imagine telling Harvard, “Harvard, you need to conduct TWO graduation ceremonies so I don’t have to be in same arena as the FW”. TWO weddings! No. Not happening. And even for those events, you can sit separate with your family & friends, away from the FW

      But you can accommodate two birthday celebrations or Christmas gift opening on a different day.

      • My father was not invited to either one of my graduations (high school then college). When my older brother finally finished his undergrad studies, he went alone to the ceremony. My graduate degree was in a foreign country and the school didn’t hold a ceremony back then. My brother got his masters after moving across the country.
        His wedding happened quickly and I went to the ceremony;our mother was deceased. When he phoned me he told me “I’m not inviting Dad and Hell (wife 3.0) and don’t say anything to them. I’ll tell them afterwards”
        We had a good laugh about how our father, a former public relations executive, worded the event in his annual brag sheet. Quoting Bugs Bunny “What a maroon !”
        And he wonders why I cut off all contact and my brother sees him once a year for a few days. Karma 🚌 He tried to hoover via a private investigator. Sad sausage. 🎻 It goes beyond him disagreeing. He refused to see that he did ANYTHING wrong.

  • Dear Martha, I feel for you! I don’t even think three years is a long time! You’re still learning your new normal.
    A couple of ideas- your former so-called husband is not a benefit to you now. Lock him out. I told my X ‘I’m building a wall around my life, to keep you away!’ Resist the urge to peek over the wall, at what they’re doing. Nothing over there that will make you feel good. Tend your own beautiful garden, on your side.
    Also, because you are so sad about his family taking his side, and distancing (which they usually do), I wondered about your family. Maybe they are part of the issue. I have a huge truckload of FOO issues, that only therapy has helped. I’ll probably be going to therapy off and on for my whole life, which is ok. We have to deal with that, and the unfairness of it all. I hope you can find someone to talk with, and it helps.
    Good wishes, and you sound like you’re trying, and getting there! Keep growing that garden, and reading CL.

  • I read this shuttered….No Meh Martha, it’s beyond time to go no contact, set major boundaries and let go! Listen to CL – read everything on here about no contact. I also suggest you stop engaging in any kind of social media spying or discussions with friends about him/her. (Those are obvious triggers for you.) And, I suggest you set major boundaries. If you need help with boundaries, read the book “Boundaries” and “Changes that Heal”, “Boundaries in Dating”, and “Necessary Endings” all by Henry Cloud. He also has a great blogspot and podcasts. As you work through the books discuss the topics that trigger you with your therapist or group counsels. I was stuck, like you and couldn’t find my way constantly getting triggered because I didn’t have good boundaries (most likely another thing from your childhood trauma that you mentioned and it caused you to not set boundaries with people). Once you discover what boundaries look like and how to set them – it’s a game changer! My new motto – Boundaries are beautiful! They help you gain a life! I am now 8 yrs out. At 5 yrs out, I learned about boundaries and it helped me to accept was is/what isn’t, heal, and find my meh. When I did that I took back my power and my life. Now, I am living a much better life than before. I am happier, healthier, have a much better group of friends, make more money, found the love of my life and have a much better co-parent relationship with my ex….(Oh! He also got Karma served to him on a silver plater with the OW). Everything fell into place when I let go, set boundaries, found myself and got my meh. Do the work! It only works if you do it!!!! All the best.

  • Martha, sending you so much love. I was married 25 years. Children caught XH on Christmas with a much younger sugar baby. I went down SA and RIC rabbit holes for 4 months. His mask dropped, he became cold, cruel, even to our kids…. a complete stranger. The pain I felt was excruciating. Our children became suicidal. He tried to destroy me financially while alternating with attempts to reel me in with drama. I found CL. I slowly tried to go low contact. I filed for divorce and battled him for 18 months still hoping I’d wake up from the nightmare and my beloved of 25 years would “return.” I’d see glimmers of his former facade and be hooked again…. but still he stayed with young AP and rejected our kids. I kept trudging (moving with purpose) to build that new life because I had no choice— but a part of me still clung to the old dreams. I met a man who was also going through a divorce from hell after decades of marriage to a mentally ill woman— what a pair we were/are! I made a best friend chump- we have the same name and our kids were born the same week— she’s a thousand miles away but we text and talk every day. We agree we saved each others’ sanity.

    Fast forward 6.5 years. I’m at peace most minutes. XH still sucks. I feel grateful I’m not with him now. I’m engaged to a loyal and loving man. My children are doing better although their father’s rages and increasingly unstable behavior upsets them. They despise AP and refuse to have anything to do with her. I actually pity her— she’s given her entire youth to a cheater (he too was seen trolling on Bumble) and he’s sent me sickening late night texts trying to Hoover from her bed🤮🤮🤮🤮. Cheaters cheat and liars lie!

    I have felt and thought many of the things you wrote. You are not alone. You are not abnormal.

    The past year I’ve had a lot of growth with coaching through Brooke Castillo’s life coach school (free podcasts). Maybe that might also help with these thoughts you expressed.

    Hugs to you!

  • Omg So many comments! I was Trying to get thru them but have to get back to work! Thanks to all and I will Have to read more later.

  • How long were you in regular therapy? Have you thought about returning to discuss your feelings with your original therapist or a new one? Some thing a therapist once told me: anger is a secondary emotion. There is always another emotion under the anger, whether it’s hopelessness, helplessness, sadness…. The anger is a defense. It may be what’s getting you out of bed in the morning, which is productive but it doesn’t feel very good. There’s a lot of stigma around therapy, but really understanding your feelings in the origins of those feelings will help you get out of this rut of loving someone who clearly doesn’t deserve you. Take care of yourself and hang in there.

  • The anger is at herself. I know. I was there.
    I realized I was so angry that I had accepted shitty behaviour. That I had conceded so much of myself to make a marriage work, and it still fell apart.
    Fuck, I was angry at me.
    This required a lot of grief and gentle self compassion. Every day I reminded myself I am a good and worthy person.

    My kids and I became an amazing smaller family. I noticed and celebrated every small change that was better without ex.

    It has been 2.5 since d day for me. I am absolutely meh. I don’t miss ex, except for some of the fun things we did together. After all, we were together 25 years. I am independent and confident and loving life.

    I have not dated and don’t see that in my future. I want to be selfish with the time I have with my teens. I am enough.

    Process the anger. Recognize he cannot fix what he broke. Stop waiting for him to. Acceptance is always step 1.

    You can do it!

    • I hear you, Marge. It’s been hard for me to realize “too late” the extent of the abuse and deception perpetrated by my ex. I think that precisely because chumps do have self respect and strong values, when achieve distance and trust they suck and begin to sort through our own issues, we begin to see ourselves and our exes/dead relationships clearly and we are beyond furious. It’s so unfair and so massive. I am still carrying shame, confusion and anger about my own victimization (at FW, at myself, at others I was betrayed by, at societal norms). It’s actually a bit of a relief to read that others here have been through similar struggles with NC, even after trusting they suck and leaving for good. I’m mortified that I didn’t “get it” sooner, and there were a few months of undignified and futile flailing. Now I’m close enough to Meh for that to be a thing of the past – thank god, because it was rough and I felt out of control and helpless and so frustrated with myself. You’ll get there, Martha!

  • Martha,

    I told my children a long time ago that they should not wait for their mother to admit what she had done or, indeed, wait for her to acknowledge the impact that it had on them, wait for her to apologise or wait for her to make amends. I told them this for the simple reason that their mother is incapable of having this kind of conversation; she always found it much easier to deny, dissemble and gaslight.

    Once they accepted this, they were able to start processing what had happened and start moving on. It took a while for this to happen …. but it happened eventually.

    I would say the same thing to you. Your Ex is just that; your Ex. Accept that is what he is, accept that he won’t do anything that helps you (or likely your kids too) recover and accept that following him on social media is unlikely to be helpful.

    LFTT

    • Well said. Not a parent, myself, but this seems like sound advice for your kids. Glad it helped them.

  • If I knew then what I know now I would have just let the motherf—- go. With confetti flying. Balloons and noisemakers. All I get was anger, hair loss and repeated rejections just trying to make compromises. But he wanted out no matter what I wanted. Going no contact and snapping rubber bands on my wrist whenever I even so much as thought about him (this really works for me when I obsess.). And I cut off his family and I don’t miss any of them. I won’t attend anything he does even now. Not because of her but because I don’t ever want to see his face. He was mean to me at the last fam function and my sons got angry so they stopped forcing that stuff. Yeah, I end up missing milestones but divorce has a price. But here’s the thing. I am so freakin happy now!! Like really! I don’t have that gorilla on my back anymore literally. Martha – just let him go. Enjoy your kids now before they go. Just enjoy now. Go. Be free. Hurry.

  • Martha, it sounds like you’re going through the motions of doing the right things for yourself, but it’s not the real work you need.

    It’s really hard to realize that you won’t get closure, that karma won’t come in an obvious way. It’s also difficult to accept that you have to mourn the loss of many people that you had a relationship with – his family. If there are sides to choose (and there always are in divorce) they will choose him. He didn’t cheat on them, and the reason for your divorce doesn’t matter to them. But when you split assets, he got his family.

    It’s way healthier to block him on all social media. Communicate only about the kids, and preferably through email.

    You both can be better parents to your kids as separate parents. They get 2 birthday celebrations, 2 holidays, etc. If you know their friends that live in divorce situations, you can reach out to them. Support your kids. Model healthy parenting and relationships.

    You have been trying. I think you’re still pining for the life and future you thought you had, that you were entitled to. It’s up to you to write the new future.

  • Martha, I mentioned above I’ve but I’ll leave it here too, I noticed you didn’t mention having a job. I highly recommend, if you don’t, getting a career. Get educated, get working. Making money brings self autonomy and self worth. Having a career you like brings self fulfillment. And all of that leaves very little time to ruminate. Ask me how I know. Between my mid-divorce schooling and starting a new job and parenting and juggling life, I had very little time to perseverate. And now that everything’s calmed down and the worst parts are done and I’ve settled into work, it all seems like so long ago. My harshest feelings have faded. I’m moved on.

    It’s not a perfect solution all of the time, but it is true that sometimes sheer time consuming, hard work will set you free.

    • This is huge.
      Not being able to find work is a real problem for some divorced people.
      It’s not a choice.
      Divorce poverty is real.
      It’s not a luxury problem.

      And it’s not even about a career. It’s about finding a job.
      I don’t know, sometimes it feels that truly there are different universes.
      Insult added to injury. It is a general thing.
      Not meant personally, NotANiceChump.

      • I get it, not everyone’s path is clear, and sometimes there are sizable obstacles toward financial solvency and a meaningful career, or even a basic income-producing job. I don’t mean to undermine that reality. But, in the case where there is a possible pathway toward a career, or a better job, or any job, I encourage chumps to take it. Even go out on a limb and take a risk if needed. Sometimes, two steps back really is five steps forward.

        There’s no one size fits all, but I’ve seen divorced people from all walks of life rise from the ashes professionally and financially. I’ve seen the risks they’ve taken and the work they’ve put in. Years of work. Years of debt. But, there’s a payoff at the end. So, I know it’s possible in many circumstances. Maybe not all circumstances and maybe it’s not clear or linear, but it’s possible. I simply encourage chumps to try to find the possibility and then figure out how to do the work to get there.

  • First, an acknowledgement that this is topic-adjacent, not topical. It’s also long. Mea culpa.

    I have been rolling this around for a long time. I was chumped a long time ago, horribly. I am in a new relationship, a marriage. It has its pros, and it has its cons, and I’m in an observing phase with it. I’m not going to talk about that here, but it is background that is relevant to my thinking process, because my picker wasn’t as fixed as I thought it was when I remarried over ten years ago and that is how I came to these thoughts.

    I’ve come to realize just how much I accepted the worldview that the only way I could be considered attractive — sexy — a good partner — indeed, even worthy of goodness and loyalty from anyone — was if some other person viewed me that way. I’ve spent my entire life (until recently) believing that without even realizing it.

    Person tells me I am frustrating, too something, not enough something else? I must be doing something that I should do differently.

    Person tells me I am good, or smart, or kind, or wise? I should visibly receive the compliment with humble gratitude and feel flattered that someone thinks that way about me.

    Person tells me I’m not attractive or becomes more interested in some other person(s), even just visually? I must not be doing enough to be attractive.

    Person tells me I AM attractive? I should visibly receive the compliment with humble gratitude and feel flattered that someone thinks that way about me.

    Well, why in hell should I let this be my baseline? Why should I ever feel flattered, about anything? I think flattery is flawed and should be discarded completely and replaced with clarity.

    Consider this: There are gabillions of people on this planet. In your lifetime alone, you’ll perhaps meet thousands of them. Each person will have their own unique opinions about different things they observe about you. But unless you are a conjoined twin, only one person will ever spend every minute of every day with you for your entire life, and that person is you.

    So how did we ever buy in to a cockamamie theory that some person who spends less time with us than we do gets to decide anything about who we should be or have their opinions about us held in higher esteem then our own? It makes no sense.

    Of course we can still take the opinions we receive from others as data. People who care about others consider their opinions. We consider what changes we want to make in ourselves based on how that data trends. That is how we negotiate relationships, and learn and grow, and keep becoming people we feel more happy to be over time. This does not mean, though, that we have to accept any of the data as fact without careful review.

    Here’s an example (and a super meta one.) All my life, I have shared my own stories with others in response to their stories. I love it when people do this. It makes me feel like they understand and empathize through similar experience.

    At some point, a person told me that was really just me narcissistically changing the subject to myself. I checked this with some other people, and they agreed. Multiple opinions, in agreement.

    I was devastated. My impact was 180 from my intent. I tried to stop, but I found without that way of relating, I was often lost for words. Then more data came in that I wasn’t very supportive just sitting there saying nothing. Multiple opinions, in agreement.

    I felt like a failure. If “so many people” thought those things, they must be true.

    Enter a lesson in neurodivergence and the way neurodivergents use relational thinking. Bingo, that fits! But since neurodivergence isn’t culturally common, I had work to do, figuring out how to be me, authentically, and also speak in ways other can understand me better.

    So, now I speak in such scenarios, but I say something like, “I feel torn. I feel like I want to tell a similar story to show how I understand, but I don’t want to inappropriately change the subject to myself. I know you are hurting, and I care so much. How can I help you best right now?”

    (Interestingly, many people ASK for the story!)

    Point being, I was already ok the way I was. I was already good, already kind, already focused on helping the person I loved, already worthy of goodness. The core of what I needed to learn was real — that different people need different things, and it is ok to ask what they need before spontaneously giving my go-to form of support. The surface level feedback (data) was incorrect — I was NOT making it all about me, and I WAS fully committed to being supportive.

    The core message I want to express is, you don’t have to give any other person the power to decide your value in any way. You can still be open to their feedback (maybe even more open to it, if you become able to hear it and break it down more easily because you didn’t just accept it as fact) without letting it change your opinion of your worthiness for good — without letting it alter how you show up as you in the world —

    without letting it influence who you choose, or whether you keep choosing them over time.

    (The long walk to that last sentence brings us back to being adjacent to the topic.)

    YOU are valuable because YOU exist.

    YOU are worthy of goodness because YOU care about being good in the world.

    YOU deserve to be treated well, even if you’re still learning and growing like the rest of us, because YOU are committed to being good to this world and the good people in it.

    Don’t let someone else decide that you deserve less than their goodness — especially some abusive asshole.

    • Oh. My. Goodness. This. Is. Me. THANK YOU. Lessons I have Learned during this but never articulated so well or fully figured out how to alter in a better way as opposed to suppressing my authentic self or continuing to speak in ways people didn’t get . I’m very self aware and look for the feedback. But when the feedback isn’t what I had hoped, I have Taken it as fact and been stressed or saddened if I ever Made anyone feel like I was self centered. Then didn’t know how to remedy bc being myself was and always has been the only option. I feel Like I need To frame your response!

      • 💚

        Only took twenty years of therapy. 😄

        Seriously, though, I am very glad to help where I can. It is through the kindness of others I’ve been able to grow where I have. I am happy to pay it forward and I hope I never stop growing (indeed, all of us). 😊💚

    • Seeking validation from others about my own worth is something I’ve done all my life (and I’m in my 60’s now). I love what you wrote. Thank you!

    • Thanks for this reminder. Your post made me think of this video where people rate their own attractiveness.

      https://youtu.be/F3uqiHqoWfk

      It’s a great illustration of how what people think of themselves is all about their mindset. There’s another vid in the same series where 100 people rate one guy, and he gets everything from 2s all the way up to 10s. After watching, I really got much more that it was up to me to decide my own opinion of myself, whether we’re talking attractiveness or “goodness” or worthiness or whatever.

      Not totally there yet, because I still have a habit of “oh, you don’t see my value? let me do all these super extra, over the top things and expect that you’ll suddenly invite me into the club of happier/smarter/cooler-people-than-me.” Thanks for the reminder.

  • Martha – why would you want to be friends or friendly with people who saw your betrayal or pain and then shrugged their shoulders?

    You ARE awesome. You simply need to believe it. And yes, stop looking at his and her social media shit. It doesn’t matter. You know that he is not a good person and he betrayed you. Others may or may not pick up on it eventually. NOT YOUR PROBLEM.

    Work from there.

    • True about first paragraph. Still been hard to swallow and manage when it added to the pain. But I do Keep trying to balance it snd when the one family member did what she did that hurt so much, I tried to talk about it with her snd she said she’d still make the same decision again. So I turned My back to her. She hasn’t shown me the love and kindness she showed initially once she made that decision. But it still
      Hurts.

      • It does and I’m sorry.

        Sometimes we need to find far better people in the world than the ones to whom we are related by biology, habit or legal ties.

  • To Martha & all others who are struggling to get to Meh:

    My advice to anyone in this space: Get Busier.

    Martha – I didn’t see a job listed in your “list of what I’m doing- hobbies, Habitat for Humanity, etc”. My advice: Get a job that keeps you so dang busy, you’re too tired to be thinking of the FW. Even if you don’t need the money, get a job. Even if it’s a job like working at an Amazon warehouse. I’m not talking about being a CEO here.

    You are stuck in your head, and only being very, very busy, will get you out of your head. You say “oh, I don’t want to work for someone else, or I don’t need the money, or I don’t want to be sweeping the floors someplace”, I say to you: ANYTHING is preferable than ruminating on a FW. ANYTHING! I’d rather shovel shit into a fan than spend my days thinking about Dracula.

    I say get a job, because obviously the hobbies and volunteering, etc are not enough to be getting you a life. Getting a job will get you on that path to getting a life.

    Or, if you’re swimming in money, go back to school. Full time. Get a new degree, or something that can translate into a new career.

    But bottom line, you need to get busier. Much, much busier. Not Fake Busy – REALLY busy. Don’t just take a cooking class to show the FW “see, I’m moving on, don’t you miss me?”, get really, all encompassing busy FOR YOU, so you can start this new chapter of your life FOR YOU.

    Once you’re so busy that you’re drop dead tired every day, you will stop ruminating on a FW.

    (And remember, nothing can take the place of a mother. Nothing. You get super busy, get a job, your kids will be proud of you and they’ll flock to you. So what if they like the OW? If she’s younger, she’s going to want kids of her own, your kids will be pushed aside. Get a job/career/go back to school so your kids are proud and flock to your orbit “my badass mom!”

    • I do Work FT. BUT it’s likely that covid putting me wfh for more than a year has taken its toll with me home alone so much instead of with my team at the office, which I really Enjoyed. And I totally Channeled the extra free time onto major creative projects last year. I capped out on major ones, but have found a way for a side business as a result.

      • Absolutely- COVID Wfh has been a crusher for many. Totally get it.

        The side business is awesome! Keep at it, and once you get back to your office, things will get even better.

        Lots of great comments today that can help you.

    • I repeat myself here.
      Not being able to find work is a real problem for some divorced people.
      It’s not a choice.
      Divorce poverty is real.
      It’s not a luxury problem.

      And it’s not even about a career. It’s about finding a job.
      I don’t know, sometimes it feels that truly there are different universes.
      Insult added to injury. Insult to those who cannot find work.
      Once in a very while there is a comment here in line with this one of mine.
      I’ve began to think that certain point of view are under-represented here.

      • I agree. I suspect the pool here skews a bit towards the more financially well off, because people who are impoverished often can’t even afford the internet, much less have the time and energy to post on blogs. The subject of divorce poverty hasn’t really been covered here and a lot of people probably don’t get what it’s like to be that poor. It’s a conversation that needs to happen.

        • OHFFS,
          Thanks for replying. I have been wondering for a while now whether the pool here was skewing a bit towards the more financially well off.
          How can such a fundamental item such as divorce poverty be left out of the conversation.
          It seems that, as is customary, ideas, visibility, publishing, etc., which ultimately translate in influence and policies, are the province of those who are better off and/or have access, and ending up speaking on behalf of others as well, who have no access or are not represented in the conversation.
          The result is that certain items such as divorce poverty end up not existing. But that does not at all reflect reality.
          For it to be a conversation that can be taken seriously divorce poverty needs to become part of the conversation.

          • Jean, you’re totally correct. My own mother was a victim of divorce poverty. It’s totally real.

            It’s why when I mentor women who are 22 or 24 or 26 years old, I counsel them to not quit when they have kids. It leaves them very vulnerable. Before I became a single mom, my friends & acquaintances that were single moms ALL became single moms due to their husband’s dying. Accidents, cancers, etc. NONE of these husbands were over the age of 40. And it left ALL of these women vulnerable who stopped working at 22 years old.

            My comments were made in the guise of staying busy. Not necessarily making money, or lots of it (although that certainly helps).

            Age discrimination is a real thing. But I’m seeing many places that are desperate for help. Who are finally reforming their hiring practices to finally recognize the value that older workers bring.

            • PBS News Hour did a long piece about how difficult it is for a woman who gets laid off at age 50 to get another job. I have wondered if this isn’t just because the corporate culture views older workers as more expensive and techno-phobic, but because, unconsciously, a lot of bosses (who are older men) believe that women in their 50s and older need to be giving unpaid care to aging parents & in-laws. In the U.S., so many people think women are morally obligated to care for children, homes, romantic partners, in-laws, and parents with zero compensation. A former boss of mine sang the praises of his now-ex-wife because, after she was laid off at 55, she gave up looking for work after 3 years and cared for her mother-in-law. Now that they are divorced, she is still caring for his mother.

              I tell all women in their 20s to make their own money and save for their own retirement. You should hear how many doctors talk about elderly women who have given up years to care for children and parents when the caretaking women end up punted back and forth between hospitals and retirement homes. They talk about these women – who have done untold hours of free labor – as if they are hysterical burdens instead of human beings who did so much work for no pay.

              • Some statisticians tallied the market value of women’s free labor. Around $100,000 per year ? I can’t remember. Seems pretty low to me.
                Child care and maybe elder care. Cooking, cleaning, laundry services, bookkeeping, yard work if applicable, chauffeuring, and listening.

              • Man, this is such a complicated issue. I’m so glad you brought it up! Women get screwed coming and going! As a woman of a certain age who reinvented herself in a new career, mid-life, I can say that you have to shine like a goddamn super star to be picked over a younger counterpart, which is where having new and improved educational credentials comes in handy. But Chris W hit the nail on the head…the conversation is changing a little and life experience is being more valued. Leading with that, in a productive way, can win you points. But, the struggle is real. It’s a struggle worth fighting, but it’s real af.

            • Certain work is valued = paid.
              Other work is not valued = not paid.
              Elderly care, care for children with special needs, and the like, house-work, is 0 valued.
              Why aren’t there pension schemes for such type of work within a family?
              Why is work in an office valued more than work at home?
              Why is a person -male or female- not compensated for the work done in the family by way of adequate compensation at divorce?
              Why is there no adequate recognition and compensation for the emotional/relationship work done in the family, at divorce?
              Only work truly recognized=paid is that not in the family/house.
              Why is there not compensation for damages in divorce for infidelity/adultery?

              There is insult -as in “empower yourself and get a job”, yes that elderly person, forget about them, get a job in the real world, out there. You unsophisticated being. You don’t get it. The real jobs are those in the real workforce. Those you start in your 20’s and that have a retirement plan.
              You see. That’s how it’s done.
              Oh the condescension, oh the patronizing, ensconced behind the “empower yourself”.
              And also the attitude that everything is men’s fault. Is it not women mentality, what I have described above?

              • I realized after typing the above that there is condescension for work done at home, in the family. As long as there is that type of work (not valued, unpaid), whoever does work other than that that can feel superior. Might be a reason why there has been no movement/attention to make that work valuable, and I must say, by women particularly (feminists, for example). It feels good to have somebody beneath you.

        • Being more aware is always good.

          But honestly I think a lot of folks understand that. I have been very very poor in my life time, first as a young child, until my dads success took off. Then as a young married, and up to about ten years in, I did house cleaning and took in ironing. (telling my age). So I think a lot of us know what being poor is.

          I also was a minimum wage job away from being poverty stricken when I divorced. But, one thing we all have in common is we have to start from where we are.

          Folks are just throwing out ideas on what helped them, I don’t think they are saying one must do this or that, just things to try.

          I do agree that divorce poverty is way too prevalent, and it is one reason I would like to see the courts take the situation of the betrayed into account. Women are hurt more by this than men as far as I can see. I know it is not absolute of course, but simply because of women usually being the primary child care person.

          In my step sons case, he would be opposite because she is the breadwinner, and he is the primary child care person. So yes it does exist in reverse.

          • 👏🏻👏🏻 One of Tracy’s post cited BILLIONS of unpaid child support and alimony in this country.

            One of my neighbors is a single mother in her forties with three kids. She was divorced and her ex was killed (shot in the back after the robbery). Talk about misfortune. Lucky for her, her father owns the house she lives in and just paid for a big renovation. Most people don’t have a big cushion to fall back on like that.
            Another woman I know (with a law degree !) escaped an abusive marriage and was living in her car for a bit. She was rescued by a “knight in shining armor”, his third marriage and she now poses on Fakebook wearing Carolina Herrera dresses and Manolo Blahnik shoes. As I type this, I think she may have been an other woman. She looks very tired and too skinny…She jokingly called her husband a man baby.
            My mother got the house with 12 more years of mortgage payments and just two years of alimony. I’m sure her inheritance factored into the divorce agreement. She rented out a couple of the bedrooms. A doctor who fled Poland and was working on obtaining his medical license to practice in the US. Some engineers who were working on projects at Bell Laboratories. As a teenager in a solid middle class community, I was slightly mortified by this.
            M. who stayed with her cheater Howard the Whoremonger ,until his death from pancreatic cancer, grew up in a working class ‘hood outside of Boston. Next to Mattapan nicknamed Murderpan. Her grandmother owned a duplex and after M’s mother’s death from cancer, her father abandoned her and her younger brother. Her aunt and uncle looked after them, in addition to their own daughter. It was mostly a Jewish neighborhood and then the demographics shifted. Blacks attacked the Jews and her “parents” were assaulted, tied up and their house was ransacked. They were the last family to move after visiting the cemetery. M. married very young and had no job skills. Her husband was very successful and she grew accustomed to Lifestyle of the 1%. No going back to where she came from. She looked down at my mother’s work as a secretary. But she’s now in her nineties suffering from dementia and none of her three children are married. The daughter adopted a boy after a failed green card marriage-they had to pay him to get away from their daughter.
            We all have our challenges and if we’re lucky we have a blessing or two.

        • Agreed that the conversation needs to happen. Divorce makes people broke, and that leaves certain individuals and groups of people very disenfranchised. But divorce poverty cannot be the sole answer to the questions of “why haven’t you bettered your life/career/job/etc.” For, what’s the alternative? Stay broke and in poverty in perpetuity? That can’t be right. For those who literally cannot work as a result of disability, that might be the unfortunate reality, for sure. But the rest of us, well, we have at least some options.

          I’m quite certain there are many of us on the site who walked away from our divorces broke, then went into considerable and scary debt to work toward a better career, and are now juggling that debt but also enjoying a newfound lease on our careers and earning capacity because of that debt. It sucks to be this far behind the curve in the middle of your life, but it is what it is. And it beats the alternative.

          And for the sake of this discussion, it’s useful to note that federal student loans (in American anyways) are available to lots of different types of people, especially people who are broke, at all age points. They can come with disturbingly high interest rates (hence the debt I speak of above), but they exist, and vary in size and scope depending on the line of education you are pursuing. They are part of the possibilities out there.

  • Martha,

    Imagine the conversation between your X and his GF after you unleash a text rant on him. Is your X turning to the GF and saying, “I did such a terrible thing to cheat on Martha with you?” Of course not. He’s making “whacko XW” statements.

    1. If your kids are over 18, delete your X’s phone number. Just delete it. If you have minor children, Put DO NOT CALL, TEXT OR PICK UP as his “name” in your phone. DO NOT CALL OR TEXT, ever.
    2. Any necessary contact can be done by email. I’ve been divorced. There is almost no reason for any contact. And if you MUST email, make it a rule to have some other person read what you intend to send before you actually send that email.
    3. Work on MENTAL NO CONTACT. By that, I mean that if your mind wanders to all the hurt and injustice, you remind yourself: “This is an old way of thinking and I am going to let it go. These thoughts do not help me.” Mental no contact means that you have accepted that you must stop allowing him to occupy your thoughts. One thing that helped me was visualizing every night cutting the cord of connection between Jackass and me. Every night for a long time, I said, “I am cutting this cord for the rest of my life.” And eventually, the rest of me was on board.
    4. If you are still sending angry texts 3.5 years out, your former therapist dropped the ball. Maybe it’s time to do therapy with someone who understands trauma and can help you see how the FOO issues you have feed in to your difficulties letting go.
    5. By all means block XH, the GF, and any flying monkey supporters from his family and friends list from your social media. You don’t want to look at his and you don’t want them looking at yours. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. Just BLOCK. Don’t bother to “unfriend.” You want them BLOCKED and that will block YOU from looking at their lives.

    You can’t move on if you are looking back all the time. You’ve gotten involved in lots of activities, and that’s good. But what are your GOALS? What kind of life do you want? Who is Martha now and who do you want her to be in 5 years?

    It needs to be unthinkable for you to contact him and unpleasant if your mind wanders his way. Time to let it go.

  • There’s a theme running through here about how the chump is dreading the marriage of the fuckwit to his/her AP. Like this is the ultimate insult in a series of horrible insults. But the truth is that marriage is literally a piece of paper. It offers no guarantees. What is does offer is a modicum of legal protection. That’s IT. I don’t care if people have had civil or religious ceremonies, none of those vows stopped the fuckwits from fucking others, now did it? As CL says so often, it’s all down to character. I think what fuels this disconnect is that chumps think that the AP is getting the marriage that the chump feels they had or they deserved. That NOW their cheater has had a character transplant, NOW their cheater is going to be the person they pick-me-danced for until they nearly dropped dead from exhaustion. Where’s the karma?

    The thing about karma: it’s not magical or some god exacting justice. It’s that disordered, selfish people bring misery on themselves because they are incapable of decent, honest relationships at home and at work. Eventually that catches up with them. People become wise to their antics, their selfishness, and as they age, they are unable to hide it as easily. There seems to be an awful lot of chumps who reach the 20+-year mark in their marriages when things start to fall apart. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so. The need for cake only increases as they age, and the reality that their youth is slipping away confronts them in the mirror every morning. And that partner whose invested all those years? Well, they are now serving gluten free cake that’s stale with no frosting. It’s old cake. I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, that you meant the vows that you made on your wedding day. For fuckwits chasing cake, they probably meant it too. On that day. Then the “baker” down the road or at work is making chocolate cake with sprinkles on top, and on that day, THAT cake tastes good too. It’s all about cake shopping, not vows. Stop supplying fuckwits with cake because their appetites are boundless.

    The real issue is, IMO, that there isn’t just hopium about the cheater. There’s a whole lot of hopium about the inlaws, the Swizerland friends. There’s LOTS of hopium to spread around. None of these relationships were real. As VH says, they were a mirage. I think that mirage is very powerful because the chump is/was acting in good faith and shouldn’t that faith be rewarded with a similar level of commitment and love? You’d think. In a perfect world it would. Sadly, fuckwits don’t care. Stop looking at the mirage of the hand holding and look at who he/she is holding hands WITH. A cheater and a liar. Mirages can be very pretty, reality not so much. The beautiful mirage versus stark reality is why meh is such a difficult place to find.

    • My ex doesn’t know that I know the OW has threatened to break up with him more than once. Once I exited their triangle with me – the bad guy standing in the way of true love-they didn’t have me to blame for their problems. And once I checked out of their stuff I was so much happier and lighthearted. I still hate him. But it’s more like how I hate liver, too.

      • Yes, exiting from the triangle is usually the kiss of death for cheaters. No more sneaking around, no more spouse to try and break up their true love…what’s left? Reality. Day to day normal life and that really sucks for these defects.

    • Agreed, Lulu. In my case, Dracula *did* marry the AP. He had to, to lockup her pension & her house FOR HIMSELF. Totally agree with Lulu here – marriage is just a piece of paper, but in my case, Dracula ran up $70,000 in credit card debt that his Schmoopie (now wife) is now responsible for (due to that piece of paper).

      The stories my boys tell me of their father’s new “marriage” are shuddering. Chaos at a higher level than what he managed with me. NO. THANK. YOU! I think they vibrate at a higher chaos frequency the older these Freaks get. The Schmoopie is 57, but could pass for 75, she looks horrible being married to Dracula. Bags so large under her eyes they could serve as bookshelves.

      They are getting their karma. They just don’t advertise that on social media, or tell you about it. Their entire existence is Impression Management. This is no different

    • >>I think what fuels this disconnect is that chumps think that the AP is getting the marriage that the chump feels they had or they deserved.

      Oh good lord. Marriage to a FW is the worst thing that could happen to any sane person. It’s not a white picket fence rom com, it’s a horror movie. The AP took your spot in a horror movie. The FW never loved, and was only there to use. Sometimes it takes awhile to recover from a horror movie outrage to justice.

  • It sounds like what you’re doing wrong is feeling like this fuckwit was worth fighting for. The truth is he’s not — and he NEVER WAS. The person you loved never existed. He always had this fuckwit inside.

    Maybe it’s different for me because my ex was cheating from day one and I never knew. So when I found out, I discovered my entire life had been a lie. The love I thought I had never existed. That’s a real shit sandwich to eat, but once you swallow it, it becomes very easy to walk away and build a new life.

    There is NOTHING in your old life that’s worth getting back, Martha. You are so much better than a cheater and his side piece. You are a badass who builds Habitat houses and travels solo. He is not a prize, and he never was.

    Maybe think of it like he died? Maybe the person you loved did exist 20 years ago. But he died. He was swapped by the fairies. This fuckwit took his place, and this guy is not worth a single instant of your time.

  • I, too, still get angry at the fact that my ex goes on as he’s always gone on. The unfairness sometimes overwhelms me.

    So I try not to think about him or the unfairness. I’m lucky that our son was an adult at the time I moved out, so I could go no contact. That is key.

    When I do find myself thinking about it, I tell myself that he’s in the past, and the life I had then is not my life any more, and I turn my attention to the life I do have, and how I can make it the best life I can make it.

    I have learned some tricks to redirect my thoughts: exercise, music, reading, cooking, a walk in nature, box breathing–something that requires my full attention. I have discovered some activities don’t require my full attention, which allows for rumination over the wrongs, and are to be avoided.

  • If someone helped me escape from Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Epstein, or Bernie Madoff, I would definitely not continue to feel envy or resentment or jealousy of anyone still in their orbit.

    I was victimized and duped. Affair accomplices are joint principals and perpetrators and volunteers. I don’t want what they have. I wanted what I thought I had. And neither of them has that or is even capable of it. I don’t want to be in a relationship with anyone I wouldn’t want relationship advice from.

    Only a fool cheats or gets involved with a cheater and expects to be treated differently. There is no bigger red flag manufactured by the Red Flag Factory.

    Wonderful people don’t screw around with married/committed people, and wonderful married/committed people don’t screw around.

    It really is about a need to recalibrate my perspective until it sinks in.

    I’m getting the last laugh as we speak and boy, does it feel good.

    • Yes! One of the few useful nuggets my couples/individual counselor (yikes! I know) imparted: In some horrible “fight,” FW screamed at me, “At least I’m not a rapist! At least I’m not a murderer!” Counselor told me that if he repeated it again, I should say that it might actually be easier on me if he was. Then I wouldn’t blame myself for his disorder and I wouldn’t want him back or wonder what to do; I would get as far away as possible and be thankful I’d escaped.

      Her logic was good, although telling FW – when of course he did again use those lines! – was dumb and resulted in more blame-shifting, shaming wrath.

  • No Meh, I agree with CL’s advice, but I don’t think the cause of your anger is missing the fuckwit or hopium. I think you are stuck because what was done to you is incredibly unjust. The injustice of it is what angered me most, too.
    Not only did this asshole cheat on you, emotionally abuse you and abandon you, but his family abandoned you as well. Even your own son blamed you. Then the fuckwit refused to celebrate kid milestones without schmoopie. The kids even like the woman who helped to ruin your life. The unfairness of all that is staggering and it’s brutally hard to get over it. It requires you to accept that there’s nothing you can do to get justice. You think you are getting a measure of it by reminding him of what a shit he is, but since he’s self-deluded and doesn’t agree that he’s a shit, it’s a waste of time. Remember that justice isn’t always about punishment, it can take the form of you forgetting about fuckwit and his whore and getting on with your life. You’ve done the right things, but it sounds like you did them hoping to get to meh. If you obsess on getting to meh, I’m pretty sure you won’t get there. Instead, concentrate on building up your self worth that’s been beaten down by the fuckwit’s abuse.

    As CL says, stay off the gruesome twosome’s social media. Don’t send him text rants. There is no such thing as karma, but fuckwits are like their own karma. It sucks being a cowardly liar and having to hide the truth about yourself behind a thick wall of denial. Being genuine, honest and decent is the only path to personal fulfillment, because though others may not see your worth, you do. You don’t need to hide from reality and seek validation through others as he and his whore do. Get to the place where you are your own source of validation. Accept that an injustice was done, but you will rise above it. Fuckwit and ho may have lasted, but don’t think for a minute that it proves they are happy. People like this don’t have what it takes to be genuinely happy, so they use pleasure as a substitute. You, otoh, have what it takes. You just have to make a few attitude adjustments.

    • Yes!! You’re right – I do Not miss him, have had enough space to see I couldn’t be myself for a long time.. I was Made to feel like that was not a good thing for years and didn’t even realize it until after he was gone. I’m not hoping for him back whatsoever…but guess I do Hope he realizes he screwed up. And I definitely Hope for justice. And perhaps you’re right in that is what is causing me to be stuck.

      I didn’t do any of those things I listed to get to meh. I did Them bc it’s what I felt Was right or needed at each intersection i came to. When I would get super down, I would look for volunteer opportunities to help people who were in way worse shape than me. To shift my focus from myself to them. I definitely Did them all for the right reasons. I only Mentioned all that to add to the info on how I approached Self care as well as what felt like it would help. But still struggling with getting to the place Where I dont Care all this time later.

      Great point about pleasure though be genuinely happy.

      • Thanks for clarifying. So yeah, you are doing the right things for the right reasons. Maybe you just need more time. The longer the relationship, the longer it takes to recover. I have heard it’s at least 10% of the length of the relationship, but that varies with the individual. My relationship was 30 years, so I can expect at least 3 years for recovery. I have also heard that in many cases the recovery clock doesn’t start until you go either no contact, or if not possible, low contact and grey rock. So perhaps you need to do that.

    • “If you obsess on getting to meh, I’m pretty sure you won’t get there. Instead, concentrate on building up your self worth that’s been beaten down by the fuckwit’s abuse.”

      That right there is gold.

      I do think too much emphasis is sometimes put on meh, same as forgiveness. Don’t worry about it or forgiveness. Work on your life and fill you life with as many good folks and experiences as you can. Let all that take care of itself.

      I knew the day I quit imagining my ex floating face down on the Ohio river as the day I forgave him. I never worried about it going beyond that. That was good enough.

    • “The unfairness of all that is staggering and it’s brutally hard to get over it. It requires you to accept that there’s nothing you can do to get justice.”

      Poet Nikki Giovanni says that there is no real justice. A person cannot be unraped. There are some crimes that cannot be undone, and IMO cheating is one. So what do we do? I have no idea. But I have accepted that I won’t get anywhere trying to hold a fuckwit responsible for all the ways he has harmed me. He will never give back what he stole. Even if he magically became a good and accountable person, he couldn’t make everything right.

      I love how Giovanni expresses the nuances of injustice, grief, solidarity and healing in her poem, “We Are Virginia Tech”: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=O-Qx9dIr-68

      This poem has helped me. Giovanni does not minimize suffering while pointing to its universality. Sometimes I am embarrassed that I have been so destroyed by a relationship. My PTSD-like responses and the desire to end my life (not anymore) were beyond my control and excruciating, but they make me feel dramatic, ungrateful, privileged and weak when I compare my situation to the far worse plights of others. It’s hard to maintain perspective and also take my experiences seriously and have compassion for myself.

  • “Drag queens, pre-Raphaelites, jazz musicians — all were rejected by the Academy and made worlds far, far cooler than the appointed arbiters of taste.”

    Hell yeah they did! Happy Pride Month from your local queer, victorian goth lover of 1920s jazz scene culture.<3

  • Hi Martha,

    I think you and I have got a lot in common. I was with her for 18 years (see the post ‘UBT: We are so complex’ on June 1) and I am nowhere near meh. I think about her every day, sometimes 10, 20 times a day. All anger, all misery, but I’m yet to find a way to exorcise her from my soul. The betrayal eats away at my soul.

    I can’t offer you any advice. All I can do is tell you that I know exactly where you’re coming from. It’s not easy at all other people’s words end up falling on stony ground.

    I can’t help you but I’m with you all the way and sending you a virtual hug. x

  • The anger stage is the final step to freedom, also very dangerous. Whenever we compare our insides to someone else’s outsides we LOSE. You;re neighbors might seem like the coolest best family and couple you’ve ever seen. You have no idea that he’s beating his wife and a drunken mess until you read it in the paper. So stop doing that. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE has problems. Last I checked St. Michael didn’t give me a flaming sword to mete out justice. You’re job is you and the people you care about. GREY ROCK, NO CONTACT. This will be you’re salvation. I told all my friends ” I don’t wanna hear about the X EVER, unless it involves my children’s abuse or something that could hurt them and be prosecuted under the law. I know the damage they do to us far to well. You can fix it, but you have to sever them from you’re life. What? 3.7 Billion people on this planet and you’re the only unloveable one? PLEASE. I know it’s hard. I spent a week curled up in a ball in the corner every night after work. If I can do it, you can!! The only way this works is to listen to Tracy and all of us and trust that they suck. It’s the most inhumane and unimaginable thing for us chumps to not care, but in these cases. You have to.

  • Include me in the “not over it yet” club.

    Together 30 years, DD 3 years ago, I moved out 2 years ago, divorce final in January 2021. I am no contact and newly retired. No children.

    I think the pandemic has added to the surrealness. Before covid, I still had hope he would come to his senses. Now that things are opening up, I’m flooded with memories and so many triggers. I’ve done the therapy and journaling and mindfulness and volunteering. I have been “faking it until I make it” and I am so tired.

    I am unlikely to find someone new and will need to do a major mental shift to believe I am enough, by myself. But I know that’s the next step.

    • I think I’m in a similar place, mentally. It is exhausting and overwhelming. We were so focused on surviving: during years of abuse and covert cheating; then after DDay, trying to “save” our lives and relationships; and then trying to get out; and then scrambling to get back on our feet. Now that I’m no contact and settling into the routines and realities of my new existence, I finally have some room to breathe. Which means I have to sit quietly with everything. It is surreal, more so thanks to the isolation and disruptions and uncertainty of the pandemic. Gradual improvements and in a much different, and better, place than I was even six months ago. More focused on myself, less on FW and his entitled gallivanting, every day. So it’s discouraging that I’m still not excited about my future and still doing the above-described “faking it” while continuing to feel detached, sad and anxious. I do want a true partner and haven’t yet grasped how I’m supposed to extinguish this desire without numbing myself. I’m tired, too. I wonder if the dampening dread and resignation will ever go away? There was a lot about my life that I valued and worked toward and have lost that I really miss, and I can’t even imagine how I’ll start to feel alive and hopeful again.

      • It makes me so sad to think of us chumps sitting around feeling like shit because of cheaters. I hate it and it makes me angry. I’m slowly, slowly getting to meh but I have anger and sadness every day as well. Like you, I miss my life, but it was definitely an illusion and slowly I’m beginning to see and accept that my husband didn’t love me and didn’t want me. I do know one thing – I DO NOT want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me. I’ve certainly woken up from the illusions that I held about my marriage. I’m brutally angry though at the fact that my husband just kept me around as plan B for 25 years while he was fucking strange and getting his “needs” met. I will never understand how someone who, until the very last discard, said he adored me. It’s a miserable place to be, but my therapist at women’s refuge keeps this mantra going for me: It’s understandable to feel this way. And, This is Warrior’s Work, meaning it takes guts to keep going after all the abuse but we need to stay mighty and love ourselves through it. We are not Plan B, Optional people – we were spouses who deserved respect and didn’t get it but we are not broken! I’d still rather be the lonely me than a cheating POS. Are you with me?

        • ‘I will never understand how someone who, until the very last discard, said he adored me. I”

          That is horrible to come to terms with. Just before the years of discard, in the summer he wanted to go to his 20th year reunion. I said I would go, but thought it odd as it wasn’t something he would ordinarily be interested in.

          Anyway he said he is so proud of us and what we have built, something happened where we didn’t go, can’t remember now; but I remember thinking after the fact, how could we go from “I am so proud of us” to I never loved you and we are done, in less than a year.

        • Completely with you, and I’ve not once regretted leaving. Even the times when I can’t fathom waking up and facing another day.

          Now, I’ve even shifted away from thinking I’m not with my ex because I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me. I mean, of course I don’t. But that mentality left the ball in his court because I was wondering, does he or doesn’t he want me? He kept me guessing with the insane games, and my response to the devaluation was to pick me dance when I should have been evaluating him and what I actually did want. “Push/pull,” as my insidious and idiotic couples counselor liked to call the game. That’s just a euphemism for abuse.

          I just feel repulsed when I think about the cowardly, entitled, phony, shallow, disloyal, immature, irresponsible, obnoxious, disgusting, cruel, perverted liar I spent so many years with. It doesn’t matter if he wants me or doesn’t want me. I definitely don’t want him, or anyone like him. I know he doesn’t even know me or appreciate me. Whatever he says and thinks, to me or anyone, is just manipulative, abusive BS. Word salad, rage or charm that I see right through. I put no stock in it, and I’ve stopped communicating with anyone who still respects or engages with him.

          FKA, from what I remember, you can’t go completely NC. I hope the advice of CL and other wise chumps here has given you practical ideas for how you can go as gray rock as possible, as soon as possible. Don’t let that POS determine your worth. Cutting contact really has been key for me. Fuck. That. Shit. Thanks for your compassionate words, as always.

  • Martha-

    I am an old time chump. I rarely read the blog anymore but every now and then I will contribute when I see a story that moves me. Without all the gory details, I was married for 24 years when I discovered the ex’s cheating. I bought into all the lies of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex and tried to repair our marriage…pretty much by myself….for three years. Epic fail so we finally filed for divorce. It was final in the beginning of 2014. 7 years and one pandemic later and I am nothing but grateful that I didn’t have to endure the horror of the last 1.5 years with a FW! I am fully vaccinated and 95% immune to COVID and 100% immune to the ex. I reached meh a few years ago and here is a list of what helped me the most:

    1). No contact, at all. Blocked from social media (to include Linkedin), blocked from phone, texts and relegated to junk mail for all emails save for one. I still live in the same state but have not seen or heard from him since mid 2014.

    2) Embracing what I have control over-me and my actions and reactions, and letting go of what I don’t have control of-pretty much every thing else.

    3) He did wind up marrying the OW about 1.5 years after our divorce-or maybe sooner. I found out hilariously by accident. When I did hear of the blessed nuptials, I asked myself “how does this affect my life today.” It didn’t then and still doesn’t now. He is a little thing I like to call “not my problem anymore”

    4) For a hot minute I thought I could convince him that he made a mistake. It was the one and only time I broke no contact. It was about 4 months after we went to court so our divorce had just become final. I visited a place that brought up a lot of nostalgia and so I reached out to him, hoping for him to feel equally as nostalgic. Maybe even enough so I might get an acknowledgement or an apology. I didn’t. He was always showing me who he was. After that brief exchange I decided to believe him.

    5) Fortunately I never put a lot of stock in the whole Karma thing or waiting for someone to get “theirs.” The world is full of people who are awful and if they experience Karma, it’s never for an expecting audience. My ex may or may not experience karma but fuck if I care. That’s his problem or not. No matter what it’s not mine.

    I got rid of a fuck wit so in the end, I win! So do you. Anger is useful in the beginning, especially if it helps you get away from a FW. Being angry after divorce because you don’t believe he’s gotten the appropriate pay back is a major waste of your time and it’s definitely keeping you stuck. You have no control over him now; you had no control over him then. It’s time to realize that he has moved on so it’s time for you to do the same.

    Just my two cents.

    • THank you and good points. I do try to tell myself a watched pot never boils when I think about the karma bus.

      I can’t go no contact b/c of teen kids and several major events in their lives happening now, last year, and still coming up. Also some issues to deal with for them too, that’ll be ongoing for a while.

      • It doesn’t happen overnight, but after the divorce is final you can absolutely minimise to zero or almost zero all your contact with your ex. Chumps are often the event and social life managers of the family. Its a habit you can break – I made myself step back from managing things so much. I was trained to jump every time he said so – I had to break that habit.

        You actually can go no contact relatively easily when your kids are teens. Teenagers are great, they can organise most things themselves. It made such a difference, it gave the kids a sense of agency and independence to actively take part in the decision making and planning of their events. As long as you have clear boundaries that they know, I found they are fine working with that.

        Big birthdays – have your own party for them and leave their dad to have his own. Two parties, what’s not to like for a teenager?

        Christmas – I have casual arrangement that has fallen into a sort of pattern of breakfast and/or late lunch. They can come whenever they like, to fit in with how they want to arrange their day. Everyone brings food – and gifts! – and its lovely family time. But I am committed to remaining flexible as their needs change. One day their dad may want to actually celebrate Christmas, so it will be up to the kids to decide what they want to do about that.

        Graduations – you can be there without having to talk to their father, and you can tell the kids you won’t be in family photos with their dad, but would love to have photos with your children to reflect your new family unit. My daughter’s uni graduation went off fine like this.

        My youngest son didn’t even invite his dad to his high school graduation. Me and the siblings were all there cheering him on as he played a jazz sax solo and stepped up to receive two prizes, and we had a fabulous night.

        If you have custody arrangements, use parenting software. It really does take away the need for direct contact in all but the rarest cases. I had to train myself to not respond to my ex’s texts and emails – I realised that most of them didn’t really need an answer.

        I found it is a change in mind-set away from being the ‘doer’ of everything – and for your kids to start seeing you as a person whose feelings should be considered and who has a right to say no to things like pretend family photos and interaction with an ex. And it is really nice to be a guest sometimes and not always the host!

      • Well, you can go No Contact even with teen kids. I have been no contact with my first ex husband for over 10 yrs. My kids dealt with him. Graduation parties— still no contact the kids either did separate parties or handled the details of the joint party.

        You can do no contact but chose not too for the kids. That’s ok too. If that makes their life easier good for you. But if it makes their life easier to do things separately it’s time to let that happen.

    • Mr. or Mrs. Not My Problem Anymore 🤣
      And that goes for any dreadful in-laws too.
      Raise your hand ✋ if you’re thrilled to not have to deal with a cranky, bitchy mother-in-law who shaped their disordered personality
      .

      • Two hands up here! I now understand why ex’s brother and sister live as far away from their mother as possible without actually leaving the country.

      • Two hands up here, too! While I was taking care of my childish, lazy, entitled MIL after surgeries, moving her into and out of apartments, maintaining her house and property, caring for her pets, organizing holidays and gatherings, etc… my ex was complaining about everything, off pretending to be a man “in the woods” while fucking young interns, off making money while I put my own career and needs on hold to hold down the fort, off traveling and doing what he “needed” to do to take care of himself.

        I do not miss FW and I do not miss his mother. Not only did she shape him into who he is, she stole nearly as much from me as he did over the years. And she was just such a pain! What a miserable human, and I put up with FE alternately screaming at/about her, then defending her and attacking me when I tried to have boundaries or problem solve, or even support him. What a sick relationship those two had, and I was stuck in the middle.

        I still get the occasional “Thinking of you :)”
        text from her. I don’t respond. I AM at Meh with her, at least. That family is going to have a rude awakening when she can no longer take care of herself, and I’m thankful I won’t be there to bear the burden.

    • My ex called me a couple months after our divorce was final and told me he and whore where going to Las Vegas and getting married. I said why are you telling me this. I was really curious as to why he would call me, he had not spoken to me for months, except for one call he left on my recorder a couple months before our D was final. He had called to ask if we could meet and talk about trying again. I called him back and said no we can’t, it is done.

      Anyway he told me he called me because he didn’t want me to heart it from someone else. I said something like ok, good bye. It was weird. I mean by then, I was working a lot, going to school and had started dating great guy who became my husband a few years down the line. So it seemed kind of weird that he would do that.

      What he likely didn’t know was the only fear I had at the time he left was that somehow he would get out of marrying the whore. This was years pre CL, but I still knew then that his biggest punishment would be to marry the whore. But by the time he called, I honestly don’t remember me caring much one way or the other.

      I have no doubt I was right. I also felt kind of guilty about that. At the time I wondered if he would have had a chance to straighten himself up at least for my sons benefit, but I now realize he never would have. He was going to do what he was going to do and me, my son or the whore was not going to stop that. His diversions got bigger and bigger until he was in financial ruin.

      But, after a while it didn’t matter. I mean I knew some stupid things he was doing because of my son/daughter in law, but I rarely ever thought of him as I went on with life, until he caused hell in my sons life. (just before Covid kicked in ) Then mama bear got enraged. That was when I found CL as I was researching narcissist’s.

      Son and his family are fine, and they managed the situation.

  • All – I have been trying to read and respond to as many comments as i can!! I’m touched at how many want to help. It was killing my workday trying today and I got on tonight…but…it’s gotten late and I know i still have a ton to get through!! Might take me a bit but i really appreciate the help and am definitely taking this all in and using it for sure. some of what had to be cut from my original letter (yup, it was even longer), was mentioning that maybe my story would bring ideas that would help others in a similar boat, and i see I’m not the only one. Community and understanding certainly helps us all…

    • I just want you to know that I totally get your feelings. I am probably one of the only ones who thinks this article is kind of shitty and mean in tone in a unnecessary way. I think people should be more compassionate and nicer when dealing with other people’s pain. “Tough Love” and brutal directness often sucks. I can’t tell you how much it hurt when people would callously say “Why do you care when he didn’t love you! Move on! He didn’t want you!” It would really stab me and it wasn’t really true.

      When they’re long past their pain they very much forget what it’s like to be in the moment and they forget that they went through the process you’re in now, while expecting you to magically jump to the end. I find this whole thing about “stop thinking about him!” so callous and almost sociopathic. And it’s not like you can say oh okay let me turn off those feelings and thoughts right now because they’re invalid! And if they were able to move past things and move on so easily with very little feelings, hooray for them. Not everyone can do that.
      Screw this article for that.
      As someone who was where you are and is still somewhat there but coming out of it, I want you to know this instead:
      You’re not stuck. You’re in pain still and that’s okay. Anger is part of grieving and a reaction to that pain.

      The 7 stages of grief
      Shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings.
      Pain and guilt. …
      Anger and bargaining. …
      Depression. …
      The upward turn. …
      Reconstruction and working through. …
      Acceptance and hope.

      You’ll get there. Part of healing is allowing yourself to feel these things. I can’t remember which book this was in, but when you don’t allow people to talk about, process, and deal with their pain, trauma, or feelings, that causes mental illness in the person being denied. Let people go through the processes they need.

      How you’re feeling is totally fine. It’s not a race to heal. Being angry is fine right now. You’re entitled to that. Just try to work through it and know it will diminish. It really does get better and easier. Soon, you’ll feel angry less often and it won’t be as intense. You’ll have flare ups, but you’ll stop caring as much over all. It will diminish, especially when you accept more of the truth about him and their relationship. One thing that helped me is actually blogging. I have a secret blog where I write out what I’m thinking or feeling when I get flare ups of rage. It’s really helped because I’ll eventually run out of steam, the anger will dissapate, I’ll say to myself “ugh, he’s so worthless he doesn’t deserve my ire” It helps me to view things easier. Sometimes going back and rereading things really helps because I will start to see things differently so I can work through those memories. Reading blogs like this to see the comments from people really helps because it validates what I went through and that helps too. I promise, you’re not stuck and things will get better.

      Flare ups don’t necessarily mean you’re stuck in anger when they happen. Just accept that they happen. Everyone has them. Sometimes it’s because you have some unresolved things that need to be worked on a bit to be healed. That’s okay. Sometimes it’s just a triggered memory and the feelings that come with those memories. Look at how many people report having a random thought to something cringy or bad they did as a kid and sitting there still feeling cringy over it as an adult This is totally normal. And I mean think about this, we don’t shame people for getting over things slowly or having feelings flare ups for other things like a death in the family so why is there shame about getting over divorce so quickly? Why there is so much pushing for this only for relationship breakups is bizarre to me. Work towards your healing, but don’t rush it because other people are telling you you should.

      I hope that helps even a little.

      • Also, 3 years isn’t that long! There are people on here who are 20+ years out.

        I think a lot of people don’t realize there are factors in how easily a person can recover and bounce back from something like this.

        It’s significantly easier when you have a good support system. People who care and will listen, try to distract you and keep you busy and keep you company, but will also let you grieve without trying to push or rush you for their own comfort (it’s never for yours). Feeling lonely makes you primed to ruminate on your ex.

        It’s significantly easier when you have the financial ability to move on. When you’re stuck in a worse financial situation, that is even more depressing and it causes you to get stuck in your feelings more because you’re constantly surrounded by the suck you’re in every day. It’s not easy when you’ve lost your place to live and now you’re sleeping on a couch or you’re struggling to eat so you’re constantly reminded about what happened and feeling resentful of the hole you’re in now.

        Those two things make the biggest difference, in my opinion, on how quickly people bounce back.

        • Wow, thank you. I admit I was Taken aback at the original article but there have been a lot of helpful comments, yours included.And yes, I’ve said many times this was worse snd more lasting pain than when my dad died unexpectedly. I literally trusted my ex more than any other person in the world. We had a good family and a good marriage – totally had its issues like any normal marriage and I can also See things now that maybe were deeper than I ever realized. And am not sure my ex would have committed to working on them or not snd will never know, since an opportunist saw an opportunity and an ego was looking to be stroked. I have Got to get to bed but wanted to at least reply to your thoughtful post.

          • “since an opportunist saw an opportunity and an ego was looking to be stroked. ”

            Honestly in my view, that can’t be discounted as a part of the equation. To tell a person oh don’t hate the OW, oh she didn’t make a vow is rubbish. These snakes know exactly what they are doing. Funny how everyone says it takes two to destroy a marriage, and assign blame to the betrayed spouse, but never want to include the snake.

            One person can not save a marriage, or sustain a marriage; but they can make every effort, and the two that will destroy the marriage is the cheater and his/her whore.

            They will generally get theirs, but it won’t save your marriage; or even make it any better. Pain is pain.

            • For sure. It took both of them and I was unaware that was happening, so I spent a year and a half fighting and trying to save our marriage by myself. I blame Both of them – he wanted his ego stroked and she was the opportunist taking advantage while he gave her the playbook and it was a perfect storm.

              • That is the killer isn’t it Martha.

                I too spent the last year, trying to figure out why he had turned so mean. Trying to give him space, because that is what he said he needed. He was under “work stress” so he just needed space.

                I backed up and gave them full space to fuck unabated like bunnies, while I was trying to save my marriage.

                All the while they were setting me up for the kill.

          • I believe you! I think divorce is a lot more devastating than a lot of things, more so than people want to admit, because the level of trust, love, and the expectation of commitment and foreverness involved. I honestly had a worse reaction to this than I did with some seriously devastating things in my past because this was the ultimate betrayal of someone who had been my best friend before we started dating and who I’d been with more than half my life and planned on being with forever. I really loved that man. When you had a good relationship and the rug is suddenly ripped out from under you, it’s a lot to take in and adjust to.

            I missed some of your other comments before so I didn’t see that your kids or just a son? blamed you for the divorce. That goes a long way in prolonging your healing (thus the anger you feel) because it’s not only being thrown in your face all the time, it’s reminding you and forcing you to live with blame and consequences that weren’t your fault. I’d be feeling really mad all the time too. I don’t have kids but I am a petty bitch so I made sure his family, the whore’s family, their work, and all our friends knew exactly what they did. There was no way I was going to let them skip away unscathed so they could pretend like their “new love” was just so great and innocent. That’s exactly what they want and it helps them to get away with their BS. Nah! On Doug and Linda’s affair blog he had an affair and he gives the advice to shine a light (expose them) on the cockroaches. So if this was me, I’d be very honest with my children. Not to turn them against him, but so they know why their lives have been derailed and disrupted and to help you heal by not having this blame constantly thrown in your face to remind you. 🙂

            The things I still have flares of rage about are the lies he smeared me with when he was trashing me to her and the rest of their degenerate coworkers, the insane level of abuse he heaped on me, and his utter refusal to feel bad or tell the truth. Even tonight, I had pissed off thoughts about how I wish they both would pay for this NOW so I can have the satisfaction of seeing their karma catch up with them. It’s not as the drawn out bout of intense rage as it used to be, so that’s progress.

      • ““Why do you care when he didn’t love you! Move on! He didn’t want you!” It would really stab me and it wasn’t really true.”

        Yep, and I think for many if you really loved the person, you remember that pain. At least I did.

        Doesn’t mean I didn’t go on to have a great life. I have lived a great life, not perfect but pretty great. My H is a sweetheart and we are still going strong. I also know that my H remembers clearly the pain of rejection. He doesn’t talk about it much, but he remembers and I know it is just a part of who he is. He was discarded at the 29th year, mine was at the 21st.

        • Exactly!

          For some people, hearing this is fine and it works well. For others, it’s just painful and not helpful at all. In fact, it can do more damage and cause more hurt. I know this is the schtick here to be angry at the cheater and say fuck them which is great, but I don’t see the point in being just as callous to the cheated-on. They already have too much pain. Not that I think people should be handled with kid gloves because we’re all adults.

          I’m happy you have a great life and husband now!

  • Ah yes. The “I’m going to mistreat you until you leave so I can be the victim and get sympathy” technique. A classic.

  • I’m just sitting here thinking that I wish I’d had some of this advice when my husband left. I could feel him leaving before he did… he was looking for someone who could help him out. I always viewed the other woman as a lifeboat pulling up to a ship, and the captain stepping down in the middle of the night and leaving in the lifeboat. She was temporary, and I knew it. She was just a vehicle to get him to shore.

    He was seriously in a bad way. Trying to understand everything. Reading books about the cosmos, trying to prove to himself that there was no God. Nothing working for him. Severing relationships, right and left (all his family members, all his business partners!) He was quitting being “him” and trying to be someone else. It was excruciating to be around him.

    If I’d had some of this good advice,

    1) I wouldn’t have signed his divorce agreement. (Ever see the movie, “The Big Short?” That’s what happened to me with my divorce, and that wouldn’t have happened. I’d have separated myself from him and all dealings with him.)
    2) I’d have gotten a lawyer and gone into a typical sorting out of the assets, and we’d have found out how many assets he had! He was always very secretive about it.
    3) I’d have not worried so much about my angry feelings; I’d have used them to propel me forward.

    As it did happen,

    1) I can look back and say I tried!
    2) I can look back and say I had integrity throughout the whole process.
    3) I can look back and say I was fair.

    But these things could have happened with Scenario #1.

    I’d have just grown a boundary around me, which might have protected me from some of the angst of having my life change, suddenly, without my permission. And it would have helped me with future relationships, too.

    I love reading this advice, Chump Lady!

  • I just want you to know that I totally get your feelings. I am probably one of the only ones who thinks this article is kind of shitty and mean in tone in a unnecessary way. I think people should be more compassionate and nicer when dealing with other people’s pain. “Tough Love” and brutal directness often sucks. I can’t tell you how much it hurt when people would callously say “Why do you care when he didn’t love you! Move on! He didn’t want you!” It would really stab me and it wasn’t really true.

    When they’re long past their pain they very much forget what it’s like to be in the moment and they forget that they went through the process you’re in now, while expecting you to magically jump to the end. I find this whole thing about “stop thinking about him!” so callous and almost sociopathic. And it’s not like you can say oh okay let me turn off those feelings and thoughts right now because they’re invalid! And if they were able to move past things and move on so easily with very little feelings, hooray for them. Not everyone can do that.
    Screw this article for that.
    As someone who was where you are and is still somewhat there but coming out of it, I want you to know this instead:
    You’re not stuck. You’re in pain still and that’s okay. Anger is part of grieving and a reaction to that pain.

    The 7 stages of grief
    Shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings.
    Pain and guilt. …
    Anger and bargaining. …
    Depression. …
    The upward turn. …
    Reconstruction and working through. …
    Acceptance and hope.

    You’ll get there. Part of healing is allowing yourself to feel these things. I can’t remember which book this was in, but when you don’t allow people to talk about, process, and deal with their pain, trauma, or feelings, that causes mental illness in the person being denied. Let people go through the processes they need.

    How you’re feeling is totally fine. It’s not a race to heal. Being angry is fine right now. You’re entitled to that. Just try to work through it and know it will diminish. It really does get better and easier. Soon, you’ll feel angry less often and it won’t be as intense. You’ll have flare ups, but you’ll stop caring as much over all. It will diminish, especially when you accept more of the truth about him and their relationship. One thing that helped me is actually blogging. I have a secret blog where I write out what I’m thinking or feeling when I get flare ups of rage. It’s really helped because I’ll eventually run out of steam, the anger will dissapate, I’ll say to myself “ugh, he’s so worthless he doesn’t deserve my ire” It helps me to view things easier. Sometimes going back and rereading things really helps because I will start to see things differently so I can work through those memories. Reading blogs like this to see the comments from people really helps because it validates what I went through and that helps too. I promise, you’re not stuck and things will get better.

    Flare ups don’t necessarily mean you’re stuck in anger when they happen. Just accept that they happen. Everyone has them. Sometimes it’s because you have some unresolved things that need to be worked on a bit to be healed. That’s okay. Sometimes it’s just a triggered memory and the feelings that come with those memories. Look at how many people report having a random thought to something cringy or bad they did as a kid and sitting there still feeling cringy over it as an adult This is totally normal. And I mean think about this, we don’t shame people for getting over things slowly or having feelings flare ups for other things like a death in the family so why is there shame about getting over divorce so quickly? Why there is so much pushing for this only for relationship breakups is bizarre to me. Work towards your healing, but don’t rush it because other people are telling you you should.

    I hope that helps even a little.

  • This is EXACTLY my situation with my ex. I’ve been fine for the most part but the last month has been very tough. I needed to read this. Thank you. You really help.

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