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I’m REALLY Angry. Is This Normal?

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Dear Chump Lady,

My husband walked in on Christmas Eve to break the news that he had fallen out of love with me and was leaving me for another woman.

I had spent the day wrapping gifts for his family and prepping food for Christmas dinner, while he was with the other woman planning their own magical Christmas.

He gave the whole “I love you but I’m just not IN love with you” speech, before dropping the bombshell that he had been planning on leaving me for the past 18 months but was waiting “for the right time”.

Now, a few months on, the initial pain has passed and to my surprise I’m not missing him in the slightest — he was lazy and cruel and now the blinkers have been removed I can see that my life has the potential to be much happier without him in it.

But I still feel incredibly angry — angry that he never told me he was unhappy or tried to work on our relationship, and instead threw it all away for a woman he had only been seeing for a few weeks. (But it’s true love and she is perfect and special, he says). Angry that I’m now stuck in the middle of a messy divorce and might lose my home. Angry that he has told lies about me to his family, friends and lawyer, claiming that I’m a total bitch and threw him out. Angry that he wasted precious years of my life — we had been planning on starting a family this year, he let me think this was what he wanted right up until the day he left. If he had been planning on leaving for 18 months, how could he have been so cruel as to lead me on like this? Now I find myself single again in my early 30s and I’m worried it will be too late for me.

He has blocked all forms of contact and we only talk via our lawyers, which thankfully prevents me doing what I want to do and hurling endless streams of abuse at him and the other woman, but leaves me feeling very frustrated. He hasn’t acknowledged any wrongdoing and before cutting me off, and he openly admitted he didn’t feel any guilt or shame.

Sometimes I feel so angry I can’t focus at work, I wake up feeling angry and I don’t know how to deal with the strength of my emotion. Is it normal to feel this way? How can I deal with this anger without resorting to Kill Bill style revenge scenarios?

Many thanks,

Goodbye Ginger

Dear GG,

Your anger is totally normal. I don’t even know the guy and I’d like to dangle him over a balcony for you. Let’s recap:

He dumped you on Christmas Eve — ludicrously pronouncing it “the right time.”

He cheated on you.

He’s assassinated your character — to that family you were wrapping presents for.

He wasted your precious time and fertility window, letting you invest further in him.

He’s left you with a huge legal mess.

He doesn’t feel one bit sorry.

Yeah, I’d be all Godzilla over his Tokyo too.

You know what’s really madness? The expectation that you wouldn’t be angry! Where does THAT come from?

(Ooh! Raising my hand. The Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Every conscious uncoupling article in every glossy celebrity magazine. Every supercilious mommy blogger simpering how she’s “friends” with her ex For The Children. A bazillion years of the patriarchy insisting that women smile as they eat shit sandwiches. While looking like ladies. And wearing lipstick. Lest they be burned on a pyre as a witches.)

Why are you angry? Because you’re SANE. It means you’re paying attention. It means you CARED.

Anger is a good sign. You’re in protection mode. You’re not going to be played. You’re full into Trusting That He Sucks, and turning a corner towards Meh soon.

Frankly, I’d much rather you be angry than directing that fury inwards into sadness. Or worse, be mopey and paralyzed, still loving the bastard. It’s SO much easier to help angry people than unicorns. He looked sideways at a self-help article I taped to his mirror. I think he still cares! Or depressed people. What’s the point? The OW is prettier than me. I think I’ll just weave flowers in my hair and lay down in this stream… 

Ugh. I prefer anger. Especially when channelled towards snark.

Anyway, GG, you won’t be angry forever. The Kill Bill revenge scenarios are finite too. It’s a stage you go through as you process the enormity of the transgressions. All the alarm bells are going off in your body as you get free. You’re still in this middle of the nightmare, so it’s going to suck for awhile. He’s still central, because you’re dividing property and he’s moved on with Perfect Schmoopie. The unfairness of it all will feel overwhelming at times. Okay, it will feel overwhelming A LOT of the time.

And you know what? You’ll come out on the other side okay anyway. You really will. Talk to me one to two years out from this crap, when you’ve got the foundations of that new life built. I promise that new life will be WAY more interesting than whatever Fuckface is up to. And if it isn’t? Get working on that new life! Stop looking backwards at Fuckface!

As you’ve realized, life is already improved without his lazy cruel ass. He will never not suck, and the injustice will never be acceptable — but it won’t consume your life. The pain fades. Your heart scars over and remains a working heart.

Maybe you’ll love a future partner and future children. Maybe you’ll love orphans. Or corgi puppies. I have no idea how your life is going to turn out, except for the BETTER because you lost a loser. We don’t get the lives we imagine, and that’s a good thing. God didn’t answer my reconciliation prayer, He sent me my husband. I didn’t get the farmhouse by the river with my precious garden — I got sent to Texas, a state the color of dead grass.

We don’t know where our hearts will take us. This is what I can tell you from my chump experience — my greatest gifts could never have been possible without my greatest losses. Without that suckfest this blog wouldn’t exist, this lovely tribe of CN wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t have written a book. I wouldn’t have left the safe confines of my existence to meet some Texan in New Orleans.

There’s a lot I did NOT get — more children, my money back, my deep investments in other lives I thought I was going to have.

And it’s okay. There’s nothing to be angry about any more, because it worked out. Doesn’t make any of it RIGHT, of course, but I’m stronger than a couple of fuckwits — and you are too.

This one ran previously. On vacation this week. 

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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.
  • Yes! Give me anger over sadness any day. Anger is active. It creates momentum to move. Move on. Move out. Move away. It creates a sense of urgency and restlessness that requires you to protect yourself. Anger is good. But it feels really bad when it’s a constant emotion. I know how it feels to have so much anger it feels like you have to dump it on something or someone or it will burn you up. In my experience, it does just fade away in time. Now I find it hard to summon anger towards my ex. I have no time for him whatsoever. There are thing you can do to help you process anger… Write down your rage, exercise, meditate etc. It will pass and you will find your peace.

    • How about anger with sadness?
      Or perhaps that’s just the next phase?

      The writer has every reason to be angry AND sad…and anything else that comes along.

      It’s all about acknowledging every emotion as it pops up and then channeling it all into getting a better life. I remember my therapist (yes, please find a great one) repeating my creating a “life worth living” over and over. While in the depths of anger, depression and the minefield of divorce I never knew what she was talking about. I was convinced my life was over and rage/depression was all I would ever feel again. But I trusted everyone who said that the pain is finite. It is but the definition of finite is different for each chump.

      I used that rage to fight like a beast through the legal process knowing the #1 goal was to get the best settlement I could. I put away the nausea that came even with the word settlement. I wanted blood but settled for cash. I addressed the depression with the same determination. Got a genetic test to finally find the right meds to form solid ground under my feet. Spoke my truth about everything. My narrative was the loudest and clearest – there would be NO further lies in my life ever!

      I sincerely hope the writer has found a life worth living because it is the only place for us chumps to land. And because we deserve it.

  • Anger and bitterness in women has always been severely penalized by the patriarchy. Duh. Patriarchy works soooo much better when you don’t notice that you’re being screwed over, thanks!! Congratulations on accessing your internal sense of right and wrong, and reality based thinking. Those are powerful tools moving forward. You got this!

    • I so agree!! A man who is angry is just defending himself, but an angry woman is hysterical and out of control.

      I don’t get angry often but when I do I am like WRHOAHHH!! and I especially felt this way with regards to the fw. It’s very cleansing, can give a lot of energy to start off directing your energy elsewhere, you only need to canalize it in the right way I guess. (If I’d live up to the violent fantasies I had against my fw it would be no good! ^^)

      • There’s also a pretty common narrative against anger in men, namely angry man = dangerous man. I’ve never been involved in a violent confrontation ever, with anyone, in my entire life – but when I got angry during peak confusion and bewilderment (I raised my voice once – and only once – shortly after ILYBINILWY) my XW used this as her excuse to leave me and the kids, spreading word around town that she didn’t feel safe in her own home. (Of course, she neglected to cite her yearlong affair, or that leaving was part of her and AP’s plan to get rid of their mutual spouses). Fortunately, people who know me (including my kids) realized that this accusation was completely inconsistent with my actual character, but I’m sure that lots of people in my XW’s new neighborhood think that I am an abusive, and potentially homicidal, person.

        I will admit that I had kind of bought into that narrative myself. I was actually kind of pleasantly relieved to discover that I could get really, really angry and have no impulse towards violence. Looking back on it, though, I think it was unhealthy for me to repress my anger for so long for fear that I would lose control of myself if I ever let myself experience an emotion that is, after all, a natural and frequently healthy response to trauma and betrayal.

        Certainly domestic violence is a distressingly common occurrence, and I’m sure that men commit more serious acts of violence against women than the reverse, but the fact is that the vast majority of men are not batterers or abusers. Justifiable anger – with no history or threat of violence – should not be disallowed for either men or women.

        • Yes, that’s true. The connotations are different for men and women, but each have their negative reputations.

          I was also quite happy to be angry, as indeed my therapist at the time was surprised I wasn’t (a few years before this happened).

        • Cheaters will take the slightest sign of anger (anger directed at their cheating mind you) and use it against the chump. Of course they’ll tell everyone you’ve been abusive. They had no choice but to leave. If you are devastated and sad over their cheating, they’ll say nothing will ever make you happy and they had to get away from the negativity. They look to be offended so they can leave and come up with “I have been unhappy for years” bs. You can’t win with these defects.

        • Involuntary Georgian:

          I had started drinking very heavily after D-Day. Drinking for fun became a coping mechanism without me even realizing it. It got bad. For two years I thought we were in RIC but come to find out there was a different AP. The day after ILYBINILWY, I had a few drinks and she said something very cruel to me and it was at that exact moment my realization of how a lot of domestic issues start. I got up, dumped out my drink and haven’t drank in 3.5 years. It’s a thin line that I knew I never wanted to cross and alcohol could have just pushed things over the edge. Hope you’re doing well.

  • And please consider working up to some heavy, vigorous exercise on a daily basis as a way to cope with the anger and attendant adrenaline rush. When sweat is pouring off your body after a high-intensity interval workout on the treadmill, or when your biceps ache from lifting, or your legs are jelly from that Zumba class, you don’t give a toss about the ex. And you sleep like a baby. If you’re not active right now, you can start with ten minutes a day walking around the block. ANY form of movement helps enormously!

  • I remember in the earlier part of my mess, our preacher was trying to help me though the mess and he said to me “I don’t understand why you are not getting angry” I just said, “you didn’t see me throw a wooden rocking chair across my living room last night” But, honestly, I was still numb most of the time. I hid a lot of anger in the process. I shouldn’t have.

    • I spent many years numb as well. I feel like I’m only accessing some anger now, here in the privacy of my own home, years later.

      I’ve also withdrawn my “forgiveness” that I previously extended to him. No one knows this but me and I’m okay with that.

      • I think when you find out even more years later, withdrawing forgiveness is understandable.

        I went through that too, and also he and the whore caused my son and sons family grief. I had a trigger of sorts and that is when I found CL.

        I realize I buried a lot of anger at myself that I should have expressed. In real time, I was ashamed and humiliated.

        Doesn’t mean I didn’t go on with life, I did and honestly I had not really though of asswipe for years, other than the handful of times I did a quick nod at them at family events.

        He recently died, then my brother and his wife died a month later, and my son and I have talked at length. I think it has been good for both of us.

        Reality was his dad was a selfish asshole, with not real capacity for normal love. Oh I would never say that to my son, but we both know. How he managed to hide himself from me for so long, I don’t know. I know I trusted him, and I also know he kept me pretty busy; especially the last three or four years.

        He was selfish to the end though, the whore got treated even worse than I did. He didn’t really try to hide it from her.

      • You touch on a good point. Most emotions don’t occur in isolation and we tend to focus on the most obvious. I actually liken my numbness after fw left to black- it is a combination of all colors but you can’t see them. Eventually, I was able to start sorting the emotion.

        Now five years later, I am feeling really angry over the lawsuit against fuckwit over a joint business. Anger is dominating right now but I know there is anxiety and fear mixed in. And hey, there are things to be happy about but those emotions are quietly in the background.

        • greener pastures!❤️
          I love your new name, ( new to me- I do not come here much)
          I hope you and your precious Chldren are all doing well.

          Anger, it can hit in a second of time, yesterday, today, and forever, I believe.
          So so many parts of their character that can suddenly nag at your heart. To me it is specially the downright lying and the blame shifting. That is just not who I am and it kills me, every single time. Just have to remember there is no changing a narc like character. Especially saddened for how it affects innocent children, how can it not!
          There is never total forgetting, never total peace.
          There is coping.
          There is counting one’s blessings! ( of which he is not one of).
          I try hard.
          Love to You and your Family.
          ❤️Peacekeeper

      • How can I ever “forgive” someone who, after a thirty – five year marriage didn’t think that I deserved to be TOLD? I didn’t deserve an explanation? Five years post divorce and I still have nothing. All of this has just made me realize what a pathetic individual he is.

  • My ex asked me to get a tattoo with him. We’d been married 16 years so I went ahead and did it. He had already been planning on leaving me for at least a year at that point, by his own admission, he didn’t clue me in until after our 20 year anniversary though.

    Oh, the rage. He just wanted to mark me before he dumped me. I’m currently saving to get it covered. I feel angry all over again every time I look at it and it’s on my wrist so that’s often. It’s even worse when someone compliments it, which happens regularly.

    Thankfully it’s not his name or anything so it could be worse. But I know what it is and what it was supposed to mean and now I know what it really was. Pisses me off unbelievably. The absolute evil to do that while planning to leave… But I let myself be angry about it. Any sane person would be angry. I’m over being told I’m not supposed to be angry about people doing shitty things to me. So many places that claim they exist to help people after being cheated on demonize that anger and act like we’re wrong for it. We are not! Thank God for this place. Thank you Chump Lady!

    • Yep, I really don’t get their shit about things they do while in active discard mode.

      The only thing I can think of for much of it is they need to keep the mirage going until they are ready to walk out the door. Cheaters are by their nature cowards, so I guess in that vein it makes sense.

      • My lawyer called Friday to tell me the divorce is official. 3adult kids are betting he will be a no show for getting his chosen property due to his cowardice. Downgrade howorker is younger than all the children. Hasn’t spoken to his children in over 2 years. Coward for sure. Once my name is off his car I’ll feel free, I’ve paid the insurance for the whole process.

    • My surprise daughter was conceived toward the very end of my marriage. My ex and I grew up in broken homes and he knew I was very passionate about not wanting to raise children in one no matter what, but he also knew that if I found out he was cheating ever that would be a dealbreaker. I was in my mid-30s, very broken up and scared, felt our family was complete and don’t know how she managed to get through my birth control. Knowing all of my feelings and the situation didn’t slow him and my best friend down one bit. She even came along to our gender celebration dinner and came to visit the baby and I in the hospital after she was born. I truly will never understand how he got so righteous about an unplanned pregnancy knowing the whole time he was sneaking off to fuck this woman behind my back while they pretended nothing was going on and also knowing where the consequences would lead once I found out. of course he honestly didn’t seem to care that much after discovery informing me that he was only leaving me and not the children, and that children no matter their age are much more resilient than I give them credit for.It’s one of the things that baffles me to this day. I love my daughter and can’t imagine not having her in my life, but the instant I brought up other options regarding the unplanned pregnancy he hit the roof. No offense to people here who are pro life, but I just wanted to be honest with my experience about how image management and being in control is so important to these assholes despite how it impacts our lives whether it’s a tattoo or another child to add to the concerns of single parenthood.

      • Every part of life with Cheater was hard but I went along with his urgings to have a 3rd baby (it was followed by about a year of him acting like a human but by the time she was 2, he was back to being an assbastard). After 3rd baby, I knew I could not fit another child into the life I had with him (everything was SO HARD…he made it that way).

        I was about 33, had my family and got my tubes tied. Later (when unknown to me he was in an affair with a 30 something woman who wanted babies with him) he shamed me for ending the supply of babies so young…that I had done a terrible thing to him. Later, I learned of his intent to leave with her and he was still shaming me for not having more children and that day, I came up with one of my better zingers to his insanity…

        “How many children did you want to abandon me with?”

        • What a fantastic zinger! At least, for those of us that aren’t complete narcissistic assholes. I’m hoping you and the children are in a much better place, mentally and spiritually without that fuckwit. Sending lots of love and best wishes to you all.

        • I feel that cheaters use having babies to keep us tied into the cake role. They know as mother’s we won’t want to leave and split up the family.

      • I’m so sorry to hear about what you went through. Sick fucks every last one of them.
        It baffles me how my ex wife rarely did anything with or for the kids. She had even told some of her AP’s she had no kids or husband.
        After I busted her ass and filed for divorce she became super mom and somehow managed to alienate our two oldest from me. After 3 years she is still supermom but I’m hoping her gig ends soon.

        • It will do. Latest date 18+. Most children, particularly if they go on to higher education need support until their early twenties. Fuckwits think the job is done at eighteen.

          • LJ
            My Dad said to me one day, “You never stop paying (willing) for your kids”
            Translated- if it’s your last dollar you go hungry …your child eats before you do.

      • A year ago your story would have completely shocked me. Now I’ve learned enough about the entitlement of these people that it doesn’t anymore. I think yep, sounds like cheater logic. But it’s still such a warped way of thinking that I’ll never fully understand it. I’m sorry you went through such selfish craziness from him. Their actions are so entitled they defy reality and logic.

    • Ugh! I let my ex wife tattoo our initials inside a heart on me a few months before I busted her ass. Her cousin owns a tattoo studio so he let her have a go at it.

    • Egging you to get a tattoo when he knew he was going to leave was an evil thing to do.

      In the wake of Cheaters death (Before I started finding proof of the depths of his betrayal) I got a memorial tattoo to honor him.

      There have been times when I have resented it but for some odd reason, it has blended into background noise for me and I mostly dont care. I hope that you can soon join me in Tattoo Meh.

      • There’s not much you can do, I have things I regret too and if the tattoo isn’t bothering you then there’s no action needed. The benefit of finding out about some of the cheating before my cheater died and the rest of it after the funeral is now I can choose not to pay for a headstone, the grave can remain unmarked. It’s a small point and some people would think it’s petty but I know he would be utterly insulted that money wasn’t being spent on him, entitled as he was to use my money on himself and his whores. Even when I get to meh I will not change my mind about this.

    • Ugh, I’m so sorry the FW got you tattooed before he left and for everyone else here who was otherwise marked (let’s get matching tattoos, let’s have more children, let’s take out a loan together for that nice new car we’ve always wanted) right in the middle of the FW’s discard mode.

      Mine wanted to plan a big vow renewal party (during our faux reconciliation). We’d rent a big hall and invite alllll our friends and family and renew our vows in front of the world. Thankfully, we were pretty broke so that was a pipe dream of his but I was not into it; I had just taken him back after his first affair and was not into the idea of being paraded around as a success story when he had yet to do any relationship work with me. I was also still humiliated and didn’t want a public party announcing to the world that “Yeah, we were separated because he was formerly living with his young secret girlfriend but all’s good now, world. Just look at us!” What was he thinking? I told him I wasn’t comfortable with that idea at all and that I thought we still had a lot of work to do. He said, “Well, maybe later then.”

      Looking at the timeline, I know that he was well into active discard mode. He didn’t want to stay and rebuild a relationship but he wanted to mark me, so to speak, with a large public renewal of our vows and then split…. *again*?!? Why? That wouldn’t have been just cruel? That would have been extra cruel with sprinkles on top!

      He got my name tattooed on his arm alongside our children’s initials right as our reconciliation was beginning. Thankfully, I never followed suit. (I’m sure he had it covered up when ran off and married OW#3.)

      All these big displays of relationship-hood, all the relationship-marking (both literal and metaphorical) when they have one foot out the door already… why? It boggles the mind and it’s cruel to boot.

      • >All these big displays of relationship-hood, all the relationship-marking (both literal and metaphorical) when they have one foot out the door already… why?

        Image management. So it looks like he was really loving, and it just didn’t work out. So those BS actions cover up the horrible reality.

      • Big displays (including the love bombing even while they are discarding) is classic future faking by the narcs. It’s self-serving fakery for impression management so they can point and say “See? I TRIED!”. But it’s all fake. They know it. They just hope the chump doesn’t. It helps to manipulate and creates the dual purpose to muddy the waters causing confusion and smokescreen (gaslighting) while they continue leaving.
        Above all it is sadistic.

    • Mine wanted me to get a tattoo in a place only he could see. I was open to that, but he took off before I got it. So glad that never got done. I can’t imagine dealing with that now.

  • Anger over being frozen and sad any day. I wasn’t truly angry for a while after he left, and then it was very hard to deal with.

    When the family home was on the market, I’d really lose it. We had moved to a beat-up rental with boxes stacked to the ceiling in some rooms, and he was doing his thing with whoever in a furnished house many states away in a gated community on the coast. I’d go over to the family home and yell at the top of my lungs while I vacuumed and dusted. The college kids and I were really struggling with that, and I don’t think he had a second thought about what that house meant to us. I couldn’t buy him out and figured I was going to need money for the divorce, so I had agreed to sell it when we were supposedly trying to patch things up long-distance. What a pipedream that was!

    Later in the divorce, I began frozen and sad and then got angry. My attorney would get so mad he’d pound the table and spout obscenities. My ex’s attorney would get so mad at my ex that he’d rant at my ex on the phone, hang up, and then call mine to complain about his client. Finally I was so angry that I told my attorney to get a court date if they didn’t sign. His decided he was going to quit if my ex didn’t sign, and thankfully everyone signed, and it was done. More games and crazy in closeout, but by then I expected it. He loved the chaos and kept it up until there was nothing left to put his fingers into. Thankfully I had no custody issues and took out everything tying the college students and I to him. My ex is a tortured soul that cannot be in our lives, period.

    Years later, all is well. No more anger. I thank God every day that the attorneys got me out of it. The judge signed the order the day before my original one retired, and the associate who took it over is building his career and gathering accolades. His attorney sadly died of COVID some months after my ex’s part was over. What a chapter of my life, but I survived!

  • Righteous anger spurs us to a better place. Don’t doubt it. If I knew then What I know now, I wouldn’t have wasted a drop of my thirties and forties being sad and alone over a piece of trash like my ex. And I’d wear sexier clothes. I’d say yes more. Life is short, my friend. Go. Be free

  • Goodbye Ginger, if it makes you feel any better, your fertility window is not gone. I had my first baby at 45, with absolutely no ” effort” on my part. It was a total surprise! No drugs, no trying, just wham.

    I spent my 20s and 30s with an alcoholic and never got pregnant, thank you God! I think sometimes your own body protects you. Bless the lord you are away from that psychopathic asshole. So if you want a baby, don’t give up hope.

    • Wow that is so inspiring!!

      I’m soon turning 39. And single.. All the judgement that comes with it. And all the pressure I’m giving myself, too. Sigh..

      • I was 39 and single and decided to have a child using a donor. Single parenting is easier when you go into it knowing that you will be solely responsible. I’m so happy I made that decision.

        • Good for you! Happy to know it worked out well for you 🙂

          I don’t think I’ll do it myself (based on my experiences as a child) but very happy for anyone doing it.

    • I had my daughter at almost 44….no medical intervention other than surgery to remove fibroids in FEB. I was pregnant in APR.

      It’s not over til it’s over.

      ❤️

      • Oh wow Velvet Hammer, you go!! (sorry, using too many exclamation marks today. must be the anger lingering somewhere…)

  • On the day of mediation, my therapist texted me the following:

    “Keep your anger with you. It’s your strength and voice on this journey.”

    Mad Spinach kept her eyes on the prize, focused on getting a good settlement, and basically got shit done. She was on a mission. Mad Spinach tried not to get angry at Sad Spinach who was curled up in a fetal position, crying.

    • LOL. I couldn’t have said it better.

      Both attorneys agreed that my ex was too unpredictable and disordered to do mediation, but I kept my eye on the prize of getting the divorce done with a decent settlement. I was very reasonable in my expectations which of course made my attorney happy, but I didn’t give up anything that a judge would have awarded. As it turned out, I actually got a little more than I wanted including an amendment later that modified one part to exactly what I wanted that part to be.

      Emotionally the divorce was overwhelming in the first months, but then I had my mission fixed in my sights.

  • I know it’s hard to see but be glad he’s gone. Mine keeps lingering refuses to move out and agree to anything reasonable. Now we’re in a pool of dysfunction. The anger is normal too. The lies, the fraud, of who you thought you married verses who he is, and the person you thought you married would never do this. The grieving of a life that never really existed, that is all normal to feel angry about.

    Now you know first hand what the red flags are to avoid in the future. You actually have a real chance at a better life. It’s a twisted painful gift.

    • ‘the person you thought you married would never do this.”

      I think I need that embroidered on a pillow. My therapist has been telling me he’s not the man I thought I married but she never phrased it in that exact way and your statement finally made it hit home for me.
      New chump here. We had been married for 20 years, together 24 when he confessed last fall he had cheated “about 20 times” over the last 4 years. Covid cut off his access to his supply of OW and he lost his mind.
      Tried reconciliation but he was throwing up obstacle after obstacle about his “hurt feelings” every time we were close to making progress in therapy.

      I called my attorney two days ago to start the paperwork to separate.

  • “But I still feel incredibly angry — angry that he never told me he was unhappy or tried to work on our relationship, and instead threw it all away for a woman he had only been seeing for a few weeks.”

    He more than likely was very content (as much as a defective narc can be) in your marriage till he met the OW and only then did he decide he was in an unhappy marriage. So I’m calling horseshit on being unhappy for 18 months, he just needed to come up with a narrative to explain his affair. Oh and screw anyone that buys into his lying narrative. They’re either too stupid to see through his horseshit or they have basically chosen him, not you, so going along with the narrative gives them an excuse to dump on you. Look at this time as weeding out all the shitheads in your life.

    • Yep. They want everything they want until they don’t anymore. Cheating is about getting high on their supply, the secret stash and the unwitting chump, and has nothing to do with “unhappy” or working on relationships. Like cheating on tests and taxes, cheaters cheat because they want what gratifies them without being harshed and inconvenienced by integrity. If we didn’t have the internet to meet up here and compare notes, if I was twisting in the wind with this shit all by myself, I truly do not know how I would have made it or where I would be. Likely I’d still be I n the crazy salad spinner blaming myself and buying his bullshit.

      Harsh their buzz and walk away. Staying means you keep your spot on the chessboard with the cheaters in charge of the game.

  • Anger can protect you, and make you feel empowered (and hell, it can even help you get your floors really clean). However, know that anger is a secondary emotion: there are feelings under the anger you’re not ready to deal with, like sadness, helplessness, etc. A counselor who is interested in helping you, and not fixing your marriage, might help you work through these feelings during which is certainly a challenging time.
    Also, note that you are judging your own feelings, in addition to feeling your feelings. In my opinion, short of yelling at your boss, you get a free pass for the first year on anything you feel, do, or say after something like this.
    I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

  • Anger is a logical response to being treated unfairly, and it is a good motivator. The danger lies in allowing Anger to become a habit. Anger becomes heavier if you carry it over years, and if you do not let it go in some way, you carry your tormentor with you.

    I had an almost impossible time with people telling me to “forgive”, for my own sake. How could I forgive something unforgivable? Finally the words changed to “accept that you cannot change the past, or another person” and “let go of the stone.” That made sense to me. Anger morphed into something sustainable, something far lighter to carry. I imagine it as a bulletproof vest, constantly covering my vulnerabilities, and protecting me from my own chump impulses. I am now aware that bad people will randomly shoot at me, some for their own gain, some just because they can. When I was young I would wonder “what did I do to deserve this?” Now I wonder “Who is this Ass, and what does he want?”

    I have also learned to fire back, in self defense. My boundaries are clearly marked, and No Trespassing signs are posted. Cross my boundary at your own peril.

    I still might end up wounded, from a surprise betrayal, but I am pretty vigilant. Anger doesn’t weigh me down, anymore. I rarely think of my tormentors, usually when someone asks a random question that brings up an old memory. I know I am better off now. I did not know what would happen when I was young. Fear of uncertainty drives anger. The trick is, nothing is certain for you but your values.

    Don’t worry about what other people think so much. They don’t know more than they do know, and they jump to conclusions. It is your business, not theirs. Boundaries.

  • RAGE = FLAMES
    BOX BREATHING = COLD WATER

    Box breathing is taught to Navy SEALS as a way to tranquilize and stay calm in emotionally charged situations. It accesses the brain in ways that words and actions can’t. Also known as TACTICAL BREATHING, it’s an awesome tool for when I feel a spell of rage coming on.

    You do NOT want to end up as Betty Broderick’s cellie. The rage is real, and individuals involved in cases of infidelity without tools have ended up in jail or dead. Building a tool kit for processing the rage is a priority for me still at over three and a half years. Triggers happen and box breathing can be done anywhere, anytime.

    I have a friend who is a retired and decorated SEAL (SEAL Team 2, Underwater Demolition). When he speaks, I listen.

    This is my favorite tool for processing the rage. There are also demo videos on YouTube.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2019/05/30/how-to-de-stress-in-5-minutes-or-less-according-to-a-navy-seal/

    • My therapist introduced me to box breathing. We came up with ten statements that focus on areas where my STBX draws out my anger (it was difficult to narrow the list). During our sessions, she will read each statement as I move through the steps of box breathing. The only two statements that I can’t work through relate to his cheating and the OW. Considering the circumstances of my divorce, my therapist says my anger is 1000% justified, and there’s no timetable in letting it go. I’ll be ready when I’m ready. (She also holds to the belief that those who cheat don’t just wake up one day and say, “I’m going to start cheating on my spouse.” The trait is always there—they cheated in school, in finances, games and sports, whatever. She hit the nail on the head with my spouse.)

      I let my anger motivate me in my seemingly never-ending divorce case. I became my own private detective to prove the cheating beyond a doubt. I hired an expert to dig through the financials and another to cover every square inch of our home so there’s an accurate value to present to the judge. When DDay hit and I picked myself up off the floor, I determined win or lose, I was going to give the cheater the fight of his life.

      • ” The trait is always there—they cheated in school, in finances, games and sports, whatever. ”

        Reminds me of the early years. Our good friends at the time would come to our house and we would play games, mostly monopoly. He and my ex (both police officers) would sit there and cheat, when we would catch them they would laugh it off as a joke. They both cheated on us and left us for other women.

        Her ex didn’t much hide it, mine hid it until I guess he got outed by someone.

      • I didn’t say anything about letting anger go and that was not my intended implication either. I wonder if I am misunderstanding you?

        Box breathing is a tool I can use to soothe and take care of myself WHEN I feel angry, not a mechanism for avoiding or eliminating or not feeling anger or “letting anger go.” I don’t know about you, but when I am feeling overcome by rage, which is usually at least once a day, I need to find a way to keep my mouth shut and not do anything until it passes.

        My level of anger scared me, and the thoughts I was having, so much so that I voluntarily signed up for the women’s batterer intervention program held at our local domestic violence shelter. My classmates were female violent offenders who were court mandated. They teach breathing in that class as well. It’s tool help ourselves when feeling overcome with rage so we don’t hurt ourselves and others.

        I can tell I’m going to be Godzilla ticked off for a very long time, maybe whenever it crosses my mind for the rest of my life for all I know and I want to stay out of jail.

        ❤️

        • No mistaking, the anger is definitely there, on many levels, and for many reasons. And, it will probably be for a long, long time. He left me broken and turned me into a person I didn’t recognize. I’ve never considered myself an angry person, until now. I began this technique with my therapist because I was starting to take my anger out on the people who are supporting me the most. I’ve gotten to a point where when certain points come up—like how he’s set to financially ruin me or skipped another court date—the breathing can calm me. When it comes to the cheating, though, I still just want to rage. I can’t see myself ever NOT being angry for the adultery. Probably not the best mindset, but at least I’m honest with myself.

          Isn’t it ironic that those of us who were chumped, often in the most egregious of circumstances, work the hardest to mend ourselves, while those who hurt us, those with no morals, ethics, values, emotions, or decency (toss in the APs with the spouses here) roam about as if their actions were of no lasting consequence to anyone?

  • I agree with CL. You should be angry. I wish I would have been more angry. I unfortunately went the “pick me dance” route. I pick me danced my ASS off. I literally used the person who betrayed me, now XH, as the person I poured my heart out to and expressed my grief and sadness to. I didn’t understand at the time that my misery was fueling his supply need. I was a hot mess! As for him refusing contact, that is a blessing. No contact is the key to moving on. I spent 1-1/2 years AFTER my divorce wasting my life being manipulated by that schmuck. Channel that anger into making your life better and stay no contact! Your only in your 30’s. You have your whole life ahead of you. I got divorced after 21 years of living with a cheater at the age of 50. We never had children either. My now XH told me not having children was one of the many mind fuck excuses he came up with for sticking his hands in the neighbors pants. She had 2 children. He also told me it was because I read to much and liked to take to many walks. What a pathetic loser he is! And 5 years post divorce I definitely see that now!!

  • I used to lead DivorceCare groups in a couple churches. Getting the church girls to feel and express anger over how they had been treated was a ongoing issue. They were so steeped in submission to please the patriarchy they frequently felt nothing but sadness. Hence they continued to be victimized by their FW husband’s and church leadership. Getting them to describe out loud in a supportive group setting was really helpful to breaking them out of paralysis.

  • I also have sketchbooks filled with intense black scribbling done with a big fat black crayon. Writing, drawing, batting cages, my leather professional-grade punching bag, yelling in a soundproof location, crying, talking with someone I trust….there are a lot of things I can do when I feel angry. Write a list and keep it handy. I use driving time to rehearse responding to triggers like a fire drill because triggers can ambush me unawares. I have NEVER felt this level of anger in my life and trying to deny it or repress it leads to big problems. My practice is to acknowledge it, lean into it, let it go through me in a way that does not harm myself or others. It is good to know I am not alone in how I feel.

    He complained about all the books I bought. I told him, “You’re lucky I bought books. There are people who bought a gun. You’re welcome.”

    PAUSE WHEN AGITATED has kept me civil when angry on countless occasions. I want to respond, not react, in a healthy way, not a destructive way.

    • Thanks for your shares (also the Safe Coping poster!)

      It’s pretty hard defining the thin line between letting anger do its work and at the same time have these violent fantasies I’ve never had before, for anyone.

      I was recently reading Dante’s Divine Comedy and could not help myself from imagining the fw in all the different parts of hell. 🙈

      • If your version of lashing out is reading Dante, I think you’re on the safe side of the line.

      • My actions and words count. My thoughts come and go and I don’t worry about them because I know not to act on them.

  • Dear Goodbye Ginger – be glad and celebrate the fact that it happened now….that he showed his true colors now and not on your 5th wedding anniversary…or 15th wedding anniversary or…. in my case on our 30th…thirty years together. I can’t get back more than 3 decades of my life….wrapping the very same Christmas presents for the very same ungrateful in-laws year after year after year. Celebrate the fact you have TIME to start a new life. Good luck and ‘living well is the best revenge’ – live your best life no matter what. Life is short.

  • I’m eight years out from D-day and divorce. After the initial discovery, I’m pretty sure that if I could have encapsulated my anger, it could have destroyed the universe. I raged and spewed nasty words at XH when I saw him. I had a few choice words for his lady as well.

    They’re married now with a toddler. I hope they’ll be good parents. I have my doubts. XH had been stalking my Classmates.com account during the pandemic. (This after he had filed a restraining order against me when I found out about their affair 8 years ago). I’ve taken a photo of his visits to protect myself (it recorded his name) and had Classmates close the accounts due to his stalking.

    I’m more interested in getting on with my life these days. I’ve done a ton of work with therapists. Read everything I could to fix my picker. I’m at peace. After all the turmoil that assclown brought into my life, this is a good place to be.

  • For years I have had the Safe Coping Skills poster by Lisa Najavits on the wall at my house, in a location where I pass by frequently. I am in the habit of pausing I front of it during the day and seeing which tool catches my attention and then doing that. It also comes in card deck form, wallet size, and 8 x 10.

    Lisa Najavits is respected for her work on treating PTSD.

    It is a lifesaver, for me, my daughter, and has also helped people who visit me. I order a half dozen and give them away as the opportunity presents itself.

    Denying and repressing feelings leads to big problems. Having and practicing skills for processing feelings is the road through them.

    https://www.treatment-innovations.org/store/p10/Wall_poster_of_Safe_Coping_Skills_with_scenic_background_%28English_and_Spanish%29.html

  • Oh yeah, the anger… of course it’s normal, channel it!!

    I picked up boxing the first couple of years of separation and going through divorce, it’s a good intense workout to get rid of the extra rage and get and regain some sanity. I was in the best shape of my life too!

  • ….and for the record, the dick I was married to walked right past that poster all day long for years and never did one fucking thing on it. It’s on the wall right next to the doorway into the kitchen. The solution was in print right in front of his fucking face, and a German therapist was on board our entire mirage (he is first generation American with German WW2 era parents) and he blew right past all those Here’s The Right Thing To Do resources to fuck around. Proof that he is an asshole and cheating is just a symptom of what a world class asshole he is.

    My conscience is clear.

  • Just to comment on the fertility aspect of this post, to give some Chumps some hope. Both of my kids were products of fertility treatments (both are IUI kids), and I had my 1st a few weeks after I turned 36 and my 2nd a few weeks after I turned 40. But I was with a Fuckwit, so I’m sure that was a big reason why I had fertility issues. And my boys have to see a FW several weeks every year.

    One of my best friends from college, however, never settled on a man she felt she couldn’t marry and live with. She never got saddled with a FW. But she still wanted kids. She had her 1st daughter via IVF (her own biological daughter) at 44, and her 2nd daughter via IVF a few weeks before she turned 48. And she has no FW to contend with, never has to turn her kids over to a Disordered FW.

    It CAN be done. Not without hard work and some luck, but I relay this success story so many younger Chumps out there don’t give up hope, particularly when it comes to the fertility aspect.

  • Same exact thing happened to me two weeks before Christmas 2016 but I can tell you that financially I have never recovered it’s not as easy as people tell you. My discarded was 5 years ago this year and same thing he moved on with another woman off a dating app but the good news is he is now miserable and broke, “KARMA”!😁

  • I’m 9 yrs out from divorce after a 24+ yr marriage & I still have anger. I’ve been NC practically since discard.

    Several nights ago I had a dream that we were arguing about the OWhore. I was calling her OWhore this & OWhore that & he wasn’t saying much. See, the damage he caused is still in the deep recesses of my brain & subject to arise at anytime. I woke up angry & started my day being reminded of the asshat.

    I also have sone anger that OWhore was quickly discarded after discovery & he went on to marry someone 24 yrs younger. Spoiled everything over a nothing person.

  • Justifiable anger…it sometimes just needs to run its course. Hopefully, over time, anger is replaced with relief that you got out the marriage while you did, before kids were involved. As many of us know at CN, kids and divorce with a cheater is a nightmare.

    And, what is with these guys and their timing? Christmas eve?! Mine announced his grand desire to exit our marriage in the middle of a family vacation with family friends in tow. For why?!? Couldn’t just wait that extra 2 days till we’re home??? Dumbasses

    • It is weird when it seems to come to a head.

      My Dday was Christmas day, by that I mean that is when I figured it out. We were at my sons house for Christmas in AZ. I woke up early in the am and caught him out in the common grounds talking on the phone, I walked up on him and he walked away.

      He wouldn’t admit it, just kept pushing me away. The few days afer Christmas were horrendous. I was a mess, tryi8ng to catch him. We had made plans to spend NYs eve with friends. I wanted to cancel, he refused. So we went through the act. I hate myself for going through that. Should have called them and said I have to cancel as I found out my husband is a lying cheating asshole.

      He left the day after NYs day, and said he just needed to get his head on straight. I was filled with hopium, then he came back a week later and said he had been unhappy for years and had been dating for ten years, and he had been dating this girl and they were in love and wanted to get married.

      I was stunned. I don’t think I said two words. This “girl” was a fat assed town whore with two big assed teenagers and a ten year old. She hadn’t seen “girl” for many moons.

      Where do they get this shit of calling these old whores girls.

  • The anger will eventually fade, but, until then, don’t let is fester – that’s a recipe for disaster. My advice: get out and exercise! It worked for me, and I think it’ll work for you.

    My ex-wife (together 17 yrs, and raised a daughter together) gave me the ILYBINILWY speech too. And, like your situation, apparently she’d been planning her exit for a while, not to mention boinking her coworker, Sergeant Sugardick, on the side. I digress. I went through all the typical phases, as well as some repeat performances, including the anger phase. For me, breaking a sweat seemed to work off a lot of that proverbial “steam”. In turn, I wasn’t as angry, I slept better, I felt better…..win!

    Yeah, exercise…and time. I’d say, good luck, but honestly, you don’t need it…just give it time, it’ll pass. I promise.

    • I totally agree about the exercise.My anger is sure still there but I started going back to the gym and at least for the period of time I’m there and after working out the anger does subside significantly. The outcome, I’ve lost weight, my blood pressure is normal for the first time in many years and I just feel better overall.
      Sometimes I get in a slump and don’t exercise and I spiral down so I have to get back up and do something. Walking, gym, swimming— something to use up that negative energy. Sometimes I dance to music in my apartment.
      My discard was after 30 years of a mirage so my anger is quite deep. I don’t want to let his treatment of me run my life so I keep getting up and trying to work on myself so I’m not always sitting in the anger and hurt.
      One of my friends said she thinks of it as bouncing back up after she has been down so low.

  • The anger…..the fear..the uncertainty. All chumps know it well. I wish I had gotten to the anger much sooner. I’m not a violent person. Never started a fight in my life, been in a few though. No wish to relive them. I felt guilty about the anger at first. It’s not who I am or who I want my children to be. It was necessary though. I think we compare anger to violence way too much. It doesn’t have to be so. I begged and pleaded and did the pick me dance for so long that I realized I was directing all my anger to me. You can’t fight yourself. If I could I woulda knocked my ass out a dozen times and emotionally I did. For nothing. For a person who did not exist. It was hard for my friends and family to understand when I just cut it all off. Grey rock. “Why can’t you talk, co-parent…..yada yada yada. Well, we’re not dealing with a sane person. The anger for me was the final stage. I was a good little chump. Pick me, my fault, what did I do wrong, how can I fix this. How do I , How do I , How do I. Problem was there was no we. The anger goes away when you forgive yourself. You’re family and friends will not understand this unless they’re chumps too. You’re just about done with this, stay the course, don’t do anything too crazy. You’re anger is justified, but it;s only a crutch. Get pissed and then redirect it to all those things YOU want for YOU. Change the narrative. This is not the end. It’s a new beginning. One that you now understand with great capacity and knowledge, and it;s gonna be a better one.

  • Of course this is normal. Even a prescribed therapy to take a bath and beat on your bed to get your anger out. That is what I did in my acute phase and it really helped. Now, I’m never angry so much, in part, because I’m doing well. Lonely, but well. In angry and screaming at Schmoopie in my sleep and still begging fw. But now, 2 years past DDay, I just had the dream again. I unloaded, but then I felt something new… shame. So now I know when I finally see Schmoopie I will bite my tongue.

  • I keep a folder in the bottom of my dresser that has printouts of all the texts and emails and Internet garbage that I found to substantiate the split. The ex hadn’t told me anything. I found it all out by accident, which means that God showed me. To me that’s what it was.

    Why do I keep it? Why don’t I just move on and burn it or something like that? Because I need it. Because I have soft moments of sadness and wanting that life back. And all I have to do is go to the bottom drawer of my dresser and pull that out and have a look.

    Sometimes anger is a shield.

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