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Rewrite Your Story?

chumpHi Chump Lady, 

D-Day 1 for me was in 2013. He was sleeping with a colleague; she was a divorce attorney in the midst of a divorce with another divorce attorney. They were “in love” and she was “amazing” and I would “really like her” if I weren’t so “jealous.”

I pick-me-danced and “won” three more years of purgatory with this ass-tard before being freed. My ex called me from Burning Man to tell me about the exuberant sexual self-expression he had just had with some randos.

I asked why he bothered to inform me, since his behavior was, per the post-nup I made him sign post-DD1, the end of our marriage. On the phone, he insisted it wasn’t cheating, it was only “genital and anal stimulation.” He said he wanted to establish his credibility so that when he came home, I would seriously consider an open marriage whereby he could explore his new-found passion for BDSM with strangers. I asked him what I would get out of the deal, but he couldn’t come up with any ideas. I asked him what he would get out of the deal and he said, unashamedly “All of the things!” I said “No, thank you.” The rest is PTSD-laden, divorcing-a-fuckwit history (thank God for that post-nup).

While my story has provided hours of amusement to anyone still willing to listen to me complain about it, I am finally ready to move on. I want to try on some new pants for size. I don’t tell people my story so freely now and I leave out the “anal” part, since a sampling of my audience suggests this is “TMI” for the casual listener. The fact that I have got my story down to the two paragraphs above is, frankly, a minor miracle in meh-dom for me.

Along with EMDR and a new life, I am going to try another tactic to move my healing to a whole new level. When I was a kid and would wake up from a bad nightmare, I would come up with a new end to the “story;” one that was pleasing to me. When I went back to sleep, my dreams would pick up from there and the nightmare would no longer affect me.

I am going to try rewriting my history with fuckwit, cutting out the 2nd paragraph in this letter entirely, I am adopting a new ending to the story.

In my new story, I wasn’t pick-me-dancing for the booby prize and coping with it by filling a half-dozen journals with my pain, transcribing his atrocitiies, and plotting fantasies of revenge. I wasn’t spending thousands of dollars on individual and couples therapists to wreckoncile, that only enabled me to remain in purgatory with a fuckwit. And I wasn’t declaring “victory” by sending his ex-schmoopie an anonymous bag of gorilla poop (yes, the internet is an amazing tool).

In my new story, it is post d-day, and after maybe only three days of vomiting from shock and horror, I have summoned my army of family and friends for support in leaving him. I am in the car, driving my ex to his girlfriend’s house. I am arriving at her home and making him get out of the car, then locking the doors to said car. I am walking up to her door and ringing her doorbell. I am lucky that she answers. I am handing her an envelope and pointing to my confused “husband.” Then I am returning to my car and driving off into the sunset to start my new, fabulous life. I start a new day, facing all my worst fears about “losing” him, changing the locks, scheduling an appointment with an attorney, taking time off of work to properly grieve what I believed was a good marriage, and preparing my children for their new normal. I put everthing on reset, trusting that the universe will right itself because I am a Mother-Fucking Woman (thanks Keisha) and I am doing the right thing for me and my kids.

If his schmoopie ever opens the letter, she will read this: “Thank you for taking this selfish, under-earning, emotionally immature, poor-excuse-for-a-father, loser off my hands. Please do not return this garbage to me, as I will simply send it back. Good luck! Signed first name and maiden name. P.S. I have informed your husband that you now have a live-in lover.”

Thank you for all you do Chump Lady. Thank you.

Goodbye Gorilla Poop.

Dear Gorilla Poop,

I hope some new chump out there reads your story and lives the dream. That’s the point of this place — save yourself some pain, newbies. Shorten the learning curve. Read a gazillion curated stories on how this all plays out. Do better.

But to the vast majority of us who did not react to D-Day with the clarity of a Cool Hand Luke, forgive yourself. Chumpdom is traumatic and messy. If the worst thing you did was send gorilla poop, okay. No one got indicted.

(Also, I have questions. Is gorilla poop a home delivery service? Eligible for Amazon Prime? Does it come pre-lit, or is that extra?)

I accept your Friday Challenge request. CN, imagine mightier stories.

That said, while you might wish for a less mortifying start to this whole clusterfuck, remember you can always write your ending. We’re all works in progress. Triumph begins with a challenge.

TGIF!

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.
  • My pick me dance resulted in my miracle daughter, so rewriting history sometimes has the sobering fact of her absence in it. But in my non-fiction rewrite I started getting prepped for divorce months earlier, thinking it wouldn’t hurt to be ready for any disaster, and it paid off when he got arrested for a DUI and it bought me enough time to pull out and file immediately. Poor baby said HE was traumatized! I started over with now 18 yo daughter and it’s been a struggle, but no more erratically employed angry cheating lying cruel borderline pedophile alcoholic deviant to “parent.”

  • In my different ending, in 2005 (just prior to Dday) when he said “Im divorcing you because you are a bad wife, can I stat in the house until August”, rather than responders I did “but were MARRIED, we have CHILDREN (sob, vomit beg)” I say to him “Alrighty, if Im so bad, then you surely need to go now” and taken him up on all the guilt offerings he promised in the property settlement.

    In this new version, the divorce is done by 2006 or so and the annulment is underway. I rediscover my old boyfriend, long single and available (the man I eventually married in 2015). FW has to pick the kids up at our house…where he has to interact with my new husband who is taller and more successful. The kids dont have to bury their dad, they have 2 families.

    In this alternative universe, FW sees what an awesome person I bloomed into without the incessant criticism from him that I lived under but I no longer care what he thinks about anything, including his opinion of me. Every time I entertain this fantasy, there is a moment where he starts to say something to me and my non-plussed self stared back at him with complete apathy…nothing he says or thinks makes any difference to me.

    • I don’t need to rewrite my ending/beginning. Even though I only discovered CL and CN after D-Day, my instinctual reaction to discovery is one of my proudest moments.

      The FW and I met after both of our long failed marriages. He was honest in telling me of his many past infidelities. But my pride and his words led me to believe we were a better couple than that, that we had it all.

      He slowly moved in with me, as he was working out of town. The first thing he brought over was a pizza cutter. He always joked that he would know when I broke up with him because he would find the pizza cutter in the driveway.

      D-Day was a Friday afternoon. When I texted him “who is Female Name” hoping she was just someone he was doing side work for but knowing she wasn’t, and he didn’t answer in a couple of minutes, I texted him a picture of the pizza cutter sitting outside on his trailer and said “get your things out of my house today”.

      He had to work a 2nd job that night so I helpfully dumped all his tons of crap in garbage bags. (He was a semi-hoarder). All his papers, clothes, random shit, dumped in the messiest way possible.

      I never pick-me danced, I didn’t even know the term.

      I didn’t go no contact, not for a while. I did get many answers, and I did hear a lot of bullshit. I have to admit that the answers helped me get closure.

      I was broken and hurt but I knew that I would never get past the disgust, I knew I didn’t want to police him, and I knew I could never trust him (he hid it well, I never suspected).

      In my rewrite, as he slinks off back to his crappy barely habitable house, he stays there alone and depressed for the rest of his life. In actuality, he dumped his AP (he cheated way down) and is now living with a new victim, who probably thinks she’s saving him.

      Still, that pizza cutter text is a proud moment and I enjoy sharing that story.

  • I admit I find this particular exercise a little traumatizing. My own story is almost EXACTLY like the letter writers. However, part of my ex’s exuberant discovery of self INVOLVES changing the story into something utterly unrecognizable. I.e., LIES. During our years of wreckonciliation/pick-me-dancing, he fell in with a group of folks who, along with Burning Man, believed that all truth was relative. So I was constantly forced to tell some OTHER story of what happened to me and to us. Even now that we are split up he tells bizarre versions of events to everyone he knows such that literally all of his friends and acquaintances, from child hood even, want nothing to do with him, no lawyer will represent him because he just lies to them and when I present them with facts and receipts, they have to withdraw, and I basically got everyone and everything (there was very little left due to his financial torpedoes) in the divorce.

    Do I wish I’d left the first time, before he’d had years to destroy our savings and property? Before my efforts to “save my marriage and family” took terrible tolls on my own career? Yes, absolutely. But I’m not going to tell myself a fake story, because that’s why he does.

    • Almost Blue Girl, I’m sorry that happened to you— I mean your story seems a blueprint for freakdom and your boundary seems pretty clear — most “burners” should not be trusted. When I lived in Frisco back in the day, I was invited to the “first” burning man because my roommate was one of “them”. When she described the event, I wisely said no thank you. It’s a great few weeks when the “burners” leave the city and a huge bump for rehab and STI checks upon return. You’re story is awesome because you’re not a freak.

    • When we have been so hurt by lies, I see how any lie is traumatizing (I have found myself endlessly triggered by the magnitude of lies in the public forum) and this sort of exercise may not be best for newbies. For me, it helps me see how far Ive come.

      Today is the day for you to stick your spear in the ground and demand truth prevail and I applaud you.

      • Yes, traumatized by lies…the last season of “Breaking Bad” just got to me with all the lying the main character did to his wife & family. Ugh, all the gaslighting done to his adoring wife – why wouldn’t she believe him at his word?

      • Unicornnomore,

        Reading here just now I had to stop and respond to you because you hit the nail on the head for me in regards to getting triggered by lies…..I am one huge ‘hit me – here is my button’ walking traumatized person because of all of the lies flying around our planet at the moment.

        I was kinda putting 2 and 2 together in bits and pieces, (4 years since dday, 1+ year of RIC indoctrination, followed thankfully by 2+ years nc) but what has really brought it all into perspective came as a result of reading an article Velvet Hammer mentioned last week:

        https://secureservercdn.net/72.167.241.180/226.c7e.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/The-Secret-Sexual-Basement_7_6_21.pdf?time=1625615316

        The analogy used fits so well to all things that are lie based.

        Seeing it all for what it is, is traumatizing but the healing is written into the discovery as the article states.

        I love having the ‘outline’ that describes what we all experience as a result of being lied to. The ‘covert’ stage and then the ‘exposure’ stage followed by the ‘symptom progression stage’

        This has all helped with me understanding why I have been reacting so strongly to sooo much lately and now knowing that my ‘buttons’ are being re-examined from a more detached stance.

        Prior to the article my response was outrage and the urge to FIX IT, so that the status-quo can once more reign over our land so I can feel safe. (I call it my, if ‘people’ would just see what is happening they would wake up and change’). Like I could manage that! (Militant RIC training flashbacks…..)

        Now, I see it more as a process that has hit too close to home but it too shall pass just like the stuff I went through right after dday have dulled.

        I have instigated NC around triggering events/stimuli so that healing can take place. 🙂

        Thanks for your comment today as a confirmation that I am not the only one on the planet who gets triggered by seemingly random things that don’t appear to ruffle anyone else’s feathers.

        • Elderly Chump,

          I just read through the link you provided and Im overwhelmed….a very clear and thorough explanation of the abuse I suffered for 29 years. Im genuinely shocked at the levels of accuracy and detail of it all. Even after the first Dday, I would not have understood this if it were right in front of me, but I do now.

          I lived in that bizarre, foggy netherworld of being endlessly thrown off balance and abused in ways that didnt make sense…there was always an excuse (often one that sent me on a wold-goose-chase to “change”) which subsequently kept me busy trying to fix something which freed him up to commit more betrayals.

          I saw our lives as connected and our marriage as something that could be great if only we could get across some bizarre invisible chasm that I didn’t understand. Our union seemed good at times and bad at others with no factors between us that seemed to predict or spark times of difficulty. It now makes perfect sense that times when he was actively involved in a betrayal were the “bad times” even though I really never changed.

          The time from “initial discovery” to the closest I ever got to “full discovery” was 10 years. The list of behaviors they exhibit at various staged of abuse and discovery was staggering in its accuracy. This whole theory…it is the academic version of what CL has been saying.

          In this very moment, I feel sickened and validated at the same time. Im so angry that the world kept telling me that if I were better and tried harder that I could have a great marriage when in reality it was never ever remotely possible.

          Thank you for posting this. It is helpful but I also think I have a bit of a dilemma I created for myself… (this is important…please stick with me people)…

          In my childhood, I was minimized and marginalized by my parents and I reacted by “showing them” how important I could be so I chose a very difficult career path. In marriage, I was insulted and marginalized on a minute to minute basis and I (in part) reacted by cranking up the difficult of my job. This pattern has continued and I have reacted to professional peers treating me badly by cranking up the level of difficulty about as high as it goes putting myself in a really challenging position with almost zero compensation (considering the level of difficulty Im functioning within).

          Im wondering if I need to tell myself that it was never necessary to do such hard things to be worthy. Im wondering if I need to keep pushing through the current career path Im on. I can’t be too specific lest I risk my anonymity but suffice it to say it is literal life and death stuff.

          Would I have chosen this path had I not been abused? Should I still be on it? Can I help people? Does this current trajectory bring me any fulfillment or am I just trying to prove something to people? What would my life be like if I changed gears?

          Thank you EC, thank you.

          • Hello Unicornomore, I feel for you because I relate with you.
            So, here we are two chumps with a similar history and perspective and one asks the other “Am I broken?” (paraphrased).
            The answer is always, “No, you are amazing.”
            “But, how did I end up here, like this?”
            “The same way I did, with perseverance, a caring heart, compassion, curiosity, and on and on …”
            “But my freak devalued me.”
            “Your Freak was just showing who they are and what they think of themselves when they de-valued you. CL is right, you are valuable and precious so keep doing and being you!!!!”

            • XX, thank you for your kind words…it is easy to jump to a conclusion that if you sought out ____ because of something that was wrong and victimizing, then this thing must be wrong too. But maybe that’s not true…maybe I got to the right destination on a very rocky path. I do sometimes think of myself as refined like a precious metal in a crucible which burned off the dross.

              In my work, I serve a population who is hurting profoundly in the moment I interact with them and I know that if I did not know pain, I could not serve them very well.

              Im trying to figure out for myself how much crap I am willing to tolerate in this new role. In the past I let people stomp on me but Im learning from that. I think I may be able to move forward with this, but I am actively setting boundaries and will likely have to set more.

          • Unicornomore,

            Good morning. Your reaction to the article and how your personalized it really hit home. He wrote the words and descriptions and you have added the ‘practical/experiential’ piece of someone who has lived it out, as have I for decades too, in a way I couldn’t have put words to it so anyone could understand it if they hadn’t lived it.

            I get tangled up in words.

            By the way, it sounds as though you read it in one sitting which he advised against 🙂

            Just so you know, I followed his advise and read it in 2 sittings 🙂 🙂

            Before I go on I would like to recommend another book that isn’t so shocking. The authors speak to what happens to us too but I found it very comforting in that it confirmed that my feelings are right on and were right on all along but I rejected my reality in favor of his along the way ‘for the sake of the relationship’.

            https://www.amazon.com/Cheating-Nutshell-What-Infidelity-Victim/dp/1948158000/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1KRUZKBFDFL91&dchild=1&keywords=cheating+in+a+nutshell&qid=1628954879&sprefix=cheating+in+a+n%2Caps%2C210&sr=8-1

            Your comment about living in a ‘bizarre, foggy netherworld’ fit so accurately I found myself mentally jumping up and down saying to myself, Yeah, finally somebody GETS IT! Hundreds, if not thousands of incidents flooded into my mind but the ones most common were my reactions to weekends when Mr. X would be home more. I was always thrown off balance and the relief I felt on Monday mornings, when he returned to his routine work week, was tremendous. I never could figure out why. My endless question to myself was, “What is wrong with ME?” because my friends couldn’t relate.

            I also loved you description of the invisible chasm…

            Enough on that. I relate to all else you wrote too in regards to your FOO issues. I think a lot of us can as those feelings seem to be universal due to our nature as human beings.

            The moment we are born we need love and attention or we will literally die. When one has parents who can’t be there for their children due to issues of their own, that instinct gets thwarted and we spend our lives seeking approval from others in one way or another.

            Unfortunately what I learned at home I took out into the ‘bigger’ world with me unbeknonst to me that it was faulty.

            As I reread what I wrote about I have to add that I have taken great liberty dealing with an extremely complex issue and I have tried to boil it down to a very simple explantation which can’t be done because many, many factors play into why we do what we do.

            Difficult births, trauma during the first 2 years of life, physical as well as emotional problems during that time frame all play a part and there are countless other factors that play a part in the drama of how we ultimately see ourselves and our place in this world. So much is unconscious….

            Excellent literature is full of such cases so I will leave it to those experts and comment on where I am today with all that I am learning as a result of Mr. X.

            Whilst I feel shocked at all that I see now – in my marriage as well as the patterns I learned in my FOO, I am also extremely encouraged and, should I dare say it?, excited by what I am learning because, to me, it is all pointing to the fact that I AM OKAY and I ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. I am not broken.

            My instincts are intact….a bit neglected but they are coming on board slowly but surely. I am finding that ‘old dogs can learn new tricks’ and that brings immeasurable comfort to me.

            Through all sorts of self-examination I am finding that it is up to me to be there for me. That means I give myself the attention/validation I used to seek from others. This requires attention to my motivations for doing what I do and making modifications where necessary.

            Mostly I find that my expectations are out of whack. Simple as that.

            A phrase I have been quite fond of lately is ‘what if……’ and I use it in situations where I have strong reactions to something someone does or something I happen to think.

            It is really a quite interesting exercise.

            I am finding comfort in reading the Stoic philosophers too. Their emphasis always seems to point to something practical like PRACTICE a new behavior despite how we may feel or what is happening around us. Kinda like all the detachment suggestions so abundant in Al-Anon literature and here at CN.

            I have a sense that the issues you are currently grappling with in regards to career and life choices will straighten themselves out given time to ponder all the possibilities. IMO you are asking the right questions and I trust that you will give yourself time to digest all you are dealing with so that the way does become clear – or as clear as it can be before making any more big life decisions.

            (Least I toss in that we in a pandemic at the moment too wherein gaslighting abounds world wide…triggering all sorts of PTSD in those of us who have lived with gaslighting/lying as a daily diet for so long?)

            I hope you have a network of good solid friends with whom you can openly and honestly discuss whatever may come up in your search. My fiends have been so essential to me these past 4 years, I can’t imagine where I would be without them.

            While I would never wish on anyone what has happened to me I am beginning to see the beauty all this has brought into my life. Time, distance and NC do do that just like history does. The dots begin to connect and the confusion begins to unravel as they present in complex pattern of interrelated events one can never see while in the middle of them.

            Something beautiful is unfolding if I can just hold on, be patient with myself, trust those who are showing up in my new life and practice a day at a time.

            The pieces keep falling into place somehow and CL and CN play a huge part in my life.

            Okay, I am really off topic. Hope you can make sense of what is in my heart and how I have tried to express it in words here for you.

            Thanks for your words!!!!

            Take good care of yourself.

          • Unicornomore, maybe you’re just really awesome at what you do and a hard worker?

            I’d ask — does it bring you personal fulfillment or does it just all feel difficult?

            If FOO issues led you here, maybe you’re underestimating what a badass you are, to take all THAT and turn it around into a caring profession? In which you’ve achieved?

            You’re worth more than your achievements, of course, but I wouldn’t soft pedal your achievements. Lots of people face adversity and do fuck all.

            • Thank you for your kind response.

              My new role is not only hard but Im terribly new (wet behind the ears, just fell off the applecart new). However, I acted in this role the other day and in reflection I realized that I could/should have this-or-that, but even in my imperfection, I likely prevented a person from getting massively disrespected and screwed during one of the hardest experiences of her life.

              Im hoping I can learn to discern if I dont like the role or I dont like feeling new at it. What Im proud of is that I have taken my pain and crafted something lovely and helpful from it (even if I still hated the pain in and of itself).

              • Unicornomore, I’ve been lurking for years before posting and I’ve always paid attention to your posts. With this one I also have wondered about work vs personal. My parents conditioned me to never expect anything good from when I was a toddler, nothing I did was ever enough for them, then I ended up with the cheater, I was like a gift, moulded so he could abuse me. While I was still going through school I was interested in a particular field and ended up studying it a uni, much to my parents disgust and I was treated like a disappointment, unlike my siblings who did their preferred discipline. Cheater was only interested in me progressing in my career so I would get promotions and earn more so he could take even more of my money. Anyway, even now that he’s dead and I’m very low contact with my family I’m still interested in my career, I know it’s where I would have ended up and did so despite the obstacles. The personal didn’t follow a good path but somehow the work turned out ok and I’m so glad that I was true to myself with that. I think that if you are happy with what you are doing and it gives you a sense of achievement and satisfaction then you can’t do better than that – it’s enough, and you can feel proud that you are overcoming all the personal crap that you didn’t deserve and living your life on your own terms now.

              • Yes Chumpwidow,

                I too was raised by people who saw me as a disappointment. Interesting story I must tell…in 1982(my HS grad gear) my father brought a professional (military) magazine to my room to show me that his formerly all-male school/profession now had successful women in it. On the cover of the magazine was a young woman who had achieved a level never before seen. He told me I could and should follow her path. On the spot, I gave him my main 3 reasons why that would not work and was not my goal. He was disgusted. The really odd thing is that shortly before COVID, I was at an awards banquet supporting my new husband (who went to the same school as the fabled young woman) and almost 40 years later, found myself standing right next to the woman from the magazine. The unlikelihood of it all was mind-blowing. I almost introduced myself to her but was wary that I might emotionally vomit on her shoes, so I opted to keep my distance. Funny, if I had told her what I do for a living, she might be terribly impressed.

                It took years for my father to garner even a small amount of pride for me and eventually I got the best compliment that a narc can muster “I could not do your work”. My parents now glom onto my success and (even though dad lost his last dime on an ill-advised scheme) he likes to say “I must be a success, look at my kids!” (which makes me squirm).

                For the most part, my work has been a refuge from the abuse but it is also a very hard specialty. I carry around a lot of baggage of historical trauma from my work being extraordinarily exploitive which I sucked up because abuse was all I knew and I had no safe place to go. Very recently, I have found myself triggered (and ostensibly overreacting) because of shitty things from the past (and my current shitty boss who has no idea the complexity of what I do).

                My new role (which is in addition to all my previous responsibilities) has put me into disequilibrium and left me questioning myself/things. I have a firm commitment to take a certification exam in 12 weeks (which is a big deal because it would make the only certified person in my system if I pass). I am going to study, pass the exam and then reevaluate. A side note…current leadership virtually scoffed at me when they learned 3 years ago I was pursuing a masters degree in this new area. Since then, everyone with that specialty died, retired or quit.

                Honestly, I never ever saw this amount of intrigue coming at me. What is cool about it all is that working in these were my choice and my success is mine.

                Thank you for your winningness to help me process…Im an extrovert (and we process externally).

          • Unicornnomore, it might help you to read about systems theory, as relates to trauma.

            You have a drive system, a threat system, and a self-soothe system.

            Your drive system is completely overactive. It kicks in when your threat system should really come online to tell you to get the hell out of there, and/or when your self-soothe system should come online to help you calm, regulate and reassure yourself.

            Of course, they can’t come online if they aren’t built up and developed – the powerful muscles of your dominant drive system have been pumped by you over the years, the other two need “pumped up” too, and the drive system needs to relax!

            This means learning about awareness of social “danger” and developing boundaries, assertiveness and standards and a connection with your body (threat system) and forming a better understanding of ways to calm, distract, soothe, talk to and see yourself (soothe system).

            The work, and website, of Paul Gilbert and other compassion-focused, neuropsychologically informed academics is good for exploring the topic.

            You don’t need to prove anything to anyone anymore.

  • I would’ve dumped the 20 years older shitty toupee guy right when a woman called him while at my house early in the relationship and he made not one mention of me, and lied about where he was.

    That whore turned out to be his ex gf who he kept around our entire 15 years together and upon confrontation near the end first claimed they were “just catching up”, then proceeded to lie, rage, gaslight, and change his story based on what he realized I knew.

    And I most certainly should’ve dumped him when we decided to look for a house together and he hired his ex wife as his realtor without consulting me, then played dumb as to why that wasn’t ok. It was a glaring sign of shitty boundaries that I ignored.

    At least I’m free now in my 40’s and have a lovely bf. I hear he’s still alone in his 60’s (I know he still talks to the skank but when I found out about her she was still on marriage number 5, and he never wanted anyone to know about her because he can’t be seem with an Asian), still wears his shitty black toupee, and has dinner regularly with his ex wife and her husband. The shitty boundaries continue.

  • Hi, the pick me dance only works for cheaters. TMI, not wanting to be depressing anal sex, is more likely to increase risk of HIV, and other infections, herpes can be spread with using condoms. U can get specific condoms for anal sex. Cheaters and ow, aren’t know for using contraception. U can actually have hiv for 20 years and have no symptoms.
    Facts are facts. in life the only person who loves you is you.
    Words are cheap with cheaters.

  • GP/CL,

    I wouldn’t want to change the end of the story; the kids and I are doing really well and are are all the better for Ex-Mrs LFTT not playing a significant part in our lives. It will be even better in August next year when youngest daughter (who lives with me) will be 18 and will have completed her secondary education …. at that point, no more co-parenting for me and I get to drop the rope completely (yay!).

    I would, however, really like to remove the middle bit of the story. The bits where Ex-Mrs LFTT denies cheating, gives me crap about denying her an open marriage (apparently I am emotionally immature – who knew?), blows up our finances, drags out legal proceedings, lies to the Judge and her legal team, runs up my legal costs, got her a*se handed to herself on a plate in Court, establishes herself a huge “victim complex” despite being the perpetrator, manipulates and emotionally damages the children (still dealing with that thanks, and without her help) and then makes out that it’s all my fault that the children (and much of her family and none of my family) will have very little to do with her.

    The kids and I lived that in slow time and in high resolution HDTV; it was sh*t. If I get to rewrite the story, we would skip that bit and go straight from D-Day to the end. Worst case (if it were a film that I was producing), it would be a montage (edited lowlights perhaps?) and then run at double speed.

    LFTT

    PS – While the idea of ordering Ex-Mrs LFTT a bag of gorilla sh*t off of the internet has it’s attractions, I won’t. I would only end up feeling sorry for the gorilla sh*t.

  • Kind of like gorilla poop, but more… Targeted?

    https://bagofdicks.com/

    The “evil” version particularly applies to the one in this story.

    (I strive to be compassionate, good at “meh”, and generally focused on moving on, and I’ve never actually sent one of these to anyone… but you know what they say, beware the rage of the patient ones. Everyone has their days. 😄)

    • I’m a patient one. I remain calm and make a thorough plan – especially when there is a lot at stake. There will be a reckoning. And then I will move on. Gorilla poop is small time thinking. lol 😉

      Beware us quiet ones who have been scorned and have prep time. Hell hath no fury.

  • I would have started my self care years earlier, rather than responding to gaslighting with unhealthy behavior.

    I would have contacted his best friend and confirmed that it was actually our spouses who were together at the vacation house.

    I would have confronted him with evidence, instead of spackling.

    In the unlikely event he wanted to save our marriage, I would have insisted on post nup where he paid all divorce-related expenses.

    I would have been more selective about who I shared my grief with. Misery does not love company.

    I would believe the pain is finite (or perhaps I am in a disassociative state).

    This sounds like a list of chump regrets/self-blaming, but it would have laid the foundation for a brighter future. Can we cancel the pandemic?

  • Actually, my initial response was perfect. I immediately felt intense hatred for him when I found out. I left the house, I told him I never wanted to speak to him again. I went to a relative’s house and spent all night calling all my friends and family that we were getting a divorce, that he was a creepy lying cheating asshole. I went to work the next day and repeated the telling to everyone there. Everyone I knew.

    Unfortunately, I had to go back home after work that day. He was there, and apparently had a change of heart. He no longer wanted a divorce, I got it all wrong, etc. I decided to give him another chance, and fell into the RIC hellpit right away. In my defense, I will say that I only stayed with this asshole due to the fact that we had a preschool child together and it really affected my judgement.

    My decision led to years of continued cheating, gaslighting, lying, the whole package. I managed to convince myself that I” loved” the lying ratfaced bastard. I do believe it was just a way for me to force myself to stay in the marriage cause I never trusted or loved him again. Thanks, RIC, for Saving my Marriage. At least till one day I came to my senses and dumped the loser.

    • My one regret of my “day of sanity” when I found out about asshole ex’s cheating is that I didn’t expose him to his friends and family. I was just too busy that day 😂.

      We didn’t really have a lot of mutual friends, mine were work and church friends, his were high school drinking buddy and party/ bar friends. Staying home with a young child, I never saw those people. When we Reconciled, he was absolutely against me telling ANYONE about what he did/was doing. So he basically managed to keep his Good Guy Great Husband narrative intact.

      One day about three years after all this started, and another discovery of contact with the same whore, I threw him out. I told his mother what he was doing and she basically called me a liar. I was done with her after that. I also did tell one of his friend’s wife what he had been doing early on. I’m actually pretty sure she knew about the cheating cause the whore was a friend of hers. I’m not sure what those people knew but they all had pretty low morals so I am certain they were on his side even if they knew.

  • You would be surprised how many women stick up for cheaters. A neighbour of mine, actually sticks up for my ex. She said the ow, was, is more interesting, eh she’s a drug taking alcoholic, who hangs around with dubious sti bastards. Ex stood outside house and said it was my fault I was sexually abused as a 5 year old. Unfortunately told neighbour this and she still stuck up for him.
    I always knew she had a crush on him.
    When covid stuck she asked if ex was moving back in I said why would he be moving back in for, she looked disappointed.

  • I wish after Dday, I had set up my email to automatically respond to his with a picture of my middle finger.

    No verbal vomit that he would use to try to mindfuck me. No revealing all my pain and hurt. No wasting explanations of how this is abnormal and hurtful and wrong.

    Just a middle finger 🖕 and automatic emails so that no matter what kind of email (charm, pity, rage) I received, he would only get back a picture of my finger.

    🙂

    • I am on board. 😁

      My mom used to have two ways of giving the finger. One was a light, casual thing, almost easy to miss. The other was a fully extended arm, muscles taut, middle finger extended as far up as it would go, other fingers pushed as far down as they would go, wrist flexed to maximum. It was a thing of beauty. In the family, we referred to it as “the whole finger”.

      “Whoa, you just got THE WHOLE FINGER!!!!”

      So, in my mind, your autoreply contains THE WHOLE FINGER, and I am HERE FOR IT.

      😁

  • I never thought about sending gorilla poop. That would have been awesome but would have led to an even greater smear campaign.

  • I’m so glad my flight instinct kicked in right away on D-Day. I asked him to leave within hours of finding out, and gave him two days to come get his stuff.

    Complete no contact for 2 months until a friend encouraged me to get a settlement in place, and take advantage of any guilty feelings he might have. This worked very well in my favor.

    To this day, I don’t think he knows the extent of the damage he did to me. He never got to see me completely fall apart. I’m very grateful that I instinctively handled it this way. It’s like as soon as I found out, I felt so unsafe around him, I just had to get him out of my life.

  • I couldn’t get past the Burning Man reference.

    Warning: the paragraph below is only for those familiar with Burning Man.

    My ending would be that after his phone call a group of fellow-burners voted that he should be burned as the Man instead of the sculpture in the middle.
    With all that anal lube, he went up like a torch.
    🔥

  • Mine took off when the youngest was about to start college. She was still 17, so my one regret is that I hadn’t gotten everything ready to file sometime after he left and then done it when she turned 18. Thankfully he never asked for temporary visitation. Instead, I let the crazy go on for another year after she turned 18 until he kicked it off.

    I just couldn’t get my mind straight. Some days I wanted it over, and some days I was into reconciling. My life coach and therapist both said it was over, pull the plug. Some months into the divorce when it was going crazy with the two attorneys saying so, I let it all go. All I knew is that I wanted a decent settlement and to get away from him for good. It took longer than I hoped, but we settled out of court. My ex dragged out closeout like he did the divorce, but that’s done too.

    My kids had begged me for years to leave him, but I worried about what the custody battles would look like. He had been talking about divorce for over a decade and said he’d make me homeless, and then he’d feel bad a week later and take it all back. He even talked about what attorney he’d use and where he’d move to. I’m not woo-woo about words coming true, but they partially did. Except I didn’t end up homeless. It was rough financially, but it came together.

    So I was off by a year, but it worked out. One kid is out of college and working his dream job, and the other graduates in December and is winding down an amazing internship. Too bad he isn’t around to see how they turned out.

  • So many things I would do differently if I could. Starting with hiring a PI on a trip we went on with one of the OW. I would have gotten more evidence. When he was busy devaluing me and triangulating with the oh so fabulous ho-worker whose name sounds like a cheap stripper, I would tell him to pack his stuff and leave. Yes, I was pregnant and so tired at the time, but the exhaustion came from the pick me dance I was unknowingly playing. I would have wrapped up things with the attorney and had her surprise him with the paperwork.

    I will say the OW’s x husband, walked more quickly and is off living his new best life, free of his cheating wife with a cheap stripper name. I learned from others by the time the men know their wives are cheating, its really obvious (no offense guys, this is a generalization), which shows how utterly blind I was and stupidly trusting.

    • LTC,

      You are not wrong about male chumps, at least as far as my experience goes.

      It was our kids that worked it out by virtue of Ex-Mrs LFTT’s iPhone being synched to an iPad that the youngest used. Eldest presented me with a folder of screenshots that proved it all beyond doubt, although it didn’t stop Ex-Mrs LFTT denying everything and then saying that the kids and I no right to have seen them and that she didn’t have to discuss them because they were private.

      LFTT

      • LFTT,
        I can only image the sting and shock of having your children present you with the evidence. Not to mention how difficult that must have been for the kids.
        Kids are little detectives, they know when things are off. My 3 year old (at the time), knew something was off. They talked on the phone around her so much if her dad was on the phone she would immediately ask is that “{stripper name ho-worker} you are talking to?” Should have paid more close attention to what my toddler was telling me and less of what my middle aged husband said.
        Isn’t it such a cheater move to claim their privacy over the fidelity of their behavior?!

        • LTC,

          The whole situation was awful and I know that the kids agonised over whether telling me was the right thing to do. They knew that speaking to Ex-Mrs LFTT would have resulted in her lying to them and then swearing them to secrecy (they actually told me this). I’m glad that they trusted me to be the sane parent and I’m glad they knew that doing the right thing isn’t always the easy thing; I’ve told them that none of this was their fault and they have done nothing that they should feel guilty for.

          Ex-Mrs LFTT actually tried to blame me for all of this and accused me of damaging the children by showing them the screenshots to make her look bad in their eyes. Her shameless attempts at gaslighting were (and still are) quite disgusting; she just cannot accept that this was her fault and her fault alone. I also suspect that Ex-Mrs LFTT has yet to fully forgive eldest for telling me rather than keeping her mother’s secrets.

          LFTT

          • I just can’t understand how cheaters can think finding messages (that shouldn’t exist in the first place) is a bigger crime than the cheating. My cheater’s jaw dropped when I pointed out to him that if he didn’t cheat there would be nothing to find. The gaslighting was spectacular, he even persevered with denying he knew one of his whores even when I was there with a printout of their email trail conversations. It’s like he expected me to blindly believe whatever he said. He also didn’t like it when I started the divorce process and wouldn’t ‘forgive’ him. I made the point that I had never given him the same problems he had caused me and this seemed to be a revelation to him, so entrenched was his entitlement to do what he wanted.

  • THIS!! I was thinking to myself yesterday I need to rewrite endings or truths on a few things: my recently deceased father’s obit (the one that was written was sheer balogna, he was a terrible father). And my recently deceased WASband’s plethora of accolades on FB, social media, etc about what a wonderful man he was. His “best friend’s comments about what a great friend, athlete, professional he was but not telling he hadn’t spoken with him in 17 years because he’s a shit friend in addition to being a cheater. BS. I imagine the shock people would have if the truth was told. Alas, it’s not worth the time for them, but MAY be worth the time for me to write it out for me and then write MY new ending. All in all, with all the shit sandwiches in play, I have conducted myself with class and consistency. And my new mantra of sorts: I am under no obligation to make sense to you.
    NEWBIES: paraphrasing CL, this is the point of the blog, to shorten the learning curve while in the middle of a firehose of shite. Be Well.

    • A couple of times on FB I’ve seen a post about an obit that two adult children wrote for their cheating mom, about what a horrible person she was, how she cheated on their dad and that hell was going to be getting a new inmate. I was DEAD impressed (and extremely thankful I only had wonderful things to say about my own parents)!

      • I wish I could find the truthful obit “condolences” some adult child submitted about their abusive parent. A fellow chump posted the link which made the national news here in the US. The funeral home had to delete the comment because the details were so disturbing (family pets dying early deaths or “disappearing”, etc.)

  • Oh my gosh, I love this exercise.

    In real life, while we were with my midwives for a pregnancy appointment, they gingerly broke the news to us that there was an STD on my routine test. I let him give me the cold shoulder, treat me like trash, and blame me for it while we both received treatment—all while I knew, but didn’t want to believe, that it hadn’t come from me. Understanding that he was cheating, violating my consent, and giving me an STD that would be dangerous to an infant during birth, would have wrecked my whole world at that moment. So I tried to process this information, explaining it away by saying I “must have” gotten it years earlier before we got together, looking up online if it was anywhere near possible you could get an STD and have it not show up until years later, etc. It’s amazing how much you can employ mental gymnastics to avoid inconvenient truths, right fellow chumps? Ugh. Later, when our kid was 1, I was exhausted, handling 98% of the child care outside of work, working a stressful but high-paying job to support all of us, and he worked a vanity job for free to stroke his own ego while not lifting a finger around the house. When he stayed out ’til 5am one night, I found a not-yet-delivered love letter to a coworker in his bag and confronted him. I *still* gave him another chance, which he blew up by continuing to pursue her. Then I finally looked at my kid and thought “I would never want her to accept this kind of behavior from a partner, so why am I doing it?” and told him he could change jobs to not see this woman anymore, or move out. He chose to move out. Life got easier and better for both me and my kid immediately, and I am so, so glad it didn’t take me even longer. Being alone was awesome, and way easier than parenting an infant and an adult man. Now I’ve been with the love of my life for five years, who’s an amazing stepdad (and regular dad to our littlest). But I still cringe when I think about giving that loser all the best of myself way back when, and sharing my resources and time with him so freely, and to no avail.

    If I could go back and rewrite how I handled things, I would still finish the midwife appointment calmly and courteously, haha. Back at home, I would say “Hey, we need to talk” and tell him I wasn’t an idiot, and if he expected me to believe that the STD was from me, a hugely pregnant and nauseous homebody for whom pursuing men out on the town sounded quite literally vomit-inducing, rather than him, an attention-loving extrovert of a brewery employee who was out all night every night, he never knew me in the first place. I would have helped him arrange transport to his nearest friend’s couch and be done with it. I would have saved a significant amount of money and time, both with his mounting cost of living, and with legal stuff around custody. Maybe I would have met my current husband and had our littlest sooner. Who knows?

    I’m grateful for my life now but it does feel empowering to imagine another path to it.

    • All of that sounds so familiar. Mine would stay out late at night when we were dating and living together and the first 5 years of marriage. He also enjoyed picking a fight to be able to leave, so obvious now it was all to see another. He was so angry, had such severe mood swings, would yell/scream, punch walls. Now he is at a different phase where he pretends he would never act that way, and completely denies ever doing that. Oh man, just thinking back I wonder why in the hell did I stay so long?!
      I had an std show up and literally did the same thing, justifying it away. They really can do a number on our brains with the manipulation and abuse.

      • Gosh, I’m sorry that happened to you, but glad you spoke up. It actually makes me feel way better to know I’m not the only one who rationalized a freaking STD! You’re right, they really do do a big number on our brains. Thank you for the solidarity!

  • I don’t think I would want to rewrite much of my story. Maybe I would have pick-me danced a little less. Maybe I would have pushed for more $ in the settlement. I was very lucky and had the financial backing of my parents and I probably should have dug deeper into where and who my $ was going to over the last 1-1/2 to 2 years of my marriage.
    2 things my cheating husband could never take away from me was the love and support of my family and my sense of humor, he tried and almost succeeded to destroy me but I survived and flourished. Im 5-1/2 years post divorce after 21 years of marriage. I look back at what I went through and what I put myself through and I see it as a life experience. What happened to me has made me the person I am today. Stronger, wiser, happier. And now I look back at some of the stupid crap I did and let him do to me and I laugh about it, but most of all I have learned from it. Nobody will EVER do those things to mr again. I think lifes experiences make us who we are. All experiences, both good and bad

    • I’m with you, my sense of humour saved my life as did having the complete and absolute support of my family and friends. He nearly killed me but those two things saved my life!

  • I would rewrite it to find out sooner. I could have gotten out sooner. It would have been even more difficult; but I would have found the strength and courage, just as I did when it was revealed.

    I doubt I would even have had to share custody; because it was a different time when that didn’t happen a lot, and I don’t think he would have wanted her raising our son. She was already demonstrably an awful mother. In fact I am pretty sure that is why he waited until our son graduated to start the discard process.

    Also he still needed me to help him politically so he could get his coveted promotion. I am sure he promised her the spoils and that as soon as he was set, I was gone. He didn’t envision that he would be busted, and become the laughing stock of the city. Oh well “best laid plans…” and all.

  • “D-Day 1 for me was in 2013. He was sleeping with a colleague; she was a divorce attorney in the midst of a divorce with another divorce attorney. They were “in love” and she was “amazing” and I would “really like her” if I weren’t so “jealous.””

    Omigosh, Gorilla Poop, are you me? Because swap out the job descriptors for other ones and, bam, I could have typed that verbatim.

    That aside, I somehow fantasize about how I could have handled D-Day #1. I wish I would have handled it like the seasoned pro I was after D-Day #2/GF#3. I like that after GF#3/Wifetress I sort of clammed up and really stopped talking to anyone about the FW. They ask, I wince, and then they see that it’s not something I really talk about with folk.

    In my rewrite, I would adopt more of that approach after GF#1 because my mouth was on fire back then. I was in traumatized shock and would tell anyone who would listen what he had done. To get ahead of the narrative (that he had already been spreading for a few months before the reveal of GF#1), I even took the liberty of *phoning* all our mutual friends and, sobbing, informing them what *really happened.* A small part of me is still glad I did that (it really derailed the story FW and his girl were putting out there) but the larger part of me winces when I remember those phone calls I made from years ago; they were born of a knee jerk reaction to the pain. I regret putting those people in that position where I was phoning them up and dumping all my overshared pain into their ears. I’m not surprised that I’m not close with any of the people I intensely overshared with during the GF#1 days because I totally pain-bombed them. Several friends I legitimately chased away and I sincerely regret that.

    In my rewrite, I would have played it more cool and let the truth come out more organically. I would have found safer spaces to sob and rage.

  • I don’t engage in revisionist history. I have exes to do that.

    However, if I did have it to do all over again, I would never have responded to Voldemort’s first email. We traded pictures, and I got a bad vibe off the one I saw, with a facial expression that was really off-putting. But I went ahead and responded anyway, because I spackled and told myself sometimes people don’t photograph well. The rest is history.

  • I love my son with my whole heart, but if I could still have him and not have ever come across Mr. Sparkles, that would be how I would rewrite my experience with him. Because once you breed with a fuckwit, you’re connected for a solid 18 years (and beyond).

    I wish that when I had the foresight to establish a pre-nup with Mr. Sparkles I had acknowledged more directly all the red flags I was seeing and NOT have married him at all. He was bringing nothing to the marriage but lovebombing.

  • Similar to this excercise, I sometime play the “time machine” game with myself. I think, if I could go back and warn my 17 year old self not to start dating FW, would I do it?

    The answer: sometimes yes, sometimes no. The world could have been my oyster back in my late teens and early twenties because–hoo boy–FW really was an anchor. But, as another poster here pointed out, the fantasy sobers up when I think that if I hadn’t anchored myself to this man, that my kids wouldn’t be here; FW didn’t start stepping out big-time until after the kids were born. And I like that they are here.

    So, sometimes I can play time machine and sometimes I can’t. But it is fun to pretend that I could warn my teenager self and prop her up for better things in her future: “Hey, Fourleaf, I’m future you. Don’t date that boy! He just admitted to you that he cheated on his high school girlfriend and then framed the whole story to present himself as the hero and her as the bad guy. Seriously, put the brakes on your teary-eyed and see the red flags. Don’t. Date. That. Boy.”

    • Good grief, autocorrect was particularly aggressive today. I went back to change things several times and it *still* autocorrected things.

      “Seriously, put the brakes on your teary-eyed and see the red flags” was supposed to be: “Seriously, put the brakes on your heart-eyes and see the red flags.”

    • I don’t even worry about the “not having my kids” bit because I tell myself that I would still have had my kids – who are wonderful kids – but they just would have looked a bit different coming from a different father and wouldn’t have been put through the crap show of their drunk-assed dad beating mom up every couple of days!

    • I don’t even worry about the “not having my kids” bit because I tell myself that I would still have had my kids – who are wonderful kids – but they just would have looked a bit different coming from a different father and wouldn’t have been put through the crap show of their drunk-assed dad beating mom up every couple of days!

    • I have done the time machine.

      My dad wanted me to go to college and I just didn’t want to at the time. I do think if I had found out a couple things about my ex before we married, I might have backed off.

      I was also being courted by two men. One my ex, who was in the Army; but he had graduated from the same hs and me and the other guy. The other guy I met when I first moved to the new town where I finished my last two years of high school.

      I had also thought about taking the civil service test and getting a job at our local Army Base.

      It was in large part timing I guess. The first guy, had just graduated, and he was going to join the Navy. We dated that first summer. He was very sweet and we had a great (innocent) summer. Then he left, he called me again about a year later, and I was too wrapped up in the ex by then. He actually called me a couple times, just to be sure I guess.

      So yeah I have done the what if. And I convinced myself well I wouldn’t have my son; but… If I had married someone else I still would have had him, and he would be a lot taller. 🙂

      The road not taken… Who knows. I guess we all have them.

  • my divorce lawyer would have told me about post nups before the second dd. I would have had a post nup and walked away with far more of my assets intact. He wouldn’t have been able to rape me financially and abuse me every other way possible and most importantly I would have gotten back the 4 years of pick me dancing I performed. I would have lived my happily ever after 4 years earlier. kind of important when you’re a mature gal like myself.

    I am living my best life now.

  • I would not re-write my ending. To be honest I am thinking of writing a book about the marriage and end. It was crazy. Luckily for me, all of his deception had downloaded on several computers. He basically abandoned me and was interviewing replacements. Doing all kinds of aberrant things for over a decade. And of course, everyone thought him the perfect moral guy. Last time he initiated contact with me was to text he landed and loved me. After that he started acting weird. I never have seen him since he left. We have maybe spoken a few sentences when waiting for an attorney meeting to start. I was brutally discarded, BUT seeing what he had been up to and family and friend support got me through it. I kept my dignity, didn’t wait around to have the discussion he was coming home to have with me, left a note on the table I had filed- talk to my lawyer. Two years now gone by. I would surely re-write the story, but not ending.

  • TMI.

    i have to ask. what is it with the anal sex preoccupation?

    i mean, you’re married for YEARS. ON. END. and your partner starts talking about anal sex then jettisons right into BDSM terminology. previous to this conversation there has never been any talk of kink, no requests for leather role playing in the bedroom, nothing.

    asking for a friend.

    PS it seems as if out in the Nevada desert there are all kinds of aliens with anal probes

    • As the comedian Jay Mohr joked it’s about total domination. And he asked “Why would I want to do that to my wife ?!” Plus you don’t have to look at their face so they’re reduced to being a hole. I blame this all on porn.
      Andrea Nemerson of “Ask Andrea” listed how things have drastically changed in her last article since she started her sex and relationship column. She had heard it all from responding to letters and, before that, answering calls on a San Francisco health hotline. She stated “Anal is the new oral.” Also that nobody has pubic hair anymore. Everybody is expected to shave, wax or laser it off. My own obgyn told me what a disaster that is without too many details.
      There is a growing market for prosthetic anal sphincters because of damage to the region. We all grow old and have issues-proctology is a medical specialty after all.
      How is this for too much information ?
      Ps Most gay men do not engage in anal sex.

      • OMG. I need to reply to this.. my husband has been a closeted Transgender lover. Apparently both of the cheating times was because he found himself a TGW to be with because that’s the only thing that turns him off (our sex life would explain otherwise, but that’s besides the point). He said it’s all about the domination for him.
        What is ironic, is when we first started dating, he said he would never ask me for anal sex, that it was not anything he was ever interested in.. he said it was disgusting. Now, he’s balls deep into a TGW. My therapist explained that it represents a lot of negative feelings, baggage, issues in him, and I am the opposite. The good wife, who doesn’t and shouldn’t be dominated.
        Glad I ended the dance..

  • I’m in the truth camp! I’m composing my now and my future, and interpreting the past, but no to fantasy rewrites.

    After all, rewriting the story is the cheater’s game. No thanks. Have opted out of all of that.

    Indeed, trying to figure out what was going on in the absence of facts was hellish. I absolutely leaned toward generosity in trying to fill in the blanks. Maybe he was ill. Could the random bursts of anger be due to former head trauma? To a brain tumor? Oh, I invented a million reasons, all generous: stress, fatigue, jet lag, overwork. Nope, nope, and nope.

    Ex had all the horrifying facts, but he was not generous with me at all.

    That’s the reality. Good to know. No way in the world would I retreat into some fantasy that made that all better or made me stronger, more heroic, or a pillar of stoicism. Not apologizing for who I was or am.

    For instance, I did get ex out of here fast after discovery. I also completely set up his bachelor pad, including buying all kinds of things—toaster, coffee maker, throw rugs, toss pillows, towels, curtains, flatware, glasses, food—and making it all cozy. What the hell? Way too kind. Still, that was key in getting him gone, and that was me being me. Knowing that I bought, set up, and decorated his tree for that first post-discovery Christmas is in many respects much, much better than the fantasy of leaving him a stocking full of something toxic could ever be. He should have to and does have to work to turn me into a monster. Even in the depths of pain, anger, and anxiety, I was more than humane. No regrets.

    Writing the present and the future is the task at hand. Now I’m in the long journey of learning to be that kind to myself.

    For me, the awful part continues five years after discovery, and three years after divorce. Court on Monday! I have to testify—oh so fun—and it will be the first time I’ve been in the same room as ex in years. Hate to break that streak and would not choose to do so if it were up to me. On the other hand, knowing that I never did anything particularly mean or vengeful is a very good place to be heading into court. Nothing to hide. Nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing that has compromised my relationship with my kids.

    We all did what we had to do once we had the facts and could catch our breath. Just say no to those fantasy rewrites! Embracing truth is at the heart of healing and making a free and peaceful life.

    • I love what you wrote here Cashmere, and I am sticking with my truth. Not rewriting a thing – X is doing that and still making himself the victim in all of what happened. Crazy making. Survivors need to do what works for them on healing – and mine is owning my truth and staying the heck away from him.

      I remember your posts from the days when there were forums and have few of your wisdom nuggets saved. Such truth you spoke into me.

      Sorry to hear back to court for you but I know you will be ok.

      You are authentic – he is not.

      Internet hugs.

  • I wish I had made a cleaner break of it at the outset. He blindsided me when we had recently moved, I had a new job where I was desperate to impress, and had some temporary health issues. I let him stay in the house 3 months because I thought I “needed” him. The day he finally moved out was like the world was born new.

  • This is so interesting that this is the Friday challenge because literally last night I was doing something like this, for the first time in the 2.5 years since Best Regards exit-affaired and abandoned me after 18 years of marriage (20 years together).

    After trying it and reading the comments above, I’ve decided that whether rewriting your story seems healing or not has a lot to do with your particular experience with cheating and cheaters. Given my situation, I never really got “closure” about what happened and why. I’m completely NC now and am planning on staying that way, so last night I decided to write myself a letter from Best Regards as if he were being honest about what he did and why. I did it, and it was healing to a degree, just to see the words on paper that I had been a good wife and it wasn’t my fault, but my biggest realization was this…. He was incapable of ever writing a letter like that, or ever ending our marriage in a more sane and compassionate way. He lacks the character.

    It was a fascinating realization b/c I spent a lot of time during and after the divorce thinking: if he had only told me what his issues were and explained them to me and been collaborative and compassionate, we could have avoided so much pain and trauma. I would have given him the divorce he wanted, and we would have taken the marriage apart together the way we put it together, and we would still be friends today. After writing that letter, I realized, nope. He was incapable of that level of self-awareness and self-sacrifice. It was never going down any other way than the way it went down. And in fact, ripping the bandaid off like he did exposed the festering wound underneath and showed me whom I was really married to. So, it was the only way it could happen, and it was the way it *needed* to happen for me.

    So, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the “closure” I was hoping for when I sat down to write that fantasy letter, but it’s the closure I got. I hope GP has found her closure and is moving on into her new, brilliant, FW-free life. It seems like she is!

    • i’m in the middle of it.

      this post contains a profound realization and one that evokes a response in me. incapable. i remind myself daily that my X is both emotionally and thought disordered, and this helps me a lot. then i remind myself of my 2 great kids and all the emotional work they’re doing right now.

      it will be all right.

      • Yes, it will be all right; it will be *better* than all right. The day is coming when you will look around and realize that your X is not the shaper of your and your kids’ daily reality anymore, even if he’s still in your lives in some capacity; and, you will also remember what it was like when he was running the show, and you will feel such a profound sense of relief that you all escaped from his circus that you will feel almost giddy. That is such a great day–you’re headed there, and I can’t wait for you to experience it….

        • thanks, okupin. that means a lot. i know the future has much to offer and i too cannot wait to experience it.

  • Several people have mentioned that their FW was out spreading lies and spinning false narratives. That was so true for me. He persuaded me not to tell because he needed our friends as references to get another job to pay back the marital funds he stole. He used the time to spread a completely false narrative that I was insanely jealous because he gave financial advice to an on-line colleague. No, he found a “woman” at an online dating site, asked her for pornographic pictures, gave thousands of dollars at a time to to her and her friends, and planned to live forever with his twu love. HE shifted the narrative still further and wrote our child a letter claiming that he went online to help people who needed jobs and money, and trusted the wrong people.
    I should have shared the truth much earlier about his affair and how he found this woman. I’d also set the record straight on the many lies he’s told about being an MD, a veteran, winner of several international awards, and an MBA grad from an Ivy League school. NONE of these stories are true, and I look forward to sharing them at some point. He never went to that school, never got an MBA or any other Master’s degree, never went to med school, never served a day in the military, and never won the awards he claims to have won. For catharsis, I think I’ll write an obituary that sets the record straight.

    • There is a military veterans organization that goes after people who lie about military service or awards. I believe it’s called Stolen Valor. You might look into it. What a d-bag.

      • ⬆️ This.

        I’ve noticed this kind of lying more than once on Fakebook and LinkedIn. People that I know got kicked out of prestigious boarding schools or didn’t finish degrees.

        Lying about military service seems to be a good lure to scam women romantically ➡️ financially.

  • If I wanted another life, I’d dump him after our first Christmas together when we had been dating only 4 months. His gift unsettled me. He offered me a ring box, and when I looked alarmed, he said, “Don’t worry; it isn’t what you think.” But he clearly had staged the gift to make me think he was proposing. I can see now that he had planned and enjoyed making me uncomfortable.

    When I opened the box it was one of my own rings, an heirloom I had damaged a month earlier. He had taken it out of my jewelry box and had it repaired as my gift. But beyond knowing I was sad my ring was damaged, he didn’t know what he was doing. The “repair” was worse than the damage because he’d had it fixed cheaply by someone who didn’t know how to do work with antiques and had never seen the original piece of jewelry. I was upset but felt guilty for not being pleased by his thoughtfulness.

    I faked it and pretended to be grateful so as not to hurt his feelings.

    Nothing about that first gift exchange was healthy.

    So, were I to do it again, I’d break it off with him after the holiday explaining we weren’t well suited. I’d then jump in to dating my other options. Not long after I had started dating the EX, a guy I’d known for a couple of years had surprised me by asking me out. I turned him down regretfully since I had just started seeing the EX. In this new story, I’d call that nice guy up and ask if he were still available for a cup of coffee. Who knows how it would have turned out? Maybe we’d have floundered after a few dates, maybe not–I do know he is still a nice guy with a good marriage, so at least I would be starting this new life on solid ground and building a better picker.

  • Three years on from D-Day my feeling is that I should have handled things better.

    Was with her for 18 years. One daughter. A deeply loving relationship – or so I thought.

    To some degree, I still am a mess and struggling. How I wish I’d discovered Chump lady and articles such as the one by Dr. Minwalla earlier.

    Unlikely that my behaviour would have changed one iota but there may have been a slight chance of understanding why I was reacting in the way that I did.

  • As an aside to the conversation: After D-day I told everyone that he had been cheating on me for over a year. They all thought we were a great couple and were shocked. Not long ago he moved out of town, out of the town he grew up in, where he was a P/T police officer, where he has rental properties, where he knows everyone. He is ashamed that his reputation as a nice guy, a Christian, a guy that would do anything for you, was tarnished. He ran himself out of his own town.

    I never posted it on social media. But when I removed all his pictures, blocked him, his family, his friends, and Switzerland friends, several people reached out to me privately and I told them the truth. But I don’t post drama publicly.

    • ” He ran himself out of his own town.”

      My ex did that. He tried to sell his fake self in another town; but crashed and burned. He before too long after he retired left the state. I doubt he fooled many folks.

      I think once he was exposed to who he really was; he just never had the energy again. He pretty much did whatever made him happy and foremost that was gambling, and then tying up all his money in a big ass RV. The big ass RV was what he wanted, and he got it. He died a year later and left her in serious debt to pay it off.

      I don’t know if she is trying to make payments on it, or if she just simply filed bankruptcy again. My son and his family cut ties with her right after fws services, so they don’t know. She treated my sons wife like shit; so no love lost there.

      • I had an uncle like this. In hindsight, I’m certain he had a personality disorder. Raging narcissist and manipulative liar who used people. No wonder my picker got screwed up so young.

        Anyway, eventually he burned through the goodwill of our entire family and hometown, so he fled across the country and was dead a year later from Covid. Left behind a ton of debt and hoarding crap for his girlfriend to clean up.

        Narcissists are so weird. They either fool everybody OR run themselves out of town (or some combo of both). There’s still people in our hometown who mourn his death and swear he was a good Christian. I have no idea if they know about his abuse, fraud, child molestation, drug addiction, and going to strip clubs … of if they know and just don’t care.

  • Maybe it would have been about one month after we’d married and I’d given up a wonderful job to immigrate to the US, when I discovered his uncontrollable rage for the first time. Or maybe it would have been after the first time he’d hit me. Whatever, but I would have thrown my green card in his face and buggered off back to Switzerland immediately, leaving him and his ridiculous spending to most likely go bankrupt without my salary. OK I wouldn’t have had my kids but I would have had them with someone decent, hopefully. Then, about four years after we married, my former employer in Switzerland called and offered me another job, which we jumped at because it wasn’t working out in the States (FW couldn’t get a decent job – surprise). I would/should have gone back without him and back to the happy life I had before I met him. My first grandchild is now four months old and living here in France. I’m absolutely besotted (of course) and FW was supposed to be flying out from the States in a couple of weeks’ time to meet the babe. Only I just found out he had to cancel because he couldn’t provide a QR code proving he’s double-vaccinated so he’s had to push it back to March next year, when the babe will be one year old. While I hate his guts I knew he always loved his sons (that didn’t stop him from laying into them though) so I’m figuring not meeting the Munchkin (who lives here in France 30 minutes from me) will probably be heavy on his heart. Tough shit AH, maybe you should learn to live on your own for a while (he had a permit to live in France – which he loved) instead of running away (with 5 days notice) back to the States with latest schmoopie – who seems to be a bigger narc than him. Oh happy days!

  • I would rewrite my story to have had time to secure my belongings in a storage unit before I left. I left before I was ready when LTC Fuckface pulled a gun out during an argument. I had a plan but that event propelled me out the door before I could move my belongings. That fucker has my books.

    I would rewrite my story to be born into a different family. Being born to a narcissist only makes being married to a narcissist seem familiar and safe. I would be born to a mother who adored me rather than a mother who told me “I never wanted you.”

    I would rewrite my story so that I could have gone to the HoWorker’s house and confronted them. Just told her “No take backs” and walked away.

    These fantasy rewrites are appealing. Yet little can surpass the pleasure of realizing my boundaries are so tight that LTC Fuckface was reduced to sending me a postcard.

    • Proud of you 33! I understand the neglectful mother aspect. Neglect is abuse. I had a 3 hour convo with my aunt last night re my mom (her sister) and how I was raised with continuous abuse and the hands of my brother (physical emotional psychological) as my mother watched on (that’s just sick) and extreme neglect (not even speaking to me when I approached her as a child or when I was sick being left to navigate an ice cream pail and newspaper on the floor to throw up in all day long without her ever coming to check on me. I could go on but wtf.
      This is 💯 the reason we attract Narcs into our lives as adults. They spot us from afar then further observe how our own family treats us and then they know we are perfect fodder for torment. I would re-write to have a loving mother and a sister who is my best friend. Sure could have used one of those going through this divorcing nightmare. Hugs 33.

      • Thank You Chumpadellic,

        I take delight in being my very own fierce Mama Grizzly Bear. I have been able to be the mother I always wanted to my children. Therapy has helped me establish firm boundaries with my dysfunctional family. Now that I know better, I’m doing better.

        Big hugs back to you!

  • On D-day we’d been together for over 15 years. Since we weren’t married, there was no need for messy divorce proceedings, but I did want to see him once more in person. Since we lived in different countries, this was a little more complicated than just meeting at a McDonald’s. However, I’d already had plans to visit his sister when I found out that the reason he’d been so distant was that he was in an entirely other relationship apart from the one with me. (His sister, with whom I am still friends, told me. Boy was he miffed by her “lack of family loyalty”!) I asked him to meet me while I was in his city and to bring the stuff I’d left at his apartment. When we met, he realized that I’d lost a lot of weight (you know, the infidelity diet) and that chumpy me still wanted to be with him, so he took the opportunity to extract as much value out of a pick-me dance as he could. He even told the OW about me being in the picture (he’d told her we were broken up) to get her to pick-me dance too. This led to 18 months of hell, and exactly the same result as if I’d just cut him off on Day 1. In the fantasy ending, I would still meet with him, so he could see me looking good and fitting into the clothes I used to wear before menopause and grieving my mother’s death caused me to put on a lot of weight. But in the fantasy, I would recognize that speculative look and sudden affection for what it really was and wouldn’t fall for it. I would just take my stuff, say goodbye, and never speak to him again.

  • This post gave me a chance to think about this question of “would I have done things differently knowing what I know now”… I don’t think so. I have wished in the past I never married him, I didn’t let him treat me like I didn’t matter and leave me to fend for myself and the kids, even before he discarded me. But I don’t now. I don’t regret being kind and loving and giving people chances. I don’t regret having my kids and being the resourceful, reliable parent. I don’t regret being the chump, it beats the hell out of being the asshole. I wish I had been kinder to myself, but I don’t regret living through it all, going through the painful realizations, and learning from it. I don’t have to be ashamed of what I did, I wasn’t afraid to love, to be fully committed and to bear the consequences. And in the end I wasn’t afraid to claim what was mine, walk away and close the door. I lived by what I believed in and I don’t have to justify and explain myself.

    • FuckThatShit,

      I LOVE this.
      I LOVE what you wrote.
      I LOVE how you lived it.
      I LOVE how you LOVE how you lived it.

      My hat is off.

      • Thank you Light Heart. And for all the fresh chumps, in no way do I mean that it wasn’t painful. The first year was hell, but years later, I’m OK with what I have, and how I lived through it.

    • Being the chump absolutely is better than being the asshole. That is one thing I knew from the start.

      I do regret not responding to red flags tough. By that I mean in the last few months when the red flags were clear to me. During that time, there are things I regret not doing. If I had spilled the beans to our preacher, (who was also the police chaplain) when I first suspected another woman, I would have put his ass in a pinch. That in itself would have been worth it to watch.

      • I do still wonder about this too Susie Lee. Sometimes I wonder if it would have changed anything if I’d told anyone about what I knew to be true, even if I had no proof. I wonder what would have happened if I’d told the asshat that he wasn’t fooling anyone. Probably more denial. I guess I’ll never know. In the end I just needed a good enough reason to walk away and never look back and he obliged. He still gets to live in his alternate reality, but he has to live with himself and I don’t have to live with him anymore.

        • Oh it would not have changed the outcome, we still would have divorced; but I would have saved a little of my pride, and folks would have known. Even after he left, I kept quiet in large part to protect my son from everyone knowing how awful he treated me.

          But, also because I was ashamed that I could have married that.

          I know now the best thing would have been for me to be explicitly honest to our preacher and to our close friends. I doubt he was believed if he told lies about me, but still they had a right to know who they had been paling around with, and then they could have made their own decisions.

          As it turned out he fairly quickly moved out of the city anyway and stopped hanging around with the same folks. He needed a fresh supply I guess who he could (in his mind) fool.

          Lol, they couldn’t even get along with their new neighbors evidently,. When my son bought fw’s house the neighbors, and they moved in the neighbor told my daughter in law that my son was nothing like his dad and mom. She said no he is nothing like his dad, he is more like his mom; and that woman is not his mother, she had nothing to do with his raising. She wanted to make that crystal clear.

          Evidently they never told anyone in new surroundings the genesis of their tru wuv relationship.

    • Awesome post. I agree-I lived by my true values and have to nothing to justify or be ashamed of. The fw pretended to share my values but lived a depraved life behind my back. At the end of his days, when he looks back on his life, he’ll have to remember losing a loving family.

      I regret nothing. I was a good wife, a good mother, and I gave him every chance to be a good husband and father. He didn’t want to and that’s on him. When he’s elderly and rotting away in some institution he’ll regret it. Right now he thinks he’s got it made as a swinging single, but his time will come.

  • In my re-write story, as soon as I had the realization, during Dday, that my husband was a liar and nothing like the person he pretended to be, I grab my purse and run out the door, never to return. That was my first instinct and oh, how I wish I had done so.

    And I wish I’d told everyone. “Ma’am, would you like fries with that?” Me: Yes-and-I-want-to-tell-you-that-my-husband-is-a-pathological-liar-and-nothing-like-who-he-pretended-to-be-Beware! This-could-happen-to-you-and-it-is-abuse! And-fuck-Esther-Perel! **Grabs fries, zooms off**

    Like other folks here, I am now very triggered by lies. I’ve seen the ugly, pain-filled, twisted world that lies create and want nothing to do with it. Won’t be complicit. I don’t even tell white lies, and am probably insufferable as a result.

  • Mine is a tale of 2 DDs. The first was not mighty. I was gaslit and had notions of forgiveness, persevering and winning. The second a decade later opened my eyes to the disrespect and abusive behavior. I gave up hope of improvement, lined up ducks and got out. The epilogue is a work in progress that includes mightily supporting studying teens/young adults, working, studying, learning-about-all-this and generally gaining a life.

  • If I could rewrite my story, I would recognize the love-bombing and future-faking as narcissistic red flags. I would believe red flag actions like a shop-lifting incident rather than the words. I would talk to the same-sex partner that ex now says I stole her away from – without ex present – and ask for her side of the story rather than relying on ex’s lie at the time that she was basically assaulted while drunk one time, and didn’t know how to get out of the housing situation after that. I would listen to my gut and not her words. I would be more selfish and look out for me instead of worrying about hurting her emotionally. Then once I was free before tying the knot, I would have gone on to medical school and become an excellent physician, found a nice girl, and had a ton of children with her. Yeah, ex cost me medical school by spending my undergraduate tuition money and keeping me out of school so my medical school prequisites expired.

  • There was a moment before D-Day, right after the discard started, when Jackass clearly didn’t want to be at my house and was playing mind games about his plans. I told him, “If you don’t want to be here, just leave.” And he did.

    What I would change: I would let myself feel bad about his choice, but I would go “no contact” from this point, rather than spending another 3 months trying to have a relationship with someone who was cheating and lying about it.

  • I would have trusted my instincts when I thought the books were amiss at the office. I would have trusted my instincts when the disappearing acts started. I would have found LACGAL sooner.

    Divorce is recently final after 2 1/2 years. I guess not bad for multiple decades marriage. He is not compliant with the terms, big surprise.

  • I would have listened to the therapist who told me my husband had one of the worst cases on Narcissistic Personality Disorder he’d ever seen. That the chances of him ever getting better were exceedingly slim and my only chance at happiness was to get out of that marriage. That was after being married to him for 10 years.

    I was shocked. I had never heard of NPD. I read everything I could get my hands on about it. It was chilling and scary how much it described my husband. Even after learning all of that and reading respected expert opinions that corroborated what my therapist said, I still stuck around for another 19 years. More than half my life living with a severely disordered person.

    As a Christian, I was indoctrinated from a very early age to believe the only “biblical” grounds for a woman to divorce was adultery. I had suspicions he was cheating, but no proof. So as a good, Christian woman I believed I could not leave my marriage. I’m still a Christian and still attend church, but I’m bitter about all the years spent with an abusive, disordered person.

    I wish I would have acted on my suspicions back then and hired a PI so I would have had the proof I needed to leave with a clear conscience. But I was deep in denial and remained that way for 29 years until the day he moved out with massage girl Schmoopie.

    All I can do now is go forward, older and much wiser.

  • The perfect time to have left would have been after D-day #1. Emotionally, that would have been best. I love my son but I firmly believe that the souls meant to be with us will come and he might have been born to me and a better father eventually.

    I don’t want to rewrite that story, though. My focus is on living authentically and not being a liar like klootzak. I can shorten the story and remove gory details but it is the true story. I can’t change it any more than he can unfuck all those women.

  • I would have to go as far back as birth to rewrite my story. I would be born into a family where the parents were socially aware, emotionally aware, and tuned in to their children. I had good parents in every other respect. So in addition to everything good they did, I would add that they would have taught me to express my feelings, they would have listened to me when I complained of being punched in the arm by my brother, and they would have been alert to his degrading remarks and provided justice. I would have had an excellent respect for myself and would have the ability to make the decision to get away the first or second time I was disrespected by the guy I eventually married. I would have grown up confident that I was worthy of love and respect and I would have understood that I had plenty of time to find the right person. I would have had a longer engagement than 6 months, and begun to trust much slower, only as dependability showed itself. I would have learned that people who abuse others are tricky and have a side of themselves that appears so good and lovable that feeling confused is the first sign that something is wrong and warns you to take a step back and take time to re-evaluate.

    I have a little 2 year old granddaughter who is allowed to freely say, at the top of her lungs, “don’t LIKE that!” I asked a cousin, who is my age, what her parents would have done if she had said that when she was young. It was the same response I thought my mom would have had. “They would have sent me to my room.”

  • Oh gorilla poop, I can’t stop laughing about how it was only “genital and anal stimulation”. These fuckwits really are hilarious 😂. I hate that we both share our trauma over BDSM assholes. Mine didn’t cheat at the sex club he told me about because he “only went there to slap a woman’s ass with a paddle”. How, he wondered, could I possibly be so upset by that? Later, he did admit that he was fucking everything on two legs at that club. Oh really? Surprise! On DDay, mine declared we were going to stay married but that he was going to carry on with his sex slaves. His offering to me was that he would mow the lawns and do the taxes- which by the way- he never did in our long marriages because he was too fucking lazy. Well that was an offer I could refuse so I told him to GTFO. I’m glad you’re rewriting this shit show. But honestly you should write a comedy. He’s a total fool.

  • Fun exercise to think about……the more I thought about it the more I realized that this is all about how you feel about YOU today. Yes, I didn’t want to experience ANY pain in my life at any point……not a masochist. I do however know that I feel like I’m on the right path now……4 years out of d day number 2 and 1.5 out of finalized divorce. Yes, I can think of things I wish never happened….that I wish I’d met the woman I am with now 20 years ago. That would mean 5 children would not exist between the two of us and I happen to love them all, and 3 aren’t mine and two aren’t hers. She wouldn’t be the woman she is without them and I would not be who I am without mine. Actually, I don’t like this exercise at all……I wished for things to be different when I was in the throes of being a chump, pick me dancing, begging, hoping for change in them. I like being mighty much better. Would I have become this me without the XW? Who can say. Wishful thinking is for the weak and wounded. Introspection is for the mighty. Be mighty chump nation!!!

  • Well, I wasted a perfectly good cake once.

    I had just married my husband, and I’d made a new friend in the neighborhood. She was an excellent cook. I told her that my husband had asked me to please not bake anything for him, ever, but that – for his birthday – I planned to make his favorite, an Italian Cream Cake. We had just gotten married in August, and it was September. She asked me several times for the exact day of his birthday.

    So on the day before his birthday, just as my husband was going to work out, and I was getting all the ingredients together to start making his cake, the doorbell rang. There she was, in all her beauty, with balloons, a card, and an Italian Cream Cake, hot from the oven.

    She stayed only a minute, and after she left, my husband and his son were about to dig in. They were mesmerized. I was shocked. Before they could cut into it, I scooped up the cake and threw it right into the trash can.

    Oh goodness! I still can’t believe I did that. But I don’t think I’d rewrite it. It’s too good of a story now…

  • I’m coming in late, but I love this idea so much that I just have to respond.

    FW tells me on Christmas that he wants a divorce and is moving out the next week. Instead of breaking down, I go through a mental list of every shitty, nasty, selfish thing he’s done over the last 17 years and realize that I’m no longer trapped. I take a page out of his notebook: say nothing and withdraw. The next business day, I retain a feminist bitch lawyer in DC who has a license to practice in Maryland. I immediately file a petition for divorce in a nearby county on the grounds of adultery – change of venue because I was professionally involved with our county’s family court at the time. This time I don’t settle. I drag him and AP into court for a humiliating shitshow prior to judgment. The court hears that trust-fund brat AP has a history of homewrecking and that I gave up my job, home, family, and friends to follow FW to Maryland, where he immediately started cheating on me with my two closest friends before finding AP. They lie about everything – FW stupidly uses the BS smear campaign as defense – and they perjure themselves. I have a revolving door of witnesses that reveal the truth, while they shrivel in their seats.

    In the end, I get 50% of his income in alimony for life, retain the million dollar life insurance policy, and win 75% of all marital assets. I do not cry to him, negotiate with him, or drink and eat like a mad woman. I gain no weight and retain my healthy glow.

    The trial has taken so much out of them that their relationship becomes tainted. One day, FW leaves work early and walks in on his best friend screwing AP on the kitchen table. He packs his stuff and rents a dark little basement hovel where he cries himself to sleep every night over the mess he’s made of his life. A few years later, after I’ve managed to save as much as possible, he dies of a heart attack in the middle of a tennis match. I receive the million dollar payout, buy a sweet little condo in Northern California, collect his social security benefits, and open a funky, artsy, hippie store where I make & sell pottery and live happily ever after.

    I know that I can’t actually control the outcome, but since this is my story, I’m going all the way with it!

    If I could save one Chump from doing the mental breakdown and giving their FW the advantage, I would. If I could do it all over, I would save myself the time and energy and dignity. I hope begimner Chumps take this to heart and learn a little from our bad mistakes.

  • I didn’t put up with one bit more of bemused coworker texting and stayed in my home state at the end of summer instead of getting a day at the end of the school year when things had already progressed far enough with Schmoopie that she was a viable choice. *that’s my new ending* Actual ending? Thanks to coronavirus and a few smart moves on my part our financial station post d is actually equal, and he has to pay me CS.

  • Wouldn’t change a thing.

    Changing one thing would mean changing everything – I’d need an entirely new universe with different parents, a different family of origin, better psychological help being available much earlier …

    As it is, I look back and I’m actually not sorry for the whole hard slog.

    I learned so much from the hard parts, and I had such a string of bad stuff happen, all of which I had to learn from REALLY FAST.

    I learned.

    If I changed anything, I’d be different today, and I’m not sure I’d be better. Just different.

    What IS helpful for me is talking to earlier iterations of myself and reassuring them that things can and did get better. And thanking them for helping me to survive to where I am now.

  • Oh.. How I need to add to this. I wish I could fling Gorilla Poop.

    I have two DD’s, so.. I wouldn’t change the first. It showed me my own strength and challenged me to be a better person. We got married a year and a half later and moved abroad.. that has given me some of the craziest life experiences and travel that I wouldn’t trade.

    However, I would have changed the result of DD#2.. I initially did the right thing. kicked his ass out while I was travelling abroad. As a dependent on me in finally going to school, it made him have to take money out of his retirement funds to support his loser ass. He moved in with his transgender girlfriend, but lied to be about it for 5 months. About a month or two after DD I started the dance, without knowing I was starting the dance. I wish I would have trusted my intuition. We danced back and forth and I tried to be supportive and accepting of his preferences when I found out about 2 months ago, even saying I would consider an open marriage where he was free to go get his sexual fantasy fix because obviously I cannot ever satisfy that. Last week, the day before my birthday, while he was drunk again.. I kicked him out and told him it was over completely.

    I wish I would have just ended it when I first found out about DD#2. Would have saved myself the last 7 months of pain, a ruined birthday, and would likely would have been feeling a lot more healed now. He’s downgraded and will never find somebody like me, and instead he plans to spend all his savings over the next 2 years to get himself into my line of work, which he wont be able to find a job in without me. Even if he goes home, he will need to go back to school. His best option is to put his tail between his legs and sulk back to mommy and daddy back home.

    I guess, I wish I would have made changes, but like some of you have said, I am also grateful for the experience. It has helped me realize I am so much better than his lying, cheating, unmoral ass. He was not a good lover or husband, and I was always settling on him. While I don’t doubt he could be better, he is so mentally unhealthy now that I am dodging a major bullet. He’s her problem now. Enjjjoooy.

    Would love to send them both a bag of dicks.. is there an international service?

  • Gorilla Poop, you’re a great writer. Your first story captured so many of the idiosyncratic, crazy, disorienting and hard-to-explain aspects of long term abuse, infidelity and betrayal, and the aftermath. Your second story is mighty and hilarious.

    I’ve appreciated, and at times enjoyed, reading all of the responses to this challenge. Personally, I’m in the camp of chumps who can’t comfortably/honestly indulge in my own fantasy story. If I did, it would take me back to before the cheating even began. I’ve had many perfect exits (the first indeed was pre-cheating, though not perfect-abuse) but unfortunately, I always came back afterwards. (Well, until the final departure – almost a year ago! Hurrah!) One step forward, two steps back. Abuse is a cycle, which this challenge underscores. A boiled frog, I normalized the abuse and coped by numbing my feelings and lowering my expectations, for my relationship and for my life. I lost track of my worth.

    Reading everyone’s comments, it was oddly comforting to hear that almost everyone has regrets over months, if not years, of humiliating, flailing Pick Me. The fog (which Chump Queen and Elderly Chump had a relatable, insightful and earnest conversation about, above) is evident in our stories, as is the ongoing shame about our responses to the abuse and our attempts to find solutions and hold onto families, homes ans futures. Love. Somehow, seeing that these uncharacteristic, illogical and uncontrollable responses are normal and even unavoidable, when one goes through what we chumps have, makes me feel less ashamed. So thanks, all, for sharing. I can’t read the truth anywhere else, and I would feel even more ashamed, broken and unworthy of love if I didn’t have CL and CN to connect with. I hope others have also come away from this challenge farther along the path of self forgiveness.

  • Thinking about this for the last several days. Listened to an interesting podcast on this topic of “doing it differently” (different context, same message). What would I have done differently? How would I change my story? Would I demean what I have become by wishing differently? Would I take away my wonderful, fantastic kids? Would I return to who I was before HIM? What a mindfuck.

    See, what I keep coming back to is something CL said (probably repeatedly) about my not living a lie. I was honest. I stayed loyal. I was all the things I needed to be to have a wonderful life and situation for my kids, myself and (I thought) HIM. So, what would I change? I never got the chance (?) to confront the known-2 (but likely more) AP as I was still image managing for FW. Would I pick-me-dance again? Probably as I truly believed in my marriage and feared what that world “would say”. BUT…..that’s not the assignment…..so if I were to rewrite my first step first, I would tell the committee in my head to go fuck themselves (nattering on about “kids first”, “save the marriage”, and other ill-advised tripe).

    Next, I would (again) quietly pack all.of.the.FW.things and place them in his parents’ car with the parting note (new) that said:

    Dear FW’s family,

    I know.
    I know what you have been hiding for the last 6 years.
    I know why you were unwilling to attend my children’s activities, parties, Christmas, Easter and/or every other damn holiday. Why you were willing to keep my darling children at arms’ length despite their innate wonderfulness and kindness. Why you would not respect me and my marriage.
    I know.

    You saw them together. You know AP. You know he cheated on the last wife and that this AP was not the first of our marriage. You knew. You knew and kept his lies so your picture of a “perfect family” would remain. You knew and did nothing to keep my children (not necessarily me) safe and emotionally secure. You knew.every.damn.day. and did nothing. I thought you were loving “Christian” people. Now I know who you are. I like knowing much, much better.

    See, what I also know is that I lived with my integrity and loyalty solidly in place. I gave more than I took and I loved honestly. Your son cannot say that.

    What I know is that I am not the sum of his parts. I will move on up. I will thrive. Your son will still be a liar and cheat.

    What I know is that, despite your “family first” diatribe, you are incapable of empathy and true love. I am very aware of your various paths and who was on them, outside the marriages and commitments you all made. Instead of following you, I know in my deep soul that, not only do I currently, but I have always placed my family first. You can count on that, especially in divorce court.

    I know that you will deny, deflect, project and blame. Whatever. People will learn who you are when you betray them, too, so enjoy your blender.

    I know your son will get what is coming to him. AP’s husband has called me and I let him know that we were no longer together and that he may want to look at his wife’s 2nd phone (the one she keeps in her purse). Should be illuminating and stimulating–well, at least it was to my FW. You may want to let your son know he’s on the watchlist for the AP. Or not. I leave that to you, as I do everything else.

    Finally, I also know that this will be the last contact I have with anyone in your family. From this point forward, you are nothing to me. I will not celebrate your successes, support you during your (never ending) crises nor provide my hand when you ask for more than you have given. The no contact is not negotiable.

    Your grandchildren/nieces/nephews birthdays are several times a year. The enclosed parenting plan will provide those dates to you and FW.

    I wish you all that you deserve.

    Now, GTFO of my life.

    Love and Kisses,

    LOS

    ….

    OR

    [nothing at all…except the parenting plan]

    Cathartic this.
    Thanks CN.
    I needed this today.

  • Six months before my ex left the marriage to be with the OW, we actually had an incident in which I pulled him out of her house. He always denied there being an affair, claiming that she was only a friend who was a good listener. Trauma-bonded and wilfully blind, I believed him. A few days before this incident, he told me that he thought his feeling for this woman was like a heroine addiction. He knew that she was no good and that no good could come from a relationship with her, but he whenever he wasn’t with her, all he could thing about is being with her again. Then, he shared her address with me. I told him that if I suspected he was in the “heroine den,” I would get him out.

    Stupid, I know.

    A few days later, I suspected he was there. Ignored my phone calls and texts. I pulled into her driveway and laid on the horn until it forced him out of the house, garage door slowly opening to reveal his car hidden inside, carrying a little duffel bag with a change of clothes (I thought he was away for a guys’ weekend at a cottage a few hours away).

    Looking back, I would love to rewrite the story as follows:

    I let him stay with the OW for the weekend, while I invite my friends over with boxes and rent a van. Pack up his stuff. Deliver it one night and quietly unpack everything onto the woman’s front lawn. Leave a note on her front door, stating, “You chose heroin. Hope heroine is willing to keep you. My lawyer will be in touch.”

  • The bottom line is this – What everyone wants to know- were they in fact happier? Were they right to discard us? Did it actually work out for them? Do they thank God everyday that they got away? Haunting….

    • It’s only haunting if you let it haunt you.

      You can lay ghosts. You can put stakes through emotional vampires.

      You can get/create/build/decide your own closure.

      The glorious state of Meh means actually not caring if they were sadder or happier, right or wrong, worked out or crashed and burned.

      What matters is how YOU are doing.

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