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Was Anything Real?

Untangling the skein of fuckupednessDear Chump Lady,

My D-Day was in April when my daughter was 4 months old. My FW blames me for ignoring his needs since I was pregnant and too focused on the baby. I asked him what he wanted from me, and he looked at me and the baby, and said I can’t give him what he wanted.

Well, I found out that he had a snapchat account and has been chatting up his ho-worker, who apparently is sexually free like him. There was a lot of gaslighting and I briefly did the pick-me dance (so humiliating).

I was so heartbroken while trying to keep it together for my daughter. Thankfully I discovered your blog and the CN. After reading all the stories on your blog, I realized that he has never really loved me. I asked myself if I really wanted to save the relationship and the answer was sobering.

I have been with him since I was an undergraduate. I knew him since elementary school. We were young and he left me once before, being with someone else. Six months later, I took him back because I missed him. I know, so pathetic. Ever since then we got a dog, a house, a marriage, and a precious little baby girl. I just don’t understand how he can discard everything we had.

I question, if he ever really loved me or anyone. He was unemployed for a long time and I paid for everything. I was so ready to take the reins and support him. I busted my ass to keep him happy and he gave me nothing. It was not until the end, where he offered to pay part of the mortgage, since he knew I was going to file and he was going to be demoted to the position of roommate.

I keep going in circles. Was anything we had real? Did he not care enough to help me with anything? How could I let myself be with someone so selfish and manipulative? I mean, I was paying for his college loans and he just happily sat there and did nothing. No help with housework or baby. I was caretaker, breadwinner, and now mom.

I see now that our relationship was just me busting ass and making him look good. Our divorce will be final in September, but I’m still living through the trauma. I’m just left with the question: What the hell happened?

Questions Everything all the Time

Dear Questions,

You got fed up with his shit and you filed, that’s what happened. Let’s start with your mightiness, okay? You have a four-month-old child and a loser for a husband. You asked yourself, is his abuse acceptable? And you said, no, it is not. And you hung up your pick me dance shoes. And you made that motherfucker pay the mortgage.

Let’s celebrate you. You. Have. An. Infant. I remember postpartum life. Abdomen of silly putty. Leaky boobs. Segmented sleep. Lady bits are still a no-fly zone. Hormonal storms that make you weep at TV commercials. Oh, and a permanently attached baby barnacle who barfs in your hair.

It’s a vulnerable time. You’re just getting your sea legs on this new mom thing. You and that baby should be protected, cherished, celebrated. And some fuckwit has the audacity to tell you that you’re not ENOUGH? That growing a child in your body and giving birth and caring for an infant distracts from HIM?

I wish he had to pass a bowling ball through his rectum. And then get up and go wash your dishes. And have his distended guts poked, with the chuckle, “Ooh, who needs to go to the gym?”

Back to you. This guy is totally unworthy of you. You’re untangling the skein of fuckupedness, trying to make sense of why he’s this way. It’s an early days coping mechanism, and as I’ve written here many times, ultimately pointless. Judge him by his actions. He’s an ASSHOLE of the highest order.

I question, if he ever really loved me or anyone.

You loved. You were present. That’s all you control. Did you waste X amount of years with someone who didn’t love you? Probably. But it’s not a waste if you learn from it, AND you got your precious daughter out of the bargain. You didn’t languish further in an abusive, lopsided relationship. You got out. So yay you.

Whatever “love” this guy is capable of, isn’t a love that’s good for you. And I do worry that he’ll be as shitty a father as he is a husband. So, please fight for custody and document EVERYTHING you do for your child and everything he does not. Including finances. I bet that mortgage payment was to impress the judge. Remember, document, document, document.

He was unemployed for a long time and I paid for everything. I was so ready to take the reins and support him

Because you’re a good partner, and good partners help when the other is down. You expected he’d do the same for you. Until you realized he wouldn’t. And when you figured that out, you left. Don’t beat yourself up.

I busted my ass to keep him happy and he gave me nothing.

Healthy relationships are based on reciprocity. A fix-your-picker issue to explore going forward is if any of the ill treatment felt normal to you. If you’re used to being the only grown up. You deserve a partner as good and as giving as you are.

Was anything we had real?

You were real. The dog is real. The house is real. The baby is real. The fuckwit is a guy who let you invest in him and enjoyed the benefits of all your wife appliance work. It sounds like he would’ve continued to keep extracting value from you, until you put an end to it. That’s real. That’s who he IS. A really shitty, cruel person.

I was caretaker, breadwinner, and now mom.

And that’s who you still are. Only now you don’t have an abuser in your life, so you and your baby girl get to enjoy all that mightiness.

Questions, put the skein aside and focus on getting the best settlement you can get now. This is a time for hard, cold practical self-care. STD test, credit report on him to check for missing monies, debt. And full custody, if you can get it.

You’re going to look back on your life and be really proud of how you handled this. You’re modeling great things to your daughter too. Rock on as the sane parent.

And pass the pick-me-dance shoes on to the next sucker.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Talk to your attorney about having him sign away his parental rights. Plus side – no FW to co-parent. Downside – no child support (if it’s even possible for him to terminate his parental rights and fuck off forever).

    Definitely get tested for STDs. Again. Every single scrap of financial information you have and can copy/share with your attorney is for your benefit. Don’t forget the 1040s!

    You are awesome. 6 months to a divorce in the time of Covid – holy shit – you must be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound too.

    • Thanks Cupcakes, we are going through a no contest divorce and I’ve asked for full custody. He’s not fighting anything cause doing documents is his weak point.

      • Well-done, Questions. Even with full custody, though, standard decree language gives both parents equal say over medical and travel and educational decisions. Make sure your decree is changed to you having 100% full decision making in all those realms.

        Sending hugs; this is a rough transition to navigate when you have a very young infant.

        • I couldn’t get full custody, been told by multiple attorneys has to be provable physical abuse. Most likely you won’t get full decision making unless physical abuse either. My attorney worded it that we had independent rights to make those decisions. I consult asshole, he agrees so he can look good or he disagrees to be an asshole. Then I make the decision in the child’s best interest. Either way he won’t pay for it, even though he is supposed too. Just expect to have to deal with your asshole till the child is 18. Don’t expect them to follow orders, don’t expect police or the courts to do anything about it. Don’t expect them to pay 1/2 of anything or even what they are ordered by the parenting plan. Expect to be the sane and only adult in the situation. Best of luck

          • That sums up what I’ve learned. Still negotiating but he wants x time although never doing any of it. Just wants some veto power of what I do and to be able to tell me how my parenting is not good enough (when I’m the only one doing it consistently). Courts and family law don’t care, kids are just treated like another “asset”.

            • Asshole loves to rant about what a terrible mother I am. For your laughing pleasure- The latest he sends food home with the kids, cookies, hamburger helper, Mac-cheese, etc. Then rants about how I don’t feed the children and they’ve told everyone all they have to eat is soup and Raman noodles. Oldest daughter came down with cold 5 days later. I took her to the doctor, doctor is concerned she is depressed because she’s gained almost 40 pounds in the last 9 months. “But I don’t feed them”! She is suffering with anxiety and depression caused by asshole. She’s been seeing a counselor, since the doctor recommended it 9 months ago. Asshole agreed at the time, but 9 months later because he doesn’t want to pay for it- it was a unilateral decision.
              It just never ends-you have to ignore them and be the sane parent.

  • You are mighty in the highest order…staying away from this FW and continuing to rebuild will result in a workable, sustainable life for you and your child.

    I did not pull the plug even when I saw proof that I was just being used as an appliance…I bought into the idea of sunk costs and it cost me dearly.

    I wondered if I was loved only to go through YEARS more before I was brave enough to admit to myself that the answer was “no”. Gah, dont to this!! (also, when I finally admitted the to myself, the earth did not crack open and swallow me whole like I thought it would).

    If he can do this to you at such a vulnerable moment, he is capable of ANYTHING…keep running in the same direction you are currently headed.

    We are proud of you and salute your mighty self

    • Thank you so much for your support. Each day feels better but then I start going thru all the cycles of doubt and questions when I get stressed. Everyone here who has stood up and reclaimed their lives is a hero to me. I try my best each day to mirror your bravery in the face of such shitty humanity.

      • In a weird way you’re lucky. Mine dumped me when my daughter was 13. I have had all the same questions as you. But I had 26 years of wondering how on earth he faked it for so long and why be married if he cheated the whole time anyway? Also he is not interested in being a good father. I watched him fake that for 13 years too. It’s mind blowing and cruel. You will be better off not wasting another day with someone who does not have love to give. It’s not you, it’s him. Stay mighty!

        • I think so too. In a way, you are lucky. I waited another 35 years smoking the hopium and spackling like a mad woman. In the end, he dumped me. So, mighty…….I am not.

          But, I have become mighty because damned if I am not nearly a crackerjack at financial documentation, real estate deeds and contract fine print reading. He was so busy playing with his new schmoopie toy he couldn’t be bothered to file paperwork. His loss. And boy, did he lose. He was furious that the judge didn’t think he was special.

          I only wish I hadn’t let me children believe his entitlement for 30 plus years. They adopted his viewpoint of me and that cuts into my soul every, every day. Don’t let that happen to your most precious daughter. With a strong mother like you, she will not be narc bait!

          • You’re life sounds like mine. I agree that Questions is lucky to have figured this out (and found Chump Lady) so early. She is already mighty!

      • You are a strong, you are loving and you are worth your weight in gold. Never forget that and don’t let that POS drag your self worth down.
        I struggled with the question of what was real too. I think all chumps do. You just have to accept that you’ll never know. The fuckwits probably don’t even know what was real themselves. They aren’t into self awareness. But you are and you might want to realign your expectations for future partners thusly;

        1) Has a JOB
        2) Does his share at home
        3) Treats you respectfully and lovingly, including not cheating or flirting with others.
        4) Puts your needs first at least half of the time. IOW, equal give and take.

        No doubt you’ll find that guy some day, but right now it’s all about you and the baby. Much love to both of you.

        • Thank you do much for the reassurance. I often think about wanting to find someone and going thru the checklist that you listed. But I get really scared about being a single mom and dating. Will someone want me and my baby? Will I fall into the same trap? Is it too late It’s all so overwhelming.

          • For now, don’t self-medicate with other people (dating). Heal your broken heart and build a solid foundation for you and your baby. When you start dating, don’t introduce your child to the new person until at least a year.

            • The mother of one of my college mates was widowed at a young age with three little boys. She remarried and had my friend and twin brother. Anything is possible ????

          • Your D-Day was in April? Sis, you don’t even need to be thinking about finding someone else right now or whether or not they’ll accept your circumstances. My two cents, FWIW: date *yourself* and enjoy that baby girl. Do the work to understand what boundaries you’ll have in place when you ARE ready to pursue a relationship again. Keep learning YOUR value and what YOU want out of life.

            I have so many friends and family members who have been Chumped and jump into new relationships way too soon. They haven’t allowed themselves the space required to heal and heighten their self-awareness. One of my dear Chump friends just filed for divorce last week and is already on dating sites trying to find a new partner.

            I may be middle-aged and overly cynical, but I think it’s worthwhile to take a timeout after experiencing the kind of trauma you and I and everyone else here has. Do I get scared when I allow fear to momentarily consume my brain and convince me that I’ll never have companionship again? Sure. You know what frightens me more? Being a person who needs to be in a romantic relationship to feel worthy and alive. I’ll take my chances with singlehood until I feel like I’m healed and healthy and 100% sure that I want to re-enter the world of dating. I am 18 months and 8 days post-Dday and in no way am I even close.

            You are stronger than you know, and I am so grateful that you shared here ❤️

          • Please don’t even think about dating yet. I know the feeling that cheater has a partner and I need to have one too…no you do not. Get divorced, get settled with your baby and focus on your career so you can provide for your small family. This will all take a little time and once you are emotionally established and financially independent then think about dating. Oh and just because you have a child does not mean you lower the bar! In fact because of your child you set your standards even higher. No settling.

  • QE,

    It is entirely understandable to want to question “was anything that we had real?” The sad answer is “probably not to the extent that you thought it was.”

    The challenge for you now is to take the opportunity to make the future that you want real. Divorcing your FW puts you in control; you just need to put that control towards building a tomorrow that works for you and your little one.


  • Dear Questions,
    I’m sorry for your pain and I totally relate except I have that silly Y chromosome and my freakish FW, while pregnant with my daughter ran off with her tru wuv— looks like my divorce will be final in a few weeks, yet I’m still hurting and questioning me. What could I have done better? Where did I fail? Why didn’t I … you see the pattern of the silly skein that my FW tangled me in? I was the problem. I paid $10k of her bills from her secret life yet I was the problem. I wasn’t the “father figure”, I I I I I — the master manipulator gaslighting me at all costs.
    Thankfully, I found CL ( seriously, she saved my life ) and I struggled through the weekend pining for my ex: if only I did this or that. I so desperately wanted to look at her and her twu wuv’s social, I wanted to call her, I wanted to email, text, see her and all weekend I struggled through pain and despair telling myself to be strong and mighty and to continue no contact and knowing she sucks, and I made it to Monday and this post and your level of mighty inspires me and keeps me strong and sane.
    Seems I’m on Wednesday at the moment, but you give me hope. Do you see? Do you see how amazing you are? Congrats on being a mommy and I know you are awesome and your daughter is so lucky to have you.
    Thank you for you. We got this!

    • You’re awesome, too, Xioba Xioba. Congrats on making it to Monday!

      Good luck with your upcoming divorce. Here’s to strength, sanity, and the magic elixir of NC. You got this!

    • “What could I have done better? Where did I fail? Why didn’t I … you see the pattern of the silly skein that my FW tangled me in?”

      In the moments when I am kind and truthful with myself, I realize that once in his web, there would never have been an easy way out. He knew exactly what sort and amount of crumbs to throw at me at precisely the correct moment to keep me striving and hopeful. The world had told me that relationships can work if we work at them hard enough…just show MORE LOVE!

      I chose to love deeply and be devoted…the be fully committed to the marriage and family and it was all used as leverage to get my FW more cake.

      We didnt fail, we just succeeded at the wrong thing.

      • Yeah. Good point.

        The what-was-real question dogs me.

        When I look back, I see so many instances of interactions I had with my ex that were not what I thought they were. It’s unsettling to reminisce. It’s like returning to your hometown after 30 years away and seeing different roads and new stores. You recognize a bit of it, but it’s different. You feel unsteady. Your own past has become a disorienting dreamscape. You’re not sure what was real. Was that store always there? Didn’t I use to ride my bike here? I see the big oak tree, but now there’s a highway next to it. What is this place?

        Our cheaters were busy changing the landscape, messing with our reality. We didn’t realize it at the time. They deceived us. They robbed us. In the words of Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner)”… when you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth.”

        When my then-husband was staring off into the distance ignoring me, I thought he was struggling to make sense of life (what a DEEP thinker he is!) when in reality he was pondering his new love and probably planning his next tryst and/or how and when to leave me. I was in a different reality at the time. He knew I was in that reality and perpetuated it by lying. On his kinder days, he tossed me breadcrumbs–these breadcrumbs kept the world he’d created (without my input) spinning. He ruled my world. He managed its landscape. The chess master. I had no idea I was a mere pawn.

        He lied constantly, or, as he himself put it, “I lied every day for 2 1/2 years.”

        I was robbed. We were all robbed.

        I can’t forgive that.

      • “I realize that once in his web, there would never have been an easy way out. He knew exactly what sort and amount of crumbs to throw at me at precisely the correct moment to keep me striving and hopeful. The world had told me that relationships can work if we work at them hard enough…just show MORE LOVE!”

        THIS. I am gut punched with grief and I trust no one. I am anguished at the suffering of my children – 50% of which was my reaction to the abuse. So sad.

    • Xioba Xioba, I just want to say, I have been reading your commentary and you are doing amazing! Your situation is heartbreaking and you are still standing and processing and working NC like a seasoned champ! That is a testament to your mightiness. Early on especially, it seems that every weekend for me was like the one you described and I was not nearly as successful at staying away from the social media in particular. I know it does not feel like it now, but getting through this past weekend is a testament to your mightiness!! Keep moving forward, the pain is always there even down the road, but with time it becomes a dull ache that you can ignore and eventually it only shows itself in a “PTSD” moment every so often. ((Take Care))

      • Thank you Chumperella,
        I feel ashamed at times for being a chump, but then I realize from all my fellow chumps that our individual horror is our collective mightiness and we are good and decent folk— waaay better than the FWs we left.
        I look back at my March DDay and I can’t believe I survived that horror but then I see all the other chumps who are beautiful and amazing souls and I realize that I’m not alone in my tenacity and I look towards you and trust you (strangers)— trusting somebody again helps me heal— because we all are dealing with the pain and each of your stories helps me get to Tuesday. I appreciate your kind words, truly.

    • ‘What could I have done better? Where did I fail?’ To anyone new here, I suggest not asking the FW ‘why?’ I did and I regret hearing his excuses for his betrayal – which all amounted to my ‘flaws’ making him unhappy. And in my case, I was led to believe I was amazing until the discard, so a total mindfuck.
      We all have things we could do better and room for growth. That has nothing to do with why they cheated. We need to know our worth and send ourselves love. The cheating is their issue – even though it affects us greatly.

    • Xioba Xioba YOU are amazing. I 100% get what you are going to. There’s still a part of me that what’s to talk to FW and misses who I was. I think that tiny voice is just fear and it’s having last fighting breathe. Just let it die and and embrace the unknown. Your daughter is going to have a great male role model in her life. Stand strong so you can support her on your shoulders. See you on Tuesday 🙂

      • There’s a grieving and mourning process that you go through.

        It does get a lot better over time.

    • Come here and read when spells of doubt or fear or lack of confidence strike. This is a whopper of a psychological and emotional injury and this site is THE anti-venom.

    • The traitor and I were in the same marriage (mirage).

      I went for help with a therapist.

      He went to Craigslist and shopped for people to fuck.

      Simple reminders help me.

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

      • ‘I went for help with a therapist.
        He went to Craigslist and shopped for people to fuck. ????’

        Friday challenge perhaps?
        In my case: I repeatedly checked in to see if he was ok, if we were ok, if he needed anything (he was distancing)
        He became married coworkers full on boyfriend, all the while telling me all was great with us and that I worried too much

    • Hello XX

      I am sorry you are going through this nightmare. I too had weekends like the one you describe. All I could do to stop me from reaching out to ex was thinking ‘I feel bad right at this moment. If I initiate contact I will feel a thousand times worse as I would be expecting some kind of empathy, compassion, why even an apology which I knew I would never get’

      The urge to reach out would pass and I would then be super glad I didn’t go down that road.

      It’s f****n hard. Really hard but why waste your precious energy and time on someone that doesnt give a crap about you.

      Hang in there XX.

  • It’s such a mind bender being with these guys. You’re doing the right thing. I hold on to what was real for me and I try to let go of what his reality was or is. When I let my mind travel to the place of what he was doing the whole time it feels like I’m free falling with no solid ground, but that was him and his doing not mine. I was working, parenting, doing housework, taking the kids to appointments, all the things, while he was gone. We are still living together working on a separation agreement which has just provided him more opportunities for mind fucks, these guys just won’t stop. Don’t give him the real estate in your brain for more manipulation, you’re doing great things!

    • Hi Longtime Chump, this may be strange but it feels comforting to know I am not the only one who has/is going thru this. We are together in our trauma but we will get thru this. We are mighty!

      • I think that is the thread that connects humanity (or at least those of us with a soul). We aren’t alone in our suffering. I’m happy for you that you’ve come so far. I try not to regret staying so long but, I feel certain you won’t look back and wished you’d stayed.

    • LC,
      “these guys”…”these guys”…just a gentle reminder, the FW population includes gals. Women can be every bit as shallow, self-centered and manipulative as “these guys” can be.
      ~ former Chump of an estrogen-laden sparkly turd

      • Yes totally agree, not trying to leave out male chumps or avoid calling out female cheaters (it was just laziness in typing). My fw’s last ho-worker was married and her husband and I were both chumps. I’m sorry you’ve experienced the same pain.

        • I do the same thing. Although in my case I use “guys” as a unisex word.

          When I moved South I didn’t realize I was insulting some women until a friend told me. I would say thing like “Hey any of you guys want me to pick up lunch” No I try to use “folks”.

          But yeah FWs abound, in all genders.

      • Right you are. My fuckwit’s ho was a compulsive serial cheater who had probably never been faithful to her chump. She admitted to staying with him just for his money and to being happy with her lifestyle of constant cheating. There are lots of those kind of women out there and lots of equally disgusting men as well.
        Sorry you got screwed over by Estrogen Turd.

  • These are early days and you are dealing with some immediate tasks. Wondering what was “true” can be an exercise in self blame or an expensive detour into traditional “family of origin” therapy.

    You clearly brought yourself as a responsible and loving partner to your marriage. That puts you – and probably your family – miles ahead of your STBX and his sexual partner(s). And even if there are issues to work on later, the goal is to first get support for abuse/trauma and a good settlement.

    Use your resources – finacial and otherwise – to step away safely for now.

    • I really like this advice, Almost Monday. I wish I’d heard/been in a place to take it in when I was there, myself.

  • Mighty. Mighty. Mighty. What incredibly lucky child your daughter is to have you as a role model! Congratulations on breaking yourself free! I raised an amazing daughter by myself despite her father being a congenitally selfish bipolar asshole I had to sue twice for child support, despite the fact that he was a judge and made nice money. The back child support went into a fund that paid for her college at Stanford. She is happily married with 2 kids and extremely successful professionally and thanks me multiple times a year for having standards and having raised her the way I did. You are changing the world for your daughter and changing what women will accept, and I honor you!

  • Questions,

    I suggest you keep a list of all the shitty things he did and said over the years. (I have an ever-expanding Google doc.) Refer to it when you get wobbly. He’s no prize.

    I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 35 years (and thought it was actually a good marriage, such was my spackling ability). As shitty as your situation is, and no doubt it sucks, I can assure you that you are mighty to escape early. And, when you’re daughter gets older, she’ll realize what a badass mommy model you are.

    All the best to you.

    ((hugs)) Spinach

    • (Hugs for Spinach!) I keep thinking about how I was happy with FW but then I realize it was because I made myself happy and he did nothing. He never does anything yet he was so controlling. I am trying my best to navigate co parenting with him and by that I mean not screaming at him in front of people. I remember struggle with the idea of having a baby and teaching her about hard work while her father just lays around and plays video games. Well now that’s not my problem anymore!

      • I second Spinach’s suggetion. I have a list of things that remind me how useless and fake klootzak is. Your mention of video games reminded me… one of the pics I look at to remind me what a crap father he is was once when I asksd klootzak to feed the baby. I had pumped earlier and needed a nap badly. He said he would feed him. I went to the kitchen to wash a few dishes before trying to nap. I came back through the living room and there was klootzak gaming. He had put baby – 1 month old – in a boppy baby pillowand propped the milk bottled with a towel on him. No holding. No eye contact. I was furious. I took a photo as evidence and posted it on social media so people would see what a “great” father he was. And I look at that photo when I hesitate and am thinking it would be OK to share custody. Kiddo is just in the way of his gaming and picking up women and will be treated like a latchkey kid with klootzak.

        Trust that they suck but keep reminders to look back and remember it.

        Good on you leaving with an infant. I had no job when D-day hit and I was 7 months pregnant. I lost another 7 years, convincing myself kiddo needed a father around and then being ready to pull the trigger at an awful time. You are so mighty. Never doubt it!

    • “I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for 35 years (and thought it was actually a good marriage, such was my spackling ability). ”
      None of us would have stayed if they just cheated and were jerks all the time. I suspect most would ‘love bomb’ to keep us invested in the relationship. So as much as we may spackle they also utilized this form of intermittent positive reinforcement to keep us in the relationship. Realizing this and breaking the abuse cycle also makes us mighty!

      I remember about 6 years ago unknowingly describing this exact thing to my sil, telling her the good times were so good that I just hung on waiting for them again. She said that didn’t sound so fun for me, and she thought he was a narcissist and wouldn’t blame me for leaving. Fast forward to now and she won’t communicate with me at all. I get that family is family and they stick together, still stings as I thought of her as a friend. Sorry for the long unrelated rant.

      • That’s the other thing that baffles me. His side of the family just showed me how blood is thicker than betrayal. They wouldn’t stop bothering me when we were together and then no word from them after we separated. All the talk of me being family is out the window. And no one seems to be bothered by his actions. It feels like my feelings are not validated. I felt a little crazy since no one reacted to the news. I guess blood is blood.

        • It’s baffling and hurtful. I hosted his family every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter for nearly 10 years. His sister and I navigated motherhood together. His family complained about him and all his faults nearly every time we were together. Now that I’m throwing up the divorce flag, they’re done with me. I feel like it’s a testament to his family’s deep seeded toxicity. I would say don’t look to them for validation, seek that internally. I know his family knows why I’m done, and if they choose silence that’s ok, I’m not looking for their approval. It’s likely your x comes from a toxic family, just keep moving forward and let him be their problem to deal with (as much as it hurts).

          • I was dropped instantly, after 26 years. It was a double betrayal. I reached out once, and the response was traumatic. I have come to understand that the people I reached out to were material in creating his disordered character. They were part of the problem. I had spackled them too. FOO issues had caused me to idealise them as well as the ex. It is difficult to let nourishing people into our lives when we are bonded to the vampires. It takes courage to shut those vampires right out (easier for me because I don’t have children). The FWs come from somewhere. They are not immaculate conceptions. I am more careful now in all relationships to look at the whole picture, warts and all, to help me to understand what I am dealing with. It’s important to pay close attention to the warts!

        • I lived near and took care of my ex’s family and family properties (falling apart and packed with junk) for well over a decade. My former SIL’s kids were my niece and nephew, born several years into my relationship with FW. If it wasn’t for my efforts, they would rarely have seen us. Even though FW was the classic fun uncle, the kids were much closer to and more comfortable with me. FW had no idea about how to behave around or connect with these two wonderful children and always criticized them, and his sister’s mothering style, as soon as we left. He never made or bought them a single thoughtful gift, and he straight up told me he felt nothing for them (I should have believed him).

          My ex-SIL and I worked together to support her mother through major surgeries and mental illness (and narcissism!), and we did the best we could to support her brother (my ex) through alcoholism and recovery and whatever else he was struggling with. In retrospect, I carried most of it, but I’d felt like she was the only other adult on my team. When it came to family get together, I often initiated or hosted, and I always made things easier. I made an effort to bring positivity and warmth and went out of my way to make gatherings and celebrations special. That wasn’t their family’s way, though I was raised that way. (Reciprocal? No. Lesson learned.)

          Even during the craziness of pre-DDay 1 discard and all the ups and downs of the two years that followed, I remained close to my SIL. She lived nearby, and her kids were like family. She saw her brother’s disfunction and wanted it to “work” but eventually saw it likely never would – so she wished (but did not tell me) for me to escape. She validated everything I said, and shared how much she respected and admired me and was sorry for what had happened. Then I learned my SIL, and even her friends, knew about the cheating (some of it, based on my ex’s twisted narrative) for months before I did. She also knew way more than I did for the following year and a half. She visited me, she witnessed my pain, she watched him get scary and she saw me lose my home and more, and she never had the courage to tell me. When she shared this in genuine remorse, after I left for good, I realized I needed to cut all ties with that family, including the kids I adore because wouldn’t be fair to put them in the middle of it by continuing to visit and send birthday cards, etc. (I almost wrote CL about this, but I was just trying to postpone the difficult break I knew I had to make.) Hearing SIL’s parting words, “He still cares so much about you,” I knew what I had to do. FW is still lying, exSIL is still spackling, and the avoidance, cowardice and dishonesty in that family runs deep. I still care about her and her kids, but they cannot be part of my new life. She was family to me, but I was not family to her – just like with her brother and mother.

        • Yes, I think it is inevitable that most of their family will just accept it and move on away from the betrayed. Not all of course but most.

          My mother in law and I were very close, I mean sister like close. When it all first hit she styed by my side. She stayed for as long as she and I both though he was going to come back to his senses. But as soon as I told her I am done, she began the discard of me. I think she was very angry at me because she hated the whore and she thought I could save him. I couldn’t.

          If I had been more honest with her about how awful he treated me in the last year, maybe she wouldn’t have turned on me so bad, but likely not.

          Truth was she had to depend on him, so she had to figure out a way to deal.

          I don’t know, I am not taking up for them; but I kind of get, they just want to go back to “normal” as best they can. They are stuck with the fw, they know the truth, even if they won’t admit it. So they spackle and continue on. Like you said blood is blood.

          I did keep my friendship with his sister. We still catch up regularly today. The only time we ever spoke of FW, was when he was real sick. Now that he is gone, we don’t speak anymore about him.

          • Yea it sucks. I’ve lost 2 sets of in laws due to bad behaviour on their siblings/ son side. 1st stopping contact was also my choice as it would have made me feel still married to keep contact/ but 2nd H-FW’s family dropped me like a hot potato- and I was so good to them. They wholeheartedly embraced OW because as long as the prince is happy…
            Not even an email during COVID …Shallow water.
            -when I meet my next (healthy) person… I will be leery about investing too much into his family that’s for sure.

  • Hey there Questions Everything,

    I know how hard it is to accept this, but they are so fucked up and confusing that you will never really understand the “why.” Who the fuck leaves a woman who has been supporting them financially and has just given birth? It takes some kind of crazy to tell someone holding a newborn that they (the adult man) needs more attention. I know because my ex FW did the same! He got all pouty because the baby was taking my time — boo the fuck hoo.

    I mean — think about it. What a douche. It takes some kind of selfish prickness to do that. And you’ll never understand — because THAT’S NOT HEALTHY NORMAL BEHAVIOR! At some point, you’ll reach “meh” and just come to peace and acceptance. You’ll shrug and know that FW’s broken and a complete idiot.

    Was it real? It was for you. As for him — he’s a stunted childlike self-serving dope who floats from thought to thought based on his needs in the moment. So does it really matter what his perspective of it was?

    You are mighty! You will be just fine — and then some! Sending you love and virtual hugs.

  • it sounds like you did everything and he did nothing. Why did he not have a full-time job or even a part-time one? there not soul mates she tells him what he wants to hear. Being a dad hopefully will make him act better or responsible.

  • Hi Questions:

    I can’t think of anything in life that destroys in on fell swoop the past, present and future like betrayal and finding out that the person you are married to is not at all who you thought. Even a terminal cancer diagnosis can’t take away your past. For me, I thought I was this savvy, discerning woman, only to find out I wasn’t. I was a person who could be played and lied to, by a man I never really knew at all in a fundamental core way. I only thought I had. It makes you doubt everything, like there is no north star, like there is no compass and no way home.

    Was any of it real? I think for these disordered individuals, it is as close to real as possible for them, but they don’t think and feel like healthy people do. Is it possible for a healthy, loving married person to betray their wife, mother of their newborn, and waltz away without regret or concern? No. Is it possible for your husband, my husband, and the spouses of the men and women on this site? Yes, it happens all the time. I can’t understand it any more than I can understand how Bernie Madoff fleeced and impoverished his own family and friends, or how Ted Bundy killed all those young women. The normal mind and heart can’t fathom it. And never will by, the way. One day you will accept that you can’t understand how these people think, and that is both sad and freeing.

    But there were many real things. That amazing little baby daughter? 100% real. Your love for her: real. The beauty, joys and sorrows of motherhood: real. Your job, your home, your family, your friends: real. And also true: your love for your husband: real. Your support, compassion, and honesty with your husband: all beautiful and real. Despite his inability to appreciate or reciprocate it, it was 100% real from you.

    One thing I can promise: when you are going through this hell it seems endless, but there is an end to it, and you will have peace and honor back in your life.

    • I remember saying to him ‘who does this?´ (It was a hit and run, bomb drooped the day we were to have a big family celebration and right before a big family vacation). Zero unhappiness with me or our relationship had been uttered – despite numerous check- ins from me (this was a 2nd marriage and I wanted to make sure we were on track).
      His answer ‘ I’m sure all kinds of people do this all the time all over the world.’
      As CL says – they do not bond properly.
      It’s sad because the dream is destroyed, but in our dream – we weren’t in love with someone of so little integrity, with so little character.

      • Yes. So much of what we have to mourn was our own belief of the loving, solid person we thought they were. My ex always told me that because his father had left his mother when he was 6, destroying his childhood (his words), the one thing he never could be was unfaithful.

        When I found out he actually had no qualms about cheating at all when it was his d*** at issue, I knew anything he had ever tried to project about his character was an absolute farce. Grieve the person you wanted to be/ thought you were married to, because in reality he never was that person. Let yourself off the hook for being a believing person with an open heart. We need more of those in this world.

    • Thank you. That was beautifully written. This experience IS sad and freeing.

  • Never one time have I read a letter sent in to Chump Lady and thought that the chump was the slightest bit responsible or the relationSHIT should be saved.

    Cheaters the people who f**k them should stick together, but that wouldn’t be any fun. For the cheaters and people who fuck them.

    Infidelity is a Bernie Madoff experience. We get ripped off and abused by a con artist pretending to be a partner of some kind. It is off-the-charts disorienting. And CRUEL.

    I have to land, feet up, with the consolation prize that a cancerous predator is being surgically removed without anesthesia.

    Yes, the tumor was real. You didn’t know it was there while you were busy with life. And then you discovered it and it is being removed.

    Your prognosis is excellent.

    • TYPO…

      “Cheaters AND the people who f**k them should stick together, but that wouldn’t be any fun. For the cheaters and people who fuck them.”

      • I saved that document V. All these years later, the only thing that really still pops in my head is the emptiness of those years. Likely because we share a son and in real time, I thought those years were filled with real love, laughter and tears.

        I almost with he had said, I really loved you but then things derailed. But, no he had to make sure that I knew that not only had he cheated for most of our marriage (if not all of it) he never loved me at all. It was an act.

        What help me a lot of course is I have many years of real memories with my now H and all our grandchildren. He is 81 now, and still as sweet and caring as he always was.

        I do wish I had access to CL and to you VH when I was going through with it.

        • He is incapable of love. That’s the thing. What a sad existence that would be.

        • My FW also said “I never loved you and I want to divorce you because you are a bad wife”….he could have said “You are a good woman and I thought that I loved you but I have decided to leave this marriage. I hope that you find happiness”

          but no

          he refused to on any of his feelings or actions, it was pure blame

          • Yup.

            “I don’t love you any more and I never will again. But don’t talk about divorce [because you Have Use to me domestically]”

            And all the what a bad wife I was.

            He is now on Stranger #6 who tossed my children out and made them homeless because she doesn’t want any reminder of a previous life. But now they haven’t got the kids to side against, that is going belly up as well.

            I saw a photo of him. He looks absolutely terrible, 20 years older. It doesn’t look like Freedom has been everything it was cracked up to be.

          • These fws are bat shit crazy.

            When fw wanted to come back it was “oh I just said all that to make you hate me” “if you hated me, this would all be easier” Well good job asshole, I hate you. You accomplished your goal.

  • QE: maybe, just maybe, you are meant for so much more than a tiny life with a little-minded fuckwit. You are now free to design a life of your choosing with the beautiful daughter. Lock him in legally on issues like child support and college funding, and let him run off to the nethers of other fuckwits. (SERIOUSLY… what woman wants a man who just abandoned his wife and new born daughter… she is no one for you envy, likely just as disturbed as your fuckwit… they’re drawn to each other like dryer lint.)

    You can and you will build a wonder-filled life. Don’t waste precious time looking backward, you’re not going in that direction. You are stronger than you feel and mightier than you know. Keep coming back – your meh is out here.

    • ´SERIOUSLY… what woman wants a man who just abandoned his wife and new born daughter… she is no one for you envy, likely just as disturbed as your fuckwit… they’re drawn to each other like dryer lint.)’ I used to think about that a lot. I even used it when I was pick me dancing. I said ‘ she must be a dimwit, you’re married, cheating and going to dump your stepchildren one day to the next and replace them with her kids!’
      The irony was lost on me. I was trying so hard to get lying man with no integrity – a manipulating, discarding, passive aggressive, covert narcissistic back! We are worth way more.

  • I am biased, because I am a mother. For me, the hardest part of the realization, separation, and dissolution of my marriage was due to the fact I had bred with a FW. The love bomber afterwards hurt my pride, and made me even more cynical, but the good things I took away from these relationships were my children, of course, and the driving desire to change my chump self. I no longer cared why my ex’s did what they did. It made no sense to me, or to them evidently because they both tried to come back and “be forgiven” for the “mistake(s)” they made. But I wasn’t buying it anymore. That was my first new boundary, the ability to say NO, for my benefit, for my kids, with no remorse or regret, or care it it hurt anyone’s feelings. For the first time in my life, I put myself first. I realized if I didn’t save me, there would be no one to save my children. That lit a fire in me that changed my life.

    I had been programed from an early age to accept a position in life that was “less than” because of my gender. I was supposed to clean up messes, forgive faults, keep every thing running smoothly, and carry all the planning stress with no assistance or complaint. I was supposed to have a subordinate career, so that I could take care of the children and the home as well as work. I had to face all my FOO programing, and my ex’s expectations, and resolve to reject all of it, if anything did not ring true to what life had taught me. It was a long, sometimes painful transformative experience, but it was so worth it in the end.

    Custody is not handled well in our legal system. I fought for primary custody because even though he made more money, I had to be able to make decisions, on the spot, for the benefit of the kids. Medical, educational, sports, music, socializing. I could not wait and discuss it with him because he wasn’t present, even in the few times he was actually there. I had done it all while we were married, and I insisted I must do it all when we were divorced. His only job in the marriage, by his choice, was to provide income. So he was supposed to provide child support, and he usually did, though sometimes it was late, and I just had to “deal” with that. I had juggled when we were married, I continued to juggle. That is part of the punishment for breeding with a FW.

    I really didn’t care when he saw the children, at his convenience, because I knew it wouldn’t be “convenient” for very long. After 20 years, I could predict certain behaviors. He saw them a lot in the beginning, testing the waters for any resistance on my part. Soon, the visitation subsided. Later, I had to remind him he had promised the children certain things, and they expected him to show up. My children loved their dad, but they were smart enough to figure out his faults, and know they could not depend on him. His narrative is that I turned the children against him. The kids know that is not true, every one who really knows me and who stayed in my circle knows the truth. He can only “manage his image” with strangers.

    Letting go of trying to figure out why disordered people do things is very liberating. Just stay as far away from disordered minds as you can. Use your precious time to find joy in your life. It is a much more rewarding experience.

    • Thank you For sharing Portia. I dunno why but it dawned on me after I kicked him out that I still have to see him. Trying to move on while seeing him every week really tests my patience. But alas, it the result of breeding with a FW. I think he’s trying to be a father now just so he can manage his image with his family. It’s all very robotic to me. There is no humanity. He is just going thru the motions of being a father, which he says he doesn’t feel like one. He had nine months to figure it out but all he did was play games. I hope my daughter will never be trapped in his pathetic web.

      • You need to protect your daughter from future heartache by having an emotionally absent father. Your daughter will take her cue from you. Treat ex as an after thought, someone not worthy of trying to please because that’s what she’ll try to do, please him and he will only let her down. Give him no significance, never trash him but feel free to chuckle and shake your head at his “antics”. Hopefully he’ll formally desert his “parenting” as that is what he really wants to do but may stay in the picture for appearance sake. If you offer to let him off the hook for child support that may be the deal to make to get him out of the picture. Besides it seems getting child support from him would always be a battle.

  • Hi Questions Everything all the Time,
    Over time I have found comfort accepting that in regards to my ex, nothing was real when it came to love, marriage, commitment and family (now I have Strawberry Field Forever stuck in my head). It was all a carefully crafted Potemkin Village and me and my children were nothing more than props for 20 years. Image management, was our purpose in his life. When he left for his much younger and pregnant schmoopie true love (who ended up having a termination and going back with her husband) one of his brothers mocked him – “don’t tell me the ultimate family man left his family”. As part of the facade, I was unable to see it but clearly others did.

    I have also realized that just because it was not real for him does not mean it was not real for me or the kids. That knowledge has made it possible for me to reframe the past and see things for what they were – the kids and I built a strong authentic family together with our own beautiful memories in which he was just a prop. He was never really an active participant anyway; he would just grace us with his presence for social media photo ops. All things considered, after the dust settled and the crazy left the building so to speak, there was nothing to miss because there was no real relationship to begin with.

    It will take time and right now your plate is flowing over and then some, but eventually your will find a way to reframe this chapter in your life that brings you comfort. I am beginning to think that is what meh feels like. ((take care))

    • “He was never really an active participant anyway….”

      True for my ex. He was busy doing whatever the hell he pleased with no regard for his kiddos or me. I remember liking it when he was away. All those years and I never recognized this as a red flag.

      So, for the most part, few good memories include him. When we do reminisce about happy times, he’s not in the picture.

      By the way, I spent the better part of the weekend with my adult kids and two grandchildren. I cannot tell you how calm, happy, and relaxed all of us were. Had FW been present, there would have been tension. It never ceases to amaze me how one pathologically quiet man could so negatively affect everyone’s moods. A skilled covert narc, he controlled us with his silence.

      We’re well rid of that selfish abuser. Had he not confessed to an affair, I would still be with that man. I’m not young (60), but I’m young enough to have a second shot at a FW-free future.

      p.s. He wrote to me last week to ask if there was any chance I had his medical file. I used to jump when he made such a request. I’d spend all day looking. It felt great to write back a simple “No.”

      p.s.s. I know this man. I think he wants me to worry about his health. My thought: “Nope. Not now. You fired me from the job of worrying about you. Go cry to schmoopie. I don’t care.” FREE AT LAST!

      • Hi Spinach, I am so happy for you and your family – you just gotta, love those FW free weekends and the new memories that we are making that are not shrouded in some invisible narc tension .

        My ex was so much like yours I could have written this: ” He was busy doing whatever the hell he pleased with no regard for his kiddos or me. I remember liking it when he was away.” The funny thing is, at the beginning of our marriage, easily the first five years, I beg, beg, begged him to be a part of the team. I picked me danced with multiple hockey teams, work friends, high school buddies, buddies from college, other women – although he always insisted they were just friends, his family of origin, his oldest sister (that is a whole other sick story that I cannot believe I missed as a red flag parade), I can go on and on… get the picture. I was constantly coming up with ways to make us a strong family with a strong dad, but the truth is he was happy as a clam having us compartmentalized out of probably 70% of his life. Eventually I gave up and focused on building a life for me and the kids with him having a bit part. About 3 years before dday, he actually commented on how the kids and I were a team that he really wasn’t on. The strange thing was, he didn’t seem jealous, or hurt or even seemingly feeling left out, he was just making an observation. I remember thinking to myself, well buddy you forced us into this situation with your indifference, what would you expect?

        He tried to make this dynamic an issue post dday during the divorce battle: I never had enough time for him because I was so focused on the kids, I neglected him, parental alienation that started while we were married yada, yada, yada; but given the way he left and didn’t look back other than to feel sorry for himself and blame me it was clear to even his attorney that it was nothing more than a sad sausage act.

  • To the original poster: Was one or both of your parents volatile, hostile, angry, and unpredictable while you were growing up? I could have written the same letter as you, and I think some chumps take absurd amounts of crap because they had one or more malignant narcissistic parents. I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s so common and I know so many women in our shoes. It doesn’t seem possible that actual monsters exist, but they do. They hide themselves very well.

    • I think they folks just know how to hide themselves.

      In my case I had great parents, not perfect parents but great supportive ones.

      My fw always worked and in fact he worked part time jobs so I could be full time mom until our son hit first grade. Then I went part time.

      I honestly think that is when things went awry. He really didn’t want me to work, but his mom and I convinced him it was good for me and us. However, it did free up time for him (and money) and it was then (in hindsight) that he started spending money on other women.

      I think they just hide it until they are ready to monkey branch. Or until someone outs them and they have to work themselves out of their own shit pile.

      My fw was lying through his teeth to the end. Our sex life up until the last few months was very active, and he was pretending to be all family man with me and to the public. I am sure a few guys knew what was going on, but they kept it to themselves, then when whoever it was could cause him the most damage he or she dropped a dime.

      To clarify, she was his direct report, and he had recently got a major promotion and he had gone to the city counsel to petition for a raise for her, who he was fucking like a crazed teenager.

      One of the city counsel men who I knew said that the counsel wanted him fired. They evidently settled for defrocking, and putting back out on the street. (it was a police department)

      He paid a huge price for that fat little whore. I would be lying if I said it didn’t put a bounce in my step when I found out what happened to him. I only found out because I read it in the local paper.

      • Karma! He deserved what he got. My FW was cheated on by his whore who he “loved more than he has ever loved anybody. He would have done anything for her. “ she just wanted a sugar daddy. Yeah you and me -we are free!

        • I am glad you got to see the Karma also. I think it helps. I think most of the time they get it, but some don’t get to witness it.

          I have no doubt the fat little whore he was fucking was after a meal ticket. He wasn’t the first married cheater for her, (she couldn’t compete for the single guys) just the one stupid enough to get hooked.

          If she ever cheated on him, I doubt he ever found out. I do know he cheated on her because my daughter in law told me. Whore made a big deal out of leaving him, but she wasn’t going to walk away from that paycheck. Not even after he gambled them into bankruptcy, because it was still better than where she came from. So she ate shit sandwiches and hung on to the meal ticket.

    • My father is pretty narcissist and has a volatile temper. I was walking on eggshells growing up. I guess we take our childhood into our adulthood.

      • To Questions: I think there is a connection between growing up with an angry father and falling in love in high school, marrying young, and then clutching that marriage through hell and high water. Personally, I was desperate to leave my home at a young age, and I believed in the fairy tale and the sanctity of marriage until d day. I didn’t see it coming. Never in a million years would I have believed that my devoted boyfriend then husband could have ever betrayed me. I didn’t think he had it in him. My pick me dancing lasted years after d day. What a waste of my youth.

  • It’s hard to remember to look forward and not back. FW presented as Mr Wonderful, so it felt like a 100% loss when I was suddenly discarded for OW. It felt like she got all the great stuff I had been getting. Regardless of how they were with us (and sounds like most of them were shitty beyond the cheating) they didn’t have integrity, character or the capacity to love in a healthy way. These things are real for sure.

    • Yeah, Zip. I, too, felt this massive loss when I was discarded. I felt she’d won. I felt she must have been so much better than I to attract him away from me. She’s much younger. She’s more attractive. She’s (fill in the blank). I felt incredibly rejected. (Honestly, I still fight this feeling.)

      On DDay, when one of my sisters said, “He’s no prize, ” I was shocked. I thought, “Of course he’s a prize.” Such was my delusional thinking.

      In truth, he was abusive. (The first person to point this out to me was my adult son.)

      This OW is now with an abusive man. Does he abuse her? Who knows? He couldn’t have gotten a character transplant, but I don’t care. The fact is that he treated me and the kids poorly. And, as you point out, like all cheaters he “didn’t have integrity, character or the capacity to love in a healthy way.”

      • Ow in my case was 15 years younger, very attractive with a great job. So who cares! There will always be people who are younger, or super attractive or whatever.
        That’s a fact. I don’t even have to say that married with kids OW was a selfish, entitled, cheater (which she is). It doesn’t matter who she is.
        My worth is all about me. I’m really feeling this more and more as I read, as I learn. They are doing their own disordered dance, and it’s not going to affect my value or ability to have joy anymore. I won’t let myself be a bit player in their movie. And it is a movie, FW was an empty actor- so they can act away together – I’m having a real life.
        -and personally, I don’t find it hard at all to understand that a person in a marriage can lose out to a mate poacher. If your spouse is willing to look elsewhere there will always be someone who can come along and give them ‘more’ at any specific time. I mean that’s all they’re doing… all they are doing is looking good, sounding good, acting like the prize of the century and constantly feeding ego. That’s not how I want to be in a relationship.
        In a real healthy marriage we have moved past that courting stage into something more honest and meaningful. At least the non FW’s have.

  • Questions,
    You sound like an amazing person and your heading down the right road. Don’t ever be embarrassed about your past pick me dancing. Your a good person who wanted your marriage to work, you invested in a family and your schmuck invested in himself. I was fortunate to not have children with my schmuck.
    I understand the whole idea of examining the “was it ever real” thing. This was one of the biggest obstacles for me to get over.
    I understood the pain, heartache, confusion, fear and anger. But there was something else there I couldn’t put my finger on. I felt like I was living in a bad lifetime movie where the police knock on the door and tell you your husband has been arrested for (fill in the blank) and you politely tell them that they have made a mistake because your husband would never do such a thing, he was a wonderful guy and everyone loved him. And you quickly find out the person you slept next to for all of those years was a total stranger. Its very scarey and surreal. I spent months trying to figure out if he ever loved me, I even asked him and he just stared at me blankly, making me more confused. I don’t think these narcissistic a-holes have the ability to love anyone.
    I would say facing the truth that you got mixed up with a schmuck and going no contact/grey rock immediately is your saving grace. I wish you the best Questions!

  • Dear Questions,
    Unfortunately when you have time to think back you will realize not much was real when it comes to your relationship, sorry. Like everyone has been saying, you are real and that’s all that is going to matter for you and your daughter. You were handed the key to a prison you didn’t even know you were in. Take it and run far away as fast as you can! Once you’re far away with a nice airtight divorce and 100% custody of your child, then you can look back with some clarity at what you just escaped and grieve what you thought you had. He is not a good person, he is no material for a partner or parent. He may have been good at pretending for a while but he is too lazy to even keep up with the lying. It’s a blessing! Trust that he sucks, you’ll be ready to accept that and move on when it’s all said and done. He is a form of parasite who lives at the expense of the person who believes his lies. Unfortunately he lives on real love, energy, time and money, all yours up until now. If he ever tries to Hoover you back (he might when the financial reality of losing his bread winner hits) remember he just showed you who he really is. The cruel person who abandons a new mother and a newborn, that’s the real him, don’t fall for it again. Once you do the work of looking back you can fix your picker and make sure that it won’t ever happen again. Sounds like you’re still young, you’ll be OK. It may not feel like it now, but it will be.

    You are mighty, get rid of him and get ready for a wonderful fuckwit free life with your beautiful daughter.

    • “He is a form of parasite who lives at the expense of the person who believes his lies.”
      Well said!

    • A guy who looks at his own child, and the woman who cared for her, in her own body for 9 looooong months, and birthed her, and then says something like-that’s not what I want…. Never forget that! This is a shallow seeker of thrills. If he ever comes back, sniffing around for you, or your daughter, DONT FORGET.
      This makes me so shocked, and mad! I have a son who would love to be a father, but hasn’t had any luck finding a nice woman. Oh well, if it’s meant to be, it will be. But who are these guys who hate children? And good partners? Stop wasting people’s time!
      At least OP got away.

  • I just want throw my support behind your decision to divorce
    In 1993 when my daughter was weeks old , my husband came to me while I was nursing her and told me “this isn’t what I want”. I had no idea what he was talking about. I couldn’t fathom that he would reject what we had – a house, a family, a new baby, each other. We had been married less than three years. I was 29 years old
    He had begun acting out in the late stages of my pregnancy but I didn’t understand.
    He became completely rejecting cruel and angry. I called my mother and said I need to come home I need to get out of here. She said if you wanted to leave him you shouldn’t of had a baby and wouldn’t help me leave. I didn’t think I could leave him on my own – with no support
    I felt ruined. I felt I had no choice and I stayed. And I stayed and I stayed and I figured I could build a life around him eventually he would come to his senses
    He never did. Yet never left, he remained cruel neglectful, narcissistic and eventually began cheating. After D day one he promised to stop and he promised to be better. It lasted I think 36 hours.

    . I just hung in there investing denying reality thinking somehow I had the powers to make everything OK-
    for almost another 30 years. When I finally filed for divorce he was I would say displeased but he didn’t really do that much to try and stop it
    Our divorce was final this past June 30. It was delayed by Covid it might have been a few years earlier.

    I do feel better having finally gotten away from his abuse. I have a decent settlement but I’m starting over completely in my 50s

    The hardest part is dealing with what you’re dealing with, but after 30 years.
    I am real my kids are real, and as was pointed out – my devotion and love were real. Was he real? I think I’m learning that he wasn’t.
    You made an excellent decision, dodged a bullet and gave yourself an opportunity for a new life

    • If I had left the first time my FW put one foot over the line, I’d have hurt one daughter. Instead I spackled, I stayed, I had three more children…and if I leave now I hurt four adult children and their partners, all of whom I adore. My advice to young women – GET OUT WHILE THE GETTIN’ IS GOOD.

      • WCBO: I take it you have not separated or divorced. Your adult children all have partners & presumably they are not financially dependent upon you. How do you know that they are not hurting for you, as they witness you staying in an abusive relationship?
        Two years ago I felt like I would hurt my almost adult kids, but I had 2 in college and an adult child who will never become independent due to his disability. The other adult children were on their own. The one adult child who I could never seem to have a comfortable relationship with told me after I filed for divorce, “I was losing respect for you.” Now that relationship has changed for the better. Two then came forward & said they could see it coming, another said why did it take so long. The one with the disability actually asked if he could change his last name to my maiden name! It was only after I made the decision to divorce & I moved out, that the kids felt free to tell me how they really felt.

    • Oh, your story breaks my heart. If I had been your mother, I would have said, “Come home, honey, and we will figure it out.” I wish your mother had been kind enough to do that, although I’m sure she thought sticking it out was the best course. We know better today, don’t we? And if there had been Chump Lady, you would have had the support of a community. But 30 years ago is like another world.

    • Meanwell,
      I’m sorry you didn’t get the support you needed from your mom. Glad you’re away from him now.

      Good luck.

      p.s. I found a journal I kept when I was pregnant with my second. At 8 months I wrote that Mr. Spinach was “disgusted with my body.” I entertained eating less but (wisely) concluded that doing so would not be good for the baby. FFS! I was 8 months pregnant, and I hadn’t gained excess weight!! And he was a physician!! What the ever-living fuck is that attitude? And how did I not recognize it as cruel and monstrous? #stockholmsyndrome

      • Thank you.

        You’re always so supportive
        How does anyone Discuss this with adult children? It’s such a mixed message

        I loved your father too he is your father you should not feel devalued being his child, But he was so cruel I had to divorce him, He loves you but he was abusive and rejecting of the family?
        Please do not accept his perception of me? I did not stay because I was lazy or unambitious or boring I stayed because I wanted to protect you? But I can’t tell you what I want to protect you from

        it’s so difficult to figure out the right way to handle this

  • Yes, I churned away for quite a while trying to figure it out, even well into the divorce process which was driving both attorneys crazy. Mine was a long-term, “gray” divorce.

    I finally decided that it really didn’t matter anymore if it was real for him or not. It was real for me, and I took it seriously. When he left, it wasn’t real for him anymore because people who truly love and care don’t do that. They don’t throw their families into chaos like that. Even if they don’t want to be married anymore, they handle the divorce with maturity and a decent attitude even if they feel hurt and upset. They don’t see it as a burn-the-bridges opportunity to make a final statement of how little they think of you.

    Thankfully I had no custody issues and got an agreement requiring no ongoing contact. Getting there took over two years, but we got it closed out.

    • ‘Even if they don’t want to be married anymore, they handle the divorce with maturity and a decent attitude’ yes this is what non-cheaters would do. they would also try to work things out when they see the relationship needs tending to.
      Healthy people separating also wouldn’t Blameshift and take no responsibility for their part.

  • I think we throw descriptions around too easily but he has all the traits of a sociopath. They are usually charming, but very pushy. They WILL get their way. They do not care about anyone, including their own children. The best thing you will ever do is leave him, or throw him out. No, he never love you. He does not love his child. Whatever is screwed up in his brain is permanent.
    Get on with your best life.

  • What in incredibly strong woman you are. New baby, covid and you’re getting it done. Stay strong and leave your emotions at the door. This man does not deserve to be a father and husband. You’re going to have a great life. You’re an amazing mother. You can do this absolutely.

  • My FW left me (for the first time; I took him back after he cycled through a few girlfriends and he predictably left me again for the woman who would become GF#3/Wifetress) a few months after I had our second/last child together. Our two children are only a year apart so it had been a long haul for me of pregnancy, breastfeeding, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. I had two babies in diapers and was exhausted. He was “unhappy with how his life had turned out” and began seeing GF#1 shortly after our second child’s birth.

    Yeah, a lot of us here know the pain of breeding with a FW and then getting swiftly discarded.

    For myself, I look back with the question “Was any of it ever real?” in mind and accept that, no… it wasn’t. People around here sometimes swap out the word “marriage” with “mirage” and that makes a lot of sense to me. For me, my H was an actor in the marriage play (he was a good actor too!) and he discarded the role when a better part came along. To ask myself if our relationship was real would be like asking if the play I had just watched on stage was real. No, it was not real; it was a stageplay. He was acting.

    Well, I sure thought it was real at the time. That’s how convincing the play was. It’s like when you get fully absorbed in the story of a book, play, or movie and forget, for a while, that it’s not reality. But that’s where the comfort comes in. *I* thought it was real, even if it wasn’t.

    And now that the mirage is (thankfully!) out of my life I have a sense of “realness” about me, my history, and the decisions I make that… well, I didn’t have that before. It’s exciting feeling this real, making real choices about my life and knowing that I am the captain of my own ship. I’m not being gaslight anymore which also heightens this feeling of being real and fully present in my own life. It is very exciting.

    When I look back at the years of my marriage/mirage, it feels like a greasy, smudgey blur. It doesn’t matter anymore, to me, how many smiles or happy memories there where throughout the decades of our relationship because they are stained by his confession that “I just married you because I didn’t want to be alone and I thought you were the best I can do.” Yes, that’s devastating and disappointing to acknowledge that I don’t feel like our relationship was real (All the world’s a stage after all) but, alternatively, it’s also very, very exciting. I’ve been taking stock of all the things I did in my life before I met him and I was a pretty ambitious, kick-ass girl before I yoked myself to him and I’ve done so many exciting things since the mirage ended.

    No, I don’t feel like it was real. But, now that it’s over, I have a heightened sense of what real feels like.

    • Yes, all that ????!

      There is a drastic difference between the “before” and “after”. They are just trying on different clothes and shedding them off easily when they don’t like them anymore. You will feel more real in your life without the X.

      After almost 4 years I can look at how my XFW lives with his girlfriend and I can see that they are just playing house (the ink on divorce papers is not even dry but hey, who’s going to notice, right?). How else do I know he’s not real is unfortunately through my kids. They don’t want to take anything they care about to X and girlfriend’s house. They are angry and they let their anger out when they feel safe, with me. They only feel at home when with me. That’s what you don’t want for your daughter and sadly some of us have to live with.

    • I think, one of the reasons it feels unreal, is because we give up so much for the pushy FW’s ! I know I did. Always deferring to him. You slowly become a shell, always catering to another. My life was not going in the way I would have liked, but, I was happy I was married! And having lovely kids! It never changed, but got more obvious, as the years went by- we were only ever doing what he wanted. It was not sustainable for me, and I got depressed. I worked harder, he worked less, and spent more and more of his time and money on his hobbies.
      Now that I’m out, left him years ago, I do what I want to do, like camping and kayaking, traveling to wild places, all things he had zero interest in. I gave up my important, spirit-filling things, for a guy who didn’t like me that much. I do accept the mistake was mine, I wanted to be with him at the beginning, but I didn’t know he wouldn’t want our relationship to have some equality! That’s on him.
      This is why it’s so much better to leave when you see how it’s going, they don’t change.

    • “It’s exciting feeling this real, making real choices about my life and knowing that I am the captain of my own ship. I’m not being gaslight anymore which also heightens this feeling of being real and fully present in my own life. It is very exciting.”

      Absolutely. I wouldn’t trade this for the mirage, even at its best.

  • I had to leave the page and go away and think about this before I replied. So many lies, so many years, so obvious in retrospect. Was it ever real? Maybe in the first few weeks after we met, when I was his new sparkly toy and far better looking than anyone he’d been with before. But that doesn’t last – I read a quote recently: “Show me a beautiful woman and I’ll show you a man who is tired of fucking her”. I believe that quote to be true (just look at all the Hollywood beauties cheated on, both sexes.) Was it real two years after we married when he made a throw away comment about “there must be a drug dealer on campus who looks like me. People keep saying Hi to me and I don’t know them” – I think now he was probably “talking” with other coeds and was afraid one would encounter him when we were together. Was it real and true when our baby was an infant and he told me an improbable story about a “drunk who came into the house while he was asleep and demanded a ride to a nearby town”, so FW got out of bed and drove this stranger home instead of calling the law on someone breaking and entering? I asked, “What did you do with the baby” and he told me he held her in his arms while driving a stick shift truck at 3am. And I believed him because I loved him and would never question his stories! Was it real in 1986 when there was a bad blizzard on the East Coast and he phoned me around noon and told me he was going to wait in a bar with his boss while the traffic cleared before coming home…and someone from his office called me at home about a wreck involving the child of a FEMALE coworker and somehow, the person at the office seemed to think my husband would know how to get in touch with her. He said she wasn’t in the bar with them but they’d figure out how to get in touch with her and I believed him. How about in 1987 when he “went to Puerto Rico” for a week for his work and came home with no suntan and no souvenirs – was he REALLY there? When I was working 80-90 hour weeks in labor and delivery and he phoned the doctors lounge to ask if I wanted a sandwich, was he REALLY concerned, or was he checking to make sure I wasn’t on the way home? When he was a church elder and having “meetings” every other night for months, was that REAL? I’ll tell you what was real: the STD he gave me two months before our 49th anniversary. That was pretty damned real. And once I got that diagnosis, there was almost nothing in my history I could look back on, not one happy or sad memory, and feel confident that I REALLY knew what was going on. All it takes for one of these bastards to cheat on you is that you should love, respect, and trust them. You cannot defend yourself from treason by your most intimate ally. You cannot be too beautiful, too smart, too rich, too kind, too generous to cheat on. The betrayed spouse is helpless from the get-go, because cheaters have a black stinking hole in their soul where their honor should be.

    • Sounds like what my wife is doing now except we don’t have sex and I sleep on the couch. My youngest child leaves for school and I’m leaving the 25 years too.

    • So strange how they use the same playbook!!. When I was pregnant with two little ones, my stbx disappeared and later called that he had been kidnapped and miraculously escaped. The kidnapper then forced him to drink hard liquor and enroute home (a state away) got pulled over for a DUI and needed bail money so he called me. I questioned him because wow what a tall tale. He swore to God it was true and me thinking he was a true Christian man with integrity would never sware to God unless it was indeed true. So being a the chump I am believed him.

      Later after Dday he told me back then he was intent on abandoning his family and drove out of state. He drank while driving and got a DUI attempting to come back home when Schmoops turned him down. I was plan B.

  • Was anything real? That is the million dollar question. I also ask myself that over and over again as I baby step my way through the fog that engulfed me in a 38 year marriage. It’s the most difficult part to take in, because it continues to overflow into the present moment as I question the reality of perhaps, everything. It’s a painful process to change up and get through.
    These unconscious people do not want to change for anyone, they are happy with who they are. They will only get worse in their ability to deceive you and hurt you as the years progress, complete masters of manipulation and genius at deep dark deceptions. It’s really frightening to realize that even exists!
    I’m am sorry for your pain. It is a miserable place to be.
    My own daughter is 29, she continually picks narcissists to date and tries to save them all, tells me if she ever did marry, she knows she will divorce. She feels unsafe in intimate relationships and very distrustful of ppl’s intentions. She dreams of having children some day, but feels that slipping away. She happens to be a beautiful, gifted, successful musician with a kind loving heart that was damaged by the second hand smoke her disordered father blew on our family with his decades of hidden serial cheating and his random anger blow ups that had everyone confused and walking on eggshells all the time. You don’t want that for your baby!
    They don’t just hurt you, they hurt your kids. You will get your daughter free and clear of that level of madness, giving her a safe secure environment to grow up in, that alone is enough reason to dump his ass out the door.
    Healthy parents have their families needs front and center in their lives and would never dream of destroying them. They don’t skip out and find a new family some random day on a whim. That is not normal behavior.
    Feeling safe is so critical to development,to flourishing, to loving, your daughter can get that now, what a gift you will be giving her! Be proud of yourself for realizing you needed to get out, you really are so much stronger than you feel at this moment. You are powerfully awesome to those reading your story for sure.
    You will be blown away by the joy you receive every single day watching your baby girl grow up and your daily gratefulness for that gift will give you the strength you need to heal. Knowing you can give her safety and love that will last through her life? There is no better gift to be received.
    Was he real? You are, that’s the only answer you will get from that unfortunately. Let him go, you can’t save him, even with all the love in the world, he can’t be saved.
    And he will never experience love full on, but you and your daughter can and will. All the best to you in your healing journey.

    • We damage our children whether we stay or we go. Not one of my four has chosen to have children. Not one. All this time I thought they were in the dark about their dad and apparently they were not. I was an absolute fool and I wasted my life.

      • Oh dear Whitecoatburnout, you are still alive. You’ve got time to live your life right now. I wasted 33 years on LTC Fuckface. Now I am “reclaiming my time”. I am dedicating the rest of my life to making it the best life I can manage. I’m not dead yet. There is plenty of life left in this old gal. (Thank you, Mehitabel!) The very best part of my life is living free of cheater stink. It is never too late to reclaim your life.

      • No. You didn’t. Your kids are alive. They contribute in the world. They aren’t repeated their father’s selfish mistakes. There’s a lot to be said for that. And if you go (and I mean this for the people currently in deciding mode), you allow your kids to grow and mature with the truth of their lives out in the open.

      • Whitecoatburnout, no way did you waste your life! You worked in the healing arts, and I’m sure you have blessed many lives, and are greatly admired! You help people, be proud.
        And, a lot of young people these days are not having kids, because of what’s going on in the world, (or for many other reasons). We have to let them make their choices. The world has changed so much in our lifetime, and they look at things differently than our generation did. Sending you love, and I hope you come to peace with what happened, and all the wonderful effort you put into your family, in spite of a big Fuckwit!

      • No, no, no. You didn’t waste your life. You tried to make it work. It’s so easy to look back and criticize our actions. But we have to have self-compassion. We did our best given the circumstances.

        And for what it’s worth, you provide valuable comments on this site, comments that help me and I’m sure others.

        Hang in there. ((hugs))

      • The desire to have kids doesn’t dictate parental success or failure. We all think we’ve screwed up, but I’m pretty sure the cheaters aren’t sitting around worrying about the kids. It’s those of us invested in the kids that worry, which tells me you’re a great parent.

      • No you did not waste your life.
        You lead a life full of integrity and grace and care for your children. That is never wasted. Can you imagine if BOTH parents were like him? As for you children’s choices, they are young, No one knows what they will eventually do.
        You learn to be proud of your integrity
        Sending healing thoughts.

  • Good job Questions getting yourself free!! Keep going and know you have got this. Hugs!

  • You are wondering if any of your marriage or life was “true.” Well, one of the things I still am amazed by is how flexible my EX’s definition of “true” seems to be. He simply redefines everything to make his world view “true.” For example, he claims that loving your kids makes you a good father. Showing up for them, calling them, responding to their calls, remembering their birthdays, etc. is all irrelevant. It is true he is a fantastic father because he says so. I could give you a million examples–including the fact that he seems to believe he was “true” to our marriage vows because he didn’t ask for a divorce, whereas I “betrayed the marriage” by divorcing him and his soul mate. Some people would call this delusion and others pathological lying–but I no longer care because I freed myself from him.

    I expect your EX has no idea himself what was true and what was not in your marriage. Selfish people value only what is best for themselves. And at some points, you were best for him, so he was being truthful toward you in those parts of the relationship, but once you had other responsibilities, then he became dishonest as he only acted in his own self-interest despite all the promises he made you.

    The only part that matters for your future is that you acted in good faith.

    Congratulations on being smart enough to leave now instead of giving him a hundred more chances!

    • Yep, that’s right. What’s real is the world the chump was living in the whole time. Cheaters live in a fantasy world of their creation. I’ve found accepting that reality has been key to healing from the damage my ex did and recognizing the value I built in him, me, and the real world during our marriage.

  • “What the hell happened?”

    You were a character in your XH’s long-running play, Lazy Ass Fuckwit and his Snapchat Ho’s. Your role in his play was working woman, housekeeper, cook, bill payer, baby maker and childcare provider. Once the baby came along, he could no longer be the baby of the family! He’s right. In a mindfuck kind of way he told you that he wants to be the baby. He wants you to be the mommy that takes care of everything for him, all the while he’s doing his own thing, chatting and hooking up with ho-workers. So he replaced you with one of the many understudies that these disordered people are constantly grooming for your replacement part in their play.

    I was married to someone for over 20 years who acted crazy jealous when our son was born. I wouldn’t have been able to say it was jealousy at the time, because I didn’t know what was going on. But looking back I can see if for what it was. What kind of man is jealous of their child?!

    And then about a year later he started up some sort of an affair with a ho-worker when I was pregnant again. I know for fact that he was thinking about leaving all of us for this ho. This is not normal behavior! I was a great wife and mom! I should have left, but I was so confused and scared; I didn’t know what was going on behind my back. I just knew that something was terribly wrong with him. But I stayed another 14 years and lived with so much mindfucking, gaslighting and lying. It’s amazing I made it out alive and not in some mental institution somewhere; that’s how bad it was.

    Questions, you are just so super mighty, but I’m guessing you just don’t know it yet. Please do all the great advice you are getting today from CL and CN. I’d definitely go for full custody! It sounds like he doesn’t want to be a dad and I’d jump on that ASAP.

    ((((HUGS))) to you and your baby. One day you will look back and realize it was a blessing that this FW is out of your life. 🙂

  • Not to get all Buddhist, but I find comfort in telling myself that THIS moment is all that matters. And it’s true.

    But, I still look back and wonder if a moment was as special to me as it was her. Then I’ll correct myself and think, “in that moment, I was the most present as I could have been.”

    It’s kinda helps.

    • That’s all we ever have, this moment. We can’t re-live the past (although people try) and we can’t now the future. Two years ago, could we have foreseen how COVID has changed us? Our country, wherever that may be?

  • questioning everything. that’s normal.

    i’ll reframe and i want you to answer positively:

    1. how hardworking are you?
    2. how do you manage multi-tasking?
    3. do you love unconditionally?
    4. is that baby of yours happy and healthy?
    5. is your body strong after giving birth to a child?
    6. who cares about a few stretch marks?
    7. are you a good friend?

    i tell you, when i look at chumps, i see hard workers. and that’s something of which to be proud, as is the ability to love. fixing your picker will help you out but in the meantime, know your worth. you’re strong.

    • I think you are right on about chumps being hardworking. Guess we have to learn to be very careful about who and what we invest our energies in.

  • I was being real.

    He was being fake, about what, how much, and for how long no one will ever know.

    Our daughter, the relationship he claims to care about, is just as boonswoggled as I am, wondering what was real, and as a result does not trust him or want anything to do with him (which is my fault according to Cheater Man, of course. And it breaks my heart that he mindfucked her too).

    She knows I was being real.

    THAT is the final stop for my mind on today’s subject.

    • When he left, both were in college. In the first year, he texted them pictures and sent a few emails. No birthdays, Christmas, or recognition of graduation. They were commuting to school while living with me, and strongly refused to talk about him at all with me, so I didn’t. Both asked to go to therapy and told me they were talking about it with their friends, so I didn’t push for details.

      Then of course I was accused of parental alienation. I asked my attorney about that in the intake appointment after explaining the situation, and he let out a big belly laugh. More like parental abandonment and estrangement initiated by the other parent, he said. Since they were both over 18, nothing could go into the agreement of course although my ex tried.

      I’m sure that he still has a story to tell of why his kids won’t have anything to do with him, but it wasn’t my doing.

  • i’ll admit that i question myself as to how i didn’t see/feel more of the dysfunction for what is. i try to give myself the grace but it’s hard sometimes. i like to think of myself as fairly savvy and have prided myself on how i read people.

    i think i just assumed that my X was upfront with me from the get go, that he meant what he said, that his actions would align with his words. the evidence shows otherwise and, now and again, i kick myself for not facing that head on. i know we see what we want to, of course, but still.

    in therapy i’m looking at FOO stuff and it’s all there for me with my narcissistic mom, so i’ve got a much better understanding of the patterns of my life. but there’s a lot of work to be done on myself.

    • Dr. Salter’s experience is that most people way overestimate their ability to detect lying.

      This is VERY important for chumps to remember. You can’t always tell.

      Cheaters aren’t smart but they are cunning, usually expert liars, and always lack empathy which just makes it easier to avoid detection.

      Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, And Other Sex Offenders

      • They hide in plain sight and use lovely wives and daughters or good standing as religiously upright members of the community to do their vile acts. I’m thinking of a few incidents growing up in my “nice” New Jersey suburb. I refer to it as my “Near Misses with Hideous Men” list. ????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • Dear Questions,
    Yes what you had was real. No he did not care enough (sorry!). Going forward now you have hard won knowledge that trust and kindness can be used against you, and reciprocity is necessary in relationships.
    What happened was you encountered a disordered cheater. Now you are mightily moving on and things are going to get better. You and your lovely daughter are real. Now you and your daughter get to benefit from your skills and hard work. Wishing you happy moving on.

  • I can tell you this. You are one of the mightier chumps I’ve seen on this forum. You flipped that mental switch and are taking back control of your life. Some of us pick me dance for months or years…..3 in my case. Untangling the skein as Tracy says is a pointless exercise. What chumps are really trying to do by untangling the skein is not wanting to understand what X did…….deep down we already know. I think the hardest part for me to come to terms with was……why in the fuck did I allow this and was I really that stupid and naive. Chumps by nature are much harder on ourselves than anyone else. Continue to work on you……FUCK him. You’ll find that much more rewarding than figuring him out. That’s just an endless maze of dead ends. Stay mighty!!

  • Once D-day hit and I saw the texts and emails, lie upon lie not just to me but to everyone, I felt that nothing was true with him. I was true and authentic until that point. Then I became the actor to him that he had been to me. Went through the motions of being sweet and loving as though nothing had changed. Feigned efforts at forgiveness. Play make believe while sorting out how to escape. Then he decided he wanted out and dropped that bomb in my lap. Stopped wearing his ring. No hugs or kisses goodbye or hello. No “I love you” anymore. I played innocent and still do. Klootzak has never been physically threatening but I feel strongly that my child and I would be at risk if he knew I was plotting to leave him. He wants me gone but doesn’t file. He likes the control. When I take that from him, who knows what he will do. At least him not wearing his ring or anything has relieved me of any suggestion that I should get in bed with him. I’m in a weird limbo while I try to get free but I’m clear in my mind that he has been a fake all along. These creatures are. They lack capacity to actually be authentic and loving. They are bottom feeders. I never wonder about any moments of the past. I was being led on from the start. Don’t doubt that you were the only real thing in the situation at the beginning and now have a canine and infant set of real to care for. Don’t give his fake self a second thought.

    • Your story reminds me of how instinctively I had begun to mistrust my ex, how I began to suspect he would use knowledge of my worries or fears or hopes against me. I began being less open with him, and a few times I caught myself in white lies to other people. Small, like at work, oh, I didn’t know you needed x (when I just forgot to do x), but for me that was a huge character shift. I wrote in my journal that I had started to lie, and felt that as a new level of corrosion of my spirit. I try to remember that when I see x around the small town where we live and he’s all smiley like we still share so much.

      These people undermine our very valuing of what’s real, they undermine our investments in integrity. It takes effort sometimes, to stay in one’s integrity and do the right thing when it’s not convenient, but when you’re around someone who doesn’t do that, who doesn’t value you doing the right thing (hey, Magnolia, why are you so uptight?), they eat away at the moral fibre that takes years of maturing to have built up in the first place.

      My thing is that I “do the right thing” from a place of always having done so. Through these recent experiences with fuckwit exes and friends, I see that many people experience doing the right thing as something that heroes or movie characters or “saints” do. They tell themselves they’re not perfect, “so judge me, I’m not a saint,” because they learned that there are benefits to lying, and that occasionally (and how often counts as “occasionally” is super subjective) they will just have to lie.

      I kind of hate that I’ve learned how to lie, or at least, maintain appearances, from having to keep my job and my social niceties while extracting myself from relationships with some of these people. I guess the positive is that I’m trying to integrate what I’ve learned into my sense of boundaries: i.e. I used to be open and share with everyone, now I have a better filter, and don’t see it as lying if someone asks “how are you” and I respond with “fine” or even “good.” I am overall “good” because I’m above ground, my health is okay, and I don’t steal, cheat on people, or backstab, I pay my own bills and check up on my friends.

      I grew up in a family where I learned no boundaries because real emotions were ignored, shouting was the way my Dad won conversations and we were taught not to expect anything different. I left home and fell in love with anyone who listened to my story. Easy pickins for liars and opportunists.

      If I have intimate worries or feel like a sack of poo or have a special hope to share, I’m now really going to tune into whether or not this person has earned the right to hear what’s going on with me. I felt like a bit of a drag for having needs/sad stories and always kind of grateful to these sparkly exes for deigning to listen to my woes. No more. I was giving away my truth too easily. But the answer isn’t to learn to lie or to decide that my truth doesn’t matter (which I guess some of these FWs learned as young people), it’s to learn how precious it is to know and protect an individual’s story and to know what’s true to/for them. I am learning to do that for myself, and I’ll share it with someone who also values being able to share authentically.

    • MrWonderful’sEx – I can’t wait for the day that I read on CN that you’ve left and are finally free!

  • Ah geez. So sorry. There’s a special place in hell for guys who cheat on pregnant and post-partum partners. A painful, special place.

    CL’s words of wisdom here are perfect. Once I realized that everything I put into my relationship was REAL, I was able to pull that particular monkey off my back. I’ll never know if any of it was “real” to my ex. I like to think that, at times, he loved me and cared for me to the best of his very limited abilities…but ultimately it doesn’t matter. I loved him and cared for him and our marriage with everything in my soul, which is why it hurt so much to be betrayed. That is all very real. And, that’s all that matters to me now and I’m glad that I can tell my daughter that with a straight face. Authenticity…it’s wonderful.

  • This weekend, I was invited to read the poem “The Invitation,” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, for my friends’ wedding ceremony. I managed to make it through the first couple stanzas before I broke down at “opened by life’s betrayals”:

    I want to know
    if you will risk
    looking like a fool
    for love
    for your dream
    for the adventure of being alive

    I want to know
    if you have touched
    the centre of your own sorrow
    if you have been opened
    by life’s betrayals

    The bride and groom, who are some of my truest, kindest friends, each put an arm around me and I took a deep breath and continued on.

    I was one of the few unpartnered folks at the intimate gathering, but it dawned on me as I read the words and looked around: I know what it is to love like this. I have loved as fiercely and loyally and wholeheartedly as anyone here. I loved my ex – in the active, “love is a verb” sense – through intense joys and sorrows. Something shifted. Instead of feeling shame and humiliation at having been abused and discarded, I feel proud of how deeply I have loved. I dedicated myself to another human and risked everything, and I will never again love like that without reciprocity (I hope to hell), but I can hold my head up.

    What’s more, I have mourned some very big losses with these two friends, and they with me, over this past year and a half. We did not abandon each other, even at our darkest, neediest and most vulnerable. They chose me to read this poem for a reason. This is love. On their wedding day, we clung to each other in acknowledgement of the suffering, and also in celebration and hope. I am thankful to have friends and family who model what real, reciprocal love is for me. I am grateful not only for the love these people give, but that they give me somewhere to put my love. I am not a silo and I can remain a loving person, even without a partner. I am more guarded and tentative now (and I am tired and spent), but I am determined not to become shriveled, like the poem cautions.

    Questions, I still occasionally short circuit or want to vomit or scream when the “What was real?” mindfuck catches me off guard. I don’t think my brain will ever comprehend the years of cruelty and destruction and deception, and I’ll never know what was “really” happening. Yet now that I’m past the initial trauma and feel more like myself again – which required time and support and safety and No Contact – I am starting to piece together my story. I haven’t found it yet, but experiences like this weekend are helping me see a more holistic truth.

    • Was it real? It was real for us Chumps. We were all in. My FW played along like he was all in, I didn’t suspect a thing. But he was acting, while he was secretly scheming and fucking her.

      After D-Day when I kicked him out, he tried to get back. One of his mind-fucks: “did you ever feel unloved? I never took time away from us, it was only when you were working or busy.” As if that makes it ok, that if I was busy it was ok for him to fuck around.

      I know he really did love me the only way that he could, in that he loved himself more and I was convenient. He was acting, and he thought that was good enough.

      So it was an illusion. And I came out stronger and content and not afraid of the future.

      Hello Tuesday, it’s a lovely day.

      • Yes, the answer is – it was real for us-. They don’t matter anymore.
        Their viewpoint, inexplicable selfishness, unhealthy mindset, abusive ways – is not our story anymore.
        It was real for us because we are real, we are not actors or professional liars.
        Who cares what it was for them?
        They’re not worth putting our energy towards – moving on.

    • Today, I understand that my education at the hand of the disordereds was a trial by fire. And I am on the other side, intact.

      Not all days, but today.

  • It doesn’t interest me
    what planets are
    squaring your moon…
    I want to know
    if you have touched
    the centre of your own sorrow
    if you have been opened
    by life’s betrayals
    or have become shrivelled and closed
    from fear of further pain.

    I want to know
    if you can sit with pain
    mine or your own
    without moving to hide it
    or fade it
    or fix it.


    This is one of my favorites.
    What betrayal taught me is that I can never not see someone in their pain
    Its a superpower.

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