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Love Is Not a Weakness, It’s a Gift

stitched heartHey Chump Lady,

First off, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have so much appreciation, love and respect for you, and I wish you and your family the absolute best.

Second, I don’t fully know why I am writing you this email. I don’t really have a question, as you’ve laid everything out so perfectly already. I just had to tell you how much you’ve helped me, I guess. I apologize if this isn’t the best way to do that. I will tell my experience below, in hopes that it gives this email any value at all.

I’m a young guy and honestly, after reading through your site and your book, I realize that my situation was extremely mild compared to the possibilities. (Only a 9-month relationship, a seemingly short-lived affair, no kids/finances to worry about.) My heart aches for those with a heavier investment, and more betrayal to sift through.

So my situation may seem relatively insignificant… but your words genuinely saved my life. I felt extremely weak for being so affected by such a “low-commitment” relationship, like I should be able to just get over it, but you made me realize that I just love very deeply. You reminded me that that is not a weakness, but a gift. One that should be shared with people who deserve and reciprocate it. Your blog and book gave me a very steady place to return to and regain my footing. I thank God that I found your work so early in the process, and I pray that anyone else going through this finds it as well.

I’m only 2 weeks out from discovery, so I am still in the shit emotionally, but I am extremely proud that my first instinct when I found out was to act before my emotions flooded my thought processes.

I said “Fuck you, we are done, our love was bullshit and I hope you stay with that loser cause he’s the best you’ll ever get.” I deleted our texts (all the memories I knew I’d miss), blocked her on social media, and marked my schedule for a Muay Thai class the next day. My plan was simple: Get rich, get good at fighting, and watch happily from afar as she struggled to figure out how to love, and her AP struggled to get a job and stay out of jail. Fool proof.

Unfortunately, I am not as proud of how I handled the inevitable wave of emotions after that. I proceeded to pace my room for the next week. Ended up contacting her, trying to figure out what the fuck just happened to my seemingly perfect life. Started losing confidence, wondering, imagining. Tore up her painting she gifted me. Ya know, the normal things. I knew I’d be okay “eventually” but just had no clue how to even start to get there. I felt like she took away my favorite part of me: My love and trust for people. I couldn’t imagine getting through this without losing that, and that gutted me.

That’s when I found your work. You pointed out the entire playbook. There was no curveball she could throw that you didn’t prepare me for. That’s not to say it has been easy, as I said, I am still very much struggling. But you gave me back my sanity. I am naturally empathetic to a fault, and of course I had started going down the path of “well we can’t be together, but I can save her from being miserable her entire life!” I hung on to that feeling of control, trying to stop her from fucking him again. But you bitch slapped that out of me.

You made me realize that it really wasn’t my inadequacies that caused her to cheat. It was HER’S. She just needs attention, and he was cheap attention. (He was an ex of hers, who she had also cheated on before. He also just got out of prison so I already feel like I won there. It’s the little things, ya know?) But perhaps more importantly, you made me realize that I can’t and shouldn’t try to fix her. I should just focus on myself, and move on. I do wish her the best and hope she changes, because I do believe that she is dysfunctional, and that doesn’t bring me joy. But I will not waste another day of my life trying to help her. And that is a priceless lesson.

I am still navigating this, and I am sure that I will make more mistakes before this is over. But I can not describe how much easier you have made this for me, and i’m sure for all the people dealing with legal, financial and custody issues. You are a Godsend. Can’t wait to tell you how much happier I am one day. Thanks to you, I know I will get there.

Vato

Dear Vato,

Thank you for one of the best letters I have ever received. If something I wrote inspired you to stand up and say: “Fuck you, we are done, our love was bullshit!” — I’m honored. That mightiness is all yours though, Vato. That took guts.

I felt like she took away my favorite part of me: My love and trust for people. I couldn’t imagine getting through this without losing that, and that gutted me.

You’re two-weeks from D-Day! And you’re still standing! Give yourself a break. You won’t always feel flinchy. After being chumped, if you grow from it, comes the ability to enforce boundaries. Probably not the superpower you always wished for, but it’s useful life skill.

Please never lose your empathy or your ability to love with your whole heart. Those qualities make you a gem. Just exercise discernment going forward. Not everyone is worth of your deep commitment and your gifts.

I am still navigating this, and I am sure that I will make more mistakes before this is over.

Wobbliness is to be expected. But Vato — you were mighty right out of the gate. A bunch of chumps today are going to tell you, they wish they were you. Muay Thai class? Deep-hearted guy/deadly ultimate fighter? I think you’ve got bad-assery covered. Unemployed felon guy? Not so much.

This ex of yours, it wasn’t going to work. You don’t share the same values. You love deep. She’s shallow. You’re reflective, she’s self-destructive.

you made me realize that I can’t and shouldn’t try to fix her.

Yeah, people aren’t projects. And “fixing” people is our own kind of chump narcissism. We don’t have those superpowers and the people we want to “fix” are usually perfectly happy being fuckwits. It works for them. Until it doesn’t. And then they need a chump, a fixer, someone to use. Steer clear of that. Hold out for actual reciprocal relationships. No broken-winged sparrows need apply.

Vato, thank you for your kind words. Receiving letters like this is what keeps me going. CN, this praise is yours to share — remember that when you add your voice to this community, you’re lifting someone out too. Somewhere, an ultimate fighter is delivering the smack down: “We are done, our love was bullshit.” Thank you.

You got up again, Vato. You are not defeated. Carry on with that big heart.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Vato, I’m someone who also had a very *light* chumping experience as well, but I agree that CL is still important to us too! If picker-fixing can happen early, all the better!

    • Hey VulcanChump,

      Man, I wish I was Vulcan. Maybe this would be a bit easier?

      But I agree completely. I do like to look forward at all the life I have left, and realize that now I can live it fully and better informed. It was a hard lesson to learn, but i’m grateful to have learned it so young. Hope you feel the same!

      Thanks for your comment and good luck!

  • “I felt like she took away my favorite part of me: My love and trust for people.” This resonated with me so much. It’s like you plucked it right out of my own brain. My ex husband cheated on me and we divorced this past January. He took for granted my deep love and complete trust and it changed me. CN has helped me a lot as well and it’s so nice to see letters like this. All the best to you Vato.

    • “He took for granted my deep love and complete trust and it changed me. ”

      Same here. He even bragged to folks about how much I trusted him, just before Dday and I found out all the years worth of lies, deceit, theft etc.

    • blackcatkel ME. TOO. It was him of 20 ysr rel’p + bestie of about 23 years rel’p. Together. Took away my love and trust for people x1000000. It is hard to get it back, it has been 5 years and I am working on it. I am working on not having so many boundaries that I am a fortress alone inside. But they don’t have that anymore. I am clawing my way back.

    • Hey blackcatkel,

      I’m both sorry and glad that my words resonated with you. It sucks that we’ve all been through this, but it is amazing to know that we have ALL been through this, and aren’t alone.

      We are gonna be more than okay soon. They have changed us, but if we learn from it, it can be a change for the better. I wish you the best as well. Thanks again!

  • You learned a very valuable lesson. It’s the last bit of growing up that you needed. There is trust but verify. Now when you know someone, love someone, marry someone you will know that even the best of us are not perfect. She gave you a gift, believe it or not. because you learned this before you had children, before you had a mortgage, before you had sunk years into friendships and jobs and a whole life. There are people on here who had to dismantle lives after 30 and 40 and even 50 years. It’s so grossly unfair. I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m also very glad that you found CL because she knows the very best way to get on with your life and that’s just to get on with your life.

    • Hey Letgo,

      Thanks for your response. I think you are dead on. I really will see this as a gift someday, and not just because I dodged the marriage and kids bullets. Like you said, it has forced me to grow and accept reality, and I’m ready to finally live in it.

      You putting it into the perspective of it being one of the final lessons to learn really helped me focus on what it is teaching me, and how I can now put together all that I’ve learned and truly be happy.

      Thank you so much, and good luck to you!

  • Dear Vato,
    Welcome to CN and yes CL is incredible as you state. I needed to read your words today and you are an excellent dude with a big kind heart, so keep doing what CL says and quite frankly what your badass is doing, believe in your mighty and take your time and really assess your next love cuz you have great value and I’d like to see you meet an amazing woman— CL is right, you are mighty. No contact. Remember they suck.
    Xioba Xioba

    • Dude, wow. Thank you Xioba Xioba.

      I’m glad you got something from reading my letter. Your kind words and advice will be in my thoughts a lot for a good while. Such a kind comment. I will definitely take your advice.

      Thank you again and I wish you the best!

  • Vato, DON’T “watch happily from afar as she struggle(s) to figure out how to love, and her AP struggle(s) to get a job and stay out of jail.” At all. Block her everywhere and refuse to know how it goes. It’s not worth the wear and tear on your soul. Live as though she doesn’t exist.

    • Yes, the thing is to not watch her at all. She’ll self-destruct without you wasting any time or effort focused on her.

      • Yeah and this is more or less what I meant. It was definitely more emotionally charged, as like I said, that was my thought process on D-day and the following days.

        I won’t waste any real energy keeping tabs or anything though. But due to circumstances, I know I will hear about how she is doing from others. It’s just a small petty comfort I had when in the worst of it, knowing that some of what I hear will be her consequences.

        Those will come whether I’m involved or not. But I am now focusing more on what I can do to feel better, as opposed to what will happen to her to make me feel better.

    • Hey Madge,

      Thanks for the advice. I see how that came across, and I see what you are saying. I am happy to say that i’m moving further from that mindset everyday.

      Unfortunately, due to some circumstances, odds are that she will not be out of my life entirely for at least a little while, communication or not. That’s what I meant more than anything. Not check in with her to make sure she is struggling, it was more of a small comfort I held onto for a time when I first found out, because I know I will hear about how she is doing from others.

      I am making it a point to focus more on the joy I bring myself, rather than waiting for justice or karma or whatever. But when all of your comforts have been stolen from you, it is easy to find a small bit of it in picturing her being regretful.

      Thank you for your advice and I will take it to heart!

  • I wish I had been that badass when I found out but I wasn’t. 18 years invested, 3 kids, nice home, all the usual. Never saw it coming. Then found the emails and the dating profiles. 3 years of double life exposed, which came as such a shock that I could hardly get out of bed for a few weeks. There is something unbelievably painful in the knowledge that your life was a facade and you didn’t notice it – 9 months or 18 years, same feeling. Count yourself super lucky it was only 9 months – there really are some fucked up people out there. Wishing you all the best. You got this.

    • Yupchump

      I know I shouldn’t compare but sometimes I’m really jealous of the people who can say
      My “before” and “ after” life..
      After 17 years, 3 kids I found out that I never had the “ before” part…. So, basically 19 years of my life was a total lie.
      He started before we got engaged and never stopped…. Ptsd, lost innocence, lost years later- I have no hope. Just a middle age cynical pre/ menopausal bitchy person.
      He literally took and destroyed the best parts in me….

      • Me too Essa… after my Cheater died, I came to learn that our ENTIRE 29 year relationship likely had affairs sprinkled all through it.

        The me who loved and trusted and thought our “family” was worth saving died somewhere and a new gal I didn’t know had to move on living my life. I liked the person I used to be but now that I’ve adjusted, I think I like the new version of me better.

        One decision I made is that I would be willing to love and trust again. I married a person worthy of love and trust and don’t punish him for someone else’s mistakes.

        Life can be good and I’m happy that mine is great now.

          • Hi Unicornomore, Essa, YupChump, and Chumpuest:

            I am right there with you. The shock of finding out your life is nothing like what you thought it was, and dealing with megabetrayal, made me go back and question everything. Because I thought I was this savvy, perceptive woman and yet it turns out I was a bumpkin who fell off the turnip truck in the middle of town. I did not recognize my husband as anyone I knew, did not recognize my own life, and did not recognize myself either, not where I was, not how I got there.

            It is a psychic death.

            Maybe each of us is somewhere along the same path that leads from this life-altering experience, some of us (**raises hand**) with much longer to go to reach a place of peace and strength, and some of us, like Unicornomore, who are there now. I hope so. I am trying to put all the pieces back together in a stronger, wiser way. Only because I am three years out am I attempting this: the first year it was all I could do to get out of bed, get dressed without forgetting to brush my hair or wear my underwear inside my clothes, or drive down the street without having an accident. That this experience is not recognized for the terroristic abuse that it is, is a problem that must be solved in our lifetime.

            • PL, I’m at about the 3.5 year mark, and I was a cross between a zombie and a raging lunatic the first year. I’ve never cried so much in my life as I did that year. I literally couldn’t stop. The tears just spilled out of my eyes. It got to the point that I had to accept people would be staring at me in grocery stores and doctor’s offices and gas stations.

              It’s a private hell so nightmarishly devastating that no one who hasn’t been through it could possibly understand. I hope someday it is widely recognized for the terrible thing it is, but I’m afraid society has gone so far down the path of selfishness and moral relativism that we may never come back.

              In any case, I lost my life as it was. And, in very many ways it was a good one, but at its core, it was not. So for that reason, I’m grateful for the change. I’ll always be a chump on the inside. But on the outside, I keep my distance. My boundaries have boundaries.

              • ChumpQueen, I think you wrote quite a bit of my story. Cheating is a terrible, gut-wrenching, extremely intimate betrayal. My first Dday was May 2016, second was March 2018. Third August 2020. He finally moved out in May of this year. I just couldn’t let go. I did everything I could to save my marriage. Turns out I was just making a fool of myself. I am getting personal counseling now and taking a class on divorce. With all this help, along with wonderful family and friends that support me, I know I will be ok. I’m not there yet but I will be. Thank you too, Chump Nation.

        • “The me who loved and trusted and thought our “family” was worth saving died somewhere and a new gal I didn’t know had to move on living my life. I liked the person I used to be but now that I’ve adjusted, I think I like the new version of me better.”

          Well said.

          It is the way I feel. Do I miss a couple elements of who I used to be, sure. But, I like who I am now so, I will take me faults and all.

          I too went on to remarry, though I honestly thought I never would. Not because I wouldn’t have opportunities, I was only 40 and I was pretty sure I wanted to have physical love in my life again, I just didn’t think I would trust anyone enough to commit.

          But, each one has to do what feels right for them.

        • Essa, this breaks my heart, and Unicorn you are so inspiring!

          Essa- similarly, on D-Day I discovered a 10-year affair, and later that his cheating started before we got married. From my best friend, no less- when I told her about his affair, her reaction was “I can’t believe he did this. I told him before you got married that he had to stop cheating on you.” Anyway.

          He was lying to me for 20 years, but those 20 years were not a lie on my end. I did feel love and joy and happiness during that time. Most of it was without FW anyway. With the kids, family, friends— those 20 years are by no means a waste. They did happen to include a cheater, but he didn’t define them.

          Yes, the “lost years” and PTSD are very real. But don’t let him take away your hope. Unicornnomore can be our inspiration- there is better on the other side of this, even if we can’t see it yet!

      • Essa
        I’m so sorry you went thru that terrible time. Myself, married 35 years being financially and emotionally scarred. He left and never looked back. Too much to post on the cruel and disgusting things he did to me after discovery.
        It’s been 5 years out but I try every day to move forward. Coming here to CL helps. Good luck to you ????

      • Dear Essa, I felt heartbroken after reading what you had written. We at CN have all been there and it’s gut wrenching stuff. My cheater betrayed me after 40 years. I felt like you and still struggle at times but reading this blog every day and hearing the experiences of the people here has been invaluable. PLEASE don’t give up on yourself because your self-worth is not reflected in the way he treated you or in the way he behaved. It’s a reflection of who HE is as a person and a man and a husband. As CL has said, you’re grieving for the person you thought he was. You deserve to be loved, cared for, and respected and so do your 3 beautiful kids. It does get better I promise or we chumps at CN wouldn’t still be hanging around.

    • Exactly. I felt like my entire history had been re-written by my discovery. I cannot look back at anything without wondering: ‘what was really going on then?’ I lost my history, my self image, my self respect…and as far as I can tell, those things are never coming back.

      • FWIW, you have my respect, Whitecoatburnout. While I think I understand how you feel, because I’m often flooded with the same feelings of alienation and hopelessness surrounding the theft of my reality, I also have another way of looking at the experience.

        One of my many jobs is land surveying. When a client or an abutter asks if they’ve “gained” or “lost” land, we respond that neither is the case. Our job is to do the research and field work to uncover what was there all along (and even then, we are only presenting our best “interpretation”).
        We shed light on the past and the present.

        Everything I’ve learned about love and relationships, betrayal and dishonesty, trauma, cycles of abuse, personality disorders and manipulation tactics, coping mechanisms – it’s created mirrors and windows. Of course, my perception of the years I was conned by a cheater is drastically different from what I saw at the time.

        I see my childhood differently, too. I see new dimensions in my family history. Recently, it hit me that all of the women in my immediate family are chumps. My grandmothers and one aunt are dead, but I now know them in ways I couldn’t when they were alive. I have a better understanding of my still-living aunt, who I’ve never been close with. She was divorced by an abusive cheater and left to raise three young children (the youngest of whom had cancer at the time) by herself. Working full time. In the Deep South. I used to be scared of her. I have vivid memories from that time, and they now tell me a story I never before could see or understand. Layers of history and evidence…

        I feel like I’ve lost something. In truth, most of what was my life has been stolen from me, and I’ve chosen to abandon much of what remained. However, I can look back and see that much of what I thought I had was never really there. I see the depressing, frustrating reality now.

        • bread&roses – I just want to say your description of re-understanding your whole life and long ago relationships really resonated with me so much! I’ve been going through the same thing.

          It’s a ‘eyes wide open’ experience that makes me feel like I’ve been a dummy for so many years. But I guess it’s part of getting older and wiser? I wish I had acted differently in many situations, but I can only change going forward, trying to be more understanding and compassionate going forward.

    • I just want to echo the comments of so many others. Realizing that so much of my life was a lie, and built upon false pretenses, has shaken me to the core. I’m not sure one ever truly gets “over” something like this but we get through and we move forward.

      I was duped because I was pretty easy to dupe. I put my trust and faith in my spouse and did not think someone who claimed to love me so much could be capable of such deception. My heart aches for all of us, but I am so grateful to know that I am not alone.

      Vato, you have come to the right place! I wish you and all of us chumps much healing and peace.

    • Hey Yupchump,

      Really appreciate that. I can assure you that I didn’t feel badass in the moment, and still don’t. So it feels really good to hear that I handled it with any kind of grace at all.

      I am so sorry to hear about your experience. I definitely do count my blessings, and this thread has been a great reminder to not stop. Thank you, and good luck.

  • Yes, “we are done” is a huge admission. Mine was a “gray” divorce, and it took me a long time to get there. Still worth it despite the long divorce and economic uncertainty.

    I agree that there was an element of control on my part. I bought the “more sex and better dinners” lie and believed that it would save my marriage. He took off twice, and the second time went so far away that any kind of reasonable reconciliation and presence in each other’s lives was off the table. Effectively it ended when he took off the second time, but I didn’t see it that way until my divorce attorney was going through the guidelines and questions to determine the separation date.

    Prior to the attorneys getting involved, I still thought that somehow I could do something that would make him love me. The contempt was so very thick, and he was evasive about how he was spending his time there. His family was involved in an invasive way that made me very uncomfortable.

    Later my older divorce attorney observed that runway husbands have a goal — either a woman is waiting on the other side, or they want to do their own thing and “explore” without the responsibilities of family and the objections of a wife. He told me that personally as a family man married 40+ years, he found that type of behavior “despicable.” Even if my ex had decided that he didn’t want to be married anymore, he could have handled himself so much better.

    Well, thankfully we get it done with a decent settlement from a legal standpoint. It was expensive and long. Because my ex had to retire early, no alimony despite my SAHM years. I had to scramble to get myself and the two college kids stable financially, but we got to the other side on Tuesday.

    • Hey Elsie,

      Thanks for taking the time to reply and share your experience. I’m so sorry to hear what you went through, that is awful. I am glad to hear that you handled your shit and got to Tuesday! Very inspiring, good for you. Your kids have a badass mom.

      It really is crazy all the mental gymnastics our brain will do early on, trying to hold onto what we want.

  • Vatican, I was chumped after a 30 year investment, but I can tell you I’d have been devastated after nine months too. Your heart is broken either way. The biggest difference is that after a long time with somebody, it’s harder to break away. The finances are comingled, there are kids, grandkids, mortgages, etc. Plus, in a life spent with a cheater there has usually been some sort of abuse (usually emotional, but physical abuse is not uncommon) over a long period of time, causing CPTSD and creating the dreaded trauma bond.

    But the pain of a person who loved deeply and was betrayed is the same in both short and long term relationships. I do think, that for the reasons listed above, you can recover more quickly, so that is the good news. Kudos for being so decisive and already taking the steps you need to heal. You sound like a wonderful man. You’ll meet a wonderful woman someday.

    • OHFFS

      My marriage to FW was a long one as well

      I look back and realize how much sheer misery he inflicted on a good portion of my life

      Luckily I enjoyed my career and my children, it did help offset his crap

      But I do regret staying so long, and investing so much in a trash person

      Onward and upward now

      • So true Mitz. You’re so busy with other things that the asshattery isn’t as noticeable. Plus you just get used to how selfish and uncommunicative they are. It was only when my fw, while looking for somebody to cheat with and then cheating, ramped up his behavior to overtly abusive levels levels that I started to think I had to get out. Then he would be “nice” again and give me hope that it could be fixed. The standard abuser tactic of intermittent reward is very effective. It seems to be instinctual with fws. I was his first ever girlfriend, yet somehow he knew to apply this method. Maybe he had it done to him by his parents and thought that was just how relationships were. Who knows and who cares. We’re lucky to be free of these toxic tools. I hope you found some measure of peace now Mitz.

        • Thanks. He is still tormenting me through the courts, and our kids , even though we are 7 years apart.

          But the relief of being out of his physical presence is a breath of fresh air every single day

        • The points you make really do help explain our long term “acceptance” of abuse. I still have a hard time believing it really wasn’t just something that was wrong with me – even though I know better – so it helps to read that so many others experienced the same things.

    • OHFFS,
      Your acknowledgment that a broken heart is a broken heart 9 months or 25 years in is very kind. I think we long-term sufferers tend to too quickly tell the young ones how lucky they are which (during trauma) isn’t especially compassionate or helpful.

      • Pain is pain, and it hurt like a mo no matter how long.

        However, I think that finding out before there are kids and entanglements is very lucky indeed. But no question is in horrible pain either way.

      • Hey Unicornomore,

        I know you weren’t specifically replying to my letter, but I wanted to tell you that I appreciate your comment.

        It doesn’t compare to a custody battle, but feeling like my suffering wasn’t warranted was just another layer of shit to deal with on top of my world flipping upside down. I think it’s natural for people to say “Be happy you lost a finger and not an arm, like me.” I think it usually comes from a decent place of wanting to give perspective. But a lot of times, it can just add to the sufferer’s guilt and confusion. You taking the time to acknowledge that means a lot.

        Like I said, it’s far from the worst thing anyone here has felt, but it is one of the worst things I have experienced, and sometimes you just need to hear “Yeah dude, that is really shitty, I’m sorry about that” rather than being told that i’m just missing the bright-side.

    • Hey OHFFS,

      Thank you. It was pretty difficult for me to accept that my feelings were valid. I know people have had it way worse than me, but that alone isn’t enough to stop the pain. I’m so sorry that you were betrayed so heavily.

      But I do agree. I am not too far away from D-day, and already I am starting to feel slightly better each day. I will be eternally grateful that I was able to make a relatively clean break, and start fresh so young. I can see myself forgetting to think about her eventually. That seemed impossible at the start.

      Thank you very much for the kind words, and I wish you the best!

  • Sorry for your pain …..you are right…..you are lucky you only lost 9 months. Feel fortunate you found CL and the support…….I wasted 25 years…..some here wasted more.

    I suggest books by Dr. Robert Glover for the men…..”No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Dating Essentials”, etc.

    I also recommend to men Steve Horsmon……. Goodguys2greatmen …..will help ground you and regain your confidence.

    I found Coaching and CL was infinitely better than Counseling/Therapy

    Best of luck to you!

    • Hey Nothing Chumpares 2 U,

      I agree, I am very fortunate, relatively speaking. I do remind myself of that every chance I get, and it is usually enough to feel a bit of gratitude during the low points. The fact that I am not forced to interact with her (because of kids, divorce etc) is a huge relief, and makes me feel a sense of freedom. It pains me to think of all of you who didn’t have that luxury. Stronger than I.

      Thank you for the suggestions, I will look into them. I may put them on the backburner until I feel ready to date again, but it will sure be nice to have some advice once I do.

      Thanks again for your response, and good luck to you!

  • Vato as one of the more heavily chumped we sure appreciate your kind thoughts. Know that your stock trades so high—an empathic guy who conditions his body. Yes!! You will meet someone more worthy of your gifts and with the help of CN and CL you’ll recognize it. Best wishes to you.

    • Wow, thank you so much Newlady15.

      Everyone’s comments have been so helpful to me, but yours really put a pep in my step. “Your stock trades so high.” That is a great visual that I will try to keep in mind when I am feeling low.

      Good luck to you and everything you are doing!

  • “I felt like she took away my favorite part of me: My love and trust for people. I couldn’t imagine getting through this without losing that, and that gutted me.”

    Ah, the greatest robbery of all! This gutted me, too. In fact, the affair itself–the sex act–matters less and less to me as time goes on (almost 2 years from Dday after a 35-year marriage). It’s the betrayal and shakiness I feel about trusting again. It’s the lack of trust I have in my ability to recognize lying. I thought I was perceptive, but I was chumped in a big way.

    Even so, Vato, I’m here to tell you that even I am starting to love and trust again. I will not let that FW cheater take that from me. I’d rather risk getting hurt again than live life without love or trust.

    In fact, I realize now that my ex is the one who is incapable of true love. And I bet he and his schmoopie (if they’re still together–no idea and don’t care) can’t trust each other…ever. Each was in a committed relationship when the affair started. Each lies and cheats. They must be looking over their shoulders constantly.

    I have a clear conscience. That does wonders for my ability to love and trust. And that’s true for you, too, Vato. Good luck! You are mighty!

    Also, ditto my sincerest gratitude to CL for her book and this forum. And thanks to CN, too! I’m not much of a joiner, but I’m happy to be in this “club.” ((Hugs)) to my fellow chumps!

    • I wonder.

      Cheaters seem to think they are special, so I wonder if cheating partners who leave their families and commit to each other are suspicious, or if they believe themselves to be right and special and schmoopie and twu wuv are fate and all is right in their poisoned beds?

      • Oh, they totally believe themselves to be righteous. What they did to others, would NEVER happen to them. Even when it does – they won’t admit it. Or they will admit somewhat in order to maximize their ‘victimhood’ even though they brought it on themselves with their choices.

      • I have thought about this too rosslucy465. How can you be ‘happy’, or have peace, when a relationship starts with cheating!!!!????

    • Hey Spinach@35,

      Thank you for sharing! It really helps knowing that there are so many strong ass people that are handling even worse situations, and are doing it with themselves intact. I do believe that I will trust again, and I know it will be for more deserving people!

      There is a lot of truth and wisdom in your comment. We may have been victimized, but they are the ones truly suffering. It’s hard to sleep when you are fixated on being betrayed, but I can’t imagine how hard it is to sleep when you are a bad person. They have a much longer road to self-realization than we do.

  • Vato,

    You are 2 weeks out. It takes time to process this sh*t; look at the Stages of Grief and you’ll get the idea. And remember; you aren’t responsible for fixing her and they always (and I mean always) trade down.

    Better days are coming.

    LFTT

    • Agreed to the trading down. And remember: looks, money, status, etc. don’t amount to as you think they would. There are enough broken, good-looking people who are flush with cash floating around. But what is any of that worth if the interpersonal parts (you know, the relationship) is garbage? Your mental and emotional health can’t be bartered.

    • Hey LookingForwardToTuesday,

      Haha thank you, I do need to remind myself that I’m allowed to feel things sometimes. Funny you say that, I thought a lot about the stages of grief during all this. I think the hardest thing was realizing that those stages don’t happen in a straight line. I was bouncing around all over the place and felt insane! It helps to just let go and let yourself feel whatever it is you feel though.

      Definitely feel you on the trading down, that part made me chuckle. Really is true, isn’t it? I don’t have much self-esteem, but even I was like “…Him? Over me?” Maybe hes more attractive or something, I can accept that. But just objectively, what a terrible life choice. But again, I think it’s more about the cheater than the AP. She wanted to feel good, he made her feel good in the moment. She wasn’t listing out our pros and cons and making an educated decision.

  • I ask myself often why I am still reading this blog after 4.5 yrs. sometimes I think it keeps me in the ditch of divorce/betrayal. Then a letter like this shows up and I learn something new about myself. Even though similar pearls of wisdom show up, they don’t resonate until I am ready to hear or receive them. “took away my love and trust in people” made me realize that part of recovery from betrayal is finding that part of myself that made me love and care for FW and believe in myself again. Trust myself again. During discard, he mocked my generosity. Made that the reason he was leaving. My generosity made him feel like a “man-child”. I realize now that my generosity is how I show love. I am not an effusive person, more on the introverted side, a loner. I show love through acts of kindness and support. His using that as a weapon made me question my very core. I am relearning how to show love and with boundaries. Letting others ask for support if they need it rather than dumping it on them. Wish I’d learn this lesson years ago but hey old dogs can learn new tricks. Hugs!

    • Same here. I’ve been reading now for over 5 years. And I still find gems of support and nuggets of wisdom every week!

    • Hey Thrive,

      It means so much to me that anything I said resonated with you. Thank you. And I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I feel like I can imagine it almost perfectly. The feeling at least. Being mocked for the best parts of you, while on the ground. People are brutal.

      I am happy that we have found this place, and I wish for your continued healing!

  • Bravo, Vato!

    Ditto, Vato!

    Chump Lady is the helping hand out of the quicksand that our fake abusive treacherous partners threw us into.

    I wish she was the person on the cover of Time magazine right now as one of the world’s Most Influential People. She certainly deserves the honor.

    ❤️

    • Hey VelvetHammer,

      Thank you!

      Agreed wholeheartedly. She, and all of CN, have saved lives. A large part of the hole that was left in my heart has been filled with pure gratitude towards CL. I will be thanking her for the rest of my life.

  • Vato, I am sorry you are here, but glad you are here at the same time. CL and CN gave me clarity and understanding, helped me through the morass of emotions, and, though I’m still not yet at Tuesday, I know that being alone is FAR better than being with somebody who abuses me emotionally, psychologically, and physically (Hello, HPV).

    You are young, so I will join the chorus of “Trust but verify”. I don’t know that I will ever date again (I’m 62), but IF I were to jump into that pool, you can bet I will be running credit and background checks on anybody I consider having a relationship with.

    • Vato: Remember not to let her hoover back. MANY try that. Phone calls, etc. that you may receive from her (regardless of the reason she says she is calling) are probably attempts to hoover you back in or or to see if you are open to getting back together. Also apologies from someone who has treated you as she did mean nothing in regard to being sorry for what she did; they would be to make her feel better or a stab at hoovering you back. No contact forever is the way to go in this situation.

    • Hey IvyLeagueChump,

      Thank you! I am glad I am here as well. I had already gotten so much help from the book and blog, I didn’t expect to find so much more through all of you.

      You are right. This has been terrible. But not nearly as terrible as continuing to be victimized.

      I will take your advice to “trust but verify” to heart, and I hope you reach Tuesday very soon!

  • No matter the length of the relationship, being chumped is soul-crushing. It’s about being lied to, cheated on, abused, glaslit. And it is earth shattering to the chumps that put their hearts out there and TRUSTED. It blindsides all of us. Those of us in longer relationships with finances and children and everything tied up in it… it’s also terrifying. And we are intrinsically tangled with a FW while trying to grey rock at the same time.

    The good news Vato, is that you can break free from FW completely and then will enter new relationships eyes wide open. The bad news is that you no longer trust the same way…you’ll still carry heavy baggage and doubt like all chumps. So just be kind to yourself and do what you’ve been doing — focus on you. You are mighty. Welcome to CN — the club no one wants to join 🙂

    • Hey MichelleShocked, (great name by the way)

      Thank you for your response! The amount of people showing support and telling me “It’s not about how long it lasted, but how deeply you loved” is extremely comforting.

      As well as your point about me being free now. It really is all about context, and walking around telling myself “i’m free from a bad thing” is so much better than “i’m hurting because of a bad thing.”

      Happy to be here, honestly! I was going to get cheated on anyways, or at least severely disappointed. Couldn’t be more grateful to have found this place after.

  • I’m going to trot out my trust hobby horse for a little ride.

    You can’t see this when you are so close to the beginning of the process or when (if you were married) you are stuck in a years-long divorce or sometimes if the cheating and betrayal resonates with stuff you experienced from parents in childhood. But part of “fixing your picker” is coming to the knowledge that:
    1. Trust must be earned over time.
    2. Trust can only be earned through a demonstration of consistent good character: kindness, generosity of spirit, honesty, faithfulness to commitments, and ability to reciprocate in a relationship. Don’t trust people who don’t live by these principles.
    3. Take enough time after a betrayal to practice discerning when people are trustworthy and when they are disordered. For Vato, the fact that she dated an ex-con might have been, as we say, a red flag that GF has problems.
    4. The person you must trust is yourself. Trust yourself to not be in a hurry. Trust yourself to heal so you don’t need “love bombing” or instant relationships. Trust yourself to end a relationship if you see the other person is disordered or even just not for you. Trust that being single doesn’t make you a pariah. You can learn to enjoy independent life until the right person comes along.

    • Hey LovedAJackass,

      This is awesome, thank you so much. I really took the time to envision taking those steps and believing those truths. Your comment has given me the biggest perspective shift when it comes to how I will trust again. I got to the point where I knew that I would again, but kind of just left it at “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”

      But now I can really picture myself seeing people based on their actions, and trusting myself to let the right ones in. And even trusting myself to not crumble when I let in a bad apple again, if I do.

      Thank you again, this was incredibly helpful!

  • Vato!! What a pleasure it was to read your letter to CL. Best wishes to you moving forward. You are mighty mighty mighty!

    • Hey KathleenK,

      Thank you so much! When I sent it, I was in a haze, and didn’t even know why I was sending it. Never thought it would be published. It has brought me so much joy to know even one other person has gotten something good out of reading it. This has been incredibly healing, thanks to CL and all of you.

      I felt like the furthest thing from mighty when I sent this in, but I feel closer and closer to it with every comment I read.

      Thank you again!

  • Vato, Kudos getting out and for your mighty exit. Don’t beat yourself up for being human and going through all the usual emotions afterwards, it’s a process and you are doing just fine. As for losing your love and trust in people, don’t worry, it is temporary. You will find a different, more discerning version of it on the other side.

    • Hey FuckThatShit,

      Thank you so much for the response and encouragement! I do need to work on letting myself process emotions. Sometimes I feel like I “know” how to get over something, and therefore expect myself to do it easier or faster. But knowing how to eat a shit sandwich doesn’t make it any easier. Just gotta take it one bite at a time, and let it suck. Eventually you’ll be done.

      I agree. The damage does in fact seem temporary now, and I even see how it will eventually benefit me and help me grow.

      Thanks again!

  • I sometimes wonder if going thru a painful experience like every member of chump nation has experienced, is necessary to fully understanding the process. I can empathize with others who have survived horrific experiences, such as the loss of a child, but thankfully I have not had to experience that particular horror, It seems there are many more people who have experienced betrayal in love, and Chump Lady has provided an excellent survival manual and path forward guide. So I hope that our chump commonalities do allow us to empathize with others without having to experience all the horrors available in the world at large. I also believe the experience has made me more aware of how many people are suffering in the world, not just from a particular experience, but from the feeling of being singled out for misery, or being so alone.

    The reason I wonder about experience being necessary is because of all the smug people who seem blind to the difficulties and limited choices chumps have. I wonder because of the ineffective information that seems to thrive in the RIC. I wonder because of the heartless social mythology that looks for guilt in the victim. Sometimes I cannot comprehend how anyone can really believe an underage girl somehow seduced a group of older boys to take her to an isolated spot and gang rape her, or that her short skirt caused them to lose all social inhibitions against such an action. Or how someone in this day and age can instantly invoke white privilege to force a non-white person to comply with their wishes, or how they can presume to force their particular political/social beliefs on other people. It never ceases to amaze me how callous and cruel people can be, especially if they have never experienced any of the indignities that have been a daily part of the victim’s life.

    I have two sisters who are 10 and 12 years younger than I am. When they were still in their teens, we had several conversations about “the role of women” and expectations, and the treatment and actions “boys and men” expect from “girls and women.” They caused many worries and sleepless nights for me when they were coming of age, and I am sure they thought of me as a semi-parent figure who was trying to prohibit them from having fun, instead of the concerned and experienced older woman who was trying to protect them from some of their false FOO mythology and bad experience. I wanted to save them from pain. Unfortunately, they had to experience some of it before they believed it. They had to figure out I didn’t want to say “I told you so.” I could only dry their tears and say “Now, what are you going to do going forward?”

    Maybe you have to find out that the stove is hot to stop touching it? Maybe we have to learn that all warnings of danger are not aimed at everyone else in the world, but us? We are not special, or entitled to live a life without an awakening. But maybe, just maybe, we can achieve some changes in the awareness of danger, and some systems to put safety nets in place when new victims inevitably fall. I hope that is a positive use of our chump capacity for empathy and loving others. You cannot save others, or fix others, but perhaps we can soften the harsh realities of living in a dysfunctional environment, and provide resources to assist the walking wounded? So what are you going to do, going forward?

    • Hey Portia,

      Wow, thanks for the great response! That seems to be one of the great tragedies of life. You can pass on knowledge, but a lot of times, people have to get burned to really gain the wisdom.

      But people like you, who give the warnings, and are there to help them move forward when they ignore them, instead of saying “I told you so,” are the best kinds of people. That is all anyone can ask for in a support system.

      Thank you!

  • Vato, Love is love, length of time is nearly irrelevant. (Otherwise, new parents would not grieve the death of their infant children) I took the kick to the groin after 21 years but am only 3 months beyond D-day. This site, Chumplady’s book and one called “Now What?” have helped me navigate the dreaded endless night when sleep is impossible. It is fun to say Fuck you, I like me, and your opinion of me is not going to make me lose sleep any longer!

    • “It is fun to say Fuck you, I like me, and your opinion of me is not going to make me lose sleep any longer!”

      Amen to that! Also, that you’re saying this only three months out is ????!! ???? ????????!!

    • Hey Paul,

      Thanks for that, that was a really good point.

      I am happy to hear that you have reached that point just a few months out from D-day, and I am hoping to be able to stay in that mindset more permanently here soon!

  • Vato, you say you feel changed. Perhaps this change feels like a violation because you didn’t sign on for it?

    Just wanted to add the observation, that most of us here in CN would probably not click our heels three times to go back to being the people we were before betrayal.

    At least I wouldn’t…

    • I wouldn’t either. I’m years removed from DD. I have so much more peace in my life now than I ever did in my relationship.

    • Hey NoMoreNarcs,

      Thanks for the response, and perspective. I haven’t made it out of the woods yet, but I am already grateful to be out of a bullshit relationship, and like you said, I would never choose to go back to being an unknowing fool. Truth hurts sometimes, but not as bad as being lied to. And I never would have grown with her, the way I know I will now.

      But you are entirely correct, it did feel like a violation. It felt like she literally reached into me and took away the parts I liked.

      However, I am already beginning to see how I will trust again moving forward. I no longer believe that she has permanently damaged me. I truly did for a while there though.

      Maybe I am too trusting, but that’s who I am, and apparently, it’s gonna take a lot more than a selfish child to take that away from me. Feels good to know that, and I didn’t have that confidence before all this.

      Thanks again for your comment!

  • “…and I hope you stay with that loser cause [she’s] the best you’ll ever get.” That’s the part I wish I had said to cheater. 🙂 I will live vicariously through you.

    • Hey Marissachump,

      It was definitely satisfying to say it to her, but it’s more satisfying to believe it. You can still do that part for yourself!

      Karma may not be this cosmic tally of justice that works 1:1. But I do believe our intentions seep out through our actions, and the world responds accordingly. They can’t just waltz through life being a piece of shit and actually be happy inside. Doesn’t happen.

  • ” In choosing you I was not only saying this is my man, I was also saying “ this is me.” I trust myself enough to know what is right for me. What I need. What I say yes to in life. Marrying you was the greatest validation of the trust I had in myself, which is why this is so painful. I question myself, I don’t trust myself anymore, I have lost my compass. It’s going to be long time before I’ll be able to forgive myself. ” this is my favorite bit from the series ” Better Things”

  • Vato
    Betrayal has also changed me forever, it’s hard but gets easier. Big hugs
    I read a book by Traver Boehm he also likes ultimate fighting… Today I Rise, how to use the pain of a break up to reclaim your life.

    • Hey ShamoulaChump,

      I’m sorry to hear that. I am hoping that it is not forever for us, and if it is, I hope the change is a net positive. A lot of responses here are making me feel like it could be!

      Thank you for the recommendation, I bought the audiobook as soon as I read your comment. I am going to listen to it as soon as I am done responding!

  • Vato:

    Really nice letter to CL; I echo your appreciation for her writings that tell it like it is. I’m many years out from the scorched earth destruction of a 36 year marriage with children. I come here to support others in this position and to encourage you that this experience isn’t meant to cripple you emotionally for life. Yes, it remains in your recall, but as a building block for growth into greater awareness and ability to navigate life forward.

    A couple reminders: NO ONE defines you. This was an experience that happened “with” you, not “to” you. You are a separate free agent capable of reason and regeneration from within. No one has power to dictate your life except you.

    Love is NOT blind. It may start out that way until it disintegrates. You now have eyes wide open, which will serve you well forward as you choose stable and proven people into your life.

    As others have said, you’ll look back someday and be thankful you grew into your personal best! Sounds like you’re well on your way!

    • Wow! Hey Latitude69,

      Thanks for the great response. I’m big on taking control of my perspective in order to get through things, and you really hit the nail on the head with this comment.

      Hearing the wisdom from you all, coming out of the “scorched earth destruction” of these longerterm relationships, as you so perfectly put it, gives me unbelievable strength to get through my situation.

      “…isn’t meant to cripple you emotionally for life… but as a building block for growth…” Reminded me that this is all a lesson, if I learn from it. But that is a choice I have to make.

      “No one defines you… this happened ‘with you’ not ‘to you’…” That is huge for me. I don’t like walking around in the context of being a victim. Yes, she intentionally hurt me. But that doesn’t mean I have to incorporate that into who I am. It’s more like “being involved in a car crash, at someone else’s fault” than it is “I got ran off the road in an attempted murder.” I don’t have life-threatening injuries, I don’t have to watch out for other hitmen. I just need to be a little more careful on the road from now on and watch out for inconsiderate drivers.

      “Love is not blind. You now have eyes wide open.” I love this. Truly an empowering mindset, I felt this one physically.

      “You’ll look back someday and be thankful you grew into your personal best.” I truly believe that now, and am looking forward to it.

      Thanks again!

  • Vato,

    Sorry you got chumped but glad you found CL and CN.

    No contact and no social media stalking are the best way to move forward. It’s hard to live your life looking backwards waiting to see karma find her.

    Don’t discount the trauma it caused you. You are wise and worthy of respect and love and have a lot to offer.

    • Hey ChumpNoMore,

      Thank you for the response and advice. You are definitely right, I need to really let go if I want to move on, and that means not waiting around to celebrate her consequences. Our joy comes from what we do, not what happens to others.

      I really appreciate the kind words. It is wild how much getting chumped can warp our self-esteem, and being told that I am worthy really made me take a step back and appreciate myself for a second. Thank you.

  • Vato, mine was a 34 year relationship married for 31. If I’d been chumped only weeks into the relationship my heart would have broken the same as it has after all those years together. The shit storm of unpicking many years of the interwoven fabric of joined lives is tragically devastating – I am glad that you don’t have to do that.

    CL and CN saved me from pulling the plug on my life. Quite literally in fact for as I was trailing the Internet researching how best to do it I came upon LACGAL!!

    I woukd suggest coming here daily read the advice given, it’s all gold and so strange how much resonates with your own personal story. I enjoy the snark and have learned many new terms for situations, which helps!

    I’m only a year out from DD#3 (1 & 2 only friendships…. apparently, eyes roll here) and firmly in Battle Royale (divorce grinder) which is a whole new level of pain. The advice I’ve picked up from those further along this path has helped me make tough decisions.

    You’re now part of the club you didn’t want to join full of mighty chumps who will support you and anyone else new here to navigate the shit buffet.

    Hugs to everyone ❤️

    • Hey Claire,

      I am so happy that you are here still, and we are able to have this conversation. You did a wonderful job at both reassuring me that my pain is valid, while also reminding me that I have a lot to be grateful for. Thank you for responding!

      I agree wholeheartedly. Something about realizing that this is all part of the shared human experience gives me resilience towards the pain, if not full appreciation for it. Reading LACGAL and other people’s stories here has reshaped my perspective entirely, and i’m excited to grow from this.

  • I remember that feeling. I had loved so deeply and she had an affair with such a loser .
    ( bold sales rep who had lied about his own marriage )
    I thought I was inadequate.
    ( succesful career, generous chump, great friends )

    It took me quite a bit of reading and getting some distance to find my self worth again .
    All because some covert narcissist had slowly manipulated me over 14 years .
    Thank to chumplady I could see it all for what it is .
    And I have no interest in seeing my ex burn . Nowadays she is just a fortnightly financial
    payment. An accountant would call her a depreciating asset I guess . Whatever else is going on with her – I worry as far as the children are concerned but that is it.

    • Hey AFS,

      Thanks for the response. I love your last paragraph specifically. I am definitely working towards that mindset, as opposed to hoping to hear about their regret or some other ego-stroking thing like that.

      Seems like getting over that desire is a big step towards reaching Tuesday.

  • Oh man. I wish I had the words.

    I can’t thank each and everyone of you enough for your responses. I can’t do anything to repay you all for the comfort you’ve brought me today, so i’ll just have to do my best to pay it forward and support those who join from here on. Like you all said, it sucks that I had to find this place, but I am infinitely grateful that I did.

    I’ll be replying to specific comments as I can. Thank you all, and you CL, for everything.

    I won’t just be “alright, eventually.” I now see that I am going to be better than ever, very soon. I wish the same to all of us.

    • I just wanted to say thank you too Vato. You may think you don’t have the words, but you were obviously genuine, and loved deeply. It’s such a good reminder that such people exist after we’ve experienced so many crappy stories, particularly in our family of origin. I went some years thinking loving men don’t exist. It’s part of healing, but can become a cop out. <3

      • Hey Chumpkins,

        I was having a rough day today. Hopped back on the site to re-read the encouraging words, and sure enough, your comment was here to help me out. That was extremely kind of you to say, thank you so much.

        Have a wonderful day!

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