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Undervaluing Your Accomplishments

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So, Mr. CL sent me this Buzzfeed article about happy confessions. This one stood out:

The confession we needed from MadeMeSmile

Phaesporic must have a lot of chumps on her shrink sofa. This imperviousness to one’s one awesomeness is something I see in my CN mail every day.

Oh, I’m just homeschooling through a pandemic/single parenting/working a job through the most monumental trauma of my life and a cheater says I suck. I must suck. 

It’s this kind of insidious gaslighting we do to ourselves. And sure, there’s usually a jerk in our lives devaluing us. But we take it on. Un-chumping is then a process of decolonizing your mind.

So, your Friday Challenge is to give yourself some credit.

What are you actually great at? What did you think you sucked at, that in fact, you do not suck at?

TGIF!

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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.
  • #Sometimes … Owning the fact YOU ARE a #4TRILLIONDNACOMBINATION is difficult…

    #CollegeGraduate … I complained the entire last 7 years … BUT …

    I Graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration all through the last Year and Half !!

    • For all the Ladies that have “GROWN another HUMAN BEING” and labored …

      (Mine was 72 hours between my 2 boys)

      Or have been RAISING HUMAN BEINGS … Is an AMAZING ACCOMPLISHMENT!!

    • Congratulations! I’m just starting on my accounting degree and it’s inspiring to hear about other chumps getting their degrees. I’m so happy for you.

    • Can I ask where you got your degree? I am a recovering chump/single mom and looking into getting an accelerated bachelor’s degree in business administration. I need to be working ASAP because I have a family to support. Are you having any luck finding jobs with your new degree?
      I would be so proud of myself if I earned a bachelor’s degree (in a year and a half no less!) and you should definitely be proud of yourself!!!!!
      It just goes to show what we can do when we put all that energy into ourselves instead of someone else (a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way I guess 🤦‍♀️ lol).
      Wishing you lots of luck 🍀

      • @ Boudicca …

        Sorry, It took me 3 years to get Bachelor’s. I meant I was completing it for the last year and half during Pandemic.

        I am a Michigander, and I went to Ferris State University. It has an AMAZING ONLINE distance learning program. Pretty sure you can get a “Professional” degree and be working. I am a Navy Veteran so my classes were paid for. The Navy PAID ME to go to school because I have disabilities.

        The place I have been working for hired me for full-time hours. But, I get to juggle around my Boys school schedules!!

        Having a Business Administration degree is amazing. Especially if minor in Accounting.

        Good luck to you as well!!

      • I’m working on completing my bachelor’s degree online with Oregon State University. They are consistently a top-rated school.

  • I was told by my stbx that I was a low functioning person, and that he accomplished much more than I did daily. I actually believed this for a long time. Until I kept wondering why I was so exhausted all the time. Once I took a good look around I was working, in grad school, had 3 children, and did all the housework, etc. meanwhile Mr High Functioning was working, going on frequent trips (couple times per week), and going to hunting club weekly. He didn’t help around the house or with the children, he was actually just absent.I realized once I graduated with my masters degree (d-day came during this time too) that I had done so much, and was a highly functioning person. Even now I work my work schedule around the children keeping up with their activities and organizing their schedules. His sole concern is going to work. He’s requested a lot of custodial time so he’s about to see what it’s like to not get the luxury to solely focus on work (plus hobbies and howorkers).

    • OMG Longtime Chump, I just wrote the same story. We must have been married to the same guy, never there, so we’re always in charge and trying so hard to be our best. I was exhausted all the time and never knew why, lol. I also had dday during grad school. It’s like they’re trying to sabotage us because our accomplishments show how bad they really suck.

      • “It’s like they’re trying to sabotage us because our accomplishments show how bad they really suck.” – Yes, that’s it exactly. These disordered types take any show of your accomplishments as a direct threat to them. Not only because it takes the light off their own awesomeness, but because deep down in that tiny little spot they shove inside of them, they are jealous as hell of you and know that they could never do as much (because they are scared to death) and would never ever even try. And therefore they try to tear you down and control you.

      • Oh yes, the ex-fuckwit also tried to sabotage my grad school days. And I agree that it was his way to make me less accomplished than him. I never did finish grad school, but it didn’t matter in my career field. I brought in a third more money than he did with both his military retirement and his teaching at a community college. I remember before accepting my current job, he tried to get me to accept a much lower paying position. He was very angry at me for turning it down and waiting things out. It didn’t keep him from using my hard-earned money to pay for his excursions with the skank. Gosh! I had a nightmare just 5 days ago. I dreamed that the fuckwit came to me and asked me for money. I said, “What about your retirement money? What about our house you just sold? Where’s that money?” He said, “Well, I’m actually dying.” And so I said, “I’ll buy flowers for you at your funeral!” See…, I’m not unsympathetic. I care.

        • What is it with these assholes? I did everything as well – cooking, cleaning, laundry, social stuff, child, finances, blah blah. Mr Wonderful was always just “gone” and “working”. If he ever did anything he needed massive praise, so I just did stuff myself instead of having to put up with that shit.

          I got a Masters and he just didn’t even seem to notice. He said, “you’re not going to the graduation ceremony are you? do we have to?”. Years later, I had some work accepted into a conference that was a big deal for me – he didn’t even know what the topic was and when I was at the conference in Hong Kong he didn’t even check on me to see how the presentation was. When I asked him why he didn’t call, he said that he tried but the call couldn’t go through. BS. About a month after I got home from that, I decided to quiz him to see if he knew what the topic was – all my friends and family did. He failed-he had no f’n clue what I had achieved. Years after that, we ended up working together and all he did was try and put me down professionally.

          I walked away from my 25 year marriage thinking I was old, unattractive, sexless, lazy, boring, pessimistic, unhappy, anxious, overly sensitive, controlling, mean, complacent.

          Two years on and with a new partner and new sense of myself, I know that none of that is true. He had put me down so subtly for years with the long, slow devaluation process that I had no idea who I was. He had to keep me down and feeling dumb so that I would put up with the few crumbs he threw my way so he could keep on cheating while I managed his life. Fuck them.

          • I finished grad school about 2 years ago with, at the time a 8 year old and a 3 year old, a full time job and all the house/bills/everything responsibilities. He had gone to school to get his bachelors in a subject that he chose specifically because it was the easiest and something he already knew. He didn’t work at all until his last semester of college when he had to retake 2 classes because he failed them. (He had military retirement, disability, and GI bill coming in so thought that he didn’t need to, which whatever if he was actually picking up some of the slack at home with all his down time, but nope).

            One October, I had been consistently slammed at work, writing papers and studying for midterms, while also helping with a massive PTO fundraiser and the house was an absolute disaster. (I was surviving on like 4 hours of sleep a night and sooo much caffeine) I had gotten everything else to a point where I could take a couple hours and clean up some of the mess and asked him to help. He had been sitting on the couch watching an old movie (not football or literally anything that couldn’t be paused and finished later) and he told me no because he was too busy.

            That was definitely another nail or 5 in the coffin of our marriage.

    • Similar story here! I was always tired and fatigued, even before I had children, and would jokingly call myself “lazy” because I felt like my energy levels were lower than his and there was so much that I wanted to accomplish in a day but simply never did. He took this on and also called me lazy.

      It took having him out of my life and yeeeears of honest self reflexive (and not my usual brand of humorous self effacement) to realize that “Hey… why did I keep saying that? I’m like the opposite of lazy. Look at how much I do in a day. Look at how much I’ve accomplished!”

      • My then-husband never showed up for any of my college & uni graduation ceremonies either…even though his family came. He always picked fights as an excuse not to. No grad gift or congratulations from him. He was even jealous of my salary & benefits. I don’t miss him. His ego obviously needs the poorly-paid OW more.

        • My 3 important exams ( he was starting fights night before – it was awful, I was sleep deprived and worried sick- of course I didn’t aced them)
          Well, I heard about “failing my classes all the time” later on
          a semester of hell- online classes /one bedroom apartment during snowy winter , abroad, taking care of a 2&3 year old kids, while he was away until 8pm each day. Did I mention not having a cable tv cause it wasn’t practical?
          I failed. After 3 months I was so depressed, frustrated- yet I was called lazy and stupid for failing my classes.

    • Head up that if he’s anything like mine, he will hire a babysitter that will quickly become his girlfriend (leaving you to wonder which came first) to do all of the things you did when with him. They really do see us as easily replaceable appliances.

      • I think this is they way mine is going, and like you I’m unsure if he’s been having an affair with our old nanny. It’s a free new appliance! I fired the nanny bc she spanked my child, but he thought she was great. They are just the worst humans, and it’s all about who they can use and abuse.

    • This writer tells the story of how she and her ex-husband had always agreed that they would focus on his career first, and focus on hers after he got a established.

      It didn’t happen. She doesn’t mention infidelity, but this first person essay about her experience speaks to ingrained assumptions about how much labor women are expected to do, just because we have ovaries. https://www.glamour.com/story/it-took-divorce-to-make-my-marriage-equal/amp

      • That article really resonates. I so clearly remember – one evening a week after he left to go and live with his schmoopie – coming back from work, picking up my 5 year old and letting myself into the house, and the wonder of it being perfectly clean, the way I had left it that morning! The wonder of the nice snacks in the fridge ready for us to eat – instead of gone, because my lazy, unemployed husband had eaten them. There was SO much less housework, washing, cooking and shopping, so much more money, and everything was suddenly so easy and peaceful.
        And I had thought I was in a happy marriage!

      • The crushing weight of household chores and daily childcare that falls on women is another big part of my pending separation. Even if mine didn’t cheat divorce would be coming for this alone. The expectation that I carry this heavy burden of work. Then like the author states the lavish praise needed when husbands do any work it’s just exhausting. For my stbx it was the expectation that I do it all, and his entitlement that eventually just broke me.

          • I had two babies in cloth diapers and rubber pants, I was nursing both sons and washing two pails of diapers a day as well as all the other laundry, making sure they made it to their doctors appointments, cleaning house, cooking three meals a day, and then going to the commissary for groceries. While on the way, picking up the mail. I wasn’t doing the best job of picking up things in the house, as in it was cluttered with toys, when the fuckwit came home one evening and threw a fit that the house was a mess. He went around picking up toys saying, “Why can’t you pick up the house?!” I guess he was really in a snit and proceeded going around the apartment complaining about everything that irked him. He went over to the phone, picked up the receiver, turned it around so the cord was on the left side (instead of wrapped around the bottom of the phone), and slammed it down. “Why can’t you pick up the phone and put it down the same way every time?!” We had three light switches as you walk into the front door that turned on/off the lights. We had three light switches that turned on/off those same lights as you leave the living room into the hallway to the bedrooms. He went over to those three light switches on either side of the room and said, “Why can’t you make all the switches the same direction?!” Then he went to the bedroom and pulled his socks out of the drawer, “When you fold my socks, I want them folded this way!!” And then he proceeded to show me how to fold his socks. Then he opened his T-shirt drawer, pulled out the white T-shirts and said, “When you fold my T-shirts, I want them 8 inches by 11 inches!” And then he got a ruler and showed me how to fold his T-shirts 8 inches by 11 inches. Then he went to the closet and said, “When you hang up my shirts, I want all the short-sleeve shirts on this side (pointing to the left) and all the long-sleeve shirts on this side (pointing to the right). And when you hang them, hang them 1 inch apart!!” And then he said, “If you need help, just ask!” So I said, “I need help.” So he went to our Atari 64, and made me a two-page schedule. The first page listed time slots and the chores that I was to do during each time slot, e.g., 0600 – Wake up; 0600-0630 Nurse, 0630-0650 Change diapers, etc. The things on my schedule included when I could take leisure time, but at 1430-1630 (while the boys were scheduled for naps), I was to take a nap (if I was tired) or do the weekly/bi-weekly tasks. On the second piece of paper was listed all of my weekly/bi-weekly tasks grouped by the Area of the house that they needed to be performed, e.g., Bathroom: sink, tub, toilet, floor, mirror, etc. I even had a “General” area where I had listed: diaper pail, laundry, garbage, water plants, change sheets, refrigerator, walls, vegetable market. I was aghast. I honestly did not know what to say to him. I thought, “Maybe this is his way of helping and I should be grateful.” I was so mind-fucked back then. I’d love to shove that schedule up his ass so far that he would choke on it. I’d buy flowers for his funeral service!

            • OMG. I had similar with the light switch crap. Ex was diagnosed as bipolar OCD. This is batshit crazy material. I’ll buy flowers too. Gladly.

            • What is it with these disordered FW’s and their laundry and clothes? After we got married, he told me I “did laundry wrong.” This from a manchild who lived at home with his parents until he was married at 25 and I’m pretty confident in saying that his mommy did all his laundry until he moved out. I had been doing laundry since I was in grade school, so I had lots of experience by then. He insisted all his shirts and pants be fluffed in the dryer and then hanged to dry. I did this for 20 years!!!!

              He said I folded his undershirts wrong. They needed to be folded the front facing out, so he could see what shirt it was. And they needed to be folded a certain way of course.

              He said I folded his socks wrong and put them in the drawer wrong. I eventually stopped folding his socks and just left them for him to fold and put away “the right way”.

              He said I put his shirts that were on hangers away wrong in the closet. They needed to be “rotated”, so he didn’t wear the same shirts over and over again.

              One day he came home from work and went to hang up his business shirt that he wore all day. Yeah, he was gross and wore shirts more than once! He went into the closet and there were no hangers, because horrible me took all the hangers down into the basement. You know, so I could fluff and hang all his clothes to dry. He stormed down to the basement and yelled at me for not leaving one hanger in the closet. Man, I don’t miss that weirdo. After I moved out, I took pleasure in putting most of the clothes in the dryer.

              I also don’t miss him smelling his socks after wearing them or putting his ripped off toenails or toenails cuticles in his mouth and then thinking I’d like to kiss him. Vomit.

              Besides staying alive and surviving all the trauma, this is my biggest accomplishment:

              During wreckoncilation and when I thought we were “working on our marriage” (little did I know he already started the smear campaign and was talking to howorkers about lawyers); we went out to see a movie and stopped for a beer afterwards. I mentioned to the ex that I was thinking about going back to school to become a nurse. He shook his head no. End of that conversation.

              Fast forward almost seven years. I’ve been a nurse for three years now!

            • Oh Holy Fuck Amazon. He had you so mind-fucked that you thought that was help. I’m sorry.

              My ex-husband wanted me to do everything on a schedule, like his mom, but that was one thing I pushed back on.

            • Eerily similar stories here. Klootzak builds to do lists for me in an app and grills me at dinner time about whether I have made a plan of what I must get accomplished the next day.

              He tried to “train” me to do all manner of things. Finally, I would do the laundry and just dump his on his side of the bed. If he didn’t fold it and put it away, too bad.

              It’s crazy how narcs think they are perfect and that everything in a house must be done the way they want it. My purse must be placed in a certain spot of his choosing. Nevermind if it’s inconvenient to me as I come and go from the house. Everything has to be his way.

              I will not shed a tear and will sing Thank God and Greyhound You’re Gone when he goes. It is heaven when he goes on work trips. So much calm and peace without his craziness. Early on I would ask myself if he needed medication of some kind for his mental issues, but unless they come up with a pharmacological solution for narcs, he will be broken until the day he dies. And I wish upon any one of the APs who knew he was married and effed around with him anyway, I wish they would get the distinct pleasure of living with his bullshit for a few years. It’s a prison sentence.

          • Questrelle,

            As a long time STHM and chump I read through this and thought of all of the times I spent trying to get Mr. X to actively participate without my having to direct his every move.

            It simply did not work. No intuition or motivation to look beyond the immediate. Eating the last apple just meant no more apples. No thought to how it had appeared in the first place or how to replenish the supply.

            I trained my children to add stuff to the grocery list when they took the last of anything which they did until….they didn’t because they saw what Mr. X was doing? Or because they thought I was controlling?

            I know I am not the only woman out there who simply gave up due to lack of energy and the old saying, ‘choose your battles” when the kids hit adolescence. ( I gave birth to 3 children and was actually raising 4 children although one, who is somewhere in his 60’s, by all appearances has not grown up yet….)

            I took that route because Mr. X was the leader of the pack and I didn’t see it at the time. Like others said, all he had to do was go to work. He ran his own business and he had a lot of free time during his work day and work evenings. He did not run home to help out during the dinner hour or with all of the sports things my children were in. I did it all.

            Seemed normal.

            Wish I had had the guts to have had let things go. ‘Ooops, no more food in the refrig for you? NO, that is MY food you may not eat MY food.

            I didn’t because I was ‘only’ a SAHM. No paycheck = no status.

            I envy the younger women today who have careers and a means to support themselves. I often wonder what I would have done had I not given up my career to stay at home to raise our children. Would I have stayed? Would I have demanded more of him in regards to childcare and home maintenance?

            I don’t know. I just know that before I had children we split the household chores – at my request. I did mine without reminders and in a timely fashion. He did not.

            When the children began to enter the scene, he simply stopped doing his chores all together and if I did ask for help the answer was always. ‘ok’ and then the job would not get done. If I had to ask, well the implied message was that I was a nag. That look he would give his friends when they talked about the ‘honey-do list’.

            That engendered a feeling of shame in me which trumped my rage so, in the end, I was doing it all. His job load never changed. Same job for 30 years while mine quadrupled.

            And, since we are supposed to be giving ourselves a pat on the back here, I will add that I did it willingly and well. I took it on as a challenge and I got damn good at it which payed off in the end because when he left I wasn’t left feeling overwhelmed by a house and property that I didn’t know how to care for. I knew it all. What I did loose the was resentment I had when doing things that he should have been doing all along.

        • I agree, Longtime Chump. Unlike many people here, I was not devastated as much as stupefied when I learned he had a “soul mate.” I was doing so much work–things we had agreed to share but never did (housework and childcare) and things that we needed (like an income)–while he worked part-time and complained. Yet, he still couldn’t hold up that very simple part of our marital bargain. His cheating gave me the permission I needed to divorce.

        • It isn’t only the housework that we take care of, it’s scheduling dental appointments, Dr. Appointments, hair cuts, parent teacher conferences, school events, children’s homework, Science Fair projects and all that entails, other homework assignments. game schedules, Field trip authorization forms, taking care of sick kids, shopping for groceries, making dinner, making school lunches, shopping for school clothes, supplies, shopping for birthday gift for kids friend, remember to go to the party, host birthday parties for our own kids, pay bills, schedule our hair appointment, remember snack day, shop for snack, remember to bring snack, schedule children’s music lessons, karate classes, swimming lessons, cards and gifts for Cheaters family for Christmas and Birthdays, mail gifts, plan vacation.. volunteer in the classroom, ran the book fair, schedule volunteers (I was the Scholastic Book Fair lady) chaperone field trips, get kids ready for bed, check homework, make school lunches. No help or participation from Cheater. As I ran around taking care of everything including the house work, ex spent his time lounging around the house, on the computer watching porn, feeling sorry for himself, being hypercritical of everything, giving advice on how things should be done, looking out the window, off into the distance, give an occasional loud sigh.., feeling more sorry for himself, complain I didn’t compliment him on his biceps, give endless lectures on the correct and incorrect way to load a dishwasher, check the neighbors registration dates to see if they’ve expired, then report them anonymously. Get mad when I’d say you need a hobby. lol!

      • I can so relate to this. My career, which I already had started, was put on the back burner while we started our family and I helped him start his career. Once he was successful I asked it to be my turn and he asked for a divorce and moved in with Shmoopie … Joke’s on him though because he helped me loads more after divorce than ever before 😂

      • She’s so right. My marriage was never equal but it’s damn sure closer now that we’re divorced. He has to pay me alimony and it’s more than I ever cost him while we were married. He got his career first and then it was supposed to my turn and it was a fight. Now I have the money and time to go to school because I’m rid of him and his childish demands.

    • That’s so familiar. My ex used to brag that he was higher functioning than I was that’s why he didn’t need as much sleep as I did (because it was such a weakness that I was tired). But he literally only went to work and did social things he found fun. That’s it. And he wasn’t even working as much as I thought he was.

      I did more as a teenager than he did in his entire adult life. That hit me hard when I realized it. He literally only had to work one full time job and nothing else. Not that I didn’t try to get him to do more but he flatly refused all other adult responsibilities and fucked with my head over it. And I was too tired and sick to realize what was happening.

      May termites infest their assholes.

  • I am so good at connecting to people, empathizing with them and communication overall. I heard “we aren’t connected” and “you don’t understand me” and it was meant as “It’s all your fault”. Um, no. Not even slightly. I am authentic and truthful, something that the FW claimed for herself. I took it back,

  • The X convinced me I was a bad mother, cook, wife etc. I was actually depressed, but at the same time moving up in the corporate world, supporting our family while also cooking, cleaning, keeping the kid’s schedule for school and sports. Driving to and from football, baseball, soccer band, then on top of everything I decided to go to grad school. While in school, X decided to have his next affair and went on a sex filled cruise for a week with an old GF because he deserved a vacation, while I stayed home and took care of the kids, dogs, work, school etc. I found out about his affair during finals, making it hard to concentrate and finish my exams and papers, but I did and graduated that next spring with a masters and 4.GPA. He would later blame his affair on my school and said, “You didn’t need to get all As.”

    Anyway, I survived and filed for divorce after 20 years of cheating and abuse, found out I had PTSD which made me feel weak, but still kept going and struggling and now I am happy, mental, physically, emotionally healthier than ever before. It’s hard to give myself credit. I have to go back and read my accomplishments and then I go, “Damn, I did all that?”

    • I waited until after FW was out of my life to go to grad school. (Now I’m a PhD candidate!) FW never valued higher education or self-improvement in those areas. I didn’t see it at the time (of course) but I can look back now and see how he really held me back. He and I went to the same college (I graduated with my BFA and he dropped out of the same program after two years because he felt it was useless).

      The biggest example of him devaluing my efforts to better myself (and just myself, not us as a husband-wife team or him as the head of our little freelance company) was when I begin filling out the paperwork to acquire a mentor in my field. This program would have trained me to freelance and represent myself as an independent contractor and I was excited to… y’know… start making a name for myself and achieve a wee bit of independence (it wouldn’t have been much). The program would have been only 6 months long and would have required him to take on more of the housework and childcare. He sat me down and talked me put of it. “I don’t think you can do all this. You’ll have too much on your plate.”

      So, I dropped out of the program. I thought that he wanted to be around for him more and that it was important that I show him that being there for him came first.

      Years later, I realized that he *never* encouraged me to spread my wings and, often, talked me out of opportunities to spread my wings. Ambition was only acceptable when it involved championing “us” as a team or “him” as the head of that team. I tried in vain to look for examples of any times he encouraged me to advocate for just myself and… there’s nothing.

      After multiple girlfriends of his, an STD, a financial black hole, living (with my two kids) with my parents again, PTSD, and single parenthood, I realized that I finally could advocate for myself and start taking on those “I’m going to better myself” opportunities.

      Who was going to stop me? I didn’t have a FW sitting on my left shoulder anymore guilting me out of it. He had left to marry his soulmate.

      So, after the kids were both in school, I did a certificate course, then another BA, then I got my Masters, and now I’m in a PhD program.

      FW didn’t even want me to do a short, 6 month advisory course all those years ago. Now look at how far I’ve come without that anchor tied to my neck. I never would have done any of this if I was still married to him.

      I celebrate your success in grad school! It’s only going to get better from here.

      • Fourleaf, I’m also a writer and musician. I stopped playing my horn so I could be with him. If I tried to write, he would take the pen out of my hand. We are supposed to make each other the best we can be, but for some reason, these selfish beasts want us to waste away until we don’t exist. I understand being held back and not encouraged. I’m playing my horn again and writing. I’m finally just being me and sharing my talents.

        Good luck on the PhD! You go be the best you you can be!

        • Chumptothemax

          I think the biggest issue is the “ we are a team, family first, we have to support each other “ narrative …
          Add a guilt trips that every woman experiences ( not doing enough, not sacrificing enough, not being enough) and we are screwed.
          In my marriage/ the “ family first” was brought conveniently each time when my personal goal was at stake ( oh the mental/ physical gymnastic to squeeze my stuff and not burden the family)
          I look back and my approach was different- family first, but if there is something you wanna do- go for it.
          So he did.
          After 2 0 years of marriage his career is all the way there, great $$$ , great education
          While mine stopped with a stupid BA and zero work experience.
          Now, I’m hearing- so, go to work, am I stopping you?
          Nope.
          But I’m awake- I won’t give up.

    • We’ve walked a very similar path. I remember the comments about my cooking too, I thought I couldn’t cook or do anything really well. I remember realizing I was depressed, but who wouldn’t be with all these negative messages. Such a toxic statement to use your gpa as an excuse for his cheating. Cheaters are the worst humans, the mental/emotional abuse they put us though is painful. I’m happy for you that you’re free of that spouse and life.

    • Yes, I look back and say the same thing. Did I really get my BS in Accounting and then go on to pass the CPA exam? Did I really make this decrepit house that he picked out a gem? Did I really give birth naturally to our two sons and then quit my job to be a SAHM (all while he was a big shot dispatcher at an area utility company)? Did I really save us from financial ruin many, many times due to his blatant ineptness? Did I really had sew my sons awesome dragon costumes? Did I really instill an interest in cooking and gardening in both of my boys? Did I really go back to work just in time to fund our children’s travel hockey, college and law school? While working, did I still have dinner on the table each night, clean the house, do all the laundry (and in my “spare” time do income taxes). Did I really entertain his family often and host them for all events in our children’s lives? Did I really still try to have Sunday dinner with everyone until the boys were well into their thirties?

      All this and he actually used to say that I was JEALOUS of him. I thought he was nuts and told him to look that up in the dictionary.

      He also stated that when I went back to work in 1995 HIS standard of living went DOWN. Why? I guess he lost a bit of control over me.

      Why we all accepted this behavior is baffling. All I know is now is MY time. Each and every one of us in CN deserves better.

  • When I kinda started to figure out I might I have to leave my ex I started a business and became part of a startup. I did this without him knowing, I just worked and he had no idea he was that checked out. That start up went from a part time gig to a full time job with benefits which kicked in right as I left my ex. This all happened after years of being out of the workforce. I also during that time dealt with my autistic kids needs alone and my son at the time was in and out of psychiatric hospitals. (this past August was 2 years from his last inpatient stay after 7 in 1.5 years) My son was in the hospital twice the month I decided to leave when my ex told me I was in an open marriage and he was looking for love. (who does that while their kid is falling the fuck apart) It took some planning but I left 6 months later after my ex physically assaulted my son. I have dealt with all the family based therapy and interventions with my son who also was in an accident that should have killed him who now also has a ton of medical need, I go to therapy on my own, and my younger son goes to therapy and I deal with 90% custody and all the driving to sports and stuff. I did the pandemic alone with the kids AND I have a career. The cherry on top is I have been able to start exercising and I got to go 4 days this week!

    I did ALL of this and remained the safe and sane parent. I remained consistent. I am here and love them all the time. It’s never a choice to want my kids around or not I get to have them all the time which can be hard but makes me lucky.

    All of the above is kick ass but most of the time I think well it’s just my life doesn’t everyone do this?

    • Wonderful job and good for you! I think we chumps don’t often give ourselves enough credit for being the stable parent but being the stable, consistent parent during these times is so hard. It’s hard, invisible work and deserves to be celebrated and acknowledged.

    • Retired ob/gyn here. I was appalled at the consistency with which fathers of special needs children left the relationships. I recall one who actually left before the mother was discharged from the hospital! It was almost a given fact that they would abandon the family. It must smite them in the self esteem to sire a less than perfect child. Your children are lucky and blessed to have you in their life. You are mighty.

  • I was told that “all you do is sit around feeling sorry for yourself” and that his AP was “younger and fitter than you”. Almost 3 years out: kicked him out after a 27 year relationship (21 years married) without looking back, started running – ran a 10K, being the sane parent (during a pandemic!) for my two awesome young adults (one with ASD). Was a SAHM and got my first job in 21 years which I love. Took art classes and discovered how much I love painting. Friend circle has gotten bigger and I’m enjoying all that has brought me. Got my Reiki 1 & 2 certification. Finally got divorced after 2.5 years and 9 continuences (his side – all stalling). Dipped my toe in the dating world, removed it and now dipping it again. Enjoying life without toxicity and definitely NOT feeling sorry for myself. 🙂

    • Wonderful! I was a SAHM too. My entire identity was tied down to the domestic sphere, him and the kids, having everyone’s laundry done and diapers changed, and making sure we were all fed and healthy. He didn’t value any of that work, I found out later. But I wasn’t an independent “me,” I was just another part of “the household.” I didn’t even have my own bank account; we had a shared bank account. (Oof, there’s something I’ll never do again.)

      Beginning a new and independent life after being a SAHM is hard and scary. You did such a good job!

      • Fourleaf, that was exactly me. I was a “rising star” in my company and stopped when I had my first. He had convinced me to not get my MBA after college and told me that we could live on his salary. I loved being home with my kids but it did take away a part of who I was. As the kids got older and other SAHMs went back to work, it became very isolating and lonely. He was working 12 hour days, plus weekends, evenings, vacations… Now I know that it wasn’t all work. I also didn’t have my own bank account. Luckily I managed ALL of the money. He told me that he didn’t want a divorce, that he wanted to be here. I guess I was a stellar wife appliance. The Cadillac Model, if you will. The first year or so was hard. Now I’m loving my life. Cheers to you too. We are so mighty 😉

  • I continued to run my online business and helped my shell shocked adult kids through while he was acting like a total turd. I fought for and managed to keep our property ( he blamed me but gee it’s funny how banks won’t lend an unemployed bum money). I sold it and bought a house in town and renovated it while getting my breast reduction surgery(6 weeks of recovery was not easy while supervision a main floor renovation). I was actually shocked at how well I dealt with money on not a lot of income( I got rid of 240 pounds of money sucking smoking drinking dead weight). I now sit in my lovely renovated $900k home realizing i am almost a millionaire( in the house but still…) .I have a good relationship with both of my kids, lots of friends, and a lovely boyfriend who dotes on me. Who sucks????? Not me a-hole!

      • Thanks you guys! And not to ever call anyone who finds themselves unemployed a bum. This guy did it to avoid spousal support—for 4 years during wreckonciliation. First part time work then no paying work at all for the last year( oh but he was “building his new business”. That is an unemployed bum( by choice).

        • My ex wife and her sparkle dick have done this. They both made 6 figure salaries and to avoid spousal support and paying child support they both work 20-30 hours a week only now. And I sit here and work 50-60 hours a week yo make ends meet. I don’t mind it because my two youngest see the hard work and effort their dad makes compared to their lazy mother who’s always home and never working. So yeah they’re both fucking lazy bums.

  • OMG this is what I’ve been working on. My therapist has had me make lists of all I’ve done. She said to me once “you sure are working hard to make me believe you are a terrible person but I just don’t believe it.” Another time I was saying how angry at my old self I was and she said in a gentle but tired voice “that old self has been through ENOUGH. When are you going to let her be?” And suddenly I saw myself with compassion. How hard I’d tried. How tired I was.

    So now I’m working on being my own best friend. That means I acknowledge all the kick ass things I’ve done since the secret-second-life cheater I was married to for 20 years walked out, saying he had to address his anger management problems. I was so understanding. D-Day came much later. I was a champion chump. The best.

    Anyway, turned my hobby (which he hated and insulted) into a company that is now growing and exciting. Got through a nasty divorce since he hired the meanest attorney in town and got most of what I wanted, including my house. Didn’t lose my cool (in public) or back down. Maintained no contact literally and mostly in my head – though in my head took a lot longer. Cleaned out the house of his hoarded broken furniture, construction debris and garbage – 7 dumpsters. Demolished some of his “renovations” because they were so badly done they caused a lot of damage, and repaired or rebuilt them. I have more to go. Redid my backyard, removing cement and planting grass and fruit trees and berry bushes and flowers so it’s now a sanctuary. Paid all the old bills and caught up on anything he’d left me with. Raised my credit score 170 points, and refinanced my house. Put up and finished 12 sheets of drywall myself that he promised he’d do years ago and never did. He was “working” too much, you see. Put a very expensive roof and new gutters on it which should have been done 15 years ago when it started leaking. (That included getting three quotes, comparing them and making the decision – something I’d lost confidence I could do.) Bought a new-to-me car and then traded it in for one I liked even better. Changed my wardrobe, bought all kinds of facials and various silly potions I never dared think of buying before for myself. Faced a variety of other personal demons I’d been afraid to address. Got in touch with old friends. Still have more of that to go. My kids are grown now and my actual confident personality has changed the dynamic with them since they are used to the broken version of me. That’s complicated but I’m happy with the progress. I am listening to my own music again – he’d always make fun of it. And I’ve largely banished his negative voice in my head. He always had an opinion (usually fearful or negative) and wanted a say in everything I did – so this has taken a while but it’s pretty much done. I have a ways still to go on the house – and sometimes I’m overwhelmed still by how much there’s left to do but it’s so much less of a mountain to climb than it was and I’m me again. And I like me. And liking me may actually be the most important progress I’ve made.

  • He put me in a ditch and thought I wouldn’t get up – after a difficult pregnancy, post partum, getting fired for taking time to deal q pp, fighting it for a year until a drug that worked was found, fighting for the next 2 years to reconnect not knowing what was going on….I was exhausted, I was beat, I wished for death.

    In the filing he said I was emotionally unstable, unable to hold a job and an unfit mother.

    Got let go from job during divorce because I would not relocate halfway across country even if judge would’ve given me custody – took opportunity to reengage in competitive VBall and take trips I wouldn’t be able to take when working.

    Forced very detailed parenting plan into settlement after being told I was crazy for insisting on so much detail…..and I’ve been dragged to mediation 3 times on it in 3 years.

    After divorce final started a job making double what I made.

    After divorce consistently have interactions with people who are clearly thinking ” how the hell are you single?”

    Am loved by the kids in my neighborhood bc I give them my time and attention

    Know that my presence and engagement and integrity show….and that they matter.

    I’m raising an amazing empathetic smiling laughing dancing strong willed sassy ball of light who is going to be a good human being.

    I’m diving deep into this life and feeling the water, not just getting my toe wet.

    I felt like I lost everything. And in a way I did. But it freed me of fear. I lost everything. I almost lost myself. And yet I have not just preserved, I’m kicking butt.

    What do I have to fear? It feels really good.

    • #Sometimes … All a person has is …

      GRIT!!!

      It sounds like YOU HAVE IT IN SPADES!!!

      In 9 years of divorce … “Those People” have taken me back to court what feels like a bajillion times …

  • Ex told me, with a grave face, that I had ‘wasted my talents’ and that this was a form of ‘self-harm’. I think the life coach exgfOW had come up with that one as he didn’t know what self-harm was. Clearly I wasn’t good enough for him or so he had discovered after 20 plus years. I had a fixed mindset apparently, while his was in full on growth mode! I had recently retired from being the CEO of a high profile not for profit. I broke my knee in a ski accident in January 2019 and my Dad died in the following June while I was still on crutches. When he left me in September 2019, I was 59, retired, no kids, no pets, and terrified. Really terrified. I started interviewing for new roles while I was a zombie on my knees. I got lots of rejections and some second interviews but kept failing. Then I discovered the affair, another set back and was on anti-depressants just to survive. I kept going, and kept going. My 60th birthday came and went. I started divorce proceedings. And I got a paid role as chair of a Board. Very part time but someone wanted me. Then I got a partnership at a law firm. And a voluntary role as a tribunal judge. And another voluntary role on a committee. Suddenly I was turning work away. I divorced and bought him out of the house because I was able to get a mortgage. I’ll be working to 70 but who cares! And this year I got the much longed for dog. Most of this accomplished during multiple lockdowns in the UK, including starting the jobs virtually.

    I rarely take credit for what I’ve achieved. I’m very hard on myself, or so my therapist tells me. However I’ll celebrate my mightiness here. I’m so proud!

  • I have done so much in my family life, for my community and as a just a generally decent person but I really do think I’m not good enough and a lot of that is because I was looking into a dark mirror.

    • I’m confident you have a lot to offer. My Ex told me I was constantly angry, couldn’t communicate clearly, overly demanding and all manner of negative things. I’d get in these conversations with him and feel crazy. How did the convo go so awry? Maybe I was crazy and blaming? I took the step of recording a few of these conversations on the sly. I was terrified to listen to the recordings. But I did. And I was NONE of the things he said I was. I did great. It was life changing. He was the crazy one, but I couldn’t see it without a little distance.

  • Let’s see… before I took early retirement in 2016, I was a SVP at one of the top 20 banks in the U.S while simultaneously caring for my elderly parents and raising 2 children almost single-handedly while cheating bastard traveled M-F every other week for his work.
    I also grew and canned vegetables, attended and supported local philanthropic events, and maintained an active social life with my friends.
    After retirement, I went to culinary school and got my pastry chef certification, volunteered as an ESL tutor, volunteered as a docent for a local historic site, researched family history, travelled like crazy, and just finished writing my first book.

  • Shortly after DDay#2 I started the internship I needed to finish up the Masters in Library Science program I started the year before. I not only completed the internship without anyone realizing I was going through a major life trauma, I graduated with a 4.0 GPA, and turned that internship into a part time and now full time position that I still hold today.

  • I was told I was “intellectually listless” (he has a way with words, doesn’t he?) and “lost” – this was after the 3rd and final D-day, when I felt like I was floating through my life in some sort of nightmare state. Meanwhile, I was taking care of our 8 yr old boy, 3 yr old dog, 17 yr old cat with terminal cancer, was doing ALL of the cleaning/housework, washing HIS laundry and cooking all of HIS meals, paying the bills, taking out the trash, etc. And I trained for and successful ran a half marathon. And I brushed up on my clinical skills so I could return to the workforce after being a SAHM for 7 years. So…F that guy.

  • After a 35 year marriage and divorcing my cheating ex husband I’ve maintained my home, paid all the bills, improvements, helped my son and new daughter in law while keeping my 2 cats (also feeding n caring for outside strays) all on my own. Financially strapped but I’m free of the cruelty and disrespect he put me through.
    I’m 70, now cancer free but suffer from painful arthritis.
    My life isn’t what I expected but I’m fine living in peace.
    Good luck to all here on CN! Stay strong 💪

    • Hi there Kathleen, re your arthritis, I’m currently ghost writing a book by a British doctor who did lots of research proving that rubbing nettles on parts of your body that have painful arthritis will get rid of the pain and swelling. You have to rub them on until they raise bumps on your skin, every day to begin with, then just once a week. Eventually once a month. Native cultures all over the world have apparently done this successfully for thousands of years. The Roman army marched with bundles of nettles in case their soldiers got arthritis. Anyway, it’s cheap and easy and it works for me, so I thought I’d pass it on. The doctor was Colin Randall – you can Google him if you don’t believe this can be true.

        • Hi, a nettle is a plant – Urtica dioica. Stinging nettle. It’s a weed in Europe including UK and is edible when cooked and you can make tea. I think you can also get it in other countries too.

          • You can get it as a tincture in hippy food cooperatives and wellness shops. I use a dropper full in a glass of water twice each day and feel much better. I have minor arthritis, though, but it works a treat.

          • Stinging nettle makes an amazing hair wash that is used on the hair after washing, just don’t rinse it out. Boli nettle leaves, strain after cooling, and put it in an old shampoo bottle in the shower. Nettle supplements or tea twice a day helps considerably with seasonal allergies. I live where stiinging nettle grows wild, so always gather it where I can find it.

              • There is absolutely no end to the talents of a chump! That’s what this thread is teaching me. I have got a huge smile on my face in an very rainy UK. You people are truly amazing. FWs, look on your work and weep.

  • I was in sales making over $200k and FW told me it bothered him that I was going to make more than him. Then we had a baby and we decided I’d be a SAHM. I did everything… FW basically abandoned me that first year with the baby. We bought a house – I hired the contractors and got the renovations done. I furnished it… buying a little at a time… paying off every 6 months until everything was done. I took care of our son. He has special needs (ASD) and I took him to all kinds of therapies and was very involved with the school and got him into swimming and tae kwon do.

    Then when my son was 9 … DDay and FW walked out that day to move in with his coworker and her 2 boys. And laughed in my face — he told me AP was so great because she was a single mother but worked! She went to an Ivy League college! And FW said “no one will want you! You’ve been out of the work force 10 years!” And he laughed and laughed. He was genuinely excited to fuck me over.

    Meanwhile I had a kid with ASD and now traumatized because his dad left. Son was panicked that we had to move from our beautiful home and I was going to be working and not available to him anymore.

    I had to get through a crazy awful expensive divorce. But it ended with me getting solid support for 6 years.

    By the grace of G-d and good friends, I got a part time sales job during my son’s school time. Then one year later, a man I worked with 10 years ago called me to come back to my old Job at a different company. I got that job and worked there for 4+ years — full time, top sales person…. making good money. And now I’ve leveled up from there! I have an accountant who helped me with my taxes because it was all so complicated with the divorce. He saw when I had no money. He also saw the financial devastation of FWs crap choices. I completely righted that ship… got everything back in order and paid off all the debt (with money from selling the house). 3 years later the accountant said “you are a rock star! I’ve never seen anyone do what you’ve accomplished so quickly!!” That felt amazing!

    My son is doing ok. Although I can’t be home for him as much, pandemic-style working from home has helped. I am his sane parent and support. I still help him every which way and am very involved with the teachers and school.

    I have a sweet boyfriend of 5 years now. He helps me and my son and it’s been awesome. And he’s FUN (we went to a haunted trail last night 🙂

    I even got a doggo — something my son always wanted but couldn’t have with FW.

    I guess I’m doing ok. It’s hard for us to see it in ourselves. But looking back…. Wow

  • Oh Ladies of Chump Nation – I needed to hear these stories today!
    We expect so much from ourselves yet very rarely apply the same standards to our partners.

    Realizing my true worth, after years of devaluing, started me on the path to “meh”
    Tell me more 💪🏼

    • Mighty, I remember reading Diane Strickland say that cheaters tend to choose very strong and independent women as partners. And reading this thread certainly bolsters her argument.

      I believe that we are “chosen” because they know we will do all the heavy lifting in the relationship, and our independence is attractive as they use it to justify their behaviors. Some, I believe, get a perverse thrill out of beating us down and eliminating that which attracted them to us in the first place. They are screwed up in more ways than one.

      • TheDivineMissChump,

        Ahhh. My eyes are being opened again. In fact, lately it sometimes feels as though my eyes are going to burst right out of their sockets!

        ‘Our independence is attractive to them’

        I think Mr. X used that so, knowing that I was independent, I would honor his independence wherein he abused that ‘priviledge’ in order to chase after women vs being at work or at home. None of which I knew until dday some 30 years after our meeting…

        Slow learner here but I am catching on thanks to all who post here!

        • Elderly, the more I think about it, I am convinced my cheating bastard ex relied upon my independence to further his agenda. I worked long hours and had interests and activities he never wanted to participate in which gave him all the time in the world to screw around. Couple that with his business travel, heck, he had it made!
          So, after we both retired, it became more of a challenge…
          It is no wonder to me now why he couldn’t wait for me to start culinary school or volunteering… it got me away for the precious hours he needed. And when I would visit friends out of state, he’d plan and execute more hookups.
          The thing I get a real sense of satisfaction from now is knowing my life post divorce continues little changed… travel, time with adult children, writing, taking walks… this independent streak of mine serves me so well now. Him, not so much.

          • TDMC,

            I can’t imagine going through this without CN and CL. I would have thought I was the ‘only one’ and I would have thought I had driven him to it and that I was crazy for being suspicious.

            Yes, my post divorce life is a breeze too. I have other challenges to deal with but I am so grateful he is not a part of ‘it’ anymore. Freedom from him = all things are more manageable and my vision has improved by leaps and bounds 🙂

            I have no clue what his life is like now. I am completely NC and we have no mutual friends acting as flying monkeys. I do not want to know because I do not want to get ‘infected’.

            Thanks for sharing your ‘adventures’ with me. Your quiet life sounds similar to mine. Peaceful and full of remarkable and amazing friends.

  • I wish this site had a like button, because I am so proud of every one of you! It’s amazing what a chump can accomplish without a cheater-anchor weighing them down.

    And don’t anybody dare continue to belittle themselves after seeing these stories of PhDs and CEOs, because everyone’s path is different.

    My ex was never supportive of my goals, hopes or dreams, but the manipulation was very subtle and I missed it. I have vivid memories of studying hard at an undergrad course while taking care of a household that included a toddler and a newborn, and instead of being supportive, he would ask me “why are you doing this to yourself?” Looking back now, I can see that ‘family’ decisions like me not going to grad school were not compromises, but him getting his way.

    Now, I teach my kids what supportive love looks like, and I’m still hoping to get to grad school if my finances ever permit.

    • I don’t know about you, but I now realize that for forty two years I never had hopes or dreams (or a husband that cared if I had any) for myself. Always focused on everyone else and their needs. NOW is our time.

      This week, five years divorced. Managed to keep house with many major repairs during this time. Hoping to eventually be able to redo rather than repair.

      Will be retiring Feb. 1 and will spend this weekend planning a trip–my retirement gift to myself.

  • When the pandemic began, our 9 month old was teething and not sleeping. I slept on the floor in his nursery to make sure FW could get a decent sleep (she was a monster the next day if she didn’t).

    He’s never become a good sleeper, and I’ve done 95% of the night wakeups with him. I have been averaging 4-6 hours of sleep per night since the day he was born, while working 2 jobs and doing all of the childcare after hours.

    FW and her Pumpkin had me convinced that I was a terrible mom because A) He doesn’t sleep through the night and B) I sometimes lose my patience with him at 3 in the morning and say things like “JUST GO TO SLEEP I’M TIRED!”

    My dad is staying over this weekend and he has said that A) He walked the floor at 3am with all four of his kids until we were in kindergarten, and B) I am like the world’s most patient mother and I continue to speak in a soft, gentle tone long past the point where most mothers lose their fucking shit.

    So actually I’m a badass mom and they can go boil their heads.

  • I have a tough core that keeps me going in the hard times, but I don’t give myself credit for it, because I think it’s luck I have it. That said, the situation with my ex did such a number on me that there were times I wondered if, like a young pine bent under the weight of too much, I would never recover and grow tall and straight again.

    Getting out from under the weight of what he dealt me is what I give myself credit for, and doing this while handling unexpected challenges. Three months after my divorce was final my very independent mother, who lives a thousand miles away, had a stroke and needed my care. While I was there, my employer offered a university-wide buyout package that was beneficial to me, so I decided to retire a year earlier than I would have. This meant the year I’d thought I would have to sort through files and books, and clear out my office and “say goodbye” to 35 years in higher education became two months. The week after my retirement dinner I was back at my mother’s as her caretaker. This spring my mother finally decided she had to move to assisted living, and after handling that move, I’m now in a back-and-forth migratory mode between her town and mine.

    Remaking myself after 35 years of marriage and 35 years as a professor while taking on the role of caretaker and in a pandemic has been a struggle. Overall, though, I see progress.

        • Thanks! I need those hugs of yours today, as tomorrow I go back out to my mother’s to continue sorting out her condo and helping her out (those who are in assisted living still need assistance from family).

          • Good luck! And while we’re giving credit where credit is due, I think you also deserve credit for your mastery of the elegant and evocative use of simile.

    • I actually think of my late mother and can say to myself (and her) that she raised a strong daughter. That I’m safe and healthy and can contribute to society. I remember the months of clearing out her home and later her rooms in care facilities. Even now, I’ll find something small and wish I could ask her about it.

      Your mom raised a strong daughter.

    • Adelante,

      Reading what you wrote evoked much within me. It is hard to put into words.

      Change. Rapid change and then we wade through the rubble without much direction.

      I have fortunate friends all of whom are in long-term marriages with ‘good’ men. These women have something I thought I had but did not.

      It has been 4 years since dday. Much has a happened since discovering Mr. x was not only cheating but had been cheating throughout our 30+ years together.

      Numbing. Chilling. Why? because I am now seeing how his behavior shaped me and in that shaping robbed me of who I am.

      I did sacrifice myself to our relationship and I am not being dramatic in that statement – I gave up my career as well as my time etc to be a wife and mother thinking we were in a committed relationship therefore my sacrifices were for the ‘greater good’.

      Today, right now, I am feeling like I am shedding a cocoon – an outer garment that I thought was me. The realization that the me I thought I was isn’t anything more than ideas/beliefs I latched onto growing up in order to make sense of the world and my place in the world. Societies idea of who I should be according to the particular role I happened to be in.

      As a daughter, I was a daughter. As a friend, I was a friend. As a student, I was a student. As a waitress, I was a waitress. As a governess, I was a governess. As a teacher, I was a teacher. As a counselor, I was a counselor. As a wife, I was a wife. As a mother, I was a mother.

      All roles I was playing.

      And now what? A betrayed woman?

      NO! something in me screams. I shall not be defined by what he has done.

      I weep.

      I rage.

      And I tingle at the sense of excitement I feel at times now that my life is becoming my own. As I tentatively reach out and take parts of me back – discovering new parts of myself. I get to try on and cast off each and every opportunity that comes to me because I am a free woman now and I want to, at long last, give birth to myself.

      All the while feeling extremely vulnerable.

      Thank you for sharing. What you wrote is just what I needed to read today.

  • I raised my children, kept them healthy, happy, entertained, secure and knowing they were loved, when I was on a very low income (at one point a non-existent income; I had to sell everything that wasn’t nailed down on eBay), while trying to cope with the fallout from epic gaslighting and financial abuse from my ex, dealing with chronic illness that was getting gradually worse, plus trying to deal with – and hide – what I then didn’t know was undiagnosed autism, ADHD, and PTSD.

    I completed a degree while pregnant, working full-time, and caring for a toddler, using every spare second around work and childcare to write my dissertation, all while living with a cheating, lying, sanctimonious asshat who was making my life hell. I developed anxiety/panic disorders during that time, and I’m still dealing with that even now, but I got that bloody qualification!

    I’ve now cleared the debts I accumulated while trying to survive DDay, I’ve advocated for myself and have managed to get some of the help I need, and my children are absolutely incredible – I feel so lucky to have them!

  • Let’s see, I thought I wasn’t hard working enough and under-achieving… because I kept hearing how ex FW worked so hard…

    I actually achieved exactly what I set out to do after I got my PhD:
    I got a career as scientist in the field I chose at a prestigious university. I maintained a steady publication track record and shared my over 20 years of experience in a competitive field with the students I mentored. I had and am raising two beautiful, smart, funny children, almost single handedly for the first 8 years. I took care of our home by myself, kept a steady income and benefits for the whole family. All the while I was fighting anxiety, depression, chronic migraines, exhaustion, difficulty focusing as a side effect of my “marriage”.

    I am finally divorced now. I have peace and quiet and am able to see what I have accomplished in spite of everything. I am migraine free, I have peace and quiet and it is wonderful.

  • I thought I sucked at managing money. AH always controlled the finances and monitored my spending – taking receipts out of my wallet and asking me to justify why I took out $200 cash here or $400 cash there. Asking if I *really* needed name brand yoga pants. Telling me I shouldn’t buy lunch at work every day. I was sure I was this profligate spender who need him to keep me in check or we’d have no money left. As it turns out, he kept that level of control because he didn’t want me to see the $50k he siphoned from our savings to pay for his affair. And in the past 5 years since he left, I’ve found I am extremely good at managing my household budget. I’m saving aggressively for retirement and making good financial choices that also allow me a reasonable number of “fun” things – a nice vacation with the kids each year and some important upgrades to my home. I’m proud every time I check my retirement account or brush my teeth in my new bathroom or realize I haven’t carried a balance on a credit card since my marriage ended.

  • My therapist reminded me of what I had done. I had focused on what I hadn’t done. I had a masters in science, I raised 3 kids as SAHM, with zero help, I could fix plumbing, electrical, even installed whole house fan and turrets, by myself. He had quit his job of 20 years to stop me from completing my education. I started a business making more than he ever did. All while taking care of my mother and having MS, he never once did housework or child care.
    Her statement hit me like bricks. Stopped feeling bad from him, stopped needing therapy. After 46 years of being told I was less than, I knew I was more than. Tawanda, I’m old, disabled but strong and happy.

  • chumps are hard workers. it’s a fact.

    my X told me i was chronically depressed and didn’t do much. in the 2 years prior to devalue/discard phase (it was quick), i moved us out of and into our house, managed a full renovation (interior and exterior) of our house, helped move one kid to one city, helped move another kid to another city, wrote 200+ pages of new fiction, managed through the anxiety of the fucking pandemic, parented a kid who developed pancreatitis and needed emergency assistance, etc. etc.

    i also thought we were working well together because we work well together, you know? or we used to. but he didn’t value my contributions anymore if he ever did. he likely never did.

    didn’t do much. CHRIST ON A BIKE. he said this when we finally moved back into the house and there were 12 boxes left to unpack in the living room/dining room and i put it off, because i was tired, and i wanted to get back to my writing. even though he was working from my office and seated at my writing desk, because we were in a fucking pandemic.

    i work hard. fuck that guy.

  • Pandemic low income single mom who virtual schools and works from home. The little one has no idea the hideous phone calls I’ve been on this week sorting out latest for FW-safety. She’s in the garden harvesting organic veggies for a camping trip, just because, sometimes you just need to get out of town and camp in beautiful places. We’ll have a blast

  • I see a theme developing! Did all of us marry the same person? I spent 9 years married to emotionally abusive and cheating POS (it was throughout the marriage with multiple D-Days). While I was in law school (I finished in 2 years rather than 3) we got pregnant during the first and worst year of law school, he repeatedly tried to convince me to quit, didn’t lift a finger to help the household, and started an affair with his “swolemate”.

    It was a tough time, but I graduated and divorced his ass. Spoiler alert, he married the swolemate (who takes care of our kids during his custody times) and hasn’t changed one bit.

  • I needed a dose of seeing Mightiness today. Today is a down day for me with rainy and gloomy weather. I had two ddays this year and suffered through a month of the RIC. The RIC made me feel worse as if I was to blame. The FW went in this to say how I shattered him through the years. I was accused of everything from mental illness to cheating to being a bully and controlling. After finding CL and CN, I knew that I had to get out of the RIC because I started feeling that I was to blame for the cheating. The Dday 2 came along and things got worse but I got as many ducks in the row as I could and found a solid attorney and filed. FW is out of the house and sent his flying monkeys that are now all blocked. Having no contact. Not a big social circle left but the ones that remain are safe for me.
    I am not looking forward to the daunting process ahead but seeing the stories of how everyone can come out of and be happy gives me faith that I can make it through. I still have a solid job and make enough money to survive. I know the FW will try his best to make sure I come out with nothing but my lawyer says that will not happen. I feel mighty about making the decision to be free of an FW but I am still anxious about the future.

    • You are mighty. When you’re finally ‘done’, making the monumental decision to go forward with a divorce is terrifying. But you did it! And you will wonder why you put up with all the shit you did. And…, you probably will be even mightier!

      • Thanks, I needed that today. It was one of those days when I thought of the things said to devalue me like when I came home from a 12 hour day and he was angry because dinner was not on time. Just all the crap of how I made him feel and so on and once he had tears in his eyes about me saying something about one of his “friends”. The crap we chumps put up with is amazing but then I think of how they damaged us but didn’t totally break or kill us. My 25 year old son is always telling me how he always remembers how great holiday meals and even his favorites were while the FW just whined. I will be glad when all of this is over. Right now it is just great not having to look at the FW.

        • Dear ChumpedForANewerModel,
          This transition you are going through is really hard – you are not alone in that. Realizing I bought into all the BS left me angry with myself for a time. But the slow reckoning with many years of being devalued is so worth the pain. Once you accept unequivocably how mighty you actually are it can be empowering as you build and settle into a new life. You are still the same person, you just discover how much more there is to you. It’s a return to who you were and your potential.

          I love hearing how many chumps say they now like themselves!

          Now you get to step into a bright and sunny future with a big, wide-open sky of possibilities. The future is so bright you can’t even see it yet.
          Your ex and the newer model know exactly what they are getting because it is just more of the same.

        • ChumpedForANewerModel,

          As I read what you wrote above I felt a huge twinge of envy in relation to your son and his comments to you about holiday meals etc. He is going to be a good partner to someone someday if he isn’t already.

          I thought I had one thoughtful son but, alas, I am seeing he is not. When he ‘graces me with his presence’, he acts like a jerk. Subtle but profound putdowns that hit their intended target like a very sharp knife being slid between ones ribs. Weaponizing his intelligence with me.

          I have always made special birthday dinners for each of my children. They get to choose. His comment this year, as he walked through the door was, ‘don’t leave the meat in the pan, it will dry out.’

          No ‘thank you’. No, ‘boy does the house smell good’. No acknowledging the extra work, time and effort it took for me to make ‘his’ meal for him.

          By the way, I have never left meat sitting in a pan once it has cooked and this was no exception. My timing was perfect. I had just finished cooking it as he walked through the door.

          Shit and I thought we would always have a close/good relationship.

          All that changed when Mr. X pulled up his roots and went chasing after the OW leaving a trail of 30 years of neglect and lies in his wake. I was blind to it all but this son of mine was not and that is the behavior he has been demonstrating since then.

          I was tolerant in the beginning because I thought it was just his reaction and that it would pass. It hasn’t. It has gotten worse with time.

          CN has taught me I do not have to take this behavior for anyone least of all one of my own children so now I stand at a turning point as to where I go from here on out with this son. Words are cheap. Action is what counts and I can count on a couple of hands how often he has been here in the past 2 years and how long each ‘visit’ lasted.

          Tell you son he is a great young man for me please 🙂 You did good mom!

          • Thanks, he is a great kid. He had his moments when he was younger but he is very grounded now and knows what he wants. So far he has not found the right girl yet but I am sure he will find one eventually that will be right for him. He has a lot of empathy and can read people pretty well. He recognized the devaluation and discard phase long before I did and he talked to me about not taking crap anymore. I took a lot of the blame at that time to try to keep the peace. I am lucky that he is standing with me and has gone no contact with the FW and his “lady friends” and has fought off the FW’s flying monkey family. I don’t get to see him too often but we keep in touch via FaceTime a couple times a week. I hope one day to spoil a grandchild once he finds “the one”. I think he has a good picker and has his boundaries defined. Happily he does not exhibit any of FW’s traits and is more like my father (who was a great dad). I am just glad to have his support while going through this.
            Keep your boundaries and hopefully your son will come around. I know it sounds chumpy but maybe he still has some issues to work through before he can come to terms with the person you are now.

          • Elderly Chump, how rude! – sounds like it might be time to stop making that effort for your ungrateful son, and to initiate a little discussion about respect.

            After my divorce I had to spend some time reforming relationships with a couple of my young adult sons in a more respectful mould. They thought it was ok to keep treating me like their dad treated me and I let them know clearly it was not. One of them told me sheepishly as he apologised that his girlfriend had apparently given him his marching orders unless he was more respectful and considerate with her.

            So tell him his disrespect is not only inappropriate and makes him look like an entitled jerk (I may have used those words to my own son), but is cutting you like a knife. See how he reacts – that will tell you how to proceed in future.

            I also had to consciously step back from the mindset that showing love for my adult kids necessarily included cooking for them. It was such a source of anxiety for me (would they still love me if I didn’t feed them). But as they became busy with their own adult lives and many of them worked varying shifts it became increasingly difficult for them to to pin themselves to that perceived obligation to me. I also came to the realisation that they loved me whether I cooked for them or not.

            Also some of them discovered food intolerances, or had partners with special requirements, and had diets I wasn’t fully aware of. Now at birthdays we go out for a casual meal or coffee and be adults together – including for my birthday. Its so much nicer.

            Christmas is the big family and home cooking thing – and now they all bring food so the financial, special dietary and labour load is shared.

            • NewChump,

              Thank you for your response.

              It has been over a year since I did initiate a conversation about his behavior….His response was to blame.

              It has taken me this past year to come to where I am now.

              I need a break for him 🙂

              • He will come to terms with you. Just keep the boundaries and eventually he will understand that you are still his mom but no longer a doormat.

    • Wow, I am blown away. I did everything also. Kid, house, kids sports/activities, coaching kids sports, entertaining, working full time, blah, blah, blah. I just thought that’s what everyone did. Right?? And then when he almost died and had a few surgeries and was living with something that could kill him whenever-he used that to ramp up the pity party and cheat more. I felt like I was lucky he was alive and took on even more responsibility. What an idiot I was looking at all our stories.

      Huge D day before he died (didn’t live thru a final crazy surgery, and of course didn’t come totally clean when confronted with evidence) in which he said “oh, I’ve spent so much money”…on other women. Couldn’t get clarification on that. Just know people, that 5 years out from his death (it would have been an ugly divorce), I am good. Just like everyone says, once my finances got straightened out…I have more money because he isn’t spending it on other women.

      I work full time, like myself and am ok with being alone. That takes awhile. I think we are brainwashed to feel like we HAVE to be part of a couple. Wrong. Get ok with being alone before you get involved with someone else. I dated a friend for awhile way too soon after cheating sparkle dick died. I was a mess on like 9 levels at that point and while it was nice to have someone to confide in (he was getting divorced from someone I knew), in hind sight it was just a bad idea. I’ve dipped my toes in the dating scene and have dipped right back out. I guess I’m not willing to compromise on much of anything at this point in my life. Ya, I’d like a best guy friend to do things with. But that’s about it. Ain’t really feeling like I need to expose myself to STD’s at this stage of the game!

      Thanks to all who’ve posted on this. We all just did what we had to do, picked up what the idiots wouldn’t do and soldiered on. Rock on people. We rock..

    • I’m currently in the same exact spot. He’s out of the house (avoiding being served) and although his abandonment of the kids saddens me and I worry about the treacherous battle ahead, it feels peaceful and FREE to not have him here.

  • I met and interviewed the Dalai Lama and when I told narc (post discard going through divorce but still trying to get his approval), first he said, “you didn’t” and when I proved it was true and showed him the photos, he dismissed it like it was nothing. He did that with anything I might have excelled at or even attempted. I still have a problem with self worth/self esteem thanks to him. No contact for 18 months, I wouldn’t ever ever share anything with him, no matter what. I remember how happy he was when I shared BAD news, he loved to exhibit schadenfreude. What a horrible person.

    • “I met and interviewed the Dalai Lama”

      …he dismissed it like it was nothing.

      Sums up this whole thread.

      (I am awed by that accomplishment.)

      • I remember the Dalai Lama’s definition of Happiness

        Happiness is not something ready made.
        It comes from your own actions.

        Well done to all the Chumps who have climbed that steep mountain to find their
        Happiness. You are all AMAZING.

    • Jaw drop. This is incredible. Just goes to show it doesn’t matter what we do, these fuckwits are invested in treating us like we’re “less than”. F*ck that guy.

    • What an asshole. That is a huge deal. How incredibly cool, I’m proud of you.

      That just really proves to me that with these disordered weirdos, there’s nothing we can do right. That’s a clear accomplishment to anybody with a brain and he’s still all nah. They are ridiculous.

  • Since D-Day 16 months ago, I’ve…
    -paid off $30,000 in debt and am on track to be debt-free (except mortgage) by February
    -renovated our shabby marital house to make it salable
    -bought a house
    -started taking classes toward my Bachelor’s degree, something I’ve been wanting to finish for years
    -met a major professional milestone, so now I can objectively say I’m one of the top ten in the country in my profession (not 10%. TEN.)

    He Who Must Not Be Named said that he left me because I didn’t “dream.” (Which of course meant it was perfectly reasonable to leave me for a girl thirty years younger than he.)

  • I’m the queen of not acknowledging my own might. Post divorce I went back to college to get a degree that would give me a paying job. I graduated from Community College with high honors and no student debt. I will then say: Well, I got a full Pell grant as well as state grant to help pay for it. Not acknowledging that my money smart helped keep me debt free.

    For the high honors I’ll say: Well, my kids were in school all day, and I worked part time and lived off the child- and spousal support. So, I had plenty of time to study. That doesn’t take into account that I have the kids 80% (and just increased) of the time, and I also had to deal with the mental aftermath of my divorce.

    I graduated in December 2020. Amazing time to graduate. (Sarcasm) I backed up from applying for jobs, because I was unsure of… well… everything. Finally in April/May I started applying, after I’d gotten vaccinated. And out of the blue a company hires me. With a livable wage! And I cried. Fuck I cried. And I wondered why’d they hire ME of all people. Because there’s obviously something wrong with me, since I can’t remain married to someone who said he loved me. Right? And I’m terrified they’ll realize I’m a fraud, and fire me. Even though a. everyone loves me! I have the best co-workers EVER! and b. I’m not a fraud, I’m just insecure about my own ability.

    My last thing of mightiness was this morning, when my ex was pushing for me to pick kids up Monday mornings before school. I said nope, no can do. I can pick them up Sunday night after dinner, but no early morning pickups. No explanation as to why, or apologizing. Just a no, but I can do this. And he said ok. I stood up for my needs (not driving over 100 miles Monday morning), and I got it met.

    • Learning that “no” is a complete sentence and standing up for your own needs is a HUGE something to take credit for!

    • And I’m over here going, “You had school age children AND worked AND you managed to get a degree with high honors?!”

      I’m impressed. I’m over here doing work and school and I’m constantly grateful my son is an adult while I’m doing this. Because it’s hard.

      You are awesome. That’s why they hired you. Think of all the skills and discipline required to juggle all that and do it successfully. You have those skills and that discipline and you’ve proven that. That company is lucky to have you.

  • I’m so happy for everyone posting your accomplishments here—you inspire me! Thank you. And, CL, thanks for issuing this challenge today.

    When I was deep in RIC marriage counseling, my cheating spouse (now STBX) announced I abused our children, and I was shocked. Even the RIC counselor was. And I doubted my parenting. But last week my ex emailed me, “First, our daughter is extraordinary.” And I thought, “Yes, she is. And you’re welcome. Because I raised her alone while you were AWOL—high and f*cking coworkers in your office.”

    I’m aware I still undervalue myself at times. But I know I parent two kids everyday and do it very well

  • My ex-fuckwit told me many times that I just didn’t appreciate him. I was made to think that I’m cold and unsympathetic. I have lots of friends and siblings that have made me realize that I’m totally the opposite. I cherish the good people in my life and I spoil them. However, he was right about one thing. I still suck at planning vacations.

    • My STBX referred to his mother as, “…a cold, unloving c***.” Then said, “Kind of like you.”
      Because I wasn’t constantly putting him before everyone else -most importantly my 5 children from my first marriage. I’m unloving because I don’t neglect and ignore my own children so I can sit and be your one-person audience on a 24/7 basis? Got it.

      And I believed him. And I tried even harder to prove myself to him. And none of it was ever enough. Forget that I was the only one working, grocery shopping, picking up kids, etc. etc. Oh, yeah. And he also calls me lazy on top of all that. While he was sitting home all day, every day, smoking weed and listening to records while I was working and doing all the other crap. And he couldn’t even make the bed most days.

      P.S. His mother abandoned him and his 3 sisters when they were young and didn’t come back for years.
      I’ve done all of the heavy lifting for my children from the days they were all born – without much help from their father OR step father. Yep. I guess me and his mother are EXACTLY alike 🙄🙄.

  • My fuckwit convinced me that I have an audio logical processing disorder (gaslighting) whenever I called him on his shit. I realized that I can understand every other human on the planet that speaks my language, so it’s his issue, not mine.

    • Bwa-hahahahaha-hah!
      “Gaslighting doesn’t work on you. You must have a disorder.” is the ultimate meta-gaslighting. Mind-fuck blender is set to High on that one. Sheesh.

    • I can relate. I even consulted an OtoRhinoLaryngologist because he convinced me I was hard of hearing (Ha! Now I know that I have excellent hearing with a particularly wide range especially for my age).
      Welllllll… My STBX mumbles when he doesn’t want to have the conversation. I had remarked on it years ago, but the mumbling had escalated to 100% conversations with me. Our FuckWits have discarded by mumbling 🙄

  • I am bursting with pride at each and every one of these posts. So much mightiness! I wonder if chumps frequently don’t see ourselves as mighty precisely because we’re so busy either chasing an impossible moving goalpost trying to get our contributions recognized as worthwhile by fuckwits or, beaten down by that chase, busy devaluing our own contributions ourselves. Just goes to show that what a fuckwit thinks of you is such a skewed view on how valuable you truly are.

  • Oh man, this one kills me. I was literally dying of pernicious anemia that had gone untreated for 30 years and was misdiagnosed as schizophrenia and bipolar because it was at the point where I was losing my mind due to the neurological issues. I was also having all the physical symptoms. I felt like I was dying because I was. And it’s a nasty death.

    I was also working a full time job that often went up to 60 hours a week. I did absolutely everything around the house, I did everything with our son, I cooked daily, often three meals a day for my fucking ex, I’d even pack his lunches. I also had to do everything with our finances and I remember having crying meltdowns over bills because it was too much. Remember, I was literally diagnosed with schizophrenia. And I was on all the medication for schizophrenia which made me exhausted and I felt fuzzy in my thinking all the time. Ex refused to help. His idea of helping with the bills was that I would make a presentation and he would sit and watch it once a week. So, more work for me. He treated me like I was a stupid, unreasonable bitch when I pointed out that wasn’t helping me, it was making me even more work.

    At one point I went to a support group for people with schizophrenia. I was doing everything my doctor suggested. I didn’t want to be a burden on my family. Oh, how I fucking laugh at that now. He made me feel like a burden when he was the fucking rock around my neck sinking me. Ex made me feel like shit for going, started a weird fight that ended with me crying in a corner unable to understand why he was angry at me for going to a support group.

    When I figured out what was actually wrong with me and started to get healthy, it clicked. Most schizophrenics don’t work full time and they aren’t used like fucking servants by their families. If I had kept going it probably would have been pointed out to me how I was doing way too much. So he had to put a stop to that.

    The upside is life is crazy easy now. I’m healthy, working on getting back into the great shape I used to be in before I got really sick, work full time, go to school full time, still have time to volunteer and be social, keep my house clean, got back into sewing and quilting, and I even have time to read again.

    I look back and I can’t believe how hard and awful my life was and how I was able to do it while vomiting each day, passing out, being in so much pain, forgetting things like my own name, etc. But I realize now how incredibly fucking awesome I am. Anybody who tries to criticize me during that time gets a “fuck you, you would’ve died. I’m awesome.” I knew I was a strong person because of my childhood but I forgot it during my illness. I remember now. I’m not going to forget it ever again.

    • KatiePig – horrifying.

      This is why every therapist, psychologist, counselor and psychiatrist should ALWAYS inquire about physical health issues in an initial assessment. And keep them in mind as an ongoing part of therapy.

      This should routinely include sending the person to get a full blood workup to eliminate iron and thyroid and vitamin deficiencies, all of which can present as depression.

      Any woman approaching midlife should also get her hormone levels checked – although this is a bit of a blunt instrument, as women can start living with perimenopausal symptoms before her hormone levels change officially on paper.

      I’ve found an almost 100% incidence of dymenorrhea in my female clients with symptoms that suggest endometriosis.

      There’s an overlap/correlation between endometriosis and childhood abuse history that’s still being teased apart in the literature.

      At best, endometriosis is debilitating and exhausting, and makes an abuse situation worse for the woman. But it’s treatable.

      I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m so glad you got diagnosed and are much stronger now.

      • Thank you, I’m super glad I’m better now too. LOL I totally agree with everything you said.

        In all honesty though, I was seeing medical doctors the entire 30 years I was having symptoms and complaining about the symptoms and they were telling me it was in my head. I had one doctor when I was a teen yell at me for being vegan. I had no idea what he was talking about, I wasn’t vegetarian at all. But he must have seen I had a B12 deficiency and assumed I was vegan but also didn’t tell me what was wrong. I could’ve been treated then. I’m glad I don’t remember his name, I’ve had some dark moments thinking about that one.

        The last doctor I demanded a full battery of tests from lectured me about eating entire bottles of vitamins. I asked her what the fuck she was talking about, I take one multivitamin a day, I am not eating bottles of vitamins. She tried to say I’m mentally ill and eating bottles of B12 a day, the tests prove it.

        So I went online to see what else could cause weird test results like that and found the Pernicious Anaemia society. And saw I had all the symptoms. I had to order my own lab test for intrinsic factor antibodies and show the results to doctors to get any of them to take me seriously. I started the shots on my own while waiting to find a doctor who cared. My eyesight improved twice in the first six months to the surprise of my eye doctor, the roots of my teeth had been dying and horrifying my dentist and that stopped. My teeth are healthy now. And all my symptoms slowly went away over the course of a year.

        I don’t know what it’s like in other countries. I’ve met people with pernicious anemia in Europe and they’ve struggled to get diagnosed but not like I have here in the states. And I was military and have lived all over the country seeing both military and civilian doctors. They all failed me. I had health care. I had extra money to pay for additional treatment. I still almost died when the cure are shots that cost me less than a dollar each when buying them myself.

        I’ve been told that pernicious anemia is extremely rare and it’s shocking that I have it and had it so young but I think it’s more likely a lot of people just die of it without anyone ever knowing they have it.

        I don’t mean to get up on a soapbox and I definitely don’t mean to rant at you since you are clearly one of the people who care and don’t want this to happen. And I appreciate you so much for that. That you are aware of this and help your clients. Thank you for doing that. We need more people like you.

        • KatiePig,

          I have a friend who is a retired MD due to botched surgery.

          When consulting with other MDs to try to figure out the pain issues she is having she has been ignored, turned away, treated meanly and been told she is schiozphrenic.

          For 10 years now…..

          Raymond Moody, a philosopher who first coined the phrase ‘Near Death Experience’, has a thyroid issue that manifested as physical and psychological issues throughout his life. Took him decades to find someone who knew what was wrong with him – in the mean time, he suffered terribly.

          Glad you finally have found relief!

  • I’m “just a mom” and “don’t work”.

    Because of what I learned as a psychology major and because I came from a super fucked to family, I chose to be a full-time parent when I had children.

    I knew I had LOTS of reprogramming and on-the-job training to do when I had a child because could not copy almost anything of what my parents did…..

    I also don’t enjoy being stressed, hyper-scheduled, and crazy, which I experienced working full time while starting a second business BEFORE I had children (I almost lost my mind).

    Martha Stewart is first billionaire home ec teacher in the history of the world. She is regaled as a legit business woman and and my choice to run a house and be a full-time parent to my child makes me “just a mom” and I “don’t work”.

    She’s 14.5 years old now and after Father Bird burned our nest down, soul-murdered me, and flew off with a gold digging cockroach, I am gladder and more grateful than ever that I was able to be with my daughter as much as I was.

    To the moms who have extra jobs and careers outside your home….respect respect respect the superhuman workload you are shouldering.

    • And as for that second business, it’s success has been as much because of me as him. We both made significant contributions, in different ways, that the other could not.

      More importantly, there are quite a few times he wanted to make decisions that would have killed it and my decision steered the ship away from the torpedo. But the biggest torpedo? During the affair I discovered in 2017, he was not paying adequate attention while negotiating a contract with a major auto manufacturer to make several parts for their vehicles. That secret double life takes up a lot of mental bandwidth and a lot of data storage in one’s brain. In his affair-addled mind, he believed the company would reimburse us for the custom-designed manufacturing equipment we commissioned if they cancelled the project. Section 12 of the contract clearly says they do not have to. Which he didn’t read or remember. Just after he moved out in 2018, they cancelled the project. Ever since then, we’ve had a monthly payment of almost 40K on idle equipment. There are several years to go. Essentially we put 40K a month into a fire pit. The equipment can’t be used to manufacture anything else and we have not been able to offload it.

      2.5M. Plus interest. Just one cost of his affairs. And the affair caused serious damage to the company in other less tangible ways and could have killed it. And still might. The iceberg still looms. If I want him to buy me out it could end it. I have almost 40 employees to think of. So as of today we are locked into owning it together. I’m looking for an exit….

      I picked him when he was a guy working for a company for not very much money. You can be sure the gold digging Craigslist cockroach would not have. Like an idiot he flashed all the assets, the assets we have because of me as well as him, in front of her.

      He never took me on business trips for the company I helped build. When I asked about going, he said, “Oh, I don’t know what you would do. I’m in the shows all day.” Whenever he was away, which was not often, he called me numerous times every day. I figured people who have affairs wouldn’t do that. I found out after DDay that he had taken the Craigslist cockroach on the trips. For the company I helped build. Can you say RAGE? And of course who knows now if they were even business trips….

      I can still hear his cheerful loving voice from those phone calls while he was away, made five or more times a day. Fucking crazy.

        • I can’t.

          There is now legal oversight involved in owning the business together, which just means I have big teeth to use on him if (when) he steps out of line.

          The jury is still out on how well this situation works. I may wake up tomorrow and ask him to buy me out.

  • These stories are incredibly inspiring! Chumps are a force of nature that can’t be defined or contained. I cried reading these entries, such strength and determination, enough to run countries! Bravo everyone!! You are all kick ass amazing!
    We chumps can mostly see it in others and not as much in ourselves.
    I have been triangulated against the ex’s mistresses for so long now that I believed all the stories of my inferiority to the lot of them.
    When he was leaving, he said things that still haunt me five years later,“ what have you done in the last 10 years?”, “ I don’t want to take care of anyone anymore”, “ I want to get the 160 lb weight off my neck”.
    It stopped me in my tracks and I believed myself to be without any merit or value when the one person I loved and adored beyond all others saw no value in me and viewed me as such a burden, it really must be true!
    The 10 year period he references, I had three kids in HS( he traveled constantly with his job and was barely around and 5 years of it, in another state finishing up career before retirement, but home every other week) I took care of everything at home, I go all out for holidays and birthdays, gifts and activities and make it all super special. I did all the landscaping, maintained two huge koi ponds we put in. ( he has the vision and artistry to do truly incredible projects, gets all the glory and then it’s left to me to do the drudgery to keep it all up)
    No extended family near us, so it was me through the HS and their college experiences that kept the boat from sinking. ( tough years without prefrontal lobes fully developed!) All the moves in and out of dorms or apts, mom was always there to help out.
    In 2009, I had double mastectomies with reconstruction( not an easy journey, lost my mom 12 years prior to BC) The ex says he never would have got through that all if he didn’t have his mistress, lol! I had me.
    I walked the Komen 60( alone) 3 weeks after my last BC surgery. It was a life affirming experience. Physical fitness has always been my coping mechanism. I’ve done 2 century bike rides, I thru hiked the Pacific Crest trail while the divorce was processing. ( Mexico to Canada, 2600 mile hike that lasted 6 mos)
    I got a massage therapy license at age 60, honestly just for the fun of learning and keen interest in the healing power of touch. I have my RN and worked 15 years in ICU’s before my kids were born, then I did the SAHM gig, which I simply adored and was so grateful for. I did weekly volunteer work when able and played weekly tennis with some dear friends.
    I would call myself a behind the scenes intangible coordinator. I didn’t need the main stage with lights that the fuckwit survived on, but I know my input was not insignificant, even if not readily seen.
    I know this because I have three kids ( 28-31y/o’s) that are unselfish, kind, giving, loving and make the world better. I didn’t create them, but I know I influenced who they have become and it is my greatest source of pride in this life.
    I know I have a long way to go, but I am enjoying the journey and I’m ok with just being ok right now.
    I have a sign on the wall next to my keyboard that reads
    “ Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.”
    Thanks for sharing everyone, you seriously are my heros.

    • Love your story! What a terrific person you are and it’s amazing that you did the PCT.
      My parents were passionate hikers and did the daunting Milford Track in New Zealand. I’m more of a day hiker. Though I adore it, I do get bored with it after about four hours.

  • When I worked, parented young school age kids and the housekeeping was not always up his standard (he would yell when I did not load the dishwasher ‘right’ or a tissue went through with the wash or a grocery item could not be found etc).

    Now the rest of us are in a small place is spic and span and harmonious. Everything has a place and is in it’s place most of the time. We are grateful to have groceries, happily load the dishwasher however who is doing it chooses and the time a tissue went through the wash we laughed. Our walls sing.

    • Onwards,

      Reminds me of the time I got yelled at because I washed one of shirts without emptying the pockets.

      I was confused when he got mad because it never occurred to me that I was supposed to check his pockets for him.

      I apologized to him for my oversight and from then on he did his own laundry…..

      • Elderly Chump,

        Before finding out about the abuse of cheating in hindsight there were other flags such as yelling about minor things (such as a tissue goes through the wash, someone left something in a pocket and it went through the wash), disrespect and entitlement. As if he couldn’t have checked his own pockets or owned that he had not or communicated. Hoping you now enjoy drama free laundry days.

  • Consistent with the “bagged salad” theory of criticism, FW either ignored my contributions or pointed out how capable I was without him.

    I already had gone back to school and obtained a degree shortly before meeting FW. I worked throughout the marriage, anticipating a wonderful retirement with him.

    My greatest accomplishment was to leave with my dignity intact, file for divorce and practice self care. And I’m a much better human being than he will ever be.

  • WOW. It’s illuminating yet infuriating to look back on how much work most chumps shoulder in relationships. I too worked full time, did ALL the shopping, cooking, cleaning, pet care of 3 dogs, gardening, and listening to my ex “process his day”. I was guardian of my older brother who had schizophrenia, bringing him home for long weekends once a month. Took care of my aging parents until they passed. At one point I quit my job and started my own gardening business. My garden has been featured in multiple magazines, my reputation is epic. I make EVERYTHING beautiful. That has been my life. Not much money, but I absolutely love what I do. I have no children of my own, but I am KMaw to the kids in my neighborhood, and I let them all know how fabulous they each are every chance I get. You get what you give. And still, I feel less than. The open marriage my ex was hiding for 34 years was the straw that broke me. Broke me so open that a smoldering ember of self confidence ignited. I’m fanning that flame with every cell of my being. Wish me luck with my emancipation. Most days I do not feel mighty.

  • I was told by family (and fuckwit) that I’m impatient, so I sort of believed it. After Dday it occurred to me that putting up with that lazy, emotionally unavailable man-baby for three decades actually proves my patience is above the norm. It helped me to realize that what other people were telling me about myself was mostly bullshit.

    I am on the spectrum, so I don’t think people get me. I put them off because I’m forthright to the point of bluntness that can come off as rude, yet I’m also introverted. People think I don’t like them. But that isn’t it. I’m also quite disturbed and discombobulated by a lot of sensory input so I can’t go to big parties and crowded, noisy events. That further contributes to the belief that I’m unfriendly because I’m forced to refuse invitations. My own wedding was scary for me, and that was only 40 people. I plastered a fake smile on my face and somehow got through it. I cannot stand being the center of attention. I don’t like being looked at at all, and I find it hard to look other people in the eyes, but not because I’m unfriendly. It’s hard to explain to neurotypicals.

    I think fuckwit wanted to be a more social person and that’s one of the reasons he didn’t want to be with me anymore. All his friends socialized as couples and he was embarrassed that I did not join in. He’s a social conformist and wanted to be like everybody else around him. Well too bad, fuckwit, then you shouldn’t have married a weirdo and claimed you were okay with the way I am. Plus, his friends were all drunks, materialists and unhappily married. That’s nothing to emulate, but he was too stupid to understand that. I don’t drink at all and have never used drugs. I don’t “party” so I am considered a buzzkill and a drag by his friends, apparently. Well fuck the lot of ’em.

    I’m knowledgeable in a lot of things and am the person to call in my small circle when they need health advice, advice about home remodeling and repairs, pet care, and general advice on handling various situations in life.
    OTOH, I absolutely suck at anything hands-on technical. I need help just to hook up my cable.

    I’m good at understanding people and empathizing. I love to help others. I read people well, except for when I am too invested in seeing the good like I was with fuckwit, and bury my instincts. After Dday hit and I woke my instincts back up, he was very easy up read and he hasn’t been able to fool me since.

    I’m physically fit and knowledgeable about fitness. OTOH, I don’t even know how to do a selfie and don’t want to know. I suck with gadgets of any kind, including this annoying phone I am typing on. I can barely figure out how to answer it. I’m a social media luddite. I don’t even know WTF Tik Tok or Instagram are supposed to be. I hate the narcissistic world of social media and all the cyber-bullying that goes on there. I was bullied as a child for being different and I stood up to the bullies, which got me ganged up on and beaten, but they couldn’t beat me into submission. I will stand up when I see another person being bullied or abused in any way.

    I certainly have my flaws but they are not the ones fuckwit and my family sold me on. I have a big mouth, am sometimes reckless with my words, and I’m a know-it-all. But I’m NOT controlling, impatient and temperamental like I was told I am. I work hard and I’m frugal. I love animals and have had many rescue mutts which I nursed back to health. I have a mentally ill daughter who says I saved her life many times and she could not have survived without me. That was all on me as fuckwit was too big of a baby to handle it.

    I know I deserved much better than the treatment I got from him and from other family members.

    • Not to mention, you’re self-aware and honest, OHFFS!

      You seem wonderful!

      Of course you deserved much better. You deserve much better now!

      Recognizing our worth–truly believing it–is a chump’s biggest achievement. This is my challenge.

  • So recently, on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, announcer Joe Buck said “The Patriots held Tom Brady back”.

    Every Chump has been “held back” by their FW.

    Everyone soar and enjoy a FW free life!!

  • I’m really good re-framing negative thoughts and letting go of things.

    The old me could not “mentally” let go and move on from a toxic relationship even though I “physically” moved on. It kept me stuck, anxious, and ruminating negative thoughts.

    Then I started following the simple but profound concept, “Change your thoughts, change your life.”

    I am so-so-so much more happier now.

    (CL & CN get boatloads of credit for helping me re-frame my thoughts, too!)

  • I’m raising a critter who is filled with empathy and kindness toward others. He isn’t just smart; he is kind. I keep him clean, fed home cooked meals from scratch, and attend all his field trips. I take him to the library and the museum and buy him toys that open more opportunities for us to engage with each other. When he was 4, I bought a tent and took him and the dog for a weekend camping. I had never camped before in my life. I didn’t even think I would necessarily like it but I wanted us to go be outdoors where we could see more stars and hear the owls as we fell asleep. I’m all about adventures.

    I have volunteered for causes I believe in. I take care of my senior dog who has a lot of medical issues and needs pills and injections at various times. When she was too weak to climb stairs, I carried her 50 pound self up and down the stairs to take her outside, wheeled her in the coaster wagon to a good spot, and then held her up as she did her business. I spoon fed her when I had to. I did all that for several months while she regained strength.

    I have had weeks where I worked overtime and still managed the dog and kid and was expected to buy food and prep and cook and clean to host 30 people because klootzak wanted “to be social.” I used to ask why we couldn’t hire a sitter and meet people at a restaurant for dinner but gave up. I did that every other weekend through the summer (pre-covid) and after our state allowed groups of 10 to gather, I had to do it all in the backyard. I like hanging out with my friends but the pandemic has relieved me of the hosting duties for klootzak’s drinking buddies.

    I want to write a book. I have hit upon a few ideas but none have yet been “the one” to jump on. I remember starting a work of fiction many years ago and it was basically about me wanting to escape klootzak. It was miserable. I had hoped it would be cathartic but it just made me feel more trapped so I dumped it.

    I guess I have been deserving of a pat on the back for all the steps I have taken toward freedom. Developing a game plan with the attorney, sorting out and improving on my financial position, having my own burner phone (ha!) for contacting attorneys and financial people as well as my support network, copying all the financial records, moving my old family photos and jewelry to a secure location so he can’t destroy them, etc. plus doing tons and tons of research into the ins and outs if military divorce. I have spent free time drafting separation agreements, calculating pendente lite support and making a budget. When I make my move, it will be like a well planned military invasion.

    When I regain control of my own life and finances, I want to invest in fitness equipment so I can work out at home. I want to pick up where I left off learning to speak French so I can take my dream trip to France and speak the language well. I love my current job and don’t have need or desire to earn another degree.

    I saved a lot early for retirement and look forward to hopefully retiring just as my son goes off to college. I’m not trying to rule the world. I just want a quiet life with friends and travel. I want to control my own domain. I want to spend more time being active and being out in nature be it the mountains or the coast. I want to do more volunteer work. And I know I will have all this when I am free.

    Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest? 🤣

  • I’m just beginning to be able to feel what I’m supposed to around both accomplishments and being a decent person. I went back to school at 33 to get a PhD and became a professor, I’ve written 3 books, and I bought a little house for myself and am paying it off. Reading all the stories about the way their FWs devalued them really reminds me of my Dad. He did it to my mom, and she refuses to see it, and punished me for trying to defend her, and then my father still refuses to know about anything I do. If I don’t shove it in his face, or if it isn’t something so big the rest of the family needs to acknowledge it, he stays clued out.

    When I was 12 I taught myself to play piano to Grade 5 conservatory in 7 months, and then they started to give me lessons. I was bullied and socially excluded as a kid. In junior high / high school, I used to come home every day and play piano because I had no friends and didn’t even know what I was missing. I would play for hours, because our family didn’t really talk to each other. One day, a friend called while I was playing piano. I’d been playing for about an hour got up and took the call. When I went back to the piano, my Dad came over to me while I was playing, which he never did. He said, “You don’t have the ambition and drive to be a pianist. Anyone with real commitment wouldn’t have interrupted their practice for some classmate’s phone call.” I was a literal music prodigy under their noses, and he shat on my drive, and I eventually gave up for lack of support at home / school.

    I did all the other accomplishments I listed above with a kind of deadness inside. People would always say to me, oh, you’re a writer! How amazing for you that you got to follow your passion! But I didn’t, I just did one of the things I was good at and a thing that didn’t require that I have the self esteem to make friends.

    After I got called out/cancelled/bullied in 2018, I wasn’t able to write anymore. The PTSD from my childhood plus the real-time trauma of the shunning (and the damage to my career and reputation) almost put me in the hospital. I’m still working on healing that. But because I couldn’t write, I tried some new things — first badminton, then I got injured, so in fall of 2019 I picked up a guitar and figured that if I couldn’t write books of poem I could try writing songs, and then kind of obliquely doing what I had always wanted: music. I went to my first open mic 3 years ago and couldn’t really make it through songs and my voice was ok. I visited my family when I was first starting out and my mother made faces when I tried to sing. A year or so later, when I was taking lessons, she made more faces and tried to tell me how and what to sing, because *she* was uncomfortable with me not being a fucking literary superstar they could brag about but actually kind of gaslight and ignore. It was a real moment of seeing what kind of support I’d grown up with.

    Well, I kept up with my lessons, and while holding down a job and being Chair of my department, I began getting paid to sing/play: first at a local winery, then I got invited to a festival in the next town over, and this summer I had my own solo show in my city’s concert theatre where people like Bobby McFerrin and Gordon Lightfoot play when they tour. I’m taking a course at the University where I teach and am considering applying to do a music undergrad. Yesterday, I got paid to play at the same venue where I first stumbled through my 3-chord songs and cracked my voice all over the place — I’ve written a lot of my own material and can reliably get the crowd to sing along and respond with loud enthusiasm.

    I’m writing this from a live music club in Vancouver (first time in the big city in two years because of COVID) where I just got the contact name of the guy who does the booking, and have set myself a goal to play here sometime soon.

    I have to say … I don’t know what to do about my recent ex, who I always felt liked to keep me off-balance about his women friends. He has literally been my number one fan, and I learned so much about what it felt like to be encouraged from him. It makes me so sick and sad to feel like he goes around “supporting” women artists from whom he can get something. In order to be able to learn/work, I have to see him out at local venues. He is SO encouraging. SO flattering. It’s like he sees the girl at the piano from so many years ago. He was a catalyst for me being able to do some of the healing that I have, and still, at times, it feels like he is better at recognizing my worth than I am. Frankly it makes it hard to have boundaries.

    • I just reread that: the kid who phoned was a schoolmate, not a “friend” — and I guess I’m exaggerating having absolutely no one — there was one girl who kept me around for homework help and to be a wingperson at the boys’ soccer games, and eventually then one loner guy I met in 11th grade who told me I was a “four out of ten” but that was just him “being honest.” I’ve learned in recent years how much I put up with in those “friendships,” though. So, my recent culling of friendships where there was the dynamic of me tolerating being “tolerated” is real growth. It’s painful but I think it makes me pretty badass to finally face that I’d rather be alone then grasp for the attention of people who feel like they are doing me a favour to hang out.

      • I think you are amazing and powerful. It’s an incredible and inspiring story your just shared, Magnolia. I feel like the next chapters will be magical for you, and I hope you keep scripting the next chapters the way you want them written.

        I’m sorry for the crappy parents. I was always told I couldn’t be the things I wanted to be by mother, too. At an early age, I just chose to ignore her. Those were her insecurities.
        People who say stupid shit and cruel thing are generally lacking something and have their own demons to deal with. I’ve learned to cut ties with them, even family. I’m happier for it, too. In the words of Maire Kondo, “If It Doesn’t Spark Joy, Get Rid of It.”

      • I thought that occurred to me… These assholes can only mirror what they see and what’s being reflected back to you is you -the quality – the unique – the authentic.
        Keep going I love your story.

    • Your ex sounds like the kind of person who knows he doesn’t have what it takes to be successful and hangs around more talented people so it reflects well on him when they excel.

      The encouragement was real enough, but the motivation for it was selfish. Him supporting many of these talented women is just him having a lot of irons in the fire, so that when one of them happens to make it big, he can take the credit.

      You sound like you were pretty awesome before you ever met your ex, despite your parents. I’m sure you can find other mentors who don’t enjoy keeping you off balance.

  • Getting my two degrees ( full time student) while taking care of/ being pregnant with my 3 young kids, staying sane while battling depression during that time- a couple of micro-ddays, and a constant reminder that being a full time SAH mom/ student – is not a big achievement since I’m not back to size 6, I’m not dressing nice enough, I’m starting the fights all the time( 99% regarding his shady behavior) I have no ambitions and I constantly wanna stay in bed ( try that while taking care of 3 kids under age of 5 while h is always away or busy)

    Such a major mind fuck… oh yeah.. and me being supportive attending open minded in the bedroom was “ something that anyone could do”
    Mhm… h couldn’t with me… hookers were worth more

    Now- I look back and i can t believe that I was able to do it all… how?!
    I’m fucking proud of myself, my self esteem is back, I cut the bs as soon as I see it and I don’t “ fix” broken people or relationships anymore
    I deserve respect, love and care.

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