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Tuesday Tales from the Other Side

mehRecently, CN member Tall One reached out and asked me if I could run more “Gain a Life” stories. We’re heavy on the triage for newbies, but there are also folks further out rocking new lives. Let’s recognize them on Tuesdays (aka the Day the Pain Stops… I don’t know what Tuesday it is, but your Tuesday is out there.)

He offered to go first. If you’d like to be featured, shoot me an email.

Without further ado, some words of Gain a Life encouragement from Tall One.

Hello, I’m Tall One and I’m a Chump.

I never wanted to be a chump (who does), but I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m actually quite proud of this identity. I thought I’d share why I’m proud in case you are newly chumped, walking through the hell of divorce or on the fence about leaving your partner due to their affair.

We’re here for the same reason, so I’ll spare you the gore from my traumatic walk through hell. In short, through the course of my 24-year relationship, there were several D-days, large and small. Each time I pulled us back together, I felt victorious, but looking back it was merely trauma bonding and serious co-dependence.

The final affair shook me to my core and while my XW did ask for the divorce, the affair finally flung me far enough out of her orbit I became ready to separate.

I surrounded myself with a core team and they worked to shore me up through the divorce process. Little-by-little I moved on, I bought a house. I worked on really connecting with my kids who sometimes got the short stick since I was distracted by the disconnect within my marriage.

I began to date. It took a while to get the hang of dating, some of it painful, but I learned about me. I learned it’s ok to break people’s hearts when it doesn’t feel right to me. I realized that it isn’t my responsibility to save people’s happiness. I realized that most dating relationships are supposed to fail.

I kept going to therapy. I kept working on my heart. I made rules, boundaries and lines of demarcation. I’ve learned to express my expectations.

One Sunday a few years ago, I felt the strike of lightning when this woman stepped from her car and I knew instantly we belonged together. I have never felt so loved and understood. We are to be married this fall.

Getting here hurt. It was painful. There were real losses; tangible and emotional. I lost life-long friends and retirement savings, I lost what I once thought my life would become.

The thing is, all this pain, loss and grief changed me for the better. I really like who I have become. I am a healthier person. I’ve always been a happy person, but I walk around with a deeper joy.

No one likes painful change, but the gift of grief and pain can be the metamorphosis to a better spirit. For decades I was reluctant and refused to change in the manner my heart needed. My XW’s choices became a gift.

I wouldn’t be here if I tried to save that marriage. I wouldn’t be here if I fought the pain. I had to accept the process. I wouldn’t be so centered, so glowing if I didn’t learn about my pitfalls and my strengths. The same love that got me into that mess, got me out and got me here.

Come join me in Meh.  — Tall One

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  • I’m 10 years divorced (my divorce took two years so it’s 12 years since we lived together). I hated, hated, hated that man because he was a violent asshole, spendthrift, arrogant covert narc (diagnosed). I don’t know how I physically made it out alive (as my former boss once said, “Attie, I didn’t think you’d make it”) but I did. Once he no longer had access to my salary I was able to use my own money to throw everything at the debts he had run up (which I took on) and I was no longer paying for expensive cars/guitars/rounds of drinks at the ho bar out of my money. I had to take on a 17 year mortgage at age 53 to buy him out of the house, but I REALLY knuckled down and paid it off in just 7 years. When I hit 60 I had a run in with my boss about my long commute and his unwillingness to allow me to telecommute occasionally (which was actually company policy and others were already doing) so in a fit of pique on 1 October 2018 I handed in my notice and told him I intended to retire. He tried to BS me out of it saying the big boss could refuse my resignation and block my pension but I basically told him he didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground because who did he think had typed and retyped our pension fund agreement about a million times! Anyway I quit and then the whole world went into telecommute mode because of the pandemic but I didn’t mind as quitting was the best thing ever. Both my kids live just 30 minutes away from me and my baby grandson turned 1 yesterday. FW arrived over from the States on Sunday to meet the baby and I didn’t feel anything for him. Well maybe that’s not true. I no longer feel hate for him, more likely just pity. He looks dreadful and I think he realizes what he is missing because I know he loves his sons and now he’s missing out on being around our adorable grandson. So yep, life is good, I didn’t have to go through a pandemic with him and as soon as things lighten up I’ll be off travelling the world again (13th solo trip coming up hopefully). Hang in there everyone, coming from someone who didn’t think I would make it out alive and then made it to someone who bears him no ill, if I made it out so can you. You’ve got this!

    • Attie, I’m so glad you made it out! Like you I am so grateful I didn’t have to go through a pandemic with cheater x. Unlike you I still hate his guts. Until he obeys the court orders and quits dragging me back to court I think there is zero chance of Meh.

      But today is Tuesday, there is a Motion in front of the Judge. Perhaps Meh? Maybe Meh?

      I’ll keep in mind your story and keep plodding towards Meh.

      • 33, Sending you a big hug and hope that the Court ends his tactics???????????????????????? ????????????

    • Attie, you’ve always been an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing! Xxxooo

    • Yay Attie! I like it when you write “FW arrived over from the States on Sunday to meet the baby and I didn’t feel anything for him. Well maybe that’s not true. I no longer feel hate for him, more likely just pity.”

      That is what I have been feeling. Pity. Just pity.

      I don’t know what my ex-FW looks like now (I have not laid eyes on him for 4 years), but I do know his finances are in terrible shape, that he lost his fancy think-tank job, can’t pay his rent and is asking acquaintances for $ (he does not have any true friends, just ex-sycophants from his work). Isn’t that a pity. I also can’t feel schadenfreude because I feel so sorry for my sons who will have to put up with this idiot.

      • Yeah, I know how that goes. My ex is afraid of retiring because he has nothing in his life but his work. He knows he’ll be adrift. He isn’t close to anyone and has no drive to do anything, so he’ll just molder away and probably go back to drinking. That’s completely his fault and he knows it, but does nothing about it. I do pity him somewhat as I would anyone that pathetic and lost, but he deserves to be where he is. I do understand wanting something better for the fuckwit for the sake of your kids.

      • I guess we truly are at meh right! He may not want my pity but to me he looks not only ill, but sad!

    • Attie, your meh is such a nice thing to read about. I thought I was at meh when I saw my ex at my son’s wedding 7 years post divorce. Then I felt angry again. However, it didn’t last but a few days and I can almost feel pity for his stupidity. Almost. When I can truly look at him with pity, then I will probably have reached meh. Maybe in 3 years at my 10-year post divorce. I had to refinance the balance on my house for 30 years to make the payments, but I love my house. (I’ve heard it irritates the dick that I kept it.) Congratulations on making it to meh!

    • Attie – Congrats to you! Keep living your best life! Life is BEAUTIFUL on the other side. I admire the fact that you can feel pity for your ex. I am most certainly at “meh”, but any thoughts of my ex only fills me with disgust, not pity. I still think he deserves to die a horrible death, but I’m not God. I don’t get to choose his fate. Luckily, he’s fool enough to make it to a horrible ending on his own.

  • Bravo, Tall One !

    I too am past the muck and rocking my best life. As much as my life (growing up being groomed for Chumphood by selfish, psychologically disordered parents and a Cheater for a first spouse) was a relational Shit Show for the first 47 years (after some similar disastrous but instructive dating like you describe) I was reconnected with a lovely man from my past to whom I have been true (and received faithfulness in return) since the day I went to his house and he was so excited, he ran out to meet me on the walk in front of his house. We hugged there on the sidewalk and that was 9 years ago.

    Subsequent relationships are not the litmus test of success, though. They are an occasional side benefit…real success is surviving the betrayal and rebuilding.

    All this mess forced me to figure out who I really am and how I wish to live. I struggle in that I liked the person I was before Cheater forced change that I didn’t want. I remember feeling my old self change so much that I could feel it and I missed myself at first but enough years have passed that Im now comfortable with the me I grew into.

    • “Subsequent relationships are not the litmus test of success, though. They are an occasional side benefit…real success is surviving the betrayal and rebuilding.”
      Love that compassionate perspective!

    • Unicorn, over the past 7 years you have been a source of strength and inspiration for me— “thank you” doesn’t begin to express my gratitude????????????????

      • Oh Motherchumper, Im so glad that my musings, sharing and processing helped someone !!

  • “My XW’s choices became a gift.”

    This is how I feel too. Knowing what I know now I realize that my XH’s last affair and subsequent departure was a blessing. Life is so much better now without him here. I don’t say that to be willfully cruel; it’s just a statement of fact.

  • “The thing is, all this pain, loss and grief changed me for the better. I really like who I have become. I am a healthier person. I’ve always been a happy person, but I walk around with a deeper joy.”

    THIS ^^^^^

    When I finally got to “meh” (never thought I would, but I did) and looked back, I could honestly say I’m glad the affair happened. I would have stayed in a “marriage” that was slowly killing me (this is not hyperbole in my case). I’m loyal, I was brought up to believe that marriage is forever. I would have stayed and kept trying, no matter how bad it got. The affair broke the illusion. My husband dumped me for OW after ten years of marriage. It was scary, it was painful, it took a LONG TIME for me to heal. But I am a better person for it. I am healthier – I no longer hinge my value and worth on another person’s opinion of me. I’ve let go of the romantic “til death do us part” and embraced being able to walk away from something that is bad for me. I haven’t started dating (maybe I never will), but I know that I would never let anyone treat me like that again. I like who I am now. I had to rebuild myself from the ground up after more than a decade of emotional and verbal abuse. I didn’t even know who I was without him. I didn’t know if I could survive, let alone have joy again. I not only survived, I am thriving. I am happier than I’ve ever been. The future is full of possibility, not merely something to brace for and endure. Once I was away from my husband for awhile, I started to understand the hell I had been living in (it’s amazing what you can become accustomed to). I stopped being jealous of OW. I realized I wouldn’t trade places with her for the world. She wanted my life? She could have it and welcome. I sacrificed my life as I knew it to GET OUT. I didn’t know if there was something better on the other side, but I knew I had to make the jump.

    The other side is AMAZING. If I can make it, anyone can. The freedom. The peace. They are worth whatever pain it took to get here. I am stronger than I knew.

    For the first time in my life, I am financially comfortable. I have a good job. I have real friends. I have family. I have interests and hobbies that I enjoy (that my ex belittled and insulted me for, since they took time away from him and didn’t make any money). I’m in a really good place. I’m not living waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    Don’t envy the FW and the OW (or OM). So many of these people don’t understand what real happiness is. My ex and the OW painted a public image of perfect bliss, happy-little-family, fairytale love. But my ex started abusing OW (overtly – I recognized the covert abuse long, long before she did) after they moved in together. She lasted all of 4 weeks in the same house with him (in spite of the affair having been going on for four YEARS) before she fled. His life spiraled out of control and four months later he killed himself. My ex couldn’t bear that I was doing well, that I no longer needed him, that I was happy without him, that I had money in the bank. I found out afterwards (from his suicide note among other things) that their life was anything but blissful. Two unstable alcoholics who were innately selfish and immature, in a household with three kids and two exes to deal with, financial trouble (neither of them had a clue what to do with money), who had anxiety, depression, etc. OW was hospitalized for a suicide attempt. They got in screaming arguments that sometimes turned physical. It was, to put it mildly, horrendous.

    Those few weeks when I didn’t know where he was, then finding his body, to planning and hosting his funeral, to cleaning out his house, were surreal and nightmarish, but the effect of them didn’t linger. I am still happy. And my son is happy too. We are a family just the two of us, and our home is full of laughter and love.

    I made it to Tuesday. It’s very nice here.

    • I’m so happy for you! What you’ve been through is incredible.

      Love this: “ I no longer hinge my value and worth on another person’s opinion of me.” Yes!!

      Also, re the hobbies that don’t make money. I took an oil painting class while still married. X (who had his own hobbies that cost tons of money, btw) belittled my painting and advised me to hang it our basement. I did! ????????‍♀️

      But I now have that same painting prominently displayed in my dining room! I like it, and that’s enough.

      • Good for you.

        It’s funny how hypocritical they are. My ex would play video games for HOURS, spent money on systems and games, but if I wanted to spend a few hours a week gardening and $50 on supplies, I never heard the end of it. “Worthless waste of time and money. Stupid. You should be investing in my projects and helping me get ahead.” Gardening was one of the few things that helped my depression. I NEEDED it. The sun on my back, my hands in the dirt. Helping things grow. None of that meant anything to him.

        He would re-watch the same shitty horror movie franchises (Friday the 13th, that sort of thing, all 8 of them or whatever, even though he said some of them were crap) over and over, yet if I read the same book twice he’d make fun of me for it and tell me I should read something “good” or “worthwhile” (which meant something he liked). He once threw one of my favorite books at the wall in anger so hard it broke into several pieces. He bought me a new copy, but that really stuck with me. Somehow he never took his anger out on HIS things, and if I had ever damaged any of his possessions he would have been furious. I just cried.

        I am in an apartment now, so no garden at the moment. But I have happily reread my very favorite novel eight times in last year, and twice already this year, because I love it so much.

        One of his main gripes with me as a wife was that I didn’t make enough money. And when I got dangerously ill and had to stop working for a few months, he called me a ball and chain around his ankle and never let a day go by without letting me know in no uncertain terms how much he resented me and what a waste of space I was. Unlike him, I don’t measure everything in dollars and cents. Some things are worthwhile in themselves. Pleasure or a sense of accomplishment can be its own end. Relationships aren’t transactional to me.

        One of the best parts of being single is having complete autonomy. I never have to get anyone’s permission to do what I love or what I want. I wear what I want, read what I want, eat what I want, watch what I want, do what I want, go where I want, decorate the way I want, go to bed when I want. It’s so nice. Our whole relationship, I was centered (by necessity, since he wouldn’t have it any other way) around what HE wanted. At first because I wanted his approval (and he was lavish with it in the beginning) and later because I was scared of his disapproval and anger. It was no way to live. I didn’t know how enslaved I was to his (fickle) desires until I tasted freedom.

        • “One of the best parts of being single is having complete autonomy. I never have to get anyone’s permission to do what I love or what I want. I wear what I want, read what I want, eat what I want, watch what I want, do what I want, go where I want, decorate the way I want, go to bed when I want. It’s so nice.”

          This. This is why I love being single. It’s fantastic.

          • Yes, and it’s especially fantastic after a marriage in which it was either overtly or covertly conveyed by your spouse that all the focus should be on them.

        • “And when I got dangerously ill and had to stop working for a few months, he called me a ball and chain around his ankle and never let a day go by without letting me know in no uncertain terms how much he resented me and what a waste of space I was.”


          • Yes. The custody evaluator was quite interested in that story during her meeting with me, and her line of questioning was far less to do with FW as a parent and far more to do with how he treated me, especially when I was ill.

          • “And when I got dangerously ill and had to stop working for a few months, he called me a ball and chain around his ankle and never let a day go by without letting me know in no uncertain terms how much he resented me and what a waste of space I was.”

            WTF??? Jeez, that is 100% asshole.

        • Your comment about “only my things got broken” struck me, because that was true here. I’ve written this before but I once bought a pretty tablecloth for our garden table and commented to my neighbour I wonder how long it will be before he ruins it. It took about three hours before there was a cigarette burn in it!

    • Congratulations on being happy! I am too and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    • It really is amazing what you become accustomed to…his abuse was so normal after a while. One day I went to work an a coworker was SO upset, she had had a fight with her husband (who then stormed out of the house, drove around the block and returned). She told me her story and my response was “if my husband did that, I wouldn’t even notice”.

      Your story that after leaving with OW he killed himself…if my Cheater had left and realized he was living a disaster, that if what I thought the outcome would be. He would finally be in a terrible spot that he would have a hard time pinning on me. I believed that he would rather be dead than contrite.

      In the end…Im rather sure that he didnt feel well before he died and (at least in part) his sudden death was likely orchestrated by a refusal to seek medical care.

  • There’s something about being discarded by a cheater that makes you feel like you’ll never find love again. Or that you’re worthless and don’t deserve more. Or that you’ll never fix your picker and get stuck in another terrible relationship.

    Stories like this remind me that those thoughts are distorted and the result of abuse. Thanks, Tall One.

    • Don’t let them win. Let love win; love for what you want to love. Love is our superpower.
      I didn’t write too much about dating, but its adventurous. Remember, their abuse is not about you. Keep going!

  • Congrats! You are an inspiration. I left almost a year ago which was a year after D-day and still wake up sad. I try to be better but it is hard. I have to get some of my belongings from FW and officially file. My life was shit but I miss pre-D-day life. It isn’t logical but I do. I still cry a lot. I am crying now and I don’t know why. Some days later can fake mightiness but sometimes I can’t. I don’t understand why I can’t move on but your story makes me realize that moving on is possible and for that I am grateful. Thank you for sharing and I am wishing you and everyone who reads this the best of luck!

    • I’ve been here. Totally normal.

      And sometimes I still wake up feeling blue about it all. Here’s the trick; you are actually moving forward. You’ll see it in glimpses. Moments here and there that make you think, “Huh.. that woulda hurt way more a month ago…” Its little steps. Grief has its own timeline. I often think of myself on a little inner tube floating on a river and the more I can let go of expectations or fear, the faster I’ll move.

      You got this.

    • CBNO, one year is early days. I still felt gutted at a year. It wasn’t until after the divorce was final and all property transferred and child support started coming in on auto pay and I got a new job that I began to feel better. When you’re walking through hell keep going— you only have to do this once. Xxxooo

    • Hi CBNO, you are in early days. Be kind to yourself and do nice things for yourself. Everything you are feeling is very normal. It is a process. You miss pre-day because it is a life you built and knew pretty much what to expect. This is all new and scary. I am 5 years out and pretty much meh. Glad you are here and reading these stories. That is progress. Every year you shed is one tear closer to emotional freedom. Hugs!

    • Always remember that not everything you love is good for you. Sometimes I had a hard time with CL’s quote “Is this acceptable to you?” because, it really was acceptable when I wasn’t aware of the infidelity. I would have stayed married to the fuckwit for the rest of my life even though he was condescending, even though I put all my value in whether or not he was pleased. But now that I’ve been out for so long, the answer to CL is an absolute “NO! IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE TO ME!” I’ve gone on to love myself and realize that I’m free and happy and will never allow another person in my life to mistreat me and cross my boundaries (to include a child that I gave birth to). I’m a worthwhile human being and will never place my value on whether or not someone else recognizes it. Be kind to yourself and patient. You will reach a point where you no longer find ‘it acceptable to you’ too.

      • “Not everything you love is good for you.” Such wise words that are super helpful to remember! Thank you Amazon!

      • ‘Is this acceptable to you?’ is such a key concept. In the fog of a dysfunctional relationship such a question can not be answered.

        Heading toward 2 years post D-Day & a year since filing and now beginning to acquire a sense of inner peace.

        So now I think, No, this was not acceptable. And not just because it was me & my kids who were effected. It’s not acceptable because how the « « someday X » behaved is not how normal, healthy people behave.

    • I was still a mess after a year, trying desperately to get my husband to reconcile, and firmly in denial about the affair. I didn’t file for divorce for three and a half years after we split.

      Don’t be hard on yourself. It takes awhile. It’s perfectly logical to miss your old life. Familiarity is comfortable, even if you know the situation is bad for you. Starting over with something completely new is very hard. You have to forge all new habits and routines. That isn’t going to be a quick or easy process. Let yourself cry. You are mourning the life you thought you had. Grief is a process. You don’t have to fake mightiness – YOU LEFT. You are ALREADY mighty.

      This song says it well, and maybe it will help you the way it did me:

      “it doesn’t happen overnight, but you look around and a month’s gone by and you
      realize you haven’t cried…even on my weakest day, I get a little bit stronger.”

      I don’t know your situation, but I would advise you take someone with you (or better yet send someone else) to collect your belongings. I took two friends, a chaplain, and a cop when I went to get my things (my ex had been violent on several occasions, and I knew he was angry that I was taking some of the things, even though they were mine before we married – like the bed! Which I promptly took to the dump, LOL). My ex was furious that I had a police officer there, but I didn’t really care how he felt about it. I felt safer and that was the important thing.

    • Yes, one year is nothing. Another huge milestone comes at 3 years out. Don’t give up because at 13 months you’re still hurting, it gets better.

      I tell newbies at my firm this, too “This place takes a year to learn”, because we have a lot of people that quit at month 10, thinking “I can’t get this place”, and I tell them “at day 366, you’d have been speaking fluently, you should’ve given it a bit more time”

  • Tall One, thanks for this uplifting note from Meh-land! All the best to you in your upcoming marriage.

    I’m still in Chump-land, furiously trying to pack. I have new luggage, but “boundaries” and “expectations” must still be in the wash.

    I’ve found that it takes a lot of cycles to get rid of the spackle, trauma bonding and hopium—all of which contaminated so much of my stuff. Codependency, too, has left some terrible stains.

    For me, two and a half years out, I know that I’m better off without x. For reasons that so many of us share, he wasn’t good for me or for my kids. I do trust that he sucks. And I trust that his wifetress sucks as well. She conspired with him in my abuse.

    Still, I can’t shake the pain and tend to ruminate. Some days are worse than others. I feel like a victim and then castigate myself for wallowing in victimhood. I’m happier, yes, but in a sad way, if anyone knows what that means.

    So, I’m not at meh yet. I’m still washing my stuff. But good to know from someone there that the weather and views are good!

    Back to packing…

    • I’ve been there. I sometimes get anger about the whole thing. Anger helped me move forward faster over harder moments. Maybe you’re moving faster than you think. At some point I suddenly was ready to be done being anger. I remember the moment. It felt like a heavy overcoat I was sick of wearing. And they totally, really, completely suck. F-them. Keep packing!

    • Spinach, I’m here for you— I love your analogy of the wash: “ I’ve found that it takes a lot of cycles to get rid of the spackle, trauma bonding and hopium—all of which contaminated so much of my stuff. Codependency, too, has left some terrible stains.”. BOOM

    • Spinach, I think we all know what it means to be “happier, yes, but in a sad way.” We’d have much rather been happier in our marriages, had that been possible. But it wasn’t.

      I am glad we have CL and CN to help us do the laundry.

    • I didn’t reach meh until about 4 years after D-day. (I don’t know if that’s encouraging or not.) Until then, I was where you are – better off but sad, ruminating, in pain.

      Therapy helped. I also got on medication for anxiety because I wasn’t sleeping and couldn’t eat without feeling sick. It is very hard to heal and think clearly when you aren’t getting the basics like food and sleep. Music helped. Yoga helped. Exercise helped. Anything that could temporarily get me off the mental hamster wheel by forcing me to concentrate just on my body (breathe in 1-2-3, breathe out 1-2-3 when I ran, stuff like that), as well as ease some of the tension in my muscles, tire me out so I could sleep, and increase my appetite. But time was the biggest factor. It takes time.

      It doesn’t work to tell yourself to just stop thinking about something. I like more the idea of adding good things to your life, so they gradually crowd out the bad. I used to obsessively look at FW and OW’s social media trying to figure out the lies and what they were doing and why was he doing that with her when he wouldn’t with me and on and on. But as I started to do more of the things I enjoyed, I found that I just didn’t have time or the desire to do that anymore. I would get to the end of the day where I been doing something fun and realize that I hadn’t once even thought about going on Facebook or Instagram. So add good things, however small.

      You’ll get there. The weather is beautiful here.

    • I so get what you mean Spinach about feeling like a victim and then punishing yourself for feeling that way. I feel so much better to have fw away from me, but I still feel sad about the loss too. It’s sad that this happened. It’s sad that someone who seemed so good actually was just acting to get the accolades for being a “good person” all while harboring secrets that would destroy the family that loved him. I think he still does not fully get what he has done. If he did, he’d have to face it, and the reality of his wrongs is overwhelming. It is sad.

      Yet I have also had days where I feel so profoundly happy it is overwhelming. I cannot remember feeling so unbelievably happy just to exist, just to have survived. What a triumph! I feel insanely grateful that my life blew up so catastrophically, because I never would have left him otherwise. I would have continued suffocating under his covert emotional abuse for my entire life and raised my children to do the same. I’m still untangling my own skein so I can continue building this life but…it is good. And I recently got a job! Something my ex always undermined with his sullen, “I’m lonely” attitude. Thank God that’s over. And take that, jerk! I’m competent and employers want people like me because we have integrity and genuinely put our heart into what we’re doing. (But will I let anyone take advantage of me for that again? No I won’t – not even if they pay me!)

  • This topic is really great for me at this moment. I am still going through settlement discussions but the proposals are getting a lot closer. This just gives me something to look forward to once I get out of the current hell I am walking through right now. I am glad to know that there are better days ahead. I have taken some steps already to getting to those better days by making a few new friendships with people I can trust, starting to do some volunteer work and determining what I need to make my home mine.
    I am hopeful that the hell I am currently in will end very soon. I think it will give me a boost in healing and moving forward from a bad relationship with a FW into a great relationship with me. I am just so grateful to have found CL and CN. It has helped me so much and made me realize that I am not to blame for the cheating done by STBX FW.

    • You’ve jumped one of the biggest hurdles when you realized that you’re not to blame for the cheating done by the STBX FW. The next hurdle is to realize that no matter what you did or who you looked like, he would have done what he did anyway because he felt entitled to do it. Another hurdle is to realize that he didn’t love you but not because you’re not lovable, it’s because he’s incapable of knowing what true love is. You just married a fuckwit. Trust that you’ll be okay and better than ever before.

      • Amazon Chump, I have definitely seen the FW in a new light with the back and forth on property settlement. Happily, I don’t deal with him because it is being done between lawyers so I don’t have to look at him or engage with him on any level. I am strict about no contact. Best thing ever. He thought he was in a position of power until my lawyer sent out all the pics of he and Schmoopie that he had accidently saved to our son’s shared account. Of course, he still tried to dictate terms but I also have a forensic accountant on my team who brought his attempts to hide assets and move money into the light. Now that a lot more has come out, FW and his attorney are almost at reasonable. I a pretty sure it will be resolved very soon and I expect everything to be finalized within the next two months. No contact has made me see the FW for the FW that he really is. He sucks and dealing with him in any way sucks as well. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel so I know this is finite and when I am out he will be just another person I knew that sucked. He is Schmoopie’s now and I am glad of it!!!!

      • Some other hurdles for me are;
        1) The need for others to believe that my spouse cheated on me. Probably has to do with insecurity and codependency.
        2) The shame that I have a failed marriage.
        3) Guilt of what this will do to my son
        Tough to get past these

  • I really appreciate your new “Gain a Life” Tuesdays! Being a couple years out from DDay, reading stories, such as this one, really resonate with me.

    Thank you, “Tall One”, for your story. Like everyone says, it’s like you wrote my story. So glad to hear you’ve made it to the other side and found your “Tuesday”.

  • Awesome Tall One.
    I was embarrassed to be a chump and in the small town where I lived all the dudes knew me as the “town cuck”, but distance and time heals me and I’m happily not the “town pump” (every one takes a sip) that my ex is.
    I take inspiration from you and hope lightning strikes me too 😉

  • Way to go, Tall One! Kudos on your Tuesday, and I wish I could join you in Meh any time soon.

    I declared Tuesday not long ago (maybe too early?), but Meh for me is another issue. The pain (for FW’s betrayal; the ego injury) did stop, but other kinds of pain (in the ass) didn’t.
    I had to chime in (for support) because just a few minutes ago I yielded to FW XW’s unreasonable requests once again. Trying to keep it short, she never, like ever, abide for the coparenting schedule decided in our settlement, and I just go along because doing so means more time for me with my kids. This week I was overwhelmed by marking end-term papers from my students and lots of other bureaucratic issues that are expected this time of the year. Nevertheless, I agreed to pick up the kids on the previous Saturday. I just spent the night marking papers in hopes that I would have some free time tomorrow to take them to play soccer after school. Then she text me (then calls, then place a videocall…) saying she changed her shifts and is going to take the kids today at midnight.
    I shit you not about the hour; not the first time and this is exams’ week for the kids at school. As my eldest son got upset and asked to spend the Wednesday with me (as they always do) – so that I wouldn’t be alone, he added kindly, she turned into an angry mess and yelled at the kid that it is not his work to assuage my loneliness. That hurt. She is with someone else, okay, and that’s why she’s always messing with the schedule. I took her to a (virtual) side bar and told her to at least show me some respect in front of the kids – an error, I know. That she was talking to someone that never asks anything from her and always make room for her demands (I just wrote this and realized this has been my error all along), and that I wasn’t going to object this time (except for the midnight thing). That Wednesday is mine with the kids and that I was not bound to give it up for her at last minute notice. That the kid was just being nice with his dad. Then she barraged me with accusations that I am manipulating the kids to feel sorry for me. As the argument turned circular I went to that exhausted mental place I know all too well and surrendered. I had work to do (and still do, but I was so outraged by all this shit that I had to vent it here). I thought I’d already come to terms with the fact that she is an never turning off chaos generating machine, but I still feel intimidated and yield. When I am tired, as is the case now, more easily so. She doesn’t show me the respect you would owe to a complete stranger. I don’t need it from her, but when my life with my kids is caught up in the mess she creates it upsets me big time. And it has been such a good life here on our end.

    • Please keep being the sane parent. Your children are definitely not stupid and all that they see their mother doing is making a lifetime impression on them. In fact, everything they see that you do is making a lifetime impression on them. I can see at times it seems that you’re taking steps back by caving into her demands, but you are getting stronger and your children are getting older. The day will come when you will call her bluff (so to speak) and say ‘No’. At that time, turn off the phone and do not answer the door. You’re dealing with a bully right now. Bullys continue their antics until you stop them from allowing it to affect you.

      • Thanks from the bottom of my heart for the badly needed support, Amazon Chump, I really need it today!
        Yes I’m dealing with a bully for too long now and I think the time to say NO is way past due.
        She is a fucker: she called right while I was writing my post above to say she couldn’t find any plane tickets to come today (i.e., a free voucher from her airline pilot boyfriend). Who in her right mind gets into a fight with a child and his father for messed up picking-up times *before* she buys the ticket??? Any parent here knows how messy the times around getting kids ready to school can be. Put atop of it that I am working like crazy, my eldest was anxious studying for his today’s Math exam and my youngest is autistic. We just didn’t need that much more stress over what we were already dealing with and, what’s worse, for a non-issue. She. Wasn’t. Fucking. Coming. Anyway.

        • Would one way to begin to say “no” be to change the way you allow her to communicate with you? I’m also wondering if it might be a good idea to decide that for a period of time you want to tighten up on adhering to the custody agreement, so she stops thinking she can just text you and alter it. (I do understand that when her requests give you more time with your children that you want to accommodate that.)

          • Thanks, Adelante!
            She uses whatsapp texts, calls and videocalls to comunicate with me and our children. Once I spent a day out with the kids and didn’t return her calls for several hours. She threatened me to go to child protection services and to claim I was denying her access to them. I called bullshit and told her to follow through with her threat, but my lawyer advised me to try and deescalate (she is a high-conflict individual). I get that she uses these videocalls to annoy me. I considered coparenting apps, but she will not accept it. She has to see the kids whenever she wants, and her times are unpredictable. She called this morning. She called Sunday 11pm. Radio silence in between.
            As for your other suggestion, yes, as much as it pains me to say no to extra time with the kids, I’m going to make her abide for our agreement starting now. I need to have at least some predictability over my next day if I am going to get a life.

        • Sorry everybody for keep going on and on, and I realize this is quite the opposite of the today’s theme, but it’s sooooooo annoying!
          It’s not that she didn’t get what she wanted, she’s got it right away, I wasn’t going to pit up a fight. It’s that we didn’t cheer up enough the unexpected change in plans (while dealing with a lot other things). So she had to turn it into a fight with insults, taunts and crazy accusations, all while yelling at us. Over a thing that wasn’t going to happen anyway. This is crazy-making.

          • It’s delicious to her. It really is. All the drama makes her the star of the show and that is her bread and butter. If she pitches a fit when you talk to her, and pitches a fit when you try to use parenting software, why not pick the temper tantrum that at least benefits you? Get a court to mandate communication through the parenting software, delete WhatsApp, don’t answer video calls or phone calls. Texts can be simple. Yes – No – Ok – You’ll have to take that up with my lawyer.

            You deserve the peace you feel when she isn’t calling/texting/harassing you.

            • Thank you, NotAnymore!
              It’s not that she will throw a tantrum if we were to use coparenting software. She will claim she doesn’t know how to do it and sabotage any attempt. And to make the courts agree that this is the way to go I guess would not be easy. I would have to present evidence that she is harrasing me, and these videocalls don’t leave a trace other than their logs with time and duration. The app doesn’t allow them to be recorded. Maybe that’s why this is her preferred form of communication. Also, I am not wealthy enough to retain a lawyer. Mine is gone as soon as I finish paying her next august. Even then, she would charge me extra for something like that. And I just don’t have surplus money and energy at this point to fight in the courts system again. I already had to spend a lot to get away from her with half the custody of my kids and nothing to do with her stupid debts. And I have to save for the big hypothetical battle ahead that would be her seeking full custody one of these day. Not to mention getting a life, which also requires some money. Today I am struggling to make ends meet.

              My replies to her are almost always monosyllabic and I try not to talk to her when she calls – I pass the phone rightaway to the eldest kid to pick up. I just couldn’t put up today with her yelling at the kid before an important day at school (in my time with him), so I had to intervene. But I get that she’s got exactly what she wanted. Sometimes it is difficult not to give it to FWs.

              She only calls the kids when there’s someone around her, be it her boyfriend or her coworkers. I think the underlying issue in those calls is her impression management (besides annoying me) and her maybe trying to build a bullshit case of parental alienation. Denying her those dreadful videocalls is conferring some verossimilitude to her claims. I think that is why my lawyer thinks I should keep on these shit-sandwiches diet for a little bit longer. Thanks again for your support, I really needed it today.

              • … and she always wears headphones when she calls, so she can manage the output on her end (to her show’s audience, so to speak). I was quite exasperated lately that her responses don’t quite match the content and form of what I am saying. A fight would break out of nowhere (just like today). I think I understand what she’s doing now… One day she was saying something completely unrelated to what was being discussed and I dared her to continue the conversation without headphones (she was at her boyfriend’s place). The reply I got was “You’re not the boss of me”. No kidding.

    • Sorry BrazilianChump, parallel parenting with a FW is it’s own version of hell sometimes. It sucks when they use the children to mess with you. My FW XH tried early on, 4 years ago, to “switch days” when it was inconvenient for him, read when he had weekend or vacation plans with secret Schmoopie, regardless if it was helping me out or not. I am a career scientist and was usually cramming all my experiments the few days the kids were away so that I would have more time for them when they were back with me. It was always inconvenient and he knew it. It killed me but I had to learn to say NO. I too had to learn the hard way that it was never beneficial to the kids, just him. However bad I wanted to see them it always but me in the ass eventually, so I had to change. I would get a text asking me to change my plans. I had to learn to take a deep breath, answer “I’ll check my schedule”, wait hours or a day and answer eventually “sorry it doesn’t work for me” over and over again until he learned. Most times he had already figured something else out by then. I was just the easy free babysitter,… until I wasn’t.

      • Thank you, very much, FuckThatShit, I can relate to all you said. I cannot start to tell you how my research has suffered from me breeding with a FW. Sorry for how it impacted your work, I totally get it. And yes, I am the free babysitter for her fucking around and have been for many years now even when it was unbeknownst to me. Schedule’s changes are always about partying with BF.
        This shit is going to end now.

        • My ex often likes to make last minute custody change requests around the holidays. We have a very explicit, clear, holiday schedule. He likes to try to play the guilt card with, “I just don’t want to miss anything.”
          My go to reply is, “I’m sorry I cannot accommodate your request, I have made plans according to the schedule in our divorce decree.” I just ignore the claims about missing things. Don’t take the bait! If he didn’t want her to miss things, he would plan better. And guess what, the nature of divorce is sometimes kids aren’t around for certain things. If he was so worried about that, he should have thought twice about the divorce.

          • Yep, CurlyChump, mine too doesn’t want to miss anything. Except for homework, nail-clipping, haircuts, parents-teachers meetings, ER visits, medical appointments in general, therapy, vaccination and boring things like that. Non-instagrammable things, I guess. She actually either forgot, missed, skipped, delegated to me, neglected, downplayed or “is against” each one of the things in this list. Fucker.

        • They are chaos generators, so the videocalls she’s getting her jollies (like booze for an alcoholic), by watching your reaction – especially if it’s negative. They love that shit. Shut that shit down. The videocalls are feeding the troll, if you will.

          Are your kids old enough to have their own phones? Each of mine got their first phone around 8-9. Once my kids had their own phones, Dracula started texting them (I’ve blocked him so he can’t rage-text me, only email). Blocking him on text & calls gave me so much more peace and allows you to heal.

          • Thanks, Chris W.
            Shutting this shit down is against my lawyer’s advice. But I begin to think she is being weak on the subject. She blocked my FW XW after being harassed and yelled at by her and maybe is just trying to prevent that I make part of our communication go through her. She can’t stand the sight of FW after she was called Peppa Pig.
            Nowadays FW XW is unable to ellicit any reaction from me, either positive or negative. It’s only when she harasses my eldest son during my custody time that I intervene, but even this is maybe ill-advised.
            A fellow chump from this site once suggested that I put my kids on headphones during those videocalls. I started doing so and it worked. But today I was in a hurry and didn’t do this.
            My youngest (8) is autistic, almost nonverbal, while my eldest (10) has pronounced autistic traits, high levels of anxiety being the main one. I was not comfortable with him having his own phone right now because of social media and cyber bullying (for the youngest it is out of question), but I will reconsider (you really got me tempted). Thanks for the support and friendly advice.

    • It’s always stunning to me how cheaters in the midst of cheating antics seem utterly convinced they are the wronged party and every rotten thing they do to chumps is “just desserts” and well deserved. It’s almost mesmerizing. I’ve decided it’s because they’re entire thought process is sick. If that sounds somewhat sad sausage or minimizing of the seriousness, when seeing the biographical film Arendt on the philosopher, I was very struck by her pronouncement that the Nazi defendant Adolf Eichmann “doesn’t know how to think.”

      The scary thing is that I believe this “thinking disorder” in cheaters/abusers is identical in shape if not in scale to that of serial killers.I’ve shared this before but here’s something to look up online (a pdf at
      “Denying the Darkness: Exploring the Discourses of Neutralization of Bundy, Gacy, and Dahmer”
      Veronyka James
      Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Shenandoah University, Winchester, VA 22601, U

      Once I understood this, I became aware how I was getting hooked by relentless FOG tactics (“fear, obligation, guilt”). I felt guilty and indebted! Over what, I couldn’t tell you, but FW was so convinced and so convincing that he was the martyr and victim that there was an inherent threat underlying it: that he could also convince bystanders that he was my victim and that I was an awful person and, by extension, a terrible parent.

      I know we’re not supposed to care what others think of us but when what they think leads to action and extreme injustice– such as robbing custody of children and crucial assets, destroying professional reputations, etc., etc.,– it’s no longer just a self esteem issue. That was the “fear” part and, for me, it was extremely potent. It didn’t matter that FW’s perspective was total bs. My fear was of his power of persuasion over others due to being so mesmerizingly convinced of his own narrative which was in turn due to his serial killer-like thought process. Another chump here called that thought process “the endless sea of all my fault.” Inside the heads of abusers is basically an elaborate symphony of blame and rationalizations at the expense of their victims. Or maybe you could compare it to an endurance sport for which they’re always training.

      In other words, you will never, ever, ever be able to convince them that you are not to blame for everything because they’re champions and have more practice. The trick is only to convince yourself by breaking the spell. I realized that the very things he blamed me for and terrible character traits he projected onto me were actually the very things he feared I’d become/embody because that’s exactly what it took to upend his game. He was basically trying to brainwash me out of being as duplicitous and predatory as I needed to be to remove the threat he posed and get out from under his control. I had to lay in wait and document all his bad behaviors and flaws to counter the case I sensed he was building against me. Doing this helped allay my fears of what he could potentially do to my life, reputation, relationships with my kids, etc.

      The difference between me and him is that for me the battle-ready state of mind was only temporary and pragmatic, not a way of life. In the end I would be able to go back to my more positive, constructive self– maybe with a helpful little edge and a few more defenses but still me.

      • Wow, just wow, Hell of a Chump! Thank you for this reply, a needed this validation today. Yes, for all you have said. I am definitely going to read the paper on Bundy et caterva as soon as I can. I always learn so much from your educated perspective of a DV victim’s advocate, thank you!
        You put in words what has been a feeling of mine for long now: this battle-ready state of mind is just their second nature and quite exhaustive to mantain for longs stretchs of time for us non-fuckwits. I have been feeling overwhelmed by having to keep my cards close to my chest all the time, by mantaining a giga-bytes worth of shit-sandwiches and documentation of FW’s parental screw-ups, et cetera. All to try and minimize the fallout from the next sucker punch. I can’t wait for this nightmare to end, so that I can lay on my back again and relax.
        And yes, there is fear of what crazy case they’re building out of bullshit and it’s definitely not a self steem issue, but a self preservation one.
        The “endless sea of all my fault” is another turn of phrase that applies perfectly to my situation. The very sound of her yelling voice instantly sends me spinning to a place of fear, obligation, and guilty (for what?) out of where I can only reply “yes, as you wish”.
        “It’s always stunning to me how cheaters in the midst of cheating antics seem utterly convinced they are the wronged party and every rotten thing they do to chumps is “just desserts” and well deserved. It’s almost mesmerizing. I’ve decided it’s because they’re entire thought process is sick”.
        Amen to this. And yes, the evil is indeed as banal as fuckwits can be and it is still evil nevertheless.
        Thank you for your supportive words and wisdom!

        • BrazilianChump, I am so sorry that you have to go through this when all you want to do is spend time with your kids. Your time with them should be quiet and sane without interruption from the FW. I hope your kids are seeing your for being the sane, kind and rational parent. You sound very grounded and focused on being a great dad to your kids. I am just so sorry that you FW ex just wants to do anything she can to destroy your relationship with your kids and keep you from reaching your well deserved Tuesday. Stay strong and keep your kindness and respect towards women,. Your FW ex-wife is polar opposite of how a sane parent should act in front of her children. I know you have had to eat some major shit sandwiches but be that great example of a parent for your kids. Stay strong and document the craziness with the FW, hopefully it will help your case in your country (not sure how different the system is there. Of course being the good and sane parent is always best.

          • Thank you for your kind words, CFANM! I do try my best to provide the kids as much stability as possible, they being in two different households every week. And I also try my best not to lose my shit over this bullying from FW XW, but today it was tough.
            I do think spending some days every week with each parent is the second-best option for the kids – the first being an intact and abuse-free family – and do not intend to seek full custody (I considered this once or twice when abuse was likely to be involved). But if I was to think of what suits myself only, that would be it. As for FW XW, I am pretty sure she doesn’t want custody of them – her actions allow that interpretation – but she threatens me nonetheless to seek full custody in the near future. I am documenting *everything* if that day ever come. Thank you!

        • I’m glad some of this is useful.

          It’s so true what you say, it’s not as exhausting for FWs to live and breathe in battle mode. I love people who are very good at living in peace, only kicking into badassery if they really have to but would rather not. Meanwhile if FWs were countries they’d have grossly overblown defense budgets and lavish parades while roads and bridges collapsed and the population starved.

          • “if FWs were countries they’d have grossly overblown defense budgets and lavish parades while roads and bridges collapsed and the population starved”.

            Hahaha, perfect! And don’t forget the internal surveillance apparatus, the police state, the subservient media outlets and the useful idiots churning out war propaganda 24/7 within borders and abroad.

            P.S.: shouted yay! out loud at your mentioning Manufacturing Consent the other day.

            • Ah, I forgot the surveillance state stuff. That’s probably because, when push came shove, I was much better at gathering intel than FW and all the key people around the kids and I were in my side, not his. I’d rather not have to be so extreme but he made me believe this was necessary.

              To milk the analogy, his dictatorship turned out to be a flimsy rogue state which fell from a stiff breeze. Attempting to cast me as a bad parent was really just his attempt to stun me into submission or something when I started asking too many questions. But I didn’t know that at the time. I had terrible recurring nightmares about it and was geared up to bring down the Berlin Wall or Mussolini.

        • Yes, I was like this in Years 2-4 after my divorce, always on guard in case he tried to go back to court for full custody. Then, on top of the mountain of evidence I had as to how much he sucked as a parent, he fell behind in child support by $30k. Anything over $10k is a felony. So, by then, when he’d threaten or get uppity, I’d just respond “Bring it, Bitch, let’s go.”

          Once he knew I wasn’t afraid, he stopped. They smell your fear like the Shark in a People-Meat-Suit-Abomination that they are. Like all monsters, they feed on your fear. Making you afraid gives them energy.

          • Very true. My ex would go on about my son’s weight and say he was going to contact the doctor and school nurse. I would stress he was going to do it all the time. I’d get weekly messages and then I thought one day ‘He’s doing this as he knows it’s a way of getting at me’. His last communication about the subject of my son’s weight was when he said he felt he HAD to contact the school nurse and doctor and my response was ‘Do what you need to do’. He didn’t call the doctor or the school nurse and he’s never mentioned it since. I took the power away.

            • ChumpyLou, my FW XW asked to talk to me the other day about my eldest kid’s English teacher having his nails painted pink (the teacher’s nails!). She wanted me to file a complaint with the school principal. I told her I saw nothing to complain about, to which she suggested the cheater was stimulating homossexual behaviour among his students. I told her (as politely as humanely possible) that her point doesn’t make sense for me and suggested that she went to school to talk about whatever is bothering her. She never showed up. Indeed, she doesn’t show up to our parents-teacher meetings. More to the point, she never clips or sons’ nails (sometimes when I pick them up they’re like little hawks), but she gets deeply disturbed by other people’s nails. FWs are hypocrites.

          • Totally, Chris W! I was just rereading those really helpful responses of yours now that my FW XW is threatening to drag me to court over tax refund issues. There are also new kids related issues, that I will not delve in here, for brevity. Suffices to say she expected me to be affraid of her, and I was not (at least I didn’t let it show). I took it to heart your advice about getting my eldest son his own phone and am now convinced that this is the way to go. I can manage his phone usage regarding multi-players games and social media in order to protect him, while still protecting my own mental well-being (i.e., not having to interact with FW XW through whatsapp anymore). She is blocked on my whatsapp right now due to insulting me in front of the kids last time we talked. I intend to keep her blocked for good now. I am going to buy my kid’s phone this week. Thank you very much for your advice.

    • “She doesn’t show me the respect you would” show a complete stranger.
      That’s it in a nutshell. But I realize my X didn’t respect most people anyway, they were all of a lesser form.

      • Telomeres,
        most people are lesser forms to my FW too, but she doesn’t allow her opinions of them in the open. Many os her flying monkeys were disparraged by her to me on a regular basis (but they are unaware of that). But the only people I have ever witnessed she treat like she treats me are housemaids and babysitters.

    • Brazilian chump
      Midnight? Wtf , yep she’s a selfish chaotic b*
      I’ve got the same type of ex so your comment triggered me.
      Stay sane, rational, no contact wherever possible – although this makes them even crazier with rage (sigh). Our kids see what’s going on, my son refuses to do the full 4 nights a fortnight with his dad as he knows he can’t get him to school with all the right gear. Our kids know who to rely on, focus on that – focus on the long term.

      • Thank you so much, NoMoreChaos!
        It does look like we’re dealing with pretty much the same shit. I joke to a friend that if I wanted to hide money from my FW XW all I had to do is to place the bills inside my kids’ school backpacks. I can tell from the filthy state (full of paper and pencil scraps and cookies crumbs) I get them in that she hardly ever opens them. And homework is *always* past due. Then I got my anxious kid all over the place with deadlines.
        And yes, I want to validate your suspicion that NC seems to unhinge this particular variety of fuckwit we’re talking about. She just can’t take me refusing to engage her. I hope you’re right about the kids knowing who to rely on. Thank you again for the support!

      • I am that ???? close to offering her these magical three words, 40F… It won’t be long, I just have to do it in a way that doesn’t get weaponized against me. Thank you!

  • Tall One,
    Thanks for your story and for the request for more “Tuesday” type posts.

    I’m intrigued by your distinction between “boundaries” and “lines of demarcation.” Would you be willing to comment more on how you see the difference?

    As I understand it, a line of demarcation is a buffer zone designating an area of limitation after withdrawals or advances, less hard than a “boundary. To me, this is a useful way to distinguish between my boundaries, which to me are “no go” zones, and my cautious engagement within certain self-protective limits, an expression of my emotional disengagement.

    For example, I have a hard boundary with my ex; I am 99% no contact with him. I would consider myself largely to have reached “meh” over the divorce and the way his actions upended my life, but any actual or potential contact I do or might have with him–such as running into him about town–still unsettles me, and I try to guard against it. (For example, on the few occasions I go to the grocery store in the neighborhood where we lived and he still lives in our former house, I scan the parking lot for his car, and if it’s there, I save my shopping for another time, or go to a different store.)

    With my formerly beloved sister, I have distanced myself emotionally. Over the years she said and did hurtful things to me, which I always forgave. The hard work I’ve done (had to do) on myself during and after the divorce made me realize the extent to which I have spackled for her, as well, and the way in which I was opening myself for further hurt. I have learned not to engage or to give her opportunities to escalate when I see the warning signs. I have effectively emotionally distanced myself from her, which, while it makes me very sad, was necessary for my own self-protection. We remain in contact, as we do share some interests in common, and we are both involved (me to a larger extent, she to a lesser) in caring for our 95 year old mother. You might say I interact with her in a friendly manner, but I do not consider her a friend. Your “line of demarcation” helps me to realize that I have in essence carved out a buffer zone to protect myself, and I suspect it both should and does apply to other of my relationships as well.

    • Well.. I gotta first say, it merely sounded good when I wrote it. 🙂

      But I think you’re right; “boundaries” are for people who have hurt me in the past (xw, Switzerland friends, etc..) and “lines of demarcation” are for current relationships. Just comfort zones I’ve learn to enforce and react accordingly when crossed.

      I have to have some sort of “relationship” with my x, we have kids. So there has to be something there to have conversations about college savings or emergencies. Its so very interesting to me what little we actually have in common besides the kids.

      I think you’re on to something!

    • It’s sad that you had to do this with your sister. I can see where you question yourself at times. I guess it’s easier for me because I have 9 siblings still alive. Some of those I’ve had to erect lines of demarcation and the lines will never come down. I’ve come to realize that no matter how much love and respect that I show for some of those siblings, they have personal issues and will take it out on someone that gives them an inch. For you, with one sibling, you probably wonder at times if it’s ‘you’ that has the issue and not your sister. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. Concentrate on being the best person that you can be and retain the boundaries and lines of demarcation. And be happy. It’s a choice.

      • Thanks Amazon Chump. My sister very much does have personal issues, and does take them out on me if she gets a chance. And sometimes she approaches me on something as if she’s looking for me to engage with her, and then attacks, so I’ve learned to see that these approaches are a pretext for unloading her anger or upset on me. My sister and I shared a lot of the same problems that came from growing up in our family, and for many years I assumed that we were partners in figuring them out and surmounting them. It’s been a hard lesson to learn that she doesn’t see me in that light. Harder, I think, because I assumed my ex was and wanted to be my partner, too.

  • Congratulations Tall one! It is an achievement to reach meh. We must be proud of our progress through grief and establishing a life we like. It takes hard work and a commitment to wanting more than for ourselves than what we tolerated. There is a spark inside that says “I deserve better.” The challenge is believing in that spark and moving towards it. Peace and hugs to newbies. Sorry you are part of this club and glad you are here.

  • I’m mostly at Meh with one exception. I am still embarassed when I think of my own kids witnessing me marrying a Fuckwit and taking so long to leave him. I’ve always felt a responsibility not to do stupid things in front of my kids. The kids were adults when we got married (even played maid of honor) and totally cheered on my abrupt leaving the marriage. The stupid things I did for Love that nearly cost me half my pension and half my savings: no pre-nup, staying to fix him, being embarassed to admit how close he came to hitting me.

  • I would have liked to remain the person I was. I was open, trusting, and spontaneous (but not in the “no impulse control” way), Maybe another way of putting it was that I was an innocent, although I was not naive. To be those things, however, requires that one feels and is safe, and my marriage and the mutual love I assumed I had with my now-ex made me feel I was safe. This is not to say my ex was my rock; my rock was the mutual commitment to each other, the partnership I thought we shared, and my sense of safety was derived from that.
    When my ex dropped his twin bombs, that with an ex student he had for several years been exploring an alternative “gender identity,” he blew up my assumptions of my marriage, who he was, who I was, and left me feeling profoundly at sea. It’s not just that I no longer felt safe–although I did no longer feel safe–it’s that I did not feel as if I could trust anything to be as it seemed.
    My ex’s actions forced me to become a different person and to change (and not the different person I at first tried to be to accommodate his new sexual demands in that period of horizontal pick-me dancing). I am no longer open and trusting, or spontaneous. I understand how those things left me open to hurt; I now understand that not only did I have a poor understanding of boundaries, I had been groomed by my FOO not to have boundaries (a sexually abusive father and a doormat of a mother who encouraged me to caretake my father’s emotions will do that to you), and that my lack of boundaries contributed to my chumping. I’m no longer an innocent. I’m defensively reactive now, and err on the side of overly strong boundaries rather than overly weak ones.
    I don’t dislike the person I am now. I think I’m wiser, stronger, more discerning. More self sufficient. But my hope is that as I continue to heal I can also find space to allow back in those aspects of my former self that I miss, to find the safe places where I can be open and trusting and spontaneous (nature and animals, for sure) and invest my efforts in the people who demonstrate that they are trust-worthy and deserving of my company and trust.

    • Adelante,
      I’m at the place of being “profoundly at sea.” Some days I think the tears will never end, and it’s not for the loss of a marriage. It is (I think) for the loss of an innocent self and hopes and believing that a happy family might exist or I could forge one with determination. Like many here, my craving for a functional family blinded me to ongoing betrayal, abuse, and neglect from day one and lasting thirty-two years. It’s hard to look back at the red flags; there were so many I ignored.

      He has now gone completely off the rails in the divorce. Yesterday, my therapist received an open records request on his law firm letterhead seeking twenty years of her private e-mails (Please don’t tell me the law on this. I know it.) He has taken every part of my life and subjected it to unfathomable cruelty. It’s hard to sit with the grief and not say, “Why me?” Like you, I was naive and somewhat blissfully ignorant, probably in part because I didn’t want to see. He swallowed that whole. I’m battling isolation now, often afraid to post here and trust, and some days I don’t see a way out. But when I read even-handed, steady comments from others — like you — who have walked the same path, I can see the possibility for emergence, and that gives me strength. Your posts always speak to me. I’m grateful for them.

      • Liberated,
        I’m sorry you continue to be subjected to these abusive tactics by a man who has revealed his ugly character to you. I believed in my now-ex-husband’s essential goodness until I didn’t–until he showed me who he was. Learning to “trust that he sucks” was incredibly helpful to me in this shitshow of theirs.
        I’m four years out from leaving, three and a half from divorce (seven years out from D-Day), and when I look back now, I feel that a lot of what I was feeling followed a pattern of grieving. Feeling “at sea” was part of it. Not trusting that anything is as it seems was another, as was not trusting my own ability to discern or perceive things accurately. At the time, I thought I would feel these things forever, and that they were the last word, the real reality.
        Since then I’ve done a lot of self-reflecting, learning about boundaries, and asserting myself and my boundaries, even when it was difficult and I doubted myself and thought I was walling myself off or ensuring I’d be lonely and friendless, or worried that others were judging me.
        Over time I’m come to feel secure in my conclusions and decisions, and to realize that if someone doesn’t like my boundaries, that’s their business. They don’t have to. It’s my business to set them and police them.
        To know that I am now looking at my situation in the light of projecting that there will be a time and place and people in which and with whom I feel safe enough to resurrect some of those old qualities feels a lot like progress to me. And real hope, as opposed to the false hopium I smoked for far too long.
        You are in the middle of it now. But you will come out the other side, and you will go no contact, and you will heal, and you will feel peace.

        • Adelante, Thank you. I’m having a very tough time now and hanging on your words. I was thinking about how no one gets it and then thinking that it doesn’t matter if anyone gets it because it’s my life to resurrect. But reading this and the time you took to offer such kindness is maybe — I don’t know — a part of this wicked journey. In other words, I look forward to a day when I will be able to ease another’s pain in the way you have — because really at the end of the day, what else is there? Thank you again.

      • IANAL–merely curious–but what does the law say on this issue? Some version of “go pound sand” I would hope, but then as we all know, the law is a ass.

    • Adelante, although I can’t relate to some of the details, so much of what you’ve shared here describes me, now. Glad you shared.

    • You may have seen my post above that in the mess I could feel myself change and I didnt like it. In the long run, though, I like the changes and things have found a balance.

      Like you, I saw my marriage as a rock of my existence. Cheater himself was not the solid part but for me it was the religious aspect of the marriage, that it was holy even when he was far from holy. I tricked myself into feeling safe even when I was far from it. His betrayal and rejection rocked me to my very core because the marriage was more important to me than anything, literally.

      Having been groomed for chumdom caused difficulty in a number of areas – like I was WAY to accommodating at my job because being maltreated was so normal to me.

      The process of recognizing prior dysfunction, learning better, establishing healthy habits and getting used to it as your new self takes time. With time, however, you learn to better watch for clues and might be able to allow yourself some latitude of again being trusting and spontaneous. My nature is to be VERY trusting and sometimes that leaves me looking gullible (which I find embarrassing) but Im willing to suffer that a little to maintain trust as a core trait of mine.

      Do your best and trust yourself. This does all work itself out and you won’t notice change until one day you realize that you are in a better place.

  • Tall One ,
    Now that is a very inspiring and inspirational way to look at your life now. The power of positivity is amazing !

  • This is where I’m heading. I really resonated with this. And it was painful (23 pound loss in 8 weeks painful). Today I feel happier than I have ever been. I was extremely happy when raising my kids, but this is different. This is ME happy.

  • “One Sunday a few years ago, I felt the strike of lightning when this woman stepped from her car and I knew instantly we belonged together.”

    Danger Will Robinson. This is the kind of thinking that made us attach to fuckwits without first knowing their character and values. Sorry Tall One, but love at first sight does not actually exist and believing it does can get you into bad relationships. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being chumped, it’s to be extremely cautious, not to trust in such feelings and not to let myself get swept away. I’m happy it worked out for you, but I hope you understand that you got lucky there. The “struck by lightning” start of a relationship is often a portent of chumpy dysfunction. It often means somebody’s image (whether real or fake) sparkled and we jumped with chumpy joy. We absolutely must get to know a person before deciding if we belong together.

    I also don’t think it’s ever okay to knowingly break a heart. If one doesn’t feel right with a person, one should get out of the relationship before that person develops a deep enough attachment to be heart broken. That’s what dating is for- to try people out. If after a few dates you don’t feel the type of connection that can lead to something serious, the kindest thing to do is to stop dating that person. We aren’t responsible for the happiness of others, but we are responsible for insuring we do not hurt other people by being careless about their feelings.

    Sorry to be a Debbie Downer and I mean nothing personal to Tall One. I just thought it was important to point out that the above are lessons chumps need to learn. Maybe being cautious means we’ll never find a partner. It almost certainly does at my stage in life. Far better that than to wake up one day and realize we’re with yet another asshole.

  • YES! As a newbie, THIS is so encouraging! Thank you for sharing, Tall One!

  • Count me as one who has come to be thankful that i discovered my ex’s whore ex gf.

    He’d really never treated me well. I was just out of my marriage to an abuser (my kids father) and didn’t take sufficient time to be alone. That is on me.

    My ex was 19 years older and in retrospect I can see he was predatory. There were loads of red flags but at that point anyone who wasn’t a complete asshole seemed like a good deal.

    But he was phony…..nice guy image but really an insecure, nasty, conflict avoidant phony who found little ways to be a prick. He would then play dumb, paint a phony smile on his face, and pretend he had no idea what the issue was.

    He would do things like follow behind me and change the thermostat right after I’d changed it, or if I tried to talk about something he wasn’t interested in he’d cut me off mid sentence and play dumb. Or he’d put a hand right in my face to stop a conversation and make nasty comments under his breath.

    I was thrown under the bus regularly to placate his ex wife and snotty grown daughter and he was always subtly nasty my kids. The sun rose and set up his daughter’s ass but my boys got on his nerves. I was generally unhappy with him but I was also loyal while I thought he was.

    When I found the ex gf communications and his response was to gaslight, lie, change his story, play dumb, bully, and threaten ME with divorce if I didn’t drop it I finally realized that he offered me nothing. Of course he begged and pleaded when I filed and demanded to know if I was cheating on HIM. Rich.

    That was 4 years ago. Today I own my own house and my now 21 and 18 year old sons live with me while they work and go to school. We get along great, do what we want when we want, and I have a lovely bf much closer to my age who gets along well with him. And I make 6 figures while ex had to take a pay cut and makes half of what I make. I hope his whore is happy with an old guy who’s broke, has ED, and wears a shitty toupee. She was on marriage #5 when we were together so maybe they’ve divorced and ex can be #6. If that happens I’ll send her a gift certificate for a shrink because she’ll need it being with him full time. LOL

  • I’m a little over 18 months out from the divorce. It was a brutally painful time but I’m doing pretty well now. One happy thing I’ve noticed is how my body is changing since I went no contact and got away from him. I used to be in good shape, I’ve always been into fitness and weight lifting. But during my marriage (around the time things started to get bad) I developed this weird lumpy stomach. Didn’t seem to matter how much I dieted or worked out, I had this lumpy fat on my stomach. Even at a size four dress size, I had this.

    I was showing my boyfriend a picture of me in a bikini from years ago and said I just wanted to get back to this. He told me I was being too hard on myself. That having a child changes your body and I shouldn’t feel bad about having a mom body. I told him my son was 8 years old when that picture was taken. That was my mom body.

    Well, during my marriage, every time I started to feel comfortable and confident about myself, my ex would do something to rip the rug out from under me. And then I would have to start rebuilding myself back up again. Now it’s been 18+ months of me building myself back up and nobody can rip the rug out from under me anymore. So I just keep improving.

    And my stomach is flattening back out. Maybe it was stress? It was a weird fat distribution that never made sense to me. I was like a skinny woman with three mini fat rolls on my stomach. I think it was actually stress. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga but frankly, eating whatever I want, and my body is just getting healthy again like it used to be. It makes me realize just how damaging his bullshit was to me. Not just mentally and emotionally, but physically as well. And I’m so glad to be free of it.

    • Yes, you’re right. Stress raises your cortisol, which can cause the accumulation of fat on the abdomen. The end result if the stress goes on too long can be type 2 diabetes, heart disease and/or adrenal exhaustion.

      I didn’t get the stomach fat. I skipped over that stage and went to adrenal exhaustion. My body couldn’t produce enough cortisol. That happens when stress completely overwhelms the body and it starts to break down. My liver and kidneys also showed stress in lab tests and my thyroid wasn’t functioning properly. I’m still taking steroids because of lasting damage to my adrenals and thyroid.
      IOW, being with an abuser can quite literally kill you.
      But oh, we should feel sorry for the poor, helpless fuckwits, the RIC says. Yeah, I don’t think so.

    • Oh, yes, KP, definitely stress. There’s documented evidence that leaving a FW you gain your looks back.

      I’ve told this story before here on CL: At 1 year post divorce, 2 years post FW moving 2,000 miles away & 3 years post final D-Day, I had to get my driver’s license renewed. With a new picture. I went to DMV, they’ve got me ready to take the picture, they’ve uploaded my former license from 5 years earlier (picture during last couple of years of my marriage), and they’re fiddling around with the computer. For a long time. Finally, after about 20 min of fiddling with computer, they stop, call their manager over, whisper and point at computer, and finally turn to me and ask “Ma’am, have you had major facial reconstructive surgery since your last license picture was taken?” I tell them “no”, and they tell me, “the facial recognition software can’t reconcile your picture 5 years ago versus today. It keeps telling us these two pictures aren’t the same person”. Then, they ask me what’s gone on in my life the last few years, and I told them I escaped a horrible, abusive marriage with a Cheater and the DMV workers nodded, pushed a few buttons and said “ok, that makes sense, we’ve seen this before. By the way, you look 10 years younger today than your picture taken 5 years previously.”

  • I’m well past the drama that started when I was a 39 year old stay at home Mom. I found out I had a cheating husband and was completely unprepared for what unfolded over the next few years. I tried to stay but finally wised up and completed my bachelors degree, divorced him, and started a career as a home economics teacher. I’m now 52 and I own my own home, have a great support system around me, and I absolutely love my job. From the ashes that was my old life, I rebuilt and I am so grateful for all the lessons that I have learned along the way to meh. It wasn’t easy and you can probably search my name here to read about it as it was happening. I can honestly say that finding this website was the turning point for me. All of a sudden I was heard, was validated, and understood. I recommend this site all the time. I made it to meh and you can too!

  • I’m coming up on 3 years since my ex asked me for a divorce. I struggle with a bit of imposter syndrome here sometimes, since I never had an official “D-day.” I had been catching him in all kinds of lies for years, and we were in counseling, but it wasn’t going well since he was still lying. We had also been fighting more about his “friendship” with a female friend. That female friend is now his wife. Once he started openly dating her shortly after our split, I realized there had been at least an emotional affair going on for many, many months, and I’ll never know the extent to which things may have gotten physical. What’s great is at this point, I don’t care to know. It won’t make me any less divorced, nor parallel parenting less difficult.

    Emotionally, I’m pretty much meh now. I went to therapy (still have stuff to unpack and want to go back). Read a lot of self-help stuff. Discovered just how important boundaries are, and what a great litmus test they are for whether or not I want someone in my life. You don’t like my boundaries? Well, we’re clearly not compatible (that goes for platonic or romantic relationships).

    My life is so much more peaceful no longer playing the marriage police and truth detective. I’m not begging a grown adult to keep his promises to me and having to justify my every request for his help or support that he deemed remotely inconvenient, while he expected me to do all the heavy lifting in our relationship and bail him out at his every screw up (Gambling addiction, forgery).

    Lost a lot of the “couples with kids” friends we had. They were the Switzerland types and I have no room in my life to deal with that. I get it, her family has fun vacation houses they sometimes get to use, lol. Have I “gained a life yet?” I’m working on it. I still have a few close friends whose loyalty has been a godsend. It’s hard to make new friends during a pandemic when people have mostly been social distancing, but as things have opened up, I’ve joined several meetups and am finding connections there.

    I don’t often have the time or interest in dating, but I’ve dabbled here and there. It’s been great practice for those boundaries I’ve discovered. I keep running into narc types or guys with substance issues, but I’m getting wise to all that wayyy sooner (like 2-4 dates in) so I’ve been able to walk away no worse for the wear. Also, the last time I was single I was a care-free college kid. Now that I’m divorced in my 30’s with a young child, I’ve got to figure out what on earth I’m compatible with! I’m enjoying that process and am in zero hurry to couple up again. I said it once already, but it bears repeating, I’m enjoying my peace and feeling more and more like the self I had lost in what I see now was a bad, exhausting marriage.

  • Well yeah, when the story ends with a successful relationship, everything turns up roses. I’m happy for you, OP, but unfortunately that isn’t the way things turn out for a lot of us, especially for a lot of chumped older women.

    • I very much agree! It has been shocking to me how difficult it is to date as an older female chump. While I am happy, physical intimacy and companionship add so much to my physical and emotional well being (with the right person).

  • I am not quite sure I am at Tuesday and the beautiful land of Meh yet. However, I got my first full-time job offer in almost 30 years last week! It was less than I would like, but at least I have something and I am hopeful to get more as I interviewed with at total of 7 mental health organizations last week!!! 2 verbally said they would like to hire me, but we all know you can’t trust anything until you see it on paper.
    Married 27 years, 3 kids, 10 moves for his career.
    With all the moves I stayed home to give the kids stability. It worked as they all have graduated from college. One is working on a PhD at Harvard in Archeology, one is a lawyer and the third is trying to break into animation production as storyboard artist (anyone have any leads?). Mission basically accomplished as far as raising the kids.
    D-day May 2019 – the week of the lawyer’s law school graduation. I kept it quiet from everyone for a week so as not to spoil her great accomplishment. It was one of the hardest things of my life to keep that secret. When I did confront him a little over a week later, he immediately moved in with the OW despite being given the chance to stay and work things out. I pick-me danced for a bit until…
    late June 2019 – Found Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life on Pride Day (how appropriate) in the Strand book store in NYC. I was there to attend with my queer kid. It was the bitch slap I needed because….
    July 2019 – Served FW a request for collaborative divorce right after he got back from a 2 week trip to Greece with OW (my last straw). When I wasn’t in a puddle on the floor, at my therapist’s, or in one of the many healing yoga classes I took, I worked to get our mini-mansion that HE just had to buy and I always thought was WAY too big on the market and sold.
    Jan 2020 – Moved from mid-state NY back to my hometown of Columbus, OH (we all know what happened in March…)
    March 2020 – Applied for grad school
    April 2020 – Got accepted to grad school for a Masters in Social Work with an emphasis in Mental Health. Also closed on the mini-mansion, so I could move forward with my own life.
    August 2020 – started grad school. Read, study, write, repeat….
    April 2021 – Divorce final. I learned the hard way you can’t collaborate with a narcissist!
    May 2021 – My first grandson is born. I was able to be in the room for the birth. What an honor! I don’t get to spend as much time with him as I would like, but we Facetime multiple times each week and he is a champion at ‘wave hello to Oma!’
    August 2021 – Bought myself a house in an area I love
    Sept. 2021 – Moved into MY house
    May 2022 – will graduate and take my Social Work licensure exam
    June 2022 – will, hopefully, start my first full-time job in 28 years!!
    I’m looking forward to rewarding work, time to have hobbies, and hanging with lifelong friends, plus, of course, spoiling my grandson rotten!
    None of these things were easy. I had MANY nights of tears, anger, frustration, and regret. I still have so much to do to be fully healed, but I am starting to see my life anew.
    As far as FW: He has no relationship with his kids or grandkids. ZERO. I am no longer angry (most days), I am just disgusted at his choice of a fawning subordinate 17 years his junior. He is in CA doing I don’t care what as long as the monthly payments come in. I pity him that he is missing out on so much of what is great about being a parent and grandparent.
    I have a great relationship with my kids. I have the support of my wonderful family.
    I cut off contact with his disordered mess of a family except for one lovely niece. His sister is now divorced due to her cheating. His brother is divorced due to his narcissism. Apples didn’t fall far from the narcissistic mother tree.
    Next hurdle for me: Dating?!? Maybe, maybe not…..only time and more healing will tell.
    (Thanks for reading if you made it this far. It is nice to look at all I have done and realize ‘I am pretty mighty!’)

  • I didn’t get to post yesterday but coincidentally had a Tuesday moment worth sharing (from yesterday). My DDay was in June 2015. Divorced August 2016. But what kept me from Tuesday for several years was FW’s treatment of our son (FW left when son was 9… he’s 16 now). Son endured crazy treatment by his dad — abusive name calling, physical shoving and holding down and locking the kid outside.

    And right before COVID hit, when son was 14, FW stopped custodial weekends (after I spent a ton of money on attorneys to get FW to sign that son could go home to me if things got out of control). FW now sees his son for lunch a couple of times a month and not much more. FWs choice.

    For years I’d run into FW and be shaken by it. Anxiety triggered. Now… nearly 7 years after DDay… we had an IEP meeting at thee high school yesterday. It was in person —- which was a first in 2 years.

    At the end (after our teen son had gone back to class), the vice principal and at least 4 teachers and counselors sat with me and FW and said we are all a team and they were glad we could speak our truth to support our son. I said thank you to them but then clarified “FW and I are not a team. He shows up for IEP meetings because he is legally entitled to. I have never gone after him legal to stop him from coparenting. But FW does not participate in our son’s life. He does not know the teachers or reach out to anyone.. He does not help in any way. He does not help his son with school or homework. He has not followed through with custodial weekends for over 2 years and maybe sees his son a few times a month. I raise this son of ours on my own as a single mom. Our son is on the spectrum yes… but he also deals with trauma from his dad. Thank goodness FW is taking him for a few days over spring break but at this point FW still hasn’t planned any time over the summer (he’s entitled to 8 weeks — I doubt he’ll use even 2). Even when my son and I arrived at the school, FW saw us and didn’t say hi to our hug his son. He just went to the bathroom. It’s unbelievable. That’s my truth.”

    FW said nothing. The whole room nodded in agreement. It was all recorded. I listened back that night. I was calm. Direct. Factual. And no anxiety. Nothing. Just spoke my truth to support my son. Tuesday is Badass

  • Tall One,
    Thanks for your story of hope on the other side.

    I also went through a metamorphosis and found myself more content with my life than I ever thought possible. I thought the love I had with FW was everything and that I couldn’t survive without it.

    It turns out that I am blossoming on my own. I have a bf, but not an all-consuming love. I don’t need that.

    I learned that I Am Enough. I didn’t know that until D-day.

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