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What If I Leave and He Really Loves Me?

Dear Chump Lady,

I am unofficially in purgatory. I have been 22 months in wreckonciliation with my cheating husband who cheated with an ex coworker for three-plus years. We have been married for 25 years and have two awesome sons. D-Day was via cellphone accidental discovery. He was angry at me that I had found out and deleted evidence of their affair from my cellphone. I took a picture of the text as I knew he’d deny it. I was on vacation with him in another state. A vacation I was reluctant to be on because I felt that I had lost him. That our marriage was over. He was mean and distant to me and I had felt alone for years.

Yes, I read every book I could find on how to be a better wife. I even texted him old photos of us together when we were dating. I knew I was losing him, but he would always tell me he was happy and there was nothing wrong. I was so unhappy and tried desperately to make myself happy. I read books, wrote in journals, took classes, got a job, but it didn’t work. I never looked quite good enough, or was happy enough, or appreciative enough, or tidy enough, or accomplished enough. He, however, was king at work, the great breadwinner, in control of his life, his looks, played competitive sports and I felt that he looked down on me. I have lots of friends, but he never wanted to socialize with anyone. I had to drag him to things and had about two dinner parties a year. He always shone at these parties. Everyone loves him. He would then avoid seeing people as much as possible. He had work, or sport, or his music to play.

I was always making excuses for him, which I hated. Anyway, he could be helpful and funny and not too demanding so it was easy to live with him, but I don’t think I have ever been truly happy. He has also attacked me physically a couple of times, enough to scare me enough to leave for a couple of days, but my friends encouraged me to go back.

The point is, I am still here, 20 months after D-Day and I am unable to leave. He begged me to stay, swears that he will make me happy, buys me flowers, calls and texts, which he never did before. He says he loves me, that he made a mistake, but he took 6 weeks to tell me the name of his affair partner as he didn’t want to hurt her. He stopped seeing her as far as I know and he threatened to leave me if I told anyone. Eventually I did and was terrified he’d find out. I don’t want to break up the family and I am scared of hurting my sons, in their twenties. I think my friends are useless except for a couple who have been in a similar situation. My mother is dead and my father died in June. I feel so alone and don’t know what to do.

I realize I sound pathetic, just reading this to myself, but all the books and blogs I read said I should reconcile and make my marriage better, but it seems to me that it doesn’t get better. It’s surface clean and shit on the inside at least for me. My husband seems happy and just tells me to get with the program. He wants to look after me and be with me forever. He is sorry. But he still lies about little things that don’t need to be lied about and I need honesty and integrity and love. How can this be love.? One friend says I should tell my sons but how can I? How can they respect me if I stay with him? How can I respect myself?

I have spent 34 years of my life with this man that I thought I knew inside and out. I moved continents for him, and gave up my career to support him and this is how he repays me! Counselors are useless. He won’t see a counselor and yes, I have read everything on this site. Why am I so scared to leave? What if he does really love me?

Advice please,


Dear W,

“Does he really love me?” is the wrong question. How much do you love yourself? Would you want your sons or anyone you care about to endure physical abuse, mental abuse, threats of abandonment, and infidelity? Would you wish this kind of partner on ANYONE?

Why would you tolerate it for yourself?

I know, I know. You’ve got 34 years of sunk costs and he’s not all bad. He can be helpful sometimes, and not too demanding. Except for:

I never looked quite good enough, or was happy enough, or appreciative enough, or tidy enough, or accomplished enough…

And then you sign your letter, “Worthless.” Jesus, no wonder you’re depressed. You’ve set your entire worth on “Is The King Happy?”

Oh hey, HE is happy. That is, until he’s hitting you, or threatening to abandon you if you tell anyone what he’s done.

His response to your terror?

He wants to look after me and be with me forever.

Welcome to the cycle of abuse, Worth. (I refuse to use your screen name.)

The point is, I am still here, 20 months after D-Day and I am unable to leave.

You ARE able to leave. Call a lawyer today. We will hold your hand and walk you through every step of this shit storm. Get over to the CN community.

You have AGENCY. Let’s not set our sights on “happy” right now (however, you can absolutely be happy some day soon) — let’s set our sights on “escape the abuser.”

He begged me to stay, swears that he will make me happy, buys me flowers, calls and texts, which he never did before.

It’s called “love bombing.” It’s part of the cycle. He’s trying to avoid consequences and eat cake. It’s also highly possible (judging by my mail, probable) that he’s moving monies and screwing you over in ways you’re not privy to, trying to keep you off his trail. That’s why you need a lawyer, pronto. Start collecting all your financials. DO NOT TIP YOUR HAND.

He says he loves me, that he made a mistake,

A three-year mistake. That you know of. That’s one hell of a singular “mistake.”

but he took 6 weeks to tell me the name of his affair partner as he didn’t want to hurt her.

He’s putting her feelings above your well-being. When you find yourself begging to know who the affair partner is? You’re doing the Pick Me Dance at the masked costume ball.

He’s protecting her and himself. At your expense. Are you okay with that? Does that feel loving?

He stopped seeing her as far as I know and he threatened to leave me if I told anyone.

He is abusive.

My advise to you is call his bluff — leave him and tell anyone you damn please what he did. It’s YOUR STORY. He doesn’t get to put a gag order on your life.

Eventually I did and was terrified he’d find out.

He terrifies you. Is this relationship acceptable to you?

And don’t answer that with what he might do, you hope he’ll do, or wishes for his eventual improvement. Are you OKAY being with a man who ROUTINELY TERRIFIES you?

You get a vote. YOU MATTER.

I don’t want to break up the family and I am scared of hurting my sons, in their twenties.

This isn’t a family, this is a hostage situation.

I’m sorry — you’ve already hurt your sons by modeling an abusive relationship dynamic to them for 20-plus years. You can FIX that, by getting mighty and modeling resiliency and badass life building.

You’ll find that you have a family — you and them. Minus the fuckwit, and the abuse, it will be a much happier family.

I think my friends are useless except for a couple who have been in a similar situation. My mother is dead and my father died in June. I feel so alone and don’t know what to do.

Abuse can feel very isolating, and abusers work hard to keep their chumps feeling alone and needy. All the better to manipulate you! To counter this, you need to reach out for help, from people who get it. Not those idiot “friends” who told you to go back to a man who HIT YOU. But real people who CARE about you. Call a women’s domestic abuse agency… That’s NOT over the top — stop minimizing this. Yes, I’m in your head and I know you’re thinking I’m Not That Woman. Yes you are. I was her too, and now I’m not. Come on over to the sanity side. You’ll love it here. (Skooching over… making room on the bench.)

You DO know what to do. You just don’t want to do it.

To stop the pain and unhappiness, you must leave him.

I know that seems like it will be more painful, and it might be in the very short-term, but think of it as one big labor pain into your new life.  PUUUUUSSSSSHHHH! The way you are living now is infinitely more painful. A hundred chumps are going to tell you this in the comments.

What if he does really love me?

He doesn’t. You’re of use to him.

Whatever he considers “love” is not what healthy normal people consider love. Pedophiles will tell you that they “love” children. (They’ll also tell you their abuse was consensual.) Maybe it feels like “love” in their head. It’s twisted and sick.

I need honesty and integrity and love.

You can have it, right now. It lives in you. Not in him.

Please leave.

We’re here for you.

This one ran before. I hope Worth found her worth. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Ask yourself if you lived in a house for 25 years and then found out that the entire structure was weakened by both rot and black mold would you still live there after someone put on a fresh coat of paint. If you say “yes” then stay and take your chances. If you say “no” move and find a new place.

  • I know this letter all too well. I’m so sorry you ended up with a sociopath. I did too. After several more years, you will start to realize it is YOU who does not want him. You will realize that you honestly and truly no longer respect him, or want him, in any way, shape, or form. You will wish you had left him earlier.

    • Agreed Mia omg I was so in love with my former narcissistic cheater, I had not a clue this man was unfaithful. We were I thought happily married 21 years, two great kids and it was all a lie! I thank God daily for this community!

    • Yep, I was sitting there reading it thinking this guy is a psychopath. All the stuff I’ve learned over the past couple of years… Her story is so familiar.

      One thing that jumps out at me as a huge red flag that people so often dismiss is the little lies. Psychopaths do that. They lie constantly about little things that don’t even matter. I remember catching my ex husband in ridiculous little lies and being like, “Why would you even lie about that?” Things like food preferences or what color shirt he bought at a store. Really stupid things. But when I would tell a friend their response would be along the lines of who cares? Why does that even matter?

      It matters. Lying when there is no real reason or benefit to lie is a huge indicator of psychopathy. “Normal” people will lie to benefit themselves, make themselves look good, or avoid punishment, those aren’t good traits but they are something that unfortunately a lot of “normal” people will do. But the weird little lies for no reason? The lies when the truth would even be better for them or just easier? That’s a huge red flag. I’m putting that out there for anybody it could serve. You notice somebody lying about silly things, avoid them. There’s something very wrong with that person. I wish I hadn’t ignored my gut instinct about it and that I hadn’t listened when people told me it was nothing. It was probably the biggest clue I had for years and years before things got bad.

      • So true KatieP. The ex used to lie about little things often. Sometimes with a smirk. And I noticed it and thought that I was over sensitive, overreacting. My mother, and the ex is so like her, also lies continually. I was programmed to accept it as normal behaviour, although as a child and especially as a teenager my mother’s lies made me feel uncomfortable. It is a huge red flag if it happens regularly, especially when the lie seems pointless.

      • So true! What bothers me now is that I think he often did lie to me, but I didn’t even know it. Beyond the obvious lies about the affair, I bet he lied about other things. It was only after his mask fell that I noticed little, inconsequential lies–lies that made no sense. And he kept insisting he’d stopped lying, which was itself a lie. So weird!

        • Right?!?

          FW (by text): I am NEVER going to contact her again. EVER!

          Sends text to me in error that was OBVIOUSLY meant for her.

          Me: I thought you said you were never going to contact her again ever. ????

          FW: Starting now.

          Me: ????‍♀️

      • So do narcs. My covert narc ex lied about things that didn’t matter at all. He lied when the truth would have served him better. Worthy’s FW is probably both a narcissist and a psychopath. Yuck, what an ugly combination.

      • Good post, Katie. I found out much after I found out about the cheating that my cheater was lying to me about insignificant things (or things he thought to be insignificant). I started calling him out on it. I do not understand the point of lying when the truth is benign. Makes me ? other things. He would tell me things were one way and then next time he mentioned that story it would be a different version–completely.

      • Good post, Katie. I found out much after I found out about the cheating that my cheater was lying to me about insignificant things (or things he thought to be insignificant). I started calling him out on it. I do not understand the point of lying when the truth is benign. Makes me ? other things. He would tell me things were one way and then next time he mentioned that story it would be a different version–completely.

      • The little lies…SO true. They lie like they breathe. What’s weird to me is when I notice someone lying like that now, it still stuns me. I know to stay away from them, but I still feel…slimed?

  • Good Morning Worth and welcome to CN.
    What an auspicious day, a new CL site (looks awesome) and you get a life (which will be awesome).
    Who do you trust Worth? CL and millions of Chumps in CN or the garbage that’s playing you for 34 years?
    Ok. That’s not fare to ask of you since we (CN) don’t know you, however, Worth, I’m pretty certain that we ( CN ) care more about you as a person than your soon to be ex ever pretended to. Everything he does is a lie, he’s a cheater.
    I don’t need to reiterate what you’ve asked and how CL responded. Read it again and believe it.
    The one and only thing you need to do is remember how valuable you are to your children and your family and let your STBX have the ho-worker, and the bar girl, and the secretary, and the score keeper and … you get the idea.
    And, remember, he can’t have you. No contact, remember he sucks and take him for every penny since you gave him your youth and this is how he treats you.
    I sure hope he’s as successful as you say and make sure your alimony and support is at your level. High worth.
    You got this.
    Xioba xioba

  • I cringed when I read “He has attacked me physically a couple of times…” Darling Worth, are you ok? Did you make it out alive? These cheaters kill. They annihilate their entire families. How I hope you are safely divorced and miles away from that abusive piece of garbage faking being human.

    That Darling Worth even contemplated that her abuser loved her made me sad. Abuse is not love. Even when it feels safe and familiar, when it is the only pattern of behavior you know. This is horrible abuse, and yet She questioned that it might be love.

    I stayed with an abusive man for 33 years. I’m so glad LTC Fuckface was gone most of the time. I’m so relieved I survived. He never loved me. I know that now. I hope Darling Worth knows.

    • I was married to Capt. Fuckface, I was always so relieved and happy when he was called out to go somewhere. Other wives would be disappointed when their husbands were called out. I often wondered if there was something wrong with me for being so happy when he’d leave. When I answered the phone people could tell by my voice if Capt. Fuckface was gone. They said I sounded so much more relaxed than when he was home.
      Capt. Fuckface was abusive and made life miserable. He was superior to everyone, complained, criticized, ridiculed, no one could do anything right but him. He would sometimes say I never loved him, he was projecting .He showed me by his behavior he didn’t love me, he despised everything about me. Funny how they cheat then blame and hate us for existing. Oh, wait, they’re justified because of bag salad.

      • Brit, I remember being bewildered by the other Military Spouses wailing and crying when their spouses were deployed. It was a blessed relief when he was gone.

    • Abusers carefully place themselves in the position of being the only ones who can put balm on their victims’ wounds because the abuser best knows where those wounds are for having put them there.

      There’s also some stuff in the literature about how abusers have a former childhood-era “victim self” preserved in amber within them so that, when put to it, nobody seems to understand the victim experience better than an abuser. It’s diabolical because, like the light of a long-dead star reaching earth millions of years later, that figment of tantalizing empathy means NADA. It seems real to the extent it once was real and the abuser often thinks their empathy is real too which can make it more credible. Does anyone cry more than some abusers? But the inner “abuser self” won the race long ago and is the central controlling portion of their personalities.

      They’re so twisted I think there should be a third gender: abuso-sexuals.

  • Excellent as always Traci, agreed I left my cheating husband 6 years ago, I thought it would kill me but by the grace of God it didn’t! I love you’re page!

  • I hope Worth got free of him. When I read: “He stopped seeing her as far as I know and he threatened to leave me if I told anyone. Eventually I did and was terrified he’d find out”… I shook just reading those words. I’m glad CL immediately called him abusive. That reads clearly as abuse… even before you know he’s hitting her.

    I hope everyone gets free of their Cheater. We all deserve better. There’s different levels of abuse —- but all of them are abusive and need to get the fuck out.

    • Mine stopped seeing the AP too. At least his words said that. What was really going on went deep underground. That led to D-day #2. It ended then too. D-Day#3. Wow, it ended again. D-Day #4 = Get the F*ck out. Mine also wouldn’t let me tell anyone. Living in Hell and pretending to everyone else, especially my children, was a cruelty and torture that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. All about him: entitlement, image management, control, getting off on the deception. Couldn’t and wouldn’t care what it was doing to me. Almost 4 years out from the original d-day and I am 100% repulsed by him. Truly hope “Worth” left and is a better place.

  • I could have written this account with very little change. Mistook abuse for love. Mistook criticism and distance for things I needed to improve upon.

    I went through seven difficult miscarriages. One that almost killed me due to chlamydia (ectopic) that I didn’t know I had. Cheating and lying are abusive. And they are never, ever love.

    People who use and abuse others like this for their own satisfaction and snacks are freaking sociopaths and need to be avoided at all costs.

    I just found out the FW was arrested as part of a sting on a massage parlor that was doing human trafficking. Harmful, destructive sociopaths.

    • He was arrested? OMG! I’m glad you got away from that FW.

      Also, I’m so sorry about the miscarriages. I can’t imagine the pain.

    • Hello FWF

      I’m sorry about your miscarriages.

      I too suffered through a miscarriage and as I’m a little older, decided to undergo IVF.

      All the while ex was carrying on a 2 year affair (as far as I know) with a much younger OW.

      I’m getting every fertility examination known to man and he’s ‘busy at work’ aka meeting up with OW.

      As I was desperate to fall pregnant I ignored my inner voice that was telling me to run and I put up with all the gaslighting. I look back and am sad for my former self as I wish I could tell her everything will be OK.

      In the end he left (said he wanted to be happy and OW had nothing to do with his decision). More lies.

      Although there is a sadness within me for not being able to conceive, I no longer have to put up with all the anxiety, doubt and lies that come with living with a cheater. How awful that such horrible people walk amongst us.

      Worth, it doesn’t seem like it now but it does get better. It really does.

      • I wonder if we could have a thread for recovering chumps who struggled through IVF, miscarriages, and the likes. In the process of healing from FW’s betrayals, somewhere I feel I have not been able to grieve the loss of hopes, years and dreams during infertility struggles. I guess this is the next step of my healing.

        • I like this topic idea. I ended up with a miraculous accidental pregnancy that resulted in my now 22 year old daughter, after seven losses. FW was cheating during all my losses, surgeries, grievings. And giving me STDs. It’s a miracle I’m still alive. I think there are many of us here who have dealt with this horror of the FWs on top of the pregnancy issues. My love and hugs to you all out there.

  • “ ‘Does he really love me?’ is the wrong question. How much do you love yourself?”
    Exactly. And I would add, “Do you really love him?”

    This is something my therapist has pounded into my head. I was so hung up on how he felt about me that I completely dismissed how I felt about him. It almost seems like a subtle shift, but it’s huge, like putting the Titanic in reverse.

    And like Worth, I made mole hills out of mountains. Minimizing seems to be part of the chump skill set.

    It’s taken some time for me to claim my space, my needs, and my wants. I’m still working on it.

    So glad I pressed the eject button on my mirage (thanks VH). I hope Worth did the same.

  • This was my story if I had written it. 26 years, no kids. Ex’s affair, never admitted, was with his ex gf from school long distance. It was easy to hide it from me. I trusted him. But, and it’s a huge but. His withdrawn, avoidant, cold, superior behaviour, coupled with his heavy drinking (I was ‘puritanical’), plus the rows that he picked which resulted in my being chased from rooms, wrists grabbed hard enough to leave bruises, was all abuse. He hid money, moved it around continually, lied about bonuses, lied about salary, lied, lied, lied. But I never asked myself whether I loved him. Only questioned whether he loved me. He left me. He ran away, but he continued to abuse me from afar during the divorce process, which I had to initiate even though I still loved him. Now I see that I turned into a worn down, threadbare doormat and that makes me very sad. I no longer wonder why he did what he did. I will never understand. My life is often very hard. An affair was always a dealbreaker for me and he knew that so he didn’t tell me about it. When I found out about it, he had already gone. No contact was my way through it. Am I happy now? Honestly often not, occasionally yes. Am I safe now? Yes, and that’s all that counts.

    • Mighty Warrior, I appreciate your closing comments: “Am I happy now? Honestly often not, occasionally yes. Am I safe now? Yes, and that’s all that counts.”

      A friend once suggested to me that the length of the grieving and recovery process is proportional to the length of the relationship (or the depth of the sink costs) and the severity of the abuse.

      In many of our cases, “leave a cheater; gain a life” is neither quick nor easy. The darkest, most horrifying period is during separation and divorce, because it’s often when FWs unleash the very worst upon us. The masks are off, they are raging from narcissistic wounds to their image, ego, ability to control. I personally was not sure if even make it through. I was so depleted from the years of wreckonciliation and hardly had any strength left to face the worse yet to come.

      Now that it’s finally, blessedly, over, there is safety. I can sleep again. But my physical, mental, and emotional condition is fragile. It’s going to be a long road back to “happy.” I suspect it’ll be a different kind of happy, too – seasoned, tempered, perspicacious.

      Worth, if you’re out there, how is it going for you?

      • Acta,
        Worth’s story is mine to a tee, and this is my life at the moment: “the darkest, most horrifying period is during separation and divorce, because it’s often when FWs unleash the very worst upon us.” I feel very alone right now. How can this behavior not be criminal? (I’m a former prosecutor.) I had to flee my home in Maine because he came after me. I got what few things I could and am now in Canada, trying to be safe. I filed and he has threatened “a death struggle.” An attorney, he is going through every part of my life and finding a way to abuse or destroy. I am dumbfounded, isolated, and hanging on some days by a thread, while he is having my kids up to our Maine cottage and hiding his girlfriend in the closet. No one, except Tracy and CN have a clue. No one. And the smear campaign…trying to argue I’m not crazy, when I’m suffering severe PTSD. It’s a nightmare. I knew leaving would be horrific, but nothing like this.

        Thank you for offering future hope for safety and sleep.

        • Hang in there! It may not seem as much- but I’m sending good vibes and energy. You left- you are MIGHTY- never doubt that.
          He is going nuts because he lost control over you- your mind, body and choices…. Use your freedom wisely- if it feels good- do it.

        • Liberated!,
          Yes the smear campaign hurts so much. I forgot who said something along the line of “never argue with an idiot because outsiders won’t be able to see who’s the idiot”. If friends believe the smear campaign without question, maybe they were not good friends worth keeping. I feel I have cleaned my address book the way Ulysse cleaned the barns of Augias. It hurt like heck, but now I am surrounded by true friends I can rely on. They are less than I expected, unfortunately.

    • This was also my story, but there was never physical abuse. The fuckwit knew better than to ever touch me because without hesitation I would have turned him in. But nearly everything else in the story was the same. I had become a doormat to the dick even though the world saw me as a very strong woman. I was a strong woman except for when it came to the dick. It was actually quite another mindfuck to be ‘left behind’ as it just made me feel that much more worthless. Most all here kicked their fuckwits out. After the first Dday I was literally on the ground begging him to love me. Fortunately, after the second Dday, I had gotten the strength with counseling and wonderful friends to go through with a divorce. But this story is mine in the sense that I did everything in my power to show the fuckwit that I appreciated him and loved him and never thought about my own needs. Thank the Lord that I finally had enough of the dick and his shenanigans. I also learned that not everything you love is good for you. I finally realized that he wasn’t good for me, so I. was. done. Even then I was bereft (to say the least) but I took a leap of faith and trusted that I was doing the right thing. 7+ years later I know I did the right thing. You will be happy, but if you’re like me, you’ll have to process why you allowed him to do all of the shit that he did. I took the time to process it, i.e., I had to untangle the skein of my own fuckedupness. Once I did that, I had to figure out how to establish boundaries so that no one, not a fuckwit, not family members, not even my youngest son who has distanced himself from me would have the power to hurt me again. I had to learn that I had worth, but it certainly took a while. Once I learned to love myself, realizing I had worth, I ‘bloomed’ (for lack of a better description.) That doesn’t mean that I stayed at full-bloom. I would wither (falling back into a former frame of mind) and then I’d have to cultivate myself once again to recognize my worth. My recovery was 2 steps forward, one step back…, until it became 3 steps forward, one step back…, until I made so many strides forward that I didn’t even know the last time I took a step back. It has been 7+ years and I thought I was completely done taking steps back, but just two weeks ago I went to my middle son’s wedding and saw the dick and his skank and … I found myself taking a step back. I was angry at myself for doing so! I made an appointment with a counselor to walk it through my head again and get back on track. I see him tomorrow, but in the last several days I recognized my worth again. Be kind to yourself. Being safe is the most important thing at the beginning and that may take a long time to realize that you’re really safe. Safety was a mindset for me and maybe it’s for you as well. I can only assume that once you’re ‘safe’, even a confrontation with the dick will leave you flabbergasted that you even allowed such a nincompoop into your life. In the last several days I’ve jumped forward again and you will too.

  • Threatening to leave if you tell anyone is an abusive action. He doesn’t want you to speak to anyone who would suggest you see a lawyer, domestic violence shelter, or to tell police about the physical attacks. He doesn’t want anyone to support you and encourage you to protect yourself financially.
    You say he’s still lying about little things, and that you used to feel he looked down on you. He did, because he was getting away with lying to you and cheating on you for years, and he’s still enjoying “duper’s delight” by putting something over you and getting away with it. Those lies about things you don’t think are meaningful may actually be about something significant, but you don’t see the bigger picture yet. My husband freaked out when I picked up a receipt for a computer gift card on the seat of his car. It turned out that STEAM computer gift cards are a way to transfer money; you scratch off the code on the back, then send or even text the codes to a recipient, who can cash them out. He told me he bought the one card for our tweenager, but he hadn’t, and that $25 card was just the tip of the $25K iceberg he’d sent his Schmoopie via these cards, something I didn’t learn til much later. When I went to the STEAM website, it had a huge warning that cards are misused this way. And when I showed him the texts on his phone sending them to her, he beat me badly. He’d never assaulted me openly before, but looking back, I realized the times he “accidentally” injured me, including while he was “dreaming,” were probably deliberate. So was the isolation from my friends; that may be why he doesn’t want to socialize.
    To anyone in the same position as Worth, get support and then get away. If he really loved you, he wouldn’t threaten to leave if you told, he’d want you to find support to deal with the pain. Don’t tell him what you’re doing when you get your financial ducks in order, because he’s already shown he’ll use violence to get his way or if he’s angry. Be smart and be safe.

  • Wow, this one hits hard. Change a few details, and I could have written this letter as well. The years between DDay of the “emotional” affair (which I foolishly believed was “just” emotional) and the final DDay were excruciating. FW saying how sorry he was, buying expensive gifts and trips, promising to “make it up to me,” but all the while taking his deceptions further underground, while also becoming more distant, moody, cold, etc. In my gut, I knew something was off, but whenever I tried to talk to him, he swore he was “happy” and basically blamed me for being so sensitive, slow to forgive, etc.

    As I have said before, this gas lighting and emotional abuse was far, far worse than the actual affair(s). I became a depressed, anxious, barely functioning shell of my former self, suffering from various physical and emotional ailments, all the while wondering what was wrong with ME. Through it all and even after the final DDay, I tried so hard to keep my marriage & family together. I realize now I was fighting to “get back” to something that had never actually existed, it was all a “mirage” as Velvet Hammer has stated. His emotional abuse of me was so extensive and corrosive and in retrospect, I see the signs were there right from the start. My kids suffered so much as well, between his manipulations and my anxious state, something I regret more than the marriage itself ending.

  • I’m so sorry you are going through this and that you are still at a point where you can’t imagine leaving. I truly get it too as I have been there. What you are describing really is abuse. It’s possible that you are used to being the victim so much so that it is hard to imagine being anything else. I’ll tell you a little secret, when I was pushed fully to the limit – my sig other didn’t want to leave his special friend or be told what to do etc.. – I started to plan my escape. When I gained agency, I didn’t feel so worthless. It was only when I gave it up for him that I did. I’m not sure if there is a possibility of taking a narcissist (though I’m no psychiatrist, you’re description sounds pretty textbook) down enough notches so that the power dynamic is reasonable. If you find that despite the sense of free falling terror leaving might represent, you feel a little better then that’s the right direction to go. Also I know how humiliating it is to be in a relationship with someone doesn’t really love you. Yes. He. Does. Not Love. You. Like. You. Love. Him. Hugs.

  • CL, this is a masterpiece of a response. I would hope that many could see themselves in this letter and that it is the inspiration they need to take that big step. Brilliant to equate it to birth. It’s painful for a moment of your life, and it’s a new life that you’re birthing from that short time of pain.

    I do hope that she has found her “worth”.

  • I saw an attorney last year as I had some fears about the future of my marriage. In my state – with 30some years of marriage I would be entitled to 60% of our assets and 40% of his income…forever. Get out. Go no contact. Get an attorney – and have your attorney get a forensic accountant asap. Please.

  • You need new friends. Friends who support you leaving a man who is physically, emotionally, verbally and sexually abusing you. You need to get out or you may be hurt or killed. I know this is blunt, but I have been there.

    It sounds like you are a religious woman and that’s great, but religion can miss the mark with abuse, especially females being abused by males.

    I would recommend a few resources;; he pops up on here sometimes and his work is very helpful.
    Gretchen Baskerville-The Life Changing Divorce; she has another religious perspective.
    Dr. Lundy Bancroft-Why Does He Do That? Is a life changing book; explains the abuse cycle and types of abuse well. It opened my eyes.

    Good luck! I hope you check in and let us know how you are doing! Hopefully these suggestions may help someone else.

    • I would add George Simon’s, “In sheep’s clothing”, to that list of books. The examples in the book which demonstrate abuse are an eye-opener when you are being subtly abused and not recognising the behaviour as abuse.

  • I couldn’t leave until my attorney said it was legally safe to do so & not be charged with abandonment & lose everything.

    • Dowhopditty,

      My lawyer and my therapist with no collaboration urged me to leave, go to a safer place than the marital home and then file. I did exactly that.

  • scooching over on the bench, too………. 40 years of sunk costs here – a lifetime wasted on an abuser who never felt anything real for me or for his family.

    I might also offer – I agree that he very well is making arrangements and hiding his plans from you, as chumplady says – this is the part that never entered my mind all those years while I kept forgiving him and loving harder. He let me do all that…..while he nodded and looked sad and confused, asking me to give him another chance, to help him be a better husband…..all the while searching for my replacement and playing victim with the adult children about how miserable he was and mistreated by me. He told my friends (without my knowledge) that no matter what he did, I was never happy. He tried and tried and tried, etc…. He did everything for me and I never appreciated him…..

    I woke up one day to find he DUMPED ME! For decades, I had forgiven and given and overlooked and loved harder, desperately trying to hold together the life we had built, the adult children and grandchildren………. only to be suddenly and rudely discarded after 40 years of marriage. He found someone willing to give him blowjobs in the closet at work – moved out of our family home directly into schmoopie’s apartment and then married her 60 days after our divorce was final.

    My adult children felt sorry for him, believed his tall tales about how unappreciated and unloved he was in our marriage and supported him throughout his painful ordeal of our divorce – also a total shock to me. They fell for it hook, line and sinker…….they never thought to ask me if this was also my truth.

    These fuckwits are so stupid in all areas of life and relationships…..and yet, so devious and cunning.

    • Tallgrass, I was also shocked that my only son bought ex’s lies and version of events without questioning me. I find it hard to believe my son doesn’t know the truth. He witnessed the abuse and old enough to see through cheaters manipulation.. Cheater will do whatever it takes to win even if it means sacrificing his son’s well being.
      It’s interesting that in all our stories it’s the Chump who works on the relationship, willing to take the blame, concerned about the happiness of the Cheater wondering what we’ve done to make them unhappy and what we can do to make him happy. Cheaters never asked if we’re happy, or show any concern if we aren’t happy, and make no effort to work on the marriage. I’ve yet to hear about one pick me dancing or spackling a chumps mistakes. How many have read a book on saving their marriage? They justify cheating by holding us to higher standards, then hold onto resentments from 1993. It never occurred to me that cheater never made any effort in our marriage and it was always me trying to please cheater and wondering what I had done wrong and trying to fix something that had nothing to do with me.

      • Yes. We do all the work for the cheaters. I was cleaning out some old books. Mine—books on relationships, self improvement, etc. FW’s? Porn related, erotic novels, trashy, etc. We do heavy lifting. They lift their dicks. Theirs is a very small universe.

    • I’m so sorry your adult children believed all the tall tales. That’s an even worse mind fuck for you. And it tells you what a deceiver the fuckwit is. Take care of yourself and keep coming here. You’re worth it!

    • Such devious, damaging deception done against you. Smear campaign extraordinaire
      done via the self pity mask.
      So very sorry.

  • I hope Worth is alive and well and SAFE. Stories like this chill me to the bone.

    How little her husband must think of her to lie, manipulate, and abuse her. How he twists it around on her to make he feel like SHE isn’t good enough, to make her feel like his actions and emotions are her fault. How she internalized every criticism, lie, and beating to mean that SHE is the worthless one, when HE is the person with garbage for a soul.

    Why do people like her husband use these techniques? Because they work.

    The older I get the more important it seems to me to educate young women about what love is, and what it isn’t. To tell them how to protect themselves (and their finances) even when they fall head over heels in love. They need to know how to get out of a marriage safely before they ever get married.

    I recently read a quote:

    “Love is the cheapest way to acquire a woman’s free labor.”

    We give up so much for three little words that are so easy to say.

  • I hope Worth found her worth and got out of this marriage safely. What resonated for me in this letter was the feeling of being lonely in the marriage and trying to fix myself to make things better. I was so lonely for so long. I kept thinking that it was me. I was at fault. If only I were more entertaining, or less tired, or sexier, or funnier, then things would be better. I kept myself spinning in circles with the “does he love me?” question. Two years after the divorce was final, and after reading Chumplady every day, I realize it was never me.

    I like the suggestion to ask whether I love myself. The other important point mentioned is to ask “do I love my partner?” If I had been honest with myself back in the marriage instead of spackling everything, I would have answered that with a resounding NO! I did not love him very much. I didn’t even like him very much. There were periods where I romanticized our relationship and felt something akin to love, but that wasn’t often or real. I was reacting to the abuse being dished out. The manipulation and the gaslighting. I was getting mysteriously sick at times. The stress was wearing me down.

    Once I separated and filed for divorce and then finalized the divorce, my life, and my kids’ lives, because so much more peaceful and drama free. Maybe Worth can check in to update us all on what happened and whether she found her way out, making better friends along the way.

  • I was married to the same narcissistic type of man for 21 years. Your story is similar to mine. I think a lot of it is about fear. Fear of the unknown and fear of an unknown future.

    • My sister had asked me, “What are you afraid of!?” when I didn’t divorce him the first time. I said, “I’m afraid of being alone.” She replied, “You’re alone now!” and I was. I hadn’t realized it until she said it, but I was ‘alone’ in my marriage for years.

      • It’s the worst feeling, to be lonely in a marriage, even though you’re technically not alone.

      • I had a similar experience. A close friend was describing my situation to her mother, and her mother was asking why I was reluctant to divorce. My friend told her mother, “because she’s been married 25 years.” And her 90-year-old mother shot back, “Isn’t that long enough?” It was the only thing that made me laugh during that horrible time, and it made me really start to think more rationally about my marriage.

  • I just opened up the new website. It is awesome. Easy to navigate. It prompted me to go back and read my post from 5 years ago about “can a cheating ao ever change and become the husband they should be”. Amazing what a difference 5 years makes. The cheaters are all alike. “Worth” I hope you followed CL advice and have started a new life like I did. You will never regret it!

  • Even if he “loves” you, the way he loves sucks. Love for him includes cheating, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and even when he tries to win you back, more lies! His definition of love is not the same as yours.

  • His storm of shitty behavior ruined your family, all you’re doing at this point is picking up wreckage he keeps leaving behind. So, get out of the storm. Stop picking up wreckage from the house he’s actively destroying and start building your own house that his storm can’t touch.

    Your sons will be fine. Don’t editorialize to them, don’t make them choose sides, simply say “your father had a girlfriend for several years and that’s unacceptable to me.” Overtime, other truths will be made known to them (believe you me) and they will come to understand even more what you went through. It may also help validate some of the feelings they’ve had about him or some of the ways he’s treated them. The odds are that you’re not the only one in your family who’s been the object of his abuse. Best of luck to you. Be mighty! And sometimes that just means acting mighty and letting your thoughts and feelings catch up.

  • I wish I could say this wasn’t me 48 months ago. On this side of it, I can see it was–every stupid sentiment and hope and denial of the reality in which I lived. And I still have moments of weakness. The abuse is REAL. It is persistent and rids us of our value inside our own heads. King Of All He Surveyed. I was the mere peasant who kept everything spinning hoping for some kind word or gesture. That I’d finally done “it” right. Nope. Just more shit.

    Integrity. Security. Sanity. No more night terrors. Once I put the hopium down and got real with myself I knew the abuse to be true. I took the control back and “field marshalled my way through that swamp” (thanks CL). I am facing a new future as papers have been filed but the terror I felt upon the execution of the Affidavit was unbelievable. I knew it like the back of my hand–it had been how I was living for more than a decade. I was shaking for days. My brother–God Bless Him–has been a rock upon which I lean heavily. My decision to look the KOAHS in the eyes to tell him “I Filed” was dangerously brave (and a little stupid bc of his DV history). But I wasn’t going to hide any more: not behind my lawyer, my kids (metaphorically), our social circle or anyone else. No.More. Fuck that guy and his fake boobed blonde bimbo taking his-self in the back of a car. She can have him 100%.

    I hope Worth found her value, too. No One should live like that. Ever.

  • “We will hold your hand and walk you through every step of this shit storm. Get over to the CN community.”
    That’s no lie!

  • I hope Worth got away from her abuser and is safe now.
    I remember all the years I thought it was me that wasn’t good enough. I read so many books about how to have a good marriage. I remember the fear of breaking apart my family.

    After I had officially filed, and physically separated, and was safely away from FW, one of my adult sons told me that he had been losing respect for me over the years. Taking a stand and calling it abuse, and refusing to put up with FW’s behavior helped all of us.

  • I found it never got any better to stay and pretend that everything is ok. The trust is gone. The respect for him is gone. Yes, divorce can be frightening, but living with a lying abuser is worse. Kids know when their parents are not happy, no matter how hard we try to fake it.

  • I’ve been out of an abusive marriage now for 9 years. He cheated, but told me I was controlling, manipulative, jealous, crazy and threatened to take my daughter. He was king of the house and our life revolved around him. He was the gatekeeper to just about everything we did or didn’t do. I honestly had gotten used to it, and I was a shell of my former self. Since he’s been gone, life has stabilized, my mental health improved, my self-love increased enormously. Leaving him was the best decision of my life and I have no regrets but it wasn’t easy. Lawyer up and know your financial situation. Don’t reveal your plans to anyone and find a physician who understands this dynamic. Stay safe and aware. You will flourish after you leave this man. You will find peace and joy again. You don’t deserve this treatment. Nobody does. You can’t fix him and love doesn’t leaving you feeling worthless. Better days are ahead for you.

  • They want to keep the shine on their character, that’s why you’re to tell no one. The ex doubled over and cried out “You told Jerry‼️“ (Jerry, our local Publix Manager, had formerly dated the mother of ex gf), when I shared with him Jerry had tears in his eyes upon learning the news. He used to send ex new patients from the store.

    I was married 36 years when I filed, no doubt it’s scary, at first. Read LACGAL. Don’t take a chance on your financial future. My 3 adult children informed me after filing they had no intention of bringing grands around him if had let him stay. GF younger than all of them. ????

    Lawyer up. You can do this

  • This letter really breaks my heart. I sure hope Worth got herself out. This is not love, hell, this is no life either. We’ve all been there in one way or another. If you’re here reading those letters and wondering whether you should leave, you probably are.

    My story is not as bad. Only married to FW 11 years before separation. He never hit me. When he left me to go after his happily ever after with his Schmoopie of several years, and shatter my little kids’ family and illusion of stability for a while, he told me “it would be harder for you to find someone in 10 years.”. I shudder to think I could have been 10 more years in the dark, thinking that was love. 10 more years of being lied to and used and ground down to something smaller and smaller every fucking day. He never beat me, but how far off is yelling and punching the wall when I dare disagree? When I ask why he doesn’t spend more time with his family, or where are our savings for a down payment on a house, year after year after year? None of it is love. It doesn’t get better. If any of it applies to your situation, get yourself out. Start loving yourself first ❤️.

  • This letter made me so sad to read. I hope WORTH IT got out and is living her best life. To anyone else reading this wondering if their abuser love them, remember this: a person who loves you will act in living ways towards you. Abuse is not love. Cheating is not love. Lying is not love. Shoving, hitting, or slapping is not love. When I left my abuser, I was really confused about what love even meant. I googled a lot of phrases, and I came across the website. It’s aimed at teens and young adults, but I found it really helpful.

  • I feel like I need to take this point by point, Not Worthless.

    “Anyway, he could be helpful and funny and not too demanding so it was easy to live with him”

    “He has also attacked me physically a couple of times, enough to scare me enough to leave for a couple of days, but my friends encouraged me to go back.”

    Wow. Do you not see the contradiction between those two statements? BTW, lose those “friends.” They don’t have your interests at heart.

    “The point is, I am still here, 20 months after D-Day and I am unable to leave. He begged me to stay, swears that he will make me happy, buys me flowers, calls and texts, which he never did before.”

    Classic lovebombing. It’s temporary, just to get you to stay. He won’t change.

    “He says he loves me, that he made a mistake, but he took 6 weeks to tell me the name of his affair partner as he didn’t want to hurt her.”

    Refer to “he won’t change” above.

    “He stopped seeing her as far as I know”

    He took it further underground.

    “and he threatened to leave me if I told anyone.”

    Refer to “he won’t change” again. This is the same guy who says he loves you. He threatens to leave if you defy him.

    “Eventually I did and was terrified he’d find out.”

    Is this the life you want? A life of terror, abuse and abject misery?

    “I don’t want to break up the family and I am scared of hurting my sons”

    They are being hurt, by having him as a role model for what it means to be a man. If you leave they will at least have a chance of becoming decent men.

    “He won’t see a counselor”

    Back to “he won’t change.” They don’t like counseling because they think counselor will expect them to change. Sadly, they are usually wrong. Most counselors are part of the RIC and will therefore expect *you* to change and accept fault for his abuse. Don’t even bother with it. It’s just more abuse.

    “and yes, I have read everything on this site.”

    Then you must know what happens in these situations. They. Don’t. Change. Dday 2 comes along, then 3, on and on until they’re too old to attract partners. Then their health fails and you have to take care of them and change their diapers as they verbally abuse you.

    “Why am I so scared to leave?”

    You’re trauma bonded to an abuser. It’s common, unfortunately, but it’s fixable. By leaving, that is.

    “What if he does really love me?”

    Not a chance in the world. I’m sorry to have to say this, as I know how much it hurts, but you’ve described a textbook case of an abusive narcissist. They simply can’t love. In addition to running away from him like the hounds of hell are at your feet, do some reading on NPD.
    Not Worthless, I hope you read all the posts the first time and again this time. The common denominator in all of them is that you must leave. That isn’t the kind of glib, throwaway advice that your so-called friends offer, it’s the result of hard won wisdom.

  • Dear Worth-Your-Weight-in-Gold,

    I suspect the reason you can’t leave is that you’re a battered woman who’s been told you’re “just codependant” by the poisonous RIC establishment who’s bread and butter relies on minimizing severe abuse because they could lose their licenses for trying to reconcile abusers with victims (ergo, abuse becomes “not abuse.” See how that works?).

    It’s like telling someone who’s been held hostage and repeatedly assaulted with a baseball bat that it was “just a pillow fight,” that the “leg isn’t broken in four places” and they could walk if they really wanted to…

    I think that because what happened to you has not been properly identified, you cannot get resources to heal from it and can’t get strong enough to break free.

    I was an advocate for dv survivors for several years and believe this is the key problem most survivors have with escaping– the fact that society and the so-called helping professions continue to whitewash and minimize abuse. Part of that minimization is only categorizing severely injurous assault– the kind that leaves victims paralyzed, blind or with keloid scars, etc.– as domestic violence per se. Meanwhile in reality most batterers operate on a beat-by-need basis, only becoming physically violent when less athletic, less legally risky measures (such as boiling frog attacks on self esteem, coercive mood swings, financial abuse, nagging, neglect and yes, cheating) fail to sufficiently collapse victims’ psyches, rendering them easier to control.

    Even after the shelter movement began in the US and other countries, helping professionals continued to minimize the effects of coercive control that makes up about 98% of the domestic violence experience. It’s psychologically entrapping for survivors to see that society sides with abusers in the key sense of minimizing and denying abuse when denial is abusers’ favorite tact. At a moment when suvivors need more than anything to be enfolded in a protective embrace of wide social support and believed, they are instead told their abusers were “right” to deny the severity of abuse. It’s crippling.

    There’s a book out by one of my favorite dv researchers, psychologist Evan Stark, titled “Coercive Control” that tackles this widespread political catastrophe head on. It’s about how violent assault — as long as it doesn’t outright kill– is rated by survivors as actually far less damaging than the endless psychological tactics used by batterers to paralyze prey.

    In my experience, cheating is one of the standard tactics in batterers’ arsenals as mentioned above. Canadian criminologist Donald Dutton is another important researcher and author who explains well why batterers seek to psychologically paralyze intimate partners: because of something referred to “masked dependency.” Basically abusers of all stripes are incapable of actual love, instead only a pathological, infantile dependency on intimate partners. But then abusers– who were usually raised in a “kill or be killed” home environment– become paranoid that intimate partners will abuse the power of this dependence and will either “engulf” the abuser (who lacks a core self and so tends to mirror others to fabricate the appearance of solid character– then blames the people they mirror for “engulfing” them. Go figure) or abandon the abuser. Cheating addresses these internally-generated fears by diluting that dependence– spreading it out among more than one partner– as well as enacting revenge on victims for the imaginary crime of merely having the power to leave.

    For abusers, detachment is victory because attachment is torture. This is why so many cheaters seem to revel in theit victims’ humiliation and pain: the abuser believes they were just premptively betraying someone who was bound to betray them anyway. Many are cold when confronted because being cold and detached was the main goal of committing the abuse. By paralyzing partners and betraying first, the abuser effectively masks their own dependency from themselves as well as others.

    If that sounds like a bid for leniency for poor, sad abusers, bear in mind that the above is a psychological profile shared by serial killers. Dutton says that even with therapy and prison, recidivism is about 97% for individuals with this brand of attachment disorder– essentially incurable.

    In your testimony, you write that you worry that you’ll leave and miss out on some renewed burst of love he could develop for you. But the problem and the danger is exactly that. According the best authorities I’ve run across, the closest thing to “love” people like this experience is followed quickly by an overwhelming compulsion to disempower and destroy the object of it. You’ve already experienced that “love” and it’s come close to killing you.

    That cycle will only repeat. Only when you’re fully off Planet Abuser and no longer breathing those toxic, mind-bending fumes will any of this make sense. You’ll realize that your present helplessness and paralysis– aka Stockholm Syndrome/captor bonding– were mostly a safety strategy, a kind of boxer’s hug to keep the opponent’s blows from landing with full force. This will become especially clear if he goes berserk and becomes violent again at the moment he feels you truly pulling away and recovering your perspective.

    I say the above as a warning because when abusers are in detached/cold mode, they don’t seem like they could possibly go into murderous rages for fear their victims will escape since they don’t seem to give a shit what the victim does. But statistically it happens all the time. That’s the other danger of masked dependency– it’s misleading to observers and victims are left unprepared and unprotected. When that mask slips and the abuser feels their warped rendition of “love” again, some will attack. So please be safe, seek practical support and protection and keep your plans under wraps wirh only a trusted few. Since I’m measuring your level of fear of your husband by your current degree of paralysis (playing possum to keep from setting him off), I worry for your safety.

    • Great summary Hell of A Chump. The masked dependency is what no one else ever sees let alone believe the truth about the mask wearing cheater even if they could understand the toxic family system that begat it. The cheater mask is just that good — FWs are very careful to preserve it with anyone they encounter outside the marriage… all the better to hide the batterer within and smear the chump to devastating effect. It is so hard to make sense of this kind of abuser. Escape is the only option.

    • Thank you for giving credence to my thoughts that LTC Fuckface hated me for loving him. I am going to read the books you recommended.

      Masked dependency explains his continuing the abuse through litigation. He won’t follow the Judge’s orders. He continues to attempt to have those orders changed. He seems intent on punishing me. He makes plenty of money and can pay the portion of our marital assets. He doesn’t want too. He is enraged that he has lost control over me. So he exerts control through the Courts.

      • Using the court system (or any other institution for that matter) by a perpetrator to punish and smear and cause further torture / damage to their victims is a form of abuse – I’m pretty sure it’s called ‘structural abuse’. It’s underreported as a concept but it’s absolutely a thing…. So sorry you’re going through it with LTC Fuckface and sending you strength to survive the shitshow! (((33YAC)))

  • Mrs. You Need to Know Your Worth,

    This person doesn’t even like you, let alone love you.

  • It’s so difficult to change the way we think about our life…
    “ I don’t want to break my family”
    vs “ he already broke our family”

    “ I would do anything for him”
    vs “ he does minimum or whatever feels like doing”

    “ he tells me he loves me and wants to take care of me”
    Vs “ he was physically and emotionally abusive”

    It’s difficult to wrap a head around the stuff we do/value/show in daily life bs stuff they do- and it’s pointless to try to understand that craziness.
    Don’t waste your time on ☝️

    You are an amazing human being, and the fact that you were able to stay SANE while dealing with domestic abuse?
    Start treating yourself the way a good friend would… don’t waste that energy on your husband.

    • You frame this important point about the contradictions between what Worth says about her marriage vs. what he does, and in such a simple, clear way.

  • I’d like to raise one glass to CL’s new site (gorgeous) and another to domestic violence agencies. I also thought I’m Not That Woman…until he stalked me for a year, post NC.

    My town’s tiny domestic violence agency is easy to overlook, tucked away in the corner of a strip mall. But inside, those women moved mountains for me. Their staff lawyer (?!) helped me submit paperwork and even sat beside me as I made my case to the judge. She blocked my view of my abuser and his douchebag lawyer.

    The Order of Protection (along with judge’s validation) was and is a trophy to me. Those women helped me get it, and they iced the cake with free access to a trauma-informed counselor.

  • Love is a verb.
    When I was told this it suddenly all made sense in my head. He said I love you as a hook to drag me in.
    Someone who loved me wouldn’t be violent, yell because I answered the phone, forbid me from doing things etc etc

  • I’m going to pass along the wisdom my maternal grandmother gave to my mother when my mother was trying to decide whether to leave my alcoholic, unfaithful, verbally abusive father:

    “You have to save yourself.”

    My grandmother and mother were both very smart women.

  • Believe what they do, not what they say. Lying is their native language. They will do anything to have control over the narrative and you.
    Not a day went by in all the 38 years I was married to my ex that he didn’t say “ I love you” to me at least once in the course of the day or more.
    Every single day……..
    And yet he abused me every single day too behind my back.
    None of the “ I love you’s” meant anything. It was all manipulative control.
    He was a serial cheater for the entire marriage as far as I know, with at least 3 affairs that were each 6-10 years long and many others in between.
    Who has that kind of deceptive energy to invest in that level of coordination?!
    Only pathological people. That is certainly not anything to be called love.
    It’s abuse disguised as love, which is so much more damaging and confusing.
    I saw so many similarities in your story, Worth, as many of us here have mentioned.
    I always felt like I was sooooo close to being the perfect partner, but he always made me feel like there was always just that nameless intangible missing from me that could never be quite filled. So close!
    It was placed there so I would not stop jumping through hoops to try and please and overcome my imperfections to be the perfect wife he deserved in his mind to have.
    It was never a rational or achievable goal, but I didn’t realize that till post divorce when the lights on the relationship illuminate for you so brightly it’s like flipping those mega lights on a professional ball field, blinding and glaring in quality. You really see it all at once.
    The truth in a blinding brilliance once you see it, you can’t unsee it ever again.
    No one will be enough for them, their abuse is so deeply devastating.
    You know something’s wrong when you sign your letter ‘Worthless’.
    Would YOU make your spouse feel that way? Of course you would not.
    You didn’t do that to yourself, it was done to you.
    Could that be called love to make your spouse feel nothing but unworthy and lonely all the time?! You know the answer.
    These creatures we ran into are completely incapable of loving anyone at all, and most def not themselves.
    The further he drags you down, the higher and grander he gets to feel.
    Nothing can be more toxic to you than involvement with someone that is that level of damaged and wants to actively destroy someone else.
    It’s shocking to read all these similar stories over and over and to know what we’ve been through, we are not alone in experiencing. It’s the hardest thing to wrap your head around.
    There are actually ppl in this world who will fake like they love you, but they will instead do great harm to you. WTH?!
    No one even knew that existed, until it happened to them!
    And there is only a tiny club of ppl ( chumps) that can validate that for you. This is them, right here, believe us, we have no reason to lie to you. You are being abused, end of story.
    You have great worth, Worth. You will discover that again only after you get away from this toxic being.
    He does not love anyone, and never will.
    It takes years to heal from this, I’m not there yet myself, but I do know full well now abuse was happening to me I was not able to recognize.
    I never realized how critical it is to feel safe. I’m not looking for love, I feel tremendous gratitude for just being able to feel a sense of safety and peace. It’s priceless.
    We have your back, Worth. I promise you that’s true.
    CL did yet another outstanding job of explaining what is going on for you. ( she has a great gift for that!)
    I fully agree with her suggestions to you. Her book is also an invaluable resource , it’s simple, straight and honest talk about what the hell is up. I’ve read it three times in the last three years. It’s the slap in your face that you so need but don’t know you need.
    This site and the ppl that post here are a godsend as you will discover if you decide to hang for awhile. It’s very healing and helpful.
    It’s not going to be an easy path out for you, it wasn’t for any of us, but it is 100% the right action to take.
    You deserve respect and love, you didn’t do anything wrong.
    Nothing you can do will make this guy a healthy person.
    Save yourself instead, you are well worth the investment!

  • Almost 4 years after D-Day and I still come to this site at least once a week. I can’t express how much gratitude I have for those that are going to share their story and Tracy’s blunt honesty, exposing the truth.

    Worth, as a fellow chump, I can fully relate to your story. Even my parents died back to back after my ex left for her true love ????. But I promise you, you will get through it if you stay resolved and totally practice the art of no contact.

    I also hope that you take the time to fall in love with yourself first and foremost after ditching this loser. Find the power to write your own story whatever that might be and close this chapter once and for all.

    Okay I’m just rambling but my heart hurts so bad reading your story from a guy that’s been on the other side, meh is real.

  • Love is not enough!!! Worth, you have to repeat that to yourself over and over. It doesn’t matter if he “loves” you if he mistreats you. It doesn’t matter if he “loves” you if he betrays, deceives and lies to you and then forces you to not tell anyone so that you can receive support for a wrong-doing. It doesn’t matter if he “shows his love” through acts like giving you flowers if he doesn’t even give you basic remorse for his wrong-doing. It doesn’t matter if he loves you if he socially isolates you by his unwillingness to participate in all aspects of your life. He keeps you under his thumb. He controls your moves and keeps you suspended in a state of fear while feeding you crumbs. You are experiencing your own slow spiritual death inside. You must get out of this and free yourself! Secretly see a lawyer and start lining up your ducks. Start doing some digging into the financials. Get yourself a solid support system. Prepare to leave and prepare for his reaction because it will be explosive. Protect yourself.

    There is freedom on the other side, and it is glorious. Best wishes and hope that all has worked out in your favour since you first wrote this letter.

  • I was you. I got lucky – he left me. But I understand very well the not feeling able to leave. It’s hard. It’s scary. “But what if…?”

    I wholly agree with CL – don’t focus on “happy” right now. Focus on safety. Focus on fleeing the abuse cycle. Happy comes later (and it DOES – I thought I’d never be happy again. I’m here to tell you that I didn’t even know what “happy” was til after he was out of my life. I thought I was happy with him when things were “good”. it was just abuse with a different face. I’m TRULY HAPPY now, and it is wonderful).

    I got a lawyer before I was emotionally ready to let my husband go. She was invaluable. She told me that she had worked with many women like me, and had ended up with celebratory selfies on the courthouse steps. I was skeptical. But eventually I got to the point where I was able to cut all emotional ties and was able to move on with my own life. I started planning a kick-ass divorce party with my friends.

    You will be FINE. We are all here to support you.

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