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‘Why Do I Miss Him?’

Hey Chump Lady,

I’ve been separated from my lying, cheating FW for 5 months and 18 days. (But who’s counting?)

This is not the first time said FW and I have been separated, however it is the longest separation. My issue isn’t about what to do with the FW. I left his ass. My issue is what to do about me missing the FW.

What to do about the sinking I feel constantly? What to do about the sometimes debilitating ache inside my chest? What to do about all the stupid good memories that I keep replaying over and over? What to do about me assigning him emotions because it’s what I feel?

It’s so frustrating to me that I know exactly what he is, but won’t let myself accept that I wasn’t an exception for him. Does that make sense? I mean, without getting into to much detail, I’ll give you an example. When I left I tried to be civil and say goodbye nicely, but he called me a cunt and told me to hurry the fuck up. And when I actually physically left, he was nowhere to be found, so I didn’t say goodbye. Just the other day I was in the midst of a anxiety attack and feeling all fucked off, so I broke down and texted the asshole and said something along the lines of I just really needed to hear his voice.

Fucking lame. I know. His response was, “You didn’t care about me enough to even say goodbye and now you want to hear my voice? You can call me if you want to talk.” Okay and rewind back to where I left. The day after or maybe it was a couple days after, I’m not sure, but I downloaded Facebook messenger for my phone and when I synced it, it sent a message to friends of mine. Him included that said something like you are now connected to Annie on messenger. Totallly generic. I had nothing to do with it and he sends me back this mean-ass, name-calling, leave-him-alone-I’m-a-piece-of-shit message. Which I never responded to. Damn this bullshit. I don’t even know where I was headed with that blah blah. The fuckery is real. Kill it!!

Thats all I got right now. Thanks for letting me share.

Imustenjoythis

****

Dear Imustenjoythis,

No, you don’t enjoy this. You just want “this” to validate you, which is equally fucked up.

Think about it. What if you were at the store and the guy who was bagging your groceries called you a cunt? You’d be completely incensed, right? You’d be righteously pissed off. Who are YOU Mr. Grocery Bagger to call ME a cunt? A person you are supposed to help and be courteous to! I came here for bagged groceries, not verbal abuse!

You’d think the guy was off his rocker. You’d think he was piss poor at customer service. And after the insult faded, you would NOT take it personally. Because it’s outside the bounds of normalcy to insult a person you’re supposed to help. And even if the grocery bagger was having a bad day and doesn’t want to be nice to you, there are consequences for insulting customers — he could lose his job! Someone might punch him in the face. That guy is a LOON for behaving that way!

How stupid would it be if we chased the guy down afterwards and asked him to tell us more? No, how do you REALLY feel about me? How absurd would it be if we assigned blame to ourselves for his outburst? Was it my sweater? Do you hate Argyle? How insane would it be if we manufactured some excuses for the grocery guy for calling us a cunt? Well, this isn’t the totality of him. I need to look into his heart.

I know what you’re thinking — you’re thinking, but Tracy, that guy is a STRANGER. Of course what he says doesn’t matter. My guy KNEW me. We were intimate. We had good times. That’s why it hurts.

Bullshit. He cheated on you. He lied to you. He called you a cunt. The fact that he was your intimate puts a GREATER weight of responsibility on him, not less. It should be outside the bounds of normalcy to insult a person you’re supposed to love. And there are consequences for hurting you — he could lose you! That guy is a LOON for behaving that way!

The problem of “missing” the FW is YOU. Your ex’s mindfuck works because you do not know your worth. Because insults and abuse are NOT outside the bounds of your normalcy. Because somewhere, somehow you think that Assface who got that close to you, and professed to love you, rejected you because of something lacking in YOU — not HIM.

Fix that.

Either what he did was acceptable to you, or unacceptable. As you left, I assume it’s unacceptable. So STOP behaving in ways that communicate “acceptable.” You can begin by unfriending him on all social media and blocking his number. You can forgive yourself for setting such a low price of admission on your love. And you can do better now and raise that price. Know your worth.

People with great self-worth don’t look to lowly foul-mouthed cheaters to validate them. He’s not all that. YOU’RE all that.

Internalize it.

***

This one ran previously.

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  • I printed this and put it on my bulleting board when it was posted originally. I read it over and over again as a reminder. Thank you Tracy for all that you do. Your words have helped me in ways that you will never know.

    The problem of “missing” the FW is YOU. Your ex’s mindfuck works because you do not know your worth. Because insults and abuse are NOT outside the bounds of your normalcy. Because somewhere, somehow you think that Assface who got that close to you, and professed to love you, rejected you because of something lacking in YOU — not HIM.

    Fix that.

    • I also think abusers boil victims like frogs with putdowns and betrayal to the point the victims lose any sense of themselves. Because of DV expert Lenore Walker’s finding that most victims had higher than average pre-abuse self esteem, tearing the victim’s self esteem to pieces seems to be the whole abuser MO. It sets up a protection racket where the victim becomes so browbeaten and isolated that the only person left to take the shiv out of their ribs is the person who stabbed them with it. It’s domestic violence in a nutshell.

  • Writer asked, “What do I do about me assigning him emotions because it’s how I feel?”
    Therein lies the cracked foundation block. Everything built upon that block had no stability because it was cracked.
    One enormous growth curve occurs when WE learn that we cannot project OUR perceptions onto another. Many a relationship is founded upon and flounders as a result of this choice. Take yourself out the relationship fully. Look very objectively at who this person is as they relate to your life. Hopefully, you’ll see him as a figment of your imagination that never did align with your perceptions other than being a partner. Next time, keep your perceptions close to your chest as you move forward. Allow another to show you who they are without having preconceived notions of who they are. They’ll show you…in time.

    • This! That was the one statement that stood put to me as well, Latitude. It is not easy to wrap your brain around another person’s inability to feel the same emotions, thoughts, feelings, etc that are easily felt by you.

      I can’t count the number of friends who have commented, “I bet he is suffering” or “I don’t care what you say, he is missing you.”

      Uh, no. That would presume he has the capacity to feel for someone, anyone but himself.

      The best gift I ever received from cheating bastard ex was something he said to me the day I walked out … “I don’t know what love is.” Hearing him say this was the catalyst that jump-started my healing process. Yeah, it hurt like hell to hear it, but it also very effectively erased decades of my assuming he felt about me the way I felt about him. Then, I could begin to recognize the cheating (as well as all the other mistreatment) as the abuse that it was. Perception vs. Reality … it can be a bitch. Like CL says, trust that they suck.

      • Ex said ‘I don’t know what love is ‘ also in the last couple of years but 14 years before at the start of our relationship he stayed his love for me a lot. So it was hard to reconcile his later lack of love. I’ve realised he has never really loved a partner although he loves his children.(seems to anyway)

        • He said it all the time until i found out he was a cheater… then he said he didn’t know if he could love, he didn’t know what love is. He implied i don’t know what love is and lately he is saying that what he feels inside for me and the kids is the closest to love he ever felt. I think he is totally fucked up in his head and I wasted the best years of my life in a useless human being…

      • Fuckface kept insisting that “he loved me” even while he was fucking anything and everything with a hole. He still maintains this, but he clearly is disordered and is playing on my sympathies, possibly trying to hook me back in…Yeah, no, motherfucker, you’re an evil deceitful monster void of empathy…go fuck yourself with your “I really loved you’s”. You have zero capacity for love…you don’t even respect yourself!

    • “‘What do I do about me assigned him emotions because it’s how I feel?’
      Therein lies the cracked foundation block.”

      Absolutely agree with you. I spent 40 years with my ex (35 married) “assigning” him the emotions I would feel. Imagine my surprise to discover he didn’t feel them.

      Part of my unchumping has meant seeing how I also did this with other people in my life. I have concluded that assuming others would feel as I would is the basis for spackling. If I wouldn’t do or say what someone else did, and what they did or said violated my own sense of ethics, I’d make excuses for them.

  • Wow. I absolutely don’t miss ANYONE who’s ever called me a c-word to my face.

    (Minor feminist aside: This part of a woman’s body is warm, strong, deep, pleasure giving, and life giving. It’s also a self-cleaning organ. How it became a term of abuse used overwhelmingly by men is worth pondering.)

    • Not any different then women calling a man a “dick”. I don’t like either word and have never called anyone a c***.

      • Disagree. The origins of the word cunt are far different than the origins of the word dick. And cunt should never be used as a misogynist slur.

        • Marissachump: Accurate. It doesn’t even take a lot of googling to read up.

          I gave been working very hard for a while now to strive to remove gender-, race/nationality, anatomy-, appearance-, income/social-, faith-, and ability-based etc. insults from my vocabulary. Why use sloppy, clumsy language instead of clear language?

          There are plenty of words that effectively describe things as bad without using biased and/or marginalizing language. No need to be selfish or lazy, plus it’s bad form to knowingly be harmful. (Those who argue that intentionally avoiding harmful speech is weak or performative go on my “I don’t take advice from people who don’t care who they harm and think their values should be everyone’s values because that’s weak character I don’t want to emulate” list.).

          And even with ALL of that said, I continue to 100% agree that, because of the social power imbalance, it is categorically different to use feminized words to insult and demean people of all genders — via the clear implication that exhibiting feminine traits inherently lowers human value and/or personal strength — than it is to refer to masculine traits with penis slang, which doesn’t imply that masculinity makes a person weak or invalid.

          That doesn’t make it kind or justified, at all, it just acknowledges that the impact isn’t directly equivalent.

          • All bearing in mind that a fair amount of the vitriol people use in this forum to vent their anger about APs and how undesirable they are paints a picture that often matches my own mirror rather accurately. It is through that lived experience — reading about my own undesirability regularly as it is used as reason to hate and demean others like me — that I have grown and changed my own behaviors and word choices. When I don’t like hearing words that describe me being weaponized to demean others, it makes sense to me to acknowledge how I do the same to others and apply maturity to growth and change. No person will convince me that is a weak approach, because I can guarantee it took a lot of strength to admit my mistakes and work to change them.

            If you find yourself feeling like telling me I am off base, I invite you to imagine for a moment how you may be defending something that could improve your life if instead of defending it you changed it. What could it hurt to try? The rewards might surprise you.

      • You’re right in principle Sirchumpalot, but there are sociological factors involved that make a difference. It’s somewhat akin to saying the n word is no different than saying cracker. One is punching down and the other is punching up.
        That’s why it’s considered permissible for people of color to use the n word on each other, but not permissible for white people. Equally, it’s permissible for women to call each other the c word and b word, but not okay for a man to do it. So I get why it bothers people.
        When unequal conditions exist, you can’t claim there’s parity just because in principle there should be.

    • The words we use to “curse” another person are learned behavioral vocabulary. As children we hear adults fighting with each other or talking about each other, and the terms are derogatory. The contempt is implied. It is the difference between “let’s make love” and “let’s fuck”.

      In my FOO culture, a man is supposed to love a woman before they have sex. Hopefully, in my culture marriage precedes the sex, but it is supposed to be an act of love. If you find you have made an error in choosing a partner for love, you change the act into one which is only about organs involved. The other person is cast in the role of bad actor, not deserving respect. If one was “used” then one was a fool, who did not follow the cultural guidelines. The act of love turns into an act which requires punishment, to enforce the cultural interpretation of events.

      Of course, this does not take into account that your “feelings” may have been about love and the partner may have had bad intentions all along. You are still punished for making a mistake. There are a whole slew of names for you, and your partner, none are flattering.

      When a woman calls a man a “dick” she means he used his organ like a weapon, it is symbolic of his lack of respect for her, and indicates he lied to her, among other things. I can’t speak for men, but my assumption is their terms for us are used for similar reasons.

      The facts are self-evident though, women have had to fight to achieve any status above body part for centuries. Men have always had superior power, money, and influence. Men have made laws to keep us in our place. I don’t blame all men who are currently alive for their ancestors’ attitudes, but if all of us don’t work toward changing the cultural status of women, then women will always be “less than.”

      Women have to stop hating themselves and accepting blame for the actions of men. Women have to stop making excuses for men’s bad behavior. Women have to stop seeking validation through a relationship with men. A man can stand alone and be confident. Women need to learn they can stand alone and be confident.
      Women have to break the derogatory image of the female sex long held by our culture. We can start by realizing we can only fix our own self, and we can stop trying to fix others. We can lead by example. Expect a long, somewhat lonely journey when you start down this path of realization.

      Also realize that 50 years or more of progress can be removed with a stroke of a pen by those who do not believe in a woman’s right to make her own decisions in life, and about her own body. That is the sad truth, but I regard it as a detour, and a wakeup call to all the little sisters out there who grew up with rights they no longer have. You cannot be politically dormant and content with the way things are. You have to be an active participant for change to occur.

    • This times a billion. I refer to that part of my body with this term. It’s a term of empowerment as I see it, and should never be used as a misogynist slur.

  • Writer asked, “What do I do about me assigning him emotions because it’s how I feel?”

    This stood out to me, as well. Even three years out from a 30 year marriage, I find myself thinking he must be having the same memories, the same reactions, the same goals as me even now.

    The simplest explanation is the neurological changes that occur with any long term and interdependent relationship. That’s how we have survived as humans. As animals.

    The passage of time and experience rewires those connections. It also helps to realize that cheaters violated a trust that even geese are capable of.

    • “The passage of time and experience rewires those connections. It also helps to realize that cheaters violated a trust that even geese are capable of.”

      Good comparison.

      Yes, I felt the same way. I missed him so much I was in constant pain for a couple months. Then I stupidly let him come back, thinking he had come back to his senses when all he really wanted was a few days in my house to use the car for his politicking. (He couldn’t use his police car, and whore didn’t even own her own car, she was the dog catcher so had a company car). Of course I told myself he does love me, my life is back etc. It only took a few days for me to figure out what he was up to, then I kicked him out.

      His life devolved into a massive pile of shit after we
      D’d, (not because I was gone, but because of the constant bad decisions he kept making) but I still remember the pain and how hard I tried to get my life back (or what I thought was my life) in those first dark days.

    • ICSTuesday: Your comments about we find ourselves thinking he must have the same memories, reactions, etc. as we do. Yes, we wonder that but it is not often true. They think it was good while it lasted or well, we did have some good times, didn’t we. That is not our reaction. Sad.

      • That was my ex’s exact reaction to me saying, “But what about all the fun we’ve had together?” He replied, “yea, I guess we had a few good times.” Major downplay!!! And, in that moment, I realized how little I had meant to him in the course of 30 years. I felt that 30 years of my life were a complete waste…this investment that I thought I had made in us as a family, in each of our families of origin, and our mutual friends was complete nothing. In that statement, he erased 30 years of my life as absolutely nothing. And his heart never skipped one beat. I started at 50 years old with nothing…no home, no husband, no job, no friends, and in a completely different state from where I had lived the past 30 years…unfamiliar with my surroundings. How does one so flippantly discard a best friend/spouse? There is something terribly, significantly mentally wrong with a person who feels nothing at discarding such a significant relationship, except the excitement of getting his dick wet from a girl half his age. And, if I was so insignificant to him, why did he not leave me 30 years ago when I was younger and could find someone who really did love me?

    • “It also helps to realize that cheaters violated a trust that even geese are capable of.”

      Thank. You.

  • Yes same same same. I’m trying so hard to work on myself. It’s been 9 months since d-day when I found out the love of my life, father of my child, someone I was genuinely happy with, had been seeing (and vacationing with) another woman for 7 years. The depression and physical pain has been debilitating, but I am seeing small improvements. I no longer want to die at least. But I still think about him and long for our life as a family so much, and even though I kicked him out right away, I truly don’t understand how he’s not constantly trying to make it up to me. How does he not call me everyday? How can he be functional? This almost hurts as much as the betrayal. I’m doing all of the right things but I don’t WANT to. You know? Even though I know it could never work, I still want the comfort of knowing that he would want to try – would want to fight for me – would do anything to make it up to me. Lol. I know it doesn’t make sense. I’m wishing he had empathy. It really hurts that he doesn’t. I really hurts that I didn’t know this for 17 years with this man. Oh and the urge (need!) to explain this all to him over and over again is so strong! I’m getting better at not doing that too. Not perfect yet but better. Thanks for listening CN 💕

    • Lost, I think we started our “Gain a Life” journey around the same time. I’ve been thinking about you. You sound so much stronger. Yay! Breaking denial sucks, but I’m beginning to see that the magic in the 30-years we had together still is in me, and it’s getting stronger. I’m getting stronger the more I come to terms with the lies and the abuse. Anyway, I’m glad to see your post. Wishing you well.

      • I’ve been thinking about you too, Liberated ❤️ How are you? I guess I do sound better and I am a little. I can see small improvements. Longer periods of time pass between caving and reaching out. I’m able to read books again. Some days I don’t sob at all! I’ve actually been trying not to post. I’ve even been cutting back on my therapy. I’m focusing more on staying active and less on sitting still with my thoughts or talking about how sad I am. I miss him so much…
        I’m at the beach right now with my daughter and her friend. The ocean is cold and jumping into it is good for me. It’s hard not to feel sad when surrounded by happy families, though. Breaking denial does, indeed, suck!!!

    • You’re doing so well. It’s so early still. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

      These people can’t bond. But you can. That’s something to be proud of.

    • i hear you, lost. i’m 1 1/2 years out from d-day, and it gets better, it really does. i actually look forward to many new things–for instance, i’m moving out into my own home in august.

      i found the ruminating the worst part of grieving, the 3 a.m. swirl of thoughts and feelings. so i created a mantra that i repeated until the swirling slowed and stopped. this mantra is specific to my situation and slowly morphs over time, as i understand myself more. it’s a lot of work.

      1. he’s an active alcoholic
      2. he refuses to get help for alcoholism
      3. he is not emotionally capable
      4. he was raised in a dysfunctional, alcoholic home with parents who fought all the time, and had no boundaries
      5. the result is that he avoids conflict and uncomfortable feelings
      6. he is not interpersonally capable
      7. i was primed for this relationship because i was raised by a narcissistic mom
      7. this relationship is not sustainable, that it lasted as long as it did is kinda amazing
      8. but, i deserve more and i will have more

      by the time i get to the end of the mantra, i’m thinking of myself and what i deserve. that’s the biggest shift over the first year–shifting focus to your self.

      keep going!

      • Damn, We married the same man. I can (and will) use your mantra on my 3 am wake ups, I wouldn’t have to change a word. And whenever I feel low, I have edited it down to : His behaviors were not acceptable to me.
        It is getting easier- 3 1/2 years in.
        Also I love the goose analogy up above ^^^
        Even a goose has more sense than these FW’s

      • My mantra is specific to me, with positive reinforcements about me, and I stopped about him. I am smart, I am beautiful and I am kind. No focus on FWs.

      • Damn,
        I love this mantra. It feels like a wonderful piece of practical advice to be able to offer to someone who is going through this shit storm. I know yours is individual to you but that is what makes it so awesome. When I was going through the grief process I would get up and go for a drive in the middle of the night (before he moved out so the kids had an adult there). It did help but something like this would have been so empowering. Thank you for sharing and I will keep it available to share with others.

    • Dear Lost,

      I am so sorry you qualify for this site and know intimately how painful the discard and betrayal are! You are in like company and we are brimming with empathy for you. Stay close as we help your journey towards a blissful MEH.

      It has been 5 years and a few weeks since my most recent (& LAST) D-day. I truly don’t care at all about ex who is a FW (he is not an ex-fw because that $#it don’t wear off!). Whe he was was a figment of MY imagination and projection, built on that faulty foundation mentioned above. He went through motions that resembled love & devotion, but it was an act since his double life went on & on & on, making me doubt every “happy” memory. That hurt at first, but then it was part of what helped me move on.

      You will heal! You are worth so much more than how you were treated! Keep modeling real love and sanity to your child, however old. Mine are 26 & 20 now, and they can see what their father is. I don’t need to say anything.

      Peace is on the other side of your pain, Lost. Stick around & you are bound to be FOUND. 😊

      • I’m definitely sticking around. I wait patiently for each new post. (:

        The memories are really hard. So many years of happy memories are smashed. Such an enormous chunk of my life. My daughter is 15. At first she was so angry and stayed only with me. Now they’re starting to build a relationship again and she is spending 2 nights a week with him. I know it’s best for her but, arg, I can’t stand it. I can’t believe I need to share her. The injustices don’t stop! I will continue to be the sane parent. I’m looking forward to finding peace again. I feel like I need to reclaim my mental space.

        Thanks for your response. Thanks, to everyone, for helping me 💕

      • @ChumpDiva

        “You are worth so much more than how you were treated!”

        Thank you for this! Rang like a temple gong in my head. I have a particular friend who should be, needs to be, deserves to be, told this every day. I just texted it to her. Thank you

    • “Even though I know it could never work, I still want the comfort of knowing that he would want to try – would want to fight for me – would do anything to make it up to me”

      That was it for me too. After 19 years and a kid together, he couldn’t even admit what he did. He never asked for me to stay. He never told me that I had ever meant anything to him, really. The most he offered me was, “Well, we had some good times together, didn’t we?”

    • Oh, Lost, I am so sorry you are going through this. Your post touched my heart because I well remember the feelings you described. Those feelings make perfect sense – it’s hard as hell to come to terms with the knowledge that the person you thought was the love of your life isn’t capable of love.

      It’s a process and there is peace on the other side, I promise. Also a lot of “WTF did I ever see in him in the first place?!” But mostly peace. 🙂

    • Each and every word you wrote goes right through me. I feel every moment of what you describe so clearly. I’m so sorry you are going through this. It sucks so bad!

    • I totally get that, Lost. It blows your mind how little we matter after all those years spent together. Being the people we are, we can’t even see how it’s possible to not care, so it’s shocking to see proof that it is possible and that they don’t care. Wrapping your head around that takes time and distance. I imagine therapy can help with it as well.

      It’s so bizarre to me that the FW didn’t fight for me, given how much he used to claim he loved me. Maybe he thought he did, or maybe he was lying all along, but it doesn’t matter which one it is because he doesn’t love me and will never be anywhere close to good enough for me. He mindfucked me by pretending to try. He actually did a lot things to make amends but not the things that were most important to me, that were crucial for me to feel better, so I saw through it. It was just image management.
      It’s hard to let go of. I still struggle with the cognitive dissonance. To me that kind of behavior is not even human, so I just have to accept that aliens walk amongst us.

    • Lost,
      I 100% understand. I am at 1 year post a very unexpected Dday. I had my first good days last week and by good I mean less shitty. My heart and prayers go out to you.

    • “…the love of my life, father of my child, someone I was genuinely happy with…” Same here, Lost. I am three-and-a-half years out from the most excruciating discovery my life (husband’s two year affair with a friend of mine) and – after about three years of us trying to reconcile our marriage – I abdicated. One could argue that my soon-to-be-ex did all the right things to heal our partnership, but…you can’t go back. Even if he were to up his game in all the ways going forward, there will always be those two solid years of deception (that I know of). Every single second of two years. You cannot go back.

      I know what you mean, too, when you say it “hurts that I didn’t know [that my partner lacked empathy] for 17 years”. Again, same. Was married for two decades to the proverbial good guy. Everyone adored him. Everyone. He was good in so many ways – with my parents, with our babies, in our community. How did I misjudge his character so terribly? Maybe he had empathy once, when he was young. Maybe he never did. I don’t understand it, and probably never will. I feel for you.

      • Just over 3 years out from D Day and I still wrestle with the confusion, pain and absolute bewilderment of how my “mirage” came to an end. I have a harder time recalling good times – they are crowded out by the stuff I saw at discovery. I don’t know how I could ever fully trust someone ever again.

  • My goal for my post-divorce / coparenting relationship with my XW is to achieve the same level of respect and politeness I’d have with a grocery-store bagger. We’re not there yet, but things have improved (mainly, IMO, because I’ve succeeded in throttling communication to minimum quantity (only about the kids), and least-likely-to-escalate quality (the slower the turnaround the better: email is better than texting is better than face to face).

    I’ve told my kids that it’s not OK to treat people you love worse than you treat acquaintances. You wouldn’t think this would be a controversial observation, but XW’s position (which I only know because she tells this to the kids) is that the fact that she and AP have screaming “smash the plates against the wall” fights is proof that they really love each other. Drama ≠ love, kids!

    I realize that my response is to CL’s analogy rather than the actual letter, but I am just so, so grateful to be past the “I crave contact with the person who has treated me the worst in my entire life” stage of the process. It is a process. It takes time. You will get there. You will make mistakes along the way, and that’s OK: learn from them (“It turns out that texting my ex at 3 AM did not, in fact, produce the closure that I crave”) and do better tomorrow. Eventually the desire will pass.

    • “I am just so, so grateful to be past the “I crave contact with the person who has treated me the worst in my entire life” stage”

      Oh, me too. So grateful.

    • “I crave contact with the person who has treated me the worst in my entire life” stage of the process. It is a process. It takes time. You will get there. You will make mistakes along the way, and that’s OK: learn from them (“It turns out that texting my ex at 3 AM did not, in fact, produce the closure that I crave”) and do better tomorrow. Eventually the desire will pass.“
      Wow! You nailed it. I.G.
      Thanks for this, I used to say:
      Why am I craving the poison that was killing me? Why am I opening the bottle and drinking it? – when ever I had reached out for that elusive closure, and was constantly disappointed.

  • Leaving a bad situation and feeling “good” about being out of that situation isn’t instant. It often takes time. Lots of time. Months. Years even.

    For myself, I chalk it up to the stupid addictive nature of love. I had loved my cheating, lying FW partner since high school. He was my first “everything.” I just wanted him in my life so badly that let things be acceptable when they were so clearly, clearly unacceptable. Taking him back for a reconciliation (which lasted long enough for him to get back on his feet and locate another mistress which he later married) was a big mistake on my part but I loved him so much and I wanted our family to be together. Even after he left for the last time to start feathering his nest with GF#3/Wifetress, I still missed him so much even though I knew I was better off (much, much better off!) without him.

    What helped was finding a safe place to dump my tears (anonymous internet chumps who can truly empathize) and time. Stupid, stupid, much-needed time. In the early days he could treat me horribly over the phone and, bizarrely, I would still kindof sortof wait anxiously for his next call. I hated existing like that. It’s a well used cliche that users treat those they have no use for like gum they find under their shoes and that’s exactly what it felt like.

    Love, for me, didn’t just disappear immediately. It took time. And everytime he was horrid to me, I felt myself slowly but surely falling out of love with him. I describe falling out of love as something that’s not unfortunate but is actively painful. It’s like feeling a deeply buried tumor is being dug out and cut out of your body. Each interaction with my FW (where he was only too happy to let me know how little he thought of me) was devastating and painful, but after each interaction I felt less and less of a magnetic pull towards him. I felt less love because, well, he was acting like a sociopath.

    Now, I don’t ever claim to be a smart person. I loved that lying, cheating jerk and I put up with a lot of interaction with him. I was on antidepressants for years. It took a long time to fall out of love with him and the process was painful. One day I finally, logically realized that any, ANY interaction with him caused me to suffer immensely and that I could do myself a great favor if I went no contact. Now, I say I’m not a “smart person” all tongue-in-cheek like because my fellow chumpy support group members had been telling me that for a long time but it only had real power when I realized it for myself. So, I went dark and only texted him about professional matters in a civil, polite, but curt business-like tone. I took a lot of pain from him up until this point and all those interactions (thankfully? I don’t know) had the result of whittling down my love and goodwill towards him until there was nothing left. The tumor was gone. It was painful to have it pulled out slowly over time, but I wasn’t in love with him anymore. Combine that painful near medical procedure with my willingness to finally and properly go NC and, no joke, my life started to get cartoonishly better. If I were to draw a graph, the arrows would start going immediately up the day after I decided, for myself, that NC was the only way. Every day without interaction with him is another day I feel even better. I look back and think “Holy moly, he was such an anchor. Why did I have my wagon hitched to him for so long? Like, why?!”

    And one day I took stock of where I was on my emotional journey and realized, with shock and relief, that I did not love him at all anymore. Not a bit. I don’t hate him but there is ZERO love there. And zero willingness or want for interaction or communication with him. Life has only gotten better since. It only really goes on a downside if I’m forced to interact with him (I feel like crap for a few days afterwards; he really is an anchor) for any reason but those moments are thankfully few and far between.

    No advice here, just my story. I took too long to unattach myself from FW and the related love/communication issues I had with him, but I can report that falling out of love/communication-addiction with a cheater is doable and I celebrate anyone who does it no matter what your timeline is. Your ships are going places; block and release those FW anchors.

    • Beautifully well-told story, Fourleaf. Very helpful to others starting out. The timeline takes just that…time.

    • FourLeaf: I’ve never heard the term “communication addiction”
      But it jumped out at me.
      I had that! Still do to be honest, sometimes the urge to call him is so strong, I see now – that’s exactly what it’s like – an addiction. I sure don’t understand it, but I’ll add it to my long list of things I will never understand about my toxic attachment to XH.

      • Maybe you can find a “communication addiction sponsor” similar to an AA sponsor…someone you can call anytime you’re feeling the urge to contact your XH.

    • ““Holy moly, he was such an anchor. Why did I have my wagon hitched to him for so long? Like, why?!””

      That one is so hard to come to terms with. I mean I knew my fw had not wanted me to take a couple promotions in my early years of full time work. I went along, because he was still playing the faithful husband. I spackled (though I didn’t know the term then).

      After the year of discard, I began to remember the times he put what he wanted ahead of what was good for me or even our son. Each situation on its own, not a huge deal but as the years flooded back, wow he was selfish.

      I remarried after years of courtship and my husband never not once interfered with my job/promotions etc. He cheered me on. Not once did he complain that I was not enough of a spit hiner house keeper. We hired a house cleaner for the years I was working. He still helps me with certain chores; as I help him with certain chores.

      How could I have not noticed how selfish fw was. Or more to the point how could I have spackled so much for him. No it was not FOO issues, my parents were not perfect but they and my brothers treated me well and they were decent folks.

      No it wasn’t because we married too young. Lots of folks married young in those days, and managed to be decent folks.

      • When you figure that one out Susie Lee please let us know. I have asked a similar question for well over 15 years. I, too, am happily remarried to grownup who acts like an actual partner and I wonder why I tolerated what I did? I also cannot blame FOO or getting married too young. A therapist helpfully suggested it may be that my kids kept me anchored – some truth to that but not the answer. I recognize the issue in myself and can act with confidence in my own best interest but, still, I wonder where the willingness to tolerate abuse came from?

        • I go back to the “frog in water” theory. We were the frog. We didn’t feel the heat gradually increase in the water around us – we didn’t overtly see the abuse until later reflection. We can’t blame ourselves for that.

    • I could almost have written this word for word. I didn’t start dating FW til I was 25, but he was my first everything too. He was my soulmate. The ONE.

      LOL.

      It was a painful, years long process to stop loving him. To stop wanting to talk to him. But I did. My life also improved exponentially after I went low contact (just business contact about the house and the kid, and often through lawyers). I hadn’t realized how much he had held me back until I didn’t have him draining my energy, time, and resources.

      Then he came back around looking for sympathy because OW ran out on him. He was crying on the phone (I answered because we have a kid). And I felt NOTHING. I very analytically said to myself “he’s trying to manipulate me”. He killed himself a few weeks later. He had run out of money, and because he tended to burn bridges (including with me), he had run out of options and was all alone.

      I did cry, mostly because my kid shouldn’t have to be dealing with all that at 9 years old. But people would ask me how I was holding up or how I was doing, and I had to not make the faux pas of telling them I was doing great. That it was a huge relief to know he’d never again threaten or abuse me, that I didn’t have to worry about my child, that my divorce (which was pushing 4 years at that point and had cost me $50,000 and we hadn’t even gone to court yet) was over and done with, that I no longer had to have panic attacks when my phone rang or when I checked my email. No one would understand. After the shock, and the general sadness that I wished it could have turned out differently, and dealing with the myriad administrative things he left behind, I felt more at peace than I had in ten years. I felt like I could breathe. And maybe that makes me a terrible person. But it’s the truth.

  • I would love to hear from Imustenjoythis now. That was only 5 months out. There were still anxiety attacks. I remember the first 6 months to a year after FW left. I was riding the grief train. I literally had to ride it out… and go to my mom’s to sit next to her so I wouldn’t do something stupid. So much of it is just the trauma and grief and general addiction we have to break.

  • This conversation is what I’ve needed. My denial has been a warm cozy blanket of numb. Ugh, it’s hard to rip it off and walk forward, but there’s no other way than to accept and keep going. I could respond to everyone’s posts.

    The fact that my reality is not his is demonstrated by the way we both went about separation, which was me fleeing in the night to protect myself against his threats. Even that night…he said later I was having a panic attack. I called it domestic violence – taking my things, telling me to leave, saying he owned me…getting in my face, reading my journal, calling me names. It is insane and disturbing how conditioned I was to accept this treatment as “normal.”

    After I left, he found about 15 women to date and sleep with. I immersed myself in books and long walks to figure out how to get through the day. He called his women “having coffee.” Thank God, I’m finally at the place where I can look at this and deal with our skewed realities. It is not pretty, but at least this is one thing I can control. No, we are not living the same reality. We never did. Painful. Trust he sucks. Thanks CN.

    • Glad things are better now.

      I think that blanket of numb is needed for most of us in the very beginning. But, hopefully not for too long, before it starts to get to heavy to carry. Then we can start to break free of the lies and manipulation.

  • It’s a big step when you realize that the fighting and bickering in your relationship doesn’t indicate and/or measure any actual love or caring or valuing anymore. There’s an addictive quality in that it makes you think they care. They don’t. It’s just part of their crazy blame game. Like, him gone when you’re leaving then blaming you for not saying goodbye because you ‘don’t care’ or some such nonsense. It wasn’t until he was gone that true peace and quiet entered my life. It was much easier to work on myself when I didn’t have that nonsense distracting me from the truth of my day. It’s a big step to realize all you two had left energy-wise was fighting. It sparked frissons of energy that mimicked life but was just a dying muscle’s memory of action. Once all that mental chaos fades, it’s like you can breath again. The oxygen gets into your brain and your thoughts get clear. This type of freedom is only days away so don’t give up.

  • Writer asked, “What do I do about me assigning him emotions because it’s how I feel?”
    Yeah, that’s the line that got me too!!
    It’s been 4 years from my own divorce and I still find myself thinking he must feel just awful, just sick for how badly he treated me. He must really miss our family as a unit. How could he not?!
    He just won’t admit it to himself. It all must just haunt him all the time, all day long, the destruction and pain he caused ppl that loved him so dearly!
    But it’s like me trying to give emotions to an inanimate object, he’s replaced his family without any guilt and living his best life. Just retired for the second time this week with his long term mistress turned wife of the last two years. Off to their new beach house, just living the dream of dreams with no consequences in a perfectly clear blue sky.
    How the hell fair is that?! It’s so messed up, it’s hard to deal with or understand it.
    I’m am not the same person I was, life cannot just reset for me without a lobotomy. The memories and recall triggers of what I loved and no longer have in my life I experience every single day. It haunts me.
    How can he completely be unaffected by all that?!
    Practically every memory I own in my mind includes him.
    I think it makes the situation more bearable for me on some odd level, if I get to imagine he deeply hurts from hurting us.
    Like a dose of karma that he just is unable to shake free of. I would like to think he hurts.
    Realizing he doesn’t care AT ALL after decades together invalidates my reality of what I imagined my entire life even was and makes me question every possible thing on this earth.
    Maybe nothing was ever real? Maybe I just imagined someone loved me?
    It’s like living a Twilight Zone episode that’s on repeat for eternity. It’s very debilitating.
    Why should I be hurt so much and he gets the new and improved life?
    That’s so f’ed up!
    In other words, I’m literally no help whatsoever to this question writer, because moving on is still a daily struggle I frustratingly still battle with myself.
    I would add a crumb of advice I do believe to be essential to ever getting anywhere with this, you absolutely DO need to block him and go full NC. It’s really hard but important.
    It’s still going to be a long hard climb out of a deep dark ditch from that point forward as you see from other’s experiences,but there’s no way to get out of hell without walking through it to the other side.
    I do, on a positive note, get a little hint of a voice in my head that gently whispers to me every now and again “ you got your life back, it’s yours to live now, he can’t hurt you anymore”, and I sigh with this involuntary sense of internal peace my body knows is true but my mind still needs some catching up to do.
    We all don’t need these toxic ppl in our precious lives to wreak havoc forever more. It will never get any better with them, we just need to let them go.
    I do believe there’s a better ‘there’ than the ‘here’ we spent too much time fantasizing about.
    It’s a viable safe and real destination, free of toxic abusers.
    We all deserve to dwell there peacefully.

    • I can so relate. I was with my FW for 33 years, 29 years married. More than half my life, almost my entire adult life. So many of my memories are wrapped around him. Memories I thought were happy, which are now tainted because now I know they happened while he was living a double life. Still, even after three years I think back on some of those supposed good times and wonder if he ever thinks about them too. If he feels any shame and regret and if he misses me? I wonder how much he could have in common with his sex worker wife who barely speaks our language. Then I remind myself that if he misses anything at all about me and our marriage, it would be the cake eating. And I force myself to remember what he told me when he came to the house to get the rest of his stuff. Sobbing, I asked him how he could do this to us, and didn’t he miss me? He looked me straight in the face with his dead, shark eyes and told me he missed the dog. Me? Not so much.

      It’s a tough pill to swallow. That I gave so much of myself, my life, my heart and soul to someone who valued it so little. And why I allowed it for so long, with hindsight being 20/20. So many red flags ignored and poor treatment of me spackled. It’s really made me take a hard look at myself to try to figure out why I allowed it for so long. I think a big part of it is FOO issues. I didn’t feel I deserved any better. It’s been a bit of a revelation to realize and accept that.

      I’m not yet ready to date or try to find another relationship, although I hope to someday. I really believe I have the knowledge and wisdom now to pick better next time. But being alone is infinitely better than living with and being abused by a fuckwit. So, I know I’ll be fine either way. We will all be fine and are much better off. Even if we do miss the so-called “good times”.

    • “I still find myself thinking he must feel just awful, just sick for how badly he treated me. He must really miss our family as a unit. How could he not?!”
      They just don’t…he is only thinking about his present life. I know it’s hard to comprehend but these people are beyond selfish and self serving. Oh and when these defects do come (crawl) back with regret, tears, etc. it’s only because the present life went kaput and they are feeling sorry for themselves.

      • “Oh and when these defects do come (crawl) back with regret, tears, etc. it’s only because the present life went kaput and they are feeling sorry for themselves.”

        Truth.

    • I so relate to everything you say. So hard to wade through the everyday trauma of the person you loved most, who made you feel like your best self, being the enemy. It is poison, what they do. Life force does reassert itself but, without youth on your side, it is hard to feel that irrepressible I will prevail vibe. I am slowly claiming back my sense of vibrancy and self. Art, integrity, solitude, these all help. Toxic men are not the answer. This time I will wait for an equal.

    • After 35 years of marriage then divorce, I understand completely what you are going through. I feel exactly what your saying and my heart goes out to you. It’s been 6 years since he left and it’s still an uphill climb of my emotions. He is with the second OW living happily and content, never being alone. My life is the complete opposite. But I’m praying that I’ll find peace eventually and stop my memories that hurt.
      Bless you

  • Google BF Skinner. Intermittent reward is the most powerful form of conditioning.

    I don’t have lots of “positive” experiences and memories with an abusive out of bounds stranger to confuse me if they assault or violate me. No history of getting a piece of cheese when I ring the bell to obfuscate reality.

    In my experience, time, distance, and ABSOLUTE MINIMAL CONTACT (I can’t do NO CONTACT because I have a child and co-own a business with Traitor X) have been essential for reality to shine through and sink in. Especially TIME.

    I just passed the four-year mark and I can’t even remember who I thought he was. I do not feel the agonizing ache of responsibility or believe that I caused his actions. There is nothing but a gag reflex and instinctive recoil, which is the accurate and appropriate response to who he really is.

    I wrote a story about who I wanted him to be and sold it to myself on a daily basis for 27 years. It only follows that it takes time for me to see him otherwise. My brains needed serious washing to get those stubborn stains out! It has taken quite a few wash cycles for me to internalize reality.

    You can’t read the writing on the wall with your nose pressed up against it. You have to get far away and have lots of patience until your eyes and mind and heart adjust.

    WRITING the truth, reading it out loud, helped with the deprogramming. I have a great therapist, whom I am lucky to be able to afford as often as I see her. She was our family therapist and thank goodness! She is the living breathing congressional record who repudiates his ongoing efforts to rewrite history and can instantly snatch me out of the fog when it rolls in.

    And beware when you are TIRED and LONELY, trauma-fatigued. It can trigger an episode of blaming yourself and normalizing them. It happens to me still at the end of the day or in the middle of the night.

    Tracy’s analogy is spot-on and essential to remember for keeping the proper perspective!

    • Ditto, VH. Behaviors on or around D-day exist on a spectrum. If your Cheater shows you they’re a sprayed cockroach through actions, you’ll be treading water for awhile getting out. If your Cheater shows you they’re just squirrely and stupid, a swim to the shore will be easier. If, during this time, you can obtain a psych test, vocational aptitude test, or any professional opinion to substantiate your claims (legally ordered by court, often during divorce process), this can be the holy grail toward fully ending all contact. Once you obtain legal opinion of disordered thinking, actions and/or potential to cause harm to self or others, you can consider restraining order, trespass warning, or other protective measures. These will place the Chump in control with protection and greatly diminish further contact with you and/or children.

    • Velvet,

      I got a puppy a few months after the first D-day and threw myself into training. One of the popular techniques is, of course, intermittent reinforcement. In my heart of hearts it felt wrong to me, but I couldn’t put my finger on why.

      During this period I was desperately trying everything possible to reconcile, to hold on to 35+ years of sunk costs. My entire identity and sense of worth was in my relationship with FW. Like someone said above, I had almost no memories that did not include him. I was, as they say, trauma bonded.

      It was only after found CL and CN and a good therapist that I learned that intermittent reinforcement is a tactic of manipulation and abuse! 💡

      I so clearly remember the session where my therapist entreated me to go NC, her eyes blazing through the computer screen (pandemic telehealth), saying “He’s toxic for you!”

      It’s funny that it was working with my dog, though, that made the concept real for me. During the divorce, which coincided with pandemic lockdown, my dog developed serious anxiety. Obviously she was absorbing all my grief and fear, and she developed a serious reactivity that only added a new level of stress to my life.

      In my desperate search for professional assistance to help my dog with her debilitating anxiety, it occurred to me that using intermittent reinforcement as a training technique is a not benign practice, and it is not ok!

      In our new life, in a new city, in a different home, my relationship with my dog, and my care for and support of, her needs, is rooted in my trauma-informed understanding. I’m no longer even comfortable with the idea of “training,” because I now realize how much of the concept is founded in manipulation and control.

      My new approach is based in learning everything I can about canine body language so that I can understand her feelings, rather than foisting upon her a demand for compliance. After 4 decades of a coercive marriage relationship, I’m learning about consent, and doing my level best to ensure that, for example, I’m not forcing her to receive petting she doesn’t want, and that when she does want physical contact that it’s on parts of her body that feel good to her, not what I think she would like. I’m helping her cope with her anxiety by labeling her fears and then creating space so that, instead of suppressing her big feelings, she can learn to manage them, so that her amygdala and prefrontal cortex will slowly, but surely, build new connections based in security and trust.

      There are so many parallels between human and animal trauma. It’s ironic that at a time in my life when I’ve often felt like I’m the least equipped to have to deal with ONE MORE THING, that it’s actually helping my dog that is healing me too.

    • …..and that’s not even considering coping mechanisms which tranquilize and anesthetize, which worked to keep my anger tamped down and me in the relationship. Alcohol, drugs, cigarettes are the obvious ones and they are very effective at killing feelings. I had been free of those things for about five years when I met Traitor X. Since we parted, I have been on my own, not dating, continuing my own therapy, and despite being clean, sober, and nicotine free for decades, I have been realizing the very clever ways I unconsciously found to stuff my feelings to stay in there. (My eating, my spending….anyone relate?…..)

      • I can relate. I spent on clothes. Most of that was because I had bad memories associated with the old stuff, or it no longer fit, or was too young for me, but I was also using it to buy into a fantasy that if I look different, I’ll feel different and not be so sad. That I’d have a new life to go with the new wardrobe.
        At first I bought date clothes, in that hope that it would spur me to start dating. I did date briefly, but I realized I had no genuine desire to be with anybody. So the dating itself was just a coping mechanism.
        I think that as long as you’re aware of why you’re doing these things and you understand that it isn’t healthy, you can control the urges.

  • You know, this is a “thing,” Ever hear of Linda Pugach? Back in the 1950s in NYC, she had a crazy boyfriend who hired three guys to throw lye in her eyes, which partially blinded her. And then… she married the boyfriend after he did 14 years in prison. They stayed married till she died of old age. (Sounds like a it was a crappy marriage.) There’s a documentary about it called “Crazy Love.” Another example: In his biographical book “Hillbilly Elegy” JD Vance wrote about how his grandfather passed out drunk on the couch one night, so his grandma poured gasoline on the couch and set it on fire. They patched things up and stayed together.

  • When I was in that awful phase of missing the asshole, I made a list in my journal of all the BAD things in our 20-year relationship. It was a long list. There’s something that happens in your brain when you actually write these things out in your own hand that helps the truth sink in. And I would read over the list every time I started missing him and it would remind me that the person I thought I was in love with didn’t exist – he was an abusive asshole.

    • I wrote down every name he ever called me, every insult he threw at me. It was a LONG list. And it was horrifying to see it in black and white.

      Any time I felt sentimental about the past, I could pull that out and read it and know that that was the last person I wanted to be with.

  • “…I know exactly what he is, but won’t let myself accept that I wasn’t an exception to him.”
    Terminal uniqueness – it’s not just for 12-steppers.
    My idea of myself as unique and special – so unique and special that I was convinced of my ability to build a functioning relationship with a lying, cheating, parasitic sociopath – kept me mired in misery for too long.
    The first time I caught him cheating, I broke up with him. For two days. Then I proposed an open relationship, mistakenly assuming that his payoff was sex with different partners. He promptly set out to violate every single boundary we had jointly established. Because like all cluster B’s, his true payoff is deceit and power.
    Years later, I finally dumped him for good. He skulked off to his hometown and moved in with mommy. I sustained No Contact for a few weeks. Then I reached out. Because star-crossed lovers. Because My Person. Because trauma bonded and terminally unique.
    Somehow I remained convinced that I could both stay in contact with the fw and gain a brand new life.
    And I succeeded – sort of. But it was harder, and it took longer.
    Along the way, I was able to disabuse myself of the notion that I was the exception in the Lying Cheating Loser’s life. That I was his Great Love. That I was different from, and superior to, all of his myriad OWs.
    I was just another chump. Who then became just another volunteer, locked in a humiliating dance of Pick Me, with just another lying, cheating loser.
    It’s been four years since I dumped the LCL. I’ve been NC for around 6 months.
    I can’t count how many breakups it took for one to finally stick. But one finally stuck, and that’s what matters.
    I can’t count how many NC attempts I made before one finally stuck, but one did, and that’s what matters.
    I’m at (my version of) meh. I don’t forgive the LCL. I don’t wish him well. Some days, I still actively wish him ill. His life is the typical fw dumpster fire, raging more and more out of control as the years go by. As it is with fuckwits.
    It’s the same old boring story, and I don’t let it distract me from my important work of untangling my own skein and rocking my fw-free life.

    • ” His life is the typical fw dumpster fire, raging more and more out of control as the years go by. As it is with fuckwits.”

      Yep, as I am convinced it is with most of them; whether we see it or not. Barring that character transplant, they are who they are, no matter what lies and image they try to pull off.

    • I believed that we were soul mates. That it was destiny. That he was my person. We were “meant to be”. We were perfect. The stars had aligned for us. THIS was true love. This was what everyone else aspired to and never reached…

      For me, watching him woo OW by doing all the same things he did with me and going all the same places shattered any illusions I may have had that I was “special” to him. He basically replayed our relationship with someone else in my role. I also watched OW transform into another me (me at the beginning of my relationship with FW) – clothes, hair, hobbies, etc. and realized that it wasn’t me who had chosen a lot of that stuff freely, it was that FW had manipulated me into being what he wanted. He was very subtle about it and say things like “Your hair would look really good in pigtails. Pigtails are so hot.” So I would try pigtails and he’d flatter me and treat me amazing, and so guess who wore pigtails more often after that? Ignoring the fact that I HATE pigtails. (Guess who else started wearing pigtails? Yup. OW.) Or he’d compliment other women in front of me (“See that waitress? I like her choker. Girls in chokers are so hot.) Eventually, *I* was the woman he complimented in front of *her* (OW). He’d tell me my short skirt was cute, or my butt looked good in those jeans, and wouldn’t you know if OW didn’t show up in that very thing the next time I saw her. It was VERY eye opening. (This continued to happen after we split because unfortunately we were all coworkers.) He took her to our first date restaurant where we went every year on our anniversary. He took her to our favorite pub we’d been going to for 15 years where everyone knew us by name and played with our kid (and we knew most of the staff, and the owner, on a first name basis), which was humiliating to find out. (I’ve worked in enough restaurants to know that the staff knows when someone is cheating on their wife because we’ve waited on his whole family and we -know- that woman ain’t his wife.) Literally nothing was sacred. Everything I thought was “ours” was just his MO when romancing a new woman. The stuff he did with me he had probably done with his ex gf before me. I’d put money on some of it being stuff SHE introduced him to. He certainly learned from me and applied it to my replacement.

      OW thought SHE was special. Their love was unique. THEY just had to triumph over all the impediments in their way (including me, the wife). It wasn’t wrong because it was TWU WUV.

      She wised up eventually, and realized he was abusive and scary, and left him. By that time I had no love left for him and wanted nothing to do with him. His life indeed became a dumpster fire. OW left suddenly and he had had no time to find a replacement. He ended up taking his own life rather than ever admit he was in the wrong and try to fix things.

      My life has been on a steep upward trajectory ever since I went no contact. I’m loving my new life.

  • When I read posts like this I think about a pithy quote from Chump Lady. I may not have it exactly right, but it is something like this, “You cannot fight the patriarchy while you are sucking it’s dick.” Stop making excuses for his bad behavior. Stop blaming yourself for his actions. Concentrate on changing the parts of yourself that you need to change. You deserve to be happy. Figure out what you need to do to make yourself happy, all by yourself.

  • I’ve been wondering about oxytocin – the love hormone. I learned that the sudden loss of it is like withdrawal from a drug.

    It is strange that the progress of healing and finding new (platonic) sources of oxytocin can sometimes be a trigger. If I have a wonderful afternoon with family or friends, part of my brain thinks “Oh, what a relief. He must be back now – it was all a bad dream”.

  • I think these feeling are natural. Five months seems like early days to me. I was not doing tat well at five months after my DDay#2. I had decided on divorce at that point, had engaged a lawyer but the FW was still around way too much to allow any healing. It was not a good time at all. Now the divorce is moving along and I have everything go through attorneys so No Contact is easier. I also came to the realization that there will be no closure, no discussions and that the marriage was as Velvet Hammer so wonderfully terms it a “mirage”.
    I am now focused on living my life, working, keeping in touch with my adult son (who is NC with the FW), keeping the divorce on track and working on my home. Keeping busy with friends and work etc. has taken the place of thoughts of FW. I realize now that I am in a much better place and am no longer abused or regarded as an appliance. Schmoopie got herself a true prize.

  • Ex husband called me the c word. I stayed for another year or two until I found out about the infidelity and he eventually turned to physical violence. I wish younger me had been better educated on relationship red flags.

  • Yes.

    FW didn’t call me names like that, but he would get frustrated and say things like “if you put your brain in a gnats ass it would rattle”. He would of course play it off as a joke, but it was a red flag. Another favorite of his was “you could fuck up a wet dream”.

    He never said these things in front of anyone else and he always kind of apologized, but yeah; red flags.

    I can’t even imagine those words coming out of my now husbands mouth, it isn’t even in him.

    And by the way I never hurled insults back at the fw. I usually just walked away.

  • It is hard to push past the cognitive dissonance that a FW’s betrayal entails. I recognize now, my FW has no sense of personal identity, so the assurance of shared values and interests that existed at the beginning of our relationship and marriage were just him mirroring me. And as he began to move into different circles of people who did not value marriage or shared responsibility in family life via social media and volunteer work, and started spending time with his AP who has been through two contentious divorces of her own, he projected this new mentality on our relationship—a mentality that his needs are dire, immediate, and trump all. I have spent hours, sobbing through boxes of Kleenex, wondering how he could just blithely walk away from 18 years of marriage and 21 years of relationship. Nothing but time and NC have allowed me to fully understand I will never get satisfactory answers I want from him because we don’t actually share values. He left because he doesn’t value marriage like I do. He did not see marriage as a partnership because he brought in a bigger paycheck. He did not want to be my helpmate with our children because women should cover the kids’ needs. He doesn’t apologize because he is not sorry for anything. He doesn’t communicate with me because he doesn’t think about me. He doesn’t respect me so I am not worthy of his time or his truth. BUT I know who I am. I know what my values are. And I always have…I just got lost in believing his stories that I was the problem in our relationship. I am now coming to the full realization of my worth. Almost 3 years out from D-day and 8 months from divorce and my heart continues to unfurl to its full and glorious beautiful self. Keep going, chumps. You’ve got this.

    • This completely applies to me, too, CMC…I began realizing later in our marriage that my ex had no personal identity. He tried multiple hobbies (biking, golfing, repairing an antique car, woodworking, boating, skiing, hockey…the list goes on and on). Each of these hobbies required purchasing all the necessary equipment $$$ but his interest in each quickly waned. Nothing stuck. Other than sitting in his recliner watching football or baseball and eating chicken wings, he had no personal interests. (And, he blamed ME for him gaining weight.) Maybe online porn and video games can be considered a hobby? I consider it pathetic.

      And as ISawtheLight said earlier, my ex, too, just shared the same experiences he had with me with his new half-as-young girlfriend (now wife). Same trips, same places. Nothing new. They are a one-trick-pony.

      It really helped reading that someone else shared and understands the experience of being with a person with no personal identity. I don’t think they gain an identity with the new person, either. Mine now wears clothes he would NEVER have worn before, shaved his head, and got botox. That’s not him. But she did get him to lose weight – something he never considered doing for me.

  • I like this column because it gives meaning to a phrase I have heard a thousand times, “Know your worth!”

    I don’t know why, but for years that phrase was not very meaningful to me. I’d think, “I know I am a good mother,” or “I know I am a really valuable and reliable employee.” In short, I thought of my worth as what I was able to offer, and being told to “know” these things didn’t seem particularly helpful. At some point, I realized the phrase reminds us to think about what we are due rather than what we offer–due not because of skills or talent or dedication, but due as a human being.

  • One thing I found helpful is to write down the things he said when discarding me. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “I have never loved you.” The problem is that I didn’t want to believe that. I would make all kinds of excuses about how it Wasn’t Really Him, and He Didn’t Mean It. But you know, that’s not respecting him as a person. I had to accept that he was his own person with his own feelings and choices, and he was expressing what he actually knew to be true. And then I had to act accordingly. That was the tipping point for me. When he said he never loved me, it was because he never loved me. And I know now that was because he was incapable of loving anyone but himself, but it was still true. I could not make him love me. That stuck with me and made me stronger. Whenever I waivered and thought about calling him, I remembered the cold, dead eyes staring at me as he said to the mother of his three children, “I never loved you.”

  • Today’s post was great and I appreciate everyone sharing their experiences and wisdom.
    My question to everyone is what do you do when your FW did everything perfect, and only after the fact you realize what was going on. How do you reframe your image of the relationship when FW was always supportive, outwardly kind, outwardly loving and met all of your emotional needs and physical needs up until when Dday happens and then she just shuts you out.
    I have gone no contact but it is very tough when the abuse was silent and there never was a cross word said or openly evil deed witnessed. I wish we had an openly bad marriage because it would be easier to understand.
    I am in a much better place now that I am at a year but it is tough thinking about what was and what wasn’t real

    • Dr Chump, the mindfuck of that must be terrible. You’re stuck wondering who on earth that person really was, was it all an act, etc. The only thing I can say is you just have to let go of trying to understand why she did what she did. It’s impossible and it keeps you stuck at the early post-Chumping stage where the cognitive dissonance is swirling around in your brain and driving you crazy. She’s obviously not normal if she can play super wife to you while fucking around. I think those ones who show no outward sign of their contempt for you while they humiliate you in secret are pretty scary people because it’s so machiavellian.
      Passive aggressive people in general are often quite conniving and not to be trusted. Just stay clear of them in future. You need somebody who will argue with you (sometimes, and for a good reason) because that means she is genuine in her feelings, there are things that matter to her, and she wants an authentic relationship.

      Give it more time. A year is not long enough to recover. I’ve heard it said that as a general rule you need a year of recovery for every five years you were with the FW. Lots of ❤ to you.

      • Thanks for these words, OHFFS. They ring oh-so-true, and they encouraged me. I had a partner who played super-hubs while fucking around. I loved him so much. He was a sweet man. Or so I thought. It’s been a complete and utter mindfuck.

        • I’m so sorry, Juniper. Yes, it’s so confusing. Mine was a fake “nice guy” cheater too. Everybody thought I was lucky to have him and my family was angry that I decided to leave him. I thought he was a good man going through a mid life crisis and I waited for him to get over it. But he was really a pervert and a covert narcissist with a mistress and a ravenous ego. It sucks. They played us, but never again. May the rest of your days be fake nice guy free.
          Big chump hugs!

          • “Everybody thought I was lucky to have him”…ugh…yep. And I, too, thought I had a good man going through some sort of mid-life crisis. Thanks for the hugs 🙂

            • This was what I thought in the year of discard. Oh, he got a lot of power and responsibility too fast, went astray etc. Nope, he had been a covert whoremonger for years, maybe our whole marriage but by his own admission ten years of a 20 year marriage.

              I am sure he had his cohorts in crime, but over all he fooled a lot of folks.

    • Acceptance of reality, of who they actually are, not who you thought they were or wanted them to be.
      The perfect spouse doesn’t cheat..
      Portraying yourself as the perfect spouse many times is used as the perfect cover for cheating.
      Chumps are less likely to question a perfect spouse.

      Acceptance that you’ve been conned.

    • I had a similar situation, DrChump. My STBX was supportive, kind, loving, all that. I really enjoyed being married to him. Until I discovered he had been sneaking around with my friend for two years. VERY hard to understand the about-face.

      • I was just reading what you previously posted and thought “Juniper had a similar situation” only FW never admitted anything and for first month had me believing she did nothing but wanted divorce because I made her unhappy. Most people still don’t believe she cheated because “she is too nice”. It just sucks.

    • Mine was the same DrChump, seemed to adore me for years. People commented on it, all the time

      Then it was literally like switching off a switch, his eyes held contempt and I got the standard FW’s list of my flaws. I got passive aggressive, cruel comments

      Of course, everything was all my fault

      I still get floored by very happy memories, I’m just over a year out but the vile way he has behaved through the separation and trying to reach a divorce and child care settlement is helping to harden my heart

      I still have days where I blame myself entirely but I think of his cruel behaviour on repeat. A nice person would not behave like that, even if they no longer loved you and repeat CL’s words, he had many choices available to him. Therapy, a conversation, a divorce

      I told him this, many times, before I went full on Grey Rock. He knows I’m not a possessive person and would never have forced him to stay. His narrative does not add up

      He still tries to paint himself as a noble hero who endured a miserable marriage for the sake of our child

      He says leaving was the brave thing to do and staying would have been the cowardly, easy thing

      Whatever nob face

      • Your FW sounds a lot like mine. I got fed the “I had to leave for the child’s sake” when the truth was he left for his mistress. I also got the “I only stayed with you out of obligation” because I had gotten sick and couldn’t work for awhile.

        I also offered him an easy out, when he first mentioned that he had feelings for OW (but lied and said he chose not to entertain them) and he asked what I would have done if “something had happened” between them (I now know that meant something HAD happened). I said I would walk away from the marriage. If he had truly just wanted OW all he had to do was say so and I would have filed the next day. Instead he lied, cried, and begged me to forgive him. And continued the affair, and continued lying to me, for almost four more years. Yet I was the horrible ex wife who wouldn’t give him a divorce and hung on so tightly.

        I blamed myself for years for how he treated me (both during and after the marriage), but in time I saw that it had nothing to do with me. I learned about narcissism and that really helped. He was actually very predictable, and knowing what his reaction was likely to be (to me saying “no” to some request of his, or to ignoring his emails/texts that had nothing to do with our child and so didn’t need a response from me even though he wanted one) made it easier to deal with when it came. I just let him have his little temper tantrum and talk a lot of mean words and let it roll off me. I learned not to take it personally, and to realize a lot of it was just hot air and I didn’t need to be afraid. My attorney helped me a lot with this.

        He cruelty and abuse reached new lows during the separation/divorce, even going so far as for him to falsely accuse me of child abuse in an attempt to take custody away from me (because the court was so far finding my allegations of domestic violence to be credible). By the time OW left him and he came crying back looking for sympathy, he had killed every feeling of love I’d had for him. He ended up taking his own life because the consequences of his actions started catching up with him and he felt like he had no options. He reached out to me as a last resort, I guess, but I had nothing for him. I wouldn’t give him money and I wouldn’t sympathize with him. I listened to him cry about how he was all alone and I felt absolutely nothing.

        I’ve gotten to the point where I am quite neutral about memories. My son will ask me to tell stories about me and daddy, or things daddy did with him, or how I found daddy’s body, and I find I can do so without any difficult emotions, even genuinely laugh at things that happened. No anger, no sadness, no sentimentality. It took time and therapy, but I got to meh. My PTSD is pretty much gone too (honestly, him dying help a lot as there is no longer an immanent threat of abuse or harm), and my life is wonderful. I’d had forgotten what happiness felt like. How wonderful it is to live without constant drama. How nice it is to be myself without anyone judging me. How lovely freedom and autonomy feel.

        There is an “other side”. It takes time and effort to make it through, but one day you look around and realize you haven’t spared FW a single thought all day. You realize you’re free.

    • Fuckface was exactly this…loving, thoughtful, seemed to adore me. Always told me how lucky he was to have me and how in love he was with me…this while living a double life doing horrendous (unprotected) deeds with randos for years. I will never understand it. It’s a complete and utter mindfuck…and evil.

  • 30+ years married, 1 year separated. I followed the CL steps. Appeared to be a great marriage to everyone. I even spackled enough that I believed it was- until one big red flag led me to become the marriage police. He has denied any wrongdoing from the start, says I destroyed our family, but he never fought for us. We have been NC except for a few business texts. When I went through the process I was so sure of my findings, my decisions, so strong- but now I miss him, my old life, my old home so much. I am full of anxiety and sadness. I keep putting off filing divorce, hoping he’ll come and save me- be the husband, make things right. I have my confidants, including professionals, that see things plainly and try to keep me reassured. They all say I have nothing to work with. However, I’m getting worse, not better. Thank you all for your stories of inspiration that things can get better.

  • ex used used to call me cunt, too, deep down, terribly u think u deserve it. which is crap. i do think u get u self worth from u parents. i didnt get any from mine. u need to build up u self worth uself.

  • I feel like we only miss what we thought was. Not what really is. Like for me I get upset over the way I was treated so badly when I didn’t deserve it. How people can be so cruel type of thing.

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