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Chump Epiphanies?

Hi Chump Lady,

I have been reading your blog since my breakup five years ago. It has helped me so much to get out of the fog of gaslighting and see reality. Along the way, there have been a lot of epiphanies, many of them coming from fellow chumps’ comments. I thought a fun Friday Challenge would be to list some of the ah-ha revelations from reading Chump Nation comments. Here are some of mine:

  • Words With Friends can be used as a messaging app. My ex never had an interest in games, so when he started religiously playing Words With Friends every night, it was odd. I didn’t think much about it, even though he would often giggle and say how amusing the woman he was playing against was. He claimed she was a stranger who he happened to play against every day.
  • Manscaping goes hand-in-hand with cheating. Suddenly shaving off body hair in the nether regions and being reluctant to show me was a huge red flag that I didn’t see.
  • Vaginal infections can be caused by cheating. From day one I had issues with infections after being intimate with him. I never had them previously and didn’t have them when he was away for long periods for work. My Ob-Gyn said that in some rare cases you can be allergic to your spouse so that must be the cause! I wish someone had clued me in to the more obvious explanation: he was a cheater.

Thank you, Chump Lady and Chump Nation! I appreciate all of the hard-won wisdom of this blog.

BuildingANewLife

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Dear BuildingANewLife,

Excellent challenge idea! And here we are.

Peer support is essential going through the shitshow of infidelity. One of the great benefits of archiving this site, is you can read through the bazillions of comments and go, “Wow. I am not alone. This cheater is not original.”

I’d open up the challenge too, beyond signs of cheating, to any other helpful nuggets you got from CN. I know some of you highlight things and keep entire notebooks.

I’m still learning too, and it’s one of the great joys of this supportive community — the collective wisdom.

So, CN, what did you learn from your fellow chumps?

TGIF!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Mine also giggled at Words with Friends!!!! I now after reading it suspect he was using it to cheat on me as he no longer is obsessed with it now we are divorced. The manscaping the same. For me I learned from the chumps was trust he sucks especially when he seems to be living the life. Also I used to pain shop a lot. I can say I don’t do it at all because my life and peace are utterly fascinating!! Lastly, he never enjoyed our kids, I am able to relish these relationships and see their good on the daily.

    • It was here that I found out people even use Pinterest for cheating, through the messaging. 🙄 So it does double duty- they can cheat-chat and send each other schmaltzy memes about honesty, integrity and spiritual growth.

      • I did not even know there was messaging on Pinterest. Oh my gosh. I remember my boyfriend asking me if I had a tumblr and I was like, “what? for like crafts and recipes and stuff? I prefer Pinterest.” I had no idea people used those for porn and “hooking up.” I thought they were just for moms and old ladies. Ah, so many things I wish I didn’t know now. I had no clue back then. I must have been so easy to cheat on.

    • My wife used Words with Friends for a couple of years. It was constant. This was not at all the only red flags at the time, but the point was I knew some men were being sexual towards her when she played. She would dismiss it. I wanted to trust her of course. Fast forward some years, she stopped playing – and I decided to pick it up. She got really weird. Keep asking me about it, who I was playing with, making innuendoes about it being a bunch of women… it was clear to me it bothered her that I was even on that app.

  • My ex started taking viagra he ordered from the internet, even though he had never had any issues or diagnosis of ED before. He also started a bunch of “supplements” he ordered from Hims.com, and other weird stuff like a penis extender and a penis pump

  • What a great challenge! Happy Friday CL!!!

    1) Trauma Bonds – I kept repeating the pattern of getting attached to the same kind of toxic people and couldn’t understand why I kept falling in that trap until one of our amazing chumps reached out to me and suggested I look into it. It changed my life!!!! I grew up in a narcissistic family and was absolutely desensitized to abuse and toxic behavior. Therefore, I cut every toxic person out of my life (friend, family, romantic, career, and church) and slowly accepted new safe relationships into my world and set major boundaries with the toxic. I’m 4 yrs narc free and so thankful! I have a better relationships now with boundaries….even with my ex and my dad/step mother (all psychologist certified narcs).

    2) Vaginal Irritation, UTI’s, gaslighting, walking on eggshells, crazy making, and the borage of other things go hand and hand with cheaters.

    3) Communication and Healing technics that ultimately helped me get to my Tuesday (years after) and build confidence that lead me fully taking back my life! I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been before!

    • FYI – I have been divorced now 9 years but continued to choose narcissist connections (especially romantic). 1 almost cost me my life! Figuring out I was doing that because of trauma bonding was a game changer and I could get the help I needed to stop repeating the patterns. Hope that helps encourage others to do the same!

      • Get Patrick Carnes book Betrayal Bond. Then read all the Pema Chodrun work on pain as the doorway. learn about Internal family systems and the exile. I found that EDMR also helped.

  • Yes, I second what’s been said here about the red flags and how unoriginal they are. My greatest epiphany was realizing many times over that my instincts were right. That gut feeling. My body was trying to tell me something my conscious mind did not want to accept, even to the extreme of vomiting every morning after waking up next to him.

    • Vomiting every morning. My god.

      Ah, our subconscious knows what’s up. This is one thing I’ve learned on this site.

      One time, in a half-sleep state, I blurted out: “Do you know how hard it is to be married to you?” At the time, I thought I had a decent marriage. 🤦🏻‍♀️ #spackle

      So when I snapped at him, even I was shocked. I didn’t know where it came from. #subconcioustakesabow

    • Listening to your gut is so important! I think women are socialized, to a detrimental extent, to be “nice” and make excuses for poor behavior… oh, little Timmy pulled your hair? Oh he’s just doing that because he likes you!… what in the ever-loving F? Why are we gaslighting 8 year olds?

      Anyways, paying attention to my gut now, and think it’s doing a good job of starting me from the wrong people.

      • My brother was the Chump. He stayed sick almost the entire marriage. Once she left he got well and stayed that way through a second, happy marriage. He even had more kids. An old disease that had been nearly forgotten came back and got him. Until then he was so happy.

        I advise anyone on here looking for advice to read THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE about the damage trauma does.

        • That scares me the most. I have been abused since birth via the narc family and the narc husband. I am 55. The trauma is going to get me eventually. It worries me a ton

          • Bring it to mind WHILE doing something uncomfortably physical like sprinting or lifting a heavy weight and your inner reptile with think you’re fighting the monster and surviving. This helps get fear and trauma out of the body .

            • That is so interesting. I’ve always used exercise, mostly weight lifting, to deal with emotional pain. And I’ve always sworn that it really helps. I started doing that at 8 years old, channeling my pain and rage into workouts. I never thought of why it helped though, I really like the way you described it as fighting the monster and surviving. That makes sense. Thank you for sharing that.

            • I started sleeping normally and feeling grounded in my body immediately after I joined a women’s shooting club. Years of therapy before that had helped, but the hyper vigilance was still an ever-present factor. I didn’t even enjoy the club much, but something about it seemed to reassure my subconscious that – while I did live in a dangerous world- I had the capacity to be dangerous back.

              Years later, I read “The Body Keeps the Score” and it all made perfect sense.

          • Me too, IC. Abused since birth including a 30 year marriage. I am also 55 and have suffered health issues as long as I can remember. Have had IBS since childhood that I’m sure was caused by anxiety and stress. Also suffered with hyperhydrosis from preteen age which was very distressing and embarrassing throughout my life. (It is still problematic but has improved since menopause). Suffered very heavy painful periods from the get go until my hysterectomy at 39 due to severe anemia. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. (I am not overweight and get so pissed off with the media shaming everyone with Type 2). Diabetes is a crap disease to live with, nobody chooses it. There is a stronger genetic link with Type 2 than Type 1. Heart disease, diagnosed when I had a heart attack aged 48, followed by 6 months of severe panic attacks. Insomnia (7 years). Diabetic Retinopathy. 2 years of severe eczema requiring immune suppressing drugs (after taking scumbag back 15 years ago). Now, here I am again. Can’t eat, can’t sleep, hair falling out, self worth down the toilet (what little I had). These lying, cheating scumbags inflict a hell of an amount of pain. I’m literally waiting on another heart attack. Hugs to you all. This is shit. (Sorry to be on such a downer).

        • I was couch and home bound by the end of my marriage. The amount of stress that living with a narcissistic cheater exasperated autoimmune issues I didn’t know I had. Five years out and I am managing triggers and doing better. It is SO IMPORTANT to keep stress out of my life. I feel the most animosity towards him for knowing he contributed to it all and had not one ounce of remorse. I let it go on way too long.

      • My version to my daughter: “Oh, little Timmy pulled your hair? He’s a budding batterer. See, when a batterer likes you, they simultaneously want to destroy you. That’s why orders of protection exist. Not everyone’s a Timmy but stay away from the Timmys of the world.”

        This is how my dad explained bullies when I was a kid so it’s a family tradition. He said they pick on girls because they see it at home. My dad knew I was being conditioned to be a patsy and tried to counter it. I eventually got sick of paying for it and followed my dad’s script when I was about 10. I told the violent class bully, Ted (dead ringer for Bundy), “Don’t pick on me because your old man beats you up.” Teddy turned pale, backed into a gap in a hedge and disappeared, never to bother me again.

        • Hmm…does this mean that the girl that gave me flat tires in middle school was a bully (in case anyone doesn’t know that one, it’s when you step on someone else’s shoe from behind until their foot pops out of the shoe. Really annoying.)?

          I hate to say it, but I could believe that. She had a mean face (IMO) and a mean attitude. I was the quiet, very shy, sensitive young guy. My older sister and my mother thought she had a crush on me and wanted my attention. Bad conditioning of me on their part?

          I know they didn’t mean any harm in telling me what they thought. But other than very occasional interactions due to school, that was pretty much the only significant interaction outside-of-school I ever had w/this girl. That was roughly forty years ago. I haven’t thought about that in a long time. Maybe this can be a very small epiphany for me?😁

      • One thing I tell people is that we end up gaslighting ourselves! How many of us told ourselves that we were just overreacting, being silly, “they would never”, or it was just left over anxiety from their affair, and we just weren’t over it yet! Nope! We were feeling exactly what we should’ve felt, which was “Get the fuck out of here now!” and ignored it.

        I also tell people never to mistake fight for flight. I’m a fighter, but fighting should always be your last resort. The first instinct should always be flight because that’s where safety is. Any safety expert will teach you that. Get to safety! If you absolutely can’t, then fight your way out, but get out. The goal is always get out! You never fight to stay in danger. Wtf?! Not sure why I this tidbit didn’t dawn on me sooner because I have taken a million self defense and safety courses and pride myself on being aware and alert for risks and danger.

        The problem? Us chumps don’t like to admit FWs are dangerous, but they are. So, that fight or flight feeling you get? Listen to it, always, and flee! It’s not butterflies, it’s not excitement, it’s danger. I will never make this mistake again.

        • Yes! I gaslighted myself and had doctors gaslighting me too! I was sick with an autoimmune disease that was depriving my brain of oxygen which caused hallucinations. I can’t process B12 from food which robs every system of your body of oxygen, eventually it affects your brain before it kills you. I was at that point and couldn’t think straight and started hallucinating and was diagnosed schizophrenic.

          Know what I hallucinated? Things screaming at me to get out. Once I was up late working on the computer in the living room and a young teen girl walked into the living room from the kitchen. I was startled but not scared because she was young and not threatening. I started to ask who she was when her mouth dropped open about four feet and she screamed at me. I fell out of my office chair. Another one I used to see all the time was a little girl in the backseat of my car in shadows who I didn’t dare look directly at because I knew it wasn’t really a little girl. She would whisper at me not to go home, to just keep driving.

          A therapist tried to tell me I hallucinated all these things because I had low self esteem and hated myself and so my brain was trying to torment me. Even as sick as I was I argued, “No, I don’t hate myself and if I wanted to torment myself I could do a much better job of it. This feels more like… warnings.”

          And she scoffed at me and asked what my subconscious could possibly be trying to warn me about and then treated me like I was being paranoid. Nope, even as sick as I was, my brain was indeed desperately trying to warn me. I wasn’t paranoid, I was right. My sick brain was screaming at me to run as well as it could.

          • Omg, that sounds so scary and terrible. I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that. I’m hoping you’re being properly treated now.

            • Thank you! I’m very healthy now. All I really needed was B12 shots and folic acid supplements. As long as I take those regularly I have no symptoms. It’s frustrating I was so sick for so long when the treatment is so simple but I’m incredibly grateful to be healthy now.

    • Yes! I ignored my gut feelings too! My skin would crawl when FW touched me, even when he would roll over in bed and inadvertently touch my arm or something, my disgust would wake me up from a deep sleep. During the day, I would catch myself looking at FW only to see the most unattractive, ugly human although nothing about his actual appearance had changed. My instincts were telling me to get out, save myself – that I deserved peace…

      • VonChumpster, I also felt the flight factor of save myself for years . As time went on I recognized the icky ness in my ex! That person we had loved had morphed into the dirty disgusting old man type you want to stay clear of. But wait that person had always existed and had for years kept the ick behavior Hidden from us for most part. Plenty of other red flags presented but the amorous fun side had fooled us and others. I’ve always tried to see the good in people but he was a chameleon! Since I divorced him I’ve learned to stay strong and vigilant on gut instinct and not give chances. I’ve leaned about not being codependent for sake of keeping peace and being a fixer.

      • Wow…me, too. He’d try to touch me just after we laid down in bed and my skin would crawl. He disgusted me. My mind and body new it all but I kept holding on to being married. I didn’t want to fail at marriage.

        • I didn’t want to fail at marriage again… that’s how the Reconciliation Industrial Complex nabbed me. I pick me danced and gave kibbles for seven years. I look at myself and can’t believe I had become so weak. Yet the hopium was so strong and my dream of being a wife again was decades old.
          Now whenever I have to explain all my various names, I’m aware of feeling shame and the feeling of having failed. Logically, I know it’s not true. A hole I’m climbing out of.

      • In the year leading up to Dday FW started appearing in my dreams as my mother. My mother physically and mentally abused me my whole life. It was strange when it started because FW was pretty and sweet and always supported me over our 21 year relationship. She was the exact opposite of my mother. Ends up that FW was just as bad if not worse. She abused me with a smile leaving me to wonder what was real from a 21 year relationship.
        The dreams must have been my mind telling me something

        • Oh, Lord, Dr. Chump. I didn’t have the morphing of the FW XW into my mother during my dreams as a problem, but the rest of the description of your FW XW sounds eerily like mine. Very naturally pretty, very kind on the surface, supportive at times, lots of charisma for certain kinds of people, and on the surface, a local politician/pillar of the community.

          Yet, she had no problem literally throwing keys at me, or mental barbs at me (the barbs frequently enough that I didn’t like it). She always got nasty w/me it felt, first. Then I would retaliate. Not proud of that, but I was not about to take her shit lying down. Quiet, angry exchanges, mainly. Angry silences. Very rarely raising our voices (maybe once).

          As our mirage went on (an epiphany to me of sorts courtesy of Velvet Hammer. Thank you VH!), I noticed the mental barbs increasing (at least, looking back it seems that way).

          Not saying I was perfect; never was, never will be. There are times I’m sure I deserved it. But to me, it always felt like she was the quickest to lash out in the relationship. So roughly twenty two years of that, w/me spackling over it to handle it. Because to acknowledge that she was a bully of sorts was something my conscious brain didn’t want to admit.

          Then the final almost three years of discard. Again, my gut and subconscious knew something was wrong, but whether my brain couldn’t admit it consciously or what, I don’t know. I guess it was just spackling on my part. I was dealing w/my serious depression at the time, which wasn’t helping my thinking.

          In a weird and sick way, D-day was a relief on some level as one part of my mind was saying, I tried to tell you something was wrong about her actions, but the rest of the brain wouldn’t accept it. Now it was clear.

          She had been withdrawing from me and our relationship for a few years, while she looked around and found another victim for her covert narcissism (her current partner and former boss and AP!🤢🤮). I just couldn’t bring myself to admit it. But at least I knew some part of me wasn’t crazy for having these worries.

          Dr. Chump, I hope you’re in a better place like me. I’m so much happier roughly 3 1/2 years out from absolute divorce and 5 1/2 years out from D-day. I’m not at meh (that should be pretty obvious from my posts) and Tuesday hasn’t come yet, but I’m slowly getting there.

          It’s still so much better without the FW XW around, even though I have minimal interactions via text and email with her for the sake (mainly) of our son. It’s hard grey rock, and while not perfect, it’s still liberating in general.

          I hope you’re in a similar or better situation. And that goes for the rest of CN.

          • Thank you for this☝️ FW EXW was supportive right up to Dday and we never fought that is why it has been hard. Dday was 6/21/21 and divorce was final 5/10/22 so it has been a lot to digest because things are now surfacing of her double life. I have grey rocked very well with only email communication about our 15s.

        • Chipped, I was drinking brandy straight out of the bottle (non-drinker) just before leaving for the church. My subconscious was screaming out not to marry the fw. If only I’d listened! My maid of honour was screaming out to her husband to take the bottle away, putting it down to nerves.

    • Ugh, the bad dreams, itching, hives, constant back aches, neck pain (hello!), the knot in my stomach when I knew he was about to walk through the door. Ugh. My body was rejecting him.

      • Yes! the feeling of dread when I’d hear his truck pull into the driveway.
        The bad dreams, the restless nights.
        I couldn’t get comfortable in bed when he was laying next to me.
        I’d cringe when he’d walk into the room wondering what he was going to criticize this time.
        I remember looking over at him and finding him and his arrogance repulsive.

        One day he came home from a business trip and I knew he had been with someone.
        I wasn’t sure what came over me but without thinking I asked him if he had.
        His response was rehearsed, he chuckled, said I had an active imagination, I should write novels, I needed a hobby, I was insecure.., he wasn’t that kind of guy…, the more he talked the more I knew he was lying.
        I ignored my gut feeling but it wouldn’t go away. I knew but didn’t want to believe he would cheat.
        After all he said he wasn’t that kind of guy.
        Trust your gut, always.

        • I will never understand why they don’t tell the truth when asked direct. You’ve been rumbled, tell the truth.

          • MightyWarrior,

            Oh, no. They resist telling the truth. Otherwise, they’d be more like us chumps. And these fuckwits are anything but chumps. I don’t think you can even use the different sides of the same coin analogy. In that style of analogy, I think they’re the bad penny to our shining dime.

    • Yes! I was called paranoid so many times! I was even diagnosed mentally ill and medicated over it!

      But I was right! Before I cut off all the friends I heard a couple of times that I was paranoid and I was just like, it’s not paranoia when you suspect something that’s actually happening. In fact, what he was doing was even worse than what I suspected. So no, I wasn’t paranoid. I was just picking up on reality.

      • Cheater would often tell me that he was seriously concerned for my mental well being, that I needed help.
        He’d tell me this so often he almost had me convinced there was something wrong with me.

        I should have been more paranoid. I found out later he’d been telling our neighbors with tears ins eyes that he was concerned for my mental well being and wasn’t sure how much longer he could put up with me.
        These were people I trusted and had known for years, who ended up being Switzerland friends.

        We lived in the neighborhood for years. Cheater had nothing to do with these people because he ‘s better educated and they had nothing in common until a few months before D-day.
        The betrayal of friends added to my anxiety and questioning of my sanity..

        • Omg that’s exactly what my STBX did when I finally outed him! He’s been living overseas for three years cheating on me and came back to visit not knowing I knew and was going to serve him papers. I stayed with friends while he was at the house because he still had rights to be in it. He immediately went around the neighborhood telling anyone who would listen that he “didn’t know what was happening” and he “was concerned for my mental health.” No one believed him. They know I’m the one who’s been single momming it like a champ since the day he left. What a FW.

  • There’s so much!
    Years ago, a chump commented (I’m paraphrasing) “Not every cheater is character disordered, but every character disordered person is a cheater.”
    CN is like a pair of corrective lenses through which we can see clearly what our cheaters’ baffling behaviors really mean.
    My most recent epiphanies have to do with actions I thought were clumsy/clueless/innocent but in reality were hostile/selfish/deliberate. One example: I was returning home from a month-long trip overseas. The LCL was not picking me up from the airport because ridiculous excuse. I suggested (actually demanded) he have dinner ready when I got home. (He never cooked. This was the one and only meal he made in our four years together.)
    I’m not a picky eater, but I don’t care for anything teriyaki-flavored.
    What did he cook? Teriyaki chicken.
    It made the whole house smelled like dirty gym socks.
    Welcome home, dear.

    • This. The seemingly innocent things they do that are secretly hostile. I frequently think about when I had to have surgery and was sick from the anesthesia on the way home. He was upset that I opened the door while he was stopped at an intersection so I wouldn’t be sick in the car. Then, we had to park a block away from our place (urban parking, ugh) and he walked as fast as he could, leaving me stumbling behind. He just pretended like he didn’t notice I was struggling. But he loved me soooooooooo much. That was really the beginning of the end.

      • BDU, it still fills me with rage when I think about all the small deliberate cruelties the cheaters inflicted on us. So insidious. So evil.

        • This. I had an artery occlusion in my left eye at 42 (a nice term for a stroke, as my cardiologist sister later told me.) One night at home, I suddenly lost partial vision in my that eye. I was freaking out internally because I knew enough to know that was a danger signal, but I was trying to remain calm outwardly. I told FW what had just happened and that we needed to get to the ER. He got so pissed I was ruining his evening, and all the way to the ER he yelled at me for being a hypochondriac. Not one kind word, not one word of concern. When we finally got there, he dumped me off alone to go park the car. He didn’t come in with me. I had to explain to the front desk that I thought I had a stroke, but I had no other symptoms and was so young, and had no advocacy or support from FW, so they told me to go sit down and wait. FW never came to my aid, never tried to explain that I might really need attention. He didn’t even sit with me while I waited, scared to death. He kept his distance clear across the room, acting like he didn’t know me. Never approached me; didn’t say a single word to me. When I was finally called to a room, he followed, but again gave the total silent treatment to the doctor and me. Left me to do all the talking, acted like it was no big deal. I’m sure they wrote me off as a hypochondriac. Meanwhile, he saw a cop he knew (he was a prosecutor) and they had a great old time together catching up and laughing while I waited ever longer and longer for treatment. That, of course, did nothing to hurry them up. After all, if the spouse is laughing it up without a care in the world, how could anything really be wrong with me? I found out later that had I been seen more promptly and taken seriously, they might have been able to do more. As it is, I was lucky and my central vision was not impaired, but I have a significant blind spot just left of center in my left eye. Of course, FW never apologized to me for how he treated me that night. It was all just one big nuisance to him. To top it all off, years later when we were arguing about something, he blurted out, “I wish you had died at the ER.” And I STILL spackled for years after!

          He told me exactly who he was, and I’m sure he was already cheating at that time, but I wasn’t ready to listen to what I was being “told.” So for me, I look back and would say that any lack of concern for you when you’re in a medical situation, is a huge red flag of cheating because they’ve already gone to the point where they don’t care about you at all.

          • Jesus Christ! What a piece of shit he was/is! I hope you’re in a better place now. With a (former) spouse like him, who needs enemies? Wishing you peace and good health without him, CBN. You certainly deserve them.

          • I Had to have a biopsy done. I told FW that I was 99% sure it was malignant I am a physician. I planned the biopsy Friday afternoon after my normal operative schedule. FW was to meet me and drive me home after my procedure. She never showed up to hospital and had a friend drive me home. On the way home I got the call of malignancy. When I got home she was shopping so my buddy took me out for a bite. When I got home and told FW the news she yelled at me for not telling her first.
            I thought she was reacting out of fear. I now know she was with AP

      • I had an in office medical procedure with post op meds and recovery plan in secret. At the time I told myself I didn’t need to bother my husband, he was so busy with work and family responsibilities. But I really think it was because I couldn’t bear the likelihood of his contempt and irritation at my humanness. Looking back I know he would have behaved just like your husband.

      • The contempt and rage he threw my way when I was ill was unreal. Wouldn’t so much as bring me a glass of water without heaving sighs of irritation. I couldn’t walk so I basically crawled, dragged my self to the kitchen and bathroom when needed bc his anger was to much to bear.

        • I had a hysterectomy and cheater behaved the same way, angry, put out, as if everything was too much trouble. Loud sighs, taking his time to bring me a glass of water. Never asking if I needed anything.

          I need help walking to the restroom, he’d make me wait until the show he was watching was over, or he’d take his time.
          Once when I asked for help, he said he was just getting ready to swim laps in the pool, that I’d have to wait until he was finished.

      • You reminded me of the time I was at the ER and he left me there (in pain) to go home to sleep. Maybe he didn’t go to OW because she lived an hour away, but it was still out of character for how he’d been treating me up to that point.

    • As BattleDancingUnicorn so astutely puts it, “the seemingly innocent things they do that are secretly hostile” (aka microagressions)

      – After I discovered she’d thrown away a power tool I had in the basement: (shrug) “You snooze, you lose.” [What the hell was I supposed to have snoozed through that warranted throwing something I use often out in the trash?]
      – After I discovered she’d thrown away a personal grooming device from the medicine cabinet: “But I never see you use it.” [Little did I know she had so much interest in watching me trim my nosehair.]
      – A text sent to me 15 minutes after I left the house with our daughters for a day-long outing: “Guess what I’m doing?!” accompanied by a pic of the dining room and living room carpet being ripped up [To hell with discussing home projects together]

      • This reminds me of the time my cheater STBX donated a couple boxes of stuff I was wanting to sell. The garage was crammed full of mostly his crap. I had stored a few boxes out there as well. One day came home to find he had “cleaned out” the garage and donated to Goodwill…but only my boxes of stuff. All his toys/trash were still there. He just blinked back at me, annoyed at my anger.

        • It’s always only ever our stuff they throw out – or break “accidentally”! I had been in hospital and found out FW had thrown a lot of my stored stuff away while I was in. One box he had kept was labelled “crappy, horrible purses”! He had also thrown away my wedding dress (civil wedding so not a big while dress) because “you’ll never wear it again”. So I told him to throw away his Marine Corps dress blues for the same reason. Never happened of course!

          • So many icky memories of microaggressions flooding back:
            When Cheater #1 tore out (with his equally asshole father) the berry bushes that produced beautiful olallieberries.
            When he threw out the stainless steel pot and pan set that was a wedding gift (we had been married less than a year!).
            When he cut an enormous square hole in the dining room wall to install a wine fridge that broke down in less than a year.
            When he bought shades for our new house, without involving me in the decision but took the money out of our joint account, meaning we were short the rest of the month.
            All of these done behind my back while I was out of the house at work/running errands, accompanied by the smug smirk and the “you can’t change it now, bitch” attitude. Almost twenty years divorced and it still pisses me off.

            • Seriously, how many people really need a wine fridge??? Just pop a bottle of white in the regular fridge an hour before a get together. My former brother and sister-in-law installed a wine fridge and they don’t even drink! They also installed a pot filler. But you still have to drag the pot of water to the sink to drain anything. So, why bother install something that can leak behind your stove?

            • So many things coming to mind. Her Blondness, I’m now realizing the underlying aggression in how he wouldn’t cooperate, coordinate or agree to any home improvement or decorating I wanted in the new house he got when we were married less than 2 years. OW was discovered by then (just barely). I moved in anyhow. He agreed to one wall in the kitchen and did help me a little teeny bit. Anything else I wanted was an instant veto. Then after I moved out, he’d talk to me about doing stuff in the house as though he was really going to do it and include me. That was when he didn’t want me to divorce him.

      • I remember once what my XW did. She was irritated at some weeds in the lawn so took Roundup (while I was at work) and started spraying the weeds in the grass! Guess what happened? Killed half the yard. Eventually had to scrap the yard and put in a whole new lawn because she was “frustrated”. 😳😳😳

        This post brought back to mind how things use to disappear from our house. Her pearl necklaces, my clarinet, etc.

      • Wow. Just wow, UXworld. I don’t know if I could have spackled over that shit. But I probably would have tried. You are so much better off w/out her in your life. Wishing you all the best now.

    • Yes! Passive aggressive FW did much of the cooking and he would make a salad with raw onions. I asked him to make the pieces big enough so I could pick them out of my portion because they really disagreed with me. Instead, he slaved over the onion, slicing the pieces so thin you could hardly see them. I never saw him put that much effort into anything, let alone his family. But by then I had had enough and he had to eat those salads all by himself. He eventually gave up – it was too much work if he wasn’t going to get a rise out of me.

    • FW once invited my least favorite (because he was a known serial cheater!) buddy of his over to raid our kitchen after they’d been out in the bars, despite my request for him to not do so because I was just starting to recover from a 3-week bout of bronchitis and I desperately wanted to sleep in peace and they are noisy after they drink. Not the biggest deal in the world, but I remember being stunned that he would disregard my feelings so blatantly after I’d been so pitifully sick for nearly a month. In retrospect, I can clearly see that even then, years before d-day, he didn’t give a shit about me.

      • One year, at Christmas, I was extremely sick with a cold and sore throat. Christmas Day came and I did not feel like driving the hour to his parents’ house for Christmas and didn’t really want to potentially give them my sickness. I decided I better go to the ER for a strep culture. My ex would not come with me. When I got home, he said he was going to Christmas at his parents’ whether I went with him or not. I went and was miserable all day. That should have been a giant red flag for me. Why did I gloss over so many red flags…

  • For me the epiphany was when a number of things that had happened over the preceding 10 or so years – none of which made sense when viewed in isolation and at the time that they occurred – all of a sudden started to make sense. It was as if all of a sudden that the pieces of a jigsaw fell into place and the picture that they showed came into focus; at that point I was able to see her for who she was and the extent to which my children and I were being subjected to a huge level of manipulation, lies and abuse to keep us all off balance while she conducted an affair with an ex-boyfriend of hers.

    LFTT

    • Same for me. Maybe there was the occasional pink flag – certainly no red flags – but in retrospect, “the pieces of a jigsaw fell into place.” I had been fooled for years by a master manipulator.

      • Yeah, this sounds familiar to me. Except the pieces didn’t fall together for me until after the FW XW exit-affaired me and I found CL and CN. But I too feel that I was working w/a master manipulator who also happened to be a covert narcissist. I suppose being a covert narc, the skills for mastery in manipulation were already there?🤷‍♂️🤬

        She and her narcissist former boss and AP mutually seduced each other, and knew to do it while claiming to work, to arouse the least suspicion from their spouses. If it hadn’t been for my FW XW’s inability to keep her increased coldness towards me at bay, I probably never would have had my gut feeling to confront her about WTF was going on, about two months before they were going to admit to their infidelity to me.

        The fucking assholes were going to wait until my oldest daughter came back from studying abroad to lower the boom on me, ostensibly so I would have someone adultish enough to support me (she had just turned twenty two years old a month and five days before D-day). That absolutely galled me and my daughter too, I believe.

      • DrC,

        Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s all too easy to ask yourself “how I could have been so stupid as to have not seen things for what they really were?” and, in the process, forget that our other halves were going out of their way to conceal who they really were and what they were really doing.

        Fundamentally, they exploited our trust and better natures to further their own agenda; that sh*t’s on them and not us.

        LFTT

      • Fuckface is a sociopath, and probably a covert narc too…checks lots of boxes. I have never known that level of pathological deceit and lies…never. I was completely blindsided on dday. It’s been eight months now, and I can start to see some small signs of the evil monster that he was all along. I am working in therapy to forgive myself for not seeing it sooner…for trusting him…for believing he was what he pretended to be – a good man, a loyal man, a man who truly cared for me. There was no way I could’ve known…he was just THAT depraved and a master manipulator.

        So don’t beat yourself up. We are NOT like these evil monsters, so it’s hard for us to understand how anyone can do this to another person…they are seriously fucked up. Thank god we know the truth and are away from them. Fuckface can rot in hell.

  • For me it was realizing she wasn’t a good person who made some terrible mistakes 22 years into the marriage. Instead, SHE HAD BEEN A TERRIBLE PERSON ALL ALONG who had hoodwinked me for 22 years. When that reality hit me after the second affair came to light, it was physically staggering, to the point I had to sit down. The breadth and depth of deception these people pull off is almost impossible to process.

    • Agree. There were a few times when a piece of evidence would fall into place like a punch to the gut and the sudden realization that she was simply a bad person. I’ll always remember that sinking feeling as my legs felt like they were giving out. Those were some difficult days. I’m so grateful for having survived that soul crushing period in my life.

      • I remember my knees giving up and collapsing to the floor with the realization when I found the burner phone filled with hundreds of photos, texts, and emails to at least 50 women. The realization of what an awful person he is after so many years of doubting my instincts. The nausea I had for ages. The nightmares.

        • I was in the parking lot at the T-mobile store sitting in my car with the door open as I vomited continuously for almost an hour. (I was there to upgrade his cell phone when an incoming text led me to open his phone and start reading.)
          I moved down to the Home Goods parking lot where I sat for another hour taking pics of some of the texts (in between dry heaving at this point) in case the divorce attorney needed them. Yep, before I returned home to pack an overnight bag, I knew I would be filing for divorce. The stuff I read was so disturbing it caused nightmares and the inability to eat without it all coming back up for the next 3 to 4 months.

    • Yes. Hoodwinked. The deception IS hard to process. That’s the worst part for me, as is my astonishment that I could have missed so many signs and/or convinced myself that everything was relatively normal.

      Sometimes I’ll share an anecdote with a friend who will point out, “You know that’s really messed up. Right?”

      Me: “Umm. Sure. Yeah. Of course.”

      Oy. #traumabonds

      • I’m so tired of hearing that there are things I’ll never repeat. Not because I’m protecting him, but because I’m protecting myself from the horror of retelling it. It’s just too much. I can’t believe I stayed after some of this stuff. I honestly think certain things just broke inside of me and I just went numb and I stopped caring. He picked up on it and things changed between us. The dynamic shifted and he did say that he thought he loved me more than I loved him. I swore it wasn’t true, but he was right. Then of course, the affair and his abuse with that made me insane.

        Fuck him, I hope his dick never gets hard again and his pinky toes rot.

    • “She had been a terrible person all along.” Ditto! And succinctly stated.
      Did you rationalize all sorts of excuses for the abhorrent behavior when you were together? I know I did. To the extent I built a protective bubble, if you will, so the complete lack of human decency on his part ceased to wound me.

      • Did I rationalize? Does a golden retriever shed? For instance, I saw her cry maybe twice in 25 years, both times when she suffered some tangible loss herself. NEVER teared up at hearing of the hardships of another, or at a song or movie. I told myself this was the result of her being soooooo well adjusted that she never wobbles. Turned out, nope: She is a stone-cold sociopath with zero capacity for empathy.

        • My kids still talk about how the ex was the ONLY person who didn’t cry at the funeral for his mother, who died unexpectedly.

          • I don’t know. x was/is a sad-sack covert narc. He’s always the saddest person in the room.

            He balled at our daughter’s wedding during the father-daughter dance. I think it was all for show or maybe he was somehow crying for himself. I don’t know.

            Everyone thought, “Awww. So sweet.” He knew this, but later would say, “I guess I ruined the wedding by crying.” Chumpy me said, “Are you kidding? It was so touching.”

            #kibbles
            #IMAGEmanagement

            • I think that they have such a need to stand out, that events for others, such as weddings or funerals, annoy the hell out of them and they need to make sure the attention is steered in their direction. Crying and or making a scene are just 2 of the tactics they use.

            • Yea, my ex is really good at this shit too, but now I hear his voice with the fake acting of “I’m really sorry” with his bullshit wobbly voice and I want to puke. It’s so fake I can’t believe I ever fell for it. The only thing he’s sorry for is getting caught.

            • The teenage soon a neighbor of ours died in a horrible boating accident. I had talked to the boy a few times as I was close to his Mom. Cheater knew who he was but had never talked to him.
              Cheater and I walked over to their house to offer our condolences. The house was quiet, family and friends were walking in with us. We walk inside and Cheater lets out these loud wailing noises.
              Everyone stopped what. they were doing to look at him. I was mortified.
              He didn’t show any emotion when his parents passed away.
              For months if not years afterwards I’d cringe when people would mention how emotional cheater was that day.
              Attention seekers, if it isn’t about them they will make it about them.

        • “I told myself this was the result of her being soooooo well adjusted…” I did the same. Thought STBX truly had his shit together. Psyyyych!

        • Same here. No outward show of emotion of any kind. Never ceases to amaze me what our brains glossed over …

        • Oh God, Nomar. This sounds very like my FW XW. The only time I really remember her crying was when her two parents died (years apart). Maybe one other time before marriage when we thought I might get drafted if the first Gulf War expanded.

          I was the one who tended to cry at things. Not her. In looking back, I also think my FW XW was much further towards the sociopathic part of the human spectrum than me. On D-day she told me that she thought both her parents being dead freed her to start thinking of leaving me (and I guess, fucking around on me?🙄).

          The not so subtle inference to me was that she’d then had less potential people who might try to convince her not to leave me without trying to work things out or guilt her about doing that. Such a lovely fuckwit.

          Wishing you peace, Nomar. You deserve it.

      • Divine, I was married to my ex-husband for 18 years. He began withholding his love, attention, and validation – any human connection except sex – from me in year three. I was deeply unhappy but still couldn’t justify leaving. My protective bubble was telling myself there were no life goals I couldn’t attain despite being in this marriage.
        Despite.
        His affair was a gift.

        • “I was deeply unhappy but still couldn’t justify leaving. My protective bubble was telling myself there were no life goals I couldn’t attain despite being in this marriage.
Despite.
His affair was a gift.”

          It strikes me that this is how I thought while with the FW for all those years: there was nothing he could stop me from doing so I might as well just leave things as they are while waiting for a “sign” of an obvious deal-breaker.

          I know now that the deal-breaker was that I KNEW on some level that the arrival of a dealbreaker was inevitable. I had no illusions otherwise – I KNEW.

          I felt compelled to wait for that sign. Thankfully, after 13 years, it DID come and it DID free me.

          My epiphany is that if ever again I realize that I’m waiting for the inevitable, I need to make my exit ASAP.

          It feels kind of devastating to admit that although I never thought of myself as one who waits for things to happen (I MAKE them happen), I sure did wait for YEARS before he slipped up and I caught him for the last time.

          I am meditating now on why I didn’t deal with the fact that I was with someone who I KNEW to be a liar, cheater and fundamentally untrustworthy. Was it apathy? Inertia? Did I not trust my own knowledge? Was it trauma-bonding?

          The difference is that 18 months out, my meditation is just that: a peaceful self-examination, without the profound emotional trauma of betrayal and loss and grief. Those emotions have passed and now, I can just…think.

          I am healing. I have the wisdom of CL and CN to thank for that. 💕

      • Not the person you asked, but I definitely did. I spackled like crazy.

        I think the biggest excuse I made was, “Well, he had a rough childhood.” I had it worse than him but you didn’t see me go around treating people like shit. AND I went to therapy of my own volition and worked on myself!

  • I have taken so much from CN. It has truly saved my sanity and my soul. Way to many aha moments to comment on. Our stories are all far too much the same.

    My biggest take from here was from LFTT. He mentioned that during his divorce he got the house and its entire contents. I made damn sure I got the same. And just like Mrs LFTT my FW wanted items from my home after the settlement was in place. It gave me great joy to point out to him that I now owned EVERYTHING, including the spare car doors in the loft 😁

    • Claire,

      You have made my day and glad to have helped. If my scribblings here (sadly informed by my bitter experiences with the now Ex-Mrs LFTT) have helped even one member of Chump Nation, then takes a little of the sting out of what my kids and I were put through.

      I can only advise Chumps not to let their guards down when their divorce is finalised; Cheaters will all too frequently go out of their ways to find new ways of making life difficult.

      LFTT

      • Police have told me that Fraudster has made a hobby of trying to screw me over, even post-divorce, by redirecting essential mail to his address (insurance, for example).

      • This is so true. My ex and I had a fast, easy, and amicable divorce because I just wanted to be done and move on with my life. No kids, and the only major asset being the house, which I still live in (not for much longer). Well he tried to pull some shady shut right before closing and I made him pay big time for me not to kill the sale. I was stupid to think he actually had real remorse and wouldn’t try to stab me in the back again. Too bad he failed and I took that opportunity to cut his balls like I should’ve long ago. It felt good.

        • OMG I had that happen too, right as I was selling the house. This guy wasn’t a cheater but an abuser of a different flavor. I still think about it every time I see one of those Lis Pendens, which I see because I work in that business.

  • 1) Unprovoked rages over insignificant things, such as the improper way I loaded the dishwasher, how I parked my car in the garage.

    2) Complaining that I never complimented him on his biceps when he came home from the gym. The next time he came home from the gym I complimented his biceps. He got angry and told me to quit patronizing him.

    3) Spending hours in a magnifying mirror trimming his eyebrows, sideburns and mustache when I’d have to ask him repeatedly to trim them before. I thought he was getting older and being more interested in his appearance was a sign of maturity.

    4) Giving me looks of disdain, deep sighs, gazing out the kitchen window as if he was in a trans.. I thought it was part of his grieving process since he had recently lost his Dad.

    • Oh, I remember the looks of absolute disdain. He would look at me like I had personally murdered his mother or something and it broke my heart. I was trying so hard to love him like I always had; why had he gotten so angry with me? Why did he look at me that way?

      For months I never even considered the idea that he was cheating.

    • Looks of disdain … yet another common thread. There were times cheating bastard ex would walk past me and literally sneer at me. My crime was generally something as innocuous as sitting in my chair reading a book.

      • A new girl at work has looked at me that way. I actually did it to her across the room during a meeting… yikes!

    • Yes, the absolute disdain. I commented once that it would be nice if he would say something kind about me other than thanking me for sex and dinner. He said that he didn’t believe in flattery.

      Of course, he later denied saying that, but it was actually multiple times that he engaged that way.

    • Brit, my cheater would fabricate fights so that he had an excuse to storm off, creating pockets of time to devote to his many side pieces.

      • During his 9 month discard phase, ex picked fights with me regularly, especially when I was tired, distracted by my job search or emotional about my sister’s new MS diagnosis. He wanted to be able to say “you heard your mother and I fighting” when telling the kids we were divorcing.

        I finally got a natural opportunity to challenge this statement with my now adult children. We were on vacation, had a few cocktails and were reminiscing about that horrible time when our family blew up. One of the kids mentioned the arguments and I simply asked them if they had memories of their father and I “fighting” in the 12 years before discard. They all admitted they didn’t.

    • 1) The rages over stupid shit. It’s the worst. He once stomped in the kitchen and demanded I go outside and re-park the car in the garage because it was 1” too far back. I took a photo of the tire to remind myself how nuts he is. No one should have to live with that behavior.

  • I cannot express the depth of gratitude I have for this blog and the hundreds of mighty chumps that have posted their experiences. I mostly just read, but nod emphatically on a daily basis. So what have I learned by reading here? That I am a whole, beautiful, lovable human being who did not make her husband cheat. That I should always trust my instincts. That years of gaslighting and devaluation are crazy-making but I am NOT crazy for loving and trusting the partner I chose to build a life with. That despite having to face my deepest fears head on, I can still hold my head and heart up high, knowing that there are blessings of a more peaceful life ahead. Thank you all, for creating this warm, safe community of epic humans that intimately understand the pain of infidelity.

  • My ex became very cold and distant and worked all the time. I told him it felt like his job was more important than me. His response, ” I understand why you would feel that way.” Such a cold response, I didn’t understand.
    He took “work calls” at night in another bedroom, so he would not keep me awake. (I fell for it!)
    Vaginal infections and UTI’s
    Started shaving his chest.
    He bought a Jaguar and had never shown any interest in a Jag. For our whole marriage (28 yrs) he had a truck. I thought this was his mid-life crisis and it was better than a girlfriend. But he actually had both!!

  • Mine was realizing you can never do enough. Raise the kids, housework, relationships, yard work, bills, still they feel put upon. Asking for more. I feel like Helen Keller, I was blind and deaf. CL,CN and suddenly I’m cured! I can see, reality. I can hear BS. I can feel, who I am.

    • My XW would clean one room of a five bedroom house and then scream at me how lazy I was as she had to clean the whole house. I had to clean the house and take care of the whole yard because she worked a 8 hour a day job so was to tired to do anything around the house. I was working a 12-14 hr a day job.

      • Indeed. And heaven forbid you sit down to do anything enjoyable. Klootzak makes snide comments to our child, suggesting that I don’t keep the house clean enough and so on. If anyone visits, he starts tripping over himself passing food around and pouring wine, putting on a big show as if he had done any work to put the event together at all. In real life, he runs off to “networking” events or spends entire weekend days washing and waxing his car.

        He doesn’t clean anything in the bathroom at all. Never vacuums the rugs. Doesn’t help care for the dog. Doesn’t help our child with homework. Doesn’t bathe our child or get him dressed or cook a meal. He only started mowing the lawn when I bought a new mower with my own funds since he refused to let me buy one with household funds because he said I didn’t need it. The old one was ancient and impossible to start. But once I bought the new one and it’s easy, now he mows and makes a big show of it.

    • Yes, never enough. Homeschooling the kids, meals, bills, the house, the yard, running errands, working part-time, etc. etc. During the divorce he said that I contributed nothing to the marriage. That was one of many moments when I knew that it had to end.

      • Yes, I am not officially divorced yet. Mine says I have contributed nothing in this 20 year relationship & to hear that does something to me. Such an indescribable feeling, I’m leaving! I sacrificed my career & did everything for the kids and the house.

      • I got to quote him at our last court date where he filed to change our agreement. I turned to the judge and said it exactly like the ex did to me. “ you have contributed nothing! You deserve nothing! You will get nothing!!! If you leave me you will not have a life or live!!!”
        He’s still a disordered asshole.

    • “Mine was realizing you can never do enough”
      Yup…they are black holes, bottomless pits. You can constantly accommodate these people and the one time you can’t they will never forgive or forget.

  • I’m in the U.S. but was in a New Zealand facebook group of women where I shared an email that my husband (now stbx) sent me. I was in super spackle mode, but those ladies in the group saw the email for what it was. The email was my husband explaining why he had to DRAIN OUR JOINT ACCOUNT. Somebody in that group used the phrase “financial abuse” and that’s when the spackle started to fall off- because I had experienced a LIFETIME of financial abuse starting with my mother and then my marriage (for 16 years-20 by the time the divorce is final). One member of that Kiwi group told me to look up “Chump lady” and I found her blog and then the book. The other members told me I should definitely file for divorce (I was on the fence). I filed immediately (and gave that “why I’m totally justified in draining our joint account and starving our children” email straight to my lawyer).

    • Dear Chumped 48,

      One year ago this month (so this is my one year anniversary!) my sister told me about hearing about CL on the radio and told me to check it out. I bought the book immediately. Happens that Cheater was staying at my house after being hospitalized with Covid. I wasn’t taking care of him but he was there for like 4 weeks. Supposedly he saw God or Angels or something and wanted to make us work out. I didn’t really believe it but there was no evidence he was still seeing OW (his mistress of like 7 years at this point).

      So I’m reading LACGLA while he’s sitting across the room staring at the square flipping channels. My first epiphany was “Oh my God. I’m “pick me dancing”!

      He finally went home and the next Saturday was his birthday and he called me in the afternoon wanting to go out to dinner. I said no, I’m not wanting to date you. He called back to try to convince me.

      Then he said “Okay I’ll just go to this (favorite) place and go for a drive in the desert.”

      Second ephiphany.

      The desert was where he said he went on Christmas Eve when he never came home until noon on Christmas Day.

      On Monday, I got the divorce papers and filed them on Tuesday.

      I can’t believe that I stayed involved, high on hopium for so many years after find the first text and that Christmas.

      I’m now divorced and have a new life. No contact with him. It’s way better. Now just trying to find something in me that I lost during the twelve years I was with him.

  • My biggest epiphany from chump lady and CN is that “forgiveness” is optional. Forgiveness isn’t dependent on whether I’m still “bitter” or not. I’m allowed to just let that shit go and move on to live my best life.

  • For me it was realising I didn’t have to fix his constant fuck-ups! CL’s post about not having to be his chaos janitor is still my favourite!

  • When a 40 something yo man all of sudden starts using Snapchat aka Snapcheat. When confronted he said a male coworker of his uses it but he was actually communicating with a fellow married female coworker. My ex prioritized front row Pearl Jam tickets & NFL games yet we never took a family vacation. We had a 2nd home for where his work location was and he took it upon himself to buy new sheets for the bed there something he had never done. He claimed he just happened to see a nice set at Walmart. No he ordered them on the Amazon account.

  • This is a great Friday challenge. I look back and slap myself for not recognizing signs or making excuses for FW over the years. But the last few months when he had the affair with his coworker, there were too many signs to miss and I figured it out.

    FW and I were friends first … I always found him nice to me and very quiet. Harmless. So when I came out of a bad relationship with a very loud guy who was very sexual and over the top, when FW asked me out, I agreed— hesitatingly, because I found him boring. But then I thought that at least he was a good friend and I should try to date someone very different than my ex. My mistake!

    I didn’t know what a covert narcissist was. And FW is definitely one (per therapists).

    Warning signs:
    1. His bosses at work never liked FW
    2. FW couldn’t keep a job for more than a year or 2 and it was always because everyone he worked with (especially his boss) were “morons” (of course FW always thought he was the smartest person in the room)
    3. FW rarely talked at all… it was like pulling teeth to get a conversation so I never knew what he really thought about anything
    4. When I got pregnant, he started working longer hours
    5. He didn’t want to be in the room with me when our son was born. He chose to sit in the waiting area and watch a DVD of Star Wars
    6. After I gave birth, what were his first words when he came in and was handed the baby? “I didn’t get to finish my movie”
    7. After the baby was born, he “worked” later and later — getting home after 10pm many nights
    8. He hardly ever wanted sex with me. I’d initiate and try everything I could think of — he was rarely interested. I even lost weight and got fit after the baby — FW didn’t care.
    9. FW wanted MORE attention when my dad was sick with pancreatic cancer and died within 6 months. I found out later that during my grief was when he decided I didn’t do enough for him
    9. I’m not sure what FW was up to leading to the exit affair in 2015. But this one was with a coworker — our son was 9. Suddenly FW had to work out at the gym every morning. He asked how to whiten his teeth. He wanted me to help him pick out clothes. He started losing weight.
    10. FW started picking crazy fights all the time for the months leading to his exit
    11. He giggled while he texted “work”
    12. FW had to “work late” for “overseas calls” at a coworker’s house
    13. He stopped meeting me for lunch
    14. He was always in the bathroom on his phone for very long periods
    15. His eyes turned black — “shark eyes” — his entire personality shifted right before discard

    There’s more! But I’m done kicking myself. I went into it trusting him. I didn’t know what crazy disordered crap people could really be. Lesson learned. I’m still a work in progress. But hopefully some of these signs help someone else.

    • were we married to the same guy, michelle shocked? crikey!

      the “shark eyes” are a real trip. i think they’re the doors to their basement. that’s what i experienced. when the “shark eyes” showed up was when my X became so deliberately cruel.

    • … the shark eyes are a dead giveaway that they are a sociopath… mine was diagnosed as narcissist with BPD, but his actions are more sinister — my mom is the exact same way – no wonder I accepted this for 26 years- it felt familiar (trauma bonds, FOO) – never too late to get away and learn

    • MichelleShocked, I can relate to the “rarely talked.” One of the things that were important to me while I was with the Lying Cheating Loser was having a social life as a couple. It was something I never had with my ex-husband, as he was ashamed of his fat, boring wife and excluded me from all his social activities.
      With the LCL, things were going to be different! Only, he would sit there mute like a bump on a log when we would socialize with my friends. As for socializing with his friends (who were really just surface-level work acquaintances) it happened twice that I can recall during our four-year relationship. But oh how he sparkled and showboated.
      But whether he was silent or spouting off some pointless monologue, he was consistent in one regard: he was always a shitty listener.

    • MichelleShocked these details are eerily similar right down to the birth of our daughter. He was there but kept having to leave to play Magic cards with his friend. We moved to Europe for his job when I was just 8 weeks postpartum with a C section. I was essentially alone all the time with our baby. Long list but seriously the way you described it was the exact same. I’m addition to the snake eyes at DDay he kept asking me where I got things, like he asked me “Where did we buy this lamp?” as if he was mentally redecorating his new apartment with the new GF. The worst thing I had was I was wearing a really nice sweater and he said, “Wow that’s such a cool top did you buy it around here or overseas?” He went so far as to ask me to write down where I bought it. I guess he wanted to buy one for the replacement woman. I wrote down the wrong shop on a post-it note and handed it to him. He became one of those guys CL talks about in her book that he would step over my heaving body to go and microwave a hot pocket. His utter lack of care became frightening.

    • It reminds me of those old ronco or popiel commercials: but wait! there’s more! (;->) (I really do enjoy reading your comments, MS.)

    • “FW couldn’t keep a job for more than a year or 2 and it was always because everyone he worked with (especially his boss) were “morons” (of course FW always thought he was the smartest person in the room)”

      It was a little longer for mine, but SAME. He’d be so “happy” to finally get a good job, only to come to loathe it within a year or two, for this very reason. He was always “too good” for the job. No matter how much it paid. He would rage about how he was bossed around by an idiot, and do work for morons.

      With one job (the one I currently work), he couldn’t WAIT to get out. But when he did, and switched jobs, he turned around and got angry at the benefits I had that he no longer did (like alternate Fridays off, or the ability to work remotely during covid). He got so angry and turned the story into “you drove me out of the job because you were so hostile” (OW worked there as well). By that time I’d grown a backbone and told him to his face that he couldn’t wait to leave my job and had been trying to do so for years. (Far from being hostile, I would sit in my cubicle alone – usually crying – and do my work. It was FW and OW who would deliberately place themselves in my vicinity to provoke a reaction from me; I think they enjoyed seeing my distress and discomfort. It was so embarrassing too, since everyone there knew he was married to me, but he was carrying on with OW very blatantly.)

  • I truly benefited from everything related related to “trust that they suck.” I learned to see the ex as he really is/was.

    Another gem: no contact means no new hurt. I applied it to the ex and a number of Switzerland folks.

    But the greatest advice I received was the many examples of how to “focus on myself.” In the beginning I didn’t really know what that meant. CL and CN showed me the way. I’m three years out and doing just fine.

  • I am just so glad that the Chump Lady is here on earth. I really needed the truth that is here and to realize that his cheating is not my fault. I got sucked into the RIC for a while but finding this site made me realize what the RIC was. I was fed so much crap that I was on the cusp of accepting blame for his cheating. Whew, CL and CN saved me from taking that on.
    I really did not recognize the red flags until I started going NC. There was the sudden interest in diet and exercise which FW never had before. He started whitening his teeth and manscaping. Then there were always the looks he cast on me that made me feel like my home was not my home. The sudden bursts of anger and having to leave the house because he could not handle a crazy wife. It was horrible. Then I noticed the money draining. He was wasting marital assets (poor sad sausage now has to pay them back).
    I already was 98% sure of the cheating when my son came to me with pictures and video that FW “accidently” uploaded to our son’s shared photo account. Our son has the account so we can share photos back and forth of his Navy travels. By then I had a lawyer lined up so taking the proof of his adultery in a fault state gave my attorney a lot of material to work with. FW and his attorney tried to fight at the start but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words…… I also found the evidence of his financial games and got receipts and statements to show how he wasted marital assets. They backed down quickly and now I have a good settlement in place that will allow me to lead a very comfortable FW Free life.
    Our son is NC with his father but of course it is all my fault. I guess in a way it is because his life would be pretty great if I had stayed the faithful wife appliance and he could have that and the endless buffet of pussy. I am so glad that this will be finalized next month. It has been really great just to be out of the fog and not to have to listen to constant lies.

    • “Then there were always the looks he cast on me that made me feel like my home was not my home.”

      that.

      i just sold the family home and moved into my own home, and it feels so much better. i mean, there are moving boxes everywhere but it feels so much better. many people ask if miss “my home” i think about how it didn’t feel like my home anymore, no doubt because of the unexplained angry outbursts, ongoing weird emphasis on re-organizing the dishwasher, etc. etc.

      then there were the “shark eyes” as mentioned by michelle shocked below.

      • Exactly, I could not stand to be in the marital home either. It just had a distinctive cheater smell that I could not longer get rid of. I have since bought a new house and will be able to pay it off next month when I get the final settlement. The new house is very different but the cheater smell is gone, the bad memories are out of my head and I have a brand new clean bed that I know has never accommodated a Schmoopie.
        I think no amount of sage burning could have gotten the cheater stink out of that house!

      • X admitted to bringing his “wifey #2”, as he called her, into the marital bed.
        But he couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to keep it.
        “The mattress was flipped!”
        🥴🤢🤮
        And I knew it was a lie; you can’t flip pillow-top mattresses.🙄🤥
        He also told me that he would have sex with her ALL THROUGHOUT the house. What, like on the bed my grandchildren used when they spent the night? Yep! But he didn’t believe this was a big deal. Sick freaks, both of them!
        I had to leave my beautiful house, with the beautiful yard I used to work so hard in after work and on weekends, because W#2 had been there for so many years and for so many times while I was at work. It was tainted.
        My new place is much smaller, no yard, and I still have so much to do to make it feel like me. But it’s all mine, and x will never put one foot inside it.
        And the only people using the beds here are invited guests, not skanks sneaking in behind my back.

      • I loved my house, and originally wanted to ask for it in the divorce (in spite of FW saying I would get it “over his dead body”, even though he HATED that house). But after a while, I decided to let it go. FW had had OW over constantly during Covid (we were separated and I was living with my mother) and the whole place felt tainted. That and memories around every corner (most bad). The fact that he’d let it deteriorate to the point where I couldn’t afford to fix what needed fixing didn’t help either.

        So when he said “either you move in or we sell” (because, like, nothing in the house was working anymore due to neglect), I said “let’s sell”. Which I think surprised him. I’m sure he expected me to move in and assume all the expenses and he’d be off the hook.

        Ironically, I did get the house over his dead body. He killed himself a few months after we sold it, and so all the profits (which were being held in an escrow account by our attorney’s pending our divorce) were mine by default.

        Living in my new apartment is so much better for me, emotionally. It may be smaller, and a rental. But he’s never been inside and everything is mine and the way I want it, and so yes, it feels far more like home than my “home” with him did.

    • Yes, their lives would have been great. We would have been squashed into a mere shadow. Great for them, bad for us. I often think about all the women out there who don’t “come to.”

      My ex accused me of alienating our college kids. They had already figured out so much before the split on their own and just went on with their lives. Your son probably knows way more than you think. Ironically, I dreamed last night that he was planning to remarry on the date that would have been our 30th anniversary. In my dream, he was raging at me that I had to force our adult kids to participate when I woke myself up. Just more crazy!

  • “The pain is finite.” That was my mantra. I told myself to trust that it was. It got me through even though I could not see how it could be. I chose to believe. CL’s book gave me permission not to have to fix it, to not blame myself. That permission was huge. And…here I am on the other side of devastation dealing with the normal ups and downs of my life. I closed on my house last week, I have pets (as I write this my cat is trying to put his paw in my coffee), a good job, kids, grandkids and I don’t have to share it with a grumpy, dissatisfied, cheating, entitled fuckwit. Rock on CN!!

  • First:
    I had no idea that some cheaters take perverse pleasure from cheating in plain sight. I mean who would know that??!!

    One time I was in ex’s office when his work partner walked in. I immediately went to hug her hello as I thought we were good friends.
    I looked over her shoulder and saw my ex’s face. He was leaning back in his office chair with his hands clasped over his big belly. I remember being repulsed by the strange, almost sadistic, smirk on his face. I didn’t know why but that unsettled feeling never left.

    Thanks to fellow chumps, I now understand that sick pleasure he was experiencing as I hugged his long standing AP.
    😤🤮

    Second:
    Fellow chumps suggested the book “The Sociopath Next Door”.

    I remember reading on one page the sentence about the list of traits that identify a sociopath. Turned the page to read the number one trait was the ability to make everyone around you feel sorry for you even if there was zero reason to.

    Turning that page send nausea through my entire body. That was my ex’s entire life, right there on a page!

    The judge assigned to our divorce had told me that my ex was one of the worse sociopaths she had seen on the bench. Never understood that until I turned the page in that book.
    💡moment.

    • My XW would invite the coworkers she was screwing to sit down and have lunch with us when I would stop by and have lunch with her. Makes me sick to think about it.

    • Oh Rebecca that reminded me of the time fw broght whore into our house. She was his direct report, he used the ruse of wanting me to be introduced to his DR. That was in the summer of the year of discard. I was already aware that he was not acting right, but I wasn’t yet expecting cheating, and also she didn’t fit the image of anyone I thought he would cheat with.

      Anyway we had just gone on a weekend celebration of our anniversary, and a funny incident had happened, so since it was Grated and funny I was telling her about it. She had the funniest look on her face as she was looking at me, her head was turned toward me, but it was like her eyes were focusing to the side at the wall. Weird. Anyway I glanced at fw who was sitting on the other side of the room (not where her eyes were focused) and he was just staring at her with a weird startled look on his face. Of course I didn’t put it together until Dday, but likely he was thinking oh shit whore is going to clobber me about this when we are alone. But I remember having that weird feeling.

      Our anniversary was Jul 3rd, so this was likely just a week or so later. That trip included sex and I am sure by then he was telling her there was no sex between us. Even though sex was not mentioned, I am sure she was thinking it.

    • Ugh, same here, Rebecca. There is real pleasure for them to put their unsuspecting prey side by side. In my case, a few weeks after d-day, he was already kicked out of the house and still crying with grief-stricken apologies. I was beginning to soften and help him get on with his life. I even gave him my favorite plant and offered to help him decorate his apartment. Soon I found out that the “guest” listed in our family’s Netflix account is actually AP!!! So all these years, I have been sharing an account with this woman and she was still using it. I almost passed out when that hit me. I just felt so violated. I actually was wide awake for 48 hours just trying to wrap myself around the depravity of it all.

    • My ex was cheating with a coworker of BOTH of us. And she had kids around our son’s age and WOULD COME OVER TO MY HOUSE so the kids could have “play dates”. I used to cook dinner for everyone. We went places together. It was SO FUCKED UP.

  • I was a teenager when my parents divorced, so saw the destruction it caused my family. So I was going to try to reconcile with my XW no matter what. This blog helped me to see the light.

    1) That her apology was a non apology apology.
    2) Helped me to stand up to my XW’s gaslighting.
    3) Was this marriage acceptable to me?
    4) Helped me accept that so many of us have lost our in laws who have sided with our ex’s.
    5) That being a trusting person is OK even though my XW used it against me.
    6) I have remarried, so this community has helped me fix my picker.
    7) Being the sane parent despite the XW trying parental alienation.
    8) That I have a community of people who understand what it is like being a Chump.
    9) Helped me to forgive myself for being so “stupid” while being cheated on.
    10) I use to make excuses for why she cheated. Blamed it on myself, although there was things I did wrong in the marriage. I didn’t deserve the physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and sexual abuse. They didn’t make mistakes, but they made horrible CHOICES!

    I could go on and on. My psychiatrist, therapist, friends, family and church elders have helped me out a lot. My therapist and psychiatrist both told me she was a narcissist or BPD. They all encouraged me to divorce her. I have left a cheater and gained a life and you can also.

    • The non-apology apologies are still ringing in my ears.

      I remember him saying one time “I’m sorry, it was clumsy of me to say that.” Wow. Not “that was wrong of me to say”, or even a lie to say he didn’t mean it, just “it was a slip up to let you know what I really think of you.”

  • I kept a notebook too. My mom suggested I make a list of the good things about him being gone, and once I sat down and actually did so, I was amazed at how long it got. And the adage “Birds of a feather” truly applies. He was friends with cheaters and would tell me about them and I was always surprised because he loudly decried cheating. If his friends are lose with marriage vows, he is too, despite what he says to your face.

    • Same. My ex would always talk about cheaters and say how trashy it was. He also groomed me for years toward accepting an open marriage by talking about his friends who had an “open marriage” – and also goading me into the “pick me” dance.

  • The ex: no manscaping, merely mansculpting. He bought special underpants with fitted shaping in the key areas of the genitals and bottom. All was carried high and in front. ExgfOW had seen it all before on their two separate rounds of the block 30 years previously. She knew that, no matter how enhanced the external package, what was inside was a meagre treat. And that pretty much sums him up: shiny, cheap and very, very empty.

    Great challenge!

  • Excellent, educational thread. After all this time, it’s tempting to think I don’t have much to learn, but that is never accurate.

    Thanks, CN, for the perspectives and stories. I didn’t want to need them, but I do, and I appreciate you.

  • So mine didn’t come from CN – I found it much later in my infidelity journey. When my FW did a 180 on me, I was convinced it was depression (he gaslighted me when I asked if he was involved with someone else, and there were other issues that could have thrown a person into a slump). I was barely able to function and went on anti-depressants for the first time ever. My older sister wanted me to leave him and said “explain to me again why YOU are on anti-depressants because HE is depressed?” Funny how I left him and all my physical/mental/emotional ailments went away too.

  • My ex and I were never connected on social media. I didn’t think much of it at the time bur now I see that it was part of his desire to keep me separate from other parts of his life.

    Never again will I deal with the separate social media thing. It seems like a small thing but it’s telling.

    • Kim: I realize that now too. He never accepted my friendship request saying he never uses social media. Why have it at all then? The only pleasure I get out of it now is that he isn’t FB friends with OW either! Oh oh, OW, there might be a side chick in the making.

      • Ha. Mine actually was fb friends with his whore….I saw a whole bunch of pm’s. He initially denied it but when he realized I knew he gave me a bullshit story of how she got him on fb and was his first fb friend. He claimed to not remember the last time they communicated.

        Of course right after I left him multiple texts and calls daily showed up on his cell plan as he was still on my plan. He’d been having her call him at work before that. He went from not remembering when they last spoke to many times a day communication.

        Get the fuck out of here.

        • Kim that reminds me – my ex would FB post 1 thing to a set of friends that i knew and was a part of, and would post something else (or maybe the same) to a group with her and who knew her and him were together. (Thanks FB for making it even easier to lie and cheat!)
          He puts more effort living his multiple lives than he ever put a fraction into his own growth.

    • Kim I didnt even realise until after separation Ex had not liked or commented on one post I had made on FB ever. I hadnt even noticed because maybe I had my head up my arse too (probably trying to avoid facing the truth that I was married to a dick). I worked out later (because of things he said and general attitude) he had probably read everything and had smoke coming out of his ears the whole time ~ because it was evidence of my existence separate to him. It’s not just them being secretive ~ it’s pathological envy as well.

  • each day that i read CL i learn that i’m not alone, that my X is deeply unoriginal in his moves, that i’ll get through, that there are opportunities to thrive during the mess. that humour is a good, good thing. that consulting and working with a lawyer is imperative.

  • I learned too much to even write about. It’s engrained after all these years. I’m amazed constantly that this blog has so many profound, insightful and funny contributors. Seriously…comments are FUNNY when the subject is so tragic! Go figure? (Special shout out to UX World’s song parodies!)

  • Even before DDay I knew there was something terribly wrong with our marriage. We had already scheduled an appointment with a marriage counselor and I was looking forward to it so I could find out what I was doing wrong to make him so upset with me (I could do nothing right) and fix it. Even after DDay I was blaming myself and wracking my brains about everything I must have been doing wrong and tying myself into knots trying to be everything he wanted me to be (pick me dancing) while simultaneously being very angry with him for his betrayal but not wanting to show my anger too forcefully. About two weeks after DDay, when my self esteem was a rock bottom because of all of my self reflection focused on all of my worst faults real and imagined, he turned to me and asked “Have you done any self reflection at all?” That was the moment at which I realized he had not done any. The good news is, that was also the moment I came to my senses and realized that he was the one with a problem not me and I was not going to be able to fix it. I still hung on to the hopium for way too many months thinking he might eventually get his head out of his…er…come to his senses and come home, but the epiphany that got me out of that one came later.

    • Chumpinrecovery I’m also the one who was waiting for him to get his head out…he even used that phrase to me about the whole thing. I bought it. I really believed he wanted to.

  • 1. I learned about the “secret sexual basement” article and this changed my life because it was my situation to a tee
    2. That cheaters blame shift so badly that it’s your fault because of things like buying bagged lettuce 😂
    3. That there are many people out there who just can’t attach and bond to their partner and thus cannot feel empathy when they hurt you even when you shared most of your life with someone- they simply write you off and leave you as just collateral damage- it’s unfortunate that I had to learn how common this is
    4. That emotional abuse and mind fucking are real- you feel so crazy when you’re in it. It’s an amazing epiphany to realize it’s simply a tactic being used to control you and you’re not actually going crazy- it’s not you, it’s them

  • Kids are not any more “resilient” than we are… but they can come through this process of creating a family without a fuckwit cheater in it if they have ONE SANE PARENT (yes, that’s you).

    Cheaters are hardwired to their own sense of entitlement. Only years of intensive therapy could potentially help a cheater “recover”. Ever see one want to work that hard at anything?

    It isn’t your fault. You can’t “cause” a person to cheat on you… ever.

    If you want to build a cheater free life, CL and CN are your tribe.

  • STD testing. Get STD testing.

    I never considered it, even after I had several DDays. Because I did not have symptoms. But I had already had several sinus surgeries to remove a recurring papilloma. One surgeon mentioned that they are thought to be caused by HPV. 36 year marriage & I started needing surgery 2 years after we married. The XH helped me through at least 7 surgeries, meaning he stayed in the hospital room with me prior to surgery, he was the first to receive the news that the surgery was successful, and he drove me home.
    After finding CL, I asked my GYN to do a full panel. Yup, HPV. The high risk strain.
    Now coincidentally, I had invasive new growth, that made my eye socket swell, during the separation when I moved out. Luckily it was benign so surgery was 3 months later. The next year, my HPV test came back negative! I guess my body finally cleared the virus when the FW was cleared from my life!

    • Ugh…I’m sorry and am glad you cleared it.

      I had a high risk HPV infection a few years after I started dating the ex. I didn’t know at the time that he’d been seeing whore.

      Much later when I found out and put the timeline together I told him about it. Then I said “I don’t suppose you and your disgusting whore know anything about that?”.

      He got really upset because he was extremely image conscious and unpleasant things were not to be spoken in polite society (but you can be a nasty piece of shit as long as nobody knows).

      I know he was nervous because he’d mentioned that he read that certain head and neck cancers were showing up in older men thanks to HPV, and the thought that his whore really was trash was upsetting to mister image.

      Oh well for him. I cleared it with no issues that I know of.

  • 1) While checking into a hotel, Fraudster asked for a service discount and was told we already had a discounted room. I asked him later how we could get a service discount when we hadn’t had any service yet, let alone bad service. Thanks to a comment here, I belatedly realized he was trying to get a military discount, although he never served.
    2) On DDay I discovered his his online AP. and immediately debunked her/him to him as a catfisher. Thanks to CL, I realized that his willingness to go to MC was just a stall tactic and he was already checked out of the marriage.
    3) Other chumps had seen the cold, dead shark eyes and revulsion.
    4) That “good” friends can vanish or turn into flying monkeys, and why.

    Many. many other comments here hit home. I copy them and paste into emails I send to myself. Chump Lady and Chump Nation were my support through separation, which encompassed Covid shut-downs.

  • What a great challenge….I received support to survive during the worst time of my life and learned that the pain is finite.

    More importantly, I realized this morning that over the years of reading this blog since my divorce, I’ve learned that I deserve so much more than many are willing/able to give me. Having sympathy/empathy for all the chump stories accidentally helped me internalize healthy boundaries. I expect nothing but reciprocity in all of my relationships now. (I learned the concept of reciprocity on this blog, prior I gave until I bled in all my relationships and somehow didn’t know I deserved something too). Thanks CL and Chump Nation!

  • I realized why my ex was so grumpy and angry and distracted all the time.
    I realized why my friend was suddenly going above and beyond, like claiming she liked removing wallpaper and giving me presents.

  • For me, it’s when I read something that another poster went through & it was the very same thing I went through! Finally, I’m vindicated! I’m not crazy, unhappy, depressed, or a person with bad karma like the exFW used to throw at me. Gaslighting is such an insidious problem in our society. I’m glad there’s a bigger awareness. I spot it in my parent’s interactions, my siblings, even my aunt tried that on me this summer on a visit to her home! No wonder with that type of family grooming that I ignored my intuition & didn’t see the forest for the trees with what my ex FW was up to!

    • Wow, I agree so much with what you said about gaslighting being insidious. My parents used gaslighting in such innocent ways, unknown to them. When I wanted my room painted bright purple, they told me “You can’t like that color!” and painted the room lilac. When I said I didn’t like to eat herring, my dad said, “UpAndOut, you don’t know what’s good.” He offered me herring once a week, whenever he ate it, for years! These types of responses were made in jest & I knew that, but still, over 18-22 years I think it affected my confidence. It taught me to accept people who tell me what they want to tell me, often about myself instead of the issue at hand, and who totally ignore my responses to them. That home life was combined with a complete refusal to acknowledge feelings. I was told by my mom “if you’re going to cry about it, go to your room.” Overall they were good, conscientious parents but they totally sucked in this area of emotions and communication.

      Now I’m in my 60’s and my dad is still alive. I like to hear his opinions.He is highly intelligent, well traveled, he has an extraordinary memory for history. Overall I like him & respect him. He & the rest of my extended family have always been open to all types of discussions, but with me & my brothers, it often turns into an argument. It takes an extraordinary effort to get him to answer a question. I may ask his opinion on a current issue. He will answer by telling me the knowledge in his head that comes to mind first. Then I’ll ask again for his opinion. Then, he often says “UpAnd Out, you can’t believe XYZ” and he begins a rant about the issue. If I have patience, I can then explain I do not believe XYZ, that I am insulted that he thought I believed XYZ and that I am asking for his opinion on XYZ. I make the effort with my dad to have a rational discussion because it’s worth it. But there’s something definitely off with him & I hear a lot from him that would be considered gaslighting.

      • My parents cared tremendously for our physical & intellectual & financial needs, and taught us incrementally how to take on responsibility. When they said something, they meant it & they gave assistance for things like homework, learning how to do chores, getting part time jobs, college applications, etc. They were trustworthy- if they said they would do something, they did it. I learned to trust that their actions would follow what they said.
        The biggest shock to me was learning that XH was not trustworthy in this way. I trusted his promises. I trusted in his remorse. I trusted that when he said he was sorry and would never do it again (use a hooker) that he would follow through. I never realized that more lurked under the surface, that “ one time” was probably hundreds of times.
        When I found CL, I initially struggled with Tracy’s UBT. I caught myself wanting to believe the apology letters from cheaters! Thank goodness she would insert her snarky version of the liar’s words. And I’d read all the comments from CN. Over 3 years (!) I became more critical and able to ask – are these just words? Why is there no action to back them up?
        Thank you CL and CN!

  • My ex-wife used to get into super duper panic mode — like pacing the house endlessly worried — if she was even a day late on her period. I had a vasectomy after we had our child (at her behest), so I couldn’t understand why. She would always gaslight me by telling me she knew multiple people who got pregnant after vasectomies (so why would you ask me to get one if you don’t think they work?). Low and behold, later came out five affairs that I know about, including a 2.5 year long one with her boss that coincided with this time.

    I felt so damn stupid in retrospect.

  • I posted this yesterday, but I think it’s appropriate for today as well.

    My FW adamantly refused to get a vasectomy. I had been on birth control for over 15 years and I was concerned about the long term effects of hormonal birth control, especially as I got older. He flatly refused to even consider getting a vasectomy. Said “No way! Will never happen.” So I resigned myself to remaining on birth control pills until menopause. When lo and behold, out of the blue he told me he didn’t want me taking the pills anymore and had decided to get a vasectomy. I was thrilled and thought he was being such a good and caring husband for putting my health above his discomfort. 🙄 How naive and trusting I was.
    I would bet money that the real reason for his sudden change of heart was an “oops” pregnancy.

  • A lesson I learned from others, but mostly too late: become a quiet spy when you first discover cheating. Choose your confrontations carefully and strategically. Because however bad your discovery, there’s almost certainly a boatload more that you haven’t discovered (and should).

    Additional revelation: FWs really do tend to follow similar patterns, no matter how original they think they are. Which means that they only admit what they -know- you have them on (and usually DARVO the hell out of that). Everything else will get denied with overwhelming energy. So make sure you have evidence for things they don’t know you have evidence for.

    The reason? Seeing them lie dramatically will clear the fog. You’ll understand what they’re really capable of, and who they really are. Once you’re there, everything starts its painful march toward your better life.

    • Yes! After my second d-day, I told my therapist and his that I wanted him to take a polygraph. He tried to weasel a lot of it by saying that it taking one would be traumatic to him. But I knew he has to take one for his job so that was bs. So then he resorted to many many delayed tactics until I found him talking sweet nothings to somebody on the other end of his phone while we were visiting my parents.

    • So true! We did a formal disclosure, even did a course on it to be well prepared. Lots of talking about how destructive to any rebuilding lying is. And he still lied, seemingly effortless. I realised then that he could never be trusted. Lying is second nature to him, en telling the truth a foreign concept that seems to scare him even.

  • During the divorce, at a particularly trying time, I was in an unfortunate situation with the ex’s BIL, who told me…Dickhead has a hard time committing. What the fuck? We weren’t in a 1 year relationship but married almost 18 years. I knew then that there was so much more that I didn’t know.

  • I walked out on a Sunday afternoon after spending a week moving my clothes, some beloved dishes, photos and personal folders into a storage room. I left while he was gone. I had intended to do a final car packing and then await his return so that I could do the ‘fair thing’ and tell him. I could not make myself wait for his return and scratched a note. It was only when the constant annoyance with me had stopped that I realized how abusive he had been. Nearly physical, but not quite. I pretty much flinched every time he opened his mouth.

    Several years later I came across CL and finally forgave myself for leaving ‘unfairly’ and without notice. The irony was I knew he had lied about where he was going to be that afternoon. He was supposed to be at a cast party but had given me the wrong location and suggested there was no need for me to attend it. He did not know I had already been invited and knew the right location.

    • I still feel kinda bad that I sold most of his comic book collection from our storage unit- and that was 2 years after the last DDay!

      • After FW died, I sold his comic collection and used the money to pay for his cremation.

        And I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. He’d spent SO MUCH money on comics ($60-80 a WEEK), even when we were in such bad financial straights we nearly lost our home. If I dared suggest that he cut back (not stop, just stop buying two of everything), he’d get angry that I didn’t want him to have anything nice, and he worked so hard, etc. etc.

  • CL and CN epiphany: It’s ok.

    It’s ok to not reconcile. It’s ok to not forgive, be friends, pretzel, or spackle. No is a complete sentence. It’s ok if someone thinks you’re bitter. It’s ok if the FW thinks you should’ve tried harder, or that you’re a bad spouse, or being a bitch. It’s ok to divorce for “one mistake,” rather than waste years of your life rearranging deck chairs, even though some people will always think you’re petty. It’s ok to laugh at it all.

    When I first read CL, I was afraid to agree. I was a member of an “infidelity” site that was grounded in the RIC, but had a pretty good & honest women’s forum. I learned a lot from them too. I learned how painful and difficult it is to keep oneself in abuse. To keep being the marriage police, keep untangling the skein – in most cases, forever. Even under the RIC doctrine so many women finally just said, “fuck it all, he’s just a bad person and I have to move on.” It started to sound like they (I) needed…*insert superhero music*…Chump Lady. So I started reading.

    From DDay on I felt a visceral disgust with the RIC, couldn’t give the “right” answers in counseling, couldn’t even look at the FW. My gut knew what the right answer was, I just needed CL and CN to tell me that it was ok. I also needed a logical narrative to back up my gut feeling, and that was LACGAL. It makes logical sense therefore it’s ok. I’m so grateful this place exists to free people from the RIC.

  • Weird thing, someone I previously considered to be a good friend started playing a lot of Words with Friends. Then she started mentioning, ‘Joe’ again and again and I just sensed that that wasn’t at all good. Would you know it, she left her husband and she’s now with him.

    My signs of being cheated on were very pedestrian, I’m afraid, and near identical each time. A growing need for sPaCe for no reason, increasing lack of interest in my life or anything I said, evasion and defensiveness, the constant mention of someone else’s name, escalating abuse. The stupidly insulting request that I ‘get a hobby’ despite the fact I’d previously had several which had to be sacrificed to make the relationshit work.

    It’s never enough to cheat on you, they always seem to need to bring you down a hell of a lot of pegs. You must be framed as pathetic when in actuality, THEY were the needy ones with their fcking stupid, ridiculous requests. I think a lot of them get off on bringing a seemingly strong woman down and then they get bored when they ‘win’, it’s psychotic.

    A lot of cheaters have gotten away with their filth for 20 or so years exactly because no one took online seriously. Some still don’t, my own father would tell me that no one can cheat online. Too much focus on physicality and none on deceit, exposure to STDs and the fact that affairs often do manifest as other abusive behaviours too.

    Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are obvious places to look and are the online equivalent of, “do you come here often”. I’d also look at any ‘recently uninstalled apps’ and if there are none there, you can actually try installing things like Tinder, etc – uninstalling apps doesn’t sign you out.

    But I’d say keep an eye on the platforms with supposed plausible deniability; any PARASOCIAL RELATIONSHIP red flags.

    Are they a part of a ‘Twitch Community’, are they in a creator’s private Discord server, are they ‘collabing’ and passing it off as work, do they have an OnlyFans account (an OnlyFans account should be an instant relationship-ender, there’s NO legitimate reason to have it)? It’s so easy for them and any enablers to gaslight you with, “it’s just online”, “they just like the same games”, “it’s a cOmMuNiTy”, “they’re just helping with the channel”, etc but here’s the truth; mutual or not, ‘your person’ is consistently giving inappropriate attention to another person and maybe for the world to see. That’s more than enough reason to drop them.

    Online or offline, relationships should never feel precarious. You aren’t IN competition – you ARE the competition.

    Get rid of, “right but it was never physical” and replace it with, “do I feel like I’m a priority and that my opinion is heard and well-considered, do I feel safe”. If the answer is no, it’s no. Don’t gaslight yourself with, “it must be my depression/insecurity/anxiety, I’m so lucky they tolerate me”.

    I feel like a lot of us unknowingly latch onto the physicality part for fear of being seen as unreasonable to others but the truth is that people outside the relationship AREN’T IN IT. So they don’t get a say.

  • Words with friends… ✔️
    Manscaping…✔️
    Shark eyes when caught in a lie✔️
    Picking fights during discard…✔️

    Also, just reflecting while reading this great Friday Challenge,
    He would talk about his co workers (there were two, one “just” an EA, and the other, whom he ultimately left me for) Well, I remember now, he would talk about them, bring up little anecdotes from their work day together, and then suddenly I wouldn’t hear about them anymore, to the point I asked him if AP number 1 had left the company…
    AP number 2 – was always cast as a poor victim of her abusive husband. Always had a sob story about her, and THAT’S why he would walk with her during their lunch breaks. She needed a friend. And then suddenly- never heard about her again either, til the end.
    I have read on here that that is common too.
    This went on our whole marriage. He was always helping out some “friend”
    CN has helped me as others have said, to realize : I am not alone.
    I have a community here that TOTALLY understands how soul destroying infidelity is.
    My sisters all have happy marriages. As understanding as they have been with me, there’s nothing I could say to them to get them to truly understand this pain.
    Once I said, “imagine if your husband came home tonight, told you he met someone else that made him happier than you do and he wants to explore that…”
    She replied: “He would NEVER do that. !!!”
    And that’s it in a nutshell – until you have experienced that trauma, you have no idea that it can happen that suddenly and does happen.
    Grateful for the understanding, support, shared grief and most importantly our shared triumphs in gaining a life.

    • Yes, the shark eyes. It amazed me when I first read of others who had experienced that same phenomenon. Still gives me chills when I think of those dead eyes, even now. Almost 3 years later.

  • On D-day, I found CL while frantically googling stuff about infidelity. Immediately, I downloaded and read LAC;GAL. Soon after, I found this site. Thank God for CL and CN. Life savers (and that’s not an exaggeration).

    One of my first observations when I found this site was that so many chumps were still writing here even though they were years out of their marriages and/or remarried. It hit me that the pain of infidelity will last even while people move on. I have to be honest: this upset me at first. I thought that my pain would never end.

    But the more I read, the more I realized that chump pain diminishes over time, mostly because it’s eclipsed by a new, better life. And all chumps here reported being happier when they were free of the cheater. This gave me hope!

    Over time, I’ve appreciated the humor and insights of CL and CN. I love feeling that I’m not alone, that others share my experience, that cheaters use the same playbook.

    Here are a sampling of helpful nuggets:
    1. Trust that he sucks.

    2. If this relationship acceptable to me?

    3. It doesn’t matter if he’s better for the next person (and he probably isn’t), what’s important is that he sucked for me.

    4. Nothing fucks with a narcissist more than NO CONTACT.

    5. Have self-compassion.

    6. “They cheat because they can, because they feel entitled to cheat, because it doesn’t hurt them to hurt us, because they aren’t that deep.” CL

    7. From Dr. Omar Minwalla: “People who hold sexual secrets and maintain a deceptive sexual reality and life while pretending to be in an honest relationship or family system are engaging in a form of abusive covert dominance and control.”

    8. Cheating is abuse.

    9. You win the emotional tug of war with the abuser by letting go of the rope.

    10.” Feelings follow actions. We can have crushes, gooey feelings and attractions. It’s what we do (or don’t do) about it. There are a million decisions between gooey feelings and cheating.” (I think this is from Velvet Hammer. Sorry if I misquoted).

    11. “Wonderful people don’t screw around with married people. And wonderful married people don’t screw around.” Dr. Pittman

    12. Karma is those two living with each other. The best revenge is gaining a life.

    13. He hasn’t changed for her. He can’t change.

    14. The goal is “meh!”

    15. Fix my picker. Easier said than done, but this site has helped me identify red flags.

    16. True friends reveal themselves when you’ve been chumped.

    17. Prepare to lose in-laws. [That said, my niece on his side of the family just invited me to her wedding. Not him. It’s his own brother’s kid. He’ll figure out a way to blame me for this slight, I’m sure.

    18. Kids can smell BS.

    19. Many cheaters–esp the covert narc types–will sad sausage their way through life, blaming anyone but themselves for the consequences of their behavior.

    There are so many more, but I’ll stop. I’m incredibly grateful for CL and this community.

    Thanks.

    • I think it is true that some pain will endure. Manageable but endure.

      Also, I think a lot of us are here to help others. I have also doe some things in real life to help women who have been blindsided at mid life.

      Oh how I wish CL or someone like her had been around when I got hit by that Mack truck. I basically cowered in the fetal position until I started to figure things out. I did have an amazing Dad and Brother who were my life line, this was before cell phones and cheap phone plans, I know they spent hundreds of dollars because I talked to one or both of them every day for many months. We were 900 miles apart.

      I like your list.

  • When I had to have cervical cancer surgery (from the HPV HE GAVE ME) he left me waiting for hours, until the surgery center was about to close.

    He also, when I first found out I would need surgery and my doctor was trying to get me in ASAP ( it was moving fast and there’d been a massive screw up from the lab which had not sent results for six months) said “but I was going to go see my parents that day. Can’t you rebook it?” He saw them every month.

    I made a full recovery btw and am FW free.

    When I had to have a hysterectomy years later, my boyfriend immediately said “what can I do? what days do you need me?” and he was here and available. He did a ton of work and waited on me hand and foot.

    • God they’re so awful aren’t they. Sorry you went through that Lia.

      Mine was on a business trip to USA (we’re in UK) when I had my hpv-induced cervical procedure in 2012, so my friends had to babysit and chauffeur me to hospital because he wouldn’t cancel the trip as it was “important”.

      He also wanted to leave me to find my own way home from hospital and stay home alone after extensive ankle surgery this year so he could go watch some live sports matches in a city 3 hours away.

      They really do suck!

  • I didn’t realize this until hindsight kiced in, but one of the first things that gave me a “hmmm” moment was when he told me one of the guys screwed his girlfriend in his office. I thought it was odd in that why would this guy tell fw that, I mean even if they were friends, and why would he tell me. Then I realized that he had been telling me about things other guys were doing. I realized he was confessing not gossiping.

  • One that I just thought about was years before D day. I just happened to open a credit card bill & saw a charge to an Asian (I thought nail place). Maybe 1/2 charges. I immediately contacted the card & the rep was like you have to check with the other user. I called my ex & he said his friend took him to a rundown massage place for massages. I googled the place the website looked weird, but for some reason I let it go. In 2017 I full on accused him of having weird charges on the card again. He finally confessed, a few days later blamed me. I had no idea “happy endings” were a real thing. I was pregnant with my 3rd child & weak. It was like being struck by lightning. We have a court date set & I’m finally leaving!

  • Oh, the manscaping. A sure sign that his dick is #allimportant. Also new clothes, making sure I couldn’t attend “conferences” he was going to. And ramped up demands for “privacy”.

    For me, though, and the one that FINALLY hit me over the head was the realization that he was a LIAR. Pure and simple. And he wasn’t going to stop lying.

    I want honesty and transparency, and I wasn’t going to get it from him.

    • Yep. Once you realize they lie, it’s over. You can’t trust a liar. And you can’t have a partnership without trust.

      Note: x argues up and down that he only lied about one thing–the affair (and every day for almost 3 years). Of course, that, too, is a lie. He can’t help himself at this point. Mind you, he’s always attacked liars and positioned himself on a moral high horse. It’s really remarkable.

  • I have learned so much from CL and CN! This blog has been a lifeline for me. A few of the biggest takeaways for me have been:
    – shared history does not equal depth of character. I repeat this to myself often, especially since I can’t go NC because of children with FW.
    – the importance of Boundaries!
    – I am mighty and meh will come. Knowing that so many others have reached meh lets me know I can too!

  • Just from this week, this turned on a light for me – ‘…we also have “supports any and every crazy decision I have ever made.” But, that could just be spackle for “totally checked out.”

    Loving partners tend to be all up in your business. You’re wearing that? No, we do not need another pinecone elf. I think you should see someone about that hacking cough. Etc.’

    I see now that my ex was totally checked out for a while. I definitely spackled this as support at the time though.

  • Hello Chump Nation, It has been more than 20 years since my D-day, and 17 since we split. I continue to find inspiration in this forum. Tracy, bless you bringing us all together:)

    Re signs of cheating: business trips that included Friday or Saturday night; sudden passion for working out and manscaping; suddenly becoming the target of narcissistic rage.

    Nuggets of wisdom gleaned from CN: you are Mighty! and you are great just the way you are; hope for getting to “Meh”; you aren’t alone, and while your family and friends may not understand what you are really going through, there are plenty of other people, re: CN, who understand exactly what you are feeling; there is no bottom to the humiliations you may experience, but you will move beyond them and be stronger and wiser; you will laugh again, a lot and long.

  • That time or two HE had something weird happening with his junk. Oh god was he panicked. And thank Jesus he did not transmit anything to me…or at least nothing that produced symptoms or wasn’t fought off by my body. Never did I think he had cheated. Trust in your spouse is magic like that.

    Not wanting me to see the credit card statement, even though I would take care of these regularly. Then a semi-confession to patronizing one of *those* massage parlors. They really do want you to grapple with the “well, if they didn’t actually have sex” question, because it is an absolute mindfuck. He was cheating/paying women for more than hand jobs, and for who knows how long.

    • Omg! I am having an epiphany now. A couple of times he said his “junk” was itchy because he had chemicals on his hands at work and went to the bathroom so he touched himself with dirty hands. He has to use large bulky special gloves to handle the chemicals so there is no way. Oh wow!

      • Please don’t feel dumb. We all fell for lies like that, since we are not by nature deceptive people.

        As I progressed in my long recovery from the lying, cheating loser, I changed my user name to reflect my newfound sense of peace and self-acceptance. I hope that someday soon you too will be able to update your name.

  • In my lists of copied CL and CN pearls, here are my top three:

    1. “No” is a complete sentence.

    2. “The point is — *miracles*. Slow-motion miracles. One day you’ll be on the other side.”

    3. “Forgiving the ex-husband would have no more effect on him than forgiving a septic tank. They’re both still full of shit. My forgiveness is irrelevant. Their essential being is unchanged.”

    Big love and big hugs to CL and CN!

    • Another one I just thought of as I was reading your list.

      “They don’t get a personality transplant when they begin a relationship with AP.”

  • My biggest lesson from on here especially from reading Velvet hammer’s comments from way back then, unicornnomore, chumpnomore,susielee,Katie pig and other great ladies here is to -Trust that they suck! To really believe it and stop making excuses for abuse. I started reading the blog 8 post Dday and by the time ‘ Trust that they suck & Is this relationship acceptable to you?’ Sunk in and finally moved out, I realized I had picked me danced my way into a 2nd pregnancy 3-4 weeks after moving out. A shock considering everything it had taken me to have the guts to leave. But here I am 5 days to delivery thanks to the encouraging ‘ getting a life stories from all chumped men and women of CN. Enjoy your fuckwit free weekend everybody!!!

  • If it feels good, don’t do it.

    Thanks to Mr. CL, I had my dad (retired lawyer) read every single OFW email before I sent it to FW. Dad invariably excised the last paragraph where my rage and frustration leaked through. Keep it family judge clean! FW escalated the flame war, trying to goad me into an explosion. Nothing doing. But I did forward the threatening ones to our kid’s school, FW’s work, our church, his mother . . . Hahaha! Jesus Cheater image took quite the self-inflicted hit.

  • OH this is perfect fopr me today. I am ending a relationship at the moment. I am moving out of state. I can now clarly see how I am trauma bonded with this person. More healing to come.

  • It’s serendipitous that a fellow chump travelling through, rang me today and we caught up for coffee and snark. We met during the Tracy and Paul tour down under to Newcastle Australia. How amazing that a single catch up can engender a wonderful friendship forged in the fire of infidelity! Neither of us have Re partnered. We are both happy in our own lives. We reconnected with huge hugs, plenty of emotion and a profound wisdom from our journey. Thank you Tracy, character really does matter and there is absolutely nothing original in the sad tawdry world of infidelity
    That we survived and thrived is due in no small measure to this wonderful community! What’s the take home? 36 years ago; as a young woman, I desperately wanted to be loved and to fit in. 36 years later, I never was and by goodness, I’ll never ever accept the disrespect that comes from the burnt offerings of infidelity. I received less than nothing and I know I defined my marriage with my beautiful friends (yes, they all left with me), with my values and my quality. He will never have that again. His good looks and his perceived status have faded with his age. I have aged in reverse, my planets have aligned and I’m doing better than I ever did in the MIRAGE (thank you VH; love your writing!). Thank you CN; I am happy to pass on my love support and time to the newly minted amongst us! Much love & courage; from little things, big things grow CN!

  • I’ve drawn so much, so much wisdom from the comments here at ChumpLady. One big thing for me – anytime someone has asked, is this marriage acceptable to you? If you find yourself at this corner of the ‘net, the answer is probably no. It’s scary to arrive at that answer bc it means the start of the work (and it IS work) to set yourself free. But really…is the marriage acceptable to you?? Another big thing – stop trying to explain your feelings to the cheater. They don’t get it. Or won’t get it. Stop expending precious, finite energy trying to make them understand. This advice has helped me immensely.

      • Yes eirene for me that was a big wake up call… To know that FW just didn’t care. This helped me move forward.

        As someone once quoted here…. ‘how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a a time!’. This is how it felt, getting through the divorce. Everytime I struggled, everytime FW was nasty via his solicitor (he’d been blocked from being able to contact me directly), everytime I wanted to just give up… I thought about that quote. It helped.

        Hugs to you all, extra hugs for the newbies ❤️

    • Wow Juniper! Your comment really hit a nerve with me!
      I twisted myself in knots trying to explain my feelings to X.
      For years. Such a waste of time.
      Even now, I can see almost like watching a scene from a movie,
      … woman wakes up alone, walks downstairs, sees husband out on deck, smoking, “playing words with friends…” (suuure) he barely acknowledges her presence, (during discard, he’d grunt “what do you want? Another interrogation?!”) and I would be a bundle of anxiety, thinking, this time, I’ll get the wording right, this time he will understand… this time he will see how he is hurting me by his “friendships” with other women. This time…
      Nope. All I ever got was :
      ” you can’t tell me who to be friends with”
      “You’re like my penance”
      “Why are you so insecure”
      “She just feels comfortable around me” and of course the classic-
      “We are just friends”
      Oh I could kick my former self for trying so hard!
      The reality is, talking with my mother who had Alzheimer’s- was easier than ever getting through to X.
      So many wasted years, and too many tears!

  • I’m one of those readers with a folder full of notes. I’ve learned so much from Tracy and all of my fellow chumps! I’m using the pronoun “he” because that is my situation. No slight intended to male chumps or chumps with female partners. Some of my tops are…

    Is this relationship acceptable to you?
    -This is really all you need quite honestly. This one question sums it all up. No matter what your FW is doing or has done, all you have to ask yourself is whether or not it’s acceptable to you. For most of us the answer is no.

    It’s never enough.
    -Through 30 years of marriage I was always troubled by the fact that nothing was ever enough for my FW. Success at work? He needed more. Bought our first house? It’s not big enough. Took a trip overseas? Where are we going next? I was constantly asking him why what we had just wasn’t enough for him. What I didn’t know was that I was also in that category. I had no idea that he was doing whatever he wanted behind my back in his secret sexual basement and that it was escalating over time. Nothing was ever enough for him. That included me. That included his children.

    It doesn’t matter what flavor of fucked up it is. Get away from it.
    -This was from a fellow chump (sorry I don’t remember who). They were commenting on “sex addicts” and how we can do better than “someone who must do the serenity prayer to stay faithful to you”. That hit home HARD.

    He’s not a sex addict.
    -This was another chump (again, I don’t know who, I’ve gotten better at crediting them in my journal now) with brilliant take on “sex addiction” which my FW heavily relies on as his excuse for cheating on me for 30 years. “If he’s addicted to anything, it’s the power of deceit and fucking around on the side. It’s the power of convincing you to invest in him, believe the lie that he is committed to you and safe, while deceiving you and endangering your health. That’s a CONTEMPT problem, not a ‘sex addiction’.”

    He feels he is deserving of abusing you further.
    -My FW desperately wants me back and is hanging on with every fiber of his being. He feels that because he is in SAA now that I should give him another chance. He honestly thinks that just because he goes to meetings that help him not cheat on me now, that I should forgive his THREE DECADES of cheating and deceit. He feels he is entitled to me. Because, as one chump put it “Apparently I’m awful enough to cheat on, but not awful enough to leave”.

    He will find a way to paint himself as the victim.
    -Narcissists will always find a way to blame others. His cheating will end up being your fault in his eyes.

    I could go on and on and on. I literally have hundreds of things saved. Thank you Tracy and Chump Nation for helping me and all of us get through this Hell.

    • I forgot my favorite part of LACGAL!

      “Cheaters suck at self-reflection and other forms of maturity. If they try to answer “why,” they tend toward blameshifting and self-pity. Bad therapy helps a lot with this. With a disordered person, therapy is an opportunity to acquire a whole new vocabulary with which to mindfuck you.”

      This is 100% my STBXFW. He now has three years of SAA and bad therapy under his belt and he uses it to his total advantage. It’s impossible to argue with someone who has a paid for comeback waiting. It’s like being bludgeoned with a self help book.

    • Molly, one evening I walked into a meeting room, sat down, and then I wondered why all those couples kept coming in. Invariably, the men were trailed by wives who seemed to have a strange mix of expressions on their faces: sadness, shame, anger, fear. Yup, it was a SAA meeting, and I was in the wrong room. The images of those women’s faces have stayed with me for years. My heart goes out to anyone else dealing with that humiliation. Hope you’re in a MUCH better place now. And BTW, your comments about “It’s never enough” really hit home. Thank you for your post.

    • Molly, I wouldn’t even believe those meetings are about what he says they are. One of the dirty secrets of the sex addiction con is that they use meetings to find hook-up partners. This is known in 12 step lore as the 13th step. My FW tried to claim sex addiction and started going to a group. This group would have a social gathering after each meeting where they went out on the town together. It’s not hard to
      figure out what that was about. What a joke! I’ve since heard that sort of thing is pretty common and that most of these groups are a scam. The quiz they have new members fill out is designed so that almost anyone qualifies as a sex addict. My FW had a gay guy flirting with him by only his second meeting, and he isn’t even gay. So I doubt your FW is being helped, unless his particular group is unusual.

      • My STBXFW has been in these meetings for three years and I didn’t know any of that, thank you! We are separated so I honestly no longer care what he’s doing, but wow! It makes perfect sense. It’s what scared me about him going to these meetings when we were in the RIC mindfuck blender for the first two years after Dday. Where I live the meetings have stayed online since the pandemic, but before that he was going to in-person meetings with both men and women. That alone should tell everyone these meetings are a joke, It’s like alcoholics going to AA meetings in a bar.

  • There were so, so many signs of cheating that I missed/chose not to pursue for a while because I didn’t want to face the ugly truth. The most salient ones were: 1) A lifelong Protestant LCL suddenly crossing himself after praying (the OW is Catholic). 2) The LCL buying souvenir gifts for the OW and her sons while on a family vacation with us. This was strange to me because he was about the worst gift giver ever for me and our own kids, and more often than not didn’t bring home any souvenirs for us when he traveled without us.

    Likewise, there were so many signs in my mental and physical states that I simply couldn’t cope with him and his coercion and deception anymore. I was often in a state of hypervigilance around him and like others have said, I’d hold my breath at a mere touch if he rolled over in bed.

    There are also so very many nuggets I’ve picked up from CL & CN which have sustained me in this past year since leaving my husband of 27 years, especially “Trust that they suck”. My body knew this before my mind did. I’m so grateful to have found this site! Most days it has become the first thing I read each morning.

    • OBND…. Your comment made me recall the time I found a toy Whiffle Ball set hidden in X’s truck.
      Our kids were late teens early 20’s by then.
      When I questioned him ( I was still totally in the dark…) he told me he bought it for us!
      Can you imagine? 😂
      Only later I found out the
      mate – poacher at his job had two young boys – ages 5 and 9 at the time.
      What a chump I WAS.
      And what an awful excuse for a man he was/is. And a liar!
      A shark eyed liar.

      • Hugs, TooManyTears! These are difficult realizations to come to. I LOVE the use of ‘WAS’ for you, and ‘was/is’ for your shark-eyed liar. Those “being verbs” have power in their meaning, imho.

  • Tons of Amazon orders by FW XW that were puzzling at the time: many types of vaginosis creams, mouth sore creams, vaginal health supplements, tons of anti-infective meds (oral, topical). All of these were never ordered before but coincided with timing of a few weeks into the affair. Poor thing’s AP slept around a lot, so she was really exposed, good thing she stopped having sex with me by this time, saved me! Also, she started carrying tons of intimate wipes everywhere: in the car, all her purses and pockets, etc.
    Man, was I blind but she was basically a petri dish incubating all of APs bacteria he picked up from all the married ladies, lol!

  • I think it was a few months after I’d moved out of our house, to live at my Mom’s, that I found ChumpLady. What a revelation it was! To put it in the simplest terms, you gave me strength. The wisdom here just washed over me, and I started to feel so strong. I established boundaries, and took no more shit from him.
    One thing I remember being stunned to learn here- that cheaters can be jealous and possessive. I thought it meant he loved me so much, but no, he’d been cheating our entire mirage, ugh!
    Really, bravo ChumpLady and Chump Nation! We are mighty!

  • Things I learned at Chump Nation: ( they are limitless, here’s a few that come to mind) :

    “ TRUST THAT THEY SUCK!!!” ( Amen to that!! it’s like the first commandment of chumphood)
    “ IS THIS RELATIONSHIP ACCEPTABLE TO YOU?!” ( another earth shattering quote)
    Dr. Minwalla’s secret sexual basement material.
    “ Cheating is abuse”. ( revolutionary knowledge)
    That cheating is only the tip of the iceberg of abuses going down.
    That forgiveness isn’t a prerequisite to healing.
    Books recom by Dr George Simon ( In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbances)
    Dr. Frank Pittman’s work
    The Body Keeps the Score ( van der Kolk)
    Dr Ramani’s work and podcasts.
    Endless quotes from some pretty wise chumps! ( I don’t have them organized, so I’ll try and pull up a few on my notes)
    “ I’ve earned the right to be done”
    “ It’s not your job to teach him remedial decency”
    “ I don’t need to be friends with someone who burned down my house.”
    “For every admission, there is a deeper darker truth that will hurt you more.”
    “ He’s shown you who he is, believe him.”
    “Even if I could guarantee a future partner wouldn’t cheat (which we can’t), I have my own stuff going on in my life & places I want to go, people I want to see, that don’t involve me being a Sherpa to some dude’s life.”
    “ when they can’t choose, they are not choosing you”.
    “Never make someone a priority in your life when all you are is an option.”
    “When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth.”
    “Serial cheaters think 4 minutes ahead instead of 15 years.”
    Learning about box breathing
    Something is very wrong when you are living in “ eggshell manor”.
    The term DARVO ( “ I’m in the DARVO bento box” Lol, CL brings joy to tragedy, what a blessing she is!)
    “ Cheaters never trade up”
    “ Everything you need to know is in their actions.”
    “ Give up on all hope of a better past.”
    Closure is not coming.
    “ The eye doesn’t see what the mind doesn’t know”.
    “ they aren’t becoming a better version for someone else”
    The goal is to get to “ meh”.
    The discussion on the “ shark eyes” was most eye opening. I’d 100% experienced it, but I don’t think it moved to my conscious awareness until it was shared. Probably similar with so many eye openers on this site. I am always flabbergasted at the similarities of the experiences. It’s always amazes me, but it validates my experience like no therapist on earth would be able to do. It’s hard not to keep reading, because I am always learning something new about my own experience and the sharing is so helpful to healing. I have HUGE gratitude for finding CL and CN, I think I would still be spinning in the deep fog of pain and confusion way more than I am even four years out.
    My pain isn’t gone, I think it will be my partner through life, that’s sad and okay simultaneously.
    I feel and love so deeply, on a different more present level, than I believe I ever would have been capable of getting to without the tremendous trauma of the experience. I am not the same person working on exiting this experience as I was entwined in it. I feel a core strength now that is not capable of being torched to the earth again. Like a force field from surviving trauma that will protect me.
    I listen to Jordan Peterson, who I think is a very wise, intelligent and caring man. I always thought that feeling safe is what I was going for after the trauma, pulling in and protecting my core. But as he has stated, you aren’t looking to feel safe and secure, you need to know you are able to face danger and still be okay.
    Would I want to repeat any of this?
    Hell no, it’s been horrific!! But I’m able to see the things that I have gained in my world from forging through it, and those lessons have been priceless to my journey, healing is an ongoing process I don’t know if there is a final end to.
    Personally, I don’t think getting to meh is a destination, as much as it is growth along the journey. And in the company of some spectacular loving, kind and giving peeps as Chump Nation has?
    Immeasurably helpful to the experience! I know I am far from alone in what I’ve gone through. ( which I don’t see as a good thing, ot sucks for everyone!)
    But we all want to hold a hand down to the next person climbing these overwhelming mountains to a better place, is what fully affirms my shaken belief that there ARE good people in the world still, which I doubted from time to time. Thank God for that!!
    Thank you all for being here. I’m sorry I can’t put names to all the quotes I held onto, but so many of you have made such massive impacts!
    I’m so very thankful having a tribe that understands this level of pain and all want to heal and get somewhere better. It’s been such an inspirational experience.
    Good w/e to all you good people out there on this journey. Wish you all peace and love. 🌷👍😊
    ( great topic today CL, I got even more good material to put in my healing file!)

  • My epiphanies have come after I was blindsided. I am a 14 months from DDay and 4 months post divorce. I liken myself to the character Ned Racine from the movie Body Heat sitting in prison realizing what went on after the fact and how he was framed.
    Here are some epiphanies;
    The face lift and boob job weren’t for me.
    The bruises on her thighs weren’t from clumsiness nor a blood disorder.
    The need for an IUD to be placed at age 49 was a hoax. The Koi pond was not her life long dream it was ploy to get maintenance guy over house.
    Popped sleep number mattress was not from son jumping on bed. (This one angers me because she blamed an innocent child who was 10 and never behaved like that.)
    She wasn’t going up to NY to help her retired nurse friends, it was to meet boyfriends.
    “Volunteering” at church and school was for screwing behind confessionals.
    Words with friends, FB messenger, going out with friends.
    Just amazing I could be so blind.
    Anyway have a great weekend everybody

    • “Just amazing I could be so blind.”
      IKR? We all feel that way.

      He often told me he was driving to the next state to visit his (male) friend. Ummm. No. He was with her instead.

      I believed him.

      He told me he was trying a new river for fishing.

      I believed him.

      He told me he was hiking alone in one state, but he flew to another to hike with her.

      I believe him.

      I could go on. This is what haunts me–the memories of his lies, how he did it so easily, how he slept well, how I was so trusting.

      These cheaters suck.

    • Except Ned Racine was a wortless, murderous scumbag and deserved what he got. Not you, DC.
      I know what you mean though. Suddenly it hits you and everything starts to add up to the shattering conclusion that you’ve been had.

  • Friday posts are often triggering, but so important to process the cognitive dissonance.

    Three years past final D day (even the season evokes dread), I continue to have a-ha moments. The most recent was his frantic efforts to break into my locked car when he realized he had left his phone in it. We were still in a trial separation, had been out to dinner and I guess he hadn’t deleted the texts from OW.

    Mostly, I keep realizing that if I were a widow instead of a chump, my 30 years of memories would have been a source of comfort. Cheaters suck.

  • My first chump epiphany isn’t particularly original– I realized I have pretty rocking intuition. It’s not ESP and I think “flashes of intuition” can be misleading since it’s difficult to distinguish fears and wishes from foresight. It’s not like I can predict the stock market but intuition is still an important survival tool like so many people have said.

    Aside from that unsettled gut feeling I had before D-Day, I had weirdly accurate dreams/nightmares about the affair and AP long before I had any conscious idea of what was going on. In retrospect it’s eerie. How could I possibly have known there was a workplace pimp/beard involved in arranging and covering for the affair, what that pimp and the AP looked like (exactly– ick) and that family money was being siphoned off? FW is one of those expert “compartmentalizers” who doesn’t leave much of a trail nor even let hints slip out, doesn’t accidentally mention names or even the existence of certain people or events.

    Another eerie thing is that on the very day the hump-fest began in a mall parking lot, I woke up with a line of poetry in my head and texted it to FW for no particular reason except that it sounded profound and I didn’t quite understand what it meant. The text was sort of “Check this out, how weird, haha.” If FW hadn’t been drunkenly, narcissistically disconnected from reality, I think that text would have chilled him to the bone. Maybe it did subconsciously and might explain why he became a gaslighting cluster bomb after that. None of my skein-untangling after D-Day could have been more accurate than the poetic concept that popped into my brain that morning. It was all I needed to know about how affairs work in general or the mentality of participants or why these things happen or how they end up. I knew EVERYTHING before it happened. Spooky.

    Meanwhile I don’t believe in the supernatural. I’m not knocking anyone who does but personally I think there’s probably a scientific explanation for “prescience” and maternal intuition but human beings’ rational minds aren’t as smart as our unconscious minds– the part we access in dreams or through faith or art, etc. I find great value in some religious texts the same as I do in art for this reason– faith at it’s best accesses the “supra-rational” while science may never figure out some of the mysteries of life even if there are rational explanations. Nobel winning physicist Roger Penrose may have come very close to figuring out the mechanism of prescience but then he’s a scientist who, like Einstein, values intuition. In any case, he penned a theory of quantum function in microtubules in the brain. It’s very hard to dig up mention of the theory because it was considered to be an eccentric brain-fart by an otherwise lofty figure in rational science. Colleagues probably warned Penrose to shut up about it. Along the lines of Einstein’s “wrinkle in time” theory (Einstein-Rosen bridge), Penrose theorized that this quantum brain function is like a subatomic event horizon through which the past or future might “leak” into consciousness, explaining flashes of deja vu or prescience.

    When I heard about the theory on NPR in the 90’s, the physicist being interviewed referred to it as something like “molecular foam.” So whenever some random flash of intuition came true, I’d jokingly call it that. I didn’t want people thinking I was a nut or to mistake me for mystical. But now I take it more seriously. I think we all have that faculty and it’s about keeping our environments clear of fuckery in order to increase access to it.

    Another epiphany I had is also hard to put into words without sounding cliched. I realized that the purpose of gaslighting and fuckery is to scuttle, disturb, distract and destroy the intuition of the target and therefore the target’s relay connection to the world. Since the abuser has disconnected themselves from the circle of life (unintentional reference to The Lion King, oops), they try to pry you loose from it and pull you down to hell with them. And it’s the disconnection and sense of meaninglessness itself that’s hell. It’s also endangering. I feel the intuition that was being attacked in me is same intuition by which I’ve always kept the children and myself safe from various risks and dangers and that had kept us on track for a positive future. I have so many examples of that. So to attack that intuition is to destroy us and everything we protect as well as breaking our relay connection to the world. It’s the worst kind of isolation. I think anyone who’s been traumatized by deliberate acts of evil can relate to that horrible feeling of disconnection (worse on a beautiful day) where you feel unmoved or untouched by beauty, nature, other people, simple joys. I think of it as an abuser displacing their own nihilism onto a victim.

    To me this gives meaning to the biblical phrase “the valley of the shadow of death.” It’s the specter of *meaningless* death following *meaningless* life that’s so overwhelmingly terrifying. I think “Fear no evil” isn’t a promise of being untouched by misfortune but of not being spellbound by evil while enduring it.

    That was another epiphany: that the worst of what I felt while being gaslighted and betrayed were the feelings that FW was constantly trying to suppress in himself. When I pulled myself loose from the situation, all those feelings were predictably returned to sender. He lost his “receptacle” for the darkness he carried around due to having disconnected himself from that “circle of life.” That’s what people do when they live only for themselves. They cut the cord to the world.

    I respect religious and spiritual faculties in other people but I just don’t have that faculty. Instead I’ve always felt in my gut that all things are connected and that being ethical or unethical radiates and effects all things and has meaning. I love the explanation of a Russian poet for why morality and kindness matter: he imagined a “cloud of evil” and a “cloud of good” circling the earth and that what we do in life contributes to one or the other and then rains down on all of us. Whether someone has empathy for, say, a stray dog being kicked somewhere in Brazil or not, we all somehow pay for it so it’s simply a better plan to care or at least think it matters. It’s the only way to stay open to the drizzle of joy when someone pets the same stray dog. But abuse is an evil spell that, aside from cutting the cord with the world that informs intuition that keeps us safe, it tells the lie that none of this has any meaning and that you are not connected to any of it, that what you do or what anyone else does doesn’t matter.

    Anyway, them there’s my epiphanies. 😉

    • HOAT Around the time I committed myself to FW (he was an old friend cum stage 5 clinger before that) I started having nightmares there was a snake in my bed. This went on for a few months. I’d wake up in the night next to FW screaming “theres a snake”, pull the doona off and try to find it. Subtle.

      Also thanks for all your various insights ~ I bought The Batterer and have applied some of his ideas/insights to my work with DV Victims.

    • “That was another epiphany: that the worst of what I felt while being gaslighted and betrayed were the feelings that FW was constantly trying to suppress in himself. When I pulled myself loose from the situation, all those feelings were predictably returned to sender. He lost his “receptacle” for the darkness he carried around due to having disconnected himself from that “circle of life.” That’s what people do when they live only for themselves. They cut the cord to the world.”

      This is quite brilliant. I think it is very true. Once I’d separated and gotten some distance, it occurred to me that however horrible the things he said to me were, the things he must be saying to himself were probably far worse. He put his darkness on me and that’s how he survived. Once I was gone (and OW as well), the darkness overwhelmed him and he killed himself. He was forced to be alone with his thoughts and he didn’t survive it. He was UTTERLY alone, in a way I don’t think that any of us “normal” people ever could be. When I look back on our relationship, I can clearly see all the times I talked him down from the ledge. He couldn’t do that for himself, he needed someone else to do it for him (like all his emotional regulation). When there was no one, he went over the edge.

  • Agree with all of the above! CL, you save me every day. I can honestly say that. Trust that he sucks, he’s not that deep, quit untangling, stop explaining, DARVO, he has an elevator shaft where his soul should be, sex addiction is not a thing, the pain is finite, find your mighty, you will get to meh, there are simply people who throw rocks at Tiffany windows. And there is always humor to be found in all of this. The thought of his dick falling off is pretty healing to me.

    One awesome thing I learned here is to curse. I never ever said things like “fuck him” or “I hope his dick falls off” in my entire life. Reading CL made me realize that cursing is efficient, it is funny, and it captures more than the summation of the words strung together. It is empowering. I highly recommend it now.

    • Years ago while participating in the old “Fuck thread” in the CL forums, I too developed a potty mouth. Around the same time I began seeing a new, very effective therapist who began our first session with some pretty shocking language (I suppose in an effort to break the ice as well as to signal that we were going to get into the gritty substance of my problems). Years later, my daughter is still saying to me, “Mom, what happened to you? You NEVER talked like this!”

      It’s actually very liberating and amusing, especially when I craft some real zingers. Highly recommend it!

      • There’s nothing more effective than someone who formerly never cursed who finally starts. It’s unexpected and just punchier and funnier than when a lifelong curser does it. I have a friend like this. I wish I hadn’t grown up such a potty mouth so I could pack the wallop she does when she lets fly in that sweet voice.

        • This is me but I only swear when referring to my ex. It shocks my friends but they love it. Though the fight that ended up in me finding out about his cheating did start out with me flipping him the bird with both hands. I will never regret doing that, I might still be an unwitting chump if I hadn’t decided to be unladylike for a moment.

      • I agree. I was one who never swore. But when I was faced with betrayal, all of a sudden, the word asshole kept coming unbidden into my head. Sometimes I would let loose by myself in the car and repeat it until I felt good.
        Funny, 1 year post divorce and NC, I haven’t even thought about it.

        • I would call FW “asshole” under my breath when he was devaluing me and our marriage. I’m sure he used my profanity as an excuse to cheat, telling the OW I was verbally abusive. Asshole.

        • Lol… I typed on my phone “Fucker” or “F’ing” so many times after D day… that now when I try and type in “find” – predictive text automatically puts in “F’ing” 😂

    • Cursing is all that you’ve said. I love to remember a lecture I got from my son, a young Marine, who was in Iraq at the time, explaining the virtues of the F word. The first time I used it my boys threw up a cheer!

  • I’ve learned that what society calls an “affair” is abuse. An affair is a catered event where people are notified and given the pertinent facts.

    I’ve learned that what society calls an “affair” is more than a sexual transgression. It is multiple decisions to act and to justify and to deceive.

    I’ve learned that what society calls an “affair” is result of FW’s character and not my value as a spouse or a person.

    I’ve learned that what society calls an “affair” does not have to be forgiven and should result in penalties for FW (and schmoopie when possible).

  • Financial abuse often accompanies cheating and part of the same complex of entitlement. I think it was CL who introduced me to this reality, but the stories offered by CN gave me the full picture.
    That was a huge eye opener for me, and led me to finally sign on to our bank’s online access to examine years of our bank statements, and led to some a-ha moments of reassessing his past behavior. It also led me to see just how he manipulated me into thinking he was owed more, or that I needed to pay for things out of the money I inherited rather than taking the money from our joint funds. My favorite example is a summer trip I took to see my sister. I spent $500 for a two week vacation, the bulk of it on travel (gas and hotel). I was making 50 thousand a year at the time. He claimed I had spent 10% of my yearly salary on the trip. I pointed out to him that $500 was 1%, not 10%, and said I was entitled to spend 1% of the salary I earned visiting my family. Contrast this, by the way, with the international trips he took with his father and sister–to Iceland, France, Ireland, Finland, and Quebec City. I even urged him to take these trips because his father was growing older and they would not be able to travel much for long. What a chump I was!

    • Hope you get out soon and with a good settlement.

      The only thing I would state different is I think financial abuse is not often but almost always a part of cheating. I am sure there are certain circumstances where folks keep their finances totally separate, and maybe have an agreement. But assuming marital/partnership co mingling, whores don’t whore for nothing. Doesn’t matter if they are professional whores or lay whores; they get paid either by money, gifts, loans, dinners, hotel rooms etc. Not to mention the costs of keeping it secret.

    • Financial abuse AND double standards, all rolled into one.

      These cheaters cheat at everything. Their sense of entitlement knows no bounds.

    • Once someone tried to warn me about my husband but I didn’t believe her because she was a very troubled person. I reasoned that there was no money that was unaccounted for. Now I realize he was going to the grocery store daily for our family and for his mother and was likely taking small sums of money from both of us by getting cash back. Towards the end he got brazen and got a credit card but never showed me the statements. That was a red flag and I sort of recognized it but Was afraid of him and didn’t absolutely insist On seeing the statements

  • 1. People who put you on a pedestal while dating are usually abusers/narcs/cluster bs. They will kick you off in no time and use the fact that you’re human to justify cheating and other forms of abuse.
    2. Ditto people in a hurry to move in, marry and/or have a baby – controlling abusers.
    3. Dreaming that they are cheating is your subconscious warning you, when your conscious mind doesn’t want to face the truth.
    4. If they seem too good to be true, compatible in every way or a soul mate, they aren’t. They’re mirroring.

    • I didn’t dream of him cheating, I don’t think,but I would often wake up angry at him after a dream. We would laugh about it but I bet even if I didn’t know why I was angry he probably did!

    • “People who put you on a pedestal while dating are usually abusers/narcs/cluster bs. They will kick you off in no time and use the fact that you’re human to justify cheating and other forms of abuse.”

      Yes. A thousand times yes.
      I had thought in our early days of dating that the FW seemed to be good to be true. Then I chided myself for being cynical. Decades later I have learned that I wasn’t cynical, I was perceptive. I talked myself into ignoring my gut. I was young and had never heard such people as FW existed, that some people use mirroring and love bombing to bamboozle and con others. So now I spread this knowledge to others in the hope that it becomes harder for these creeps to operate.

  • I had all the difficult epiphanies as everyone else, the manscaping(“ I did it for you, honey”)the big envelope of condoms when he only was intimate with me once every few months, the realization that his long trips to the grocery store probably involved not only affairs but also pilfering money from our account 20 or 40 dollars at a time. But also THE BIGGEST AND BEST EPIPHANY: that he didn’t deserve me, I was way out of his league, more attractive, more successful, more respected. When I see pictures of us together in our early days now I realize he was so lucky to have me. Sad that I let him make me feel like I wasn’t as good as him but I know the truth now.

  • It was only through finding CL that I twigged retrospectively about the obvious signs ex was cheating. And I didnt feel alone. And I could laugh about it.
    I mean, I actually believed ex was sitting in the bath for hours with his clean shaven ballsack playing online monopoly with some guy in Germany whilst chugging down Dr Sandra Cabots Erectomax pills for “energy” because he had to work such long hours whilst drawing a blank about where the 50k went for the school fees. And who knew Youtube had videos on “how to find your wife’s clitoris in one easy step after 25 years of fumbling about”. I couldnt find the video but I’m sure it’s there somewhere.
    If I ever get a decent financial settlement I vow to increase my monthly patreon donation to CL for blowing the scales off my eyes.

  • Reading the chapter in LACGAL, “What was real? Does it Matter?” began the most striking epiphany for me. My life up till then was husband, kids, part time work, and thinking that something was wrong with me. When the truth about my husband’s secret life exploded and I found out he had been lying by omission to me all throughout our marriage, and also to the current marriage counselor – well, you know, I felt my life was destroyed instantly, like a bomb going off, and then continued to feel shell shocked.
    This chapter described the victim of infidelity living a lie of safety, with one of the results being “You lose your story. And you don’t get your story back.” But Tracy turned this around into “I was real….. I brought my A-game….. I committed to that marriage…” etc. That was truly an epiphany for me: that I was a committed, loving, conscientious, trustworthy, forgiving, generous wife and that FW was a fraud, a liar, and a con man that was one of the best, the kind that are “nice guys” one would never suspect.

    I was who I had wanted to be all along.

    For newbies, my 2nd epiphany was that Tracy is a real person, and posts real emails! I am so thankful that Tracy put my story on this blog, and I am thankful to all who commented with compassion, or with terse wisdom, and with their own experiences.

  • My insights from this site:
    1. No matter how f-Ed up you think your situation is, someone else has been through almost the exact same thing because…
    2. There really is a “cheater script”. There must only be so many ways for these personality disorders to manifest themselves. This has saved me from so much shame. Early in I wasted so much time wondering what I had done to be treated so badly, my marriage to be messed up so egregiously. I was convinced it had to be my fault. This community saved me from that.
    3. “Cool. Bummer. Wow.” It’s like the Swiss Army knife for navigating this kind of divorce/family situation. Easy to remember gray rock instructions. Slices his sad sausage ploys with a single word. Perfect response when kids wanted to report on time with dad that I didn’t particularly care to hear about. (No longer needed since he doesn’t really spend time with them anymore. See #2)
    Thank you CL and thank you Chumpnation. It’s a little strange to think that I will never meet some of the people that were my biggest support during the hardest time of my life, but I’m eternally grateful.

  • Epiphany for me was the importance of getting lawyered up. You’re so distraught with everything, the ridiculousness of reconciliation, the fear of change (obviously there’s already been change, we were just unaware). Even though I had hope that late life addict would seek treatment and we could turn back time, pre gf, I still took the advice of LACGAL and CN and sought legal advice. I called friend that worked at courthouse, she talked to those that worked in the divorce trials and gave me 2 names. So glad I called.
    I saw lawyer and still had hope until I didn’t. Consult in November and he was blindsided at the office in January with my petition.
    Receptionist usually signed for documents, server said not this time it’s personal. Receptionist called him out front, she said he was shocked and turned blood red.
    I still hoped in my heart he’d seek treatment. I moved forward anyway. FW was completely uncooperative. It took 2.5 years for divorce. Had I not lawyered up it could have been so much worse.
    My favorite lines in text he sent when trying to get me to sign off on office deed was “No one can reach you, well no one from your lawyer’s office will talk to me”, and “I’ve done everything your lawyer has asked of me…”. More afraid of my lawyer than me. He hadn’t met our demands yet & finally got his butt in gear.
    My lawyer had counseled me that commercial property probably wasn’t in my best interest.
    He told me to get CC in my name only, safeguard money bc in my county of Florida emergency hearing can take 2 months and to secure documents we’d need. Lawyer up, I’ve told others since and they often regret just mediation without having seen a lawyer.

    • Another one for me is that NO ONE not even your lawyer cares about your situation more than you do. I ended up doing some leg work for myself that my lawyer should have done and when I gave the information to my lawyer it changed everything, suddenly my ex was willing to negotiate and I ended up getting a lot more money on the settlement. After the divorce he dragged his feet about signing the deed transfer and some other things. This kept me trapped, unable to sell my house and without the funds that were supposed to be transferred to me. I started calling my lawyer’s office a few times a week and finally texted my ex a few times that he was about to be summoned for contempt of court. Finally he signed but there are a few more steps and I know I have to keep the pressure on my lawyers office until everything is complete. It sucks that I have to do this but I absolutely need to because in the end I am the one who is most invested in getting this resolved

      • I also did legwork for much of the case, it saved me money. FW was had contempt against him a couple of times. Then the lawyers agree FW will deliver, just dragging on & on. I had to ask for continuance due to the business taxes not being completed. More time but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be on the hook.

    • Sandyfeet, I’m in the UK. The X and I are both lawyers. The X dragged his feet at every stage. His constant refrain in emails (the only means by which I agreed to communicate with him) was ‘you won’t talk to me, I want to talk to you, but you won’t talk to me’ whine, moan, complain. In the end when he was difficult before and during mediation, which was in itself a whole other trauma in lockdown, I said ‘communication via lawyers only’. He ignored that by sending emails which I, in turn, ignored. And he got the message but still dragged his feet so I had to issue court proceedings for financial relief. All the time he’s sad sausaging around about how badly he’s been treated. With his exgfOW hiding in the wings until they could declare their love. Because they found each other and rekindled their soulmate love after we had drifted apart! I made sure key people knew the truth whether they believed it or not. It doesn’t matter which country they’re in, how Royal, how noble, how rich, cheaters behave the same way. They are despicable.

  • I just want to say thank you to everyone here who shares their stories. One of the hardest things about going through all this was how insane it seemed. Then I came here and found out a lot of the crazy, unbelievable things that he was doing… were actually just normal behavior for cheaters. That helped more than anything else during that time. I’m so grateful for Chump Lady and everyone here for that.

    • “unbelievable things that he was doing… were actually just normal behavior for cheaters. ”

      That even helped me years after the fact. To understand that what I went through was so common it was cliché. I didn’t know it in real time of course because it was before internet. There was no info at my finger tips.

      • I was going through the worst of it in the mid-2000s. Nobody was talking about personality disorders then. Most states didn’t even have revenge porn laws.

        Years later, just after I’d escaped, I googled symptoms and randomly discovered Narcissistic Personality Disorder which was a revelation. The emotional terrorism I’d discovered had a name.

        From there, it was a short hop on the internet to finding Chump Lady.

        I can’t express the validation these discoveries gave me. I wasn’t crazy, I’d been victimized and it wasn’t my fault. Once I realized that, I could heal and rebuild.

    • Me too. The craziest part for me was all the enablers in his friend circle who’ve supported him through 20 years of his (sometimes public) serial abuse of women. These people always made excuses for him and questioned MY behavior instead, so I was left feeling crazy. I would’ve left years earlier without them.

      How can you trust yourself when everyone around you is seeing the craziest batshit behavior – public outbursts, tirades, silent treatments – and not only act like it’s normal, but that YOU are the problem? And he apparently did this with every girlfriend he had!

      The defining moment for me was talking to someone in this group who said, “Of course he abuses you, you’re sleeping with him.” As if that was my fault. It also told me they knew this was the ex’s pattern. But instead of doing something about it (like ousting the guy), everybody drew ranks to protect the abuser and act like there wasn’t a problem.

      I was shocked and bewildered. When I went no contact with the ex, I cut off that entire friend group too. Years later, I discovered old social media posts with a few of them making fun of me for being in an abusive relationship and saying I was obviously an idiot. They knew the whole time but never defended me or tried to help me. They wanted someone to shit on and feel better about themselves.

      It hit me in that moment: They were abusers just like the ex. All losers and sociopaths. Garbage finds its own level, I guess. I’ve never missed them.

      • Cam, I want to beat the living daylights out of those people!
        Yes, as bad as FWs are, I find FW groupies even worse. If you look up to and defend an asshole, that makes you not just an asshole yourself, but a cowardly, pathetic one who hitches onto an abuser and vicariously enjoys sadistic glee while not even having a personal axe to grind with the victim.
        That these people can get away with mocking an abuse victim publically on social media shows that far too many people enable abuse by their silence.

        • Thank you.

          The weirdest part is these people bitched about what an asshole he was and even said he was a narcissist who surrounded himself with sycophants, but none of them had the self-awareness to realize they were talking about themselves. And for some reason, they still kept him around. I think they were all disordered and/or had such low self-esteem that they thought they had to tolerate this behavior and punch down on the most vulnerable person in the group (me).

  • I was more concerned with my son when the shit hit the fan. He had just turned 7 and I needed to know how to handle the situation for him. I found what I neded here at Chump Lady. I told him the truth, when he asked me about daddy. And I used language that simple for him to understand and I didn’t editorials the story. “Mommy and Daddy are married. And when you’re married you aren’t to supposed to have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Daddy has a girlfriend.”. He understood that. But his next question was one I didn’t expect and I thank God for giving me the answer. He asked me if God was going to punish Daddy. I told him no, God doesn’t punish us. But it does mean that your Daddy has moved away from God. God hopes he comes back. I said something like that. It was 8 years ago so I don’t remember exactly what I said. But it set the tone for how we would be moving forward.

  • My mirage ended well before Chump Nation burst onto the scene, and I’ve been at meh for years. My epiphany, which took place thanks to my reading here, is why for so long I was plagued with UTIs and infections of the lady parts.

    It’s a miracle the FW didn’t give me HPV.

  • Could someone please quickly remind me to trust that he sucks? I still miss him and think I “ love “ him… 4 years alone now. You are all so strong. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

    • There’s nothing wrong with you and we aren’t all that strong. We all have bad days. The best piece of advice I got was that recovery is not as linear as you want it to be, but is more up and down. Sometimes you backslide. If you are lonely or there is some kind of void in your life you are likely to feel like you love him. Fill yourself up with things that nourish your soul. Remember that the person you loved was not real. He is not that guy. So it is not him you miss, it’s a fantasy.

      • “Remember that the person you loved was not real. He is not that guy. So it is not him you miss, it’s a fantasy.”

        This is so true, and hard to remember for a while. Maybe in some cases (I would say very few) they used to be that person, but they changed themselves. Either way they are not that person. Anymore or never were, for the betrayed the results are all the same.

    • Trust that he sucks.

      Have you read up on trauma bonds yet? You should. If you have, study them again. You don’t really love him, you’re trauma bonded. Unfortunately our traumatized brains can’t tell the difference.

    • Chipped – if you believe an orange is blue for x number of years, and then one day there is irrefutable evidence that the orange is, in fact, orange, it still takes a while to accept – years even. It’s even worse when everyone around you still believes or tries to convince you that the orange is blue. Take care

    • Chipped – Everyone’s journey is different, but I suspect four years is too long if the loss of the relationship is still interrupting your independence and quality of life. Consider trauma-based therapy or a 12-step program if you are working on boundaries. Exercise and mindfulness for wellness. Volunteering for making friends.

      Sometimes it seems like an end to the grief will close the possibility of reconciliation. It is more likely to open the possibility of your next best life.

  • Things I learned at Chump Nation: ( they are limitless, here’s a few that come to mind) :

    “ TRUST THAT THEY SUCK!!!” ( Amen to that!! it’s like the first commandment of chumphood)
    “ IS THIS RELATIONSHIP ACCEPTABLE TO YOU?!” ( another earth shattering quote)
    Dr. Minwalla’s secret sexual basement material.
    “ Cheating is abuse”. ( revolutionary knowledge)
    That cheating is only the tip of the iceberg of abuses going down.
    That forgiveness isn’t a prerequisite to healing.
    Books recom by Dr George Simon ( In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbances)
    Dr. Frank Pittman’s work
    The Body Keeps the Score ( van der Kolk)
    Dr Ramani’s work and podcasts.
    Endless quotes from some pretty wise chumps! ( I don’t have them organized, so I’ll try and pull up a few on my notes)
    “ I’ve earned the right to be done”
    “ It’s not your job to teach him remedial decency”
    “ I don’t need to be friends with someone who burned down my house.”
    “For every admission, there is a deeper darker truth that will hurt you more.”
    “ He’s shown you who he is, believe him.”
    “Even if I could guarantee a future partner wouldn’t cheat (which we can’t), I have my own stuff going on in my life & places I want to go, people I want to see, that don’t involve me being a Sherpa to some dude’s life.”
    “ when they can’t choose, they are not choosing you”.
    “Never make someone a priority in your life when all you are is an option.”
    “When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth.”
    “Serial cheaters think 4 minutes ahead instead of 15 years.”
    Learning about box breathing
    Something is very wrong when you are living in “ eggshell manor”.
    The term DARVO ( “ I’m in the DARVO bento box” Lol, CL brings joy to tragedy, what a blessing she is!)
    “ Cheaters never trade up”
    “ Everything you need to know is in their actions.”
    “ Give up on all hope of a better past.”
    Closure is not coming.
    “ The eye doesn’t see what the mind doesn’t know”.
    “ they aren’t becoming a better version for someone else”
    The goal is to get to “ meh”.
    The discussion on the “ shark eyes” was most eye opening. I’d 100% experienced it, but I don’t think it moved to my conscious awareness until it was shared. Probably similar with so many eye openers on this site. I am always flabbergasted at the similarities of the experiences. It’s always amazes me, but it validates my experience like no therapist on earth would be able to do. It’s hard not to keep reading, because I am always learning something new about my own experience and the sharing is so helpful to healing. I have HUGE gratitude for finding CL and CN, I think I would still be spinning in the deep fog of pain and confusion way more than I am even four years out.
    My pain isn’t gone, I think it will be my partner through life, that’s sad and okay simultaneously.
    I feel and love so deeply, on a different more present level, than I believe I ever would have been capable of getting to without the tremendous trauma of the experience. I am not the same person working on exiting this experience as I was entwined in it. I feel a core strength now that is not capable of being torched to the earth again. Like a force field from surviving trauma that will protect me.
    I listen to Jordan Peterson, who I think is a very wise, intelligent and caring man. I always thought that feeling safe is what I was going for after the trauma, pulling in and protecting my core. But as he has stated, you aren’t looking to feel safe and secure, you need to know you are able to face danger and still be okay.
    Would I want to repeat any of this?
    Hell no, it’s been horrific!! But I’m able to see the things that I have gained in my world from forging through it, and those lessons have been priceless to my journey, healing is an ongoing process I don’t know if there is a final end to.
    Personally, I don’t think getting to meh is a destination, as much as it is growth along the journey. And in the company of some spectacular loving, kind and giving peeps as Chump Nation has?
    Immeasurably helpful to the experience! I know I am far from alone in what I’ve gone through. ( which I don’t see as a good thing, it sucks for everyone!)
    But we all want to hold a hand down to the next person climbing these overwhelming mountains to a better place, is what fully affirms my shaken belief that there ARE good people in the world still, which I doubted from time to time. Thank God for that!!
    Thank you all for being here. I’m sorry I can’t put names to all the quotes I held onto, but so many of you have made such massive impacts!
    I’m so very thankful having a tribe that understands this level of pain and all want to heal and get somewhere better. It’s been such an inspirational experience.
    Good w/e to all you good people out there on this journey. Wish you all peace and love. 🌷👍😊

    • “I listen to Jordan Peterson, who I think is a very wise, intelligent and caring man.”

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but he’s a misogynist, so right wing that he qualifies as a fascist, very likely a narcissist, and he’s renowned for writing nonsensical word salad. He’s not the darling of the Incels for no reason. There’s even a game called Is it Jordan Peterson or Word Salad, and a Peterson drivel generator that you cannot tell is not the real thing.
      Do a deep dive into his reputation and you will probably be shocked at things he’s said and done, including physically threatening (albeit in a foppish way) somebody who gave him a bad review. I saw this for myself so it’s not just a rumor. He was eviscerated in the Twittersphere for it. He’s infamous for going to Russia to be put into a long coma by quack doctors to break his addiction to clonazepam rather than endure withdrawal. Doesn’t sound wise to me.

      • I pick up weird vibes from Michael Singer (The Untethered Soul) who was involved in a securities fraud scandal. Brene Brown also seems to speak in cliched, bumper sticker sentences. Maybe skepticism is a sign of healing.

      • I’ve listened to a great deal of his work, and admire what he is attempting to do. I don’t rely on what I’ve heard others say about him, as I realize he speaks too bluntly and honestly for most and in doing so, has made many enemies.
        I try to find out myself what people are all about as best as I can, not what others’ opinions of a person are.
        And my opinion stands, he’s a very wise, well read, intelligent and caring man.
        We need way more JP’s than we currently have in this world. He’s a very good man.
        Someone not afraid to stand up for what he believes, he has sacrificed a great deal to do that.
        You certainly are entitled to your opinion, as unnecessarily aggressive as you chose to voice it. And I will stand by mine.

  • X was always in a rush to push me into the shower most evenings. I always did wonder why and if I refused or was doing something else she would get frustrated. Same with going on walks, she insisted on going alone or sent me away alone…. It all added up, I left a recorder in the house and heard her nasty sexy talkies with her new boo. In some conversations she even repeated things I had said to her earlier in the day. She was also up conveniently early so that her boo would get a good morning text everyday whilst I was sleeping in bed next to her. I was called crazy when I questioned why she had to sleep with the phone under her pillow.

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