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Stress of Staying in a Toxic Relationship

So, at the risk of having a fun Friday challenge that sounds like a weekly phone call home to my aging mother, tell me about your health ailments!

One common refrain at Chump Nation has been the health costs associated with staying in a toxic relationship. The strange rashes, the sciatica, the teeth grinding — which miraculously cure themselves when you throw the cheater out of your life.

Stress is a killer, they say. So what’s the cost to our health staying with  cheaters? Can you die of malnutrition if you eat too many shit sandwiches?

Now, I’m not saying you can blame all your health problems on your cheater, but I am curious about what plagued you before you left, and if and how your health improved after you gained that new life. Of course, one benefit to leaving cheaters is it gives us much more room in our life for self-care.

I had all sorts of weird stress illnesses after D-Day, and especially in the months where I was plotting my escape, faking reconciliation as I lined up my ducks. My hair was dry and brittle, I broke out in hives, for the only time in my life, I ground my teeth when I slept… And sleep? I had nightmares, hyper vigilance, a racing heart…

All of which disappeared when I left.

So what happened to you? Muffin-tops gained? Muffin-tops lost? Any health benefits to report from leaving cheaters? Remember, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger — but first it gives us splotchy skin and thinning hair.

TGIF, CN!

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Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I lost 28lb because I wasn’t eating, and my Doctor put me through all the cancer tests. The cognitive dissonance of being sure he was still talking to and maybe seeing schmoopie when he’d promised not to started to affect me and I’d go around feeling like there was an invisible wall between me and the world. Plus it would almost bring me to tears when people were ordinarily polite, or kind to me. So glad he left when I said it was me or her. I think I narrowly escaped a proper mental breakdown.

    • I lost 25 lbs. 106lb isn’t healthy. Four years later my weight is back up and then some. My doctor feels like my body doesn’t know what a healthy weight is for me due to that fast and large loss. I think my cortisol is out of control – still in “flight or fight”. Need to reset by exercising less with high intensive workouts and more walking/yoga. I was diagnosed with IBS about 8 years before D-day. Haven’t had a flair up in the last three – since I kicked him out. With the weight loss also had thinning/falling out hair. I think my body knew well before I did.

    • I remember that “wall.” It was worse when the sun was shining and flowers were blooming because it only underscored the joyless, tomb-like detachment.

  • My legs were covered with flat warts!! And my hair fell out. Both of which “healed” on their own after I cut free from the liar/cheater. Yay for liberation!

    • I think you’re rid of the biggest wart of all in that your cheater is gone, ie he was the wartiest wart of all. Your cheater was definitely the frog that didn’t turn into a prince and just dispensed warts. Glad you are all healed and cheater free..

    • Funny you should mention warts on your skin. FW began complaining of body warts everywhere during his dalliance with our co-worker, and now 12 years out, I am discovering the same nasty thing on my previously unblemished skin. I don’t deserve this.

      • Some warts are communicable. So are ulcers, dandruff, skin fungus, staph and caries. The AP may have been very warty which suggests impaired immune function. The latter might relate to high risk lifestyle and excessive alcohol consumption but it’s easy to see how chumps can develop impaired immunity from stress– not necessarily risky lifestyle– that can set them up to “catch” certain conditions they might not have otherwise.

        There were studies from many years ago that certain autoimmune diseases could be transmitted from mouse to mouse via blood transfer. The results remain unreplicated but it’s an unsolved riddle.

        • It’s been mentioned here before and bears repeating that a very helpful read on today’s subject is the book:

          The Body Keeps the Score by Bessell Van Der Kolk, M.D.

          It relates specifically to the brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. It draws the co-relation between trauma and what is known as psychosomatic injury, which are the physical symptoms and conditions following abuse and trauma.

          • Is the author really saying these injuries are psychosomatic– as in imagined or mentally manifested? I would recommend Dr. Kelly Brogan’s work in nutritional psychiatry. She discusses the real, cellular level and physical manifestations of stress and trauma and has developed a program for recovery.

            • Hell of a Chump:

              Yes, Van Der Kolk, M.D., author of The Body Keeps the Score, does make the case that negative emotions caused by trauma cause significant changes in the brain areas that receive nerve signals from the muscles, gut, and skin – areas that are crucial for regulating bodily functions. These are psychosomatic reactions. The author offers common expressions that we all use as a basic illustration. ” You make me sick”; “It made my skin crawl”; “I was all choked up”; “My heart sank”; “He made me bristle”.

              Elevated and/or sustained trauma stress levels are actively breaking down the body.

              As a personal example…while in the throes of discard and emotional abuse, I broke out in what appeared to be severe contact dermatitis on hands, elbows and arms. I headed to the Dermatologist for an ointment, salve or cream. Upon examination, the Dr. immediately closed the door, wheeled in very close, and simply asked, “What is going on in your life right now? This is not contact dermatitis. You are having a severe stress reaction and it is literally poking through your skin to get out!” He then recommended any and all efforts to practice self-care to calm and reset mental and emotional distress.

              The problem did resolve and has never returned, nor had I ever experienced it in my lifetime. This experience heightened my awareness of maintaining stable mental and emotional balance – even while under stress.

              • I couldn’t argue with Van Der Kolk’s medical explanation of how stress damages the body but get nervous that he brands the process “psychosomatic.” I have reservations because of the history of the term and how it’s generally interpreted, veering too often into “imaginary,” invented physical symptoms. It’s the term often used when physical cause of symptoms is undetermined and not identified, sometimes despite evidence that there could be physical cause but that evidence has political ramifications. Moreover it’s a label often used in behaviorism and psychiatry like a “case closed” stamp to stop further investigation into physical cause due to the professional turf war between psychiatry/behaviorism and neurology and other medical specialties.

                I was flinchy about the expression before being chumped because I formerly advocated for domestic violence survivors and it came up a lot. My being flinchy about a term obviously doesn’t invalidate it. To quote Margaret Atwood, “An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it” (or misuse it). Van Der Kolk isn’t wrong in the usage since psycho=mind and soma= body and it’s clear he he means to indicate real physical and medical manifestations caused by trauma. He doesn’t appear to be guarding professional turf since his theories open the gates to contributions from other disciplines (such as nutritional psychiatry and observations of nutrient depletion in PTSD). He valiantly shifted focus to non-drug treatments even before the opioid epidemic made that an easier position to take, has been a rebel voice against the DSM’s often dubious diagnostic standards and has pointed out that ADHD has become a catch-all for symptoms with multiple divergent causes.

                But the term “psychosomatic” is still pretty loaded. A bit the way my mother rolled her eyes and protested when I asked her to stop calling me “pussycat” as a kid because, er, the term had been hijacked by slang, I’m curious if Van Der Kolk is trying to rescue psychosomatic and return it to root meaning.

                I’m just not sure how such a tainted term can ever be fully rescued and restored to root meaning, not after such a history of misuse. Battered women used to be referred to in medical circles as “known women of unknown complaint.” While it’s true that many health conditions can be caused by severe stress and sustained terror, the medical profession historically ignored the legacy of actual physical injury in abuse survivors such as headaches, vertigo, nausea and memory loss from past closed head injuries, the legacy of undiagnosed STDs contracted in the course of sexual coercion, the effects of systematically-induced sleep deprivation which causes visible changes to brain anatomy and women who were not allowed to physically heal after childbirth among many other examples. These women were typically denied proper medical care according to researchers Evans and Flitcraft who authored, “Women at Risk.” Other researchers argue that injury due to violence can cause an endless ricochet of emotional issues too due to physical cause (depression caused by inflammation due to infection, under-recognized side effects from inappropriate sedation, poorly healed bones).

                Evans and Flitcraft argue that institutional reluctance to recognize the health consequences of DV has political roots. Politics may be at play in the fact that, in the face of mounting evidence of potential physical cause, Havana Syndrome has been cast as psychosomatic and/or “psychogenic.” https://theconversation.com/havana-syndrome-fits-the-pattern-of-psychosomatic-illness-but-that-doesnt-mean-the-symptoms-arent-real-167275

                Then the fracking industry has successfully employed behavioral specialists to apply conversion theory and “mass hysteria” to deny genuine injuries from fracking chemicals in mass outbreaks of tics and seizures near fracking operations. People living near outbreaks would be taking videos of lighting their tap water on fire but industry and its sponsored media would host a bevy of behaviorists discussing mass conversion and psychosomatic symptoms to the exclusion of any other potential cause. Medical practitioners in affected areas would be hesitant to order toxicology studies and more extensive labs because of political pressure from formidable opponents. This has been a perfect crime in several cases, successfully scuttling lawsuits.

                The interesting thing is that the entire concept of psychogenic and psychosomatic illness arguably began as tort defense. That doesn’t mean that conversion isn’t possible but that it had always been “handy” to deflect fault or cover for stumped practitioners. Freud’s predecessor in psychogenic theory was the French neurologist Charcot who developed the theory of psychogenic illness when he was contracted by the early rail industry to create a defense against worker and passenger lawsuits. In retrospect we know that most of the complaints of passengers and workers can be explained as whiplash, a type of spinal injury that hadn’t existed before high speed travel and had mystified doctors at the time. Charcot quarantined the problem to the neuroses of victims who were then never compensated and the rail industry– without legal and financial incentives to improve rail safety– continued to lag in creating adequate break systems, safety gates, scheduled stops, etc.

                Will we ever be able to say pussycat again without causing Butthead snickers? I hope Van Der Kolk’s usage of “psychosomatic” is influential.

  • Does chronic confusion count as a health ailment?

    For years I had no idea why my marriage wasn’t a marriage at all. No sex and all discussions about why were met with what I now know was professional gaslighting. He was a different person than the kind, happy man I married. Was it work? Was it me? Was it the kids? Who knows.

    Post DDay included severe weight loss, me spiraling god knows where, 2 stays in psychiatric hospitals and a multi-year effort to claw my way to mental health. DBT, much therapy, EMDR and a public struggle to get on the right medications got me to today. And swimming and the gym got me to the best physical health of my life. Im still a work in progress but we’ll on the road to greatness.

    Ugh. They do so much damage to us. They can all rot in hell.

    • The mental confusion for the first year or two was a nightmare. I can only see it now as I’ve healed from the trauma. You said it!

      • Yes the mental confusion is a nightmare.., I blamed my self, I accepted the blame but wondered what I did to deserve this? what could I have done differently? What was I doing that was making him so angry.
        When I asked him why he was so unhappy around me, He answered that he got long with everyone but me so it had to be me.
        It never occurred to me that he could be cheating or that he was lying.

    • It is so horrible ins’t it? I’m down 11 pounds, and I was close to ideal weight. The aniexty, the depression the sleeplessness. It’s all taken a severe toll on me in so many ways. How one does that to anyone, let alone a loving, devoted husband is beyond me.

      • It shows they don’t love. Not just the romantic love of a spouse. They are unloving humans. To partake in the suffering of another in such a disturbing way. I recall expecting my cheater to at least care that I was ill from what he was doing and when I finally saw the truth that he did not notice or care, so many things became clear. They may value others on their terms for what they offer at the time, but no real love in there.

        • That’s it exactly Anna. In the first few weeks after DDay when I still had to see WW now and then I never got any sense that she remotley understood (or cared) about the immense amount of damage she had done to me. To do what they do they can’t have ever truly loved you the same way you loved them, if at all. It’s impossible. I wouldn’t subject my worst enemy to this, let alone someone I loved, or even just “liked” as a friend. It’s so disheartening to think about the thirty years I invested as a good husband and father, all with someone who never really flet the same way. My therapist knocks me over the head with this a lot, and it hurts.

          • At the time, I remember reflecting to myself that I would rather be beaten up by thugs and left to die in the street than to have had the person I most trust betray, hurt me and treat like trash.

            • The physical pain from what you describe would be child’s play compared to what we go through. The day I was discarded, and I mean that word totally, an hour or so later after she dropped the bomb that shed been having an affair, wanted it divorce and was going to leave for OM I was lying on the couch in a heap and she walked right by, basically over my corpse to do laundry in the next room. That and the demeanor when she told me were so cold, so heartless, so cruel. Oh, and to boot it was Father’s Day weekend. Thanks for that FW!!!

              • I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but I have to believe that her leaving quickly is better than a lingering, drawn out gaslighting and mindfucking. THAT keeps your head in the blender. Somewhere in the CN archives there’s a story or three about cheaters ‘stepping over you for a Hot Pocket’, which is what they often do. Absolutely cold, dark, and missing any empathy at all. It’s a character disorder imho.
                Feel better soon and stay on the path to NC. I wish you peace.

              • Thanks, I appreciate it. You’re probably right in a way with the quick departure. At least I wasn’t subject to some false reconciliation attempt. I know I’m dealing with a disordered person, it just doesn’t make it any easier.

              • Sending you strength Dad. Douchecanoe dumped me in a similar manner the night of our youngest’s first day of kindergarten and never once expressed any concern for my feelings. You’e doing well and acting mighty. Just watch out for the long drawn out gaslighting and mindfuckery that comes AFTER the divorce is final. I gave my ex too much mental real estate in those early years and allowed myself to be trampled on ‘for the sake of the kids.’ Once I started to trust he sucks in any and every matter, built boundaries like brick walls, and realized just me and my kids made a lovely family, I was truly able to form a life without him in a starring role.

              • Sunrise
                Thank you. I’m very fortunate my sons are adults. Once the divorce is final I’ll need to have nothing to do with her.

              • Fantastic, Sunrise. Good for you. Those fuckwits definitely don’t deserve more than the most minimum of mental real estate in our normal lives. If you can cut them out all together, so much the better. But it’s hard when you have kids together.

                Wishing you and your family peace and happiness as well.

              • I am so sorry you are experiencing this. It is a pain no one should have to endure. Looking back on the first year, maybe even 2, I don’t remember much and not entirely sure how I even did it. He was abusing me by proxy through the courts, and some days it felt like it took all I had to keep one foot going in front of the other. He ruined and took away everything that I thought was dear to me- friends, heck even some of my family thinks I am being dramatic and I had to play a role in it somehow. Meanwhile, he not only left me, but our autistic daughter on her 6th birthday! Hasn’t spoken to her since, she is 11 now and still hates her birthday. There really isn’t a level of depravity they aren’t willing to travel to, it seems. I kept it together for all 3 of our kids, even the 2 older ones, but the nights in the shower just balling, I get a pit in my stomach thinking about it now. I am 5 years out total, 3 years since our divorce was final, the judge actually signed those documents because the ex jerk (may a tree fall on his head) refused. Everyone in the legal system part of our divorce had enough toward the end – his lawyer even fired him. I say all that because I still wonder what was wrong with me that I could be so easily discarded after 21 years on rare occasions. Then I remember it isn’t me at all- he is a monster, and I kept it all together for all 3 of our children. That is mighty, and so are you. SO ARE YOU. 🙂

              • They are incredibly cruel and cold hearted. Remember this whenever you think to assign normal human emotions to her. They don’t think like us. Their only concern is themselves.
                Cheater left on Mother’s Day, I was a blubbering mess as I watched him take things from our house. He stopped, looked at me and said you’re pathetic. This is who they are.., keep this in mind Dadof2sons. You have a long road ahead of you. Stay strong.

          • Same here, Dadof2sons. My FW XW, right after D-day said, I hope we’ll be friends, the AP is so smart, you’re a lot alike, yada yada yada.

            Insane. Absolutely insane. Or at the very least disconnected and stupid. And completely lacking in empathy. I think she was hoping for some conscious uncoupling bullshit to happen.

            I think that idea’s ridiculous enough on its own, but to think that’s going to happen after fucking me and the family over w/your incredibly selfish act of adultery? Wow. Way to keep the selfish and lack of empathy streak going!👍🙄

            I’m so sorry you went through this as well. You got a little farther than my almost twenty five years of marriage. It hurts no matter how many years, but the more time you had invested in the marriage (you, not the FW’s, who you’re right, probably never did invest the way us chumps did), the longer it seems to take to get over the injury to you: heart, mind and soul.

            Tell your therapist from me to lay off you if he or she is knocking you around for being a trusting, loving person. You’re learning from any errors you made now. It doesn’t help to rub your face in it. You’re not an idiot. You’re figuring things out now.

            I got something similar from the psychologist I saw for a few months after D-day. He couldn’t believe I was so trusting and devoted to the FW XW. I said that’s how I was raised, and that’s who I am. I told him I thought it was a good quality to be devoted to your spouse. He said something to the effect that devotion isn’t good if it blinds you.

            Well, my answer to that now is that people like you and me need direct life experience and time to understand that. I hadn’t had that experience until that point, and my time to understand it had just begun. Now I have both. You will too, eventually.

            • Sorry about your situation therlongrun. Mine had the audacity about a month ago when she came to pick up things to ask if the four of us (me, her two sons) could do something at the house (where I’m living aone) for Christmas. Sure!! Then you can go back to OM’s place after, absolutely honey!
              I told her “You are either my loving, faithful wife (which you’ve already decided you’re not…) or your are out of my life.”
              I’m not going to be your “friend” after what you did to me. It was so unreal, even in the grand scheme of all the BS I had to deal with from her.

          • ISawTheLight,

            I’m so sorry you were treated like that.

            I hope you’re closer to peace now.

            As for you FW and their AP? May they rot out from their genitalia to their brains, following a path from the most used parts of their bodies to the least!🤬

            • FW abused OW too and she left. He’s dead now (self-inflicted). So Karma came just fine and I didn’t have to raise a finger to help. OW even sent me an “apology” (even though it was like a textbook example of how NOT to apologize), but I didn’t dignify it with a reply. It’s not my job to alleviate whatever guilt/regret she feels (and she wasn’t sorry until it came back to bite her in the ass, so…is she sorry? Or is she sorry it didn’t work out?).

              I doubt OW has learned anything, but whatever. I never have to see her again and she completely disappeared from my kid’s life (even though she said loved him SOOO much), and that is good.

        • “They may value others on their terms for what they offer at the time, but no real love in there.”

          Truth! Again, this fits my FW XW to a T. Looking back, I think I am convinced that my most glaring flaws in my prime years of marriage were that I’m awful at doing housework (which is something I’m still working on and not at all proud of) and that I got her pregnant w/our son (a whole other story I’ve recounted before).

          But because I earned an eventually pretty damn good salary over time, was a very loving, caring husband in general, and a pretty good father, she was willing to put up me. I met most of her needs, basically.

          Once the financial crisis of 2008 rippled out to affect our state and the pharmacy profession, and I allowed myself to get caught in an area of pharmacy that never suited me well, my stress level at work went through the roof, and I had to leave pharmacy or suffer a nervous breakdown (came close to that). That stress also moved me from being pre-diabetic to diabetic eventually.

          In addition, I went into a deep depression after leaving pharmacy, as I couldn’t figure out another job situation to support our lifestyle (mainly, her desired lifestyle and by extension, the kids. On my own, I don’t need a lot to make me happy).

          A lot of these mental and physical problems arose from my stress at trying to make the FW XW happy. I was half-killing myself to figure out how to keep her happy, and still maintain a small bit of happiness for myself.

          As the discard process started (in earnest after we were forced to downsize due to my reduced salary at my then new job: mattress salesman) that small bit of happiness for me started to shrink. I knew something was wrong in the way she was treating me, but I couldn’t step back to see what it was at the time. Now I know she was discarding me.

          I had all this shit impacting me health-wise, while she and her AP boss were probably mutually seducing each other over roughly a two year period. I have no doubt her narcissism and discarding of me contributed to my health problems, even before I was in trouble with my job situation.

          So I definitely feel that for the majority of our marriage, even though I wasn’t even close to perfect, I did enough to satisfy her terms for staying married to me. But I really don’t know if there was actual love there. Once I couldn’t support the lifestyle we had attained and a job that provided her w/the status she wanted? I was out the door. I just didn’t know it.

          And again, if she was so unhappy, she could have made the ethical, moral choice and just asked for a divorce. It still would have gutted me, but it would have been a more honorable way to go.

          But starting to exit-affair me while telling me at the same time I need to step up, and get a job w/better pay and hours? Which led me to me deciding I had to go back to college, to learn something new, putting even more stress on me? I was literally in the middle of the semester of taking two classes towards a computer programming certification to meet her request when I confronted her about her iciness towards me for the past few months, and found out she’d been cheating on me w/her boss.

          No. That shit was not right. Not fucking right at all. And I don’t think I will ever forgive her for it. I knew my work situation and depression was putting her and the kids through a lot of stress. But I didn’t plan to burn out in pharmacy. I wasn’t cold -heartedly deciding to stress out her and the kids (and myself as well). And I certainly didn’t want to be as depressed as I was around them.

          But she unilaterally and w/a cold heart fucked me and the family over w/her adultery (God, those months I now definitely know she was carrying on a full physical and emotional affair w/her boss! The coldness from her!). I was confused, depressed but still so in love w/her. Told her I loved her constantly, sincerely thanked her for putting up w/me and my problems, and tried to show her I loved her to the best of my ability at the time.

          So, no. I don’t think there was ever real love there. I was simply a reasonably good husband appliance for awhile. Then I wasn’t. So it was time to discard me.

          Well, to paraphrase from one of my favorite novels to address the FW XW:

          Fuck you fuckwit. Fuck you for all eternity. I’m so glad I’m done w/YOU. As much as I can be w/sharing three kids w/you.

          Thanks again, Anna, for clarifying this. It’s very helpful. Peace and love to you and those you love. Stay well.

  • For the few months FW was with his coworker AP behind my back before he walked out on us, I was mostly on edge. My brain kept telling me something was wrong. Something didn’t feel right. FW was getting more and more disconnected and picking fights and creating problems over nothing (just not paying bills and letting things fall apart). I didn’t have illnesses per se, but it wasn’t until he was gone that I realized that most of my marriage was spent in a general malaise. Just not happy. I was always dragging FW along like dead weight. He wouldn’t have sex. It was just bleh. The freedom I felt when FW left (after I got past the trauma, crazy weight loss and despair the first year) was incredible! I felt younger and more free and happier than ever. FWs ARE an illness

    • I think our bodies know for sure.

      The year before the year of discard I was feeling so down. Oh I went about my work and duties, and I even enjoyed our time with friends; but the joy seemed to be gone. Towards the end of that year, I began to get upset at fw more than I ever did. I remember one day after work in the parking lot, I put my head on my steering wheel and prayed. I told myself all my blessings and even said to myself and I quote “you have a husband that loves you”. HAH, I had no such thing and with a few months it would all be revealed to me. But, my body was screaming danger at me.

      I believe that we are reacting to small changes in them that we can’t quite grasp. I still wonder if they are doing the small changes on purpose, or if they are not aware of their behavior. Who knows.

      • After about 10 years of marriage, I started having compulsions – did I turn the stove off? The coffee maker? Did I lock the door? I’d check things repeatedly. I was constantly anxious. It drove my ex crazy. I went on antidepressants at his request. But, they helped only slightly. Before the discard, I started having nightmares of my ex saying he was leaving me and just walking away from me in my dream. They were the same dream over and over. I’d tell him about it and he’d say, “I’d never leave you.” Well, he did exactly what he did in my dream. Walked away from a 30 year relationship like I was nothing. And, I guess I was nothing to him after all that time. He, too, mentioned us being friends and still going to concerts together. Image management. It’s all a farce. Since he’s left, my compulsions have subsided and my anxiety has waned. Your body knows the whole time.

    • This resonates with me. So sorry you dealt with it too! FW used to overly care about his stuff, bills, work, his health. Since D-day he’s let everything slide. I’ve taken over so much more to make sure it got done and he just keeps sliding into despair. He “just feels so awful as a person because of what he’s done to me and what he’s become”. Without the alcohol, porn, and visits with hookers he can’t make himself have sex either. He’s “so worried about not being able to perform”. Guess I shouldn’t have told him he never really gave me orgasms. What-evs. Ha!
      Unlike others, I gained weight when not eating for months. Have a stomach pouch that sucks, can’t sleep past 2:30 on weekdays, am dizzy, force myself to eat, and forget words. Am picking myself up though and emotionally distancing. Financially, divorce can’t happen right now. Am writing a progression plan though.
      Go to the gym every morning with son before he goes to school, and that really helps.
      I’m stuck on being alone, but realize that I’m alone right now. Worse actually, feel rejected every day.

      • BTAW, It is better and healthier to be alone than living in that unhealthy situation. It would be better for you and your children to move out or have FW move out. Take care.

  • Yes, due to all the gas lighting and lack of sleep after affair discovery and his continued double life and abuse, I also ended up in psych hospital. Though I’m no gym bunny I now feel genuinely healthier, happier and no longer disturbed and on edge daily. Divorce, finances, kids arrangements is still really stressful. But I can handle them now I am in the driver seat of my life. Happy Friday fellow chumps! X

  • I have had a recurring nightmare whenever I experience stress, throughout my lifetime. I feel I am paralyzed; I know I need to move to stay alive, or stop an impending disaster, but I cannot move my arms or legs. I don’t need an advanced degree in psychology to figure this one out. My mind knows what I need to do, and the lack of movement stresses me out. I have even made a sound loud enough to wake myself up! I learned years ago to pay attention to those small voices inside my daydreams and nightmares. Social constraints and FOO training do not overcome an instinct to survive. Listen to your instincts, examine the clues your body gives you. It is amazing what we know, even if we are not ready to accept what we know.

      • Yes. Either I have not started taking action, or I am somehow prevented from taking action. My panic is that if I stay still, I know I will die. Sometimes it is a FOO issue I have to overcome, sometimes I am being actively restrained by the intentional actions of another, sometimes I cannot seem to get others motivated to help me get moving. The stress may be from different sources, but my subconscious realizes I have to start moving to survive. As an adult, I interpret the dream as stress related, and once I am awake, and moving, I need to examine what is going on and what I can do to relieve the helpless feeling. If I am really stressed, I dream I cannot move and I am falling.

        Ex #1 once told a marriage counselor, in a joint session, everything would be fine in our marriage if I would just be silent and wait quietly for him to provide for the family. The counselor was amazed that he would say something like that, and that he thought that was what I would do. He asked my STBEX, “How likely do you think that is?”” My STBEX looked at me, and replied, “I guess not likely.”

        Imagine being restrained in a chair and watching a thief remove all the things you have worked so hard for all your life from the room. You know you are losing what is rightfully yours, and you wonder if the thief will actually kill you before he leaves. That is the feeling of panic due to the stress of living with a cheater.

  • Had it all- teeth grinding, nightmares, back pain, bouts with serious infections…after the divorce, I went to my chiropractor for a scheduled visit. He noticed my neck issue was healed up. I told him, “yeah, the pain in my neck is finally gone!” I’m much healthier, barely ever sick and nightmares have finally stopped!

    • For Christmas, XFW gave me an electric neck massager, because I had chronic neck tension/pain. After I moved out with my kids, I gave him the neck massager back and was tempted to write a note with it — “I no longer need this, because the pain in my neck (you) are gone!” And it’s true! My neck pain and tension have been gone since I moved away from him!

      Also gone is the recurring nightmare I had the last four or so years of my mirage. I used to wake-up around 1:30, heart racing and frozen in fear. The recurring dream was I was all alone in the world. The even crazier part is that the FW actually came home from his date with the newly divorced whore at 1:25am! Crazy that my recurring nightmare had me waking up at the same time I discovered the FW was dating when he was supposedly “working”.

      Another thing gone is the constant stomach pain. I honestly thought I had an ulcer the last few years of my mirage. I used to constantly down Tums and liquid antacids to get rid of the pain.

      It’s amazing to me that my body knew something was terribly wrong, but I didn’t.

      • Martha, You could be describing me right now. Due to finance entanglement I am still in contact with the stbx. But it is getting better. Some days are harder than others. I to have started referring to my marriage as a mirage. The body keeps the score. It is a truth, just one of the harder ones to accept. You got out, all chump nation got out. This site is a life line right now. You all give me hope and inspiration. thank you.

  • What’s with the 30ish pound weight loss? Is it a percentage of original weight? A maximum response to increased cortisol and adrenaline? I lost that much in a few months though I can’t say I completely lost my appetite. I chose to quit drinking alcohol at the same time and all my health numbers improved.

    I think the cognitive dissonance has been the longest lasting symptom. The sense of separateness, hypervigilance, a bit of OCD (need to be efficient). I also have to work hard in my mindfulness practice to head off rumination and judgmental words. There’s also been the welcomed memory loss of big parts of my 30 year marriage

    That number 30 again.

    • I lost 30 lb too. I didn’t have it to lose. I ended up at 96 lb (I’m 5’2″). I was just skin and bones. A size 00 was almost too big. Everything I ate made me feel nauseated. I lived on cigarettes, coffee, Doritos, and the occasional beer, because that’s all I could stomach. (The sickest part is that people COMPLIMENTED ME ON MY WEIGHT LOSS; when I was, under doctor’s strict orders, FORCING myself to eat, I got a lot of “I wish I could eat like that and be as slim as you”. It took a lot not to say “I’m choking it down because I’m under medical orders to to gain weight so I don’t die or end up with serious health issues, and my doctor has forbidden me to exercise until I put on 20 pounds”. I looked sick, with hollow, dark circles under my eyes and sunken cheeks, and all people could see was that I was thin, like that’s the ultimate goal. Ugh.)

      My ex (who had been calling me fat and ugly when I was 128 lb) told me, when I lost the weight, had the audacity to say that I “didn’t look good”. Jesus H. Christ.

      I’ve gained it all back (and then some) since I got therapy (and filed for divorce) a few years ago. Even now it is hard for me not to feel like I’m “fat”, though frankly I’d rather have a few extra pounds and be healthy than be where I was three years ago. I got rid of all my super skinny clothes because I never want to be that size again. The best compliment I get is when people say that I look happy.

      • At 5’ 3”, klootzak always said I was fat at 130 pounds. It seemed to be my body’s happy weight, though, as I could maintain 130 while eating reasonably and working out reasonably. It took a lot of constant effort to get under that number and I never wanted to invest more than X numbers of hours in my week to working out and scrutinizing every bite I ate.

        At 18, I weighed 106 and was constantly sick. I could imagine, though, that klootzak would have preferred me to be a sickly 106 than a healthy 130. He constantly stressed me out about my weight and working out. So much so that I still have a bit of an aversion to working out because it so much became something I did to shut him up rather than for my own happiness and healthiness. It will take years for me to unravel him from my mind when it comes to my weight.

  • Weight loss, hair loss, so many health problems to choose from while I was with FW, but the big “it disappeared after he left” health problem? UTIs. Had ’em when I was with him but after he left… they miraculously disappeared. No more pain while peeing. What a life upgrade.

    • Not sure how to classify one of my symptoms – vaginitis maybe? A low-level irritation of my lady parts. Almost like that part of my body was tensed up and dry all the time. When STBX moved out of the house, the irritation alleviated. Then started having a clear, watery fluid consistently flowing. Maybe it sounds kooky but I truly feel it was my body cleansing herself. Washing out the past, if you will.

      • I had that, too. My lady-bits doc said that introducing new flora from a new sex partner can set it off. My ex was meeting women on Craigslist. 🤢

        • Last time we had sex was a year ago. The irritation only started this past spring. I think it may have had something to do with him still living in our home, knowing we were headed towards divorce, and the feeling of inauthenticity it induced.

        • Reading this now I think docs call it a “vaginal flora issue” when their patients can’t face reality. I had a lady-bits problem and my doctor wanted me to give me an std test. Chumpy me said that wasn’t necessary since my husband would never cheat. So she dropped the idea of the test, but still wrote me an Rx for a powerful antibiotic and it cleared up. Such a wise doctor… and such a stupid chump.

      • I think it’s wise to see a doctor when anything changes in your discharges. It can be a range of different things, but only medical testing will tell you the truth.

  • While I was with my cheating ex husband – chronic tonsillitis. Since I left him – not had it in the 4 and a half years he’s been gone.

    While I was with my cheating, abusive, violent, sociopathic ex boyfriend (oops I did it again!) – unexplained drastic weight loss, night sweats, gut issues, terrible skin, recurrent yeast infections, neck and shoulder pain, heart palpitations – 4 months since I left him – all gone!!

    • This!!! I had such bad chronic tonsillitis they took my tonsils out at 36. Along with that, constant TMJ. I also had terrible heart palpitations that began at age 28, the year we moved in together. One episode was so bad that I had to be given some crazy drug to reset my heart. Then my cardiologist had to do a heart ablation. They actually go in and purposely scar part of your heart to prevent it from reverting back into that crazy cycle. Wow–talk about the body keeping score.

  • With FW I had:

    Depression
    Stress
    Hyper vigilance
    IBS
    Gluten intolerance
    Hideous PMS
    Yearly bronchitis
    Asthma
    Low self esteem
    Extreme Confusion and “forgetfulness” (gaslighting)
    Anxiety
    Feelings of isolation
    Negativity
    A hard time relaxing
    Frustration
    Feeling trapped

    After DDay I had (for 2 years):

    PTSD
    Severe anxiety
    Panic attacks
    Suicidal ideation
    Disassociation
    Anger
    Loneliness
    Heavy drinking
    Extreme weight loss
    Heart arrhythmia
    Positivity despite it all
    A massive empathy for others
    A strange sense of calm sometimes

    Now I have:

    No IBS
    Normal weight
    No heart issues
    No respiratory issues, no asthma
    Fewer allergies
    Focused
    Relaxed
    Calm
    Perspective
    Easy transition to menopause
    Enhanced sexuality
    Better skin
    Brighter eyes
    Higher self esteem
    Much more confidence in spite of it all

    Reflecting on this week’s re-run post about Ester’s dumb ass theories, we should send her the link to today’s post where she can see how we all nearly went down due to death by 1000 cuts. Those who haven’t felt the deep sting of this kind of betrayal and abuse will never fully understand.

    I’m proud to be a Chump and thank you ChumpLady and Chump Nation for helping me survive and thrive. I literally needed this post every day and still do because I need my tribe to keep me going! ❤️

      • I had it too in the years when I was being cheated on and didn’t know it. I was even diagnosed with PMDD and on medication. With medical tests and a symptoms diary, my doctor and I determined the worst times of my cycle so that I could take better care of myself and keep my stress down. Douchecanoe chose these times to pick fights, gaslight me or put me down for maximum effect.

        • Much later, looking back, I can see that whenever I was calm and have my shit together, Cheater would often create a difficulty or problem to upset or preoccupy me.

          One odd yet typical example was when we were moving. I had a house to sell and 2 little kids, a job to get etc etc and he randomly told me that there was no mail delivery to the house. (Im like a little kid with mail – everyday I look forward to it arriving like there is some great thing coming – its just a funny quirk of mine.)

          Of course that sent me spinning for a minute or an hour or a day or whatever…it wasn’t true and if I had confronted him, he would say he had been mistaken or was kidding but multiply this by thousands for the many times he did it. He seemingly couldn’t afford for me to be calm and balanced or I might figure his game out. Gaslighting…everyday

  • i have SVT (supraventricular tachycardia), a life-long condition of periodic increased heart rate. basically, there’s something wonky with the electrical wiring of my heart. it isn’t life-threatening and, for the past few years, i’ve taken a beta blocker to keep things even. i monitor my heart rate with an apple watch.

    anyway, in the last couple years of my marriage i was having more episodes and, in fact, that’s when i was diagnosed. but ever since my marriage ended, i’ve had fewer episodes, and am down to 3-4/year. even with the stress of divorcing an active alcoholic and narcissist (gah), i’m calmer and my heart rate is lower. so is my blood pressure.

    i don’t have many migraines anymore, either.

    • That’s so interesting. I also had tachycardia, which got worse during the affair/separation, and since FW died last year I haven’t had a single episode…

  • I had the same, problem, Fourleaf! Now, no more UTI’s and no more panic attacks. I’m working on getting to a state of health in all areas: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially!

  • Fibromyalgia. Hard to nail down as a diagnosis, but often related to stressful events over many years. So basically soft tissue pain that is ALWAYS present. Also comes with the added bonus of insomnia.

  • Since leaving my partner a few weeks ago following his prostitute use, my ‘permanent, antibiotic resistant’ uti has miraculously cleared up and various ailments improving. Can’t believe how quickly that’s happened!

  • I lost over 20 lbs, constant UTI’s, ulcers, anxiety, depression, insomnia. BUT the weird one was a pain behind one ear, I went to ENT’s , dermatologists, and internal dr’s, they could find nothing. Left the cheater and it was gone. Stress is a bitch and your body pays for it.

    • Is the UTI one a common one for women? I ask because heven though FW wife abandonded me two months ago for OM, she’s still on health insurance til we are divorced and I saw a claim for her recently for a UTI. Maybe she’s suffering a little bit too. Hard to believe…

      • It’s likely because she’s having sex with multiple partners. Good riddance to that mess! Better days ahead, sir. Your stock will trade high once your free and healed!

      • A lot of women get reoccurring UTIs, and having multiple partners can be a reason, but is certainly not the only reason. Sometimes you can have a urinary track that is super sensitive to even small amounts of bacteria. I couldn’t take a bath for over 30 years because of bacteria in the water. I can now since I’m no longer having sex with the human petri dish that is the FW, but I do have to be extra careful about cleaning the tub first.
        Even wearing tight pants can predispose your UT by irritating it. Anything the causes irritation can allow infection set in.

        • I used to have a UTI set off if I didn’t shower at the gym but came home to shower instead. Just the time of the car ride home in sweaty shorts would set it off. For years I had to be super vigilant to shower quickly right after workouts or yard work. I was super sensitive.

          I also couldn’t take baths.

          Now that I don’t sleep with a FW, UTI is so rare. I have had only one in the last 8 years.

  • Went into the marriage with a minor heart blip. Now it’s major.

    I developed a stress-related rash on my face that took multiple doctors and prescriptions and time after separation to get under control. It still flares up occasionally; it’s how my body tells me I’m under stress without knowing it.

    My sleep pattern appears to be permanently altered; I don’t get enough from years of hypervigilence and punishment from him. And it’s rare I sleep without waking up every hour or so.

    My neck is a mess. Frozen muscles. Vagus nerve is a freaking carnival.
    And the broken bones. No actual punches were thrown, but mysterious trips and falls occurred. I went to a different clinic each time but one finally picked up on what was happening and sent in a social worker to give me a list of resources before casting my foot.

    I was just in a constant state of stress and bewilderment from the abuse and gaslighting.

    The night of D-Day, I became violently ill. Lost 10 pounds in just a few days. Lost another 5 within a month. Had to force myself to eat. Friends in the know had me keep a couple of cans of “senior” protein drinks in my car so I would get nutrition when I ran routine errands.

    I pick-me danced for several months before working on the escape plan. It was like living in a field planted with land mines. He had ramped up the abuse after D-Day; a monster was awakened and went ballistic on me at every opportunity.

    Although now free and safe, some damage is permanent. And some issues will resolve with time, I hope. Tuesday has come and things do get better.

  • In ~2000 when we were ostensibly a happy family (except that he suggested that he move to go to grad school by himself and I stay with the kids – 3000 miles away…for almost 3 years – red flag). I had zero sex drive (likely from chronic badgering and belittling), I was always cold and other hypothyroid sorts of symptoms. I consciously had zero suspicious of cheating but I now think there was all sorts of shit going on.

    Right when I turned 40 and he was deep in it, I looked old and bedraggled. Dday happened and I lost weight, my hair fell out in chunks and I had hives.

    Now in my late 50s, I look younger than I am, I feel well and Im remarkably healthy. I will put in a plug for alcohol-free/ low alcohol-intake living (Im not shaming your glass of wine) but my mom destroyed her brain/life with heavy drinking and I am choosing to avoid that path.

  • I was wearing a heart monitor for 48 hours to see if I was having mini strokes. I went through a sleep study to see if I had sleep apnea. I was drinking wine with dinner every night. I dreaded going to bed and having to sleep next to him. I’ve been out 8 years and these memories are so far from my mind now… I’m so grateful to have found CL and CN. And, I pray daily for his GF/fiance because I know he hasn’t changed.

  • My mental health was so off, I was turning down activities with our (now MY) adult children and little grandchildren bc I was always trying to figure out what I was missing with him. Rushing off to office to see if he was actually where he said he was. The financial infidelity was so awful, so out of character. I started losing weight and hair too. Then came Dday, and discovering his infidelity, a month or so later, the drug use and thank goodness, LACGAL. When I filed and took back my power, I thought he’d immediately seek treatment (and of course give up young woman). Slowly I have gotten my back to myself. My teeth and wallet have $uffered from the grinding. My body cleared the HPV within 6 months. Still working on confidence.

  • In 2016, after taking three rounds of antibiotics for what I was told was bronchitis and eventually ending up in the hospital with double pneumonia (after working a 14-hour shift in a restaurant on Mother’s Day), I was diagnosed with a rare lung infection called micobacterium avium intracellulare (MAI). MAI is for all intents and purposes TUBERCULOSIS. The only difference is that it is not communicable person to person (it is environmental). This disease is almost always found in people with severely compromised immune systems (AIDS patients, the very elderly) or in tropical climates (since it has to be inhaled in an aerosolized state). My infectious disease doctor said she saw it a lot in Cambodia. Most people fight it off with no issues at all.

    I was at real risk of dying from this disease. My lungs looked like swiss cheese – full of holes. I was coughing up handfuls of green phlegm. My coughs sounded hollow and deep, like a drum. I couldn’t walk up a staircase without stopping halfway to rest. Walking down a hallway at a moderate pace left me gasping and sweating with a racing heart like I’d just run a sprint. I was put on a brutal antibiotic regime (four different medications). Things like Rifampin, that turns every bodily fluid you have orange (like your tears and sweat), with the possible side effect liver damage. One of the drugs had a potential to make me go blind. Another drug, Amikaycin, had to be administered intravenously, so I had a PICC line placed in my arm with a catheter that went straight to my heart. One of the side effects is nerve damage to your ears and possible deafness. A few weeks after I started on it, I developed tinnitus, and had to stop. I still have lingering effects from that, but thankfully we stopped in time and I am not deaf (though certain sounds are painful for me). I was on the medications for nearly two years. Had the drugs not worked, the next step would have been chemotherapy and possibly removal of portions of my lungs. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that.

    With the PICC line in my arm, I wasn’t supposed to lift anything over 8 pounds, nor make repetitive motions with my arm (like vacuuming). FW never lifted a finger to help with the housework, and instead left me to lug baskets of laundry up and down two flights of stairs (when I couldn’t breathe), lift and carry our toddler, and clean. I had to stop working for three months, doctor’s orders, so I didn’t die. And far from being concerned or taking care of me, FW missed no opportunity to tell me how much he resented the fact that I couldn’t work and make money and that it was all up to him to “carry us”. He called me a ball and chain around his ankle, worthless, lazy, useless, a waste of space. Daily. We nearly lost our house because he was laid off his job (but of course, it was all MY fault).

    The thing is, I was a healthy 35 year old woman. I had no comorbidities, no risk factors, hadn’t traveled. There was no reason in the world why I should have gotten it. That question has never been answered from a medical standpoint. Nor do I know where/how I contracted it.

    My personal belief is that my body was so worn out with the stress of my abusive marriage that I had nothing left to fight with. I was dealing with vicious verbal abuse daily, with neglect, with emotional abuse. I was blamed for every problem we had. In the midst of my treatment for this disease, my ex met OW and the affair was begun within a few months. So gaslighting, lies, and eventually being dumped (via text message!) was added on top of the rest. And the abuse only got worse after we separated. I no longer had active disease, but my lungs were a mess of scar tissue and cavities, making everyday activities exhausting and leaving me vulnerable to every upper respiratory sickness that came around. I got pneumonia at least once a year, once landing me in the hospital.

    Three and a half years of pick me dancing while he lied to me. I couldn’t eat or sleep, had terrible anxiety, could barely function. I lost over 30 lb (I was only 98 lbs at my lowest, basically a skeleton with skin). I would lie in bed and shake uncontrollably. I cried every day.

    Then finally I could not deny my gut, my eyes, my ears, and I was ready to be done. Divorce proceedings began. FW amped up to legal abuse, stalking, trying to blackmail and intimidate me, threats of harm, threats to take my child away, accusations of child abuse, you name it. Fortunately, I got myself into therapy, got a kickass lawyer, and had the truth (and evidence to back it) on my side and the court didn’t buy it. Eventually OW left my STBX and he spiraled out of control, in the end taking his own life in despair.

    Fast forward to today. STBX has been dead just about a year. My life is good. I’m happy. The stress is gone. I’m financially stable. I no longer worry about my son. I no longer have to endure abuse or fear what FW will do next. And guess what? I just got a follow up CT scan and check up from my pulmonologist and the very last hole in my lungs has healed (since my last scan a year ago)! It is amazing what removing the stress (or having the stress removed) from you life can do for your health. I’ll never be 100% again, but for the first time in five years I can take a deep breath, both literally and figuratively, and it is good. Never underestimate just how big a toll these people take on our lives and health.

  • No more BV and yeast infections. I don’t think I need to go into why. 5 years FW free! Happy Friday!

    • Happy Friday indeed. Even though as I read/write this, it’s Saturday.😊 A shout out to ISawTheLight. You are an amazing recovery story. I’m so glad you got away from the FW XH, and that he committed suicide. I don’t like normally saying that personally, but it sounds like he was a horrible person in general and to you specifically. So I think he got what he deserved.

      I’m glad he’s gone for your sake. And for every other woman in CN that was not only put through the infidelity wringer by their FW XH or partner, but abused by them as well. It’s unconscionable what these assholes do.

      We don’t tend to have any reports in CN of adulterous FW XW’s physically abusing the chumped husband; at least not to any level equal to what I’m hearing here (if I’m wrong, please let me know). The worst I got was the FW XW once flinging my keys at me hard in front of her roller derby friends. Doesn’t compare.

      I wish all of you that suffered abuse lots and lots of happiness and peace for you and your loved ones. You certainly deserve it.

      • Thank you. 🙂 After the first shock of finding my STBX dead (well, the cops did – I stayed outside), the overwhelming emotion I felt was RELIEF. It was over. Truly over.

        I felt guilty at first for feeling that way, but I don’t anymore. I was living in a constant state of high alert, poised for whatever he would do next. Once he was gone, I didn’t have to be vigilant all the time. I didn’t have to panic opening my email or answering the phone.

        My son misses his dad, and I let him have his good memories. I almost feel like it’s better for him to remember his dad like this, than for him to learned by experience what his dad was really like (he is a cute kid who wants to please, and so FW didn’t have too many issues with him), or have to deal with a string of his dad’s girlfriends and keep witnessing abusive relationships (since FW couldn’t be alone, and abusers rarely change). Maybe some day my son will want to know what really happened (I haven’t told him about the suicide, and he’s too young to really grasp infidelity or narcissism), but for now I just let it be.

  • I am actually suffering the health effects now, post DDay.
    My marriage seemed generally pretty good, and I never knew about the cheating before that. Ever since I have chronic anixiety and depression as well as terrible insomnia. I don’t know how I continue to function on such little sleep. It’s debilitating. As i said to my sister the other day “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”.
    No one I talk to about it can remotely understand the level of cruelty this is, to be cast away without warning after thrity years, and for her to move right out and into OM house. Why do we have to suffer all the consequences?

    • Agree it is so hard to get through.

      If there is anyone at all you can talk to, I would encourage you to do it. Maybe a close friend, a sib and tell them you aren’t asking them to fix the problem you just need to get the story out.

      My big regret is that I held it in out of embarrassment, confusion, fear of being called bitter etc.

      I have been blessed with a wonderful post D life including great husband and his wonderful family and mine. However, when fw pulled shit with our son some twenty or so after the fact, I went into a tailspin. I talked to my brother and told him everything. He was devastated that I didn’t tell him in real time, as he knows how bad it was to hold it in.

      I realized while holding it in what I was really doing was holding anger at myself in for not standing up to that piece of shit. Screw taking the high road.

      You don’t have to break laws or really hurt anyone else, but some key folks need to know about those ass wipes.

      I did tell my husband a lot, but I even held in some of the worst of it until a couple years ago.

      It was only then that I did some research to help my son and his wife and I found CL. Oh if only I had someone like CL at the time.

      This crap is hard and it changes us forever. Doesn’t mean we can’t go on with life, be happy, have joy. The scars for most last forever though.

      • Thanks susie lee.

        I am in therapy, and I have two sisters and one dear friend that will listen any time I just need to pour it out.

        The affair and FW wife subsequent departure to live with OM IS out. Her parents haven’t spoken to her since that day, and I have had dinner, and been to their house a fair amount since then. They’ve been very supportive, as they’ve always treated me as if I were a son to them. FW has two siblings who know as well. I don’t think they really know how to handle it actually…

    • My marriage seemed generally pretty good too, Dadof2. It’s truly a shock to the system, right? Maybe you’ve mentioned it somewhere else but – have you talked to your doctor about sleeping meds?

      • I’ve been going to doctor sonce about a week after DDay. They’ve changed my sleep mediciation and dosage three times. I’ve tried meditation, Velarian tea, Melatonin etc… I fall asleep OK, it’s just I wake constantly and only ever get 4-5 hours a night. I do have an appointment with a sleep specialist in a few weeks.

        • Hey man
          Sleep isn’t your problem, but the stress is. Because of the stress you wake up early.
          You need to work out or go running to manage the bodily stress. Als you could go for a walk in the evening to get your stress levels down before you go to bed. Medication can assist in taking asleep but don’t take care of the underlying problem

          • What really helped me get the “stress” out of my body was boxing. There was a kickboxing circuit gym I signed up for. It was a brutal workout, but hitting the trainer’s mitt’s until there was nothing left was so cathartic. I’d be grunting and yelling my way through. I chose not to care what anyone else thought of me in the gym (a 30 something woman sounding like Serena Williams on the court in her workout, lol), I was going through some shit. I followed up my workouts with a primal scream in the car, and often hysterical sobs would come pouring out after. Was I a ridiculous mess? Yes… but it was healing.

          • Dadof2sons,

            You are in VERY early days!
            Sadly, you are at the beginning of a long slog to peace; the divorce process with kids will be tough.

            Listen to GuideDog.
            Sleep isn’t your problem. You are loaded with stress and the only way to get to the other side will be to plow through it.
            You need to be mindful of your eating and get daily exercise (even just walking or playing with your kids).

            You need as much support through this as possible. A great lawyer and a fabulous therapist along will get you further than any sleep study.

            If you haven’t read Chump Lady’s book, keep it next to your bed. When you can’t sleep read it multiple times and take notes.

            Also, read through all the many years of old posts. There are many tips and advice that will help you SO much.

            We are here for you!

            • Thank you Rebecca (and everyone else) I appreciate it. The fortunate thing as far as children go is they are adults, living on their own. I know I am LOADED with stress, and my therapist said it is a cycle that tends to feed on itself. I do have good support, family and close friends, and my lawyer and therapist are both good.
              Believe me, I’ve trolled through the archives quite heavily already. I need to get the book.

        • This is exactly like me and I am more than a decade out from DD. I still have days when I wake and find myself thinking about it all, like background music on replay. I hate that they live in my head.

        • That sleep pattern is pretty normal for chumps for a while after Dday. Mine was 3 years ago today. I could only sleep if my iPad was on a repetitive radio programme or a meditation session. I’d wake every half hour. Citalopram helped eventually but I still have nights like that now. I also lost a mass of weight and developed a terrible cough. My dr sent me for a chest X-ray to check for lung cancer. It was so fast and so dramatic. I fantasised about walking in front of vehicles. Tonight I’m on my way home from a black tie dinner at the Guildhall in London. I’m single and that’s fine by me. It is getting better and I have hopes for the future (climbing Kilimanjaro next year which FW would never have done). Hang in there. 30 years is a long time and it will take time to recover. But you will get over this.

    • We understand on this blog. We have all been there. I went to the dr to get medications for depression and insomnia. It helped. The meds allowed me to think clearly and function. You can’t think straight when your mind and body are in constant anxiety and stress.
      I was married almost 30 years and it was terrifying to be alone,…BUT I am 5 yrs out and it is so much better. Seek help if you need it, but just know that you will get through this!

    • I hear you, dadof2. I could have written your words although 25 year marriage (ahem, mirage) and 4 kids.

      Better days are ahead. It’s been 8 years for me- 6 since divorce. I’m completely no contact. Engaged to a loyal man. Life is wonderful. Things will get so much better now that she’s gone. I promise you.

    • Dadof2sons, it’s completely unfair and I keep trying to tell myself that they have to live with themselves. None of it makes sense unless we look at it from a cluster B: narcissism/sociopath perspective. I thought I had a great marriage but then upon reflection I can see the red flags now. Take things one day at a time, try to stay hydrated and eat small meals if you can. Don’t keep things inside- it is your story to tell. There is also the Reddit group and you can post there for support. <3

      • Thanks. I too see the red flags in the rear view mirror; they just didn’t seem so big at the time, and I never added them all together. I’m lookng for outlets and support and will certainly lean on the good folks here in addtion to my real world support network.

        • Dadof2sons we know. We are all with you. My 31 Yr mirage was a good one… Or so I thought. Its only upon reflection now that I see there were many red flags. I was the spackle queen! It’s been 2 years since separation almost to the day. I endured 6 months of discard during 2020. The divorce was finalised this April. I found this site after searching the Internet for ways to end my life. The pain. The trauma. It felt relentless. I visited here everyday. CN is full of intelligent, witty, funny, empathetic souls. There is always something here I read that I really needed. Lots of good advice. I picked up a gold piece from LFTT about the house. I’m waffling I know but I really want you to feel supported by us!!

          Remember no contact is the way to go.

          We are all here for you. You can do this. You are mighty.

          • Thank you Claire. I’m so sorry to hear your story as well. It is relentless. I struggle to find joy these days, and am a bit jaded and cynical at the moment; I was never like that before. But…even though I always thought I was a very caring, emapthetic person those things have skyrocketed for me and I feel so much the pain I read about us poor Chumps and what we suffer, usually from people who show no remorse for their actions at all.

    • Dadof2 – The insomnia will improve. Probably best to just get up and use the time for self-care – exercise, healthy meal prep, decluttering. There’s something about cortisol levels in the early morning (maybe they’re at their lowest?) Check out Tara Brach’s podcast episode(s) called RAIN for mindfulness tips.

    • Suffering a fate almost identical to yours, Dadof2sons, I wondered the same. Why me? Then I think of the Bible text that says something about the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Someone earlier here said bad things happen to good people. Same thing.

      You’ve at least got a therapist to bounce your problems off on. Write this stuff down and ask him or her (or however they want to be addressed), if you’re not already doing that. CN is my cheap therapy, because my current job doesn’t allow me much time to either find or see a therapist. So I work my stuff out here. Or try to.

      This is going to sound odd, but after D-day, I found a children’s or young adult audiobook (read by the author) to listen to in the car w/my son (he was 11-12 years old at the time, but it’s how we still enjoy time in the car together).

      It’s called King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill[ill]-Advised Autobiography, by Chris Crutcher. Besides being hilarious, it’s chock full of grownup wisdom. He tackles the Why me? problem head on in a way I’ve never heard before. He was a social worker/counselor for years before he became an author. It’s chock full of wisdom that was obviously hard-won. I really recommend it. Especially to answer your: Why me? His answer may surprise you like it did me.

  • Depression & weight gain, loss of sense of humour.The xFW used to tell me I was the most unhealthy & unhappy person he knew. I used to feel so awful when he said that! Like I was a shit wife & mother! So he’s gone now & miraculously! so is my depression, weight gain & my sense of humour is back!! Hmm..didn’t have think too hard what the root cause of all that was!!!

    • Yes, the loss of a sense of humor was terrible! It was when I began laughing again that I knew I was getting back to being myself.

      • I need to get my sense of humor back too. I find such little joy in things these days, but I’m not that far out from DDay yet either.

        • I didn’t start to feel better (like my old self) until divorce was final, properties transferred, children were stabilized, my career took off, and I experienced a healthy relationship with a loyal man who treated me with respect and care (and, in full disclosure, a lot of really great intimacy helped heal me too). It was about 3-4 years out from Dday, and after divorce. Hang in there.

        • Be gentle with yourself, Dad. You are in the throes of untangling so much right now. You can’t have your life totally incinerated by a flame thrower and not still be suffering 3rd degree burns. Your therapist, doctors, and friends are carefully skin grafting at this juncture. But you are raw, and growing new skin is painful as hell.

          You will find peace. It begins and ends with NC and thank God our brains are wired to help with that. You’ll discover so much about what is divine and mighty in you. Let the scabs fall where they may. We are all here for you!

          • TheDivineMissChump
            Thank you so much. It really is still raw, just over two months out. I literally just got off the phone with my attorney. She’s putting together the divorce complaint now and it should be served on FW wife within a week. NC has been good to me, but she is still living rent-free in my head, even as much as I conciously try to shove her out. I’m triggered by so many things it seems…

            • Cheering you on from the sidelines. You are right in the midst of it and the advice to be gentle to yourself is excellent. We have all been there and we can all tell you it will be better.

    • I gained weight too and couldn’t lose it no matter what I did. When I left I dropped 10 pounds almost immediately and the sense of impending doom went away.

  • I had a weird rash on my arms, lost handfuls of hair, had urinary tract infections and lost 30 pounds. Long story short, I kept the 30 pound weight loss and lost the FW. I am healthy and happy now!

  • I just went to the dentist yesterday, to get quotes on two tooth extractions / implants (probably $10k).

    In the 45 years of my life before DDay, I had a total of three cavities. During the two months of in-house separation after DDay, I had extreme dry mouth (basically, two months of over the top adrenaline, panic attacks, extreme weight loss, etc) due to stress, resulting in 7 cavities, two of which were undetected (below the gum line) and have now destroyed a pair of teeth.

  • Mysterious frequent UTIs. Miscarriage. Ectopic pregnancy due to chlamydia. Almost died twice. Migraines. Ulcers. Repeat strep. Insomnia. Nightmares. Teeth problems. Hair loss. Extreme weight loss. Shaking. Vertigo.

    It’s a freaking miracle I’m still alive. His subsequent gf started developing same symptoms.

    They are evil.

  • Mine is a bit unusual, maybe far-fetched. In addition to loosing (and later getting back) 40 pounds, I lost my allergy to cat fur when moving out of the conjugal bed! I had been diagnosed allergic to fur and feathers since childhood. I had mild symptoms: a rhinitis (aka a cold) and coughing fits when triggered. Dust and tobacco smoke were also triggers. A feather pillow would induce snoring and sinusitis for 2 weeks. Same for cleaning the attic or taking care of horses. I love animals and always kept cats (sleeping outdoors), so my sense of smell was chronically poor. My ex knew that and had stopped smoking the year we got engaged. I noticed he was secretly smoking again three years before the divorce but he denied, denied, denied. When I moved out, I had to let my elderly cat sleep on my bed. I thought “who cares that I snore anyway?”. Well… Within 3 weeks my sense of smell came back and I haven’t lost it again! The kids tell me I don’t snore (much). Now, thinking of it, I never was tested when I was a kid, and my father was a smoker and a narc. My mother said he never smoked upstairs but who knows?

  • I developed three autoimmune conditions starting the first year of marriage. Didn’t think much about it until a few months ago when I read a data based article about the correlation between autoimmune diseases and domestic abuse. Have not had one moment of illness since he pranced out with his young thing….

  • I felt tired ALL THE TIME and had to get on anxiety pills which I blamed on my newfound motherhood. One time my anxiety got worse “out of nowhere” and I had to increase my dosage. I was so confused as to why and XH simply said “that sucks.” Turns out he was cheating on me! I’m almost 1 year out from leaving him, 3 months out from divorce and I’m getting off my anxiety meds and no longer feel exhausted 24/7!

  • The biggest one was a loss of joy. I stopped singing in the car, I stopped dancing around my home, I stopped being silly… I simply stopped enjoying all the little things that can bring a smile to your face. The first time I started singing & chair dancing in my car after dday was such an epiphany!

    On the physical side, I developed rosacea on the right side of my face, insomnia, depression, panic attacks, skin & hair were dull and lifeless, constant anxiety & hypervigilance, canker sores, cold sores, season allergies that needed an inhaler, and just overall sadness. With the exception of the rosacea, which still flares up with stress, every single ailment cleared up after dday. My body finally had a source for all the stress it was holding & was able to let it all go.

    I’m 3.5 years from dday & almost 3 years out from the divorce and I feel like the old me. I will never lose her again!

    • Klootzak would never let me sing along with music. To quote him, “I don’t put music on so I can hear YOU sing.” So very early on, I stopped singing. I grew up in a home where people sang when they were happy. Just that change alone started to suck the joy out of me. I stopped even putting music on in the car when I was alone because it had become ingrained that I could only listen to music and not sing along and it was torture, so I commuted to talk radio or silence.

      Looking forward to spontaneously busting out in song someday. It’s currently a mental effort to tell myself it’s OK to sing instead of something that just happens. I need to get happy first.

      • What an ass. My ex was like this and once told me that if I sang along to an old musical we were watching on vhs I would “ruin it”. I dont have a great voice …but ffs. This is a way for them to take away our small joys. So glad you are healing from him and his abuse

      • I’m sorry that you are still dealing with that pain & his heartless comments.

        I hope you find your joy and break out in song very soon!!

  • Gigantic welts erupted all over my body. I saw a dermatologist who told me it was from the chronic insomnia and stress, and that they would likely clear up after my divorce was done. She was right.

  • I am likely old enough to be your aging mother.

    I am doing pretty well for 73 next month. However, I do believe that the high sugar situation started not long after my traumatic and rather quick discard. I was 40, so maybe it was just getting older, but the issue does not run in my family, so don’t know.

    I didn’t start to really feel the effects until a few years ago, though I knew I was borderline. I have nerve damage in my feet, though now I have it under control sans meds and with diet and exercise.

    I also had some significant hair loss about a year after the D. Much of it returned, but it never went back to its fullest. I am so glad I had really thick hair, other wise I might be wearing a wig now.

    So yeah, I am happy to pin that on fw.

  • Klootzak announced he wanted me to move with him but then “find (my) own place to live” just as the pandemic started. Then I faked disagreement with the idea to buy time and line up ducks. So the health symptoms I have had, I have not been sure are from living with him while plotting my escape or from the pandemic and peri menopause.

    My entire marriage with him, I have been jumpy, jittery, anxious. Then when I made up my mind to leave, that seems to have dissipated. Because IDGAF about him anymore. I don’t let him near me. I look at him and am filled with disgust. But he no longer walks in a room and makes me jump.

    The other symptoms? My hair is thinner. I have gained 15 pounds, which is deeply upsetting to me. I also rarely sleep well. I had been doing fine with sleep for a while, but I am not sleeping well as I am now very close to filing. I have nightmares about semi trucks driving wildly toward me while I am in my house looking out the window, things being thrown at me by my mother, all kinds of stuff that makes me flinch. My heart races and then I can’t get back to sleep.

  • Even my dog is doing better. She used to do this repetitive lip licking thing that I read was a symptom of anxiety. Totally stopped when FW moved out.

    • Feeding, my elderly cat’s health also improved after I kicked exFW from the conjugal home! Yr comment makes me realise… I allowed the old cat to sleep on my because he appeared frail and close to death (as I commented elsewhere). Well, three years later he is stil alive, resplendescent fur and all. I even started vaccinatng him again! And he still sleeps occasionnally on the bed 😁

  • Symptoms I experienced after D-day:

    Weight gain ( cortisol stress belly)
    Overactive arousal reflex ( easily startled and jumpy and on high alert, waiting for the next shoe to drop)
    A deep profound sadness ( from a very optimistic person)
    Anhedonia
    Hyper vigilance
    Loss of humor
    Loss of purpose in life
    Deep sense of being unsafe in the world
    Cried daily for 3-5 years!
    Disconnection from life and people( robot, just existing, going through the moves but feeling separate from everything, a veil was up and I was on the other side of it)
    Sense of daily unsafety and impending doom
    Daily continual chest pain for over 3 years ( definitely stress, have no heart ailments)
    I was dx with breast cancer 3 years after the first D-day.
    Confusion and brain fog
    Altered concentration, difficult to stay on tasks
    Constant rumination
    Migraines
    Easily overwhelmed
    Emotionally labile
    Loneliness
    Lowered self esteem
    Anxiety
    Suicidal ideations

    Right after divorce:
    Had the above symptoms along with:
    PTSD
    Heightened startle reflex ( if I misplaced my cell phone, my knees practically gave out)
    Emotional disregulation ( just randomly started crying in the supermarket or wherever)
    Depression
    Felt an ego death experience ( who am I and what is even real? Where is the truth? I’d forgotten who I was at my core. Needed to reset ALL my beliefs about life and start from scorched earth level)
    Deep lack of trust and feeling unsafe in the world. ( paranoia)
    Felt like I suffered a trauma so severe it fit in no category I’d ever experienced or known could exist.
    Triggered constantly
    Felt an existential end to my life

    4 years post divorce:
    Intermittent waves of a profound internal peace ( wth?!)
    Deeper connection and appreciation for nature.
    Migraines gone
    Able to feel joy, even if fleeting.
    A calm presence and a heightened ability to take in the simplest of joys that show up.
    A deep gratitude for everything.
    A reconnection with my long missing and traumatized self.
    More spirituality
    Even tighter bonds with my kids,and we’ve always been close and connected.
    A pride and increased strength in myself for getting through something very few ppl in my life can fully understand. ( thank God for CL and CN!!)
    Appreciation for the freedom to be myself.
    A ineffable sense that the universe “ has my back”, so I rarely don’t feel alone.
    An awareness of the connectivity of everything and feeling like I am part of it all too. I belong here!!
    A massive sense of empathy for others.( as FKA also stated, which is quite an interesting phenomena)
    Increased self compassion and love
    Still feel a deep dark sadness that never fully lifts, but it’s like an old friend now that I understand and accept.
    My mind came back, and it’s always excitedly curious and voraciously growing and expanding.
    Humor back.
    Still flashbacks, ruminations and triggers, but I have more control over them now and can usually distract myself
    Stronger ~physically and mentally
    Pain in my chest just vanished one day.
    Still can easily and randomly just tear up, but I like the fact that I care very deeply and I don’t berate myself for it.
    Way way less anxious and worry prone almost like I’m not even an anxious person and I felt anxiety throughout my whole life with FW.
    Heightened curiosity about so many things, like I’m being reintroduced to the world.
    Heightened awareness and presence in the world.
    A genuine belief that I can rebuild my life and it’s going to be awesome! 😊👍

    • Chumpasauras, I copied the parts of your list that reflect my experience and added a timeline to help those more recent chumps:

      Symptoms I experienced after D-day:
      Dday to Divorce-Freedom day (26 month time span)—

      Rapid 25lb Weight loss
      Overactive arousal reflex ( easily startled and jumpy and on high alert, waiting for the next shoe to drop)
      A deep profound sadness ( from a very optimistic person)
      Insomnia
      Nausea
      Hyper vigilance
      Loss of humor
      Loss of purpose in life
      Deep sense of being unsafe in the world
      Crying daily
      Stopped reading or watching TV/movies
      Disconnection from life and people( robot, just existing, going through the moves but feeling separate from everything, a veil was up and I was on the other side of it)
      Sense of daily unsafety and impending doom
      Daily continual chest pain for over 3 years ( definitely stress, have no heart ailments)
      Facial rash
      Confusion and brain fog
      Altered concentration, difficult to stay on tasks
      Constant rumination
      Irritable and full of despair
      Nightmares
      Rage
      Teeth grinding
      Easily overwhelmed
      Emotionally labile
      Loneliness
      Lowered self esteem
      Anxiety
      Suicidal ideations
      PTSD
      Heightened startle reflex
      Emotional disregulation ( just randomly started crying in the supermarket or wherever)
      Depression
      Felt an ego death experience ( who am I and what is even real? Where is the truth? I’d forgotten who I was at my core. Needed to reset ALL my beliefs about life and start from scorched earth level)
      Deep lack of trust and feeling unsafe in the world. ( paranoia)
      Felt like I suffered a trauma so severe it fit in no category I’d ever experienced or known could exist.
      Triggered constantly
      Felt an existential end to my life

      5.5 years post divorce (8 years since Dday):
      Intermittent waves of a profound internal peace
      Deeper connection and appreciation for nature.
      Able to feel joy, even if fleeting.
      Enjoy reading and watching shows again.
      Look forward to future now.
      Pride in surviving and thriving
      Pride in getting free and filing for divorce- finalizing it and securing my financial future.
      Health great – nothing wrong now.
      Easy menopause.
      Look 10 years younger than my age.
      A calm presence and a heightened ability to take in the simplest of joys that show up.
      A deep gratitude for everything.
      Connecting with myself for first time in my life.
      More spirituality
      Even tighter bonds with my kids,and we’ve always been close and connected.
      A pride and increased strength in myself for getting through something very few ppl in my life can fully understand. ( thank God for CL and CN!!)
      Appreciation for the freedom to be myself.
      A ineffable sense that I have my own back and will care for myself
      A sense of empathy for others.( as FKA also stated, which is quite an interesting phenomena)
      Increased self compassion and love
      Still feel a deep dark sadness that never fully lifts, but it’s like an old friend now that I understand and accept.
      My mind came back, and it’s always excitedly curious and voraciously growing and expanding.
      Humor back.
      Occasional flashbacks, ruminations and triggers, but I have more control over them now and can usually distract myself
      Stronger ~physically and mentally
      Enjoy food
      Still can easily and randomly just tear up, but I like the fact that I care very deeply and I don’t berate myself for it.
      Way way less anxious and worry prone almost like I’m not even an anxious person and I felt anxiety throughout my whole life with FW.
      Heightened curiosity about so many things, like I’m being reintroduced to the world.
      Heightened awareness and presence in the world.
      A genuine belief that I’m better off without XH (even the version I thought he was) and that I’ll never suffer like that again (because I’ll never be vulnerable and dependent with no assets (I got my own in the divorce and by my investment since divorce) as a single mom with kids who need me 24/7 (kids grown) —
      I’ll never be ignorant of narcissistic abuse again.
      Thank God!

  • In the several months leading up to D day, I was having daily asthma attacks. I wasn’t responding to my steroid inhaler treatment. I was having terrible insomnia and entertaining suicidal thinking. I was self harming by digging my fingernails into my palms. In a very vague, hard to pin down way, I was being treated terribly in my marriage. And I was being gaslit over it. This had been going on for about three or four years, maybe more.

    Immediately on D-day, the asthma attacks stopped, like a switch had been flipped. I could sleep better. The suicidal fantasies were replaced by murderous fantasies—which isn’t ideal either, but was a huge upgrade over suicidal thinking. I think all of my physical health and mental health issues were the results of my felt senses being in a major conflict with my rational senses—i.e., the results of being gaslit to death for years.

    After D day and before divorce day (about 18 months) was no picnic either. But it wasn’t as bad as being gaslit to death.

    Nearly 7 years post divorce, I am so happy…. and so happy I am free of that selfish FW a-hole.

  • He literally crippled me, twice, for over three years, by kicking me hard in my knee, then my ankle, supposedly while dreaming he was playing soccer. He had never played it, and did not kick in his sleep other than these two incidents, when he managed to strike relatively small areas with amazing precision. Given our 1’3″ height difference, and since we both had our heads on our pillows, he had to pull his leg up incredibly high to kick my knee. In retrospect, I think these were deliberate. They gave him a reason to exclude me from any activities that required walking or standing.

    During his discard phase, I developed frequent GERD (heartburn), that would wake me, and I had migraines every two or three days.

    After discovery, I lost about 25 pounds or more (and sadly regained the weight). His parting gift was to beat me unconscious. I’m not sure when the sleep loss started, but I went from instantaneously falling asleep and staying asleep until the alarm went off, to waking with GERD during discard. For the two-plus years from when I filed until the divorce was final, I was awake much of the night, and if I fell asleep, I invariably woke up at 2, 3 and sometimes 4. My tween was also waking up screaming with nightmares about being tortured and killed because FW was secretly calling and terrorizing him.

    Despite all the stress, my GERD disappeared, and so did most of my migraines and UTIs. The GERD came back recently, after his attorney contacted me about a few issues that were left unresolved.

    As for mental health, in the year before separation, I was so miserable that I declined to got to my neighbor’s daughter’s shower, because I was afraid I’d burst into tears. The wedding was painful because I was so depressed by his barely-concealed hostility and contempt. Last week, when the white-haired woman who walks my dog twice a week invited me to her wedding. I was thrilled to accept. What a change!

  • Pretty sure the trauma of being betrayed jumpstarted menopause for me. STBX and I were in midst of attempting reconciliation. It’s like my body was trying to protect me from being impregnated by the traitor.

    Lots of same symptoms mentioned by others: weight loss, insomnia, heart palpitations, etc. Also experienced lots of physical pain in and around my heart. Heartache thanks to heartbreak. It’s real. Sometimes I would feel the ache in my back, behind my heart. Once I decided to dissolve my marriage – too hard to stay after everything that’s happened – the nagging, everyday heart pain disappeared.

  • Wow, I hadn’t even heard of the word sciatica before D-Day; and then I developed this pain in my hip (my butt really) and the outer part of my lower leg. I did the pick-me dance for a bit more than five months, and the pain was constant. Now I finally made up my mind and we are separating, and this literal PITA has started to wear off. I so hope it stays away.

  • Living in that toxic hell of a marriage turned on my alcoholism gene. I just wanted to escape and withdraw so badly but didn’t have the courage to leave for so long. I think he enjoyed me escaping to my cloud so he could keep having is affair, financially and emotionally abusing me. He encouraged it. I developed psoriasis, had shingles and had high blood pressure. I finally got help when I filed for divorce after his mistress called me at work. Almost 2 years sober now, normal blood pressure and no psoriasis off all medications. I would probably be dead or close to it now if I had stayed.

  • I had severe hip pain esp in bed for years. It completely went away after I left. I believe what I read that we carry emotions in the hips.
    I had hives once in my life prior to leaving when I knew I had to have a conversation regarding a kid which required a trip to the emergency room.
    No more UTIs.
    Now only occasional nightmares.
    Still have other health related issues I’m dealing with that was stress induced.
    Still have triggers.
    Trying to find who I am at this stage in life-late 50s- and where my old hobbies that I loved and had to abandon(ex reading) fit
    Working on focus and attention since it was spent twisted in a life that was not what I thought I was living.

  • Perfect timing Chump Lady! I had wanted to ask if it were possible to suffer the same ailments when the trauma resurfaces?

    Here’s a little back story for reference:
    My cheater left me, but my body knew something was off. I gained weight, stopped dreaming at night, lost all creativity, couldn’t sleep and had pain from tense muscles that required frequent chiropractic adjustments. Every muscle and joint ached.
    It has been nearly 2 years since he left. For the first year and a half, my health dramatically improved. But over the last 6-8 months we were wrapping up the divorce and all symptoms returned. My body feels the same as it did in the marriage. Now that the veil is lifted and we both know (but never acknowledge) he is a shithead, he doesn’t even try to be kind. His toxic way of speaking to me and lying has been at an all time high. Are these symptoms resurfacing because he has been more in my life? Or are they just me not being strong enough to manage the stress?
    I totally get how lack of creativity and dreams seems like a weird thing to add to health ailments list, but truly this is sooooo weird for me. I have dreamt my whole life and now, nothing.

    • The symptoms are resurfacing because the toxic ass-hat is in your life more. Do not blame yourself for your body’s response to the stress he brings you. My anxiety went through the roof during the divorce process. He knew what to say to push all my buttons. My therapist was an immense help with breaking that connection and disrupting those loops. Exhausting exercise complete with primal screams in the car after (usually followed by some serious sobbing) also helped release the stress.

      It’s funny, for years I had often had vivid dreams, but I had stopped dreaming the last few years we were together. Didn’t even realize it, until one day, a few months after moving back in with my mom, I realized I had dreamt that night for the first time in years! I used to have a creative side (not that I was ever any good, but I enjoyed drawing and working w/pastels, and used to write crappy poetry for myself). I haven’t had the inspiration to do any of that in well over a decade. Hope that creative side comes back to me some day too.

    • The one thing that everyone still in the divorce process needs to understand is that you cannot even begin to heal until the divorce is done and final.

  • What didn’t I have? I developed a tremor and actually saw a neurologist who told me there was nothing wrong with me. Constant yeast infections, Bartholin cyst, beyond heavy periods, eyelashes falling out every day, acne, back pain, knee pain, three broken molars, panic attacks every morning at 3am, constant anxiety to the point where one day my legs felt like jello and I could barely walk, confusion. When X left he told me there was always something wrong with me- yes it was being with him. (And guess what- all these symptoms disappeared when he left).

  • I lost 15 pounds in a month after D-Day even though I was still eating enough. For me it’s the start of correcting a health issue, though: I’d never been overweight until I met my fat, gluttonous, alcoholic FW. I ate and drank too much with him, gained 35 pounds, and couldn’t shed more than 5 pounds no matter what I tried. My body shape has completely changed, beyond what could be explained by 15 pounds – it’s like it just snapped back once I was free.

  • I always had lots of ailments from a young age forward and I have to say during the relationship with the cheater there were ups and downs. For the sake of our relationship I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and managed to solve or have a better relationship with some aspects of my health. But also I found that I would focus a lot on my health issues because I felt this pressure to be “perfect”. The saddest part is he would later accuse me to focus “too much” on my health, when I was trying to be healthy so we could have a happy life!

    He was supportive of my health needs until the very last stages, when he was cheating more actively and had gotten quite dismissive.

    Sadly, though, due to immense trauma and grief, and the increased demands due to survival on my own, took a tremendous toll on my body and 5 years after leaving, I’ve been through a lot of deterioration. Getting better now, but still have issues to solve (internal bleeding to be addressed, for example).

    I say this because I understand it’s a bit against the grain of this topic, but chumps need to know and not feel bad for the fact that your health MAY not improve and in fact worsen due to the stress you’re going to have to navigate. So be prepared to escape by having a PLAN. I left on impulse and dealt with the heavy aftermath (I don’t regret it, though. I was hoping my body would support me while getting out, but it did what it could).

  • I lost 30 lbs, starting losing my hair basically a week after the first affair came to light, developed an autoimmune disorder that I now have to take medication for the rest of my life to alleviate, had a cancer scare, numerous panic attacks, crippling anxiety, and suffered from complete insomnia, often going days without a wink of sleep. All of which my doctor directly attributed the stress of my personal life causing inflammation in my system.

    Of course, when I brought these issues up with my ex-wife, she would say, “Oh, you must really have some deep-seeded and suppressed emotional issues from your FOO that are now just coming to a head. You should see someone for the that.”

    Nope, not the five affairs, thousands of lies, thousands of dollars flushed on couples therapy, endless gaslighting, and the impending collapse of my family. It’s gotta be something I suppressed from years ago!!

  • My stick straight hair started curling! My DIL now teases me about my long mermaid tresses. Also, immediately when FW walked out the door to go be with schmoopie I quit digging at my nails and cuticles. All my marriage my fingers were in pain and bleeding, tore down to the quick. It was about two weeks (in the fetal position, of course) when I noticed I had nice, healed fingers.

    About 10 years before D-Day, I was throwing up in secret every night. My liver was on fire. A chiropractor did a biofeedback and offhandedly said, “Oh, you flagged for wheat. Not sure what that means, but you might want ot check into it.” That’s how I uncovered my gluten intolerance. I was unable to work for a couple of years and barely left the house. It became very obvious that I would not have any spousal support if I needed help to care for myself. After five years of gut healing, isolation, etc. I finally got well enough to take a job. And I knew I needed to be very independent and not let my self-care slack or it could be a downhill slide to a nursing home. In looking back, this was probably my first steps into breaking the narcissistic abuse cycle. My choices were to take care of myself or die, I knew that to be true. And he lost his direct control of my every move and every thought. I had to take attention and time away from him and it changed the dynamic.

  • I’m fairly sure that my chronic illness has, at least in part, been caused by tolerating sociopaths and internalising all of their hideousness for years. It’s an easy trap to fall into when you’re raised to babysit the feelings of caregivers. “I’m not worthy so I’ll take on the cruellest treatment because hey, they aren’t perfect either and I’m lucky to get whatever I can and maybe I overreacted to something that one time”.

    It takes a lot of work to change a belief system like that.

    Physical symptoms I generally suffer while in the belly of the beast are crushing headaches, tight chest, body pains, burning skin, dizziness. This in turn leads to sleeplessness and lack of appetite.

    At one point early in my self-liberation, I met an old friend and we went shopping. I tried to keep it light but I ended up fainting when I’d previously thought I felt fine. Never did find out why, maybe it was the fact I was run into the ground. This in turn revealed my friend to be a terrible person; she quite literally walked off while strangers helped me.

    After I got up and dusted myself off and some time passed, I quietly confessed that I was escaping abuse and that’s maybe why I was coming across strange. She barely looked at or spoke to me for the rest of the day and she then ghosted me even when my grandmother died days afterward. I never heard from her again.

    Ironically, she is now a nurse.

    This was a long time ago, I’ve come a long way. I suppose the point of my embellishment was this; toxic partners will kill you but so will people you never suspected. We need to raise a level of awareness about this too because toxic partners will always prosper while people supposedly on the side of the victim sign off on whatever they’re doing.

      • Thank you, I appreciate that. Apparently bad friends are not so uncommon!

        It’s a strange thing and probably a fault in the way a lot of us view others and situations but while I’ve been able to reconcile myself to horrible partners a little too well, the way SHE treated me has stayed with me for almost twenty years. I haven’t seen her in all that time and I still absolutely resent her.

        I feel like we have a level of acceptance when it comes to shoddy treatment in relationships (when we shouldn’t, to be honest) but when a supposed friend turns, it cuts deeper and presents even more questions.

        Hope to God she’s a better nurse than a friend!

  • I grew up in a violent household so I have always been hyper-alert, even while sleeping. My ex, who came to bed after me (up late watching porn–yes, he told me this) knew this, and either deliberately or simply because he was devoid of empathy, would make noise that woke me up, then get defensive because I was “too sensitive.” I lived in a state of hyper-alertness, and being disparaged for it, our entire marriage–35 years before I bailed.

    The worst, however, was that, encouraged by him, I drank. Not to drunkenness, not to blackout, not to interference withe work the next day, but to dullness, a lack of interest, creativity, and ambition. And my ex encouraged my drinking. If I said I didn’t want a glass of wine after dinner, he’d emerge from the kitchen after dinner with two glasses, one for him and one for me. After I left him, for a while my drinking amped up, but I hated the toll it was taking me, physically and psychologically, and I decided I had to stop. I cut back drastically; it took two years before not drinking became the norm. I like myself better that way, and my body likes itself better, too.

    • Mine sabotaged my attempt at “Dry January” (30 days without alcohol) by, among other things, waving his drink under my nose (yes!). He would open a very expensive bottle and tell me it would be a shame to “waste it.” If he drank it all, he implied it was my fault because I didn’t “help me drink it.”

      I didn’t cave, despite these attempts.

      Similarly, he tried to get his close friend, also married, to cheat on HIS wife.

      These types like to drag people down with them.

    • The ex is a functioning alcoholic. He made it his mission to get me to drink as much as him. He would plonk a glass of wine next to me when I said I didn’t want a drink. A G &T would be made ridiculously, unpleasantly strong. He also tried to sabotage dry January by mocking me including to waiting staff in restaurants who would often join in to get me to drink. And there came a point when he was so obnoxious when drunk that I drank more in an effort to reduce the amount available for him to drink. I was drinking the poison so that he couldn’t! When he was setting the scene for his departure from me, his controlling wife, he complained to friends that I was ‘restricting his drinking’. Most friends thought he was talking rubbish: they knew that no one could restrict his drinking. I recall returning home after being away to a friend’s 60th. The ex had seized the opportunity to raid the house, my home. He had taken the trouble to remove a bottle of average champagne from the garage where it had been sitting after not having been drunk at Christmas. I was 2 months out from being dumped and a couple of weeks out from discovering the affair with exgfOW. In the depths of my grief the sane part of my brain noticed that the fizz had gone and thought ‘how petty that anyone would go to the trouble to remove a single random bottle’. My health has improved in all respects since I stopped being force fed alcohol. That’s an aspect of the marriage that I’m very glad not to have to deal with any more. It was grim.

    • Wow. Same. Didn’t think to mention it as a health issue, per se, but klootzak pushes me to drink. He imbibes daily where I am naturally more a once a week have a glass of wine kind of person. He doesn’t lift a finger to help me with anything – cook a meal, clean up after cooking, etc. – but he quickly mixes me a G&T to drink while I’m cooking and will follow it with pushing drinks at me at dinner. I have taken to dumping things out when he leaves the room as much as possible. My son saw me dump a glass of wine into the hydrangea bush by the porch when klootzak went inside for something. Thankfully, he didn’t tell klootzak. I was worried I had been busted. I told him I don’t like to drink very much but klootzak keeps pushing it on me.

      I’m not sure if he is trying to damage my health or if he does it to try to justify his own drinking.

    • I used to be hyper-alert while sleeping. On the very rare occasions that I have an uninterrupted, dreamless sleep, it feels very unnatural.

      I was encouraged to smoke marijuana and eat junk food. Fairly sure the latter was to bring me down a few pegs because I liked how I looked.

      I never caved to the weed but he was controlling the money so it was cave to the junk food or starve.

      “I like myself better that way, and my body likes itself better, too.” A non-alcoholic toast to us!

  • Very early in my marriage I developed body dysmorphia. I’m certain it was precipitated by cheating bastard ex’s porn obsession. One cannot compete with an unrealistic image in the magazines or on the screen. Bring on the prostitutes, internet hookups, sexting, and massage parlor visits and I had myself convinced I was the ugliest and most disgusting woman on the face of the earth. It didn’t help that on the rare occasion he couldn’t get it elsewhere and sought me out, that he buried his head in a pillow so not to look at me.
    This leached it’s way onto other aspects of my daily life, but oddly enough not with my career or motherhood. I was kick ass at both! Thank god my divine brain developed a cognitive dissonance to excel in those areas. But the minute I was in his presence alone, I went back to thinking I was trash. Couldn’t even look in mirrors those last few years.
    Fast forward to now. Over a year post divorce with NC the whole time. I’ve lost 60 pounds. My blood work is perfect. My 62 year old skin glows with a youthful exuberance I didn’t have in my twenties. My bowels move when they should, the inside of my cheeks are pink and healthy after being chewed to the point of bloody for so many years, and I’ve discovered my 36 D’s are actually quite spectacular! I’m now rocking big, sexy hair that naturally has so little gray my friends are envious. Who knew all of this was in me all along?
    I do … now!

  • I had migraines. I didn’t have them before I met my now ex. They pretty much went away after I wasn’t sleeping with him anymore.

    I also lost a lot of hair. I’ve dealt with hair loss for the last 8 years or so. I’ve literally had so much hair in my shower drain that I worried I was going bald. That has ended since he died in March. My daughter is a cosmetologist and gave me a haircut in July. She commented on all the “baby hairs” I had dispersed throughout my scalp. My hair has grown back about 3 inches and I’m no longer finding it around the shower drain.

  • D-day marked the start of an inexplicable pain just below the right ribcage. Got better and then worse .. usually from interactions with FW, or stress of the divorce. Interestingly it went away once the papers were signed

  • Here’s my D-Day+ abandonment aftermath. Yes I was one of the lucky ones who found out the majority of the relationship I was cheated on and was also left over the course of 2 days (no time to even process that I’m reality for the last 7 years was a lie).

    I lost over 10lbs in 3 weeks ( visibly malnourished), cracked a tooth and had to get a crown due to the stress (no prior history of grinding), started bleeding out of the blue (my menstrual cycle is normally like clockwork), had a resting HR over 100 (usually my RHR is upper 60s) because of the anxiety, had insomnia for months (lucky to get even 4 hours of sleep), and developed thyroid issues. Oh and I also got BV.

    So yes as soon as you discover cheating, or a toxic nature, leave. Your health and finances are literally at risk.

    This wasn’t just “in my head.” I have all the doctor reports noting these issues.

  • During the marriage :
    Unexplained hair loss

    After D Day
    Rapid weight loss, nightmares or night terrors almost every night with flashbacks, flashbacks during the day, night sweats and waking up several times during the night reliving a painful moment, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, PTSD symptoms, and 1 non-convulsive seizure that happened two years after leaving him. Neurologist said seizure due to the betrayal trauma and not epilepsy, and a sign that my brain had reached its limit with stress. Said it happens to people who are under enormous amounts of stress and they don’t even realize what they are dealing with.

    The PTSD and related symptoms were the worst. And the seizure was hard, it is difficult to recover mentally after a seizure – cloudy thinking, poor balance and bad headaches.

    FWIW A friend I know got SHINGLES after she found out her husband was cheating on her. She was in her 30’s.

    Amazing what betrayal does to you physically, it does things you don’t think it will do.

    Two years post D Day: My hair is thicker again, Hashimoto’s in remission, but I still struggle with the occasional trigger.

    Today, people comment that I look much happier, even glowing. My divorce not even over, but I think I am happier as I am no longer under my cheater’s thumb and being abused.

    Life is so much better on the other side, but you walk through fire to get there.

    • Wow, I had shingles twice in the last year of my marriage… AFTER being vaccinated against them! Never made the connection until just now.

    • “Neurologist said seizure due to the betrayal trauma and not epilepsy, and a sign that my brain had reached its limit with stress.”

      I can relate. I had multiple seizures in the wake of Dday as well. During one of them I was repeatedly hitting my head on the wall as I convulsed. The cold-blooded FW just stood there staring at me and did nothing to help.

  • Oh Boy! this is one I can really speak to. (FWIW, I am a CN old timer–I started reading in ~2012, since that’s when my marriage cracked up.) I always had a wonky back, but post divorce? Woah. I just had surgery in January. I have lumbar stenosis, scoliosis that developed post-divorce, and all the associated chronic pain, limited mobility, and yuck. Also a Fresh Kills* worth of social and emotional trash baggage. I will say I am *really very much better* mentally, which is terrific. I thank several really good therapists, and EMDR, which has been a lifesaver for me. Of course there is a ton of detail, which I will saved. But simply to say–all the years of living with a withdrawn covert narc who truly enjoyed humiliating me in public and other fun really trashed both my physical and mental health. *(place where NYC dumps all its garbage.)

  • I dropped more than 60 pounds, leaving my face a mess of sagging skin; had to get two crowns due to tooth grinding in my sleep; went through five different doses of three different antidepressants; completely alienated most of my friends and family because of my rage at their collusion. And after I saw that first email to OW, I never had another orgasm with FW. Plenty on my own, but no response left for him at all.

  • D-day probably saved my life. I was consistently angry, confused, and sad. I blamed myself for the state of my marriage. I did too much and it was never enough. I compensated by eating. And I was way too fat. It was my sanity and my comfort. Food loved me. My FW, not so much.

    Driving to work was my sad crying time. One day lightning struck and I woke up. It was that sudden. It was him, not me. Years and decades wasted trying to fix me when he was the problem. My world changed that night. I became a force to be reckoned with and his life changed too. I lost the weight and years later I learned from one of his relatives that FW often said I went ‘crazy’ when I became a normal sized woman. I guess that was easier for him than to admit his cheating and porn addiction. And the fact that he was drop dead lazy.

    I lost 200lbs of dead weight the day I emerged from the fog of self doubt. More than a decade later, taking out the trash was the best decision I could have made!

  • Ready? I was in my car on the phone pleading with XW as she continued her affair in my face. I was so upset I got into a coughing fit and suddenly threw up blood.

    XW met me at the ER. After they put me under general anesthesia to conduct an upper endoscopy (nothing serious—burst capillary from violent coughing), XW left me to go to the AP.

    But not before she told the hospital that I was mentally unstable. I was not permitted to leave until the attending psychiatrist evaluated me.

    He did, and immediately of course approved my release.

    I arrived home to no kids (six and nine) and no XW. XW then called me in a fury, obviously enraged that she was not successful in having me committed (at least temporarily).

    I asked where our children were, and she said they were at our neighbor’s. I said I’m getting them and she said she was going to call the police because I was unstable. I told her she was insane and to go ahead. I could hear the AP coaching her in the background.

    Kids came home, she didn’t. So much for her being concerned that our children were under the care of a madman.

    I filed soon after. I saw real evil, and ten years later the memory still chills me.

      • My kids are good, thank you–albeit emotionally scarred from all they went through, for sure. (That was only one scene I and they endured.) I’ve thought of this episode some more, and remembered that she later told our kids’ psychiatrist that I’d been “hospitalized for depression.” Huh? Uh, no, unless they perform endoscopies for depression. Man, so awful. These people….

    • I think when you see that real evil, you just never forget it.

      I saw it in my fws eyes on New Years Eve. We had asked some friends over for that evening. In the mean time he had gotten increasingly nasty to me. I caught him talking to the whore on Christmas day at my sons house.

      We came back home and I said I was going to call friends and cancel NYE. He said no we are not going to ruin their NYE. I just went along. I was still in shock I think. I should have told him to go to hell, he could do whatever he wanted, but I would be gone NYE.

      Anyway, I slapped on a fake smile and did pretty well, and I did like these friends so I really didn’t want to ruin their evening. I remember we were playing a game and me and the other woman won the game. I smiled and looked at my fw and he had these cold dark grey slit eyes staring back at me. His eyes were normally large and very blue. Sent chills down my spine. Had nothing to do with the game, I believe in that moment he truly hated me, and of course he knew he was moving out the next day. But, he had given me the impression we were going to be ok.

  • The constant bladder infections and I couldn’t figure out why? Gone
    The 75 lbs I gained (isn’t it weird and wonderful that the body knows what we consciously do not)? 60 of it, Gone (the rest is going!)
    The teeth grinding, where I broke or cracked 3 teeth to the point where I need expensive implants? Gone
    Nightmares? Gone
    Peace and being told a lot that I look 10 years younger. GAINED! 🙂

  • I wouldn’t say Snakeface gaslighted me, but he seriously messed up my intuition, which I had valued and need to work on strengthening again. He lied to me so often, made me feel like a bad feminist for questioning that his friendship with Tuberculosis was honorable, and made me feel so guilty for what he saw as disrespecting his spiritual path that stopped trusting that I could make a just and accurate judgment about anything.

  • I’m a nurse, and I’ve worked every shift imaginable: days, nights, rotating, “PM” shift back in the day, weekends and holidays. Shift work has been blamed for everything from insomnia to hypertension, arrhythmias, diabetes, obesity and cancer. There is research blaming the stress involved with a long term career in nursing and working “off” shifts for these illnesses. But here’s the thing — the studies blame stress. Living in a toxic relationship is also stressful, and contributes to the same illnesses. And I wonder how many of those nurses studied were living in toxic relationships while working their night shifts. It’s been my personal observation that there are more relationship problems with night shifters. I imagine that some of those problems developed because of working opposite shifts, and I know that some of those nurses choose to work opposite shifts because of relationship problems.

    There was a time when I would laughingly blame nursing and night shift. “Yeah, I’ve worked night shift,” I’d say. “And I have the night shift trifecta: insomnia, obesity and breast cancer.” But add to that hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, diabetes and and an irritable bowel. That’s what twenty years in a toxic relationship with a fuckwit can get you.

    I have also had some illnesses more directly associated with a cheating spouse: chronic vaginal infections, pelvic inflammatory disease that brought an end to my fertility thanks to my first cheating husband. HPV and cervical cancer thanks to the second. And now, thanks to the third, cancer, diabetes, and cardiac arrhythmias. The lost fertility was permanent, and I will always care they cancer and diabetes diagnoses. Recurrence of cancer will always be a threat. My oncologist told me that the average person has a 1 in 8 chance of getting cancer. My risk is more like 1 in 4.

    Stay with in a toxic relationship long enough, and your problems become worse. Some of those problems aren’t fixable. For anyone teetering on the precipice of the very difficult decision to leave your relationship, think about the long term health issues. The longer you stay, the greater chance of developing them. Don’t stay — RUN!

  • I identify with the weight loss, hair loss, anxiety and insomnia mentioned here – which I had never had before DDays. Married for 30 years, DDay #1 in 2019 and DDay#2 in 2020. I contracted C Diff between DDays – had it for 3 months – and FW didn’t even notice. For half of the marriage, I had Hashimoto’s (thryroid autoimmune disease).

    Today, I am cancer-free and my autoimmune has healed (didn’t know Hashi’s could go away)! My hair grew back, insomnia slowly going away, anxiety gone, and my energy is returning. I am peaceful and happy, and don’t miss FW one bit.

  • I’m still clawing at my scalp when I sleep. I wake up with scratch marks all over my forehead. I’ve been trying to find a therapist for a while now.

    • When my son was a baby he used to scratch his face and I had to put little mitts on him. In the interim before you are able to connect with a therapist, have you tried wearing gloves (like our mothers and grandmothers used to wear) to bed? (Not trying to suggest you haven’t tried this…)

  • Well, I fully believe that my vagina is psychic. She battered down the hatches and closed tightly shut for business almost the moment the affair started, and, as I battled against it, painful sex. Then I was plagued with repeated bouts of cystitis and thrush throughout his affair, and they gave me the HPV Virus. Apparently thrush is common in pregnancy and AP had suffered from it, so I caught her pregnancy thrush.

  • I got a mysterious all over rash called granuloma annulare–no known cause. I used to have nightmares where a black devil was on me and I couldn’t scream. I got and still have sciatica from overwork. I have quit self care cuz I just don’t care anymore. I have not left yet but just wanted to add my experiences

      • Yes, I have chewed on the inside of my cheek, but thankfully I usually catch myself doing it and stop. I have also had anxious scalp scratching (nothing wrong with my scalp at all – again, a habit from anxiety). Awful habits borne of stress and nerves being shattered.

    • Please don’t quit self care. Apathy about your own health is dangerous.
      You haven’t said so, but because of the content of the reoccurring nightmare I suspect you are being abused. I hope you are getting your ducks in a row in order to get out.

      I have sciatica too. Ask your doctor about gabapentin for that. It’s the only painkiller I have found helpful and is also a good antidepressant in higher doses. You do sound depressed so that might do double duty for you. There are tons of physiotherapist videos about sciatica on YouTube, so you can get help at no cost. Please care about yourself and come here for encouragement and support.

      • I agree as well. Please don’t just give up on yourself. I understand and have my days like this too. But it just isn’t right to suffer for someone else’s actions on you.

    • For the sciatica there are some really easy chair exercises. I had some horrible sciatica on one side especially. I did these exercises twice a day, and I only did three or four stretches at each session. If you google chair sciatica exercises you can find a video.

      1 Start by sitting in a chair and cross your sore leg over the
      knee of your other leg.
      2 While keeping your spine straight, bend your chest
      forward. If you don’t feel pain, bend forward a little more.
      3 Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
      4 Repeat this stretch with your other leg.

      Keep that spine as straight as possible and go slowly. I did usually three on each side, even though I only had pain on one side.

      For me it was a miracle. I eventually started doing ballet stretches on each leg, using my kitchen cabinet as my bar. I have not had the pain since then. Now I only do the stretches a couple times a week.

      The main thing is to feel that stretch in that particular muscle area.

  • At the time when he was already preparing to leave our life together and left the shared apartment to “find himself”, while in reality he secretly took his own apartment and enjoyed the relationship with his lover and told me , he had stayed in a hotel, I developed severe visual disturbances, which were due to an inflammation of the lacrimal glands.
    I now think that the illness was my body’s expression of a literal refusal to see the truth. Even though it’s been 4 years since then, I’m not feeling any better. I miss my husband every day and I mourn the loss of my family and suffer the damage that the breakup of our family has done and continues to do to my children.
    I feeling no joy and I still cry a lot. The wonderful confidence that comes from loving and being loved is gone. There is nothing that will ease this pain. I’m broken and sad.

    • Güstrow, I usually hesitate to suggest therapy (because a bad therapist can make things worse and there are a lot of them), but in your case, if you are still feeling this way after 4 years, you probably need it. It sounds like you haven’t fully processed what was done to you and are not fully accepting that he sucks. You continue to miss what you thought he was, but clearly, he is not that person.
      The idea that relationships are what give us confidence is a cognitive distortion. So is the idea that there us nothing which can ease the pain. That sort of belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think you could benefit from CBT to identify these distortions that are keeping you stuck. There will always be some residual sadness, but not at that level.

    • I’m sorry to read this. Healing from being cold cocked takes a long time. Be kind to yourself. Do nice things for yourself. I went to a divorce care group at a nearby church which helped. If you can afford it do find a therapist who believes cheating is abuse. And just keep crying until you cycle out of it. Grief is your friend..it is how we heal. Come here and share all you want. We will listen. Big huge hugs!

  • After avoiding it for over two years, I recently caught Covid not once but twice, in the months following D-Day, despite being fully vaccinated and boosted. I’m in my 30’s, teach fitness classes, and am otherwise generally healthy. Both times were after a brief vacation so my guard was admittedly a bit lower than usual. The interesting thing is that both times, I shared a hotel room, car rides, entire itineraries with two separate groups of friends – none of whom got sick! I’ve wondered if the stress and shock affected my immune system as much as they affected my weight, sleep, and mental health.

  • Not sleeping. First because he was an asshole who would take over the whole bed, the pillows and basically force me to sleep on the edge of the bed. I have a chronic neck injury and sleep with a special pillow that holds my neck in a certain position. XAss would push his arm under the pillow knowing that it would change my neck position and cause me pain. He didn’t care, he’d get mad that “I didn’t want to be close to him”. Of course that was when he wasn’t sleeping on his back in the middle of the bed his arms under his head so his elbow would pop me in the head, and his legs spread wide….. and then the snoring….So I took to leaving the bed when he came into it several hours after I went to sleep, and spend the rest of the night in the spare room with a creaky, knobby bed. There was no way that XAss would have slept anywhere but in ‘his’ bed.

    So I had chronic neck pain, which made me depressed, as did my non-relationship with my supposed husband. It was a horrible negative feed-back loop. The last 6 months had me sleep deprived, severely underweight, heart palpitations and panic attacks.

    Now I my high blood pressure is under control, as well as my neck injury. No more panic attacks. I love my comfortable bed with all the pillows. I am sleeping and eating well, to where I for the first time in my life now have to watch what I’m eating!

  • I think it was when MacKenzie Scott was being discussed here, I remember reading some glib comment from a reporter commending Scott on not becoming “suspiciously thin” from “revenge weight loss” after being cheated on. I thought the comment was wagging-the-dog by framing chump weight loss as a “thing” that anyone who’s anyone knows about which of course would incite readers to repeat remarks like this to appear au courant. I thought this was akin to deputizing the public to snort at chemo patients for losing weight out of vanity.

    I suppose the reverse assumption would be that when a chump gains weight following betrayal it’s because they’re wallowing in silly self pity and pigging out. Either way, cracks like this seem to assume something weak or contemptible in the characters of chumps that must have preexisted being chumped. It takes the side of the abuser a bit, the same way battered women are pathologized by reversing contingency: it couldn’t be that the abuse was so bad that it produced certain behaviors and symptoms in a formerly normal, healthy person because normal, healthy people don’t put themselves into positions like this and don’t stay in situations like this. So the effects of abuse are doubled back as reasons victims had it coming or brought it on themselves. With bystanders like this, who needs abusers, right?

    Anyway, ugh. The metabolism does weird things under extreme stress. I’ve recited my pre-D-day health drama before but I’ll rattle it off again as a reminder to myself and in case it solves a few medical mysteries for newcomers. I went from an ideal healthy weight to emaciated before D-Day.

    I remember the exact moment this started a few months into FW’s workplace affair with the office bicycle. I had been homeschooling all three kids during that period in response to a big scandal in the local school district when an alleged child molester was outed on staff by a series of former students and the school retaliated in bizarre ways against parents who expressed concern about security. I chalked up the sudden anxiety to a kind of second wave reaction to the school drama and feared “infecting” the kids or dropping the ball in supplementing their education. I didn’t dare complain about any of it to FW because he was constantly rhapsodizing and catastrophizing about his own stress from the “burden of supporting a family.” Apparently he was inches from having a stroke and “no one cared.” So I fought my own fatigue and doubled down to keep the kids busy and happy and progressing and tried to “fake it till I made it.” At one point I saw two exceptionally talented string players from the university busking outside a kids’ cultural center. I have a radar for good teachers so I cheerfully suggested to FW that we ask them if they tutored children. FW reared on me in front of our kids and a huge crowd of families at the cultural center and began yelling that we didn’t even have the money for private school and the kids didn’t need to add another instrument to their repertoire and I was being an abusive “tiger mom” and he didn’t want rando men coming into our house.

    It’s hard to explain exactly why this verbal attack sent me into a state of paralysis and terror. I’d never seen FW like this, so filled with rage and contempt that I might have sensed on some lizard-brain level that he was capable of killing me. That alone might have triggered fight or flight. But the suggestion that I was an unfit parents sent another signal that he might be capable of taking my children away from me. So the fight or flight reaction was replaced by total paralysis. I went possum.

    Loss of child custody was an easy terror-switch to flip since that fear had already been triggered by the conflict with the school when staff started making up wild accusations against the parenting of several parents who organized to call for an investigation of the school’s vetting and hiring practices. A legal organization that watchdogs school practices reported that mere accusations by schools against parents, no matter how unfounded, can remain part of the permanent record and can be easily reinvoked to put parents under investigation by child services on any grounds thereafter. I won’t go into the full saga but it was like something out of Stephen King and four families either pulled their kids from school or put their houses on the market and moved. One of the original organizers died last year from early-onset heart failure. Those of use who’d been involved in organizing met up again at the memorial service. We all remarked that the school’s terror campaign couldn’t have helped. Some of our kids weren’t yet 18 so we talked in whispers.

    Anyway, even though FW apologized half-heartedly for “losing his temper” at the cultural center, I felt like a teetering Jenga stack and as if FW had pulled out the last stabilizing block. I’d never thought him capable of jujituing the battle with the school into a threat against custody of my children. It didn’t compute. I stopped sleeping and started rapidly losing weight. Our family doctor believed me when I said I wasn’t dieting and subjected me to a battery of tests, including for cancer markers which made my anxiety skyrocket, partly because I was so low I realized that I was almost ambivalent about dying. I’d never felt so resigned and hopeless. I didn’t even seek the help of a therapist for fear this could be used as added proof that I was somehow crazy and “unfit.”

    The doctor measured my cortisol which was through the roof, then it suddenly dropped to almost nothing signaling that I was on the brink of potentially lethal adrenal crisis. I started fainting at random times. Apparently severe adrenal insufficiency causes the body to requisition progesterone as emergency alternative building blocks for cortisol so I started getting symptoms of hormone imbalance. My periods became agony and, because progesterone has something to do with joint stability, every childhood sports injury flared and at one point I could barely walk. Hair was coming out of my head in handfuls in the shower. I was a limping insomniac piece of chalk with Keith Richards’ arms.

    I sense there are a lot of reasons FW harassed me about weight at this time. Maybe it was partly because he and the AP were bloating up from all the booze and bistro grub paid for by marital assets. Maybe it was because my looking fragile and pathetic didn’t fit the “formidable ogre” effigy FW had built of me. Ironically the formidable ogre effigy was obviously based on my legal battle with the school. I’d proven myself capable of utilizing legal ammo and it probably scared the bejesus out of FW. And FW used the effigy to depict himself as a hostage and victim to justify the affair and also to scare the AP out of lobbying and punishing FW into dumping his family on the threat that I’d grind their bones to make my bread in divorce and destroy both their lives. But the ogre effigy wasn’t holding up very well in the face of my failing health so FW adjusted his DARVO attacks to framing me as eating disordered, therefore crazy, unstable and– voila– an unfit parent.

    And that sums up so-called “revenge weight loss.” I had a BMI less than 16 and developed a heart murmur at the worst point. The anonymous whistleblower at FW’s firm probably saved my life by deciding to contact me and spill the beans. I was so relieved to be handed a shield against FW that could prevent him from taking my children (if he were so prone) that it didn’t occur to me to be heartbroken for about a week. The family doctor was so pissed when I explained my reasons for getting full STI panels that she canceled FW’s Viagra prescription without explanation.

    I think from the moment I knew the truth my health started to return. I smoked a bit of hopium during the RIC fiasco but continued to secretly get ducks in a row so I wasn’t inhaling that deeply and eventually did a 180 and threw FW out. No more heart murmur though I remain hyper-sensitive to caffeine which is tragic since I’m a coffee fanatic. My cortisol remains elevated but at least it’s not bottoming out. Sleep is a bit fragile but I have a routine. My cycle normalized and I haven’t fainted even once since the moment I retained a lawyer. By the time I got COVID I was strong enough that it didn’t kill me. I remain on a low carb diet to offset the risk of stress-induced cancer which my studious doctor warned me about. I take natural supplements, eat a ton of avocados and my blood pressure is ideal. I never gained all the weight back but at least I no longer look like death chewing on a cracker. My joint mobility is even better than it was before the whole disaster started.

    If you’ve ever come to the brink of losing health it might be possible– if you’re extremely lucky– to end up ahead of the game by being very careful with it. But it’s all such a close call. I’ll have to get twice-yearly HPV screens for the foreseeable future. And I’m sick of decaf.

    • “The anonymous whistleblower at FW’s firm probably saved my life by deciding to contact me and spill the beans. ”

      I think I was saved by a whistleblower too. Only in their case they lodged an ethics complaint against fw. I think in hindsight that the plan was for him to continue treating me worse and worse until I caved and kicked him out. Then after we D’d or even just legally separated he would drag the whore out of the alley and say, hey we are going to date so we will have to transfer whore to another office/job. But to his dismay he was outed in full. I never knew who the WB was, but I am so grateful they did what they did.

      Whore was no innocent victim, she willingly went along with this shit for several years, in fact she wasn’t even an employee when their fuck fest began. He used his influence to get her hired and neither of them disclosed their relationship.

      He got busted in rank, she was kindly (to keep a lid on that lawsuit powder keg) moved to another job. A job she fucked up royally about six months later and then they fired her.

  • When I was with Cheater, I had symptoms of my serious autoimmune disease flare, ground my teeth, had severe anxiety and depression, and unable to sleep, in part because cheater intentionally kept me up. I left cheater, got a life, and all of that started to improve dramatically. Then the pandemic happened and I’m immunocompromised and fighting my work’s HR for accommodations to telecommute and all of the symptoms are back and then some. Turns out I react terribly when others are actually trying to kill me in one way or another…

  • Anxiety, depression, brain fog, insomnia, PTSD (diagnosed and treated years later), vaginismus, hair fell out… you name it, I had it. My mental and physical health was a train wreck for years.

    I also carried an extra 25 pounds I couldn’t shake no matter what I did, and was diagnosed in my 20s with PCOS.

    As soon as I cut off ex and all the other abusers in my life (abusive family, shitty enabling friends, the cult), my health turned around. I dropped the extra 25 pounds effortlessly.

    Most incredibly, the PCOS vanished – which isn’t supposed to happen, it’s considered incurable. But my blood work and other tests don’t lie; I didn’t have any more signs of PCOS and haven’t now in years. My doctor was baffled and said she had no explanation for it.

    • Oh, I forgot! Also suffered from mysterious skin rashes, anemia and vitamin D deficiency (both so bad I was nearly hospitalized), night terrors (the PTSD), constipation, fatigue … it’s been years so I’m probably forgetting some, but seriously, I can’t express how bad my health was. I turn 40 next year and look so much younger than I do in photos at age 25. It’s crazy. Abusers really are parasites!

  • This is how the whole shit show started for me…I had a rash, went to the doctor and at first instance they thought I had a STI…wtf, I am married was my reaction with a blank stare from my doctor. On the ride home with my ex-husband I told him and he did not say a thing…completely quiet! From that moment on, my life went downhill very fast. Tests confirmed it was shingles and I ended up getting it 2 more times which the doctor said was quite rare for my age (at the time I was under 40). It was like my body was telling me to wake the fuck up and get the fuck out now! Of course, I was in denial, but I had my suspicions. I had loads of other minor health concerns due to anxiety and stress and now absolutely nothing! Soon after the 1st diagnosis of shingles I found out that my only son was dealing with suicidal ideation. That was my wake up call and I filed for divorce and protected my son and I. Ex-husband was slowly killing us both like a vine on a tree. Our bodies and minds couldn’t take it anymore after 16 years. Completely grateful for this experience because we got out and I have never been more happy and healthy in my whole life! And, my son is thriving too!

  • Pre dday gained 30 lbs in 2 yrs., was bitchy, unhappy, post DDay +2yr lost 30 lbs, calmer, more in touch with my inner joy.

    • Thrive, I was beginning to wonder if I was the only chump who gained weight rather than lost it during the discard. And couldn’t control my drinking — waking up in despair and shame, wondering what I had done or said in the blackout hours.

      And now? “lost 30 lbs, calmer, more in touch with my inner joy.” And turns out I’m not even an alcoholic, though I behaved like one for a couple of years–now drink is something I can take or leave, and I don’t ever get hammered anymore.

  • I lost 25 lbs from not eating and had chunks of my hair falling out for months after I separated from FW. I also have more grey hair than I did before everything.

  • Yes, I had all the usual symptoms during the marriage and after especially after Dday…huge weight loss, couldn’t sleep, blood pressure through the roof (landed in the hospital for that one), searing mental/emotional pain (needed drugs). I’m almost 6 years from Dday, and over 3 years divorced (24-year marriage), and I’m much better, but I’m sure my body is still affected by what he did. The damage is done by these FWs, and even if you feel better now, I believe the long-term consequences of the trauma will show up in your health sooner or later, even if you’re divorced and NC like I am. I suppose I’ll never know for sure if I die earlier than I otherwise would have because of the stress to my body and mind,, but there’s no way that sort of trauma hasn’t affected my long-term health in some way.

    • CBN- I think our health and life spans would def remained compromised and shortened the longer we stayed in the abuse game.
      But we are free or in the process of getting free, and so will be our minds, bodies and our spirits.
      I think we stand an excellent chance of living longer and healthier lives now with solid quality and peace vs continually trying to stay out of the path of a runaway train trying to wipe us out. You can see the proof of that in many of the posts today.
      I have a quote on my apartment wall ( have a bunch, lol, and even on my bathroom mirror, they fortify me) that comes to mind from the legendary college football coach, Vince Lombardi:

      “The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince.”

      Your mind is free to heal you now and it was made for this kind of stuff, the human spirit is so incredibly resilient. It just needs the chance. We got this!👍😊
      Good Labor Day w/e to all my fellow chumps out there, the very strongest ppl I know!

      • Yes, Chumpasaurus, I agree our long-term health may be better than had we stayed. But it’s worse than if the FW had not happened at all. I do not believe that once you’re out you can ever fully recover from the damage done. To say that all will be well (no pun intended) with no long-term damage after you leave is not true for many chumps, IMO. We may not realize our health has been compromised long-term, and we will never know for sure (e.g., if I have a stroke in a few years, who’s to say my time with FW didn’t contribute to it?), but I personally don’t see how living through these nightmares with the attendant stress and health issues cannot cause long-term damage in some way. For example, I guarantee there was a big dip in my immune system for a couple of years due to stress. Many diseases that may not show up for years could get their foothold during this time of lowered immunity. Blood pressure issues can cause long-term heart damage. High cortisol for years? Who knows? I’m not a doctor, but common sense tells me I’ve likely been harmed long-term. I do think a lot depends on your age at Dday and the length of your relationship. I am older and was with FW for 30 years, and I fully believe my long-term health has been compromised even though I’m divorced and NC now. Just my two cents.

        Hugs to all chumps.

        • So what is wrong with my brain(or anyone else who doesn’t leave right away) that I can read yours and other’s testimonies, KNOW that I’ve suffered great stress symptoms pain and ailments yet still stand here wondering if I leave will it be a mistake. Everyone seems fine RXCEPT for me.
          I read “impending doom” and I do feel this sensation often.
          I have been on BP med for a few months now. I always hurt my neck, back hips and feet. Brain fog, headaches, insomnia
          I blamed some of this on having Covid twice. Starting to wonder. My husband doesn’t cheat now but does that really matter? He didn’t follow through with the courts as promised to situate his visitation and child support (I just wanted him to make everything legal and get it revised) I didn’t think it was too much. We’ve had some therapy but some bad sessions AND not so great therapists.
          I’m just so tired. I can tell he just wants to act normal and for things to go away. I don’t know what I’m doing some days and others, I know exactly what to do

  • Absolutely the stress, unhappiness and uncertainty have negatively affected me – it contributed to teeth grinding and I put on weight. I think that if I kept going it would have helped me to an earlier grave. I did not seem to have the mental space to give to myself, to take care of myself the best I could, I worried a lot about who they might be sleeping with that I didn’t know about, that they did not love me. I was very hurt and very attached. I don’t know if they are capable of being attached except if the other person has a lot of money, and I feel like a fool. My self esteem tanked. It was literally killing me.

  • In 7 months of wreckonciliation, I lost a quarter of my body weight.
    Also, I had extreme and vivid nightmares nearly every night and which never repeated once, while the FW slept like a baby.

    • PS
      Everything is numb. I can’t feel pleasure in anything or pain either. Can only now taste food again. Zero sexual desire. Don’t find anything funny (except the kids). Don’t enjoy music. Can’t even cry most of the time.
      Also, grey hairs.

  • I have IBS and it was terrible while I was with my ex. My stomach hurt all the time and I had to see a specialist.

    Once I left him it settled right down. It still bothers me on occasion if something I eat doesn’t sit well with me but for the most part it’s greatly improved.

    My lovely bf doesn’t flare it up so I know he’s ok. Also my cats and bird like him so there’s that.

  • A year before I left my toxic, cheating ex-wife I was diagnosed with Stage 3 hypertension and a heart condition. I was also suffering from hypothyroidism and told I was 42lbs overweight.

    Three months after leaving her I swapped doctors and was given a medical. The hypertension was gone, as was the heart condition and I needed to decrease my thyroid medication. I was also told I was the perfect weight for my height (the Break-Up Diet).

    Interestingly, I was told that my replacement, who is 25 years younger than me, has recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Clearly, my ex-wife should have a health warning printed on her forehead.

  • For me it has always been sleep. It is ironic because I am a respiratory physician with an interest in sleep disordered breathing. Here I was, trying to tell people how to improve their health, whilst having only had 1 hour of sleep for myself. And just the lack of sleep accounts for all kind of mix ups in the body ( cortisol up when it should be down, local immunity impaired, it’s a very long list …)

    -The cheater always slept well. Tells you something.

    After she moved out, I was able to take care of myself. Nutrition, exercise, yoga, meditation. Melatonin for a short while , but that wasn’t even needed for long. The poison needs to be removed from the body and then you can heal.

    • This is such an important topic being discussed today! Perhaps right on par with discovery and getting out. Why? Because sustained and/or elevated toxic stress can and does cause massive damage to the Chump.

      Something I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that once you’re out and away from the toxicity, there remains still much work to do. Holding onto to anger, jealousy, bitterness, injustice, hate, malice and hard negative emotions is just as toxic, though self-inflicted now, as the abuse that was inflicted by the Cheater. These residual hard negative emotions stress the mind and body the same way the original original stressors do. Work hard to release, reframe, and reject holding stressful emotions before they damage the body and mind. Some find help with traditional therapy and modalities, others with natural remedies and practices; still others break through with spiritual enlightenment. Many find help with some combination therof.

      It’s no instant fix and can can take time…lots of time. Do it for you! You’re worthy, deserving, a quality person and so much more! Don’t allow an abuser to dictate the future of your prosperity.

  • Weight gain. Suicidal ideation, confusion, constant sense of impending doom, constant sense that I was not safe, depressed, uti’s, mental fog, high blood pressure, premature grey hair, migraines, mini strokes, nightmares, sleep deprivation, hair loss, hypochondria.

    After I left all of that lifted, the only thing hanging on is the weight gain, and my hair is still white.

  • I was gaining weight steadily and even developed a bald spot the last two years of the marriage. I have since lost 50 pounds after leaving my FW and now post divorce from a 22 year marriage and 2 years out from BD I have thick healthy hair and I am competing in running races and training for a triathlon at 48. Life is good without the toxicity of living with a cheater leading a double life!

  • Before I knew my ex was cheating I was waking up in the middle of the night with chest pains. I had an ECG done and a 3D mammogram but everything seemed fine. I even had a dream where my deceased father told me it was time to go and I woke up thinking I was about to die. As soon as I found out the truth and kicked my ex out of the house all my symptoms vanished. I guess my subconscious knew something was very wrong but I was so used to my exes dysfunction that my conscious mind didn’t see it.

  • I would feel like I was getting the flu several times a week. Only in the evening when he was home. It all went away once he moved out, I only have this happen occasionally now when I’m really stressed.

  • C-PTSD, heart issues( ER visit, heart seems ok, while having persistent issues)
    digestive issues( gaining lots of weight while not eating much)
    Sleep issues, anxiety, depression, panic attacks (2xhospitalized)

  • I had a hormonal imbalance that the doctors could not figure out the cause to for the last 10 years. Plus, suddenly had hypothyroidism. I was super physically active and could not stop putting on weight at the time.

    I say so long FW. My hormones and thyroid haven’t been this good in 10 years! I have energy! Weight is coming off too!

    Funny how my problems correlate with the timeline FW told me about, on DDay, when he started a secret decade long drug addiction. Denied cheating at this time too but I don’t believe it looking back.

  • Oh my. So first, my body seemed to know something was wrong before my mind did. For months, I was constantly getting an upset stomach – finally went to my Dr when I couldn’t even consume water and she diagnosed me with IBS – gluten and lactose intolerance. A couple weeks later, FW announced he wanted a divorce. I was in shock – couldn’t sleep, stopped eating without even realizing it. A coworker confronted me crying – asking if I was hiding a cancer diagnosis because everyone was talking about all the weight I’d lost and what a zombie I’d become – nothing like the usual carefree, talkative, laughing person I usually was. I broke down and told her – I think my marriage is over. Everyone consoled me – every marriage has rough patches, you’ll be ok. When I found out about the real reason for FWs sudden 180 on me – he’d been making sex tapes with a howorker and it was twu wuv – my church, friends, family, coworkers, all joined forces from “let’s save this family” to “bye, bye you complete sack of %$#@”. I got a lawyer, moved myself and my girls into a new place and suddenly the IBS disappeared. I was able to sleep again. Anxiety gone. My friends and I now joke I actually had a FW intolerance and eat all the gluten I want.

  • I have ADHD. Now that we are separating/divorcing and his sh*T is taking up less of my brainspace, my executive functioning is SO MUCH BETTER. Much easier to remember things, put stuff away, throw out/delete things I’ve been hanging onto out of FOMO, start tasks I don’t want to do… the list goes on. I’ll always need medication, which I’m fine with, but I am very excited to have more of my brain working for ME. It’s such an obvious difference that I’m a little vexed that I didn’t tell him to shove off earlier. But that’s okay, it’s done and that’s what matters.

    I’m also finding it SO MUCH EASIER to avoid emotional eating.

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