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What Did You Reclaim? How Did You Reclaim It?

Dear Chump Lady,

I have a topic for a Friday challenge:

I finally feel that Tuesday has come after three horrible years. But I still struggle with living in the same place. I know that my ex-husband brought his co-conspirator to our apartment while I was on a business trip back then. He was proud of himself for keeping the place tidy. He also said, “I even washed the bedsheets.” He had never done this, not even once, during our 14 years of marriage. Also, I had cleaned everything before I left, so it was an odd thing to hear from him.

After the discovery, he swore that no one was in our place. But now, I knew how well he lied. I sold the bed right away. I was pick me dancing like crazy. He was getting high with joy. Horrible days. These were all before I found Chump Nation. I cannot thank Chump Lady and you enough.

I am looking for advice from you all as many of you might have experienced this. I like where I live, and it is not always so easy to move out. I cannot let these no-integrity characters make me uncomfortable, but I sometimes get uncomfortable in my own place. I feel like they tainted it.

How did you deal with this feeling?

P.S. I am almost certain that he still gets high for keeping me in the dark about who was in our apartment back then.



Dear NotFromVenus,

Personally, I’m a scorched earth sort of chump. I abandoned the field. Left in stealth, turned off the utilities, and got movers to evacuate a 3,000-square foot house in under 3 hours. For months leading up to it, I had Excel spreadsheets and photo documentation of every room in the house and the contents of each closet, so he couldn’t accuse me of taking anything that was “his” that didn’t exist. (Didn’t stop him from trying, however.) Anything that was “ours” — or crap he gave me — I left.

Enjoy the dust bunnies, Freak.

That said, I realize not everyone can move out or wants to. It’s your home. Perhaps your kids go to school nearby. You like your neighbors. It’s unaffordable to move now. Whatever your reason, you can’t let the terrorists win. So, for those of you who remained — how did you take your space back?

And for those of you who abandoned ship — what other thing did you reclaim? A favorite place? Restaurant? Work of art?

How much burning sage did it require?

TGIF and happy new beginnings everyone!


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  • I reclaimed all of our friends and family members. I even went on an epic vacation with his only aunt. He now is all alone with Schmoopie.

    • Damn. I bow to you!
      I’m on his terms with the family members and friends I’ve communicated with, but never assumed they’d break contact with him. It’s worked out fine so far.

  • I have had to stay in the home for financial reasons and because it is my kids’ home. My ex brought women here and slept with them, and I have no idea how many.
    Reclaiming it is hard. Some of it is happening naturally because it was in fixer-upper state at the end of the marriage, so I have had to replace and repair things. Sadly, the very costly new HVAC system isn’t highly visible. Other things are, though – you can put up new pictures, get a new wall clock, clean. Decorate differently, get things repaired that your spouse never bothered fixing. Replace the bed, throw away the sex toy collection he wanted you to use and was using with all his “visitors”. I had the added problem that he still comes to drop off or pick up kids, and I think if I hadn’t changed the door locks and put up cameras he would have waltzed right into the house. So up your security game and make sure they know they’re being recorded if they come around. You might pick up some enjoyable wildlife videos along the way.
    At the end of the day it’s mine. He can’t have it.

    • Even something as basic as painting the walls. Sometimes even just a different shade of white can change the entire room feel. New curtains, get different colored covers for the furniture. I stayed in the duplex we were in for many years and it took a bit, but it became mine alone. Because I stayed there I was finally able to save up and buy a house! He did not get to take my home, too.

    • I did this. Repainted the bedroom and bathroom, got all new bedding, pictures, fixtures. It turned out really well and felt more like “mine.” That being said, I did sell it the next year, but only because I had my aging parents move in with me. I second the security though. For years afterward (I’m 8 years out), he felt he could still walk right in during pick up and drop offs of my son. He’s out of breath at the top of the staircase though, so he hasn’t tried with my forever home!

  • The burning sage hit home! Lol. My son keeps trying to purge FW negativity with incense.
    I’m in the process of reclaiming my mojo. I play loud music, dance, burn candles, snap back if FW says something stupid or just fuckwitty, and just do things that he had a problem with. F-him! Put belly button ring back in. I’m taking my body back-reclaiming it!
    Happy “Reclaim it Friday!” Everyone!!!!

    • This. I finally cut my hair the way I WANTED to. I’m debating the tattoo still. I want to do it more out of spite then because I want a tatoo!! LOL. I suppose there are more drunken reasons to get tatted…

  • I kept the house so the kids could have a place they knew and still live in it. Lived in it longer without my ex than with. Been almost 4 years since she (finally) moved out and there are no lingering memories. All cleaned up.
    But I can imagine that’s harder if you have lived many years somewhere together.

    • I kept my house too. He left. Several times. I fought for this house and won – he tried to take everything in the divorce and starve me and the kids out. I had chosen this house over others when we moved here many years ago. I have good neighbors, who helped us stay safe when crazy ex would suddenly show up and threaten us.
      My kids grew up here and it was their home – keeping this house was an important stabilizing constant for them. We made new traditions. We were thankful the abusive jerk was gone. No contact.
      First I got all his crap out of my house, either by dumping it in his and skankenstein’s driveway at discreet times, or taking it to Goodwill and the dump – it was very freeing to totally get rid of it all. Most of the furniture was from my family, so that stayed. I repainted all the rooms, rearranged the furniture, changed the curtains and linens, and over time made other changes. I’ve lived here 32 years, and ex was here 14.
      My kids are grown and now bring their spouses and their adorable little ones here, and reminisce about good times. It’s 100% my house and it’s peaceful.

      • Love this!
        The first thing I did was to push our bed against the wall in a corner so his side no longer existed. (Before, we had walking space on either side). This simple step created a spacious opening and eliminated him from that room. Next I relished rearranging everything in our bathroom so it was all mine. Then took over his closet and painted an accent wall in the living room. Little things like this helped me feel renewed and in control and I loved the stability staying in the house provided for my son.
        X has moved 5 times since I kicked him out and complained that my house was a bargain. He’s a chaos creator.

  • I had a new rental lined up before I dumped the Lying Cheating Loser. He only realized I was serious (I had tried to break up with him many times before and failed to hold my ground) when the landlord came by and placed the For Lease sign in our yard.
    The LCL left town and moved five hours away.
    But every time I would drive through “our” old neighborhood, I’d feel retraumatized. It felt like I was in a Harry Potter movie and dementors were about to descend upon me. Memories would resurface of all the late night walks I would take after our fights. My favored parking lot where I’d spend nights sleeping in my truck after particularly bad knock-down-drag-outs.
    So much bad. The whole town felt full of emotional triggers.
    Less than a year later, I bought an old house at auction and moved 100 miles away. That was the beginning of my healing.
    But in a strange twist of fate, my daughter now lives in the same rental I moved to post-split. Which means I spend a lot of time in the town that held so many bad LCL memories.
    I don’t know why it’s different now. But if I did know, I would say it’s true that time heals all wounds. And that maybe I’ve purposely desensitized myself. And that my badass new life leaves very little room for ruminating about the past.
    There is no doubt that moving away helped me heal. But even if I hadn’t, I would have healed eventually. Meh is real. And Tuesday is my favorite day.

    • “But every time I would drive through “our” old neighborhood, I’d feel retraumatized”, I feel this way too. I have many good friends in the old neighborhood – I lived there for > 24 years! When I drive there I still feel retraumatized…. but I keep going because my friends are worth it, and eventually the trauma will lessen and fade (I believe!)

      On the good side, I bought a different house in a neighboring city so I feel like I have a new life — I am making a new awesome life there!

  • “P.S. I am almost certain that he still gets high for keeping me in the dark about who was in our apartment back then.”

    It’s hard to move on if you’re still in contact with FW or if his previous gaslighting still impacts you. Those are issues which require establishing healthy boundaries. If memories stand in the way of your comfort, consider therapy. It also takes replacing routines/traditions with your own unique experiences many times.

    If the triggers are physical or visual, locate and display mementos which pre-date FW. Go back to interests and accomplishments from a younger you or a previous generation. And, of course, it’s always fun to add colors, flavors, sounds and scents which the FW forbade.

  • I changed everything. Sold our family/dream home and just closed on our new house 3 weeks ago and bought all new furniture. I went back to work after being a SAHM for many years. I even bought a different car. It’s not even about him or his twat waffles anymore…it just feels amazing to have everything that is just mine and it puts it all farther behind me somehow.

  • For me, reclaiming took time. But some early cheap winz were: 1. Sleeping on the other side of the bed. 2. All new IKEA bedding and curtains and towels in the bedroom. 3. Move the TV. Cleaning out the garage (of his crap) and parking in it. 4) Rearranging furniture everywhere possible. Even a few inches or some jaunty angles are enough to change your mental relationship to a space.

    • I agree there are definitely low cost changes one can make that makes a home look completely different and give it a whole different feel. I have been building an entire registry of things that will help me make my space truly my own. It’s mostly things he didn’t like. I won’t be able to afford it all at once but but by bit I will add things that bring me joy. A bath rug in a color that pops. A cozy faux fur throw for the couch. Flatware in a more feminine design.

      He will take the TV, couch, living room tables and maybe even the dining room table. He is welcome to the entire bedroom set. All are designs he insisted on that have never suited me at all. I can turn the guest bedroom furniture into mine and build from there.

      I can’t help feeling that he just has his ugly stuff in my house.

      • THIS ^^^^^^^^ !!! I had to take it one-step-at-a-time as well. (ARRGH!) But in the end, the slow changes turned out to be worth it. Because once I made a small (inexpensive) change, that change would put me into a different frame of mind. Which meant I was then reasoning from a different perspective. And then, I would find my mind traveling down avenues of thought that I had never even realized were out to travel on. It does take a while. But it is SO worth it. Keep on breathing, slowly and deeply (right down into your gut), and allow these small incremental changes to work through your entire being. And remember this too: that all of us in Chump Nation have your best interests at heart.

  • Like CL, I went scorched earth. I sold anything fucktard gave me that was worth anything, (not much🤣) and put it in my divorce fund.

    I also moved to a new county miles away, and a dear little house. I’ve systematically and gradually purged (as I could afford it) anything that had the remotest connection to fuckwit and my life with him.

    That said, I fully appreciate what I did might not be easy or possible for others – for one thing, we had no children, thank God, and Chumps with children have it a hell of a lot harder than those without.

    All I can suggest is what others have said, and what you’ve already started to do – redecorate as you can afford it, get rid of anything you shared, again, as you can afford it. Gradually your home will reflect your taste and your children’s, not fucktard’s. And concentrate on making lovely memories with *you and your children* which will gradually oust that pig from your lives. Hugs and good thoughts.💖💝 xx

    • Same! Your story could have been mine. I sold or donated everything he gave me, left all “our” things, and moved. Good riddance. So much better without that man….and we didn’t have kids, which I think dramatically changes the details.

  • Sage. I bought some wonderful white sage, gave the house a thorough cleaning, then opened windows and doors (for the negative things to leave by) and fanned sage smoke into every square Inch of the house while speaking aloud my command for all negative energy to go and all things positive to stay and fill the space. Don’t forget the closets and cupboards! The neighbors must have thought I was having quite a party when the smoke wafted over to them! But when I finally closed everything up again it really, really felt new and clean! All in my head? Possibly, but that’s where all of the awful stuff was residing too.

  • I reclaimed control of my life and enabled our children to gain control of their lives by separating our finances – she had been draining our joint finances at an epic rate – and then divorcing her.

    Indirectly, this also enabled our children and I to reclaim something that we had not felt for literally years ….. serenity. Her AP – who she now lives with – is welcome to her.


  • One day after the initial discard, while I was still pick me dancing and begging him to come back to our family, he stopped by to see the kids. We were talking in the kitchen and it was a beautiful early spring afternoon. Golden sun was streaming in through the back window and the three kids were laughing together in the living room – one of those perfect moments that makes you so happy to be a parent. He looked around and said “I just can’t take this anymore. I have to get out of here. I have to get away from this.” I think that was the moment I knew. He couldn’t appreciate the beautiful life we’d built in our lovey home with our happy kids. And then I realized that *I* had built that home; he had been tangential for a long time. It was like his spirit left the house lol. It was just mine in my heart from then on – with the kids of course. I’m lucky I was in a position to keep it without hardship. I did replace the bed immediately, but nothing felt like it was his anymore.

    • We lived in a nice house (that was as neat as a pin and filled with 3 great kids) and soon after telling me “Im leaving you because you are a terrible wife but there is no one else” he stood in the kitchen and gestured to everything around him and said “I dont want this, I dont want any of this, I never wanted this”.

      Weird thing is, he chose all of our life circumstances, so we were in that spot by his choosing, but apparently he didnt want to be married to me. I wish he had had the courage to follow through and just go, but he tried the “be an asshole until she throws me out” tactic and I wasn’t having that.

      • It’s amazing. When it happens, you think you’re the only one. You think they’re right about you. This is the person you loved and trusted most in the world telling you you’re worthless so it must be true. And then you find out it’s just a script they follow to justify their unethical behavior. Somehow they all got a copy of the same script and undermine us in the same ways (and in the same location!). I’m not sure I’ll ever heal from the trauma, but it really helps to know I’m not alone.

        • Yes, true. You didnt hold a gun to their head. They courted you, proposed, married, had kids, bought a house, ect. They were a willing participant, but somehow didnt want any of it.

          The truth is that they will never be happy, feel joy, love or contentment. Their disordered selves deep down inside feel mostly negativity. They attribute those inner negative feelings onto outside influences. They honestly have no idea the negative feelings flow from themselves. The disordered are not able to be self aware or reflective. Everyone else is the problem and to blame while they are perfect. They are mentally ill. And I do believe all cheaters are mentally ill.

          • I do think that my cheater had some mental illness but his decisions likely gave him world class cognitive dissonance which likely exacerbated everything.

      • My situation was similar. FW had chosen our house, which I honestly hated. He had forced that move. He said he wanted our son to go to the same grade school he did, but honestly I think he just wanted to save a few bucks a month. The house I was leaving was not a castle, but it was decent and actually looked like a house.

        Anyway, I am pretty sure he was doing the abuse her until she throws me out stick, and I fought it for a year. I had come to the conclusion that after the Christmas holidays, I was going to my preacher for help in how to get him out of the house. I was a tad afraid as he was in LE, and he was a self proclaimed controller.

        Fate stepped in and someone filed an ethics complaint on him just before Christmas, he was caught with his dick in his direct report, and he quickly moved to his own apt; using the I have been a sad sausage for ten years excuse for his horrid behavior. I was fortunate in that I think it is unlikely that anyone believed a thing he said; as they knew us both very well. I had worked for too long with many members of the town helping his get his big ass up the ladder.

        I told him he had to file since he wanted the D. He was so busy trying to save his ass at work, he filed.

        It was all hell on earth; but I was blessed with a new life better than I had ever thought.

      • My ex gave his discard speech in our kitchen while sucking on his vape pen and waving his arms around during his you never do anything for me/she who is married with 3 kids can put him first rant. So I couldn’t do much changing with my kitchen, but I rearranged the living room, got a new bed, and converted man cave into a tiki lounge. We lived in the house for about 3 more years and recently sold it. It was great getting net proceeds check knowing that my efforts paid off and now I’m renovating a house for the kids and me.

      • They fatally wound and then leave you to do the killing, which is hard when you’re dealing with the pain of betrayal as well. Mine stole from our business for years and legally fought (very expensively) and denied everything despite much proof. I had to dismiss him which of course makes him the victim and he has the perfect story.

    • I think the realization that everything beautiful in our lives was due to MY efforts, not his, was when I was able to kick his “spirit” to the curb.

      • YES!!! (“I think the realization that everything beautiful in our lives was due to MY efforts, not his, was when I was able to kick his “spirit” to the curb.”) For all the rest of you who are wounded-but-not-giving-in, please remember this.

    • I also kept our house (that he slept with AP in) for two years after D day so our son could graduate from high school. I did change all the bedding, mattress, etc., but in a weird way I felt more powerful by staying than if I had left – like I was reclaiming my territory from him and AP. Of course, I did destroy every single picture with him in it (ripped them to shreds) and moved everything of his into the garage, so that helped. 🙂 Sold the house two years later. I would have stayed if I could have, but it didn’t make financial sense. I still have all the same furniture from the old house in my new house, and it doesn’t bother me for some reason. Maybe I’m in denial, but it’s been 6 years since D day and almost 4 since divorce, so maybe I’m at meh. 🙂

  • I am one of those who moved out. FW thought that we would both stay in the marital home until the divorce was final. Um, nope, not happening. This was supposed to protect the marital estate (yeah right). Unfortunately, he was sending and spending money on Schmoppie. His attorney actually thought I would contribute money in a joint account to pay for household expenses!!!!! Um nope, I did not have any joint accounts with him after DDay. There was no way, I was going to support Schmoopie and whatever other side pieces he maintained (yes, he also had some “happy ending” girls to cover his needs because Schmoopie lived across the pond).
    Through detective work, I was able to find out when he was going on vacation with Schmoopie (mind you this is mid-divorce when he was trying to preserve the marital estate). Once I know when he would be gone, I was able to purchase a house, get movers to come and take what I wanted and needed for my new house and quickly get away. I could not stay there because there was no amount of sage and incense that could rid the house of the cheater stink. FW had the shock of his life when he got back and there was nothing he could do about it because he did not want anyone to know where he was or who he was with (his image management actually helped me on this).
    Once we settled (a story in and of itself), I got the marital home in the end. I found a buyer and I am now in the process of selling it. This will help me pay off my new home. I love my new home so much. I can finally have a flower and vegetable garden (FW hated that and claimed they were too much work(work he would never stoop to do)).
    I did make sure I left him his DNA encrusted bed (yes, he had videoed his sex sessions with Schmoopie in various places in the marital home whenever I was away and he brought her over) and all other contaminated furniture. I bought a new bed, refinished a bunch of second hand and antique stuff that I got from auctions or estate sales. The stuff that I took from the home was sanitized and some of it redone so it carries no lingering cheater foulness or looks like anything the cheater knew it as.
    I was glad that I had the ability to leave. My advice for chumps who cannot leave is to change up the look of your stuff that could bring back memories. There are excellent resources out there that show all the wonderful things you can do to make your old stuff look new or totally different (I spent many hours on this). You don’t need a of of money or special tools for a lot of this (I bought a bunch of tools by thrifting or yard sales). Get creative with paint, fabric and whatever else. I found renewing furniture to be a great form of therapy.

  • Such mixed feelings come with staying in the marital home. In my case, I loved my home of 25 years, and I had teenagers who needed to finish high school, so I stayed. Here’s how I managed some serious reclamation:
    – Rented a dumpster and tossed 25 years worth of his neglected crap.
    – Sold anything of value not nailed down and made some serious CASH.
    – Demolished our Queen bed frame with a reciprocating saw – no lie – those tools are amazing.
    – Bought a new mattress (obviously).
    – Erased every last trace of his cheating ass from my home.
    – Stayed another 5 years until both kids graduated from high school then moved into a home that is truly all mine.
    I can honestly say it wasn’t until moving that my healing really sped up.

  • This is really minor, but it meant a lot to me. FW is a hoarder and for 20 years I lived in filth. Our kitchen was small and she never wanted to put a trash can there. So we hung plastic bags from drawers and often trash overflowed and stank. Once she moved out to go live with the a**wipe, I bought a really cool silver trash can. It made me so proud. Of course now it’s been 3 years and the entire house is clean, painted, rearranged and livable. I also got rid of our bed and got me a really fantastic Sleep Number. I sleep like a baby now knowing I’m not living in a hoarders hell!

  • I claimed more than reclaimed. It was easier in that he never brought sex partners here that I know of (although the carpet guy said he couldn’t get the wine stain out of the bedroom carpet and I dont drink wine. Something in my brain simply stashed that under “whatever” and I moved on.

    My Cheater lived in this house for 5 years before he died (in the house). That would make a lot of people wiggy and keep the place deeply associated with him, but there were reasons to not move and I opted to stay and make it mine. I was barely even allowed in his office and surely not allowed to mess with anything in it. I claimed the hell out of it and painted it the most lovely jewel blue and put up ceiling to floor drapes and decorated with antiques. I think I have the most lovely office ever.

    My new husband moved in 3.5 years after cheater died. We opted to each keep our houses in our own names and our kid’s names to simplify estate planning so hubby doesnt own this house but he has found a perfect balance of it truly being his home while not overstepping in any way. His balance in this is remarkable and admirable.

    In the 7 years we have been married, we have replaced nearly every piece of furniture in the house and filled it with memories of our adventures.

  • I reclaimed “D Day” as a day of celebration

    Before I reached Tuesday, I would use that day for a day of self-care

    I filed for divorce on the anniversary of D-day.

    Now that I have reached Tuesday, I literally celebrate on the anniversary of D day. Now I can look back and realize that the discovery day saved my life. How many more years would I have stayed stuck in a place where I was not valued, loved or respected? Truly – that discovery set me on a path that lead me where I am today, which he happier than I’ve ever been in my adult life.

    • “Now that I have reached Tuesday, I literally celebrate on the anniversary of D day. Now I can look back and realize that the discovery day saved my life.”
      I love this! Good for you.

    • Yesterday was 5 years out for me (he dumped me a week before Christmas), and I also celebrate the day. I use it to be thankful for all of the new and deeper friendships I have built since then. My life doesn’t look like I expected, but I’m so grateful to not be with him anymore.

  • I moved and we sold the house. I regret it. It was a beautiful home. I felt like I had to get rid of it to get rid of him. I wish I had been strong enough to say forget him and continued on instead of doing a complete upheaval and traumatizing my kids more than necessary. He sucks.

    • I understand..our family home was awesome too. But I lived there for a year after DDay and it was filled with memories that haunted me. Forever asking why? Even though I miss that house, it is liberating to be a space he has never been in. I hope you find that to be true for you in time. Just have to see that house as part of getting yourself free from abuse. Hugs!!

  • Like the OP, I couldn’t move away from the marital home for financial reasons. So, I did have to reclaim it. A couple of key changes that really helped:

    1. Rearranging the furniture in the master bedroom: I learned this trick from a friend whose husband cheated on her and moved out. After Best Regards moved out his clothes and furniture to move in with the AP and her kids (still married, both of them…), I moved the bed to the opposite wall with a view out the window to the mountains, and I set up a little tea-making corner on the night table on that side so I could make tea and watch the sun rise (b/c I wasn’t sleeping, natch). Made such a difference! Highly recommend.
    2. Repainting: Not the whole house, just key rooms where Best Regards had picked out the colors and I hated them—like the egg-yolk yellow he picked for our kitchen and dining room. Painted it a soothing chocolate brown instead (I’m a neutral walls kind of girl—I like my pops of color in things that can be moved around and switched out).
    3. Repairs: Of course the minute Best Regards moved out, a bunch of stuff broke…. It was very stressful b/c he was a very domineering person who of course didn’t trust me to park the car much less pick a new water heater. And yet that’s exactly what I had to do—that plus a new dishwasher, new microwave and venting system…. It was really empowering. I reclaimed not only my house but my authority and autonomy. I trust myself to make good decisions now, and if I mess up? Oh well, I deal with it. SO liberating.

    The end result is I now have a house that everyone loves. They compliment me on the style and on how welcoming and comfortable it is to be in my house. I never could understand why the style of the house wouldn’t harmonize when I was married, but now I get it. You can spend as much money as you want on interior decoration, but money doesn’t buy harmony. Harmony only comes from the people living in the house.

  • I wanted the house so our kids could finish high school and then have a place to come home too during college. Although she could not qualify to finance it, she tried to block me out of spite. In the end I won.
    I remodeled almost everything. Blew out walls, relocated the hall bath and added a lot of built-ins. The best part was having my sons participate. Lots of great conversations while tearing out drywall and pulling electrical wire. When I finished her presence was gone. Instead of sage smoke, I used floor sanding dust!

  • In my case, all I really had to do to make a MASSIVE visual change was introduce things that weren’t his and that felt human and nonurban and homey. He insisted on a 1990s rock-urban look he called “a cool aesthetic” (he once said he cheated because I “didn’t really fit his aesthetic”) which was all black and gray with his own wild avant garde squiggle paintings all around. No soft things, and NEVER EVER EVER anything so uncool as a handmade blanket or nature scene.

    I hate avant garde art and dislike most things people call “modern art” and I love quilts and yarncrafting and other handmade stuff and bright colors and nature themes and funky things like wild old lamps and goofy antique curios.

    He only liked his own offbeat cooking, heavily spiced and often very “fragrant”, leaving the house smelling like stale food for days. I like nice clean dishes, spiced minimally and allowing natural flavors to shine through. And I like more nature-oriented scents — citrus, mint, even amber.

    He liked wild avant garde music, and bebop jazz, and Wagner. I like lighter symphonic classical, and folk, and big band and ballad jazz, and clever choral harmony singing, and other fun music like that.

    So really, it took next to zero dollars and a couple of short weeks to transform my home from a Billy Idol music video set to a place fit for sensory systems of nice, pleasant human beings, and finally unstressed cats, where we can live and love and thrive.

  • Redecorating or renovating helps alot. FW had serious control issues about decorating(OCPD&NPD). He would throw things out without asking, but freak if you threw his stuff out. Couldnt hang stuff on walls because it would make a hole or he just wanted clean white walls- part of his OCPD. No rugs or drapes because of his allergies. Had huge industrial sized air filters in almost every room. No pets because of allergies. A real joy to live with. Just having your own space, being able to paint the walls any color, get a rug, get new furniture, put up a picture, plants! Not have a large airfilter in room, makes it look like a different place. You can transform it into a zen zone. Have friends and family over, make good memories in the same space helps tremendously. A mom or woman makes a place a home, not a housekeeper.

    • OMG. He had OCPD AND NPD!?!? I’m 99.9% sure my former mother-in-law has OCPD. And the ex has NPD. I cannot even imagine the hell of living with someone who has both. :shudder:

    • “FW had serious control issues about decorating.” Same. My X is an architect. He was very particular and – let’s face it – arrogant about all things house/home, as if his style was superior. I once bought a chair and a rug he actually liked. He went on and on about this chair and rug, acting borderline shocked I had selected something beautiful. It was hurtful (he typically conveyed that anything I selected was subpar – but always did it with a smile on his face – this would fit the covert narcissist narrative, right?), insulting (like I wasn’t capable of selecting beautiful things), and just plain effing annoying. So glad I don’t have to run anything past him for his approval anymore.

      • Meant to add…I do not currently have the expendable income to replenish all my furniture and such. X does have the income and immediately bought tons of furniture, household goods, and a new watch upon our split. Guess I’ve been holding him back all these years 🙄 It will be a very slow rebuild for me. It’s hard to watch him appear to flourish and prosper, after all the trauma he caused our family.

    • I am always amazed at how anal so many of these cheaters are about stuff like that. Mine was the same way, I could clean all day, or even when I had it professionally cleaned and he would walk in and you could see his eyes scanning to find an imperfection. It got a lot worse in the year of discard, but he was always like that. Dirty filthy cheaters, romp around in the mud with any pig whore they can find, but can’t stand a mess anywhere else.

  • I donated pots and pans, knives, sheets and blankets and burned what was burnable. Anything that remined me too much of the slime. Even if it was in good shape. If it had a vibe it went. It’s ongoing. But I’m at Tuesday. It was a long hard road but I am awesome and I did it. My need to run the whole sorry mess through my mind is gone. I got plans!

  • I was free to leave, so I did. FW didn’t bring his whore to our house, but there were too many bad memories there. OW brought him to her house and fucked him in the marital bed. I made sure to tell her husband so he could burn the bed if he so desired.

    I took the dogs with me when I left, so you could say I’ve reclaimed them. As for all the restaurants he took her to that had been places we ate as a couple and as a family, I’m not interested in getting them back. I moved out of that area and I haven’t been to any restaurant since Covid, and that’s okay with me. I didn’t go to bars or pubs with FW or anybody else, so the buckets of blood he and schmoopie hung out in aren’t places I need to reclaim. I’m an hour’s drive away from FW and anything he’s touched, which is a relief.

    The main thing I reclaimed was my former self. I had let my needs and expectations get small because they weren’t going to be met. It turns out he wouldn’t even meet the smallest, bare bones ones, like caring if I lived or died.
    Now I expect what I deserve, what I have earned, and what I have a right as a human being to expect- that I will be treated with the same kindness and consideration I am willing to give. Anyone who won’t give me that has no place in my life, and that includes family.

    • Another thing I recently realized I’ve reclaimed is my cool. For a time, the wake of Dday, I was highly reactive to difficult people. A few weeks ago, I inadvertently cut somebody off in traffic. It was a stupid senior moment which I felt awful about. However, not content to chalk it up to a mistake, this woman actually followed me all the way to my destination to berate me, descending on me as soon as I parked. This was at night in the more isolated part of a parking lot, and she had a friend with her to confront me as well, so it was a bit scary. After trying to apologize (with her yelling over me) I just let her rant and rave for several minutes until she paused, whereupon I just said; “I understand how you feel and I sincerely apologize. What can I do to make this better?”
      Her mouth dropped open, then closed. She was thrown for a loop. I think she expected me to fight with her and was disappointed that I wouldn’t. My stalker then slunk off into the night without another word.

      I’m happy to have regained the poise I lost in the wake of trauma. I think these are the most important things we need to reclaim, not beds or houses or other material things, but the parts of ourselves we lost.

      • Totally agree, OFFS. I’m so happy I’m beginning to know myself, after many years of submitting to whatever FW wanted, and how our lives should be lived. It’s because of my strange FOO, and I am taking responsibility for giving over my needs to him so easily! He was so shocked I divorced him, but he really went many steps too far, and I finally saw the light.
        I have my own place now, the house where all his crimes against me happened is sold, and I’m sure not looking back! I’m on a journey of self discovery now. Setting new routines and intentions, so much self-love, affirmations, and I’ve even started meditating, something I thought I’d never be able to do, but it’s easy now. My therapist suggested trying ketamine treatment, which I’ve done 2 of so far, and it’s amazing for people who’ve lived with trauma , like myself! Now I’m living more in the present, looking forward to my future, and I don’t care what FW is doing. That’s his job!
        I always enjoy your point of view here, BTW!

        • Likewise, FreeWoman. What does the ketamine do for you? I’m wondering what the mechanism is for healing trauma. I guess I have some research to do.

          • It expands your mind. It works kind of like a psychedelic, and along with that, I also follow the therapist’s instructions for reading certain books, and making new routines in my life that are healthy, like daily yoga and relaxation, positive intention setting. It makes new synapses in your brain, so it’s a time when you can have a lot of growth. For me, it caused me to let go of grief over my childhood trauma, and my poor choice in a partner (and how I could stay so long). All that kind of evaporated, and I’m focusing on the present now. If you find a good practice, that is well run with good support, I think it’s amazing.
            They usually do six treatments, but I don’t think I’ll need that many, I’m already so much better.

  • I’m still in the house, because I like the neighborhood, it’s my daughter’s home and I have an unbelievable mortgage rate with tons of equity. It’s taken a few years, but the house is feeling like mine. New paint. New furniture. Every time I change something it feels a little bit more like me. Plus I got cats and I can unequivocally say the house belongs to them.

    The best part is the look on my ex’s face when he comes to pick our daughter up. He’s so sad that I didn’t keep his lime green paint. 🙁

  • For me taking the very thing he coveted the most, the place he saw himself as king. Making it mine, changing it without his input. Not allowing anyone, I don’t want, in it. That was empowering. Like a country that takes a town and are finally chased off. I have since moved on. But felt victorious by taking his castle and making it mine

    • Love that. FW thought he’d take the paid for commercial property and our Costa Rica vacation condo we’d had for 12 years, also paid for & I’d take the paid for house. He had taken howorker to condo.
      Turns out drugs, attorney and girlfriend are expensive, we sold condo -he’d been depleting his IRA and his attorney expected payment. We split that money and I got it sold just before COVID hit. 🥳

  • I found out my x was taking quick stop girl to our beach house, so I left him and moved into it. I kept acting like we were just going through a rough patch in our marriage, but secretly got all the utilities switched to my name, got paperwork together, and watched as the months away turned into a year. I filed for divorce, got the beach house, and now have met a wonderful man in an epic love story. I reclaimed my life after leaving a 21 year cheating, abusive marriage !!

  • I stayed in my home because I had owned it long before we got married and I love my home. I’m lucky that he never brought her to the house… I live in a townhouse with very nosy, retired neighbors who spend their days looking out the window & he knew they would tell me everything that went on when I was not home.

    I took my home back by changing the locks immediately on dday, removing every photo of him, every item he purchased & every piece of furniture he picked out. I changed the color schemes of the rooms & bought new artwork, throw pillows, couch, etc. I also got all new bedding (comforter, sheets, pillows, everything including the mattress pad & topper.) I kept my king size SleepNumber bed because it’s the best bed/sleep I’ve ever had but I started sleeping like a starfish in the center of the mattress, no more his side or my side. All mine!

    I’ve also been taking back/overriding other memories, too. Visiting favorite restaurants, going to “our” places around town, etc. Next year is the big one… I will be visiting the beach where we were married for the first time since the divorce. It’s time. I’m closing out those old chapters and writing my big, beautiful new story.

    For all the newbies, please hang in there. As CL promises, it gets better!

  • We lived in a home where FW agonized over every design choice from door knobs to furniture. (He does have impeccable taste.) AND we shared this house with his parents. When our life blew up—the kids were clear that they wanted to stay in their home and with their grandparents. I felt like I had no choice bc I didn’t want to re-traumatize them. It was hard. I felt like I often couldn’t breathe. I changed some things but didn’t have the money or energy to change others. But funny thing, kids and I laughed so much some nights that the air changed. It helped.
    But things really felt better when I did an act of pure rebellion.
    My FW dragged me from showroom to showroom to pick out a couch. It was painful bc I didn’t care. But I went and feigned interest. He picked a $10,000 couch (who does that???!) and I let him choose the color. Well he picked a light cover—perfect for a household with aging wine drinkers, a dog and two rambunctious kids. I spent years policing so that his stupid couch didn’t get ruined. About a year after he left I had a precious night alone in the house without in-laws and kids. I invited the man I was seeing and I had sex on that couch. The next day I told all my friends and we celebrated. They knew how oppressed I had been living with FW’s possessions. Thankfully, FW eventually reclaimed the couch (that he cared more for than I or the kids) and we have a practical one. (Keep the secret CN! I don’t want poor FW and schmoopie (my former friend to feel bad.)

    • Love this. My architect X agonized over every design choice as well. He’s got great taste too, but there wasn’t much room for my opinion as a non-architect commoner. And…as someone who’s experienced the pain of double betrayal (he had an affair with a close friend of mine), I’m so sorry. It’s particularly shitty.

  • The house stuff didn’t bother me. I made memories with my kids there & I wasn’t going to let my ex (and any skank juju) ruin that too!! I just freshened it up with paint, moved things around & bought some new items. However, he was always weirdly OCD about cars & trying to control what I drove. So I went to a dealer, traded in my (his) stupid car & bought something I wanted. I know him well enough to know that it was probably a kick in the gut to him to see me driving something that was out of his control now. Bye Bye FW! 🖕🏻 🖕🏻 🖕🏻

  • after selling the marital home, i moved into a rental home and have made it my own. it’s peaceful. there are a few things i got rid of but not much. after all, i made the home. he just visited after long hours of work and criticized me for leaving a couple things on the counter.

    initially i resented the fact that i’d just spent a whole year renovating the marital home, but i’ve gotten over it. my X was thrilled with the renovation and talked about how much he loved it, could see us getting old there and so on. then 5-6 months later he hated it, couldn’t stand it, it was “just a house, not a home.” now that i think of it, that was likely a strategy to get me to move out but i didn’t. it was my home. i also work from home. i can sniff out manipulation and it smells like burning rubber, and stale cigarettes.

    he moved out. the kids and i stayed during the lengthy negotiations and, once they were complete, prepped and sold the house. we’ve been here for 4 months and it feels good. i lost a few items of furniture in the divorce and have replaced them. there was a painting that i really missed, so i bought myself a new one. it’s titled ‘exuberance’ and it hangs in my office. i’m getting a lot of work done these days. my energy is finally freed up.

  • I was fortunately able to move away from the scene of the crimes. And that’s really what it felt like to me. The verbal and emotional abuse was much worse that the level of cheating that I know about. And I try not to think about what I don’t know about. What I reclaimed was my body. I threw away all of the sexy nighties and got a tattoo. It was very empowering.

    • ” I threw away all of the sexy nighties and got a tattoo.”

      🤣👍. I’ve always fancied a tattoo, but I’m a coward about needles. Plus maybe it’s a bit naff for a 70 year old woman!

  • I changed curtains, throw rugs, painted, new complete bedding with comforter, planters with bright flowers (itwas spring). New bank account (closed old one), reissued credit cards with him off them, froze credit (can be done online). Tried to isolate myself from everything him. Hugs!

  • I got rid of the giant heavy oak wall unit that held the photo albums, stereo, 500 CDs… It dominated the whole living space. Got rid of heavy fabric valances I had sewn myself. Painted a light neutral color. I got rid of solid wood tables and an iron coffee table and replaced with lighter, inexpensive, modern tables from Amazon. I was literally and figuratively stripping everything back down bare. Got rid of the stereo pieces and started streaming music. It just felt like there was more air in space in the house and I could breathe.

  • I took myself back. For years I walked on eggshells and suppressed my thoughts and feelings so as not to upset his highness or make him uncomfortable.

    He’s very surface and phony and would literally put his hand in my face to stop me from talking about anything that wasn’t sports or the weather.

    When I dumped him I went back to who I am. If I feel like cursing I curse. If I want speak my thoughts out loud i do….nobody in my life has a problem with it.

    I bought my own house and moved out with my kids. I’m fortunate that I’m a high earner and didn’t need his shitty income to do ok.

    So fuck him and the horse he rode in on. If his highness heard me say that his head would explode….it’s not fit for “polite company”. Lol

  • I think moving is the best option. But if you can’t do that, I suggest rearranging layouts in the rooms and swapping the furniture around. Paint (it’s still a cheap way to remodel and you can usually paint rentals with landlord ok especially if you agree to restore original color when you do move.) Make your own art and put on the walls. Do something in there he wouldn’t like. A friend’s cheating ex didnhi’t want to put any holes in the wall, so after she kicked him out she gladly put up artwork. Just give it a different feel and a different vibe.

  • I “reclaimed” Maui, my dream vacation spot. The last time I went with XH it was during the hell of wreconciliation- XH spent the time withdrawing from adderral (I thought he had a weird intermittent flu) or secretly texting the ‘ho or taking pics of us in our bathing suits and posting with love bombing sentences about me (probably trying to get ‘ho to dance harder). Sick fucker. The following year long after I told him to GTFO and filed, my middle kids wanted to go escape the dark cold of the PNW for winter break. I bit the bullet and took them. Stayed at a new resort I’d always wanted to try. Ate at new restaurants. Cried on beach walks A LOT. Truly grieved the loss of who I thought he was. Decided I still love Maui and XH was not going to take my place of refuge and rejuvenation. I’ve returned every year since. These last 5 with my fiancé and his kids. I love Maui more than ever. It’s been 8 years since Dday. I was with XH 26 years. This last trip I hardly thought of XH at all – it’s like a bad movie I saw a long time ago. I can hardly believe that was my life. Truly, I’m at Meh and free of the abuse and healed from the PTSD. Thank God for you, Tracy, and this community!

    • The kids and I reclaimed Disney World. We had been on a hell-on-earth “vacation” there with the X. We went back and had a good time.

    • Same! Although it was New York City. I finally talked FW into taking our three teenagers for a much-anticipated trip in the bad but not unbearable before times. I did all the prep work, of course, and with a very limited budget and even less knowledge of NYC (Texan!), I located us in Hell’s Kitchen. FW complained constantly. The hotel room was so small! The subway so confusing! The meals so expensive! Wearing his tinpot dictator hat, FW forced us up and out the door at 8am every day so we could get our money’s worth of New York City magic.

      Reader, the kids did not heart New York City. They anti-hearted every single part of it and made their displeasure known. I have countless photos of them glaring at me on the Brooklyn Bridge, in Central Park, atop the Empire State Building, on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum. They staged a rebellion the last day and refused to go on the daily “death march.” FW was beside himself at their ingratitude. Ah, yes, good times.

      So, in an effort to reclaim poor NYC’s reputation, I took my youngest son back in late June 2019. I reserved a lovely airbnb in the West Village. Son slept till noon while I checked out the Friends apartment and ate banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery. He picked where we ate and the one museum he agreed to visit. I had inadvertently put us at ground zero for the Stonewall WorldPride 50th anniversary (remember, not a local!) and the joint was hopping, as they say. Son and I enjoyed every minute of the very lively street scene, made sweeter by the sure knowledge that FW would have frog marched us out of that den of iniquity, pronto.

      The four of us are going to Mexico City after Christmas. Here’s to reclaiming!

      • We always called vacations with STBX “Daddy Death Marches” too! STBX had us moving from sun up to way past sun down. It was exhausting!

  • I didn’t get a choice. 4 days after fuckwit said he was leaving me he put a non-contingent offer on a new home for himself with OUR money. We sold our home under duress and I bought a new condo nearby.
    Now fuckwit and Homewrecker are cohabitating 30 minutes away and I feel I have reclaimed this part of town. Although I will never afford a home here again, I still love where I live. What I lost in my home and retirement was worth it to be fuckwit free!

  • On D-Day, I surprised myself with an instant gut reaction of, “that’s my f***ing house.” In all 35 years of living there, I had always assumed that if we separated I would move out and he would stay. He always loudly claimed he would never leave this dream property. When the sh** hit the fan, my bravest self came forward to fight and it was to protect my home.

    Some things I did to reclaim it:

    – replace the filters on the furnace/ac regularly. still do. trying to clear out any leftover dna.
    – scrub, scrub, scrub the bathroom he hung out in way too much with his phone
    – replace the bed
    – sage — for the first year I saged nearly everyday and spoke out loud about my wishes for clear space. I still do it several times a year. I have to assume schmoopie or other schmoopies may have been here. I make sure they all know they are no longer welcome.
    – paid a neighbor man to completely clean out an outbuilding that FW spent his free time in. Valuable stuff, trash, all of it was hauled off. The neighbor was thrilled with his loot. The space would be good for roller skating now.
    – all during the property negotiations leading up to the divorce I quietly and inconspicuously peed on my corners; property corners, entrances to the property….like a dog does. Or a buck deer. This is MINE. A friend who is a bit of a shaman or medicine woman suggested it and I decided it couldn’t hurt. You read that right – haha!

  • I moved out of state and rented for a little less than a year so I could sort out the mind f***k that happened to me. Married 40 years to a complete fake of a husband. I was out of the marital home thirty days after discovery. Well physically. I left a lot of my stuff until I could figure out where I would permanently land. I went back a year later hired a moving company and packed up all my stuff and never looked back. By then we were divorced and I had bought a home in a Colorado mountain town. I was lucky to have just retired so I could move anywhere. I wanted to be as far away from him as I could get. Too many triggers and I also did not know how many affairs he had with women that were also right in front of me all the time I was in my home town. What I gained was getting my family back. None of them ever liked him which caused a strain on my family relationships over the years. My family and I have had more fun times together the past six years since DDay than we did the previous entire 40 years. Getting completely away allowed me to heal much faster. I allowed emails and an occasional phone call only until our marital home and other property sold. I have been totally no contact for over four years. He sent me an email a few months ago letting me know that his mother had passed away but again it was all about him and how he cannot believe he is 71 years old now. I never responded. I am remarried to a wonderful man now and still pinch myself that my life is so sane. I can actually have an adult conversation with my husband and both our families are close. I still am blown away at how strong many at CN are. I could not stay with him until we divorced like many of you have done. You all continue to amaze me with your strength and courage!!

    • “I left a lot of my stuff until I could figure out where I would permanently land. I went back a year later hired a moving company and packed up all my stuff and never looked back.”

      Well done! I left the junk I didn’t want for FW to deal with. I had already bought another home that was smaller, so I decided to jettison a ton of stuff. FW had to clear the house out and is preparing it for sale. I didn’t lift a finger to help.

  • Married 21 years now divorced 6-1/2. One of my favorite songs before that was “Marry Me” by Train. Every time I heard it I would ask then husband if he would marry me again. He would always say “Of course, I love you more today than I did yesterday and I’ll love you even more tomorrow”
    3 weeks before Dday we went to a wedding. My then husband went up to the DJ and requested that song be played for me. We danced like nobody else was in the room. He had NEVER requested a song before in our entire 21 year marriage. I asked him if he would marry me again
    “Of course, i love you more today than I did yesterday “ was the reply
    3 weeks later I was sitting in a lawyer office filing for a divorce after everything came out about an over 1 year affair with the neighbor. I never understood why he requested that song at that time. It always bothered me. I didn’t like that song for years because I felt like it was our song. After all this time I can now say I love that song again and listen to it with no reminiscing about the past. Its just a really sweet song and I love to hear it!

  • I had great reasons to keep paid for home. My daughters homes are 7 minutes from me. Grands included. I have great neighbors that look out for me. When FW tried to get in to house while I was at exercise, my phone went crazy from neighbors. They said hope you’re not home, he’s acting weird. He was trying to steal the silver, we had three sets for each of the kids. I told them to come get it at the beginning of the process. Haha.

    He was legally allowed to come in at that time but I knew he couldn’t find his key and would use the garage code – which I had changed. He ended up breaking into the service door of garage.

    I knew it was my house when he didn’t want to step foot here again. FW Sent movers for things he could’ve fit in a U-Haul trailer. Hope he was too ashamed.

    I got bids for professional tree trimming service and I have had it done twice in four years. I also had hurricane shutters put over the door openings, some thing he didn’t want to spend the money on even though it saved money for homeowners insurance. I had impact windows, it was like the job was half done with him, not anymore.

  • -Woof- Kudos for staying in the Apt, I didn’t stay in our shared space as my environment is very important to me. But, I did keep shared objects that I shared the same feelings of disgust due to my ex. Here are some things that helped me. Hope they help you as well. Please keep in mind there is a strong belief that all objects/spaces absorb energy and continues to radiate or project the positive or negative energy it takes in. This is why people can walk into a dwelling and get creeped out or feel happy. Same concept for objects.

    With that in mind:
    1) objects that are made of natural materials absorb a lot of energy. For example, wood furniture absorbs a lot more energy than marble because it’s softer than marble and energy can soak in the grains of wood. They both are natural materials but your wood furniture will carry more of the negative energy. If you don’t purge that negative energy after an event such as this it layers over time with layer upon layer of negative/positive energies. To purge it, sage every nook and cranny of your furniture and put unlit white candles in the drawers and anywhere where light can not reach such as underneath the furniture (even if it’s on the floor), behind it, in drawers, etc. A good rule of thumb for beds is 5 unlit candles under the bed (1 at each corner and 1 at the center). Yea lights will do and don’t worry. An unlit candle is just as effective as a lit candle because light comes from it. You just can’t light it so not to burn down the furniture and your apt.

    2) Open every window and doorway to allow as much light in and Sage every corner of your apt especially dark areas (like closets). Start at the back of the apartment and work your way around each room crisscrossing doorways/windows/closets as you move out of that space to purge the negative energy. Negative energy enjoys hiding out in dark spaces and loves to attract more dark energy to those spaces. When you crisscross a window/doorway, you are closing off that opening for the negativity to continue to seep in. Negative energy wants it to still feel icky after 3 yrs because it feeds off those icky feelings so closing the portals off is best. Work your way around the apartment like this to the entrance/exit. This purges the negative energy and pushes it out of your space. Do the crisscross tactic with mirrors too. Sages purges on a spiritual and ionic level. Science has proven that burning sage cleans spaces as it releases elevated ion numbers in the area. I would do this at least 1-2x a month for several months. You can also start burning lavender and other smudges to encourage peace and tranquility.

    3) after you sage, anoint yourself, the doorways, windows, and mirrors with oil.

    4) after each smudge session I suggest taking a candle lit bath with lemon and Epson salt in the bath water. It will cleanse and relax you.

    5) Lastly, I also hang an evil eye outside of my front door to ward off evil and bring good luck as well as wear one around my neck. (You can laugh but the day after I hung it up a man came to our house thinking he was hooking up with another man and became irate with my 17 yr old daughter and tried to come in the house but she slammed the door and called the police who got there in record time….you can call it hoaky, I call it protection).

    I know these are unconventional ways but they have helped me a lot over the years especially with my antique furniture as some pieces were carrying over 100 years of negative energy. After I did this the energy in my space went from heavy to light and airy.

  • London, and my wedding dress. Six months after my divorce, I went on a Chumps-Do-Europe tour with KarmaExpress. We met other chumps in London, York, and Edinburgh, and just narrowly missed meeting chumps in Stockholm. Hannibal Lecher (my X) is British, so reclaiming London for my own was thrilling.

    My wedding dress had been a non-traditional pale yellow beaded Art Deco number. I wear it to the opera.

    I didn’t do anything scorched earth except out Hannibal Lecher as a cheater to all his friends and family. Marital things I like, I kept. Shrug. I divorced those innocent things (books, furniture, pictures) of any attachment to him.

  • My ex became physically abusive post D-day, and also sabotaged the house in several ways. I contacted a volunteer agency and was able to get several groups of volunteers, and help from some wonderful friends and neighbors. I had them inventory and photograph everything I was sending to ex, including household goods, his clothing and personal belongings, and the contents of his separate bathroom. Like other cheaters, he was a hoarder, and tween and I spent two summers throwing out hundreds of cartons that would have one or two items in them. About two dozen had a single empty tub of Philadelphia cream cheese. If any other chumps found something like this or know what it means, please let me know. We did gain enough space to put the car in one side of the garage, and this summer will reclaim the other side by emptying that out.

    Tween wanted me to keep the house, so I did. He wanted to take down all family photos with ex. I declined because I didn’t want to be accused of parental alienation, so Tween put stickers all over ex’s face until custody was decided. When the court gave me sole custody and ex no contact orders, Tween took the pictures down.

    Soon after ex left, Tween told me how much better the house felt, how much calmer it was. I felt it too.

    • Goodfriend, the boxes with 1 empty tub of cream cheese…I have no clue what it means, but it’s very, very, VERY weird.

  • Klootzak was military. He was like a feral male cat, claiming every fucking thing by pissing all over it with his antics with OW. After D-day #1, I realized he had spoiled music, recipes, places, even constellations for me. I love astrology so that last one really pissed me off. He tells OW that Orion’s belt are their special three stars to look up at and think of each other. 🤮

    For a few years, I avoided so many places and things. But more recently as I have planned my exit, I started taking them back. Fuck him. He doesn’t get to keep the universe. He doesn’t get to sully my recipes. I invited my friends to dinner (friends who hate him but put up a good front for me) and cooked on of my old favorite recipes. It’s one I know klootzak cooked for others and even wrote down for them. Anyway, klootzak had the nerve to say, “Well, you haven’t cooked THIS in a long time,” to which I responded, “True, but you cook it a lot.” Stony silence from him the rest of the night.

    So now I have GREAT news. I have the retainer! I will be meeting with the law office after the holidays to hand over the money and all the financial documents I can copy between now and then and will let them know what I want so they can start the documents. Then when the moment is right, I can call and pull the trigger. 😁

    After that? Well, if all goes well, he will be out of the house. I have three rooms and a hallway to repaint new colors. Locks to change. 😁 Two book cases to purge. New wall hangings to put up. I love this house. The neighbors are my friends. There is not another house remotely as good as this one in the area of my son’s school and this is the only house kiddo has ever known. Klootzak is the interloper and his controlling behaviors can go with him.

    I may be a different case since lining up ducks has taken so long. I’m so over him and have viewed him as “other” on so many levels. Once I got my bitch boots on, I have dressed the way I like and took back music I enjoy and more. I bought a big expensive telescope. He doesn’t get to keep the universe. He is a speck of dust in it. I’m taking it all back. He can cower and run but I won’t. I no longer care what he did where and with who. Fuck him.

    • Congrats!!!!! I hope you are able to pull the trigger and get out soon. I have read your posts and understand why you had to organize those ducks. Good luck in taking back your life and your home.

    • Orion’s Belt? Yeah, here that’d be a good choice for a shmoopie… that constellation is seasonal. Wonder if she caught on.

      • He picked it because it’s the only thing his simple mind is able to spot. It’s unlikely either of them would know that it’s seasonal. That schmoopie in particular knew he was married to me and carried on, anyway. I doubt it ever occurred to her that she was one of many OW. Believes herself to be speshul.

  • I was with FW 40 years, so a very pervasive trigger is popular music. I can’t listen to the radio or be in a retail establishment without hearing some song that has an association to my former life. I had also imported hundred of CDs into my phone, but I couldn’t stand to listen to any of it. A few months ago it occurred to me that I need to explore new soundtracks for my new life, so I’ve subscribed to a streaming music service. The fee is equivalent to what one would spend on a new record album per month, but the enhancement to my quality of life is priceless. Fresh new sounds, different voices, intriguing lyrics, novel feelings. It’s especially beneficial for holiday music. Highly recommend!

  • I was with FW 40 years, so a very pervasive trigger is popular music. I can’t listen to the radio or be in a retail establishment without hearing some song that has an association to my former life. I had also imported hundred of CDs into my phone, but I couldn’t stand to listen to any of it. A few months ago it occurred to me that I need to explore new soundtracks for my new life, so I’ve subscribed to a streaming music service. The fee is equivalent to what one would spend on a new record album per month, but the enhancement to my quality of life is priceless. Fresh new sounds, different voices, intriguing lyrics, novel feelings. It’s especially beneficial for holiday music. Highly recommend!

  • I stayed in the home that I loved, after buying him out. When he lived there he showed little interest in the house (it was a means of securing his position so that he would get a healthy lump sum – he could not have bought it on his own). He took down blinds because he ‘didn’t like them’, leaving windows exposed and cold. I had beautiful shutters and blinds installed at every window once I’d bought him out. It made all the difference.

  • I love my home. Even though it’s the place where he drip, drip, dripped all the sordid details of 30 years of cheating in trickle truths over the span of months during the 2020 lockdown, I still love it. After I kicked him out (we were already in separate bedrooms by that point) I turned his office into a gym/art studio for my son. And I took over the larger bedroom for myself, painted it a beautiful shade of pink and turned it into the girliest space you ever did see. I removed every photo of him from the house and then saged the shit out of it! I was the one who decorated it so it already felt like mine. Removing every trace of him makes it a safe space for me.

    • I get it. I was pregnant with youngest when we bought my home, over 32 years ago. There are far more good memories than bad. I’m careful with my funds so I haven’t done much cosmetically to inside of house. I had redone kitchen 14 years ago, I still get complements on it. FW became someone else after all children were in their careers. (Late life drugs with 31 🤮year old howorker). I have sticker over his face on our first trip to Costa Rica. 🙈

    • I’m in an apartment, not our marital home, but I also made my bedroom pink and girly. It’s lovely. Velvet and lace and fairy lights and little trinkets everywhere.

  • I stayed in the house, and I am slowly reclaiming it. It hasn’t quite been a year yet since FW XW moved out, so she’s got a lot of crap here still, but just having her out of here is a major reclamation to me. It used to bother me when she would come for the kid exchange, and if I had happened to leave the side door unlocked, she would walk right in like she still lived here. I used to say, “You need to use the front door like any other visitor.” But then I realized it doesn’t bother me any more. I’m the one in the big house with the pool in the upscale neighborhood while she’s on the other side of the tracks in a small townhome. Just so she could get that strange D from a schmoopie 10 years my junior that lived with his mom. Hope it was worth it!!

    • Hope she realizes she sucks every single time she comes to the house.
      Ex 64 and his 31 yo gf live in a 690 sqft apt with an untrained dog. It is the size of my (was ours)primary bedroom/bath.

  • My first purchase when I moved to a completely new city, which my cheater had never even been to before, was a brand new bed. Eventually I made my new home my own with many new things, but as our marital home got packed up I got to keep the items most precious to me. They all represent things that I had worked for and built for our family mostly on our travels abroad – things that he didn’t spend an ounce of energy in procuring or maintaining. For example, under my feet right now is my beloved camel-leather pouf, bought at the UNESCO World Heritage tannery site in Fez, Morocco. My idea to get it, my delight in using it, now not accessible to him. My own space is now a mix of new and reclaimed old and it’s just the way I like it. Our adult children, like it, too, when they come to visit.

  • Enjoy the dust bunnies freak -too right!

    I love how these f wits suddenly know how to complete household tasks like washing a sheet after decades of weaponised incompetence.

    Mine suddenly developed an interest in my Miele cat and dog vacuum cleaner, he was basically mute but tried to converse with me about it, having previously only vacuumed one time after the carpet had been professionally steam cleaned ( classic narc move in hindsight – he had to compete with the professionals)
    Anyway one day he decides to take the vacuum cleaner out on his RDO.Comes home that night eyes goggling out of his head , frothing at the mouth with excitement telling me he vacuumed “a friend at work”’s house, raved about the suction. 😳
    I had male colleague cum stalker once and I realised I was in strife when he turned up at my house, again, and tried to help me do the vacuuming. His wife told me he did no housework. He even bragged about his feet getting stuck to the floor it was so sticky. I mean please dickhead with your fake interest in housework please go away.

    • “I love how these f wits suddenly know how to complete household tasks like washing a sheet after decades of weaponised incompetence.”

      Oh yeah. FW developed a sudden interest in cooking and would try to impress me with photos of his dinner. He uses those dinner in a box services.
      I cook without a recipe, just by taste alone, and he thinks his dinner in a box meal is going to impress me. They always feel the need to compete.

      “Comes home that night eyes goggling out of his head , frothing at the mouth with excitement telling me he vacuumed “a friend at work”’s house, raved about the suction.”

      😄 With FWs, the puns just write themselves.

  • ALL THE SAGE! I invited about 10 girlfriends over for a slumber party — everyone came and we saged the shit out of the house. My friends went extra hard on the bedroom. We spent the evening drinking wine and burning (in the fireplace) a steady stream of photos and other mementos from the marriage. I also rearranged the bedroom completely, got new bedding, curtains, etc.

  • One of the things I found was that I had very few strong memories of ex in my home. Why? Because I was on my own parenting the three kids so much of the time while we were married. The first time I came to see the house, for an open house, I was alone. The afternoon’s I spent in the backyard with the kids? Also without him. The Saturday mornings when the kids and I would read and snuggle? No sign of him. It has always been my house, and I have kept it. Now I’ve also painted and redecorated 5 different rooms and done pretty significant yard maintenance and adding trees. And it’s all mine. At the time I wished he had participated in more. Now I’m elated that I have so few memories of him cluttering my life.

    • I truly get this. As near as I can tell, the last time klootzak had an OW in the house was before our child was born. He insisted on buying this one over the other house I really loved, but it has turned out to be the perfect fit for my needs at the moment. The bulk of my memories in this house are of my child and I putting up thr Christmas tree, baking cookies, playing soccer in the yard, snuggling and reading book at bedtime. Klootzak hides in his office. He comes out to eat meals with us and stress us out. It’s a blessing to eat without him. He can go sit in front of his computer someplace else.

  • I got him kicked out on a Sunday, locks changed on Monday and new security system on Friday. I don’t play. It was the last house my dad built and the only home the kids knew. My salary paid the mortgage and it was my house.

    I slowly have redecorated it and it does not resemble the house he lived in at all. All the walls are painted a different color and the floors have been replaced. The only furniture left from the marriage was the bedroom suite (including the bed) but the mattress and sheets were the first things discarded.

    The house is mine and mine only and my determination made it mine.

    • Same here, Gonegirl, it was mine and mine only. She told me a few times in the months before D-Day that it would be best for the kids to put the house in both our names. Gahd, I am glad I ignored that shit! That’s the consequence of blowing the local volunteer firefighter(s)!

  • Dang, Chump Lady, you and some of the other citizens of Chump Nation just have to make references to SAGE BURNING!!

    _Of course_ you can burn the sage, literally or metaphorically, and then write all you want to about it, it’s just that it’s slightly triggering for me, so I need to vent a little. It’s a reclamation story of sorts, too. As I’ve written about before, Snakeface follows a Lakota spiritual path. (Damn, am I tired of the phrase “spiritual path”.) He used to smudge our house with sage on certain occasions, like when he was tying prayer ties before he went to the reservation two states away from us for yet another year of his _hanbleceya_, or “vision quest”, so I had to live with it, knowing he was choosing to share the deepest part of his life with someone other than me. Worse, he was using his spirituality as a cover for his infidelity, which was just gross.

    I respect Native Americans and their spiritual practices, though there was a difficult period when anything associated with Native American communities and their cultures felt uncomfortably connected to Snakeface, Tuberculosis, their affair, and the sweating community that supported their relationship. I was really ashamed of my negative feelings, and it took some work to believe emotionally what I absolutely knew intellectually – that Native American culture and spirituality were actually neutral, it was Snakeface who was crapping all over it.

    Snakeface also loaned MY copy of “Walking the Rez Road”, a collection of short stories by the late, great Ojibwe writer Jim Northrop, to someone in his darling sweating community years ago. Probably Tuberculosis. I’ll never get that back, so I’ll have to replace it myself. Fortunately I live about 15 minutes away from Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark Books in Minneapolis so that could be a fun shopping trip after Christmas.

    In the meantime, I’ll be chasing the metaphorical sage smell with my swinging censer, burning rose incense, because my sacred smells of choice come from the liturgical practices of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

  • I kept the house not because I loved the house so much as the housing market and rent is higher than my mortgage. I also have two geriatric dogs one is blind and unrooting them would be unfair. I figured I would keep it and sell if it becomes too much. I did start by saging the entire house lol, I have been trying to purge and get rid of as much stuff as possible. He left a mess. My house has some repairs that needed to be done. So I have done a couple of those as I could afford until I get money with the refi. I have removed furniture and painted walls, bought new sheets and towels. I bought new dishes and just cleaned. He’s been out of the house for a year and I am still cleaning and reclaiming. I think with the refi I will be able to say its mine.

  • It was my house before I met him so it was easy to reclaim. I paid him out as he had bought into the house. Most of the furniture etc were mine anyway. I packed up his few things for him to collect.
    I have a Tibetan prayer bell that is great for clearing spaces.
    He took away so much( emotionally) he was not taking my house I worked so hard for.

  • Sage or Palo Santo or a home blessing from your minister might be help; it’s really about the ritual of acknowledging the space as yours.

    Knowing that you did all the housework, I say it’s yours anyway. I felt the same about mine, he wasn’t invested enough to help out. I also bought the house myself.

    Finally, I kept “his” chair (that I bought) and later had sex in it with my new partner, which removed any residual trace of my ex.

  • I was in a position to sell the house and keep only what didn’t trigger me. I moved into a new place 100 miles away.

    Oddly enough, x wanted our marital mattress (the one he slept on with the OW, too). [He didn’t think to change the sheets. This still appalls me. I know it’s a minor detail, but damn!]

    I would think that even a cheater might not want certain reminders and that they might be negatively triggered by some places and things. Then again, they’re wired differently. Maybe the mattress actually evokes great memories for him. “Ah, those cake days were glorious!”

    Or, more likely, he attaches no meaning to it at all. He knows that it was an expensive, good quality mattress and wants to keep it for that reason. Simple. No emotion. Sometimes a mattress is just a mattress.

    Yesterday, I walked in–and then quickly out of–a wine store in our old neck of the woods. He was the type to go into the back room to buy the really expensive wines. I was flooded by memories and had to leave. Trauma persists in certain places. You can get rid of “stuff,” but you can’t get rid of memories.

    That said, I want newbies to know that it gets SO much better. D-day for me was roughly 3 years ago. I was a crying heap back then and am now so much happier. I mean, I almost want to thank the OW and FW for giving me the 2 x 4 I needed to extricate myself from my mirage*. Almost.

    *thanks, VH

    • My list of things I resent about FW is long.

      I think one of the things that pisses me off the most is that he probably doesn’t have triggers. He’s not traumatized by the sight of a car like mine or that restaurant or park or hotel or song or the entire frickin’ state of Alaska.

    • “He didn’t think to change the sheets. This still appalls me. I know it’s a minor detail, but damn!”

      That is not minor at all. It’s disgusting. Moreover, I doubt very much it doesn’t occur to them to change the sheets after a fuckfest. I think they don’t change them because it’s the kind of passive-aggressive, shitty thing they like to do, letting the chump sleep on the AP’s filth.

  • Early on, with all the trauma of DDay, I obsessed with getting rid of our mattress. It made me sick to even think of FW on it — even though he likely never had AP on it. But just the thought of HIM, made me ill.

    But in the middle of the divorce, I had no money. So I kept the mattress and (post divorce) got fresh linens and a fun boyfriend. Now I just need a new mattress because it’s time to get a new one.

    During the divorce I was so desperate for money, I found someone to sell my gold jewelry to. There was one necklace I got from FW that I no longer wanted because he gave it to me — even though it was beautiful. As I went to sell it, the buyer said “The necklace didn’t do anything. Hate the asshole, not the jewelry. Wear it if you love it.” Wise words. I kept it. And now it’s MINE — I felt like I reclaimed it when I didn’t sell it.

    I was forced to sell our house, so I found a rental and brought my 10 year old son so that he could be part of the decision. We both reclaimed a home together. I gave him the whole basement for his Lego builds and we picked things together to really make the rental house our own. I let him decorate his room any way he liked. And I hung art that made me happy.

    For a while I was so scared of running into FW and AP. I didn’t even want to go to my favorite restaurants. Then I realized that I had nothing to fear. If they showed up, why would I care? It would be worse for THEM. And I wanted those restaurants back! So I started showing up again everywhere I loved and made them my own again. Truth was, I found them all originally and was friends with everyone at those places. FW did go apparently (never ran into him), but my friends at the restaurants would tell me how much they hated him —so I imagine it became so awkward for him, he stopped going lol

    My boyfriend (a fellow Chump) hated Valentine’s Day when I met him because his Cheater ex’s birthday was Valentine’s Day. I told him that we needed to reclaim it. Her birthday has nothing to do with either of us so let’s make the day more special for us. And we did.

    I’ve learned that once you get out of the trauma and fear, take back EVERYTHING. Too many memories? Make new ones and reclaim it as your own. I love today’s post

    • It’s a good feeling when you realize that your presence in their lives makes them feel worse than their presence in yours. As long as you remain confident, take the high road, etc., and don’t collapse into a puddle of tears until you get home, it can be a lot of fun to retrace steps and remake friends.

  • It’s sort of the same issue of going back to maiden names for women: to go back to my maiden name would have meant, no exaggeration, about two months of trudging through driver’s licence, passport, even visas. My married name is my professional name. And I am a much better professional than Sparkledick. My sons have both our names. I’ll be damned if I will waste time and money on this, so I founded a new dynasty. And I was also inspired by Tina Turner.

    Burn some sage Venus.

    • Clearwaters, completely agree on the name changing. It shouldn’t be so difficult — but because it’s mainly women that do it, no one has bothered to streamline the ridiculous process. I’m keeping FW’s last name for now — easier for me and I want to match my son. Maybe later (after my son is older and no longer in school) I’ll change it back. But once I change it back to my maiden name , I’ll never change it again.

    • Same. I kept my married name. It matches my son’s last name, my job knows me by this name, and the process of changing it would be horrific – not only the normal things you mention, but I work for the government and have clearances, etc. NOT worth it.

      Beside, FW wanted me to go back to my maiden name (which I’ve never really liked) because I didn’t “deserve” his name. So it makes me just a little happy that I pissed him off. At the time I made the decision, he and schmoopie were still a thing and I found some satisfaction in the idea that she would always be the second Mrs. FW. They broke up, and he died over a year ago, but still.

  • Cleaning. Started in what was supposed to be our room, and cleaned. He had moved into the spare bedroom. { I could not sleep next to him} And I rearranged some things. Set up the room for me. Once he was out, I majorly cleaned. But something kept poking at me. Than I started boxing up his shit. What a difference to my head space. Right now there is a pile of boxes in the spare room. And I am still adding to it. One day at a time.

    • Justme, the ex did various raids on my house when he knew I was away. He still left stuff behind, including hundreds of books which he decided he didn’t want. These books had cost us a fortune in boxes and hours to shift when we moved house. He refused to loan his books to anyone, including me, in case they got ‘damaged’. We were together for 26 years. Suddenly the books didn’t fit with his new lifestyle and I was required to deal with them. And I did. Every last item belonging to him was boxed, at his expense from his settlement, by removals and delivered to his tiny luxury flat in Harrow near the public school. He was a hoarder so this was a lot of stuff. The delivery included twenty or so cardboard book boxes plus a book case. He was expecting a couple of boxes of items he had specifically listed. Instead he got every single tiny item, including the rubbish that his parents had dumped on him/us over the years. Freebies from cereal companies, that kind of tat. The removal men knew what he had done. Their contract was with me. They were therefore less than careful with his stuff, and less than pleasant and helpful when they delivered it to him. There was nothing he could do about that. I wish I could have seen his face on that Friday in November 2020 when they turned up with a huge lorry full of boxes. It was my only act of revenge and it felt amazing. You will feel so free of the baggage and the weight when you are done with his things.

      • You are entirely correct. With each box, a little bit of me settles. I know this will take time. { and the continued contact is his way of sad sausaging , and hovering.} Not gonna lie, gray rock is hard. There is a part of me that just wants to scream at him. Another , calmer part says do not give comfort or ammo to the enemy. So, like AA , and NA say one day at a time. Here’s to trusting they suck!

      • Ex had some specifics he wanted, some I agreed to, some I did not. When moving truck came I had movers take all his junk he never requested, old slides, car mats, old surfboard, old wet suites, a picture signed by Mother Teresa- loved her, he just had it signed to become “valuable”, (would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall for that), his grandmother’s vase – his 31 yo AP would love, haha. Then he was in a 720 sqft apt, now 690sqft. 🤣

  • First steps: I changed the locks. I burned sage, and placed little dishes of salt and garlic in the NE and SW corners. Someone told me to shift the furniture a bit; it changes the energy. I did that. I took a knife and hammer to the mattress and tore it to shreds and bought a new mattress. I moved my bed into the corner (no longer needing a side table for him), surrounded the corner with pillows and lay diagonally at night, dog on one side, cat on the other. That worked bigtime, for all of us.

    I moved the couch he was last seen texting her on from the living room to what was supposed to be the garage in order to trash it, but couldn’t get it through the back door. It just happened to fit in that awkward space in the kitchen that nothing had ever fit in before, and it looked different without the image of him sitting there drinking and sexting. I bought a new slipcover (just a cheap one), brought a duvet and pillow from upstairs, and I sleep there on hot summer nights with the moon streaming in the window.

    I got all excited when the hydro and gas bills came … much lower than before.

    When I found out it was “her”, all of a sudden it’s as if she had walked into my house. I had to unpack my relationship with him, now knowing she had been in it all along as someone we both knew. Her energy was in my house for 6 years while I researched the truth (thanks Chump Lady!). She still lingered. Then I remembered something from hallucinating once when a doctor gave me an opioid (never again).

    With eyes closed, delirious, I repeatedly saw a figure at my bed handing me brown liquid, telling me to drink it. I’d open my eyes, and the figure had gone. I figured it out. The trick is for YOU to tell them to go away, not to wait until they choose to disappear. With eyes closed, you say, “You’re not real” and THEN open your eyes. You’re in control. Her energy is no longer invited into my space.

    The two of them weren’t real … at least not in my world. They live in their own made-up world. But my home is real. Even though we had lived here without him “present” in my life, with the lying, cheating, and gaslighting, even though it all meant nothing to him except his joy at seeing me confused and crying, I, myself, HAD been “present” through it all, I was keeping my half of the bargain. It was still my home, it was still my pets’ home, and it always had been. I deserve to be here.

    • I love this. I too reclaimed my space. I think the fact that he never really gave. Shit about our marriage and our home also made it easier. Like you, my fuckwit would lie in a couch and be in his iPad doing god knows what. I got rid of the couch then burned candles to clear that space. Worked like a charm along with the other rituals I described below

    • This is inspiring me, Champ, as life has been tricky recently and I have been feeling a little down. I have finally ordered some sage! Been thinking about it for months. Thank you.

      • The thing about sage is that it centers my intention, which is the primary mover.
        Saged my family house and property before leaving. Reclaimed my spirit.

      • Thanks. It dawns on me that I didn’t do a complete smudge … things like opening windows and cupboards, covering mirrors, choosing the vessel, opening the door to shoot the smoke/bad energy out, and burying the ashes outside … I’m going to do it again.

  • I’m a scortched earth person. I’m moving to another state in 2 weeks. I’ve been planning this for quite some time. When I get depressed or in a loop-of-miserable-thoughts I remind myself that I put my life in front of me and am leaving everything else behind. Moving is very stressful made more stressful by the cable company that messed up my entire bill and services while I was following their “easy to move services” instructions. 🙂 The apartment where I live only has one cable company to use and the one I’m moving to only has one cable company to use – it is the same company. Go figure… but the piece of shit ex wife will be eliminated like a kidney stone.

  • I’m hearing you… and that’s why I deliberately keep our house looking like a pigsty. There is very little chance of the OW being invited here when it looks this way.
    I know FW has been to her house several times, as her address accidently airdropped onto my iPad when FW was trying to move it onto his phone a couple of years ago (I quickly captured it).
    I also know that my (first) exFW had his OW at our house – and she had the nerve to tell me how she would renovate it, when exFW invited her family over one day.
    I seriously don’t know where I’d be without you either CL, and I look forward to reading every story. They are very relevant, helpful and bring me peace of mind (knowing that it isn’t only me going through this shitfest).

    • If only. Apparently OW had no issues with being in a pigsty, judging by the state of my marital home once I saw it again (after a year of FW living in it without me). It seriously looked like squatters lived there. Their rental house wasn’t much better, when I went to clean his things out after he died (she had left him by then). OW didn’t have a problem with our wedding photo being on display, my wedding dress and other clothes in my closet, my trinkets around, etc. No conscience whatsoever.

  • I stayed. He left all his stuff so I boxed it, labeled it and put it in the garage. Then one day a pipe burst over the boxes in the garage and ruined all his things (god? karma?). All his stuff went to the tip. Then, I had an indigenous healer bless my home. Then I had an Anglican priest (friend of mine) bless the home. I burned candles and got rid of all reminders. And you know what? Anyone who came into my home after that commented on how light and wonderful it felt. The bad vibes were permanently exorcised. I’m still here, but plan to downsize soon. I just needed the ghost of him gone while I went through the process. Looking forward to finding a new, small place!

  • I am the one moving out. Hopefully close to finalizing the financial part of the divorce, though she is being a true _____ about custody of our two children. Will most likely end up in court as she is refusing to agree to 50/50 time. Until that’s settled I am in the house. She is buying me out, god knows how, who cares. I don’t want any piece of this crap. Not one paper towel. Scorched earth, start again from scratch. I don’t want any of this toxic energy in a new home. She always wanted the house more than our marriage. Once years ago I was doing yard work. She came out and said “isn’t this a great house?” I replied “ I can’t see past all of the crap” Literally and figuratively. Her shit covers every surface, physically and psychically. I daydream about my clean, clutter free, peaceful home, full of love. Meh it be soon. Maybe I’ll take the coffee pot.

  • The bed in the master bedroom had to go straight away. It is now 5 years, and I have slowly replaced all the furniture in the living room and common areas, only the kids’ bedrooms are as they used to be. I even replaced the light pendants ; all the bathroom towels, floor mats . In the kitchen all the glass tumbler, cutlery and pots and pans. Not all straight away, but slowly over the years.
    A friend of mine burned the sage. It was important to her, I must admit, I didn’t even know about it.
    But she made me feel better – not sure if it was the sage or the fact that she cared 🙂

  • I stayed. Safety first, I changed the locks first, installed a new front door with a camera doorbell and got locks that could be padlocked installed on the fence gates. Next was my destruction phase, hired a skip, ripped all carpeting and unwanted built-ins out, had a huge sale and sold everything, donated things like plate sets, tall boys, rugs, bed frames, clothes. After the house was empty (even lamp shades went), I paid a company to deep clean the house (worth the cost!!!) then I painted all walls white. I smudged the house, burned white candles and did every other banishing evil ritual I read online. I purchased one of those memory foam bed-in-a-box, new linens and a ikea lamp and that was my set up for half a year while I worked on the next stage which was rebuilding. Loved creating Pinterest dream interior design boards and used that to make the house my home. I turned the spare room into the main as he did use our bedroom as his fk pad while I was at work and it’s the junk room now.

  • I washed every dish on the hottest cycle, washed all linens, threw out anything with his handwriting, got rid of any furniture where he might have sat, stored anything that triggered a memory, and saged the house. I practice daily meditation as a way to diffuse his negative energy and evil spirit. Burning candles also makes me feel “clean” again, and I’m not living in the place where we lived together…ugh, even saying “lived together” makes me gag.

  • I did the deepest deep clean you can imagine throughout the entire house, obviously eliminated everything of his, rearranged furniture, donated anything that was too triggering, bought a few new things, got like 6 new plants in beautiful pots to purify the air, painted several walls, turned the master bedroom into a total woman’s sanctuary for myself, and put out family heirlooms that mattered to me. I also decorated with a bunch of my child’s artwork, which the ex didn’t like cause he thought it made the house too “child centric,” lol. Anyway, all that was enough to make things feel fresh and ready for a new start. And now I’m glad I stayed. It is my kids childhood home and a great space.

  • I reclaimed my passion for travel.

    I’ve had two FWs (a husband and a “partner”), 13 years each, and both tried as hard as they could to ruin my joy of seeing the world. It didn’t matter where we went or how lovely the accommodations, they each found a way to shit on it and make me feel so disappointed that once again, I listened to their promises to “be better next time” when I would threaten to go on the next trip without him. It was NEVER better next time. It was ALWAYS worse. I didn’t know anything about disordered people then, so I was always confused and hurt – WHY did they want to travel with me if they hated to travel with me???

    (Spoiler alert: they wanted to travel with me because ruining an experience that I had been planning and looking forward to for months is how they got their rocks off. That, and ogling other women right in front of me then accusing me of being “too sensitive”. #motherfuckers)

    The later FW “partner” refused to help me plan any details, never had his half of the money on time, yet would bitch relentlessly about anything he could find to complain about.

    When I say “anything” I mean ANYTHING: “How dare the dining table (on a beautiful cruise ship) not have salt AND pepper?? I thought you said this was a first-class ship?!?!” (Note: he never, ever used pepper because he had a weak stomach 🙄.)

    I am writing this post from a cruise ship, in the middle of the Caribbean. I booked a room with a balcony and paid extra to travel alone. This is the fifth solo travel adventure I’ve had since the last (of many) Dday in January, 2021.

    I LOVE that I can go anywhere without dragging an asshole man-baby behind me. I LOVE that I can express joy and delight at my surroundings without “embarrassing” him. I LOVE that being in my own company has become “enough”.

    I am enough.

    • Oh Lordy! Travels with whining man-baby, yes, I can so relate! Nothing was ever, ever, right. Absolutely. Nothing. Any trip, or outing we ever went on was ruined by him sulking. Everything was always my fault of course! It took me some time after the divorce (I filed) to realize that the whole point of the whine-a-thon was to make me feel bad. And that making me feel bad was by now the only thing that propped his pathetic little ego up (I had the well-paying job which financed the trips). Travel with my longtime now-husband has been wonderful shared experiences. But I would happily have gone solo if that’s how it’d worked out. Continue to enjoy!

      • You, too?? For the longest time, I thought I was the only person in the world to have a “partner” who was jealous of the attention I gave to sunrises and sunsets. I’m so sorry there are two of us (and probably millions more).

        After a while, I stopped feeling bad and more like the mother of a five-year-old, when I threatened to leave his ass alone in the airport if he didn’t shut the fuck up – he couldn’t figure out how to negotiate the airport and would just follow wherever I went.

        Once, while he was in the bathroom (probably texting a Schmoopie) a gate change was announced. I took my bag and walked to the new gate, leaving his bag there. He showed up at the new gate mere moments before boarding ended, in actual tears, crying, “You LEFT me! I can’t believe you LEFT me!!!!” I should have ended the relation-shit right then but it took me a few more years to gain clarity about who he was…☹️)

        A few gems for context:

        1. It’s just the sun. It comes up and goes down every day. What’s the big deal???
        2. Why did you order a bison burger and not eat the bread? Why don’t you EAT THE BREAD?!?! (because it’s BISON, you asshole. It’s not something I eat everyday and I want to taste it “unfiltered” and why the fuck do you care when you only ever order the chicken?!?!)
        3. Why don’t they have transportation to pick us up from the airport? I thought this was a first-class tour?
        4. Why does the transportation from the airport cost so much? You’re so “bougie” and everything you do has to be so “first-class”…
        5. What kind of restaurant doesn’t serve ginger-ale??!!
        6. The waitress brought my ginger-ale too early and now it’s gonna be watery by the time the meal comes…”

        Post Dday, I have had vivid daydreams of abandoning him in a foreign country, or tossing his passport or his phone overboard some ship, (where once, he racked up more than $2K texting his side-chicks which was MY fault because I didn’t tell him about the existence of roaming charges and I clearly don’t know how to plan a trip or else I would have KNOWN that he didn’t know and planned accordingly…🙄)

        Fuck that guy. I’m gonna get a massage!!!😎

    • My ex was a whiny man-baby on our HONEYMOON, because I wanted to walk around Edinburgh and look at stuff. I was in SCOTLAND, one of my favorite places on earth, but he wanted all of my attention on him every minute.

      This past September, I went to England by myself and it was wonderful. A lot of people act surprised that I like to travel alone, but it is the best.

  • I loved my house. I chose it. I decorated it. I had a garden.

    FW kicked me out (threatened me if I didn’t leave, so I left for my own safety) and he lived there while I stayed with my mom. He asked me if I wanted the house in the divorce and I said yes, but later he changed his mind and said I’d only get it “over his dead body”. Eventually, I emotionally detatched (FW having OW all but live there during the pandemic had a lot to do with it, as I felt like it was contaminated and tainted), and told my attorney I wasn’t going to fight for it anymore. Not too long after, FW offered it to me. He had basically let it go to hell and didn’t want to invest in repairing it, plus it was too small for schmoopie and her two kids to move in and he wanted to live with her (because he couldn’t afford to live on his own). He said “you can move back in or we can sell it”. I think he was genuinely surprised when I said “let’s sell it”. When I took the realtor over to value it, I was appalled. I hadn’t been inside in a year and it looked like one of the “before” houses on Flip or Flop – filthy, full of trash, no hot water, broken everything, unkept yard. It took me 50 hours of work and thousands of dollars just to get it clean and decent enough to sell. FW died a few months later, so I got all the money from the sale (not a lot, but enough to put a sizable dent in my legal bill).

    But selling that house was like a burden off my shoulders. It was time to let all that go. My apartment costs half again what my mortgage was, and is much smaller, with no garden just a little balcony. But it is MINE. FW has never been inside. It is just the way that I want it. I got rid of most of “our” stuff, only keeping a few beloved pieces (that were my selections in the first place).

    I’m planning to buy my own place soon.

  • I reclaimed fire and light, and the ritual associated with them. I grew up with a fireplace, with the ritual of laying and lighting a fire, and then enjoying it in the company of others while listening to music, in winter, especially. “Hearth and home” is not just a saying to me.

    The ex and I didn’t have a fireplace in the house in which we lived the last 28 years of our marriage, but I bought a small “tabletop fireplace” that burns gel fuel, and placed it in the middle of our coffee table in the living room. I also bought a chiminea for the back patio. Pretty much the only times he was ever receptive to using either one were when we had a guest for dinner or during the short period of what I think of as our “reconciliation honeymoon.” (The fire otherwise had to compete with–and lost out to–the inane science fiction shows he liked to watch on tv.)

    When I moved out I moved into an apartment with a fireplace. For the first few weeks I was there, I had a couch, a bed, a small dining table and two chairs. That was it. I bought fireplace logs and burned a fire every night to keep me company. Over time I have regained (reclaimed) bringing light into my home. I hung a strand of icicle lights from the mantel. I bought an LED “light curtain” for the dining room windows. And from mid-October into February every year I light a trio of tea lights in glass holders that look like balls of ice. I mark the passage of day into night by means of the ritual of what I think of as bringing the light inside.

  • I threw out of every picture of him. His mother had given me all of his baby pictures, and I trashed those too. We were together 38 years, so it was like tossing out the history of my life. We started living together when we were 19 and 20. We were married 36 years at D-Day.

    I carefully cut him out of every picture that I was in too, and bought new photo albums and rewrote my life’s history through pictures as if he never existed. I was able to reduce 15 photo albums into 3. Those albums give me joy now as they show my progression. I’ve added several pictures of me and my daughter alone over the past two years. She noticed FW had been removed from the pictures. When she looked at the improved albums, she said “Girl Power, Mommy!” She is 14, with mental disability, but she knows a douche when she sees one.

  • This will sound horrible..but before I moved our bed into the extra bedroom, I did the deed numerous times on it with my next boyfriend. I hadn’t had sex with FW on that bed or any sex with him for years (cause, well, he had all those other women..). Ya, that sounds like teenage girl revenge stuff on my part…but it felt good.
    Oh, then I went scorched earth with everything else he ever touched and eventually sold the place and started over again in another state. Looking at my house now, you’d never know I had been married..

  • I moved my bedroom to the back of the house (I always wanted it to be in that room anyway) and it just feels so much calmer now.

    I re-decorated all the bedrooms and I moved my son into our old bedroom, which gives him so much more space. It doesn’t resemble our old bedroom at all as it’s geared to a teenage boy.

    I removed his ‘office’. I gave all the furniture away on Facebook marketplace. People came to collect and I didn’t really have to lift a finger. His office is now my son’s place to play his drumkit.

    My dad moved in at the beginning of lockdown and has stayed. It helps us both out. He is worried about being on his own and having a fall and he helps me with the kids.

    We go on great vacations now as a family and get to really enjoy them without someone spoiling it all. I have more money as he isn’t squandering it all.

    Life is good.

  • It’s been 7 months and I’m not there yet as the Cheater refuses to move his crap out of the house until the matrimonial settlement is complete ( by that I mean, until he’s squeezed every last cent out of me) claiming that “it’s not a priority for me right now”.

    I’m trying my hardest to resist the urge to cut the ass out of all his pants…..

    But as soon as this is over, you can guarantee I’m hiring a rubbish skip and smudging his toxic energy from every corner of my home!

  • I can’t repair my daughter’s relationship with her dad nor would I try. I put my focus on repairing her. Her anger towards dad is a sign she experienced life-changing, catastrophic heartbreak and betrayal and the shrapnel is still in there. It would be a classic dysfunctional thing to do to tell her to stuff all that down and pave over the damage for the sake of adult emotional comfort. After all, those are exactly the FOO dynamics that made FW into a FW. My kids are the generation where that particular buck is going to stop.

    Just out of surprise that a classic narcissist would shoot themselves in the foot so badly, the way FW timed his adultery was curiously suicidal– just after twenty years of marriage so the (fault) state would automatically award lifetime alimony, in a state that actually taxes adultery and when the kids were old enough to judge the hell out of him and soon old enough to decide whether they ever want to see him again.

    My sons are shruggingly cordial towards their father. It doesn’t seem that different from most teenage boys’ attitudes towards boring dads. The focus is on common interests and stuff he can do for them. But just when I start thinking they don’t even think about what dad did anymore, every once in a while one of them will come out with something scathing like my middle kid did a few weeks ago. Rough recap: (straight faced) “Did dad really think fucking a twenty-six year old would make him younger? Like, how does that work? Is the (cracking up) dick an extractor pump that can suck out vital essence sort of like a wang vampire? (busts a gut).” Then seriously, “Was that the secret to Epstein island? A bunch of geezers vampiring children? Why aren’t they all serving life sentences?”

    There have been a lot of references to “Epstein island,” sex trafficking and the whoring and cheating of public figures since FW’s betrayal and I’m grateful that these things always veer into political themes so I can encourage the development of a sense of justice while avoiding readdressing the specifics of dad’s cheating with the boys beyond the basic facts which they already know. I don’t worry about the boys that much because their attitude towards their father seems similar to that of three adult brothers I know whose father was a tantruming (and now divorced) cheater and the three brothers are absolutely nothing like their dad. They’re also calmly cordial towards their father but can wax frank and philosophical about their father’s faults and show their rejection of those faults through political themes. But I’ve known many other people who hated a parent with burning ire and then later turned out to be exactly like that parent. Case in point is FW and his horrible mother. It seems the more burning the anger, the more the tendency to emulate and internalize the bad parent’s character flaws. It seems almost as bad as kids who grow up captor-bonded and fawning over an abusive parent. Specific to parent-child relationships, the problem seems to be a matter of degree. You can be angry at a parent but when it becomes blinding anger it can make you blind to ways in which you’re developing the same traits. Maybe there were always some similar tendencies– inherited risk of addiction, tendency to escape and fantasize, etc.– and the hatred is a way of externalizing those tendencies onto the object of hatred so that you can no longer keep track of these things in yourself.

    So while I’m glad my daughter isn’t captor bonding with FW, I’d rather my daughter didn’t spend her entire life flamingly resentful towards her father. True to form, just as she started hating dad, she also started periodically telling weird little lies, doing sneaky little compulsive things, etc. She hasn’t liked any of the therapists I tried to hook her up with and, considering what she told me about them, I don’t blame her. My own therapist (veteran head of a department who walks the walks and gets everything right) has warned against some of the pitfalls of pediatric shrinks (like the fact some are drawn to working with children because of the power imbalance) and advised me to keep looking and vetting but not to accept “iffy” candidates that my daughter doesn’t feel comfortable with. In the meantime, I’ve tried to talk to my daughter about the link between degree of rage towards a person and emulation of that person’s traits and, being an aspiring writer who devours books on character study and psychology, she was very interested.

    But the worst thing I could do would be to try to reconcile my daughter to the father who betrayed her trust and preach forgiveness to her. I’ve read enough child psych to know that trying to make kids show affection to adults they have knee-jerk aversions to (“Now go and hug creepy Uncle Pete who sets off your freak radar”) is a really bad move. No way am I training my daughter to ignore her gut. I’m just hoping that some of the heat will go down on her anger and that she’ll become more philosophical about why people do shitty things over time, a little more sustainably “meh.”
    One hopeful recent development is that she’s starting to find her voice, identify the specific things FW does that set her off and the power to set boundaries on her own. She recounted one exchange in which she snapped at FW, calling him an “asshole” because she said he denied having had an impatient, angry tone (typical of him) just a moment before. FW apparently started blubbering and crying at being called an asshole and then she called him on the self pity, pointing out that no one made him do the things he did and if he wanted anyone to believe anything he said, he could stop gaslighting and lying for once. And then she told him that she didn’t like it when he talked to her like a child because she felt like he was trying to groom her into acting like one of his stupid whores.

    Geez. When she told me this, we ended up talking about it all for over an hour. The conversation went beyond “cool, bummer, wow” but I tried to focus on my daughter’s conundrum and keep my own feelings about FW out of it. I had mixed feelings about her reactions to FW. On the one hand, I felt in awe of her ability to identify toxic and manipulative behaviors and to set boundaries like a boss. I explained what “parentizing” is– when parents force their kids into the role of parent so that the kid has to take care of the adult’s emotions and said that, if I ever did such a thing, she could call me on it too. But I gently pointed out that, though the ability to be aggressive when stakes are very high is an important survival tool, I didn’t want her using her dad as a chew toy to sharpen her teeth to the point of becoming habitually aggressive and she might rethink the name calling if just to protect her own character. And since she wants to be a writer, she might try to be more analytical about other people’s character faults because strings of curse words don’t usually go over very well as character analysis. I asked if it bothered her that I occasionally speak to her in baby talk and still call her baby nicknames but she said it felt like sincere affection from me and she didn’t mind. That was a relief. Apparently FW hadn’t managed to taint all displays of affection.

    Anyway, I don’t know what else to do under the circumstances other than keep the communication channels open without veering into “parentizing” my kids by making it about me. I want to help shape their ethics without weaponizing them. I wasn’t raised with Christian concepts of forgiveness but I know from personal experience that it’s possible to achieve philosophical “meh” about those who’ve done us wrong. I want to raise balanced kids with strong radars and strong boundaries who still have the ability to trust when warranted. I want them to deal constructively with anger. I’m not going to stop them from using their father as a study object for character flaws but I don’t want them to end up hypocrites.

    Parenting with a FW is a high wire act on the best day. It would be so much easier if FWs were good role models instead of FWs.

  • I made the TV room into my bedroom. Wallpapered. Got rid of everything I didn’t love. Made new memories. Wishing you all well. The whole reconciliation industry is awful. Listen to Chump Lady! Life on the other side. Even if it takes longer than you want, it is coming.

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