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Divorce Is ‘More Than I Can Deal With’

Dear Chump Lady,

Do you think you can achieve meh while still married to the cheater? I have been with my husband for 41 years. I now believe he has been cheating on me since the very beginning of our relationship. I have had three D-days during our relationship. The first was while I was pregnant with our first child. Right after she was born he left me for a much younger girl who had no children. I was blindsided and naïve and didn’t know why he left. When the OW contacted me we confronted him together. She didn’t know about me. I had still been seeing him the entire time we were divorced. He begged me to come back. I guess I won the pick me dance contest. We remarried and had another child. I then found out he had a girlfriend in another state and I contacted her. He begged me to stay and I did since we had two children together and co-mingled finances and it was just too exhausting to imagine going through another divorce. Also he was very convincing as these guys are and I was a chump.

Fast forward many years to the third D-day when I found an external drive with movies of him having sex with multiple women from Third World countries ( he is an international airline pilot). At that point I became psychotic. I went scorched earth. In addition to all the usual things that chumps do i.e. infidelity diet, Amazon infidelity searches, infidelity sleuthing, pick me dancing, I also unleashed the fury of hell on him. I put his fuck movies on YouTube with his name and company (until YouTube took them down), I contacted all the OW’s using Google translate since they didn’t speak English, I contacted all his co-workers and family and told them, I quit my job of 25 years due to extreme trauma (and so I could spend all my time tracking his international activities) and I destroyed his secret computer and cell phone. I also destroyed his car and tried to shoot him. And I spent his entire bonus on plastic surgery for me. To say I was crazy doesn’t begin to describe it. I even contacted the Dr. Phil Show with my story, but they wanted both of us to go on the show and of course cheater wouldn’t.

During all my insanity he begged me not to leave him and professed his undying love for me. I was busy going to bars and chatting with any guy who hit on me (quite a feat since I’m nearly 60). I did file for divorce but he showed up in the middle of the night with tickets to Vegas and an Elvis wedding to renew our vows. I did it, but I was still furious.

After about a year and a half of this very uncharacteristic behavior (I’m a chump so I’m usually uber responsible) on my part, I just woke up one day and didn’t give a shit about what he did anymore. All the rage and sadness and insanity were gone. And I just don’t give a shit.

I got a new and better job and just went back to having my own life. We both travel extensively for work so I rarely see him. I’m actually surprisingly content with things the way they are right now. He makes a lot of money, we own a lot of property together in several states, and I just don’t want to deal with getting a divorce at this stage in my life. Starting over financially and dealing with splitting everything up (selling and moving and retirement) is just more than I can deal with.

I wish I had found your blog during my scorched earth phase because he is the epitome of all the cheaters we chumps are involved with. I just didn’t understand that people could be unredeemable, but I see now that there is a huge tribe of them out there! And they’re difficult and even scary to get away from.

I would love your opinion and the opinion of Chump Nation. The only fear I have now is of my own capacity for insanity.

Thank you all! I read everything here every day. I love this blog and the site and I’m proud to be a chump.

Pilotswife

****

Dear Pilotswife,

Let me get this straight — divorce and dividing assets is more than you can deal with. But going insane, broadcasting your husband’s serial cheating, quitting your job, getting plastic surgery, picking up strange men in bars, calling Dr. Phil, and attempting to shoot your husband — THAT you can deal with?

I’m really not sure what the point of your letter is. To announce you’re one of us in chump solidarity? Look, I’m glad you love the site, but the perspective here is really clear — leave a cheater, gain a life.

I encourage people here to leave and start new lives. Not numb themselves into oblivion, stay with the cheater,  and call it “meh.”

You can’t “deal with divorce” because why? You’re nearly 60? You “own a lot of property in several states”? Because you travel for work?

Chumps here leave cheaters every day under far more challenging circumstances. People older than you, younger than you, pregnant, pregnant with toddlers at home, men who lose half the time with their children and half their shit, people who caught STDs off their cheaters, women who gave up their lives to move around for their husband’s military careers, people who were jobless… THOSE PEOPLE LEFT.

If they can do it, you can too. So what’s stopping you? Fabulous Elvis weddings in Vegas?

Do you think because you gave leave of your senses for a year that you scared your husband straight? Oh, he’ll never do it again because you rained hell on him? You said he’s “unredeemable.” You know he’s a serial cheater. You’ve known this and you live with it. Why? Because he “picks” you?

It seems that you’ve come to a crossroads. Your husband is a serial cheater. That reality won’t change as you’ve discovered. So, either you can change — or you can numb yourself to that reality.

You chose numbness.

I just woke up one day and didn’t give a shit about what he did anymore. All the rage and sadness and insanity were gone. And I just don’t give a shit.

Oh, I think the insanity is still there. Did you go off the rails? Yes. But I’d say that was lucidity compared to the way you’re living now. At least the rage-filled you was fighting against something — betrayal, the injustice, the humiliation, the health risks of Mr. Pilot fucking the United Nations. The person who wrote me this letter, however, has just given up. She was bought for the price of an apology and a cheap Vegas wedding.

Hey, but it doesn’t matter because you don’t care. The separate married life with all its trappings and public coupledom and none of the difficulties of divorce — this works for you. These are your values. You are your choices.

Pilotswife, I champion self-respect here. I write for people who are breaking up with toxic people, not co-existing with them for the real estate. There are a few people who read on this site who attempt reconciliation and God bless them, I hope they have something to work with (and a post-nup). But you’ve got absolutely NOTHING to work with. The guy is telling you very clearly who he is — a man who has cheated on you from the start and shows no sign of stopping. You’re either okay with that, or you’re not.

You’ve told us you don’t care. And you want CN’s opinion? This is not a place that’s going to encourage you to stay. We’ll try and push you off that fence. Are you sure that’s what you want?

I would ask you to get real with yourself. About what your values are and how you wish to spend your remaining years. Can you imagine nursing a narcissist you don’t give one shit about? Can you imagine him doing anything for you when you’re old and sick? If you fear being alone, I think you’re already worse than alone. You live with someone you dare not care for, who you cannot risk intimacy or vulnerability with. Someone to whom you must perpetually guard your heart.

Forty-one years is a long time to have lived like this. Please get some individual therapy. Figure out why you’ve accepted this crap for all these years, and why you place such a high premium on being the “pilot’s wife” and so little value on yourself. You’re an independent woman with assets and a job. You can stand just fine on your own, if you want to.

The only fear I have now is of my own capacity for insanity.

Or self-delusion.

****

Rerun today because I’m a guest on the OurVoices podcast this morning (by OurPath, formerly known as the Straight Spouse Network.) I’ll post a link when I get it.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This woman doesn’t want to leave her husband. His mistreatment is all she knows, she’s accustomed to it and can’t imagine her life without it. So sad. Doesn’t want to leave a cheater or gain a life. I hope she isn’t still sleeping with him (let’s be real– she probably is, whenever he asks). All that sex with “women in Third World countries” (aka hookers) has undoubtedly exposed him to STDs. I don’t really buy that she’s “meh” either, or she wouldn’t even bother with websites like this, let alone writing letters to Chump Lady.

    • You can’t heal in the environment that made you sick. You can’t reach “meh” when you’re still with the cheater. That’s not meh, that’s marriage purgatory.

    • She’ll be “meh” right up until the next D-day, or whatever other antics he’ll engage in to start the cycle going again. She’s addicted to the pick-me dance and she literally has no identity outside of being his partner in the Dysfunction Mambo.

  • Pilot’s Wife,

    You deserve better than this; you just need to wake up to that fact.

    I’d also add that, as things stand, your husband will be legally entitled to make decisions about your end of life care should the unthinkable happen to you; please ask yourself whether – in doing so – he will put your welfare, your needs and your interests first ….. or his?

    I suspect that you know the answer to this, and I hope the answer helps you discover your drive.

    LFTT

    • Great point LFTT – and it’s not just end-of-life care. What’s to prevent OP’s husband from silently retiring, draining the joint financial accounts, and jetting off to retire overseas? He might not be able to unilaterally liquidate ALL the assets, but FWs certainly can do a lot of financial damage, as many chumps here can attest.

      Never forget: If FWs can devalue us enough to abuse us emotionally, they can do so financially and in other ways as well.

      • LC,

        You are absolutely right ….. and unfortunately I have personal experience of exactly this.

        When she moved out, Ex-Mrs LFTT emptied the joint account (from where the mortgage, kids school fees and supporting our eldest daughter at Uni were paid from) and emptied our youngest two kids’ savings accounts (which she was the trustee for) while she was at it. I had to borrow a lot of money to make sure that I could cover off our liabilities, while she lived it up on her ill gotten gains. While I made sure that she paid back the kids’ savings, I had to write off the rest as unrecoverable; it took me a long while to get out of the “red.”

        LFTT

      • Yes, watch out for those liquid joint assets. He’ll probably drain them, or at least some of them. Ask me how I know. You’re also exposing your share of the assets to liability if he does anything negligent and gets sued. I took out a large umbrella insurance policy while going through separation and divorce because I was scared of FW hitting someone with his car.

    • Gosh, yes. That’s one of the things I thought about when I was divorcing. I knew that I could not trust the cheater to put me first in any end-of-life decision.

    • That’s absolutely horrific to think about – thank *God* I’m divorced.

      When I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, I told fuckwit how frightened I was. His response was “how do you think *I* feel!”

      If I’d stayed with him, and I got something terminal, was dying, I’m damn sure *his* feelings would have been more important than mine; if it had suited him to pull the plug he would have. No doubt telling himself it was for the best.😱🤮

      • My ex was a physician. He often had to call patients to give them the news that they had breast cancer. He said once how hard this was on him. My response was, the people who are gonna be impacted by this diagnosis are the patient and their loved ones, not you. Like he was the victim in that scenario.

    • Yes, the problem with staying with a cheater like this is that one day he will stop begging you to stay. He will stop professing his undying love. He will just leave with the OW from Spain or wherever. Then the divorce that PilotsWife didn’t want to deal with will be forced on her. Just like every other time, she will have no vote in her own well-being.
      And, no, people like this do not care for and nurture others when they’re sick.

  • I think she needs professional help.

    Yes a lying pos is a horrible experience. But, I do believe there is a line between sanity and normal reactions. Betty Broderick was horribly mistreated, and she went insane. Betty needed help before it got to that.

    Like this woman Betty got screwed over in finances, but she was still way better off than most discarded women are.

  • Even having read this before, it still makes me angry. Pilot’s Wife has been through divorce already with FW. And she remarried him. And kept coming back. And now wants validation to just stay with FW?

    I think it would help Pilot’s Wife to ask herself if she really wants her life to continue this way. What happens if she’s hospitalized? Will he be there for her? Have all of her friends and family given up on her after scorched earth then staying with a cheating abuser? What about her adult children — where are they on all of this? Are her finances really intact? Is she safe?

    Please look inside deeply, Pilot’s Wife. If you haven’t already, get the therapy CL recommends and get a clean divorce and move on so you can be healthy, safe and free of abuse.

    • “Pilot’s Wife has been through divorce already with FW. And she remarried him. And kept coming back. And now wants validation to just stay with FW?”

      Yes. Makes me angry too.

      I wonder though if it wasn’t really validation she was after, but was hoping Chump Lady would give her a good boot up the arse in order to break her inertia. She certainly got that,
      I wonder if it did the trick. Hope so.

    • It looks like she was also the Other Woman, because she kept seeing him after they were divorced, even though he was seeing someone else and then married them.

      Perhaps she didn’t know, or perhaps she didn’t care.

      Either way, the idea behind divorce is that you get away from them.

  • Divorce is more than anyone can deal with. It takes a while but eventually you find the courage. You’re obviously not fine with this situation or you wouldn’t have written.

    • Yikes.

      This reminds me of a house I saw while driving to my friend’s house in Clear Lake. It looked like there had been a fire, an explosion. Charred two by fours where walls and a roof should be, only a tiny fraction of the original structure intact. Debris of all sorts scattered about the property. Junked cars. As I drove by wondering what on earth had happened there, I was shocked to realize that people were living in it. When I got to my friend’s house, which was a short distance down the road, I learned that there had been a fire AND an explosion. The residents were meth addicts and had blown up the house manufacturing meth. And still “living” there . I am sorry to say I saw toys among the debris in the yard.

      I have the same feeling reading this letter that I did driving by that house of insanity.

      I hear yelling in my head. Three words.

      “Therapy! Lots! Divorce!”

      Maybe also “quit drinking and go to AA!”

      And wondering what the effect all this has had on the involved children makes me feel very sad and scared.

      This letter makes me feel sad and scared.

      ☹️

  • If my X had not ghosted me, I believe I would have tried to kill him. I am better now.

    This demonstrates two terrible, traumatic truths:

    1) Living with a cheater is a *5 alarm medical emergency* and
    2) Living with a cheater can ruin your live in a nano second.

    What if you (us) had a murder charge to contend with as well?

    We can all play it cool while reading this post and eating breakfast, but remember those first moments of discovery that the person you love….does not love you at all. Mouth goes dry. Heart in your ears, pounding. Immediate diarrhea. Panic. Frantic research. Other people sound like they are shouting at you while you are in a drum. Miserable need for the cheater to care. They don’t. Calling someone 50, 60, 70 times in one hour. Repeat. Research reveals fresh steaming betrayals.

    It is insanity. We don’t know if in that moment, we might pick up a gun, a knife, a brick if the Cheater does one more act of cruelty.

    When people hurt you, run for your life. It is not dramatic. It is life saving advice.

    • “…remember those first moments of discovery that the person you love….does not love you at all. Mouth goes dry. Heart in your ears, pounding. Immediate diarrhea. Panic. Frantic research. Other people sound like they are shouting at you while you are in a drum. Miserable need for the cheater to care. They don’t. Calling someone 50, 60, 70 times in one hour. Repeat. Research reveals fresh steaming betrayals.”

      Sandstone, that’s a brilliant description of *exactly* how I felt when I read fucktard’s boastful texts about fucking the rat faced whore in his fishing van, whilst I was at home cooking his favourite meal, waiting for him to return from his ‘fishing’ trip.

      If I’d had access to a gun, would I have marched into the bedroom where he lay snoring on the bed he fucked the rat faced whore on, and fired six rounds into his withered genitals ? I really don’t know, thank God I didn’t have a gun. And a knife/brick would have been way too messy. Ugh.

      I like to think my internal breaks wouldn’t have allowed me to do it, but I’m not entirely sure.

      But let’s thank God neither of us did it, and aren’t in jail right now. Hugs.xxx

      • I didn’t want to shoot the hooker screwing, alcoholic, porn addicted FW. After dry heaving in the bathroom (son heard everything and came in to help me), I limped back into the bedroom and FW was holding a gun. Told me to just shoot him and get it over with. WTF! I told him he’s not getting out of this that easy. A baseball bat might have made me feel better (destroyed a tv-very therapeutic).
        I internalized everything after that, dry heaving, panic attacks, etc.

      • Yes!!!

        My hatred of him and his “rat faced whores” 🔥 has not died. I am just so grateful that I did not ruin my life further. I escaped with one STD (yep) and I lost about 3 years to trauma sickness.

        I am sorry that happened to you. Let’s make a promise to treat ourselves, for the rest of our lives, as well as we treated these cheaters. Make yourself a favorite meal. Anytime you feel like it.

        • “Let’s make a promise to treat ourselves, for the rest of our lives, as well as we treated these cheaters.”

          Words of wisdom. The world would be a much better place if all the chumps began pouring all that chumpy love onto themselves. I promise to remember this for the rest of my life.

    • “ We can all play it cool while reading this post and eating breakfast, but remember those first moments of discovery that the person you love….does not love you at all. ”

      Exactly right, Sandstone. I think that’s why I’m angry. I remember that horrible terrifying trauma. And Pilot’s Wife went through it at least 3 times… resulting in scorched earth at one point. But keeps remarrying FW. And now would rather just stay with him rather than divorce.

      So sure, I can eat my cereal now and read this with some distance. But that’s because after DDay, I fought to leave a Cheater and Gain a Life. I hope Pilot’s Wife eventually did too.

      • “So sure, I can eat my cereal now and read this with some distance. But that’s because after DDay, I fought to leave a Cheater and Gain a Life. I hope Pilot’s Wife eventually did too”

        This. 👏👏👏👏

      • I cannot imagine being such a masochist to go through this hell again, either. I would not do it for $50 million dollars in a Swiss bank account. Pilot’s Wife could have amassed an international dynasty if she had focused this much energy on herself, rather than a fucktard who probably fancies himself as a Cassanova of the Skies. This pain feels like home to her.

        If anyone reading this is staying with a Cheater/Liar because it seems too hard, remember this. There is some resistance when you are trying to take off. Like a rocket straining to leave our planet. Any project is like this. You break it down into manageable steps.

        “Today, I will make and follow through with one divorce lawyer consultation. I will pay the fee now so I cannot flake on this appointment.”

        “Today, I will go get a secret PO Box.”

        “Today I will start de-cluttering so I don’t move a bunch of junk I no longer need or want.”

        And know this: Life on the other side is so much…..lighter. I don’t have to modulate and worry about my Cheater’s reaction to: how I bagged the groceries, how long I talked to my sister, who was on the phone.

        I can actually move through my day to please me. This translates into other areas.

        On Christmas Eve, I was cajoling, prompting and asking certain family members to get up so we could go to store to buy food to make a Christmas feast. And everyone was non committal, not enthusiastic, binge watching Breaking Bad.

        So, I just had this moment of clarity: You know what? If you don’t care about Christmas dinner, neither do I. Eat pot stickers from the freezer. I am going to take a long shower and then read my library books.

        And that is what I did. And the world did not stop spinning. And we ate whatever was there. And life moved on. I did not play the martyr. No more emotional heavy lifting on people who do not reciprocate!!!

        • Sandstone, sounds like an awesome Christmas! 🙂

          And after having to get everything perfect for a FW, I’m in the same boat as you. Don’t have to anymore! So we eat out most of the time now for holidays.

          • “And after having to get everything perfect for a FW…”

            Ah, yes. I remember the screaming tantrums, “I expect everything to be perfect on Christmas Day!” 😡

            Don’t have to deal with *that* shite anymore. Aren’t we lucky! 🌟💝

        • I didn’t cook at all on Christmas Day, I packed myself a nice little picnic and went for a lovely long walk. It was glorious.xx

      • She may be paralyzed by PTSD and just a shell of herself. She needs help I hope she can find! She put upb with far too much hurt and pain.

    • And even after you think you have gotten a grip on yourself, something will trigger you and send you straight back to insanity.

      • Well said.

        I cannot watch any media that trivializes or romanticizes cheating. I even get uncomfortable when it shows married people flirting. My sister took me to task and said I should calm down. This is my response and she had to admit it had truth to it.

        Flirting is asking a question. Why is a married man asking that question?

        • “I cannot watch any media that trivializes or romanticizes cheating”

          👏👏👏

          Me neither. I can’t read any books that do it. It just makes me utterly sick to my stomach, and I shake with rage. xx

          • I knew from sleuthing FW’s Amazon and streaming history that he literally binged on films romanticizing or making light of cheating in the month leading up to the fuckfest. That solves the mystery of why crappy films and books like this get made and written– because there’s a whole niche market of cheaters shopping around for rationales and ways to snuff conscience. I became violently avoidant of anything like this for a time but eventually the drivel stopped triggering me. I just cancel it and move on.

            I think what caused the shift is that I have a bit of a mean streak. I remember when, immediately after D-Day, I kept having visions of blasting FW and the AP with the evidence of harm they’d committed. Dumb really because people capable of empathy or remorse would never get involved in anything so awful to begin with. When it eventually started dawning on me that cheaters typically end up buried in their own shit, I started seeing cheater-cheerleading cinema as a kind of “Pied Piper from hell” effect leading the rats straight off a cliff. They’d still have visions of bonky sugarplums dancing in their heads right up to the second they splattered on the rocks below. Smirk. I don’t like to think of other families being broken apart but it’s not exactly up to me and, as Napoleon supposedly put it, “Never interfere with an enemy in the process of destroying themselves.”

            I seem to be in a new stage in the process because I re-watched the award-winning film Raise the Red Lantern and it only made me feel philosophical but not triggered. The film is an allegory for modern political repression in China framed as the story of subjugation of wives and concubines in the quasi-polygamous warlord era. Try as they might to avoid getting drawn into petty competitions, each eventually succumbs to a system which drowns them in monotony and ritual humiliation to the point that being humped by a crass old master and the puny privileges that come with being “chosen” for the night are welcome distractions, otherwise it’s all carefully designed to pit them against each other and thwart solidarity. Only wife #1 in her seventies seems to have given up and accepted her fate with a lifeless shrug. One of the concubines is particularly villainous but ultimately she’s just another rat in a cage. While I felt no sympathy for the character, I didn’t feel righteous hatred either. What seems to make her so villainous is that she’s the only one who really buys into the charade, genuinely worships the elderly master and doesn’t find him a bit disgusting like the others.

            How’s that for a novel warning? Love, like any other emotion, is neither good nor bad on its own and qualitatively depends on effect. We can become what we love so it’s best not to love evil.

        • “I even get uncomfortable when it shows married people flirting. My sister took me to task and said I should calm down.”

          Don’t you just love it when people who have little to no understanding of what you went through tell you how you should feel.

          Be that as it may, some people do (midly) flirt just you get an ego boost, have no intention of taking it any further, and don’t take it any further. But it’s asking for trouble, and I’d wager thr majority of married flirts are willing to take it further.

  • I wish I had found your blog during my scorched earth phase because he is the epitome of all the cheaters we chumps are involved with.

    Wishing is a waste of time. Someone once stated that I stayed 41years because I was afraid to be alone. Nope, it’s because I’d lost my identity and my power. It’s what numbing does to your soul.

    Identifying yourself as pilots wife, reducing your activities to policing a spouse and OW is soul sucking and humiliating. Winning and not caring is a huge pit to climb out of alone. Here chumps are not alone and learn how to navigate caring/valuing yourself over all else. While it’s hard work and painful, the pain is finite. The gain is life long when you leave a cheater.

  • As always, these extreme postings point to sad realities. Probably most chumps are currently stuck and may remain stuck. Even with the high rate of divorce, serial infidelity traps chumps. The pilot’s wife may have her own mental health issues and didn’t reference the ongoing impact to her adult children. There may be a poorly crafted pre-nup agreement in place.

    For chumps who are now living lives largely separate from their cheating spouse, start with a lawyer who can advise on the implications of marital status and they will refer to a financial professional to untangle assets.

  • This is beyond my understanding. You’ll kill him and go to prison for the rest of your life but getting a divorce is too difficult? What?! Also, do you realize how messed up it is that you put pornography on youtube? Children are on there. Trying to shoot people (even scumbag cheaters) and exposing kids to porn is real degenerate behavior. You’ll do that but divorce is too hard?

    I can’t understand this any more than I can understand the cheaters and their little cronies. You’ve been divorced and you just keep marrying him again. WTF?!

    • “This is beyond my understanding. You’ll kill him and go to prison for the rest of your life but getting a divorce is too difficult?”

      Yes, it’s ridiculous. I smell troll. I might have believed she’s really that kooky if she hadn’t gone overboard with the whole Elvis wedding thing.

      • Yeah, I think you’re right. If she isn’t a troll, she’s one of those people who always has drama in her life because she gets off on it. Either way, someone I’d avoid.

  • PilotsWife is obviously not okay with the situation, or she would not be here. She really needs to ask herself if living the rest of her life as she is acceptable to her. There is no way that she can live an authentic, honest and safe life where she is now. Divorce is a long and exhausting process especially in long term marriages with a lot of assets, but it can still be done.
    She needs to feel safe from disease, bad decisions for the future and much more. Is it hard to make the life altering decision to leave a cheater? HELL YES!!! The benefits are great though once it is over and you can feel free of the stress of living with a cheater, being lied to and risking your health. There will be rebuilding, and life will change but it will be as safe and tranquil as you make it. For the sake of her mental and physical wellbeing she needs to make the choice to leaving the cheater before she can gain a life and get to meh.

    • I think that she is not only okay in her situation, she loves the chaos. No one asks to be cheated on or deserves it, but she is thriving on all of the attention and drama that she has stirred up in the wake. She knows exactly who she’s married to and wants all of the sympathy of having been chumped while also bragging about going all “scorched earth” on her fuckwit. She wants to be a part of the chumped community while having no intention of ever leaving her cheater or gaining a life because “it’s too hard” to split up finances/property? Nope, she likes the hurricane she’s living in, she likes the excitement, she likes the financially comfortable lifestyle. And that’s fine, she can enjoy all of those those things but don’t come around here expecting to get accolades for having lost your damn mind, doing everything you can to never EVER reach “meh”, and think that any one of us is going to relate to you, sympathize with you, or encourage your atrocious actions.

      • Agree, I think you need to leave the cheater before you can get a life and reach meh. After 18 months fighting for a divorce from EX-FW, I won my freedom in Nov 2022. My life has started to normalize but I am still working towards meh. I definitely could not get to meh while divorcing the FW and I can’t even imagine having to live in his foul presence. I am just happy I got out with more than I asked for because I know I could have never stayed in the mirage for all the money in the universe.

      • Some give up and don’t believe there is a way out. I once read the hardest thing for an abuse victim is to stay. I watched my mother do exactly that until she passed away.

        I can relate to and empathize because I was fortunate to find a therapist who understood the paralysis of trauma bonds. And an attorney who represented abused women/children. This is what we offer, our experience and stories.

        When one is giving up we offer hope. To be so broken sometimes there’s only a tiny thread left. It takes a nation.

      • But doesn’t going scorched earth include going to Vegas with the person and marrying them? LOL It’s so ridiculous.

  • Divorce him and take the properties/real estate. Or get enough from the split to buy your own.

    That’s no way to live.

  • I hope to hear that this person specifically selected complex trauma therapy — EMDR or Brainspotting. I’m no mental health providing professional, but everything about that letter screams extreme complex trauma into my untrained ears.

    And spot on, CL, on all counts, as always.

    Seems to me that this person is in the sort of situation where the extreme chaos has slowly become their life’s “normal”, like that old analogy of how the frog in the pot doesn’t realize they’re being boiled because the heat is rising slowly.

    Divorce is really, really, really, really, really hard to go through. It’s also important to go through when it’s needed. It can be tough to find that line in some cases, but this letter is pretty over the top.

    • You’re absolutely correct; LW screams “trauma brain.” Her psyche has exhausted all its available resources.

      There is a classic (but grueling experiment) on Learned Helplessness by Seligman–he put half his sample of dogs in a crate where they got shocked but could not jump over a barrier to avoid the shock. When he put those same dogs in a crate where they COULD avoid the shock, they didn’t–they had “learned” that they could not act to save themselves from pain. Learned helplessness explains how many abuse (infidelity abuse victims, too) feel like they can’t do anything to help themselves. This is where friends or therapists come in to give them that first nudge.

  • Pilot Wife:

    (I’m a Chump so I’m usually uber responsible) – your words. I don’t buy it.

    41 years is a long time to be dancing with the devil. You’ve become cozy in dysfunction because the payoff is money, property, reeling him back in for another go-around, and not having to do any self or other work by avoiding divorce and personal growth.

    The Piper has come for payment. Self-destruction is his preferred method of payment. Going off the rails and questioning your own sanity is your down payment thus far. Get out now, go find help for yourself and children while you are ahead. Be long gone and far away from this self-destruction before the balance comes due…soon. The Piper collects on all debts.

    • “I’m a chump so I’m usually Uber responsible” feels the epitome of the Dunning–Kruger effect, which is when people think they are good at things they are terrible at.

      I judge myself, and others, on actual behavior. It is your behaviors that show your character, especially in times of stress. If what she does when she is stressed is wreck cars, post revenge porn, and attempt murder – well, that speaks volumes about her character. Her husband did a terrible thing, but her husband didn’t make her take any of those actions. We all have a choice on how to behave, and she is blameshifting her actions onto him.

      This is also why it can take ages to actually get to know someone. You have to see how they react when life gets rough to even start to get a sense of who they are. This is the #1 thing I wish I understood when I was younger and swept up in loving-bombing romances. It can take years to find out who someone really is.

  • A couple thoughts. When I was going thru my most mental sanity disruption time period, when I was fighting the inevitable end, my kid asked me why I didn’t tell because he thought he could intervene and stop his father from leaving. And I said, but what would I have really been left with, if he stayed, reluctantly. I’d always be second, on defense, and do endless pick me shit to keep him home. And son, I just couldn’t. Nothing could fix this broken, even the much favored son. And my son said, yes. That’s true. This was just the reality I had to suffer through until I got through the other side. And every self esteem hot button got pushed. I’ll never be that same innocent bumpkin just minding my business in my supposedly safe world that never saw my spouse’s perfidy for what it was. I’ll never be the same. In many ways I’ve lost my spark. I really can be a genuine miserable bitch. Some days I really just don’t feel like I want to go on. But I do. And I do it freely, without the 500 lb gorilla on my back. I actually know a pilot’s wife. She lives quite well and has everything one could want. She had a great career of her own too. And happy children. But he cheated. And she kept him. And he owed her. So she wouldn’t give up her sweet surroundings because she earned it all. She’s a different generation of stoic wife and todays letter tells me she’s younger but still straddles that pilots wife mind set. Women get quick to a point once D day happens when a cost/benefit analysis gets calculated. Do I keep everything going in my now unsafe area of the world or do I go? The pilot wife I know stayed. Her FOO prob influenced her decision (left orphaned at 6 and lost both siblings by 15) But she really was pretty miserable with moments of great. She made it through the daily by doing her own thing with friends. She’s going blind now and has to wait for her spouse to drive her for everything. It’s all pretty sad. So OP, you’re prob going to stay like my friend, for whatever reasons you compromised on long ago. But can I just say that half of all that property and assets doesn’t sound so bad. You’ll have to nurse that sows ear soon enough – unless you escape.

    • Many years ago when I was going to school, I had a bartending job a few nights a week. A very attractive older woman (reminded me of Jackie Kennedy) would come in regularly. She had been a flight attendant (stewardess back then) way back and that’s how she met her pilot husband. She told me that she knew he had some dalliances here and there, after all he was a pilot. However, one of the affairs became serious and he decided to leave for the OW. The woman (I wish I remembered her name) said she knew he would never leave his kids (teenagers at the time) so the affair ended, he stayed but she definitely didn’t win. Yes, she had a home in a very prestigious area, never had to work, but was out at night on her own knocking back cocktails because she became an alcoholic. She was a heavy smoker as well. I really liked her but I remember thinking for a smart elegant woman why would she stay with someone who clearly did not love her?

  • Nothing to say to this letter writer. It’s a rerun so I hope she’s done some work on herself and can look back on her letter with horror.

    “I’m a guest on the OurVoices podcast this morning (by OurPath, formerly known as the Straight Spouse Network.) I’ll post a link when I get it.” MUCH more interested in how CL’a podcast goes today.

    • I am really looking forward to listening to this episode! OurVoices and OurPath have been lifesavers for me dealing with the chumpdom I face.

      • I read our path everyday. I am a straight spouse of a serial cheating gay in denial husband. 37 years of lies. No kids thank goodness. When I was 66, during COVID lockdown, husband came home from therapy and said “I’m gay”. And, “ My therapist thinks I should stay with you because I don’t have another 37 years to get to know someone else”. Like I had zero choice in the matter. Took me two weeks but I called a lawyer. Sold my beautiful bungalow and mature garden, divided all assets. Moved to a tiny apartment in my same neighborhood, alone. We share 3 dogs but not much conversation. Most days are a struggle still. It’s a double betrayal when cheaters also hide their true sexual identity. A truely EPIC mindfuck.

        • I know what you are living through….I had 47 years of the same nobody figured out…therapists sure didn’t…trauma caused loss of memories…I never understood why I could not remember vacations, kids birthdays, holidays, etc…then after he had been gone several years I started remembering. Therapist said trauma caused memory loss …healing brain is bringing some back. here you all know “the story” and I am so glad I found this website several years ago…

  • Pilot’s wife, I think you could feel better about the complexities of property division if you talk to a divorce attorney. They can help you assess what the assets are and how they can be split. At least you HAVE assets to split and are not being held as a financial hostage. Start making changes to protect yourself. Make sure that you are a JOINT owners of all financial accounts so your access cannot be cut off. That your name is on the deed to all real estate, vehicles, etc. Make sure that you are the sole beneficiary to retirement, life insurance and investment accounts. I found out that I was not – my ex just gave me his user name and password. It was too easy for him to just change the password and block me out. I was an authorized user on credit cards and he simply removed me. Run his credit report and see what is there. If he agrees/helps with this process, splitting assets will be relatively easy. If he does not, that is a HUGE red flag. It means that his exit strategy is already in place to make it easy for him to walk away with everything. Be making contributions to 2 retirement accounts equally. Don’t put your eggs in his basket. I think you could learn a lot about him in the process, and maybe find that you can readily stand on your own 2 feet. I should have seen the sign when he refused to put my name on car titles. They were financed through his credit Union, so he simply got the title in his name when it was paid off. I asked for years that he add me and he said yes but never did. I should have taken that more seriously. You sound like you have a good career and can access help to start making these changes. I wish you the best. I sure wish I had been given this advice during the “suspecting” years.

  • Pilotswife, you write that you’re content with things now because “He makes a lot of money, we own a lot of property together in several states, and I just don’t want to deal with getting a divorce at this stage in my life. Starting over financially and dealing with splitting everything up (selling and moving and retirement) is just more than I can deal with.”

    Didn’t you divide assets when you first divorced? Didn’t you wonder why he swept you off to renew your vows after you filed a second time? Things WILL change, and soon. Presumably Pilot is also near or in his sixties. Commercial international pilots must retire at 65. He didn’t want a divorce before, and stopped it with the vow renewal. I suspect besides flying and f**king, he’s getting his ducks in a row so when he retires, he will not be responsible for any alimony, may get more than half your assets, and can fly off into the sunset. And you’ve given him plenty of ammo so that YOU will come off poorly in court. I’m sure he has evidence that you put his private porn movies on YouTube with his name and company, and without consent from him or his partners; harassed his “friends” by email; told his work colleagues and family about his sexual activities. And he may have evidence that HE is the victim of your crimes of destroying his car and trying to shoot him. He might have a claim for your assets based on his pain and suffering, from what you really did, and whatever accusations he might fabricate.

    If you’ve visited this site, you’ve seen ample evidence that cheaters go underground and hide their assets until they’re ready to fly the nest. He’s a cheater. You have also given him plenty of reasons to hate you. Forgive my bad pun, but if you stay in the marriage, you’re a sitting duck.

    Also, your behavior before went from anger to criminal activities. Please find therapy for anger management while getting thorough medical and psychological work-ups. You flipped to rage before, and now you’ve flipped to passivity. What you see as meh is apathy. While better than violence, it’s still a concern.

    • Yep anger can be righteous and healthy. When it turns to criminal activity, nope. She needs professional help.

      In the beginning I never called my asshole, wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. But I did for a while imagine him floating face down in the Ohio River. If I had taken actual steps to make that happen that would have crossed me over the sanity line, and hopefully before something tragic happened, someone would have helped me gain control and get help.

      That is all I am saying, she needs help.

    • Yes, his “undying love” is “I don’t wanna lose 1/2 my money.” But when he’s done, he’ll be DONE.

    • Bingo. As an international pilot, he is almost certainly setting up his retirement in a country with a much lower cost of living…. and where it will be very hard to hold him accountable if, for example, he cleans out their bank account or sells that property without Pilotswife’s knowledge.

  • it’s hard to read a letter like this, from a person who objectifies herself as a GIRL. the bit about plastic surgery and hitting up the bars and flirting with men is disturbing to me. it’s not healthy and seems impulsive. there are times in life when each of us has to look at the construct we’ve been taught and adjust.

    here’s mine:
    1. stick it out in marriage. no, not if it’s unhealthy.
    2. look good at all times. no, not if it’s unhealthy to do so.
    3. be likeable. no, not if it’s people pleasing.

    it’s okay to end marriages, gain a little weight, and be grumpy sometimes. it’s called being human.

    i don’t know what to say otherwise?

    • “it’s hard to read a letter like this, from a person who objectifies herself as a GIRL.”

      This is when I realized fw was acting like a 40 year old teenager. When he left he told me he had been seeing this “girl” and they were in love and wanted to get married. So I imagine some 20 year old unmarried woman. No, it was a 35 year old town whore who had been divorced twice and had two teenage boys, and one ten year old boy. She had not been a girl for many moons. And she didn’t look like a girl either.

      But, in his head he was riding high and I am certain she looked like a girl to his hormone addled brain.

      I would have loved to see the look on his face when he actually came to and saw her with the scales off his eyes. But, thankfully I was gone by then.

      • Yeah, I think the victim staying in the situation is what keeps the scales and beer goggles glued on. Like Velvet Hammer put it, affairs are three legged stools. Take away the victim leg and they collapse most of the time. Then you get the reverse Shallow Hal effect.

  • If you stay you must have a post nuptial agreement – 60 years old is still young in today’s world but you need to be protected financially with property in your name only with him paying any mortgages and taxes. You’ve got to save money. Because when D day 4 comes you need to be protected – Don’t get mad, get smart. If you want to stay married fine – but he’s your mule now – he works for you. I have a tee shirt that says “ my breasts are real it’s my smile that’s fake”. If you stay married know that it’s a contractual agreement – if he wants to think you’re a lovey dovey who has forgiven him – fine let him think what he wants. While he’s banging Asian girls on every lay over you should be enjoying your job and saving money. If he won’t sign a post nup signing homes over to you, agreeing to pay certain things in full etc etc then RUN and file divorce. His refusal to make you totally financially secure without him shows he doesn’t give a sh-t about you and never did. So sorry. Mine was a 30 year shocker.

  • Jesus H Christ. What a story. I’m sitting here kind of dumbstruck.
    It’s clear she’s staying with him for the money and the optics only. I think that is really sad. She needs a divorce and some deep therapy pronto, because he broke her.

    • I don’t think that’s true. She sounds more like she’s staying with him because she’s addicted to the dramatic highs and lows – she plays marriage police, she goes berserk and divorces him, he comes running back begging for her attention. Chumps stuck in marriages because they’re afraid of being broke talk about those fears. Pilotswife sounds more disappointed about not getting on a reality show than she does about her FW continuing to cheat on her.

  • So…I’m unsure why you or anyone else would question the decision to leave and save yourself some serious aggravation. As I have aged, (I’m nearly social security age) I’ve come to realize I have no interest in property, things, bullshit, liars , duplicitous vermin and the like. A common theme in the adultery-fallout/divorce world is focused on the division of assets. When someone is young and has young children in tow then perhaps it’s a good idea to fight out the “fair” distribution. At this age I could give a shit about any of it, I’d rather live under a bridge than sacrifice my self respect and mental well-being for tangible nonsense. It brings to mind from recent reporting a certain US senator who , for the preservation of his political clout, allowed without a whimper a so called “president ” to call his wife ugly and his father a murderer never once showing any testicular fortitude. I get it, having worked hard for something makes it hard to walk away from however you have to prioritize your physical, mental, and emotional health above that stuff. I realize there is a principle involved here but never let that stuff be your master. Think of letting that stuff go as a prize for being the biggest asshole and you get to be free from those bonds and of the bonds of a cheater to live your best life. I know this at this age nothing is going to impede me .

    • Agree. I left after 30 years of marriage. I lost my job/house/cottage/kids/all my possessions. It took years to get about 1/3rd of what I should have gotten. But getting away from his f’d up manipulative head games was priceless. Our children are finally seeing the real him, that took years as well.

  • Pilot’s wife…I too was living like you are…for 5 years. I was numb and scared to make the move justifying that him not being around (with OW) made life easier for me and my kids. I was numb, in a fog and now know from counselling… PTSD from the abuse. One day..it just clicked for me and the fog lifted long enough for me to retain a lawyer (once there there was no turning back). My aha moment was waking up from sleeping on the couch (for the 5th year) and him in the marital bed…and thinking of another year, 5 years, 10 years like this. I was miserable and he was as happy as a pig in shit…he had everything he wanted. Right then I decided that I wasn’t happy (miserable) and I just didn’t deserve to live the rest of my life like this. I hope you have an aha moment like this very soon that makes you make put yourself, your health, self-worth and happiness first.

  • I’m hoping that Pilots Wife has or will seek therapy. It’s the horrific nature of the trauma bond, where someone is more fearful of change than staying with their abuser. But nothing is more soul destroying than going through the remainder of one’s life bargaining with an abuser, and it’s not surprising when people die of health issues or commit suicide due to the stress of dealing with these destructive individuals.

    • I agree with everything you write but would like to gently point out that the term “trauma bonding” was coined by CSAT founder and “sex addiction” guru Patrick Carnes to displace the older, perfectly accurate and more informative term “captor bonding” which was coined by founding psychotraumatologist Frank M. Ochberg who originally defined Stockholm syndrome in the 1970s and has been active on behalf of domestic violence survivors ever since.

      Why didn’t Carnes just use Ochberg’s term “captor bonding”? I think it’s because Carnes’ and Ochberg’s goals are polar opposites and “captor bonding” doesn’t serve the CSAT/RIC economic scheme. While the term “trauma bonding” evokes the image of two drowning people clinging to each other in a flood and mutually dragging each other down without assigning fault, the term “captor bonding” has indications of abuse (captivity) and designations of victim (captive) and perpetrator (captor) built right in. The problem with the latter for CSAT proponents is that abusers won’t pay therapists who call a spade a spade. Furthermore, therapists can lose their licenses for trying to reconcile victims with perpetrators so it makes sense– at least from a cynical profit perspective– to cast abuse as “not abuse”– even to the point of mutating language– in order to keep taking payments from couples. Also while the term “trauma bonding” typically leads to CSAT/RIC-friendly resources, a web search for the term captor bonding sends victims/captives to resources where they’ll find actually meaningful support for Stockholm syndrome and solid clarifications of their situations that would compel them to leave rather than paying a CSAT/RIC therapist to save their relationships.

      Sorry if this sounds lecture-y. After my own awful brush with RIC and CSAT nonsense, I don’t feel like putting more clicks or cash in the pockets of proponents so I stick the old, useful expression “captor bonding.” I know some well meaning bloggers and therapists have picked up on Carnes’ (deliberately) viral coinage but I suspect some wouldn’t if they knew the agenda behind the term-hijacking.

  • I’m going to differ a bit from the standard stance – lawyers will tell you (if they’re honest) that you’re not going to get justice in family court. You’re also not guaranteed your half of the assets. I promise he’s shuffled them during the distraction of Elvis tickets, to make sure they stay with him if you do file. Forcing the kids to choose when you’re old and broke and he’s … not broke… is a situation where a lot of the older ladies in my church and neighborhood have lost (it’s our gain, as they make spectacular holiday guests). And socially, much of the world is hostile to single moms and neglectful to older women. You’re also not guaranteed love again.

    So if he will let you live emotionally separate lives, that’s time for you to scope his (I promise he does not see them as joint) assets and where he’s hidden them. It’s time for you to consult with divorce lawyers so – if he does decide he wants a divorce- he’s limited and you are ready. And in the meantime, you have a solid quality of life.

  • That’s a really long letter for someone who allegedly doesn’t care. And the reason you can’t take yourself to individual therapy is because…?

  • This is one of those re-posts that makes me wish the letter writer would update us, except I have more than a sneaking suspicion she stayed with him. Before I saw it was a rerun I thought one reason to leave is that once she knew her ex was flying around the world having sex with women I suspect he paid to have sex with, endangering their health, contributing to the global sex trade and therefore to sex trafficking, if she didn’t leave she would be colluding with him in that abuse.

    I also thought that given that scorched-earth behavior, and the way she is acting now, she has a snowball’s chance of reaching “meh” while living with him. Everything she does now is a response to him, so although she may not be feeling anything, it doesn’t mean she is not acting in response to him.

    From the perspective of self-delusion, denial, and self-negating behavior, this may be one of the saddest letters I’ve seen in my seven years of reading CL.

  • Wowza! I hope she left him. She also didn’t think that he could just leave her. That would be a major kick in the guts. My ex asked to stay and just fuck around on the side. I was to be the side kick wife that did his laundry. Um no thanks! Leaving is hard but it can be the most empowering thing you’ll ever do.

  • I missed this bizarre reality show of a post first time around. I’m of the opinion that this is a troll letter. He begged her back after she shot him, seducing her back into his arms her with, of all things, an Elvis wedding in Vegas? Sounds like a Nicholas Cage movie from the 80s, only even sillier. Did a phalanx of Elvis impersonators skydive in to serenade the lucky couple as they walked the aisle? Yeesh. 🙄

    • Like I mentioned in another comment, I think this level of lovebombing isn’t that unusual but only in the context of ongoing and pretty extreme domestic violence. The greater the violence, the bigger the lovebombing. It makes sense from the perspective that batterers– by committing criminal acts– create a situation where they have a “tiger by the tail” because it’s usually when victims leave that the full story comes out. That leaves only a few choices: get the victim back at all costs, bribe them into silence or kill the victim and get away with it. Groveling and reciting odes is lower risk and costs less.

      I’m guessing there’s also probably a greater degree of infantile dependency in certain violent abusers. Tennessee Williams didn’t invent Stanley Kowalski– it’s definitely a type and I’ve seen it. I’ve known women who found exes clinging from their windowsills braying like wounded beasts, promising the moon, etc. And– insult to injury– when these women tried to explain the situations to the uninitiated, they were accused of bragging. When you’re in it, it’s not flattering but terrifying which is probably why it sometimes works. There’s a carrot and stick dynamic since that “violent passion” can turn to plain old violence in a second.

  • Yes, it struck me that she signed her letter, “pilots wife”
    That seems to be her identity.
    I didn’t realize it for a loooong time, but when ever I met new people I would introduce myself like this:
    Hi ! I’m _______’s wife!
    Or just: “I’m the guitar players wife”
    Ugh makes me sick to think of it now.
    Hope pilots wife “flew the coop”
    And hope “pilot” has been grounded.

  • Hopefully, she’s in a better place now, but yes, both are really messed up. Maybe this is made up, but I do some local domestic advocacy volunteer work, and I’ve heard similar, colorful stories that make my head spin. Shots fired, the affair partner moves in, the affair partner moves out, porn videos, people go to jail (or not), and the rest. I still tell them to get to a safe place and focus on your junk, period. Crazy does what crazy does, but you don’t have to participate.

    In my case, sure, I thought about all kinds of revenge, but it stopped there. When I finally sat at the conference table with my attorney, I had some mixed feelings but told him, “I just need out, whatever it takes.” And he did that for me, despite a divorce that he told his associate was one of the most memorable of his career. I got out and worked on my junk and am living a new chapter.

  • I try not to be judgmental about other people’s sanity. I look back at my own history and do make judgments about my behavior. I didn’t remarry, I just filed for divorce and backed out 2 times. Fortunately, the third time was a charm. Still, I was married to a serial cheater and had 2 children over the course of 20 years. I rode the RI railroad, listened to FOO voices and advice, and FINALLY figured out that he was never going to change, and I had to fix my own broken value system.

    I was raised to believe that having separate expectations for men and women was ok. Of course, it wasn’t. There is no separate but equal. I did have some value and self-worth issues, and that is what I started working on. I had to get to the point where I could say “That is not acceptable” and then act on that statement. Here are the consequences . . . No… Goodbye. . . Property settlement, childcare agreement, move out — all that stuff.

    It takes a major effort to do this. If you do not, IMHO, you become a part of the walking dead stepford wife syndrome.
    You cease to exist, but your body is still going through the motions. I also made the mistake of marrying another cheater, too soon after I divorced my children’s dad. I still had a lot to learn, and a lot of work to do. I was 45. I thought I was a sane adult with reasonable expectations about life. I was still broken and I had not fixed my picker.

    So, another divorce. Faster this time and no children. Still, I tried to believe in my original dream. Then one day, I didn’t. I realized I could not live in a dream, I had to live in reality to be truly alive.

    I think it was my belief in continuing education, and MY ability to change and adapt that carried me through to Meh. I never gave up on ME. I became certain of how I wanted to live life. I need to be treated with respect and honesty, and I deserve to know the truth.

    I am certain that along the way I was as lost as this writer is. I did not go to the extremes, but my mind was certainly active. It is a good thing you cannot be arrested for your thoughts and dreams/nightmares. Eventually, my brain got on track, my survival instinct kicked in, and my desire to live an authentic, peaceful life became my guiding principle.

    It is my fervent prayer that every chump can survive the journey to Meh and has the grit to get there. Don’t give up on you. That is not Meh.

    • Portia, Thanks for putting your journey to Meh in words. This will definitely help me to check where I am in going towards Meh. I have started to work on caring for myself and realizing my goals rather than FWs. I do believe that this focus can get me there! Gotta do some thinking and checking here to see how far I have come and what other things I need in my new life. This really helps.

  • I feel helpless and nauseous reading this. I thought I was immune but situations like this are where angels fear to tread. The merest reference to a gun immediately evokes the specter of death. Over half of domestic homicides involve firearms and access to them in situations involving domestic abuse increases the risk of not only spousal homicide but also collateral (bystander) victims.

    The teeniest little hint of what might have been going on was her throwaway mention that FWs are “scary to leave.” From working with DV survivors, I’ve seen situations where victims show up injured and hysterical and describing horrific assaults, then a week later denying everything except their own reactions. In effect, they end up telling the same expurgated stories their abusers would tell. I likened it to someone showing a video of a bear attack but with the bear edited out by CGI, leaving only the footage of someone flailing and rolling around in the woods, rending their clothes and screaming hysterically for no discernible reason.

    For any chump who’s ever been falsely accused of violence by a blame-shifting FW, in my experience, fakers and prevaricators never cop to any threatening gestures on their own parts so I highly doubt that the throwaway hint of “scary to leave” was an attempt to frame. I think it was more like the small print in a contract so the issuer can pretend it provided all the information.

    On average it takes DV victims about seven attempts to leave before finally making a full break so the advocacy organization I worked with just wanted them to have a place to go when they were ready for subsequent attempts. We would ever-so-casually rattle off safety measures “Just in case.” It’s usually only when the danger of staying exceeds the considerable danger of leaving that victims make the final escape. Eventually I stopped getting upset when we couldn’t save them all because we managed to help so many. We never spoke contemptuously of those who did 180s because there was always the sense that we didn’t have the full story and certainly weren’t directly in the situation picking up all the unspoken cues and intuiting all the risks and dangers. When stories came out in the news of victims being killed, bystanders would often say things like, “If she’d left ten years ago, she’d still be alive.” But there was always the possibility that if she’d left ten years ago, she would have been dead ten years ago (possibly along with her kids) because of the 70-fold increased risk that a victim will be killed within two weeks of leaving.

    Abuse can de-calibrate survival instincts so that victims sometimes make short-sighted choices or fatally hesitate but you have to trust that living creatures tend to be geared towards survival. Escaping violence is like defusing a complicated bomb. When the worst happens and a bomb goes off, we don’t tend to cluck over the incompetence of the bomb squad because they cut the wrong wire. We assume they were doing their best in a nearly impossible situation. Having that attitude was the only way most of us could keep functioning as advocates.

    Another hint that there may have been a long history of threats and/or violence in this situation is the intensity of FW’s reported lovebombing. Batterers create situations of “mutually assured destruction” so that, even as they campaign to entrap victims, they’re also making it harder for themselves to leave because of the likelihood that their histories of demented, illegal behavior will come out once the relationship ends. Batterers are thrilled when their victims begin to react violently in turn because this gives them “dirt” to reverse victim-offender. It’s easy to see how this struggle can end up going off a cliff with everyone dead. I knew an anger management therapist who worked with convicted abusers who kept a sign on his office wall that said, “There are dead men in my Rolodex.” I didn’t know anyone still used Rolodexes but I suppose that sounded quippier than “dead men in my iphone contacts.”

    Usually when abused women kill, it’s in direct self defense and I believe it’s statistically rare for victims to turn full stalker and do a Betty Broderick. I never personally encountered a situation where the victim had internalized abuse to the point of becoming dangerous in their own right without immediate provocation. According to policy, we wouldn’t have worked with someone like this and would be compelled to contact police. I’m grateful it never came to that because it would have been indirectly traumatizing and could have pushed advocates over the edge of burnout.

    I’m not sure what’s happening in this story but that one little thrown-in clue (“scary to leave”) and the description of total psychic numbness/brown-out have a familiar ring. I have a suspicion that the gun wasn’t hers, that she might have been menaced with it at certain junctures, that she edited out the history of threats when she’d previously tried to leave and skipped to the lovebombing/abuser-groveling stage, that she didn’t mention a burgeoning issue with drugs and alcohol that began as an attempt to self-medicate and that if she’d gotten to the point of nearly shooting her husband that she was also a hair away from suicide. If that’s the situation, I think the best case scenario is that the new numb psychic trance allows her to wander out sideways and financially solvent after the next round of fuckery, delaying her collapse until she’s safely out. Second best is if this FW dumps her for a Schmoopie, she survives and eventually trips upon a better life without him. Worst is that someone ends up dead or in prison or that her health fails and this guy ends up with the power to pull the plug. Another possibility is that this guy is soon crippled with typical FW health problems and she ends up with a bed-ridden, de-fanged, babbling bear fading away in a dark corner while she keeps up the married charade with a bit more freedom and waits for him to croak.

    No matter how this ends, it still makes you throw your hands up to the sky and ask “Why?” It could make a stone weep. I need to go hug my kids.

    • CL manages to put a clear perspective on it, which is admirable.
      I’m not going to victim blame – the OP has remained in that toxic sewer of a relationship for far too long .

  • I feel sad for Pilotswife. She doesn’t see her mightiness and that spark for a real life.

    Today I am the opposite – I tackled the next steps in reclaiming my life. The divorce was finalized a couple months ago. And now i have the hassle of changing my name back. I just got my new social security card and today I tackled going to DMV for a new license, registration and title for my car. Each step is a total PIA, but I am thrilled to be reclaiming my name!
    I pray PiolotsWife will see that it is all done in baby steps and she can do it as well.

    • Yep, after changing my name back after my divorce… I’m never changing it again, even if I do get remarried.

      • Oh yes, totally! I changed my name back after my divorce and swore I would never ever lose it again. I clung to it like a life-raft. When I eventually did re-marry I did keep my name. That was many years ago and not as common a practise as now. A few raised eyebrows but I truly didn’t care (and nor did my lovely now-husband).

        • I changed mine *legally* whilst I was still divorcing fuckwit. It felt great.😂

          Fuckwit knew this, and chose to send me some documents I needed addressed to me in my married name .🙄🤮

    • Totally worth it! I even had my most recently attended college re-issue my diploma with my old “new” name…it took some paperwork and some money but I love seeing it on my wall.

  • Pilot’s Wife,
    Please, please get a book named “Steps to Freedom” by Don Hennessy. You’ve got all the signs of being brainwashed into a faux “insanity”. Abuse targets are groomed into the place the abuser wants. He wants you under control so you have a lot of fear and heavy feelings and fear about living independently. You married at age 19, so you’ve almost never lived fully alone. I’m sure that there is a maze of impossible, heavy feelings and a fog of exhaustion. But it’s all bulls**t which many have seen before. Much of the book is about countering the brainwashing that you can’t leave without a big screw up, just give up, etc….

    Whatever instinct told you to reach out to Chump Nation is healthy, please validate that. Abuse thrives in isolation. But part of you knows better, and pushes you toward health and safety. Reaching out to a local Domestic Violence program might be a world of help for you, just to have your reality validated, see through the crap, and make clear-headed plans. Rampant cheating is abuse, even if he never hit you. The idea of leaving will feel a lot less exhausting with support.

    If you’re like most, you probably can think of many examples where the abuser is right, and you’re a special case which is particularly hopeless. Maybe you even deserve it. That’s one of the aims of the brainwashing. Hennessy’s other book “How He Gets into Her Head” explains how you got brainwashed… how your mental/emotional cage was constructed.

    Some of your past “craziness” tells me that you’ve been testing the limits of that cage, or even destroy it. I bet you learned how far he’ll go to contain you. How much he cares, or doesn’t. Your reaction to stop caring what he thinks was actually the healthiest reaction possible given the circumstances. Wanting to pick up men in bars can be a way to break an insidious belief that no other man would want you, or some toxic belief about your attractiveness. Part of the toxic mindf##k is that emotional independence has been vilified such that the target fears their own healthy instincts, so they often come out destructively at first. Especially in front of someone who knows your buttons so well. Whether you stay or not, please reach out for help. DV programs would love to help you.

    • Don Hennessy is the BEST at getting inside the heads of the more controlling FWs. I recommend his books unreservedly.

  • As your husband, this is the man who will get to make life-or-death decisions for you, if you’re incapacitated. Trust him with that? As your husband, this is a man who can rack up obscene debt and leave you with 1/2 the bill. Trust him not to do that? As your husband, this is a man who can take ALL of your money (not just the half he’d get if you actually got divorced) and never return. You trust him to leave it be?

    If you decide to stay in this sham of a marriage, then AT LEAST consult an attorney on how to legally protect yourself against the above actions, and whatever other chaos he brings your way. And, move out. Do not live with this guy. You can’t trust him and apparently you can’t trust yourself around him.

  • I had a friend who stayed for the money and property. They shared a bed, and finances but were celibate after she caught him the final time. It seemed like hell to me. She always felt he ‘got away’ with the many betrayals he inflicted on her. But she stayed for the lifestyle. She was horribly conflicted. She died in 2022 after years of poor health. I am convinced that living with a liar and cheater greatly affected her health.
    I feel he did not deserve her company.

  • You know..I was raised near the ocean in Brooklyn NY.We went to the beach every weekend. Seagulls are at the beach. When they fly over they drop bird poops. I ask myself, should I move out of their flight path to avoid all this bird crap or should I just sit here, call it rain drops and write about how awful living like this is. Some folks give up on THEMSELVES and maybe should seek another support group like
    User’s who Use users. I guess that is reciprocity?

  • i dunno but is it a status thing, he has a lot of social influence. u staying for a reason. u told his colleagues, they dont n what hes really like, he could have told them youre had mental health issues. they n what is really like and enjoying u misery. people do enjoy other peoples misery. he is putting u at risk of sti, and hiv. these are on the increase. ap and fw are not known for their love of contraception, seriously. i dunno if u have kids, they could be seriously affected by u husbands lack of basic respect towards u and u respect towards uself. one day u husband will pick a seriously deranged ow who will stalk u and think u husband is her meal ticket.

  • I love “not coexisting for real estate” part. I did, for that & finances for 4 years to long!!!! OP when you wake up & don’t care, that’s your sign to leave.

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