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What Did You Learn from Being Chumped?

Wizard of Therapy
Wizard of Therapy

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

I love this quote from T.H. White. It pretty much sums up the ethos of this blog. The “leave a cheater” part, which is, if you have to go through a meat grinder, you should come away with a great knowledge of sausage. And the “gain a life” part. Look around, there are so many things out there more interesting than meat grinders. Live! Explore!

So, your Friday Challenge is to tell CN what you’ve learned from being chumped. If it’s early days, maybe you share the finer points of GPSing someone’s car. If you’re further out, you can wax more philosophical about your resiliency. We’re here for ALL of it.


Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I’ve learned there and more of us chumps than I ever imagined. The ones I know are the best people I know too. They are kinder, selfless, compassionate, caring, and honest. You know who they are and so do they.
    From CN I’ve also learned that it’s not me it’s him. Turning my perspective from self blaming to honest reflection has helped so much. Nobody can control a FW, but we can control ourselves and continue to be the amazing people we are!

  • I have learned to believe and trust NO ONE but myself and to be content with a single, solitary , simple life.

    • I came to this conclusion as well and am happier than I have been in decades. It’s amazing the time you have on your hands when you no longer have to coddle and entertain the every whim of a moody man.

      I went on a few dates and quickly remembered how awful dating was… my gut screamed that it just wasn’t worth it.

      I am taking classes, learning new crafts, starting a new side business, reading tons of books, and cooking new recipes. I am working hard in therapy to heal all the wounds inflicted over a difficult life. I take long baths and sleep luxuriously long each night.

      Sometimes I feel like this part of my life is my “reward,” which is an odd thought. My childhood was awful. My marriage a disaster. Getting to live these years with my teens, in a home filled with cozy and calm – it feels like life, for once, granted me a reprieve.

      • NotAnymore, your story sounds like mine. It’s only been 3 weeks since I told him to leave..2 decades married 2 teens. It’s early days but I hope my story sounds like yours soon. Well done NotAnymore, you deserve that ‘reward’ !

      • I gave up on dating at age 30, honestly. The dating scene was already a living hell 20 years ago. It’s gotten so much worse with increasingly violent porn and the incel movement.

      • I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I love living alone (with my son). It’s peaceful. I live life on my own terms. I have more time and money than ever. I’m 42, but have no desire to date or marry again.

    • Yes, i will be content with stillness and no drama. My parents are gone (I’m thankful they didn’t have to go through this again. The first time broke their hearts as my childhood sweetheart left me with a newborn. ) My children are grown. I moved from my house to a senior apartment. I am solo except for my hamster and a few good friends. It is time after a total of 47 years married, to make room for recovery. That i.must do.Prayer, writing, reading listening,meditating.Loving all that are kind souls including mine.

    • Its often easier to just take care of yourself. At this point a man would have to add to my life. And that’s a hard sell. He’s got to be better than the peace of being alone.

  • I learned that his cheating was not my fault. It took coming here daily for months and years to understand that people can leave a relationship before starting another. I finally internalized that it takes two people to work on a marriage and one to destroy it. I learned that I expected so little from him that being alone (even after 30 years) is healthier. I am a champ at no contact.

    • This was huge for me and a giant leap from feeling the need to look inward. I began to heal as I realized I was blaming myself for someone else’s choices for years. I can only control me.

  • I’ve also learned so much from CN including my boundaries and holding people (mostly FW) accountable for crossing them or attempting to cross them. I’ve also learned my divorce (home stretch) will cost me almost $75k. I’ve learned it’s BS women have to parade their divorce publicly when we have a culture that strongly recommends we change our last names upon narrative. I have a lot of male co workers going through a divorce and none of them have to announce it to workforce they’re changing their name and get the subsequent questions or hear the rumors. I’ve also learned to ask for help. I was chumped while pregnant with twins. I was able to have the support system I wanted during birth and had to get a court order/mediation to keep me safe. The only person who thought that was selfish and ridiculous was FW. Literally every medical person a part of my team said this happens a lot and it’s important I feel safe, emotionally and physically while giving birth. My friends and family have really shown up to help me raise two babies and my older two kids. And keep me safe and maintaining no contact (except parenting app) by being the baby exchanger. I’m still learning. Thank you CN. Your support has helped me through so much in the last 13 months.

    • Do you think including “ in sickness and in health, for better or worse” in marital vows is more aimed at women, so they’ll accept more BS in a marriage for longer than is reasonable?

      • I’ve always thought the ”for worse” was quite… vague. Given that ”keep thee only unto him / her” and ”let no man put asunder” and ”forsaking ALL others” is there in the contract too, I’m guessing ”for worse” means ”when it’s tough and you’re tired / the cat threw up again on the duvet” not ”Yes I’m schtupping Matilda from accounts but YOU PROMISED to stick around so.”. As a minister I know likes to say ”a contract has 2 sides.”

        • I grew up quite religious and still am, but I must have been an adult before I realized that “for better or for worse” is not actually in the Bible. But adultery as a deal breaker certainly is!

  • I learned more than I would have liked.

    I learned that I wasn’t married to who I thought I was. I learned that our kids (then 11, 16 and 18) had suspected that now Ex-Mrs LFTT was “playing around” and went looking for proof ….. sadly for them – but I suppose luckily for me in the long run – they found it. I learned how expensive a divorce is when your soon to be Ex is determined to make every step of the way difficult, even though they were the one who said they wanted a divorce. I learned that a lot of people that I thought were my friends weren’t. I learned that too many people care more about appearances than the underlying truth.

    On the upside, I learned that some people who I thought were acquaintances were people that I could trust to have my back and be there when I (and our kids) needed them. And, fundamentally, I learned that our kids and I were much better off without Ex-Mrs LFTT and her manipulative BS; nearly 8 years out from D-Day, and nearly 6 years out from the Divorce being finalised, the kids and I are in a really good place.

    Ex-Mrs LFTT can kiss my a*se; she made her choices and she can now live with the consequences.


  • This is a hard one. I’m not sure that we “learn” anything from a traumatic experience, except that we learn to live with the fact that it happened. And we may hope to prevent it from happening again, either to ourselves or to others.

    • Ali,

      If we learn anything from trauma it’s not in “thanks” to it (retch) but in spite of it and in thanks to ourselves and our fellow survivors. I really hate that view that we should “thank” adversity for the “lessons” it provides. Maybe that’s the kind of thinking that turns you off too. I’m not religious but I get all biblical about it: “It must needs be that evil cometh but woe unto him by whom the evil comes.” In other words, fuck those who serve up these evil lessons. Not only am I not grateful to the latter, I’ll see them in hell. I learn from my own survival. I learned from other survivors. And, kind of like the Omnidroid in The Incredibles, I learned how to fight evil from having fought evil. I try to understand it but understanding isn’t the same as condoning.

      In any case, if the lesson of adversity seems to stop at “life is unfair and then you die,” the hopeful thing is that there’s much more to learn. To quote a trauma therapist I knew, “There’s a lot of data in trauma.” Check the resource section of this blog for fascinating articles, books and studies on abuse. Boiled down, these things are all lessons in the darker aspects of human nature which have all kinds of applications– not just interpersonal but organizational, political, global, etc. And as awful as human beings can be to each other, not all of it is depressing. For one, learning about human evil is instructive in warding it off. For another, if you delve into the subject, you learn that, while champions of the underdog might not be dirt common, they exist and can change things for everyone.

      Personally, it makes me feel better just to think about the courage of cutting edge domestic violence researchers who defied the recalcitrant, stuffy status quo and elevated the entire field of victimology by contradicting– through the use of facts and statistics– all the old victim-blaming bullshit of yore that served abusers. Since abusive personalities lurk in every profession and, statistically speaking, are said to be particularly drawn to “helping” professions where they can take power over vulnerable people while publicly playing hero to compensate for their secret lives as demented perps, any researcher or practitioner or activist who defied the old victim-blaming views was in for a nasty turf war. But the good guys largely prevailed. Even if victim blaming is still prevalent, it’s not officially viewed as “cool” anymore. It took an inhuman effort by survivors, advocates, psychologists, social scientists and legal activists to make that bit of headway. So even if the reports victim advocates publish to bring attention to the problem are dark, so much light comes from these people and their courage in bringing down the old perspective that the takeaway is still filled with hope. The deeper you dive into that abyss, the brighter the light.

      One antidote to a sense of helplessness is to jump into the fray and get politically involved in improving resources for victims and changing laws and policies. At the very least you meet some shining lights and some of the best started out like the rest of us– broken and overwhelmed. And involvement isn’t the sad exercise it might seem from a distance. A black PBS producer I knew described his experience traveling to South Africa just a year before the fall of Apartheid. He assumed that, when he landed and met the dissident black African production team he was set to work with, they’d see him as some shining beacon from the free world there to demonstrate to the downtrodden what a modern black man can become if given access to higher education, voting rights and thousand dollar suits. He said he had this patronizing idea of himself as their Afro-American savoir! But when he met the crew they were nothing like he’d assumed. Instead he said they were downright merry, brimming with glee, constantly making astute comments and jokes about their own country, the global political scene, the hypocrisy of supposed democracies and were basically dancing through life. He said he cried on the plane all the way back to the states realizing how much more alive, free and aware these people were than he was, maybe precisely because they’d been through one of the most heinous political meat grinders in modern history and consequently saw things more clearly than he did. His story matches my experience seeing all the excited brainstorming that’s common in advocacy arenas and the kind of high hilarity that periodically breaks out in those circles.

      When I worked in advocacy for DV survivors, your typical cocktail-party-ignorant-bystander would ask if that wasn’t a really “depressing” field to work in. Nope. I bit my tongue and didn’t say that talking to ignorant bystanders at cocktail parties is what’s really depressing. Meanwhile victims of adversity, when they combine forces to take back agency on the road to becoming survivors, really know how to party.

      While negative experience is not a “gift,” our survival of it and what we learned along the way are gifts that have enormous value to the world. I try to seek out environments where that’s appreciated. The company is better.

        • “Abusive personalities lurk in every profession and, statistically speaking, are said to be particularly drawn to “helping” professions where they can take power over vulnerable people while publicly playing hero to compensate for their secret lives as demented perps.” Wow — exactly right! How did you know that my abusive ex who was secretly visiting all kinds of different sex workers is a therapist!

          • I don’t know any of this through cosmic or telepathic powers lol. It’s what the statistics say (therapy and policing harbor more batterers than other professions) and the worst people I’ve ever known always convincingly played the role of community hero or helper. It’s also what perpetrators say of themselves when they’re having flashes of insight. Jean Paul Sartre– exploiter of teenage girls and epic fuckwit in his own right– wrote “Everything is permitted the hero.” He would know.

          • P.s. maybe it’s reassuring to know there’s a whole world of therapists, researchers and social scientists who’d love to drum your ex right out of the profession and have dissected people like him like bugs on a slab.

            • Yes thanks! I appreciate your comments! It’s a comfort to know this. I didn’t go to a board of ethics — I was afraid of the revenge he might seek. I just ran from him like running from a burning building. When I saw he was engaged I tried to warn his fiancée but she didn’t want to engage.

              • I’m not sure but I think licensing boards require a police report and investigation which is another obstacle course. Though it’s always a heroic feat when survivors report abuse to authorities, I never thought that pressure should be put on survivors to do this as some kind of community service. Survivors have enough on their plates simply escaping and getting to safety. And though, by rights, victims should be able to report and expect authorities will investigate and restrain abusers, that’s not how it often works. Various reporting systems tend to be biased and broken and likely to induce what’s been dubbed the “second injury” of domestic violence or secondary trauma. Victims are frequently re-victimized in the system which only adds to the way victims who “tell” are re-victimized in social contexts.

                What prompted me to get involved with advocacy for survivors is that, though I was able to successfully prosecute a workplace stalker when I was in school, the experience was more grueling than it should have been. Because being innocent, telling the truth and even providing hard evidence generally isn’t enough to get justice, I was lucky to have a friend on hand who, as the daughter of a federal judge, knew exactly how to work the system on my behalf. Why would a system that works have to be “worked”?? I saw the need for advocacy first hand.

              • Thank you Hell of a Chump– yes — getting well away was enough. I have to trust that the people in his life – new wife, patients, etc. — will learn what they need to know about him and make their decisions accordingly. Meanwhile, my new life is good, but I so appreciate connecting with people here — it is a very deep betrayal we have experienced. This site makes me feel less alone. And I am single now– maybe forever — maybe that’s OK.

            • I think you are so well rid of your ex. He could never appreciate how special you are – whew! What a mind you have! When my daughter was seven she came up with a perfect description of the relationship it seems you had with ex: I am a statue and you are a fruit loop.

              You, dear Hell, are the statue.

    • I think it’s in the prevention where a lot of learning exists. For me, had I understood my own value and known the red-flags were the rule and not the exception of my FWs personality, I never would have tolerated his emotional abuse

  • I learned that I’m stronger than I ever knew I was. I learned that I am loved and cared for by the way my friends and family rallied around and supported me. I learned that the person I thought I couldn’t live without was the one who was bringing me down. And I’ve learned to be my own hero.

    • I learned the opposite. I realize that I stayed with a person who showed me thousands of times that he had utter contempt for me and I was too afraid to leave. I learned that my family could not even be trusted to hear my story, let alone help me build a new life.

      I also learned that it is TRAGIC for a person to live in a way that it makes it a relief for his spouse when he dies.

  • I learned that being a chump is not shameful. I kept it a secret for so long and it ate me up. Once I started telling people, I was free.

  • I learned so much so of it was good and some it was not that great. I found a lot of wisdom and advice right here and that helped me get through a lot. Some of the big ones:
    a. The FW was not who I thought he was. He was in fact a lying cheating Asshat.
    b. The cheater will always try to spread his narrative first .
    c. The cheater will project. For example, he told his lawyer and anyone else who would listen that I cheated (never happened and he could not find anything to prove it and never even was able to come up with a name), that I was self-indulgent (a guy who went to “happy ending” massage places two to three times per week and paid hookers and online sex sites?????). I got a manicure every three weeks and I was self- indulgent.
    d. Cheaters will steal but the law entitles you to get money back for dissipation of assets (had a very nice cash settlement as a result of this gem). FW really tried to fight it but accountant was able to show probably 97% of his dissipation.
    e. When Cheaters confront you and you hold to boundaries and what not, they will quickly run away. Cheater tried to talk to me in a settlement conference. I merely responded with ” You don’t tell the truth so I really don’t want to listen to you”.
    f. Cheaters blame the chump for everything. Still blames me for adult son going NC with him.
    g. I can live without a FW.
    h. I can live better without a FW. I have more money, more time and no longer walk on eggshells.
    i. I can fix things around my house. Between videos online and local classes at hardware stores and tech schools, I learned I can fix things without having to call in an expert. There are things I will not approach but many simple things that I have done and can do.
    j. I lost friends but gained ones that had the same values as I did.
    k. There are ten of millions of Chumps. I was not the only one.
    l. Chump Lady and Chump Nation are lifesavers!!!!!!!!!!!!
    m. It is okay to have and enforce boundaries.
    Lots more but these were big ones for me.

    • ” You don’t tell the truth so I really don’t want to listen to you” 😂😂😂. I say this to my ex too!: That’s interesting what you said about that, but since you regularly lie, I can’t rely on that.” He just pretends I didn’t say anything. I sometimes wonder if I’d catch more flies with honey, but I think that’s my ingrained chumpiness coming out and trying to tell me not to rock the boat.

      • I don’t talk to my X. As no contact as I possibly can be. And when I must have interaction, I think about how to use as less words as possible. If a “like” on a text will do, that’s as much as I do. If no reply will work, all the better.
        What my inner voice is screaming, “you’re a lying sack of shit, and the only thing that I trust where you are concerned is, when you open your lie-hole, the only thing that comes tumbling out are lies.”

  • When I told FW after the fallout he had no empathy and he said and you’re too trusting. I was, never believing he could throw it all away. I attend NarAnon, I started when I suspected he could be using drugs at 60. I was pretty sure he was cheating also-he was.

    Through this, I’ve learned you can only control yourself, I wanted to believe if I got him to rehab we’d go back to good life, I wouldn’t have been a happy, trusting wife ever again

    I’ve learned to trust my instincts. After reading LACGAL I made some good decisions.

    I have smart, loving adult kids and some great friends. Most of all, I’ll be ok.

  • I learned that many of my so-called friends were cowards who preferred to ignore the cheating and physical and financial abuse, and that there were many other people who, when asked, would provide incredible amounts of help. And that there were others who would simply come forward and do what had to be done. Something as simple as mowing a lawn or shoveling a driveway can have a huge impact for someone who has difficulty doing those things.

  • I’ve learned that I’m stronger and more resilient than I ever gave myself credit for. I’ve learned that I’m able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Actually, I’ve learned that I’m very capable. I’ve learned that I’m not stupid and my value is not dependent on someone’s ability (or inability) to recognize it. Even though some people can’t be depended upon to do the right thing, I’ve learned that not all people are Fuckwits. There are lots of wonderful people in this world and most want to do what’s right. I’ve learned that it’s okay to depend on someone because I can’t do it all no matter how much I want to. I’ve learned to discriminate between ‘friends’ and true friends, i.e., the ones that have my back through thick and thin (this includes family), and I’ve learned that not everything you love is good for you. The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that I’m a wonderful person. I’m not without fault, but I’m a loving, giving person and my ex-fuckwit was a fool to discard me. I’ve learned to love myself, warts and all, and I’ve learned to love others with a whole heart. True love is wonderful and liberating.

  • I learned that my bar was set to “high tolerance ” in my marriage. I walked away from a new relationship last year based on red flags & the look on the guy’s face & his words “you’re actually breaking up with me when I have so much to offer & you don’t?!” is a reminder of how much I’ve learned & how far I’ve come from being tangled up with a previous fuckwit. “Learn to stand on your own two feet so if needed, those feet can walk a different path”.

      • HP: for sure he was trying to devalue me. He owns a lot of properties & he figured that women view him as “a good catch” & his ego took a hit when I didn’t agree lol

      • KP: that’s the thing though: he seemed very nice, generous & accommodating. I had to be observant to notice the red flags. The nuances. And then he turned nasty when he was told no. That’s what he was hiding in all his niceness.

    • Maybe the Universe tossed that one at you so that you would have just this realization. You are not that person anymore who married your x. It seems to me that the reason people (me) avoid growth is that it forces you to accept pain and still move forward with hope. I think you’ve reached a true milestone.

      • Thank you, Roaring. In my earlier days, I would’ve overlooked a man’s character if he had alot of money or material things. I don’t blame myself for that, that’s the message I received all my life. My grandmother & mother encouraged it even, “marry a man with money”. Instead they should’ve been telling me “to get out there & hustle up your own money!”.

    • He actually said “…I have so much to offer & you don’t”. My jaw dropped to the floor when I read that. I agree with KatiePig, you dodged a bullet.

    • >“you’re actually breaking up with me when I have so much to offer & you don’t?!”

      This is comically awful, like something out of a movie. You dodged another bullet.

  • I learned not to be afraid. They and society groom you for it. I’m happy alone. Nearly 36 years of covert manipulative bullshit it a lot to overcome. It can be done. I also learned that jettasing my past is a blessed release. I’m not beholden to it. I don’t have to own the bullshit. I am a creature unto myself.

    • Did he groom me to be afraid? Wow, I never thought of it that way.

      I was afraid. I accepted the crumbs he threw my way. He raged when faced with his errors. He was mean and critical in all things.

  • I learned that I couldn’t trust the person whom I loved deeply and I learned how fantastic and loving my family and friends are!

  • I learned that a red flag is a red flag, even if he’s not doing it at ME. I learned that all of the things I thought were uniquely awful about him or our situation could be part of an “FWs playbook of awfulness” — they all do/say the same shit.

    • Very important to look at how they treat others. When they screw people over, your turn will come as well. The wife/mother that was recently murdered by her scammer husband (sold fake art) in Cohasset MA should have taken her kids and ran when her husband was charged with wire fraud. Instead she wrote glowing letters about him to the judge. This man had a history of scamming.

  • Not earth shattering but I learned to change the smoke alarm batteries.
    I remember how difficult it was for Cheater to replace the batteries.
    He’d drag the ladder inside the house, climb up the ladder with a loud sigh, he’d remove the old battery, climb back down the ladder. Take a trip to Lowe’s for new batteries, come back with the wrong size.
    Back to Lowes.., come back into the house with his tool box.
    Rummage through his tools, more sighs, while giving me dirty looks.
    It would take him at least a half hour or more to replace the battery in one smoke detector..
    Afterwards h’e’d pout for the rest of the afternoon.

    Needless to say when the smoke alarms started chirping I panicked and immediately googled local handy man services.
    I had my phone in my hand getting ready to call then thought I should at least try to do it myself.

    It took me less than five minutes.

    • Same routine with my FW. Every time the time changed, I asked him to replace the batteries. He’s stomp around and mutter and curse and freeze me out for the rest of the day. 🙄 After he was gone I replaced all of my smoke detectors with ones that have 10 year batteries. It wasn’t difficult. I shouldn’t have to worry about chirping smoke detectors for another 7 years. One less thing…

    • Very early in my separation from FW, when I thought we were still working on our marriage, the smoke alarm started chirping. I was camped out, without a battery or a ladder and shared a wall with the living unit next door. FW came over right away, changed the battery and gave me the second battery “for the next time” it happened. It helped me understand he wasn’t planning to reconcile. Since then, I got a ladder and a ten year alarm. Problem solved.

    • What is it with FWs soliciting praise for doing normal things around the house?!? I was called a “bitch” every time I didn’t shower him with motherly praise. It makes me laugh with incredulity and be glad I’m rid of him now.

      • And I forgot to mention the DRAMA! Oh, the drama…but others here have described it and one size really does fit all in that department.

      • Chumpedonthewayout I don’t get this need for praise either! FW actually wrote (typed!) this whole sad sausage manifesto of my relationship shortcomings, ending with something about, if only once in a while I gave him “a simple thank you!” 😭😭😭

        Or maybe there was more, I don’t know because I stopped him right there and said “No. You had me going, but this is bullshit. I am a person that says thank you. Probably excessively. I taught the kids manners and people comment on it all the time. I thank you for mowing YOUR OWN GRASS the <50% of times you do it. For watching YOUR OWN KIDS the maybe one day a month you do it. For cooking once in a while." I don't know what self-pity entitlement narrative he spun himself while traveling around for work, but it had nothing to do with my actual faults. He didn't want a simple thank you, he wanted to be worshipped like a child that could do no wrong.

        I learned that I am enough. Not for a FW, but that doesn't mean I have to pick me dance for them.

        • Ex would take the trash out and come back inside and tell me, “I took the trash out,” and I would thank him. A few minutes later he’d tell me again that he took the trash out. I asked him why he had to tell me so many times, he said just want to make sure you noticed.

          On his long list of resentments that had been building over the years, was that I didn’t complement him on his biceps or appreciate the time he spent at the gym.
          I also didn’t thank him for the things he did around the house, such as taking out the trash or mowing our small front lawn. I know I thanked him, it was a ritual, he’d bring me outside to look at the lawn afterwards and I’d say it looks good and thank him.
          I never thought to ask him to thank me for shopping for groceries, making dinner, washing clothes, changing bedding, cleaning bathrooms, floors…

    • this sounds familiar.

      right after i moved into my own house, the smoke alarm chirped and we, my adults kid and i, solved the problem with ease and no drama. because all there ever was was DRAMA. “get me a battery. god, where’s the tool box?” sighs and grumps while hauling the ladder into position. annoyed face. tools, extra supplies, trash from the battery packaging strewn about and left behind.

      it’s an everyday task, not a big deal, but the DRAMA and sulking.

      they just don’t cope with everyday life and everyday tasks. it’s a LACK OF CAPACITY.

      ps you-tube is wonderful for home repairs

    • Brit I’ve always remembered this story of yours! It had a profound impact on me because I lived this hell for every domestic chore. I thought it was just him as a person who struggled, then I thought it was me being intolerant and I felt bad about myself. What I learned from you and others is that it isn’t me- it’s him. And not only was it him, it’s a technique he used to keep me unhappy, stressed and anxious. You see, he liked me being destabilized as it worked in his favour.

      So I learned from you, Brit, the FWs are eerily similar. That’s why this blog is a life saver! It’s such a confusing experience to be wrapped up with a disordered freak that getting a daily dose of reality is essential to healing and understanding. A million thanks 🙏

    • Same with my ex and mowing the lawn. The block is small but he made a production of it. Takes me about half an hour and a bit longer with
      Whipper-snippering the edges. I also needed a loop taken off a necklace. Ex would have done that in the past. The jeweller quoted $60. I bought a pair of jewellery pliers for $10 and it took 5 minutes!

      • I cried and had a near breakdown the first time I mowed the lawn. My friend was there and I kept asking him…is that it? And he was laughing and hugging me. Yep! That’s it. It’s that easy. My FW made an epic event out of lawn mowing too and expected special favours for doing it. I love my lawn mower!

        • Yes! and we had a small front lawn but it would take him all afternoon to mow and edge.
          A 10 minute job at the most, which incudes taking the mower out of the garage.

    • Every little task he had to do was met with a sense of disgust that I had engineered annoyances for him. If I were a better wife, he wouldn’t have to deal with car repairs, yard work and taxes.

      When he did the taxes, he sat at the computer as screamed at me what document he needed and got mean in 0.2 seconds. I feared the whole process. After he died, an accountant did the taxes the first year then everything was simpler and I did them myself. I feared it as I hadn’t done them in years. After I finished, I reflected that THAT task was one he would abuse me over – for no damn reason.

  • I learned that with patience and persistence a computer with an internet connection can tell you everything you never wanted to know.

    I also learned that I am not now, and perhaps never was, the blessed special snowflake that I thought I was.

    I learned that the tuition for the School of Life can be very, very expensive.

    Sorry, I’m just having a case of the blues this week.

    • If it helps, as I was reading your list (before I read the last sentence) I thought it was full of hard but necessary truths, all of which add up to going into the future forearmed. Which is, when you think about it, positive.

    • I’m in a similar space and it’s very uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the ordinary pain of life without the experience that comes with being a Chump. Maybe it’s the beginning of the rising from the ashes.

  • 1. It is entirely possible for me to think that I am with good, honest person and still have them lie to me. Both about another woman and their own health.

    2. It is entirely possible for someone to just want me because I do chores.

    3. It is entirely possible for someone to ask me to go back to the relationship just to ask to buy a freaking car.

    4. It is entirely possible for someone not previously considered a FW by anyone to sabotage both me and his best friend at the same time.

    5. I always promised myself I’d leave any relationship where I felt the need to sneak on their phone. I should have followed through. (I didn’t. Fortunately I was discarded only two days after).

    6. If I ever catch myself again saying the words “I can’t believe you’re only telling (our therapist) the part that makes you look good”, I’m out. At this point it should be self-evident that you’re being manipulated.

    7. If someone tells me “I don’t even know why you applied for X job” when the reason was to gain stability to take better care of him, I’m out.

    8. If someone tells me ever again “You’re just like SoandSo” (an abuser), I’m out. Why would anyone want to be with an abuser anyway!

    9. No contact (or gray rock at least) was my first instinct, and it was correct. It is the only thing that has given FW some consequences. Some. Not as much as I’d have liked, not as little as I thought they were at the beginning.

    10. Never am I ever mingling finances again without a prior written contract.

  • I learned to trust myself. I remember when a woman I thought was a good friend (no, she was his “good” friend) exclaimed at a pool, “OMG, Katie! I can see your c-section scar!” in front of everyone and started laughing. I had to correct her, no you cannot. That’s just a line where my skin stretched while I was carrying a 10 pound baby, I can’t do anything about that and I”m not going to hide it. I was very fit at the time, it’s literally just a horizontal line underneath my belly button.

    I remember thinking, who the fuck does that? What kind of woman does that to another woman? She was a mother! What kind of mother does that to another mother? Plus, she was obese! Should I have pointed out her fat rolls and all the stretch marks she had from her pregnancy to everyone and openly laughed at her? I was hurt and angry. My ex convinced me that she’s just socially awkward and didn’t mean anything by it. He also suggested I go to a plastic surgeon to “fix it.” I actually had a surgeon from another procedure so I talked to him about it. He said, “are you crazy?! It’s just a line! Don’t put yourself through all that to turn a line into a worse scar, it’s not worth it.” So their plan failed.

    I have soooo many stories like that. And when I would go “Wtf?! This is wrong!” I would get gaslit by everyone around me and I was sick with a serious illness and having cognitive difficulties so it worked. That doesn’t work anymore. I trust myself now. I don’t give people chances. If you do something rude or cruel to me or if I just get a bad feeling about you, buh-bye. It’s been a much better way to live.

    • Yes, you should have said, lift up your rolls so we can check you for scars. Sometimes you gotta fight fire with fire

    • A lot of women who are mothers have a line like that on their stomachs. It’s pretty common. I’m glad your surgeon told you it wouldn’t be worth it to go through another surgery just for something that simple. What exactly would your ex expect you to do with it anyway? Your surgeon was right, there would just end up being another scar in a different spot. So like…wha??

      • Yeah, my ex wanted me to go through pain and expense of surgery and all the pain and downtime of recovery to move a line down several inches so my bathing suit would cover it. I’m so glad I had an extremely ethical plastic surgeon. Any time my ex would mention it after that I’d be like, “a Las Vegas plastic surgeon said it was crazy to even consider it.” and that was the end of it. He couldn’t argue with that.

  • Choose your inner circle very carefully. Those who are close to you should be humble and real, period. Weigh how they react when there are small slights. I’m very blessed with post-divorce friends who love me like friends should love, take honest feedback, and will tell me straight when I’m wrong. Sadly, I didn’t have that in my marriage, but having good friends in my latter years is plenty. I pushed quite a few folks to the outskirts including all of my ex’s relatives once I got that lesson.

    A guy was lightly flirting with me at a volunteer event last night, and it was almost humorous as I checked off the red flags in my mind. He reacted very strongly when I pointed out that he hadn’t heard me correctly. He talked about being in debt (not a mortgage or car loan) for over $100,000. He said he wanted to get to know me better because he needed career advice (which seemed off, I’m in a totally different field). And then he tried to hug me when I stood up without asking me. Ah, no. I’m getting good at spotting those red flags, aren’t I? That’s yet more learning.

    Happy Friday, all!

      • The whole thing was weird, period.

        He was bragging to me about how much money he made per year and then threw in, “Well, I guess it doesn’t exactly all count because I’m $100,000 in debt in addition to my mortgage and car loan.”

        Who says that to anyone, much less a woman that he seemed to want to impress? He also told me that he is thirteen years sober and a faithful “friend of Bill.”

        Common sense has left the room with red flags waving.

  • Divorced in 1982. One of the things I struggled with was not being perfect myself. I married in the midst of morals/ethics going from black/white to shades of gray. It was the era of ‘don’t judge.’ I kept living with his crap for close to 10 years because I wasn’t perfect. For me it’s still a relatively recent idea to judge him — thanks to my now-adult daughters. They’ve had no problem finding him very wanting as a father.

  • I learned to trust my gut.
    I learned not to give the benefit of the doubt.
    I learned that not everyone thinks like I do.

    • Yes – Trusting your gut! One time I made what I thought was an innocuous comment to my ex (about his phone use, which in retrospect he was already betraying me), and he absolutely blew up and DARVO’d me. In that moment my brain said to me “you are not emotionally safe with this man”. I still gave him the benefit of the doubt and explained away all the red flag behaviors for years after that.

  • I have learned that the best thing to do, early and quickly, is remove them from social media and block their number. You do not need to see them acting like they have the best life with their new schmoops, it will not help your healing. Keeping them on your social media will NOT “show them what they are missing” (they do not care. If they wanted to see your life and what was going on in it, they would not have given up the front row seat they already had.) No contact (or grey rock as much as possible.) Following them and their activities will only slow down your own healing process.

    Comparing yourself to the AP is something we all do, but “Trust They Suck” is true. It’s hard, but it is true. There isn’t anything especially awful about you that deserved the cheating, but there’s nothing especially SPESHUL about the AP that makes them better and deserving of the “LoVe” of the cheater. Because the only person the cheater really loves is themselves. Nobody will be as special to them as THEM.

    You are ABSOLUTELY ALLOWED TO BE ANGRY. Cheaters will try to stuff your anger back down your throat by telling you that you’re being irrational, unreasonable, unfair, and try to tell you the anger itself is why they had to cheat. This is blameshifting and gaslighting at its finest. You are allowed to be angry when your partner betrays you. And you are allowed to use that anger to propel you toward action. Not keying their car, spray-painting “CHEATER CHEATER McSNATCHY EATER” on their house, not renting out a billboard on highway 80 advertising an open position in cheater’s pants for anyone looking to catch syphillis, but action such as telling them to get out of your house. Action like blocking their number. Action like divorce papers. And action like knowing your worth enough to not put up with their garbage. Don’t let cheaters, or Switzerland friends, or family, or in-laws, try to push you into silencing your anger by shaming you for being rightfully angry.

    • If they wanted to see your life and what was going on in it, they would not have given up the front row seat they already had.


    • My STBX loooooooves telling me “You are in your anger” whenever I respond in a way he doesn’t like. You’re damn right I’m in my anger. And I’ll be in my fucking anger until the day I die. He deserves every bit of my anger.

  • I thought I was incapable of running my own life, having been told so by my FOO and the FW. I learned I could take care of myself. I thought I was unlikable. Turns out he was, I wasn’t. I thought I couldn’t get things done without a man to help me (although he never did anyway). Once I was single, the new friends I made were happy to help. I thought I would be miserable alone. I love living alone.

    • I came here to write exactly this, but I saw that you already wrote it! Three years after my divorce, I’m not just surviving on my own–I’m doing great! I have a good job, a great relationship with my kids, and lots of friends. FW is selling his mobile home to move into an RV because he spends all his money on hookers and gambling, and two out of our three kids don’t even talk to him. I love living on my own. I don’t think I ever want to get remarried.

  • I learned so much in my 6-1/2 years post divorce. The top two are:
    1. NO CONTACT is a must if you want to heal.
    2. You cannot control what anyone else does.

  • Right now I am in my awesome bed (thank you, McRoskey!) with my cat and my coffee. The Christmas sheets are still on it. If I want, I can use the Christmas sheets all year round. My daughter, who trusts me, because my behavior has been trustworthy, is down the hall in her room still asleep. She turned sixteen last week. What she wanted for her birthday was to spend it with me at Disneyland. We did that and had a really good time. We watched a movie in bed together last night before we went to sleep. She has incredible boundaries and self esteem that I did not have at sixteen. My house is a mess. You would never guess I used to be a professional housekeeper. It bothers me a lot but I will get to it. A messy house can be cleaned up. Nuking a family by cheating cannot. I am making my bucket list and redesigning my life. I have no desire to date. There has been no partner in my life these last five years because I don’t want one. Right now what I want is to be badass and independent and rock-solid on my own. The only issues I want to deal with are mine and my daughter’s. She is my top priority and her recovery from what Traitor Dad did requires all the attention and time and energy I have available.

    What I have learned is behind creating and being very content with everything as I described it above. My first aid kit is my therapist, my 12 step groups, trustworthy friends, and this blog.

    I learned I should have left him but I can be loyal to a fault. I took my wedding vows very seriously as well as my commitment to my family. If not for the discovery of his secret sexual double life, I would still be in the trenches, trapped in a mirage, under a spell, bleeding energy and leaking life force, smelling smoke, searching for the fire, not finding it and wondering what was wrong with me.

    I adopted the cat who is in bed with me now. Cats are beautiful and adorable creatures and there are zillions of them on the planet. I would love to have a dog but it would upset her, so I am not going to get a dog while she is alive. I would never even think of abandoning her for another cat. I keep my agreements.

    One of the most important things I have learned is that I am not the person Traitor Ex says I am.

  • I learned
    1. About disordered people. How to identify them. How to look past appearances. How to handle them. Prior to this, I had no idea about the different types of dysfunctional marriages
    2. How to control my emotions. How to not let them be used against you.
    3. About how corrupt lawyers are. And how they run the country. (How come they can bill 400 to 509 per hour for reviewing notes they already reviewed yet healthcare workers often times with same levels of education do not get paid for necessary and mandated documentation.
    4. For me – how supportive my friends and family was.
    5. How relationships need to be evaluated by “is this acceptable to me?” And if not you should end it. Doesn’t have to be proof of cheating. Tons of other reasons to end something that doesn’t work for you. There is no such thing as unconditional love (except with your children)

    • OMG, so true. That was one of the whiney things FW said to me: “I just want unconditional love!” Whhaaaaaaaaa!! Are you fucken serious? You cheat on me (repeatedly) and expect me to keep loving you? What are you, 6?

    • Definitely! I was so lonely even though the fuckwit slept in the same bed. After I divorced him, I was lonely at first only because I was used to noise and movement in the house. After a while of living alone, once I got used to being by myself, I found so much peace because I didn’t have anybody mindfucking me.

    • Very true. When I was married, I knew that I was not free to find love even if I ran into the perfect partner around a corner. I envied single women who at least had the possibility of finding love. I felt like a nun locked in a cloister with neither love nor freedom.

  • I learned that sacrificing or de prioritizing your own – well in my case basically my entire self – self care, self development, self-love and of course all your gut instincts and intuition for a relationship ( husband) should not be what it takes to maintain the relationship.

    There is a way to develop yourself as a human being and take care of yourself and still be in a relationship with another human being,
    you just have to be with an emotionally healthy person.

    All my self sacrifice got me was greater vulnerability and dependency on an abusive person, who weaponized everything that I gave to them and used it against me. Including as a reason to cheat. Surprise he got is that our friends and our children saw my integrity and I maintain those relationships when he doesn’t

    Take care of yourself

  • I’ve learned, from this and more, that the world is full to bursting with suffering. There are people who are exactly as happy as they appear, but they generally have no idea what extraordinary and fragile luck their lives are based on. And I’ve learned that laughter is the result of suffering as often or more often than it’s the result of happiness. And that laughter is not enough reward, but it’s rewarding when it comes. And I’ve learned that growing up with the belief that people are basically good has made me too trusting and too capable of putting up with my own suffering, thinking it’s normal. And lastly, I’ve learned that however bad I think people are (i.e., my ex is), there are always lower, baser, more appalling levels to go. Even after a divorce.

    I sure am in a chipper mood! But hey, you asked! 🙂

  • -I learned that there are people who will thrive on and enjoy your pain.
    -I learned that as Chumps we are naturally generous, kind, loyal, and honest people. Our generosity will be interpreted as weakness and co-dependency.
    -I learned that no matter what, you must always have your own money set aside and a roof over your head in your name only.
    -I learned that the people you thought you could trust were the ones you couldn’t and the people you least expected were the authentic friends/family.
    -I learned that compassion fatigue is a hard core truth – you can alienate yourself by being too sad and it triggers a defense mechanism in others to stay away – because you are draining their joy.
    -I learned how to cry those blood tears at night and be a smiling strong person in the day.
    -I learned that life is too serious to take seriously.
    -I learned that the vicious cycle of fkwits and OW’s being born never ends – generation after generation
    -I learned sadly that human nature has an huge ugly side – I always believed people were basically good however I have come to believe that’s not true. A minority of people ( like Chumps) are good to their core but the majority are selfish, entitled and narcissist. If the mantra had been “ You wear a mask to protect yourself” from day one of the pandemic there would have been must less violence and more compliance. People are too selfish to “ wear a mask to protect others”
    -I learned how to laugh again – and that’s thanks to Chump Lady and Chump Nation.
    – Thank you Chump Nation!

  • In so many ways, this experience humbled me. I learned so much:
    1. My self-esteem was nil or less at times. Because of this I devalued myself, didn’t decide to explore dating at a young age and didn’t really build any self worth which allowed me to choose a partner from a place of insecurity not personal strength.
    2. I react to many outside stressors from the point of the kid who was hurt when he was young. This is no excuse for any of my behavior as a person but I could have been a better husband if I had identified my own behavioral traits first.
    3. My wants and needs are important. I sacrificed many, many years of my 20’s and 30’s to her education. Education is not a bad thing at all (far from it), but in the process, I did not take advantage of the ability to become a fuller person, instead I sacrificed careers, jobs, moved us multiple times and kept a home so she could have her life. I became of service, not a partner.
    4. We need to teach for personalities and ways to see problems in them. Although I had been through traumatic experiences before I was in my teens with narcissistic personalities, I didn’t learn the lesson. We need to teach out dangerous personality types, people need to know.
    5. I wasn’t a great partner. Look, I wasn’t. It doesn’t let her off of the hook for her choosing to cheat and blow up a marriage but I wasn’t the greatest partner.
    6. You can be more self-centered. I needed to be far more in terms of actually seeing how poor the relationship was around me and that I needed more and should have called it quits in 2007 or 2008 but didn’t due to fear. It is OK to be more self-centered to say I want what I want and I will not tolerate other behaviors.
    7. My co-dependant traits are a learned set of behaviors and since I know about them and am aware of them, I can make better decisions. Not that I always do but I can do better.
    8. In some ways, what I wanted was the security I didn’t have from a chaotic childhood. This should never has been projected into a relationship, that was not her job, it was and still is mine to create.
    9. The brain fog still exists. I can still have problems concentrating and the flight, fight or freeze feeling is still well overdeveloped.
    10. Grace exists. We all have to accept it and extend it when needed. The world does exist in shades or gray at times and we have to live with it which is where grace is the best tool.
    11. I am only responsible for how I feel, not others. This has been exceptionally hard for me but I am getting better at this principal.
    12. Life actually does get better! I can laugh, love, satisfy, be satisfied, be vulnerable and just be with a woman I love again. I never thought this would happen.

    If it was not for this site and for this community, I would not have made it through this process. 5 and 1/2 years ago I was desperately looking for someone to relate and I came upon this community, it was a bit different at the time, but it was the best thing. When the process is done you do not become what you were, you become something else and different and I believe better.

    • I’ve learned that trying to live by the golden rule doesn’t guarantee that others will see and value your decency and match it.
      Ive learned how much we project our values onto other people and fill in the gaps in their behaviour with those values and how instead we need to look at actions not words.
      I’ve learned that people can have all the potential in the world but its up to them to make the effort to actualise it, you can’t do it for them.
      I learned that my childhood and FOO dynamics made me particularly (but sadly not very uniquely) vulnerable to and tolerant of people who like to take, and made me think that just loving someone enough would be what it took to fix everything and change a dynamic that was never about me into some badge to prove my own worthiness.
      That when some people reject you and express disappointment in you it’s a good thing, it means you’ve dodged a bullet and that gaining a certain types approval is the ticket on a train you seriously don’t want to ride.
      That my need to be loved has made me accept crappy subpar behaviour and having expectations for others and yourself is a great way to weed out lazy entitled people who would jump on your rowboat and just go along for the ride.,

      • I learned that while expressing anger not sadness will get you a certain distance in getting shot of a cheater, sooner or later it is a maladaptive strategy.
        I’ve learned that while leaving a cheater is ballsy, the gaining a life takes a willingness to unpack that shit that lead you to picking and tolerating a dysfunctional person and relationship dynamic is hard slog, but until you fix your picker you are doomed to slight variations on Groundhog Day.

    • Wow, especially number 8 hit me like a brick. I had never thought of that–although I knew my family was beyond dysfunctional. My ex was so ‘normal’ (in so many ways) and that really sealed the deal for me. I felt safe. Hah!

  • I learned people are even shittier than I thought. Your own so-called loved ones stab you in the back and don’t care about your pain. I knew people sucked before, but I thought I could avoid the suckiest ones. What I now know is that crap people are the majority, that they hide their true selves from you in order to use you, and there is no way of avoiding them but to hide from the world.

    I also learned I can’t fix the things I thought that with enough effort and care, I could fix. I’ve had to come to terms with how powerless I am over anything but myself. During the worst of my PTSD, I also had to learn how it feels to be powerless over myself as well.

    I learned that if you want justice, you need to be as ruthless as the people who harmed you are. You won’t get it by heeding the better angels of your nature. This is the saddest thing of all to me. I don’t like being that way, and I reserve that side of me only for people I know to be utter crap. However distasteful, it is a neccessary skill to build. It just has to be used selectively and carefully.

  • 1) Trusting your gut when you feel off about someone the first time!
    2) people pleasing anyone but especially unpleaseable people sets you up for failure and heartache in the long run rather than a successful relationship.
    3) setting boundaries is healthy and healthy people have boundaries
    4) understanding how and when to set boundaries (especially with unhealthy people) and what that looks like in real time.
    5) how to identify red flags in others words and actions, then staying away/setting boundaries with people who exhibit those red flags.
    6) setting expectations for yourself of what you will and will not allow in your life from that point forward and following through on those expectations. Example: I will no longer surround myself with toxic people and I will only surround myself with healthy people. How I did this with toxic family members? I had an honest conversation with them telling them I loved them but I couldn’t handle their alcoholic rages anymore. When they get healthy then I would love to spend time with them. That was years ago….my brother went into AA, my dad quit drinking, and now I have healthy relationships with them.
    7) be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to grieve, heal, and grow. Do not rush it. It takes years to heal from this shitstorm of abuse.
    8) when you are ready be unapologetically yourself and wear your chumpness like a badge of honor! Share your story (to safe people) if/when needed. Don’t engage with unsafe people and be proud not to engage! Blow them off like the pieces of shit they are. (Best practice is gray rock when you blow them off). People see that kind of self respect and either think “Damn! I like this person….they are genuine and don’t put up with shit!” or “Fuck! This person see’s through my shit! I don’t want to be around them”. In essence, walk the walk and talk the talk. This is healthy and healthy people gravitate toward other healthy people.
    9) if you have kids, teach them about narcissism and how to act in age appropriate conversations. Do not sugar coat the abuse!!!! Do not sugar coat the shitty parent actions toward you or them!!!! Allow them space to grieve and be the safe parent. For the last 9 yrs I’ve had age appropriate conversations with my now teenage kids and their emotional/mental well-being is so much more healthy than other kids dealing with the same shitty situations. They come to me for advise and talk through stuff about EVERYTHING! They know I’m the safe parent and they can talk to me. They also know how not to treat other people as I’ve used their dad as a real life example, identifying red flags in others, setting boundaries, standing up for themselves, being independent, etc.
    10) CYA (COVER YOUR ASS) with your abuser and/or unhealthy people you have to engage with is the most thing you can do from now until the rest of your life. Document, document, document!!!!

  • What a great challenge! I’m 8 years out, divorced 6, 25 year marriage, blindsided by Dday, devalue & discard. XH is high wage earning diagnosed narcissist with borderline personality disorder- possibly a sociopath. 4 kids are all grown as of last month. I’m completely no contact and have built a great life— career never better, excellent health, finances in A+ status, wonderful relationships with my children, engaged for 2 years to a man who reciprocates and wants to be mutually monogamous and spend his life with me.
    What didn’t I learn from the last 8 years?! Seriously. Here are highlights:
    1) I cannot make anyone do or feel anything — their thoughts cause their feelings and actions;
    2) integrity matters more than any other quality;
    3) disordered people are highly manipulative and have three general channels: charm, self pity, rage— all are clues;
    4) Disordered people generally get worse with age—and they do not change their essential selfish (entitled) character through therapy or self help;
    5) keeping focus on me and my need for abuse-free relationships restores my agency;
    6) if I’m upset in a relationship it’s important information about the other person — there is nothing wrong with me — my brain is signaling that the person is not safe – to get away from them;
    7) my parents were disordered and abused me— I normalized being abused from birth — but I know that now and can watch for abusers and their charm and get away — I can take great care of myself; and
    8) “leaving” through getting away physically and legally and emotionally through no contact with the abusers is the only path to peace.

    Thank you Tracy!!!!!! I appreciate you beyond words. You changed my life.

  • Top 5 Things I Learned From Being Chumped:
    1. I only control me.
    2. Intelligence does not indicate character.
    3. Shared history means nothing without shared values.
    4. Failure is the best teacher.
    5. Scars are beautiful.

  • I learned that I’m not bitter, I’m salty.

    And, I am goddamn PROUD to call myself salty.

    All I hear is “Why are you so bitter?” I heard it from her, I heard it from friends, I heard it from family. Every time CL posts something about some bullshit RIC article, she gets it… It’s 9 and 5 years since my D-days, and I still get it on occasion. (Yes, twice, yes with the same fuckwit.)

    I got really fucking tired of saying:

    “Because you fucking hurt me!”
    “Because you fucking betrayed me!”
    “How many fucking times do I need to explain this to you?!?!?”
    “Because I read your fucking email and will have that visual in my head forever!”
    “Because you’re a lying, disloyal, cheating piece of shit, and I have to deal with it now.”
    “What kind of fucking monster are you that you could even be CAPABLE of that level of emotional savagery?”
    “Why SHOULDN’T I be bitter? Let’s start with that? Can you give me ANY actual reason?”

    Of course, it’s that reaction fuckwits are trying to provoke. Sure, they’d rather just be smug in the secret that they’re brutalizing you, but once it does come out, why not squeeze that container for every last kibble?

    And I’m convinced that the RIC is no different from the cheating fuckwits… My suspicion is that most of them ARE cheating fuckwits… They’re feeding people the same bullshit, same abuse, same mindfuckery, only they’re demanding $300 an hour to do it… The absolute GALL of demanding $300 an hour to convince you to WILLINGLY stick your head in the Mindfuck Blender makes me ill.

    Fuck. Them. With. A. Cactus! A cactus dipped in Tabasco sauce.

    I’m not bitter…

    I’m salty.

    Salty. Like Tears. My tears of pain from your betrayal. My tears of sadness for the loss of the life I imagined we would have. My tears of regret for ever marrying you. My tears of shame for feeling regret for marrying you. My tears of horror when I realized that I married garbage that doesn’t even know how to be human. My tears of pain from knowing that I should leave you. And my tears of shame from admitting that I may not be strong enough to do it, and may need help.

    Salty. Like Tears. My children’s tears when one of them caught you making out with sparkledick in our kitchen. My children’s tears when I had to tell them that mommy and daddy won’t be living together anymore because mommy chose to be with someone that isn’t daddy. My children’s tears when they hear me crying in my room at night because I’m trying to cope with the trauma you inflicted on us, and they don’t know what to do for me. My children’s tears when they realized that you used them to hurt me and you weren’t who they thought you were. My children’s tears when they realized, just like I did, that you were a Barbed Wire Monkey.

    Salty. Like Blood. My blood that is now boiling with rage. Your blood that I am imagining spraying all over the lawn with a wood chipper. Your blood that flows in the veins of my children and my blood that I can only hope counteracts it so they don’t end up like you.

    Salty. Like Sweat. My sweat. My sweat that I’m going to have to put into the efforts of leaving you, moving, divorcing you, carrying for my children without your lazy ass, providing for them because you only care about yourself, and raising them to be good people in spite of the shitty example you have, and will forever, set. My sweat from the effort of having to deal with your bullshit until my children were of sufficient age where I didn’t have to see you or talk to you ever again.

    And lastly.

    Salty. Like tears. My tears of joy that I cried when I finally realized that I was actually happy again, safe and secure, and you could never hurt me, or my children, again.

    I’m not bitter.

    I’m Salty.

  • I learned that my fuckwits FOO was all a lie. I had given him so many breaks for his behavior because he (according to him) had such a terrible childhood and had issues. I learned my gut was right all along. 40 years later I got my proof that I was not crazy and our entire marriage had been a lie. If you are married to a lier your entire marriage is a lie. I learned that I was a strong intelligent woman and that life really is better when you leave a cheater. The one thing above all else that I learned was to believe CL and CN and don’t try to think your situation is different. Cheaters really are all the same!

  • This experience has changed me forever. I have learnt that:
    *I was fucking naive to believe that the person whom I loved and trusted the most would reciprocate. Wrong! He back-stabbed me over and over.
    *I believed that I would fall apart without him. I have not. All the love I had for him has disappeared because the person I loved NEVER existed.
    *I believed that I somehow caused him to cheat. I did not!
    *I believed that he would come to his senses and stop if he cared about me since he saw how devastated I was. He didn’t give a fucking shit. All he cared about was his next conquest, his dick and his desires.
    * I believed that I could change him. Presumptuous of me!!
    *I learnt that they never ever tell the truth. They are MF liars who care about saving their asses. Your pain and your need to know what the fuck they were doing behind your back mean jackshit.
    They will rather, quite easily and without a conscience, make you believe that you are fucking mad. The mother of their children! Sick fucking cunts all of them.
    *I have learnt exactly how much he despises me for imposing consequences, that he believes outweigh his behavior.No self-awareness!!! Fucking fucked up low life creep. 🤮

    • *I learnt that they never ever tell the truth.

      I learned better reactions when confronted with evidence of hard-to-process lies. I’m no longer immobile with blank incomprehension, and then forget, going forward as if nothing happened. I play along and find some other pretext to disengage.

      My Ex had fabricated a life history which we supposedly emotionally-bonded over. He didn’t make up some obvious fantastic over-achievement. Instead he made up his reaction to bullying treatment, and incidents which showed he had values similar to mine.

      Other red flags I failed to grasp because they were too outrageous? Crazy maniacs with a “god complex” exist outside movies. He was angry when some Christians didn’t praise him more for finding some lost item, because they said “Praise Jesus” rather than make more of him. I thought to myself, “Good grief, of course that group will react that way, and watch out how you sound here, who you’re comparing yourself to, like you deserve that kind of attention.” I forgot it like some embarrassing social gaffe, but of course I eventually realized that he really did think that much of himself, that he deserved “worshipful” attention and was full of wrath when he didn’t get it. I had too much self doubt to credit that interpretation at first. He seemed normal most of the time. Let’s just say, I never handwaved incomprehensible stuff like that again.

  • I learned that humour really is the best medicine. That started here.

    I learned to trust my intuition.

    I learned to go within, and found my spiritual path, and my gifts. Gifts that had been shrouded from coddling angry men my entire life, wanting to be accepted by them, never succeeding.

    No expectations. No disappointments.

    Truth without ego. Love without condition. It’s a beautiful place to be. But only when you realise that the only person we can truly love without conditions is ourself. Even loving our kids comes with conditions. That was my mightiest discovery for sure.

  • I’ve actually learned a lot.

    I’ve learned that lying is NEVER successful, much less ethical, and if anyone ever lies to me about anything other than a surprise birthday present, that person is OUT of my life.

    I’ve learned that the world is full of people who themselves want to find friends, and these people are easy to find. And, friends are the most important things to have and keep, especially when you’re growing old. Just go for a morning walk and say “hello” to someone, and see the reaction. Find someone who’s walking a dog.

    You can’t survive a divorce, or a post-divorce, without friends.

    If your cheating spouse puts your friends down — that’s a sign.

    I’ve learned that people who want to abuse you, first need to control you. People who want to control you, will start by taking away your power of self-reliance. If your husband earns far more than you do and convinces you to accept a level of debt you could never afford on your own … that’s him controlling your finances now, because in divorce that debt is split 50/50 and that means one of you can’t afford it.

    I’ve learned that the longer an assumed narrative has been around, the less likely it is that anyone has recently given serious thought to whether or not it’s even remotely accurate. For example, the narrative that men who enjoy sex with men have no choice other than to enter into heterosexual marriages and then lie to their wives about it: it hasn’t been true for a very long time. The narrative that men cheat because their wives are sexless harridans: hasn’t been true in my lifetime, if ever. The narrative that “what they don’t know won’t hurt them”. The narrative that women contrive to become pregnant.

    Personal fave, thanks to the Judge Hank Goldberg: that when a married man spends community funds on prostitutes, it’s “no different than if he were out playing golf.”

    I’ve learned that confidentiality and nondisparagement clauses in divorce agreements protect abusers and compromise their victims. Luckliy for me, I learned that reading here, so I didn’t make that mistake for myself.

    • On the judge’s statement — Our legal system is broken.

      Here is something I don’t know but would like to learn: if marriage is a contract where I can get royally screwed like this (e.g., he screws around with vows and funds but now I have to pay up), where were the terms spelled out? Because the only terms I remember were our vows and I kept them. FW did not.

  • I’ve learned that the best relationship in life is the one you have with yourself. You aren’t responsible for how your partner feels when they don’t feel good on the inside. I didn’t pay much attention to his family of origin issues and that was a mistake – his father cheated on his mom and they divorced and dad wasn’t around until later in life. I figured this gave me a superpower of well he’ll never cheat on me because he saw what his mom experienced. I’ve learned about narcissism and sociopathy – I had never learned much about either until after Dday and a lightbulb went off. I’ve learned that having a great therapist helps avoid burning out your friends and family with your grief. I learned how lazy my ex-H was with minor house projects. We had 3 bathrooms, but one needed a shower area tiled. In 5 years, he never got around to addressing it so once we got divorced, I picked out the tile and hired a tile guy to install. I also painted and hired a handyman to replace closet doors, light fixtures, etc. & sold the house for a nice profit. I’m enjoying renovating a new house, and spending time with my kids, family, and friends. Dating isn’t much of a priority to me. I’ve casually dated, and if someone comes into my life to compliment it great but if not oh well. I’m done being a wife appliance.

  • I learned that (1) to trust my gut. It was never wrong and if it was my intuition vs his words, my intuition always won. (2) Judge actions over words. I realize in hindsight that pre-chumpdon, I was way too swayed by what people said versus what they did. That has changed.

  • I learned, and it has served me WELL dating and moving on, that I NEVER want to feel the feeling again of someone setlling for me or secretly thinking I am not good enough or need to dance like a little grinder monkey for their coins of validation. Be with me with enthusiasm, regardless if the realtionship is serious or casual, or GTFO.

    As RTJ Says:
    You say that you don’t love me (ayy)
    I’m guessing I’ma be okay
    You say that you don’t feel me now
    I feel like I’ma live somehow

  • I agree with most of these gems and will add that I learned
    1. how much I was propping him up. Surprisingly, my family life including special events and random get together carried on without a hitch. He just wasn’t and isn’t there. I wasn’t aware of how little he did to plan, organize and was me. I felt no additional burden. Also
    2. my sons have exponentially grown. His presence and lack of success oppressed them, almost like they didn’t want to be better than him. Now that he violated their trust, they moved on to build a better life for themselves. Hugs!

  • I finally learned that his fuck-ups are his to sort out. The chaos he causes – yep, that’s on him! It’s not my responsibility to run behind him and try to clean up his mess (like I did for SO MANY F….ING YEARS)! Once he screwed up and I told him to knock himself out cleaning it up, it was so, so liberating! Wonder how Schmoopie’s enjoying living with that and what all he’s blaming everything on now that he’s back in his home country where he speaks the language fluently!

  • A lot about myself and people in general. I feel like George at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life, a sense of euphoria has overtaken me, I am becoming the diamond chump lady said I would be.

  • what i’ve learned?
    1. that i’m kinda naive, but i’ll take that over jaded and opportunistic
    2. that, aged 58, i’m fully grown up and rely on myself to get through. i can learn and grow
    3. that, at this age, i’m all i need to love myself
    4. that my X doesn’t have emotional capacity for much of life
    5. that i was married to a misogyny man who faked feminism
    6. that i’m the sane parent
    7. that i’m going to be okay. i mean, my X will cause grief, because that’s what he does, the fucker, as evidenced by latest threat to not pay spousal support. but i’ll be okay
    8. that my lawyer is working hard on my behalf
    9. that my kids KNOW who’s standing beside them in this life
    10. that i’m lucky to have gotten out of the marriage when i did, because it was going from bad to worse, and there was some seriously weird sexual fantasizing going on within my X’s head that i had NO IDEA ABOUT.
    11. that i forgive myself for picking a bad man. i mean, i was young and naive, but now i’m older and less naive

    PS misogyny man is a song by Annie Lennox, isn’t it? kidding

    • Yes I agree!! I thought my STBXH was a strong supporter of woman. He was not. He was devoted to his own sex life and used every strategy to keep himself and his one sided needs fulfilled. He actually feared woman but hated them. How?? I thought he saw me as an equal if not someone to adore. But it was almost 100%manipulation. This insight into his character was hard to believe. But it I didn’t escape his fantasy and abusive world, I might not be here. A very sensitive towards himself but not to others. His life was behind a mask and when that fell off, it got frightening. Thank you one and all for helping me see that. And for Tracy who is my mirror and my teacher

  • I’ve been well educated through this site as to what cheating is. I’ve written countless letters to media types hoping to educate them.
    I will never stop wishing that we will get our own version of the opposite of Esther .P. who will give talks and spread the word of how cheating actually happens, how the chump is abused during the affair and how there are so many horrible consequences for the families. I think if Tracy wanted that job she’d have it, but unfortunately for the world I don’t think she wants it.
    Grateful for this blog, and always hoping for an even bigger platform.
    The loosey goosey attitude people have towards romantic cheating (as opposed to other types of cheating) has got to stop.

    • Hi Zip. Per the platform issue, until quite recently, I had a full-time job AND ran this site. Which is like two full-time jobs. But now I’m back to the freelance life and hope to put myself out there more as CL and finally finish the second book. In the last couple months, I’ve started video interviews (more on that soon), was a podcast guest for OurPath, been interviewed by the BBC, and Monday I’ll be on some Irish radio station (it’s a pre-record, will post when I know more). Oh, and there’s a TV thing that’s been shopped forever (which is apparently the nature of these things). And post-pandemic, I’m trying out more meet-ups (Boston and the UK in March). Per aspirations to be the anti-EP — I do my best. But I didn’t set out to be a media celebrity. I’m a writer and a cartoonist, which are pretty introverted activities, really. Per bigger platform, I’m naturally pretty squeamish about anyone who wants a platform to self-promote. Or anything that smacks of life coach. But being part of a movement to change a dumb, victim-blaming narrative? I’m down with that. Consider that it’s not as popular a message as the EPs of the world. They’re selling the cookie diet. Aka bullshit. And I’m a cold bucket of water.

      • I’m so excited to hear more of your voice. I teared up reading this. ❤️It will happen! Thank you for what you do. I may have gone bonkers not having a sane voice validating our stories.

      • CL you’d need to buy a bucket of grease for your hair and get some massive biceps as that seems to be a prerequisite for becoming a social media self help guru, especially for the narcissist content. Not sure how the curls would go with the grease.

    • Watching TV last night there was just a sentence or two about how this guy once dated a married woman and something about peaches… then new woman leaves him a box of fancy peaches. Honestly, I didn’t understand the whole peach thing (prob how I got chumped) but the cheating was so unnecessary to the point of the show.

  • I learned that there are people out there who are just selfish. Just flat-out not kind.

    Far from being bad news, this new-found knowledge REALLY helped me, because I was just driving myself crazy trying to figure out why I couldn’t connect with this other (selfish) person. My naiveté made me a delicious target for entitled people, and I had no idea.

    Now, I can walk away — pronto — knowing that the other person is not worth any investment. I am free from over-blaming myself. I really had no idea that some people are just … bad.

  • I’ve stopped giving so much of myself to others and have enforced personal boundaries so I’m not such an easy target to the wrong people.
    I’ve also learnt to turn towards looking after myself more now – thanks to reading CL.

  • I learned when someone tells you who they are, believe them (Maya Angelou).

    When I was getting ready to move I bought a rolltop desk from a thrift store. I turned it over to clean it and a piece of paper fell out with the following poem: “O joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not in vain, That morn shall tearless be.” I took it as a sign to me of hope for the future.

      • Thank you, Stephen and Stig, for your comment/reply which turned me on to this beautiful song, and this incredibly moving, sweet and humble rendition of it. I am an atheist but thanks to early exposure to Bach, Caravaggio and so many others I have always felt free to experience joy and wonder through art inspired by religious faith and devoted to deities (some of whom I’ve never heard of) without feeling like an interloper. I’ve sent this link (along with backstory of Stephen’s desk and the beautiful gift it offered up to him upon being upended, and your reply) to three people already. If I were an actress preparing to play the role of a woman who desperately needs mood stabilizers, I can’t think of a better place to come than CL. I read the posts and the comments and one minute I am giddy from laughter; then I scroll down a few inches and find myself moved to tears and looking like Alice Cooper. This is a poignant and dehydrating place.

    • that’s the hymn “O love that will not let me go”. I’m no longer religious, but I admit I still love that hymn.

  • I also learned about why I try so hard to be liked and to feel loved. is a lot of FOO stuff that I never quite got until now. I am a Boomer. We were raised by people who survived WWII and had to start from scratch with everything to build a life. The push was to succeed materially. So many changes in our society. For me the most significant was the women’s movement where I wanted to have a career, to be in the board room, to be making decisions because I could. My ex supported that and got very comfortable letting me support the family and his hobbies. At some point he realized half of our savings was his and he could live quite nicely on that-he didn’t need to live with me anymore – he just needed a divorce and the money. Maybe schmoopie suggested that to him and he ran with it. I was still believing in marriage and family for know the live by your vows thing..silly me. I don’t regret my decisions about my marriage or divorce. I am now looking forward to the final 20 or so yrs of life and wondering what to do that will be as meaningful as the first two-thirds.

    • “I am now looking forward to the final 20 or so yrs of life and wondering what to do that will be as meaningful as the first two-thirds.”

      I’m in the same position. I recently saw that referred to as an “encore career” and quite liked that formulation.

    • “I am now looking forward to the final 20 or so yrs of life and wondering what to do that will be as meaningful as the first two-thirds.”

      I intend to loaf as much as possible. I worked ferociously all my life and took care of everybody. That was meaningful and I don’t regret it, but I need a break. I take care of my disabled daughter and my elderly dogs. That’s quite enough to keep me busy. So I’m not taking on anything too time or energy consuming. I have started to get into art now that I have the time.
      You’ll figure out what’s next for you, Thrive. You can do things you never had time for while you were stuck catering to a fuckwit.

  • I learned that my value is something that can’t be taken away or given to me by someone else, it’s always present.

  • I learned that when you start to set boundaries and advocate for yourself people who are using you for their own means will either get nasty or get out. Your agency is a threat to them as they only see you as a means to their own ends.

    I actually started realizing this before all the horrible things came to light about STBX double life. In the last 5 years I started to cut off contact with two very toxic friends. One of them was an alleged “bestie” who couldn’t even bother to send a card or make a phone call when my mother died.

    When STBX set everything on fire, he would bring these two friendships up a lot as examples of why I was such a horrible person. Over and over again I stuck my ground and explained why they weren’t healthy friendships. I realize now that stbx was using it to try to make me feel bad and put me in my place. Also it was a warning siren to him that I wasn’t putting up with people’s b******* anymore. By breaking off those friendships I was sending a clear signal that I recognized manipulative behavior and was not going to welcome it in my life anymore.

  • Why we need to keep educating people:
    Cynthia Loyst is a popular and likeable talk show host on “the Social’ here in Canada… she just defended Gerard Piqué, because… and I’m paraphrasing, “we don’t know what went on in the marriage, she was traveling, maybe she didn’t want to go for therapy, maybe he just fell out of love, things happen.”
    She also pulled up an old quote from Shakira (when things were good in their marriage ) singing
    Gerard Piqué‘s praises…. in order to make her point that maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy – because even Shakira thought it at some point.

    Ugh, talk about triggering…
    Thankfully she was booed,
    But she tries to give the impression that she’s very Buddhist and enlightened, and that people who don’t get her point of you are rigid, unenlightened right wing church ladies.

    • “maybe he just fell out of love, things happen.”

      That’s the b.s. my FW tried to sell me. As if people just “fall out of love” for no reason and that somehow compels them to cheat. Ridiculous. No, if they cheat, they never loved you. If they had, even the memory of that love would be enough to dictate that they wouldn’t do that to you.

      “But she tries to give the impression that she’s very Buddhist and enlightened, and that people who don’t get her point of you are rigid, unenlightened right wing church ladies.”

       Gross. What a douchebag.

      • Of course I meant ´point of view’ lol. It’s so upsetting because she’s generally intelligent, lovely, and quite the feminist. And, I know many otherwise intelligent people think like her.
        They were talking about him posting a picture of him with his very young OW to his instagram account.
        I really hope that society becomes enlightened as to the abuse that is cheating while I am still on this planet. It’s that whole « things happen, two consenting adults » viewpoint-
        without taking into account the abuse and trauma inflicted on the invested and unknowing partner… that really burns me up.
        And this is said on television, knowing you’re going to get booed. Imagine what the average person thinks who just keeps their thoughts to themselves.

  • I am still early in the process but I have learned a lot already:

    – Most cheaters will continue cheating, despite all the tears and promises after earlier Ddays. I know it’s obvious but that was what brought me here.
    – The most important question to ask myself is: “Is this relationship acceptable to me?” For emphasis: “What would I tell me kid if they were in the same kind of relationship?” I deserve better and settled for a jerk.
    – Its a cliche for very good reasons: actions speak louder than words. Pay attention to actions and ignore the words and watch how clear everything becomes.
    – Relatedly, no amount of mental health issues or childhood abuse can excuse the act of abusing another human being. He is responsible for his actions.
    – Boundaries are so very important and I have not been great at setting them in many regards. Work in progress. When I have set them lately and honored them — it’s amazing how well they work.
    – That I will be OK on my own – I already have more time and money with him gone. Man, he sucked it all out of me. I know I will be writing him a large check that he in no way deserves, but I will rebuild. And the time, god, he took up so much of my waking energy all day long.
    – Pay attention to red flags, especially lies. The truth is something I value and took for granted.
    – I have always been a single parent, just without the title. Being a single parent now is actually easier because I don’t have to listen to his self-serving, pious bullshit every day as if he knows how to parent.
    – I will never marry again, nor comingle finances ever again. I remembered that I never really had a strong desire to marry him in the first place (was happy living together), but ended up doing it anyway. I need to untangle my own skein on this one further to figure out how that happened. I do know that I was distracted by another family crisis when we actually did get married but I cannot ever let that happen again.
    – Good friends and family are worth their weight in gold. He was really trying to drive a wedge between me and my people the last couple of years (very slowly and insidiously).
    – Cheating was the straw that broke the camel’s back but he had many, many other unacceptable behaviors that I ignored for far too long.

    – I am not alone. thank you, Chump Nation.

    • Oh yes, the single parenting without the title.
      I had a counselor who told me flat-out: “You weren’t married with 2 kids. You just had 3 kids.”
      My actual kids are now grown, caring people. The ex never was.

    • Living together can also be a trap, in large part because of the commingling of finances (leases, mortgages) or the situation where one person is a “tenant” and won’t leave. Or steals your stuff on the way out the door. I can only speak for myself, but here is the single person’s financial holy trinity:
      * Have your own home, whether you own or rent, in your own name;
      * Have your own car (owned or leased) in your own name;
      * Have your own bank accounts and credit.

      I can add never let a romantic partner move in because they don’t have a place to live. And even if it’s a friend or relative, write up a lease with clear language and expectations of how long someone can stay and what they should contribute. And contribution #1 should be: that person has a job and paycheck before they move in.

  • I’ve learned after being chumped two times 32 years apart that there are many things about the love of your life that can change with a progressive diseases. I think both husbands love for me was strong in the beginning but as forces of life, children, home and work took effect they both went for the Peter Pan never will grow up story. The bailing if it got tough, the bailing if it was too easy, the bailing with the job promotions, and more attention, the loss of their centrality and needing to be more unselfish. None of that could happen if you never want to grow up. But I wanted to grow up and live a full and happy life but was dragged down by two men who only wanted to play full time and not face life as it was. I learned to trust myself and to gain strength within my own heart and mostly to turn to God and to other Chumps to gain the strength I lost being enmeshed in those marriages with two boys I assumed were men. But they were not.. I now love to be with me and I’m growing stronger everyday. This is 8 months past D-Day#2.

  • I learned that I am resilient, and strong. My betrayal was exposed at the same time my beloved mom’s dementia was bringing her near the end of her life. My high conflict divorce (all conflict on part of cheating Ex) took place at the same time my mom was on hospice. My mother died exactly one month to the day before the divorce was finalized.

    Those two years are a blur. I have very little recollection of day to day life during that time. Losing my mom to that dreaded disease is truly my biggest heartache in life. Losing my spouse to infidelity, and seeing everything I believed about my life and marriage and family destroyed was painful at the time.

    Five years out from divorce now. I can say in all honesty there is something very freeing about losing a big part of all that you valued, and realizing life does go on. I eventually sold the family home, as the size and maintenance felt like an anchor once the nest was emptied. It felt suffocating, like I was stuck in the carcass of my old life. My life looks nothing like I thought it would at this age, but I am at peace. I find things to be grateful for every day. I witness friends, miserable, stuck in unhappy marriages, or with unnecessary debt, all because they fear change. They might still have the big house, the decades long marriage, but I wouldn’t trade places with them for the world. While I am sad I didn’t succeed in modeling a lifetime healthy marriage to my daughters, I am proud I set the example of leaving an unhealthy relationship.

  • I’ve learned those unbelievable stories from women saying, “I didn’t know my husband was a serial killer, pedophile, or collector of body parts.” They’re true, those women were telling the truth.

  • I learned that I grew up to be naive and trusting. Much too late, I learned that there are people who like to take advantage of others AND they are skilled at pretending to be helpful, friendly, generous, and loving. And that charming is a danger signal.

    I learned that lying and omitting facts are abusive actions. I learned that feeling confused is the first sign that I need to pay attention.

    I learned that I have to treat myself well and value myself as much as I value other people. This is not my default setting and it should be. My “factory settings” got messed up and I have to be aware of this.

    The longer I am no contact, the more the 36 years of marriage to a liar and cheater are apparent to me to be heinous actions on his part and I have no words for it. I’m sorry for my kids, to have had a father like that.

    I learned I have to accept that this permanently marked me and I don’t know all the ways yet.

    Tracy has great advice for navigating the situations that come up before, during, and after a divorce. I made use of grey rock, telling the facts to the kids without opinion, “cool, bummer, wow,” not using social media during the divorce, no contact, letting the kids navigate their own relationships with the XH, understanding that all these cheaters are pretty darn similar and it’s definitely him not me, and that my walks can sing, and that I gain a life that is much better when not being fooled and deceived. I am very comfortable with all people except the EH – there may be some trauma response there.

  • I feel you pain, Brit. I discovered that asshat had removed ALL THE BATTERIES when I went to check them after I booted him out. We had NO working smoke detectors. I hope he catches fire in his fuckwit den.

  • I’ve learned so much from CL and CN:
    1. Trust that they suck. The gory details don’t matter and I will never know them all anyway
    2. Trust my gut. If I’m feeling devalued and discarded, well then…
    3. Boundaries boundaries boundaries
    4. I am the sane parent, committed and capable
    5. The RIC cost me thousands in time and $$ and was a total waste.
    6. Get my ducks in a row
    7. Taking the high road and no contact beats a narcissistic mud fight any day of the week. More time for living my best life
    8. Tracy and Velvet Hammer are two of the wisest people I’ve ever read.
    9. The UBT is the greatest invention since compound interest

    • “The UBT is the greatest invention since compound interest”

      can I get a (very loud) “AMEN” to that, brothers and sisters?

  • I learnt that:
    – You never really know another person, no matter how long you are with them
    – Beware of projecting nice thoughts on people who are not talkative, in reality they may hate everyone and be bored
    – I can be completely blind, the person I live with had a hidden adventurous life in Russia and I suspected nothing
    – Someone who is unkind to everybody will one day turn against you
    – Women who haven’t been cheated on truly believe that they are better than you
    – If you lived 15 good years with someone, and then during the following 5 years he cheats, leaves and die, no one will give you sympathy, the relationship is considered worthless, your grief is considered nonimportant
    – If peace, stability and creativity+productivity is what I want at this stage, living alone in my house is the best option. With all the guys I dated, I should admit now that I can never have peace of mind while in a relationship.
    – You can train your mind to eliminate negative thoughts (and the anxiety that goes with it)
    – The biggest part of the pain came from what I was telling myself internally, and I didn’t even realize it
    – Intense work, scientific or artistic, put me in a state of flow where I no longer feel emotions

    • I feel like I’m reading my own comment. What a strange moment. My FW and I were also together for 16 years, was not talkative because he hated everyone, eventually turned against me after hating everyone, had a hidden life on Twitter surrounding the Ukraine Russia war, and his TWITTER schmoopie (not even irl) called ME toxic. Hope you’re doing okay, it sounds like we’ve been through almost the exact same mindfuck.

  • When DDay happened I believed I was weak. I thought I was at fault. I thought I wasn’t strong enough to fight for my son. I thought I’d die — from shame and from the trauma. I thought FW would at least be a good dad.

    I learned that I’m a fighter. I learned that FW is a real creepy dick. I learned it wasn’t my fault and I was being gaslighted. I learned about gaslighting. I learned that I was strong and had an army of friends and family who would stand up for me. I learned I could make mistakes along the way and still be ok. I learned there was nothing to be ashamed of and to share my story — that FW is the fucked up one. I learned that there is no reason to reconcile with a FW. I learned that FWs are even shittier to their kids and use them as pawns.

    And after I was through my divorce I found CL and learned even more. I love Chump Nation.

  • What I’ve learned? There are excellent stealth spy apps that will give you minute by minute screenshots of everything your cheater does on their phone or laptop, including recording calls. Helped me to be one step ahead of a very manipulative man. Best $50 I ever spent. BTW, this is an EXCELLENT Friday Challenge. Lot of wisdom to be gleaned in the comments.

  • I learned that I was f’ed up during my childhood. I learned that I didn’t have a sane parent. I learned that the emotional neglect and physical abuse I experienced as a child primed me to accept unacceptable behaviors from romantic partners, friends, co-workers, etc. I learned that admitting to the truth of my childhood trauma is necessary to regain control of my ability to make decisions instead of just letting life happen and dealing with the fallout. It’s a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, but I beleive I have the will, the strength, and the knowledge to live the rest of my life with peace and dignity.

    As far as any future relationships go, I accept that it is not my duty nor my right to try to save someone from the consequences of their actions. Getting into relationships with people who I thought needed fixing was a coping mechanism that allowed me to distract myself from my own deeply disturbing problems.

    The final chumping allowed me to break the cycle of shitty relationships and get on the road to becoming a fully functional adult.

    • … and also, it is easier to get someone to deliver wood for a few hundred bucks for the whole of winter than have a husband who goes out every other weekend, and comes back hours later covered in dirt with about 10 pieces of wood and half a dozen stories about how he nearly died (i suspect he probably sat in his car and watched porn before rubbing dirt on his cheeks). He is the hero this country needs.

  • So much.

    I of course learned that I could survive and pay my own bills. Turns out I was better at managing money than he was.

    That I could enjoy myself alone.

    He never thought I was a good housekeeper, and truthfully I am not a spit shiner. But, oddly my house got and stayed cleaner after he left. And bonus it didn’t smell like cigarettes.

    That some men value a decent person, and don’t base their whole life around their genitals.

    And so on.

  • I’ve learned the importance of friends and how lucky I am to have such a diverse group of amazing people in my life.
    Each in their own way has contributed to the rebuilding of my life when I thought I had no way of picking myself up after my ex walked out. Forever grateful for my friends.
    I am 46 and in my final year of a university degree studying a bachelor of psychology, and I am exploring three different options for future study.
    I have a love of learning, and as a result I now work with teenagers in a high school and I absolutely love it. I would never have had the confidence to do these things if I was still with my ex, and I financially better off without him!
    He really did me a favor by leaving…..just don’t tell him that!

  • I have learned that when I am driven to ask strangers on the internet, my deranged mother, my aloof sister, my old mooch friend from work, the poor woman checking me out at Dunking Donuts. ( Shamefully I have done this) ….if my partner’s behavior is “ok”……***when I am jonesing like an addict for someone to “analyze” a partner’s behavior for me or listen to me obsess over the same issues ad nauseum ***…it’s time to fly.

    It was my mind, taking her fist and knocking on my forehead like a windshield: “Hello? This person does not add up! You are frantically searching for evidence from strangers that we, your brain and 5 senses, are collating and yelling at you to gear up and flee or fight this dangerous predator!”

  • I learned that *my* gut instincts are just as valuable as *other people’s* red flags, maybe more. My gut instincts are frequently vague, nuanced, something I can’t quite put a finger on. I usually experience them before I observe red flags. As others have mentioned, trusting gut instinct to turn down a date with someone who displays no red flags can have surprising results.

  • Biggest lesson: It wasn’t my fault, and I’m more capable than I thought.

    Every one of my cheaters have since run their life into the ground. According to the grapevine, one of them was just lamenting this week that his life has been “a living hell” – losing jobs, family breakups, his wife hates him, etc. He’s in his 50s and still driving for Uber. This is the sociopath who stepped over my sobbing body and waltzed out the door saying he never loved me and I wasn’t good enough for him.

    In the decade since he left, I’ve paid off all my debts, gone from waiting tables to moving up the ladder of a successful corporate career, built up a net worth, have a wonderful inner circle of family and friends, and am genuinely thriving.

    He hasn’t changed at all: Still lazy and broke with no career to speak of, still a loser everybody rolls their eyes at when he opens his mouth. I am amazed at a narcissist’s ability to waste an entire decade and end up in the exact same place, completely unchanged.

    I leveled up in every way without him, so clearly I was never the problem. Turns out he got things backward: HE was never good enough for ME.

  • I’m a bit like a favorite cat I once had. My parents pressured me to get a pet to keep me company when I left home and I ended up with this Persian cat who was like super adventure dude. Even adverse experiences would enliven him. I lived in the city so he had to be housebound but, when he was still tiny, he’d somehow get out through the balcony. Then you’d see him a few days later casually trotting back home on the sidewalk like he was returning from Vegas with wadded up bills and cigar in his mouth. He’d get agitated when I packed for trips, knowing he’d be stuck in the kitty shelter for a week. He’d howl and splay to keep from getting stuffed in the carrier, would yowl when I left him there. But when I came back, he’d be puffed up and perky like it was all a big gas.

    Being psychologically abused in a marriage isn’t a gas but the experience is loaded with data about the dark side of human nature and abnormal psych and the rest. All of it has wider applications to understand the world, politics, power or any play by Shakespeare. I don’t regret learning these things. They actually fire me up. I have a quote from Thomas Hardy hanging on the wall that says, “If a way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst.” I think that’s true for everything. No one can help anyone else through adversity if they avoid looking into the abyss. I can’t regret how these experiences form “bonding points” with like minds and how encounters with people like this end up being epic gab fests where we talk so fast we bite each other and laugh our brains out. I don’t regret how quickly I catch on to political schemes and strategies in global politics just because I’ve witnessed the interpersonal equivalents.

    At the same time, like I said in another comment, I don’t believe in “thanking” adversity or evil people for imparting wisdom. Screw that. I wouldn’t wish these kinds of traumatic “learning experiences” on mine enemy’s dog. Some people don’t survive these experiences and children get harmed in the process. If learning were the goal, it would never be worth the human cost of it and there’s no hell deep enough for those who serve up these kinds of “lessons.” I would prefer everyone learned these things from books. But, when it comes to things like interpersonal evil, sometimes the information and warnings aren’t readily available if you’re not looking for them and, to make things more difficult, the air waves and web are packed with disinformation, minimizations, whitewashing and spin. Unless you’re a grad student in criminology or were recently burned yourself, it’s not a typical pastime to weed through it all and weigh the arguments. And sometimes the ideas, warnings and observations haven’t even been published yet. So some of us are going to get the up-close, personalized kind of “education.”

    I don’t have a time machine and tend to avoid wallowing in regret so here I am. But as long as I’m here, I’m a little danger kitty: “There’s some shit to get into here, some shit to shake up.” That said, I think I have enough to chew on for a lifetime so no more first-hand “tutorials” for me, thanks.

  • I learned just how much my own dysfunctional father programmed me to welcome objectification and accept abusive behavior as normal. That deep down programming led me to choose very unhealthy relationships and blame myself for all the problems. I am working to re-program myself.

    I learned that I will absolutely do the hardest things to protect and defend my kids.

  • Unfortunately, I’ve learned that FW is not unique in being able to lie to my face without a hint of a tell. So smooth, not a blink, not a twitch, not a brief stutter or hesitation, no loss of eye contact, nothing to give even the slightest clue that he’s lying. As I’ve gone through life since D-day I’ve experienced that in so many other people in everyday situations. (Maybe I was just lucky before?) And I still fall for it almost every time. I just can’t wrap my head around there being so many unapologetic liars in the world. They’re everywhere!

    Sorry I can’t be more positive today. 😞

    • Are you trying to develop a formula or FW identification system? I ask because I’m trying to do just that. That could be another Friday challenge. How have we re-calibrated our pickers to detect subatomic FW particles in the atmosphere and what cues have we identified in people as red flags, etc.?

    • DrChump…this is perfect….you never really know anyone. How true. The man I thought was my biggest supporter in life was actually my assassin. How sad (still not at meh). He stole years from me (fertility years and then when I couldn’t conceive he found an alternative uterus).

      My late father also told me ‘Never expect anything from anybody in this world. Get out there are just rely on yourself’

  • I learned so much! I learned that I am allowed to have boundaries. Never again will I prioritize someone who doesn’t return the effort! It applies with stunning results to the ex, the family of origin, friends, even colleagues. But boundaries takes tremendous effort to maintain. Two years out and I am still exhausted. I learned it gets better and yes indeed. Positive results are starting to show. Thank you CL for the sage advice and daily booster 😘

  • I learned that when you boil down to it marriage and divorce are just too expensive to ever be considered by me.
    My ex-wife got 65% of everything after a year long affair with a co-worker. The law here in Australia doesn’t care about who is at fault. I had to pay her out, I was lucky that I was able to financially somewhat recover – but I am now 51 years old : There is no way I could afford to repeat this process. I am paying her ongoing child support, and working my butt off, whilst she is underemployed. The law here has her trapped – If she would work more, she would get less from me and also less subsidies from the government. There is no financial incentive for her to work more, which is the consequence of a crazy system. As much as I would love to be in a relationship, I don’t think I can afford it.

  • I parent and love my kids better when I’m free from the shadow of hatred, belittlement, and contempt that my exFW cast on me.

  • I learned so much about my own strength. In the end the entire fiasco ended up leaving me with more confidence than I had experienced in years. Granted it’s taken a long time! But the trauma- bonded pick-me dancing fool I was is so far in the rear view that I can chuckle at her. There are still moments of anger but never doubt.

  • I learned to set boundaries. To never pay all the bills while spouse(ex) keeps all his money. If I would have assured that he would have paid at least half the bills. I would not have only $300.00 to my name. Not to put up with verbal abuse and never let anyone make a fool out of me again.

  • I’ve learned to master no contact. It took me 13 years and I endure daily texts from my ex husband that the devil himself wouldn’t type but I don’t reply.

    • Good job not replying. Whatever condition forces you to still recieve his evil texts – I hope it ends soon so you can heal more.

  • Empathy. That anyone can be conned. That anyone can have bad luck or tragedy or misfortune strike.

    I’m so grateful. I think I’ve come out a much better person who doesn’t tolerate victim blaming in any form

  • Love the quote. Never stop learning.

    I’m further out – Unambiguous D-days 2004, wreckonciliation (Read all the books! If I just work harder and make myself smaller…), then final D-day 2005. It was harrowing and divorce was a long, expensive battle, final in 2007 (25 years married, 2 kids). I realized later that there was way more going on that I hadn’t known – the puzzle pieces of ex’s inexplicable behavior formed solutions in my brain over time with no contact. Everyone I knew was still married to their original, caring spouse. That was long before this valuable website existed, so I felt really alone. But I did have a good counselor and my family (and my kids) were behind me. The lesson I learned back then was: I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be.

    Now certainly after such a horrible marriage the universe would be kind to me and I’d find someone who would be a real partner. Didn’t I deserve that as a good person? Everyone said – you’re so great, you’ll meet someone else! I tried dating a few years later in 2011 and met someone. Wound up working hard on a non-reciprocal relationship for several years, read books trying to understand him and his quirks, wondering what I could do better. Constantly untangling the skein. But the guy turned out to be a liar and a player. I found this website, and learned here that it was OK for me to ask if I was actually getting anything out of this relationship. CN lesson to learn: Is this relationship acceptable to ME? I’m in my 60s now and was raised to think of putting others first, not what’s in my best interest.

    After decades of feeling less-than, I have accepted that I’m absolutely fine (maybe menopause and the loss of hormones helped clear my head, LOL). My next lesson learned is that it is perfectly OK to be on your own and not coupled-up. It’s very freeing, in fact. No constantly trying to please and cater to someone else, no doing all the giving while he does the taking, no negotiation over everything/anything, etc. If you’re lucky enough to find a good someone who’s a caring, worthwhile partner, then that’s really great. Your life has turned out so well, and you deserve it! But for many of us that just won’t happen, and we need to be realistic and not keep thinking of the fairy tales internalized in our childhood stories or the happy couple endings in the movies that we all wished for. This may be how so many older women are catfished and lose their savings – they are caring and hopeful, yearning for love and attention. Lesson: Fill up your own life and learn things!

    It was surprising to find here that cheaters are so similar. I had absolutely no idea. If only I had known this back in 2004, I would have been stronger, seen through the gaslighting and improbable explanations, and saved myself so much indecisive waffling and angst. Learning through others’ stories is a huge benefit to chumps who find their way here.

    Carry on, chumps! Be strong. Break through the walls and work your way to the other side. There’s so much less stress over here. The peace is absolutely worth it, but it’s hard to see the other side when you are in the midst of it all. You can do it. Really – you can!

  • Here’s what I’ve learned so far (2years out)
    *I should keep my boundaries intact, but when I do, my “friends” disappear and coworkers start gossiping about me.
    *His disorderedness has nothing to do with me.
    *he always has great luck, and it only hurt myself to watch him for karma. It may not happen
    *when learning from others in workshops or therapy or here, keep what applies and let go of the rest.
    *sometimes doing the right thing does not result in anything positive.
    *wallow in regret only when you have nothing else to do
    *a lot of people have shit going on that you don’t see
    *jerks are everywhere and while some show it easily, I need to improve my jerk-spotting skills

  • I learned self-confidence. During the “treatment phase” of his “sex addiction,” I asked FW how he saw love. He didn’t respond at first because it would hurt me, he said. Finally, he produced a list of “What I am Looking For,” as if FW was shopping for a new chump. First on the list was being a Christian, which is funny since he’s Commandment-phobic. Second on the list was self-confidence. This bothered me too. Didn’t he know what the years of deception, porn and escorts did to my self-confidence? So, I researched self-confidence and there is a ton of contradictory fluff out there. But I figured out what it wasn’t, and told him, “A self-confident person doesn’t hurt innocent people, lie, commit adultery, break the law, or make money by dubious means. The way see it, the person with the most self-confidence in this nightmare is me!” He asked if I felt better after that. YES, I DO!

  • I learned that my unbridled compassion and mercy was highly exploitable. Being merciful and forgiving should not be my default state. It once was and I was a doormat. Now I have no tolerance for bullshit.

    Compassion and mercy are for those who have demonstrated good character. If your second chances turn into third, fourth, fifth chances, you are being exploited.

    You can’t reconcile with a cheater.

  • 2nd and last D-day, in the midst of a pandemic, August, 2020, 12 years after 1st D-day, 37 years married, I learned my husband was a bisexual, gaslighting, serial cheater. They do not change! Thanks so much to CL and CN, I learned, I had to pack my bags and leave a perfect life I thought I had. I spend, at least a month, in the fetal position, crying my eyes out, drinking myself to death. Now, two years out, I am happy and peaceful..I wish this for all newly chumped. it gets so much better, fuck em!!

  • The most important thing I learned was that *I* was the one who made our life good. FW was always going on and on about how he “carried” us. How I was lazy and incompetant. But the opposite was true. He said I was incapable of taking care of myself and that I would run to my mother or to another man to “mooch” off of them. He told me I was lazy, I was a shitty housekeeper, I couldn’t support myself, that no one liked me. After we split, my bank account grew, I got a promotion at work and a big raise, I paid off all my debts, my apartment was clean, and I had good (and real) friends. I was and have stayed single. FW was the one who couldn’t take care of himself, who ran to another woman so she could take care of him, FW was the one who couldn’t manage money and ended up broke, FW was the one whose house was a disaster, FW was the one who couldn’t survive on his own. He took his own life after schmoopie left him. I now solely support myself and my son. I just bought a house (all by myself!) that’s bigger and nicer than the house we shared, and I still have money in the bank.

    I’ve learned that I’m strong as fuck. I dragged myself out of despair and put myself back together after FW had all but crushed me (I had no self esteem, and felt worthless). I am smart. I am capable. I am a badass.

    I learned to be more particular with my friendships, and that most of my “friends” weren’t. I treasure the few good friends I have.

    I learned to trust my gut. EVERY suspicion I had turned out to be 100% true, but I let FW and myself talk me out of it for a very long time.

    I learned that I am not responsible for someone else’s emotions.

    I learned that I LOVE being single. I love sleeping alone in my own bed. I rarely slept well with FW. He was restless, snored, sweated, and got angry if I moved a muscle. He had sleep apnea that he refused to get treated and I’d stay awake worrying he was going to stop breathing. Now I sleep comfortably and deeply. My sheets stay clean. I don’t think I’ll have another romantic relationship. And if by some chance I do, I will never twist myself or make myself small to keep it. I learned that sex isn’t all that important to me, and it’s really nice not to be hounded about it all the time, or feel that I have to look a certain way or perform for someone.

    I learned that two parents/shared custody ISN’T always best for kids. My son is doing SO much better now that his dad is gone. It’s sad to say, but FW caused my son so much stress and anxiety. He would hide his emotions from FW.
    He would pretend to be interested in the things that FW wanted him to be into, even though my son didn’t really enjoy them. My son was also learning from his dad to disrespect women. Now my son is happy. We talk about why trust and honesty are important. Why we should be kind to each other. Why we should treat people with respect.

    I learned that I much prefer living my life with a positive outlook. FW was always negative, never satisfied, found something to ridicule or criticize about everyone. I prefer to be happy. I love finding beauty in small moments – a sunset, watching a hawk fly, listening to a favorite song. I love being able to enjoy my hobbies, or just read a book, without constant criticism. I love silence. FW liked socializing, city life, activities, movies, concerts, parties, fame, fortune, go go go. I bought a house in the countryside surrounded by open fields and prefer to stay at home with a cup of tea and a good book by the fireplace. I am content with a “small” life. FW called this a lack of ambition. I call it wonderful. I have no desire for noteriety or fame.

    I learned how nice it is to lead a drama free, peaceful, quiet life. Everything was a crisis to FW. He was always chasing something new and exciting, and was never content. I was always walking on eggshells and trying to prevent his rage and soothe his bad moods. Oh how lovely to be free. To take minor inconveniences in stride (traffic jams, something that needs repair, sick kid, whatever) and just…solve the problem.

    I’ve learned I don’t like to drink alcohol much. FW always wanted/needed a drink with everything. I drank because that’s just what we did. Since he left and since I’ve healed, I rarely drink. Maybe a glass of wine a week, if that.

    I learned that I have a big heart and care deeply. FW called me cold and unfeeling. But I’m the opposite. I’m just autistic, so I don’t always show it the way he thought I “should”.

    I learned that not only could I survive after being abused and ultimately chumped, I could THRIVE. I could never have imagined a life this good. Now I want to help other people see that there IS light at the end of the tunnel. If I can make it, anyone can.

  • I learned that I don’t need a man to survive.
    I learned that I can solve most house/yard problems if I’m willing to get qualified help for the hard stuff.
    I learned that self-efficacy and self-respect are more important to me than “what other people think.”

  • I’ve learned to prioritize my philosophy of personal integrity where I don’t let anybody jerk around with me. Especially when it’s the patriarchy and very especially when so many women live a life where people can jerk around with them and get away with it, or where their men try to jerk around with them and they try to plead with them to not go so hard on them **instead of grabbing their purse/Netflix password/ kids/her half of everything and fucking off**. Nobody should stay where you know you aren’t wanted, but merely tolerated. Immediately no.

  • I learnt a 51 year old woman can rebuild her career! I was 15 years out of the workforce and have fought my way back to being a Project Manager at 54 💪

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