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Got Triggers?

Hi Chump Lady,

Well, this week has seen an unusually high number of triggers. Although it was many years ago, I still have days where I’m consumed by the events of the past. My therapist believes that because I never got the answers I needed I have a bit of an obsession and can’t put it to rest.

Admittedly, I have to agree with her. I feel very badly for some of the members of CN who, in my opinion from reading their stories, had it way worse.

I often get these “trigger” days and recently started compiling a list of some of them. Then I wondered: What triggers others?

So as a Friday challenge suggestion I’d like to share triggers with the group. It might be therapeutic;  it might open a wound or two.

New York Nutbag


Dear New York Nutbag,

None of us get the answers. And we don’t need them. Really, you’ll make yourself completely bonkers if you predicate your healing on a liar telling you the whole sordid truth. This gives FWs a lot of power. Ooh, no, please I need to know do you have one love child or 14? Did you do it on a box? With a fox? Eating green eggs and ham?  Don’t give them the centrality. The goal is meh (indifference) which is achieved through no contact over time.

can’t put it to rest

Yes you can.

Look, I totally understand being gaslit out of your wits and going on a impassioned hunt for the truth — but in the early days, you need the truth (or as much of it as you can gather or stomach) to take informed ACTION. Like calling a divorce lawyer. Or divvying up assets. And, okay, to truly comprehend the depths of the betrayal. (See also “Trust That They Suck.”)

But once you’ve hit a tipping point, and have chosen your course of action — leaving — why continue to kick yourself in the teeth? Trust that they suck. Lean into the suck. Lay your burden down. TRUST it. Yep, nothing to work with. Unacceptable. Can’t go back. SUCK.


You make it sound so easy, Tracy.

No, it’s a bitch. Takes forever. It’s trauma. But as you wanted to talk about triggers, I just wanted to tease apart triggers — odd things still make you flinchy — versus Needing All the Answers, Must Replay This Shit. You don’t need answers from a FW and triggers fade. They really do! I am completely unmoved by Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Exist! See if I care!

Bully for you, Tracy. Some of us are the walked wounded over here.

The pain is finite. But I’m happy to discuss triggers as a Friday Challenge, even if the word “triggered” is triggering. It seems to have been appropriated by right-wing trolls. Which is a whole other discussion. What is it about pointing out an injustice, or source of emotional upset — that freaks cannot handle? Does vulnerability trigger them? Anyway…

Triggers. What raises your blood pressure, CN? And what do you do for it? EMDR? Kick boxing? A good walk around the block?

Lay it on me. And TGIF!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I used to have loads. Someone near me got a text. I went past a pub we used to go to. Someone mentions a band he’s worked with. At first, I needed all the answers. A wrote a 10,000 word timeline (in a week): a dissertation of deceit. Now it’s four years ago and I don’t have any triggers. It happened, I’m better off, whatever. I focus on my life now – which is amazing and so much better than what I had with FW – and there’s nothing else to it. It wasn’t love, it was an illusion, oh well! At least I am capable of pure love and all of that love in the relationship came from me. I can feel it again. He will not. He’s broken, return to sender! If ever the circumstances do pop into my head, it actually make me laugh at the absurdity of it, how I tried for so long. A ha silly me, I’d never do that now!

  • I’ve just hit 90 days no contact today, 5 months since D-day. It’s been a struggle. Everything is a trigger. Cycling round my beautiful city, London, I’m reminded of experiences FW and I shared over the past 10 years. But fuck it. I’m RECLAIMING ALL the beautiful places. Just started the process of buying a flat in the neighbourhood FW and I always fantasised about living in. Sadly for man-child (who always refused to take any financial responsibility), the assets were all mine, so he has to go back to renting a room in a flatshare at the age of 35…

    • Beautiful London! It is a city full of life and inspiration. I hope the city will help you get rid of all the triggers.
      I live in a very, very small city. There are only a few places you go and a few things you do. I could not go to my favorite places for a long time. I did not even want to take a walk in my neighborhood. I was triggered in my house all the time. I couln’t go out, I couldn’t stay in. Horrible times. But a couple of years after I left my ex, I have started reclaiming my favorite cafes and restaurants. It was scary at first but as time went by I even began to enjoy going to those places.I am still in the same house and I made it my own. I have much less triggers now, much less. I gives me great hope about the future.

    • Omg similar. Except I’m in the US. But at 35 he went to nothing and I got most of it.

    • I love that you stated you are reclaiming those places! That is a big thing that I had to learn. I will shy away from things, things I love, because it reminded me of FW. The one day I was like NO. I want that. I’m only a year out so it’s still taking time. But that’s a huge step. 🙂

  • -Womens lingerie
    -most of the hotels in town as I walk by
    -Seeing happy families
    -hearing about couples doing fun things
    -weddings/wedding rings

    This is getting better but I used to have such bad PTSD that I couldn’t:
    -watch TV
    -see a bank statement (how I discovered the cheating)
    -eat off the plates in our pantry

    And this week I was triggered because:
    -our daughter who lives with me turned 17. Her father sent her a weak text message and nothing more
    -she told me her father bought a house and if she comes to visit now she must accept the girlfriend because she’s very important to him

    This is from a man who cheated for all of our 25 years, stole money, won’t pay child support, got a good settlement from me and moved to a different city because, you know, I was mean to him and he deserved to start over.

    It gets better and then bad again. I hate that it has a hold on me too and I can’t wait until I feel like I don’t care what he did. But for now I feel really shafted despite moving on. We can do this!

    • When you have a child and they continue to hurt that child “getting over it” isn’t on the table. There’s co-existence and not letting FWs steal your joy.

      • I’m finding that pretty hard at the moment. When FWs are horrible to their children and you are up late at night drying their tears it feels like a never ending kick in the guts.

        • Oh gosh, I get this so much. I’ve told people what my FW did to me with his cheating and emotional abuse/abandonment was awful but seeing his narc behavior impact our 11 y.o. son is a bigger kick in the gut than anything. It makes it hard to really “get over it,” which is what everyone else around me wants to see and is frustrated I still get frustrated by Fw. But unless someone has been throw this themselves, they just don’t get it.

          • My ex bribed/lied to our daughter to get her to live with him when she was a teen. So on top of him being a bad influence on her I had the ‘you must be a bad mother if your child doesn’t live with you’ judgement from many. Fun stuff.

            • Same situation with our 16 year old son. Cheater bribed him with $$, freedom and told him they could live like college room mates. He let our son run wild, grades plummeted, he looked homeless If that wasn’t enough cheater had our son emancipated.
              Compounded the judgment that I’m a bad mother.
              To outsiders cheater portrayed himself as the single caring Dad who saved his son from his mentally unstable Mother. Cheater made sure to tell his story to anyone who would listen, son’s teachers, the school janitor, sons private music teacher, other parents, anyone who would listen. Even the school counselors.
              One afternoon I backed into a chain link fence in the school parking lot. After the accident I noticed that parents who normally would say hello were avoiding me. I found out months later Cheater told everyone, including the school that the reason I had the accident is I was driving drunk, which supported his accusations that I’m mentally unstable and an unfit mother. Fortunately I waited for the highway patrol to make a report. I mailed a copy to the school. By that time I was already labeled. So humiliating… I can feel my blood pressure rise as I’m thinking about it.

      • It’s comforting to hear someone say this. I’m 3 years post DDay and nearly 2 years out from divorce, but we have two daughters together. I always found myself asking, how am I supposed to forgive when the slights (either to me or our kids) just keep coming? I’d be able to go completely no contact and move forward much quicker except for the kids.

        • We’re in the same boat and it sucks. I am SO jealous of anyone that gets to have no contact. Sometimes fuckwit will email me 2-3x/day with bullshit and just opening my email app is triggering.
          Please no one recommend parenting software – I have heard how narcs can twist this tool and make it worse for “coparenting” than just email.

      • Totally agree with CL!

        10 years post-divorce I rarely get pissed but have none of those awful triggering episodes that impact just me. EXCEPT when the ex pushes my kids too far (the MY kids was written on purpose)!

        They’re adults with families of their own and ex is barely in their lives. It happens rarely but when it does it causes my kids to hit bottom all over again and the resulting trauma impact them and me.

        We are so tight and what impacts one impacts all. Except the ex. Ex does the damage and me and my kids go thru hell to get back standing on our feet. But we get there together. Thank goodness it doesn’t happen often.

        When you breed with a ass, they’re almost never out of your life unless you the chump and kids all go no contact. There are family occasions such as weddings and grandchildren life celebrations.

        It’s a process and does get much better but every once in a while the bottoms falls out.

        The good news in my case is that these episodes become less often and less traumatic. We get better at handling them but triggers and trauma don’t disappear completely until they disappear completely.

        • I am in a good place of no contact, my son is 29. But I am dreading the inevitable future milestones and encounters ie grandkids, their bdays etc. not prepared at all for that even tho I’m in such a good place with a great life and relationship.

      • CL, thank God you said this!

        Just this week my 6-year-old told me something and immediately followed it with, “but DON’T tell daddy! He teases me even when I say stop.” This was endlessly a point of contention – the fuckwit could say any hurtful thing because he was “just joking” and I was too sensitive. Hearing my son go through the same is very triggering.

        I am trying so damned hard to teach him how to not let it affect him, otherwise I know how it goes. He will slowly abandon anything he loves knowing it’s just more ammo for the fuckwit.

        When my child hurts, I cannot find meh.

      • My ex-husband wasn’t even my longest relationship; I reached meh about him lonnnnng ago. I still lurk here because it helps me sort through trauma from my cheating mom (trust she sucks trust she sucks trust she sucks) and how her influence poisoned my relationship with my sis.

        Any chumps thinking about staying for their children, please go. They’re learning how to be victims …from their sane parent.

      • I honestly feel very fortunate that my FW died a few years ago. Life go SO much easier, and the stress of worrying what my child was dealing with in the other home is gone. I was seeing some things, even at his young age (8/9) that were extremely concerning. My son’s depression and thoughts of self-harm have dissipated, and he is a happy, well-adjusted child. I dealt with “co-parenting” for 5 years, and am so glad to be done with the threats, criticism, bullying, harassment, being stymied at every turn, everything being a huge fight, etc. My deepest sympthies to everyone still going through that.

        I’m not normally someone who would be happy at someone else’s death, but I can’t say I’m sad about it

    • I know this isn’t a popular with a lot of people but when your ex is hurting or being dismissive of your kid (s) I am all for having a frank (age appropriate) discussion with the children. Let them know, unfortunately they got dealt a shitty hand in the (mother/father) department. It happens. After that sinks in do not let the children go into victim mode. I would make fun of anything the shitty parent did to make the kids feel unworthy. Have a shared laugh at shitty parent’s expense. Great release and will prepare them for the all the future let downs.

      • I think it’s a good strategy so that they grow up knowing no one is allowed to be truly terrible to them — not even those closest to them. I think it’s what made me think husband/partner = ally. I could not wrap my head around what he did and tried so hard to reason it away/gloss it over.

      • KB22, I’m with you on this. I’ve stopped protecting my daughter (17) from her dad’s shitty narc behaviour. I used to say “well he loves you” etc but now I say what I feel, like “that’s horrible” or even “he’s acting like an ass”. This is way better for her to see a real reaction to his antics because she’s old enough to handle it but also she was becoming a complete doormat. I was starting to worry about her when she said things like “I just wall off my emotions and let dad have his narrative.” Strategic but also- Dangerous! I don’t go around bashing her dad all the time, but when he does something, I call it. No more sweeping it under the rug and pretending “it’s okay your dad loves you.” Love is a behaviour and he demonstrates none of it to her. It’s like victim boot camp training for her if I don’t chime in with some truth to let her know it’s not okay. My worse fear is her getting into a relationship with a guy just like him. I’m protecting her by not letting her gut instincts get extinguished like mine did. It’s working – she is starting to see that she can love him as her dad but also not accept his horrible actions. She is learning boundaries.

        • Totally agree.. I’m working with my 11yo on strategies to deal with this. She loves her father but can totally see his actions for what they are. I continually have age appropriate conversations about how his actions and words are a reflection on him not her, and we laugh and go about her day. Many conversations end with “dad is not an example of what a true loving relationship looks like, a partner/father who is all in with you would never say/do/treat you this way”.
          Then we find something to laugh about or sing along at the top of our voices and move past it.

      • One of my kids is furious with ME. He says why did you marry him???? Does anyone else get anger from their kids?

        • Yes unfortunately. Twenty years after divorcing ex-FW, my thirty-something daughter still occasionally lashes out at me for not leaving him until she was sixteen.

      • My one friend who is 12 years my senior. She and her husband retired and bought a condo in Florida. They took all their adult children and their partners to Hawaii for a big anniversary. I love her, but I feel ill when she updates me on her life. I’ve stopped reaching out to her.

        • I have friends who post photos of their family vacations. Photos of the couple with their children and grandchildren at their beach house, family cruises, celebrations. I quickly scroll past their posts without commenting. I’m happy for them but it’s also a painful reminder of the life I looked forward to but will never have.

  • I’ve got plenty of triggers. However, one thing has been triggering me for months now. FW quit his job and opened a shop, but it is a shop that sells very specific things related to a hobby we shared. That I got him into. Makes my blood boil. Also, couldn’t he just have done that while we were married? I guess I was making enough money for both of us. He used to tell me he “had no idea what he would do with his life if he lost [previous job]”. Now I get to see what he does without it in professional lighting through the window display.

    And my (very supportive, very well-meaning) friends telling me “he did not set up a business just to upset you” also triggers me. I know that. It still feels like a punch in the gut.

    • I totally get this. My FW had a life-long dream to open his own business selling whatever he happens to fancy at any given time. Well, he’s finally opening “said business” RIGHT BEHIND WHERE I HAVE WORKED FOR 11 YEARS! Obviously, he couldn’t choose a myriad of other locations in the city. Nope. I can literally see the place as I pull into work each morning. I guess he’s consistent…a consistent ass.

      • Well, no, of course he wouldn’t choose a place where you could not see him! That would be a waste of a rental.

        Fortunately for me, FW’s shop is not in a place I have to go through a lot. However, not long after the divorce he decided to move to the street right below mine. And no, there was no reason for him to move specifically here (I want to think he lives at a GF’s place, because that at least would make sense, but I have no idea). Now I get to see his car every other day. And seeing it per se does not trigger me… but it keeps him on my mind. And just knowing that he chose to move specifically here (I live in the flat we shared) feels like this permanent trigger.

        One day, before I realised FW had actually moved here, I ran into him. I actually walked up to him so I could say hi, just to face my fears. He ran away from me. But he’s the one who chose to come live here! Close to the woman he said was controlling him (me). The neverending mind****.

    • “he did not set up a business just to upset you”

      How do they know? From what I know of FWs, their malevolence and pettiness make that a very real possibility. I wouldn’t discount it. Just because a normal person wouldn’t do such a crazy thing doesn’t apply to these disordered people. And for what it is worth, I hope he goes broke in a few months.

      • I think their main line of reasoning is that none of us has the kind of money to invest in a business and risk having it go bust just to spite another person.

        That being said, I always work from the assumption that FW doesn’t care about me (taking my cue from his actions), so nothing he does has anything to do with me, even if it feels like it. And if he does, well… Then it’s even worse than I thought.

        • He may not care about you while still caring about your kibbles. and how your kibbles look to other people.
          Hate to be that cynical but it’s is what I have experienced.

          • I don’t think you’re cynical, I completely get where you’re coming from. Caring about my kibbles is a very fruitless pursuit though! 😀

  • Sitting at my daughter’s swim class and watching the mommy/daddy and me class with the babies and toddlers happening in the same pool. I didn’t even have one full year of ignorant bliss with my baby before I found out he had been cheating on me the entire time. It makes me so deeply sad to sit there and see these happy families with their little ones that sometimes I just tear right up at the class. I was robbed of enjoying her early years. I’ll never forgive him for that.

    • I’m sorry ChumpOnIt. How awful. He’s the one who missed out on you and your lovely baby.

    • Similar experience. Found out he was cheating at 8 months pregnant.

      Didn’t get to enjoy being a family for even 5 minutes before it was ruined.

      • Alexandra, I completely hear you and I am sure the fomo is crushing.

        I had those first couple years and they were nothing but pain. Years of bullshit and lies as I did all the parenting work on my own with the babies and he just posted prop daddy-pictures on FB. I wish I could wipe him from every fake memory. I look back at any picture from the time when my babies were tiny and feel the pain of being devalued. Yes, my babies were perfect, but I was in such pain while loving them so much. The disconnect sucks. I much prefer the memories since fuckwit left to be with the whore. Looking back and knowing none of it was real is terribly painful.

        I don’t want you to feel like you shouldn’t feel that pain, but accept that it also may have been a gift. You get to own every memory and all the pain that went with it as the time you were growing your baby and rebuilding yourself through a horrible loss. You are SO mighty.

        • I honestly think this is why I’ve been having so much trouble really sitting down and looking through/organizing old digital photos. They don’t even have him in them, but the memories of what it felt like to have been discarded and so sad and angry and tired. I don’t want to not have pictures of that time and my beautiful daughter as a little one, but there is so much pain associated with it. I have two old phone’s worth of pictures and various cloud storage stuff to sift through. Ugh.

          • Maybe there are just a couple images that you love that you can reclaim as your own. Reframe all the love you have with you child as a real love story. The silver lining.

      • I feel for you. So much.
        I found out at nine months pregnant while walking around trying to induce labor. FW took that moment to tell me he had been dating someone else! I told him to get his act together, that I didn’t have time for his shit, and I was about to give birth to his baby (our second, our oldest was a toddler at the time) and then I blocked it out for 15 YEARS. We had the conversation and then I completely forgot about it. Just blocked it out. Literally had trauma to my brain that caused dissociative amnesia! I didn’t remember what he had told me until the final string of Ddays 15 years later when he told me alllllllll the shit he had been doing during our 30 year marriage. I can say now that I finally came to my senses thanks to CL and CN. I’m moments away from the divorce being final. Kicked him out 18 months ago!

      • I feel you, found out four months into my baby’s life, and they were not four good months. I spent pretty much the whole time having to justify everything I did with my baby, routines etc, while FW had the AP in his ear undermining me and telling him everything I was doing was either, harmful, indulgent and or damaging. The only good thing about finding out is it explained what had been going on. FW had complained to the family helpers that I was anxious and rigid with everything to do with the baby, and they had me in parenting classes for anxious mothers, and a psychologist visiting on a regular basis. As soon as the affair was exposed those people noped out of there like their hair was on fire, telling me I was a good mother. Even they smelled the gaslighting. I too feel robbed of a precious time with my child that I’ll never get back, as well as the illusion that I finally had my own little family that I’d always wanted (deeply dysfunctional and damaged FOO).

        • The deeply flawed FOO is a huge motivator to spackle. I was so determined to stay married, to have a family with two parents, I was ready to gaslight myself. And I did for 28 years. But no more. I finally saw FW as the soul-sucking, pathetic, spineless covert narc that he is.

          • yup, my parents were not good parents and I was determined to give my kids the best life. 26 years I did that

    • I’m so sorry. That’s sucks. But you can enjoy your daughter no matter what. Don’t let the FW ruin your relationship with your child. Hugs!

  • yes I have a lot of triggers… Swing dancing (but I stopped doing that now, I am much happier with zumba, less triggered that way), music that we both liked, some books, some specific traditions (for example in our region, when people are getting married, it is common for their friends to bake and bring a cake to the wedding ceremony)… so whenever I bake a cake for friends who are getting married, I remember doing that with FW… He was always super competitive about it, he wanted us to bake the best cake, he wanted us to be the best looking couple, etc
    I also found out that he got engaged to be married to OW. I am not going to lie, it still hurt. All the good memories came to mind and I felt that I was on the “woe is me” road
    So I opened up my email (where I have written an email to myself) about all the times he failed me as a partner, and about all the times I was there for him as a partner, about all my good qualities and why I am awesome…
    and I managed to stop myself from going down the dread “what if” road…
    Somewhere, OW is walking around like she nabbed a great prize. She can keep him
    I love that my feet are firmly grounded in reality

    • I love this! I also wrote down all the shitty things he did (that I knew of) and that helped me release and say good riddance!!

  • Argh! Anytime FW or the narcissists in my FOO leave me hanging, I get angry. But no possibility to plan in advance, oh dear no! Just like Harry Potter has to go home when Big D come home. Earlier is too early, and later is cause of scandal. And I am left hanging. And I seethe. Just writing it rises my blood pressure 😅. I handle it by self care. I stop taking care of my agenda to take care of myself: a walk, twenty minutes of felinotherapy (aka as cat on lap), a bit of retail therapy… Any ME time. Definitely helps 😁

    • I like your idea of self care after triggers. (I also have a cat but he wouldn’t sit on my lap if I paid him to do so! My computer keys, yes.)

  • Well, the list is long but distinguished:
    -ever seeing him on phone (is he on skip the games)
    -seeing a prostitute in movies
    -getting an email from eharmony
    -seeing a commercial about HPV
    -hearing him say I wasn’t there for him
    On the flip side, I apparently trigger him a lot too with things like:
    -him seeing me cry
    -the kitchen not being clean
    -trash not being taken out
    -me being tired because I wake up at 2:30 every morning still
    Yup. I’m pretty awful I guess. Exercising, finding things that make me laugh, taking back my health, speaking my mind, snapping back when FW spews bs, learning new things, and starting to put myself as a priority again have all helped. Tried some breathing techniques too.

    • oooh yea…mental images of him on that fucking Blackberry. He was glued to it with Susan of Seattle on the other end.,,, at meals out, ballet recitals, endlessly at home with him insisting that he was “working”. I wish I had found that fucking thing and smashed it

    • You’re present-tense suggests you aren’t no-contact yet. Hope you’re lining up your ducks to leave soon.

      • Trying. Working on it. Have 5 kids so we will not be no contact for a long time.

  • I’ve been divorced 11 years so no cheating triggers for me (couldn’t give a shit – she did me a favour). BUUUUUTTT AH was just over here from the States (he left yesterday) to see our little grandson. It was civil because I’m indifferent to him. Well not true actually, I found him GROSS. What did surprise me though was how knotted my stomach was – just waiting for the other shoe to drop all the time. You see he was a chaos master and I was forever running round trying to put out forest fires while he ran behind me with a flame-thrower. Like the time he asked me to come to his house (we were already divorced) and my son and I found him lying in the snow in February trying to cool down (I guess lithium and alcohol will do that for you) and he refused to go to hospital. So next time I called the ambulance directly, sat in ER for FOUR FRICKIN’ HOURS while they dealt with him, only to find out later he’d done a runner and left me sitting there. Or how about when he smashed his car up while drunk, and then the very same week wrecked the car the garage had lent him – again while drunk! As I say it was just one thing after another and I was really shocked at how my guts twisted in knots while he was here just WAITING for him to fuck up. He left yesterday and all is right with the world again. I did wonder if latest gf is having to put up with half the shit I put up with but more and more I’m convinced that in respect to creating chaos, at least, this particular leopard will never change his spots!

    • “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” is one of my triggers. I have had so many “out of the blue” dropped shoes, not just from my ex, but throughout my life–starting with a father who could erupt into fury without warning (more like a bomb drop). (This is different from just knowing that life will inevitably deal you unpleasant surprises.) I lived much of my life in a state of constant hypervigilance, and the bombs my ex in the last years of our marriage dropped made this worse, because I trusted my husband loved me and would have my back, and thought my marriage was the one place I could relax my vigilance.
      What I find now is that I need control–I want to order my life to the best of my ability to minimize the possibility of other people dropping a shoe on my head. When I have to deal with people I know are unsafe (likely to lash out, act badly, drop shoes or bombs, or cause other emotional turmoil), it’s incredibly stressful.

      • I think you nailed it with “hypervigilance”! I also found out this time that he had dropped his fantastic worldwide medical insurance provided and subsidized by his employer upon his retirement last August in order to go on latest gf’s medical insurance. My eyes popped out on stalks, so I asked him what happens if they split? Is he covered over here (Europe)? His answer? “I think so”! You think so???? F….ing eejit. His insurance was fantastic and he let it drop. And while of course it wouldn’t be my problem if he had fallen ill over here, guess who would end up having to help the boys sort it out. And that’s not that far-fetched actually as he looked like shit (I think I used the word zombie) as he’s still on the lithium and booze!

    • What in The Shining heck!? He sounds like a LOT of asshattery and work wrapped in a shitty package.

  • This is timely for me…. I too have been triggered more lately.
    I’m nearly 6 yrs out. Remarried. New life. Still slightly triggered.

    What does it?
    – My partner’s texting with her support group and me worried its about me
    – My partner’s long conversations with her X re: summer planning for her son
    – Bunch of small b.s. that I worry means something more than what it actually is

    I’m learning I’ve got a healthy dose of co-dependency and my trauma is exposed BECAUSE I’m in a relationship safe enough for it to present itself. I’ve been doing EMDR and old-fashion couch-therapy. Things are shifting. Its hard work. But I was traumatized.

    I appreciate this article.

    • I totally get being in a safe relationship, you can finally process some of it. I didn’t get nightmares until years later, after I married Mr. CL. It’s some version of my ex spying on me or trying to kill me. (He did the former and threatened the latter.)

      • OoooooooooOh that’s unsettling! Thank you for sharing, and thank you for all your blog! May I respectfully enquire what was your attitude within those nightmares? ( No need to answer the question). I.e. were you afraid or intrepid? Apathic or in action? Alone or supported? Master or slave? I am of the belief that dreams give us a glimpse of our current state of ‘body’ (subconscious) as opposed to state of ‘mind'(conscious). If that makes sense.

        • Have you read this book? It’s fascinating! Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth by
          Robert A. Johnson.

    • Some processing waits until you are out of the relationship and some waits until you are trying to find respectful boundaries in a new (hopefully healthy) relationship

    • Talk One, I’m not remarried but I’m in a relationship and his phone use triggers me too. He asked me if I wanted to look at it and I said no. Then I got into a spin thinking he was trying to manipulate me. He’s very patient and understands my trauma. It’s hard because I do often question his deep down motives and he’s just like nope – what you see is what you get! No BS. I never thought really good humans would also be triggering! FWs just seem to waltz off without the trauma that we have to work through for years after. You’re not alone.

  • Anything to do with adultery in TV or movies brings me down, particularly if it’s played off for laughs. Going to stores and conventions that deal with our formerly shared hobby. I stopped going to those places years ago; I just couldn’t take it and the chance that he and Wifetress might bump into me there is more than I can take, so I just don’t go.

    I get a small shiver of discomfort whenever he texts (we have children, so… sigh), but it used to be a lot worse. I used to have a mini panic attack whenever he texted; I had to take a deep breath and steel myself before I was ready to read it. Those were the antidepressant days. The biggest trigger, of course, is seeing him. It hardly happens (like, once a year maybe?) because my walls are high, my boundaries firm, and my social medias are set to block. But when I do chance to see him it makes me feel unhappy and nauseous.

    • “Anything to do with adultery in TV or movies brings me down, particularly if it’s played off for laughs.”
      YES. I really hate when this is done.

    • I agree about the use of adultery on TV or in movies to make people laugh or sympathize with the cheaters. That’s a “no” for me.

      Even the occasional email is a trigger, so I can’t imagine how I’ll react if I ever have to see him again. Will I need a friend to keep me vertical, or will I not give a flying f**k? Hoping for the latter reaction. Better yet, I’m hoping our paths will never cross. #deadtome #meh

  • There are a couple of things; one very much focussed on me and a second on our now adult kids.

    Firstly, Ex-Mrs LFTT was an alcoholic and very much prone to “secret drinking,” quite often from early on in the day. It’s not as if it wasn’t obvious (both for the rate at which bottles emptied in our house and for the impact that it had on her), but the trigger for me is when I am with someone whose speech is in any way affected by alcohol I get incredibly uncomfortable and need to leave … like immediately.

    The second is that, while I am pretty much no contact with Ex Mrs LFTT, she does still have occasional contact with out three now adult children (19, 24 and 27). While I know that her relationship with them is for them to manage, it is very difficult to remain objective when her actions adversely affect them. It really is a case of “step back and take a deep breath” when she does this. There have been a couple of occasions in the last year when she seems to have gone out of her way to hurt our youngest daughter; all I can do is help her to put the pieces back together.


    • LFTT, dont underestimate the benefit of your presence to help her recover from traumatic moments. Having someone validate your perceptions and experiences is helpful. Both of my parents are disordered but in different ways, I never had one of them to hold me up or validate the inappropriateness of the others actions towards me. I have benevolent envy for your daughter having you.

      • UNM,

        Thank you. Out of our three children it is our youngest daughter who still tries to see the best in her mother ……. but inevitably gets let down. I actually get quite worked up when I know that Ex-Mrs LFTT is meeting up with the youngest, as I know that it’s only a matter of time before the hammer falls.


  • I had so many triggers in the beginning. IE: Stopped listening to music — especially Frank Sinatra (FWs favorite) and any and all love ballads and country music. I also used to be super jumpy post DDay — if someone approached me from behind or opened a door without knocking, I’d scream. It was awful.

    Now those little things don’t bother me almost 8 years out. The main triggers that linger:

    I still can’t watch any gruesome movies or tv — nothing too violent. I became very triggered post DDay and I still can’t tolerate violence and gore. I literally have to cover my eyes or turn it off.

    anything my boyfriend does that is too much like FW…. Especially running into me/clumsy hurting me. My boyfriend is generally pretty normal around me and graceful… but sometimes he’ll step on my foot or run into me in the kitchen and I flip out. FW was a complete oaf and would run into me all the time. ALL THE TIME. I became scared to death to move around in the same room as him. Some of it was outright clumsiness (my mom always called him a bull in a China shop). FW broke everything too. 6’5” and clumsy is crap to live with. My boyfriend isn’t like that at all…but when he does accidentally run into me or something…. Oooooo I’m triggered.

    How do we deal with that? I’m working on it. I was going to therapy — recently stopped. He goes to therapy as well. We also are just working on discussing things and maybe doing some therapy together. We both have triggers from our past.

    And honestly I just need to calm down. I hope as time passes I’ll be less reactive.

    As for the gory violent shows? I’m fine without them. I have no desire to go back to watching violence.

    • Michelle I have that hyper vigilance thing too. I have what I like to call a hugely developed amygdala “lizard brain” now and I flip into flight fight freeze fawn mode in a half second and for no apparent reason sometimes. I’ve explained this to my boyfriend and we now joke about it. He’s like “are you in lizard mode right now?” And we can laugh about it. Then I take 5 breaths to calm the system down and it helps. 🦎

    • Many of my initial triggers have faded, too. One that bizarrely (and unfortunately) hasn’t: classical music. I can it tolerate it, which is ridiculous and a shame.

  • The news and current events. My ex was obsessed with Trump & Fox, etc. So was her family. That should have been my first indication that we were not ever going to work as a couple or family. I blew past that red flag though, politics don’t need to be discussed, right? But Trump & Fox transcend “politics” & are truly bellwethers on a person’s morals & ethics. The truth has been on trial since 2016. Reasonable people let this all play out & with the facts rolling in are in disbelief that there are still people in the world who think the only person telling the truth is Trump (& his disiples). Even when confronted with real facts, tape recordings, pictures, admissions of guilt, court rulings, the Trump & Fox crowd cannot get past their devotion to their lies. Trump cheated on every wife & girlfriend; even while his wives were pregnant & having babies. He equates military service to avoiding venereal disease while he was getting deferrments from the military. He denies rape & sexual assault by saying his accusers aren’t his type. He denies knowing anyone who says the truth even after having long term relationships with those people that include pictures.

    My ex lied about having a boyfriend in the background, ran away from home to do drugs, spent 5 days drugging & sleeping with the boyfriend, stole my money & time, took drugs when she thought no one was around & even after she got caught she acted like she did nothing wrong – it was a mistake. Even after her own teenage children caught her lying & took pictures of things she did & does she continued(s) to lie, cheat, steal, & deny deny deny. It’s not that her family believes her, they just don’t want to not believe her when she lies because she is their mother/daughter, etc.

    Is everyone like this? No. But like Trump & my ex you have to smoke the truth out of them now to see what their morals & ethics are. Right now only middle-aged uneducated white men seem to want to let everyone know who they support & what they think. Everyone else tries to keep it a secret. But that secret is who they really are & it is exhausting to smoke the truth out of people when you meet them.

    • By the way, people will tell me to stop watching the news. But as a Jew who also studied history I think that is a mistake. I have come to believe that it was apathy & the initial overall denials of the truth that led to the rise of Hitler in the 1930s – not a majority of support for Hitler. I think we are all obligated to stay informed & involved to avoid such a calamity in this country. Given that 75% of republicans continue to support Trump in spite of the truth & facts; & that Trump still has an overall 40%+ approval rating I’d say we are on the brink of “going there”.

      • My politics run in “the middle”. I believe there are good & bad on both sides. So I don’t vote for a party, just the candidate. My ex didn’t like that, he thought I should pick one side. Which is funny, you’d think a FW wouldn’t be loyal to one party!! FW never did see that irony, but of course, there’s no insight there whatsoever….so any “closure” a therapist talks about comes from us, not FW’s!!!

      • 100%! I’ll get the quote wrong but we know that if we don’t learn from our past we are doomed to repeat it. In all aspects of life.

    • Stephen, it seems that FWs come in all political flavors. Mine was a raging Democrat with a degree in political science. He would pontificate on the latest leftie talking points, never allowing anyone to bring in a contrary view. Once on his soapbox, he proudly declared that “we” voted for Candidate X, didn’t we? Out of my mouth it popped out, “I’ve never voted for a Democrat.” Later that night, he shoved me into a door for cancelling out his vote, calling me stupid, etc., you get the gist. Needless to say, I could have gone through my life thinking lefties were philandering, pompous, violent bullies. But I think there’s enough division in our country that we don’t need it here, too.

      Do I agree with you politically? No. I never will. But I do know that you loved your spouse with your whole heart just like me — a flag wavin’, bible thumping, gun totin’ conservative. And that’s something. A BIG something.

      Y’all vote for whomever you wish. I’ll still love you.

    • What was it (the Republican) Rick Wilson called them? “…childless single men who masturbate to anime”
      (It’s almost lyrical, that description.)

  • i’m happy to report that fewer things trigger me, but it’s a morphing thing, triggers. lately, the distinct sound of my X’s car in the driveway, when he returns my daughter home, has strangely triggered me. it feels ominous, him out there and me in the house; i do not like it. this is 2 1/2 years out.

    but the triggers of seeing families together, places we used to go together, TV shows that are adultery centric, etc. etc. all give me pause, sometimes more than others. if i’m really stuck, i do some EMDR with my therapist, but most of my EMDR sessions involve casually cruel things X said to me during the discard phase.

    i have asked my daughter to always take the car when she visits X so he doesn’t drop her off at the house anymore. it’s just what i need. i mean, i never drop kids off at his house; in fact, i don’t know where he lives except in the abstract.

  • The smell of alcohol on a man’s breath.

    Certain colors.

    Loud unexpected noises.

    Cigar smoke.

    Everything I’ve moved past. These which remain are too pronounced and will always make me fearful or totally piss me off.

    • The “smell of alcohol on a man’s breath” just triggered a long (twenty years) buried memory…the sound of ice clinking in a glass (exFW was rarely without a vodka tonic in his hand). Both of my daughters share this trigger.

  • My ex would talk about the other women in front of me, like, hey, if I talk about them openly I couldn’t be having an affair with them, who would be so obvious? I dated a guy a few years ago and we agreed that we were not in a committed relationship. I enjoyed his company and having someone to go out with on occasion. I understood that he was probably seeing other people. One day we were together and he mentioned this girl he knew. I couldn’t believe how it triggered me. I immediately went home to get away from him. He sent me a text to ask if I was okay to which I replied that I wasn’t feeling well and I apologized for my quick departure. I assumed that it was someone he was seeing and he was wanting to make me jealous. I mentioned it to my therapist and she pointed out that talking about other people (women, men) was normal. As you can guess, there was a lot to unpack around that and I am still working on it.

    • I started a casual, non-committed relationship and found that it’s not for me. Even when we were being open and honest with each other, I was triggered by mention of anyone else in that way. I felt like some interchangeable part once I found out that my ex was cheating on me the entire relationship. I don’t want to feel like I am not the sole focus of any romantic relationship going forward, regardless of how casual it is. I made my feelings known.

  • Used to be my triggers had triggers. After nearly 35 years of marriage there was no part of my life that was not touched. Now divorced and 6 years out I only experience ghost triggers. Like a phantom limb where I think I should feel something but I don’t. For a while there were places I could not go because I was in such grief the last time I was there. That is fading also.

  • I just got triggered yesterday…. but really it was just a memory. A nice one in fact. I just enjoyed it for what it was & stopped myself for spiralling down the rabbit hole. “Oh that was a nice memory (or a bad one) but now I have to get on with my day & go grocery shopping”! Memories come & go, traumatic recollections come & go…all I have is control on how to manage them. Time has made it easier, but so has distracting myself when memories come up. Also I will deliberately minimize the trigger/memory to snap out of spiraling . “Ah yes that was a fun time with the ex, too bad he turned out later to be a douche” kind of wraps it up for me now. In the earlier D-days this was harder, but practice does make perfect.

  • Anything adultery or pornographic on media.

    Any time my current husband has to go out of town. Anything about prostitution/OF.

    CHRISTMAS. I was cheated on Christmas Day when I was pregnant with a prostitute.

    I really hate Christmas and Mother’s Day. (Abusive Mother’s Day incident one year).

    • If it’s what you want, I hope that eventually you can reclaim both Christmas and Mother’s Day for yourself and those you love!

  • Since ex FW and I still live in the same town, there are decades of memories. I’ve reframed the ones that I thought were “good” and replaced the others. Healing comes from intentionally replacing experiences with my own positive effort. And reminding myself that the world didn’t start and end with FW. Nature, classical music, my family’s genealogy, my values, my friends are still here.

  • FW enjoyed banging hookers in Asian massage parlors. I was triggered every time I passed an Asian massage “spa.” My former house with FW had 3 Asian spas within a half mile of our house. I moved to a new “rural” town where there are no massage places and no Chinese restaurants.

    I’ve lost 30 pounds in the past two years since D-Day by not having Chinese take-out. Silver lining and smaller jeans for the win!

    • I am triggered by these places too. There was one within view of our old home, and I used to laugh at the men stumbling in at 1 or 2 am for a “foot massage” and marvel about how these places operate openly without repercussion. Of course I found out later that my ex went there. He swears it was “just a regular massage place.”

      Riiiiight. Just a regular massage that you went to go get while I was out of town. That you paid in cash for so it wouldn’t show up on a credit card. That you kept a complete secret, because that’s totally normal.

      I stayed for years everyone – because I didn’t feel that was enough “proof.” I am triggered when I see these places because I am reminded of how I repeatedly believed his far-fetched explanations over the obvious facts. I am triggered because I am ashamed of my naiveté and trusting heart that looked for “the best in everyone.”

    • Ex wanted to handle the credit card bill I had been handling on month. Want to guess why? I took that explanation of the charge (and the admitted “happy ending”) and swallowed it for the next several months.

      • Dipshit FW put an $80 charge for a “cam girl” on our joint credit card. He said it was really no big deal and not what he hoped it would be. Loser!

        • He charged the credit card? They aren’t the brightest bulbs. Are they?

          “He said it was really no big deal and not what he hoped it would be.” 🤬 Classic minimization. My ex would roll out a similar excuse every damn time.

          Even after D-Day, he told me that sex with the AP wasn’t even that great. WHAT????

          With that statement, I actually think he was trying to hurt me more because he wanted me to know their relationship was so much deeper than a merely physical connection. And, I suppose, it was a way for him to feel better about the affair.

  • At times I’m triggered by the ease of the con and lack of accountability. I remind myself that his inability to think past instant gratification cost him in retirement. Never once did he consider how hiding assets would reduce his social security.

    On the other hand I did and made sure to use the past nine years in planning. I made sure to keep my pension in the settlement.

  • I am just over 6 months out after an almost two year battle. There are a few things that trigger me like constant texting on anyone (FW made sure after DDay 2 that he was always texting or on FaceTime with Schmoopie). My current also chumped boyfriend is never on the phone when we are together because, well, we are together and interacting.
    The other triggering thing is having absolutely everything planned out and written down including times and how long everything should take. This was for vacations and errands and everything in between. My boyfriend does a bit of this and I had to tell him that it really bothered me which was hard, but he understands because he has a few triggers even after almost 20 years after his FW ex wife left him.
    It also triggers me when FW tries to contact my son (27 years old and wants no contact). My son always gets bothered by this and he made his desire for NC known to FW but FW has to be a FW so will randomly try to contact my son. Naturally, it is my fault that son will not bother with FW. I have learned to live with that.
    Many triggers have disappeared but a few randomly show up. I process them as they come and am pretty close to being fully healed. I will have scars but that is ok.

  • I had a weird one last night. I was fed a podcast by Spotify’s auto-queue feature, which was about “5 heroic fathers” who sacrificed for their kids. As I listened to the first couple of stories about dads who threw themselves in front of bullets and fought a bear to protect their children… I couldn’t help but wonder what FW would do in this sort of situation… and I couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d protect the OW over his own kids. Leave them vulnerable and alone if it suited her.

    It made me sad, and angry. I only made it through the first two stories before having to turn off the podcast.

    • I found this same thing with the movie, “The Croods.” I watched the first one at the theater with the extended family and grandkids and we loved it. The kids quoted the movie for months afterwards. The sequel came out a year after D-Day. I went to the theater by myself to distract my mind for a couple of hours. This is when I noticed that the whole theme of The Croods is how the father will do absolutely anything for his family.

      It just emphasizes how thick my rose color glasses were for decades – that I thought we were a good family. We were nothing like a good family. We were a group of abuser narcs and their numbed up victims.

        • Now that you mention it, I was a hostage and didn’t know it. I was brainwashed.

      • For an antidote, try watching watching “The Avalanche,” a movie about the picture perfect family whose lives are changed during a ski trip when the father runs away from an approaching avalanche, leaving his wife and children behind.

        • I tried. Found two movies named “Avalanche” on Amazon Prime. The newer one had zero 5-star reviews so I watched the older one, which had decent ratings. But everyone was cheating on everyone else, and a lot of people died in or as a result of the avalanche. I don’t have the heart to go looking for the one you suggested.

  • It’s been 8.5 years since Dday, 6.5 since divorce finalized. I’m living solidly at Meh. I’m no longer triggered by anything. I don’t want to learn anything new about X— from our 26 years together or now. I’m no contact for me. He’s truly just someone I used to know (but apparently never really did). I’m lucky I got away at 48 and didn’t waste a second more on him. He sucks, by definition. Youngest child’s HS graduation is coming up— he abandoned us when she was 10. Gone for years of her life. He never parented her. He’ll likely be at the graduation – Ho hum- I’ve built a great big life in the past 7 years— new career, new partner, bonus kids, new friends who never knew me with X, new home, new dog, new car, a boat…. Everything. Time takes time to heal— about 3 years after divorce to get to this place. I choose to live free of thoughts of X.

    • What are your strategies when you have to be “in the same” room at events? This is my concern.

      I am 6 years post DD#2 and tomorrow is the day I married Satan in 1993 and also divorce final in 2018. I am solidly NC since 2019, pretty much at Meh (got a hoover this week and I just rolled my eyes) but dread the thought of having to be at potential future events. I know I shouldn’t put energy into something that may not happen but I want to be prepared so I can respond and not react.

      • This is just what works for me: slow deep belly breathing. (Like focus on breathing deep-into-the-very-bottom-of-your-gut. There are lots of nice instructions on YouTube.) And when things get “icky” around me, and I do not feel safe, I actually count the moments of breathing-in and breathing-out. (IN-2-3-4-5-6; HOLD-2-3-4; OUT-2-3-4-5-6.) (And it also helps me to keep my mouth shut.)

  • Certain songs on the radio (that were playing at the time when the **** was hitting the fan and I was in the process being discarded). Eight years on and they still trigger me. Also, at random times, when I look at my kids, I’m flooded by grief that they had to go through what their mother inflicted on us. Once, my ex came to the door to pick up my then-12 year old kid, and my kid refused to go with her. My ex actually walked into my house to go find him. My PTSD took over and I lost my s**t. I was screaming for her to get out of my house. My kids had never seen me react to anything like that. I’m still embarrassed by that event (and it happened three years ago). The “shouldn’ts” still haunt me (“I shouldn’t have yelled and acted like an idiot”, “I shouldn’t have grabbed her wrist to escort her out of the house”, “I shouldn’t have yelled”, yadda, yadda). I hate it when my amygdala goes diva like that.

    • You have the amygdala and the frontal lobe of a person with a moral compass, a person who is not a sociopath. Don’t dis your neuro(!) and don’t regret behaving imperfectly once in a blue moon. To me (a person with unreliable judgment and sporadic poise) your self-control qualifies you for canonization, practically.
      (And BTW you absolutely SHouLD have grabbed her wrist to escort her out of the house. That was the best option of many: you should feel gOOd about that! Don’t be so judgmental about yourself.)

  • Not too many triggers left… but I hate golf, lol. Never was a sport for me before everything happened, but seriously the way my ex had prioritized golfing again & again over his family has put me further off the game. By the way, he’s not on the tour, he’s an accountant, lol.

    Used to have problems w/ruminating in the early days. I had to do the work & make the effort to train my brain to think differently. Couldn’t listen to certain music for a long time. Listened to audiobooks instead. New stuff for my brain to focus on. If he still came up in my thoughts, snap a rubberband on my wrist and force myself to think about something else… the weather, new recipes to try, organizing my garage. Your brain gets used to running on certain pathways.sometimes you have to force it to create new ones.

    • LACGAL requires mental gymnastics, and I’ve come
      to the conclusion that even though it sucks, rumination and skein untangling are inevitable for a time. I don’t think it’s abnormal, and the process shouldn’t be stigmatized or pathologized. I agree with Curlychump that chumps have to work hard to retrain our brains deprogram and from abuse.

      Now 3.5 years out from dday1, I’m past ruminating, but it’s as if I’ve acquired a sixth sense. There’s a constant vigilance/awareness, and different kinds of “triggers” are everywhere, although they continue to evolve, as do my reactions to and perspectives about them. I’m checking in about where I am, who I am, why I’m here, what really happened, what comes next, etc. I’m guessing this exists, to a certain extent, for everyone reading here: Even chumps who are financially secure, physically and emotionally safe, have loving families, have found trustworthy and compatible partners, are years/decades out, and are totally meh/Tuesday still come here every day.

  • I think I handle any triggers pretty quickly plus there are fewer now.
    I still have to process the occasional nightmare.
    I have to process the occasional call from a number he may use or a voicemail that I chose to hear from the ex. Any new number is blocked and voicemails saved if needed for court.
    I never know what his actions will be with a call. He usually lasts a couple of years in between calling or using court abuse.
    Following his pattern, I did get a few calls recently. After the final call, I received one from my attorney. BIG trigger. She was only cleaning house and want to know if I wanted my personal things that I submitted and apologized since she didn’t know he’d been calling.
    The box will never be opened and stored outside my home. A friend knows to destroy them if anything happed to me so the kids won’t have to go through them. It did trigger some things he’d done to me.I had a good cry and shared my feelings with a friend and it’s done.
    Until this month I avoided the area we previously lived. He still lives on the road with his parent. It became more convenient to take that route due to traffic so I’ve used it a few times now. When I drove it alone I had to self talk that he does not own that highway. I only felt happiness knowing I am no longer living in that depressing area.

  • I have a couple of lingering triggers that oddly present themselves with my work… When Schmoopie views my public business Instagram account stories from her fake profiles, my blood boils.
    I also have a very low tolerance for pathetic, blame shifting excuses to avoidable situations with negative consequences, that don’t show accountability or responsibility for someone’s actions or inactions in the workplace. This clearly has manifested itself from FW’s pathetic, blame shifting excuses for being a garbage human.

  • My second husband strangled me nearly to death and then dumped me on the highway. So yeah, touching my neck is a trigger. Even the feel of a crew-neck T-shirt on my neck used to trigger me. I’ve gotten used to that after 36 years. But if someone touches my neck, like my primary care provider palpating for lymph nodes, etc., I have to grit my teeth and tough it out. Once I had a rapid heart rate and blacked out, woke up with the paramedic taking a carotid pulse. On my neck. I’m proud to say I didn’t punch him.

    Vacuuming used to be a trigger, because ex would scream at me for being such a fat, lazy pig every time he pulled out the vacuum. I had injured my back in 2006 . . . I couldn’t really walk — just hobbled a few steps at a time. So ex had to do the vacuuming. He’d scream and vacuum, vacuum and scream obscenities last with name-calling and insults. He’d throw shit around and break shit — always my things, though. Never his.

    The sound of a knife sharpener used to trigger me. Ex would get out his multiple knives and swords and scream at me while he sharpened them. At first, I didn’t get it. You’d understand the threat if someone was cleaning their gun while screaming at and threatening you . . . but eventually (after he slashed the Swedish Ball I was sitting on with a sword, and I’m not sure if missing me was an accident or his intent) I understood the threat. I bought a few nice kitchen knives when I moved into my own home and I just recently noticed that they were getting too dull to slice a tomato without squashing it. I had forgotten about the knife sharpener trigger. Until I started sharpening that knife. Only the one knife got sharpened the other day . . . I still have three more than need it. Maybe in a few decades I’ll get over that one, too. It’s only been about five years.

    • I am so sorry for the abuse you experienced and the terror you felt. And I hope the karma train flattens your ex, but not without torturing him first.

    • I’m so very sorry for the horror you endured.
      I suggest you send your knives out to be sharpened. That would be a hard trigger to get over.

    • I had forgotten about knives. I remember when my ex (not the cheater but still) was in the kitchen getting angry or annoyed and I always took notice of any knives that were within reach. I would chide myself a bit for over-reacting, but not having that fear in so long I realize that there was a reason for it.

    • Professional knife sharpening service. It costs a few dollars per knife, and I think in your case would be money well spent.

      That all sounds awful. I’m so sorry. I dealt with the screaming, name calling, and breaking my things too.

  • Cheating jokes. Why does anyone think these things are funny? Cheating in media, in books, in music. I get up and leave the room, stop watching the series, throw out the books. I get terrifically anxious when I have to leave the home to shop: last AP stalked me and showed up nearly everywhere I went. I didn’t know at the time I had to drive past her home to reach the shopping district. I really have no hopes that any of this will resolve. I’ve started doing my shopping in a nearby town across the state line.

    • We were having a group lunch at work (office of mostly women) and some of the women were teasing the younger guy about his on again/off again relationship with his gf and saying maybe he should find someone he could be more committed to. The other guy (very obviously joking) said “just get yourself one of those sugar babies and then you don’t have to worry about it.” I burst into tears and the two guys panicked.

      They knew I was going through a divorce but not everyone had the details (I was about 2 months post-Dday). I had to explain that on DDay I discovered not just that he’s been cheating for 7 years but that four years ago he found himself a sugar baby. She is the current child mistress and the one he spends every spare moment with, openly dating her while refusing to move out of my house (shared property state and he doesn’t have to until the house is officially awarded).

      The two guys were so apologetic and kept reassuring me that they were “just kidding.” I knew they were but it didn’t change my gut reaction. Or the fact that I have never and certainly will never find infidelity funny, and I find sugar baby-ing to be a version of prostitution (money exchanged for sex). The younger guy has pledged to kick FW’s ass if he ever comes around the office so that made me feel a little better. He is a high-protein, weight-lifting, gym rat and FW is a lazy, pudgy, jackhole who wouldn’t know exercise if it kicked him in the head.

  • Weddings are tough for me because of all the “pie in the sky” sentiments. Most of the ones I’ve been to lately use the Christian song “When God Made You” by Newsong which seems pretty presumptive to me. One of the lines is, “When God made you, He must have been thinking about me.” Similar thoughts were said at my wedding, and it ultimately messed with my thinking. If God had brought us together, why did the marriage go down into a disordered whirlpool until it ended in a high-conflict divorce? Why did the “dream come true” end that way?

    Mostly, I keep my mouth shut with such things, but I mentioned that song to a pastor/therapist friend of mine who counsels and marries a lot of young couples, and he discourages that particular song and others that assume a bright future, blessed by God because you say it is so. You can have a romantic, spiritual wedding without that, of course. I went to one in April where he had done the premarital counseling, and it wasn’t triggering at all, just lovely.

    But yes, weddings.

    • I never liked weddings even before all the trauma. So much over the top false hope was how my cynical mind always felt about them.

      • I am SO cynical about weddings now, and I have to bite my tongue sometimes when people get engaged or post something about their wedding on social media. Even if (heaven forbid) I found another partner, I’d never get married again.

  • I don’t seem to have them anymore, I’m just trying to live my life. Though it does send me into a bit of a funk when I walk down the street and see The Other Woman. Fuckwit decided to move in with her down the street from me.

    I recently discovered that Fuckwit has a huge trigger: seeing me get anything nice.

    I revealed recently that I was trying to buy a house and Fuckwit had a MELTDOWN over it, threatening to sue for custody if I didn’t give Fuckwit full control over what house I was buying and where, pretending to be concerned about where the child would grow up. Immediately stopped caring about the child when I signed a lease on an apartment.

    It explains so much about our relationship. I can see now how much effort Fuckwit went to over the years to make sure that I did not get to enjoy anything that made Fuckwit jealous– a satisfying career, a decent paycheck, a group of friends, even a supportive therapist.

    Of course, Fuckwit was entitled to have anything and everything, and fuck me if I objected to, oh let’s say, the secret girlfriend and credit card debt and double life and whatever else the fuck I didn’t know about. Of course.

    • “Fuckwit decided to move in with her down the street from me.”

      He wants to mess up your life and keep an eye on you. He sure has trouble letting go of control.

      “I revealed recently that I was trying to buy a house and Fuckwit had a MELTDOWN over it, threatening to sue for custody if I didn’t give Fuckwit full control over what house I was buying and where, pretending to be concerned about where the child would grow up.”

      Wow. More control freak nonsense, and to a psychotic level. I’d expect him to try to move into your neighborhood next. Hopefully OW will say no.

      • Hopefully not! I’m moving far away in hopes that Fuckwit will lose interest once I’m out of sight, the way a baby loses interest in a toy when you hide it under a blanket.

        I wish I understood WHY. I just want to be left alone.

        • It’s because these abusive little shits hate it when you slip out from under their control. Even if they don’t want to be with you anymore, they still want to control you in any way they can. If all the control they can get is to force you to run into them by moving into your neighborhood, they’ll take it.
          He probably won’t go through the bother of following you if you go too far away. Thankfully, most of them are lazy AF. Just a thought; does he even have to know where you live, given his history? Could you perhaps use a relative’s home when he’s to pick the kids up and drop them off? Could he also send child support through a relative?

          • That’s a good thought. The apartment is a temporary landing spot; maybe I won’t disclose my new address when I get my forever home.

  • My top triggers 2.5 years since my first D-day and 20 months after getting out:

    -Catholic prayers and someone crossing themself (OW is Catholic)

    -Hearing the spoken foreign language, the native language of the OW

    -Weddings or romantic social media posts, especially anniversary posts

    -Any time I get a text from or must interact with my cheater (we have grown kids who are in both of our lives)

    Hands-down worst one: Seeing my cheater texting and sending pictures on his phone. He had conducted an intense affair with her, his underling at work, even while I was in the same room or car as him, while on his phone. Of course, he tried to get me to think they were only communicating for work.

    Taking walks in beautiful nature, moving to a new city and making new friends, spending my time and money the way I deem best (so empowering!), picking up a new hobby of taking care of plants….these are some of the ways I have been steadily working towards meh.

    • I feel so stupid and blind in retrospect but FW was texting and sexting for years right under my nose. He became attached to his iPad and phone and would be on them ALL THE TIME. Now I know he was talking to her or hunting for other hookups. Usually at the table while I was cooking or doing something in the kitchen with him (back of the iPad facing me). I would tease him about his addiction to his devices and he would say he was just watching train videos (he is a little obsessed with trains). But no, he was woman shopping (all his APs were found online). If I ever date someone again (we haven’t even divorced yet), attachment to devices is going to be very problematic for me.

      • Conchobara, If it makes you feel any less stupid, I’ll share my “how could I be so stupid?” story. STBX was having a long distance affair for YEARS that I was unaware of. So obv, most of it was via his phone/texting. We were on vacay and went to an amusement park with our kid. He wanted to go on a scary ride, we didn’t, but told him we were happy to wait while he did so by himself. You couldn’t take phones/hats/sunglasses on this ride. He wouldn’t let me hold his phone for him. He insisted in putting it in one of the lockers they provide. I didn’t even have his password. He used the facial recognition feature!! I couldn’t have gotten into that phone if I wanted to. Yet he walked an extra 50 feet to lock it up. It wasn’t until much later, when I knew about the affair and then remembered that day that I actually put two and two together. The fact that he insisted on using a locker when I was RIGHT THERE was obv incredibly ODD and should have been a reg flag engulfed in flames, but he also wasn’t at all smooth about it, he was cagey and looked like a deer in headlights. And yet, I was clueless. In hindsight, I think I was in denial. I had to of suspected something was amiss there. The thing is, he was almost never out of the house, and when he was, I KNEW where he was. Since she lived across the country and 98% of the affair was emotional, he wasn’t doing other more obvious things, like suddenly staying at work late, those typical “tells”. So I think if the phone incident did get me thinking, I would have dismissed it as he wasn’t physically in a position to cheat. Little did I know how much betrayal can be done via the internet alone!!

  • My biggest trigger is having others put my health, safety, and life at risk, taking aim particularly at my compromised immune system. Needless to say I have NOT been okay through all of the Covid inaction, gaslighting, and removal of all data and protections.

    • UGH! I don’t know if the UBT can choke that down. Yes, the real crime here is judgement and everyone didn’t understand her quest for Happiness. And the poor shrink’s mother. The fated Hester. Left completely unsaid is that YOU CAN LEAVE RELATIONSHIPS ETHICALLY.

      • A better headline: “How I traumatized everyone I know, even my shrink”

    • Lots of words for lots of people in that one, but not one word about David’s wife as a person, after she was “told.” And before that she and the writer had been “close” for years.

      • There’s a lot of:
        me, me, me
        I deserve happiness,
        me, me, me,
        people are SO mean and judgmental and punishing
        me, me, me
        frantic, raw desire–the pull was too great
        me, me, me
        I’m so big that I represent “all mothers, all wives, all women, across time” (so my affair was a feminist act)
        me, me, me
        and what’s her name (David’s wife)
        and my ex (oof, his name almost escapes me, too)

        And that therapist: I actually helped him, such is my narcissistic view of the world

    • NYT is a trigger for me. I read it because I get a free subscription via school, but I have to refrain from sending Tracy UBT fodder every single day. And not just from the reliably shit sections like Opinion, Modern Love and Style. It’s worse than the fucked narratives that permeate tv/movies/social media, because it’s THE NEWS. They have a centrist/left reputation and are perceived as being objective.

    • Remind me to never purchase any of Samantha Silva’s work. Hate this. I can hear my X saying something like exactly like this. Gross, just gross.

    • Yes, most anything written about cheating is hugely triggering.
      It’s the abuse that keeps on giving.

  • Its been a few years now but odd things pop up now and then. The most recent was buying a house. I had no idea they list titles as ” name, an unmarried woman”. I stewed over that for awhile and it brought back feeling of “I didn’t want to be unmarried” but luckily they fade because its overshadowed by “I got a house!”

    • Hey, congrats! Buying your first house post divorce is a wonderful thing.

    • You could think about the house buying in a protective way – “Name, an unmarried woman” – proves there are no spousal rights issues. It’s clearly all yours, and just yours!

      I’ve gone to some new health care providers recently and don’t like the way medical offices always ask for my marital status. How could that possibly have any bearing on my blood work, or my mammogram, or my digestive system, etc.? It doesn’t!

  • Hotel chains he took the hookers to even if the hotels are in a different city. (As found on the secret credit card.) But I’m only 2 months past D-Day so maybe there’s hope

  • It’s actually not the things that remind me of the FW himself so much as it is things that remind me of what I don’t have because of the FW. Sometimes seeing an apparently happy couple or intact nuclear family gives me a sharp pang. I just wait until it passes. It always passes. I don’t miss the mirage, but I do feel a sense of loss for not having had the real thing. I suppose I always will.

  • Having read through the comments so far, my heart goes out to my fellow chumps. You have truly survived the worst examples of mankind and womankind. My triggers have decreased over the past 7 years but there are two stubborn holdouts. Infidelity in tv/movies (most recently I have to leave the room whenever the show yellowjackets is on), and the use of “baby” (it seemed to be the universal term all of the flaming dumpster shits used when sexting my wife).

    • Wow Chumpcat this just triggered me.
      When I found out about the cheating, before I found CL, I was big into the pick me dance. Then he called me ” babe”. For the first time in 33 years. I flipped out. I realized at that moment I was done, we were done. It just clicked. I realized right then that he was just a creepy, slimeball SOB. Thankfully I soon stumbled on to this site and all of you wonderful chumps, you showed me how to get the hell out! ❤

    • Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen Yellowjackets. This is a perfect example of what makes me sick. Girl betrays her BEST friend by sleeping repeatedly with BF’s boyfriend and gets pregnant. Who does everyone sympathize with? You got it! Not one ounce of sympathy for the chump- it was her fault; she was too perfect.
      The FW friend was embraced by all.

      • This is really interesting. I am also triggered by infidelity in tv/movies. But not always. I watch YJ and that situation didn’t bother me as much as say, the new Fatal Attraction remake. Maybe it just depends on the situations, and how much they hit home for ME personally. I watched Daisy Jones and the Six and it broke my heart, I am not sure why I put myself through that. There was something about the way the wife was portrayed as damn near perfect and lovely, and yet, this OW was shown as being “who he really SHOULD be with”. That series was not entirely about cheating though, it was different, to me anyway.

  • I’m 3 1/2 years from D-Day and almost 3 from finalization of the divorce.

    My triggers might not even be full-blown triggers at this point. At first, even the sight of a Jeep would initiate a spiral downward. Now, my triggers are more muted–no real spirals but rather an occasional passing, sinking feeling that comes on when I have a memory that might simply pop into my brain for no apparent reason or come up when I see or hear something that is undeniably ex-related.

    And then there’s that damn hotel I have to pass every time I visit my hometown. They say to create new memories at a place to help erase old associations. That makes sense to me, but there’s no way I’m stepping foot into that hotel.

    Some memories can’t be so easily erased.

    • Yeah I would have to buy a Ford 150 if I was try to immersion therapy lol. I guess I am triggered every time I see one! Even in places where FW would not be.

  • Huge trigger for me was how cheating is portrayed on TV shows/film.
    Also, how cheating is talked about on talk shows….. it’s become very clear to me that people don’t get the trauma it inflicts on people.
    Basically, for me it was a # 100 in terms of my mental health, devastation, trauma, pain it caused my children, work involved in terms of selling / moving and paperwork, time off work because I couldn’t function… but the messages from basically everybody except CL is that it’s really no biggie. Even therapists can add to the pain.

    I feel that if there was just an awareness and an acknowledgement out there that this is very traumatizing and abusive (and that it’s not the chumps fault ) the healing would be faster.

    Lastly, I triggered myself by looking at social media down the road… I was sure they would have broken up and instead saw that they had gotten married. Don’t look!

    • Yup. The expression ‘put on your big girl pants’ makes me want to chew carpets.

      If a person has not been through it they don’t know shit

  • THe silent treatment. This is my biggest one and causes the worst pain. I am diagnosed with CPTSD and it came from my abuser who used silence as punishment.

    When he went silent during the day, I knew there was an incoming tirade when he got home. I didn’t always know about what, and most of the time it was from some imagined slight that wasn’t even true. The ones that were true were often just something small he turned into an explosion. (I.E. me wearing heels in public.)

    Other times if he was mad, or in a bad mood, he would just act like I wasn’t there. There were a few times when he was pulling the silent treatment when he wouldn’t talk to me for hours, all day while he was at work, he’d come home, take hours of silence before bed, go to work again, more silent treatment all day. One of our worst arguments was when he had been pulling this silence and I walked by him in the kitchen and not a word. When he came downstairs I finally snapped and started yelling. I couldn’t take being treated like I didn’t exist anymore. And one of the biggest kickers of that was he said “Well I PLANNED on talking to you when I came down…” Yeah like when? Five minutes after? Another three hours? I could never tell when he was finally going to break the silence and what I was going to be accused of and yelled at about this time. I learned to be terrified of silence.

    And this only became worse in future relationships. I tried to be honest with my partners about this. I would upfront tell them I suffer from cptsd, yes I take medication for it, these are the specific things that make me panic and flashback. I would be very honest about how silence makes me trigger, and tell them what helps me feel secure and how panic can be avoided. “If you’re busy and are unable to talk, just let me know.” “If you need to talk about something, tell me we will talk later, and what we need to talk about so I’m not sitting here wondering what’s going on.” Not hard.

    Well apparently with some men, that was just giving them the knowledge they needed to hurt me the most. I had at least three men pull silent treatments on me, and when I was actually at the point of panic, in tears, hyperventillating, they would call me crazy. Some of them, in the midst of my panic attacks, would throw it in my face with malicious compliance. “What, do you want a GPS tracker on me? Do you need me to tell you what I’m doing on the hour?” No, these are things I never asked for. I just asked for a little compromise. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask someone you’re seeing to not disappear from communication for no reason for several days in a row, or for them to not leave you on read, or worse, “delivered” for several days, or even weeks. A man I was seeing ignored me for 9 days, one of which was my birthday, and after I had completely broken down and sent him tearful voicemails, all he had to say was “I’ve been busy.” Then asked me if I expected him to be on call with me 24/7.

    My last ex played this trigger like a damn violin. At first he seemed to care, but then over time he did the disappearing/silence act more and more, to the point I was having panicked breakdowns multiple times a month. No matter how many times, or how many ways I tried to explain my needs and what he could do to help avoid this happening, he would do it again and again. And every time it reached a breakdown point, he would tell me I was ignoring HIS needs for “me time.” It was all about his needs and his boundaries and how I wasn’t meeting them by being ok with him disappearing from communication for (I think the longest stint of silent treatment was two weeks.) Thankfully I had a very good, supportive female friend who understood both the cause of my trigger, and that I needed someone to listen to me, not condemnation and accusations of being “crazy” to help. She helped me get through the worst of the worst flashbacks and panics. And she helped me realize that no, being able to stave off the panic attack for two weeks before breaking down because he still won’t explain what’s going on, is not a strength. What a real strength is would be saying no to this behavior and walking away from someone who clearly only cares about himself. And she helped me find ways to cope with my trigger, ways to quiet the flashbacks when they start up, and healthy distractions to deal with anxiety.

    (In case anyone is wondering, yes, these aforementioned men were cheaters. They were “busy” with other women. One of them was “busy” with an engaged howorker 13 years is junior.)

    I’ve gotten really long with this one, but this trigger is the one that has had the biggest, most negative impact on my life. And for a while I felt like it was right. Silence taught me something was “wrong” and I would feel no relief until I heard from the person who triggered it, and in the end, my trigger ended up being right because most of the time, I would end up finding out that yes, there was indeed something “wrong” going on. However, those things often weren’t my fault. But it’s hard to reconcile that information when your brain is in flashback panic mode.

  • Dear CL, thank you. Your wonderful snarky writing has helped me weather the turbulence of the last 2 years since d-day, one year since divorce. Married 29yrs, found out was chumped entire time (and before)….another story…
    Chump nation, you are an inspiration, and have helped keep me sane. My gratitude to you all.

    My triggers:
    1.Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits” specifically the lyrics “My bad habits lead to late nights endin’ alone, Conversations with a stranger I barely know, Swearin’ this will be the last, but it probably won’t, I got nothin’ left to lose, or use, or do…”. From the moment I met the ex-husband (in college, 40yrs ago) he said he had “issues” winding down of a night time. Turned out all those nights he played games/computer games/emailed “friends”/”updated” facebook – while I collapsed exhausted in bed (10pm) from demanding job/cooking/cleaning/kids/laundry etc., which he never helped with – I now know he was looking at porn/emailing other women/tracking them on Facebook/trawling through eHarmony/ from 10pm-2am. In the early days after d-day, when we were still talking, I told him this song was written for him and he actually GIGGLED and said yes, it was his song. Turn this awful song off whenever I hear it.

    Boy Scouts. The night I caught him he was reminiscing whilst facetiming with (one of) the OW (subsequently found out there were many others) about their weekend in the (big mid-west) city the previous month (during covid/not vaccinated). As the village Scout Master he’d arranged an “extra” Winter Campout weekend as the boys were down on their camping hours due to covid…always had a lie ready to roll out of his mouth. The Friday of their tryst he’d primped in the bathroom for 2hrs, put on his Scout uniform, kissed me and, as he turned and walked away, left a trail of aftershave in his wake.,,a first for winter camping. Knew something wasn’t right, that and the phone glued to his hand. Caught him 3 weeks later. He and the OW were on a call planning another “Scout” trip for his birthday weekend, and another for a few weeks later when I was flying out to meet daughter and drive the 1300 miles back home from college for the summer. Our kids are Eagle Scouts/Girl Scout Gold Award recipient (equivalent of Eagle Scout). I was the Girl Scout leader. All Scout related things trigger me now.
    Can’t bear hearing “it’s a joke” or “what’s for dinner” or “I’m entitled”, which he said all the time

    Just made it through 2 college graduations (two different states). Both kids told him the latest OW (#10) was not invited. He brought OW to one kids’ college (degree conferring) ceremony…said he was “entitled” to bring her. Kid was fuming. Other kid revised approach and said he could bring OW to commencement (outdoor stadium) ceremony (they didn’t turn up cos it rained!) but OW was not invited to the college (degree conferring) ceremony. He agreed, turned up by himself to college ceremony, took kids photo/added to Facebook, said he could no longer take her out for a celebratory meal and walked off. Kid brushed it off and we (boyfriend/kids and me) went to a different restaurant, ended up by chance sharing a table with another kid from her class (and family) and had a fantastic time together!

    Setting boundaries and moving on… 🙂

  • Triggers:

    Weddings. Certain areas of town. Men who lie about military service. Talk about food allergies. Messy lawns.

    There are certainly more, but these come to mind

  • My trauma was so big that it feels recent but the trauma of the worst abuse and betrayal was in 2005….18 years ago.

    I got a horrid “Im divorcing you because you suck as a wife and this is how ….” speech that lasted 2 hours. I was eveuntually rolled in a ball weeping as he continued to pelt me with details of every mistake I had made in 20+ years. It was in April. In July I learned he had been planning to leave me for his Chinese OW.

    For the longest time, I was literally triggered by the words “April” or the sight of a Chinese Restaurant and lots of other things. Thank God that level of triggering has disappeared.

    For a while I was triggered hearing the names of cities where they met up Seattle, Salt Lake City, Tampa, Vancouver BC. Im over that.

    The triggers I fight these days are more ones from my abusive childhood. My husband very innocently used phrases which are themselves neutral but are ones my parents had deeply weaponized to insult and marginalize me. “Par for the course” is one of them…meant and taken as intentional insult from my mom. Hubby says that and I panic.

    Hubby is also VERY thrifty and enjoys cost-cutting as a hobby. My parents weaponized money and resented every dime they spend on parenting.Oddities found at thrift stores are acts of love from him but would have been direct insults from my parents.

    • I too had a very abusive mother. FW was everything she was not. Sweet, kind, pretty, and put me first. Over the years FW’s bad child hood caught up. 6 moths before Dday FW started appearing in my dreams as my mom. I thought it was strange. FW started seizing on what my mother would criticize me for. Foolish me believed all those things my mother instilled in me about me being a bad person. It is only in last couple of months I have come to grips with the childhood trauma of being terrorized by a bully parent. According to psychiatrist I developed the only positive trait one could, be an overachiever. Every other personality trait would have been bad. It hurts when mother and FW are both berating you. Mother told her she needed the affairs. I am sorry you went through that as well

  • My triggers are all dumb in retrospect.

    Hearing the beeps from a car locking when I’m home gives me a slight panic — I’d know he was home from work when I heard the double beep and I have the moment of ‘oh he’s home’ before realizing what was going on. Commercials for the new Fast & the Furious movie? YUP. Sends me into a thought spiral on how we were supposed to go for my birthday after we spent months watching them all in order and ranking them on their ridiculousness. Going past our favorite restaurants, seeing new seasons of shows we loved come out (that I’ll never finish), paranormal and cryptid podcasts (he showed interest in something I loved but I found out it was only because she was into the weird shit too), anything related to foxes (she has orange hair, he used the fox emoji incessantly when talking to her), the freaking hippos at the Cincinnati Zoo! How does a man ruin a cute hippo?!?!

    Today seeing a post on the popculturechat subreddit with photos of Kirsten Dunst & Jake Gyllenhaal sent me to a time when things were great between us and a random woman at the grocery store told us how lovely we looked together… and I spent half an hour crying and wondering where it all went wrong. Logically I know where it went wrong, he ain’t shit. But the thoughts still trickle in.

  • This is embarrassing, but FW screwed a howorker of a different race. I was triggered when I would see a random woman of that race. I would feel shaky and like I was going to vomit. It was shameful. Except thank god for one of my good friends of that race. I was afraid to see her because maybe would trigger a panic attack. Luckily it did not, probably because she is such a good person of character who I respect. Thank goodness that didnt last long maybe 4 months.

    • I hear you and I am glad that this trigger was temporary. I wrote about my Cheaters Chinese OW. I was momentarily tempted to hate every Chinese woman in the world but dang…there are 400,000,000 of them…really a bad use of my energy. Im glad that was a weird, momentary phase and Im chill now.
      My son’s new person is Chinese and I look forward to meeting them.

      I will admit though, that I barely own anything in Asian style. My step daughter brought Chinese style cabinet into the house and it will have to leave with her.

  • Most of my triggers have to do with finances, or what my kids now have to endure. It’s prom night tonight for my graduating senior and he organized the tux and car with FW because I can’t afford to do it, so I feel super left out. Now he’s 18 and barely talks to me anyway (we have a good relationship he just spends 95% of his time with his friends), but these little events are things I’ve traditionally helped him organize. I am getting the flowers for his girlfriend that he ordered and one of the moms organized a photo shoot at our local park which FW will NOT be attending. But I keep crying- mostly because my oldest is off to college in four months, but also because I did not envision having these financial hardships while he celebrates these milestones. One thing I do NOT miss is “sharing” these events with a FW. I’m perfectly happy to have to navigate this by myself, and my kids understand that I don’t have much money. I just envisioned being able to take really good care of them so they wouldn’t have to constantly worry about money and that’s not going to happen. I miss going on vacations with my kids where they have to talk to me every day and not spend the whole day playing video games. That’s a big trigger. But I’m working towards a better future and my two kids and I will likely all finish our bachelor’s degrees around the same time and I promised them a nice vacation abroad somewhere in the world once I’m established.

  • Someone opening an envelope used to cause a mini anxiety attack. Ex would be mad, come home and start opening the mail. If there was a bill that he thought was too much or if I forgot to pay a bill, or (the usual scenario) I couldn’t pay it because the money was just not there; he would be livid. He would then take it out on me. Mind you, he was screwing Howorker and hiding money. He also stole my identity and signed my name to loans for his family’s business. We’re talking $6 million dollars. I was SUCH a horrible person because I couldn’t do the family finances to suit him.

    Lots and lots of therapy got me through it. Surprisingly the best therapist I had was a man, but was a domestic violence specialist. He actually suggested medication in addition and my nurse practitioner got me straightened out. My now husband doesn’t realize how much him being patient and loving healed me. And guess what, me understanding trauma and abuse, helped him also.

    This is one specific example, there are many others. If you have been through domestic violence, you don’t ever fully “get over it “. I have said many times that I will never feel totally safe until he’s dead. Yes, I’m at Tuesday, I don’t care what happens to him, but as long as he’s around, the niggling fear is there.

    • Oh my God, were you able to get out of owing the $6M?

      My Cheater didnt overspend everyday, but when he did it, he did it pretty big. He always bought houses and cars at the highest level we could get approved for loans. (He “discussed it” with me but expected/bullied me to approve purchases even if I did not want to). He got is rather deep into suburban debt with house/car payments that required a pretty serious Joe Corporate salary then decided to start a business. He was declined for a business loan about a zillion times. It was all my fault.

      • It was obviously not my signature and a forgery from ex, therefore I was not liable. I was able to get my name off the loan, in exchange I walked away owing my ex nothing, gotta love community property states. I got my house, car, and retirement. The home was turned over into my name only. The bank was wanting to resolve this quickly and quietly because the Feds were breathing down their neck.

        My ex F’ed around and found out.

        • That was a good outcome. Me thinks that the next time that banker approves a loan like that, they will have the co signer appear in person with ID.

  • Triggers include:

    -people calling me by my ex’s surname, for example “Hey Jones, how are you?!”. I only kept his surname for the sake of our child and wanting to avoid and “single mom” stigma.

    -having to produce my marriage paperwork for a passport application and write his info down… like what?! Here is my social security card. You don’t need to know that

    -the fact that he still shows up as ‘spouse’ in my HR portal at work. I’m told it’s a glitch and it will always be there.

    -any time he responds to a text. I have his texts muted but I still hate contact with him

  • So many triggers. Endless it seems. CL, I appreciate you saying that there’s not much space for “getting over it” when the cheaters are actively hurting the children (like the particular cheater I was once married to, rekindling his relationship with the AP/my ex-friend – and trying to explain it away to our kids – their tears/pleas that he not pursue a relationship with her, not HER – and him proceeding anyway). Current worst triggers for me – being within eyeshot of him, her, or all the mutual former friends who bounced. It happens a lot. We’re in a smallerish town. The kids still all go to church/school together. There are triggers in the school pick-up line every effing afternoon. Former friends go walking down my street. His car is parked outside my house one night a week, hanging out with the neighbors. It’s a lot.

  • Liars. Lying. That’s my trigger.

    I used to think, “Well, this must be my issue. I’m just really sensitive. I should try to see things from the perspective of this person who is obviously lying.”

    Earlier this year, my son and his classmates reported that their teacher had stopped bringing the class to the library each week as scheduled. It was a power trip for her — she kept the kids at their desks, where they were forced to do busy work. When parents called the principal, concerned, the teacher lied to the principal, who believed her. I got the librarian’s attendance records. Guess what? The teacher started taking the kids to the library after that.

    I’m actually grateful for this trigger. It has made me powerful.

    • Between Cheaters lies, my abusive parents delusional behaviors (which were lies even they thought they were telling the truth by the time shit exited their mouths), and our current political environment where lying has become so commonplace that people seem have forgotten how to feel shame, I just cannot do lies.

    • Wow, in England the teacher would be suspended, disciplined, and potentially prevented from teaching for a period for dishonesty as well as negligence. They wouldn’t be teaching for a while!

  • I’m about 15 months post D day number 1: the “fling” I discovered by emptying out our laundry basket. Blood all over his dress shirt bottom (very gallant, he used it to clean up during her time of the month, or she was sitting on him during said time). That night, a quick search of his pockets and found the little blue pills. Trickle truth (lies) followed, then a $3,000 affair-proof-your-marriage program (which placed blame equally on both of us- run by a man who’d had 22 affairs in his 23 year marriage until he saw the light! Supposedly, he runs this program with his wife, but you never meet her or see her in person.) during this intensive (online) program he kept seeing her, but I didn’t know that. D day number 2 was when she posted them drunkenly dancing together on Instagram and sent me the video. Married 16 years. My own period had just stopped, so finding out he was screwing a 21 year old by finding her period blood was especially literary. I’m 56! The dancing video was six months after this “fling” was supposedly over… live and learn like a chump.

    He said he loved me and she was just for sex and ego boosting. He had felt ugly and old and was so complimented that a 21 year old virgin found him so irresistible.

    After six more painful months of him visiting me on some of his days off, and texting together, etc, I went no contact when I saw on our phone records (we still have the same account) that he was pursuing others.

    Now I don’t care about the facts anymore. My triggers are feeling lonely and blue. We shared so much over the years. Our banter and jokes and in-jokes were constant. He was often a jerk, but often he was my only friend and understood me. It’s difficult now. It’s a huge loss. I’m an introvert and he was one of the few people I ever knew who reached me.

    But, I filed for divorce, dammit, and fuck him forever. I hope he’s more lonely than I am, but he always knew how to take care of number one. I was the lonely one. Now, I don’t give a shit. I won’t give him anything from me any more. I hope my silence hurts him, but I guess it probably won’t. I’ll never give him anything from me again. But I’m triggered by feeling lonely. I used to feel he loved me. I haven’t been loved much. But, it’s ok. I’ll just love myself now. Better that way. I never want to be with another man again. I’d rather be alone. I’m a total life. I don’t need another life to make me whole. I am whole. I hope he suffers one day, but I guess the lesson is he’s too superficial to suffer. Who knows.

    • “We shared so much over the years. Our banter and jokes and in-jokes were constant. He was often a jerk, but often he was my only friend and understood me. It’s difficult now. It’s a huge loss. I’m an introvert and he was one of the few people I ever knew who reached me.” I could have written this, Emma. I’m so sorry. I get it.

      • Thank you for saying so. It helps. And it wasn’t just banter. We just didn’t stop conversing in fun ways about everything for 16 years: dreams, art, feelings, psychological histories, reactions to life…we were so often on the same page. We liked the same tv shows, movies, art, nature, our dog, and so much else. We were constantly talking and laughing. I mean, except when we weren’t and then we were arguing and fighting. But it was a 16 year long conversation of the deepest things in life. I even knew his sordid history with women, but that was all “in the past”. For all our years I felt like I was special, his one love. He still says I am, but now I can see that he was treating his “one love” me, like my pain was worth the risk. He put me last so many times. I’m just still in shock and hurting very much. One big trigger is when other people are mean to me. He used to cheer me up and make me feel better with a hug and I felt he had my back. Now it just all seems to be upside down. I’ll never talk to him again. He even laughed with me about how foolish he was to be with a 21 year old who could only talk about tick tock. I guess that was supposed to keep me with the delusion that I was superior, to keep me hanging on. I know everyone out there related to the massive confusion understanding your own past with this person. Chump Lady has helped me so much. I don’t think I’ll ever get over this, but maybe I’m as wrong about that as I was about him. I don’t know what to think anymore. I just will remake my life on my own and shrug. What was that? Who knows…

    • Emma, that is horrific. It is unbelievable, even with undeniable proof. I can only imagine what those discoveries must’ve been like, but I can very much relate to the irredeemable losses and deep loneliness you describe. I won’t lie and say it goes away — at least it hasn’t for me yet — but it does shift and get much, much better.

      • Thank you for sharing that. It is really good to have that comeraderie.

    • This resonates with me Emma. I was 59 (63 now) when I was dumped after 26 years for exgfOW out of the blue. The ex is a runaway husband and divorcing him took longer than it should have done in consequence. It’s no comfort to know that these people take themselves with them when they go. The chances of them ever being truly happy are slim. But that doesn’t make our difficult feelings much easier to bear. It really is one minute at a time some days.

      • Thanks. I’m so sorry for what happened to you too. I guess the whole healing process is to just build anew. Probably it’s easier to remember the better times: our memories have a way of selecting for comfort. I’m sure your 26 years contained many things that are nice to do without now! Goes for me too. But it is such a bewildering thing to happen. I have to trust Chump Lady that the pain is finite. I bet that’s very true.

        • It has been finite in my experience, Emma. I was in agony for such a long time, feeling suicidal every single day, and I would have sworn it would never get better. I was wrong. Keep the faith.

          • Thank you, OHFFS. I can see that writing and interacting here is very helpful in moving inner thoughts along. Alre

            • That got sent by mistake. Just saying that since writing earlier I’ve already realized it

              • Oops, having some tech difficulties. Writing and interacting here is very helpful.

  • People breaking my trust, even in small ways, sends me down a shame, abandonment and rejection spiral. I have found the Crappy Childhood Fairy on youtube and find a lot of her stuff around C-PTSD and healing from childhood trauma to be really useful, especially her Daily Practice.

  • My D day was over 3 years ago and I’ve been divorced 2. I have to low key admit- I love “Vanderpump Rules”. Have watched for years. But this season “Scandoval” has triggered me. I see so much of my ex in the pathetic narcissist Tom and empathize so much with Ariana, the absolute betrayal by someone you love and who you thought was your partner for life. The lying, the gaslighting, the blame shifting- it’s all there and it takes me back to that place where it was all happening to me and how utterly soul destroying it was. My life is so free and happy now, I wish that for all my fellow chumps!

  • I’ve written this fairly often on the Reddit site, but my first therapist taught me that getting “triggered” is “falling through a hole in time.” What he meant by that was that something in the present (say, a movie scene) brings back a traumatic event of the past that I haven’t processed.

    So the first job is to recognize what the event in the present is bringing up from the past. Sometimes it will be (no surprise) something from the relationship with the cheater. But even that may actually tie back to unprocessed childhood wounds.

    Here’s a sort of benign example. I lost it when my sports team left the event venue and left me in the bathroom. I was FURIOUS. But when I calmed down and had a chance to reflect, I realized that this wasn’t the first time I got left behind and got upset. So I tracked it back to a time my mother let me off for toddler Sunday School; she watched me go into the building but didn’t realize no one was there yet and I was 3 years old and alone in the dark. So when people leave me behind, I respond like the 3-year old me. That, of course, is something that can’t happen again. The way I will get past it is to be aware of that trauma response, to remind myself that people leaving the building doesn’t mean they will leave me alone in a strange cite, and that I’m a grown up now! I have money and credit cards! I can Uber or get a rental car or call someone to pick me up.

    Certainly, some triggers may need professional help to overcome. Certainly, my 1st therapist set me up to be successful in doing so. And certainly, I’m likely to have other moments like this again. What makes the difference is not giving the trigger in the present all the power (like, I can’t go to some movie theater because I went there with Jackass). Unpacking the “trigger” has been very powerful for me.

    • LAJ – This is interesting. My dreams since leaving have been comprised almost entirely of navigating my way back home in dark of night, over washed-out roads but with the knowledge I have the resources to find my way.

  • As someone who got a massive amount of dirty details about cheating, I can attest that this doesn’t stop the flashbacks or ruminations. At first you think it’s going to but it just leads to more horror for your traumatized brain to mull over. The only benefit I can think of– which isn’t a small thing– is that, eventually, the more you know, the more stupid, cringy gross, deformed, maudlin and loserish cheaters and their collaborators appear. It’s demythologizing and at least fodder for gallows humor which can be healing. Laughing beats staring at walls for hours in stricken horror in any case.

    And if you can laugh about it or cry about it with someone else, all the better. The only real cure for that kind of social trauma that I know of, aside from time and safety and distance, is appropriate and empathic social support. I wrote the other day about the biblical passage and film title, “The Power of the Dog.” The power of the dog lies in the pack– the illusory despair that defeated victims have that evil is legion and all powerful. And affairs have a kind of “mob rule” element woven into them because they’re at least “two against one” if not more and because of the tendency of domestic abusers to feverishly grub approval from bystanders, character assassinate victims and grub cultural rationales for their behavior. So I think the remedy is seeing it demonstrated– over and over for a long, long time– that this is not true, that decency outstrips evil. I wince when I hear the common idea that victims suffer from “low self esteem” when I think what victims really suffer from is “low esteem for the world” and it’s that which needs to be corrected.

    Sometimes it can help to change environments to see another perspective of humanity. My kids and I live part of the year in a country that, not so long ago, suffered a violent military coup and subsequent reign of terror and has been in “recovery” from this period ever since. We originally visited the country for an extended stay as medical tourists to get specialized medical care for my chronically ill middle child. That in itself was a great experience. I’d never experienced so many medical practitioners who actually care about their patients. I enrolled the kids in all sorts of classes and, by the time it was time to go home, the kids didn’t want to. They were having a ball. So was I. I arranged a long term lease, started the residency process and figuring out how we could spend part of every year there in the future. FW can’t legally stop us coming and going at will because he encouraged– in writing– the second extended stay overseas to facilitate his affair and even obstructed our ability to return at a few points.

    I think part of why the experience was so positive for us is that we were in a country that’s been recovering from trauma while we ourselves were recovering from repeat trauma. To cut a long story short that I’ve told before, my once chronically ill and disabled son was physically abused by staff in a district school. The school retaliated against my other children and legally threatened me after I filed a civil rights complaint. All sorts of horror and drama ensued including deep family rifts and having to fight off false charges of educational neglect, etc. All of this was added to the trauma of my son’s long and scary illness, years of sleep deprivation and the general dearth of social, medical or educational support we all experienced. And then FW did his fuckwit thing (insert long tortured scream).

    Unlike many of the countries that went through similar political terror, our adopted part-time country began bringing the culprits to justice and rectifying wrongs in a systematic way. There are tribute plaques to victims everywhere, schools teach about that period and there are yearly memorials, parades and marches in honor of victims and the survivors who wouldn’t shut up. The people who went through those years of persecution and fear as teens and young adults remember everything about it and the subject comes up a lot in casual conversation. In fact, there’s rarely any sense of social “faux pas” for referring to that history.

    The only people who seem offended when that subject comes up are the ones whose families were on the wrong side of the war and profited from it. But people like that are such an embattled minority that they stand out like sore thumbs except in their insular, muttering little guilt-enclaves Even political conservatives distance themselves from that ilk and make a show of supporting the remedy against past repression and silencing– which involves the open and continuous discourse and remembrance, a lesson obviously taught by the Holocaust.

    The consensus between survivors seems to be, to quote Doris Lessing, “We all remember that time. It was no different for me than for others. Yet we do tell each other over and over again the particularities of the events we shared and the repetition, the listening, it is as if we are saying: It was like that for you too? Then that confirms it, yes, it was so it must have been. I wasn’t imagining things.” This creates such an interesting difference between the general social “ambiance” in the US– where PTSD is generally framed as a form of mental illness and there’s a shameful feeling of “psychiatric inquisition” towards sufferers which makes people very careful of alluding to harsh experiences lest they get the “tut tut” from bystanders– and this other country where PTSD is, for many, “last Tuesday.” Not kidding. Rough account of a classic exchange I heard between an antique dealer and one of his childhood friends.

    “So last Tuesday I had flashbacks for the whole afternoon. Remember how [secret police] came to the school?”
    “Yeah, whatever happened to X?”
    “He’s fine.”
    “I thought he was dead.”
    ” I saw him at the club.”
    Contemplative lull…
    “I need to start swimming again but chlorine bothers my eyes.”
    “We have salt tech. It’s like swimming in your own tears.”
    “Better than swimming in urine. But does it kill germs?”
    “It hasn’t killed me yet!”

    For some reference, people the violent past regime didn’t like or anyone who tried to help people the regime didn’t like were regarded as “human viruses” that the country needed to be “vaccinated against” by abducting, torturing and killing tens of thousands of journalists, students, scholars, hippies, priests, nuns, homosexuals, etc. Although military ghouls tried to argue in their trials that they were saving the country from terrorists, there hadn’t been any terrorism for the five years before the coup. Consequently the idea that perpetrators typically backfill the narrative with lies, exaggerations and rationales at victims’ expense is quite easily understood by most people and often discussed in shorthand.

    Shorthand is beautiful. People aptly finishing your sentences is beautiful. People not freaking out when anyone brings up something harsh is beautiful. Conversations flowing from references to something terrible and back to cheerful normality is beautiful. It means everyone knows the same thing and that, for the moment, you’re safe. Ive since learned that this is not the case in countries that didn’t bring perpetrators to justice and still name squares after past violent dictators. I’ve heard the complaints and I’m not the only foreigner who’s noticed there’s a bit less social censure in this country. Whenever you say that to a native they might argue a bit that it’s really not so great and launch into a diatribe about everything that’s wrong with the country from economy to politics to social problems. But then I just smile and tell them how wonderful it is to see how free people are to complain and form their own analyses. I love seeing the weekly street protests and labor demonstrations.

    It’s hard to explain how this kind of social environment begins seeping under your skin. It made me mentally relax in ways I never had before. I’ve encountered plenty of garden variety assholes in this country just like everywhere else but there’s always the sense that they’re somehow outnumbered and this perception dulls the sting of assholery. For instance, if you have a random unfortunate asshole encounter, you know you can probably blurt or joke about it to the very next person you meet because this social norm of “processing trauma” seems to have become naturally inclusive. Even the conversation with the antique dealer was set off by my mentioning how I had to homeschool and hand select tutors for my son after his school abuse experience just to get him away from trauma triggers and let him rebuild trust in adults. We started talking about flashbacks and his friend joined in. I didn’t feel like he’d hijacked the conversation to talk about his own experience but instead was showing his recognition of the seriousness of my family’s experience by analogizing it to an event the entire world recognizes as extreme injustice. I wouldn’t have dared to make the analogy myself. My kids didn’t die. There’s no comparison, yet there’s always some small fragment in common in all injustice and trauma. The antique dealer, as the horse’s mouth, saw the overlaps and took me as someone who would probably understand the rest. The generosity of that is pretty astounding.

    That said, talking about cheating openly is another matter regardless of where you live. Unlike the shriveled little puddle of angry former supporters of the dictatorship, the league of cheaters and their apologists is transnational and ubiquitous. But even so I found the social response to be generally a bit healthier. I enjoyed all the quippy folk sayings about cheaters. And if someone seems fairly sympathetic, it doesn’t take much for them to understand things like perpetrators falsely blaming victims and the rest. They can finish your sentences. It’s like having stones taken out of your pockets.

    I’m not necessarily recommending international travel as a cure for betrayal trauma. I’m not even saying I know the answer because, em, here I am ruminating and mulling like everyone else. I’m just making the case that social response and maybe even political environment seem to carry a huge amount of weight in terms of recovery. When I find myself stalling in recovery, I relate it to a sense that the world doesn’t seem safe to me so I try to throw the net wider and make my world bigger. Any effort to reach out and expand support networks might gradually begin to dull the power of intrusive memories. They never fully go away but simply start to feel different in direct proportion to the perception that at least part of the world is on your side. And finally, there’s one thing that I think makes this more likely to happen: learning about what other put-upon groups of people have been through and pitching in. I know we’re supposed to say that getting involved and doing service is healing because of the philanthropic aspects of of it but I’d argue that it also develops a kind of political armature and understanding of abuse of power and betrayal in all sorts of contexts and bonus, puts us in contact with others who get it. Not that you would then take that knowledge and interject with, say, “My being cheated on and emotionally abused is exactly like you having your hand cut off in a diamond mine in the Congo!” But people like this are more likely to understand the whole range of related themes. “Getting” other people’s experiences, even if seemingly unrelated, feels like a passport to a better side of world.

  • Hearing any song by Pearl Jam which was his favorite band. I immediately change the station. Also, triggered when I see men vaping. My ex gave his discard speech in between vape drags.

    • I hope he vaped that “popcorn lung” chemical. I suppose “Fatal” wasn’t his favorite song since it’s about a guy being cheated on. I think cheaters don’t mind “doormat format” songs where someone wails about their undying love for the one who done ’em wrong. So much centrality. But a harsh little song like this doesn’t have much kibble.

  • This week my STBXH and I reached an agreement which had taken 12 months. Today I am feeling triggered as I fill out the court forms. This is my second cheater and I am reminded of my first divorce with a newborn and 6 year old. Enduring so many many years of eating SS. Now going through lawyers again, betrayal again, paper work again, it stuns me and I’m feeling drained from all these men who hurt me to the core. I am grateful for no babies this marriage to give up on weekends or family events. But I am hurting for the 2 marriages gone and every wedding, baby shower, trip I take, place I eat out, B&B I pass, reminds me of XH#1 & XH#2. It is devastating. I have not had full recovery time after these 12 months of running away from raging and threats and cheating with multiple women, and filing and hiding, so I have a Long long way to go. But the good days I have are full and I am free to heal. Triggers are everywhere I see couples or happy families or kids with both mom and dad. Older couples hand in hand like I thought we would be. We had burial plots together, that gets me too. There is an undercurrent of grief in every day. BUT in between grief is the fact that I ( God)saved me through many miracles and a courageous therapist who told me to get out now)that I can sleep alone without being used, that a man can never hurt me again because I will only have friends at my age. No more STDs, no more watching into late nights for him to come home, no more raging or lies or punishment for not doing as he wished, no more me acting as a full time therapist trying to figure out what flavor mood is going on today, how do I act to keep the peace. I know this will get better because the reality is, I was sinking like the titanic from intimate abuse and my STBXHs progressive mental illness and cheating. God saved my life and I was granted more years to live in peace and safety. My thoughts change to singing praises rather than crying the blues. Triggers remind me I loved my former cheaters with all my heart so my side of the street is clean no matter lies have been told about me. Let’s kick the flashbacks to the curb, we are free!

  • Thank you CN – this post resonates a lot for me. There were many triggers which affected me terribly every day for a LONG time. I went from trying to remove all of the triggers, to (finally) turning the situation around and doing something nice for myself each time I felt triggered (self care). It took a while, but turning a negative into a positive seemed to work well for me.

    • …and the movie ‘Love Actually’ triggered me big time as I caught him window-shopping for an expensive bracelet and necklace for her. I got a tooth flosser from him for Christmas that year. (GFs get diamonds, wives get coal.)🙁

  • So. It’s been 6 years, and I don’t visit this site obsessively like I did in the beginning. (Thank you, Tracy, for the best therapy I could have gotten!) Anyway, I’m on here today because…

    My lovely, brilliant daughter was accepted to NYU. They accepted 6000 out of 120,000 applicants, so this was an amazing achievement and opportunity. Was. FW, who married his millionaire OW in February, has a high six-figure income. He pays me 36k total for alimony and child support. He knew last fall that she wanted to go to NYU. He knew she applied, when she applied. Only after she was accepted, he told her “even if I was a multimillionaire, I wouldn’t pay for you to go to NYU.” No reason. No explanation. Of course, that’s his MO. I offered to forfeit my alimony, take care of her personal expenses, and pay a few thousand a year on top of that. Nope. She was told that she had to go to an in-state school because it’s the cheapest, but, of course, it doesn’t come close to the prestige of NYU. Once again, I had to watch powerlessly as her heart broke into pieces.

    She’s graduating in two weeks, and she asked him not to be there, but he’s refusing to honor her wishes. I am dreading this day, which is supposed to be such a happy time. I’m so angry at him, and so sad for her. I don’t know how I’m going to make it without breaking down in some way. I won’t do it in front of her, but I know it will happen when I’m alone. And I’m dreading it…

    • His reason was to hurt you by hurting her. That’s it. Because he’s a cruel person.

      • I honestly believe he doesn’t think of anyone else long enough to be intentionally cruel. He’s just selfish and ignorant. The results are felt as cruelty just the same, but he gets no credit for actually thinking about someone else, either negatively or positively.

    • How aren’t you going to break down? Your icon says it all, Chump Queen. You are strong, and so is your daughter. She’s brilliant and made the best of it, and she knows you’ll support her no matter what. Your ex is unwanted and will show up for all the wrong reasons, but he is a third wheel who has has ZERO to hang over your heads now or ever. He may detract from the ceremony/weekend, but fuck him. He’s not central to either of your lives or futures. Congrats to you and your daughter! I hope you can go somewhere to celebrate together. This is just the beginning, and the ceremony is just a number ticking past on the odometer.’

      • Thanks. I will remember that he’s peripheral, and this is just a moment.

    • ChumpQueen, I am so, so sorry for you and your daughter. I’ve no doubt that your joint power will overcome that tiny, insecure, pathetic little man. I hope you are able to look at him like the queen you are, with an expression of absolute disdain. Please don’t let it detract from the day. My parents sulked throughout my graduation and made it very difficult. I was embarrassed by their behaviour and remember it well over 40 years later. You’ve got this!

      • Thank you! I will not show my feelings because I will not ruin this for her.

        • You are a good woman. It still grinds my gears that my forever husband’s XW refused to contribute a dime to their daughter’s university education then showed up on graduation day with a lavish graduation gift. She is a shrew and I cant stand her (he did not tell “terrible XW stories to me, he was respectful…she convince me of her ghastliness all on her own).

    • I’m so sorry, Chump Queen. My son didn’t get into that good of a school, but it was out of state and expensive. Ex-FW has family wealth, so my son confirmed with FW that FW would pay out of state tuition before he even applied to the school. Then after he got in, FW threw a hissy fit and said he wouldn’t pay after all. He did ultimately change his mind after putting my son through panic and tears.

      Your ex is horrific. He’s ruining his relationship with his daughter, and it’s crazy he doesn’t seem to care. Your daughter is brilliant. She will be fine at a state school if it comes to that. But I do understand the heartache and disappointment. There really are no words for these creeps.

      As for the graduation, I feel your pain there too. I basically looked over my shoulder the whole time dreading to run into FW and left early, immediately after it was over, so I didn’t meet my son afterwards in the courtyard, take pictures like a normal parent, etc. I’m not sure it was the right choice in hindsight, but it was all I could muster at the time. Sending you strength.

  • polyamory; “silver linings,” “forgiveness” and “mindfulness”; anti-choice BS; book bans; blended family propaganda; mommy blog culture; abusive dynamics (experiences or observed)

    • Oof- “polyamory” and “nonmonogamy”…. ways I thought to redefine my marriage and resolve the fundamental sexual differences with gay ex. Feels like a punch to my sternum when I hear those terms.

      • I absolutely hate the concept of non monogamous relationships. Other people can do them, but definitely not with me.
        CL is fair here and she is correct when she says polyamory isn’t the answer to cheating nor is it an excuse for cheaters to do what they want, poly folks can still have their boundaries violated by dishonest partners. I know that for sure.

        Being poly was an attempt to save my marriage and all that did was show me exactly how many ways you can have your boundaries violated in a poly setting.

        It’s now one of my biggest, immediate walk away dealbreakers.

  • Felt constantly triggered by anything Eastern European since a month after STB estranged spouse returned from sudden “humanitarian trip attempt”to a war torn country, translated D day of regular emails from Eastern European scam dating site. After traveling over 4500 miles, just a few days after Christmas, Online AP was supposedly a no show ( “got Covid”). Still intent was there. A sick person using a horrific war to pursue their sexual fantasies. For a while did not want to see it on the news, hear about the culture, churches, food etc. Sounds bizarre and it was. The need for hyper vigilance around devices, going downstairs to the home computer where I found the emails, porn, later multiple images uploaded from the dating site, and dick pics taken down there (secret sexual basement apparently).

  • I think it’s easier not to be triggered if you’re able to significantly change your life for the better or don’t end up worse off after D-day, like if you find a new partner, make new/different friends, move to a new city, get a promotion, etc. Some of us aren’t that lucky and are constantly reminded of what we’ve lost instead of gained.

    A tiny example: I am extremely noise sensitive and a super light sleeper. I wear $300 noise-canceling earplugs at night and installed a $3,000 double laminated bedroom window. I still wake up to noise every single night, though, and thus I get very fractured sleep, which is definitely not good for my health. And every night when I’m awakened at 3 am by the guy across the street with the loud motorcycle and the weird work schedule who moved in after I bought my house, and at 5-6 am by the small plane or two that I didn’t know flew directly over my house, I’m reminded that I used to live in a peaceful, quiet, high-end neighborhood, and I slept through the night virtually every night. And the reason I don’t anymore and my health is suffering is because of FW. I also have constant anxiety about neighbors moving next door that might make noise because I now live where the lots are tiny, instead of large. So every single day I’m “triggered.” Every. Single. Day. No contact helps, but I can’t escape the negative repercussions of the FW’s behavior. They directly impact me in a negative way every single day. Unless I win the lottery or re-marry so I can move to a better neighborhood, I don’t think I’ll ever truly teach meh. I try not to be “woe is me” all the time, but it’s just the truth. Yes, I could move now, but when you’re just moving from one mediocre neighborhood to another, it doesn’t solve anything.

    • Oh, and I forgot the police helicopters flying overhead at all hours of the night that don’t fly over nicer neighborhoods. But again, this is just my one small example of why it’s hard not to be triggered all the time. I’m still fortunate to have what I have, but it’s impossible not to be constantly reminded, even if not “triggered,” of how FW blew up my life for the worse.

      • I feel this every day too, CBN. I bought the ex out of the marital home; I could not face a sale at the time, because of my mental and physical state. I had a go at selling the house last year, just as circumstances in England were in total chaos. There was no interest. That set me back badly. I felt exactly as you describe, and it’s been up and down ever since. I’ve made a plan to sell the house next year and I’m taking tiny steps towards that now. I’m only 3.5 years out and I’m trying to show myself compassion and patience. At 63, I am starting to see, through therapy, the extent of the verbal and, yes, physical abuse with which I’ve been dealing for most of my life from one source or another. That realisation is helping me to make better choices for myself, and stop the people pleasing which has dogged me forever. In most ways I am grateful to the ex for leaving me (runaway avoidant). Financially it is hard because I was cheated by him in that respect too. I worked for the marriage, he worked for himself. Some days, I really do hate him.

        • CBN and MightyWarrior, I feel both of you. I live in a nice enough home, although it’s definitely missing some of the nicer things I once had – like a good bathtub and a garden. I could build another garden, but I work so hard to make money that I don’t have any energy left afterwards. And I’ve built, and lost, 2 beautiful gardens in my life because of FW. I just don’t know if I can do it all over again. Anyway, my neighbor is a hoarder and lives in filth, which has spilled out into his front and back yards, so every time I come home, I get depressed and think of my old house. I loved that house so much, and FW refused to work out a way for me to have it. So, in a lot of ways, my home is a trigger too.

          • CQ, Sounds like you’re doing your best, but it is hard to move on and lose the home you loved. But at least you are not living with the FW. Instead of a full-on garden try some hanging or potted plants, some window boxes on a porch if you have one. You can even grow a few vegetables in pots. Keep it simple so you can keep up with it. Hope it will bring you some solace and happiness. As for the neighbor, try calling Code Enforcement.

          • Mighty Warrior and Chump Queen, thank you so much for responding. After I posted, I wondered if anyone would get what I was saying, because although the chump’s life is better in certain ways when the FW is gone, there are often very real ways in which it’s not, and they can stare you in the face every single day and they’re not fixable by therapy, or a positive outlook, or meditation, or anything, really. My lack of sleep and constant low-grade anxiety about where I live are not going to go away with the passage of time, and I can’t imagine they’re not affecting my health and reducing my life span. Thus, triggers every single day. No getting around it.

            I’m also older, 60, and was with FW for 30 years, so that makes it harder too. Keeping it real, I don’t have a whole lot of years left to solve my practical issues. And it’s not the pain Olympics, but being with someone for that long who stabs you in the back only makes you angrier and more triggered by what they did and where you ended up as a result. If I was 30 in my current situation, I’d feel very different.

            All that said, I try to be thankful for what I have, but for me personally there will always be triggers. Always. And they won’t fade or go away unless my practical circumstances change.

  • I am late to this, but will still speak.

    My triggers are less now; the ones still around-
    *seeing his name as it’s part of common English
    *some love songs
    *some movies
    *”jokes” about cheating and lying and addiction
    *seeing happy couples in the world
    *seeing runners on the road
    *the mementos from the trips we took

    What am I doing about these?
    *Going to therapy and doing DBR (Deep Brain Reprocessing), which is a different method than EMDR that addresses my types of traumas
    *Reframing the trips as something I enjoyed and liked regardless of the company
    *Acknowledging the triggers and redirecting my attention to something else (like from the couples to the weather and color of the sky or the errand i’m running etc)
    *Switching things off if possible, like the radio station or the TV show. It’s ok to not have those in my life again. Some shows I used to love I can’t face, maybe not ever again. And that’s ok. There will be others eventually, especially if I really start watching TV again
    *I kinda zone out for the jokes if i can’t remove myself and if it’s with a group of people i try to change the subject. Being assertive is also something i’m working on in therapy, not directly because of “him” but he helped me realize my boundaries aren’t as great as I’d thought

    • Well done, innocence, on the steps you are taking to help with your recovery. I’m taking a couple of them on board. Reframing trips, in particular. The ex told me that our holidays had not been that great (he knew that they mattered to me and his comment was intentionally abusive). I am struggling to face holidays that I have booked, even though I have no problem travelling alone. Holidays I have been on recently have been difficult. Reframing past trips in terms of my enjoyment and pleasure regardless of the ex’s presence may help. Thank you.

  • Triggers;
    Places mostly, but people as well, certain cars, sunny days, rainy days, cloudy days, the house I live in, social media, and another hundred things but 2 years from Dday I am much better

  • As I mentioned in another post, my triggers are much less now. Most of them last a minute or so, and I do not ruminate over them afterwards. I used to spend hours thinking about my triggers, him, thinking about why he changed into this person I do not recognise, whether he has a mental problem, how I can dance better to get his attention. I am so glad those horrible days over. It took me about 3 years to feel like myself after I left him.

    I reclaimed my old life. But I still didn’t/couldn’t do one thing. Our honeymoon was over 10 years ago in a little village. We frequently visited there after the honeymoon, and made many memories related to the place.
    Our honeymoon was in a very old, low cost cabin with no hot water or restroom (we had to use a public restroom). We joked about the rich people in the village and talked about how boring it would be to spend time in the super luxury hotel of the village. We walked by that hotel many times while visiting, and always convinced ourselves that our honeymoon cabin was better. We were happy like teenager kids, or at least from my perspective.

    Years later, he took ap to that village around our anniversary date. As you guessed to that luxury hotel. I will never forget how cruel he was to our innocent memories.

    • I feel ya on that one, NFV. Mine took a dump all over our special places by bringing OW to them as well. I suspect this is common FW behavior. They are trying to erase the good memories of the chump by making new ones with the AP. That way they can bolster the standard “unhappy for years” lie by pretending those good times never happened. Also, they lack imagination and originality in wooing their skanks.
      I was very hurt that my FW did that. Now I’m glad he did it, because it helped me to see I had nothing to work with.

    • That is low. Cruel and despicable, but that’s how they are. It is hard to understand the way these people flip on a dime. I’m starting to stop trying to. Glad you are starting to feel better and make your own life. I’m just starting the process of trying to do that.

  • After 6 years of divorce. I just started dating. My new man. Has a nasty way of being entitled. He was a mama’s boy. And it comes out every so often. I point it out to him. And go about my day. When he starts making fun of the situation. I just mention that we do not need to continue to date. He states how much younger he is than me ( 3 years). I tell him you are free to find a sweet young woman. Party on with someone else.

    • It seems to me like you have been “fixing your picker”. (“I point it out to him. And go about my day.”) Good for you! Sounds to me like you are becoming mightier by the day.

      I also think that, eventually, you will “party on with someone else”. Someone who glories in your mightiness.

  • I haven’t managed full no contact because of our 7 yo. Today at baseball, we chatted and it was peaceful. Except he still claims I broke him, he was not clinically depressed. It was me. I ruined him. And he didn’t leave for her.

    That triggers me. Then I realized maybe talking to him cordially even needs to stop. He has this silly idea we will be best friends one day and get to family vacation today. I am not friends with people who abandon me 🤷‍♀️

  • Hmm. I’m not sure if I have any exact triggers at this point. I just think it’s general things, now. The FW XW lives w/her AP and current partner an eighth of a mile behind the crappy house I bought her out of. She was a local politician, and very recently has been able to reinstate herself, unfortunately, as one in our mutual New England village turned city. That triggered me a bit. I now have to deal w/her as my political representative. Again.

    What also triggers me is when the FW XW does or says something selfish to the kids or me. Again, very recently, my son and younger daughter made it clear to me that for my son’s eighteenth birthday in October, their mother is going to Spain w/her partner. She’s obviously very eager to win Mother of the Year.🙄 Or as I’ve said a few times here, when she told me this fall that she’d like us to be cordial in our relations w/each other. As in, let’s be friends!🤢🤮

    That’s what gets me reacting. Bringing back all the shit she pulled on me and our family through the years, and especially the last two or so as she was discarding our family and me.

    Time without having to deal w/her bullshit is what helps me. Hard grey rock.

    Wishing everyone a good weekend. Enjoy yourselves, if at all possible.

    • Hi Longrun, My comment follows yours. Ouch, I feel for you and your beautiful children. Thank God they have you. It will sting for your son that his mom blew him off for one of life’s biggest milestones. And it may hurt for years to come. It must be especially galling to have your FW ex endorsed by the community as a representative to all! Too bad she wasn’t there to represent herself as a parent. My ex treated our children badly too. While my indignities were painful, it hurts me most when I remember him being mean/demeaning/contemptuous to them. Kudos to you for being there in every meaningful way.

  • Hi CN, Today is a big trigger, my birthday. Even though I separated/divorced almost 20 years ago. My ex wanted to celebrate the b-day a day early. He HAD to fly out of town early on a Sunday to attend a Monday morning meeting in NYC (we lived in Washington, DC.) Turns out he was leaving early to spend Sunday/Sunday night with his FW. Ah, an insult that never seems to end. While I have managed to move beyond most of these emotional bombshells, the b-day plus Mother’s Day ( preparing the celebratory brunch myself to honor myself) are still painful. What is not hard are the countless hugs, kisses and loving words from my children and grandchildren.

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