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Your Bravest Moment Leaving a Cheater

fuck this shitI was thinking about brave moments recently. The tipping point between fear and fck-this-sht. When you have no idea what the path ahead looks like, but you bushwhack one. It’s totally terrifying, but you do it anyway.

We’re a nation made up of such courageous people.

People often ask me why I keep doing this blog, when I’m many years removed from the nightmare. Isn’t it depressing? Aren’t you sick of the same stories over and over again?

No. It’s the most meaningful work I’ve ever done. I don’t care about cheater Schmoopie shenanigans — I’m here for the comeback stories. You guys inspire me.

And not just the ones of you who are far out from the nightmare too — who have that fuller arc of mightiness to relate — but those who are starting the F-this-shit journey. I’m cheering at the sidelines. Do you know how gratified I am that you’re doing the hard things? Not making the mistakes I once made?

I’m thinking about yesterday’s letter writer (who got married off to a sex predator in Pakistan). She wrote me the most beautiful letter, which I woke up to this morning, thanking us for our replies. How it strengthened her and how deeply she appreciates it.

What a badass she is! Can you imagine going up against those forces? Of a creep that wants you to keep fronting his deviant life, and a family and culture that divorce shame you?

Today’s Friday Challenge is to tell CN about the moment you decided not to take it anymore. What did you fear, and how did you push forward anyway? 

The newly chumped are listening and watching. Thanks for setting a good example.


Speaking of listening — the interview Sarah and I did with therapist Andrew G. Marshall for the Tell Me How You’re Mighty podcast is about to drop, and folks, it’s a total shit show. We politely challenged some of his reconciliation advice and he did not like it one bit.

If you can’t wait until Tuesday, you can listen early as a patron on Patreon. I would appreciate the support with this brand new adventure in narrative changing. Also, please review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks!

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.
  • Brave? Don’t know if you could define it as such. During an attempted divorce mediation, I walked out after six hours of nonsense. I told them all (when my lawyer stated you shouldn’t have done that), my past may have been based upon his lies, but my future will not be! That day was the closest I ever came to a nervous breakdown. You cannot mediate with a Sociopath.

    • I did my own divorce in California with the Nolo self-help book. Paid for the additional help package, which got a human to answer any questions and an hour of counseling for each party, and an optional hour of mediation. So I was willing to do ONE hour of mediation, with any more at 100% my FW’s expense. He was a “frugal” Sociopath, and inclined to deny me anything he thought I wanted, so he refused mediation and the one-hour consult. I cut the family pie 50:50, so in our family dynamic, he could choose which half to keep. A little hiccup when he wanted both. I answered, “So buy me out.” He couldn’t raise the cash, and I shrugged. When he gave me some more grief, I added a claim for alimony, and he gave me the present value as a lump sum to be done. I’ve been doing great ever since; he flailed around, got sick and died. Sorry not sorry.

      • I wish mine had been a frugal sociopath. He had no problems spending like crazy on his $700/hour attorney while I was working in retail and had two other small part-time jobs. My attorney felt so bad about it that he started not logging a lot of it or writing it off (“because it’s my firm”). He got it done though with no trial, which I am forever thankful for.

    • So true!!! I walked out of our second mediation. Told the cheater apologist mediatior that I would never willing agree to screw my financial future as he was pressuring me to do— he wanted me to accept 50/50 custody and 20% of assets when X was diagnosed as BPD – psychopath and hadn’t seen our 10 year old in nearly 2 years and had told her he hated every minute of her life and she developed major panic attack disorder from X’s violence in her presence (he almost broke my arm in an elevator with our daughter next to me). I went to trial. Got full custody and 82% of assets. I always wanted to send my divorce decree to that fucker but why waste my breath.

      • It seems to me that even with a competent mediator it is a waste of time trying to work with a FW. I was desperate to keep it civil and made an appointment with a mediator who was very polite and well regarded. She asked FW what he thought a fair settlement would be and he said he would ‘let’ me live in an apartment he owns. (As as aside, it turns out that it’s half mine too because it was acquired during the marriage.)

        In his most solicitous voice he also said he would pay utilities and condo fees and bring me ‘some’ groceries. When asked what he was prepared to give me as support he said he thought $200 a month would be sufficient (this was only three years ago). When she told him it would more likely be $2,000 a month he nearly fell off his chair. He refused to go back and so I found an attorney and proceeded to sue him for divorce.

        The judge issued a safeguard order (during covid) because he was going around like nothing was happening and I have health issues. FW was ordered to go live in that apartment, leaving me in the family home and he has to pay condo fees, taxes, and insurance plus give me $2,000 a month. We had a settlement conference with a retired judge and came to an agreement which he promptly backed out of two weeks later with no explanation. So now we are forced to go to trial and it’s taking forever because of the backlog due to covid and their stalling tactics. The moral of this story is that there is no dealing with a lying, cheating FW in a sensible manner so forget the niceties. Save yourself time and money (and grief).

        To get back to today’s theme though, each of these steps seemed so daunting but I’ve discovered that once I was in the process it wasn’t so bad. I have a kind attorney and Chump Lady and Chump Nation have given me steel in my spine. Just remember, anyone who is struggling right now, it does get better. I hope you all have a good weekend!

        • Yep. My FW wanted mediation and I said no way. We settle or go to court. I knew mediation was one more way to abuse me

        • Mine backed out without warning on the settlement conference and we have to go to trial. I’m so pissed about that I just can’t even….

    • I see a theme developing here – don’t do mediation with cheaters! Mine tried to go behind my back and influence the mediator without my knowledge. She soon realized her mistake in humoring his behavior but it was too late. I fired the mediator and have done everything else through attorneys.

      • I am a lawyer and mediator and there was no way I was mediating with FW unless I was ordered to do so. He was gagging for me to mediate (mentioned it through his lawyer so many times as to be comedic) so I could be subjected to the victim act one last time. t
        The disordered really are totally deluded (surprise!) and don’t realise the game is up.
        The legal system is abusive to victims, making a target sit in a room with an abuser as if something good will come from it when all the abuser wants is a power play. But if there is no alternative (as in it is mandated and for no other reason) you have to steel yourself to follow the steps and get through. Ask for a shuttle, or get a lawyer on board and prepare yourself mentally for hours of bs and manipulation. One Moms Battle has some good resources about mediating. She suggests using it only as an information collection opportunity. I was planning to levitate above my body for 6 hours if I was forced to mediate, or take my DSM5 in and nod and point enthusiastically at various pages whenever FW spoke, but fortunately after 2 1/2 years of utter drivel and lies my lawyer filed which caused a last minute offer to settle on similar to terms to what I had asked for at the start ( amusingly FW said he would apply for a stay of proceedings as I hadn’t made a genuine effort to resolve because “we hadn’t mediated”). I will never have to sit in a room with that d head ever again thank lord.
        Ps Write to your Attorney General about your experience mediating with an abuser. Nothing will change if victims don’t speak out about what is happening to them.

        • “The legal system is abusive to victims, making a target sit in a room with an abuser…”
          Could not agree more.
          PS – Churches are abusive in this way too.

        • I was fortunate that the court called me and asked if there had been any abuse in my relationship, so I described a few of the worst incidents. She then asked if I would feel intimidated being in a room with FW, and I said YES. So they didn’t even offer mediation. We went straight to negotiations and would have gone to trial if FW had lived.

          The custody evaluator (FW insisted on a custody evaluation, in spite of the expense), on hearing that there was abuse, allowed me to do my “history taking” session separate from FW. Even though all the advice I saw said to talk more about his treatment of the child (not particulary abusive, at least not overtly) than my own situation, the custody evaluator’s questions were more about his treatment of me. She seemed particularly interested in the fact that he had not taken care of me or helped around the house when I was dangerously ill and shouldn’t have been doing any housework. I also got to do my session first, and so get ahead of FW’s excuses and version of the story. The evaluator never called me back to ask any clarifying questions, and based on what my attorney told me of their conversation, it seemed like she believed me. Which was such a relief.

      • I was so conflicted about whether to go to court or mediate. The FW wouldn’t engage with negotiations- I just kept getting arsey letters from his lawyer that never once made an offer or counteroffer. We ended up with a shuttle mediation so we were in different rooms. The mediator was good but pushy. The FW wanted to leave early so we made a hasty settlement. I feel screwed over but I was- I married a cheating FW. The end was never going to be good or fair. FW didn’t care about laws or rules. He wasn’t paying child support anyway despite me having our daughter full time (he didn’t fight for custody). He didn’t care when he got huge fees and they clamped his car once trying to collect child support. Given that, I decided to get rid of him rather than having to be in the system for years. The mediator asked me an interesting question. He said, “imagine yourself getting random, small amounts of child support that the tax department collects and sends you small pay outs here and there for the next 30 years. How will that feel seeing that small amount show up in your account?” He had a massive point that I couldn’t argue with. I cut him lose and lost some money but gained my sanity and cut off all opportunities for him to get kibbles. I also didn’t want to feel like a victim of an unfair system. I’d had enough.

        • If a mediator asked me that, I think my response would have been that I would feel good that the system is doing its job getting me what I am due. I guess he knew which button to push to get you to concede. Everyone has a breaking point. My goal is for klootzak to pay what he owes. That’s as much justice as I will be able to get. I would rather see those meager payments for the rest of my days than be living with him.

      • Mediation is free, here (paid for by gov’t for anyone who is separating and has kids, reduces the load on the courts), AND it looks good in court that you were at least willing to try it. So I went, it could have been very helpful, as the mediator told us what the court would likely decide. Of course, mediating w/a fuckwit went about as expected.

        So HE filed a court case (around custody and $, since we weren’t married and there’s no common-law here). Then didn’t show up to the court date, OR send a lawyer!!! Such a narc move. The judge was PISSED. Gave me exactly what my lawyer had suggested we propose (very fair, very by-the-book and with custody based on current conditions HE accepted, having the kids 15% of the time in this default-50%-50% jurisdiction) after refusing to even look at the docs we had to support everything we were saying. Judge said’ ‘Since Mr Fuckwit isn’t here to dispute anything you are saying, I’m going to just assume that it’s all correct.’

        As we walked out, my lawyer said that if she had had any inkling Fuckwit wouldn’t show, she would have asked for all the court expenses AND her fees to be charged to Fuckwit, the judge would have totally gone for it, he was so mad. Just goes to show, they don’t respect anyone or anything, except a bigger bully than themselves. Fortunately the gov’t here is the bigger bully and has enforced everything.

  • In my case FW immediately walked out when I figured out he was a cheater and confronted him. But as my head was exploding and trauma took hold (and he called the police later that night to have me taken away), I remember thinking “I have to save myself and my son.” And I became focused on getting a lawyer right away, even though FW said I’d have to wait a year of separation. Then when I was told by my lawyer that I could get a private investigator through them to help build our case to serve him right away, I moved forward with it, even while I was shaking and scared to death.

    And I found the courage to ask crazy questions of FW to help the PI track them. The first weeks after FW left us, I’d let FW come into the house to pick up son to take him to summer camp. And the PI needed some info on APs car to help him track them. So while making a meal with FW reclining in a chair near the kitchen, he mentioned that APs youngest son was the “same” as our son. I asked him how? And FW said that APs son had some special needs and that AP was looking at a private school. I asked “how is she paying for it? Is she expecting you to pay?” He said “no!” I said “oh.. Then she’s rich ?” He said “no.” So I said “really? What kind of car does she drive?” (See where I was going with this for the PI? The whole time, I was shaking inside). He said defiantly “an old Honda Odyssey.” I responded “Like the one my sister had that you hated — that’s gold ?” He said “it’s silver.” I said “You said she’s from Maryland and you hate Maryland drivers. Let me guess… Maryland plates?” And he said “no, Virginia.”

    I shit you not.

    I somehow also managed to get him chatting about how excited he was about dating AP. And he blurted that they were going to an outdoor showing of Ferris Bueller. He said exactly where and when… So that was easy for the PI and saved me a ton of money lol.

    As soon as FW got up to go to the bathroom, I called the PI. The PI literally said “wow — I can’t believe you got all that from him. He’s an idiot”

    And I was brave. And scared. And did it anyway. And then fought for a year to get that divorce. And fought for several more to get my son safety during his custodial visits with FW.

    We are all brave. But you have to fight through the fear. I did it for my son when I couldn’t do it for me.

    Side note… The minute I had the info I needed to serve that dickhead, he was never allowed back in my house. Just about 2 weeks after DDay, I secured a lawyer, got a PI, got enough info over a weekend, and served that prick.

    • So sorry you had to go through that. Mighty. I hope you took him for everything and his life is shit now

    • My ex couldn’t resist bragging about his “amazing” AP (financially independent! big vocabulary!) In my case I didn’t need that info for a PI so it was just baffling and disgusting. Glad in your case your ex’s entitlement and lack of self awareness worked to your big advantage!

      • Spot on, Elkay. FW was so entitled and always lacked self awareness. But it was a short window of opportunity where I could take advantage of his idiocy. When he left us, he loved bragging and trying to make me feel bad… until he was forced to get a lawyer straight away and she told him to shut up 😂 Darn

    • Love this, MichelleShocked! Quick thinking on your part. Played him like a fiddle. You are lucky you live in a state where hiring a PI makes a difference. No fault state here. I got a pretty good settlement because he didn’t hire a lawyer, but I could have got a much better one if PI evidence was admissible. His double life was jaw-dropping. All while being on staff at our church and playing the loving, devoted husband. He had everyone fooled. I’m sure what I know is only the tip of the iceberg. Probably best I don’t know.

      • I live in a state where hiring a PI would make a difference, but I didn’t. His attorney blabbed enough to mine to confirm, but I told mine to log it and not bring it up again. If we had gone to trial, I would have hired a PI to amp it up and to force a full financial accounting, but we settled. Financially and emotionally, that was better.

        And I went on in my semi-ignorant bliss.

    • “wow — I can’t believe you got all that from him. He’s an idiot” Love it!!!
      And Wow Michelle! I can imagine how cold-blooded you had to be. My story was easy compared to yours. These FWs are straight out of Aesop’s Fables: you made the crow open his large beak hahahahaha

    • MichelleShocked,

      How very kick-ass of you. My blood pressure just went up reading this as I got acid flashbacks. I had to play similar “spy” games to extract the data necessary to build a fault case. If you’re not duplicitous for sport, doing this can really take it out of you. I levied an added karmic tax against FW for forcing me into such an alien and stressful “mode,” especially because, when first doing it, it really clashed with my sense of my own identity, like “What does this make me??” Later I wised up and realized it’s not a permanent mark against character if we have the capacity to flip into wily survival gear and turn the tables when unfairly cornered.

      • They are banking on us being morally virtuous and not stopping to their level. I hacked FWs email through my son’s youtube account on his phone. I felt terrible – it goes against everything I stand for – but it was the only way I could access the emails I needed showing FW had done a financial deal with his brother years earlier to set himself up for life (we are talking millions when he claimed he would never have a cent to his name). It was necessary to ensure I was not made homeless, and in the end thank God I did it as I will now have a home for my kids and me.
        After years of being gaslit by Fw I also stooped to FWs level by telling him if he didn’t want me to access his email – which during the marriage I knew the password to as it was the family email – to change his password. He was like “I’ve changed it dozens of times, I don’t know what else to do”. I knew full well he had changed it months earlier but said something to the effect he might need someone to show him how to change it. IDIOT.

        • I eventually figured out I’d have to stoop to survive. I have natural limits to how low I’ll sink but at some point I even started having fun with it. Now when I get one of those acid flashbacks about some terrible incident, in pops a memory of some punk thing I did in response and… snicker. You’ve heard of “cointus interruptus.” It’s like “trauma interruptus.”

        • I snooped to get the goods on FW, too. Only I didn’t feel terrible about it. 😁 Fuck ’em. We did what we had to do to get out fom under their abuse and to have the financial security we had a right to, but which would be denied to us if the cheaters had their way. Celebrate the good survival instincts which made you go to Defcon 2 with your FWs, chumps.

  • This is totally not brave, but despite being bottom on the list of priorities, I was convinced I was married to someone who wanted to be involved in the mundane areas of family life. Somehow there was never the time to choose a rug we needed because the lounge diner in our new house had a laminate floor.

    Shortly after he left I got one. It is a symbol of independence. I went to a shop and spent money on house decor, without running myself ragged trying to find time to compare and contrast different options in different shops with the indecisive idiot I married.

    • Seems to me he wasn’t indecisive; he just enjoyed making you waste your time on something he was never going to buy anyway (because you wanted it.)

    • Do not under estimate the power of building YOUR new home, your safe space, your sanctuary. That is a mighty step in recovery. It is a step moving forward in your new, glorious FW free life! YOU deserve it, YOU are priceless! F him!!

    • I had some phenomenon like that going on with cheater X, too. So weird. What’s up with that? I can’t tell you how many weekends I wasted at tile stores—until D day, that is, after which I resigned any further assistance with the home remodel. I said, “You knew perfectly well that I never would’ve agreed to sell my California home and buy this white elephant of a fixer-upper if I had known what was really going on. But you knew, and you thought it was a good idea, so now it’s yours to do.”

    • When I bought my own house about a year after d-day, I painted EVERYTHING with COLOR! It was so liberating. My large laundry room is bright lime green and I love it! His head would spin, lol!

    • Yes, the house stuff was so very painful. He got only little better over time, but perpetually wanted only solids and neutral colors on the walls. He did agree to bright colors in two bathrooms because the kids liked that, but it bit me later.

      When he came to get his stuff so we could sell the house, he wanted to be involved in picking out the appliances and countertop for a light kitchen renovation. This involved a highly detailed process for a house that needed to get on the market ASAP. Totally unnecessary. He also did “I told you so” over bathrooms that had to be repainted in a more neutral color pre the recommendation of the realtor. As always, he wanted high-end stuff vs. good-looking mid-range stuff and squashed my opinions. I thought I was truly going to go bonkers with him then. I hadn’t been around in him in months and months, and it brought back my anxiety and why I hated doing anything house-related with him. I actually walked out of a restaurant during that week when I was supposed to eat with him because I couldn’t take his disordered thinking anymore. That was the last time I ever saw him, thankfully. The realtor mediated a more reasonable approach, and we got it sold for a good price.

      Post-divorce, I walked into a house that had come on the market that my realtor said was a really good fit. Lots of color and contrast, oh my! It was 2021 with a bidding war, but I got it. It’s appreciated like crazy. I got out a bedding set that he had nixed for my bedroom and bought new slate-colored bookcases that would freak him out. We repainted the two grandkid bedrooms they had done, and kept the rest. It’s all good.

  • Well the tipping point for me, after trying to wait out a mid-life crisis, which I do not recommend, was when he demanded that I write him a cheque for a thousand bucks or we would be divorcing. I replied “I’ll take the divorce” the look on his face carried me through all of the turmoil of a divorce, moving, selling my home of 23 years and knowing my future grandchildren would not be frolicking in my backyard. Women think they can change men, men think you will never leave, we are both wrong.

  • After a year and 3 months of wreckonciliation and the repeating cycle of abuse – him love bombing, being the sad sausage and wanting me back more than anything in the world and then whenever I gave him a chance to come back, he didn’t want it and started pushing me away – I was SO low, I felt so shitty about myself and was sooo sick and tired of all the bullshit and mindfuckery that he’d put me through…that something in me just snapped. And I just felt it – NO, NEVER AGAIN. I wasn’t even angry or sad in that moment, it truly was a “fuck this shit” moment. It was actually new year’s eve and he was attacking me about something I didn’t do.. AGAIN. And I just thought to myself – I’d rather be alone until the rest of my life than having to take one more minute of this BULLSHIT. I think that was really feel feel like I had nothing to lose basically. So yeah..that was when I decided to never give another chance to this man again. And I am actually proud of that. I won’t say it hasn’t been hard, there were ups and downs and cognitive dissonance hits hard sometimes, also grief comes in waves and some days are truly depressing.. but since then I haven’t once thought to myself – oh, maybe we could give it another shot. For me it really was a new year, a new dawn. Because that was the moment, when I finally made the decision and stuck to it. The divorce still isn’t final, but most of it is settled. So yeah.. when I decided, I had no plan and I was scared, but what really pushed me forward was just the realization that he would never change. No matter what he said or promised a hundred times, he never changed and he always showed me the same bullshit somehow. Realizing and finally accepting that was crucial. And the fact that I never wanted to feel that shitty again and knowing that with him, I would feel that way constantly.

    • “And I just thought to myself – I’d rather be alone until the rest of my life than having to take one more minute of this BULLSHIT. I think that was really feel feel like I had nothing to lose basically. ”

      Yes. I had a moment like this too. It is such an essential step. Congratulations!

    • Similar story her, Confused AF. I was actually sitting in my car in the parking lot at the grocery store when it finally hit me fully. He’s not really interested in coming back. He’s playing you, stalling for time, and you can’t continue in limbo any longer.

      There was a branch of our bank in the same shopping center, so I went in and took half our funds from a joint account and texted him that I was done. I already had a draft of the decree, which I guess deep down I knew I would eventually need, he didn’t bother hiring a lawyer, so I got him to accept service, he defaulted by not responding, and the final decree was entered within about 30 days.

      It wasn’t one particular thing that pushed me off the fence; I just needed a sufficient accumulation of BS to do it. Once that amount was reached in my mind (probably different for everyone) that’s all it took.

      • My final “straw” was when my FW called me from his hunting land 2 hours away. We were in wreckoncilliation, but his behavior had not really changed. He called right before dark to tell me to put the kids in the car and drive the 2 hours to his hunting lease. He had shot a dear with an arrow and it had run off and he couldn’t find it. He was afraid the other hunters in his lease would find out and expel him. He wanted me and our 4 children (ages 10 to 17) to scourer the forest in the dark to find that deer. Chumpy me had never refused him much of anything, certainly not refuse to help him in his time of need. This time it finally dawned on me how selfish he was to even be asking(telling) me this. He actually expected me and the kids to drop everything, drive 2 hours, search a forest a night, because he screwed up hunting and didn’t want to be found out. I repeated his request back to him and said no. That was when I knew there was no going back. I was done. It took a bit longer and a letter from his girlfriend to get me to file, but standing up to him that evening was the beginning of the end.

        • He wanted his own wife and CHILDREN to help him find a wounded animal known for being aggressive when backed into a corner, at night, in the woods, where even experienced outdoorsmen have been known to get lost or attacked by predators? Is he out of his mind?

          So glad you kicked this selfish POS to the curb. Holy cow.

  • In my darkest hour and feeling quite desperate, confused, sad and traumatized I found the strength to ask him to leave. This wasn’t what he wanted and he did leave but he became a total asshole after that. He said no lawyers. I got a lawyer. He flipped out when I put holds on the bank accounts that he was taking money from. I took his name off things. I cancelled his burner phone that he paid for from joint funds. I closed down everything I could. He got more enraged and controlling but I kept going. I tried to pull him through the mediation process and to get child support. I eventually cut all ties, including chasing him for past due child support and then I bought the marital by house from him. I didn’t get a great settlement because he gamed the system so wildly that it was too hard and expensive to fight. But I was done. It took me three years but I got rid of him. One win is that I never allowed him back into the house. Ever. He asked to come through and take some things and my lawyer told him that he could enter only if I had a support person and he said he’d only want to come through if I was there alone. I flat out refused so all of his things got put into the garage and he never collected them so it all went to the dump.

    • They don’t actually want the material possessions. They just want the kibbles the retrieval trip would get them.

      • Thanks for this explanation. I could not figure out why my FW went from making multiple, unnecessary trips to retrieve her things, to suddenly not wanting them after I stated she had to remove them in one last attempt. I specified I would not be at home but my lawyer would be there as an observer.

        Kibbles, kibbles, kibbles. Her appetite for kibbles is insatiable!

      • No joke. I relented and let my STBXH come over and do a lengthy walk-through to divide up our stuff. He’s tried to come back several times since then to pick up this n that and went radio silent after I said no to the last request for firewood and a hatchet from my backyard WTAF.

    • Exact same here- FW demanded to come into my house and get his stuff— 2 years after he left and after the divorce was finalized. I had moved out of the family home, which I could no longer afford after he left. He never came to the move then— too busy playing sugar daddy with young AP🤮🤮🤮. I warned him then that I wasn’t moving his shit. He was enraged 2 years later…. I gave him the few family photos I had saved. Too bad so sad, not.

    • Mine too. I packed up all his stuff. For the third or fourth load, he came into the house to get it (heavy otherwise it would have been in the garage). I told him to look around and see if there was anything else. He went into the first room, looked around while standing still and said (with full sad sausage vibe). “I can’t do this right now”. He has never entered the house since. Smudged the heck out of it after!!

  • I did what so many chumps have done.

    I moved forward (almost on automatic pilot) with the task of dismantling a 30-year marriage, even as I was grief stricken and in disbelief. I accepted that I would leave with a fraction of our life savings, that I would lose my relationship with my in-laws and that I would live alone. And when the pandemic hit, that reality occurred.

    I continued to work until my retirement, I built a support system and I healed without the anesthesia of alcohol or drugs. I dealt with memories which had become triggers. I still question my version of reality and haven’t reached out to ex FW for clarification.

    The fear of abandonment, of losing one’s tribe and touchstones, is the worst.

    • I also had some residual “stuff,” but Chump Lady and her people are helping me to get each thing to meh as it comes up. Create your own tribe and new touchstones, you can do it, we’re all rooting for you.

    • Me too…. All of it. 25 years married. Never heard from those in-laws again.

    • My divorce was final at the end of 2019, and the loss of a marriage, his relatives, and local friends who were too busy with their own families knocked me down too. I had two college kids at home, but they were also working through the loss of their father and what they thought was family. I came out of it really clear though about who my tribe is and what I value. My adult kids would say the same.

  • Maybe the moment when I told him I wanted to look at his Facebook messages with AP. Shortly after D-day he’d promised me not to contact or see her but lots of little clues and coincidences had led me to believe they were still in contact and the cognitive dissonance almost led to a breakdown, I was so convinced he was a good guy committed to our marriage. It took almost 3 hours of argument, after a long drive, to get him to agree to my seeing the messages, apparently they were very ‘heavy’ so he didn’t want me to see. Finally at about 2a.m. he agreed and like the naive chump I was, I let him go and log in while I slumped in a chair. When I got there he’d deleted all the messages and then claimed he’d deleted them before because they were so ‘heavy’. I had trusted him unquestioningly with the AP, a girl 18 years younger than him in his band, and, I thought, a friend.
    More lies and deceptions followed to convince me, but voicing my suspicions that night was very, very difficult.

    • To anybody reading this who haven’t confronted yet… don’t.let.FW.log.into.anything.on.their.own!

      I did the same mistake, knew there were messages/emails, finally wore him down to show me, left to get the laptop, longer than it should have and by the time I called myself an idiot for trusting a untrustworthy person he deleted everything. I got him to contact one chat site that could retrieve the profile but he “forgot the log in password” made a big show of attempting to login and it not working even though he swore it was his password…. he is pathetic.

  • My ex had me convinced we were in an “open marriage” to cheat and I was never ok with that. Every few years he would get the itch and be with someone that I knew of probably was more. We were in the car out car shopping as his car died, and our then troubled teen was in the behavioral hospital for the SECOND time in a month. I was devastated the meds they were giving my son were causing violent reactions. It was an AWFUL situation. He turned to me in the car and said he was looking to date again because I was so disgusting and our home life was a shambles because of our son. ( he declined to talk about him mostly living in the basement in a room he hoarded in ignoring all of us all the time) I decided then I was LEAVING. The look of disgust on his face when he talked to me sinched it. I didn’t have the money to go. This was Labor Day. By Martin Luther Kings birthday he was accusing me of poisoning him and apparently was saying this to the kids for months. I said that’s it I gotta run because this is what will happen to me if I don’t leave today. I was on a call with my entrepreneur boss who I had a close relationship with told him I was in a dangerous situation. He said get an apt today I will fund this completely! My son and I went to an apt I had my eye on and looked at the top apt on the end. From up there you can see forever! It’s full of light. That night we moved to a hotel funded by a friend. He came home from work and didn’t call me till 11:30 PM to ask where we were! I said simple we left. We are not coming back. The kids are fine. I won’t tell you where we are. And hung up. That was it. I was free. I moved into my apt two days later. Three years out things are tough. I am working but I needed to take on the side gig of doordash and that helps. My formerly troubled teen graduated high school and is on minimal medication but it works for him. My younger son is thriving. The three of us were always close but now we are iron. They both trust me. They bring their friends around. They tell me the truth when they mess up. No more inpatient stays. It’s really magical. We all have gotten a ton of therapy. The fuckwit is dissapearing into the rear view mirror for all three of us.

  • I wish I’d been braver, but I was terrified: of him, of being single, of schmoopie, of the courts. But a couple of instances stand out as moments I decided to stand up for myself.

    When I decided to call a lawyer. I wasn’t ready for a divorce, but I knew I needed to be prepared. FW found out and was SO angry (I don’t know how he knew, but he did).

    When, in spite of wanting to reconcile, I started compiling evidence, and writing down things that happened to try and combat the gaslighting. When FW wanted me to destroy photo evidence of his abuse, I didn’t. I hid it. I kept a journal. I took photos. I saved every text and every email. When it came time to assemble my dossier, it was ENORMOUS. My therapist commended me, saying that deep down part of me knew I would need all of that.

    When I confronted Schmoopie, whom I found at my house one day. She was screaming at me and calling me a liar and telling me I had no right to be there (MY house, recall; even though we were separated and I was staying with my mom, there was no agreement of any kind on the use of the house). I stayed so calm. I told her to stop verbally assaulting me in my own home or I would call the police, there was nothing that said I couldn’t be there, and that the reason I was there (to talk to FW about our kid) had nothing to do with her and she needed to stay out of it. I felt so empowered. I ignored FW’s frantic calls after I left. I didn’t want to talk to him, so I didn’t. FW actually texted me the next day because I think even he was impressed.

    When I finally decided to go grey rock and stopped responding to FW about anything that wasn’t directly related to our child or finances, stopped taking the bait when he tried to insult me in his emails. It was terrifying at first to simply answer the necessary questions and ignore the rest. It left me with sweaty, shaky hands and a racing heart. But I did it.

    When the courts called me and asked if there had been any abuse that would make mediation with him intimidating for me and I TOLD THEM THE DETAILS.

    When, during an opportune moment when FW’s phone abrubtly dropped the conference call, I got up the courage to tell the custody evaluator that I had been abused by him, and she agreed to do our history taking sessions separately.

    When I called FW out during one of our conferences with the magistrate when he started insulting and trying to intimidate me.

    When FW went missing and I got up the courage to contact the police and in the end go over to his house with them (where they found his body), and then handling all of the fallout from his suicide.

    When I decided not to give in to grief and despair, and rebuilt my whole personality from the ground up. My life had been 100% focused on FW for 15 years, and I didn’t even know who I was without him. But I went back to my youth and found some traces of ME, and from there I found myself again. I like who I am. I have my confidence back. I know what I will and won’t tolerate. I got a life. I am HAPPY. Fuck him. He tried to destroy me, and I’m THRIVING.

    When I took the plunge and bought myself a house.

    Yes, I wish I had been brave enough to walk away at my first suspicion of an affair, but I did the best I was capable of at the time. I was a shell of myself and yet I still managed to hold my own in the divorce proceedings.

    I am REALLY looking forward to the podcast!

    • ISTL, your story is incredible and you were extremely brave. Please know that.

    • “…but I went back to my youth and found some traces of ME…”
      Even when we build our lives around other people (fuckwits, parents, kids), there are always traced of ME back in the past. Figuring out who we are is a major step in actually living our “one wild and precious life.”

  • After doing the pick-me dance for about eight months (I didn’t find Chump Lady until after I’d left and didn’t realize that’s what I was doing) and listening to him gas light me about how he WASN’T still seeing her!! Why was I so crazy??? Is this who I was?? Etc., I told myself that if I even thought he was cheating one more time, it was over.

    One day, I had evidence that he was cheating again—pretty irrefutable evidence—and I knew deep down that this was it. I couldn’t live with who I was if I stayed in this relationship.

    So, the next day, I went to work and called lawyers. I found an apartment. I re-routed my paycheck to my new bank account I opened. I opened a few more credit cards so I’d have those as emergency resources. And because I’m monthly, I waited for an entire three weeks before I acted.

    I slowly started moving special things out of the house and hiding them in my work office. Nothing he’d miss. And then, on the big day, I packed my gym bag with a few changes of clothes and my work bag, kissed him goodbye, and left. He thought I was going to work.

    I used the element of surprise because this is a man who would throw an entire six pack of beer bottles on the ground in a rage because we forgot to buy pickles at the grocery store—what would he do if I gave him a heads’ up I was leaving? So I didn’t.

    It was the scariest thing I’d ever done and for weeks beforehand as I created plans, back up plans, backup backup plans, I felt like I was going to pass out or throw up.

    All while he thought I was at work (he decided to “work from home” on the same day, which I considered when I made my plans), I moved the cat from the place I’d boarded him for a day, went to Walmart three times to buy a basics for the apartment, trying to keep things as cheap as I could. Then, at night, when he didn’t know where I was and asked if I was on my way to work out, I told him I wasn’t coming home. And turned my phone off.

    I left everything and it took months before I got all my clothes and things back. I didn’t know how any of this was going to go, but I knew one thing—however it went, it would NOT be with him. Because I deserved better.

    It’s been a year and a half since then and every single day I’m full of awe and thankfulness that I was able to do that, that I had the strength. He was horrible through the divorce (and still is—there is one more part of the settlement the lawyers are handling and every now and then, he sends a mean text, which I delete). He fought everything tooth and nail. But in the end? Consequences, you fuckwit.

  • I left a week ago and I’m living in a motel with my cat. Every few days I’m deciding where I want to live.

    • Brava! Hang in there. I know it feels awful right now, but you’ll be ok. Sunnier days are ahead.

    • Let us know when you decide where to live Tammy and how you are getting on. You’ve already done one huge brave step.

  • FW#1 – our 10 yr anniversary when he told me I needed a 4th job (while he half-assed 1), then physically punched the door next to me till it was in shards, and as I was shaking told me that he was going to make my life a living hell financially ruining me if I left.

    FW#2) – when he physically beat me trying to kill me (by strangulation) in the process. I ran from the house, called the police, had him arrested, in 24hrs. While he was in jail – I found an apartment, packed a 4bedroom house up (furniture and all), fled, and went into hiding.

    FW#3) – when I found hair everywhere in the house and then looked on his phone to find sext messages from the 24 yr old nanny (26 yr age difference). I didn’t say anything and just got my shit and left. THANK GOD I didn’t hitch myself up to that dipshit. He was the one that really made me take a hard look at myself and why I kept allowing these people in my life. With that, I fixed my picker and been fully FW free in ALL areas of my life for 5yrs.❤️

    Freedom never felt so good!

  • ExFW made it easy to walk in the end! The sense of bravery came in returning to work as a 50 year old after 20 years out of the workforce. The other was the sheer level of decision making. One decision after the other, at times when I felt incapable, created a happier life for my sons and I ☺️

    • Older than you, but a similar story. I became self-employed when I couldn’t get a full-time job with benefits, paid off all my bills, and bought a house. I have healthy, happy post-divorce friends that I talk to almost daily. Life is good.

  • I didn’t leave the cheater, the cheater left me for bigger tits & someone more accommodating. I mentally left the cheater when I realized my dream of being an intact family didn’t need to include him anymore (also, a guy who chooses bigger tits is as superficial AF). I come here to support, process the trauma still & also as a reminder to stay on a good path away from fuckwits!!!

    • Same thing happened to me for giant breast’s after 35 years married. I was double D bra size but lost one breast to cancer. Still large w implant but guess I was damaged goods now. Karma hit them, she died soon after but he quickly moved into another’s house. So sad 🥲 for my family.

  • For me, the bravest thing I did was was saying No to Cold Slab O’Meat. Someone I respected and worshipped and always said YES to.

    Can you help me avoid my ex wife suing me for custody because I’m living a disgusting double life? No.

    Can you scan and fax me the apartment application I left on the desk? No.

    Can you help me move boxes into the UHaul? No.

    Can we still be friends? F@&£ No.

    I don’t people please or kiss anyone’s ass now and I’m better for

  • Three weeks after dday I saw that FW had written a check to a “Joe Schmoe” for an amount slightly more than our mortgage. Trembling, I asked him about it (at that point I was in a constant state of tears & uncontrollable shaking). He said it was the security deposit for an apartment. Out of nowhere I told him to get the fuck out. He left within minutes with just his laptop. I immediately started piling a lot of his shit in the hallway. When he came home a few hours later he was stunned to see the pile & asked about it. I said take your shit because you don’t live here any more. He did & had to move in with his sister as the apartment wasn’t ready.
    Sadly I wasn’t mighty for a long time after that as I continued to spiral downward & landed in the psych ward 2 months later. Being blindsided after a 24 yr+ marriage almost killed me – twice.

  • My Brave day? She decided for US and left me after 25 years of knowing each Other…
    Sehr knew him for 3 weeeks. Did it Work Out? I don’t Know. After some time i never respond to her again and Blocked her everywhere…
    Does it hurt? Yeah, Long Time and sometimes today but I learned so much about all of this Shit…and so braveday was our yearday and the day when sehr decided to left me for him… Really good for her so he doesn’t need to remember a New Date for her New yeardate…😂
    And after 1.5 years I Think i can See the some If the positive aspects after my dday….

  • The closest I was to “brave” in the early days was sneaking key boxes of documents out of the house with his cameras trained on me from inside and outside our home. I had to take a cue from FW and started using my workphone to stay in contact with my family and setting up attorney visits. Full on stealth mode once I made my decision. I got my own costco card so he couldn’t see my buying a new laptop and external hard drive to download shit.

  • I spent about 18months pick-me dancing. I just felt more and more drained. The day he let slip , “I wasn’t supposed to know.” Was the day I finally got it through my thick skull just how much he sucked. This was never going to go in a safe direction. He moved out, I started to pack up what he left behind. I gave up on him and started investing time and energy into me. Thank the little gods that I did. Thank you Tracy, for teaching me to trust that they suck!!

  • Around 8 months after D-Day with 2 more D-Days since, I tried to contact him at lunch. No response. I texted and called. I tried “find my iPhone”, it had location turned off. An hour and a half later he called me. Gave me a BS story about his phone charging at his desk. About how he didn’t often carry it around with him at work. His story stunk. We were deep in reconciliation with him promising to do whatever it took to “regain my love and trust”. Next day I asked for his cell phone. He was reluctant but gave it to me. Hidden deep in the deleted emails were emails between him. Guess he forgot that when you delete, you need to also delete the deleted ones. Nothing incriminating except they existed. Also that he got a notification from her about a message on a “Work App”. Asked him to open the app. He said that it’s a work app and he forgot the password – would need to open it on his laptop. That was it. 8 months of lies. Of becoming paranoid and suspicious and frantic and falling apart. I told him to pack his shit, get the fuck out and that I was filing for divorce. After that, the mask dropped and I saw who he really was. It’s been 4.5 years and I have never and will never look back.

  • I kicked my first husband out; gave him 72 hours to be out before I changed the locks. I thought that was generous in the extreme. He was the church “organist” — he slept with the music director, the choir director, all of the altos, a couple of sopranos and Sister Margaret, the nun who lead our pre-Cana classes. He also slept with co-workers, the boss’s wife, friends, neighbors of friends, neighbors, friends of neighbors and my sister. I knew I could support myself because he never managed to get his paycheck deposited in the joint account, despite all of his promises. I didn’t know that having him gone would be so peaceful and I’d have so much more money in my accounts.

    The second one was worse. I had discovered Ginny NiCarthy’s book on abuse and leaving the abuser, and had started lining up my ducks in a row. He’d been staying with his “friend” Truman. Then the counselors (yes 2 of them — we each saw one separately then both together) said they thought he had “recovered” from his abusiveness and could move back in. I was hesitant, but really wanted to save my marriage. So I let him move back in. About a year later, when we were on vacation on the coast celebrating a year without violence, he got this strange look on his face, stood up and walked out of the restaurant where we were eating lunch and got into the car. I paid for lunch and hurried after him. My memory of the rest is fuzzy. I remember him grabbing me by the neck while driving down the road, and squeezing, I remember being on the side of the road on my back on the front seat with him strangling me and chanting about how he was going to “fix you good” while our dogs went crazy in the back seat. I remember waking up on the highway with the clothes on my back and one of our dogs, Tom nowhere to be seen. Three hundred miles from home. I walked to a laundromat and called the only place I could think of — I called work to tell them I wasn’t going to make it back by tomorrow. Luckily the assistant manager answered the phone, asked me where I was and told me she’d be there in six hours. She made it in five. It was Friday. By Monday, I had a new apartment and was plotting how to get on the Air Force Base where we lived to get my stuff. That’s a different story. That’s also when I discovered the cheating. I was looking for other women, not other men. Certainly not our priest.

    The third time — yes I married again, after a dozen years. Our marriage was good for seven years — I thought so, and he said he thought so. Then I hurt my back at work and could no longer afford to let him to be the center of the universe and the center of attention. I couldn’t even walk, so now he had to do things for me. I had surgery and gradually recovered, went back to work and went back to life revolving around the FW. We retired — I was 60 and he was 62 — and planned to sail our 40 foot ketch around the world. We had been on the boat a year and a half when I realized that the constant criticism, screaming, raging tantrums several times a day, withholding sex and affection, and total disregard for my safety was actually abuse. (He hadn’t actually punched me or thrown me down stairs or even threatened to beat me to death like Tom had. I knew what REAL abuse was and this wasn’t it. Until it was.) Our home was this little boat. I had no job, no car, no community, no church, no friends within thousands of miles and no money of my own. I had to wait until the boat took us to a big enough town to have a rental car agency, but then I gathered what I could carry in four boat bags, somehow managed to lift my 50 pound dog over my head to get him out of the boat cabin and then off the boat, walked a couple of miles to the rental car agency and rented a car using a credit card. And then I drove away. My best friend (the same one who rescued me from Tom) was living a thousand miles away and I cried for every mile of that trip. But now I’ve just retired again after working 3-1/2 years as a nurse at the high end of the pay scale. I’ve saved thousands of dollars, bought my own home and have begun filling it with things that I love. I have money in the bank, friends, a community, and a car. My life and my home are peaceful, the dog and I are happy.

    • Your story is shocking and ultimately inspiring, Ex Mrs SP.
      What you have endured is horrific, and yet you still came out on top. Congratulations on your wonderful new life.

      Btw, you are probably the only chump whose cheaters nailed both a nun and a priest. That’s pretty much the pinnacle of fuckwittery. Disgusting pigs.

  • I had 3 D-Days. Each one broke me down a little more. Two women became 5, 5 women became 10 and I’m sure there’s more I may never know. I told my FW that he was going to write down on a piece of paper every women’s name, when he was with her, how many times, etc. I just needed to know (some may not feel that way, but I needed to know the details, though again I’m 100% sure there’s more he didn’t tell me). He did it, on a Sunday afternoon. He said he was going to talk to a lawyer the next day, but I beat him to the chase. I didn’t tell him I contacted a lawyer, set up an appointment and filed that Monday. I was shaking all day. That afternoon he and I were sitting at the dinner table, just us, and I told him I filed for divorce. I had had enough. The look on his face was priceless. He was shocked. I felt like I now had the upper hand and it’s one of the best decisions I made at that heartbreaking time in my life. By the way, he crumpled up that piece of paper (destroyed evidence)…

    • I don’t think my FW ever thought I would file. He had been gaslighting me that his mistress had moved away and gotten married. I sensed he was lying, but had no proof. About a year into wreckoncilliation, I received a letter from his mistress letting me know the affair had never really ended. I made copies of the letter, stashed the copies with my lawyer, my therapist, and my best friend. The next day I confronted him as if I had just received the letter. He was very calm and gave me some line about seeing her for “closure”. I cried and he left with the original letter which he no doubt destroyed. The next day I had him served at work. I think he was shocked as I was such a compliant chump…until I wasn’t. He was even more shocked when his girlfriend’s letter made it into our divorce documents!

  • I caught wind that she was planning a mid-day sex romp in our home with the Carrot Singer (for the 3rd time that I know of) so I called in sick, set up the house like I’d went to work, and waited for them to show up. I’d learned he was licensed to carry concealed firearms, and that he’d braqged about doing so, so I was definitely taking a chance with my “catch them in the act” plan.

    Those few hours waiting in my car allowed me to reflect on all of the things that could go wrong in a situation like this. I decided to confront her first when she came home, then I snatched up her phone and tablet, locked them in the basement, and waited for CS to show up to confront him.

    When I think about how we all could have ended up on the news that night (and not in a good way), I’m glad I did what I did. But it would have been SOOOO satisfying (and likely beneficial to me in the divorce proceedings) to have had my phone camera rolling when I walked in on them.

    • Those Were The Days -This song would be a great parody for the mid-day sex romp.
      For some reason that thought came into mind!

    • I am glad you did not run the risk. Not worth losing one’s life or health for assholes.

    • I LOVE that you locked them in the basement, like the caged rats they are. YOU WON, which is so inspiring. There is justice somewhere and we at chumpnation are finding it.

      • HA! No, I locked her phone and tablet in the basement, so there would be no way to warn the Carrot Singer to stay away. I like your idea, though..

        • The closest FW came to rage was when I didn’t promptly unlock my car after he realized he left his phone in it. I thought he was avoiding the marriage counseling homework conversation. Now I know the phone was packed full of evidence.

          Always check the deleted photos and messages. Oh, AP is probably listed under another name. I was so naive.

  • It was Memorial Day weekend and after dropping of my granddaughter I was told, “I found someone and want a divorce.” The Limited had already secured a place to stay (daughter’s basement) however, it wouldn’t be ready for a month. She was told we were separating and was unaware of the bar whore. She was one of the three he was dating simultaneously according to phone records. The following night he stated he’d be ‘away’ and not coming home. As he slept I emptied two closets onto the porch, took his keys and told him not to come back.

    Immediately, I went to my physician, got medication and was referred to an amazing therapist by the nurse in his office. It took three months to file after giving him an ultimatum to decide on his upcoming birthday. I wanted him to forever own that decision. The exact moment I made the decision was when my therapist stated it would kill me if I stayed.

    What did I fear? After years of abuse with a serial cheater I feared just about everything despite having a good income to support myself. At the time I had two rentals due to my work situation. I realized my biggest fear when the Limited decided he wanted my pension. This was the only asset I had after he made sure I lost the home I’d worked to purchase. Of course money was hidden and despite him admitting it with a smirk, I let it go. The duplicity was always there as he conned my daughter into believing he didn’t have any intention of taking my pension until I showed her the email the Limited sent to my attorney. After his attorney withdrew the drunken, stoned pea brain decided it wise to represent himself after months of no shows, and continuations, due to living the life. And just as I’d previously fought for the Limited, I fought for myself and kept my pension.

    After reaching that milestone I pushed forward knowing he was vacationing and reportedly living like a teenager. It was HARD. No doubt about it. My moving forward was to be sure and steady; I had no choice at the age of 57. With no credit cards or credit I managed to pay down my debt and struggle along financially. I switched my focus to retirement. I put money into an account to help me with the transition. While I was advised to move into a lesser living situation and change jobs, I chose to keep both for stability. Looking back this strategy worked out well when covid hit and prices of rentals skyrocketed. I was prepared due to focusing on my future. I cannot imagine being the Limited’s age and being in the position he’s in right now.

    livingthescream #stuckwithit #basementsurfing

    I applaud you Tracy for your dedication to the most meaningful work you’ve done. It saved my life. Thank you.

  • I am reading your stories and have been brought to tears a number of times. You guys are amazing!

    • I’m actually sobbing!! The level of cruelty and the subsequent mightiness is unreal.

  • D’day arrived via an anonymous letter (still don’t know who from) and what it said made sense about things that had been happening over the previous 6 month. He initially left for a couple of days and then came back wanting to ‘work through this’ and I, of course, was eager to keep the family together. We had planned a big holiday to the US (from Australia), travelling with another family so after 3 marriage counselling sessions we headed off with our 3 kids in tow. It was awful and things grew steadily worse until 3 weeks into the holiday we arrived at Breckenridge US. He drank to excess (not unusual), and slept on the couch. I got up in the morning and was cleaning up and his phone was on the kitchen bench (usually glued to his hand). I checked texts… nothing, then I checked calls made and there it was, 3 calls made to shmoopie at 3am. I lost my shit and screamed at him whilst throwing all my stuff in a suitcase. I told the kids I was leaving and they could stay with him or come home with me (they were 13, 16 and 18). They all chose to come home with me. Hours on the phone to the airlines and 2 and a half days later we arrived home. Only my sister knew what had been happening before I left, arriving home to my parents and brother was so sad….. and uplifting, they were great.
    I wish I could I could say I stayed so strong but a couple of times I pick me danced after he got home and then I went Grey rock, fuck that shit! Enough is enough and I’ve got kids to look after here.
    5 years later things are settled. The kids didn’t see him for a few years but gradually things are changing. He’s still with schmoopie but is not in touch with any of his previous friends or family. Who knows if he’s happy and who cares 😂

    • Anonymous letter was probably from schmoopie, who was tired of being on the side while DH played Happy Family with you and the kids.

  • Great Friday challenge! After Dday on Christmas (kids caught him red handed) I spent 18 weeks in the hell of fake wreconsillyation. I suffered the rabbit hole of sex addiction recovery (spouses group for me— full time marriage policeforce with 0% success at catching and putting away the bad guys🤬), gaslighting, blameshifting, DARVO, my kids and I getting sicker and sicker (baby doll had panic atta K’s and middles were suicidal and one hospitalized after an attempt). While my precious 15 year old was in her therapy session, and 24 hours before our son was to have major abdominal surgery, FW showed up, met me in the parking lot and told me he was seeing AP (after at least a million lies) and wanted to do so “openly.” He didn’t want an open marriage — nope, he was “breaking up” our 25 year marriage on the street while our kids were fighting for their lives. Why then? Because 16-year younger AP and her millennial friends were planning a drunken camping trip that weekend. FW is a 5-star gold resort guy- loathes dirt and bugs and nature and roughing it. I was so disgusted by his audacity and lack of any remorse, integrity, care for our precious kids that I shook with rage and told him that he had until 6 pm to get his shit out. At 5:45 our teenaged son (who until Dday had a seemingly close relationship with his dad) drove by the house and warned his dad that if he ever saw him on our street again he would beat the living daylights out of him.

    • “At 5:45 our teenaged son (who until Dday had a seemingly close relationship with his dad) drove by the house and warned his dad that if he ever saw him on our street again he would beat the living daylights out of him.”

      I love it!

    • “A full time marriage police force has 0% success at catching and putting away the bad guys.” This is brilliantly put and should be stitched on a sampler or a pillow and given to every chump who’s decided to stay in a marriage. I’m sorry to say that I should have had one back in the early 2000s.

    • I too LOVED the phrase ““A full time marriage police force with 0% success at catching and putting away the bad guys.” And this is called . . . “recovery”? Absolutely inane, and at the same time heartbreaking.

    • MotherChumper, hug your son for me! The kids are alright!
      What has been most gratifying since the divorce from Cheater #1 is how C#1 has proved he is incapable at meaningful relationships. He has mowed through girlfriends, fiances, friendships, family relationships, etc. and they end up on non-speaking terms because, according to C#1, they are assholes. Now he has obiterated what little relationship he had with our son because of his behavior — and did I mention — it is all son’s fault, according to his waste-of-space father??? The assholeness made for some rough years when DS was growing up, but he now is a pretty good judge of character, understands that he is not responsible for some else’s feelings or choices; and, when chumped by a former girlfriend, dropped her (and the mutual friend flying monkeys) like a hot rock.

  • I don’t feel that I was particularly brave. I was abandoned, so didn’t have to be the one to leave. But just recovering after being betrayed and not knowing my life was a lie required determination. I showed my courage by moving forward. New jobs. New degree. Didn’t let it hold me back.

    All the newly chumped? You can do it too. So much better on the other side.

    • Bravery, courage, determination – call it what you will but moving forward and achieving anything after the shit show of abandonment is brave believe me.

  • d-day was when i found “texts from tisha”, proclaiming her love for my X (her boss. i know, cliche). i confronted him immediately and lotsa awful things were said–his mask dropped and he was casually followed by deliberately cruel–and my internal narrator was ON, saying “this makes no sense, he makes no sense” and “i don’t think so” and “nope, nope, nope” etc. etc. i wanted to laugh.

    i called the lawyer the next morning for an hour-long consult and we were off to the races with the mediator. that worked until it didn’t, and then the lawyers stepped in.

    but what i have to say is that i wasn’t forced to be as brave as i probably would’ve needed to be, because my adult daughter was living with us. this was during COVID lockdown. so, my X had to behave a lot better than i suspect he would’ve had she not been living with us.

    there were a couple of moments when i felt the environment flicker. i had the impression there was a chasm in him, like a cave or an underground cathedral, and, this sounds weird, i know, there were sounds. i think it was his darkness emerging. but he had to pull it back because our daughter was there for the whole show.

    i’m divorced now and living in a rental with my two adult kids, and we’re doing well. lotsa therapy, a steady environment, open communication, calm problem solving when the light bulbs/batteries need changing. it’s a fucking relief. i’m figuring myself out, too.

  • I was absolutely terrified. On DDay, I found evidence that he had been meeting up with random men (and women? couples? Who knows?) for sex, and evidence he had purchased a spy cam and placed it in the house. I kept quiet and spent the next week searching for more information and keeping my kids safe. During this time, I also retained a divorce attorney and started moving important things out of the house.
    Ultimately, I discovered his hidden stash of morally reprehensible and highly illegal images and went to the police. Under their advice, I returned to the house that evening and played Happy Family while the police got themselves organized. I was a terrified mess. I could not eat. I lay in bed awake all night, staring at the ceiling, trying to keep my heart from exploding out of my chest from beating so fast. I envisioned scenarios where he discovered what was happening and retaliated violently. My focus was utterly on keeping up the performance so that the kids would not be endangered.
    Finally, four days after going to the police, they came to the house and served the search warrant. I did not know at the time that this is a super-fast response. It felt like forever.
    My kids and I went into hiding for a week, and I had two restraining orders issued. The divorce paperwork was served to him in jail. Then he got out on bond and I was terrified again for many months.
    What did I fear? I feared we would all wind up dead.
    What kept me going? Working to keep my kids safe, my rage, my desire for justice and for him to be held accountable.

  • Hi Tracy, The writer of yesterday with the husband from Pakistan must feel like she has the whole world against her. I am so happy that she found you and this community. You all make a BIG Difference. Even though I am almost 25 years removed form my split, I read your blog daily. You and all of the letter writers/commentators inspire me and validate “the horror” (channel the voice of Marlon Brandon as Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.) Anyone who questions why you continue to do this probably hasn’t lived through a horror. Thank you All xoxoxo

    • “Anyone who questions why you continue to do this probably hasn’t lived through a horror. ”


      Also, I don’t think it can be overstated how impactful what Tracy has done is.

      My entire outlook changed when I found her and CN. I found her post DDay, and had already been in false wreck and pick me dancing for quite some time. Her advice is just so spot on, straightforward and simple. “Is this acceptable to you?” “Trust that they suck” “Don’t bother untangling the skein”??????? Once I saw that advice, saw how all of our fellow chumps related to it, and really took that info to heart? That’s when things changed. Years of coercive control had me terrified, but I took steps, and still am. I have to imagine that it was the same for many others. Prior to finding CN, my brain was just spinning, thinking about a whole lot of things that just did NOT matter. Tracy made it clear that, for example, “sure, if your FW goes to Disney with the AP and your kids, it’s going to hurt and that sucks, but there are just some shit sandwiches that we have no choice but to eat.” I stopped worrying about all that stuff and started focusing on what I could do for me and my kid going forward.

  • I guess it has been three points for me.

    Representing myself in the divorce as I didn’t have a pot to piss in and getting what I wanted from it because she wanted out so bad, her lawyer was surprised I was representing myself.

    Buying house that need some work, which I am capable of doing. Some days feel overwhelming, but each weekend I see progress and it’s a representation of rebuilding my life the way I want it.

    Applying to grad school in a field I want to be in, not one that will get me the most money like she wanted.

    I am thankful for my divorce, it was a kick in the teeth, but was needed to wake me up to how crappy of a person she really was. I now have more friends around this city than I could have ever imagined, and I am able to help a lot of them in different areas. I am blessed.

  • I think the only moment I would define as brave was when the divorce was almost already finished. FW’s father suddenly had a stroke and died a few days later. I sent him a message just to say I’m sorry. FW invited me to the wake. I said sorry but I can’t go. Later FW messaged me to ask why I didn’t come. I told him the truth and said I was not strong enough to do that. Then we had the following exchange (by message):

    FW: “Well, thanks for explaining, I just needed to understand”.
    Me: “It’s great that you understand. I haven’t understood anything for the past 5 months, but I live with it.”
    FW: “We can talk anytime you like. I haven’t brought it up to respect what you asked [that we only talk logistics, asked at the moment of discard]. I have complaints.”
    Me: “Frankly, at this point I don’t care.”

    I spent a long time feeling really humiliated that I told him the truth about not attending the wake. But now that it’s been longer, I actually feel quite proud of my last sentence. I intuitively understood then that FW actually needs to speak to me first in order to know what to say (see what I think first, therefore manipulate me better. He won’t simply come and explain). As if he didn’t have time to explain before he discarded me! What was MC for?

  • I’m not sure if it was bravery either, but I remember the moment clearly.
    I Didn’t plan on it… I just walked outside from my job, and texted him:
    “Don’t Come Home.”
    And … he didn’t.
    He drove right over to the office girls rental, and moved in with her that night. (She had thrown her husband out 2 months earlier and with two young children at home – moved her “co-worker/friend” – my husband! in with them.)
    I’m not sure what I was feeling at the moment I sent him that text.
    I just knew I could not bear another moment with him fooling me, lying, gaslighting, and insisting they were just friends. Like others have written, – being alone, navigating bills, getting my own health insurance, all the unknowns, didn’t scare me any longer. Another minute with him, did.

  • I don’t know if you could call it brave. It was more like tenacious. I was severely ill with PTSD and constantly suicidal. I’m also a chronic pain sufferer, and the emotional strain made it worse. It was unbearable and I wanted to end my life just to be free of the emotional and physical agony. Through all that I managed to get myself a house, renovate it (doing much of the work myself) and recover from PTSD on my own. I knew I wouldn’t need a therapist, I just needed to get away from him and do a lot of self care. I did therapy on myself by learning about my illness and practicing anxiety reduction techniques like EMDR (they have apps for that) plus yoga and long walks in nature, which is my form of meditation. It took a while, but it worked. A year after leaving FW, I was myself again.

  • I’m still just truckin’ along in the day to day.

    My mom though!! The moment she kicked my dad out she went into crisis mode and drafted up multiple asset splits for him to choose from. My dad.. was dumb. Like, just an absolute idiot but in this instance it worked in her favor. He chose the truck and travel trailer… mom got the house. He took some furniture and they split all monetary things (savings, CD’s, etc) evenly. She’d get half his paycheck every month and he’d have to pay for half my medication and schooling — we’d both stay on his insurance. Like in all regards my mom was a BEAST and got everything she wanted without having to fight for it. I think of how I felt in those first few weeks and the inability to get out of bed. She was still working, making sure I was okay, and taking on all this on top of it.

    He bought shmoopie a brand new car, went through half the split savings within a year, and then since my parents never actually divorced when he and AP tried buying a house 6 years later my mom had to sign something and was “suddenly” out of town so they couldn’t get that specific house… her final F U.

    After going through this myself and realizing everything she was feeling in those moments and finding out it wasn’t the first.. or second… or third time he’d cheated (!!) My mom’s been brave and mighty from the start of her shit show.

  • About this blog: for the last 7 years every day I have been asking myself how FW could destroy his family, do what he did to his sons. This is enough to drive anyone nuts. This blog keeps me sane and inspired. Seven years later I still read CL and CN almost every day. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I get belly cramps from laughing so hard.

  • I think everyone here who left their cheater or is the process of it or is even thinking about it is MIGHTY! I tried the RIC but it did not work and then I went through an almost two year battle with a FW who want to leave me penniless!!!!!!! I am in a fault state and went for adultery. I had video evidence, receipts, pictures, spreadsheets, bank account staements and more. For every lie he put in his answer to the court, my attorney and I had documents proving he was lying. I ended up in a judicial settlement conference with a retired judge. They cared nothing about the adultery but he sure DID care about the dissipation of assets. I got everything I wanted and MORE! FW was cryingbecause he knew he had to settle or face perjury and more. Of course, he sent me emails telling me how much i suck but they stopped when my attorney threatened harassment. Now I am free and it is great on the other side. It is bitch going thorugh the process though and I feel for all new chumps but you WILL make it through.
    I am still dating my fellow chump that I emotionally vomited on while I was still a wreck at te start of the process. That is a story for another time but right now the story looks very wonderful, and I know what reciprocity is!!!!

  • I guess my brave moment after 29 years of marriage and final DD (never had concrete evidence in past) was just very calmly telling him I’d stick around to make sure he got thru his next surgery…then I was gone and we were divorcing. Of course he didn’t want a divorce because, well, Best Wife Appliance EVER!! Hell, I painted/did electrical/plumbing/wallpapering-just the best general contractor who helped coach kids hockey team and everything else while he was “working”. Made him tell his dad he’d been cheating for years-dad offered to pay for marriage counseling!!! I honestly feel the males in that family are serial cheaters (in hindsight).

    Well, he didn’t survive that surgery so I avoided what would have been an interesting divorce. I was so mad,, in a very calm way, that I would have told EVERYONE he was a fucking cheater from way back-so that would have pissed that family off and made things more difficult! Optics people, optics! I feel so bad for everyone here who got screwed financially. I got everything-which was the best way it could have ended. Of course, “everything” also included a few secret credit cards which I had to pay off (he was very generous with Scmoopies-dinner/flower delivery, clothing).

    I’m 7 years out and have a good life! Just can’t see myself really trusting anyone again…and at 60, I look at most men with a critical eye-no, don’t wanna take care of anyone else again thanks!

  • FW and I had been together 31 years. He began an EA with his 19yo coworker sometime early in 2021. I wrote in to CL April of 2021 questioning whether or not this constituted cheating. I was questioning myself – his behavior was screaming affair but he swore it wasn’t physical, just that she was “his best friend”. We were in marriage counseling and I was being invalidated at every turn. She told me in one session nothing was going to change unless “I stopped being triggered by his actions” as he’s spending marital funds taking her places, buying her food, and even a $1300 phone. In our last session where she told us we were wasting our money, she finally said “FW, yes I can see where MDWH would find your behavior problematic and think you were cheating”.

    After my email to CL was posted, I received so much support and advice from CN! Between that, a year of Codependents Anonymous, finding a lot of online resources about covert narcissism and finally finding a therapist who validated my feelings / childhood abuse, I started planning to leave FW in January. It took me 2 years to get a handle on my fear of abandonment / being lonely and most of that was from: 1. Finally realizing that as an adult, I can never be abandoned, I always have myself 2. Dealing with and grieving my lost childhood

    I was waiting for D18 to graduate to set the wheels in motion but then fate intervened and I happened upon FW’s burner phone Easter Sunday. He had been messaging a couple different women. The most disturbing thing wasn’t the fawning “oh I hope you don’t mind me saying how gorgeous you are…” but it was seeing him catfish these unsuspecting women. He was telling them about “his house in Florida” and how he loves to travel for his endlessly fascinating job as the owner of a solar company. None of which is true…he’s a day laborer who installs solar panels.

    I sat on the information for a few days but just being near him repulsed me. After 2.5 years of pick-me dancing, endless tears, begging him to love me, blaming myself constantly for his “unhappiness”, feeling unworthy as he chose talking to random Tinder women over me (and all the while still “best friends” with the now 21 yo coworker), I cleaned out the basement bedroom and moved downstairs. I went no contact. I immediately got my ducks in a row. I got an apartment, turned on all my utilities, took my valuables and items with sentimental value to a storage unit, and waited. D18 graduated 6/10 and on 6/19, while he was at work, the moving truck pulled up and took what I’d accumulated over 31 years to my new apartment.

    It’s been 18 days and the majority of the time I am so happy and grateful to be free. D18 stayed with her dad so there is some sadness there. And while I don’t miss FW, I miss the comfort of the fantasy and sometimes it’s jarring to have to remember he’s a FW Narc and nothing was real. So there are moments still…and I’m not expecting “meh” anytime soon, but I have taken the biggest step and know I have it in me to keep working on myself and make a great FW / Narc-free life for myself.

    • Ms. Done With Him, You go grrrrrrl! You are mighty! I’m sure your daughter will begin to see her dad for what he is (or is not). And the “emotional” affair with someone just three years older than his daughter? EwEwEw. There is not enough brain bleach in the world for that.

    • Well done. Being viscerally repulsed by someone is an effective motivator to sever ties.

  • What did you fear, and how did you push forward anyway?

    I am still in fear and moving very slowly. I kicked out FW more than a year ago. My mom passed away recently. My youngest just graduated high school. I just retained a divorce attorney. I am moving slowly and there are still moments of pain. When I see a photo of my kids and realize that they witnessed a terrible marriage, it really hurts. I can’t go back and change the shit show we all put up with. But I did FINALLY come to the decision to say fuck this shit! I don’t deserve to be an emotional punching bag. I don’t deserve to be insulted and belittled and blamed.

    Do I know what the future holds? Hell no. I do feel lonely sometimes, especially since losing my mom. But I have more peace of mind now that I am FW free. That asshole was on social media all the time, but he had no time for me or his kids.

    Before I decided to quit the FW, I felt obligated to stay in a marriage that was eating me alive. It felt shameful and embarrassing. My husband treated me with contempt. Like I had no right to ask for his friendship. He is a major dickhole. I was forever apologizing and working so hard to show my value. But now, I dropped all that. I think it will take years to heal. But I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I would die.

    Financially, I will have to adjust. That’s scary too. But I feel like living honestly is my true reward and the best gift I can give to my kids.

  • So many mighty stories here….mine isn’t such a big deal. I found messages that indicated my ex kept an ex gf around our entire relationship. No real smoking guns per se, but they were inappropriate and suggested more then one meetup. I also read his diary and found references to lunch/dinner, her flying in to town, and driving her to various friends houses. No mention of me…his wife….not once.

    It wasn’t even the final straw….that was his reaction when confronted, which told me everything I needed to know. I’d ask him questions I already knew the answer to in order to see if he’d lie…..he did. Then I’d feed him little bits of information to see if he’d cop to anything he thought I didn’t know.

    Nope….nothing. Lied through his teeth and kept changing his story. Got nasty when I refused to drop it. At that point I decided I didn’t need to know more because I knew he couldn’t be trusted, and that was enough.

    I told him I wanted a divorce. He cried, begged, lied some more, stonewalled, bullshitted. But I was done….he’d been a prick in other ways too but integrity matters to me. Once I realized he had nome I had no further interest in him.

    I guess that could be mighty…..the fact that I didn’t need proof of further wrongdoing. Uprooting one’s life is hard so I understand why some people think they need hard proof but at that point the thought of him made my skin crawl. And he was a lot older so no way was I going to take care of him.

    I got a real estate agents name on Friday, he called me back, we went to see houses on Sunday. The second one I saw was empty and spoke to me. We made an offer Monday morning, counter offer came Tuesday, and I accepted. I make enough money that I got a mortgage while still on asahole’s mortgage, though I did have to pay off my car. I could do that because I’d gotten some money from my father’s passing whuch I never comingled.

    My father would’ve been thrilled that I used his money to help leave ex….he always hated ex.

    Closed the sale a month later, avoided dealing with ex as much as possible for that month, then my two teenage boys and I moved out while he was at work.

    Ex refinanced and got me off his mortgages. Fortunately he was so conflict avoidant and image conscious that he didn’t fight with me. Just followed me around with the sadz.

    After all that guess who still talks to whore ex gf? She’s now on marriage #6, but not to him.

    My life is great. My boys are grown and I do what I want when I want. I currently make almost three times what ex makes so my finances are much better. I’ve had a great bf for 5 years and I see no indication he lacks integrity.

    • “She’s now on marriage #6, but not to him.” Sounds like a real prize. /s

    • It is totally mighty to face facts. So many peoples’ lives are a lie, even when they find out the truth they stay in denial. Not judging anyone because sometimes that is the only way the brain can protect itself from trauma. We are probably fortunate we were connected enough to reality to find a way out.

  • Wow!! I love it. I love that you got your own place!!! I am still in the marital home and feeling so stuck and sad. My mom’s things are here also. I feel so unprepared to go through the stuff and downsize.

  • I was still in love after 10+ years of marriage and totally blindsided so it was horrible. He never told me he was unhappy, on the contrary he would keep telling me how lucky he was for being with me. Nothing made sense. I gathered strength and told him to leave after 2 months, hoping that it would help him pull himself together. He kept calling me every day and was crying on the phone saying that he can’t live without me and that he had finished it with AP. Since I can’t imagine myself being such an evil liar, I believed him. He came home and pretended as if everything was okay. I knew it was not but I convinced myself that the bad days were over. Everything went downhill after my first mistake of accepting him back.
    Now, in his eyes I was just naive and easy to deceive. After DD2 I was disoriented, walking on eggshells, not bringing up the affair, trying to look my best, trying to be fun while feeling like a hostage. I will never forgive him for doing this to me because I clearly remember that he was enjoying my confusion. The pick me dance lasted for over one year until I found CL and Chump Nation. Then I removed him from home for good. He kept texting me and I usually ignored him but there were times I answered with, so I wasn’t NC.
    It took me 4 years total to finally proceed legally. I am not feeling mighty because I waited for so long but it took me really that long to process everything and accept that he was a selfish, horrible liar.

    • Hey, it doesn’t matter how long it took you to process the whole situation and get the divorce. Ten years of marriage is not beanbag. We learn when we are ready. It took me until I was 61 to figure out that my “need” for a man was destroying me. But I learned. We’re mighty! We didn’t continue to live with chaos and abuse. We found a way to choose ourselves instead of an abuser.

      • Thank you LAJ. I find those who immediately get out of this mess incredibly strong. I wasted my precious time but it also helped me understand that there was absolutely nothing I could do. He admitted many times that he is a mess, depressed and addicted to alcohol. But when he is charming, he is wonderful so it kept me stuck. CL and CN were right from the very start. I believed in everything I read here but deep inside I thought that my situation was unique. It was not. It’s always the same narrative and the same heartless cheater. I hope the new readers here realise this and do not waste time to get out.

    • NFV I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be betrayed if you were actually in love with your partner. I suspect a lot of us it was the straw the broke after years of putting up with all manner of other bull. It is still difficult to accept someone you respected is a lying scumbag, but being in love and being betrayed by them would really suck. Four years doesn’t seem so bad to process that.

      • Weedfree thank you for your support. He used to tell me that we had a beautiful love story. Our friends, relatives, neighbors always mentioned our connection. It matters to remember these because I was not making it all up, I was not crazy.
        I saw the change in him but he had lost his parents and his job was stressful but I never ever suspected from him.
        I still cry occasionally but I don’t miss him. I just miss those carefree, happy days. I can’t understand how someone can destroy something beautiful not knowing why he did it. I don’t want anything to do with people who disrespect beautiful things. I don’t want to be near anyone who devalues me. I repeat these to myself, dry my tears and try to get on with life.

  • Once DDay#2 came around, my brain went into flight mode but I was still able to plan and strategize my flight. First I connected with the national DV hotline and they advised me on how to do it. Then I started quietly making bookings.

    The morning I took off, 2 days later, my h slept in after a bad night’s sleep – thank God. During those couple of hours I packed my things and hid them. My h then stepped out to get a haircut and I immediately booked an Uber to take me to the nearby public library with all my luggage, where I waited until I could check in to a hotel near the airport. While at the library I composed my “Dear John” letter to send to my h when he discovered I wasn’t home.

    I flew out of state, with 2 destinations booked, but I only had free housing for about a month total. It was ultimately a 2-month-long process of trying to secure housing in a new city while staying in the homes of others. The new city was intentional…I needed to be cocooned in anonymity while I calmed my body down and sought clarity without him or any of his flying monkeys.

    For those two months after leaving, I was shaking in my boots most of the time, but praying for the strength and courage to take each step forward and away from his toxicity.

    In my new apartment I learned how to set up a bed, set up wifi, set up utilities in my name, etc. All things that I had previously relied on h to do.

    This was nearly 2 years ago and I have no regrets. I am happy in my new home, with new friends, a new church, new hobbies, etc. I am finally getting to know myself after having lost her for over 25 years with my lying and controlling cheater.

    • Brava, OBND! I did the same, with FW#2 nearly 40 years ago. I was scared he would kill me if he found out I was leaving him, so carefully shipped small important personal items to friends in another BIG city – paying cash. I left to do a weeklong gig – which, in reality, was when I left for good. My friends found me a place to live – rent free – for a month, while I got my feet on the ground. Leaving took a bit of planning.

      I had managed to squirrel away, slowly, $1000 cash where he couldn’t find it. I started my life over with that amount.
      I stashed important papers under the driver’s seat in my car where I knew he would never look.
      I snagged a small skillet and buried it in my suitcase for my “weeklong” gig. Snuck a few more items into the car right before I left.
      I immediately got a PO Box in a nearby town, and an unlisted phone number (pre cell-phone days, no email).
      And I went NC except to tell him I was divorcing his cheating ass.

      He made it as difficult as possible. Ultimately I had to go back to the house to pick up furnishings that were mine, but I requested a cop be with me. FW was, of course, insulted that I would do such a thing.

      Over 30 years later, he was still trying to hoover me back. Still trying to get me to “help” him with whatever stupidity he had brought upon himself. His last request was answered by a friend, who is an attorney, on his firm’s letterhead, with a polite response ending with “Ivy has made it clear she doesn’t want to hear from you again. We are confident you will respect her wishes.” I haven’t heard from him since.

      It does bug me that he is able to track me down. I was #3 out of at least 7 marriages (of which I am aware). I guess, since I am still residually scared of him, that I’m not really at meh. And, about once a year, I will have a nightmare involving him. In all other aspects, though, I have moved on from him and have, mostly, thrived.

      • You are not only mighty, IvyLeague, but very smart, too. Well done!

  • The bravest thing I did was just keep going. The day after he texted me on our 10th wedding anniversary that he was going to be living with his gf I got up, got my kids to school, and went to work. I stopped the pick me dancing and got a lawyer the next week. In the divorce and custody fight this really interfered with his whole “Bossy is unstable and not a good parent” fictional narrative. I remember one of the neutral evaluators asking me what I did when he said he wasnt coming home. I just looked at him and told him that I got my three kids to their 3 different schools and then went to work. He looked at my ex and flat out said, that sounds pretty stable to me. Ha!
    I didn’t have any amazing moments but I stayed steady and all his lies about me were eventually exposed. I am SO grateful to Chump Lady and this community! I found it well after being dumped but it has been a lifesaver!

  • You just reminded me of the fear I felt D Day, and for a good long while afterwards. I was so scared when I found out because my ex had in many ways, psychologically, not because of anything he actually offered, caused me feel safe protected me from growing up (internalised misogyny I think- having a “man around”). I just remembered the fear. You are right – it does take courage to leave and say no more.

  • The most scared moments I had and did it anyway was preparing a suitcase for FW and met him in the garage with it. He had kept making excuses as to why he couldn’t fire young AP. After the 5th time I said here you go. He was stunned. I was scared he’d bully his way into the house, he may have thought there was someone waiting for him inside. I should have, I didn’t think that far ahead.
    Foolishly, I let him back in when he allegedly fired her a few weeks later. She was probably on vacation

  • I will never forget my Dday. I had an inkling that my FW was cheating on me. I’d been burying my head in the sand though because to me my marriage was everything. I never had kids and my husband and our home and life was my world. A penalty ticket came in the post that suggested FW had not been at the work conference he said he had been at so I text him asking what it was about. As I watched the ‘dots’ on his reply I could see he was thinking carefully about hos answer and what he replied was another piece of the evidence. I went and searched his office to find receipts for dinners for 2, hotels, car parks and worst of all breakfast for two. All on days he was travelling with work. I knew then that was it. I couldn’t ignore it any more. I photographed all the receipts and carefully put them back. When he returned I was calm, pleasant and perfectly normal. I asked him a question that I knew the answer to. I just knew if he lied he was having an affair. He lied. My heart broke. I very calmly told him to leave and with one small remaining bit of courage I said to him “You and me are DONE”. He packed his stuff, left and I haven’t seen or spoken to him since. 12 years over.

    My life changed horrifically in that split second but I still think I was so brave to end it. I have really struggled since but I got rid of a cheater even though I knew it would break me. It has allowed me to tell myself everyday that I have some self respect.

  • About a week after I confronted her about her cheating, I found out she was parked in a business park parking lot on a Saturday night. None of the businesses were open at that hour, so I went to investigate. Sure enough, her and schmoopie’s vehicles were side-by-side (and running) in the parking lot.
    As I walked up to the door of his truck, I clearly remember thinking “this is probably the end of my marriage.”
    I opened up it up, told him his wife said to say “Hi” (we had been talking on the phone), took a picture, and told FW not to bother coming home.
    They freaked out when the door opened, she screamed and he looked like a fish out of water. Finally he regained the ability to speak and told me to get out of his truck. So I told him to get out of my wife!

  • (phew)” You never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice, right?”

    The bravest thing I did was ride off on my White Horse and never looked back.

    It was 2 years ago this weekend when I learned of his 3+ year double life setting up house and home with his new supply. I had concrete, solid proof and got it all within minutes. After consulting with my family, I saw a lawyer the same day and filed as fast as I could, shaking and never shedding a tear (yet) because I was in fight-or-flight shock mode that first week. I never let him on that I knew. I wanted to get my ducks in a row without him knowing, then surprise him with getting served. One MAJOR critical step that helped during that 1st month was hiring a therapist – — weekly. She was a godsend with her advice and how do deal with a narc, while trying to keep me from jumping off a ledge.

    He found out about me filing 2 days before he got served. I never asked how – wasn’t relevant. I had my script ready to go. I faked keeping my cool (while deathly shaking inside) and wouldn’t engage at all except for the necessary YES and NO questions. Most questions he asked I said answered with “consult your lawyer”. I never raised my voice, never cried in front of him (oh my poor friends dealing with all the tears). Didn’t even cuss at him – once! Thank god my friends did that on my behalf behind his back.

    The best part of not engaging? He has nothing against me to “call me crazy”. I gave him zero to report back to the AP or anyone in his monkey circle. I knew they were planning to live together so there wasn’t even the need for the pick-me-dance.

    The next Brave step challenging me? The squatter would not move out. Couldn’t believe it! Ripped me apart every time I had to look at him knowing he was spending most nights at her place. We don’t even have kids and he still wouldn’t move in with his the AP. Legally, I couldn’t kick him out. That was HELL seeing him in the house, not knowing when he was coming or going, and still trying to be cool as can be, acting as if he wasn’t even there for 9 months. My dad would text me daily. “Well the sun came up today…” Support to let me know time (and my life) is still moving forward. One day at a time.

    Last brave step was the day the divorce was final. Blocked him 100% on every digital device, platform, and app there is in existence. Zero contact since the courtroom. Why bother since we don’t have kids. I heard he already married to his AP 6 months after the divorce was final. Tru wuv just can’t wait.

    My BraveCocktail that kept me going when hit rock bottom unexpectedly?

    A secret game plan + researching betrayal self-help to work on me (not us) + going to the therapist weekly + amazing friends + supportive family + the awesome Chump Lady & Nation army.

    I’m still progressing and heeling, yet I KNOW I can conquer anything after hitting rock bottom. You can too. We all can together. Chin up, T*ts up, climb that white horse, and ride away to a brighter future.

  • Everything was falling apart around me. I had a gas leak in the basement so I had to replace all of the gasolines. It took nearly a week with no heat, no hot water, in the winter. One of my cats was dying after a thousand dollars or ore of vet bills. The gas company made me bring in an electrician, which took another day to arrange and cost more money. Jackass has ghosted me but I hadn’t yet discovered the MOW, although I had suspicions. When the cat died, I was so very upset. I sent a text to Jackass and his response? “She was a nice cat, in her way.”

    That was the moment I started completely untangling my life from his and in doing so, found out about the MOW. It was the moment I knew he had nothing to offer me and I needed to step up and find another way to live because being in relationships with drunks and jackasses was not working.

    • The months that followed DDay every major appliance broke in our house, plus a water leak near the foundation, and our youngest kept getting sick in the middle of the night. It’s like your world really does all fall apart. But same, I found a way to get through each problem and am so much more confident about myself now.

  • My most significant moment of “not gonna take this” was DDay. When I learned about the OW I kicked him out. I never thought I would have courage like that because I was such a doormat for men my whole life. But when I found out that he was having an affair, I just couldn’t deal with that. And from that moment on, there was never a question in my mind about trying to reconcile. There were certainly ups and downs and y’all know the pain that comes in waves. Six years out I am content, I’m happy to not be babysitting him. I do still feel sad about how our marriage ended, angry at him for being such an a#$hole, about not having a partner, but those moments are rare. hugs.

  • While I was a complete mess mentally through this, looking back I realized I was a badass dealing with this bomb thrown in my life.

    On DDay I had a 20 minute Q&A with FW, then kicked him out of the house. I now know that you can’t do that legally, but f-it that’s what I did at the time. I so wanted to throw all his crap out our bedroom door onto the lawn, but then the kids would see. It was 10 days before Xmas and we had nothing up in the house. With the help of my family, I pulled together a celebratory holidays despite a decidedly absent father.

    I made him come over and tell the kids we were getting divorced, although he didn’t frame it in the way we had agreed, but I made him face it and the consequences. After 6 months of him couch surfing “at a friend’s house” I made him get a place (with a lease!) before he could have the kids over. I got the kids and I into therapy.

    And after months in limbo, I researched and found my lawyer and then sat down with him in a small room to negotiate all the divorce details with him and my lawyer as my advocate. I didn’t want to see him and was sick after each session, plus it took a year. I know they say don’t negotiate with these narcissistic a-holes but there were particulars in our case that were not going to be served fairly by the blind state laws and standard practices of most lawyers in my town. I sucked it up and dealt with him personally.

    I’m one of those people-pleasers and hate to make anyone angry or do anything wrong, but I found something else in myself that year and for the first time in my life I didn’t care if I was “being mean”. I made myself be strategic for the sake of myself and my kids’ well being. I met with accountants, financial planners, realtors, lawyer friends, and friends who had dealt with similar situations to get the information I needed. I also met with a CFO friend of mine who schooled me on negotiations tactics and inspired me to be hard. Plus I took a psychology of negotiation online class and streamed the entire series of Game of Thrones all to get me in the mood I needed to be in to do this.

    In the end, I got most of what I wanted into the divorce decree and got that FW out of my life. Now the kids and I are a unit who enjoy vacations and other moments together. They are surprisingly happy and doing well in life (knock on wood). I’m coming out of my fog and working on loosing all that stress-weight, plus I found a new sense of self and know now that I can do amazing things on my own, better even.

  • “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Today’s responses to the question about chump’s actions when we were most afraid revealed the mightiest stories of all.

    • Shit. I should have found a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt.

  • It’s difficult not to compare my reaction to those who left right away, or kicked the FW out immediately. It makes me angry that it took me so long to get to where I am now, which is living on my own, going back for a graduate degree, and almost divorced. But the first DDay was in February 2022.

    I don’t want to go into it as it still is sad and gut wrenching to me (still!). But my immediate response to finding out he was screwing a 21 year old (girl/child – that was my feeling – he was 53) who worked under him was, “we can fix this”. I was in fear-induced “fix-it” mode as I’d been in my entire life (FOO issues: dysfunctional alcoholic mother, cheating malignant-narcissist father). Month after month, with new DDays dropping on me, even worse ones than the first, and I kept trying, kept being honest about my feelings, let’s deal with this, if we just…. pay some British guy (who had 22 affairs in 23 years of marriage but now runs a lucrative “affair-proof your marriage” online program for $3000 to blame both of partners equally), yes, if we work his program we’ll be even better… bla bla until the 21 year old sent me the proof the FW and she were still red hot together (while he was supposed to be working the program with me). Even then, Ms. Fix-it went into real fixing mode. Ok, FW felt the British guy was a phony (turns out it takes one to know one), so that avenue was over. Then I tried mediation with FW – yes, if we could go on a spiritual journey together, that was the real cure to all of this earthly nonsense. We joined Inner Engineering with SadGuru online, hour after after. Maybe it was the US culture at fault! Let’s go live in India in an ashram and get rid of bodily longings. That will CURE the lust that made all this happen. Then that suddenly seemed thin when I found out there were now other women. The 21 year old was dumped (maybe?) and he’d moved on to new ones I didn’t know about.

    It was around that time that it began to dawn on me that things weren’t looking too fixable. This was a bit more than 1 year after first DDay. We still were seeing each other, but no longer sleeping together (my call on that one). He wanted to move back in with me after leaving me the spring before and I said NO. I was finding out more lies about women, but then he began to want to dish with me about them, like I was his confidant. I felt very upset by that! I was so insulted and really hurt. His confiding in me, funnily enough, is what did it. He didn’t even pretend anymore that I was a wife with an interest in our marriage. His telling me about a new girl, saying he wanted to get in her pants, that he was a pig, that’s what did it. The final time I saw him (3 months ago) I met him outside his work for just a minute or two. He kissed me on the cheek like I was his aunt or something. Right after that cheek kiss, I said to myself “I will never see that fucker’s face again.” And I haven’t.

    We had tickets to travel together to visit his family in Europe in May. I changed my ticket to NOT go with him, but to go ON MY OWN for a week, traveling around by train alone. I did it to prove to myself that I could do it. I had a decent time, a much better time than I would have with him.

    It’s been difficult to completely eradicate who I thought he was from my heart, but all I have to do is think of his actions and I’m back in reality, the no-can-fix zone.

    • SumpChump, you are not alone. I too am still struggling a lot with feelings of anger at myself for having been an I-Can-Fix-This Chump for 20+ years. Now I’ve got out of fogged up thinking, I cannot believe what the hell I thought I was doing! I feel embarrassed and humiliated, but I tell myself not to waste energy on that and focus on my future. It took me years to eradicate my loving feelings, it’s only thanks to Chump Lady that I have been able to at all. Reading countless blogs here, countless CN tales of woe, the real picture begins to emerge, the fog disperses. You realise it was a mirage and there is nothing to love.

      • Hi Sunnyside,

        It’s funny, but I replied to your post above before I saw that you had replied to mine! (I put in “newest” in the filter that’s why I saw yours first). Mine to you was also a “you’re not alone” message, so we must have some things (reactions, feelings, age group, etc) in common. Thanks, and I agree with you. Until CumpLady I didn’t quite get it STILL! I’ve seen now that the more I build my life up, the less I moon over what I lost (instead, I should rejoice over what I lost!!). Also helpful for me is I work out every day. I had become so listless and dragging through every day due to the mono he gave me, the lyme I got from a tick, and just from fog (like you said) and the draining emotional abuse and exhaustion. After my trip abroad in May, it was like a great re-set, and I came home and have been working out to “Body Project” (free on Youtube) videos. Now I am bouncing off the walls with energy. It really made a huge difference to me. Also, that on a bodily level (where it really gets learned on a cellular basis – that’s my unscientific view), it shows me that I CAN do it, do anything. If I’m tired, or the workout is hard, no matter, I get through it, it improves my life, my energy, my mind set. It’s a big help! I love it! Seems off point, but I believe working out can help bravery pop out of your pores!

        • Hi SumpChump, you are right, I think we do have quite a lot in common. Even both getting mono!

          Thank you for reminding me how good it makes you feel to have a regular work out. I know from the past that it gives me more energy and drive too, although I’m pretty self-disciplined as it is. I’ve been planning to get back to it, but I have had so much to sort out after FW left that I’ve been too exhausted by the time I’ve battled through the day.

          FW left the house looking like a hoarder had taken over, inside and out – up to the ceilings – the garden was overgrown and strewn with his machinery and junk too, and the outbuildings and both verandas, the landlord was furious and I feared losing the roof over my head, so I kind of forgot everything else. We had extreme heat here too from springtime onwards, which is also more tiring.

          FW did pick up the stuff he was interested in, but he left the rest to me and I didn’t say anything coz I just wanted to see the back of him asap.

          I have a plan to rebuild my life too and generally it is helping, but sometimes I suddenly find myself being drowned in a tsunami of emotions, sadness, confusion, shock, disbelief. I have to read Chump Lady regularly to keep re-organising my brain cells so I know how to understand what I’ve gone through and find my way back to “I can do this!” Chump Lady should be commended for some kind of medal, seriously, she is the Mother Teresa of Chumps, I know many others also feel they owe their lives to her.

          Now I’m going to respond to your other post 🙂

    • *I meant to write we did Meditation together (not mediation! – Our divorce was DIY by me, of course)

    • Yes: He didn’t even pretend anymore that I was a wife with an interest in our marriage.

      I reached that point as well. He was shameless in how he treated me and was enraged when I confronted him. Ugh. At that point my own rage kicked in. It still took me about six months to kick his ass out. But FINALLY he’s physically gone from the house. Now working on the divorce. Which feels like another mountain.

  • I asked my then husband to leave the house and go to Extended stay America so I could “think.”.just a few days after Dday. With the help of my amazing therapist, I filed within 10 days of D day. I got a restraining order due to my husband’s arsonal, threats and mental instability. Once I had the protection order, I changed all the locks. I was so scared I hid under my covers shaking every night. I asked the sheriff to call me when he served my husband of 32 years. He did call me and I was packed and ready to go to a hotel for safety. I stayed in a hotel for 4 nights, the usual amount of time for my husband’s rages. I returned home after all the locks were changed and I had already gone to the police to alert them personally of my situation. I showed them my protection order. I remained scared to death because my husband had expected to be home for Father’s day and that did not happen. He was always armed and now super angry.
    He was very sure I would never file and that I would forgive him AGAIN. That belief kept me safe for a few days so I could lock him out. My divorce was just final after 1 year and a huge cost. We did mediation at the end but never in the same room and I was NO CONTACT which saved me listening to his sad sausage, rages and blame. I only saw his eyes for one moment as he passed my room during mediation. Thank you Tracy for telling me the truth about cheaters lies. I could have never ever stayed STRONG.I gave up alimony and my house with all its contents,but saved myself in the end. I cut all financial ties. I had a prenup prior to this marriage and would not marry him without a vasectomy. I was not completely stupid but still lost a great deal. Peace at any cost. I am thrilled to be free and to find ME again. I am 70 years old. Anyone can do what I did if they have fear that breathes courage. God is my witness and led me through the fire. My church failed me too, but that’s going to be ok.

  • The most terrified I’ve even been in my entire life was the day I showed up at OUR bank to take half of OUR joint account after speaking to a divorce lawyer behind FW’s back. We were, according to him, just going to use one lawyer (his). He had no idea I had retained a lawyer who directed me to immediately take half my money out before letting him know I had my own representation. It speaks to how well I was under FWs control that when taking half my money I felt like I was robbing the bank. I was so scared. And when FW found out??? Wow. I was scolded for being sneaky and dishonest. “I see your true character now”. This from the man who was currently sleeping with his married coworker and had been for who knows how long. I’m so glad to be out from under that man’s control.

    Thank you for giving us this community, Tracy!!

  • I’m a lawyer, as is the ex. Together for 26 years before I was left for the exgf from school. Apparently this is becoming as common as being left for the much younger woman. It feels as if it’s about attempting to recapture youth in much the same way. As a litigation lawyer I’m tough and have held some high profile roles. But I became terrified of the ex. Looking back 4 years, it’s shocking how terrified I was. How did that happen! Every tiny step I took was an act of bravery. My bravest act was getting up in the morning and going for job interviews (at 59). I now have my portfolio career, a mix of paid and volunteer work. I remember sitting in interviews and wanting to scream at the panels ‘do you know how much pain I’m in, yet I’m still here answering your questions?’ My resilience and gritty determination not to be destroyed by the actions of the man I had loved is amazing to me. I didn’t realise just how deep I could dig to save myself. It gives me confidence to know I can cope with life’s slings and arrows.

    • “Together for 26 years before I was left for the exgf from school. Apparently this is becoming as common as being left for the much younger woman. ”

      This must be a “con” (or a “pro” depending how you look at it) of social media. Before FaceBook, people lost touch with previous relationships more commonly.

  • A few days after D day, I was a mess. I feared everything. The FW, however, was excited about moving out of our family home and into his young Ho-worker’s cute little apartment. On the morning of the move, I overheard him telling our daughter that he was just taking a few clothes and some toiletries and he’d just come and get things from the house as and when he needed to.
    He took the kids out to the park for an hour to say goodbye and my anger kicked in. I speed-packed every item of clothing he owned and all his possessions into bin bags with a gleeful amount of mixing …so his tuxedo jacket, with one hiking boot went in a bag along with his wetsuit, one work shirt, one cufflink and his reading glasses. This was my R-E-S-P-E-C-T movie-montage moment. It was a Sunday afternoon so I calmly waited until all the self-storage unit offices were closed and the kids were settled in another room before I told him I had helpfully packed his things and he had to take it all with him right now.
    The look on his face in that moment powered me though the rest of his nonsense. Shock. I wasn’t being a helpful wife appliance??
    Throughout our marriage, he had always refused to declutter or part with any item of clothing, no matter how ragged, so all 22 years’ worth of his shite was there. Too many bags to count. Suddenly, he was Marie Kondo and wanted to go through it all immediately and just pick out what he needed and chuck the rest. Nope. “You can empty out all your crappy stuff and go through it on HER kitchen floor, pal, not mine. She wants a family man with baggage? Here you go! This is the baggage.”
    He whined and wheedled but I stood firm. His friends had all cut him off already so he had no choice but to trudge it all over to her place, where it was apparently not well-received.
    I had lots of un-mighty moments throughout the process, but that’s a good memory.
    Oh and his AP dumped him just a few months later.
    Four years on, he’s a super sad sausage. I’m as close as I can get to no contact. The kids and I have a simple, joyful (uncluttered) life and our walls sing.

    • I love the baggage comment.

      I knew my fws adultery partner wouldn’t dump him, she was desparate for a meal ticket, but he did continue his life with her with one bad decision after another. He hit that ditch and kept digging.

      I only know because we shared a grown son. Plus at the time I heard things from a couple mutual friends.

      I had already known she had gone after several married men, but she hit the jackpot in stupidity when she ran into my fw. (she was his direct report and that gave her power). And to this day, I do think that although she was a grown ass woman, and she knew better; he still abused his power. The only reason I think she is equal in responsibility is they were screwing like rabbits and they both kept it a secret when he helped her get her job under him, (no pun intended). But they both lied to make sure she got that job.

      So two con artist got together, that was never going to go smoothly.

    • London Chump you did a great job with his stuff. They usually have no intention of getting the things they hoarded over the years, which were scattered in every corner of our homes. They are either lazy or delusional. Ex-mine was telling me that he can’t take his stuff because it gives him hope that he will come back home one day. I already put the ones he valued the most in the garage and left them among the spiderwebs. I have been throwing his other stuff in the garbage every week, and it gives me great pleasure to see them being thrown into big ,smelly garbage truck every Tuesday.

  • I was barely 21, I think it was survival instinct more than bravery. I jumped out of the car as it was coming to a stop at a big junction next to a large indoor mall and ran for my life. I knew from FW’s foul mood that I would likely not survive this time if I went “home” with him. I only had a cardigan on and a paper tissue in my pocket. It took two weeks to be able to collect my belongings.

    I think it was bravery when I returned to that city a year later to complete the last year of my studies. I spent most of my time trembling and had dreadful fears and regular nightmares of him finding me, as he said he would kill me if I ever dared to leave him. But I needed that qualification to be independent in life, so I stuck it out.

    Many years and too many FW’s later, I think I am being brave now too, though I also have little choice. I had seen enough evidence of FW# Ω infidelity and then it took me a few weeks to gain courage, though I knew I couldn’t go on living with him as I felt drastically ill all the time, and as that inner revulsion grew to breaking point, I finally told him it was over and asked him to leave.

    I think I am brave because I have nothing but debts (thanks to years of “helping’” FW, who has taken everything: my home, savings, private pension funds (not entitled to state pension). I am late 50’s and have no source of income yet, live alone in a rental place far from anywhere and often don’t see or speak to anyone for weeks at a time.

    I just have to believe I’ll make it as I have no choice. But if I have to eat grass, one thing is for sure, I’ll NEVER have that FW live with me again, any situation is better than that.

    • Sunnyside,

      I’m sorry you have to live in isolation. I too live far from anyone I know right now, as it was what I could afford when he left. I see people I know very seldom too. I’m planning to move soon though because this isn’t healthy for me and I’ll live in a studio just to be back in the known world. I’m also in my late 50s and had a previous violent FW husband that I escaped in an awful scene, then a bunch of short-term jerks later I went on to marry (for almost two decades) the last FW.

      Last year when I was still doing wreckonciliation attempts, I got a local job in retail for about six months (which I have now left), but it really did help with isolation. I had nice co-workers and also fun customers. It’s a feeling I love to be on a team. I’m applying for a graduate school program and will borrow the funds needed.

      Anyway, I really hope you can find your way to be more in contact with people, in whatever capacity, I even did some volunteering at a local Habitat for Humanity store last year and it was good to be useful and part of the group. I tend to isolate myself as I’m an introvert and can find life perfectly fascinating on my own, but in the evening time there’s a time of day when I get very lonely and feel like I’m living in an isolation tank, like a prison of my own making. Of course it doesn’t help having an entire life history where coming into intimate contact with people was so hurtful and disastrous. I know for me it’s a way to feel self-protected, but it comes at a cost. I think I’ll just stay away from involvement with men. I no longer trust any of them and don’t even want any of them. However, I have wonderful, kind friends and I have a warm and fun and close relationship with my grown kids and their partners. There are safe humans to be close to and there are the FWs. I’m done with them, but I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. And they ARE bath water. Filthy.

      • Hi SumpChump, that is so amazing, I also had a very violent FW husband when still a teenager who I had to escape from, and then also a string of FW losers, and now FW# Ω who I was also with for a little over 2 decades.

        And we both live in isolation! I will also move once I’ve got the financial means together again. I have very basic stuff to sort first though before I can even get to that. I’m planning to work from home, I have qualifications which are suited to that, but it’s not going to help with the isolation. I have already volunteered to help my local priest once I have the capacity and I’m looking forward to that and hope it will help getting to know my community better.

        I am good with my own company too. I have no idea if I am an introvert or what, as I’m still rebuilding knowing who I am!

        I’m glad to hear you have a network of family and friends. I am so grateful I still have two cousins who care about me, but I lost all but two friends during my time with FW# Ω. They all live in different countries though. I came to live here as I was travelling with FW and he wanted to stay here and now I’m alone in a place I never intended to live.

        I also do not plan to ever get involved with a man again. Not that there are no good chaps out there, but my nerves are so shot, I can’t imagine surviving the fear of being duped. Anyway, that’s an alternate Universe that I’m not living in so it doesn’t matter.

        I so admire members of CN who have found new partners, gosh, just to d-a-r-e trust a man again – whew! I went through countless wreckconciliations over the past 10 years at least. It is the perfect word for it as it leaves you feeling like a wreck, and wrecks the rest of your life too. But here at CN we can see that others have made it to a new life and are happy, so there is hope!

    • Sunnyside, you are incredibly brave.
      I get it about being isolated and scared for your future. If you need somebody to talk to, I can relate. I live with my daughter, which is great, but barely speak to and hardly ever see anyone else. Part of it has been the impact of Covid and the other part is losing people, both to death and because of my breakup with FW. I can’t even call these “friends” and “family members” Swiss, because they dumped me for FW, who does lots of favors for people and kisses up to them to insure the users in his life like him.
      Anyway, let me know if you’d like an email pal to help relieve the loneliness. Your story really touched me.

      • OHFFS, thank you so much for your kindness. I cried when I read your offer of being an email pal to me. I would really appreciate that. I don’t know how to communicate my address though without it being public. Do you?

        I was stunned to read that you think I am brave, thank you. I read about other Chumps and am in awe, but my own life seems to be just a hopeless disaster, nothing to be proud of. Other than that I’ve survived, perhaps, LOL!

        I am sorry you have become more isolated since Covid, but thankfully you still have your daughter close to you. My father died in 2020, he was the reason I had maintained contact with my dysfunctional family and missing him has been very tough. My mother and sister dropped me when he died, not that they were genuinely interested in me before. That was a shock, but I’ve got my head around that now.

        If people dumped you when you rescued yourself from FW, then sadly they were “frenemies”, and not true friends. I thought I had a lot of friends, I certainly sent a lot of Christmas cards when I first met FW# Ω, but they all dropped me as he made my life more and more difficult and complicated. I only have two left, but at least I know they are true.

        I can imagine the confused, helpless feeling you have when looking at the people who have betrayed you.
        I realised only in the past year that FW was manipulating people (“friends”) and creating a whole narrative about me. I could feel how they had changed towards me and couldn’t understand why, but now I can see it is all part of this sociopath/psychopath behaviour. And doing favours for everyone, being the nice guy, I had one of those too. Just he was a misery guts, antisocial a-hole at home.

        And you cannot underestimate the lengths they go to for Image Maintenance! In public FW# Ω has charm and friendliness in buckets. I was just thinking today about that lovely old film with Rock Hudson and Doris Day, Pillow Talk. There’s a short video excerpt on YT after the song “Roly Poly” where you get to see how RH does all the typical sociopath stuff, telling the tall tales, getting caught but then turning it all around in an instant to his advantage, especially with the focus of getting an unsuspecting woman into bed. But the best bit is when the singer overhears and sings, “You lied, you dog, and you’ll be sorry … ” and RH has such a duper’s delight expression and winks at her – no remorse whatsoever. That whole thing could have been FW# Ω to a T.

        • I have no problem making my email public, Sunny.
          [email protected]
          I never sign up for email with my real personal info. So if identity thieves were to hack in, they would find nothing they could use.

          “My mother and sister dropped me when he died, not that they were genuinely interested in me before. That was a shock, but I’ve got my head around that now.”

          😡 That pisses me off and it’s a lot to get your head around. I am so sorry they treated you that way.

          “I only have two left, but at least I know they are true.”

          That’s everything. It’s the one consolation about being chumped. It weeds out the fakers and users.

          I haven’t seen Pillow Talk in a long time. I’m always happy to get to know another old movie buff. After my life turned blew up in my face, TCM got me through many a dark hour.

          • OHFFS, thank you for your compassion. I guess it is one of those wounds that will never really heal but you learn to live with it. I’ll drop you a line now.

  • I filed for divorce with no means to support myself yet. I had not worked ft in 20 years and I was in my mid50s. He had a high-status and high-paying job. The day FW was served via email my brother stayed overnight at our family home. I was worried FW would come and confront me in a rage. Not long before that he had come to the house to get some of his belongings and he screamed at me and raged to the point that our 2 dogs wouldn’t leave my side because they were protecting me. I persevered. Moved out of our family home of 20 years to a smaller but nice rental home. I found a job with health insurance and decent pay that I love. I have made a few new friends and reconnected with old friends. Myadult kids and I are close. Life is peaceful and good.

  • After I listened to Psychopath Free for the 3rd time, it finally clicked. I know who he is. And I told him to his face. I lived in denial for years. He’s a master manipulator. I’ve accomplished so much since he’s out of my life.

  • After 34 years of marriage, I had my first D-day. In a matter of seconds, I went from not having any clue to finding out everything. I’ll tell the story with the details some other time. I left him immediately— that very day. I left for work that day with a small bag packed, then I spent the next few weeks in hotel rooms and at friends’ houses. I decided to end it immediately upon my discovery– that very day. I filed immediately (shortly thereafter). Eventually I found another place to live, living on my own for the first time in my life and paying rent on a part time job. My divorce is pending.

    • I was 32 years..took me 10 days to leave..I locked my husband out as he had rages and carried all the time. House full of guns. Divorce just over after 12 months. I have never had more peace. I was in love with an illusion. An alien. I don’t know this man at all. He only wanted freedom to have sex with anyone and come home to me. No.

  • Early one morning after He had been acting suspiciously, I broke into his Facebook and found a message he had written to a friend. He told the friend all about the other woman, and how happy he was and how happy his mom was for him. I honestly thought I was gonna have a heart attack right there. Instead called my cousin, the lawyer, then my mom. I emailed the confession message to my brother and my best friend and his copies around the house. There were plenty of mistakes and doubts along the way, but I did divorce him, went back to school and got a master degree, and a better job to go with it. My kids and I are doing way better now than we were when he was here. My oldest is getting married in the Fall and he’s going to be at the wedding. I’m a little worried about it, but I keep telling myself I already did the hard part- I got rid of him.

    • I recently saw FW after more than a year. It was like looking at a complete stranger. Who is this? I thought. Maybe it was my brain protecting me. I really felt like he was a stranger. I said no more than a few words and excused myself. He’s not my friend. Our kids are grown. There is no reason for me to talk to him. I’m not divorced yet. But I started the process. Since you are divorced, you really don’t owe him shit.

      For you, maybe you can get some relatives or friends to stay by your side at the wedding so you don’t have to interact with FW. And if you have to, make it super brief and get away. You don’t owe him anything. He’s not your friend.

      Also, the point of the wedding is to celebrate the couple. To bless them and celebrate them. Make that your focus and you will forget about FW. Good luck! You will be great!!

    • You’ll get through the wedding. Just be coldly polite if FW tries to talk to you. Make an excuse and walk away.
      It’s such a pity they have to ruin these occasions, which should be lightness and joy instead of emotionally fraught.

  • Going to see a lawyer. I misunderstood abuse to be hitting. Now I know that explosive anger, shouting, breaking things, refusing to discuss problems, and controlling finances are other forms of abuse. He demanded that I always had location software on. After I caught him in lie, gave up hope of improvement, and decided he was not going to change, I left the phone at home, took cash, and consulted with a lawyer. It was the first brave step towards a peaceful life happily divorced.

    • Good for you. Exactly! Abuse can be all those things. And it’s to serve the abuser so others can’t see the abuse. Only you are the one feeling it. I send you my prayers for a speedy and safe pathway.

  • I feared a life without him. We had been together for 24 years. Twenty married. I did a little pick me dance for about a week. The counsellor I saw told me we had to be sure before we told our 19 year old son. We therefore had a week as he had exams and I was clear we were not telling him until those were over. That week gave me enough to face my fear. I he kept turning up crying and made noises about trying again, but kindly told me it was my fault, that had was happier with his AP, the sex was better with her and if we were going to stay together it would need to be an open relationship. It was when I clarified that this would mean me being able to have sex with other people that I was out. It might be ok for some people but not me. Since found out that he is a swinger who has been stealing from me and taking money off my mum whilst telling her not to tell me. I adored him. Or the person I thought he was. Now working hard to get him out of my life. Bravery has come in the shape of contacting the AP’s husband to find out the truth and then confronting with it. Really, really hard. X

    • It is very hard to turn away from someone who has been your partner for so long. But you realized that he’s a liar, and that he’s already cheating, and that staying with him would mean you accept and even approve his shitty behavior. Good for you in saying NO WAY! Many of us, myself included, stayed for years because of fear or maybe we believed it really was our fault. It totally is NOT! You can’t make someone love you.

      We Chumps all have our limits. Some of us reach them immediately and for some of us it takes time. But I’m so glad that I finally reached my limit and said NO MORE! I wake up every day feeling peace. But also sadness that someone I really admired could be such a dumbass DICK! That he chose this other wacko reality over his real life wife and kids. He’s not my friend and I no longer trust him.

      I can’t go back in time. I have to let it go. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • My brave moment was to look at the content of his phone.
    First time in 33 years of marriage. What I found makes me dry heave still 3 years down the track. Lies deceit prostitution. I took photos on my phone of it.
    I stayed awake all night shaking. I prayed I wouldn’t die from a heart attack.
    The next morning I had a series of questions that led him into a trap. I wanted to see him lie to my face to understand what I’d missed. As I asked each more and more specific question the mask fell. He knew that I knew.
    I told him to get the eff out of my life. I screamed how dare he!
    I reported some of his images to the federal police.
    I recorded the conversation due to inappropriate child stuff that I can’t talk about. I got a lawyer 1 day later.
    I never looked back.not once.
    I took my son and my dignity and fought for our future.
    That’s my sad but mighty story. I still find it difficult to believe it happened.
    Since then I sold the family home after renovating it. I bought a property and demolished the old house. I have bought a house to go on it. I will create another home. My son is beautiful and 13 now.

    I am free. I am a survivor. But most of all I am grateful to have found out who he really is.

  • I think my bravest moment was the last fortnight FW lived here with me, culminating in me chucking him out, because I still loved the man I thought he was, and it was the most difficult and horrible and painful thing I’ve ever had to do.
    He’d not come home at all from work on the Saturday after finishing his night shift and hadn’t contacted me. He hadn’t been getting nearly enough sleep (cocaine!) and so I constantly fretted he’s have an accident on the road or on the railway track and he knew that! I ended up ringing him that evening and he lied to me he was stuck in traffic about an hour’s drive away and was on his way home. Well, the hour came and went and no sign of him. A few hours later and I rang him again and he lied again. I even told him I didn’t believe him and he doubled-down on the lie! That was the beginning of the end for me.
    I started to will myself to detach from him, to listen and observe. I began to perceive him as fake and false but I kept a cool head as I needed him to drive me to hospital for a procedure under general anaesthetic 2 weeks from then and , as he’d made sure I was isolated and totally dependant on him, I had no one else. He was so callous and uncaring that day, it sealed his fate and when he didn’t come home again on the Sunday after finishing his Saturday night shift, I texted him “I have something to tell you, it won’t take long and then you can go back to what you’re doing.” Sniffing coke and betraying me no doubt!
    He was so bitter and full of self pity, I was sort of shocked. I hadn’t known what to expect but it wasn’t that! Of course he threw some accusations at me and I did feel a bit bad but I didn’t cave!
    My next bravest was to front him out when he rang me, then came to my door, the night I’d emailed him want a divorce and annulment! I vented all my anger and it was justified! He tried a few times to argue back by saying “Yeah but you kept ringing me wanting to know where I was and when I was coming home….” but I just replied that was because he was lying! I only started ringing him because I was worried about him, and then because he’d lie to me that he WAS on his was home- he WANTED me to ring him! He was setting me up and playing a very nasty, cowardly game with me! I NEVER rang him like that again after the night I told him I didn’t believe him! He’s just A Lying Liar who Lies and I just want my complete and total freedom from him now!

  • I called my friend and told her I needed to go to the emergency room. I was in the SI watch unit for five days. She was the only one who knew where I was and the only one who would have cared.

    It was a long car ride late at night with strangers who chatted while they transported me. The building was dark and on full lock down because of COVID and because that’s how those places are anyway. They even took my hair clip. Very surreal experience walking down the hall to the unit. I nearly collapsed into a heap on the floor but the employee was calm and assured me that it would not be so bad.

    It wasn’t so bad. Go if you need to! It was my first step in beginning the climb out of the severe abuse and abandonment. Still working on it, but at regular counseling sessions.

  • When was I brave during the awful process of my FW XW of almost 25 years and the mother of my three children exit-affairing me by having a sexual and emotional relationship w/her boss and what did I fear? Hmmm…🤔

    The first thing that comes to mind was when, thirteen days after D-day (heads up Mr. CL!😁) and on my dead father’s birthday, she walked out the door and a half mile down the street to be w/her boss and current partner in a brand new, expensive apartment, just built in our village.

    I was devastated, as I had tried to reconcile w/her and played the pick-me dance at first. But despite my pleas for reconciliation, she left me to walk down the street into her POS AP’s arms.

    Then, a few days later, she called or told me in person (can no longer remember which)that she was going to come back and retrieve her bedroom dresser, and other things from the house. And I really understood she had no intention of coming back to me. I might have entertained some fantasies still about it happening, but that really woke me up. And got me angry.

    I quickly checked to see if I was right about something, and I soon found out I was; in her haste to leave, and in her long-term disdain for wearing her engagement and wedding rings, she had left them in her jewelry case on top of her dresser.

    I decided right then and there that she wasn’t exit-affairing me AND gettto keep those. So I pocketed them, and waited for her to find out I had them. So even though I was fearful I was going to screw up a possible reconciliation w/her (hopium springs eternal!), my anger/honor demanded some satisfaction.

    She was clueless until I hinted at what I had done. Then she was indignant. I remained indifferent, even when her older sister, the favorite aunt, tried to tell me those were gifts, and that I shouldn’t take them back. I replied that they were gifts predicated on the idea that her sister would be true to our marriage and me, not no matter what. And that her shitty cheater’s actions voided any claim she had to these “gifts.”

    That’s all I’ve got for right now. Hope CL, and all of CN are doing well.

  • Reading this, I am saddened by the number of episodes of infidelity it takes before most of us walk.

  • I think the bravest moment was physically walking away after I found his dodgy texts to another woman. I’d had no time to prepare – saw 7-8 texts, he came back from the bathroom and I immediately asked him “what’s this?”. It was like a bomb had gone off in my brain – I could hear everything go quiet and hear my own breathing. I could still feel that there were feelings going through me – relief, anger, at one point I was crying – but it all felt muted because I felt numb all over. He tried to talk his way out of it and as he was talking my brain was racing. Even though I hadn’t fully processed what the hell was happening, the survival part of my brain had already done the math, realised this didn’t add up and understood that this was the end and I needed to leave and was urging me to go – I could actually hear my own voice in my head telling me “[Name], you need to leave” over and over again – but I knew that my entire life as I knew it (which I had loved) was gone forever. It was like I’d left one room and needed to open the door and go into another room, but was currently standing in the corridor between the doors, not wanting to open the next one. I felt so heavy and it was such an effort to physically get up off the bed and move my legs. To someone watching, it probably looked like I had a relatively calm albeit emotionally fraught conversation, cried a bit and then slowly got a few things together and walked away. To me it was saying goodbye to the person I loved most in the world and who’d been my home, family and future and walking into the blackness. Which was scary and final. And no I did not feel brave doing it. It didn’t even feel like much of a choice – he’d killed the relationship, all I could do was accept what had happened, say goodbye to the body and stumble forward. But looking back I knew what he’d meant to me and how hard it was to accept what he did immediately, and I’m proud of myself for choosing to trust my own voice and stepping out of the corridor.

    • You are indeed very brave and strong to leave when you did, and bless you for it!
      I know exactly what you mean by standing in between 2 doors and not wanting to go thru the 2nd one because it’s a door to a dark place, the unknown. I’m 2 and a half months from making my husband leave and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I still haven’t really got a life yet, and I’m grieving for the man he used to be before he turned into a faithless, deceitful coke-head, because I really loved him ( the man he was when I married him, not the creature he’s become!). I have had a couple of bad days Sunday and Monday, I have felt so lonely, real sobbing, crying jags, and have had a few nights of waking up when it’s still dark, heart bursting out of my chest and boiling hot, sweat pumping out of me- cortisol surges- so my energy levels have crashed! It’s part of grieving because we have suffered a great loss, because the men we loved have as good as ceased to exist, and there are these cheating, lying “changelings” in their place.
      We didn’t want this. It takes 2 to make any relationship work, but only one to poison it! They poisoned their relationships with us, and we just put the poisoned relationships out of their misery! Mercy killings if you like, but there was no pain relief and it hurt like mad (and still does for me, now my anger seems to have calmed down a bit)! Now all that’s left is the funerals and burials- divorce and in my case, an annulment I hope! We are like widows and we need to mourn, but we do have futures and we WILL recover! CL has been such a great help to me, and my best friend and son have been wonderful, so get as much support as you can and keep posting here. Sending you hugs from Ireland.

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