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When Will I Feel Meh?

Dear Chump Lady,

How I wish I had found your book and website before I read Shirley Glass’s sexist, apologist Not Just Friends with him or spent $600 for him to charm a couples’ counselor into telling me that we “clearly share[d] one of the most special bonds” she had seen, yadda yadda yadda. So much pain could have been avoided. Half of these UBT emails may as well have been lifted verbatim from his own missives.

On the other hand, I likely would not have found out the full extent of the cheating, lying, and betrayal had I left on the first D-Day, when the cop was only to “emotional cheating” and a drug relapse. I’m grateful for that because at least I have no lingering thoughts of “what if,” and no one in my life is under the illusion that he’s anything but a piece of garbage and complete scam artist they should not come within a 1,000-mile radius of.

I no longer want to be with him. He disgusts me. I think back to how he used to embarrass me when I brought him around my friends and family with horror. I can’t believe a catch like me ever gave the time of day to a loser like him, let alone years of my life. Moreover, I now understand that what I once missed was the idea of him and the future that I was planning for us when he was bullshitting me into believing we were once-in-a-lifetime soulmates.

Since leaving him (he forced me to be The Bad Guy for my own sanity. Sure, he moved out of our shared apartment without telling me while I was away, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t still date, like we used to), I am so much better off. I’ve gotten professional accolades and promotions, I was in the best shape of my life [before the pandemic], I reengaged in my hobbies, I reconnected with friends and family from whom he isolated me. He actually tried to sabotage my career because he “resented” that I was more successful than he was. I mean, this is not a good guy! As luck would have it, he compromised his own career due to his dishonesty and lack of integrity, and is now in tens of thousands of dollars of debt and being supported financially by one of the Other Women (he constantly threw in my face how she was actually more successful than I, so, by the transitive property, shouldn’t that make him resent her more?).

And yet… it’s over eighteen months on, I’m in a healthy relationship with someone I trust completely (we’re taking it slow), and I am still overcome with feelings of rage about the injustice of it all. Why did I have to spend so much time in counseling, reading books, working out, piecing my life back together, moving apartments, relieving myself of the fault I shouldered for the demise of our relationship, crying in the bathroom at work, dealing with debilitating stress migraines, having flashbacks to his rages, trying to grow as a person, when he got off scot-free? Why does he get to pretend I, and the life we built together, never existed? Why does one of the OW he trashed-talked the entire time we were together get to live without the pain I experienced? Why does she get to live the fantasy? Why do his friends, who were also my friends, not see him for the fraud he is? Why isn’t his mother, who loved me, pissed at him? Why does he not realize how good he had it and how much he lost? Why isn’t he groveling? Why am I writing to you now, a stranger on the internet, over a year later? I don’t feel Meh about him. I feel like I want him to be strapped to a board with barbed wire and forced to watch everything he loves in the world be destroyed. Because that’s how I felt when I learned my whole life was a lie.

I realize I’m asking you a question without an answer. And I must admit that it felt a little cathartic just to write it all out. I know he doesn’t deserve to live rent-free in my head, or my nightmares, recently. Isn’t there just some magic pill I can take to feel indifference already? What is wrong with me that I haven’t been able to?


It’s Still Just So Unfair


Dear It’s Still Just So Unfair,

At some point you’ve got to decide between justice and meh.

I’m telling you, as a survivor of this shit — choose meh.

Meh is my shorthand for acceptance. Take back your power and decide that this person no longer has the power to hurt you. Be grateful he isn’t actively in your orbit hurting you or those you care about. (People who bred with fuckwits have a MUCH harder row to hoe.)

People who have the power to hurt you are people you are invested in. People whose good opinion of you matters. You are no longer invested in him, and know he’s a fraud, so why internalize a bozo’s judgement?

If you get hung up on the injustice — and it is a real injustice — it’s absolutely traumatizing to be chumped — you will be tethered to a situation you don’t control. A powerlessness that feels a lot like being partnered with a fuckwit, really.

You don’t control justice, unless you mean revenge, which I discourage. And I’m not waving that off lightly. As I’ve written here before, I am peace, love and granola, but I had vivid fantasies of gutting my cheater with a fish knife. Stem to stern.

But why would I throw my life away for a fuckwit? Why should you? Their punishment is being them. People don’t have character transplants. Their crappy character and shit life skills follow them forever. Leave it to the laws of natural consequences — the arc can be LONG, but it’s there.

Focus on what you DO control — you. Meh is something you can strive for and achieve. Karma for fuckwits, not so much.

I don’t know if you ever truly feel indifferent about being chumped (says the woman who’s been writing a blog about infidelity for years…) but you can accept that it happened, and you can rise above it. That’s a battle worth waging — gaining the new life. Meh just creeps up on you over time, as the new life eclipses the old life.

Read here awhile and thank your lucky stars that you don’t have deeper sunk costs. A $600 shrink bill is galling. Try 20 years and two kids. Try being a 50-year-old SAHM trying to re-enter the workplace. Or a man who had to paternity test his children. It’s not the Pain Olympics, but some perspective helps.

Now to your questions.

Why did I have to spend so much time in counseling, reading books, working out, piecing my life back together, moving apartments, relieving myself of the fault I shouldered for the demise of our relationship, crying in the bathroom at work, dealing with debilitating stress migraines, having flashbacks to his rages, trying to grow as a person, when he got off scot-free?

You’re a person of substance who connects. Ergo it’s painful to disconnect. He’s a human ball of dryer lint. He didn’t get off “scot-free”, he has no substance. There’s no pain because there’s no substance.

Do not wish to be dryer lint.

Why does he get to pretend I, and the life we built together, never existed?

He can pretend anything he wants. He can dress up like the Marquess of Salisbury and have tea parties. Don’t concern yourself with what fuckwits think.

Why does one of the OW he trashed-talked the entire time we were together get to live without the pain I experienced?

You don’t know that. She’s trying to connect with human dryer lint. That will either be painful eventually, or she too is human dryer lint and they’re a match.

Not. Your. Problem.

Why does she get to live the fantasy?

Are there scones at the tea party?

Why do his friends, who were also my friends, not see him for the fraud he is?

These people are not your friends.

Why isn’t his mother, who loved me, pissed at him?

She probably wants someone to take him off her hands. And he fucked it up.

Why does he not realize how good he had it and how much he lost?

Because he doesn’t value good people, he uses them. He found someone else to use, so in his world, that’s not losing. That’s changing hosts.

Why isn’t he groveling?

Pray that he doesn’t. If he circles back, he wants to use you. Shut that shit down.

Why am I writing to you now, a stranger on the internet, over a year later?

Well, I’m kinda winsome.

I don’t feel Meh about him. I feel like I want him to be strapped to a board with barbed wire and forced to watch everything he loves in the world be destroyed.

Before you gut him with a fish knife? I’ve had that fantasy.

What gets destroyed? His favorite sports jersey?

He doesn’t love like you love. He doesn’t live in this world as you live in it. Destruction doesn’t register.

Because that’s how I felt when I learned my whole life was a lie.

His whole life is a lie.

He’s never going to be shocked like you were shocked because his whole life is a LIE. The guy is a fraud. He has no world to destroy, because every world he inhabits is FAKE. See point #1 — you have substance, you connect. He’s not you.

I realize I’m asking you a question without an answer. And I must admit that it felt a little cathartic just to write it all out. I know he doesn’t deserve to live rent-free in my head, or my nightmares, recently.

The nightmares often come much later in the chump experience. When you’re safe and can start processing. I still have the occasional nightmare. Just realize it for what it is — healing.

Isn’t there just some magic pill I can take to feel indifference already?

No contact and keep building a new life. The liberation campaign can take quite a bit of time. Sounds like you’re navigating it really well! Excelling at work, being in great shape, taking it slow with a new guy. Great work!

What is wrong with me that I haven’t been able to?

Nothing is wrong with you. Give it time and keep investing in your new life. One day (it’s a Tuesday) the pain goes away. It’s finite. I promise.


This one ran before. Late night!

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.
  • It’s so so hard to reach Meh. I’m not there and it’s been seven years. The constant contact makes it impossible (so far) for that wound to scab over. Shared custody of three kids with a wealthy narcissist who split for his intern because he was “too good to be with a 40 year old woman”? Good times. He has to pay for everything…which is, of course, good in many ways, but in other ways is just another tool of control he can use to maintain contact and maintain terror –threatening to withhold the kids’ sport fees/tuition/child support if I don’t do what he wants and I’m not well behaved. Not the pain Olympics, I know, but I wish I were in a position to walk away and never see him again.

    • I always wish that my Narc was wealthy, but guess there is never a real winning situation! My fuckwit just left me $100 on the dresser, I guess because he ran the gas out of our truck. OP I am 20 years in with 3 kids & it’s no fun. Try to focus on the fact that you got away & are thriving. It’s no fun the way the human mind works, but you sound as though you’ve done an amazing job navigating this thing so far.

    • MaisyL, I was also dealing with a wealthy narcissist. IMHO, complete Meh isn’t possible while you’re still dealing with child issues. I ended up having to take him back to court because he decided to stop paying. The judge was REALLY angry at him. Judges hate people who could write a check today, but can’t be bothered. My kids are all adults now and they don’t see him any more. I haven’t heard anything from him for a few years. It’s glorious.

    • That’s it- hurt the children to get at you. Is there a way you can NOT have to talk with him so he can understand you don’t HAVE to do anything he asks

    • Fuck him, Maisy. The court makes him support his kids, not you. So he really should be threatening the judge, not you. You just do whatever is best for you and the kids and if he violates a court order, take him back to court. He’ll likely have to reimburse you for that, too.
      He’s a terrorist and he does not get to force you to live in fear. Peehaps you should have your lawyer impress that fact upon him. This fucker makes me so angry!

  • Also not quite at meh after four years since the final Dday. I think that there’s a bit of anniversary grief since that event happened in early August 2019.

    Sometimes I imagine my hill-size pile of pain compared to his – what – bowling ball size? And his is probably just comprised of inconvenience or image management dilemmas.

    I take comfort that the only thing worse would be to still be trickle-truthed and gaslighted.

  • I’m at meh. In total it took about 5 years…. because FW would fuck with me over our son. But once that power was taken away from him (by me spending a fortune on lawyers), I could breathe. In truth it also helped me see him being cruel to our son…. He’s vindictive…. cruel…angry. I was just relieved to be free of that turd. And I knew in my heart that anyone who is that shitty to their own child is living a fucked up life. Being a FW asshat is his karma. And AP’s karma too. Let her have him forever for all I care.

    I recommend you remind yourself how awful they are. FWs suck as humans. And get therapy for yourself to work on the other things. And focus on you and your children. And then one day… poof… meh

    • “He’s vindictive…. cruel…angry. I was just relieved to be free of that turd. And I knew in my heart that anyone who is that shitty to their own child is living a fucked up life. Being a FW asshat is his karma. And AP’s karma too. Let her have him forever for all I care.”

      YES!!!!! These FWs are all the same. Parsing out what I wanted from Asshat with the reality of of who he is has been helpful to my healing. Can’t get blood from a turnip, pigs can’t fly, a snowball can’t freeze in hell, or find a needle in a haystack. Nope, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t able to change Asshat into a kind caring non-manipulative human being.

  • “Why does she get to live the fantasy?” Let her have it!!

    With a fuckwit like that, the things that we think are most important in life — safety, security, honesty, transparency, sincere bonding, mutual respect — are indeed nothing but a fantasy.

    Personally, I’ve learned that reality — knowing everything so that I can make the best choices for myself and my girls — is far more important.

  • Radical acceptance says that it’s not the pain that hurts us, but our attachment to it (or something like that). It’s letting go of it to the best of our ability because there’s truly not much we can do about it other than our own response. And closure is overrated. You may never get that.

    Al-Anon talks about the three C’s: I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it. I can’t cure it.

    I would say that I hit meh once I closed the legal file with my attorney. He flagged issues that he said might bite me and gave me email scripts to potentially deal with them myself. One did indeed flare, and I handled it.

    Other than that, the best thing is to build your best life and push the naysayers to the outskirts.

    • This is truth here. I think any shred of love or grief over lost relationship causes lingering pain. I generally found my marriage to 1.0 to be painful but partly because I was hopeful and loving. His betrayal and reactionary cruelty towards me was so painful, I can scarcely describe it.

      I sit here trying to remember the pain and it is lost to me just like the intensity of labor pains were eventually purged from my mind (maybe since the memory of pain was not helpful in any way).

      The thing that changed is that every last shred of love is gone. I am almost over the “unjustice” of it all too.

      My brain also no longer wanders to thoughts of Cheater as a default… no I think that I’m annoyed my sunflowers look bleak and I’m looking forward to decorating my guest room.

      • I agree with your comment about love. I cried after the first few appointments with my attorney because it was so overwhelming and intense, and then I was fine. Late in the divorce process, an anniversary went by, and I realized that I didn’t love him anymore and didn’t miss him.

        Sure, I can get a little triggered by this and that, but it’s fleeting. So different because when he first left, a significant trigger would set me off for an entire day and maybe affect my sleep. No more.

  • I linked this article to a friend of mine – her best friend died by suicide many years ago, and then she (and many of our other mutual acquaintances) found out later that he had been a serial predator before his death. She’ll fully admit that it fucked her up for a long time, but we were chatting yesterday, and she said she had a realization that at least as of right now – his memory has no more power over her.

    It’s not a perfect comparison, but it’s proof that “Meh” can come in many circumstances and that it’s worth hanging on for.

  • It’s Still Just so Unfair,

    I will focus on one sentence from your letter – “I can’t believe a catch like me ever gave the time of day to a loser like him, let alone years of my life.” This process takes time, but I’d point out a couple of real positives in this sentence; you recognise that you are a catch (believe me when I say that it took me a very long time to even hope that this was true in my case, let alone believe it) and, secondly, you recognise that you won’t get back the time that you committed to him (I worked that out pretty quickly).

    So, from where you are at now I’d suggest that: firstly that you leverage the fact that you know that you are the catch and; secondly, that you recognise that – in addition to not getting back the time that you committed to him in the past – you won’t get back any time that you commit to him (and even thinking about him counts) in the future. Focus your time on building a better future without him and doing all of the things that you couldn’t do with him in your orbit. You’ll find that you think about him and the unfairness of the situation that he created much less that way; and don’t forget that the best form of revenge is a life well lived; go out and make your life just that.

    Seriously, you are doing better than you think you are.


    • That’s a really good point I needed to hear, the one about being unable to get back the time wasted on even thinking about it…it really is a fool’s errand. I am 17 mos from d-day, 11 months from divorce, and this summer FW got engaged to Schmoops (on my birthday) and put the house I’d lived in for 20 years up for sale. That was hard. I backslid, but after a salty text exchange, I couldn’t figure out why my opinion should matter to him or why his opinion should matter to me. Tomorrow he comes to pick up college kid, so I do have to see him briefly and help fill a UHaul, but then I can be largely no contact again. I am looking forward to some more peaceful days.

  • The thing about Meh is it’s very… meh. There’s no magical moment, no pill that takes all your pain away. It’s a gradual change that happens in the background of your life. On some average day (a Tuesday) you realize that you haven’t given space to that person or the trauma they caused in awhile. And the “awhiles” will keep getting longer and longer. The sunk costs of that relationship are so far under they don’t even register anymore. It doesn’t happen overnight but when it does, you’ll be so Meh you’ll barely notice.

    • Well said, Beth! I also believe it is vital not to compare your timeline to meh with how long it takes others to get there.
      When I first found this blog and read the heartfelt stories so similar to my own, I got caught up with the worry of, “am I still going to be dealing with the pain/trauma 2 or 5 or 7 years from now?” It was scary to think about, especially in the early days when you are just trying to put one foot in front of the other.
      That’s when reading the “mighty” stories is important. Seeing others not only survive, but thrive helped me realize I could too.

    • This! It happened without knowing it happened. On an actual Tuesday I realized it was pretty much just ‘meh.’ It comes in insubstantial pieces until then, but it definitely comes.

    • Your words give me hope. I handed MrWonderful the separation paperwork over 2 weeks ago and he is still in the house with me. He didn’t run off as I had hoped. I feel caged and the hatred of feeling this way absorbs my brain all day. At this moment, I can’t imagine going for entire days without dealing with him. I’m hopeful that once he is out and the divorce is over and eventually our child turns 18 that I will finally process it all and just live a normal, happy life that isn’t FW focused. I certainly never wish away a day, week or year of my life, but very much look forward to time giving me some distance from this. I feel like it must be similar to someone who has been in prison for a long time. Once you are free, it’s difficult to get used to and put the past behind you, but one day it happens.

  • So incredibly helpful. Desperate for my own Meh. I will get there because I’m me and he’s a pile of shit.

  • “He doesn’t love like you love. He doesn’t live in this world as you live in it.” This was one of the hardest things to to come to terms with and, ultimately, the most helpful.

  • As of Sunday it was exactly 14 years since I kicked out the cheater. I’m at meh. I haven’t had a nightmare for a couple of years now, but I would not be terribly surprised if I had another one someday. That’s what happens when you spend 25 years with and have 5 kids with a jerk. Meh takes time. And the last few years have been so traumatic worldwide that it’s been hard to heal. For me, the previous president interfered with my recovery because he sounded so much like the FW.

    Hang in there, fellow Chumps. Life is so much better here in Meh-ville than it was when I was walking on eggshells and waiting for the next shoe to drop. The Fuckwits are not who they pretend to be, and the next victim is not living the dream. They are in the middle of the nightmare that we have, thankfully, left behind.

  • The long laundry list of “why” questions is relatable for me right now; the answers very helpful. I’m still at the crying-all-the-time stage, recently with nightmares too (I’m healing!). CL’s comments about justice vs acceptance resonate. I look forward to meh.

    • I cried all the time for the better part of 2 years or so. My daughter even mentioned that she could count on me always having tissues handy. The day I learned he was a serial cheater, I didn’t cry a single tear. I now cry because my kids lost their dad but I dont cry for the dead marriage.

    • “The long laundry list of “why” questions is relatable for me right now”

      I was also stuck in that for a good while. I kept looking for logic “well if this was true then why did he do that?” it took me a LONG time (like 8 years) from Dday to the day I finally realized that he did it because he sucked THAT MUCH. The Trust That They Suck (here on this site) was the answer. I resisted it beyond all human comprehension but 8 years of internal struggle finally gave way to me accepting that ugly fact.

  • I’m nearly 9 years out and meh comes and goes for me. The most important pieces of advice I ever got was that grief is not linear. It’s going to have ups and downs for years to come. One week, you’ll rarely think of him. The next he consumes your thoughts. Don’t fight that and let the grief and anger come so you can experience them and eventually move on. For the anger, I highly recommend kickboxing (picturing his face) and journaling. As you said, sometimes just speaking it and writing is cathartic. I’m at a point now (even with a kid), where I no longer want to think of him and redirected my therapist the other night away from discussing his latest coparenting move. I’m more important than he is!

    • This is exactly what it’s like for me now! (4 years in this month). I call them my phases, and they simply kind of alternate. A few weeks of what I would call meh, followed by a few weeks of But Why and falling back into old loops. It frustrates me, but I have realised that the good phase will come back too.

  • As always – spot on CL – so much to digest in this one. Acceptance not justice is a key to healing. I love the reruns because when you keep coming back here (like I do – I was chumped in 2014, found CL shortly thereafter)… I keep finding new wisdom.

    This really hit me today: The nightmares often come much later in the chump experience. When you’re safe and can start processing. I still have the occasional nightmare. Just realize it for what it is — healing.

    About a year ago, I started having dreams that included Mr. Sparkles. It was so frustrating because I believe I’m firmly planted in Meh… but my subconscious? Really? WTF! Seeing that this is actually still my brain processing the broken trauma bond is a major AHA moment. The dreams passed (they always do). Haven’t had anymore and I feel more and more Meh every day in that I don’t even have to actively tell my brain to stop thinking about the injustice (even though I’m still co-parenting, I’m no contact 99.9%). Life does really move on – it just takes time… and it takes as long as it takes.

  • Meh came somewhere around 3 years. That’s after 40 years of marriage, and about another 6 together. It’s still scary being on my own and knowing there’s no backup for me. Sometimes I think about all the money he stole from me and the grandson I’m now raising alone, but I don’t put much energy into those thoughts or him.

    I know from grandson that he used to drive past the house, stalking us. I almost hope he still does because over the past two years, I had all the unsightly dying juniper bushes torn out, and grandson and I replaced them with all sorts of naturalizing flowering plants we got from neighbors thinning out their own gardens. I’m so thrilled every time we go in and out to see how this awful ugly space has bloomed. It’s a colorful, visible sign that we are growing and blossoming.

    • What’s with these creeps and stalking homes? My dad did the same thing to my mom AND he’d have the OW in the car with him when he’d do it! “..and this is the house I lived in for 20 years.. I put in that crooked fence myself and it has a great pool in the backyard”?!? Such odd behavior but I guess that goes without saying lol

  • ‘Because he doesn’t value good people, he uses them.’
    Ding Ding Ding! Exactly. Great post.

  • Yes Chump Lady you are winsome, loved the ‘changing hosts’ bit – sums up a few of my failed relationships right there. Personally for me ‘meh’ means I just don’t care about the FW any more, and the days I feel like that are great (!) and I hope I’ve learned my lesson now to not get too involved too quickly.

  • I’m having a bad day today! I’ve a knot of painful anxiety around my heart and stomach, and I’ve been tearful with pain, grief and loneliness on and off, because I’ve been so isolated here and have no real friends and my only family is my son.
    The day started with a sort of nightmare funnily enough, one that woke me with a massive cortisol surge that had my heart nearly leaping out of my chest, the sweat pumping out of me as I was boiling hot, and it me took hours to cool down. Since then I’ve been cold to the bone ( the weather is miserable here in Ireland-Winter in August!) and am only just starting to thaw hours later.
    The nightmare is hazy now but Tommy Shelby from Peaky Blinders and his 2nd wife being in it are all I can remember! I wonder what that means? He did cheat on her with the odious Nancy Mitford though!
    I too do not want FW back; the very idea of it frightens the life out of me, yet I sometimes get a sort of longing for how it used to be, even though I have realised it was never quite right the whole way through. It’s a sort of emotional dissonance and I suspect it’s because I’m so isolated and lonely!
    I do have hours and even days when I seem to be at Meh, but I can’t wait until I get there permanently! Perhaps it’s too soon after only 3 and a half months? It’ll take time, I suppose!
    I do sympathise with the OP, it’s horrible!

    • Shadow- You’re in early days and still rebuilding your life and routine. I do remember the “chilling” grief/anxiety. I would spend more money to turn the heat on. And I drank lots of decaf tea. See Tara Brach RAIN youtube for self calming.

      • Tara Brach is great! Even if I’m wound up so tightly I can’t breathe, 30 min in listening to her I’m in a peaceful sleep. I wonder if she’s been trained in hypnosis!

      • I will, thanks IcanseeTuesday.
        I’m feeling a lot better today anyway; I suppose it comes and goes in waves.

  • I remember studying a philosopher’s ideas about ideals and reality in school. (Many years ago, and I’m bad with names, my apologies.) Anyway, he thought there was an ideal world, and a physical world. The ideal world was in our head, and we could strive to fulfill our beliefs and values in that world. But the physical world we live in is flawed, and it is much harder to see Truth, Justice, Equality, and Fairness actually play out in the physical world. I remember wishing I had time for philosophical discussions while I was living in the physical world, but the point is some people do think about those ideals and try to live their lives in a way that upholds them. Other people just don’t care. Everything is about how things look, and how much money and power they have. They are not burdened with concepts like Fairness. They don’t feel the emotions idealists feel. If you have empathy, and feel love, and want to live a life you can be proud of, you do not understand how the “other” people can live with themselves. They are missing something you have, just accept that. They are variants. In addition, even though you have values and believe in ideals, you can also be a realist when evaluating your choices and living your life. Sometimes you have to work in an environment controlled by those “other” kind of folks, because you need money to live and care for yourself and your children. Idealists can also be scientists and look at the world as an experiment. What is Truth? It is found when the experiment plays out in real life, and the conclusion is consistent each time.

    These “other” folks cannot survive on their own merits and abilities. They are parasites. They need to find people with values and ideals to be their “hosts”. They continue to exist because they are very good at manufacturing a false image of themselves. Often their entire “family and friend” base is filled with other folks just like them. Accepting that they are not who you believed them to be, and that they are incapable of changing who they really are is the first step in accepting life in the physical world. I do not know why I have ideals and values and strive to live a life I am proud of, but I do. I am empathetic. I want life to be Fair. But I accept that often, especially in the short run, it is not. I have to believe the experiment is ongoing, and when it concludes my idealistic premise will be true. I also have to accept that some components will change over the course of time, and the real world does not operate on my idealistic timetable.

    Chumps are idealists. They strive to succeed in the real world while maintaining their ideals. It is a struggle, but I believe it is worth it. I just can’t tell you how long it will take for you to feel it was worth it for you.

  • I found my “Meh” recently! Digging deep is where it came from! When Chump Nation talks about “Being Mighty”, I know exactly the feeling that term defines.
    My FW managed to destroy a 33 year marriage, right after we were both retired. His accusations, manipulation and cruel references were off the charts. I left with a clothes basket in the middle of the night.

    My Meh came after I thought about my married daughters, my Grandchildren! That I am not going to sit around like a sad sack. That I am mighty, that I am the girl who joined the military in the late 70’s, I am the girl who went back to college and finished with 3 young children. I am the girl now who is going to set an example, an example that when life throws you a curve ball, you pick yourself up and forge on! Setting an example for others is all part of the Meh!

    Dig deep CN we are All Mighty! FWs are not worth your energy, or the sweat off your ass!

  • I could’ve written this. Fuckface was just like that – he was so good that it took me a while to even see the red flags there were all along. They are seriously disordered – sociopaths. To be able to live a double life is unreal…it’s not normal and scary AF.

    I also understand the injustice of it all. I look forward to the day I hear he’s either dead or in jail…I won’t have to worry anymore about him coming after me. But in the meantime, I’m living my life and still healing. Keep your eyes forward and focused on healing. I repeat CL’s phrase to myself often from LACGAF, “Does it make my head want to explode when I think about it? Yes! So I don’t think about it!” Hope you’re closer to meh now, OP!

  • Dear Still so Unfair,
    Chump Lady nailed every single question, and she’s telling you the truth.

    I love the fact that you have looked at the situation with a sort of philosophical logic: if you had left on that first Dday you might never have known the full truth. Yep, same here. And that’s okay, because maybe our stupid persistence and belief paid off in another way… We didn’t get all the answers, but we got enough.

    And “MEH”? It happens when it happens. Truthfully, you are heading for it/through it even today and you just don’t realize it. My first taste of spontaneous joy was a full year after DDay, but my MEH increased until, (ready for this?) an actual TUESDAY. In court, dealing with FW. I remember looking across at him and just feeling bored. Yeah, yeah, FW, whatever, let’s just get today’s fiasco finished because I have better things to do. I remember laughing out loud very softly because I hadn’t realized I was ‘meh’ until then.

    Yes, sometimes a painful memory stabs me for a moment, yes sometimes I allow myself the anger at him for putting me and our boys through hell. But I couldn’t possibly care less about the man or what he’s up to or whether he will end up living the fantasy. Believe me, he won’t — no FWs do, because their characters are painfully flawed and they stay busy for a long time trying to chase more fantasy rather than fixing themselves. Don’t be fooled by any momentary ease your FW is enjoying, because it will all end.

    Get out there and make building your own new, shiny life your priority! This is your do-over. This is your chance to create reality, unhindered by a liar and a cheat. MEH will perch on your shoulder soon enough and you will laugh. I promise.

  • Had to check that I didn’t write this

    I’m 4.5 years out and like OP I’ve worked hard gaining a life . I’ve done therapy , travel, new projects ,attending the opening of an envelope if I’m invited but still not Meh .

    It’s simply of the injustice of it that holds me back ( although I try my best not to think or dwell on it)

    He simply traded in one wife and simply got another younger prettier one .
    Never ever wanted children but he simply changed his mind and has 2 little girls with her ( she was pregnant before he left)

    His and her family think it’s all so wonderful . They were all at their engagement party 10 weeks after he left me . We weren’t even legally separated let alone divorced yet here they are posting on Facebook ( do not pain shop new chumps )

    They got a bigger house , newer car , both kept their jobs ( she was of course his howorker ) no one batted an eye lid and they still don’t

    I’ve tried dating it’s not for me or I’m not for them more likely but my ex’s life has not missed a beat . He’s not been alone or scared or sick with grief for 1 second .
    I had to pay him off so he got money for ruining my life so yeah it’s the unjustness for me .

    One day though I’ll get to Meh I’m 100% determined to

    • Yeah, it’s the injustice that pisses me off too. Ex-H (my second FW; I’m a slow learner) waltzed off with a new condo and most of his savings intact – because he hadn’t been paying the mortgage and we were underwater when the divorce came. Meanwhile I ended up temporarily homeless, due to that and some other unrelated events; and lost my entire retirement savings after my associate stole my business from me (she’s another candidate for karma but that’s a whole different story). FW2 is now engaged for the third time and is happily gloating over his travels and his stock portfolio, while I’m mainly living on Social Security and trying to stretch what little savings I have left.

      The good news is that although I had sworn off relationships, I met my now-husband in 2014 and got married a couple of years later (at the ripe old age of 62!) and have a mostly blissful marriage. I try to concentrate on that – we’re poor but happy and FW2 will be nothing but a can of rotten sardines for the rest of his life. [No idea what’s become of FW1 but he’s a corporate lawyer and I’m sure he’s an even bigger bastard now than he was back in the day.]

  • When it’s known that some form of callous abuse occurred in a relationship, the dead giveaway that a survivor of abuse is still “captor bonded” is if they think for a minute that their abuser can go on to lead some kind of normal, happy existence. The inability to see that this is fundamentally impossible is proof positive the abuse was serious enough to trigger Stockholm syndrome and the skewed perceptions that come with it. I’ve argued before that I don’t believe what chumps feel for FWs is genuine love any more than it’s possible to love a batterer. I think that, once the abuse and betrayal begin, former feelings of love segues– under a veil of deep shock and then the numbness that follows shock– almost seamlessly into captor bonding. I’ll repeat what I learned about it while working as an advocate. It’s all pretty dry, theoretical stuff but I focus on the parts that only seems more true the longer I’ve sat with the concepts or heard others talk about their experiences.

    In order to work as a survival mechanism whereby the victim can “inspire” some little shred of mercy in the abuser by displaying seamless loyalty and investing on a cellular level in the ruse of “love” for the abuser, captor bonding/Stockholm syndrome requires sublimating feelings of terror and hatred. The problem with Stockholm syndrome— which is why captured intelligence operatives are automatically deprogrammed on release from captivity– is that, until the terror resurfaces and the specific threatening behaviors or words that triggered it are recalled and identified for what they were (coercive and threatening), some part of the fake bond will probably remain.

    Captor bonding is sometimes unfairly called “self gaslighting” but I think this doesn’t account for how menacing an abuser needs to be to trigger it nor how hardwired the reaction to threat is in our species. For instance, beta chimps in the wild are so bonded to their violent alpha leaders that, until the moment when the alpha shows a sign of weakness and the beta attacks to steal the crown, the beta would have no idea that they felt anything other than loyalty and worship towards the previous alpha (side note: apply that kind of “love” to FWs and abusers and the fact that many seem to flip and switch and go from expressing love to the chump to contempt in the blink of an eye. Then consider the idea that abusers and FWs are so damaged that they’ve literally devolved to an ape-like state and this is the only form of love– the fake variety– that they’re even capable of). Because alpha chimps, like human abusers, are described as being nearly telepathic in detecting the vaguest hints of rebellion in their underlings, it could literally be fatal for underlings to display anything other than adoration and seamless loyalty. But had what the beta felt been genuine “love,” it wouldn’t have flown out the window in an instant to be replaced by murderous violence. It was a love replica. More evidence of the tendency is that, sitting nearby and watching this violent coup will be a group of female chimps who, typically, might have been previously kidnapped from other troops and, in the process, some might have seen their offspring killed in front of them by the same alpha they went on to willingly groom and mate with without displaying a wisp of resentment. Even if these kinds of violent regime changes can stir up a lot of hysteria among chimps, the formerly groveling harem won’t protest the attack against the alpha and will simply shift loyalty to the new alpha.

    This is even more pronounced among gorillas where females will– again and again– simply accept a new male who just killed their former dominant male and killed all their infants. It suggests that our ape ancestors also had a trick of memory wired into them that would allow such a radical sublimation of traumatic events in species otherwise known for having keen memories (check out Robin Williams’ encounters with a gorilla). What’s also interesting about chimps is that this is the same species that will carry around a dead infant in grief for weeks, so the species is apparently capable of genuine love but also, equally, investing in a survival ruse. Though humans have evolved away from some of the behaviors of our common ancestors with chimpanzees (for one, chimps are generally indiscriminate about who they have sex with and humans evolved to be largely monogamous or at least to hypocritically demand monogamy from partners), there are certain primitive responses that remain and emerge under severe duress.

    This is all by way of saying that captor bonding– probably because it evolved over millions of years, was intrinsic to ape social structures and served distinct purposes– can be really difficult to eradicate. Doing so would immediately invoke nameless fear of retaliation by the abuser/captor so the tendency is to keep “groveling for amnesty” by keeping the illusion of love and loyalty in place. It feels safer to do so but this maintains the hallucinatory state of skewed perceptions. Immediately following escape, the survivor may see something squirming under the surface of their emotions like a litter of unknown creatures but can’t identify the nature of these things so the default interpretation– which was adopted as a survival ruse– is to call it love, “passion” or “missing” the abuser. In other words, what they see squirming under the blanket is cute puppies! But, if it’s just puppies, what explains the scars, drying blood and their completely shattered state? Don’t know! What scars, what blood?? The shattered state is “pining for puppies”!! Only by lifting the blanket of captor bonding are they going to see that the things squirming beneath are a bunch of oozing fanged demons– the specific memories of abuse and the extreme fear these things caused.

    Why someone felt so afraid of their abuser’s behavior can totally depend on the vulnerabilities of the survivor. Since even the most violent abusers operate on a “beat by need” basis and only take the legal risk and exertion of using violence when psychological methods of coercion and control fail, it might be enough for an abuser to simply hint at their capacity for destruction on top of the fact that, as the closest person to the survivor, the abuser knows the survivor’s fears and can play on them. Frankly I think that it’s fundamentally terrifying just to find oneself in close proximity to someone with impaired or selective empathy because human beings without the capacity for love are, in evolutionary terms, really horrible monkeys capable of God knows what. That ambiguous, hardwired sense of risk alone might be enough to scare the living tar out of someone. For example, I once met alleged wife killer Robert Blake and was creeped out for weeks. Had I not known about the allegations, I might have just assumed I was having generalized anxiety.

    In any case, it makes sense that it’s difficult to “de-sublimate” feelings like terror and the memories of traumatic events that triggered them because those feelings and memories are awful and can put life-threatening stress on the body, which is why we go into shock and denial to begin with. But, at least according to certain trauma therapists who specialize in cult deprogramming and treating DV survivors, those feelings need to be reinvoked in order to shift out of the captor bonded state. Not surprisingly, the fake bonded state also comes with a general brown-out of suppressed and numbed emotions– including joy, hope and genuine love– so the process off breaking the bond is tied directly to healing from PTSD and being able to come back to life. Personally I think that it isn’t only joy, hope and love that are suppressed by the brown-out that comes with captor bonding but also intuitions about other dangers in life which, if they’re sublimated, can leave a survivor in general danger from sources even aside from the abuser.

    In short, the emotional suppression involved in captor bonding isn’t selective which is another motive to throw off the chains of it. And since captor bonding is triggered by abuse, the first step after getting safely away from the source of threat is to identify the threatening behaviors that unleashed the reaction as “abuse” and the abuser as an abuser, full stop. The OP mentioned flashbacks to the FW’s rages. I suspect that’s the thread to start pulling on to see what feelings it brings up, to see if the state of terror and panic the survivor naturally felt in those moments can be drawn out of hiding. I’m betting those feelings and memories don’t end up being cute puppies.

    • Hell of an analysis, there! All I’d add at the end is to not do that threadpulling when alone. It’s therapist territory, but at the very least, do it with the support of a friend who can help you find air when you need it.

  • this may sound weird, but i recently got a NO button. it’s a gag gadget that has several recordings of the word NO on it. anyway, i hit the NO button every time i think of my X and, you know, it works. as soon as i start ruminating/fuming, i just run over to the NO button and bang it.

    it works.


    • I like that and it’s not weird at all. I have a small toy punching bag that, when you hit it, has a repertoire of insults and curses it cycles through. When I’ve been frustrated by thoughts of FW it has made me laugh to hit it. Laughter has been my go-to for coping.

  • “Meh just creeps up on you over time, as the new life eclipses the old life.” Truth!

  • While I’m not at meh (FW still encroaches in my brain too often, largely due to co-parenting), I am well on the way. It has been 10 months since DDay and I realized last week that I don’t miss him. I thought I would miss him desperately but truthfully, he’s been emotionally absent for years. He rarely spent time with me or our daughter and he certainly rarely engaged with us, even when in the house together.

    I still cry sometimes (usually at church when the couples celebrating 50 or 65 years of marriage are prayed over for their tenacity and commitment), but it’s grief for what I thought I had and the loss of that sort of innocence. I’m truly not sorry to be free of someone who devalued me so much. It’s amazing not to feel like I’m always walking on eggshells or waiting for him to snap about something ridiculous.

    I’m recognizing what a hardworking badass I’ve been all along and what a lazy POS he was for almost a decade of our 21 years together. I saw him for the first time in two months last Thursday and all I felt was a vague annoyance. He was dropping off our daughter and had picked up snacks for her at Costco and wanted to come in to deposit them in the kitchen (technically, our condo hasn’t been awarded to me yet so he’s still on the deed, though he finally moved out in June). I looked at him and didn’t feel any attraction or sadness or anything like that. So liberating!

  • OMG…..all the same questions I have been asking myself…….I have been suffering for over 6 months and have tried to end my life…finally someone recommended the book leave a cheater and gain a life and suddenly….it was as if someone was writing my story, as if they were watching my life with my cheater. It hit me then………I am a chump.

  • I once had a bad recurring nightmare that I resolved by thinking up a new ending by light of day, and telling myself to “Change the channel” when the dream got to the scary part. It worked! I roused myself as the scary part was about to start, and was whispering, “Change the channel!” over and over as I woke myself up. So I was half awake and half not when the “new reel” played itself out. Never had that nightmare again, but did have occasion to use the technique twice more. Hope this helps someone.

  • Why does she get to live the fantasy?

    The grass is greener fantasy leads to scorched earth. At one time the Limited was seeking out single women who owned their own homes. Well, that was a belly flop. After years of deliciously duping the Limited stated it was always about the thrill of the chase. So he was a cowardly thrill seeker. The PRIZE he won reportedly made no money unless you count suing some poor victim of her evil doing.

    So much for that win. Fantasy boy once again emerges telling his woeful story of how he once again landed in yet another basement. It was all my fault don’t ya know.

    And I LAUGH. MEH.

  • I’ll answer these questions because I know that even if OP has since attained meh, there are chumps out there who feel the same things.

    “Why did I have to spend so much time in counseling, reading books, working out, piecing my life back together, moving apartments, relieving myself of the fault I shouldered for the demise of our relationship, crying in the bathroom at work, dealing with debilitating stress migraines, having flashbacks to his rages, trying to grow as a person, when he got off scot-free?”

    Because to love involves risk. He doesn’t love so he doesn’t hurt, but that does not mean he gets off scott free. In fact, his inability to love is his tragedy. It’s a fundamental human experience which he will never have. The emptiness of that will be with him forever. You will recover. He will be a shadow of a person as long as he lives.

    “Why does he get to pretend I, and the life we built together, never existed?”

    That is not a feature that is desirable. It isn’t human.

    “Why does one of the OW he trashed-talked the entire time we were together get to live without the pain I experienced?”

    She very likely already experienced pain at an early age, which is why she shut down her humanity, so she no longer had to feel anything authentic. IOW, she’s just like him.

    “Why does she get to live the fantasy?”

    Again, living on your own personal Fantasy Island is not a desirable thing. It involves massive denial and self delusion, which you are not capable of and would not want. Nonetheless, it will come crashing down on her.

    “Why do his friends, who were also my friends, not see him for the fraud he is?”

    They suck.

    “Why isn’t his mother, who loved me, pissed at him?”

    She sucks.

    “Why does he not realize how good he had it and how much he lost?

    He doesn’t care about the things that matter to normal, healthy people. Naturally he doesn’t feel the loss of things he doesn’t care about. Trust me, it’s infinitely worse to be like him than it is to be able to feel deeply and to have values.

    “Why isn’t he groveling?”

    See above.

    “Why am I writing to you now, a stranger on the internet, over a year later?”

    Meh takes however long it takes. Give it time.

  • We collect painful memories along with the happy ones. A good life goal is to keep creating & collecting happy ones in our baskets so they crowd out the bad ones. ❤️

  • You eloquently put into words how I have felt for years. I think I’m in meh but occasionally it pops up in my mind, “why would he throw away a beautiful life with three loving, healthy, joyful kids, a thriving business we built together, a loving family who thought the world of him and house we just built?”. I can’t understand for the life of me how he could blow it all up. It was all for what? for one mediocre assistant he didn’t even trust to arrange his travel plans, then mother of son’s friend, then 19 year old college student…. why did I not realize sooner who I had married? How could anyone really be this terrible and I didn’t see it? If I didn’t see it, how can others be expected to see it. I’m so grateful for the children and freedom I have that I would go through all this pain again just to have them in my life. I wish they had a better father but it is what it is but we are happy just in our only little family without him. In accepting it all and move to meh, I really appreciate the quote by Mary Oliver “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.” I’m not trying to justify the actions, just trying to make the best of a painful experience.

  • It has been 5 weeks since my divorce was final from my abusingXH. A Switzerland friend sent me my AXH wedding announcement for Sept 7th and TOLD ME SHE WAS GOING! I had shared my heart with this” friend” and she even helped me move out. I was shocked and texted her my hurt. She texted back she might change her mind but my AXH was her neighbor after all!! Then HE showed up with his fiance at my church again which had been free of his black cloud for 10 months. Yes he was Giving out wedding announcements. I was getting to peace and so happy to be divorced and free, that this slowed my progress. BUT WAIT, I am.still .free, I do not have to stay for the show. I can find another church, I can back away from all those Switzerland friends who like to sit on a fence and play us both. I do not have to be married to a mirage and abuser anymore, and he can have his 20 years younger wife holding on to his pant leg. I bled all I can bleed and though it seemed like a wasted hemorrhage, I am a kinder better person for having loved with my whole heart. I am not a mirage, I can care, I can feel, I can give. I get to be human instead of a driven compulsive abuser of woman. He was hunting and has found another vending machine that used to be me. Trying to hold on to this creep was like fishing and you keep pulling up a boot instead of a yummy fish. No matter how many times, I want to keep throwing that nasty boot back and keep looking for good people to include in my life’s journey. Did I waste years? Maybe, but I grew and I know who I am and when meh comes, I’ll be back to my beautiful unmolested self again. I’m 70, it’s NEVER EVER TOO LATE.

    • His parading around the church YOU attend regularly to personally hand out wedding announcements is so weird and inappropriate it just screams IMAGE MANAGEMENT, (a class he failed). Hold your head high.

      I was married 35 years to the DOCTOR and I needed this post today b/c I’m not quite at MEH, so I know how it feels to have a LONG ass marriage end and then to wonder about the signs of FW behavior that you missed.

      But I can say I rarely miss him anymore, which is huge. There are other men who I can laugh and talk with.

      It’s far more the injustice of it, and his IMMEDIATE remarriage and his FB posts about how happy he was with #2 wife, “the love of his life.” He flaunted it to the point that our children never saw him in the same way after.
      It’s shitty, and so was your FW’s behavior IN the church you attend. What an ass.

      Nonetheless, I hope you sense the eye roll I had when I read that. And maybe it’ll help move you a bit closer to MEH.
      I’m 63 and I don’t feel old. Hmmm, interesting. We are getting there.

  • I feel like I’m pretty close. Lately, I haven’t even cared to look up his public court records or even ask our son how the criminal case is going. I just don’t care. I think I got lucky that he was arrested because it was very validating for me to be like look at that, it wasn’t me. He actually is a piece of shit. Ooh, or maybe all the police and the feds are also just bitter ugly women past their prime too! Maybe it’s a grand conspiracy of old hags! LMAO

    I also think it really helped that I insisted on the reality that our marriage was not real and he was always a bad person. Some people around me would say, “Well, you guys did have some good times…” and I was kind of a bitch about being like, “No. That was fake. Those weren’t good times, he was pretending.” It really frustrated some people but it got to the point where I insisted on living fully in reality. He wasn’t replaced by aliens. He is a scumbag who wants to rape children. He always was. If my accepting that reality hurts other people’s feelings, that’s a them fucking problem. And I cut all of them and their them fucking problems out of my life. Because I do not associate with pedophiles, nor do I associate with anyone who associates with pedophiles or makes excuses for pedophiles.

    But like I said, I think I’m lucky that mine ended up being such a total piece of shit. It makes it easier to accept it was all fake and he’s just a monster. Because he’s a monster and even the cops and public know that now.

  • Although a repeat. I needed to read this.
    I am rebuilding at 56. SAHM for 20+yrs. In a 1 br rental with 2 kids out of 4 crammed in a tight space getting ready to head back to college.
    It’s not fair. The courts don’t care what you put on the table while connected to a FW. Not at meh because the injustice rage bubbles up. I try to use it as a propellant to.move my life forward.
    The best way forward is to prioritize your path of rebuilding a new life.
    The college aged kids don’t want to hang with FW and the AP for extended time. They are putting the dots together themselves on who and what FW is. That’s their journey and I am here for all 4 kids as they process their lives pre divorce as being a lie too.

  • 18 months is still really early. I didn’t even approach meh until 4-5 years out. I’m “meh” about FW, mostly because he’s dead and that makes things easier for me since I don’t have to think about him or worry what he might do to me/our son, but I still struggle when it comes to OW because she’s still alive, and I’ve just discovered she MOVED TO MY TOWN and her daughter will be attending my son’s school. I saw her at the parent orientation . I thought I’d never have to see her again, and there she was (I don’t know if she saw me, though she was looking in my direction at one point, and I managed not to get anywhere near her; I only recognized her because of her ugly green hair). So, there’s that. She seems to have gotten away scott free, and it bothers me a lot. She was a coworker/friend and she lied to me over and over, and aligned herself with FW to abuse me, she stalked me, threatened me/my employment, and then abandoned my son without a word. Can’t stand her and wish I could crow from the rooftops what a POS she is. Still figuring out how to handle this and my feelings about it. I’m so annoyed to know that I might run in to her if I visit town (I live in the countryside), like I’m not free to just live my life. Blech.

    It’s a process.

    • Every town has a gossip. Find them and share only the facts about what the c*nt did.

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