How Do I Forgive Myself for Staying with a Sex Addict?

staying with sex addict

How can she forgive herself for staying with a sex addict? Ignoring who he really was versus who she wanted to believe he was.

***

Dear Chump Lady,

I stayed in a marriage with a serial cheater/sex addict. I know I should have been out of there thirty seconds after the first discovery, but unfortunately I just emotionally shut down ten seconds after that first discovery. So, I stayed and ignored obvious incongruities and lies. I stayed and became immune (or total victim?) to manipulations and gaslighting because he was just such a great guy — he couldn’t possibly be what I imagined he was. I stayed and stayed and stayed — I was a long-time chump.

Until I left.

Now I am very slowly regaining the self that I lost. Trying to restore my life to one that honors the values that once meant so much to me — honesty, trust and respect. And I am getting so much closer to Meh about him and what he did.

So my question is — how will I ever forgive myself for staying, and spackling and trying to untangle the skein and all the other things I did as a chump? How do I own what I did to myself, stop beating myself up for it, and move on? Is there a proven process for that? Is there a way to attain Meh for me?

Thanks.

Looking for my own Meh

***

Dear Looking,

Great question. And it’s the right question. Instead of directing your focus at your staying with a sex addict cheater — how do I forgive him?

You’re asking, how do I forgive myself?

There’s so much pressure out there for chumps to forgive cheaters. That this forgiveness is ESSENTIAL. That we are failing our God if we don’t do it. It’s so often cast as this Selfless Thing We Do For Others. Forgiveness as taking the high ground. Who we are, the damage that was inflicted on us, is incidental. Oh, forgiving the cheater is good for us too! Whatever benefit to a chump conferred from forgiving a cheater is a byproduct. An afterthought. And we’re stuck in that same goddamn chump pattern we lived — What Is Important Here Is The Cheater. That they are forgiven.

If you forgive your cheater doesn’t interest me. I think forgiveness is simply acceptance. I don’t wish you dead. There, consider yourself forgiven. If chumps want to forgive in some higher altruistic sense and it helps them? More power to them. I would never presume to tell someone they MUST forgive their cheater. It’s a very personal thing.

The greater question, the one you posed, is:

How do we forgive ourselves for being chumps?

For valuing ourselves so little that we ate those shit sandwiches year after year? That we did not assert our worth. That we spackled and colluded in our abuse? How you get over THAT is the journey to Meh.

As a chump, this is a hard thing to write about, because I never want to come off blaming chumps for acts  of infidelity. We get enough of that shit. Chumps don’t make cheaters cheat. Those offenses are all on them. Whatever the crime there is in being a chump, it pales next to the crime of being a cheater. There is no moral equivalence here.

But we must ask ourselves the hard questions of why we tolerated the intolerable, especially after infidelity was discovered. It’s one thing not to know — so many of us were in the dark for a long time. But we put up with the neglect, the verbal abuse, the gaslighting. And often we did not assert ourselves as we should’ve.

We set a very low price on our value.

We chased. And pick me danced. Harder still, is coming to grips with why we stayed AFTER we knew about the cheating. We can dress it up a noble. That we stayed for our children, that we are loyal, we still loved this person who wasn’t behaving lovingly toward us and We Are the Better Person, that we were virtuous unicorns on the road to reconciliation.

We shy away from looking at the dark recesses of our soul. That we were afraid. Of judgement, losing our status, being wrong, losing our financial security, starting over.

Fear made us cling, and fear made us reach for the hopium pipe.

Until you really start to unpack those issues, I don’t think you can get to Meh. It’s not enough to have the absence of the cheater. You need to take a good, unvarnished look at yourself and go — Christ, I’m not living like that again. I know my worth. I don’t miss that. What the fuck was I THINKING? Wake up from the chump spell.

It begins when you discount your cheater’s perception of you.

Their judgments of your worth, and you start paying attention to your own true worth. I’m a loyal person. I’m kick ass at my career. I have a loving family. I raised three beautiful children. Whatever it is you love about yourself, you start nurturing that and you choke off supply to cheater thoughts. That you suck at sex, that you weren’t enough, that your thighs are fat, and your head is bald, that you’re lovable, but Not That Loveable. Whatever they said — doesn’t matter. Shift your alliances away from that person and back to yourself.

I made mistakes. Directing my gifts to someone who did not appreciate them. I tried to control the uncontrollable — if this person would betray me again, if I could extract an apology from them, if I could make them love me. Catalog your sins, look at them, and then forgive yourself. You did the best you could and you’re not perfect. Now you know better. Be different next time.

Being cheated on sucks. The pain is a motherfucker. But it’s one hell of a growth opportunity.

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jusduckie
jusduckie
10 years ago

Wow…this is SOOO me! You are writing about me! I am crying. Why, because I have turned that corner. Focusing on me and all that I have and all that am. I am good, loyal, hard working and a loving mother. I am 58 and love being a teacher. I am taking hot yoga…watercolor painting and even have a dog…in the house! I make my own rules now. It is my happiness that matters. Thanks Chumplady. You are the best.

Frannie
Frannie
10 years ago

Its uncanny, I just posted something about forgiveness on another forum, only it was about forgiving the cheater.
Why do we as chumps have to forgive ourselves for caring for theses losers? As spouses we do everything within our means to make the years as happy as possible for them. Even to the point of humiliating ourselves. I don’t have to forgive myself for caring for and loving another person, and I’m not forgiving myself for keeping my vows and not cheating.
Who care what he thinks of you. By them thinking of chumps as dirt, he must think of all females as dirt, because all chumps have this wonderful emotion, its called love and devotion.
I’m not perfect, I have made mistakes too and so has he and everyone else. I don’t have to forgive myself for standing beside my man when he had his first affair which ended in a sexual harassment charge at his work. I do not have to forgive myself for him wanting to get out of the marriage because he wants to be with his f–king french whore.
I stood by him, I loved him, I cared for him and his needs and all I wanted was to be loved in return. No, I don’t have to forgive being the person I am. They should be clamouring for our forgiveness for being the selfish cruel bastards that they are. What I will never forgive is him throwing a 28 yr. marriage away because he was too much of a coward to open up his eyes as to what he had and not fighting for it. A loving family who loved and respected him unconditionally. He will never get that again in his life. HIS LOSS!

Nord
Nord
10 years ago
Reply to  Frannie

Frannie, I have no need or desire to forgive my ex. He is an asshole, something he has proven over and over again since I kicked him out. If anything, he should be praying for my forgiveness but unless he walks on water and starts to live up to his obligations to me and the kids it ain’t gonna happen. And I don’t need to forgive myself. I might have been blind but I’m not stupid and once things came to light, despite it taking me a bit, I knew this was not something I wanted…even though I had a hard time letting go.

When I found out he was a serial cheater I freaked right the fuck the fuck and totally fell apart because I could not believe this was the man I was married to. But you know what i didn’t do? I didn’t let him off the hook. I was so furious and so hurt and so ridiculously angry that he had been leading a double life behind my back for years that I just could not let it go or pretend that it was ok. And I reamed him REAMED HIM verbally for a long time…until I realised that this just fed his sad, sick ego. And then I stopped and have never spoken to him about it since, no matter how hard he tries to bring it up. So now he brings it up with the kids, justifying his actions and choices and, yes, you know, it’s somehow all my fault or that we no longer had a connection/anything uncommon/I neglected him…whatever. What a tosspot.
You and me and anyone else..we don’t need to forgive ourselves for actually sticking it out with someone. Sure, we might have been blind or stupid but we sure as hell weren’t actively doing things that we KNEW would bring great pain for another.
I think this need to try and ‘forgive ourselves’ is just another way of staying stuck in it. Fuck that. You got screwed over, you believed when you shouldn’t have….whatever…learn from it and do not do it again. Be smart, be strong, learn from the past and have a better future.

heartbroken
heartbroken
10 years ago
Reply to  Nord

I’m all for anger in lieu of forgiveness. The whole concept of forgiveness sounds a bit too new Age-y and I prefer to stay a bitter cynic. Sorry, we got fucked over. Why should we be the ones to constantly try to take the high road? So far I haven’t seen a pay off in forgiving a cheater.

Deborah
Deborah
10 years ago
Reply to  heartbroken

Heartbroken,
Anger is definitely necessary and played a big part for me before I finally forgave myself for not knowing any better at the time. Am I more cynical now, absolutely. Bitter, no, I refused to allow this to make me bitter from the beginning.

Do I still love men? yes. I just came across one really bad one. I have found out from dating that there are many good men out there, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for me.

Will I take things much more slowly and thoughtfully going forward, YES!

Do I care anymore at all about what happens to the Cheater? HELL TO THE NO.

Why? For me it’s no Contact all the way, blocked him completely and never look at the new gf’s fb again. Done and finished. Should the inclination ever come over me to look just for curiousity I ask myself why? No need to stir up any emotions either negative or positive and no need to keep any connection whatsoever emotionally. The urge passes in a couple of seconds, then I feel better about myself and happy about not getting sucked in to the cycle of shit eating ever again.

As my therapist wisely advised to me, “Just look and think of him as he is, a sick man.”

End of Story.

Nord
Nord
10 years ago
Reply to  Deborah

Yep, don’t give in to the urge to look him or her up online. I don’t get those urges anymore but there was a time when I did but I refused to give in. Was extremely helpful. My ex is truly fucked up so no, I don’t need to see any more of his fuckery, in any form.

Deborah
Deborah
10 years ago
Reply to  Nord

Nord,
I now know I will never look up either one of them online. I have no interest anymore.

My big issue was the fact that my sicko actually confessed he was a Sex Addict fairly early on but of course after we were sexually intimate and I had bonded to some extent at that point and he was still pretty much, Mr. Wonderful.

Thus my really beating myself up afterward. I was majorly mindfucked and allowed it in my head because he told me but clearly I didn’t listen because he had me believe he had changed and wanted to stay changed and didn’t want to fuck this relationship up. HA! Silly me.

As CL has said before, when someone tells you who they are, listen!!! That lesson has been very well learned by me. You know what? I don’t regret it as it’s a lesson I will now never forget because I learned it the very hard way but I did learn.

This was a stepping stone that clearly I needed to resolve issues within myself in order for me to grow and gain the self confidence I needed to become the woman I want to be. I did the very hard work of looking at myself and changing what needed to be changed.

Lord, I now know that if I receive any mixed signals, words or actions from someone that they are FUCKED! I don’t need to stick around to see how fucked, why fucked etc.. That’s a good feeling and a good skill obtained for all dealings with people in my future and very valuable.

So yes, I can actually say I am grateful for this experience as I have come out the other side and thankfully, physically unharmed and mentally fairly well healed and loads smarter than before!

This site has played a very large part in my recovery combined with Therapy as well as wonderful friends.

Telo
Telo
10 years ago
Reply to  Deborah

Bang on, Deb. I too had never seen that sort of crazy before with hewhoshallremainunnamed (well, there was more than one, but…) and only understood it after researching NPD. I don’t wish to generalize, but think that many here were raised by parents to have their own boundaries crossed…parents who had their own reasons for doing it, whether disordered or not. So I’ll take it a step further and say that the cheater may have been anywhere from a similar facsimile to an exaggerated version of what we grew up with at home, and we need to recognize this and deal with developing modes of self-protection that are going to be new to us. You, Deb, are very far along in the process and no only have your armor on, but love yourself first without losing sight of being loving to others. Self forgiveness goes hand in hand with being more tender and gentler with your own mistakes and shortcomings. You are there! Brava!

Deborah
Deborah
10 years ago
Reply to  Nord

Hi Nord,
I have to reply to your comment here as I always love what you write and you are one of the chumps I identify with most.

Personally what helped me was forgiving me for not protecting myself properly.To hell with him, I could care less. But me, I was so hard on myself afterward for allowing myself to be chumped, Why? Because I am smart both intellectually and emotionally and I felt like a fool. He told me about 1 month into the relationship that he was a sex addict. he manipulated me into thinking he addressed the problem as he was on anti depressants and had done therapy. I told him what I needed from him should he slip or feel he was going to slip and that was that I needed to know. Of course, that was naive, I now know better because I am no longer naive. Of course he didn’t tell me as I had asked in the beginning but the minute I found out I left.

Leading up to my 1 DDay, I saw many weird unexplainable behaviors and heard weird things from his lips. Of course, they made no sense and I addressed them when they occurred and we addressed them and carried on. As time went by, the next unexplainable event just grew in size and weirdness until he could no longer cover up what was causing these weird behaviors and things he said. Then BOOM, D Day, it all suddenly became very very clear, he was a sex addict, serial cheater, sociopath, whatever label you want to put on it. All I know is that over the last 3 months prior to DDAy, it was like watching someone unravel like a spool of twine.

All I knew is that I was abused and traumatized, I knew that instantly and instinctually upon DDay without reading anything about the topic of Sex Addiction or Serial Cheating, etc. It was the shock I needed to wake me up to what had been going on for the year as it progressed and I knew I would not and could not tolerate any of it for one moment more.

It took a few months to sort through the trauma and get to all of the feelings which were too overwhelming to take in at once. Then it took a few more months to stop beating myself up for not protecting myself from this obvious asshole. Then I realized, I was fooled because I had never experienced anything like this before and couldn’t understand it and didn’t know what it was. So I realized that finally and did forgive myself for not knowing better and for ignoring the red flags not because I didn’t notice them, I certainly did and I also addressed them, I just didn’t understand them and didn’t realize at the time that I wouldn’t and couldn’t understand them and no need to even try.

So in my situation, my forgiving myself was about my own beating myself up over what happened and stopping that and realizing what happened and why and how it happened. I realized my own vulnerabilities and how to better protect them and take better care of myself. Should I ever meet anyone else like this again, I will leave immediately without one look back. I forgave myself once I took a step back and realized that I really didn’t do anything wrong as nothing like that had ever happened to me before. Now it has and I know any strange unexplainable behavior is simply a sign of big trouble and I need to run!

As CL said perfectly in her last line, this is what I gained from this whole experience

Being cheated on sucks. The pain is a motherfucker. But it’s one hell of a growth opportunity.

I have grown more in this last year than ever before in such a short period of time and I will never allow myself to be love bombed or pushed to move forward in a relationship if I am not 100% ready to do so in all aspects of the relationship again!

Nord
Nord
10 years ago
Reply to  Deborah

Deborah,

I understand what you went through and I like what you say about not knowing what red flags to look for because we’ve never experienced this. It’s weird because of course I had never (knowingly) been with a serial cheater capable of living a double life. How could I have? I had no idea people like this existed outside of soap operas and Hollywood move stars. I really just couldn’t wrap my head around it for the longest time. Who lives that way, you know?

Once you realise that this is actually how some people live you do set up your boundaries and protect yourself and hopefully don’t fall into that trap every again.My ex, by the way, refuses to accept he’s a serial cheater (despite having cheated in every relationship he’s ever had) – he says he was simply unhappy and happened to meet other people during those unhappy times…or something like that. It becomes like a Charlie Brown adult voice when he talks because it’s all just noise anyway.

Uniquelyme
Uniquelyme
10 years ago
Reply to  Frannie

I understood this post to mean forgiving myself for spackling, for turning the other way even though I knew deep down things were remiss and for overdosing on hopium even after D-day. Being a good spouse and loving another person and my family are wonderful traits that I cherish and honor and intend to keep. It’s staying after I knew about the cheating, after I hurt so much I shut down to survive and ignoring red flags are what I had to forgive.

Deborah
Deborah
10 years ago
Reply to  Uniquelyme

Amen to that Uniquelyme!

Looking for my own Meh
Looking for my own Meh
10 years ago
Reply to  Uniquelyme

Yes this is what I struggle with. I shut down and ignored red flags and didn’t take care of myself. And looking at all that Chump behavior “unvarnished” is hard. It is difficult to accept that I sacrificed so much of myself because of fear of loss and having to start over and so many other imagined realities. It is a bitter necessary pill to swallow.

Janet
Janet
10 years ago
Reply to  Uniquelyme

Uniquelyme: spackling, turning the other way,overdosing on hopium, going through grief and then accepting the awful truth I think that is something most of us chumps have gone through. And I quess when you are out on the other side you see what a chump you were and think less of yourself. Nothing to forgive yourself for, just life lessons learned the hard way.

Uniquelyme
Uniquelyme
10 years ago
Reply to  Janet

Janet, maybe the difference is how we define forgiveness for ourselves. To me, it meant embracing the good with the bad and then letting the bad go so I can finally learn my lessons. It was a freeing process for me because I went through “why did I waste so much of my life” until I came to a place where all the bad stuff allowed me to get where I am today. So in the end, only good came out of it but forgiveness was part of my personal journey.

Janet
Janet
10 years ago
Reply to  Uniquelyme

and Uniquelyme my attitude comes from the stance that I have done nothing wrong here so my actions need no forgiveness from myself or from others. We need to be good to ourselves because for too long we ate those shit sandwiches. As long as we reach MEH it doesn’t matter how we get there.

CW
CW
10 years ago
Reply to  Janet

Good point Janet, we do need to be good to ourselves. We did nothing wrong, period. I know I beat myself up for a long time (5-6 months) after I discovered everything and got hit with the D-Day. Also, at the same time I was ashamed for having done the pick-me dance for so long and (in my opinion, needlessly) worrying about the future, such as “Is this it for me? Am I worthy of being loved by anyone, or will the things my XW saw in me as justification for her affair forever be my downfall?” I think “forgiving yourself” is making that honest assessment of who and what you are, and hopefully come to the understanding that we have far more positive than negative and then take actions to make your life what you want it to be. I posted something a few days ago that kind of goes along with that theme:

“I know I have my share of faults (we all do), but honestly, I’m too old to feel like I have to apologize for who and what I am anymore.”

I think I’ve turned a corner the last couple of weeks (coincides with the divorce becoming official), and while I’m not at “Meh” yet, I feel like a lot of mental crap has been released and I’ve gone from having one bad day for every 2 OK days to maybe 1 bad day a week now. I can sleep well at night now because I now know that whatever happens, my conscience is clear.

Janet
Janet
10 years ago
Reply to  Janet

and what I meant to add and forgot is that these are the downside of being a good spouse and loving another person. Here again nothing to forgive yourself for

RisingPhoenix
RisingPhoenix
10 years ago
Reply to  Frannie

Frannie I’m with You, why do I have to forgive myself? I was the strong person, I did everything that was wright, I worked, I cared, I did all the things partner should do. I’m still the strong one, It wasn’t me who gave up when things got though, I did not go looking for happy moments with someone else. I stood and work things out, so the next day would be better. Even after DDay I was the one who had to put my life back together, while the cheater chose new life and new place. So why I have to forgive myself? I’m not perfect, yet I know I’m the strong One!

Janet
Janet
10 years ago
Reply to  RisingPhoenix

Absolutely correct I guess the only reason to “forgive” yourself is because you are saying to yourself “I should have listened to my insticts, sister, friends instead of honoring my comittment and vows” Only you know when the time is right to end your relationship and that you had the courage to do so speaks volumes of you. Stop kicking yourself, you are a brave, resourseful wonderful individual. ((HUGS))

jusduckie
jusduckie
10 years ago
Reply to  RisingPhoenix

For me, I take the “forgive yourself” to mean…for all the second guessing, the maybe I should have, or if I only did this or that, etc. The reality is, nothing would have changed. He is who he is and yes…I am done with thinking about it all. I have spent two years thinking those kinds of thoughts…each and every day. I have come to understand and realize he is MESSED UP…
I did nothing wrong. I was true, honest, committed and stood by him, even after discovering infidelity.
The only thing I did “wrong” was not listen to my intuition. For that, I forgive myself.

Uniquelyme
Uniquelyme
10 years ago

Looking for my own meh, Tracy’s advice is excellent. That is the road I traveled. A difficult road but you have to take it to get to meh. When I read the book, “Women Who Love Too Much,” I was shocked that I was a co-dependent extraordinaire. Pain will NOT kill you (although it feels like it would) but it will get you to a better place. I have a wise counselor who helped me with my journey. There were moments I wanted to throw a book at her but we kept on looking at my issues. Forget the cheater. He’s just part of the play and you have the lead role. The most important thing is to be gentle and kind to yourself. As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” You didn’t know any better because of some of the issues pointed out by Tracy. Fear gripped us and we could not take the steps we needed to take to put ourselves first. How then could we have done otherwise? We only fail if we now have self-awareness and continue on the same path – to not fix our picker, to not be honest but gentle with our shortcomings and to not forge ahead knowing that we have options. In short, to ignore the lessons that we needed to learn to have a better life.

What matters is today. The past is over. No do-overs for the past but the present (and therefore, the future) is yours to do what you wish. Pretty soon, the new experiences will crowd out the ugly past and you will look back and say, “I like who I am today.” But the who you are today would not have been possible without the past that is now gone other than the lessons learned.

Have strength and fortitude to understand why you tolerated what you did and take heart that blessings will surely come out of the ashes. And then, magically, one day you realize you have forgiven yourself and arrived at meh.

Telo
Telo
10 years ago
Reply to  Uniquelyme

Beautiful, Uniquelyme.

Happilyeverafter1959
Happilyeverafter1959
10 years ago

Working on this with my therapist right now.
But I think Frannie hit the nail on the head.
Why should we forgive ourselves for loving someone?
Doing our best and being faithful……
What I need to forgive myself for, is taking him back and believing in him. giving him a second chance for the sake of the kids. Fast forward 15 years later , the kids are grown and newsflash!!!!!!! He’s been cheating the whole time. Was so good at it, I never knew. And my “stupidity” for not seeing it, is what I need to forgive. Not him, Not ever……So now I need to rethink this forgiving myself stuff. It’s tough all around. The pressure to get over it and move on. I am trying. it’s tough, it sucks.

Nord
Nord
10 years ago

Yeah, he didn’t mention that he was cheating, right? So nothing to forgive yourself for. I didn’t know either. And now I do. And I will not forgive him for letting me live my life for years, making decisions taht would land me in a horrible financial situation when I found out, and never saying a word. Of course, now he says he was so unhappy for years but no, that’s not the case. He was perfectly happy because he had me at home with the kids taking care of everything while he went off and lived a double life. Fuck him and fuck this idea that I need to forgive him OR myself. No. He behaved dishonourably and that’s his bag to carry, not mine.

Looking for my own Meh
Looking for my own Meh
10 years ago
Reply to  Nord

I don’t think anyone is saying the anyone needs to do anything. It is an individual personal matter and not up for anyone else to declare if it is needed or not. I see things differently regarding self forgiveness and was seeking input from the wise people on this forum.

Nord
Nord
10 years ago

I understand. Sorry, last night I was in a pissy mood due to ex once again filling the kids with a load of bs. It tends to set me off when he does this and instead of flipping around them I flip on here. 🙂

Looking for my own Meh
Looking for my own Meh
10 years ago
Reply to  Nord

I hear that!

Jayne
Jayne
10 years ago

Happilyeverafter1959 – you don’t need to forgive yourself for not being psychic 🙂 xx

RisingPhoenix
RisingPhoenix
10 years ago

This is my take and my personal feeling, I know some of You may not agree. This is what is helping me to go one forward. If I start looking for forgiving myself Ibhave to be the victim, I’m not the victim, I’M SURVIVER. I survived to teach and help next person in need. I survived the lies, cheating, bulsit sandwich, hopium, kibbles and all other crap that the cheater brought into mylife. When I start thinking as the victim not surviver, that is exactly how the cheater still has a hold of me. So no, no more feeling sorry for me, I just got stronger and know what to look for in a future. Maybe changing the way we feel about US Chumps, will speed the way to Our own Meh. We are the strong ones, even if some of us don’t believe in it yet!

Nord
Nord
10 years ago
Reply to  RisingPhoenix

very good point. We are victims but we need to start rethinking how we view that. Fuck these assholes who try to make us victims. Let us be survivors who leave the losers behind.

Jayne
Jayne
10 years ago

What’s there to forgive?

Boiled down to the most basic – we are social animals. In order for us to survive in social groupings we MUST trust, we must eat SOME shit sandwiches – if only to live with other people’s shortcomings – or how could something as basic as a family unit survive – let alone a village/town/city/country/world of humans? To trust makes us vulnerable to someone abusing that trust – the alternative is not to trust anyone at all – what a horrible society we’d be if trust didn’t exist. So, what’s there to forgive yourself for?

Consider the spiritual teachings we’ve all been influenced by since childhood – ‘turn the other cheek’, ‘let him without sin cast the first stone’ (I was brought up a Christian, so I don’t know for sure, but I would expect other religions to have similar teachings – different phrasing perhaps). All sound advice in my opinion, and again, what a horrible society we’d be without compassion. So what’s there to forgive yourself for?

Try to be at least as kind to yourself as you were with your cheating ex. ‘Spackle’ yourself if you want to look at it like that! Consider the negative judgements you are making of yourself and turn them into positives:
I was a fool / I was trusting
I ignored his lies and incongruities / I was seeing the good in him.
I stayed even though he betrayed me / I was loyal
I ‘spackled’ him / I was compassionate.
IMO it’s all sides of the same coin.

CL talks a lot about strengthening our own personal boundaries and this is the greatest truth and advice there is for us moving forward. I believe it is possible to do that and still love the person we were when we let our boundaries be violated in the past. Fear and fear of change are definitely factors in why we put up with it for so long, but also, I think, our finer qualities, morals and values play their part too. I wouldn’t want to have to lose those qualities (loyalty / trust / compassion etc, etc) so I needn’t forgive myself for having them 🙂

I’m working on strengthening my boundaries!

Jayne x

TimeHeals
TimeHeals
10 years ago
Reply to  Jayne

Honestly, I don’t think it is “all side of the same coin” very often.

We all have biases, and sometimes we see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear, and when impartial third-parties can agree after looking at something that you are tolerating abusive crap, ignoring what must be glaringly obvious reality is something you do at your own peril. Nobody deserves abuse, but the act of tolerating a steady stream of abuse when you can walk away does say something about who you are or were.

People dress it up all the time as “Honoring my vows”, “I am the rock holding this family together”, “taking the higher road” , “Standing for my own values” and so on, and they do it for a number of reasons that I wouldn’t classify as “mature coping strategies” probably because they are either trying to change their cheating/abusive spouse, because they manage to split their spouse into “The provider/nurturer vs The Manipulative Bitch/Asshole”, or because they are too gosh darned avoidant to deal with the reality. I’ve seen it too many times to think these kind of things don’t happen fairly often complete with people conjuring up mythical midlife crises or “my spouse was replaced by the body snatchers” type of imaginary fictions.

That’s the beauty of this site as opposed to the sites peddling maladaptive coping strategies wrapped up with a ribbon of pseudoscience:

This site promotes dealing with the sucky reality we all experienced and doesn’t ask you to take ownership of your spouse’s behavior but own your own behavior, learn from it, and then move on to a better life without that dysfunction.

That’s what I think anyway.

Deborah
Deborah
10 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Telo:
Love what you target in on here….

“get practical about their healing and put all the obsessive thinking to good use: work on undeveloped or unseen aspects of themselves. Therapists can help with that.”

This leads me to another very important point about Chumps and myself included. FANTASY…..which I guess partially falls under Hopium but is a bit more specific. The Fantasy of who you think,wish and dare I say pretend your partner to be which clouds the proper reactions we should be instantly having to those red flags etc…due to the undeveloped or unseen aspects of ourselves as you state above.

Thanks for honing in on that very important aspect of healing.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  Deborah

For me, Deborah, I forgive myself for believing him, and allowing him to squander at least 15 years of my life (perhaps all 25 years of our marriage, he probably cheated all along). Because my gut was screaming something was very wrong, cbut I believed his lies because I so desperately wanted to. That is the thing at the heart of the matter for me. While the thought sometime crossed my mind, I immediately dismissed the nagging idea that perhaps he was not really the charming loving family man but instead might be an angry calculating monster. Why I so doubted myself was the desperate fear and refusal to believe myself and believe in myself.

Jayne
Jayne
10 years ago
Reply to  TimeHeals

LOL TimeHeals – I had money on you quashing any signs of ‘compassion for oneself’ 🙂 Philosophical debate is as old as the Greek hills – I accept you believe what you believe and it works for you (and all power to you if self-flagellation works for you 🙂 ) I prefer a kinder philosophy 🙂

x

TimeHeals
TimeHeals
10 years ago
Reply to  Jayne

In order for me (and I would think ‘anybody’) to be truly compassionate with myself, I think I need to be honest with myself first.

It is what it is. I am not perfect. I am not going to get a medal or be canonized as a saint simply because my former spouse cheated on me. Twice that I know of. There’s no fast-path to sainthood for me simply because I stuck it out after the first time.

To think the ignoble actions of my former-spouse somehow say something good about my character is–at best–co-dependent thinking. There’s no brownie prize for being a chump.

So I didn’t cheat. So what? Look at what I did do: I thought that by the simple act of ‘forgiving’ somebody that I could change them. That is a power I didn’t ever have. And the imagined reward? I would change her, and she would love me unconditionally.

That’s fucked up 6-ways to Sunday. Have I forgiven myself? Pretty much, but the old Spidey senses start a tinglin’ every time I hear somebody say something that indicates they are locked into trying to change somebody now.

There is no changing somebody else. They will change. Maybe not like you want them to change, but the things they do regularly that you don’t like, they may not and probably never will change, so… you have to ask yourself… can you live with this?

Cheating is a non-starter. You can’t live with it because there is no real commitment even.

Telo
Telo
10 years ago
Reply to  TimeHeals

TimeHeals, you’re touching on a core issue. That is, that chumps have to take responsibility for their own brand of narcissistic thinking. By that I mean that on the very good days spent with a cheater, chumps can often get caught up in the whirlwind of feeling special. And narcissists — when on their best, sparkly behavior — have a way of taking their Hollywood charisma and bestowing that shared specialness and spotlight onto their partner of the moment. Those feel-good moments can be intoxicating. Some chumps will have to work on developing genuine esteem so that they do not rely on the validation of others, especially those others who, like the N cheater, wish to give the appearance of having it all. Hard a pill to swallow as it may be for some, chumps must accept that they are not so special in that they alone have the power to change/ help/ cure/ be everything to the cheater.

David
David
10 years ago
Reply to  Telo

Telo,

I’ve written here about something like what you say, calling it “Chump narcissism.” Some didn’t like that term, but I do think it exists. Some Chumps think that they are so sincere, hopeful and helpful that they can change others. Chumps also do go through a phase where they share in being part of the NPD-person’s sacred inner circle.

One thing you mention is the great highs that come from NPD-acceptance, from that acceptance that is bestowed by that special person (who denies it to others and will soon deny it to you). The ups and downs in such relationships create a biological roller coaster that I think hooks Chumps in.

But Chumps shouldn’t beat up on themselves. In the end, yes, they were sucked in, but that’s over now. It hurts, but it’s time to move on. I agree, too, with CL, that the most “forgiveness” these NPD types/narks deserve is acceptance. “I accept that you stink as a person. I am now moving on.”

Anyway, I thought your comment was great.

Telo
Telo
10 years ago
Reply to  David

Thanks, David. You’re right in that chumps should stop beating themselves up. Conditioning by the cheater and any others before that probably did enough of that. But what many chumps need to do — and I say this with a lot of care and concern — is get practical about their healing and put all the obsessive thinking to good use: work on undeveloped or unseen aspects of themselves. Therapists can help with that.

AC
AC
10 years ago

Thank you @Looking for this. I have been asking my self that same thing, and thank you sooo much chumplady for that amazing answer.
I think I need to forgive my self for the fact that even wen I new, I thought I was not enough to be with anyone else, that I would bee alone for the rest of my life if I left, I still think the same thing but at least . So I blinded my self to the reality of the situation.
Some of us, me very much included, believe is our fault that we where cheated on, so we endure!! I need to forgive my chumpy self for not being stronger, for not asserting my position and my values, for letting my cheater treat me like second best. And for a perfectionist like me is hard.
Forgiving our self’s is for me the first step to Meh.

ColdTurkey
ColdTurkey
10 years ago

Uniquelyme: “Forget the cheater. He’s just part of the play and you have the lead role.”
Jayne: “I was a fool / I was trusting.
I ignored his lies and incongruities / I was seeing the good in him.
I stayed even though he betrayed me / I was loyal.
I ‘spackled’ him / I was compassionate.
IMO it’s all sides of the same coin.”

Everybody who writes here has wonderful nuggets of wisdom, and these two excerpts are so exceptionally pithy that I’m going to add a few more sticky notes to my collection. I once drove across the country repeating to myself the following words (written on a sticky note and stuck to my dashboard): “HE is the one who broke the marriage contract.” They’re probably still talking about me all along I-80, as I sobbed and blubbered the whole way.

One divorce, two years, and literally thousands of miles later: Imagine me tooling around New England in my 26-year old car, probably with some Steve Winwood on the CD player (“Wake Me Up on Judgment Day” is a current favorite), looking ahead through the windshield and checking my rear-view mirror only when I choose to!

Thank you, fellow survivors, for baring your souls on this forum and for giving me a safe and nurturing place to come to whenever I need another dose of compassion and understanding!

Miss Sunshine (formerly Stephanie)
Miss Sunshine (formerly Stephanie)
10 years ago
Reply to  ColdTurkey

Hugs! You, too, are a survivor. And your presence here helps yourself and others!

Datdamwuf
Datdamwuf
10 years ago

I agree with you, Jayne made very good points, when you add that list to a sticky please don’t forget the important bit, I think the core of Jayne’s post: “CL talks a lot about strengthening our own personal boundaries and this is the greatest truth and advice there is for us moving forward. I believe it is possible to do that and still love the person we were when we let our boundaries be violated in the past. ”

The difference in that list of behaviors is the incremental boundary crossings that ended up being huge over a long period of time. The loss of our boundaries. Until, one day our abuser crossed a boundary he/she had not softened up, maybe could not soften up. And that is the day we said STOP, I will not abide! For me that boundary crossing moment was also when I allowed my intuition to guide me again, the part of me I tamped down without even realizing it. /When that core of us becomes unbound, never let slip away again.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  Datdamwuf

~When that core of us becomes unbound, never let slip away again.

Wow DDW, beautiful

ColdTurkey
ColdTurkey
10 years ago
Reply to  Datdamwuf

Thanks for the ray of sunshiny warmth, formerly Stephanie! And Dat (what DOES your name mean, anyway???), I agree with you wholeheartedly about strengthening boundaries. I kicked and screamed (quite literally) as my ex violated every ounce of faith and trust I had placed in him, but my reaction was ineffectual. Had I known back then how to communicate more effectively and insistently, I would have found better ways to interact with him rather than the rolled eyes, the thrown objects, the pleas for counseling, and the vituperation I cast his way. I was just too exhausted from my own issues (FOO junk, new baby, living in an isolated environment, and then there was that debilitating stroke to recover from …) to put another ounce of my depleted energy into learning new ways of trying to fix things. I just kept plugging away at the old methods, continually banging my head against that wall and hoping for the best.

For a variety of reasons, I clung unhealthily to that relationship for decades (I can’t truthfully call it a “marriage”), and after I was forcibly peeled off and jettisoned, I began in earnest to examine my part in the maelstrom. I’m done with the self-recrimination phase, and now I can chalk up the whole experience to being another step on my life journey. I am presently living with and caring for my ailing elderly mother, and every single day I get another invaluable bolt of insight into what shaped me. I also get another chance to redefine what I will and will not accept, as well as to practice interacting with others in a healthy, thoughtful manner instead of with my previous defensive, self-protective, bombastic knee-jerk reactions.

ChumpLady.com has helped me tremendously by offering up so many varied points of view. It is invaluable for many reasons, but the “sounding board” forum is invaluable! Thank you, thank you, thank you all!

13YEARCHUMP
13YEARCHUMP
10 years ago
Reply to  ColdTurkey

COLDTURKEY
Lots of Hugs to you! One day you would look back & marvel that u wasted one single tear on that man! I’m a trained Psychiatrist.. Someone who should have known better than to become. A textbook CHUMP! :)… But I was.. For 13 years.. 13 years spent in misery to a narcissistic emotionally abusive serial cheater who took my love for granted. My eyes opened in 2013 & I filed for divorce.. I found CHUMPLADY the day after I filed & after 24 hours of reading half of the posts & advice from CHUMPLADY & CHUMPNation.. I knew I no longer needed therapy! :).. Honest to God.
I feel happy, I feel free & I feel indifferent to the man who made my life a misery a& I’m full of excitement for the life ahead!
Best wishes.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  13YEARCHUMP

Good for you 13year!

13YEARCHUMP
13YEARCHUMP
10 years ago
Reply to  Kelly

Thank u Kelly!

Nord
Nord
10 years ago
Reply to  ColdTurkey

You know what, Cold Turkey? You should never have been doing all that alone. THAT’S the problem and THAT’S where so many of us went wrong. We just kept trying and trying and trying while our supposed partners were not giving one fucking thing to the relationship. I don’t regret trying but I do regret that I didn’t see how little he gave.

Fuck them. Ditch them and go find a better life. It won’t be easy but it’s better than that happy horse shit.

LiningUpDucks
LiningUpDucks
10 years ago
Reply to  Nord

“…while our supposed partners were not giving one fucking thing to the relationship.”

This, mostly. What kept me stuck was that my ex would dish out just enough effort to keep me hooked. Like a slot machine. I did see some return, every once in a while.

But the house (narc) always wins.

Datdamwuf
Datdamwuf
10 years ago
Reply to  ColdTurkey

Thanks for sharing ColdTurkey. About my name; I was going to say that my nick has nothing to do with being chumped but then I thought about it and it actually does. Interesting realization when we are speaking of boundaries being crossed and compromising to the point of disappearing yourself…

I’ve been using the nick DatDamWuf since 1995 – back then it was for chatting on IRC, a lot of people don’t even know what that is, google it if you are one of them (it still exists). I was on the Internet when it was still Arpanet, I think that officially makes me an old IT curmudgeon, LOL.\\ I created this nick as a joke and kept it ever since…

Anyhow, one year after my ex moved in we acquired a wolf – he wanted a wolfdog, but in my usual craziness, once on board with this idea I found the real thing, what’s commonly called a 99%er. When we went to see the pup and parents the seller wouldn’t take us to see the parents. I said we wouldn’t buy the pup because I knew better, never buy a pet if you don’t see the temperament of the parents! BUT, at this point my ex took me aside, he started crying saying the poor thing was all alone and he needed us, and damn if I didn’t give in to him. Big mistake, that was another boundary crossed, another compromise for the “poor sausage”.

Nevertheless, I loved the wolf despite the troubles he caused and he lived to be 16 years old. I will call him “Wolf” here, though he had a name. At 6 months Wolf could no longer be in the house except when crated at night for sleeping. This was because he would destroy things, eat inedible things, and steal things AND he would defend those things with his teeth. Outside, Wolf did the same, among the many things destroyed; he pulled the metal gutters off the house and crushed them flat in his jaws, he pulled down my entire 20 year old grape arbor one plant at a time. He chewed through a dozen hoses and so much else.

Then one day I looked out in the pouring rain and he was literally stripping the canvas top off my convertible car, gaping holes already torn through….

I yelled “That Damn Wolf is eating my fucking car!!!!”

And I couldn’t even stay pissed off because it was so absurd, not only is he eating the top off the car, he chose to do it when it was pouring down raining? I started laughing and I could not stop. I’m chuckling right now, I can still see that beautiful, crazy ass wolf, eating my damn car and it still cracks me up. The next day when I logged into IRC someone was logged in with my usual name and the nick DatDamWuf was born :).

LiningUpDucks
LiningUpDucks
10 years ago
Reply to  Datdamwuf

Dat – From day one, I figured your screenname referred to how narcassists are actually a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, effectively calling your ex “that damn wolf”. Kind of cool to hear that it was an actual wolf!

kb
kb
10 years ago
Reply to  Datdamwuf

Wonderful story of the nick.

Also, a great story of how boundaries get crossed and we get left holding the bag. I’m fairly certain that all of us allowed our cheaters to pull something similar, and that we went along with it because we’re nice.

ColdTurkey
ColdTurkey
10 years ago
Reply to  Datdamwuf

Thanks for the explanation, Dat. I mulled over a catchy screen name or two before I hit upon my moniker of ColdTurkey. There’s the obvious connotation of going through withdrawal, but the more meaningful (to me) nuance is a nod to something that was a big part of my former married life: those unbearably hot summers on the southern coast of Turkey. My ex is an archaeologist, and I used to be the excavation “Mom” who constantly urged the students to keep well hydrated, as it was routinely 110 degrees in the daytime, cooling off to the low nineties at night. As we were sweltering at the site and trying to maintain consciousness on the blistering southern coast, we heard tales of the cool mountain snow that was only a few hours’ drive away — an elusive respite from our primitive living conditions. So the name “ColdTurkey” gave me great pleasure after all those miserable summers I endured hand-washing our filthy clothes in a sink with no plug, sleeping in crummy rooms with no screens on the windows, and suffering the effects of food poisoning as a result of the inadequate electrical grid and the frequent power outages.

Thanks to Miss Sunshine, the poster formerly known as Stephanie, I’m now considering a name change to reflect the evolving me. So many possibilities…

ColdTurkey
ColdTurkey
10 years ago
Reply to  ColdTurkey

Also, DatDamnWolf, I got so caught up that I forgot to properly commiserate with you. Absolutely amazing the crap we put up with for all those years, isn’t it? I got stuck with caring for only a cute little guinea pig (but I PROMISE I’ll take care of it, Mom, all by myself, no kidding, I swear) and then a couple of fish (ditto with the empty promises). You, however, win the prize with a WOLF who chewed up sheet metal!!! I defy anyone to top your story.

Kira Taylor
Kira Taylor
10 years ago

I don’t think Chump Lady meant forgive yourself for loving a cheater, the point was if you are downing yourself for staying or allowing them to abuse you. Like this isn’t your fault, whether you want to admit it or not, we are all victims of infidelity, all she is saying is it doesn’t mean that we are weak and we are worth more. Everyone has this misconception on being a victim, because you don’t want to feel weak, or taken advantage of. All she is saying is yeah it happened, but its what you do from here that turns you from victim to a hell of champ. At least that’s what I tell myself that I’m transforming from chump to champ. I have been reading Tracy’s post for 6 months now, and I have to say that I am so grateful I found this website, I might still be in a victim state trying to keep a cheater faithful by proving that keeping our family together is the best choice. Working so hard to meet his needs, hah, all the while stuffing mine to make him see I’m worth it, then I entered meh, and ironically it was a Tues:) 6/11/13 to be exact, it gave me the chills to read the road to meh! All I can say is this site had given the wisdom and courage to stop being victimized by a man that only cares about himself. One day I will post my story, its a wild one, but for now I would like to say thank you Tracy for the kind words and the courage to put this stuff out and tell it like it is:)

zyx321
zyx321
10 years ago

I guess I agree with most of the other Chumps:
I trusted, I made the effort, I asked the questions. Ex was the lying, lazy, selfish coward.

Do I need to forgive myself for believing exH 13 yrs ago when I confronted him and believed his denial: no, I am not having an affair? If I had dug deeper, gotten more evidence, then we probably would have divorced and I would not have my kids today.

My issues continues to be:
A) the second guessing. If only I had pushed more, etc.
b) friends who still consider exH a friend as well.
I have one friend that I really respect, she has great insight. I tell her about what exH said and did, and her response is that he did not know himself. He was living a lie because he was not in touch with who he is and what he wanted/needed.
This is hard to fathom. Yes, everyone deserves happiness, and that is all I wanted for my exH: to make him happy; to be there for him, to support him.
This is one of the last things I said to him when we officially decided to divorce. All I every wanted was his happiness. He could not say the same for me.

I do not completely believe the saying “everyone deserves to be happy.”
Yes, exH deserves to be happy. But not at the expense of his children, not without making every effort in the marriage first. Ex did none of those things; lied to MC, said no affair, then did not go to IC to deal with his dishonesty.

Re-reading this, I sound a bit bitter. I am not.

I continue to stand tall, as I did everything I could have, and I am not a cowardly, selfish liar. ExH jumped into marriage with his AP, who was also married when they got together. They have a new baby, and moved overseas last week. Odds are long for that relationship.

Now my new normal is being a full time parent… So much for finding someone to love me (that will come, I hope…).

Stand tall Chumps. We are loving, kind people. We deserve better than our cheating current or former partners.

Jedi hugs to all.

ReDefiningMe
ReDefiningMe
10 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

I can definitely relate to this post – and I have beat myself up and asked myself so many of the same questions.

For me, I struggled the most with “How did I allow myself to have two children with this guy?” My youngest child is adopted, and the guilt nearly killed me. I went over and over in my mind that his birthmother chose us because she wanted her son raised in a “stable, two parent family” – and now he has “just me” and no contact with the random acts of crazy Captain Marvelous.

I ached every time my little son looked at me…then a wonderful friend told me, “God knew that all this would happen, and He still made sure that your son found his way to you.” My faith is my anchor, and I hold on to that with everything I am. My son is an incredbly giving, compassionate little boy, and perhaps this terrible journey has made him stronger and kinder in a way he wouldn’t have been otherwise. All I know is that I can’t be a good mother or person when guilt is strangling me. I did my very best as a wife. I never suspected things I wasn’t capable of…and I did stay out of fear. But even grown-ups make mistakes, and moving on and learning is the important part. My kids have both seen that, and I’m believing it now too…about 98% of the time. 🙂

heartbroken
heartbroken
10 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

I’m curious what was the “bad” advise you were given. I’m positive I’ll be leaving STBX as soon as I figure out a good exit strategy (tied to finances mostly), but it still messes with my head a bit when my own parents snow me with their advise along the lines of “you need to forgive him and reconcile for the sake of your child.” I know their intentions are good but boy, do such statements mess with my head

Uniquelyme
Uniquelyme
10 years ago
Reply to  heartbroken

Nearly 14 years ago, I filed for divorce (after the second OW). My family begged me to reconsider since cheater ex wanted to come home and make everything right and our child was young. I caved. I shouldn’t have. Please realize that this is your life to life, your parents have supporting roles. They mean well, but they have no idea of the pain you are going through. My family meant well, too, but now they apologized for encouraging me. That decision to stay was still on me, though, in the same manner the decision to leave or stay is ultimately on you. I finally divorced the cheater ex last year after the third OW (that I know of). If I could do it all over again, I would have left after the first OW and regained my life then.

Uniquelyme
Uniquelyme
10 years ago
Reply to  Uniquelyme

I meant “your life, your parents have supporting roles.”

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

I understand your post CL and it actually is right on, for me. I had been so damn mad at my ex for wasting my life, and myself for letting him. After all, I saw the signs, I could tell something was off, but I spackled furiously and danced desperately to tell myself everything was ok. I DID need to forgive myself, because it simply blew my mind that for all my supposed strength and smarts, I let some two bit soul-less charming cheater squander the best years of my life. Yes I was angry at myself, and yes it was a tremendous release when I realized I was mad at myself. And it was the final step to meh when I made that realization and forgave myself.

Uniquelyme
Uniquelyme
10 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Similar journey for me, Tracy. Thank you for articulating it so well.

Looking for my own Meh
Looking for my own Meh
10 years ago
Reply to  Uniquelyme

This is what it is. Thank you. So much.

Datdamwuf
Datdamwuf
10 years ago

CL, I get you and I feel the same. I have forgiven myself, I have accepted me and learned from the mistakes. Like you, I gave the ex chances after he showed me who he was and those were based on depression and blindness. Like you, I hope your site & ChumpNation helps others to see the truth, make fewer of those mistakes and get out sooner.

I have also realized that many of the things I thought were mistakes were not, they were what I call “woulda, shoulda, coulda” bullshit that my negative reptile brain feeds me. I’ve learned through a lot of therapy that I am my own worst critic. In some cases (see gun day), I had to relive the experience to realize any one of the “paths not taken” coulda very well have ended up worse than the path I chose. To me this was the key to forgiving myself for all of my mistakes. When we imagine we did something different in the past? We always imagine the different path woulda changed everything for the better. When we force ourselves to consider how that change could have played out badly? Then we can see that we are only human, we can be in our past head long enough to feel compassion for ourselves.

– maybe I’m wrong but that is what I get out of your post.

Miss Sunshine
Miss Sunshine
10 years ago

Well, I don’t think I’m alone here, but I blame myself a little bit.

You have to examine what went wrong, lest you repeat the same mistakes again.

Sometimes forgiveness feels a lot like letting one’s guard down. I won’t do it for the cheater and OW. I don’t control their behavior, and they have shown themselves to be of low character–gleefully–and so I will never trust them. I only control my behavior. It is imperative that I recognize why I behave the way I do. This is all part of the very necessary introspection that we MUST do to heal ourselves.

I didn’t deserve any of this. I was FAR from perfect, but nobody is perfect, and LOTS of people manage to enter into and sustain healthy, loving, permanent relationships. Others of us did not. So what was my role? It is necessary that I figure that out, or I am doomed to make the same mistakes again, or condemn myself to being alone.

Quite simply, I picked wrong. I picked a guy who seemingly had good character. I never knew him to lie or cheat, would never steal nor vandalize. I loved that about him. On the other hand, he was really never that into me. He was constantly–from DAY 1–in love with or pursuing other women, and not shy about sharing that with me. xH also had a hard time fitting in socially with my friends, and this made me very apprehensive, but I decided in my heart to admire his loner personality rather than yield to the warnings in my head and from my friends. He often avoided taking responsibility–for example, when house-sitting for friends of ours, not once did he initiate taking care of the very simple garden chores we’d been asked to do, and he was annoyed with me that I felt it necessary to do so. Alarm bells went off–but I shamed myself for being disgusted with him. He was exceedingly and embarrassingly rude and evasive toward my father. His parents had been through an ugly divorce, and they each had quite a bit of dysfunction in their lives–particularly his father. These were warning signs, I now recognize. And, yet, I clung to him, even after he broke up with me twice while we were dating.

All that is on me, and nobody else. Perhaps I might have recognized that this was coming, but I really wanted a family, and I found a man who was enough. If I knew a woman dating a guy like my xH, I would have advised her to move on, as my friends had hinted to me–but I thought I could handle him, and, besides, men were not beating a path to my door. So, I stayed. I went all in. I made a foolish bet.

I was young, I was idealistic, I believed in his representation of his character, I believed him when he told me what he wanted in life, and it matched what I wanted in life. There were enough good times that crowded out the very real misgivings I felt. As a child, my wants and some needs were devalued in favor of placing a strong emphasis on my character, and so I naively thought that with enough work, and by being “good enough” myself, this would be a strong marriage. I was WRONG.

Things got predictably worse during the marriage, with the stress of raising children, attending to home life, finding ourselves in disagreements. I tried when it wasn’t easy to love him. Love is a VERB, with actions, and I loved him. It never occurred to me that he didn’t love me, even when he came home in love with yet another coworker, time after time. I loved him even when I resented him for not helping me more around the house and outside, or when he was rude to my family or friends. I wasn’t perfect, but I tried. Besides, I had my own quirks and annoying or repulsive habits, and I let my annoyance with him show often enough. I wasn’t always pretty.

But, you know what? I mostly forgive myself.

Ah, but I realize that if I forgive myself, I might forget. I might make the same mistakes twice or more. I am a habitual doormat in life. Do I really have any business forgiving myself? Doesn’t it make me more vulnerable? I don’t think so. I think I’ve given myself plenty of time to look at my errors and LEARN from them. My forgiveness of myself comes with one condition, and that is, that I promise to recognize where I went wrong, how it affected me (and others–my kids, for example, and even my xH, whom I should have let go from the beginning), and how to avoid doing the same thing in the future. That last part is a little shaky, but I’m certainly more aware now than when I was 21 years old without much life experience.

I’m not at 100% forgiveness of myself. I still worry that I’m not lovable enough, or that my imperfections will be so off-putting that nobody I could love will ever love me back. I’m still working on that. That last part–that might be what keeps me coming back here. I need to work on trusting that he sucks, on trusting that his abandoning our family wasn’t really the right thing for him after all–on trusting that I wasn’t the wrong fit for him, meaning, that there is something more wrong with me, as opposed to vice-versa.

What sets me apart from successfully married women? I picked wrong. I (mostly) forgive myself. It’s a process.

13YEARCHUMP
13YEARCHUMP
10 years ago
Reply to  Miss Sunshine

Miss Sunshine,
I’m sure many here feel exactly like u do..”picking wrong, ignoring the alarm bells & signals b4 marriage” … It does not make us weak.. It means we are human.

I forgive myself for thinking all the things u did, I’m not sorry I gave it all my all bc I would have always wondered if I tried enough… Even though I wish I had wished up earlier, the pain I went through has made me wiser & stronger. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME AGAIN!… I will never love blindly or allow myself to be humiliated and cheated on again. I will not make the same mistake twice.. That is the greatest forgiveness I can give myself.

ChutesandLadders
ChutesandLadders
10 years ago

“I made a lot of mistakes based in fear, and a lack of self worth. I did not assert myself in ways I should have. I did not enforce my boundaries — oh, I spoke up and demanded them — but I did not defend them when they were violated. That is on ME.”

Me, too. I’ve done a lot of self examination since this all happened. It all boils down to the fact that I was more terrified to be alone than I was to stay married to a man who never loved me, let alone valued me. Ironically, I found the perfect partner, because deep down, neither did I. It felt normal to be unloved and unappreciated.

For many, many painfully lonely years, I masked my fear behind the “vows” we took, which served two purposes. I could continue to stay married (status and financial security) and come across as the poor put upon wife (martyr). I spent the majority of my marriage feeling resentful and lonely.

Now that it is over, I’m done grieving my horrendous marriage. I’ll never forgive my cheater husband, but I’m working on forgiving myself for willingly staying with someone so wrong for me, which I knew in my heart 14 years ago when I was pregnant with our third son. From that time until I gave up two years ago, I spackled like mad.

I’m currently trying to work through the realization that I have been attracted to the same kind of off-putting man my whole life. The more they repelled me, the harder I tried. I am the second of six girls, and my father had his favorites; I was not one of them. So I learned to eat shit sandwiches and the pick me dance from a very early age.

My whole life, I only wanted to be happily married with happy children. With a 20-year marriage to a lazy, thoughtless, self-centered man AND a son with mental illness, the joke was one me. Trying to figure out Plan B at age 53 (this coming Wednesday) is a bitch. I’m trying like hell to transfer the stubborn resolve I used to stay in a crappy marriage to figuring it out.

I really want to be happy, and need to come to terms that it may not ever include being loved by a man. That is the hardest obstacle for me. It’s all I’ve ever wanted my whole life. Trying to value myself is going to take some time and practice.

GladIt'sOver
GladIt'sOver
10 years ago

“Me, too. I’ve done a lot of self examination since this all happened. It all boils down to the fact that I was more terrified to be alone than I was to stay married to a man who never loved me, let alone valued me. Ironically, I found the perfect partner, because deep down, neither did I. It felt normal to be unloved and unappreciated. ”

Chutes, this sums it up for me as well. I knew I was making a mistake when I married my ex. I married him anyway because I was more afraid of being alone. And I stayed married, even once I found out he was screwing other men, because I was STILL too frightened of being alone. I did love him, and I did desperately want the marriage to work. But the bottom line is, I knew I needed to leave, yet I stayed for 20 years because I was too afraid to take that step.

Until the day I finally DID file for divorce. I’m not sure how I finally got the courage to take that step, perhaps the desperation finally exceeded the fear. It was truly the most frightening thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Though I am sorry for the years I lost and the nightmare I endured, I don’t feel like I need to forgive myself. I was always doing the best I could with what I had to work with. My life is better now than it was back then, although still not easy. I prefer to treat myself gently, rather than beat myself up. I can feel sorry for that person I used to be, I can look back with tenderness and understanding. She suffered and was frightened and weak. Now I am slowly moving towards a new, better life. Perhaps that could not have happened if I didn’t go through chumphood.

13YEARCHUMP
13YEARCHUMP
10 years ago

Dear Chutesandladders,
“My whole life, I only wanted to be happily married with Happy children” … That was my dream too…despite the fact that I went to Medical school did a post graduate… My dream , my ambition was to have a happy home. I poured 13 years of all that I had into that dream despite knowing that he did not love me & the serial cheating.. I was miserable but I was scared of letting go of that dream & all of the emotions a& hardworking I had put into it.. Until I realized God could give me a new dream..filing for divorce is the best thing that has happened to me in 13 years apart from my 9 year old son. Within a week, everyone told me I looked happier, more confident… I had already mourned & grieved the end of a marriage ( if u can call it that) ..there was no more grieving to be done.. My new dream.. Never to be a CHUMP again!, to be the happy confident woman that I was b4 marriage, to be the best mom to my son, to not cook endlessly for a man( he loved food & I wanted to make me happy)… I’m burning my apron! :), to travel the word. I have a lot of ” New dreams” … I pray u find yours too & your happiness again.

I found this some where:
If I have given my all, if I have tried my best, if I have done everything in my power to make something succeed over a significant period of time and it still isn’t working… then I have to be honest with myself, put my ego aside, and admit that maybe this is not the right path for me… that maybe… it is time to give up… and that my Higher Power is trying to point me in a different direction… a better direction… my true spiritual path that I am choosing to ignore by being resistant to giving in due to my own stubborn self-will.”

Datdamwuf
Datdamwuf
10 years ago

I was surprised to see this in Ask Abby today, I think liking yourself is key but most people say love yourself, even old Ben;

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: “He who falls in love with himself will have no rivals.”

Nord
Nord
10 years ago

Let me be the first to wish you and early happy birthday. Mine is coming up and I’m a few years (not many) behind you. And yep, I should have seen much earlier on that I was with a disordered person but I didn’t have the skills or the insight to see it. We learn and it’s a shame we learned so late.

exrepeatedmeme
exrepeatedmeme
10 years ago

Thanks for this post, CL. Forgiveness is such a loaded word, isn’t it?

How I frame it is, “Now that I know the truth, what do I do with it? Do I deny it, spackle, keep doing the same thing I always did in my ignorance and trust? Or do I forgive myself for all the mistakes I see in hindsight, and learn from them, and move on?”

It has been hard, hard, hard to look back at myself, see the warning signs, the crap I put up with that I would never had put up with from anyone else. The regrets and the guilt were crippling after STBX left as in the subsequent months I slowly realized what had gone on, what I had missed, what I Should Have Known. For me forgiveness began the day I realized that carrying the guilt, the responsibility, the regret, was just feeding him more kibbles and that it would keep me mired in his drama for the rest of my life. The only way I could get rid of it all was to finally be kind to myself, give myself the grace that I had always given him, and let that particular burden go. It wasn’t my shame to own, or my fault.

I still want to shout back into the past and tell that younger me to RUN! But of course I can’t. I can, though, examine the past, look at single incidents and think, OK, that was stupid but you did it. It’s done. Now, what will you do next time? What boundary do you set up so this doesn’t happen again? When do you walk away? When do you say No? And when I don’t quite make the mark in a particular situation now, I let it go, remember for next time.

Yes, I did my best under stupidly awful conditions. I raised good kids, helped in my community, took care of my family. I have nothing to be ashamed of there. I also made a lot of mistakes, took on a great deal of crap that wasn’t mine, ate way too many shit sandwiches. I didn’t know then, but I know now, and what I do now is mine, no excuses.

These have been some interesting and thoughtful conversations the past few days. So good to have this place to come to.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  exrepeatedmeme

“I still want to shout back into the past and tell that younger me to RUN! But of course I can’t.”

You said it, exrepeatedmeme!

Miss Sunshine
Miss Sunshine
10 years ago

Initially I stayed because I feared being alone, and I relished being part of a couple. Those were not good enough reasons to stay, except to a lonely 21-year-old. I forgive myself.

After the kids, I stayed because I was in a good-enough marriage, and I thought it would get better when we had more time alone after the kids were grown. Those are noble reasons to stay–no need to forgive myself for that. I’m proud of myself for being a good enough wife.

When he cheated and abandoned, that was my out. That was my cue to examine the mistakes I’d made–even within the marriage, because I was not a perfect wife. I don’t believe there is anything I could have done or not done to prevent his cheating/abandonment, but I can be an even better partner in the next go-around.

Giovanna
Giovanna
10 years ago

Not to get too far off track here but what about the ‘ho that my cheater ran off with? My cheater told me that I was his second wife, I was his FIFTH. He cheated on all of us. I didn’t know any of this when I married him. His Ho KNOWS the whole story because I told her and she still chose to run off with him. They’ve been together 6 years and he cheats on her whenever he can. What kind of stupid ass chump desperate can she be?

P.S. I love this site. I’m not forgiving my cheater. He hurt me worse than anyone in the world has. He made a few half hearted attempts at apologies. He wasn’t one bit sorry. The biggest cake eater on earth and can always find willing chump women.

thensome
thensome
10 years ago

I’m not sure we treat people how to treat us, because ugh, if that’s the case then I’m a lousy teacher. However, looking back I would absolutely do things differently. For me. I’d beg my STBX to decrease his drinking, spend more time at home (instead of drinking with his loser buddies), come on family vacations with me. When he came home drunk, I’d have a drink (co-dependent much?), if he wanted to go on a holiday, I’d help him plan it. When he spent money well it was fine, but if I did, I felt guilty. It was ALWAYS about him. And I played into that. I should have walked sooner. But like all of us, I believed in my marriage. I thought he was above being a liar and cheater.

Was I wrong for wanting someone I loved to be happy? Nope. Did I do these things because I was “controlling?” I don’t think so, I truly wanted a happy husband and family. There’s no way I’m going to say I was perfect, but I sure as hell did not deserve or play any part in his role to cheat on me. That is ON THE CHEATER. I didn’t pick out a gal for him to fuck. I didn’t say, “Hey why don’t you lie in therapy today?” I didn’t suggest deception as a way of life. Those are a cheater’s choices. That is ALL on a cheater.

If a person isn’t happy in a marriage/relationship there are 1000 ways to leave and have some decency rather than cheat and be a damn coward. Speak up! Grab a voice! That’s on them and their lack of character. There’s not a damn thing a betrayed partner can do about that. Unless you are a mind-reader you cannot “affair proof” your marriage.

Once I discovered he was cheating (all through a trial separation where he SWORE he wasn’t), I ended the marriage. Done. No second chances. And I was TERRIFIED when I pulled the marriage. Absolutely terrified. I had no idea what would happen. I wondered and wondered if I’d done the right thing. He was, after all, a “nice” guy and very successful.

Well, within weeks he was seeing someone else love bombing the heck out of her. He introduced our kid to her and her children. He’s been a real piece of work. And it’s been damn hard. So it’s not easy peasy double squeezy when you leave a cheater. It can be another mountain of fresh f*ckery with cheaters, but I keep going because there is no way that putting up with a cheater, the lies and blame shifting is better. That, I know, is hell. At least on this side, I have a much better chance of happiness.

My biggest hope in all of this is that I learn never to go back to that situation again where I lose myself and allow another person to have that kind of control over me. That learning is on me. I admit I did it. It’s a tough ass lesson to learn. And I have to remind myself every day to rediscover who I am and what I want.

It’s not about forgiveness so much as about learning. Once I’ve learned better, then yeah, I try to do better but it’s not always linear. Sometimes I take a step back. But most days I’m well ahead of where I’ve been. ” Forgiveness, sounds good. Forget, I don’t think I could.” – Dixie Chicks.

TimeHeals
TimeHeals
10 years ago
Reply to  thensome

” Forgiveness, sounds good. Forget, I don’t think I could.” – Dixie Chicks.

Love that song.

river
river
10 years ago

I love this post, and I think this is a very important piece of the story for many of us. My XH displayed horrible behavior from the very beginning, and I just kept on coming back for more. Why didn’t I value myself more? Why didn’t I take better care of myself? The skein I need to untangle is my own, not his. I have to examine this in order to grow, but I must do so with compassion for myself. That is how I define “forgiveness” in this case: compassion for myself as I try to understand some destructive choices that I made.

Dr. I Can't Believe I'm a Chump
Dr. I Can't Believe I'm a Chump
10 years ago

“All my instincts have failed me for once, I must have somehow slept the whole night.”
Rachel Yamagata, “Elephants”

This is why I needed to forgive myself.

Datdamwuf
Datdamwuf
10 years ago

+1000

all4freedom
all4freedom
10 years ago

I forgave Roy for myself. I had a choice to use my energy hating him or deciding to let it go. Of course, now I have to learn to forgive him for being a complete jerk about the divorce, like I caused this? Like it was me who ruined our family because I wasn’t willing to overlook and forget. I decided divorce was a better solution than being miserable and a shell of who I am. How dare I? Yes, I lied to him for about a year and planned the leaving. Yes, I let him think everything was fine. Yes I let him believe I believed him when he said he never had sex with her, I was insecure and how could I believe he would do that? So our family being ruined is MY fault. Definitely need to work on the forgiveness for this crap.
I allowed him to control me for YEARS. I allowed him to belittle me. I allowed him to turn me into this closet miserable person who put on the happy face. I put on that dam happy face for my kids even.
I have to forgive myself for all of that. I didn’t take care of me. I was so focused on my kids growing up in a happy home, fake ass happy home but still, that I completely neglected me. I forgot that in the total math equation, I was a primary number too. I allowed him to convince me that what I needed, wanted, enjoyed, it was not important. I let that happen.
I don’t wan to sound all goofy and say I neglected my inner child. It isn’t about an inner child. It’s about putting on my oxygen mask before I put on my kids if we are in an airplane. I have to be conscious and alive if I am going to be there to put on their masks. If I put theirs on first and I drop over dead, where does that leave them? Alive with no mom.
I have to forgive myself for not remembering that I have the right to take care of myself. It doesn’t make me selfish and it doesn’t make me a narcissist like him.
How dare I treat my children’s mother like I did? That is how I have to look at it. If I just say me me me, I feel self centered. If I put it in terms of my children’s mother, suddenly it makes it a completely different thing.

NYC Chump
NYC Chump
10 years ago

Thank you Looking and ChumpLady for addressing this subject. My ex husband cheated on me twice before we got married and, being the Spackle Queen, I married him anyway. As I was planning a surprise birthday, I found he set up personal ads on two websites a few years ago. I mistakenly believed his blame-shifting.

Fast forward a couple of years and a three-month old baby, I was traded in for a younger model after 8 humiliating pick-me dance months. I am Super Chump trying hard to forgive myself – it’s a daily challenge. Only advice I can add is to be gentle with yourself!

Miss Sunshine
Miss Sunshine
10 years ago
Reply to  NYC Chump

You made a mistake in believing he could love you. He can’t. He’s doesn’t understand what love is. You have a boundary. Congratulations! Well done! Now, try to figure out why you did what you did, and then forgive yourself and move on. One day you will pity him, for he is disordered in the head, and nobody can fix him. Never believe a single word he says, and only believe about half of what he does, and only if he’s consistent.

ChumpyLawyer
ChumpyLawyer
10 years ago

This is so timely. Divorce is finally filed and i’m going over evidence preparing for discovery and i’m floored. Everything he did was purposeful, measured and calculated. He never revealed too much, he had everything planned from the beginning. It puts it all in perspective now. His abusive and out of line behavior, throughout the whole marriage, which I always chalked up to stupidity or immaturity, was PURPOSEFUL. It was one big con- the whole relationship. And I think that what Chump Lady is talking about. Not forgiving ourselves for being good people. It’s forgiving ourselves for falling for the con. For buying the oceanfront property in Utah.

I’m not there yet. I don’t have any interest in forgiving him. And there is a part of me that thinks all those good qualities- the loyalty, forgiveness, trying to keep together my family for the kids- I put too much stock into them. Maybe too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

Maybe its wrong but i’m going to put more effort into cultivating my selfishness, my cruelty, my vindictiveness. I’m going to learn to reward good with good and God help the next motherfucker that messes with me.

Deborah
Deborah
10 years ago
Reply to  ChumpyLawyer

Chumpy Lawyer,
You hit the nail on the head. It was all calculated and a con job. It’s so amazing but true. This is what they do.

All you have to do going forward is keep your eyes and ears open and really see and hear what’s going on. It’s really that simple now that you see what happens when you pass over these things that may seem little at the time. They are not.

The minute someone makes you go WTF? or that doesn’t make any sense. RUN!!!

Healthy people make sense, their actions and words make sense. They communicate properly and clearly and openly. If it doesn’t make sense it’s nonsense.

Looking back I feel like I was living in a 3 stooges movie. I personally can’t stand the 3 Stooges.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  Deborah

Oh my goodness, Deborah, you hit it on the head. I HATE the 3 Stooges. And yes, my life with ex was like a 3 Stooges movie with all the confusion, misdirection and subterfuge he tried to create along with his 2 OW, all the silly shenanigans, the comings and goings at work and even in our own home.

You know that old skit they did, which I absolutely despised? “Who’s on first, what’s on second” — and it went on and on ridiculously, sort of like my ex’s affairs while I failed to see what was right in front of my face.

Almost the minute I met my now-fiance, I was stunned how he communicated, THAT he communicated, talked things over, made sense about things large and small, thought about things whether mundane or earth-shattering, and wanted to talk about them with me….ME! Wanted to know what I thought. Realizing that a normal man has an inner working thought process about more than just himself was incredible. What a breath of fresh air after decades with Moe, Larry and Curly.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  ChumpyLawyer

I’m reading your comment, Chumpylawyer (and yes I am a chumpy lawyer too)….he never revealed too much, planned it all from the beginning, check- check. I thought it was just that he was stupid or immature, but found it was all purposeful, check again. Realizing after D-Day, with a slow, cold knowing, that it was all a con. Check again. It’s like we’ve all lived the same life.

MMargaret
MMargaret
10 years ago
Reply to  ChumpyLawyer

My ex wanted me to believe he was stupid and immature! It was the alternative to believing that he was calculating and purposeful. Sure took a long time to see through the “poor guy who made a mistake” nonsense he pulled because he did a lot of “feel sorry for me because I do stupid things that make you angry”. Oh how he loved me! It was learning to see that what he did was telling the truth – and what he said was all smokescreen. By the time I saw it, I was thoroughly battered without him ever physically abusing me, and I was in bed with months’ long depression unable to leave. He had me pinned like a butterfly. But – I got away. And forgiving myself was so hard, because he was able to hurt me so much that I was disabled, temporarily, from seeing it and getting away sooner. And I too had to pretend everything was fine (lying to him) until I was able to leave. He was a streetwise guy and I – am not – but I pulled it off beautifully. I felt guilty for that! But now – joy oh joy – I’m proud of myself for the way I did it.

heartbroken
heartbroken
10 years ago
Reply to  MMargaret

Hey, how was it that you pulled off this beautifully planned escape? I’m struggling with trying to plan my exit, mostly because I don’t make squat in comparison to him and we’re not married so his assets are really just his…. I propose CL does a post on escape tips. I feel so clueless.

MMargaret
MMargaret
10 years ago
Reply to  heartbroken

Heartbroken, it was hard to escape and I wasn’t sure I could. I lined things up quietly even when I wavered and thought the marriage might work. It was two years of acting like a double agent in a spy movie. Even my closest friend had to be kept free of the burden of knowing my escape was imminent (the last two weeks) because my STBX would sense if my conversations with people were missing something. It was very uncomfortable because it felt like I was letting friends down. Also, it is very hard when there were many, many opinions out there saying that the only honourable thing is to tell the STBX I was leaving – or else be regarded as some kind of cheat or a coward. I got over that by reminding myself that ten years of talking to him got nowhere and this would be no different. I saved myself the bother and potential danger by getting out by stealth. By the time he found the note with my wedding ring on top I was thousands of miles away. Boy was he mad! No Contact was sweet.

ANC
ANC
10 years ago
Reply to  ChumpyLawyer

Sums it up pretty well.
I forgive myself for being used. And am happy to be working through all the issues about this crap and my vulnerabilities with my paid friend, the therapist. I gladly spend his income on rediscovering the person I was and the stronger person I am becoming. He is not happy with his lost control over me. He’ll be even unhappier when his facade is legally shattered too. I’m not vengeful, but I am no longer his unsuspecting tool.

David
David
10 years ago

Some chumps, and Chump Son is one of them, are very forgiving of others but have a hard time forgiving themselves. During bad relationships, they make excuses for others’ abuse. And after those relationships end, they beat up on themselves for having let the abuse continue. For that sub-set of Chumps, this is a very good post. May not apply to all, but it certainly applies to some of us. Certainly applies to me!

Further, for some of us, we can know intellectually that we were not at fault, but it can take a long time for feelings to catch up to thoughts. Chumps are caretakers, but some of us forget to take enough care of ourselves.

In any case, today’s message worked very well for Chump Son.

Lyn
Lyn
10 years ago
Reply to  David

Me too!

anotherErica
anotherErica
10 years ago
Reply to  David

Do you think we have a hard time forgiving ourselves because we spent probably most of our relationship with our cheater blaming ourselves for their unhappiness? The fact that nothing we ever did was good enough was OUR fault. I actually felt like I was a mean person because I wasn’t jumping up and down for joy to serve my ex in the way he expected to be served. It didn’t enter my mind that what he was asking was ridiculous. So, we’re used to blaming ourselves anyway, and then the cheating happens and we continue to blame ourselves. Especially because some of those damn books out there tell us we need look at how we contributed to the cheating. I think it is all of those things. When you are used to blaming yourselves all the time, never having anyone else admit to anything being their fault you just get used to taking on the blame and guilt and never get any of that forgiveness relief. The cheater wasn’t typically one who apologized for anything. At least mine wasn’t.

Lyn
Lyn
10 years ago
Reply to  anotherErica

I definitely felt like this was what happened in my relationship. My ex was so driven, always looking for the next big thing to make himself happy, but no matter how much he attained he was still unhappy.

thensome
thensome
10 years ago
Reply to  Lyn

My STBX said I “didn’t appreciate” him. And he was also a very driven, workaholic. I did my best to make him happy but I wouldn’t worship at the altar that was him. He would buy expensive crap and nope, didn’t make him happy. I have no idea what does to be honest.

Nor do I care. What a relief that is. Too many years of trying to figure that out nearly ended me.

David
David
10 years ago
Reply to  anotherErica

There are some folks who get a charge out of making other peolpe happy. Chumps have that quality, but it makes us vulnerable to others who are inherently “takers” and who are not thankful.

Best to find folks who appreciate what you do for them. Best, too, to develop limits as to what you think you can do to solve others’ problems.

ChumpyLawyer
ChumpyLawyer
10 years ago
Reply to  anotherErica

With these people all they know is how to take. Nothing is enough. Some of us chumps are co-dependant. Some like me are not used to giving up. It’s not until we realize that these people are not WORTH the effort that we move on.

anotherErica
anotherErica
10 years ago

“Being cheated on sucks. The pain is a motherfucker. But it’s one hell of a growth opportunity”

Yes, THIS. I’ve actually said many times that I’m pissed it took being cheated on to get me to think about myself in any kind of meaningful way. Maybe I didn’t look because I never thought I would like what I would see. Because I thought I was a grumpy, not that nice person. Because that is how my ex made me feel because I was always raining on his parade. And I’ve always been critical of myself, since before I met my ex. I’ve never been good at accepting compliments… either downplayed them or completely negated them, actually. So, I think I avoided looking at myself and I avoided looking objectively at my life and whether I was happy. I was like an ostrich with my head stuck in the sand. And then this shit happened.

So, in a way, I am glad for it. Because I know it would have had to be something this horrible to get me to pull my head up and take a look around. And take a look at myself. But yes, sometimes it is hard to acknowledge that I was willing to settle for so little from him and that I didn’t even realize how little I was getting. But it is what it is. And I do have some good things, like my kids, to show for it. And, like you say, it has definitely been one hell of a growth opportunity.

13YEARCHUMP
13YEARCHUMP
10 years ago

I found this some where:
“If I have given my all, if I have tried my best, if I have done everything in my power to make something succeed over a significant period of time and it still isn’t working… then I have to be honest with myself, put my ego aside, and admit that maybe this is not the right path for me… that maybe… it is time to give up… and that my Higher Power is trying to point me in a different direction… a better direction… my true spiritual path that I am choosing to ignore by being resistant to giving in due to my own stubborn self-will”

Lyn
Lyn
10 years ago

For 30+ years I supported my husband’s career, stayed at home while he traveled, ran my own business and handled the majority of child care. I sacrificed a lot but thought I was contributing to our family’s welfare and would one day reap the rewards. I dreamed of being able to travel with my husband, of living a more comfortable life, of finally getting to spend more time him.

I wish I could go back and tell the younger version of myself that her dreams are just as important as his. I wish I could tell her that sacrificing herself will not be appreciated by anyone, not even herself.

I know one thing — more than anyone, I deserve my own love and protection. I will never abandon myself again.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  Lyn

I know one thing — more than anyone, I deserve my own love and protection. I will never abandon myself again.

Beautiful and so true, Lyn.

jinxxy
jinxxy
10 years ago
Reply to  Lyn

Thirty plus years, I can relate.

hate_narcissists
hate_narcissists
10 years ago

How’s this for a mindfuck: my cheater told me he’s the one who’s forgiving me for being such a shitty spouse. I kid you not.

Lyn
Lyn
10 years ago

That’s what they do. Mine seemed to blame everything on me and actually wanted me to feel sorry for him.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago

Stupid fuck, yes, go NC on his sociopathic ass.

Miss Sunshine
Miss Sunshine
10 years ago

That’s why NC is really the way to go. Fuck him. Don’t let him in your head. He’s being shitty on purpose to hurt you and pull you down. Or, he’s just trying to justify in his own tiny, navel-gazing brain what he did. Either way, fuck him.

Go NC for your own sanity.

jinxxy
jinxxy
10 years ago

I’m one that stayed for the kids and I have no regrets. His was cold, flippant and cruel, but this guy made bank and I wanted to make sure my kids got the benefits of his dough. I was a chump, but not a wilting lilly. He did a lot of shitz and when I caught on to the game I did what I needed to do for my family! He missed out on bright, intelligent adults who have seen God work through me. Ex’s loss not mine!
And that’s not all, I still managed to live a good life though my marriage was often lonely and I was neglected. I tried to reconcile, I did the pick me dance, I prayed, cried, did all those things, and I am not ashamed. I was a good wife, his loss not mine! Longevity is in my blood and if God chooses I can live snother 30 years in excellent healtn and a vibrant life.

That being said, I forgive him. There is just to much to do, things to see, I cant waste any more time. I don’t expect a pleasant easy divorce, but I’m not going to loose precious time dwelling in it either.

heartbroken
heartbroken
10 years ago
Reply to  jinxxy

I hope you shuffled money and took enough from bank accounts to walk away with plenty.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  jinxxy

Sounds like you got this jinxxy, Godspeed to you.

Giovanna
Giovanna
10 years ago

I decided ten can play this game. I get money out of my ex. He knows that I will only talk to him if he gives me money. The second he quits is the second I never speak to him again. Him and the OW got great jobs at Yale and bought a house on the ocean. He told me I was his second wife when we got married. I was his FIFTH!! Then after a near deadly bout with cancer he INSISTED we renew our vows. Three months later I caught him sneaking off to fuck the skank librarian at the Econo Lodge. Ha! She thinks she got a real deal. Can’t wait until the Karma Bus shows up on their street. It won’t take long.

RisingPhoenix
RisingPhoenix
10 years ago

I did see this post today and could not help to think how much in common it has with Us. Maybe for a future Us Chumps should learn lesson from this little quote, we all feel sorry for our cheaters, nurture them and at the end… Sad but true!
A snake was hit by a car. A woman picks him up, feeds him and gets him to a full state of health. But then he bites her injecting her w. his deadly venom. On her death bed she asks the snake “After all I did for you, why did you bite me”? The snake says “You knew I was snake when you picked me up ….

Deborah
Deborah
10 years ago
Reply to  RisingPhoenix

Nice One, Rising Phoenix!
That quote goes right back to not trying to untangle the skin. They are what they are and they ain’t gonna change, so don’t question it.

If you don’t want that for yourself, you must figure out why you keep going back to it and then change that part of yourself so you stop getting bit by snakes!

It’s funny how simple it all really is.

RisingPhoenix
RisingPhoenix
10 years ago
Reply to  Deborah

Thanks Deborah, this one for sure has a place on my fridge as a note to future Me :).

Nat1
Nat1
10 years ago

I have been thinking about this post for a few days now. I guess in an effort to unravel the skein I have been trying to work out how much of a bitch I was so that at least then I could understand what just happened to us. I wasn’t happy about it being my fault but at least that would explain it all, right? I still don’t know if I emotionally abused him, I could be pretty nasty. I don’t know if I am a narc, I read and I do wonder. Marriage was just never what I thought. Right from the beginning he wouldn’t talk to me, he would let me make the plans, organise everything, make all the decisions. I thought then he was unimaginative, maybe he was indifferent, but it looks like I was controlling doesn’t it? I didn’t care about his dreams….even though he never told me what they were. He never told me he was unhappy, even when I was telling him how unhappy I was. Maybe I talked him into it. He said he just wasn’t that complicated….

So after 15 months separated I read my journals from 2000-2004. I figured there might be answers, explanations, signs. I have avoided opening them until after I read this post.

How can a person be so hard onthemselves. I am ashamed of how cruel I was (and am if truth be told) to myself. So miserable and alone and confused. In 2002 I discovered a betrayal. No OW, just lies and deception. I remember it, but back then I felt….cheated and abused. Betrayed. We almost broke up then. Our children were little. I was working one day a week after having a new born baby because he’d lost his job. I figured I need to be more forgiving. So we slept apart for awhile. I was angry for a long while. But you know eventually habit prevailed. It was never quite the same though.

There were always little indiscretions, evidence of him being selfish. I didn’t let him get away with much though. I was a bitch! He always blamed me for having trust issues. Actually I do have trust issues. But I did trust him. I thought he was just dumb! I never got over that betrayal though. And he never stopped betraying me, right up to the bitter end.

How can I take responsibilty for that? And to have treated myself so badly as well…I gave him permission to do the same didn’t I?

I am working on forgiving myself. He doesn’t come into anymore I have decided. I am going to start being kinder to myself now.

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago
Reply to  Nat1

Oh Nat1, I too kept a journal between 2000-2004. My youngest was a baby, and I was convinced my ex was having an affair with 2 co-workers. I was a crazy “bitch” to him, and he swore and swore it wasn’t true. I was miserable, and we fought and fought. I saw some incongruent things, but had no real proof but my gut. Finally he convinced me he was telling the truth, and I moved on, and threw away my “crazy” journals. But I became depressed and unhappy without “knowing why”

15 years later, my D-day hit, and I found out he had been lying all along. He had been having affairs with those women, and the extent of the deceit was mind-blowing.

We weren’t bitches, we weren’t crazy, we were RIGHT. Our only fault? Believing them, desperately holding on to a relationship that wasn’t rewarding FOR US, staying as long as we did. Screw them, they don’t signify or deserve our analysis of whether we were “bitches” to them. They were lying and cheating and we sensed it and were distraught, jealous, upset, we were supposed to be. The question is, why we accepted so little and trusted and valued ourselves not at all while they used and abused us. I wish I had my journals back. It would have been so instructive to read them, knowing I was right all along.

I have forgiven myself most days.

Mary
Mary
9 years ago

We are hard on ourselves about forgiveness. We are eating the poison and expect our EX to die from it, forgiveness is about acceptance (because we cannot control them), learning from it and let go (the sooner, the better!!). Not an easy task but doable. I have been married for 17 years and my husband started to cheat on me when I was pregnant with my second child. Of course, he denied it… I was the “crazy one” and paranoid but your gut feelings never fail you. I searched, dig and found all the information I needed to prove the adultery; e-mails, second cell phone, online profiles, airline ticket… At that time, I went to see a lawyer twice, he sent me back home saying I was too emotionally broken and not ready to have a divorce. What I needed right now was a shrink. I was a totally broken, just gave birth and with already a 3 year old. I told my husband to leave but after a month, I asked him to come back home. It was very difficult me with a new baby, I didn’t have strength. I asked to reconcile and gave him all the documents I gathered to prove the adultery (yes the gold medal goes to me, real chump) to show how sincere I was because I wanted to save my marriage and was willing to go to counselling. He never was consistent about the counselling but I continued going because I needed help to heal. A few years passed by and I got pregnant. I did not want to have another child because my last pregnancy was a nightmare with the cheating and all (I was so stressed out I did not have milk to breastfeed my child…) I told my husband that I wasn’t ready to have another child with him since are relationship is very fragile. I wanted to have an abortion. He thought I would change my mind but I never did, the day he brought me to the clinic, he never came back to get me, I went back home all drugged up and alone. Weeks were passing by and guess what he did to “punish me” again, he cheated, blame me for the abortion. I thought I would have a nervous breakdown when I discovered it, I was crushed, again. That was 2 years ago; I did not want to destroy myself for him it is not worth it. I needed strength and determination for me and my kids. I convinced him to have a post nuptial agreement (I didn’t include a clause a infidelity so I can leave whenever I want whatever the reason and he has to respect the agreement) it wasn’t easy but he accepted (my STBXH never thought I would leave him, VERY BIG EGO). For him the postnup was a way to make peace again, he was trying to repair the broken pieces, for 9 months. After 9 months, he said to me that he had enough of working things out and I still do not trust him and he is doing is best and I didn’t forgive him. Can you believe!? HE HAD ENOUGH!! Well, it is true, I didn’t trust him anymore and was becoming was becoming a private investigator tailing his every move, waiting for him to cave again. He decided to be distant and started to travel more and more to be away from me and kids, we separated and I filed for divorce. I forgive myself for giving my husband a second chance instead of listening to my inner being. Strength and determination, move forward, never look back, be in peace. Blessings to all of you 