I Want the Flowers

@catmusicvideo #fyp #cat #meme ♬ Flowers – Miley Cyrus

Dear Chump Lady,

I feel like I’ve failed. I’ve had more D-Days than I can count in the 16 years FW and I have been together, but I keep coming back. Last time I got proof (via one of those Kik scammers because he wouldn’t pay them $300 so they sent everyone in his contacts the nudes he sent them — not even good ones either) something clicked and I kicked him out.

I lasted two weeks.

In that time, he got all the support from his family and all our friends, and I got the never-ending shit sandwiches of raising our two medically compromised teen boys by myself, 100% of all pet care, 100% of all cooking and housework, and 0% of any support or friendship from anyone. Any of my friends I reached out to (most of whom I have dropped everything for at some point or another) basically shrugged me off or ignored me. My family responded by calling Children’s Aid on me (this is also the family who informed me I ‘would never do better than FW when I tried to talk to them about some of the issues I’ve been dealing with).

I couldn’t handle being alone. And the thought of dating in the future horrified me from what I’ve seen on apps and such. I brought him back, because I couldn’t handle one more shit sandwich. And I’m still miserable. But I worked with the “Better the Devil you Know” theory.

How is it he gets to cheat for literally our entire relationship and marriage, and his family cuts ME off when he gets kicked out and crawls back?! My children’s grandparents didn’t reach out once to see how any of us were doing. They invited my children over for Easter with FW and them the weekend he moved back in. No mention of me coming. So I got to make a full dinner for my kids, FW and myself the night prior to Easter just so I could have something to celebrate with my kids.

Now today, it’s Administrative Professionals Day here in Canada, and while I know it’s a silly made up holiday, my father-in-law always sends his wife, daughter and myself flowers as we’re all under that umbrella. I didn’t get the damn flowers. And I’m upset by it. I know it’s ridiculous, but my running joke has always been about how much I love getting those flowers, because my husband sure as hell never gets me any. I’ve bought myself flowers more often than my husband ever has. Miley would be proud. But it’s just another shit sandwich flung at me.

I know they’re not really my family, they’re FW’s family, but they’ve been MY family for the last 15 years. And it’s becoming pretty obvious I mean as little to them as I do to FW.

But its reasons like this I keep taking him back. I keep thinking about how alone I am, and how he gets to go on like nothing is wrong, and has all the support and friends, and I’m the one stuck holding the bag of all the responsibility while feeling like unloveable trash.

I’m trying to make an exit plan, and get some money saved away (apparently FW had time to set up a bank account for himself while he wasn’t parenting or having any responsibilities here), but it’s looking like probably another two years or so until I might be able to make a move for a divorce lawyer. I’ve read LACGAL a few times now, but I’m trying to figure out how to survive until then. If you’ve got any advice, I’d love some, because I keep making the same mistakes, but this time when I tried making a change, I not only kicked out FW, but apparently also any support I had thought I had too.

I know some of it will be “get new friends” but it’s harder than that when you’re in a small town and you’re pretty sure half the county has seen your husband’s junk at this point. I’m thinking I’ll need a fresh start somewhere new, especially with housing prices what they are here, so I guess my big questions are, how do you finally get the balls to do it on your own? And any advice for picking up and moving your life somewhere new for a fresh start? I’d love some of your wisdom and that of Chump Nation. Especially those who’ve picked up their life and moved it, or had to get through ridiculous one year separation rules.

Thanks for reading my word vomit.

Ms. I Can Buy Myself Flowers

***

Dear I Can Buy Myself Flowers,

Forget the floral bouquets and buy yourself an hour with an attorney. Research all the Canadian domestic abuse organizations and see what your local organization can do to help you make a plan. You need some professionals in your corner.

I assume if you’re celebrating administrative assistant day, you have a job? (And this isn’t some sick joke from your FIL about women being men’s personal assistants.) If so, that’s great news. FWs count on their chumps to be economically vulnerable and it’s a leading reason people don’t leave abusive relationships.

There was an opinion piece in the Washington Post recently on how money was the “overlooked” reason women don’t leave abusers.

There’s often speculation — much of it harmful — about why women “stay” in abusive relationships. But one simple reason is consistently overlooked: They can’t afford to leave.

Relationship abuse, which affects 1 in 3 American women, is about more than physical violence. It is a pattern of coercion and control that can include emotional abuse, sexual assault, and efforts to isolate and control a partner not only socially but also financially. In countless testimonies, survivors tell of being financially trapped in abusive relationships.

And…

Economic abuse can take many forms, from persuading or forcing a partner to quit their job to slowly undermining their work by making them late, sabotaging important projects, or showing up at their workplace and causing a scene. Abusers might control a partner’s finances, prevent them from having their own bank account or even outright steal money from them.

Financial abuse goes hand and hand with infidelity, as a bazillion stories on this blog can attest. Please see start seeing this situation as what it is — abuse.

You’re trying to leave an abusive relationship.

Begin there. Put all the noise about flowers and shitty in-laws out of your head for a moment. Reframe this. You’re in an abusive relationship. The cheating, the money, the family bullying, the extreme lopsidedness of your investment vs. his on every front — abuse.

Once you see it for what it is, give yourself permission to ask for help. From PROFESSIONALS. A lawyer. A domestic abuse organization. Your friends and family are not neutral on the subject. (More on that in a moment.)

I don’t know your finances, and I never want to be blithe about the real monetary hardships of divorce — but this is a crisis. If a tornado hits your house, you don’t stop and think “Can I afford to seek shelter? How much do tents cost?” No, you get the hell away from danger.

(apparently FW had time to set up a bank account for himself while he wasn’t parenting or having any responsibilities here)

So, he’s cheating and when you kicked him out, he set up his own bank account. What makes you think you’ve got two years? What makes you certain he’s not (probably with the help of his family) going to leave you first? Because he begs to come back? Cake and consequence avoidance. These people turn quickly to abandonment. (Not to be alarmist, but some of them turn to violence.) GET IN FRONT OF THIS.

A lawyer can start divorce proceeding and get immediate temporary support orders. You have no idea what your options are until you speak to professionals.

Every day I am amazed and filled with admiration for chumps who leave under the most challenging circumstances. While pregnant, in the middle of school, with special needs kids. A remember a guy here who lived in his truck for months. A lot of people move in with family or couch surf. To be chumped is to be a refugee. But it’s not forever.

The ones who leave trust themselves. They’ve had enough. If someone is going to captain this ship, they figure, better me than a fuckwit, right? It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you’re not burdened with abuse.

Lining up ducks is fine, but it can also be an excuse for hopium. Oh, I’ll just wait until the stars align. That’s a very scary Wall of Pain. I don’t feel like scaling it right now. Or ever. 

The Wall of Pain just gets taller and harder to climb. Pole vault now, is my advice. YES even if you feel you can’t afford it. The number one lament at Chump Nation is “I wish I’d left sooner.”

Now to some particulars of your letter.

Any of my friends I reached out to (most of whom I have dropped everything for at some point or another) basically shrugged me off or ignored me.

They might have compassion fatigue. Have they seen you try to leave this guy before and taken him back? They may have given up, and figure you don’t mean it, and don’t want to be burned. It takes a woman, on average, seven attempts to leave an abuser. People tend to not have a lot of perspective on this. If they care about you, they hate him. They probably feel it should be obvious you should hate him too. They feel powerless to help.

So, get your support elsewhere. Call those professionals. And when you need 24/7 handholding (no shame in it!) get on our online support communities here at CN. Chumps understand.

My family responded by calling Children’s Aid on me (this is also the family who informed me I ‘would never do better than FW when I tried to talk to them about some of the issues I’ve been dealing with).

This is alarming. Did they call Children’s Aid because you took him back? Or because you left him? Do they truly believe your children are in danger? I’m unclear. If they think you can’t do better than FW, then I’m guessing they’re upset you threw him out. If so, egads. They suck. Go no contact with them until you sort this all out. (Or maybe forever.) And then maybe some deep therapy, or good books, connecting the dots between a shitty, unsupportive family and 16 years in an abusive marriage.

I couldn’t handle being alone.

You are alone.

You are worse than alone. You’re with a man who is constantly devaluing you. “You can’t handle being alone” aka “You need me” is a mindfuck. You need a cheater like you need sepsis or raccoons in your chimney. Fact is, you ARE handling everything alone. 100% of everything.

Subtract the FW. And change the internal script.

And the thought of dating in the future horrified me from what I’ve seen on apps and such.

You’re thinking way too far ahead. As I’ve said here before, you could swing a cat and hit someone better than your husband. The odds your husband is a cheater? 100%. The odds of a stranger? Not 100%. Anyway, people’s insipid dating profiles are no reason to stay with a cheater.

I brought him back, because I couldn’t handle one more shit sandwich.

Uh, this guy is the lunch lady of shit sandwiches at the crap cafeteria.

But I worked with the “Better the Devil you Know” theory.

Better not to know Devils or keep them in your life.

Also this is pure hopium-speak. Along with “I can quit anytime” and “What’s one more marriage retreat?”

How is it he gets to cheat for literally our entire relationship and marriage, and his family cuts ME off when he gets kicked out and crawls back?!

You got uppity and must be punished. I don’t know, but why untangle their ugly little skeins. Is this acceptable to you? Do you want to hang out with this band of losers?

No mention of me coming. So I got to make a full dinner for my kids, FW and myself the night prior to Easter just so I could have something to celebrate with my kids.

So imagine next year, cooking Easter dinner for yourself and the kids — plus the added joy of not having to cook for a jerk or be rejected by his family. Doesn’t that sound BETTER?

Why are you exerting effort after they made this giant effort to SNUB you? If they’re going to do separate holidays, you’re already divorced. Do this shit on YOUR terms, not theirs.

If you’ve got any advice, I’d love some,

Yes. Go see that lawyer and call those helplines. Then buy yourself a big, gorgeous bouquet of fuck-this-shit-forget-me-nots.

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MichelleShocked
MichelleShocked
1 year ago

I’m glad CL had advice here because this is an overwhelming scenario to be sure. But her advice to get help for FW’s abuse is the best place to start.

“I Can Buy Myself Flowers,” you are stuck financially, physically and mentally… but there are services that can help you get started right away to get free. This is absolutely abuse. Please focus on what’s most important — getting free of this FW and getting financial and physical security for yourself and your kids. Hopefully services available in your area can get you legal support and therapy as part of it. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with such an awful situation. The friends and family piece stinks … but you can only deal with so much at a time.

Elsie
Elsie
1 year ago

It’s rough to launch into the unknown. My ex was newly retired, and I had essentially been a SAHM. He ran into his family’s arms and turned them against me. I wondered if I would become homeless and if our college kids would have to quit school.

It all worked out. It took a long time, including two years of below-poverty wages. He thought that if we sold the house, it would force us back to him. It didn’t. Both kids scrambled, worked two jobs each, and got scholarships. Despite all the drama, I hired a superstar legal team who got it done with a good settlement. I figured out my employment, and the kids graduated from college.

He underestimated me. I learned that his family only likes you if you fit certain parameters. They are reportedly waiting for me to come back because “time heals all wounds.” They only know a fraction of what went on and are not safe people themselves, so that’s not going to happen. I am all business with my ex whom I have almost no contact with.

cuzchump
cuzchump
1 year ago

Take Chumplady’s advice. If he opened up his own bank account . He is most likely getting his ducks in a row and most likely will leave. Ask me how I know? When I found out about Skankella(ATA my cousin) I was an emotional wreck. I kicked him out only to ask him to come back and work on the marriage. Fast forward 8 months. I was served with divorce papers on my birthday. At that time I only had $300.00 to my name. He opened an account. He was stashing cash($20,000) in his parents safe. While I was paying all the bills and trying to work on the marriage. He never stopped seeing Skankella. He made sure he set himself up financially. I was blindsided and scared to death. What was I going to do with my cat ad my horses? They would be left homeless or I would have to rehome them. My ex stopped the divorce. I used that to my advantage. I opened an account in my name. Made him pay most of the bills. Stashed my own cash. And I filed for divorce and I was able to keep the house.
Do not trust your husband. He sure does not put your best interests at heart.

Maisie
Maisie
1 year ago

Take it from someone who has been deemed “uppity” within her FOO and told to take what it given to you because you cant find any better (ie- you are damaged goods and you don’t deserve anything), get him and the ones who devalue you out of your life now. You will be better off .

Lizza Lee
Lizza Lee
1 year ago

Ms. Buying Flowers, his family are not your people. I was married for 25 years to an asshat. His family lives in the area. Neither I nor my kids heard from them again after the divorce. Well, there was that one time his mother demanded a variance from the custody agreement to suit her Christmas plans. It was a no, and I never heard from any of them again. You need to have zero expectations from them.

Look, it’s hard to overcome a terrible family of origin and an abusive marriage. That stuff SUCKS. But you CAN do it. You’re already alone and the answer is not a new relationship. The answer is professionals who can guide you over that wall of pain. I know it seems insurmountable, but you CAN do it. I’ve done it. Chump Lady has done it. All the chumps here who are cheering you on have done it. It’s Monday morning. Start by researching help for victims of spousal abuse and make those phone calls today.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 year ago
Reply to  Lizza Lee

God, it makes me almost grateful most of my in-laws were awful from the get-go. No chance of investing in those relationships so no love lost.

Motherchumper99
Motherchumper99
1 year ago
Reply to  Lizza Lee

My ex in laws also never spoke to me or my kids/their grandkids again – 25 years of being a devoted, loving daughter in law…. That was worth nothing to them.

Angry
Angry
1 year ago

I think I needed to see this post by Chumplady today, because it’s what I’m currently struggling with! I was with my ex husband for 15 years and my ex in laws cut me off as soon as it came out that my ex had been cheating on me. This is especially painful as we share a child together, who passed away, and I found out my ex-in laws are doing some fundraising in his memory and didn’t include me or my family (or ask if it was okay!). It just all hurts.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 year ago

Motherchumper99, wow, they went NC with their GRANDCHILDREN? I’ve read a lot of posts on this site, so really nothing should surprise me, but I guess I’m not as unshockable as I should be.

Exofanaddict
Exofanaddict
1 year ago

35 yrs here, mother of their grandson and nephew, not even a card on mothers day although I sent ex mil one. It sucks but reassuring this is the pattern.

Beth
Beth
1 year ago

Same. Ex and I were together 30+ years. I haven’t spoken to my ex MIL at all in the decade since ex told her we were divorcing. I have to say though, that far from feeling bad about that, I consider it one of the biggest bonuses of LACGAL. The relief of never having to deal with her again is exquisite.

MightyWarrior
MightyWarrior
1 year ago
Reply to  Beth

Same here Beth. 26 years and the joy of never having to bother about or have any contact with that strongly narcissistic woman is unbelievable. It has improved my mental health immeasurably. The only communication I received from the in-laws after I was dumped berated me and my recently widowed mother for failing to send them Christmas cards when they had sent us Christmas cards. The first Christmas after my dad died and I was dumped, we didn’t send cards to anyone! Suicidal people tend not to feel much like celebrating Christmas. I was supposed to do what the brothers’ dumped wives did, and keep up the facade of caring to the end of time. The other women have their own reasons for keeping contact, in one case, now adult children with an eye on an inheritance. The pleasure of not having to see or hear that woman’s truly ugly personage is life enriching. In truth, I endured her because I loved the FW. That’s what we do, isn’t it!

Brit
Brit
1 year ago

Same, I considered his sisters the sisters I never had. One sister I considered a best friend. I was in her wedding and she was in mine. I also thought I was close to my brother in law. He called me crying to tell me he was gay before he told anyone in the family. When Dday hit, I was shocked (although I shouldn’t have been) in my frantic state, I called the sister who I thought was a close friend, she didn’t answer her phone, I then called my brother in law. he told me not to call him, he didn’t want to talk to me ever again. After 25 years of yearly vacations together, mailing gifts every Christmas and birthdays, regular phone calls.
Just like that, I had no value, done. Like you, all the effort to be a family meant nothing..

ICanSeeTheMehComing!
ICanSeeTheMehComing!
1 year ago

Considering they raised your fuckwit, are you really surprised?

Dirty Water
Dirty Water
1 year ago

Same here. Their loss.

portia
portia
1 year ago

When I was a little girl, I observed my parents and my grandparents. I figured out the strength and power of having your own money, even if it is not much. My grandmothers never worked outside of the home, never had a paycheck, couldn’t drive, married young, had children. They were entirely dependent on their husbands. My mother escaped that life by being lucky enough to go to school and work. Still, she took crap from my dad for years because of her FOO upbringing. She had some influence, could drive, and had her own money because she worked. She was marginally better off than her mother for that one reason. As a child I rejected all the FOO input about a woman’s place, and decided I would be educated, would work, and I would always have my own money. My mother advised me to always stash some cash. She knew, even if she would not discuss it, that having the means to be independent was essential to being able to be independent.

Many years later, I am in the last part of my life. Even with the decisions I made early, it was not easy. Now, I am not particularly interested in dating or marriage. But I would never consider either unless the man had at least as much as I have. I own my own home, my car, I have a pension and health insurance, and savings for a rainy day. I pay my bills and have excellent credit. Why would I consider a man who had not come at least this far by the time he retired? I raised my children, I lived through many hard times. I put one foot in front of the other and looked at one day at a time because I had to, sometimes. But I kept my eye on the prize — freedom and peace. I was lucky. Many times, I sensed things could have gone in the other direction. I held on tight to hope.

I am not bragging. I am saying it is possible, in one generation, to change your status from dependent to independent. You have to believe you can do this. This is why I reject the concept of benevolent patriarchy. Even if you find a man who does value you, he can die. Then what? Don’t count on Prince Charming to ride in and solve your problems. Put on your walking shoes, seek true friends and supporters with a common vision, and get moving. Nothing will change unless you change. Believe you can make it. Let’s be harsh for a minute — if you fail, will you be any worse off than you are dependent on a cheater? I think not.

Gorilla poop
Gorilla poop
1 year ago
Reply to  portia

I somehow distorted my dad’s advice to never depend on a man, and turned it into ‘if you want a family, never expect a man to step up and be a true partner.’ So my 80/20 marriage was the price I paid to have kids. A sperm bank would have been a better investment.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 year ago
Reply to  portia

Portia, why can’t I like this post 1 million times??? My parents’ marriage caused me to decide in my mid teens that I never wanted to be in a position where I had to put up with a man I didn’t want to put up with. So I got my 4 year degree, saved money, contributed to 401Ks, and established a credit history and work history. There’s been a lot of bumps in my personal road, but I’m doing OK now.

I might add that my mother told me several times that it was OK for a woman not to marry. She married at 18 from her parents’ home without ever being on her own although she did attend college for a semester. Later on, she decided to get her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and started working outside the home. Eventually, after my father became a cheater and a verbally abusive alcoholic, she did leave him and lived alone happily for many years until her death.

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago
Reply to  portia

I love this.

GonnaBeOK
GonnaBeOK
1 year ago
Reply to  portia

I agree with you, portia. My dad told me at 16 that I had to prepare for a good, secure job because there was always a chance I’d get married to an asshole. “You have to be able to take care of yourself”. I pretty much listened (for once), thank God. He also said keep some cash for yourself in case you need to get away. Don’t give up, it can be done – not saying it’s easy – and I’d encourage fellow chumps to consider my dad’s advice for your children.

20th Century Chump
20th Century Chump
1 year ago
Reply to  GonnaBeOK

Wow. While I’m not surprised that a mom would give that advice to a daughter, it’s surprising when it comes from a dad (though it shouldn’t be). Kudos to your dad–and for you to listening to his sage advice.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago
Reply to  portia

I don’t intend to ever marry again, nor am I particularly interested in dating or a romantic relationship. But if by some miracle I did ever get involved with someone again, I would NEVER share a bank account, put him/her on my credit cards, put their name on my house, or anything. My ex was terrible with money, trashed my credit, and left me with almost nothing. I put myself back together, kicked ass at my job and got a promotion/raise/pension, paid off my debts, saved over $20K (after having been in the red every month and having to borrow money from my mom during the divorce), and bought my own home. Sorry, no man is getting access to anything of mine. I’ve worked too damn hard for it. After living for over ten years teetering on the brink of disaster, it’s lovely to be financially stable and independent.

If any young woman getting married ever asked me for advice (it hasn’t happened, but…), I would say, first and foremost, to keep your own money. And to run a credit report on your potential spouse. Yes, some people just fall on hard times and their credit gets screwed. But sometimes it’s a lack of understanding about money, irresponsible spending, etc. My ex thought that if it was in the bank account, it was available to spend. He just couldn’t grasp that it was all earmarked for bills/expenses (I managed the finances). He also had a stack of unpaid bills and collection notices piled in the corner unopened when I met him (he was 27). His way of dealing with it was to ignore it (and blame his ex gf, his parents, anyone but himself for his financial state). I took that pile of bills, made a bunch of phone calls, opened a 0% credit card, and had him debt free in a year. I married him anyway, and spent the next 10 years fighting to keep us afloat. So I agree. If a man doesn’t have his shit together, I’m not interested.

Gorilla poop
Gorilla poop
1 year ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

This was my experience exactly. Only 3 years later, the ex-in-laws came back to sue me for the marital home that they helped us with, on the down payment. They threatened me with foreclosure during COVID so I had to borrow money to get the lien taken off, sell the house, and move their grandkids to a new school district where I can afford to rent. So now I’m back to being in debt and will work my way out of this hole too.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 year ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

ISawTheLight, the credit report advice is excellent! I’d also say, get a private investigator to do a background check.

For example, is the person employed where they say they are? If they say they hold a degree or degrees, is that true? If they say they served in the military, is that true? Do they have reserve obligations? What kind of a discharge did they receive? Have they ever served time in jail or prison? Been sued, or sued others? Have they been married, and if so, are they legally divorced or widowed? If widowed, what were the circumstances of the partner’s death? Do they have children? If so, are they current with child support for those children? Etc., at least to the extent that this information is legally available.

Exofanaddict
Exofanaddict
1 year ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

This could be my story!

Freedom4me
Freedom4me
1 year ago
Reply to  portia

My story is similiar except I’m not quite as prepared as you and am climbing out of the whole. My maternal grandmother was like your grandmothers. My paternal grandmother was different. She divorced her first husband in the fifties for cheating. She worked many jobs and raised her sons by herself. My mother was a sahm for many yrs and started working when we were all older. My dad is a great guy and mom never faced the fate I am. I have felt at times locked into my marriage and worried about things ( never worried about cheating lol) but I raised our daughter to be independent, to not have to worry about who supports her. I have always worked but I was always part time because of kids and miliary deployments I just didn’t. When the kids got older I worked fulltime and to him I never did enough, so even keeping the house and working fulltime wasn’t enough. But now that I am divorced he pays spousal support, I got the house I do it all pay my bills and maintenance etc…. trying to get where I am in my job to not be dependent on anything.

Elsie
Elsie
1 year ago
Reply to  portia

Similar here. I’m finally headed toward retirement and would never, ever consider anyone who hadn’t been responsible and prepared for his own future. I budgeted and cut corners so my ex could retire early, and then he took off. I had some really rough years after that but got through it.

A guy asked me out in February who added that he was looking for a loan as well. There were other red flags. Really?

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 year ago
Reply to  Elsie

Elsie, Hmm! I wonder if this fits the legal definition of solicitation? I’m not a lawyer, but maybe not since he didn’t explicitly offer sex.

Seriously, I find myself wondering if this person is an escort?

Battletempered Lionheart
Battletempered Lionheart
1 year ago
Reply to  Elsie

Elsie,

He was looking for a loan? From you? As in
“Hey baby, wanna go to dinner and a show tonight? My treat. BTW can I borrow $200?”

That’s nuts! But maybe it works on some people, who knows? (Not that it’s O.K.)

ExWifeOfSparkleDick
ExWifeOfSparkleDick
1 year ago
Reply to  portia

Portia, this reminds me of my grandmother. My Grampa died “unexpectedly” (he had had heart problems for decades) and everyone was worried because he died without a will (well, we eventually found it) and my grandmother didn’t have access to money because the accounts were only in his name. I remember my father and uncle discussing this and ignoring her. She kept on trying to get a word in saying “I have money”. They just patted her shoulder saying what she had in her pocketbook wasn’t going to be enough. She finally threw up her hands and screamed, “I HAVE MONEY!!!”. She took them to her hidey hole in the basement and sure enough, she had squirrelled away $50,000.00.
My grandfather was renowned for being a tightwad. He wasn’t a FW, but he’d dole out what he thought she needed weekly to run the house. She just kept a little of it back every time he gave her money. She’d accumulated a tidy little sum over the decades of their marriage in case of emergencies.

portia
portia
1 year ago

I’m glad your grandmother had a hidey hole, and the presence of mind to put back a little of what was doled out to her! I don’t know if I would have shared that info with the other men in the family. It would depend on the man, I suppose. The problem is with the disparity in pay between working men and women, it is actually harder for women to accumulate wealth. Her husband doled out what HE deemed necessary, and so that he would not be inconvenienced by shopping. It has been my experience men who consider themselves the breadwinner never know what the cost of a housekeeper, cook, nanny, driver, or a personal assistant would be. If SAHM would actually be paid for these services, she would not have to worry about having savings and a retirement of her own. If you don’t shop you don’t know what the cost of things are, either.

A 50/50 split of costs, or assets is not equitable if one spouse makes a lot more than the other. The question is what quality of life one would have, without the other. A woman needs to have her own resources and should know how to take care of those resources. I would not ever want to be dependent on anyone, and I do not want to be in a relationship with someone who is dependent on me to provide resources. The way retirement and social security works does not recognize the wife’s contribution either. Women often lose income when they have children and take jobs to accommodate taking care of those children. Some employers consider women with children not eligible for some jobs, or promotions, because they may lose time from work being caregivers.

People who ONLY consider money know the price of everything and the value of nothing. But having value that is not quantified in having money is inequitable from the start. You have to have your own money to pay your own cost of living.

chumped48
chumped48
1 year ago

I was afraid of being alone and that was when my family was still a part of my life and I had friends (mutual with FW). It’s been 4.5 years since Dday and I remember not being able to grasp how I would financially handle everything. (although the thought that i would no longer be stuck with FW was super appealing). I got a lawyer and filed for emergency support (FW had just drained our joint bank account). I did not have a full-time job or any really good prospects so I enrolled in school and got a second job (while handling everything with the kids). And it turns out that once FW was out of the house it was WAY EASIER than when he was around. I eventually cut his family out, and then my whole family and all mutual friends (which was pretty much everyone). I have a handful of new friends now and my two kids- I don’t really go out and holidays are always just me and my two kids, but you know what? I’m WAY HAPPIER. Being alone is fucking awesome. In the beginning, I thought I would eventually start dating again, but Now?? Now I have zero desire. This may or may not change, but I’m here to tell you that being single (I’m 53) is fabulous and I can totally see myself doing this for the rest of my life. I tried to delay my divorce so I could wrangle some more money or at least find a decent job, but FW drained our joint bank account and I couldn’t feed my kids, so START with a lawyer, then work on your employment options. My other issue was I constantly scheduled everything around my kids which made finding work much harder. Once I realized my teenagers don’t need me around (and FW is ALSO legally obligated to either pay for care or make sure they get to school) it opened up more jobs for me. Today I’m pursuing a nursing degree and I was able to buy FW out of the house (with our retirement) so my kids and I have stayed in our original house. Moving for you might be an option, but talk to a lawyer first. Also, I bought myself flowers nearly every week the year after FW moved out.

Apidae
Apidae
1 year ago

LW, stop coming up with rationalizations for leaving this guy SOMEDAY. You don’t need to wait two years to talk to a lawyer. The devil you know is not better than being devil-free.

ivyleaguechump
ivyleaguechump
1 year ago

Dear ICBMF –
Not only can you buy yourself flowers, but you apparently can do a whole helluva lot. Doing it without the added anxiety of dealing with a FW will make your tasks much easier. Not your problem where or whom he is with.
Bet you anything his family is made up of cheaters. You inflicting consequences probably makes them very uncomfortable. How DARE you!

I get the financial considerations. But delve deeper into the archives here, and you will discover how chumps who were barely scraping by managed to achieve financial security in a short time once the FW wasn’t there draining their accounts with porn subscriptions, hooker payments, gifts to schmoopies, and male grooming products.

I squirreled away $1000 over two years in order to leave my abusive xFW#2 over 30 years ago. You will need enough for a rental deposit/first month’s rent and a moving van at least. I recommend getting far, far away from the FW and his band of enablers as soon as possible. Start looking for jobs in nearby towns/cities.

And don’t jump back into the dating pool too soon. You need to KNOW you can make it on your own. We believe in you.

❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
1 year ago

I just entered Year Six of being on my own. I am 59. I am SO GLAD I am on my own. I have not yet begun to date. I have no desire to do so. I am enjoying being by myself with my daughter. A LOT! Which I could not have imagined from the floor of my kitchen where I was lying, on DDay, sobbing, while he stood there looking at me with complete disinterest.

I still have a lot of pain, fear, and anger to manage on a regular basis.

I do not manage feelings of missing him, loving him, wanting to be with him.

I do not miss him. I do not love him. I do not want to be with him.

I also manage feelings of regret. What on earth did I see in him? Why did I stay so long?

On my own is LIGHT YEARS better than being in a bad relationship.

Please get an awesome therapist to help you. And PLEASE call your local domestic violence assistance resources.

❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
1 year ago

PS.

I was ALREADY alone. His physical presence had me fooled, like poker chips in a casino keep your perception blurry about how you are playing with cash.

Someone’s physical presence is not an indicator of loyalty. You can’t verify what’s in someone’s mind and heart, and with today’s technology they can be conducting an affair seated on the couch with you during Family Movie Night. Or when they “go to the bathroom”…..

I talk to LAWYERS, not liars.

❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
1 year ago

On Showtime, season 3 episode 10 of Couples Therapy features a cheater.

The therapist, Orna, is later expressing her frustration and confusion trying to talk to him. And noting how therapy is a waste of time with someone who is being deceptive and evasive and gaslighting.

My head hurt listening to him as well.

Get help and get away if you want to feel better.

I am not alone. I am ON MY OWN. They are not the same things.

Being legally bound to a lying cheating traitorous mindfucking two faced double crossing profoundly dishonest abusive asshole douchebag loser jerk criminal is being alone.

❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
1 year ago

Actually, in the show there is a couple where one party wants an open relationship….

And a couple who were both raised Mormon. She cheated. And laughs about it.

It’s a good reality check. I can’t be objective in my own life so I find it helpful to hear and see others in my shoes.

Ginger_Superpowers
Ginger_Superpowers
1 year ago

In 2012 Asshat & kids were leaving an Indian restaurant during our trip to London. He walked out looking at texts he received during lunch. In front of the kids, he asked “What’s all this about 50 Shades of Grey”? He was texting with his mistress from 1994!

Yep, FWs are NEVER present.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago

As someone who has been single since D-day (almost 5 years ago), I can tell you that being alone is a thousand times better than being married to an abusive cheater. I actually love being single and have no desire to date or be in another romantic relationship. Don’t let fear of being alone keep you with an asshole like your husband.

You are already doing all of the work. Being on your own won’t change as things much as you think. Even though I ended up with full custody of my son, my own place, a job, and all the work that goes into it, having to do 100% myself, without having a FW to deal with I had LESS work, LESS stress, MORE time, MORE money, and far more happiness.

I lost nearly every friend I’d had with FW (15 years together). I had very little support outside my mom, my best friend, and my attorney. You can do it.

If you can’t afford a lawyer, look into alternatives like lawyers who work pro bono in association with women’s shelters, advice from the law library, or free consults. Even if you can’t hire a lawyer full time, you can sometimes engage them for guidance with periodic consultations, which you pay for hourly. As CL said, you can apply for spousal and child support as soon as you start the divorce process, especially if your kids have medical needs.

You have literally nothing to work with in your marriage. Your FW’s family are more than likely going to side with him, no matter how long they’ve known you (I was fortunate that FW’s family actually supported me, but I know it’s not the norm). There’s a lot we have to let go in order to escape these abusers, but it’s worth it, I promise.

NotAnymore
NotAnymore
1 year ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

“being alone is a thousand times better than being married to an abusive cheater.” Amen.

In my youth I wanted so badly to be liked. I focused so much on wondering if a guy liked me, that I never stopped to think about if I liked him. Sure, maybe I would evaluate if I thought he was “cute” or not, but I didn’t examine his character or actions or attitudes in anyway. I literally used to think: “beggars can’t be choosers.”

Now on the isolated occasion a suitor has come along I feel totally differently. I think, would spending time with this person make my life better? Happier? More peaceful? So far the answer has always been no, and I’m fine with that. My peace of mind is a treasure that I’m not going to give away for free ever again.

Brit
Brit
1 year ago
Reply to  NotAnymore

I never thought of myself as having value, who would want me? If I thought a boy was cute. I’d let them choose me, as if I didn’t have a choice. I did get to be the chosen one but thought it was luck, I thought they asked me out because they felt sorry for me. How pathetic was I?

Motherchumper99
Motherchumper99
1 year ago

Follow every word CL wrote. Don’t waste another second of your life. Hire a lawyer today. You’ll be scared shitless but act anyhow. Do all the things now. By next year at this time, or soon after, you’ll be divorced. Free. On the road to radical transformation in every aspect of your life. You won’t believe how wonderful life is and that the trauma bonds kept you stuck in the abuse cycle. Hire the lawyer today. This morning. Leave the cheater, gain your life! You will never regret saving yourself.

Skunkcabbage
Skunkcabbage
1 year ago

I’m 8 years out. And I mean out. I left the ‘home’ we bought together, I left the community, I left that whole life and I left the in-laws and all the flying monkey friends behind too. I remember sobbing in the shower (and not for the first time) and coming to the realization that I’d rather be alone for the rest of my life than subject myself one more moment to his disdain and disrespect. And it was the best decision I ever made in my life.

Ginger_Superpowers
Ginger_Superpowers
1 year ago

Don’t define your life by other’s bad behavior. Free yourself from your FWs shackles of poor life choices. Be Free.

It may not seem like it now, but you have so much going for you. You know our enemies. Believe me, I would have preferred knowing that my former BF was on team Asshat rather than spending another year with her. You have a job. You have your health. You have moral clarity.

Don’t think that by staying, FW won’t eventually leave you anyway, and then it will be on his terms. Leave now when you can be on the offensive. I stayed assuming if I continued to put myself into a pretzel for any of FWs desires to my emotional detriment, he would stay. He didn’t and the divorce was a constant game of Whack-a-Ginger. It wasn’t fun. Two weeks after he left, he sent me flowers for our 24th anniversary just to be a dick because he NEVER sent me flowers.

Take your time, catch your breath, and get the right attorney so you can hold your head high when you walk out the door.

DON’T look back. Brighter days are ahead……but only when you leave FW in the dust. He doesn’t define your life story. You get to write the chapters……including the Happily Ever After.

ICanSeeTheMehComing!
ICanSeeTheMehComing!
1 year ago

Absolutely begin with investing in a one hour conversation with an attorney – but to make the most of your time, CL always reminds us… they aren’t your therapist! Go in with a specific list of questions: what is the mandatory separation period? how can I file for full child support? what additional services do your teens need, make sure FW is paying for it? who gets to stay in the current home? visitation rules? LEARN and then you can build your strategy based on facts. Two years is too long to continue being abused.

You are stronger than you know. Most chumps are, they’ve just been convinced otherwise by gaslighting and covert undermining. Even though I made significantly more money than Mr. Sparkles, in his mind my work hours were more flexible so I got the daily daycare runs and soccer practices and doctor appointments and sick days with the kids… all of them. Meanwhile, Mr. Sparkles would take long lunches or leave work early (unbeknownst to me) to meet up with his f-buddies from Adult Friend Finder or Ashley Madison. I lost two jobs while I was married to him. After the discard, he had our son with him on a summer vacation with the OW and her kids and my boy was tired and crying for me… he called me and left umpteen voicemails (I was on an airplane) demanding that I come right back and get our son. SERIOUSLY. #manchild

I’ve been single now since the discard in 2014 (divorce in 2016). I’ve been so busy rebuilding a life, keeping my son on track (who is an honor student, kind, confident – #blessed), and my career has blossomed. A great patch of time in my life. Would I like to date, yes – I think I would… but not if it means giving up the peace I have in my life now. I’ll never do that again.

You can do this. Take one small step each day and before you know it you will have walked a mile. Keep coming back here; read the archives; build a fw free life.

ActaNonVerba
ActaNonVerba
1 year ago

Another great resource is Fair Play by Eve Rodsky. It’s all about building and maintaining equity in a marriage partnership. I have no data on this, but I’m imagining that this book (and the movement it’s spawned) has led to some divorces when women realize they have nothing to work with.

Even without the betrayal and financial abuse, a marriage in which a man (and his family, and your entire friend network) believes that his time is more valuable than the woman’s, and is characterized by weaponized incompetence and entitlement, is at its best disrespectful, and at its worst, a different kind of abuse.

ICBMF, if you’re doing most or all the household tasks and emotional labor, you’re already a single parent. The betrayal and flying monkeys are a deal breaker. Get out now.

You aren’t going to heal overnight. Keep reading LACGAL and this blog because you will pick up on different things at different stages in your journey. In a few years, after you’ve had time to recover, rebuild, and fix your picker, if you really want to consider partnership again, let it be through a Fair Play lens.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago
Reply to  ActaNonVerba

“Even without the betrayal and financial abuse, a marriage in which a man (and his family, and your entire friend network) believes that his time is more valuable than the woman’s, and is characterized by weaponized incompetence and entitlement, is at its best disrespectful, and at its worst, a different kind of abuse.”

I wish I could like this a hundred times.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago

“in his mind my work hours were more flexible so I got the daily daycare runs and soccer practices and doctor appointments and sick days with the kids”

This made me think of the time when I was working evenings/nights (as a bartender), but because I was “home all day”, FW expected me to do everything like you mentioned, along with all the housework. I worked the same number of hours, they were just at a less conventional time of day. He worked a regular 9-5 and was “too tired” when he got home to do anything. So I essentially worked two jobs – my actual job, and 100% of running the house/most of the childcare. It was certainly not an equal share.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 year ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

ISawTheLight, your post reminds me of things women I’ve worked with have said. In several cases, it appeared to me that they were working full time and doing all childcare, as well as the housework. I found myself wondering “If your husband is really this disengaged, why don’t you divorce him?” Probably the answer was “money.”

To be fair, I was only hearing one side of the story. Also, what I heard may have been grossly exaggerated, or was just venting. But Idk..after many similar posts I’ve read on this site, I wonder…are there a lot of spouses (both male and female!) who are getting a free ride (so to speak) in the relationship?

Again, I can’t say. I’m writing as a person who never married and has no children.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 year ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

ISawTheLight, your post reminds me of things women I’ve worked with have said. In several cases, it appeared to me that they were working full time and doing all childcare, as well as the housework. I found myself wondering “If your husband is really this disengaged, why don’t you divorce him?” Probably the answer was “money.”

To be fair, I was only hearing one side of the story. Also, what I heard may have been grossly exaggerated, or was just venting. But Idk..after many similar posts I’ve read on this site, I wonder…are there a lot of spouses (both male and female!) who are getting a free ride (so to speak) in the relationship?

Again, I can’t say. I’m writing as a person who never married and has no children.

Thrive
Thrive
1 year ago

👏👏 nothing to add just pile on with Get the F!@k away and start taking care of yourself? You sound beaten down which gives you nothing left but to RISE UP. Everyone of us has been alone and had to grab that tiger by the tail and swing her around. Do it! Huge hugs!

Adelante
Adelante
1 year ago

Thinking you need another two years is you not being 100% ready to leave. You are either afraid of a future alone or still under the influence of hopium. How do I know? Because at one time I also had that exact same timeline in my head. I thought I needed for financial reasons to stay with him another two years. I had a mental image of a scale in my head, with the two pans of the scale labeled “intolerable home situation” and “financial security,” and at that time, “financial security” weighed more.

Only you know what will tip that scale to a point where “intolerable home situation” will outweigh “financial reasons.” For me, over time, I accustomed myself to the thought I was indeed going to leave, and I started doing the things that would enable me leaving–looking for a rental, seeing a lawyer, sizing up my resources (financial, yes, but other things, too, like skills and personal qualities that would help me move forward). At the same time, his devaluation and abusiveness increased, and I started to apply what I was learning here about disordered personalities. Eventually the scale tipped and I knew I had to get away even if the financial situation was not as favorable, and later, after I was out, I saw that my telling myself I needed to wait until the financial situation was more favorable was just my fear and hope giving me a rationalization to stay.

I don’t know what your financial situation is. But your husband has financial obligations to his children, and a lawyer can help you ensure he provides it. See one NOW. Make that your first move. Screwing up the courage to see one and getting the information is a big step forward toward losing the hopium and conquering the fear.

ActaNonVerba
ActaNonVerba
1 year ago
Reply to  Adelante

Yes, this! ⬆️

Last weekend was the first time I read my journal from that horrible era f multiple D-D days and wreckonciliation. Reading it back now I see so clearly that I should have left much earlier, but I didn’t trust myself and I was scared.

Sandyfeet
Sandyfeet
1 year ago
Reply to  Adelante

I briefly thought maybe I should stay, he’s 60 with someone 33 years younger, they’re pill poppers, he has a heart condition, I’m beneficiary on the life insurance….
It’s been 4.5 years. I realized if he could do all the things he did, like opening a credit card and maxing it out in a couple of months , steal from business, out of my wallet, he would get worse. I filed, I found attorney that would take a credit card for retainer. I was scared too, married 36 years at that point.
His life insurances are my policies now, he’s still a mess but not my mess. Fortunately, our children are adults. He is NC with them and grandchildren.

Indecision is a decision, not a good one. So glad I worked through the fear as many of us chumps have done.

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago
Reply to  Sandyfeet

Good point! Not making a choice is a choice!! It’s postponing the pain.

Apidae
Apidae
1 year ago
Reply to  Adelante

Respectfully disagree that only the LW knows what tips the scale – because what she knows right now is clouded with hopium and fear. She needs to find out from professionals (like a divorce lawyer) exactly what her financial situation really is, and would it would likely be if she divorced. Only then can she make a good decision.

Adelante
Adelante
1 year ago
Reply to  Apidae

I think what I meant was “only you will know what tips the scale.” I was thinking of my own “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment.

SortOfOverIt
SortOfOverIt
1 year ago
Reply to  Apidae

I agree Apidae. A lot of lawyers will do a free or low cost consult. In that hour, letter writer will find out so much info that will be incredibly helpful. It’s where I found out a lot of stuff that I was concerned about was actually NOT as dire as I assumed. Knowledge is empowering. I waited until he wasn’t around, and had my call. It was eye-opening. I am still in early stages, but that consult was the first time that I thought “I could really do this, and be ok-ish”

NotAnymore
NotAnymore
1 year ago

I can hear the isolation, neglect, and hurt in this post – and it makes my heart ache because I used to have many of the same thoughts. But at some point I realized I had to play the cards I was dealt. Sure, it would have been nice to have money, friends, a support system, a backup plan… but I didn’t have those things, so what was the point of even thinking about them? I had to deal with things I could control.

I was also thrilled to find out that just as everyone on this blog reported – being a single mother is so so so much better than being with someone who sucks. Imagine a cozy Easter with just you and your kids where everyone is safe and happy and calm. You deserve that.

tallgrass
tallgrass
1 year ago

“You wouldn’t be able to handle this without me.”………. turned out to be 1 hour of lawnmowing a week, maybe 30 weeks out of the year. Truly. I still am twisted up by this pathetic coercion tactic he held over my head for decades while he played with side chicks and treated me like scum. He did SO MUCH for me and I was so unappreciative, blah blah. I was very scared when he blew up the marriage anyway and I had to file for divorce because schmoopie was planning her wedding.

As it turned out, I have a nice riding mower. I asked for it and got it in the divorce settlement! I put on my sun hat, sunglasses, jeans and mud boots and ride around in beautiful weather for an hour smelling the freshness of the prairie all around me. Enjoying the ability to see instant results which is a different sort of satisfaction than cleaning the kitchen. Enjoying the bounty and pride of property ownership while I caretake what I love.

Good trade.

For me, the humiliation of knowing his schmoopies all knew and giggled about how stupid I was, home cooking and cleaning and paying bills, while they post-sex snuggled….that was enough to bring back the fight for me. Maybe that will work for you. To drill it into your brain that he is doing this on purpose and watching you continue to try and fix it. It’s hilarious to them to watch you. Like a mouse being tormented in a maze with added obstacles, “watch, watch….what’s she going to do when I add this?”

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago
Reply to  tallgrass

FWs love to exaggerate their importance. FW said I was incompetent and wouldn’t be able to survive on my own without him (or that I would hook up with the first guy who came along so I would have a sugar daddy???).

One person’s life DID fall apart after we split. But guess what? It wasn’t MINE.

Turns out I’d been holding his life together. Schmoopie wasn’t skilled like I was in managing. It all crumbled pretty rapidly once I went NC and shut down all my social media, etc. (harder for schmoopie to have a superiority complex when there’s noone to compare herself with).

Spite is a good motivator, actually. I set out to get myself together, and by god I succeeded. I’m only sad (a little) that FW didn’t live long enough to see it.

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

Yes!!! This is me even now! Paying the bills, helping the kids…Haven’t filed yet. But will soon!

“Turns out I’d been holding his life together. Schmoopie wasn’t skilled like I was in managing.”

Lauren
Lauren
1 year ago

In defense of your friends (who you claim ignored you or shrugged you off), if you’ve kicked your FW out and brought him back multiple times over 15+ years, what do you honestly expect any of them to do for you? People have emotional limits. You seem content to play the victim and have made three thousand excuses for why you haven’t left him. Who really cares if his family doesn’t invite you to Easter dinner or give you flowers? Are you actually expecting any of that from these people at this point? Look at how you’ve allowed their son to treat you all these years. Stop being a doormat and get your life together.

Sandyfeet
Sandyfeet
1 year ago

Like it says in the book, find the money for a consultation with a divorce lawyer. Sell something, call a great aunt, or a grandparent. In the states we have 211 for information, call the equivalent. You must take action. Many of us Chumps wish we had acted sooner.

Sandyfeet
Sandyfeet
1 year ago
Reply to  Sandyfeet

Additionally, I got great info at a Divorce and Recovery support group. They had speakers about real estate, attorneys, mediators, sexual health, mental health. It was informative.

MsAzure
MsAzure
1 year ago

Everything CL said.

You are alone now. I know, it’s hard to realize that. When you’re in an abusive, toxic relationship the abuse mimics “security.’ Our minds start to gaslight us. I understand the fear of taking care of your children, who have special medical needs, alone BUT … you’re already doing that. The selfish asshat that you’re married to isn’t doing crap to help you.

Breakthroughs and blessings are on the other side of the fear wall. As Mark Twain once said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” When we are stuck in an abusive cycle, our subconscious starts to scream at us while being ignored. Thus, the low self-esteem and doubt takeover. We start to believe our circumstances as “the truth,” especially when horrible, nasty people are getting their kicks from knocking us down. (Your ex and his spiteful family.)

Energy is real. Because it’s invisible, most of us tend not to understand the great impact it has on our day to day lives. Being in your abusive relationship for years has caused invisible “sludge” to overtake your clarity of thought. You’ll be amazed – and wonderfully surprised – at how much happier, more peaceful and productive you WILL BE once you disengage from the horror show you’re living with this guy. You’ll have the energy and momentum to take care of your children and yourself at a much higher level.

Tony Robbins often speaks of the “Pain vs. Pleasure” principle as it applies to taking a stand or moving out of a situation. When the pain (fear, misery, humiliation etc) outweighs the “pleasure” (a false sense of security, for example) we’ll make a change. It sounds as though you’re already there. LEAP into a better future. It’s there. As CL advised – LAWYER UP. No more taking this FW back. Lay on, Macduff!

(P.S. – I buy myself fresh flowers every week. They’re beautiful and I feel wonderful.)

Orchid Chump
Orchid Chump
1 year ago

Ms. I Can Buy Myself Flowers,

You can do this. It is hard but once he is gone it does get better. When my ex left 1.5 years ago he stopped paying the mortgage, property taxes and strata fees on our town house. He hasn’t paid for our sons expenses or activities since he left. Yesterday, my ex shows up to my sons birthday in his G Wagon with a new Rolex on. My ex “forgot” his wallet so I had to pay for my sons party by myself (including his family and friends).

I work long hours and pick up overtime, I take vacation days at work so I can get overtime shifts on my vacation days to make money for my bills. My credit card bill and line of credit are high. I haven’t paid my Canadian tax bill this year yet but I will. It will take time, but I know I can do it. I consider it the price of freedom.

Despite life being financially harder now. I am so much happier. It is worth it to know that I won’t get another STI, I won’t have to deal with my abusive ex at home. I don’t have to deal with his family. I surround myself with people who treat me with respect and know who I am and what I am worth.

You are already doing everything yourself without any of the benefits of being free. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Apidae
Apidae
1 year ago
Reply to  Orchid Chump

“He hasn’t paid for our sons expenses or activities since he left” – no support order?!

If there isn’t one, the RSVP door ought to be closed for him. You do NOT have to pay for him and his family and friends to party on your dime. Your bill – your invite list. Your ex can attend events for your son on his time.

Orchid Chump
Orchid Chump
1 year ago
Reply to  Apidae

No court order yet. I’ve got a new litigation lawyer and we are going to get an order for him to disclose his assets. I’ll get a forensic accountant to go threw his statements. Then we will get a court order for mediation. Then when that doesn’t work, we will go to court. I’m in this for the long haul but I’ve accepted my fate. Once we have a separation agreement, it will be sorted but until then I work.

One piece of advice I would give a new Chump is to litigate right away. My ex promised he would get the separation agreement done, he just needed to pay his taxes. Next it was he needed his accountant to sort it, then their was another excuse. In the end I hired a lawyer to draft the separation agreement. He won’t sign it or go to medication. I waisted time expecting him to be decent, but as Chump Lady says, he won’t get a character transplant.

Life now is definitely harder but sooooooooo much better!!!!!!!!!!

My son wanted his dad at the party and his dad’s family, so I invited them. It’s so hard being the sane parent but in the end it will pay off. I’ll tackle the invite list next year. LOL

Almost Monday
Almost Monday
1 year ago

How many chumps are just $5,000 from freedom and safety?

I was fortunate enough to have options and financial resources. But I I also lost FW’s family and mutual friends after 30 years which hadn’t included drama or chaos.

To the LW – In addition to getting professional services immediately, including protecting your joint assets, just plan on finding your new people. I’m guessing you and FW don’t share values or many interests. Find a support group (on-line if necessary), a class or book club and an exercise opportunity. Volunteer with an organization which is meaningful to you – an animal shelter, thrift shop or park clean up? Consider a 12-step group if there is a history of addictive behavior.

You’ll be busy with work and your kids. Adding an event where you are welcomed and appreciated will make a difference.

MrWonderful’sEx
MrWonderful’sEx
1 year ago
Reply to  Almost Monday

I had to scrape together $5,000 just for the retainer. It took forever….

Redkd
Redkd
1 year ago

I know it’s overwhelming and scary—I do. We have all been there. But what I found was that it was the dread of just leaving, the unknown aspect of it, was worse than actually DOING it. It’s going to suck, but it’s going to be TEMPORARY!

I left my FW after 27 years of marriage and it was by far the scariest thing I ever did. I did it completely by surprise—I just pretended to go to work one day and moved into my own apartment. I had the lawyer file the divorce the day before. I managed to sneak my own credit cards (I had no credit cards, no private access to money, etc.) and I switched my paycheck that same day so it deposited into my own private account. Needless to say, he lost his shit and became completely unglued. And the divorce was financially devastating, despite my ultimately getting a good settlement in a no-fault state. But before I left him, I had NO idea about a lot of things and you need a lawyer to help you find out what that is where you live. His secret account is able to be subpoenaed, for example. Mine had a private credit card with thousands of dollars spent on nonsense. Document everything. Your lawyer can help you. You might be in a far better position than you’d ever suspect, given his behavior.

My former-in-laws and family are actually decent (they have all told me that they are truly sorry, that they love me, they respect me, etc.), but we don’t have a relationship anymore because “blood is thicker than water,” and I know that at the end of the day, they aren’t MY family. So don’t expect them to side with you on anything—they aren’t yours.

No matter how bad it gets, you will feel so much better once you leave. You will. I am now officially divorced (whew!) and finalizing the settlement stuff, but even if I stayed broke, it would be worth it. Every day, I wake up soooooo happy I left. I have a better relationship with my kids, I am healing my own soul, I am learning who I am (after 27 years of a lot of abuse), and I am enjoying being me.

I know I speak for all of us to wish you happiness and love and light as you get out of that quagmire. We’re here for you!!!

MrWonderful’sEx
MrWonderful’sEx
1 year ago
Reply to  Redkd

That is so awesome. How on earth did you get your clothes out and personal things? This sounds like from a movie script. Way to go!

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago

I don’t know how Redkd did it, but in the U.S. you can call the police department and request a civil standby. That’s what I did. A cop will accompany you while you get your things. (My ex was FURIOUS that I brought a police officer – I guess he thought it made him look like a bad person or something? He brought it up in multiple communications from his attorney. I thought that was funny, really. He had been physically violent with me, so I wasn’t taking any chances. FW even tried to ridicule me by saying he and the cop “had a good chuckle” about how stupid I was to think I’d need protection. But I think FW was making that up, because I don’t think a police officer would be so unprofessional.) I actually brought a whole team – a cop, a police chaplain my lawyer knew, a DV advocate, and two friends (my son’s babysitters, whom FW would want to give a good impression to). I went in, packed my stuff, and got out in about 2 hours.

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 year ago
Reply to  Redkd

“I left my FW after 27 years of marriage and it was by far the scariest thing I ever did. I did it completely by surprise—I just pretended to go to work one day and moved into my own apartment. I had the lawyer file the divorce the day before. I managed to sneak my own credit cards (I had no credit cards, no private access to money, etc.) and I switched my paycheck that same day so it deposited into my own private account.”

👏👏👏 You are badass!

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 year ago

“so I guess my big questions are, how do you finally get the balls to do it on your own? And any advice for picking up and moving your life somewhere new for a fresh start?”

Don’t even think about whether you can do it and don’t talk about doing it in the future. Just do it. If you wait until you theoretically grow a pair, that’s just more time to give yourself more excuses. The excuses you are making here only sound reasonable to you because you’re in the bargaining stage of grieving the relationship and aren’t being honest with yourself. Staying with a cheater (and one who is lining up his ducks to leave you high and dry without a dime at that) so you can keep these in-laws, the people who reported you to child welfare authorities for daring to dump their precious fuckwitted son? Staying so you can get flowers from those turds and be invited over on holidays? Oh hell no. Put that stuff aside.

Your financial concerns are valid, which is all the more reason to file before he hides all the money. Him socking away money means you will actually be in a worse position two years from now, not better. He is planning to clean you out. Trust and believe that.

It’s scary to go it alone, but we all did it, despite many of us being unemployed, pregnant, ill and what have you. You can do it too. I’ll send you flowers myself if that’s what it takes. Whatever you need, just let us know. No support from friends? That’s not a problem here. Chumps tend to be immune to compassion fatigue. So let’s do this.

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Also, FW is taking up so much of your brain energy. If you can let him go mentally, life will open up. I am praying for you and your kids.

Stig
Stig
1 year ago

Amazing how far being fed up and desperate will get you. I started working again as my youngest went to school, eight weeks later we went into lockdown for the rest of the year, but I was able to work online, and that source of income allowed me to start saving and making plans. Ex never thought I would actually leave and I think it blew his mind when I actually put the wheels in motion, but once things opened up again I had as much on-call work as I could sign up for, because of staff shortages due to ongoing covid sickness isolation. During that time I secured an apartment, using the augmented paychecks I was getting to seem more financially robust, moved myself in, bought furniture, appliances and paid my bills, all on contract work. It actually unnerves me now how much I was dangling: if that work had folded I would have been left high and dry with big bills and homeless, but my workplace have been amazing and it’s segued into secure full-time work. Sometimes you just have to keep on rolling and do what you gotta do. I’ve sold my furniture on Craigslist to make a few lean rent payments just prior to securing that full-time work, but I’ve been incredibly lucky and looking back things, once I started moving, the momentum kept going. You deserve better, you’re mindset is just totally skewed from years of being mentally beaten down. Once you’re away, and have the support and advice you need, that thinking will start to change and you’ll see things with a truer perspective. I get feeling like the unloved child, when people who don’t understand or don’t want to know turn away, but this is your life you’re living, and new life will flow in to fill the spaces. You owe it to yourself, you’re worth it to make the effort to get out. The guy is letting you do the hard yards, he thinks this is how it’s always gonna be. Prove him wrong, you’re already doing it all, the only missing piece is the financials, so find a source of income, and you’ll be amazed how things will be so much easier without carrying the burden of his disrespect.

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig

Momentum is the thing!

This Shit is Not My Story
This Shit is Not My Story
1 year ago

My heart breaks for this writer and I pray she finds her mightiness that we all clearly see.

I had the song Flowers playing on the radio this weekend and my oldest son said that Homewrecker plays it all the time. I laughed and said she probably does. I remember what it was like being married to the Fuckwit – he never listened to anyone but himself, refused to hold my hand – I’m sure this replacement appliance feels the same loneliness being married to him and I feel sick joy.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 year ago

Dear Flowers,

I suspect you left out a great deal of detail in this letter. Maybe it was for the sake of brevity. By your “word vomit” comment, you seem to think your very brief, generalized account was “oversharing,” which it hardly is. But it’s understandable you would feel that way because you’re currently socially isolated and surrounded by evil to the point you think that your story could not evoke even minor interest or empathy from normal humans. That right there is proof that your abuser (because that’s what he is, full stop) has systematically undermined any potential social support you might have had over the years: you no longer think your side of the story has any merit which is a giant, flaming, epic lie. Just to jolt yourself out of this mindf*ck, I recommend watching the dramatic Netflix series “Maid” about the effects of coercive control and gaslighting in relationships. Not only aren’t you alone in what you’re going through, but there’s increasing global recognition for your plight and an increasing number of people out there who will understand what you’re going through. CL’s recommendation to to seek out resources for domestic violence– especially resources for the coercive control category of DV– is a way to find that sane tribe.

One clinical name for this type of gaslighting is “perspecticide”– one of the chief things that abusers do to isolate and control victims. Basically they make you think you’re worthless and no one will ever love or support you. Over time, as you’re made to feel more “worthless,” you start to “smell” desperate to others which tends to freak shallow or unreflective people out. Then you’re even more isolated. Then you’re so discouraged that you isolate yourself. And voila! The abuser’s work is complete! But abusers typically don’t rely on their own messaging that victims’ narratives and perspectives are “invalid” (you know, the glazed looks or yawns or general impatience or scoffing rage when you try to offer your perspective or feelings). Abusers will also systematically triangulate to make sure that no one else validates the victim either. Abusers are tireless in this respect. The reason that no one is listening to you or supporting you is because your abuser, like a dedicated counterintelligence agitator or political PR “ratf*cker,” has been going around behind your back for years casting you as crazy or incompetent or worse.

Doing this to you was probably made easier because parents who act as caretakers for sick or disabled kids may have more difficulty than average in making and maintaining adult friendships. At the very least, it’s hard to find time for socializing and, at worst, a lot of people think sick kids are a “bummer” and that devoted parents’ focus on health and healing is a “big snore.” But frankly I think the fact that it might have been easier for your abuser to isolate you and therefore easier to gaslight you and distort your perspective of yourself and your circumstances fall under the “eggshell skull” legal standard: just because a victim had a preexisting “thin skull” doesn’t make the perpetrator who bashed them over the head with a tire iron less liable even if they didn’t know about the preexisting vulnerability. But if the perpetrator knew of the preexisting vulnerability (as your abuser obviously does), it makes it all the more evil that the perpetrator targeted this Achilles heel.

Maybe you’re also leaving out details because you’re just not clear on the ways your abuser has, over the years, managed to weave a kind of barbed wire web of coercion and control around you that you now find yourself inexplicably tangled up in. If you’re going to untangle all that barbed wire, you first have to recognize the wires– recognize abuse as abuse. When abuse falls just short of overt violence and physical injury, it’s difficult for most people to categorize it which is why there’s currently a worldwide campaign to add “coercive control” statutes to domestic violence laws and policies (https://www.theacecc.com/post/not-all-bills-are-created-equal-a-review-of-coercive-control-legislation).

Aside from seeking in-person support and protection from victim advocates, I would recommend the book “Coercive Control” by veteran advocate and forensic psychologist Evan Stark. The first point that Stark makes in the introduction is that most victims of domestic violence list psychological abuse and “coercive control” as even more paralyzing and devastating than direct violence. In light of this, you might consider sitting down and writing out every single rattling, unsettling or subtly or overtly menacing thing your abuser ever did and said over the course of 16 or more years. If he’s never laid a finger on your or so much as punched the sofa you were sitting on during a typical cheater rage, it may take some effort to dredge up the memories of all his intimidating gestures and words and– very importantly– remember their gutting effect on you at the times they happened. You might have to peel off the layers of all the blameshifting self pity your abuser spewed in the wake of each of his abusive gestures in order to use “FOG” tactics (fear/obligation/guilt) to blind you to his full responsibility for his behavior. Because one thing is clear: you’re not staying out of love for this person but fear.

Fear of what? That differs from victim to victim since abusers tend to surgically tailor their psychological terror tactics to the individual vulnerabilities, strengths and fears of their victims. Saying you’re not motivated by actual love for this abuser is no reflection on your ability to love but simply to say that abusers are not, by definition, lovable. Furthermore, abusers tend to hold hostage or threaten anything their victims do love or value.

Proof that you’re a loving person is simply that you’re somehow being held hostage in shitty circumstances. It means something you love is being threatened. As a fellow mother of a medically fragile child, I can make a wild guess about what you love that is somehow being used to entrap you and that, furthermore, what obscures the fact that this area of our psyches are easy as pie to terrorize is the functional denial of every devoted parent of ailing children. In short, trying to constantly bear in mind the reality of how our kids can periodically swerve close to deeper, permanent impairment or death is like looking into the sun. It can’t be done without going blind. Or it’s like walking on a razor wire over a gorge. It’s just not wise to look down if you don’t want to lose your balance. While everything we do is an effort to allay those risks, if we considered the full risks at every moment, we’d stop sleeping, stop functioning and crash or die and then who would care for our kids? To remain functional, effective and proactive in order to save our kids, we have to shield our psyches from the full brunt of that life and death reality which creates the perfect opportunity for abusers to sneakily implant terror and hold us hostage. Since we can’t be constantly cognizant of our deeper fears for our children, this makes us a bit blind to how these fears can be amplified and used against us.

Think about it in the abstract: what could happen to medically fragile children if any interruption in medical care further compromises their health, if emotional stress further complicates their conditions, puts them at greater risk for catastrophic depression (always a risk for sick children) or if increased stress to their main caretakers — us– compromises our health and therefore our ability to provide the intense level of vigilance and care required to keep kids like that in their earthly forms? Our kids’ health tends to rest on a teetering Jenga pile made up of financial resources, social support, institutional supports, the kindness of strangers and our own physical and mental wellbeing and energy. We end up being so bloody nice to everyone for fear that any support might be withdrawn. Pull out one of those blocks and the whole stack collapses. Even the specter of being a divorced single parent of ailing children brings to mind social bias against single parents. Just the merest demonstration from an abuser that they could, for instance, casually mumble something to other people which would compromise our social status is like waving a gun at our kids because it could rob us of the scant support we need to keep our kids alive. What makes a threat like that more potent is that I know from first hand experience the sense that way too many of the people I would interact with regarding my son’s health and education seemed to want some grounds on which to demonize special needs parents because they could use this to justify withdrawing critical supports they didn’t want to be giving in the first place.

Just a tiny hint from an abuser that they would nudge one of those Jenga blocks– maybe just a viciously well-placed shrug showing that they don’t care about the consequences or could easily reverse blame onto us for any consequences– can make us shrink down into ourselves and play possum, otherwise known as “captor bonding” or Stockholm syndrome. The key thing about Stockholm syndrome and what makes it an actually successful survival strategy is that it depends on the appearance of the victim’s “loyalty” to the captor/abuser in order to inspire a bit of mercy from that abuser. To the extent that domestic abusers are clinically known to be almost preternaturally sensitive to any small sign of rebellion from their victims, “captor bonding/Stockholm syndrome” is only successful to the degree that captives/victims believe their own “loyalty ruses” down to a cellular level. It’s very effective in making abusers pull their punches a bit, at least at first. But where the survival mechanism loses its benefits is when the danger of staying starts to exceed the danger of escaping. At that point captives are confronted with the dissonance of their survival mentality and may start to collapse from shame and confusion over why they find it so hard to escape.

Why abusers do this is the “skein” which is better to untangle once a victim has reached safety and independence. Then have at it, go on a criminal psychology binge. It can be really interesting. For instance, abusers typically compulsively reenact their own childhood traumas but with victim/perpetrator roles reversed so they can experience the thrill of power as if this would somehow erase their former helplessness as victims (hint why your abusers’ family is punishing you: they’re all as twisted and demented as he is). Abusers also tend to have a psychic glitch called “masked dependency” where, because they never had needs met as children and developed catastrophic shame over their own vulnerability in childhood, they tend to deny their own pathological, infantile dependence on primary partners and seek ways to reverse this dependency, weakening and undercutting the self esteem of their partners to the point partners feel too worthless to move on. This protects abusers from fear of abandonment in two ways: by psychologically hogtying victims as well as “externalizing” the abusers’ fears of abandonment by making the partner chronically afraid of being abandoned. Cheating is arguably one manner by which abusers can “transfer” their own fear of being abandoned to their victims. When I worked as an advocate for domestic violence survivors, I never met a single survivor who hadn’t also been cheated on so I agree with the emerging view that cheating is part and parcel with coercive control (https://www.joplinlawyers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/FINAL-COPY-Infidelity-as-a-Consideration-in-Domestic-Abuse-and-Coercive-Control.pdf).

It’s all fascinating stuff but the danger is that, when you’re still entrapped, you can end up huffing hopium and thinking the abusers’ psychic flaws are somehow “fixable.” Nope. The flaws described above are part of batterer and serial killer profiles, not mere sad sausage quirks (recidivism for batterers is about 97%. And have you ever heard of a reformed serial killer?). For the time being, it’s probably more productive to simply identify the abuse you’ve likely been enduring all along, then identify each and every “threat” your abuser has ever even subtly hinted at and, one by one, start to take actions that will protect you from each threat. If he’s ever insinuated that you’re an “unfit mother” and he might try to deny you of custody of your kids, documenting his neglect or any abusive behavior your kids are exposed to can help to block such a threat. For every one of his past threats– subtle or un– that you’re able to block, you’ll find yourself feeling less and less mentally entrapped.

You won’t be fully able to cut the “captor bonding” wires until your completely safe so don’t wait for a feeling of full closure to prompt attempted escape. Just trust that “meh” awaits you. The good news about captor bonding or Stockholm syndrome is that, once it dissipates, you’ll likely have little remaining sentimentality towards this guy, proving that what “kept you trapped” all those years was not love for him but love for something worthier, likely your children. Your ability to love is a strength, not a weakness. But the really diabolical thing about abusers it that they’re skilled at turning victims’ strengths into liabilities. I wish you strength and peace, all the support you need and a shining future.

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago

Your insights are amazing. My STBX left a hole in the wall of every room where he slammed the door in a fit of rage. He would move our wedding picture out of sight. My son caught him once and asked him what he was doing. He was a passive-aggressive rage-o-holic who blamed me for everything that was not to his liking. One of the last things he said to me: it’s been a shitty 30 years.

SMDH. Some sane people give thanks for three healthy children and a partner who works, pays the bills, cleans, grocery shops, makes doctors appointments, and basically does everything so he can sit on his lazy ass and text his “lady friends” all day and night.

Look at his social media—where I was blocked for years—he looks like a loving single dad. Joshing it up with everyone like a sweet good guy.

No mention of the wife appliance. He must have hatched these kids from eggs! Or found them by the side of the road! Wife appliance is a deranged battle ax. He’s only there “for the children.” The children he ignored on a daily basis unless he was posting their pictures on social media.

Disgusting. He lived in a fantasy world with his fantasy “friendships” that existed on his phone, which he wore to sleep!!! And now he gets to live alone IRL like the miserable lump he is and his kids don’t even want to see him. They’re like: “nah, I’m good just staying home.”

These FWs want to make you the villain because they can’t bear to look at themselves. Too horrifying. So they make you the perp and they can be the innocent victim. “I’m just a helpless baby bird! She’s the crazy controlling bitch! I’m trapped!” When it’s really the other way around. We are trapped.

But being a victim is a black hole. It means no options, no agency, no hope. There is a theory that counters the drama triangle. So instead of victim, villain, rescuer it’s creator, coach, something else. Look it up. It helped me understand theses unspoken, hidden roles and choose something else. Good luck out there!!

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago
Reply to  DrDr

My ex, one night in a fit of drunken rage, slammed two doors in our house so hard they CRACKED. Solid wood doors. I always wondered how he explained that to OW, who thought I was making up the abuse I suffered at his hands. He also once punched a wall and split his hand, and then waved his hands around wildly while he screamed at me, spattering blood all over my kitchen. I was finding droplets of dried blood for months afterwards.

“Look at his social media—where I was blocked for years—he looks like a loving single dad. Joshing it up with everyone like a sweet good guy.

No mention of the wife appliance. He must have hatched these kids from eggs! Or found them by the side of the road! Wife appliance is a deranged battle ax. He’s only there “for the children.” The children he ignored on a daily basis unless he was posting their pictures on social media.

Same. I remember seeing a video he put on YouTube (promoting one of his films or something) where he was bemoaning how hard it was to be a single dad. Hilariously, this was during Covid lockdown and MY SON WAS LIVING FULL TIME WITH ME. FW hadn’t had our kids in MONTHS. He also posted EVERYTHING he did with our kid on social media and then ate up the attention he got for being such a “great dad”. Meanwhile he wasn’t paying child support, refused to contribute anything towards school supplies, clothing, hair cuts, or anything else our son needed. That was all on me. FW made out in our divorce paperwork that I never did anything with our kid and just ignored him, based on the fact that I didn’t put stuff on Facebook. Sorry that I’d rather just, you know, spend quality time with my son rather than turn every outing into a photo op. FW was the epitome of the Disney dad, and thought that buying presents for our kid fulfilled his financial obligations. (“I bought him a TABLET and a SKATEBOARD, what do you mean you need money for medical expenses and clothes??”)

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago
Reply to  DrDr

The empowerment dynamic: Creator-coach-challenger! That’s where to put your energy.

Principled Life
Principled Life
1 year ago

Hell of a Chump:

Thanks so much for this…exactly what I needed to hear today. And just wanted to say, your beautiful spirit, caring, and lovely heart shines through everything you wrote.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago

“One clinical name for this type of gaslighting is “perspecticide”– one of the chief things that abusers do to isolate and control victims. Basically they make you think you’re worthless and no one will ever love or support you. Over time, as you’re made to feel more “worthless,” you start to “smell” desperate to others which tends to freak shallow or unreflective people out. Then you’re even more isolated. Then you’re so discouraged that you isolate yourself. And voila! The abuser’s work is complete! But abusers typically don’t rely on their own messaging that victims’ narratives and perspectives are “invalid” (you know, the glazed looks or yawns or general impatience or scoffing rage when you try to offer your perspective or feelings). Abusers will also systematically triangulate to make sure that no one else validates the victim either. Abusers are tireless in this respect. The reason that no one is listening to you or supporting you is because your abuser, like a dedicated counterintelligence agitator or political PR “ratf*cker,” has been going around behind your back for years casting you as crazy or incompetent or worse.”

This perfectly describes my (former) life. I have no confirmation, but that fact that EVERY mutual friend cut me off and sided with FW and OW tells me that FW had been smearing me to all of them, probably for years. Not one person in my social circle (which was all FW’s, because he systematically isolated me from MY friends and family) ever so much as asked me how I was doing, if I was okay, or asked for my side of the story. NOT ONE.

“The good news about captor bonding or Stockholm syndrome is that, once it dissipates, you’ll likely have little remaining sentimentality towards this guy, proving that what “kept you trapped” all those years was not love for him but love for something worthier, likely your children. Your ability to love is a strength, not a weakness. But the really diabolical thing about abusers it that they’re skilled at turning victims’ strengths into liabilities. I wish you strength and peace, all the support you need and a shining future.”

It’s TRUE! I thought I loved my husband so much. But once I got away, every vestige of feeling for him dissipated. It didn’t turn to hate, it just turned to indifference.

HoaC, I really enjoy your well thought out and insightful replies.

MrWonderful’sEx
MrWonderful’sEx
1 year ago

Wow. I seriously took notes. I will be checking out “Coercive Control.” So much of this matches things I have been through.

The attempt at social isolation. The making it to others behind my back that I’m dumb. All of it. He definitely tried. Thankfully most people around me see through him. My friends all found him odd or mean in various ways. He outed himself and his plan to isolate me backfired as friends have rallied to offer help when they could see me clawing my way out. Having a supportive social network can make all the difference, which is why I really feel for the LW.

I have no illusions that I have not stayed out of love for klootzak. When I started my escape plan, my son was too little to speak up about things. In my state, it is highly likely that klootzak will get a 50/50 custody arrangement. I have always been able to speak up and push back when klootzak was harsh with our son. Fear of not being there for the child was one of many things that kept me tied. But now a couple years on, I feel like my son can tell me when something bad has happened and I can get him to a counselor or enlist help dealing with his father in some way. He is still young but he knows the difference between truth and lies and is capable to tell me if something is amiss. I’m less afraid for him. And so now I’m ready. From the moment he was born, I have been tied here in order to protect him as best I can. And I believe klootzak has used that dedication to my son as a means to control. Absolutely. He is in for a rude surprise.

CurlyChump
CurlyChump
1 year ago

Can we get a bookmark for this comment? It’s so illuminating.

Unicornomore
Unicornomore
1 year ago

Damn HOAC, one again your missives explaining this abuse in detail describe my former life in detail. I think Cheaters dad was a bully and Cheater acted it out exactly as you described. Its true that one is unlikely to be able to admit it to yourself how abusive it is until you are out. Ive been shocked by the amount of abuse I lived with on a daily basis and that I was able to stay hopeful of a relationship where he showed me every day that he did not value me.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 year ago
Reply to  Unicornomore

Hope for change is kind of a default when all other choices have been systematically removed. I suspect the Stockholm syndrome defense goes back to our ape roots where underlings had no choice but to bond with and grovel for amnesty from violent alphas. Alphas also love-bomb periodically to reinforce groveling. Primatologists describe how that bonding looks like sheer devotion on the part of the lower rank apes and, since apes aren’t known for subterfuge, I’m sure it’s sincerely felt. But the second an alpha becomes weak or loses support, the next in line will suddenly do a 180 and go for the alpha’s throat. If the beta wins the death match, the entire troop will do a 180 and follow the winner.

So Stockholm syndrome may also have evolved to be suddenly shed like the mask it is– at least for apes. My personal high fallutin’ theory about the effects of childhood abuse is that, in a certain way, it’s simply a stripping away of civilized behavior and a “return” to ape-like social organization where might makes right and it’s all kill-or-be-killed. Apes are infanticidal cannibals so not everything “natural” is good. The more someone internalizes abuse, the more ape-like they become. On that model, FWs, when they think they “love” another person, are really just captor bonding with that partner. Hyper-idealization is arguably fear-based on some level. The abuser sees the partner as greater than themselves and so they grovel at first. But then the partner turns out to be human and breakable and this triggers the apey 180. It might explain how FWs are able to violently shift loyalty from one person to another as if flipping a switch.

But someone who didn’t internalize abuse in childhood, who is not adapted to ape-like social organization and who is geared to actually love and trust others wouldn’t come with the captor bonding mechanism already in place. They’d have to be actively abused and systematically broken as adults to produce the captor-bonding effect. Once a person like that escapes danger, they probably wouldn’t find it quite as easy to suddenly shed the captor bonding and would probably struggle with dissonance for quite a while in the wake of it, not sure whether what they felt was love or just enforced dependency. Basically chumps suffer all this shit because we’re not apey enough.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago

“On that model, FWs, when they think they “love” another person, are really just captor bonding with that partner. Hyper-idealization is arguably fear-based on some level. The abuser sees the partner as greater than themselves and so they grovel at first. But then the partner turns out to be human and breakable and this triggers the apey 180. It might explain how FWs are able to violently shift loyalty from one person to another as if flipping a switch.”

Wow. Yes. I always said that when FW realized I was human, he rejected me. It got worse once I had a baby, and had complications, post partum depression, and gained some weight. The jealousy of his own child and the attention I gave the baby is just another fear of abandonment. His abuse escalated at that point and never stopped. He then turned to idolizing OW, but she too ended up being human with human needs and foibles, and he started overtly abusing her as well. He’d been subtley abusing her since the beginning; I could see that from the outside looking in in a way that I hadn’t been able to when it happened to me. Little remarks and asides, “jokes”, complimenting me in front of her, criticising me in front of her. Teaching her what was and was not acceptable to him, but in such a slow way that she thought (as I had) that these were all her own ideas, and that she was simply growing and expanding as a person, not that she was conforming to his wishes in her tastes and behavior.

Fern
Fern
1 year ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

Thank you for that comment ISTL. You (and HofAC) have articulated my experience precisely. It happened decades ago but I’ve never been able to capture it so succinctly. “The jealousy of his own child and the attention I gave the baby is just another fear of abandonment.” In my case, the arrival of the second child, a boy this time, sent him over the edge he was already rocking.
I used to feel such sympathy because he had such a chaotic upbringing and was actually abandoned by his dad. But that is not a license to ignore your own baggage and act like a tyrant in the family.

weedfree
weedfree
1 year ago

Awaiting your book HOAC ~ although you refer to well known DV authors you bring it together in a unique way ~ I’ve shared some of your stuff at work (family law/dv) because there is not a lot of literature on covert abuse.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago
Reply to  weedfree

Yes, a book! I’ve said it before, and I know you said you’re not “qualified”, but you really are – you don’t have to set yourself up as a psychologist to be able to write an insightful book drawing on the research you’ve done. I have learned a lot from your comments, and think you could really help a lot of people.

Magnolia
Magnolia
1 year ago

Flowers, if you’re on Vancouver Island, I’ll meet up with you!

Flowers
Flowers
1 year ago
Reply to  Magnolia

Southern Ontario unfortunately lol

Ironwood
Ironwood
1 year ago
Reply to  Flowers

Anywhere near Georgian Bay?

ChumpBucket
ChumpBucket
1 year ago

I spent too much time lining up my ducks (2 years that I won’t get back). I would grasp the slightest bit of hopium, or rationalize making it work because we have a child with special needs and one going to college. I couldn’t fathom ending a 25 year relationship. . . until I found out about more deception. Then, I couldn’t stomach another minute with the FW. I borrowed money from family and a friend. I took out a credit card as a back up if I couldn’t get help (it had a high interest rate, but it would have been worth it. I’ve paid enough with my mental health). Please do what you need to do to get away from this abuser.

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago
Reply to  ChumpBucket

I was listening to a podcast called Flying Free and a few ideas were proposed: 1) buy gift cards and stash them away, 2) get cash back when you go grocery shopping and when you have enough, open a bank account in your name, 3) use a credit card to pay your lawyer’s retainer until you get court ordered spousal support. I haven’t personally tired these methods, but they sound like they could work in a crisis situation. Good luck!

Unicornomore
Unicornomore
1 year ago

“It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you’re not burdened with abuse.”

Yes. This.

weedfree
weedfree
1 year ago

If you want to leave, money matters. On the topic of financial abuse, I just watched an interesting YT video by Richard Grannon “Defeat The Narcissist Control Your Finances”. He talks about slave conditioning by those in power (the wealthy, the church) who propagate a lie that money doesnt matter. I always thought I was not “materialistic” as it was part of my personality, and FW used a bunch of tricks to keep things that way. Now I can see how my conditioning made me a sitting duck for financial abuse. I wont ever get my thrills from spending up at the shop, but I understand at least how I ended up in a trap.

2xchump0.again
2xchump0.again
1 year ago

I am age 70 now and got a protection order so my husband could not get back in the house as he was out of his own control. That was 9 months ago. I was actually alone for years as he looked for other woman to fulfil his sick needs, but I thought I was loved. There a many illusions and holograms that we call husbands or wives, but they are not present. I did call Shelters in distress but I would suggest calling them before you plan to leave and find out about pro bono lawyers and those that will help you. I did find lower cost legal help through the shelter. There is free legal aide in some counties and you can ask questions if you don’t already have a lawyer. Plan ahead, plan and get ready to leave. You do need lots more courage as you have been emotionally beat down like I was so find a professional support person, through the shelters or social service agency. That helped me alot. I did see a lawyer 1 hr free and they will help you get started.
Also don’t forget your husband can clean you out completely and be getting ready to leave you forever, never think he wont do that. Also, Im sure it was mentioned, STD testing all the time. That is when I got a clue, while I was up in stirrups. I had an awakening. I called my husband and was screaming at him on the phone, and do you know what ? He was going to leave work and come to the GYN office parking lot to comfort me while I was crying!! True story. The abuser would comfort me. How sick is that? If you can’t move and you are frozen, get help. You are way stronger than you think. Feel the fear and do it anyway. You are being systematically abused and used. I am so sorry, but I was too. You can do it

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago

Dear Flowers, it’s scary to think you’re alone. But it can also be empowering. Alone means you get to decide and no one insults or degrades you. Alone means peace and healing. No dick pics getting emailed to you!! No in-laws from hell. I’m with CL that there are non profits and women’s organizations that can help. If you are employed, does your employer have an employee assurance helpline? If your children have medical conditions, there must be assistance for you as their primary caretaker? Staying with FW is limiting your ability to think of and access other options. I am sorry you are going through this. But it sounds like you are a strong and responsible woman who needs to recognize she is in a crisis. My FW got violent. You don’t want to wait so long that it turns to that. Please figure out how to get yourself and your kids to safety. Wishing you peace and healing.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
1 year ago
Reply to  DrDr

“Alone means you get to decide and no one insults or degrades you. Alone means peace and healing.”

150%. It is so nice to be alone.

DrDr
DrDr
1 year ago

This was me too!!
And
I was ALREADY alone. His physical presence had me fooled, like poker chips in a casino keep your perception blurry about how you are playing with cash.

Someone’s physical presence is not an indicator of loyalty. You can’t verify what’s in someone’s mind and heart, and with today’s technology they can be conducting an affair seated on the couch with you during Family Movie Night. Or when they “go to the bathroom”…..

Wow
Wow
1 year ago

I literally do nothing but work. I have no time or money for extracurriculars…and yet after a few years, I realized I’m happier & more peaceful than I ever was in my marriage. I finally have CONTROL over my life. And that is priceless. It was an adjustment for a long while, but I got there. Money & convenience is a trap. Don’t let it keep you there any longer.

MrWonderful’sEx
MrWonderful’sEx
1 year ago

I met with multiple attorneys. I think the letter writer should do the same and get serious about lining up her ducks. But it has to be a real commitment to go.

The attorneys I met with shed light on things I needed to do to prepare. My state requires 1 year of separation and unless Klootzak actually left (which looked like it was going to happen for a solid year) there is no guarantee I will be the one awarded exclusive use of the home. Plus the fact that I was hoping he might go and even file first as I’m terrified of his reaction. I mean, from a safety standpoint, I think there is a real chance he could be a threat to me and our child. So I needed to be ready with first/last month’s rent and all kinds of things. Klootzak never allowed me to have a major credit card. I am an authorized user on his and when he takes me off, my credit will take a big hit. So I had work to do on that, as well. I am dealing with a retired military officer so I needed the right attorney who knew what they were doing and who I trusted to do well for me and not back down from klootzak. It took me 5 months to find the right one and another year to scrape together the retainer. From the time of my first attorney consult to today, has been over 2 years. But I am now on the precipice of announcing to MrWonderful that it’s over and setting the wheels in motion.

I absolutely cannot do this more than once. When I move forward on this, there will be no turning back. I’m trying to sort out how to tell him and keep myself safe. I have friends who will have my son on an overnighter to keep him away from the house. Tomorrow I am calling a local domestic abuse group to see what else I should do. Tell him out in a public place I assume, but then what? Stay the weekend with friends to give him time to cool off? Should I tell him on a weekday so he can reach an attorney and start his own conversation to help level his head? (I remember as a supervisor, they always told us you never let someone go on a Friday as they will stew all weekend and maybe come back to the office on Monday to do violence. If you let someone go on a Wednesday, the next day they can reach people in their network and start floating their resume for another position. They can start moving on by reaching out for support from people who are at their desks.) Anyway, I’m calling the local experts for tips and advice. This last leap is terrifying. Klootzak has thrown things before but not raised a hand to me. But he spent over 25 years in the military being trained on how to do violence and I have come to believe he is not right in the head.

To the original letter writer: you have to make a real concrete plan to get out. What you are in now is misery. Once you make a mental shift to taking the reins to end it, it will help you feel stronger to do it. I think you’re scared. I totally get it. I have not been Wonder Woman able to just up and leave overnight. I understand it’s awful but get an attorney on your side, talk to a therapist, put the wheels in motion to leave. As my STBX was making plans with work to move, I put a date on the calendar and said if he hasn’t started moving by X date, I have to do this myself. And I am. I’m finishing the paperwork this week. I turn 50 next year and I don’t want to waste more time on a cheating idiot. Do you?

You asked about people who had completely moved to a new place and all that. Sorry to say that I am not such a person so have no advice. The town I am in is MY town. I have all the friends here. My child does, too. Klootzak’s town is 4 hours away and I hope that once I tell him it’s over, he sees it as a grand opportunity to move. In fact, I may sell him on that. lol I’m terrified of him so making this sound like a win for him is in my best interest. In your situation since you want to go, I think the advice of CL and CN to talk to women’s organizations for guidance is sound. They may have connections in other towns to give you a hand up. You seriously have to start somewhere. Be brave and find better life.

Sandyfeet
Sandyfeet
1 year ago

Getting a card in my name while still married was the first advice my attorney gave me. My eye doctor told me I also needed to use it, I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me. I think I just wanted it to have as a back up. I stopped to get gas & it wouldn’t go through, I went home with a scary feeling, called company and they reset it. I went back out and used it right away. It was set up for electronic billing to my email.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
1 year ago

MrWonderful’sEx, re “Klootzak never allowed me to have a major credit card.” I think that in the US, a married woman can get a card in her own name relying on joint income. I may be wrong about that, but you might want to look into it.

Also, it’s possible to get what’s called a secured credit card to build (or rebuild) credit. See this link from forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/credit-cards/best/secured/

If you’re worried about Klootzak seeing correspondence about the card, rent a PO box!

IcanseeTuesday
IcanseeTuesday
1 year ago

Flowers – Many chumps have read about the additional internal resources they discovered. I found that I felt years younger when I left. Sure, I was traumatized/stressed but I did more without sleep. I made lists and thought systematically. I prioritized. I gathered information. I didn’t drink or do drugs. I suspect you already do this for your children. And I am sure your FW will not keep up.

Shann
Shann
1 year ago
Reply to  IcanseeTuesday

Tuesday

This is wise advice I also don’t drink or do drugs and I feel so great going through this and reaching for nothing to numb me.
Well, maybe the donut I had earlier but I’m on “vacation” haha

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
1 year ago

In-laws generally suck in these situations. I often wonder if one of the predictors for being with a Cheater is seeing how the in-laws treat the Chump the whole time. Do they actually care about the Chump or do they politely tolerate the Chump? If you know your in-laws are frauds in their ‘love’ of you….go ahead and expect to be chumped. A cheater learns how to treat a spouse by either the support or erosion of their parents’ feelings about that spouse.

Chump Lady’s line “YOU ARE ALONE” is absolute truth, and Chumps forget it too often when making the to-stay-or-not-to-stay soliloquy.

Seven months after d-day and one month after my FW literally abandoned us, I was speaking with my therapist and referring to potential divorce said “Well, if the worst happens…”

She stopped me and interjected a great splash of much needed cold water. “HunnyBadger, the worst HAS happened. You’ve already been through the worst and you’re still standing.”

I hope everyone remembers this: you are already alone, you’ve been handling it alone for some time now whether you knew it or not. Your worst has happened.

Everything else is just paperwork and no contact.

KatiePig
KatiePig
1 year ago

Do you think it’s going to be easier when he dumps you? Because he will eventually. And then you’ll still have no support and you’ll still be the bad guy and you’ll be older and it’ll be harder to start over. It’s not fun, ask me how I know.

Shann
Shann
1 year ago

Flowers-
I am so sorry! His family has probably been filled full of bs because one thing I’ve learned is they (cheaters) need to look good and make you look bad when under pressure.
Shame on his dad but yeah- you don’t need his flowers. I’m happy you’ve bought yourself flowers it’s something that Mel Robbins suggests anyway! (She’ll also offer you strength check her out on YouTube)
Cl needs to meet with her it would be great!
Anyway, I am on my second crappy relationship and the first one I had my daughter with- was psycho and jumped out of my car during an argument and his family hated me ever since. It used to hurt me too but then I realized they’re crappy people who I don’t need to know and they dumped my daughter as did he. They’re terrible people and she’s better off without them despite the pain it has caused
You are better than them and I hope you know this💛
Come here often- it’s what everyone has told me too!
And another thing someone told me here is to get out sooner than later Orr this would become my new “norm”

Gorilla poop
Gorilla poop
1 year ago

Raccoons in the chimney! Lol! I had that and it sucked. It sucked 1/100th of being married to a cheating FW. At least I could hire someone to come out and “rehome” the raccoon.

When I finally threw out my cheater, he left behind bed bugs (from his week of BDSM cheating at Burning Man). It took 2 years and heating up the entire house to 130 degrees Fahrenheit to get rid of the bed bugs.

The only thing worse than the bed bugs was if FW had stayed.

Helpful note: any reputable bed bug exterminator will laugh awkwardly and say no when you offer to pay them extra to rehome the bedbugs to your ex’s place.

Gorilla poop
Gorilla poop
1 year ago

CL is right. You are now in an emergency situation. Nowhere to turn, medically vulnerable kids, not even an emotional support system. Your own folks gettin CPS involved. You are alone and are sleeping with the enemy. Cheaters step up their abuse when you are at your most vulnerable. Pulling the rip cord now will gain you access to a safety net, that others who do care for you, will supplement. Staying means 2 years of showing the world that you have agreed to this treatment and are getting something out of it. You will never have ‘enough money.’

I wish I had left the first time, but I was terrified of how my life would change and what I would lose. I know now that we would have recovered quicker and we would be farther ahead in life today, had I made that leap the first time.

I stayed another 3 years, but I took my lawyer’s wisdom to heart: “what are you going to do when it happens again?” When it happened again, my ducks were in nice, neat rows, with a post-nup, an exit plan, 50/50 custody angreement, and stable finances.

But the reverberations of those three years of wreckonciliation still affect me, and only confused the kids. I made Dad look good so the kids wouldn’t hate him. I paid off all our debts, only to have the FW’s parents sue me later and force me to sell our home. I endured abuse from an employer so I could maintain our lifestyle, but ended up with CTPSd and fired. I spent two years battling the bed bugs the FW left behind, and $5k to get rid of them.

My lawyer is rich from me having to coerce my ex into exhibiting decent parenting behavior, when I probably should have moved back home the first time, and he would have happily agreed to ‘Christmas Dad’ custody.

Friends and family would have seen me at my most vulnerable and the good ones would have reached out and helped. But, no, I spent those three years setting things up, so I wouldn’t need to ask for help. That was a mistake.