Infidelity Recovery: You’re Stronger Than a Cheater

infidelity recovery

When it comes to infidelity recovery, let’s just skip to the end — you survive. If you’re new to this nightmare, you might be curled up in the fetal position thinking, “Enough of your happy talk. I want to puke for days and then cross-reference the cell phone bill for escort services.”

Listen my chumpy friend, you’re stronger than a cheater. The pain is finite. How long it sucks really depends on how quickly you get the right kind of help, and what sort of people you surround yourself with. Here’s a primer to help you avoid rookie mistakes and the wrong kind of help.

Most of the infidelity recovery advice and resources out there make two mistakes:

  1. They assume the victim, the chump, should be wholly invested in the cheater’s self-improvement journey. (Aka, untangle their skeins, explore their issues.)
  2. They assume reconciliation, which at best minimizes, and at worst, discourages chumps from self-protective measures. Such as seeing an attorney, securing the finances, going no contact.

Let’s take these point by point. (Then we’ll get into what it really takes to get over it.)

It’s not your job to help a cheater with their issues.

Not only isn’t it your job to help an abuser learn how to stop abusing you, it’s offensive that anyone would think it is.

The problem is that a lot of therapists still don’t see double lives and secret sexual basements as abusive. Many still believe in dual accountability (you’re both at fault) and unmet needs (your failures drove your partner to cheat) and see infidelity through the prism of a “relationship problem.”

Seeing infidelity as a relationship problem and not an abuse problem is blameshifting, because it implies that the quality of the relationship (judged by whatever metric) caused the cheating and improving the relationship will end the cheating.

The relationship didn’t cheat. One person inflicted harm unilaterally. You did not consent to abuse. You do not control other people. Thinking if you just understood the cheater’s motivations, you could prevent further harm is voodoo.

If you believe you have a remorseful cheater who wants to be a better partner, the first sign of contrition would be not feeling entitled to a further relationship with you. A truly sorry person would not blame you for their actions, or assume you’ll be cleaning up their messes.

Reconciliation and self-protection are not mutually exclusive.

Another sign of real remorse is accepting consequences. Anyone who encourages you to meet abuse with greater vulnerability is a quack.

Imagine this was a business relationship and you were considering investing with an embezzler. He’s very sorry for embezzling the pension fund. He’s in therapy. It won’t happen again.

Would you take his word for it? Or would you want assurances? Transparency? An auditor? Overseers? Okay, or even some jail time before you’d even consider it.

Now what if your reforming embezzler said, no, just take me back and let’s invest greater sums of money together. I think you should show some faith in me because we’re business partners!

Not a single competent professional would sign off on that gamble. Your heart is worth more than that. Don’t meet abuse with greater vulnerability. Don’t invest more. PROTECT YOURSELF. Assuming that embezzler was really straightening up, he wouldn’t balk at your protections. He would recognize the harm he inflicted and the understandable lack of trust.

Self-protection should be the focus of your infidelity recovery.

Chances are your cheater is like that embezzler, he just wants an easy mark and zero consequences. Who cares what a con wants? If you want to get over this heartbreak, you have to start advocating for yourself. Self-protection looks like:

Doing these things doesn’t make you bitter or churlish. It means you’re strong. You don’t need consensus from your cheater to act in your best interest. (They didn’t consult you when they cheated.)

So what’s being healed look like?

It’s acceptance, or what we call “meh” — a place where the cheater (or the affair partner(s) no longer have the power to hurt you. You’ve rejected their centrality.

It can take a very long time to un-bond from someone you once loved. And it’s painful, because you loved with your whole heart. Don’t compare yourself to shallow people with shallow attachments (like cheaters who swap partner like old air filters).

The best kind of people honor their commitments and love deeply. You deserve a partner who loves as deeply and faithfully as you do. Real infidelity recovery is knowing your worth.

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Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
27 days ago

A wonderful, uplifting article. I love it! For chumps still in the thick of it, or stuck in the sad, might I offer a tip or two? Here are some things to soothe and preoccupy yourself!

1. Make yourself a hot drink!

2. Find a relaxing music mix or ambience video on YouTube to listen to.

3. Watch a video essay or documentary!

4. Indulge in, or learn, some sort of crafting hobby. Scrapbook! Paint birdhouses! Knit a potholder or a scarf! Make jewelry! Heck, don’t be afraid of using a kid’s craft kit – just create with your own hands. It’ll help you feel better.

5. Talk to friends, family, neighbors, a cashier at the grocery store… whoever you can trust. Opening up will help a lot.

6. If you can afford it, buy yourself something small and nice. A new desk calendar. A cute pen. A throw blanket. A goofy space print t-shirt. That, now, is something for YOU. No one else. Because you have to make space in your life for yourself!

7. A strange pasttime of my mother and I was driving through neighborhoods and judging other people’s houses. We weren’t home owners ourselves, but we would discuss what we did or didn’t like in a home and talk about what we would do differently.

8. Fresh air is important. No energy or time to go outside? Crack your window.

Remember, you are mighty and deserving of love and respect. Your FW brought neither love nor respect to the table.

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
26 days ago

I sense a Friday Challenge here. Practical Tips for Infidelity Recovery? Then we can bookmark it and have a bunch of good ideas in writing and and handy.

What do you think, Chump Lady? 🙂

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

I’m not Chump Lady, but I love that idea!

OHFFS
OHFFS
26 days ago

My daughter and I do the same thing with houses from time to time. I suspect lots of people do it but are embarrassed to admit it, because, as you said, it seems strange. It really isn’t. It’s just daydreaming about your perfect house.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
26 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Awww, it genuinely makes me happy to know that other people do it too!

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
26 days ago

These are awesome. I’d like to add some that helped me as well:
-Find a local event, large or small, that you have any interest at all in, and attend. It is a great way to meet new people who have no idea who your cheater is or will ask you about them. Just escape to a moment where there is fun and new things (like concerts, etc.) that are distracting. Even if for only an hour, it can help reset.

-Meditation of any kind can be very helpful. With a busy mind like mine, I found youtube guided meditations quite useful to calm my anxiety riddled brain.

-Go do something or eat somewhere that your cheater never wanted to. I KNOW there is something, there always is. Savor it. Feel the freedom of not having to take someone else’s opinions into consideration. Do something spontaneous without having to even consider what the other person wants. Fully immerse yourself in the freedom and excitement this can bring you. Feel the opposite of pick me dancing. Pick yourself!

The big thing that helped me was to try to find ways that I could do or enjoy things that were either difficult or impossible for me to do with my FW around. Once we had an actual custody schedule, I turned the lonely (few) times he had our kid into opportunities I never had to go out and do things I wanted just for me. When we were together, every single moment of my life was devoted to him or our child and taking care of or cleaning up after both. I took the small times I now had to myself to actually cultivate my own life again. Turned into the biggest positive ever, both for me and my child. I was a better parent for having time to myself and my own hobbies.

My life was so much better for it. My job performance was better. I was able to organize my life better, and eventually meet someone who shared much more of my own life interests and goals because I stopped catering to FW and his crap.

Leaving me turned out to be a gift to me and my child. FW is still FW so still has the same issues. No longer my problem.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
26 days ago

Love these additions.

Funny you mentioned going places your FW wouldn’t. Ex/FW had some anxiety issues with eating out (At least, when he was with me. I have a gut feeling that he did it with ex/OW – he started mentioning he would “go out alone to eat” and something with that didn’t sit properly) and would throw a noticable fit when social events would involve going to a restaurant. I understand, I have anxiety around movies and therefore won’t go to the movie theater (which he guilt tripped me about), but he could never gracefully bow out. He would embarrass me in front of my friends and family by being huffy and angry, and then just ditching us. Certainly didn’t help my ED any.

There’s definitely something you didn’t do because of your FW – go out and do it!

Mehitable
Mehitable
27 days ago

All great ideas! The basic idea of finding other things, new things even better, to absorb yourself in, is incredibly healthy, not only in diverting the mind from ruminating (thinking the same things over and over) but in realizing that life always has something new to offer. The options may change at different points in life, but we always need to believe that new things – and new people – are still possible. We don’t have to cling to the old.

Last edited 27 days ago by Mehitable
Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
26 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Absolutely! Embrace your new options. It’s hard to see them while you’re in the pain and trauma of betrayal, but I promise, they’re there.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
27 days ago

I have found great value in re-engaging in previous crafting hobbies as described in #4 here. It has permitted me to think with clarity while my hands work and has stripped a lot of the emotion out.

There is also innate beauty in having something tangible to show for your pain.

Hell, I finished my first novel during NaNoWriMo this year. Was never able to do that before.

I would also like to underscore #6, specifically how valuable doing things for YOU is moving forward. I don’t know about the rest of you-I spent a very significant part of my life living for my FW, doing things for her, and putting her first-which was doubly true during the Pick-Me Dance phase and feeling guilty when I did things for myself. As the title of our noble leader’s book states: “Leave a cheater, GAIN A LIFE.”

It is so, so important to take care of yourself and to re-allocate the resources you put into your abuser back into you. That time and energy is yours again.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
26 days ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Congratulations on the novel! Yes, creating things really does help in a deep, deep way.

I’m lucky – I didn’t spend much time with ex/FW compared to others on here. But my time with him was a whirlwind of enduring just about every emotional abuse trick in the book and left me permanently scarred. You’re completely right in that we neglect ourselves in the frenzy of appealing to and covering for the great, almighty FW. Oddly enough, it was when I started doing things for myself that I started realizing that I needed to leave him, rather than leaving him and then doing things for myself. I was left alone a lot, and he often pushed me away, making me feel very isolated in our crappy apartment. It took me a while, but I started to fill that hole with creative endeavors. I truly believe the final straw way remaining in the D&D group (at his insistence!) he left. It gave me time with friends that wasn’t colored by ex/FW, and I discovered that other people actually liked me! I think ex/FW was trying to get me out of the house more. More opportunities for cheating, less having to deal with the emotional labor of having an actual relationship with someone. Other people can do the actual emotional lifting.

Of course, that taught me that other people weren’t disgusted or annoyed by me like ex/FW claimed. And that I could have people who wanted to be around me.

Last edited 26 days ago by Chump-Domain Cleric
Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
27 days ago

Thank you for sharing! Practical tips are essential. I keep them written down so I can remember them….my brain still does not feel like it is running on all eight cylinders….I even forget things when they are written down!

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
27 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Oh, trust me, I have the same issue. ADHD brain is a battle. I recommend, sometimes, setting named alarms on your phone to remember things! Even if it’s a daily reminder to go stand out on the porch for a bit, or walk around the neighborhood, or talk to a friend! You just have to tell yourself you can’t ignore them – you have to drop whatever you’re doing and do what the alarm says!

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
27 days ago

Also

9. Exercise. It helps with everything, particularly if you do it outside so you get fresh air as well. Even if it’s just walking around the block, it helps.

10. Sleep. If you can’t sleep you can’t think straight and you’ll have less energy and resilience. If there’s ever a time to rely on a little temporary pharmacological help, this is it: talk to your doctor.

One last time
One last time
26 days ago

Exercise has been a huge part of my life during this process. It helps settle the nerves. I have not slept very well since the separation. The few good nights sleep I’ve had were after periods on NC. I ought to learn something from that.

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
27 days ago

Exercise does help — I once walked so far with my dogs that I had to call a friend to pick us up and drive us home — the dogs’ pads were raw!

Another thing that my therapist recommended is journaling. I’ve been journaling daily since the suspicions began — a few years before discovery. Writing it out is helpful, but so is being able to look back and read, “Five years ago, I suspected him of cheating and I accepted his lame explanation. The last five years has been miserable. Do I still want to be in this position in five more years?”

One last time
One last time
26 days ago

I’ve been sporadic in my journaling. I really wish I had started much earlier, so I could look back at my progress.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
27 days ago

Love these additions! Yes, exercise and sleep are so helpful. It can be hard to find the time or willpower, but once you do, you’ll feel so much better.

Bluewren
Bluewren
27 days ago

What a great list!
Love your work. 😊

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
26 days ago
Reply to  Bluewren

Aw, thank you! And people keep adding on. It’s wonderful to see, you know?

Bluewren
Bluewren
27 days ago

Give yourself time.
Working through grief is not linear and you will be swamped with waves of emotion at the strangest times.
I still can’t reconcile this stranger with the man who was – and still is- my husband .
Just keep walking forward with those who support and love you.
You will never be the same person again – and that’s not a bad thing- you’ll grow and travel new paths with new people.
Give yourself time- everyone heals differently.

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  Bluewren

That’s the thing that’s so stunning – when you find out this behavior that is TOTALLY UNCHARACTERISTIC of the person you’ve known – sometimes for decades. When I discovered my quiet, shy, gentlemanly husband was doing on-line dating and pretending to be a completely different person, some amalgam of Romeo, James Bond, and Hugh Hefner, it was shocking because it was so at odds with everything I knew about him. Where did this even come from? WHO IS THIS PERSON? We stayed together (he never actually met these women which was my line in the sand) but now I know this is can be part of him, but finding it out absolutely floored me. It’s the ultimate in dissonance.

Bluewren
Bluewren
26 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

It’s crazy, isn’t it?
You feel like you’ve been shoved on to another timeline and none of your life with them actually happened.
It’s so weird.

One last time
One last time
26 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I know. My marriage had been rocky for a while, but I never in a million years would have thought my ex-wife would be capable of betraying me like that. She was always so quiet and meek too. Leave me, I could see that, but seeing her texts with the AP… I just have to realize that I did not really know her. And as badly as it hurt for my marriage to end, I am truly in a better place.

OHFFS
OHFFS
26 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

How do you know for sure he never met them?

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
27 days ago
Reply to  Bluewren

THIS.

I am relatively new to this journey. That being said…it is so odd how close this is to recovering from addiction-there will be false starts and rough days and feeling like you have lost progress. You aren’t-you are re-learning how to walk. Some days it feels easy-other days you have to push your mind through putting one foot in front of the other. The journey is so much more about not being where you were than where you want to be. I mean…hell…I don’t know where I am going to end up. But even in all of the pain it’s so much better than what I had.

I hear you on “reconciling the stranger.” Where the change happened. Where the “real them” went. And why we kept trusting and loving them. It’s because we’re good people that got abused and taken advantage of and when the chips were down they turned out to be anything other than human.

Bluewren
Bluewren
26 days ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Yes, Jeff!
We are learning to walk again .
I don’t know where I’ll end up either but I know it’ll be better than being lied to gaslit and cheated on.
The fact that what we see now is who they were all along is a hard, hard truth.

FormerlyKnownAs
FormerlyKnownAs
27 days ago

This is all excellent advice especially the part about gathering up a support team. I did that and it helped so much.

was married for 25 years to someone I thought was my best friend and who loved our daughter and our life together. Now 4.5 years after DDay and one year after divorce is finalized he’s moved to another city and sends a plane ticket for our daughter every few months. He doesn’t text or call her between these occasional visits he has with her.

Despite that I’m nearly at meh. I don’t care who he’s with or who is sleeps with, etc but I’m gobsmacked that he doesn’t care much for our daughter. He fought the system and me so hard that I negotiated a settlement where he didn’t have to continue paying child support: he wasn’t paying anyway and he didn’t give two shits about the legal consequences so I decided to stop trying in order to preserve my mental health.

He did so many awful things to me, but rejecting a child is a whole next level thing to get over. Getting to meh for myself has been hard enough but I’m not yet at meh when it comes to his parental abandonment. It makes me wild when I think about it! Does anyone have words of wisdom about that aspect of meh?

Chumpolicious
Chumpolicious
26 days ago

When my mom died my dad got a new wife and took more care of her adult kids than his own. He got an entire new family. Lucky for me I had decided he sucked when I was a teen, so divested myself emotionally from him long ago.

Its common for men to care more for their wives than their kids. If their kid and wife were drowning and they could only save one. They would save the kid. The reason being they could always make more kids. As women we would save our child, we can always get a new husband. It is pretty unusual for a cheater to be a great dad. I guess it could happen. But in the old days men just abandoned their kids and you didnt know where they went. Nowadays the men can be found and we frown upon abandonment so they kinda pretend to be involved for image. The sooner your daughter can let him go the better she will feel. Its the hopium of an invested dad that hurts. Going No contact can help. I dont have to go NC because speaking to him doesnt bother me. Its lime talking to a distant uncle. But thats easier when you have a fulfilling life. I guess thatscwgat CL means by gain a life. I hope your daughter gets to meh.

OHFFS
OHFFS
26 days ago

I do suspect rejecting children is a thing with all FWs, to varying degrees.They will keep the relationship if their children aren’t angry about the cheating and don’t hold them to account. If not, they may put up a pretense of still caring with the occasional text or visit, or they may never see their children again.
If you can abandon a spouse, you can abandon a child. I just accept that there really is no bottom to how shitty a FW can be, so nothing ex could do would shock me. He sends my daughter a perfunctory text once in a blue moon just so he can tell himself he’s a father. He has never tried to rebuild a relationship with her. He regularly goes out of his way to spend time with my other daughter, who does not hold his cheating against him. They only want kids who will feed them kibbles, or at the very least, won’t rain on their ME! ME! ME! parade.

FormerlyKnownAs
FormerlyKnownAs
26 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Good thoughts from everyone. Sad but true, the kids are victims too. My daughter doesn’t like the OW (the one he left with). He tried to create a narrative that he found her later, but she didn’t buy it of course. So that’s probably a factor too- she didn’t accept the lie so he’s punishing her. They really are low lifes.

Leedy
Leedy
26 days ago

This whole thread is very interesting to me. My ex, too, has more or less checked out on our daughter. He has two kids with his current wife, and he treats our daughter (now 33 years old) as if she’s not really part of his family, though she’s more or less welcome to join his new family for their holiday dinners. She recently told me she feels like he sees her as something that’s just “there, like a chair.” (This is so sad for me to see, especially because she’s a sweet, kind, and sensitive soul.) But this thread makes me think: maybe he’s detached himself from her partly because he knows she knows who he is at his worst. He’s narcissistic and hates it when someone sees his feet of clay.

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago

He doesn’t care about his child, he cares about WINNING. I think for many of these people the thing that really matters is….THEY WIN. They don’t seem to derive emotional satisfaction from the people in their lives – their people are important for the status they confer….it’s not that he has a “daughter” it’s that he’s a “parent” and he might be able to use that status. I also suspect that some of them do feel guilty on some level and the best way they handle guilt and feelings of shame (that I think even some of them do feel) is to avoid the source of it. Seeing daughter and interacting with her brings up all the shameful things he did so he probably prefers just to avoid it.

Leedy
Leedy
26 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Yes, to everything you write here.

OHFFS
OHFFS
26 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

“They don’t seem to derive emotional satisfaction from the people in their lives – their people are important for the status they confer….it’s not that he has a “daughter” it’s that he’s a “parent” and he might be able to use that status.”

They do derive emotional satisfaction from kibbles their kids feed them. No kibbles, no relationship. But yes, status and image are also extremely important to them.

“Seeing daughter and interacting with her brings up all the shameful things he did so he probably prefers just to avoid it.”

So true, though I think it’s shame rather than guilt. The anticipation of feeling guilty prevents people from doing bad things to begin with. It’s the purpose of guilt. Shame, otoh, just makes people try to hide their sins. Guilt is about the effect on others. Shame is about how you appear to others. They only care about how they appear, not the pain they inflict.

Leedy
Leedy
26 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

I agree, this is a very interesting distinction. When I found out about my second FW’s infidelity, his reaction confounded me. The shame was clearly there–he was desperate with thoughts of “I’ve f*ed up my life,” and even had fleeting thoughts of suicide–but I kept thinking, where’s the guilt? And without the feeling of guilt, you can’t approach your spouse in such a way as to make reparation to them.

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Very interesting distinction you make about shame and guilt….I’m gonna be thinking about that. Guilt seems to be the internal function – as you say…the thing that stops you from doing something or makes you want to make genuine amends if you do something bad. Shame seems to be the external thing….OTHER PEOPLE KNOW!!!! and think less of you. I would guess these FWs feel a lot more shame than guilt or they wouldn’t do this shit in the first place – but look how many of them want to hide it once the truth comes out. “Hey – Chump, tell everyone we just….grew apart! Don’t tell people about my wandering genitals, especially the kids…..”

Leedy
Leedy
26 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

My ex too wanted us to use the “grew apart” line with his adult kids, which would have been completely implausible. Until D-Day, we had clearly been the best and closest of partners! When he did tell them we were separating, he gave elaborate reasons (in place of the “grew apart” line) that were themselves obviously such a bunch of lies that his kids quickly guessed that he must have cheated on me. So now they are busy trying to absorb the painful fact that their father is both a cheater and, to them, a liar.

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
27 days ago

The abandonment of our daughter is proof of how effed up he is, and his grifting sex worker hitwoman side piece as well. That he denies it is even more mind boggling.

I am more than happy and willing to be there to the max for our daughter. I do not think this will ever fail to hurt for either one of us. There is no “getting over”…..there is “learning to live with”.

I just passed the six-year mark and I recently realized I keep looking for the OFF switch for the pain, but there is no OFF switch.

The pain changes and fluctuates in intensity and frequency and duration, but this is too big of a traumatic event, and a deliberately inflicted one, to ever completely fade away.

It’s bad enough to be chumped, but to think of a child being abandoned by a parent breaks my heart even more.

I have to accept the hurt and pain when it shows up for me, for her, and respond by caring for and loving myself, her. Teaching her how to love and care for herself. It’s tragically part of our life now.

He/ they did not blow up our family. He/ they showed us we did not have one.

I had a MIRAGE.

Last edited 27 days ago by Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

You can’t be a good parent when you deliberately destroy your child’s family unit, their foundation and their safe space, by cheating on (abusing) the other parent. Children learn by modeling, and being a good parent means demonstrating behavior to copy. I have my issues but they do not include doing things that I know will hurt another person or conducting a secret double life. Cheaters and side pieces are injuring the involved children too, as much as they do not want to believe it. You can’t intentionally hurt your child and claim to be a good parent.

OHFFS
OHFFS
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Oh yes, the denial. My FW would say; “Of course I love my daughter!” when his actions consistently proved he did not.
These kind of statements are just the lies they tell themselves voiced aloud.

Samsara
Samsara
25 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

They know it’s a lie. They protest because they mirror what they know they *should* say and do. These types fake normcore behaviors scarily well. They fool a lot of people — many — by doing this. Yet…they know they don’t love anyone. They know exactly what and who they are. Everyone in their life serves a purpose: to glorify the Narc cheater. If you don’t serve this purpose or indeed *a* useful purpose in their mind, they write you out of the script. Kids will be written back in if they do something amazing (like become famous or successful) but basically while they’re a source of responsibility and money (child support etc) children to a Narc cheater will only ever be a burden or a source of abuse for both the chump and the children themselves.
No contact / lowest of low contact for survival if not the win.

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
27 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Our daughter was ten when he left. She just turned seventeen. She is nobody’s fool thanks to me, her therapist, my therapist (who was our former family therapist since she was in utero), and Tracy/ Chump Nation. We’ve been in reality, telling the truth, feeling, healing, and dealing for six years. She will not be lugging the baggage he/they foisted on her through life, unconsciously reacting to it.
She understands circles around both her dad (dud) Mr. Dumb and his side piece(s?) Ms. Dumber, and I am very proud of her psychological savvy, her awareness, her very articulate and astute grasp of the situation. The MAIN THING is that she will benefit from what happened. That she will not re-enact this effed up BS. That she will not be a cheater, a liar, a side piece, or tolerate infidelity and lying in anyone she allows into her life, be it family, friend, or romantic partner. She is that way NOW. That is the dadgum good that has come out of this, and I could not be more thankful.

She wants to be a forensic psychologist for the FBI, and despises cheaters.

😜

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
27 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Speaking of the aforementioned pit crew therapists, trusted friends, 12 step groups, virtual members from wise authors and those online, and Tracy/ Chump Nation…

THANK YOU.

When I crawled here in 2018, my daughter was ten. She was a little bird, social and confident and an excellent student, on her way, soaring for the clouds.

When DDay happened, like most children, she pulled into a shell which then clamped shut. It was instant and overnight.

She was a little bird that was shot down out of the sky by the cheater and the side piece.

She immediately began failing in school. Every morning it was an ordeal to get her a) out of bed, b) ready for school, c) into the car, d) out of the car, e) into school, f) to class. Many mornings we had to make a pit stop where the principal let us use their personal office so she could cry and I could try to shore her up to make it to class.

I don’t know how we did it but we did not do it without a LOT of support from others.

It started every morning by reading here.

She is now a straight A student with zero nudging from me. Does not vape, smoke, drink, do drugs. Is sought out by her fellow students for help and advice. Is not chasing boys or dating, but wants to focus on school right now. Communicates very well and has her confidence back. Is very social and very picky about who she wants to befriend.

YOU ALL SHARE IN THIS ACCOMPLISHMENT. Tracy/ Chump Nation played a huge part in who she is.

❤️ THANK YOU THANK YOU ❤️

PS…my house is a total mess still…..

Leedy
Leedy
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

What a beautiful outcome. You must be so proud of her.

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

News flash…..

An email from Cheater/ Absentee/ Pimp dad just came in.

He is concerned that since Little Hammer got a role in a local play (a first since DDay six years ago) that it has negatively impacted her grades!!!!

And to date has expressed zero concern or awareness for how his and the grifting side piece’s behavior negatively impacted her grades, her life……

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

I don’t know where you’d find the words. How do you think you’d handle this, VH – are you gonna respond at all or just ignore? Looks like he’s found some reason to pick at YOU, using daughter as an excuse. What a POS.

Spinach@35
Spinach@35
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Velvet, I’m so moved by this story.

I would like every would-be cheater to read this as a cautionary tale about how cheating affects the entire family. The kids suffer!! Even adult kids.

When my FW wrote to our adult son right after d-day that “This is between your mom and me,” My son wrote back: “That’s effed up.”

In that same email to our son, he wrote that he’d like to get together to have a beer and explain how he feel in love with this other woman.

How clueless! In response, my son replied that he never wanted to hear from him again.

And his dad feels unfairly persecuted. Guess he thought his kids would rejoice in his new-found love. I marvel at the cluelessness.

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

So Dad doesn’t understand that maybe son doesn’t want to hear about how his own MOTHER WAS REPLACED BY SOME WHORE. Jeez, who woulda thunk it? Did/does Dad have problems with his own Mom? He doesn’t seem to get the whole “Mother” thing….you know how guys used to tattoo “Mom” on their arms, all those old songs about “Mother”….you know, the person whose body you lived in for 9 months and who fed and clothed you personally when you could only eat, shit sleep and scream….you know….that stuff….

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
26 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

For Christmas, Traitor Ex, who last year spent 500K opening an illicit massage parlor and escort service with the Craigslist cockroach (which he does not know we know about) got Little Hammer……a phone holder for a car. That is all. Accompanied by a card which said “I hope you understand someday”……

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

That’s so sad, and I’m sure she does understand. Not how he would like though.

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Thank you for sharing your daughter’s experience with cheating and divorce. We’re told all the time that the kids will be fine, they’ll adapt, yada yada, but the trauma and betrayal and instability and outright neglect (by the betraying parent) is so often downplayed or disregarded.

You don’t just cheat on your spouse….you’re cheating on your whole family and everyone who knows you and relies on you.

FormerlyKnownAs
FormerlyKnownAs
26 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Agreed that it gets downplayed or people assume I should try hard to be nice and “help” her have a relationship with him. I did that at first. I tried to set up regular dinners and things but he never would commit to even a dinner with her. I realized a couple of years ago that I needed to step out of it entirely. I went no contact after DDay and he iced me out forever. So- it could never have been up to me to “help” their relationship get back on track. He fucked it up all by himself just like he did everything else in his life. I really do feel for the innocent kids caught up in the abandonment- it’s so unfair. Even my lawyer noted that these types usually leave the whole family not just the spouse.

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
26 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

I figure if a messy house is in exchange for all the good things, that’s fine. I mean, a happy healthy kid is the biggest win ever. Being the sane parent they can rely on? Priceless. Maybe someday I can afford a maid, but even if not, I’m still winning, and so are you.

Spinach@35
Spinach@35
27 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

Yay re your daughter. Acorn didn’t fall far from the mom tree. #badass #BSsniffer #likehermom 👯

Elizabeth Lee
Elizabeth Lee
27 days ago

That’s how you know they are truly disordered. A normal human being would never reject their own flesh and blood. I was totally shocked when my ex stopped seeing our kids. I knew he didn’t love me any more, but I thought he loved our kids. Turns out it was all an act. He never loved them or me. I don’t think he’s capable of love. I was married for 25 years, too. I guess that’s how long some of them can pretend to be normal.

Shadow
Shadow
26 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

I can imagine Tracy! This is why I count the fact I never had any children with STBX as a blessing, because if we had , things would be even worse. My adult son from another relationship seems mostly unaffected but I can’t help but worry, because FW was the nearest to a dad he ever had and that’s TWO men who were supposed to be parents to him who’ve failed him now! His stepfather and his bio father! He insists he’s fine, and supports me in ending the relationship and going on without FW but , he’s a young man, and he now has no father figure at all that he can look up to, emulate nor even remotely respect and I am concerned how this may affect him. All I can do is try and be the best mum I can be though, and model self-respect and resilience to him.
STBX is not fit to be a father to anyone, so I pray to God he never impregnates any woman! He’s not a fit partner for any woman either and from what I’ve heard, is only degenerating further! He’s on a bad road!

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
26 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Unless your FW dies like mine did. I went through all the emotions: guilt (I should have seen the signs), grief (my poor kid; and this was a person I spent over a decade with and had loved very much), anger (he took his own life and left me to clean up his mess and HOW DARE HE put that on me like some final Fuck You).

But my overwhelming feeling was RELIEF. It was over. All of it. No more abuse, no more threats, no more legal mess, no more fear, no more OW, no more hoovering, no more sharing custody. Done. Over. Gone. Of course I had to get through the first few awful months paperwork and legal entanglements, and though I’m the last person to be happy about someone’s death, I can’t deny my life is SO MUCH BETTER now. My PTSD healed. My health improved. My life is blissfully peaceful and genuinely happy. My son’s anxiety and depression disappeared. My son gets social security survivor benefits, and FW never paid child support so we’re better off financially than we were before too (plus a life insurance payout that’s set aside for his future).

My heart goes out to everyone still dealing with coparenting because the 4.5 years I dealt with that were hell.

Shadow
Shadow
26 days ago
Reply to  ISawTheLight

I often think it would have been easier if I was a widow, rather than a chump, because then I could cherish the good memories and grieve for STBX in a normal, healthy way because I would have lost someone worth having! Someone who really did love my son and me and I could be grateful for him instead of ruing the day I met him!

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
26 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

It sucks when the one person who really wants to hurt you knows exactly what button to push, and will always find it. Meh is an ongoing struggle, I know. Mine threw an absolute banger this holiday season and succeeded in disturbing my meh. But with some healthy coping mechanisms and the support of my husband and friends, I’m over it. Too bad we cannot have those buttons uninstalled. 🙂

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
27 days ago

I guess that for me (the arch over-thinking problem solver that I am) was learning to accept that:

I wasn’t responsible for making it happen;

There was next to nothing that I could have done to stop it from happening and;

That I didn’t “deserve” it to happen (and neither did our children).

Once I got my head around that lot I was in a much better place …. a place that gets a little bit better every day.

LFFT

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
27 days ago

“That I didn’t “deserve” it to happen (and neither did our children).”

This is so important. My FW in the early days post D-Day insisted that it was my fault. And for quite some time I really believed that. (I hadn’t found CL yet) There is a special kind of pain that comes with seeing your future blow up in front of you, and believing it was all your fault.

The real issue was he wanted more attention than I was capable of giving, and an AP provided that magical limerance that filled the void. Never mind that the shiny always wears off and no one was going to provide that “new car smell” for decades.

As with most FWs, cheating wasn’t his only flaw. He was a very difficult person and I tap-danced on eggshells for decades trying to make that miserable man happy. Post D-Day I was saying to a friend that I know I’m not perfect but that I had thought I tried really hard to be a good wife. My friend said “fine, no one is perfect but you were pretty fucking close.” And we both cracked up. But it was eye opening for me, because sure, I had flaws, but I had been a REALLY good wife. And if my flaws gave him permission to cheat? Well, I should have had an affair every 6 months given his long list of misdeeds in the marriage.

It’s “funny” when you mention that your children didn’t deserve what happened, of course they didn’t. Neither did ours. And that just made me think “hmmm…I wonder if that ever occurred to him?” And then I remember. He was concerned about the kids, but did it anyway because he assumed he could bully me into pretending that it was all fine. He wanted me to pretend the divorce was no big deal, and have holidays and dinners with my kids and the AP! And when I refused? I was the one that was hurting our kids. ( That he is still above ground is a miracle that was made possible by the fact that I was out of my mind with grief and terror at the time)

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
26 days ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

Mine insisted that I “pushed him into her arms”. Like, LOL, I don’t think so. Unfortunately at the time he had me so upset that I seriously considered it being part my fault, that I somehow drove him to her. Now, of course, I realize that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. But the FW guidebook and standard lines are common for a reason. They work on chumps.

It’s hilarious when he wanted me to be quiet and not tell anyone why we were divorcing, to tell people we “grew apart”. Dude, if you didn’t want to look bad in front of family and friends, shouldn’t have behaved badly. So sad. Anyway.

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago

I always say – don’t do anything in private you wouldn’t want known in public.

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
27 days ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

SortofOverIt,

I completely agree with you. The reason that I mentioned my tendency towards over-thinking and problem solving is because I know that my immediate reaction to something bad happening to me is to question myself as to what I did that caused it … and that’s before you factor in Ex-Mrs LFTT’s tendency to do things and then blame me because she could. Similarly, being someone who will always seek to solve a problem, I often ended up taking responsibility for dealing with the consequences of someone else’s unilateral decisions. It took me a long while to get control over both of those habits.

As regards your point about the kids (ours were 11, 16 and 18 when Ex-Mrs LFTT left us to be with her AP), she was adamant that they would be “fine” with us getting divorced and that they would accept and embrace her AP with open arms. Plot spoiler; they weren’t and they didn’t, and her manipulation of them to try and get them to play “happy new families” with him caused them a huge amount of damage.

LFTT

Chumpolicious
Chumpolicious
26 days ago

You gotta think of the cheaters as sperm or egg donors, not moms and dads. They dont parent so they dont deserve the title.

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
26 days ago
Reply to  Chumpolicious

Cumpolicious,

I think that they are more like tapeworms. They get inside of you, absorb all of the goodness from the food that you eat and leave you physically and emotionally malnourished.

LFTT

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
27 days ago

I just found two resources which deal directly with “betrayal trauma” without suggesting reconciliation. Recovery is different than couples counseling or grief work. I didn’t even know the name for what had happened to me at the time. DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, “take what you need and leave the rest”.

Betrayal: The Loss No One Is Talking About | Holli Kenley, LMFT | TEDxMountRubidoux – YouTube

7 Effective Strategies for Overcoming Post Infidelity Stress Disorder – YouTube

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
27 days ago
Reply to  Stepbystep

I’m going to tread carefully with Holli Kenley….one of her books is titled Betrayal-Proof Your Relationship….

Just an FYI….

❤️

Last edited 27 days ago by Velvet Hammer
Orlando
Orlando
27 days ago
Reply to  Stepbystep

I watched the first one so far & realized I had moved through doing the inward work intuitively. I’m very much at Meh mostly. But having Holli Kenley’s resources at the time might of made it easier & a better understanding of what I was going through. Thank you for sharing 💕

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
27 days ago
Reply to  Stepbystep

Holli Kenley focuses on betrayal as a loss of “self”, particularly the roles (spouse, in-law) which previously described us. I remember feeling so untethered and still rely on inner work when I feel less than.

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Um…..she creates trauma?

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
26 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Specialist, as in an expert on how to continue to inflict it?

Chumpcat
Chumpcat
27 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

She is, at least on how it is inflicted. Prevention and recovery? Not so much.

Bluewren
Bluewren
27 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

That’s living proof that anyone can label themselves anything if they’re super thirsty for credibility.

Declaring I am a pecan nut doesn’t make it so.
To make it authentic, she needs to have the word ‘Exacerbating’ at the start of her new title.

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  Bluewren

This must be the next level up from “life coach”.

susie lee
susie lee
27 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

A trauma specialist, that is rich.

Wonder how she co mingles Exuberant defiance and Trauma caused by same.

Orlando
Orlando
27 days ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Exactly! I could say so much of how couple’s therapy let me down. Maybe it’s good for couples with minor problems, but certainly an utter waste of time & money after infidelity betrayal & embezzlement of family funds happens.

Rebecca
Rebecca
27 days ago

A message from the other side…
If Tuesday is the day meh arrives then I’m finally at Wednesday.

The first stage was denial, shock and grief. How could I have trusted with a whole heart and been so fooled? How did I not know what was going on right in front of me? Who was this monster I thought was my best friend and life partner? How could he take our life and precious children and blow everything up? And for what? His co-worker? A woman he used to make fun of to his family (he said he was grossed out by lazy eyes and she has one)? A woman he integrated into our family for years?

Then came the depression that hit me like I was being crushed under a mountain of steel. I saw suicide as my only option. Thought the kids would be better off without me. Thank goodness my oldest child stopped me. Two psychiatric hospital stays, a therapist send from heaven, many bad psychiatrists, too many wrong medications, a brilliant psychiatric nurse practitioner and a break-through genetic test finally got me on my then wobbly feet.

The legal battle was long and very, very hard. The best advice I ever got from Chump Lady was to get the best lawyer I could even if I couldn’t afford it. Even if I had to borrow the money to allow me to fight for my future life as best as I could. I read everything on this blog and took notes on what to do and what to ask. When my first lawyer made a mistake that he wouldn’t take responsibility for, I fired his firm and refused to pay the remainder of my legal bill. As someone that hates confrontation, I have no idea how I was able to strongly advocate for myself right up to the law firm’s managing partner!
Then I was blessed enough to find the perfect legal team who understood, cared and was dedicated to fighting for my future life. Because at the end of the day, divorce is about your future (and your kids’ futures of applicable). They let me rant and also took my fury and directed it to being my own detective. No one knows your needs and financial history better than you. Well, except the cheater! So dig, find and work with your lawyers to help organize and present whatever documents are required. It definitely helped that the judge and my legal team hated him even more than I did. They saw him for the lying, cheating sociopath that he is.

During the divorce process I worked on myself. It was many days where getting out of bed was the hardest thing to do. I did EMDR, hypnosis, LOTS of therapy (don’t give up until you find the best fit for you) and I took a group DBT class. DBT offers some of the best coping strategies in the world including acceptance-focused strategies include mindfulness and distress tolerance. Google “Marsha Linehan+DBT+distress tolerance”. There are strategies for self-soothing and distraction to regulate emotions when things seem impossible. I used the ice cube technique A LOT. When holding an ice cube you cannot think about anything other than the ice cube. It breaks the ruminating. When I couldn’t do anything else, I would force myself to clean one thing. Simple little suggestions for when you’re at rock-bottom.

I am a very public advocate for genetic testing for psychotropic medication. It saved my life. I’m sure there are plenty of people who will say that medication isn’t necessary or just wrong. Those people haven’t been in my shoes. When someone is looking at staying alive versus death, every option should be considered without judgment from anyone else.

I truly believe that healing of any sort cannot begin until the divorce process is over. While I did date before the divorce was final, I realized in retrospect that I couldn’t have been ready. I was nowhere near ready to love with a full, happy heart.

My children have been my biggest supports and cheerleaders throughout this marathon. We are a full, happy family without the cheater. What Tracy said is true – when you breed with a fuckwit they are somewhere out there for the rest of your life. I’m not sure that my cheater even realizes how outside his children’s’ lives he is. With my love and support, they have decided to go thru the motions of a relationship for their own children’s sakes or just because it’s easier to pretend they care than to try and tell him how little they care. But I’m the parent. The very sane parent. The one they come to and share the highs and the lows. The one the can trust for advice and to celebrate with. He’s the fake parent they humor. Does he even know that? Does he care? Who knows and who cares.

I can now look at my ex and see the shallow, pathetic person he is. I made him out to be much more than he is. He isn’t the kind, compassionate, nice person I thought he was. Now that we are on the other side of the arc of life, I can see he never became the success he wanted to be, he is unhealthy and overweight due to poor life choices, he lost the love and respect of his children, he lives in the past (is the present too painful and empty?) but he has her. What a prize. Another sad, lonely, self-absorbed, pathetic person. He looks old, tired, unattractive and sad.

I have walked through the bed of hot coals and come out the other side. The hardest thing I ever had to do but I did it and life is so much better here. It took me 10 years to find my rock-solid happy place. I love my life! I love my family and all the friends I’ve kept and made along the way. I’ve found love and happiness and the joy in every day. I’m energetic and enthusiastic and, well, truly happy. I have deep love in my life (shh! My secret life 😊) and I am enjoying every day.

My advice is buy the book and read the whole blog.
Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life: The Chump Lady’s Survival Guide https://a.co/d/7DcushR
Go back to the beginning and read every post and every comment. There are diamonds on every post. Not every word will apply to every situation but the ones that resonate are life-saving.

Tracy is always embarrassed when people tell her that she saved their lives. Too bad for her but it is true. Her blog, her snark, the comments and this crazy community of millions that SHE created save lives every day. And my plea – please join Patreon. Tracy runs this whole operation out of her own generosity and pocket. PLEASE sign up even at the cost of one cup of tea a month. Every bit helps keep this content online and growing.

2xchump
2xchump
25 days ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Amen!!! Join Patreon read everything everyday do it!!

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  Rebecca

I’m so glad that even if we don’t know you personally, we have you in our lives spiritually. So many great things you’ve shared with us here, thank you. As for your FW “I can now look at my ex and see the shallow, pathetic person he is. I made him out to be much more than he is” – what you saw was not him but a reflection of your inner self that sees the good in every person and outcome and what the potential is. That they can’t make that potential happen, is on them – that can’t see it and don’t want to make the effort, but you’re one of these people who sees the possible garden in the desert. We need people like you everywhere.

Beth
Beth
27 days ago
Reply to  Rebecca

“We are a full, happy family without the cheater.” THIS, Rebeca, this is the key to meh! The family circle eventually closes against the wound the cheater created and is whole again. My kids and I are not a family minus one, we are a whole, complete family by ourselves. There is no void where he was or should be. We are more than enough because our family circle is filled with love and trust and the knowledge that we will always be there for each other, no matter what.

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
27 days ago

Here’s my first practical tip that comes to mind….

Dr. Scott Eilers, a licensed clinical psychologist whose niche is depression and anxiety (aka the infidelity victim’s home address) is the newest virtual member of my pit crew. His videos and shorts are gold. In between visits with my IRL therapist, he really helps keep me glued together.

https://youtube.com/shorts/jklfj6ZtbZY?si=3fCBFdl2_1H42IPW

Healing takes a very long time. Be kind to yourself, very patient with yourself. It’s up and down and all around, but forward.

Celene
Celene
27 days ago

Definitely agree with the legal help! One things that helped me with the emotional side: make a physical list -bullet pointed if you have to – of things the cheater did in the relationship where they did not treat you right, broke promises, lied, or threatened you. Keep it in a place you can look at again and again. Keep adding to it when new memories pop up.

I have many incidents of things I’d brushed off and been told “aren’t a big deal,” “that’s just how men/he is,” “That can’t be true, you guys are PERFECT together,” or “he’s doing better than so&so.” It was quite a wake up call a bit over a year ago to see my list be over 4 pages front/back of several different occurrences that -maybe by themselves weren’t so bad – but all together showed my cheater ex was never invested in our marriage.

2xchump
2xchump
25 days ago
Reply to  Celene

The list is essential.to keeping NC and arriving at the big picture.

Spinach@35
Spinach@35
27 days ago

D-day for me was just over 4 years ago. I filed the following week. Married for 35.
What I’ve realized during this painful recovery and journey to meh:

*I am stronger than I thought.

*I truly trust that he sucks and see him as a flawed, pathetic human being

*I’m actually so much happier now and am almost (ALMOST) tempted to let my ex know, but I won’t, of course, because I’m a firm believer in NC and know damn well that it would surely backfire. Still, I can’t deny that I’d like him to learn through the grape vine that Spinach is doing quite well.

*When you’re in a good relationship, you are treated with respect and cherished. And all of us deserve good relationships. Basic, I know, but during my mirage (thanks, VH), I didn’t have a clue that I was being treated badly. Up until d-day, I actually thought I had an ok relationship. 🙄

*I’ve figured out who my real friends are and cherish them. And the other ones have been cut from my social registry.

*I really do hate fly fishing and no longer “have” to do it and/or live with someone who is truly obsessed with that sport. (Hard to describe the degree of obsession. Porn is a close second for him. Ugh.)

*I spent WAY too much time catering to my ex. He was upset when all that ended after d-day. “Dude, you fired me from the job of giving two shits about you.” He balked at this, somehow expecting me always to be there for him. #cluelessAF

*I didn’t cause his affair. I’m not equally at fault. Maybe, as he wrote, we had a “bad dynamic,” but that doesn’t excuse his behavior. Plus, nothing creates a bad dynamic like a secret sexual basement. CL is right: Seeing infidelity as a relationship problem and not an abuse problem is blameshifting,

I have to admit that I’m not firmly at meh yet. If I heard that he and the AP-now-wife are struggling, I know I would be pleased, at least for a bit. Then I would worry that he might try to weasel his way back into our lives. Maybe it’s better to hope that they stay semi-happily married. I think that they might feel they have to muscle through even a bad marriage in order to justify their cheating, to convince others and themselves that it was for “true love.”

I’m grateful for my new life and am happy he moved to another state on the other side of the country. I hope he stays there. When he sends an upsetting email to one of his adult kids who refuse contact, and they get upset, that pisses me off. So there’s that, too. Just want him to go away. It helps to pretend he died.

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

I think pretending that they died, to whatever extent you can, actually is very healthy. It’s the way I think of my first cheater. He daid.

2xchump
2xchump
25 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

The person we thought we had, the illusion- died. The creep left behind is the real guy and he wasn’t who we truly loved

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
26 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

Ugh, I so resonate with all of this. When I discovered that I could now go wherever, do whatever, and not have to take his opinion or wishes into account, I truly felt free. Also not having to pretend to like his trash musical interests makes room for me and my preferences. He used to make fun of my music. No more.

I eat what I want, when I want. I don’t have to entertain his manufactured disdain for “mainstream” anything. I wear bright, colorful, fun clothing that probably doesn’t suit me or my age and I love it. I didn’t realize how much I was “compromising” (read: sacrificing my self) for him and to make him happy. Still didn’t keep him from cheating and abandoning our family. So now it is me and my kid. My husband likes me this way. Funny, that.

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
27 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

❤️ You’re welcome! Backatcha! ❤️

susie lee
susie lee
27 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

“I didn’t have a clue that I was being treated badly. Up until d-day, I actually thought I had an ok relationship. ”

Same here, well not up until Dday but up until the Day he got his last promotion about one year before Dday. I noticed him pulling away soon after his promotion, but because I thought we had a solid marriage, I believed him when he said he was just under pressure from work etc.

The only way I can read it is, once he got his promotion; he didn’t need me in place anymore so he started the year of discard. Personally I think the plan was a two year plan of discard, with me hopefully filing against him. But, someone dropped a dime and his house of cards fell.

2xchump
2xchump
25 days ago
Reply to  susie lee

My cheater had a one year plan but wanted me to dump him. I did not get the memo so lived with Abuse an additional 1 1/2 years. That was a sad sad loss of” loving me” time and I was deeply hurt by the exceleration of abuse. I wish i.understood what i know now thanks to CL and CN.

Spinach@35
Spinach@35
27 days ago
Reply to  susie lee

That makes sense. He was making plans, and you were oblivious. That’s the part that’s so upsetting, I think.

In retrospect, I now see AND STILL FEEL the painful discard. Sometimes it wakes me up at night or just hits me when I least expect it.

Before d-day, I was indeed sad and lonely, but I made excuses. I thought he was upset about his upcoming retirement. I thought he was getting dementia.I thought that maybe this just happens after 35 years of marriage.

Unbidden memories still hurt like hell.

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
26 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

Mine said “I know you knew, you had to have known”. What? How? I trusted you completely. Eyerolling now about the ridiculousness of his entire performance.

susie lee
susie lee
25 days ago

And yet had you or I accused, if he was not ready yet for the drop kick, he would have called us crazy and said well if I am going to be accused…

Anna
Anna
27 days ago

I took a long time to unbond with POS cheater. I truly loved him, but he never existed. POS had me going around in circles with his lies and crazy-making. All texts that I had discovered were ‘only words and didn’t mean anything.’ How could I ‘throw away a 30 year marriage for words that meant nothing?’ POS had been cheating on me from the very beginning I found out much later on, emotionally and physically.

When I happened to come across CL did my eyes open really wide. Oh my word. I thought I was alone in this shit show. I started reading up on gaslighting, blame-shifting, pick- me-dancing etc and I saw POS for what he was. No need to elaborate as they are all cut from the same cloth. The healing started as soon as he got the message to LEAVE. It is an ongoing process, but what an improvement in the quality of my life.

CL, I know that you have heard it 550 million times, but you saved me from a life of continued abuse and disrespect. THANK YOU

Almost Out
Almost Out
27 days ago

Love this one. And this line right here: “Anyone who encourages you to meet abuse with greater vulnerability is a quack.” I wish I had walked into our couples therapist’s office with that in my head. I would have saved myself a lot of time and frustration.

Last edited 27 days ago by Almost Out
Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
27 days ago

A relationship after infidelity is like a watermelon after Gallagher.

But I WILL HEAL, even though the wound may flare and need cleaning for the rest of my life.

Cheaters have to live with their rap sheet.

The rap sheet exists no matter how the cheaters feel about it or whether they acknowledge it.

I have no rap sheet.

It feels SO GOOD to have no rap sheet, a feeling no cheater or side piece will ever get to experience, no matter what they think or say or do. You can deny reality but you can’t eradicate it. You have to turn up the music REALLY LOUD, and decorate around it like Martha Stewart in a manic episode, but you have to spend a lot of energy on denial, and in the end painting over rust and rot never actually works.

A clear conscience is the foundation of joy, peace of mind, contentment, and priceless beyond measure, things that are off limits to cheaters and liars and side pieces.

Elsie_
Elsie_
27 days ago

Yes, my trauma was legit, 100%. My minor misbehaviors and quirks didn’t justify my ex’s bad choices that shattered the marriage and devastated our college kids.

My advice for recovery is to seek every healthy avenue possible. And if it’s not helping, move on.

I thank God every day for the ones who helped me. I had a wise, older attorney who got it and gave me little nuggets in between the legal advice. After every appointment, I’d write down his little sayings in the parking lot. My favorite was, “Only a fool would be friends with the person who burned down their house.” I had a coach who helped me reframe my life and spoke bluntly about areas that I was wrong about. She had been a church lay counselor for years and years and switched to coaching through a local ministry, so she was not one of the wild, fly-by-night coaches we hear about now. She recommended a twelve-step group, which took me further. I’m now on the leadership team there. I also had a trauma therapist, although I moved away from her in time because I felt like she had given me what I needed during the beginning of the crises, but it was not as good long-term.

With all that help, I was at meh when I got word that the judge had signed off. That was followed by a discussion about Bill Eddy’s BIFF method with my attorney as I chose to interact with my ex via email over some aspects of closeout. That was pure gold and gave me so much confidence. Around then, I also found Chumplady and Divorce Minister.

Yes, I’m stronger. A huge amount of work, and I believe that I’m a better, more balanced person now. From what I know, the trajectory of my ex continues to go down. Sad, but the split had to be.

Last edited 27 days ago by Elsie_
Chumpolicious
Chumpolicious
27 days ago

Walking in nature or tree bathing. They say 2 hours a week by a tree. I do meditative hiking. I used to scream and yell, no-one around, but got over it.

Viktoria
Viktoria
27 days ago

Have not given one minute to skein untangling the “why” my eX did it. (Although in the early stages I was obsessing over the lurid details of his secret sexual basement, in order to try to know WTF was my actual reality.)

IDGAF what his issues are, “why” he did it, or whether he will ever achieve “self improvement”.

He assumed reconciliation with much lovebombing and hoovering , but from the get-go, I refused to consider it. Instead I immediately protected myself by acquiring an attorney, securing my money, protecting myself physically, going no contact and getting STD tests and therapy and my support squad.

Thanks to finding CL very early after D-day, I learned that sexual infidelity is abuse and not a marriage issue. Did not accept the bullshit (from others) that my divorcing him is “sinning” (see yesterday’s post) or that I owe my lying, cheating, abusive eX a damn thing.

Am not at “Meh” yet; I’m still processing while Super-Chumping my way to infidelity recovery!

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
26 days ago

After the initial shock had worn off(it took a few days of random crying spells and general malfunction-(the beast had not left yet and elected to convert her gaslighting into empty promises, blame shifting, and general good old fashioned mind games)-when my faculties started to return I immediately circled my wagons and mobilized my support system. Everybody I trusted to handle things maturely and respectfully learned quickly-those that I did not feel would be as supportive learned later(some still have never gotten the full story from me.)

Since she moved out(and has made furtive contact attempts-grey rock is hard but seems to be working) I am focusing on getting myself back together. This site (and therapy) have helped me understand that this is trauma and that I was abused. As a healer myself, that has provided an invaluable recovery framework. I would not have come as far in this short time as I have without all of you.

I read an article the other night trying to fall asleep about repatriating to other countries that I will use as a framework for my next point.

Do not isolate. At least any more than you absolutely have to.

The idea was if you isolate and keep to yourself and stop engaging with the outside culture(in our case, change to a new, better life) you are more likely to give up and “go back home”-probably without saying anything.

If you isolate-it is easier to give in to darkness. But as a favorite movie of mind reminds me, You Are (Not) Alone. Our abusers kept us on a leash by convincing us of that. They were very, very wrong. We regain power over them by asserting our healthy bonds.

Reach out to your supports, get out of the house, do something for YOU. You are getting your life back, seize it by the throat and be mighty! I had depression and trauma before all of this-and I know I personally need to “get aggressive” with my darkness to keep it at bay.

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
26 days ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Ah, an Evangelion fan! I mean, I get it. EoE means a lot to me on a very personal level. I’m right there with you. It’s just funny to see the reference!

The connection you make to being in a new country hits it out of the park. You have to make connections in your new phase in life and engage. Hobbies, interests, social clubs – whatever keeps you tethered. I love that comparison!

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
26 days ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Cannot emphasize enough “get out of the house”. So important, because your home is chock full of reminders of your trauma. It will get better, but getting out of that environment on a regular basis, especially if you don’t end up moving, is super important.

Also, changing your surroundings in the home is good. Paint a room. Change the curtains. Do something to change the feel and look. It helped me that a good amount of the decorative stuff was his crap anyway so he took it, eventually. I put it in the garage for him to get it just to get it out and away. Environment is so important to healing.

kokichi
kokichi
26 days ago

Absolutely this!

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
26 days ago

I literally survived. FW did not.

I went through betrayal, abandonment, depression, anxiety, PTSD, financial struggles, losing my home. The whole shebang. I’m still here. I’m not just surviving, I’m thriving. I’m happy, financially stable (for the first time in my adult life), bought a home for myself, loving my life. It took time and work. Lots of therapy. Lots of tears. Lots of being honest with myself about my situation. But I DID IT.

OW left FW only a few weeks after they moved in together (the affair had been going on for over 4 years). He had no backup plan, didn’t know how to manage money or take care of himself, and of course by that point I was over it and didn’t fall for his hoover attempts. He couldn’t hack it. He ended up alone and up to his ears in debt. He isolated himself, and none of his “friends” made much effort to draw him out. One night he took a bunch of Benadryl and drank a bottle of scotch and never woke up. And I, his hated ex, was the only person who noticed he was missing. I’m the only one who went looking for him, contacted the authorities, and ultimately found his body. It had been nearly a week. He left a long suicide letter where he blamed everyone but himself for his problems. He pushed away everyone who ACTUALLY cared (me, his sister, his parents) in favor of people who offered cheap flattery. It’s tragic, but I tried for 15 years to help him, and in the end there’s nothing I could have done that would have changed things because he didn’t want to change.

I’m doing my best to teach my son to be kind, empathetic, and to learn to handle his problems in a healthy way. So many people disappeared from his life. I want to show him that I’ll always be there for him. He’s been through so much and he’s only 11. Above all I want him to feel safe and loved. But even with all that, he told me recently that his life is “perfect” now, and we found our “happily ever after”. My son is one of the main reasons I’ve decided not to date right now. He doesn’t need anyone else coming into his life only to abandon him.

OHFFS
OHFFS
26 days ago

Today is my birthday. I’m 61 and happy to be FW free. My current peace of mind was hard fought and won, but I’m endlessly thankful for it. I will say to any newbies out there that it is critical you find whatever it is that gives you peace. I don’t mean some form of escape. I mean going through all the emotions and facing them head on to get to the other side, by finding whatever it is that helps you get there. Don’t do anything that (while it may soothe your feelings in the short term) delays your healing, like drinking, smoking weed, eating bad food or too much food. Get physical. Get spiritual, whatever that means to you. For me, spiritual healing is found in nature, not in a church. Do whatever works. Learn some new skill or aquire some new knowledge. All that is helpful, but the number one thing I found helped me was helping others who were also going through trauma. I have participated in support groups since Dday and will continue to do so. Baby chumps, you will get to meh. Just keep the train chugging along, through all the feelings you need to feel, even though they are overwhelming. There are techniques to dealing with them without squashing them. You may find therapy helpful. I did not, but it’s an individual thing. I did a ton of research on trauma recovery. The research would occupy my mind and keep the feelings from getting the better of my good sense. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find the right formula, which will be specific to you. Throw everything you can at it, evaluate whether or not it is helpful, and throw away what is not helpful. By helpful, I do not necessarily mean what feels good. You do have to feel bad in order to feel better. That’s the hard part. Keep in touch with your good instincts about which approaches allow you to go through all the natural emotions without being swallowed up by them. Remember that after a terrible experience and great loss, trauma is a normal adaptive response. It’s how your mind processes the pain. If it gets to be maladaptive, as in PTSD, you may need pharmaceutical intervention.

Shadow
Shadow
25 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Happy birthday OFFS and this is excellent advice! Thank you!

Elsie_
Elsie_
26 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Happy birthday and best wishes for a better future!

2xchump
2xchump
26 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

I’m 71, been divorced from #2 cheater since age 70. Never never never give up. Take all the time you need but once your body understands you were being used and not loved at all…that this was transactional and not mutual, that you were a robot to them and not someone adored..WHO NEEDS THAT?? I’m 2x cheated on 36 years apart…it’s part of my story but it will not define me. Is there true love out there? Yes there is. I LOVE ME TRULY!!!!! Who else knows me better than me. We’re gonna make it

Mehitable
Mehitable
26 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Happy Birthday, and many happy FW-free years ahead of you!

Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
26 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Happy Birthday to you! I hope your special day is exactly as you want and need it to be – whatever that means for you!

2xchump
2xchump
26 days ago

So I sent all my Chump lady information to the author of Love and the Mystery of Betrayal-Sandra Lee Dennis PHD. Her book is good and she journeys through her 5 year recovery from a 6 year relationship from her super user cheat. Her cheater initiated plans and seemed excited for a destination wedding, but then jilted her a few weeks before the grand event. Sandra with her PHD in psychology, spiritual teacher, retreat , yoga and expert in the human heart took 5 years to settle down from this man creep who stole her reality. They has weekly therapy together during their romance and she believed she know her cheater like she knew herself. OK so she recovered and wrote a big book. If she did and Chump lady did and thousands of you did, I can too. It might take years and therapy and crying for a long time but we will. We will draw up another dream, hug our kids, maybe try again, maybe take our vows, but we will get there. Thank you Tracy for your daily infusion of courage and unfailing love for us chumps. I’ll never be the same but I’m loving it!

KatiePig
KatiePig
26 days ago

Ah, infidelity recovery. I remember that. That was when I found out he had slept with people I considered friends and then my physical and mental health went straight to hell while I was also constantly told I needed to do more in order to make him feel safe and fully forgiven. And turning down sex would be forcing him to cheat on me more! So I was supposed to immediately indulge in any request he had no matter where we were or what it was, like giving him a blowjob while he took a shit in the toilet. (That was one of his requests I flat out refused, what a horrible, cold, bitch of a wife I was! If I refused to meet his need, then he obviously had to go elsewhere.) Infidelity recovery to maintain the marriage was a nightmare.

Now, let’s look at recovery not even four years after divorce from a 20 year marriage. I’m a junior in college. I don’t make a lot but I’m well respected and liked at my job. I am currently applying for accounting internships and accountants are in huge demand so my job prospects look good. I’m in a healthy relationship and I live in a modest but nice home. I’m renting but saving to buy a house next year. Life is pretty good.

My ex, on the other hand, has been arrested for attempts to lure an 11 year old child, is now a sex offender, lost his good job, has a girlfriend our son’s age who is constantly checking herself into psych wards and whom he has to fully support financially. She also does not cook or clean and, according to my son, she’s rather gross in general, which means their home must be disgusting because he doesn’t clean either. She’s a solid 50 pounds heavier than me now too, which is hilarious since I was always too fat for him. He literally traded me in for an obese adult baby who looks like my uglier sister and doesn’t seem to bring anything of value into their relationship. But maybe she likes degrading sex and plays with poop so it’s worth it to him, who knows? I can only laugh.

The most recent development of his life going to hell is that I got a forwarded letter from the IRS with both of our names on it. Well, he decided to fraudulently file a joint tax return with me after our divorce claiming me as a dependent. The IRS can’t tell me much, which I understand, but I owe nothing and I’m not in trouble. The letter was demanding a new SIGNED copy of the tax return in question from him, which he cannot provide. I filed my taxes that year and I also made 30,000 which I claimed but I bet he didn’t, because how would he know what I made? He had no access to my W2.

It’s funny because I had given up on the karma bus coming for him awhile before all this happened and just focused on working hard on my own life. But then beep beep! It mowed his ass down, seemingly out of nowhere! I’m not going to pretend I haven’t enjoyed it. I was starting to think none of the evil things he did would ever catch up with him but they have been.

Shadow
Shadow
25 days ago
Reply to  KatiePig

I’m 63 and didn’t think much could shock me to my core anymore! I was wrong! That creature is a monster Katie Pig! Bloody HELL!!!

2xchump
2xchump
26 days ago

Spending more time with my grandchildren. Thus was my second cheater marriage and part of my prenup 32 years ago was his vasectomy so we had zero Kids PTL. But I had 2 kids with #1 cheater. So #2 cheater did not like children ( he hid this the 2 years we dated) and didn’t spend much time with his own. ..so now I don’t have to stress about how much time I’m with my grands ans I can relax and have fun. I am losing my step grandchildren, all 5 of them due to this divorce, but they were a gift to me anyway. 32 years with them all special times. I cru over this loss but it is what it is

Blue Bayou
Blue Bayou
26 days ago

Bad therapy is much worse than no therapy.

I went to a therapist (whom I later learned had had his license temporarily suspended for having an affair with his married secretary), for my Complex PTSD from my SO’s multpile affairs & giving me an STD, and he blamed me for the whole mess because I allowed myself to be exposed to her cheating!–basically, “You made your bed, now lay in it.” Like I had control over it.

He also suggested that I read the children’s book “The Little Engine That Could”, and repeat “I think I can, I think I can.” as if that would help with my nightmares or unwanted intrusive thoughts!

I will vet any future therapists by asking: “You don’t have to awnswer this if you’re not comfortable, but have you ever cheated on someone?”

Marco
Marco
26 days ago

The stronger you get the more you develop your IDGAF attitude.👍

2xchump
2xchump
25 days ago

This one chapter is absolute gold and the kingpin for our whole recovery. This information is priceless and rare. It is the truth. Take it from a 2x cheated on woman at the age of 71. I would not waste one more millisecond on any cheater that does not fit the profile for truly repentant and wanting a huge change and wanting to keep you. Sadly the “slips” as they say in 12 step groups, are horrific and you want to start over?. These cheaters just get sneakier and you get more and more afraid and worn down. Stay strong!

Young Crone
Young Crone
25 days ago

After I unceremoniously ended it with the FW, none of the usual self-care advice seemed helpful. Fortunately I was not married to him (the second one) but I was in a most distressing state of dissociation. I found it frustrating and frankly meaningless to be told to love myself (I still do). My therapist was wonderful and had worked with victims of DV for over thirty years. She didn’t try to push the self-love mantra but helped ground me by using a happy, safe memory. This gave me hope that I could be myself again, that I could feel ok and happy and content without the FW. I did finally get to meh, and now I’m shocked that I ever gave him a second look, a second thought, a second anything.