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How to Go No Contact

The biggest and most challenging part of no contact is mental. Anyone can tell you how to block your cell or unfriend someone on Facebook. But for chumps the difficulty of no contact is giving yourself permission NOT to engage. To stop trying to seek consensus. To walk away from the tasty bait the freak in your life keeps casting at you. Which takes us to our first rule of no contact:

1.) Say NO. No, I do not have to accommodate your schedule. No, I do not have to comfort your distress. No, I do not have to defend my position to you.

In other words, allow yourself boundaries. Saying no does not make you an asshole. You know what makes you an asshole? Batter-ramming someone else’s boundaries. If you’ve been with a freak, they feel very entitled to you accommodating them. They’re used to you having zero boundaries where they are concerned. And when you got uppity before, they knew exactly how to put you back in your place — with guilt, or anger, or even charm. But now that isn’t working for them any more. So when you try NC out on them, fully expect your freak to lose their shit. They will push those boundaries harder. Your job is to disengage.

This takes some practice, but I promise you will get the hang of it, and every time you do, it will feel a bit exhilarating. It’s liberating to say no! Cue the Leslie Gore, “You Don’t Own Me.” Remember, when they cheated, they fired you from the job of caring about them.

2.) If you don’t have kids with them — go cold turkey. If you’re still working out the details of your divorce, make sure all communication goes through your attorney. Block their email, cell phone, and texts. Change your number. There is nothing they need to say to you that cannot be said to your attorney. It’s over, so the only thing left to discuss is logistics. Anything else — a relationship autopsy, an apology, recriminations — is a ploy to keep you engaged with them for cake. Details about the storage unit or sale of the house? The lawyers can work that out.

Is this expensive? Yes. But nothing says firewall to your soon-to-be-ex like legal counsel. It’s one thing to try and intimidate you for a better settlement. It’s quite another thing to try that shit on a member of the bar. They’ve seen it all. Please let your lawyer handle it and enjoy the peace of mind — and no contact — that you’re getting for your money.

Also consider that unless you’re dealing with a wing nut who represents him or herself (pro se), there is a cost for them too in fucking with you because they have to pay their attorney. Most disordered people may try this for awhile, but my experience is that it’s not very satisfying for them. A) They don’t get a reaction from you, just your attorney. Not as much fun. And B) Even wing nuts feel it in their pocketbooks. And that sadly, is the most effective deterrent I know of. They won’t quit harassing you because it’s the right thing to do, they’ll quit harassing you because there is a financial consequence to them for doing so.

3.) If they’re stalking you, have your attorney write a no contact letter for you, as the first step toward legal harassment charges. Consider a protection from abuse order as well, if they have threatened you in any way.

4.) If you have children and legally must maintain some contact, keep all communication short and business-like. Communicate only by email so everything is documented. Use the smallest sentence structure possible, and only discuss kid logistics, schedule, and finances. If they try to lead you down the rabbit hole of engagement — “That’s why Taylor is flunking geometry — she inherited your math stupidity!” — don’t go there. Reply, “Taylor will be ready for her visitation on Friday.”

5.) Don’t ask them questions, if you can at all avoid it. Don’t ask “Will you be taking Taylor this Friday?” Say instead “Taylor will ready for her visitation on Friday” if Friday is the court appointed day. Showing up is fucktard’s responsibility. Fucktard doesn’t show? You document that with another email. (The court system values documentation highly!) The ball must always be lobbed into their court.

6.) Don’t do their job for them. It keeps you engaged with their idiocy, which opens the channels of crazy talk, as you plead and negotiate with them to Do The Right Thing.

Here’s an example — child support. My ex paid less than baseline CS for years, and he didn’t even pay that very often. Finally, after YEARS of this, I had the state dock his wages. (A paperwork nightmare, but I persevered.) Old chumpy me, just rolled with his lack of support, I accommodated, I bristled at his lame email excuses about “bank errors,” and I sucked it up. Until I didn’t. I finally realized his obligation to his child, his COURT ORDERED obligation to his child was between him and the Commonwealth of Virginia. And I let the state impose the consequences. Which he hates. A lot. But my child support has been a lot more regular since then.

I know when you have kids, they have you by the curly short hairs. You will always want to throw yourself on that grenade of crazy for your kids and protect them. I’m not saying don’t make reasonable accommodations to the schedule, (do it by email, business-like), I’m not saying be rude to their other parent — no, as I’ve said before, regard them with all the politeness you reserve for you local county tax assessor. What I’m saying is — don’t pick up their slack if you can at all help it. If they’ve got a court ordered obligation to do something? Hold them to it. If they don’t do it? Enforce consequences. Document all of it.

Here’s another example. I used to tie myself in knots on my son’s summer schedule. My ex had to give me his summer dates on February 1. He NEVER did it. Never, ever. April, May, June would roll around and I would plead with him about the summer schedule. He couldn’t commit. He wouldn’t say no, but he wouldn’t say yes. It was all “fluid.” No matter how I accommodated him, he was pissed off about something. Until I finally asked a lawyer about this mess and she said “He missed the deadline? Hey, you have no legal obligation to give him ANYTHING.”

Know your power. If they fuck up, you aren’t obliged to make it right with them. I’m still amazed at my chumpiness. I was so used to his entitlement about me accommodating his inability to commit to plans. It was my normal. But this shit isn’t normal, and I realized I didn’t have to play crazy ball any more.

Do you have any tips for no contact? What worked for you?

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Email email email. It’s the most amazing device ever for NC. You can write to your heart’s content and then NOT hit send. Then write the business-like and brief (dare I say terse) response and leave it at that. Texts are even to immediate (and too easy to accidentally send). And even email keep to absolute minimum, don’t fool yourself that you really need to contact the ex. Usually, you do not. Less is definitely more!!

  • My advice: Keep an email folder labeled “Knee-jerk response,” and use it as a holding tank for anything you’re tempted to send. Then go for a walk, read a poem, drink a cup of tea, do something for yourself, and then review the message. Can it be reworded? Does it actually need to be said? Remember, less contact is better. Verbosity shows that you still care.

  • perfect timing CL… i just watched another round of e-mails that didn’t have to happen…pretended to work together…I offered help…he asked stupid inane questions and then comes back with I don’t need any help…but if you need help we are here…..

    Please please please get me out…but yes i do feel the need to fall on the crazy grenande….my kids are 50% with W#2 formerly known as OW#4 and the brady bunch of her 2 kids my 3 kids…and EVERYONE iS SOOO HAPPY…………..not…

  • CL,

    +1000 on negotiating divorce only through your attorneys. By the time I was done my ex (who went mostly pro se) had spent maybe $2K and I had spent $20K to get divorced. Why? Because I didn’t file immediately, I believed him when he said he would negotiate via email. All he did was postpone, make excuses and try to hoover me. So, I spent money on a financial guy to determine asset allocation and the attorney re-writing the settlement 3 times and they were never accepted. Filing worked, right before the court date, he signed.

  • The thing that helped me truly see what my ex was is recording his phone calls. If you are still talking to your cheater I highly recommend recording so you can listen to the call when you are calm and quiet. What I found is that during the calls he would spin me up with his poor me and other manipulative crap, I would feel bad for him and become torn about what I was doing. BUT, when I would replay the call and *truly* listen to what he said and HOW he said it, all was clear. I would pretend I was listening to two people I didn’t know to get the objective feeling in place. The selfish manipulative shit he was doing was so obvious when I heard it once removed, it was illuminating. You can get a recorder from Radio Shack for cheap.

    • Recording phone calls sounds like a good plan. I bet it comes in handy when documenting things for court, too, if necessary. Such as rants, threats, and other hostile things he may say regarding the kids.

      • Be careful w/recording for court, check w/your lawyer – my understanding is that you can’t record a phone call w/o the other person’s permission. Of course, letting them know you are recording could also be a great way to get them to behave themselves better!

        • True that! I did ask my lawyer. It’s legal in my state, as long as you are recording a converstation that you are involved in yourself.

          (I.e., you can’t record a phone conversation of other people talking if you’re not part of the conversation.) As long as your part of it, it’s okay. Not all states are this way, but mine is.

          • Duck, it’s legal in my state too but I didn’t need the recordings, my ex perjured himself on the stand and tripped himself up, no the judge didn’t ask for him to be prosecuted for it. Anyhow, he didn’t lie on the stand any way near as well as he lies every where else.

            Main thing is that when you can listen to them without being upset, you really hear the shit they are serving you.

            • And when you REALLY hear what they’re saying, it’s appalling! The ex tried to reconcile w/me at Xmas time, spoke to me 4 x about it, although I expressed no interest in trying again. The entitlement, the blame-shifting, the self-centeredness, OMG, they were so clear and so blatant!

              I actually wish I had recorded those conversations …. It’d be interesting to listen to them again, although the best would be to send the recordings to the OW! (Sometimes I actually feel a bit sorry for her … I’m sure he lied to her too, to get her to give him the much-needed kibbles. I don’t think he’d pick another narc, he’s too smart for that, how would he get HIS needs met? So she’s either stupid or naive, or both (at 49! Really??), but I assume she will eventually figure things out, and/or get chumped too.

  • I jst cut the chord, enntirely, when my first set of kids reached adulthood.
    I got soem texts recently from my first wife re having my one son contact her( he lives with me).
    I simply texted back “affair partner details”(she has never confessed, claiming onlythat she had “inappropriate relations where “the chemistry became sexualized” (( what a fucking wingnut. Who says shit like that ?(((word salad professional))).
    On another set of texts, I simply replied “polygraph”.

    • LOL, “polygraph” I love it!

      My ex has more or less given up on the abusive and bizarre text messaging, but last time he was harassing me, I finally responded with just, “LOL”. I guess that threw him for a loop, because he texted back, “Laughing is a very strange response. You won’t be laughing for long.” I didn’t bother to reply.

    • Your wife talks nonsense, sure enough. “The chemistry became sexualized?” Sounds like she’s describing some kind of infidelity *experiments,* for crying out loud. And those responses make me laugh and you’re certainly within your rights to respond in that manner; however, I found it worked better for me to refrain from mentioning ex-wife’s cheating and lying in any communications with her. None. She knows it happened, I know it happened. Bringing it up simply sends the message that it still matters to me, which it doesn’t. Inadvertent kibbles for the PD, IMO. Affair partner details? Polygraph? Who cares? I need that info like I need the results of her last pap smear. What I need to know, I know.

      If I received a message from my ex asking to have my son contact my her, I would respond with something like, “Please call Son directly. It isn’t my place to mediate your relationship with him.”

      • Yeah, you are right,nomar.
        A NPD loves to know things still bother you.
        Mainly, I ignore her shit.

        • Well, I admire that you think to remind your ex of her shitty past in such a pithy manner. My ex always seemed to tie my brain in knots. And I’m a smart guy with a couple of advanced degrees, so that doesn’t happen often, which makes it especially creepy. Like she used some kind of White Trash Cheater Jedi Mindfuck on me.

          • Oh… and the white trash cheater jedi mindfuck is an absolutely awesome visual. I kind of picture my ex, in a wife beater (how ironic) with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, doing the jedi finger roll, fishing shows on the tele in the background……

            Absolutely perfect, thanks!

      • Hey Nomar~

        My ex actually said “please stop reminding me. I know I’m a liar and a cheater. I know I was abusive. I live with that every day, I don’t need your constant reminder.”


        Things are actually easier with him if I just keep it to whatever business is at hand. Anything else just ends in disaster.

        • Mine says to stop reminding him and get over it…and then launches into a massive defense of what happened, complete with rewrite and outright denial of things I absolutely know to be true.

        • Well, he did say *please* after all. [snort]. That’s a bit of Jedi work there, isn’t it? Taking his cheating and lying and turning it around to use it it attack you. Let’s not talk about how he betrayed his deepest commitments to his family, let’s talk about your tone of voice. [eyeroll]

          I’m not a big sci fi fan, but I swear sometimes reading stories about the weirdness of cheaters reminds me of the alien bar scene in Star Wars. F-R-E-A-K-S, one and all.

    • Arnold, your ex sounds like my exH!
      In therapy he said “I am content with the direction things are going.”
      WTF does that mean? At that point, he had not admitted the affairs, nor had he asked for a divorce. He simply said that he did not want to end up like his parents (loveless marriage?) and he did not want to work on our marriage.

      That was my mistake, not simply accepting his word at no therapy. But 18 years of marriage and two kids must be worth something…

      • Hahahaha….mine said he never wanted to end up in a marriage like my parents had – despite never meeting my mother, who was dead, and knowing nothing of their marriage, other than some random stories I told about growing up. But he didn’t want to be like them!

  • In the case of spouses who have multiple affairs, one of the things they often tell the betrayed spouse when separation and divorce are imminment is something like “you deserve to be happy too” as if separation and divorce are doing you a favor.

    This, in my experience, is one cheater cliche that is (unintentionally) true, and the sooner you accept that not having them in your life compulsively creating unneccessary trauma is a great gift and a chance for a happier life, the easier it is to limit or eliminate contact which only invites more of that trauma.

    I am actually kind of thankful for the gift of not being poked at for no good reason, and the only thing I had to do was make it clear I wasn’t interested in staying in touch. I was pretty fortunate that it was that easy once she moved some furniture out, though, and I have 100% dog custody, so what’s not to like about that?

    • My ex not only told me that over and over, he also told our then 13-year-old son that he was doing our family a huge favor by leaving, because now son wouldn’t be subjected to the unbearable abuse of living in a home where his mother didn’t like listening to his father’s endless Christmas music for two months of every year.

    • Timeheals, I got custody of the my cats, glad you got your dogs. I was so afraid the asshole would try to take them from me but it never occurred to him that if he tried that I’d have given him a lot more money. Because of course he said he loved the cats, but apparently not so much that he would realize using them would get him more of my money. Maybe I’m wronging him and he really did understand they could not be separated and that they were attached to me at the hip. but I doubt it

      • Mine listed the 2 dogs in the property settlement and valued them at $1000 a piece, mind you we got these puppies for FREE….they both hated him too….cowered whenever he came near them………

          • He would have gotten the cats over my dead body. They hid from him in the end!

            • Ok not sure where but is it ok for an ex wife to give ex hubby automatums the girlfriend or me and the kids. And is it normal to run after the ex wife been at her house looking after the kids after you only just took them back to her after ur visits is it normal while having a girlfriend to cancel your plans with her is it ok to stay over night at the exs while your girlfriend is at home waiting for or or am i just a jealous girlfriend yet when she creates an arguement she laughs to him and says ooh my plan worked

              • Not sure if you are a fellow chump or an AP who is trolling us but I will try to reply to your question with honesty.
                I am not sure if there is a normal in human behaviour but what you describe is very common when a cheater sets up with OW and leaves the family home.
                They are often weak men who find it hard to say no – that’s why they cheat and lie rather than man up. They are often ambiguous about what they want and want whatever they do not have…cake means having both and keeping all options open.
                If wife was left waiting at home with a half baked story then so will OW when she becomes the full time partner.
                A man’s kids are part of him and maybe harder to leave than the wife….and we are talking seasoned cheaters and liars here. If OW is being all clingy and wifey then his default position will be to revert to the very behaviour that enabled his affair to run.
                It sounds like the man you are describing has some poor chump doing a pick me dance and I hope for her sake that she is not sleeping with him but guess she is.
                Mine left under false pretences and spent around 18 months leading me up the garden path, taking me out to dinner, talking about reconciliation. He was telling OW I was resistant to divorce when he was insisting that he did not want one.
                His kids will go on being part of him and I guess that is hard unless he is very self centred.
                If you are OW then enjoy being on the receiving end of all that vagueness and indecision – if you are the chump then be civil regarding co parenting but pull the plug on dads sleepovers and go no contact as far as possible. Do not go on providing cake…that’s her problem now!

              • Hi Mary no not trolling need to register yet for chumps thanks to just needed to see if I was the jealous insecure cow and believe it’s normal behavior but it’s not ..

              • It’s normal behaviour for cheaters to cheat and liars to lie…its their default setting if u like.
                They want to run an affair….they lie at home. They do not want to commit to their AP….they lie about why the divorce is dragging on. There is no such thing as an honest liar.
                I guess the tables get turned when he has to answer to OW about his true motives…and his ex does not have the power to cause arguments if his behaviour does not give the OW reason to doubt him.

        • Lol.

          Andy took the cat with him *one* of the times he walked out.

          Next day, the cat was back. According to Andy, Lexington (aka Sexy Lexi) cried for 24 hours straight, and Andy couldn’t get him to shut up.

          Since then, Sexy Lexi pretty much follows me all over the house whenever I’m home. If I’m in the house, he’s usually right next to me. Started hissing & spitting when Andy came over to the house in the middle of the night about 3 weeks ago too.

          And he’s a big cat–not fat, big. 13 lbs and not even chunky. Sexi Lexi would have done some damage if Andy hadn’t hauled ass. Got hisself a tuna dinner for his troubles.

          Love that cat.

          • Maybe we should take heart as chumps the best choices we EVER made were our fur babies….they know and love us. Chumps at heart

      • My dogs are my best buddies. I am quite fortunate to have them.

        But you know, you need to walk them regularly, and they are Shar-peis, so they are strong-willed, and they sling slobber a lot, so wall cleaning is a continual task, and they have special dietary requirements that are expensive, and they aren’t always well behaved, so … in short, though they love me (and they loved my ex), there is some work and responsibility involved, so there was probably never any danger in her trying to take them.

        She did the same thing in her last marriage with cats: left those with the last husband.

        Beyond that, I gave up trying to analyze her behaviour, but between not being able to hold a job more than a few years, and abadoning animals that she wanted at one point, and not managing finances all that well, it’s kind of clear to me that taking responsibility wasn’t a value high on her list, and there were clues about that all along, so? She even told me that around the time her last mariage ended, a co-worker had taken an interest in her, and though that affair never got physical, that was how she “knew that her marriage was over”.

        The thing I wondered about myself in retrospect is why I married her anyway? I walked right into that buzz saw, and it’s partially my own fault because I deluded myself into believing that somehow “love was going to fix everything”, so it was a setup for conflict right from the begining between the person she actually was, the person she tried to project generally to others, and the person I thought she could be.

        How messed up is that?

        • TimeHeals, your last paragraph just about sums up my entire relationship w/my ex.

          Sigh. No more poor sausages in gorgeous packages. No more fast commitment, and especially, no more believing that love can fix everything.

  • Wow Timeheals, that was also my ex’s excuse for filing for divorce after he fell in love with his married coworker. He seemed to think he was doing me a great favor by letting me go. He kept saying I could now pursue my career. Of course, since most of my opportunities to pursue a career were 20 years ago when I was in the midst of raising our kids with little help from him, I didn’t feel too grateful about his newly found concern for my career. He announced that he’d filed for divorce behind my back, then emailed the next morning to tell me he was coming back to sit down and explain “how this was going to work.” Luckily I had the guts to tell him NO. He tried to come back the next day, then the next, and the next, but every time I told him NO. I packed and sorted through 36 years of stuff and moved out without seeing him again, except for the one day I drove over and gave him an emotional speech about why I deserved maintenance after supporting him and HIS career for so many years. Other than that, I told him I didn’t want to see him or hear his voice because it hurt too much. He seemed genuinely amazed that I wasn’t following his directions like some kind of sheep. Sometimes it amazes me I could live with someone that long and in the end find out he didn’t really know me. I guess I didn’t really know him either, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part.

    • My ahole told me that I should find a ‘family man’ for myself and our two kids. He just wanted to walk away and let someone else take over. When I told him that I wanted to sell our house because it’s too big for me to manage alone, he said you don’t have to do it alone. You’re going to help I said? He said well, I hope you’re not going to be a dried up spinster for too long. Hmmm, I’ve known about the divorce for 2 weeks and you already have me mentally married off and a new father for your 6 and 8 year old kids? What a sick fucker.

      • That is incredibly sick! But I bet he tells himself that so he can completely shuck all responsibility for your well-being or that of the kids, w/no guilt. Unbelievable!!

      • Mine says he wants to buy me a house in a 55 and over community. I told him I didn’t want a house. He seemed genuinely surprised and then said I was ungrateful and trying to run things my way! HELL YES

        • How dare you have the audacity to make decisions about your own life! It’s very selfish of you not to obey to his every decision you know.

          He was right to make a stand. After all, if you don’t obey him it’s possible that the populace won’t worship him as he deserves. How horrible.

          • I agree, Green Girl, it’s awful of Janet to have an opinion of her own about how she lives her life, even going so far as to want to decide WHERE she lives! The audacity!

            STILL about control, isn’t it. They don’t give that up easily ….

        • My ex and his mother had apparently picked out a new place for me, and he sent me a link to it. It was cheaper and fairly nice and in the same area but it never occurred to them that this was none of their fucking business, particularly his mother. They seemed somewhat shocked when I told them I’d find a place on my own.

          • I think because they were cheating they think we are stupid in EVERY way. Instead of us being fooled because we loved them, they think they got away with it for so long because they were so clever, so much smarter than us. Assholes. They were clever all right. And liars, and thieves, and abusers, and…..fill in the blanks _____________

            • I don’t think my ex ever thought I was stupid (I think he was actually afraid I was smarter than him … and who knows, maybe he’s right about that!) – more that he thinks of me as having to kowtow to his wishes, even when they have nothing to do with him. It’s his entitlement.

              They own us, we aren’t supposed to have any opinions or make any decisions. Do you ask your dog where he might like to live? Your bookcase?

              • Toward the end he actually yelled at me that I “could not lock the door till he got home” (his key wasn’t working). “Whenever he got home” was when he got done F-ing whomever. Needless to say I told him where he could stick his broken key! His concern for me, expecting me to sleep alone in the apt. was one of the final straws…..He found out just how stupid I was, at least on that count.

              • I*m definitely smarter than my ex and he knows it. Drives him mad, particularly when he was trying to ‘outsmart’ me (ahahaha) on something and I called him on his shit, pointing out that I*m smarter than him and he’d never get that kind of thing by me. For weeks after he kept sending emails with ‘well, because you’re smarter than me you deal with x, y, z.’. Seem to have hit a nerve. 🙂

      • Mine left (I kicked him out) when i discovered his affair with an employee and some sexual encounters with another. our little boy was 3.5 and I was 12weeks pregnant (after 2 years – 1 miscarriage) that was 4 months ago – this week he told me “you’ll have found someone by the end of the year and then this won’t feel so bad” our baby is 12 days old – now that’s sick.

        • Wow your ex seems like the lowest of the low. Perhaps he says that just to make himself feel better. But truth is you will find someone amazing, because you are equipped to identify PD losers like him. And you also deserve to be happy. Happened to me. Just have to get that bad taste he left behind. I really want to string guys like that up by their balls!

    • “You have so much to offer the world. You shouldn’t let your talents go to waste”

      Wasn’t that nice of him? He started that one 3 years before he finally moved out. I didn’t get where he was coming from.

      He was looking for me to get a big professional income going so the divorce wouldn’t cost him so much. He even let slip that I should be the one supporting him for a change! This is what they think of the “value” of a stay at home mom. That’s how much they “respect” your hard work.

      Fuck his lying, cheating, sleazy, big, fat potato head.

      • Agree. I realize now that he believed I worked for him. And when I went to University to get a degree so I could find a job that would allow me to contribute $$$ and still be home with the children when they were home, I violated the servant agreement. He found another dumbass who thinks his “family values’ are still worth something. Tell that to the three sons you left high and dry, asshole. How the holy communion wafers aren’t burning holes in their faces every week still baffles me. He’s still legally married to me and living with her, and the three boys are supposed to just roll with that. WTF?!

  • My NPD ex has never paid the full amount of child support that he AGREED TO and signed on the settlement deal. Like a huge chump, I have let him get away with this for the past 1.5 years, but NO MORE. I’m turning it over to the state. The ex has me screwed, because he intentionally remains unemployed and does odd jobs under the table, making it nearly impossible to get money from him. But the state has a lot more power than I do, and it’s time to let them handle his irresponsibility towards his son.

    • Mine does the same. Unless he files a new order — and gets a judge to agree to it — to lower support, he still owes you. AND he owes you for all the back support he hasn’t payed that you have a court order for. YES let the state collect on him! Call your local child support enforcement office for more information on how to do this. Generally, as an agency, they suck. I suppose they’re worn down from drama and act like automatons to everyone, but don’t back down. DO IT. You’ll be thankful you did. Once you’re in the system, it works very well. Trick is getting in the system.

      They have ways of tracking them, and if they move out of state, or change jobs this shit follows them.

  • One thing I’d add is even if your ex agrees and signs a court order, that doesn’t mean they plan on honoring it. Be prepared to be screwed over financially, especially if they are NPD. Disordered will do whatever it takes to hurt you, even if doing so also hurts them. They are all about WINNING, regardless of the cost, even to their own children.

    Just assume they are not going to do what they are supposed to do, and take steps immediately to have their wages garnished, have the state go after them, or whatever legal actions are required. I sure wish I had filed a case with my state child support immediately upon the divorce, instead of being a chump for nearly two years while the ex hasn’t bothered to pay child support or alimony.

    • “Disordered will do whatever it takes to hurt you, even if doing so also hurts them. They are all about WINNING, regardless of the cost, even to their own children.”

      This is my husband. I’m not sure how far he may go with this, but I have seen him do this behavior before. It scares me.

      It seems like the more you put legal action on them (ex: garnishing wages, etc.) the more they will declare “war” – and dodge responsibility anyhow. The legal mark may follow them but it seems like they can still avoid doing what they need to do (ex: avoid child support by working under the table). Yes, it’s inconvenient for them but in the end I don’t care if he is inconvenienced, I just want to take care of myself and my kids. Whatever is going to be best for my kids is what I want. And I want to have a non-scary relationship with my STBX so that my kids don’t have to suffer the fallout.

      • A non-scary relationship with your stbx may or may not be possible, but it’s not only up to you.

        If he doesn’t have that same goal eventually, then the best you can do is take neccessary steps to protect yourself and your kids and enforce healthy boundaries.

        You have to let go of expections, IMO, and just deal with things. That’s part of letting go.

      • Mine owes MAJOR child support for his 2 kids from before me. Years ago he got arrested for something else and they held him with no bond. They wanted him to pay back the whole amount owed…thousands and thousands of dollars. They finally let him out so he could work to pay it back, and now they garnish his wages. And he’s about to have his license suspended. So glad it’s not my problem any more. Like my therapist said, he gave me a HUGE gift when he blatently cheated. I just didn’t see it at the time. Thanks to time, CL and you all I sure see it now!

        • Yes, he really did give you a huge gift and so did mine. I’m pretty screwed financially at the moment and will have to move soon to something small, crappy and a huge backwad step. But you know what? I’m slowly rebuilding a career I set aside a long time ago and people are helping me with contacts, etc. I just got an introduction via email to someone who could really make a difference to my career and although I’m still scared a lot of the time I also haven’t felt this alive in years. I’ll figure it out somehow – and my life right now is pretty good, other than financial worries. STBX? Not so much. His life is the same–few friends, controlling family, a woman glued to his side basking in his sparkles and him miserable.

          • I’m so happy for you Nord,
            I hope to start blogging and painting again. My apt. is not great but I love it because I’m fixing it up and it’s peaceful with him gone. I’m actually fixing up the “spare room” as a studio to try and get inspiration. It’s great, I feel like anything is possible, like you said “Alive!” What awful people they are…I probably would have just kept swimming under water except for the fact that he cheated..YAY! (Wow, never thought I’d say that! LOL =) )

            • I just need to get my career in order. I*m scared to death I’m going to end up on the dole, living in a slum. I hate that all these years of hard work have been pissed away because he can’t keep his trousers zipped.

              • Nord, those skills are still all under your belt. I did an MSc, in SPITE of living with Mr Fabulous and OW (a family member). So, yep, it is scary to restart, but what gives me strength is that the people I am working with do not know what I have been through, they just see the character, strength and strength of character.

                Think about the additional skills managing an NPD ex (with NC impossible, due to the unending punishment….) involves: negotiating with terrorists, (ability reach a sane consensus) anger management (people skills) and ability to translate narcspeak (forensic accounting and critical skills).

                Chumps, once they reach the exalted state of Meh, can’t lose. I think the trick is balancing the Meh with the exquisites self care, which means not letting yourself feel Meh about yourself, either. That feels wrong, because of the conditioning. I realise this post was a while ago, but would welcome your thoughts on how you are doing now??

                best, Mehphista (academic career banjaxed by part timeism and working around Mr Fab, now between jobs and continents)

      • I agree w/Time Heals; a non-scary relationship w/your ex WOULD be great, but may not be attainable. If your STBX were that amenable to reason and prioritizing his kids over his anger and entitlement, you would probably not be where you are now, no?

        Keep in mind the research on negotiating for peace w/in a contentious relationship; you make nice, but w/clear limits or requirements. They violate the limits or don’t meet the requirements, there are consequences. (Fairly mild consequences work quite well, doesn’t have to be huge; just enough to make sure they don’t benefit in any way from their pushing the limits, and are somewhat inconvenienced.) Then you make nice again. The cycle will repeat a few times, until the other person figures out you mean business and will be consistent in enforcing.

        Your husband may be focussed on winning, and you may not get everything you want by setting limits, but believe me, you are very unlikely to get anything more by giving in very much or trying to nice him into being nice.

        Best would be to think about how he’s reacted in the past when you used either strategy, the making nice or the setting limits. If his reaction to making nice was a temporary improvement followed by even more demands from him, and his reaction to limits was to escalate, you know you’re dealing w/major entitlement. Then you need to negotiate from a position of power, that’s the only thing that will work at all.

        I’m sorry you’re in this situation, we’d all love it if we could do partner-transplants. Worse yet bc I believe you have small kids and will stuck w/this guy in your life for a while. Your best bet is still to sick the law on him. If he manages to scheme and wiggle his way out of his responsibilities even so, you know he would have done that anyway. Sigh.

  • I still could use improvement with the NC thing. I know it’s impossible to be completely NC with two little kids but I could be better. I almost always keep it to business as usual… like when to pick up kids, etc. but every once in a while (I’m talking once a month if that) I’ll send him a little update of something new the kids are doing or whatnot. Maybe because I’m at home with them during the day and I feel like he deserves to know? I don’t know. But mostly he responds with some kind of oh-thats-cute-but woe is me I don’t get to see them as much as you blah blah. If he can squeeze an “I’m broke” in there as well, he gets the trifecta! I have responded that if he’s going to throw a pity party every time I tell him something then I just won’t send him any updates. I know what I should have done is just stopped updating him right then, not responded to the pity party. And I have cut back on sending him little kid factoids, but sometimes I guess I just miss having someone to talk to about the kids… someone that cares as much about them as I do. Well, almost as much 🙂

    I guess the main reason I really should stop altogether, though, is because, as usual, it seems to be a one way street. I can’t recall ever getting any information about the kids from him. I guess I’d been thinking we would be able to co-parent, but I guess what we really need to do is more like parallel parent. Because you can only co-parent with someone that can be a team player and my ex just plays on his team of one.

    • AnotherErica – It is hard to fight the temptation to share things with him about the kids. Today my daughter is coming home from a field trip. It’s 90 out and the bus has no A/C. One of the parent chaperones texted me and said my daughter is a trooper. My first instinct was to send that to my husband. Then I thought – does he care? This is the family that he walked away from. He’s seen the kids 19 hours in 59 days. I never sent the text.

      • Kay H– this is where I am torn about contact with the ex. Why should I update him on the kids, he had the affairs, he left the marriage.
        But he does update me on big events, send pictures of the kids at activities (getting awards at school, etc).

        In the autumn he moves overseas with the AP and their new baby.
        No contact will be easier! But then I will have the guilt of keeping him up to date on the kids, and making sure they keep in contact with the ex inlaws.

        My heart aches for my kids. They love their father dearly, and he is abandoning them again.

        • Consider opening a facebook page for family photos, whatnot, etc. Its up to him to choose to log on to it or not. You can keep the entire page “locked” so that only people you accept as friends can access it.

          If he starts using it as a way to contact you, insult, intimidate, etc, print it out and keep the evidence somewhere safe, and stop updating.

          When he tries to bitch to a judge that you don’t communicate, you can point out its not your responsibility to give him these details; you tried, he started abusing your overly generous actions, and you stopped.

          Then he can explain why his co-parenting is full of insults and intimidation.

        • How old are your kids? Can contact/casual info be left up to HIM, and to them? Like, if he calls or Skypes or e-mails them, he might hear about the soccer game, otherwise, no?

          Really, unless they’re tiny, this should be HIS responsibility. Not only is he the one that cheated and broke up their family, he’s the one who’s moving overseas. And HE’S THE DAD – it’s part of the job!

      • Hard to do, but you did it, Kay H. And you did the right thing. 99% of parenting is showing up, right? Our secretarial days are OVA!

        • The kids are 9 and 12. A few more years and they can make their own decisions, but right now the 9 yr old is too young to regularly check email, etc (I know first hand, as I have been away from them for a month for work. They are with their father).

          FB in general is a good idea, except he just blocked me. I ‘unfriended’ him the day I filed for divorce, but did not block him. We have 1 or 2 joint friends. I actually find it amusing that I got blocked.

          Things to work out in the next 6 months before he goes overseas.

          • It could be your responsibility to get your 9 yr old onto the computer to check e-mail, but then up to them. You’ll probably find dad doesn’t make that big an effort to stay in touch, but if he does, the kids will respond. And w/Skype, really staying connected is not hard any more. If your ex books a time (convenient for YOU) to Skype w/the kids, it would be your job to get them in front of the computer and ready to go. NO MORE than that!

  • I was monitored like a high security prison inmate for YEARS without knowing. The SOB even got in on my cell calls to my lawyer. I trust NO form of electronic communication anymore. When I have something to communicate, I do it the old fashioned way, I write a letter on a computer that is not and never will be connected to the internet. If I think I need to, I cc a copy to my lawyers office with instruction to the secretary to time stamp it and just stick it in my file for future reference.

    Mail is too slow for his need to blow up about things, so he texts. I have a lot of fun imagining his fat fingering that little blackberry keyboard and then throwing the phone across the room when all he gets for a response is “K”

  • Love your advice, CL! Maintaining control by limiting essential contact to however much YOU want is the only way to go. We chumps accommodated for years — it’s time to stop doing it.

  • Mine “lost his shit”. On my birthday last year. Started calling at 4:00 am, leaving messages about how immature it was for me to not answer the phone. I unplugged and turned off phones and went back to bed. Then later when I was up and the kids were up I turned the phones back on and allowed my kids to answer the phone (he called 52 times during those couple of hours). He talked to our oldest for about two minutes and them asked to speak to me. I relayed through her that he needed to text or email me. He insisted that he just wanted to wish me a happy birthday. I held my ground. He then instructed our daughter to put him on speaker phone and for her to follow me around with it. Omigod. Then over speakerphone he chastises me for “putting our kids in the middle” and calls me a number of names along the lines of selfish, immature bitch. I hang up on him and he continues to call back over and over until I lose it and take the call. Big mistake. Ruined my birthday further with more verbal abuse. I went to coworkers for advice the next day, citing that sad, pleading look on my kids’ faced when they try to hand me the phone. One coworker gave me great advice, which worked and sounded so ridiculously simple I can’t believe I never thought of it: when he calls let the kids answer the phone. If he asks to speak to you, politely take the call into the other room and close/lock the door, then hang up without saying a word. The kids have done “their job” and are not witness to any more abusive behavior.

    • OMG, does he not realize what an idiot this makes him look like? ‘I’m going to abuse and harass you AND the kids until you take my call to wish you ‘happy birthday’.’

      Makes it SOOOOOOO clear that it’s about control, not one tiny little molecule of caring in there. And some day this will be so far in your past you’ll be able to laugh about it!

      Hope you document all this kind of stuff. Might be handy some day.

  • CL is on target. One thing I noticed in a situation I observed was that the NPD male spouse/cheater kept demanding that the abandoned spouse/Mom (who had always done all the child care AND kept up a career) do all kinds of bookkeeping, justifying, record-keeping. Don’t let these narcs crowd you into doing a lot of work. They can find out when school events are, log on to the school’s website to find out about grades, schedule their own conferences with teachers, etc. Even post-breakup, an NPD abandoner (I’ve observed males in this role) expects his ex-wife to report grades, etc. Hey, he can log onto the school’s calendar like anyone else, etc…..

    And if they write abusive e-mails, save them! I would say, no matter how tempting, it is smarter not to point out how hypocritical the abandoner is being in an e-mail. Keep it all business. Or as Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts.” Now, if the narc goes overboard with insults, save it all in the insult folder. It could come in handy.

    The best way to fight these types is to show as little emotion and as much “Meh” as possible. They thrive on riling or emotionalizing others….. They are good at that. Don’t play their game.

    Chump Son

  • I wish I could go no contact, however, we have a young adult child with substantial special needs which are behavioral as in crazy time and believe you me when I tell you that there is nothing and I mean nothing that my husband has done that compares to the hell we go through with our oft-psychotic son.

    This is not an excuse to contact my husband, but rather a necessity for our survival, for both of us and also a necessity for the welfare of our son. My wasband never sends me abusive emails. If anything, its the other way around, because of my deep-seated anger that he could do this to me and our family and FOO shit. His form of abuse has always been by omission, but its over as I’m gone now. Fortunately, he supports me in my life, my work, and is around to help me when I need it. Always and with a smile. Before you go off on me for that. I am grateful and happy for the help and he is happy to do it, and it feels good. Am I on my guard? of course. Am I ever upset? Of course, again. How could I not be? but the opposite situation of being invisible does nothing but hurt me even further. I tried it and found it to be impossible for the aforementioned reasons and it only made me feel worse.

    So, the way I handle it is this… I have decided to not expect anything from him, in terms of him and me and also to put my intense rage aside as it really does not change anything. He’s a predatory fucktard and that is not going to change. I do not need any money from him as I make more than him, however, each of us needs to support the other in terms of our son. In 4 weeks, our son will be graduating high school and for the first time in 15 years will have nothing in place in the way of support, but we are working diligently on it. He will be living with my wasband, (thank God!!!) but I expect to get plenty of phone calls because as I said, it is that bad. I came within an inch of the calling the cops tonight as our son is prone to violent rages. He’s on the autistic spectrum and while autism is not in and of itself responsible for that, its his disordered way of thinking and stressors that cause him to act out. He’s been in a therapeutic boarding school for the past 2.5 years. Its very slow going… but we are on top of it, 100%!

    Fortunately, Wasband is far more of the extremely passive, not narc variety and is not abusive except by omission and the addition of other women. I left him because of that, which took me years to do, but I couldn’t bear finding any more unsavory surprises on my computer.

    We have been together for 27 years and I feel that the greatest gift I can give my children is to be friends with their father. I understand deeply that this won’t work for the majority of you, but that’s not to say that it can’t work. I believe that it can in some situations, but certainly not all.

    I greatly feel for those who spouses are TOTAL shitheads and grateful that at least, my husband is only a partial shithead.

    just wanted to express my views on this subject because I feel that if we are not sensitive and flexible to our own situations, if warranted, then we could do more harm than good. Again, my situation is more unusual and if he were the narc variety, I would be in a loony bin. My father was an abusive narc and I had thought that I was marrying someone as far from that as possible, but who I married was actually the flip side of the same coin and in many ways, just as bad, but in his case, it is impossible to see unless you are in an intimate relationship with him– for a very long time. I have also known other narc people and absolutely, they are impossible to deal with! My heart goes out to all of you who have to deal with Xes who are narc wingnuts! and yes, they are to be avoided, as much as possible!

    • I applaud you Laurel for bringing out specifics of context as a feature. So, one should devise ones own strategies based on their specific circumstances/context and the generic knowledge available on CL 🙂

      • Laurel, my daughter teaches autistic kids and I know how tough it is to raise them all alone so you need all the support you can get.
        My ex goes in for passive aggression – always played the nice guy/great dad – but froze me out for years while lying, gaslighting and running affairs with OW.
        My role was the nagging shrew who was “crazy” – I was actually declared sane by a psychiatrist who suspected the truth and, sure enough, DDay 1 came not long after.
        My kids are now grown and I hope to make divorce final soon – ex is with second long term affair partner who has displayed the anger that I used to have and is said to be bossy and controllng just as I was in that relationship.
        I have gone largely NC in the sense that I remain polite and stick to practical matters and business and leave out personal stuff and emotion as far as possible. You can be friendly without being friends…like to the guy who fixes your car or delivers a package or lives two doors down.
        Anytime I lapse and allow emotion in I tend to get burnt again as all the passive aggression and old tendencies remain so I try to detach and let OW have what she wanted for so long….giving up trying to control what is beyond your control is very liberating.
        Good luck with your son….its good that his father is involved and doing his share.

    • No one judges you here Laurel. Each of our circumstances is unique and we deal with them as unique individuals. You have your hands full (I have known woman with children who have pyschotic illnesses) It is good your ex id there to help you; most would have divorced the whole situation not just the individual.

    • Laurel I’m sorry. I forgot your son was autistic not pyschotic. Please accept my apology. Much different but harder still.

  • Good advice, CL ! Also enjoyed the Dinah video. I’ll get there someday soon! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • That’s an interesting perspective Laurel. With no kids, I think it’s a no brainer to cut ties and go cold turkey with NC.

    But as you said, with children in the equation, you do need to customize. The big mistake I made in previous separation attempts was to be hovered back in. I’m fair by nature. All of us chumps are. And my STBXW is smooth at manipulation. It’s difficult to defend against when you don’t like that. Takes a thief to catch a thief sort of thing.

    This time I’m going to be much firmer with the NC as is possible.

    I’m only into my third day after walking out. Last night she sent me a barrage of texts telling me I should read up on infidelity and PDs, but should focus on improving communication. So it’s not her fucking around that’s the problem, it’s my inability to communicate with her that is the issue. How’s that for a gas lighting, blame shifting cocktail.

    And pre affair, and some time after Dday, I actually believed that maybe I was a big part of the problems in our marriage. But in the last 2 years, since learning about NPD and BPD, especially reading “stop walking on eggshells”, I realize I have little or nothing to do with the conflict in our marriage.

    The last text she sent last night she told me she loved me! I didn’t respond to any of the texts.

    • Good for you.

      Hang tough. The first decade is the hardest. (snort)

      Each month gets just a little bit easier. I wish I could go No Contact cold turkey.

      Andy sends me in excess of 40 emails a month. I think I actually respond to maybe 5 – 10.

      And that’s already too many responses. (We have a small child together, so true No Contact is not an option.)

      Though I’m starting to think he’s dragging our daughter from specialist to specialist in some obscene form of “winning” over me.

      • There was a period of time where I got in excess of 40-100 emails A DAY. All telling me how awful I am, how I blew everything out of proportion (discovered a minimum of 6 affairs, one with a very close friend of mine and one that was being set up while he was already deeply involved with current OW), and generally telling me that everything I did was to screw him over (I was a SAHM with no career for years at that point and I wanted support). The emails are less frequent now but he tries to drag me in every week or so. I’ve been ignoring him so now he goes with text, right in front of current OW. I sometimes wonder what she thinks of this but then I realise I don’t give a shit.

    • Best of luck to your Kraft (do you speak German? Kraft means power, virtue, force… You picked a great moniker!)

      M exH did the same to me… Made me feel like a horrible spouse, I was not there for him etc. As our therapist said…. You cannot fault her if you did not tell her what you needed. THEN he finally admitted to two affairs, 13 yrs apart. I finally got him to admit that most of the issues to the end of the marriage were HIS.

      Stand tall.

  • A few typo’s back there. It should read:

    It’s difficult to defend against when you don’t THINK like that.

    ……I should NOT be reading about infidelity and PDs……

    • I totally kid on that one. I have what’s known as gallows humor.

      Growing up in an alcoholic home, I learned early on to find the “fun” in dysfunctional. Its a form of psychological self-defense.

      Next week Thurs will be one year divorced for me.

      Divorce is hell; being divorced is heavenly.

    • Two years seems to be the average for feeling really truly like ‘yourself’ again, truly ‘meh’ about the ex. That’s how it works for a lot of people, if there’s nothing too nasty to drag it out.

      But it does start to get better much sooner than that – and the secret to speeding that up is No Contact. You will not believe how much of a difference it will make, when you manage to get there!

      It’s been one year since I realized the narc was having a 2nd affair, and in two weeks it’ll be one year since I declared the relationship officially over. I feel UNBELIEVABLY better than I did last summer, and that mess is no longer the first thing that pops into my head when I wake in the morning. Aaaaahhh!

  • Thank you Karen. That is so reassuring. Can’t wait to get to “mew”!!!!

    My STBXW is a hard nut. Going to be a hard slog. I appreciate the support. Cheers!!!

  • Zyx321, thank you.

    Ironic. No I don’t speak German. I’m 4 th generation Australian, but all of my ancestors moved here from Germany and Austria in the late 1800’s. That is so interesting.

    Sorry you’re doing it tough. Thanks for the support.

    Do you have a German heritage?

    • Hi Kraft.
      No German heritage on my end, but I lived there in high school as an exchange student.

      Every day gets better, just remember to take deep breaths and eat.

      I am a year out from knowing the marriage was over (there were those pesky 2.5 months of false therapy), and I feel awesome! Divorce is final, I have gone out a couple of times. Knowing that I did the best that I could with the information I was provided
      is what helped heal me. I never lied, nor cheated, I asked if things were between us, etc.
      All the best to you, and everyone else here.

  • CL’s last paragraph about accommodating really hit home, as the stupid ex has YET AGAIN changed plans for a time when he either should have the kids but won’t, or shouldn’t have the kids, but now would have to, according to his new plan. I keep giving in because it will harm the kids if I don’t, or simply because I have no choice. He booked his vacation last December before informing me that he was planning on travelling for two weeks, leaving me to cover for 4 weekday evenings that the kids would normally go to his place for 3 hours while I worked, and 2 weekends he would normally have them. What am I going to do? Drop the kids at his empty house? He’s done that one several times for leisure travel. He knows that when it’s work travel last minute, I’ll work things out, but he keeps doing this for leisure travel as well.

    So this latest; he plans to take the kids for a long weekend to the city where the OW lives (fortunately they like it there). Don’t know why he can’t do this during the summer, but he books if for this coming weekend. Instead of booking their train (6 hours – he flies there, of course, but will already be there, they’ll travel alone to meet him) for the Friday evening, he books it for the middle of the day. Now not only do I have to re-organize my work day to get the kids to the station and on the train, but because he doesn’t keep track of any of the kids’ school stuff, that booking is on a day our daughter is supposed to be doing an educational outing w/her class. It’s not only a very fun one that she’s been looking forward to for months, it’s one of those where the class does a bunch of activities in the week leading up, related to the outing, and then a bunch in the following days as well. She’s SO upset! And of course, ‘websaver’ tickets, non-changeable and non-refundable.

    When I asked him what he thought would happen if I had a work day that I couldn’t re-arrange to accommodate his plans, he says he thought the kids would take a taxi from school to the train station. (He doesn’t have other options, like asking friends to help out, because he doesn’t HAVE any friends.) Yeah, they’re going to manage the taxi and that huge confusing train station alone, and Via Rail is going to let a 12 yr old and a 13 year old embark alone w/tickets printed off the internet. Normally non-travellers aren’t allowed on the platform at all, but they make me go onto the train, get them to their seats and inform the staff member responsible for that car that the kids are travelling alone!!!

    At least I stood up to him a little; because he’ll be away for work the days before the kids go to meet him, he asked last minute to change the days he has the kids in the evening. He was all pissed that I wouldn’t shift MY plans and MY work to do that. Fucktard.

    Off to call Via to see if there isn’t SOME way to change this ticket.

    • If he was the one to book them, could you just say, “sorry, daughter has plans. They’ll been there two days later than what you planned,” and have him deal with the price of the non refundable tickets?

      • I agree with GG, you should not be dealing with any of this, Karen, he should be. That includes that you should NOT be taking time from work (whether or not you “can” get the time off), should NOT be trying to figure out how the kids get to the station or on the train alone (they simply don’t), and you certainly should NOT be trying to determine if the tickets can be changed or refunded. That’s his problem, not any of yours. He has not taken into consideration any of your schedules, desires or commitments, or those of your children; meanwhile, he makes not one concession in his schedule. Here’s the funny thing about the situation he created: he is not in charge anymore. Just let him figure it ALL out.

  • Thanks for the support, GG, my daughter has been getting progressively more upset about missing her class outing, so I think I’ll do that!

    • Good. Remember, you don’t have to tie yourself in knots for him any more.

      • absolutely! What is he thinking booking a ticket when the kids are in school and has he ever heard the phrase “unaccompanied minor” or does he just think that they are just small adults? Mind boggling, to say the least! That puppy needs to be reigned in with some ground rules, but you are not the one who needs to fix his mess-ups.

        Thanks for your support too, Karen! I really need it right now. autistic son went off the rails last night. I came really, really close to calling the cops when he started shoving things off my desk and screaming like he was being murdered. This happened because he misbehaved at his boarding school and I told him that he needed to listen to the supervisor. He just went off with his dad who’s moving. It was like a giant weight was lifted from my chest, the moment he left and I could suddenly breathe again. I have to keep telling myself that his brain is disordered. He didn’t really mean to say, “Dad was right to have affairs with all of those women.” Yes, that’s what he said.

        He’s been getting intensive help since he was three. I could write a book about it… and STILL, he’s presenting as a sociopath.

        How did all of this happen? My marriage went bust… My kid is fucked up. I’m trying so, so hard to keep my head above the water, but the undertow is fierce! As I said before, at the very least, my h is 100% supportive and is actually far better at coping with all of this stuff, but of course, he too has his limits.

        Thanks for listening, if you got this far. ;]

          • But I can comment now! You are in a VERY tough situation, Laurel, and need to keep on doing as you are; thinking of ways to make things easier for you and your son. It’s great that your ex is good about this stuff – makes it less heavy for you.

            I know a lot of autistic kids, boys especially, get VERY hard to handle once they’re grown up. And it can’t be easy on him to know you and his dad are splitting. I hope it gets a bit easier for you with time.

            • The way you all are saying “autistic kid” is bugging me a lot.

              You have a child who has autism.

              You know a child who has autism.

              People are not their illnesses and it is very gross the way you’re discussing your son who has autism.

              My son has autism. He is a handful. But he is mine. And yes, I was a chump. And yes, I was chumpped by a man with NPD possible sociopath too. Yes it was hell. Yes I do have empathy and compassion for every single one of you on this site.

              Children with autism also deserve compassion. I know it is hard to care for them. I know how much it wears you down. ESPECIALLY when you have an ex who is hellbent on destroying every single stitch of progress you make with your son, like I do.

              It is an uphill battle. But dammit! My son is worth it. He isn’t ‘just’ autistic with a tendency toward massive temper tantrums, including throwing things when he is frustrated or his sense of fairness is triggered.

              He is ALSO highly gifted, loving, empathetic, compassionate, loves animals, his sister, his family, his friends… he is ALSO loyal, hilarious and kind.

              He is MINE. And if anyone talked about him how you are talking about these children on this thread in front of me, I would not hesitate to tell them exactly what I’m telling you right now.

              He has enough hard in his life. My ex husband calls him ‘re-re’ (short for retard) and rainman and sometimes tells him he is worthless. He doesn’t need his mom treating him badly too.

        • Laurel – ((((((((((Hugs)))))))))) XO. Maybe you can get some *Laurel* time? XO

          • thanks guys. I can’t tell you how much it means to me, because today is one of the tough days. I realize that the trap is that I had nothing planned. So, so much of my time was spent with the older son and his music, but he lives in Boston now. In addition, husband is moving. I say husband because we are still very much legally married and neither of us has filed anything and my h is waaaaaaaaay too cheap to ever hire a lawyer. Don’t ask. just don’t. Fortunately, we’ve already split up our money and we’re closing on our home of 22 years on Monday. We’re making a nice profit on it, but I still feel like vomiting. I know… if Fullulah Gigglepants (what a name!) is reading this, she’ll say that my life sounds like a paradise compared to hers.

            All I ever really wanted was a close knit family and circle of friends and yet it all seems to have eluded me. I just was straightening up my living room where my son was staying and I found a folded up piece of paper with very messy writing and realized that this is a list of words/phrases that Aaron (who has autism, if you didn’t read before) either heard in a movie, heard someone say or read somewhere.

            here it is (as written):

            stockalm syndrome
            anarchy transparacy
            red flag
            void turfbar
            for better or worse

            he’s nearly 18 and a half. Now, a few of those, I can get, but some of them, any 8 yr old would know and some don’t even make sense.

            I think a part of me died the day I found out that he had a lifelong disability.

            He TRULY believes that he is going to graduate high school (yes, he’s getting a high school diploma in a few weeks!) is going to be a FAMOUS (with the emphasis on FAMOUS) rock star. He practices all the time. He’s not a too bad guitarist… his voice sucks. He says “thank you” to the throngs that have gathered to hear him… He called up Billy Corgan’s (Smashing Pumpkins) manager to TALK TO BILLY.

            He does not need to go to college or study music any further or even get a job.

            We are waiting, waiting, waiting, to hear from our state Office of People with a Developmental Disability for funding and we may not get it. He’s had intensive services since the age of three… and in 25 days, its all coming to a crashing HALT. And the fight begins again. However, my husband and I are not going to live forever and we are desperately trying to provide for disabled son. But, his IQ is average. He walks. He talks. He understands some of what you say, but there are big holes and instead of asking what you mean, he just shuts down and tells you to shut the fuck up!

            I always said that if anything it bonded my husband and I together because we HAD to have a united front. Our older son has ADHD. Completely different issue, but compared to this, perfectly normal.

            Someone please… please tell me why my feckless husband did this to us? Isn’t that what we ALL want to know? This is a 27 year relationship. I’m 57 now. How am I to make an entirely new life for myself? NOW? Relationships and friendships take a long time and a lot of effort and I am so very tired… It all feels completely overwhelming and impossible. These are supposed to be the “good years.” What a fucking joke that is. But I get it now. When can I go home? Game’s over. No contact? My husband WAS my best friend. support system. go to guy. speaks the queens fucking English. Always knew the right thing to say and reigned in my trigger quick yap!

            I would often tell him how unhappy I was and he would just sit there. mute.

            Alright. He has an intimacy disorder. sooooooooo??? He was in therapy THREE TIMES A WEEK when I met him in 1986. (talk about your red flags). Cold, domineering, judgmental, CRITICAL mother.

            GET OVER IT!

            I don’t want Laurel time, although I certainly understand what you mean. I was always careful over the years to take that which I did through my ballet dancing, but now… I haven’t been to a class in weeks and then the next one will be weeks after that. I went to a shrink and she asked me if I was drinking? wtf? I am practically a teetotaler. So, I didn’t go back. Obviously, she could not relate to my relational trauma. My mistake. I should’ve asked her from the get go.

            Oh God… I am not going to apologize for going on and on, but I should… I figure if anyone wants to read it and comment, great and if not, that is okay too. Nobody is holding a gun to our heads.

            I just want to be happy. Please don’t tell me that I have to find that from within or some crapola like that. I NEED PEOPLE, GOD DAMN IT!!! Normal, nice, kind, honest PEOPLE!

            and yet here I sit… They aren’t exactly gonna drop through the ceiling now, are they?

            BTW, in the period before D-Day #2… my husband and were actually having about the best time we had had in years as Aaron had gone to the boarding school. We used to instant message and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

            and then, when I found out the truth, everything stopped being funny.

            I didn’t feel numb at that point, or like I was falling. That happened after D-day #1… but, six years later I was just doubled over in the most excruciating pain, ever. I just want it to fucking stop already!

            • Oh Laurel,
              I starting to get back into art, first time I tried to create since High School. I won the art award upon graduation (I’m 53) and I started taking classes a couple of years ago, and have been taking pictures, started a blog, and actually sold some paintings. After he F-d up my “life” I can’t create anymore. My daughter bought me classes for April and I never made it through one class. I’d just cry. They suck our souls out of us, then discard. I am fixing up the back room, my girls got me everything I need, but I am still stalling, working on fixing it up because I’m scared to try again. I was doing something for US about a year ago, and I think that pissed him off.

              I wish I coukd be your friend in person. How can I trust anyone anymore? Even a “friend”? There are so many of these bad people out there. But we are all slowly getting better, and you will too! ((((Hugs))))

            • Laurel, I’m with Toni. Wish I could sit with you and just listen. Maybe try and make you laugh a bit. Glass of wine (fuck what the shrink thinks…..)

              We all have our own personal hells we go through. Yours’ sounds almost unbearable. Seems fairly obvious NC is not an option for you. I’m so sorry for you. I’m sure you’ve heard the same platitudes we all have. The ones about “getting out more” and “joining groups”. I’m sure those are all great things to do, and someday I will be able to do them. So will you. But not right now….. at least for me. I’m a bit too vulnerable still and the thought of maybe having to go through this shit again makes me want to scream.

              I, too was a dancer. Brazilian and African. I stopped when I met the X, he “didn’t really like me dancing like that with so many other people around”. Like an idiot, I capitulated. Lost a big part of myself, and simply have not been able to start again. Just can’t. I do find that exercise helps… A LOT. For me, the rhythm and balance is important, so I paddle. Or did, until I moved to New Orleans and now have a bit harder time finding suitable water. Working on it, though. Just had to drive to Florida and deal with the ex to get my boat back. (That’s when he told me it would be easier for him if I were dead… but HE STILL OVES ME SOOOO MUCH. Whatever.)

              I can’t imagine how scared you must be. So many huge changes, none of which are good. Although you feel physically alone, you do have at least an on-line support group here. It has certainly helped me. I hope that wherever you live there is a decent support system for parents with autistic children. If not, are there online groups for that, as well? So wish I could just give you my personal e-mail…….. It’s hard to find someone to trust, after all we’ve been through.

              Please…. try a different shrink. I keep looking for one that works for me, too. It is difficult, and I tend to not tell them everything just because my life was so bizarre. That is a mistake that I am trying to fix. No luck yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

              I’m 51… starting over at this age sucks. Seems to be a lot of us here that are, though. What is wrong with the losers that put us through this crap?

              huge hugs………..

            • My first therapist was not very good and I ended it after 6 sessions. My second started like she was a doctor, did a thourough emotional evaluation ( took almost 2 sessions) before she even started digging into my current situation. I mean we talked about it but she wanted to know alot about my life, work,social habits ect.. So you really sound like you need someone you can unload on. I am lucky to have my sisters and friend but there are sometimes you need a neutral person who is trained to deal with this. And please feel free to unload here. That is what we are here for.

            • FWIW Laurel,

              I think I totally get what you are saying about DDAY 2. There’s less denial, less “this can’t be happening to me, my life, etc”, so it’s not the same the second time.

              What can you do but get up, dust yourself off, and soldier on, right?

              • Big hugs Laurel, I live in England and just wish I could teleport to your part of the world and we could drink wine and chat and laugh at our chumpiness!!
                We are here for you wherever we are in the world and all rooting for you and, know what, sone of the old platitudes are true. You never know what is round the corner and all things do pass.

        • Neurological impairments and mental health issues are nothing you caused, you can’t fix it only pray and support your son from your place which sounds like you can be his Mom again not all his providers wrapped into one person. I personally have the same life story experiences as you and my son went with his Father when he was 10 and a half because I told the court I won’t be abused by my son and I won’t have my daughter around it either. Take a good look at your feelings and thoughts with these blogs and rooms and find a therapist who is an expert with Narcissists …. guess what I married another one and am pregnant and this spouse is worse than the last….. we have been through it and when enough is enough each emotional load and drama filled situation will come into focus as we peel back those onion layers of omg and the crap they try to throw at us …. detach with love my friend and know you are not alone and my son now 15 same stuff still hurts deep down yes let that go as mental issues regardless of cause their behavior and words and actions and non actions are their choice Not yours! Go have a coffee and meet some new friends – time for reflection and healing and your own recovery. Don’t get into another situation like me find out how to not let these individuals near you to your own sanity!!!

    • Karen,
      Yes, hold the line, and the KIDS are the reason, not the difficult ex wife, or whatever he says about you. This is especially important if he wants to maintain a good relationship with the kids. He needs to think about THEM.


  • CL: As the betrayed wife of a family law specialist…thanks for the post.
    Let the lawyers handle it all? It’s that kind of thinking that pays our mortgage!

  • Hi Shawn the Wife, glad we can help each other reciprocally; the lawyers take the heavy lifting of dealing with a narcissistic ex, allowing the betrayed spouse to protect themselves better. And in turn, your mortgage gets paid! I think that’s a fair trade.

    But I was once married to a lawyer – not easy people to divorce. You end up needing one who is at least as good as your ex ….. In my case, I ended up walking away and letting him rip me off. I was young, had a good job, no kids and no responsibilities, and it drove him NUTS that he couldn’t use the financial stuff around the separation to jerk me around any more! He would propose something, I’d agree, he’d change it, then propose something else, completely unfair, then change that, then accept a proposal of mine, then refuse it ……

    In front of the ex, when we went to sign the settlement, my lawyer said ‘I just need to remind you, Karen, that if you sign this, you are consenting to be robbed.’ To which I said ‘I consent. It’s worth every penny to have NOTHING more to do with him.’ Should have seen the ex’s face!!

    • Karen – well played! 😀
      I can totally relate. I walked away because ASAP freedom was by far the best deal going, and it turned out even better than I had planned. I didn’t have a good job when I signed a bogus separation agreement, but being legally free and clear meant that I could move verrrrry far away to take an offer I received just days after the state-mandated waiting period. All his blustering and posturing and hiring of lawyers was for nothing. Not only did he waste a ton of time and money, but he looked like a total idiot because he had painted me as an evil gold digger who was plotting and scheming to steal every last penny. Ooops.

      Every person’s situation is different. If you have children, it will be important to make sure that support and custody arrangements are properly sorted, and this is obviously worth getting done properly. Sometimes it is important to fight for spousal support, but sometimes it is worth it to cut them loose so that you can focus on your self (and kids, if you have them) without interference. After my experience I would say these things to anyone who is facing divorce:
      1-The best piece of advice I got was this: “However your spouse behaved during your marriage is how you can expect them to behave during your divorce.” If you are dealing with a serial cheater who double-lifed you and your health and your family for cake, then guess what? They are going to hide shit and play every dirty trick in the book to make things as difficult as they can for as long as they can because it keeps the focus on them. They will hire the nastiest lawyer they can find to help them to this end.
      2-Each county has a pro-se clinic that can advise you on divorce law and proceedings in your state, so go check it out and ask questions. They can’t provide legal advice, but they can give you the lay of the land so that you know what the laws are and what to expect. Even if you know that you want to or need to hire a lawyer, spending an hour or two at the pro-se office will give you some great info that can help you weed out the sharks and hire someone who is really going to work for the best interests of you and yours. You may also be in a position to do *some* of the work yourself and save money by working cooperatively with your lawyer (not always an option, but worth a try).
      3-When selecting a lawyer, make sure they are experienced in dealing with high-conflict cases (read=they know what it’s like to deal with a narcissistic fuckwad). If your spouse has threatened you, has a history of emotional abuse, or has been violent, make sure that you specifically mention domestic abuse so that you will be working with a lawyer who understands power games and who can refer you to other resources. It is very important that your lawyer is prepared for all manners of bullshit and is not running under the assumption that anything is said or done without some other agenda.
      4- Detach emotionally from your settlement. Whatever the number is, it is not going to be fair, and it is not going to compensate you for the pain or the financial losses you have endured. This is not about revenge or even about making anything right. This is about achieving the best possible outcome for YOU and YOUR kids, and it is a balance. Every penny you get in a settlement or support and every term of the custody agreement will have a cost in terms of both money and time/energy, so be sure that you and your kids are always coming out ahead. In choosing your battles, you are actually empowering yourself by focusing only on what YOU need to get yourself back on your feet financially and emotionally so that you can show up for yourself, your kids, and your friends and family. Do the best that you can and then get on with the business of living your life without getting sucked in to a long term battle. It’s cake to them and of no help to you.
      Good luck, everyone.

      • Thank you GoBeAwesome, that is great advice. No 1 especially is what I need to heed as my ex always played the nice, fair reasonable guy and made lots of promises in the course of our marriage. He rarely kept those promises, schemed and manipulated, and used buckets of passive aggression while screwing other women and avoiding sex with me.
        Well the need to avoid sex with me no longer applies but the rest does so I will taken little notice of promises – he does not deliver. I will take the motto – nice is as nice does – and expect the same approach to divorce as he took in marriage. That carrot that he always dangled never did get within reach so he can keep it for his new donkey in our settlement…I think he will need it.

  • Here’s back atcha Toni! (((((hugs)))). And sorry, I seem to have hi-jacked this post and I hope that’s okay. I absolutely DO believe in no contact and Tracy is about the wisest badassiest of the badasses that ever roamed this sad planet. However, as I said, in a world without children, never mind an autistic, psychotic young adult who’s “transitioning” (another ridiculous misnomer– TRANSITIONING?), but any way, going through a massive life change— its impossible.

    It sounds like you have a wonderful daughter. My older son is like that too. Now, that is… and very supportive.

    My husband’s family are largely fucked up; they get into these rifts and don’t speak to each other but speak about each other through other family members. They are often capricious and cruel, but they can’t see it.

    How DO we ever trust again? That is definitely the 64k question. Ironically, years and years ago, I had a crush or two, from afar… and this is how the scenario went… (in my head)… I’d push his advances away because I COULD NOT— WOULD NOT DO THAT TO MY DARLING HUSBAND. IT WAS NOT RIGHT. OR… if I was feeling particularly desperate…

    he had just dropped dead of a heart attack and I was finally FREE… because systematically he shut off all romance and love. OH, he did loving things like make me a website and do my book keeping which I hate to do… but affection? nope. not for Laurel!

    So, then, I find out while I was having my fantasy of seeing the devastated look on my beautiful husband’s face… HE was preying on Craig’s List (and at work) on as many women as would have him.

    I have a doozy of an email where he tries to explain himself. Its quite something, and I would copy and paste it, but I’ve already over-stayed my welcome here. Maybe another time.

    Honey… I’m an artist too. A former ballerina, a singer, actress, now interior designer for many, many years. Are you taking any meds? Believe it or not… I am and it was helping, but now… I think I need some tweaking because I am just too, too sad, too much of the time. What I found is that it didn’t help so much with the depression as it did with focus and motivation and when I accomplished something, I felt better about myself. I have been struggling again. I just hired a marketing person to help me a bit with my stuff and she’s absolutely darling.

    sometimes I give into the crap and just write… or watch HG TV– LOL! or the weather channel. The tornado show is one that makes me realize for at least a brief time, just how lucky I am…

    Tomorrow, I signed up for a meet-up. Its a short hike to a historical bridge in my county. Do I feel like it. nope. Am I making myself go. yep. Will anything come of it? probably not. But I’ve told myself if I just try one thing NEW, at least 2 or 3 times a month, then at least I’ve TRIED.

    I also spend a lot of time fixing my place up and painting… painting… the walls, the cabinet… even the upholstery!!! hahahaha! Yes, I’m fucking nuts… but its all so fucking beautiful. I finally have the little home I’ve always wanted but could never have (because fucktard was fucking around instead of earning a living)…

    okay… I think I can finally actually tie all of this in to the message of CL’s post and its that we need to make NEW LIVES for ourselves and its probably the most difficult, painful, SCARY thing I’ve ever had to do. It feels daunting and impossible.

    but maybe its that we’ve been living such dysfunctional lives for so long, that when things are actually becoming more normal, it all feels crazy and wrong and like we will die if we don’t get back the genuinely crazy we left behind. Maybe that’s all it is…

    Has anyone who’s managed to get this far tried EMDR therapy to help them cope with their trauma? And if so, did it help?

    • Laurel… again, we seem to be writing at the same time…..

      Yes, I have tried EMDR, and it helped immensely. I also have PTSD from a bunch of other crap the EX dragged me through. Technically, the EMDR was for that, but the focus helps with your whole life. I think that is one of the reason I paddle, the side to side movement mimics a lot of the therapy, though at a much slower pace. I can, however, still access a lot of the focus I gained through therapy by the side to side movements.

      • thanks so much for the feedback. I think I’m going to look into it.

        • EMDR saved my life. It is amazing. I still have the memories, but they do not feel the same. The searing pain went away.

          • Now, I’m definitely going to look into it. My trauma goes back to childhood, so it is absolutely tied into that. H actually said to me… “but you seemed to get over it so well…”

            sure… until I realized that the love of my life was someone I did not even recognize as my husband and that he was capable of unspeakable acts which he left for me to find…

            it was then that I realized that he did not even possess a soul. It was just something he manufactured to give that impression, but it was not real.

            How could it be?

    • “I have a doozy of an email where he tries to explain himself. Its quite something, and I would copy and paste it, but I’ve already over-stayed my welcome here. Maybe another time.”

      Forward it to CL. She can do color commentary and post it so we can all enjoy.

        • I sent it to her, but of course, she is free to post or not post, but maybe it would help, because I think he fits a type that is not the blatantly, egotistical narc type, but the more passive (aggressive) type which is less difficult to see because the abuse is in the form of OMISSION. My h is the verrrry gentlemanly, non-blaming (but not accepting responsibility either.) type. He’s the “forgetful” (an insidious form of abuse) type.

          All women, eventually become a surrogate mother that he can hurt, but in a way that no one but his victim can see. (like leaving his cyber sex OPEN on my laptop by accident [and he’s a geek!] and talking to other women about my breasts and leaving that for me to find too.)

          yes, scary stuff.

  • OMG. I just broke NC. I went for a walk and he was parked at the beach, slumped over in his truck. On the way back he saw me and I stopped and asked him if he was OK. Apparently he paid the rent today for the place he shares with the new “love of his life” and then she threw him out. I wished him luck, told him I wished I could help him, then walked away. I can’t believe I did it, he even cried…..I didn’t buy it! Thank you CL! Wow -I’m in shock but I know I did the right thing…Right? I could have never done this just a few months ago. I still can’t believe I did it!

    • So he paid the rent for a place with OW, and then she tossed him out? I love it! Beep, beep, here comes the karma bus! Watch out, cause it’s gonna run your lying, cheating ass DOWN.

      • Karma never forgets an address! And good for you. Quite frankly I would have crumbled

        • Oh Janet,
          I came very close. But when the first words out of his mouth were about what “she did to him” and how the landlord “wouldn’t give him his money back” that saved my butt. I was raised to believe that no matter what all people are human beings, and I do admit to being a little down this morning, but I did the right thing. It would have just started the whole cycle over again and I don’t want/need those people F-ing up my life again. Besides, he’s doing drugs too, I asked him. And I can never see him cry now though without thinking it’s fake. I am so grateful for this site, I know through everyone’s sharing what will happen if I DO give in….

    • You SOOOO did the right thing, Toni! He’s in a bad place because HIS CHOICES put him there. He could have made a little effort, been honest and caring, and been in a much better place with you, but that’s not what he chose, right?

      And remember that he’s NOT a ‘regular’ person who’s in a bad spot and would appreciate your caring and attention, and reciprocate when you’re unhappy. He’s looking for ego kibbles so he can feel better, and then get on w/his egotistical ways.

      Good for you!!!

      • AWESOME!!! Karma bus indeed! Toni, these are moments so worth it-yet at the same time it is sad because these NPD ex’s could not see the REAL beauty that they had in their lives with us, great kids etc. We were tossed, thrown aside and they pretty much burned our houses down literally. Yet, out of the ashes we shall rise. . . Well, I say Good for you! You did the moral thing in just asking if he was okay- and then when you saw he was breathing you just walked on. LOVE IT!!!

        • Thanks to you all! The best part of all to me is I wasn’t all torn up about it! I went home, took a shower, read for a little bit, slept like a baby and woke up just fine this morning, if this is “Meh” I’m loving it!

          • The sad truth is that not all people ARE human beings. Nice fantasy, but in reality it is nothing more than a fable.

            • I know Laurel. i’m trying to unlearn what I believed all my life. I was thinking the same thing while typing it…

  • How to go no contact:

    Remember the golden rule: (s)he doesn’t give a SHIT about you, nor what you think or feel. So spare yourself the humiliation of sharing that with the WAP. (They do not care. You’re pissing into the wind.)

    So catch yourself. It’s really hard, but it’s good exercise. Never share your thoughts or opinions or feelings. Never ask for theirs–their opinions do not matter, and they’re not in your best interests, anyway.

    Practice non-engagement. Do not let them suck you in. They will provoke with the most outrageous statements. Observe that–also note how they talk endlessly about themselves, unless they are blaming you for something. It is really quite fascinating, actually. Once I understood the pattern, it was actually very interesting to observe how closely he stuck to the script–“Oh, my life is so hard, the kids never want to see me, oh!” He would sweep all his transgressions under the rug as if to say, “Enough about my responsibility, what about making me happy?”

    It’s sad, really, because your best friend is no longer there for you. Know it. Stop hoping (s)he will care. (S)he does not. Act like it.

    Remember that they usually do not want to share child rearing with you. If they did, they’d be at home. They’re not at home. So stop telling them about that cute thing that Junior or Fluffy did this afternoon. They don’t care. And even if they do, sharing about the children/pets is an intimate act. It sets up an expectation in your mind that you share intimacy with the cheater WAP. You don’t. They don’t care.

    Invite them to enjoy the life they chose when they deliberately sacrificed a life with you. Do this by being silent. You’re not their friend, you don’t do chores for them any more. They chose that. Being nice will not make you seem like a better choice for them. They don’t care for you. They cheated on you. They enjoyed it.

    So shut the door on them.

    Keep a journal, on e-mail if you want to. I wrote a list of all the ways he was shitty to me and I edited it regularly. I also wrote a list of ways he was shitty in general and edited that, too. I wrote a list of all my worst fears–that has been fun to look back on, actually, as I realize that one by one, I have knocked out almost all of my fears. You can also outline a plan for each of those fears.

    If you must communicated, do it by e-mail or text. Save the e-mail or text in a draft, and sleep on it. Your first and third drafts are likely terrible and 90% could be edited out. Don’t e-mail on an emotional knee-jerk. (I did it, I regretted it every single time, and I got better.) Get a friend with a big red pen to edit that shit down to two or three sentences, none of which contain a feeling. CL has good advice on that in this column. Just stick to the facts, not your opinions, not your reactions.

    (This may make them crazy. And that is awesome. However, your goal is to stop caring how they feel, because they don’t care about you.)

    Only give NECESSARY facts, ask only NECESSARY questions. With a bit of practice, you will get stronger, just like any other exercise.

    Know the peace in not getting your hopes up, only to have them smashed again and again. Know the peace in gaining strength when you cut out the cancer, when you pull off the parasite. Know the power there is in silence–actually it is quite maddening. You know it, because their silence is suffocating. Fight back by putting up a wall. Take back your mystery–besides, you have some growing to do, and they don’t need to witness any of it while it is still tender and green.

    Keep yourself too busy for the WAP. Make your own plans, fix up your space the way YOU want it (this is HUGE), dream your own dreams, make some new friends, reconnect with family and friends.

    You can do this. It is life-changing. It is awesome. It will make you stronger in the rest of your life, too.

    I’m so much prouder of myself now.

    • These words are ones I will come back to again and again. You’ve said it so well, Stephanie!

    • Love the bit about ‘they don’t want to share child rearing with you. If they did they’d be there with you’. Indeed. STBX will send texts to me about something one of the kids did, usually the day after a torrent of abusive bullshit via email. I never respond. I don’t want to share these moments with him. Why? Because he treats me like absolute crap and I’ve lost the desire (and that took longer than I’d like to admit) to share beautiful moments about our children. And it sucks, because we brought these two great kids into the world and they should not be stuck in this situation where their dad is such a dickwad that he cheated on their mother repeatedly and then treats her horribly. And blames her for his wandering dick issues.

      NC is great and it really does wash away the last vestiges of attachment. But then yesterday one of my kids said he was so sick of going back and forth from his place to mine…and while we were out having a bit of an adventure he said ‘I wonder what it would be like with dad here’. And it broke my heart all over again because I hate that his father didn’t give a shit enough about his kids to keep his pants zipped and focus on his family and what a great thing he had here with us.

    • This is sooo good.

      I hope you don’t mind Stephanie, but I’m going to quote your words on my blog.

      You are so on target.

    • Stephanie, this is a fantastic post. You hit it right on target.

    • Stephanie, just brilliant. Copied into my files for re-reading 🙂

    • Yep, definitely have been guilty of trying to share kid moments with the ex. I guess because he claims to care. I need to do more of that thing where I ignore what he SAYS and pay attention to what he DOES. And you’re right, they don’t want to actually do the child-rearing. They just want to say they do and get credit for the feeling.

      So yes, now we’re going on a week of not hearing from him. He who MISSES THEM SO MUCH! He who guilt trips me if he finds out I got a babysitter or if I don’t act like I’m dying to get the kids back an hour early. Because, according to him, unlike me, he actually WANTS to see the kids. Uh huh. I wish it didn’t actually bother me so much that we haven’t heard from him. I just hope I can be meh when he does finally call, or if he doesn’t bother until his visitation if I can be “meh” then.

      The boys and I did go on all these adventures this past week (first week of summer and one of my last staying home with them) and sadly I did want to tell him about what we did. Even though I KNOW I shouldn’t. So it’s good we haven’t heard from him. He’d just boo-hoo about how he doesn’t have the time to do these things with him and he’s so jealous. Nevermind that he would have time to do it if he weren’t too busy playing in his soccer games or jet-skiing while his parents watch them.

    • Stephanie — AWESOME post — this should be a blog post all its own. 🙂

      • Golden advice for us all to aspire to. I am much better than I was before but still learning. Bitter experience has been my teacher and I have been a slow learner. My top tip would be to cut the emotional stuff – dont do what I did yesterday and discuss your sick father and his progress – just stick to the facts. Be polite and cool. Do not ask questions that do not relate to what needs to be discussed. It is none of your business how his trip went, what he and OW do in their spare time or if his friend from college has found another job yet. Cut the chit chat and keep smalltalk impersonal. Be brief and to the point. Do not give away unneccessary information or show your hand. Practise doing poker face.
        I had a major lapse at xmas but hope lesson was not wasted and I strive to practise what I am preaching.

  • Hobbies. Hobbies, hobbies, hobbies. It distracts your mind and keeps you from picking up that phone and dialing the number of death. You can pick up new skills or hone old ones you forgot you had (mine was with painting and drawing. It had been so long since I’d drawn something that I wanted to draw, and not something to please him.)

    Every time I looked at the phone and was tempted to text him, I told myself “Not this time, see how long you can go.” It sounds silly, but I would set goals for myself for how long I had to wait until I allowed myself to text him again. I’d say “One week…” and at the end of that week I would say “One more week…” and at the end of that week, I would say “One MORE week…” You see where this is going. I kept adding weeks on at the end of each one and before I knew it, two months had gone by and I hadn’t talked to him. So I just kept going.

    By the time he contacted me (HE contacted me. Not the other way around.) It had been several months and I was in a new relationship. He said he just wanted to know if I ever thought of him. What did I say?


  • Just a funny story about NC in a marriage. Last Christmas I went to my sister’s for a few days. I had invited him but he said no and I was glad. He texted me 44 times in two days! Just stupid stuff. If I didn’t respond he would keep texting until I did. I turned off my phone when visiting relatives. When I turned it back on 3 hours later there wer 3 text messages and 1 voicemail asking if I was OK. Yesterday he was working; he sent 1 text in the afternoon and since I knew he knew he had beer I didn’t answer it. Took a nap; never checked phone again. About 4 in the afternoon the land line rings; it’s him “Where were you?” very plaintive..told him then said “Well what did you want?” Nothing he spat back I’ll see you tonight!” WTF Planning on visiting my sister next weekend. LOL

  • I also realized that I was WAY more likely to stumble over words than I was to land some zinger that would affect xH or OW in any meaningful way. Better to remain silent and thought a fool, right?

    Actually, I think remaining silent makes you look very, very smart, very independent.
    I wanted xH to really get into OW and see her for who she is, and one day painfully regret his choices as I did. I no longer wanted to be the enemy they were united against–so I remain silent. As long as I remain in the picture, I am to blame for all his/their unhappiness.

    So, sayonara, bitches.

    There is nothing I can say to OW that is meaningful to her, either. She is disordered, just like he is. (Thanks, Arnold, for pointing that out–you see how we help each other here?) She and I don’t have the same morals. I created a life with xH and our children, she and he destroyed it. We don’t see life the same way, we don’t have the same understandings. She is despicable and he chose her–what could I possibly say to either of them that would register?? She doesn’t care, and neither does he, that they committed a vile treason against our family. How do you even begin to reason with people like that? What in the hell is going on in their heads??

    Trying to unravel that just gets you all tangled up in the same skein. Just never mind. Walk away and keep yourself out of it.

    Frankly, my biggest regrets are in the things I said to him, not in the silence.

    In life, your biggest regret will be spending any time at all thinking about the creeps, in wasting time worrying and agonizing over THEM when you could have been doing something creative, productive, nurturing (with or for someone who cares.)

    Hang in there. I can’t say that I don’t care at all, but life does get easier. I am glad he’s gone.

    • I find that so many times it’s that they want a fight (don’t you all think most of these cheating scum are drama queens?). It is that way with mine. He can come home and suddenly it’s a fight about something ( and usually nothing) Last night as I prepared to take the dog out for a quick pee before bed ( and I had already fallen asleep on couch) he sat there and begged me to put harness on him ( a big pain in the butt to do) and kind of unnessary. I just walked out. When I came back in he started screaming that I couldn’t even do that for him and it was the last straw (oh please) I looked at him said “have a fight with yourself” and went to bed!

      • You’re absolutely right, Janet, if they can’t get any ego kibbles in any other way at that moment, they love a fight! Because the fight allows them the rush of self-righteous anger, and because it allows them to drag you in and make you show you care about their opinion of you.

        Really, they are very large toddlers. Self-centered, entitled, prone to tantrums, unable to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, and very limited in their capacity to understand how the world really works and what would actually be in their own best interests.

        At least most toddlers grow out of this stuff. These narcs never will. But showing them ‘meh’ and not engaging not only reduces their power over us, as a bonus it drives them NUTS!!

        • It’s funny you mention fantasy. Therapist and I today were both at wits end trying to figure out his relationship with OW. They never see each other and haven’t had any physical contact since 1/13. She only live 200 miles away a very doable drive; hell they could even meet 1/2 way. 90% of there relationship has been texting and phone calls. WTF it is so fantasy and I don’t see what she gets out of this. I have seen texts where she asks “When are we going to be together?” Who would want to move in with a man she barely knows?

          • a very fucked up woman, that’s who.

            My theory is that this is all because they are each two peas in an intimacy disordered pod where its the fantasy of what they NEED their relationship to be that rules, over what it actually is… Thinner than a soap bubble with as much substance.

            That is as much as they can handle. A REAL relationship that comes along with pussy pimples, bad gas, poopy diapers, maxed out credit cards, flooded basements when the boy’s bathroom toilet over flows yet again… is not conducive to propel his fantasy of the virile sexxxy stud that has no worries… Anyone can be sparkling and charming in brief snippets of time.

            and that is all that they can manage. That is not going to change, so when real life invades their cozy limited existence, well… Do you really think its going to be better with ms. when-r-we-going to be together? Notice that she’s asking HIM. mmmm… no. A woman who has to ask this is already on the way out…

            Fucktards also cheat on their sextresses too…


  • Me ex always denied cheating although there is a mountain of evidence. He said he just couldn’t seem to find “a decent wife.” There may be a reason why your THREE wives left you and moved to another state to get away from you jerk!!!

  • I practiced fake it til you make it. Our kids are adult so I started there. No more tearful scenes, questions, drama around the comings and goings of the great man. He is not the messiah and the world no longer revolves around his movements.
    If we meqet I am polite but stay away from personal topics. No, we are not friends. We are ex spouses. He is still their dad but no longer my husband. The people who were married are no more. Name calling and satire just keeps you hooked in.
    I decided that his AP should be invited to things which was hard for me but I wanted my new partner to be able to attend and be included. I amazed my kids by being civil to the woman who ambushed my home like a screaming banshee as I would not give her the satisfaction of having power over me.
    Its a work in progress butvery liberating.

  • This advice is written superbly. Going through a nasty divorce from a cheater I followed this rule. The day I filed for divorce I went no contact. Everything had to go to my attorney. It cost me a fortune but it saved my sanity. My ex f****** with me for 20 long years. I finally had it , I was done. No more lies , no more betrayals, no more abuse. I put all my trust into my attorney and I prayed to God to get me through this difficult trial. Not only was I getting a divorce , I was divorcing an ex military , now police officer. It took it to a new level. But I made it ,I came out the winner. God gave me the victory. Now 3 years later , I am happy and at peace. Thank God for good divorce attorneys.

  • This problem for my husband and I is so ridiculous. We pay his child support like clock work because its taken out of his check. We give her half of every sport she puts his children in and recently we discovered we were still sending her money for a sport that one of his children has not even participated in for months because of a new one that was taken up and she was still taking the money and never said anything. He just switched jobs and he asked her for their social security numbers so that there wont be a lapse in their insurance and she was quick to ask Did you switch job or insurance? Did you move? We had already reported this to the attorney general so really I feel like she is being nosy. It really scares me that we will be dealing with her and her bitterness for the rest of our lives together and really makes me feel like I want out of my marriage just to not have any kind of ties to her. I hate this feeling.

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