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Why Is No Contact So Hard?

gingerA lot of chumps falter when it comes to no contact (NC). It’s the most maddening thing — your brain will be very clear on the “dump the cheater” message, but the heart is emotionally sloppy and dimwitted. Much like my Australian Shepherd who flings herself daily at the mailman in a love/hate frenzy. Every noon she flails against the glass door, barking crucial missives that the mailman tragically ignores. How dare you step on my porch! Open this door and pet me! Can’t you see how PRETTY I am? Watch me do my pretty dance! I have a frisbee! Do you like frisbees? I LOVE frisbees! Wait! Do not walk away from me! (I am, however, pleased that you have stepped off my porch.) COME BACK!!! GO AWAY!!!

And then as the mailman retreats, she pees on the carpet, heartbroken. Unlike the schnauzer who is just full of contempt for mail carriers. And cats. And the dog next door. If someone has a treat for him, however, he’ll shelf his withering disdain for a moment. Schnauzers are mercenaries. The shepherd is a chump. She never learns that mail carriers are just there to deliver mail and really don’t give a flip about her pathos.

“Come back!”, “go away”, and also “explain yourself!” comprise the mental tape loop of limbo — that state where you’re not really in, and not really out, because you’re still engaging with the idiot. Like my shepherd, you can’t decide if this person is your enemy or your love object. Why is it so hard to go no contact? Why the flailing? Why the drama? Chump Lady has some thoughts on this:

1. This shit is addictive. Very few people just walk away and quit someone cold turkey. Even someone they know is very, very bad for them. Humans are wired to bond with each other, and un-bonding is extremely painful. Science says so — romantic love lights up the same centers of the brain as addiction. And loss of romantic love makes us temporarily deranged. They say there is an evolutionary basis to this — loss of a mate has bad consequences for reproduction of the species.

Now, combine your hard wiring to bond, with your hard-wiring to feel great distress at losing a mate, and throw in the addictive nature of unpredictable rewards on your brain. (Lots of science on that too.) What do you get? A real biological disincentive to go no contact. Kicking a cheater to the curb can feel like kicking a drug. You’ll have to sweat it out and suffer withdrawal. You’ll feel distress that is at odds with your rational brain, much like an addict who is trying to quit a bad substance. “Shit. I know cigarettes are bad for me… I just want one last smoke! Arrgh!”

2. Cheaters hoover. Just as you may have to fight off strong urges to stay no contact, the cheater often knows how to play your weakened state for ego kibbles. As mentioned above, the irregular rewards of an inconsistent love can keep you hooked. You will give those kibbles greater importance (she called! he texted to wish me happy birthday!) because they are so infrequent and unpredictable. It’s classic that just as you’re 30 days clean on the no contact, the cheater will come fishing. They’ll flatter, or cajole, act like nothing ever happened. Or they’ll do the fake remorse-ishness.Beware. You’re of use to them. They want something. (Kibbles probably, or for you to screw yourself over in the divorce). Cheaters suffer withdrawal too — withdrawal of kibbles. NOT YOU. Pay attention to the distinction. You were a good source, then you went away! Maybe they can mine that vein again…

Chumps confuse kibbles sourcing for love all the time. You don’t have to scratch very deep to realize that it’s still all about them.

3. There’s something in you that needs to keep hope alive. This goes beyond not trusting that they suck. You may have abandonment issues. Something about this drama may feel familiar to some old family or relationship drama from your past that you feel is unresolved. Okay! I’ll just try harder THIS time with THIS person and I’ll get a different outcome! (i.e., they won’t leave me.) You’re consciously, or unconsciously reliving that hurt. Fuckedup and unrequited feels normal for you at some level. You’re used to trying really, really hard for very little reward.

I’ll save you the shrinkage costs on your FOO issues. You’re not that kid anymore. You don’t have to put up with shit. You have choices. You are not powerless. You can be choosey about the people you have in your life. Learn to draw boundaries. Learn to holler NO! Learn to prioritize people who treat you right, give them your time and energy — yeah, even if it feels weird and unnatural at first. Step away from the jerk with sparkles.

4. Flubbing NC is a re-enforcing cycle. The more you stay in contact, the harder it is to go no contact. On the flip side — the longer you go no contact, the easier it gets, bit by bit, day by day. Have faith that it’s going to get easier. I promise you, you are going to get to MEH (on a Tuesday, of course). You just need to stay consistent.

So that’s four reasons why it’s so hard. Now then, why is NC so important?

Because the only way you can heal from the mindfuck is to get away from the mindfuck. The single most important thing you can do to heal from infidelity is free yourself from mental slavery. (Thank you, Bob Marley.)  It’s very hard to clear your head when your abuser is right in front of you pretending to be normal for entire minutes at a time. Or worse, arguing with you about how this is All Your Fault. The cognitive dissonance between the person you love, the mindfuck, and your common sense can make your head explode. No contact mutes the mindfuck radio and lets you think for yourself again. You will start to feel like yourself again (remember that person?)

Manipulative people cannot manipulate you if you shut them down. They need something to work with, so if you deny them access to the inside of your head, it makes it much harder for them to manipulate you. No contact is your best defense against mindfuckers and it makes you stronger. Chumps, you need every ounce of fight you’ve got. Don’t give cheaters your head and your heart.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss exactly how to go no contact. Some nuts and bolts. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • It may become *mandated* to maintain more contact than you want in Illinois. Our illustrious State Legislature has passed a bill (now waiting for Governor Quinn’s signature) to mandate a “right of first refusal” to the other parent every time one parent wants to hire a sitter to go out for a prolonged period of time.

    Don’t believe me? Read on:

    So, for Chumps who are parallel parenting (“my time, my rules”) in Illinois, your baby Daddy/Mommy can sue to have your custody agreement for minor children rewritten to force you to let them know *every* time you want to get a sitter so they can have the option of “refusing” you first.

    As an attorney, and a recovering Chump, I am not encouraged by the factors the court has to consider to make this fair. I can see a pattern for some where you call the ex who initially agrees and then backs out at the last moment just often enough to screw with you, but not often enough to make the judge revoke the mandated offer: after all, the natural parent is always the best, first, choice ~ right?

    • That’s ridiculous!

      FWIW, I had one of those first rights of refusal clauses in my first custody agreement (this was over a decade ago) — never worked. For exactly the reasons you stated — he couldn’t commit, or would agree and then back out at the last minute. Then you’re putting language in there with penalties if he doesn’t give proper notice or WTFever and then what? You’re in the courts again enforcing this? We know the courts do not care about your babysitting minutia!

      I would think that the sane divorced couples who can share like this don’t NEED legislation, and everyone else just tries to live by the order they get.

      What a self defeating thing for the legal system! It’s just going to clog the court with more bullshit. It’s one of those feel good laws — keeping families together! two parents! that has no basis in reality. I’m sorry Illinois!

      • Oh, another reason why it never worked? It assumes HONESTY. Mine never told me when he was going out of town. To this day he drops my kid off on all and sundry.

        So what are you going to do if they breach the contract? Take them to court? Oh yeah, that’s going to work…

    • Jennifer – Yeah, that would suck to have the mandated when your ex is NPD or otherwise extremely difficult.

      I can see why they made the law – probably because some parents just drop the kid off with a sitter every weekend. the other parent isn’t cool with that. So they made the law. I have known more than one divorcee’ whose ex routinely takes the kids to a relatives house or uses a sitter on their custody days. Hardly spends time with the kids at all. So I can see why the other parent would be frustrated by this. Especially if the family and/or sitter de jour isn’t the best.

      So I get the notion behind the law. However…….NPD parents will certainly abuse this law, as you said, to mess with the other parent’s schedule (and sanity). That would suck.

  • Some of these definitely apply to me… Esp the Hoovering: Like the Dumbass wanting to chat with me in Whole Foods, as if we were “pals.” We are NOT pals anymore! Also, fake remorse-ishness, FOR SURE.

    I have also come to realize that when I made those vows 6 years ago, I ACTUALLY MEANT THEM. I promised to love and cherish this person for the rest of my life. And I did. It’s a hard habit to break. I don’t suddenly stop caring about him & his life just because he chose the morally-bankrupt mistress/20-something yoga instructor cliche (Yes, REALLY.) over me and the family we were building. I wish I could, but it’s not that easy.

    Which segues into my other thought… His heart appears to be about as deep as the shallow end of the kiddie pool. Mine is apparently a bit deeper, and I can’t turn off the feelings I’ve had for him all these years like a light switch. (As he seems able to do. Aside from the fake remorse-ishness, anyway.) I guess life is easier when you have a shallow heart. But I know I’d still rather have mine.

    Thanks, as always. Am really looking forward to those nuts & bolts.

    • nolagirl – You can’t be talking about the marriage-busting whore of a yoga teacher, because she destroyed MY marriage! It’s amazing – my stbx was always so concerned about not following the crowd, not being too normal or just following the rules. In his desperate attempt to be non-conventional, he played out the most stereotypical, mid-life crisis bullshit. I don’t want to be friends with him either and it’s really too bad, because we got along great. But I have a hard time being friends with a cheater – particularly the one who cheated on me! Who needs friends like that? It can be tough to read co-parenting advice that demands that exes get along for the sake of the children, but at what point do I get to point at bad behavior and say, “Look, girls, bad behavior! Don’t act like this asshole!”

    • nolagirl Try doing that after 20+ years of loving that person. Feels like the switch has been in the “ON” position so long it’s corroded.

  • You’re a mind reader CL. I’ve been struggling with no contact. Now I know why it’s so damn hard. I hope your nuts & bolts will cover when you share custody of young kids. I wonder if no contact (or little contact) is best. Should I be telling him when the kids have a bad day at school? When they got an award? Have a field trip? Why is it my responsibility to be his secretary and take minutes of his kids’ lives? (Maybe it’s not my responsibility.) Our kids are 6 and 9. They have voices which they could use if he ever called them but he doesn’t.

    • Hi Kay, it sounds to me like you need to cut WAY back on contact. I found it helpful to do all kid/house/$ stuff by e-mail or text, and keep it short and efficient. One of the advantages of the separation was that I was no longer responsible for bolstering the ex’s sucky relationship w/his kids. So no, it’s not your job to keep him informed; he can find out from the kids, JUST LIKE YOU DO!

      I do inform the ex about things that might affect his scheduling or how the kids are when w/him; if one had a bit of a fever the night before or the other is over-tired. Otherwise, it’s on him. He’s a functioning adult, he can figure out this parenting thing. And if he doesn’t bother to, it’s the kids who will figure that out. Sad, but reality is always a better place to live.

      • Thanks Karen. I haven’t actually done any of the secretary work yet. I think about it and then say that’s what a chump would do. But I know people would say put your kids first and be amicable. Well, why does amicable equate to me doing everything including being his intermediary with the kids? Just like when we were married.

        It’s good to hear that others are just leaving it up to them to figure out how to be a parent.

        • The ex tried to use the ‘let’s be civilized about this’ argument to get me to keep giving him kibbles; he wanted to be FRIENDS. Ain’t happening! At one point I carefully explained this in an e-mail, when he was whining that I didn’t want to talk to him (chatting w/him was what I was avoiding) and hadn’t we agreed to keep things civilized. My explanation was that a ‘civilized’ separation did not mean being friends, it meant a) treating each other politely and with respect, b) being honest with each other about any information the other needed or had the right to have, and c) doing everything with the best interests of the kids in mind. AND NO MORE.

          But in the interests of ‘civilized’ behaviour, I refrained from saying ‘you don’t get to be my friend, my friends are honest people who treat me well.’

        • X demands I send him every doctor/dentist/counselor/school activity appointment in advance, so he can “decide” if he wants to pay his portion of the bills that come with copays and field trips or not. He also leaves messages on our voice mail, and doesn’t believe I am giving the kids the messages (I gave the kids the password and insist they at least listen). I realize now I was only a servant to him.

          No contact has been a really effective way to get some of my dignity back. So has maintaining a poker face in front of the kids when they talk about him. He pumps them for information all the time, so not giving the kids any reaction to any of their stories from “the freak show tent” where he lives with his bimbo and her family has also taken them out of the middle of our divorce exchanges. Still, I am ashamed to admit it still cuts deep when the oldest comes home and tells me all about the brand new furniture, the friends who were at the parties, the fabulous cars, etc. He and his bimbo are living large. All while I’m barely scraping enough to make it all happen for me and our three kids. Bastard didn’t even give his 18-year old a birthday gift last week because, “money is tight” and he was in the middle of planning their (used to be our) annual Memorial Day party. Priorities. I never was one, and sadly, the kids are realizing they aren’t either.

          • Suckerpunched, it kills me that they live high off the hog but the one they left is struggling. I hope karma pays them a visit either soon or in the hereafter.

            • Thank you, Kay H. We head to court in a week. Here’s hoping “The Honorable Judge Karma” is on the bench that day. Positive thoughts, please. 🙂

            • I hear you. My ex moans to the kids about having to support me/us while I try to put some sort of career back together. He has much more money than I do and he squeezes me any chance he gets. The result is that when the kids want something and there isn’t money I tell them ‘there is only so much money each month and we need to prioritise’. That’s it. They’ll figure out why that is.

  • NC is soooooo important, it’s what saved my brain from flipping out entirely, and what saved me from making a fool of myself again!

    It took a while to implement – he wouldn’t move out, although he’d agreed to do so. So I found him an apartment and went with him to be sure he signed the lease. Then figured out a custody split the kids and I would be happy with (80 to 85% of the time w/me), suggested it to him, he accepted it, and I insisted he actually TAKE the kids to HIS place on his custodial time. Such a meany, I am!

    I quickly saw that the less I saw him, the better I felt. For a long time I still reacted a lot when I had to speak to him or see him. It’s been almost exactly a year since D Day, and now when I see him it doesn’t mean much. Getting closer to meh!

    These people and these relationships are totally addictive. You know it’s bad for you, but it’s sooooo hard to resist! So, addict, don’t hang out w/your dealer, alcoholic, stay out of the bars, gambler, stay away from the casino. And chump, NO CONTACT.

    • Oh, forgot to say, the ex did NOT accept NC easily. He was so looking for his kibbles, so trying to lure me back into untangling his skein. Kept trying to ‘chat’ w/me, talk about his work and his relationships and his struggles!! Looked for sex w/me for quite a while. I had to set VERY clear limits, and keep enforcing them. Still tries to tug me back in. Despite the fact he and the OW will be celebrating the first anniversary of their relationship w/another trip to NYC this weekend, every once in a while there’s a ‘I miss you so often’ or a ‘I still feel connected to you’ in his e-mails or texts about kids or money. I ignore those parts entirely.

      Doesn’t seem to be interested in whether I miss him or feel connected to him. But thinking of my perspective was never on his agenda for a minute, ever.

    • Spot on. I do think I was addicted in a way and the less I have to do with him the less I care. Actually, I’m pretty much at meh, with some minor ‘you fucking idiot, you did what?’ moments. I saw him the other night for the first time in ages. Didn’t feel much of anything, which was fantastic. He still tries to hoover me into arguments via email and although I did my best for a long time I had my moments where he would say something so completely outrageous that I would lose it and engage. Now? I caught myself the other day nearly jumping into an argument he was trying to start. I had written half an email with all sorts of snappy comebacks. Then I looked at it, though about it, deleted it and turned off my computer. That’s the way to do it. Let him piss into the wind.

      • Nord, same here. In the past i would engage in a back and forth email battle with the EW. Sometimes it just felt like my silence was legitimizing the garbage she was spewing, blaming me for everything and bragging up the AP.

        I started writing responses, full responses, and then just deleting them. It was cathartic to at least “answer”, but way better to not send them.

        I finally had to block my EW from texting me. I’d get the 1 am drunk texts telling me what a POS I am, how I was (am) a terrible father, etc. They expire every 3 months, and last month it expired and I got 5 texts from her….and she actually said in one text: “I don’t know if you are getting these….but”

        So I assume she is sending dozens of texts, which I happily don’t have to endure!

        I suggest Email ONLY for these whack jobs, and then reply ONLY if you have to for the kids’ sake.

  • The good news is that the mental benefits of NC show up quickly. The first week of NC was one of the most painful of my life, but by the end of the third week I felt more clear-headed and at peace than I had in years.

  • I don’t have a dog, no yard, but I do have cats! Funny thing – I felt so incredibly bad/sad/guilty for the turmoil of them losing thier “Daddy” as we got them together 6 years ago from the shelter. They loved him – couldn’t wait for him to come in the door. They were our kids. They are indoor cats and were incredibly loving to him and didn’t like women too much, even my daughters.
    Well guess what?! The last few times he came over (months ago now to get the last of his stuff) they HID from him! Right under the bed and wouldn’t come out till he was llooonnnggg gone! And when they came out they would have this look on thier faces, with thier mouths partially open and thier noses wrinkled up. And now they just LOVE my daughters. They say animals know, well they did NC all on thier own. Which helped reinforce NC for me!
    It’s nice to have partners in NC – Ya’ll too! 🙂

    • Haha Toni, that’s great, I laughed out loud when you described your cats’ reaction to him now! 🙂

      • it’s not as odd as you might think. The only reason the cats used to go to the ex was he fed them treats constantly. Within 6 months of my ex being gone my 2 cats became much more social and happy. The freaky cat used to hide all the time and run from new people, now he checks people out. Same cat used to sleep in a hidden space at night, now he’s sleeps on my bed.

        • DDW and Kelly,
          One of the cats used to BURROW into my side while I slept, no matter how many times I got up or turned over she was stuck on me. Since he left? She let’s me sleep peacefully. Weird the things I’m remembering! I guess she was protecting me, I Love my girls… 🙂

    • Toni – I totally agree that animals know. Our cat, the one we got from the shelter in 2005, HATES him. The furball acts indignant whenever he has to share the same room as my husband, giving him dirty looks and even occasionally hissing as he storms passed him. He refuses to let my husband pet him or anywhere near him. But he loves me!

  • Got that right. And, here’s the problem. If you have kids it is very hard to do the no contact deal, even if the kids are full grown adults. Sometimes it actually takes distancing yourself from your adult children to stop the little nudges and winks they give whenever they’re trying not to tell you about him or her and the new squeeze who seems to fall over backwards to please them with home cooked meals and trips and presents to pretty girls. Then, the kids come home to you and some tiny kibble and bits always gets dropped in front of your face. It can be just enough to make you feel mad or bad all over again. You can feel your hard won self esteem start to sink. You can get drawn in without even realizing it until later when you want to kick your own head for not saying, no, it’s not okay to tell me. That is why it’s nearly impossible to have a great relationship with a cheating ex when you are co-parenting especially if the ex does little of the trench work and offers up all kinds of goody trails for the kids to follow. And they often do, even if they know it’s not real love, because they want to please the one who left more then the one who stayed and stepped up and made the sacrifices to make sure their children were stable and protected.

    • Amen to that, Betty. That’s exactly where I’m at– I don’t care about him one bit. If I ran into him in the grocery store, it wouldn’t affect my day in the least. It’s the kids– especially now that the OW is about to become Owife and move in. She gets to be a part of their lives, and I’ll get to hear how great they are, how they bought them stuff, blah blah blah. My kids are little and don’t know about the A, so for right now, Daddy is still really awesome, and Mrs. X is going to be such a fun stepmommy! That’s where NC doesn’t do me much good– I can’t tell my kids not to talk about their lives over there because I want them to be able to tell me anything, so I feel like I can’t fully detach and move on (at least at the moment). I’m so angry at him for what he’s doing to our kids– forcing the OW on them, getting engaged to her when our D isn’t even final yet… he’s the opposite of the role model I wanted my husband to be for our children, and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it except continue to hold my head high, be a role model, and hope that the kids follow my example instead of being lured to the dark side by superficial family outings, toys, and candy.

      I don’t think you can establish true NC when kids are involved unless both parties are willing to play by the rules AND the AP is no longer on the scene. If he dumped her and found some other woman, it would be a totally different story. Unless she were treating my kids like garbage, I’d be willing to meet her and be quite nice to her. But the AP? No way. I’m not going to pretend that I’m happy to meet her and that she’s a nice person, not even for my kids.

      However, if anyone has any suggestions, I’m totally open to them. I want to be as NC with him and his whore as I can get, but it just doesn’t seem possible with three young kids.

      • Funny, because I would have no problem if he found someone else as I don’t want him any longer. It’s the fact that this dumb bitch who really went after my ex and worked her ass off to get him out of hte marriage (unlike the other sidepieces I discovered post-d-day, who seemed content with a bit of nookie on the side and nothing else). That’s what I can’t stand. She really wanted my life, including my kids and now she gets time with them and plays like she’s just a nice girl who was carried away by great love.

        I really do hope they break up and he finds someone else. The thought of dealing with this cow for the rest of my life makes me a little nuts.

        • Wow Nord, I have one of those too……She wanted to step in to my entire life, including my X filing for sole custody of the kids because his new wife is better for the kids to be with than me. It’s just so strange……he wanted to keep the old house and move her into the house with her 2 kids so he could pretend like I never existed yet he blames me for everything….No contact is impossible….we are on OFW and he would e-mail back and forth all day long. I share whatever info is necessary about the children that is it…..but I am left wondering what happens to kids when they are forced to live in that scenario for 50% of the time…..There were 4 mistresses that I have knowledge about, the last was the kicker for me when he refused to give her up to work on the marriage…….D 4 days shy of 18 years, he was engaged to OW#4 6 weeks after Dday, and married OW #4/ Wife #2 six months almost to the day…..keep in mind she was concurrently divorcing her ex….they were about 3-5 weeks off of each other on important dates….Now she is the better mommy, and he can dump the kids with whoever (oh yea there are 2 more kids so we have family of 7 now) I had to remove right of first refusal because he abused it, wouldn’t allow grandparents and filed 3 contempt motions against me for violating first refusal…and then….won’t allow me a second of time more with the kids………over my 50%……this is all about my kids….and I have no idea how to get out…… all of that…I can still say my life is better and she can have him…since she wanted him so bad……they have been married less than 6 months and one of my kids says “Mom, yours and Dad’s marriage was so much better than Dad’s and OW#4/W#2 they scream at each other all the time……Did I also mention that he has gained 40-50 lbs since hooking up with OW#4/W#2 and to be honest I walked by him the other day becasue I didn’t recognize him…..such the picture of health….but as they say….Karma……

    • My kids are early teens and I get to hear all sorts of stuff and yes, it’s delightful. I try not to react but every so often they’ll tell me something and I half lose it and then I feel like an ass because they shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying something, even if it’s provided by the final OW in the marriage., who ex is making out to be the love of his life and the best thing that ever happened in the history of humankind. She’s a dumb bitch who, unlike the ohter affairs I found out about, didn’t want just a quick fling but wanted the whole package, including my kids. Apparently she’s a ‘nice person’ who ‘just fell in love’ and ‘didn’t mean to hurt anyone’, yet hates my guts (why?) and refuses to speak to me the few times she’s seen me.

  • By the way. My cat never notices the mail man. But, she does keep going back to the window hoping Mr. Bun will come close enough for her to get a good swipe in. Screens don’t make her stop releasing those pitiful little mews. “Come to me Mr. Bun. I love you. I hate you. I want to play with you. I want to prove my love by eating your head.” It’s all so futile.

  • Wow, I needed to see this one today. And will definitely need to stock up on tomorrow’s nuts & bolts as well. While my status as Chump Wife was short-lived and I was able to get away from the cheating XH after only a couple of years of marriage, I have a life-long status as a Chump Daughter thanks to my philandering, narcissistic father.

    Dad’s cheated and re-married his way through 4 wives now, is currently separated from #4 and has a new girlfriend. Left mom and me when I was 13, paraded all sorts of cheap OWs around town, then complained about having to pay for tuition/anything for me while living out of the country with funds stashed in offshore accounts. Neglected paying my mother alimony for YEARS but took expensive golf trips and vacations all the time. Would use my accomplishments to brag in a way that made HIM look like Father of The Year (couldn’t have been farther from the truth). When I was planning my wedding, he refused to offer any financial support (claiming he was broke) – weeks before the wedding day, I found out he took Wife #4 and her kid to Disney. He raged at me for calling him out on the poor timing of his financial expenditures, and curtly told me “to get someone else to walk you down the aisle.” I still invited him to my wedding, hell – I even let him walk me down the aisle after that. Spackle skills, indeed.

    Since then, he’s squandered away all his money but thinks he’s still entitled to his old country-club lifestyle. I’ve been called upon to assist with his legal matters, medical emergencies; I’ve bailed him out (literally) and now he’s been hitting me up for money – repeatedly.

    Last night, I took him to dinner & gave him some money – and dammit if he didn’t insult me, gaslight me when I acted hurt (“you’re always so sensitive!”), told me I didn’t do enough for him, then stood up from the table and stormed out of the restaurant. The best part? “You know, BB, as smart as you are — it’s hard for me believe you didn’t see how screwed up XH was. (laughs) *I* could immediately tell what kind of family he came from, and I always thought you were supposed to be so smart, but you didn’t sense that?”

    Fuuuuuuuuuck. that. nonsense. Right – because I would knowingly sign up for a marriage with a cheating, lying S.O.B. for a husband. NC has been manageable with XH so far, since we didn’t have any kids and I’m able to block him from facebook, etc. — but I could definitely use a WHOLE LOT LESS contact with dear ol’ dad.

    • Geez BB, what an a@@hole of a dad, makes my blood boil thinking of him hitting you up for money while treating you like that! But we already know, these guys just have no shame….at all…

    • Wow. What a manipulative, button pushing b@st@rd.

      That’s not your father or dad. That’s your sire. As Dr. Laura would say, “just a sperm donor”

    • Oh BB..I’m so sorry. I was the buffer between my Mom, Daddy, and ALL the many women. Never hurt me like you are being hurt though. I am finally going to therapy and my whole life was so crazy that the X is almost an afterthought now, till he pops up again which from all the reading I’ve done I’m pretty sure he will. My heart goes out to you.

      • BB, sounds like you TOTALLY need NC with your dad. Why would you be helping him out? He’s made his bed, let him lie in it! YOUR mental health requires that.

        • Thank you for validating my feelings on this. One of the biggest lessons I am still learning as a result of divorcing my cheating XH, is that this sort of behavior was and is abuse. And I have spackled and normalized and tolerated this behavior for years, because there were always glimmers of niceness and affection. Because I lost my mom (we were VERY close) in a car accident a few years ago, and he’s the only parent I have left. Because he has a heart condition and has flatlined a few times in the hospital & had several massive surgeries. Because “he’s my dad” and surely he wouldn’t say those things to me just to hurt me…

          I’m still having a tough time admitting this to be “abuse” – because “every family’s got dysfunction”, right? “Nobody’s perfect”, right? But this whole process – the D-Days with my XH, separation, divorce, all the steps that led to the decision to step AWAY from the crazy – has been an ongoing realization that it IS cruel and abusive behavior, and it is inexcusable. And I am definitely happier for getting away from my XH. Amazingly, I do consider myself a happy person and I sincerely like the life I have created for myself. Thank goodness I’ve had some wonderful role models growing up, and some steadfast supporters in my corner. But I am finally seeing that the s#$* with my dad will always be my Achilles’ heel, so long as I keep allowing it to come into my life and spackling over it to try to make it better.

          Looking forward to the NC tutorial / the nuts and bolts post to come from CL tomorrow – I’m taking notes!

          • Read the book CL has recommended, the “Why Does He Do That?” one!!! I’m half-way through it and it is SO illuminating! BB, your dad sounds like a classic emotional abuser (and probably NPD as well). This book is super helping me get rid of the last sparkles still attached to the ex, and to the dregs of my tendency to untangle his skein. Helps us to see the manipulative exploitation clearly, and that helps NC a LOT!

            • Absolutely, that book is awesome and should be required reading in high school. If you start highlighting passages you end up with 2/3rds of the book highlighted. I really wish I’d read it 30 years ago.

              BB, I think you should really limit your contact with your Dad.

          • Dear BB,

            I seriously object “I’m still having a tough time admitting this to be “abuse” – because “every family’s got dysfunction”, right? “Nobody’s perfect”, right?”…

            I grew up in a loving family. I know what a good functioning family/ parent is. They are ones, who put the needs/ requirements of children and then each other first. My parents weren’t very rich, in fact a middle class Indian Family, who managed to get their basic needs met. They knew that giving their children the right education (even if it was beyond affordable limits) was their first priority. They planned their budgets where priorities were very clear…1) Everyone’s Health was 1st priority 2) Education of children came next (My mother tutored us at home (after school) after her housework was over and my father taught us at nights after he was back from office) 3) Spending quality time together (We had TV viewing hours with all the family in the drawing room. We would go to our grandparents place in vacations, when we learned more of our culture/values etc. We would also go on domestic tours if we had spare money. And all of us knew that we have shoestring budgets, but no one ever complained. We maximized our adventure in whatever little resources we had)
            Off course, we had our fights among ourselves, even our parents fought sometimes. But, those were inevitable. As teenagers, we also posed some problems to our parents. But, while my mother played her emotions to get us to understand their points, my father was friendly at times (when he felt that going with the flow was good) and strict at other times (when he thought that compromising with his morals, values or beliefs shouldn’t be done). I loved, adored, respected my father so much, I could never hurt him. He is my hero, to this date. We had difference of opinions on a lot of things and we openly debated and it became heated arguments sometimes as well (My mother reprimanded that this was no way for a girl to fight with her father). But, next moment, we would be back giggling together…. I love my mother for being a very strong pillar of support. I have derived my morals and values from her.

            Therefore, BB, pl understand that your father is at best your sperm donor. All families/ parents are not dysfunctional parents. Extending this argument to spouses: All men/ women who are your spouses are not cheaters/ abusers. There would be some regular issues. My father is a macho while my mother is kind of not giving in types. So, there would be some differences. But, those are predictable and both of them get to understand each other with time. It would be very functional adjustments. In fact, not having difference of opinions might signal more dangers/ more morbidity of relationships. But, then equating these differences to abuse is not right, either. So, pl. stop putting things under the rug! You are getting therapy and have moved on from your ex are the best things you’ve done. Be proud of what you have already achieved and pl. don’t let yourself be abused over more 🙂

    • I don’t think you would be wrong to have a lot less contact with your father. He’s toxic and can only bring you more bullshit into your life. Deal with him as little as possible and perhaps consider therapy to figure out why you’re putting up with his shit.

    • BB,

      Chump Son here.

      I think you should take a long, long vacation from dad. I spell it in small case because, honestly, he doesn’t sound like a father, but more like a user. And I think you will have to put him in his place. Of course, he’ll accuse you of ingratitude, etc. but, honestly, just because you are related, you are NOT responsible for his life. If he wants to be abusive, he should be able to live without you. Set clear limits, don’t see him if that’s better, and leave it at that.

      Hang in there. I really felt it when you mentioned his criticism, “You’re always so sensitive!” What he’s really saying is that you don’t give him license to be insensitive. You are not over-sensitive. You are just a lot better person than he is. (I got that criticism myself. Man, these narcs are SOOOOOOO unoriginal when we Chumps/Champs start comparing notes!)

      Hang in there! You are doing well!

      Chump Son

      • BB, you know what I think? You were absolutely DENIED a father. I would do at this point the bare minimum for him. Do you know what I WOULD do? There are elderly WONDERFUL people with no son or daughter nearby who are lonely. Many of them lived decent lives, worked hard for their families, are WW II veterans etc. Befriend an older person in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Spend time with THEM- NOT your ‘biological’ father. You will do yourself a lot of good in this process and you will open up an entire world to a person who is lonely. Best wishes to you and a big (((Hug)))).

        • Absolutely excellent idea, Hope49! I have a group of several senior citizens whom I try to keep engaged socially, because loneliness is soooo detrimental to them. I see how much even a tiny bit of human contact brightens their days. This would be a win/win situation, as there are so many elders living alone, and I remember the great joy that the Meals-On-Wheels volunteers told me that they derived from coming to visit my mother-in-law before she died. Those five or ten minutes of face-to-face human contact a day meant the world to her.

          • Thanks for the idea. My daughter works at a place that may need volunteers, once I get my act together I’m going to see if I can help! thanks…:). I miss my Dad and adore older people, the stories, the knowledge is priceless.

  • I feel that the hardest part of NC is when he emails or texts the most ridiculous, nasty, untrue shit, or something he has done and is now projecting onto me. I think up the perfect zinger, usually one about his “shortcomings” or looks that I know would hit hard (he thinks he looks like a young Tom Berenger, when in reality, he looks like an old, balding version of The Godfather’s Sollozzo). But I do NOT send it to him because it only gives him power. And for mean, self-loving douchebags like my X, he has no regrets or remorse about cheating. He and his bimbo actually get off when they know they got a rise out of me.

    So now, I send my gems to my sister instead. Hitting that “Send” button to someone who will read it and laugh instead of become enraged is pretty cool. And it gives me some satisfaction to know the NC is surely pissing him off more than any zinger could.

    • You’re SO right, NC drives them nuts! I have my secret file full of Word docs; things I’d like to tell the ex and the OW, things that piss me off or make me sad, different emotional reactions. And I rant liberally to my friends (who all have the right reactions, gotta love ’em!) But the ex gets NADA. Because he would LOVE to know he can still upset me, that I still think about him or want to tell him things, that I get tempted to get dragged back into his life drama. But I won’t give him that satisfaction.

      The nice part is that I haven’t added much to my file for a couple of months now – working my way down the road to ‘meh’!

    • I have had that problem and it took me a long time to stop hitting the send button. I’ve always worked with words and communication so I can craft a pretty hardcore response that hits him where it hurts the most. But I*ve stopped. No more of this stuff. He projects the most insane stuff on me and instead of responding I turn to friends and tell them the latest fuckery and we have a good laugh. He’s a loser and he shows it every time he contacts me. And I will no longer deal with losers.

      • Nord, we must be soul sisters. I come from a marketing communications background and the projection is out of this world! Words can be weapons, but I’ve discovered throughout this nightmare that so can silence.

  • CL, well yet again you’ve done it, and so clearly identified and described what we all do while knowing it’s wrong, but cannot quite wrap our minds around why, at least until now. I hid behind the “we have to be cordial and be friends” to explain why I needed to have contact, but was fooling myself and allowing myself to be even further harmed in the process. The description of your Australian Shepherd (“go away, come back….”) is hilarious and so dead-on. That was me and I am sure almost every chump on here at some point. The breath of fresh air and pure relief is astonishing once we go NC. You continue to help me more than any shrink, counselor, friend or book. THANK YOU!

  • NC is soooooooo difficult for me. For years I took care of this man. He was (supposedly) incapacitated, and I was his buffer. He also was an abusive, rage-a-holic, lying cheating bastard. But still… I was the chump that took care of him. Now, he is playing the “I’ll be Ok, don’t you worry about me” while he sobs uncontrollably and implicates his suicidal tendencies. I’ve been getting contacts from his friends that they can’t get ahold of him.. is he OK…. blah blah blah. So, as usual, I bite. I call to check.

    Luckily, he doesn’t answer.

    I think I am going to delete his number from my phone (again) right now.

    Fuck! I hate this.

    • You feel bad that he is, or looks like, a wreck. And you wouldn’t turn your back even on a stranger who was in that much distress!

      But the fact is, the stranger in distress hasn’t done anything against you. Your ex has. Repeatedly and selfishly. He doesn’t deserve your concern or your assistance. If he has no one else to help him out, that’s on him, not you.

      You can’t save every lost kitten on the planet (I know, I’m sorry about that too!), and you certainly have no obligation to try to help the (apparently) wounded giant alligator with the razor-sharp teeth!

  • Every point you discussed is so true. Until I decided, reluctantly, to email only for divorce-related discussions (and even those emails were emotional for me), I found myself ever so slowly becoming my own person again and NOT thinking that I had caused this whole mess and the “what if I had only done or said” BS that went on inside of my head. IMO, the longer that you were with this silly person, the longer it takes to recuperate. I am SO GLAD that his AP was so intent on getting me out of the picture and trying to ensure that I make no contact with my ex about my feelings and only stick with the facts of the divorce. Contact, other than legal issues, makes you feel like you are still connected, a possibility of unicorn reconciliation, and keeps you addicted to a person who never cared for you in the first place. This does NOT happen over night…I am still recovering but I know that I feel WAY different than I did even two years ago. I like myself and know the difference between flattery and sincerity through genuine kindness and selflessness. 🙂 Also, I am ever so thankful to my immediate family who supported me and put up with all of the stages of grieving that I had to go through to love myself again and put the blame where it belonged…not on me 🙂 No Contact is absolutely enlightening!

  • I went no contact for a totally different reason. When I realized how much he and the OW were getting off on the conflict, I shut everything down. (the kids were old enough to handle him on their own) So, where do the drama queens go for their fix now? They turned on each other and I tell you, that was sweeeeeeeeeet. They stay together for now because of the luv child, but it’s not going to last. She’s too pretty and young and Mr. Potato Head is running out of moola.

    • LMAO!! Is that what he looks like?
      Funny how we used to think hubby was so gorgeous when we were in the fog. My wasband and his phoney tart are both ‘drama queens’ and I expect them to rip each other to pieces someday just for sport. That WILL be sweet.

      • Yes, you hardly ever catch him without his hat on though. He had to be told by the clerk of the court to remove it during the settlement hearing.

        It’s pretty sketchy under there. I wonder if it represents a whole problem with circulation to what’s under the scalp too.

    • I love a perfect ending! I suspect that once our divorce finally happens, X and his bimbo’s love story will also implode on its own foundation that has been built on titanic lies.

      I married the young man and got rid of the scheming, lying cheater. She gets the lying, old coot and is about to lose (if she had any in the first place) her self-worth. And he will just move on to his new prey.

      • Yes, they are definitely much better in their prime. I almost think it’s a gift from God to have these saucy little predators pick them off. My life is so peaceful now……

        • Yep, I got him when he was young, super-sparkly, full of ambition and promise and very,very good looking. He’s still a good looking man (she tells him this all the time–and tells the kids how hot she thinks their dad is as well-gag) but he’s losing his hair, he has trouble keeping the weight off, he needs glasses, his career is stalled, he has few to no friends…he’s a middle aged guy who screwed his life up and she’s a very young girl who thinks she got a big prize. She saw sparkles and it will be awhile before she sees that he’s going to slowly suck her soul dry. I’m free and now am looking at men in an entirely different way. I forget what they look like and focus on their brains, their humour,their sense of the world and their values. And I’m slowly finding out that there are some really great guys out there.

          • ” I forget what they look like and focus on their brains, their humour,their sense of the world and their values. And I’m slowly finding out that there are some really great guys out there.”

            Exactly, Nord. What I’ve realized is that there are really great guys out there. Just run like hell if you see sparkles, they’re usually actually coming out of the NPD’s ass……

            • Indeed they are. Weirdly, I saw STBX (just a few days to go!) the other day and he wasn’t really sparkling very much. Either I’m immune or he’s lost his mojo. He looked miserable and scared. 🙂

              • Wow, ya’ll are right, whoever he feeds off of next is getting a much shittier version. And I know he’s going to be looking really bad, that’s why I don’t even want to see him. I’m afraid I’ll feel sorry.

          • Oh, the “hot” thing. Can you believe they fall for that? And they flaunt it in front of the kids no less. I guess he’s forgotten how totally disgusted and enraged he would have been with his dad (or mother) if they were not acting their age!

            My daughter was the first one to go no contact with him. She called a meeting at Starbucks and told him “if you’re going to have a relationship with her, you can’t have one with me” She was 15. He called that blackmail and said that what she really needed was to see her dad in a “healthy relationship” Can you believe how deluded they are? They’re just sure when the kids see how happy they are, they’ll be happy too!

            Of course, I got accused of putting her up to that, but that was before I figured out all the spying he was doing, so he’s knows I didn’t.

        • Except, she’s not so saucy. He essentially picked a replacement me/Mom/girlfriend from college/etc. who is eerily a lot like me. Except I’m not cross-eyed (God that has helped me so much!), and would never allow myself to feel anything for a married man, no matter how pathetic the story he threw at me about “the wife.” She’s a desperate woman coming off of a 28 year marriage (49 years old) and was sucked in, hook, line and sinker. If that’s his “trophy wife,” I’m doubled over laughing! He’s all yours, and thank you for being stupid and immoral!

        • Yes! Life w/o the Narcissist is sooooo peaceful. I get up and do yoga on the patio, and give thanks for freedom every single morning. I feel like a two ton block is off my back! When I told my Mom that (sob) he was f-ing the neighbor, she said ‘well, this is your chance to get away from him!’
          Smart Mom, and I took her advice!

  • We just returned from our daughter’s college graduation weekend, and my STBX was quite surprised when I cordially shook hands goodbye with him, wished him a safe trip back home (1,800 miles away from where I am presently living), and told him that the next time I’d talk to him would probably be at our daughter’s wedding or some similar event. Since he had made such a big deal about giving me a huge bear hug when we first saw each other at the graduation venue, I suppose he expected some sort of touchy-feely goodbye as well. Nope, didn’t happen. That was my first step down the path of NO CONTACT, and I called a lawyer the next day to file the papers.

    I have since gotten several texts from him, which I haven’t answered. The shoe is on the other foot now, pal. I chumpily gave you two years to give up the GF, and she’s still around, so now I’m moving on … It feels GREAT! My last little flicker of hope finally burned out, and boy is he shocked. Ha ha ha. Does this make me a Chump-no-more?

    • NoritsaSue,

      Congratulations! Yes I believe you have graduated to “Chump-no-more” status. It really does feel good see that the narcissist is still in pursuit and we don’t respond. I am sure they are quite puzzled that we are not there for them any more seeing as they are so “special”. I just assume they continue here and there to see if we will fall for their attempts to trap us again into believing that they actually care and are human.

  • I, too, took my vows VERY seriously. That’s what kept me with him for 23 years, through the multiple GFs, the hidden bank accounts, the private cell phones, the secret trips with other women … I had made a heartfelt promise, on the altar, in front of my whole family and community, and by golly, I was NOT going to break my word. For better or worse, through thick and thin, etc., etc., and I stayed true for 23 years and two days before I got my own lawyer and filed divorce papers.

    I had raised my daughter practically single-handedly (he was gone for three months every summer), I had been an involved and supportive faculty wife, and I took care of pretty darn near everything in our house while he built his meteoric career. I have absolutely no regrets over any of my actions for the last two decades; in fact, I’m very proud of myself for having overcome a pretty severe medical ailment and STILL being able to raise a wonderful child. The last straw in my mind was that once again, actually ON our wedding anniversary (coincidence? I think not …), my STBX committed yet another horrible, unforgettable, low-down, scoundrelly deed, and I decided that I was mad as hell and I was not gonna take it anymore!

    My conscience is clear, and I’m finally ready to begin the next chapter of my wonderful life. I have worked very hard to get to the level of inner peace that I now have attained, and I never again have to listen to him sniveling, complaining, and carping about how tough HIS life is. HAH!

    • NoritaSue, breaking the “vows” was an incredible source of pain and agony for me, too. I also sucked it up and dealt with the emotional neglect/abuse because I was raising three kids. When I discovered the cheating, I was devastated and heartbroken, even though the man had pissed me off and disappointed me for years for never caring about me. It took a trip to a priest to hear that I couldn’t break a vow that had already been broken when he cheated. From what I know about Catholicism and the Bible, God takes those Ten Commandments pretty seriously. Even though they still attend Sunday Mass together (we are still married and they live together), they are on their own. Enjoy the sparkle, you two beauts! And dress for warm, humid conditions! 🙂

  • So many sad stories on here. My heart goes out to all of you.

    CL, this NC post is another gem. It’s been my single biggest flaw in the last 3 years since Dday. I must be an Australian Shepherd:) It’s not even been 48 hours since I left my wife.

    I’ve had no contact with her until this morning, when I had to discuss the kids and school. I texted to keep the contact minimal. She phoned back & ripped into me for being so rude for just texting. It went on for minutes.

    I’m missing my kids and I just wanted to pick them up from school and take them home. She hasn’t taken them to school. She layed loads of guilt on me about how upset they were. Like all of this is my fault. No mention of her cheating might be biggest problem.

    She hung up on me & promptly drove to my work office & collected my house key. She told me I was out forever like it was a threat. You can imagine how internally happy that thought made me.

    She’s really pissed at me now and the NC (minimal contact) is working. I would be happy if I never saw her again, but it is so tough with the kids.

    • Don’t forget that you’re not obliged to listen to her rants! Don’t pick up if it’s her, text her back something like ‘can’t talk now, text me if it’s important’. And if you have picked up and she’s ranting, you’re perfectly within your rights to say something like ‘I see we don’t agree on how to handle this. There is no point in discussing this further. Goodbye.’ AND HANG UP!

      She’s lied, cheated, and generally been nasty. You owe her polite and respectful, because you have to co-parent. NO MORE than that.

      If she’s implying or saying that you are responsible for the kids’ upset (if it was you who left), there’s no reason you can’t say ‘I imagine they’re upset, it’s going to be hard on them for a while. I’m sad that it’s come to this.’ Then CHANGE THE SUBJECT or end the call!

      Hope you’ve got a good lawyer – get at least temporary custody issues sorted out ASAP, so you don’t have to depend on her good will for access to your kids.

      • God, I wish I had heard this when I first kicked him out. We argued for so long, no matter what. A simple email about the kids would turn into all day arguing via email. I finally put an end to it but it was TOUGH. He just wanted to engage and engage and engage and I bit more often than not. Then I realised I didn’t owe him a response and it was all going around in circles (i apparently have blown and continue to blow his serial cheating ‘out of proportion’) and there was no point.

        Now he’s more pissed than ever.

        • “Going around in circles” is how my STBX would argue in real-life, face-to-face as well. There’s no reason to think these guys will do anything different via email, or phone.

          My husband *loves* the conflict, actually. The louder and meaner the better. Afterwards, he gets an appetite and wants to go out to eat and then act like nothing happened. All while I’m in emotional tatters and can’t bear the thought of food.

          I’m sure a similar thing is happening via email. He probably savors the conflict.

          Mine will likely try to pull me into email battles as well. I hope I can resist the urge to engage him back with zingers that I’m sure he will not accept as truths.

  • Wow. What a small cosmos this is. Just got this post from the pastor of my church. Notice the references to perseverance, hope, and love. Well, sorry I won’t be there. Signed, The Sobbing Woman Who Usually Sits in Pew 21

    “Join me Sunday evening at 7pm for our monthly contemplative worship service, Selah. Our theme this time is perseverance. Through scripture, song and poetry we will contemplate what it means to maintain hope and love in the midst of struggle. Give your spirit sweet rest in the beauty of this service. I hope to see you there!”

    • I absolutely think the pastor is right, you need to maintain hope and love in the midst of this struggle. Hope for YOUR future, love for the people who love you back, and for yourself. Perseverance in pursuing a worthwhile life, surrounded by people who share your values of love, honesty and mutual respect.

      Might not be QUITE what he had in mind, depending on how much he knows about your situation, but definitely some valuable words there!

  • NS,

    “maintain hope & love in the midst of struggle”????

    It sounds like your pastor needs to to do a lot more diagnosis on what “struggle” is. Especially when your married to a NPD wing nut.

  • I have read a lot on this site, but still don’t know what “meh” stands for, other than a state to work for. Please inform!

    • It’s essentially getting to that point where your former spouse simply doesn’t have any effect on you. S/he can rant, storm, rage, pout, cry, be charming…pull out any weapon in their arsenal and you’re reaction with be ‘meh’. You won’t care anymore.

      • Yep, sums it up. You no longer love them, care about them, and they can no longer affect you. You don’t hate them. You just don’t feel much about them at all. They can profess their love, push your buttons, but all you feel is “Eh…..who cares?” Then you are emotionally free from them.

  • Okay, so I don’t love my STBXH any longer (he killed that love drip-feed-style with his continued cheating). So I honestly am not tempted *at all* to get sucked back into a life with him. Not. At. All.

    Howevever, here’s the rub – we have pre-K kids, and another one on the way. So I’m going to be doing this parallel-parenting thing with him for a full *18 years*. My head gets heavy just thinking about it. I think I can do the minimal-contact thing (only talk about necessary things, either by text or email), but I am worried about him pushing my buttons when it comes to the kids. His criticism of how I am raising them really gets under my skin. Even though he is an unethical, lying, cheating cretan, it makes me mad when he implies that I am not doing a good job with the kids. I know I shouldn’t care about what he thinks, but it still riles me up. I guess I just need to get over that. But it’s hard.

    • With all do care and concern DLU, it sounds like your STBXH will check out on them, too once he finds out he can’t hurt your feelings anymore. You are their mother. Never underestimate the power of that role.

  • The best way to deal w/those criticisms and implied criticisms about parenting issues is to have a stock answer. something like;

    ‘I guess we disagree about that’

    And when necessary;

    ‘We’re now separated (divorced), so each of us will parent in the way they think is best.’

    Followed by A CHANGE OF SUBJECT or ‘It is unproductive to have this discussion. Goodbye’

    If he gets into things too much and won’t go away (in your house or his as dropping off/picking up kids), get in the habit of not going in and not letting him in. Make sure he doesn’t have keys, and leave him on the doorstep. If he protests, you can just say ‘I prefer it this way.’ BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO THAT!

    If he’s e-mailing about essential stuff and adds in criticisms or demands you do things differently, just completely ignore that part. Respond briefly and dryly to the essentials, and ignore the rest. He’ll eventually give up.

    And make SURE you’ve got a good lawyer!

    • Thank you, I will try that. I’m pretty sure I have a good lawyer, I guess we’ll find out. Should I be worried that my STBX could accuse me of legally being a bad mom, or something? I have bene worried about that, but after I looked into it, it seeems like the accuser needs some pretty solid proof, otherwise the charges won’t hold water and/or it could actually work against them and they could lose some parenting time due to the false allegations. Does this sound right? This is my first divorce so I’m a newbie.

      • It kind of depends on how much money your STBX has to spend. If you’re going to fight over sole custody, expect to go through the wringer. Psychological evaluations etc. If the county custody mediator is just going to help hammer out a joint custody arrangement, then they’ve seen it all before and know that narcissists are really only using the kids as pawns. Just don’t get caught putting any words in the kids mouths in case they get interviewed.

        I told my custody mediator (well trained family therapist) that my STBX was trying really hard to recruit my son (age 14). She said: “Sooner or later, they all do the math. This is fairly transparent to the court”

        I quit worrying about ANYTHING that spewed forth from his mouth after that. She had his number cold.

        The other thing my ex did that didn’t help his case was to hire the attorney with the nastiest bulldog reputation in town. Everybody in the court system was then automatically tipped off to what the ex was all about. I mean to say, from the mediator to the judge, they HATED that guy.

        • I know several people (dads and moms) who have done very well in the court systems against Narcs, with a good lawyer. Doesn’t have to be the most expensive or biggest pit-bull, but they need to be smart and experienced. And evaluators and mediators and judges mostly can read Narcs pretty well – they’re so much more obvious than they think they are!

  • You’re so right, CL. When my *cringe* husband was away for a few days last week on business I was so clear on why he is the worst person ever for me. Then he comes back and everything gets so muddled in my head.

    Even when I left him that first time we were never totally NC — maybe that’s why I was still so hooked three months into the separation.

    • Sad have you done anything towards getting free of this man? Seen a lawywer? Gotten your financial info and important papers and taken them off premises? Seeing a therapist. I think of youn often.

      • Hi Janet,

        Thank you for thinking of me.

        I have gotten my important papers together. And I have money put aside for a separation agreement for when I am ready to go. I also have a flight voucher and carriers for my cats.

        I haven’t seen a therapist because there’s really nothing I need to get straight in my head about him. As someone with depression, I’ve spent years seeing therapists and they weren’t really helpful.

        I know exactly what I need to do. Inch by inch, day by day, I’m slowly coming to terms with eventually having to go.

        I will eventually be ready.

        • Keep us posted. Baby steps I take a few every week. In my case the therapist helps. keeps me from getting depressed + I have 2 great sisters and good friends. I have been cleaning the house like mad and all my stuff is organized. When the day comes I can move out in 1 day. Plus my house looks great! When the OW moves in hope she appreciates it! LOL

          • Janet — You’re in my thoughts. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

            How nice of you to clean up for the OW … I’d be inclined to leave a mess and maybe even take a dump in the corner before slamming the door.

  • I get the NC. I don’t grieve the loss of the asshole anymore. I have made new friends, I go to therapy and I am rebuilding. However, i still grieve the loss of my family every day. Somedays, i think I would trade off living with that asshole just to have an intact family for my kids. What is the secret to getting over that.

    • I struggle terribly w/this one, too, pearl. But the ex has inadvertently made it SO clear that even half the good stuff that I thought did exist in our marriage was pure spackle, and that he’s incapable of being a reasonable, fair and caring person, that I’ve realized it would actually be worse for my kids to grow up seeing that and living with it every day.

      Doesn’t mean I don’t DESPISE my ex for not making the few simple efforts that could have given our kids a happy, functioning family. The fact that he fucked it up for himself is his problem. That he fucked it up for me is mine – I’m an adult, I took my chances. But what he’s done to his kids I will never forgive him for. And I grieve often for that.

      When things first started getting hard w/the ex, maybe a year after we met, I realized that he had a lot of problems, but still thought he was a good person at heart. Over the years I realized that this is not actually true. In his heart, he’s a dishonest cowardly egotist. A bad person. And it would be really bad for my mental health to live w/him any longer, and a very bad example for my kids to see. At least now they have a mom who respects herself, and requires others to treat her w/respect. And they’re not obliged to spend a ton of time around that narcissist.

  • I went NC right from day one after the bomb drop, I knew something was up, but did not have verification of the OM until about four months later. Our two kids live with me full time and see her a couple of times a month, so for me going NC wasn’t all that hard.
    My X virtually dropped off the face of the earth as far as communications concerned as soon as she left. Unlike many here my X has never messed with me at all, it’s like the 24 years we were together never even happened, and I no longer exist, it’s the strangest thing I’ve ever experinced.

    It’s been two years now and I’ve had exactly three emails that were not about visitation, one with a link to a research page about Alzhiemers ( My Mom is in the end stages of it), one about Type 1 diabetes ( our daughter has it) and the last about changing the ownership over for our second car. In a lot of ways I’m grateful for the lack of drama, but for a while I felt like I was just garbage to her and not worth the contact you’d give a complete stranger.

    • OMG, Mike, that must have been absolutely traumatic! Do you think she might be a sociopath? NC helps a lot, but being ignored like that by someone with whom you’ve spent so many years, had so many shared experiences, that sounds awful!

      • I don’t know what you’d call it karen, I don’t know how one could hide some sort of personality disorder for 24 years. We seldom fought about anything and any decision we made was pretty much by concensus, and from what I’ve read compared to most our sex life would have been at the top of the scale for a couple together as long as we were. Over the space of about six months she turned into somebody niether the kids or I recognized anymore. The only way I could handle was to go NC, it’s to the point now I wake up some mornings and wonder if my marriage and the aftermath actually happened at all, like some sort of bad dream. For all intents and purposes it’s like I became a widower.

        • X continues to try to exert control over everything our lives (me and the kids). It feels as though my husband of 18 years was brutally murdered, and his killer walks around in his body, continuing to torture us for sport.

        • Same here in many ways Mike with my ex husband. We were married for 25 years, he always professed to adore me. Then I found out he had been cheating for at least 17 years with 2 co workers who I thought were our family friends. He pretty much just left and never looked back. He has not seen our 3 beautiful children since D-day 14 months so. He does not even ask how they are. Since I made much more money than him, he owes no child support for our youngest who is 13. Like you, I sometimes still feel it was all a dream somehow.

          • Hi Kelly, I looked back really hard after my husband googles fell off and could find no sign of infidelity prior to the OM she hooked up when she left. When they leave the kids you really realize how f’d up they really are.

            • Hi Mike & Kelly,
              My ex also abandoned me and my son after a failed attempt at R (R was driven by me at the behest of the society and some of my chumpiness….those were some of my worst days).
              I fail to understand what actually happened. He was manipulative and I had sensed and even told him that he was manipulative on many occasions, when he was caught. He was caught first time cheating, then he went into remorse (lost a few kilos and looked old….how could he have done that!) to buy me into R, first time. I forgave him and we lived happily for next 3 years…until…I caught him again. This time he changed, almost overnight. He was never the same person again. Threatening, disdainful…as if…the person I knew was somehow replaced by somebody, who had similar body but different core and soul. How did this happen? How can such a thing happen? How can he be so heartless? Who was I living with? How was any personality disorder never evident to me earlier? Why did I excuse his manipulativeness to be a part of his being an efficient salesperson? Was I dreaming? All the time (12 years of my life) was a dream?
              I think of these things, especially when I am lonely. When I am busy, the world seems more real.

              • I have gone through the same thing, Anudi. For a long time I just could not believe the man who overnight it seemed turned into the stranger with the cold dead eyes used to be my husband. And then I went through a period where I literally would think, “wait, was that real? Am I divorced? Did he really cheat on me all that time and lie? Can this be??” And I’d have to reason with myself for a few seconds, and say “yes Kelly, that did happen, he cheated and lied for decades and you never knew.” Just mind blowing.

              • “Those dead eyes” yep, saw those as well, scary stuff, like looking at a serial killer, but I never really ran into any sort of negative/ weird behavoir others mention until she began playing WOW. She was always big on fantasy literature, like Lord of the Rings type stuff, I guess WOW just was way better than Real Life ;~)

  • My ex snarkily asked me once, “If I was so abusive, why did you try so hard to get me back huh?”

    All these reasons and more. If he had any working concept of abusive relationships, or just committed ones, he would have understood that it’s hard to not only go NC from someone you loved, but it’s hard to swallow the pill that said person you loved didn’t love you. It’s not so simple as to just turn off your feelings like a light switch. Or accept that someone you gave part of your life to is a two-timing scumbag.

    But of course he wouldn’t get that. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong anyway.

  • okay folks, I am in need of a swift kick up the backside at the moment. I recently found out ( actually Saturday) that the man I had been seeing for a year actually got married while we were dating. Long story, but basically, it turns out that he had been with a woman down in DC for years and told me they had broken up when we started seeing each other. He told me that he got a job down in DC and really needed to take it because it was an amazing job opportunity for him. Of course, I told him to take it and was the supportive girlfriend and stood behind his decision and wanted him to be successful in his career, blah, blah, blah. He moved down to DC about a year ago and we’ve been “trying” to figure out the long distance thing for all of this time. I went down there a few times and he came here to visit and I thought we were giving it a go. It turns out that he never had broken up with his “pyscho” ex and they got married while he was still living in TO and dating me full time! I recently received an anonymous email with a link to wedding pictures from 2011! Needless to say, I think I am still in shock over all of this and I completely LOGICALLY recognize that I’ve had a really close call and thankfully it wasn’t me he married. I feel sick for the woman he did marry and am still working up the courage to send her an email.
    Now for the kick up the backside I need! I left him a very horrible voicemail on Saturday after I found out about all of this and told him what a sick twisted human being I thought he was and of course, I think he now gone underground. I have this need to contact him and guess screaming at someone’s voicemail really isn’t satisfying me. I want him to make some lame excuse for why he did this or at least tell me he is sorry but he’s gone no contact on me! It’s driving me crazy! How does he get away with this crap and get off scot free? So, please tell me this is for the best and the fact that I will likely never hear from him again is the best thing in the world for me!!!!
    feeling like I’m losing my mind….

  • Thank you so much for this post. I needed this today. I am on day four of No Contact from my husband of 22 years (this October) who not only suddenly walked out but filed for divorce without real grounds and backdated the filing two years.

    We have four children. I’ve known him since we were four — best friends since 16.

    The way things went down was a total mindfuck and at first we were talking because he had fantasies of friendship, etc., and then I had to just stop it. He is manipulative and controlling (I never realized) and my daughters have told me he is and always has been emotionally abusive. Where have I been?

    Anyway, today was difficult and I did a google search for “no contact tough day” and saw your site come up.

    This blog post was a godsend. “Seek and ye shall find!”

    Many thanks for the scientific reasons for why it sucks and then why it is TRULY important.

    This is a keeper for my wallet!
    “Manipulative people cannot manipulate you if you shut them down. They need something to work with, so if you deny them access to the inside of your head, it makes it much harder for them to manipulate you. No contact is your best defense against mindfuckers and it makes you stronger. Chumps, you need every ounce of fight you’ve got. Don’t give cheaters your head and your heart.”

  • Mike and Kelly,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    I hope I will remember them as I let go early as in the words of Gertrude Stein, “there is no there, there.”

    I can see there is no point in holding on or even considering what went wrong. My eldest daughter said her dad’s next excuse for leaving will be because water is wet.

    “I can other answer make but thanks; and thanks and ever thanks” Antonio – Twelfth Night

  • Correction: “I can no other answer make but thanks, And thanks; and ever thanks;”

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences and allowing others to know they are not alone in their suffering and to benefit from the wisdom you’ve gained and the lessons you’ve learned — both good and bad.

    • Hang in Eirene, it gets better, worse, better, worse, but eventually you do crawl out of the hole and it is finally really better. And thank you for your comments, because you remind me of why NC is so important, and I need that periodically. I snorted out loud reading about your daughter’s observation that her dad’s next excuse for leaving will be because water is wet. Our kids are so smart and way ahead of us sometimes. It is mindblowing to have the person you thought you could most trust and who would be with you forever just turn into a cold hearted monster before your eyes, and then realize it was there all along.

      It DOES get better though, hang on and read this site and the comments and articles. It will give you strength and clarity, and a good laugh too (we all need that and you will sure get it here). Once you stay in No Contact, you will have even more strength and clarity.

      You are among friends. ((((HUGS))))

  • Thank you, Kelly.

    I made it through yesterday with my commitment to no contact intact.

    However, I spoke with an attorney today who said I must stay in contact with my children’s father because it will reflect poorly on me when we go to court and he says I won’t discuss anything with him — specifically regarding the children.

    So, I broke contact by responding to a text from Monday regarding school clothes.

    For now, I will keep reading this site and looking for good advice wherever I can find some.

    Be well.

  • Thank you for writing and sharing this information. I found my self nodding yes, Yes, YES! You made me giggle too.

    I love how you describe “mindfuck” and the importance of No Contact. I’m on day 56 of “No, and I’m Not Gonna See Your Face Contact”. As you mentioned, everyday becomes easier with NC and you become stronger with setting boundaries. I tell ya ,, the first four weeks was pure hell. I almost slipped a few times.

    We share responsiblity of our pet, so we correspond weekly through text and emails. I know it’s not complete NC, but it’s better than nothing.

    Occasionally, we speak on the phone, but, I keep it short, simple and business like. He, on the other hand, want to talk in a sing song voice and gossip and omg,, he just laaauughs and crack stupid jokes. Like nothing happened and were best wine and panini di pollo buds, ever!!


    I’m so FN happy to finally see the light and to be far far away from this nut case…. For Sure!

  • I keep in some form of contact with him even though he’s moved 3000 miles away with his skank OW because I manipulate money out of him. Ha! He knows the second he quits giving me money is the second I never talk to him again and for some reason that’s real important to him to get those kibbles so he gives me access to an online bank account of his.Skank OW has NO idea about this secret bank account. Another haha. They make loads of money together and of course I don’t feel one bit bad taking his money. My car is 13 years old and sometimes I have to hire the stuff done that he used to do. Anyway I’m pretty sure the Karma Bus made it their new house. That’s what Skank OW deserves. I mean who in the hell would go after a married man and fuck somebody’s else’s husband??

  • I actually love you 🙂 telling it like it is and saving me tonnes of money on shrink costs… yep I am reliving the horrible relationship with my mum, hence picking men who mirror that dynamic, I will get better. thanks for making me smile and cutting through the shite x

  • Old article but still applies today and everyday to everyone in the Chump boat. When I quit smoking the first 3 months were not that bad.. 4-12 months were really hard and every day and many moments of the day I had to reinforce my good behavior NOT to smoke and why I am choosing not to. It is a choice… so hard .. the craving sometimes came on strong and unrelenting, some days just here and there and sometimes days would go by.. Going NC for me now is 1000% harder and easier then this all at one time. There is actually a sickness in my chest this odd longing BUT I do not miss him or have any desire to have him in my world again at same time.. Cannot wait to get on other side of this. This site has been helping me beyond belief. Thank you.

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