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You Are Not the Boss of Me

If I had to name a single characteristic that defines every wing nut, it would be: “you’re not the boss of me.” That ability to defy, withhold, and resist — even to their own detriment — is the wing nut ethos. Dr. George Simon, calls it the phenomenon of “I will not submit.”

Please stop texting your affair partner? You’re not the boss of me.

File your taxes? You’re not the boss of me.

Pay your child support? You’re not the boss of me.

Of course, they rarely explicitly say “You’re not the boss of me” — their actions say it. They might agree sweetly, even repentantly, to do whatever it was they agreed to do — and then not do it. (Many lame excuses follow.) They may have a court order to do it. They don’t do it. They might get openly agitated with you for  reminding them to do the thing they agreed to do. (Oh, like for instance, honor their wedding vows.) Their eyes may roll into the back of their eye sockets. Oh. God. THIS. Again. And some just explode in full-blown, flamboyant defiance. I remember mine screaming at me in a parking lot, about a week after DDay 1, spittle flying from his mouth: “I will NOT kiss your ass!”

Really? You think I asked you to kiss my ass? (In retrospect, that’s probably something I should’ve done, on the way to file papers with my divorce attorney.) I can’t even remember what I asked for. Probably some show of remorse, some indication of that the promises to “make it up” to me were true. I probably asked for some kind of consensus or reassurance.

Chumpy me.

Point was — I wasn’t the boss of him. Who was I to make any request whatsoever of him? Didn’t I recognize his exceptionalism? And that should’ve been my first clue — this you’re not the boss of me —  extended to EVERY aspect of his life. Housework. Getting to work on time. Honoring his marriage commitments. He didn’t think the rules applied to him. There was no team. There were only HIS interests… and static. I was an annoying buzz, that sometimes rose in volume to a drone, which occasionally pierced his attention space and was really, fucking irritating.

It should’ve occurred to me sooner that all those things he promised to do — be faithful, pleading with me to reconcile with him, because he was going to be So Good — were just short-term lies to get the things he wanted. All truth was situational truth. And who was I to inflict my version of truth on him? He said that? Yeah, so WHAT?

His actions were totally clear, but his words baffled me. A wall of apology sounds. “I’m sorry.” “I will do anything to make this up to you.” “You know how much I love you, and I would never do anything to jeopardize this relationship.”

But then: “I cannot LISTEN to THIS NOW. I have a DEADLINE AT WORK. I will LOSE MY JOB if you SPEAK to me about this!” So, then I’d schedule a time, or a therapy appointment — and that remorse he said he felt, well, he couldn’t just summon it when someone ASKED for it. He had to feel it. And, hey, he didn’t feel that sorry right then. I didn’t ask him the right way. The therapist had it in for him. She didn’t ask the right way either. I told his family, and he was really angry, and well, see what you DID? You went and ruined everything.

You are not the boss of me is how toddlers and teenagers express themselves. Developmental stages known for their narcissism, they are all about rejecting the caregiver. Supposedly, children work through this unpleasantness and define their identities. Eventually, they leave the nest and are all self sufficient and self actualized.

Unlike narcissists, who just remain infantile. Hideously needy, but don’t you dare act like you do anything for them ever. Just keep the kibbles coming and shut up. That’s your JOB. Do it.

There is a place for pig-headedness and rebellion. Throughout history, every revolutionary, every maverick has stood up to authority and said I Will Not Submit. I will not sit at the back of the bus. I will not be denied the right to vote. I will not leave this burning fortress. I’m sure that’s how narcissists see themselves. As noble guerrilla fighters against the tyrannic forces of Reason and Moderation.

Only real revolutionaries, the Nelson Mandelas of the world, they fight for a common purpose. They fight against a shared injustice. They make heroic sacrifices for the good of the whole. Narcissists fight alone. We are all the enemies of their happiness. You’re for the narcissist’s happiness, or you’re against it. And they’re not beyond acts of espionage to get the kibbles they need. Pretend to be your partner? Okay. Make some lame promises? Sure. Just keep the kibbles coming. The narcissist will pretend to be on your team, working for your common cause — just don’t expect them to like it. Or do anything that doesn’t first serve their interests.

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  • Oh my God, yes. This could be the story of my marriage, and certainly my divorce. Ex is still firmly, “You’re not the boss of me!” even though it’s been over a year since divorce. Doesn’t pay child support, refuses to get a job.

    No one is their boss because nothing matters to NPD but themselves. Every action is for their own benefit. They don’t even truly care about their own children. The amazing thing is that NPD bring to life that old expression, “Cut off their nose to spite their face.” They will hurt THEMSELVES just to “prove” that you cannot control them.

    • And well, isn’t that the irony? Because they are all about controlling YOU.

  • Great Post CL!

    “Of course, they rarely explicitly say “You’re not the boss of me” — their actions say it. They might agree sweetly, even repentantly, to do whatever was they agreed to do — and then not do it. (Many lame excuses follow.) They may have a court order to do it. They don’t do it. They might get openly agitated with you for reminding them to do the thing they agreed to do. ”
    So True!

    It kind of reminds me of ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). It is insanely child-like; not doing something because someone ASKED you to and because you dont WANT to.

    I always got, “I will”. Ok… when?? I used to ask him to tell the OW in front of me but that was pulling teeth or he would wait until I left and tell me he did it while I was gone. And when that didnt work and he actually did it when I asked he was PISSED. He always “going to” and “well, its ot that easy”.

    BS its not that easy!

  • Thank you, CL, for this post today – I needed it. I didn’t realize that for so long I was living on promises that went unfulfilled. But the STBX kept promising me anything if it got me off his back – he’d never text the OW again, he’d break off all contact with her, as long as I didn’t keep harping on the affair…

    He lied right to my face. Didn’t flinch or anything. But I guess he had practice – he actually told me, months later, that it was easier to lie to me and “keep the peace” than to tell me the truth. So how much of the entire relationship was a lie? Was there a point where the lying began, or was it always there? Who knows. Now, I just assume that anything he says is a lie unless I can verify that it is true by checking another source.

    About a month back he had to talk to me concerning health insurance, which he has to carry for the kids (but not for me, apparently – he cheats and gets health insurance, nearly everything paid for by his company – I call him out on it, file, and got to find my own insurance to the tune of $450/mo. Nice.) I took care of everything in the marriage like this (after watching him screw things up in the beginning). So what does he say to me? “(The company’s) switching over to a new insurance, and I actually need your help on this.”

    Um, he actually needed my help on most everything not related to cheating. That, he managed on his own.

    I keep telling myself – in a matter of weeks, the divorce should be final. 8 years, 10 months, and 1 day from now, after my youngest has turned 18 – I’ll NEVER have to deal with his crap again.

    • “(The company’s) switching over to a new insurance, and I actually need your help on this.”

      And isn’t that a concession. Why, you should be honored that he needs the help of someone like you, someone usually so far beneath him. This is your chance to make him grateful to you, to win him back. This is your opportunity to do the pick me dance!

      Well? Hurry up! Don’t you want to win back the wonder that is me?

      Are you obliged to help him for some legal reason? If you’re not, don’t.

      • I’m not obliged to help him, but I will make sure my kids get the health insurance they need (through him per marriage settlement agreement), even if the by-product is helping him.

        During the same conversation, he mentioned that he’d like to enroll our son in a more challenging school. It would mean more driving for me, but he was convinced that the school was better, and he knows that hardship means nothing when it comes to my doing right for my kids (which stretched out false R, but anyway…) It may be, but its scores are the same as the closer to home school my son now attends. Did I mention that I’m the one who takes the kids to school, and have been nearly exclusively for the past nine years (with the exception of two years of him taking my daughter in the morning – and boy did i hear it on that one!)? So I told him “Of course! If it’s a better school, then by all means my son should go! But you’ll have to do all the legwork.” Haven’t heard a word about it since.

        • It’s rather horrible when you realize your kids’ greatest needs are second to the cheater’s smallest whim.

          • It is. But the time I have to spend not saying what I’d like to say, playing nice, being accommodating while holding true to the marriage settlement, is finite. If it weren’t I’d go crazy. Everything I want to say, everything crappy he does concerning the kids, I keep a record of; when the kids are 18, the record is theirs.

            He told me I should not have told them about the affairs because it’s not right to involve them in our disagreements. How convenient! I can’t tell them anything because it would damage them? How about he should not have had affairs because it could damage them! I told them in an age appropriate way. I’m done spackling for him.

            • My ex also believes it was wrong to tell the kids. At first I only told them about the current one but then he slipped and said something and they asked me the truth, so gave them a very general ‘your dad dated during our marriage for a number of years’ kind of answer. They get it and that’s that.

    • That’s awesome.

      Andy also expected me to continue doing all the things I did for him during our marriage.

      Completely _flipped_ out on me one day when I did not take the initiative to inform him there would be no school on a *federal holiday*. Even though it was on the school’s calendar, the district’s calendar, the email notifications he was free to subscribe to at any time, etc etc etc. It was all about how this made him “look bad”.

      I sweetly pointed out that since he did not appreciate all the effort I put into keeping up with our daughter’s schedule during our marriage, I was free to not appreciate all the effort he would have to put into keeping up with our daughter’s schedule after the divorce.

      Just one more way in which he completely took me for granted and expected to be able to continue taking me for granted.

      Its amazing: they still expect cake even after divorce.

      • Blue Eyes: Ah, yes. They really do continue to expect cake after the divorce.

        My divorce was finalized a couple of months ago, and just last week, the XH called and emailed me to see if I would “do him a favor” – (he is also a lawyer; he cheated on me with his dingbat paralegal) — He wanted one of my firm’s legal templates to use, because he accepted a client matter that was *way* outside of his normal area of work and the deadline for him to finish it was in 2 days. So, he accepted a case he knew he couldn’t handle, waited until the last minute, and thought that I would freely hand over my firm’s proprietary information to him as a favor – just get to spackling and make him look like a competent attorney for his client. Guess dingbat OW’s spackle skills are limited by her feeble intellect these days – ohhh well. Poor sausage.

        I have been maintaining No Contact, and will just keep ignoring him. He keeps popping up occasionally, wants to “be friends” and see how I’m doing, leaves messages saying that I’m being mean because he hoped we could stay in touch, etc.

        Blech – no thanks.

        • WEird. I just got some emails yesterday pointing out that I’m a big meanie for not being his friend. You know, because it would be in the kids’ best interest for us to be friendly. Erm, no, it would be in the kids’ best interests for their father to not screw over their mother financially every chance he gets, causing enormous stress and worry. Friends? I think not. I don’t want to be friends with someone who feels no qualms about fucking me over, lying to and about me and generally acting like a prize asshole 99% of the time.

          • Personally, that’s one of the things that’s helped me stay strong.

            Modeling for her that she doesn’t have to subject herself to someone who hurts her just because she has a womb.

      • Ex still has no idea how to use the school’s website. And yes, he gets very upset when there is something on the school schedule that he doesn’t know about, despite me forwarding all emails from the school, which would give him all the info he needs. It’s apparently quite difficult for him to mark his calendar.

  • Last summer right around the time of her PA was the first time in the 20+ years we were together I ever heard or actually noticed the “ME” attitude with my wife. I need to think back and see if I can recall any earlier times. I’m sure they are there. Here I thought it was just a midlife crisis.

    “meh” is getting closer and closer every day. She moves out next month.

    • Good for you Bud! Keep us posted, I’ll be thinking about you.

  • My tale has a slightly different take on this. My H works rotating swing shifts and has for years. very difficult. So for years I managed the bill paying and making his dr/dental appointments. So one day out of the blue he says I am running his life;treating him like a son and not a husband ( I hear the OW there) and do not make anymore appointments for him. Ok. Some time later he says “when did I have my last dental cleaning?” Oh, about a year ago. “Why didn’t you make an appointment for me?!” WTF. It is tha same thing with the bills; swears I am controlling this but takes aboslutely no interest in it. The one time he did after 3 mos he found out it was work and gave the responsiblity back to me.

    • Janet, it’s funny and sad that they are all the same. This site has given me so much peace, knowing that others have been in this exact same place and gotten better.

      • so true it is amazing I know what you mean this site has given me a whole lot of insight and has helped me get to this point and will help me when i take the next step

    • Running his life… Yup, I heard that too. Now that we are getting a divorce he is leaving all the decisions up to me though…. He hated that I did everything and now he is looking to me do everything. It’s quite funny actually. Hypocrite.

      • Mine tried to get me to do everything but I refused. He wants stuff done? Then he needs to do it. He tries to play tough guy with me and blusters and rants but nope, I’m not doing anything for him or that I dont’ have to do for my own or the kids’ best interests. He actually tries to play nice once in awhile, which is a big red flag that he wants something and thinks that I might fall back into my roll of believing he’s a normal person. He is swiftly disabused of that notion.

      • When it’s not in their best interests, they won’t/can’t/don’t/are afraid/are too weak to do it.

        Oh, I know that getting teeth cleaned or paying health insurance to keep coverage is “getting something” in the conventional sense, but not really. There is no personalized pleasure to be gotten for them in those items.

        Isn’t that one of the MOs of sociopathic behavior? Where they use the lure of “Only YOU can help me!” to draw you in? Arrested emotional development, is what I call it. Too scary to be a grown up.

        A friend’s sister is a nurse at a large metro hospital and she apparently has seen her share of hard core drug users. She said that when they would work on these people, they would flinch and look away and sometimes refuse to have any type of IV put in or blood taken. When she asked why, one of them said that if you were GIVING THEM DRUGS (something to make them high or feel better) or if they were doing that same thing to themselves, then that is NO PROBLEM.

        Read: if they aren’t getting something pleasurable out of it—then they are going to whine and fuss and cry and carry on like a 3 year old.

        Sound familiar?

    • Yeppers.

      Andy even wanted me to do all the pro se divorce paperwork for him.

      His version of the marriage settlement agreement? 20% was how I was allowed to date *after* the divorce was final.

      If I could make this shit up I wouldn’t be edging toward breaking even.

    • Ahh…the bill and appointment thing. Ex hated that I kept an eye on money (he was a bit free with his spending) so I finally handed over the financial stuff to him, saying ‘maybe it’s best if you take care of it as it’s causing arguments between us and I’d rather not argue over money. Just make sure we’re ok’. So he did. And then moaned that I did nothing. The appointments with drs and dentists? I booked them, he always missed them, then he would get a raging cavity and have to make emergency appointments and have extensive work done that cost far more than if he just went for maintenance every so often. All my fault, though, it would appear.

  • Yes, and it’s not just related to the philandering.

    Last weekend STBX and I were moving youngest son down to the coast to start his first “real” job (that’s the good news). My brother in law & his wife live there, and my mother in law has a condo which we were staying in while setting up the son’s apartment.

    Now the condo has a long checkered history – the builder/developer was a crook, lots of the original owners have given up and moved out – but the in laws were among the original buyers and have stuck it out. There is one crazy bitch who lives above my MIL, and has taken it upon herself to be the rule enforcer. Seriously – she stands at her window or on her balcony with binoculars, watching the 10 remaining residents for any violations (She and her husband now own 6 units which they rent out illegally, but I digress).

    Anyway, they have a rule that there can be no more than 2 dogs in a unit, and they must all be on a leash any time they are outside. Most units must be accessed by going through the lobby/elevator, but our unit is on the ground floor, and the parking spot is literally by the front door. She has “notified” the MIL before when we let the dogs run all 10 steps from the car to the front door.

    STBX knows this woman is a nutcase, and has threatened MIL with fines if we ever violate the “rules” again. So he takes the dogs out without leashes and lets them run around the perimeter of the fenced property both mornings he’s there. And MIL gets a letter informing her of the violation and assessed $100 fine.

    The rule is stupid – the place is basically an abandoned ghost town with only 10 residents left while they virtually rebuild the place. There are very few dogs there, and it is on about 20 acres, all fenced and running along the very deep water with a sea wall on one side. But he knew the rule, and knew his mother was concerned about it, and she SPECIFICALLY ASKED that he keep the dogs on leashes while there. For my part, the remainder of the week I walked them on leashes at 5:30 am every morning. Never saw a soul. But it’s typical of STBX to announce that the rule doesn’t apply to him because it’s “stupid”, and berate his mother for being timid and submitting to the psycho bitch’s harassment.

    He is also self-employed because other people are stupid and he doesn’t like working for others, with their rules and regulations. Seems to be a fairly common theme among cheaters.

    • My fiance’s uncle has never held down a job because people are out to get him. He “works” for his father. He also dumped a woman after he got her pregnant and refused to have anything to do with raising his daughter. Any family gathering, from birthday parties to graduations to anniversaries must be made about him. When he bothers to show.

      If he turns out to be a cheater I for one won’t be surprised.

    • Ex always thinks everyone is dumber than him at work and that he’s the most special bunny with the best ideas. He is actually quite talented in his field but not as talented as he thinks. And he has a real problem with anyone telling him what to do so he hangs with staff below him, not with those on his level. And then wonders why people don’t take him seriously. And that’s the pool from which he usually grabbed his affair partners, it turns out. Insecure to the core.

  • Heh, I heard a lot of this word for word…and sometimes still do (take today’s email barrage, for example). My favourite is how I ‘ruined everything’ by not only exposing to final OW’s partner, but by telling Ex’s parents. He took this as me trying to manipulate him, not me desperately and stupidly wanting to do anything to save my marriage.

    I even heard ‘that’s YOUR version of teh truth, Nord, your interpretation’. Which is his way of trying to say that what I read was not what I read, and the pictures I saw were not the pictures I saw.

    Well, I know what I read, what I saw and what I know. He can whinge until the cows come home and it won’t change the fact that he cheated numerous times and lied to me repeatedly, either directly or by omission.

    • I should add that I’m the boss of me and that’s all I need. 😉

      • Hey Nord~
        I got that too… the whole “what you saw isn’t what you think you saw, and what you heard isn’t necessarily what I said.’

        I used to play this… REALLY LOUDLY. Pissed him right off.

      • Me too, Nord. Every day away from my marriage is a day closer to fine.

  • Oh my yes – I really heard, “No one is gonna tell me what to do!!” He screamed – “either I’m with her or by myself and either way, no one tells me what to do”.

    And nobody does, – as the shower of $$$ rains down on everyone that does it HIS way – he has no boss, he is the boss and everyone who’s with him in his circle – including clone son who works for him – is paid to be with him. And so it goes – parking tickets, attorney fees, medical bills remain unpaid or late or disregarded as he charges, spends, buys all the affection he can. It is not that he doesn’t see – he really doesn’t agree that it should be any other way.

  • I said to my husband: your capacity to lie is terrifying. Husband in reply: yes, it is.

    • I had an extremely similar exchange with my ex-wife immediately after she admitted to continuing an affair even while we were in (false) reconciliation. Perhaps the only moment of honesty in the last 12 years of my marriage to her. Also one of the few times in my life I actually felt my blood run cold.

  • My X’s Mom just called, we keep in touch, talk about the weather, how she’d love to see me again, etc. I truly do love her, and she was on my side but like I’ve told her we have to move on…Anyway, out of the blue she says “Why does he think everything has to be HIS way, and HIS way only?! I didn’t raise him that way (a constant refrain)” I just laughed, she’s 81 and would be dead by the time I tried to explain to her all about N’s and P’s. I thought it was perfect timing as I had just read this post!
    And Nord, I love being the boss of me too….I really didn’t realize how much he pushed me around…he really was a BIG F-ing bully. Just like a kid on the playground! With his stupid angry threatening voice, gestures and tantrums. Just a big baby that would do or say anything NOT to talk to me. Except to start an argument about ANYTHING and then tell me that “you are so easy you would argue with a fence post” No wonder I would just hide in the bedroom! The whore can have him…Life is Good! 🙂

    • Mine wasn’t threatening or angry. He got his way through manipulation and passive aggressiveness. He was very good at convincing me whatever he needed to convince me of. Not anymore.

  • Here’s what my ex wrote in his diary: “I don’t have to follow society’s rules, I can live outside society’s rules” (in regards to being in love with his married coworker). Yep, that’s pretty much “You’re not the boss of me” mentality. LOL

    • In his diary?! I bet there were a lot of awesome kernels of craziness in there.

      • Yes, for years he’d kept a journal to record his awesome work experiences because he was going to be famous some day and people would be clamoring for his knowledge. When he started acting weird I decided to look at it and was shocked to find that he was in love with his married coworker, that he’d already been to a lawyer, had been working out a settlement for divorce, he had planned everything so as to spring it on me and take advantage of my naivety. It was devastating. He was even writing about me as I walked around the house, making nasty comments about me. When I confronted him over what I’d read he told me I didn’t understand, and tried to convince me I didn’t comprehend what I read correctly.

        • He was going to join the Motivational Speaker group! He has to share his ‘Passion’ and ‘Integrity’ with the lost people of the world!
          My X used to make cracks behind my back to his (male) friends that he thought my face wasn’t cute anymore. I’m 58! I honestly think he was comparing me to me in my 20’s. Huh? He looks his age for real, not that great either, but I’m not that shallow that I cared! What a wierdo. People tell me all the time I look great for my age, but not to him, I guess. But seriously, who disparages their own wife to our friends?
          Now he’s tripping all over himself to try and get me back. What a nut.

          • “Cute” is an adjective I’d use only to describe the young, or clothing. We 50-somethings can buy cute clothes, after all. Kids are cute, of course, but I’ve not been one for over 35 years.

        • Wow, Lyn! So he was trying to convince you that you hadn’t read what you’d read? Astounding! Now, that’s textbook gaslighting right there!

          • My ex still does this, just yesterday. Says stuff like ‘that’s your interpretation’ or ‘you make things up and it’s all your opinon’. This, after I read countless messages and emails, etc. from his various sidepieces over the years. apparently I didn’t see what I saw. sure I didn’t.

          • Yes, and I fell for his explanations for years. I wanted to believe him. I remember being astounded as he sat there reframing what I’d read and telling me I didn’t understand it correctly. He denied he was having an affair even after I’d read it in black and white. He seemed so sincere as he was saying it…that’s when I realized what a convincing liar he was.

        • What a freaking wingnut. I’m sure he would have tons of people waiting in line to hear all about his work experiences. His diary sounds similar to the Powerpoint that I found on my husband’s computer. It contained information dating back like 18 years from when we were dating. All about ways that I had wronged him and why I was the one to blame for his affair. Seriously, can they read this stuff and think that they are sane?

          • Mine has a book for sale on Amazon about how inspirational and motivational his entire life is. He paid some con artist publisher $5000 to print the book, and I know he hasn’t made even half of that in sales. Despite that, he claims it’s a big bestseller, and used to tell our son he was going to be doing book signings all over the country and would take son with him. He’s always saying that people recognize him from his picture on the cover and come up to him in the street to tell him how his book changed their entire life. Seriously.

            Of course, in the book he also recommends that when you are in public, you should secretly pay a few people to pretend to recognize you and come up making a huge scene asking for your autograph. This is so you know what it is like to be famous. He writes about doing this himself (I was with him once when he did it) and says he plans to continue this little trick.

            In reality, ex is bankrupt, lost his house, moved in to his sister’s spare bedroom, is now living with his dad, is unemployed and is seen as insane by everyone who knows him well. Not very inspirational, if you ask me, but hey, ex was always quick to tell me that if I “didn’t support him, he would have to find someone else who would.” Good luck with that, buddy.

            • I’m sorry, but I’m dying with laughter over here. What a freaking LOSER. I hope you can see the humor in this and it’s not too painful for you. You are so so much better off without that lunatic in your life.

            • Oh, GladIt’sOver…our exes are two of a kind!

              Mine broke all his marriage vows, then changed religions and became a deacon in OW’s church. Yep – he’s prosthelytizing his whore’s religion and preaching to OTHERS how to be good Christians. Hypocrite much? They’d tar and feather him if they knew the truth.

              He really should have gone into acting…

          • That is so funny, a freaking PowerPoint? What amazed me is my ex had listed all the things he loved about his married coworker — in alphabetical order. Seriously, starting with A and ending with Z. His cold, calculated musings were certainly eye opening to me. He had written out his goals for getting her away from her husband, etc. He wrote “I will use superlatives like “wonderful” when talking about my life with her.”

            • I hope you made your own list after you found that.

              A is for asshole.

              B is for bloody idiot.

              C is for court, where we will be seeing each other

              D is for disturbed…

              I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea.

              • Kay I love Love LOVE your list.

                You should think about doing a full alphabet like that as a faux children’s ABC book.

                I love it!

  • This post sums up my entire marriage. From the very beginning it was…
    “if I do this for YOU what will you do for me?”.
    Even now, after negociating our divorce settlement for 1 year, he still feels as though he is the victim.
    We have been divorced a year and he won’t take responsibility for what he agreed to in the document.
    What else is new

    • They all feel like they are the victims. That must be on page 25 of the cheater shitbag manual. ‘None of this is your fault. You are the victim! Do not feel any guilt over what you have done. Everyone else is to blame but you.’

      • The other day I was feeling pretty sad, getting mail from the house, and as I left I reminded him that it’s better for ME to stay away from him, because I’m the injured party here! I swear he jumped, like that idea was a slap to him, so impossible. He seriously thinks he’s the ‘victim’. Or, maybe he truly has zero empathy for me.

        • My ex thinks he’s the victim here as well. And then accuses me of ‘playing’ the victim. I used to get pissed. Now I just laugh at him.

        • I don’t think they are capable of empathy. Zip, zero, nada. They are only capable of looking out for #1 – themselves. To feel empathy, you have to have a soul and some type of kindness inside of you, those are things these assholes are sorely lacking.

          • No, my ex has no empathy. He actually told one of the kids recently ‘I don’t get why you don’t like OW. She has done nothing wrong. The divorce happened because of me and your mother’. So he still wants me to share blame for his serial cheating, wants to absolve OW completely (and conveniently forget that she knew full well that he was a married father of two), ignore the fact that I discovered he’d been cheating for years and that he pretty much made it clear that because he’d fucked up so badly with me he has to make it work with final OW…whom he was not faithful to during their affair, meaning he was cheating on me with her and with others at the same time.

            Sometimes I wish my head would just explode because this shit is crazy.

      • That was the hardest thing for me to swallow. That he blamed me for causing the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life. I believed it for awhile, but luckily I don’t any more.

        • Yup, I believed it too. Then six weeks of counseling happened and I realized that he was the lunatic, not me.

  • CL,

    Brilliant! And timely, for me, as the following have just come up today:

    “I don’t have to give you the ‘Right of First Refusal’ to care for our son when I can’t” (even though the divorce decree clearly states he does). And “I don’t have to give you a week’s notice about my business travel” (again, totally counter to the terms of the decree).

    Or, two months post-divorce: “our 9 year-old son is fine with spending every one of our weekends with my new gf’s family and seeing pictures of me and her in the house.” (My son is afraid to tell his Dad that this new relationship is making him sad – he told me, though. My son tells me that my ex actually said, “this is my new life, son.”) I wonder if this new chick knows she’s the third neighbor he’s screwed? But he denies that, too, despite volumes of evidence. But I digress.

    Or, “I WAIVED your child support payment to me.” (Yes, I don’t give you a check each month…Instead, I have sole responsibility for certain child care bills to fulfill my child support requirement to you).

    But I’m the one who’s not “acting in our son’s best interest” by holding the ex to the terms of the parenting plan and pointing out that I DO pay him child support, just not via monthly check.

    I’m coming to terms with (and sometimes even finding it comical) that they live in an altered state of reality. Not only do they have no boss, they have no conscience and they love to push our chumpy buttons every chance they get (using the children being a particlularly effective tack). The trick is in knowing when they’re doing it and letting it reinforce the reality that they really do suck.

    Love the post, CL.

  • An altered state of reality; hits it right on the head. My therapist said this is because they are emotional (not thinking) beings and actually do forget the details. In my case it makes perfect sense plus the fact they are so narristitic

    • Oh I like that. “My therapist said this is because they are emotional (not thinking) beings and actually do forget the details” That sums my cheating wife perfectly. So many times she has forgotten the details of things I would ask. Of course she remembers the details of something that pissed her off many years ago. But that would be an emotional detail.

      • That is exactly it Bud. I’m not making excuses for them but after my therapist told me this ( there is some theory in counseling that stays there are four qualities a person can have thinking/ emoition/ gut intuition and action and that most people have 2 of the 4) it started to explain alot about my husband that made no sense before. And your right the things my H remembers are from his emoitions (you hurt my feelings when you said/did that) but can’t remember I told him I was taking a vacation week (even though I know I did)

        • Janet, you are referring to Carl Jung’s theory of types, which is often adapted as the Briggs/Myers scale.

          Imagine standing on a large compass rose, with North on top, South below. You can’t see South while you are looking North. You can almost see to East and West in your periphery, but in less focus. And just because you can’t see South it doesn’t make it less “there”. We always have our blind spots and need to keep that awareness in mind.

          Like directions, there are four cardinal functions through which we perceive the world: feeling, thought, intuition and physical sensation. If we most strongly take the world in through our physical senses, we will have a hard time recognizing our intuitions. If we see the world primarily through our rational thinking function, our true emotions will be unconscious–hard to identify and access. They are still there, often powerful but infantile, but cut off from our awareness.

          Just like a person is rarely looking pure North but, rather, at some combination, like northwest, our types are blended. A sensation/feeling type will generally have poor understanding of their intuitions/thoughts.

          Jung did warn that identifying one’s own type, let alone another’s, is usually difficult. What seems obvious is often not the case.

          • Yes that was it the Briggs/Meyers scale I had forgot what she called it.

      • After years of thinking my ex had some kind of brain-based problem, a form of Aspergers perhaps, I recognized a pattern. And that led to a very different explanation for why narcs remember certain things and forget others. My ex remembers EVERYTHING that is to HIS advantage, and forgets ANYTHING that is not, or that is not important to him (no matter how important it might be to someone he supposedly loves), or especially anything that makes him look bad.

        Look for the advantage, and you will probably see a clear pattern of ‘remembering’ and ‘forgetting’, which tells me that it isn’t about any limitations in their capabilities, it’s a CHOICE, based in entitlement, and serving the purpose of reinforcing that entitlement.

        Because believe me, they don’t forget the details when the details make them look good, or gain them something!

  • My Ex Abuser was a champion at this. Even down to parking wherever the hell he wanted, regardless of pesky things like parking spaces and other traffic. he would always be late to the table, after I made a meal (I’m a chef, so these usually weren’t out of the freezer) and would then eat really slowly… just to keep all of us at the table while he controlled when we could go on to other things. He would just show up at his dentists office, or our chiropractor, without an appointment and then be irritated that they couldn’t “fit him in.” It was totally embarrassing for the rest of us.

    On a kind of fun point.. he also didn’t file his income taxes for about ten years, while we lived in Panama. (I, of course filed mine separately). He then had to have returns prepared for those years for a court case we were part of, but he still never filed them. Guess who has those returns 😉 I don’t think he even remembers they exist, much less that they are missing.

    I may mail them, I may not… kind of depends on my mood.

  • I noticed the inability to compromise. She , also, never apologized.
    I have also been gaslit in the extreme.
    Once I started learning about NPD, it all made sense.

    • They NEVER EVER apologize. Because nothing is ever their fault.

      • yep,

        And in the event they do offer an apology, you’ll notice it’s “I’m sorry you got hurt”, not “I’m sorry I hurt you”. Its offered by rota, as a formula to get you off their back so they can get back to collecting kibbles.

        And its never taking ownership of their own actions.

        • God yes. My ex would say, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” if I told him he had hurt me. He was also fond of saying, “You can’t pin that on me!” which I guess is just another way of saying, “You’re not the boss of me!”

          I have certainly never had an apology for his staggering infidelity, his financially devastating me, his not paying ordered child support or his many lies and cruel games. And of course, I never will. Because as others have said, in his sick, twisted mind, IT’S ALL MY FAULT HE CHEATED AND DID WHAT HE DID.

          • I got, “I’m sorry and I forgive you.” How’s that for an apology?! Asshole

            • I got ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen’. Erm, you didn’t mean for your dick to land in a variety of orifices not belonging to me?

            • I got ‘I’m sorry for destroying everything. I don’t hate you.’ I’d hate to see what he would do if he did hate me. And of course he then followed up with the fact that it was my fault for forcing him to destroy everything. They all read the same book. Unoriginal mother f*ckers.

              • Mine once texted me out of the blue, “I’m sorry for blaming you for things.” Umm, okay. Which “things” would that be, exactly? You’re sorry for blaming me for your gay cheating? The affairs with married women? The way you financially devastated us? The way you stay unemployed to get out of paying child support? The vicious way you tried to destroy me? The threats, the gaslighting and the manipulative abuse?

                Gosh I feel so much better now that he doesn’t blame ME for all that anymore! Of course, the reality is he DOES blame me for “things”, he blames me for all of it. That’s the nature of his disorder.

              • Mine also said “you probably hate me, but I don’t hate you,” like he was the bigger person. Like I was equally responsible in his decision to have an affair with his married coworker. In his mind we were mutually unhappy and he was doing me a favor by abandoning me. He even said “Now you can be free to pursue your career.” Funny that he didn’t seem to give a flip about my career for the previous 31 years, he just wanted me to be there to take care of the kids so he could pursue his own more lucrative career. It sure is eye-opening to see that they all say the same things. How they all blame shift. Wow. I really struggled with the blame and actually believed it for awhile, finding this site sure has helped me realize what was really going on.

              • Ugh. I second this. Mine tearily referred to himself as a “one-man wrecking ball” and that he’s “ruined everything he’s ever come into contact with.” Of course, he “never stopped loving me” the whole time he was screwing dingbat paralegal (Scary to think how he would have treated me if he’d stopped loving me – according to his whacked-out definition of “loving” someone) and he “still wants us to stay in each others’ lives.”

                Now, he’s attempting to act like he’s the bigger person, telling me that he doesn’t understand why WE can’t be civil to one another, why WE can’t be friends, etc. (btw, We have NO kids, NO mortgage, NO common business interests, we don’t live in the same state, NO reason to communicate to one another over anything) And it’s not even like we’re trading insults back and forth – I don’t answer his calls, I don’t respond to his emails. He gets radio silence from me… and he says I’m the “mean” one.

              • My ex told me that he “knows I hate him but he still thinks I am still a good person.” I still can’t think of any response for that. I just keep thinking I didn’t lie, I didn’t cheat, etc…. and he makes it sound like he is doing me an enormous favor by claiming my virtue as a good person.

              • BarristerBelle, if he wonders again why you two can’t be friends, you could always reply that your friends are honest people, who care about you and treat people well. And just leave it at that!

            • That’s a perfect non-apology! It’s a ‘we all made mistakes here’ kind of thing, takes no responsibility at all, so of course, is not actually an apology.

              If they were honest, they’d say ‘I’m sorry things turned out so badly for me, I’m sorry I don’t get any more of that delicious cake you didn’t know you were providing’.

          • My ex told me “I’m sorry you feel that way” when I told him he’d thrown me away like some old shoe after 31 years of marriage. It made me feel like my feelings weren’t valid. He’s never said he was sorry for anything he did, although I apologized over and over for the things he said I did that caused him to fall out of love with me. Now that I’m out of our marriage I can see more clearly how manipulative he was.

        • Mine got to the point, after about 10 years, where he’d come back a couple of days or so later and say that he was “out of line.” I started to rejoice, thinking he’d finally become more emotionally mature.

          Then, I noticed a couple of years ago that he would mention that he’d had some “little moments” at work. He never lost his temper at work before. In retrospect, I wonder if this was a sign of a major turning point. I’ve said elsewhere that I think this is STBX’s first affair, as he doesn’t quite have the subterfuge down. On the other hand, I’ve been a very trusting chump. Still, his losing it at work shows that whatever his issues are, they’re growing, not receding.

          When I was growing up, my parents never sorted out arguments among siblings. Instead, we had to go into a bedroom, stay in there, work it out, and then be able to come out, kiss each other, and each apologize to the other. The net result was that all of us learned to own up for our part in a fight. “I’m sorry that I took your toy.” “I’m sorry that I hit you for taking my toy.”

          It always struck me as strange that STBX couldn’t wrap his head around the basic concept that the apologies were necessary, and that taking responsibility for one’s part in the disagreement was vital. Boy, did I spackle over that, too. STBX would act nicer, and I’d understand that this was his “apology,” but when he started to admit he’d overreacted, I really started to think he’d grown.

          Now, I realize that he’s just moved on to another level of crazy.

          • My ex’s parents have always excused the shitty behaviour, mistakes and any bump in the rode of their kids or their own lives, finding someone else to blame for why things sometimes go wrong. It’s weird, because they would even do it about things that don’t really matter.

        • I got -Please forgive me, I only made ONE mistake!
          This was a four year affair with the neighbor who’s house I have to see right out of my living room windows! Also, one of our friends from the 80’s said ‘I thought you knew he was fucking other women, I figured you had an understanding’. Yeh, one mistake.

        • Blue Eyes–STBXH doesn’t ever say “I’m sorry.” or “I’m sorry I hurt you.” —he says….”I didn’t MEAN to hurt you.”

          No validation of the hurt, no responsibility for the hurt–just….listen, I didn’t MEAN it that way, but you took it that way, so clearly, The Problem Here Is YOU.

  • My therapist says this reaction has a lot to do with us no longer following their script. We’re no longer going along with their version, we’re now saying what the fuck is going on here and demanding explanations. And thus they flip out and we get ‘you can’t control me’ or some variation thereof, mainly because they’re projecting: they can’t control us any more or what we say and they cannot deal with it.

    • LOL, I can’t go along with your script if I don’t know what it is!

      My ex so seriously rewrote history and told the confabulation so often that he started to believe his own shit. Before I cut off contact, some of the emails I got from him would inadvertently let me in on some lie or another. When I’d straighten him out — well, Kaboom. Good grief. I can’t imagine that kind of mental state actually gets better with age.

      • Yes, there was a big rewriting of history from my ex. My therapist pointed it out early on, when she had met him a few times. He still tries this crap with me, as if I don’t know what actually happened.

        I understand that people who don’t know the truth or don’t want to see/know the truth will buy his story but to try and sell it to me? What an absolute idiot. Like I dont’ know what I know. Mind boggling. I can’t imagine what it’s like inside that crazy head of his. But I figure he’ll spend a good portion of the rest of his life trying to prove that I really was a horrible wife and his cheating was a reaction to my horribleness.

        • Yes, he actually spent a huge amount of time trying to convince people what a monster I was. Every time I met someone I used to know when “we” were a “we”, he’d find out about it and follow up with a meeting warning them about me. It was uncanny — but I later figured out about the cell phone tracking and eavesdropping.

          After the kids and I moved out of town following the divorce, I backtracked to some of those folks and basically said; “It’s really important to him that his version of the story carries the day, so just nod your head and agree with him and you can get him out of your hair.” They appreciated that.

  • Nord, That is what mine tells me as well, that this is the mark of them realizing they no longer control us…although they like to say that we were controlling them, the actual reverse is true…..once I started living my own life, and he lost control he upped the ante….my therapist also said that stand by because when crazy doesn’t work to get you back under control they will continue to amp up the behavior.

    • Very true. Ex uses money to try and control me. He tries to use the kids sometimes but that’s usually unsuccessful so it comes down to money. I was a SAHM so he can be pretty effective in this way. For now. I’m slowly working my way out of the mess and will eventually get out from under his financial fakery.

      It really does drive them crazy when they can’t control the narrative or us any longer. It freaked me out for a long time but now I see it as a sign that I am regaining my power fully: I will NOT allow him to dictate my life and I will fight for what I deserve. He’s welcome to do what he wants – just stay the hell away from me.

      • Nord, that’s a great point. HIs “misbehavior” is really a sign of frustration that I cannot be duped easily any longer. One time he said: “I don’t know what to do with you any more . Nothing works.” I answered: “What about listening to what I’m trying to tell you for decades and cooperating with me instead of manipulating.” Obviously, that was not an option for him.

          • Took me 10 years POST DIVORCE to finally, finally see the light on the misbehavior/control by using the kids. You’re fortunate to see the picture early.

        • I got, a few weeks after dday, when I was a total wreck and freaking out: ‘I don’t even know who you are anymore. YOu scare me. I think you need help’. Because, you know, I was kind of DEVASTATED.

  • The projection and transference of his shortcomings on to me are epic. Now that I’m finally, “emotionally out” of my marriage to him, the hypocrisy and histrionics are unbelievable. When I referred him to a page in our divorce agreement that refuted his demands, his reply? “I stand corrected. That’s what I get for assuming fairness.” Boo hoo. I assumed faithfulness. Stupid me.

    • Funny how its okay for him to assume fairness in a divorce, but when you assume fairness in a marriage–well, now you’re just making demands & being difficult.

      Don’t you know the universe revolves around them & the sun shines out his arse? Did you miss the memo?

      Seriously, the world could hand them the sun and the moon, and they’d still be pissed off no one volunteered the stars.

    • I get versions of the ‘that’s what I get for assuming x, y or z’. It’s a weird little manipulative tool they use because they know we’re basically good people who actually are fair and who generally do the right thing and we think of other people, often putting others before ourselves.

      Then, suddenly, we aren’t putting our sparkly cheaters first, we’re calling them out on their shit, we’re fighting for what is rightfully ours and we’re half killing ourselves to survive this mess and come out of it with some dignity.

      This means, of course, that they are not number one on our list anymore and they can’t quite believe it because of course they should be number one! They don’t really understand that, for me at least, he blew it and he blew it for good. Ex actually once accused me of acting like a heartbroken teenager and I should get over it. This was after discovering eyars of cheating in a 20+ year relationship.

      • Ditto to every word of that! My experience too. He uses my own goodness to work me to his advantage, or he used to, not anymore if I see it coming first!

      • This is so true. Once I finally realized that I couldn’t and shouldn’t be tolerating his behavior anymore and started to finally stand up for myself after 18 years of gaslighting lying and betrayal he really changed. His fake contrite “oh I am such a bad boy…. ” mask fell away and the indignant ” think of everything we have been through” and “you have to get past this” angry blaming self showed up. Turns out I didn’t like that side of him either.

        He has been in a relationship with someone else since about three weeks after we separated (and he was still trying to reconcile with me.) I sometimes wonder which personality he pulled out of his wardrobe for her.

        • Yep, I was told the other day that he’s sorry to see I’ve changed my principles so much. These would be the principles which tell me to not trust him no matter what because his whole MO is to do what’s best for him and I need to protect me and my kids. This would be a problem for him since what’s good for me usually isn’t what’s good for him anymore.

  • Well, the “You’re not the boss of me” philosophy was a HUGE RED FLAG while we were dating and in early marriage. xH refuses to abide by stupid rules and refused to take much responsibility for household chores and maintenance. Would not allow me to share my “to-do” list with him, (“There will be no ‘honey-do’ lists in this house.”) and refused to make his own, until we bought him his own second home. He saw this as HIS own space, and he was super motivated then. He acted defiantly toward my family, like a belligerent toddler, when they reached out to him. How I did not see!
    It was so frustrating living with a grown-up person who has a toddler/teenager mentality (all sulk minus the charm and fun). It is a relief–one of the silver linings of divorce–to be freed from the responsibility of caring for him and getting very little in return.
    I am not the boss of him. I don’t care any more that he is lazy and self-indulgent. It is no longer a bothersome turn-off–it’s just a turn-off now.

    • I had many red flags in this area as well and I ignored and spackled every single one of them. It really is a teenager mentality and I really am glad I’m out of it. I realise how much less stressed I am, how little anger I feel most days (compared to being pissed off for what felt like a couple of years solid). I have two teenagers and I do get frustrated with them and it’s the same bloody feeling I used to get with ex. But here’s the thing: I shouldn’t have gotten that kind of frustration from ex – he was supposed to be a grownup and able to deal with life in a grownup way. But he didn’t and maybe he couldn’t. Hell, his parents still treat him like an incompetent moron while on the other hand blowing smoke up his ass 24/7.

  • I was struck by your repeated use of the word “team”. After I found out about the infidelity, I just assumed we would work together as a team to get past it, improve our marriage, get this chick out of our lives, etc., and he had no interest in that whatsoever. I had thought we were a team (even after he blew my mind and made me question almost everything, I still believed that… ha!) and so that would be how we tackled the “problem”. But all he did was just try to contain the damage to HIMSELF. I’ve since realized he never acted like we were a team before. It was just how I thought of us. Nor does he act like it now – for some reason I still attempted to be a team regarding parenting our kids even after we separated. I’ve learned my lesson there as well.

    • Another Erica, I’ve also come to realize that my ex and I were never a team during our marriage. How could we have been, when the entire 20 years was stained with his cheating and lying? I never felt like he had my back, never felt like we were really on the same page or both working for the good of our family. And of course, it turned out I was right. He was never looking out for anyone but himself.

      • There was a while where I would actually point out to him and remind him to use the word “we” when he would keep saying “I”. I think he slightly improved. And I mostly gave up. Ugh. Sometimes I really do think I was a dumbass. Then again, who’s going to leave someone for that? Or all the ten million other “little” things he did that when you add them up did amount to a whole big bunch of shit?? Not me! Only infidelity and even then it had to be followed by complete and continued blatant disrespect for me that caused me to finally figure some shit out.

        • Erika – That sounds just like my situation. He disappointed me so many times, but was it enough to leave? He was totally useless around the house, I couldn’t count on him in a crisis & I stayed way too long. He took me completely for granted & the lies & betrayal hurt, but OW actually did me a big favor by taking him off my hands.

          • Wow, Martha & Erika, sounds very similar to my case as well. Constant rudeness and useless for anything that didn’t revolve around his entertainment. The affair was what woke me up and gave me my ticket to leave.

            On the “I” vs “we” language: My STBX did this all the time, referring to our stuff as only his. I have a memory that sticks with me of him describing how a friend complimented him on “My House.” I did a double-take and said, “You mean OUR house?” Unbelievable.

          • This makes the two (three, four…) of us. My situation exactly. Except I haven’t made the final move yet but I know, with the help of this community, I am getting there. He is smart to recognize that with me gone (the one with the stable job who has been taking care of everything and everyone) his future is not going to be that cushy and secure (he is approaching 50, he works for himself and does it whenever he feels like it). So, he keeps pretending that whatever happened was not a big deal and he is really committed to me and the kids (and this is exactly why a year later he keeps the communication still going with his long distance summer fling). Boy, how I hate technology. It has given him the means to continue his at this point emotional affair, while it has also given me the tools to discover and stay informed on what is going on.

            • AFA – I also hate technology, sometimes, particularly when my STBX was texting (sexting) and FB’ing his AP constantly (every 2 minutes his phone would “ding”) and he gaurded that phone like a dragon guarding a treasure.

        • Erica, don’t beat yourself up. Your story doesn’t sound all that different than mine. So maybe when we say that they’re all alike we also need to say that we’re all kind of similar in a way as well. WE need better boundaries and take better care of ourselves.

        • I completely get what you are saying. My narcissist STBX had a blog one time, and he posted right before we took a family vacation to the beach. In the blog, he said that HE was going to the beach (no mention of my daughter or me), and if any of his “friends” wanted to come down, they were welcome to do so (never mentioned that to me). When his “friends” got there, he said, if they wanted to find him, they just should look for the guy with a beautiful woman on his arm…..and then look about 200 yards in the other direction, and then they would actually see HIM sitting at a bar alone drinking. I found that old post recently, and boy did it tell me a lot. It hurt, of course. And it revealed a lot about the way he thought of me after the “idealizing” phase of our relationship ended and real life set in. I was completely devalued and set aside from his imaginary life as something unattractive and unworthy of his “greatness.” Our daughter simply did not exist at all. I was around as a workhorse, to provide him kibbles (although he really wanted them from someone else — someone “worthy). I filled a useful purpose for awhile, and I became quite good at NOT asking too much of him for fear of his rages and, to be honest, for fear that he would leave (abandon us). I was clearly “not the boss of him”! It has been a long road trying to come back from those years of letting his view of me become my view of myself. I’m slowly and finally beginning to see him for what he is — just a lying, cheating teenager in a 48-year-old-man’s body. He had a loving, caring, accomplished, and hardworking wife, and a beautiful, artistically talented, smart, well-behaved daughter, and threw us both away to smoke pot, drink, and chase women on dating sites. He’s the loser, not us.

          • I completely relate to your experience. Sometimes I feel like I was the washer woman/breeder and my ex’s real spouse was his married coworker girlfriend. I was just around to take care of the stuff he didn’t want to deal with, his real life was at work with his “work spouse.” Didn’t matter that she was married and had kids of her own. He ended up moving into her parent’s basement after he left and I found a document where he claimed to be “Planting seeds” to get his work spouse to leave her husband and join him. He loved her kids too. He had them listed right under our kids as “people he loved.” It was so sick. I feel so angry about wasting so many years of my life with this man that I could have invested in myself.

            • uh what?? He’s living at the married AP’s parents house?? What kind of parents take in their married daughter’s married boyfriend? No wonder she turned out to be a POS cheater.

              Yes, we (the wives) are good for being respectable, smart, sophisticated, responsible, etc. Ie. we’re the ones you marry, they are the ones you fuck, I guess. (is it sophisticated to use the word “fuck”?) Your ex might have thought his real life was that sham situation he had with his AP… but we know that isn’t real life. How can it be? They don’t wake up next to each other every day, don’t raise children together, make meals together, or take on the responsibilities and challenges of life together. That is what LIFE is. Granted, when married to a narcissistic cheater you really aren’t doing any of these things together anyway, but we chumps are too busy picking up the slack to notice.

          • Wow, that sounds familar. My STBX often wouldn’t “claim” us on family vacations. He ran around and drank (to excess) with his family while I did the heavy lifting of child care, etc., at the cabin, alone. When the kids when down to sleep (around 8pm) I was stuck in the cabin for the night. Which was fine with me, I just wish I would have been part of a team and not doing it all alone, all the while being there for him to have sex with when he stumbled in at 3am.

            • My favorite was when we’d make dishes for a family get together and I’d make pretty much the entire dish and he’d like put it in the oven or something and then at the get together he’d refer to the dish as something “he” made. To his parents. Which made it look like I sat around on my butt doing nothing while he slaved away cooking. Or he’d really just talk a lot about all the stuff “HE” did with anything (like especially anything about taking care of the kids). I’m not sure anything was an outright lie, but they were exaggerations and/or completely emphasizing what HE did and never mentioning at all things that I did (or god forbid, saying “we”) that made it seem like I didn’t anything and he did everything.

              Now that we are divorced I’m having the opposite problem. I’m good saying “I” in the present tense but not sure what to do when referring to something we did together in the past. Such as buy our (now my) house. I’ve mostly switched to “I”, but it feels weird because he was part of it too.

      • I remember a conversation in my marriage when my husband was angry with me for trying to take over our checkbook because he kept letting checks bounce. He was too busy working to pay them, so he thought the people we owed would understand. Anyway, I finally convinced him to let me take it over by saying “We’re on the SAME TEAM.” He acted like I was his adversary instead. It was weird because he didn’t really want to take care of the checkbook, he just didn’t want to give up control. After I finally got it away from him we never had a bounced check again. That’s the one thing I’m proud of fighting for in my marriage and winning. Most of the time I ended up giving in to keep the peace.

    • AE,
      WE were a team! His team! That was one of the things that got to me the most too. I gave and gave and gave and gave thinking we were in it together. And while I was giving and planning and working for OUR team, he was with other women. I sometimes wonder if he was laughing the whole time, but most likely he only gave me enough thought to not get caught. I think everything he was doing he just considered “his right” Makes me feel sick to think about it.

      • yep, I think we were so busy giving and giving and thinking/knowing that we weren’t measuring up that while we might have slightly noticed that they weren’t giving quite as much, it never would enter our minds that they didn’t even feel the same sense of connectedness that we thought we had with them.

        Yeah, I don’t think they were “laughing” at us because what they did really didn’t have that much to do with us. I’m sure the affairs just made them feel slightly more disdain for us because we weren’t all super crazy exciting like their forbidden sex partner and then we didn’t even cook the dinner they wanted or some shit like that either.

      • Christ, that sounds exactly like my life. Every single word you wrote, Toni. Awful when we realise what was really going on, isn’t it?

    • I think they use the word ‘team’ as part of the sucking us in thing. When you’re in love and the person you love is talking about what a great team you are it feels so good and you feel so safe. Unfortunately for me, at least, I didn’t notice that all this teamwork was being done by me and he was merely paying lip service.

  • So, it’s really *fucked up* to come to this website every other day or so, and read a page of the script ripped out of one’s life. Here ya go. Here’s your shit sandwich, just like you like them. Ugh. If I could get these with extra bacon, that would be GREAT. Thanks.

    And dial it back. Go ahead, press Rewind. Here’s another awesome tendency of the Narcissist – they absorb and reflect Ego Kibbles. As an experiment, a couple of years ago, even before I knew the extent of what was occurring to me – I seeded an Ego Kibble on purpose. I said to her “Your Extraordinary”. Knowing full well I did not mean it, but I wanted to follow my hunch. Not two days later did she email her new best friend “Well, we are extraordinary, so the rules are for everybody else, not us.” Yeah, that’s right, dear. Your anointed. Your Shit Does Not Stink. We ordinary beings are blessed to be allowed to bask in the greatness that is you.

    I have nothing against fake tits. Cosmetic. Whatever. I have everything against the fake that she is. The saddest thing, after all these years, is to realize, the realest thing about her is the after-market boobs.

    Its a daily struggle. I’ll be blunt honest – I’m not in No Contact mode, and every now and then, a Unicorn prances in front of me. Spackle? King of that shit. I should run that isle at Home Depot. I cry, 10 minutes at least one a day. Like, now. The thought of Exit Stage Left…. every day. I won’t, I love my kids and won’t do that to them. Please, that last comment was not a plea for “don’t do it..” or asking for pity. It’s not an “empty threat”, it does not even warrant that stupidity. It just hurts. For years, all we talked about to our kids was the importance of “family”, of doing the right thing. So much for setting examples, though. When it comes right down to it, having someone inject you with Kibble’s De Ego is what really counts. Stroke and get stroked.

    By now, most of us here have googled “Narcissism” and it’s associated symptoms a few hundred times now, trying to understand the carnage. Maybe that’s how you stumbled here. Hell, I don’t even know how I got here.

    But beyond the clinical, is the real. The implementation of the fuckers. “Your not the boss of me”. Just ask them. Ask them for something, and they can’t do it. Ask them to be sincere. It’s an affront to THEIR affront. Don’t dare call out the facade.

    I don’t know where this rant is going, if anywhere. I guess it’s just that. To all you that have gone through this shit, and made it to the other side… you truly are an inspiration. I’m somewhere in that fucked up space in between.

    • I’ve been in that fucked up space… it sucks! It is better on the other side. And I’m not even all the way there yet. It takes a long time (although actually, seriously, once you’re finally living separately, you do feel an immediate sense of relief after dealing with this shit for so long… even as you also alternately feel terrified and pissed off) and there will be steps backward, but you deserve it. And so do your kids. Good luck!

    • Chumpman, No one here will chastise you for being in contact. I firmly believe that there is no such thing as one size fits all… and for some of us, it is actually necessary to be in contact and for some of us, it is better not to be and for others it is vital to never be in contact. Some of us live with our fucktards. Some of us have left or are trying to and some like me, FINALLY left after subsequent D-Days and still struggle. Not with the decision, but with making a whole new life for myself at the age of 57; of having to do everything on my own and alone, much of the time. But I do still have a relationship with my wasband, but I have absolutely no expectations and it works. For me, I was much more miserable when I was trying to avoid him altogether, because I missed the part that was good and that was our insane, inane and funny friendship. However, I will never ever live with him again. There is a part of him that’s very dark and sick and that is not something I can live with. In addition, we must work on a daily basis to deal with our autistic 18 yr old son. Its a nightmare that never ends… but fortunately, my wasband is a very good and involved father. (but a poor excuse for a husband) I know that this sort of relationship would not work for most who write here, but that is precisely the point. The fact that no contact may be best for most people doesn’t mean that its best for you and we shouldn’t be afraid to share our differences out of fear of being ridiculed. Only you can make that decision based on your own unique situation.

      If and when the time is right for you to make that exit, you will know it. Something will happen and there will be no doubt that you will need to leave. In the meantime, feel good and keep honing your plan. See where you want to be and move towards that goal.

      I just want to add one more thing. Its not ALWAYS better for the kids to stay together. That one varies too.

      • I’ll be past my mid-40’s later this summer. Been married 15+ years. I acknowledge of course that in comparison to others, I might have “more runway” to rebuild my life. But in all honesty, I enjoyed being married. I really did. I never felt the need to wander. Did I “look” at other woman? Of course I looked. Wow, she’s cute. Whatever. I never so much as asked for another woman’s phone number or email address. I had no need for external validation. And, I trusted my ex completely. So blind. Blindsided.

        There really needs to be a dating system or methodology for Chumps. Where Chumps Go To Get Over The Hump. Or, to get humped. Seriously. I’m so done with NPD. It’s a special kind of crazy.

        • I loved being married as well. I loved having my family. I loved even the stuff I complained about. I just really liked the whole thing andI thought ex did as well. Sure I noticed other men and I figured that meant I was still alive. But did I ever take even one step towards staring? Of course not. It’s not in my character to behave that way. I loved my husband and I loved my family and it never even occurred to me to do anything that would jeopardise the world we had built. I also trusted my ex. He took that trust and used it to create a double life behind my back, knowing that it would not occur to me that he could do this.

          I’m in on the I want someone with the same values as me.

          • Me too to everything Chump Man and Nord just said. One of the hardest things was to realize how trust was used against me. I have a big poster on my wall of Elvis Costello with “TRUST” written in big letters at the top. I look at it everyday. My XH asked me to marry him on a vacation we were taking. On the drive home, we talked about marriage, and finances, and life expectations and how important trust was to a marriage. I wrote about the conversation in a journal at the time. I read it now, and, well, NOW it makes me laugh. For a long time, when I read it, it made me cry. I guess that is one of the signs I am mostly in “meh”. The real sign will be when I dont ever read it anymore.

          • I loved being married, and SO DID MY EX! He didn’t want to not be married any more! He wanted CAKE! He wanted all the good stuff that came with our relationship, he wanted me too. He especially wanted me to continue working for ‘our team’, without his having to do any of that annoying stuff. BUT, he wanted to fuck around while away for work. And why not? He worked so hard, he deserved it! He wanted it all! And why shouldn’t he have it all? Especially since I’d been so mean as to reduce the kibble supply because of his on-going meanness, negativity and selfishness. He wanted it all! And WHO CARES who that hurts? NO ONE is the boss of him!

        • Same here, Loved being a husband and a father. Sure other women would catch my eye and as Nord mentioned. That meant I was still alive. I however never pointed that out to my wife. She on the other hand would say things about another man or some celebrity. I always felt that even by saying something about another woman would be disrespectful. I guess I’m to old fashion.

          • I loved being married too. We enjoyed reminiscing over small moments we experienced together, marveled how we survived health scares and visits to family and doing humdrum everyday things like grocery shopping and errands because we were together. He never appeared to look or even comment on other women! He took good care of me because he said I worked so hard at my job–made me coffee, would bring me a glass of wine and a tray of crackers and cheese, made me dinner every night and made sure I had leftovers for my lunch and for when he would be gone on business because he said he wanted to be sure I had good food to eat while he was gone, told me how pretty I was all the time, appreciated the way I made our house cozy and comfortable, and so on and so on. But meanwhile he was subscribing to porn cites that debased the women and the viewers and while on 1-2 week “business trips” purchased women for a night or a week at a time, binge drank and gambled compulsively. Oh, and propositioned his ex-wife at a conference. He had a very dark side I knew nothing about.
            His apologies for all this? “I fucked up. I understand your anger.” But he would absolutely NOT go any further by telling me how he thought his behavior had and would affect me. The most he could do was to consider my request for him to spend some time thinking about how I would feel was to say he’d consider it and respond the next day. The next day….anger! He said you can not demand HOW someone apologized! He would not have me put words in his mouth. He had apologized. Move on. Get over it. Stop playing the victim–I was equally to blame by being emotionally unavailable (hmm…perhaps but after being stonewalled and gaslighted and moving out on me twice in 12 years already without warning and just a note on the table when I returned home, insisting on more frequent sex but refusing to listen to me when I’d ask him to slow down and becoming defensive instead and walking out…) I’ve done it again. Ranting/processing/coffee getting cold/workout delayed…
            Back on the thread…yeah, he never looked, at least when I was watching him. I trusted him. I don’t know how I could trust anyone again. I think I’m done with that part of my life.

            • Move on. Get over it. Stop playing the victim. Heard it all and so did my kids…two weeks after dday. He just did not want to deal with the mess he made and anyone who called him on his shit was in line for some serious rage. Unfortunately my older one has no tolerance for bullshit and battled his father for months…and took some serious emotional abuse from him as a result. I will never forgive ex for the way he treated the kids, particularly the older one, when this all came down. He scarred them for life.

              • Exactly, Nord. The STBX moved out almost three months ago & has only contacted. our son once. At 9:30 on Saturday night when son & friends were leaving house. Son said he assumed his dad had been drinking (a fair assumption) & didn’t answer.

                STBX neglected both of us for years & his excuse for cheating on me was that I wasn’t affectionate enough. As you wrote earlier. I was constantly annoyed with him & anyway, he ignored me except after sexting, Skyping, whatever, with OW. That’s his story – poor, innocent, unloved & starved for affection. But what’s his excuse for neglecting our son for years & his failure to reach out to him for 3 months? Unforgiveable. And now he’s telling himself & anyone who’ll listen that I’m poisoning my son’s mind. He’s a young adult. He can think for himsel. Does STBX expect me to lie for him about his cheating? He sems chagrined that I’m not all sweetness & light. Hell no, he doesn’t get to be my friend!

        • Yep, me too. I loved being married. I never dreamed of straying.

          If I could roll back to pre-OW, I would gladly do so. Post divorce, I’m not sure that I’d have anything in common with STBX that would make me want to continue to have contact with him, and that assumes he doesn’t go full-out crazy during the divorce.

          • I sometimes wish I could go back and unknow things. My younger one has said to me ‘maybe if you had just ignored what dad was doing it would have ended and we could still be a family’. That comes from ex’s family, by the way. They are all about pretending things don’t happen and rug sweeping.

            It breaks my heart, though, that my kid thinks that way – we had to have a lot of talks about this stuff and what a person should expect in a relationship. Horrible.

            • You can also tell him you are all still his family, you will always be his family. Just because you don’t live together anymore doesn’t change that.

            • My ex’s family also coped by pretending things weren’t happening. If something bad was happening they didn’t acknowledged it.

              • The sisters of my ex all say everything is great as long as he is happy. They pretend not to know he is secretly gay, cheats and is nuts. As one sister said, “Spouses come and go, but siblings are forever.”

                It’s amazing how much they enable and encourage him in his insanity. Only his brother spoke up and tried to reason with ex. As a result, the ex viciously smeared his brother to the entire family.

          • In reply to Martha: I got the ‘lack of attention/affection’ thing as well. Well, it’s kind of difficult to give attention to someone who is always ‘working’ or other wise occupied. And who says it’s up to us to always provide that attention and affection? how about laying some on us? How about picking up the slack and remembering that we actually need some of that as well and don’t always want to be the one doing the heavy lifting.

            And the way they treat the kids? Don’t get me started. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the way he has treated the kids. What a total asshole.

            • Nord

              You’re so correct. I couldn’t give affection because I was the one always doing everything, while the EX just sat on the couch miserable b/c he never had money and couldn’t handle the responsibilities of being an adult , a husband and a father. He SUCKED at it and failed us. Wish I met someone who could have handled this life. He blindsided me…he’s so happy with the OW (who has no kids). LOSERS!!!

    • Welcome Chump Man! Hey, you’ll get to the other side too. If I can make it, anyone can. I was the chumpiest of chumps. Rant away!

  • This is really enlightening.

    “They might agree sweetly, even repentantly, to do whatever was they agreed to do — and then not do it. (Many lame excuses follow.)”

    My partner was the picture of a remorseful spouse. Whatever I said he needed to do to earn my trust back he did it. It lulled me into a false sense of security until I found out they had been in contact for the last 5 months of a 13 month recovery period.

    “Please don’t speak to your AP anymore” – “I won’t darling, and if she ever makes contact with me, you will be the first to know. I’m comfortable about never cheating again, because I know I am in control and she has nothing to do with me.”

    Meaning – I will speak to my AP and send pictures of my dick to her, because you’re not the boss of me, and I will eat my cake whenever I damn well feel like it.

    • Now the idiot is claiming he is in a shame cycle, and recovery with me was so hard, and well she just made him feel better, like a friend does.

      Because that’s what friends do. Send pictures of their genitalia to eachother. It’s actually a very soothing practice. I imagine somewhat like guided meditation, although I have yet to try it of course.

      • A shame cycle. That’s so special.

        What really blew me away and continues to amuse is how the two APs will put their lame brains together and come up with these pseudopsychological rationales for their failures and just plain low character. It’s still going on, 3 years post divorce.

        • My ex describes his 20 years of cheating with men, affairs with married women, threesomes and orgies as “a sordid phase he went through.” That’s a pretty long phase. Especially considering he’s still doing all that, just not married to me anymore.

          Shame cycle, LOL!

          • LOL, Yes…Shame Cycle. He was so ashamed of his cheating behaviour, that when she called to check on him and he picked up she was the only one who could truly understand how hard it had been. She comforted him.

            I had been so hard on him because of the cheating, it made him feel bad and he had been overcompensating by taking care of my every need and making sure I was okay. Which probably was true, he was the ‘perfect remorseful spouse’.

            Funny that this new contact all just happened after technically the storm had passed, we were on holidays in Hawaii and were shopping for engagement rings and I was running a charity cancer ball for his family.

            I guess that must be part of the shame cycle? 😉

            • Shame cycle? Language is a virus 🙂 Sorry, couldn’t resist. There’s a Laurie Anderson song titled “Language is a virus”, and this story could add new verses to that song :

              “Well I had to send that picture of my penis
              And I had call her up
              Because I was in a ‘shame cycle'”
              And I said, “Shame cycle?
              Then Language is a Virus”.



              • That is hilarious!! You actually made me stop crying and laugh out loud! Thank you 🙂

        • Final OW told my kid that the affair started because she saw Ex at work looking so unhappy and she wanted to help him.

  • My handling the divorce paperwork – paid off for me. I’d had the responsibility of taking care of EVERYTHING for years – and like others’ posts here he accused me of treating him like a child but never bothered to make sure something as simple as the mortgage was paid, the kids had glasses, or that he made it to work on time, or kept his pants on (but I digress). So, I think he thought it’d be just one more responsibility that I’d dutifully perform. BIG MISTAKE. By the time I filed, my head was out of my rear-end about it all – I stayed civil and agreeable, and offered to “handle” the attorney/paperwork and “we wouldn’t have to pay two attorneys”. And I robbed him blind in the settlement.

    I knew damn well he wouldn’t take the initiative or pay much attention to aspects of the divorce that were beyond anything that provided or prevented immediate gratification. He was moving in with the next ex-wife (not an AP) because he love bombed the poor woman and ‘swept her off her feet” within 45 days of us splitting up. Timing was right to strike.

    So, I had the lawyer draft a settlement that threw a few him bones about paying off some of his bills (small). I knew that as long as something was easier for him “next week” he wouldn’t think about the next 10 yrs. I don’t think he ever realized what he was actually legally entitled to my 50% of my pension and 401 K, or that I would have been required to pay him support for 2 years and COBRA while he finished his PHd. All would have been court ordered and I knew it.

    See, Marcie had seen an attorney a few years earlier after discovering an AP . Best $75 I’d ever spent. I didn’t leave him for 5 more years and took more shit in the meantime, but I knew what I faced if (when) I decided to leave, and at least financially planned accordingly. I was the primary breadwinner and set up an account he didn’t know about and small part of every paycheck was deposited to it. I knew he would bleed everything from joint accounts so I siphoned for 5 years. I wanted him to really finally “pick me” and I hung on – but I did start to entertain thoughts of leaving those last couple years.

    The only regret I kind of have was not enforcing the child support – it would have been limited $ but I would have been able to sock a little bit into college funds over the years – IF I got it/garnished it. I knew he wouldn’t hold any job for long (borne out) and I’d likely spend more $ for court than I could collect in support – so I just made the decision to move on. I could support my kids with some reasonable budgeting – otherwise my decision would have been different. I was fortunate to have the option to make that choice.

    But what an idiot. He walked away from probably $70K in benefits, support and my having to support HIM while he finished school (which he didn’t do) – because immediate gratification and avoidance of life’s adult requirements (in this case making an appointment and paying for his own attorney) was all he knew – in this one situation it worked to my advantage and I don’t feel guilty about it for a minute. He had made my life hell for 17 years and I have no regrets about manipulating him when it mattered.

  • I rarely get the overt “you’re not the boss of me.” I do get pushback on stuff that shouldn’t generate pushback.

    For example, STBX works in a really dysfunctional work environment. This assessment is from people who do business with STBX’s company. He lives in constant fear of being fired, and the current management team is running the business into the ground. His boss has indicated that STBX’s area is on the chopping block, and that STBX should go to a headhunter. STBX did see the headhunter, who wanted to see a curret resume. Does STBX have one? Hell no! STBX has been assing around with the resume for about a year. In fact, his initial excuse for seeing OW is that she had a template he could use, as they’re in the same general field.

    So fast forward a year. I ask STBX if he’s started on the resume. No. He’ll get around to it. I ask him a couple of weeks later. Now I’m nagging. This, despite the fact that the headhunter told him that if a man of his age and experience looks for a job while they have a job, they’ll get snatched up because they’re valuable. Not so if he waits til he’s been let go.

    Clearly he’s in fantasy land.

    The other version of “you’re not the boss of me” is in how he approaches home maintenance. STBX completely overlooks infrastructure in favor of some obsession with detail. This most clearly shows up in his approach to household maintenance. He has yet to get our heat pump maintained. We have vines that threaten to pull down one of our fence sections, and we have two boards that have to be replaced in order to repair a section of guttering. STBX has decided the main priority is to redo a retaining wall, paint the ceilings, and apply weed killer to the patio.

    I don’t want to be a nag about the Priority One jobs, so I’ve given up, and now I figure that he can have the house as part of the settlement. He can live with his bad decisions!

  • My ex’s “your not the boss of me” for this month: I will not pay CSS (Child Support Services) your money until the end of the month.” If I didn’t have $ in savings to cover this I would be in serious financial trouble, but I took the high road and did not respond to him because it is the control he is looking for. The sad thing is he doesn’t care how not having money for 30 days affects our kids.

  • Boy this takes me back! True, I didn’t get the ‘you’re not the boss of me’ verbatim…I got the ‘I am now an existentialist’. WTF does that mean???? I couldn’t remember from my college psych course so, I looked it up:

    1. the doctrine that man forms his essence in the course of the life resulting from his personal choices.
    2. an emphasis upon man’s creating his own nature as well as the importance of personal freedom, decision, and commitment. ” from the

    What a load of bullshit. I mean, really???? Give me a break! I guess what he was saying was HE was the boss of HIM. yeah, ok. Personally I think his dick is the boss of him. After our divorce was final and he was ordered to pay for half the household expenses until we sold it, he finally came up with “I cannot continue to support you and the house”. ???? It was HALF HIS HOUSE. What a moron. It was like he was telling me I was taking advantage of him. Like I didn’t want to sell the house and be rid of him. Ugh!

    • “It was like he was telling me I was taking advantage of him.”

      Well, yes, because that is how they view being held to their obligations. It’s *unfair* because they are *special* and the rules don’t apply to them. Don’t you see? I truly believe that is how my ex felt about most aspects in her life. It was right and due to be exempt and she was being cheated any time the rules were applied to her. This was true of the monogamy rule in our wedding vows, yes, but also ordinary, common-sense rules concerning parenting, household finances, business, housework, WTF-ever.

      I swear in retrospect it reminds me of playing checkers with a toddler and when one of their checkers is jumped and removed from the board they bawl like nature’s own fury.

      • This is EXACTLY right. My ex is not wanting to live up to the terms of our mututally agreed upon divorce agreement. It is “unfair” that they are being held to conditions that they agreed to. I actually heard that phrase “you are taking advantage of me”.
        Really, dude? You make 10 times what I do and you left me with two kids in diapers for someone else who was married.
        The whole lot of them are renting a house in florida right now for the week! Hello! I know that the house that you are renting cost $9000 but you can’t live up to the terms of our decree? um, Ok.
        He is entitled. Ugggh. That is the worst way to be.

      • My ex signed a settlement agreement, literally the night before our court date (power game, big time). He has never once paid what he agreed to pay in that settlement. When I point that out to him, he tells me that I had “better not get greedy,” and that I “should know he could get his support reduced to nothing if he wanted to.”

        This is a man who had a six-figure income for many years, right up until Dday when he quit his job to become an actor. Been unemployed since, by his own choice. Many people, including close friends and his own family have told him what a mistake he made and is still making, and that he needs to get a job and pay child support. But no, they can’t be the boss of him!

        Unbelievable entitlement, along with laziness I suppose.

        • GIO- once again, so identical to my story! Is your’s a Northern Italian? My X met me at the bank to sign the settlement I wrote, 2 days before court, and it said he’d move out of our house on the 24th. He signed it, and had NO intention of doing it! He dared me a couple of days ago to throw him out (he’s almost two weeks over).
          So, tomorrow I’m going over and change all the locks, right after I go pick up a restraining order at the courthouse! Don’t dare me, I’m pissed these days!
          But, when I tell him, I’m gonna tear a page from his book and say ‘sweetie, it’s all for your good!’

      • Yes, I apparently am taking advantage of Ex (along with being ‘ungrateful’) because I was a STHM with no way to support myself and when I kicked him out after finding out about his many affairs he had to go live in a small place and it was ‘unfair’ and I was a terrible person taking all ‘his’ money. Never mind we worked alongside each other for years and when I stopped working it was to support his career but hey, who remembers those details! He now needs ‘his’ money to start his new life and I’m taking advantage of him by wanting a roof over my head and food in my belly. I’m such an ungrateful bitch.

        • Interesting how it’s ‘our’ money for so long, then becomes ‘my’ money suddenly.

          A friend’s husband had a very demanding job requiring tons of travel, often without much advance warning. He’d had this job for decades before they met, so she knew what she was getting into. When they had a child, they agreed she’d stay home for a couple of years, then go back to work only part-time, to be able to accomodate his travel. That’s what she did, and was glad to do it; they were a family, right? A team? And I’m sure many people here know that it’s HARD raising a child w/dad sometimes there all the time (but not very involved w/the kid) and sometimes not there at all for weeks.

          So she finds out about his months-long affair, confronts him, he dithers for so long that she gives up on him AND his AP does as well (yay karma!).

          They split, and he starts telling everyone that he worked that crazy job SO she could be home w/their daughter, that he worked those crazy hours and did very little parenting in order to make HER happy, to give her a ‘cushy’ life, so he shouldn’t be facing any added financial responsibilities as she rebuilt her career, because it was HIM who was the financial victim here. (He also said that despite appearances, he did way more parenting than it seemed; he just let her take all the credit, in order to ‘build her up’. Moron. Does he actually forget that I’ve known them well since before their daughter was born? I SAW this stuff? Oh, I forgot ‘who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?’)

          I wanted to shoot him.

          • Mine played the same game. For the second decade of our marriage, I was a SAHM homeschooling our son. Ex always told me how proud he was of me, how glad he was that I was homeschooling our son, how very happy he was. I was his best friend, he would never leave, blah blah blah.

            And then when he dumped me, and dumped his job to become an actor, all of that changed in the blink of an eye. Now it’s that he was always miserable, that I should have been working, that I “trapped him in the corporate world.” That he never should have married me and we had nothing in common. That our financial problems were all HIS fault, although he is the one who quit his job.

            There is nothing they won’t twist and turn to blame someone else for their own shitty actions.

  • CL, this is my STBX, completely. Didn’t want to do anything that required work, or responsibility. He wanted everything – and I mean everything – to be on his terms and his schedule, at his discretion. Made the duties of owning a home and caring for small children a nightmare. I did most things myself, but there are some inevitable things that needed to be done by him (papers he had to sign, etc.).

    Sometimes he would give lip-service and say “yes, I’ll do that”, but then wouldn’t do it. Often, it was “I’m not going to do it *right now*.” Tomorrow never came, of course.

    Other times he would blatently say he didn’t want to do it.

    The most common occurance was me asking him to do something and him getting pissed and spouting off 50 reasons why it didn’t need to be done in the first place. Then, he would get angry when i would do it. I found out quickly that it was much easier to just do things by msyself without even asking him. Otherwise I would have hell to pay, even when I did it myself!

    He was offended by responsibility. He loved the “idea” of owning a home. But didn’t want to do the work. He loved the “idea” of having a wife, kids, dog, etc. But didn’t want to do the work.

    • My situation exactly. All he had to do was go make a living and come home. Finally, even that was too much for him. What a baby.

      I don’t like nagging, so I never did much of it. It was easier just to take care of stuff. Of course, that made me a controlling bitch oppressively running his life. You just can’t win with a narc.

    • My ex was totally like this, shifted tons of responsibility for the house, kids etc on to me. Started because I was at home when the kids were really little, but eventually I had 2 jobs, and nothing at home changed. A child is awake in the middle of the night? I should take care of it, because I fell asleep easily after waking in the night, while he took hours to get back to sleep. Plumber needs to be called, waited for, dealt with and paid? I should do it because my TWO JOBS left me w/open gaps in the daytime (worked 2 evenings a week though, and used those gaps to get the groceries, prepare supper …. ). Those evenings I was working? I should leave supper ready and the kids in great shape, homework done etc, because he was going to get home tired and hungry and it wasn’t fair on the kids to have to wait for supper ….. \

      And all of these he didn’t actually DECLARE, that would be too obvious. He just managed to make things so hard and unpleasant when things didn’t go his way that it wasn’t worth it for me. And within a few years, I was doing way more than he did. Then he was resentful that the kids didn’t want to do much with him – they weren’t used to it, were they? And resentful if I asked for help with something, like when my back was messed up – he was tired, didn’t I get it?

      But for HIS CAREER?? Oh god, the man worked his ass off! Studied so hard, multiple degrees, worked so hard, tons of overtime, anything for his job! Travel for work? No problem! After all, I was there to carry the house and kids, continue the ‘team work’, right? Extra responsibility and stress? No problem! I was there to help him figure things out, and bear the brunt of his temper and stress. We were a team, right? CHUMP!

      Nothing made me sadder than realizing that for him there was no ‘we’, never had been.

      • “I was there to help him figure things out, and bear the brunt of his temper and stress.”
        This is what gets me. On top of shoveling the burden of house/kids onto you, he also gies you a full does of temper when he gets home.

        My STBX did this, too. Arrgh.

      • Yep, Karen, sounds like my story. Even when I was working (and often working longer hours than him) I was still doing most of the stuff at home. I didn’t mind the cooking, as I like to cook, but I remember one argument about cleaning the toilet and he literally said he wouldn’t do it because it was ‘gross’. So I did it rather than argue. When we moved, I packed and unpacked. When anything needed to get done I dealt with it because to get him to do it was such a hassle that it wasn’t worth it. So annoying when I think back. Then, when I stopped working for his career aspirations to take off he didn’t lift a finger for years, it seems. Unless someone was around to impress. I only see that now, looking back. If his parents or anyone else was around he was great, jumping up and getting things, being so great and helpful. But if it was just us and the kids he might load the dishwasher or something but that was it. Unreal when I think about all those years of me doing everything. What a patsy I was. Weirdly, there is so much less to do now that it’s me and the kids…and we don’t stress if it gets a bit messy as we have our attention on actually living for a change.

        • Nord, when I read your postings your situation sounds “oh so familiar.” It’s almost like your STBXH pulled a page out of my STBXH playbook and you and I are struggling to get our careers going after doing all that we could to raise our kids.

          My STBX didn’t want to clean or vacuum etc. or do anything when I was working or not working full-time. He didn’t like “pulling weeds”. Well, I don’t really “like” doing a lot of stuff-but it has to be done, ya know what I mean? I mowed the lawn, edged the lawn and fertilized the lawn. Now I am battling scotch broom on the back slope and I have allergies- fun times pulling that stuff and working with a pick ax in 80 degree weather on a steep slope.

          The only “man thing” my STBX did around the house that my husband did that I need to learn how do do is remove and attach the propane tank to the Weber grill- SERIOUSLY!!! THAT IS IT!!!

          When I get that Weber grill figured out- I will feel accomplished! I can change a tire, check my oil on my car that has 245,000 miles on it, put oil in the engine, clean the gutters etc.

          He did make waffles and French toast for the kids. He could load and unload the dishwasher. When we’d BBQ he would BBQ but that was the extent of his skills around the house-seriously.

  • Mine used to call me a “Guilt Gun”. WTF? And that was even before dday! Makes perfect sense now….

  • My daughter and H went to a counselor since she did not think tht she could say what she wanted to her dad without help-about the other W. After the session, he called me and was ripped-how dare the counselor say that he needs to make a decision and not lead his family on. (He does not know if he wants to try to rebuild the family). Ah, yes, nobody tells him what to do. Not even his wife and daughter, even if we ask nicely. This has been a real education about men who do not grow up, even if they are in their sixties!

    • Why does he get to make that decision? If he’s still screwing around get rid of him. And quite frankly, get rid of him anyway, He sounds like an absolute tosspot.

      • He does not get to make the decision, but he thinks that he does!

  • Too many times to mention did the exH try to tell me to stuff it, that I was not the boss of him. One of the most humorous times recently was just before our 2nd court date to establish temporary support. He lost his job, got fired. Got another job pretty much right away but, did not want to tell me where. He told me that he would get “caught up” on the child support arrears as soon as he possibly could by paying what he could, when he could, his bills in his new bachelor pad HAD to come first. Unbeknownst to the smart ass, in our state employers have to contact the state within 10 days of hire to see if there are any outstanding debts to the state that will need to be garnished from pay. Lo and behold, a garnishment order was in place by the time he was employed by the new company for two weeks! I may not be the boss of him, and I never again want to be the “boss of him,” but the state where we live sure is! What a dumbass!

  • I just have to tell the story of the screw here because it is so damn funny. We have a very nice kitchen with custom cabinets and these copper draw pulls. A screw came loose, fell off and I did not see where it went but it was just a screw. My H went crazy, I couldn’t take care of my house, devalued the property by losing this screw ect.. Long story short found the screw (it had fallen into the drawer below) the draw pull is still hanging loose.

    • I wish I had a nickel for every time………

      My ex did some serious passive aggressive sabotage of our place before he left. And then after he was outta there, acted like all the damage and missed repairs were my neglect of the place. He was a real smooth calculating lying menace.

    • We didn’t own (Thank God) just rented, and now that he’s gone, and it took me forever to get all his crap out, I’m finally trying to fix the place up for ME…what I can’t figure out is why he had to SCREW every damn thing into the wall with a frickin’ drill. I am on my 3rd can of spackle. Spackle just seems to be my fate…

  • They have an incredibly high need for interpersonal control.

    Their brains are wired up funny.

    My ex had major (childhood) engulfment issues with his mother.

    “you arent important to me!!” that was his mantra.

    • Wow “you aren’t important to me” my H said the EXACT same thing

      • I felt the need to understand why he was like that.
        ‘I dont need you’ and ‘You arent important to me’.

        I read three books all by the psychologist Adam Jukes
        *Why Men Hate Womem
        *Men Who Batter Women
        *Is There a Cure For Masculinity

        Their problems are pretty much due to childhood trauma.

        Once you understand the reason they act like they do its easy to get over the guy -because you understand it really isnt about you at all.
        Theres something wrong with them that cannot be fixed.

        I was only attracted to my emotionally unavailable, personality unable to love ex husband because I had my own childhood trauma issues.

        Once I had the therapy and done the Hoffman Process etc I was no longer attracted to abusive guys,in fact they now repulse me.

        • I can’t believe he said this you: “‘I dont need you’ and ‘You arent important to me’

          That is just mean.

          I think my STBX has a deep hatred of women (unbeknownst to me while dating). It makes my blood run cold to think about it.

          • I got a version of that after dday, when it was becoming clear to him that I wouldn’t let him off the hook. It was basically I meant nothing to him and he didn’t understand why I was upset.

            • I, too, got similar messages (I never really loved you — I should have never proposed — I’ve really not been invested in this marriage for years — I don’t want to be married to YOU anymore — it goes on and on). He could be a cruel one minute, saying the most horrible things one minute and then wondering the next minute why I was so upset (get over it!). His own mother once told me that she thought he had issues with women, that he didn’t respect women at all (he’s been pretty horrible to her, too, over the years, but she sets no boundaries with him at all and keeps trying make him happy). It’s all so twisted and horrible. Don’t know why I took it for so long.

        • Fiona

          I often feel the same way about my EX. Father: alcoholic Mother: gambler… Also, I never felt the unconditional love that I was shown growing up. That’s why he’s a narricisst.

      • Mine said “When I look into my future, you’re not in it.” What an a**shole.

    • Funny you should mention the whole don’t care vibe.

      I remember one night, I was in the tub, crying my eyes out, letting the water run so it would drown out the sound. (Found out later–really didn’t drown out the sound; my neighbors heard me Every. Single. Time. blink, blink)

      Andy comes down the hall and asks me to stop crying. Invites me into the living room (his pseudo bedroom by this time) to “talk”. Once I get out and get a robe and sit down, he’s not interested in talking any more.

      Said he just wanted me to quit crying; he’d feel that way about any one. Had nothing to do with the fact it was his wife crying; had nothing to do it was his choices that had led to my tears. He said he would have done that much for any random stranger.

      Done what exactly? Asked me to quit crying (without using the words shut up) because it was irritating him? And he expected me to be appreciative of this.

      Piece of shit couldn’t even let go long enough to let me get some of the pressure off while our daughter was sleeping and wouldn’t be frightened by my breakdown.

      • The level of cruelty that these people are capable of — it’s truly staggering sometimes. Blue Eyes and Bruises, wow. Your ex appears to lack all human decency. What a pathetic, twisted freak. It must truly suck, every moment, to be him.

  • So it’s summer, two years ago. Our back yard has a high perimeter of hedges that are infested with grapevine. It curls around everything and tries to climb into the walnut trees. I look out the window one day to see that the grapevine is taking over the joint.

    My then-husband was out of town as usual. So I get out there with a ladder, hedge clippers and a saw, on a series of hot and sticky weekends, and chop and pull out a massive amount of that grapevine. The resulting yard waste is about the size of a small bedroom, higher than my head. A lot of the grapevine was so thick and long that it will need chopping into smaller pieces and bundling to put out on the curb.

    Husband gets home one Sunday. I tell him about the work I’d done. He sees the pile. He utters one of his most famous punchlines: “I’ll take care of it.”

    He has the sort of job that when he’s home, he’s not working. He has nothing pressing to do all week. Meanwhile, I’m working a traditional full-time job during the week.

    Summer turns to fall. Fall turns to winter. The grapevine pile now looks like a large, permanent snow bank in the middle of the yard.

    Winter becomes spring. The snow bank melts back to a brush pile. I give it ’til mid-spring and then I say Fuck it and get out there over an entire weekend, sawing everything into smaller pieces. Creating bundles on the lawn. Husband watches TV.

    One day we are in the car, backing out of the driveway on our way to lunch with our 14-year-old daughter. I casually, without anger, ask if he can help me tie up the bundles and haul them out to the curb.

    You’d have thought I was asking him to tote sacks of yak dung off Everest base camp. He was so.put.OUT. Bitter. Nasty. Contemptuous and not even trying to hide it in front of our daughter.

    I didn’t say a word. Didn’t point out what he clearly had completely forgotten — that he’d take care of it. I didn’t want to escalate things in front of the kid. I chalked it up to one more instance where I could not count on this man. Got out there later that day and tied all the bundles myself, hauled every one of them to the curb myself, while 41-year-old Man Child watched more episodes of Family Guy and South Park.

    Do I miss him? Hmmm. Let me think about thaNO.

    • Rally Squirrel, thanks for the reminder of what it was REALLY like around here when the ex and I were together! You made me laugh, imagining that great pile of vine, and your ex sitting on his butt ….. Really, have they NO shame? You made me sigh, remembering how often I just did stuff, because my ex made it SO hard and unpleasant if I didn`t.

      Do I miss him? Sometimes I chumpishly miss the imaginary guy I thought I was with. But the real one? NO.

    • RallySquirrel – I am almost crying reading your post. This describes my life completely with my STBX. Exact same attitude, and same anger/rage when even asked to pitch in a little bit. End up doing everything yourself while the husband-teenager watches TV/video games and hurls ctirical stares. This was daily for me (likely for you, too). From small tasks which take only a few minutes to do, to larger ones, like the grapevine you mentioned.

      I, too, did most things around the house, to keep the peace and beacuse they would NOT get done otherwise. There were a few tasks that the STBX had agreed to do – take out the trash and mow the lawn. He hired a lawn worker, which we both paid for. The trash did not get taken out. It sat in the garage for weeks. I’m not a nagger, so after a few polite inquiries as to the task, I just waited to see if he would eventually get around to it. He didn’t. The bags were filled with maggots and flies filled the garage and penetrated our house. There were so many, they were infesting. Just from those darn garbage bags. Who was the one who had to kill all the flies and take care of the most disgusting garbage bags ever? You guessed it.

      So, lesson learned, that I would be the one to suffer when he didn’t do things around the house. So I just did everything, to avoid his rages and keep the peace for our young kids. Occasionally, our dog would kill a rat or a bird outside and I would ask him to please get rid of it (put it in the dumpster) for me, because it really grossed me out (I was pregnant and the sight of it was more than I could bear at the time). He would get sooooo mad that I even asked him to do that. Mind you, he doesn’t get grossed out by that stuff, he just didn’t want to do it (YOu’re not the boss of me!). So the animal carcus would rot. Eventually, I learned to take care of this myself, too.

      • Now I’m remembering a lot of these things where he would not do what he said he would do and eventually I just did them myself so that stuff would get done. God, what is wrong with all of us that we put up with this shit?

        • Is there something wrong with us? If there is, it’s just trying to keep it all together (for the team). That’s fixable! Just keep our eyes open more, and stick to our boundaries. For the lazy, entitled narcs- not so easy to fix (plus they don’t want to, they’re special!)

          • Oh, and it’s called ‘creeping normalcy’. Thats how we end up tolerating doing fucking everything! Or having an AP shoved down our throats.

            • I agree, Patty, it starts so gradually and builds so slowly, and it IS normal that in a relationship sometimes one or the other person does more for a while. And in my case, I’m probably somewhat ADHD, lots of energy and don’t need much sleep, so some stuff made sense. But really, when I look back now, its CRAZY how I was living! Over the last couple of years together I got a lot more assertive about his doing stuff, and a LOT more assertive about his controlling and abusive behaviours – probably one of the reasons an affair seemed like a good idea to him, he didn’t have as cushy a life w/me so much anymore.

              Even now, the ex will agree to do stuff (we still own the ‘family home’ together, as well as kid stuff) and then just … forget. Then he gets so pissed that I still actually expect him to do it. And even more pissed that I didn’t remind him. Hmmm, interesting, nobody needs to remind me of things I’ve agreed to do. And it’s funny how his work stuff NEVER gets forgotten or delayed, nobody needs to remind him there.

              • Yep, Karen, my ex is very much like yours that way. In his case, his livelihood depends on him being at a comedy club, ready to go onstage any number of states away from home, at XX hour on XX date. He doesn’t get paid if he doesn’t do the time. Nor does he get invited back. No excuses. You’d better believe he’s there every time. Blizzard, ice storm, car trouble, flu, road construction, whatever. He shows up.

                But somehow, amid all this super responsible behavior, he routinely neglects to let me know that his schedule has changed and will affect when he can pick up our daughter for his time with her. This forgetfulness of his happens roughly once a month. He always has an excuse. Usually flimsy.

                (Reminds me of that great quote: “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not important, you’ll find an excuse.” His behavior will tell you all you need to know about his priorities.)

                I bet if I was legally able to charge him every time he “forgot,” this behavior would stop, pronto. Because in his case, money and ego strokes are the two things that get his attention. Keeping me informed is just background noise. But, oh, it irritates him when I point out his mistake and calmly remind him to live up to his co-parenting responsibilities.

  • I have to remind myself of stuff like that, too, KarenE: The many times he sucked. Because now that we’re divorced and his mistress has a new, legitimate name (girlfriend) and the ex is deeply invested in assuaging his guilt at what he did to his daughter by moving out of the family home, he’s Mr. Sparkle around our child.

    Bouncy. Goofy. Witty. Super Fun. Enveloped in a cloud of charm. I see it every time he comes to pick her up and take her back to his place.

  • Rally Squirrel,

    You described my life exactly. I can’t tell you the number of times I did hard, back-breaking work in the yard and in the home while the STBX either just stood over me criticizing what I was doing or silently watched me. In retrospect, it was creepy. I was so conditioned not to say anything to him for fear of his rages that I just did everything like a zombie. He rarely mowed the grass, hiring a man to do it (and he would stand out and watch him work, saying what a loser he was for mowing grass for a living). Then he would go into austerity mode and decide that we could not afford yard service — which meant that on top of everything else I did (work full time, take care of the home, take care of our child, etc.), I would either mow the grass or watch it grow into a jungle.

    Now that he’s moved out / moved on, when he comes to pick up our daughter, he’s the same way — bouncy is the absolutely right word. He’s charming, funny, bouncy — just like the guy I met years ago, who fooled me completely. I have to keep reminding myself that this is NOT who he really is.

    • Yep, ex is a shiny bunny for the kids…or was. The luster is wearing off and it’s kind of sad because the kids think he’s an idiot. My older one, whenever he talks about his dad, gets so angry and stressed and generally feels completely abandoned because his dumbass father will not put him first. Ever. I finally explained to him that he might want to accept that his dad loves him but will do what he wants to do and will always put himself first. I don’t know what else to do other than be honest.

      • Nord, you have already been through so much stuff I’m trying to deal with!

        Our daughter (12 ys old) figured out a few weeks ago that her family broke up because her dad cheated. She asked him about it, he changed the subject a couple of times, so she came to me to talk. Then, because he’d heard when his sister confronted their dad, I talked to our son, 13, as well.

        I’m trying so hard to find that balance between recognizing and supporting their love for their dad, while trying to help them understand that ‘his dad loves him but will do what he wants to do and will always put himself first. ‘ I don’t want them suffering as so many kids of narcissists do, or figuring that narcissism is the way to go, so as to avoid being a chump.

        The ex has recently given up his 2 evenings a week w/the kids to go do another out-of-town contract, will see the kids only on his alternating weekends, probably until next spring. (This after insisting a few months ago that the kids needed to make sure they spent all the planned time w/him, to maintain their relationship and so he could help with homework, etc.) Our daughter asked ‘is papa dumping us?.

        It kills me.

    • Amy Lou

      I know what your saying about how charming, funny, bouncy…mine is just so happy…he’s not miserable anymore.

      I want to just vommit…

      • Well, I am betting that the charming, bouncing, bunny act is just that . . .an ACT. The wheels will be coming off the bus shortly for them and then they won’t be around to pick the kids up AT ALL or they’ll be blame shifting and telling everyone around that everything in their downfall and their former marriage was MOM’s fault, am I right???

      • Sue B
        He is miserable thats just an act its pretending to be happy.

        My mother was very self absorbed she never even tried to make an effort to put me first she was always putting different guys she hooked up with before me -totally selfish and thoughtless-When I was 14 I took an overdose and she told me to
        “ring for my own ambulance”.

        Guess who will be choosing her nursing home…

        I will make sure I put no effort in its me first whatever is best for me and I will dole out the exact same care and attention as she did to me.

        • Oh dear… cant believe I wrote that ^

          Im so bitter Ive turned quite evil 🙁

          • Fiona, your mother would totally deserve your walking away from her or screwing her over, after the way she treated you all her life.

            And you clearly have some great revenge fantasies!

            But, your being chump and all, I’m betting YOUR character will not allow you to act on those fantasies. Often we do the right thing not because the other person deserves it, but because that’s who WE are.

            (But if your mom is still really toxic, walking away from her is still the best option!)

  • Fiona, I personally am GLAD you wrote what you wrote. I have a 14 year- old daughter and I have promised myself that I won’t even try to date or pursue another relationship until she is out of high school. I will be 55 then and some people say that by that age I won’t be interested in dating. Maybe that is so BUT I will have had a great relationship with my daughter!

    I get lonely as my marriage to my STBX was really difficult these past few years but I have a WONDERFUL daughter and a son. I want them to know that they ALWAYS come first at this stage in their young lives. Your post reveals how you felt. Bitter? I UNDERSTAND that. When I see chumps on this blog posting how they felt when their parents engaged in NPD behavior and the effect on them- it just solidifies my resolve on my lonely, sad moments to be a single mom with backbone, character, and a level head on her shoulders!

    Thank YOU for your post- I am sorry you had to experience an absent mother. BIG (((HUG))) to you my dear and all the other chumps on this blog who had NPD parents.

    Also, I am wishing everyone HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to all chumps, former chumps and recovering chumps!!! ‘Our 4th of July’ should celebrate our resolve NOT to put up with shit sandwiches ANY more!!! Hurray for us All!

    Everyone. . . .Go out, do something FUN this holiday and celebrate YOUR independence everyone!!! No more SHIT sandwiches for ANY of us!!!! Yippee!!!

  • I have to rant this AM because he thinks he is the boss of me! recently his hours at work changed, getting up later leaving later. Well this interfered with my morning routine ( 1 full bath home) but I cheerfully change my routine, getting up and in the shower 1st, fixing my hair ect.. before he got up and need to get ready. I won’t mention that as he is showering I am fixing, breakfast, lunch for him coffee. This AM he says ” why is your alarm going off so early( an hour before his) When I explained he says “You don’t have to get up that early!” WTF

  • I am just now reading the archives and came across this. THIS. Which describes him abso-fucking-lutely. Anything I ever asked him to do got immediately moved to the bottom of his to-do list.
    He has a right to come and go as he pleases.
    He has a right to his privacy and secrets.
    He has a right to, apparently, unilaterally change whatever agreements we have in place without telling ME he has done so.

    I’m still struggling with hopium and spackle, but you guys are giving me some mighty. THANK YOU.

  • I realize how much I was used to keep the face of our relationship shiny..I had absolutely no idea, a man could pretend to love you just to keep the cake coming. He could keep a cool facade and act like whatever you desired at the moment. But it was a mask, for YEARS!!! HOW do you do that. Well, you cannot truly love and you care only about your own survival. I was played for a fool until I woke up. Then the cake ended, his gloves came off and he was an awful man behind his mask. It was a shock but now I see.

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