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Dear Chump Lady, I’m not finding peace

Dear Chump Lady,

My husband and I have been separated for 11 months and I’m struggling to find the peace of mind I thought the separation would bring. Our marriage of 12 years came to an end after many years of suffering. In hindsight I understand what he did to me but I don’t quite know how to move on, and I often entertain the idea of reconciling. Would you offer me advice on how to move on? I am emotionally crushed and want to find a way out of this darkness.

Eric and I moved in with each other after dating for 6 months. I moved to a different state, leaving all friends and family behind. The trouble started shortly thereafter when he would go out with friends every weekend, never waiting for me to get off work. This was the beginning of his establishing an identity and existence outside of me, one from which I was completely excluded, and one that he claimed was his right.

He always said he wanted an “independence” that had nothing to do with me. Crazy in hindsight. He would often lie, telling me he was with his male friends, when, in fact, he was with them and their girlfriends. I understand now that he was trying to prevent me from becoming friends with the women in his group, telling me they were crazy, that they didn’t have interest in being friends with me, etc.

He would occasionally not come home at night and would become extremely belligerent when I confronted him, saying I was not his mother and that he could do what he wanted. I should have ended it then, but the good times were enough to make me think these kinds of behaviors were blips, anomalies.

Years passed, we got married. He started to have mystery lunches, dinners, drinks, etc. with “work friends,” often denying or twisting the truth about what he was doing and with whom. Again, he would often come home late (3am) or not come home from work until 9pm (with no phone call). Asking questions, I would be met with extreme anger or unbearable silence. I eventually learned not to confront him (however nicely or demurely I tried, it never worked) and instead starting keeping track of his behaviors. I did this for many years, through the births of our three kids, and through the “happy” times.

By keeping quite and investigating him, overtime I learned that he often had several girlfriends at one time – all were married, one was a friend of mine, one was my half-sister, the others were coworkers – that he juggled through email, texting, in-person meetings. At least two of them would come (separately) to our house when I was at work to “hang out” with him and my children. This was all incredibly devastating. My world spun off its axis several times, but I always stifled the pain and fury to keep my life together; however, I did confront him about my half-sister and my friend. In his typical rages, he denied everything, even though I had direct proof of what he was doing. He was so convincing that I began questioning my sanity. I truly thought that I had somehow concocted everything. He demanded I seek therapy for my issues or he would leave. I was a psycho bloodsucking-bitch. This was my life for 12 years.

There’s much more to tell but this is it in a very small nutshell. After years of hurtful lies, demeaning names (frequently in front of the kids), rages, silences that would last for weeks, we came to a breaking point. He left. I believe he has a girlfriend. And I am left to pick up my life. I do not trust anyone or myself, and feel constantly on guard. I’ve lost friends who no longer find me a “good fit” in the social circle. Essentially, I am alone, trying to repair the damage that we’ve done to our kids. I don’t know how to begin repairing myself. At various points I’ve felt as if I would collapse psychologically and emotionally. The future looks dismal in many regards. Do you have advice for my situation?

Thank you,

Peace Seeker

Yeah, Peace Seeker I have advice for you. Change your name from “Peace Seeker” to “Hell Raiser.” It’s time to get ANGRY about his abuse.

To get angry, you’ll have to do a couple things. 1) Trust your senses. Believe what happened actually HAPPENED. 2) Know your worth. What you’ve experienced isn’t normal. It’s abuse. You don’t deserve to live like this.

There is absolutely NOTHING about him to miss. Whatever would you want to reconcile for? To return to his rages? His silences? His serial cheating? What’s left to miss? His lovely singing voice? The way he makes pancakes? What the fuck is there to pine for?

The idea of a Potemkin intact family? Do you really think you’re nothing without this piece of shit? NO, PS, you’re a whole person who is no longer associated with a piece of shit. This is GOOD NEWS.

He left! Thank GOD. That is the very best thing, PS. He’s GONE. He found a new pasture, a whole new world to destroy. It sounds like he beat you down so much that there’s no fun left in abusing you. Your pain receptors are numb. And it’s only enjoyable if you suffer, assert yourself and demand things from him, so he can let you down again. (It’s such an orgasmic power trip.) He’s trampled you. So time to focus on a shiny new victim.

PS, you’ve taken a very passive approach to his abuse. You cataloged it. You curated it. Like it was an interesting bug to pin inside a glass box, and not a visceral betrayal that was tearing your guts out. On occasion, you spoke up — but he raged at you, so you made yourself small again.

I understand why you did that. You thought you could manage him and the situation. He’s scary. You thought you could manage yourself — take on more pain, and more pain, and more pain. And shut it the fuck up.

You know what happens when you do that? You lose your senses. I mean that in the mental health way — it drives you crazy. And I mean that in the physical way — you lose your ability to FEEL. Pain is telling us something — it’s saying FIGHT or FLEE. But you ignored your pain. Worse, you took your pain to the very person who hurt you and expected HIM to manage it for you. Hey, stop fucking my sister! Big mistake, PS, he doesn’t give a shit about your pain. YOU need to manage your pain. YOU need to protect yourself.

But instead, you dulled your senses. Losing your ability to feel and sense reality, is like putting your hand on a hot stove and going “Oh, my hand is smoldering. Huh. There is a weird smell.” If you had all your faculties, you would REMOVE YOUR HAND.

So, PS — start FEELING. Stop holding everything at bay. Go get some therapy, talk to a domestic abuse hotline, a women’s resource center, start googling. Start telling people what happened and get professional help.

Next, see a lawyer. You’ve been separated for nearly a year. He needs court orders to pay temporary support and he needs to have his ass served divorce papers.

What you’ve been through is traumatic and you need professional support to pull yourself together. But PS, you have to want it. You have to WILL yourself out of the darkness. And the best way to do that is get angry at how you’ve been treated, at how you’ve let yourself be treated. (You can forgive yourself for that after awhile, but for God’s sake, examine it.) Love your children enough to not model abuse to them. You would attack anyone who hurt your child — direct some of that mama bear love to yourself. He hurt them too with his abuse of you. So now you must model strength and self respect to them. You have three kids who need you and you do not have the luxury to dissolve into a puddle, or be inert in the face of his abuse.

So FIGHT the motherfucker. Get a lawyer and FIGHT. Fight for your mental health. Fight for the woman you want to be — a kick ass survivor. Know your worth, PS. Know your worth.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This guy is an ass. He bailed on you and the kids. Time to fight and show your kids that this sort of abuse is not acceptable. Do it for their future retionships.

  • Good God, these guys make me puke up my coffee ( women too that have cheated).

    I am so very sorry for the pain you are in PS..BUT, please realize that you have 3 kids that you brought into this world that have one decent parent. Please seek therapy or whatever it takes and put yourself back together.

    Listen to CL. I haven’t seen her give bad advice yet……

  • For me, peace did not arrive all at once, with a bow on top and a fanfare of trumpets, conjured by some action or insight. Rather, it crept in slowly and quietly while I was busy building a new life. Think of that poem by Carl Sandburg that begins, “The fog comes / on little cat feet.” Like that. I think peace comes on little cat feet, too. The secret is just waiting and not spooking it off.

    Here’s hoping that the gift you receive this holiday season is the gift of catlike peace.

    • On the other hand, there were days where happiness hit me like a train on a track. And I would sing out, “The dog days are over!”

      Oh, PS, big hugs!

      CL is right–you’ve been abused, classically so. He even got you isolated from your support network by moving you away from your friends and family. Any hope or desire to move back there with your kids?

      Reading your letter, it strikes me that we can articulate so well what was WRONG about what they did, but the stumbling point is connecting the dots to “meh.” We know they are shitty, but still we persist with hopium and nostalgia. If only we could get a big pair of scissors and cut the cords that bind us.

      Well, nomar is right. Happiness will come from making yourself happy, one day, one moment at a time. You do need counseling to figure out why you felt it was acceptable to make yourself insignificant–why didn’t your feelings and wants matter? And you need a good therapist to help you find yourself. Sometimes introspection, or a really good friend can help. Being here helps a lot. Stewing helps sometimes, too, if we focus NOT on pining and longing for the cheater, but on ourselves. I do this on my long commute. That’s my “me” time, and I’ve had a lot of “A-ha!” moments. Don’t buy books about cheaters and why they do it, instead, buy books about healing yourself if you go that route.

      We’re here for you, girl. Hang in there.

      • I am a broken record. Happiness will come when you recognize that you are living according to your values. For example, you want to be a really good mother. So when you act in that regard–teaching them something, spending time with them, cooking with them, working at their school, these things will fill you with pure joy. It’s like putting a coin in the bank, every time you do something that is good. Over time, you will be emotionally rich. Embrace that. What are your values? Are you living them?

        • Stephanie that is great advice. It’s true that the way I recovered and started to function again was to find those things I enjoyed doing and then do them. It was hard to remember what I used to love at first, but it started coming back to me. For instance, as long as I could remember I loved music. I started playing the piano as a preschooler but hadn’t touched it in years. Well, after my ex left all I wanted to do was play the piano again. It felt very healing. I joined a church choir, and found a friend to attend concerts with. I noticed that when I was around music I felt joy, so I put myself in as many of those situations as I could. It was very healing.

          • This is very true. I loved so many things but I never had the energy to do them when the X was around. Then all of the sudden I was doing these things again and it made me wonder where did I get the time now? The fact of the matter is being with a narcissist sucks up a lot of time and energy. All of my energy was spent on trying to make him happy. Once you start to put that energy into you again you can begin to heal.

      • I love that song!!

        My husband played it for me and told me “This is totally what happened with you.” He;s right. Happiness hit me like a train on a track.

        He said it made him think of me because of the “Happiness hit her like a bullet to the back/shot by someone who should have known better.”

        He said that my ex shot that bullet (leaving me) and he should have known better because it was his loss.

        • Also love that song – Florence and the machine got me through the worst of it! I also concur with feeding your mind anything that makes you feel better, not worse. A book that has really meant a lot to me is Maryanne Williamson’s, “The Gift of Change”, It definitely stresses forgiveness – but puts it in the proper perspective of freeing yourself to heal. I make soap and stuff and that really helps me to channel my frustration into creative energy. Remember what you love about yourself and do it. Your children will thank you for it someday.

    • And look at you now Nomar kickass mothermama! I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with you but I should as hell would want you on my side. : )

  • PS- reading your post brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me so much of my situation and I so needed to hear CL’s reponse. I have been having a really hard week. Thanksgiving and my wedding anniversary were last week and it just brought up sad feelings that I haven’t experienced since I left in August. I had gotten to a point of acceptance an felt like I was doing a darn good job navigating this mess until recently. I think we all have good and not so good days but you know my days are still better then where I was one year ago. I have a ways to go but I’m not givin up on myself yet. My STBX did a number on me and I question my sanity, but I’m learning to take it one day at a time. Al-anon has really helped me as well. My STBX was an all night party animal too and he had a whole separate life w his co-workers and ho-workers. Stay strong.

    • Dazed and Peace Seeker,
      It is a meandering road where there are good days, really really good days and sometimes bad days and really really bad days. In the beginning I was super hard on myself because I knew I was too smart to let something like this happen to me. I knew what a shit he was so I became not only really angry with him but also with myself for allowing the relationship to go on longer than it should have.

      My therapist said stop being so darn hard on yourself and friends said that to me as well. Then after a while I was no longer hard on myself and went with my emotions and it became so much easier and allowed me to work through all of my feelings and to fully understand and accept what happened and why and how.

      Then there were good days again and then ideas came flowing as well as creativity and slowly and steadily I came back to myself and felt really strong on some days and not so strong on others. Over time it become more steady days and less unsteady days.

      It’s an ebb and flow and much easier when you let it all unfold naturally rather than fight it which I was doing.

      Finally when I reached meh I had fully accepted the reality of what happened once I really understood what happened. All was ok. I felt like me again and knew without a doubt that I deserved so much more than him and so relieved that he found another “victim” to concentrate on and finally after 7 months of his trying to contact me either directly or indirectly through others while he was with his new “victim”, I blocked him on Facebook via phone and emails. Literally one month later after blocking any contact, I reached meh.

      Not only did I reach meh, I knew that exactly what happened with me and all of those before me was in the process of happening to his new victim and I didn’t envy her at all and felt so relieved that I had gone through it and never have to live through anything like that ever again. I felt sorry for her knowing the shit she is experiencing and will continue to experience as long as they are together as it only gets worse with time and not better.

      Now I rarely if ever think of either of them nor do I care any longer. Once in a blue moon now I have a fleeting thought of anger and say “fucker” out loud. LOL and that’s it.

      Once I got to the anger stage about 2-3 months out from D Day that’s when healing seemed to start happening but again it was an ebb and flow of going forward and sometimes falling backward. It’s a very liquid thing which I can only visualize with water. Then you eventually reach land or “meh” and you can see the waves from afar and eventually it becomes a part of your past and no longer is in your present or future. That’s a great feeling that I wish for everyone and most especially you right now Peace Seeker.

      I hope all we wrote helps you. It’s not hopeless at all for you to get beyond this horrible thing you are living through but you must must separate yourself yourself from him in order to be able to start thinking clearly and putting all the pieces and emotions back together and you definitely should get therapy especially in the beginning. I went for two months to a therapist just to help me process all of the emotions and trauma I had just experienced and then worked hard on getting myself mentally and healthwise well again.

      Don’t put any pressure or time limitations on yourself for recovery, just go through the feelings with the help and guidance of a therapist. Writing helped me as well, seeing in black and white all of the red flag behaviors really put things in perspective for me and most of all no contact was the final key to getting to meh for me.

      Don’t whatever you do let this destroy you, it’s sooooo not worth it and one day you will see that if you take care of yourself and do the work you need to do. It sucks in the beginning and is really hard to get your bearings at first but you can and will with help and guidance and anger does help in a constructive way when it is directed at him as it should be.

      Sending you love and eventual Peace but you have to go through the storm of the aftermath first in order to get there. It’s a process for sure and one you will never forget but that will make you the number one protector of yourself and your children forever more.

      • Deborah, this is beautiful. I never read anything that so fittingly described the process we go through to recover, the process is incredible and at times bewildering, but in the end we are back to the person our exes tried to rob us of, the kind, loving and strong women (or men) we were meant to be.

        • Deborah, I also was really angry at myself for sacrificing so much for my marriage. It still makes me mad when I think about it. Sometimes I think I was more angry at myself than I was with him.

          • Thanks Kelly and Lyn,
            I wrote this because in the beginning, I had no idea how to process or deal with the trauma. I had never seen or experienced anything like this and didn’t have the tools to know how to handle it. It was a day to day struggle even with therapy.

            I wish I had a guideline or step by step process from someone who had been through it to help me, so I wrote my experience for Peace Seeker.

            The upside is I am much more emotionally intelligent about myself now and oddly more empathetic to others and open. Yet, my boundaries are so crystal clear and firm.

            Above all else, I quickly can make decisions when dating now as to what will work for me and what will not and what is acceptable behavior and what is not. My confidence and my gut is stronger than ever and knowing what I don’t want is helping me get closer to finding out what I do want. Not just in a relationship with someone else but with myself. Others don’t really effect me so much anymore as I really am getting to know who I am deep inside and I am not so hard on myself anymore.

            Thanks Peace Seeker because you helped me put into words what I felt as I was going through the process and where I feel I am now which in turn helped me!

            • Me too Deborah, unlike what I expected, I am very calm, self assured, and definitive about people and my choices now. I make gut-level decisions with relatively little agonizing or second guessing. I feel like I understand myself and I understand the world around me, something I obviously did not fully do before. And yes, I empathize so much more with others who have suffered, whether from cheating or some other problem. I feel like I can instantly feel and understand what they are going through. (Hey, our experiences must’ve heightened our spidey-senses!). (((Hugs)))

  • I’m worried about the “friends” that no longer think you are a good fit in their social circle. These people were clearly never genuine friends, and it sounds like you have been living in hell. Think for a moment on this: Would you ever treat a person that you care about in this manner? No, right? Me neither. Seek out compassionate people and be a friend to them. Maybe this awful experience with your creep of a husband can serve to push you into a community that is worthy of you.

  • After describing years of STBX wife’s gaslighting, projecting, devaluing and cheating, I had an awesome therapist who said to me “SOMEONE needs to get angry and indignant for the apallling way that your wife has mistreated you…and I can’t do it for you!”
    I decided then that , if this neutral stranger was willing to feel so strongly on my behalf, then I owed it to ME to feel as deeply…I reminded myself that I am responsible for maintaining my own value and worth.
    Peace Keeper…I wish for you that you find your own Peace and Self-Enlightenment that you so deeply deserve. Love yourself in spite of *his* incapacity to recognize your incredible gifts to his selfish world.

    • PS, I’ve been just where you are. I couldn’t get mad at my ex for the longest time. My senses were dull, I didn’t trust my intuition. I couldn’t feel anger. After getting involved in therapy and learning to love and value myself more than him I started to get well. And boy, I got angry! It was an emotion I was very uncomfortable with, had grown up suppressing, but when it ignited it took a long time to burn out. I rode the energy of that anger to break free and create a new life for myself. My heart goes out to you and I pray you find a good counselor to help you. Enlist the help of a church pastor, join a divorce support group, you will find others who are further along the journey to help you. Al Anon is also a good group to join.

      • Lyn, I had that same problem.

        My therapist kept telling me I needed to really get angry at him. My dad kept saying, “Get your anger up, it’s much more productive than your sadness.”

        I knew they were right, but the anger wasnt there.

        A few months down the road from D-Day, I had a call from one of my ex’s best friends. I’ve always considered this guy a bit creepy and arrogant…. I guess like attracts like.

        Anyway, he felt the need to talk to me about how he and another friend of my husband’s had felt awful about my ex’s behavior… that they had spent many a day telling him if he couldn’t keep it in his pants, then he should at least do the right thing and set me free.

        These two guys were in Thailand with my husband on his many forays there for sex, so they are not blameless. At least they are both single, and are entitled to behave that way if they choose. This guy basically used the “bros before hos” defense, as an excuse for why they never said anything. And he did apologize for always being so quiet around me, because he felt so awkward about it.I had noticed this quietness, but actually thought they didn’t like me much. Actually, they were just in an awkward situation because of my husband’s behavior.

        More importantly is the closure that his account of the experience gave me. Something I could never hope to get from my narcissist husband.

        He told me of my husband’s incredibly huge sex drive. Of course this was news to me, given how little he was interested in sex with me. It confirmed the notion of him being a sex addict.

        He told me of trips to strip clubs… something that my husband always said he didn’t understand why men did.

        Basically, if my husband called it absurd and he didn’t understand why men were like that, it was a cover-up and that’s exactly what my ex was doing.

        It spoke to deliberate intention to hide and cover things up from me… confirmation of which i’d never really had before.

        I think, even presented with some of the facts about recent hook ups with girls, I still doubted that my ex was the evil, deliberate kind of lying, narcissistic sex maniac that he actually is… and this friend of his put everything in much better perspective.

        This guy had called me that day, because a mutual friend of ours had died.

        I am very unfortunately still living in the same house as the ex…lawyers want me to stay put until settlement.

        When he got home from wherever he was that day (I could take 3 guesses… but what’s the point), he could see I was upset.

        He thought it was because this friend had died.

        While I WAS upset about that, the anger I was expressing was more about what I’d learned of my ex’s true nature, from this friend.

        He walked past me, started to open his mouth, and I said, “Don’t you dare talk to me unless it’s logistically necessary.” He started to open his mouth again. I said, “ahhh… I said no. Now get out!”He actually backed away like a scolded dog.

        It was the first time I treated him like the dog he is, and it felt good.

        It was at that point, that I thought how much sense it makes to take a cue from The Dog Whisperer, and actually treat him like a bad dog, so that’s how I handle that now.

        I wish we could all find a magical elf like the one who came to me and described first hand my husband’s behavior. It was so helpful.

        I am starting to open to the world around me, and I spend as little time exposed to him as possible, even while living in the same house.It feels like the drug I used to crave now makes me feel a bit ill when i’m around it. I take this as a good sign.

        Everyone is right… no matter how much we want to wake up one day and have the nightmare be over, it just doesn’t work that way. People kept telling me, “It’s a process”, until I wanted to scream. But it IS a process, and the more you go with that and let it happen, the better off you are.

        I just wish someone could explain the Al-anon thing to me. Yes, i’m addicted to my narc husband, but I actually have a good friend who is an alcoholic, and goes to Al-anon… and all the people in her group seem to use it as an excuse to have easy sex, and nothing else… which is just another form of addiction, and quite frankly, not one I’m so fond of these days, given the husband’s sex addiction.It seems opportunistic to me, rather than helpful and healing.

  • Dear Peace Seeker,
    Please listen to Chump Lady!
    Go No contact! Find a good therapist that will really listen and pay attention to you and mostly will give you tools on how to deal with your pain and teach you techniques like meditation, biofeedback.
    But until you find the therapist, read this blog and start reading “Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft. Get it from the library. It will help you understand what happened to you and why it so hard for you to break free.

    • And if you want to buy it (and support the blog), it’s for sale in the Amazon box there to the right.

      Good point, Artemis — no contact is essential to clear your head. I would guess this 11 month separation has been a physical, but not mental separation. Control freak abusers rarely let go completely.

  • PS – Follow CL’s advice. Get some counseling, get a lawyer and get ANGRY. I was just like you. I held it all together to keep our family intact. Speaking from experience, it is not worth it. All it did was show my sons what a dysfuntional family looks like and how some men believe that disrespecting their wives is normal. I left when my oldest was 12 hoping I had spared him from modeling his dad. He’s now 15 and I struggle to make him see that his dad is not normal.

    I did everything I could to please him. I held my tongue, I backed down constantly. I never said anything that I thought would set him off. If I did I would be subjected to a screaming, cursing tirade in front of the kids or a silence that would last for weeks. Walking on eggshells so as not to set him off sucked for both me and the kids. NOT a healthy way to live.

    All the while he had started an emotional affair with a co worker which had led to a physical relationship which he denied. But I had the proof. Then he did as yours telling me I was crazy I didn’t know what I was talking about, etc. It’s called gaslighting. These manipulators are very good at it it.

    I went to counseling to fix our marriage. Notice I said “I went to fix”. He refused to go because there wasn’t anything wrong with our marriage.

    PS – get yourself to counseling. I guarantee that after a few sessions you will begin to get angry. You’ll see just what he has done to you. You will realize that you have been held down so long that you don’t know how to take care of yourself. In my case I didn’t even recognize who I had become. I was some scared little mouse in the corner of the room willing to accept any little morsel of cake he would toss my way. That made me ANGRY. That got me motivated.

    I continued counseling. I got a lawyer and I started saving. I told my closest friends and family what I was dealing with. I made arrangements to move myself and the kids in with my mom. The day he received the divorce papers he looked at me and said why didn’t you talk to me about this first? WTF?

    3 years later, the kids and I are much happier. The divorce is still not final – has to do with his needing to control me. I continue to fight him. But at least I don’t have to deal with him daily. I can hang up on him when he starts screaming at me on the phone. I don’t need to answer his texts.

    PS – its up to you to make your life better. You can do it. Stand up for yourself and get angry! Your kids will thank you for doing it too!

  • CL, this is brilliant, perhaps your best yet! The healing and energizing power of anger, sometimes I forget that I still need this.

    P.S. Don’t let this motherfucker win. Fight for the value of yourself and your children. YOU do not want him, POS loser that he is, or any loser enabler “friends”. You are better than all of them, grab your life by the ass. Why we “miss” them remains a mystery, but every time I slip the anger (and CL) brings me home. (((Hugs)))

  • Peace Seeker, I’m so sorry to hear everything you’re going through. While my situation is different, I am still the one left with the little kids to pick up the pieces. I went through really dark days…I mean REALLY dark. I think many of us did. Please don’t give up hope. Like CL said, get angry and stand up for yourself! Don’t let him win…your sanity and your health depend on it. I have started to have some health problems because of all this stress and it was finally a wake up call for me to become stronger and not take anymore of his shit. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have benefits anymore so counseling in now out of the question, but I highly recommend it if you can go. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without this site. It’s a comfort to know you’re not alone and get advice from others. Keep reading these stories and hang in there. It will get better. Hugs to you.

  • PS, ChumpLady is right; this is abuse. You have been systematically abused for over 12 years.

    You want to know what to do to repair yourself? See a therapist experienced in the area of domestic abuse. Ask for referrals from the local women’s shelter.

    CL is right; you need to get angry. For 12 years, you could not. Instead you coped by distancing yourself from what was happening by turning yourself into an observer. Therapy will help you learn to feel again, and I guarantee that once you start to feel, you will feel angry, and it will be scary. Therapy can help you with that, too.

    Do NOT get back together with this man. The best thing he’s done for you is to leave you with the kids. This is the best thing he’s done for the kids, too. Children need to see emotionally healthy relationships. Go see how many of us either have come from families where there has been dysfunction or our cheating spouses came from dysfunctional families. You children need to be away from the crazy.

    Get your kids into therapy, too. They, too, are abuse survivors.

    Then call the lawyer. See several so that you can find out who will fight best for you and the children. Sadly, most states don’t give a fig for infidelity. They may be interested in the abuse, which is why you need the therapist, why your kids need therapy. This is all part of the documentation. You do NOT want this man as a co-parent, not if you can help it.

    A really good lawyer may also have some ideas of how you can get a better deal than the typical 50% split.

    Join an an abuse survivors group. You need to be with people who know what you’re going through. Together, you’ll stay strong and resist the temptation to return to your abuser.

    Good luck, and please keep us posted!

  • Peace Seeker, please be careful. My ex used to rage on me as well and although at the times I didn’t realize it, those rages were enough to keep me in line. My fear of him was totally submerged in my subconscious because over time the rages became normalized. Thing is, abusive people are controlling and when they see they are losing control and what worked on you before no longer works, they tend to escalate. When I told my ex we were divorcing his rage escalated to physical violence and it kept escalating when I didn’t back down. My intuition was so smothered that I really believed he would never actually hurt me; until he did it.

    The book recommended above is very good, another book that helped me was “Gift of Fear”. The biggest thing it did was allow me to get back in touch with my intuition. I also took the MOSAIC survey, it assesses whether a situation has the combination of factors that are associated with escalated risk and danger, it may help you: https://www.mosaicmethod.com/ My ex rated a 9 of 10 when I took the survey just 3 weeks before he nearly shot me.

    Therapy really helped me and I hope you will see someone. The best counselor I saw was at the local Women’s Abuse Shelter. They provided 10 free sessions, check around your area because many of the shelters provide free or reduced cost therapy. It will get better, I know what it’s like to love an abusive man. It took a lot to get past that but you can do it and there is no shame in seeking help. ((jedi hugs))

  • I’d like to second wuf’s recommendations. Peace, your story sounds so much like mine. I am sort of separated from my husband now, but he is doing his best to hoover me back in. I don’t feel like I am strong enough to stand up to him, but day by day I am. My anger has just worn itself out, but that gave me a lot of strength. I have connected with a domestic violence agency, and it was the best thing I could possibly do. They give me counseling, a support group, and a lot of other assistance, and it is all free. Start with the national hotline to get a local referral.

  • Peace, your ex is a classic abuser and a MONSTER. He broke you down to nothing, so you can’t see it right now, but the ONLY good thing that demon ever did is leave. You can live again, and reclaim your life, but it sure is hard, there’s no denying that.

    Please call whatever local domestic violence/women’s services group is in your area, and ask about:
    1. attorney experienced in dealing with abusers/NPD
    2. counseling services for abused women
    3. immediate help in getting government assistance, such as food stamps, welfare, etc., if needed

    You need an attorney ASAP, and you need a therapist who is very experienced in helping abuse survivors. Your future is not dim. Your future is very bright, but to see that shining sun, you have to get out of the dark hell your ex beat you into.

    Hugs to you.

  • I know how badly it hurts when after enduring years of abuse, blameshifting and gaslighting for the sake of keeping a marriage and family together, it all comes crashing down anyway. But you know what? Its actually a blessing in disguise. It hurts, almost unbearably some times. So you think, well maybe if we get back together this crushing pain will stop. Here is the thing, the pain might seem to ease or even disappear – for a little while. Then it all starts back up again, and you are right back in this cesspool of lies and bullshit. I was with my now ex-husband for 21 years, and when I caught him screwing around for the 4th time, and finally got good and pissed off, I starting taking steps to divorce him and though it has been a long, stress-filled road and Ive cried and wrestled with lots of self doubt – I can honestly say that no matter how much I hurt or how sad I was or how dark things seemed, I have not had one day since he left that was worse when we were together and I knew that he was with another woman.

    It does get better. The pain does start to ease up as you heal, life gets easier when you find your footing again, and it really really is better when you can trust yourself again. That is probably what I regret the most, that I let him abuse me until I didnt trust my own instincts or even what I saw with my own two eyes. It got me so twisted up that I started to think I was going crazy. You will be happy again, it just takes time. Find a good therapist, find a good lawyer, and know that life does indeed go on. And when you find peace and happiness you will look back and think “What the hell was wrong with me to tolerate that kind of shit for so long?”.

    Trust that he sucks massively!!!

    Trust that you deserve way WAY better. Being on your own is still a 1000 times better than being treated the way he treated you.

    • Well said, Angie. I kept on taking back the cheater ex because it would alleviate the pain … temporarily, of course, and then it would start all over again. I am now nearly a year from the final DDay and I wish I left him a lot sooner! Nowadays, whenever he comes to mind, I think, “Why did I put up with all that crap for so long?” I cannot even relate anymore to the woman that used to be the me that tolerated the emotional abuse.

  • “You lose your senses. I mean that in the mental health way — it drives you crazy. And I mean that in the physical way — you lose your ability to FEEL. Pain is telling us something — it’s saying FIGHT or FLEE.”

    My heart aches for you. So many of us have been where you are. It’s taken me almost five years to admit out loud that my exH abused me. I was embarrassed, when the shame should have been his. It didn’t start right away, but he did so many of the things you described – isolating, not allowing contact with his friends/co-workers, screaming, raging. I was repeatedly called stupid, pathetic, and crazy. I told myself that the fact he choked me, slammed my head into walls, and spit on me and our baby daughter wasn’t abusive – because he never “hit” me.

    It’s the stages of grief – you’ll have the disbelief, the doubt, and the anger will come. Use it. Be angry for the years and the life he STOLE from you. Then use that anger to redefine the future for the kids and you. My now 11 year old daughter just admitted to me last week that she remembers her dad grabbing me by the hair and pounding my head into the car door – while I was driving with her in the back seat. She was 4. I thought that he left before she was old enough to remember any of it. You’ve been given a gift – but it won’t feel like that for awhile. Surround yourself with good, safe people. This is a good place to start. Don’t ever go back.

  • Peace, there is so much good advice here — I would only add that after TWELVE YEARS of solid stress from this abuse that you are probably physiologically beat down as well as psychologically beat down. See if you can’t find a good naturopath to help you build yourself back up. (Regular MDs will just want to give you a pharmaceutical for depression) If you feel better, you can fight better. Start with lots of Vitamin C and B vitamins. There is so much good information on the internet these days if you can’t find someone to help in your neck of the woods.

    My ex got his male chauvinist pig attitudes from his father. My ex MIL was never in very good health and was too worn out to do anything but put up with it, even when her kids were gone and she got a great job on her own and out earned the rat bastard. It drove her daughters nuts that she wouldn’t leave. The ex (only son) had no respect for her, considering the way he was trained to view her as a doormat. When I finally figured out how I was going to be treated as I got older is when I finally started sticking up for myself. Project yourself a little into the future with this situation, realize that it’s going nowhere good, and start making your moves, even if you can’t get the fire of ANGRY just yet.

    • Those thoughts entered my head, too. I knew exactly how the years were going to play out, just like X’s parents life had! His Mom used to actually call me crying, saying her H wouldn’t let her retire, she had to work a few more years, when she was already 72. I remembered that conversation when my X gave excuses why, after 3 years, he still wasn’t working! He stopped working almost exactly the same age as his Dad. It drove me nuts, ruined every day pretty much. He would lay around, watch TV, cook, listen to music, hardly ever get dressed- just like his father! I’m proud of myself for getting away, so that my MIL’s fate would not be my fate, too. Calling my kids, crying, broke, with X lounging around like the king of Crazytown.

    • Oh, and this week I started the 101 reasons I don’t want him back list, suggested by another Chump. It’s kind of fun, I’m up to # 17, and I can look at it anytime I feel nostalgic for the old days! It’s a great exercise on letting go ( and seeing things for how they REALLY were).

  • “He demanded I seek therapy for my issues or he would leave. I was a psycho bloodsucking-bitch. This was my life for 12 years.”

    WTF? YOU were the psycho? HELL TO THE NO!

    Peace Seeker,

    Please listen to CL.

    It would be completely self-destructive for you to ever entertain any notions of reconciliation with someone who could emotionally abuse you and the children so terribly.

    You describe abuse that no one should have to tolerate. CL has a saying, “Trust that they suck.” He sucks! Life is too short to live with someone like that.

    The population of this earth is approximately 8 Billion people and HE is ONLY ONE of them. Shed him like a snake sheds last year’s skin, and find a better class of humans with whom to associate.

    GET ANGRY and USE that anger to fight for yourself and your children.

    We can promise you that once you begin to stand up for yourself you will begin to regain your self-respect. We can also promise that once you start to take good care of yourself, you will begin to heal and find peace.

    Best of luck to you.

  • PK, Anger is the most useful emotion during chumpdom; do not dismiss the power you can gain by experiencing and recognizing righteous anger and disbursing it regularly to the EX and in other situations where you have been dismissed over the years, eg, those loser friends.
    I found a good therapist who listened to me cry, choke on my tears and rant like an angry badger for weeks and weeks before she even uttered one word. She knew I needed to process my anger in a safe place. On my own time, I made anger my BFF. If had an angry emotion or experienced a trigger I acknowledged, even if just to myself, the deep wounds and sadness I had experienced and how unfair it was and damaged and discarded I felt as a result. I facilitated conversations with my kids about their anger and betrayal and helped them understand that they were okay for feeling it and expressing it, especially to their dad, which they did.
    So help your kids express their own anger and frustration, even if it comes out as blame for you, acknowledge their feelings. Reframe the things that are not your fault and provide a safe environment for truth and reality to be expressed about your EX. You don’t want your kids in marriages like that, start emoting now and allow them to see you transition to a position of power.
    And remember, feelings are like taxes, they will not go away just because one ignores their existence. They build up ferociously with heavy penalties in the end.

  • PeaceSeeker,

    What happened to you is nearly identical to what happened to me. The only difference is I never married my ex and we (thank goodness) did not have kids together.

    But the abuse, the blame-shifting, the crazy making, the making plans with friends without even asking if I wanted to come along, the coming home late, yeah. That sounds all too familiar to me.

    My ex moved in with me and my parents because it was closer to our community college campus (his parents were an hour drive.) He was there for 2 years. During that time, he would spend less and less time doing things with me (even my mom started to notice and she said “You used to do things all the time.”) and more often he’d either be sitting on his ass in front of his computer, playing a video game, or going out with this friends. He wouldn’t invite me, or when he did, it would either be REALLY late at night or off to do something that he knew I didn’t want to do, or when I had to work the next morning. He’d go out, promising to call me if they decided to do something else, but he’d either not call, or would call at like, 1 in the morning and invite me out, after I was already in bed (sometimes I got up, but often I didn’t.)

    Then he’d come home at like, 3, 4 am. I would ask him what took him so long and he would just say “Oh, we decided to do something else.” Of course, I would mention that he promised to CALL if he was going to do that. At which point, he would get REALLY defensive. He would accuse me of not wanting him to have any friends. He would say things like “WHY DON’T YOU JUST SAY WHAT I KNOW YOU’RE IMPLYING HUH?!” Like challenging me to actually accuse him of cheating. I wanted to, but I was afraid. It scared me every time he challenged me like that. I became afraid of voicing my feelings.

    If he wasn’t angrily challenging me, or accusing me of trying to cut him off from friends, it was the crocodile tears. The “Oh you know I love you!” kind of pity party to make me feel bad for even THINKING that he might be doing something underhanded. That too, made me afraid to voice my true feelings.

    Eventually he just skipped on the accusations and pity parties altogether and just got angry and stonewalled me. He started telling me things like “You don’t need to talk to my friends.” He was accumulating a LOT of new internet friends and in-person friends that he never allowed me to meet. And he had no other explanation than just “you don’t need to be talking to them.” He would go into the room with his computer to masturbate by himself and he told me that I wouldn’t be allowed in with him because it was “his time.” Even though whenever I wanted to masturbate, he would waltz in at his leisure. I can remember occasions when I was laying in bed by myself and he’d just shove his dick into me without even asking. …Sometimes I wasn’t even pleasuring myself. He’d just come in and do it. (I had told him I would like him to come and romantically whisk me away. …I guess that was his idea of “romantically whisking” me. …Not really what I had in mind.)

    He was also a porn addict. Every time I tried to talk to him about how inadequate porn made me feel, he would brush me aside. Or he’d say something like “Well, I can’t snuggle porn or love porn, so it’s not a threat.” But it totally was. I knew it was. But every time, he would minimize my feelings, or just straight up ignore them. It became a losing battle.

    I eventually just receded into myself. I started to believe him when he called me “Poor stupid Kara.” I internalized his blame-shifting and his crazy-making and I started to think of myself as a controlling nag. I stopped trying to express my feelings or communicate. I was emotionally starved, physically starved (sex was never the way I wanted it. Always the way HE wanted and when HE wanted it. Sex was defined by HIS whims and desires. Never mine.) I had begun to believe him when he told me I was crazy.

    That’s when I finally attempted suicide…which failed. And he LEFT me the very night of my failed attempt. He said that I was “unpredictable” and he just couldn’t deal with that. Real standup guy, eh? The man who was supposed to love me left. Guess who WAS there? My best friend. Who had always been there. SHE was there.

    But his abuse didn’t stop there. A bunch of his stuff was left at my house, which meant further contact. We didn’t go NC, even though I totally should have. Because if abusers think they can control you more from a distance, they will. He would text me, telling me he still loved me, he wanted me to be happy and that I could still call him my boyfriend blah, blah. But when I would go to see him at work or meet up or something, he wouldn’t want to, or he would say “You just have to get used to not seeing me.” Back and forth from “I love you” to “You can’t see me.”

    That’s when I found his OW. I discovered this girl the very night I had actually asked him if he was into someone else. He had looked me straight in the eye and said he was not. I found her that morning. And believe me, I was screaming at him on the phone at 7 am. I didn’t care if I woke up my parents. All those emotions and feelings I had stuffed down and locked up and pushed aside came flooding out of me. I yelled. And yelled and yelled at him. I don’t even remember everything I said. I just remember the yelling. He lied to me and said he’d only been with her for a few weeks. But he was dumb enough to post an anniversary date on his social network. He’d been with her for a whole month at that point.

    My therapist told me that yes, he was cheating. He was telling me he still loved me, telling me I could still call him my boyfriend, still texting me, but he was fucking this whore behind my back. That’s cheating. ….And I think it was at that point that I finally started to let go. I stopped talking to him. Stopped texting. Stopped responding to his texts.

    ….5 months after that I met my husband. <3

    All of this was about 5 years ago. Relatively short time. About 2 years ago I found out about ALL the other girls he was fucking behind my back. The last girl that I found was not the only one. There had been about 5 others throughout our relationship. One of which was a guy.

    I know this is getting really long, but the point is, my instincts were RIGHT. I wasn't crazy, I didn't imagine things, I wasn't controlling. I WAS RIGHT.

    And so are you. YOU WERE RIGHT. Your instincts were RIGHT. YOU WEREN'T CRAZY! Every time you thought he was cheating, when you suspected him, when you confronted him, YOU. WERE. RIGHT.

    And he was afraid of you. Yeah, that sounds weird, but he was afraid of YOU. Because YOU COULD BLOW HIS COVER. You had seen through it and you could blast a hole in his hidden life. Which is why he shouted you down and made you shrink away from yourself. Because he was afraid of the blowback you could cause.

    It was the same with my ex. After finally letting go, guess what I did? I SANG LIKE A MOTHERFUCKING BIRD! I blasted that hole in his hidden life. I revealed ALL that shit. Boy did he not like THAT…

    But you need to do the same thing. Take a cannon to his secrets. Get that lawyer to slap him with those divorce papers. Use every ounce of evidence you have to legally bleed him dry.

    I believe in you.

    • Thanks for sharing all this, Kara. So much of it resonates with me (as do RedefiningMe’s experiences). Thanks to all the chumps for sharing!

      And I, too, am so glad to be finally free. Separated for a few months, divorce in process (and protection order in place!) but even with all that stress – it’s already better. PS, you will make it, too! The chumps are right that you need to reframe your whole experience (and I know how hard that is).

      Today I wrote a long list of all the things I’m enjoying in my new life. (For example, when we leave the house and one of the children has forgotten something, I can just cheerfully reply, “No problem! We’ll just go back and get it.” No raging, no sulking, no refusing to go back.) I titled that list, “Open in case of regrets.” It’s helpful to see all those very tangible ways our lives are better now.

    • Great advice Kara. I also discovered my intuition was right. For years he made me feel like I was crazy, overly jealous, and insecure. One big lesson I’ve learned from all this is to trust my gut and honor what it’s trying to tell me. Ignoring it is to abandon yourself.

    • Lyn, I liked that line “You have to walk through the fire of grief.” So true. And it made me think of what I probably read here or somewhere…no way out but through….

  • I’m so sorry for your Pain Peace Seeker. I know exactly what you are going through. I have been separated from my STBX for over a year now and sometimes I feel like there will never be any peace for me and that I will always grieve. We were married 21 years. You are not alone. I hope you can feel at ease soon enough.

  • I needed to read this today. Occasionally, I have light bulb moments of searing insight post-divorce. This morning, something “clicked” and it occurred to me that he was sleeping around while we were dating. Little things that did not add up but seemed innocuous. Today, they all pointed in one direction.

    • Yes! I had the same light bulb moment recently. I had “forgotten” (i.e. repressed/stuffed inside/ignored) the fact that my Ex had cheated on me while we were dating. Not a “got drunk with his buddies one-night stand” either but an elaborately planned romantic weekend away with his Ex-girlfriend that involved plane tickets and hotel reservations, etc. All while we were in a committed relationship. My spidey-sense had told me something was up – I snooped in his room the morning before he was to leave for his supposed fishing trip with his former college buddies – and found the plane ticket (this was back in the olden days of paper tickets) and “love letter” from her detailing their perfect little trip. Of course, I broke up with him. Of course, I took him back after he got home and called with his “I now realize you are the one…I had to spend this one last time with her to make sure…you were wrong to be snooping…you can’t be trusted because you went through my things…etc.” Of course I felt guilty for being a snoop and took him back. Of course he broke up with me a few months later saying “I love you but I’m not in love with you…” Of course I cried and he took me back because he “decided I needed him and we were good together.” Of course I was surprised when after 20 years of marriage and two children he said “I love you but I’m not…” and then left for the apartment he had rented months ago and the bank accounts he had set up months ago and the woman who he just happened to start dating immediately after he left. Of course…

      • I had a click moment like that too. When he was still living with us, I had found a pair of black lace underwear in his room that wasn’t mine. The room he was in used to be my sister’s, so I thought they might have been hers left behind when she moved out.

        They weren’t hers.

        They weren’t my mom’s.

        After I found out about all the OW, it clicked in my head that yeah, they’d been left behind…but not by anyone I knew.

          • Either he brought one of them to have sex in my parent’s house, or he brought them home as a trophy from one of them. Either way, it’s a low level of pure slime.

  • Some wise person on this site once said:
    “How can you tell if someone is an asshole? They act like an asshole.”

  • Peace Seeker, the word “no” is not a curse word. It stops behaviors that are wrong. You should have said years ago that it wasn’t ok for him to stay out all night, or keep you isolated or any other demeaning act. You have the right to say no to him and mean it. Get a sob of a lawyer. Ask around, get some ideas from the chumps but get you a good lawyer. Learn that no one should ever make you feel less than you are. If necessary practice by yourself but you need to get comfortable with saying what you feel and sticking to it. Right now you may be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. A psychologists once told a friend of mine that it so easy to drive someone crazy. Too easy. All you have to do it change your behavior every day to keep them off balance and they will begin to question their own sanity. Spouses to this and parents as well. Sounds like he did a number on you. Say no. Mean it and get going.

  • Peace Seeker,

    I had a visceral reaction when I read your post today. It seems like each day for the past 2-3 weeks, CL has posted things on this blog that have caused knots in my stomach because they hit so close to home. After reading your post, I almost burst into tears at work. CL’s response is the best therapeutic advice I’ve heard, and I’ve been in therapy for 7 months. I got into therapy because when I left my STBX the pain was so great, I was seriously considering suicide.

    Your husband is an incredibly selfish, self-absorbed, character-disordered abusive piece of hyena shit – and that’s an insult to hyena shit. Please read Lundy Bancroft’s book. I read it and recognized my relationship and the entire structure of my family – and my STBX never hit me, not physically. However, if you could take a picture of the damage that had been done to me on the inside by the 20 plus years of psychological and emotional abuse, it would look like the healed-over scars that are depicted on the backs of slaves. You have not only been abused, but more importantly, you need to recognize your husband is an abuser.

    It is very difficult to break away from these people – it is a physical ache. You have received intermittent conditioning. It is like going to Vegas and putting money in the slot machine – you win just enough to keep you sitting there continuing to put your money into the machine with the hope that you will win again. Abusers do the same thing to keep you hooked. He is not going to change. He will only continue to hurt you. The pain you are feeling now is actually finite. If you go back to him, you will be in pain for the duration of your relationship with him.

    Do what CL says – get angry, righteously angry. Throughout your relationship, when you have become angry he has probably become intimidating or delegitimized your anger so you probably felt there was something wrong with you if you became angry. You probably don’t even understand your true thoughts or feelings anymore.

    Do what everyone says – call a domestic abuse hotline, get into therapy, get angry, get a lawyer, etc. That flaming turd from Satan’s ass, formerly known as your husband, does not deserve you and never has. You haven’t lost anything that most people don’t simply scrape off their shoe when they step in it. I know you can’t see it now – I struggle with it still – but trust that it is so.

    We are all here for you. Try to be there for yourself and yourself. You can do this. (((HUGS)))

  • Wow oh wow… My heart goes out to you Peace Seeker!!! You have lived my life. I’m 2 and a half years down the track from when the lying cheating selfish twat walked out of my life to be with one of his “friends” and yes there have been many many over the years. Coffees, nights out, not coming home, bites on his neck and always it was put back on me. Told me nothing happened. He would always be doing his own thing, always have women on the side, never wanted to be part of my life or the kids. I lived exactly like you. I never said anything, he beat me down so badly, told me everything was my fault and to get over it and deal with it. The more it happened the more I thought I wasn’t good enough, I should try harder to be a better wife, a better mother. I crumbled into a big heap the day he left, begged him not to go blah blah blah… Hindsight is an amazing thing.

    2 and a half years on (it has taken a lot to get to this point), I feel free, free of a prick of a man who was so selfish. Free to be me. I’m proud of me, proud of my accomplishments, proud to call myself a great mum and a great person. Now I have hope and a future. A future to find somebody who respects me and treats me as I deserve to be treated. You deserve every happiness and so utterly deserve it. Do not hope that this man (I use that term loosely, men do not treat women like this) is ever going to change, He never will. Focus on being the best person you can. Take you values, your hope and your happiness forward with you, for you and your beautiful kids. Sending you huge hugs and know there is light at the end of that tunnel.

  • Thank you, everyone, for your advice. Thank you, Chump Lady, for giving me a voice on your forum. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the kindness and support you’ve all offered. In many ways I’ve been leading a secret life, trying to hide from friends and family what was happening in my marriage. From an outsider’s perspective I’m fairly certain that I appear(ed) unscathed, even competent and happy. He and I put on a very good show. I’ve lied and covered up for him countless times. I’ve been responsible for, and perpetuated the lies (the cover up) that allowed him to get away with his behaviors. My birthday? Yes! He was wonderful, made me breakfast, brought me flowers … when, in fact, he would refuse to make eye-contact with me, much less say the words “happy birthday.” He would become angry when I was sick, when the kids cried after hurting themselves, when anyone showed vulnerability or any emotion that was not in keeping with his expectations. He was a monster, to be sure, even without the cheating. And yet. I do know intellectually that I should not get back together with him but there is still a pull. I guess it’s hope that he will change, a change that I know he is incapable of achieving. I do plan on getting professional help to get through this. And I know my kids need it, too. He has mistreated them as well – told them lies, degraded them, called them names (fucking asshole, fucker, bastard, bitch, etc., etc.). We are all damaged. I’ve been passive. The fight and anger will come. Frankly, I’m incredibly embarrassed that I endured this hell for so long. Thank you, all, again.

    • Don’t feel embarrassed. Anyone who would tell you that’s something to be embarrassed about just doesn’t understand.

      I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I put on the same smiling face too. The whole “Oh, but he’s not like that all the time!” the “He did THIS for me on THIS day!” clinging to any tiny little thing that seemed nice. But don’t let yourself get bogged down in that. It just ends up being another way to kick yourself when you’re already down.

      Keep being strong.

    • PS, check out outofthefog.net — it’s a wonderful resource on personality disorders. Your husband (I hope soon to be ex) sounds like a narcissist, NPD. Perhaps sociopath. It helped me a tremendous amount to learn about PDs, to go OMG, other people experience this same phenomenon. I’m not a shrink, I’m a blogger — but these people are of a type. Do some reading and see if it helps. And do hang out here for support. We’ve been there. No need to be embarrassed, you’re among chump friends here!

      • OH YES!!! When I learnt about Narcissists it is a huge light bulb moment… Your husband sounds he fits it down to a “T”….

      • Your comments were spot on in terms of what I was doing. I was, indeed, always trying to manage him – still am in some ways, so that he remains relatively tame and treats the kids nicely. I don’t know how to deal with him in terms of the kids. I’m trying to make it amicable to save them from more suffering, but this requires more managing (of him) from me. Is there a way around this?

        Your advice, along with all of the other comments, is inspiring (to say the least). Finally people know and understand. What a huge relief.

        • The best thing I have found is to cut as much contact as possible. Make set arrangements around the kids. Only text if necessary. Detach yourself from him in every way possible. Have court orders set in place of who has the kids when. Your kids will grow up to be stronger when they see you strong. I tried for a long time to get my twat of an ex to be a good father, to do the right thing even for the kids… he never has been a good father and never will be. Even when his son was seriously ill in hospital, he did not once come to visit him. He said he was away working. I learnt that he wasn’t he was 10 minutes away with her. He sees them about once a month or so now. If he demands to see the kids, and if it does suit, I say no. No reasons, no justifying why. Just no. I ignore the abuse that has followed. That’s his problem not mine. I take no ownership in anything about him now. If he doesn’t want to be a good father and have a positive impact in his kids lives, too bad. I will never change that. I will always be there for my kids in every capacity. I love my kids with all my heart and tell them everyday. They know this as well. We are the three amigos.

        • PS,

          I am reading a book right now entitled, “Enough About You, Let’s Talk About Me,” by Dr. Les Carter. It explains narcissists and narcissistic beliefs and behaviors extremely well. What it also does is provides tips on how to manage your own behavior and responses in dealing with them because their behavior isn’t going to change. It has actually put me in a relatively peaceful space while reading it – so much so that I plan on re-reading it. He has a little religious stuff in there, but whether you believe that or not, it does not detract from the book and the message. It may provide you with some helpful information on how to change some of your thinking and behaviors that may be counter-productive to your healing. It specifically addresses how to stop trying to manage unmanageable people.

        • Right now, you may be “managing” him in order to ensure he plays nice with the kids, but frankly, any father who calls his children “fucking asshole, fucker, bastard, bitch, etc., etc.” is such a low life that he should not be allowed to see the kids. My parents never allowed us to call each other any sort of name, and they never called us names, either.

          Talk to an attorney and mention that you are concerned about the way your STBX treats the children. Ask what kinds of documentation you need in order to get sole legal and physical custody of the children. Again, you may need to take the children in for counseling while you’re going through the process. Ask your local women’s shelter for referrals.

          Hugs to you!

    • You must be strong for your children. You must fight for them. It is not ok that anyone talks to your kids like that. It is time to put your boots on and end the abuse–if not for you, then for them.

    • Peacekeeper, the pull you feel is similar to addiction. You can kick it. I know exactly what you’re talking about and it’s awful to endure the intensity of that pull, but the longer you go no contact the better perspective you will have. Whenever I would get the urge to contact and seek comfort from the very person who had hurt me so deeply I would ask myself “Is this going to help me, or hurt me?” Almost always the answer was “Hurt me.” That seemed to give me the strength to hold on. In some ways we have to retrain ourselves that we are important and that we deserve our own protection. If you are like me, you were perfectly happy in the past to let him run over you just to keep peace in your family. At some point you have to realize that you, more than anyone else, deserve your own love and affection. And also protection.

  • PS, I have been were you are. Married for 26, betrayed for 23. The only cheating-free years were the first three. I really believed I couldn’t live without him. I spackled so much I no longer knew what was acceptable or not. What are you telling yourself and believing? When I feel pain, I immediately ask myself what I am thinking and are my thoughts true? In my down moments (um, hardly any nowadays), I realize that I’m thinking that I can only be happy with him. And then I challenge that belief. I wasn’t happy with him – he cheated, I did everything to earn his love, walked on eggshells, never felt good enough, constantly felt rejected, became the marriage police – and that’s when I realize the thought is totally not true. Our emotions come from believing our thoughts to be true. Challenge your thoughts with facts, not emotions, not hopium, not wishful thinking, but facts. Re-read your letter to CL over and over. What, in that entire letter, makes you happy? As everyone has pointed out here, leaving is not easy but I can guarantee you it is a lot easier compared to the alternative of getting back to him and getting hurt over and over again. Leaving means you have a chance to have a better life. Staying guarantees pain (I know, I did it). I sought counseling and by the time the third OW rolled around, I was done. No looking back. I re-discovered my worth. Please seek help and know that you do not deserve your a-hole ex. You are so much better off alone and at peace.

  • Oh Peace Seeker!

    I empathize.

    It is a slow process by which they gaslight you and convince you that you are the one with the problem. And heaven forbid you should put up any kind of fight, because the next thing to happen is that they come at you with all their wrath, and it’s scary.

    Listen to CL. It IS emotional abuse.

    My suggestion to you is to go back and read what you wrote about your life with him. As you read it, pretend you are reading someone else’s story. What would you tell that friend about her story when you read what he did? You would tell her he’s an insane asshole, and you need to get yourself away! Truly. Think about it.

    In fact, I found that was one of the things that strengthened me the most. Telling other people. Each time I would recount his abuse, I would recognize just a little bit more how incredibly inappropriate it was. It got my anger up. Anger is a much more useful tool in situations like this than sadness. You will fluctuate between them both, but as my dad kept telling me when I was going through it, “Get your anger up, it is a much stronger position to be in”.

    Also, I would suggest reading the book, “Women who love too much”. You will recognize yourself in there right away. It focusses largely on substance abusers and the dynamic between people with substance abuse partners. That part didn’t work for me the first time through, until I realized that my partner was also a substance abuser… his substance just happened to be sex, and he learned that from his galavanting father, and submissive mother, who was too weak to stand up and do something about it. It is a very good book, and will help you recognize your own self in this and what you are doing to keep yourself trapped.

    Mine was a much more clever sociopath than yours, not nearly as blatant, so it made it hard for me to see him as that sort of entitled pig, that all these cheaters really are. I finally had a long talk with one of his best friends about him the other day. I learned that any of the comments my husband ever made about how men behave, “I don’t know why men have affairs, it would just be too much work, I’d never do that” or “I don’t know why men go to strip clubs, what’s the point of just watching someone dance sexy in front of you without being able to do anything about it”… whenever he made a statement like that, he was actually speaking from experience… the thing he was saying he’d never do was EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING. It was done specifically to increase my recognition of what an honorable guy he was, while all the while, it was TOTAL LIES. It took me ages to accept it… but in the end, acceptance is what you need. Accept he’s an asshole, and move on.

    So it was hard for me, when things went down, to see him as that awful nasty person. But I finally got some proof from a friend of his and learned what an awful cheater and excuse for a human being he was.

    You have done your research. You have those facts in front of you. There was nothing you could have done to change his behavior. Remember that sentence…. THERE WAS NOTHING YOU COULD HAVE DONE TO CHANGE HIS BEHAVIOR. It was not about you. He is wired differently to normal people. He lacks a conscience. He lacks empathy or compassion. It means nothing to him if you feel like shit or have to live your life kow towing to him. It means everything to him to see you suffer… the worse you feel, the better he feels about himself and his tiny, disgusting little penis (sorry, I’m getting carried away here, but really, I’m ANGRY!!!!)

    One suggestion I can make that helped me immensely is to re-read CL’s very well-written article on “Real Remorse vs Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse (GINR)”. You can find it here

    http://chumplady.com/?s=naugahyde

    If yours was like mine, you will look through the list and recognize that he was not sincere about wanting to reconcile with you… well… ever. To me, it sounds like yours didn’t even make that kind of effort… he just wrote you off immediately before you were even married.

    Most of all, MOVE FORWARD. However you have to do that. CL is right. If you haven’t got a lawyer and haven’t started settlement or divorce proceedings, do so now. You will continue to feel as though you want to reconcile until you quit looking backward and start looking forward.

    Trust me, I speak from experience. Even if you don ‘t FEEL like moving forward, make it a mechanical process. Like dieting. You don’t want to, but you know it will be good for you. Have faith in that. Get the lawyer, go through the motions, move towards getting him out of your life.

    The want or need to reconcile is largely motivated by fear. He has whipped you into total dependence on him for so many years, you don’t know how to stand on your own two feet, and so your brain keeps thinking, “Maybe we can reconcile.” As long as you continue to want to go there, you will keep feeling helpless.

    Once you start to move forward, you will have small victories that will remind you of who you were before him, and you will remember that you did just fine on your own. You will re-find yourself.

    Gosh, even a few months ago, people would say things like that to me, and it just sounded like bullshit. But you just have to trust that it’s not. You will get there, but you have to start MOVING FORWARD. Don’t let yourself think back. Don’t let yourself WANT or feel you NEED to go back to him. Just go the other way. When you have thoughts like going back to him, picture a stop sign in your mind. AND JUST STOP.

    Good luck, and hang in there. It is VERY hard, and as people say, it is a PROCESS. You don’t wake up overnight and magically everything is OK. But you will get there, if you move forward.

  • I don’t have much to add to the advice and comments posted. I sincerely hope you get out of this abuse PS. Don’t let him destroy you.

    I was also accused of being controlling and emasculating when I confronted him about my concerns over his drinking, loser friends and hanging out in bars instead of being home with our family. And yes I believed I was those things! It’s only been since I told him I wanted a divorce and that I have gone as no contact as possible that I see how correct my instincts were. He was fucking around! They want you to believe you are crazy. They project and minimize. It’s like these assholes get a copy of the cheaters handbook. Don’t buy into it.

    I’ve just started to trust myself again and stand up for myself. It’s been a long process but if I can do it, so can you. He’s not worth your well-being.

  • OK, am I the only one here who is absolutely, UNBELIEVABLY *ENRAGED* that Peace Seeker’s STBXH fucked her half-sister? Nobody’s even mentioned it in their comments? It’s not just enough that he screwed around on her left and right – anybody’s slimeball ex can do that. No, he had to go and depth-charge the structure of her family! In time, she’ll go NC and once the kids are old enough, she’ll really never have to deal with him again. But a sibling is for life. It’s going to be hard as hell to remain in contact with the rest of her family knowing what they did to her and those children.

    Maybe I’m so triggered right now because my next youngest sister did that to me. She dated my XH before I did, and stole the first person I dated after him, when I was in a very emotionally vulnerable place. She also hit on my subsequent spouse, who fortunately was smart enough not to go there. She’s slime wrapped in human skin, and I’ve never had anything to do with her since.

    God bless you Peace Seeker. You’re not crazy. You’ve been abused to an extent you won’t even realize for years, and when you look back years later, you’ll hardly believe where you used to be. I was there too. It’s not an easy journey away from hell. I believe in you. I believe you can do it. I printed this poem by Portia Nelson (http://www.reducestressnow.net/sidewalk/) and hung it next to my computer, in the bathroom… anywhere I’d have to keep seeing it. I hope it helps you. Sending you love and light and all the best all of us chumps possibly can.

    • Her half-sister isn’t worthy of being acknowledged as a breathing human being. That’s why I didn’t mention her.

    • I was struck by the half sister and the lack of comments on this but assume it’s so far from what fellow chumps have experienced.
      I was chumped by my sister and now ex this time last year. I found out on NYE.
      It has completely fucked my family. I’m NC with the cheater, my sister (who incidentally is back with her fiancé) and another sister who has said she is neutral but her actions show me otherwise.
      Family gatherings are a nightmare which I’m avoiding. To the extent I’m taking the kids overseas for christmas rather than go to my home town.
      My parents have only recently found out. My father wept.
      I’m nearing meh with the cheater. I don’t think I’ll ever reach meh with my sister.

      • I’m so sorry STMS — it’s beyond despicable that your sister would sleep with your then husband. It’s a double betrayal of the worst sort.

        The OW in my story — it’s a special kind of fucked up — she had a kid with my ex (when he was married to his first wife) — and she pinned the paternity on her brother-in-law. Even gave the child her BIL and sister’s LAST NAME. Not her name — her brother-in-law’s surname. How fucked up is that? Kid looks the spitting image of my ex. Same build, same eyes. Poor kid. I cannot imagine what this did to her family, how anyone eats a shit sandwich of that enormity.

        I suppose they have mental illness to pin it on — she’s bipolar (and supposedly alcoholic). All to say, anyone to act this way must be deeply, horribly fucked up. I can’t see how anyone could be “neutral” about what she did to you. I imagine they blame your ex, and everything is “fine” now that you’re rid of him. Like he’s the problem.

        Ugh. Enjoy your overseas trip — sounds wonderful. You deserve it.

        • That is a very special fucked up OW of your ex. I can only imagine.
          My sister is a special kind of entitled… I get that now. I got her her job, gave her a car, lent her money etc.
          The ‘neutral’ sister is the worlds best sweeper of shit under a rug.
          I wasn’t married to the cheater – thank god. The kids dad is my ex husband. He was also a cheater.
          I’m working on my picker.

    • It is a whole new level of betrayal. Disgusting and sick. Made me think of my high-school best friend. Her mother was the OW with her father, and the woman he was cheating on was the OW’s OWN SISTER. He dumped his wife for the sister/OW, they married and my friend was their only child. I have no idea what happened to the betrayed sister, but my friend never mentioned a single other relative in her family, and I suspect the cheaters were basically cast out of the family. Back then, I didn’t understand the situation at all. It’s only now, looking back, that I’m blown away by the situation.

      In a sense, the karma bus did hit them, however, as the husband slowly died of a painful, progressive disease over many years, and his OW/2nd wife grew to hate him bitterly. Back when I would stay over at their house, the wife would actually refer to the husband as “the corpse” and he wasn’t dead yet. I see now that the OW/wife was disordered, and unfortunately, my friend turned out somewhat disordered herself.

  • PS, Chump Lady is awesome, but also check out a woman named Melanie Tonia Evans. She talks about these narcissistic abusive relationships and how what we are actually dealing with is PTSD. Once you realize what you’re dealing with inside yourself due to this intense daily abuse you can take it on. You’re not just dealing with a traumatic breakup. You’re dealing with the fallout of severe mental abuse. Melanie Tonia Evans was amazing for me and I receive weekly emails from her that talk about learning how to think clearly and deal with fear. These cheaters did more to us than just cheat. By lying they stole our right to make the correct choices in our own lives. We are good people. They are not. The deception and manipulation kept us questioning our own gut. They are masterminds of cruel deception. You need to learn again to feel and think without his feelings influencing you. You can be happy again and find the peace you seek inside YOU and you alone.

  • PS, I’ve been just where you are. I couldn’t get mad at my ex for the longest time. My senses were dull, I didn’t trust my intuition. I couldn’t feel anger. After getting involved in therapy and learning to love and value myself more than him I started to get well. And boy, I got angry! It was an emotion I was very uncomfortable with, had grown up suppressing, but when it ignited it took a long time to burn out. I rode the energy of that anger to break free and create a new life for myself. My heart goes out to you and I pray you find a good counselor to help you. Enlist the help of a church pastor, join a divorce support group, you will find others who are further along the journey to help you. Al Anon is also a good group to join.

  • Here is another site that was helpful to me, theabilitytolove.wordpress.com
    It covers alot of stuff, sociopaths, psychopaths, ptsd and most of recovery for yourself from this abuse!

  • Peace Seeker,

    Much of your story sounds very similar to my own.

    Please feel free to message me on FB if you ever need to connect with someone in weak moments.

    Lord knows I still have them myself.

  • I am sorry to post this here but i”m hopping for some support and help I”m having a really bad day today and just need some words of help!!! I am going to start at the beginning I was married to a man that I was with for 13 years. He was the love of my life, we had everything and worked for it together. A beautiful home, cars, vacations and he treated me like a queen. Until one day when I got home and he wasn’t there I called him and as soon as I spoke to him I noticed he was drunk. We had issues about this in the beginning of our relationship but worked through them and we were fine until that month Feb. 2009 this was actually the 3rd time that month. I was livid I through all his things out and told him I wasn’t going to go through that again. When he got home at about 4 a.m. the only words that would come out of his mouth were that he was sorry and he is disgusting. I didn’t even look at him and he left that was a thursday. He called me through out the weekend and I didn’t respond thinking and hoping that he would straighten up as he did before and we would resolve this. Well that didn’t go as planned when he got home on Monday he said he wanted a separation the he was confused. Of course I was devastated. But I let him go I am not one to beg. After 2 weeks of not knowing what was going on I find out that he had been cheating on me with (wait for it) a STRIPPER. Once I found out I called him to meet me at our home and he did I told him everything I knew and I also told him that the only true thing that ever came out of his mouth was that ” he was disgusting” I made it very clear to him that I wanted a divorce, I was keeping the house, the car and the money and he would be paying for them until the divorce was settled PERIOD!. Even though I felt my life crumbling down I was so strong in my decision. It was never nasty between us and even during our separation anything I needed or wanted that was never a problem he gave it to me always. Never a problem with the payments nothing. He would even call me now and then with excuses to talk to me or see him nothing I never gave in I was strong and had decided he always new that cheating was the deal breaker and I held my end of it with pride. Now I’m telling you this story because I just wanted to let you know a bit about my self. I was proud of myself. This was the man that was the love of my life who I adored and wanted to grow old with and yet I was so proud of myself for having the strength and courage to walk away for him with my pride and dignity and I decided at that time I was going to improve on myself which I did. I started working out, I lost over 40lbs, I had a social life. I was strong. so you may ask o.k. what’s the problem. So here I go. Fast forward month 1/2 later. I go out with a friend and she decides to bring along a friend of hers and he brings along his friend. Of course I don’t think much of it because in my mind i’m not even there I though they were both very nice but the tag along friend was much younger than me so I thought nothing about it. We all talked for a while and of course as this young man is talking I’m actually surprised as how together he supposedly has it. He’s talking about all these companies and investments he has going on so on and so on. Know I don’t know and neither does my girlfriend so there is no reason not to believe this from him. So the following week is my friends birthday and she invites both of them. My friend calls me and tells me that this guy just keeps calling her to make sure I will be at the party. Again I didn’t think much of it. The day of the party comes and he shows up I really didn’t pay attention to him but of course as the night goes on we are talking and dancing and just having a good time. At the end of the night he gets my number and the only excuse i have for it I’m recently separated and to be honest I didn’t think much of it i just kind of like the attention. I wasn’t looking for anything serious and to be honest I thought a little fun in my life couldn’t hurt. So we talked during the first week made plans for the weekend to go jet skiing since I own one. Now within the second week he is already telling me that he is in love with me which I thought was crazy and I told him so, I told him even though I was divorcing my husband that didn’t mean I wasn’t still in love with him. Well we kept seeing each other I’m going to be honest it was refreshing because he was so different from my husband he liked to go out and have fun so to be honest I was having fun and it kept my mind off the pain of my husband of course until I got home and closed my eyes and fell asleep everyday crying. I didn’t and wasn’t looking for anything serious with this guy but boy was he putting on the charm. This man treated me like I was his everything he had won over even my mother. But as the first few months go by things i’m seeing just don’t seem right. He doesn’t have a car, I see no signs of all these business and investments and mean while I’m paying for everything. I tell him I think it’s time to cool off a bit and this man starts shaking and crying and telling me that he is so madly in love with me he can’t live with out me and even gets my mom involved so I start to feel like shit and give in but still I feel something is not right but he treats me amazing. Yeah that’s all fine and dandy but I still see no money no real job no nothing mean while months are going by. He’s driving in my car (yukon denali XL brand new) Somehow he managed to move into my house( to be honest I don’t even know when and how this happened) My house was a 3,500 sq ft home on an acre with a backyard that had a massive pool and tiki house that cost my husband and I over $350,000. So basically he’s living like a king and he still has no money to pay for the electricity bill. He is still treating me like a queen, he’s still absolutely amazing still to me but still I tried to end it a few times to no avail and having my family call me and asking me why am I being such a b***h with him. So there goes the guilt trip again.
    Well on the following july 2010 my husband passes away I was still legally married and my husband never even asked for the divorce to be honest. By this time me and this guy have been together for over a year still treating me like the best thing that has ever happened to him but still no money. As months go by of with my husbands death I loose my car, I lost my home eventually and everything is crumbling around me because my husband was still supporting me so of course with his death everything is gone, but I just don’t have the energy to even brake up with this guy. By this time I’m starting to see a little more of the real him but it’s very suddle nothing to bad YET!. When I lost my house I move in with my family we had our separate wing the family house was very large over 5,000 sq ft. , but by this time we are fighting more and more. But here we go again with my family why am I being so mean blah blah blah. But he still has no real job no money no car I’m still paying for everything. Everytime I ask him about a job is always the same answer don’t worry I got this and I’m going to pay you back everything. Now at this point He starts being or trying to be more controlling. Now I’m not a pushover and I have a very strong personality so i’m the type that fights back. If I make plans with my girlfriends he was to come along but he’ll stay in the car until i’m finished. No of course not that’s just crazy!! but some how he would always know where I was and show up. I even went to a club once as a girls night out and he showed up there to. I found out months later that he had put a tracking device on my phone so he always knew where I was. Months keep going by and I’m started to feel more and more trapped but no matter how much I try to break up with him there goes the shaking the crying the I’ll kill myself. Some how he always manages to convince me and I couldn’t understand this is not me I am a strong person. But here we are still together and going into a 3rd year together. On March 2012 I catch him in a lie and that’s it i brake up with him and send him packing by this time no one is buying his bullshit any more. I go NC for about 10 days mean while he’s going out partying having a great time trying to hook up with girls and I’m home feeling like shit. So after the 10 days I stupid me break NC and here we go again but this time things are very different he’s more aggressive and just a complete different in his personality of course at this point my funds are depleted I have no car and it soooo much easier for him to control me. But after a few months back my father suddenly falls ill and he’s literally fighting for his life. In the meantime one of his friends dies and that day he got really drunk and started to physically abusive me to be honest it wasn’t the first time but the worst by far. The cops were called and he was arrested he was in jail for three weeks but of course stupid me I took all his calls paid for his lawyer and dropped all the charges because he would cry everyday saying that he couldn’t believe he had done that to me and he would never do that to me again. When he got out my father to a turn for the worst and My BF was there and to be honest he helped a lot at that time. MY father passes away within 2 months and I just felt like that was my breaking point after everything that I’ve been through the last few years I fall into a deep depression. But now it’s just me and my mom and of course my BF. Now he nows I have nothing and I’ve told him it’s his turn to start paying bills and to support me. Things to a change for the worst now when we fight all the time but know it’s not crying but insulting me its pushing me around, it be aggressive and abusive cops called on him which he was arrested for domestic violence but like to complete idiot I have become I drop charges because I don’t want to ruin anyones life. So again I forgive because i just didn’t even have the energy to fight anymore. So everything is fine for a few weeks our lease is up and we move to another home of course at this point i’ve completely cut him off financially boy oh boy did things change (at this point I already had told him that I thought he was a narcissist) of course that didn’t go well. So here we are in the new home constantly fighting because I don’t keep my mouth shut but the abuse continues but I am at such a deep dark place with depression that it just feels like another day. All of a sudden things change for him and he actually starts getting contracts and work so I’m thing wow maybe things are going to change( yea right) some how manages to sabotage everything and burn all the bridges with these big companies. He would call me everyday crying how this person did this, how that person did that NOTHING!! NOTHING!! is ever his fault WOW! When we go back last time I told him if I catch him lying to me again that was it. So july 27 this year tells me he’s working but I knew, I just knew that was a lie so I pass by work no car pass by his parents nothing he’s not answering his phone so LIES, LIES, LIES. The next morning I show up at his shop and inform him that it’s over!! I went total NC I disconnect my phone which his phone was on my family plan and that’s his work number(yep he went crazy) I disconnect my home number I close my FB account he tried contacting me through everything IM , Email my moms phone nothing no response from me. I dropped of all his belongings in the middle of the night. Yet for over a month it was constant him trying to find ways of contacting me swearing he didn’t lie blah, blah, blah. Then I find out he’s been seeing and talking to this girl who by the way was married and apparently just left her husband the whole time he’s calling me. So after a month with no success of course here we go he starts posting pictures of him and his new girl. He calls me again after about a week and I tell him that I am very happy for him that he found someone and that eventually this was going to happen and this first words out of his mouth are why are you seeing someone!!. I had to laugh and hang up so 2 weeks go by and then here we go again he starts texting me about things he left behind OK it was actually 2 shirts and old iPhone so i text him and tell him thai I will drop them off his friends house that lives by he comes up with excuses as why I can’t and that he’ll pick them up I said absolutely not and his friend can come pick them up when ever he is available a few days back and for over this petty stuff because of course he wants to pick them up and I said no. Finally his friend picks up his things and here we go now here start all the pictures of him and his new GF and how in love he is. I assume it’s all done and I’m never to hear from him again when I get and email about something that happened to a friend of his which I barely now but I was polite and wrote back and said I’m very sorry to hear that I hope it all works out for the best and take care. In the meantime he’s writing me going into all this detail and story when he gets me take care oh of course that he didn’t like and sent me an angry text OK FINE!… and then magically the next day his FB is in a relationship!!!No not calculating at all. Now the good news is haven’t heard from him again since then about mid September. Now the bad news is he left owing 3 months rent and i’m the one having to deal with this shit and owing me over $5000.
    OK so here is there real thing I cry all the time it’s been about 4 months I just found a few weeks ago because the idiot had a dropbox account that I didn’t know about which was connected to my computer to find out that he had been talking to this girl over a month before we broke up. At least I broke up with him for myself not because I even new he was cheating. MY thing is why do I still fell like this I’m so full of anger and I cry all the time. I know I did the right thing walking away he literally sucked the life out of me, but to see him lalalaling away as if nothing. He left here owing me $5,000 and 3 months rent we barely did nothing because of course I wasn’t going to pay for it but he’s gone to visit her family they go out all the time he makes a point of me knowing how happy he is because when ever he bumps into someone i know he goes out of his was for them to see him and his GF. I have always considered myself to be a strong person. I walked away from my marriage of 13 years with my head held high and i was madly in love with my husband. Why why do I feel like this over someone who I was never even” IN LOVE ” with. I feel like a shell there are days I don’t want to get up and the anger fills my days. I know he’s a narcissist and he’s playing the game with this new girl and she’s probable the one paying for everything. I get it but why do I still feel like this. I feel so full of anger it consumes me sometimes when I see him and his supposed happiness. I feel so bitter and angry that in a way still has such control of my life. I have tried to better myself I started going to school, working out, lost more weight, and have gone out a few times but I don’t have a lot of friends and the ones I do are married. I’ve been reading your post and comments and they do make me feel better for the moment but still I wake up the next day still with this anger. To be honest I just want to see him & her explode yes her also because she new he had a GF that he lived with for 4 years so she’s not so innocent. I don’t care if he gave her the whole dance oh she’s crazy or we are blah,blah, blah. I don’t believe in that shit it’s happened to be when I’ve met someone to find out they’re married and have told them to go off. I would never disrespect myself like that so yes I blame her also. I just want to get passed this. I don;t understand how someone who has been so strong her entire life could feel like this. I want to get to MEH but am no where near it. And know thanksgiving he posts the best thanksgiving ever and yesterday was his birthday and he put that he was spending it with the best gf he has ever had meanwhile all my pics are still on his FB account even though the first thing I asked him when we broke up was to remove them and he promised he would but of course he hasn’t.
    I know I know i’m torturing myself looking at the FB I have decided to just shut down my account. Buy why is all of this bothering me still after 4 months sometimes I feel like i’m going backwards instead of forward.
    WOW I’m so sorry this is so long this is the first time I ever even done this. I’m at the point that I do thing I need therapy but I am so broke I don’t have the money for that I have to pay for everything in my home I support my mother which is 74 and my grandmother which is 82.
    thank you for any help
    I would really appreciate and words of wisdom and help and again I am so sorry for how long this is it’s been inside me for so long I keep it to myself because I see how worry my mom gets and she’s been through enough to have to deal with my crazy problems
    desperate and broken

    • Maria,

      What you are describing is toxic psychological abuse. Infidelity is a form of emotional abuse, but what you are describing includes a whole ‘nother beast of sick and psycho. Gaslighting is intended to make you trust the abuser over your own mind. What you are describing? Give someone enough years to torture their victim, and they actually can push you right over the edge into crazyland or suicide in an attempt to escape. (You aren’t there yet–I wanted to get it right out there; because I know how terrifying questioning your sanity for a few years can be.)

      In the beginning he suckered you. Its okay to admit it, acknowledge it, face it, and own it.

      You aren’t the first person, and you won’t be the last.

      By the time the really egregious shit started happening, he’d already decimated a fair bit of your resources and your support network.

      Things that, if they had happened within 60 days of meeting him, would have you handing him his ass with a pitbull of an attorney with an order of eviction–after 300 / 600 days seem almost normal by comparison.

      They don’t jump into the crazy. The bring you right up to the edge of the pool, because they are so shaky on their feet they need to lean on you (note the sarcasm), and then ask you to please dip a toe into the crazy and let them know the temperature.

      This is not accidental on their part. They want it to be a slow and subtle slide into madness. If it was overt and obvious at the beginning, you’d have him stuffed and mounted for the shit he tried to pull–and any decent taxidermist would offer you a discount, because decent human beings find abuse distasteful at worst, and more realistically, find it enraging.

      If he continues contacting you, consider consulting an attorney about the possibility of filing stalking charges. There’s no such thing as a little bit abusive. There’s only a) abusive; b) 48 hours away from imminent physical harm, and c) 48 hours away from a homicide attempt. Anyone who thinks abusers start at C and do not spend years at A is living in a fantasyland.

      Also consider seeking therapy.

      I’m not going to tell you to seek it for the bullshit reasons generally put forward. Your confidence is in the crapper because you were abused. That’s the entire fucking point of abuse. You didn’t “put up with it”; you didn’t “choose to stay”. By the time you understood what was happening, you couldn’t find an exit that didn’t go right past threats of future violence–and possibly more than threats.

      As you can tell from my chosen name, I know. I’ve been there. I get it–first hand. Got that T-sheet, read that ER chart.

      Consider therapy to help you identify ideas he planted in your head. Almost all abusers are skilled at low-level brainwashing. A good domestic abuse counselor can help you identify the brainwashing, and help you build new mental thought processes to challenge those assumptions until you have broken the habits of thinking in that manner.

      Consider therapy to help you identify the red flags you missed, and help you learn to recognize them in real life settings in the future.

      Tell someone in your “real” life about what happened to you, behind closed doors. Doesn’t have to be a large group of people. Find one or two family or friends that you know you can trust, and vocalize it. Every time you re-tell the story, you gain new insights into how he was fucking up your mind. And that matters. Its like performing psychological surgery on the cancerous sections of your psyche. I don’t think revisiting it for years is healthy–but in the earliest months, there’s nothing unnatural about finding yourself worrying at it like a dog with a bone.

      You were abused. Based on your description, I’d say severely psychologically abused.
      If the mind is a muscle, he was slicing away at it with a scalpel.

      You had just discovered your husband was cheating (that is emotional abuse, all by itself.) Then this guy jumps in just when you are vulnerable. It is extremely rare to be genuinely attractive to a decent human being when you are in that vulnerable state. Most people may think you are a great human being who did not deserve that shit sandwich, but the vast majority of mentally stable people do not want to date a basket of crazy–which you were after discovering infidelity. (We all are, for a few months. There’s no shame in it. Even if you don’t make the typical chump mistakes, and immediately go for the shark of an attorney that will draw blood to sign the paperwork–no one is appealing to the majority of people they actually want to date at that point in the process.) The fact he started pursuing you during this time–says nothing about you, but speaks very negatively for him.

      Based on what you describe, it sounds like he went in “for the kill” when your dad was dying. It also sounds like this is when his own extra-relationship activities really ramped up. I doubt he was ever faithful. That level of nuclear-character-disturbed rarely concerns itself for the well-being of the people around them.

      Whatever else you do, please realize that after the last two relationships, you are primed to be appealing to abusive people–and there is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. But abusive people are going to recognize that much of the initial groundwork phase has already been accomplished in you. This is going to make you appealing to them. Please consider therapy to give yourself the tools to recognize the red flags.

      Psychopaths are very, very good at simultaneously blending in and appearing extraordinary. They seem normal–and they seem like someone who has themselves put together, someone you would be lucky to have a relationship with. They successfully snow mental health professionals every day–even ones who specialize in criminal pathology. And most psychopaths are not criminals; unless you count their destruction in terms of broken hearts, broken homes, and *broken minds.*

      Seek professional help. Anyone can recover without counseling–but there’s no reason to spend years longer than necessary slugging through this shit.

      Please seek help.

  • thank you blue eyes
    I know I need the therapy I just don’t have the funds at the moment and I have no insurance.
    What makes me mad the most is that I did see some of the red flags. I thought It was odd that within the first 2 weeks of knowing me he was introducing me to his parents. He wanted me to meet all his friends it’s as if he was showing me off. The whole I’m in love with you within not even 2 weeks of knowing each other. Telling me he had never felt like this before and all his friends are telling him how in love he is with me and that he has never had the sexual connection with anyone else like with me.
    I just want to make sure I’m not crazy and that I was dealing with someone with NPD.
    When we started it was at full speed no matter how hard I tried to slow things down it at a super sonic speed. When I asked about his exes oh they were horrible crazy and he was always the good guy the poor victim. But like I said he was so good to me I overlooked them. When we would be in social settings he was always the mister know it all and had to be the center of attention. But for the first 2 years to be honest he never mistreated me or was abusive but of course I see it now because why would he when he was getting everything he needed. It was really into our 3rd year that things start to change because I was tired of having to pay for everything and that’s when the real bad fighting started he would tell his friends that I was always on his case and fighting and putting him down yea but he wouldn’t mention that we were fighting because he never had a job and I was tired of paying for everything and he wouldn’t contribute financially. When ever he did get a job there was always a problem it was never him it was always every body else’s fault except his and I would get mad cuz how is that even possible in EVERY JOB.
    And like I said this last year was the worst the physical the verbal the mental he would even tell my mom that I should be baker act because I was loosing it and to depressed.
    No shit I was loosing it and depressed you were literally driving me crazy.
    I guess what I’m really mad at is myself because I knew better, I should have gone with my gut instincts long ago and gotten out and instead I lost 4.5 years of my life on someone who I gave so much to and to feel so discarded on how easily he moved on to this new girl now she’s the love of his life the best thing blah, blah, blah.
    I just don’t understand why this bothers me so much I should be happy that I got him out of my life and was strong enough to keep NC but it pisses me off to see him have this wonderful life which he loves to shove in my face while I’m in my mid 40’s trying to pick up the pieces of the shattered life he left behind for me to clean up.
    I just gets to me that these people just go on so easily with no repercussions and we are left behind like trash.

    • I hear you.

      I actually just got off the phone with my mom.

      I did not get to spend Turkey Day with my family (3 states away), but my daughter did–as Andy (aka Asshole Narcissistic Douchebag Yackface) & his AP drove my daughter down to spend T-day with my family.

      Andy & AP spent the holiday at a hotel doing God knows what.

      I was contacted by a friend on Friday, because some of Andy’s friends have “somehow” come to the conclusion that Andy & AP were *invited* to my family T-Day, and I was cut off by my family.

      I actually wasn’t even calling my mom about that; I just mentioned it as an aside to her. She started laughing.

      I relay this as an example & a reminder: They are all about the perception. They want to be seen as the good guy; the together guy; they want you to be perceived as the “crazy one”.

      The reality is, the reactions you are experiencing are completely normal & healthy reactions to an abnormal & unhealthy situation.

      Your best bet? Block him on FB, cut off all contact on any social media accounts. Once he can no longer “ring your bell”, your recovery will shift into overdrive. It won’t feel like it in the first few months–but that’s the single most important element. Go No Contact.

      He doesn’t have a wonderful life. He has exactly the same life he had before you. He’s got a new target, and he’s doing to her exactly the same things he did to you.

      “I just gets to me that these people just go on so easily with no repercussions and we are left behind like trash.”

      How you treat people is a reflection of how you perceive yourself. If he treats you like trash, its because he feels entitled to treat human beings like garbage. That should be your clue right there that his life sucks: From his perspective, he lives on a planet with 7 billion pieces of walking talking garbage.

      Shift your focus away from him–and I know its easy to say and hard to do at first–and focus on you. He’s still going to be a miserable user in 2 years, and you will be happier and healthier.

      This is a marathon, not a sprint. Try to eat right, exercise & get your sleep. It makes a big difference. People don’t recover from abuse overnight. Mental health professionals say it takes people *on average* 18 to 24 months to feel like themselves after an abusive romantic relationship. That’s an average–some people take longer.

      There’s a difference between, “abused” and “he ran my mind through the psychological equivalent of a woodchopper”.

      Hang in there, and keep us posted.

  • You are not alone. You almost described my scenario to a T! I’m so sorry that happened to you. I have had the same thoughts that you have and I have to constantly remind myself that I deserve better and I am worth so much. You deserve someone who will be as good to you as you are to them. If nothing else, you have to use your experience as a lesson in character for your children. Like myself, I am sure you would rather die than see your kids turn out like your ex or have someone treat you the way your ex did. So when you feel down, get empowered so you can teach your kids by your example. Break that cycle and no longer think of your ex as a “parent” but rather a sperm donor, because a “parent” would value their family not jeopardize it’s well-being.

    Your sister and “friend” are assholes. There are no words for shitty people like that. They don’t deserve to know you. The best revenge is to succeed so they can watch from the sidelines as you advance in life and they remain the piles of shit that they are. Treat them as you would if you were to see me on the street. You don’t know me, you don’t know what I look like. I am just a random person. They should fall in that category as well. They don’t deserve your anger — because they aren’t worthy of you caring enough to be mad at them. The are random and inconsequential to your existence.

    Also use your spidey senses in the future about the appropriateness of friends and male/female relationships. If something doesn’t sit well with you, trust your gut. Better to be wrong than betrayed.

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