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Dear Chump Lady, I can’t evict him from my head

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lowselfDear Chump Lady,

I want to know how to “discount your cheater’s perception of you” because after 26 years of marriage and 26 years of emotional abuse, I don’t think this is possible.

I finally filed for divorce in January. His resulting narcissistic rage was so scarily violent, the judge granted me a permanent Protective Order without hearing any testimony. We signed the mediated settlement agreement three weeks ago. I have sole managing conservatorship of our 16-year old son, the house, my job, my parents’ support and my health.

But I can’t evict him from my head. When I look in the mirror, I see old, fat and ugly. I don’t dare touch the settings for the air conditioning or automatic sprinkler system, because I will screw them up. I took my dad to the bank with me because I’m too stupid to understand money. I drove down to Austin with my heart pounding double-time the whole way because I have no more sense of direction then a chicken. I wouldn’t let my daughter buy my a birthday present because there’s no sense in wasting good money.

It’s like I was diagnosed with cancer and the x-rays showed a tumor on my heart. I go into the hospital and the surgeon removes the malignant growth, so I’m cured, right? No, the doctor says. When I opened you up, I found the cancer in every part of your body; it runs through your blood into your brain, your stomach, your eyes, your spine, your hands.

I cannot wish this perception away any more than I could wish away real cancer. Doing yoga or taking long walks with the dog has not made me heal. Pep talks, margaritas, a new haircut — nada. There is no separation between his value of me and my own self-regard. Please, please, give me something that will help.

Eve

Dear Eve,

It’s been 6 months since you filed for divorce and THREE WEEKS since you signed a settlement. It’s perfectly normal to feel like shit about now, and that’s not including a protection from abuse order.

Before I go any further in my This Is Not a Pep Talk advice, I’d urge you to see a physician and rule out clinical depression. A lot of people go on anti-depressants when they’re going through this crap. There’s no shame in that. Sometimes you need medical help to climb out of the dark place. Seek that help, okay?

Assigning yourself low worth is a habit that you’re going to have to be mindful to break. Healthy isn’t going to feel normal at first. You have to habituate yourself to it. So, when your daughter wants to buy you a present, and you beg off? STOP. Be present with your thoughts and realize you’re having One Of Those Moments, and let her do the thing that unnerves you — buy you a gift. DEAL with it. Every time you sit with that discomfort, you rewire your brain to be the kind of person who accepts gifts. It takes time to build new habits. Be patient and keep at it.

Same with walking the dog (Time Heals here swears by it), same with whatever other healthy new habit you’re forming. (I can’t speak to yoga. Maybe that’s not your bag. Try kick boxing?)

As to accepting your cheater’s view of your worth? That’s a CHOICE. You’re picking that poison. I’m sorry, it’s not cancer, it’s a fucking choice. If he’s dishing out garbage, it doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

There is an Eve who did not accept it. She filed for divorce. She sat in front of a judge and got a PFA order. So, there is a badass there. A person who does knows her self worth, so FEED that woman and starve the other one.

Why on earth would you let your abusive ex define the rest of your existence? You’re free of him. Why would you let that asshole be the last person you love? Why would you hand him that power?

Accept yourself. Whenever I see these kinds of posts, or run them, kind people always say, oh you’re not old, fat, and ugly, you’re beautiful! Here’s some radical advice, Eve. You might actually be old and fat (I don’t believe in ugly, except in actions). SO WHAT? Old is a privilege and fat you can change. Old fat people rule the world. (Have you seen those G4 summits?) Old and fat says absolutely nothing about your self worth.

Never, ever give other people the power to define you. That’s on you. I’m sorry you spent 26 years with a bastard. If you can evict him from your life, you can damn sure evict him from your head.

There is no separation between his value of me and my own self-regard. 

Bullshit. There’s no bogeyman unless you believe in him.

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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.
  • Eve, you have already managed to be more assertive than most chumps, you have legally and financially escaped this bastard, and even the law is on your side with this Protection Order. Stop focusing on what you think you CAN’T do and take a look at what you HAVE done! You might not feel it right now but trust me, trust all of us, when we say that Meh is closer than you think. You are on the right path now, don’t deviate, and don’t look back either, because that’s not the direction you’re going! It will take time and effort to rebuild your shattered self-esteem and sense of self-worth, but these things will come as long as you keep working at it. Start by complimenting yourself every day for something good or brave you have done. Enjoy time with your kids and be proud that you are their stable parent, the one they want to buy presents for! Chump Lady is right, you are choosing to remain in this limbo of pain. Sorry if this sounds asinine or unhelpful, but YOU hold the key to your own happiness! Stop carrying this asshole’s toxic bagage and go forth and BE MIGHTY!! Chump Nation is proud of you Eve!!

  • Eve,
    Well done! The remaining battle is effectual. Your spirit is free.
    I had to rebuild myself from the heart. All things originate in the heart. Harness your heart. It is a universal gift; it is yours. The rest will follow.
    Sometimes I feel like I am in spirit-shackles. They are temporary. I sow good seads weeping, we will reap rejoicing… Maybe in ten generations, maybe in a year, but it will come! This is cause and effect, it is immutable!

    • I have had some time to think about my previous comments and I wanted to say that I no longer forgive Loki (). Bring it. Send him to Hell. I am sure enough about my salvation that I will draw a line in the sand. Any Ass who rapes and sodomizes his own children and blasphemes against the Holy Ghost has no forgiveness in this life.
      Sorry Nomar about getting all religiousy. Today is Sunday. I will only make religious comments on Sunday (from now on).

  • // , That such as what Eve describes remains stuck in the heads of others sort of scares me.

    The “decolonize your mind” shtick has grown on me.

    • It’s not a schtick. It is a book by Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiongo. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decolonising_the_Mind

      It’s a book of critical essays, asking African authors to write in African languages. It examines what happens when colonization takes over culture, and how to take that culture back.

      Do you subvert the language and make it yours? Or do you use your original language?

      Ngugi wa Thiongo is expounding on the works of Frantz Fanon. “Fanon gave careful attention to the violent ramifications of colonialism on the psyches of the colonized, and that the colonized individual was “stunted” by a “deeply implanted sense of degradation and inferiority.”

      To colonize someone, you have to mindfuck them. Get them to believe in their own sense of inferiority. Do that enough, they’ll oppress themselves and you don’t have to try so hard.

      To liberate yourself, you must decolonize your mind.

      My blog here is simply putting my useless masters degree in southern African history to use.

      • Right, CL, seeing as we are weilding the two by four today….

        YOUR MASTERS IS NOT USELESS! For eff’s sake, woman, it gave you the thinking and writing chops you place at the service of others every day. You can wrap your head around psychological forces which become historical forces. Never, please do that down….the US and the world needs a lot more people like you.

        You run a blog on which thousands of people can support each other, understand evil and decolonize their minds. You’re starting a human rights movement. If that is not an achievement to own, I don’t know what is.

        xMeh.

      • And, it gives you an edge at dinner parties. Who else can discuss Ngugi wa Thiongo in depth? Liberal arts degrees rock.

        • Yep. Wonderful to be able to communicate with other people where ‘argument’ is not synonymous with ‘fight’.

          Bibliography/Art History/English Lang and Lit. Represent!

          ,
          Meh.

        • Me and all the other African history majors can huddle in a corner. I think this is cocktail party repellent, but I probably don’t hang out in the right circles.

          I’m matched by my husband though. He has a masters in comparative Victorian literature.

          • I’m even more impressed by you CL!! I’ve already got you on my list of fascinating/inspiring people to INVITE to dinner ( if I could )!

          • Penny Dreadfuls vs African realpolitik?! The winter evenings must FLY by…

            Actually, those topics aren’t as far apart as you might first think. Back to colonialism…..

          • So odd to hear Chump Lady running herself down about something so “esoteric”. Um hello… **Master’s Degree**? This is such an illustration of Eve’s complaint: chumpy goes all the way to the bone. It takes so much vigilance to root it out, and even when you think you’ve done it, it still pops up and takes you by surprise.

    • Hi Eve, I’m reminded of that scene in Shawshank Redemption where Morgan Freeman is working at the grocery store after being paroled and he ask his boss for permission to go to the bathroom. It’s habit, it’s mental conditioning, it’s routine, etc. so WE have to do the hard work of building new habits of mind, re-conditioning out brains, changing our routines, etc. it’s hard and it seems impossible for a looooong time. Lately I hear myself saying out loud, “Good girl!” after completing even the simplest tasks, like loading the dishwasher or making the bed. I need that positive-speak to get through minute by minute. I want to be mighty again! You can be too sweetie. Hugs.

      • Exactly. It’s just as Viktor Frankel described in Mans Search for Meaning: after the concentration camp prisoners were freed, many of them were afraid to walk out the gates, even though their Nazi captors had fled. They stayed, spent the night in the empty camp, clung to the familiar. This helps me so much, as does understanding Stockholm syndrome. It’s why I stayed.

      • I keep telling myself that line from Shawshank Redemption: “[Molly X], who crawled through a river of Shit, and came out clean on the other side….” that’s what I keep telling myself when I question my choices/decisions these days— I have to remind myself that I am free…I don’t have to worry about what HE will say or react!!!

      • God damn, this reminds me of my toxic workplace (that I’ve since left a year ago) where every move was scrutinised.
        When I no longer gave a fuck for their toxicity and employed the phrase “no, I’d rather not” – life became a LOT easier. And a huge weight came off the shoulders when I handed in the resignation letter to my boss, with the words of “I’ve had enough”. I never told them that I already had another job lined up – though that boss was asking “I heard you got another job elsewhere?” about a month after I had left.
        Use the word “No” as a complete sentence and it will get you far.

      • Yes, Deepbreaths!!! I, too, sometimes have to talk to myself out loud when I find myself falling into my old self-doubting thought patterns. Hearing myself say “I can do this. I am strong. I am brave. I deserve happiness…” interrupts the bs brainwashing that was beat into me.

  • Eve, don’t beat yourself up. He mentally, and probably verbally, abused you for 26 years so it’s not going to be easy to get him out of your head, especially since it’s only been 6 months. Be kind to yourself and continue to be strong like you were when you got the PO and divorce settlement. Be ok with taking your dad with you when you need someone to support you. I wish my dad was still alive because I know he would have my back. Take small steps to begin with but only when you are comfortable.

    I’m 2 years out from kicking cheater out and I’m in a much better state of mind than I was 6 months or even a year ago but I know I still have a ways to go to heal myself after 24 years of his crappy treatment. The time needed to heal is different for each of us so allow yourself to go at your own pace. Hugs to you!

    • Yes Eve I have 36 years of PTSD from living in fear from my cheating, lying and theiving BPD (Narc)! I lost a lot financially, he turned my grown boys away from me…but 8 months after I know the divorce has saved what’s left of my life! You can’t put a price on freedom! During the divorce I had Stock Holme Sundrome ! Try to become more independent it feels good to be able to care for your self!

      • Gail–I’m sorry about your boys. That is a bitter pill to swallow after you’ve already been victimized. It has more to do with their need to identify with a same sex parent than it does with you (and they have half your X’s crappy genes).

  • Oh, Eve. You are just like long term prisoners. You stepped out into the sunshine and blinked at all that clarity. It will take your brain a while to understand that you are no longer locked up. You have freedom for the first time in years. He was the prison guard who told you what to do all those years. Leave him back there. Just put one foot in front of the other until he is so far back you can’t see him any more. It will take a while but you really are free!

    • Eve, a relationship with a Narcissist will leave you utterly shell-shocked (it’s way worse than that, but then there are not words to express what it feels like). Leaving one is like being extricated from a cult. Lots of damage to the psyche. Lots of reprogramming to be done.

      Keep putting one foot in front of the other. It takes a long time, but you will recover.

      • Eve, congratulations on leaving a mean man and deciding you are worthy of a genuine life where people treat you the way you deserve.

        I highly recommend therapy at the beginning of such a journey. Being able to explore and then conquer your feelings of inadequacy is very cleansing.

        You’ll get there! Hugs!

        • Eve – we’re all on the outside of your internal struggle, but we can already see the amazing, mighty woman you are. It just takes each of us our own personal time frame to work it all out so that WE can see, feel and believe it about ourselves. I’ve told others struggling on this site that for me it has been a combination of three things that I choose to “feed:” my spiritual, physical, and mental healing.

          Spiritual: I’m Catholic, so I’m in my chapel all alone in the dark & stillness 3-4x each week. (Still! And DDay was Oct. ’13). I still cry some days, and just re-apply my eye liner before I get back to work. It’s therapeutic and allows me to re-focus my attention on what Jesus wants of me and His direction for my life, and keeps my thoughts OFF the douchebag who blew up my family, and allowed me to waste 23 years on him. During the first 9 months, when the symptoms of PTSD were massive for me, that alone time and that safe & quiet place was something I literally fled to during my lunch hour. I gave my heart to Jesus as a child and always loved Him, but He waited a really long time for me to RUN to Him for safety and strength, and to grow a real relationship with Him. When we’re treated like 3rd-class citizens by the people who promise to love, honor & protect us, it’s impossible for us to make that mental leap and accept that Christ loves us unconditionally, and that he – literally – died to have a relationship with us. Most importantly for me has been that during those times of extreme mental struggle, as long as I am spiritually connected with God (whatever that looks like day-to-day and some better than others), I have no other choice but to accept His love, care and protection of me whether I feel “worthy” or not. That choice to accept His value of me has been life-altering. Now, I cannot accept any man’s version of determining my worth; not after accepting that I’m flawed, but I know that I’m truly loved and valued. It’s the best feeling, especially on the days when we don’t feel loving and kind to ourselves. If spirituality is not an area of your life that you’ve explored, I’m encouraging you to do that. Walking the dog and yoga are good, but we’re designed to hunger for more than that. It is the most personal relationship that you can grow as deeply as YOU choose to do, and that no one can interfere with. Today, 22 months post DDay and 6 mos post-divorce, my ability to honestly be still and quiet mentally and spiritually, and my ability to be open to receiving messages from God of encouragement and love through other people and the world around me, is real and has been life-changing. I’m also recommending Rick Warren’s free podcast: Daily Hope. Get it on your smartphone or tablet through the App Store. They are 22 minutes each, and a full talk is broken into 3-4 parts. I listen to them as I get ready for work each morning and sometimes in my car. You can go back an re-listen to and even save the ones you need to hear as often as you need. I went through the Seasons of Life series and listened to “Seasons of Loss” and “When a Marriage Ends” probably a dozen times. There are other topics for almost anything you can think of. We’re all human and there’s nothing we go through that others haven’t as well. It’s a good place to “dip your toe” into spiritually.

          Physical: You need to set a goal, and then make it happen. No excuses – just make it happen. I turned 40 last year, and although I have been an athlete and coach for many years, my abaility to perform was NOT in distance running. I was also 60 lbs overweight, so I was unhealth and discouraged. I stopped making excuses and set my goal. Then I trained all alone out on farm roads for 4.5 months, slowly increasing my ability to jog longer and further each week. Every time I got out there, the mental fight of me telling myself, “You’re not a distance runner! What the hell are you doing?!” against “Just keep going. One foot in-front of the other. Just a little more…” I jogged my very first half marathon this past April. Took about 3 hours to finish (haha!!) but I. FREAKIN’. DID. IT!! My parents and kids were there along the 13 miles to encourage me and it was a massive celebration at the finish. I’m telling you, it gets pretty silly trying to tell myself I CAN’T do something after doing that. While training, I chose to go without earbuds. It was just me, Jesus, my thoughts, tears sometimes, and the cows and turtles along the way. Talk about Forrest Gump having running right as therapy for a breakup! Seriously. I likely thought of every shitty and wonderful thing that’s happened in my life jogging down those roads. Take up some form of physical activity; learn about it, read about it, learn how to fuel properly and change your body. You’ll shift your focus to learning this new thing. The physical and chemical benefits you get out of it are also life-changing. Those 60 lbs of mine? Gone. Now, I can’t stop setting smaller goals for myself and have done four 5k jogs since May. Every time I get to a finish line, I take a selfie with the “FINISH” showing just behine me. Not for anyone else, but for me to look at. Each finish is a new start. Plus – hang all your medals with great pride over your personal accomplishments. Typically your sign-up fees are going to a charity, too, so you’re also doing good for others. You’ll meet others with similar interests and make new friends. One of my co-workers was inspired by me and at age 53 she started jogging and ran her first 5k during my half marathon. You’ve already done the hardest things (getting rid of that asshat & divorcing him). You can do anything without that dead weight pulling you down mentally, physically and spiritually!

          Mental: read, ask, learn, talk. Get into counseling if you haven’t. Take CL’s advice and make sure you’re doing well chemically. Your mental state is your responsibility, and now more than ever before. Your son is counting on you to be that anchor in his life. I had never done counseling prior to DDay, and here it is 22 mos later, and I still go one time each month. And that’s including all the spiritual and physically work on myself. My parents and I still have at least one daily “conference call” where I share with them the good, bad, anger, humiliation, fears, achievements, and I express my thanks for their non-stop love and care of me. My relationship with them has also been altered for the better through this struggle, and they’re two of my best friends. Maybe you have that with your parents, or a sibling, or with a loyal friend. Express gratitude to them directly, and through your prayers for them. Mail them a little note of love and thanks to surprise them. It’s all another way to shift your focus on how blessed you are, despite being treated so cruelly by that douchebag.

          I hope to read about all the amazing things you’ll do in the next months, Eve. It’s the scariest time, but also a time filled with great hope and anticipation for you and your family, and also in your mental, physical and spiritual journey. You’ve taken the first steps. (((Hugs, girl.)))

          • Wow, KibbleFree, I love getting to know you better. You are strong and mighty. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

            • LittleLady & CalamityJane – I also believe that we feed off of one another’s mightiness, as well. I’ve enjoyed reading how you’ve both also made huge leaps (along with all of our setbacks) in our quests to reach Meh. I’m not there yet, but I can accept that and know I’m doing the work to get there, step-by-step. I know both of you, and Chumps on this site with us, are all trying hard to get there. Love & (((hugs))), ladies! =)

  • Hey Eve, first kudos for doing the work to take out the trash! Its not easy work and now that you made the decision and the ink is dry… Now what? Now what? It should feel like relief right? You should feel like kickin up your heels and getting a new haircut…. Read all those articles about redefining you and become a vegan…. But you don’t. You get up, take out the trash, fix your lunch and put on the same radio station. Its comfortable and its safe. Look you made a huge life changing decision… Because somewhere deep down there you knew you were worth better. The fire is there… You just havent tended to it in awhile. Start feeding your fire. Little by little stoke the fire. There will be days that you dont want to… And days when you forget but eventually with practice and dilligence you can burn brightly again. You learned… By his negative talk and hostility to live your life a certain way to please him. Now you have to unlearn it. You have listen far too long to the story that he wants you to believe about yourself. And it worked for him. Whats gonna work for you now? How much more of your life and your fire are you going give to this mother fucker.
    Listen… I have been there. I am there. I have a scary man in my life too. Its not easy. But you can and you will regain some of your power. Keep reading. Keep growing. Keep the faith that it may not all be roses… But its your garden now. Somethings may die and others bloom…you will figure out what flowers are meant for your garden.

      • It has been a long time since I have been peppy! Many thanks to you and CN. I am sincerely grateful.

        • TheClip, I am going to hazard a guess though and say you’ve been feisty (strong, beautiful, honest, real, succinctl) all along, it’s just that life with someone who is exclusively focused only on himself (or herself) is not something they show up for. So no matter what your gifts are/were, the disordered never “see” them. I have a feeling we lost ourselves during our exes’ devalue/discard phase because it was then that I began to question why I was with this person (and I had no clue about his POS OW). Life was fucked up there and I didn’t know why. We all know we have value it’s just a little scary to do things out of our comfort zone. Happiness doesn’t drop out of the sky onto our doorstep (and this is exactly how our lazy Cheaters found their significant others), as you know we have to hunt it down. You do ROCK! 😉

          • Drew, i appreciate the complement. I think my feistiness is a life long skill of insisting on thriving. Like mold. Take all that dead crap and still grow… Or a mushroom… Different fungi. Cause life has sure thrown some shit at me.
            There is a saying about being strong… ‘ you never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have’ or something like that. I feel that is really the only choice I have ever had. The strength has not always been demonstrated in a positive or self nuturing way. Sometimes it was destructive and narrow. I again did the only thing I knew how to do and that was to live another day.
            In my marriage I took the back seat willingly thinking I was being supportive. In hindsite i can say it was my willingness to do so that open the door for him. He recognized the opportunity …. Like a predator. He slowly started to train my brain into the malleable putty he needed to fill the gaps in his psyche. He did a good job. I was a good stepford wife…. Until. Call it instinct… Call it that voice in your head…. Call it whatever u want…. But when I asked the question is when the shit hit the fan and the world started spinning…. Instinct took over and I went primal. The siren went off in my head’ warning warning danger danger.’ And it was confusing as fuck. Why ? Why ? Why am I suddenly afraid of my husband? Why are things not adding up in my blissfully ignorant world…. Why? Panic Panic Panic. And he loved it. It gave him time to reframe.
            My elderly neighbor gave me the shaking of my life and told me ‘ get your shit together and cry later’ Her words spoke to some part of my brain that lay dormant but rousable. I was on autopilot. I shut off every emotion and got tunnel vision…. A totally hard on for getting my shit in order. I was not the best mom at this time and was not as available for my baby who was suffering badly. Combing thru files until the wee hours. Getting my ammo and arsenal ready. I justified it by knowing in the end she would be in a better place. And she is.
            The emotions flooded me after the divorce. Wave after wave. Release but no relief. My poor baby girl watching me fall apart. But she has also watched me regain my footing and rebuild. Now almost a year out I do the work I need to get back to me. He makes it incrediably difficult. But this little mushroom knows how to grow.
            For the first time in a long time i think i am going to be better than ok.

            • I was the same in how I came to be under his control… in addition, I was a military wife…unflinching support for ones spouse is seen as imperative for a good career and is a service to God and country..and the assholes in the group exploit it to gain advantage, and cake.

              • Has anyone been watching Astronaut Wives Club? I saw the first episode, missed the second, and saw half the third episode before it got interrupted for tornado /flashflood warnings. Those astronauts were a bunch of cheaters, the wives had their hands full. I would also like to read the book. That time period fascinates me.

  • Dear Precious Eve,

    A web-site blog article came to my in-box this morning discussing this very subject—How to evict him from your head. Title of article is “How To Divorce a Narcissist-Part 2”, but muchof what she discusses is about how she evicted both of her ex-narcs thoroughly & permanently from her head.

    So, I see it as the Universes’ way of saying, “Hey, link Eve up with this web-site & article! You have what she needs today. So share it!”

    Love to all of Chump Nation! Forge on…..

    http://blog.melanietoniaevans.com/how-to-divorce-a-narcissist-part-2/?

    PS: I am not good at this ‘linking’ stuff, so I will not know if it works until after my comment shows up. If the link does not work automatically, you can still see what the address is. Melanie has a lot of excellent advice!

    • ForgeOn , I am rather persnicketty today… So dont take to heart what I am about to say. I am tired of forking out money for the ‘ magic’
      The article is good but its get you on the hook. Melanie seems to have the’ magic’ to restore your life… For 6 payments of $29.99 you to can be a part of the magic …. UUUUUGGGGHH. I hate that shit. I want to believe that she is genuine in her pursuits…she alluded to the Magic Quantum a few too many times for me. She has the key…. And if u give her your credit card you too can be healed and enlightened.
      She plants that seed often throughout the article and for someone who is vulenerable and seeking relief to their pain they may take the bite. There is no magic. There is no $29.99 quick fix.
      I think there is value in her method. Take away what speaks to you and use it to your benefit. And as you say Forge On.
      Thanks for the article.

      • Thanks for your feedback! Doesn’t ‘offend’ me one bit, as I have never purchased any of her ‘stuff’! Just took some of the excellent points in her writings.

        No, there is no one single ‘magic bullet’, that is for certain! I guess I should have made a disclaimer in my comment that I do not suggest buying her programs. Not at all!

        Therefore, I am so glad you ‘piped up’ and made those excellent points.

        Another reason I love the people here so much!

        Forge on, Nation!

        PS: Clip, I just happen to LOVE your persnickettiness! One of your most endearing qualities, actually! {{{{{HUGS!}}}}}

        • The best magic bullet is to put one foot in front of the other every day. Eventually, you get where you want to go. (second magic bullet–get social support, wherever you can. Like here.)

        • I actually did pay for her course at the beginning of my war against my colonized mind…it was cheaper than one session with a shrink and, at least for me, more helpful. I often go back to the MP3s that you have access to for life, and her support group. Lots of chumps there. But also lots of people narcissistically abused by family members, bosses, etc.

          Now that I feel happy and healthy again, I don´t go back except when I have a weak moment and need to do a session again (its like getting off a drug, there are relapses ). But all her free stuff is very helpful to understand how to deal with a narcissist and what happened to you. I think she is truly committed to helping others heal and there are no secondary costs to her programs. (I have no commercial interest in what she does, so I am just expressing my own experience.)

          But my general advice for Eve would be to read, listen to everything you can get your hands on that might help, discard what doesn´t work for you, but keep on trying every day to work on challenging yourself to get back to a healthy and empowering mindset. I did even the smallest things like changing furniture around, getting up on a different side of the bed, getting rid of all my clothes that reminded me of him or his derogatory remarks, new hairstyle, doing exactly the opposite of what he would have wanted me to do (which was what I normally would have done) It all adds up, and one day you will wake up so happy to see that you got the disease out of your mind and body and you are back to a new and improved version of yourself! But there is no quick fix for sure…its a process, and healing usually takes “one month for every year that you were with the narc”, seems to fit my experience. So if you were 26 years with him, that means a bit more than two years of recovery. So you have only a year and a half to go! Enjoy the process but also embrace the pain…it is what will help you avoid narcs in the future and be aware of how mighty you are!

        • Quick comment about Melanie Tonie Evans: I have not bought the program and admit that the sales pitch bothered me as well. What I like very much though is her keen insight on narcissists. I have never read more thorough info on the topic and she admits she is not an expert or a therapist, just some kind of spiritualist who went through the same hell we have with narcs. Reading her articles never requires that you purchase anything. I chose her articles for my own reading and healing and could not imagine her costly healing thing doing the trick so I just stick to the information she provides.

          Eve, I have been exactly where you have been and it didn’t help when my therapist said, “Get the Kevin out of your head.” Gladly, I told her, but how? Every time I made coffee in the morning, ‘kevin in the head’, every time I drove to work, ‘kevin in the head’ every time I cooked, cleaned, worked, exercised, interacted with daughter: ‘kevin in the head’. Out damn spot, out, obsessed I was. Even as I am typing this and I can hear the 4th of July fireworks going off, my lost family is in my head bringing back the dreaded ‘kevin in my head’.

          It doesn’t help to order him out of my head, or have a therapist tell me to do it (I was 24 years with my abusing narc). What my brain needs is re-wiring, and information is what I use: information from this site, from Melanie’s site, from friends, co-workers, family. When I access information from the part of my brain that knows the truth of who I am, then I am able to move that one foot forward (as others have beautifully stated).

          The stories you will read on this site will give you information, information that will make a difference. Tolerate your distress rather than fight it, e.g., go through the pain, rather than cringing from it and judging it (this is mindfulness, get info about that too). Eve, even though you are in a particularly brutal phase of hell right now, I promise it gets better. Your intuition told you to get out; nurture that part of yourself that is solid and whole and gave you the red flags you needed to get out. It may feel like a dot, but you listened to it, you grew power from it and have already achieved a great deal. Just keep feeding your intuition; it is never wrong; it is always there; and it wants you to have mental health, which I believe is in your power to create. But create it you must through means that are unique and suitable to you.

          As a bit of an aside, but somehow relevant, I just saw the best Pixar movie in the world with my 16 y/o daughter called INSIDE OUT and it’s an amazing portrayal of how we need all of our emotions (sadness, anger, disgust, fear, joy) to be whole and well functioning. (BTW, they did leave out 3 other emotions: acceptance, surprise, and curiosity, but hey, a great movie anyway and made me weep like a little one when sadness took over the brain controls).

          In sum, keep accessing information, get checked out medically, train for a race if you can (this has been particularly huge for me), and come to this site as often as you can. You will get better. I like what someone said above (sorry, too tired to scroll back through) about your fire. I agree. Your instincts have been injured and shrunk a little but they are whole and begging for you to take action. Listen to the voices of your instincts. And getting used to trusting yourself again will take time. Last recommendation, and I have said this in prior posts but can’t help to mention it again, because it will help you to re-learn to trust yourself, read: WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES. Life changing for me. All the best to you Eve.

          • ChumpB
            Thanks for noticing the pitch! I love what u said… That we have to pull from different resources.
            Loved the movie too…. Sobbed like i was watching a Nicholas Sparks movie!
            My daughter sat very quietly during the movie. I could tell she was putting something together… And she later told me ‘ i feel like Riley that I always have to be happy for Daddy. Its like I cant ever be sad about what happened. ‘
            She has been in counseling for 2 fucking years and I have Pixar to thank instead! Best $21 dollars( minus the popcorn and gummy worms) ever spent.

            • TheClip, I love your insight and wisdom and your tenacious will! I can tell you have moved a great deal and I am in awe of you. I agree about the pitch on that other website not feeling quite right. That’s why I applied a buffet style to her program: take what I want, leave the rest. I really found her article “Narcissistic Supply,” very helpful to explain the narcissist, the way they grow a false self, they way they need “supply” or as we say affectionately here: “Kibbles,” which is such an apt image.

              How old is your daughter? And wow, incredible insight on her part to identify that she needs to be “happy,” when with her dad. I’m sad to hear about all that counseling, which I believe should be centered around her feelings, e.g., identifying them, noticing them, noticing where she feels them in her body, normalizing them. That is primarily what kid’s counseling is all about done primarily through play and interactive activities. May I suggest that you ask her counselor for some of that “feelings” work or activities that you can do at home?

              IMHO, I believe that a lot of us chumps learned from our own FOO that feelings were unacceptable or even dangerous, e.g., anger. So we stuff them down, which causes problems as we need all of our emotions to be okay. It may even cause us to focus more on other people, because that feels more acceptable (perhaps this is the co-dependent part?). IDK, I am like everyone here, figuring this shit out, healing from something that now I understand, I did not cause; reconciling my part and healing.

              • Ps, TheClip, ask your daughter’s thera about a divorce program that is wonderful and centers around feelings.

      • TheClip, Melanie provides a LOT of free help. If you go to her site, she has guest speakers etc., and has even provided her program free of charge to help those in need. She really does a lot of good work and puts a lot out there that’s accessible to anyone.

        I know from experience because in the beginning, I contacted her and was broke and she sent me her package free of charge. She’s a good one!

        • She’s also recently started podcasting, so you can also listen to her these days. And those are free

        • Found this quote from the article interesting:

          “No-one can be with a narcissist unless they are wounded, and unless they have critical unfinished emotional business to heal … no-one. So please know the “new” partner who replaced you has, at soul level, chosen to meet their wounds face on.” – See more at: http://blog.melanietoniaevans.com/how-to-divorce-a-narcissist-part-2/#.dpuf

          I can’t imagine trying to live with stbx at this point in my life. It would feel so awkward and uncomfortable. My son and I have relaxed so much since I told stbx he needed to find somewhere else to live – back in January.

          Eve, I encourage you to see your doctor and have a basic check-up. Tell your doctor what you are experiencing and the history behind it. As someone who has complex-PTSD, I can tell you dealing with stbx’s affair and this divorce process – has triggered my PTSD frequently. With PTSD your brain can get stuck in a “loop” where intrusive throughts travel on a merry-go-round or ferris-wheel in/on your brainwaves. It can take awhile and different types of interventions to pull out of an obsessive thought loop. If it’s PTSD it’s a physiological automatic response and it’s not something you are are doing on purpose or causing. So that is why it’s so important to get in and check in with your doctor(s). You can and will get through this! Everytime you start to doubt yourself – change the wording to “I’ve got this!” “I CAN DO THIS!” “I’m going to get through this just fine.”

          Eventually it becomes automatic and your future looks so much healthier for as far as you can see.

          • I tried to get my stbx to leave the house and his response was “I pay for the majority of the house so I can do what ever the hell I want. F* off and go back to your room”. He said this while the OW was in the guest bedroom to shower up before dinner after going bike riding with my daughter (who he has lied to about their relationship and DD loves her as she’s only 5 years older than her and was our former babysitter). Who does this? Has anyone else’s stbx said or done this???

            • WTF?! The OW doesn’t pay for the house. You go into the bathroom where she’s showering. You grab her clothes and tell her to get the fuck out of YOUR house. Her boyfriend can join her. If he says one threatening thing to you, you have your cell phone at hand and tell him one actionable offense and you’re calling 911. You’ll get a PFA and have his ass thrown out.

              You may legally have to allow him to live there as a co-owner (he’s an ASS), but you sure as hell don’t have to tolerate disrespect and the OW in your personal space.

              And you tell your daughter the marriage is ending because Dad is having an affair with the babysitter. It’s the truth. Don’t gaslight your kid.

            • Mine wrote me “I am not in love with you letter” and said no GF was in the picture! He mailed me the letter and ran out of the house. We did not speak for another month until he went in the hospital with a twisted bowel. My adult kids kept asking me to visit him (they did not know about the letter and him asking me for a divorce or his affairs during our 36 year marraige. They said mom you have been married to him 36 years you owe him!!!! I then told them your father plans on taking everything we built over the last 36 years and leaving me as a bag lady. He didn’t even have the balls to tell me to my face. I was a stay at home mom and gave up my Nursing career so he could advance in his at Verizon. I recently went back to work when my youngest was finishing HS. The piece of shit demanded my entire paycheck or threatened to divorce me! He then went in to disrespect me and tell my kids I wasnt a good mother! I caved and gave him over half my pay and paid &30,000 on our home out my savings as well as $15,0000 towards my youngest college education because he stated thier college bonds through the company did not mature which was a lie! He never saved any for his children all the money went into his retirement! He wanted me to leave the house, him send me money and not call any lawyers:) Anyway to shorten 2 years of divorce fighting for my house, my nursing license, pensions and savings account ($20,000) in legal fees I am finally free. No Contact Forever!!!

            • Kfl, my ex didn’t bring his OW over no, and CL is exactly right. That is the marital home, you don’t have to put up with her there. Unfortunately, because it’s the marital you also cannot kick him out. That happened to me, Saddam would not leave because he “knew his rights”. I didn’t get him out until he pulled a gun on me.

            • Kfl…. What does your spouse hate? Dog? Cats? Opera at 2 am? I say get a fucking cat… Or three and play fucking opera until 4 am. Its your room right? Get a lock on your door and do the work need to get out of that situation. Hoard up… Lawyer up… Play the game until u can yourself out. Sounds like your child has been manipulated…and you may need to reach out to her later. U need to keep your sanity in that fucking cluster. Consider this the shoulder shaking u need… Shut your emotions off… Get tunnel vision… And work on a plan to get out.
              Go to lowes… Get a new door knob with a lock… Go to you tube it will show u how to change it. Take Cookies shit and toss her out on her ass.the longer she lives there the longer she will have rights depending on your state. Get the police involved. You have family? Is someoe willing to move in for awhile? Better yet… You said she babysat for you? Get Cookies parents involved. Today.

              • Thanks all.
                I need to write chump lady cuz my story is just too crazy. I told my dd to “talk to her dad” when she asked me if they were having sex. She did and he lied to her and said they were just friends and that I had some nerve trying to make them look bad. My dd is now camping this weekend with her 49yr old and 22yr old OW and former sitter. DD says she is now to uncomfortable to be anywhere near me Because I’ve unfairly made her suspicious of her dad. She won’t even be in the same room with me. I did get a restraining order against the OW (she’s more a OGirl). Judge was awesome and made it effective the day it was filed “sua sponte” saying there was no reason for her to be there. Thank god cuz 2 days before it was filed my nanny cam was able to hear her rifling thru office drawers, heard her orgasm upstairs and then caught her on video saying how she wished she did more research so she could fuck with me more. Then they took my wine glasses to their hotel room and left the lawnmower in my parking spot in the garage to piss me off. My stbx has become a 22yr old mean girl like her (and somehow I’m still seen as the bad guy in all of this to them and my DD)

              • Bagpipe music, loud bagpipe music. Will drive them crazy. Of course won’t exactly be a hit with your neighbors either but trust me he’ll be packing his bags toot suite.

            • Omg Kfl- what you’ve been through is horrible! I’m so sorry. You have every right to set some strict boundaries and telling OW she can not enter your property for any reason.

              Before I found out it was a fullblown affair, I told husband he needed to move out. He came back at me with vile bile spewing from his mouth. HE pays the rent rent! HE has every right to be there. We went the Verbal Rounds and it ended with him hugging me tightly – fake crying (no tears) – “Please don’t kick me out ! Please don’t kick me out!” However – Just a few days later, on our 22nd Anniversary – which he asked his boss to take off so we could celebrate – was when I found out the full extent of the affair. Two days after that, while I was at work, I sent him a text saying he had until Martin Luther King day – to find somewhere else to live. Which he did. In the mean time, I found shelter (literally sleeping on floors) elsewhere because my PTSD had been triggered severely and I could not be anywhere near my cheating husband.

              These Cheaters Take-Take-Take – as much as we allow. Their sense of entitlement often coincides with what we’ve allowed them to get away with, what we’ve put up with without calling them out, and how much we’ve allowed them to guilt us into not reinforcing our healthy boundaries.

      • I did purchase Melanie’s Tonya Evans program to heal from Narc Abuse, and while it was very good, the exercises/healings take 2 hours each to complete and you are expected do repeat them many times, she suggests multiple times a day! I just didn’t have the “band width” to focus intently for 2 hours at a time, nor 2-6 hours a day to do her work. I tried multiple times, then sort of gave up. I was too PTSD to focus. I return to it on occassion, but continuing therapy with a coach to deal with codependancy and foo issues has helped me learn to honor my feelings rather than stuff them. I also work with a spiritual vibrational healer every month or so, and that has helped me to finally cut the cords to my Narc wasband of 36 years. Still trying to make headway on the divorce (why does he stall the divorce? He’s living with Schmoopie… Let me go!!!) and I’m implicated in a serious business lawsuit because of his actions, even though I’m the innocent spouse and had no knowledge or control of his actions. Its exhausting, expensive, and traumatic. I can’t wait until this is all overwith so I can be free. Its hard not to feel beaten down and after everything they have done to us. I am starting to learn that I am not the woman he told me I was. It’s a process of death and rebirth, and you have to do it for yourself. No one else can do it for you, but there is help to guide you and light the way.

      • Bang on, TheClip!
        I’d be willing to say, that stuff like this, important shit in life – shouldn’t have a fucking pricetag. If its that important to know – it should be free. Not with a damn price on it. But this is coming from someone who is decidely anti-materialistic unless its something important (No designer garbage for me! Fucking pointless if you ask me)
        Profitting off someone else’s misfortune seriously pisses me off. Its why my advice (coloured slightly by CL now, haha! You have opened my eyes!) would never be priced. Its about helping the people who are close to you – and even complete strangers, provided they aren’t fucking nutjobs.

    • Melanie is a friend of mine. She is totally committed to the cause of helping others thrive after narc abuse. A wonderful caring human being who knows from personal experience what we are all going through and has made it her mission (as with CL) to offer support.
      I believe her modules work, and if you can’t afford to buy them she does many free webinars.

      • Jilly, I find it odd that you pop onto this site to defend your friend. I am sure she is a geniune soul… So was Jimmy Swaggart… If you get my drift. I am sure Melanie can defend herself just fine but she will be pleased that her friend endorsed her and her method. My opinion did not state if she was genuine or not. Because now that you have told us she is genuine we will all join and set up accounts!!! Sorry if you don’t like my opinion or my take on the article. My comment stated that she peppered her article with ‘ the method’ and if you would indulge me, go through the article with a highlighter and see for yourself how many times it is mentioned… And conveniently at the end of the article you can set up an account. Just an observation. She is a business woman as well and has learned techniques/ wording to inject the ‘ product for sale’ in her advice. Its a technique.
        Secondly, she does not know what we are ‘ ALL’ going through. She has had experience with two Narcs and certainly she done the research and has the supporting credentials to offer advice… But it ain’t all Narcs and it ain’t all situations. She was honest about her lack of experience with custody issues but is empathetic. And until she had to hand her baby off to one of those disorder fucks… She will never know the pain, fear and helplessness associated with it. Not to minimize her pain and suffering but it is her own as mine is mine. She offers sound advice in the article… Believe I stated that.
        I am sure that she has receive more harsh criticism than mine as CL has. I don’t prescribe to everything on this site nor everyone’s opinion. I take away what speaks to me. What works for my situation. I honor the opinion of others and I have learned from their plights and struggles. I pull from different people and different strengths. Not just one. I think CL allows the Nation to do its own healing through sharing dialogue. Group hug.
        Yup , CL sells a book and has one on the way. I will support that too. But there are plenty who would hot be able to benefit from CL or Melanie… Or counseling. A large part of the US has less than a fifth grade reading level, live in poverty and have no access to care albeit medical or mental health. I would say the language used at this site and like sites is much higher than 5 th grade. . I know I have had to bust out the dictionary more than once at the CL site!!! I have no shame in saying that and hopefully I can encourage those persons who remain voiceless due to fear or shame to contribute and to continue learning. I appreciate that i have a voice among scholars and persons with much bigger brains than me( or is it I??? ) Love you guys! Group hug again.
        And that brings me back full circle…. And we all must find what speaks to us. I can and I will share my opinion of that article. My opinion had nothing to do with Melanie being a great person… or ‘ the real deal’ and guess what? ….. just cause you say so Jilly … doesn’t make it so for me. Glad Melanie has a friend who has her back.
        Happy 4 th to all my American friends…. Enjoy your independance! Viva la difference!!!

  • Alas, one would think that being with other (sane) people, the self demeaning attitude disappears. It is not the case. We tend to reinforce our false beliefs, by picking up what we think are clues. Here is an example. A few days ago, I was hiking with a group of people I had never met before. Suddenly, there was this steep rock and I had to stop to evaluate the best way to go. A lady behind me said in French something like “don’t push ‘Bobonne’ in the stones”. ‘Bobonne’ is a pejorative word in French, that means homely mature woman. That’s how HE made me feel during the whole year. I was devastated: so, even unknown people saw a homely mature woman in me ?? Should I stop going out ??? But this time, when the hike was over, I chose to not ruminate dark thoughts, I went to talk to the lady instead, to check my perception. She had said this as a well-known movie line, she was surprised by my interpretation, she apologized profusely by her poor choice of words, she actually viewed me as a thin energetic blonde.
    This happens all the time. I think people say nasty things, so I get angry, I hit back, and then they get mad, and say nasty things. I don’t have a solution, except to be aware of this phenomenon, and go to these therapy groups that are in fact a good excuse to share a meal and wine.

    • What, you mean dinner? I kind of know what you mean….I am very careful and boundaryish with new friendships, and learning to watch what people DO when you draw a line or ask a question. If they start a monkey-dance, I am outta there!

      I get it on the hitting back, too. I think Chump Lady’s suggestion on kickboxing over yoga is a valid one!
      xMeh

  • It takes time to process the mindfuck – you need to be kind to yourself during this time. Or use emotions such as anger to propel yourself forward. Channelling this anger into productive activities, of course.
    The mantra I followed many moons ago was this (its kinda brutal, though): If I subscribe to the viewpoint that I’m fat (I’ve been underweight my whole life) and worthless – it proves that narcissistic fucker right and validates his shitty opinion. And your actions getting the restraining order tell me you KNOW this prick is seriously bad news and you don’t validate his narc rage, so he deserves none of your other mental real estate either.
    This stuff does take time though. And sometimes lots of it. When you get to the stage where you’re seriously pissed off at his entire existence, you know that you’ve taken the first big step to ‘meh’. And then it goes from there.

    • Way to go, Lania!! You sound SOOO much stronger than some months ago. Keep doing the work of healing your beautiful, mighty self! Woot!! =D

      • Haha, why thank you.
        To be honest though, I probably only had about a couple of days of searing pain, each time I was cheated on – and then that mantra above kicked in. Then I realised that arseholes just simply aren’t worth it. (I’ve been cheated on multiple times, and 1-2 more times where I strongly suspect I was, but never had any proof – but I just assume I was and leave it at that). Its why I thought something was wrong with me, at one point – but I’m not old enough to have had a relationship thats ‘serious enough’ to be married to them – and my longest relationship so far is what, 3 years? Hence the fast healing time I guess?
        To be honest though, I’m at ‘meh’ now – and have been for a long time. I stick around because theres still work to be done for others, and this site teaches me for general real life stuff outside of relationships too.

  • Hugs to you Eve. The best part of this is you recognize all of this and you want different and better. You have already won half of the battle. That means you are a fighter. Hell I was only with my ex for 5 years and it took me over 2 years to rebuild myself. I did go on anti-depressants which caused horrible weight gain(well, the pills combined with a really crappy diet did). They allowed me to function. If you can navigate without them even better. Please find an awesome counselor. It will help.
    Every day, remind yourself of one good trait you have. You don’t have any? BS. You are loyal, you are committed, you never quit fighting for something you believed in ( your marriage and now your worth). Start there. Other things follow. You don’t miss him, you miss the idea of him, what you thought you had. I’m sorry that wasn’t really true.
    I know how hard this is, we all do. It is going to take a TON of work and effort on your part, but you will get through it! When you have fat moments coming in, remind yourself that body birthed some kids. I’m not saying don’t feel the pain, because you have to in order to move forward, I’m saying feel and and then consciously choose a different thought. Puppies, think about puppies. Watch Jenna marbles videos on you tube just doing anything different from the norm will get you to where you want to be.
    We are all here for you. You will get through it!

  • Eve, I’m in a similar situation to you but further down the line although not yet divorced, hopefully soon. After so long it will take time. There were some things that helped meAt first I did things, decluttered, gardened, walked, made a will, looked after my health, tried new things some if which terrified me. I talked to family and friends, anyone who would listen in fact on or offline and had some counselling. As time wore on my husband’s behaviour got worse, he had left me. His controlling got worse, and I started divorce proceedings, and he flipped and then spent the following nearly 2 years holding up the divórcd proceedings.We are nearly there. But during that period I suffered anxiety and panic attacks and was on medication for that, and in retrospect should have sought treatment for depression sooner, because by the time I did I could hardly get out of bed, or concentrate. So do consider antidepressants, for me they have made a huge difference. If you can when you walk the dog, find a friend to talk to. Talking can be so helpful, both about ordinary things and what you have gone through. Be kind to yourself, celebrate small victories, maybe next time you go to the bank on your own and find out if they have any suggestions for how you can get more money savvy, or are there any courses locally maybe night classes or by debt charities. Have a chat with the staff and see if you can discuss your banking needs and how it all works nowadays. I found that the antidepressants have helped with my confidence driving too, and while I still do not like long distance driving, I can work on it. In the early days I read a lot about abuse, which I found helpful so I could start seeing things cleared, and I have now joined a group run by the freedom programme, I’m in the UK, and have found that really helpful both from womàn to woman support point of view, and being able to see clearly how subtle abuse is , how it starts, and how it builds up and how experiences that just were not good are an aspect of àbuse, so I am learning to see how it affected my behaviour. It also looks at warning signs of early abuse and what a good relationship looks like. I’m not there yet but am trying to see that everything positive I do is a step forward, and yes there will be bad days, but there will be more and more good days. Identifying the ways abuse has colonized my mind is helping me to clear it out. There is no timeline, if you are moving forward we will both get there in the end

  • Hi Eve,

    What has been useful for me is to talk back to the negative messages and make MY voice primary. So if a voice tells you that you are crap, talk back and say–“well that’s the abusive asshole talking, not me, I am just fine. I want to explore this, I can do this even if I don’t know exactly how, this feels better to me…etc.”

    I also listen to chakra healing and balancing meditations, along with some other meditations for depression, anxiety, self-hypnosis, self-love on You Tube each night. It has really helped me to learn of these systems and make use of them for my body and mind.

    When you can frequently identify the opinion your abusive ex had of you and that it is hardly an opinion you want to take on…moment by moment…you will become who you really are with practice and patience. I am right there with you doing the same thing. You are not alone.

    May you be surrounded by love and by people who appreciate you,

    Devorah

  • The day I was served my divorce papers, I had some “Me time”. I went to the mall, had my hair done and went to a makeup counter and had a makeover. It was some of the best money I could have spent.

    It is hard to evict that piece of crap out of your head…however embrace the this thought, if he starts with his drivel, you CAN walk away or hang up the phone.

  • I would highly recommend purging what is on random repeat in your brain by writing it down. It may not work, but it may be worth trying.
    My XH and I were pretty much NC from the moment he confessed his infidelity because I wasn’t accepting that it was instantly all in his past, nor was I getting any genuine answers to my questioned about how or why. But I could write out every question, argument, frustration, concern, validation, and expectation I had for my future. When I did this the voices in my head grew quiet.
    You can and will get past this it is going to take time. The one thing I have learned is that as a chump you need to learn to love yourself fully. By being able to do this nothing they throw at you has the same effect anymore, and that is freeing.

    • Thankful…. Excellent advice!!! I did this and i was so surprised to see on paper what ‘ he’ had taught me to believe about myself.

    • Indeed, excellent advice. Your post reminded me of my Belgian Yoga/Personal Development teacher. There was this exercise that she made us do. We had to use a brand new notebook. On one side, we would write the negative statements about ourselves, the thing that we have in our heads. On the other, we had to write a positive counter-sentence. And this had to keep on going, until the negative lost its strength, day after day.

  • Oh my gracious, Eve. You are so strong and so freaking brave that I am in awe of you. You knew it would be hard. You knew the likelihood of his scary narc rage. And you were badass enough to file anyway.

    I definitely agree with CL that it’s totally normal for you to still be “a carrier” of the effects of his abuse. It’s going to take some time to undo the damage of 26 years of his constant put downs. Maybe the answer is to remember that the inner voice telling you that you’re too stupid to handle money or that you’re not worthy of a proper gift, it’s not YOUR inner voice, it’s his. It’s an echo of his hideous nasty soul, like Lord Voldemort lurking in Harry Potter’s scar. So you need to tell Lord WhoreDemort and his echo to go fuck themselves.

    Leave a little post-it note on your mirror that says, “Fuck you, Lord WhoreDemort.” So when you feel old and fat and ugly, you can whisper that to your mean inner voice.

    Leave another “Fuck you, Lord WhoreDemort” post-it in your car, for when your inner voice is telling you that you don’t know how to drive and have no sense of direction.

    Leave another “Fuck you, Lord WhoreDemort” post-it in your wallet, for when your inner voice is telling you that you’re not worth spending money on and you don’t know how to handle your finances.

    Leave another “Fuck you, Lord WhoreDemort” post-it on the thermostat and crank that bitch as low or high as you want.

    Eventually, with enough magical “fuck yous,” you’ll either start to feel better or start to see Lord WhoreDemort as the pale, pathetic, wrinkled, noseless coward that he was. Good luck. We’re pulling for you.

  • (Yeah! The link works!)

    Just read through the other comments that are coming through. Beautiful people here, Eve! So glad you found your way to this awesome Nation!

    I did several different natural things that helped me with this very thing you are dealing with. I did not want to do any drugs, as I lost my precious sister-in-law to psyche drugs. She was suicidal & one side-affect of a number of drugs prescribed to such ones is, yep, suicidal thoughts!

    Guess what? Yea…..It’s been 11 years now, so that is just one major reason I always explore natural & ‘alternative’ methods for everything, including gardening, pest-control & cleaning house. Just wanted you to know my ‘back-story’ as to why I am personally opposed to taking drugs for dealing with this. However, I totally agree it would be good to have a thorough check-up, preferably with a Natural or Integrative physician.

    So, here are some things I found very effective instead: Fish Oil (Check out the quality of the Company thoroughly on this one!) Cod-liver oil is also excellent. Bio-feedback or neuro-feedback is awesome for re-programming the thought patterns, as well as identifying imbalances in your emotions & physical body. That probably helped me more than anything. There are other things, as well. Do some research…..

    Educate yourself on diet, nutrition and emotional health. You do not need to go crazy reading, as it sounds as though you have a full-plate caring for your child & working, etc. But, resources on-line that I find helpful include (but not limited to, as there are many!):
    NaturalNews / Dr. Mark Sircus / Terry Talks Nutrition / People’s Pharmacy / NaturalHealth365.

    I recently discovered Moringa and started taking it about 2 weeks ago. That is not long enough to see the effects yet, but I am confident it will help.

    Anyway…..More & more research has helped us to understand that intimate link between what we eat, what we put on our skin & so on and the state of our emotional & mental health. It does not make the situation go away, but it allows us to more easily navigate our way through.

    But most important of all, continue to draw on the collective wisdom and love of these incredible people!

    Forge on, Eve…..Love all y’all!

    • Forge On, I love natural stuff too. Herbal tea, natural cleaning and beauty products, essential oils, organic foods, etc. It just makes you feel so much better getting away from artificial stuff. Last week I needed to color my hair but I only had some regular hair color and I couldn’t stand the thought of putting that toxic stinky mess on my head, lol. Guess I’ve gotten too pure, lol.

  • I know it sounds corny, but CL and the crew here are some of the best people in the world. And, Eve, you are part of that. Truly.

    • Eve, Chumpguy has encapsulated it on his remarks above. There is pain now, but Chump Nation not only has your back, we’re coming along side you. There has been some very sound insight, advice, and a lot of compassion beautifully presented in this post – all for you. You are amazing! Hugs and more hugs.

  • I think driving to Austin sounds like something no chicken could ever do. Go girl. You’re stronger than you think. Change the thermostat. You can do it.

    • Totally agree Twitching …. that was my very first thought reading Eve’s letter! Whatsmore, she didn’t let her (false, as it turned out) perception of her ability to do that long drive actually stop her. Pretty bloody awesome – I know plenty of people who wouldn’t have been so brave. Well done you Eve – how great are you?! 😀

      Eve, one of the most beautiful women I know could be described as both old (50) and fat. She is wonderful, very vivacious, very attractive. She always has been a ‘big girl’ but, please believe me, she has always had many male admirers, and she still does. It’s her beautiful personality and self-confidence, her good humour and her enjoyment of life that we all love about her.

      There’s no reason that this couldn’t be you – heck, in just a few lines to CL telling us how you’ve successfully divorced and protected you and yours from an arsehole and how you’ve conquered your fear and self-doubt and managed a long distance journey, and I really, really like you – I think you’re great! Give yourself credit – you deserve it in spades! 😀 x

  • Hi Eve,

    I agree with the advice to be mindful. Even though you many feel weak and depleted now, you are going to have to really challenge yourself to pull out of this. This is all coming from someone who was beaten down in childhood, adulthood, and has struggled with fear and depression my whole life. The thing that has helped me the most is this: If it scares you, do it. Do it again, and again, and again, until you aren’t scared anymore. You need to work situations into your life that will give you confidence. Confidence come from experience.

    I had a horrible fear of public speaking most of my life, so I went back to school and got a degree in teaching. I was required to speak in public EVERY DAY. I learned a lot about myself and now that fear doesn’t control me like it used to. I’ve been afraid to travel on my own with my kids, but we love to travel. So I’ve made myself do that a lot this year. I hate to exercise in public, but I know it’s good for me, so I decided to embrace it, jiggle and all. Now I honestly don’t care what anyone thinks of my body, as long as I feel good. You get the gist-challenge your fears. You’ll get there! You just need a plan of attack.

  • Yep, you just plod along, one day at a time. You establish new habits–hopefully healthy good habits (not all of mine have been good–I have become undisciplined as of late, but that’s all on me, and I can change it any time I like), one new routine at a time.

    And then… one day… you realize there isn’t that dark cloud hanging over you. You’re just weeks out right now, really. The good thing is you are hearing that voice that says “I want him out of my head”, so it will happen, but it won’t happen completely most likely until you have established new routines and have a new sense of who you are, and realize you are really free from his judgements about you, his manipulation, etc. One day you are going to wake up and realize just how much energy you spent dancing to a song written by an a-hole, and sure… doing that over 26 years was probably habit forming. It’s OK, new habits, new routines and a new freedom will replace it.

    You have taken the necessary first steps, and believe it or not, that was probably the hardest part: the decision to take control of your own life. Now, it’s just about doing it, and it won’t take anywhere near 26 years. 🙂

    • You have taken the necessary first steps, and believe it or not, that was probably the hardest part: the decision to take control of your own life. Now, it’s just about doing it, and it won’t take anywhere near 26 years.

      ^This^. I am struggling right now with thinking I wasn’t good enough, my children weren’t good enough. The truth is, yes, I was good enough. And so were my children. And now, I need to prove it to myself by being in control of me and my life. Of continuing to raise my kids to know they are good enough. I need to challenge myself to live, not just exist.

      • Of course you are good enough! Cheaters are the type who will step on a dollar to pick up a dime. The dime is ‘shiny’.

  • (((HUGS))) Eve I like to think of all of us as rowers in our own canoes rowing towards the shore of ‘Meh’. Some of us are further ahead & some are behind. The currents produced from the other canoes help propel us forward. Know that you are not alone. We are all rowing with you. We share your suffering & all of us want to thrive. Chump Nation is full of chumps= good people. Their advice is priceless because they’ve been where you are. It takes time to find YOU again— be patient. The same patience that you afforded you ExH use on yourself. You know deep down inside that you deserve it & you deserve so much more than simply surviving. Take time to rediscover you— your likes, dislikes, allot time to enjoy what makes you happy. Put yourself first even before your child sometimes. It’s OK because if you’re not happy, he will feel it too. Just know it takes time & be patient with yourself.

    • Renee62, I really like what you said and love the canoe image. Thank you. I am picturing us all rowing along, it’s a little foggy sometimes, a little turbulent at other times, we are all in different places, and sometimes it is even calm and effortless (sorry to add to your idea but it really helped me). Thanks Renee62.

  • Eve,
    The first time it hit me that I could do something for myself and be ok felt like I’d jumped into a worm hole and was having an out-of-body experience. It was like I stepped into an alternate dimension and it made my skin hurt like I had the flu. I’m still here, doing things for myself, making choices and otherwise forging on. Like others have said, it takes practice and everyone has their own time line. The more small steps you take, the easier it gets.

    As someone who loves to drive and has no sense of direction, I’ve found that sometimes I like going to different grocery stores for a change of pace. I go to the same chain, just in a different area. Get yourself a GPS thingy, or download one of apps for your phone that will navigate for you. Modern technology does help those of us who are truly directionally challenged.

    Hang in there, and keep doing things at your own pace.

  • Getting to this place didn’t happen overnight…it will take time to unplug the lies about your worth. I think that is one of the most lasting and damaging parts around divorce. Personally, I was only married for six years and I still struggled unplugging that voice.

    One step at a time. It can be done. As CL says, it is early for you and finding a good therapist may be helpful.

    Blessings,
    DM

  • Eve, Just so you know I am a therapist and your brain can heal. The more you learn about narcissism the more your brain will see and understand. Look up EMDR for trauma. You can get past this and you should be proud of yourself that self walked away and filed for divorce. The post from a few days ago you should listen to about cluster B personalities. When someone does not have empathy they can abuse and destroy another person. You are way smarter than you think, you survived 26 years. someone here wrote there is no timeline and she is right. Start doing all the things to heal. Blessings

  • The most effective way for an insecure asshole to keep a chump in check is by making them feel they have no value in thought, word or dress. You were married to this for 26 years.

    His perception of you was no more than a projection of himself.

    You are in the process of learning who you are without a disordered person in your life tearing you down. It takes time. You can do it. You have already begun. We are here help you down that new neural path.

    • “We are here to help you down that new neural path.”. well said, CJ!

      Eve..it takes effort to decolonize all those words (love that CL) you heard all those years. I had 27 years with XH, am 3.5 years from DDay, 2 from divorce, and am actually HAPPY most days now. but it was not that way for a long while.

      in addition to finding and reading Chump Lady regularly, 2 actions that most helped me: i pray daily to rid the evil that surrounded me and to remember who i am to God (LOVED!) and every time i start to focus on a negative thought (LIES) i say out loud…no, i am not going there! then i look around me and say, out loud again, what i am grateful for in that moment. sometimes it is birdsong, two legs, eyesight.

      Wishing you more mightiness, Eve. You have already tapped into it. Keep going. You are loved.

  • Eve,
    Congratulations on all you’ve achieved as you’ve worked in your own best interests. You are mighty.

    The folks who’ve commented ahead of me have provided some great suggestions. I think there is such power in naming what is going on — simply by identifying the power you’re continuing to give to your X will help it lessen. You’re shining the light on the monster under the bed….soon you’ll realize the monster is a collection of dust bunnies and you’re going to have to scrub like hell to get rid of them, but you can do it.

    I’m here to tell you it gets better. You deserve it to. And all the work you will need to do to make it so will be very worth it. Here’s to learning to love yourself, the strong beautiful brave person that all of us can already see.

  • Although my X-hole was not as violent as yours, Eve, I have sole custody of my 15 year old via court order. One of my stepdaughters said, “He (meaning X-hole) has no respect for you”. Yeah, no shit. I often could do *nothing* right.

    He also ran our business the way *he* wanted to – which means not exactly all on the up-and-up. And, if customers got pissed and happened to get me on the phone, Oh Well !!! Sucks to be you, wifey, that you happened to pick up the phone.

    I kicked X-hole out. There were a lot of things I was afraid to do, or felt I could *not* do. The WORST thing for you is to depend on other people too much. You say you have supportive family. If they really ARE supportive, they will not over-indulge you when you *think* you need help.

    I do not have anyone who can readily be there to help me, so I had to do some learn-as-I go. I did/do get some help from handymen and my accountant; and a landscaper friend of mine – but I still do most of the work. The BEST teacher, in my opinion, for practical things is YouTube.

    You really just have to start DOING stuff. Stuff you weren’t allowed to before, or told you were too dumb, or just couldn’t do it right, or it’s a “man’s” thing to do – out of the way. You ARE the way now.

    And your son is watching every move. He is looking for you to be strong.

    • YOu tube has been my handy man…. I have figured out all kinds of crap! Even bought myself a tool box. The hardware stores are really great too… They offer free tutorials on just about everything.
      Eve, I am the worst… And I mean worst at handling tools… If its gonna be dropped … Clipped wrong… Or spiraling down the drain because i set it on the sink for a minute…. Thats me. I flooded the kitchen… Put a giant hole in the bedroom wall trying to hang a picture….. and killed a lawn mower by driving it over the edging of the lawn… RIP. But I have learned… And seriously , duck tape is a god send.

  • Eve, you are a badass!

    I know you don’t want to hear this but it takes time to heal yourself….and to ‘rewire’ your brain.

    CL suggested checking in with your Dr. I agree. It sounds like possibly you are still in shock because you haven’t expressed any anger (you know that is one of the stages of grief).

    Get counseling. Start reading about NPD. Keep moving.

    I agree with the Chump Nation. One way to evict those voices is to start answering them. – What is so wrong with having someone drive with you on a long road trip? Gee, I like the company. OR My Dad is a rock star with money so it is great to bring him with me. OR No one can figure out complicated electronics. Go on Google/Youtube if you can’t fix your electronics or call a service person. What is wrong with that?

    The experiences stay there sometimes – but then something interesting happens. I remember my first Christmas after the final separation and feeling absolutely terrible. While there was a gap – there was this peace…there wasn’t any stress…something had lifted. (My exH was always miserable at Christmas. He never wanted to decorate and no gift was good enough.) It was a great ‘a ha’ moment. What a gift! Peace! Fun at Christmas time!

  • I’m just going to pop in here….

    Eve, please recognize that you’ve been hurt, and hurt for a long time. Just because the wounds aren’t visible, doesn’t mean that they are unimportant to your health. They’re trauma, and it’s going to take a while to heal from it all. Right now, you have so many wounds that are making themselves felt, you’re overwhelmed and scared.

    Running with the analogy–It’s going to take you a while to look at your psyche or your soul and be able to see which bits are just bruising and will heal on their own in time, which bits need to be wiped clean and allowed to scab over, which bits need a bandage and a little more time, which bits are infected and need to be purged so they can heal, and which bits need additional help (psychic stitches if you will) to heal correctly.

    Enlist the help of friends, your family. Ask your pops to come with you to the bank until you’re familiar with things, and the fright will diminish in time. Let your daughter buy you a birthday present, a Christmas present–she loves you, and wants to give you something you’d enjoy or could use, or it may be a bit of ridiculous nonsense that she thought might make you smile–she’d probably agree to nothing extravagant if you’d let her gift you. Find a doctor or a therapist who can help you cope with the injuries–you may need antidepressants, you might need therapy, you might need to be tested for a thyroid imbalance or vitamin deficiency even.

    Focus on you and your kids and your parents for a while. Plan an outing with your son (if he’s not one of the ones who is mortified to be seen in public with his mother) or your daughter, where you alternate the choices of where to go and what to do. Go to the movies or watch some at home–pick kids’ movies if you need a mental pick-me-up–it’s what I do. 20 minutes into watching something silly is a big mood booster when I need it.

    Lastly, whenever you feel that nasty rat of self doubt and fright slinking back to gnaw on your foundations, remind yourself– YOU were strong enough to take the step to get out, and because of that, YOU are going to make it and be whole again. Look for and find the part of you that said “enough” again, invite it in, and then chase that nasty rat back into the boonies of your soul. Chase it away often enough and far enough that it eventually stops coming.

    • Beautifully put, Mouse.

      No matter how far out we are, I think we need reminding of what we achieved to even look at this blog-a recognition of having survived a battle. Thank you.

      Eve-

      All the advice here is sound, and helpful. Self-compassion needs to be learned, and you can no more hasten the process than push a river. Listen to wise Mouse. Time is an ingredient. You’ve been living in a war you didn’t know was being fought. You might need pills to get over it. Any worries about addiction are valid, but trumped by your circumstances. you gotta function, Momma/Daughter/Colleague. Glad you have skilled friends to help, they are a blessing. You are aware of needing a healing space. That is huge, and the most important one is in your own head.

      Meanwhile, banish that rat! Here is a weird but good trick: The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman assigns each person a daemon (kind of like a Patronus from Harry Potter, too). They are like a spirit animal, a reflection of soul, character and they act as an inner voice for the instinct…..I won’t spoil the plot other than to say it has talking polar bears! Your cheater’s one is a rat, and a sewer-dwelling one at that. So what’s your daemon? What species would you be, if not human? I know this sounds all woo-woo, but it worked as a silly trick for me. Mine is a sleek, chubby, wild raccoon. Nimble, smart and agile. Wounded and sick, sometimes, but still, very much alive…because she drove that snake out of her life.

      love to Chump Nation
      x-Meh (who will return to her snark-ass self fairly soon)

  • Eve

    You were unfortunate enough to see the monster with his mask off. Yes, the narcissistic rage you encountered when you mightily set boundaries and said this is ENOUGH and filed!!! That was the UGLY in your life. Narcissists are self loathing and they are masters at extracting the “goodness” from out very core. No one can rob you from your beauty quite like a soul sucking leech.
    I still can pull up the image of the X when he received his papers. UGLY raging monster with veins popping out his neck with nostrils flaring. X had the same look in court when he showed up at court huffing and puffing. UGLY. And the same face as he sat at the back of the church at my granddaughters graduation ALONE as I was sandwiched between my daughters. UGLY

    Eve you are NOT ugly. You final got UGLY out of your life. Hooray!! Stand tall you have a nation with you!!! The erosion of yourself worth stops here.

  • All this-everything everybody said, but also:

    Go buy new underwear. Buy the sexiest, fluffiest, cutest, most expensive lingerie you can afford. That you LOVE. In whatever size fits. Buy a new nightie/robe set–Soma has all sizes online, and sales!
    I
    Throw. The. Old. Stuff. Away.

    Go to a mall, get a makeover at a counter for free-take your daughter! Get eyelash extensions or Latisse.

    Get a new haircut–save pics you like, ask people who does their hair. Get high-lutes, low-lites or both. Cover the grey.

    Join a support group at a big church/synagogue/whatever, with LOTS of people.

    And do all that other stuff above, too.

    Fuck that asshole.

    • I highly recommend the underwear suggestion. I love nice underwear and nice sleepwear. Natori is good and I’m a big Soma fan too. It’s small investment retail therapy.

    • I agree– changing my appearance helped me alot in the transition to my new life post-divorce. Nothing drastic, just growing out my hair, getting new glasses, some new clothes. I was married for 26 years also, I know how difficult this transition is! My philosophy has been “fake it til you make it”. And I have focused on the fact that it is a rare opportunity to re-invent oneself at midlife. You can do it Eve!

  • You can get through this. We all can get through this!!
    – get a good therapist
    – connect with people who have gone through this (or who are going through it), especially Chumpnation!
    – time, give yourself time, time and more time
    – when you have something you don’t know how to do, ask for help. Also, Youtube has how-to videos on EVERYTHING.
    – when driving somewhere, study a map.

    I wish I had a map for navigating my way through this nightmarish maze of infidelity and divorce and recovery. But life doesn’t work that way. We didn’t get maps and manuals when we got married, and we sure as hell didn’t get maps and manuals when our marriages blew up. We have to create our own new maps and sometimes that involves charting our course even as we are already moving. The important thing is to keep moving. Forward. We are mighty!

    • Eve – you are brave, you are strong (we can see that from what you’ve done) and you WILL get through – my mother never got out, it’s taken me the better part of five years to do so from my own NPD.
      You’ve done the hardest part, the part I fervently hoped my mother could have done – I grew up with a father like your husband – I can only silently clap and thank the universe that you had the courage and will to get out. You will be exhausted – it will have been a mighty battle, the battle of your life, to get away from him. You will need a lot if time to recover and rebuild – those words – good for nothing – that I heard so often in my own childhood take time to recover from as you find your own voice. But, you will – this is the shaky, scary, bewildering start to the wonderful rest of your life.
      We are all here for you – YouTube and sat Nav are brilliant – your heart and soul will slowly, very slowly heal.
      Most importantly, you have your children and they love you and they will respect you so much for your bravery. After a childhood shattered by narcissistic rages I would also encourage you to seek help for post traumatic stress – you have been emotionally and spiritually assaulted by this man and you will be help to deal with it – but you can. All my aroha (love) goes out to you.
      You have been so brave and the rewards will come.

  • Eve, you are not at the end of a trial, but the beginning. Think about what you want more of in your life, what you want to do with your remaining time on this earth, and what makes you smile. That is your job now. And it is also the path you need to walk to find the next and likely best part of your life.

    “When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” (Ralph Ellison, *Invisible Man*)

    Wishing you strength for your journey of discovery.

    And wishing you and Chumps everywhere a wonderful *Independence* Day weekend.

  • It’s going to a take a bit of time, but you will regain your self confidence. You’ll come to relax and release that it is OK to screw things up every once in a while, and not hear his voice or beat yourself up when it happens. you gotta stop worrying about whether or not you will screw up and just relish the fact that if you do screw up, you will not have to hear it from him!

    My cheating, OCD, undiagnosed asperger loser is extremely phobic of insects. he lost a friend from his youth because he would not attend this friend’s outdoor wedding. he would scream bloody murder whenever somebody left a window open or left the door to the garden open. now that he’s gone, i have not been so careful with these things. The other day, somebody left a window open and garden aphids invaded. I came home and my nine year old daughter’s room was teeming with aphids. The GREAT thing was that all i had to do is get rid of the aphids, which I calmly did, but I did NOT have to hear screaming and insults!

    So if you get lost, you can call whoever you are headed towards, apologize for being late, but you WILL NOT get yelled at and insulted. HOORAY. So just remember that it isn’t such a big deal to make a mistake, it does not define you (even though abusers try their best to make you think so!)

    You probably won’t make a banking mistake, but if you do, so what, you will fix the problem and NOT get yelled and insulted. HOORAY.

    A friend of mine told me a story years ago about a friend of our and her boyfriend. He had bought her an air conditioner and while she was trying to install it, it fell out of the window into the back yard. It was broken into pieces, but she just picked it up and threw it out and didn’t give it another thought. That’s what I think about when I make a mistake that my ex would have gone at me about – I now have the freedom to let air conditioners fall out the window and NOT have it be the end of the World! What freedom!

    I can overcook a steak, burn the toast and leave dishes in the sink if I want to and it’s not the end of the World!

    I hope it’s clear that I am not implying that you (or I) is the screw up our ex’s try to make us think we are. I don’t make an inordinate amount of mistakes and neither do you. But if the grill catches fire and the flames shoot up, I can deal with the problem QUIETLY and without losing my dignity. I try to consider the impact of a mistake, “was anybody hurt?”, “was a large amount of money lost?”, “was a great opportunity lost,?” was a good friend lost,?” If the answer to all these questions is “NO!” then SO WHAT.

    The cancer is the trauma of the nitpicking from a self-centered person that is not happy. I remember going to a BBQ with my ex and it rained. I remember having a good time holed up inside with the people there, waiting out the storm. All my ex did was complain that the event was ruined because of the rain, whereas it was him that was the black cloud!

    • Alyce, thanks for reminding us that making mistakes isn’t the end of the world. I have finally learned that the universe is indeed rather benevolent and there is LOTS of space allowed for making mistakes. I learned this primarily from watching how the universe dealt with my toddler niece when she was learning to walk, hold her spoon, use a toothbrush, climb on the furniture, etc. and make every mistake possible in learning how to be a little person – and you know what? Not only were the mistakes not a disaster, they were necessary to her growth! This was eye-opening to me who had always been very uptight about doing everything right the first time. What a relief to finally relax! Eve, when you can reach the point where you can relish your screw-ups, you will be free of Mr. Hateful and his put-downs. You WILL get there, I promise!

      • So true Wren, we can learn a lot by observing young children. Mistakes are as necessary to growth as success is. True for us all.

  • I found that during the 4 yrs I knew about XH’s affairs, I ceased making decisions for me. I tried to include X and often waited for him to show or join in. I started running for “me time” and often ran with daughter in stroller. I didn’t get close to anyone because I was holding in all this emotional crap. Since he is gone, I feel such a tremendous stress relief and find I can be more genuine/true to myself. And I’m definitely not holding back when/if asked why we split. He’s a cheater and now with a cheater. I can have more fulfilling conversations with the staff of restaurants I frequent than I’ve had with X in a long time!

  • Eve, it took me a couple of YEARS to even start getting my cheater out of my head. You are only three weeks out from signing mediation — it’s totally normal to be a mess right now. You are on the right track, you filed for divorce and got a restraining order, so you are already way ahead of all the abused chumps who stick it out and never leave. But it will take a long time to recover, no way around it. Therapy is a good idea, as is physical activity. If yoga isn’t your thing, then try walking, zumba, swimming, tennis, whatever. Let your daughter buy you presents. Just keep on keepin’ on, and trust that he sucks and you are NOT HIM. It will take longer than you’d like, but slowly you will find he has less presence in your head, as long as you remain as NC as possible.

  • As a close friend once said, “Now you can buy crunchy peanut butter…!”

    Re-do your bedroom/bathroom.

  • Eve: You have been infected by the cheater version of the guinea worm (leading to a disease known as dracunculiasis; really–you can’t make this shit up). The guinea worm is injested, and may take up to a year to be visible as it bores its way out of you. Treatment: “The worm may be slowly removed over a few weeks by rolling it over a stick. The ulcers formed by the emerging worm may get infected by bacteria. Pain may continue for months after the worm has been removed.”

    You have started rolling that cheater up on a stick. It will take a while, the pain may abate, then continue, then abate. But in the end, voila, no cheater guinea worm!! Internal parasite, begone!

    (BTW–if you are currently in Austin, several of us do meet up for tea or drinks. Drop me a line at tempest.ariel2014@gmail.com if you’re interested)

  • Omg, I HAVE your answer. Two words: strength training. Talk about taking back your power. Not to look sexy, or have a good back side, but with the mentality that if the wrong person Fuchs with you, you can lay the smack down! It will rewire your brain- gauranteed!

      • Eve, yes! It has been a few years since those very early days but exercise saved me too. I was a mess the last two years of my marriage (the OW was present apparently, lol!), the next two (divorce proceedings, and his scary scorched earth behavior), and I still struggle some days. It does take time. Through it all I worked out. It clears my mind. Walking and swimming are my favorites, they are easy on the body, inexpensive, and I love how they make me feel. I used to go to my lake at night to swim too. 🙂 I also took classes at the local junior college. Ceramics. You meet good people. Baby steps moving forward and be especially kind to yourself. I let my children know that I expected them to work hard and take daily care of themselves too.

  • So many of us understand this, Eve. But you are not what anyone else says nor are you your thoughts.

    Consider taking charge of your life is an act of defiance. When you make the drive or make a financial decision, you are saying, “Back off. I know what I am doing. I always did.”

    Look at what you did. You divorced an abusive husband, got custody of your kid, and took over the house while holding a job. Does that sound like someone who is too stupid or has no sense of direction? To me, that sounds like you know where you are heading and have your shit together.

  • I know it sounds OCD, but whenever negative thoughts enter my mind I tap my fingers on my leg or a surface 3 times and tell myself NO! Seems silly I know, but it works for me. Believe it or not, the hardest part for me was grocery shopping! I NEVER bought foods that I knew he didn’t like. I NEVER ate at restaurants I knew he didn’t like! He hates Mexican food, but I have eaten at every Mexican food place in town now! It’s my little way of giving him the finger! Love it! I’m enjoying all kinds of “new” things now instead of the same boring crap that only he liked! And I always have traveled around myself. If you have an iPhone then you can do google maps. No expensive GPS equipment needed! Go for the gusto! Carpe Diem!

    • That is exactly what I did too, Roberta. I did things I liked for the first time in years. The biggest F U was dyeing my naturally blonde hair red. Cheater ex hated red hair. I love it. I went out and got the most intense red dye I could get my hands on. Made me smile every day. I was finally free to really express myself in any way I wanted to. Expressing my inner redhead made me feel powerful.

      Eve, Honey I will simply echo everything said here, and to point out not only does it take time to heal and grow, it also takes time to get used to all those changes. A lot of that is just getting comfortable with those changes. Be gentle with yourself….you will get there.

      • Feels good to do what we want, when we want doesn’t it Tessie! My cheater can’t say or do shit anymore! I own him still even though we are divorced! He’s my bitch for the rest of his life! I told him I would own him and he didn’t believe me! He and his Schmoopie thought I was so stupid and they under estimated me terribly. Now BOTH of those asshats are suffering for their actions. Me, I’m having a blast. I can’t thank her enough for taking that “anchor” off of me! Hope she is “happy” with Mr. Boring Ass! And I hope he’s “happy” with his over the hill case of arrested development!

        • Absolutely, Roberta, we own our lives for the first time in a long time…and it feels fabulous. One of the many benefits of dumping a lying, sniveling, POS, cheating spouse.

  • Eve, we do have control over what we think. Our brains only know what we put in them and for 26 years your ex put shit in your brain and for 26 years you have reinforced those lies. Now you have to argue with that voice that is telling you that you are fat, ugly old or whatever other lies it is telling you.
    After i left my ex i felt like a puzzle that had been dumped on the floor in a million pieces and i didn’t even know what pieces were me and what wasn’t and to think about trying to put it all back together was overwhelming. Start slow, give yourself time and take one piece at a time and decide, is this the truth, is it something I want to own or is it bullshit I never should have owned? if it is bullshit, don’t take that piece, if it is true but you don’t like it, change it; if it is true and you like it, keep it. You have an opportunity that not everyone gets. You get to create your best self, you are in control of who you become from this point forward, embrace it. I stopped trying to be find my old self and started trying to be my best self and now I love me. No one is going to love everything about you; accept you and once you love who you are an inner peace will come over you and no one will ever be able to make you feel “less than” ever again.

  • A smart man I knew would always say (about himself) in meetings that were devoted to mental health, “It took me fifty-three years to walk into the woods–I’m not gonna walk out in a day and a half.”

  • Eve, anyone who enjoys making others feel bad about themselves, especially regarding age, weight, appearance, etc. is not worth the effort it takes to spit on them. People should only be judged by their character and actions. And in limited circumstances for the most part even then. After you have been away from the turd for a while you will see him for the asshole he is.

  • CL is absolutely right to advise professional therapy. This monster has done a real job on you and you likely will only start to get some eureka moments that aid in your psychological recovery, with some good guidance and talk therapy. It is the kindest thing for all concerned, partcularly since family may not be capable of helping you. It is better to talk to a professional stranger, and let them take you through a process of understanding what this creep has done to your thought process. The good news is that many of us here have had to do the same therapy, and you stand a good chance of recovery. You can learn to be confident and to trust your capabilities. It takes time. Years of abusive damage cannot unwind instantly – be gentle and cut yourself a whole lot of slack. And stay NC!

  • I am beyond words that can express my gratitude to ChumpNation for reaching out to me. Knowing that I am not alone on this terrifying journey helps me push past the doubt and fear to see glimpses of the better life awaiting me. So, no more cancer or poison analogies. I am sprung from my prison and I will set my face to the new day. I will see myself as you do, not as he did. Thank you for all your suggestions on how to practice my new mindfulness. I would like to say that last night my college-age daughter and I saw Magic Mike and enjoyed the heck out of it. That would NEVER have been okay before!

    • Keep doing things like that, even if you have to force yourself. There’s so much to be said for building new memories. It’s tough when your whole history revolves around the person that causes you so much anxiety. It does get better, a little bit every day. Have faith!

  • Okay Eve… I am going to pass an idea on to you. I have gone through several D-days and also false reconciliation. The final D-day for me came on June 22nd. I am done with him and he will be my STBXH. My goal is to be divorced when my daughter graduates from high school in two years. I am 53 years old. I have A LOT to accomplish, financially, getting stronger emotionally, getting motivated etc. I am at least 50 pounds overweight. I am on Facebook and I started seeing some of my old high school friends talking about going on the Whole30/Paleo diet. I had heard about it and there has been some interesting studies on it reversing diabetes and all kinds of good things including preventing Alzheimers. I am sort of fascinated with it because it apparently can help clean up A LOT of health issues and make you feel better in so many ways because the elimination of certain foods works to reduce inflammation throughout the body.

    My Dad died from Alzheimer’s 5 years ago. My mother has dementia and now is cared for in a group home. Alzheimers runs through the paternal side of my family. Doesn’t look good for me… So, I am on day 3 of this food program which radically makes you revise and pay attention to what you eat. Eliminates dairy, legumes, sugar and alcohol and additives completely for 30 days. Encourages eating LOTS of vegetables, meat and fruit. You also drink LOTS of water. Apparently, 95% of the people who do the program will lose weight but also the main thing is that they will start to feel A LOT better. People feel less depressed and also see a lot of other things with their energy level improve. So I say check into this. I just bought the Whole30 book but there is a ton of stuff on the internet that is free regarding Paleo recipes etc. all over the internet so you don’t have to buy the book

    I look at it this way. I was NEVER in control of anything being married to a narc. He covertly did a lot of things trying to control me- I was the perfect Chump. I am releasing him! I am flushing the toxic narc from my life. So, how about trying something that is actually is good for you and flushing toxins out of your body like you did by taking the first step and divorcing your ex? Hell, the way I look at it is I devoted 31 years and 24 years of marriage ‘hoping’ things would improve- they didn’t. So, I can sure as hell devote 30 days to a diet that may change me and how I look at food, combat emotional eating etc. I am going to follow the diet to a ‘T’. You know what, even if it didn’t work I would say that I was a lot smarter reading up on the diet, planning and attempting something for 30 days over all that I invested in my STBXH. You now what I mean? So, if you are really depressed and overweight try this- it could be the start of something radical. I know I can make my life better. You can make your life better. WE ALL CAN. Go Chump Nation, Go!!!

    • I discovered Paleo 3 years ago and it gave me my life back. I was sick and Doctors couldn’t help me and basically told me I just had to live with it. They were wrong. It’s worth the commitment. Good luck!!

  • {{{Eve}}} First off, I know you didn’t mean to, but you made me cry. The bravery it took for you to write and pour out your soul like that–you’re so much further along than you think.

    I cannot add more to the amazing list of things written by amazing people here that you can do for yourself—each a single step towards knowing that you’re safe to do and say and be whatever you want.

    I will say two things. Last night, my instructor–I’m taking the course to be an EMT–did this experiment–it’s part of learning the module on dealing with people who have a mental illness–he asked us to put earbuds in and he played a youtube video of whispering voices. Voices that said things like “Your so stupid! Why can’t you do anything right! What are you DOING! DOITDOITDOIT!!!” and other things (it’s a representation of what schizophrenics hear daily)—and while we had to listen to these whispered voices in our “heads”, we had to write an essay on what we would like to accomplish out of the class.

    The point was, that when you hear these things, even when you know they’re not real, you know they’re not true—you have a hard time clearing your mind and focusing on anything. Life, your health, your kids, even how you’re going to get to the grocery store. It’s not just distracting–it’s disturbing.

    I barely made it through the recording—and you know what I wrote? I rewrote what I was hearing. It was so difficult to tune the voices out.

    This is what I thought of when I read your letter. This evil man has whispered in your ear for so long, you can’t hear anything else. You’re repeating what you’ve heard him say.

    But he’s gone now. Know who did that? You did. All by your lonesome. I don’t know why you did it, what the triggering event was…but you kicked his ass.

    Now you have to silence those whispering voices he left behind in your head. It was easy for me to pull my earbuds out—but I can tell you, I was shaken to my core. Finding something that works for you, something that cancels out his voice in your head—it won’t be easy. He’s had too long a time in there.

    My instructor went through how to deal with people who have these illnesses—and the main thread that I found? Being kind to them. Listening to everything that they say, giving them validation. I didn’t say agree with everything (like some “neutral parties” will do to you)—but having someone to listen to you, to allow you to pour out your feelings and feel SAFE doing so…will do you a world of good. Coming here was a great first step.

    What’s kinda funny—in this class, we had to take a defensive course that is required for all first responders.

    Know what it’s called? E.V.E. Escaping Violent Encounters.

    Second thing. Many moons ago, my X and I were in the woods with a group of people, mushroom hunting–he and I wandered off from the group. I got separated from him, too. I had my head to the ground, searching for those elusive hen of the woods mushrooms…so much so, I had walked right into the center of a bramble patch. I had noticed that they were snagging my pantsleg to a degree, but I was focused on my goal.

    When I realized that I was surrounded and now one had my sleeve and two others were wrapped around my leg and then I turned and tripped and then fell headfirst into the brambles at large….I was stuck. Brambles hurt like a motherfucker and I knew if I just powered through them, I would get out, but I was afraid that my skin would tear and I’d look like a scratching post…but I was especially afraid of the pain.

    So I started to cry. Sob, really. Dry and long. Then I yelled out….”HELP ME!!!!!!!” figuring X would be nearby and hear me—come and cut away the brambles and free me without me having to get hurt.

    He didn’t come. I yelled for awhile. Not that long, but it seemed like an eternity. I finally stopped crying. Nobody was coming. I had to do this–it was starting to get dark outside. I had to take the tearing skin and the scratches, and get myself out.

    It hurt like a sonofabitch. My clothes got torn, my skin tore and was bleeding…but I got out by myself. Turns out? X heard me crying and he had heard me yell for help—but he said he figured that I was just being dramatic so he didn’t bother to come and investigate.

    Moral of it…you know what kind of pain you’re in for, you can see it. The person that you thought you could trust isn’t going to come help you, in fact–he’s the one who put you in your predicament—you can’t trust him to come save you. You know what you gotta do. You’re gonna have to do it yourself.

    A good therapist is a great start. Spending the money on yourself isn’t a waste—it’s an investment. You need to have more than “pep talks”–you need a steady therapist to guide you through…and I wouldn’t bother with a PCP and a therapist—I would see a Psychiatrist. He/she can diagnose you if you do have depression, prescribe something and titrate it so that you will get the best benefits–and do CBT or something like that with you. Don’t stint on this—it’s your life you’re talking about. NOTHING is “too expensive” or “too good” for you.

    Good luck to you, Eve.

    • Awful. As I said before, if I ever settle with someone new, my number one criterion will be his help/support in times of trouble. Having a partner who doesn’t bother to move when you scream is as good as none. No, wait, it’s much worse: you have to actually work (cook, clean, etc.) for a person for free. Never again.

  • Best Not-Pep-Talks ever! Thank you Chump Nation 🙂
    I’m feeling pretty good today because I realized that after doing the pickme dance for so long, I finally decided to pick ME!
    Eve, hold on to every little truth you find in yourself and repeat them to yourself as often as you can.
    We are mighty!

  • I have always had low self esteem and my STBX having numerous affairs and finally dumping me for a much younger woman doesn’t help. I put up with a lot because I didn’t think I deserved better and I must be the problem. I am starting to realize that he was the problem, not me. All the things he said made me a bad wife were reflections of the way he treated me. And I have to say that CL has helped me immensely, I can now say I deserve better and I didn’t drive him to cheat and I deserve to be treated with respect!

  • Eve,

    If you saw how I live, you would think I am the most triumphant chump of them all…like you I was married 26 years (and 9 days) when my cheater husband died. I got a big pile of money, the house, the cars, the kids, my freedom all in one swoop. I paid of the house, took my daughter to London (saw One Direction form the 8th row), started dating and have overcome to live a fabulous life

    but

    I hope a few of you saw this but coming….even when we are saved from this and have enough money, there is lingering emotional trauma…

    I would be horrified if anyone peeked in my brain and saw how much I think about what my deadhusband did to me …trust me..WAY TOO MUCH

    and I struggle to reprogram my mind

    for years and years, trying to keep him happy and on an even keel (so he wouldnt go apeshit at me) was all I knew. I know I need to process the newest pieces of info I got (about his serial cheating) but my brain crosses the line from processing to obsessing too often.

    I recently had a friend tell me flat out, “it doesnt exist anymore dont ever think of it” I cant, so I need to learn to think of it less and I dont know how.

    • Unicorn, I think processing trauma is a lifelong work in progress. We peel off another layer, deal with it, come to some sort of resolution, and then take time to integrate what we have learned. That doesn’t mean that we don’t occasionally visit a layer from the past. For me it’s kind of like I’m still trying to make sense of parts of that layer that I didn’t fully understand when I processed it at an earlier time. Or I have learned something new that computes better, so I now understand better. We have to do it in our own way, on our own timetable. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. …Hugs, Girlfriend.

      • Tessie, This. Time is a great healer…. IMHO, there are some things in this world that are… incomprehensible. There is no reason. Horrible things happen. It’s important then to realize there are simply some things that are out of our control. Doesn’t make life easy. It’s important to allow ourselves time to grieve, I hang onto the good memories and am grateful for the gifts I have, my children, my family, my work, my faith, and the time I have left.

    • I know exactly what you are talking about unicornnomore! THIS! I decimated my Ex in the divorce and got everything and from outward appearances it all looks like roses. No one can understand why in the world I am not kicking up my heels more and living the “good” life! It barely registers with these well-meaning people the depths of the wounds I suffer from my almost 41 year marriage going up in smoke and add to that the depavity of my Ex ignoring my health issues with lung cancer during all this! It’s surreal. It’s mind numbing! But I am ever so slowly dealing with this monumental disaster and I hope to enjoy to the fullest the life I have now. But those nagging questions, I am afraid, will be around for quite sometime! It sucks and I can only hope that the monster that was once my faithful husband will suffer some sleepless nights over what he did to me and his family. I doubt it though because that would require a conscience and I’m sure he has none! But I will move forward and try to claim my place anyways! I can’t know what in the world his reasons were, but I know it had to be BS!

      • Roberta, thanks for your response. Im so sorry that you had such a bad health crisis in the midst of it. I was not sick but I definitely felt what it was to have him want me dead…he used to rage-drive in a way that was so dangerous, I genuinely, literally did not think that I would exit the car alive….I can only compare it to playing russian roulette and hearing the click of the chamber knowing that I didn’t die, but COULD have.

        I think when people meet their Maker, what was lacking in their conscious get replaced before they have their big debrief with God. After he died, I remember having such a feeling of relief that I no longer had to know that he lived with one (very delusional) reality where he was a great guy who really didnt do anything all that bad and I lived in the real world where the repercussions of his shitty actions and words tore into the fabric of my soul.

        I came to learn that H was not fond of actually lying to me, but he managed to have a secret life simply not saying that he wasnt having a secret life. I assumed the best of him and would have never guessed such a terrible thing.

        I really thought that his BIG A was his only affair, but some things didnt add up. After D day, I found an email from a coworker asking him to dinner and when I confronted him, he gave a lip service apology for having the affair with the OW I knew of. I was so lost in the fog, I didnt see the red flag that in his mind he was asked about one and changed the subject to the other…which meant he compartmentalized them in the same box. The one I didnt expect the affair with, she claimed to be a VERY GOOD friend of his, but she didnt come to his funeral. She had the decency to know not to go…red flag.

        and apparently there were others

        I thought my life was one thing and it turned out it was not

        and I will never know when my marriage actually ended since he never clued me in

        To me, putting an unknown behind you is like trying to close smoke behind an old cracked ill-fitting door…you can slam it and lock it shut and the smoke seeps out between the cracks …swirling, invading your space. My brain thinks that if I could get a spreadsheet of his betrayals then I could heal better but we all know that likely isnt true.

        at some point we have to learn to accept that something was what it was and we have to make the best with what we have.

        Im getting married 2 weeks from today…to a wonderful man who is faithful and true and loving and kind. Im so very blessed. Very seldom do I react to what he says and does in ways that are poisoned by deadhusband, but there are trigger moments when my soul fears Im being discounted or he will someday decide that Im too much trouble or expense. I have to nip those moments in the bud so that my past doesnt threaten my future.

        My best to all of you

        • oops, I meant conscience, not consious

          to clarity …the bad affair was 10 yrs ago, he claimed it was emotional only to his very last breath

          we wreckonciled but he was still a mess and I dont think he had other affairs after that one

          I learned 11 months after his death that his big affair was much worse than he ever confessed to and about 3 months ago, I learned that there were others prior, so even though Im grieving events from a decade ago, the knowledge of them is new and fresh for me and the reassurance I previously gave myself that he was faithful for the first 18 years was based on a big stupid lie…I have to get used to reality that is new to me.

  • Huge fellow chump hugs to you, Eve!

    I was with my cheater x for 28 years, married for 25. The mind invasion is devastating. He has been away from me for 3 years, but clearing his harmful words from my brain is still a work in progress.

    During my marriage, he had convinced me that he always knew what was right. My thoughts and opinions, especially on financial matters, were not valued. In the last 3 years, I have made some huge decisions on my own. I’ve sold the large home that I got in the divorce, bought a new little house, sold a car that I couldn’t afford, and bought a great new economical one. With each decision, cheater x’s voice would come up. It tried to tell me that I wasn’t smart enough (I actually have a business degree), I didn’t understand the decision fully, that I couldn’t make a good decision on my own, etc., etc… I fought these voices one situation at a time. I fought them with the truth…. I am smart, I can research choices, I can ask for help from experts, I am 100% able.

    Fighting the voices of cheater x one decision at a time has worked. I made an awesome decision on selling my house. I found a realtor (friend) that knew about the abusive situation with cheater x. I counted on her to help with the business and emotional ends of the deal. I am in a new cute house that is safe and comfortable. I bought a new car that got voted “lowest out of pocket owner expenses over 5 years” that I absolutely love. With each big decision I make, I am learning to trust the truth about myself.

    The road to ridding these emotionally abusive men from our head is not quick or easy. I still struggle with self esteem (he preferred women in their early 20’s, the age of our daughter). I can tell you, however, that one decision at a time is what has helped me to heal and rid him from my mind.

    You are mighty!! You can heal from this!! You are too valuable to let a cheating x define who you are.

  • Eve,

    I can’t add to the thoughtful comments and support that have been shared here. However, I can say that I know this struggle. You really can get through this and I wish there were a magic cure but there isn’t. It’s hard work and putting one foot in front of the other.

    I’ve found exercise and yes, walking my dogs very helpful. I love quiet nights now and there is nobody telling me I’m lazy or boring. It’s nice to live on my own terms but I still am figuring out what those are. His voice is still in my head as well, but as CL and others have said I do remind myself that he was full of crap and it’s my job to replace those ugly thoughts with compassionate thoughts.

    I work in mental health and one of the psychiatrists always recommends her clients take fish oil as it helps manage mood. I take it and it seems to help.

    Folks here are kind and know this walk. Listen to their advice and suggestions. It’s your life to live and you get to live it on your terms. Don’t let your cheater steal one more moment of it.

    • Getting good sleep seemed to make a huge difference in managing my mental state in the early days too.

  • Coming late to the conversation but what great advice from everyone! Eve, I am in awe – filing in January and done in June? You totally rock!

    Just to add my two bits, I think the hardest thing I had to deal with after X left was what I didn’t know. I remember my sister asking me about something, then interrupting my reply and saying, “I’m tired of asking you what you want and you always talking about what everyone else wants. If I want to know that I’ll ask them. What do you want?” And I had no idea.

    I had defaulted to what X, the kids, the volunteer organizations, my mother, the job, wanted for so long, and my days were so full of taking care of other people, that I had no idea of what worked for me, of what I wanted. And I remember that when I did have a glimmer during my marriage – a favourite holiday spot, a quiet afternoon reading, working in the garden – X would always be sure to interrupt with some crisis or need, making it clear that I was being selfish and that his needs came first. Near the end he didn’t even have to say anything – I’d suggest going to a restaurant I liked and all he needed to do was smirk and roll his eyes and I knew I had made a bad/inappropriate/inconsiderate decision. It wasn’t until I was away from the crazy, though, that I realized this, that I could analyse it, deconstruct it, and understand it.

    I really like CL’s analogy to colonization. This post really made me think –

    http://www.chumplady.com/2012/11/my-useless-masters-degree-in-african-history-explains-infidelity/

    Once I started to frame my experience in terms of “colonization of the mind” it made so much sense to me, the old hippy chick. It gave me something to work with as I started to search for what I wanted, needed, loved.

    To give you an example of how it worked for me, I, like you, had it in my head that I had no sense of direction and as a result was a lousy driver and couldn’t be trusted to drive long distance. I hated driving and totally get the heart pounding on the highway. When X left he “gave” me the 15 year old Volvo standard wagon as it was “good enough” and had “a few more miles in it”. I was always stressed driving it, never knowing when it would break down and hating to drive anywhere with hills (not really an option where I live!) or on a freeway or bridge, But I accepted that it was “good enough” and by corollary that it was all I deserved.

    One night driving home from work I knew something was wrong. I made it to my sister’s place, and when my nephew went to pull the car into the garage the front driver’s wheel fell off. It turns out that the mechanic who had done the struts a few weeks before and had not torqued down the bolts that held the front wheel assembly on. I was beside myself – I knew I couldn’t drive the car any more even it it was fixed, but it was like I was stuck in molasses. All I could thing was this is my fault, what if someone else had been in the car, what am I going to do….

    My sister to the rescue. She bitch slapped me (metaphorically, of course!) and the next day I went and bought a new car. On payments! Not a standard! Not a Volvo! Oh, I heard the voice of the X the whole time; he is a cheap bastard who would only pay cash for a vehicle, he would only buy a standard, and a Volvo……but I did it, my sister holding my had the whole time.

    And you know? I may not have the best sense of direction, but when I’m not worried about rolling back on hills, or the car stalling out in the middle of traffic, or the brakes going on the freeway, or wondering where I will get the next $2000 for car repairs – I really don’t mind driving! I can drive on the freeway without the heart pounding anxiety. I can live in a beautiful condo with underground parking ramps because I don’t need to worry about rolling back into someone. And for the sense of direction – that’s why there are maps and GPSs.

    And as I replace more and more in my life with places, things, people that X has no influence over, I feel myself healing a little every day. Yes, he is still in my head, but the voice gets fainter and less consequential with every new decision I make.

    You are mighty, Eve! I wish I had been as stong as you are. Keep making those awesome decisions for yourself, treat yourself very kindly, surround yourself with good folk, get the support you need medically and psychicly, and day by day things will get better and better.

  • The best revenge is living well, better than you ever did with Cheater. He showed up in Jan to shovel snow at the family home ( living in his man cave apt ) and then bragged to daughter about what a nice guy he was. Daughter, who lives elsewhere, sweetly said ” Mom is in Mexico. Why did you bother?” Wish I had seen the look on his face.
    Ladies, make life easy on yourself by eating out, take outs, art classes, Bridge classes, travel to China,
    Europe, Australia, Mexico and Alaska. 60 yr old Cheater and 60 yr old OW ride bikes and sail 8 ft boat,
    thinking they are 16 yrs old again. I prefer First/Business Class and 5 star hotels. So nice on his money.
    Start making new friends and enjoy yourself and your new life.
    Cheater sent chirpy, friendly emails to test the waters of my response to his contacts, but I deleted every one. What a waste of my time!

  • You go Helen! It’s so very nice traveling to places I like to go for a change and the bonus is it is on Cheaters dime! He is 60 years old now and has to work everyday to support me! I love it! I’m on vacation everyday while he and his idiot Schmoopie work their asses off for me! I hope my two bitches are happy with their decision to cheat! Of course he NEVER thought I would get every damn thing in the divorce! He and Schmoopie thought I was just too damn dumb I guess. Oh well, guess they under estimated me and my attorney. That’s what happens when a guy thinks with his “little head” instead of his “big head”! All I know is it works out great for me!

  • That’s right, ladies ! I chose this very attitude too. I go out twice during the work week, go to the local beach the other evenings to swim. I listen to every concert of Jazz/Funk/electro/Irish music that happen in the area (instead of female Bulgarian popstars with miniskirts, yuk), I meet many new people of my age group who enjoy being free, I eat at restaurants he did not like (Japanese, Indian, etc.), I draw whenever I well please even during the night, I plan a trip to the US where I haven’t been for 5 years because he said he hated Americans, I’m thinking of visiting Austria and Hungary with my car, and thinking of boarding one of these Costa Cruise ships that stop in the area. I may soon take a ferry to Corsica because it’s cheap and fast and people say it’s worth it (he was never interested). I can spend the whole weekend with family or old friends and stay as long as I please and even do NOTHING (he would always want to leave early and visit 3 or 4 cities). I am sure there are a lot of other things I haven’t thought of, because he was not interested in doing them. Oh yes, have a drink on a boat that sails at sunset for example, it happens every saturday.

  • Dear Eve, first of all, congratulations on making the first steps! I also had to deal with an NPD. It was complicated by the fact that we had moved to Asia, that I had to force him out by deception, and that he took all he could in the divorce (including my dogs). It was long, drawn-out, and anything but amicable.

    For almost 20 years this asshole told me who I was, what I was worth, what I could or could not do with my money — despite that I was the major earner — and how bad a mother I was to my sons from a previous marriage. Like you, I felt worthless at the end of it all.

    But you know what? It didn’t take long to feel the fresh clean air of freedom. To focus on the fact that I no longer had anyone to answer to but myself.

    One thing that helped me is that I met a guy early-on, a rebound guy, who was lovely and helped me feel better about myself. At the time I was 51 years old, gaunt and hollowed from the “infidelity diet”, out of shape and completely at a loss. It wasn’t the sex (although that was pretty good lol) but the moment of looking into someone else’s eyes and seeing myself from a completely new perspective. Seeing and realizing that someone else could like or value me for who I am, not who he thought I should be.

    That was almost 9 years ago and it was a very brief encounter, and I’m not saying it was necessary but it helped. After that I started working out, focusing on what “I” wanted out of life, making new friends and doing both new things and old things I had forgotten I enjoyed. Now, I live a pretty quiet life, but I’m content. I still live in the fresh clean air of freedom, and am thankful for every day of it.

    You will be okay, and more than okay. Shedding a cheater is like shedding an old skin that was rotting your inside from the outside.

  • Sassiernow, THIS! It is absolutely imperative, IMHO, to live well and get in shape! Grasp every wonderful fun opportunity you can. The best revenge is living well and it pisses the Cheater off to no end! These assholes are counting on us falling apart, DON’T GIVE THEM THE SATISFACTION! I know my cheater thought I would just vanish and give him and his whore everything! Surprise Asshole! I absolutely LOVE knowing he is working his ass off so I can finally do all the things he promised he would do with me! He is a bore and lazy, Schmoopie is probably tearing her hair out right now, but I made it clear she could have his lazy, old, boring, selfish ass with no returns! He was on CLEARANCE as far as I was concerned! She will have to off load him on someone else! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    • Thank you Roberta! My ex is also a bore and lazy, and didn’t end up with his bar girl because he had to leave the country. The only thing I heard about him after that was that his new girlfriend in our home town was ejected from a hair salon for being drunk, rude and obnoxious on an early Saturday afternoon. I heard this from the young lady who cut my hair while I was there on home leave, a friend of my son who witnessed the event.

      Hope he’s happy now. Lol.

  • A question to ladies who have evicted the cheater: have you experienced your energy level going up ?

    Mine has gone up so high, I can go out every other evening while in the past, one party would leave me tired for a week. I can drive 25 miles to have a barbecue next to a pool ; before, everything was always too far, too exhausting, not worth the effort. I can do the chores in my house and still have time to read some pages of a good book. It feels as if I am suddenly 10 years younger. The only problem is I cannot sit at my computer for hours, I need to move ! So strange…
    I noticed also that when he comes to pick up some stuff, and stays longer than expected, my battery is dead for the rest of the day. Is a cheater an energy vampire or what ?

    • ChumpFromF, this is so true! I believe it’s because we don’t have to listen to them constantly criticizing our every decision or in general complaining about minute, insignificant shit! Plus, we don’t have to make sure that we have “covered” everything that makes them comfortable. We can also decide when to leave without them crawling up our ass or giving us the stink eye to leave!! It’s now OUR time and comfort we worry about and we are quite capable of knowing what we want, Thank you! Yep! The energy level is up for us and very positive!

      • ChumpF and Roberta – this is the very reason to give the little lady or gent chocolates and flowers for giving chumps freedom from the disordered.

        My house sings now.

        The OW and paid sex workers saved my life. Crazy isn’t it?

        • Roberta,
          You are so right about the off-loading. When I made it clear to the OW that I would not be accepting any returns of used merchandise, her gloating smirk disappeared pretty fast.

          I think every chump should make a list of why life is better without the Cheater and keep adding to it when another reason crops up. I keep my list posted inside a kitchen cupboard door, and it is remarkable how many items are on it.

          Energy level -definitely better without Old Killjoy around.

      • I remember the feeling of utter relief and freedom. It was many years ago so the relief part has faded into the background, but feeling free remains and is the best feeling in the world.

  • It takes a lot of baby steps, and it sometimes also takes guidance from a professional to help you create your own definition of your worth, but you are closer to evicting cheater than you think.

    In there somewhere is that worthy version of you, because it was in the driver’s seat when you got the protection order, when you filed for divorce, when you attained sole conservatorship. Let that worthy version of you do the driving more often. Eventually it won’t just be driving during crisis, it will be your autopilot.

    It knows the next right thing that needs to be done, so do that, take credit for the accomplishment, rinse and repeat. When you look up again, you will see worthy in yourself.

  • Yes, it is very early for you. I am 2 years out, and my ex is still taking up way too much space in my head. We share children, so that’s part of it, but not all of it. I need to retrain my brain. I still feel like I need to ask permission to DO anything, even little things…am still walking on eggshells when I don’t need to be any longer (years of gaslighting, negativity, and emotional abuse from being married to him), and I don’t trust my own judgement. I, too, need to work on this.

    Think of it like PTSD. It’s gotten into your head, but you can heal. CL is right. The plants that you water will grow. The plants that you starve will wither. Make sure you’re feeding the best parts of you (still in there!).

  • So many good suggestions here, and I can tell you from experience that they really do work. Will yourself to unlearn the learned helplessness many of us have by just DOING whatever it is your STBX tried to hold you back from or mocked you for doing. And the thing is, Eve, you are already doing just that–keep going and I promise you the voice in your head will begin to fade.

    I relied a bit more on friends early on in the process to show me how to do ridiculously simple tasks that nevertheless intimidated me–learning to use the snowblower in defiance of STBX’s voice in my head telling me I was going to electrocute myself or run over my foot. By the time spring rolled around and I needed to mow the grass, I was confident enough to learn how to start the mower via You Tube and not care if my neighbors saw how many times I had to pull the cord before I could get it to start.

    STBX is an artist and mocked my supposed lack of aesthetic sensibilities for years, so when it came time to decorate my small little place I had to will myself to buy wall hangings and furniture (used–gasp!) that I knew he would smugly mock as tacky–I was amazed to find that the decor came together beautifully in ways I never would have imagined. Anything that didn’t work the way I liked, I took back and tried again until I got it right. Acting in defiance of the voice in my head and learning not to fear mistakes have been huge steps forward in keeping STBX off my mental grass.

    The biggest step of all came this weekend, when I agreed to take a family vacation at the request of our adult son, who won’t be back in the country for another year and asked us if we could all be together one last time. Family vacations have always been an occasion for the worst kinds of emotional abuse from my STBX, but so much of the wisdom and support here, along with the UBT, have helped me see through his bluster and his manipulation and recognize the fact that they can’t work if I refuse to let them. Even better, when I nipped the small things in the bud, he wasn’t able to lay the foundation for worse forms of abuse (big disclaimer here, he was never violent and I have never been in physical danger, so this obviously does not apply in all situations).

    As I’ve learned from CL and CN, the best way to do take away the narcissist’s power is via no contact–and again, you are ahead of the game on that, Eve! But it’s only been two months since I filed and I found it within myself to use the occasion of a family gathering to draw boundaries, refuse to engage in the old patterns that used to make our vacations so miserable, and ignore the resulting tantrums that used to have me walking on eggshells. A couple of times, I actually made STBX my bitch and almost enjoyed laying it down!

    You want to obsessively text during dinner? No seat at the table for you! I’m sorry, what did you say? I’m being ridiculous? Sorry, I can’t hear you. No phones at the table everyone, thanks! You say I can’t drive the rental car because my name isn’t on the papers (he made sure to arrive at our destination first to get the car)? No problem, if I get into a crash on the way to the grocery store I’ll just tell them you were driving, ok bye! You don’t like the brand of sunscreen I bought? I will just sit quietly and say nothing when you whine about your sunburn and imply that it’s my fault, thinking to myself, too bad for you! The list went on and by the end of the weekend he was so flummoxed he couldn’t wait to get the hell out of here, so I decided to add on an extra day for myself to enjoy being alone.

    Trust me, Eve–if I can get here after nearly 30 years of marriage to a raging narcissist, you will too!

  • Eve, I can relate to your anxious feelings. You have to force yourself to do the things that scare you, just start with the little things. One of the first things I did was take a long road trip by myself to visit a cousin. I just wanted to prove that I was capable finding the place. I got a little lost, but I eventually made it to her house. It sure felt good!

    At first a lot of people were telling me what to do, I think because I was in shock and seemed incapable of making my own decisions. One day I stood up to a person who was trying to tell me what to do and announced “I don’t care whether I make the right decision, or the wrong decision, I just want to make MY OWN decision!” I went on to explain that I would never learn to rely on myself with someone else always telling me what to do. Luckily that person listened and backed off.

    I know that everything is really frightening at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. Just give it time. I was married 31 years and I’ve been 3 years post divorce. I’m just now getting to the point where I don’t feel the bond with my ex any more. For the longest time I still felt connected to him. Think about it, your brain was organized around pleasing this person for many years, now it’s having to reorganize around pleasing yourself. It’s a lot of rewiring!

  • Why on earth would you let your abusive ex define the rest of your existence? You’re free of him. Why would you let that asshole be the last person you love? Why would you hand him that power?

    THIS!!!!!

    I’ve always struggled with a low self opinion about my attractiveness, and when my husband of 14 years cheated on me and blindsided me (he literally walked out mid-sentence on his life and moved away, hot cup of coffee on the counter and toddler trying to run after him), my body dysmorphic disorder (self-diagnosed) went into overdrive. So, I’m done. No one’s ever going to love me. I may be a kick-ass human being, but my body is jacked up and the reality is men care about this. So I’ll just refuse to hope. No love, not again. It’s brought me nothing but anguish. My ex never had to say one negative word about my body for me to feel this way. I presumed it to be true when he dumped me and our beautiful 1 & 2 year old babies for a stripper 2,200 miles away. How does one go about changing THAT perception, one that’s been there since being a romantically rejected teen, now reinforced as a romantically rejected 40 year old single mom? I can’t decide which is more painful: the obliteration of my soul from what my husband did to me and our babies, or the death of hope in my heart about ever having love again. I don’t want to hand him that power, but it sure doesn’t feel voluntary.

    • hissecrettreason – I understand that is how it feels right now and that’s ok. It’s perfectly normal to think that it’s easier not to love again. Time will heal that. It all takes time. Just remember – there are 7 billion people in this world and to think that NONE of them could love you is just ridiculous. It’s stinkin thinkin – and I’m pretty sure time will take care of that. I’m so very sorry you are going through this, but know that you will be ok – you have two beautiful children and what he did is NO reflection on you. It’s all about HIM sister. He wasn’t worthy of your love and that’s that!

      • You just made my day! Thank you so much for taking your time to bless me with some much needed logic. Yes, this is most definitely a time when emotions feel like facts. These narcissistic ‘sleeper-cell’ men who blindside and bail sure do make you feel like you’re losing your grip some days. Again, THANK YOU. 🙂

  • I have found this post to be transformational. I responded initially with some advice about how I have succeeded in evicting my ex from my head. I think I have made some substantial progress, but I am noticing that he is not as out of my head as I thought. He could never handle free time, could not “hang out,” and when there is a lull, I become anxious, but I am learning to breathe through it and turn it around. I am still living in reaction to him, and yes, it is like PTSD. Even though I can now read in bed, I still think, “glad I can read in bed now,” instead of just doing it. It wasn’t simply that the light kept him up, it was the way he just gave me an order to “turn off the light,” like my need to read myself to sleep mattered not. Had he asked nicely, I could have felt good about accommodating him.

    So, I am realizing this journey will take longer than I thought, but at least I am moving in the right direction.

  • I know I am lucky as I was not married to my long time relationship X – but after 6 months of breaking up, him moving out, lawyer, bank, refi mortgage, buying him out & closing, I am exhausted. I think ” HE” is still in my head because right now nothing else on a higher plane is filling the void. I just haven’t figured it out yet. What used to work well for me to “get over it” when I was young is just not happening, now. How could it? I’m 59, not 29… –It kind of feels like being banished to this strange place where I don’t recognize myself. Oh sure, I can talk the talk but I am definitely not there walking the walk… There is big fear of the unknown. Where do I go from here? You make decisions in tandem with someone for years, decades, and now it feels like I can’t make a decision on my own. Wow, never been in this place before.

    I think I was pretty repressed, suppressed and I sublimated myself in this relationship for 15 years… – but there are glimmers of myself that are starting to emerge – and that gives me hope. A loss, like a death, needs a period of mourning. When the dust of betrayal settles, there are many facets good and bad to let go of, and so many emotions to work through. I pray for strength as I walk through the valley of the shadows.

    Eve, your inquiry resonates with me because I am a newbie here, I am 6 months out from when my life came crashing down around me in a heap of betrayal, secrets, and lies. Like you and those here, all I have known for a very long time, good and bad, is still very much in the “front of my mind” and still occupies my heart, broken as it is.

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