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I Am a Rock. I Am an Island.

Apologies to Simon and Garfunkel. Every time I read on here that someone has gone “grey rock” on a narcissist, I start humming the “I Am a Rock” song.

I’ve built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain
I am a rock
I am an island

Don’t talk of love
But I’ve heard the words before
It’s sleeping in my memory
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried
I am a rock
I am an island

Oh, I know the difference between hardening your heart (the sad subject of this song) and deliberately being so dull and lifeless as to disinterest a narcissist. But I did get to thinking about grey rock strategies — how exactly do you turn off your heart and build that impenetrable fortress?

To the newbies — grey rock is the recommended strategy for dealing with disordered wing nuts. If you can’t go no-contact, you do the faux contact of grey rock — you simply don’t engage. No kibbles for YOU! The theory being that when the narcissistic finds that the channels of manipulation (charm, rage, self-pity) aren’t getting the desired results, they’ll just grow bored and give up.

The Zen master of grey rock here at CN is UXWorld who had to live with his ex — how long was it? an eternity? — while the divorce was grinding along. I get letters from chumps in this situation every day. Generally, the letters are so long and so woeful and full of frustration, that I can’t print them. (Pro Tip: you’ll greatly increase your chances of a published letter if you use paragraph breaks.) But I feel their pain. I realize they’re writing to me instead of smashing a window pane over a cheater’s head instead.

And the fact of the matter is — I don’t have any terrific advice on how to do grey rock while you are living with a cheater. I’m hoping all of you today at Chump Nation will share some pointers on how you did it. Frankly, I would HIGHLY recommend NEVER putting yourself in the situation of co-habiting with the person you are divorcing if you can at all legally avoid it. No contact is the path to healing. Grey rock is the path to ulcers.

So, CN, how did you do it? Chew through a few leather straps? Scream into pillows? Write me 7,000 word essay blocks?

Grey rock strategies, please!

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  • I failed miserably at this.

    I could not believe the love of my life DID this stuff. I refused to absorb and accept WHAT THAT MEANT. My stubbornness in resisting HE DID NOT CARE and THERE WAS NO RELATIONSHIP lasted years.

    [Actually, until he suddenly produced on his Christmas with our horrified kids the girlfriend (not OW) he had kept secret since I filed 3 years before. They were going to live happily ever etc etc. Yes, nothing like hard evidence how rapidly he moved on with another replacement to finally knock sense into me.]

    I so screamed, shrieked, explained, wrote missives he never read, cried, ranted, used alcohol, tried to understand and ‘love him better’ and in the words of the First Step, lived a life of unmanageable insanity.

    Hope other people had more of a backbone and self respect!

    • Patsy and I are friends (we nearly crack open the crust of the earth with our awesomeness so we have to live on different continents to keep from breaking planet earth) but she and I simultaneously went through our eras where we were trying to get our then-spouses to UNDERSTAND and react lovingly to the pain they caused us.

      We learned very very slowly…like painstakingly, “ruin your life” slowly

      but, here we finally are…giving advice to newbies

      The one grey rock success I had was when nowdeadcheater would bait me into some conversation where he would manipulate me so that he could later blame me for something and my response was a very deadpan “I don’t control you.” It was great whether he was threatening to do something in the future, blaming me for the past…it covered many bases and worked well to shut his shit down.

    • sorry I’m new to this just wondering did anyone else stay with the other woman and is happier with a new son as well while leaving me and 3 kids all under 6 at the time heartbroken and now 3 years later still happy families and trying to include our kids as well and I’m still devasted and only now picking myself up while he had a running head start and got his new family which just makes me sad. oh she was the secretary by the way new me and the kids and she was pregnant within 4 months of me finally finding out .how do just get over the hurt and betrayal of leaving one family for another ? how do I stop myself missing him and wanting my family complete again ? he never wanted me back went straight into her house and never looked back after 14 years 3 kids while I’ve cried every day over it.

      • Hi Amanda,

        I tried reconciliation with the ex for about 3 years. I didn’t work obviously and we decided to split. We were barely split 5 months and he was already living with the (married) other woman and when she finally got divorced, they immediately got married. He never looked back after 27 years together so I know what you’re talking about.

        The fact that he tried reconciliation didn’t make it any better either. It actually made it a little worse because obviously he had never stopped contacting the other woman while I was pick me dancing my heart out for those three years. The first year after our divorce was pretty rough but I promise you that it gets better. Eventually the days that you spend crying will get few and far between and then you’ll stop.

      • Amanda–if you’re still crying every day 3 years out, it may be that your brain needs a jump start to get back on track. Have you spoken to a doctor about anti-depressants? Do you have a supportive therapist? No doubt it is hard to craft a new life with 3 children all under age 10, but you have to take small steps toward that–find another mother or group of parents who are single parents, or doing more than their fair share of the parenting load. Everyone needs a support system (and it’s the #1 predictor of good mental health).

        Your X is a complete jackass loser, but you are not defined by him or by the loss of your marriage. Cultivate YOU, cultivate your children, and do whatever it takes to emotionally engage from the fuckwit you bred with. Big hugs!

      • amanda sands, it’s just a very sad situation you’re in, heart-breaking.

        I can’t imagine that cheater and co-cheater are one whit happy. I’m thinking totally miserable. Gross.

        You have my sympathy, dear lady. even more, too, because of his despicable actions, I now feel the urge to start a campaign. I don’t knoexactly what kind of campaign it would be, but it would protect the break-up of families. Maybe it would have sanctions against home-wreckers. Not sure, it just now came to me, but I know that I wouldn’t want that to ever happen to anyone.

      • Amanda – I’m so sorry to read your story. It sounds horrific. You are not alone. Your X sounds like the typical narcissist who can leave 3 kids under 6 to go off and be “happy”. That is not the normal behavior of a man of integrity. Of course you are still reeling. I would reread the post “Trust that He Sucks”. Your X sounds like he truly sucks. Start believing it and stop missing him.

      • She probably appeared to have something more for him somehow. She was to be the answer to his problems in this totally unfair life full of inferior people. He will become bored and dissatisfied there too. His disappointment in her (because he will not blame himself for choosing her) will lead to rage and all the other immature behaviors that you had to deal with. Breathe deeply. You have escaped the madness.

      • Amanda…the mistake I made – for a very long time – was hoping that the sitch with that specific cheater would get better. I had SO MUCH sunk into THAT relationship…we had 3 kids and 21 yrs together (18 married ) when he was running around with his howorker Susan that I prayed that he would come back to his senses.

        What I failed to admit to myself at the time was …if he was willing to do that horrible thing to me (and with years to process this, I have come to see that the blame-shifting, cruelty and discounting were worse than the fact that he fucked her) the he was actually SO HORRIBLE, so completely messed up that a really good life was never to be found with him.

        I got my wish back then and he returned to me…he did virtually no work rebuilding our marriage, he promised full truth and disclosure when he was “ready” which was never, he was stil lmalcontented and mean and blamed me for everything. When he returned with no remorse or effort to rebuild and acted like it was all nothing, it hurt about 80-90 % as much as when he did it all in the first place.

        But I am as stubborn as an ox, I would prove to myself, him and the whole universe that he was wrong to leave, my friends were wrong to advise divorce…I stuck it out with saintly patience for a total of 7 years, 5 years after he returned. He remained a cranky asshole to his last breath. After he died and I went through his papers, I learned that his affair was not only MUCH worse than I was told, there were others.

        What I did was waste years of my life waiting for a person to change when he had shown me time and again that he was a mean selfish asshole. He was a MASTER as knowing exactly how few kibbles he had to give me along the way to keep me hopeful.

        I so totally get the pain, I was in abject pain for years. What I learned though was that life really is SHORT. I found some photos of myself as he was heading into the dark era that destroyed everything and I was a young woman…I gave my youth to that whole fucking mess.

        Im remarried and happy. Im not promising you will find a new partner..my new marriage wouldnt have been a good step parenting sitch, but that is me. Whether single or partnered, you need to live and thrive and quit worrying about them, they suck.

        • Unicornnomore,, today you have given me hope and strength. I wanted the chance to make it better after 2 months apart but he blamed me for everything saying my response to finding him lying and with his new “friend” was the reason he can’t reconcile, it was a jealous over reaction ( his words) and that I have made him ill with my initial lack of communication and therefore he hasn’t the strength to reconcile. Your words today have made me realise that I should be jumping for joy that he refused to try again. And the fact you have found love again is wonderful. Thank you,

          • Im so glad I could help, really… Please please see that a reaction like the one your spouse displayed is a SERIOUS indicator that he would never be fair and decent to you

            “my response to finding him lying and with his new “friend” was the reason he can’t reconcile, it was a jealous over reaction ( his words) and that I have made him ill with my initial lack of communication and therefore he hasn’t the strength to reconcile”

            these are not the words of a reflective, kind, devoted person..they are the words of a blamer…a weasel, not a person who would consider your best interest interests. During the time I was in this stage, he was SO mean, cruel, manipulative and assholish…I told him that I considered calling OW to ask her to leave him alone ..that bastard said “you could have called her, I would have been fine with it” yet during that time he overreacted violently to anything I said or did and if I had called her them he would have said that my actions had done more damage than his….I recount this story to share that they will insure that you lose…they will not react in ways that are true, trustworthy or reasonable, in everything they will insure that you are on the losing end of every single interaction regardless if it requires them to lie, abuse and manipulate you.

            This is no way to live, you need to be able to trust your partner.

        • Everything unicornnomore writes, is relevant to me. The HORRIBLE cruel treatment hurts as much as the original disrespect.

          We are living walking examples that wreck onciliation really does not work. I think we have 12 years of soul destroying effort between us (7 years for me)

      • Oh Amanda, I am so sorry he is so awful. But I promise you they aren’t happy. They are working their asses off to the show the world how perfect their lives are and how happy they are. The prettier the facebook pictures, the more F#$*ed up the real picture.

        Someone I love dearly was the OW, he left his wife and they spent ridiculous amounts of time and money trying to look perfectly happy. Seven years later they are perfectly miserable. They both want a divorce, (I think they might both be cheating), but they can’t pull the trigger because they are too invested in the image they have been trying to sell the world.

        You husband didn’t find his soul mate, they are both hoping to outrun the mess of their lives. They are hoping if they fake it long enough and well enough maybe this will be a genuine relationship. They are both too damaged to realize two broken people can never fix each other.

        You were horribly betrayed, but you are still a good person, who is capable of love and real relationships.. He was a selfish idiot, still is, and always will be.

  • I’m actually dealing with that situation right now. After 19 years of marriage I’ve finally filed for divorce. We’ve been in separate bedrooms since last May, but since I am the breadwinner, my lawyer has adviced me that I can’t separate my finances until things are final.

    The narc rages have died down a bit, but basically I try to avoid him as much as possible, but when he does get pissed off and decides to rant at me I sit there with a neutral expression and make noncommittal remakes as needed. I try to no longer internalize anything he says.

    “I Am a Rock” used to be my anthem, but I’ve found that by taking a few steps back from my STBX, I have the strength to open myself up to new friends at work and elsewhere, and I’ve found a whole new tribe of people who love and value me. It helps to build up the self esteem worn down by my husband trying to blame me for his cheating.

      • When I don’t react, he accuses he of hating him. I guess in his sickness, if I don’t love him then I must hate him. He can’t fathom that I just don’t want to get sucked down that rabbit hole anymore. Every day I’m one step closer to “meh.”

        • Hey, ItsNotJustMe, I was in your shoes with Cheater #1. He would go off on these massive rants. I learned to get up and walk the heck away. He eventually got sick of shouting to himself. There is absolutely no reason for you to sit and listen to his bullshit. Walk away, go into a room with a door and shut it behind you.

          • A friend of mine had one of these. His ex was mad at him, yelling, and he walked outside. She followed him, yelling “I’m not done talking to you.” He stopped, turned to her, and said, “I’m done listening,” before walking off.

        • My therapist’s mantra was “Don’t take the drama invite”. Meaning all the primary channels of charm, rage, self-pity and all of their blends are really just bait. Bait to get you to engage. If they can engage you, they will win (even if its in their own minds).

          It took me forever (like ever and ever) to finally recognize a drama invite in time to refuse it.

          Even a totally devastating last word is engagement. Which just invites a reply.

          So my advice to those living with their disordered, is never, ever take the drama invite.

          • Indifference is a great weapon once you learn to wield it. Some of these folks live to see you in distress, it energizes them to know that they’ve upset your life. Even if you don’t really feel disinterested or impassive about what they’re saying or doing — fake it around them and then come here an belt it out.

            My STBX and I did an in-house separation for a year after dday god-knows-how-many. We had to because we financially couldn’t afford to live separately at the time. Had I known about ChumpLady, I would have been one of the ones with a 7,000-word missive about not bludgeoning him to death.

        • Itsnotjustme, he threw that at me as well ‘you despise me’. Its projection: they despise themselves.

  • The grey rock strategy for me is to have the bigger imagination. Imagine a better world, a better life.

    I’m 2 years out now and one thing I notice is that my rather dim witted cheater has NO IMAGINATION.

    Problem solving requires lateral thinking, perseverance, creativity etc. Being original, connecting with your inner playfulness, then making up cool stuff to do. Channel the most bonkers, kick-ass celebrity you can think of, what would they do now?

    So basically, what I’m saying in a cheesy way is “free your mind” and forget about the little shit things. When mine is talking and it sounds like “blah blah blah” I’m smiling to myself, daydreaming of holidays, cupcakes and indoor ball pools. Sometimes I just start texting in front of him like “this guy is here, he’s such a dick” so my attention is always split. I’m always a bit distracted or not present.

    Go ahead and make some awesome plans for your life and focus on them even when your ex is in the same room, have a private joke about them on your phone and if those those are too hard then make your groceries list.

  • Yip. That’s it. Replace the sick dread in your heart with love and joy. Combine this with the elixir of no-contact. Next, step out and partake in healthy activities. The aim is to be Mighty Chump.

    Actually, the Simon and Garfunkel song (above) is the cheater’s anthem.

  • This is perfect for me, I need inspiration. I was granted Nisi and made first contact after 2 months of NC regarding the clean break order. This started up text exchanges and now here i am feeling awful. I even handed out an olive branch and asked if he wanted to talk things through before divorce was final. Even though he left me twice and eventually i found him with a “friend”,at the gym, what has come since his him blaming me for overreacting the day at the Gym, that he had NEVER cheated on me and that I abandoned him that day by telling it was over. I told him he had not contacted me either and never even came home that day to fight for us. He said he could not possibly be hurt like this again, that I have broken his heart and he does not want to risk being trodden on again. He forgot everthing that has happened since sept, leaving me twice, ilubnilwu, moving out but asking me to stay his wife while he sorted his depression head, he only concentrated on the last event at the gym. Why did he manage to make me feel to blame, he made me feel that i divorced him too quickly and that i did not save our marriage. Completely put me back 2 months. I have managed to sort my head and told myself that i was not to blame. Why do we listen? Why did i let him get in my head, Feel really crap but will be divorced in 6 weeks. Need to be strong now, no more relapses. Everyone has told me he has done me the best favour ever by refusing to try again. What was I thinking, what a weak woman i am deep down. Stay NC !

    • You are not weak, Friend. You are mighty. You have a big heart and you tried to have a reasonable conversation. You just tried to have it with an unreasonable person.

      Dealing with a gaslighter is like trying to play chess with someone who insists that you have to play it on a monopoly board. False equivalencies, new rules, and unclear processes abound.

      A person who is hurtful is hurtful, regardless of how they hurt you. Gaslighters like to focus on the specifics they CAN successfully argue (think Sue Sylvester on Glee saying “You have no proof!”) as a tool to avoid the specifics they know they can’t justify or defend. That makes you the problem.

      Don’t beat yourself up. You aren’t weak because you tried to do something good. You’re just disoriented. It can happen to anyone. Find a point of focus (a friend, an experience like exercise or massage, a movie you can’t watch too many times, a list of shitty things he has done that are dealbreakers for you, etc.) and focus your attention there when you feel the urge to break NC. Build a new normal.

      It is much easier to start doing a thing that works than it is to stop doing a thing that doesn’t work. <3

      • Thank you Amiisfree, i will refocus now on NC. I feel such an idiot allowing him back into my head. I just cant believe this is the same man I have videos of on my phone, totally loved up, the memories are so hard to stop thinking about. Cant wait to move on in my heart. x

        • I remember it will. Mine was a long time ago. The acuteness will pass, and, eventually, so will the feeling that it is happening now. You will get there. People like the CL long-timers are your hope.

        • The silver lining here is that now you truly understand NC. It is no longer an abstract theory or a self-righteous line in the sand.

          It is as necessary as oxygen for your mental health. Not doing is like giving toddlers matches.

          Don’t shame on yourself. You are still mighty.

    • This is the oldest trick in the cheater book. “It’s not what I did, it’s your reaction to it that is the problem.” My X, who repeatedly lied, cheated, obstructed, once said to me, “Well, if you think that poorly of me for what you say I did (he had), I don’t want to be with you.” In other words, I was supposed to feel bad for knowing the truth! And I can promise you, what you think you know is not even the half of it. You can be sure you only saw the tip of the iceberg. There is so much he will never, ever admit.

      As for going gray rock, it is my mantra. Because of my unusual circumstance, I am called upon to interact with my X for purposes of his care. We were married over 25 years, together over 30. My mantra is a line from a song. He’s just “someone that I used to know.” I build in as many buffers as possible, including scheduling free time for myself whenever I am required to handle anything relating to him. I am a huge fan of solitude, so I never dread the time I spend on these matters. I know when my work is complete, I have a guaranteed walk on the beach. Nirvana!

      • Yes! “If this is what you think of me, you can’t really love me!” is what I got. Reverse that to them. If they can do what they do to us, they can’t really love us, that’s what it really means. Projection!

        • Yes. One of the many justifications for his affairs is that I did not react well to his affairs.

          Oooooookayyyyyyy.

          This is why we cannot engage with them at all. Horrid. Every. Darned. Time.

          • Yes, after getting a very rational rant from me about the horrid effects his actions had on our family, his reaction to me was ”

            “If one of our children died, you wouldn’t do very well”

            His argument being that if I didn’t handle this well, I wouldn’t handle death well.
            I proved him wrong…he died and I handled it great.

            • Reminds me of back in my early 20s. I dated a guy a very short time and then he dropped me for another girl. He tried to annoy me by bringing her to places he knew I’d be with other friends. I didn’t even look at them for spite, as I knew he was dying for me to look at them.

              I heard things about how he cheated on her with 1 night bar skank stands. How he would make up a sob story to borrow her car for the weekend supposedly to go to his hometown for an “emergency” when he was really just carousing with his guy friends.

              I got to feel sorry for her. She was nice but ditsy and gullible.

              The SOB had the nerve to hoover back at me and claimed he wanted to dump her for me. Yeah right!

              His reasoning?

              He said that I was a stronger and more practical person than her. I can still remember him saying this:

              “I think that if we had a child who died, she would not be able to take it and would go insane.”

              I was dumbfounded that of all the excuses he could have come up with regarding her as a supposedly weak person, he would think of that extremely unlikely scenario.

              That confirmed for me what a jackass he was and no way was I going to bother with him!

              Just weird that your cheater came up with the same shit.

              They must have a playbook in common.

            • Hi i know it has been a very long since this post but I just had to let you know that this is the first time I have laughed out loud since dday 5 weeks ago 😂😂😂😂😂

      • Violet- I’m also in a situation where I have to share space with the nutcase. I remind myself daily not to get drawn into his nonsense (I’m only so-so at gray rock but, getting better I hope….). Thinking of him as someone I used to know or who is basically a stranger might work for me, because he’s clearly not who I thought he was all these years (27). The heart of a chump is soft by nature and doing that seems so foreign and in a way disingenuous. Not bad but I doing gray rock when you really want to throw rocks? I need to work in my acting skills. When you’re a cards face up kinda person, it gets tricky. Idk, It helps knowing it’s a typical struggle and I’m not just extra stoopid. And for whatever reason, my posts often don’t land where they should or where I intended, so I apologize if it seems I’m posting willynilly or randomly!

    • 100% money-back guaranty he was banging this chick. Total cheater B.S. I did the same thing as you, gave myself “me-time” after interactions with the ex. It really helped to reset back to mighty.

  • My escape was a secret, ongoing plan involving multiple players, schedules, timing. I had to normalize my home life in order to shift attention away from my plan. Periods of calm, then rage, helpfulness, self- pity were still there, my anxiety simmering just below the surface. But my sanity and focus were salvaged by the faux resignation I managed to present. No response. Blank. I was vaguely there. If I hadn’t had my eye on the end game? I couldn’t have done it. I knew it was temporary, even if I didn’t know how long. And I viewed it as life or death. Black and white. Saving myself. Self-interest directed everything I did – I learned that one from a master.

    • ” learned that one from a master”
      Your last line makes an excellent point and one more chumps should replicate.

      Each of them taught each of us how to use a blank stare and deception to hide true feelings and the truth.

      Give them back exactly what they gave us…nothing.

          • I have spent the last two days helping the estate appraiser pack things. Plus helping the movers take the heavy stuff for the estate sale. I know that the narc thought I would keep it out of my love for him. Nope, going , going, gone. By next week, it will be my bed, my clothes that I kept and my dogs. My friends have helped me by getting me the best attorney and setting me up to drag any memories of him out of my life. After it is finalized, they want to take me on a trip and do a picture burning party. I have a kick ass attorney and kick ass friends. I did protect them from the drama and they constantly have been there for me. I am not a big socializing person, but I do love a peaceful countryside and time with outdoor friends. I am exhausted from packing, but seeing the house get empty is rewarding. It is freeing.

            • One other thing, they don’t expect you to sell the stuff. It’s a slap in the face because they are so wonderful. By selling it, I have discarded and abandoned him.

              • saw…..i gave the piece of shit every. single. thing. back!
                From socks to an SUV.

                Great idea on the sell! Like that too!

  • For me I used Gary Rock as a path to acceptance. No-contact is relief and escape, but I think in my situation Gray Rock was a practical excercise in training myself to accept what my ex did to me and my daughter. Gray Rock offered more than a means to communicate the necessary, in the beginning it was therapeutic in a way that strict no-contact could not have been. I learned to deal with his bullshit in a completely detached and non-emotional way. Through Gray Rock, Logic took charge and guided my heart to freedom.
    One of my favorite Gray Rock moments was when ex was raving about the amount of child support he is required to pay by state law, which is based on percentage of net income. He was so angry, having a complete meltdown. My response – “It’s just math.”

    • Acceptance. It avoids useless or even harmful battles. But which battles to chose?

      Acceptance that you made a mistake picking an asshole, that you were fooled and spackled for decades and are now paying the price and that there is nothing you can do about this except stop the harm and build a new life. The alternative is so much worse. I think of that.

      Time after time this blog explains how cheaters work, as in CL’s post today: charm, rage, self-pity, plus the source of all evil, entitlement and gaining advantages at others’ expense.

      If a chump understands what cheaters are aiming for and that the pain we are living is not about our defects and weaknesses, it is easier to go gray rock.

      This is my strategy, concocted from what I learned here: cheater is up to something in his every move, even if I don’t figure out exactly what. So be serene, no matter what outrageous thing he does or says. He will not get his way with me any more.

      • “cheater is up to something in his every move, even if I don’t figure out exactly what. So be serene, no matter what outrageous thing he does or says. He will not get his way with me any more.”

        Very true! In fact, not ten minutes ago, my cheater/ex husband just tried to call me & I just let it ring. I’m trying to figure out his motive for the call. Usually when he calls & I don’t answer, he follows up with a text. Nothing. I personally think he’s got some kind of mindfuckery going on here, you see, today is what would have been our 21st wedding anniversary…

        • My 23rd anniversary was on Monday and I got nothing. No text/call/email. He finally decided to respect my NC after all these months, and I can’t believe it, actually. This was the guy for our 10th that planned a romantic weekend for us in SF and had the room filled with flowers and candles. What happened to him? I’m the same, never stopped loving him, but what happened? I know I’ll never get the answers I want, or the amends and remorse that I deserve, but I can’t figure out what happened.

          • That was the hardest thing for me to come to terms with at first…the fact that I still have so many unanswered questions and only he has the answers, answers that I will never get.

            But I’m ok with it now. Having those answers now isn’t going to change what he did (and that is sleeping with other women) & it damn sure isn’t going to change things now. I’ve found freedom from the bondage of his lies & deceit. NC has helped me out with that A LOT.

            It had been 3 weeks since I last spoke with him regarding the sale of our house. Why he tried calling me out of the blue today of all days is plain & simple…he wanted to make sure I didn’t “forget” him on what supposed to be our day. Mind games.

            I trust that he sucks.

            • Actually, they do not have the answers at all. They don’t self-reflect the way cheaters do. So, no magical explanations hidden deeply within them. They are not deep, for one thing. For another, it’s empty in there. Nothing at all where the heart should be.

      • Clear Waters
        CL’s slogan “trust that they suck” helped me get to acceptance. I’m with you on this. It was like an epiphany. One day I just came to the conclusion that she sucks and always will and I have been practicing radical acceptance ever since. It has been a life saver as I am in a nesting custody situation and I do not think I could have survived without the trust that they suck mantra and acceptance of those things I cannot change. Thanks for your post.

        • I am working on my sons to accept their father’s character and reflect on it.

          Today I found out that STBXH has not paid the anual tax on ANY of the vehicles he owns, including the one my oldest son drives. If the police stop him they will impound the car. I called my son up to warn him and he can’t accept that his dear father would do something like this (actually, STBXH is deep in debt, this must be the reason taxes are not paid).

  • I just stopped communicating with her other than in short, dreary sentences. We had to ensure one last Christmas holiday together. She asked me to go skiing, I said no. She wanted a drink. No. Lay next to me and rubbed my back (cringe…) and I got out of bed and slept on the couch.

    Her entitled ass (which expected reconciliation) eventually got it after a few of her friends pointed out to her that this is how people behave when you treat them like shot and she went back to her fuckbuddy.

  • I was so so lucky that my attorney was able to get Fuckwit out of the house shortly after I filed (I went and stayed with a friend for about 3 weeks before being awarded sole custody of the marital residence). This was because he had thrown things, punched a hole through a door and intimidated me.

    After an couple of interactions by phone upon separation (which were not good) I went stealthily no contact. As I continued to get texts and a small few e-mails that spanned the mindfuck channels — charm, self-pity and rage. The *only* time I responded was to give a “yes” or “no” answer regarding him having mail that I would set out for him to pick up.

    About a month ago we had mediation. This was my first time being in his presence in 7 months. I was extremely nervous about the whole thing but I decided I wanted to be in the same room and face him. Right off the bat as his attorney began to give a rationale for why he should be awarded more money due to us putting more money into our remodeled “retirement” home than what it appraised for, I spoke up (as my attorney had coached me to do). I said “Well, my take is that I would have never done the remodel/addition *at all* if I had known my marriage was going to blow up and that I would be living alone in the house due to his behavior.” Well . . .he went off spewing untruths and irrelevant information . . . I sat and let the shit be slung and calmly said “Not true.” I fully believe his behavior worked against him in that mediation session. Because he was such an ass, my attorney took it up another level as she very competently (even angrily) did her job. Hell, the mediator who was going back and forth (we separated rooms shortly after the initial interaction) was clearly annoyed with him. My point is that had I gone off on him and lashed out in any way, shape, or form it would not have been as effective as me saying what I said and then not lashing out at his psychotic response. Furthermore, if I had come back in any way, it would have been kibbles for him.

    I’m back to NC and since we do not have kids and he lives in another state now I should (hopefully) be able to remain that way.

    Another way to think of Gray Rock . . . Think of going “vanilla, neutral beige” . . .meaning although you normally have a vibriant, colorful personality, you withhold all of that from the Fuckwit. You don’t share any of your animated self (emotions of any sort) to the narc. Nothing but the bare minimum in terms of information exchange and delivered in the most “vanilla, neutral beige” fashion you can!

    • ^^^yes to vanilla! The narcopath will suck your life force out of you. They have used it to project a false image of themselves to the outside world.

      Without your energy, they have to either produce their own energy, which we know they can’t, or seek a new source. We know they are continually seeking new sources….

      Save yourself for your kids, good friends and supportive families.

          • Yup, NMSB. Over a year out and still exhausted . . . After a long, long “life suck” it takes a good long while I’m finding. Hopefully we’ll catch up and be revitalized. That’s what I’m banking on, anyway!

            • Energy vampires! I’m about 22 months out from DDay, prepped and sold the house solo, moved out of state, moved my Parent’s 2 states away on the east coast last summer, Dad was in Neuro ICU for 3 weeks, Mom has Alzheimer’s. Finally I am in recovery/rest mode. I slept for 12 hours last night! Need more self-care and time to rebuild. More than 30 years together…what a waste! Support checks bouncing or non-existent, Court shenanigans… What a wanker he is…

      • Omg THIS! Sucks the positive life right out of you and acts as if it’s their own. Exactly! And when you think about that, how they literally take all you have and pretend/project and take credit for all you are – think personality and character traits – it’s totally creepy!

    • “I fully believe his behavior worked against him in that mediation session.”

      ^^YES. Give them the rope and let them hang themselves. The rope is your silence.

      The more I do grey rock the easier it gets. Now I just sit back and watch the pathetic yet amusing show as he goes off.

      These gems came out of his mouth yesterday:
      Me: ( calmly, whilst tring to comb the dried spaghetti and ice cream out of a dreadlock sized tangle in daughter’s hair) “You didn’t wash the girls’ hair in the bath.”
      Him: “I couldn’t find the shampoo!”
      Me: “I think you have a brain big enough to find shampoo somewhere in this house”.
      . . .
      Me: “You left the car parked in the street right in front of the mailbox. The letter carrier is here and he can’t reach it.”
      Him: (with mounting rage) “That’s because YOU insist on parking smack dab in the middle of the driveway blah blah . . .”
      Me: silence
      Him: (completely exasperated) “CAN’T YOU TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYTHING??”
      Me: (in my head) BWAHAHAHAHA!

      They really put on a show if you let them. In the above example, I broke gray rock just because I wanted to prod him. This is sometimes dangerous though. Do it only when you are 100% sure you will not get sucked in.

      Give them the rope and let them hang themselves.

  • Grey rock drives them nuts. It’s essential to your health, though. The stress of the narcopath in your life causes emotional and physical distress.

    Instead of living UNDER a rock, IMMERSE yourself in self-care behaviors. Join a library book club, go to a meet up, invest in your friends and families, exercise, sleep, eat healthy. Do not use alcohol to manage your stress. Ask your GP is you need temporary medication to help overcome the assholery that is (temporarily) in your life. Seek counseling services to talk this out with a pro or people living it like yourself.

    Stay Grey Rock with your abuser if you need to have contact. Go full NC once the ties are severed. You are a warrior.

    • Agreed ANC,

      Then us chumps can sit together at meetups and have laughs at the cheaters expense. We can ask each other questions like “Who does that?”. Now that was hilarious game! 🙂

    • Love his. I’m nothing if not a ball of stress, gym workouts by the wayside and no appetite, looking old, haggard and gaunt. Full on REM no Delta deep restorative sleep to be had, just stressed out continuously and exhausted from the mental hijinks and fuckery, imagined and/or fueled by paranoia and a desperate urgency to reclaim lost control, or, actual (probably a rotation of both imagined and real). Need to shift focus. Counselor advising this. I just need to engage and shift tack now.

        • Yes, this!

          I’m slowly getting back to working out recently, and I feel more energized afterwards. Once endorphins hit I no longer have the desire to think about STBX and this puts the focus back on me.

          Working with your body is very grounding indeed.

  • Mine had moved out to live with the skank but having the emotional maturity of two year olds he would move back in every couple of weeks when they had a spat “cos it’s still my house”. Those were the worst times of my life! I tried to stay as far away from him as possible but he tended to follow me around, moving stuff on the sofa to sit next to me (because I guess were gonna be best friends again right)! My natural reaction was to go as calm, cool and collected as possible while he ranted and raved. I did have to train myself though to NOT think I had to sort all his screw ups out (and there were many). I remember him sobbing as he had to go to court on his third drink driving charge. Couple that with the conviction I got on him for domestic violence he should have gone to prison but somehow the files got mixed up and he just ended up getting his driving licence permanently cancelled (at least that should keep people in France safe for a while). Anyway, as he was sobbing about “what am I gonna do, how could YOU do this to me” and “what do you think they will do (the authorities) I just looked up and said “oh I’d say you’re well and truly fucked, pass me a chocolate will you”! It felt good, but not as good as him moving back to his home country! Now THAT is bliss.

    • Attie
      Yes to the sitting right next to you and also the asking for the usual support. Mine kept telling me I looked good and I looked ‘cute’. That felt so creepy. And also the inappropriate (since we are divorcing and he cheated) leaping over of physical boundaries. Sitting close, coming close, brushing past, even touching you at times. It speaks to the psychological distancing that it made me feel like I was being crowded or groped by a stranger.
      But the worst is wondering if it is just clueless or a more sinister (even in unconscious) testing of our boundaries.

      • Oh, I fully believe it’s testing boundaries, Cap. During wreckonciliation when I was still living with him but pulling away as I began to see it was never going to work, I didn’t want to touch him. And, I even began feeling uncomfortable for him to see me undressed. So I began shutting the door between the master bedroom and bathroom. I could tell he hated that and he even came on in a couple times. It felt like I was being raped. And when we were sleeping in the same bed and he knew I didn’t want to be touched, he’d rub his foot up against mine. I would get so made (sometimes would kick his ass). God, what a whack job…gives me the heebie jeebies to just think about it.

        • ^^^Meant I would get so “mad” not “made” and I would kick back at him under the covers (not *really* kick his ass) although I’ve tried that before . . . I couldn’t do a whole lot with the size and strength differential!

    • Attie, this is terrible, but it had me laughing so much, I can’t help it, it’s like listening to a teenager. Did he bring his laundry for you to do when he had his spats with the whore? Did he expect you to cook him his favourite foods while he sulked and skulked? How could you do this to him??? Sorry, but I can’t stop laughing. It’s all your fault, you should have taken away his car privileges…Bad mum!

  • Applying grey rock was a learned behavior for me. It took practice. The key for me when I first started greyrock was I had to constantly remind myself of all the awful things she did. I would glance at my journal. It was all there.

    My motivation then was that I needed to *accept* the fact since I bred with a fuckwit, there will need to be future communication about the kids. I also accepted that it wasn’t that difficult to communicate with zero emotions to someone that meant nothing to me. She didn’t deserve my emotional attention. Period.

    I had to constantly remind myself that if I engage with the disordered that it will be detrimental to my recovery. Similar to quitting any bad habits like smoking. Just say NO!

    Once you start feeling the positive effects of not paying admission to their circus, you can now associate “feeling good” with not engaging with the disordered. Greyrock is now sub conscience for me.

    • Yeah, I gave up on being able to extract reason, fairness, or empathy from cheater shortly after D-day. I’m NC, but pretty certain I could listen to him spout off and yawn. Eminem is my spiritual guide for all things connected to my X, “I don’t give a fuck.”

      • Hah, Tempest–check out Big Sean I Don’t Fuck With You. (It’s a guy talking about a girl, but in my head I converted the song to me singing either to The Coward or the Twat Troll.) I love that song. Eminem and P!nk and Beyonce–also great to have on that song list.

    • SureChumpedaLot & Tempest, so true that a key to chump recovery is stopping to want an emotionally mature response from our cheaters.

      When I switched to email and text for communication about co-parenting and divorce things, I had to face the extent of his duplicity, and it was staggering. He would lie to his attorney and mine, and they would believe him, until I gave them proof to the contrary of his claims.

      Also, I stopped spackling and compensate for his lack of maturity and entitlement with our kiddo, friends, or within our community. In the past, I would always find excuses for him, his stressful work, his declining health. I completely stopped doing that and instead said that I divorced him because I found out I was married to an adulterer.

      Not engaging was like giving him more rope, and two and a bit years out, he is tightening that rope on his own. People in our community watch his irresponsible behaviors, and tell me about them. I document it all, and will put him in front of the court to try and get more time with my kiddo. The “wow, bummer, cool” approach works well with our kiddo, she feels safe talking to me about what’s going on when she’s with her dad. I am often boiling inside because of what our kiddo has to endure, trying not to blame myself for having chosen the person as her father… That is a work in progress…

      Three things I remind myself of when I was oh so tempted to respond to his baits:
      Imagine the judge/court reading that email from you, will that make our kiddo proud?
      No kibbles for you!
      To the disordered, silence is the loudest F*U!

      I keep repeating these to myself, and a little over 2 years out, I am proud to have avoided being arrested for assault, and can even put on an Oscar worthy performance of bored indifference at custody exchanges!

  • There is no easy way to go NC or gray rock
    But you must!
    Contact makes it easy for the cheater to look good to everyone else ( I shoveled my wife’s driveway when it snowed – doesn’t that make up for 4 years of lying about working late to be with my AP) AND lets the cheater USE YOU for advice and consolation — e.g. “Can you tell me how to get a room for daughters college graduation?” or “I’m sorry our love died – but you were so focused on the kids.”
    Think of yourself as a mugging victim. Would you spend any time listening to why the mugger beat the shit out of you or offering to organize the bills in your wallet that they stole? Would you think no contact with the mugger was “rude” or “mean?” Would you worry that not talking to the mugger meant “the relationship was really over.”
    Hell no
    Your cheater mugged you – ripped your heart from your chest and stomped on it – you owe them nothing

  • For me the hardest is fighting the urge to reply or respond to defend myself against some of the crap YoYo Knickers comes out with. It’s usually ridiculous and very hypocritical, it pushes “my buttons” and she knows it.

    Certainly the best route for me is to keep everything to email or text and not face to face, even with text and email it’s like sometimes they are physically in the same room with you standing their, hands on hips…saying ‘I’m waiting for your reply! hello? answer me???!!!” If I get a text or email that isn’t directly to do with the kids I ignore it.

    I get the usual cheater bullshit like we need to be able to communicate for the kids etc…and don’t get me wrong in the beginning I was a complete chump and fell for the bullshit “We need to be friends etc”. But over time my head has caught up with my heart (Or the other way round :)..but basically I realised she just ‘sucks’ and her wellbeing, happiness etc is no longer my responsibility. My wellbeing certainly wasn’t high on her agenda when she was sleeping with another man.

    You also have to “Grow a pair” stand up for yourself, not by arguing back but by going grey rock, don’t react when they provoke you. Put your phone down, turn it off, go for a walk, go to the gym.

    Find one person who will listen to you “Venting”, I have a great friend who is a fellow chump and he just ‘gets me’, he listens. Don’t vent to anyone who may divulge anything you’ve said, it will find a way to get back to your cheater. Leave the flying monkeys to your cheater.

    Finally…

    GET A LAWYER!!!!

    • I’m laughing over YoYo Knickers, too! ? Thank you for that, mickeyblueeyes!
      I just changed my STBX’s name in my contact list to YoYo Britches, along with his Match profile picture for the contact photo.

    • Ha yeah yoyo knickers is great haha, I found the best thing to do is put all my energies into me firstly so that I’m in good mind frame , then direct good vibes into the kids, it can be hard to get into this state at first and takes a bit of commitment to yourself. You need to find your ZEN. Yes I still get all the narc shit thrown at me but I deflect that rubbish. I don’t get angry at all, I know my worth. Working towards MEH, can be made into a great goal. knowing they suck and will always suck, helps too.

  • Mine stayed in the house for 9 weeks post d-day. It allowed me to gather evidence and have it sink in the enormity of what he had done. What I would have done sooner, and my advice to all new chumps, is to unfriend and block on every social media platform. The disordered will use social media against you, don’t let them know what you are up to, it is none of their business.

    • I’m not on social media and kicked his sorry ass out within hours of finding out, he picks up last of stuff when he pays me owed money in a few weeks. We split three weeks ago.I feel like setting up a dating profile. I have no interest in dating but know it would piss him off, any thoughts on this?

      • My thought is, why bother pissing him off? That only re-engages him. We all have those kinds of fantasies, and I think it helps us process, but if you can get him further out of your life, my two cents is, do nothing that might draw him back in. He’s your past, not your future.

      • At our last meeting, my ex complimented me on my profile picture on a dating site. He told me that he wasn’t dating much, that it was “icky”. I said, “huh”, but wonder why it’s icky now, but he thought it was fine to hook up with women from Craigslist while we were married? I’ delve to know, but love no-contact more.

        • “Icky” eh? ‘Cuz sex on one’s lunch hour with a skank who responded to a Craigslist ad sounds soooo romantic. Perhaps they even lit scented candles?

      • Agree with Amiisfree, do not engage in any way shape or form. While being on a dating site might piss him off, having absolutely no idea what you are doing, who you are seeing, where you are, etc. has a much bigger impact.

        • My old husband damn near lost his mind when he couldn’t get me to engage and lost the ability to spy on me via social media.
          I got a “complaint” email from his new gal that I was clearly playing “hard to get ” because I knew that was what would keep him interested.
          Sadly I almost wanted to tell her true happiness always eludes people like my ex. They can’t see some of the truly great things in front of them because they’re conditioned to be looking out for the next thing they don’t have or the one that got away.
          I imagine what it must be like to live in a perpetual state of longing for things that eluded you, and it seems awful. Like running on a human gerbil wheel with no carrot reward.

          • Yes thanks all. I think ghosting is better. I closed Pinterest also.
            Him not knowing what I’m doing will drive him nuts. I know on our first break up he was pissed I was going camping with the kids. How could she afford that and I should be at home missing his sad ass. Think I should work on my fitness instead. Witness the fitness. Anyways I need to seriously think about guidelines during mediation for him and social media when he has time with the kids I don’t want photos of them everywhere. I had a quick look on dating sites and it blows my mind how many profile pics have the guys kids in the picture or holding a drink, screams alcoholic.
            I want him to delete dormant social media accounts with pics of the kids but of cause he has so many email address he can’t keep track of the passwords.
            I have also resisted looking up his sad ass on line. In the future if I need to see has has removed old accounts with kids pics I will get a friend to browse.
            I would pref to meet someone in the real world anyways, tall, broad shoulders, honest and with family values, Sigh.
            One day but for now it’s self reflection and healing.
            I caught up with a friend at the beach last night, she was absolutely blown away by my story, she gave me clarity and said I must not let him back into my head.
            Onwards and upwards.

            • LadyB, I am in Australia so posted then went to sleep. I agree with no contact. As hard as it is in the beginning, the more you dissociate and just concentrate on you, the quicker meh will come. Thinking about them is letting a squatter sit on prime beach front land, give that space to yourself or leave it free for someone worthy of it in the future.

          • ‘I got a “complaint” email from his new gal that I was clearly playing “hard to get ” because I knew that was what would keep him interested.’

            …yes. That is what you were doing. The divorce was just the latest effort to spice up the marriage – you know, change things up a bit. You’re now playing a long game of ignoring him for the rest of this lifetime because you think it’ll totally have him hot for you in the next reincarnation.

            Good on her for figuring that out.

  • Well. As most know I let fuckwit back in house for four years…oh wait – it just feels like it – actually four days.
    Divorce grinding on with provisional date for completion of March 24th.
    Fuckwit is ‘coping’ by pretending that nothing is different. I think it’s a fuckwit low EQ version of highly evolved people being terribly friendly. He can’t feel what is wrong exactly but it feels friendly enough so that’s what it must be.
    I have coped more by accident than design. I have buried myself deep down somewhere (hey shit childhoods can come in useful when you need to draw on those strategies. One disordered fuckwit is much like the two that ‘raised’ you). So went to my inner self and sat and watched. I thought I might learn useful lessons to share here but that wasn’t a sensible plan. There are better ways to learn like – read the bloody archives and don’t let him back in.
    Sometimes even I couldn’t damp down my utter rage and incredulity at his behaviour, his lack of shame, remorse or basic human decency really and I would just leave the room, the house and find something useful to do. Chats with friends, watching stupid shows, posting here like a madwoman, exercising etc.
    I do have to ‘armour up’ mentally when he is anywhere close. I feel physically tense, psychologically threatened when he is around so I have been exhausted. The boys are the same. I mistakenly thought that this time would be helpful for them but non of us are sure. They are less angry with him but I think this is to do with the nice vs kind impression management thing. But I’ll just keep trying to work with them.
    I did notice that I turned to some of his habits which was disconcerting. I lied about stuff big and small. Did I want a biscuit for my tea? No. After he left I got some. Did older son get in touch. No. Actually yes. Are you ok? Yes. No of course I’m not ok fuckwit I hate you. Are you going out. No. But then I would go out.
    Did you have a good time. It was ok. Yes I had a great time out with friends for lunch.
    God knows what this means. The disordered make you disordered if you spend too much time around them.
    One poster in the forum said it was like I was reconciling and I saw that yes, had I not filed for divorce then this would be my life! Chilling.
    I have been unable to move forward psychologically and have moved backwards a bit. I have had far more rough days and crying jags than the last three months and I’m now seven months post all the squished up ddays I had.
    But I now know he is disordered. Just the fact that he CAN come back in the house and behave this way shows me he has no shame. He believes I will stay pliant. He believes we will get over this and things will be ‘back to normal but we will be divorced’. Unbelievable.
    I can’t advise anyone else what to do to cope apart from don’t live with them. I live too much in my head during traumatic times, that’s my way but it’s not healthy and I will now try to spend a week or two being an emotional wreck so that these emotions I have locked away can be dealt with.
    Any longer and I would have been in serious trouble. As afraid as I am of the future, I know it’s got to be better than this. I am worth more than this kind of life.

          • Make sure you do what you need to do to take back your space. Smudge the house. Rearrange the furniture. Put up new pictures, etc. Seems small but makes a big difference psychologically. I’ve now moved to the yard and outbuildings. Coupla months ago I had fun dismantling a crappy falling down privacy fence he built in the backyard. Very cathartic. Still need to tackle that shed…

              • Fantastic! Now you can get your life back Capricorn.

                The really BIG plus point of living together during this time for me, was that I completely got over ANY feelings of lingering love – I saw him, really saw him. When he was gone it was just a relief!

              • Cap! Fumigate the house against cockroaches! To make sure they drop dead on their back if the try to crawl back!

              • Mine is scheduled to be here starting march 4 for 2-3 weeks to spend the springbreak with our son. I am prepping the meeting agenda to discuss divorce. He’ll stay with his Mom in the neighbourhood. This grey rock post is so timely for me – thank you everyone!

    • They all think things are going to “the same”, except they’ll be able to do whatever in the fuck they want. Again, my X once told me he imagined us sitting together in rocking chairs of the porch of an old folks home in a few years. Not a fucking chance. I literally would jump off a cliff first…or even better, push him off!

      • Yes, mine told me that after my child was done with school and I moved somewhere different, he would move there too so that family get-togethers would still be possible and so forth. I just gave him a strange look and didn’t comment since I was still “nicing” him for the good settlement. NOT ON YOUR LIFE!!!!

    • Cap, what you are describing while your STBX is staying in the house sounds like grey rock to me, and of course having to practise this while he is living with you is really stressful. I am so glad it’s over. You have done great and you got things moving as fast as possible, got your divorce, he is leaving and there has been no aggression. You’ve aced this. Congratulations!

  • I went grey rock sort of by default. I was in nursing school, working full-time nights, doing all the house work, cooking, laundry, shopping and parenting of two boys, one of whom was a teen. There simply wasn’t enough time or energy to pay attention to cheater ex for any length of time. I knew that I’d be leaving his sorry ass when I finished school and passed my state boards. He had stomped on my heart enough to completely kill any feelings I had towards him at that point.

    When he announced ILYBINILWY and started gushing about the wonderfulness of schmoopie, I was like hmmmm, really? He expected fireworks that night. He got ….eh, so what. I was already not emotionally engaged anymore with him because of his behavior. He had proven that he was emotionally untrustworthy. I immediately moved out of the bedroom and started sleeping in another room, which he didn’t like at all.

    To be honest, my reaction wasn’t Zen on my part, it was shock. In situations like that, I tend to not react until I’ve had a chance to think things over carefully. It’s a hangover from my childhood where any reaction could get me a beating. While cheater ex knew better than to try that one, he still was as abusive as he ramped up his lies and smearing me behind my back. It was such a relief to finally take my boys and leave!

  • Fuckwit’s preferred method of communication (even in our relationship) was email. Gmail does not have a “block” feature (or didn’t at that time, hopefully they have changed this function) so I did the following:
    – created a filter in gmail so any emails from him skipped the inbox, were marked as read and went straight to a specific fuckwit folder. I never checked said folder but figured it would be better to hold onto them should I ever need them
    – blocked text messages by going online to my account and putting in the number, the feature only lasts for 90 days (I’m starting to see a pattern here – no help for the harassed?)
    – blocked all social media and deleted the accounts I wasn’t using

    Then I adapted. When he would find a new way to get through to me, I’d have to find a new way to block him. It became a game of cat and mouse.

    – sent a text message to my phone from his gmail account. Did not realize this was possible. Let me ask you, when someone blocks you, do you try to find a way around that block or do you simply accept the consequences of your actions? Smh.
    – sent an email from another account that he gambled hadn’t been blocked/filtered. Joke’s on him, it was from his government issued email account – the government don’t play.

    Drivebys – well this was hard to deal with. I’d catch him, but what could I do about it? It’s a public road besides, difficult to prove.

    It was at this point that I started to think that I may be dealing with something more here and began researching protective orders.

    Received another email asking about a workshop I was doing as part of my job. Eluded to attending it. Of course I was freaked out. I could have gotten the rest of the steering committee involved and barred him from attending but that would mean baring the insides of my (messy) life to my professional work colleagues. I opted to sit out the event. Didn’t respond, just didn’t go. You know what he wanted to hear? He wanted me to write back and say “no! Don’t go!” but I just didn’t engage.

    Things settled down for a while after that and when they started back up, I threatened to call the police.

    A big help was the email block. He would write these horrific emails with inflammatory accusations in order to get me to engage. And I have to own my part – I would respond, defend myself and counter attack. By not seeing the emails, they sort of just fizzled out…sitting in a folder unanswered, losing their power to hurt me every minute they went unread.

    It’s not fair that I had to take these measures but it worked. If all they want is to engage with you, if they seem to draw their strength from engaging with you- just refuse to engage.

    (This is probably more No Contact than Grey Rock)

    • “Let me ask you, when someone blocks you, do you try to find a way around that block or do you simply accept the consequences of your actions.”

      HM, I have been asking myself the same question!

      After blocking her on Facebook, the OW (a divorce attorney who named herself as a witness in our divorce) created a fake Facebook profile with the intention of circumventing my original and INTENTIONAL block!

      She sent me Facebook messages under the fake name to “mock” my pregnancy, call me names, and send countless screenshots that were EXTREMELY sexually graphic. I had to block the real OW AND her fake profile too.

      The OW also liked to text me, even though my attorney wrote emails to her attorney (that she hired to respresent her in my divorce) asking for the behavior to stop and reminding them that I was in my third trimester of pregnancy. When I blocked her number on my cell phone, she simply texted from my ex’s phone (with whom I have 4 young children).

      And this behavior was NOTHING compared to my ex-husband’s. Among many other terrifying actions, he put a high tech GPS tracker inside my car. It was connected to the computer of my car and sent messages to his smartphone. I finally discovered the device after the divorce was finalized. He stalked me around town literally until the day I found the GPS tracker, removed it, and called the police.

      No boundaries. I have remained as gray rock as possible, under the circumstances.

    • HM-

      If you have an iPhone you don’t have to go directly to your carrier to block numbers. What’s even better is that you don’t have to think about it every 90 days.

  • Sadly, I ordered to live with my narc during our divorce. He used this strategy to attempt to bully me into getting his way. Which…I never gave in. Unfortunately I did not hear about grey rock until after all of this took place. However, during this divorce I did start to date (mostly to boost myself esteem). This really set him off. He was breaking into my phone…reciting text messages back to me. Accusing me of having an emotional affair. Which was laughable because he had his mistress pregnant. What a dumbass.

  • Ho Mah Gosh it’s so hard but it WORKS. It’s the baby pinto bean fetal version of Meh, and if you fake it, you will make it.

    I only had to put up with Cold Slab O’Meat for seventeen days after D-Day, but those were terrible times. Sometimes I was paralyzed, sometimes I did the pick me dance, but I was DETERMINED to make the abandonment neither easier nor especially harder for the Divining Rod of Dickdom.

    My favorite was the day after D-Day. Beautiful June day, devouring IRC forums and Kindle Books. Sitting outside on the porch swing. The shit had hit the fan with stepdaughter telling her mom about the affair and Cold Slab was in a panic because his recklessness might cost him custody of his daughter if he couldn’t afford a Ho Worker Love Shack in mum’s preferred school district.

    He stormed outside in a panic and started grilling me about how school district residency works in custody cases. All throughout our relationship, I’d been a stabilizing influence on his tumultuous relationship with his ex. Instead of reassuring him or escalating him, I paused, looked up and said, “Guess you need a lawyer. For a lot of things.”

    He did end up going from shared custody to visitation. Especially when the howorker turned up pregnant and he was ALREADY living with a fourth woman. Fourth.

    My next fave was a few days later when he emailed me AT WORK from his work to ask me to scan and send him an apartment app he left on the desk at home.

    He wanted me to grease the wheels of abandoning his family.

    I emailed back one word. No. I cced his boss. Then I blocked his email.

    Grey Rock seems like a daily diet of shit canapés, but it’s pretty satisfying in practice. You don’t look back in shame on anything you did, and it breaks the delusional narrative of the cheater.

    Which is that everything is passionate and exciting and they’re so irresistible people are fighting over them.

    No. They’re cheaters. They hurt people. They put kids into unstable living and financial predicaments. They’re boring and all do the same shit and say the same things.

    Cool. Bummer. Wow.

    • Awesome post Luziana. I especially love “the baby pinto bean fetal version of Meh.” LOL.

      Your ex asking you to scan documents for him at WORK reminds me of my ex asking me to take out a credit card in my name because I had a better credit rating than him. He wanted to use my lower interest rate card offer to transfer his enormous credit card debt to. I just laughed. Hilarious! Yeah, I really want to carry your stupid-ass debt in my name just to do you a favor after everything you’ve put me through.

      • I think they come back because its familiar and it’s a chance they can take that involves less work. It’s like people who end up finding their ex on fb from decades ago and they end up together, it’s less work than meeting a new person the foundation is already there it just needs a like of paint.

        • I got that one, too. Lady B. He actually called his true lady love whore, from decades ago, ” the path of least resistance. “. An easy lay.

          How flattering. I still laugh when I think of it. He remembered her low morals from back in the day and counted on the fact she was still a slut that would sleep with anyone, even married men with young children. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.

        • Lady B, I hear you on that one. Skankboy is saying he’s not happy, blah, blah, blah…..like I give a shit. If he thinks I’m plan B, he is going to be sitting around ALONE, unhappy for a very, very long time.

  • I lived with him a year between filing and finally getting him out of the house. I knew I had to retrain myself to respond differently to him, so before I said anything I’d stop to think if it was necessary. I decided he didn’t deserve polite or nice, so mostly I just stared (glared?) at him for a moment and walked away. He already broke all the rules of being pleasant so I didn’t feel obliged to either. Even when he wished me happy birthday, I just thought about the previous year when he threw my cake at me-yeah don’t need to say thanks, just walk away. I had no shortage of ice cold memories to throw on any of his attempts to warm me up.

  • For me it was documenting and journaling. At the door when he’s picking up or dropping off my child, I’m like “Hello. Okay. [close door]” Super bare bones, only the absolutely necessary yes-and-nos. But anything ridiculous he’s doing, whether IRL or on social media, you better believe it gets documented to the nth degree in my shared spreadsheet with my lawyer, and any feelings I have that aren’t straight documentation go in my private journal. Purge, purge, purge. The injustice of it all, is that nobody knows the truth besides you and maybe a few stalwart friends, and mounting an expose won’t garner you favor in the courts. So you document on your own, and bide your time. The fact that the truth exists somewhere, and you’ve put it down on paper (or internet) and purged it from your heart, is incredibly strong and therapeutic. Also super handy when an old friend pops up and goes “Uh, what happened.” You’ve already got a list! A long, long list.

  • D-day I immediately moved all my stuff into the guest room. He took off for a conference 3 days later (with a new mistress, it turns out), and when he returned I made him tell everyone we were separated. He, of course, followed a friend’s advice to “give [Tempest] two weeks to calm down” and stayed out of my way except for the occasional text about practical matters or begging me to give him sex. Um, no, the memories of that 22-year old you fucked endlessly 8 years ago will have to carry you through.

    I hadn’t heard of grey rock at that point, so did ask lots of questions and felt better for the lies, um, I mean the answers (e.g., he only fucked her 6 times. lmfao that I believed that one). And sometimes I would rail against him, calling him a sexual predator (true) and a POS (true) and telling him the marriage needed a mercy killing (true).

    Finally convinced him one of us had to go to give me time to think. He left for a hotel. Then extended the hotel. Then rented an airbnb place. Never came back.

    My grey rock came later as he circled back around for kibbles when it turns out new GF/AP wasn’t intellectually stimulating nor emotionally strong enough for him. When I contacted him to resolve who was going to claim oldest daughter on their taxes, I didn’t even use his name in the email, which got him madder than a wet hen. He admonished me to use his name and respect him! dammit! Amused the hell out of me, though. They HATE grey rock. Kind of reminded me of this:

    say my name

    • And be prepared for a ramp up of drama when you start grey rock. They will try to get some reaction out of you, and when they can’t, the public and private devalue will start. The effect of my grey rock after the divorce from Hannibal was a nastygram and a public smear campaign. It ain’t gonna end pretty with the disordered.

      • Tempest
        Despite all this, do you think there will be a time when he will just leave you alone? Or do you imagine that even years hence he may pop up again? Just wondering how this stuff goes longer out. Is there ever a time they don’t try?

        • It’s tricky with Hannibal, who is one haughty SOB. I have publicly humiliated him by telling people about his emotional abuse from the past, and have refused to be post-divorce friends with him. I also told a friend within our social circle about the evidence of his serial cheating (and she did not keep that information to herself).

          Thus, his circling back will involve a substantial eating of pride, which means he may not do it unless I give some indication of friendliness (and pigs will fly before that happens). Case in point–I told him 3 times by email I would not forgive him and wanted nothing to do with him. He waited until we had to have contact re: the taxes, and then used the opportunity to say HE wanted nothing to do with me. Yawn. As long as he stays away, he can think he’s the one in power.

          Most cheaters will, however, circle back, even years later I suspect.

      • I did my best to pre empt the smear campaign although he was always talking slap about me at his work and discussed our private life with them. He would say I told so and so and she thinks your mean and unfair.
        I made sure everyone knew my truth, the truth including phoning and emailing his family, not letting him control the narrative.

    • “Six times.” Interesting choice of a random number. I can imagine the quick mental gymnastics before that number was chosen. “One or two? She won’t believe it. Um … too many times to count? Nooo, probably not wise. Seven? No, that’s a lucky number. Hmmm okay … SIX!! Friendly, innocuous sounding SIX!! Plus, it is practically SEX so it works on so many levels!”

      • Plus, I found 6 condoms in his bag “from 8 years ago” that he, ahem, had cleared out of his desk before the sexual harassment hearing in case they investigated further. So “6” made sense because he bought a 12-pack, only used 6, and see! there are 6 left.

        Funny how fresh those condoms were when I opened them, though. His desk drawers must have had special preservative powers.

        • At least he used comdoms. Mine didn’t declaring his AP “clean”, even though no testing was done. It was HUGE fun getting tested….

          • Yeah, using condoms is the exception, for sure. Assholio’s bar slut was pure also, so no need! She’s never done this before!! (and that means fucking a stranger she met in a bar). Come to find out, there were at least two others before she screwed Assholio…

  • There is power in not replying, not engaging the cheater. At first I felt like I had to defend myself and kept answering back to his incessant texts and emails. All I was doing was feeding his ego. My lawyer helped me realise I didn’t have to respond to him…ever. This nugget of advice set me free. You don’t engage with people you don’t care about. Interestingly I’ve recently had to engage this no contact or grey rock strategy with a coworker who is on a power trip; not dissimilar to my ex. It’s working.

  • I had to cohabit with shithead for the best part of 9 months whilst my flat purchase went through. I kicked her into the spare room and avoided her as far as possible when you have 2 teenage kids to look after. I went and joined lots of stuff, gym, social groups, etc. etc, Didn’t tell her what I was doing or where I was going or when I was coming back.Near the end I had to endure hearing her coming back in the small hours from her fuckfests with her cunty AP. Its enough to drive you over the edge. Getting out and NC felt like utter bliss. A year of NC on and its wonderful to be free of such a draining slag bag.

    • The twat was living with the skank while our divorce went through. About six months after he moved out I realized I had some air miles that were about to expire so I booked a one-week trip to Morocco, flying on the Tuesday. I took the Monday off and was having coffee at my friend’s when I get a text message from the twat: “AS THE FATHER OF YOUR CHILDREN I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SIMPLE COMMON COURTESY TO INFORM ME THAT YOU WERE GOING ON HOLIDAY” (shouting intended). My kids were older (18 and 22) and not going with me. It really shook me up and to say I was furious was an understatement, so I wrote back: “THAT AS THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN JUST COMMON COURTESY TO KEEP YOUR DICK IN YOUR PANTS BUT WHATEVER. AND REGARDING MY HOLIDAY THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED A PRIVATE LIFE ASSHOLE, COS IT’S PRIVATE, GOD DAMN YOU YOU ARROGANT TWAT”! I think he must have been stunned because he wrote back really nice about it was just that he was concerned for my safety, etc. I didn’t reply and THAT drove him madder than a bag of rats! It was so satisfying I can tell you.

  • There was a point when my ex met met at the door after I came home from work. He asked me to come sit down on the couch. He patiently told me he’d filed for divorce and that it was all my fault. He said he was going to spend the night at a hotel and would come back tomorrow to tell me “how this was all going to work.” I was in shock and couldn’t think straight. I laid awake all night sobbing and having massive panic attacks.

    The next morning he emailed a cheerful “good morning” email and said he would meet me after work to explain how everything was going to go. I told him I didn’t want to see him, and I hoped that whenever I came home, he would NOT be there. There was no way I wanted talk to him about anything.

    He stayed away for two weeks after that. He came home when I was at work, and stayed somewhere else at night. Then one day he sent me an angry email saying he needed to come home so he could take care of things. I didn’t outright tell him no, but I asked him if he really wanted to be in the house with someone who both loved him and hated his guts at the same time? He stayed away after that, supposedly he moved in with a male friend (my ex’s AP was a married coworker so hard to move in with her at that point, although he actually moved into her PARENT’S basement later!).

    As far as gray rock, he was the one that did that first. He started communicating with me as if he was a complete robot, devoid of any feeling. Like I was a non-person. He would only use the most minimum of words to answer any question I had. I can remember receiving a letter with his handwriting on the front and being almost happy to see it (we had been together 36 years). I’d always associated his writing with cards and letters he’d sent me when we were younger. Now, all that was inside was a financial document. No other note from him. Like I wasn’t even worth the trouble to write an explanatory note.

    It became too painful to have anything to do with him at all. I guess he felt the same.

    We went through the wedding of our youngest son after we were divorced. I actually walked over and asked him to dance, but while dancing we could think of nothing to say to each other.

    When our first grandchild was born I walked into the room and there he sat. He surprised me by getting up and hugging me and called me grandma. Our son wanted a picture of both of us with him and the baby. It almost felt like we had a family again, but when it was time to leave my ex just glanced up from his cell phone and half-heartedly waved. I felt like the exuberant greeting he gave was for the other family members in the room that day.

    It’s all very strange. But no contact is definitely the way to heal. As long as I tried to engage with him I got sucked back into the vortex of pain. I now understand now what people go through when they’re in rehab detoxing. Better to quit cold turkey than to wean yourself off.

    Sometimes for the sake of our kids I wish we could all be together, at least on the holidays. But I’d rather not be some sad satellite around him and his large extended family. It’s too weird to try to be part of a family you’re no longer a part of. Still, my family is very small and sickly. It kills me to think of my kids at his house having fun with all those people while I sit in a room watching TV with my elderly parents on Christmas.

    • Lyn,

      I got the same thing: “As far as gray rock, he was the one that did that first. He started communicating with me as if he was a complete robot, devoid of any feeling. Like I was a non-person. He would only use the most minimum of words to answer any question I had. I can remember receiving a letter with his handwriting on the front and being almost happy to see it (we had been together 36 years). I’d always associated his writing with cards and letters he’d sent me when we were younger. Now, all that was inside was a financial document. No other note from him. Like I wasn’t even worth the trouble to write an explanatory note.” Bills would arrive from my then H in an envelope, no note, nothing. In my situation, he had disordered whore helping him. She had just gone through a divorce from an alleged cheater. I had no idea he was cheating at the time and would wrack my brain trying to figure out why he was de-humanizing me – what had I done to cause him to treat me this way??!! I took pictures of those envelopes. It helped me grasp the reality of what I married: an ice-veined, sociopathic coward.

    • Lyn: That wedding story slays me every time. You are one class act. If Hannibal is still alive when my oldest daughter gets married, one of my siblings will be tasked with keeping the wedding cake knife away from me.

      • Tempest, our son is getting married here in France in July and the twat is coming over for the wedding. I am dreading it. I know he will want us all to get together like we are all great buddies, but am planning on telling him in no uncertain terms to piss off. I will behave appropriately at the wedding but try to stay as far away from him as possible. Just got to keep my sister’s hands off his throat!

        • Good luck, Attie. Sounds like a horrible situation, and I agree with you–no big, happy, family pictures.

          As for your sister wanting to strangle your X–we can’t control other people, only ourselves, you know? ; )

  • As much as sharing a space with your cheater really sucks, there is one benefit. At least for me, the misery of that period of time really helped cement that I was making the right decision. When the time came that we were finally legally able to go our separate ways I had zero regrets nor did I even miss him one bit. I literally felt as if a boulder had been lifted off the back of my neck.

    The best advice I have is to stay strong and remember once it’s over you will be so much happier. The misery of that time will make your future cheater free life even sweeter. Sort of like, a great meal after fasting.

    • Totally agree. Feeling how lonely and miserable it was while he was still there helped me manage the solitude when he was gone. Otherwise I would have attributed that feeling to him being gone and might have wanted him back. God forbid.

    • Unknown, Yes exactly! Sometimes I regret staying in the same house for so long doing a half hearted wreckonciliation, but I’m mostly happy that it gave me time to be 100% sure that divorce was what I wanted. During his double life, I was never aware of what was going on but had a funny feeling that something was off. Once I knew he was a pathological liar it was interesting to cohabitant and watch him more closely. The day he moved out I was so sure of the rightness and relieved!

  • Our Family Wizard has been invaluable for dealing with a disordered ex whom believes the world revolves around him and thinking whatever he makes up in his mind is true,
    (aka – gaslighting) “Oh, I told you I had to travel and can’t have the kids, sorry you need to cancel your plans to cover my ass”. It costs money, but to me the sanity it brings is totally worth it. I had its use written into the parenting agreement!

    Durning the 6 months of cohabitation (otherwise known as hell on earth) my therapist instructed me to remove myself from the room he was in. My attourney disagreed, because I spent most of my time locked in my room away from the kids, but I made sure to only do that on nights that were supposed to be his.

    -Block on all social media.

    -Stopped trying to “prove” he was a liar, because even if I had black and white evidence, it was denied.

    -Accepted I would never get the validation, apology or support I was looking for from him.

    -Accepted he was going to do what he was going to do, and there wasn’t a dam thing I could do about it!

    -Stopped letting his behavior control my reactions! This one was huge! Though I think that the motivation of anger, and sticking up for yourself is an important stage to go through, it became very disfunctional.

    It eventually becomes second nature to ignore the fuckwit. Though he still catches me off guard sometimes, like when I hear he spreading rumors that I’m whoring myself out! Funny coming from a guy who slept with prostitutes. I guess I should take it as a compliment since he seems to like them so much. I had to learn to find the humor in the situation.

  • I had to live with my cheating ex for an entire year. If I had moved out it would have been considered abandonment and be used against me. It was the longest year of my life. I used to dread coming home to the daily rages. She was trying everything to get me to move out over that year and I guess I kind of went grey rock as I just learned to ignore her.

    Now that I live 65 miles away, and have little contact since the divorce went final in June 2016, I hear the rage is even worse from her. My one son (age 20) is moving in with me this summer because he “can’t deal with the drama and anger from her”. He tells me that she is just angry all the time because nothing worked out like she thought and it is all my fault. Of course the fact that the love of her life dumped her after finding out the gravy train wasn’t going to arrive via me, or the fact she had to get a job, or that she thinks I walked away with the Bank of England (I didn’t and am still paying legal bills off) might have something to do with the rage.

    I think she is also angry because my life is so peaceful and calm now. My son actually said to me last weekend that “you are just like you used to be and that’s a good thing”. That meant so much to me you can’t imagine.

    • Khris–great ending to the story, including your son’s loyalty. I’m sorry you had to live through that first year, though.

  • We co-habitated for about six months while the house was for sale.

    Cheater got himself a bolt hole and would come home from work, change and leave, returning at around 2 am. I would always wake up when he returned because the bed room I slept in was near the driveway.

    I was pretty good about not talking to him. But every once in awhile, he’d do something that set me off and realize I was the loving chump. I went from zero to Potty Mouthed Snark Queen in mili-seconds. I would scream every obscene thing at the top of my lung, hoping the neighbors would hear, and name his AP in a string of obscenities that would have made any sailor blush.

    trailer trash whore
    giz container
    Jeanie 2.0. Jeanie was his girlfriend before me that he complained to me about for two years before my first marriage broke up and he loved bombed me into submission.

    For him:

    I would invoke his dead father, who was ‘revered’ within the family. ‘be glad you dad is dead, he would want to kill you for what you have done to your family’
    lying sack of shit
    he wore his dad’s wedding band all during the divorce. I would yell at him to take it off because every lie he told was fuel for spontaneous combustion.
    dirty old man
    how does it feel to be the oldest cliche?old man and much younger woman
    Stewpid. You couldn’t even pick up someone with a smidge of class because your standards were so low, just someone who’d bend over and take it up the ass.

    I am an introvert. I would follow him around our mini-manse screaming these insults at the top of my lungs. He would just hunker down and take it. Because he has a horrible temper. He knew if he touched me, domestic violence would be added to the list of grievances and I would cash that it. Damn…Wish he would have gone after me.

    My kids were both away at college for which I was grateful so I could spew all this at him. Frankly, I look back at all those insults I threw at him with pride. I am sure no one has ever talked to him like that and I knew how to hit all the sore spots.

    I drilled into him with sharpened tongue and insults. His ego is HUGE and to hear all that crap from his #1 fan was devastating.

    Then there was a list of insults about him physically.

    Good time. Good Times.

    • That was the worst part for me. That he had just no clue what he had even done to me. And I was his number one fan too. He was everything to me. And he just didn’t realize. I am the most non-confrontational person in the world and I too laid into him and let him have it many times after d-day. At least he knew he didn’t have a leg to stand on and so he mostly just took whatever I dished out to him without saying much back. And what was he going to say? Fuck you for loving me! You made me cheat with your love and fidelity! Why did you bake me treats and take care of me for a decade?! Yeah. They have nothing.

  • I am co-parenting with a fuckwit. Yay for me.

    First thing I did after he moved out was changed the locks. He could no longer “waltz” in to the house when he came to pick up our son.

    Second thing I did was to start meeting him at the door when he brought our son home, again, so he didn’t gain entrance but the transition for my son wasn’t completely hostile.

    Lastly, I limited all communication with him to Text and Email. If it wasn’t in writing, I wasn’t participating. What I found with regard to this one… writing is too much work for them and they don’t like the paper trail, so they give up trying to communicate.

    OH – and when we do have to speak. I keep to monosyllabic responses… OK. Yup. Nope. Gee. Huh. Again, when you take the sunshine of your attention away from them, they will grow weary.

    Think of the soup nazi from Seinfeld… “NO KIBBLES FOR YOU!”

    Love you all, CN… you are mighty.

  • I started understanding the concept of grayrock during the early days of our marriage when a minor infraction (I didn’t get home in time to make dinner, the laundry wasn’t dry, I parked behind him on a Tuesday and he couldn’t get to the gym) resulted in hours, then days, then weeks and then finally months of the silent treatment. And by silent treatment, I mean no communication except a snide “hrummph” or disgusted glare.

    When it first started, I apologized for EVERYTHING. The silent treatment is a torturous punishment to someone like me. I told him as much, which guaranteed it became his go-to response for everything I did wrong.

    As it became a pattern, and I realized he was being manipulative, I started to dig in my heels. If he wanted the silent treatment, I complied, rationalizing that it was better than him yelling at me (which he never did) or me groveling for forgiveness for something minor. I was wrong. It only served to strengthen his resolve, and I would always cave. AND apologize. Every single time.

    Fast forward over 18 miserable years, and he finds another rube to take care of his every need. At that point, I ceased to exist – in his mind. Unfortunately for him, me still existing in real life put a real wrench in his plans. Instead of just moving Skanky into my place in our home, I wouldn’t leave. So we started the divorce standoff. Even with four other places to live while we divorced and rarely home, he wouldn’t leave his “property” (his word). And I wasn’t about to leave my home and my children.

    It was nine months of that miserable existence.

    While he spent our money on trips and dinners out with Skanky and his new bestest buddies from his temp job:

    I numbly made it through the days, finishing my master’s degree and looking for my first full-time job in 18 years;

    I stopped eating (the second good thing of divorce);

    I took my three children to school and their activities and did my best to make sure I was there for them; Our oldest struggles with mental health issues, so I took him to appointments and went to his IEP meetings;

    I walked enough miles with a friend and alone at the high school track to lose 40 pounds;

    I went through the motions and didn’t count on him for anything except the bare minimum, like paying the occasional bill;

    I also saw a counselor and took anti-anxiety medication, both prescription and wine. Could have done without the wine, as it came up in a deposition. But I prevailed; and,

    I wrote pages and pages of raw emotion in a journal. I looked at it the other day and it was too painful to read, still.

    I was existing and could fake it, but I was numb with grief. I had allowed him to break me inside. In the words of First Step, indeed it was a life of unimaginable insanity.

    With the exception of the time I had to take a four-hour state license exam on a Saturday morning (HE KNEW ABOUT IT), only to get home to discover that our eleven year old was all by himself when his father got tired of waiting for me to get back because he had a weekend at Cape Cod planned with Skanky, or the palpable, venomous tension when he did show up at home, it really wasn’t much different from the past 18 years married to him.

    Even with a court order to leave, he still took three extra days and left a shit hole of a mess in his wake. He also thought he could pop back in when he forgot something. A no trespassing order only served to have him make our kids steal from the house for him.

    My attorney said he had never seen such arrogance and entitlement in all the days he practiced law.

    But when he was gone, the walls of this house breathed an audible sigh of relief. But those nine months were the worst of my life and made me value being alone.

  • I would love to go complete no contact. Unfortunately, with 3 kids that is impossible. I had been doing pretty well for 7 months with grey rock (he no longer lives at home but still visits with the kids once a week at the house (We have a special needs baby that he isn’t trained to handle her emergency seizures).

    I broke on Monday. POS had to work all weekend and missed his weekend visit and asked to see the kids for an hour Monday night. I caved and said he could and asked him to pick up son from soccer on his way. Son came in pissed and hurt as dad picked him up in OW’s car (who they have never even met but know dad was cheating on their pregnant mom with).

    I said something to him about not respecting his son’s feelings which opened up comments on how OW has nothing to do with the divorce and other BS. He then threatened to tell the kids something I did when I was 19 and in college so the kids would know I was no saint either.

    I then threw him out of the house. My daughter heard the end of the argument and I feel terrible about that. Sucks for my kids that we can’t be amicable for their sake, but how is that possible when one parent constantly makes choices without even considering what is best for the kids and resorts to threats to try and manipulate the other into “fixing” their fuckups.

    I am not going to let him back in the house. If he tries to force the two teenagers to spend time with the OW, they will refuseto go with him. And if he continues to ignore the fact that he needs training on what to do in case of a seizure, then I guess his 1-2 hours per week with the kids may dwindle to nothing. I can’t fix it. And I can’t continue to share any space with him. I just hope this decision won’t hurt me in the divorce and custody/parenting time orders.

  • I found out about grey rock long after I threw the Limited out and filed for possession of my home. Under the circumstances (prior to getting a therapist and finding chump nation) my emotions ruled as I battled with PTSD, panic attacks, and depression for the better part of the first year.

    On the one hand we have to focus on their actions rather than their words to get out of an abusive relationship. Yet their words are powerful as we all know. It was the words that undermined, gaslighted, blamed, and dwell in our heads long after we physically detach and grieve.

    The Limited was proud of his actions, finding a replacement who would do battle for him, provide him with a place to live, a beach pass, and fake orgasms. In order to slide into her bed he had to live up to the very lies he told her and act accordingly. Living the narrative meant he had to go for the kill attempting to make me pay for the supposed abuse HE suffered. In the weeks before dday, he RAGED with hatred saying the most hurtful things imaginable. These words were used to maintain power and control, placing himself as the victim rather than the abuser.

    The point of grey rock is to be emotionless and nonreactive. A chumps emotions are food to the disordered. Drama is key to their existence. The more one reacts, explains, or attempts a realistic conversation with the disordered the more powerful they feel.

    Grey rock is important to maintain because the disordered are living the narrative they created.

  • My Meh is strong, but I wasn’t always rockin’ the Grey Rock. It’s hard, spending 20 years with someone and your heart telling what you still love someone who now seems to be certifiably crazy. I think just finding out who I am, spending time with family and friends and just doing me has helped tremendously. I can’t go completely No Contact yet, but I do my best to keep it short and sweet. It addles him. Either he gets belligerent or passive-agressive – or both (i.e. Valentine’s Day, when I had my dinner interupted by several mournful texts). Grey Rock is almost an Olympic Sport, but I won’t get the Gold Medal anytime soon. But I will continue to train.

    • My STBX did this, too. The kids and I were have a special Valentine’s dinner (annual tradition) and STBX was texting all three of us during the dinner…why wasn’t he spending time with his young 24 year old girlfriend?

      • #GetMeFree: I agree, why weren’t they spending time with the OW? I spent all day with crickets, feeling home free, and then…About 6:30 here comes the usual sad sausage nonsense. I told him, basically, “Not tonight – tonight, I am enjoying myself,” and boy, he did NOT like that! I resisted the urge to ask where his woman was, or what their plans were. Don’t care. Stop wasting your time, man. Too little, too late. Otherwise, my Valentine’s Day was fabulous!!;

  • I am divorced and have an eighteen year old with my ex. There still has to be some communication, although it’s sparse. For me, Grey Rock is a short email or text. There are no adjectives. No hellos or hey theres. Just the facts. It really helps me to have as little contact as possible.

  • Gray Rock gets easier with time as it becomes more effective but don’t start it until you are committed. Getting you to back down will just fuel their fire. Be neutral and mildly confused when they accuse you of ignoring them. The cheater WILL give up on you but they WILL be getting their kibbles elsewhere. In the meantime, until my cheater was done with me, my strategy was to avoid his presence as much as possible…eat dinner before they’re home, go for walks or take a bath, take the kids to the park or the movies so the cheater can have “down time.” It’ll work! Just be prepared for a temporary escalation (make yourself scarce) followed by a complete loss of interest followed by a discard. I’m now a much happier ex-wife and I never thought I’d say that.

  • I was actually lucky in that I wasn’t living together with my cheater when I found out. My cheater had been living on the opposite end of the country for 6 months when I found out. I was supposed to join him. However I was living with his parents and they were looking after my daughter while I went to work.

    So how do you Grey Rock? I’m a firm believer about always putting yourself in a position of power. Be a fighter vs. being a victim. Even if shit is not 100% perfect or you feel disheartened because of certain limitations, if you think hard enough, you will find solutions.

    I moved out two weeks after I found out. His parents were threatening to stop caring for my daughter if I moved out. I went NC on them and found a lawyer and a daycare for my daughter. I basically told them Fuck you I will not be bullied into submission. I knew the power I had over them – my daughter was their only grandchild and my ex MIL loved her to death. If I stopped all contact between them, she would literally go into depression. So yes I held that over their heads even if I knew I was being a bitch doing so because I don’t like feeling victimized. They succumbed very quickly after that and played nice with me.

    As for my cheater, everytime I felt like breaking my NC, I told myself I am worth much much more than this POS. I have looks. I have a great career that makes twice what he makes. Most importantly, I am strong and I am a good person. I have integrity. Now I’m just waiting to see how his cookie crumbles and it pisses me that it’s not happening sooner. But I know I have to be patient.

    So to successfully be a Grey Rock, do all you can to empower yourself. Convince yourself mentally that you are worth much more than this crap.

    • “Convince yourself mentally that you are worth much more than this crap.”

      This! It is a mental task. You cannot control what they do. You can only control your reaction to it.

    • Living Well, you go gurrrrrl! I should have half as much backbone as you do!

      As far as my own story, I still am grey rock with Cheater #1 and we’ve been separated for fifteen years! He has several mental health issues, which he aggravates with alcoholism and bad choices, so reasoning with him, or having an adult conversation is definitely out. Luckily, like many here, my FOO was good training for this. I see his number on my phone: I do not answer. I might call back after he leaves a voicemail. I usually text a reply. I use email for longer messages.

      I also ignore his “commands” for doing things his way. For example, “I want you to put all of Jr.’s activities on Google Calendar so I can see them.” (We have a 14YO son.) Ignore. “I want to send Jr. to private high school.” I just never applied (knowing I’d also pay, too). “I want to see all of Jr.’s report cards.” Reply: call the school. “They never came!!!!!” Ignore. If you can’t even give someone the correct contact info, it’s on you to learn how to adult. So on and so forth. Counting the days until Jr. is 18.

  • STBX and I are currently still in the same house. I try to occupy whatever part of the home he is not in. One word answers as much as possible to any of his questions. He came to the room I was in and asked if we couldn’t even talk. I told him I was just trying to get through this. What did he want to talk about? Said he just wanted to know how my day had been. When I didn’t respond, he walked away all sad. I was so close to following him and saying, sure, lets talk. Instead, I whipped out my phone where I have downloaded CL’s book, and began to re-read those sections that apply to my situation. I can not tell you how many times this has helped me to remain strong and remind me of all the different ways they will play with your mind. It definitely helps me to go grey rock and stay that way.

    • Best of Life with chump + best of life with AP = “Nothing’s wrong here! If I’m happy, then all is right with the world, people think I’m a good guy, and I don’t have to reflect on what a shitty person I am.”

      Awesome post, JustBreathe.

      • Thank you, UXworld. What you said is it in a nutshell. People really do think he’s a good guy. Looking forward to having my very own space that I don’t have to share, unless I choose to.

        • JustBreathe, Congratulate yourself that you didn’t fall into the trap like I did. Had to live together a year, and early on the ex would do the same “can’t we at least talk?” thing. It would start out pleasant enough and then the snide comments or degrading remarks would be interjected. Took me a couple of times to realize this was just another tactic to hurt me. So, You are definitely smart in avoiding this!!!!

          Just don’t engage or discuss anything unless absolutely necessary. And don’t let the necessary conversation get hijacked and turned against you. Answer the question, or whatever and walk away.

          • Thank you, Khris. It was a very close call. We have been together a very long time and old habits die hard. I have to keep reminding myself I don’t really know him and I obviously can’t trust him. I am so thankful for CN and CL.

  • I had to laugh when I saw the title of this installment. That was the favorite song of my ex when we were in high school. I should have run then!

    My method of grey rocking while he was still in the house was to ignore him as much as possible and work around all of his $hit. The best thing I did was every time he started in how he was maligned, under appreciated, and had to do all of the work in the marriage and around the house (eye roll and snort here!), I would look him in the eye and say, “Really? I’ve felt (I feel) that way too. It’s amazing that we both feel that way” and walk off.

  • Love the idea of gray rock as strategy for withstanding necessary communication–stuff about kids, details of divorce plan–even for those of us blessedly free of day-to-day contact with the cheater. Had to do the living in the same house deal for only about two weeks after dday. From moment one, I asked him to leave, and followed up daily with when are you leaving, when are you leaving, when are you leaving, until he finally left in the most self-pitying way possible. No clue where I got the strength to insist that he leave, and no clue why he actually did it, but thank all of the gods and goddesses that may now or will ever in the future exist for that small blessing. During those two excruciating weeks, I basically either hid in my office with my dog (big protective dog, another blessing), refusing to exit until he was out of the house, or I hopped in the car and just went anywhere at all until he left. It was horrid.

    But now, you all are teaching me that the gray rock approach is probably what I need to do to withstand the rest of the unavoidable contact and communication until the day of never, ever having to see or talk to him again for the rest of my life finally arrives.

    So far, I suck at it. Just way too easy to get drawn into frustrated protestations when he tries, yet again, to undermine my very existence, and to claim things like, well, he had to have affairs and lie his head off because I was no fun at all to be around, and remember that one time when I refused to accompany him to something or another fifteen years ago? That wounded him, and sluts were the cure. Ugh. I need these strategies. I’m thinking one will be to ensure that all interactions transpire in public places. This takes advantage of his fixation about image management, and should help keep things brief and informational.

    By the way, is it wrong to dress killer for these things? I know I need to let this go, since it is part of the sick dance, but I do get perverse satisfaction from his stares, and from coolly rejecting appreciative comments. Plus, it’s a good reminder of what a sicko he is. I’m back in the pool of available women, now, so the predatory gaze can now fall on me again. Hah. Harem shop elsewhere, cheater boy.

    • It’s natural to dress to the nines so that cheater can see what he lost, and over time, you won’t care what he thinks (even if you still killer dress). You’re fresh out of the blocks, give yourself some slack and know you’re going to make mistakes, then get back on the NC/grey rock horse.

    • Dress to the nines but do it because it makes YOU feel good. Eventually, as Tempest says, you won’t care what he thinks and that’s what you want to strive for. You don’t want these disordered wingnuts paying any attention to you. You want them gone for good!

      • True. For now, I think it makes me feel empowered, especially since others look, too. Too bad so sad to lose a smart little cutie like me. Snort. Especially a thing for sahm’s like me, I think. My daily uniform as mom was nothing like what he saw in the biz world, but he was too stupid to see that I can dress for the boardroom just as easily as for the kitchen, the playroom, or the backyard. Yup. Can manage ALL the rooms jusssssst fine. Have some sleepless nights on me, fuckwad. 🙂

    • OMG! “…because I was no fun at all to be around, and remember that one time when I refused to accompany him to something or another fifteen years ago? That wounded him, and sluts were the cure. ”

      The main reason why my cheater cheated first time a year into the marriage was because I had asked him to postpone the planned vacation trip with his friends by two days so I could have time to fly and visit my family and my return flight was two days after our planned departure for the trip. It was mere two days! And horrible me! I asked for it in the most insensitive and uncaring way when he was sick in bed nursing high fever. I demanded that he call his friends immediately and ask them to delay our trip by 2 days! Such an egoistic brat I am! And I never apologised for it!

      Well…this was 12 years ago. I recall this as clearly as if it happened today. I was sitting by his side and really nicely asking him if this was at all possible. Because I really wanted to fly over and see my family in another country and it was really no big deal. He grabbed the phone from my hands, called his friends and canceled the trip altogether. I went ahead to buy my ticket to fly home for 7 days. Came back to the empty house and found a note that he was away on the seaside. I thought it was only fair…i went to visit family so he had the right to do as he pleased. Although it stung. He kept telling me for 12 years afterwards that I was punished and will never see in my life the white desert…that planned trip. He had a few of those trips with his friends down the road…never with me….but what I found out 12 years later was that my preference to see my family was the cause for his cheating. It started then and snowballed afterwards.

      The funny part is that whenever he brought up that incident (like million times) I felt guilty. GUILTY! And every time he won. And he always remembered it to shift focus from something horrible he had done and I confronted him with. I was always amazed how our talks which I would usually start to discuss his contemptuous attitude and hypercriticizing and total lack of involvement in the family would turn into the accusations and blameshifting with that trip brought up yer again. I would then end up apologising for it while our core issues would remain untouched. Master-class!

      When after DDay and failed wreckonciliation last summer I burst out because he again for the 12th year in a row “forgot” my birthday, I lost it completely and started screaming and so he switched on the devalue/discard mode right away. He told me my screaming at him made him feel abandoned, unloved, disrespected. It made him feel that I did not care for him. It made him feel exactly like it felt during that failed trip 12 years ago!!! WTF!

      Chump Lady! I love you! You are the best thing that happened in my life! You are my Rudolph Red Nose Raindeer! I see through the fog. Thank you. THANK YOU!

  • As I transitioned out of Chumpworld to Meh I used grey-rock as a great means to divorce-jedi train myself and evolve to MEH. This worked when she still lived with me and after I booted her ass out.

    It’s a skill that is developed with practice. NO MATTER WHAT YOU FEEL, you never offer to share your opinion, thoughts or feelings on ANYTHING! If it’s finance, divorce steps or coparenting related you just speak in facts. “This is what I suggest….”, “what I’m doing….”, etc. IOW do not share feelings on anything, just the facts mam.

    If what they say or do triggers you emotionally, stop, breathe, say nothing that comes from emotion. Ask them to clarify if need be, ask clarification questions. They’ll give you all sorts of intel that you can use to save your ass when divorcing.

    In my case, she would experience the grey-rock and try to trick me out of it by saying “you see…we have nothing…this is why I have a new AP.” Basically, not admitting that I am this way with her because she chose to destroy my family by sleeping with family.

    Once you reach Meh, it’s amazing to look back at it, the dynamics between cheater-chump. These days, it’s actually funny.

  • I still live with my cheater until May. I’m busy, so it will be over before I know it. I hope.

    My “customer service” gray rock has kept our co-habitation fairly peaceful. He is the king of passive disrespect and I have become the queen of non-reactive interaction. Don’t get me wrong, it sucks but at the same time, I feel a little peace because I decide, “Yes, this is disrespectful behavior but I will ignore it.” If I don’t let him find my buttons, he can’t push them.

    Customer Service Gray Rock (act like your spouse is an annoying customer who you HAVE to be nice to.):
    1. If they ask a question, answer it
    2. If they ask for SPECIFIC help, help them.
    3. Say “Hi.” when they walk in but ask no questions unless they have to do with kids or house arrangements – avoid open ended questions like “How was your day?”
    4. Say “Goodbye” or “Have a good day.” when they leave
    5. Do not ask questions. Unless they are about the kids or house. Don’t ask if they will be around later, unless you need them to be around and then just say, “I have a meeting tonight, will you be around or should I hire a babysitter?”
    6. Ask anyone BUT cheater for help. If the cheater is the only person who CAN help, then make an exception because this is about making your life easier, so adjust in ways that work for you.
    7. Don’t encourage conversation with cheater unless it is about the divorce, separation of assets, or kids.
    8. Do let them know when concerts, games or other kid events will happen and then… nothing.
    9. Don’t give extra reminders or help them look like good parents. No encouraging them to spend time with kids. Instead, document, in case they fight for more custody.
    10. Don’t help with non-specific questions, for instance, “Why won’t our sweet children happy dance when I come here?” You answer, “I don’t know. Wow, that’s a tough one.”

    They will try to draw you into conversation, complain about whatever, Just use the “cool, bummer, wow” reactions suggested for dealing with kids coming home from visitation. They will text schmoopie right in front of you, stay out all night or weekends, come and go as they please, ignore it. Know they would LOVE to think it bothers you and if they did say anything, it would be a lie anyway.

    • I would submit that despite CL’s callout as Zen master, you are a few notches above me in a few respects.

      I am in awe of your post here, because there was no way I could bring myself to do #3 or #4. All the rest — yes, absolutely, they model . But it takes a person of titanic strength and inner resolve to actually say “Hi” or “Have a nice day” to the person that has cause him/her so much distress. Or maybe you are just further along the path to Meh than I was at the time.

      Whatever — this is breathtaking, Aletheia.

      • Thanks UX!

        Mostly, I know he sucks and I know he lies, so I don’t bother to ask any questions.

        The pleasantries protect me from having him detect my mood or feelings about what is going on. I REALLY don’t want to dig into feelings about anything so I hide behind being polite, much like you would working in retail with a difficult customer.

    • Aletheia
      Fab. Could have used this a month ago….
      But actually I didn’t do too bad, according to your excellent list but oh boy did it cost me in effort and I had to use every resource I had.

      • Cap, it isn’t easy – sometimes I want to chew him out but I know it won’t get me anywhere and it won’t make me feel any better about what he has done. When I feel that way, you know where to find me 😉 and I’m here a lot, so it really is a nightmare. I’m stepping through and keeping my eyes on freedom.

    • Thank you, Aletheia. I have some anticipated contact in a week so I will keep referring to your list. My son asked me if Dad could stay with us and I said no. He would stay with Grandma (his mom) and you can go visit and stay there with them for a week. I said Dad can come visit you at our place, if you want, but there is no overnighting. Need to keep strong with my son as well.

      • Ugh. I think the near daily contact makes this easier because of practice. If I was free for a while, seeing him would be harder because I would relax.

  • I wasn’t doing a very good job of it while he was still in the house (still had reconciliation fantasies at that point even though he had already decided to move out). I was giving him a lot of mostly positive attention hoping he would miss me when he left. Of course some of it was negative attention too. The one boundary I was enforcing was that he was not allowed to see Schmoopie while still living under my roof. When he went for a 3 hour haircut one afternoon and told me it was none of my business when I called him to ask where he really was, I called him a fucking asshole over the phone (and I have never called anybody that ever before in my life).

    Now that he has moved out and I have realized that divorce is in my best interest it is easier. It is still tough sometimes because he comes around frequently to see his kids. I am facilitating this because I do want the kids to have a relationship with their Dad. I don’t want them to feel as abandoned and devalued as I do. When he is around I try to find other things to do. If I am home, I will busy myself with cooking dinner or other chores. Folding laundry is a particular favorite as I do that in the attic bedroom and he is usually on the ground floor with the kids. I have scheduled one of his kid visits to coincide with my weekly dance classes so I am out of the house. I also try to schedule the monthly “girls night out” I have organized with other neighborhood moms to coincide with his visits as well. Sometimes he will take the kids on an outing elsewhere out of the house so I don’t have to see him. All of this helps, but I am not at meh yet and when I do see him it is still hard not to want to fall back into old patterns of affection. It is particularly hard when I am feeling sorry for him because he is so miserable even though I know he deserves it.

    I almost had a relapse a couple of weeks ago when my two older kids both desperately needed my attention at the same time. There was a lot of drama involved and I was actually tempted to call up STBX and tell him “Ok you. Time to get your head out of your ass, straighten up, come home and be a responsible husband and father again”. I thought better of it, however, when I realized that having him back would just increase the drama not lessen it. He reinforced that realization a week later when he was supposed to take our sixteen year old daughter out shopping for some father/daughter time. Instead I witnessed him manipulate her into doing him a favor so he would look good for his boss. In the end her two brothers and I were all dragged in as well in one way or another. That kind of thing makes it easier to continue to avoid him when I can and not want him back.

    The next few months will really be the test though. We are using a mediation service for the divorce to save money, time and hopefully reduce drama. This means that we will have to work closely and cooperatively together in order to separate. I am good at endurance, however, so I will just see it as something I have to get through so that I can get to the end and then relax.

    • Well done ChumpinRecovery! I wish I had your strength. I blew it today. After 2+ weeks of successful NC with STBX I sent an email bomb ranting at him. You hurt me, you hurt our son, blah blah blah. Felt good when I hit the send button, but I now feel so dirty and weak.

      Your post is a good inspiration for me.

      Stay strong and good luck in your mediation. I’ll be doing the same thing soon. I cannot afford to let him push my buttons during mediation. My STBX really knows how to push my buttons. I do not need to come off as the crazy one. Must admit, I still sometimes feel like I am the crazy one, not him.

      • I am going through mediation soon. I believe it can be done separately. I don’t want to sit in a room with mine.
        I need to think about this however as maybe being there for the final meeting will be more effective.

        • Ladies, just remember mediation is nothing more than a business deal actually. Usually you are in separate rooms. I managed to keep my mouth shut, kept my facial expressions neutral and kept my eye on what I wanted to walk away with. I really thought I would be a wreck, but it was actually a calming experience. Just remember, your financial future and the future of your kids depend on it!

    • ChumpInRecovery
      I think you are doing really well already!! You are clear what you want, have strategies is place and post here. It is a long road (and mine has been way shorter than most) but you say you have endurance and it’s obvious how much you love your kids. They are lucky to have such a great mom and he is an idiot to lose you.
      They are stupid morons.
      You go girl! ?

      • There do seem to be a lot of stupid morons out there who don’t know how to count their blessing and don’t recognize a good thing when they have it. So sad.

        • CIR, so very, very true! I have been told I am attractive, I am financially self-supporting, educated, fabulous cook, great sense of humor, can hang with the big boys in sports, yet, foo-foo up as needed. I’m loving, honest, caring and down right kind. He rarely, RARELY, appreciated what I had done. Right after I threw him out, he moved in with Ida Whore. Now he is emailing me how he is not happy, blah, blah, blah. He didn’t count his blessings when we were together,…well, that train has left the station!

  • Boy was this topic on point for me today. I was doing so well going NC with my STBX. He then sent me an email that hit a nerve. I sent a reply voicing all my hurt and anger. It’s like being on a diet, successfully avoiding that quart of ice cream for two weeks and then breaking down and eating the whole darn quart. Sheesh. If only I’d seen CL’s post before I hit send. I feel terrible. What I did was sooooooo stupid. Gratifying for one second, but caused a lot of harm for the longer term.

    Anyway, thankful for the reminder and helpful mantra – I am a ROCK! Repeat as needed.

    Sigh.

    • You can’t beat yourself up over the relapses. Just try to avoid repeats. I found that writing those scathing e-mails is very therapeutic. Just don’t send them. They are your little secret for when you are playing nice.

    • Grand, don’ beat yourself up. I, too, after 8 months NC, repeat him a new a$$hole after he texted me one night, “thinking about you.” Of course poor timing on his part because it was on the weekend and I had at least 2 martinis (doubles) under my belt. It felt good at first, but then it didn’t. Live and Learn I said to myself. As Tempest said, just jump back on your diet!

  • Gray rock is not a place that you go, it’s a mask you put on around the X.

    Gray rock is the body language/engagement version of saying “You don’t have the power to move me emotionally. You can’t anger me, you can’t upset me, you can’t make me laugh, and you certainly can’t get me to like you.”

    Gray rock is saying that I refuse to make myself vulnerable to you by engaging with you.

    And true narcissists can’t stand it. If you don’t love them as the center of your universe, at least hate them as the center of your universe. Sorry, not going to happen. They’re not worth any emotional investment whatsoever, positive or negative.

    But it is CRITICAL to remember that this is only around the X. This is not who you are, or who you want to be. Gray rock is just the facade you show the X. For most of the posters here, the X had a facade, loving spouse, that they showed you for a long time (maybe it wasn’t a facade at first, maybe it was all along). That facade is/was rooted in deception and manipulation. Your gray rock facade isn’t rooted in deception, it’s rooted in what will be your eventual truth – you don’t affect me anymore. I’ve moved on to other people and places (meh).

    It is likely that your narcissist is trying to find out how you’re doing. In the rest of your life, be happy and outgoing (insofar as is genuine). With them, you’re impregnable

    In effect, you’re telling them, “I opened myself to you. You abused that trust. Now I’m no longer open to you. You can weedle, cajole, flirt, or storm and rage. The door to me is closed, it’s just a blank slab of gray rock.”

    Hugs. Peace.
    aeronaut

  • Knowledge is power, and I learned about gray rock here on CL. Once I knew the best way to exact revenge (sorry but it’s the truth) on a narc is to dry up their kibble supply, I went at it with full force. It is one of the most satisfying thing I have ever done. I am a talker and I wear my emotions on my sleeve – shutting that down made me feel like a bona fide grown up. So POWERFUL!

    • KathleenK
      Any particular tips on how to stop being a talker and a heart on sleeve person??
      I do tend to talk a lot. Not sure anyone here has noticed…..
      But I have noticed lately that around men recently I feel vulnerable, like narc bait and worried that I won’t spot them. Not for dating soooo not there yet but just generally.

      • Well… it take a lot of mental effort for me to be gray rock and have a strong filter so I only do it when necessary. My authentic self is open, authentic, warm and I do like that about myself but in so many situations it’s not the best choice. Business meetings are one. Dealing with the X is another. So stay the way you are, just know when to put your big girl hat on if you know what I mean. I feel vulnerable around men too – so feel pretty sure it’s too early to date. Basically though, Cap, you just stay exactly as you are!

      • I hear you, Cappy! What I do for a living is all about communication. Took some incredible effort on my part to hold my cards to my chest. If I can do it, so can you my friend. AND, please don’t ever change, we love you just the way you are!!!

  • The difficult part of gray rock for me (in the beginning) was that I tended to fall back into communication as a matter of habit. It was a daily habit for me to tell him about our child’s day or to notice he seemed (sad, stressed, whatever) and attempt to address those feelings. He was more than happy for me to do continue on as if nothing was different. Then after kicking him out, I was “nicing” him until the settlement was signed. Only then did the actual “yes, no or OK” kick in, but it was made easier by him being a state away. I now have fairly regular interactions with him over child visitation or his moronic inability to (fill in the blank). He no longer triggers me. If I have time to quickly help him, I do. If I don’t feel like it then I don’t respond. He is just someone I used to know … meh.

  • I loved learning about grey rock. I wonder if there is grey rock behavior as well as communication, limiting our energy and attention exchange. A couple years before I left x, I stopped supporting x in all the ways I had been for years, no cooking, laundry, sorting x piles of junk mail, sharing bed, errands. I never had proof of an affair, but x behavior with me was growing erratic, more raging, ignoring me unless x needed something, x was glued to his phone. The last year x tried every few weeks to get me to take out new loans with x. I kept paying the household bills because I didn’t trust x to take care of it. But after a decade of my contributing extra to our shared household finances every month, I informed and let x decide how to solve it when we ran out of money for the household.

    I realized that x would not talk or rage at me if I was watching TV when x walked into a room. I watched a lot of TV those last couple years. The last few months we shared the house, I left every weekend for at least 2 days, staying different places. I always had a “good” weekend or day when asked. Could avoiding x raging, false accusations and service demands be grey rock? No, probably not.

    After I moved out, I never say x alone again unless it was a public place. I never responded to the texts or voice mail x left, only responded to the few business items in email. Friends came along when I had to see x. x continued to try to intimidate and threaten me until the divorce was final, then x left me alone.

    I still see x at the annual event we met at a couple decades ago, and x still tries to find a way to get my attention, I walk past x as if x isn’t there. I’m surrounded by supportive friends. x can’t seem to hold his mask together anymore, friends see his disorder and ask, so glad to say I don’t know.

  • Ugh! Living with someone you are divorcing sounds terrible. I’m sorry for those who had to go through with it.

    I only did so for 10 days. Cheating ex didn’t know it. I had made the decision over a prior holiday weekend (aided by some lame last-minute spying to confirm that my continued suspicions were true).

    I disengaged, focused on trying to eat, sleep, work, and exercise. I went to a workshop held by the local Community Center regarding divorce in my state. I arranged a proper apartment (month to month, fully furnished corporate housing) so I could leave her for good without being tricked by her lies. And I began to fill out the paperwork.

    But, this isn’t really comparable to what CL is describing. I had an end date in sight. (Actually, I had to move back the “we’re getting divorced” conversation one day because she didn’t come home until 2:00 a.m., drunk after having spent hours in a bar sucking face with OM. I’m sure it felt lovely to get the news hungover!)

    Power to you all, CN. Once you’ve endured this, other battles are easier to endure (or to see that they aren’t even with having!)

  • My ex-hole decided that he would enjoy the free room and board in the home that I own, since he was “entitled” to by law in the waiting period between my filing for divorce and the finalization (6 months in California). It would have been easier for me to move out, but it was MY HOME, and he threatened to trash the place and sell all of my belongings on Craigslist. He did very little to find gainful employment during this period. Even after the divorce was final, he refused to leave (still unemployed), and it took me several more months to forcibly remove him (saga detailed in a prior post involving him leaving the house for the day for a gig, family swooping in and helping me change the locks and move his shit out, and my mom standing on the front deck with a pistol packed in the back of her shorts in case he got violent)

    The time leading up to the “kick to the curb” was excruciating. I think I may have been inadvertently helped by my history of living with an abusive alcoholic father until the age of 16. I learned how to be invisible, to fade into the woodwork to avoid his alcoholic rages. It is HARD to do, but some of my techniques:

    *I constantly had to repeat to myself “do not engage”. It became my mantra.
    *I practiced a stone face to not give him the satisfaction of any response
    *I stopped doing anything for him.
    *I made it less comfortable for him in the house by attrition (e.g. little food in the house, only cook for myself)
    *I moved into the spare bedroom and made it an oasis. Spent most of my time in there when he was in the house. Used the lock when I was in there.
    *I spent more time out of the house. I worked full time, but on the weekends, I would have to make sure to plan activities out of the house when I knew he was going to be there. Used it as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and relatives and to make day trips with the dog that were fun. The peace I felt getting out of the house helped to keep me sane
    * If I had to interact it was short, to the point, and businesslike. I would often have to retreat to my room and lock the door to avoid his mindfucking filibusters that any interaction would often elicit. Headphones and/or a white noise machine helps too.
    *I learned to practice extreme self care (hard for a chump!) Make sure to eat. Make sure to sleep. If you have trouble with these things, get help. For me it was temporary, but I sure needed the help at the time.
    *I had to do things to make myself feel safer. I hid the guns. I took valuable papers and jewelry and locked them in a drawer at work. I changed the locks on the shed so he couldn’t sell the very valuable power tools.
    *I constantly had a mental picture of the end goal, and visualized this every day, often every hour! You will get there! This is a marathon but you are mighty and you will make it to the end.

    It is important to understand that grey rock is not Meh. The key is not that you FEEL Meh, but to PROJECT it. I acted as if I did not care, but inside I was a bundle of nerves. This is the ultimate “fake it until you make it”. You will get to Meh, but in the meantime, act like you were up for an academy award.

      • Thanks Cap. Your posts are always inspiring and I’ve learned much from them. I’m usually quiet but today I thought I might have something to contribute. 🙂

        • Peaceatlast
          Might I suggest you contribute more?
          That distinction between grey rock and ‘meh’ was invaluable. Makes me feel like I did ok. I think in my head I was trying to be meh about the whole thing and failing miserably but at grey rock I wasn’t so bad. Yes. The FOO issues and their ‘contribution’ to dealing with the disordered. It’s interesting.

  • Capricorn, so glad to hear your ex is leaving!! Very excited for this new chapter of healing to begin for you.

    As someone who has worked clinically with narcissists, trust me, they *hate* to be bored. Grey rock does work. They want fuel from you (emotional reaction, positive or negative), and if they don’t get it, if you go robot on them, they have to seek fuel elsewhere. At first they may push harder (called an ‘extinction burst’ if you’re trying to correct bad behavior) but after a while, they will give up unless they’re a punishing sociopath and they really take pleasure from hurting you. Not all narcs are the same. But grey rock also preserves *your* emotional energy for better things. The second I went grey rock on my former narc, he disappeared like poof! Best thing ever.

  • If you have ever lived with a teenager you know how to gray rock. Think about it. You ask them sweetly how their day went and you get, “Fine.” Well what did you do? “Nothing.” Did you hang out with anyone? “Nope.” Any plans for the weekend? “Not yet.” I’m just trying to communicate with you and take an interest in your life! (Eyeroll). You’re a part of this family, I need to know how you’re doing. (Look down at phone screen, scroll nonchalantly.) Why won’t you ever talk to me anymore?! (Exit room, slam door elsewhere in house.)

    Teenagers are the ultimate gray-rockers and I took a lot of cues from mine during the terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad year that we had to live in the same house with the Dr. Skankenstein. Now that we have been free for three glorious months, we are relaxed, talk every day, laugh more, and like every family worth its salt we butt into each others business with abandon. And Dr. Skankenstein? He gets only the same non-answers and disinterested blank stares that he gave us for so many years. In other words, exactly what he deserves.

  • Our son is old enough that he can let himself in and out during exchanges, but X and I share custody of our dog, so that involves physical interaction. Depending on which channel he happened to be on any given day, he used to give me random status reports on whether she’d eaten, peed, or pooped.

    I noticed early on that he only gave these reports when he was on the charm or self-pity channels, but not when he was silently raging at me for something. At first it took a herculean gray-rock effort on my part not to ask him whether she’d eaten, peed, or pooped on the days he was withholding and then, after I noticed the pattern, not to come right out and tell him, “You know, it makes no difference what you report to me, I still walk and feed her anyway.” Fortunately the dog is not one to eat if she isn’t hungry, so I can tell which days he’s fed her already and which ones he hasn’t.

    My efforts eventually paid off and now we do the exchange without a peep from him. When he drops her off in the morning, I open the door just wide enough for her to squeeze through, stay behind it so I don’t have to see X, and close it on him without a word. Basically, I channel Felix Unger’s ex-wife in the opening segment of The Odd Couple, only without the frying pan. One day, though, I might go ahead and hand him one just to fuck with him 😉

  • I lived with my ex from the moment of DDay until I was able to move out into my own home eight months later. Like CL said, I don’t recommend you do it if you don’t have to. It was very painful; I would actually feel relieved to go to work so that I could escape for a few hours, and upon returning home, I felt like I had a ball of lead in my stomach every time I pulled into the driveway. However, there was some good in it, I suppose. I was not the perfect grey rock every day, not by any stretch of the imagination, but the experience allowed me to hone those skills. To “grey rock” your way through living together or having to spend a significant amount of time together, feel free to employ any of the following:

    1. I made sure that we were like ships in the night. I came home and shifted my attention to the kids; he had a home office out in our barn, and I’m sure he talked to his schoompie on the phone out there, so we pretty much avoided each other all day with the exception of dinner. Why did we do dinner? The kids. Fortunately, they were all still so little at that point that I didn’t really have to talk to him, and the kids filled any silence with their chatting.

    2. Other than working with him to mediate our divorce, I didn’t do anything with him, and I did as little as possible for him. No more family outings. He wasn’t welcome at my parents’ house for birthday parties, holidays, etc. He made his own lunch. If he wanted something cleaned, he did it himself.

    3. I told him almost nothing about my plans (other than the fact that I was moving). After what he did to me, I viewed him as the enemy, even though he “played nice” while we lived together and didn’t try to craft a legal agreement that left me homeless. As far as I was concerned, the less he knew about my life going forward, the better. Putting up those shields helped me to craft more distance between us.

    Once I was out of the house…

    1. I sought counseling to deal with the hurt I experienced due to his ongoing disrespect toward me; we were actually being civil and moving forward, despite everything that he did, but he stopped playing nice once he officially brought the OW onto the scene. There were times in those early days when my kids saw how upset I was. Of course, my ex pumped them for information, and if he heard that I said anything negative (read: true) about what he did, then major drama ensued, and the kids were caught in the middle. Having a counselor to help me with my anger, pain, and frustration was very helpful in going grey rock. She will listen to what I have to say about him and point out how absurd and childish he is. It helps to have an objective individual point those things out and validate why I find it hurtful.

    2. I made sure to cut off any way to look at his life. I don’t drive by his house. I don’t ask my kids about anything specific; I wait for them to talk to me. I don’t ever mention him when I have occasion to talk to mutual friends. I immediately blocked him and the Owife on FB and have never, ever attempted to look at their profiles since that day. If they’re still on FB, I know what kind of bullshit they’re posting: happy blended family pictures that make it seem as though their lives are amazing, and everyone is getting along. I know what it’s really like over there. As one of my kids put it to me, “It’s like walking down a hall full of breakable things. You’re afraid to move because you might break something or you might say something that will offend someone.” No need to be hurt by FB lies, and the more I distance himself from his life, the more grey rock I become.

    3. I moved forward every day, doing whatever I could to create my own life (like people on here have said– some days, I just managed to do a load of laundry and make dinner), and I suddenly find myself almost six years away from DDay now and almost four since our divorce was final. With time, the ability to be the grey rock has strengthened. In those early days, you have to fake it till you make it, but after some time has passed, you will find that you don’t feel strong emotions about the very person who destroyed the life you used to know. You will see how lucky you are to be released from the parasitic entity that was probably sucking the life out of you in ways you didn’t realize. You will wonder how you ever felt love for this pathetic shell of a person, and when he/she walks into a room, you will no longer feel the rush of adrenaline that makes you either want to run or to punch the cheater in the nose. Oh, you might feel a twinge from time to time, especially if your ex acts like an asshat to your kids, but overall, you will have finally achieved grey rock!

    • You give me hope, Moving On. I too have cut off all communication except once a month for variable expenses. I never reply to any comments he makes unless it pertains to the kids. Today I heard one of his college students say what a great dad he is to his students. Seriously. Took all my strength not to enlighten her. He was and continues to be a horrible dad. She had no idea who I was and thankfully wasn’t talking to me. I looked to God and said ” you are testing me, right?” Three more years until my youngest turns 18. I truly cannot wait to be completely no contact.

  • I had been watching the shenanigans with XH and Smoopie for about the years ( and banging my head on a wall repeatedly ) when we moved for his career.

    That is when I got BD and found myself in a strange city. Could not move out right away ( no money ) and I had no friends or family within a 3 hour drive.

    Like all chumps I wanted answers !!!
    But the conversations were all vague and did not go anywhere ( crazy making ). What I look back at as “circular conversations “. No definite end in sight and he was so fucking smug!

    I learned only to ask yes and no questions. No conversation unless absolutely necessary.

    I was physically present but emotionally a million miles away.

  • I say do this or this will happen. I say it once and if it does not happen then I follow with consequences.
    More on the good damn bed saga, he wants to pick it up Tuesday and leave outstanding bill money in letterbox, umm no
    He will get a reply Monday evening saying bill money needs to be paid into my account then bed can be picked up when funds have cleared,
    Can’t trust him as far as I could throw him.

    • Lady B, I’m still so surprised how my ex wants to text, email, call (I refuse to answer) when he was the one who wanted to leave in the first place. Figure it out. We are divorced! And that I will never trust him again. Especially with finances. I am dealing with him not paying his half to the IRS. So slimy. Keep fighting the fight. So grateful to be rid of him! Wishing you better days!

  • I can’t leave yet (son), I am stuck and have been emotionally starving for love & physical for years now, she will cheat again prob has its just who she is. Her NPD never takes a day off. It sucks BUT my youngest will never know the pain or fear. I read a lot work hard and PRAY omg do I pray.

  • Chump free i had the same thing. Met someone on train from 4 years ago who told me my ex was a great dad.
    Absolutely maddening.
    Realised he has lied and lied. Image management.
    Truth will out( i hope)

  • 99.9999% NC with the ex, except for an occasional (up to twice per year) e-mail regarding university tuition or maybe a health issue with one of the kids or some such. I always am careful to re-read my reply and make it even more brief. Pruning is good. No opening/closing salutations, no signature, just the facts, ma’am.

    I still cannot bear to speak to him, nor to look at him. Got 2 more graduations upcoming. I always turn heel when he does the after-ceremony congratulations with our kid, then wait until he bails to take my turn with my kid.

    It’s been about 6 years since d-day, and the aftermath was ugly, with me alternating between begging and insulting–anything to shake sense into him. Didn’t work. Thank the LORD, it didn’t work.

    Then when the divorce was final a year later–silence from me, thanks almost entirely to Chump Lady showing me the way.

    I think for gray rock, in preparation for the eventual–say, a wedding, for example–I will play one of two roles: 1) airhead or, 2) boring AF chick. Or, maybe a combination of the two. I don’t want to come off as bitter/ugly, so I think I will just come off as a not-bright, breathy spokesperson. (Can’t do the customer service deal, because I really do give customer service my all in real life, unless I cannot stand the person on the other end, in which case practicing vacuous ditz will be great exercise!) Well, HE knows I’m not stupid, so perhaps this will drive him crazy. Hopefully the kids will just be relieved that I’m not melting down, and they won’t wonder why the hell I sound like an insincere sorority girl.

    I did pretty well with xMIL, when she cried and begged me in public (at a school event) to allow my kids to have lunch with her, I just replied, “Oh, of COURSE! Yeah, just give them a call!” (WTF??? I never said they couldn’t, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to set anything up–I was fired by your son from that job, remember?) I never spoke to my kids at all about it, but I do know that from time to time they are not the best at taking phone calls or answering texts. So I just said, “Oh, of course!” in my best cheerfully air-headed way, then turned around and became distracted with something else. Or when she complimented a blouse of mine at another event, I just shrugged and cocked my head, and answered, “*gasp!* Thanks!” then walked away.

    I can DO it! New boyfriend will be moral support, and wants me to be polite–I just know it. So, for everyone’s sake, even though The Coward is a coward and a cheat, I will play sooooo distractably easy-breezy dumb chick. No thoughtful answers, just keeping everything super topical. I can DO it!

  • I always blamed myself for everything, I always was the one to apologise. Going grey allowed me to really see him and hear him. I finally understood that I wasn’t damaged beyond repair, I could understand all those miserable years of our marriage. It gave me some sort of closure. I finally felt relief: I could be happy, it wasn’t me, it was what he did to me.

  • Tips for living with your cheater after you have given up on reconciliation, but are biding your time to file for divorce:

    1. Do not initiate conversation, even when you are lonely and want someone to talk to. He will find a way, without fail, to either ridicule you or make it all about him.
    2. Respond to his attempts at conversations with yes/no answers when possible; do not add anything unnecessary that he can use against you, or make snide remarks about.
    3. Do not share unnecessary details about your life (see #1 & 2).
    4. Do not attempt to defend yourself from snide and cutting remarks, it will escalate every time because he does not possess the ability to back down or defuse a situation. He must win every confrontation, no matter how nasty it gets.
    5. Don’t get sucked into circular conversations with the cheater, just agree with everything he says (see #4). “Yes, of course our neighbor is one of those reptilian aliens.”
    6. Don’t correct the cheater’s BS when you hear him saying totally inaccurate things to the kids, because there is no point, he is perfect and knows everything, and it will just result in a confrontation that you will not “win” (see #4).
    7. Do not initiate physical contact, just submit to whatever he does without responding, unless it is egregious. I stopped having sex with Assholio when I gave up on reconciliation, but he still insisted on kissing me goodbye when he left for work every day, probably because the kids were there. He would also put his arm around me when other people were around, so it was clearly all about impression management. And so I would look like a jerk if I pulled away or flinched, even though his little shows infuriated me. Actually, I think he probably knew that, and did it anyway as another way to needle me.

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