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UBT: You aren’t alone… you have the kids

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Dear Chump Lady,

Okay, I admit I have not attained “gray rock”. I have to maintain contact with my ex because we share custody. We have been cordial lately, but I find that I have only two settings: Either I am hateful and resentful, or I am friendly and forgiving. Hatefulness and resentment take too much energy and don’t help me or my children to move on.

But my other “setting” seems to come with my heart firmly on my sleeve. And part of me expects something in return for my kindness. Never mind that when he was my husband he really never noticed me, or gave a hoot about appreciating me, or caring about my needs, (it was all him — no surprise there). Anyway I made the mistake of trying to seek some sort of comfort from him yesterday. (I was feeling sorry for myself, being alone as a single parent while he’s off focusing on himself and OW). Here is the text he sent:

“I do appreciate what you do. You have raised two great kids and I love you for that. You aren’t alone. You have them.”

Please run this through the UBT and help me see him for what he is so I can get back to focusing on my new life and not what he took from me!

Dumped Chump

Dear DC,

I know from experience that single parenting is hard, and can at times be desperately, overwhelmingly lonely, but DC never EVER let the fuckwit who made you a single parent see you sweat. Don’t share your pain with them. Don’t ever look to them for validation. It’s kibbles and centrality to fuckwits. All you’re doing is handing them your power on a great big silver platter.

And don’t do the opposite either — pretend as if you’re Best Friends, the happy satellite to his new life with Schmoopie. Watch your pets while you’re in Aruba? Cancel my weekend plans because your custodial time is not convenient right now? Oh sure! What are friends for!

Marriage chump was bad. Divorce chump is worse.

BOUNDARIES, woman! BOUNDARIES!

part of me expects something in return for my kindness.

Toxic people don’t do reciprocity. They think your kindness is their due and they feel zero obligation to be kind back. So quit projecting your values on to this person. Be kind because that’s who you are. Not because you think nice-ing him into consensus could work. (It never works.) Save your kindness for those deserving of it — like your kids. Cheating ex gets Gray Rock. (And maybe a bag of flaming poop on his doorstep… okay, that’s not meh, but I can imagine it.)

Never mind that when he was my husband he really never noticed me, or gave a hoot about appreciating me, or caring about my needs, (it was all him — no surprise there).

And YET. It. Actually. Surprises. You.

Trust that he sucks. If you believed in who he was — a person who’s never given a flip — you would not seek comfort from the sucky.

So, about that text. Let’s put it through the Universal Bullshit Translator, okay?

“I do appreciate what you do.

I appreciate the kibbles. Do you hurt? Gee, I’m powerful.

I appreciate the way you do all the heavy lifting on this parenting thing, leaving me free to pursue my new life with Fuckzilla. Only I get a new life. You may maintain my shrine. Polish the memories. Gloss my image. Do it for the Good Times we shared, and remember I need a sitter next Thursday.

You have raised two great kids and I love you for that.

Dear former wife appliance, Your job as birthing vessel is now over and I thank you for your service.

Please accept this divorce summons, a reduced standard of living, and the loss of your health insurance as a token of my gratitude.

I would’ve given you a gold watch, but here’s some single parenting instead. #yourewelcome

You aren’t alone. You have them.”

And isn’t that all you need, really? All that responsibility to keep you warm at night? And vomit in your hair? And moan that it has a fever? And might not make it to the bathroom in time?

You aren’t alone! You have them. Those nameless pod things you birthed. (What are their names again? Them. Them will suffice.)

Isn’t it nice the way I turned this shitty thing I did — cheating on you and abandoning my family — into a FAVOR I did for you? #yourewelcomeagain

*****

DC — go brush up on Gray Rock. I’m sure Chump Nation can give you a few pointers. Hang in there.

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Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • I’d never heard of Gray Rock before.

      After reading the link, I think that a lot of it makes sense.

      But I’m not fully sold. The story of the “tall, athletic man” is a bit concerning.

      First off, why are his physical traits at all relevant to the story? Are we s’posed to place higher value on his advice because of his body structure and composition? The author seems to, or she wouldn’t have included the description.

      More importantly, his course of action is one of the most passive-aggressive decisions I’ve ever heard. Yes, he did choose an action and stick with it. But it sounds an awful lot like the mirror image of “The 180.” Instead of disengaging and living your own interesting life in the hopes of winning her back (The 180), disengage and be boring in the hopes of pushing her away (Gray Rock). Neither course of action entails directly and honestly addressing your partner. You’re still waiting it out, putting all of your eggs in the basket of the person abusing you. Ultimately, it’s her decision that matters, not your own. Manipulate much?

      • Honesty is for people who won’t use it to gather more ammo in their quest to fuck with your emotions the minute it’s convenient to them or they’re bored. For those sorts, you simply have to stay far away as possible, which includes keeping your true feelings and emotions away from them.

        • I think you bring up a lot of good points J.C. especially who cares if the guy was tall and athletic. All that did was make me expect the author was going to tell us she became romantically involved not just that he gave her some practical advice.

          I think you definitely should go off and lead that full, interesting life (the best revenge is living well). The grey rock comes when you don’t let them in on the emotions of that new genuine life. Sharing just gives them ammo for screwing with what matters to you. That is hard for people like me who always shared everything. I have said it before but it is like going into permafrost mode in dealing with him. Luckily I have been as no contact as possible but there is the constant on guard feel and the dread of all the depositions coming up where I will have to be around him.

          • I was a sharer too…a very open person. To think that anything you say “can and will be held against you” is a nuisance, but I try to think of it as he doesn’t have the privilege of knowing me or anything about me anymore. I also don’t ask anything about him because I honestly don’t care, and I don’t want to give him an opportunity to brag or sulk. I don’t have room for that anymore. Going cold is just what you have to do. Then, of course, we fall into their picture of us as cold people. Can’t win! But we already knew that it was a no-win game, and the only way to get as close to “winning” is to not play at all.

            • That’s so true. I have no contact with my ex except for coparenting in which case I am 100% gray rock.

              She uses the current situation as an excuse to explain away her cheating and bad decisions in the past. Not realizing that I chose this path with her due to her cheating and me figuring out who she really is.

              They twist everything and anything. I share absolutely nothing personal with her. And I give her back the kind of peaceful, gray rock which leaves nothing for her to manipulate.

              And I use the gray rock technique on anybody else who tries to ask me about my former marriage. In those cases I just put it back on them. Why are you asking? So that’s how you feel is it?
              Even if it’s somebody I’m very close to him totally trust I keep it very vanilla and turn the conversation away from me and my ex.

              • Yeah, that’s all part of the “You didn’t fight for me” thing. It’s your response to their cheating that caused the cheating. They remember things the way they want to remember things.

                The worst part is that if you don’t go gray rock, they will because it gives them an advantage over you. If you do it first, you are the bad guy. That’s why we have to learn to truly not care anymore.

        • Yes! It was only after I went gray rock that I was able to see the kind of fucked up my ex was. Engagement kept me in the conversation and accepting his gaslighting as truth. After I disengaged my mind gradually stopped spinning, and I regained the faculty of independent analysis; by withholding information about my internal reality he could not assess what emotions needed manipulation to bully me into fear.

          Cheaters withhold reality because it gives them “power over”, using it in reverse to self-protect is NOT the equivalent. Self preservation is not the same as intentionally harming someone else for your own gain. Gray rock is not aggressive, it is giving nothing.

          Here’s the thing, people who are willing to try to manipulate for “power over” count on people who think about these issues in a fair and just perspective. “Well I don’t like it when he/she does that, so is it fair if I do?” They count on your sense of morality and desire to do the right thing and be a good person to gain advantage.

          I used to measure everything from the flip side of equivalency as well; it was only after I realized that my motivation for equal treatment, fairness, and reciprocity was not the same motive of my STBX; that is when I was able to see the inequality my own morals were creating.

          It’s like being stranded on a desert island with a limited food source. You split all your rations with someone you think is doing the same; then you find out they’ve been hiding food for their own benefit. Do you continue to ask for equality and fairness, or do decide its time for self-preservation and start putting your well being over those ideals?

          They are called “ideals” for a reason, because it is the conception of something in its perfection, not the conception of something during disadvantage. It took me a very long time to not see this type of reasoning as justification. I came to the conclusion that If you are not trying to disadvantage someone else for your own gain and “power over”, and you are merely seeking self-preservation to avoid exploitation, this is not justification.

          • ” by withholding information about my internal reality he could not assess what emotions needed manipulation to bully me into fear.”

            You are SO RIGHT, Got-a-Brain.

            I always thought if I could just make him see the depths of my pain, he would surely stop doing the things that caused me pain. If I could just find the right words, he would stop. Instead, he took that very pain and refined his methods to twist the knife deeper.

            For me, gray rock doesn’t mean I stop living my life in ever increasingly better ways–I just stop letting him know anything about that life.

            • <>

              THIS…this was my life…and I never got wiser, ever…I kept making the same mistakes over and over again…my brain refused to admit I was wrong all that time…right up to the day I found him dead on the floor.

              • (oops, tried to quote from above, goofed it up)

                “I always thought if I could just make him see the depths of my pain, he would surely stop doing the things that caused me pain. If I could just find the right words, he would stop. Instead, he took that very pain and refined his methods to twist the knife deeper.”

          • Got-a-brain – this was very helpful – and I have experienced it just as you said. And still do. Thank you.

      • This would work or matter if the person was a partner. They aren’t. They are preying on you. They feed off your drama or anger or love or whatever attention you express. Remember in jurassic park where they have to stand still so the raptors won’t eat them? Yeah. That.

        • This is so true. You have to change your entire way of thinking about them. You would think it would be easy enough because of what they did, but you still try to look for the good and it takes time to see that it’s a minuscule part of who they are at best.

        • Yes! It took me a long time to realize that my emotional outbursts were playing into my STBX needs and that he was manipulating me. So I went gray rock for months while I was getting my ducks in a row. A normal STBX would have tried to engage me in conversation if he wanted to keep the marriage. He never did and he never filed. Just went on that way. Although totally tried to improve his relationship with the kids. Can’t wait for it to be over. But worry about it happening to my kids.

          • I am currently in the same situation Sharyl. It’s taken me a few months after D-day (and the entire marriage) to realize he was using my emotional outbursts to manipulate me. Trying my best to go Gray Rock now as I get all my ducks in a row. He occasionally does try to engage me into conversation, but giving me advice on parenting. I have our daughter 80+% of the time and I think I have the parenting down, so I no longer respond to those texts or emails. Other than that, he does not try to engage into conversation with me and is doing nothing to file–he has placed that responsibility on me.

            The hardest part for me now, is that he is not doing anything to improve his relationship with his daughter. She’s 7, so she still thinks he hangs the moon, but eventually she will start seeing through the lies and manipulations he is using on her. Every time she comes back from spending time with her dad, she is full of information on his likes/dislikes. It’s like he spends his whole time with her telling her info about himself! So hard to deal with.

      • I think psychopaths are a whole different class of people. I hate the 180 because like you I find it manipulative. It has the potential to keep chumps stuck unless they just go out and get a better life for themselves without the hope of luring the cheater back.

        Grey rock is about deflecting the attention of a psychopath and I think that’s on a whole different level than the 180. You don’t want the attention of a psycho. You want to be about as interesting as a rock because they will focus their attention on someone or something else and leave you alone. It’s about survival, not about manipulation.

      • Grey rock is recommended here when a chump needs to regain their power and to stop giving the cheater centrality.

        What do they hate? Being ignored. There are many who are stuck living with their abuser for a prolonged period after Dday. Regardless these are toxic people who rarely do the right thing.

        In the case of a psychopath it’s a strategy to escape without being harmed or killed.

      • While I would never apply gray rock to any other person, I do think it is the only way to deal with a narcissist. Is it manipulation, for sure. If the only means to achieve a peaceful life again means to use the same manipulations which wore me out for years, then yes, I will apply manipulations. This is about my life, regaining myself .

        • “If the only means to achieve a peaceful life again means to use the same manipulations which wore me out for years, then yes, I will apply manipulations.”

          I felt the same way. All of a sudden I was treating him in a cordial, vague, indifferent way which is the way he had been treating me for years. (Which had really hurt me because he didn’t take action or responsibility for our communication or relationship. But now I know it was manipulative and intentional on his part – he wasn’t “clueless” like I said for years.)

          Ironic.

      • JC, you write, “But it sounds an awful lot like the mirror image of “The 180.” Instead of disengaging and living your own interesting life in the hopes of winning her back (The 180), disengage and be boring in the hopes of pushing her away (Gray Rock). ”

        No, “gray rock” is in no way related to the “180,” which is actually a manipulation the people are advised to use to get a “wayward spouse” home. So you get on about your own life but not really–your new life still revolves around getting a narcissistic cheater back.

        “Gray rock” is a technique for dealing with disordered people, like narcissists and sociopaths, with whom it’s dangerous to have regular human communication. Their intent is to gaslight, manipulate, blame shift, deny and rage in order to control the relationship and their (former) partner. It’s important to recognize that if a chump has been in a relationship with one of these types, the ability to discern what is real, reasonable, truthful, has been seriously eroded. In a sense, the chump has been brainwashed to see things through the eyes of the disordered abuser. Moreover, the patterns of communication are corrupt as well. (See, for example, the practice of DARVO, in which a disordered person responds to a complaint about wrong-doing or abuse by denying, attacking and blame shifting to the chump.) It’s very tough to change communication habits that have taken years to develop. And it’s impossible to improve those communication habits when one partner is trying to maintain control of and advantage over the other person.

        What “gray rock” does is remove the SICK payoff that disordered people get when we engage with them in what for us what be normal ways. Someone practicing gray rock has decided not to feed a narcissist or sociopath kibbles even though the situation (almost always kids) requires some minimal contact. The best alternative in dealing with these people is absolute no contact–and that means they can’t even get in touch with the chump. Ever. But that’s not possible with kids, so it’s important to make choices not just about when to “speak” to the disorder cheater but what kind of talk is productive and safe. It has the advantage of showing the cheater the conduct that’s acceptable, baselines emotionless business exchange. Gray rock prevents manipulation and gaslighting because the chump is not interacting with the cheater other than to provide facts. It also protects the chump from blowing a gasket when the cheater tries to provoke a response. In “low contact” situations, the best thing is to use email and not phone or in person. My favorite gray rock (which i use with manipulative students) is “put that in an email.” Because email allows you to see, clearly, via UBT, the language and intent of the cheater. You can cut through the provocation and deal with reimbursement for medical expense (or whatever). The goal, unlike the 180, is not to get the cheater back or to get revenge or punish the cheater; it’s to allow the chump to have peace, time and space for both healing and re-learning what is normal.

        You get a text or a call that is not an emergency? Send an email that says, “I got your message. Please put your concern in an email.” “Yes, I received your receipt.” “See the scheduling calendar for soccer times.” And an attack message on any platform? . The only way to get past this devastation is to yank your mind out of the mindfuckery.

        • So while “gray rock” might push disordered cheaters away, that “pushing” is not about whether they cheater stays or goes. The gray rock chump has already decided to end the relationship. What is being “pushed away” are the toxic interactions that keep chumps in the prison of a terrible relationship.

    • It’s really chilling to read gray rock and dealing with psycopaths. Especially the part about if they have already decided to kill you. I thought surely my ex isn’t quite this degree of a fuckwit. Then I remembered the first discard 10 + years ago when our kids were very young. He abandoned me and the kids, insisted on selling our family home during the holidays, and was cold and distant all while pursuing his ho worker schmoopie who was on her second husband, had a history of cheating and apparently couldn’t have kids. Sitting in the court ordered counseling session he said ‘he never saw himself coming back to us’ and also told the counselor he had fantasized about me dying in a plane crash for a work trip I had recently gone on. Wow. How in the world did I ever think reconciling with him was a good idea?

      They walk, talk, and look like human beings. They can fool us. I think about Scott Peterson murdering his pregnant wife. I’ve spent 20 years of my life with the enemy. He was a bottomless pit of need and the world was always against him: 3 supervisors over the years were incompetent and didn’t appreciate the wonderfulness of him, his family didn’t understand him and they were out to get him, his friends didn’t appreciate him, he didn’t get the recognition and accolades for his hobby. Ultimately I must’ve been the biggest enemy of all to him but I never new it until schmoope 2.0 came along. Perhaps I’m lucky to get out of this at all.

      DC it takes time to wrap your mind around this level of betrayal. It wasn’t just the twu wuvs and destiny. There’s dysfunction in a person who abandons their wife and kids. He does not have your best interest at heart. Take care of yourself and trust that he sucks.

      • “They walk, talk, and look like human beings. They can fool us.” That’s exactly why I refer to my ex as the Edgar Suit. It’s frightening to think he fooled me and my entire family into thinking he was a functioning human being with real emotions for over thirty years.

        • Beth, At the risk of sounding naive, what is the Edgar suit? I assumed it was some kind of psycho character but I don’t know the origin.

          • MIB reference – Men in Black. Edgar was a character that at the very beginning of the movie the space alien killed, and then spent the movie living inside his body, pretending to be human. The ‘Edgar Suit” was the skin that gave an outward appearance of humanity, but containing a murderous bug alien inside.

          • It’s a Men In Black reference. Edgar (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) is this jerk-ish guy who is taken over by a malicious alien trying to lay low. The alien wears him like a suit. He goes back home and his wife sort of notices something is up with him because his speech and mannerisms are all weird (the “suit” doesn’t fit very well), but she seems reluctant to do anything. I think Edgar was abusive to her even before the alien took him over.

          • Hey Feelintit,

            It’s from the first ‘Men In Black’ movie. An alien killed a guy named Edgar and ‘wore’ his body like a suit, to disguise who he really was.

            Best you watch the movie to get full impact of ‘Edgar Suit’

            • WHOOPS! Boy, are my fingers still asleep! Sorry for that horrific typo, FEELINGIT!!!! Whoa! Am I gonna get a lot of flack for that one!

              • Lol, sounds like I need to get out from under my grey rock and watch Men in black! Sounds quite relatable.

                Thanks everyone.

            • Chump on it. …. the facial contortion was what i actually noticed as the freak that happened when he turned into mr hyde (from dr jeckle) it felt like it was an episode from the twilight zone because of the weird facial expression that preceeded his proclaimation wanting a divorce out of the blue. It literally looked like he wa possessed.

        • and we were always slacking for them when the friends and relatives would point out how messed up things seemed…..” he’s tired…..work stress.” for twenty years I did this. Then when they discard US for the new schmoopie and we start to figure things out and point out how toxic and disordered they are it’s just us being bitter over being dumped.
          My ex loves to tell people that I have the attitude I do with him because Im hostile that he left me for another woman.

            • Exactly paintwidow. I got framed as a gold digger . So when he left me and the 3 kids (after spending all their savings) any attempt from me at getting him to acknowledge that he had financial responsibility to his kids was met with actual claims of blackmail and extortion from him. To the extent he emailed the neighborhood to turn them against me. He actually told people to keep an eye on me because he was worried about his kids. …

          • You would think my arm would’ve fallen off from carrying that 50 lb bucket of spackle. He has such an outgoing and sparkly personality, but only in the beginning of a relationship. Mr. Fun Loving turns into Mr. No One Appreciates me pretty quickly. The friends we had a usefullness span of a year or so and I learned to not get too close to the wife as we wouldn’t be friends anymore once the newness wore off.

            When he volunteered to be an assistant coach on our daughter’s soccer team, I even told him he shouldn’t do it so soon as he would be frustrated before she became a senior. He was frustrated alright, but found her twenty something asst coach to be attentive to his needs….

            The first time around in 2003 there wasn’t much out there for this shit except mid-life crisis. I went with it and explained his shittiness and discard of me and the kids as too much work stress that pushed him over the edge even though we were in our early 30’s. His centrality and neediness have been a constant theme in our 20 years together. It’s amazing it took a second schmoopie to realize it was unacceptable to me and to put down the hopium pipe. I see him now and want to feel sorry for him–he has a sadz.

            • I have been asked several times if I think sync is having a midlife crisis. I think next time I hear that, I will calmly reply no, it is a whole life crisis.

          • And why wouldn’t you be hostile towards him after he left you for another woman? Seems like a reasonable reason to be upset to me. That’s like saying “She’s just upset with me because I blew up our marriage in the most painful, disrespectful and selfish way I possible could”.

      • MJB – WOW you just described the cheater to a T! There is always somebody else to blame, always. They are never responsible for their actions. Always somebody who treated them badly. Woe is me, I am the victim! I don’t have any patience for that anymore. Therefore whatever it takes to get away emotionally is fair for me.

      • One thing that hits me about your post is a lot of us here can relate to the he didn’t hit me or kill me, it was just a mindfuck. I feel like the general thinking in society is you can be one off of a murderer, a beater or molester and societ thinks it is so important that you have a relationship with your children. In one post today, even a wife beater got partial custody of his kids. It is just so twisted

        • I think it is a grave error to think that the emotional and cerebral abuse is not as bad as the physical. Both types of abuse can kill you, one may be a little slower than the other. With the physical, the abuse is there for all to see. The mental and emotional scars cannot be identified with a specific attack in a court of law, and since they are unseen, can be denied as circumstantial. But they run deep and can linger for years or a lifetime. Ask me how I know.

          I was raised by a malignant narc father. In many ways he hurt me much more than either narc husband did. I still fight off the damage he did inside my head, and I believe he planted the seeds which caused me to withstand much of the abuse I endured from my husbands. Emotional and Cerebral abuse is insidious. At least if you are bound to contact because of children, those children will one day grow up, and the reason for the contact will cease to exist. Even though I understand what it is and have had therapy and have cut the contact down to a bare minimum, I can still hear my father’s voice in my head, and know what he is going to actually say before he even says it. Most of my life is very meh, but as long as he lives he is Dead Man Walking to me, and I hope I will feel safe and free when he finally stops walking. Who knows, I may be haunted, still. At least, staying away from the poison has made me strong, and I live a much better life with little contact. Society has it wrong if they say getting over a mindfuck is easier in any way. I won’t put one type of abuse over the other — they are both horrid — but inflicting intentional pain is pure evil.

          • Me too but I had a Borderline Personality Disordered Alcoholic mom who taught me to accept abuse…the amounts of abuse I tolerated from nowdeadcheater were huge….one reason I never left was that moving home with my parents (even temporarily in aa) would have been worse than life with Cheater

          • This is why it is nearly impossible to find a therapist. They dont get the background abuse. They just assume that youre bitter.

          • It took me a LONG time to comprehend that my husband wasn’t clueless, but was actually doing it on purpose. For instance, he wouldn’t respond when I tried to talk to him about anything but work, sports, or the kids. For the longest time I thought he had no feelings and no interior life. It was hard for me to comprehend. It wasn’t until my mother was listening to me tell her how my husband was clueless when she said, “Stop making excuses for him. He knows exactly what he’s doing,” that it started to dawn on me.

            I remember telling him once that I was so lonely I cried myself to sleep at night. He just stared at me, then left the room. An engaged, caring partner would have wanted to talk about it.

            His stonewalling was intentional. I believe now that he cut off any real communication for years in an effort to get me to give up and leave. He had a grand scheme in his mind to get rid of me and woo the OW away from her husband. The only thing is every once in awhile he’d bring flowers, or do something kind, and that would keep me appeased for awhile.

      • After DD1 six years ago, I don’t know what a narc was and didn’t have anyone it point out what was happening. I knew what I should do but whenever I had contact with H, I would doubt my gut and believe him. I even had the thought I shouldn’t be around him because he could make me change my mind. Reality was suspended when I talked with H. When he was gone I would realize how this was all wrong. After dd2, I was more educated about disorders and the good people here screamed NC and grey rock. Now I know better and have tried to grey rock him for 3 months now. My mood is so much better and the roller coaster is becoming smaller.

  • Sorry to say it after the fact DC, but — “The only winning move is not to play.” (Joshua from “WarGames”)

    Grey Rock means finding that third setting you haven’t reached yet. It’s extraordinarily difficult to reach, but made easier when the UBT cranks up and shows you what he’s actually saying.

    CL puts her trademark humorous touch on it above, but what I hope you see in his response to your plea for attention from him (sorry for the 2×4, but that’s what it is) is: “Oh well. Shit happens. Go find yourself some happiness if you can, it’s not my concern (never was, actually).”

    If you start seeing him for what he actually is with comments like this, finding that third setting should become easier.

    • I don’t mean to get off topic, but UX, did you actually just drop a War Games reference? Awesome!

      I’ve had a couple of setbacks with gray rock in recent weeks. For me, I tend to slip up when I start thinking ex and OW have real, human emotions…

      Hang in there, DC! And CL, as always, nails it: “Please accept this divorce summons, a reduced standard of living, and the loss of your health insurance as a token of my gratitude.”

      Yup. That line perfectly describes my ex!

      • Up top for War Games!

        I slip up when I feel like if I say the right words in reaction to what he did to me that he will magically feel deep remorse. Or devour himself (I solved the riddle of the Sphinx, huzzah!) It becoming more obvious — now a year out from DDay — that neither scenario will ever happen.

    • UX
      I like the idea of a third setting. That’s exactly it. I have it easier than most as mine was and now is again, abroad. I do Grey Rock as we have children together. He texts now and then to see if the boys are ok (they are all NC) and if I am. I learned during the divorce proceedings to be who he thought I was and to treat him with kid gloves. I learned that his impression of himself from me was a vital source of oxygen for him. So I played to that side. In the divorce I got a good settlement because he wanted to be seen as a good husband and father, a good provider, so I asked for as much as I could and then mentioned his generosity. If he wanted contact with the boys but they were in no way going to do that I would suggest that he respected their need for space and time to heal, as any good father would.
      If he gets peevish and upset about whatever it is then I remind him that he destroyed our family and it takes time to adjust. Usually I don’t mention any of his dysfunction, pathology or past cruelty because what would be the point? I know what he is, he never will. I use customer service grey rock. I am polite because it works. This technique I don’t think is pandering to a dysfunctional ego it’s more accepting that his ego is dysfunctional and this is the way I can manage it. I am naturally quite dull so don’t find it difficult to be this way in brief texts ‘just the facts ma’am’.
      I don’t know (or care) how he feels, if he feels he is winning, if he is with anyone else already, if he feels he is getting away with it or if he feels actual emotions. I have found a way to manage the contact that involves the least effort for me and doesn’t disturb the boys lives. I do see myself as a shield for them so if he gets cranky about not seeing or hearing from them I might deflect that by asking if he is looking after his health and then the focus back on him he forgets what he was mad about. Centrality as bait for his focus.
      My life and that of the boys is going well. He has no clue who we are or what we truly think any more. He is like the T-Rex in the original Jurassic Park movie. I just have to wave the stick at him to get his focus where I need it to be and for him to believe I don’t think he is some kind of monster.
      Mine is a ‘nice’ guy so that’s what my words say and are. I guess he has not yet figured out the difference between actions vs words – thank goodness.

      • Capricorn you are my hero. This is what I aspire to do in my words and actions. I’m over a year out from Dday #2 and 11 months since divorce was final. I get a random text now and then from him. The kids do actually talk to him now and spend 3 nights a week with him. They are in high school and are able to manage their relationship with him without any input from me for the most part. Yes my ex wants to be seen as the ‘nice guy’ too and I used this to my benefit in the divorce. I got the house, 95 % of the stuff, better child support than court mandated, and ‘liberal visitation’ as he said the kids are old enough to decide where to stay (he thought it would be with him and that hasn’t quite worked out as he thought so now he’s using a big house and money to try to lure them for more time). I moved quickly with settlement and divorce while he had the twu wuvs and wanted to be done with me quickly so he could secure schmoopie 2.0. I told my attorney as soon as there was trouble in paradise with schmoopie, I wouldn’t be able to get rid of him. I wouldn’t change a thing except I would have never hitched my wagon to a narc in the first place.

        Time to move on and find ‘meh’. I am getting closer. I can tell because the things he says/does don’t have as much impact on me. I am neutral. This has served me well and is the best chance he will do the right thing for our kids.

        • MJB,
          I am so happy to read your post.
          You have shown such strength, you have come out on top!
          I know many things are still very difficult for you, but just want to say that you truly are an amazing person.
          When I see your post name, I think, MIGHTY MOM, MIGHTY LADY!

          (((((Lots of hugs)))))
          Peacekeeper

      • I love this! I haven’t filed for divorce yet this this seems to be a good plan. My H wants to been seen as a good father and provider (but he is NOT). Normally I don’t thank him for stuff but it might get me through the divorce with more. I need more since I am left with more responsibility but legally he doesn’t have it give it. He would like people to think we are friendly. *eye roll*.

      • “Customer service gray rock” is GENIUS. Wow. Yes. Because phone bank people are trained to be polite and courteous, but in a limited, specific fashion. It’s a way to avoid engagement which is both authentic (because we are, after all, decent and kind people) and opaque. Such a helpful construct, thanks.

        • That Is Not,
          I think it was Alethia who came up with this idea! I too just loved it. It suits me and it suits my situation.
          😁

          • Thank you!!! Thats exactelly what I have instinctively planning to use on XH if I need to interact again (we have a daughter he never meet, we are an ocean apart). Now I am plane old grey rock but my ex is such an idiot and with a temper… customer service grey rock will be perfect.

      • @Capricorn — From what you describe, your cheater really does want the “surface title” of “nice guy,” and as long as he gets that, he does not require any hands on interaction, thereby making your life easier. In short, he doesn’t need (or doesn’t want) the drama.

        Kunty Kibbler definitely wants the whole bundle: to be seen as the kind, considerate, forgiving person — by any means necessary — but who also goes to extraordinary lengths to try to preserve centrality in my life, my daughters’ lives, and (I assume) the life of RPD. I suspect she would take any customer service gray rock behavior by me as incentive to assert even more control, and the goal posts for ‘niceness’ would constantly move.

        I guess what I’m saying is CSGR probably works best on the cheater who just walks away, and does not want/need to continue having a strong sense of control. Many cheaters aren’t like that.

        • UX
          I completely agree. I did get ‘lucky’ with the type of narc I had and his particular flavour of dysfunction. It also is of immeasurable benefit that he works 7,000 miles away in a completely different time zone (let alone ethical zone) so we never usually interact ‘live’.

          I suppose we all sort of know eventually what will ‘work’ and what will not with our former spouses.

          KK is in a whole different universe.

          • hah mine is about 9,000 kilometers away too… and sounds a little like yours… he cant and doesnt want to put effort and if you wave the t-rex stick the right way (love the analogy LOL) he will feel like he is understood and its alright and he wont tick the wrong way (= growl and explode). i have to make sure dont rub in more salt to hus wounds of guilt and embarrassment he halready has… customer service…

          • Hi Capricorn, mine is only 10 miles away, but has the same characteristics your ex has, and it still is the best way to deal with him. As long as I am not questioning his parenting skills in public, he is fine with me dealing with the kids practically all the time, they prefer to be with me and I do too. We have a formally agreed upon co-parenting schedule that splits the week in even on his request, ‘because he is a family guy’. Yep, in words, definitely not in actions, but he does not see the difference, I pretend I don’t and live my life.

    • Yes to this third setting!!! I wish I had been able to do this from the beginning. But I’m getting there and it feels SO GOOD to just shut him out completely. Not only to put up the front of gray rock – but to FEEL it. To not want anything from him. To be free from the manipulation and empty words.

  • “Dear former wife appliance, Your job as birthing vessel is now over and I thank you for your service.

    Please accept this divorce summons, a reduced standard of living, and the loss of your health insurance as a token of my gratitude.”

    OMG this line killed me, it’s so TRUE!! Thanks for the chuckle CL! It’s only funny because if I didn’t laugh I’d cry!!

    • Exactly how I feel. I am the midst of divorce battle? I would be happy to take half of the marital property and walk away per the law. Stbx is happy to give me half as long as he gets to decide what qualifies as marital property, take what he wants and then give me half of what is left. Great plan.

      He will also accuse me of being a verbally abusive evil bitch with BPD who let the children raise themselves And then hand you a journal in which he states he gave this crazy evil bitch a diamond necklace for our 25th anniversary because I deserved something for being a great mom even if I sucked as a wife.

      Reaching grey rock and meh seems impossible with the mindfuck that goes on.

      • Feeling it, your STBX must be my STBX’s long lost twin!

        His narrative is the same as your fuckwits. I don’t understand all this character assassination. If his repeated infidelities have no bearing on the division of assets (i.e. Apparently character is not an issue in asset division) why go through such lengths to paint the chump as an awful person. I just don’t understand it… get to MEH and fucking move on! Oh, I know, they don’t like consiquences… they expect to move through the world unscathed after creating their own demise. It’s maddening!

        I’m starting to think the character assassination is par for the course, and we better buckle up because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

      • Feeling It – Grey rock is so hard when you are in the thick of divorce. No way I could do it. So be easy on yourself. My suggestion is just do the best you can. Try to show him a composed woman – don’t lose it or rant or expect understanding or cry.
        In other words don’t show him normal justifiable human emotions. It just feeds his narrative that you are a bitch. Don’t bottle those emotions up though. I talked and ranted to an empty chair (my take on Gestalt therapy), I journaled, I sang songs (Kesha’s Praying is pretty powerful), therapy, good friends who will validate you. All of this will help you deal with a fuckwit who is assassinating your character in a way that will serve YOU, not him. My character was assassinated too, but guess what? Two years later the truth is making the rounds and people are starting to realize that my X is a sociopathic liar.
        Good luck with your divorce!! You will get through it and you are not alone.

      • X is exactly the same.
        Grey rock is rarely needed, even with 4 kids. I’m completely NC.

        I block everything except email. Rarely if ever respond to any emails – my lawyer can do so if necessary. D was final 6 months ago and all business of the marriage completely resolved.

        I hire a sitter to handle the drop off/pick up for the supervised dinner. Even if I drop off I do not get near X – I watch my teen walk to the restaurant safely.

        The X turned into/behind the mask is a dangerous toxic evil pod (person?). I protect myself utterly from him. I do not need or want anything from such a dangerous person. Just like I do not need or want anything from a serial killer. I stay as far away as possible.

        Gray rock has too many triggers/possibilities for further abuse for me.

    • Seriously! Obligatory admiration, and I think a bit of resentment underneath that for not being able to loathe me entirely.

    • He literally said this…. i have no feelings for you whatsoever…but you will always be the mother of my children…BTW just days after i abandon the family with nothing to live on a week before Christmas i will cancel your health insurance …really ??

  • NEVER expect reassurance from a cheater. If they were capable of empathy, they wouldn’t have cheated. Every time you interact with your ex, expect entitlement and condescension. You’ll usually be right. You’ll never be very wide of the mark.

    And BTW, there is no “alone” like marriage to a cheater.

    • I often tell people the only thing worse than being alone is being alone in a marriage. At this point, being alone does not bother me at all!

      • Violet
        Just to say that on the 18th September last year you posted a reply to the day’s post. I copied your post into my notes on my phone and cannot tell you how much your words meant to me, then and now.
        It was about you going back to the old you, the essential you.
        Just wanted to let you know how much of a difference your words made to me. I bet I can practically recite them verbatim!
        Violet’s prayer. So…
        Thank you. ❤️

        • Thank you for your kind words. I never feel alone here. The love among this community gives me strength, as does reading all the stories of courage from fellow chumps. Chump nation rocks!

  • It may also help to remember:
    (And I know this sounds cold)
    He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t appreciate anything you did before or do now. Someone who leaves their spouse through an affair, abandons their family etc is not someone who is capable of being kind. If they manage kindness, it is an act. Turn the other way.
    Find a counselor or some friend who have been through divorces. They will happily dish out some genuine kindness.
    We here at CN are always happy to talk.

    You and the kids deserve better! Always remember that!❤

    • “Someone who leaves their spouse through an affair, abandons their family etc is not someone who is capable of being kind. If they manage kindness, it is an act. Turn the other way.”

      True story. I’m pretty meh, but this is going on my refrigerator as a daily reminder.

    • I don’t think your comment is cold at all. It’s much needed reality when a Chump is wading through the muck and mire. Like the rest of us, the letter write needs find a way to accept his actions rather than his words.

      I had a hard time with this for so long. I was genuinely confused — to the point that I thought I was losing my mind. Like a broken record, my brain kept trying to figure out how can he screw over his family and treat us like cow dung for so long … when he’s crying and/or saying all of the kindest, most thoughtful things — things a loving person would say?

      I was literally trying to figure out how both (negative actions and positive words) could coexist within him.

      Of course, the obvious answer was there all along. It’s not possible. Liars lie. His words mean nothing. Only his actions are decent arbiters of his true thoughts.

      • Aloha – ‘It may also help to remember:
        (And I know this sounds cold)
        He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t appreciate anything you did before or do now.”

        These words are like a 4×6 beam falling on your head. When I was in the early days to digest my DDay, these words would have devastated me. This is C/N at it’s most logical. The sooner you realize how true this is, the better. But, those first words of the truth will always sting.

        • I am divorced one year now. Have tried reconciliation for a year after DD1 and took 3 more blows to the heart before I decided I better break my own heart than let him devastate it. I think what saved me was the very hurtful understanding that I have been of no value to him, other than make him look good. And that is was not me, he did not care about the hearts of his sons too, they were also appliances he could drop when convenient. It nearly killed me, having been with a ghost for more than 10 years, but you know what they say about nearly. I still love myself better than accepting a leach suck out the life of me and my boys. After that, the sun will shine again.

  • I would add something that the UBT seems to have overlooked, or at least I’m certain would have been true in the case of MY cheater if we had children because he does it in a different way – the old “you’ll find someone else right away but not me! No, I will suffer alone and single forever without you! (despite my seven girlfriends I had while we were together)…”.
    If he’s vehemently denying any wrong-doing and still insists he and OW are just friends, the “you’re not alone” part is a guilt trip as well; as in “poor me, out here on my own because you threw me out..for NOTHING…because I didn’t do any thing wrong…and I’m so alone but YOU’RE not, YOU have THEM, lucky you. Why are you so angry at me, when I’m the one that’s suffering all alone!”

    • The Limited qualifies for the sociopath. his comment wasn’t that I’d find someone else, Ever the Empathy. No I was condemned with, “NO ONE will ever want you the way you are.

      The whore believed I’ll die alone with no one to hug me at night.

      The Limited even takes credit for his adult children taking after him.

      Grey rock and no contact are key in detaching from abusive sadistic toxic people.

      The OW/OM are getting a disordered subhuman man/woman as their new investment. The novelty and infatuation stage of the disordered can be used to your advantage. Use it to get a better settlement. That’s how to deal with it, through your attorney.

      Children aren’t possessions. Sociopaths use children to torture. Disengage. The more you want or expect the more power they maintain. Boundaries are key. Set them and be consistent. It works.

      It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact the person you loved has no empathy and wasn’t capable of love. Never look to the disordered for validation. Know your own worth.

  • “I love you for that.” Chumps love, but cheaters use “love” to express how useful we are to them. They say the words, but the meaning behind them is completely different… The UBT is such a great tool to realize this! Every time I think of my X, I tell myself “he sucks. And to the entitled, fairness feels like oppression.” And yes, he feels very oppressed, can you imagine he now has to abide by a divorce decree ?! Poor sausage!

    DC, I get how difficult it is to accept that the person you had kids with, the person you are supposed to have on your support team is in fact you worst enemy when it comes to your kids’ and your well-being. Please distance yourself and take the time to build your own support and validation squad. Your support system cannot include your cheating lying coward of an X who will continue to inflict damage on your and your kids’ psyche through his selfish and self-centered way of life.

    (((Dumped Chump)))

    • To Chimpitude’s point… I agree love to them means useful… in marriage counseling my cheater Narc was asked why he loves me. He said because she does things for me and cooks me dinner.

    • This morning as I was reading today’s column, I was thinking how schmoopie must be giving good kibble because cheater has been rather silent the last couple weeks then as soon as I think that, things ramp up with his golden child.

      This son worked full time at a very labor intensive job this summer and made good money. He also put a lot of effort into the college search. He was communicating with coaches who are recruiting him and playing 2 sports. He also mowed the lawn and helped with yard chores, got in some social time with friends and always went to church with us when he wasn’t traveling for his sport on weekends. I don’t know how he did it all.

      Today cheater sends son a text telling him that he owes cheater $2000 for car insurance next month. This would eat up a good share of his earnings. I am all for teaching responsibility but his approach sucks. He doesn’t give a payment plan option or give him chore options as he did for daughter in the past. Son des pay for all his gas and meals when he travels for his sport. Son was so mad. He told me that dad said recently that mom will get more money in the divorce than son will make in a lifetime. He brags about how much money he has but won’t give him a break on car insurance.

      For now, I am trying to stay grey rock. I calmly told son I am not sure what to say because I do not have much success with communicating with cheater. I suggested he ask the counselor cheater has him see.
      He then tells me that he missed his last appointment with the counselor because he did not get cheaters email. Cheater was very upset. He asked cheater to schedule another appointment but cheater said it was up to sun because he didn’t want to pay for another missed appointment.

      Son is learning who cheater really is. It is hard as a mother who wants to protect not to jump in to watch. I would be accused of alienation if I told him not to engage with cheater (which is what he is doing.). My guess is cheater will alienate him all by himself and blame me anyway.

  • Co-Parenting with a fuckwit is hard. I set rules for myself and stick to them as best as I can. One of those rules is that when I mess up, I’m not too hard on myself. I too struggle with being overly kind, but that does not make me weak. I keep reminding myself how much happier I am that he is not living my house.

  • “You share with people who’ve earned the right to hear your story. You have to earn the right to hear my story. It’s an honor to hold space for me” -Brene Brown

    You are sharing your story with someone who does not meet the above criteria.

    • Yes!!! love this quote from her! I continue to have missteps–going to fckwit with “my stories”- even after all this time. It is hard to rewire and coparenting in this is a battle. Someone above spoke of being gentle with yourself, also crucial. Start over again. I’m hoping someday I will land on Gray Rock like The Mother of 🐉 on white walkers. Meantime, Read CL, Brene and whatever else I can get my hands on. ❤️🙏

  • I’m sorry you can’t go full No Contact. Grey Rock is more difficult. Before I could go NC, I had to deal with the ex for a few months, but made sure to communicate almost exclusively via email. If he called, I emailed back. The more impersonal the better. Besides, everything is documented by email, and he can’t gaslight quite as easily when you’ve got it all in writing.

    I tried to make it a game: how do I communicate what I need to say in the fewest words possible. LOL. When you stop looking to him for any sort of personal connection or warmth, and start giving him the terse, cool, all-business responses he deserves – you will start to feel a sense of power.

    • GREAT STRATEGY.

      I like the game approach too, and it’s worked for me.

      I have bought myself treats as a reward for maintaining No Contact sometimes.

  • Ah yes, they go off & cheat on their spouses (he’s cheated on 2 wives plus the mistress & 2 ex girlfriends have come forward) and I recall after I kicked him out & filed that he’d come back & try to pay me these empty compliments. Hey kids, your mom is so strong or after I took the kids solo on a European vacation, he was shaking his head saying I don’t know how your mom does it? That’s not easy having you kids for 3 weeks.
    Hey loser…. I have to DO IT. You’re not doing it! He’s far too busy with his 3 hour workouts trying to keep his 53 yo physique in shape for the unknowing chump naive prospects on his business travels & unsuspecting new supplies.
    I have to laugh as he thinks his kibbled compliments mean a thing after he had no qualms of bringing his mistress into our family home every time I was away with the kids visiting my mom in FL.

  • The hardest shit sandwich for me to swallow was the idea that I had projected my image of him (good guy with morals blah blah blah ) on to a turd.

    Some of us – myself included – need time to adjust to the fact that this person gives zero fucks about us. Less than zero really.

    Gray Rock works wonders. It takes time to stop touching the hot stove- but after a while you will get tougher!!!

  • DC get that heart off your sleeve! It horrifies me to think you are sharing your feelings with your ex as though he will care. I would never share with my ex how much his behaviour hurt us, or that his selfishness has totally limited my life for the next several years, along with my hopes of ever having a healthy relationship. If I told him I felt lonely or sad he would be utterly elated.
    Hopefully practising some “grey rock” behaviour will help you detach.

  • DC: I completely relate to your letter.

    After D-day/discard I moved right into the pick-me dance and then into a weird phase where I bounced between hate and forgive-and-forget-let’s-play-nice. If I’m bone-honest with myself, the forgive-and-forget-let’s-play-nice thing was just a holdover from the pick-me-dance… the lingering thought that perhaps, in the future, this thing might play out and Porky Pig would regain his senses.

    It took a lot of reading on CL, reading LACGAL, Bancroft’s book, Eddy’s book, to finally come to terms with the reality of my situation… There is nothing to work with here and I don’t want him back. I don’t want him to regain his senses. There was no reciprocity, no caring, no partnership with Porky Pig. Our marriage was a dictatorship. Ugh, sadly I even have Porky Pig on tape saying,”I’m not here for your emotional support.”

    My sister, CL, and CN asked the one question over and over again that finally got through to me: Is this acceptable to you?

    The answer is no. It is not acceptable to me, and it is not an acceptable model for my daughter.

    Grey rock was the transition from misguided hope to reality, and thus moving on.

    Learning about narcissists/narcissism and realizing that Porky Pig fits the bill in every possible way made grey rock the only course of action. It’s like learning how to handle poisonous snakes. There’s just a right way and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way gets you bit.

    • So well said Meh or Bust. It does take time and distance to really see it though. You have to go through the pain and grief. I now realize schmoopie 2.0 did me a favor and I think ‘she’s a lucky, lucky girl’ :P!

      I have peace and quiet in my home now. No more walking on egg shells. Trying to make Mr Always Miserable happy. He was not reciprocal. It shouldn’t have been acceptable to me before 2nd schmoopie.

      The only way to handle snakes is to not handle them at all. Get far, far away.

    • my wife said a lot of the same things when she left me and my son to move to Florida with here fuck buddy, like she was happy that me and our son had each other, she also gave me a divorce summons, a reduced standard of live and loss of health insurance for 24 years of marriage.

  • The thing I love about Grey Rock and No Contact is that after some time, they become real sentiments rather than faking it till you make it. At first, you are withdrawing from giving the Cheater centrality in your life. You’re flying under the Kibble Radar and hoping the Scythe of Fuckedupness does no more damage. Collateral Containment because you have made a permanent decision that enough is enough.

    Eventually, I can promise you, the Cheater moves to the periphery. I started out with 50/50 custody. My daughter’s dad, He of the Secret P.O. Box and Endless Chat Room Night, fusssssed and kicked and insisted on shared custody even with a Domestic Violence conviction. Somehow he got it. Apparently family court thinks wife beaters can be excellent caretakers of tiny girl humans!

    Then, he never actually paid his lawyer. He never actually came to get his daughter half the time. Over the years he’s been distracted by impregnating a Rando Sasquatch lady, being cheated on by Sasquatch, blah blah blah.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been a sane parent. I’ve done the providing. The planning. While Cold Slab O’Meat came and went, there was relatively little drama. From D-Day to GTFO was 17 days. There was little to no discussion in front of children.

    It’s not been smooth. It never could have been effortless. But in regard to both Cheater 1 and Cheater 2, my daughter knows that whatever rug gets pulled up, there’s literally a solid floor underneath.

    And I say that because our house had leaks and we actually had to rebuild solid floors, yo.

    Grey Rock works because 1) It conserves your energy for what really matters, which is your own LIFEand 2) It gives the cheaters no hook to snag blame on. A true the end of the day they’ll find another hypotenuse, and for most of us the children will migrate in our direction because we’re the sweet relief of normalcy.

    My daughter now spends 2-4 days a month with him. She’s 12. After all that time fighting me I ended up with de facto full time custody. She often calls and asks me to pick her up early because she has no room at her dad’s.

    Like Tracy says, the best place to be when the Karma Bus Comes is all the way across town, having pie at a cafe with your kid, then getting in your own car you bought yourself and driving home. And you really feel, ‘Wow, Bummer, Sad.”

    Then sleep like a Monkey on Benadryl.

  • Oh man! It’s so strange how all of what CL writes is always so timely and exactly what I needed to hear!
    I am good about no contact BUT this past weekend I almost broke it because my little person told me that her dad was taking her and OW to a little ceramics place that I took her to last year…
    It just so happens that the day I took her there was Dday for me. The XH had already left because he “has a right to be fucking happy”, but had secured himself a place to stay (or so I thought) at a buddy’s house. He had called early on my work day and cried and told me he didn’t sleep because his new psychotropic meds gave him a tummy ache and therefore was not in a condition to watch little person…I was SO worried about his sadz (ugh) and was still a chump, so I tried to calm him down and tell him how proud I was that he was trying some new meds and not to get down on himself, and I will be happy to call out sick (again) to watch our little person. My little person and I had a great day and I had a lot of spackling moments in which I convinced myself that my then husband was “going to be ok”.
    When little person and I got home, I paid some bills online and went through the phone bill (because of course I had been paying his phone bill almost since we met (ugh)) to discover that the asshole had been calling, texting and video messaging the same number over 4000 times in one month. Yes. I counted.
    I called it, no answer. I called him. No answer. He called back 20 minutes later. Strangely his tone was no longer one of the sadz anymore. He was in rage mode. “Yeah, I know you called angela! She is my therapist. Mind your own fucking business!” (He actually called her angela, which is not her real name so I feel comfortable using it here, CL;)
    Well. You all know the rest. I immediately went no contact after simply calling him “an awful person” and hanging up. I found out from a Switzerland friend (who is no longer my friend) that he had been using drugs throughout our marriage. I filed without telling him and am free.
    BUT, he took them to that ceramics place!!!! I spent the day obsessing about it until a friend told me not to allow him to know this because it would just be a little ego boost for him…he does not give a shit and would take pleasure in knowing it bothers me.
    It took a day and it went away. My advice is to take that stuff to a therapist, and/or a trusted friend. Just as CL said, even though you are no longer his “appliance” and he has a “new model” that response was one of a person who still thinks of you as his property albeit only of use as his kid’s caretaker. Fuck him.

    • Nejla… mr. sparkles has taken my son and the OW to about a half dozen of the places we used to go to together as a family . You must always remember that these fuck wit lack any original thought of their own inner merely replicating like a robot what they have done in the past in order to secure their new supply . Take it as a compliment!

    • Mine went on the same mobile home trip through the US (I live in Europe), we went on our honeymoon 12 years ago. He came to my house right before the trip, and with tears in his eyes he said he felt awkward and asked – no kidding – if it too reminded me of our trip to…… Canada (!?) we went to years later. A second I wanted to scream out ‘no sucker, that was our honeymoon,’, but realized in time, “off course he knows”. He just wants me to remember and mention our honeymoon. So I just stared back Grey Rock and said ‘not really, but I am in a hurry, so off you go!’ Laughed and cried my eyes out drinking to much wine with a girlfriend later on. Better company.

      I can always be worse though, my divorced friend’s narcissist married his OW in the same Chapel he married my friend, not even living in that town anymore, but “he enjoyed it the first time”! Damn…

  • “Sometimes, when you’re not getting the love you want, giving makes you think you will.” -Mitch Albom

  • If it’s all not our fault….. then who’s is it…. my ex still figures he gets a crown for 4 days of camping all the while missing 100% of his parenting time for the last 3 years. I too try to be nice. He planned the trip around my camping equipment…ummmm no. Gray rock … non of this is easy. My young men 16,17 are angry and hurt. My daughter 10 is just starting to feel the smack of it. Before now doughnuts and candy woo-ed he to the dark Mum keeps you away from me antics. But she has her own phone now and he still doesnt call or answer.
    Take good care

  • If you share custody he will still be pretending that he is Good Dad, never mind that you are the one that will be up all night with the sick kid who can’t stop throwing up and is moaning in pain saying “please make it go away”. Of course you were always that parent before he left too. The only difference now is that he won’t be there complaining that you are giving your kids your attention instead of servicing him. Now you are free to give the kids the attention they need without having to feel guilty about it.

    • Goodness, yes. My STBX sees our minor child for two brief SUPERVISED visits a week. He’s traumatized the heck out of all three of our kids when he came unhinged the day he left. And, through the years, he “followed along” with the parenting — but had I not been there to lead the way, he wouldn’t have lifted a finger. At the end, he made it clear that we were the balls and chains around his neck.

      Yet, because he waltzes into the supervised visits each week, he has been singing his own praises about being such a wonderful father. It pisses me off … my kids deserve so much more than this jackass as a dad.

      But, you are right about the flip-side too. No more dealing with his shitty moods (and feeling like a bad wife myself) because I refuse to neglect my kids for his whimsical need for attention.

  • Someone mentioned Scott Peterson and I’ve thought the same things so many times, that basically my ex husband has the same mentality as a man that murdered his wife and son and then dropped their bodies with cement blocks on Christmas Eve then called his mistress????? If nothing else scares you that should scare us all. These people suck and perhaps are capable of more dastardly deeds. Grey rock grey rock post here. Think of him as Scott Peterson when you miss him etc. hugs to you

    • As our marriage disintegrated and he sobbed and ached for another woman he started putting his hands on my throat during sex. He’d never done that before. Creeps me out remembering it.

  • What strikes me about his text is the incredibly condescending and patronizing tone. Like DC should be so grateful for him bestowing his “gratitude” on her. And the arrogance of “you are not alone – you have the children”. The concept of DC needing any kind of companionship/relationship other than her children doesn’t seem to enter his head, being such a non-person. Guess she didn’t have that before he left either. His lack of empathy and gross entitlement shine through even as he probably thinks he is being generous. My narcissist completely. Bit close to the bone, this one. Yuck

  • Oh, DC, I’ve been here. I am here. Well, maybe a little more on the constantly-at-least-a-little-pissed-off-but-mellowing-out side of grey rock, but it’s as good as I’ll get. I have to share my two-year-old daughter with asshole. While he is never going to win Father of the Year based on how he chose to bring her into this world (i.e. in the midst of his prostitute use, bound for divorce, while her mother had no freaking clue — mmm, cake!), he is a decent dad to her. But damned if I’m going to be happy to have to interact with him. Grey rock to me has meant keeping a business tone — discussing daughter only (and keeping her best interests at the forefront of my mind has really helped me through wanting to strangle her father to the point of being past it now — I want to make sure he knows to have Benadryl on hand because of some random allergic reaction she had, that I bought her a training potty, etc. for HER sake, not his), not letting his little jabs and hissy fits get to me (I know who he is now — don’t want him, don’t care), and never looking to him for any comfort or waiting for him to show remorse. I will tell you, this last one is hard, because you expect someone to be able to step back and look at what they’ve done and understand how awful something like this is, and they just can’t do it. He will apologize to me out of one side of his mouth, then if I ever show any anger toward or challenge him on something, he will do something really snippy and passive aggressive. Just recently it was making a point to tell me he was seeing someone already (no shit, Sherlock…vaginas are like oxygen to you…did you really think I bought that whole “working on yourself” BS?) and then changing the lock to his apartment because he “didn’t feel safe” (vicitimize yourself much?). All of this after I told him I didn’t want to to make small chat with him at pick up anymore, which = hostile, apparently. He would have never changed or let me process any of this if we had stayed together. That he decides to now throw me scraps of decency wrapped in sharp bits of his continued contempt for me? Thanks, but no thanks. Separating who I thought he was as a partner from what I want from him now that we are raising a child in two different households was important in moving past the giant mindfuck “present” of single parenthood. I am biting my tongue more, and it’s not a win for him, it’s a win for me. He doesn’t matter, he’s not worth it. Business only is as grey rock as we can get, but you will know you are being as much an advocate for your children as you can (which, as important as it is, is the ONLY reason you have to interact with this fucker now) and that he will get nothing else from you.

    • “…he decides to now throw me scraps of decency wrapped in sharp bits of his continued contempt for me?”

      Great description of what it feels like to seek comfort from a cheater!

      • Should have read “wrapped around”. I was thinking of those stories you hear about the sick, horrible people who leave meat with bits of glass or sharp metal stuffed in it around parks so that dogs will find and eat them.

  • God damn I f’n love you CL! And CN. I never experienced incontinence before I met you all. That is a compliment btw! Love to all of you.

  • This is the kind of stuff that made my explode when I was navigating the discard after D-day. After being with someone 36 years and depending on them for support and comfort it’s very difficult to just cut it off overnight. Especially when they’ve been pretending to care to keep you out of their hair. My husband also seemed to seek my support for the difficult time he was going through trying to decide whether to stay or go. It’s a horrible situation to be in.

    My ex actually went gray rock on me first although I did my best to stay as far away from him as possible. He still barely manages to communicate with me in full sentences through email whenever there’s a legal issue that needs to be dealt with. Luckily, that part is finally over. However, I’ll still see him at grandchildren’s events, etc. I’m blessed not to have to see him face to face very often, although I often see him in my dreams.

    DC, No contact truly is the path to a new life. You can’t live with one foot in yesterday and one in tomorrow, it’s just too hard. But don’t beat yourself up for looking to your ex for some support. It’s just part of the process of learning to detach. You will get there, just keep trying until you get the hang of it. Be patient with yourself.

    • Lyn, despite my not wanting as much to with X as possible, my X appears to be trying to grey rock me also. It’s pretty clear that he has decided to make himself the victim of the situation and, I believe, thinks I was “abusive” to him (my growing aggravation with him during his years-long period of hookers and checking out was expressed, not swallowed…I was an angry chump, and not proud to have been living that way). I think some of this is the creation of their own reality, where they feel that they are wronged somehow and justified in doing what they did, and/or the whole impression management thing where they are trying to appear to be the sane/nice one throughout the ordeal (that THEY created, but hey, that’s just a tiny detail).

      • Yes, I remember when my husband said, “when I call schmoopie she’s always happy to hear from me, but when I call you, you’re curt and get off the phone too fast.” What he neglected to understand was I did this after so many years of him traveling with co-worker schmoopie during which barely gave me the time of day. His calls were obligatory and I could sense that.

        I guess I was supposed to fawn and fall over over his highness when he called in an attempt to win a contest I didn’t even know he’d put me in.

  • DC,

    The only thing you can trust from a narcissist is that when they say something it is to accomplish what they want. Truth, other people’s emotions, politeness have no bearing on what comes out of their mouth.

    So asking a narcissist for support is just another way of letting them know how they should manipulate you to get what they want from you. Case in point:

    “You have raised two great kids and I love you for that.”

    My UBT: ‘I want you to keep raising those two kids, because if you don’t, it would be more work for me. I’ll say whatever I think will keep you raising them and keep them out of my hair. In fact, please make them the sole focus of your life – “You aren’t alone, you have them” – so if you feel lonely, please spend even more time taking care of them.’

    Implied is that your life and your happiness aren’t important, your role as taking care of the kids so he doesn’t have to is what matters. Notice that as soon as you reached out to him feeling lonely, he took that loneliness and used it to make you do things for him (take care of the kids). As UXworld points out, the only way to win this game is not to play. Don’t interact. Don’t give him a lever that he can control you with it. If you’re lonely, write us, talk to your friends, go out on a date, join a club, or do anything but talk to him.

    I also want to clarify that there’s nothing wrong with taking pleasure in the fine job you’re doing raising your kids, the bond you share with them, or the fact that the fine people they are growing into is largely a result of your efforts. But when your X uses that idea as a way to manipulate you, that’s bad. Don’t give him the chance.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.
    aeronaut

    • Great points…especially with your UBT. Yep, more work for X if I start being a selfish asshole like he was. Having his daughter one day a week and every other weekend (except when he is traveling for business, of course) seems to have been just right for his continued pussy hunt, and gives him the downtime he needs to “heal”. “[I]f you feel lonely, please spend even more time taking care of them.” Ha, exactly. Like I didn’t need a partner in any of this life-altering journey that is parenthood. Nope, I’m just the tool to get the job done. Now that the initial phase of moving out on my (our) own has passed, I am feeling more strength in what I do as a mother (now single mother), but it should never have had to be this way. “Someone else will take care of it” has always been a credo that pisses me off to no end, and I saw enough of it in this world already.

  • I think this is a tough thing…..
    My kids are adults and NC with their dad, so being completely no contact with him is easy.
    There are a few very tiny things to settle the property to discuss….taxes, etc. when we do speak, it’s very infrequent and all business.
    It wasn’t always this way. My daughter was 17 when my ex left and having a daughter who was struggling with her dad , at first I spoke to him ALOT.
    I found being pleasant…..even complimentary to him at times to be soul sucking but productive. If you are strong enough……that’s a big ole IF…..it’s playing their game to get what you need.
    I used to be bitchy…..and when he would speak to me I would always have to get some snarky cheater dig in or make mention that his girlfriend was probably just using him for money. I always felt good for like a second ” take that!!” but then he would quickly turn it on me that I was “obsessed” with him and that I needed to move on.
    Now I am cordial when I speak to him and if he tries to brag about himself or his happiness I just respond with a very polite ” can we get back to the subject of this conversation? ”
    The last time I actually asked him how he was doing and it got him to sign a paper that saved me two months waiting for a court date.
    If you expect nothing, you won’t be disappointed.

  • “You have raised two kids and I love you for that”

    Reminds me of cheaters words, ” I will always love you as the mother of my children”
    Yes he used the word “my” meaning his. ( would that be the two tiny children he was ready to abandon)

    Those words always make me feel the need to carry a small airplane puke bag with me at all times. Every time I hear them I want to puke.
    ( and I hate that word)! Sorry🤢

    • Oh peacekeeper, his words are horrible words because they are a bullshit lie. These cheaters love no one in any way except themselves.

      Your daughters are so blessed to have you. I love you for your constantly kind and uplifting words. I wish my mom would have been like that.

      Hugs!!

      • Feelingit,
        Your kind words to me really touch my heart.
        This evening I was with my grandchildren who have recently lost their wonderful Father and I was feeling sad.
        Then I read your post. You made me smile.
        Thank you.
        You deserve to have Family who appreciate and love you for the wonderful person you are.
        In my eyes you are mighty.
        Your cheater lost a gem in you.

        Xxxxxx
        Peacekeeper

  • Sadly, this is so familiar. In the months after dday, when I was still very much a knotted ball of pain and confusion, the cheater boy often played the “you are a great mother,” “I will always love you in some important ways,” “we should work closely together for the sake of the children,” and “now we can be great friends” cards.

    Even then–and this gut level inability to fold entirely when he tried to force me toward an ethics free life–I resisted, even though I made tons of mistakes. This guy was clearly not my friend, and my own experience and observation told me most of what I needed to know about his attitude toward the children. They mattered to him exactly insofar as they could benefit him. When he could brag about their accomplishments, pose for pretty pics with them, or receive (entirely unwarranted) praise for what a great dad he was, that worked. Real life with its illnesses, injuries, mistakes, stresses, and challenges did not work for him at all. The real parenting of cleaning up puke, going to doctor’s appointments, talking to teachers, and basically just taking the time to know kids, guide them, and deal with their everyday problems, big and small, is not a spectator sport. Nobody to watch and praise. Not a lot of photo ops. Plus, it’s often messy and tiring. He had zero interest in or aptitude for any of that. I have also since learned exactly how awful he was when left alone and in charge of the children. Really bad. Heart stoppingly, years of therapy required type bad.

    Look, tall athletic guy was probably just tall and athletic, which does happen and is forgivable. The point is to adapt the gray rock advice to our situations to help us break free. I am not boring, I’ve just got nothing for cheater boy. He gets zero windows into my personal life, my emotions, my heart, or any details of who I am. He is not a safe person, and he deserves no access to me. When communication must happen, gray rock (at which I do not excel, which is why I far prefer no contact) is a smart strategy for keeping things factual and kibble free and cutting off contact ASAP without creating any opportunities for further abuse. No question that they do turn every bit of info into a weapon, so self-protection is just smart. Since truth is immaterial to these folks, sharing our emotional truths or whatever with them serves no purpose other than to prolong the abuse.

    Allowing only minimal, factual communication when absolutely necessary is a move toward freedom. That would be equally good advice from a short, couch potato person. I’ll take my wisdom from any worthy source!

  • I never share anything unless it benefits me. I mirror her and its not “honest” or much fun but for almost 2 decades I’ve line my soldiers up on a battle field in bright uniforms while hers hid in the trees wearing camo. What she sees now in plain sight are just decoys.

  • I am not convinced my CheaterX was a sociopath, but Gray Rock helped me stay sane during the months I had to live with him prior to getting the settlement which allowed me to move out.

    You know how CL says that the appropriate responses to your teenager’s comments about what goes on over at the other household fall under “Wow, cool, bummer.” These are ways to allow your child to communicate to you what happened over at the cheater’s home without getting too emotionally engaged in responding to different parenting values or reports back about how fun it was to make brownies with OWife. You’re recognizing that the child doesn’t really need to have a conversation. The child just wants to report the news. These three simple words allow you to acknowledge your child has said something without getting so emotionally engaged that the child starts to think about hiding information from you because you can’t handle it.

    Well, Gray Rock does about the same thing, but instead of being used as a means to allow your child to tell you stuff that you might otherwise feel triggered about (no one likes to hear that OWife played the part of Suzy Homemaker and made moon pies with the kid, who then ate more sugar in one afternoon than they would in a month at your house), Gray Rock allows you to disassociate yourself from your Cheater’s rants, raves, and digs both big and small.

    My own CheaterX liked to start each and every morning off with some kind of pronouncement of disaster. No “Hello, honey! Good morning!” for him. No, it was a repeat of whatever the most recent conspiracy theorist had on whichever podcast. Now, CheaterX was convinced of his own genius and constantly frustrated that no one else recognized it.

    Silly me thought that he was trying to have a conversation. No. He wanted affirmation. I not only had to agree with him, but agree with him for the exact same reasons he laid out. I finally shut down my end of the conversation but that infuriated him, and especially after I’d filed, he’d try to bait me into a fight by pulling out whatever absurdist conspiracy crap he’d most recently heard.

    I discovered that I could toss in the following: “Sounds like it,” “There you go,” “it is what it is,” etc. He could carry on for over 30 minutes while I tossed in a line when he paused for breath. I discovered that I no longer had to feel part of his rants. I just listened for pauses, and then dropped in a canned response.

    Even though I am not convinced that CheaterX is a sociopath, Gray Rock worked to keep communication at a distance and saved my sanity while I was still living with him.

  • Gray Rock is a hard one for me too. I also tend to flip back and forth between anger and kindness. I actually felt sorry for him a week ago when he came to pick up the kids and looked so run down and miserable. He only took them for an hour or so then brought them back early because he was so wrung out. He should be happy. The divorce is pending, less than a month and he should be free of me. He just got a huge promotion at work after only a year on the job, and yet he still isn’t happy. I actually felt sorry for and concerned about him. Why? Is it just habit or what?
    He reminded me who he really is last night, however. I had just gotten back from a camping trip with the boys and their scout leader. He sent a text that started with “I am planning ahead for future involvement in scouting” and then asked if the scout leader knew about our divorce. I responded that she knew we were divorcing and that it was imminent but that was about it (I had not discussed details with her). His response was “Good. She used to be the scout leader for XXX (Schmoopie’s son)”. That’s when I was reminded that he doesn’t care one whit about who he’s hurt or the damage he has done, nor does he miss his me or our family unit, he only cares about his reputation. He wanted to know whether or not it was safe for him to show up at scouting events. I must be getting better, however, as I didn’t respond despite the temptation to snipe “Life sure is complicated when you go around doing things you don’t want others to know about”.

    • It really is just all about them. He didn’t care about how screwing around with schmoopie would affect you, your kids, schmoopie, her kids, none of it. He only cared about getting his. Schmoopie only cared about getting hers. Once you set down that bucket of spackle and step back, it’s pretty clear.

      My ex decided he deserved to chase our daughter’s 20-something y.o. assistant soccer coach. Fancy dinners and trips, using our 14 year old daughter as an excuse to get together. Neither one of them gave a fuck about her or our son and how embarrasing this would be for them in their high school. It was destiny alright. Destined to be a big ole shit sandwich for everyone including themselves. Hadn’t quite worked out the way they thought it would.

        • This is a pretty good summary of why we should even stop feeling sorry for them. People can be unhappy or go through unhappy times without damaging the lives of those around them.

  • My husband worked away from home all week and only was home on weekends. What we anticipated would be 1-3 yrs turned into 10. Yeah…I get that I’m the chumpiest chump that ever chumped a chump. Damn stupid blind trust! Gets ya every time. But that’s all I heard – from him, from family (mostly HIS of course) – “it’s not the same for you. You have the kids!” Umm…what now? Right – while all he had to do was wake up and go to work…oh yeah, and remember you had a fucking wife and family – I had baseball games and mono and parent-teacher conferences and vet visits and tonsilitis and busted water heaters and 4 ft of snow and dinners to cook and play practice and driving lessons and homework and…and….and. I kept his life afloat while she was afloat on his pinga. Right – GREAT trade-off there! They tried to tell me – ALL OF THEM – that my loneliness and my burden and the depth of my responsibility wasn’t as bad as his because I had the kids. Like the relationship between husband-wife can be replaced by mother-child. Like…really now?

    Once again, Chump Lady is right on the money, honey. It’s a stupid rationalization they make for themselves. They live in a fantasy world of trying to draw comparisons to suit their own selfishness. Don’t fall for it!

    • LeeLeeG
      Don’t worry, here there is usually someone even chumpier. Like me. Mine worked abroad for six years coming home occasionally and having the older boys out in Asia for Xmas or summer holidays. It was supposed to be short term after the financial crash but he liked it out there for the money and the ‘respect’ he got. Hmmm. And maybe the three other women he did the horizontal jogging thing with on a regular basis.
      🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️

      • Yeah, my husband found the same kind of “respect” in Asia. We moved across country for “two. years” after the crash when he was transferred to the job that sent him to Asia so often. That stretched into 10 years, and somehow I didn’t put my foot down about moving back even though my friends and family and heart were all back home. Now I’m starting my life over across country because we’ve been here so long and the kids are settled. (The real irony is that my instinct was to just stay in our home apart from him for the 2 years, but I didn’t because I felt certain he would cheat if we didn’t move.) I didn’t question that his trips were getting longer (spanning 2 weekends when they used to be for 5 days) and more often. What a chump I was. At first I was heartbroken and felt completely inferior to his women, half his age, gorgeous, “second wives.” Then I realized it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with him. Argh. Now I’m a 50 year old single parent, but at least I can see the other side of this mess, and it looks pretty good over there.

        • Surprisingly
          I’m the same. Single parent, three boys but finding out more each day that he (despite being so far away) was the cause of much of my stress and anxiety. I didn’t even imagine he would cheat I trusted him 100%, even with the ‘looks’ from others when they found out our situation. I was quite the chump.

          Now with the divorce done and the reins of my life firmly in my own hands things are pretty good and although it was the worst year finding out and divorcing my worst chills are reserved for imagining I had never found out.

  • Thank you CL and CN for the incredible advice and support. I have been turning more to CN and friends lately and really starting to get past this tangled, dysfunctional, emotional garbage! It’s so liberating. I’m not so naive as to think I’m just 100% “over it”, but I’m learning! I re-established those boundaries recently, and finally I’m getting to the point that I no longer feel any pull to reach out – in anger or otherwise (a big change from where I was not long ago). I guess I’m finally starting to accept what he really is and what I really was to him for nearly 3 decades. Hard one to swallow. But for all of you out there struggling in the way I have been – I echo the advice above — be forgiving of yourself when you fall down, but keep getting back in the saddle and go NC/gray rock. And look forward!!!

    X tried just a few days ago to goad me into an argument over visitation. (He was refusing to adjust his schedule by an hour because he “had to work” – mind you, this is for a visit 4 months down the road…) I didn’t engage! Instead, I sent my sister a picture of the “I haz a sad” kitten and we had a good laugh!

    I agree with the sentiment above – X doesn’t deserve attention from me in any form, and in fact cutting him off is self-preservation. I’m done with his abuse!

    • Oh I want to add – I just opened a very old box of momentos the other day. I found a whole heap of letters and poems from X (from high school and early college years). Wow. gag. I started reading through them. It’s just gross. He was so messed up. So many references to “I’m sorry about last night. Let’s just forget it. You’re true to me, aren’t you? I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t. I’m not the best looking guy…” blah blah blah. I was so pathetic and weak to have stayed with him. BUT, I wanted to hear from CN – what did you do with your piles of letters/cards? I feel like I should burn them (too bad I don’t have a fireplace).

      • I just threw them in his home office trash. Initially, I was only thinking it was the closest larger garbage bin, but then I thought if he happened to notice them there, good.

        I think an outdoor burn would have been nice though. You can make it as ceremonial or simple as you want.

      • I shredded every single card and photograph of Asshole the day after DDay. Gave me great pleasure watching his face tearing into little strips!

  • I never heard of “gray rock” before, but I apparently did it with my ex. I decided that if someone was so heartless to walk out on me and have an affair, they did not deserve the dignity of a reaction. Love or hate means you feel something. I did not want him to know I felt anything. He was dead to me.

    That was the main reason. The second reason was because he was a sociopath. I got chills thinking about all the times he was “reading” me. So he got nothing after he walked out.

    That doesn’t mean I wasn’t wrathful. I deserve an Academy Award for my performance.

  • My STBX sent me an almost identical text when I wanted some acknowledgement that I was parenting alone and exhausted. I have full custody (my kids didn’t want to go back and forth between houses and my STBX never put up any kind of a fight for them). In our state at least this costs him a lot more money in child support, and I actually take home a lot more per month than him even though he makes twice as much money as I do.

    Anyways, about the text. “You raised great kids.” I don’t know how old your kids are, but mine are 12 and 14! Is this another cheater special? Pretending we’re done raising kids when we haven’t even made it through the last quarter? Just wanting it to be true, so it is? As time goes by, I am more and more amazed at how he is capable of lying to himself, not just me. He really believes whatever suits him. It’s amazing. How did I miss this ridiculous skill during our almost 20 year marriage?

    • Yes! Mine are 11 and 13. Amazing how they just wash their hands of it all. And YES I’ve asked myself that – how did I miss this in him? I think I started to recognize and admit his skills at twisting the truth to suit his needs (and believing his own lies!) years ago. But like so many I spackled. And like someone above said – after we put down that bucket of spackle and step back, we can finally see things for what they really are. Sometimes I actually feel a bit sorry for OW. She’s young and naive and has no idea the emotional garbage she’s invested in. She’s riding in her very own karma bus and doesn’t even know it!

  • CL – It is amazing how each day your blog seems to relate to exactly what I am going through. I bred with the POSH. I am in a unique custody arrangement because my daughter is so young. (He left when she was 2 weeks old). His visits take place at my house because she is not old enough for him to take her. (the real reason is he told the courts he is living in a hotel and couch surfing because he won’t admit he is living with the OW that works for him). I have been more than accommodating allowing his parents to come with him during his visits when they are in town. So that means in MY house it is him and his parents while I am there alone. I do it for my daughter. Now when it comes to my parents he refuses to be around. If my parents are involved in any way he says “well I just won’t come visit and it will come up later”. I have to tell myself all the time that I shouldn’t expect him to be understanding in any way. He and his parents feel they DESERVE it. They will never admit or accept that I am allowing and doing what is best for my daughter even though its not what i want. So i can’t expect them to return the favor. Grey Rock and as little contact as possible is literally the best thing I have ever done.

    Girlfriends and a glass of wine are the best way to vent and share your emotions. Not with the POSH!

    • I also want to note that the one time I tried to get an acknowledgement from him that I was raising our daughter on our own his response was “well it would be easier if you let your husband come home….just saying”. I responded “you can come home if you tell me where you have been living for 4 months.” His response “if I told you my life would be a living hell. so if you don’t want to be a single mom you need to let that go”.

      I seriously debate if he has a mental health issue.

      • Of course, the signature “you need to let it go”…”get over it” – X was telling me this less than a month after he walked out. And his own sister told me “I think he may have some mental health issues we may never understand”. You think?! They create their own universe – some alternate reality that I am truly thankful to be free of.

      • No, he’s compos mentis. He just has a *honesty* issue.

        P.S. Have you thought about having your parents move in with you or come for an extended stay? You don’t need POSH in your life, or your baby’s life… And your daughter won’t miss what she hasn’t had. He’s not capable of bonding with another human being; it’s futile to try to create a relationship with a baby, who is vulnerable & has endless needs. Be ruthless about not prolonging your agony… and hers. You are the only one who can protect her and shape her life into the right direction.

        • Thank you Sunny! My house is currently on the market. As soon as it sells I will be moving in with my folks. He is aware of this. We all know when that happens he will either try to change the custody arrangement or just won’t come around. I have resolved myself that years from now when she asks me questions about him I can look her in the eye and say “honey you need to talk to your dad about why your relationship with him is different than your relationship with me”. If he wants to be in her life he would. We don’t have to be together for him to be a father. I have never denied him anything. He went out of town for “work” on one of his visits. Instead of asking if he could switch days he just said “i won’t be there”. He doesn’t make any effort. It still bothers me that it is so unfair that my daughter has that type of father but its not my responsibility to try to make the relationship exist. My goal is to teach her that we are all responsible for our own actions and the choices we make. If someone wants to be in your life they will. And if you want to be in someones life YOU make it happen. If it is worth being in that persons life then you will make compromises.

  • Thank you for this … even though so many things I’ve read here have been helpful, this is the most succinct portrayal of my relationship I’ve read … it’s exactly how I act, and what he’s like, and I really needed to read this in order to stop the cycle.

    • It’s amazing – once we start to really recognize and accept their true character, and we work at looking forward (and see the dysfunctional vicious cycle we’re in when we engage) – WE CAN DO THIS!!!

  • One thing I found really helpful is to play the scenario out in your mind or even on paper first before contact with your cheater. Someone mentioned this in the comments a few weeks ago I think and it is a really helpful exercise. Be honest with yourself about how this is going to play out, meaning be honest about how your cheater is going to react to you. For myself, I know that my X will ALWAYS disappoint and then I’ll be left feeling worse than I did before. No contact is really the best way to go, but if you do have to make contact, be as clinical as possible. Take every single emotion out of your end of the equation. That’s gray rock. Leave your emotions at the door, so to speak and only talk business, or absolute necessaries with your X. Easier said than done, but I’ve also noticed that that old adage of practice makes perfect also works. Practice gray rock. It comes easier after so many practice sessions.

  • That’s right up there with, “Well, no, I didn’t get you a present for Christmas but YOU should be content with the joy you see on the faces of everybody else you shopped, wrapped and cooked for! That’s the REAL Christmas spirit! Don’t be so selfish!”

    Only HE is special and privileged enough to qualify for companionship and love, to ride across the plains of romance, the wind in his (receding) hair, firing his (limp) love arrows into the sun, chasing strange. You? You should be content to stay home and know that you’ve devoted your life to your children. Why isn’t that enough for you?! Selfish!

    Be content with what the Narcs give you. Or you anger the Narcs.

  • A lying cheating POS says you do a great job parenting the children they abandoned.

    Seriously, who the fuck cares what these assholes think.

  • Honestly? My kids are adults. I did such a great job of spackling, they now feel sorry for their dad. He has the sadz. At least around them. I feel like I did them a disservice. They are trying so hard to find a balance between the two of us. I try so hard to make them feel like they don’t have to choose – they can love us both. Whatever relationship they choose to have with him is up to them. I’m NC, so my STBX uses them as carrier pigeons to bring me things from the home I moved out of. It’s hard because part of me wants so badly to believe he’s the man I thought he was. Then I remember what he’s done. I, too, had moments where I wanted to seek comfort from him. Then I remember he’s the cause of my pain. It’s a crazy, mixed up feeling when you find out the person you trusted the most is the one who metaphorically planted the knife in your back.

  • hum? Not sure where my Ex falls.

    We are two years out since he walked out and almost one year since D Day. I think initially he felt very guilty and would be nice, hang around etc etc etc. He got the message quickly that I bitterly angry and wanted no part of being friends or having anything to do with him. You know the drill. I spent many months crying, begging and pleading, than went quiet during the divorce process and then went to town with texts on him being a liar, cheater and coward who walked on his family after the divorce was final. Those have since subsided. But he rarely if ever replied or commented. I don’t think he feeds off them other than maybe reinforcing why he left. (We didn’t fight during our marriage. Avoiders) Honestly, I don’t care what he thinks about me anymore bc he left me.. That said enough!

    I feel like it gives me a voice when I can express my feelings! It kills me when I text so many things I want to say and end up sending them to myself. I realize it takes a lot of time and energy processing all of this stuff. But, I need to express it! And I want him to know!!!

    I am glad he doesn’t respond. I don’t want him to. So what do you think it means when he doesn’t? If he doesn’t care, why then should I care if I send them?

    Also, He doesn’t try to engage me anymore at my daughter’s events. He is totally grey rock with me too. I am glad! I think it means he is done and doesn’t give a rats ass about any of it anymore.

    I am not at meh yet. I am in the anger phase. But, it is weird that I absolutely have zero affectionate feelings for him. 20 years together and I look at him and feel disgust. Just Weird!

    I tell everyone the truth about what he did. I owe him nothing! I just don’t understand why we feel the need to paint them as roses when they are weeds?

    This post is so random. sorry

    • Warrior–believe me, I understand the need/desire to vent at the X during the angry stage. By all means write down your thoughts, but sending them to the fuckwit just keeps him central. Hard to believe, but even negative sentiments directed their way are kibble to them. You probably find yourself saying essentially the same thing to him in texts or emails, so it’s not as if you are imparting knowledge he can use (a good way to convince yourself not to send those texts).

      The anger/rage phase is a tough one; ride it like you would a strong wave at the beach. Ultimately, the rage is the best strategy for propelling you away from the cheater emotionally; use it to your advantage. Hard to realize when you’re in the midst of the rage, but it does abate some day. Right now, it’s necessary to disengage. Hugs!

      • Warrior – ‘He got the message quickly that I bitterly angry and wanted no part of being friends or having anything to do with him. You know the drill. ”

        Your post was one of those that really resonated with me.
        I could have written it!
        I think I became Queen of the Nastiest Texts Ever.
        X never reacted – I must have come off crazier and crazier.
        (once in a while he would react and say…(politely) – I never saw ‘it’ that way.
        I feel like one of those peeps talked about here that I could be a narcisissist because I was relentless in never letting up on my insults to him and his choices in life.
        But, I never stalked him.
        I’m convinced he never wants to see me again and just forget about the entire last 35 yrs of his life. Fine with me!
        (that’s called Meh)

  • Warrior, my Special Snowflake is grey rocking me far better than me grey rocking him. I guess because he wants to pretend he hasn’t cheated and is just a sad sausage, nothing to see here (then slink off with his super secret girlfriend at his super secret new home), where I want to bash his face in and I want him to hear my bewildering pain and devastating sense of betrayal. Actually, I think I’m giving Dickface what he wants when I grey rock. Turd.

    I keep telling myself it’s giving me what I want too – a good financial agreement, one that gives me a better future. With sweet No Contact in my short term future, I hope to keep my shit pinned down till then and when I can really start to recover from this awful trauma. Grey rock is a means to an end. But as I’ve said elsewhere, it does make me feel inauthentic, as essentially I have to be civil to someone who I now understand to be deeply abusive. It’s unjust and not fair, like everything else that has come from his self-entitlement, inadequacy, adultery and deception.

    It is what it is and not what it should be.

    But I get it Warrior, I really really want him to know how I feel. I also really really want to make myself a new and wonderful life.

    I know which one is in my power to make happen.

  • I think Grey Rock is a lot like practice for Meh. You fake it till you make it. And let’s all make it. Someday you really won’t care. Let him think that day has already arrived.

  • CL: “Isn’t it nice the way I turned this shitty thing I did — cheating on you and abandoning my family — into a FAVOR I did for you?”.
    My adult children actually believe this narrative.
    He abandoned them financially!
    He’s just calling them for some fast food every now and then, to keep telling pity stories of how lonely he is (besides the dozens of hookers)!
    I had to open my children eyes on how he was a parasite, made me pay the mortgage and all the bills, grocery, clothing.
    They don’t understand that he’s enjoying his freedom with his whores.
    They see only his fake sadness.
    His lovebombing is destroying my credibility with my children. He’s telling them that I’m angry and bitter. He’s good at telling tearful stories like an Academy Awards best actor, his false narrative wins. For now, then my children will realize the truth when he will start exploiting their careers, their personal income and savings as he did with mine for decades.
    His plans are working. He has managed to get rid of the family expenses until now and when the time comes he’ll turn my children against me, move in to live with them and depend financially continuing his parasitical life.
    But he says that he’s doing me a favor, so I’m not alone, I’m with the kids. I’m alone when I pay all the bills. He’s alone with various OW.

  • Do you as feel that your spouse is unfaithful and using with on line relationship programs similar to Tinder?

    Do a Tinder name search. If you are someone who has installed this app on your phone just to check if your partner is using it or not, then I am giving you a more reasonable way to do so. Now, you do not have to swipe through this on the web dating app and also frustrate yourself. Because of a new app, Swipe Buster!.

  • My inspiration for Gray Rock is a character from My Little Ponies. Maud Pie lives on a rock farm, and is only interested in rocks. She is the most bland, boring character you can imagine. Check out a YouTub clip for inspiration, minute 1:20. https://youtu.be/Xa2mj-vH2js

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