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Dear Chump Lady, Help! I keep breaking no contact

Dear Chump Lady,

Five years ago, I unknowingly entered a relationship with a raving narcissist. I didn’t know anything about the disorder at the time. I just thought he was quirky and kind of a jerk, but he was MY cute, quirky little jerk. Fast forward 3 years later, after moving in together, the abuse, flirting with anyone/thing that moved (the waitress, the neighbors, his ex-girlfriend, the dog), it all started to fall apart. I felt like I was slowly going mad. His controlling behavior, put downs, commitment issues, triangulation, the other women… I was miserable and yet still loved him. He ended up dumping me, I had to move out of his place and re-build my soul, my dreams, and hopes for the future. But I did, and I read and read. It was then that finally all the weird, off handed comments, like how he didn’t have empathy, and all his crazy making abusive behavior, started to make sense. I ran the hell away, went NC, and blocked the asshole from of my life. This lasted 2 years.

The problem is (and this is a big one) this last year I broke NC and went back… three times! These times include hysterical bonding sex and casual “hang outs,” but zero relationship (brief periods of love bombing followed by interactions all on his terms). It’s like before, only a thousand times worse. I am almost 100 percent confident I am participating in his harem (although he wouldn’t call it that, they are all just his “friends”). Just a couple days ago, I cut it off again, because the abuse combined with his lack of love is so blatant, it literally makes me want to throw up. But he acts like he desperately doesn’t want to let me go, so then I think, does that mean he loves me? It can be so confusing, especially after I step away for a few months. That’s when I start thinking maybe he’s not that bad, maybe we can “just be friends,” I feel guilty for cutting him from my life, and feel bad for abandoning him. I am in therapy with a good therapist specializing in the disorder and FOO issues, and I do truly do want to heal and move on.

Please… do you have any words of advice to help me pull my head from my ass and stay the hell away? I really do want to find a real, loving relationship. I know staying on this horror ride only leaves me stuck, literally spinning in around circles.

Sincerely,

Nauseous Chump

Dear Nauseous Chump,

There’s knowing something, and there’s doing something.

Here’s what you know: He’s toxic. He’s a cheater. You’re not the only one.

I know staying on this horror ride only leaves me stuck, literally spinning in around circles.

You know it, but what are you DOING about it? You managed no contact for two years, but during that time you devoted your research to HIM. His issues, his narcissism, what genus of what species of jerk he is.

I’m not saying that time is wasted if you come to a conclusion, (TRUST THAT HE SUCKS) but apparently you needed to do more research, and got kicked in the teeth some more. Perhaps it’s time to form a congressional subcommittee.

You could have taken that time and untangled your own skein. Why was this relationship acceptable to you? Just think! You could’ve filled those two no contact years with DOING fuckwit-neutral, fuckwit-irrelevant things that YOU enjoy, getting to know people who aren’t fuckwits, who don’t require hours researching the DSM manual.

So let’s untangle your skein a bit.

I just thought he was quirky and kind of a jerk, but he was MY cute, quirky little jerk.

You can spackle any adjective you want over “jerk” and it’s still JERK. Cute, quirky jerk is still douchebag I wouldn’t want to sit next to at a dinner party.

Why do you think “jerk” is all you deserve? That you have to dress that shit up and take it out? Why was that OKAY with you?

Yes, no one is perfect and we’re all fairly mortifying to one degree or another, but I’m talking JERK.

When you sit on that shrink sofa, go explore why you don’t feel worthy of even a JERK. But you’ll have to pick me dance hard to keep that jerk! So long as you WIN the jerk, and he’s your jerk, his jerkiness is acceptable?

How about — you don’t traffic in jerks. Because you are not a jerk, and jerks don’t reflect your values.

Just a couple days ago, I cut it off again, because the abuse combined with his lack of love is so blatant, it literally makes me want to throw up.

A jerk who makes you puke. #winning

But he acts like he desperately doesn’t want to let me go, so then I think, does that mean he loves me?

No. He loves kibbles. Look at his actions and learn the difference. People who love you don’t treat you like shit and make you compete for their love. He “desperately” doesn’t want the game to end. He’s totally A-okay with you debasing yourself for a few of HIS precious kibbles. The rate on return is 1 kibble of his to 10000000000000000000000 of yours. Is that okay with you?

Real love makes you feel SAFE, not insane. Drama isn’t love. Drama is turbulence and barf bags.

It can be so confusing, especially after I step away for a few months. That’s when I start thinking maybe he’s not that bad, maybe we can “just be friends,”

Bargaining stage of grief. It’s okay to feel lonely, or miss what future you thought you were going to have, but be clear-eyed about him. He sucks.

Here’s a dirty secret, but the cycle of abuse is a big high — the honeymoon part, that is. That moment you “win”, when he wants you and fucks you, and CHOOSES you, and insists that all of this was a terrible misunderstanding. (Your misunderstanding. You’re dim, and he would explain it to you, but you’re not sophisticated enough to understand.) But for once, you have a BRIGHT, SHINING KIBBLE! And it’s so powerful — because you’ve imbued it with your power.

And of course, he’s not All Bad. No toxic relationship is without its hooks. If I tell you he’s a jerk, you’ll tell me about how nice he is to his pet iguana, or how he helped his elderly neighbor rake leaves once, or his lovely thatch of chest hair. AND WOMEN LOVE HIM! So there must be SOMETHING there that EVERYONE sees and YOU’RE GOING TO MISS OUT ON!

So what. Who are YOU? Is that ENOUGH for YOU? Is disrespect, and being thrown over for the next Miss Kibbletits your idea of friendship? Aren’t you worth more than one quirky, jerk kibble?

I feel guilty for cutting him from my life, and feel bad for abandoning him.

He abandoned YOU. He threw you out of his house. You’re not the bad guy here. Go google DARVO. Methinks you’ve been mindfucked. (You can stop that with no contact.)

Quit seeking validation from fuckwits. You fell off the wagon, now dust yourself off and get back on. You’ve given this man all your power, and you need to take it back.

Get busy DOING. Fill that new life, and rewire the reward centers in your brain for mightiness.  There are not “real, loving” relationships with fuckwits. But you can have one with yourself. Stay strong.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • And get yourself tested for STDs. I would think that having to get your legs in those stirrups because once you screw him, you’re also screwing all the women he’s been with should be enough to get you to stop.

  • Add 20 more years, 6 houses, 3 kids, 2 minivans and a dog and this is my story.

    He was an asshole but he was my adorable, quirky asshole.

    Except he wasnt, I shared him with an invisible harem just out of my sight.

    I had my own skein of why I likely stayed in it, but my skein doesn’t matter here. I chose to stay when I did for reasons…some of them were legit but a lot of them weren’t. Trying to figure out if he really loved me or not…but in the end the very best love he had to offer me still sucked.

    Run run run like your hair is on fire.

    • So true unicornomore, “in the end the very best love he had to offer me still sucked.” It sure did suck. What I saw in the end was a hatred so deep; I had no idea where it came from.

      Nauseous Chump, this sentence jumped off the page.”His controlling behavior, put downs, commitment issues, triangulation, the other women… I was miserable and yet still loved him”. It’s sick isn’t it? To love someone who so disrespects you in so many ways and yet you go back for more as if this wasn’t enough. We do not enter a relationship thinking we will accept toxic behavior. Yet over time it becomes more and more acceptable as our boundaries fade. The imbalance has become grounded as the foundation. Time to get out.

      • What struck me the other day was that I spent 25 years loving someone who is attracted to women who are nothing like me and I don’t even have any desire to be like the women he is attracted to. How does that make sense? The only answer I have is that I didn’t realize he was attracted to the opposite of who I am and who I want to be. Even after realizing it, however, it has still been difficult to let go.

        • Yes, Chumpinrecovery – I too recently had this realization! According to the electronic trail, my husband sought curvy to ‘chubby’ (his words) women with a ‘big rack’ and they all had a dress style and look that HE would have described as trashy. All the while to me he would comment on how he was not fat-ist but just did not find excessive body fat attractive and say things like, you have the most perfect body, you are so lucky. You are so sophisticated and dress so well….All unprompted by me (I wasn’t fishing for validation when he would volunteer these opinions and I did not lap up the praise as it made me feel uncomfortable (I didn’t know why at the time. I can take a compliment…but now I know it was my gut telling me something was wrong). One of the last things he said to me at a day out at the beach a few days before he died was, “I don’t deserve to even sit next to you here.” When I asked why he said that he said it was because I had such an amazing figure and he didn’t look that great*…but I have to wonder if it was actually a moment of clarity and acknowledgement of his character vs. mine**.

          * My figure is pretty good, (but if you want busty, I’m not your girl!) He was very athletic so looked good himself. The comment did not objectively make sense.

          ** He was texting his mistress while we sat at the beach together. I thought he was just browsing his email..

          • Birdie, I think this is also one of their strategies to keep chumps off the scent. In my case, the x would often say something uncomplimentary about women he was chasing or had caught. He would also act very sad and burdened when he went off to events without me — events I later learned were essentially fertile hunting grounds for strange.

            I also think they leak the truth. Back when the DC sniper was active, x would fret and be very fearful for my safety in the Home Depot parking lot and such. We lived 4 hours away so there wasn’t much real threat. He would get very worked up at the thought of losing me. In retrospect, I think it was how the knowledge that he might lose me due to the cheating leaked out.

            Nowadays I pay very close attention to anything that doesn’t feel like a natural fit to the situation. There may be an underlying truth.

            • I had the opposite experience- I actually went to THE Home Depot the day before the sniper struck there. My now ex didn’t have even a small hint of “that was too close for comfort”. Sigh. Probably some truthiness in there for me that I completely missed!

            • A very unexpected heart attack. He was under 50 and very athletic so there was no reason to think he was at risk. I mourned the loss of my adoring husband for three days and then I had D-day once I got onto his computer.

          • The Traitor did that too. Said he didn’t like fat women, that I was fit and athletic, that I had class, a great posture, perfect bone structure, perfect teeth, that I was the most intelligent person he knew, that his exes were boring, no conversation, would embarrass him with their stupidity when they went out (building that famous political career in the local council where he flopped…) blah, blah.
            Guess what: the Whore is fat and unfit, has terrible teeth, terrible posture and she’s so dumb she took a class to learn how to use a smartphone. And she was his ex…
            And he used to drool over any woman who vaguely looked like her on TV.

          • Dawned on me the other day he was texting dumb ass at the Christmas table. He refused to hang decorations and I spent the entire day cooking with no help. It really sucked. Oh well he won’t be here this Christmas. He is rostered to work! Sucks to be him.
            They are all ungrateful and no matter what you give them, it won’t be long before they are opening up their hands wanting more.
            Amazing how space gives you these clear gems of wisdom and you think, yeah he does suck, sucks hard!

            • Lady B, my ex texted the OW on Christmas Eve across from my grandparents. These guys are heartless assholes! He also didn’t help me decorate that year or take a family Christmas picture. Then I found out on Christmas Eve why in his words, “It didn’t feel like Christmas”. Maybe because instead of decorating the tree you lied about a work event to fuck the OW or when you went Christmas shopping for me in the new car I helped you buy, you were meeting and texting the whore! It will be two years since my d day on Christmas Eve and I’m now that I’m divorced the clarity is coming more and more. Always leave a cheater! These guys don’t change.

        • Chumpinrecovery, I could say the same thing! My x’s girlfriends are nothing like me. The biggest difference is, I would never sleep with a married man. Then they go on from there–I wouldn’t go out and get so drunk I have to take a taxi home, I would never have a drunken slip-and-fall accident outside a bar and then sue the bar, I would never introduce my married affair partner to my kids, etc., etc.

          Then I realized the difference. I was his ASPIRATIONAL partner. I brought him status, class, education, intelligence, and refinement (relatively speaking, mind you). I was respectable—someone he could actually marry and have kids with. In his life, he didn’t meet people like me very often.

          That’s why the affair partners are so different from us. I know some cheaters later marry their affair partners, but mine hasn’t done that and I don’t think he will unless he can find someone else like me to lovebomb.

          • This is really interesting, champchump.

            It borders on the “untangling the skein” boundary, but your thoughts put me in mind of how she mentioned several times over the years how “normal” I was, how it was almost unreal the degree to which I had no family dysfunction or serious personal issues to deal with. She was almost spiteful about it.

            When she let me in on some of what she knew about BDSM Guy (abusive upbringing, collector of women, domination tendencies bordering on violence), it was almost as if she gave up on the normal — perhaps found it too difficult to live up to; she would call it “too boring” — and finally realized that it was much more familiar/comfortable for her down in the dysfunction after all. That would explain the Carrot Singer.

            And based on what I know about Rider of the Purple Dildo, I think she’s found her perfect match. (It makes me want to take a bath just thinking about it.)

            • That’s pretty classic Uxworld. I knew a guy years ago who specialised in married women…His background was pretty shaky. He and his mates went after this middle class housewives who had everything you could dream of. His take on this: these women like a bit of rough and they’re never going to get it from their nice husbands who treat them like ladies.
              These chaps had no trouble finding married women like that.

            • Well UX they get to live with the new normal. My life was centered on my family and raising my granddaughter.

              No apologies necessary for living a family centered life. I loved raising my children and enjoyed my friends.

              It’s a huge blow knowing what they found worthy of their time, initially.

              I’ve never been arrested, assaulted an elderly man in his home, broke into anyone’s home, lost my liscense, or had a felony drug charge.

              I’ve never slept with anyone else while married.

              I was too busy getting an education, taking my kids to private schools and making sure my children and granddaughter had a role model. I’d travel alone to cities, go to museums and explore on my own.

              What they have is a far better match. The porn, the lies, and who cares whatever else their into. When he was told not to bring her to my daughters work because her explosive personality wasn’t manageable I know her mental illness dictates crazy.

              Nope notning to work with. In my mind it’s a great dropping off point. Yet with young children I feel for you. What a fuckup of a mother.

          • “Aspirational partner” – brilliant Champchump!

            CIR, Birdie, Ohana, UXWorld – I would simply second all of this set of characteristics you outline. This really is interesting. There must be a subtype or something that marries according to their false self but cheats according to their true self. They disparage those whom they actually want to cheat with and largely that’s who they know themselves to be when they aren’t in character. And pressure develops keeping those compartmentalized. And I believe those odd comments they make, the ones that only truly make sense when taken as a camouflaged self report, are indeed some kind of momentary moral clarity. The disordered brain waves have to come into some sort of harmonic resonance but that’s when it happens. I think they feel absolved (and grant themselves what we feel whenever we do something decent) when they provide such veiled deceptive confessions like this.

            • Yes, TKO, I think you framed this tendency very concisely and accurately. (I do realize we are delving into untangling territory, but on the other hand it is so so helpful – for me anyway – to see that my situation was not unique and that I was actually played rather than wonder if he really did care, even a little.) Another one my husband would say is, “Men are awful. I have no idea why women have anything to do with men.” I would alway reply, “Not all men are awful. You’re not!” (He was abused by a man as a kid and abandoned by his father so I thought this came from that…I now think it was a direct reference to what he was doing behind my back.

            • “They disparage those whom they actually want to cheat with and largely that’s who they know themselves to be when they aren’t in character.”

              Yes, this is so true for my x at least. But it makes sense, because I believe there is definite self-loathing going on with these disordered types. So of course they would also loathe the affair partners as well, since the APs are much more accurate reflections of themselves than their spouses are.

              When I found out about my x’s mistress, he said, “She’s not the type of woman I would marry.” He later offered this explanation for why he chose to be with her: “She sees me on MY terms.” Although he lied about almost everything, these were rare bits of truth and insight into a narcissist’s mind.

              Three years later we are divorced and they are still together, after a fashion. I still doubt he will ever marry her, but she has now become the last bulwark between him and his worst fear, utter solitude.

              I sometimes wonder as well, what kind of person would have such insufficient self esteem that they would consent—no, desperately cling to—such a relationship, as the OW does with my x. He has dumped her four times that I know of. But that’s another trait the two of them have in common, an abnormally attenuated sense of self esteem (incongruously coupled with an outsize sense of grandiosity).

              I could go on but as UX points out, this type of analysis starts to border on an unhealthy untangling of the skein. Revelations as to the true natures of these people also tend to challenge credulity to a point where I often just have to throw up my hands and repeat CL’s mantra, trust that they suck.

  • ” Just a couple days ago, I cut it off again, because the abuse combined with his lack of love is so blatant, it literally makes me want to throw up.” This right here. You just keep reading your sentence back to yourself. Abuse + lack of love + nausea = nothing to work with. It does NOT equal “maybe he really loves me.”

    I’m a little unclear about your two years of no contact. If you were no contact for that long, how did he worm his way back in? No contact isn’t just not taking his calls, emails and texts. It’s erasing his presence from your life as much as possible. Sneaking peeks at his life on social media is NOT no contact, it’s allowing you to take hits of the hopium pipe. That’s what makes you think maybe he’s not so bad (he definitely is). This time, do no contact for real. Delete and/or block him on all your social media. Instruct mutual friends that you do not want to know anything about him or his life. Don’t just block him from contacting you, cut off all YOUR avenues to look at HIS life. That is what will save you from making this terrible mistake again.

    • “No contact isn’t just not taking his calls, emails and texts. It’s erasing his presence from your life as much as possible. Sneaking peeks at his life on social media is NOT no contact, it’s allowing you to take hits of the hopium pipe. That’s what makes you think maybe he’s not so bad (he definitely is). This time, do no contact for real. Delete and/or block him on all your social media. Instruct mutual friends that you do not want to know anything about him or his life. Don’t just block him from contacting you, cut off all YOUR avenues to look at HIS life. That is what will save you from making this terrible mistake again.”

      Brilliant, Beth – a beginner’s guide to No Contact, in a nutshell.

      • Yes and she is blessed not to have kids with this guy. So there is NO GOOD reason to have anything at all to do with him.

        There are plenty of other guys to get coffee with, have sex with, see a movie with, wash cars with, walk a dog with, shop at IKEA for saucers with….you get my point. And to think she only has 5 years invested with this asshat. Some of us have had 15-20 and have kids so we HAVE to still be in the same universe as them.

        I can say, and I truly hope you are reading this…the day you realize you are free, this is one of the best days you will ever have.

      • Yes, this is indeed a brilliant, short, summary of No Contact. There’s no reason for ANY contact if there are no kids and no property to sort. It’s a lot tougher for chumps with kids, but even there you can limit contact to just that portal where kid business is conducted.

      • I just finished reading “the Gift of Fear” which someone recommended after I said something along the lines of “I don’t understand how I missed what a jerk he was”

        The author talks about getting rid of troublesome people, somewhat like the light of no contact. He makes a strong point that ANY CONTACT allowed after saying goodbye/stating your point is just a further negotiation. We don’t want that do we? Allowing them back into our lives? Escalating violence?

        No contact is the way

    • Beth,
      Thanks for that post. I never thought of No Contact including “No Glimpses.”

      Very good to know.

    • Excellent Beth! “…cut off all YOUR avenues to look at HIS life.”

      Sometimes, especially lonely weekends, I peek at sparkledick’s life for two reasons:
      1) I worry about the shit my sons will get left to take care of (actually I really sincerely hope he gets hooked up with someone so this burden is off my sons), so I want to be sure he is still working.
      2) to stick pins into his voodoo doll. Not very noble, I admit, but thankfully, lately I’m so busy I haven’t had time to remember him; this may be Meh arriving. Two more divorce bills to pay, a few more things to sell that came from Sparkle family and then I will no longer have any reminders.

      • The only reason to look is that we are still hooked, even if it’s just a little bit. But every M & M binge started with one handful.

  • Tracy, FYI that Java error message seems to be back again. I couldn’t post a comment until I logged in to Word Press.

    • Thanks for posting this. I wouldn’t have known to log into Word Press to get around the error, but that fixed it for me, too.

    • Yes, I’m getting the same as well. I also updated my ISO and have the latest version, but still get the Java script error unless I’m logged in.

  • This title could not be more appropriate for me today. I have not broken no contact but am struggling with that nasty temptation. My situation is different in that I would not be reaching out to resume a relationship and I am confident he would not want that. I have been toying with the idea of reaching out to suggest rational settlement options for our divorce.

    Just this weekend I was talking to a friend whom I hadn’t seen in awhile and filling her in on things. She asked if I had texted him to ask why he is subpoenaing the adult children to testify because no rational person can make any sense of why this would be a good idea. It made me think maybe I should contact him and explain that I don’t want to put the children through that and can’t we just work this out? I start thinking he can’t be that bad. I must have pushed him to this after all I did yell at him on several occasions. I must have been hard to live with when I was going through all my female organ problems. That voice to say These are normal marital problems that don’t justify running off to fuck some strange , can get muffled. The no contact seems to quell the memories and as CL says, I must be craving another kick in the teeth to trust he sucks.

    I know you need to stay the course nauseous, but the course is tough. I am looking for wisdom to ease that pain of staying the course. Lawyer keeps saying he is trying to intimidate me. It is working but I must keep fighting. My fight or flight is in overdrive right now. I would rather flee but I must fight.

    • Feelingit: I hear what you are saying but here’s the 2×4–
      You write: thinking about reaching out to suggest rational settlement options for our divorce.

      You would not be on the site if that was even a possibility. You would not be in this position if that had a chance in hell of working. Anyone who subpoenas their own children for the additional abuse and torture of a deposition is a psychopath —There’s nothing to work with there! Your better bet would be to spend your energy fighting it in the only rational way possible —have your kids get their own attorney and move to quash the subpoena or move for a protective order. At a minimum they should seek to have the deposition occur in the judges’ presence or in the presence of a specially appointed discovery master.

      Do not bite on the bait your abuser laid for you by trying to “rationalize” with him.

      • I agree with MotherChumper99. And I have fallen into this same line of thinking. Wondering if I am taking too hard a line or if I am part of the problem in getting it settled.

        But FeelingIt, you cannot rationalize with someone who is willing to do that to his own kids (because what he is doing is not rational). He is trying to manipulate and intimidate you. Stay the course. And as much as you do not want to put your kids through that (and I would also recommend exploring ways to legally stop it), they are older and have dealt with a lot of your STBX’s crap already. Ask your attorney how to prepare them for the type of questioning that could take place so they will not fall victim to his manipulation.

    • FeelingIt, I agree with MotherChumper. There is no rational argument with these fuckwits. In my case, I tried to get the divorce moving when my ex was stalling by presenting the incredibly rational argument that he was paying far more in temporary support than he would have to pay under the permanent support agreement, thus it was totally in his best interest to move the case along. Did that work? Nope. For months he paid double what he would have to pay under the decree for absolutely no reason whatsoever. The personal property was divided, our children were adults, we were already living separately, etc. The only reason for the delay was that I wanted to be free of him. Accept the irrationality and do whatever you need to do to move forward with your life. He’s trying to manipulate you but don’t you let him. Stay mighty! {{{hugs}}}

    • Feelingit

      It’s tempting to control the situation and not involve the adult children. Let it play out. No judge will look on this favorably. Your children have to be subpoenaed. My children were offering to do whatever I needed. He has to force them to testify? That’s a huge red flag for a judge. So, have you children sit with you in court far away from the loser. He’s attempting to instill fear. Talk only to those you trust. One of the ways I intimidated the Limited was to bring a large briefcase filled with a few documents. He had no idea what was in it. Funny shit.

    • FeelingIt,

      I am having a difficult day today as well. I was thinking about breaking the NC. I did by looking at the social media and the OW is posting pictures of them together every couple of weeks. I noticed my STBX has changed his appearance. All the things I would compliment him on he changed or shaved off. It hurt so much that I almost called. Then I saw CL post today and the responses and it helped me. I’m at almost 4 months of NC via text or email. Every since I wrote to the OW and her parents about my STBX and their affair of 5 years. It seems to have backfired for me. I seem to be the only one hurting. How can you move on when you are still in love with the asshole? I have never experienced so much pain and betrayal. The only thing that is grounding me is the fact that I can go to the CL website and post my feelings and pray that someone from CN will pick me up and dust me off. I am losing my mind!!

      • Don’t lose your mind! Trust that they suck and that the asshole isn’t worth it. I know how hard it is. I am farther out and I still have relapses sometimes. It does get better over time, however. It’s two steps away, one step back, but as long as the steps away outnumber the steps back, you are headed in the right direction. Just keep plugging along and it will get better. One day we will even reach meh. I am not yet there, but I have faith that I will be based on the experiences of so many others here. Let other’s success be our inspiration. Also take comfort in the fact that you are not taking this journey alone.

        • No regrets, chumpinrecovery is right, one day you will reach meh and you won’t even know how you got there but you will be glad to be there.

          I was like you for at least 5 months after dday, just wanting to fix things and thinking I loved him but around last November, I realized somehow it would never be fixed and it was time to move on. I was still not at peace but I was beginning the process of letting go of the fantasy. At the beginning of 2017, I found chump lady and really started to see the light. I have experienced what you describe on this site of being picked up from the lows of the divorce process. I am in the valley with you now but moving on with this fellowship of chumps.

          I am to the point where I don’t like the asshole anymore and do not want him back under any circumstance. I don’t know how I got to that but I am glad I am there. There are little slips but give yourself a pass and keep going. If you are the only one hurting, it is because you are the only one with normal emotions and empathy.

          Some days I think we should all get together for a rally and a big group hug. Keep coming here and we will all get to meh together.

        • Chumpinrecovery and FeelingIt,

          Many thanks for your responses. I can’t help thinking that the two of them are provoking me on purpose. I personally think he is enjoying it because he LIKES all the postings. It’s like we were never married. How can someone you thought you knew that promised forever and told you they love you do this to you. It was all a lie and I got played really bad. I want to call him and scream at him, but he would only enjoy my begging. Once I wrote the letter to the OW and her parents that was his chance to tell me I crossed the line and it is over. What did he expect me to do sit there and accept it all. Meaning he could have her when he wanted and then me when he wanted. I wish there was some revenge I could do but it would only make me look crazy. I wish all of us Chumps could meet up and give each other a big hug. I feel like I know some of you and my heart breaks for what we all have or are dealing with. This is like falling in a deep dark hole and trying to find the light to get out.

          • Stop looking at his social media or hers. It’s all impression management. The first year of the discard after D-Day, I made sure that everything I posted was upbeat! Fun! Engaged in my own life! Happy!

            Meanwhile, I was barely hanging on.

            You think you still “love” him, but more likely you have a “trauma bond.” I had one too; that’s how I know. What you can do:
            1. Go totally NO CONTACT. That means staying away from any social media, talk with friends about them, etc. NO CONTACT.
            2. Put your energy into your own life. What do you want you life to be like in 5, 10, 20 years? Or even a year from now? This is the perfect time to make changes–to start an exercise program, look into going back to school, get a makeover, redo your apartment–whatever seems like the place to start. Put the energy into your life that you are putting into HIM and the marriage. See what happens when you keep your life energy for yourself instead of letting a parasite suck it out of you.
            3. Instead of pining after an abusive jackass, do a relationship autopsy. Instead of telling yourself you “love him,” do some thinking about who you were when you met him, how your relationship developed–with an eye to identifying the red flags you missed and why a relationship with someone who turned out to be an abuser was something you would choose. I went back and looked at ALL my relationships and saw some pretty disturbing patterns. But what you can see, you can change.

    • “It made me think maybe I should contact him and explain that I don’t want to put the children through that and can’t we just work this out?”

      This is why he is putting the ADULT kids through this–to get you to quit to “spare them.” That’s a terrible idea for these reasons:
      1. You should not protect the kids from the horror show that is the Cheater parent if the “kids” are out of high school, maybe not even out of middle school. This is teaching them to spackle, to ignore evidence of disorder, etc.
      2. The kids’ involvement may have an unexpected upside, in that they will know what he is willing to do to “win” whatever it is that he wants. You are not responsible for this clusterf*ck. Your STBX is.
      3. In any negotiation, when someone takes a vicious run at you, your reputation, your family, don’t give in. That’s a hardball negotiating tactic. Ignore the provocation. Let your attorney handle the negotiation and simply allow things to unfold. He may back down if he sees that you aren’t biting on the manipulation. Or he may go ahead and your kids will get a glimpse of who he is. If you break no contact and say “Why can’t we work this out?”, he knows he can get you to cave on other stuff. Be strong. Don’t cave.

      • Great advice, I am holding out! I actually had a good talk with each of my adult sons this evening in order to tell them that a date had been set for their depositions and they should be on the lookout for a subpoena. My oldest son even told me he thought this was payback for me having his dad’s mistress deposed. I told him I thought that was crazy he would put mistress on the same level as his children and son responded: “exactly!”

        You all are giving me courage as I go into mil’s deposition tomorrow.

    • feeling it

      my 31 y/o son is testifying for me in the divorce. (I mean, unless the DOCTOR figures out that a trial – which HE is insisting upon, is a bad idea.)

      There would never be a subpoena b/c if my son did not want to testify, I could not do it to him.

      Your husband is, absolutely trying to intimidate you. Mine texted me to open up dialogue and the next day, his lawyer filed another motion to oppose paying ANY spousal support

      (35 year marriage, I have not worked outside the home in years, his resume is pristine. ETC ETC)

      To be honest, I assumed when the DOCTOR saw our son’s name on the witness list or read his statement, that he’d settle. The words are so damning of the DOCTOR…

      But he’s doubling down. Please Expect the same.

      BTW, I’m not trying to make new “1st Wife” law. Just following the formula, but he is hellbent on going to war.

      I swear to you, he has been such a shit, – objectively – he left me when I was impaired from a neurological event, blocked my access to joint accounts which we had for decades OMG I could go on but you get the point. Plus I’ll lose sleep due to the rage I feel…

      He sees himself NOT as the perpetrator of the family evaporating, but as the victim of – me, I guess. And the “ungrateful kids” I’ve brainwashed against him. (Gotta wonder what schmoopie thinks of his zero contact with our kids. But then, why wonder?)

      Do NOT Text or reach out to your narc. IF he is in a rational mood to settle, HE can reach out and you can send it to the lawyer.

      he has not had a character transplant. Trust that he sucks. IT SUCKS to have to trust that,

      but it’s better to face hard truths, than an easy lie.

      • First Wife. My X was the victim too in his eyes. He wanted to pay me nothing. I was a SAHM – and a 32 year marriage. He’s replaced me and the kids with his new family. He also called the adult kids ungrateful.

        My state is no fault and spousal support is a formula. Man my X tried all sorts of manipulations to set me over the edge – my life is peaceful now. HANG IN THERE!

        Mother chumper went to trial and got a great settlement. I wish the best for you.

        Your X sucks.

  • Nauseous, the only thing I’ll say is let yourself throw up if you need to. You won’t get the poison out otherwise.

  • I believe knowledge is power.
    You know he’s disordered, but because you accept a ride on his “is it true love” rollercoaster, the view of reality fades at such altitudes.
    And yet, no amount of us telling you to get down is going to work, you’ll see for yourself when you’ve decided you’re queasy enough. Truth is we all got out when we were ready and no sooner.

    I would ask myself, though, what happened at that 2-year-mark that made you break NC.

  • “…does that mean he loves me?”

    That’s the wrong question. You should be asking “Is this how I want to be loved?” Whether or not he actually feels a nugget of love for you nestled down in all that manipulation, abuse, and rejection is irrelevant to your decision making. Maybe he loves you in his own way, maybe he doesn’t. It doesn’t matter. Either way, he’s already given you his best version of himself, shown you his capacity for love, and maxed out his willingness to actively love you (in the mature way, not in thr gotta-have-you-now-or-my-loins-will-shrivel kind of way). You’ve already had the best you’ll ever get from him, and you acknowledge that it isn’t enough for you. Step away from the fantasy that there’s a faithful, honest man hiding inside just waiting for you to figure out his magic code to let him out so he can be the partner that you desire. That is a delusion.

    Go back to no contact, get to work on your issues (like why a little attention from a jerk is enough to crumble your boundaries), and look for a partner who demonstrates real love and respect from the beginning.

    • “Step away from the fantasy that there’s a faithful, honest man hiding inside just waiting for you to figure out his magic code to let him out so he can be the partner that you desire. That is a delusion.”

      Step also away from the fantasy that this is a rom-com where he will suddenly morph into [insert enlightened Hollywood dreamboat of your choice here] in the last 10 minutes of the film, realise his awful mistake, catch you up in his arms, and you will live happily ever after.

      Reality? Unpaid bills, mindfuckery, vanishing money, constant tension in the pit of your stomach, exhaustion, and you get these mystery pelvic complaints (presumably off a toilet seat).

      There is a world of real love and friendship and interesting jobs and pets and travel and enjoyment – ALL WITH ZERO DRAMA – out there waiting for you. All you have to do is walk away from this bozo, keep walking, and don’t look back.

  • >>”A jerk who makes you puke. #winning”
    OMG … I (literally) laughed out loud. It’s hilarious because, well it’s so damned true. I’ve been there. 😉

    Nauseous:

    I think the most important point CL makes is that real love is supposed to make you feel SAFE. Even if you are safe from assault — your physical health is not safe (STD potential is excruciatingly high with serial cheaters); your emotions are not safe (roller coaster from hell); your self-esteem is not safe (I’m willing to bet you can’t go out to eat with him without wondering who he will find more appealing on that particular night …). This is not love.

    Think about it in reverse.
    — Would you carelessly risk the health (and potentially life) of someone you love?
    — Would you purposefully keep someone you love off balance emotionally?
    — Would you intentionally degrade and humiliate someone you love?
    — Would you want someone you love to be anxiety-ridden, depressed, and insecure because of your purposeful actions?

    My guess is that you wouldn’t do this to someone you DISLIKE, let alone someone you love. Why? Because these behaviors are cruel. And cruelty absolutely does not belong anywhere near the term “love.”

    Normal people protect what they love. If he loved his relationship with you, he would protect it. If he loved you, he wouldn’t want to see you hurt and he certainly wouldn’t repeatedly cause you to be hurt.

    Sometimes it takes a good, old-fashioned “clue-by-four” to wake us up. I was much like you, but I stayed for 23 years. Don’t make the mistake I did. Don’t fall for his words. Judge only his actions. When you do, you’ll run like hell and never look back.

    • Jessssmom, this is soooooo important: “Normal people protect what they love.” My ex didn’t wave virtually any red flags when dating–but, when the red flags started after marriage–this was one of the firsts. He would never stick up for me. He let his family pick at me, when I had difficulty with a co-worker he would automatically take their side (even if he had never met them and the issue was very clearcut in my favor). If some guy hit on me when we were out, he’d ignore it or just laugh. It took me years to make the connection that he did not love/value me. NORMAL PEOPLE PROTECT WHAT THEY LOVE! Like I said, this didn’t happen until after marriage, so it wouldn’t have saved me from marrying the turd, but if I had recognized it for what it was– it could have saved me from years of the worst abuse.

      • Same with my STBX, Jojobee … except he started it while dating (facepalm!).

        *When my mom recommended that her molestor husband watch our daughters, STBX thought it was a great idea (seriously). I flipped out on everyone involved. No, the bastard did NOT watch my kids.
        *STBX’s friend’s dad grabbed my ass at his own wife’s funeral (yes, you read that correctly) — nearly two decades later, STBX still thinks it’s hilarious.
        *When there were sounds late at night — he would roll over and shrug. I would have to go investigate.
        *When anyone hurt our kids, I was the one who stood up to the person.
        *When his family (or anyone) would attack me, no matter how unfairly, he either stayed mute or sided with the other person (because I was “causing trouble”).

        So much more. But, the really important piece was finally realizing how he absolutely refused to protect me, our kids, or our family. And, finally realizing how much I spackled each of these incidences. He was having an off day. He just didn’t understand what I was saying. He didn’t perceive the threat. Maybe I was overreacting. No No No — just no. Never again.

        • This is the SINGLE biggest off feeling with these disordered lunatics. Sometimes it what they DONT do thats the problem. My cognitive dissonance was working over time to get my head around him never having my back . During the discard it was a comment that he thought it was fine i should walk back to my car after midnight to a multistory carpark . Even the couple we were with were surprised and offered to ho with me. He had no shame or reaction that this was inappropriate. He wanted to give me the message he couldn’t give a fuck.

          • So true! The feeling of them not having your back is one of the most subtle, but profoundly true, red flags of all. Particularly with covert narcs.

            During my discard, we even got into an argument over text during which he tried to mindfuckingly convince me that the phase “having someone’s back” does not actually mean anything (!?!) Such a classicly screwy disordered type of thing to say it is almost funny. I actually printed out that text as a little “reality anchor” for myself in the early days when he was still trying to pull the gaslighty blame shift. No Contact is the way!

          • I remember getting lost in my car after leaving the house after an argument. I was gone hours, not even a txt from him, to busy on his phone with German ho.
            Done with girly men!

    • I needed this. All of this. Thank you to all the commenters in all their stages.

      I’m learning from all of you and having broken NC last week, my counter is reset and I am resolved.

      {{{big hugs to all}}}

  • The thing I’ve learned through all of this… when you are starving, being thrown crumbs can seem like a generous act. That is until you realize the crumbs are coming from the feast the cheater just gobbled down, knowing you are starving.
    Stop begging for crumbs, it only gives him the sense of superiority he’s looking for! You divvy out enough ego kibbles, and maybe, if you are lucky, he’ll throw you some scraps!

    My asshat actually said to me during reconciliation, “the only one who greets me the way I want to be greeted when I walk in the door is the dog!” That just goes to show you how self important they are. If we don’t jump up and down with excitement at their presence, begging for a little affection, we don’t deserve the scraps they could throw us.

    Stop begging for scraps!

    • This right here. A thousand times this.

      Nauseous, learn to be your own best friend. One day, you will look back and wonder what in the hell you were thinking to let this predator back in your life.

    • After a month of traveling (which was often), my cheater would enter the door and ask the kids “did you miss me?, never saying he missed them (because he didn’t!). He was never interested talking to them when he was gone, yet expected a fuss made for him when he returned.

      • OMG, yes. Cheater once disappeared for three weeks without a word, then blew in and raged that DD and I did not wriggle and wet ourselves with joy at his feet like abused puppies.

        Um, no. The slut is welcome to the endless joy.

  • Dealing with a disordered person is not easy as I have been learning- trying to untangle myself from my cheater wife. They are so good at preying upon emotions. Whether it is crying or seductiveness- she does it quite well. What I always try to tell myself (and my therapist tries to remind me) is that this person is not healthy and will NEVER be- at least not at the level of being in a real relationship. You can go down with the ship and feel more unending heartache and pain or you can free yourself and live as normal a life as possible. Not easy- I know.

  • Nauseous Chump:

    Is this guy – and your addiction to him – your way of not facing yourself?

    Addiction is always an escape. But from what?

    I think a lot of us recovering chumps have had to face that ugly secret: that our utter absorption in the affairs, skein, and tangled web that is Our Chump was/is a way of avoiding things about ourselves that we didn’t want to face.

    Like needs. Wants. Desires of our own. Unfulfilled dreams that we have stuffed down into a tiny little corner. Wounds and hurts and aches from years ago.

    And fears. Oh mama, the fears:

    He’s my last chance at love.
    I need a return on my investment.
    What if I end up alone?
    Everyone will pity me because I’m divorced.
    Washed up and middle aged.
    Frumpy and unwanted.
    How will I manage financially?
    I am scared of meeting someone new.
    I don’t know how to meet someone new.
    I don’t know what it feels like to be in a healthy relationship.

    I am guessing that your fears keep getting the better of you. Maybe that’s your meat and potatoes for the therapist next time.

    • Others of us come to realize the cheater treated us like we had been treated all our lives. Why did we find their treatment of us acceptable? Because we never knew any different. I present FOO issues for your consideration.

    • Lola Granola you are on a roll! Thanks for listing these fears! It’s so easy to get stuck in them even after you leave the cheater.

    • I love this, I love this, I love this. Thanks, Lola. Should be a Friday challenge. What are our fears? What is it about OURSELVES that we don’t want to face, as we cling to an abuser, a cheater, a lying weasel?

  • Nauseous,

    Tracy nailed it on this one, you need to start living for you, not for him. Don’t make your relationship with this narcissist the thing that defines your life going forward. It already has going back, but change that going forward.

    I’d strongly suggest that you read Rarity’s guest blog (archives, March 21, 2017 – It Gets Better, A Chump Story.” Rarity mentions three things needed to get over an X. Time, separation (no contact), and doing something you love. I suspect that you have the first, dropped the ball on the second recently (as you admit), but weren’t doing enough on the third. Find a hobby or activity you love, and do that, instead of reading more books on narcissists. Learn a language, take a cooking class, take up white water kayaking, travel to some exotic place, start a new relationship, start a new exercise program, whatever floats your boat. You need something that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning. And that will help you maintain N/C, and start living for yourself, and not someone else, especially not someone else who devalues you, uses you, and doesn’t have an iota of reciprocity in your relationship.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.
    aeronaut

    • Reminds me of something I heard yesterday in another context that I thought was profound: when you stop moving forward, you are not staying in the same place, you are sliding backwards so keep moving forward!

  • Good point Lola Granola!

    I also doubt that there was two full years of absolutely no contact.

    May I present an alternative scenario? Imagine what your life could be like today if you really had been no contact and had not restarted this madness: two years with absolutely no contact whatsoever could have resulted in a completely new life is so full of fun and enriching experiences that this douche bag would hold absolutely no appeal for you. You could be a whole year into a relationship with a fabulous partner who adores you and has integrity and values and loves everything about you. You could be close to attaining that additional Masters or professional degree that would rocket your career. You could be volunteering your time with a meaningful organization and feeling the satisfaction of helping others. You could’ve written a book that would either entertain or provide some type of useful information to the world. Think of all the possibilities! Those are the lost costs of this. But….. it’s not too late! Start complete NC today, this minute! Get busy building that life. Read all of the earlier columns about how to stay NC. Use the support on the general forum.

    You can do this! I had 25 years in with a cheater and I did. And in two and a half years, I’ve accomplished a lot in building my new life. X doesn’t have anything to offer me.

    Choose life, choose goodness. You can do it.

    • Yep! It’s been 3 years since my divorce was finalized. Since then, I have accomplished so much, and have a new man that would not have been possible had I stayed.

      Even if I die single, surrounded by cats, I’d still be better off than being married to a parasite. 🙂

      • This is awesome! Yes parasites they are indeed. I call them parasitic bottom feeders. They are totally useless, take and take from you, and give ZERO in return.

  • This guy is toxic. You need to stay away and continue no contact. Do you really think he deserves a harem? Don’t you think you deserve to be with someone for whom you are special and not just one of the crowd? As long as you are expending your energy on him that will never be possible. If you turn away from him and stay away, it may, and is even highly likely, to happen someday.

    One thing that might help you with this is recognizing when he runs out of new ways to hook you. When he starts reusing tactics remind yourself what happened after the last time he did the exact same thing and you ended up miserable shortly after. It will happen again because he doesn’t care about you, he just wants you to care about him. There is no reason to feel guilty about “abandoning” him when he has a whole harem of others to provide for him. He doesn’t need you and you need him like a hole in the head.

  • I am not exactly no contact because of the kids. It’s just easier to get along on the surface because it does facilitate coordinating kids and it allows some flexibility beyond the marital agreement which benefits us both. I do try to keep it all business. I slipped up yesterday, however. I took the kids to a pumpkin drop where ex was working. This is where you drop pumpkins from an airplane and try to hit a target (A good exercise in physics). Anyway, I got the kids all signed up and then he came over to say hello to the kids. We thought he was piloting that day but when the kids asked him about it he said “Oh no, I’m not flying today I am the target”. I piped up and said “You’re the target? Maybe I do want to take a turn after all”. Doh! So much for gray rock, but I just couldn’t resist.

  • Block him, Nauseous Chump. Block him from everything. Unfriend, him from everything. Download a web brower ap that won’t let you access certain sites and put all his social media on those sites. don’t hope for a great confrontation where he asks why and you tell him he’s so bad and he sees the light. Stay away. If he manages to get any message to you, do not respond.

    If people ask about him, only repeat this line: “I don’t have any contact with X and I don’t want to talk about him. Please don’t bring him up to me, or talk to me about him.” Repeat as needed and walk away from any conversation where the other person won’t drop it.

    If he manages to talk to you in person, repeat “I don’t want to have any contact with you. Please don’t talk to me.” and walk away.

    That’s it. No more anything with him. You don’t stop eating donuts by following donut instagram, walking into the shop to smell them, and being on a mailing list that offers free donut delivery. You just gotta cut it all out.

    • Hahaha… that’s hilarious Traffic_Spiral. So true!

      “You don’t stop eating donuts by following donut instagram, walking in the shop to smell them, and being on a mailing list that offers free donut delivery. You just got to cut it all out.”

  • I remember saying a million times in the relationship “ I don’t feel like I’m the right girl for you.”
    Should someone say that to the man they are about to marry? The man they are about to have a baby with? Then the man they celebrated 10….then 15 years of marriage with?
    He always said I was.
    I discovered 4 affairs while we were married and when I did he would say he wanted to be with me, it was a mistake, the love bomb dropped……it felt sooooooo good, because I was always starving for anything from him.
    Do you know why I always said “ I don’t think I’m the right girl for you?” Because I wasn’t….nobody is. I killed myself to be the right girl, it was never gonna work.
    I did that shit where everybody knew he was a jerk, but he was my jerk…..ugh! I wish I had listened to the voice inside that kept telling me being with him was the wrong thing to do.
    He stayed with me until he found the next thing, then left me cold……replaced in the blink of an eye.
    I hate him, but I’m so glad he left me. I never would of left him.
    I’m no contact now, but it’s easy…..he doesn’t want any contact with me either.
    Just go for good…..nothing to work with there.

  • Just last night I realized that I was focusing so much on my ex – researching narcissism, etc. – that I was delaying my healing/recovery process. It’s time to focus on ME.

    Nauseous, that is what you must do. Focus on YOU. I get it – that you are getting sucked back in by him. I have struggled with this for years. I left my ex three times – THREE TIMES – and married him twice. These disordered narcs are an addiction. But you have to realize that the two of you do not WORK. You tried. Why are you still trying? Why are you with a jerk? You are worth more.

    I have a friend who says that her current boyfriend is an asshole, but he’s her asshole. And to me, that was a huge red flag as is some of the behavior he’s shown toward her, PLUS he cheated on his wife (they have been divorced a long time). I want to scream at her to GET AWAY. I’ve told her I have my reservations about this guy, but she says she can trust him and that she’ll be careful.

    He hasn’t hurt her yet. But he will. And your jerkface has ALREADY hurt you. Why do you feel you deserve to get hurt? Time to turn the lens on YOU. Figure out what issues you’re dealing with. Parental alienation? I get it (my dad was very distant toward me). Need for attention? Again, I get it. I’m so starved for male affection that I allowed a psychopath into my life for 18 years.

    Learn from us. Do NOT give this man anymore of your time. He’s not different from all the other disordered jackwads out there. They all play by the same rules. And he is playing YOU.

    • Yes—I had to reframe my own “researching narcissism” (which is helpful to a point but we eventually need to understand how we became the Caretaker) into “how does one recover from being narcissistically abused?” Which then led me to “Caretaker recovery” planning, and, crucially, getting a life. How does one Get A Life? And Keep A Life by avoiding another narc? Which has all been leading me to putting my needs at the forefront of every life decision. It’s very healing indeed. The best gift I can give my loved ones is to take really good care of myself.

      • Amen Jo!

        Sooooo…good. Taking care of you and discovering your post cheater self is paramount to healing and health. ❤️

  • I’m saving this quote from this post today, “Real love makes you feel SAFE, not insane. Drama isn’t love. Drama is turbulence and barf bags”.
    After my long 3 year separation & finally divorced this September from my roller skating cheating husband, this gives me clarity in the crazy dating world. I put up with one narcissistic jerk for 39 years and all I got was cheated on and my children and grandchildren left for some roller rink rat whore. But after reading all these posts for the past 3 years and literally being saved by Tracy and all the wonderful people on here, I’m ready for dating again. But you know what? I like living alone. I like doing my own thing without someone questioning my every move while he does whatever he wants. And I’m not going to mess it up. I even stated that in my dating profile( I stated it very sweetly tho)
    I think finding someone who makes me feel safe is a great way to measure compatibility and great communication skills are a must. Never settle is what I’ve learned in the past 3 1/2 years since my 1st of several D days. He not only stabbed me on my heart, he chopped it up in little bits. And not to mention the pain inflicted on our children and grandchildren. They lost their dad and grandpa on that 1st D day and he could care less. He was living a total lie for several years leading up to our separation. I just want to say thanks to all of you. My “gold sealed” divorce papers should be arriving today in the mail. My dear son in law asked me if I was going to frame it. I might just do that. And a little footnote** I did get a decent settlement from roller**ck because he didn’t want certain things being brought out in court. I’m the winner!

  • “Real love is supposed to make you feel safe.”

    Does this undeniable fact sound right to you but nonetheless ring a little hollow?

    It sounds like you are well aware of the fact that this guy sucks. You even want to puke at your recognition of it. But it also sounds like a sizeable part of your emotions actually LIKE the particular way he sucks. If that isn’t true then ignore this comment. It just sounds like that’s what’s driving your interest in reestablishing contact when you already know full well he will abuse you.

    When we are “loved” incorrectly as children there can develop a feeling of safety, excitement, and even joy, around the drama and turmoil and even rejection that are marbled into what we define as love. Real love may even seem bland by comparison. We learned to love with the juice of anxiety and possibly even fear as part of the picture. Love is a rollercoaster then if it is to feel real. This may be why you feel attracted to what you otherwise know is bad for you. No amount of logic proving how bad he is will likely alter this internal dynamic. Instead you will need to focus on the dynamic itself in order to undo it.

    This is what CL was likely referring to in focusing on your “rewards” system and focusing on yourself the past two years rather than his disorders. I just think it deserves highlighting. Although it is good to fully realize what in fact he is, your work needs to go further…into why it is you feel comfortable on any level with what he offers. If any of this is accurate, you’ll eventually identify the source and full nature of it and that alone will deflate part of its power. When you can start to see “security” and “love” as intermingled with the physical sensations of adrenaline pumping from your pituitary gland, you start to see the absurdity of the dynamic. This then, is all this shithead is: a mixture of a sense of abuse with a sense of connection, or enough of either for your imagination to work with as needed.

    • Ding! We have a winner!
      I spent two session of my year in therapy on my marriage. The rest I spent on why I found his treatment of me acceptable. I learned enough to make sure that never happens again.

      • That’s where I’m at as well. Every now and the therapist and I will discuss some practical item about the separation (regarding the kids, mostly) that I may need advice on. Otherwise, we are focused solely on dismantling the mental structure erected when I was a child … the subconscious crap that made me the perfect doormat for STBX for so long. Never – ever -ever again.

      • That’s my story too. And mine included “why I think I have to have a man in my life to tow behind me as a dead weight.”

    • Amen, TKO! It’s all about family of origin stuff for me. My mom is a covert narc who, as they subtly do, never has my back and gaslights constantly, while my dad is a total nice guy doormat who occasionally explodes at her bullshit. Fucked up dynamic, they refuse to get out of it, and it’s generational. My own doormat tendencies are history, but it takes doing the tough FOO work to get there.

  • It takes a long to to rewire your brain so you can move on.
    My therapist said it’s like a record that gets stuck in a groove. You have to pick the needle up and move it again and again.
    She told me to imagine other things when that happened. Something humorous with me winning.
    I invented a bouncer for my brain. Now every time the Worm or his Pookie show up in my head, I have Hank the bouncer
    “escort them to the door” and toss them out.

    • That’s a good one. Sometimes I’ve used the image of putting unhelpful thoughts in a trunk and turning the lock in the key to keep them inside. The bouncer is funny, though.

    • I like the visual you described, Wormfree2017 — picking up the needle off the groove in our brain and moving it someplace else. Thank you for that description. 🙂

      • It really helped me so I thought I’d share. The mind movies don’t happen as much as they used to, but Hank is always there.
        Feel free to borrow him anytime. He hates cheaters, liars, and abusers and he’s always got your back!
        #hankthebouncerrocks

  • I have fallen off the NC wagon so many times but not because I want to reconcile – absolutely don’t want that. For me its that ridiculous merry-go-round of seeking answers as to why, why, why? Are you really that cold hearted and calculating. Was it all a lie and game to you? Giving that up can be just as hard as you desperately search for any shred of evidence that some humanity and heart exists there. Waste of time. As we all know they really do run on empty

    • There is no closure from them. Ever.

      You really have to make your own. And you do it by getting a life.

      And before you know it, they are a distant memory!

  • I can’t do no contact because we have young kids. She will text me questions at work that don’t need to be asked at all, she can get the info herself, or don’t need an immediate response. This hurts me because she never had time during the day to discuss her affair and my need for love and support, but now she needs to know if I’m picking the kids up at the same time or not five days from now. I reached out to a person I know who cheated twice and then divorced. I asked him to contact her. I thought she’d be honest with him. She told him she sent an apology to my mom and apologized to me. She didn’t. She said she loves me but can’t be in touch with that because I’m angry at her. Really why? Lol. She told him she wants better communication on stuff about the kids and that I’m a great dad. She tells me I’m self centered only do the minimum with the kids. The guy (a cheater himself remember) said she is like a child, just like he was a child, acting out of guilt and shame. He said I need to be the bigger man, when she attacks don’t respond. He said I need to set down my anger and show her my best self for the sake of my kids. He said that in time she would reach out. I don’t know if I want that. I don’t want her back but I don’t want to hurt the kids.

    • I’m sorry you are suffering from both the betrayal and the difficulty of parenting with someone you cannot trust. It sounds like you are hurting a great deal. I know that going NC is not possible when you share custody, but you can be boring and business like. So, if she texts an annoying but potentially reasonable question like “where are the kids’ social security cards?” you can respond with, “they were in the blue file when I moved out.” If she asks something she is too lazy to look up like, “what is our insurance agent’s name?” You can just not respond–it is not a custody question so you don’t need to answer it. If she asks whether you’ll pick the kids up at 4:30 in five days, respond either with “yes” or with “no, I’ll be there at 4:00.” Don’t give her even one word of editorializing.

      She’s looking for kibbles. She’s checking to see how much control she has over you and how much she can demand of you.
      Don’t feed her ego! If she cannot get any thrills from your boring, short texts, she’ll eventually stop sending them. And equally importantly, if you answer the questions about the kids, but not any others, you’ll leave a trail of evidence that shows you are a responsible parent who has left the drama behind. This can be really important if the custody agreement has to be changed somewhere down the line.

      Don’t use an intermediary to try and untangle her skein of fuckupedness. It won’t work. As you learned, she just reveled in the ability to lie to someone new–and to try to convince him that she was a great gal–all apologies and communication. Sending someone to talk to her just shows her how much she is still center stage–which is exactly where she wants to be. And a new person just means a bigger audience for her performance.

      Right now, you have two jobs. First, be nice to yourself–you’ve been treated terribly but it is not your fault and you don’t need to do anything to fix or explain or to understand your EX. Second, be the sane parent for the kids. You haven’t hurt the kids and your insistence on being treated with respect is not going to hurt them down the line either. It is the best thing you can do for them. Her cheating hurt the kids. Her lying hurt the kids. Her blaming you for not communicating the ways she wants or doing enough to make her life easy hurts the kids. I suspect she knows that you fear the effect of the divorce on the kids, and she’s doing all she can to manipulate you.

      If you need to talk to someone about this (and most of us do at some point or another) find a therapist to work with you on meeting your own goals and to help you be clear and direct with the kids about how much you love them, what your responsibilities are according to the custody agreement, how you’ll always meet those responsibilities, and how you can’t speak for their mother or her choices.

      Good luck!

    • I get a lot of kid texts all day long too that always require a response. A lot of coordinating who is picking up who when etc. That’s ok I guess because it is a lot easier to coordinate that way than through a parenting website/calendar or something. Often, however it has to do with actual parenting (I showed up to get the kids and they are all on screens what should we do about that? How is daughter doing emotionally after xyz? What do we do about sons poor grade on that last test?). These kinds of texts are more difficult because it requires actual collaboration to solve parenting problems. On the one hand it would be so much easier to just deal with these issues in my own way and not have to coordinate with him. On the other hand it is good that he still cares about parenting and if we are at least being consistent in how we handle it that is better for the kids. Parallel parenting where we are both going about it in completely different ways would be confusing for the kids/and or they might find ways to manipulate us both and that would be a real mess. I was encouraging him and the kids to maintain their relationships to each other so I guess I need to do my part now.

      I don’t have any cheater friends to send to go talk to him about what he is really thinking, however. Sometimes I get unsolicited glimpses from my daughter who has her own conflicting emotions, “technically he still loves you but Schmoopie means ‘the world’ to him”. This is enough for me to know that I am happier when I don’t know what he’s thinking. I have told my daughter to just not talk to me about it.

    • While you are at work block her number. Seriously this shit will take your focus off your job, ask me how I know. They dont respect your boundaries she is fucking with you and your mind with guilt trips. In time it will become clear but you are in the early stages of the shit storm. Stay strong.

    • She’s in pure image-management mode. She will not be honest; she will use your kids to help create her facade of “good mother who did the best she could with a bad marriage” … she will continue to lie and she will continue to imply that you are at least partly to blame (which, of course, is a lie).

      This is what these assholes do. It’s part of the playbook. You need to find away to accept that this is WHO she is, otherwise you’ll never be able to set appropriate boundaries with her. She’ll keep hurting you (and, by default, the kids).

      I get it. I’ve been there. These people suck … horribly.

  • The List helped me rewire my brain to drive out those nostalgic thoughts. I look at it a lot. It says things like, “Always walked ahead of me and got frustrated when I would let people go ahead of me through a door etc., and I got behind.” And “I had to go alone to have old dog put down, and when I said, ‘No dogs for awhile, my heart is broken,’ he got a new puppy to ingratiate himself with our child (and guess who ended up with responsibility for new puppy).” And “Never let me see his phone, emails or texts even when I asked to borrow his phone because mine was dead.” Write these things down as they occur to you, and The List will expand. Look at it whenever temptation strikes. This helps me because I can’t go totally NC, we have a child together plus we have to figure out how to divide up all our stuff.

    • Yes, this is really great advice. A Youtuber I watch a lot, Dana Morningstar Thrive After Abuse, say to write a “For When You Miss Him” list. She said to make it in bullet point form so you can look at it quickly to remind yourself of all the horrible things he did. I have never done this as I had already stopped missing him when I heard the advice. It’s so easy to forget the abuse and remember the good days. It’s imperative to always remember the abuse, because that’s who they truly are. They are the evil twin.

  • “There’s knowing something, and there’s doing something.” Nailed it, CL!

    I was two years into my marriage when his mask finally came off. Idiot me stayed for another 15 miserable years because I mistakenly thought being unhappy with a miserable son of a bitch was preferable to being alone.

  • So many unhealthy motivations making you look to reconnect with these narcissists: being lonely among the top ones. You just are still used to looking for their version of approval. I kept a chummy “friendship” with my ex for too long, there were positives about her I missed, in retrospect, it was a giant waste of time.

    Do not underestimate the desperate investment they have in keeping you on a string, it is part of how they measure their self worth is how many people’s admiration they can get at once. The hole in their soul is deep, and the vacuum it creates makes them incredibly hungry for it.

    • Yes, ChumpionoftheWorld. Their self worth is entirely external and current moment. They simply don’t carry with them an internal, permanent sense of self. Theirs comes from outside of them, from what they imagine they see reflected by others, and it only lasts as long as the current moment’s reflections last. You and your favourable impression (or what they can deludedly invent about your impression, including that your pain means they are important) are like oxygen to their gasping egos.

      • TKO,

        Well put. The fact that they can do all these complicated bits of calculated manipulation in their sleep is just chilling.

        Your point about them feeding on pain too, how true. I think realizing that was part of the step to no contact. We coparent, and when she would cross a line I would cry foul and I think that activated her in a creepy way. It also fed a narrative that I was “negative”. Fuck that.

        My children are older now, and I just have withdrawn to a point where I do not have to police her nonsense.

        They are always a step ahead of you when you play their game. While we sleep, they are sharpening their spears around the fire. If you disengage they lose their power.

  • Nauseous Chump, I did an exercise my therapist suggested to stay No Contact with my cheater, and now I’m gonna share it with you, because it works: Write yourself a letter, write now, with ALL the reasons it’s a good idea to stay away from your narc cheater. Include all the reasons Tracey gives you above. Leave nothing out. In my case, I kept the fuck-you letter I wrote to my cheater, because it included all his crimes and how they affected me.

    Now this is the key: EVERY time you feel weak, or start to think he’s not so bad, take this letter out and read it. If you’re anything like me, some days you will read it 10 x times. But it’s in your own words, and it helps talk you out of making a very stupid decision. He really IS that bad. You really can’t risk it. Sometimes NC helps you slip back into denial, so you need to keep this 2 x 4 sharpened. And please get into therapy and turn over your own issues and why this treatment is acceptable to you, as CL suggests. The spell will break, but only with real NC, and only if you do the deep work it takes to heal.

    Good luck to you! Come back here daily for reinforcement 🙂

  • You are getting something out of this or you would not still be doing it. This is not a put down. It is that you would not continue to put your hand on a hot stove unless there was a payout for you. This guy is your hot stove. I hate using psychological terms but I have to. You have an inner dialogue that keeps looping through your unconscious mind. It is obviously what you have known all of your life and even though you’re miserable you are also comfortable with it. I would imagine if they took a picture of your brain it would look exactly like someone addicted to cocaine, or heroin, or any of the other opiates. Addiction is so hard to break but you can do it. The fact that you spent two years obsessively looking for why he is the way he is says that your addiction is still there. Treat it as one. How do people stop using drugs, how do people stop using alcohol? You need to look at this as an addiction that you’re going to have to break.

  • It’s a shame so many of us chumps have such a hard time leaving a narc husband/wife we love so very much. Myself being married for 34 years, being in denial as he was cheating on me with the Whore for few years. The thought of losing him & my marriage was a a horror.

    But when I caught them at whore’s home.. I knew I had to face the truth. My health & my mental state was at risk. Divorcing & all the pain going thru it was something I had to do.

    Now 2 years out I’m still not at meh. There are days & nights that I wonder if I can go on without him but then I remember the lying, cheating & flaunting the whore in my face & I know it was the only thing I could have done! No one should be treated as badly as I was.

    I took my self respect back..& kicked him out!
    Love doesn’t hurt…
    Be strong & never feed the Beast!! 👹.
    God bless us all.

    • Kathleen, do you have a good support network? And are you rebuilding your life positively? You sound isolated.

      ((((HUGS))))

      • Lola G. Thanks for being concerned about me. I was going for therapy w 2 different therapists but stopped because I felt I didn’t want to keep talking about the same things. My friends help me, my adult son isn’t there for me emotionally. He’s angry about the divorce, knows his father is at fault but kind of sides with him. Ex slanders me trying to make me look like it was my fault.

        Karma hit my ex last month.. OWhore died in a car accident. He has to move from her house to an apt
        Also he has another girlfriend already. 70 year old narc seems to always land in a soft spot. I am financially strapped but otherwise I’m ok Just very lonely & seeing him happy cuts me more.

        I’ll be fine. Just takes time . HUGS to u too !!

  • I think it’s about as impossible to be “friends” with a cheater ex as it is to take “just one drink” when you’re an alcoholic. Just recently saw my ex interacting with our grandchild for the first time and the longing for our family to be whole again just about tore me up. I even hugged my ex on the way out the door. What is wrong with me? My mom said she could never speak to someone again who’d treated her like my ex treated me. So hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been through it. Over the course of 36 years there were a lot of good times along with the bad times. Afterwards, the farther away I drove from him the better I felt afterwards. My kids don’t understand it either, they want to know why we can’t all celebrate holidays together.

    • Agree. No amount of drinking potent poison or playing with nuclear waste is safe. Zero contact is the only way, with very, very distant gray rock as the best alternative for dealing with essential divorce or kid issues.

      I feel the impact for days after even the most gray rock and necessary info exchange. Looking forward to very deep and permanent NC post-divorce.

    • Even though I’m only 5 months out from Dday with cheater wife (14 year marriage) I get that sentimentality feeling that is very overwhelming. It’s like the part of my brain that is devastated and vividly remembers the horrible thing she did gets flooded with emotions of family- keeping the family together- LOVE etc… I have to physically remove myself away from her and talk to myself (best done while walking/hiking) to work those sentimental feelings back into a storage department in my brain.

      Holiday Season is going to be rough.

    • Emotional shitstorms happen. But they shouldn’t be happening all the time.

      Loneliness is very solveable, with other types of positive and respectful and SAFE relationships. And these can start with the guy at the coffee counter, or the lady who you see on the train each morning, or someone at the library. You can be looking for connection every day, and finding it in new friendships, even very superficial ones.

      And gradually real friends emerge – the ones who you can open up to, and who are closer to you. Everyone needs intimacy, but there is more to intimacy than sex. You can have friendships that are deeply fulfilling and supportive, where you give and take.

      Hint: you are more likely to find these relationships with people you are not sexually attracted to, and this helps to short-circuit any unwanted complications. So same sex if you’re straight, opposite sex if you’re gay, etc. It’s not a perfect system, but it can work.

      If you have a garden bed full of young seedlings, but spend all your time yearning after that dead tree in the meadow, how will you have time to nurture and care for the seedlings?

      Quit watering the dead tree.

  • I kept a journal. Then I found his journal. Plus he never fails to disappoint so I’m clear. When someone shows you who they are…

  • Dear Nauseous Chump, it’s not about him, but rather about you. Why do you keep going to someone who is destructive towards you? Why do you keep interacting with someone who doesn’t love you? So the common denominator is YOU. Waiting for someone to love you is not love, it’s co-dependency. And people like your ex are likely Narcissists or Borderlines or have some other character disturbance, and the only way it works is if they find a Co-dependent person. It’s the deadly match that works in such a dysfunctional dynamic, these disordered people match with Co-dependents like you. Otherwise, an emotionally healthy person would not engage, nor give the time of day to someone like that. So we can criticize your ex till the cows come home. The real issue is WHY YOU ARE CHOOSING THIS TYPE OF PERSON to interact with? I really hope you answer this question.

  • CL, I think you hit the nail on the head with – Who are you?
    Chumps need to consider that they MAY be attracted to jerks because then they don’t have to focus on their own lives!
    It’s codependent behavior, care-taking and catering to someone else. (Guilty as heck right here) People, we get to have our own lives! It’s OK! I’m playing with being self-centered, figuring out me, instead of others. It’s pretty hard, and feels strange to only do what I want, but since I’m 62 I think I’m entitled to that! It’s a work in progress, but I need to move on from focusing outwards. (Lots of FOO issues caused all this, but it’s my task to figure it out) I’m getting my own needs met.
    Also, LOL to Miss Kibbletits!!! So true, it’s all about who gives good kibbles. Don’t be a kibble dispensor!

  • Again, you always seem to have a direct line to what is happening to me at the exact moment. I have been trying to go NC or gray rock, as we have a child. But this past week I lost it, twice.

    First I contacted him to discuss his lack of care about our daughter’s homework. Which turned into a back and forth and ended up with him calling me moody and that he has never been able to understand my
    moods.

    Then after he returned my daughter yesterday, she mentioned the 2nd halloween party she went to. I knew nothing about this party and I figured out why I wasn’t told pretty quick. His new girlfriend was there. A girlfriend that I asked him about a couple of weeks ago and he said there was no girlfriend. And I said when there was to give me a heads up so we could talk proper introductions. So I called STBX to ask if she was there. He said no. I showed my daughter a picture and she said “Oh that’s Lisa! I played a game with her!” Called him back, said a bunch of angry things. Basically I was told I am a mean person who derserved to be left during cancer. I treated him horribly and that is why he was never there for me.

    Called the girlfriend and told her that I was not happy and very taken off guard about the weekend. She said she was not introduced as the girldfriend–that is supposed to make it ok. She also told me she had reservations about getting involved with a married man, but feels it is very complicated. And she also feels really bad about my situation (him leaving durning cancer treatment). But she reminded me there are 2 sides to every situation (never mind that she only knows one side) and that I also did horrible things to him. I asked what those were and she said it wasn’t her place to get involved. But she could get involved with meeting my daughter?

    Anyway, I’m a wreck. I certifiable wreck. The past year has been absolute hell for me: getting diagnosed with cancer, d-day and my husband walking out. And yet they expect me to act calmly towards all of their irrational behavior. It’s not his cheating or leaving that is a problem, it’s my behavior and I deserve everything I am getting. I feel like absolute shit. It’s taking every ounce of my power to go to work today and not cry. And I still have to make it through taking my daughter to a dentist appointment and swim class. Some days I cannot figure out how I will survice this…

    • Ugh, CC.

      The kid part sucks. So evil to suck little ones into their disorder.

      Nothing you can do will fix them. Just keep reminding yourself that nobody benefits when you wade into their endless muck. Convos with the OW? Nope.

      It’s not you. You are strong, a survivor, and you will keep going.

    • Omg, that is just awful. Not only your husband is extremely abusive towards you, but when you defend yourself, you are further abused. This is a common behavior from very disordered people. They don’t let you defend yourself. My parents, especially my mother, were like your husband. Anytime I’d call my mother on her abuse, she’s ramp up the abuse and torture and label me as moody, sensitive, how it’s all my fault. I’m even wondering if you got cancer because of the shitty way your husband treated you. And now his gf is complicit in furthering the abuse. Please get help of a therapist to stay sane. It’s an extremely toxic situation you’re in and you have cancer. It’s so damaging, more than you realize. My heart goes out to you.

      • Kellia, I often wonder myself if the constant abuse contributed to my cancer. My whole marriage after my daughter was born was him complaining that the house wasn’t clean enough (from his seat on the couch) and me telling him I needed help, I couldn’t do it alone. Then he would tell me everything wrong with me. Or he would go to happy hours and not tell me where he was, nor would he respond to me texts which would lead me to look him up in the find my phone app. This of course meant I was being controlling. I could never win.
        I have been in therapy and am fine most weeks, but every so often I’ve feel very low.

        • My ex is like this. He will never validate or acknowledge your pain only abuse you for defending yourself. He wants you in submission. Focus on you and yours. These freaks are not on the same level. Love you and your daughter. We are here for you and I know how this works, you will gain clarity and strength and the sun will come out again.

        • CancerChump- This guy is a colossal asshole. Telling you everything that was wrong with you. Why the heck did he propose to you and marry you then, only to turn around and disapprove of you all the time. I wondered the same of my mother? Why did you have me if all you do is spend your 100% of your time telling me what is wrong with me. Their minds are really sick and twisted.

          This guy is seriously mentally deranged. I really hope you look out for yourself and your daughter. And please stop trying to reason with him and his affair partner, they do not want to hear you and will never hear you. What they will do is continue to make you wrong for everything and invalidate you further. They are your enemy. So please don’t even try to get them to see your point, they will fight you tooth and nail, just so they don’t see your point of view. The best remedy is self-love against assholes like this. Much love to you dear.

    • There is no more point in talking to the OWs than there is to talking to cheating spouses/exes. They are going to rationalize their behavior because they are selfish. They want to do what they want to do, morals be damned and they don’t want anybody thinking ill of them for it. Trust that they suck.

      And as for those mythical “horrible things” you know that’s a lie. If nobody can give you a direct answer as to what you did that was supposed to be so horrible, then you know they are just making stuff up to excuse their own poor behavior.

      Cheating spouses and their APs are horrible people period, and nothing justifies their selfish entitled behavior. Trying to make to make it all out as normal and ok for the kids is even worse. It’s lying to your kids and teaching them poor values at the same time.

      Hang in there Cancer Chump. Hopefully someday your daughter will be old enough to understand that they suck. In the meantime take comfort in the fact that chump nation knows it and will always have your back.

    • Didn’t introduce her as the girlfriend. Cue the mental gymnastics these assholes start teaching your daughter by being clingy and cuddly while not defining themselves to her, and the potential confusion it will create when your kid sees that over and over again. Yep. Don’t tell the truth. Don’t make it easy for her to understand what boundaries are normal for friends, or help her know that men and women who touch like that are involved and it’s not normal to be that cozy if you’re not. Lie by absentia. Lie to her face. Lie. That went over soooooo well for everyone this last time when you imploded a family with half concessions or blatant untruths. People suck. They just suck. What a mindfuck for a kid.

    • There is a special place in hell for the types of cheaters that reveal themselves when a spouse has cancer, is pregnant or grieving the loss of a close family member. It comes down to them not being reciprocal in a relationship. In fact they are such takers, they feel justified in getting kibbles elsewhere since the chump was soooo preoccupied and not focusing on the cheaters needs.

      Please take care of yourself cancer chump so you can care for that precious child of yours. You bred with a fuckwit. You will see this in time. He sucks. His ho sucks too. I am very sorry.

    • I’m so sorry, CC. You are the normal one in this situation. You have every right to the feelings you have towards being lied to again by your ex. I’ve had to deal with some of that too…people not telling me things they know will upset me, but doing them anyway. It makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you to be upset. But the person who is wrong is the one who walked away from you at the most vulnerable time of your life, the one who now expects you to happily accept his girlfriend on top of everything else you’re dealing with. Hell yes, you’re “moody.” You’re doing good not be a lot more than that with all you’re dealing with! Take care of myself. I hope you will get past your treatments and find a place of health and happiness. Hang in there! We are all pulling for you.

    • CancerChump–I’m sorry. It is very, very difficult to stay sane through all the evil and manipulation and cruelty they throw at you.

      You need to start with YOU–what can you control? Though not religious nor associated with AA or NA, I strongly adhere to the Serenity Prayer, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

      Can you control what he does with the kids when he has them (short of safety issues that might cause a court to step in)? No. Can you control how his GF perceives right and wrong? No. Can you control what their diseased, pathological brains dream up to say to you in your vulnerability? No.

      Can you control whether you contact your X to express dismay at his crappy parenting? Yes. Can you explain to your children what’s up and why you are upset they met the sluttress? Yes. Can you model dignity to your children so that you can acknowledge someone else’s immorality without being drawn into the drama? Yes. Can you manage your emotions so that you eventually get to a place where you are merely disgusted with your X’s behavior rather than triggered? This one is harder, but over time, yes.

      Sadly, Cluster Bs and people lacking in empathy feed off your (our) pain. The more you show them, the more likely they behave like sharks with chum in the water. Starve them out. Maintain as little contact as possible, and always through text or email or Our Family Wizard whenever possible. Keep all missives to “just the facts, ma’am.” Developing a hearty contempt for cheater and sluttress, with steps toward as much indifference as you can muster will save your own psyche.

      Hugs, this is a very painful process. As much as possible, make your goal disengagement.

    • I’m really late tonight on this, but if you see this CC, please know I’m sending a huge, virtual hug.

      Someone above said “you’re the normal one in this situation” … an excellent point, and absolutely true. You love your child, you are concerned about how she’s being treated — and what (or whom) is allowed around her. THAT is a good parent.

      I shouldn’t be astonished at the utter cruelty these jerks are capable of, but still, sometimes I am. You and your daughter deserve so much better. So, step as far away from the mindfuck as you can. Try to stay focused on fighting for you and your daughter — and KNOW that you are absolutely right. I promise, you are.

  • Finding out your worth is a good place to start.

    Make a list of all that you value and want in life. Love, respect, honesty, etc. Make a pro and con list of the douche (I abhor that word, but it fit mine to a T) My guess is that the con list of everything he has made you feel and done to you will be way longer that the pro. Use that as your compass and walk away.

    I know it’s hard but shut that door and don’t look back.

    The thought of having sex with my ex makes me recoil in horror, of course this was a man that told me “it’s legal to rape your wife” and I told him ” it’s actually illegal but it IS legal to shoot and kill your assailant”.

    Don’t play into his hand otherwise he will always have you as his backup when he’s bored or between tramps.

    Good luck!!

  • As a politics junkie, this post had me at: “Perhaps it’s time to form a congressional subcommittee.”

    By all means do the research into narcissism. But unless that research is combined with a focus on your own life–your life that doesn’t have a jackass in it–you end up just as “trauma bonded” as you were in the first place. No contact has to be “no contact in your mind.” That takes a long time but it comes from having made choices about who you are, who you want to be in 1 or 5 or 20 years, and how you are going to live to get to the life you want. That comes from not spending time thinking about him. From losing his phone number (just delete it! Burn any paper with that number on it!). From block him on social media. From finding things to do when you start to ruminate about him.

    If you don’t do the “gain a life” part, you either go back, stay stuck, or choose another narcissist to suck the life out of you.

  • Dear Nauseous Chump–

    The new thing about No Contact is that you can hit the reset button.

    Yes, you fucked up by letting yourself get caught up in his sphere, but you can Stop. That. Now.

    As Tracy and others from Chump Nation have said, you’re making him and his needs central to YOU. How does he repay your kindness? By abusing you!

    It doesn’t sound as if you’re in therapy, and if you are, I’d find a new therapist–one more experienced with relationship abuse and trauma bonding. Learn why, at some level, it’s acceptable for YOU to be treated badly when you–and every other human being–deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

    Then start setting boundaries for yourself. To set boundaries, you need to know your self-worth. Don’t get sucked in by Sad Sausage stories. He’s not some kind of Timid Forest Creature. He’s a predator who loves to make you feel loved until he thinks he can abuse you–which he has, time and again.

    Look, most people take several tries to leave their abusers. They remember those “good times” and think that perhaps that’s what the true personality is like. No. The abuser is the true personality. The good times are when they’re masking their true selves in order to sucker you in.

    So take the time out, get the therapy, and focus on YOU. Once you really get your own self-worth down, you’ll be ready to date, and it won’t be with Fucktard Cheater Abuser.

  • I always get het up about No Contact stories, because I have the crazed zeal of the recent convert.

    I thought every relationship had to end in a long-drawn-out dramafest of mutual recriminations, or a cycle of going back in faux-reconciliation.

    After all, He Was The One. (All of them.) The Last Chance. The sunk costs. The whole humiliating hamster wheel. The exhilarating fresh starts. The deadly feeling about a week later.

    But then I discovered No Contact! *shopping channel music*

    No, hang on – not shopping channel – more like huge community church and something like that James Brown scene from The Blues Brothers. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT.

    No Contact is hard, but it is the shortest path to peace and happiness. We are talking seriously life-changing here. My life is so, so happy – happier than it’s ever been. When I think of how trapped and exhausted I was, it’s scary.

    But you have to do the work, and when you are trapped and exhausted, it’s so hard. My worst experience of No Contact was like detoxing from drugs, and that’s exactly what it was. Flushing out that dopamine high was excruciating.

    BUT: it was over comparatively quickly. You really just have to hang on.

  • I think we trick ourselves into believing that if we stop contact for some magical time period, then we’ll be stronger and ready to have contact with them again. Some of us even test ourselves to see if we can handle interacting with them. Or we tell ourselves that they “were going through a rough time” when they did all these awful things to us, so if it’s been a certain number of months, or the stressful thing has ended (was unemployed and now have a job, etc.), so the ex will be more reasonable; hell — maybe they even still love you!! It’s a mindfuck and you can’t win this game. There’s no going back. Take the traditional AA approach — you can never, ever have any alcohol again because you are an alcoholic. You can never, ever have any interaction with your ex (your addictive substance) again because you’re a chump. If you’re feeling weak, flip through this slideshow at https://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/shocking-lies-women-tell-themselves-about-staying-in-a-toxic-relationship.html/2/.

  • Noregrets, I’m sorry you are having such a hard time. Like someone said, you will get where you take two steps forward and one step back. In the beginning I kept a journal of how I felt that day. If it was a good day or a bad day. And I reminded myself in that journal why I kicked his sorry ass out. I filled up a whole composition book. I haven’t done that in a few weeks. And I’ve noticed that some days I don’t think about him for hours and then he sneaks in. Many of us of here if not all suffered trauma. Some worse than others. I remind myself that I’m no longer sitting home, with his kids, not mine, while he’s out with someone else. I no longer wonder who he’s with when he isn’t answering his phone, course I’m not calling him. I no longer get yelled at and rejected and lied to. I no longer care that he’s on twenty dating sites or watching porn constantly. When I see a phone call come in thats unknown or restricted my heard doesn’t start racing thinking its another one of his women wanting to know who I am because he has lied to them to. When I was him with I was lonely. I’m no longer lonely, even when I’m alone. As far as revenge, yeah, I think about that too sometimes. But I feel like he is such a miserable person, that my kicking him out was my revenge. He no longer has me. I was much more than he ever deserved. I am beautiful, sexy and smart. I work hard, I have a job I am so proud of and that I enjoy so much. I was good to his kids and they loved me. I ran errands for him, I supported him and his kids for two years while he job hopped. He will never find another woman that was as good to him as I was. That’s revenge. Please take care of yourself and know that it will get better. He cut you deep, but like all cuts it will heal.

    • Kim,

      Your words and advice once again make me see the light. I just have had time to think and I’m so angry at myself because the red flags were there for five years. I ignored them. I allowed him to play me like a puppet. Now he is with the OW and I have to accept that. He has showed me with the postings he is done. He is angry because I exposed him to her and her parents. What the HELL did he expect me to do just take it, while he was trying to figure out if he wanted to stay married or stay with the OW. Well I blew it up because I had had it with the mindfuckery, control, lies, and manipulation. Let the OW endure the trickle truth, wondering if he will leave her for someone else, and the narcissitic behaviors and moods. The cuts I have are very deep. I unfortunately keep ripping off the bandaid, so I don’t heal. My therapist keeps telling me I need to heal and to stop ripping the bandaid off. I can’t help wishing I’ll will for the two off them. The pictures are clearly meant to provoke me and they do. What’s funny is he would have had a good life with me and not had to worry about anything financially. Luckily it is all in trust and he can’t touch it. As far as the other woman she can’t support herself. I guess he is with the love of his life. But then again I thought that was me. Again another lie. Thanks Kim for picking me up and grounding me again. This truly sucks!!!!

      • Today marks the day 27 years ago that I was able to say the last words before my father died the following morning. I wish he was here for me. He was my foundation that gave me confidence. I feel so lost and betrayed. I have no trust or belief anymore. How can you when your entire marriage was a lie. Can anyone tell me what are some of the thoughts that went through their heads during this time about their cheating spouses. Were the mind movies going on thinking about the OW? Please tell me some of the thoughts so I know I am not going crazy and can prepare myself that these are natural thoughts to be experiencing.

        • Correction they are NOT NATURAL!!! I just don’t know what to expect or what is happening. I feel like a bomb keeps going off. It just is way to much emotion and mental space.

  • “He cut you deep, but like all cuts it will heal.”

    With the following ingredients:

    1) time
    2) emotional Betadine (regular doses of Chump Lady to keep the infection out)
    3) removal of the original massive multi-pronged splinter, bit by bit if necessary (therapy for FOO issues)

    These aren’t paper cuts, after all. But you CAN and WILL recover, as long as you keep the wound clean and covered with the right sort of dressing – the kind that heals, rather than promotes hideous infections under the cover.

  • First time posting here besides the above letter to Tracy. Thank you SO MUCH Tracy for replying, I admit I feel slightly paranoid but oh well. I know you are right about those two years. I was not in a good place, and really was focusing too much on him, what happened, how it happened, and why it happened, that I wasn’t fully living. Although to my credit, I did focus a lot on myself too. I think I was partially in a state of shock, not only from the crazy demise of the relationship, but also from realizing FOO issues, things about my parents, and how the relationship was “normal” and “comfortable” for me in the first place… why the red flags didn’t stop me from going on the second date. To this day, what gets me is the intentional infliction of injury. I guess it blows my mind people are like that, something I didn’t know before (and wish I never did). Anyway, THANK YOU to each and everyone here who has replied, I know I will be going back re-reading your replies over and over. So much wisdom here… it truly does help to know you guys can relate to the experience and also take the time to share. It means a lot. I can see how I let my NC guard down. It was me that opened the door, however slight, and I need to own that. I think I was feeling vulnerable and, to Lola Granola’s point, missing out on having a relationship and thinking the worst, like I won’t be able to find that connection with someone ever again (but also knowing the truth = headscrew). Sadly, maybe somehow the times I went back made me realize him for who he really is and also how toxic the relationship really is…as I’m sure so many of you guys know, it wasn’t always like that in the beginning, which is why you go back, but then when you go back you get body slammed, and around and around it goes… it’s seriously hard. NO CONTACT is really all that is left to say (and to Tracy’s point… DO!)

    • Aw honey, don’t be too hard on yourself. Really.

      All of us have fallen off the wagon from time to time.

      But it’s what happens when you get back on the wagon that counts.

  • Thank you, Lola Granola. I know you are right. I guess I just wish I had stayed NC to begin with. But then again, maybe I needed to go back, so I could be sure. It’s like there was still some hope left in there, and it needed to die…

    On the road again…

  • Nauseous Chump like Lola G says don’t be hard on yourself. We can all totally identify with what you’re saying. My acceptance of the abuse and mental cruelty has roots in a painful childhood too. Also really understand your feelings of shock and constant need to research disordered personality types to try desperately to make some sense of it all. For me its also the vile feelings of being violated. I was sexually assaulted many years ago by a police officer (a total stranger) yet my husband’s betrayal feels much worse (like CL mine was never faithful for one day with whole host of others & not one AP). At least the criminal didn’t pretend to love and care for me.

    Because we love them from the heart, and wouldn’t dream of treating someone that way, its hard to come to terms with what they are. Like you, I’m not anywhere near the healing many have reached on CN but we have to take it one day at a time, and listen to their wisdom and incredible advice. Use the support and understanding you’ll find here from these amazing people, and learn to love yourself. That’s what I’m trying to do.

    Sending much love and hugs to you xx 🌷

    • Thank you Natalia.B. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s betrayal and I totallly know what you mean about it being “worse” than outright assault. It’s almost like well, at least when the abuse is overt and obvious, you clearly see that it’s abuse. Not to say that the covert abuse isn’t obvious now, but it took awhile to get here, and then you look back and realize, hey this is totally abuse and it’s worse because you were pretending/ continue to pretend it wasn’t and isn’t. It’s so messed up. I’m also sorry to hear you were violated by a police officer…no matter the form of abuse, you don’t deserve that. I’m also working on loving myself and bringing the attention back to me. After reading all these responses, one thing that stood out for me was how getting caught up in the drama of him is also an excuse for me to 1) not move forward, 2) not take the attention off myself, and 3) distract me. It is also those feelings of love (misplaced) and hope it can be fixed or turn out a different way. I hope for you that each day is getting a bit easier. You say husband and not ex husband. Have you left him yet? I hope so, as I’m sure you know, you deserve a 1000 times better.

  • Natalia B,

    I am very sorry that you were assaulted!

    It is hard to come to terms with ‘what they are.’ This is one reason I am struggling to overcome my last break-up–when virtually everyone on the planet thinks that your ex-boyfriend is a great low-key guy who ‘would never do that,’ but would. Cannot help but doubt myself (‘Did I really see/hear that?’) or blame myself (I should not have cried on ex-boyfriend’s shoulder about my crises which were not caused by him; maybe if I hadn’t, he’d still be here.). Often think that he left because I wasn’t ‘good enough’ although part of me thinks that I AM good enough. Noticed myself thinking, ‘He left me for her because she is childless, younger, earns more money than I do, conveniently works with me at my company, and we have a good time together. I feel, ‘I can’t compete.’ Some people say that you should be happy that your ex, assumiing that he/she ended your relationship before becoming sexually involved with new partner, has found someone that is a better match. I’m not that altruistic. I’m still depressed and mad.

    But then I think, ‘He lied, invalidated me, disrespected me, gaslit, projected, acted in passive-aggressive and ambivalent ways, and just plain didn’t love me enough for us to have a committed long-term relationship. Beating myself up for tolerating poor treatment and taking him back more than once.

    Trying to feel OK with me and the situation so that I can function decently in my new job! I’m already a few months out of a 2.5 year relationship (one month NC). Shouldn’t I be in better shape than this? Am worried about the effect of the depression and the constant physical shakiness and sleep deprivation caused by the break up on my job.

    • Thank you RockStarWife.

      You’re only a few months out of it and only one month NC. Its all still very raw. As someone said in an earlier post you loved deeply so the hurt cuts deep too.

      You should be very proud of yourself for each day. One month NC is great and you have a new job too so you’re doing everything right. We’ll get there. Just like many on CN who are such an inspiration.

      Be kind to yourself. Getting away from these callous users isn’t easy both physically and especially emotionally. Years of head games and cruel manipulation is enough to mess anyone up. But you did it! Be patient and gentle with yourself and oh so proud.

      Much love x

    • Thank you Nauseous C. I’m so pleased you’re finding help and support on here. I know its been a huge help to me. You’re so right the sexual assault couldn’t be dressed up as anything other than despicable act it was. The police officer was on duty at the time, and had accompanied a stabbing victim to the hospital I worked at back then. I was a student nurse and lived on site. He abused his position (and uniform) to bypass strict door security we had and followed me to my apartment. He was a total stranger to me. After the assault he said don’t try reporting this it’ll be your word against mine and who’ll believe you. I’ve often thought since about the rape victims he’s since been expected to help and support as an officer of the law.

      Yes although I threw my husband out as soon as I discovered what he’d been doing and we’ve never lived together since, separating emotionally has been another matter altogether. Its been fully over for a few months now but I broke NC last week looking for answers, explanations etc. Total waste of time.

      I haven’t quite summoned up emotional strength to file for divorce yet. Not because I want him back. Never. Ever. Its just going over it all to provide grounds feels quite traumatic. I will do it though. Just trying to heal a little first.

      • Oh you poor thing, Natalia.B. First, why are there people like this in the world, I seriously wonder. I can’t say I know what that is like to live through, but I would imagine that it’s devastating. It sounds like you have multiple traumas you are working through right now. You are in my thoughts, even though I don’t know you, I can relate to your pain and I am wishing you strength and rooting for you to heal and be 1000 times better than you were before this freak show entered your life. I think the, “one day at a time” rings true… it might take years, but at least you CAN recover. At least there is hope for happiness and light at the end of the tunnel.

        The emotional separation is the hard part, at least for me. It’s evicting the ex from my mind that has proved to be the challenge, not the physical distance. Actually, the fact I haven’t been able to evict him emotionally is what keeps me stuck and going back the times I have. That’s the part I need to work on. It’s kind of crazy to me when I step back and look at just how much of an impact he had on my life. In fact, I think it’s safe to say it’s pretty impressive (not in a good way, but just more like, wow, I can’t actually believe that it messed with me this royally).

        Of course you are looking for answers, what normal person wouldn’t? You have been through trauma and you need time to re-set so give yourself all the time in the world. Take good care of you everyday. I’m glad to hear you are not still “with” him in the sense of not wanting to leave the relationship (even so it would be okay), but he just sounds like a giant loser and you deserve WAY, WAY better.

        • Thank you so much. Your kind words of support and encouragement mean so much. Really are heartwarming ❤ .

          Wow only someone who has been through a relationship like we have truly knows. You put it so well and absolutely on point when you say that evicting your ex from your mind has been your greatest challenge. That’s completely my story too. I’m guessing that like me you never would have thought this would happen to you. That someone so damaging would be allowed head space and such a huge investment of emotion. Just wish I could stop doing a post mortem on whole sorry nightmare.

          Please care of yourself too and take each day as another step closer to mental peace and freedom. I always remember Chump Lady’s advice that our cheaters are stuck living with their crappy life skills but one day soon they’ll just be someone we once knew. Nothing more.

  • ‘His issues, his narcissism, what genus of what species of jerk he is.’
    CL nails it.
    You need to run away from this person like your hair is on fire. Because it kinda is.

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