Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Why Is No Contact So Hard?

gingerA lot of chumps falter when it comes to no contact (NC). It’s the most maddening thing — your brain will be very clear on the “dump the cheater” message, but the heart is emotionally sloppy and dimwitted. Much like my Australian Shepherd who flings herself daily at the mailman in a love/hate frenzy. Every noon she flails against the glass door, barking crucial missives that the mailman tragically ignores. How dare you step on my porch! Open this door and pet me! Can’t you see how PRETTY I am? Watch me do my pretty dance! I have a frisbee! Do you like frisbees? I LOVE frisbees! Wait! Do not walk away from me! (I am, however, pleased that you have stepped off my porch.) COME BACK!!! GO AWAY!!!

And then as the mailman retreats, she pees on the carpet, heartbroken. Unlike the schnauzer who is just full of contempt for mail carriers. And cats. And the dog next door. If someone has a treat for him, however, he’ll shelf his withering disdain for a moment. Schnauzers are mercenaries. The shepherd is a chump. She never learns that mail carriers are just there to deliver mail and really don’t give a flip about her pathos.

“Come back!”, “go away”, and also “explain yourself!” comprise the mental tape loop of limbo — that state where you’re not really in, and not really out, because you’re still engaging with the idiot. Like my shepherd, you can’t decide if this person is your enemy or your love object. Why is it so hard to go no contact? Why the flailing? Why the drama? Chump Lady has some thoughts on this:

1. This shit is addictive. Very few people just walk away and quit someone cold turkey. Even someone they know is very, very bad for them. Humans are wired to bond with each other, and un-bonding is extremely painful. Science says so — romantic love lights up the same centers of the brain as addiction. And loss of romantic love makes us temporarily deranged. They say there is an evolutionary basis to this — loss of a mate has bad consequences for reproduction of the species.

Now, combine your hard wiring to bond, with your hard-wiring to feel great distress at losing a mate, and throw in the addictive nature of unpredictable rewards on your brain. (Lots of science on that too.) What do you get? A real biological disincentive to go no contact. Kicking a cheater to the curb can feel like kicking a drug. You’ll have to sweat it out and suffer withdrawal. You’ll feel distress that is at odds with your rational brain, much like an addict who is trying to quit a bad substance. “Shit. I know cigarettes are bad for me… I just want one last smoke! Arrgh!”

2. Cheaters hoover. Just as you may have to fight off strong urges to stay no contact, the cheater often knows how to play your weakened state for ego kibbles. As mentioned above, the irregular rewards of an inconsistent love can keep you hooked. You will give those kibbles greater importance (she called! he texted to wish me happy birthday!) because they are so infrequent and unpredictable. It’s classic that just as you’re 30 days clean on the no contact, the cheater will come fishing. They’ll flatter, or cajole, act like nothing ever happened. Or they’ll do the fake remorse-ishness.Beware. You’re of use to them. They want something. (Kibbles probably, or for you to screw yourself over in the divorce). Cheaters suffer withdrawal too — withdrawal of kibbles. NOT YOU. Pay attention to the distinction. You were a good source, then you went away! Maybe they can mine that vein again…

Chumps confuse kibbles sourcing for love all the time. You don’t have to scratch very deep to realize that it’s still all about them.

3. There’s something in you that needs to keep hope alive. This goes beyond not trusting that they suck. You may have abandonment issues. Something about this drama may feel familiar to some old family or relationship drama from your past that you feel is unresolved. Okay! I’ll just try harder THIS time with THIS person and I’ll get a different outcome! (i.e., they won’t leave me.) You’re consciously, or unconsciously reliving that hurt. Fuckedup and unrequited feels normal for you at some level. You’re used to trying really, really hard for very little reward.

I’ll save you the shrinkage costs on your FOO issues. You’re not that kid anymore. You don’t have to put up with shit. You have choices. You are not powerless. You can be choosey about the people you have in your life. Learn to draw boundaries. Learn to holler NO! Learn to prioritize people who treat you right, give them your time and energy — yeah, even if it feels weird and unnatural at first. Step away from the jerk with sparkles.

4. Flubbing NC is a re-enforcing cycle. The more you stay in contact, the harder it is to go no contact. On the flip side — the longer you go no contact, the easier it gets, bit by bit, day by day. Have faith that it’s going to get easier. I promise you, you are going to get to MEH (on a Tuesday, of course). You just need to stay consistent.

So that’s four reasons why it’s so hard. Now then, why is NC so important?

Because the only way you can heal from the mindfuck is to get away from the mindfuck. The single most important thing you can do to heal from infidelity is free yourself from mental slavery. (Thank you, Bob Marley.)  It’s very hard to clear your head when your abuser is right in front of you pretending to be normal for entire minutes at a time. Or worse, arguing with you about how this is All Your Fault. The cognitive dissonance between the person you love, the mindfuck, and your common sense can make your head explode. No contact mutes the mindfuck radio and lets you think for yourself again. You will start to feel like yourself again (remember that person?)

Manipulative people cannot manipulate you if you shut them down. They need something to work with, so if you deny them access to the inside of your head, it makes it much harder for them to manipulate you. No contact is your best defense against mindfuckers and it makes you stronger. Chumps, you need every ounce of fight you’ve got. Don’t give cheaters your head and your heart.

This column ran previously, but we can always use an NC primer!

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.
  • No Contact is the path to the truth and the light. It is the thing that can free you.
    See the mindfuckery as the toxic ooze that it is, dangerous to you and everything you care about. It seeps into your brain. You question yourself. You do things you don’t want to do. You say things you don’t believe to keep the peace or get something accomplished because you are dealing with someone who is lying to you and manipulating you constantly. No Contact is the thing that lets that toxic ooze seep out of your brain. It lets your mind see things clearly. Without the constant mindfuck your brain can put the pieces together.

    I think a lot of us ask why and think we can put the pieces together if we get that answer from the cheater. Instead there is more mindfuck, lies, manipulation. Getting that out of your system will allow you to truly see what is happening and not just what they want you to see, which rarely makes actual sense. Without the constant mental reinforcement of their lies and manipulation, which make everything messed up, our brains can get things back to being ordered and they begin to make sense. Here’s the kicker, the longer you are No Contact, the path to the truth and the light, the more easily you will be able to see the mindfuck as its happening or about to happen. This is what will truly understand that the why doesn’t matter and let you move on.

    No Contact is the path to the truth and the light.
    Go into the light!
    There is peace in the light!

    • No Contact means you can get to the place where you realise there *is* no “why”. Not one that makes sense anyway. Or else, the why is because absurd irrational lying fuckwit with bad bad values. That you accidentally got tangled up with when you mistook them for a normal person. Yes, you were mistaken: you were tricked and you were conned.

      AOK is so right about the kicker. Actually, it’s the NC bonus gift. You start to see the tactics and manipulations coming or unfolding (eg DARVO). And suddenly, just like that, the cheater seems ridiculous, predictable and pathetic. Their manipulations and cons won’t work any more. Their power over you evaporates.

      Move away from the mindfuckery. The clear-mindedness gets better every day.

    • AllOutofKibble – Your call to arms has been an inspiration to me! Thank you for regularly reminding us that No Contact is a blessing, not a chore.

    • I agree! Getting away from the
      reconciliation BS that tortured me daily was incredible.
      I was not myself, miserable, angry, crying, trying to balance and work
      Ugh, worst time of my life…
      They really don’t give us much choice, if you respect you
      Geez, so glad I’m away from the fuckwit, in the rearview mirror!
      Xo

    • im 16 months into this shit. struggling to buy food , keep the bills paid – get my kid the things she needs . its been far too many years that ive felt as if – ‘I can’t win’. i have become so physically ill its sickening. im tired of losing. not to toot my own horn – but damn i am a loyal wife- ive been betrayed and cheated on more times than i can even count. i quit trying to keep up somewhere along the way. my 7 year old is torn and unsure and scared. and every day – theres more of the crazy self serving bullshit that he cannot stop spewing all over the place. this page is seriously the ONLY place i can turn to and feel as if someone can relate to the madness called my life. thank you. all of you who share your stories. there are SO many women out here that are damaged and broken and hopeless. its very easy to think about giving up and giving in. i know i do daily. but then i look at my daughter and i know that she is worth the exhausting fight i am immersed in. we aren’t trash- whether we were used up and thrown away or not. remember that- you dont have to be damaged oppressed and manipulated forever- i can’t get back my 20’s or my 30’s and push some re-do button- but i can sit here tonight and say “FUCK YOU!! I DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS FUCKUPNESS.. .” im literally facing losing my ass. he controls everything and always has. so calculated and so disappointing. its a shame the waste these assholes create out of life and time. now getting back to the interrogatories!!! ahhhgg

    • I was doing fairly well with NC. Then I stopped by our house to pick up some checks and discovered him having a romantic interlude in our bedroom WITH THE CLEANING LADY!!! I went into a rage which was followed by several hateful e-mails on both our parts. Now I am so down on myself. Starting fresh on the NC but it is so difficult. He’s fucking anything that moves. I wish I didn’t care.

    • Thank you for this. I’ve been hung up on the “why” , thinking that it would help me finally move on. It’s these nuggets of wisdom from CN and CL that prod me to keep the forward motion. I’ve got a cute house, a good job , grandchildren to hug and I could have sworn I had a slight touch of MEH hit me but I just can’t wrap my head around why. I’m a nice, kind person but was chumped by husband of 32 years who had a double life with a alcoholic drug addict half his age that he fathered a child with . I keep thinking that if I’m nice to him he will explain why or what was wrong with me. BUT I’m listening to you, it’s not the “why” just trust that they suck and keep moving forward.

  • “It’s very hard to clear your head when your abuser is right in front of you pretending to be normal for entire minutes at a time.”

    Thats the part that got me. When he wasn’t mean or critical or raging, he could – for a few moments – look like such a reasonable human…one that you could make a life with.

    and we all know how society talks down those people who GIVE UP and indiscriminately divorce all over the place, we wouldn’t want people to think that we’re one of THEM. I want to be that gal who tells the story of how I persevered and won.

    and I didn’t learn until it was way over that I had been played for a long long time

    • Exactly, UMM! And the reasonableness is usually in full force and display around other people. I always thought what others would think if I gave up on stbx. That was when I still did not know about his serial cheating which kept all his attention and efforts away from the family. He was emotionally abusive like your deadcheater but oh so charismatic and spitting all reasonable vomit and accusing me of being too needy all the time. I shoved my needs somewhere deep down, still drying to dig them out.

      • Weird, isn’t it, how *all* of us chumps are so needy? And we’re all controlling too. Anybody would think these are the reasons all the poor cheaters feel they “had no choice” (as mine likes to say …)

      • Mine was confused as to whether I didn’t need him enough or was too needy. One day he was sobbing “I felt so unloved and unneeded” The very next day he was telling me I was too needy and he had to do everything for me. Finally I said (trying to communicate because he said we didn’t do that very well either) “Ok, obviously I am not getting this right so I am just going to have to ask you so you can tell me: when do you want to be needed and when do you not want to be needed?” He said he would have to think about it and get back to me. When I asked him about it again a few days later he denied ever having said that he didn’t feel needed. He then went on to tell me that I was so needy he felt like he had four children instead of three. Then the next day he accused me of mothering him. Sometimes I think they just spout off whatever excuse pops into their heads.

        • I was told that I was “too sinful” but 2 hours later in the litany of my failures, he said I was “too holy”.

        • Him: You pushed me too hard, I was happy just being an Engineer and drawing all day, no you had to make me into Management and now I hate it.

          Me: Well Hun go back to engineering, I will manage the budget so that we can live on that salary instead of the Directors salary. (dance dance dance)

          Him: What is wrong with you that you can not support me in my career, I like being the boss. I do not want to go back!!

          Me: HUH??!!?!?

          After that conversation he added “not supporting him in his career” to my list of failings.

          • OMFG!!! My ex was ALWAYS do the flip flopping crap! So glad and thankful for this website and comment section. Gas lighting and manipulation at its finest.

        • I got the same thing. “I was excluded and didn’t feel needed.” AND “I need freedom to do the things I like without having you pressure me or hound me.”

          Couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted me to care or not. Truth is that he is the one who didn’t care.

      • “And the reasonableness is usually in full force and display around other people.”

        Yes, this. I have been downloading texts from D-day through divorce between me and Hannibal Lecher, in preparation for writing a book about the experience. Thank goodness I had found ChumpLady and knew to pay attention to BEHAVIOR rather than words.

        After I had said I wanted to divorce numerous times, Hannibal ramped up the verbal Sad Sausage ploys, claiming he would do ANYTHING I wanted to avoid divorce. Reading his words from that time would have led someone to think that his whole being was infused with regret and remorse and love and concern-for-the-family. His actions conveyed a very different message–the same power/control issues & emotional coldness cropped up every time I agreed to meet him to talk. While he verbally *begged* for a marital counselor to avoid divorce, instead of booking the therapist whose number I had given him, he called me up and told me all the ways I would need to improve before he would attend therapy. Distance from him (both physical & emotional–I had asked him to move out) allowed me to see him for who he is and that he was still using the same power-struggle strategies he had used in the marriage. Distance allowed me to file, knowing he was never going to change.

        And yet, our friends saw the distraught Hannibal, who would do ANYthing to save his marriage and family. They were convinced by his reasonableness to rectify his “mistake” of the affair from 8 years hence, and my unforgiving nature that I would not allow him to make amends.

        One of the best things to come out of the Chump experience, I think, is the ability to see other people’s bullshit for what it is, to pay attention to behavior over words, so that it will be very difficult to ever get snookered again.

        • My experience has been very similar, Tempest. I made the mistake the other day of trying to convince a Switzerland friend of my STBX’s horribleness (big mistake, I know). It went as you might expect, with me walking away from the interaction feeling confused and defensive, wondering “Why can’t she see what I’m seeing?”

          But, once I’d had some time to reflect on it, I remembered two things:

          1. My STBX is really, really good at the sad sausage routine. Even I almost bought it for a while.
          2. My “friend” ain’t much of a friend.

          Onward and upward!

        • This is where I get put out on an ice float all alone….

          in my life with NDC, most of his abuse was verbal…he rarely DID horrible things to me as much as he SAID horrible things to me, so the advice to watch their actions not their words backfired for me. Even when he SAID he was leaving because I was a horrible wife, he stayed and kept functioning (badly) in the family.

          Apparently he gave me his worst words …his worst deeds were done with strange women out of my eyeshot.

      • Yes, reasonable around others and lunatic behind closed doors…
        He declared us heading to divorce because I was a horrible wife then later when having lunch with his dad, he calmly said “we would love to ____ but Uni won’t move there” . Uh, the issue here is maybe the pending divorce? I will never know how serious he was about following through with the divorce, but stating it as an intent seemed to solve his internal distress over having an affair. In his mind we were separated (we slept in the same bed) so he could date his Schmoopie.

        • “in his mind we were separated (we slept in the same bed) so he could date his Schmoopie.. …THIS is the way wasband thought also.his thing even told me “aren’t you getting a divorce?” umm… no but i am now thank you.

          4 years after our divorce, and wasband was trying to convince me that we were already divorced when he started f*cking the thing. according to him, it was not his fault, it was not my fault .. . we just “grew apart”… .. .. apparently he completely forgot that we were still sleeping in the same bed, having sex, i was still paying all the bills (he was still giving me half his paycheck), i was still cooking and cleaning and putting up his laundry. and we had celebrated christmas and went to mass as a family. he also seemed to conveniently forgotten how he was already seeing the thing (she is/was the neighborhood party girl meth head that lived with his cousin 2 houses from ours) during that time.

          when i reminded him about the time i found out about her, how he had hickies on his neck and how he had to give me the 200 dollars to file the divorce papers the next day.. .. he got upset, frustrated and oh so confused.. .. . his response well i dont remember, it was a long time ago. maybe i was already seeing her. i dont know.

          so i reminded him how his thing would call me from his phone to tell me off and how she tried to be me and used my name at the video rental store.. .. . and his response was that was after our divorce not before.. .. ..

          he has completely convinced himself the lies he has been telling everyone else. how we were already divorced before he hooked up with the “thing” and how we just grew apart. .. apparently i was the only person who did not know we grew apart when we were still sleeping together (figuratively and literally). apparently i was the only person who did not know we were already divorced even thou the actual paperwork wasnt filed until the day after i found out about his girlthing.. ..

          they make shit up to make themselves feel better and to make themselves look good to others. in time they will actually convince themselves that is the truth. you cant logic with crazy… .. you will never understand the how, the why because you will never be able to THINK like he does. he is missing the part in his brain that rationalizes basic human decency and behavior.. ..

          • Mine could “never remember” either – good job I have an excellent memory (but then that makes me a bitch for keeping “a little black book”!

    • This was the line that got me too.

      Even now, when he’s standing in the throng of parents with his newest live-in GF waiting for our son to emerge from his theater dressing room, I have to intentionally remind myself… this fuckwit is currently on Ashley Madison and calls himself Mr. Grey. HE IS A SOCIOPATH and a PREDATOR… but he pretends normal in public exceptionally well.

      If you’re new here… read up on cognitive dissonance and you’ll understand more and more why No Contact (or Grey Rock if you co-parent) is soooo important to your healing and to finding the courage to leave/file if you haven’t already.

      They. Do. Not. Change.

      • Yes and the parenting part is why there can’t be pure no contact.

        The intermittent contact is also killer. It is like there periodic reinforcement throughout the relationship which keeps you going amidst all the disorder. Fuckwit goes for weeks without contact then seemingly out of the blue there is a barrage of email because he needs some stimulus.

        This week I have listened to 14 year old ds read me strings of text conversations between him and fuckwit. I am pretty much on the bummer recording as he shares the stupid shit his father says. If a normal outsider read these, he/she would be appalled that a father would say these things to his son. Most likely one would assume these were texts between 2 teenagers but know it is a father arguing with a 14 year old. Many cruel and inappropriate things are said on both sides and then the next day he comes back with some some nice text like “you want to go fishing” or “I’ll take you to the mall if you want” (after telling him he won’t buy him anything because feelingit gets thousands of dollars each month to take care of the children’s needs). I think fuckwit only says that stuff because he knows he will say no and then he can say well I tried.

        I can look forward to August when he will be vacationing for another 3 consecutive weeks but then look out for whatever is next. True no contact would be bliss.

        • You can tell kiddo he doesn’t need to get into text fights with anyone. “Sorry you feel that way, Dad, but I don’t want to fight.” He can put the phone down.

          • @laj I told him something to that effect and his response was “it’s fun to argue with him because he is so stupid”. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that. I just shake my head and sigh. I was going to ask the reunification counselor in a couple of weeks. DS really has no emotional connection to his dad. I think he is like a virtual person to him. He seems like a video game- nothing to fear, just entertainment since he only texts or emails.

            • Poor kid. That is the only contact he is having and maybe it ‘s better than nothing for him. At least he sees his father as emotionally immature.

            • I’m sure your son will grow tired of showing his Dad how stupid he is at some point.

              My daughter had a bit of fun texting back her dad and pointing out what a hypocrite he is.
              Then she got a job working with the public and decided she had enough high maintenance assholes to deal with and went back to grey rock.
              Then she turned 18 and got the car in her name and went NC.

              Never saw her so happy and and at peace in her life! It’s exhausting to listen to and even ignore a delusional bullshit artist, therefore she has blocked him entirely.

              Either way, the disordered won’t be happy even though they rationalize getting out paying for college because kid is disrespectful and talks back or kid goes NC.

              Hopefully soon, your son will see how much better life is going NC.

  • You should do a post on how the love we got from our parents perfectly trained us to be chumps, My relationship with my mother was, sadly, exactly like this.

    • Sadly so was mine too

      In the end I just went NC with my parents & brother. I remember it was ok the first few months then I started to doubt whether NC was a good idea and then I sort of got used to NC and not knowing anything about them. We’re all talking again now; however I notice I’m much better at boundaries with them and also I don’t expect much back from them either. “I’m doing it for the kids” would be my excuse!

    • Having good parents doesn’t always protect you. I had great parents, loving, generous, and practical. My upbringing taught me to see the best and people and generally trust them and assume the best of them. Unfortunately not all people are like my parents and not all people are trustworthy. I learned that the hard way.

      • And they loved and trusted my ex too. They were almost as heartbroken as I was. They felt betrayed too. They had entrusted their daughter into his care.

        • I wish that my FOO had realized that some of the guys in my life (specifically my first boyfriend/fiance) that were ‘good’ in the ways that counted (at least some of the ways–like loving me, not just playing me) did not have the most impressive resumes (and thus didn’t try so hard to get me to break up with these less ‘sparkly’ guys) and that they guys who had impressive resumes (e.g., my last two partners) were guys with whom I should never have entered into intimate relationships (they were unfaithful, disrespectful, cruel). And, ironically, my first boyfriend ended up developing a fairly impressive career and doing impressive things and has had a multi-decade marriage, which sounds happy. Not that it was my FOO’s responsibility, but they didn’t teach me how to discern good from bad, safe from dangerous, healthy from unhealthy. I really wish that when they noticed that when my partners were treating me badly that they had said ‘F–k that noise. You deserve way better!’ Instead, I often got, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ implying that I did something to make a partner I loved/to whom I was loyal treat me like garbage. Thus, I learned early in life that I wasn’t deserving (of respect in my job, personal life, etc.)

          • RSW, I hear that!
            So many of us and so many of our parents could not distinguish between an actual good, kind, even-tempered person and a polite “good guy” that sooner or later has a secret life.
            I’m so sorry you have suffered ill treatment.
            The rare good news here is that you can be a smarter mama watching out for your children. Much good luck to you!

        • Same here, Chumpinrecovery. My mother was literally on her deathbed (my father had already died; he also loved my XW) and said to XW “I know David will be in good hands; you love him so much.” Meanwhile XW was deep in her double-life and texting OM in the hospital halls in between comforting me. I am glad my parents did not live to see the pain she caused.

          • Similarly, my X made a big show of promising to take care of me to my dying father.
            I’m glad my dad never saw what he’s done to the kids and me.
            Slowly the spackle is chipping away, revealing who and what was married/living with me.
            Makes me sick
            Makes me realize I have a lot to learn about recognizing what is bad for me.

      • Same here! Amazing FOO for me. Yet, here I am (or was); starving for her kibbles. NC (or in my case, grey rock) is the superhero cape thats flying me to my healthier life.

        Rt at DDay (a year ago this week!), I had a therapist wanting to help me figure out “why”. CL/CN asked the real question; “What’s your worth?” Growing up in a loving family taught me I have worth, I just had to go find it again (and a new therapist).

        I saw XW over the weekend at a kid event. We had a moment to talk and she really pushed for non-email-only communication. I held my ground and then watched her flip from “victim” to rage, back to victim then to rage. She tried desperately to hook me. In the moment, I kept my cool. It wasn’t long after that I realized how clearly now I see through her shit.

        • I will say that although my FOO didn’t keep me from being a chump it has helped tremendously with the recovery because there was always at least some part of me that knew that I did have worth and I had a lot of validation and support from my family (and friends, and even ex’s family). Also, the values that helped me to form the relationships that lead to all of that support came from my upbringing so even indirectly it has helped with my healing. I am grateful to my parents (and my sister) for being them.

        • Sadly, many of us were used to a starvation diet on the kindness front from childhood onwards, and thus our marriages at least had the comfort of being familiar.

      • Yes, I became a chump in part because my disordered parents trained me in chumpiness by their insidious abuse.

        My new husband became a chump because his loving parents taught him that people are good and could be trusted.

        2 very different paths the the same eventual bad destination.

      • Chumpinrecovery, what you said is true for me too:

        “Having good parents doesn’t always protect you. I had great parents, loving, generous, and practical. My upbringing taught me to see the best and people and generally trust them and assume the best of them. Unfortunately not all people are like my parents and not all people are trustworthy. I learned that the hard way.”

        My parents met each other when they were young, so they didn’t date many other people. And from what I recall, the few other people they did date were from families they knew from the neighborhood or from their churches – in other words, nobody in their dating experience could even try to create a fake persona because they were too well known!

        I didn’t learn to check veracity because it was just assumed. I too learned the hard way.

  • Going no contact by not calling, texting or choosing to see my cheater is easy. But when you live on a tiny little island and you are forced to see them and they continue to treat you like they never knew you, were not your best friend for 30 years and not married to you for 17 years that is hard.

    The anger inside me wells up and I just want to annihilate him and it is a very good thing that I choose not to be in a tiny little cell for the rest of my life more than I want to smack the living shit out of him. LOL

    I just remind myself of what Chump Lady once said ~ these type of cheaters are ice cold and feel nothing. It is easy for him to treat me this way ~ and no, I can’t understand it because we are not the same.

    Best to just keep moving forward with my life.

    He’s just someone I used to know. Sigh.

    • Jodi, I GET your pain! My last boyfriend acts as though we never knew each other–in spite of 30 years of ‘friendship,’ which I now realize to him was ‘faux-friendship’ (I’ll pretend to be your friend while doing so serves me well as it materially helps me–who doesn’t want maid service, sex, compliments? and I want to think that I am a Good Guy all around–in spite of my unethical, unkind behavior.) I’ve thought nearly identical thoughts as yours. And as I don’t want to ‘look like the crazy one’ for trying to exact revenge and part of me is compassionate/forgiving (although my last boyfriend didn’t apologize) and believes in taking the ‘high road’, I won’t try to exact revenge. I don’t like to admit that sometimes I wish that something bad would befall my exes, especially my last boyfriend (e.g., a debilitating, not lethal stroke, getting divorced again by someone he is crazy about but treats him like crap), but I’m still really sad and angry about the way he treated me during and after our relationship.

      • i dont have to wish for or exact revenge. he has destroyed his own life very well without me to pick up the pieces, boost up his ego and remind him how to be a decent human being. the thing he left me for literally beats the shit out of him, throws bottles at his face, puts him down verbally every day, and makes him feel like shit. .. .. thrown in alcohol and meth use.. . he is on a downward spiral to the gutter.. . i dont have to do anything.

        it still hurts me. it hurts my foolish little heart. i dont want him hurting no matter how much he hurt me. i dont want bad things to happen to him. i actually would like to see him happy and in a relationship with some nice girl who will take good care of him.. .. (just not this thing he is obsessed or possessed with). it makes me feel bad and sad when i hear stories of all the abuse he is going thru and how miserable he is.. .. . then i have to remind myself that it was HIS choice. he was the one who chose to walk away from a loving supportive with and wonderful children who thought he was a good man and decent.

  • Same.
    New Years Eve 2014 he said “can I speak to you alone for a second?” after a lovely dinner with our kids. 10 min later everything I had built my life on was gone. It took me 3 years to really learn it probably never existed.
    I do understand that feeling though. On Wednesday you are going through life, thinking of what to make for dinner and picking up his dry cleaning….Thursday the person you trusted most in the world and was your best friend acts like they don’t know you. You are the enemy now.
    Blows my damn mind.

    • Isn’t it mind-blowing, Paintwidow? The night before I tracked XW to OM’s house and my life subsequently fell apart, XW and I had stayed up to 2:00 AM making love, telling each other how much we loved each other, discussing the future… How they can switch off and on in the double-life is mind-bogglingly disordered.

      • This. And now he is screwing me over in every way he can, financially and with the kids. I just don’t understand and question if the past 17 years together were all just a sham.
        He was being “nice” to me asking if I wanted to go camping with him and kids last weekend. I thought he wanted to reconcile. Shows up at court with a surprise second appraisal on house just to try to get more money from me being him out.
        What a snake in the grass.

      • You just described my D-Day to the exact points.
        I know it well. Like you never existed. And the stork brought your child. Not you.

  • At the beginning I must admit that I DID want to have contact with him. I wanted to yell and scream and give him a mouthful about every single appalling thing he had done, what a complete and utter inadequate asshole he was. As time went by I began to realize that no contact bothered him more than being yelled at and it allowed me to get him out of my brain. So while I wasn’t dying of unrequited love I still wanted to nail that bastard. Glad I stopped though. Life is so peaceful (well mine at least) now!

    • I did this too. The first time I told him off was SO satisfying … he was shocked and hurt to hear truth being flung at him. I did it a few more times, but the power of those words no longer had any impact as he had come up with rationalizations in his own mind to deflect them. Utter silence was far more hurtful to him and healthy for me … a win-win!!

      • For ANYONE new to this doubting the cure of no contact ….believe us all here !!! I was first in the queue to rant and rave… pure gold for him …he framed me as the “crazy ex” who was unstable/couldnt be trusted to drive (on anti anxiety for 3 weeks) and the trump card…he would be forced to get a restraining order…. venting your feelings back fires on you because they dont have ANY. with silence they have nothing to work with and there is no mud to fling at the wall. Learnt the hard way with many ironic/ pleading emails…. basically more material for him to work with and cherry pick my faults. Its not about being the ‘bigger person’ more like you are aiming for the invisible man. It is all about energy… they cant throw negative shit at you if you dont provide the material. But hey… i think we all go through a period of wanting them to know how we feel… but forget that they DONT CARE !!!

  • It was hard for me at first. When you’re married to someone for as long as I was (27 years) it is weird not to share everything with them anymore. I had a few set backs when I first moved out. Those moments helped me to realize that I would never get the response I was hoping to get from him and that contact with him was pointless.

    I had gone 4 months of no contact when I received a “Happy Birthday” text from him. I didn’t wish him a happy birthday 2 months prior so it seemed like either a way to show off that he was the “bigger” person or a way to keep me hooked. That 4 months gave me perspective though so I just went ahead and blocked him on my phone. With adult children and the divorce settled there is literally no reason to keep those avenues open. He can reach me by one email address (he’s filtered as spam on the rest) and that’s it.

    It was the best decision of my adult life!

  • I needed this column today. Thank you! My dog’s figured it out … he can hear the mailman 3 doors down (I’ve timed this) … my dog is vigilant. When the mailman comes up my steps, he’s not talking to me, he’s talking to someone on his Bluetooth ear piece, and nods when I thank him for the mail, but keeps talking to the mystery person. My mailman has no time for me.

    My dog’s going nuts, trying to tell the mailman to PAY ATTENTION TO US!!! The difference is, I keep saying thank you to the mailman, but my dog, if given the chance, would bite him on the butt. My dog is a good judge of character. I need to be more like my dog.

    Oh, and my cat? She runs away from everyone, including my ex when we lived together (actually, her hair fell out when he was here, but grew back in when he moved out). So he comes over for a useless chat, and she stays put, finds a shelf that’s eye level with him, and sits on it and stares in his eyes the entire time he’s in the house. If looks could kill … I gotta be more like my cat, too.

    • I like the story about your cat – my parents dog who lives less than five minutes walk away has virtually moved in with us since my Noddy moved out March last year- hes best friends with my dog and we’ve never had so many visits. Similarly a tree in my front garden that I thought was a crab apple tree because the apples were always so tiny gave beautiful large eating apples last Autumn and this year looks like being similar – 14 years of oppressive evil spirit gone

      • Yup … the negative energy is being replaced! Enjoy your apples! I, at first, thought it was my fault the cat’s hair was falling out … I thought I was creating the stress in the house (or so he made me think) … but then I remembered that his cat’s hair fell out when he lived on his own, and that I became hypothyroid with thinning hair while I was dating him.

      • Funny you mention the crab apple tree. I have one in front of my house and the past few years it was in awful shape. Some kind of fungus. This year I told cheater he was not allowed at the house anymore. Exchanges had to be done in a public location. The crab apple tree has never looked better!
        Also, every single one of my houseplants are flourishing. It’s amazing what happens when you get rid of negative energy.

        • YES, CC, Champ, & nini1912! My kitty’s health had been declining–getting old and skinny and barely eating. Terrible dirrhea and crying out in pain. After I unloaded Creeper, kitty has miraculously regained her health! Eating better than she has in years, keeping food down, normal bowel movements, hardly any vomiting. It’s been a year, and I’m still amazed about this!!

    • Love your cat.

      Alas, ex was always the dog’s favorite. She was heartbroken when he left too but still goes nuts with affection every time he shows up to get the kids. She’s still being a chump, hoping he’ll come back. In all fairness I think he does somewhat miss the dog. He certainly cares more for her than he did for me.

      • My daughter recently took the dog to visit cheater. D said the dog didn’t recognize cheater.
        That brought still-bitter me some twisted happiness.

        • I figure if the dog still loves the cheater, it’s because it’s identifying with someone who just wants to play all the time and sponge off someone else, perfectly acceptable behaviour in a dog or infant, but not in a life partner. A dog who hates the ex is just showing that it’s more mature. 🙂

      • Yeah, I learned my lesson … it was one of those “maybe if we discuss it rationally, he’ll come back to me” talks … What was I thinking? I asked him questions, and while he was answering, his eyelids fluttered like a hummingbird’s wings. He wouldn’t have passed a lie detector test!!!

      • No mere mortal can perfect the feline fuck you stare!

        Now, this is fascinating. I volunteer at a blind cat rescue sanctuary.

        The human pus bucket went a few times. The only task I asked him to do consisted of sitting on the comfortable couch and petting cats who are blind. Oh the torture! He responded as if I ask him to bust rock in the Gobi Desert.

        I was the one cleaning out and sanitizing litter boxes.

        The cats at the blind cat sanctuary are very loved. But none of them really had any interest in the human pus bucket. He just sat there like a pork chop and they gave him a side glance and moved on to other volunteers.

        Note: THEY ARE BLIND.

        It’s all energy.

        That’s what they read.

        And bless her heart there is a 400 pound woman that comes there every week and her poor teeth would make you weep, and she is challenged mentally/intellectually but her heart is clean. Light and pure.

        Those cats LOVE her. They know.

    • Alas, my kitties love my ex. All cats love him. He’s allergic to them, so he doesn’t chase after them, but sits quietly, and they LOVE that! Thankfully, he is quite nice to cats (and dogs), so when they come around he pets them and plays with them. And then has to go wash his hands or he starts sneezing!

      So, my cats know he’s a soft touch where animals are concerned. 🙂

      • When BTK was caught (Dennis Raider, the serial killer) he had a wife and two grown kids. He told the investigators about all his crimes, proud that he had gotten away with it for so long. His only regret about going to prison, he said, was missing walks with his dog.

  • I have a recently chumped friend, who of course is all about “hope”. I’m not the
    2 x 4 type of friend, I’m more gentle in my approach – I’ve referred her to chumplady.

    It’s really painful to watch him go through all the textbook crap Talked about here (the things we apparently ALL go through… cheaters are unoriginal!). A lot of the things he’s talking about I was fortunate enough to have put in the past, and kind of forgotten about. He’s obviously reading at RIC boards, because when I asked how his spouse was responding to him, he said, “well from what I understand she is in mourning from the loss of her affair. SHe’s just kind of distant.” I (previously) slapped a giant hope sticker all over that! “No, he’s not being a completely insensitive dirtbag, he’s hurting and I need to be patient.”

    Like WTF, REALLY! Have you ever noticed the “be nice” double standard of the IRC? Hey, your spouse just plunged a giant knife in your back, but be nice, they feel really bad about it! Uh no, they don’t feel bad about it, they feel bad for getting caught! They slap sanitized language on Hideous Acts and then make it seem like your outrage is the problem.

    Now I’m not bashing hope in general, I’m bashing misplaced hope. Never lose hope for yourself, but placing hope in another person that has proven themselves unworthy of it, is about as effective as trying to control the wind. You can yell at it, try to embrace it, put up barriers to stop it, but the wind will always do what it wants to do – blow!

    Trust that they suck!

    • As much as we like to go on about the similarities of the cheaters, it seems that us chumps have a lot of similarities too. I would rather be like us than them, however.

    • The RIC doesn’t understand that turning the other cheek doesn’t mean offering it to be slapped, it means turning to love. Now loving someone who has just knifed you is not attacking them back but walking away and leaving the justice to the authorities. So if they keep attacking which is what the disordered do, you can’t try and fix them, you go no contact.

  • If you can, completely purge them from your life as soon as the relationship ends. Delete their contact information off your phone, delete every email, text, photo, and social media connection. Block them from contacting you. Change your phone number, and change all of the email addresses and social media names as you can. Then remove all traces of them from your physical world. Any contact information in an address book, photos, gifts, cards, letters, personal property, souvenirs, things you bought to wear for or with them, food and drink you bought to share with them, movies or music you enjoyed together, etc…

    Get rid of it all. Because when you’re in a low place and come across a reminder, it lowers your defenses and makes you want to check up on them in social media, or have direct contact with them. They’re the enemy, you have to build a wall. Build it high and strong. Look for any cracks and patch them asap. Be wary of mutual friends and acquaintances, you can’t be total no contact with any go-betweens hanging around. Purge them too. Quit any clubs or groups you shared interest in. Stop going to places they might be at.

    It sounds like a lot, but the higher and stronger that wall is, the easier it is to preserve no contact. The harder you make it to let them contact you or for you to contact them, the better. If you have to manually key in their number or type out their email addresses from memory, that gives a few second buffer zone to think about it twice.

    • Chump Said Bye Bye,
      While I think that you offer sound advice, I guess that, sadly, I don’t need to follow it as my ex-boyfriend, completely blocked me from his life after discarding me multiple times. So he got to repeatedly crap all over me and then gleefully leave me for the next woman, who I believe he is now living with/married to/works with. I feel as though he completely won while grinding me down into the dirt.

      • Women are too defined by their relationships. (true about me as well). It’s detrimental to us how much we feel our relationships are ‘us’. Instead they are only one part of who we are, and our lives. And if a person leaves us, then bye bye, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. Go play with your new shiny toy, the luster won’t last long on it.

      • RSW, this guy is an utter turd. You keep describing him, and he never improves with the re-telling.

        So why on earth does it matter to you what he is doing now?

        It’s like you are hanging on to him with both hands, and hanging on to the anger and the pain and the injustice of it all.

        I know things are tough for you right now where you’re living. Why make it tougher by hauling round a ten-ton rock with you at all times?

        I am so sorry he hurt you so badly. You didn’t deserve to be treated in that way. You are worth so much more than that. You are a good person, and a good mother.

        Give yourself a break, and be kinder to yourself. You have permission to put the rock down if you want.

        • Thanks, Lola Granola.
          I am going to try to figure out how to put down the ten ton rock. I have been creating a Goal or the Day and sending it to a sibling each morning so that I don’t become completely incapacitated by my sadness, anger, and despair (regarding why bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.) Wasn’t it Louis Robert Stevenson who said that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike? I need to stop getting mad about The Just World Fallacy not being true and just accept reality! I wish that I could convince myself that I am better off alone, even if alone for the rest of my life, but I don’t feel tha way and have had no luck finding a decent, compatible partner. I am throwing myself into work (my paid job, my volunteer job, and my nascent side business) to help my kids and others, gain self-esteem by developing confidence and acting bravely, and distracting myself from my empty bed, empty for the last year and no sign of changing.

          • RSW, the day will come when you look at that empty bed with gratitude. Having the bed all to yourself is one of the things I love about being single. Especially if I also have an omnibus edition of trashy classic detective stories to read in it.

            It’s all in how you look at it. If you have invested heavily in the idea of Being Part Of A Couple for decades, this isn’t usually reversed overnight. Society IS much harder on single people, and you may know some very annoying and ugly and misfit-type single people who have put you off even further.

            BUT: if you really start reframing things – as in journalling, or making lists – the list of advantages to being single, if necessary permanently, starts getting longer and longer.

            What turned me around was the following exercise: ‘Imagine if God (or supreme power of your choice) appeared to you, and told you that you are going to remain single for the rest of your life. How would you feel? And how would you then live out the rest of that life?’

            How I felt initially: Angry, disappointed, tearful, less-than, rejected, flawed, unloveable, ashamed, dreading being laughed at.

            How I felt, once I’d thought about it a bit: Cautiously optimistic, slightly excited, gradually more open to new experiences, a lot more assertive about some things, and much less assertive/defensive about other things.

            How I feel about it now: Frickin GRATEFUL for every breath I draw.

            You are throwing yourself into lots of distractions, which is not a bad thing. But you’re also at some stage going to have to throw yourself into YOU.

            I am hearing a lot of unfinished business in the relationship between you and you. So you are always try to find someone else to fill that gap, to numb that ache.

            I know this was the case with me – I had abandonment issues out the wazoo, and a history of being a workaholic. Eventually I had to stop running and face this, and yes, it was hard. But because I accept that I’ll be single probably for the rest of my life, due to a very broken picker, I had to do the work.

            The last two years in particular have been a real roller-coaster for me in terms of doing that work. I feel like a completely different person now. The old shit isn’t holding me back any more – and some of that shit was DECADES old. It’s been like having a lot of colonic irrigations – stuff has been coming out that’s been up there since childhood!

            So it’s worth it. It really is. I read all your posts, and I see you spinning your wheels with this ten ton rock (mixed metaphors), and it breaks my heart.

            I recently did a healing exercise where we were all given a rock (just a nice big hand-sized lump of granite) to carry around with us. Mine was probably the heaviest and nastiest looking rock, but lucky me got that one. We had to take it EVERYWHERE – bathroom, shower, bed at night. And when we were ready, we could put that rock down in an agreed place.

            Man, I COULD NOT PUT THAT ROCK DOWN. Like you, I am a perseverator, a ruminator, and a brooder and hanger-on of old thoughts and patterns. I like my misery. I hang on to it, and it starts to define me after a while. I kept thinking, ‘This is stupid’ but I absolutely DID NOT WANT to put that rock down. It was heavy and inconvenient and got in the way of what I was doing, but I couldn’t let it go.

            I was almost the last of the group to do so. And once I did it, I felt so much better.

            It was a really powerful lesson. Might be worth trying yourself, if you can stand it.

  • Plants and animals. The Know stuff. New rescued dog hated the cheater troll, kids and I thought it so strange bc all dogs loved him. New dog loses his crap every time cheater troll was there, which really wasn’t much, about 4 days per month. Ex leaves and dog is fantastic!

    Trees planted by cheater troll had been wonderful for decades suddenly died when he left, only those trees.

    NC is life.

  • I think one reason No Contact is difficult is that like all other types of abusers, Cheaters separate you from your family and friends. So your circle of contact has usually gotten pretty small by the time you leave. Especially, in Reconciliation, you are putting all your time and effort into wooing the cheater. Looking back, one thing I regret is that I became a crappy friend and family member. Even the most important person in my life, my child, came in second place. Remember, one thing the RIC emphasizes to you is that a main reason they “strayed” was because you were paying too much attention to those damn kids anyway. Or your sick parents, or your job, or your church. So in a vain effort to be a better wife, the cheater becomes the center of your universe. Making No Contact that much harder when you come to your senses.

    I would give anything to change giving this asshole do much importance, but I can’t.

    • Yes, I too treated family badly to ‘defend’ the creep. I feel bad about that. But I can only move forward now. I do think because I felt invisible as a kid I was suseptible to his false charm.

  • If you were abandoned or mistreated as a child, you blame yourself, but not your parents, ie not pretty, personally I limbed, due to ataxia. I think with cheaters its the same emotions, you feel abandoned, you feel the same shame. My ex knew the ow, treated me like crap, because he told me. Cheaters want you to do the p.m dance.

    • I’ve read that the idea is repeating the effort to get the indifferent parent figure to give you what you needed as a child. That’s pretty much an unconscious process. We usually don’t say to ourselves, “I’m marrying Morton because my parents were abusive to me and he’s mean too but I can make it turn out right this time. But that indifference, lack of reciprocity, lack of attention to our needs or just plain meanness feels normal. And maybe this time it will turn out better. I remember vividly the moment when I realized XH the substance abuser was as devoted to his friends and alcohol as my father was and–BONUS–as mean and mercurial as my mother. I spent 35 years chasing the unicorn of happiness there.

      The key is recognizing you are no longer a child. There’s no way to get another person of any sort to fulfill your unmet childhood needs. That shipped sailed.

      Instead, our task is to address those needs ourselves. As adults, we can LOVE OURSELVES. We can provide our own food and shelter. We can notice when we need comfort and support and ask the HEALTHY people in our lives for what we need. We can protect ourselves from people who are unkind or indifferent or exploitive. And we can map the gaps in our childhood experiences, learn to recognize when that “inner child neediness” pops up in adult life, and deal with our own feelings, with help from our adult family, friends, and perhaps a therapist.

      • And as social beings, we need to surround ourselves with friends who are kind & giving. That nourishes our psyche, and once we love ourselves, it is easier to ditch any friends who fail to be reciprocal or to be kind.

  • My stbx is incredulous that I go gray rock outside of minimal kid related contact. Here’s what he has come up with, followed by my reaction……..”We have to be civil”: I am civil in the MINIMAL contact we have….”You need to get over this and move on”: I have moved on with my life, just not with you in it….and my favorite “I’ll still be around for you to see me and we can be friends”: You had 25 years to be around me and be friends, too little too late now.Every single attempt at contact is his way of dealing with the guilt. See, Im not a bad person!! Well you are a bad person.You chose who you wanted, NOW HAVE AT IT!!!

      • EXACTLY!

        If only I would respond to Whiny Passive-Aggressive Manchild’s periodic outreaches and appeals to “be friends”!

        What a better story he could tell himself and everyone else!

        The cold, unmoving fact–“I don’t want to see you and you are not my friend”–calls bullshit on that.

        Peace and Love, Chump Nation!

    • STBX’s aunt told me her own story the other day. After she divorced her cheater husband who then lived his useless life without paying child support while she single-handedly and successfully raised three great kids called her once and was on his rage channel. She put the phone aside while he was screaming in rage over her decision to divorce him and was continuing doing her household chores. He screamed ” Dr. Phil said You made your Bed, you lie in it!” He meant she had to stick to her cheater because she married him. She took the phone up and said “Um, Didn’t Dr. Phil also say You dug your grave, you lie in it?”

  • ClusterB’s are always ahead of chumps with the narrative. They’ve undermined your character to friends family and coworkers years before the OW/OM and cheater were exposed.

    Accepting the person you loved is capable of having an affair, hooking up with escorts, fucking a relative, neighbor or friend is the tip of the iceberg. You’ve yet to receive the full brunt force of the manipulative aim to break your spirit and well being.

    If you see how the ground shifted repeatedly in your relationship, that’s nothing compared to the aftermath of the need for the beast to maintain power and control of your life through finances, your home, children, and physical/mental health.

    Still four years out I’ve been demonized to my adult children. Not a card for Mother’s Day from the two daughters I’ve loved and supported. They’ve filled the empty slot and taken it upon themselves to push my boundaries. I refuse to be battered and have gone no contact.

    It hurts me to the core. I will not fill that role. And then in my head I think ‘the cheese stands alone’. More pain to face. One more year before my granddaughter graduates. I can do that.

    • Keep “doing you.” It breaks my heart that your kids are so unkind but at some pointt they may come to see what their father is. At least I hope so.

      • Thanks, LAJ. I’m down to one close friend, my son and granddaughter. The character assassination from the daughter whose child I’ve raised was no surprise.

        The other was recently chumped. I was willing to co-sign a loan so she could buy out her cheating X who is a carbon copy of her covert narcissist father. I was approved.

        My friend who is a social worker and therapist advised against putting my financial future at risk. Still I supported her until it became apparent it would tie me to her narcissist father and sister in ways that were unacceptable and I had to withdraw my offer.

        There’s a great deal of resentment and jealousy involved with the fact that I’m doing well in my life financially. That indirect triangulation cost me per usual. My daughter is vulnerable and as we know they feed off of vulnerabilities.

        As soon as my lovey graduates next year I will be free to relocate and begin my working retirement.

    • Yup, same here. Adult son is in many ways like his father. The rare time I see him he provokes and needles me. I try to focus on a quiet, peaceful life. I wish my son love and love him, but from afar.

    • I’m sorry, DoingMe, it is a bitter pill to swallow when the kids follow cheater down the devaluation path.

      (and while you may only have one close friend geographically, know that you have many friends & admirers here. Hugs)

  • My cheater-ex sorta abandoned me so he was pretty much NC/gray rock from the beginning. He didn’t want to talk or discuss anything – not even why he cheated or why he wasn’t willing to work on marriage.

    In the beginning when we were still under the same roof, I raged quite often via text. I was pissed, hurt, confused, and lost. I sent him many texts that were stream of mind. I didn’t care and I don’t regret any of them. I had a right to express my feelings and be heard. He never responded to any of them.

    Before I moved out on July 3 (divorce was final on July 16), I had gone grey rock since we are selling our house. The closing date is August 16 which I will go completely NC and I’m sure he’s counting down the days to where he can completely forget about me.

    I was smart for my mental wellbeing. On social media, I unfriended him, all of his family and friends shortly after the divorce announcement. Near the beginning of June, I blocked him, his sinister sister, and OW on all social media. I don’t need to see their crap or lives.

    Going NC is best for me and getting past all this crap.

    • “He didn’t want to talk or discuss anything – not even why he cheated or why he wasn’t willing to work on marriage.”

      Mine too. Even going NC it makes it hard to get past. Why?? If I could get a why? Instead I have to heal and block that out on my own, as he goes on, has another kid and posts new family photos with my daughter, and seemingly makes all the changes I had wanted him to make.

      • CC, he didn’t wan to go down memory lane – his exact words. I wasn’t asking for that. I was asking what the heck just happened with my life and our marriage. I had the right to know. Still got very little in return. To this day, I still have lots of unanswered questions, and I have to be honest, I’m never going to get the answers. It’s like we have to learn to shrug our shoulders and move on.

      • there is no WHY.. .. that is the reason they cant answer you when you ask.

        he did it because he wanted to do it.
        he did it because it was easy and fun. and he did not think you would notice or care or catch on.
        he did it because he was getting something he wanted or needed from the action.
        he did it because he did not care about your feelings, he did not think at all about you.
        he kept doing it because he is selfish and inconsiderate.
        he does not want to be held accountable.
        he does not want to be made to feel bad.
        he does not want to change.

        basically it really does not matter the reason why.
        i used to play scenarios or day dreams in my head where i asked him why did he do this or that. i would play he saying exactly what i wanted him to say, and it STILL does not make any difference. you still hurt. you still feel like shit. you still are betrayed. you still feel like a tsunami/tornado/earthquake/ bomb exploded your life. you are still picking up the pieces.. .

        no contact is the best because it takes out the toxic lies, the blaming, the poor me little man child whining and twisting reality.. .. your mind clears up from being in the fog (fear, obligation and guilt) you start to see things clearer. you start to remember YOUR truth. it doesnt matter what he thinks or believes or says.. .(if you think about it what he thinks or believes or says is the reason you are in this mess to begin with).. .. he is damaged in the area of doing the right thing.

        focus on yourself and get your mighty on

    • We share a divore-ary, July 16, three years apart. It gets much better! Best wishes on your new life.

  • Hi guys. Just a little note from the land of Mostly Meh (a suburb of Meh!) to say that even really excellent No Contact can weaken when you least expect it. Because I have a kid in high school, there must still be fairly regular interaction regarding visitation. BAM sent me a few cute pictures of our son from their summer vacation. I appreciated receiving them and reciprocated during the vacation son and I took about a month later. After sending a few pics, I found myself looking for opportunities to send yet another … it was weird and I realized that I seemed to be actively attempting friendly interactions with him. It was “happy ex-family” kibbles that I normally DESPISE!!! Note to self — do NOT send pictures to “dead to me” people!!!! I quickly nipped my own urge in the bud but it took a few days to get him out of my head. Ugh. Being back to only minimal contact feels better and healthier. I so look forward to my kid aging out of this stage and being able to truly cut the mf-er out of my life totally and completely.

  • It’s like he’s dead to me. When I do have to have contact with him re children it’s like I’m talking to a computer… I do not emotionally engage with him. I feel no connection. I share nothing of myself. To me that is no contact.

      • On the rare occasions when I have spoken to him I can actually feel myself go into robot mode – it’s pretty weird actually. You know, like the voice in the elevator telling you which floor you’re on.

  • But sometimes it can feel really good to break no contact. Just started negotiations this week for my separation agreement to file a joint petition. He can’t even keep the simple things straight. Ready to just file a complaint. Here’s what I sent him today. Otherwise I’ve been no contact. Yes I’m justifying it. Our anniversary was Wednesday.
    **********

    This is what you told me last year on Facebook.

    “Happy 25th Anniversary to my beautiful wife Sandra…….love of my life, best friend and partner in this journey! Love you!”

    Seriously?!

    “love of my life,
    best friend
    and partner
    in this journey!
    Love you!”

    Seriously?!?

    Whoring around with prostitutes, massage parlor ho-workers, orgies, casual meet ups, couples meet ups, sexting, tributes, emotional affairs, posting on craigslist as a fucking bisexual? For years and years! Hiding the fact you did the same thing to Beth and Rob?

    That’s love?! That’s how you treat your best friend?! That’s what you do to your wife? Your family?

    “Look at me! See what a wonderful husband I am. I love my wife.” How could you be so duplicitous? And then you have the audacity to tell me once I discover you’re whoring around that you weren’t happy? You were fucking happy to have cake and eat it too.

    I think this year for our anniversary, you should’ve posted what you’ve been doing our whole marriage. Something like:

    Happy 26th Anniversary Chump! I love you as cake in my life, so I can secretly get tugs and showers at Spa Tao on demand, fuck guys from Craigslist in the bushes, spend marital money on a wide range of prostitutes,
    you’re my best friend because you’re so easy to manipulate and exploit-I fuck things up and you just keep forgiving me – like 10 years ago when you caught me in chat rooms and posting on craigslist as a bisexual and you didn’t divorce me then…I was very happy to continue for another 8 yrs, and you were one of many sexual partners in this wonderful, exciting, sexy, desirable double life I’ve created for myself. I distanced myself from you so I could compartmentalize all this shit. I love you for not having a clue that I lied, cheated and stole our whole marriage.”

    Post that and see how many *Likes* you get.

    How do you look at yourself in the mirror? How do you sleep at night? How do you live with yourself?

    • It’s hard to think of what they really mean when they say loving things … chumps’ brains aren’t wired that way to interpret “I love you” as anything else but “I love you as the only partner in my life …” I’ve realized now that my ex didn’t say “I love you” in the last few years when, I now know in hindsight, he was actively distancing himself and trolling for his next Poopsie. He said, “Thank you for loving me” to which I happily replied, “You’re welcome!!!” Looking back, that’s not “I love you” … it’s completely different, misleading, and pathetic. Sadly, it’s about as honest as he got, though.

    • Nveragain

      Not only does it fall on deaf ears, he did ALL THAT and more. You’re not telling him anything he doesn’t already know. And the first year anniversaries/holidays are hard. I spent my first birthday after day at my mothers grave crying. I got locked in a graveyard and has to call the police to have the gate opened.

      Taking your power back requires no contact. Start anew. Your needs matter. Centrality feeds the disordered.

      When I see you I think of you as a beautiful kind caring woman. You DID NOTHING to deserve such a predator. Take care of your needs, do it through the legal system. Trust your lawyer!

  • For me, NC was a bitch because I was super trauma bonded. I yearned and ached for this totally unworthy POS man-baby, and yet, I could not even make a list of what I liked about him!

    After 5th dday, I went no contact. It was absolutely brutal. I thought I was going to die. He had me trained like a dog to receive his calls and texts at very specific times during the days (all his breaks at work and before and after). It was nuts. So when I went NC, I was trying to keep busy, but those times would roll around and I was like a dog, suddenly alert and lifting my head to smell the breeze, knowing i should be focusing on Him, but there was nothing….. This went on for a long couple of months.

    After about a month of NC, I couldn’t bear it anymore and convinced myself that I needed closure. I wrote him a nice little email to wrap things up. He responded in the most hurtful way to me, and rubbed my nose in the fact that he has a new woman who won’t run out in him. Oh, the injustice! That left me in a pretty rageful place in my head for a good long while and there was a quote circulating on Facebook that eloquently summed up my head space: “Until you’ve left a one sided, emotionally abusive relationship, you have no idea what it is like to lay awake at night having imaginary conversations with someone you don’t even talk to anymore… ”

    But after a while of NC, the grief comes in waves and it starts to get better for a day and then the wave comes crashing down on you wanting to pull you back. Then two days are good and the waves. And so on and so forth.

    And everyone above is right, that the longer you are away, the easier it is to predict their next lame-ass move.

    After ex’s super-duper awesome girlfriend dumped him, he totally came crawling back. I anticipated this. And it happened right at the anniversary of my moving out of his house from the year before, so I was doing a lot of reminiscing (nostalgia) and then boom, he found a way through NC and messaged me. And I was astounded by the level of bullshit he tried to dish out, that I could so clearly see, now. His manipulations, his projections and blameshifting, were crystal clear. I had educated myself on narcissism and cluster b disorders. I was in therapy, trying to make sense of why I chose such a blatantly unworthy partner. I was trying to forgive myself. His attempts were laughable.

    Back to NC. Hear he got back with the girlfriend. They broke up on and off a couple more times and then I felt I was strong enough, we had a 3 hour phone conversation.

    This conversation was absolutely pivotal in my healing and realizing beyond a doubt that he has no conscience. He attempted to explain from his point of view, how things ended between us. LIE. How he met the new girlfriend. LIE. How and why he took new gf on the trips he future faked me with. LIE. Literally everything he said was a LIE. The first part if the conversation he would state some sort of bullshit, I would tell him “that’s a lie, I know the truth”, and then the latter half of the conversation he would admit he was lying and try on some version of the truth. But it was so obvious. He was dumped. All the women dump him. I used to be a great superstar source of kibbles. He didn’t call to apologize or make amends. He called because he had a NEED. Kibbles. It was so obvious and so very pathetic. And a year before, I would have totally fallen for it. But this time: NOPE.

    Aaaand back to NC. And now I’m coming up to 1 year of our last dday. My life is exponentially better. I have a closer and more loving relationship with my children. I have better friends (got rid of the narcissist friends), have more free time to pursue my interests and way more money. My stress level is low and I HAVE PEACE.

    When I first left and was a sobbing mess on the floor, that is what I prayed to God. “Please just give me peace.”

    It was really hard work to get to this point. I learned this lesson by following a difficult path, by ignoring the red flags and my own intuition. I would not wish this on anyone.

    But everyone on CL is my encouragement to keep on and we are all survivors. I read daily and have many fellow chumps I refer here to read.
    Chump Lady was also pivotal in helping me see things clearly and set me on the path to peace. So big hugs to everyone, and thank you!

    • Chumped in Ca,
      Thanks for describing your journey. I am glad that you are getting better.
      I wish that my last partner would try to hoover me (instead of pushing me away/acting as though we never knew each other). I ‘know’ that I shouldn’t care, but I do.

      • rockstarwife, in the beginning of my no contact, I wanted him to hoover me, as well. And then I would best myself up for feeling that way. And when he actually did it? I will admit a few minutes of euphoria. But that followed with sky-high anxiety (which I had forgotten about, and after months free of it, I had forgotten how uncomfortable it was…) then derision at his lame reasons for contacting me “I just wanted to say hi….I’m a nice guy who just wanted to say hi…” Barf.

        He hoovered me every time he broke up with the girlfriend and my therapist believes he will try again in the future when his even newer girlfriend (2nd new supply) breaks up with him.

        After the first hoover, I was enraged and sent screenshots of his messages to me to the girlfriend. He said they broke up but he’s such a liar. And honestly? I want to put him in the hot seat with her. Whether he was lying or not. In hindsight, not a classy move on my part. But I acknowledge my bad.

        After the 3 hour conversation, he tried to maintain contact the rest of the week, with the aim of being friends, but again, something fishy was going on, and I wasn’t really interested in being friends. Found out later that he got back with girlfriend the next day but then one of his kids blabbed to her that he had been on the phone with me for hours and she dumped him for good.

        Then commenced a MAJOR hoover, where he phoned me 10 x in 5 hours begging me to “come for tea, let’s talk, can’t we be friends, etc”. I messaged him once telling him to stop that how dare he even ask for that knowing how destroyed I had been over his behaviour and that our 3 hour conversation had told me everything I need to know about him and he has my “permission to move forward without me… ” (he was always threatening to “move on” if I didn’t reconcile with him, which was code for troll on POF for new victims…)

        I had to go to work after that and proceeded to have a major anxiety attack and cried the whole car ride there. Then shame that he still had the ability to make ME feel bad for shutting him down.

        You forget all the old feelings that emerge when you are NC and then talk to them. It left me emotionally exhausted for days.

        And as a post note: he found someone on POF like 2 days later and they are together now. She could be my twin – she looks just like me.
        So his games continue but I have removed myself and I am no longer friends with his exwife (again) so I don’t have to hear their continuous life updates. He hasn’t changed and is still the same shitty human being with no conscience.

  • I too had to do a massive purge. I tried many many times with the family to re-engage with healthier boundaries. I regret every time. I have no hatred or grudges. But I am at peace with the choices I have made learned through a lot of Chump-dom and pain. We can love people who are very toxic to us and it’s sad, but necessary to be true to and protect yourself – especially after the ones who are supposed to love and protect you are simply incapable. Sometimes, the truth hurts.
    I struggle very much with my daughters, 12 & 14 however when they just can’t understand. They have been brutally discarded by their father, ignored by his family, and endured the aftermath of the family fall-out. They think I’m angry and a hypocrite. All I can do is carry on and be the best parent possible.
    I do ALL of the parenting. And I can personally attest to NC being possible with a Fuckwit ‘coparent.’ After sic-ing a blood-sucking viper of an attorney on me for years, accusing me of ‘parental alienation’ after discarding them like used gum wrappers and not even answering phone calls or texts for a year, destroying the family and our finances, I can’t guarantee if I were within arms length, I’d be able to keep my fingernails out of his jugular.
    He picks-up curb-side every other Saturday from out of state and watches tv on my parents’ couch with them. I never get more texts from them than on those Saturdays.
    Still I’ve lost a cheater and my family. I’m slowly gaining a life and trying to model mighty for my girls (it’s a slow process but I’m outa the mire.)
    While no contact (except through lawyers) is firmly established with Lord Douchebag, I still get hoovered, and have allowed guilt(?) to get the best of me with some of the family – as recently as last week. It never ceases to be a destructive shit-show. I hate that it reflects poorly on me in some ways. “JerseyChump – your parents/brother/sister really love you and want the best for you and want to help and support you, do it for your girls blah blah blah.” How can I be so cold as to ‘cut off’ my family?
    I’m still a chump. Live and learn.

  • I am not having trouble maintaining No Contact as once he hooked up with his work subordinate, my last partner completely shut me out of his life and erased any evidence that he and I even knew each other in spite of having known each other for 30 years. What I really struggle with is ‘going No Contact in my head.’ My last partner and probably to some degree my first partner who I was with for many years as a teenager/young adult are firmly entrenched in my mind. This would be ok if thinking of them made me happy, peaceful, etc., but it’s not, as thinking of them makes me very unhappy, angry, and despair of life.
    Super busy, but these exes/bad relationships still dominate my thoughts.

    • Here’s a big virtual hug back to you RSW! You need one today. The less I think of him or our marriage, the better off I am. Today is cry-free and I intend for it to stay that way. Staying busy is key for me.

    • I have the same issue RSW. Thoughts of my ex and our relationship dominate my mind daily. This morning I wondered if maybe I treat these thoughts as I do any thought while I am meditating. When a thought of my ex comes into my head, I acknowledge it, feel the emotion for a second, recognize it for what it is and then release it. Hopefully this will break me out of the negative downward spiral that usually ensues.

      • Thanks, Ms. Bailey and Cancer Chump. Going to try tand keep reminding myself that the world needs more ‘unlikely’ heroes–might as well be me–so that I reduce my rumination over my exes, especially last one. He doesn’t deserve al that real estate in my head, and I don’t deserve the trauma of him being there. His occupation is preventing me from doing Good in the world as it (the occupation) is negative, distracting, tiring.

  • I admit, my journey to Zero Contact took a while. For 6 months following D-Day, we were in counseling so saw each other weekly. He also came to the house regularly to mow the grass, look over the bills, and make the occasional repair. During this time, I was enthusiastically smoking the hopium pipe and really believed reconciliation was possible; I thought our 40-year history was enough to bring him home for good.

    Nope. The pull of his married Howorker was just too strong.

    Once he bailed out of counseling and said he wanted a divorce, we both lawyered up and I went Grey Rock. I told him no phone calIs, texting or face-to-face meetings; I’d only communicate by email if absolutely necessary. As often as possible, I responded to his lengthy emails with a cryptic Yes or No.

    A year later, I initiated Zero Contact; I saw no need to continue direct communication and our attorneys were doing fine without us. Still, he continued to mail me cards for Mother’s Day, Christmas, my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and yes, even our wedding anniversary; they promptly went in the trash. I kept showing him that I’d turned off his kibble supply, but he kept testing me to see if I meant it.

    Now, 4 1/2 years later, I’m still Zero Contact and the decision to stick with it no matter what has made my life better in all respects. There were only 2 occasions on which I was forced to relent: in divorce court (hard to avoid him there) and at our son’s wedding (we sat next to each other during the ceremony). ZC truly is the best way to disengage from the mindfuckery, stop the abuse, heal and move forward, and like any new habit, the longer you do it, the easier it gets. TRUST THE PROCESS!

  • I love the Australian shepherd example. I can just see this poor dog going crazy every day when the mail comes!

    • Mine definitely had the self pity thing all along. For years I believed that maybe the universe was conspiring against him and I wanted to be at least one thing in his life that was going right. After a while I started to wonder why he was still unhappy when it seemed to me that he had overcome any previous challenges and life was going pretty good for him. Towards the end I found his self pity really annoying as most of his problems seemed to me to be self-inflicted. It turns out he had decided that I was the cause of all of his misery and it was my fault his life didn’t live up to his fantasies. Even at my most heartbroken and chumpy I didn’t accept that level of blame. That is part of what kept me from bailing sooner. His assertions were so totally ludicrous I figured it must be temporary insanity and if I waited it out he would eventually come to his senses. Nope. That would require humility, getting over his self pity and admitting to being wrong.

      • I had the perpetually unhappy cheater, too. I couldn’t figure out why he was so unhappy/miserable. We had everything going for us – a nice home, plenty of money, lots of fun vacations, great jobs. But in our 10 years together, he had 6 different jobs. Seemed to never be satisfied. Disordered, is the only thing I can come up with.

    • OMG, my ex was always complaining about something. He worked hard and nothing to show for it. Or he had no friends because they were takers. He complained about work constantly, every day somebody made his life difficult.

      I reminded him during the divorce process that we had a nice home, he had two wonderfu adult children (my stepkids), two sisters, and a high-paying jobs that had allowed him to take many hunting trips across the U.S. and into Canada, a man room filled with all his bows, arrows and tools.

      I told him that happiness doesn’t come wafting through the air where you can reach out and grab it. Be happy you dumb SOB!!! Be grateful for what you have. It could be a hell of lot worse.

      None of this was true.

      • I can’t type today. This is all true. None of this mattered to him. I have no idea what the hell he was even looking for but it wasn’t with staying with me.

        • Mine was always full of self-pity too despite the fact that we had two lovely boys, good jobs and a lovely home in the alps. I swear if I ever hear “it’s all right for you” ever again I’ll smack him in the gob with a brick!

  • After reading CL’s advice on No Contact in 2012, SIX years after DDay and finally getting the divorce done, I discovered that I needed a visual picture in my mind to remind me of why No Contact was the best choice. I pictured the Robert Frost “Two roads diverged into a yellow wood” image in my mind. I made the conscious decision that I was not on the same path with him anymore. I knew that even if the paths had run parallel, mine was the reality and his was the fantasy.

    If I tried (and I did!) to have contact (because of the kids and financial matters LOL) then I was allowing his crazy version of reality to gaslight me once again. In his version, I was always at fault and he was the great guy who needed multiple affair partners over a 33 year marriage because I wasn’t good enough. I found out the hard way that if I even looked down his path, I got confused, anguished, and hit bottom. So for my own survival, I went back to NC. And the paths diverged and I could no longer see him and his path. And I no longer care. My path is reality. My path is sanity. My path is meh and happiness.

    • Thanks for the image, Meg. I need to remind myself that although I thought that I had found my life partner/Kind Kindred Spirit and we were on the same path heading the same way, we might never have been on the same path as we deep down held different values. goals, and interests. And when I learned that he had repeatedly lied to me over years, tried to conceal his lies and then made sorry excuses for his lies (even after he last discarded me). I couldn’t look at the man I had deeply loved and was willing to sacrifice my life for–I couldn’t respect someone who knew how much I cared about him for years yet behaved unethically, indifferently/cruelly for his own gain and thought that I was stupid enough to believe his outrageous lies (an insult to my intelligence, heck even to the intelligence of a five-year-old!). I could no longer kid myself that he was a trustworthy, ethical person who cared even one iota about me.

  • And about the analogy of the dogs and the mailman: I remember reading once in an Agatha Christie novel, Miss Marple said that dogs always bark at the mailman because he/she is the person that comes to the door daily but no one ever lets them in. They are always the bad stranger that the house must be protected against. So the dogs bark and warn them to keep away.. or else!

    My neighbor once was sued by the mailman after her dog bit him through the mail slot. He got a $2000 settlement. She and I tried to picture how his fingers were even somehow inside the mail slot. Really? But going with this analogy further- don’t have contact or you’ll get bitten!

  • I finally had to set a different notification sound for exh2’s texts, because every time my phone would ding, my heart jumped and I would get nauseous feeling in my stomach – it was like Pavlov’s damn dog with a psycho twist. That helped me tremendously.

    The only email I told him he could email me with is my workplace email, knowing that it is highly monitored.

    His calls are sent straight to voicemail.

    At first (3 years ago), it drive him nuts that he couldn’t get me on the phone, so he would use DD exchanges to blow up on me or try to talk to me, but I held onto grey rock as best I could or I bring a friend which keeps him in check.

    I have one friend that I call the (Evil One) whisperer. She’s able to reply to his bullshit texts that shuts him up, or when she’s with me at exchanges, she does more of the talking.

    I remember back when I started enforcing boundaries or at the beginning stages of the grey rock, he would question me with, “why the cold shoulder? You sound so business-like…” I would respond back then, which gave him kibbles, so I just refused to reply or respond to him, which riled him up more.

    Nowadays I don’t have any contact with him or Mrs. Dumbass except at DD exchanges. I have tried all summer to make it to where I wouldn’t have see them at all, but for some reason, they haven’t dropped DD off at school on Mondays, so I have to meet up with him or her. Ugh. At least summer is almost over and we’ll go back to every other weekend only.

  • I needed this post today. I dropped my kids off this morning for an extended visitation with my STBX, per our temporary orders. Almost two weeks away from my babies. Before my life imploded last year at D-Day, I’d never spent more than two nights away from them, and then only rarely. Now I’m sending them off for twelve, with someone I don’t trust, and it hurts, and it’s just so goddamn unfair.

    I almost broke Grey Rock this morning after I dropped them off. He is in peak Sad Sausage mode, so he put on his most pathetic puppy dog eyes while hugged the kids goodbye. I so wanted to call or text him afterward and tell him how much I hate his pitiful pouty face, and how much this hurts, and how angry I am.

    I didn’t. Because I know it would only feed the beast. And because I know he doesn’t really give a flying fuck about me, despite his pitiful appearance. So, that’s my victory for today.

  • Embarrassing as it is to realize in retrospect, one big factor for me was fear. I was afraid to answer his calls, texts, or emails, but equally afraid to ignore them. Oh, I had been very thoroughly trained to try to escape the wrath even while understanding to my very bone marrow that it was inescapable.

    When I started NC, my stomach actually hurt every time I ignored him. Ultimately, blocking entirely was better, but I can confess, now, that I’m still not entirely free of that learned, instant, fear response.

    I look back on my posts here and see how often I have mentioned being overcome by burning, churning anxiety. It’s interesting how utterly real those physical manifestations of fear can be.

    Still working on this one, and wil be fo awhile. Facing every new threat this divorce hurls at me, and learning very gradually how to operate not without fear but despite it.

    Interestingly, coming to understand how deeply I feared him has played a key role in the process of getting free. Good gosh! I was like a beaten dog afraid to stay, afraid to leave, just spun of fear, through and through.

    It amazes me, and it helps me understand the plight of battered partners in a much deeper, more compassionate way. Abuse comes in many insidious forms–so very many.

    • I am so sorry Cashmere. I lived with a terrifying man too and any communication with him during the divorce, left me shaking. I am 7 years out, and my neurology is just settling down. His wrath and my fear impacted everything about my life. It bled into many, maybe all aspects of my life. Because he would threaten to leave me and take the kids, I had this inchoate fear at my work that disaster could befall me and I would be utterly stuck. It made me worry that if I didn’t acquiesce to the normal boundary-pushing things teens want to do, they would side with my X and go with him when he threatened. And indeed that was a threat used by my oldest daughter. When I had shitty friends, I didn’t just walk away, because I was always worried I would need the support because if my XH threats, even though they were shitty friends. When you combine this social isolation, it leaves you with a level of anxiety that permeates everything. I am to see my therapist on Friday for my monthly tuneup, and we are going to talk about this. How I feel that the world is so open and so welcoming, that my fear that ‘no se la trago la tierra’ and the earth would swallow me, has gone. Just gone. I finally feel like no matter what life throws at me, I have the skills, character, ingenuity and friends and family to help and support me. I get a little resentful about how this a$$ robbed me of my potential in life, but I lived, my kids are also coming down from this crazy hell too. Even my oldest daughter, who was his fav and vice versa, is settling down too. He is off with Slunty and barely communicates with them, for which we should all be grateful. Do your best to go no contact, get rid of anyone who doesn’t have your back. Open up that space in your world, you will be surprised at the kind of wonderful people who find their way to you. Hugs, Ring’n

    • Cashmere, and all others…..thank you. I feel every time I see STBX that I did something wrong and I have to make things right and fix things. I am always afraid that I will set him off. I truly feel sick to my stomach and I have to to keep remembering ALL of his lies. He still looks like the husband I was married to for 33 yrs but he is still trying to make himself look good and keep up appearances. He is still involved with the neighbor and it is still upsetting that he is getting a free pass in the neighborhood.
      I have to keep busy so I don’t revert back to my CHUMP self and I know that I deserve so much more.

  • I’ll especially attest to #2! I noticed that centrality thing after the separation – my X moved out and to a different city 2 months before our divorce was finalized. In our state, there used to be a 3 month waiting period from filing to finalization. Anyhow, we had some contact regarding finances and such in that timeframe and some contact after that timeframe too.

    X would want to talk on the phone and do what he always did which was corner me with his sparkles. Once the game was up it was much easier to see what was really going on in our relationship and his tactics held no water. The #1 thing that alerted me to this when we would talk on the phone during the separation was that he had a lot to say about himself and then at the end of his long sob story, he would ask how I was doing. Once I got a short sentence out, he would say, “Well, I guess I better let you go. I’ve go so and so to get done and yadda yadda to take care of.” He didn’t want to hear a single word about how I was doing, because he really didn’t care.

    Unless it has something to do with them and continues to make them central, they really don’t care. They don’t want to be burdened with your troubles or successes, but it’s perfectly fine to tell you about their’s.

    • I would call the ex for something and before I even got out what I needed, he would be rambling on and on about how someone had done him wrong today. Uh, I called you, maybe I had something to say or ask? It was never-ending (shaking my head at the shit I put with up over the years).

  • This is very timely for me too. In planning stages to leave serial cheaterpants who will wont admit to ANYTHING to me despite years of data I have obtained documenting his lies. It is incredibly sad and maddening. The words cognitive dissonance are exactly correct. I look at this man, who is very professionally successful and for 11 years of marriage I thought was my best friend and someone who truly loved me and our two girls, and think to myself, who the hell are you!? And because I haven’t quite been able to do the deed and have the conversation yet, I have to endure his current “charm” angle which involves him hugging me and coming on to me multiple times daily. And then sometimes he calls and wants to talk and see how I am. I just want to run out of there and thank God I have a great job and profession/ am financially independent. But I have 2 kids and the lease is in his name and my therapists think I need to mind my safety and have a more robust exit plan depending on how he responds to my request for divorce. And I must admit despite all I have found out about him (and it is a lot) I still am finding it hard to pull the plug. De-coupling is hard, letting go of love and dreams is hard, knowing he will tell the kids it is my fault, anticipating the hurt on their little faces, is so so hard. I am super sad right now, but your logic gives me strength every day. Thank you.

  • I have rats in my garage. If you didn’t know, you would walk into my garage you would think this is a tidy garage. You have to look hard for the evidence, rat turds, but if you look you will see them. But rats also piss and standing in my garage you will notice the smell, you might not know it is rat piss, but that is what it is. If you stay in the garage long enough, (trying to find the F’ing rats) you stop smelling it. But it, like the rats, like the turds are there, stinking up the place. I see this as a perfect metaphor for my life with Dr. Demento. Everything looked normal and tidy, (my hard work) but the rat turds were there and the smell. It took cleaning his shit out of my life (going no contact) for me to finally see the damage and to finally be rid of the smell. That is what mindfuckery is, it is the smell. It permeates everything. People around you get a whiff but can’t quite place the smell but they know something odd is going on. So for your health, for your sanity, get rid of your rats. And because you have lived/married with a capybara size rat, you also don’t notice the other rats in your world. Once you go no contact, you will start to smell them too. All in all, going no contact changes everything for the better.

  • My problem with no contact is the fact I’m required to communicate with my abuser EXH (over Our Family Wizard) regarding my son. I feel so angry when I read EXH messages. I want to yell, F*** YOU, you liar!” He was convicted of domestic violence in court and I have a restraining order for 4 years…. he continues to tell ME that I’m a liar. I have been trying to get a parent coordinator on board (PC) without success (it’s complicated- judge ordered one but she won’t enforce her own court order). I sent the person who was ordered to be PC a copy of the restraining order to make sure she incorporated the limits on contact in her agreement with us. Here is abuser EH’s writing to me:

    “You want me to believe that you’d like us to have a mutual PC agreement, yet you attempted to turn the presumptive PC against me by peddling your thoroughly rejected lies to her? I can only hope that her unequivocal rejection of that manipulation brings you some appreciation for the repugnance of such acts. ”

    There was no “rejection “ FYI. PC just said she needs to get paid before she does further work,

    My point is, the abuser- the man who-multiple times held me against my will, told me he’d kill me multiple times, sexually assualted me, etc.. continues to try to convince me (I guess?) that I’m lying?!?! I want to seriously unleash a verbal storm, but I don’t. This is my struggle w no contact.

    • The greater their rage, the more you know you are frustrating them. That in itself is satisfaction ; ).

    • One of the hardest things when you are in the middle of this mess is remembering that just because they say it does not make it true. The threats sound so plausible but that is just their bullying. Tempest is right, they get worse when they feel the loss of control over you and the kids. They know us because they observed us for our weakness when married, but they do not really know us because of the self centered nature of the disorder. Dig into that woman you were before them and they will stay confused.

      I was on another site and they use to tell newbies to play a game and wait 24 hours before answering any email and then write every thing you want to say and send it to a trusted friend (vent but not to them), but when answering the disordered write as few words as possible to answer the question. you can not get personal with a one word answer. The email you referenced above needs no response so just file and ignore.

      If you want to say “As we agreed, you can pick up your son at 3:30” maybe just say “Son will be ready at 3:30” or just “3:30 works” When you can get all answers down to one word usually yes or no…. you win! sounds silly but it works

  • yes- abuser EXH is successful, prominent in his field, has PHD (as do I), and cheated throughout our 14 year marriage… with his research assistants. So original!

  • I’ve been NC for the better part of 18 months and can go weeks without breaking NC. It is so much easier now!

    This: “only way you can heal from the mindfuck is to get away from the mindfuck. The single most important thing you can do to heal from infidelity is free yourself from mental slavery. (Thank you, Bob Marley.) It’s very hard to clear your head when your abuser is right in front of you pretending to be normal for entire minutes at a time. Or worse, arguing with you about how this is All Your Fault. The cognitive dissonance between the person you love, the mindfuck, and your common sense can make your head explode. No contact mutes the mindfuck radio and lets you think for yourself again.”

    I’m finally starting to think more clearly 3 years and 8 months after DDay and 3 years after GTFO day and 18 months after Divorce was finalized.

    Yesterday I fell off the NC wagon for 2 texts— it was my son’s bday and X emailed with links to family picture folders. I felt very sad. Why why why why clanged in my head looking at those happy (of so I thought) times. What a sick motherfucker to send me those — he threw it all away and we meant nothing to him.

  • I’m a newbie with three months NC and check this out- memories surface of the relationship, and my brain is “autocorrecting” to show the truth, without spackle. Example: “he bought me a Valentine’s Day gift, maybe he’s not so…EDIT: that was a guilt gift after spending the earlier part of the day with OW. Not real. Next!”
    This is what healing looks like so far…

    • Healing is looking back at April 13 when ex and I had our standing Friday night out for dinner. He ignored me and then got mad that I was upset. I didn’t find out until D-Day that he was visited a prostitute earlier in the day. WTF!!!!

  • I broke no contact today. Right before I came to this article, oh the irony.

    Fuckwit who works for the same company reached out to say good luck to me in my new job – I’m busting out of this place after I caught up cheating with married howorker, who is also leaving the company. He doesn’t reach out much, but when he does, it sends me into rage. I don’t need his luck, I don’t need his best wishes, I need him to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind me from his sociopath brain. I told him next time he thinks about contacting me to just don’t – I don’t want to hear from him ever, FOREVER. Then he writes back sorry, I just miss you so much and want to know you’re there. So yeah….don’t contact me! …then SORRY, I just did it again. You’re not sorry if you do it again – what a narc. We got into it, he flipped through the charm, then the self-pity and when I mentioned sparkletwat, he flipped to rage.

    His word for us was “forever”. He wanted to be with me forever and would say it often after I love you. The first time he ever said that to me it was while he was naked, hugging me from behind after he had just used the bathroom and he dribbled pee on me and said “forever”. I laughed at the time, like he was marking his territory in a silly way. But now that I really look back, I was nothing but a possession to him.

    My life is a thousand times better without him and I am having a friggin blast. New friends, new job and I got to keep the gorgeous condo when I threw his ass out. But these little pokes and prods to express some bullshit to me, I gotta find a way to block them forever instead of having them in spam folder!

    Stay mighty CN!

  • On my dry erase board at home I try and make helpful notes to myself that I read each morning.

    On my board I have written:

    “Let go of people who have let go of you”

    Looking back, going no contact was vital to getting free of the feelings I had for the serial cheater I was married to for twenty years. But no contact was also important in removing from life supposed “friends” who weren’t (am I’m not just talking about the ones involved with my ex-wife).

    The best thing I have ever done (besides divorcing that monster) was to remove all the toxic people from my life. It was hard, but I finally decided to fight for me and my future.

    • Something I apparently haven’t done is learn to proofread my comments sufficiently before posting them. Sorry for the typos.

    • Toxic people detox FTW! For me, it was like a domino effect. Once I decided I’d eaten my last shit sandwich from my ex and started figuring out the patterns of entitlement, remorselessness, and manipulation, I started recognizing them with lots of other people in my life – and those relationships dropped like flies! Being alone and having my own back is infinitely better than being surrounded by phony people who will stab me in a heartbeat while smiling to my face.

  • You help me feel normal, calmly explaining the basis for all the things I go through that feel so maddeningly insane to me. Thank you, CL. I am not insane and I am not broken. (And yes, agree that going NC is one of the best decisions you can make to empower yourself. 10 months out and I’m finally starting to feel more like me again, huzzah!)

  • Mine just left and never looked back Im 4 years out and I’m heartbroken never saw it coming doesn’t co parent with me just sees them every second weekend for one nite court ordered and then nothing might text the eldest to seewhats up but if I have issue or problem I’m ignored or told to get a life of my own and get a man so I can be his problem not ex’s ….. So doesn’t matter if kids are struggling or need stuff tough in all on my own really struggling

    • Big hugs Amanda. It’s shitty that you and your children are treated with such disrespect. If you haven’t already, I suggest some therapy for yourself. Probably like me, you need to take off the love glasses and see what’s really in front of you. Nothing worth having.

    • I am so sorry you are still struggling this hard four years out. No one can tell you when or where to stop hurting, but there is and has to be at an end in sight for you by now. Can you afford counseling in your area?
      You may want to watch more intensive recovery videos online. Spartan Life Coach (Granon) is one of many who helped me. A lot of content is out there for free.

    • Amanda- 3.5 years out and same here only no overnights for kids. X sees youngest 2-3 times a month for dinner. That’s it. Horrifying.

      • Thank you I’m in counsiling but he has moved on from the start left me moved straight into her house then had a baby a year later and now getting married while I’m still in counsiling trying to understand what I did or how he could just switch off and my kids are struggling and he tells me they are fine with him yeah two nites a month and he was my first been together since 16 and now I’m just so lost he left me with nothing so have to start over even four years later in still struggling I’m from Ireland

  • After finding out bits and pieces of information right before DDAY, X reprimanded me with, “why do you keep listening to what other people are saying and not ask me directly?”

    Of course, honey. If I ask, all will be resolved. LMAO.

  • No Contact really is the path to the truth and the light.

    But I hate that it’s spruiked on the net and by the RIC as a way of ‘Getting Your Man Back’ – as if it’s some cheap manipulative ploy and aphrodisiac.

    I was trying to find a handy guide to it for a girlfriend, and I had to wade through such trash!

    For me, No Contact has been the only speedy and wholesome way to heal. Quite literally NOTHING else works – the wounds fester, they get reopened, all the pain stays raw and fresh, and eventually you get hooked on the pain instead.

    It’s really worth the white-knuckle time at the beginning, to get to the clarity and peace, and you get there surprisingly fast.

  • This all rings true for me. I met my husband (not for much longer) in college. He was the love of my life, and the only man I have ever been with. This adds a whole other dimension to it all I think.

    My STBX husband is a serial cheater. Even after all the years of emotional abuse I stayed. I wanted to be with him, I wanted to make things work. I wanted to be the one! I would find out about another woman, we would fight, he would blame shift and gaslight me, then we would kind of make up, I wouldn’t leave or have any consequences. I loved any attention I would get after these episodes! I felt like I won!

    It is over now. His latest girlfriend from last December woke me up from my stupor, even though I wanted things to end the March before. I was anemic for a long time but once I got treatment – everything was clear and I knew I had to get out. I was really bad at NC in the beginning. I wanted him to know my pain, my rage and my agony and sadness. I finally realized he would never feel anything or understand how he hurt me. That was and is so hard to deal with, knowing that I cannot make him have any kind of empathy for me for all he has done.

    I have been NC for a few months now. I was really good at it last March but faltered many times. trying to figure out why he wouldn’t get help and try once more with me as I had begged him, why he would rather choose Separation than do the hard work to stay together. I haven’t looked on Social Media since mid May when he took her on vacation and bragged about it to our kids – sending them pics of just him and where he was at. I haven’t looked since then – they both have stupid Instagram and Facebook accounts. I cancelled all of mine and haven’t looked. I can’t.

    I only talk to him about the kids and bills. We are planning on mediation in the next couple of months. He is a pilot – is based in another city – he hasn’t been here to see the kids since June 1. I told him never to come live in this house again since he picked her, took her on a vacation when I never got one since our honeymoon. He moved all his stuff to a neighbors house. He stays there or at a hotel when he comes here. He also rents a car – I don’t pick him up anymore – obviously. I need to get this mediation done because now he is whining that to see the kids it costs him a lot of money for cars and hotels and he doesn’t like staying at the neighbors house – he is an old drunk with cancer – a place where he used to have escorts – we live just a couple houses down from him.

    No contact is the way to go – he cannot mind fuck me anymore, which he did constantly. Especially when he tried to justify whatever chick he was with. Even though I know it is the way to go and the only way for me to heal – I still wish for him to contact me and tell me he is so sorry and that he wants me back – or just say that he is tempted to be with me – like he did just a few months ago when he was deep in it with his girlfriend! Kibbles!!! If he did that I would feel like I won or something – but he is pretty much NC with me as well – so why do I care – I shouldn’t and I am getting to that point where I don’t care.

    I am living here with my kids – we are happy and things are calm most of the time and we have a lot of fun. Very different than when he was here!!!

    • I take hope in what you’ve written. It sounds so similar— even down to the hotels and car rentals.

      Plus I want the same thing: that he wants me back and all that. 27 years. I can’t get my head around any of it.

      But mostly I liked what your last paragraph said to me: that NC works and that peace is possible if I can just get there. That’s not “hopium”—that’s actually a real and healthy hope that life will get better. Hugs and gratitude to you.

      • Thanks Cloud!

        I’m no expert – but I do know enough that NC is where it’s at. I actually did NC in October 2017. I knew he was cheating on me, he was working out of another city as he is now – except he would still come home and want to “hang out”, have sex and pretend we were a family. But for some reason – he worked a lot that month and I was here without him. I didn’t text or call him, I or just did my thing. I worked out, got sleep, didn’t drink much, I did projects around the house, I planned a birthday party for our little one – It just felt so healthy. Then he came home the month after that and it all collapsed because I had to deal with his cheating again.

        I am still a mess like you – but as my IC said – it’s a step. Because I told him — I felt great – but there is no way that I have worked through all of it yet. My IC also said that I just need to stay on the healthy side – the opposite side that my STBX is on. Don’t chase after him. There is no way he has received a character transplant, he hasn’t been to therapy, he doesn’t feel bad for anything he has done. He is still a really messed up person. I know there is no way he is OK with any of this, He’s been away from his kids since June 1!. He sucks but I know he loves and misses his kids.

        Yes – I believe we have a better life ahead of us Cloud!!

  • Mine today was…he told our son he was bit by a German Shepherd. My son was distressed but I was like karma then I was like should I call him? Then I said no chump not ur problem anymore. Let it to the whore to make it all better! I hope it was on the crouch! Wink

  • I’m trying so hard to do grey rock /NC but it feels impossible after 27 years of marriage and 5 kids. He had 2 affairs going on at the same time and got all 3 of us to play the pick me dance for the last 18 months. He chose mistress #2 and moved in with her, and on her command (because she didn’t want to be the OW) filed. He sent me the divorce papers three days ago. He also said in an email two days ago that he’s still trying to choose and that he loves me. “Mindfuck” is such a good word.

    I repeat the mantras: trust that they suck; being them IS punishment. But wow is it hard. I have had so much anger and so much hurt I can’t even articulate it and now I just feel just gutted. Exhausted. Worthless. Pretty hopeless about the future. Definitely depressed. I sleep way way too much. I call it a good day when I get the dishes done. I don’t even remember what it feels like to be happy.

    That said, I am trusting NC to work. Hanging in there and trusting CN. This website and (the Porch folks) are the reason I AM doing the dishes and have not dropped off the edge of the earth. Thank you Tracy and everyone.

    • Oh Cloud! I know exactly how you feel! I felt
      That way so many times! I’ve been married almost 25 years to a serial cheater and I have never felt as bad as I did this past February. My STBX met his GF in December 2017. I found out of coarse. He kept flying trips to see her and then after he came home one time – he initiated a huge fight (to justify in his twisted mind his plans) Then we “made up” and slept together-he told me he was going to go to work for 4 days to give the kids peace to make extra money but he went on a two leg flight to South America to see her. Believe me – I felt like the lowest of the low. I have never felt so bad in my life.

      You will get through it. If I can – anyone can.

      Are you seeing an IC? That is key!!! Someone on your side that you can say anything to and they will understand.

      Work out! I know it seems impossible-but that was the key to my survival!

      Get support! I have reconnected with my family and an old friend-I’m not so alone anymore!

      You can do it Cloud! You had 5 kids!!!!! We are all pulling for you!

  • OMG!!!! Thank you for this. You have no idea how much your blog is relating to my life right now! Thank you!

  • Thanks to sage advice and reinforcements in kind words from the ‘nation’ last couple of meets (we have child – complex childcare in and out arrangements unavoidable) I really went Grey Rock. Very grey indeed. If my daughter was around he’d get a ‘hello’. Never a response to ‘How Are You’ or ‘Hey Guys How’s Things’ – I ignored that. If she was asleep upstairs he would come in to pick her up, I would get my stuff together for work and then just leave without a word.

    And you know what it felt weird, cause it felt plain rude. And that’s right, that doesn’t fit with my nature no matter who it is. However, were I to actually attempt to say anything akin to what I am feeling I know I will get the rage channel full blast. Or we do the ‘How Are You’/’I am fine’ crap forever and I am inwardly seething with rage thinking ‘Do you really wanna know how I am do you, do you really want to ask?’ and then also I think god it would just so please you if I would just act normal, like I’ve come to term with all this, taken my share of responsibility for all that went wrong because of course I was to blame, like a grown up, lets’ just move on and forget all that happened right and be a nice happy co-parenting family.

    Grey Rock seems weird because it’s just a bit awkward but I can already see the light. It clearly says to him, no I’m not OK but I’m not playing. You wanna talk about anything, you make the first move which you never will because you are a huge coward in all respects and you won’t and then you will say I am the one being difficult cause I haven’t fallen in with the plan.

    It’s like expressing your disdain and unhappiness without being an emotional wreck or crazy ass but also for me it’s like my wall saying what you did isn’t OK and you hurt me so much I need you at a mental arms length even if it can’t be a physical one.

    The other problem I have is people telling me, look you should try to be civil to him because he still has hold of the purse strings and could take that away or because it would be good for your daughter. Nope sorry no can do. Not right now either, I can’t be fake or as disingenuous as he clearly has been for months or probably years and I’m not quite so good at hiding my emotions away so they practically don’t exist. The fact I am not throwing knives and plates at the wall means I’m doing good so my silence is golden.

    Then he tells him mum (sad sausage) that it’s a shame comms between us is so bad. Awwww well don’t worry cause remember that’s why you spent ages with OW, cause she ‘sees you’ and ‘nourishes your soul’ so doesn’t really matter does it if we can’t communicate cause you two can always go and read some more poetry together if things are really bad. 🙂

  • >