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Courage Fairies

I got a really lovely letter yesterday from a person who hadn’t been chumped but reads here, and applied “Trust That They Suck” to a different situation — her employment.

She wrote to say that she Left a Job, and Gained a Life.

No more over-thinking every word lest it be jumped on and nitpicked! No more being minimized and blamed for someone else’s actions! I have more energy. I leave my work at work and don’t go in on weekends. I don’t drag myself home every day with enough will left to just feed my birds before going right to bed.

Apparently, hopium, frosted turds, pick me dancing are relevant in so many more ways than broken hearts. Fuckwits abound.

You know what helped? That cartoon of the turd frosted in pink icing. It looks enticing and festive… but it’s still errant feces! If it’s on my doorstep, negotiating with it doesn’t work. It stinks, potentially carries disease, and attracts flies. Kick that thing into the bushes and disinfect the doorstep!

Something that you have affirmed about behavior is that I could not change mine in any way to make my work life better because I was never the problem. That was a tough reality to confront, that I cannot fix everything, certainly not people, and my actual responsibility when caught in a fuckwit’s orbit is me, not them.

I admit, many a time I was demoralized because they were rewarded and enabled, and *I* shouldn’t have to be leaving. Consequence-free life for that trifecta of morons! And there you were again to remind me that my responsibility is to myself, that what I want out of my life and how to build it is more important and worthy of my time than plotting revenge scenarios or daydreaming about kicking fuckwits off cliffs.

“What do YOU want?” is something you frequently ask readers, and I started asking myself this question every day. My hopium pipe was the wishing and hoping and sarcastically commenting that some great comeuppance would unleash on them.

No. Didn’t matter how many times my desk was rifled through or the level of rudeness in emails – no one was keeping track of any of this in a Ledger of Life. So I put down the pipe and redirected what I was focusing on (although now I see them in my mind as those cartoons with asses instead of heads).

So she summoned her mightiness and left. And while it’s hard and scary and the money is tighter — for now — she says the sanity is worth it.

Being on the other side of some of my lowest valleys feels wonderful. And that’s just it, isn’t it? When we are slogging chin-deep in a quagmire of shit, of course everything smells and feels disgusting. Of course we forget or become unaccustomed to clean air and laying in a meadow. The shit quagmire isn’t normal, but I normalized it. I spent an ungodly amount of time telling myself that the quagmire is not that bad.

She wrote to say thanks.

You helped me sweep the fuckwits out of my life. You are a courage fairy.

— An Anonymous Fan

Aww! (sniff)

Thanks Anonymous Fan. So glad you’re on the other side. Letters like this are why I’m here — I love the mighty. And I couldn’t do it without Chump Nation and the chorus of voices and wisdom here urging everyone to be their mightiest self.

Today’s Fun Friday Challenge is to talk about your courage fairy moments that are NOT cheater related. Did you un-chump in other areas of your life? Are you avoiding frosted turds? What’s new?

TGIF! Courage fairies UNITE!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Hell yeah!

    Setting boundaries with the cheater was actually a lesson in SETTING BOUNDARIES. I use them all of the time now, in all aspects of my life…and life is so much better as a result!!

    Thank you CL and CN for helping me see the light.

    • I agree, HM. I never realised how many things I used to let slide. Since cheater left, I have discovered boundaries. And best of all, I have also started applying them in other areas of my life. I find I have zero tolerance for abuse of any kind any more. Won’t allow it. And it’s interesting, because as soon as I started applying said boundaries, I get called difficult and selfish. Whatever. Move along.

      • Oh gosh I have spent the past few days with Chump Lady’s voice in my head: “But is this acceptable to YOU?” Another thing she says very often.

        The timing on this. There have been a few Switzerland-ish friends I have loved so v dearly and have long histories with. But I too have realised my lifetime hopium pipe habit of wishing and hoping for something more – not just with my ex but so many other relationships. If I could just be better at fill-the-blank they’d care more – I can wish and hope us closer, I can!!! Wish harder! Hope harder!

        Are non-reciprocal relationships acceptable to me any more? Is feeling constantly like I am inadequate acceptable any more? No. No. Noooooooo.

        CSMGB, I’ll be building my “selfish and difficult” reputation too. But I won’t be around those people any more – so I don’t care!!! I’m busy gaining a life.

        • Selfish meaning I take care of myself and don’t let mean people hurt me consequence free? I can accept that.

          Difficult meaning it’s difficult for mean people to hurt me consequence free? I can accept that too.

          Them: “You’re selfish.” “You’re difficult.”

          Me: “With you, yes, I am. With you, it’s necessary.”

      • “The only people who get upset about you setting boundaries are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.” – Unknown

      • People who are used to you having no boundaries or porous ones will of course find you “difficult and selfish” when they want you to be “easy to manipulate” and “without a self.” It’s not selfish to have boundaries. It’s self care.

      • we have heard it often-when you are in trouble you find out who your true friends are. Yes, indeed. A cancer diagnosis. Serious enough, and now much worse, stage 4. So many that I did much for, gone. Some I kicked out-for example-a ‘friend called early on with this opening missive-“Tell me quick, how are you, I’m very busy.” That ended her. Another, who had offered nothing, but then tried to get thru some construction to pickup a free power washer I was giving away, upset because the construction traffic blocked her. Telling me, “my husband won’t buy me a power washer”, although he buys her trips, a vacation home in Wisconsin and she is one of those shopperholics. Of course my husband won’t buy me a power-washer either, considering my long widowhood, to hear this from someone-was the end for me with that person too, and for whom I had done a yeoman’s job reducing her real estate taxes, no charge, I just share my significant knowledge with the corrupt system in Cook County Illinois. And then the person who used to drive by my home on her way to and from work. Her husband worked at night, so almost everyday she would stop by for dinner. Her last contact occurred when I was showing all indications of a major reoccurrence-nothing since, to even find out how I am. Then one who real estate taxes I just saved $3000, from what she will pay on August 1, 2019. She calls, asks if I need anything. I say, “milk”. She says nothing. Our conversation concludes a few minutes later, with her saying, “call me if you need anything.” But still, there are those who surprise you-there for anything. Calling to check on you, feed you, change sheets. Taking you for chemo infusions. Feeding you, because you are not eating. Taking you to get whatever you need. Yes, I set my boundaries. I see how I was a chump in just my daily life. I am chump no more to or for anyone.

    • Me too!! Thank you CL and I have struggled with boundary issues all my life. I grew up in church and was taught to be obedient and sometimes submissive in life. I look back now and realize I quietly fought back and tried to follow my passions but it was a rocky trip. I kept wanting people I loved to approve and like me. Oh yeah I am a Chump and was left in an awful way with my kiddos but I needed to learn to listen to my inner voice more. It’s still tough but I am doing it more often now!!

      • The question is who are we to submit to? Whom are we to obey?

        I’m a fairly religious an d spiritual person. But I don’t even see me “obeying” God or “submitting” to him. I see my job as staying aligned with the basic rule “love one another as you love yourself” and “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.” Those two things cover pretty much everything. They require us to love and protect ourselves—and others.

    • Me as well. I have sworn that I will NEVER be abused by anyone ever again !!

      I also will not tolerate having negative people in my life, I’ve had over 22 years of that dealing with my Ex and her family and NO MORE. Sometimes at work I will have to put up with it (mainly with customers) but they are paying me to put up with it, in my personal life NO WAY !!

  • OMG I know the feeling!

    I unchumped myself from a toxic job situation about a year ago. I loved the work I did but the management; not even sparkly turds, they were smelly turds.

    When I turned in my notice, management had secretly changed the policy without notifying the staff and attempted to hold me to a policy that was not communicated. There was a meeting in which my professional license was threatened. I point blank said, “If you don’t want this meeting to be public, you will not attempt that.” The threat had no validity, but would just make my life more aggravating. Their behavior was horrible to say the least. Before D-Day I would have took their continued abuse and would have not stood up to their threat.

    I now have a job where I work only 3 days a week, and make more money in the same profession. I love my 3 day weekends!

    • Former mafia associate, Louis Ferrante, has a chapter in his book about leaving toxic jobs and destiny which is a must read for everyone. I think the chapter is called “Throw the Dice High.” I got to hear him speak about a year ago at a leadership workshop.

  • So the cheater STBXH and I own a business together (just for today……looking for the Golden parachute….)

    The other day we are interviewing a potential assistant general manager.

    I notice that the Cheater KEEPS CHECKING HIS PHONE DURING THE INTERVIEW. The OWNER OF THE COMPANY is checking his phone during an interview!!

    There are six of us around the conference table. I catch his eye and shake my head the bare minimum discreet slightly to indicate he should stop. He sees the gesture and puts his phone away.

    At another point, as I am speaking to our candidate, he starts TALKING OVER ME AS IF I AM NOT SPEAKING. For 29 years, he has done this. For 29 years I have asked him to not talk over me. I put my hand up and said “hold on…I’m not finished.”

    After the interview he was lying in wait for me (pun intended!!) outside the conference room….guess what’s coming, Chumps!

    The problem was NOT him checking his phone but MY GESTURE indicating he should stop!

    And I interrupted HIM!!!! (No, I didn’t. Upon further questioning? “Well, I had paused and wasn’t finished talking!”)

    Yes, Chumps, the cheaters emotional immaturity and broken moral compass spill over into all of their affairs, not just the sexual kind.

  • All of the boundary enforcement work I did (and continue to do) with KK is manifesting itself in an unfortunate situation within my immediate family.

    My mother (77) is having trouble with my youngest sister over some housing issues and it’s caused her a lot of ongoing grief. (I was very close to this sister when she was very young, but in adulthood I’m sensing a lot of the same entitlement characteristics exhibited by KK.)

    In her venting sessions, I’ve parroted to my mother a lot of the same lessons I’ve learned via CN, even so far as saying to her: “Mum, she’s 42 — it’s not your job untangle her skein of fuckedupedness.”

    So sad that those lessons sometimes have to be applied to those we cherish, but we all know the cost of not doing so.

    • I’ve had to have similar conversations with my almost 90 year old Grandmother about her 55 year old son, who is an alcoholic narcissist. My grandmother for the first time did put her foot down and set a boundary with him, when he was asking to move in with her because he can’t afford to pay his $700 rent (previously paid for by my aunt for the last 5 years). She finally told him “no”. But it still doesn’t stop her from making excuses for him, as to why he is only a greeter at a bass pro shop and can’t find another job because his hours as a greeter change every week, and if he told them he needed set hours, he might get fired from his greeter job, so that is why he can only have the one job as a greeter…

      • Nope, definitely! This is happening for me, too, except I use the strategies *on* my mother, who is 79 and an epic hoarder (CL–you have helped me in more ways than one! Thank you for connecting those dots that were so hard for me to see.). Siblings, thank goodness, all have their issues but are much clearer about boundaries and straight talk in the Chump Nation style.

        I did this, too, in my professional life. I left a very well-paying prestigious full time job with perks in my industry, a stepping stone to power and greatness… for a short-term, low-paying, part-time gig with no prospects. I could not take the feeling of being on display for nitpicking a second longer and hated being blamed for things I couldn’t actually control. Oh, and the bonus of long hours away from my family, which I cared so much about being present for.

        Years later, what happened? No, I did not starve or become destitute and useless to society. Instead, I got the exact career and life I wanted, on my terms, with flexibility and plenty of time for family, doing what I actually love and am good at, and which has and is now paid for the life that I think is worth living and gained me the respect of (and some awesome support from) colleagues that I feel lucky to work with. Leaving that awful job is one of the things I count as laying the groundwork to be mighty and kick X the AO out.

        I think CL has made this point previously about not being chumped in one’s volunteer work, too (which is a boundary I need to get better at).

        Look around–there’s always something that could use less spackling and more healthy boundaries.

        Also, love love love the term “courage fairy”!!! Yay! Happy weekend everyone, and don’t forget to thank all the courage fairies your lives!

  • I set boundaries with my( undiagnosed) mentally ill sister. Her daughter and I attempted an intervention to get her into a hospital because she was living in her car. She ran right to—my ex narc, describing their relationship as “close”. I said oh hell no, you don’t get to be his flying monkey. I refused to speak to her while she was in his slut’s house. She left. She has a room now and we speak on occasion but I refuse to tell her much about my life. The trust is broken. It’s sad but I am firm. I just pray she gets the help she needs.

  • I went very low contact with my surviving family, they don’t bring anything positive into my life.

    They’re the kind of people who make unspoken rules, don’t tell you about them, hold a grudge when you break them, and say “well if you don’t understand what you did wrong, I don’t know how you could possibly be sorry for it” when you ask why they’re giving you the cold shoulder.

    They’re toxic fuckwits and I gave myself permission to avoid them.

    • Yep I’ve got this going on currently with my sister and niece!! My young adult kiddos are experiencing it now and are shocked and in disbelief. They’ve figured their fuckwit father and his schmoopie out as shitty people some time ago but now to see my family do this is so disheartening. I got my chumpiness from my FOO though so yeah, I’m not shocked at all.

    • I also try to live by my CL credo of the question: “But is this acceptable to YOU?” It’s amazing how many relationships and situations are not. With toxic family siblings, I have gone low contact, or in the case of two, no contact. It’s so much better now. Sister is a meth addict criminal— not my monkey. Brother is angry and bitter about the way his life is going from consequences of his actions, jealous of my success, and super selfish — not my monkey. My middle daughter can be cruel and lies— I redirect and pray she grows up.

      Work is a whole other can of worms where I’m still stuck with narcissists in a very toxic, dysfunctional group. However, I had my fifth round of interviews with another company this week and continue to save money in case I get the guts to simply quit without another job. Fear of financial insecurity is keeping me stuck and I’m working on that daily.

  • Yes, CL is a lesson in SETTING BOUNDARIES, you are exactly right.

    About 8 months after cheater exhole left, I was going to purchase a property with a really “nice” business partner.

    He literally pulled the rug out from under me (in the nicest way), 20 days after we closed on the property. Shocked the living daylights out of me. I had a conversation with him, tears included, explaining about how much this screwed my family. Didn’t change anything even though he was “so kind” during our talk.

    Four months later he wanted to talk with me about the property. He asked a chaplain to meet with both of us “because he felt bad about how this all happened”. Reminded me 5 times to make sure I showed up. Why the change of heart? Turns out he found out there was a big time drug dealer living next door that wasn’t going anywhere, and only two units could be built not four. And he was trying to get me to buy the property from him.

    lol. NO.

    His jaw was on the floor when he finally asked the question and I said no. He knew how much I had wanted to do that project and there I was saying NO without blinking.

    I looked at the chaplain and explained that we are fundamentally different. “Dickhead biz partner saw the numbers of the project and decided to offload me his partner, that’s how he does business. When I see that numbers don’t work, I figure out how to change the plans, restructure the project or offload the property, I don’t offload my business partners. I value people and relationships and he values math. We have different values and so for that reason, this will just never work.” She looked at me silently, he looked at me silently….and I excused myself from the meeting.

    Never heard from him again.

    Boundaries chumps, boundaries.

    • Oooh super mighty you are. And he is an ass for covering the turd of betrayal with the pink icing of niceness. and to have a Chaplain there help you swallow the frosted turd…nasty.

  • I live in a city where I have no family, nearest family is a 8 hour drive away. I rely on my close group of girlfriends, who I think of as family. They are women I can call on in need. There was 1 “friend” who hadn’t been so great, in fact she had been awful to me, really awful (called me out of the blue, crying and shouting at me, accusing me of some really weird random stuff.) The calls left me shaken and in tears.

    How could she say horrible things? We were friends? She was in my tribe? My other friends rallied around me, they said she was so far out of line, and after my chumpy year, and awful divorce, I needed to eliminate drama-people from my life. But I gave her another chance, and she acted like nothing happened. 4 months later, she does something similar again. I was getting groceries and my phone started blowing up with texts from her, again making wild accusations. Her accusations? She’s been looking for work for over 3 years (yep that’s right 3) and I had a good contact at a great company. My contact knew I had a friend looking for work, in a particular field. My contact, being very kind and considerate, noticed a job posting that might be a great fit at his company. He emailed it to me. I forwarded the email to her. That was my great offence.

    Apparently she thought the job was too “junior” and “low” and the very act of me even forwarding it to her was highly highly offensive. And she called me to tell me (shout at me).

    I should just say here, she and I work in different fields, and I don’t have any idea what an offensive job posting looks like in her field. My friend who forwarded the email to me, also didn’t know. Hey, it was a good paying job at a great company with benefits. That’s all we knew.

    I simply forwarded the email to her, saying “hey thought this might interest you, if you want to apply, my friend at the company can deliver your resume to the hiring manager”. That was it!

    So later when she called me to scream and shout and rant and raved about how incredibly insulting I was, she threw in a “i guess your divorce is really impacting your judgement and figured that’s why you couldnt see how insulting that was”.

    I was literally in tears, as she shredded me some more. I was really upset, called another friend for support, and she said, that woman is toxic. She’s abusive. She’s abusing your friendship, and you don’t deserve this. Block that bitch!

    I blocked the bitch and it was terrifying. Like I said, I thought I had a tight group of friends that I could rely on since I have no family here. She’s been blocked for 2 months and I don’t miss her. I actually find it peaceful. Because I can see now how much drama she brought into my life. She wasn’t a real friend; had to get my courage together to remove her.

    • There’s something wrong with that woman. Every job expert knows that networking is very important. She could have mad a connection to your contact and then had yet another way to get the job she wanted. So stupid, rude, ungrateful.

      • Thank you! I really had the best intentions, and I think networking is so important. When I told her i never imagined a job email would be so “insulting” she said “yeah i knew you would plead ignorance, but we both know what you actually meant and you meant to insult me”.

        I look back at it now as some gaslighting attempts. It made me ask myself was that my real intention? Was I insulting and not trying to be helpful? I couldnt even wrap my head around it. At worst, she could have just said “thanks” to my email and just ignored it. But she didnt and she ranted on about the ways I could “actually be helpful” by only sending her job postings that were meaningful and offered career growth opportunities.

        It was off the charts, a bizarre conversation. In the end I’m glad she never made a connection with my job contact. If she’s that crazy woth me, I would hate to think of how she could behave on the job, and I dont need that kind of embarrassment attached to my referral.

        • Some dysfunctional (by the way, that woman is bat shit crazy) people will look for insults and or create an insult if need be. It’s just an excuse to tear into you for whatever reason. I’m sorry but she sees you as a punching bag. Imagine working with someone like her? There is damn good reason she hasn’t been able to land a job for the past 3 years, especially in this economy. Some narcs interview really well but I’m guessing she is not getting past the first interview.
          If you run into this woman, I’d give it to her with both barrels or just laugh at her, they hate it when you laugh in a demeaning way.

  • Yep…me too at work. Been working for a large organization after being out of work for six years, chumped two years ago and divorced in Feb. Pulled myself together and got a job earlier this year only to find I was being micro managed and I crumbled. Organization got in a person to evaluate my work and this lady told me (her words) “these people are not your tribe”. Quit my job and picked up another one in three weeks. In twelve days of working for the new organization I was promoted to the manager level I was six years ago. It’s only week 4 for me and this week I closed off a major account which was approved in the first approach. Others tell me it is very rare Yep, I’ve found my tribe and they let me do what I’ve been hired to do. I’m like a pig in mud at 58! Wooo hoooo!

    • Super mighty! And a fixed picker in the work arena is a thing of beauty too–Congratulations!!

    • This is probably a really stupid example and really small scale. Today I was in the city centre and got the bus home. Approaching my stop, I get up, press the bell and start walking up to the door. The driver jams on the brakes for whatever reason. I fly forward and in an attempt to save my newly fused wrist from being broken, I hook my arm around a pole, which resulted in me swinging around. I accidentally stepped on a ladies foot as I tried to steady myself. I apologised profusely. She went mad. Shouting at me. In the past I burst into tears and run away. Today, I stood my ground, looked her dead in the face, said firmly “it was an accident, not deliberate” and she sat down with her mouth open. As chump lady says “shut that shit down”

      • Congrats ! Setting boundaries can be a small act or an epic takedown. I don’t see this as a stupid example.

      • Love this example – it’s these little moments that create a life. Being calm, truthful and strong – that’s the goal!

    • Great! And what a powerful thing for that evaluator to recognize that you weren’t in the best place to succeed.

  • I left a very toxic, high stress job that had ridiculous levels of travel. My peers were mostly functional alcoholics- an assortment of angry former high school wrestler men (they were a bunch of short angry fireplugs) who thought they were still on the competition mat. I banged my head on the wall for 6 years trying to be “the good one” while they ran rampant like they were at a frat house. It was really difficult for me and their ethics were not a match to mine. It was killing me slowly and had I stayed I would have had a heart attack or other illness.

    I quit this spring. Done.

    After a while decided to take a much less stress job with no company cell phone required. I am developing my life outside of work and hope that by being out in the world I might meet a potential partner.

    This change was absolutely my exercising my mighty and recognizing that they suck, they will always suck, and all I can do is change my own situation.

    • Oh gosh, yes, this was exactly like the toxic place I left (that I mentioned above)–one of my first impressions of the place was tat everyone drank like crazy. I don’t drink very much and had generally worked for places with similar people. Toxic-job-colleagues thought they were being fun and partying hard and bonding as office mates, and I thought–yikes! don’t you people have real lives? What are you running from? Turns out, one thing was the workplace itself… and as noted above, I soon ran from it, too, only not through drinking!

      So glad you got out of this, Now I.C.–have fun working on your life outside of work!

  • I am using ALL of the boundaries I gained when I left the cheater and gained a life (he cheated on me with Budweiser, who I also refer to as his ugly German girlfriend. But I digress). I use them with my family, who are mostly supportive but occasionally dysfunctional. And I used them to leave a toxic work environment 4 months ago. I haven’t found work yet, but I am able to take better care of my health (including getting much-needed therapy) and also my fiance’s autistic grandson.

    So all in all the “leave a cheater, gain a life (and some boundaries)” can apply in a multitude of ways! Thankful for Chump Lady and CN, and have referred MANY people to you all!

  • Years ago, I worked for a corrupt administrator, a pathological liar and profligate spender. He and his flying monkeys threatened my livelihood and punished in myriad ways anyone strong enough to threaten him. He went after my job more than once. I was one of a few people who put together a strategy to force him to resign. Like filing for divorce from an abuser, it was about standing up instead of hunkering down. There is always risk when we stand up to abuse. I’ve never had issues about protecting myself and others at work. It took me a lot longer to value my “real” life enough to fight for my sanity and happiness.

    • “a corrupt administrator, a pathological liar and profligate spender” — first glance, thought you were talking about 3 people. Nope, just one man. Oh boy. Triple winner, chicken dinner! You were all mighty for standing up to a disordered boss.

      • Yeah. One person, with a lot of power. And an entourage of flying monkeys!

  • There are a lot of parallels between romantic relationships and jobs. Applying and hiring, quitting and firing. It is a lot like dating. Then there are the work relationships with different people having to interact with each other. I too have found myself in a number of abusive job situations over the years. Somehow, however, I have always found it easier to leave abusive jobs, even without another one lined up, than to leave my cheating husband. I guess I have more confidence in my ability to find jobs than my ability to find a life partner. I have left jobs involving sexual harassment, bouncy paychecks, being sent into dangerous situations, and supervisors who were just plain stupid. I had one job where two people were fighting over who was really my boss and they were giving me conflicting instructions and threatening to have me fired for insubordination if I didn’t follow theirs.

    My last job before my current one, I had a boss who was very harsh. There were never compliments for a job well done but plenty of blame and criticism for any mistake. He also complained that I was too meticulous and slow and that cost him money. Between him and my devaluing husband at home is it any wonder that my self-esteem was at an all time low? I stayed because the work was interesting and I would sometimes get praise from the actual clients for whom the work was being done. I also thought it was ok that he treated me poorly because he treated everyone else just as badly. I worked in a male dominated environment and that’s just how they treat each other right? I’m just one of the guys and that’s good right? Ironically, the thing that finally got me thinking seriously about leaving was the way he treated another employee. The office manager was a woman who had been working for him for years as his right hand woman. He could not have run the place without her. When she got cancer I heard him yell at her one morning for not being around to answer calls because she was at chemo and was coming in late. Her sessions were prearranged and ok’s by him and she picked the least conflicting time she possibly could. At that point I had to ask myself if I really wanted to continue working for someone like that. My husband wanting to move across the country to a different state actually gave me a good opportunity to change jobs in a way that allowed me to leave on relatively good terms. I was surprised when I told the boss/owner that I was leaving. He seemed honestly disappointed to see me go. One of our vendors was wondering aloud how my boss was going to get by without me as apparently the man had nothing but praise for me to others when I wasn’t around to hear it. From the way I was treated I had expected veiled relief.

    I love my current employer. I am glad I was working here when my marriage blew up. They were very supportive and understanding of my situation and did their best to adjust my workload to match my ability in my addled state for a few months until I was able to fully function again.

  • I have unchumped myself in regard to accepting criticism on my personal decisions. What I’ve realized is that some people just love to poke holes in my plans, while offering no alternative ideas.

    Recently, I announced I was going to move. I had set up some online work that would hold us over until I found a better job in the new place. I had a nice, cheap property ready, and I knew people in the new area. My kids were excited and ready to go.

    Acquaintance: “Are you sure you are doing the right thing? It just seems so unwise”.

    No alternate plan, just “are you sure you are doing the right thing.”

    Previously, that would have really rattled me, and I would have maybe gone back on the whole thing or at least agonized about it a lot.

    But I finally saw it for what it was: Interference by someone who had no idea what they were talking about and offered no alternate suggestions.

    I just responded, “Are any of us ever really sure we are doing the right thing in any decision we make? Of course not. But I’m ready to take the chance.”

    And I did. And I found a new job that I’m excited about, and the kids love it here. So far, no regrets. But even if it had been a mistake, I want to learn to forgive myself for not being psychic enough to predict the outcome of everything ahead of time. We take risks, and sometimes we fail and sometimes we succeed. It’s okay.

    • I am learning this lesson as well. I need to trust myself. I didn’t want to be that arrogant person who always assumed I was right and everybody else was wrong, but I took it too far in the other direction. I have gotten myself in more trouble over the years by assuming that other people know better than I. It turns out that I am right most of the time darn it. I need to learn to trust and act on my own judgement and opinions rather than trusting others who sound so confident but don’t really know what they are talking about. Or course my finally sticking up for myself and doing things my way for a change pissed off ex and gave him another excuse to go off chasing strange. Oh well. I was still right.

  • About a year before being chomped by my STBXH I left a terrible job working for an abusive terrible boss and found my happy place at my new job. The old place was literally killing me with stress and anxiety. All because of a toxic manager. Now he has lost all of his senior people and all the mistakes he makes in the programming he has to take the blame for himself instead of shifting onto others.

    Also, shortly before STBXH left me for his howorker, I had allowed my cousin to move in to get back on her feet financially post divorce. Once she moved in she started taking over my home and making everything about herself. Taking things from my bathroom that are for personal use and acting like it is fine, moving my stuff around so I cant find anything in my own kitchen, throwing fits when I dont want to watch her crappy shows on MY TV. Then she moves her new boyfriend and his daughter into my place without talking to me. Came to a boiling point over a stupid thing and she starts to call me a bitch and a bunch of other names. In my home, that I pay for by myself. Hell no! I told her to get gone. Dont care where you go but you cant continue to squat here anymore! Since then she has been trying every manipulation, blameshift and gaslight technique that she can to get more time to stay. Nope. Her move out date is the 30th. If she doesn’t leave on her own I will have some backup here to throw her stuff out on the street!

    • About a year ago I let a ‘friend’ move into my home after she left her husband. I was charging her $400 a month for her own private room and bath. She thought that was a great deal until she moved in and hesitated writing the check to me….she said she was going to be gone one week in the month she was renting from me and thought I should reduce her rent accordingly. Um, no….I told her that as long as her stuff was here she was renting from me. Then she decides to go back to her husband because she found out he got a girlfriend nine minutes after she moved out so she had to go back and defend her ‘territory.’ Lol. She leaves and doesn’t take all of her stuff and said she would be back in a couple of months to get it. That pissed me off….my house is small and I am NOT renting storage units. She left in March and said she’d be back in June to get it all. I called and texted her several times in June about when she planned to come get it. Finally I gave her a deadline of July 31st to get her shit out of my house. She didn’t so I gave it all away…and yes all those designer size 2 clothes went to my skinniest friend. She showed up in September to pick up her stuff and I met her at the door and told her it was ALL GONE. Guess who the bitch is? Lesson learned, NO ONE is moving into my house again. Don’t need ‘friends’ like her.

      I dumped another shitty friend about a month ago. She stood me up constantly…even on my birthday! Finally I had enough of her and dumped her good and hard. I ran into her at work in the kitchen last week and ran away as fast as I could.

  • My chump experience has not only affected my relationship with my ex- it has made me more resistant to being a chump in all aspects of my life. I do not let anyone step all over me anymore on anything!!!! It’s great. It has made me unafraid to stand up for myself with friends, family and work!!!

  • Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries!

    As a people-pleaser chump, I have struggled with boundaries all my life. I never want anyone to be upset or mad, and I cannot stand to hurt anyone’s feelings. Going through this horrible experience, with the help of my amazing therapist and ChumpLady, has forced me to look critically at my actions in all of my relationships and remind myself that I matter too. My feelings matter, I MATTER. I filed for divorce from my cheater within a week of d-day, but I am also setting boundaries with family.

    I’ve had my family members on my cell phone plan for 15 years! and it’s always been a struggle to get their payments. Reminders are sent, even though bill has been due on the same day for 15 years, calls are made, and still they pay when/if they feel like it, sometimes 5-6 months behind. I finally (finally!) had enough and set that boundary. They were given 30 days to make other arrangements and pay me back cause the phones were getting removed from the plan on day 30. It felt so good to stand up for myself! Now I have a nice, normal, affordable single phone plan and I don’t have to worry about chasing anyone for money or arguing over data GB. Woot! It may seem like a small victory to some, but it’s a huge step for me.

    Thank you ChumpLady and ChumpNation… you all have made such an impact on my life and my healing. I can never thank Tracy enough for her tough love and kick ass advice!!

    *Virtual hugs to all*

  • Once you start setting boundaries in one part of your life, it gets a LOT easier to do the same throughout the rest of it. Doesn’t matter where you start (work then home; home then work; parents/sibs; in-laws) because eventually you find yourself applying them everywhere.

    I know there are many people who experience emotional and cognitive dissonance because they enforce boundaries in one area, but are treated horribly in another one and it makes them feel badly. Once they figure out what is happening and shut that shit down, they feel better.

    It’s almost like magic!

  • I have learned to set more boundaries with my job. It’s not that my job was just taking from me, but it was more about me. I think education attracts a lot of do-gooders who try to save everybody, and that would be me. Learning how to say “No” has been invaluable to my sanity. I now only do things that I know I have time for. I’ve learned not to pour too much energy into students and parents who just aren’t at a stage where they really want to change. I make offers of support, but don’t take it personally it the offer is not taken – it’s about accepting that others just aren’t ready to take you up on the ways you can help them or they have another way to get where they want to go.

    I have reconnected with an old boyfriend who was also chumped himself a few years ago, horribly so. He’s gotten back on his feet after settling the finances of his marriage and purchased himself a house. I’ve been very happy for him as I’ve observed him excitedly create a home for himself and his children. I’ve even helped him paint his children’s bedrooms. He’s having a housewarming party this weekend.

    However, I just came to learn that he invited an ex-girlfriend to the party and she is attending. This was the ex-girlfriend that caused a lot of issues for us years ago when we went out (he was my boyfriend for three years before we broke up and I met my STBXH shortly after). I know that it was years ago, when we were in our 20s, and he was still immature about setting boundaries in relationships, but he allowed this woman to cause a lot of problems back then. When I questioned why he would invite her and me to attend the party at the same time, he told me a lie that he invited someone else that knew her and that she was coming with that person. I called him out on that. Boundaries. I let him know this morning that I will not be attending and I’m walking away from this.

    As CL says, it’s all about what is acceptable to you. I have to do me first, and I’m not so desperate for a man or relationship that I am willing to tolerate being put in an uncomfortable situation or dealing with lame excuses. I’ve got things to do and great people in my life (friends/family) that I can spend more time with.

    • It’s nice you helped the old boyfriend. But you broke up for a reason, and evidently he hasn’t learned, yet.

      In terms of picking a new partner, don’t look behind you.

    • Reminds me of a hometown boy (boy really not a man) I dated years ago who threw a party and invited another woman he was dating concurrently. I think he was hoping for a cage match/cat fight between the two of us women. Didn’t happen but I did sit there stunned that he would do something so crass rather than just getting up and leaving. Permanently. Sooner.

  • I don’t know about courage fairy moments.

    I think I have something like courage gnat nanoseconds, and aspire to courage lightning bug moments—little flashes in the dark.

    Some nanoseconds:

    —Cut things off with really my only friend, whose alcoholism and all that it entailed were just things I could not have in my world.
    —Set a firm boundary with son’s ex girlfriend, who is hovering him hard and wants back in this house and our family world very badly. Nope to talking to me. Blocked everywhere. Not welcome in my home ever for any reason.
    —Playing bit by bit through the pain of dealing with ex’s carefully hidden sexual abuse of our children.
    —Really firm on no contact with ex or any of his crew.
    —Replacing windows in my house. Seems a small thing, but big. Ex was all about cosmetic things, and always ignored infrastructure. So I am going hard after infrastructure. Windows this summer, and I am thinking new siding next summer.
    —Rented a dumpster, and having a “get rid of all sad junk” festival.
    —Just back from short vacation at the lake with my daughter. Chatted up hard by some random guy—pretty cute—one day. Understood fast that pretty much everything he said was a lie. Turned to daughter afterward and asked if she thought anything in his pitch—anything at all—was not a lie. She said nope, and we definitely agreed on that.

    Still anxious a lot of the time, still too scattered, still piecing self-esteem and self-image back together, still working my way toward life getting, but bit by bit just muddling gamely through.

    One courage gnat at a time!

    • Your gnats are mighty! They are more like fairy godmothers in disguise than gnats.

      • I was going to say the same thing! These courage gnats shine pretty BRIGHTLY!!

    • I think every item on this list is mighty and courageous. Every one. And all of them, taken together?

  • 2019 has been my year of exiting fuckwits from my life. After 5 years in therapy and 6 months on Chump Lady I steadily realized that being reared by narcissists had made me susceptible to their charms and comfortable with their toxicity. I had a bevy of them in my life, from a mother (rare contact on my terms) to a brother (nc since 2015), to multiple “friends” I’ve finally had the courage to defriend this year. Solid boundaries starting last year with said former friends helped immensely in separating the wheat from the chaff. Turns out users and abusers don’t like it when you aren’t their doormat and refuse to get caught up in their never ending drama. I’ve experienced more peace this year than my 50 years on this earth combined.

    Boundaries have helped in my work as well, as I’m self-employed and would often overextend myself and end up with awful migraines that lasted for days, but still working through the pain, thinking I’d let people down or not be able to support myself without working overtime. A few customers balked initially when I reminded them of my new rules, but then they got over it. And my income hasn’t suffered one dime!

    Thank you CL and CN for your stories of struggle, encouragement, and lessons learned. Sometimes I get really sad that I didn’t learn boundaries and (especially) modeling sane parenting much sooner (the kids are grown now and I see the holes in their moral compasses that I can only wish I’d filled) but I know I’d be wasting away another five years repeating the same tired patterns if I wasn’t a daily reader here.

  • I worked in HR for 20 years in a large, international organization. Sociopathic big boss bought in a psychopathic new head of HR who had absolutely NO skills whatsoever. I believe he did this because he knew he could get her to do anything he told her to – settle a few of his scores for him. She was an absolute narc bitch and what was once a great HR team started falling apart at the seams. She inflicted herself on the entire organization and was universally hated. As my colleagues started going on sick leave 10 of us (out of a staff of 750) decided to take her on so signed an official complaint against her. In the meantime, sociopathic big boss had moved on and we now had a “human” big boss. It took a helluva toll on all of us as we were in the firing line of a narc who had diplomatic immunity, but we took her on! And guess what! She made the mistake of threatening the new big boss and with that she was done! We got the bitch, who left with 3 hours notice before she was “helped out the door”. We knew, but weren’t allowed to bring out, that she had been fired from her last 4 jobs (she was subsequently fired from her next job after 15 months) but we got her in the end, despite the tremendous toll it took on our health. Look out Melbourne, Australia, she’s all yours.

    On a different note, my commute to work was hell. On a good day it used to be 90 minutes each way but more and more there were never any good days. One day in June last year it took me 3 hours to get to work and I asked my director if I could work from home occasionally since it was company policy and my immediate supervisor was fine with it. NO WAY, NO WAY, NO WAY! And this despite the fact that around 10 other people in our division did this. But he hated it! So, having worked in HR, I put my request in writing, quoting all the relevant staff rules etc. which forced him to answer me in writing (he was an expert at saying one thing behind closed doors and then claiming you “misunderstood” when it all came out). His answer was again no. So on 1 October last year, I thought sod this, and handed my notice in, giving 3 months notice and stating his intransigeance as the reason. Now it was “inconvenient” to lose me but he was more furious that I outed him and his poor management skills to HR and the higher ups. So then he tried to “intimidate” me by saying that the big boss could refuse my resignation and block my pension. I told him even the last pope had got to “retire early” so what was so special about me, and if he honestly thought ANYONE could block my pension he was sorely mistaken. I reminded him I had worked on the pension fund for 20 years and he REALLY didn’t know what he was talking about. I also told him that if he tried it on I would be up at the industrial tribunal in a heartbeat. So of course the little dick shrivelled. I ended up retiring 2 years earlier than I had planned, but you know what? I may have less money but god I love retirement!

    • Good plan, and, as I said above, I worried, too, about trading money for more flexibility in my job (I also work mostly from home), and it turned out fine. As you say, you’ll find a way to make it up or realize what you wanted to spend money on wasn’t worth it! May your retirement be long and fabulous!

      • Thanks Estella, yep, it wasn’t part of the plan but it really has been worth it AND to think I wouldn’t have even thought of quitting so soon if he hadn’t been so bull-headed!

  • In one of the many books I’ve read on surviving infidelity, the author stated that you would find new friends because the ones that you were with just wouldn’t dissatisfying to you anymore. This is been true for me. some of my friends were from Switzerland and some were just hangers on because of my need to take care of people. So I think I’m being a better friend and I’m choosing friends better

  • Two things. First, I definitely need to do the boundary setting work. But how does it happen? Do you sit down and make a list of all the things you’re not going to take anymore from the problem people in your life? I find myself in a boundary needing conversation and I’m not prepared to make some well thought out declaration.
    Secondly, I did have a moment of courage with a guy who I used to feel was a close friend. Although, as I’ve thought over this friendship, I realize he’s given me some of the worst advice ever. He considers himself an empath, wise, caring, etc. As I’m reconnoitering my relationships post-divorce, I find that lots of ‘friend’s’, male and female, speak to me with a tone of pity. There’s nothing worse than that, in my opinion. Along with their pity, they must feel like they are allowed to offer me advice in my business, dating, housing, how fast to do things, how slow to do things, how to allow feelings at my own time, how I should be moving through these phases faster. What I’ve learned is that NOBODY I know really knows shit about what I need, except me. So that’s the grand revelation, I can trust that I know what’s best for me.
    Back to the friend who gives bad advice. Somehow, unbeknownst to me at this time, I’ve gotten into patterns of conversations with friends who perceive that I need and want their lame advice. The conversations end up with them grilling me like I’m a child and they’re seeing if I’ve done my homework. I must be giving off a vibe of feeling helpless. In truth, I usually feel like they show their total bone headedness about real life, wisdom, and basic human relationships. I’m usually listening to them and rolling my eyes to myself. They must take it that I value their drivel.
    This is way too long, but I’m getting to the point. After the last convo with grilling friend, I decided he is no longer a safe friend. He’s judgy and makes me feel bad about everything. I played through how I would speak to him from a different position next time. That helped to think it through. He called yesterday with pleasantries, then started the questions like I was an irresponsible child. He started to ask me how I was doing financially with my shop, etc. I simply said FINE. Then, I boldly turned it on him and said,
    ‘So how are things going for you?’ He was stunned. It shifted everything. Of course he’s in a good place, yadda yadda. And I just said ‘That’s so good. I’m glad to hear it.’ To me, it was the best of everything. I was prepared, I didn’t come off as defensive or sensitive, but assertive while turning the tide and maintaining the peace of mind I’m trying to maintain. Women can be strong, firm, assertive, definite, and not be bitchy. For me, it’s going to take alot of practice, but that was a courageous win yesterday. Thank you for all of your work here.

    • Well done. You did a perfect job with JudgyFriend.

      The patterns of conversation you describe are essentially codependent relationships, where one person gets to be a victim, need help–i.e., a fixer upper, and the other person gets to feel superior as the “fixer.” You are noticing these things because you are no longer comfortable in this parasitical relationships.

      How you handle it is not to talk your problems over with someone who behaves this way. If you have one friend who just listens and helps you work through things without judging, you’re rich. What I do is talk to my therapist. 🙂

  • While not always perfect at implementing them, these are my new rules for relationships from romantic to real estate agents:

    1-Honesty. Lie to me, and you’re gone.

    2-work out conflict like a stable adult. Silent treatment? Nasty fighting style? Bye, Felicia

    3-emotional reciprocity

    Keeps things simple.

    • ^^^This is badass.

      I dated a guy for about a month. I did some spackling, then came to my senses. Went NC with him last week. He failed the smog test of 1-2-3 above.
      The old me would have stuck around for months, or longer. Untangling. Competing. Trying to fix it. Nope. Boundaries keep me safe.

      • Well-done, CV. It’s natural to want love and stability. We just can’t want those things more than we want integrity and self-respect.

    • Great list. I’d add one…

      4. Kind. To old people, handicapped people, animals, service workers, family, friends, and me.

      • Kind- this was my no 1 quality for a new partner. Can’t get far without it and it rates higher than intelligence for me after dating a genius IQ, cognitive empathy, sociopath.

      • Just be careful because covert narcissists are the masters at using kindness to old folks, animals, those in need, etc. to mask their underlying toxicity. Lord, to hear it from so many people who know my X, he’s the kindest person on the planet, always there to help someone in need . . .

        • So true. This was post-divorce ex-BF, the most convincing con man I’ve ever met—gentle, patient demeanor, lobbyist for the Humane Society, keeps dollar bills in the console of his car to hand to homeless people at traffic lights. But…pathological liar (kept the facts that he smiled, has an alcohol problem, and was a multi-time cheater in his marriage, from me for almost 2 years), and delivered the most abrupt and cold-hearted breakup I’ve ever experienced when I caught him at some of those lies.

  • Craig Malkin’s book “Rethinking Narcissism” has a great chapter on dealing with people in the workplace (right after the chapter on relationships with loved ones). It’s still a pop-psych book and is not perfect – I wish Malkin gave a few more ideas about concrete actions to take, for example, and his narcissism-scale diagnostic doesn’t seem very useful – but it’s really helpful to see examples and think through how to detach from people who don’t respond to empathy.

    There’s also an interesting section on managing narcissism in children, for those of us who are parents. (The fact that my younger DD8 can be very demanding emotionally is made even more difficult as I work through the betrayals of my Cheater and all her flying monkeys. I have to set boundaries with all of them, including DD – but of course, detaching entirely from DD is not an option.)

    One hung I have realized through all this is that choosing not to set/maintain boundaries is not always a sign of clinical codependence. In my case, I’m a typically conflict-avoidant Midwesterner, a bit of a people-pleaser, but mostly just a standard introvert who would rather keep my head down and out of any lines of fire. But I have really worked on this over the years, and I have definitely stood up for myself in the workplace and at home, even before the affair. I just thought I was choosing my battles in a mutually-respectful, long-term relationship. SMH

  • Lots of good comments here today. Boundaries are so important, and took me quite a while to learn, especially healthy boundaries. I had to really embrace “No is a complete sentence.”, and stick to it. no matter what flack came up as a result. Funny, those who protested the most loudly are those who are presently in the rear view mirror. When I started expecting and insisting on equal treatment, many just drifted away. Occasionally some circle back to see if I still really mean it, but being met with the same boundary, just drift off again.

    The questioning of my “fitness to make good judgements” started when I retired and decided to travel around this big beautiful country of ours by RV and then by van. Was I sure I wanted to really do that? (Yep!) Did I understand how “dangerous” my decision was? (Not dangerous at all. In two years and 18,000 miles, not one problem with anyone.) What made me think I had the skills to do this? (Seriously? I lived through being chumped, divorcing cheater ex, having cheater ex kidnap and murder my 14 year old son, and having cheater ex’es fuckwit family burn my house down, ….you’re kidding, right?) Yadda, yadda, yadda and so on.

    Nowadays, I just operate on the expectation that I matter as much as anyone else. I am neither better nor worse than anyone else. If anyone tries to treat me as less than I speak up. If it continues, I take myself elsewhere. No drama necessary, I just exit and refuse to play. I will explain once but that is all. The quality people have stuck, the others, well, bye. At 66, life is too short to put up with anymore BS.

    I choose to live my life from a place of kindness, good ethics, independence, and mindfulness. No one in the world has to agree with me on anything, but it is my right to live as I choose. It has been good so far, and I am enjoying myself and perhaps leaving the world a little better place for having been here.

    That is the beauty gaining the confidence to just quietly be yourself. That is the confidence we learn here at Chumplady.

    • Excellent and I couldn’t agree more. Way to get a life, Tessie!
      I’m tremendously sorry about the loss of your son. ???? Your story is heartbreaking and your strength is inspiring.

    • So good to hear from you, Tessie. You’re my model, my hero. Big hugs.

      • Thank you so much, LAJ. Right back atcha. You and I seem to have walked a similar road having been raised by narcs and having to unlearn unhealthy coping mechanisms and then substitute healthy ways of living.

        Quite the journey, isn’t it?

  • I knew I was getting better at boundaries when my son’s girlfriend asked me if her mom had yelled at me or was mean. Before I could answer, my son spoke up and said “She wouldn’t dare, mom takes crap from no one.” lol Careerwise, I don’t put up with much either. I left one job as the ‘micromanaging’ manager started intruding into my space and work. Instead of putting up with it, I interviewed and got a better job.

  • After four and a half years from divorce, I have finally stopped playing the “just be nice, eat shit sandwiches, keep the peace” game. It was super hard with my daughter yelling “I want both my parents moving me into my college dorm” for her first year. Sorry, not sorry. I should have put these boundaries in place a long time ago but I am finally doing it. I can’t be around his verbal abuse any longer. I am finished.

    After lots of tears (daughter’s tears, not mine), we came up with a plan. Your dad will take you, pick up your keys and look at your empty room (he didn’t buy her a thing for her dorm). After boredom sets in and they get some lunch, Dickhead will leave and I will ride in on the white horse moving truck filled with all the beautiful things that her and I had so much fun buying together. We will peacefully move in and decorate. Then off to dinner with the roommates and parents. Fun to be had by all except Dickhead.

    • Sounds like the perfect solution ???? I have had to do a similar compromise and the solutions to tricky scheduling does get easier to spot. All the best for move in day.

  • I explained “sad sausage” to my daughter, and my close friends. They all loved it. And quickly spot it with humor! Now it’s part of the vernacular.

    Growth: where once I was upset, now I just laugh.

  • Finally moved out of my studio business location when the new owners kept double talking and doubling my rent. Its a tough location to fill and its still open. I’m renting from another dance studio owner who is happy that we are there.

  • I have unchumped myself with toxic family members. I will no longer engage with them unless their behaviour changes. I found out my mother had plans for me she had not consulted me about. She was planning to dragoon me into giving up my life in order to be a caregiver for my druggie brother when she is too frail to enable him anymore. She planned this knowing that I have a chronic illness and am morally opposed to enabling substance abuse. She has also hurt me by being angry with me for leaving my husband and being verbally abusive to both me and my daughter about it. She even accused me of things that were untrue to try to bolster her notion that I should just get over it and reconcile. Throughout my marriage, she always supported my husband if there was any dispute between us and interfered with my marriage in bizarre and hurtful ways. She gaslit me about his emotional abuse and blamed me for whatever he did. She repeatedly felt the need to passive-aggressively remind me that I was “lucky” to have him, implying that I am a loser who should be grateful to have a husband at all. Once she even tried to show my husband a book of pornographic photos and flew into a rage at me when I asked her not to do that. Creepy. I have come to see that she is disordered and will never change.

    That’s just one example of the treacherous snakes I no longer have any tolerance for.

  • I left the toxic world of brogrammers & IT after 40 years to open my own property management practice. I like being my own boss, setting goals for myself, and finally achieving work/life balance. My health is much better too. I’m kind of sort of even starting to date a teensy little bit. Not gonna lie, ???????????? online dating sites ???????????? are a total cesspool but they are a never-ending source of amusement, so there’s that. Once the forums are fixed, maybe I should start a thread about dating horror stories, LOL ????

  • Wow the timing couldn’t be better with this post!

    The most immediate win for me on setting healthy boundaries for me with my cheater and leaving him was the immediate impact it had on my work. It was actually a high conflict relationship at work that led me to recognise how toxic my marriage was and change that shit storm for good.

    I stayed at work because I need the money and it’s good, better than same job at other places.

    And my change in attitude (no longer angry, able to keep quiet and let others dig their own aggressive holes instead of appearing to be driving them there) has been noticed. By a lot of people.

    So imagine my surprise this week when someone reported to someone who reported to MY boss (who gets me) that I’m being aggressive and road blocking them!

    This person, is difficult. A yes person to senior managers only. She’s been allocated to me as my teams way in to a big change we’re working on. My boss and I had strategised about how to handle it. I practiced and practiced (just like I used to with my ex, because there was never a RIGHT way to check in and say my needs aren’t being met and what could we both do about it). It always resulted in devaluing and invalidating rages against me. I gave up in the end and left him 2 months later. Mighty.

    So I got the talk. You need to work on your style etc etc, even though my boss knows I have. And have changed. I get i might slip sometimes and I own that always.

    But this week I won’t let it slip. This week I will talk to my boss about gaslighting, and how I used to practice how to seek change from my husband and it never worked and how I practiced to seek change from this lady, and here I am being accused of being the road block.

    I even outright stated to this woman “the work my team does will by definition be a roadblock to the work you do SO WE NEED TO WORK TOGETHER TO CHANGE THAT AND MAKE GOOD STUFF HAPPEN! And I’m still accused of being a road block! Crazy making indeed.

    My plan is to get the managers involved to understand that this lady who they’ve lined me up with, and keep lining me up with even as we both acknowledge it’s not the right team to work with, and we need a new structure to work with so by the time it gets to her the roadblocks ie pace of change we drive which is slow and painful, are addressed. I’m putting it back on them. I won’t be a scapegoat anymore.

    • Yes – put it back where it belongs. That’s the key. I had trouble assigning ownership and holding people accountable. I am so much better at that now.

  • Definitely feel your incredible perspective and advice empowering several other areas of my life! I’ve used it successfully within my FOO, with friendships old and new, with employers and also employees. Rock solid life advice is what CL and CN offer. Much gratitude for you all here!! Thank you thank you thank you, CN and Tracy.

  • After my D-Day, I took a job at a facility that had a lot of red flags I missed. I missed that my boss was a narc, also a cheater herself. I missed that I was being gaslighted, bullied, and mistreated. The day I finally realized it and went to HR, I was literally walked off the premises by my boss who subsequently trashed me to future employers.

    I now do relief and consulting work. While the experience was devastating (on top of the personal devastation I was still dealing with), it was also freeing. Financially it’s difficult. Physically difficult too because I travel a lot. Mentally though? My God, what a relief. I can walk out of a place with bad politics and never get involved. I can take time off when I need to — a big family event for example — which I was never allowed to do. I can also bill facilities that want me to work 12 hour days and weekends, which I couldn’t do when I was salaried. My ex-boss’s reach wasn’t as long as she’d hoped, and there are plenty of facilities that still want to hire me.

    My ex boss — still a narc, cheating, gaslighting piece of garbage who lives in the dreariest of places and is in charge of a sinking ship. Me, I have integrity, and live in a beautiful place around people who love and support me, and I am in charge of being Mighty and Gaining a Life.

    • Unicorn, your ex boss sounds like our psycho HR bitch. It was SO frustrating knowing all that we did about her lies and her past and (for various reasons) not being able to bring it all out in the open. Hell we even had staff from 2 of her previous employers giving us info on the quiet – it was supposed to be confidential, hence we couldn’t bring it up. BUT, eventually people learn the truth about these people don’t they and, hopefully, they get their come-uppance. I’m so glad it worked out for you!

  • I weeded my friendship garden slowly over time, and uncovered some friendships that I realised were healthy but neglected. These are now blooming.

    A couple of large shrubs had to be completely removed because they were blocking the light. This took some time to get used to, as at first their removal left an angry dug-out patch.

    The garden wall was repaired, and I got the lock on its door changed and oiled the hinges.

    I spend a lot more time in the friendship garden now, because I have rediscovered that it’s a safe and beautiful place to be.

    You don’t need to put much maintenance in for it to thrive, but you do need to be careful about what you plant, and be consistent with the small jobs.

    The romance jungle was fun, but there were too many snakes and miasmas.

  • I walked out of my old job 2 days ago, spurred by the knowledge that I would be a chump if I didn’t. Admittedly it was easier because I had already resigned, but I’m sure my ex boss was counting on me being ” professional” and spackling over her very unprofessional behaviour until my formal leave date. Nah. So I get a week off before I start a new and hopefully happier job. Boundaries, I have found them. If you bully me I will leave.
    And yes, I recognised the sensation when someone was trying to convince me that black was white and I was wrong when I was actually right- been there, done that, not going to do it anymore

  • Thanks to the wisdom I gleaned here, I realized that Cluster B folks come in all stripes, including friends.The first time I realized that a new friend who came on fast and hard and then discarded me (three years in) was someone I needed to cut loose, it was almost as hard as leaving X.

    But then the second time I ran into a friend like this–who, again, after a few years of what seemed to be a stable friendship, unleashed a torrent of verbal abuse on me like nothing I’d experienced since the divorce–it became much easier to cut ties without looking back.

    I do agree that the experience of laying boundaries with our Xs serves us well in other areas of life, especially since so much of being a chump is letting things slide, going along to get along, etc. It has been both eye-opening and liberating for me to realize all of the ways in which I used to allow people to take advantage of me and to put a stop to it, not just with X, but with other folks who’ve crossed lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

  • I am jealous of how fearless everyone who has responded is in terms of boundaries and taking care of themselves.

    I am struggling with one of my grown children who currently lives with me and has recently been getting very verbally aggressive when I say ‘no’ to him and hold my ground despite his arguments about why my ‘no’ makes no rational sense.

    I don’t like conflict so I have always been the one to smooth things over but I am not willing to ‘make my self small anymore’. It is like I just can’t go back to that way of life yet I feel like I am walking on eggshells around this kid and the big black cloud that appears to be hovering above his head.

    Anyone else here dealing with angry adult children and boundary setting????

    I love this kid and I really hate his behavior and I simply do not want to put up with it. AKA – I am sick of this shit and feel like I am simply being used as a cheap place to live while he gets his life in order after which I feel like he will leave and never look back.

    I should mention that I am really pissed that his father walked out and left me alone to deal with this stuff on my own because he wanted his ‘freedom’. Like he washed his hands of all of us yet wanted me to still be friends….It is worth noting that, although I am pissed off, I do not want his help because that would REALLY mess me up 🙂

    Obviously I have not had much success at being mighty and am eagerly awaiting the Courage Fairies to alight in my living room and fix everything so I can reach Meh before Tuesday 🙂

    • Elderly Chump, hold your ground with your son, however unpleasant it is. I had “issues” with my oldest who tended to side with his dad, despite the fact that he was the one that used to yank his dad off me when he was beating the shit out of me. When I up front asked him if “we needed to talk” his only comment was “you’re strong and dad isn’t”! Oh well, that’s all right then! But I didn’t give in to him, I kept the lines of communication open but one year when my other son asked if son no. 1 was coming for Christmas dinner I told him no, I hadn’t seen him all year so why would I invite him to dinner. I think they were all shocked at that. Things are now improving between us, not least of all because his dad and his chaos moved back to the States and we now get to live our lives in peace away from him. So stay strong. You can do it!

      • Thanks for the encouragement Attie. I generally do keep the lines of communication open but at the end of our last ‘tussle’ he got really out of line telling me how terrible and unreasonable I was being and something in me snapped. I have always told him he can leave – that he isn’t a prisoner here but this time, when he kept pushing, I ended up telling him he had 2 weeks to find a new place to live. I walked away and have left it up to him to approach me vs me being the one to walk in with the white flag of peace. The ball is in his court so to speak and that is the line I am struggling with – to keep quiet and to let him approach me since he is the one who was out of line – way out of line.

        Interesting that your son would defend his father and say that you are the strong one. What the heck so he protects the offender!?!?! It is helpful to know that you just let him be and that you stood up for yourself despite the shock it caused within your family.

        • It’s tough not walking in with the white flag isn’t it, but believe me it works. And if it doesn’t well … at least you gave it an honest shot! As for my son defending his dad, his dad would be the one to burst into tears at the end while I just looked at him with the contempt that he deserves. So yeah, dad is “devastated” and mom is a cold bitch I guess. Son no. 1 eventually got an inkling of what it was like dealing with his dad when both I and son no. 2 told him “he’s yours, you deal with him” – he had his eyes opened, I can tell you, plus neither of their wives want to deal dad’s BS – and quite rightly so. Good luck.

          • Yes, when we stand our ground ‘cold hearted bitch’.

            I have a good friend – 40yrs and then dumped. She is 4 years out from Dday and her kids tell her she is the mean one because she has been mighty – found a full time job because he stole from her by lying about $ in divorce settlement, lost her house and is living in a small condo, has had major health issues and yet has been dealing with all her stuff while he ‘cries all the time’. She has hit a wall and lets her kids know that she IS by herself and nobody is going to rescue her so she has become mighty – like it or lump it – we do get pushed into these places by THEM! and they they criticize us!!!! Go figure. She did not cause the problem yet is expected to fix it. Bull Shit.

            Day 4 of silence from him and I still have not tried to fix it despite my apprehension. I take what you have written and what my friend has said – If I am not for me, who will be?

            This is rough for a lifelong people pleaser 🙂 I guess we are never too old to learn new tricks!

            Thanks for your support. It is making a difference in my world today.

            • Elderly Chump, may I suggest that you bring home some empty cardboard boxes and
              leave them in a very conspicuous place for your prize son to trip over.
              Then casually mention that they are for packing up his belongings.
              Does he need more boxes? You will be happy to do that for him.
              Every day I would mention how many days he has left in your home.
              Never let anyone get comfortable berating you.
              Know your worth.

              • Good idea but….we are on now day 5 of not talking and I am holding my ground on that rather than being the one to initiate a conversation due to past experiences where it has been on me. We went along as if nothing had happened after those episodes and the behavior has repeated itself several more times.

                I am seeing a definite pattern here, so this time, because he went so far in his berating of me, my final words on the matter were that he has 2 weeks to find a new place. IF he wants to negotiate HE has to start up the conversation. Terms of discussion of house rules – MINE – if he decides to stay. Not sure where things will end up because he may decide to leave without talking to me at all.

                I will keep the empty box idea in mind just so he knows I have ‘back up’. 🙂

                Awkward as it is I feel like it is almost like when I went NC with his father. Despite the intense feelings of wanting to smooth things over, I didn’t and NC got easier every day but it was very trying in the early months….

  • ‘and my actual responsibility when caught in a fuckwit’s orbit is me, not them.’ Thank you for this wonderful nugget, Anonymous Fan, that alone is worth the read for today.
    As for me, as the kind of by default co-ordinator of a local chapter of a volunteer organisation, I have had to deal with a couple of probably personality disordered members, one who would take drugs while on duty, then accused the management team of launching a smear campaign against her, and another who tried to force her fundamentalist anti- LGBT+ beliefs on us during pride week, causing much ill-feeling and upset among our membership. Both times I decided, nope this isn’t happening, drew firm boundaries around the behaviour – one was unregistered as a member and the other left of her own accord after the boundaries were set. Of course, I didn’t have to do this entirely alone, but for someone who has all her life tried to be innocuous as possible and basically let everyone walk all over me because I wanted to be liked, this was pretty liberating. I know they hate my guts, and I don’t care, because I feel like I did right by myself and the other people in the organisation I had a responsibility toward.

    • Elderly Chump, Your house……your rules. Diss the owner, the CEO, the Landlady, then you face
      the consequences. Pack your things and go.
      You remember those tantrums put on by two year olds trying to get their way and saying
      “ you are not the boss of me “.
      Same child just a bigger body. But you are still the boss. Your house……..
      Time for the two year old to face the world and to learn respect for his one sane, loving parent.

      • Yes Helen!

        Earlier today I got a copy of the book ‘Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men,’ by Lundy Bancroft and I am stunned by what he is saying and how it hits the nail on the head with what I am recognizing and able to see in my son’s behavior. Crap, I hate this! CL and CN have opened my eyes big time and my ‘perfect’ life has turned into a nightmare of sorts.

        Did I mention that I hate this? Well, it bears repeating because I hate this. Shit.

        Thanks for your precise words – clarity and yes, a two year old’s behavior for sure although his behavior didn’t ramp up until he hit 3 or 4.

        Don’t know what I’d do without CL and CN.

  • After discovering that I was married to a Sociopath for 17 years, I served with Divorce Papers 2 weeks later. That was a GLORIOUS moment. I’d like to say that I ran as far and fast as I could, but, Co-Parenting 3 kids has made NC improbable. However, I can see light at the end of the tunnel as my youngest will be out of school in 4 years! In the meantime, I went back to school myself, earned a Medical degree and have a fulfilling career doing what I love, instead of wasting my talents as a VERY useful Wife/Co-Business Owner Appliance. I also admitted that my “Wine Therapy” had become unmanageable, so I embraced full-time sobriety. I just celebrated 1-year! Every day I find new footing and strength. I’ve learned that my life can be anything I set my mind to and I’m not defined by falling prey to a narcissistic serial cheater. Being a Chump has set fire to my Inner Phoenix, and I LOVE her!

  • Recognizing the charm–pity–rage cycle has enabled me to understand how many situations with entitled people are going to play out. I’m not comfortable with people who are raging, but at least I’m not taken aback with shock by the phenomenon any more. I don’t sputter apologies and try to figure out what I did that made the problem spin out of control. Nope, I see what is going on and how the various channels are a practiced form of manipulation.

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