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How to Deflect Gaslighting

Today’s How-To-Keep-Your-Sanity tips come from CN’s own Amiisfree, who sent in scripts she uses to deflect mindfuckery.

If you’re anything like the average chump, (decent, law-abiding, a bit of a mark), you respond to mindfuckery with bewilderment. Maybe you sputter. Make a weak reply. What you probably DON’T do, is call it out.

Amiisfree would like to suggest some ways to call it out. So, I’m handing the blog over to her this morning. Enjoy! In the comments, please share your A-ha moments and strategies too! — Tracy

 

****

 

Dear Tracy,

I have recently become aware of a gaslighting method that has been working very well on me, all my life. In the spirit of “once seen, cannot un-see”, I am pulling it out and setting it on the table to see it for what it is. Inside my head, I refer to it as “harsh/critical/jaded“.

In my experience, certain people use these terms in conversation with me anytime something uncomfortable enters the conversation. They have achieved resounding success in deflecting me, as a person with a conscience, because the kernel of truth sends me reeling to try to fix myself as if I am broken.

Well, not anymore. I am starting to say “No, what I said is not unreasonable. This is what (harsh/critical/jaded) would have sounded like. (Offers example.) I didn’t make a value judgment, I stated an observation of what occurred without evaluating it.”

Doing this has been… enlightening.

A few examples from my former marriage are listed below, using C for Chump, G for Gaslighter, and S for Schmoopie.

——–

C: “You lied to me about S for X years and now you want me to trust that you aren’t lying just because you’re asking me to. I don’t trust you yet to tell the truth.”

G’s exaggerated response: “You called me a liar! You’re so critical! Why would I want to stick around just to be criticized all the time? S isn’t critical. That’s part of why I was drawn to S.”

If C were actually being critical, C would speak negative value judgments aloud, such as:
“You are a worthless piece of shit who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you in the ass. Liars and cheaters are worthless assholes and I don’t trust lying cheating assholes.”

——–

C: “You betrayed our marriage agreements because you wanted sex with someone else. You knew how much it would hurt me and you didn’t care. That is incredibly hurtful to me.”

G’s exaggerated response: “That’s harsh! You called me selfish and accused me of being bad. I just want to be positive and happy! Stop judging me harshly based on your narrow minded beliefs!”

If C were actually being harsh, C would use vitriolic language aloud, like:
“You can’t control yourself because you are an immature asshole. You are disgusting because you stuff your genitals into skanky whores’ genitals. You suck and you know it, so you hurt other people to try to avoid admitting what a shitty excuse for a person you are.”

——–

C: “The only way we can rebuild trust is if you are fully transparent and honest with me, no secrets and no avoiding.”

G’s exaggerated response: “I told you I won’t do it again. Why won’t you believe me? You’re so jaded. I have no freedom because you are so paranoid and can’t trust. You are making this harder than it needs to be. When will you get over this?”

The truth about C:
C *is* now jaded, specifically as a direct result of actual abuse from G (and maybe others too).

Protecting one’s self from things that caused one harm in the past is intelligent and reasonable. This includes expecting that if a being, situation, or item caused us harm in the past, it is more likely than average to also cause us harm in the future, and avoiding that being/situation/thing is likely to mitigate further risk of harm. This makes sense.

Also, it is an incomplete truth to claim that that C simply doesn’t trust G’s words. It’s essentially factual, though incomplete, which is why it works well for gaslighting.

The rest of the story is that C does trust, through experience, that G’s words and actions are often not in harmony. C trusts this to be true because it has happened many times. The opposite — G’s actions matching G’s words — has not happened many times, so C does not trust that will occur now.

In reality, C DOES trust. It’s just that C trusts the actual data C is receiving rather than the illusions and half-truths G wants to feed C.

——–

If someone is calling me harsh, critical, or jaded, I can hold a light up to it and ask myself, is that person exaggerating and/or leaving out critical data to spin the conversation in his/her favor? If so, I don’t have to swallow the spin.

I can look at all of the data. That’s where reality lives.

This is well summed up in a quote I heard the other day while watching Downton Abbey. Mrs. Hughes made a comment about Mr. Carson not having much faith in his fellow man. Mr. Carson replied, “I have the opinion life has taught me.”

Amiisfree

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  • I’ve never understood why it’s considered an insult to be called critical. After all, critical thinking is supposed to be a valued skill!

    If you’re able to weigh the data and make the appropriate conclusions, that’s a good thing.

    • Or judgemental… Like we allll make judgements. Even those who are calling others judgemental.
      I think if they were prefaced with overly or négatively, I could concede.
      Also the famous judge not lest ye be judged line. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, I want you to go ahead and judge me. Once we are both fair and truthful about it.

      • Amen, life is a constant series of judgements just to survive. The problem doesn’t start with judging after betrayal, it is our misjudgment which led us to accept the gaslighting.

        I love the last line from Downton Abbey, so pithy.

      • That verse means “judge” as “condemn”, rather than “make judgements regarding”, because Jesus was talking about a woman about to be stoned to death by a mob. And, he said “…unless you want to be judged/condemned with the same measuring stick,” with wording depending on translation. So, in a way, Jesus agrees with you in that.

        People misused and misquoted, “Don’t judge!” , for years, to try to make critical thinking and weighing of the value of things into something people aught not do, just to shut common sense people up.

        “Don’t tell me what to do! Jesus said!” – — Can you imagine Jesus -actually- advising people to never consider whether something is good to do or not?

        Gaslighting!

    • I used to be accused of being negative constantly when ex wanted to invest in a business that was lucrative and we could not afford. Of course it failed and cost us 25k of our savings. I realized too late he said that to get his way. He was a master manipulator and of course he had his cheerleading section right there to agree with him and think I was being a jerk 🙄🙄

    • Hmm I smiled when I saw the critical response as I did eventually tell my STBX he was a cowardly piece of shit and that cheating shows low character or no character at all — I said that cheating shows dysfunction (yes I now not meh and kibbles for him but I needed to speak my truth).

      I met with X sister in law last night as she wants to maintain contact and she was a chump. I had planned on casual conversation until she basically said that all men cheat and it is normal (didn’t actually condone it but pretty close) and she also said “some people have a don’t tell don’t ask” to which I emotionally vomited my truth. That cheating is but only one aspect that there is emotional abuse, physical assault (not wearing condoms so exposing us to disease and lying about it), fraud, and many more things. That her brother is not the man I thought he was and that he was a horrible role model to his sons. I find it really sad that even some chumps rationalize and excuse behaviour (you can love someone but strongly disapprove of their actions – she is claiming to be non-judgemental – bs). I told her that it is not my shame to wear and say it loud say it proud – I was a victim of my STBX’s horrible behaviour but I am no longer a victim – I am a survivor. I will not buy into a narrative that everyone does it so it is okay. Our society needs to change the narrative on this!!

      Needless to say, I won’t be seeing X sister in law :).

    • Life is risk assessment–do the benefits of X outweigh the costs of X? That requires judgment.

      In the case of staying with a cheater, risk assessment suggests the following decision: RUN.

  • Excellent blog post!
    Three cheers for you on figuring out the crap that comes out of the cheater/liar’s mouth.

    “leaving out critical data” says it ALL.

  • Hopefully some therapists are reading this. If I had a dime for every time a therapist chose to focus on my language, instead of the liar’s word salad I could bail out the Bahamas. He never swore, just liked to collect whores. (Not a poem, factual for 25 years). So the majority of my time in therapy was spent improving communication and sexual practices while he continued on with a double life.
    This is what chumps need so our brains will eventually overrule our hearts.

    • So frustrating. I feel for you.

      In more recent years, it is the few amazing therapists in my life who got me to this idea. It takes some searching and being willing to keep changing until I found the right fit for each stage of development, but the great ones are out there! (Tempest included!)

      We’re all just humans, after all.

    • While in MC, I used the word ‘demand’ – I said I should have demanded more from him than I did, like more attention, affection etc. (I was a plan B sahm wife appliance.) Ex and the counsellor both jumped on me like a pack of hyenas on fresh meat. I apologised for using that word. MC felt more like a test than anything else.

      • ArtistFormelyKnownAsChump,

        The x refused to go to counseling with me and now I know why. HE was afraid. He knew the whole truth and I didn’t so his refusal was all a ruse to keep me in the dark.

        Now I know he was afraid of me also using the ‘d’ word because, like you, I was a sahm and also now I am beginning to see that I have been Plan B all along.

        Just today I heard another story from a neighbor who saw him at a local restaurant with a co-worker (male) at dinner time years ago. He just figured he was there on a business dinner and never mentioned it to me. It has taken me 29 years to realize that at that job he had a dinner hour and NEVER came home to have dinner with us. (Idiot that I was I figured he didn’t get a dinner break since he worked evenings…never put 2 and 2 together…….oh, and our house was closer than the restaurant he was seen in so I know he could have come here instead….so much I didn’t see.

        I am continually being amazed at how long it is taking me to ‘get this’ stuff from my head to my heart.

        I have to smile because if we were to go into counseling now, not a chance in hell that would happen, but ‘if’ it did happen it would be a nuclear war because of what I have learned here. You would ALL be with me 🙂

  • The gaslighting effect is horrendous! It leaves you all shattered and feeling crazy and lost! This is worst than getting physical hit. Best 0 contact, to continue your recovery time alone. It took me 18 months to start feeling better after 7 months of gaslighting.

    • Agreed, it’s horrendous. My XW was a master at it. Like you, I endured 7 mos of it, and I’m now 18 mos out from d-day and only now starting to feel better.

      • I had at least 24 years of it. It took me a few months after Dday to realize it and find out ways to deal with it. I am pretty much healed from it 2 years out. Don’t try to understand the past. Accept that they gaslighted you and move on. I will NEVER know the whole truth.

    • Two years of gaslighting and blame shifting, after I took him back after the first time he cheated. Then the constant back and forth of “well if you can’t forgive me, then we should break up” to ” I love you, I’ll change, I don’t want to break up.” Then just when I was starting to believe in him again BAM 2nd DDay. It took me at least 2 years to start to really heal.

      I used to get angry when I thought about all the time and energy I wasted on him. Then I realized that I was doing it again, and I refused to give him any more of my time, and I chose to focus on myself instead.

  • I didn’t know what this was called gaslighting at the time but I knew this didn’t make sense. After the ILYBINILWY speach (after a “work” trip):

    Her: I’ve been unhappy for a really long time….

    Me: What are you talking about? We just went on a lovely family vacation.

    Her: I didn’t even have a good time on this trip because I was worried about you getting angry the whole time.

    Me: Did I get angry on the trip? (I didn’t recall getting angry as I was quite happy)

    Her: No but I was worried you would get angry.

    Me: This is the first time you’ve mentioned this to me. I never actually got angry on the trip. How do you propose that change poor behavior that I don’t actually do or address concerns you have about behavior you’re worried will happen (but doesn’t) when you don’t tell me about these concerns?

    Her: Crickets…

    She had shifted the blame to me for so long that I automatically said I’m sorry, for everything. As soon as I stopped apologizing for things I wasn’t doing and challenged her poor behavior she had no more use for me.

    • I remember having this exact convo with my ex-h. Ugh it makes me seethe just thinking about how he kept me distracted and squirming.

    • My entire marriage was me taking a series of tests that I never knew I was taking. When I’d failed enough of them (i.e., when I stopped apologizing for things I wasn’t doing and challenging, or at least not supporting, her poor behavior), I was discarded.

      • Mine would accuse me of “testing” him. If I hoped that he would do X,Y, Z, I was testing him.

        What I have come to understand is that what was actually taking place in my marriage was a classic case of projection: what he was doing to me, he accused me of doing to him. Whenever he verbally attacked me, it was because I had attacked him first with a factual statement (no emotion attached). I finally started writing down the interactions so that I could reread them to remind myself of what an AH he is.

        Cheaters don’t like facts. They especially don’t like the truth that they are entitled jerks with no character, which is why they try to blameshift everything over to the chump.

    • My gaslighter would attribute motivations to my behavior that I never conceived and then want me to apologize for it. I would say that I can apologize if your feelings are hurt, but I cannot apologize for motives I never had. She would then get upset and say, “Why can’t you make a simple apology?” In reality, she was screwing co-workers and extensively covering it up. I was needed to be her scapegoat, so she projected all the shit on me.

      • FSW Mid Atlantic, I got the old “It takes two to tango.” from my Mother. I blew up and said, “How? I didn’t even get invited to the dance.”

        My former BFF told me, “We love him and we love you.” I told her “He abused me. How can you love that?”

        I’m so happy to be free of the gaslighting, stone walking and trickle truthing. Life is getting better.

    • Chumped to Dumped – this sounds like my STBX. I would think the same – we just had a nice time on a family vacation and he seemed to be fine. (actually never really happy, but I’d grown used to that over the years.) Back when I used to fight more about the relationship, he would tell me that I should know what he needed and he shouldn’t have to tell me. Me: What’s wrong? STBX: You should know.

      I was pick me dancing back then, in trying to guess how to act to make him happy. Ugh.

      • My XW would say the same thing Foolmoitwice. I was selfish because I couldn’t read her mind. But she was constantly changing her mind. Drove me batty.

        • @sirchumpalot @foolmoitwice: My answer to this with both Cheater #1 and #2 was, “I cannot meet unexpressed expectations.” It took awhile with Cheater #1 to get there, but when someone says some BS like “I’ve been unhappy for 20 years” FGS, use your WORDS! Speak up! Or GTF out if you’re so unhappy! But do not simper around snivelling about how you’re unhappy/unfullfilled/haz a sadz and then not saying why!!

          • Personally I think they are full of BS when they say that stuff but choose your adjective coward or liar. Either way they suck!!

      • Anybody that expects you to be a mind reader is a mind f*cker ! Tell them to use their words, like a grown up.

    • I got a similar accusation that an imagined potential future problem had spoiled our relationship.

      XW said that she needed to divorce me because she was exhausted from years of worrying that I would have a mental breakdown, be institutionalized and she’d be the sole breadwinner and child-rearer. Actually I did pretty well with this revelation: it only took me a couple of days to realize that her depiction of me was complete fantasy; anyone listening to her would have thought I spent most days huddled under my bed, unbathed and muttering to myself. In fact, I have a PhD and a full-time job and did the vast majority of childcare for three kids for a decade and a half, a lot of it on on my own while XW traveled to conferences and speaking engagements all over the world. To be fair to XW, her entire family does catastrophize, so – as with many of these things – it wasn’t really personal, or even about *me*.

      Oh, and she never bothered to mention this to me in the supposedly years of mental anguish she went through. It’s not a coincidence that they construct these types of unfalsifiable accusations when they’re looking for justification: if they say “I was so worried that you would Q that it caused R”, we can hardly say “you were not!” when all they’re doing is reporting on their own mental state.

    • Same here!! Seems to be a common theme to make themselves feel better about their shitty fucked up character.
      Him: I know that we have been unhappy for quite a long time and I just figured our marriage was over.
      Me: Wait, what? Obviously our marriage wasn’t perfect, but I haven’t been unhappy about us. I had no idea our marriage was over.
      Him: Well I just figured it was going to be sometime soon with my new job, so that’s why I did what I did.
      Me: Ok, I helped you get the new job, I was excited about starting a new life in a new city.
      Him: Well I didn’t think you were happy.
      Me: You never even asked if I was happy, you never even asked if I thought our marriage was over. How are we supposed to fix issues between us when only one person knows what they are thinking?
      Yep, crickets… they change the rules to suit their agenda.
      They play a game they know only they can win. They change the narrative constantly so it works in their favor to justify shitty behavior. It definitely isn’t the chumps fault. I don’t care how fucked up the marriage is. All they had to say is that they felt that way before he fucked some skank at his new job. Could have divorced or worked together to mend whatever issues there were. But that’s not what they want. They want to feel special and that is what these affairs do, instant gratification.

      • Karma Train – that is a perfect response to all this. The only rules are their rules. And I did tell him I couldn’t read his mind and he needed to tell me things, so that I could try and improve different issues. No response…cuz he was already making up new rules in his head for the next trick he could pull.

        My wish is that my kids don’t go through something similar in their own lives. We don’t know what we don’t know.

    • I remember the x accusing me of being negative one night years ago. Of course it flummoxed me at the time and I instantly felt at fault, my usual response which was akin to my ‘please forgive me for living I didn’t mean to ruin your life’ thoughts that reared their ugly and recriminating heads on many occasions which I began to accept as ‘normal’….I was big into self-improvement so I was glad to have a pointer as to what direction my next course of study should follow 🙂

      Anyway, when he let that one slip out of his snake lips something in me woke up because one of my primary ‘duties’ in our relationship was to be his cheerleader. I spent years and years bolstering his flagging ego – again a behavior I thought was normal for a wife to do. That night I paused, didn’t defend myself and just started observing and questioning close friends about how I came across. None described me as negative.

      I had no idea what gaslighting or blame shifting were at the time but now that I do I know what was happening and I am stunned at what a master he was at it – and still is. When we have had conversations in the past year – since NC – I am amazed in that either of the two mindfuckery techniques make their way into every conversation. Much easier to catch now since we have so few conversations so I know I was completely snowed under before because how could I have kept up!!!

      As someone mentioned above, he was indeed a master manipulator and what made it so impossible to detect was that he worked as a therapist and was a sober member of AA for decades….credentials that are supposed to mean integrity and honesty. Well, if you read yesterday’s blog you know that for some those credentials mean nothing but self image and a front for all sorts of aberrant behavior.

      NC has given me clear sight although I still get shocked when he tries to pull something over on me. Grey rock has saved me from many a hook tossed my way to try to reel me in. The x is also a TFC which adds to my shock when I catch him doing this stuff because I thought he was Mr. Wonderful….The more I like myself now the less I am liking him. It feels so good to have my old self back and no more head -in-the- blender moments. To know he is the disordered/crazy one and that I was only confused by HIS behavior.

      I am so grateful and thank you amyisfree for your clarity and the Downton Abbey quote.

    • Yes to all of this w/ my xw
      Yes
      Yes
      Yes.

      And I’m done. Done. Done.

      Well, you know.., still working it thru, but done with her.

  • This is a really good education for Chumps still unwinding the skein of their own bad experience. However, for me, the best response once I knew and accepted I was married to a mindfcuker (before I even knew about the exit Schmoopie) is crickets. Because there is truly nothing to say.

    Of course that was after I told him — once, harshly, clearly, unequivocally — that he was a nothing, a bad person with no depth of character, a con from start to finish. It was a Shawshank spew of the venom he’d injected into me over the marriage. Then, crickets.

    Hum. I may have mixed up the sequence of events. Felt good to get it off my chest. Thanks, Amiisfree, for opening the dialogue : )

    • I realized, after far too long trying to jump and address every little critique (mostly implied) that I was bailing with a sieve and the water was pouring in over the gunnels.

      I finally drew a line in the sand and said I would no longer accept his definitions of what was happening in our relationship. After one of his pronouncements, or excuses when called out, I would just look at him. I think that look, sometimes used with a raised eyebrow, irked him more than anything I else I could have said or done.

      My look said, “You are full of shit, you know I know you are full of shit, and I’m not going to waste my breathe telling you that we both know you are full of shit, so go take your shit elsewhere”.

      • Yep. When I started letting the silence do the talking he found himself a Schmoopie. Or shall I say, solidified things with the first viable victim to show up.

      • This^ When I was finally starting to get a clue, and learned to shut up and just observe the bullshit, was a major shift for me. I put down the rope and just wrote in my journal all the fucked up things he was telling me, trying to make sense of it. When you repeatedly say “I’m going to install a webcam in this kitchen to play back what just happened here”…you know you’re in trouble. I thought I really was going crazy. He was doing his best to make it appear so. Then I started adding, with a puzzled expression, “Do you even listen to yourself when you talk??” I had already found chumplady, but before Dday. Finding the phone records and receipts after he left made everything slide into place and make sense. I’m a data-driven decision maker and knew, unequivocally, exactly what had been going on. Done. Bless you Amiisfree and CLady/Nation!

        • Wow, kimisoverit, I found chump lady before a Dday too, and in fact have never had a Dday. I also used to say I needed to install web cams or start using my phone to record conversations. I may not be a cheated-on chump (I will never know and I don’t care at this point); I found this place by googling desperate questions to see if I really was crazy. I would say, out loud, “I’m NOT crazy, I’m not…” when my ex would start doing what I called ‘the both-ways shuffle’. I do wish I had those conversations recorded because to this day I can’t figure out how his mental gymnastics built up to such a mind fuck.
          I sometimes feel guilty for using chump lady as support (every day for years!) because I may not have been married to a cheater. But the gaslighting brought me here and chump lady pulled me out. (Once I started calling him out on his BS he divorced me. Didn’t like being seen for what he really was.)

  • I’ll be honest i had never heard the expression gas lighting before reading the archives , then thinking to myself that happened to me .

    I read up on it further on the internet and it started to sink in – but to me that was always my marriage .

    I was always wrong , i would repeat exact words back to him and he would deny saying it ( even though he only said it 30 seconds previously ) He called me crazy and making things up then i have always sat and thought ” Did i just make that up ? ” Maybe he never said that he is 100% correct i’m making things up in my head . He is right i need help and he is right he knows what i am thinking and maybe he didn’t say/ do that .

    I never knew this was a ” thing ” i never knew it had a name . I have always always ( and still do to a point ) think i was always 100% to blame . He never once apologized in 19 years for anything EVER . He always said i broke him and a part of him died inside because of my making things up in my head .

    Almost 6 months out from D day and him saying that I had finally broke him !! It is hard un chumping myself from this . My self doubt my going back over and over all this is taking its toll .
    Its hard thinking maybe i was not always to blame because i have found it easier thinking i am ALWAYS to blame .

    • you are NOT to blame. You will learn that here, when you see the script is the same: “you broke me” “i had no choice, because….because…because YOU!” What the bloody hell? You are not to blame karenb. Go be your best self and let those wet noodles slide right off because they aren’t sticking.

      • Thank You manna

        It is so hard as he is so easy going / placid / nice

        and i am crazy/ highly strung / and my family are scum ( exact words )

        When you are blamed for every single thing because i am the above it is so hard NOT to believe it
        I use to say to him if we ever had an argument why do you never say you are sorry ? Why do i always have to say sorry ?
        He said he was scared of me and scared i would reject his apology and a little bit of him died inside and i was breaking him . I truly believe(d) this .

        After reading up on this i am now slowly starting to see what it is .

        • If you had such enormous power that you could BREAK the fragile little flower with your words, you also had the power to keep him from cheating, which you obviously did not. That’s because HE had the power to do whatever he wanted while blaming you. Classic mindfuck.

        • Bullshit.

          I was told (retrospectively of course) that our relationship was so awful it made him ill and his friends or people that could ‘see’ him could see his sadness.

          He never said sorry to me either and frankly he never argued with me or raised anything as an issue.

          Funny that. I didn’t know what gaslighting was either, I had truly never heard of it and despite me having a million examples of this when we split I struggle every day to convince myself it wasn’t my fault.

          Thing is, even if it was, I wasn’t given fair warning, we rarely if ever argued about anything, any chance to correct anything or the truth at any point. It is the worst gaslighting and emotional abuse you can endure and it’s a head wreck. It’s way darker than the actual affair thing. I didn’t know people could be like this especially when someone you loves does it to you remember it’s very damaging.

          Frankly if you are capable of this you are one sick individual full stop in my mind and not part of my tribe.

          You’ll be interested to know that last week I sat on empty seats directly opposite the OW last week and she clocked me and got off that train like a bullet out of a gun and looked back to see if I was still there when she had turned the corner. Funny how she spends 50% of her life with my daughter but doesn’t have the balls to say one word to me. Not quite so full of it in those circumstances you see. They know exactly what they’ve done but you’ve got to dress it up in some way.

    • Karenb6702, you are not to blame!! I’m not saying you never did anything wrong your entire marriage. We all have as none of us are perfect! Us Chumps accept being blamed, because we can fix ourselves. We can try harder. If we stop whatever behavior we are being blamed for, then everything will be wonderful and our spouse will be happy with us and our marriage. But then they find out something else we supposedly said or did; the cycle repeats.

      My XH went back ten years and said I said to him with a sneer of my face, “I will never trust you.” I have absolutely no memory of saying this to him. He also said, a part of him died the night I said that to him. He said my comment came out of left field and he didn’t know why I said that to him. It’s quite possible I did say this to him as this was about the time I found out he went to Canada over ten times to fxck around with 100% naked strippers. This is also the same time he was being cold and mean to me when I was pregnant with our second child; I thought he was having an affair at this time and now I’m 100% convinced he was. I even apologized for saying something I don’t even remember saying it. I said, “Will you please forgive me for saying that?” And he sneered back at me and said, “I’ll think about it.” Nice “Christian” guy, hey?!

      My XH did all the same things yours did. I can’t even count how many times over the years he said, “I never said that.” Or “That never happened.” I honestly thought I was losing my mind, and after the discard and all the things he was saying and doing, my brain felt like scrambled eggs for well over a year. It takes a long time to get your brain back in order after how much it was fxcked with. I did the same thing you are doing — going over and over things in my head. I had to do it! Nothing was making sense to me. Keep reading CL and CN. Go over the archives if you haven’t already. Write down all the horrible things he said and did to you. Watch Youtube videos are narc abuse. Read books about emotional abuse. One day it will just click in your head and heart that you are not to blame. You were being abused and you’ll be able to say out loud , “I was in an abusive marriage.” and you will believe it! (((HUGS))) to you. 🙂

      • Thank You Martha – i have been reading your posts in the archives you are so brave and strong

        I am as far from Perfect as you can get but i was a really great wife . I did it everything and i mean everything . I don’t honestly know how i managed to break him .

        He said it was the night i went to the Cinema ( Feb 2019) that he was expecting me home to make meatloaf and i went to the cinema instead . Since Christmas all he has done is shout at me and silent treatments he never talked to me for days and days at a time .So i went to the cinema after work . I had / have no idea what i did to him to make him like this . I have racked and racked my brain thinking did I say/ do something ? I knew no matter what it was it would be my fault but i could not put my finger on it .

        As i say i never knew this was a thing to me this is the way it has always been . I am to blame for everything and i broke him .

        I will keep reading up on this as the more i read the more i see this is an actual thing and its not right to treat someone like this . Its NOT normal in marriage , I just never knew that .

        • Karenb, thank you so much for saying I’m strong. I don’t feel like it most days, but I survived everything I’ve been put through, so maybe it’s true? 🙂

          I was a great wife too. I did EVERYTHING too! I could easily make out a very long list of everything I did for him and our family. I will not bore you with the list, because I have no doubt in my mind our lists are just about the same and also very lengthy. And in the end he said right to my face, “You never took good care of me.” If I would have been quick thinking at the time, I wish I would have asked him, “Name one thing that I didn’t do to take good care of you.” FOR SURE his response would have been crickets.

          Karenb, you did NOTHING to break him. He is not broken. He’s a liar and a cheater. He’s blame shifting all his horrible behaviors back onto you. He wants you to question yourself. He wants you to take the blame. He’s used to manipulating you into taking the blame and then getting you to apologize for something you never even did. Like all of us who were continuously gaslit for years and years, you are realizing you are not to blame and you were in abusive marriage. Cheating and messing with someone’s mind and reality is abuse. He’s trying to make you feel guilty for going to the cinema instead of making him meatloaf. Well, he’s an adult just like you and can make his own meatloaf! I wouldn’t want to come home to a cold and mean man. You were practicing self care by going to the cinema instead. I guarantee he would have come up with some other excuse if you didn’t go to the cinema. He’s looking for a reason to blame you for his behavior. You are not to blame!

          Way back in 1994, I started a new job. One of my new co-workers was going through a divorce. Her stbxh said he wanted a divorce, because “you never took a walk with me in the woods”. I can’t tell you how many times she said that to all of us. She couldn’t make sense of it. Well, the truth was he had a schmoopie and was looking for any ol’ excuse to say she failed at something he wanted and he needed to get out of the marriage. Cheaters are ALL THE SAME! They all say stupid shit to justify their actions. Keep repeating to yourself, “I’m not to blame! I didn’t do anything wrong. I was a great wife!” 🙂

    • I, too, was accused of “breaking him”.

      When, exactly did this epic shattering occur? Let me paint the picture:

      5th dday attempt at reconciliation. We were supposed to go fishing with my daughter (not ex’s child, thank goodness). Instead, our day is dealt dealing with ex narcopaths ex wife who has contacted ex narcopaths dad, to tell him that she is seriously considering calling Childrens Aid to report ex narcopath for drinking and driving with their two boys, for leaving them alone in the house while they were sleeping to get wasted at a party across the road (they were found wandering the sharp corner of the road where cars speed, crying and calling for their dad), for boating and drinking (and crashing the boat on a rock leaving a big dent in the boat) also with the boys, and for the boys having to walk ex narcopath home on Canada day from down town celebrations, only for him to pick all over himself and the boys have to change his clothes and put him to bed.

      This all occurred after I left him on the 4th dday. And according to ex narcopath was a direct result of my abandonment of him.

      Later in the day, after asking his parents whether he has changed at all (duh, I was pretty trauma bonded), and they said no, he and I went for subs and I asked him if he deleted all the girls from POF that he had been talking to during our breakup (he claims that is not cheating because we were broken up).

      He gets the deer-in-the-headlights look, and stammers some bullshit about how I hate his friends. So he has to make new ones. With girls from POF. I demand to see his phone. Oops. He left it at home. We drive to his place, with him pleading for me not to do this.
      I read the messages from him to the other women, and they are sick, the exact same shit hr used to text me when we were dating. His script does change.

      I toss the phone on the couch and stand up and tell him that is is, we are done FOR GOOD and head out to my car.

      I am livid, and he is pleading with me not to go, to give him another chance. He is crying and hanging on to the mirror of my car door as I burn gravel backing out of his driveway.

      A year later, when he hovers me and we talk, he tells me that moment is when he knew that I “broke him”.

      And I said, really? Because i remember you seriously hoovering me for 2 whole weeks BEGGING me to forgive you, sending me flowers, telling me you wanted to spend the rest of your life cherishing me and making it up to me.
      Uh huh.

      At the end of the two weeks he had practically moved in with a new victim and her kids (not even the one he was texting from POF!)

      So yeah. Their whole “you broke me” is bullshit.

      Cause while dude claims he is broken is hooking up with new victims, and I’mthe one over here having a nervous breakdown, in therapy, reading everything on cluster b personality disorders and getting std testing.

      Sure. They are broken. Insert eye roll.

      • OMG he sounds like a lunatic treating his children and you like that . I am so glad you are away from him .

        My thinking is a little bit different as i genuinely believe i have broken him and he is just done with me
        No Hoovering
        No contact since D day – i mean nothing at all not 1 text , not 1 call just nothing
        just packed and left moved straight in with her . He never tried to save the marriage never even asked to .
        So i still think Yep it’s my fault i broke him . Maybe with more time i will look back and see its not all my fault or indeed i never broke him but just now this is still my mindset – Arrgghh i wish it wasn’t

        • Karenb, you DID NOT break him. Some men and women just run away and never look back. Have you read the book “Runaway Husbands”? It is VERY good and you might find some help there.

          He broke you! Broke your heart. Broke your mind. Broke your trust. I’m not saying you are broken as in broken forever. You can and will heal. You will get super mighty when you realize what a chump you were and you will be determined to never get chumped again! You will be mighty and will not allow people to blame you for their actions.

          If you XH was so broken inside, how was he able to move right on into another relationship? He took no time at all to heal from his so-called “brokenness”. No books were read. No counseling. No therapy. No time spent on the Internet trying to figure out what happened to him and how he allow himself to be a victim to you. None of that happened, right? And who is the one searching the Internet, reading up on gaslighting? That would be you! He is not broken at all. He’s a liar and a cheater. He’s also an emotional abuser. You could have been the most perfect wife ever. Looking like a model every single day. Sex kitten in the bed. Sex twice a day 365 days a year. And guess what? He still would have cheated and he still would have found some fault in you. He’s the problem. Not you! ((((HUGS))))

        • Nah, this guy in an arse. How many people have you met (including yourself) that honestly are soooooo awful right, that you can imagine living with them would ‘break’ them. Answer, very very few. And frankly if someone is happy in their relationship and it’s supposedly so damaging, and the don’t say anything, then they are utter cowards.

          You didn’t break anyone and you know it but I understand that you keep going back to it but if you keep the loop going round and round (which it will right now) you will keep coming back to the bit where as a grown adult in charge of your faculties will say yeah, that’s a bit far-fetched.

          God, they are so weak.

    • You broke him! What a lot of bullshit. Broken people end up in psychiatric hospitals, or sleeping 18 hours a day, or sobbing for 16 hours, not banging whores.

      • Ha ha ha ha – Thank You Tempest for the laugh .

        I know deep down in my heart i never broke him and i know it is blame shifting . I just never ever knew about Gas Lighting either this is truly a lesson in life . I just thought this was me

        I would be accused of making things up in my head ( Now i ask how did he know what was going on inside my head )

        Anything he said that i repeated back like
        Him – ” I’m too good for you Karen i go out my way to be nice to you ”
        Me ” How are you too good for me ? How do you go out of your way for me ? You are supposed to be nice to me I am your wife ”
        Him – ” I never said that , you only hear what you want to hear you are always the same making shit up in your head ”
        Me – “You said that not 30 seconds ago ”
        Him – ” No I never ”

        ** Silent treatment ** Until i apologize for my behavior

        I thought this was NORMAL !! I have always then sat and thought well maybe Karen he didn’t say it like that maybe you are making a mountain out of a molehill . See he is right you do blow things out of proportion . Maybe he is right maybe i just misheard him and i am making it up in my head .
        Go apologize so he will talk to you again .
        I never knew this was a thing I have always assumed it is me

        • Mine used to “have arguments with me” all the time. “You think this and you think that and you think Im this” and so on. I remember one time turning to him and saying “apparently weve just argued for 15 minutes and I dont remember opening my mouth”. That shut him up, but of course at the beginning I didnt see it for the BS it was. (Again, sorry for the punctuation, Ive got keyboard problems).

        • Karenb, oh girl, what you describe is passive-aggressive mindfuck evil. He knows you were a good wife; he knows exactly what a great person you are! These evil assholes ALL know that their chump spouses are nice people who LOVE.
          They do these mind fucks to us to cover up their wrongdoing, and project the shame/self-doubt, self-loathing…whatever, onto us. I used to get accused of having a lover all the time. Projecting his crap onto me. When he was really drunk and enraged, I swear his eyes turned black like bottomless pits. Pure evil.

    • Believe us when we say “No Contact” is critical to your healing. That self doubt eventually turns to burning anger (at least it did with me) once you realize what a complete and total dick he was to make YOU doubt YOURSELF! I was furious. Prior to that I was immersed in self doubt and could only see that if I had I been more loving, more appreciative, more sensitive, more EVERYTHING, then my marriage would not have ended. You know, he even made me believe that I was at fault by taking an unnecessary risk when I drove his truck down a gravel road and hit a rock about the size of a grapefruit, bent the rim and ripped the sidewall. Both had to be replaced ($$$). He yelled, “You took an unnecessary risk!!” Another common complaint, “You made a unilateral decision.” He’d use that one on me whenever I had to make an on-the-spot decision and he wasn’t available to bounce it off. It wasn’t till way, way after I was divorced (at least 5 months) when I finally realized that I was being gaslighted for years. And that was when I realized, “Hey! Wait! What about the unnecessary risk he took by exposing me to STDs whenever he screwed his skank!!” or “Hey! Wait! What about the unilateral decision he made when he decided to screw around on the side!!” (By the way, his truck was a 4-wheel drive with an off-road package. My brother had to convince me that it was a freak accident and not that I took an unnecessary risk.) Talk about being a nincompoop. How did I never think about those things while I was married and being gaslighted? Well…, it’s because I am a trusting person. I believed the dick because I never thought that he could be lying to me because I wouldn’t have lied to him. Now I may be a bit jaded, but I’m probably now much more cautious. I don’t outright believe someone unless I’ve seen repeated behavior that shows the person for who (s)he says (s)he is… in all situations. It’s amazing how this whole experience has enlightened me to people everywhere.

  • Very good! . They are so good at turning the tables!

    My ex lied, cheated, estranged my family, yet when I broke down and couldn’t take it anymore it was my fault for not wanting to attend even more therapy and save the family. Every encounter with them is an opportunity for more abuse.

  • Cheaters really are super injured, shallow, soul missing people. They use sex with other partners to feel better about themselves. They could be buying Hallmark figurines of the month or a shopping spree of garden gnomes, but they like the high of orgasm with ‘new’ schmoopie whom they don’t have to have a deep, soulful and committed relationship. This is why, in the end, most don’t marry their affair partner unless it’s for image management. And, those marriages have a super high failure rate.

    When Chump is harsh, critical, judgmental…chump is really pushing on Cheater’s injury. Their ‘overreaction’ is proportional to their injury. Just like if one had a broken bone, torn muscle, or bad tooth. The doctor pushes on it, and the patient yelps.

    Until cheater works on fixing core issues…. they will continue to dress over the problem with their fix. Unfortunately, it’s not likely a cute garden gnome they are collecting. But an std…a broken, hurt family….and often some financial ruin and lost jobs.

    • I know people who had truly horrendous childhoods who are kind, honest people. I believe that cheaters are super entitled, and think they are superior.

      • Just basing on the people I know who had rough childhoods, people seem to go one of two ways: There are those that use it as an excuse to do the same to others, and those that use it as a reason to never do that to anyone, ever. (There’s also those people who are chaotic messes, but to me they seem to be variant of the latter but without any healthy coping mechanisms or stabilizing influences in their lives.) Still, that choice seems to come down to character. Who they are and how they chose to treat others. I hate the excuse-makers, but the people who have my undying love and loyalty are the ones who turned out to be solid gold despite all the shit life threw at them. Them often being weird as a result of all that is just bonus!

    • I would say from reading around the internet that MOST DO go on to marry their AP .

      I know mine will as soon as ink on Divorce is dry .

      • So did mine. And I am over-the-moon happy that he did marry his skank. He dumped me, never looked back, and ‘is happier than he ever was with me.’ I was devastated! But…, 4+ years later, I am so thrilled that he never looked back. I was able to get a divorce lickity split and spent time healing instead of being mindfucked like others here on CN who have their cheaters periodically pop back into their lives. You need to go “No Contact” to heal. And as CL says, SHE WON THE TURD!! Trust that he sucks, karenb6702.

      • Yes, it seems to be common practice (unlike years ago) cheaters marrying their affair partners. These marriages do not last. I think the percentage is like 75% of marriages that started with an affair divorce. I personally think the rate is higher.

      • Karenb6702, I hope mine marries his ho worker. She deserves that. I also hope he keeps the side chick. She deserves that. They can have that old, fat, sick man, he is all theirs.

        I’m done. I quit.

  • Might cancel my counselling tomorrow Amiisfree, you have pretty succinctly said what I needed her to say.

    And of course, as well as the cruel, jaded and critical there is ‘bitter’. Aren’t we all so ‘bitter’.

    The other I tried to remind myself of all the time now he’s swanning off in to La La Land in twue wuv, arranging his wedding, nothing can touch them is that ‘past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour’. Bide you time and watch this space.

    • Spot on about the “bitter” add! Indeed! And I am sure others have their own unique cheaterspeak-isms that fits these molds, too.

      I am glad for any help I can offer. As we grow, so we learn. 😊

      • I’d add controlling as well. That was my X’s favorite any time I wanted him to do something for or with the family instead of with his “friends”

        • Oh Dudders, I got the “Why are you so bitter? I need you to not be so bitter. That is all Thirtythreeyearsachump can do for me. Don’t be bitter.” This was in marital counseling. The counselor defended me saying I was entitled to my emotions. We never went back.

          I found my own therapist. Chump Lady and Chump Nation have provided me the very best therapy. I am deeply grateful for the love and support I found here.

          • Thank god (with hindsight) couples counselling was ever on the cards. I literally would have stuck my head in a blender without the lid on just to deal with it.

            It would have been an abusive head wreck. Yay to CL and CN and my ever so practical therapist helping me see that I am no alone, nor am I to blame.

    • I cancelled marriage counseling yesterday. Probably the healthiest thing I have done post Dday. Thought to myself, we glossed right over the betrayal and straight to “how you allowed space to enter your marriage.”
      Went to 3 sessions and was absolutely re-traumatized every time.
      Feeling small and cowardly for not rushing into divorce because it will cost me a fortune that I just recently came into – the same week cheater started her affair.
      But I do feel somewhat strong deciding that nobody is going to imply or proclaim that I had any part in the destruction of my “family”.
      Dealing with the MC was easy, simply left a voicemail. Still a rookie chump in terms of dealing with cheater’s bullshit.
      All I can really hang my hat on is I’ll never be a lying piece of shit empty shell like these low life cheaters.

      • I don’t know where you live, but in CA a personal bequest is not considered community property and is not subject to distribution to spouses upon divorce.

        Hang onto your anger; it’ll help you to get through the first stages, then you can completely eliminate the creeps from your life with “No Contact”.

      • Mac, I remember your early posts and how you agonised over divorce and spackled a lot. You’ve come a long way, dude! Don’t let anyone or anything, even your own inner critic, make you rush into anything- you have the measure of the situation and are in control now! Best to you

  • Cheater’s answer on me going no contact to him and his family:
    It’s apparent you never loved me if you don’t want to remain friends and never see any of us again. You dropped my parents who have better manners than yours since they would have been willing to stay in contact with you.

    On my friends who stuck with me:
    You only surround yourself with people who mirror your words and feelings. You can’t take criticism and cut off people who offer a different moral view on this. You should be careful not to lose all your friends one day.

    Well, actually apart from your parents, I haven’t met anyone who has tried to offer this ‘other’ view. Even your best mate and bro who resides in the actual Switzerland were so – ahhhm ‘critical’ of you?!

  • Love this post! Great example of growth and healing!!!

    Here’s my real time example of how CN has helped me heal…I was a chump for 15 years had no idea about the internet strangers, other couples and co workers blah blah blah. So anyway left that marriage 3 years ago. Been divorced for 2. Yay!

    So, now I’ve been dating here and there. Recently started exploring a relationship with guy i went to high school with. Things began developing at an appropriate pace. I was eyes wide open looking for red flags and saw none. He said he was “all in” and told me he felt closer to me than he had anyone else in years….we were maybe 2 plus months in and so far so good. Until this weekend when I happened to find another woman’s earring in his bedroom under the bed…
    The Gaslighting commenced, the charm began to flood.
    BUT I could hear CL’s voice “is that acceptable to you?” I was able to put his words through the UBT and I walked away. Immediately!
    His “but I really really like you please don’t do this to me, to us. We never said we were exclusive” text was responded to with a simple peace sign emoji.

    THANK YOU Chump Nation! You’ve made me a Champ! No longer a Chump!!

    • Great job, Manna!!! You saved yourself from a cheater! You trusted yourself and what you were seeing! I love this so much!! 🙂

    • Manna – I have the utmost respect for you. CL can give us all the good advice she has to offer but when it comes to actually applying that good advice to our life experiences it can be difficult. You did good. You rock.

      • I will be healed when I value my own mental health over $$$. That will resolve this nightmare and the solution is obvious. But damn it is so difficult to actually do it. My hesitation has made me feel so cowardly and weak. But then I feel enraged when I realize that cheater skates through it while I pay – no matter what.

        • There is so much to process and deal with, it’s not cowardly. Get a good lawyer and get someone who has your back. Especially when you didn’t cause the mess dealing with the fall out is horrific and also usually costly and yeah we’d all probably avoid it if we could so it’s not cowardly. It’s totally normal to want to avoid it but well done on ducking out of MC quick sharp x

  • You can also say “that’s unreasonable” to anything fuckwits say. Said calmly and without emotion drives them crazy. And just keep repeating it, no other explanation necessary. Another tactic I used before I went gray rock was to respond to all requests with “I’ll think about it.” That also drove him crazy and of course I never intended to make a final decision. They just live for the moment of getting an immediate reaction. When you don’t give them one they slink away like the snakes they are.

    • Haha, I did that too, a lot of “I’ll think about it” and also, “well, that’s your opinion”, use no emotion, give them nothing!

    • yep — especially during the forced co-habitation. My version was “I’ll consider it” and it drove her completely batshit.

      She wanted me to forward her photos and videos of the outings I had alone with our daughters. “I’ll consider it.” Rage Channel commenced about what a dick I was being, she was going to inform her lawyer about what a terrible co-parent I was being, etc.

      I created a shutterfly book for M the Younger that contained all of her funny turns of phrase and malapropisms that I’d collected over the years. KK asked me to order a copy for her, and that she’d pay for it. “I’ll consider it.” Rage Channel commenced about what a dick I was being, she was going to inform her lawyer about what a terrible co-parent I was being, etc.

  • God. I needed this! Iam still being gaslit and so is my son all for impression management because my stbx narc is a “Man Boy” and still wants to sparkle in everyone’s eyes. Great comebacks! Need to internalize. No more freezing or jaw to the floor when he says lying narc speak.

  • The last time my Ex was in my house he told me as he was leaving that “he’d never loved me”. I just looked at him and said “That’s not what you said twenty years ago, so you were lying then or you’re lying now. Either way you’re a liar.” Made it so much easier to drop kick him…

  • Here is the gold nugget:

    “C DOES trust. It’s just that C trusts the actual data C is receiving rather than the illusions and half-truths G wants to feed C.”

    Trust your eyes, ears, and gut!

  • This reminds me of every time I brought up anything he didn’t like. “That was the past!” is what he’d say. The “past” became ridiculously recent. Once it was about an event that had happened TWO HOURS ago. These types have all kinds of tricks in their bag.

    • The Dickhead said he didn’t want to go down memory lane. This just a week after he filed. I told him that I had to know what happened to MY life and this was not going down memory lane. I never did get an explanation. A five-minute talk and he was done.

  • I often found that people who have narcisistic tendencies (this falls under the cheater category as well) tend to not like anything critical about their actions but are free to say anything they want about others and if you do actually critisize them for what they are doing they then label your cirtism as being mental abuse.

    Give you an example

    Chump: Trying to intervene in a situation between Gaslighter and child because the gaslighter is yelling harshly at the child.

    Gas-lighter: What do you know about parenting? Your parents never loved you!

    Chump: That really hurt, what you said!

    Gas-lighter: It is the truth and I only speak the truth!

    So in that situation (yes that is actually a real situation) you can see the intimidation factor/vector of attack by the Gas-lighter. However fast forward several months and you point out they lied and are having an affair and they yell at you for Mental Abuse.

    What I found as the best way to deal with these people is DO NOT EXPLAIN!

    You want to really mess with them, when you catch them lying about something.

    You simply say

    – You are lying, (with a straight face) and walk away.

    Don’t explain and don’t show any emotion. This drives them crazy because their only goal is to try to control you and when you take this approach it is clear to them they have no control.

  • Cruel/jaded/critical

    Cruelty would imply that the chump broke the marriage vows. They didn’t. Fuckwit did. Fuck you Fuckwit.

    Jaded just shows us that we arent falling for the lies anymore. Trust broken has to be earned back and it’s never the same. Consequences. Yes they apply to even you Fuckwit.

    Critical. HA! I made an entire career out of interpreting data critically. That same career kept a roof over your head and food in your belly. Fuckwit doesn’t get to cry about a critical mind just because data doesn’t add up.

  • Yep. For years I thought I had trust issues. That’s what ex-hole would tell me. Then, being the good person that I am, I would examine my heart and say…yes, I don’t trust him. I must have trust issues!! I will work on being a better, more trusting person. ::smh::

    I’ll never forget the look on his face when I had a complete epiphany the last time he told me I had trust issues. I answered, “No. I don’t. I am married to someone who is untrustworthy.” Priceless!!

    • Same here, Hell2theNo. I was repeatedly told I had “trust issues”. Funny thing is, I never ever had “trust issues” with anyone besides him. Not even any former boyfriends. After he wrote out a very long Divorce Letter to me and told me once again that I had “trust issues” and he wanted a divorce because of my “trust issues”. I said right to his face, “You are not trustworthy.” I could see it on his face that he knew I was right, but of course he shook his head “no” as to deny that he wasn’t trustworthy.

  • Boy oh boy, does this one hit home. I’m mostly no contact with the occasional email and/or text exchange regarding our son and even then, I keep to the point and am very succinct. Being an NPD, he has mirrored me… which is great, frankly.

    However, just a few weeks back we went round and round… I lost my MEH when my 23 yo stepson asked his half brother (my 13yo son) to pee in a cup for him so he could fake a drug test for employment (BTW… my amazing kid told him NO… three times!). To say I lost my shit would be an understatement. The gaslighting as AMIISFREE exampled above ignited as I called out Mr. Sparkles for his failure to parent a responsible child (because he was too busy getting his own agenda and needs met on Craigslist, etc.)…and that my stepson’s moral compass was created by watching his Dad “control” his Mom (and then subsequently me when he came to live with us.) I was told, in front of the GF, that his being a cheater during our marriage (and still now) has nothing to do with his son’s predatory behavior toward his youngest son and that I should keep those comments to myself. And I held my ground.

    I would have normally walked away from the conversation but I refused to be gaslighted and blameshifted by him (and in front of the GF) anymore (insert Norma Rae ringing the bell image). It was EMANCIPATING to stand up for myself in an intelligent way that involved zero name calling, stayed fact based, and shut down the need for further response from Mr. Sparkles indicating I would only continue to speak the truth.

    MEH is the way for sure, but sometimes (I think) you have to stand up for yourself #ChumpProud #wouldn’ttakenothingformyjourneynow because I still have a kid watching and he needs to see what respectful empowerment and boundaries look like from me. And, he needs to know I have his back from the gaslighting his Dad is putting off on him now.

    Thanks for this – needed to see it today.

  • If I only knew what I did now. My XH was a pro at gaslighting. Through our entire marriage he did this, However, I did not realize what it was until a a few years ago. Everytime I would bring up anything that he did not like etc. He would gaslight.
    He would say. You said that not me.
    Only a person like you would think like that.
    No one likes you not even your daughter.
    I only went away with her because you told me to.
    I thought you cheated on me 30 years ago. So I thought you would not mind.
    Only a moron would think or say something like that.
    All you do is lie. Just like your Mother.
    I do not remember it like that. You must be dreaming again.
    It is the weekend must you bring this up again,
    I could go on and on. Every time I would try to tell him how is affair with my cousin broke me. Asked him questions about the affair it was never the right time. He was so good at gaslighting that I never saw it coming.

    • I’m in it right now. Today’s article is helpful though. It is clearly futile to attempt to pry answers from proven shameless liars.
      I hope I can shut down the next stream of bs with skill. Some golden comments in here that I will be utilizing immediately.
      Last night I pointed out that innocuous details like how did you meet were changing. I had her post Dday ‘apology’ letter in hand and pointed out that the first ‘meeting’ between scumbags was – how should I put it – evolving.
      I thought here it is! Solid proof you continue to bullshit me and haven’t been truthful all along. The result I was hoping for, some type of understanding that she can’t keep lying to my face, was predictably not going to happen.
      Instead I got my head spun around with even more outrageous nonsense (gaslighting).
      I need to do 2 things: do not feed the troll and do not feed the troll.

  • Great article!

    One thing I learned in Reconciliation (bleh) with Xhole is that he literally cannot tolerate ANY criticism from any source about anything.

    I think this ties into the gaslighting. Any time you try to discuss him, he has to make it about you. And my obvious faults were only good for so much attention, and he started making up vague, weird stuff that you really couldn’t prove/disprove. You’re crazy, nobody likes you, etc

  • My exes response to me refusing to allow the sale of the house without paper written up of agreement was to say ‘you have trust issues’. no shit sherlock, i wonder why. i laughed so hard for ages. i knew he was just angry and goading me so i didnt respond.

  • I got –

    You’re too sensitive.
    You over-think everything.
    I didn’t say that.
    You never said that.

    Nothing I ever said mattered or he just didn’t care. Yes, I do matter and my thoughts are sometimes really logical and have good construct.

    • Towards the end when I told him not to speak to me “in that tone of voice”, he said, “You’re TOO SENSITIVE!” I calmly said, “Whether I’m sensitive or not does not excuse your bad behavior. DO NOT SPEAK TO ME LIKE THAT.” That’s when I finally started showing my backbone. And yes, that’s when I started experiencing the discard. YAY!! I am SO glad I was discarded!

  • Gaslighting is awful. His emotional turned physical affair started about 1 year prior to d-day. I remember him being envious/resenting my new side hustle and I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t like I was getting manis/pedis with the $ I was paying for childcare & groceries with the money. About 4 months before d-day I remember watching TV with him and out of the blue, he said “you’re such an old lady.” I remember going into another room and crying, later I called him out and he just shrugged it off and gave a half assed apology. About 3 months prior to d-day, I found sone Google searches about leaving a relationship. I asked him then if there was something he needed to tell me and also if there was someone else? “I wouldn’t cheat, I would never do that to you.” He was always so convincing and had no problem lying to my face. The double life eventually caught up with him and in basically a mental fart he blurted out about the affair and blamed me for all the marital problems that lead to his cheating. I had no clue I was married to a cheating narc. Since d-day, I’ve discovered he is textbook narc: idealized, devalued, new supply lined up, discard. He probably wanted some triangulation but enough is enough.

  • My ex-best friend in his best Bill Clinton voice told me, “Yes, she stayed overnight, but there was no sex”. Later, my fiancée commented only that she had stayed overnight in his appt. because he reminded her of me, and therefore felt safe. My response to her should have promptly been, “You betrayed our commitment to be married because you wanted sex with someone else. You knew how much it would hurt me and you didn’t care. That was incredibly hurtful and no amount of groveling will ever repair that bridge.” Instead, I, Mr. Superchump, decided to let it slide and give her the benefit of the doubt. Six months later I got THE letter all sevicemen dread – she was pregnant with somebody elses child (not ex-best friend’s)- completely nuking our relationship forever. Lesson learned, a little too late, but learned none-the-less.

    • Sounds like she was your fiance – so not married. That is good. Anyway, even if married you are hopefully out. Also what is wrong with the best F. Hopefully, both will get their come-uppance

  • I don’t know if this is common or rare, but Cheater X did this fun thing where he would do something shitty and hurtful, and if I felt (and expressed) hurt, his response was to criticize me for “just wanting to wallow in [my] own self-pity.” Gaslighting for sure, but also a jab at my character, as if I was overly self obsessed by feeling the pain he inflicted, and thinking it was worth mentioning.

    Has anyone else experienced this?

    • Mine used to pick a fight by asking,”What’s wrong? Is there something bothering you?”

      Before I understood what he was really doing, I would be honest and attempt to give a truthful accurate answer about what was bothering me in order to facilitate good communication.

      For example:

      Cheater: What’s wrong? Is there something bothering you?

      Me: Cheater, I really need help around the house with such and such because I have to do this and that and take our child to a lesson. Will you please help me do xyz?

      Cheater: (would respond with one of the following)
      I do so much around here. You don’t appreciate me.
      You treat me like a servant.
      You really need to treat me better.
      I don’t like your tone.

      Me: I would then defend myself from his attack, unaware that he just successfully deflected my legitimate attempt to get help from my partner, the other adult in the household.

      Finally I caught onto the pattern.

      Anytime he felt like picking a fight, he would asked me “What’s wrong?”

      But he wasn’t asking the question to help me fix the situation.
      He didn’t care what was wrong, it was just an opening for me to complain and then he could fight with me about it.
      And unbeknownst to me at the time, that would give him a reason in his sick mind to justify his affair with Schmoopie.

      Well I quit playing the game. I called him out on that shit. I told him I would no longer answer that particular question because every time I did, he used it to berate and attack me for answering it.
      He didn’t like it when I quit playing the game.

      • That’s a good one. If you voice what is wrong, you are attacked. If you suck it up and say nothing is wrong, the bulldozer just keeps on moving. So sorry. Glad you left the casino. The odds there are really bad unless you are running the game.

      • Youcantpolishaturd-same tactic by my narc.He also added that I was too defensive and needed to apologize for whatever thing I needed help with as I was belittling him and not appreciating the (the handful) of small things he did do. Said I have a personality disorder. Ugh. Fell for it too many times.

      • Another label:

        HCP = High Conflict Person.

        Yes, I know that is what narcs are but that label helped me to further recognize when I was/am being set up.

        Another good line I use with one my kids who is HCP is “Why isn’t asking for and answer; it is asking for an argument.”

    • Survivor, YES. My STBX used to say cruel things in a jovial manner, urging his friends to join in the mockery. When I started refusing to laugh at his passive aggressive humor he angrily accused me of having no sense of humor. He would huffily tell me “You don’t have a sense of humor.”

      He used to get angry at me when I was sick. It was inconvenient for him to do without my service.

      I am done with his abuse. Looking forward to the Land of Meh!

  • What I learned after some research since I still have to deal with the malignant narc fuckwit is this:

    Narc: character assassination overt or covert, word salad, gaslighting….blah…blah…blah

    Me: Sorry you feel that way.

    Also me: You are entitled to your opinion.

    Also me: I’m sure you are correct (this usually with sarcastic undertones but just ever so slight he can’t latch on to that. Yes, Chumps, you can mindfuck them right back.)

    Either of the above work like a charm to leave him speechless and confused even. You are supposed to react, get upset, defend yourself and you aren’t doing it. Their poison is instantly neutralized.

    Whatever you do, do not jump in to defend or explain yourself. It’s what they want you to do, it’s what makes them feel powerful and shows they have power over you. So you deny it to them no matter what they say, no matter how absurd, ridiculous, or hurtful what they are saying is. Remember where it’s all coming from – a disordered person who enjoys hurting people.

    We are taught to communicate, however, when it comes to narcs…..you cannot sit down and have a rational conversation with someone who is fundamentally irrational. You cannot reason with someone who is determined to be unreasonable. You cannot come to any kind of agreement with someone who is determined to disagree just because they can. You cannot stay calm with someone who is determined to upset you. The solution with people like that is actually do not communicate. Walk away.

    • FoolishChump, I think you really are a wise chump. It has taken Thirtythreeyears but I finally came to the same conclusion.

      Chump Lady and Chump Nation saved my life. No contact is the road to Meh!

  • Wow, Amiisfree! You are on the same level as Nassim Taleb, I’m reading Skin in the Game, and your analysis and strategy belong in it. Super! CN rocks!

  • Since breakup of my marriage and my world turned upside down by Dday, preceding devalue/discard and a horrible wreckonciliation. My point of view of so many things has been opened up. Like the OP said “what has been seen can not be unseen” and many times of a-ha moments I feel like I’m in the damn Matrix.

    The biggest one was that my mom is a narc. So many classic traits and I’ve had to set boundaries so basically we don’t even talk about much anymore. Which is sad for my daughter heart but I’m working on that.

    One time while I was having a bad low day (I’m still barely 5 months post wreckonciliation BTW right now, this was 3 months ago) I was crying and just overall sad and depressed.

    She then said to me “well at least you don’t have it as bad as So and so because reasons”. And with tears in my eyes I said “that’s like telling someone who’s happy that they can’t be that happy because someone else has it better!”

    Never ever wants me to validate my own feelings. Nah to the nah not anymore. Fuck that.

  • One of Chump Nation’s citizens made the astute observation that when somebody accuses you of being judgmental it’s usually because they are trying to manipulate you.

  • My cheater also claimed that I’m “too critical” and he liked his ho because she wasn’t critical.

    My response; “That would be because you didn’t treat her like shit the way you do me. You were her slave. You did whatever she wanted, never said no to her and you treated her like a queen. What could she possibly have had to criticize?”
    That shut him up. Sheesh. These cheaters are pretty dumb.

    • Chumpupthevolume, just give it time. He will treat her the same when the new wears off the fuck. She will get critical once she truly sees him.

      Just think! You will be busy living your best life free of that particular dumpster fire. Aren’t you happy to be free of the gaslighting? I am!!!

  • My ex used gas lighting our entire marriage. I didn’t understand that gas lighting was a thing.

    She would say things and then deny she ever said it (immediately after she said it and I called her out on it).

    If I had my shit together about cheaters/chumps back then I wouldn’t have let her off the hook. Man, it was so crazy!

    I love being at Meh and being bulletproof these days!

  • i love this…so well done!

    i have been AMAZED at how many seemingly-normal people

    upon hearing me describe my ex-wife’s actions (multiple affairs, several serious crimes)

    in pretty clinical, non-abusive language

    will say things like “i’m uncomfortable with this level of negativity”

    (oh me too! i wish she hadn’t destroyed our family like this!)

    “yeah but, like, there are two sides to every story”

    (su-uuure, that’s true on some level…but i’m pretty sure the side that explicitly takes it up the ass in exchange for additional investment in a business isn’t the ‘good’ side, or do you disagree?)

    “i don’t really agree or disagree….i guess i’m just uncomfortable judging another woman for what she does with her body”

    (i…see. welp, have a good life!)

    it’s been a pretty good “friend-sorting machine” for me

    turns out a lot of people get REALLY uncomfortable

    when the damage is permanent & the judgments are severe

    Rock On, Chumps!

  • I really like this? You accuse me of something, so let’s take a look at that. I’ve said this, but if I was doing what you said I was doing, this is what I would say, so what you’re accusing me of is incorrect. And I get to say all those real things, too, and you gave me permission to do it to prove that’s not what I was saying. Perfect, thanks Ami.

  • Deflection and blame shifting are very common with cheaters and even just immature adults who are never wrong.
    If someone tries to hold them to account for their behaviour they will admit no wrong-doing but blame their behavior on others or deny it or go on the attack. You are critical, angry, judgemental, high-maintenance.
    No point trying to reason with them. They will not admit the truth. They create an excuse or smoke-screen then work to maintain that illusion as their truth.

  • This is my prose poem to the X gas lighter:
    And another kind of light in memory now. Soft, warm, and comforting.
    Flickering light, as if from a lamp. A wick dipped into a colorful pool, and scented ever so subtly, to cover up the wretched stench that permeates a room.
    Nauseating, heavy.
    My head’s a half ton weight, on my shoulders, a world of doubt.
    My stomach’s rolling in confusion. I’m breathing in the sickening fumes. Toxic, but in such a lovely glow. Contradictions swim in my head, and heart are pounding. Reality is out of grasp. Entirely out of my hands. Can’t wrap my life around it.
    Insanity reigns.
    Here. In this ambiguous space that you provide, and gas light to perfection.

  • Great job, Amiisfree! You chose great terms, and we can add too them.

    “You’re bitter.”
    No, bitter would be “What you did is so terrible that I will spend the next thousand years wanting your eyeballs to boil in your head so I can put the photos on Instagram. And I will forever hate any human being who has your initials and anyone who works at the fast food franchise where Schmoopie works the drive-through window.”

    “You’re paranoid.”
    No, it’s not paranoid to think that you are lying and cheating. Paranoid would be: “Schmoopie is a CIA agent sent to ruin my life because I wrote that letter to the town council.”

    “You’re trying to control me.”
    No. It’s not “controlling you” to expect that you account for your time since you are not trustworthy. Controlling would be: “Don’t forget your body cam, your GPS monitor, and the lo-jack for your car. Got them all linked to my laptop. Have a great day!”

  • I like the Bill Parcels quote. when asked about how good his team looked on paper with all of its stars but their team record was 1 game over 500 Parcels said: you are what your record says you are.

  • I used this approach today! Ex making me into the bad guy because I don’t want to be friends with the OW/wife… Kept telling me how wonderful he is for being so (newly) honest in telling me how in love he is with her, how wonderful she is for being so generous in offering her support to me (as I struggle with the affair/his marriage), and how horrible I am for not acknowledging how amazing they both are.

    I responded no thank you. And I left it at that.

    • Oh Cloud, fuck those happy cheaters. I hope you never talk to them again. They don’t deserve you. Give them nothing which is exactly what they deserve. Their little mind fuck will be so much less fun without you!

    • *wild applause* Cloud, what utter self-serving nincompoops. Phrase from UK politics ‘a shiny brace of arsewits’ comes to mind.

  • How many entitled jerks does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    Answer: only one. He holds the light bulb in the socket, and waits for the whole world to revolve around him.

  • I like this:
    Don’t feel obliged to explain yourself to a gas lighter. You’re not a jackass whisperer.
    And, Jackass, I’d explain it to you but I’m all out of sock puppets and crayons.

  • Old feminist saying (not sure who said it first, I’m paraphrasing, and gender specficity not necessary), when a narcissists calls you stupid, ugly, crazy, or bitch, say thank you. He is telling you that you intimidate him, he is running out of material and has lost the argument.

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