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Holiday Sh*t Sandwiches

holly_petraeusDear Chump Lady,

You know that radio show hosted by Delilah, where folks call in and request a special song for someone in a particularly heart rendering circumstance? I was wondering if you could be a Chump Delilah and let me request a special column for all the Chump Parents who are struggling with double-decker shit sandwiches now that the holidays are here?

Please write one for the Chumps whose kids are excitedly anticipating events with the cheater. Or extolling the virtues of the cheater’s tree/presents/cooking. Or can’t be reached while visiting the now missing half of their former family. Who feel replaced, out-classed, or silenced in their rage and fear. Write a column that reframes that narrative, and gives them an extra slice of super-mighty with a cherry on top. 

Deepest regards to you and all Chumpdom,


Dear NoMoreNarcs,

Oh dear, that’s a tall order, but I’ll try. This one goes out to YOU! And all you newly minted chumps trying to navigate the holiday season.

You know how I say over and over again here that the pain is FINITE? Well, the holidays are finite too. All this crappola ends in a couple of weeks, so hang in there.

Kids excitedly anticipate Christmas, NMN. That’s a given. You don’t have to always read it as the kids are excitedly anticipating events with the ex. They’re anticipating going to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap, or going to Grandma’s and getting stuffed with cookies, or seeing their cousin who has the latest Xbox. Sure they love their other parent, but Uncle Daddy/Party Mom is usually simply the gateway to Fun Stuff.

From the chump’s perspective, I get that there is a feeling of How Dare THEY! How DARE they get to make precious memories with our children After They Broke Up Their Family! Well, they do. They get that right. I’m sorry. It sucks.

Try not to feel excluded because you get to make your own traditions with your kids too. Those are every bit as meaningful (or more) than a trip to Toys R Us with Uncle Daddy and his Guilt. This is your chance to bust out of the holiday rut and do the things that please you without dragging around the miserable carcass of a remorseless cheater. Just think how much jollier your holiday is without wondering where their cellphones are, or if they’ll be disappearing inconveniently for a few days/hours/weeks on a fuckfest somewhere.

You watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” too many times and it’s easy to romanticize family togetherness. You long for what you don’t have or thought you had. Oh, my ex is somewhere with my children having a Fabulous Holiday. They’re all wearing matching snowflake sweaters, and sipping eggnog, and breaking into choruses of “Silent Night” in perfect four-part harmonies. While (sob!) I sit alone. Unloved. Unmourned.

It’s just human nature to romanticize what we miss. I live in Texas. I absolutely abhor 70 degree December. I loathe a holiday season in which I have to wear short sleeves. (I’m over 40. It’s never a good look.) Every day I want to yell at the entire state: “YOU’RE DOING CHRISTMAS ALL WRONG!” “In a Bleak Midwinter” comes on the Musak rotation in the department store and I think “You have NO FUCKING CLUE what BLEAK MIDWINTER IS.”

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

NO Texas! YOU DO NOT DESERVE THIS HYMN. You don’t know from snow on snow! You SUCK. Stop singing things you know NOTHING ABOUT!

Because I miss snow. I look at all my friends Facebook pages of their snowy winters and their Christmases that look like Christmas is supposed to look and I’m jealous. I romanticize snow.

Fact is, my cousin in Petoskey is probably pouring boiling water on her car locks about now. After she shoveled her driveway for 45 minutes in the face of a gale-force wind whipping off Lake Michigan. Everyone is probably dreading driving on the holidays and drearily watching the weather reports. Ever spent 6 hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in freezing rain? I have.

Okay… there is a certain suckitude to snow.

But it’s what I know. Wah!

There is a certain suckitude to spending the holidays with your cheater and their family. But it’s what you know. So, of course you’re going to miss it, and any new tradition (or climate) isn’t going to feel quite right for awhile. (Okay, let’s face it. 70 degree Christmas is NEVER going to feel right. It’s an abomination.)

You’re adjusting.

Stop worrying that the kids won’t see how much the cheater sucks. That’s their relationship to work out. If they have a good holiday with the cheater and their family, well, good for them. Doesn’t mean you have to hear about it. Deflect when the conversation goes there.

But they’ll think the OW/OM is a good person!

Children are gullible, NMN. I remember when I was about 5 years old, I used to collect frogs that I scooped up out of window wells. I’d keep them in a cardboard box for a day or so. But an older boy once told me that if I kept those frogs, they would grow and grow and get so big they’d step on my house and crush it…. And I BELIEVED HIM.

Small children are dim-witted. They’ll believe most any fool thing anyone tells them. Sweeten the deal with some toys and sugar? Okay!

But eventually you grow up and realize… hey! I’ve never seen one of these two-story frogs! That was… a LIE.

Your kids will figure out the lies too.

But meanwhile, you’re there doing your job being the Sane Parent. So keep on keeping on. Make your holidays bright for YOU and forget what the Cheaterpants clan is up to. If they fail to inform you of their whereabouts? You document that. Give your kids cellphones, and insist that the cheater let you know where the kids are over the holidays. They don’t do that? Then you don’t agree to visitation. If he won’t abide by the order (document it) by being reasonable, he can explain it to a lawyer. You don’t have to accommodate cheaters Just Because. You have to abide by your custody agreement. Period.

No one replaces you, no one outclasses you. You’re the Mighty Parent! Go start a new holiday tradition of mightiness!

(As for me, I’m wearing long-sleeves and humming “In the Bleak Midwinter.”)

This one ran before. D.C. doesn’t have snowy X-mas either. We do get freezing rain though, so there’s that.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • You are reminding me of the one Christmas we spent at the house in Florida. We paid to fly the kids down for it. None of us liked it and agreed we wouldn’t do it again. We like our cold Canadian Christmases. Anyhoo, what is cheater ex doing this Christmas? Leaving on Christmas Day with schmoopie and her daughter(ie. new “family”) to go to Florida!! I guess sugar mamma dictates Christmas now. My daughter sees him Christmas Eve. They really do suck…but I will have a beautiful Christmas with her at home.

    • I used to have to wave the divorce decree to get him to comply with the time sharing for Christmas (alternate eve and day) because he would try to get more time. Now that my kid is a teen with his own opinions and he sees the bullcrap for what it is, this year my ex just said “Oh, Christmas is during your time, so, uh, you can have him. We’ll just celebrate on my next weekend”. My son is disappointed he won’t see his dad on either day, but I knew this would happen eventually.

      Now that he can’t pull the wool over his kid’s eyes as easily and he isn’t a cute little toddler, he is uninterested. I’m sure his extremely young live in girlfriend (closer in age to our teen than to my ex) wasn’t feeling like playing mommy for Christmas this year. Their loss.

      I bought my husband and son matching jammies and we’re going to have our ideal Christmas at home with all the trimmings together. I win.

  • This Christmas I’m having sinus surgery to remove my nasal polyps while cheater ex and his mistress wife take my kids to Hawaii.

    I’d rather have the surgery!!!

    I’m going to feel so much better once it’s done, and I don’t have to pretend to be anything other than me or suck up to a single soul for one second. Aloha!!

  • The one plus about having the new cheater-free Christmas is that you don’t have to deal with their fucked up family members anymore……you only have to deal with your own fucked up family members during the holidays.

    • NMN
      I felt exactly the same way. The cheater had the cool family with younger grandma and aunts and cousins and I am an only child that provides only one aging grandpa for them on holidays. The shit sandwich made me want to scream and even CL’s column couldn’t make me see past that one. But then one shit sandwich ate another…cheater had another kid with Schmoopie and blew them off for the holidays and both kids are with me. We have a tree and we’re having old friends over (I kept all the friends) –which means their childhood friends. Plus the kids are older now and see through his BS. So… give it some time and start your own traditions or bring back ones the cheater killed. Your cheater will find a way to show his true colors. Remember he can only do happy family for so long before he tires of it. Meanwhile, you have chump nation’s permission to complain about how unfair it is and be annoyed by people who act like he has a right to even one happy holiday season. ????????????????

      • thank you for this. I’m still waiting for my ex to tire of this other shmoopie/chump (he had a double life with me and she took him back). I don’t want him back but I wish she would see what a jerk he is and have the courage to dump him, out him and we could be chump friends and our kids could be friends too. urgh, shit sandwich with some shitty gravy for me this holiday season:/

    • Oh SuperDuperChump, I thank you for this reminder. This lead me down a snow covered memory lane to Christmas‘s Past. His family never liked me. I used to play a game in my mind to see how long it would take me to clear out a room of them. I would literally enter the room, note the time and watch them all fade away into other parts of the house. They are a bunch of racists and I am the “wrong” race. I won’t have to be there when they got drunk and openly hated me. I won’t have to deal with that Nest of Narcissistic Racists ever again.

      Instead I will have a quiet wholesome time in my little sanctuary. Both of my adult sons will be here. We will play board games, cards and visit their only Grandparent. We will go hiking if the weather permits. My Alaskan son will tell us the weather is fine for a hike. We will listen to Christmas Music and read books.

      Nobody will be pissy pants drunk, there will be no fist fights. There will be no cussing, screaming, the police won’t arrive. The neighbors will continue to speak to us. The furniture won’t get broken.

      I am filled with gratitude envisioning my cheater’s extended family no longer a part of my life. I literally felt the resentment of being financially strapped fall away. My poverty is a temporary issue. He gets to deal with his family permanently. I won.

      I hope all Chumps get to breathe the rarified air of freedom from fuckwits and bask in gratitude for a cheater free Christmas. You won!

      • NX and I alternate Christmas Holidays with the kid. We split custody 50/50, so the holiday is also when he comes back to my custody. I get him either right after Christmas/New Year’s if its the NX’s Holiday year, or right before, like this year.

        NX LOVES to bitch about never ever being able to celebrate Russian Christmas in the village with the kid ever again. (For those who don’t know, Russian Orthodox Christmas in AK is 2 weeks after Dec. 25 and involves 3 days of parties and major gift giving free-for-alls.) NX isn’t Russian Orthodox, or Native Alaskan, but he sure loves to be able to walk into a house and try to scoop up as much loot as possible. I really don’t think the kid misses not being a part of Starring in the village anymore, as it usually ends up being a spectacle of greed, addiction and dysfunction, and since he’s a white boy, the visiting native kids treat him as an outsider in the village he has grown up in.

        No matter what, NX always finds something to whine and bitch about. I’m totally GR, so I let it wash off my back just like rain off a fresh-preened duck.

        • Love that image, like rain off a fresh-preened duck! It’s our self-care and letting others also care for us that allows us that.

      • I love this!

        “I hope all Chumps get to breathe the rarified air of freedom from fuckwits and bask in gratitude for a cheater free Christmas. You won!”

        It’s good to rehash these stories from the cooler perspectives of Meh and its vicinity. How much horrible behavior we were conned into normalizing!

      • 33years–what a nightmare!! I guess your sons are the “wrong race” too? Wow. just wow. I am glad you are in a more peaceful place and your sons too.

        • NewLady15, you are entirely correct. I will despise them forever for rejecting my beautiful, talented, intelligent, kindhearted sons because of race. It is truly their loss.

  • Xmas is just another holiday, you don’t have to wonder if ex wants to be with you. Xmas is meant to be wonderful but that is just advertising.
    Kids know who is sane, who is really there for them.

  • I’m many years into my chumpdom ????, so I can attest that all of your advice is spot on. We have our own new lovely traditions now. I actually really enjoy the “quieter” holidays with just the grown ups (we alternate yearly so this year he has Christmas Eve and I have Christmas Day etc) when the kids go with stbxh. It took MANY years to get to that mindset though!

    Now as for me, this chump must go fight to get the ice off of the car and get the kids to school.

  • So I left the narc and moved to the DC area, took the kid with me. She would go back to New England to visit – not that he ever had any role in that but I would work with his parents and mine (who were both still in NE) to get her up there and back for the holiday season. So how great was it that MY OWN MOTHER wouldn’t communicate with me when she had my child? Had no idea where the kid was or what was going on? Guess when you are raised by a narc (oh and trust me, the reason behind it was very much “you can’t tell me what to do”), that makes you more susceptible to partnering with one ????‍♀️ Yay for me!

    Good news is though: I’ve fixed my picker, leaderboard boundaries (thanks CL!) and I no longer endure that sort of bullshit from ANYONE. ????

      • As to do with golf… I checked because i sure wanted to know what a leaderboard boundary was! I want to learn about all kinds of boundary!

      • hahahaha…i was just about to google “LEADERBOARD BOUNDARIES”

        and was already anticipating a cool golf-style “leaderboard”

        on which i would track my boundary making

        look! “communications transparency” is overtaking “no secret fucking in your car”

        while “considering the feelings of our kids” remains in a distant last place

        but alas NO


        stay mighty, people!

    • HM,
      Im in the DC area too (NOVA). The good news is that there’s a lot to do around here during this time of year. Ice skating at Pentagon Row, iFly in Loudon county, and that winter thing at Nationals park looks great. just thought that i would throw a few suggestions out there.

    • Yes!!!!! It wasn’t until marriage blew up and I went hunting for answers that I realized my mom’s a narc. Relationship with her is still dramatic and painful, since she criticizes endlessly and can’t be pleased. “Why do you do laundry so often?/ Why don’t your kids have any clean pajamas?” “Why are there all these leftovers (so wasteful)?/ Why don’t you have any food in the house?” “You put too many bananas in this banana bread.”
      No wonder being with narc ex felt so comfortably familiar, even when he raged at me, tackled me, and even broke into my place to finish an argument WHILE WE WERE DATING. Yes, I’m stupid. I married him. But thanks to his indiscretions which involved jail time, I was freed, I slowly fixed my picker, and I learned to set boundaries (practiced on mom, and yes, she still throws tantrums with angry silent treatment). Seven years later I’m in a new and wonderful marriage with a man who gives me the benefit of the doubt, cares, apologizes, forgives, and has my best interest at heart. So grateful that I got another chance at emotional health and joy. Warm wishes to CN.

  • My kids are grown and gone. One overseas, one here, but married and spending Christmas with his wife’s family. They are coming this Saturday instead. My new husband’s daughters are coming next Saturday.

    The point is, change comes in one form or another. Kids grow up and start their own lives and traditions. It sucks my family didn’t stay together, but I have started a new family, have new friends. I have no idea what the X is doing. Don’t care, don’t worry about it.

    Joy and peace is all I need for the holidays!

  • The Christmas Memory that always lights the path of never going back is this…On Christmas morning after the girls woke up, my X Sex addict covert narc said he would go make coffee for me. What a sweet surprise. I was exhausted from being the sole person to hustle and bustle. He disappeared for 45 minutes while I kept the girls upstairs with me waiting to go open presents as a family. When he returns 45 minutes later, we were all impatient and annoyed. He blamed me for my impatience and made look like a bitch. Afterall, his tummy was upset and I was so not understanding.

    Fast Forward past DDAY I was untangling the legal porn rider I had at my house via the printouts and I discovered that on Christmas morning he wasn’t actually making coffee… he was clicking through porn rentals to find one that excited him to get his morning wank in before presents a few feet away.

    This reminds me to be thankful for holidays without he and his sex addicted family. Needless to say we are aiming for different traditions.

    • You gotta love them wanking off while we are adulting. Every Sunday morning I was the first to get up. I would first get myself ready for church and then wake the kids; feeding and making sure they were dressed nice. What a nice surprise to walk into our bedroom and find the cheater wanking off in bed. Now mind you, we had a very long and romantic night just a few hours before. Never in all those years did it occur to him to come help me. Lord only knows how many times he was worshiping he his little god while I was taking care of everything else. And then we’d go to church and he’d put on his Super Husband and Dad act. Oh, and carry his Bible into church that he didn’t read all week. And when we got home from church, he’d head straight to the fridge and reheat the homemade pizza I made every Saturday night. He’d take care of himself while I made lunch for the kids. I started feeding the kids before I sat down myself to eat with them. He was always finished eating before I sat down. Never once did he offer to help. And this was our entire marriage. Him and his needs first. I don’t miss him or his entitled, lazy ass family. Holidays are peaceful now and very little stress. No more catering to those who think they should be served all the time!

      • This is a good reminding that it’s good riddance to A**hat. His “secret” Instgram handle was “De Wiite Wank”–the white masturbator.

        Now I know what he was doing— Gross!!!!!

  • My second xmas after separation here. I’m so excited to start new traditions. The kids were with me last year, and again this year. In fact, the kids don’t know what dad is doing this holiday season. He hasn’t contacted them in 6 months!! Oh wait…. He send cards tellung them how much he misses them and he hopes that they’ll reconnect…but no plans to do so or anything. No invitations. But it’s just a big mindfuck because he doesn’t want them over anymore he said last time, in May, they were too mean, he said. Yes, big mindfuck for the kids. Myself? Liberated! And feeling great in part because, I still have my children and friends coming over and also, the new traditions!!!

    • Ah yes, the Absent Father mind fuck. My mother divorced when I was 10. Dad was supposed to have weekly visitations with us (2 boys, 2 girls), but there was no way he could actually father with all 4 of us, or even 1 at a time. So, every once in a while he’d have me spend Sat. night in his sad little apt. with him. He wouldn’t really do anything with me. Sun. a.m. we’d watch wrestling and eat bagels. Even this little ‘bonding’ time with me peetered out after a while. A few years later my mother moved us to a neighboring state.

      After that I never saw my father because he never made an effort to come see us, or send for us to see him. I remember going to see him one year in my late teens, I think my brother drove us down, and being told by his wife that it was MY responsibility to maintain a relationship with my father. I was gobsmacked, but even as young and naive as I was then, I knew that having a meaningful parent/child relationship was NOT the child’s responsibility!

      And I make damn sure my child knows it too!

  • Remember that things are not always as they seem at the ex’s Christmas.

    My kids are off to Italy tomorrow with XW for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. You’d think I’d be gnawing off my arm out of jealousy, wouldn’t you? But in fact
    1. Her parents’ apartment is too small to accommodate them all. They’ll be fighting for the one bath and sleeping in shifts. Plus, the apartment is in the crummy modern exurbs, not the medieval heart of their hometown.
    2. Their grandmother has been telling XW and her sister for 20 years that she wishes she’d divorced their father years ago, before he came down with a degenerative neurological disease. They have the worst marriage I have ever encountered in real life (screaming, fighting, days-long silent treatment, no emotional or physical affection).
    3. Their grandfather is a horrible person. I don’t know how much is due to the disease, but he can’t (or won’t) talk, screams in his sleep, pees all over the house, and has some kind of emotional dysregulation (the grandmother had to confiscate his cell phone because he couldn’t stop calling phone sex lines).
    4. The only other nuclear family member, their aunt, reacted to her impending divorce – I don’t really blame her for that, as her XH was in hock to the mafia and kept getting his car run off the road, and had acquaintances fall off balconies or be found chopped to bits and stuffed in garbage bags – by having an affair with her own brother-in-law. The XH’s influence lives on in their cousins, who have learned all the local racist soccer chants, which include binging bananas to the game to throw at black players on opposing teams.

    I’m not too worried about my kids picking up on the dysfunction, as of the entire family only the aunt speaks any English (and only one of my kids speaks Italian, as XW couldn’t be bothered to teach our kids her language). The remoter cousins (for instance, the convicted heroin dealer) also don’t speak much English.

    Writing this all out, you’d wonder why I’d sign on to be part of this family. In my defense, I didn’t find out about most of this until years into the marriage, plus the cultural cues (half her family is basically the Italian version of white trash) are subtle enough that they’re hard to pick up in another language.

    My kids will be bored, cramped, resentful that they need to dress up, and frustrated that they can’t communicate. I spent 15 years going to stay with them every summer, and having to explain to people that I wasn’t going on a vacation to Italy – I was going to stay with my in-laws. I am SO glad I don’t have to go any more, and I mostly just feel bad for my kids that they’ll be subjected to it. The food will be good.

    • Thank you Involuntary Georgian! This is a great story-reminder that things are not what they seem. Happy Christmas.

    • I’m with you on that one!

      I no longer have to drive 2 hours away to spend the day with STBX’s stuck up family.

      My kids are jealous that I don’t have to go anymore-when their dad comes to pick them up from my house-all 3 kids and him are arguing about who gets to sit in the front seat. That’s when I wave from the kitchen door and shut the garage door as they leave in a rolling ball of fight-like those cartoon scenes where all you see is a dust cloud with the occasional hand or foot sticking out.

      • “Rolling ball of fight” from cartoons – I LOVE IT! You win the best comment in the column today! Totally made me laugh.

      • Lol!! Once again I find a reason to tear up…laughing! I have envisioned the same rolling ball of family feuding and fisticuffs as they would finally pull out of my driveway..the feeling of relief..! Glad I am not the only one now I dont feel so guilty they dont bother any more..

  • Thank you for this! I don’t care about cheater pants royal asshole #1…..been there done that and don’t care. It’s cheater pants #2 that I’ve caught myself reminiscing about and missing. I needed this reminder to STOP! Today is his birthday. A year ago on this date I threw him a big 50th birthday party that set me back a good $4,000 between food, venue, decorations, etc. A good friend came up to me at the party and said “I hope
    He appreciates YOU!” Looking back on it now I realize why she said that, it’s because he blatantly was idolizing and giving props to the 24 year old nanny. He videoed her while she karaoked the most vile rap songs singing at the top of her lungs the P-word, the C-word and how she wants to sit up on the D-word. All the while he was telling everyone how amazing she was while I worked my butt off hosting that shindig. What a DICK & a WHORE! So, back to this article…..what a great reminder that they suck, time moves forward and so am I. A year ago I was not appreciated and today I surround myself with people who do appreciate me….if they don’t I don’t engage or have limited engagement and keep it cordial. Lesson Learned!

  • Good morning great Chump Nation. This will be my 5th post Dday Christmas. Things have changed so much. Dday happened the day after Christmas so for the first 2 years I was divorcing and feeling wretched. Last year was the first year with my significant other in and blending our 6 kids but we made new traditions and had a great time. My SO surprised me for an early holiday gift and we spent the first week of Dec in Hawaii, just the two of us, where it was a gorgeous 85 degrees — odd to see Santa and Christmas trees in what felt like high summer! Not a cheater in sight, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

    Our 3 grown kids who live out of state are arriving this week and my kids choose to stay with us. I hear some of my kids plan to go to dad’s (AP lives with him) new house on Christmas Eve. It’s fine. My eldest, who hasn’t talked to XH (her step dad) and I and my SO plan to hike in the mountains in the morning then serve food at a homeless shelter, a new tradition we started last year, which was wonderful! Christmas Day everyone will be at my house for presents and games and movies. I’m happy now. I will never forget what happened But I’ve accepted it and know that it was all XH, he lost out on me and our family, and he is not a compatible partner for me and never will be. Meh is wonderful.

  • Wednesday the 25th will be a high of 72 here in Texas! Love it! I just ignore Christmas. The day I found out while walking through our almost finished dream house she was banging a 26 year old!

    • DavidB, in 2017 when I was using my inheritance from my recently-deceased mother to build us a dream cabin on our dream acreage, Captain Douche was having a banner year. Divorce disclosures reveal he was banging prostitutes ($500 a pop, min) for the last five years. In 2017 alone, he racked up a mere $46,000 in hoes and hotels (often daytime). You can’t make this shit up!

  • This is my 9th(!) Christmas season since cheater ex left. The first 4, 5 were really, really tough (I got married when I was 20 and we were together 38 years so basically my whole adult life I’d lived with him.) But then the holidays started to get a little better each year. This year, for the first time, I am finally free of the nostalgia, regret, sadness and depression that characterized my holidays for so long. I realize fully now that ex actually did me a favor by getting out of my life. I was just a slow learner. But better late than never!

    Today, I live in the same town as my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. We see each other almost every day. We have a wonderful supportive group of extended family and friends with whom we celebrate every holiday. I live in my own little house with a great job and I lack for nothing. Ex, on the other hand, lives a 1000 miles away with his affair partner (now wife) who is a semi invalid. They are broke and have no family around them.

    I won.

  • Oh ughhh… my oldest son (24) wanted nothing to do with his dad at Christmas so he is spending it with his girlfriend and her family. My younger two are with me, and made no plans with their dad for Christmas, and I assumed he had made plans with his partner. Apparently not. He has decided to descend on us two days after Christmas. I know he is hoping we can “all go out together” so that he “feels like it’s Christmas” but honestly he doesn’t have that privilege any more! I am actively trying to make plans for the two days he is here so I don’t get sucked into his “we can all be friends (because it makes me feel less guilty and your feelings are of no consequence)”.

    • Just remember the most useful sentence in the English language; No. Yup, it’s a complete sentence. You don’t need activities to use as an excuse, you don’t need to ‘help’ your Ex w/his image management (not the same as actual guilt, btw). I personally like ‘that doesn’t work for me (or for us, depending on the age of the kids).

      IF the Ex asks, and IF the younger kids are quite young, figure out a single time period in those days he’ll be in town, and offer it to Ex; ‘The kids are free X day from Y time to Z time, Would you like to pick them up that times?’ And DO NOT NEGOTIATE. He’s can’t do that time? Oh, too bad. PERIOD, end of conversation! He doesn’t respond locking a time down? 24 hs after your message, message again repeating those availablility, and inform him that you need to know within 24 hs. After that? Too bad, kids are no longer availalble. He doesn’t like it? Ignore. He comes to the house? Open door, inform him you are all busy and about to go out, then close door in his face.

      Kids are older? (From 12 or 14 is good, depending on their personalities)? Give THEM a time slot of availability, let them work it out w/dad. But give them the same rules as above; everything needs to be locked down by X date Y time, otherwise nothing doing.

      Kids might be disappointed? Very sad, but REALITY. It’s so important that the kids of assholes learn to recognize and deal w/REALITY. The reality is, their father is a lazy ass, who can’t be bothered organizing himself to see his kids at the holidays.

  • Sappy Christmas movies aside, the whole holiday season both with my family and my ex’s family was NEVER a Hallmark moment. Families who get together because they think it’s expected, or worry what the neighbors will think if they don’t, are never going to have Happy Holidays.

    I look back at the years when a sister in law and I shared duties and alternated locations so that the entire holiday work burden would not fall on one of us. We did our best to let the children know they had cousins, and have some semblance of a holiday that somewhat resembled what the kids saw on TV. It really didn’t work then, and I am so glad we both eventually divorced the dysfunctional brothers and got to stop the madness.

    Meanwhile, all the children grew up, and so far only one of them has had children of her own. There is no attempt by anyone to have happy holiday memories. The ex sister in law and I remain friends, and we meet every now and then for a meal and wine, and to mutually thank God that we don’t have to do those holidays anymore. We each spend time with our children, see each of them at some point during the holiday season, and the rest of the year, usually have a meal out somewhere so there is no work on anyone, and are able to enjoy the visit. This may not make fodder for holiday movies, but it is sooooo much better! Our children have forged their own relationships with their fathers, or not, and we don’t have to deal with them, or their dysfunctional extended families. My own sisters and brothers all keep in touch, and keep up with my mother, and only see my own dysfunctional father if we absolutely have to in some social situation.

    This is our reality. It is peaceful, and sometimes enjoyable, and we don’t feel the need to send out family cards or newsletters, and it’s really ok. We don’t worry about, or even care what the neighbors think. This is the season of peace and joy, and we finally found a way to have that. If the commercial traditions don’t work for you, then change the traditions to something that works for you and your family and friends. Have a Meh Christmas! And, a Happy New Year!

  • Thank you Chump Lady and NoMoreNarc. This is perfectly timely since my DD was picked up yesterday for her Christmas parenting time with CrapWeasel.

    Big hugs to all my fellow chumps. We will stand strong and prevail through this season too.

  • Here is a winter story for CL.   I went sledding last nite with my 12 year old son who has autism and his 15 year old sister.  I had tinge of lament because the ex always went before.  Not to bad though.

    After sledding I was chatting with my daughter.  I said, “We are going ice skating this weekend”.  She asked, “Can I bring a friend?”  I said, “Sure”.  She said, “Daddy you are so much better than Mommy.”  BPD/NPD’s make everything difficult.  Kids figure it out.

    That same evening there was another payoff from being sane parent.

    As we talked she shared with me a post she made saying how she needed to do better by her brother than she had in the past and how she was trolled for it.
    Her post and her response to the troll were beautiful and mature.

    Then a coincidence hit me. Synchronicity if you will. The Friday before at a self help group, which shall remain anonymous, someone had been talking about something called “The Four Agreements” I realized my daughter had applied the first agreement, “Be impeccable with her words” and the fourth “Do your best”

    It was a good nite.

  • Here’s my holiday love song to all the chumps waiting for Tuesday: I’m sitting on the other side of meh and it’s GREAT. My ex has the kids for Christmas this year. Know what that means? It means I get to WAIT till POST-CHRISTMAS SALES to buy presents! Everyone else will be returning gifts; I’ll be getting deals and snatching up all the stuff my ex forgot to buy that my kids are still wishing for. Right now, when everyone else is stressing over parties and shopping and annoying in-laws? I’m lying in the bath watching Netflix. All morning. And anticipating a whole week of sleeping in and watching Netflix every day. My parents are trying to convince me to do something with them for Christmas, and I’m trying to convince them that sitting home alone snuggling with my dogs is THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS EVER. I used to feel lonely on holidays, but now I truly cherish my rare solo time!!!! Eggnog and puppies, what could be better?!?

    We’ll still have all the holiday magic, all the eager anticipation and gift opening. We’ll just do it on a different day. My kids get two Christmases and I get a solo Christmas AND a family Christmas! Best of all worlds. ????

  • I try to imagine what my X Asshat does for the holidays now and the possibilities are narrow: He is either in Europe eating cabbage and beets with a 26YO ho-worker twat and they are probably lying to her parents about exactly who the hell this 51 YO dude is (just a friend!) or;

    He is back briefly in the states for a holiday visit staying with his pot-addled, stage 3 hoarded house of his 2 brothers and SIL, sucking in smoke, mold and dust with what looks like maple syrup dribbled from room to room on the pathways allowed. They will try to cook some ptomaine turkey with zero counter space and filthy dishes and trash and realize they forgot some vital ingredient because they lost their ambition in the bong water. The X Asshat will be pissed that they are not serving up the good stuff and will probably try to go find somewhere for them all to eat out and be a real dick to them all. There will be a lot of alcohol and shouty voices bitching about how The Man has held them down in life or;

    He and Schmoops are broken up and he is wandering around whatever town he is in at midnight feeling sad sausage and angry and trying to figure out who to blame. Maybe he will treat himself to a hooker blowjob to take off the edge but; what he WILL NOT HAVE is:

    His daughters’ respect and love or even their proximity. They will reject and ignore all attempts he makes to contact them and electronic gift cards will be refused. He won’t get my wonderful scratch cooking and doting on him while he lays around serving himself. He won’t get hearth and home with decorations and treats and the extra long couch we had made just so he could lay his 6’4″ frame down without hitting either arm. He won’t sit at the head of a gorgeous table I prepared as master and commander of all he surveys. He won’t get my warm bed as I fall in exhausted but peacefully proud that I pulled off a wonderful meal and hosting duties, still finding my energy to do sex because I love him completely and am happy with my life.

    Though the life I thought I had is totally blown up I know that my daughters and I are creating our lives and traditions from the ground up and it will be BETTER simply because he is not the turd in our eggnog. We will not feel sorry for him because he chose this, he insisted on it, and we will never forgive him for his selfish choices.

  • My ex has been unable to round up a ‘slender young woman’ as his online dating site requests. So he will play lonely sad sausage, and loving papa, with the kids over Christmas. And they will cater to him.

    As the kids are young adults I have no control over things. They will text him while they are here with me on Christmas Eve. And he will be texting them, to keep himself central. I will smile and carry on with my holiday dinner. He is nothing more than a gnat, a carbuncle, a dust mote.

    It is so damn nice to not have to be subject to him and his schemes and miserable attitude any longer!!!

  • This is my first Christmas since the separation.She’ll have my son on Christmas Eve and I have him on Christmas day. We used to go back to WV and I couldnt stand that. She has a big family and the entire holiday was driving from one place to another with specific times to be at each. I’m just going to make a new tradition and enjoy all the time that I can with my son.

  • My cheater conveniently showed our daughter what a piece of shit he is, all by himself! He surprise-filed for divorce in June, and has been living happily ever after with his AP, posting pictures of himself and his beloved all over the place. He has spent precisely two days with his daughter in all of 2019. And those two days were because they went to a funeral. Otherwise, he would have spent zero days with her. So, his mother rented a house in Cabo for him and his sisters and their families for Christmas. Our daughter was supposed to join them. She was excited. Having lost her nuclear family, she felt she needed to spend time with her extended family. Until Cheater announced that “I will be accompanied by my girlfriend.” Nothing that my daughter said to him regarding how she’s not ready to spend a week with the woman who blew up her family, how much this would hurt her, etc., had any effect. Her charming grandmother wouldn’t even agree to give her a bedroom far away from her father and his whore. His only offer of compromise was that our daughter stay by herself in a nearby hotel. Yes. He wanted to stash a 20-year-old girl alone in a hotel in Mexico. Because the whore MUST be with his family. So my daughter decided to not go. Fuckwit tells her, “I need you to go to Mexico. I will be HUMILIATED if you don’t go.” (Because of course it’s her responsibility to manage his family’s impressions of him.) She finally writes him a carefully worded email stating that she’s not going, reiterating her love but saying she’s just not ready. Daddy’s response? “You will be missed.” So thanks, fuckwit, you showed our daughter what a POS you are. You chose your girlfriend – who you see every day – over your daughter. Her heart is broken, and so is mine, for her. But you know what? We’re going on a cruise to the Bahamas. Fuck him, fuck her, and fuck his awful mother who refused to intervene, because she thinks her degenerate son shits gold. Which actually explains a lot. Truly awful people. All of them.

    • Susan I’m so sorry that you & your daughter are going through this. Your daughter is extremely lucky to have you for a mother. I hope the two of you have an amazing time on your cruise.
      My situation is the opposite of yours. I busted my STBXW again and I filed. She moved her Sparkle Dick and his 4 boys in the same day I moved out. My 21 year old & 17 year old sons want nothing to do with me now and act like this is totally acceptable behavior from their mother. It’s been almost a year since I’ve had any real communication with them. I reach out almost everyday but all I get is crickets. I still attend all their things they are involved in and I’ll continue to let them know I love them but it is extremely tough when you hear next to nothing back.

      • Please don’t give up ChumpTight. There is sure to be some misinformation coming from your XW , one day your boys will see how much you care.

    • Your daughter is doing a great job setting and maintaining boundaries. I hope she has a lovely holiday. No surprise that the EX chose the girlfriend–his daughter is past the age where daddy is on a pedestal, and rather than deal with her as an adult, he’s discarding her in favor of someone who will pretend to worship him.

  • Would it be wrong to tell you the Christmas forecast for here is just under 100 degrees? ????????????

    I for one welcome our snowless overlords.

  • What a chump I am! First Christmas since DDay and separation and ex sends me an abusive email about me having an affair and destroying his relationship with his sons.

    I ignore the comments and tell him the boys would like to see him on Boxing Day. Reply that he won’t be here for Christmas and may not return!!!!!!!!

    He plans Christmas without a care for his sons but blames me for keeping him apart from them!

    Merry Narcfree First Christmas ????

  • Sorry for the rant it’s not just holidays. My ex who couldn’t lift a finger to help with kids or anything else for that matter the whole 15 years we were married. Laughs that he only changed 10 diapers. Suddenly has all the time in the world to play Wonder “Father”. Has to show up for every minute the court gave him and shows up at every school event to cause a scene(last year he threatened to call the cops on me because he didn’t have possession of our child during his time; she was with her teacher practicing for her show) and let everyone know he showed up. Its the shit sandwich that never ends. Sorry, super mad today. Ex who pays his child support and insurance never on time. Owes back child support and insurance. Showed up for our daughters 1st band concert last night and when they said parents could take pictures with the kids was the 1st parent on stage to take a picture. When I asked him about helping pay for band (before school started ) he told me I had a stick in my ass! I didn’t even get a picture with my daughter and I paid for all of it. All of ya’ll who your ex’s disappear you are so truly lucky!! I feel as if Meh isn’t in the cards. Oh and to make it worse his father who would never help us financially the whole time we were married- has made it his mission to pay all of ex’s bills-apparently indefinitely! Its been 3 years and ex hasn’t worked either.

    • I am so sorry for you and your daughter. For what it is worth, my EX behaved this way for two years–giant five-minute hugs every time he saw the kids with lots of loud proclamations about how he loved them and missed them and thought of them all day long when he didn’t have custody. Same guy who skipped their birthday parties when we were married.

      I had the same threats about calling the police if he didn’t have possession of the kids (despite the fact he’d show up over an hour late so the school had called me to retrieve them when he wouldn’t answer his phone). The more bluster you get, the more confident you can feel that he knows he is full of crap. If his behavior makes you fearful, just document all contact/custody issues every day–it is a three minute task that will be very helpful if you do get dragged to court.

      As the kids got a bit older he showed up less. Eventually, he moved out of state. At the time of our separation, I never imagined he’d leave–I thought I’d be stuck with his competitive parenting forever. His contact with the kids is sporadic now. It remains dramatic–all protestations of how they are the most important thing in his life, etc., but it takes a lot of energy to maintain the pretense of “best parent in the world,” and the fact that there isn’t much audience for it (other parents, teachers, coaches, etc. often see through it fast without you ever saying a word) means it will diminish over time. Keep your fingers crossed–if your EX was a lousy, no-show parent before, he will return to form over time. (The bad side of this is your child will suffer in new ways when Dad is too busy to show up for the concert.)

      I know that “meh” will take a long time coming. At 9 years out, I am not sure I am there. But I don’t miss him. Ever. And that is worth remembering. You are doing the hard work, and the rewards for it aren’t captured in photos. He is just taking token trophies to prop up his self-respect and fake image. You are the real winner.

      • Eilonwy
        You’re comment made me feel better. I am 3 years out and have 10 to go. I am lucky to be out as I am pretty sure my ex is a malignant narc. My life is 90% better without the verbal and emotional abuse.The children and I all have ptsd from the events that led to the divorce and the many years of abuse; the court system where I am is very ignorant. Didn’t help it was a small town and ex’s friend knew the judge. We left with nothing 3 years ago and I was a stay at home mom- who ran our business. I have acquired a good job, bought a house and we are starting to heal. But anything that he can be involved with is a nightmare. My oldest is treated as the golden child and my youngest is the scapegoat. I don’t know how bad my children will suffer when he doesn’t show as this has only been 3 years of showing up at things and he only shows if he can look important or cause a scene. I know this will end when the kids are grown. I have the best family and support system- The Meh is just a long way off. Thanks for reading my rant.

  • Finding Peace-

    Meh is in your deck of cards. I promise dickieshithead is going to fold and his dad will tire of paying for image management and walk away from the table.

    Let him be the freak. Everyone already knows he is.

  • My ex left on December 15th a few years ago, so really a sad Christmas for me. I always wore a heart on a chain that my husband gave to me. On Christmas morning, just my son and I, I opened my present from him and it was a heart pendant. He told me that he was my heart. Wow! I realized right then and there that we would be ok. All of you will be too. Merry Christmas.

  • On the years my daughter is with cheater, I try to remember that she is eating the biggest shut sandwich of all. She didn’t ask for this. She had nothing to do with even choosing a man to be her father who is an appalling lying sack of shite and a Part Time Ghost Dad.

    AND YET she is making the best of that. Without being a doormat and occasionally torching him when required, my daughter is politely tolerating lovebombing from the latest StepSugarMama, going to see the only Nana and extended family she has left, and maintaining relationships that are none of my business and making her own memories. SHE IS MIGHTIER than any of us.

    For my part, I’m sleeping in on a weekday, sipping a hot beverage before it gets cold, and putting a few gifts I saved back under the tree whenever. I will relax and work on my semi famous Butterscotch Gingerbread and Lemon Butter Cookies, with Royal Icing. The only sandwiches I make with be Linzer cookies with Lemon Curd and jam. I assure you they are the opposite of Shit.

    When she comes HOME, because there is Dad’s House and HOME, <3, we’ll open up gifts, sleep in AGAIN. Then we will eat cookies, go to the swanky mall uptown, and have almost an entire week off work and school together.

    During this entire time I will slave to make NO Welsh manwhore a 6 Course Roasted Duck dinner complete with canapes by myself. I will not watch anyone sit on my couch texting OW. No one will hit me or chuck a bar of green soap at my head bc I had the audacity to be allergic to it. On NYE, I will party with real friends.

    Nothing about this is shitty. And you should see the cookies. They’re Baby Yoda and Mando this year, with edible pearl dust!

    • Inspiring! I think I may have to try using lemon curd in Linzer cookies while I contemplate New Year’s resolutions to adopt some of your mightiness!

      • I want to let new chumps know this takes time. If anyone is feeling grief, frustration and pain right now, you get to feel that and work through in your own time. I’ve just decided that for me, divorce means separate lives, and choosing not to engage in every perceived slight and power struggle El Diablo lays out there as poison bait.

        He’s an incorrigible Dumb-Dumb. If he weren’t, we’s still be married. But my daughter appears to want some sort of relationship with him, so that is the best gift I can give her to move the fuck on.

    • Luziana–

      Thanks for this. It’s been too easy for me to fall into the “whoa, poor me victim trap” when truly, it’s the children that eat the biggest shit sandwich. We can aspire to Meh, but their whole lives will have to revolve around a completely different orbit then what they signed up for. It’s been very wobbly, but we’re getting there. It hasn’t helped that A**hat has made this torture, so parsing out my feelings for him from what’s best for my kids, has been difficult.

      Both my parents died during this process, and I haven’t quite been able to pluck up enough strength to sort through their last two boxes of stuff. When I did sift through their two houses, I came across so many photos of my children with their Grandparents, piano recital programs, sports newspaper clippings, thank you notes–what mattered most to them was moments.

      I recently came across a Mother’s Day card from my son dated May 2018 (#2 DDay April 2017, mom died Nov 2017, Dad died, divorce & 25 wedding anniversary May 2019).

      “Mom, you’ll always be home to me”–that says it all.

      • CN at large.

        Any advise for how to get through this while pre-seperation/divorce. While he’s still pretending we are happily married. And I am avoiding him as best i can.

        I have told him I want a divorce. He refuses to take me seriously so I am letting him live in his dillusion. He is managing to ignore the fact that I haven’t let him touch me in any way shape or form since D-Day. I am in the background getting my ducks in a row and starting the divorce process with the plan of presenting him with the petition in January.

        He has been home for 2 days with the kids and already the nice guy mask is slipping. Nasty comments galore to me and the kids. Face like thunder most of the time and woe is me complaints.

        I have 2 weeks of this before he goes back to work (and his multiple fuck buddies/prostitutes etc) and I feel like crying. The thought of visiting his narc family and putting on a brave face for mine is soul destroying.

        I will get through it but feeling very grim about Christmas right now. Not to mention terrified about the ensuing fall out/rage in January when I get the courage up to kick him out.

        • It’s tough. I too, had to fake while planning and building up courage. My advice is try even harder to think about all you want and need after the divorce. Its so hard to truly think financially. Don’t start at 50/50. Think 100/0 and negotiate down. Go to a certified divorce financial planner. Put in your decree things like: he has to pick up the kids, not you meet him somewhere evry time for the next however many years; any presents (christmas, bday…) he has for kids must be opened at his house; Ow/skank can’t be introduced to kids or go to school conferences, sporting events, etc., for at least a year and then only when kids say they are ready. He must pay for their therapy and get them to and from it and it must not interfere with school or your time. Put in that he must have life insurance and kids must be beneficiaries not OW/skank. Alimony equal to all years of marriage. (Its tax free now) Put in that you claim all kids, every year, for taxes. Look up what others have put in their divorce decrees.
          Keep reading this blog for insight and support and also other places to get all info you can about the nitty gritty of finances and divorce. You may be hoping for a miracle, wishing the cheating was not real and can’t imagine what your life will be like without him and your family together. You may wish and hope you’ll stay together or reconcile but prepare as though for right now, divorce is happening. Plan.
          Actually write lists of what you need and want.
          Also, write lists of all the terrible things he’s said and all he’s lied about to you and therfore your kids. It will keep you rightfully mad and mightily focused.

          • Oh and keep it all very well hidden. I feel for you. I know how hard it is on your soul to go along pretending and feeling so sad and hurt and betrayed and sick with his attitude and thunder faces. I’ve been there. Just try, try, try to think “smart” while being in terrible pain. You’ll be glad you were a tough negotiator. Sending good, you are strong, sympathetic thoughts your way!

  • CN at large.

    Any advise for how to get through this while pre-seperation/divorce. While he’s still pretending we are happily married. And I am avoiding him as best i can.

    I have told him I want a divorce. He refuses to take me seriously so I am letting him live in his dillusion. He is managing to ignore the fact that I haven’t let him touch me in any way shape or form since D-Day. I am in the background getting my ducks in a row and starting the divorce process with the plan of presenting him with the petition in January.

    He has been home for 2 days with the kids and already the nice guy mask is slipping. Nasty comments galore to me and the kids. Face like thunder most of the time and woe is me complaints.

    I have 2 weeks of this before he goes back to work (and his multiple fuck buddies/prostitutes etc) and I feel like crying. The thought of visiting his narc family and putting on a brave face for mine is soul destroying.

    I will get through it but feeling very grim about Christmas right now. Not to mention terrified about the ensuing fall out/rage in January when I get the courage up to kick him out.

  • First cheater free Christmas here. This is a tough time of year. It’s when my mom died 12 years ago, when it was suspected my daughter has a brain tumor, when STBX left me, when after he came back I found out he was still in contact with ho-worker and hinting of wreckonciliaton to her… and now finally me having had enough but still all raw about all the lies that I can hardly grasp..
    Daughter will spend Christmas eve and day with me and my sister’s family and a few other relatives, and then after that she’ll go with STBX to his sister and her daughter. His sister is divorced and gloating that he is finally divorcing me. It was very upsetting to her the last time STBX TOLD HER that he was certainly divorcing me, and THEN DIDN’T and she’d told her daughter we are divorced and everything so how dare he back out! Yeah. She can keep her “victory”.

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