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‘I Lost My Meh’

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Dear Chump Lady,

I thought I was really close to meh, until I had a tough day with kids, and then ran into my XH and his howorker at a trailhead and ended up wishing my XH would “disappear or just go somewhere and never come back,” to his face. Worst part is that the youngest kid was nearby.

Backstory: I was chumped about a year and a half ago after 23 years together. I was clueless — XH and howorker came back from their holiday party drunk and started having sex on our couch while I was awake and had just talked with them. I kicked him out, got a new couch, and divorced 6 months later. No discussion or reconciliation by me or him – straight to divorce. I have three kids with him, and so I see him twice a week during drop-offs. But I also live in a small-ish town and happen to run into him all the time. He has an uncanny ability to show up where I am – dinner with my family, drinks with my coworkers, out with friends, art walk, trailheads in open space, live music, and even date nights. I get annoyed because that is his time to be with the kids and instead they are with howorker or playing on electronics. And yet the kids love him.

I have started to gain a life (great friends, career is ok… but I am applying to new jobs to help me move up, and I have been dating a great person.) Pre-Covid, I was busy at art openings, theatre events, hosting parties, long hikes, biking, being involved with non-profits for volunteering, etc. I still do therapy once a month – and haven’t had much to say. I have made house changes and renovations, and kids are happy when with me (generally). But XH is still physically all over town and I just get angry when I see his vehicle or him.

So yesterday I had a tough morning with a teen who is playing the comparing-parent games and being mopey. He was mad that I don’t have a schmoopy to watch the other kids so I can just go on a long mountain bike ride with him (no sitters for single Moms during Covid-19). And my middle kid letting me know that his dad didn’t drop him at my friends’ house (whose mom is also My friend) during a birthday party. Leading to a realization that I might have another Switzerland friend who hung out with my X during a kid party and drank beers. And a also realizing that I didn’t get called for a job I applied for, which was sad. So then when XH and schmoopy howorker pulled into the remote mountain parking lot, I instantly seethed. XH got out and called hi to our son, who didn’t answer and slowly rode off. XH also said hi to me and I didn’t answer. He then said, “Hi, [My Name]! I said ‘hi’ to YOU!” Very rude and sarcastic in tone – basically chiding me for not acknowledging him. So I didn’t meh and I lost it. I said. “Oh I heard you. I wasn’t saying ‘hi’ back. You are everywhere I go. Can’t you just go away?!?? Disappear? Go away, forever?! I don’t ever want you around! Just go and never come back.”

He just replied, “Oh THAT’s real nice…” (rudely and as if he deserves no anger or consequences ever).

And then I rode off. And felt like I had just screwed any progress or forward movement. XH rents too much space in my head and is around me way too much. Can’t XH read the room that I need no contact with him ever?

How do I get through anger to real meh when I physically hate seeing XH all the time?

Thanks,
Not Enough Open Space (in the World)

Dear NEOS,

So let me get this straight, the ex who is upset that you ignored him — is the same guy who had sex on a sofa in front of you?

Dude, the invisibility cloak works both ways.

Let’s review the situation.

So then when XH and schmoopy howorker pulled into the remote mountain parking lot, I instantly seethed.

Understandable. We call this “the turd in the punchbowl” phenomenon. You’re trying to enjoy a Nice Thing and then plop, there they are. Floating in the drink.

The popular narrative is “Drink the punch!” Be friends! Or at the very least, pretend a turd is not a turd.

I think you’re allowed to avoid turds. Just try hard not to give them the centrality they crave. LOOK AT ME! HERE! IN YOUR PUNCHBOWL!

There are few good options. The thing to do is to choose the least terrible option — nod in acknowledgement (here’s a kibble. You exist) — and avoid the worst option, losing it. Well, perhaps the worst, worst option is shoving them both off a cliff and you avoided that, so kudos.

XH got out and called hi to our son, who didn’t answer and slowly rode off.

Nicely done. Teenagers excel at nonverbal fuck yous. (I’m not saying he should hate his father. It’s his relationship to work out. I’m saying son probably rolls his eyes in the back of his head for far more trivial offenses than dad cheating on mom. Teenagers could give masterclasses in Whatever.)

XH also said hi to me and I didn’t answer.

This is the juncture at which you have to weigh Least Bad Options.

Not engaging is one option. However, flagrantly denying him a kibble is a kibble. This jujitsu mindfuck is See How Magnanimous I Am and How Bitter You Are.

Why, I’m just a harmless nice man wishing this spiteful shrew a Good Day, Madam! And she shuns me! Such wickedness!

Recognize the set-up. This is where you have to up your Whatever game. Nod in acknowledgment, wave hello, pedal furiously away. Okay, you gave him a kibble, a bad cheap-grade one. He exists.

He then said, “Hi, [My Name]! I said ‘hi’ to YOU!” Very rude and sarcastic in tone – basically chiding me for not acknowledging him.

This is him losing it. I WANT A KIBBLE! AND I WANT IT NOW! IS IT NOT ENOUGH TO FLOAT HERE LUXURIOUSLY IN YOUR PUNCHBOWL? I DEMAND TRIBUTE!

If you wanted to fuck with his head (you don’t, you’re too nice, stay that way), you could ask him to repeat himself.

“I’m sorry. I can’t hear you. What was that?”

“Still can’t make it out. Pardon?”

“Can you say that more slowly?”

Essentially, take command of the situation. Let him know through your actions that he doesn’t scare you. He’s a clown.

So I didn’t meh and I lost it.

It happens. These are early days. Forgive yourself.

I said. “Oh I heard you. I wasn’t saying ‘hi’ back. You are everywhere I go. Can’t you just go away?!?? Disappear? Go away, forever?! I don’t ever want you around! Just go and never come back.”

This isn’t the worst thing you could say to someone. You didn’t demand that his dick fall off. You didn’t tell Schmoopie about his other girlfriends. (Real or fictitious.) Nobody called the Park Service or Smokey Bear.

Really, as fuck-offs go, this is pretty mild. And truthful. You don’t want him around. But, he gets off on getting a reaction, and this is primo kibble — SHE CARES! Better to toss him cheap kibble. “Hi.” Be boring.

They miss having you to triangulate with, and being in your space or running into you in a small town and seeing how much it bothers you DELIGHTS them. So deny them that.

He just replied, “Oh THAT’s real nice…” (rudely and as if he deserves no anger or consequences ever).

He deserves consequences — and he got them. You divorced his ass. He’s been deprived of the wonderfulness of you. He deserves anger too, but unfortunately he feeds on it. (Centrality! Kibbles!) His punishment is being him. That’s Schmoopie’s punishment too. Give it to God, or the universe or whatever you believe in. Can’t control his fuckwittery.

And then I rode off.

Happy ending. Keep riding off — away from him. As often as necessary.

Big hugs.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I think you did a great job. You’re human and under a lot of pressure, things happen. I screamed at my X in front of my youngest once. Decided to never let that happen again. Went full NC and moved almost an hour away. Never have to worry about bumping into him in a store or park and I love me new life without him!

    • “I’m sorry. I can’t hear you. What was that?”

      “Still can’t make it out. Pardon?”

      “Can you say that more slowly?”

      😂😂😂

        • I like “Oh. Hi.” Then turn and look back at whatever you were doing before.

          It’s as if he were just one of a swarm of insignificant fans clamoring for your attention. The idea is to let him know that you saw him, which he demanded, but that he is too insignificant to get your attention.

          I’m reminded of the woman who was confronted by a flasher on a city street. He jumped in front of her, opened his coat and bounced his dick. She glanced at it then shook her head. “Poor man. So small.” Then she turned and walked away.

      • These are great. I’m going to practice these now. No yelling to basically fall off the face of the earth next time. 😉

      • I read the following line from one of the responses here a long time ago and I use it if I ever encounter my ex or one of her flying monkeys: “Surely you know what I think of you.” And then I walk away. Works for me every time.

        • My ex would not know what I think of him now b/c he does not seem to know what HE has done.

          He never really connected people’s negative reactions to HIS behavior, so why would he now? I actually am not sure he’s capable of facing the damage he did to me and our kids.

          Either he lacks empathy totally OR just for those HE harms,

          or he’s a well disguised sociopath.

          I happen to think he lacks empathy for those HE harms

          AND OR is too terrified to face it b/c it would mean he’s NOT a good man and he did bad things to the 4 people who loved him the most.

          Whatever…

          my only point was that no, I don’t think my EX knows how he’s seen OR why.

          I think he does crazy making mental gymnastics to help see himself as the victim.

          Or maybe he concedes he “could have handled a few things better” and sees this as a grand BRAVE and HUMBLE insight. Ah, such growth!

          he’s all better now…

          sorry for the digression

        • I love this remark, “Surely you know what I think of you.” 🙂 I’m keeping it in my back pocket for another time…

    • You did fine. Although even in a small town it’s concerning he’s showing up where you are all the time, especially on a date. You know he wheedled that out of the kids. Be ready to get a restraining order.

      • Yeah, this. If he’s dumping the kids with his schmoopie and showing up every place you go, it’s because he asked them about your plans. You need to stop telling the kids where you’re going/what you’re doing while they are with their dad. Also, it’s very creepy. He’s getting off on annoying you AND her.

      • I think it’s more a function that we have 20+ years together and were still doing a lot of dates and activities together when all fell apart. The kids don’t know when or where I’m going when I’m not with them. It’s more that the non-bar gathering places are small-town breweries, biking/hiking trail heads, a handful of restaurants (only a few nice ones), a small farmer’s market, and one or two small music venues/theaters. It is ironic that he yelled, “We have nothing in common anymore. We don’t have any hobbies in common even.” on D-Day night. Because if we had nothing in common, shouldn’t he not be at the same trail heads, concerts, breweries, and events as me. Hmmm. I think he just needed to think that to make himself feel/look better about cheating and having sex with both his girlfriend and me.

        I am more concerned that he goes out without the kids when he has them those nights – and usually to breweries – it’s sad that he would rather socialize and drink than spend time with my kids. I feel bad for the kids, but also just wish I had them at those times.

        • My husband is quickly turning our kids against him by blowing them off. One daughter lives with him but plans to move back in with me if I get enough support for a bigger place. For now I go get her 5 nights a week since he can’t be bothered to parent. COVID has messed this up but I’m working on a solution.

        • Hang in there! My ex-assface also constantly hired babysitters for my 12 year old (who he saw infrequently) to the point where she just stopped going to his place for overnight visits. She’s 13 now and where we live, she can decide where she wants to stay. He actually told our daughter that, when she visits, he misses his girlfriend because our daughter doesn’t want to be around the girlfriend – that was the nail on the coffin for my lovely girl. She now kind of sees her dad now and again and doesn’t respect him as a parent. It’s sad. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on life – he’s out having the time of his life with schmoopie doing all the grown up things and I have no one now. But, at the end of my life, I will have had precious time with my daughter – that’s something you can never get from anyone else.
          Hugs! (and fuck him)

          • I also struggle with feeling that I’m missing out on life while he’s out having a blast with his new girlfriend. He gets his happily ever after without a care in the world. That said I don’t think my husband is all that happy. Yes he’s with her every freaking day, yes he regularly chooses her over the kids and yes he’s out doing grown up things. My kids say he looks terrible now so maybe life isn’t so perfect after all?? Still waiting on karma or Tuesday I’ll take either one because this sucks.

            • I probably would have imagined cheater was having a great time with Twatfaffle too had I not hired a PI to get photo evidence
              Good time? In the photos they looked like they hated each other and their respective imaginary dogs had just died to boot She looked like she wanted to kill someone.

              When I first confronted him over the affair, I had a little fun and didn’t mention a PI, just that they’d been “seen” at a certain time and place together. He winced, probably imagining neighbors or family friends. I asked if they’d had a fight or something. He shook his head. Apparently that was their “normal.” Drunk and joyless.

              Cheaters and abusers aren’t original. If we all had a fly-on-the-wall view of what really goes on in sleazy affairs, we might realize cheaters just took their “unlove” elsewhere. They found someone for whom the shit-sack of unlovingness seems familiar due to whatever developmental scarring process that killed their empathy, self respect and sense of smell.

              I mean APs, if they knew the cheater was married or attached, can never claim they didn’t get the full stink of lovelessness on day 1, whereas chumps are usually gradually acclimatized to the stench, boiling frog-style.

              • Quick question before I head off to work.

                My husband moved out before I caught him. Why do they do this if it makes them unhappy? If this OW is just a place card does the next one finally make them happy?

                Not at meh

            • Elena from my experience with my ex- she didn’t get ANYTHING I hadn’t already had. I knew him like the back of my hand, as do you with yours. Also she can’t be confident or comfortable knowing what she knows and just think he’ll not have a perfect relationship with her or maybe anyone for that matter
              Ps you don’t want to rush into a relationship before working on yourself- I made that mistake and the ex I’m referring to is the one right before my current husband.
              Try not to think about what he’s doing I hope your daughter comes soon

          • Chumptastic, he’s a selfish prick saying that to his daughter. Abandonment is damaging to kids this age. It’s a deep wound probably worse than our own.

            What I suspect will happen is that he’ll want center stage when she graduates per entitlement. He’ll be surprised when he’s not. This was my experience with my granddaughter who was abandoned. The expectation was that he’d get invited to all her performances and attend family events as if nothing happened.

            Rather than date I spent those years making her my priority. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Great job!

            • Thanks for that. He likes to parade around with the “solo dad” image. They are pricks! My daughter is horrified of the thought of me dating because she’s so traumatised by her dad leaving the family. Also, he somehow thinks she’s suppose to want to hang out with his homewrecking girlfriend. He’s a total loser.

              • My 19 year old son asked me straight up if I had someone. Said he was moving out if I did.

            • @Elena no they don’t think like we do. Quit trying to understand him. I’m sorry he just sucks. He’s shallow and shitty. I found that’s the reason for a lot of it. Lundy Bancroft “Why Does He Do That?” explained a lot to me. He also has a website. Hugs. Sorry it sucks.

              • That book was life-changing for me!!! He opened my eyes and i can never un-see the things he showed me.

        • Yes the “we have nothing in common anymore” is straight up cheater’s playbook. My wasband muttered this here and there for months before D-day. It just have him another excuse to keep sleeping with his howorker and me the wife appliance. My wasband actually ignored me and slipped out the door of a restaurant when we happened to both be in our hometown 300 miles away. Kinda funny considering we had just exchanged the kids in the state where we all live and then we traveled separately to where we grew up. He’s either all charm to his fan club or cowardly lion when he encounters me or my family.

    • Thanks – this is me – Not Enough Open Space. You’re right that I need to just move on and do better next time. Thanks for the reminder.

  • I have a PLAN for various scenarios and I REHEARSE. A good time is when driving in the car alone. Also a good time is when starting or parking the car. In the shower. Like preparing for battle. It takes superhuman strength to remain calm when you feel the opposite and the adrenaline is pumping.

    Make a PLAN and REHEARSE.

    For me, Meh is arrived at over time and doing my trauma healing work and practicing not feeding the monster….something that happens….like a butterfly that lands on my shoulder….not a place I can will myself to….therefore I should not chastise myself if I have not arrived there yet…..

    ❤️

    • I should add that what encourage me to stay as silent as possible is remembering that it takes MORE strength to not react….that anything I say can and will be twisted to validate the smack he talked about me and enable him to shift the focus off of himself and onto me….I do NOT want to hand them a single piece of ammo.

      He is now in the Smiling Waver category. You can smile, wave, and think anything you want about them simultaneously. Remember that for chimpanzees, smiling is a sign of aggression…..

      • I have a friend who has a strategy of acting bat shit crazy when she sees her ex. Like, over the top weirdo! She’s very brave and funny (an amateur theatre performer in the past). I’ve never seen it, but she’s described how disarming it is for the ex and his schmoopie. She does things like says “howdy” and does a cowboy jig, and tips her imaginary hat to them! And we live in a small town…

  • Turn the tables. The next time you encounter him and Schmoopie and he demands that you acknowledge their presence, simply say “you must still be really obsessed with me. You keep showing up at the places I frequent, and you insist on making sure I see you. You need to move on. It’s not fair to Schmoopie.”

      • If he is really a narcissist that is still feeding the beast. Just say “hi” back and move on. Narcissist feed on ANY reaction.

    • I think I would smile slightly, look at the whore with pity, chuckle, and walk off.

      It must be so *vile* to have to live in the same town as the fucktard and his whore, my heart goes out to all chumps in that horrible situation. ((hugs)) ❤️

    • The thought in my head was similar — “Focus on the person you’re with, and so will I.” Different words, same idea. (Plus calls it out that he’s giving more attention to you then schmoops the clown over there.)

    • I told mine to stop striving for relevance in my life.
      He’d do stupid crap just for attention.

    • I agree. Call him on his game. Why does he care so much if he is happy in his new life? Or you could turn the tables by saying hi to Schmoopie and ask her “How’s it going?” and walk away without waiting for her answer. That way you get to ignore him and show you are not bitter.

      The turning up where ever you are is a more than a little weird. I live in a very small town (Pop. 6500) and just don’t run into people that often. Are you sure he does not have a tracker on your phone or car?

      • Or more maybe a listening device in her house or on her or a kid’s phone, or a way to view texts.

    • Love this. I need to do this one. I know it will happen again in the next few weeks.

      I will rehearse it!

  • I would just say, “Please do not talk to me. I prefer to believe you do not exist. Can you make that happen?”

    And, UGH! with having sex on your couch IN FRONT OF YOU! Asswipes!

    I’m at about the same time frame in this as you are. If I saw him, I’d do the same. I am at meh because I do not have to see or talk to him.

  • In such circumstances, I might go with a seemingly-benign acknowledgment, which nonetheless indicates indifference & sarcasm simultaneously. E.g., my last email to X, I signed “Toodles.” Drove him mad.

    Options for in person meetings? He says hello, you flash him a peace sign. In my case, I could go with a Longhorn sign–index & pinky finger up (since X and I are both in the relevant city). I”m also fond of the clown face–a smile with raised eyebrows that indicates “Glad to see you. Not.”

    Think of your own signature mark. Spock greeting? Queen’s wave? “Hi ya!” So much sarcasm, so little time.

    • Hmmm …. I loved the Spock hand idea until I said the greeting in my head “Live long and prosper”.

      Maybe if I flip my hand so it is pointing down it would mean “Die soon and wither”.

  • Eh – it was a moment and it’s early days. So next time, respond with “Huh”. Are you sure he isn’t tracking you via the kids phones? I wouldn’t be surprised if that is exactly what he was doing with some sort of family plan app that you both use.

    You may want to check that out.

    Meanwhile, I hope it was a great bike ride despite Fuckwit and the Spare Vagina.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Even in a small town the amount of “overlap” seems a bit suspicious. You should also check your phone if it is the one you were using when you were together.

      • That was my first thought when reading this: He’s tracking you via the phones. Make sure “Family Share” is off and that you’re no longer connected on the same phone plan.

        My ex freaked out when I cut that cord, which I found really odd. My thought was, “Of course we’re not going to be on the same plan anymore! Why would we be?” He had all kinds of “reasons” why we should remain on the same plan. When he rattled on about them to me, my spidey senses kicked in. I also purchased a new computer as soon as I could because I’m pretty sure he had installed a key-logger. He “knew” too much and would let it slip from time-to-time.

        I get the sense that it’s hard for cheaters who get off on controlling the narrative — and have been for years — to have their methods of surveillance removed.

        • Yes, I agree about phone tracking! I recently had occasion to use the Find My Phone app on my iphone to track a daughter’s all night move from state-to-state, and I was surprised about how much info was easily and quickly available.
          But the best advice is the prepared response. I also told my now adult children not to tell me anything about him or share anything about me. He freaked out when he thought I was dating during a lull for him. This is harder when you’re still sharing the kids, especially in a small town. My XH moved thousands of miles away. Good luck to you!

    • Oldest has a phone, but it doesn’t show him tracking him on it. I own the phone and it’s my plan. I just checked again. Other kids don’t have phones and he can’t track mine.

      I think it really is that he is just unimaginative. I was the tour guide and planner of our life for 20 years and so he just goes to these places without thinking or examining anything. He just doesn’t think of it. Also his family and my family live in this town and friends, so sometimes its that those friends have the same hobbies and groups of friends. I’m surprised that others with 20+ year relationships also don’t have this problem. I am also surprised that his ho-worker schomoopie doesn’t mind going to these places – it’s like he just recycles dates that we used to have all the time.

      • Also married for twenty years. Both of us live in same small town. Yes, they are so unoriginal. Ex frequents all the same places that I do, including a specialty grocery store. It’s hard to get away from them. But as much as ex gets off on my kibbles, I thoroughly enjoy ignoring and using silence; it twists the ex into pretzel knots when I do. I keep all my Grade A kibbles for myself. The best revenge is living well. Hugs.

        • I agree, total lack of imagination. On D-Day, I asked where he’d been with SchmooperFreak (I already knew, thanks to his companion Amex card, because the joint bill came to me – and until D-Day, I never bothered to check it, just paid it off. Stupid, I know.
          ). Anyway, more or less every special place we’d been to in the last few years, including an extremely exclusive hotel owned by my uncle’s best friend. Why the last one? Apparently SchmooperFreak INSISTED on it. Wonder why…? As it turned out, I found out before my uncle’s friend hit the alarm button, so I guess she got her way in one way at least.

      • It sounds exactly like he is tracking you.

        1. Change your account passwords, and your computer logins including the admin password.

        2. Have your computer checked for keylogger software.

        3. Have your vehicle checked for tracking devices.

      • Change your google password. Way too much information is saved on your google account.

        Dr. Dumbass didn’t change his passwords, so during the divorce, I knew everything he googled and where he was (so I could avoid). Kind of creepy, but also helpful–he googled Conan the Barbarian’s “take no prisoners speech” the morning of our mediation. So many other crazy, laughable things, but was glad to end that when divorce over.

      • Definitely lazy. Mine is. Uses same cutesy nicknames for her as he did for me. I was also the planner and his hobbies are mine. So even though he moved hours away to Schmoopie (thank God!) They do those things there, as far as I was aware, for those first painful months and years. He recently even asked me for a favourite recipe I used, because she doesn’t cook, and I am a foodie…two and a half years after he imploded an up until then pretty damn lovely thirty years together. Fucktard.

        • Horsercumin, what a dick. Mine did something similar, and maybe worse. He really loved a lamp that we used to make love to (it had a nice warm glow). When he moved out, he had the balls to ask me where I bought that lamp because he wanted one. I burst into tears (it was only a few days after DDay). He said, “what are you crying?” I said, “you know why, that was our special lamp”, to which he said, “yeah, I know what’s special about it, that’s why I want one.” The pain of that moment haunts me. Oh, and of course, he can’t cook and wanted the family recipe book when he left. Narcissistic fucktards indeed.

      • You are right about lacking originality and recycling dates. When my ex left the house to move into his own place, the last thing he looked up on the household computer before he left was the recipe for lemongrass soup.

        At first I cried, but later came to laugh about it. Why?

        Well, there was only one time ever my husband make lemongrass soup. That was almost 13 years before when he made a special meal to ask me to marry him. It was the appetizer to the Thai inspired dinner he made. A few months before he left, I brought up how much I liked that soup and asked why he had never made it again.

        He went on to make it for his first dinner as a “free” man for his schmoopsie. Really?

        • How predictable. My ex also made sure he took his French love poems that he used to read to me. He left all his belongings, but I noticed that was off the shelf! Honestly, it’s freaking me out how similar all this shit is…they’re cut from the same cloth.

        • My husband can’t cook and I’m no contact. He tries to cook what I used to for the kids (he’s still hiding the OW) not realizing that those meals trigger our teens. I’m a foodie so after he left I scrapped every family dinner and started over. He then started questioning our kids about what I was cooking so he could copy it. Epic fail because he’s unoriginal and a bad cook.

      • “I think it really is that he is just unimaginative.”

        Yes, they really don’t think like normal people. I remember the fucktard (before we were married) tried to give me jewellery and a watch left behind by his ex girlfriend (the one he cheated on his first wife with) I was angry and said why the hell would I want something he’d given to her? His puzzled reply was, I don’t think that way. Another red flag I ignored.

        But in your case I don’t think it’s lack of imagination, because he’s actively rubbing your (and the whore’s) nose in it by trying to make you react and respond to him. Piece of shit.

      • 19-year marriage, 1.5 years since D-day, 9 months divorced. Ex is marrying ho-worker next week and they still travel 35 minutes to the other side of our large city to frequent the local shops just blocks from my new home. Ex became a super stalker during our separation and will still creep and try to move the goalposts whenever possible. Moving in with schmoopie a week after D-day, and proposing a month later made little difference in mitigating the stalking. AP also seems to really get-off on the centrality and visibility too. During the early separation and affair days, they frequented every restaurant and shop in blocks surrounding our previous home and brought my 9 yo DD along on their dates to assure I’d know they were infiltrating. Yup, I was tracked and geographically imprisoned until I could sell the house, divorce, and finally move to a neighboring gated community. The creeping about seemed so odd to me because you would think they’d want to start fresh and have new experiences not associated with the ex-wife, but nope. You have to remember that with NPD and cluster B types, they often need to keep the affair dynamics going even if they’re playing to an empty house. It’s a huge narcissistic wound and loss of supply when nobody cares what they’re doing and who they’re screwing. Showing up and being seen is a source of porn for many of these couples. The “public flaunt” also gives them a stage to further validate the legitimacy and okayness of their past actions. I am completely NC and have all exchanges at public locations that don’t require my ex and I to see each other. STILL, my ex tries to exit the car, enter the venue, engage in contact, and Schmoopie comes to almost every exchange to partake in the theatrics. I give them nothing.

  • A few things:
    1. Your husband appears to be an exhibitionist. I don’t think there’s any cure for that so try to expect and then ignore the “look at me look at me“ dance he does every time you see him.
    2. No town is that small. Unless you were showing up at the same gallery every Friday night at the same time, I would check my phone for spyware. Go to settings and turn off tracking on your phone. Also in this may be difficult, when you go out without the kids, don’t really mention where you’re going in case they are telling their father.
    3. Try a halfhearted wave the next time you see him but don’t say anything. If he tries to engage in conversation, just ask him point-blank why he’s bothering. Or tell him you’ve run out of words with him.

    You really sound like you’re doing pretty well, considering. At least give yourself props for that.

    • My XW hacked my phone and was tracking me for 6 months. She changed my trusted number and passwords on my Apple account and ICloud. She hacked even my Social Society account. They can track you thru your Apple account. She knew who I was visiting and talking with. I would show up at peoples houses 1,000 miles away and she would text or call them WHILE I was there to try to do the smear campaign and sad sausage. That’s how I figured out she was tracking me because I left their house and headed to another house and she was talking them before I got of the car. I went to the Apple store and they said they help law enforcement about this kind of stalking. BUT since my XW had to pay my cellphone for a year according to the divorce decree she could say she owned the phone.

    • Or lie — tell the kids you will be at X when you are going to Y. As along as the kids can contact you — why does it matter? Send him on a few wild goose chases. Pop some popcorn and enjoy the fun. If it comes up say something banal like “Oh, new boyfriend and I decided at the last minute to go to the movies instead of the gallery opening”. Then you will know who is informing on you.

  • We’ve all had interactions like that, where we wish we’d had a little more grace and dignity. Your lapse is pretty minor here, though it would have been better if your son hadn’t overheard it.

    So you revealed to your ex that you’re not at meh. He knows that you’re still suffering, and probably he and schmoopie are enjoying it a little bit. So what? Does his opinion of you still matter? I can guarantee that he and schmoopie have spun a tale of complete and utter fantasy in which you are the unrepentant villain. This little outburst won’t even register in the scale of offenses that they have already invented for you. You don’t want to be chasing their good opinion – that’s a recipe for madness.

    If you want to react with more sangfroid for yourself – great. If you’ve noticed that granting XH kibbles causes him to come back for more, then that’s a valid reason to work on your zen in their presence. If you want to shield your kids so they don’t feel forced to choose between you – fine. But don’t worry about your little outburst affecting his opinion of you – you can’t control that, and you don’t want to get dragged into trying to manage it.

    • It’s true. You just encountered the person who actively screwed your life over and wasted your time. Pleasant thoughts font spring to mind.

    • Thanks. I like this POV. It’s an emotional set-back for me, but you’re right, he already thinks I’m horrible for his own twisted mind-fuckery, so I’m not trying to get a good image with him. I just want my kids to know that I have boundaries with their dad, and they get to figure out their own relationship with him.

      Thanks, again.

  • I would imagine that he would stay out of your life completely if you had enough nerve to say, Excuse me, everyone, but these two were screwing on my couch while I was in the house and still married to him. He keeps showing up wherever I am and it’s like looking at the devil.

      • I am not too nice… but most people don’t know this. I have contemplated telling my story at an open mic night someday, because the D-Day story and couch are pretty funny now. I have made many a friends laugh at the absurdity of it all. I just can’t do this with kids in town. It would probably get back to my teenager somehow. 😉

        • My kids were older during the split, but,
          Kid: “Where are you going??”
          Me: “Out”
          Kid: “Out where?”
          Me: “Out-side”
          Kid: “Mommmm”
          Me: “That’s Classified”. I’ll be back around X:xx. Bye

          I actually had a Secret clearance early in my career that they knew about. Access denied without a ‘need to know’. Doesn’t matter though, you can still use the statement, lol.

          As for the ex, that is above average for spontaneous run ins. Do you run into any friends that often? I can barely recall running into any of my friends at the grocery store, EVER, yet we lived within a mile of each other. I’d beware.

          You’re response was just fine, you didn’t even swear! “Fuck Off” are the only two words I would use in that situation. With the matching hand gesture.

  • Your son did it perfectly. Personally, I ignore and believe no response is necessary. And the kibble he’s seeking is to piss off the whore too. They are very insecure.

  • This IT person is also asking, in your quest towards Meh, to make sure you don’t have a tracking device on your car or phone. I know you said it’s a small town, but I’d hate to think you didn’t have at least average small town privacy because he actually DOES know where to show up.

    If it turns out he has been playing mindgames via technology, speak to your lawyer immediately, s/he will know how to advise your next move. And you’ll at least have the satisfaction of knowing he is far less over you, than you are of him.

    He’s such a turd, regardless.

    • There really needs to be an affordable resource for abused partners / chumps to have their technology, homes and cars checked for devices. When I figured out that my STBX had spyware on my phone I made calls about forensic analysis. I ended up going an “unofficial” route I doubt many people have access to people with that skill set.

  • Ohhh man I can see you’ve been handling things very well. You made all the right moves immediately I am impressed! no mention of a broken heart. Was he doing this on the couch A sort of final straw for you? Had he cheated before? I only ask because I am also studying and unfortunately comparing which I know is awful. It’s been a month since dday#2 for me. First time was during us dating (his ex let me know out of spite, that they were together)I’ve been up and down. All over the place from rage and anger to sobbing. Sleeping. Reading. Thinking writing. More reading. Any advice how to snap out of it? Cheating is the highest violation
    Why has it been so difficult to just file the papers? They’re ready. Why am I not??
    Because he’s here? And “trying”. He’s really just repeatedly apologizing and that he can live without me. (Of course he’d live) he’ll do anything. I am a forgiving loving person perhaps that’s why it happened to me?
    What can he do he can’t help this now. I don’t care if the infidelity was 6 years And he never looked back,as claimed, or 6 months ago. It did happen. And it was with his daughters mom(again). Try and undo that
    He showed me his private part yesterday and I said “what are you doing?!? I know what your body looks like”… later we watched a movie (apart in the couch) he later tried to lay his head on me I got up and went to my bed. Told him he’s never had boundaries that must be how he got in this mess. He’s just acting so needy. I need hugs and kisses and love. Really? I don’t

    HELP

    • You should ask to join the CL reddit forum there’s real time support all the time .

      I think you just create a username and ask to join r/chumpladynation ( some of the mods will be on this thread to correct me if I’m wrong )

      Come join us for help and support

      • Thank you! I joined the fb page yesterday… I’ll look for that, someone else suggested as well. I couldn’t find it but will try again❤️

      • It’s a long story but my husband went out with his new girlfriend Saturday night and I’m devastated. Cried, couldn’t get off the couch and called in sick today.

        COVID shut down my in real life support group and I’m in desperate need of help. Can someone send me the link and/or get me an invite into the reddit group? I can’t find it.

            • I’m a hot mess today. Joined reddit and my user name is Elena1684.

              I’m on this divorce board and today, a day when I wish I could die (not suicidal just in a lot of pain) a poster said I should knit. Really?

              • I was there and I know there’s no pain like that shit. What really helped me was hitting the gym, but since they’re mostly closed I also would take my dog for a LONG walk with headphone blaring some kick ass music. Find hills to conquer, really use your muscles, I’d walk till I was ready to drop by the time i made it home. Working up a sweat releases endorphins, it clears your head and as a bonus you get in better shape. Good luck, time will help get you there

              • The only use I had for knitting needles at that point was to stab a voodoo doll. WTF. Unless you know how to knit and find it relaxing. 🤦‍♀️ I used a punching bag until my arms were screaming from pain. It was a physical release. Sorry it sucks.

              • Elena just wondering how do you know what he’s doing? It’s so much better to not know
                I think we all just want curl up and “die”. I actually said it today. It’s desperation it’s having had ENOUGH. I have faith it will pass.
                Please don’t pay attention to what he’s doing. Big hugs to you

              • My therapist always says this:

                It’s understandable and realistic to feel this way. But, you won’t feel like this forever. You will recover.

                Write it down and look at it every 30 seconds if you have to! Don’t let a fuckwit take you down. Tell yourself you can get through one more day. Day at a time.

                Stay strong. Be mighty.

              • My 14 year old lives with him. We didn’t know about the OW then and he bribed her to live with him. She is how I know things. She avoids him now and wants to live with me. Working on it.

    • Oh, Shann – your guy sounds like my STBX (through we are both women). No reason to untangle the skein, but it sounds like there’s a similar toxic brew there. The lack of boundaries is a huge red flag. My STBX also paid a lot of lip service to the notion of being “sorry” after D-Day #2 but couldn’t actually DO the hard things that might have restored trust. Like giving me space, not making it all about her, listening to me without defensiveness. Like cutting off contact with most of the “friends” who had encouraged her in her affair. Like telling me the truth about the specific questions I had. CL has an excellent list in her “Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse” post.

      It sounds like your guy’s bahviors are not acceptable to you. If you’re having trouble pulling the trigger – which I understand! – maybe you could find a therapist (even if remote right now) who acknowledges that infidelity is emotional abuse, and have that person help you communicate to your guy that what he is doing is unacceptable.

      Best wishes to you! I know (we all do) that all the options feel awful after a D-Day. Just keep doing the next right thing, whatever that is.

      • Thank you for sharing! It is definitely abuse why can’t I just end this madness now. I know that I’ll most likely have regret and not be able to live a full life if I don’t now let this go. He’s kind and generous around the house my family loves/ed him… now my daughter (23) can’t stand him but she’s not an angry girl she’s still cordial and stays out of it. She’s been very mature about things and I’m just sorry she even knows. He says I understand you’re hurt and want to be here for whatever you need. What could I possibly need now?? I’m so mixed up. Some days I think I have it ya know? I guess it’d be easier if he just left
        Because I wouldn’t have to make these final decisions
        His daughter calls me mom despite being brainwashed all these years by bio mom on how I am not her mother and I am bad and my family is not her real family. Wow. We loved that kid
        I’ve never had to do this but I’m glad we didn’t have a child of our own.

    • Please join the reddit. We talk and help each other and it’s good – especially early on. Hugs. Huge Hugs.

      Oh and nope – no inkling of cheating, but there were other things I missed – mostly pulling away and excessive drinking. We were 23 years together, 12+ married… we left the house holding hands and all dolled-up on a date. We had drinks before his holiday party and listened to live music, a great time at his holiday party, I left to go home to put kids to bed. He was “cleaning up” and would follow and 2 hours later he brought his ho-worker home b/c “she drank too much.” We all talked in the kitchen, I went back to the bedroom, but it’s only 40-ft down the hall, and 6 minutes later they stopped talking and started having sex. Came out confronted them both, and I kicked him out. I also cleaned his stuff out of my room and two other closest and put his stuff in the garage that night. So date night to D-Day for me in 6 hours, and trauma therapy for years to come. 😉

      • That is insane and quite possibly the best way. Like ripping off a band aid, if it IS going to happen. Unbelievable of him AND her. I am so sorry. You’re a true warrior and God help us all for even having to be here.

      • We were together 22 years and married 13. We celebrated my birthday by going out to dinner the night before his D-day discard of me. I had no clue he was having an affair with howorker for about 1 year. Narcs like to ruin birthdays, holidays, etc. Social events like company parties are a big deal to them. I remember about 2 years prior we were at his holiday Christmas party and I got a call from my aunt saying to head home because my mom was on her death bed. So I had to leave the party early by myself so I could pick up the kids from the babysitter and start packing in order to leave first thing in the morning. Husband thought I would be fine doing this myself and he didn’t want to leave the party at only 10 pm. & wanted to keep partying with coworkers. Just another self involved narc needing to feed off his fan club.

    • It sounds like Hoovering to me. I think you should use this as an opportunity to get your ducks in order. Play along (as much as you can stand) and appease him and quietly get everything in order so you are in the best possible position when you file.

      Read CL’s Featured Articles located on the bottom of the CL.com homepage – How to Leave a Cheater, I just found out I was cheated on and What NOT to do. These posts along with the great advice you received from Mistake44 and AllOutofKibble from last Thursday’s post should help you come up with a plan.

      If you haven’t already reach out to friends and family who love and support you do it now; even if you haven’t talked to them recently they will want to help you! And Chump Nation is here for you when you need someone to vent to or provide digital hugs!

  • I, too, have recently had a MEH “slip” (borrowing from AA)… admist Covid-19 here in the Northeast, we had agreed to a very modified visitation schedule with our 14yo son… which basically meant Mr. Sparkles disappeared for a month except for one or two texts to our son. Then suddenly comes an invite directly to my son to go over to Mr. Sparkles house for pizza and a “game night” with him, the current GF, and other family members living there.

    After a couple glasses of wine, and a minor pity party (single Mom in isolation, blah, blah, blah)… I shot Mr. Sparkles a text basically saying: “I know GF doesn’t care that you cheat on her with your personal ads, but you better not be exposing our son to any Coronavirus risks because you can’t keep it in your pants.”… and . I regretted it instantly… I am 99% no contact, definitely established residency in Mehtown… ugh.

    I awoke the next day to a text reply telling me that he is no longer on dating sites, he’s very happy with GF, and any personal ads I see of him are phishing attempts where someone is using his photos and identity on these sites… but he’s happy I’m trying to date again.

    FACE PALM. That reply right there – like seeing your X on the hike – is all I need to see/read/hear to know that he is as delusional as ever and a special kind of stupid is alive and well in his current relationship.

    Don’t beat yourself up… slips are gonna happen. Get back on the no contact wagon and don’t take the bait. Hang in there! You are mighty!

  • The feminist in me is angry for you because women are expected to be polite. Fuck that shit.

    If a strange man yells “hey baby” and you ignore him, you might hear a follow up similar to your ex’s: “I said HEY BABY!” As if you are required to acknowledge his presence. The expectation of being entitled to a look in their direction.

    You don’t owe that stranger anything, and you don’t owe the dickwad anything either. You don’t even have to look at him. Plus saying nothing means you don’t have to worry about a clever retort.

    If you don’t want to acknowledge some random dude or some scummy ex-husband, you don’t ever have to!

    • Yes! I didn’t think of it that way. If I didn’t know him, that would have been totally creepy. And because I know him… it’s still creepy that he needs acknowledgement after what he did. He should know already that no response is a response. That is why his nickname is Stunted – because he is emotionally Stunted.

      Thanks for the feminist perspective. Love it.

  • I, too, live in the same small town with my ex. I run into her, her boyfriend, her catty/snide friends, and the-people-formerly-known-as-my-friends-but-now-Switzerland-friends, all the time. All.the.stinkin’.time.
    My ex, depending on the audience, spins the tale of her ex as either
    “We’d be just the best of friends, if he’d only let me! I’m just so nice and kind to him, and he’s just such a bitter troll” -or-
    “I’m just such a tough, scrappy, single mom whose jerk— ex was so mean to her, poor little thing!”
    Some days, I just want to tell these women “she’s a serial cheater, I wouldn’t let her near your husband if I was you.”

    • So sorry you run into your ex too… but I’m also relieved that someone else has this happen. It’s like torture by a thousand small cuts. You just have to keep on and pretend that you aren’t 10-ft from a trauma-trigger. It’s draining.

      I have this workout class and three close friends, and every Wednesday I go to this class and then meet the friends for a beer at the brewery after. Every week. XH should know this. Yet, he has kids and still shows up (often alone) as I am having beers with friends at the brewery about once a month. I honestly think he’s just trying to image-manage and doesn’t even know it. He can’t stand that I sit there laughing and living while he is supposed to be with the kids or picking them up from their after school program (pre-Covid). Just before Covid he showed up and I was in the bathroom, and one of my friends walked up to him and said, “You know your Ex-Wife is here with us every week. Why don’t you find another place to hang out on Wednesdays. It’s getting annoying how much you want to be around her.” He just scoffed and walked to a different floor, but at least I didn’t have to see him and she didn’t even tell me that night so I could enjoy myself. 😉

      I love my friend for doing that.

      • Downtoearth / Not Enough Open Space, he shows up without the kids (on one of his custody days?), to stalk you at a bar? Gosh, that’s creepy.

      • Don’t ya love friends! Mine has a good tactic.
        Every time she sees my ex (via work) she says, “Oh my god, how are you doing? You look so tired. I’m so sorry your wife left you. I’m so sorry she did that. You must miss her terribly, she was so amazing. Do you ever hear from her? Do you need anything?” etc. etc.

        Then she calls me straight away to tell me all about the horrified look on his face and we laugh our asses off! She makes sure others are in the room so he doesn’t talk back. She’s more powerful than him.

        It’s the best feeling…I wish it would happen more for us chumps.

    • I’m probably going against the grain, but I see no reason to be even polite to someone who has hurt me as much as my ex did. She did the “I think of you as a good friend” bullshit.

      I told her I can’t be friends with someone who lied and cheated on me after 21 years of marriage, and ran off to live with an assclown she met on Facebook. Left me and her two boys. When the boys tried to tell her how hurt they were, she said “don’t I deserve to be happy?” Who says that to a 12 year old?

      She gaslighted me, blamed me, blamed her son, everyone but her was wrong. After pick me dancing for 6 months, I filed, after she told me to 5 times. Then she said she never wanted a divorce, I forced her to, despite the fact she had been living 70 miles away with dickhead for more than 6 months, and I like a fool kept thinking she was having a midlife crisis and would come back.

      She eventually admitted lying and has been cruel. The only thing she seems to care about is herself and my retirement money, which I gave her half of (I have full custody of my terrific boys, don’t pay spousal support. She pays no child support.)

      Thankfully, we haven’t seen her since December 2019. The boys don’t want to see or talk to her and it’s better for my mental health when she doesn’t come around, but Mother’s Day is coming and the narcissist in her loves the attention and loves posting everything wonderful about herself on Facebook.

  • My ex tries to torment me by texting/emailing me ‘updates’ about our kids who live with him. If I refuse to respond he will tell the kids that I didn’t answer him, and they get be upset with me. So now, if he sends his updates, I reply that I am in contact with them. His answer: ‘Sure you are’. To which I don’t reply. These people get their thrills by trying to get a reaction from us. Just say hi to your ex when you see him and keep on keeping on.

    • Mitz, you MUST explain to your kids that what Cheater is doing is completely inappropriate, and that from now on you will be ignoring it. Tell them that if Cheater riles them up about that, that is HIM creating a problem, not you.

      Then IGNORE completely. What a fuckwit he is!

  • I think you’ve done extremely well in such a short space of time very mighty indeed .

    I wonder what howorker thinks of her boyfriend even saying Hi to his ex ? That can’t make her feel safe and secure in her relationship !

    I wonder this a lot not that it’s anything like my circumstance but I do wonder if the OW/OM get paranoid that their new partner is still so attached ( trying to get kibbles ) from their ex .

    • I doubt she cares. I knew her for 5 years before D-Day and she’s…um… simple to say the most. She is also a cheater – I gave her 24 hours to tell her husband and then sent him the whole story. So I’m guessing she doesn’t care what I say or do with XH. I also just assume that XH lied to her too. She probably has no idea that we were still having sex or that XH gave me lovey-dovey “I am still crazy in love with you.” cards just 24 hours before D-Day.

      I dislike her too, but I also don’t think she’d ever even say “Hi” to me in public. I am much better at just giving her the eyes that say, “NOPE, Not Today Satan!”

  • A more brassy lady would have said: “Hi, and by the way I threw our living room couch, the one I caught you two f’g on”. That would be better with an audience (not your kids) LOL Maybe at the grocery store! Repeat as necessary.

    • Oh, I got that couch out of there within 5 days and a new one. He stopped by to see the kids 7 days after D-Day and was all, “You have a new couch?! Where is the old one?” to which I replied, “Oh that last couch burned. After you soon-to-be-ex has sex on a couch in your house with his f#$%ing co-worker in front of you, you somehow figure out a way that my own kids don’t ever have to sit on that contaminated thing again.”

    • Oh, I got that couch out of there within 5 days and a new one. He stopped by to see the kids 7 days after D-Day and was all, “You have a new couch?! Where is the old one?” to which I replied, “Oh that last couch burned. After you soon-to-be-ex has sex on a couch in your house with his f#$%ing co-worker in front of you, you somehow figure out a way that my own kids don’t ever have to sit on that contaminated thing again.”

  • I can’t hear you. Can you come over here and help me clean the wax out of my ears? No closer than six feet though.

  • He has an uncanny ability to show up where I am …. Hmmm, uncanny or does he KNOW where you are?
    There are many cheap phone spyware apps and magnetic GPS trackers for cars that can be attached to a car in about 10 seconds.

    If you still have the same phone I would suggest you either get a new one or back it up and reset it to factory defaults. Do not reinstall the back up if you can – it’s a pain but if you reinstall the backup you may be reinstalling software that is tracking you. If you are continuing to use the same (or guessable passwords) for Apple ID, Google ID – CHANGE IMMEDIATELY. If he knows your Apple ID and password, it’s the same as him having spyware on your phone. I assume the same is true for Androids.

    Look under your car for any GPS trackers. If you can afford it you can also have your car scanned by a private investigator / security service.

    Also if your kids share their location on their phone with your XH, he is going to know where you are when you are with your kid/s. Not sure how you get around this besides asking your kids to turn off location settings or go into airplane mode. Personally, I don’t worry about my kids phones because I don’t have anything to hide and I don’t want to set the precedent that they can turn off their location settings at all (Unfortunately my STBX already has told my daughter to turn off her location settings while at his house.)

    To all Chumps who have not changed any pre -DD passwords to your technology, joint accounts, bank accounts, even grocery rewards cards… PLEASE CHANGE ASAP. If you are still on a mobile family music / app sharing plan with your fuckwit you need to LEAVE the group. This can be tough with the kids so you will need to figure out if you start a new family group with your kids or if you are the one who will have to go solo. Likely this will be determined by which parent is paying the mobile bill.

      • Thanks!

        My apologies to all the CN members who suggested the same earlier in the comments. I commented as soon as I finished reading CL’s response. Check your tech everyone!!

    • Great advice. I have changed everything – gotten a new phone, and I only have kiddo on my phone plan and my phone. So I don’t think this is that case. It’s more that XH knows my habits and me, and it just happens that we hang out in about a 5-mile diameter area for about 90% of our at home time.

      But this advice is stellar and I thank great people on CL and another message board for helping me through that in the first few months of post D-Day. You are so great to reiterate this!

      • Ohhh I LOVE the word stellar, it’s used often with my FOO. I also used “death by a thousand cuts” with STBX when I was still doing the Pick Me dance. Guess cut 1001 was what I needed to get to.

        BTW, I think your reaction was STELLAR! Why do the fuckwits get to have all the fun?

        I know, Kibbles and Cake…

      • I would double check the kids phone for the Find My Phone or Find Friends app. He could have link his phone with kids phone in order to track that way. You can also set up notices whenever a login to any account occurs. Change all security questions answers as well. If it ask for your mothers maiden name or favorite color change the answer to watermelon or kitchen sink. I was with my ex for 22 years so he knows all my answers to typical security questions so I changed them to not-so-typical answers.

  • Though it’s highly unlikely that POP and I would ever run into each other, I had a ‘trial run’ of how I would handle it a few months ago — in a dream.

    In the dream, I had just walked out of the grocery store we used to go to together and stopped to get something out of my purse. He came around the corner and our eyes met. I merely smiled and turned back to what I was doing…and then I walked away.

    I woke up immediately and instead of that familiar longing I’ve felt so many times in the past after dreaming about him, I realized I was at Meh. The next day I felt like yet one more burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

    And yes, it happened on a TUESDAY! 😄🤗😁

  • My 22yr old daughter who has not spoken to my ex in 5 years was recently in a burger king drive thru and noticed a truck beside her that kept slowly inching up as she moved through the line. She paid and got her food and when she went to pull out the truck was blocking her from exiting the drive thru. She looked up and it was her dad, he recognized her car. He rolled down the window and tried to speak with her and she just gestured for him to please move out of her way and she drove off….then called me, absolutely hysterical. Her exact words “mom, when I saw it was him, my heart fell to my ass.”
    He made our lives miserable and was a textbook sociopath. I don’t blame my children or anyone for going no contact with him. We too live in a relatively small town, he and the other woman (now other wife) Moved literally a mile from me. I’ve constantly warned my adult children that because of the close proximity from his new house to ours, that there was always a chance that they were going to run into him and they should be prepared for the fact that he would try to speak to them. I think the part that angers me the most about this, is that WERE the ones made to feel this way…uncomfortable and always looking over our shoulders. He left that interaction feeling nothing and now he’ll go and tell people that his daughter wouldn’t even speak to him after he tried to reach out to her. That he’s this amazing dad, and she can’t see it because she’s brainwashed by her evil mother. He won’t tell any of the stuff he did.
    Boy, this one has my blood boiling today.

    • Your ex can tell all the tales he wants to…..he’s a lying, cheating sociopath. While he may have a few halfwits bamboozled, I am sure most people know there is something really off with him.

    • Your poor daughter. How traumatizing that he blocked her way.

      My XH also lives about a mile from me. Bought a house that also has almost the exact same layout. [insert eye rolling emoji – he even offered to let me tour it once – NOPE].

      My XH might tell people that I’m the bitter, terrible one. I don’t know, I’ll own it somewhat. I am bitter… just not terrible and my current bitterness protects me from caring about him at all. But I’m so proud of your daughter for knowing the truth and living that, even if he tries to talk about you and her poorly. Be mighty and sorry my weekend encounter brought up your blood pressure.

      • He’s an asshole.
        This is just evidence that this bullshit will never be really over.
        My first instinct was to call him and go crazy, but this is her relationship to navigate ( torture!) and that’s exactly what he wants.
        I hope it’s killing him that she just waved him off, but he would have to think of anything but himself for that to happen.
        Ugh!!!

  • I see my ex somewhat regularly because we live close to each other, and he runs in the neighborhood while I run and bike.

    Last time I saw him and he said hi, i nodded in his direction. Ha ha….the other day I saw him riding a bike toward me and he turned onto another street before he got to me. Yay for me!

    On a side note, I was bike riding with my awesome boyfriend on the road and we came upon a rider on the sidewalk coming towards us with an ill fitting helmet. Boyfriend said “look at that idiot”.

    “That idiot” was ex…..I thought I was going to wreck from laughing so hard!

    • So funny… the idiot with the ill fitting helmet. And not your idiot anymore!

  • I had to ignore the turd in the punch bowl for my son’s 13 birthday yesterday. I actually made nice with small talk. It made my skin crawl. Never had a sensation quite like it. I have little doubt rising above is good example for my children. My 15 year old daughter has the score pretty good and just doesn’t want to get caught in the middle and even my autistic son has a pretty good idea. And as bad as she is she doesn’t bring her shmoopies around the kids. Every situation is different though. My chump friend does no contact, wish I could do that, but with a disabled child it is difficult.

  • You know what? Allow yourself to be angry and just ride that out. The more you try to suppress it, the longer it will take to get to actual Meh.

    We live in a strange time where there seems to be a constant message out there that any emotion other than happy is somehow wrong and you need therapy and medication for that. No, nope, and no. We are all complex and emotions are a normal part of life. You are supposed to be angry, furious, livid with those who wrong you this horribly. That is a normal and healthy reaction to a horrific and painful situation.

    Rather than trying to suppress and pretend otherwise, acknowledge that he is a pos who deserves your anger. Ride through those waves of anger, hate, whatever. Let yourself feel what you feel. Give yourself permission to do so. It’s OK, it’s normal. It would be abnormal if you were totally fine right now, all sunshine and butterflies. Don’t tell yourself that you should be fine when you absolutely are not supposed to be. Not yet anyway.

    Since you see this fuckwit constantly, consider the possibility that he is not there by accident or the small town thing. He knows your habits. Consider also, that anger is what keeps you safe from him. Safe from playing friends, safe from getting a soft spot for a lousy pos who cheated in your face on your couch while you were there. Anger, right now, is serving a good purpose for you, so embrace it.

    Meanwhile, since you know he will try to stay in your orbit….coming up with some “don’t give a fck about you” zingers is worth thinking about it. There are really two great ways to hurt a narc – ignore them like they don’t exist (not always possible) or make fun of them and if possible loudly and publicly humiliate them. The latter, if you can find a way to pull it off once or twice, he’ll start avoiding you like the plague. Put your anger to work instead of trying to suppress it.

    • I do have trouble feeling comfortable in my anger. Thanks. I probably need to realize it is good for me at times. But yes, I also need to be able to control it enough that I can meh around XH. I like the “don’t give a fck about you zingers” plan.

  • “And then I rode off.” Just keep at it, sister!

    For a long while after separation, my ex made a point of talking long walks in my neighborhood when he knew I would also be out. His excuse was that his apartment complex didn’t have sidewalks. For a while, it was like a gut punch every time I saw him, but I practiced making a neutral face, giving him a silent head nod, and walking on. Eventually, he found other places to walk. Your ex will too.

  • How ’bout just looking at him with a face as if you’d just seen a puddle of drunk vomit, say calmly “eeuw”, and go your way?

  • Hey – This is me! I am the the one who doesn’t have enough open space to get away. I’m just logging on now to respond, but this is great, CL. I didn’t really think that me ignoring him was denying kibbles… I was just thinking that I didn’t want to say anything. So I did nod, but in my bike helmet and sunglasses, it probably wasn’t very obvious.

    Oh and oddly it was my 7 year old who just rode off without saying “hi” – I would have understood the teenager doing it better, but my other two kids (ages 11 and 13) were already far down the trail. I think my 7 year old is probably just more perceptive and already figuring out that difference between mom-time and dad-time that some divorced kids do, right?

    Thanks for the perspectives everyone.

  • Just say something ambiguous like “Yup” or “Right” or “Yeah” like as if your attention was entirely elsewhere.

    Skank: “Hi Tom”

    Me: “Yup”

    1. They can’t claim you’re ignoring them. You did respond. Even sort of in the affirmative.
    2. But they can’t contort that your response was an actual Hello back.
    3. You clearly dismissed them but it would require multiple sentences for them to assert just how. So they’re left gnawing on a nothing burger. And knowing that you know this is so.
    4. If they do want to fight through your response for a reaction kibble, if you’re still in the vicinity when they finish making their point, just say “Right”.

  • Maybe he has tracking devices but he has been privy to your schedule and interests for years which makes it easy for him to track you down. He is more than happy to place schmoopie in uncomfortable situations by not only constantly running into you but demanding your attention as well.
    Schmoopie is a special kind of skank (screwing someone’s husband with his wife feet away)and your ex knows she’s a skank. She’s a convenience at the moment until someone “better” comes along. In the meantime maybe he thinks he is getting back at you by flaunting her in your face. Whatever his reason you are so lucky to be rid of this disordered individual.

  • small town or not, if he keeps showing up where you are, it is quite possible that he has a tracking device on your car or an app on your cell phone…so 1) trade cars immediately and 2) replace your cell phone. My POS had an affair with a slut whose MO was to f*** the husband and then tell the wife. That woman stalked me relentlessly all over town (also a small town) showing up everywhere I did until I got rid of my cell phone entirely. End of seeing her…I usually left the phone in my car and I think that’s how she got her hands on it. So many encounters could not possibly be chance encounters – take proactive steps. And from now on, when you see them together GASLIGHT him. Say, “I heard you were out with a brunette. Who is the new one?”

  • I know I sound paranoid, but have you checked your phone for tracking aps. Dude could have a ‘sixth sense’, or he’s tracking you and turning up to piss you off, with or without schmoopies knowledge.

  • It sounds like he is trolling your usual haunts looking for kibble, looking to annoy you and to triangulate you and shmoopie. Maybe seek out some new places to hang out for now. Not forever, but just to buy some time as you heal. See if there is a way to do the kid exchanges completely without seeing him. Give yourself a break from this constant stress. He sounds kind of stalkerish.

  • Count me in the completely ignore camp. Narkles the Clown will be out at dinner with son (cooking is something other people do) and arrive in a location where I am. I will beeline for my kid, give him a hug and ask him about his day without saying a word to his father. Then I say enjoy your dinner, see you tomorrow night and walk away. No acknowledgement of Narkles the Clown at all. To get there I had to explain to him in front of other humans once when he took the self pity path that I didn’t properly nice him. This meant me explaining the basics. You cheated on me. I divorced you. That’s what this is. I am no longer your wife. You may choose to say hello to me and I may choose not to respond. I am not here to make you feel good.

    I came to the conclusion shortly after divorce that he is going to bad mouth me for the rest of my life. I don’t control him. If someone wants to believe his lies I don’t control them. there are seven billion other people in this world that are options for my time and attentions. From there on out it got easy to push him aside and act like he’s not there. Sometimes I do say hi back at which point he tries to converse with how are you. I respond fine and never say another thing. No reparte. No asking how he is. No discussing just the kids. No playing happy family. He gave that up when he cheated. No image control for him.

  • I’m pretty late to the game here, but OP if you see this I really recommend having someone diagnose your phone and your computer. The ex showing up all the time at places that otherwise the kids shouldn’t/wouldn’t have knowledge of – like drinks or dinners out – leads me to believe this is more than just the ex pumping them covertly on info about mom’s activities. He may have spyware on your devices, maybe even a tracker on your vehicle. Abusers tend to do shit like that. Just a suggestion. Wipe your devices and have a mechanic check your cars underbody and motor compartment, you check the interior top to bottom.

  • I know many people have said this but can you please get your car checked? It may have a GPS device – even for a small town it is a bit much. I think the reason he keeps showing up is he is uncomfortable and is trying to get rid of his discomfort by trying to engage with you.

  • Open Space…I think you’re being too hard on yourself. I think you did remarkably well. In fact, it should register that he’s got the nerve to just be “HI” as if he’s your friend now, which means your conscience has the ability to recognize an injustice. It prompts you to act accordingly. Your answer was fine, especially given these stressful times in which we are living.

    Also, he probably finds himself in an uncomfortable position himself. There he is as his low-class self, with his low-class schmoopsie, which he’s probably with because he has no other options for now and it’s just easier to hang on to her than to be alone, and BAM, he runs into you. His first thought is likely, “Oh crap! How do I act natural? Uh, I’ll just say hi.” Then, he gets some of your attitude, and he turns to the “self-victimization channel.” Poor him, you’re such a meanie. Pathetic.

    I learned in trauma counselling to tell the perpetrator that you see what he is saying and doing for what it really is in order to disarm them. You always phrase it as “I see that…” and you tell them what you see they are really saying or what you observe them physically doing. You are letting them know that you’ve got them mapped (this technique is called mind mapping). Then you clearly state your expectations.

    So, in your case, you could say, “You’re saying hello to me? I SEE that you think you can still be my friend after you had sex with this woman in our home while I was there to witness it. You are not my friend. Kindly keep to yourself.”

    My ex hates when he gets this from me. “I see that you are choosing to lie to me again. That is unfortunate. I am ending the conversation now.” “I see that you are blaming for choices that you made as a grown man. I will not accept responsibility for your poor choices.”

    It’s brilliant!

    • Love this mind-mapping. I am going to practice this. Thanks for the great response!

    • Wow! Thank you so much for sharing that. I really really needed to hear that. I often see what fuckwit is doing but I tend to shut down and keep it to myself even though I realize he totally gets off on the idea that he is fooling me because I won’t call him out on it. This isn’t really calling out or picking a fight, so much as simply making it clear to a fuckwit that you are on to them. I’m so going to start practicing this and using it. Can’t thank you enough for sharing this.

  • Yes!! Why is this?? And it’s not just with cheaters either. I have had other friends I had to cut loose due to betrayals and they would subsequently stalk me everywhere when I would try my hardest to avoid them. I have never, never, never understood this phenomenon.

    You don’t want me? Then you best get going and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

    But instead, that’s when they suddenly show up everywhere! CL, I know this is a little untangling the skein…but any chance you can break down this behavior pattern for us? It’s a total mindfuck.

    CHEATER: “I hate you, you are the worst! You a re X, Y, and Z!!”

    ME: “then why are you still here?”

    Never did get a real answer.

    • It’s actually very simple. The issue is that you refuse to pick me dance for them. They tell you how horrible you are so you’d try to fix the situation by dancing. You refuse to play the game and they try to lure you back in by stalking you and reminding you of their presence. Plus, they have a strong sense of entitlement to your time and attention.

    • They are sort of trying to use reverse psychology on you, also known as negging. They put you down so you jump up and down to prove them wrong. This is supposed to prompt you into hardcore pick me dancing. A form of “you are soo stupid” and your response is supposed to be “no I’m not, let me show you how smart I am and prove it by doing this and that.” It’s very childish and simplistic, but sadly, it does work on insecure people. They might not win with you, because you are above that bs, but they do win enough to use the tactic.

  • You did fine. There are not any great ways out of these situations. My EX would continue to try to engage with me in public spaces until either I did something he could claim as rude or until he worked himself up into a lather and started yelling.

    There was a small “scene” because he wanted a scene. Nothing you could do would stop that.

  • For the longest time I would run into my ex, or his vehicle, at places that I frequent. Oddly specific places. So oddly specific in place and time that I thought he was stalking me. But I came to realize that he wasn’t, he just had zero ideas of his own. These were MY places, and he had went to them because he could not muster up his own places, cause he is a soulless person who relies on others to figure things out.

    This, of course, resolved itself when he got a new girlfriend and now they go to HER places, which thankfully are not MY places.

    All this to say that you might need to get some new places if you truly want zero interaction. I realize that isn’t always possible (or fair!), but you could try it out for a while and see if it works. Is there a new trail you could try? A different restaurant? Maybe, whatever your first instinct is, stop yourself and ask: is there a new alternative?

    This may, at least, decrease the amount of time you see him. I’m nearing 3 years out and I still get annoyed when I see my ex someplace unexpected. Maybe that will never go away, I don’t know. And I largely consider myself at Meh. But I subscribe to CL’s benign acknowledgment criteria…a half raised wave from afar, with a head nod, does the trick.

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