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‘I Let Him Come Over with Pizza’

Hi Chump Lady,

Your site is so important and has helped me find what I thought was my meh.

D-Day was 4 years ago. Divorce finalized a year ago. I have two 13 year olds. My relationship with my X has been civil for the sake of the kids. No extra contact. Brief texts.

After D-Day he continued in a relationship with his 20-year younger thing and that was his focus. Not his kids. One of my daughters is learning disabled and his involvement with that journey has always been zero. The only custody dispute we had was for the summer months, he didn’t want to have to take them for a consecutive week — just random days so he wouldn’t “waste” his vacation time.

I was doing good. I felt positive and excited for my new life. Fast forward to around January this year and I start getting texts from him with jokes and pictures of animals he’s seen on walks. He starts calling the kids more often and texting them. I correctly assumed his little thing moved on to her next married man. I was certain of this when my daughter was sick, I got a text asking if I needed help with anything.

So now… because we’re in a pandemic and we’re isolating and he’s alone also isolating, for his weekly dinner night, I said he could come here with pizza or something and I would go upstairs or wherever. And as the universe with its really funny sense of humor would have it, it has worked out that since March he is the only adult I have seen in person.

My meh is melting. The storyline has started to run again in my head of the lies and the humiliation. And then I look at him and we have this banter back and forth that I realize how much I missed that. I AM ALL OVER THE PLACE.

For the most part I have been leaving the room when he comes. Last week being the holiday, I made dinner and the four of us all played a card game after the dinner and one could look in the window and think you were looking at a happy family and this is breaking my heart. What a waste.

I know what he’s doing. He’s alone. This is all so convenient for him. His little idiot gone — where is the old fool that was left holding the bag. My question to you is: Is there a balance? Can we ever be friends? Does that really ever exist? He stepped on and grounded his heel in our life and tossed it like a piece of garbage. I don’t want to hold on to those feelings anymore although it is so much easier to be angry than sad. My meh has melted.


Melted Meh

Dear Melted Meh,

Can you ever be friends? Not with that raging case of hopium you’ve got. Quarantine yourself for 14 days, no pizza deliveries, no fuckwits, and wait until the fever passes.

Is there a balance?

You had achieved a balance! You managed your expectations of basic decency and his ability to live up to that — expect nothing, be the sane parent, he’s peripheral. Now you are unbalanced. You’ve let him into the peaceful inner sanctum of your home. The price of admission — a box of pizza.

Dinner at your place, warm banter, fuzzy family confusion one year post-divorce. Has he earned this place in your life? Is the pizza that good?

I’m not telling you to be angry, but acceptance and meh are very hard-won. We hang on to the anger because it’s a warning system. An all-points bulletin when you’re being played. No one wants to live in anger or hypervigilance forever, that’s why we have no contact and boundaries, so your precious sanity is not disturbed. Inviting him in has disturbed the force.

Can we ever be friends?

Sure, it just depends on your standards. Several Nigerian princes would like to be my friend.

This guy treats you and your children like Plan B. You’ll do until something better comes along. That’s what his actions have said — those are his values expressed. Right now you’ve won the pick-me dance by default. The OW has left the field. What did you win? The Wonderfulness of Him. A cheater who can’t be bothered to “waste” a vacation day to see his children. You won a turd.

Does that really ever exist?

I suppose friendship can exist in cases of divorce where there wasn’t abuse. But just because a thing exists doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you. Mono-kini swimsuits exist. It doesn’t mean I’m going to wear one.

He stepped on and grounded his heel in our life and tossed it like a piece of garbage.

Wow. Does that sound like the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

What’s going on here? I know COVID quarantining is lonely. The strains of single parenting are hard in the best of times, and these are not the best of times. (At the moment, the world is quite literally a burning dumpster fire.) So what’s a chump to do? SHORE YOURSELF UP. Surround yourself with the BEST support people. Is your cheating ex-husband your first draft pick? Really?

Okay, he has to be there, but so does the guy who swaps out the AC filters. (And he hasn’t cheated on me.) There is no reason your ex has to be in your home, the only human you talk to. Those are DECISIONS you made. You invited him to play cards!

Don’t think for a moment that he isn’t reveling in the impression management you’ve provided. I’m Not a Bad Father Who Left His Wife for a Much Younger Woman and Can’t Be Bothered to Parent. If I was So Awful do you think your mother would be playing gin rummy with me?

Chumps often do this kind of structured activity organizing as a codependent attempt to get the checked-out parent to check in. It’s just another flavor of hopium. You’re trying to ensure some sort of engagement with your kids, giving him a big assist. He can’t be “wasting” his time, so you’ll just give him some of yours. At your kitchen table. So long as the kids (and you) get some of his precious kibbles.

Fuck. That. Shit.

You’re setting yourself and your kids up for the next fall. He’ll ditch you when something shinier comes along. Which is now his right, as you’re divorced.

Please. Let him function or not (probably not) AWAY from you. Let him order the pizza, pick up the kids, and go eat gooey slices in the park.

You then go hang out (socially distance!) with an actual Support Friend. Have a walk, get your own takeout, and rebuild your NEW life.

Unicorns make terrible pizza toppings. Stop this crap today. ((Hugs))

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Yup, no need to be in any contact, block texts, block all social medias, email only about relevant parenting info. All this is only confusing the kids and dosing them with nuclear family hopium. Don’t torture yourself or them. Be done.

  • Hi, in England kids are allowed to go to each other parents houses. My ex never comes to my house, the kids go to his, periodically, my oldest mentally has given up on him, he doesn’t engage with her, youngest see through him, she realises he thought more of his girlfriends than her.
    I am civil with him, I only talk about the kids with him, I hear him crying on phone and saying he loves me, I put the phone down on him.

    • I have so much respect for you! What a role model you are for Chumps as well as your children. Your ex has made the biggest mistake of his life to let you go. On the other hand getting rid of that loser is your prize and thank God you know it and live it for yourself and your children. You are truly amazing, I wish you were my neighbor. But having you here is Chumpland is the next best. I am grateful to you forever.

  • A flaming narcissist on full display. No contact is the way and the light( use patenting software only talk about kid plans—on days he won’t “waste” on the kids). It’s world narcissistic abuse day. They walk among us.

  • I’m sorry he suddenly has time to be available to be a parent. That’s confusing for the children. Next week he may find something else that’s sparkling like Jane next door? How’s that helping your daughters?? You need to model strong boundaries so that they do not repeat these mistakes (hopefully) in their future lives!! ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT THIS!! They are internalizing their childhood for future adulthood relationships!! This is important stuff to help break the cycle. Please I beg you to consider going back to grey rock. He wants to be involved? He takes them somewhere and does something. No contact please.

  • Yes, do not engage with him. This will only further confuse and hurt you and will do the same to your children. Don’t help him out and make him look like a good guy who wants to spend time with his kids. He is only doing this as a result of the shutdown orders!

  • You had it figured out and then you let that wolf back in the door. He is a wolf, can’t be housebroken, won’t make a good husband. He is not a good parent, cheaters never are. Don’t be fooled, he will cheat again. He will leave for the next source of narcissistic supply. Don’t let him bring his stink and germs into your house.

    It is ok to not reopen the door. You changed your mind. You owe him no explanations. “Sorry that won’t work for me, no you can’t come here”. No thank you, we already have pizza.

    This has got to be a mixed message for your teen age sons. Do you want them to think it is ok to cheat? Letting this cheater back into your house confirms that it is no big deal.

    Take off those rose colored glasses, put down your spackling shovel and stand up for yourself. You deserve better than to be a cheater’s back up plan. So do your boys. Tell that liar “NO”.

  • Get away as fast as you can. I agree that being a single parent during this pandemic has been very difficult. You are literally the only person supporting your children at this crazy time in history. It has been hard on myself and my teenagers, as well, but it is getting better. The lockdowns are starting to lift. Maybe not where you live, but the end is in sight and we are all going to get there.

    One of the best ways to get out of your head is to think of others. Find a way that you and your kids can be a blessing. Even if it just means writing encouraging phrases on the sidewalk in chalk. Everyone is out for a walk, they will appreciate it.

    He has already proven that he thinks you are disposable. He only cares about himself, not you or the kids. You are a convenient excuse to get out of his place because he has pandemic brain like the rest of us. The minute your lockdown starts to lift, he will be gone.

  • As I was reading this post I was getting nauseous. ????
    What does this cheating narcissistic have to do to you and your kids that will open your eyes? Your showing your children that abuse can be accepted. CL suggested what you should be doing. I would take her words seriously. Respect yourself.

  • I am kind of lucky. I only get little wiffs of hopium when I am away from the ex. I don’t do activities with the ex, but I am in frequent contact because of the kids. I can’t stand being around her. She almost always reminds me why I divorced her. When she is civil it just makes me mad because she wasn’t most of our marriage. My motto is don’t feed the vampire. I think being civil in front of the kids is good occassionally, but I woud never engage in a prolonged activity.

    • You don’t have to be in frequent contact. You can just do business via email. No phone, no text. So you are making a choice. It’s not “bitter” or uncivil to be minimal contact.

      • Actually my current situation makes it unavoidable if I want to work with my autistic son. They live 50 miles away and I go after work to for a couple of hours 2 to 3 times a week. I am a trained at provider level behavioral therapy. I have to it from her residence for now. Fortunately the divorce decree says she has to move closer. Then I will be able to cut contact to near zero. Looking forward to that day.

        • Who are these people who have disabled kids and still gaslight and cheat and abandon? My stomach just lurched.

          And what kind of walking abortion would get involved with a cheater who had disabled children??

          I bet sexuality and psych researchers read this blog for thesis fodder. Hello social science lurkers: please do a study on this phenomenon.

          It’s so horrible and the optics are especially awful. CL said it all. It would not be surprising that cheating parents of disabled children are likely to have periodic convulsions of image management as they try to boondoggle betrayed spouses into playing “amicable divorce,” essentially using the betrayed spouse as a blotter and room spray to wipe away the particularly epic stench of what the cheater did.

          • Hell of a Chump…you are one Hell of a Chump!

            As sad as this topic is – you have powerful metaphors in your post.
            Well written!

            • SheChump– alas I can’t take credit for “walking abortion.” That was coined by my dear mum lol.

        • I am sort of in the same boat. Can’t just send my kids out the door when he pulls into the driveway. One of my children is physically disabled, so I have to either put the child in his car, or hand the child into his arms.
          It gives me the heebie-jeebies to get that close to him. Sometimes he will carry her to my car. Then take forever saying goodbye. So his armpit stank gets all in my car and I feel like I need a shower and a deep clean for the car’s interior *shudder*.
          Of course he prolongs the goodbyes and child cries, and it only gets worse. And I look like the bitch for telling him to shut the door so we can go. Once we’re on our way she stops crying.
          But of course, child is crying and he laps up the kibbles so he doesn’t want it to stop.
          I could write a whole book on co-parenting (or not) a special needs child with a fuckwit.
          This guy abused a handicapped five year old to make himself feel superior. Thank fuck I got out of there!
          Unfortunately he has them 50% of the time. So I have no idea what happens there.
          The only way I can handle this is to put it in perspective: at least I know where my children are. Most of the time they spend at his house they ate either in school or asleep (except for the school atm).
          I think about moms of missing children. Moms whose children have died. Moms and kids torn apart because of war, or refugee moms. They have no idea where their kids are or if they’ll ever see them again.
          These things are common throughout the world but we don’t see them in our country. Perspective.

    • Yeah, my ex does me a big favor by being self-absorbed and rude when she’s around. It does a great job of snuffing out the hopium.

  • I walked into a similar alternative universe this weekend—my X, Hannibal Lecher, offered you pay off the last year of my oldest daughter’s car (which I’ve been paying on for four years), add my youngest (who is N.C. with him and told him he was a sociopath) back to his life insurance and then sent her $500 to cover food.

    I asked my oldest if he had had a brain transplant, and to check for scars on his temple next time she sees him. However, I am under no illusions that his current acts of charity make Hannibal a good person. Neither should you be fooled, Melted.

    • You’re the psychology person, but to me this looks like the intermittent reinforcement I used to get from my narcissistic mother. Here’s some money! Now let me tell you how you are an ungrateful child…

  • I get it. I so get it. This covid-19 sheltering in place is hard. It gets lonely. Being a single parent at home with children, one a special needs child, is its own enhanced kind of hard. This kind of thing plays games with your mind.

    I, too, am sheltering alone–not even children. My contacts with others take place primarily email, text messages, phone calls, and the once a week walks I take with a couple of friends, and I see my adult son twice a month for dinner at my place. I had planned to use May to move away from the town I lived in with my ex; I feel like my life is on hold, through no fault of my own.

    I’m a year and a half out from divorce, just over two years out from moving out. I’m no contact, and am almost at “meh”–I think of where I am as “Monday late afternoon.” Yet over the weekend several things made me question my hard “no contact” and “we can never be friends” stance, and I began that old bad “self-talk” of thinking maybe I was the unreasonable one. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk to him about what I was reading (something with a relation to his field–we went through grad school together and this was a lovely part of our relationship then)?

    Then I realized that if I were to open up the possibility of being friends I would be endorsing his view of the divorce, giving him a pass not only for blowing up my life but for the way he treated me after he did that.

    In other words, I came to my senses.

    You will, too, when you realize that your longing is a version of of wanting what you thought you had, and not what you actually had. That happy family you imagined through the window is an image–a mirage. The real happy family is the one you create with your kids–and he doesn’t have a place in it. He’s manipulating you, don’t smoke any more of the hopium he’s trying to get you hooked on.

    • ( Hit send early)

      He’s breached your perimeter and you need to re-establish a hard boundary. To keep him out of your mind keep him out of your house.

      • “I would be endorsing his view of the divorce, giving him a pass not only for blowing up my life but for the way he treated me after he did that.”

        Thank you for this. Spot on.

  • Leonard Lake and Charles Ng were friends.

    They liked torturing and murdering women. It made them happy.

    I had direct experience with Leonard Lake when I worked at the Renaissance Faire in the 70’s here where I live. He worked at one of the booths at the Faire. I hung out at that booth in his presence. He seemed like a really nice guy. This was while he had his secret cinder block torture chamber. I was a very attractive teenager. But for the grace of God there go I.

    When choosing friends, be sure to scan for abuse. If there is abuse, make that the only relevant data.
    Dismiss all “nice” behavior as irrelevant to your decision. It is only there to confuse you and entrap you.

    • Holy shit that would give me nightmares forever if I was ever in that close proximity with a monster!

      Did you ever come across Charles Ng?

    • Shudder. I think we all comfort ourselves that devils wear horns and we’d all know them on sight but the most terrifying are the ones that fly under the radar and don’t set off alarms.

      I met the actor Robert Blake after he got off Scott free for murdering his wife. Even if no one knew about the murder, he would still have set off alarms. He was like a manically friendly, sweaty, grinning death’s head. “Like me to bolster up my damaged image!” Yes, we all smiled back in that paralyzed, terrified way but only because he could have been armed.

      I was also followed in a super market by John Wayne Bobbitt. He tried to force me to look at photos of half-clad muscle men in a men’s fitness magazine by jamming the open magazine under my face. I guess in his mind he believed if he could get any woman to look this meant all women “want it” and are “asking for it.” I was too stunned to call for security.

      Some are better at it than others but the guiltiest people are always laying “acquiescence” traps.

    • “When choosing friends, be sure to scan for abuse. If there is abuse, make that the only relevant data.
      Dismiss all “nice” behavior as irrelevant to your decision. It is only there to confuse you and entrap you.”

      This is great. Thanks Velvet.

  • (music by Dean Martin, lyrics by Melted Meh)

    When you treat us like pawns with a large Papa John’s
    That’s atrocious
    When you blow up our world for some gold-digging girl
    That’s atrocious
    You will say: “I’m a doting dad, really not so bad”
    And expect an ovation
    You’ll insist: “I’ll accommodate,” as you contemplate
    Your next source of fellation

    When you want things wiped clean cuz of Covid-19
    That’s atrocious
    If you think “why the row?” it’s because we both know
    You’re a turd
    Please do not misconstrue, I will not allow you to encroach us
    ‘Scusami, but you see, we are not your Plan B
    That’s atrocious

  • You’re relapsing. It happens. Start by recognizing that you are relapsing and regroup. You know that means reasserting your boundaries. Don’t worry what he things because you know he’s going to play all “confused and wounded” when you let him know that he’s no longer coming to hang at the house. He’ll be offended about why you’re cutting him off, so prepare for the reaction.

    You don’t owe him an explanation. But, if it helps shut him down, consider saying, “I have recently reminded myself of your years of lying and cheating and betrayal and realized that you don’t bring any peace to my life. You can pick up the kids on such a day/time for dinner at your place and return them at this time. Goodbye.” Then, do not reply to any response he sends you.

    Many of us here are single parents finding ourselves physically alone during this difficult time. Just like when he first left you, you need to start “gaining a life” again, COVID-style. Here are some of the things, I have been doing in the hopes that it sparks some ideas for you. Mind you, I’m trying to hold down my full-time job at home while ensuring that two young kids are getting their distance learning school work done, which is very busy and getting stressful (can’t wait for school to be done).

    1) Start calling family members and getting caught up. Arrange Zoom talks, if possible. Have a drink, kick back and get chatting. I’ve now started getting in touch with overseas family and it’s been amazing. Consider a possible social distance visit in the yard or going for a walk.

    2) Start arranging group Zoom visits with friends, colleagues, neighbours. I now have three groups that we get together every other week for drinks. It’s hilarious.

    3) Do some home organizing. It’s the time of the year for spring cleaning anyways. I’ve cleaned out my closets, drawers, starting washing the windows of my house, done my gardening. Hope to tackle the garage this weekend.

    4) Start some home reno. I’m making plans to paint my livingroom (part of the gradual transformation of all the rooms of the marital home that I kept. Almost half-way there in 2.5 years).

    5) Exercise. I go for more hikes and runs. Will get in the car and drive to different locations outside the city to “get away” into nature – sometimes with the kids or on my own when the kids are with their dad. Try to get my 10 000 steps in. I’ve got a couple of apps for planking, stretching, arm weights. I do 10 minutes stints throughout the day.

    6) Create a music collection. I’ve created a 40–ish song playlist that follows my journey from being chumped to finding my way in living my own life. I play the music and dance/sing around the house like a teenage girl.

    7) Read some novels. I reread the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Now I’m moving on to complete smut romance because those are free downloads (not sure I will tolerate too many of those but they can be fun).

    8) Stream some tv. My complete indulgence is that I started watching the entire Marvel-universe films from the beginning. Decided I will watch them in chronological order of story timeline rather than the order the movies came out. I’m completely geeking out – those are 24 films. I’m on the 3rd.

    9) I’m considering doing some cheap on-line “courses”. Thinking of doing the “SmartServe” certification just for fun, and looking at some on-line “mixology” or “wine-tasting” courses. Figure that I might as well have some fun mixing good drinks during my Zoom talks and preparing to become the “hostess with the mostest” when this COVID thing passes.

    10) Started a regular skin-care regime. Trying some home-made facial masks, homemade body scrubs. Taking more milk baths. Homemade bath bombs. Hair care. Wow! Beer and mayonnaise really do make hair so soft. My kitchen has become a little labratory. My potted herbs are doing so well and being used in these “products.”

    Melted Meh – Relapse happens. You came here and that is a good thing. Now if you tune in to any of this today, I hope that you post your thought-process. I hope that we are able to support you in creating a game-plan. Big hugs.

  • This is so me & I need more articles like this. I have a hard time making decisions for the kids. When it came to me, I filled divorce the day I found out. But I would totally play cards as a family acting like it is good for the kids. It’s not. The HVAC guy. The Nigerian prince. Dying!!! Such great points.

    • Also: a mindfuck for the kids. See my post below on this. Your kids deserve to “move on” and stop holding out hope that mom and dad will get back together, only to have their heart broken again. Playing family only stokes this hope.

    • Hi Kate,
      In my heart of hearts, I think that I will always wish for having a decent “friendship” with my ex. That’s because that’s how I want to relate to all people. I don’t know that I will ever fully comprehend how I could be so thoroughly discarded and treated so disrespectfully by my ex. Sure, he likes to play nice to my face, but he doesn’t know all that I know about his lies as I never confronted him with the evidence of the truth of what he’d done.

      Seeing that fake face of his while I know the lies he tells is its own trauma on repeat, so I need to distance myself as much as possible for my own well-being.

      Divorce is hard in the best of circumstances. I know divorced people who don’t particularly like their ex, but eventually come to a place of acceptance. They can be decent. Call each other when something is needed. Want good things for one another.

      I don’t think that can ever really happen with my ex. It will be an invitation for more manipulation. For example, I’ve been really flexible in watching the kids when he has to work this past year since he got promoted. I want him to do well so that my kids do well. Mostly he just has days that he can’t pick them up on time for school, so I make myself available as my job provides more flexibility. Oddly, though he couldn’t keep them for one of his nights (which happened to be the night of his birthday). I agreed to take them as he had to leave at 6 a.m. I recently learned that he went to Vegas with schmoopsie that night for a long weekend. Just days before he emailed me about how he was financially strapped and struggling to give me money on a monthly basis to cover extraneous expenses.

      So the lying continues. Extracting value from me continues. I didn’t let this one go and let him know that I learned the truth. He made no apology.

      Trust that they suck. That’s hard to maintain when you are someone tries to believe in the potential of others. Hard lessons learned that, although it good to be such a person, you absolutely must learn when it is worthy to bestow that trust on another person and how to protect yourself from the ones that would abuse it.

  • You have made a mistake. Walk it back. Walk it back for your own sanity and FOR YOUR KIDS. If he wants to see them, then HE makes the calls. HE takes them out. HE entertains them ELSEWHERE.

    You are lonely and it is easy to fall into gooey sentimentality in these moments. He has proven he isn’t your friend, decent parent or even a halfway decent person. He is NONE of those things and do not sully yourself by associating with him further. All you are doing is confusing your kids and giving everyone the message that your boundaries are porous.

    You’re human. You let him in despite knowing better. You can also put an end to it BEFORE he dumps you and the kids again. Which he will do, so reinstall the hungry alligators in the moat and fire up the cauldron of pitch over the gate!

  • CL points out a key piece of codependency here – the enabling. We see hurting children and want to help, so much that we are willing to help the other parent access the children. Our motives are kind, but our actions end up being harmful, because we end up actively helping the other parent cause more harm.

    This is one of those once-seen-can’t-unsee things. It takes time to be able to fully grasp how making it easy for the other parent to shine creates a false illusion for the children that stand in the shine, which is sure to crumble when the children reach out or otherwise need support, setting them up for a much bigger fall than the disappointment of being deprioritized in the first place would have been.

    We do people no favors by giving too much, being too understanding, and making things easier for them. Shedding codependency means getting good at walking with people instead of for them, sitting with pain instead of fixing it, and hearing the whining of the entitled without reacting or responding.

  • My house could be on fire and I wouldn’t let Mr. Sparkles cross the threshold if he was the last man standing with a bucket of water… why?… because I can’t trust that there is water in the bucket… I can only trust that he sucks.

    If he is “isolating” in quarantine, there is no reason the 13yo kiddos can’t go to his place for visitation meals. When they come back, make sure they wash their hands and put their clothes in the wash. That idea doesn’t work for you… he can eat pizza at his place and Zoom call or Facetime with the kiddos while they’re eating pizza safely at home with you.

    Take back your peace of mind. Don’t let a pandemic be the reason you let this treacherous virus back in to your life/home/mind/heart. We’ll get a vaccine for Covid-19 someday… he will be fuckwit forever.

  • I think these visits with ex-H, cheating husband, lazy, absent father, who got dumped and is lonely and probably too lazy to cook, etc., defeat two purposes: the sanitary aims of a quarantine (no contact with people that come and go and are not part of the household) and the Meh aims.

    Regarding the Meh aims I recommend strongly Chump Lady’s chapter on remorse: you will understand the differences between real remorse and genuine imitation naugahyde remorse.
    Take care!

  • Oh man, I needed this! I am 6 months post D-day today, and he lives with the OW. I am such a chump, didn’t see it coming. I need this kind of energy!! I love it! I don’t feel solid in my decision to not go back and waiver at times. My DD’s are 18 and 16 and they have cut off all ties with him….for some reason this makes me feel guilty (what??) I need the kick in the pants you deliver!! love!

  • Hi Melted Meh–

    Would you have let him back in your home if we were not in the midst of a global pandemic? Probably not. So let’s think about that.

    Schmoopie left him somewhere around the new year, after which he started reaching out to you. This is called hoovering. It’s common for cheaters. After dumping their families in order to take after their Twu Wub, the Schmoopie leaves them and where do they turn? Oh yeah, back to their Chumpy ex-spouses. Hey, they’re Chumps. They’ll forgive anyone. It just takes a bit of work, telling them what they want to hear.

    Then the pandemic comes and everyone has to stay home. You feel sorry for your X so you let him come over for his dinner night (he gets the kids one night a week?). Think back a bit. Who came up with that idea? Did he let you know how lonely he was? My guess is that he turned up the Pity Channel in order to play on your good nature.

    He continues to hoover. Sure, you may be upstairs or someplace else, but sometimes you engage in banter. Score! He can hoover you even more!

    This isn’t good for you, Melted Meh. It’s also not good for the children. They need to stick to whatever custody schedule you have set up.

    Melted Meh, your healing starts with the divorce decree. It’s when you can step back from the relationship and start to remake your own life. This is a time when you should be working on YOU. IF you’re not in therapy, this is a good time to get into therapy. You want to learn to establish and maintain boundaries without feeling guilty about it. You learn it’s okay to say no. You learn that you don’t have to please everyone.

    When you let your X back in your house, you completely destroy your boundaries. You feel guilty about saying no. You start wanting to please people. No wonder you’re all over the place!

    And your kids are all over the place, too. Right now, you are creating the illusion that you’re all a happy family again and you’re not. As others have said, you’re sending the message that cheating carries no real consequences. You’re also setting up potential resentment for the next time your X ghosts the kids when he finds a new schmoopie. He fooled you once, so shame on him. Fooled you twice? Well, you let him back in.

    Now that things are starting to open up, reassert your boundaries. No pizza party at mom’s house. He can take the kids on his night. That will keep him from being lonely and give the kids some time with their father. And it will give you time to work on finding much-needed outlets that don’t include your X.

    Good luck!

  • While leaving for a 20 something younger woman and then conveniently forgetting he had kids would piss me off…..him getting dumped and then weaseling his way back into family life because he is lonely would piss me off even more. He’s an effin user. Has nothing better going on so what? He decides to become father of the year? Some other little skank will come along (don’t kid yourself, he is actively looking it is just kinda hard right now) and they will ride off into the sunset, where once again he will forget he had kids. I don’t mean to be harsh but your kids are older and will miss their father when he dumps them again, you should be preparing them for the discard not having pizza parties and playing family with this defect.

  • When we were young, we were taught socialization skills that included saying “I’m sorry,” and “Will you please play with me.” This is how parents teach their kids to get along with others, how teachers control their classrooms, and playgrounds full of unruly children. Social rules to require people to “be nice.” I believe chumps internalize these rules of behavior, and accept them, but the “others” of this world look at these rules in a different manner. They learn to use them to their advantage, to get what they want. They use charm and manners to create a false persona who can infiltrate social situations and manipulate these situations to their advantage. Chumps look at life through the window of “this is what should be,” and the others look at life through the window of “what can I gain by pretending this is real?”

    This last weekend I interacted with my ex about an issue for our youngest son. He had offered to assist in a problem our son is currently trying to work out, but so far the assistance has not arrived. I was checking to see if he actually was going to assist, so we could plan accordingly. Some times he does, sometimes he changes his mind. Anyway, out of the blue he stared talking about having had a lot of time to think during the quarantine time, and he just wanted to apologize to me for his behavior over all the years of our marriage. I was a bit stunned. I never expected to hear this. When we were married I would get the false apology designed to end the argument du jour. I actually said, “thank you for saying that.” Later I figured out that he wasn’t sorry for how he treated me, but for how his actions had eventually caught up with him.

    Don’t let your desire to live the dream life you see looking through the living room window influence your actions of actually living your life. You are the only one who believes in that dream. It is a fantasy you created about living in a world where people are nice. Some people may actually be nice, but there are many, many others who exist in this world who will NEVER be nice. Don’t mistake manners for morals. Don’t mistake a gesture for a commitment. Be strong, and remember what happened when you gave him a chance in the past. You can never go back to your dream of what could be. You must live in the reality of what your life is.

    • “They learn to use them to their advantage, to get what they want. They use charm and manners to create a false persona who can infiltrate social situations and manipulate these situations to their advantage.”

      So true! X is a master manipulator and so clever socially. People love talking to him at a cocktail party – his forte is shallow conversation. I understand why he didn’t lose friends and why his reputation is still fairly intact. I can see how he love-bombed his young fiancé and she fell for it – I did too back in the day. It’s hard to watch now that I know the truth about him. Once you “know” it, seems so obvious! But good lord they are really good at what they do.

  • Today’s post is very timely for me and has hit me between the eyes! I’m still reeling! In a nutshell, I am 6.5 years out from D day, 2.5 years divorced, he was a cheater; I was a chump for the whole 29 year marriage. My 2 very loving and supportive adult boys have a relationship with their Dad and I can see them struggling with managing their time with the 2 of us! It is interesting because I know and, I often say to them, that I could cope with being in his company but he absolutely refuses to have anything to do with me and he’s told them that in no uncertain terms. I know it’s because he feels that I got way more than I should have in the final settlement and he hates me for it!! Recently in this UK lockdown, they’re in touch with him and can now see him ‘more than they have ever spoken or seen him ever before’. (He worked away from home a lot). If I’m honest with myself, I’m jealous/resentful of this time they spend with him! I want them to tell him to go to hell but I know he’s their Dad and in spite of everything (and they know everything!) they want a relationship with him! As an example, I got cross with the kids the other day as one of them told me not to call at his house as planned because his Dad would be there! I am raging that they would be put me off in favour of him! My response was to ask ‘Why can’t we be adult enough to be in each other’s presence and why does he put them in such a defensive position if it looks possible that we might be in the same place together?’ Their response is always that it’ll be too awkward and they don’t want to be in that position. Reading CL today, I can see clearly for the first time and it pains me to admit it, I actually want to see him! I am pushing the kids to stop being anxious about us being in the same space to enable me see him!!! It’s not the same as you, Melted Meh and others with younger children, but it’s smoking on the hopium pipe nonetheless!! It’s fair to say that in spite of everything, I am still waiting for him to come back because he always did and I always knew he would! I am admitting this to you CN and to myself, for the first time, I am using my adult kids to manipulate a meeting with the cheating, horrible man who deceived me and his children for many, many years and FOR WHAT? More pain, more emotional abuse etc!! He and I can’t be friends! We should be strangers now and I should not be hoping for a different type of relationship with him because he was never capable of any real relationship with me in the past! Blimey!! I guess I’m still some way from meh but maybe today I took a big step closer!! (Sorry this is long and maybe in the wrong place, but I needed to get it out!)

    • This is a wonderful insight. Now just vow not to put your kids in the middle. If you put your focus on your own life (and not on the adult kids and your X) someday you won’t want to be in his presence.

      You can do this.

    • SuzyTay – I love reading about your reflection and your new found wisdom. The potential for personal growth, even as we walk through hell, is astounding. Be proud of yourself for being so aware and keep learning and growing! ((Hugs))

    • Manipulating situations to see your ex is very insightful on your part. Awfully had to admit to ourselves but important.
      You’re not alone but you’ve done Chump Nation a favor by putting that into words.
      My adult son told me recently that he thinks part of me wants to see my ex. Hard to admit that he is probably right. It is hard to have someone in my life for over 30 years and then have them – poof – disappear!
      Thank you for being brave enough to point this out to all of us.

      • .suzyt I haven’t been able to admit I had missed him. Who would miss someone like this? But I did. Do. I have been trying to find a way in my thoughts that maybe it wasn’t all his fault and things happen and what if… the hopium is a very powerful drug. It’s really hard to admit. Thank you Nation.

        • MM,
          You had a little relapse. It’s okay. Now get back on that NC horse and ride off into the sunset. And if you ever start to relapse again, just remind yourself that he views spending time with your precious children as a WASTE of his vacation time. That alone should solve the hopium problem.

    • After this self-reflection I think you will be able to reach “meh”. Let your sons navigate their relationship with dear ole dad. If they also suffered during their formative years due to Dad being a selfish cheating twit, maybe one day they will have their own epiphany and see their father for what/who he is, rather than what they wish.

    • This is part of the grieving process Suzi. I believe my adult daughter said it best after the Limited’s new life took hold and there was limited contact. She said, “He doesn’t even know me or anything about my life.” Once he moved closer and had more contact there was an assumption I’d break no contact for family events. Didn’t happen.

      What I did find was that my relationship centered around day to day conversation as well as what was going on in their lives. They share things with me because I’m sure and steady. On the flip side there’s constant drama as the disordered are selfish and care little about relationships. The more you take care of your needs while they are with him the stronger you will become.

    • Suzi Tay. If you don’t stop these games with your sons you are going to piss them off and drive them away from you. You said your ex wants absolutely nothing to do with you because he feels you got too much in the settlement. First of all I am glad you got what you got. 29 years you deserved it. But you said he has made it clear to them he doesn’t want to be around you. Then you played this game with your son calling over there and put him on the spot and in the middle. Then you gripped “he choose his father over you” and you argue with your son like this wasn’t a big deal. Lady, you are on the way to ruining your relationships with your boys if you keep pulling this stupid crap. Quit using them. You ex made it crystal clear that he wants nothing to do with you. Good! You have a good settlement so go on with your life. He isn’t interested and he doesn’t want to see your face. You keep this up and you will see less and less of your sons until you drive them off. It will be your fault. Stop it.

    • SuziTay, step away from the children! Ask me how I know …! You have made a great discovery, now make No Contact your friend and not a weapon for ex to use against you to sour your relationship with your sons. Show your sons that they can keep on pick me daddy dancing but you’re not in that game any more.

      Best thing I ever did was go No Contact with ex, and keep out of his relationship with our 5 kids. 3 years down the track, all but one have no or very little contact with him. He showed them who he was and destroyed those relationships with no help from me. It was difficult especially at first as it is counterintuitive for chumps to not try and fix things. I had to handle feelings of jealousy and frustration while they were still dancing to his manipulative tune. I had to hold my tongue when they voiced their hurt or annoyance at him. I refused to spackle over his indifference, cruelty and selfishness any more, and my only answer was he is showing you who he is – it is up to you what you do with that information. next topic please.

      I was particularly hard hit by my daughter trying to play both sides to have us both at her graduation. That was hard. However, she eventually acted on the knowledge of what a heel he was and reduced contact significantly. I didn’t complain to her but I did clearly state that in future I would expect to be told the exact arrangements and my decision to attend if he was to be there would be on a case by case basis. So time will tell on that one.

      And I almost got caught more recently by the golden boy child who still has contact with his dad, who tried to find out information about my youngest son’s school progress (youngest son chose to stop custody visits and live 100% with me with no contact with his dad.) Luckily I cottoned to his game and changed the subject. I would not have caught on to that ruse 2 years ago.

      So, step away from the 3 of them. The family dynamic they witnessed for 29 years doesn’t disappear in an instant, but if you move on and gain yourself another life that doesn’t rely on them they will reassess things. And if they don’t, well you will have your own life and they will have theirs.

  • As I have said before in our various forums, if Jackass showed up at my door with a winning lotto ticket, I would tell him to get off my lawn.

    1. “After D-Day he continued in a relationship with his 20-year younger thing and that was his focus. Not his kids.” Your X ditched the kids for his AP. What’s attractive about that?

    2. “One of my daughters is learning disabled and his involvement with that journey has always been zero.” Wouldn’t this have been a dealbreaker BEFORE D-Day? Why would you stay married to a man who didn’t help with a special needs child? That’s a betrayal even worse than infidelity.

    3. “…he didn’t want to have to take them for a consecutive week — just random days so he wouldn’t “waste” his vacation time.” He couldn’t spare a week of vacation for his kids. They’re a “waste” of his vacation time. See above. My contempt for such a man would be endless.

    4. “I know what he’s doing. He’s alone. This is all so convenient for him. His little idiot gone — where is the old fool that was left holding the bag. ” You think you see this, but your next question is about a BALANCE with this selfish entitled man. You “know.” But there’s a part of you trying on the idea that you won the pick-me dance by default. And you could go back and you could have your old life back.

    But it was all illusion anyway. You write, “One could look in the window and think you were looking at a happy family.” But that would be an ILLUSION. Your “happy family” included a man who was cheating when you had 2 9-year old kids at home. A man you soon learned is disinterested in the kids and sees them as a waste of his vacation time. A man with no remorse who hoovers back to you when his Schmoopie moves on. You’re still Plan B! Is that OK with you? He can’t manage a weekly dinner night to give you a break? No reason why the kids can’t go to his place. He’s trotting any virus he’s carrying over to yours. He saw an opportunity. You opened the door.

    Worth thinking that it took you 3 years to divorce this guy. Letting him back into the house might waste 4 more years. Instead, work on gaining a life. As CL says, why are you not in contact with other adults? I’m in my 60s but I do Zoom lunches, Zoom meetings with colleagues. I walk with my trainer in the big outdoors. I talk to my BFF every day. I’m working on my house. Put your own life at the forefront. If you’re missing “banter,” figure out how you want to get back into the dating game once we’re past this COVID-19 thing.

  • MM, you opened that door. The jokes and pictures were the hook. If someone looked in the window they’d see the illusion of a happy family. That works for him, not so much for you.

    It threw you off balance and questioning yourself.
    It quickly changed to sitting together and waiting on a man who traded his life for a thing. The man who doesn’t support you in raising a child with NEEDS.

    Stop it right now. He’s a user and an abuser who has to face the consequences of his actions.

    He had that and it didn’t work out. No shit DICK Tracy. Managing his image is all important. See I’m a good guy, my X makes me dinner.

    His investment was shallow. His reflection doesn’t look so hot in the forest stream while he’s alone in nature taking pictures. What he’s missing he gave up for what he deemed important a younger model.

    Send him a simple text to let him know he’s to pick up the kids from now on so he has alone time with them.

  • He’s not just playing you; he’s playing your kids.

    What happens when the quarantine is lifted and he disappears like a fart in the wind? How will kids feel about being discarded a second time?

    • That’s the worst thing, he’s confusing the children and once the things return to normal, he’ll disappear.

      I’ve been single for a long time. It’d be very nice to have somebody to share whatever with when he comes over with pizza. I totally understand it. But I’d rather continue to stay single (and I’m a very sensitive extrovert) than fall for a pleasant fantasy. Especially the one we know how it’s going to end.

      Please don’t do this to yourself and your children. If you feel lonely, go on chat sites,a few weird people but a lot of pleasant and fun, too.

    • That’s one big reason to not give them any more chances. It messes with the kids’ heads 🙁

    • Agreed. I posted on this below. It sets them up for yet another heartbreak. They also deserve to “move on” and stop dreaming that their parents may one day get back together again. Fun happy family pizza dinners send a very confusing message.

  • Holy Moly this was a great warning! She is just a little behind me time-wise. I have been feeling quite over it all. I had recently been thinking I could handle basic face to face things here and there when exchanging our son as I have not even seen his FACE in a couple of years other than in a photo. (drop offs are distant, son carries his own stuff from car).

    I do recall though when cheater came to move his remaining stuff after divorce that when we started talking it was like nothing ever happened, so comfortable and familiar. I had a mini relapse then. NO WAY do I need that again. Thanks for the warning!

    OP, I would think you can just let these visits fade away, no need to say anything in particular unless you feel the need.

  • I think there’s something about this pandemic and quarantining that has really raised the level of something with the fuckwits.
    My story: I did not marry this guy, but abruptly cut off all contact in 2006 (no need to give reasons, I’m a chump).
    For the next 5 years I dealt with his electronic stalking — nothing illegal, but so frigging annoying. I did not respond to him ever. He’s a social worker (so conversant in hopium talk) and put up a website where I was a thinly disguised example. He gave my email addy but his name to all his universities (so they could beg Dr. Z for money but to my email address). He also gave my email address and phone number to any and all that obvious scam sites. He published a newsletter saying how some parents allowed their children to do drugs (guess who?). He had his 90 yo mother write me a letter begging me to talk with him. I refused to talk about him with any mutual friends.
    By 2012, it had stopped completely.

    In the past month, I’ve gotten begging appeals for money from his 4 colleges to my email address again. They all use Dr. Z in the Salutation. Obviously he has taken the time to re-add my email address to his online profile. Junk mail has begun again with DrZ in the subject line.

  • I think many of us experience moments of nostalgia when the EX unexpectedly behaves like a normal person, and the social distancing of the last few months had made many people more vulnerable because there is so little “normal” to be had. But, please do not be fooled.

    Writing Chumplady shows that you know you are backsliding, so it is time to place some new boundaries, and the first one should probably be no more family nights. Ideally, he can take the kids to his own place or out for a picnic, but if that is not possible, then you should leave the house. Go for a walk. If you have a car, take it to a scenic spot and read in the car if it is raining. If you have to stay in the same home for the visit, tell your EX that you’ve scheduled a Zoom conference upstairs with your friend/sibling/colleague/book group and are not available.

    One way or another, take the time allowed you (paltry as it is) for yourself.

    He is lonely and bored and is going after the low-hanging fruit–the kids he usually neglects and the EX.

    I have met people who are friends with their EX, but off the top of my head I cannot think of any in cases where one partner was toxic and cheating. I am sure it has happened–but that is not the goal. The goal is for you to work on crafting your life without the EX, and if you have a casually pleasant relationship in 10 or 20 years that allows you to chat for 5 minutes without stress at a family social gathering, that would be great, but since interactions are making you feel vulnerable and nostalgic, then recognize those feelings as warning flags.

    • Fast food restaurants are open for drive-through. No need to let the wolf into your house and further confuse the kids. He must live some place, right? Or he can pick up the kids, then the pizza and go to the park.

  • It is hard to cope with feelings of loneliness. I appreciate all the suggestions above about how to get a life during the pandemic and combat increasing loneliness. Loneliness can make it difficult to hold our boundaries.

    My XH managed to get himself included in family Thanksgiving a few years ago, a few years after the divorce, and then kept assuming he had the right to be part of it and all family get-togethers. He’d even take pictures and post them to FaceBook. Mind you, he left and moved thousands of miles away even before the divorce, and has little contact with our now adult children. I had to face all the feelings described above- my kids’ hopium and my own inner hopium whenever we were all together playing happy families. I felt so anguished again and I didn’t like this feeling. I then reread my journals and reminded myself of all the bad stuff and decided to avoid any but milestone family gatherings (graduations, weddings). This past year he wanted to bring his latest girlfriend to Thanksgiving and I just told the kids No. I refuse to voluntarily spend time with someone who hurt me over and over again. They told him he could come for dessert after I left.

    My XH has always told people, even APs, that I am his best friend. That term is meaningless! He was never my friend. He just used me. He always comes back (email only) between girlfriends, looking for kibbles. We will never be friends again. We can all do better than this!!! I am my own best friend now.

    • With friends like that, who needs medieval execution?

      Glad you got the shark out of your waters! It’s more inviting to fellow dolphins that way.

      • It’s always going to be hard to give up the dream. So we have to dream a new dream. We just have to remember that the old dream became a nightmare!

        • I always think it helps to write out aspirations in exhaustive detail as if making a pact with the devil in Bedazzled– leave nothing out (like all the nightmare things you DON’T want) lest you end up with the prank version!

  • This reminds me of when STBXH had dumped me for ho ho, five years ago, and we were separated for seven months (he filed but never went through with the divorce). On my 40th birthday it was his day to pick up DD 6 yo at he time, from my place. I had made birthday cake so we could celebrate a little in the morning with DD. I invited him to eat cake. Yes I did. What a chump. Worst birthday ever.

    I moved out with DD in February and have not invited him in when he comes over to bring something to DD or whatever.

    • DD is 100% of the time with me now. I’m glad he can’t force her to spend time with him anymore. It was such a struggle last time.

      • A friend of mine used to say “Blood may be thicker than water but so is used motor oil.”

        I think it’s great that your daughter won’t grow up thinking people like your ex “smell like home.”

  • The answer is simply: NO. This is not some marriage that fizzled out or ended amicably (or even contentiously because personalities clashed)…this marriage ended because of unilateral lying, cheating, abandonment, and abuse. You cannot be friends after that…or, maybe I should say that you SHOULD NOT be friends after that.

    This guy’s a dirtbag child abandoner who left you to do the lionshare of the parenting so he could fuck around. Why would you ever want to be friends? Because…you miss the fake family you had (it was fake because he was never invested)? Because you want that for your kids, perhaps?

    Consider this–aside from modeling shitty boundaries to your kids, by allowing him access to your personal world and the home you raise your children in, you are opening the door for them to maintain a glimmer of hope that mom and dad will get back together. For this is, largely, what all kids want. And when they have to realize, a SECOND TIME, that this will not happen, it can crush their souls. I’ve learned that even the most stalwart of children hold out this hope, even in the situations where the parents are so clearly apart. Maintaining a close friendship with your ex muddies these waters and allows that hope to grow in your kids. It’s fucking unfair. Every message being sent to them at this stage should confirm that mom and dad are not getting back together, so that they may be able to themselves “move on.” It matters.

    So, if you think you’re doing them favors by forging this friendship, think again. Honestly, you’re setting them up for more heartache.

  • Dear Meh, what are you Plan B? Press for Option 2? Please don’t do this to yourself and your kids! This class A jackass had the nerve to say he “didn’t want to waste his vacation” regarding his kids!! Really! You sat across from him and broke bread and played games with him? When someone else comes along and he isn’t coming over because he has better things to do your kids will be heartbroken. You are letting him bounce in and out because trust me. There will an out. It is just a matter of time. Set up a regular visitation and those are his times. Put a stop to this. Don’t do this to yourself and your kids. Then you want to blame him when it will be your fault for letting it happen.

  • “You. Won. A. Turd”

    We all did, don’t beat yourself up for the slip up. Once they show you who they are, Believe Them! Its much easier when you don’t have to do “talking parents”. My bad was staying UNTIL the kids were all long gone, grown up. The adult kids now get to see what a real TURD he is, and protect the grandkids from his nonsense. When I sent him to the curb after 31 yrs, he knew I meant business.

    I’m sorry everytime I have to see him (only at grand babies birthdays etc.). I never give him the time of day and the last party he was at, desperate for cake, he could only tell me that “I owed him $250” for a past tax bill he didnt pay. Fuck. That. Shit. too! Such losers, Life is about Choices. YOU are an awesome mom who shows a great example to the kids. HIM ….. you owe him nothing. CL covered it all!

    Solicitors NOT Welcome

  • Well, I have full faith (I would bet 100 bucks) that the OP wouldn’t invite ex over if it wasn’t corona time. This self isolation business plays tricks on your mind. It makes you scared anxious horny lonely and overwhelmed. So please don’t backtrack on Meh and don’t let coronavirus and hopium take you down.

  • I’m currently enjoying the “full reveal” stage with my STBX. He doesn’t pretend to care one shit about me. Yesterday he compared himself to Obama and me to Trump “I hope you can survive without me like Obama hoped Trump would lead America to be a better nation”.

    Unicorns are delusional and are not tasty pizza toppings!!!!!

  • Hit the eject button. Disinfect.
    You’re doing awesome. He’s a fucktard. March on!

    Stay safe ❤️

  • I’m in a high state of anxiety these days, COVID, riots, the horrible video that I can’t get out of my head, plus dealing with a high conflict divorce from someone who used to be my rock and best friend. I almost send a message to him today, asking him to please join me in a truce, it’s been horrible for me to be a single mom through all this, but I then remember that I would just be asking the Devil to put out a fire, admitting that he was “winning”, whatever winning means for his distorted mind. We’re losing tons of money in this madness, I am scared to death for everything that is going on and my family could care less. I just took something for my anxiety and cooked some homemade fried chicken for my kids (the younger one didn’t eat and said she just wanted to sleep, which broke my heart because I can see she is sad). I feel so cursed for getting involved with a narcissist that sometimes I’m not sure I can go on. One thing for sure, he is not my friend, he will never be my friend or a decent person. I’ve fallen for the same things you did before only to get crushed even more and humiliated. I know it’s a cliche by now but get your own football and stop playing with Lucy.

  • Look, you were married to this person, you found him attractive, you had history, he was good company, you loved him….and maybe some of that stuff still applies.
    But it ended. Things happened that cannot unhappen. Life has moved on.
    There is a good reason why ex alcoholics need to stay away from bars for ever.
    This guy is offering to share pizza and play cards during an international lockdown…his young bird has flown…maybe he too is lonely and hungry for shared pizza.
    Next thing the pick me dance will resume and hopium will set in…hey there maybe it was all a big mistake.
    If the story follows anything like the usual narrative on here then at best he will simply swan off again when lockdown ends or he gets a better offer.
    At worst you will become vulnerable to be chumped and cast aside all over again and for what….it sounds like he is not even providing the pizza.

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