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Struggling with No Contact

no contactDear Chump Lady,

Holy crap, Chump Lady, I feel like hell today. This No Contact is killing me. I woke up with a sense of dread and the whole day sucked. I could barely function. I was out of my PJs long enough to go for a drive but that’s it. All I did was stare at my phone and check my email all day long.

I managed to ignore his calls last night. But now when he doesn’t even try to contact me it’s so hard! I know he went out tonight and is probably living it up getting kibbles from all sorts of colleagues and pretty waitresses. The thought of that makes me want to pick up the phone and freak out at him. I feel like turning into the psycho bitch he liked to accuse me of being. I am so close to getting all weepy and sad and desperate. I’m about to do the “Pick me” dance.

What has actually been the hardest part is the fact that he told me at first he had wanted to work things out but now he just doesn’t seem to give a shit. He doesn’t even want me to come home anymore. I know his indifference is no different than it was when we were living together — and of course, I will be significantly better off being away from him in the long run — but it’s giving up ALL HOPE that is so tough. I was still flirting with hope last week. I was still chasing unicorns last weekend. And now it’s all coming crashing down and I have to face the truth that he just doesn’t care. He never did.

I know I have always been completely helpless to control him, which I found out the hard way, but I thought he would realize I’m a worthwhile person. I thought this time apart would make him see what he’s losing. Instead, he just doesn’t care. He never cared.

How do I move on when the whole game has changed? There are no more promises from him, no more plans for the future. This has just gotten serious and final. How do I accept it without going insane?

Sad in Seattle

Dear Sad in Seattle,

No contact isn’t killing you — it’s the dawning realization that he’s not who you wanted him to be, that your life is going to be a lot different than you’d hoped, and you’re scared as hell about how to start over. FEAR is what’s “killing” you — not no contact. No contact is helping you HEAL.

So, let’s address your fears:

1. He’s having a great time without you — Uh, Seattle? That was how he was living when he was WITH YOU. No change there.

2. He wanted to “work things out” and now you’ve missed your opportunity. Ye-ah. He was never going to work things out with you Seattle, the guy is a fraud. A flaming personality disorder serial cheater (as we learned from your other posts). Insofar as he wants to work anything out, it’s to figure out how to eat cake again and not incur the expenses of divorce. But mercifully (I know it doesn’t seem that way), he may be directing his attentions elsewhere to hone in on his next victim.

The thing with narcissists is, once exposed they never really sparkle again. Once you’ve seen behind the the mask, you’re useless to them. You’re bad kibbles. They need fresh supply. If they sparkle for you, it’s only because they want something, they want to manipulate an outcome. But they won’t sparkle long. It will get ugly fast. That’s how they are. If they want something, they’ll try charm. Charm fails, they’ll try threats. Threats fail, they’ll try self pity. They just cycle through those three tactics. The only one that matters to you is the sparkle — you’re fucking hooked on it. It’s your drug. Oh, please be the Wonderful Visage I Thought You Were! Bring back the dream!

No contact is making you go into sparkle withdrawal — kicking the hopium habit is essential to moving on.

3. You thought he would miss you, and he doesn’t care. That’s right, Sad. He DOESN’T CARE. Yep. That’s the truth of it. You were of use to him. A satellite to orbit planet Narcissist.

Stop looking to him for validation that you matter and start building yourself up NOW. You DO matter. You are worthy of love. You will love again. It just won’t be him, and thank GOD because he’s an abusive mindfuck of a man.

How do you accept it? You just do. Every day you work in word and deed to accept it, until one day (it’s a Tuesday) you ACCEPT it and you’re there. Have faith in the process.

But I’d start by getting out of your pajamas and having more to do with your day. Fill those days UP with activity. Make up activities. Go volunteer for everything you can. Join meetups. Fill the void of your life with something other than longing for him.

When I went through it, I had a newspaper to put out each week. Deadlines kept me sane. Raising a kid kept me grounded. People were relying on me to not lose my shit. You need to go make yourself USEFUL in this world — yes, of use to someone other than a narcissist. Find a better master to serve. Start with yourself.

I think your fear is about recreating yourself, your new life — get busy with that and I promise you, the no contact will get a lot easier.

This one ran before.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • SiS,

    Might I suggest that this isn’t about giving up all hope? This is about hoping for something different and something better; a cheater free life where you are happy, valued and treated with respect.

    Your cheater is a losing horse …. so stop backing him and back yourself instead.

    LFTT

  • Oh but Sad you’re so wrong – the game has not changed – *it is exactly the same game*

    You ignore his calls? Fine, he won’t call you as a punishment because he knows exactly what that will do to you. It’s the same game, just a slightly different play. This is what they do. They use a variety of tactics to keep stringing you alone.

    No contact tip – BLOCK the number. Don’t ignore. Block block block. Then you won’t know if he’s trying or not and you will remove him from the centre of this game and can concentrate on YOU for a change. It’ll be fine. They’re all wankers. You’ll see it soon.

    • >>Block block block

      There’s a great mind trick to this. You’ll feel more powerful because it’s your decision not his. He’s not punishing you because you offended his alphaness (his sense of superiority, mastery, & control). No, you are sparing yourself his toxic mind games.

      Ending an abusive relationship is like detoxing from a poisoned well. Or maybe a chemical addiction is the better analogy. While you are detoxing you’ll feel worse than death. The end of the world sounds good because it seems to offer freedom from pain. Sick people make great targets for snake oil salesmen because it’s easier to believe BS when loopy & in pain. You are also experiencing your own worst side now. No one is their best self when sick. I’m sure you are full of all sorts of self sabotaging thoughts now, because abuse specializes in those type of toxins.

      He probably poisoned the best part of you & encouraged the worst too. I learned this the hard way. My evil Ex validated the most neurotic parts of me (which made others uncomfortable), and embarrassed the best parts of me. Why?? So he could keep me under his control & feel superior. When your head clears, you might realize he validated you most when you service his ego best, and delighted when he embarrassed & isolated you. But you can’t see this without clearing your head via detox. Finish your detox cleanse. It sounds like he is the worst, so I’ll pray for you. <3

      PS: You might get a kick out of Captain Awkward's blog, with tags such as "House of Evil Bees" (comparing abuse to living thru a horror movie), Jerkbrain, Party Smeagol, or Darth Vader Boyfriend. That much humor and perspective really helped me, plus knowing that I was far from alone.

  • bottom line:

    He’s a liar, a fraud, an user, and an abuser.
    Used love bombing, rage, silent treatment and sad sausage to keep me off balance and in chaos. Also a good dose of future faking thrown in.

    It was hard to get my head around the fact that this guy is who he is after all the spackling I did.

    The truth set me free. And it’s just not truth about him; it’s truth about people and how their actions show who they are.

    I am now free from spending my life with a dick.

  • I felt the exact same way as this letter and I do not anymore. Thank goodness!

    IT TAKES TIME. IT IS A PROCESS.

    I spent a LOT of time in the early months on the phone with my large pit crew of trusted women friends who had been through it. To this day (just past three years in) I call three of those women a day. This is massive trauma.

    Talking, reading, therapy, writing, my spiritual program….I use every tool in the box to heal a tiny bit each day.

    NO CONTACT is an awesome tool and came with withdrawal symptoms. I do this very easily now and because we have a child and a business I have to have some contact with him, which I actually HATE.

    Have patience, Grasshopper. You WILL get there. You’re on the steep and rocky climb right now and I think most all of us have been there.

  • I remember that night Sad, we were separated. He called to say he missed me, wanted to see me. I wasn’t sure where he was living, I thought it was with the AP. I so much wanted her to know that he was with me, just to win that pick me dance, even if just for that night. He never showed. I found out later, ironically enough, that night he was with a third woman, and AP was stalking my house looking for him, while I drank myself to oblivion. He did eventually come back to me, for another year and a half. But the shine had definitely worn off. I finally saw not who he was, but who he wasn’t. As I started to see that I needed to get out, he get really aggressive, and finally violent. I have always considered my divorce an escape. There was something he showed me that last year that scared the crap out of me. When I look back now, I can’t even remember why I thought I couldn’t live without him. Hopium I guess.

  • He was probably out with number whatever. As he was when he was with you. Yes hey care about supply. And, they don’t change. A tiger can’t change his stripes. You will just be back on the same cycle.

    Move on. Get a volunteer position. Lots of websites to match volunteers to causes. Guess what? You might meet someone who cares about others!

  • I see this is a re-run. I hope that Sad in Seattle found interesting things to do, other connections to make, kicked the sparkle habit and got out of those PJs to feel weird wearing them again in the Time of Covid.

  • Just when I think chump lady can’t possibly have new wisdom for me, she does. He’s having a great time without me and he was before. His whole shitty life is about his pleasure and no one else is considered before and after the chomping.

    The hard part for chumps is catching up with the truth that was always there but hidden and accepting it.

    • “The hard part for chumps is catching up with the truth that was always there but hidden and accepting it.”

      This! The true them was always the asshole, the fake them was the person who hooked us in. Tough reality to accept because it forces you to question all your other realities. But eventually you find out that many people are wonderful and exactly who they seem…just not your cheater!

    • “His whole shitty life is about his pleasure and no one else is considered”

      This

      My ex spent a lot of time with jr base ball, boating, camping etc with our son. I was along for the ride, so I know he enjoyed it. I realize now, I can honestly say that he really did enjoy it, because if he didn’t he never would have done it. So I guess there is that.

      But, it was not a sacrifice for him, once my son was grown, his focus shifted to pleasing himself in other ways, and I was not to be a part of that.

  • In this story, I see some contact. Some contact is actually harder than no contact. The healing is slower, and the acclimating to the new situation is harder. Sometimes we don’t have a choice because of shared parenting issues and ongoing divorce communications. When we do have a choice, no contact works better than some contact.

    Knowing the call/text/email is ringing through is still some contact.

    Checking the social media (the person’s or those in their circle) is still some contact.

    Hearing gossip is still some contact.

    Seeing the person somewhere is still some contact.

    Getting mail from the person is still some contact.

    Looking through old photos and reminiscing about what you had dreamed about the relationship is, at least in the beginning of the grieving process, still some contact.

    Anything that brings up what you wish was true works the same. CL is 100% spot on about that. We grieve what we wish the person was. That’s not who the person is.

    You may not be able to eliminate all contact completely, but the more you CAN complete, the faster you’ll heal. No kidding. So, if it’s possible, block block block as much as possible.

    • I also made the connection between his calling her the night before, and the next day’s misery.

      Everything you say about “some contact” rings true to me.

      For me, proximity, place, and former colleagues (my ex and I worked in the same small university) also raise painful reminders. “Some contact” with any of them disturbs my hard won and still precarious equanimity. For those shared colleagues with whom I remain friends, I have erected iron-clad boundaries. No mention of him.

      • I agree. Some contact is more difficult than no contact.

        I, too, have told shared friends that I don’t want any mention of him. I’ve been surprised by how taken aback many have been when I set up this boundary. “Really? You don’t want to hear how he’s doing?” *sigh* I suppose only a chump can appreciate the necessity of NC.

        I also make a mental note that maybe I need to cut this “friend” out of my life, too. Ah, the ripple effects of infidelity.

        The other day I had to send a tax document to my ex. Even that was difficult. My email was brief and businesslike. Within a few minutes (a few minutes!), he responded. Ooof. So fucking triggering.

        Sometimes I try to pretend that he’s dead, but then something inevitably pops up. I think these unwelcome intrusions are becoming less upsetting as time goes on.

        So to the new chumps, I offer that hope. It does get better, but you have to be patient. Grief and trauma team up and call the shots on their schedule. There’s no controlling those two.

    • When I was reading up on sleep training the kiddos, all the books would warn about the dangers of intermittent reinforcement. It’s much harder to hit extinction on a behavior if the rewards appear random vs always or never. FWs can be attentive and loving, but only sometimes. Us chumps keep hoping it’s turning a new leaf, coming out of the fog. All that to say, if you can go fully no contact, go no contact.

    • Excellent points, Amiisfree! You’re on a roll. 😉

      I would just add that, at least in my experience, low contact is tough when your ex (cheater) is a covert variety of whatever, with lots of passive aggression. My STBX has a way of reporting stuff about the kids in such a way that she insinuates that it’s my problem – but without making any kind of outright ask (because that would require boundaries). She can also be almost aggressively “nice” through most of our interactions, as if to “prove” that she’s a good ex and co-parent, but then she makes things impossible when they’re really inconvenient for her – like making different choices after Covid hit, in order to safeguard my health, since we are forced to be in the same contact group through co-parenting.

      I agree that reducing contact as much as possible is essential, esp. if we chumps are dealing with a “nice person” sort of cheater. I am trying to keep things more cordial until the divorce is finalized, and while I have my safety to think of (Covid) – but as soon as those things are resolved, I’m going to Our Family Wizard and cutting off the texting with STBX except in cases of actual emergency.

      • ‘I agree that reducing contact as much as possible is essential, esp. if we chumps are dealing with a “nice person” sort of cheater’
        Agreed! The ‘nice’ ones really do a # on you and can make you feel like you lost a prize.
        It makes the hurt linger because you lost such a nice person and your anger feels shameful against their angelic cheater, blame shifting self.
        Their kindness is super manipulative.
        NC ( including social media of his family etc) when at all possible, is I’m realizing accepting reality.

  • I hope SIS is doing much better. It is really tough – starting over; living a “different” life than the one you thought you had. But things can and will get better. When my Ex left me and our kids in 2017 I was devastated. Never saw it coming. He was living in a new house doing God-knows-what with his drinking buddy and who knows who else. I was left with heartbroken kids plus my own hurting. We made it through. Divorce is still ongoing but we are almost there. We’ll be moving from our beautiful house to a small rental, but its okay. We have each other and we will survive. At my daughters urging, I tried online dating and met a wonderful man, who was left by a cheater. My daughter recently told me she has never seen me so HAPPY! I found my Tuesday!

    • overMim,

      Our stories are similar. My Ex left me and my son in 2015… Never saw it coming. My son and I were devastated and heartbroken. I had to move from the home we owned to a small rental….while he moved in with coworked and her 2 boys. My therapist encouraged me to start dating once my divorce was over. I’m still with the same nice boyfriend for 4 years now. Things do get better!

      The hard part of no contact is getting through the divorce… and I had to deal with Ex FW using custody of our son to be his way to force contact and manipulate (IE: He’ll hit/shove/lock out/purposely frustrate son to tears… forcing me to have to respond). It took more money and attorneys to get that mess straightened… but now that my son is a teen, it’s too hard for Ex FW to push him around anymore. The sound of Ex’s silence is music to my ears.

      I’m a bit of a b**** though. Sometimes I poke the bear when I shouldn’t IE: he’ll send something snide in Our Family Wizard and instead of doing No Contact like I should, I’ll respond “you seem angry. Hope you’re ok.” LOL Bad bad bad Michelleshocked)

      • Glad you are doing well! Ex is now fighting for shared custody of our youngest. So frustrating that I’ll have to deal with him for 3 more years but thankfully I rarely have to see him.

        • It will be ok. Do what you need to for your youngest. The court stuff over custodial issues was ongoing with my Ex FW for a solid 4+ years (just ended right before COVID last year), but there WILL be an end. I almost never see Ex FW anymore and it’s FABULOUS 🙂

  • Four years after a 35 year marriage I still feel the pain of betrayal. Our adult son will be getting married in June and I have no choice but to interact with him for the sake of my son and daughter-in-law. I’ve seen him few times at funerals and such but we never speak to each other. He never apologized for cheating on me with the now deceased OWhore. I went through 2 years of ignoring red flags but when I caught them together at her home my mental and physical health was at stake. I served him the divorce papers. He quickly moved into an older woman’s home where he is today.
    It doesn’t matter how long any of us are married to the cheating narcissist, it hurts and our future is changed.
    No contact is the only way to sanity as hard as it is.
    Hopefully one day some of us will find peace and self respect again on our own. 🙏

    • I’ll add that being ‘apologized’ to ( nice cheating etiquette?) and then dumped doesn’t help at all. Personally being twice divorced – for me it was easier with consistent ¥£^¥€~ behaviours and problems from 1st H – who was clearly not good for me – you feel better off without them.
      2nd H was so ‘nice’ after discard it made my anger rise and I’m sure fed into his invented narrative of why he wasn’t happy. I’ve never lashed out so much via email etc because the hurt was astronomical and the difference between his wonderful persona and horrible actions
      created pain that I thought would never lift.
      I never got an apology from H #1 ( he would never admit to how atrociously emotionally abusive he was, and how all I did was try to help him… getting him a therapist etc. etc.).
      But H #2, the cheater/ discarded H, did apologize, did help out after, did give me a fair settlement …..and started being his wonderful self immediately, with 15 year younger OW, while I could barely function for half a year.
      A fake apology as they go on their merry way while you can barely get through a day for months and months and months is another kind of trauma. They don’t really mean it with any empathy, they are just sorry about how the whole experience negatively impacted them.

      • My situation exactly!!me. I have mr. Wonderful also, on and of, when he has time to share his prized self which his children whenever he is bored of feels guilty. He cooks, plays, fixes things around the house, then leaves to wherever whomever with unknown. Lime he is doing us a favor. Not! I wish he would stay away. Forever. I also think that he is dead, which in many ways he is and I feel freedom and peace. That way at least I can think of the good times and not have to see or hear his lies and see him as a lesser of a man.

    • I’m hating NO-CONTACT even though I’m also hating him LOL! I’m sitting here listening to the chapter about no-contact and reminding myself that I have to struggle through it. 24 years of marriage, quit my job, raised the kids and now complete indifference and a refusal to accept any responsibility for anything! His silent withdrawal is maddening. And still I miss him… His refusal to block her numbers and end the relationship drives me crazy but still I hesitate to file for divorce. I’m driving myself crazy trying to untangle his mess – when I know I need to untangle my own. Ugh! I’ve stopped sleeping with him. Stopped living with him. But it’s so hard to stop loving him!!! It’s like eating healthy…even though we know what we need to do – it’s still hard!!

  • I love No Contact.

    I love it almost as much as pasta, and I love it a great deal more than taking antidepressants.

    I love it because it’s the penicillin of broken hearts. It stops the life threatening infection in its tracks. You might get a bit of diarrhoea until you finish the course, but it’s worth it.

    I love it because it will give you back your sense of agency and your internal locus of control before you can say ‘Albert Bandura’.

    I just love it.

    • Lola, I love what you said. Since I was suddenly dumped, I’ve struggled terribly with feeling like I have any internal locus of control or sense of mightiness. I just found out who the OW was after a year!!! Proceeded to obsessively social media stalk her and her friends for a couple of days – saw exact same flowers he always gave me on her table, the exact same place we used to go for a short holiday… He’s a one trick pony .
      Then saw that former MIL friended the OW……
      So today I blocked Everyone associated with him so that I’m not even tempted to look at things going on with OW or my former family – they’ve embraced OW because they wuv Mr wonderful and I’m sure they think there had to be real reasons why he betrayed me.
      And I’ve been so angry since – I’m sure they think I have anger issues. Who am I kidding, they’re not thinking of me at all!
      So why bother? They don’t care one bit about me – even though they were charming and complimentary as all hell when I served some purpose to them.
      Today I actually felt quite good.

      • Well done. This is just the beginning of No Contact.

        You can also do something called Deep No Contact, which is when you scrub friends of friends, dry cleaners, coffee shops, and the whole secondary network that might bring you accidentally in touch with the person at one remove.

        There are people who move to another city or state or country, and ensure that all ties remain cut.

        They’re kind of the gold-medal No Contacters. But not everyone has to make it to the podium; there are participation trophies for this event, and you can up your game gradually if you find it helps.

  • Grief is a real stage. Letting yourself mourn is vital. It helps acceptance come next.
    Stay the course. Remind yourself. This is over. I have filed for divorce. He is somebody that I used to know.

    Be angry. Cry on your friends shoulder. Have someone supportive you can call when you want to call him. Block his number everywhere. You won’t know if he called or not and that is healthy.

    It is VERY hard, but hard things usually are the most important.

    I promise you, the intense pain passes, but you need this grief to help you in the process.

    Block, no contact, cut all ties. It is the path to freedom. Some day you will be here to tell others that there is joy and peace and freedom on the other side. I can tell you from experience!

  • Most of us have the struggle that Sad in Seattle discusses, to some extent or another. While I was discarded by Jackass (and he never looked back), I struggled with mental “no contact”; I had an obsessive focus on him and on my perceived need for the his relationship with OW to break up. For a few months, I spent hours checking social media sites and looking for “signs.” None of that helped me one bit, and finally realizing that the two of them weren’t together didn’t do what I thought it would do to make me feel better.

    Amiisfree explains the different aspects of “no contact” very well. Ending physical contact and stopping remote contact like phone calls, texts, and unnecessary email contact is crucial. But the other points she brings up are examples of allowing the cheater (and OW) to stay central in their thoughts. It’s not possible to “gain a life” when your mental space is taken up by looking back; by pondering what the X is doing, feeling experiencing; by projecting our own values onto someone who is a liar and a cheater (“it must be me that’s wrong because I believe (in my mind, with no evidence) that X has a wonderful, sparkly life. So committing to true no contact involves decision o stay away from points of contact, including blocking phone and text, avoiding contact at kiddo exchanges, blocking all their social media accounts, and perhaps taking a break from social media altogether.

    Meanwhile, as VelvetHammer says, the other side of the problem is to have a life of your own to invest in. I was on sabbatical when I got discarded but I was still teaching one class and I was working on a good and a research project. That work kept me sane. I had a regular exercise regiment (weights, hot yoga, boxing, cardio). I worked on my house and yard. I build a massive Pinterest account that I used to visualize and manifest qualities and focal points for a new life. Pretty soon my new life was more important than keeping Jackass front and center in my mind.

    • 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻…. ditto to everything LAJ says and what has been said.

      To newer chumps: 6 years out from Dday—4 from divorce, 25 years married, it really does get infinitely better. I went through the literal hell you describe. The trauma bonds take a lot of time to heal— no contact is the only path to peace. Be kind to yourself, practice extreme self care (I swear I spent months in my bath watching Call the midwife and other sweet shows), come here and to the FB group for support. We get it. You’re not alone and not crazy.

    • Sorry about the typos. I hit the keys but they don’t always register. Or I’m getting dementia. Take your pick.

    • LovedAJackass, you are so inspiring. I’ve had the same experience of the difficult mental no contact and the constant intrusive thoughts. I wish I knew where chumps like you get their motivation from for serious exercise when you’re feeling down and out.
      Luckily, at least I like getting out for bike rides and things … But the motivation to do weights etc. which I know would be very good for me on my new levels… Just hasn’t appeared.
      I really feel that piece would help with the no contact mental peace. How does one get motivated at least to take the first steps? During covid with no gym.

  • Staying busy is important. I make a daily goal list of things I want to accomplish. I strive for progress, not for perfection.

    Going no contact is a thing that occurs in stages. First I was able to block the phone calls completely because those trigger me way too much. That also blocked the text messages. I keep the email open because we’re selling a house together but I turned off my notifications for emails so now I have to actually check my email.

    I can steel myself before I check it so that I know that I’m going to give myself a half hour response time. I do not respond within that half hour. I think.

    It doesn’t matter what goes on in my head. It matters what comes out of my mouth and goes on the email. I may go through a process where my head says all kinds of stuff but if I don’t respond with those things I’ve still won.

    Don’t live in yesterday. Live today. He’s not in your life. You need to move on and you can do that day by day. Open a book, go to the gym, take a walk, get a dog, get a dog, get a dog. Seriously, dogs don’t lie.

    • “It doesn’t matter what goes on in my head. It matters what comes out of my mouth and goes on the email. I may go through a process where my head says all kinds of stuff but if I don’t respond with those things I’ve still won.”

      This is the best reason for no contact – dignity.

  • “If they sparkle for you, it’s only because they want something, they want to manipulate an outcome. ”

    This is just so true. All baby chumps need to hear it and feel it. (easier said than done, but a must).

    If they are circling back, after not seeing you for a while, they didn’t miss you at all, they just want something, could be a better settlement outcome, could be sex, could be schmoops kicked them out and they need a place to land for awhile, until he can either work it out with schmoops, or get another one lined up, could even be as in my case he just needed me destabilized just in case he needed to use me down the line.

  • Try doing ‘what if’s’. What if you came home? What would change? What would be different? What if he does it again? And so on. One thing the what if’s told me was wow I just don’t want this anymore. You already reached that point. Put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it hard every time you have these thoughts. No contact is like starting a strict diet. You’re hungry all the time and on the verge of breaking your plan. But you hold out minute by minute until you get through the moment. Think of it as being on a diet and the goal is to lose 180+ lbs. and remember. Nothing tastes as good as being free feels. Free of his toxic bullshit. You’ve escaped. Go be free. Go.

  • Part of it for sure is fear (of the future, of losing your misplaced source of self-worth), but part of it as well is a sense of vertigo or disorientation at losing your sense of yourself–particularly if the abusive relationship was a long-term one. For however many years you were in that relationship, you only knew yourself through that lens, as an extension of your abusive ex’s ego. Now you look in the mirror and have no idea who you’re looking at. You have to rebuild your sense of self through prayer/meditation, therapy, journaling, conversations with friends and family who knew you and loved you before that relationship, new experiences, vision boards, etc. I was with my ex for 20 years, almost as long as I had been on the planet before I met him. So the loss of my sense of myself was the most devastating aspect of NC to me and made me nearly panic at the thought of choosing never to speak to or see my ex again. I’ve been 100% NC for a bit over a year now, and it has absolutely been crucial to my recovery. But I still occasionally have days where I remember who I was before DDay and get a strong sense of vertigo, as if someone has just pulled the floor out from under me. I have to just remind myself, like the posters here have all noted, that there’s nothing back there for me anymore: in fact, there never was. The only way for me is forward.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I was with my XW nearly 17 years. It’s now almost 3 years post discard and, while finally coming out of what was the worst period of my life, I still have trouble at times keeping a firm grip on my sense of self and suffer the occasional “vertigo”.

  • The problem is with many narcissists is parental alienation and how do you deal with that???? Lawyers cost a fortune to fight it!🥶

  • There are 2 kinds of pain: the pain from abuse (similar to the physical pain from an accident or after a planned surgery) and the pain that happens when healing. I noticed I was healing when I had a day or two without pain, then it happened more frequently until I had some entire weeks without pain. Now I do not suffer. I may have the odd day when I am down. The healing began when I began separating myself from the abuser & seeing myself as independent and not part of the same team. Initially, that hurt! But it was the healing type of pain.

  • It sounds like you don’t have a support network to talk to. When i want to call my STBX and tell her that she is a scumbag who has now forced her kids into a two-home marriage because she was selfish, i either call or email with my friends.

    It is cathartic.

    In any event, talking to others and reading this blog helps me with no contact (about anything other than the kids).

  • No contact is absolutely crucial to find a new understanding of one’s self. It took me now about wo years with intensive therapy to learn that I am an individual that has her own values and priorities. I learned that it is ok to set boundaries.

    Find something to distract yourself when you want to contact your narc. Do not fall into the trap of social media stalking. Do not give him the power over you. It takes a long time, but you will be better off once you learn that you are a valued human being independent form anyone else. You do not need him.

    Therapy always helps.

    More reflections from my side below:
    https://notmymonkeys.net/blog/who-am-i

    • long timer here.
      divorced just before 40 years. lot of sunk costs. bad investment.
      life without the liar fraud user abuser is better. it takes time to adjust.
      no contact is the beginning of better.

      There’s no time for messing around when you are a long timer. You can cry later after you secure your position.
      You gotta make a plan; you gotta execute it; and you gotta it keep it under wraps so that fuck wit doesn’t know he’s getting played.

      What I hoped was that X would secure a nurse with a purse so that he could not use the kids with his sad sausage routine. Nor did I want to ever have anything to do (esp financials) with his sure to come declining cognitive function due to a life of self indulgence and bad genes.

      He did! I call her schmoopie #19, and she won the prize. It cost me some. But it’s costing her plenty. Looks like she’s a divorced chump three years out.

      Not my problem.
      They say one year for every 5 to 7 years year together so takes a while. I suggest getting in shape and staying in shape so that you feel good about you.

      • Langele, I agree that if you were with somebody for a very long time… it’s a different type of serious trauma. But I don’t think pain can be measured by the number of years you spent with somebody.
        In my opinion, it has everything to do with how deeply you loved, how deeply you were committed, how strongly you believed the dream, how sensitive you are in general, who else was hurt in the equation, your support system or lack thereof, past trauma, the value you place on your abandoner, the layers of betrayal, your sense of self worth ……so many things factor into the duration of trauma.

        • One’s deep love is not negated. Belongs to the person who has the capacity to love.

          The reality is that these people are frauds liars users abusers.

          Denial is a protective device that we use as we process reality.

          At my age, time reality is an in-my-face factor. I can take all the time I want processing the old or I can put my great energy into my new life.

          The sunk costs argument is not good as an investment concept nor in human relationships, once you see the truth.

          It’s not easy to un mind fuck yourself.
          But it’s all you now, baby. And that’s the beauty of the thing.

  • CL makes such a great point about FEAR being the big problem which we often misidentify (NC is not the problem, it’s the solution).

    Fear muddies our thinking. Fear makes us hesitant to move forward. Fear saps our energy.

    Change is hard but chumps CAN adapt and overcome. In the early days, we do feel like what’s happening is “killing” us but that’s really the fear fooling us into thinking the worst.

    It really DOES get better.

  • Charms, threats, self-pity. Wow. Don’t I know it! FW gave up on charm years ago. He is full of threats and self-pity, though. I have a unique notification sound on my phone for messages from him because he had me trained that I had to read and respond to his messages right away. I swear there was a time when I would have a PTSD response to the sound. Now I will read it and respond when I fucking feel like it. Or IF I feel like it. It was one of the things I untrained myself about.

    I am so grateful that I don’t relate to today’s posting. FW is military and we moved a lot so I am not at all afraid to uproot to a different house no matter how small. And I give zero fucks if he ever wakes up to my worth or what he is doing with whom whenever. I really don’t care. He isn’t out of the house yet but he goes to all kinds of “networking meetings” and 3 hour trips to Home Depot. He thinks he is slick. IDGAF I learned my worth and it is why I do something small every day toward my escape. I have 2 friends who I check in with who would never let me backslide. Back when I first learned of his FW-ness, I was all kinds of sick to my stomach. After I gave up on counseling, I turned my mind to escape. Then he decided he would discard me before I was ready and at the worst possible time. So I became an actor. I refused to fold and he won’t actually file. Has threatened twice now. And this buys me time. Have consulted the best attorneys in town. Getting closer every day. The pandemic has messed things up a lot. But I know my worth and I want my son to be away from his sick father more, so the day is coming.
    I think I will have him served on a Tuesday. 😜

    I can’t imagine how hard it would be to move forward if I were still mired in hurt. I hope Seattle is living a happier, FW-free life!

  • Dear Sad in Seattle,

    This will help you.

    I was devastated after I caught my fiancé cheating. As in- I laid in bed for a year…ONE YEAR..and basically stared at the ceiling fan, talked to my dogs and abused pain killers.

    3 years past. I started working again. I stopped bursting into tears at the grocery store. I did not become morbidly obese. (I take my wins where I can find them.)

    Through a series of dumb events, I ended up talking to him again. 3 years of no contact- no an email, a text, a phone call- utter disconnect.

    In that moment when I was going to hear his voice again, my heart was pounding. My mouth went dry. I took a breath and I lit into him with an indictment of his cruelty, his savage ways, his ingratitude, his shit character.

    Do you know what his response was?

    I really haven’t thought about it that much.

    The defining topic of my life for the past 1200 days had not flitted across his reptile brain. It was probably the first time he was ever honest with me. He hadn’t thought of it. He just moved on. He sounded befuddled.

    They are different than us. They are not shaking their fist at the sky, sobbing at losing you. They are giddy swiping Grindr in their dirty undies, eating a hot pocket and laughing like a loon.

    • Sultana Roo, I can relate to the ceiling fan and crying in the grocery store too. And you are so right, they didn’t think about us while they were cheating on us… They certainly don’t think about us once they dumped us. They really are different. Really shallow and lacking in empathy.
      They just want to feel good at any cost.

  • If you are struggling with maintaining no contact, look back to yesterday’s topic of the struggle with a mother supporting your ex instead of you. Read Loved a Jackass’s detailed post about her struggle with her mother and the long term effects on her psyche and adult relationships. Consider who in your life is the barbed wire monkey you want to love. There may be a whole clan of monkeys. All these things will interfere with your ability to love yourself, and to move on with your life.

    It is a painful lesson to learn that the barbed wire monkey will only hurt you, and has no love to give. However, once you learn to have no contact with the monkey, you are free to find other people who are capable of love and commitment, and telling the truth. This is how you gain a life. It is not a gift, it is a struggle. The benefits far outweigh the costs. You have to let go of the pain, the disappointment, the dream of what might have been. Your reality will be so much better.

  • Corollary 1: You will not heal until you master NC

    Corollary 2: NC efficacy cannot be understood until the 3 manipulation channels are concretely manifested in real time and cognizance of their use is recognized, identified and accepted. (Oh! She’s on the self pity channel!) (Whoa! Instantaneous flip to the Rage channel. )

    Corollary 3: Pain shopping indicates the beginning of the withdrawal symptoms from hopium
    where the chance of relapse is the strongest.

    I had to “see” the LACGAL techniques used against me before I could develop countermeasures to protect myself. I had to watch the predicted, observable channel changes, recognize which one was in play, then LEARN TO pause, think and then act (Not React). ➡️Cool. Wow. Bummer. ➡️Silence.

    My previous vocabulary needed to be reset to these three words- which, in the end are 3 too many.

    Additionally, Be aware of FW Pheremone elimination and avoidance. For me, getting within 20 feet of xw triggered an uninvited physiological response. The sympathetic nervous system-like response of Hypervigilance. Which then triggered set into motion my emotional responses. I WAS Pavlovs dog through A purely primitive neurological response I could never defeat without distance and elimination of her ‘essence’.

    I would immediately leave a FW ambush situation that would inevitably escalate, or just not be available. These SELF ISOLATION countermeasures are necessary to see the efficacy of NC. Not to mention the feelings of pleasure, validation and self control that reinforced these actions as wholesome and healthy.

    The mental part was/is the hardest chapter to work through once NC is established. Mindfulness of my emotional state became a sign of healing. “Don’t Bite” my rally call.
    Each successful encounter to get through the steps of divorce builds upon one another. We get stronger.

    I’m pretty much MEH about it all now. I’m sticking with the people that truly love me through their actions, not their words.

    Having just turned 61, I realize there is more road behind me than left in front of me. I’ve married & procreated, I’ve modeled a good life for 3 sucessful adults. I’ve climbed one 19 year corporate ladder, forceably retired and have come full circle to where I began.

    August will mark 4 years out from this clusterfuck and I’m OK with that. It does get better however slowly ‘It’ chooses to progress.

    I just imagined another meaning for this word ‘It’…

    I Triumphed!

    (Marcus! Come Forth!!)

        • Fear knocked on the door

          Faith answered

          No one was there.

          A Methodist pastor I know is fond of the story in Matthew: Christ on a boat with his disciples: a storm rises: the disciples panic and wake a sleeping Jesus—

          Why are you afraid, Jesus barks. Do you not have faith?

          I used to associate anxiety (fear) with a lack of courage. I’m more seasoned now. And when I remind myself all will be well, all will be as it will be, that anxiety evaporates. And that’s been a wonderful gift of this entire experience.

  • Here’s the handiest guidebook – ‘Don’t Call That Man!’ I found this super-helpful.

    http://www.rhondafindling.com/books

    And then you too can begin to enjoy a world with pasta, without antidepressants, with a much better internal locus of control, and with truth and light.

  • It’s OK (((hugs))). But seriously, this guy isn’t on your side. If he had been, he would have gone the distance; however, he didn’t.

    I agree with others who say that you need to fill your life with positives. Mine was a gray divorce, and I’m finding that having lots of friends, work I love, our adult children, and volunteer work is all I need to keep me going. Maybe love will find me one day, but I’m not looking. Our offspring chose to go no contact when I went no contact during the divorce process. My attorney was concerned that I was too “nice” and willing to give away things that were legally mine. He was a kindly soul, but told me that interacting with my ex wasn’t doing me a bit of good and that he know all about interacting with men like that directly and through their attorneys. He was right.

    Yes, mine is probably having a ball with who-knows-who. During separation he bragged to me about his $100 tips for pretty waitresses. Who tells that to their wife of several decades? At this point I don’t care. Ultimately he chose fluff over something real.

  • This week I finally hired an attorney and filed for divorce. I have not really had to worry about no contact because he did not talk to me. Even in the same house, no texts or phone calls or even a where are you when I was late from work. He has treated me like I’m invisible. It even got to the point where I was not allowed to ride in the same car when looking for a space heater. Last week he told me that I have made his life miserable for the entire 30 years we have been together. It finally took that after so many years of trying to fix it, anticipate his needs, try not to make him mad and support his cancer treatments for me to suck up the cost and file for divorce. And I feel like crap.

  • I am so incredibly blown away. I just made a huge step towards NC. In his disclosures TODAY, my husband said, “I am estranged from my children ___ and ___ ( here he named them, only, he misspelled both of their names) at this time and am not requesting orders from the court for parenting time.” He went on to say that he doesn’t want the kids to feel forced to see him. He named me the sole decision-maker and the sole caretaker. Which I have been for years!

    I thought I was going to be stuck co-parenting until our daughter turned 18! Admittedly, it seems painful that he doesn’t want to try and fight for a BIT of interaction with the kids. He didn’t ask for any visitation or holidays. Yet, to know that he isn’t going to weaponize the kids against me is huge. I literally have lists of the examples of his poor parenting to use as proof against him in negotiations! My Super Lawyer of 15 years (worth every penny, thanks for the advice Mr. CL!!!) with all his years of experience was in shock. It says something when a lawyer is horrified at my cheater’s detachment. (Not us, because we have seen behind his cheater mask for years!)

    I am going to sleep with more peace than I have felt in years.

    I read every day and miss being able to post. The divorce is taking up all of my free time, which felt limited before this all began. It takes hours to prove hidden, oversea assets! I really appreciated everyone’s comments from last Friday’s challenge. It was the reminder that the hell of this divorce is going to lead to our FREEDOM. That is worth every minute invested and every penny spent.

    • I also have to say to all of the chumps that had to go through the divorce process in person, you are mighty! COVID is hell for everyone, but at least all of my court interaction has been online, and that is SO much easier than an in-person meeting. COVID brought so many negatives, but social distancing from a narc is a positive!

      • Congratulations! Sole decision-maker and caretaker–that is amazing!!! Will channel your lucky stars for my mediation next month. Misspelled both kids’ names?!!! That is poetry.

  • “Stop looking to him for validation that you matter and start building yourself up NOW. You DO matter. You are worthy of love. You will love again. It just won’t be him, and thank GOD because he’s an abusive mindfuck of a man.”

    This helped!! Married 27 years – so hard not to look for validation from him. My concept of self has been so obliterated and he is who I have always turned to. Habits are hard to break –

    But to recognize my worth independent of his validation is liberating. Why value his validation when he’s so lacking in character, kindness, or depth? We’re talking about a 50 yr old man who thinks that enlightenment is found in sex clubs, open marriages, and drugs. Like grow the hell up!

    Whoever I choose to have in my life (for love or friendship) will NOT be him – and for that, yes, I am profoundly grateful. He was and is an abusive mindfuck of a man.

  • It is very hard to feel, think, realize or for advanced chumps, to say: there is nothing there for me, you are not who I thought you were, I don’t like whom you have become, I don’t like the way you make me feel, I don’t want this anymore. I sleep better at night when you are not here and I rather don’t see you.

    We will all get there someday. To me, nc us not possible now as we just started and we share two you g children, but my emotional detachment has began. I see him as a stranger that I don’t like or trust. Someone that used to be so wonderful but now us not. Someone that can only lie and manipulate. Someone that only cares about himself and everything he does is about seeking approval/validation)exoneration for himself. Nothing there for me. Nothing left of the man I used to love. I don’t even know who this person is, where he lives or whom he us with, but the best part is that I can honestly say that IDGAF. I have the unconditional love of my kids and their respect, plus I sleep at night. That is far more than he will ever have.

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