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No Contact, Gray Rock, and Other Kinds of Mighty

go awayRocking the gray rock? Today’s Friday Challenge is to share how you’ve mastered the art of low contact.

In a perfect world, you could have total no contact, but for people still slogging through divorce, enduring in-house separation, or co-parenting with fuckwits, gray rock is the coping strategy of choice.

It requires discipline — not taking the bait, offering “no” as a complete answer, or not answering at all. Keeping matters laser focused. Resisting all relationship autopsies, or kibble flings.

Difficult People guru Bill Eddy has a great mnemonic for gray rock situations — BIFF.

  • Brief
  • Informative
  • Friendly
  • Firm

“Hi. I will be there on Tuesday, at 4 p.m. to pick up Brittany up for her bassoon lessons.”

No extraneous details! Pure logistics! The “motherfucker’ is silent.

Share your dark arts of gray rock today. How are you doing it? Let’s hear your mighty!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I’ll confess to not being BIF during 10 months of in-house separation — I could not muster Friendly, but I was not confrontational nor was I rude: “I will be picking up E the Elder from gymnastics at 8:30 and will bring something home for dinner for M the Younger.”

    Indeed, it takes great discipline and practice. But in my case, full and complete acceptance of who I was dealing with made it much easier. I was not dealing with the person I thought she was — I was dealing with the person she ACTUALLY was.

    • You are not alone UXworld, I think all of us went back and forth trying to defend ourselves to a FW.

      We want justice and acknowledgment from our abuser and foolishly think we’re going to “break through” or that there is going to be one phrase we utter that “packs a punch” and makes the FW have a lightbulb moment where they realize the profound impact of what they’ve done.

      The Chump Vets on here will tell you otherwise, we’ve accepted that moment will never come. Sure, some may feign remorse, but they only do that if they need to use you again, it’s not genuine. They will never truly give a shit… and they never did (as mind blowing as that concept is).

      It took me a while to realize that their game is to rile you up, so you keep sending 2 page responses to “set the story straight” for the umpteenth time. They get off on flustering you and they know exactly how to push your buttons. It’s sadistic and they’re laughing at your righteous anger. Dance monkey, dance!

      They’re never actually reading or listening to what you’re saying, of course, the game is enjoying that they’re still important enough to upset you.

      The best game is to:
      1. Only respond to messages that require a response.
      2. Keep it as short as humanly possible. “No.” is a complete sentence.

      I used to think short responses meant he “wins” because I didn’t give him a “piece of my mind”. I’ve since learned the exact opposite is true. When I refuse to give him any mental space to hurt me, I’m the one who has the power.

      It drives them crazy to provoke you, only to be the recipient of unrequited antagonism. It makes them wonder why you don’t care to dignify their stupidity with a response anymore. Sends a message that they are boring (and they REALLY hate that) and diminishes their importance and centrality and shows you have the upper hand.

      • I can’t afford to give away pieces of my mind….I need as many as I can manage to hang onto….

      • 100% agree! I had to learn all that the hard way. I responded to every point in every email from my disordered ex, and even tried to elicit confessions or catch him in his lies. For a long time I kept a mythical Judge in my head. You know, the wise family court judge who will one day read all this back and forth and see what I had to deal with, and make my ex-fuckwit do the right thing………I spent so many hours phrasing things just right to “set the record straight.”

        Ha ha. No judge is ever going to slog through all that extraneous history and context and come to the belief that I was the sane one.

        I finally got meh enough to make a game of finding the absolute least amount of words I could use to respond to my ex on OFW, and still meet my legal obligations. My personal favorites are:

        -No.
        -Sure.
        -Sounds good.
        -Congratulations.
        -I don’t think so.

        These are my versions of cool. bummer. wow.

        If the issue is more complex I use this:

        -Please refer your question to your lawyer. I am sure she and my lawyer can come up with an alternative solution that is best for the kids.

        • Gorillapoop…OMG, this:

          “Please refer your question to your lawyer. I am sure she and my lawyer can come up with an alternative solution that is best for the kids.”

          I’m totally stealing this one. It’s a genius preemptive statement that supersedes their typical “I’m calling my lawyer” threat when you won’t comply with their insanity. Beat them to the punch. That’s some next level psychology right there. Brilliant!!

          • So we were almost at signing binding financial agreements then he says “we don’t agree on some things so I am getting further legal advice”. I think he wanted me to come back begging. I didn’t. I am waiting… can someone tell me is this the best path for the whole legal threat situation?

            • Not begging is the best path for the whole legal threat situation, when accompanied with a side dish of consulting/ applying the advice of your own attorney concerning the last development on your divorce. Legal advice is expensive, but not taking any is even more expensive (my experience is from a country applying Napoleon’s code)

        • With regard to Gorillapoops Wise Judge in Her Mind….I had similar thoughts but I took them out of our Earthly dimension.

          Like I have shared, I am Catholic and I believe that Purgatory is real. People are held accountable for the stuff they say and do (me too, Im not saying Im above it).

          So when FW was seemingly healthy and we were still married, he said something nasty-ass-mean to me in our kitchen and I didn’t even have strength to react appropriately to it, I very calmly said “you will hear that back one day” meaning that God would hold him accountable for it.

          Wonderfully, I cant even remember what he said. It was the same kitchen where he once told me that I would be abandoned the day I got my first grey pubic hair…ahh always the gentleman, that guy.

          I assumed it would be YEARS before he and God debriefed, I was wrong.

      • Took me way to long to finally realise all the above but Ive finally got there, while coping with in house separation, my adult sons were much better at gray rock than me, I learnt from them 😁

      • The Chump Struggle is Real,

        Nailed it!

        Making them feel insignificant crushes their little kibble-needy souls.

        Ah, my ex envisioned a different future with his new appliance. Nothing would change significantly, he thought. Even his chumpy wife will remain friends with him. A few heartfelt fauxpologies, and she’ll be putty in his hands and remain a reliable kibble producer.

        The kids will forgive this. After all, it’s “between their mom and me.”

        And he and the much-younger, fawning OW will skip off into the sunset.

        Ooops. A total miscalculation on his part.

        The KIBBLES from me and the kids have dried up! The OW is too tired to skip. After all, she has to stay up all night to keep up with increased kibble demands. That’s a lot for one person. I almost feel for her. Almost.

        p.s. Going NC with my toxic MIL has also worked wonders.

  • I moved, blocked him in every form possible and have avoided all contact, even if it means still being on his bank account because we both have to be present and sign a form in order to be removed from his account. I just don’t want to talk with him or see him again. I am blessed that my kids are grown so I rarely must see him because of the kids.

    But, he shows up in my dreams 5yrs after the divorce and 10 yrs since 3rd DDay. Last night, in my dream, he was sitting in front of me at church. He started to cry and was about to turn around to face me, and I knew instantly I was about to get another guilt induced apology, but I grabbed my things and ran out the door. That’s how I handle him in my dreams, I either am leaving, or sometimes screaming at him. But in real life, I just avoid him.

    • CTTM: There’s a way you can get his name off of your account without both of you having to be there. I just did it. I told the bank that we live in different states, and they whipped up some paperwork which I signed and then sent to him for notarized signature. Once I get the papers back, I just drop them off at the bank and voila! No more fuckwit on my account!

      • ChumpQueen, that’s great advice! It’s amazing how many banks or other corporations don’t understand when it’s comes to dealing with crazy abusive x’s. Why would they force in the same room together?

        • I have my own account, and had it for years before the divorce as I didn’t trust him with money, but I am legally still on his account. Just don’t want anything to come back and bite me from his bank actions as he is horrible with money and unethical. Thanks for the hug!

          • I had the same problem! Three years after our divorce I was reviewing my credit report and realized that I was still a co-signer on his business account and business credit card which was maxed out (Fortunately it only had a $2,500 limit). He was supposed to have closed that when we settled. I had to email him twice before he made the effort to pay the card off and close the accounts. I think he only did because he was worried about image management. It might reflect badly to our grown children if he didn’t cooperate….

            • I told my bank manager I was escaping an abusive marriage and needed to be protected from seeing him. It’s amazing how they accommodated me after that. People are very supportive- I also don’t lie. I tell them it’s psychological abuse not physical.I told the bank that he was using the accounts to control me, that I lost trust and I needed the bank’s help. They moved mountains after that!

            • OMG I wish my Ex cared that it reflects badly on him to our grown kids when he doesn’t cooperate ….

              Sigh

          • I had the same situation. I had my credit union account long before I met him, then put his name on the account. The credit union let me close the account, then open a new one with them under just my name. It was way better than breaking NC to get him to sign a notarized document.

    • It was horrendous rearranging the bank accounts. She was bad the bank manager apologized to me for how bad she she treated me while at the bank. Totally nasty.

    • Chump to the Max.

      It has been almost 4 years since dday after 30+ years together.

      Kids grown so when I learned about NC, yes – I didn’t find CL at first so I was pick-me-dancing using RIC literature and self-induced insanity for a couple of years, I implemented it post-haste.

      He didn’t understand why I would do such a thing.
      I did.

      End of story.

      Like you, he does pop into my thoughts still quite frequently and it baffles and irritates me. Thankfully I know what to do with the thoughts and I know ‘they’ will happen.

      He has only shown up in a couple of dreams and I can’t recall them but I remember waking up feeling disturbed….

      I trudge on knowing I am doing the right thing for myself with NC. Time for me to find out who I am without being someones ‘wife object’ and cleaning up the wreckage of my grown children thinking they can use me in the same way…”Ahhh, let mom do it. That is what she does.”

      Thankfully, because of CN, I know one of a chumps most polished traits in the compulsion to fix things. That was my role. It was how I made myself central to his making himself central in his way. It gave me value. I identified with it completely and I thought I was good at it.

      Letting it go has been such a relief yet terrifying too because, who am I without fixing things? Will people still like me? Will I have any value?

      Surprisingly I still do have friends. I appear to have as much value as the next person on the planet. I am even making new friends.

      I can do this and explore all of this due to NC which when I did have contact I kept orbiting around him trying to fix him/it and waiting for him to wake-up and see the light.

      One day it dawned on me I was the one who had to wake up and onto the scene arrived CL and CN and the rest is history.

      • I’m a year out from separation and 2 years from the 5 and final d-day. I dream of him every night. Today there was a fb memory of us at a music festival and my heart still flips when I see a photo of him.
        I’m totally no contact, blocked on everything. Yet I still feel tied to him and I don’t think that will ever change. I’m even seeing someone else and that hasn’t shifted my feelings at all. Even after reading an article about being married to a sexual predator and every single thing in that article was exactly how my marriage was. Everything. Still makes no difference to how much I miss him. I feel stupid for feeling this.

        • CDU,

          I hope you give yourself space to feel what you feel without judging it. I’m a year out of a relationship and still feel all the feelings you describe, despite ALSO knowing that he showed signed of shady from day 1. My ex may have been play acting, but he still paid more attention to me than I ever had as a child or teen, so my attachment to him was very strong. He was very good at saying what I desperately wanted to hear. I used to feel ashamed for that, but now it just makes sense. I can feel both things at once: an intense longing for the security and intimacy and joy I thought I had, and had experienced as genuine in the moment, and a deep sense of wanting to protect myself from the reality that I now know exists. Hugs to you!

          • I totally get it. I was yearning for the love I thought he was giving me all my life. I had an abusive childhood too and thought I’d hit the jackpot when I met him. Despite the red flags. He made me feel safe and loved and valued. Until it all unravelled. I now know I can never allow myself to be so vulnerable with someone again. Big hugs to you too Magnolia x

            • Yes, neglect and abuse in childhood that made FWs actions “not so bad” in comparison. He seemed to have moments of decency (which my parents didnt really have).

              My Cheater has been dead for 8 years, so my mind has caught up and I have fewer dreams. My reoccurring dream consists of Cheater still being alive but I want to be with my new husband and I have to get a divorce to get away from Cheater. In my dream he is always throwing crumbs to try to keep me and I feel conflicted.

              The dream would never have been reality in that I was painfully caeful to never seek solace from a man during my abuse…I knew that me cheating would solve nothing …its not who I am.

        • CDU

          I just read another tidbit that hit the nail on the head about things fw do –

          ‘ditching date night to spend times with friends instead.’

          I hadn’t read that one before and, WHAM, he did that too so the writing on the wall is blaring and the evidence is mounting at an alarming rate yet that dang tug at my heart for the illusion.

          What you wrote – yes. It is confounding to me how hard it is for my heart to ‘get it’. Confounding and bewildering and it makes me question so much else too in terms of being human beings. So twisted in so many ways and so hard to see the truth and then to really accept it instead of going around feeling a sense of shock all of the time – shock and red alert. Like I have no control over my own being.

          My only defense is NC and I am ever so grateful for that because that does make a difference.

          My heart goes out to you too. We were so innocent and we did love soo much and we were so very cruelly taken advantage of in the worst way possible.

          (Not sure if this helps or not but I have a friend who was discarded after 7 years with a man, they were going to get married but he did the discard before that happened, and it took her 12 years to feel like she had any equilibrium back in her life……)

          Thanks for sharing.

  • My rule when co-parenting was always distill messages to the cheater ex down to one sentence. That is all you ever need: who, what, why, when, where. And the “why” here is not metaphysical or emotional, but only the task to be accomplished (e.g., bassoon lesson).

    At times this compression exercise gave me a zen-like pleasure: to think of how much of myself, in words and thoughts, my ex no longer got to know. It reinforced the framework of: She doesn’t *deserve* to be in my life.

    • Same. I made a game of trying to use the fewest words possible.

      And then, when my youngest child turned 18, I happily blocked him on my email. I had already blocked all other means of communication. If that asshole wants to communicate with me he has to use snail mail. And then I probably won’t read it.

    • This is absolutely necessary, but even though it’s the best approach it doesn’t guarantee smooth interactions.

      My XW has several times accused objected that, when she asked me a simple yes/no question, I answered simply yes or no. She asserts that a one-word answer is inherently hostile and aggressive. (I do understand what’s going on: when I don’t engage in chit-chat, she correctly interprets this as evidence that I don’t want to be her friend. In her world, I am not allowed to choose to not be friends with her).

      The minimalist approach that nomar describes is the *best* approach, in the sense that anything else is worse, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t incur blowback. I’ve tried a half-dozen times to be friendlier (explaining my responses, engaging in informal back-and-forth negotiations, etc.) and every time I ended up regretting it: XW used the additional information to insult, manipulate, or lie.

      • IG,

        Before NC a wise friend kept repeating to me, ” ‘No’ is a complete sentence.”

        I too got slammed when I used it, and to be truthful because I knew what was coming, I added, “No, I don’t.”

        The harsh response was immediate.

        That was before NC.

        No win as you say.

        Double standard – they can, we can’t.

        Well, and this is an old fashioned saying, in my book, “What is good for the gander is good for the goose.”

        🙂

        • Yep. After I received the first screed from XW about how a simple “no” is rude, I reasoned that I could suck it up and throw in some meaningless pacifying language if that would smooth things over. So the next time, I replied “no, that doesn’t work for me”.

          XW responded with a multiparagraph email about how my writing “for me” proved that I was only thinking about myself, and never took the kids’ interests into account, and that she didn’t accept my “no” and I needed to try again, this time with a reason for my “no” that was acceptable to her.

          Now I don’t give reasons any more. This is just one example of what I mean when I say I have tried many times to be more friendly, but now I’ve just given up.

          • IG.

            Yep. Crazy making in that no matter what you do it is never good enough or right etc. Like trying to hit one of those pop-up-animal-things at a carnival.

      • My Ex complained that this type of super brief response was rude. So I switched to,

        Hi!

        No

        Have a good day!

        Shockingly, he was not better pleased with this approach! As ChumpLady says, the ‘motherfucker’ was silent, but Ex heard it loud and clear. Hihihi

    • I have also practiced brevity with much success! This could even warrant a CL column– examples of messages/engagement that are too long vs. zen-bringing grey rock.

    • I have mastered it when writing but it’s much harder with face to face contact.
      I have a mental list of all the possible inflections for the use of “Hmm” –
      noncommittal, mild surprise, disapproval, etc.
      It’s strangely rewarding to walk away from a conversation without having uttered anything else.

    • I never reply to the sentences that contain the emotional manipulations and accusations. I usually write 1 or 2 sentences that directly address the question or information needed. Quite often he will accuse me of violating a court order (and he’s magnanimously allowing it to slide) or he will be violating the order and asking/hoping I won’t object/notice. When that happens I cut and paste the relevant passage of the court order and add: “As per our Court order (or State statute or whatever) X is to happen this way. And I end with “I will continue to adhere to our Court Order.) Shuts him right up.

      • “I never reply to the sentences that contain the emotional manipulations and accusations. I usually write 1 or 2 sentences that directly address the question or information needed.”

        That’s my strategy, too. I just pretend like I haven’t seen them. And when I’m the one instigating the contact, I never include anything other than the business for which I need to contact him. BIFF it is. And BIFF is all he’ll ever get from me, until I am able to stop all contact whatsoever.

    • Totally agree especially the framework of: He doesnt *deserve* to be in my life nor occupy any mental real estate

  • One year 2 months of no contact
    In the beginning the hardest part was cutting his family off. I really loved his mother and his brother. Some of his best friends even became very cherished friends of mine.
    But you must give to cesar what belongs to cesar.
    Now looking back, i can say this was the hardest part, once i accepted the betrayal.
    I am an expat, his family became my family. And letting them go was painful, albeit necessary.

    His mother still texts me every now and then. I maintain BIFF and answer always politely, cordially but briefly and never give any details of my life away.

  • I’m so good at this. While it’s a bit long-winded to try to tell you what to say, plus many people express themselves differently. I would suggest where to put your focus, put it firmly on what you are doing after this conversation, what is for dinner? what film will I watch later? I can’t wait to talk to my friends. Etc.

    It’s sort of like looking through someone. In fact I highly recommend literally looking through them if you’re on the doorstep, what’s that just over their shoulder?

    I’m honestly telling you, this stuff doesn’t bother me anymore and in time it won’t bother you.

    Another favourite technique – visualisation. Here’s some ideas for things to visualise during a conversation:

    You are talking to a mentally unstable person, it’s not their fault.
    You are talking to someone else’s child who is misbehaving, their parent is coming back soon, you don’t want to be in trouble for reacting.
    You are doing an unpleasant task like cleaning the toilet or paying a tax bill, it’s necessary but will be over soon.
    Think about your most supportive friend and you can talk to them later to air your grievances.

    Good luck people.

    • You describe a highly effective technique to use for all varieties of unpleasant personalities. In FOO there is almost always an annoying aunt, uncle, cousin, or in my case, father, who dominates the conversation at family events, with a barrage of unwelcome information. My siblings and I have created several courses of action: don’t go, go to another room, change the subject, sit silently and endure while taking a mental vacation, or creating a to do list or grocery list mentally. One holiday we all took a scenic tour of several public rooms in my parent’s home, taking turns with being the last hostage in the room. As long as they drone on and feel they are the center of attention, they are happy. You perfect the art of being present physically, but absent emotionally. It equated to survival for many years while we survived the dreaded drone of terror.

      It is easier to leave a spouse than a family member, even with children, because eventually kids grow up. If you don’t react, it takes away all the fun for them. If you have to conduct business, or devise a rescue mission for the victim of the day, it becomes a team effort, and can actually become humorous at a later time.

      After awhile, you really don’t get bothered as much. It is an odious process. I believe, in some cases, it is a form of mental illness. I choose to believe that no one would want to be regarded as someone to avoid. Even the most charming sociopath cannot fool all the people, all the time. Eventually the mask slips and the recipient of the barrage of unwanted information realizes they stepped into the audience role for the event no one wants to attend.

      • “After awhile, you really don’t get bothered as much. It is an odious process. I believe, in some cases, it is a form of mental illness.”

        I understand this more than I wish that I did. After decades of desperately seeking my disordered parents’ approval, now,,. I do not give a fuck. I think that children are hard-wired to love their parents. It takes a lot to kill that.

        In my teens and 20s & 30s, their disinterest in me/my kids broke my heart regularly. In my 40s, I was circumspect, gave up and distanced myself from them. In my 50s with much more money than they have and a spouse who is the Current Favorite, they suddenly like me and act “close” as if its always been this way…it seriously creeps me out.

        Portia, thanks for this safe spot to process that…Im on an endless journey to find peace in this experience

        • Wow, Unicornomore, this is exactly what happened to my sister. My father treated all of us as unwelcome rivals when he wasn’t ignoring us or getting ego kibbles from impression management. But he was actively and aggressively mean to my siblings and financially abandoned the younger one when she was in her late teens and became disabled. It was a few years after my mother died, leaving us older siblings to support her through it when we were only just starting out in life ourselves. The younger sister’s disease went into remission after some years, and later in her thirties she married a wealthy man. Suddenly my father and his new wife went all out to woo the new husband, and my father began pretending that the younger sister was always his beloved favorite. He even recently altered his will to favor her and to essentially disinherit the rest of us, provided she stays married to her wealthy husband. It is very creepy; and controlling, as I believe his shifting favoritisms are mainly an effort to make us pick-me dance. Neither his bad treatment nor his good treatment had anything to do with any of our intrinsic worthiness or behavior. If I have to have anything to do with him now, the mantra I use in order to keep his machinations out of my head is, “Negative or positive, nothing he says or does about us is based on reality–he only sees himself” (short form: “Nothing he says is real”). I approach necessary contact with him like dealing with a wild animal in the woods– observe clearly, stay wary, stay strong, keep distant, take nothing personally.

          • Wow… that is crazy. I squeaked through nursing school (entering as a teen to become financially independent as fast as possible) and was 20 starting my first job but wouldnt get my first paycheck for a month. They were building a mansion on the fancy side of town. I asked for $50 to eat hot dogs and macaroni and they said no. They threw me under busses on the regular. In the last few years, dad blew their respectable nestegg on bad ideas trying to get rich (cringe) and mom refused to work (it was beneath her). I dont want to be responsible for them. She has dementia and if he dies first, my bro and I will have to pay for a nursing home. I am a few weeks from a Masters Degree and in the pandemic I have given or drawn up 1000 shots but my dad contacted me the other day to tell me he wishes he could buy a Rolls Royce(??!?) “Im proud of you” is still way past him”. Tell your sis that her soul-sister says hi.

            • Unicornnomore. NO, YOU are NOT responsible to pay for parents nursing home/AL/IL,,,,,. If they are unable to pay, they can get on Medicaid. Don’t let them keep the chains of dependency on you!

    • For a long time Ex tried to get me to provide the attention he was used to, telling me about his work, stuff about his apartment …. . I usually pretty much ignored this. A couple of times I listened to him calmly for a few minutes, making no reply and just looking at him neutrally. Then when he paused, looking for a response, I’d just say ‘I don’t know why you’re telling me this’. Then I’d move on with getting the kids or whatever I was there for or he was there for.

      Drove him nuts, which is a bonus. Eventually shut him down; the main goal.

  • After getting an almost 20 page document from his attorney with his false accusations of me being emotionally and verbally abusive, I have just shut off any supply. He has manipulated and set up conversations to record, all just his spineless attempt at a defense. He also has refused to move out so we’ve been stuck together. I really started noticing how everything he does is for some attention or to illicit a response for anyone! It’s so twisted. I just try to avoid eye contact ant even looking at him. Covert manipulators are so good at the no verbals, if you take that away by not looking it makes it much easier. And just realizing they are weak shitty people that just thrive on conflict. Shut it down, don’t give them the satisfaction of any big response. I’m hoping with more of this he’ll get board and move along.

  • I’m mostly NC with my ex but recently had to exchange some tax information. All correspondence was completely devoid of emotion but friendly, in a corporate way.

    During this exchange of tax info, he asked me if I was still using our old accountant. I was about to answer his question because I’m conditioned to do so, but then I had this sudden realization that he has no right to that information. So I didn’t answer. It was freeing.

    GR and NC ARE the magic elixirs CL describes in LAC; GAL. Truly magic! They deprive cheaters of a previously bottomless kibble source, and they preserve Chump power and sanity.

  • Fuckwit is blissfully silent. I went no contact but I’m sure he says it’s he who went no contact—meh. Now trying to navigate the desire of my daughter and myself to buy a house together but daddy dearest helps her with her current house. She knows I don’t want him or his slut anywhere near me. It’s because of him I can’t own a home and retire, I have to choose. This why it makes sense for my girl and I to do this. She is single too( bit of my kids are and I can’t help thinking it was the chaos they lived in that make them so adverse to marriage). Anyway my heart goes to those who are dealing with fuckwits who try to break no contact.

    • I found myself doing the math of how it would likely turn out. I sorted out there were a few options. If I hired a PI to get evidence of his adultery sufficient for the courts in my state, then I would get a larger share of the marital assets and I could retire when I originally planned. Without that evidence if everything is split 50/50, I will wind up working longer but still eventually be able to retire. And I know I can retire just fine if I buy the house we’re in from him and finance it myself but if I have to buy a different house, it will likely mean I will have to work longer. I have a child and he and I are both very tied to this area (great support network) so any new home I buy will be within a mile of where we are now and most of them cost more than this one. But when I put it all together, I always conclude that life without a FW will always be worth whatever sacrifices I have to make. And in the end, I don’t mind working; I just mind working in a high pressured career where I don’t get to control how any of my earnings are spent. Having freedom is always worth it. I’m glad you and your daughter are sorting things to help you achieve your goals. You burden is surely lighter without him weighing you down!

  • The silent treatment was his weapon of abuse. He didn’t speak to anyone in our family for almost the entire summer once. I finally understood that he obviously has no respect for people – inc his wife (me at the time) that he can’t be bothered to speak to properly. Silence can be either abusive or golden, and since I no longer respect him back, my silence is golden.

    • For most of our 35-year marriage, my covert-narc ex was a master of punishing with silence. I was the talker! So, it came as a shock to his system when this chatty chump went silent. At first, he truly lost his shit!!! He sent 20 emails in 10 minutes, begging me not to cut him off.

      In a desperate last move, he said he needed me to be available 24/7 because I was his emergency contact. I calmly showed my Luddite ex how to label my number in his contacts as his emergency contact. I assured him that EMTs would be able to find it.

      By then I had removed him as MY emergency contact. I mean, duh!

      Btw, only those who’ve been punished with the silent treatment can appreciate how much it hurts. I excused it (spackled), convincing myself that he was simply a quiet guy. 😳😡

      • Oh shit I love that! My lawyer is currently crafting a letter telling him that I don’t need to meet with him alone. Yes, in spite of all of his shit, he keeps requesting to meet with me alone, just the two of us, to negotiate the property. Are you fucking kidding me? I’ve told him no for the past 18 months. I said I would do anything but meet him alone – with friends, with mediators, with lawyers, with family, etc etc. The lawyer is going to tell him that no, she does not have to sit in a room alone with you as she does not feel comfortable (to get more abuse, manipulation, and mind fuckery). It’s a hard pass, no!

    • My STBX abused me with silence and stonewalling and did everything last minute. He still does. If I make a request of him now, he waits until the day to decline what I need. He does it in a way that makes it look like my request was unreasonable. It took me a long time to see the pattern. For example he waited until the last day to say that he wouldn’t pay half of our daughter’s camp fees so she and I were both on edge waiting for him. And he kind of thinks, “why are you mad? I answered you didn’t I?” He words all correspondence to make it look like he’s really actually doing something but he’s not. It ties me up in knots. I’m not at all grey rock. I freak out and get wild every time it happens. He doesn’t know it, but I lose it 🥲

      • I would say the due date is earlier than it actually is so you stress about it less. And for something like that, I would say that you understand they will accept payment a few days “late” but then a “late fee” must be paid. So he would be unlikely to blow the first deadline you set.

        I hate dealing with FWs.

      • For some reason passive aggressive personality disorder has been taken out of the diagnostic manual. It’s a real personality disorder. I know two people who had it even though it is little known. One I worked with. He was so scary because everything in our office had a legal component to it and he never, ever, did anything on time. Ever. Never ever. In many cases he just simply did nothing and people who were in the office were vulnerable. I’m talking federal. Scary as hell. Each one of us found another job and bailed as soon as possible. The other one was someone my daughter knew in college. She would often times be eight and nine hours late. She flunked out of college because she would not do her work nor would she show up for class. What she did to her so-called friends was the same. She died in her 20s. I don’t know of what. Personality disorders are permanent. Keep that in mind when you’re dealing with him. I don’t care what the experts say I’ve seen one and tried working with one and I can tell you they scare the hell out of you because they never keep their word. When I left I took paperwork with me that would have gotten me in serious trouble had anyone known. I kept it for 10 years until I knew he was long gone out of that office and then I burned it.

  • I was a VERY slow learner. I spent 25 years reading marriage books that told me to “go to your husband and tell him how you feel” which would ALWAYS end in a barrage of abuse from him.

    At the end, in my ill-advised and ill-informed (based on lies) wreckonciliation, I realized that the only way to deal with him was a version of BIFF.

    I would figure out what I needed to say, present myself at the door to his office, say it as quickly as possible and run away.
    “daughters ballet is 6pm, I will leave at 5:15 if you wish to ride with me. Sweatpants are inadequate attire”
    ::::::run:::::::

    the sweet/sad thing about this is that I was so proud of myself for figuring out a way to avoid abuse

    again, it took me a LONG time to begin to see this all clearly. 9 days before he died, I entered his office to find him really angry. I had (by then) the good sense to not even ask why he was mad. It was our anniversary and I had planned (red flag) for us to go to a nice dinner. He told me he didnt want to go out (red flag) and ordered pizza.

    He eventually said “do you want to know why Im mad?” sure. “I applied for a job should have gotten and they didnt hire me.” just for giggles, I said “where is this job?”
    answer: 3000 miles away. I didnt even react…just turned towards computer and resumed whatever it was I was doing.

    I had told God that I released him to go…no more “but we’re MARRIED, we have CHILDREN” groveling. Ive told the story here many times but I expected him to leave for California, instead, he went to Purgatory.

    • You only have a conversation about your feelings, or what is wrong, with someone who cares about either. The communication advise works if you have not articulated your situation to someone who can and will do something about it. Remember no to throw pearls before swine. (They have no appreciation.) It is true that people cannot read your mind. It is also true that some people do not care what you think or feel, or if they have hurt you. Some people actually enjoy knowing they have done just that.

      • There-in lies the problem. I thought he cared on some level…that he just struggled with ____ when he lashed out and if he understood ____ he would be nicer. I was wrong on all counts.

        I was too scared to admit the full reality of it to myself at the time (it would have begged a decision about What To Do about it),

        Since then, I have gotten angry with myself for not leaving him, but in reality, his ability to manipulate was so keen, he would have known EXACTLY the number and nature of crumbs to throw at me to keep his cake. That was the pattern and it worked until he breathed his last.

  • My BIFF filter was built on the notion of “if a Judge has to read this, what do THEY need to know”?

    I only use text (and very rarely because it is more cumbersome to document) and email now when I communicate with Mr. Sparkles… but I got here in baby steps:

    1. No longer crossed the threshold of his house when I went to pick up our son. (When he first discarded me, he would invite me over to watch movies when our son was on visitation at his house.)

    2. Only responded to text messages with single words: “Ok” “Sure” “No” and then when I learned emojis I started using them 🙂

    3. Email… ah, email… courts love email… and I follow the BIFF to the letter. It is hard and yet, with practice, it actually becomes a really efficient way to communicate so you have more time for you! Make it a challenge to yourself!

    TGIF Chump Nation – you’ve got this!

    • Icanseethemehcoming exactly this. I cut him off calling first then cut him off text( too hard to follow the conversation for printing). He still has email to this day but we are no contact. When I received a nasty email about the capital gains I claimed on my income tax(which I warned him I would be claiming and was prepped by depositing appropriate funds to my RRSP to offset), I did not reply, I just had my accountant send the numbers he was asking for. He didn’t heed my warning and obviously got busted by the CRA. Karma…

      • Their entitlement leads them into all sorts of trouble in addition to losing us …. Glad to know the CRA got him!

    • Yes, document with email. Every time the ex and I have a conversation and reach a decision relating to our daughter, I send an email summarizing it and request his confirmation. I do this in a way that seems like I’m a little forgetful and just want to be sure I got it right. Because, dude has a history of lying. This way, at least I have some evidence to show a judge, if it comes to that.

    • I have found that a single ‘K’ is a sufficient response to texts that piss me off, whether from Nitwit or anyone else.

  • What really helped shut down the emotional emails from my ex was forwarding all that shit to my lawyer.

    Turns out, my dumb-ass ex was a quick learner. Forcing him to pay extra $$ to his own lawyer who had to respond to MY lawyer was one hell of an incentive.

    Plus, those emails revealed his true nature. I bet his own lawyer started to hate him, too. Just sayin’.

  • I was grey rock an entire year, while he was on hospice, waiting for the big one to happen. It saved my sanity. Regardless of how he had treated his family, he expected everyone to be fawning over him. Being grey rock gave him nothing. Poetic justice, but lost on his narcissistic brain. After answering yes, no, ok I would stop talking period. He would say he needed food, me “ok”. He would start, ok what? He tried hard to get more every time. I refused. Lol, he complained to hospice, I refused to talk to him. I am a talker, if no one is around, I talk to my dogs. I will be talking in my grave. He knew this, drove him nuts. In my dreams, I yell, point out his BS etc., I know this would have been lost on him,. Still waiting for meh, but after 42 years and 46 together! It maybe a while.

  • I’m getting there, minus the Friendly part. I was friendly throughout our marriage, catering to him and putting my needs and interests aside for 20 years.

    Now I’m difficult. I’ve never been purposely difficult with anyone in my life before, usually beating myself up over every interaction.

    He didn’t earn friendly when he lied, cheated, stole, and then dumped me and the kids. He desperately wants everything to be OK, and I won’t affirm his behavior or show the kids that you gloss things over like his family does.

    • I might challenge you to consider that you’re actually not being difficult, if you’re strictly following grey rock. Grey rock, in effect, is neutral. You’re just not being overly accommodating. The fuckwit may interpret this as difficult, but it’s not.

      This is a detail that my lawyer clarified to my ex during some correspondence where he insisted I was ignoring him…”My client is appropriately responsive and has no obligation to meet your unique criteria for communication or reply to each and every unrelated and unfounded accusation and insult that you convey to her.”

    • ‘Friendly’ in the BIFF just means ‘polite’ or ‘friendly in the way the bank is friendly when it writes to you’. It CERTAINLY doesn’t mean glossing over his crap!

      Actually purposely being difficult is something you may feel you need to do, but if that’s what you’re doing, it keeps you still emotionally tied to him. Letting go can be facilitated by “fake it ’til you make it”. Act like you don’t care, and it will help you not care, sooner! It also makes it really clear who the nasty person is.

  • My contact is down to the bare minimum. Over the course of the pandemic, I noticed an increase in communication from the former. I constantly needed to reinforce my boundaries concerning our communication. I also found the text notification was a trigger so I turned the setting to mute. Turns out there was a reason behind the increased communication- the “soulmates” 4 1/2 year relationship had come to an end. Too bad so sad….

  • Long ago I put BIFF as his name on my phone. That way, I got the visual reminder to be BIFF if he called.

    And it also stands for Biff, in Back to the Future. A very fitting double entendre.

    “Now Biff! Don’t con me!”

    https://youtu.be/bqIaElSw8Iw

    I have to be Minimal Contact as we have a child and own a business together. It is my new #1 life goal to never see his face, hear his voice, or speak to him ever again as long as I live.

    It’s progress, and practice, not perfection. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a relapse. Wash off the manure and learn from it. I don’t always answer the phone if he calls. I take a moment to rehearse Gray Rock and then call him back after reminding myself I am calling BIFF. As has been said, it gets easier when who they are starts sinking in and who you thought they were fades away. This takes TIME.

    • PS….I love Homicide Hunter Joe Kenda, a Gray Rock god. I use his picture as the traitor’s contact photo. It’s Joe Kenda’s suspicious, doubtful you-are-so-full-of-shit expression.

      I remember seeing him interviewed before he was on Homicide Hunter. He was talking about how it’s much scarier to lower your voice, not yell, and be cool as ice when engaging with suspects. I instantly liked him. And he’s right. PRACTICE.

      • PS…

        Very much worth the money was the communication protocols agreed upon and put into a document by Dr. Co-Parent, the Jedi coparenting therapist. It is brief and spells out communication conduct in detail. Because he rewrites history, of course he started tweaking the agreements. I responded by emailing him a copy of the agreement, no pleasantries from me attached.

  • Being able to distinguish between my Ex trying to hook me into a conversation that I need not participate in (eg did you see that [a particular female comedian that she liked] had died …. blah blah blah rose coloured reminiscences etc etc) as opposed to something that I had to engage with (eg kids logistics) was key.

    Sadly, she does not understand that treating your husband and kids like sh*t and then walking out on them to be with your AP leads to consequences; witness her complaining to one of our daughters about 6 months after she walked out that “Dad never makes time to just talk to me anymore.” Daughter nailed it though – “If you did to me what you did to him I would never speak to you again.”

    Kids’ logistics gets a civil, short and factual response. Anything else gets crickets. Once youngest is 18 it will be crickets pretty much all the way.

    LFTT

    • I’m minding my own business at Costco, looking at the items on the shelves, and behind me I hear, “Hey, Velvet Hammer! What a surprise!”

      I turn around and it’s Traitor Joe. WTF?! Like I’m some friend he hasn’t seen for awhile.

      I said, “Yes. It is. I’m just going to head that way.” And I walked away.

      It was bizarre and very sad. I would not have known he was there if he had not said anything. I have no idea why he did that….if it was me I would have snuck away without engaging.

      Weird how in 27 years together I never one time ran into him when we were both away from the house, but since he left it’s happened a few times.

      No, we are not friends. The most apt term is “associate”, as I have to do that on a couple of fronts.

      Blecch.

      • VH,

        I am thankful that Ex-Mrs LFTT lives about 70 miles from where I and our youngest daughter (17) live. There is pretty much no chance that we’ll ever “bump into” each other like that ….. which works for me and works for youngest daughter too.

        LFTT

      • Velvet, trust that he is using some way to “bump” into you. Next time maybe, turn around and say “Oh god” like you just smelled 💩. Then walk away.

      • UPDATE…

        I just ran into him AGAIN.

        My daughter has been bugging me to leave the house all afternoon. I finally left and drove south on the freeway for a half hour. I get off the freeway and I am at the light, and who is at the light across the intersection? Traitor Joe.

        For Pete’s sake. What the hell are the odds of this?!

    • My ex-wife when I last seen her 6 weeks ago cried and complained with her little pity party that I never talk to her. I blocked her on everything except email for the kids.Yeah sweetie you cheated with dozens of men and somehow think I should talk to you? Then she threw in the best part about how she can’t have what she wants as social services won’t let her be with me. Social services got involved after she went telling tales and had me arrested and removed from the home.

      I’m grey rock. I simply don’t even reply to her emails. She always finds an excuse to email me. last email was ended with her asking if I was OK. Deleted straight away.

      • So she got you removed from the home and now complains you’re not around any more? Words fail me. They truly do not understand the link between their actions and the natural consequences thereof.

        I hate women like your ex-wife with a passion. They make it harder for genuine abuse victims to be believed.

  • Use One Mom’s Battle Canned Responses!!! – https://1xbrz4wabfc1f23o81uli171-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/OMB-Lets-Talk_Canned-Responses.pdf (Google it if the link doesn’t work)

    I’m in legal proceedings, and not replying to accusations can look like you are guilty, so I use “Your allegations are untrue, but your attempt to portray me in a negative light has been noted” or “Your recap of events is inaccurate, but I do not wish to engage in an argument.”

    You aren’t wasting time or energy defending yourself, but you are putting an objection to the statement in writing for court.

    For those co-parenting with a nasty ex with years of potential legal battles ahead,you have to be more strategic about communicating.

    • This is GOLD!! Thank you for sharing!! 😍

      A chump Cheat Sheet to review before responding with traitors!

    • These are great, very similar to what a friend advised me to do when responding to either ex or his father’s communications (and the father turned out to be as callous and manipulative as his son).

      No children, so thankfully no need for ongoing contact (he did claim that he wanted to visit our pets that he discarded along with me, but after his threats and fantasies of violence that he shared with OW, I noped that notion).

  • Strategy 1: Since we have 3 kids (two 19 year olds and a 16 year old) and I can’t go completely radio silent:

    I set his contact in my iPhone to be silent (not even a vibrate) when he calls/texts me.

    That way I don’t feel the urge to answer immediately showing him that even tho HE thinks whatever it is he has to say is important-it’s not important to ME.

    He’s gotten this reception from me since I moved out almost 3 years ago. It used to frustrate the hell out of him-now-he knows what to expect from me.

    Strategy 2: Up until about 3 months ago, whenever he would come pick up our youngest he would get out of his car, walk over to ANY of my neighbors who happened to be outside, and say, “Hi! How are you today? You know-I’m really not a bad guy!”

    At first it would make me so mad. Now-I just leave him alone. There’s no way I could make him look more pathetic or crazy than he already makes himself look. 🤣🤣

    • “You know-I’m really not a bad guy!”

      OMG!! Beyond pathetic!! I hope the neighbors nod politely and don’t respond.

      My ex would be too shy to approach a former neighbor, so I guess he would be spared this indignity.

      I sure hope my ex worries that people think he’s a bad guy. For all his life, he’d been sitting atop a moral white horse. His shit didn’t stink. The wonderful Dr. X! He’s fallen off that saddle. Life must not look the same from underneath a horse.

      • Not to mention if he stays under the horse long enough he will be covered in horse shit. A fitting punishment.

      • I don’t think they actually CARE that people think they might be bad people-I think they just can’t fathom why 🤣🤣🤣🤣.

        So pathetic.

  • The narcissistic ex Dr. Cheaterpants is so needy (I confused that for love for 20 years) that I just had to cut him off completely. In my mind and in dealing with him. I changed his contact info for him as “Kids Father” so when I get a text from him, it keeps me focused on what role he plays in my life now.

    If it’s related to kids, I reply BIFF. If it’s related to anything else, I don’t reply. My kiddos were teens at the time of divorce and are now both in college. That makes it easier for me, no hostage exchange. He had texted me trying to draw me in kid related early on. Texted to say he was going out of town (tropical vacation with young schmoopie) and whether I thought our 18 year old son could stay at his house with friends over to use the hot tub. I simply replied ‘your house, your rules’.

    When I read this one on BIFF and the motherf*$@er is silent, I really spit my coffee. Pick up kid at 4 pm (motherf*#@er)– hilarious!!

    • I did this phone contact change too. Ex followed suit because likely he was butt-hurt. The funny thing is, I had to bust his role down in my mind, but in even acknowledging that I’m the mother of his child, he elevated my role from whatever he really thinks of me based on how he treated me and our marriage.

      Silently adding the MFers as well now LOL

  • The only message I ever received after my husband blindsided me by leaving me for his bandmate at the very beginning of the pandemic was a consolation text after my sister died (D-Day was when I finally tracked him down on Instagram where the OW had publicly posted all of their adventures together. There, among other posts, was a series of him and her performing in her bedroom in costume. He was wearing a blue wig and various masks…to disguise himself I guess. He was also drunk and high a lot and in one, rubbing her down with lotion while she wore a retro bikini). My sister was severely disabled and in our previous married life, he had agreed to supervise her care in the unlikely event that she outlived my entire family. He was even written into my father’s will and provided with funds to lesson this burden). My family had always thought that he loved her, but the text only read “I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of X. If you want to talk on the phone, call me and I will be here for you.” This was immediately enraging, because if he was here for me he would be with me now, but instead was either fucking or running around Brooklyn with Schmoopie. I was in the car with my dad, and it took all my energy to not reply “Go fuck yourself,” but then I thought….no, you get nothing and did not reply at all.

    A few observations on the text:
    1. His poor mother made him do it. She was scandalized by her son’s behavior and I think was trying to convince herself and the world he wasn’t a complete asshole.
    2. He was too much of a coward to actually reach out himself, but put the burden on me, knowing I would not. That way he could feel like a decent person but not actually do anything.
    3. I received thoughtful condolence notes from people I haven’t seen in 30 years (my sister was very loved), but the man who was part of our family for 12 years couldn’t be bothered. After all, he was working on an album!

    My dad died six months later and there was nothing from the ex (which I guess was expected, but which is still really despicable). It’s been a crushing year.

    • I’m so sorry. Three major losses for you in a year–I can’t even imagine. My heart breaks for you, Queen Maeve.

      I, too, wanted my ex to care about me or at least acknowledge me for quite a while–at least a year and change after DDay. But when I finally got honest with myself about the kind of man he really was (instead of clinging to the idealized version I had papered over him for our entire 20-year relationship), I quickly realized three things: (a) I didn’t care what a man like that thought about me, and frankly, I didn’t want him to think about me at all; (b) he could never give me back what he had taken, so I needed nothing from him–not even an apology; (c) since DDay he had only ever communicated with me to hurt me. Every communication, no matter how sincere/friendly it seemed on the surface, had turned out to be a knife. He wasn’t going to magically turn into a different person, and I didn’t need to be stabbed anymore. Realizing those three things took away any desire for communication with him.

      Big ((hugs)) Hang in there. It will absolutely get better.

      • Thank you. I haven’t completely been able to reconcile who I thought he was verses who he actually is (a man who abandoned his wife in the pandemic without warning and allowed everything to be put on Instagram for her to find). I know logically he is not what I thought he was, but my heart still rebels every once in a while and turns the blame on myself. My only consolation is that he shocked the hell out of everyone–including his family, so it wasn’t just me.

    • Queen Maeve not surprising with these fuckwits. My brother died of cancer. Crickets from him. We were married for 36 years. He knew my brother from when he was a teenager for his entire life. I don’t think he even expressed sympathy to our children.

    • I am so very sorry for the loss of both your sister and father this year, QM.
      After reading your post, I am immediately re-aligning plans for my severely disabled sister’s
      care should she outlive me. My Knave-man, who says he would always be there for her regardless,
      would no doubt abandon her just as he did his marriage vows – another potential facet of his betrayal to consider. Best wishes to you.

    • I’m so sorry-he sucks.

      My mom passed away January 20th. My kids told him.

      He called twice, left 2 voicemails and a text to say he was sorry.

      I didn’t acknowledge any of them.

  • No magic tricks here because I’m a chump. However , this site has given me the tools to mustard NC and I have in my own version. It drives fw crazy because the ball is in his court constantly. I only reply when he texts. I don’t call him, I don’t email him. I don’t remind him. I don’t ask him to see the kids. I don’t send him pictures. Nope.

    That way, he is the one that has to schedule visits and ask questions. I only talk when talk to, so he has to make the effort and so get the privilege of documenting his own efforts. I never interfere nor aide. It’s all on him.

    To me it’s refreshing because he used to say that I “suffocated him”. Well there, NC and now he has to contact me. I sent ONE picture ONCE of the kids, and he accused me of “manipulating him with the children”, do now no pictures for him, if he cared he would take pictures of the kids himself. He said to me that he had to “force himself to reply to my texts and answer my calls”, so there you go, NC for him and now he has to call.

    We still have to talk and see each other for the kids, but I am not initiating contact and keep it to the bare minimum.

    When he visits that’s another story. I shake, cry and my knees go bendy. I try to be cool but can’t. Sigh… that is why I am the Queen if Chumps

  • Gray rock never worked brilliantly with the ex. Any opening at all was a sufficient target for abuse. So, moved all communication through lawyers, hired a firm that actually specializes in this crap to keep me safe when he came to the house to get things, and went zero contact after divorce was final.

    Still have to be vigilant, though. Had to ask a relative to please stop updating me about his Facebook missives, for instance.

    Hardest part is dealing with the adult kids, who come to me when traumatized by any and every bit of communication with him. They keep it distant and intermittently block him, but the latest has been rough: the gf is pregnant.

    Deep breaths. They have reason to find that disturbing. They’ve blocked him more steadily to avoid those updates, and have looked to me for support. Not much to do but describe the benefits of no contact, and remind them that they are worthy of abuse-free lives.

    Have been seeing lots of interviews, lately, with a psychologist who wants to solve the “problem” of estrangement.

    What he apparently fails to realize is that stepping entirely away from an abuser can be both the most courageous and the healthiest thing to do.

    Just consider any grain of info and any form of contact as poison (which it is) and proceed accordingly.

    • “What he apparently fails to realize is that stepping entirely away from an abuser can be both the most courageous and the healthiest thing to do.”

      Yes. And stepping away from Swiss friends and other non-supportive/toxicc people (in-laws etc…) is healthy, too!

  • One thing of grey rock method that I haven’t seen addressed is that my XW shows my kids every piece of communication between us. The kids have talked with me that if I was friendlier things would be more peaceful for THEM. That life would be better for THEM if my XW and I got on the same page. Now I always use please and thank you and am never rude. But my kids know me and know how I communicate with their mom is way different then how I am as a father and husband.

    • This is not OK! This is a major boundary violation on your XW’s part and emotional abuse.

      Can you call your lawyer for help?

      Yikes yikes yikes!!!

    • My response to the kids would be: “It’s not appropriate for adults to drag their kids into their private communications. That’s why I don’t share messages with you. It’s adult business. And you might think how you’d feel if someone shared your messages with a third party. This is all I have to say on this subject. Now let’s go get ice cream.”

      Some things you say to kids are statements, not discussion starters.

      • Exactly!

        I was so flipped out I couldn’t even come up with some good advice! I just proved my own point about pausing when agitated!

        My very next email to her, which would be copied to my attorney, would be:

        It’s come to my attention that you are sharing the emails between us with our children.

        This is inappropriate and unacceptable. Please cease and desist immediately.

        Thank you,

        Sirchumpalot

    • They always want us on the same page. The page they have written. Never do they want to own what they did and be on the truth page.

    • Yup, mine showed the kids all my court documents, not his of course.

      He has told them I used drugs (never), met my current bf when we were still married (absolutely not), I got all the money (hardly), I broke certain laws (no, he did). I could go on but it’s Friday.

      Sirchump, I face the same thing. He is a filthy dog yet the kids fault me for not being cordial enough with him. They don’t know 1/10 th of the abuse he put me through.

  • I got the Calm app in 2018 and use it daily. I got the lifetime membership for me and my daughter. I have never loved an app before and I LOVE this one.

    There is a section on breathing exercises which I have found REALLY helpful.
    Tactical breathing (or box breathing) works like cold water on hot and intense emotions. Doing some tactical breathing if triggered in any way, before responding to them, if you run into them in public, is ESSENTIAL. Breathing works in a way words can’t for deep anger.

    I have a friend who is a retired Navy SEAL and it’s part of their training.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2019/05/30/how-to-de-stress-in-5-minutes-or-less-according-to-a-navy-seal/

  • The minmal response drove ex crazy.

    I was sitting outside courtroom and I could actually hear his footsteps down the hallway. Neither lawyer had arrived. He stopped directly in front of me, a bit too close, and said “Hello Emma.” I looked up and said “Hello”. I looked back down to my Blackberry and he eventually clomped away but said audibly, “I was going to be nice … but now.” {Marital assets! I was the only one with assets to split.} His back was turned, so I flipped him the bird and everyone else sitting/waiting laughed. But no one looked at him. He was traipsing back over my way and I went into the ladies room until the courtroom doors opened.

    The other time was when we were in mediation. I thought we’d be present, but it was just lawyers and the mediator. I had 1 lawyer; he had 4 lawyers. When we departed the mediation room, we were in the law library, a rather large one with multiple rooms. He kept following me; where I sat, he sat in the next chair. I finally went to the librarian and asked if there was a place I could be by myself and said something like, I know this sounds crazy, but I believe he’s following me. The librarian said she had noticed it as well and gave me the key to the staff’s bathroom and then went to him and asked him something so I could slip in unobtrusively.

    It’s been 6 years and he still forwards any mail in a special envelope because he had ripped open something with my name on it. It always comes with a sticky note with some advice on it.

  • I am still freaking out about your XW showing the children your emails, Sirchumpalot!

    “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”
    (screaming of me, all five therapists and three lawyers involved in my case)

    I want to high five her face for you!

  • I have not looked online for the doings of him/her for a while. Sometimes the need to know if they are suffering comes up. I tell myself he’s an awful person and she was OK with knowing he was cheating on me, so they stink to start. And cheaters never cheat up.

    I still miss my kitties, which he refuses to share or even keep me informed of. Love you Squeaky!

  • I was discarded and didn’t have kids with Jackass, so gray rock is not required with him. Silence and no contact is golden. But XH the substance abuser can be (and often is) remarkably nasty and mean. Gray rock works like a charm with him. His latest issue is wanting me to make a will leaving things to his adult child. Seriously. Because his retirement medical policy covers me, he likes to hold that over my head. I respond with things like “Gee. You’re right. I need a will. Let me look into who is willing to be my executor and what I need to do about personal property that belongs in my family.”

    Then, COVID hit, and that’s the last I heard of it. When and if he brings it up again, I’m ready with a BIFF reply about my vague “plans.”

    • Loved a jackass, I guess I’m a trouble maker. I would have responded, I have a will. I’m leaving everything to the ASPCA. But thanks anyway.

  • Off topic, but this just in! Hugh Grant said he cheated on Elizabeth Hurley, because: “…… he was upset after watching one of his own movies.”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-9354333/Hugh-Grant-cheated-Elizabeth-Hurley-prostitute-bad-mood-watching-film.html

    Typical cheater. They all have to come up with some excuse for cheating, instead of saying the truth — they’re entitled, they cheated because they can and they wanted to. I highly doubt it was his first rodeo when he got busted.

    I will give him kudos for doing a great job portraying a narc/sociopath/psychopath in The Undoing.

  • “The MF is silent.” bwahahahaha

    First, my office is in the basement and his is 2 floors up. I start work early so he feeds kiddo breakfast. I make lunch and the child is sent downstairs to eat lunch with me and have recess. At the end of the day, I cook dinner. FW usually avoids this but if he shows up in the kitchen, short yes/no answers. He complains about everything. I ignore the sound and don’t let on any reaction. I don’t get upset anymore but holding back eyerolls is hard. Kiddo wakes up from late afternoon nap in time for dinner. We sit and eat. FW wolfs down food and complains about it and goes on about his day or takes turns criticizing kiddo’s table manners or something I did or didn’t do. Kiddo makes eye contact with me and it’s a knowing look. Kiddo and I eat at a normal pace and keep our mouths full so he can’t really force us to say anything. I send kiddo after dinner to wash hands and gather his school things to make sure he’s organized and all is done. I clean up and – again – FW is glued to his phone in the dining room so can’t possibly help clean. After kiddo goes to bed, FW hides in his office. On weekends, he hides in the garage.

  • When I was struggling with no contact I talked to my therapist about it. She told me, “What is it that you think you’re going to hear from him?”

    I had to be really honest with myself. And none of the things that I would need to hear from him (I’m sorry, I was wrong, I’m a piece of dog crap…) were ever going to happen. That helped me push forward. I have blocked him on social media, he doesn’t know my new phone number, I don’t text and I have him blocked on email. If I need him to know something it will come through my lawyer or through the realtor.

    Now if I’m required to talk to him, it is rare. I state the facts and then tell him that no response is required.

    If I feel like there’s something I need to email him about where I need him to help me, I phone a friend. He is not my go-to helper anymore. If I need a question answered or something like that I need to go to my trusted people. He is no longer one of my trusted people.

    And honestly, usually I can deal with everything on my own. Happy Tuesday.

  • After Dday and before the divorce was finalized, my ex sent me an email with the subject line: White Trash. In the body of the email, he wrote: “Do you think I’m white trash?” I think my lack of response spoke volumes and felt GREAT. 💪

    (Apologies for the politically incorrect/offensive descriptor.)

  • Early into the divorce/separation I was not aware of how powerful gray rock and NC was. I was so angry at him at first that I had to put him through my personal shredder. Once I discovered CL/CN then I applied these awesome tools to dismiss him. If I said anything to him it was calling him a coward (he hated that). He doesn’tt deserve my attention on any level.

    It has been 5 years post divorce after 31 yrs married. I still have to see him a grandchildrens birthday parties but I use the NC, gray rock strategy to get through the day. It makes him uncomfortable when I won’t stand next to him in a picture or make small talk. Since our kids are grown we don’t have anything to chat about. He repeatedly wanted to “just be friends” but I made it clear I would never be friends with someone like him. He is the outsider and finally the family and friends see he lives the life now that he alone created. NC Gray Rock is a great way to communicate his irrelevance to my life!!

  • I have very little contact with my EX now that our kids are all in their teens and can manage most things themselves. He has been trained by my Gray Rock behavior over the past 7 years, however. He used to call and get abusive very quickly, but I would tell him that if he didn’t stop, I would hang up. He wouldn’t stop. I’d hang up. He would call and call and call. And I would not answer. The fact that he could not subject me to diatribes infuriated him. (He ended up with a felony arrest due to his rage over this issue–he drove to my house to continue a conversation that I wouldn’t participate in and crashed his car into my house when I wouldn’t come out to talk to him, but that’s a different story.)

    Now when he feels the need to be abusive (at least 50% of all conversations), as soon as he’s lobbed a profanity or insult at me, he hangs up himself. Maybe he thinks the fact that I won’t be able to get in a response will upset me? I just think it is amusing. He is so determined to be in control that he cuts himself off rather than risk having me do it!

    • Crashed the car into your house? That sounds terrifying, Ellonwy! And stupid, so so so stupid …. Unbelievably stupid. Wow, sooooo stupid.

  • I have become the master of the one word response, mostly consisting of “No.” Sometimes I make prolonged expressionless eye contact before the “No”. In any case, no kibbles from me!

  • I had good luck with a method of just droning on and on about things he has zero interest in, and guiding the topic back to boring things whenever he tried to steer it away and back to himself. It always went back to himself because that was the only thing of interest to him.

    It avoided conflict because I wasn’t ignoring him, and giving him something to rail against. I was just dull and not interesting anymore and he would tune out and stop listening to me and then try to find a way to leave the convo himself like he does when he’s bored.

    They are all different but not engaging would have made me a shiny object of interest rather than a boring grey rock.

    I’ve since gone no contact but it worked well when I had to talk to him still.

  • This is one of the most painful things for me as well. I had a small immediate family, and after this year (with the death of both my sister and my father), I only have my mother left. I haven’t cut them off entirely, because I just can’t yet…but it’s awkward and painful.

    As for our friends, I kept everyone who was a mutual friend (his behavior shocked everyone). I don’t think he cares though, he discarded his entire old life and set up an entirely new life on the other side of the city.

  • Early in the divorce process, my attorney recommended going no contact. There were no custody issues, and he said that in his opinion, I was hurting myself and the legal process by remaining in contact. He told me to email my now-ex that my attorney was taking over and that he would send him a letter as well.

    Oh, my. That was absolutely a must. Instead of trying to interact with him, I focused on my future and the legal process. It was so very good for me because I regained my confidence and learned so much by watching my attorney apply his decades of experience. He ignored the mud, illegal, and crazy, and just kept pushing. His letters and emails were friendly but to the point. Ultimately we got a good negotiated settlement.

    Then I chose to open contact again on some parts of closeout. I was nearly broke and felt that I could handle it. I hated to pay my attorney/paralegal for stupid stuff like changing car titles. And I handled it! I kept my responses focused only on closeout issues and kept my attorney in the loop. I wasn’t rude or demanding and ignored the cr*p. Clearly nothing had changed, but I was moving forward to the final day when it would all truly be over. Yes, he was difficult and threw up roadblocks, but I kept going. And then there was the day when I hadn’t heard from him in months, and everything was completely done.

    No contact and gray rock worked!

  • I deal with my ex by text and it works perfectly. It’s typically about co-parenting stuff which fortunately has never been an issue.

    She shares a lot (by text) with me about her life trails and tribulations. I give her feedback in the same way I would give anybody else. I NEVER share anything about my personal life so I’m more like a Grey Rock that also dispenses wisdom.

    She flirts a lot. I NEVER take the bait…..my post divorce life is way too good to get mixed up with an ex.

  • Getting the nerve to not answer every text helped. He was going to smear me either way, so why engage all the time?

    Stick to the ‘Wow, Cool, Bummer’ answers if I must communicate.

    If I am forced to engage for some reason, and he gets too boastful ,,, I laugh. That drives him bananas. He wants to be seen as clever and having all the best people backing him. So laughing takes the air out of his balloon. But use it sparingly, it provokes backlash.

    Take a long hot shower after engaging with them, you will feel grubby and soiled. But you will remember why you are 1000X better off without such a POS in your day to day life.

  • Due to my FOO issues I knew how to gray rock before I knew what gray rock was. My favorite phrases during the period between filing for divorce and moving out were “That’s nice” “Not my problem any more” “A divorce is what you wanted and a divorce is what you’re getting”.

    Because I have no children I am able to go full NC. I worry that my stimulus check will go to the condo (I was the one who had to move out) since we filed jointly last year and he will be able to buy himself that flat-screen TV he demanded as a “parting gift” from me after all. Still, I’d rather eat the stimulus check than break NC and re-enter the mindfuck zone. That is how much having your head in the blender sucks.

  • I suck at Grey Rock, but getting better by the day. No contact is much easier…but co-parenting dang it.

    FW tries to avoid me anyway, by waiting in the car until the kiddo comes out to him (he texts her). But the other day we did a change over at a restaurant. He was late of course. When he walked in, I’d had a few drinks and all I could do was laugh. Then hastily depart.

  • We’ve been separated for 5 years and I’ve now perfected the whole grey rock method, but there was one issue that he would bring up concerning my son, which he knew would always illicit an extensive response. It would rear its ugly head every few months and I would ask him not to do what his course of action was to be as it would do our son no good.

    Anyway, I got a text before Christmas again about the same issue with my son and I was really sick of this constant poking, so my response was ‘If you feel this is the best action, please go ahead’. He replied ‘Ok’ and then there has been no action. He hasn’t done what he said he is going to do. He just knew at this stage this was the only way to get a reaction out of me and the last time he did it, it didn’t get the response he wanted. I don’t know why it took me so long to understand this. I guess he knows I will look out for my kids in the best way I can.

    On the whole, our communication is generally about the kids. I usually send him a message about homework that needs doing when he has them on a Saturday and then any other important information he may need to know.

    What a turd of a man I spent 13 years with and had 2 kids with. Still, onwards and upwards.

  • Well, this was supposed to go in yesterday, but the site was having issues, so here it is now:

    Hey Chump Nation,

    Sorry to interrupt this post but I just wanted to let you all know (especially the newbies) that almost four years after my XW of almost 25 years decided to have a secret affair w/her rich, older, politically powerful boss (at least in our state) instead of trying to work out any issues she might have had w/me (I was very depressed, burning out as a pharmacist after 20+ years, but still working to help support the family as best I could), and within a year of her asshole AP and future husband losing his job as chancellor of our little state’s college system (where the XW was his administrative assistant (gag me, what a horrible, pedestrian cliche) due to his political bungling of his job (I initiated the divorce after almost 6 months of playing the pick-me-dance, and she just recently announced they’re getting married. Whoopee for them. Two selfish assholes getting married? They deserve each other, don’t you think? I do), the XW has lost her political seat, which was given as a major reason for why she was leaving me/in love w/him, because he was going to “mentor and push her in her political career.” She’s a local politician, and lives an 1/8th of a mile behind me w/the asshole AP because she didn’t want to move out of our village and lose her political seat.

    Ok, that was a lot of info in a few overly long sentences. Sorry!

    Anyway, she was up for re-election last week after almost four years of no me in her immediate life (freedom from boring old love-you-till-we-die chump me!), and SHE LOST by four votes (she was also made chairperson of our town’s selectboard during this time. I know, town or village? It’s complicated). So, she was responsible for a lot of what was going on politically locally, and I guess people weren’t happy w/how she was doing it. Did they also know about her abandoning me and our family? I didn’t really keep super-quiet about it, so who knows how much that played into it. I tried not to shout it too loud out of respect for my kids’ embarrassment over all this (three total, all w/fuckwit XW).

    Well, they recounted the votes Monday, and she now officially lost by only TWO VOTES. One of which was mine. The other may have have been my platonic female pharmacist friend’s daughter who just turned 18 yo in time to vote. My friend didn’t vote, I believe. Long story as to why friend didn’t vote, and I’m not completely sure sure myself about it. She’s a Canadian w/dual citizenship. It’s complicated.

    Anyway, within a year’s time the karma bus has come for both the AP and the XW. I wasn’t expecting it (hoping for it? That’s another story), but I’ll take it. I can’t guarantee the karma bus will come like this for all of CN. But if we follow CL’s advice, we may just get a pleasant surprise. And fuckwit-free lives, at least!

    Wishing you all the very best, and that the karma bus may come your way when you least expect it. I know it did for me. Take care, everybody. And please forgive my interruption of this post’s subject. I’m experiencing severe schadenfreude right now, and it’s affecting my ability to think well. All puns intended.

    P.S. I’ve gone from being bad at grey rock to very good at grey rock at times. When I’m tired and not up to snuff, the FW XW might get a reaction out of me. Then there’s times like recently, when she announced she was marrying her FW AP. I waited 36 hours then replied to her email announcement w/“viewed.” That was it. I’m getting better at it!

    • “Viewed”

      Lol. Not a lot of kibbles there.
      Two votes. Too funny.

      I think it’s worth noting that job burn out (or attempting to making human beings into machines) can be so damaging.

      Hope you’re free from that also.

      • Yea, in some ways, 2 votes makes it all the more agonizing. They all think they are SO special. I would venture that thelongrun was probably pick-me dancing for longer than he has admitted to himself which likely made the job harder. You can only push so many boulders up hill at the same time. There were so many things I couldnt even try to do when I was being abused but now have time and energy for.

        • Not sure, Unicornomore. Unless you consider 27+ years of frequently trying to make her happy at my expense or to my detriment (not all the time. I absolutely had my own crap that I made her deal w/. But I never fooled around on her. I loved her fully in my own, imperfect way. I was loyal to her and our marriage and never strayed. She just didn’t care or couldn’t see that. Which is HER problem, not mine.

    • I love this story. And, yes, two selfish assholes do deserve each other.

      This takes “every vote counts” to a very personal level. Love it!!!

      Oh, and I’ve pocketed “viewed” for future use. Thanks.

  • Housekeeping: married 37 years, not yet divorced, endured 1.5 years separating under the same roof, am now nearly 3 years solo.

    Separating under the same roof was a hell like no other hell can compare. It was horrendously messy for me at first, but as soon as I realized he was feeding off my misery, I shut it down. I started out mastering the art of gray rock, and soon graduated to making him believe, by calculated action and demeanor, that I wanted the split more than he did.

    My switch in demeanor from the sad/angry/tortured pick-me dancer, to an enthusiastic and sometimes smiling, ‘let’s work faster and get this sucker done’…was excruciatingly difficult to pull off, yet drove him insane. It evolved fairly slowly, but once I successfully convinced him my new feelings were ‘real’ (they weren’t), he and the situation in general, became easier FOR ME to navigate because the balance of power and control returned to my side of the equation.

    I could write an entire novel on how emotionally challenging it was for me to keep up that façade for over a year, and what it did to me later on once I was on my own, but that wouldn’t stop me from doing it again in exactly the same way if I were faced with reliving that time frame a second time.

    The main reason I say this is power and control were everything to preserving my true mental and emotional well-being. Also, somewhere along the way a switch went off and I too started believing that splitting was what was truly needed in the name of preserving that emotional well-being. I DID want him gone by the end of it, and he became the one crying and begging me to ‘feel something’.

    Since the split, I’ve been 98% total NC. The remaining 2% is only to respond in a BIFF manner to things I can’t ignore like legal, or financial dealings. And today, though I’m still carrying my share of scars and still experience bumps occasionally, I am FAR happier and content with life, I’m getting to know ME again, and I’m in no rush to change any of that by putting myself out there again.

  • A few months after separation, I kept getting dragged into his abuse, via text message. I talked about it with my psych and recognised the pattern of the cycle of abuse (idealise= mr nice guy offering help and support with the kids; devalue = nit picking and trying to create an argument/reaction; discard = the blow out followed by silent treatment).

    My psych got me to journal it, to see if I could predict the cycles. Very quickly i was able to land on a 2-2-5 day cycle (2 days mr nice guy, 2 days picking and prodding, 5 days silent treatment). This technique meant I had control over it, and was better prepared to nip the idealise cycle in the bud and allow it to stop there (he’s pretty much caught in a loop of mr nice guy now, an act I no longer fall for).

    A few mantras help too:

    “Ask no questions get no lies” is my favourite. If he prods me for personal info, I’m ready to throw him this piece of kibble, but haven’t needed to yet.

  • I am mostly free from that, Langele. I’m working for FedEx now. It has some tough hours and environments, but so did pharmacy, and I feel a lot more valued. Customers are frequently happy to see me and thank me for doing my job. I RARELY got that in pharmacy, and never to this degree. Thanks for caring. I hope you’re free as much as possible in your life and work, too.

  • My 26-year-old daughter reminds me regularly to treat him like a business client that I don’t like. Professional and polite – and nothing but business.

    (It’s sad, too. She used to have such a great relationship with him…. Now she and her siblings are not hesitant to use the word “asshole.” They regularly tell me that if he ever comes back that I should run like hell. I have very wise children.)

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