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A Leave-a-Cheater Tuesday Story

Dear Chump Lady,

I’m writing with tears in my eyes, not because of what was done to me, but because of how overwhelmed I am with gratitude. I’m not sure I would’ve had the strength to leave without your voice ringing in my ears, like the fierce Midwestern mother I never had. You probably hear this all the time, but thank you for what you do. Thank you for telling it how it is. Thank you for saving me time.

I was a primed, ready-made chump. I grew up as the scapegoat child of a narcissistic stepfather, and was taught very early on that my needs and emotions didn’t matter. It took getting to the age of 30 to realise that I didn’t deserve any of the violence and emotional abuse I endured, and that actually, I’m not bad at all. I’m a kind, bright, funny, and thoughtful person, with strong morals and a lot of love to give. I’ve worked so hard in the last 5 years to champion my self-worth and advocate for myself, but clearly I’ve got a bit more work to do.

I was single for 10 years before meeting my most recent partner. My previous relationship was at the age of 23, with -– surprise, surprise -– a narcissist. He beat me and abused me terribly, and after several attempts to leave, I finally got out of there after he strangled me. Suffice to say, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about relationships for a long time.

Then along he came. My “diamond geezer” I called him, because he had a little diamond tattoo on his temple. He’d been a victim of a narcissistic stepfather too. He’d been abused in previous relationships like me. He got it. He was so overwhelmingly kind and considerate towards me, and I fell hard in love with him. I couldn’t believe my luck — and one of the best things? He introduced me to his mother.

Why’s that a big deal? I’m a feminine male and often attract guys that are into transgendered women too. As any trans woman will tell you, they’re often kept a dirty little secret in their relationships. My romances have often gone the same way. So to be acknowledged in this way (and get a new mum!), to walk around in public with my man, felt amazing to me. I finally got to experience what other people do. And I was so grateful.

I could bang on about how beautiful the relationship all seemed, but I don’t think the wear and tear on my keyboard would be worth it. It WASN’T what it seemed. In hindsight, it was completely lop-sided, and I simply didn’t notice. I feel like a fucking moron.

While up to my arse in deadlines, I handled all the cleaning, all the laundry, and all the cooking. I was always up for sex, and he had blowjobs on tap (honestly, I was on my knees that often during the honeymoon phase you would’ve thought I’d converted to Islam) and he had no shortage of affection. I worked daily to build him up. All he had to do was worry about his job. I gently encouraged him to quit the dead-end career that made him so miserable, rewrote his CV and cover letter, and helped him apply at a new place. A year later and he’s a manager there (I don’t take credit for that though, he did work really hard). Case and point: I gave this man everything I could, for two and a half years, and it still wasn’t enough to make him value me. But that’s how it goes, isn’t it? It’s never about how much or how little we do for them.

My story plays out like so many others -– we all know how boringly unoriginal they are. He was being shady with his phone, became cold and distant for months, and deflected my concerns and attempts to fix us with lies, deception, and gaslighting. As soon as my trust went, I couldn’t look at him in the same way. It all came to a head this Sunday when I asked to see his phone for the first and only time. He’d always had access to mine. I told him that if ever he felt insecure, he could take a look when I was in the shower or something. I gave him total transparency, and like a dumbass, didn’t care that he never returned the gesture.

He refused to show me. I knew he wouldn’t. Any thoughts that I might be paranoid or wrong disappeared. The fear of ruining my relationship vanished. And I saw those big blue kind eyes I’d always loved, become little pools of manipulation as he desperately tried to lie his way out of the situation. I can’t even find the words for the revulsion I felt towards him –- how much it rattled me to see him put his empathy aside so easily, while I was falling apart. I don’t get it. I’m glad I don’t get it. I told him I was going to take a shower -– and that as soon as I closed the bathroom door, anything he tried to show me on his phone would become obsolete thereafter.

SPOILER ALERT: As soon as I was done showering, he offered to show me his phone! (I can hear your eyes rolling). “Oh, HOW CONVENIENT!” I yapped, and told him I wasn’t interested. He sobbed and left the room. I put on some make-up for composure, spent an hour packing up all my shit (while he stood there crying with puppy dog eyes, telling me not to go), then left. I don’t know how I did it.

I lost it and became hysterical as soon as the taxi rolled up, but I did it. I didn’t speak to him for five days. I sent a farewell letter (I know it’s ill-advised, but it was for MY closure, not his) and he responded by saying all he’d done was “flirt inappropriately” (we don’t even need to put that one through the Bullshit Translator). It just reiterated everything to me. I quickly realised that it didn’t matter to me whether he was sexting, having an emotional affair, or enjoying wet weekends with the Whore of Babylon. My feelings were never his priority, while his feelings were my only priority. And that was a very hard pill to swallow.

Fortunately, I’m a flaming homosexual, so I’m quite good at swallowing things.

My takeaway from my experience is this: FUCK love. Not completely, obviously. Love’s awesome. I’ll love again one day (after a lot of work on myself of course, because I am still broken). But fuck love, in the sense that it doesn’t mean anything when it’s not reciprocated. Sure, I’ve lost my home and partner, my daily dose of laughter and in-jokes. Takeaway and film nights. Gaming sessions. Cuddles, when they were a thing. And the coolest fucking mother-in-law I could ask for. But for the first time in a long time, I had a good night’s sleep. In my weakest moments (because I am quite a fragile person), I force myself to remember that I’m no longer feeling unwanted or living in a state of distrust. I’m not on high alert anymore. I’m not wondering why I’m not enough. I feel RELIEF. And if that means losing all that stuff –- with a liar –- then it’s actually a very good transaction.

I know I’ll be ok in time, and you’ve played such a huge part in that Tracy. I’ll never be able to repay you either, because few things in this life are as valuable as time.

As comedian Dawn French would say, thank you from the bottom of my bottom!

Much love,


Dear James,

Thank you so much for your kind words! Stories like this keep me going. The credit, however, is all yours. That was YOUR bravery on display. CN and I validated what you already knew — that you deserved better than his bullshit.

It took a lot of guts to get in that cab. To step into the unknown and give up the security of what you thought was a committed relationship. You didn’t spackle. Or fold your needs into tiny shapes and stuff them into the recesses of your soul. You ACTED.

I suspect you’re not as damaged as you think, and much stronger than you ever knew.

If I could quibble here: Love isn’t the problem. Your love is top-shelf. It’s investing in someone who doesn’t invest back. Well, not at the same level anyway. A gazillion people make this mistake (really, my blog numbers are crazy!) The only thing you have to learn is how to find another giver. Someone as good as you are. That’s it. That’s your assignment. You’re not broken. You’re not the asshole!

Had you been the asshole here (your ex), you’d have to learn a much harder lesson — how to be honest and reciprocal. How to give up all the perks of entitlement. How to properly adult and write your own CVs. Much bigger learning curve!

You just have to surround yourself with people who give as much as you give. And they’re OUT there. This is not an impossible thing. And seeing as you’re such a gifted writer, and hilarious, and probably gorgeous, I don’t expect you’ll be alone for long.

And if you happen to tangle with a fuckwit — you know how to dismiss them. Important life lesson.

Thanks for a Tuesday morning dose of mightiness.

P.S. No more closure letters! No contact from here on out, okay?

Your Midwestern mom, Chump Lady

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I admire the letter writer! Bravo.

    This kind of thing does make me worry about my current SO though – how do you know when the love you’re getting is a charade? Am I missing warning signs?

    Once chumped, twice shy.

      • “My feelings were never his priority, while his feelings were my only priority. And that was a very hard pill to swallow.”
        An impossible pill to swallow.
        Indeed reciprocity is your clue.

        The day sparkledick complained that I did not value his efforts for taking care of our sons (who were all adults at the time, BTW) as an excuse for not discussing our strange debts, not returning my phone calls when he was out of town, general plain rudeness, etc.,etc,etc.,etc, I knew something was wrong. And thigns were really wrong.

        You did good James!

        PS: I smiled at your “big blue kind eyes becoming little pools of manipulation”. One day I told sparkles that I could no longer see his eyes, there was a curtain in front of them. He left the room.

        • Shark eyes. Sadly, we all know them too well. I still haven’t forgotten the very first moment he turned them on me, and that was many years ago. Chilling.

          • Agreed, it’s terrifying. I’ve asked around at abusive relationship support groups and have heard two versions of this. Some people talk about the shark eyes, meaning the pupils are super constricted (sharks have tiny pupils), indicating a volcanic amount of rage, and other people describe it as the eyes turning black. I think that’s because sometimes the pupils actually dilate when they’re angry so that the whites of the eyes can hardly be seen, rather than constricting like they do with most people. Anger and hostilty are unpleasant for most people, but for cluster b types those feelings are invigorating. The eyes also get extra shiny, another sign that they’re excited. The expression in them also reflects pure hatred. I do believe they hate anybody who defies them and screws up their agenda.

            • The ex-FW had snake eyes. Green/yellow, slitted pupils. It was always disconcerting because he always looked deep into my eyes with his.

              Then for a while he kept them closed. I didn’t say anything, but I thought it was odd. I didn’t see that as the red flag that it was.

              I never wanted to admit that he had those snake eyes. Now I know I it was a warning sign.

              • Yeah, the eyes become slits when somebody is being calculating and machiavellian. That’s a cue to run like hell. But who knew? It’s only because it happened to me that I even looked into these things.

        • Never gonna forget the “eyes like pools of manipulation” thing, it was terrifying to behold.

          I can no longer look into my XW’s eyes anymore, but for a different reason now. I just get overwhelmed by second hand embarrassment (the very brazilian “vergonha alheia”, ClearWaters). It’s for the best since it goes well with grey rock.

        • Thank you so much Nomorechumpy and ClearWaters!

          Yep, that’s my biggest lesson from all of this. Reciprocity is something I’m going to pay so much more attention to in the future, even though it feels unnatural and transactional to me. Ironically, the very few times I ever pointed out any imbalance in our relationship, he’d get defensive and respond with “Keeping score, are ya?” – I probably should have done!

          The eye thing is chilling, isn’t it. Windows to the soul indeed! xx

        • the shark eyes mean your pain is inconvenient for me like it has been said here. It’s just so foreign an expression to us as chimps who don’t realize we’re pick me dancing. When we are mighty like OP and maybe even have a soft landing somewhere else, I wonder if we don’t make the save shark eyes at their sad sausage attempts.

          • Could be.

            The few times I had to inter act with fw after the D, I don’t remember feeling anger, but just kind of a disgust mixed with ok Susie say hi and move along.

            I may have shark eyed him.

            What I do remember is he never looked me in the eyes, he was fidgety and would find a reason to move along leavening whore there to talk to me. It was kind of funny really.

            He according to my daughter in law hated my husband, who had nothing to do with any of that mess. I didn’t even know him then.

      • Yes, I have finally learned after far too many painful lessons that reciprocity is foundational for any successful relationship. It’s fine for the give and take to wax and wane. Sometimes the other person will go through a rough patch and you will have to give more than you receive, but if there is never a time when you are getting back as much as you are putting into the relationship, it’s time to move on.

        • I wish it hasn’t taken me so long to learn this lesson.

          Funny thing, my XW was always complaining that she didn’t get enough from our relationship and threatening to bail. When I once replied that I was getting almost nothing from it, she just made a U turn in her argument and said that one is not supposed to expect good things to stay in a marriage, it’s a commitment. Go figure!

    • Con artists are experts at what can seem like sincere giving. I believe it’s good idea to get really familiar with dealbreakers. One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others. And when they happen, not using all that “nice” history to dismiss and minimize and ignore. The poisonous gas seeps into a relationship slowly over time sometimes. Like CO2, colorless, odorless, but its victims are a distinct cherry red.

      I could say in hindsight there was enough reciprocal to hook me and just enough to confuse me and keep me hooked. He STILL offers to do things for me! Now I refuse his offers to do anything for me. I know now that’s how I got hooked and confused. I really need to keep a Pro list (reciprocal, kind, thoughtful) and Con list, pun totally intended
      (lying, breaking agreements, future faking, not sticking up for me, poor communication skills, etc). I really focused on the Pro list, not the whole balance sheet.

      He was like a child who moves food around on his plate to make it look like he ate the required bites (as
      a child who was forced to eat and ignore my body messages, I despise the practice of forcing or cajoling a child to eat but it’s a good analogy). BF Skinner was right about the system of intermittent reward being the most powerful form of operant conditioning. I can say there was plenty of reward to hook me. What I am looking at now is where did I encounter dealbreakers and excuse them with what appeared to be reciprocal, nice?

      I totally agree that reciprocity is one thing to look for. But because con artists are experts at appearing like Mr/Ms Nice Guy/Gal, I want to look really hard in my post-mortem at where I blew past STOP signs. Where are my blind spots? Where did I stay when I should have left?

      Traitor X puts a LOT of energy into his Nice Guy act, and it’s all about those actions which could pass for sincere reciprocity.

      Hey, you know what? I just realized how being forced to eat despite my body messages set me up to ignore lots and lots of other input and messages. It upsets me to think about it to this day, and I am firmly planted in the work of Ellyn Satter, who teaches parents and caregivers that it’s their job to provide the food, and the child’s job to decide if, when, and how much to eat…..

      I was a sitting duck for cheaters and con artists. Totally indoctrinated to ignore my feelings, instincts, wants, needs, body signals….that someone else knew better than me, was the authority on me to be heeded.

      My daughter’s therapist told her the other day that she is “a force to be reckoned with.” ????. I’ve done my damndest to make sure I didn’t do the same to her.

      • No one should feel defective for being duped by an expert liar. I may get fooled for a while, but from now on if a dealbreaker happens, I am going to pull a James, make like a preacher and get the hell out of there. New theme song to listen to while I do my dealbreaker homework!

        • “I could say in hindsight there was enough reciprocal to hook me and just enough to confuse me and keep me hooked. He STILL offers to do things for me! Now I refuse his offers to do anything for me. I know now that’s how I got hooked and confused.”

          Whoa Velvet, I was actually thinking about you on my way to work this morning and marveling at the way you are able to capture ideas so succinctly; analogies, acronyms, catchy phrases and anthems. CL must be delighted to have a regular commenter like you. And today, you’ve gone and articulated perfectly what my situation was all those years ago. I’m long past meh but I find myself here at CN every day. Hopefully, I leave a word that matters to someone now and again but really it is helpful to process so much of my past life. A life that at the time of the loooooong discard felt out of my own control but CL has shown me that is not the case. I wonder why I stayed so long? How did I have so little value for myself?

          But I did value myself. I’ve never been lacking in self-esteem. But somehow I was married to an emotionally abusive man I didn’t leave.

          I realized at some point that I just could not conceive of someone I knew so well, someone I perceived was so committed to me, who could act as he did sometimes. It was just as you said, it was reciprocal enough that I was able to doubt what was so clearly in front of me.

          Thanks for framing it that way. After 15 years it is still helpful to examine some of this damage as I navigate a new marriage and share my hard-won wisdom with my young adult children as they figure out how they wish to deal with a narc father.

          • “I did value myself. I’ve never been lacking in self-esteem. But somehow I was married to an emotionally abusive man I didn’t leave.

            But I realized at some point that I just could not conceive of someone I knew so well, someone I perceived was so committed to me, who could act as he did sometimes. It was just as you said, it was reciprocal enough that I was able to doubt what was so clearly in front of me.”

            Exactly my experience. This is the fake “nice guy” abuser dispensing intermittent rewards. They are cleverer and the abuse is more insidious than their more overtly nasty brethren.

          • Lots of ❤️ to you.

            I think infidelity is a very very deep and severely traumatic wound that may require periodic cleaning for the rest of my life.

            When I write here I realize things….writing is a great healing tool. Bonus points when it helps someone else!

      • “I could say in hindsight there was enough reciprocal to hook me and just enough to confuse me and keep me hooked. ”

        Same here.

        The connection is long gone, and he died recently; but in the early years post Dday, he tried mightily to keep me hooked in his orbit, though not his main squeeze. Thank God I was so devastated and he was so nasty to me during the year of discard, I didn’t go along with it beyond one attempt at R, which lasted less than a week.

        When he came back that week, at his request; though he treated me like shit pretty much from the minute he got back into the house, I also knew there was something terribly wrong with this guy. By the end of the week, I told him to leave.

      • VH – beautifully said! You are so right. Sounds just like the narcissist I became entangled with. Lots of words and pretense. Little action. Your analogy of moving food around on the plate is spot on! I wish I had known sooner what this was about. I wasted too much time lost in a game that I didn’t realize was being played. And to this day, ten years later, the asshole continues to reach out in any way that he can, appealing to our “deep friendship”. He has even cornered friends of mine, when he has run into them, to tell them weepy stories of how much he regrets losing me. LIES. Of course, he wants them to run back and appeal on his behalf. And they do. I never bother to air him out because it’s just too hard to explain. I just make it clear that I’m not interested in being contacted by him. I have not and will not EVER respond. I see him for exactly what he is: a lying, manipulative, gaslighting, perverse POS. I am clear that it is not me that he misses. He misses the sick games he played with me. Because I finally walked away and went no contact, he feels like he lost. And that never goes over well with his type.

        And to James – “ GREAT job!” I wish I had cut my loser off as quickly as you did. Takes a strong will and a clear sense of boundaries to take such quick and decisive action. Just remember one thing: his ass WILL come back to Hoover you. Trust me on that. Stay strong and remain no contact.

      • “He was like a child who moves food around on his plate to make it look like he ate the required bites”

        Beautifully insightful as always, VH. Thank you!

      • “I just realized how being forced to eat despite my body messages set me up to ignore lots and lots of other input and messages.….I was a sitting duck for cheaters and con artists. Totally indoctrinated to ignore my feelings, instincts, wants, needs, body signals….that someone else knew better than me, was the authority on me to be heeded.”

        Interesting theory! I was primed in this way as well. My parents also taught that we shouldn’t listen to our bodies in other ways, as well. Ignore any pain. Keep walking.

        In addition, the teaching of the Catholic church kept me in my place. “He who humbles himself shall be exalted.” “Lord, I am not worthy to received you.” “The meek shall inherit the earth.” “Wives be submissive to your husbands.” (That last one was my dad’s favorite. ????) ​

        On top of that, my father was an alcoholic, so I learned to walk on eggshells early on.
        ​I also learned to please and developed the false idea that I could control others behavior (i.e., keep him from drinking) by controlling my own. If I get all As, all will be well. Of course, it never was.

        In me, my x must have spotted an easy target for his abuse.

        When we were still dating, he crashed at my apartment to recuperate from surgery. I called him from work to check on him. He couldn’t find eggs in my apartment and said, “You never do anything for me.” Although I knew what he said was absurd, I didn’t show him the door. Instead, I tried to do even more for him. The pattern was established early on.

        I’m beginning to figure things out.

        I’m thrilled that my daughter seems badass and is raising a badass toddler who is never forced to eat. That’s an important message for kids. Practice intuitive eating, honor your feelings, know your worth, and trust your gut.

    • One of the big red flags for me (and I spotted it quickly in the above letter) is, “I built him up.”

      This is a common thread I’ve noticed in abusive relationships. I’ve experienced it myself and heard it repeatedly in other people’s stories. Abusers are parasites looking for their next host. They need a job, they need a maid, they need an easy fuck, they need validation. They need a babysitter to hold a gun to their head to get anything done.

      Healthy people don’t need building!! We’ve got our shit reasonably together. Sure, none of us are perfect, but we parent ourselves. We pay our bills, we hold down a job, we manage our own crises.

      There’s nothing more dangerous to me than an insecure adult looking for a babysitter. They are the biggest narcissistic parasites on earth. Craziest part is, they’ll take everything they can from you and RESENT you for it!!

      Love isn’t building someone up. If your partner’s an emotional child and can’t function as an adult, something is wrong with them.

      • “There’s nothing more dangerous to me than an insecure adult looking for a babysitter. They are the biggest narcissistic parasites on earth. Craziest part is, they’ll take everything they can from you and RESENT you for it!!”

        That is precisely what they do. I believe they will parentalize any long term partner who has his/her shit together. Then they tell themselves the “parent” is controlling and go off on their petty rebellion. It’s a giant fuck you to a stand-in for mommy or daddy.

        • So true OHFFS! This describes my FW so well it is uncanny! The comments today hit very close to home. James’ story is so well written. James, you are Mighty! And yet, between the lines of agile snark and superb bravado, I feel your pain. Scapegoat, narc parental figure, narc partners… Thank you all for helping me understand what had been happening to me. I have been reading ChumpLady for a year now, and, as James, I have gained so much time. This is invaluable. Thank you. Thank you ????

        • Spot on, Cam and OHFFS!
          Many of us have been cleaning after our significant others, boosting their carreers and self-esteem, only to be resented by them for that afterwards. OHFFS’s parallel with a teenager’s rebellion is perfect.

    • CL is right that reciprocity is a clue. But James’s story suggests that the need to prop up, rehab, and help a partner change careers, up to and including finding the place for him to apply for a new job.

      But here is a big clue: “I handled all the cleaning, all the laundry, and all the cooking.” There’s the lack of reciprocity right there. And that’s not just a sign that a relationship is a charade and the partner a fraud. It’s a sign that the chump is DOING TOO MUCH–that is, taking on responsibilities that they partner should be doing for himself or herself. As for doing all the cleaning, cooking, etc., adult partners without kids should share household chores. If one person is doing everything, that can mean one partner is exploiting the other and the exploited partner is trying to “earn” love and affection.

      • Yup. You can fix up a broken house, but not a broken person. They either are limitless black holes, or use you for what you’re worth before moving on to the next stepping stone.

        In the words of one of my favorite songwriters:

        “So if you think that you can fix him, you are 20 times the fool,
        And if you dream of fixing people, go to medical school,
        But do not think that if you love him with the patience of a saint
        You can take all that he is and turn him in to what he ain’t.”

        • Aouch traffic_spiral! I went to medical school! {hits my head on the screen}! ???? So there is a book for Chumps too… Well, at least a song!????

  • James, you are mighty and my hero today! Sending supportive hugs and chump love your way. You got this!

  • The way our society sees love IS a problem. How many times, in how many sitcoms, has the partner who’s done some bullshit totally defused the situation (and gotten the audience “awwww”) when he says, “but, but, but – I LOVE YOU!”. It’s our society’s get-out-of-jail-free card for relationships. That’s why I love the song, “More than Words.” Real love is love, even on mute – it’s ALL ACTION.

    • Agree 100%. I think of Massive Attack’s Teardrop: “Love, love, is a verb, love is a doing word” X

      • Love that song! You have a real talent with words, James, get yourself out there, on Medium or somesuch, and make it work for you. Oh, and super mightiness, you’re an inspiration!

      • My fave song. Much personal history for me with Massive Attack.

        James, you are a class act. Wishing you every big beautiful thing to come. You deserve it x

        PS please be on watch for the Narc Hoover! It WILL come. Stay staunch and don’t take the bait. They don’t change!

        • Love a bit of Massive Attack! Unfinished Sympathy is one of my all time favs. Not the anthem for right now though – he’s “the book that I have opened” and I’ve decided it’s shit and I DON’T need to know anymore haha. One star!

          I’ll definitely be on the watch! I’m NC but fully anticipating it. Today he accepted my LinkedIn connection request (which I sent him MONTHS ago) so he’s clearly testing the waters – I UNlinked his ass immediately!

          He’s shown me who he is and what he’s capable of – there’s nothing left to work with!

          Thank you so much for the lovely words! X

          • I can’t stand LinkedIn. It’s just a booty call site for professional predators – not to mention it’s how my cheating ex husband met his AP. Yup. It’s so gross. International kibbles were the game… but it’s a losing one until we walk.
            It was for sure a Hoover and I’m SO glad you unlinked ????????x #winning

  • Mighty!!!! What an amazing story on a Tuesday morning. I would love to borrow some of your moxi, need to find a way to bottle it. You are a strong, intelligent, loving, and charismatic person-don’t forget that!

    • Thank you so much! Honestly, I took so much strength from others who have lived it – Chump Nation, Redditors, and my lovely mum! I read a great quote the other day: “One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through, and it will be someone else’s survival guide” – So true. There’s a LOT of survival guides here! X

  • James, like other decent people who love their partners, you did as much as you could, including the housework, cooking, your own job, and helping him get a better job. No fault there.
    Unlike many chumps, you trusted your gut, asked to see his phone before he could wash away any evidence, and when he refused, you stuck to your boundaries and left. That sound you hear? Thunderous applause from Chump Nation.
    Was there any significance to the diamond tattoo on his temple? did it mean he was in love with himself? It would be great if all narcs came with a special mark!
    Thanks for sharing, and writing your story so well.

    • Thank you for the kind words! And IF ONLY. The tattoo was a cover-up I believe, I don’t think it had much meaning. The man was a rhinestone at best – next time I’m getting an appraisal! Haha x

      • A cubic zirconia. Or fool’s gold. Only you,my dear, are far from a fool. None of us are fools. These disordered fuckwits just take advantage of others.

        Go James and live your best life ! ❤️ ????

  • James, you are a rock star and have the makings of a professional writer. Congratulations on your new life.

    • I second that thought. And if you speak as well as you write, consider The Moth or other forms of storytelling. You condensed a nightmare into a neat, digestible story of resilience; including a bit of humor along the way.

      You are indeed mighty and I hope you feel proud of what you have saved yourself from.

      If Tracy is your Midwestern Mom, I volunteer to be the loving, great mother-in-law you miss ❤️
      (I can be pretty fucking cool ????)

      • Thank you so much, mother-in-law! 😀

        I do actually write for my day job (despite all the errors I made in that email, since I didn’t proofread it – luckily CL gave it a once over!) Most of the stuff I do is very boring and corporate though. I plan on writing a sitcom or a novel soon, now I’ve got time to do things for me! X

  • Good job, James! I was never able to get in that metaphorical cab myself; my cheater was the one who got in the cab and left me, time and time again.

    I suppose my mighty moment was, then, the day I decided that the door to my home would be forever closed to him. He’s never allowed back.

    I felt just like you; I was taking on so much and juggling multiple roles while trying to enrich his life and keep him happy with me. It’s shocking to look back now and realize that everything I poured into him was never returned in kind. My love blinded me to the fact that he, quite simply, did not love me in return.

    I’m with James on the f*ck love train, to be honest. Maybe one day I’ll love beyond that and trust again but it’s been over a decade since the last D-Day and I have no interest in ever getting conned again.

    • Thank you! Cabs and closed doors are all the same – the point is we’re free of that crap. So well done to you too!

      I’ve been thinking a lot about whether I’d get into another relationship again, a year or two from now. I’ve concluded that I would. I think there’s always a risk you’ll get hurt again and we can never 100% safeguard ourselves from that. But what I’ve learned from this experience is that we CAN pay closer attention to reciprocity – lopsided relationships seem to be the common denominator in all of these stories.

      I think, if you exist, if I exist, if ALL of us chumps exist, then that’s irrefutable proof that there are other people out there that love like we do. It’s not an impossible aspiration x

  • Mother Theresa was know to “The worst poverty is to be unwanted” and that is the crux of the chump experience. I spackled past thinking I was unwanted. In the wake of Cheaters death, I found my worst fears confirmed…that I really was unloved and unwanted.

    You are mighty. To recognize that he did not value you and to not accept the crumbs he threw at you (I fell for the crumbs over and over and over…I wish I had a single “cab” story to tell).

    People who really love (and not in the Rom Com way) will always have high stock.

    Good on you. Stand up straight and know his mom is telling him he is an idiot as we speak.

    • Ooofffft! That’s such a powerful statement. It’s such a gut-wrenching feeling, isn’t it? You question every single little thing about yourself, and try to figure out what makes you so unlovable.

      I want to go back in time and slap myself for thinking like that – and you too! We ARE lovable. Spending time here really helped readjust my thinking. As soon as I figured out what made fuckwits like him tick, I realised it wasn’t me x

      • “You question every single little thing about yourself, and try to figure out what makes you so unlovable.”

        I’ve been in the throes of these feelings for some time now, James. I wish I had your wits, your strength, your resolution, your self-respect and your sense of self-worth. You rock, James! You look like an awesome person to be around, too bad for your X he will no longer enjoy your company, but then he was unworthy of it. Good riddance! Keep strong! Best wishes!

        • Thank you so much for the kind words! I really hope you find a way out – you deserve better too. I didn’t think I could do it, until I did! X

  • Such a gifted writer. Wow. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story with us. You are an inspiration. And thank you, Chump Lady, for picking this letter for today. I really needed to see it.

  • James, reading about your childhood made me sad. I’m sorry to hear you grew up in those circumstances. Breaks me heart to hear children being treated like that. But you are a beautiful person with a kind heart, and I’m glad you didn’t put up with any more BS from your SO. Like previous comments, you deserve a round of applause for shoeing your mighty.
    And I agree, your writing is engaging. I think you should write a book!

    • Thank you! It was rough and it did a lot of damage to me – but I think it also carved me into who I am. I was shown all the things NOT to be. Because I grew up on eggshells, it also gave me a sixth sense when it comes to reading other people’s emotions. If a confrontation is about to kick off, or if someone’s lonely at a party, I can make myself useful!

      I’d love to write a novel – it’s on my bucket list! I just need to get my ass motivated, which from what writer friends have told me, is half the battle! X

  • I literally needed to read this this morning, life is crazy when you least expect it you read your usual daily blog and it literally changes your whole outlook on the morning. You are so brave james thank you for sharing your story! please keep us updated.

    • Thank you so much Abby! I’m NC, busy with work and coping really well – I’m lucky enough to have some awesome people in my life that have really rallied around me. My best friend came by the other day with tissues, chocolate, gin and a facemask! She knows her gay well!

      I’ve been crying this evening, but that’s because of how bloody lovely you lot are! (As opposed to the fuckwit!) X

  • James,

    As a chump who left a traditional marriage after 30 years, I didn’t think you and I had a lot in common (other than heartbreak).

    But your description of your “aha” moment and your contemplation of how your earlier experiences shaped you is also a shared reality among us chumps.

    I hope you will give yourself time to heal, to feel confident in your ability to take care of yourself and fill your life with people who can do the same.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words!

      That’s the thing isn’t it! Our stories all have such different circumstances, but they all follow a similar, heart-breaking blueprint. We’re all taken for fools, when we deserve so much better.

      I will! And I hope you do the same! X

  • James, I am so sorry that you were the victim of a narcissist in your most vulnerable years. Children need validation. They need to know that they have worth, but narcissists pull that into themselves and never give it out. So of course the first thing you need is therapy. Make sure that therapist does not have a hidden agenda. It’s easy enough to allow yourself to be a victim again because you’re never more vulnerable than when you are giving yourself over to a therapist to help you learn to heal. They have to be healthy themselves. There are many ways these days to get to those childhood damages so I suggest you do some homework on them. I believe there’s some sort of magnetic situation, EMDR, and psychedelics. I don’t know much of anything about any of them except a little EMDR but they sound like they’re making strides to help people get inside their pain, pull it out, and deal with it. Getting that son of a bitch out of your head is your first priority. It’s your definition of yourself because he forced it on you.

    You gave and gave because it was part of your personality, part of you hoping for a long loving relationship, and partly because he was so good at disguising who he is. The good thing about it is you are one up on a lot of folks because you picked it up pretty quickly. You have been there and done that.

    Protect yourself by being vigilant. If someone seems too good to be true they are probably not good. The honeymoon stage is over fairly quickly and if by that time the relationship is out of balance that’s not a healthy relationship.

    I hope you come back and let us know how you are doing.

    • Thank you for the wonderful words of support and advice!

      I’m 100% with you on the therapy. That was actually my plan the year I met Rhinestone Geezer, but I was too scared of opening Pandora’s Box and undoing the progress I felt I’d made.
      My healing method was educating myself as much as possible on the psychology of it all. In understanding the concept of narcissistic supply, and why he picked me as his scapegoat, it took A LOT of the guilt and shame away that I’d carried for years. I’ve definitely got some work to do, because I deal with a lot of anxiety, depression, and my self-worth isn’t always up to par. But this experience has bolstered it. I’ve also got some shiny new trust issues to deal with, and I don’t want them to be a fixture in future relationships. Lots to unpack!

      And I’m with you on picking your therapist carefully! I’ve spent a lot of time on raisedbynarcissists on Reddit, and some of the horror stories people have shared about their therapists makes you wonder if some of the therapists are narcs themselves. They’re like shitty glitter – they get everywhere!

      I’ve always been interested in psychedelics! I tried Salvia once, but instead of convening with wise, 4th dimensional beings, the room just turned into Lego bricks. I almost asked for a refund. I’ve heard some wonderful things about DMT though, and the profound, life-changing experiences people have on it!

      I think you might be right about my past experiences helping me identify the BS, quicker than I otherwise would. That hadn’t actually occurred to me, so thank you for that revelation! I’ll take that as another win! X

      • What little I know about EMDR is what was explained to me. All experiences are in our memories. They are hidden but accessible with an expert. She told me that memories don’t go away but they lose their sting. I think the most powerful person in your childhood was the SOB who robbed you of it. You learned to emotionally duck. That was all you could do, you were a kid. That is where your anxiety comes from and it is causing everything else.

        Be good to yourself. Be safe.

      • I have found a regular yoga practice, Vinyasa flow has released trauma from my body and been the most wonderful tool for healing. Also the yoga crowd are pretty neat and post yoga high is a thing. I like being bare foot and rolling around the floor!

  • Bravo James! It took me a lot longer to realize my FOO issues were conspiring to keep me off balance. Kudos to you.

    • Thank you! It sucks we’re left to repair the damage, but what always keeps me going is knowing that people have THRIVED after surviving worse than what I went through. It’s 100% possible x

  • Oh, friend! How you will THRIVE!!!

    Anyone with your moxie and flair is a “stock that trades high”, like Chump Lady says.
    You will find your place in the sun, I promise! <3

  • Glad you left that con artist in the dust, James. Great story with a very happy ending.

  • James, Not only are you mighty but also you are a kind, compassionate and loving person. Don’t become hardened, tougher yes but you will be able to trust again. I am working on that too and it will be a journey but more than likely worth it.
    It is always great to see how some of chumps get out so quickly. I am glad you did not fall for the tears and regret like many of us did. Protect yourself and establish good will thrive sooner than you know. Please come back here often and let us know how you are doing. I think you will do just great!

    • Thank you for your words! I won’t let it turn me into a bitter bitch. My mum’s my inspiration there. She’s survived the death of two babies, the suicide of my father, domestic abuse, and being a chump for 10 years herself. Yet she’s the kindest, most loving and positive person I know. She uses humour to get by. Anything good about me is because of her.

      In fact, when I was packing up my shit to leave (and Rhinestone Geezer turned on the waterworks) I went into what my mum and I call our “autopilot mode”. We both do it. Whenever something traumatic happens to us, we remain strangely composed and just do what we need to do, then break down at a more convenient time. When Desperate Housewives aired, we both remarked how similarly Bree Van de Kamp dealt with her shit!

      Unfortunately it makes us both look like a pair of sociopaths at funerals, haha! X

      • James, I think you have got your stuff together. I hope your mom is doing well and is no longer being chumped. Glad she is on your side though but that is the definition of a mother. I would say she did a good job with you because you are mighty and have a sense of humor. My son has a lot of my traits to with the exception that he is more introverted than me but has a sense of humor that comes out on occasion. I am glad you are so strong and can keep it together but can also let it out once the mission is accomplished.
        Do as Chump Lady and CN tell you. No contact is great. I still am in the middle of the divorce process but hopefully that will change very soon (court date is on a Tuesday no less and was not planned that way). Stay FW free and when you do find love again make sure it is totally reciprocated.

  • James is a boss.

    I remember vividly when my cheater ex turned his back or bullied me to try to get me to rugsweep while he continued to lie. Baby was uncomfortable with confrontation and that was far more important them my pain.

    Yet after I told him we were done I was expected to stay up at night comforting HIM.

    Yep….the guy who showed absolutely no empathy then wanted it from me.

    He got none.

    Never continue to give what you’re not getting.

    • You sound like a bloody boss too!

      I completely relate to that. My last ex (before the cheating fuckwit) was NPD and had explosive, BPD rages on top of it. After he beat me or went on his 3-hour-long rants about how awful I was, I’d be expected to comfort him because of how bad HE felt for his actions. I entertained it. I was young, stupid, and I’ve come a long way since then! I think that experience really helped shape how I dealt with this one, more than 10 years later. He got no sympathy D-Day.

      Still, the entitlement is bewildering isn’t it. It’s like they have ZERO self-awareness.

  • Important to note, James — many of us came from wonderful, abuse-free and drama-free upbringings filled with people who watched out for us and consistently set the good example . . . and STILL got chumped.

    All of which is to reiterate Chump Lady’s words: It’s not you. Never think it’s you, regardless of whatever disadvantages you may have had in your formative years. It’s about those people in the world (far too many) who cannot muster enough decency to be good citizens of the world.

    And, it’s not ‘love’ in and of itself. To borrow from “The Shawshank Redemption”: Love is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Even if it’s not reciprocated, giving it (with wisdom and vigilence) must be prioritized and practiced and nurtured, or we as a species are fucked.

    • I want to second UXworld. There’s a prevalent myth that only or even mostly people with serious family of origin issues get abused as adults by partners. Because serious FOO issues aren’t uncommon, this perpetuates the myth. Then the fact that our societies tend to be victim blaming in myriad ways and helping professions tend to mirror larger societal biases underscores the myth further.

      The myth is that scapegoats and victims had to have something “wrong” with them to begin with that acts like voodoo tractor beams drawing abuse to them. Please note how this reduces responsibility of perps. Also note that helping professions tend to harbor high numbers of abusers. In other words, the foxes are diagnosing the chickens.

      But in reality, there’s no statistical common denominator between victims by background, mindset, etc., though all perps come from traumatic backgrounds. The latter could sound like a bid for sympathy or to “fix” these sad sausage abusers, but bear in mind Ted Bundy, may he rot in hell, had an awful childhood.

      Most dv victims (and cheating is increasingly categorized as “intimate partner violence”) come from average backgrounds. According to dv expert Lenore Walker, victims of IPV even skew towards higher than average pre-abuse self esteem, suggestung that perps vary in their taste in prey and a majority may even prefer “big game”: healthy, normal, confidant people.

      I haven’t seen much speculation on why that is. I suspect that it’s because abusers, to the extent they blame intimate partners for everything that goes wrong, always imagine the next partner will be fab enough to “inspire” them to be better people. Because abusers– aided by societal bias– tend to blame their own victims for “breaking,” sime abusers may choose subsequent victims who seem less “breakable.” But the sad thing is that, given certain stressors, average, loving people predictably crack like piñatas. And then the fact they broke is blamed in their “inherent weakness.”

      That obviously doesn’t mean that abuse can’t happen to people with traumatic childhoods and coming frim an unsupportive FOO can effect ability to escape adult abuse fir oractucal reasons. But it dawned on me that adults with traumatic backgrounds who find themselves victimized should probably give themselves recognition and applause for not falling into the BIGGEST statistical trap for those with traumatic FOO issues– becoming perpetrators.

      To me, harmlessness is the only glamour. I don’t mean harmless as in pushover. Sharks are terrified of dolphins. I just mean those who are harmless to innocent people are the crème de la crème, top of the heap, true heroes.

      • I agree. That is why I think he not only notice but put two and two together faster because he recognized the behaviors. One thing about a traumatic childhood, it gives people skills the rest of us don’t know.

        • There’s an actual study that found what you’re describing. Adult survivors can sometimes be more resolute and see the signs faster than the “uninitiated.”

          • Huh. I feel I was really clueless to what I was experiencing but then I realized it’s because I had been socialized to it. Shrugs.

      • “I just mean those who are harmless to innocent people are the crème de la crème, top of the heap, true heroes…” HellofaChump, you are one hell of a writer. Thanks for your deep insights, always

      • “The myth is that scapegoats and victims had to have something “wrong” with them to begin with that acts like voodoo tractor beams drawing abuse to them. ”

        Yep in fact on this site someone came on about a year ago(ish), and made the statement that no one can take advantage of you unless you let them. She/he was immediately lambasted of course, but some folks really think this and it is just not true. If anyone with reasonable intelligence would think that statement through they would realize it is ridiculous on its face.

        Of course sometimes that is a true statement, but many times it is not.

        Using the Bernie Madoff crime, if that were true then we would have to believe that all the folks scammed by BM knew it was a scam. Of course some likely did and participated in it, but most were likely just average folks who knew nothing about investing, or didn’t even have individual control of the investments (such as a mutual fund account) and got scammed through no fault of their own.

        • I know, right? Is someone going to speculate Nobel prize winner Elie Wiesel was scammed by Madoff because of Auschwitz? I can imagine the horrified reactions if anyone barked up that tree.

          And what about Kevin Bacon, Steven Spielberg, Senator Lautenberg and Zsa Zsa Gabor? I’m struggling to find the common denominator here. They all had low self esteem?

          By all accounts Madoff sucked people in by mirroring their values, especially with his subtle rhapsodies about the importance of education and the arts. He drew in their strengths and empathy.

    • I love this UX and totally agree. I had a great childhood and still have a loving, but imperfect family. No one, absolutely no one saw it coming for me and my husband. Everyone believed he was a loving husband and doting father. All my friends were jealous of how he treated me (in public of course). Before I was married I had awesome relationships and great sex. I felt valued by all my lovers. All that can e tumbling down over my 25 year marriage to a narcissistic con artist. Sometimes we just get duped in a long con. Even my abuse counselor thinks it’s rubbish to spend time digging through how I attracted an abuser- it’s not me it’s him. Victim blaming sucks. It’s not to discount those who’ve had a terrible childhood and continued the pattern- that’s a definite thing that needs attention. But it can definitely tip too far into blaming, whether or not we had past trauma. Cheaters have agency-they fuck with us because they can. James- you are mighty!

    • Thank you so much for the words of wisdom – and I love that quote!

      This place was instrumental in getting me to adjust my mindset – because while I was IN the situation, “why aren’t I enough?” was all I could think about. It kept me up at night, it stopped me from eating, and consumed every minute of every day. I read so many posts on Reddit around that time, all with people feeling the exact same way.

      I’m quite an analytical person, so delving into the psychology of why these people do what they do, was all I did during those first few sleepless nights after D-Day. I think leading with the head, instead of the heart, was what helped me navigate through the shitstorm of emotions I was feeling x

      • James– if you’re wonky and analytical, Google “Denying the Darkness: Exploring the Discourses of Neutralization of Bundy, Gacy, and Dahmer.” It’s a stidy of the elaborate rationalization systems used by a range of perps from college exam cheats to serial killers.

        I found this helpful in fixing my picker. Thou shalt know them by their excuses.

        I first learned about the concept of “neutralization” or “reduction of self punishment” when reading *The Batterer* by Canadian criminologist and clinical domestic violence researcher Donald Dutton who spent decades studying men convicted of partner assault and murder in prison settings.

        The learned mechanism of neutralization not only applies to assuaging guilt after committing misdeeds but may pave the way to commit future crimes. At the end of the paper the authors question whether being a clinical sociopath is really necessary to commit certain offenses when the thought processes that characterize neutralization are so effective in self-exculpation.

        Excerpt (in case you can’t find the full paper online):

        “Neutralization Theory”

        “Sykes and Matza [45] proposed neutralization techniques to explain how juvenile offenders can engage in delinquent behavior yet remain ‘committed to the dominant normative system’ (p. 667). These techniques allow offenders to engage in deviant/illegal activities by providing a rationalization for these behaviors, allow offenders to protect their self-concept and deflect both self-blame and blame from others [1,12,30,45–53]. Maruna and Copes [30] suggest that the neutralizations used by offenders might not only be used to rationalize behavior, but also that these might be ‘implicated in the etiology of deviant behavior’ (p. 222). Additionally, other researchers affirm this position, that neutralizations may be used not only after the fact to rationalize behavior but may actually influence and instigate future behavior.

        Sykes and Matza [45] described five techniques used by offenders: denial of responsibility, denial of injury, denial of the victim, appeal to higher loyalties, and condemnation of the condemners; see also [1,12,30,45–53].

        If the offender claims the behavior was outside his/her control or an accident (e.g., “I was late because my alarm didn’t go off”) this is denial of responsibility.*

        Denial of injury is where the offender insists no harm was intended or there was no harm done despite the act being illegal (e.g., a juvenile steals a car to joyride, but returns it without damage).

        Denial of the victim is when the offender insists the victim does not deserve this status (i.e., harm was rightful retaliation), did something to instigate the offender or deserved what happened (i.e., it is really the victim’s fault), or that there is no victim (i.e., absent or unknown victim). For example, the offender may claim that the victim hit them first, so they needed to retaliate which resulted in the victim being ‘beaten up.’

        When the norms and values of a smaller subgroup take precedence over the offenders’ attachment to dominant societal values, this is appeal to higher loyalties.

        Finally, with condemnation of the condemners, the offender rejects those who would reject him/her. The offender may claim that those denouncing them are secret deviants or hypocrites.

        These neutralizations allow offenders to engage in criminal/deviant behavior while protecting their sense of self, avoid culpability, and minimize the stigma of being an ‘offender.’

        As asserted by Maruna and Copes [30], ‘neutralizations are variously meant to protect a person from…shame, guilt, remorse, self-awareness, loss of self-esteem, public labeling, and stigma” (p. 255).’

        By using these to justify wrongdoing, offenders can protect themselves from blame and the associated stigma [30,45,46,48,55]. Neutralizations may also be the mechanism by which these offenders are able to “drift” in and out of criminality while maintaining commitments to conventional morals, norms, and behaviors (i.e., families, work, school); see also [1]. Neutralizations can be used by those either committed to normative society or those “ . . . who are in a state of drift . . . partially committed to mainstream values but also committed to a certain lifestyle or set of behaviors that are labeled as deviant” [46] (p. 6, italics added). This could apply to serial killers who are committed to mainstream values since many are married, have kids, go to work, attend church, but who are also “committed to a certain lifestyle or set of behaviors that are labeled deviant” (i.e., serial murder) and thus allow them to drift between normative society and serial murder.”

        • Thank you for the recommended reading! I’d never heard of the “Neutralization Theory” – definitely going to deep dive down that rabbit hole! It’s chilling that people can do that shit x

  • Wow, very similar situation to what happened to me. He was showing me a video on his phone, a notification came through “ok sweetie, see you soon” we yelled for a while. Went back to my office, he said it wasn’t what you thought. I asked to see it and I’d apologize if I was wrong. “I deleted it”. HOW CONVENIENT.

    • My ex was told by our MC that he should be sharing all passwords with me.

      He ignored her and I brought it up in a fight a few weeks later. About a week after that I got a list. My guess is that he initially didn’t want to share because of what I’d find and his MO was to bury hia head and ignore it in hopes that it would go away.

      When I brought it up again he took the week to delete everything and then handed over passwords. The counselor even smacked her head and said so he had plenty of time to delete things.

      I didn’t demand them right away because I wanted to see how committed he was on his own.

      Apparently not very much. It’s all good though because he’s gone.


      It’s all a blur now, but I think I might have even laughed a bit when I said that to him – I was just amazed by how stupid he thought I was. I take long ass showers (I’m a very thorough exfoliator), so he had plenty of time to think of some better bullshit. I was almost disappointed, because his lies had been quite convincing up until that point.

      I think by then I had read SO MANY of these stories, I knew how the boring plot would play out. It was like seeing a crap film you’ve already watched before. Yawn! X

  • Damn, James. This is how you DO it! You know your worth and BAM – left that FW behind. Wish I had done what you did back in 2002 and not wasted so much time. Best of luck!

    • Thank you so much! If it’s even a tiny bit of consolation, and I know it was to my mother (a chump herself), it was hearing about how much time others had lost that really gave me a kick up the arse! X

  • James. Wow. You are not fragile. You are strong. You are MIGHTY! You left at the first sign of abuse. Frankly, I’m in awe. So many of us stayed for years and years. Decades even. My only advice to you is to learn how to receive love. You have already mastered giving.

  • James,

    You’re fabulous! Loved reading your story and your wit this morning.

    Word of warning though… please stay strong and grey rock. I have a feeling you may get follow up from FW and (very likely) his mom — I’m sure she adores you. So be prepared and stay strong ok?

    Sending love ❤️

    • Aww, thank you Michelle!

      I’m 100% anticipating that in a few weeks, and I’m ready for it. I learned the hard way why NC/grey rock is so important during my previous relationship 10 years ago – I fell for hoovering attempts repeatedly and got burned again and again.

      I’m different now, I don’t brush aside reality in favour of romanticising the good ol’ days, especially when they were built on bullshit. The damage this relationship did to me while I was in it, completely changed my perspective of him. I don’t think of all the reasons I fell in love with him anymore – or rather, the illusion he sold me. I just think of the shitscape of distrust I existed in. And his fucked up ability to be so cruel and callous with my mental (and no doubt physical) health. There ain’t enough rose petals and parfum in the world to romanticise that mess!

      What’s more, I’ve got the Chump Nation behind me now! Love to you too darling! x

  • I’m so sorry you went through that James, but man you’re a star! And as the others have said, a very gifted writer! Your stock will indeed trade high mate!

  • “And I saw those big blue kind eyes I’d always loved, become little pools of manipulation as he desperately tried to lie his way out of the situation.”

    i think this is the worst of all the memories–how your loved one’s eyes turned into darkness realized. it is for me. mine had brown eyes and they turned black with hatred at the end. i was with my mom when she died and her eyes went dark, so i equate black eyes with death, too.

    these are the memories that require therapy.

    PS you’re doing great. i wish i was as strong as you. and as for the FUCK LOVE? i think you could replace that with FUCK THAT GUY.

    • “i think this is the worst of all the memories–how your loved one’s eyes turned into darkness realized.”

      Yep it is one of the few clear memories I have. His big blue eyes were gorgeous. The night we were faking a New Years Eve gathering with a couple friends, we were playing a card game. In my best fakery (and attempt to touch something in his heart), I looked up at him and smiled and his eyes were dark grey slits. It liberally sent chills though my body. He left the day after New Years Day.

      • I have seen that eye change in people I cared about a few times in my life, and it is absolutely frightening. It’s like suddenly seeing the demon inside. I will never forget those instances.

    • It’s such a dark moment isn’t it! I’m sorry you had to witness that fuckedupness too, especially when it bought back images of your mother’s death.

      Thank you for the kind words – if you got out, then you’re fucking strong too! X

    • Yep! I always judge someone’s character based on how they treat others, regardless of how lovely they are to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get these red flags with my ex – he was always so kind to everyone around him, which is one of the things that made me fall in love with him.

      I think in the case of narcissists (and I wouldn’t say my ex had full-blown NPD, but he definitely exhibited traits of narcissism) they’re often very charming. The mask tends to slip when it isn’t convenient for them though! X

  • James, Thanks for sharing your kick ass story of bravery and belief that you deserve better, because you absolutely do!
    It’s painful to hear the stories of such incredible loving people being trampled and hurt over and over again at this site.
    I never will understand why it has to be that way and I, like you, agree that I’m glad I don’t get it on some level.
    I don’t want to be unable to fully love and have no empathy for destroying others others the way these ppl so casually do, that’s just a horrible way to live your life!
    We can’t fix their broken parts and we sure didn’t cause them either. You both had difficult childhoods, why did you choose to be loving and giving and he chose to destroy? Makes no sense at all.
    Sure wish I had had your type of fierceness to call on in my own relationship. Feels like a weakness to be the one that got dumped after decades of the fogginess of abuse.
    You sound like one great colorful and fun guy James! (I also very much enjoyed your writing style, so engaging to read.)
    Just put your favorite shade of lipstick on, gf, and hold your head up high!
    You are greatly worthy of appreciation and love and the right person is going to thank their freakin lucky stars when they find you.
    All the best, you are going to be awesome, you are already!

    • a lipstick branded by CL with name “black cherry blues” which was also the name of a mystery novel by James L. Burke, BUT WHO CARES.

    • or maybe the lipstick is called JAMES, for the inspiration. i know, i know, i’m going off on a tangent.

    • Thank you so much for all the kind words!

      I completely agree. Nothing makes me furious quite like bad things happening to good people.

      I got off very, very lightly compared to other chumps. We didn’t have children together, we didn’t own property, I had my own money, and my support system wasn’t in another country, or completely non-existent. The fact that people get out in those circumstances, even after DECADES of enduring so much pain and abuse (like YOU!), is beyond inspiring. You’re not weak from where I’m sitting at all – you’ve got incredible resilience and you haven’t let the shitty cards you were dealt stop you from being a kind and compassionate person. To me that’s straight up strength! There’s no other word for it. Well, unless you speak Homosexual: KWEEN!

      I don’t know why some people who have bad upbringings become arseholes, while others don’t. For me, I’ve always given the credit to my mum – she’s the kindest, most empathic person I know. She taught me the right way to be, while my stepdad taught me how NOT to be. That’s probably all it takes to make a difference – one good influence, in amongst all the shit.

      And thank you so much! I will – MAC’s Rebel is my go-to!

      Much love and cheers for the lovely reply! X

      • Lol, yeah MAC lipstick all the way!
        My shade right now is “ Love me lipstick”, even the name feels empowering.
        You’re so sweet in taking the time to respond to so many posts James, truly appreciate your kind words.
        I too believe it takes one good influence in your life to change the tides around. I came from a very loving intact home, so not really sure how I picked a serial cheating narcissist, but somehow I found him, probably very close to the ground.
        I’m hoping that I will be the good influence in my three adult kids’ lives and help them stay on the sunny side of the street, they already are very good life citizens,I have gratitude for days for that.
        Hard to clear the toxicity out of our systems from the unhealthy encounters we’ve all experienced with freakishly similar stories to share. It’s a blessing to be in the company of ppl that actually ‘get it’ and genuinely care about one another.
        I barely dabble in any social media, but this site has been so crazy helpful in my healing journey, more than basically anything else I’ve come across.
        I know CL has to get awful tired of hearing how much she is loved the appreciated. Who wouldn’t just get so sick of hearing that, haha! She’s invested quite an unbelievable commitment to the cause! Very grateful for her and CN.
        It certainly takes a village to defeat a FW!!
        Glad you found the site too, I know it will be a great asset on your own healing journey.

        • Ooo, I just Googled it! Such a lovely nude shade!

          Aww, I can’t not! It’s amazing having so many people cheering me on – it’s turned a nightmare into something really positive and empowering.

          I think growing up in a loving, intact home, probably makes it more difficult in a sense – because when people told you they loved you, there was NEVER any question of it. So when you went through what you went through, it must have been so much harder to comprehend. I’m so glad to hear things are good for you now – and that your kids are great people! That tells you you did a good job 🙂

          I’m with you on the importance of people who GET IT. Even though I’d known my mum’s story for years (a chump herself for a decade), I didn’t TRULY understand until I’d gone through it myself. This place has been a lifeline!

          Haha, I agree! With all the reconciliation crap everywhere, CL is a beacon! X

  • James, you are a tower of strength. I’m so glad that you walked away when you did. It took guts to do that and you stood up to the challenge.

    One thing I noticed in your letter is that you said, “He’d been a victim of a narcissistic stepfather too. He’d been abused in previous relationships like me. He got it.”

    There’s a chance that he lied about all that. Yes, sometimes the victims of abuse turn into abusers, but sometimes they’re just lying to hook another victim.

    All too often these con artists will take whatever information you give them at the beginning of a relationship and claim to have the same experiences.

    • Narcissists mirror their victims in the beginning to hook them. They also want parts of us they don’t have–our goodness, emotinal intelligence, and positive outlook in life. They try to absorb what we have into themselves, so much so that they drain and deplete us. The end result is they turn on us with punishment for having what they cannot obtain and go hunting for their next victim. Vampires.

      • I’ve experienced this mirroring and watched it happen over and over again with his other relationships. It was strange to me. I am beginning to understand better now.

    • Thank you! That means a lot.

      I 100% agree. I did uncover a few lies within the first week after D-Day – things he’d told me in person, versus the things he’d told me when we were texting like crazy during the honeymoon phase – one of which was that he’d NEVER cheated, or ever would, since he’d been cheated on before. It was the same text conversation in which I gave him the pin number to my phone.

      Given the shovelfuls of bullshit he fed me throughout his affair, nothing he said really means anything anymore. A lot of it probably WAS mirroring, because there was just too many cutesy similarities to be real, when I really think about it.

      Thanks for the perspective! X

  • I also remember seeing those lifeless dull shark eyes of my betrayer.
    I would purposely not gaze into his eyes those last few years or so and I always looked to the side instead when I spoke to him.
    I was conscious I was doing that, but I was not aware why at that point.
    I believe now it was my intuition sensing the darkness that inhabited his soul and it was terrifying to see that displayed in someone I could not have loved any more.
    Our eyes are actually an exposed part of our brains.
    They are glimpses into the toxicity that bubbles within these FWs.
    It’s right out of a horror movie kind of stuff!

  • James,


    Pro tip: If you haven’t already, block your ex everywhere. Block all his numbers, block all his email addresses, block him on every social media platform. Shut down all avenues of contact. Block all mutual contacts. Yes, that includes blocking his mother. Sorry. Sounds like you liked her, but her loyalty will always be to her baby boy. Your ex burned the bridge and scorched the earth. There’s nothing attached to him that can be saved.

    I tell you this because abusers are lazy, cheating fucks. They know they suck, they know they have nothing to offer, and they know most people figure them out sooner or later. They burn bridges and run out of victims.

    Which is why they have a habit of circling back months or years from now with a sob story, trying to lure you back. Google the term “hoovering.” Pretty sure Chump Lady’s also written about it.

    Block him everywhere and you’ll save yourself BS down the road.

    • Thank you!

      Sound advice!

      I’m familiar with hoovering, unfortunately – my violent ex (the one 10 years prior to Rhinestone Geezer) reeled me back in many times, and I was burned each and every time. I eventually learned, albeit the hard way.

      I’m a different person now. I understand the importance of maintaining NC. I also know I’ve got to lead with my head, rather than my heart in this situation (though I’m not sure there’s any part of my heart that wants the shithead anymore either). I won’t be romanticizing the good ol’ days, because they were built on bullshit, and I know that if ever I wobble and miss him, I’m missing an illusion.

      I always used to feel scared when my violent ex got back in touch, because I couldn’t trust myself to not go back. This time there isn’t that fear, hoovering won’t work on me. What’s more, if his hoovering is anything as sloppy as his other domestic skills, he’ll have a fucking hard time of it! Haha.

      Thanks again! X

      • The “Rhinestone Geezer” though ????????
        Alongside KuntyKibbler and Unstable Stiletto, Klootzak and Cold slab O’Meat (among many worthy others) it’s Hall of Fame for FW names right there!!

        • Haha, I’m a little bit too proud of that one! If I wasn’t NC I’d tell him he’s been renamed.

          Those others made me giggle! KuntyKibbler! HA! x

  • This letter is awesome. And I always appreciate a person who does their face even under the worst conditions.

    • Haha, thank you! I once did a full face after waking up from a tonsillectomy in my early 20s – while absolutely off my tits on morphine. I’m not sure what the old blokes on my ward made of it, but it gave them something to watch! X

  • James, your partner is an idiot! Nobody who walks over someone as amazing as you is worth your time. I’m so glad you got in that taxi – better adventures are lookng for you! ❤

  • Hugs and congrats to James for surviving. I know how you feel.

    And thank you to Chump Lady, who does incredibly important work.

  • I found myself in an extremely lopsided relationship a few years after my divorce from my cold, controlling, verbally and emotionally abusive bully of an ex-husband (who also turned out to be a cheater: my discovery of his workplace affair was what took our dying marriage off life support).
    My new boyfriend (known forevermore as the Lying Cheating Loser) was younger, full of fun and enthusiasm, interested in my thoughts and opinions, and impressed by my independence and accomplishments. Or so it seemed. Actually, or so I projected and spackled.
    A guidepost in my life has always been to figure out my own payoff when I find myself in difficult situations.
    Like James, I was doing All The Things in my relationship. All the bills, all the grocery shopping, all the cooking, all the planning of dates and vacations, even all the managing of the alternate weekends when his two teenage kids were with us.
    And for a long time, I enjoyed it. I was getting the payoff of praise and gratitude for my efforts (something that was 100% lacking in my marriage). I was getting to bond with his teens and be bonus mom. I was getting to indulge my nurturing and thoughtful side by finding him fun little gifts at thrift stores and watching his eyes light up.
    And I’ll go ahead and say the silent part out loud: I was getting to have Control. Very attractive payoff for a recovering doormat.
    My relationship with the LCL was the worst four years of my life. I’ll spare you the litany of his transgressions (we’ve all lived it). Suffice to say that by the time he had fucked off his 3,478th second chance, I was four years in and I had had it. I called my landlord (the lease was in my name because Adult), made arrangements to rent a smaller property, and had him place a For Lease sign in our yard while I was at work. The LCL was home, playing video games and sexting his harem (because Manchild) and immediately called, incredulous at the nerve of me to terminate the lease two weeks after he had paid our rent (per our mutual agreement). If he had only known at the beginning of the month that I was going to leave him, he would have reneged on our agreement and left me holding the bag. Nevermind that I told him at the beginning of the month I didn’t see a future for us unless he made changes. I get why he didnt take me seriously, though, because I had never stuck to my consequences for his boundary violations. Until I did.
    It will be four years in April since my “cab moment” and I’ve gone on to build a fabulous life for myself. I will never say I’m grateful for all the bullshit the LCL put me through, but I am grateful for my own resilience and my capacity for introspection and untangling of my own skein.
    These disordered fuckwits know exactly what strings to pluck with us to get us to dance pretty. But if we untangle our own skein, examine our FOO or past relationship dysfunction, and pay attention to our payoffs, we can step off the Pick Me dance floor and walk away. And that is why I call myself the WalkawayWoman.

    • I’m going to use the Payoff Theory from now on, thank you for this great new idea. These people do everything from a transactional stance, so no reason we shouldn’t use it back on them.

      • Being aware of payoffs has helped me tremendously. It’s not the same as taking the blame for things we’re not responsible for (fuckwits love to blameshift) but rather recognizing our own unhelpful patterns so we can change them, for ourselves.
        In the words of that boob Dr. Phil: “We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.”

        • He also says “get real,” the most succinct really good advice I’ve ever heard.

      • I agree. It’s a useful ‘test.’ My therapist asked me what I was getting being in my relationship. It was a difficult question to answer.

    • YES WalkawayWoman! I’m so sorry you had to endure all of that after giving so much, but I love that you’ve flourished since – that’s the kind of shit that’s keeping me inspired and hopeful right now!

      “And for a long time, I enjoyed it. I was getting the payoff of praise and gratitude for my efforts (something that was 100% lacking in my marriage). I was getting to bond with his teens and be bonus mom. I was getting to indulge my nurturing and thoughtful side by finding him fun little gifts at thrift stores and watching his eyes light up.”

      THIS. This was me too. I don’t think my selflessness is entirely selfless, because it makes me feel so bloody good while I’m doing it. I love looking after people, I love picking up the bill, I love making sure people have a good time. It’s extremely fulfilling for me. I think I get so wrapped up in that, that I simply don’t notice when it isn’t reciprocated. I know I’m going to have to learn to pay attention to that in future relationships.

      Thank you for sharing your story! X

  • James – you are mighty! Two books that helped me and might appeal to you are by Jackson MacKenzie: Psychopath Free and Whole Again. REALLY clear writing, lots of head nodding and highlighted parts, good for charting your own continued evolution in to love (the healthy kind)

    I know your wit and humor will sustain you… but also know you’ve got a Jersey Mom (think Carmelo Soprano, but chunkier and not married to mafia boss!)… who is cheering for you!

    • Thank you! And for the suggested reading!

      You sound fucking FABULOUS! I’ve always wanted to be part of a tough lovin’ Italian Jersey family, ever since I watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey (probably a terrible representation of your State, but it’s my guilty pleasure!) MARONNA MIA! <3

      Thank you for the kind words, Jersey Mom! X

  • James, please don’t believe that what he did to you has anything to do with the kind of person you are.

    I remember watching a movie once about a cult. It showed how they indoctrinated their victims with love bombing, including unlimited hugs, faked empathy, unquestioning acceptance, and sessions of therapeutic sharing around the campfire. A friend who was watching with me scoffed, saying he’d never be fooled by that, owing to his self confidence and so on. I told him that anybody could be and that he was no exception, because all human beings want to feel loved. It is the easiest way to con somebody. I was 16 years old at that time. Despite being aware of this, at 23, it happened to me. I was love bombed into ignoring my better instincts.

    All we did “wrong” was to be human and assume we were dealing with another human, because who could possibly conceive that anybody would pretend to love us? What possible reason could a person have? We don’t expect it because it’s outside the norm, it’s antisocial, and we don’t understand how people like that operate. That’s what makes con jobs work. If everybody was a con artist, there would be no social contract, which leads to total anarchy. You have to be able to trust people in order for society to function. So you assume people are acting in good faith, because what’s the point of living in a society if you do not? You might as well go live in a cave. You’re a pro-social person because you’re normal, and you expect others to be the same. You have a *right* to expect that.

    You did much better than most at spotting it and getting out, so you’re a superstar among chumps. You’re going to get through this. I agree with the fuck love sentiment, at least for now, because we need to heal. Those are your good instincts kicking in again.

    • Thank you for the kind words and your wisdom!

      I remember hearing that it’s the people who think they’re immune from being indoctrinated, that are the most at risk. The whole campfire thing just emphasises how people are targeted on the most human level when they’re conned – it’s reliant on our inante need to bond with others.

      I was definitely in the “why am I unlovable?” mindset for a long time, but CL and this place pulled me right out of it. I’m not questioning anything I did anymore. I went into that relationship with love and integrity and I maintained it until the very end. Even though it was a shitshow and I got burned, I’m proud of that – I just gave my love to the wrong person.

      And well said! We HAVE to have trust in this life. I know mine’s been dented, but I’ll trust again – and I’ll love again. As I said in another reply, the fact that WE exist, is all the hope I need that there are lots of people out there that love the way we do.

      Thank you again! X

  • James,
    You are mighty even in your heartbreak. I also left immediately on D-day and boy does that feel mighty, even while your world had fallen apart.

    Block, no contact. I didn’t right away, and I did get the closure aspect of yelling at him, and I did get enough details of how it all transpired. BUT they will hoover. I was resolute, he disgusted me. But healing couldn’t begin until I was no contact. I’m lucky that he moved out of our small town so I don’t have to run into him, and we are older so have no kids together.

    You gave 100%+ in your relationship. Your partner should also give 100%+. And sometimes, one of you isn’t up to 100%, so you help each other out.

    We learn and grow from every relationship. And you learned that you have great instincts. You LEFT! You didn’t even need CL to leave, only to affirm your instincts.

    Love is out there, somewhere, when you’re ready. There are decent partners out there, that have decent families.

    • Thank you so much! And bloody well done to you too!

      I completely agree about NC. After my farewell note, there were a couple of messages back and forth to sort financial things out, but that’s been it. I mentioned in another reply that this morning he accepted my LinkedIn request (which I’d sent months ago), so I’m pretty sure he’s testing the waters already.

      Fortunately I learned about hoovering in my previous relationship 10 years ago – albeit the hard way. I went back repeatedly and got burned every single time. That’s not going to happen this time. I wouldn’t give up this sense of relief and optimism for anyone – least of all him, now I know who he really is.

      “You gave 100%+ in your relationship. Your partner should also give 100%+. And sometimes, one of you isn’t up to 100%, so you help each other out.” EXACTLY!

      And I completely agree! I’ve learned so much about myself – the fact my instincts were on point, and I wasn’t one of those paranoid crazy people, was hugely validating.

      Thanks again – I’ve mentioned a couple of times already in this thread that the people here – Chump Nation – is all the proof I need that there are others out there that love in the same way I do. And that’s very encouraging x

  • FIND ANOTHER GIVER. I have a new mantra. Thank you, Tracy.

    James, I wish we could be friends in real life. Your words brought tears to my eyes, esp the part about having to give up inside jokes, movie nights, etc. There is freedom and relief in walking away, but there is grief to process too. Thanks for your letter.

    • YES!

      Aww, thank you so much! I think Chump Nation is such an amazing community – I’d so go to a meet-up if there was ever one in the UK! The beautiful and resilient people here are just my cup of tea.

      And you’re right about the grieving process. I think one thing that’s helped me is realising that none of that stuff was really as special as I thought it was, because I wasn’t sharing it with an authentic person. What’s more, the inside jokes on CN are funnier!

      We’ll both enjoy those things again (if you’re not already!), but they won’t be wasted on fuckwits!

      Thanks for the kind words x

  • James,
    Your letter brought a smile to my face. You have a flair for words on top of being mighty!
    Don’t ever forget, you are the true gem!
    I hope you will find someone who will appreciate all your gifts and reciprocate in full.

  • I have been reading all these responses and they are so warranted. As I stated up above, APPLAUSE. I’m sure it was hard and it hurt but gosh do I admire you.

    It also brings up an issue I face in my mind lately. After 27 years of questionable behaviour in my primary relationship, I can’t even imagine being able to detect FWary again. What if it’s worse? How was I so fooled and manipulated? Ug, it’s so hard to think about.

    Back to you James. Thrive!

    • Aw, thank you! I’m completely overwhelmed by the support.

      If you’ve identified questionable behaviour over the course of 27 years, then you’re probably an expert at it! I can’t imagine how terrifying the prospect of jumping back into a relationship must feel after all those years of deceit, but I think CL’s advice to me probably applies to ANYONE scared of getting burned again: “Find another giver”. A lack of reciprocity always seems to be the common denominator in these relationships – that’s one of my biggest takeaways from this experience.

      And we’re all fooled and manipulated in the same way: they rely on our love and trust to betray us, not our intelligence or character. It’s THEM. Not us.

      And thank you, I will! You do too, you’re so deserving of happiness after what you’ve been through x

  • I’ve read every single comment and I’m so blown away by all the kind words! THANK YOU SO MUCH. All of you. I’ve never in my life felt so many people rooting for me all at once. I’ve lurked here for a few weeks now, and so many of your stories and comments have given me strength throughout this process – so thank you Chump Nation! You have my eternal gratitude. I’m trying to respond to you all individually!

    To my fabulous Midwestern Mom – I haven’t sent anymore letters, nor will I – I promise! When he responded he had the nerve to say that he’d be “paying the ultimate price”, as if he was the one who got wounded – no Rhinestone Geezer, you chose this! I didn’t respond. I’ve got the full scope of this man now, in ultra-HD glory and I don’t want him anymore. There’s nothing left to work with. We had some financial stuff to deal with and I kept it short and business-like, as per your advice on another post.

    Anytime I catch myself missing the ILLUSION of him (which has been surprisingly little – I’ve been too busy catching up on the TV shows I never got to watch!), I re-read my farewell letter, and it reels me back to reality with a SLAP. There’s something about your own words, written when you were feeling strong, that knocks you back into the mindset you were in when you wrote them. I’ve used that method to help me through bouts of depression before.

    I know you say the credit is all mine, but you have been a SAGE Chump Lady. Especially in amongst all the reconciliation shite that clogs up the internet. If you ever want a tag team partner for that Esther Perel cage fight you once mentioned, I’m game x

  • “ Sure, I’ve lost my home and partner, my daily dose of laughter and in-jokes. Takeaway and film nights. Cuddles, when they were a thing… But for the first time in a long time, I had a good night’s sleep… I feel RELIEF. And if that means losing all that stuff –- with a liar –- then it’s actually a very good transaction.”

    Over a year out and though I’m still all over the map, my relief is a constant. I never question whether leaving was the right thing to do.

    James, I hear your resolve and righteousness, but I have to add my voice to the chorus: beware the Hoover (and your lonely heart) nonetheless. Let that cab story be the final chapter with this fuckwit. Let CN live vicariously through your mightiness! May our belief in you hold you accountable. (I made a few similarly mighty exits, but I later returned and now have to live with a limping, undignified final exit instead.) NC is THE only way to go, which sadly might involve saying goodbye to fuckwit’s family, even if they’re on your side. I found it impossible to have authentic conversations with my ex’s family with that elephant in the room. We had to make a point of avoiding “it,” and for me, that was too uncomfortable and forced. I also just couldn’t see where the relationships would lead in the long run.

    Thank you for sharing your universal chump narrative with us. It’s remarkable – not only how you managed to leave, but also how you managed to write a story many of us could claim as our own. Sounds like you know your worth and are set with your career, but if you have unpursued dreams, don’t hold back. You clearly have something special.

    • Oops, just saw James’ reply after posting. Way to go! Love the suggestion about reading your own strong letter to stay clear and strong. I’m going to use that.

    • YES! This is exactly how I feel. I’ve never questioned if I did the right thing either, and that’s been a revelation. After all the pain, all the hyper-vigilance, and all of the cold and callous treatment from someone I thought loved me, the relief I feel is the SWEETEST thing ever. Like you, it’s been a constant – even during that first week when I would lay awake crying all night, wondering if I was ever going to be ok.

      The fact you still feel that relief over a year after D-Day, just reiterates how damaging these relationships are, and how important it is to champion our self-worth and GTFO. Well done for your mightiness too!

      And thank you for those wise words. I learned the hard way in my previous relationship why NC and deflecting hoovering attempts is so important – I got burned multiple times. That’s not happening this time. I’m treasuring the relief and optimism I feel. I have such a clear image of who this man is and what he’s capable of now – it’s impossible to romanticize any of it.

      What’s more, as you say, Chump Nation’s belief in me IS holding me accountable! I was thinking on that last night. People have said such kind, supportive words, shared their own stories, and told me that they believe in me. I couldn’t possibly let you all down. Or myself. Or the person who might have been inspired by my story enough to leave their own shitty partner. I’m in such a strong headspace, and this community has everything to do with that.

      So thank you too! I can’t wait to live again, even if it takes a little while to get up to speed x

  • Reciprocating with X was punch-buggie fun. I gave, and he bailed, so I reciprocated for myself. Over and over and over again. Until I got the message and just cut out the middle man. It was great because I was giving to myself at home and getting little shopping binges in return. As I now believe it should be. I bought my own damn flowers. And it seems he didn’t like that either because one day he got all pouty that I wasn’t giving him attention. He literally complained that – wait for it – I was “treating him like a paycheck.” That killed me! The man was gone 12 to 14 hours a day “working” at a job where he had no set schedule for when he could get home. Except he was the “Director. and I laughed at him and said “Well, stop acting like a paycheck and I won’t treat you like one. I think it went downhill from there. Ot uphill really.

    • Nothing pisses off a narc quite like realising they’re not your EVERYTHING anymore! X

  • Wow, you are SO mighty!! Just like CL said, you didn’t fold your needs into tiny recesses. I mean, considering your specific situation (being accepted by his family, for example!) I can imagine that this person must have been very hard to leave. Your courage is tremendous, and I’m sure you will find someone who reciprocates your investment.

    • Definitely, that factor didn’t make it any easier! But really, when I took into account all of pain he caused me, the fact I was accepted by his family wasn’t anywhere near a good enough reason to stick around. I could tell there was still a side of him that struggled with being in a relationship with someone like me (and there were still people in his life he never told about me). I never got to meet his son either, but wrapped his presents for every Christmas and birthday.

      Thank you for the lovely words! I’m optimistic I’ll meet someone worthwhile, one day! X

  • Friend, I love this. You know who you are, and you know your worth – and what you won’t settle for. That’s amazing.

    Invest in some picker fixing, and you’ll find yourself the partner you deserve.

    Your point about trans women and very femme guys… I’m transmasc, non-binary, and my pronouns are they/them. I’m sure you know some of the stuff I get to deal with – especially as I live on terf island (UK).

    I found my perfect person, someone who is, and has always been, proud to be with me and has always had my back.

    You’re gonna get that. You sound amazing, and there are so many people who would be proud to be with you. Hold out for an equal partnership, before throwing yourself in completely. Then, give everything, and receive it in return <3

    • Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m definitely going to work on that.

      Oh, I definitely know what you get to deal with (I’m in the UK too, so know all about our Terf infestation – I’ll never understand why one oppressed group would want to oppress another!)

      I’m so glad you found your perfect person! I have trans friends that are in wonderful, healthy relationships, so I know a proud and loving partner isn’t beyond my grasp – they can just be a little bit more difficult to find.

      Honestly, thank you for your comment – it’s really given me a big dose of optimism! X

  • Right? At a certain point the insult to your intelligence becomes at least as bad as the behavior itself.

    Mine fancied himself a lot smarter since he was 19 years older.

    He wasn’t.


    • YES Kim! 100%.

      I have my blonde moments, granted (I once left an oven on all night long), but I think I’m a pretty bright person overall. Whenever he’d lie straight to my face, I always wondered if he’d ever really listened to anything I’d ever said. If he’d ever gleaned from our conversations that I can be sharp-minded, a critical thinker, a problem solver, and someone that can usually put two and two together. I guess that’s what happens when you’re so far up your own arse, as these people typically are – you miss stuff! X

  • James, you’re a super strong badass who handled that situation in ways I only dream to have done. You’re up for good things in this world. Hugs and support from your queer/gender queer reader.

    • Aww, thank you so much my fellow queer! <3

      Ultimately I don't think it matters how well or how badly we handled it at the time. It's such a difficult, fucked up thing to go through. All that matters is that we're OUT. And we're now free to love and invest in people who do the same back.

      Much love! X

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