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Why Is No Contact So Hard?

gingerA lot of chumps falter when it comes to no contact (NC). It’s the most maddening thing — your brain will be very clear on the “dump the cheater” message, but the heart is emotionally sloppy and dimwitted. Much like my Australian Shepherd who flings herself daily at the mailman in a love/hate frenzy. Every noon she flails against the glass door, barking crucial missives that the mailman tragically ignores. How dare you step on my porch! Open this door and pet me! Can’t you see how PRETTY I am? Watch me do my pretty dance! I have a frisbee! Do you like frisbees? I LOVE frisbees! Wait! Do not walk away from me! (I am, however, pleased that you have stepped off my porch.) COME BACK!!! GO AWAY!!!

And then as the mailman retreats, she pees on the carpet, heartbroken. Unlike the schnauzer who is just full of contempt for mail carriers. And cats. And the dog next door. If someone has a treat for him, however, he’ll shelf his withering disdain for a moment. Schnauzers are mercenaries. The shepherd is a chump. She never learns that mail carriers are just there to deliver mail and really don’t give a flip about her pathos.

“Come back!”, “go away”, and also “explain yourself!” comprise the mental tape loop of limbo — that state where you’re not really in, and not really out, because you’re still engaging with the idiot. Like my shepherd, you can’t decide if this person is your enemy or your love object. Why is it so hard to go no contact? Why the flailing? Why the drama? Chump Lady has some thoughts on this:

1. This shit is addictive. Very few people just walk away and quit someone cold turkey. Even someone they know is very, very bad for them. Humans are wired to bond with each other, and un-bonding is extremely painful. Science says so — romantic love lights up the same centers of the brain as addiction. And loss of romantic love makes us temporarily deranged. They say there is an evolutionary basis to this — loss of a mate has bad consequences for reproduction of the species.

Now, combine your hard wiring to bond, with your hard-wiring to feel great distress at losing a mate, and throw in the addictive nature of unpredictable rewards on your brain. (Lots of science on that too.) What do you get? A real biological disincentive to go no contact. Kicking a cheater to the curb can feel like kicking a drug. You’ll have to sweat it out and suffer withdrawal. You’ll feel distress that is at odds with your rational brain, much like an addict who is trying to quit a bad substance. “Shit. I know cigarettes are bad for me… I just want one last smoke! Arrgh!”

2. Cheaters hoover. Just as you may have to fight off strong urges to stay no contact, the cheater often knows how to play your weakened state for ego kibbles. As mentioned above, the irregular rewards of an inconsistent love can keep you hooked. You will give those kibbles greater importance (she called! he texted to wish me happy birthday!) because they are so infrequent and unpredictable. It’s classic that just as you’re 30 days clean on the no contact, the cheater will come fishing. They’ll flatter, or cajole, act like nothing ever happened. Or they’ll do the fake remorse-ishness. Beware. You’re of use to them. They want something. (Kibbles probably, or for you to screw yourself over in the divorce). Cheaters suffer withdrawal too — withdrawal of kibbles. NOT YOU. Pay attention to the distinction. You were a good source, then you went away! Maybe they can mine that vein again…

Chumps confuse kibbles sourcing for love all the time. You don’t have to scratch very deep to realize that it’s still all about them.

3. There’s something in you that needs to keep hope alive. This goes beyond not trusting that they suck. You may have abandonment issues. Something about this drama may feel familiar to some old family or relationship drama from your past that you feel is unresolved. Okay! I’ll just try harder THIS time with THIS person and I’ll get a different outcome! (i.e., they won’t leave me.) You’re consciously, or unconsciously reliving that hurt. Fuckedup and unrequited feels normal for you at some level. You’re used to trying really, really hard for very little reward.

I’ll save you the shrinkage costs on your FOO issues. You’re not that kid anymore. You don’t have to put up with shit. You have choices. You are not powerless. You can be choosey about the people you have in your life. Learn to draw boundaries. Learn to holler NO! Learn to prioritize people who treat you right, give them your time and energy — yeah, even if it feels weird and unnatural at first. Step away from the jerk with sparkles.

4. Flubbing NC is a re-enforcing cycle. The more you stay in contact, the harder it is to go no contact. On the flip side — the longer you go no contact, the easier it gets, bit by bit, day by day. Have faith that it’s going to get easier. I promise you, you are going to get to MEH (on a Tuesday, of course). You just need to stay consistent.

So that’s four reasons why it’s so hard. Now then, why is NC so important?

Because the only way you can heal from the mindfuck is to get away from the mindfuck. The single most important thing you can do to heal from infidelity is free yourself from mental slavery. (Thank you, Bob Marley.)  It’s very hard to clear your head when your abuser is right in front of you pretending to be normal for entire minutes at a time. Or worse, arguing with you about how this is All Your Fault. The cognitive dissonance between the person you love, the mindfuck, and your common sense can make your head explode. No contact mutes the mindfuck radio and lets you think for yourself again. You will start to feel like yourself again (remember that person?)

Manipulative people cannot manipulate you if you shut them down. They need something to work with, so if you deny them access to the inside of your head, it makes it much harder for them to manipulate you. No contact is your best defense against mindfuckers and it makes you stronger. Chumps, you need every ounce of fight you’ve got. Don’t give cheaters your head and your heart.

This column ran previously. But a no contact reminder never hurt. (Staying in contact with a FW? That hurts.)

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Thank you for this. I’ve struggled with NC at times and I often wish I was “stronger” and have often felt broken or weak. Thanks for the reminder that there are strong psychological forces at work here and that I am not weak, I am just trying to break an addictive and difficult cycle. I appreciate everything that you do for us, Tracey

    • ☝️Yep, there’s strong psychological forces at work.
      I’ll add biological & spiritual forces too. There’s a difference between weak & wounded.

    • I use two phrases to keep me on track: Does it matter? and Will it make a difference? Also helpful: keep it simple.

      Getting my point across: does it matter? No, he never cared about what I thought. Will it make a difference? No, he always does what he wants despite anything I say or do. There is no better nature in him to appeal to. Stop beating your head against the wall. Exhorting him to step up and be a good dad for the ten-thousand and oneth time is not going to suddenly change his mind. No, it’s not fair. Go on anyways; kids need a sane parent. Focus on them. He has proven who he is, believe him. Stop the madness.

      When grey rock (vs NC) is needed (kids only) I can talk myself out of any lengthy explanations, reasoning or appeals pretty easily. Sometimes I do have to get it all out in an email that I delete before sending. Sometimes that helps me edit down to the correct response (24 hours later) to ‘just the facts ma’am’ and leave out all the emotions, even the adjectives. Sometimes No is the answer. I used to feel that I had to repeat No, no, no, no because he would clap back repeatedly—wouldn’t accept my answer (but finally he had no more power to do anything about it). Now, when I say No, I let it stand. He’s not lacking in intelligence and he heard me the first time. Anything else is met with radio silence. He doesn’t have to like it; his opinion is no longer relevant or important. He abandoned his kids and I am the full time parent. He lost our regard and will never regain it. He didn’t care to do the work necessary. Like just visit them even. Done done done.

      Sometimes, I just need to feel like I’m heard. There are better outlets for that (like my therapist) than the betrayer exFW. He doesn’t care. Anything I give him can and will be used against me. The kids and I have a rule between us: you can tell FW-father whatever you want ABOUT YOURSELF, but do not discuss your mom or your sibling’s business with him. Your sib can discuss their business if they want. Three years out and they don’t even tell exFW the name of their pet on a rare call or visit. I am a pro now at giving nothing away; that is exactly the treatment of secrets I got while we were married. I was entitled to much better than I got. That is why We are now divorced. He is no longer entitled to anything of mine including my thoughts.

      I remember during separation my old dog died. The first person I contacted was my teenaged son. ExFW was always mean to my dog. Still, exFW came to me afterwards, tried to hug me, asking why I didn’t tell him about it first. I was surprised when I realized he was jealous. I rebuffed him, told him he didn’t like my dog and that I wanted to share that very sad moment with someone who cared. My son cared about me and he loved our dog. Not him.

      We made these FWs our person. They conned us into it with the lies and the love-bombing. However, they did not reciprocate. We have the power to UNMAKE them our person. First, you have to understand that the mind-fuck was real—you are never getting love-bombing FW back because he was just a facade to get you to commit (if it seems to good to be true, it probably is!) You have to WANT to get free and live again and then you have to WANT to heal. Find someone else, someone sane, to hear you and validate you. Find someone else who cares to share the good times and the bad. Find someone who doesn’t care what you can do for them or that they have a right to you. Those red flags are the hallmarks of a transactional relationship. Even with my kids, I treat them like they have a choice about our relationship and vice versa. I now understand that am worth more than the sum of what I bring to the table. I will give the world to those I love but I will allow no one to abuse my love, trust, money, time and efforts any more. This me reclaiming self-love, self-respect and dignity.

    • Theories of brain chemicals and attachment are interesting but I still think abuse victims’ paralysis is a different animal than classic addiction, more like the intermittent reward/punishment of the Skinner Box. Bottles, pills and powders don’t stalk, don’t call at 4AM, don’t threaten to take the kids, don’t commit character assassination behind your back, don’t hide assets or worse. I think abusers’ love-bombing would simply seem absurd and suffocating to partners if abusers weren’t causing serious wounds to begin with, a bit like playing firemen to put out the fire they themselves set. They engineer the dependency and helplessness. It’s a protection racket.

      • Maybe (re: abusers causing wounds that keep us stuck). A lot of us bring other wounds into our relationships as well, though, or accumulate more that have nothing to do with the abuser along the way.

        I have realized I have complex PTSD, in part because of FW-related emotional traumas (like D-Days 1 and 2), but also the physical trauma of cancer in my 20’s, the emotional trauma of having an epiphany about climate change in 2011 before any of my friends or family members were willing/able to hear about it, etc. By the time D-Day 2 rolled around, I was just too exhausted from all of it to wrap my head around letting go – for a little while. (I’m gone now!) The love-bombing didn’t even feel *good,* it just felt better than active trauma.

        • You make great points. It diesn’t excuse abusers fir preying in people whose empathy and sensitivity was borne from harsh experience but it’s still a good argument to shield ourselves from exploitation following trauma.

          Nothing can prepare anyone for cancer before age 30 and I can see how this could cause an added mind-blowing dose of trauma.

          The following may only be relevant in a round-about way– the only people I know who had had cancer very young seem to all be exceptional brainiacs. I don’t know what the statistics are but that’s what I keep seeing. After hearing a medical researcher speak about the link between high IQ and “fragile mitochondria” (something about a less robust mito system theoretically paves the way for more rapid brain development) and consequent susceptibility to environmental oxidative stress (the presentation was titled “canaries in a coalmine”), I’ve wondered if the chemical soup we’re living in is picking off the brightest. Allergies, asthma, cancer, autoimmunity. It’s all rising.

          I also suspect high IQ can be a risk factor for trauma, particularly for girls. Remember the study about the “disappearing gifted girls”? In kindergarten, 50% of gifties are female, then by seventh grade, only a quarter. Researchers surmised many were succumbing to stress and depression which may relate to how “outlier” girls are treated even more repressively than he-geeks in social and school settings.

          Add that to the environmental illness theory and I’m not surprised your brain blew up over climate change. It may have been a flash of biological intuition. Plus it’s arguably happening for the same reasons discrimination is allowed. A unified theory of toxic shit, callousness, waste and short sightedness that turns gifts into liabilities. Anyone who isn’t freaked out is off their rocker.

      • ☝️ YES! ☝️ “They engineer dependency & helplessness”
        YES, “playing fireman to put out the fire they themselves have set”. Played (excellent actor) fireman to his just-as-deceived-as-me flying monkeys.
        YES, “intermittent punishment
        reward” TACTICS is exactly what was used against me with
        Malice & Forethought.

        Confusion frustration, rumination, desperation
        started & grew as beautiful
        love-bombing & future-faking
        turned ugly. “SADISTIC” is the code word I use to sum up the whole horrible experience. I became temporarily insane.
        Perhaps that sadistic one innately knew & used what
        Skinner revealed. Some of things said indicate such.
        “the carrot & the rod
        enforce control, never give much to meet a need or to satisfy a want”.
        He HATED truth in any form.
        Being a truth seeker/speaker
        enraged him. He hated me.

  • “Kicking a cheater to the curb can feel like kicking a drug. You’ll have to sweat it out and suffer withdrawal.”

    Truth! It’s hard to start but oh so glorious when the withdrawal part is over. I used to think that I couldn’t live a day without him. Then: years of hard-won NC that I had to work hard on. I had room (finally!) to grow and learn to be independent. And I learned that I was a better me when he was completely absent. Now my skin crawls whenever he texts out of the blue to discuss kid-related stuff. My body registers him as a danger–it reacts. Thankfully I never see him in person.

    So strange that once upon a time I thought I could never live without him (even when he was breaking my heart, staying out all night, and boinking younger girls while I was at home with our babies). Now I can’t imagine, even for a second, my life with him actively in it. I learned that every day he’s absent from it, my life gets better and better. I don’t even say that to be mean; it’s just an objective fact.

    Take heart, newbies. It’s hard to start but NC is a glorious blessing.

    • “My body registers him (her) as a danger–it reacts”

      Mine too, to an awful extent. Worst anxiety bouts ever. Cannot even eat when I am dealing with her.

      • Me too. I get really bad hives on my face and chest and my rosacea flares up whenever I have to talk to him or see him. My dermatologist’s answer? “Don’t talk to or see him!” Duh.

      • Me too. If I see his name anywhere at all my heart jumps then starts pounding. I get anxious and shaky. It ruins a whole day.

        • The strange this is that for a long time I thought that heart jumping and on alert sensation was intense attraction to him. I knew I reacted to him, and it took me a lot of no contact and emotional work to really understand what sort of reaction I was experiencing: fear.

    • “My body registers him as a danger.” Exactly, Fourleaf!
      When you are in it, you stop trusting your gut instincts. The mind comes up with all kinds of rationalizations that keep you anchored to the sinking ship. I appreciated reading Dr. Omar Minwalla’s take on this when he refers to the gut instinct as your second brain and how easy it is to be manipulated into no longer paying attention to it.
      Flight or fight… in the case of Chumps it is really both. Flight first then fighting for YOURSELF!
      I’ve been NC since I walked out, save for the negotiations on the property settlement prior to the divorce. I gave him 36 plus years of headspace, he doesn’t warrant a minute more. It is the smartest and best decision (outside of leaving) that I have made.

      • Mine died, after 44 yrs, but I still yell at him in my head. I was about to serve him, when he became terminal. I didn’t grow, find myself till he was out of my life.

    • ☝️Me too. Withdrawal was horrendous. Smear campaign against me was successful with some others so the withdrawal itself was contaminated, compounded & complicated.
      Know others can say the same.

    • ☝️Yep, I thought I could never live without him.
      Although I wasn’t married, engaged or living with him,
      because of love-bombing mostly, I believed we had a solid future, so I thought, felt & acted
      like that. He got cancer & I willingly sacrificed much to be with him for 2 months during a really rough position change at work. Months later, after he was well, when I needed (how dare I expected) some support regarding ongoing work situation?
      Funny, not funny, how long it took me to see the truth, the whole truth & nothing but the truth: No Reciprocity!

      • I had come out of a crappy marriage, so when I met FW, I thought love-bombing was love.

    • Right, I used to break out in hives when I would see FW’s phone number when we separated. Not that he was ever violent, just “boinking” girls behind my back (love that word FL…), but my gut registered him as “unsafe”.

      Now I just shrug and pass the phone to my kids, then continue what I was doing. No biggie.

    • Fourleaf- I am with you — I understand the physical reaction completely. When he comes close I register it like there is an apex predator near me. He is out now at rehab for major drug issues but talking about getting out and coming home and I am dreading it. I filed many months ago but at every turn he is blocking progress towards divorce. Not showing up to court or refusing any bit of agreement. Listening in mediation but refusing to concede to anything…In the few weeks time he has been gone, I have been so peaceful and now my anxiety is up trying to imagine his return and fearing his continued refusal to participate in divorce. His betrayal was complete— AP was 17 years younger and he was with her for about a year…I have struggled with verbal and financial abuse and serious continued gaslighting. They are predators and we are prey. Our bodies know what our minds cannot verbalize….

      • He’ll try to get his foot in your door…don’t let it happen as you’ll never get rid of him. Most cheaters are parasitic bums.

        • Thank you for the support. I feel you are correct and hate the anxiety and fear that I feel thinking of his return. The lawyer says I am not legally allowed to change the locks on the house doors. I am locking the doors to my mind and heart and attention. I am not willing to leave these doors open.

  • I wasn’t good at NC, at first. I didn’t have Chump Lady perspective, nor much self esteem to shore myself. But pure instinct told me to get the hell out and my gut would roil when he would attempt to get kibbles (he wanted MY apology!) I took baby steps and leaned on friends. He called me mean, crazy, abusive, conniving. Projection, much? It was especially difficult when he lived next door to me with his rotating bevy of schmoopies. That erased a good chunk of my caring, sanity, and functionality. I got to NC, but the price is I can’t bond/attach to anyone anymore.

    • One of the few things my fw ever did for me was to walk away (at first) and go no contact himself. Unknown to me he was desperately fighting for his job situation. (he was fucking his direct report and had been also lying to the admin including the mayor.

      About three months later he did hoover back and unfortunately I gave him another chance. But, because of the NC I knew within days this was wrong, he was using me, and I kicked him out.

      I do wish CL or similar had been around then. There wasn’t even any internet to do research.

    • FWFree,
      yes, we are mean, wicked, bitter, revengeful, crazy (of course, why not?) and owe them FWs an apology for their betrayal of us (oddly enough, there is a brazilian play titled “forgive me for your cheating on me” and it is not a comedy). My FW XW is just like that. And she too lives (the days she is not working at another city) not exactly next door, but very close. I’ve had to deal with the witnessing of the rotating door of new partners as well, it sucks, specially because of the fallout for my kids. She started dating (a lot) while stalling our divorce (afterall why not?).

      • It’s always curious that the most vicious backstabbers seem to be able to accumulate friends and supporters even after the point they’ve shown who they really are. They also seem better at “playing victim” than actual victims (who aren’t playing). I figure it’s like a boxer’s clinch. Bystanders instinctively figure it’s safer to keep a tight hold of the alligator’s tail than to let go.

      • Brazilian, wish I didn’t know what you’re going through, but I do. And you do too, for me. It’s obvious we can survive this, and shame on them for being such turds. Simply amazing what we have learned to endure. Hope you are all out and done with that. Kudos, and sympathy.

    • ????Yes, gut instinct. Things in general weren’t great, aside from relationship, before sudden, viscous devaluation
      started. A smear campaign had been spreading behind my back. I was nearly convinced that I was what the cheater/liar was saying EXCEPT my gut instinct
      was keeping me safe & sane.
      Years afterwards, I learned that liar was actually with another woman. Coward could have simply broken up with me with or without explanation. I was unnecessarily abused & very confused for his public persona.
      To me, gut instinct is really a holy gift from God.

    • ☝️Yep, projection. I got tons
      of it during the discard phase.
      I had no idea (then) why this sudden verbal violence began.
      Liar, Cheater, Coward, Greedy one refused to just say goodbye & to stay away. Unbenounced to me, I was replaced by another & became the backup kibble feeder. Each attempt of mine to gain clarifying information was met with some form of distancing behavior ~
      nice, neutral or nasty.

    • FuckWitFree

      Have you considered EMDR? It really works to heal those attachment wounds along with other wounds such as wounds to self-esteem and will enable you to trust, feel hope and bond again should you wish to. I have known about EMDR’s efficacy for years but it is another member on here who mentioned it and propelled me recently to start therapy (eternally grateful to that member!!!). I have only had four sessions and the difference to how I feel has been miraculous. I have childhood attachment trauma caused by abuse and neglect, a sibling who has NPD and was married for 20 years to a man with pathological narcissism.

    • FWF, you’re very traumatized. With time, patience, and more baby steps, you will definitely be able to attach and bond – to SAFE people.

      These may not be romantic partners. But they will be the friends, trades people, and other allies who don’t let you down.

      Free bonus: You will get much better at weeding out the unsafe people more quickly.

    • ☝️“ can’t bond/attach to anyone anymore”. I totally believed this too, but surprisingly without it being a goal, my heart is open enough now for possibility.
      Can’t turned to Won’t because I’m not at all looking, but IF presented with an invitation,
      there’s a possibility I just might accept ~ while being ???? Wide Eyed Careful ???? of course.

      He got a chunk of my goodness & chunk of my past. I refuse to lose anymore to my enemy. Healing hasn’t been quick, easy or simple. Probably some permanent damage: I walk with a limp, but I am walking. Maybe your can’t won’t last either. ????

  • Three cheers for my IT lady who killed the down voting. We’re working on the ad placement. Bear with me — I’m in the middle of a move (will post more about everything on April 19, the blog-aversary).

    • Hip, Hip Hooray! Yahoo for no down votes! Thank you IT Lady. Thank you Chump Lady!

      Good Luck with your move! May your packers be skilled and efficient.

      • Agreed, glad the down thumbs up is gone.

        CL – are you moving out of state? Good luck on the move, keep us posted on the details!

    • Good call on killing the thumbs-down button and good luck with the move, CL! Thank you for everything you do for us. I learned about no contact (and lots and lots of other helpful insights and surviving skills) on this site.

    • Wow – talk about mighty. Mere humans can only begin to imagine all you do, and you’re managing a move on top of it. Thank you CL, for all you do and who you are!

    • Ah, I got a downvote for some innocuous comment and realized this site has angry lurkers. No more downvote option– yay. Die mad, trollos.

      • Don’t be so hasty – I accidentally gave someone a down vote the first day.

        • True, that’s also possible. But the number of mentions CL gets on Reddit– mostly positive but some burning with pique– shows not all lurkers are chumps. More than one cheater has stalked their chump to this site and was left mumbling obsessively under their breath.

      • I’ve seen this kind of blog misbehavior before, and I think the goal was to undermine the community and ultimately wreck it. Somebody doesn’t appreciate Chump Lady and her good offices.

        Buh-bye troll!

    • Awesome! Can’t wait to hear about your next destination:) you’ve been such a inspiration. Love from the mitten

  • Perfect timing for this! I can vouch for everything here as I am going through it now. I’m 4+ months out from D-Day and have already filed. Unfortunately, the STBXW and I still live together until her place is ready since we have small children. At first, she wanted to act as though nothing had changed – spending time together, insisting we sleep in the same bed, etc. However, I soon realized that this was confusing at best and toxic at worst; with her daily love bombing, hoovering, and constant begging to “work it out.” Finally, I moved myself into another room, made an effort to spend my day apart, and generally did my best to ignore her. At first, she would follow me around the house and try to talk and keep my attention, and this is where Grey Rock helped me a lot. Over time she is realizing that my mind is set, thanks to these deliberate efforts at NC. Only a couple more weeks until freedom from the FW.

    • It took me 1 1/2 months to kick my ex wife out of the bedroom. It’s takes a little while to get the courage to stand up for yourself.

    • ☝️Yep, act as though nothing had changed (sometimes) +
      ☝️Confusing at best, toxic at worst.
      For me the confusion was toxic

    • WisedUpChump, toxic indeed! I couldn’t even think with him up my ass 24/7, following me around, standing in doorways, trying to make me hug him, whining that he didn’t sleep well on the couch. If he had paid half that much attention to me or how I was feeling before cheating, the hoovering might have meant something to me. As it was, it felt anywhere from confusing to downright frightening.

      He was already in the process of moving for a job, and when he left and I didn’t go with him, it was a relief and a blessing. I didn’t miss him or struggle with NC. I never touched him again, thank heaven (shudder). Since the cheating was a full year before DDay, I just take that to mean he had checked out long before, and there was nothing to miss.

      Wishing you a clean break soon, and gray rock that naturally evolves into NC!

  • This is a brilliant summary of my last year in therapy and comes at the perfect time. Unfortunately, having kids complicates this, but as my therapist gave me two directives that have been very helpful. # 1 “No arguing, or discussing feelings or thoughts–your ex doesn’t care and you’re only making yourself vulnerable to further abuse.” #2. “Remember, she is the person that cheated, lied, and did all the horrible things that wrecked your family. In other words, remember her actions.”

    This column is the perfect timing for me as I find my way forward. Thank you Chumplady!

    • ☝️Your therapist gave you 2 great pieces of advice. I got 2 clueless therapists in a row which prolonged & confused
      the devaluation phase.

      • Yes, a bad therapist does a lot of damage. I had one who told me that the ap “met my stbx husband’s needs” and I didn’t, as well as a lot of other things like that. Made it a lot harder to heal.

        • I’m sorry that happened to you. I had a therapist blame me for my husband’s cheating too. I walked out of her office that day and never came back but, almost three years later, STBX still sees her. Why wouldn’t he?? She lets him off the hook!

        • This therapist you had was an idiot or a cheater (probably both and in more than one way). I wonder why it is that easy to get an academic degree and a professional license that allows one to mess with people’s minds. This is horrible, retraumatizing (for chumps) and enabling (for abusers) advice. Mental health professional boards should be more exacting of whom they allow in their ranks and what schools are teaching shrink candidates. I don’t have idea of what should be taught but what this therapist said to you cannot possibly have been learnt on grad school, because it is bullshit. Sorry you’ve been through that.

      • I’m sorry and I hope you’re okay, now. Our marriage therapist did real damage and prolonged things unnecessarily so I do know the feeling. My current therapist tells me she’s at odds with most in her profession (unfortunately).

    • I am reframing the ‘wrecked the family’ thinking. It was not within ex FWs power to ruin our family; he exited stage left, cancelled his membership. If he didn’t want to be with us, good riddance. There was no possibility of reconciliation once the extent of the lying and cheating came out; trust was broken, never to return.

      We are still a good solid close family. Without him. We may be a little more world-wise, sadder, more rough around the edges and we have the scars, but my family did not crumble without exFW. It was refined. We got stronger. We learned from it and we grew as individuals. We carried on, made the best of it and are thriving without his toxic presence.

      You can be down but not out. Broken means that those heartless soulless FWs win. Not my kids. Not on my watch.

      • Wonderful! I like to tell people that you are a complete family without a FW or any abuser. A family without 2 parents is still a family.

      • Hell yeah. You are awesome! I should have phrased that differently, but my ex hooked up with a douche that befriended me and the kids as he was secretly hooking up with my wife. Both of them together wrecked hearts with their betrayal, but yes, my family unit is intact and stronger than ever with honesty and integrity as our core values. We backpack, road trip, build, and play music together–all things that strengthen bonds. And wrecked hearts heal though the damage lingers on .

        • (((Hugs))) Honesty and integrity will make it through the pain. These two people that did this to you and your kids are cowards.

          • Thank you. Doing much better, but my 11 y/o daughter went on a spring break trip with them out of state and I hardly slept I was so stressed out. (Her FW has a history of domestic violence). I’ve tried on multiple times to contact him and meet one on one but of course he refuses, and hides behind my ex. My poor daughter. She knows it’s screwed up but there’s nothing she can do since she loves her mom. Gaslighting kids though…that is really fucked up and that’s exactly what these cheaters do when they rewrite their narratives to suit themselves.

            • I hear you, TM. My then wife’s then affair partner had charges pressed against him for domestic violence too. I will not flood you with the details but the situation was as scary as yours, so I hear you and am deeply sorry for what your daughter is being put through. Like I said, they’re cowards. I am lucky the affair blew up on my then wife’s face (the guy dumped her). But the revenge she took on him makes me scared he hold grudges and might act on them at some point. My biggest fear is that my kids might be caught in the crosshairs, but even something bad happening to her alone worries me a lot. Spending nights unable to sleep out of worry for your kids is something I can relate to. More (((hugs))) to you and your kids. Stay strong.

              • Ugh. Thank you so much. Hugs to you, too. This is the worst part of this shit by far.

  • The best thing I did, right from the beginning, was ignore everyone that said this would all get better and after some time we might even be friends.

    Email only from day one until I was able to get the court to order use of a parenting app. Refusal of use for texts outside of emergency/ time sensitive situations. Insistent that swaps coincide with the start of a school day. Block everyone “neutral” on social media and stop using social media. Refuse more than vague pleasantries at most with Switzerland peeps. Refuse to check parenting software daily – Monday and Friday only.

    Going no contact is hard. I needed tools and support bc I knew he would hate not being able to mess with me and rebel against it.

    And it was rough the first 2 years even with all of that and a detailed parenting plan.

    For me the hardest part wasn’t NC, it was grey rock when contact had to be made. It was ignoring correspondence that did not require a reply. It was refusing to engage with BS. It was minimizing the engagement when I had to engage. That was and still is hard.

    Reading lies, misreprentations, attacks, snotty comments – and not defending, not becoming emotional – that is hard.

    I am 5 years out this August and communicating with him still cause me anxiety.

    But here’s a secret: slowly, you start to be able to predict what they will say, what fight they will pick, how they will respond, even that nothing has happened for a while and you know something is coming soon. and you will be able to laugh and make fun of it and I’d what mindfuck channel they are on.

    NC by any means necessary using any tools you can find. Side benefit: it really pisses them off.

    • Isn’t it so good when you actually see their moves coming!! Feel like Grand Master and they are a super-basic player. Once you see their MO, it’s so easy to be able to respond cool, calm & collected-ly!

      I loved it when I found out about DARVO. The first time he did it, it was so OBVIOUS!! And rather than be distracted into defending myself, and feeling terrible about what I’d apparently done wrong, I very coolly said something like, “Well, that may be the case, but let’s put that to one side for discussion at another time, because right now we are talking about [his appalling behaviour].”


  • I remember having withdrawals when I separated from my ex wife. The first three days I just shook uncontrollably like an addict getting off drugs. NC or limit contact if you have kids, is the way to go. Every time I break that it bites me in the ass. I remember in the beginning wanting to text her or call her. It always turned into her saying the divorce was my fault, I broke the family, or her insulting me in some way. I use to have panic attacks communicating with her. NOW I know how to limit my communication to just about the kids or an emergency. So much more peaceful!

    • “I use to have panic attacks communicating with her”.

      I don’t know if my body reaction qualifies as a panic attack, but I sometimes hyperventilate to the point of dizziness and just cannot eat anything. I can’t think or articulate my words right while she is yelling or insulting me, but even if it is text, I got myself very anxious. It is both awful and embarrassing.

      • I am sorry BC, this is the result of her conditioning. That’s the reaction she expects. NC is part of the cure that helps you revert the conditioning from repeated abuse. That is why it is so important. With practice and enough time without exposure you will learn to not react anymore.

        • FuckThatShit, I am really thankful for your encouraging words. I think she does expect me to cave in, because it has been my reaction for as long now as I can remember. This is the first time in my life I make a stand against her and it feels frightening at times (and I cannot explain to myself why; maybe it’s conditioning as you say). But I think I will keep the guard up this time. Thanks again!

    • ☝️Yep, the withdrawal shakes & anxiety attacks.
      Because I was determined to understand the sudden change,
      I kept making attempts at conversation. The at that time frustration & confusion (via his distancing behaviors) did eventually turn into longer lasting Regret & Anxiety.
      I wish you, me & all here PEACE

  • I realized yesterday that FWs have a hard time with emailing and normal phone calling when necessary.
    My FW XW was blocked on my whatsapp after a videocall last friday she asked me for to deal with tax returns. I ended the call after she yelled at me, called me names and treated me like her employee (if I were I could probably press harassment charges). All this in front of our kids, as usual. I had to block her because the harassment continued by text. I will spare you the details, but in short she thinks she is entitled to declare one of our kids as her dependant, even though their partially refundable expenses are all paid by me.
    I wrote her on monday an email letting her know I would not change my tax declaration and another one proposing that the kid’s physical custody exchanges (aka hostage exchanges) do not take place after 10pm anymore, being postponed to the next morning whenever this is not possible.
    I’ve got as a response a barrage of incredibly long (this coming from me, just imagine), aggressive and offensive emails. Didn’t respond yet and when I do I will only address what has actually to do with the kids, which is little. The last email suggested me to “try to find a girlfriend”, so that I would apply myself to good thinks instead of mistreating her (i.e., not allowing her to have my tax refund and not allowing her to harass me via whatsapp).
    Just yesterday there were 4 emails, 6 threatening sms (because she is blocked) and a barrage of whatsapp message and videocalls (4) after I unblocked her at around 4pm to keep her posted about our eldest son’s last visit to the ER yesterday night. Oh, and when school called both of us to take the kid early because he wasn’t feeling well, she reached out to me via the whatsapp parent’s group of our son’s school. I replied only that I was already arriving at the school. To sum up, the first days of tentative real no contact are not being much better than the least-contact-possible approach to this shit, but I still have hope that she’ll eventually get the message. Next step is buying my eldest son his own phone so that her videocalls don’t go through me anymore (an idea a fellow chump from CN gave me some days ago). Let’s see how things work out.

    • ☝️Good for you taking a stand. Keep standing. She’ll get it or just get tired.

      • Thanks, H&D! She never gets tired, so I’m left with hoping she’ll get it.

    • Stay strong BrazilianChump! And document that abuse, save those emails just in case…

      FWs crave attention, any kind, even negative it doesn’t matter. The worst thing for them is being ignored. She can’t stand that she needs you more than you need her after all. She will fight it hard but eventually she will go find her fun elsewhere if you deny her. She’s sick and twisted but you don’t have to be part of it anymore.

      • Thanks for the support, FuckThatShit! All documented and saved as you said. I think (in my case at least) email is the way to go. More formal, and no one’s supposed to respond instantly. One can even not respond at all, which sometimes is best.

    • And when you do find a girlfriend, she’ll rage even more.

      Do the courts allow parenting apps in Brazil?

      • Hi, HOAC!
        I don’t know. I don’t know much about law, let alone judge-made law.
        But I don’t know any brazilians that use coparenting apps (but I am a hermit of sorts, and not the least tech-savvy). My lawyer never mentioned this possibility, even though we already expected this kind of trouble down the line (she blocked FW XW on all her social media due to stalking and harassment). In fact, she always advised me to yield to the whatsapp thing with FW in order to avoid trouble regarding the kids (I am indeed a little bit worried to go against her advice, but I just can’t live in almost permanent anxiety anymore). I actually have first learned about coparenting apps here on this site but I cannot imagine FW agreeing to use them. Furthermore, our custody sharing is somewhat still rare and frowned upon by many judges. It is something called ‘alternate guardianship’ (literal, maybe innacurate translation), that allows for weekly custody exchanges. It is not positive, it is judge-made law. I had to appeal to have ours granted (even though it was also of interest to FW to have it, but she wouldn’t lift a finger). It presupposes civility and unimpeded communication between the parents. That’s why I think it might be seen as incompatible with the *need* to use coparenting apps and I would better not take my chances and maybe have my share of custody jeopardized just to make FW XW use them. I think email and a phone for the eldest kid is a good compromise and might work in the long run.

    • Hang in there, Brazilian. You’ve got this! Keep your firm resolve, and she’ll eventually get tired of expending all her vitriol without getting any response from you. One step at a time…

      • Thanks for the support, Eirene! I wish you are right, but she seems to never get tired. Don’t know where so much energy comes from.

  • Thanks to CL and early no contact, it was easy to see that every time he reached out to me (“I’d be happy to drop off groceries due to the blizzard”), it would be followed almost immediately by a demand. (“Since I’m planning to drop off groceries, I need to come into the house to take XYZ.”) I had very little power since he repeatedly ignored court orders, especially regarding finances. It’s sobering to see how few “caring” messages he sent, and realize every one was just to soften me up so I’d agree to his unreasonable expectations. It’s satisfying to look at his texts and emails and know he was probably furious because I didn’t respond.

  • Ah, no contact – my Achilles heel.
    Not because I contact him, but because it’s still so hard for me not to want to.

    I won’t embarrass or humiliate myself by contacting the ex. But I still struggle at 9 years post-divorce with wanting to. It’s HARD but I’m lucky that he went total no contact with me since DDay (or really D-moment).

    It doesn’t help that I have to see him because of the grandkids and an upcoming wedding. My kids are pretty much very limited contact with him except for when he decides it’s convenient for him to see the grandkids. It makes my blood boil. I’m still working on this last little piece of anger and resentment. Wish me luck.

    • When I read your comment I thought, Of course you want to contact him, and the reason you want to contact him is that he ghosted you. He left you hanging, and that means you feel the pull of wanting the mirage of closure.

      • ☝️ Yep, left hanging. I was so desperate for truth because I was so awfully confused.
        I got sick & sicker trying to get truth from “the truth hater”. Closure for me came after I discovered the truth myself by digging deep into psychology & christianity. It felt like a life or death battle getting truth.

    • I get where you are coming from. However what your FW and mine forgets is you cannot absent yourself from your adult kids and retain a full relationship with them.

      What you will see at your Grandchildrens’ events and the wedding is impression management.

      • Actually I don’t see impression management. It’s just cold and aloof.
        He is mostly silent, shares nothing about his life with his kids and he’s pretty uncomfortable in my presence. He cannot bring AP anywhere near us.

        My comment was about how I feel. Just waiting for him to even acknowledge my presence. It’s all in my head.

        I agree with Adelante that it’s because he has never said anything. Just shut down like a steel trap!

        • Rebecca, what an awful man. I’m so sorry.

          Why would you waste another minute on someone with such poor character? Only a very low person would abandon like that.

          You’re worth so much more than that.

        • Rebecca, your story sounds much like mine. My d-day was July 8 and it has only been since the end of February that I have gone NC. I had so much anger and hurt and wanted him to know! He had been having affair for almost 5 years with one of my best friends who lived around the corner. It was surreal. Surreal to a lot of people because no one saw it. My ex totally ghosted every snarky text I sent. I was just so very disappointed in him and I wanted him to know that!! I am finally understanding that he doesn’t give a shit as how could he? He led a double life without not giving a shit, lol! Anyway, he communicates on the surface with my 3 adult children (one of the three ghosts him!) and they resent that – they want something from him, some kind of remorse for turning our family’s life upside down. 35 years together, 28 married.

        • One more comment – how do we deal with a life time partner who has shut down like a steel trap? It was like sudden death for me and I have such a hard time dealing with this!!

          • Yes. 35 years. 30 married. Two children and poof gone. Therapist says he is trying to “punish” me. Which I accepted at first because it felt as if he was atleast reacting to me in some way

            Won’t use my first name. No response on administrative texts. He follows through but won’t acknowledge

            • Punishing me for divorcing him after abusive and cheating. He I guess expected me to stay and take it

          • ☝️ Yes, “surreal” + understand the “steel trap”. I attempted countless times to talk without any (good) result. Instead, my attempts were met with distancing behavior, verbal violence or indifference. Just the frustration from just the indifference was just as damaging & overwhelming as the other tactics to avoid truth. For whatever it’s worth, I send empathy & sympathy to you.
            Some people Hate the truth,
            especially about themselves,
            so Refuse it completely.
            Radical Acceptance is the goal

    • I would recommend writing a fifty page testimony listing every horrible, ugly, abusive, callous, demented or just icky thing he ever did or said and re-read it when the fog starts to envelop you. I wonder if what’s happening to you is just a trick of memory, like the downside of a faculty that people with a natural ability to be happy have– the ability to forget bad things and remember only good.

    • Sending you a warrior’s sense of mightiness. Looking forward to getting where you are as time goes on.

  • NC was very difficult for me in the beginning. As I have shared previously, he is a late life addict, was a good spouse and Dad, friend, neighbor for decades. Then it all fell apart, it took a while to realize the marriage mess wasn’t all about the howorker. I discovered the drugs, had intervention. I think I just wanted to save him from himself. Finally, I realized, after I filed, how bad he really was and I wasn’t going down with the ship. Then NC was easier. Try not to beat myself up for caring about somebody I had been with for over 40 years and had been a good husband for decades.

    It still get triggered if I have to communicate with him. Takes me a couple days to get over it.

    • Sandy this is good stuff.

      I think in many ways I felt the same way. I told my son last year after his dad died from a long bout with heart disease and emphysema that he and I had the best of (insert his name here) and she had the worst of him.

      I just couldn’t go down with that ship, and it was only fair that she did since she helped him poke the holes in the ship.

      I truely wanted him to straighten up if not for us for his son; but he had destroyed his whole life, not just personal but professional and there was no going back to that; so he took the path of least resistance and likely thought if he could find just the right toy he could be happy.

      I do hope in the end he made his peace, but there was no outward appearance of it according to our son and sons wife.

      • I understand Susie, it’s hard to watch someone destroy their life. I’m glad you found love again and have your son and his family.

  • The comparison to withdrawal from an addictive substance is apt. I chose to stop drinking alcohol three months before I left in order to make a “sober” decision. I also began a 12 step program even through I had absolutely no desire to drink and still haven’t for over three years.

    The 12 step model is a daily program with a meditation which begins:

    Just for Today I will try to live through this day only, not tackling my whole life problems at once. I can do something at this moment that would bother me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

    Here’s the rest of the meditation which outlines an achievable approach. As always, take what you need and leave the rest.

  • Excellent article, Chump Lady.
    Here your personal experience, your concern for other chumps & your wordsmith skill shines bright with crystal-clear wise advice.
    I picture you doing a Ted Talk
    using this along with a few other essential articles you’ve written.

    • I had horrible withdrawal symptoms from my ex abusive husband.
      It made no sense
      I read trauma bond material, I consciously understood what was going on and I could not stop the urge to drive by his condo.
      He was no contact with me, he has stopped speaking with me which I think was part of my trigger
      I hate to compare myself to Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction but I really did feel like “I will not be ignored! “

      I just had a new therapist explain to me about dopamine hits and the brain and addiction and all the factors Chump lady mentioned above.

      I went for one last visit to my old therapist and she mentioned some thing about My identity being enmeshed with his, we have been married for 30 years, and that I was not able to function without him –
      That pissed me off so badly I explained to her about the dopamine as my preferred interpretation
      I went home that night, was up all night in bed, literally sweating it out, exactly like I was kicking drugs /alcohol I would guess.
      It worked
      I haven’t gone near him since.

      It still hurts but I am able to control the urge to actually take action on it at least so far

      • I will add this is a man who threatened to call the police on me if I went to his office. Who had threatened me during divorce process and told me he did not want to see me, This after he had spent 30 years cheating and Emotionally abusing me.
        I finally have the courage to file for divorce. My point being if he had seen me driving past his condo I really could have have faced vharsh consequences, Not just narcissistic feed for him. He may have threatened to call the police etc.
        Yet I still somehow felt that if he saw me everything would be OK. So denial is not just a river etc. etc.

  • I had to learn this lesson not just with the EX, but also with the church that just wouldn’t stop supporting him. Oh, they said they were on my side, but only as long as I was twisting myself in knots to reconcile. The minute I said the D-word, they were deadset against me. I had poured my heart and soul into that church, and I had decades-long friendships there. I just couldn’t believe they would do that, and I kept thinking they just didn’t understand, so I kept trying to explain. I had always pictured living in that town forever, having my nice social community, and that my friends and I would get old and talk about days when our kids were small.
    I still have my journals in which I recorded the agonizing decision to leave. I forced myself to go, to move several states away–away from my then-husband and everyone I knew. It was a horrible time, and I desperately missed them all. Then after a few months, I thought about them all less. Then after about a year, I was happy to stay where I was. Now, two years later, I realize that all those people I thought were my best friends were really never very nice to me. They were always fair-weather friends who didn’t show up when I really needed them. The friends I have now–even though I have known them less time–come help me when I have a flat tire to help me get my spare on. They help me move houses when I need someone to lift heavy furniture. They show up. If I had stayed in that toxic environment, begging people to show me scraps of kindness, I would have missed out on real friendships.
    The grass really is greener on the other side of the chumpy fence.

    • I had a similar experience, not with church, but with work. We both worked at the same place, and most of my friends were colleagues (and also, therefore, colleagues of my ex’s). When I divorced, there was just one of those friends who I can say was a true friend I could count on not just for moral support, but with her actions. The rest were/are Switzerland friends, to one degree or another. 35 years of marriage; 30 years with these work colleagues/friends.
      I am also planning to move away entirely (although currently I am not able to do this, as I am taking care of my 96 year old mother), and what you have to say about how you have made friends in a new community is welcome and inspiring.
      I’m glad you are thriving!

    • I had to leave the very small community where I was living to a bit bigger, but still small town. I had to move a couple of times within that town (upgrading apts each time) before I found the wonderful apt. I am living in now. The first couple of moves, I barely had anything, pretty much no furniture, and I didn’t really have any friends and was self-employed so no co-workers. Then I got this great job with a wonderful ‘family’ of co-workers. When I did this last move I tentatively asked some of the young men at work if they could help me move, especially since my new apt. had stairs to get to it. I asked 4 guys. The day of the move, 10 people showed up with 4 trucks and another friend swapped my small car for his big van so I could put the mattresses inside of it and not get dirty/wet. I was moved out of the old and into the new in less than 2 hours.

      I remember feeling so overwhelmed with gratitude and amazement. I’ve never ever had people come through for me like that. And the guys were just so sweet and fun, and were equally amazed at my never having experienced that kind of support before.

      I hope to never leave this town and the great people who are now part of my life here.

      • I always read your comments with a bit of envy (and will read them now with more envy than ever!). I was born in Juneau (we lived in Douglas)–when Alaska was still a territory!–and even though we moved away when I was young, I yearn to return for more than the short visits I’ve been able to manage. Alaska is a possibility for me when I am able to think more long term.

    • I love “the grass is greener on the other side of the chumpy fence.”

  • I used to think of my ex as so handsome. Now I see him with his hair transplant, puffy (from drinking too much with his new party supply), and his smarmy grin as anything but handsome! That’s what No Contact did !!! There is an app called Silenzio that counts days for no contact & has a panic button in case you feel weak. Some people use it to get their ex back(ugh), others to keep on the road to sanity.

    • ????

      I had shared some of this with C6, I was the same way. Thought my fw was so cute from the minute I met him. He was not a big tall guy, but a bit taller than me, and big beautiful blue eyes with dimples.

      After the fall, and my eyes started to see again; he just looked like a big rat. So I changed C6’s phrase “rat faced whore” to rat faced bastard. Truth be told both fw and his whore looked/acted like little rats scarring around after he was outed.

      I wish I had those phrases in my head in real time, I would have said it to him.

    • Yikes, the OW used something similar to this– something like the “Drunk Mode” app– to punish FW when he failed to dump his family on various holidays (because real men stand up their kids on Christmas??). One of her frenemies copied and pasted a conversation thread about it which made references to past campaigns and sent it to me for some reason after D-Day. Three weeks was apparently the agreed upon optimal silent treatment, after which she would send “casual” texts to take the temp.

      I didn’t know the informant nor how they found my contact. It was jolting and humiliating to think how many people knew the affair was going on while I remained in the dark but I appreciated the info all the same. It demythologized the whole disgusting thing because it seemed so demented and pathetic to consciously use NC as a means of control. I could also see how the dim creature was losing ground on her ultimatums each time. She would break her own NC and thereby tacitly agree to continue as temporary closet bangmaid. That alone killed any temptation I might have had to do anything similar even if just out of weakness. The idea of FW lounging around knowingly waiting for harem members to tire of their own silly traps made me physically ill.

  • NC is hard to do. it’s early days for me but i only use email for contact and it’s all about financial details, kid stuff, etc. etc. that said, i fucked up and said something personal in an email and regret it, but i’m only human, FFS. i don’t like to show emotion because he uses it as ammunition–this is a painful realization.

    my X recently moved jobs inside the corporation and he didn’t take his secretary/associate with him–this is strange behaviour. but he left her behind. last time he shifted positions, he fought to have her moved with him (they pool the secretaries/associates in a particular way at the big corporation, it’s a bit weird). anyway, this time i commented that it seemed as if he was leaving everyone behind and that it was concerning. for context, X is an alcoholic and the disease is progressing. i’ve watched and wondered during this past year–his parenting skills evaporated and decision making skills declined.

    mediation has been ridiculous because of his blatant attempts at manipulation in the mediator’s office, but i just carry on as best possible. i’ve recently handed it all over to my lawyer because i can’t do anymore. we’ve 98% completed the separation agreement (SA), but, at the last moment, my X is refusing to transfer funds until i sign the SA. it’s controlling behaviour. he’s struggled with it throughout the process.

    god, this is boring.

    • I get what you’re saying. FW didn’t just leave me, he dumped everyone else. Friends. Relatives. Dentist. Doctor. You name it. Rebuild a brand new life somewhere else as if none of us ever existed.

      • it’s weird, isn’t it? my X even changed insurance providers, claiming he’d never liked them and wanted to change for years.


  • After three years of pick-me dancing, when I finally decided I was through, I was through, a decision and feeling reinforced by his dickish behavior at the mediation session I agreed to because I knew that until he heard from the mediator’s mouth that his mistaken idea we could substitute mediation for lawyers was just that–mistaken–he would keep pushing for it. At the meeting with the mediator, seeing him act out not just in private with me but in front of another person I felt I’d had a look at the person behind the mask I’d mistakenly thought was his real self (and had spackled like hell in order to preserve this illusion for myself). After that, primed by experience and education by CL and CN, whenever he’d send me email, I saw right through his attempted verbal manipulations, and would say, aloud, “Your Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me anymore.”

    All this, along with the sick panic I felt every time I saw him or his car at work (we worked at the same place) made no contact possible. Our son was an adult, thankfully, so there were only a few and far between times I did have to be in contact with him. I also discovered that when I did have contact with him, however BIFF that contact was, I always suffered afterwards, and this negative reinforcement also strengthened my resolve.

  • Oh my. Kudos to all of those with the mighty “I went NC right away”… I’m seriously the antithesis of that and I paid dearly for my mistakes.

    At risk of claiming the gold medal at the Pain Olympics, I may have failed at this to a dubious extreme.

    Aside from setting a boundary to end abusive phone conversations, I left a 6 lane highway of communication open. There was one day when I was ready to tell him to stop calling and stop visiting and that was the day he told me (didn’t ask me) that he was “coming home”.

    I don’t know if there was anything (short of letting me know that he had been fucking strange for decades) that could have convinced me back then. Everything in my life, soul, guts, and functioning screamed at me to make that “marriage” (or mirage as some of us like to call it here) work.

    I feel sorry for that gal I used to be. I was a devoted Catholic wife and the message from Faithland is to double-down on love and devotion – the very actions that make us more vulnerable to abusers. (In all fairness, the Deacon told me to protect myself and nevermind the spouse… i chose to ignore his advise).

    So I’m just putting up my Freak Flag of Failure for those who aren’t there yet… no shame… you would be hard pressed to do worse than me but (look at me!!!!) I’m on the other side and healing but know that failing at this did EXTEND my suffering significantly (as in many years).

    • In my comment, I said I was experienced in the art of No Contact because I’d employed the technique with my abusive mother. Unfortunately, I wish I could say I’d enforced NC with FW from Day 1, but was unable to; he had valuable information about our joint finances that I needed to procure before I could safely cut him off at the knees. It took roughly 15 months to uncover everything I needed to know, but once I did, he was dead to me.

  • NC Tips for Newbies:
    1. Trust that NC will heal you. As CL explains in LAC;GAL, take it minute by minute and hour by hour. It really gets easier.
    2. Ask a trusted friend or family to read anything you might want to send the FW; my sisters nixed and/or fixed so many emails (God bless my sisters!). If you have to communicate, use your courtroom voice.
    3. “No” is a complete sentence
    4. You don’t owe the cheater an immediate response. Often you don’t owe any response at all.
    5. I recommend blocking FWs from texting. I think it’s too immediate. Use email instead, and only when it’s absolutely necessary.

    [Note: My final text to him was to let him know that I was about to block him from texting and would only communicate by email. He lost his shit, emailing me 9 times in 10 minutes or so. At one point, he said he would miss even the negative interactions. #KIBBLES.]

    Now I cringe whenever I hear from him. I don’t know if I’m at meh. I certainly don’t want to hear from him or hear anything about him. I never want to see him again. And I’ve gained a life. But I’m still angry AF.

    And hurting

    • I too would announce my decisions or give ex FW warnings of consequences in the early days. No longer. They did not afford us the same courtesy. I say —block without warning —saving yourself the oil slick diatribe. They will figure it out. Use parenting app for kids. Just don’t tell him what you are going to do, in advance, about anything. He is not your friend and if they can screw things up for you they will. If nothing else, for the drama. Just do it. He will find out soon enough. You can hear about it then. The parenting app tends to make them mind their manners better, and if not, you have date and time stamped evidence.

      Ignore all sludge that is not an actionable item: ExFW: you are an idiot fucking loser.I want to see my kids. I will meet the kids at 5:30 at X restaurant tonight. Don’t be late. Me: I cannot get them there at that time. How about (this weekend or) 6:30? Him: fine. Me: ignores all phone calls and texts fussing about he is there etc. arrives on time to restaurant

      Instead of: you wanker I don’t get off work until 5:30, it’s a 20 min drive home and 20 more min to the restaurant you chose. There is no way in HELL I’m leaving early so you can spend 50 minutes and eat with your kids. While I wait in the parking lot. Because it’s 20 min there and 20 min back again from home. Asswipe. (I might even treat myself/ grab a bite myself while waiting).

    • “I never want to see him again. And I’ve gained a life. But I’m still angry AF.”

      Oh Spinach, I know *exactly* what you mean. When I got that stupid phonecall(post above) I was so

      *enraged* that he would *dare* to try to initiate any contact after all the shit he pulled; quite apart from fucking the rat faced whore, he made the divorce as difficult as he could, proposed a 40-60 split of assets in his favour(after spending £24000 of marital assets on himself and his greasy skank), and tried to go after my pension as well.

      That he actually thought I would be stupid enough to contact him after all that shite enraged me even more.

      And yes, it still hurts, even with a bubbling cauldron of rage overlaying. ((hugs)) to you. xx

  • Another bonus of no contact is it infuriates FWs. I know my ex is incensed that I ignore messages that don’t have to do with directly parenting our son. He loves to say I’m “not speaking to him” to anyone who will listen. Funny think is Talking Parents is full of messages I initiate and my responses to his messages. I ignore crap like him demanding that I call the IRS and MAKE them process his 2020 return so he can get a giant refund he believes he’s due. word salad rants where he commands me to not argue with our teenager? Left on read. A message of him asking about a summer camp? I respond politely and have an amicable back and forth discussion about it. I can’t wait until my son turns 18 and I can block his dad everywhere. 🙂

  • This one- It was in the cards for me to read today. Anyone else? I’ll be sharing this with a close loved one too(unfortunately) tell me your struggles with leaving
    I’ve quit smoking, drinking, cut out most sugars now for the hard stuff- “love”

  • So this may sound petty but in the beginning, I wanted him to hurt as much as I did. I knew that any begging or pleading on my part would not accomplish that. Plus I knew I was done, so what was the point.

    I blocked communication immediately and told him to go through my mom if something urgent came up. In doing so I inadvertently protected myself. Yay!

    Obviously this worked for me because the children were grown and FW didn’t try to hoover at all. By a combination of good luck and desire for revenge I conquered NC.

  • I cannot stress enough the importance of No Contact! I was married to a top shelf, grade A Abandonner. He abandoned me literally the week after our wedding. He picked a job that would keep him away a lot, or so he said, then hobbies, friend groups… he started a wine tasting group when I got pregnant with our first for Pete’s sake! I lived on and for crumbs our entire marriage, always jonesing for my next dose. He was the life of the party when he was around. It was fun, if you don’t mind the chaos, the rage fits, the constant drama. I secretly loved when he would leave. I noticed the patterns, I noticed I didn’t feel the same way when he was around and he wasn’t. I started feeling bad for our kids and making excuses… and of course there were always a plethora of girls around his “work” of “friend groups “ that I was not invited to.

    Fast forward 10 years, 2 kids and a ILYBIANILWY “a divorce wouldn’t be so bad” talk in the middle of a movie. I already knew what I had to do. NC/grey rock was my instinct, but god it was hard. I was also scared of going it alone with 2 little kids. I knew it was withdrawal, even from the bad stuff. I caught myself pain shopping late at night on social media and had to cut that shit off. But I came to understand that this intermittent reward thing cuts both ways. I understood that when he would call or text me it wasn’t for me if the kids’ sake, ever, but his. So however bad I wanted my hit, I also refused to give him his. No kibbles for you sir. So if it wasn’t important/urgent I would not answer, or answer the next day. Business emails only from my end. Eventually he got it or I weened him off. Either way it is blissfully peaceful now (5 years later).

    • To be clear he tried hard to keep me engaged when we separated, waving the possibility of “being friends”, then of “closure” going to a couples counselor. Later he got more cunning, waving big red flags in front of my very angry bull of a temper against his unacceptable behavior, trying to get my negative attention. Some of my favorites:

      Calling me on a Monday, school day morning to complain the kids had nothing to wear at his house.

      Being very late picking the kids up at school.

      Not responding to my attorney’s letters during divorce. OK I had to respond to this shit with an angry phone call, which I still regret.

      And so many more…

    • “I came to understand that this intermittent reward thing cuts both ways. I understood that when he would call or text me it wasn’t for me if the kids’ sake, ever, but his. So however bad I wanted my hit, I also refused to give him his.”
      This is brilliant! And so true!

      • ☝️Yep, as confusion lessened, anger rose. NC was at first a sort of revenge reaction aka a taste of your own medicine. But NC turned into what it’s meant to be: Self Protection. Besides, the only way to end an addiction is to not take a hit.
        Don’t take the bait.

    • FTS, you have my complete sympathy. The horrors of the Sparkly Man have to be experienced to be believed.

      The guy who’s terrific to everyone except his own wife and children. Ugh.

      I really appreciate and value kind, stable people now. Sparkles give me the creeps.

      • Thank you Lola. It is hard to convey and nothing compared to some of the horror stories shared on CN. More like death through a million paper cuts. I mostly felt bad for the harm caused to my kids. Still do.

        I see through the sparkles now and I almost want to laugh whenever I see him, because it is laughable really.

        To real people, peace and quiet. Also cats.

    • ☝️ “I lived on & for crumbs”.
      Sorry. Me too. It hurts my heart for everybody that finds themselves in that place.
      Trying so much for so little.(Including Will Smith)

  • I don’t give my heart to anyone anymore (especially men) so NC is a piece of cake.

  • As the former mother of a Schnauzer (RIP, Elliott), I consider myself lucky in that by the time I was chumped, I’d had many years of practical experience with how to effectively go No Contact with an abuser. Sadly, that abuser was my own mother and after being tormented by her for the first 35 years of my life, I finally said “Enough“ and officially terminated that relationship; I simply didn’t want her anywhere near me or my children, and blocking all contact was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my adult life. As you might expect, she — like the many abusive, controlling, cheating spouses people in this community have had to deal with — she wasn’t at all pleased about being cut off and ignored. Every time she tried to break through my defenses, I simply added another layer of granite to my already deep, wide and tall castle walls, and finally, after I dug and filled a moat with alligators, she gave up trying to weasel her way back into my life. (Note: if any of you female readers have experienced this type of toxic “mothering”, there’s an excellent Facebook group which provides support and encouragement. Look up “The Sisterhood: Daughters of Narcissistic and Abusive Mothers“).

    Anyway, my point is this: by the time XH of 40 years dumped and divorced me so he could skip off to Happyland with Married Howorker, I was extremely proficient at implementing NC. It’s been quite a few years now, and the grapevine says he’s still confused as to why I want nothing to do with him.

    In short, NC is truly the path to peace. And IMO, the key to success is to be ruthless and not allow any seepage of their toxicity into your environment. You must disengage verbally, physically and visually in order to disengage psychologically and emotionally.

    NC literally means ZERO contact. It means NO phone calls, text messages, IMs, posts on social media, cards, letters, gifts, coffee dates, joint parent-teacher conferences, sitting together at your children’s soccer games, attaching GPS gadgets to their car, late night messages to the AP informing them how they’ve ruined your life, etc. It also means not asking your children, friends or relatives to spy on them and their activities; the more you know about their life, the less able you’ll be able to disconnect. Similarly, you don’t want them to know anything about your life, how you’re doing, who you’re spending time with, where you’re traveling, your job promotion, etc. You must cut that cord completely — they lost the privilege of knowing what’s going on in your life when they chose someone else. And if you have younger children who are natural sharers, you need to teach them the value of keeping a secret. Yes, for newbies, it may be very difficult at first to navigate this altered dynamic with your abuser, but with time, it gets progressively easier and easier. Whoever said, “Out of sight, out of mind“ knew what they were talking about!

    And for those who want to/need to go NC but have minor children and a court-mandated parenting/visitation schedule to follow, you may still be able to bypass “co-parenting” by implementing “parallel-parenting”, especially when the parents have a contentious relationship. I’ve been told that unless your parenting plan specifically states in writing that you and your STBX must personally, in the flesh, be present to hand off your minor children (and what abused spouse would permit that to be in their final decree?), you can implement parallel-parenting without the other party’s consent; they may fight you like crazy (taking away access to you means taking away their kibbles), but as long as you are providing ready access to your children on the appointed days for the proper number of hours, you are in compliance. And all communication concerning the children should be done indirectly through a court-approved and court-monitored app like “Our Family Wizard“ or something similar (your attorney can request that this boundary be put into your final decree). You do not have to sentence yourself to many years of hard labor by dealing directly with an abuser; if you get creative, there are other ways to exchange children besides having direct contact.

  • I have him saved in my contacts as a .

    On the rare occasion we communicate, it much less jarring than an actual name, and a reminder that he is just a spec.

  • I was married 21 years to a cheater who finally decided the grass was greener at the neighbors house. I went 1-1/2 year after my divorce still playing the pick me dance, and puffing on the hopium pipe. Everything your NOT supposed to do after Dday I did. I handled everything in a way that was not beneficial to me and my well being. I finally went total No Contact and my life started to get better in a matter of a couple weeks. Its not easy, but total No contact is the key to moving on.

  • “2. Cheaters hoover.”

    Oh yes. And sometimes they try and do it *years* later, believe it or not.

    NC is a lifesaver, but sometimes even total NC on your part won’t stop them having a go.

    Case in point, I went total NC right after Dday, 2017. We’ve been divorced since January 2019. Fucktard is blocked *everywhere*, he doesn’t know where I live, I’ve got a new email address. I’ve never contacted him.

    A few weeks ago, got a voicemail from a total stranger, asking me if everything was OK with my *booking*, and to please contact him to make sure everything is OK, and I’m *happy*.

    I thought it was just a wrong number, and ignored it. Next day the bloke calls again, with the same spiel. I said, hold on, I don’t know what you’re talking about, I haven’t booked anything, and how did you get my mobile number?

    Oh, says he, Mr. Fuckwit gave me this number! Stop right there, said I, I haven’t booked anything, and don’t call this number again. Then I blocked it.

    So fuckwit gave my mobile number to this person, because he had no other way of contacting me, and I think he was hoping it would upset me, or I’d break NC to ask wtf he was playing at.

    I didn’t, of course! But it just goes to show there’s no cure for narcissism and entitlement – the fucking arsehole thought even after everything he did, and *three years* after I divorced him, he’d try it on, hoping for a reaction from me. The mind boggles! ????????

    • Mine sent me a ‘happy birthday, wondering how you’re doing’ email to my new (6 months in) work address 17 YEARS after we broke up and 10 years no contact. I mean…these people are deranged.

      • They certainly are. *10 years*!!?? Dear God.

        They just can’t bear to be ignored, to know that we’ve moved on. ????

  • NC is sometimes an ideal rather than a reality. Like the time ex’s ill-maintained car caught on fire while he was speeding down the freeway with all 3 of our kids in it. State police kind of forced my hand after that one. Or the time he was sleeping on his sofa and failed to notice our 13-year-old daughter sneaking out of the house to go see the 20-year-old that ex thought was such a great guy. Had to deal with ex to figure out WTF the love nest was.

    Sweet, sweet NC sometimes has to be broken. You just hold your nose and plunge in.

  • Really struggling with this. I keep hoping I can find a happy medium. Does anyone have any experience with that? I know it’s not rational.
    I’ve been on here a lot lately getting so much good advice. I’m 6 months out from d day. A discovery of a 7 year affair with vacations. It knocked me down harder than I knew was possible. I am severely depressed and just just just starting to be able to function. My daughter is struggling too. He wants to make it work and is agreeing to a generous settlement, going to individual therapy, not gaslighting or blameshifting anymore, he moved out right away and is not speaking with the AP anymore (I believe him). My brilliant daughter can’t even believe I would consider forgiveness. And I don’t think I am? But part of me wants to hold on to a small sliver of hope. The tiniest maybe. Going no contact doesn’t allow that and the pain is crazy. I’m a broken record CN. I know. I’m on my way to therapy right now where I already feel embarrassed about being a broken record. I just can’t stop missing and loving him. It’s tragic but I don’t want to go no contact. Any one out there find a way to coexist with contact?

    • Lost, cheaters don’t change. They just get older and craftier. I wasted my entire life (I am 73) on the frail hope that I was mistaken, that he didn’t cheat, that he’d never do it again, that it was only once… don’t be me.

    • Was the relationship acceptable to you? Once you decide, the path is clear.

      Choose yourself Lost. We are here for you.

    • “…. he moved out right away and is not speaking with the AP anymore (I believe him)”

      Dear Lost, *why* do you believe him? He’s a proven liar. I understand why you want to, we’ve all been there.

      I definitively found out from texts he’d sent boasting about his fuck fest with his rat faced whore. He tried to persuade me it was” just lad’s banter”, and “nothing happened”. I really, *really* wanted to believe it, for about 24 hours. CL and CN set me straight – classic gaslighting.

      Choose *yourself and your daughter*, not someone who has betrayed you once (that you *know* of), and if you let him in again, he will do it again, probably just more cleverly and deeper underground. We’re here for you. ???? xx

    • Lost, there is no happy medium. Im so sorry.

      I also want to say that 6 mos out is still early days. I was still at the bargaining stage of grief then, trying to convince ex of the irreparable damage he would do to his kids if he walked away from our family. The DD came after six months of him saying he wanted a divorce.

      My cake eater ExFW was a serial philander over a 30 year marriage. I survived 3DDs. I sought advice from a lawyer after the third DD. I sought advice only but the very kind man I had said to me ‘I’m going to help you. Because you need help. ‘ and he said we were filing for divorce. I was not ready or prepared to pull the trigger, but honestly he listened to me carefully and knew that there was only one solution to the situation. The only details were settlement, who filed and if we were going to use adultery as a for cause.

    • Don’t do it Lost. FWs never change. Cheaters cheat, liars lie, that’s just what they do, that’s the one thing you can count on sorry. He is just grasping for straws, trying his damndest to avoid consequences, just ignore it. That relationship was not acceptable to you, and he has nothing better in store for you, especially if you take him back after that. I applaud your honesty though, this is exactly how it feels in the early days, because 6 months is still early days. This is not love, it is withdrawal pains. You have to stay strong. Shore yourself up with your daughter, your therapist, besties, all you can get and ride this out. Stay NC and get this divorce settlement, it gets better if you stay the course.

    • Hello again, Lost –

      Ah! The return of the Lying Liar Who Lies!

      Yes, this is absolutely the bargaining stage of grief. Lost, there are no unicorns.

      But there ARE thousands of people on this blog who’ve gone down the “I believe him” path and have ended up financially ruined, emotionally destroyed, and abandoned.

      Please protect yourself legally and financially. This is the minimum self-care you need to be doing right now. I think you’re creating false opposites that are holding you back.

      I can assure you that:

      You can love someone AND stay away from them for the rest of your life, for your own safety and theirs as well.

      You can forgive someone AND divorce them, getting your full legal rights and your financial recompense.

      You can also care about someone AND go No Contact to the fullest extent.

    • Lost, I am so sorry you are struggling with this. I am 66 years old. 14 years ago, 25 years into my marriage was my 1st D-day. I forgave, believed it would never happen again, he was a good guy, everyone thought so. 2nd D-day, in the middle on a pandemic, I discovered an AFF account, years of lying, cheating, gaslighting… they do not change. Thankfully, I found CL and CN, and am on my way out. I hope you do the same, good luck!

  • I went through confusing intermittent withdrawals for 33 yrs. The last four years before I knew I had to leave was spent distancing myself physically and emotionally from an abuser. The marriage was dead. I knew he meant nothing but harm and I was nothing to him unless it was to be used and a front. Going NC was a relief.
    I did have a few interactions for the kids right after we left. I realized I couldn’t do it even for them plus they were older. There wasn’t a relationship between them and I was still trying to manage their awkward encounters thinking it was for the best. Nope nope nope. I was trying to be mindful of their feelings. I felt a bit guilty that I had processed while we were there deciding we had to leave while they had to process more afterwards. They knew what was happening at home but not that I was planning to get us out as safe as possible. They still have no relationship with the ex.
    Unless it’s court, I’m completely NC. I don’t speak to him there either. I mentioned here that the last thing his attorney asked me last year( 5 ys post divorce) was when was the last time I spoke to him. I was confused because it had nothing to do with why we were there. I realized he still wants the attention, interaction, and bullying but using the court system to accomplish this which what disordered people do.

  • I wish I had thrown him out immediately on D-Day, but I made the mistake of accepting my cheater’s attempts to comfort me for the pain I was experiencing; of believing his excuses. Then I fooled myself into thinking that his apparently very strong feelings for me would cause him to grow a spine and leave the other woman. I even thought that the new possibility of being honest with me about his real life and feelings would soon draw him closer to me than to her, because he was still lying to her. I projected what would be my own discomfort if I led the double life he led, onto him; but I learned over time that he was not morally uncomfortable with living that way. On the contrary, he felt like it was revenge for all the times he had been rejected or humiliated by girls as a teenager. He felt entitled to have a woman at all times, a proverbial “wife in every port”.

    He was a very experienced and very charming and passionate liar; he even used his own real feelings to deceive people, selectively revealing parts of himself whenever it served him. The truth is, I did feel addicted to him at first, so much so that I kept pushing away the realization of how slimy and sleazy and basically cold he must be to tell the hundreds of lies he had been telling, month after month, year after year to maintain his advantage; so cold that he could even experience devastating consequences, lose his first marriage and lose contact with his children, but still start the whole charade over again! It was not until he left town that I was able to fully take that in. I guess my head was in the blender, big time.

    In order to become unaddicted, I had to create my own aversion program. Whenever I would be tempted to get nostalgic about the good times with him or to contact him for comfort, I re-read a whole folder of lists of bad things I had learned or observed about him, also some lying emails that I realized he had sent to me when he was with the OW. Beside each, I had clipped evidence of where he really was and what he was really doing. It was immediately sobering and made it much easier to maintain no contact. I can look at a picture of him now and only see his faults and dissipation and arrogance. I received an actual hoovering letter from him recently, years after he left, and wasn’t even tempted to answer it. Every line reeked of self-deception and entitlement. It just made me laugh.

    • ☝️Yep, “he was not morally uncomfortable” was my first
      reality-based realization. Lots of real to wrestle when one is thoroughly deceived.

  • 100% agree with CN here, I thought it was just me. I get so anxious talking to my ex and it really messes with my head and ruins my day – there’s a lot to be learnt from these comments !

    My ex has recently been trying to meet up with me in person and has said ‘we should go for coffee’ – yeah – I shut that s*it down – I will never be in the same room as her if I can help it nor will I speak to her on the phone.

    I have felt so much better for example recently where I only pick and drop off my daughter from school.

  • It took me a while to catch on! I was conditioned by a narcissistic FOO to come running towards and take responsibility for FW-manufactured crises. I started and stopped NC many times. I didn’t even like the guy at that point. It is an addiction! I kept trying NC and one day it stuck 24/7. It’s been four years running.

    It’s helped to install a spam filter from my cell provider and have all calls go to a Google number. (Picked an area code 3000 miles away from me in an area I’ve been in or will go to.) You can report spam and block calls there, too.

  • What if your only “non kids” related contact is to call her out on her lies and cheating?

    “You can’t take care of the kids because you have to work? No problem. FYI, you used the same excuse when you were cheating with your ho-worker.”

    I have no desire to get back with the cheating ex. None. But I feel the need to call her out on what she did.

    • B— It took a long time for me to understand that they did what they did because they don’t care. They aren’t sorry for what they did and if anything they are only sorry they got caught because -consequences. You can call them out but their response is yeah, and? So what. They don’t have the same moral compass and don’t hold themselves to the same standards. Calling them out constantly makes you look crazy, like you can’t let it go to the audience, and gives the ex FW negative attention (they still care, they can’t get over me!).

      They will never ever ever accept or take accountability for what they did. They are wired that way. And you can’t make them. The path to peace is this: trusting that they suck and walking away.

      Righteous anger serves its purpose to spur you to get up and out. To get thru the legal jungle. Past that it can be destructive or detrimental to your recovery. Put those feelings to good use in therapy with someone who believes infidelity is abuse. Talk to a trusted friend. Tell them to someone who cares. If the exFW did, they wouldn’t have done what they did in the first place. The betrayal is massive and it’s damage is not going to go away quickly. I have found no contact really helps.

  • I’ve heard it said that having contact is like pulling off the scab of the unhealed wound and starting over each time.
    Acceptance is easier to come by with no contact.

  • NC is hard, especially at first, but the longer it goes on (2.5 years and counting for me) the more I realize there’s no other option. Because Best Regards is a narcissist, that means he’s an energy vampire, and I can’t have contact with him without him trying to latch on and suck more energy out of me, however he can get it, positive or negative. It’s all he knows how to do with other humans–bleed them dry. So, there’s no contact scenario that I come out of healthier and happier. Knowing that from the outset makes it easy to keep the NC rolling.

  • Yesterday was the 4 year date from the finality of the divorce , and it entered my mind all day as I helped my son and his gf move into their new townhouse.
    I’m still struggling with the only contact I have with the FW, that being emails, and I dread seeing his name on my phone or computer, even as infrequently as it now happens.
    I usually ignore the email for weeks, maybe months, but we share a real estate property, so things do occasionally come up to decide on.
    I suffer angst ignoring it though too, it stays on my mind when I know I will need to eventually open it and probably respond, though I do keep it gray rock and emotionless on the surface, I always suffer beneath.
    I don’t like the fact that he recently moved to the same state as my three adult kids now with his wifestress, I was hoping he’d set up camp on Mars instead.
    I don’t like the amount of space he continually occupies in my brain (he, living our glorious retirement dream with his young new wife and me stuck in “ life just doesn’t feel whole or right anymore” that I don’t see the exit door out of, or not fully sure I really care to even look for the exit out anymore.
    I think I must appear as the mentally deranged member of the previous couple, since I’m the only one not happy or moved on of the two of us. ( maybe because I’m the only one that actually did love!?)
    I’m honestly not pursuing ‘happy’, I think it’s an overrated goal.
    I’m looking for ‘safe’ and being able to trust my life,even if it’s not wildly exciting like it once was, I need to feel like I’m standing on a foundation that is not about to crumble at any second from under me.
    I know none of us stand on steady ground ever really, that’s an illusion, and that life will always be extremely fragile.
    But, it’s a different level of fragile when you don’t even know what,if anything, you have to lean on to any degree at all.
    Do I even need to know someone has my back? Or is that just a way of making me feel I’m worthy of another’s love and care and it just shows insecurity in wanting to feel that?
    Maybe it’s totally unnecessary anyway, even if it feels like a modicum of protection from the daily harshnesses of life, that someone deeply cares about you.
    I do know I can depend on me, I don’t see myself leaning on another to keep my security intact again in this life.
    That doesn’t exist for me anymore. It probably was never real, it just felt safer for some inexplicable reason.
    I can’t say I’ll change the way my world view has been altered over time, but right now, and it’s been 4 long years, I will only depend on myself, the only solid person I know that can be trusted to not screw me over.
    I don’t want to think of myself as a failure because I can’t get past that belief, I feel it’s keeping me safe and safety trumps love in my mind right now.

    • That’s the trauma talking. I hear it, it’s the same voice in my head some days. They took away our future, the dreams we had, the safety we had in navigating life together.

      I am mostly content, and being NC has helped that tremendously. I don’t have to know about his partnered life, about him transferring our dreams to her.

      In the end we have to be our own safe person. It’s hard to trust someone else to be that/

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