Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Tell Me About Your Boundaries

noI think one of the hardest things to learn as a chump are boundaries. Not that chumps are doormats, but we have consciences. And caring makes you particularly vulnerable to FWs.

Manipulation and boundary-crossing only succeeds if there’s a caring person there, capable of shame or empathy or feelings of responsibility.

You’re so selfish, I can’t believe you won’t change the custody schedule!

(Am I selfish? Am I being unreasonable?)

It’s good to ask yourself these questions, to be introspective, to strive for fairness. But you’re also allowed to say no. To not please. Or accommodate. Or give in. Or keep the peace. Or engage.

So today’s Friday Challenge is to share with CN how you enforced a boundary. Okay, so you turned down hosting book club this month. That’s a baby boundary. But maybe you’re out there dishing justice like Judge Maya Guerra Gamble to Alex Jones. “Don’t talk.”

Today’s challenge is courtesy of a comment “Josh” left at How Do They Flip So Fast? 

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

One of my favorite things is setting up boundaries and making it known that the only involvement we have is the kids, it’s so nice to say you’re not a part of life like you think you are. Nothing gets her going when she starts with a rude text and I get to say the conversation is over and you’re not a part of my life like that.

Well done, Josh!

More boundaries, CN?

TGIF!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Switching all communication to email- keeping it super gray rock “k.” Forcing him to provide dinner once a week for BOTH kids (had been just taking the kid that spends time with him out to dinner). Saying “no” when he tries to change plans at the last minute. The kids are starting to give him their own boundaries- this week they both turned him down for his usual “visit” because they are busy with other things.

    • “The kids are starting to give him their own boundaries- this week they both turned him down for his usual ‘visit’ because they are busy with other things.”

      YES!!! Great modeling. So healthy! 👏

    • Switching to email was 100% the way to go for me, too.

      Another game changer was realizing nobody ever deserves an explanation from me (short of a judge or police officer, but even then, you shut up and ask for a lawyer). Explanations are courtesies, not required. Most people don’t deserve them.

      Abusers control their victims by manufacturing chaos and then making you feel obligated to participate. My ex kept me stuck for YEARS because I thought I was being rude if I didn’t respond to anything he said or did – because you can’t just ignore people, right? Unfortunately that line of thinking only works with someone who’s reasonable and respectful, and abusers are neither. They’re NOT interested in the truth, they don’t care what you think, they just want a fight.

      So I stopped explaining, stopped arguing, and ghosted him. Didn’t ask permission to leave our crazy non-relationship, or tell him I was leaving, I just disappeared.

      He freaked out and stalked me for a year, sending me messages demanding an explanation, but I never responded. Eventually he gave up.

      For me, silence was the ultimate boundary.

  • A few weeks after I asked my cheater now-ex-wife to move out of our family home into our second home pending divorce, my cheater ex-wife parked in my driveway when I wasn’t home and sent my youngest son (13 y.o.) into my house to bring her some small appliances from the kitchen. She sent him because I’d changed the locks and she didn’t have a key and son did. When I learned of this, I emailed cheater wife and told her to NEVER again enter my house or send anyone into my house when I’m not home. #BlenderBitch #CrockPotHo #TwatWaffleIron

    Things seemed to get better from that moment. It is SOOOO important to have space that is PHYSICALLY separated from your cheater and their traveling tornado of chaos and deceit to feel safe and begin to heal.

      • I hate that she used your child to fetch her things. 🙁 One of the first rules I learned in a parenting through separation and divorce class I took was to NEVER use your young child as a mule or a message delivery service (ex. giving the child a message to give to the other parent or “Here, this is this month’s child support cheque; give it to your Mom for me, okay?”).

        Even though I went as NC and grey rock as possible (I hardly ever talk to FW; we are very estranged), if something comes up where I do need to talk/text to him (briefly!), I do it directly myself (example text: “The kids will be ready for pick up at 4:30 instead of 4:00 today”). Never use the children as a impartial third party because they’re not impartial; it hurts them.

        Apologies if I derailed the thread here. I just got quite irked when I read that a FW sent a child into a chump’s house to fetch things for her.

        • FW would use our son to convey messages all the time (“Daddy said to ask you if I can go with him early on…”), and even worse than that, he’d sometimes have my 7/8 year old child interrogate me. Literally my kid would come in and stand there spewing out a litany of questions: “Daddy wants to know why you…”, “Daddy said to ask you if grandma did XYZ”, “Daddy says you don’t like [OW]”. FW would even prep my son to say insulting things to my mom, whom we lived with (like rub it in her face when Biden was elected, since my mom is a staunch republican, or say something insulting about Christianity – no matter if my own political/religious views differ from hers, that is NOT okay). It was SO inappropriate. I would stop my son and say “If daddy has a question, he can ask me himself”. I told him that asking questions/sending messages were grownup jobs, and he didn’t need to do grownup jobs because he is a kid. And that it was okay to tell his daddy I said that the next time daddy asked him to carry a message. My son expressed to me that he didn’t want to do these things, but he felt like he couldn’t say no. He said “I’m afraid what he would do if I told him no”. UGH UGH UGH. FW took the SAME parenting class I did (required by the state), which clearly said “DON’T DO THAT”.

          It was funny though, when FW insisted I come and get all my things out of our marital home (for his “emotional health”, LOL – meaning OW didn’t like seeing my stuff there), I did indeed take ALL my stuff, including the BED (which was mine before we were married). I had the movers take it straight to the dump! And the next week my son said “daddy wanted to know what you did with the bed”. I told my kid that was none of daddy’s business. But it was satisfying to see that it bothered my ex. I so rarely did anything petty like that.

        • Yes, it was very confusing for my son. He knew I was mad, but to him it felt I was mad at something HE had done. It didn’t help that the first d-day occurred because son teased his mom in front of me about the texts she was sending a receiving with heart emojis (from one of her AP’s as it turned out).

          • My ex did the same, however, he sent our son into his and smoochie’s house during their divorce after it came out that she repeatedly BEAT HIM😂😂😂😂😂. (I can’t make this shit up!) Our son felt weird doing it but also empowered as smoochie was a wicked witch to him and my daughter. I got involved as it prompted a phone call and email to FW letting him know that asking our children to retrieve his things in a hostile environment is unacceptable.

            • Yikes, that’s like (admitted cheater) Alex Jones’ second wife being arrested for assaulting him with a shampoo bottle on Christmas eve. Yet he defends her and buzzes his ex wife in a helicopter to harass her. FWs are beyond comprehension.

    • I had a similar situation. Changing the locks once they leave is a good step toward setting up boundaries. When I did it the day after FW moved out she went crazy. That and no contact set the tone

    • I hope that stunt cost her in court. How are you and your son doing now? I hope this is long in the rearview mirror for you guys.

      • Yes, more than a decade in the past and all kids doing well, thank you. But those first couple of years were rough. Lots of enmeshment between that son and his mom, lots of fear on his part that his mom’s love for him was as fake as her love for me had been. Now mostly resolved, and his own adult life is crowding out his mom’s ongoing circus of dysfunction.

  • Restricting contact to only one special email set up for that purpose. I now never check it and it’s tagged as spam. Inner boundaries-I don’t talk about FW. Never mention him. Refuse to go there. Push people away who want to bring him up. Got rid of all photos and mementos. Now it’s emotional boundaries

    • Agreed with those inner boundaries and those “Let’s not talk about him” boundaries. I never, *ever* bring up FW in conversation.

      • Same. I instructed people who might have any information about him to keep it to themselves.

        When they forget and share (because they think I’m interested?), I’m usually thrown back on my heels yet again.

        Shut off the info spigot, even from well-meaning friends.

        • I have actually walked out in the middle of a meal out when FW was brought up. I simply smiled and said, “ I told you I never wanna talk about him again. Bye-bye”

        • Spinach…same here with ex as the topic never discussed amongst friends. Recently I bumped into a couple with whom we were social before dday – hadn’t seen them in years. She asked if I ever hear from ex. For a moment I was just stunned & speechless as no one had ever asked me that as everyone in my circle knows he’s a fuckwit runaway. I recovered quickly & said that I have no contact & changed the subject to their grandkids. Still it sent me for a loop.

      • I took a different tack. I am rocking grey rock, only about the kids when communicating with FW. But I think that *never speaking about him* connotes a level of importance that is not true and undeserved. Hate is not the opposite of love; it is indifference. Otherwise known as meh. My betrayal shattered my and kids world down to the very foundation, nay, to the secret sexual basement of cheater Ex. But we raized that house, and built a cheater fuckwit free life away from him. He no longer holds importance or relevance to the now.

        Talking about what happened and various rehashing of my young adult kids memories around the dinner table is healing for everyone and helps them with their adult understanding of what was going on in their lives as children. I will never tell them they can’t speak to me about their dad. They have cut ties mostly anyways due to his terrible behavior and abandonment. So I don’t get an inquisition in the now. Likewise, when describing ongoing challenges with ex cheater FW I can hash things out with trusted members of my family. Still, I actually bring (our joint) my past experiences up from time to time in conversation as we both worked in the same field, it doesn’t hurt and it’s just an acknowledgment of my past life. That was then and this is now. I’m not confused. And talking about (non triggering events of) the past doesn’t hurt anymore.

        • Queen of Shade,

          Agree that indifference is the opposite of love. Honestly, I don’t think I’m there yet.

          I would add, too, that I think there’s a difference between talking about FW with family/trusted friends as a way to process everything (I still bend the ears of those closest to me and comment here almost daily 🤓) and getting unsolicited information about what he’s doing, whether he’s got a dog, how he looks etc… For me, the unsolicited info is problematic. Maybe that will change as time goes on.

          Bottom line: when the scabs are still forming, it doesn’t take much to interrupt the healing.

    • Love this! I only use his nickname, never say his actual name. He lost that right when he cheated, now his is ManChild until the end of time

      • ManChild says it all!! Love it!

        To me, a nickname reminds me of x’s place.

        One of my sisters coined GM (garbage man).

        Here I use: x (lower case for the symbolism), FW, or cheater.

        Today I wrote his actual name in a text to someone, and it felt very weird.

      • I too refuse to say his name ever again…he who shall not be named is called Fuckface forevermore.

      • Ditto here with the nicknames. FW even got to referring to his twu wuv as “Schmoopie” because that is what I was calling her, until just the other day he tried to correct me to her actual name when I mentioned Schmoopie. I just gazed at him and smiled. She will always be Schmoopie to me 😉 . He doesn’t get to influence me any more. Wait til he realizes his nickname is Fuckwit LOL.

  • Boundary for me was not listening to FW’s incessant gaslighting about the legal system and just saying NO without arguing it. I got to a point where I’d just pull the segment out of the legal agreement and sent it in OFW. He still wouldn’t follow it.

    So a couple of months ago (as we updated our child support) he tried to mansplain that the fact that he didn’t have more than 20 days custody didn’t matter in the calculation of child support. And he continued that he would send the calculation from his attorney and I was to accept it so there wouldn’t be a lot of “back and forth.”

    He sent it. It was wrong (my Google search calculated it better than his idiot attorney). I didn’t bother to discuss it with FW. I sent it to my attorney. I included FWs lies about custody. And my attorney set him straight.

    His attorney tried to claim that I somehow wasn’t letting him have his custody. BS but I’m not arguing with the gaslighter. I just sent along FWs email that said he agreed to calculate on the basis of not having enough custodial days (because he was certain it didn’t matter) and told my attorney to just say no. She agreed.

    We sent it without further discussion and FW had to agree to max child support.

    My boundary was that I’m not fighting a pig in mud. Here’s the facts. I’m not discussing anymore.

  • It took $8k in attorney fees and multiple calls to the sheriff, but he now understands that he cannot come into my house.

    It took thousands more to get OFW, but he can’t call or text to harass me anymore.

    He still doesn’t understand why I’m adamantly against any changes to the custody schedule, but I’ve held firm for about two years now.

  • According to the divorce agreement, if either parent moved out of our town, the other parent reserved the right to request changes to the custody arrangement 9and everything that goes with it).

    One year after the divorce was finalized, the Kunty Kibbler notified me that she and the Chlorine Special had just purchased a home together in a neighboring town. Included in this notification were references to issues with getting our daughters to and from school during the weeks they were with her: “there will be days when neither CS nor I will be able to pick them up after school . . . Would you be amenable to the girls going back to your home after school on those days, and either (CS) or I would pick them up from your home 2-2.5 after work on the days they are with me?”

    I knew immediately that “there will be days” actually meant “every day.” They wanted to use my home as a waystation so they neither of them would have the inconvenience of having to leave work early and live up to their child coverage obligations.

    I never raised the issue of adjusting the custody schedule since it was the just next town over, but held firm that if the girls were going to be coming to my house during my “off-weeks” for non-emergency reasons, then I wanted to be able to see them. So if I agreed to this, they could be picked up after I got home from work, not at KK’s convenience. That was my boundary.

    The rage that ensued confirmed that the intent was never the occasional day here and there or in case of an emergency. When KK fumed, “If you still have an issue with this, you need to explain to the girls why,” and I said I would explain it to them, she raged, “WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! If you are angry at me don’t punish your children by making them worry about where they can go after school!!” and similar invectives over the course of 2 months.

    She eventually figured it out somehow and took care of her own responsibilities, always painting me as the bitter, cruel villian. My relationship with my daughters never suffered once.

  • This prompt is a timely one. Right after he moved out, he wrote the following:

    “Since you have the mini-van, I assume that you’ll be taking the kids to my house and picking them up. I doubt that their things and the dogs will fit in the Mercedes.”

    “Sure,” I said and, for three months, I’ve been packing everyone in the 2007 Honda and driving 45 minutes, every other week.

    No more.

    Last night, I wrote him an email letting him know that I will no longer be transporting the avalanche of the kids, their computers, their suitcases, the dog bowls, the dogs, and the leashes, over to his house.

    I was met with fury.

    Unhinged rage.

    How did I expect him to put all of that in a two-seater?

    So, I did what someone on this site suggested months ago and politely informed him that I was sure that he could figure it out, but if he was truly struggling, I’d be happy to drive the 2021 Mercedes SLK while he had the kids so he could borrow my 2006 Honda mini-van.

    Crickets.

    I wondered for a minute, but I figured it out. This is what a well-set boundary sounds like. Nothing. Complete silence.

    If you listen closely, you can hear the birds and the whoops of the neighbor’s kids playing in their pool. You can hear your own heart, slowly beating. Coming back to life.

  • The biggest boundaries I’ve enforced have to do with contact and communication.

    Early on, he texted me a lot. Too much. I would hear that “ding text notification” (I know, I’m a boomer), and jump to respond. It was actually my adult kids who told me that he didn’t need an immediate response, that texting is too intrusive, and that I should communicate only by email. After 35 years of a mirage (thanks, VH), I was so accustomed to catering to that man and so trauma bonded that I felt I HAD to be at his beck and call EVEN AFTER I learned of the infidelity and he had moved out. At around this time, he admitted that he enjoyed our exchanges, even the angry ones. He said he would miss them. 🙄 It’s revealing that my lawyer helped me when he said, “He (cheater) doesn’t get to call the shots anymore.”

    When FW started sending me letters c/o our daughter because he doesn’t know my new address (which upset both my daughter and me), I told him that he needed to communicate with me through email only. I used my courtroom voice.

    The emails have stopped, for the. most part. He seemed to get the message when I either didn’t respond or simply answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” No he uses the same voice if an email is necessary.

    In a recent businesslike email exchange, FW said he wanted to change the divorce decree to save himself some $$. He seemed to think I would agree to this. I wrote, “No, I will not agree to any changes.”

    It felt so good!!

    TL;DR: A people pleaser by training/nature, I struggle to assert boundaries. But doing so has helped me regain my sense of self and my power.

  • I elaborated a few of my fails on a recent thread but some of my successes were with boundaries:

    – If spoken to badly on the phone, I interrupted with a “this conversation is over” and hung up

    – I refused to move and he would go into cataclysms trying to convince to to do it. No.

    – I refused to rubber-stamp his stupid ideas (so he could later blame me)

    – If he tried to serve up blame, I returned with a grey rock “I dont control you, this had nothing to do with me”

    I also needed boundaries with my parents (Cluster B) and one of my favorites was declaring that any inappropriate criticisms during a family gathering would result in our immediate departure which might happen in the middle of Christmas dinner or opening gifts (which were moments sacrosanct to my agnostic mother). By then I had a boyfriend they adored and the only children, so the departure of my camp would turn the celebration into a ghost town and they knew it.

  • The “downside” with boundaries is that if you enforce them IN a relationship with abusers, you’re still not getting anything you want.

    You have a boundary? Oh, they leave or they escalate or they go behind your back. That’s a main factor in why so many people in abusive relationship learn to deactivate theirs. They’re trying to preserve the relationship.

    Too bad the game is rigged and the relationship will still blow up eventually, boundaries or not.
    Boundaries work fantastic for when you’ve decided to step out of the hostage situation and live your life!

    • “Too bad the game is rigged and the relationship will still blow up eventually, boundaries or not.”

      They want to have sex with other people, forget the “unmet needs”, spouse is controlling/too clingy/bad housekeeper/spit shiner and on and on. They will just use whoever you are as their excuse.

      The excitement runs high, then the fall. They are NOT going to take the blame for the fall. That is the fault of the BS because after all they were not perfect as cheater was.

    • Well said. Plus, narcissistic types will frequently reject you entirely when you set a boundary, especially if it as a friend, colleague, or dating relationship.

      • Regret – I set a boundary for the first time with a decades long friend. I said “no” with respect and affection, but still “no”. They ended the friendship. It helped me understand the other traits I had observed in this person were also overt narcissism and that my voice hadn’t mattered for a long time.

        • Good for you!! But I’m not surprised. I have a family full of these disordered typed and we are estranged because they can’t respect simple , basic boundaries and norms.

          My ex therapist and I used to disagree about this — she would claim these freaks are suffering guilt and loss over the split. I would say , No, they don’t because they don’t care.

          In his book Lundy Bancroft discussed this phenomenon— they walk off, they don’t care , and they don’t hurt. It’s the Normal who is left behind who suffers.

          There is no win, only damage mitigation.

    • Yes, Q…you are so right. Boundaries with the disordered will help extricate you but wont motivate them be decent to you.

      I once set and defended a boundary with my mother and her response was to get drunk, drive away in a snit and crash her car leaving her in a neurotrauma ICU. She survived to fight my boundaries another day. I always think of that experience in terms of her literally and violently smashing the boundary.

      My refusal to submit to Cheater wanting to move kept me in one place but didnt motivate him to be nice to me where we lived.

    • Quetzal,

      Good point. It’s hard to enforce boundaries (or even identify them) when you’re in an abusive situation.

    • Boundaries are not a way of manipulating, controlling, or changing another person. They probably won’t save your marriage if it’s been without boundaries for too long.

      They’re about liberating YOU.

      This won’t always feel liberating at first. You lose (abusive) friends and (abusive) partners.

      I think it’s when you start making real friends that the penny drops.

    • Yes, exactly. That’s why I cut people off that I cannot trust. Someone told me that I just needed to form strong boundaries and maintain them and that was my responsibility, and this person made it sound like everyone around me wasn’t responsible for their own actions because I wasn’t strong enough to stop them. Umm, I had boundaries with my ex husband, he just lied to me and went behind my back. I believe they said, “If you let someone take advantage of you, they will. That’s what people do, anybody would do it.”

      Well… no. I just helped a blind woman buy her groceries, as in helped her count out the bills and arranged them in her wallet for her. I could have stolen every bill out of her wallet. I could have at least snatched a $100 and replaced it with a $1 but I didn’t. Because I would never do that, and there are other people like me in the world and they are the only ones welcome in my life now.

      I think of the whole boundaries with abusive people like having a dog I have to keep securely locked up because it will kill me and everyone in my home and all my neighbors if I ever make a single mistake or let down my guard or have some health issue that incapacitates me. I would put that dog down. I wouldn’t keep a dog that will eat all the neighbor children if it gets out and I wouldn’t hand it over to someone else knowing that could happen either. It’s too dangerous. Why would anyone put themselves at risk like that? That’s how I feel about abusive people, they aren’t worth “managing.” If I can’t trust them, they need to go.

  • One of my major changes in boundaries is that I will not help him with his relationship with his kids. FW keeps complaining to me that his daughters don’t talk to him. He wants me to tell them to call him. Well, his older daughter is 23, and the younger one (which he abandoned and signed over sole custody to me) is now 16. I decided it isn’t my business to fix his relationships with his kids. That’s a wife’s job, and I’m not his wife. I told him that I would pass on a letter if he wrote to them, but that is the extent of my involvement. He has never taken my up on that offer, as it is way too much work for him to write a letter.

    My older daughter just announced her engagement. She did not invite FW to the wedding. He (again) called me (ostensibly to talk over plans for our disabled son, but obviously to slip in the discussion about DD23’s wedding) to demand that I get her to invite him. I told him she is an adult and I’m not getting in the middle of that. I pointed out that he could email her if he wanted to politely ask to be invited, and I suggest he do that, but I will not be involved.

    According to DD23 (who laughed heartily over this), he never emailed her.

    Not my problem anymore.

  • I stopped answering emails that were not directly related to parenting or finance. FW would try and goad me into a fight by bringing OW, or criticizing my parenting, or insulting me. I stuck to whatever parenting thing was being discussed – schedules, school, etc. He would ask me questions about my personal life or daily activities, or what I was feeding my kid. I wouldn’t answer, because it was none of his business. I knew that whatever information I provided, however benign, would somehow be turned into fodder for his legal harassment of me. It had happened often enough.

    If we had a scheduling change and I wrote “What time should I pick up the kid?” He’d reply with something like, “You’re so antagonistic? You’re a shitty mom. Why should I have to always be the one to accommodate you? You don’t care about me or your kid. You’re just using him as a pawn in your own selfish game. Just like you used me.
    No wonder you don’t have any friends.” And I learned to just reply something like “So is 3pm good?” Or he’d interrogate me about where I had gone and with whom and I just…didn’t answer.

    It was really hard at first. To let go of feeling like I needed to defend myself to him about whatever accusation he was making. To not answer irrelevant questions. I used to get panic attacks (racing heart, sweaty palms, etc.) when I would send short replies, or not reply immediately (or at all). But gradually it got easier. I came to expect the temper tantrums and verbal assaults and thus did not take them so personally. My attorney likened my stbx to a toddler throwing a tantrum. “Just step over him and move on with your day” was her advice to me.

    FW painted this as me being difficult, uncooperative, antagonistic, secretive, and unstable. He tried to use my “lack of willingness to communicate” against me in our custody hearings. Only the custody evaluator told him that my personal life was none of his business and I didn’t have to answer those questions. He was…not happy about that. The custody evaluator also said point blank “You’re not used to her having boundaries, so it’s going to upset you now that she does.”

    FW also wanted to meet up and “talk” at several points, and I refused to have in-person meetings with him. I told him I would discuss things via email, or over the phone if email wouldn’t be sufficient. He would reply “well, if YOU don’t trust yourself to behave like an adult, then…”. And I refrained from pointing out that I wasn’t worried about my own behavior, but his. He could be scary. He was intimidating, and I had a lot of PTSD from his abuse, which meant I tended to cave when I had to face him directly, or would get flustered and not be able to speak well. I was very happy that during the stage of the custody evaluation when the evaluator took our histories, that she granted my request that we meet separately from one another. In the meetings when we were both there (even though they were on Zoom and not in person) I would be shaking having to see him on the screen, often sneering or shaking his head like I was lying about the things I said.

    Another boundary I put in place was when FW started copying OW into emails with our custody evaluator, or our realtor, etc. I pointedly removed her email address from my replies and never mentioned her in any of it. OW had no right to be involved in my divorce, home sale, custody dispute, or any of it and I wasn’t going to acknowledge her.

    • ISTL — add bitter, cruel, feckless, passive-aggressive, and infantile to that list, and you’ve got my ex-FW to a T. So interesting that so many trot out “no wonder you don’t have any friends.” Mine used that repeatedly, especially in the very early days when she was fucking everything in sight while our daughters and I went about our days trying to make sense of everything that was happening (this was before accepting that untangling the skein is a fool’s errand).

      • FW called me “childish” and “immature” all the time. He used that to justify talking down to me and trying to dictate things to me (“I’ll talk to you like an adult when you start acting like one”). Funny that he’s the one who threw tantrums, and resorted to insults when he didn’t have any legitimate argument to make.

        • FW also called me “childish” and “immature” and these were listed as reasons why he didn’t want to talk about “wanting to be with other women” with me because that’s a grownup conversation I couldn’t handle, and why his AP was more grownup and mature than me because “she isn’t jealous.”

      • As I’ve said before, I got the “You don’t know how to get along with people.” Apparently Schmoops picked up on this and said it of me too though I’d never met the idiot. On the one hand it’s an obvious projection since these people lie to everyone which rules out the possibility of genuine friendship. On the other hand it’s just something they wish and hope is true because an isolated chump would be easier to chump. Narcissists can’t stand the idea of a chump having a group of supporters who might even be laughing at or criticizing the narcs (or worse, not even thinking or talking about the narcs) so, poof, narcissists just make it not so in their minds. No one likes you! Therefore there will be no social repercussions for abusing you! Really!

        I got along great with the two workplace whistleblowers who spilled the beans. They even contacted me later to let me know when they got engaged. And I only met them when I was in the worst state I’ve ever been in. I may not get along with everyone. Certainly not cheaters and liars. But I seem to get along just fine with decent, regular people with a solid sense of ethics and loyal friends. Lucky me.

      • I got the “no wonder you don’t have any friends” line, too.

        It absolutely baffled me at the time, because even in the depths of my gaslit haze, I knew it wasn’t true. I had loads of friends. And though I was still young and naive, I already had a good grasp of networking. I was well-connected in my community and respected by my professors and peers.

        My ex, on the other hand, was a pariah on campus and only friends with his enablers, who were just as awkward and low value as he was. In hindsight, I’m astonished I was ever attracted to him.

        Years later, I started stumbling upon resources like Chump Lady and learned what a personality disorder was, and finally realized Ex’s accusations about my incompetence and nastiness were projections of his own flaws, of course.

        • Whoever said “Every accusation by a narcissist is a confession” nailed it. FW in my case had few friends (and no real friends since he misrepresented himself to everyone). He was half a loner until he got a promotion and began drinking his lunch, then he seemed to corner the market on dumpy, drunken hustlers whose booze and grub he paid for using family assets. But he couldn’t stand my tendency to chat with strangers. He seemed to find it incredibly threatening.

          I guess a charge of social unfitness could have the cruel illusion of being true to a victim who’d been systematically isolated via gaslighting and trauma. Again, it seems to reflect what all abusers WANT to be true and one of the ultimate goals of their abuse. A leading DV researcher has made the case that domestic abuse shares elements with mob violence (where members of the mob achieve a particular kind of gratifying mental state– called “infantile deindividuation”– as they “lose” themselves in the crowd while also feeling less responsible for their aggression because others are doing the same) because of the tendency of batterers to triangulate to get social approval for their heinous behavior and show great sensitivity to cultural cues that reflect social approval of partner-abuse as well as collecting cultural lore that blames and condemns victims. Also those who participate in mob violence tend to have extremely poor memories of what they actually did in the mayhem and might be shocked to see videos of themselves, say, trying to scalp a victim or drink their blood. The same has been observed with many batterers. So a domestic abuser hoping that the victim is socially isolated and “unpopular” and actively trying to engineer this would tilt the “deindividuation” argument further because abusers are psychically putting themselves on the side of an imagined “majority” as they commit the bullying. They create a mob in their minds in which to “lose” themselves and simultaneously feel less responsible for their aggression.

          Obviously affairs automatically involve more than one participant. If the affair partner is aware there is a victim in the scenario, it argues that the cheaters together are forming a bullying little mini-mob.

          • ” a charge of social unfitness could have the cruel illusion of being true to a victim who’d been systematically isolated via gaslighting and trauma”.

            This is what he did to me. He criticized all my friends and family (“she always flakes out on you, I don’t know why you want to see her”), made sure I hung out with just his friends. On top of the that, he often would verbally abuse me in the car on our way to events or to hang out with people (I was a captive audience in the car, it was really perfect for him). He’d scream at me, call me names, insult and belittle me. When we arrived wherever we were going, he’d suddenly switch it off like a light and turn on the charm. He’d be smiling, laughing, talking, just the life of the party. Meanwhile I’d be physically shaking and on the verge of tears. People would greet me and ask me how I was and I just….had no idea what to say. I could barely even speak. I couldn’t tell the truth. If he heard, I knew the trip home would be ten times worse. So I’d mumble that I was fine or whatever and go stand on the sidelines, or try desperately to fake being sociable. So I got a reputation for being anti-social and “weird”. No one ever knew or even suspected why.

            • Ooh the captivity of the car. One of my boundaries is I will not drive with him in the car anymore. Too dangerous when I’m being berated, insulted, and ridiculed, even when he’s sober. One time he pulled the e brake on us while we were going 60+mph.

    • Super quick practical item that I loved: when we were doing mediation online or when we have sessions we both attend with our kids’ counselor, I just put a sticky note over his face on the screen. I LOVE it. I just have the convo I want to have with the counselor or lawyer or whomever, and it’s like he isn’t there. Lifesaver, as I too get nervous and upset having to interact.

    • Oh yes, ISawTheLight… the last part where you said FW started including OW with custody, realtor, etc… this happened with me too.

      I was forced into “co-parenting coordination” with a FW. It was horrific. Narcissists don’t “co-parent,” as many of us already know here. I didn’t know that when I agreed to it in 2016.

      But at one point the OW was inserting herself so much (screaming at me during drop off’s / pick up of my son… threatening me) that the coparenting coordinator asked me for permission to talk with her.

      My boundary was clear. NO

      OW is not a co-parent. She is not part of my legal agreement. I am not paying to include her. I will not permit the co-parenting coordinator to discuss parenting with OW. NO

      After a couple more sessions of madness, the coparenting coordinator DROPPED US because I refused to let her talk to OW. Whatever dude

      This eventually went back to our attorneys. FW put the blame squarely on me. I asked his attorney point blank if OW is part of our coparenting coordination and if I’m legally required to include her as she is just FW’s gf and in no way a “co-parent.” HIS attorney (and mine, of course) agreed with me! She even pointed out that OW is way out of line interfering.

      I also added that if FW is having trouble getting OW to help him with his son then that is between them and they are welcome to go to therapy on their own dime and on their own time.

      I even had to set boundaries with the bullying co-parenting coordinator! 🤦‍♀️

      • “But at one point the OW was inserting herself so much (screaming at me during drop off’s / pick up of my son… threatening me)”

        YUP. OW did that to me, and I was having none of it. I told FW that she was not to be there when I picked up/dropped off our son, I didn’t want to see her, etc. She threatened my job (by lying and saying I was stalking/harassing her, though the truth was I wasn’t the one doing the stalking), so I went to HR and the EEO office and made a report, told my bosses, etc. (we were coworkers).

        I know she helped FW with some of his legal stuff (she was recently divorced). I could hear her voice in things he sent me. And they just goaded each other on in abusing me. It was pretty hellish.

        OW eventually left him, and after that happened, our custody evaluator was actually planning to speak with her because she was also saying that FW abused her (esp. in front of the kids), and it would have been something to back up my own claims. OW actually contacted me and offered to help me in my case with her evidence of abuse (!). I never responded to her, though I forwarded the email to my attorney. We never got that far because FW killed himself a couple months later. I ended up with full custody (obviously; though the magistrate had shortly beforehand granted me primary custody and the authority to put my son in school near me and be his primary address), and it is honestly such a relief. Being a single mom is infinitely easier than “co-parenting” with a narcissistic, abusive FW. (Now she’s all over Twitter giving advice on how to leave/recover from an abusive relationship like she’s some kind of hapless victim and totally innocent, rather than my co-abuser. She spouts all kinds of feminist bullshit too, and I just have to seriously sit on my hands so I don’t comment on something with CL’s “women who sleep with married men are sucking the dick of the patriarchy” quote, LOL. You can’t actually care about women and women’s rights and fuck someone else’s husband behind her back. She’s such a bloody hypocrite. Oh well. Not my circus anymore.)

        OW, for all she pretended to care about my kid, never spoke to my son again after she left. Never answered his messages. Never sent condolences when his dad died. My kid is 9. I hated OW, but my kid didn’t, and it is horribly cruel to abandon a child. The affair had been going on for four years, so for half my kid’s life she was in it and then just … nothing. So I hate her for that, though otherwise I’ve let things go. God knows I didn’t want her involved in his life (what a terrible role model), but I also love my son and hate to see him hurt. He still speaks fondly of her and her kids, and I try to just roll with it, though if he says something incorrect about things that happened, I give him the actual facts (obviously made age-appropriate, etc. and without too much emotion on my part – I’m at “meh” so I can talk about FW and what happened without it bothering me too much).

    • P.S. The way you handled this was so fantastic, such a great example of boundaries, that I bookmarked this for times when I need the reminder. You’re incredible, ISawtheLight. I hope you know that.

  • Once the Cheater lies, cheats, steals and shows you they have no skeleton that supports integrity, character or assurance of your safety in their company – it’s OVER. Establish no-contact unless legally bound by financial and minor child custody sharing. Keep the limited contact over these two matters minimal, succint, and strictly business. Never establish personal contact at your home. Do so in a public place with no discussions or conversation beyond the bare minimum, ie: child pick-up and drop-offs. Learn to SHUT THEM OUT. This will go a long way toward your healing and privacy. Eventually, they’ll redirect their dysfunction elsewhere and leave you (and your family) alone.

    If you have to engage, simply repeat “If you do _________________, then I will __________________.” As in:
    If you come to my home, I will have a trespass warning issued.
    If you contact me I will only respond to matters regarding finances and/or child custody matters.
    If you cannot maintain the divorce decree requirements, I will consult an attorney to address the problem.
    If your choices involve criminal acts, I will support criminal prosecution.

    No idle threats. If you say you’re going to do it – do it!

    Your circumstances will vary. No matter the differences, SHUT THEM OUT.

  • Oh, gosh. I’ve always been good with boundaries for those who are not part of my inner circle, and terrible with boundaries for those who are. I keep my inner circle very, very small. For me, it all started when I read “Boundaries in Marriage”. I realized that I did not have to put up with all the crap that my then-husband was dishing out. So, I started in a very teeny tiny way to draw some lines in the marriage. I didn’t know that letting him walk all over me was part of the marriage contract in his mind.

    He worked out of town a lot and I realized that all of the kids and I were much happier when he wasn’t there. So, my first big boundary was that I told him to move out to give us all some breathing space. He had moved out for a couple of months once before when it was his decision, so it seemed very reasonable. He went ballistic, but I held firm. I kept the two biggest (not the oldest, but the biggest) kids by my side and I had my phone in my pocket in case I needed to call the cops. I handed him his suitcase (that he had not unpacked from vacation–full of dirty clothes, I’m sure he was furious) along with another one of his work clothes that I had packed. He was just coming home from a work trip so he had all of his essentials with him anyway. You’ll notice that I’m such a chump that even now all these years later I’m recalling that I was concerned that he have what he needed to survive. Sigh.

    That was one of the bravest things I’ve ever done.

    After that I slowly but surely started mentally moving him out of my inner circle. He made no effort to heal the marriage or see the kids. He would come around to the house occasionally to use his tools out in his workshop. I filed for divorce. I opened my own cell phone account and didn’t give him my number. He eventually got the number, but I never responded to texts from him and at some point stopped answering if he called. During the divorce I learned that I did not have to answer his emails immediately. In fact, the angrier his message made me, the longer I would take to respond. The very best boundary was after my youngest child turned 18. I blocked him on all routes of communication. He cannot email or call me. If the asshole wants to get in touch, he can send a snail mail. He’s probably lost the address though. LOL.

    • I did similar. He wanted to save marriage but needed to fire gf. Excuse after excuse. Me too movement, she’s racially mixed-we could be sued, she’s violent. All lies of course, I was so distraught. I packed his suitcase & blocked him from entering home, I was so anxious, I felt sick but I did it. The expression on his face was priceless. He was out of house until he fired her (allegedly staying at a friend’s home) He finally did. I shouldn’t have let him back, most awkward Christmas ever for all our adult children and grand babies. I believe gf was actually on vacation. He brought her back while I was at work in our office. I left that day and dumped his clothes in waiting room over weekend.

      He’s also a late life addict. I was overlooking too much believing it was the drugs. SMH

      Thanks to finding LACGAL, I had consulted attorney during the separation and filed asap. Nothing to work with….

      Took 2.5 years for divorce. Addicts lose their sense of time. I’m divorced a year. He’s a mess. Even his own attorney told mine don’t ever expect anything complete from him.

    • I need to read that book! I’ve read the original and part of the dating edition and I hust wish I’d read them 10 years ago..

  • Actual OFW exchange:

    FW: I would like to get 3 tickets to Son’s (high school) graduation. Can you help?
    Me: You’ll have to talk to the school about that.
    FW: Son is the only one allowed to get the tickets. We are allowed 8 tickets. You get 5. Don’t make this hard.
    Me: There is no “we.” The tickets belong to Son. He decides who gets them.
    FW: Fine I will go to the school and get them all. Be a bitch.

    Reader, he did not go to the school and get them all. He got exactly zero, as Son was a very angry, No Contact 18 year old. “We” is me and the children and we’re doing great, thanks!

    • My oldest son was also a very angry, no contact young adult. He’s older now and not nearly so angry. He’s still no contact, though. As are most of the children. “We” is me and four of the five children. The other child is a lot like her sperm donor. She moved far away at age 19. I hear from her every year or two. I have no idea how often she communicates with her other parent.

    • What is it with these FWs and graduations. I get it, it’s the impression management and the narcissistic supply from other people’s accomplishments but they really live for graduations, don’t they? The ex was the same. My daughter graduated high school last year and my son graduated middle school a week later. FW had not seen her or talked to them for a full year, but was insistent that he should be there to celebrate their accomplishments. OK fine, the kids agreed. He attends, takes pictures, congratulates them, then disappears again. It has been 14 months post-graduation and he hasn’t showed up again. Not once. Now, he is asking for info about our eldest child’s college graduation next year. WTF. What kind of father is this? He only likes kids in caps and gowns?

      • Son refused to have his Eagle Scout ceremony after FW emailed me that he and the new Mrs. FW would be in attendance. No regard for Son’s feelings or the protective order for domestic violence that he said was bullshit. Son was glad to be class of 2020 for college. Online ceremony ftw.

        • Eve, I feel bad for your son to have missed having an Eagle ceremony. Unfortunately, it likely would’ve been like my son’s this past spring, where FW and his flavor of the week showed up for 1/2 hour and walked out in the middle of the ceremony. Son was obviously hurt.

  • I got “can you send me Dr H phone number, I cannot find it?” “Can you send me the name of the doctor who did my vasectomy?” “Can you…”. My response, was to ignore and not respond. I finally responded with, “I am not your secretary, I gave up that job the day I walked out on you.”
    Side bar-I walked out on Christmas Day with the kids and the dog and never went back. He still uses the abandoned o. Christmas narrative and that I took every living thing with me. I did once tell him I left the plants and they were living until you couldn’t even keep them alive so why should you be trusted with kids and the dog.
    Crickets

  • My FW assumed she would still be more than welcomed in our marital home post divorce. Several times when she had to pick up the kids after bedtime due to her work schedule, she would turn up the charm and ask if she could just stay the night rather than wake them. When I refused, she immediately flipped to rage, saying things like, “I miss my home. It’s such a big house and you’re here all alone. I can’t believe how selfish you are.” Also, she assumed I would continue to host her extended family’s events at my home since it is amenable to entertaining. I gave in once early on, and it was a disaster. Never again!

    • My FW cried when he realized that I had taken his key to my home off his key ring (I had bought him out at this point). “But what if something happens to you, who will be there to help”? Yeah, as if I needed HIS help for anything!

      • Sometimes I entertain the fantasy that instead of getting stoned on hopium (the day he busted our marriage to bits) that I had stayed in my smaller home, pursued a divorce and changed the locks thus forbidding his entry. I try to imagine his reaction once he realized that had fully overplayed his hand with me. I will forever be a little jealous of you mighty ones who did stuff like this.

        • I changed the code to garage door, I was the one that read the directions on everything.
          He came while I was at exercise class. Called daughter for code, she told him she had key not code.
          He actually broke in thru service door od garage. I knew he’d try garage door opener if he came by. I’d already had the children come by & get the silver we were going to leave them. Must’ve hated that we were 2 steps ahead of him.

          So dumb, he had a key….he didn’t take anything I wouldn’t have given him, idiot. I was more concerned about the paperwork.

          Then I called my lawyer, he was told by opposing counsel I has been unreachable. Lying liars lie.

    • What is it with cheaters thinking they will be welcome after they abandon us? My ex was the same. His first idea was that we should still live together but as roommates. I shot that down. Then he excitedly told me his next plan, which was that he would get a nice little fuck-fest apartment nearby but just keep a key to the house and come over for dinners and holidays. He was shocked… SHOCKED… that I refused that. We are three years divorced now, and even as recently as two months ago, he was trying to convince me to get together for a family vacation with him. I told him that if I wanted to hang out with him, I would have stayed married to him. It seems like a divorce would send a clear message saying, “I DON’T LIKE YOU ANYMORE!” but those FW’s really don’t get it.

      • Yes. That they think they will continue to be welcome baffles me, too. x seemed to think that we’d remain friends, share a lake house, and basically function as before but with the wonderful addition of the wonderful OW!

        Of particular note is how he expected his adult kids to accept the cheating. “This is between your mom and me, ” he intoned. My kids basically told him to go pound sand. It was obvious to everyone that he didn’t have a good relationship with his kids, but he insisted all was well. Even when our oldest refused contact with him for a year while she was in college, he didn’t acknowledge any problem. I remember encouraging him to try to mend fences. “Why? There’s no problem.” Mind boggling!

        What a slap across the head it must be for these deluded FWs when it sinks into their entitled brains that they grossly miscalculated.

        Of course, he blames it all on what he calls my vindictiveness. Damn him.

  • My number 1 boundary is never to see, speak to, or be in the same room as cheating bastard ex. He is blocked via phone and text and I will only accept or send business-related emails regarding the last two ventures that aren’t yet fully separate but will be by year’s end.
    My youngest is relocating to the west coast at the end of the month. Her friends are throwing she and her partner a huge going away event a few days before they leave. When I was asked to join them, I responded I would be honored to do so and said I would gladly show up earlier or later as to not conflict with the time cbx would be attending.
    Turns out, he isn’t invited.
    Yeah, even their friends know I am unsafe in his presence.

  • I found out he came into the house one night to “look around and make sure no one was inside” when dropping off Daughter when I was not home. ?!!!
    I called him immediately and told him, “Don’t ever come inside my house ever again. Would it be OK with you if I did that at your place?” (I always add the inverse scenario with Mr. Double Standard, which is my “cornering Alex Jones on the witness stand” tactic).

    I also found out he was coming over to the house when I was gone and taking things from the yard and sheds without telling me. I called him and told him to stop, and next time I would have the police explain it to him. Once again, “So, it’s OK if I come to your house when you’re not home and help myself to whatever I want in your yard?”

    My neighbor caught him spying on us after dark through the front windows. Once again, busted royally. And again I told him the next time I would call the police.

    That’s just a sample from AFTER he left.

    Cheaters and those they cheat with don’t. have. boundaries. Hence, cheating. Ergo, the opportunities to set boundaries are myriad and will be ongoing and endless. And because I grew up in a house without boundaries, violated 24/7/365, despite anything I said, I felt right at home with him. Naturally I chose him. ☹️

    One of the red flags I blew past is his lack of boundaries, his talent for ignoring them, his will and skill for going around them, and his overall disdain for them. But I had better honor them when HE sets them. Traitor X is also the king of the double standard. But we were going to therapy, he was such a Nice Guy, and claimed to be sober and recovery, so I regarded everything as a problem that would get resolved instead of a pattern of behavior which meant I should leave.

    If I ask him to roll down the car window when he farts and he can’t remember to comply, for 27 years, it is insane of me to expect him to honor any other boundary. As my therapist always used to say, “Why are you surprised?”

    He comes from a seriously enmeshed family where setting the smallest boundary sets off WWlll. If you dare to set a boundary they will retaliate and show you who is boss. And he snapped right back into that family system where he left off.

    • It is in our settlement agreement that the Craigslist cockroach is not allowed on the property where our business is located, as we are co-owners of the business and the property in which it is located. Of course he violated this.

      I didn’t say anything to him and enjoyed sending the info to my attorney, who then contacted his attorney. That’s what they’re for.

      Our corporate attorney is one of my friends from high school. Any boundary violations now get handled by the lawyers, which means our corporate lawyer or my divorce attorney depending on the situation.

      Like idiot Alex Jones is learning, when you ignore valid boundaries the law will get involved to help you understand.

      The Godfather did not get his hands dirty. He sent people.

      Like him, I now send people.

      That’s power.

  • The biggest boundary that I had to enforce (and did so successfully with a little help from her solicitors) was that Ex-Mrs LFTT abide by the terms of our Divorce Agreement. We agreed to a clean break and that the children would live with me and, as part of the agreement, she signed over the contents of the rental property that the kids and I were living in to me.

    No sooner had the Decree Absolute been issued and all of the financials been straightened out, she demanded to come to the rental so that “she could take her 50% of the contents and to pick up anything of hers that she’d left behind.” I told her, (by email) that this was not happening on the grounds that the contents of the house were now mine and mine alone. Trying not to be a complete d*ck, I did, however, offer an olive branch saying that I was willing to consider a request for any particular items of sentimental value, but that I was under no obligation (legal or moral) to say “yes” to anything. She went apesh*t and threatened to take me to Court to gain access to the house and to recover what was rightfully hers, as well as telling the children that what I was doing was both deliberately hurtful to her as well as illegal.

    I simply told her that she should get her solicitor to explain the divorce agreement to her and that if she took me to Court that she would lose and that I would seek costs. I now know that things didn’t go well when she spoke to her solicitor; she argued with them claiming that she hadn’t understood the Agreement when she signed it and, therefore, . that she wasn’t bound by it. Her solicitor shut that sh*t down pretty quickly and, I gather, said that she was welcome to try and get someone else to represent her if she wanted to take the matter to Court, making it very clear that they wouldn’t.

    The stupid thing is that if she’d asked nicely, she would have probably got on a lot better …. but asking nicely never was her style.

    LFTT

    • Love this.

      Mine did the same thing with a (supposedly) “family heirloom” piece-of-shit coffee that was still in the house 2 years after signing away any claim to anything left in the home. When I told her she was welcome to it as long as she also took away the piece-of-shit piano that she left behind, or if she contributed to the piano’s removal by a disposal service (it’s not easy donating or getting rid of a piano), the rage went into overdrive:

      “I am NOT paying for a table that belongs to MY family. MY family’s table that MY parents had in their home for 40 years. You’re children know it too . . . I mean, your children know you are petty and uncooperative. Dean at the car shop even said to me, unprovoked, ‘your ex is kind of a jerk, isn’t he?’ Storytelling people say to me ‘UXworld is your ex? He’s an angry bitter person.’ You need help.”

      I never enjoyed using a saw and sledgehammer more than I did on that table and piano.
      Dean continues to be my mechanic 4+ years later.
      The girls and I have a fabulous relationship.
      And my ex-FW still writes ‘you’re’ when she means ‘your,’ despite the fact that she’s now married to a novelist and writing instructor.

        • UXW,

          If Ex-Mrs LFTT really was bothered about anything that she’d left behind, she had had the nearly 2 years between her leaving and the divorce being finalised to come and get it … and that is before you take into account the fact that I’d gone through the house top to bottom to gather together everything of hers that she had left behind and then drop it off at her new home in bin bags. Sidenote: I found out in this process that she had a lot (and I mean a LOT) of pashminas … it takes all sorts I suppose.

          The two things that she did keep harping on about were the christening shawl that had been made out of her wedding dress and half of the white goods. I’ve still got the shawl, because it became f*cking mine the second that she signed the divorce agreement and, despite the white goods all being at least 5 if not 10 years old, I was damned if I was going to give her something that she didn’t need (her new rental home was fully furnished) and then have to swallow the expense of replacing them.

          I can only think that she tried this because it was another way of f*cking with me and making life difficult.

          LFTT

          PS – I love your approach to YOUR table and YOUR piano.

  • I learned boundaries early on in the divorce process when I had to get a restraining order because of domestic violence. The court enforced that one, but even then she violated it. It was a pattern. I could only control my boundaries, not her behavior. Many years later she was back at it, this time wanting my birth certificate, communicating through emails:
    “____,
    I will soon be turning 66! The benefit of old age is that I will be eligible for social security. I went to the SS office and was told I can sign up for your social security since we were married over 10 years and I did not remarry. The officer assured me this does not affect your benefits or Lisa’s in any way. As soon as I retire and take STRS, this spousal benefit will end. I plan on working 1 or 2 more years. In order to sign up for this I need a certified copy of your birth certificate. I was wondering if you have this paper. You would have needed it to get a passport. It must be the registered copy with the embossed seal from the county recorder. If you have one, I would really appreciate borrowing it to show them and then returning it asap. ______ or _____ could pick it up if you didn’t want to put it in the mail.
    Another possibility is that your parents have one. I wouldn’t want to ask them without your permissiion.
    Would you please let me know if you have this paper and if you’d let me borrow it? I would really appreciate your help with this.”

    My response:
    “(XW),
    I do not feel comfortable sharing that document with you. You will need to find another way.”

    So she turns my son into her flying monkey and involves him in trying to get my birth certificate:
    “(XW),
    I got a call from (son) yesterday. I could tell from the start he was feeling anxious about it. We caught up on news and then he asked me about providing my birth certificate certified copy to you.
    It is not acceptable with me to use our children as go betweens. I will not respond to this approach.
    I hope that you will rethink your actions.
    I gave you a direct answer when you asked me for it. Please respect that.
    I would ask you to not put our children in the middle of your issues with me anymore. It is not fair to entangle them in your issues with me. I thought that was our commitment when we worked out our divorce?
    I would also ask that you not involve my 93 year old parents in this. I have no objection to you maintaining a relationship, but asking my elderly parents for my birth certificate is unfair and looks like you are just using them.”
    After this exchange she and our adult sons stopped in to see my aged parents. Guess what? After telling me she would not ask them for my birth certificate, she did any way. Always a lyer I guess.
    I don’t know if she ever got what she needed for the SS benefits. But being as she just sold her inherited house for $3,000,000 I know she didn’t need it!

    • I had to work past 65 for a number of reasons but was able to get the spousal social security without his birth certificate. I did have his SSNumber and our marriage certificate and proof of divorce. Social Security must be experienced with the situation very very common in divorces where one no longer has the spousal birth certificate. She was lying (again!).

  • Boundaries, boundaries, love them! My favorite boundary is shredding his mail that still shows up once in a while after he has been gone over six years. No more leaving in the mail box and emailing him so he could come pick it up. I don’t even want that louse on my street much less getting into my mailbox.

    I can’t thank the Orangutan enough for “winning” the pick me dance.

    I am embarrassed to admit my Tuesday finely came after six years of pain and grief I never knew could exist, this last Tuesday!

    I woke up with so much joy and happiness realizing I was free of a “Jesus” cheater that told me God had revealed to him and the Orangutan that I was going to die so they could marry.

    Well, I’m still living and breathing!
    Thank you Chump Lady! You and Divorce Minister saved my life!

    • Wow!! That’s awesome. Congratulations on your Tuesday!! Yay!

      Don’t be embarrassed about 6 years. We all have our own timelines. There’s no right or wrong (says the chump who is going on 3 years and usually thinks Tuesday has come but then occasionally slides back to the Saturday before).

      • Thank you! I have had many sliding backs too. I never thought I would see the day that I would not take him back and thankful she “won”. I smoked the hopium pipe way too long before realizing that he never loved me and is incapable of loving anyone. I’ve finally been set free and it feels so good! You will get there too!

  • Forgot to mention another boundary: I’m super choosey about who can be a part of my life.

    x-SIL? Eh. The occasional “Happy Mother’s Day” text, but that’s it. She used to be my closest friend and is also a chump, but I know she’s on her brother’s “team.” I don’t really blame her, but her allegiance to him makes me not want anything to do with her.

    x-MIL. This one was easy! Not only has she been a thorn in my side for decades, but she also literally embraced the AP one week after learning of the infidelity. As I’ve written here before, she sang a religious hymn at a restaurant to drown me out when I said that her son’s behavior showed poor character. It was within weeks of D-day. I had taken her to a doctor’s appointment because cheater said he was busy. I should have said “no,” of course. #boundaries. Btw, cheater was on vacay with the AP. 🤬

    Now x-mil sends me the occasional bible verse about forgiveness and judgement. “Judge not lest ye be judged.” I never reply, although I’m tempted to ask her how she feels about the Commandments that have to do with adultery and coveting. Note: On her 90th birthday, I did not wish her a happy birthday. Wobbly and guilt-ridden, I even asked my sisters if I should write. They said, “Absolutely not.” I still feel pangs of guilt about this.

    Bottom line: I surround myself with good people now, people who are kind, trustworthy, and supportive. Therein lies happiness.

    • Glad you were able to cut off MIL. What an awful person, 90 years old or not! She must think her son is perfect.

      My SIL seems to be fully aware that klootzak is a narc. She knows he is a cheater. She doesn’t care one bit. She is only in his universe because of money. She stays in good graces of those who have it, hoping to gain advantage or inherit. She is a scammer herself. Will be glad to be rid of her. Haven’t spoken to her in several years; divorce will make it permanent. She will be thrilled as klootzak will then make her the beneficiary of his IRA and whatever else after the divorce. It’s all she cares about. She has at times been a co-abuser of me with klootzak. I couldn’t care less if she fell off the face of the planet.

      FIL also knows klootzak is a FW. He is ashamed of it but I know he is a blood is thicker than water kind of person. He has always been kind to me and I will still wish him happy birthday and maintain the remote relationship he has with my child, but our relationship will change out of necessity. I think he may want to give me klootzak updates and I would be concerned that anything I share with him will go right to klootzak. So my relationship with him will become pretty superficial. It’s sad because I always enjoyed long talks with him.

      Back when I had imagined I was going to wait to file until our child went of to college, I used to think that would be good because FIL would likely have passed on by then. I had imagined the rest of his life I could have still called him Dad and been close as always. (It has always bothered klootzak that his father and I get along so well – a fact that came out during RIC which made me feel awful.) But FIL is in great shape at his age and I’m almost to the finish line with my ducks, so I will just lose him for the most part and have to deal with it. One of the things I dread.

  • I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing about my graduate school experience, but there have been so many “no, I will not be going along with this” moments that I’m super proud of. Most recently, the whole group was chatting during a break about favorite movies. FW jumped in with his “favorite” movie (Quotes because I’m pretty sure he calls it his favorite just because it makes him seem big-brained or something. It’s one of those very artsy films and I only saw him watch it once while we were together.) He began telling the class about the movie and then transitioned into talking about seeing it on our first date. I started to shrink back (trauma response, ya know?) but I changed course and interrupted, “Yeah, it’s a pretty pretentious film.” The instructor (who is aware that we are ex-spouses) chimed in with, “Well, I guess it’s not BDU’s favorite movie!” and swung the conversation in a different direction.

    I had emailed the instructor at the start of the course to let them know that we are divorced and that, while I’m a professional and can work with him in class, I’d prefer to be grouped with others for large projects and outside of class work. I also said that I will never speak for him and I will never ask him to speak for me. Doing that has paid DIVIDENDS, because my instructors have been able to help me shut things down when he tries to make me uncomfortable. My cohort-mates have also started to figure him out, which is fun to watch. Fall classes start in early September, but letting the program lead know about our situation means she is going to place us in different sections whenever possible. This wasn’t a possibility for the summer, but I’m very excited to see that it’s an option for fall. I also learned that next summer’s coursework is largely asynchronous and research-based, so I won’t have to be in a classroom with him every dang day. Eight days of all-day classes left before things get much, much, much easier!

    • BattleDancingUnicorn, I am amazed and instructed by how you are meeting your professional goals and handling this unfortunate situation so smoothly. Congrats to you!!!!!!

    • Go you! Way to kick ass and not let him drive you away from your schooling. I’m glad your instructor is supportive of you.

      FW and OW did everything they could to make me uncomfortable at our job, but I stuck it out and THEY were the ones who ended up leaving. I stayed and got a promotion and a hefty raise, and I’m still here. After they left I found out a lot of people had nothing but disdain for their very public affair when everyone at work knew he was married to me. We can’t let these people run our lives.

  • 8 yrs out, here was my absolute fav😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍
    – when my ex FW and my ex FIL (who was a former principle in a different state and a fucking abusive asshole like his son) had snowed over the school principle, assistant principle, the guidance counselor, 2 of my son’s teachers, and the EIP director convincing them that I was a horrible mother, a street hooker, that our son had ADHD and I was the one keeping from getting help. The school administrators and teachers decided to bring me into a meeting like it was an intervention and railed me when I arrived (my ex was there and he had a smirk on his face as if he won). I kept my composure and returned serve by handing out copies of the forensic psychological report that was part of our custody battle and said “please turn to page 2…as you can read per forensic psychological testing from our recent custody battle my FW is highly manipulative, controlling, lies, and 100% can not be trusted. My FW immediately started squirming and yelling at everyone to “STOP READING….IT’S ALL LIES!” I replied, “it’s not all lies, a court appointed professional psychologist found him 100% controlling, abusive, manipulative and when he didn’t get his way punishes others with smear campaigns and other abusive tactics to get his way”. Their eyes got as big as saucers!!!! Then I passed out our son’s ADD/ADHD testing report that I had to pay for out of pocket (which ran me about +/- $3,000) and said “as all of you can see from the receipt I have already had our son tested and the results are that he has a learning disability, NOT ADD or ADHD like my ex conveniently convinced you of”. Then I went on to tell all of them the superintendent would be hearing of their shenanigan to side with my FW, pull me into this type of “intervention” meeting and judge me making comments like “we don’t know you do at night”. I then went down the lengthly list of people who I knew in our community who were in much greater leadership roles in our community, picked up my shit, and walked out. The next year, I made sure everyone that attended that meeting was either fired or no longer working in our school district. My ex FW now plays nicely and if he doesn’t, I bust out the old forensic psychological report to anyone and everyone I need to.🤗. Don’t Fuck with me!

    • ***standing ovation***👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

      • The looks on their faces as I was shredding them apart with facts was absolutely priceless. I have some other “I can’t make this shit up” stories that are right in alignment with this one. What gets me is the sheer arrogance and ignorance of these people that allow themselves to get sucked in and become my FW and his family’s flying monkeys.

      • A couple of ways:
        1) I used their student and parent handbook against them by writing a lengthy email (for the time stamp) to the superintendent, the school board, the city lawyer and copied said principle dissecting each of the policies and procedures they did not follow and described what did occur in the meeting (Mind you, each teacher, student and parent is supposed to read and sign these policies and procedures EACH YEAR)
        2) along with that email I submitted a voice recording as in my state only one person can know that a meeting is being recorded. I also submitted the psychological report so they all had understood what I and my children were dealing with (it’s ok, the psychologist told me to do this as much as I needed too to expose my narc)
        3) I then went to the other local leadership who I know very well. They know my ex and his shenanigans so they are very familiar with the crap he tries to pull. They in turn put pressure on the superintendent for leadership to allow this type of abusive behavior.
        4) the nail in the coffin…..the dumb ass principle replied by calling me and told me she had the authority to do whatever she wanted. Her dumbass never expected me to be recording it of which I sent to the proper higher ups. REMEMBER: in my state we can record!!! That is not the case in every state.

        💥BOOM💥. They were out and not fit to represent our district.

        • REVISION:
          I used their own teacher, student, parent policies and procedures handbook against them.

          In essence they didn’t follow their own rules and regulations then told me they could do that but I didn’t have the right to stand up for myself or my kids.

  • I was working in a large international organization in Switzerland when I met FW. We got married and he wanted to move to D.C. so he could “set the world on fire”. Didn’t happen – well the move happened even though I very much wanted to stay in Europe – but his setting the world on fire ended up a damp fizz with him struggling to get work. I managed to get a job at the World Bank (hated D.C. but the Bank was good to me), when two years later he wanted to move home to Pittsburgh. Nothing against Pittsburgh but sorry, that wasn’t why I left England all those years ago. Anyway repeat performance in Pittsburgh, with him struggling to get a job. I managed to work from home while looking after our baby son, when I got a call from Switzerland asking if I wanted to return – and we both jumped at it because he wasn’t setting the world on fire in Pittsburgh either. After a couple of years we moved just across the border to buy a house in France, and do the daily commute into Geneva. Life was good. Then about 10 years later he wanted to “move to Montana and build a log cabin”!!! We’re living in French alps with good jobs – why not build the frickin’ log cabin here????? Neither of us had ever been to Montana and I knew that if I gave in it would be all on me to make it happen – he just had to throw the idea out there and muggins would do the work. I had expat benefits, our kids were in a bilingual school, I had home leave and we were making good money. So FINALLY I found the balls to call his bluff. Told him that HE should head out to Montana, get the great job making good money because I wasn’t giving up another great job just so he could gypsy around the world. Needless to say it never happened! And thank God, because not long after that he ran off with the bar room skank and I would have been up shit creek without a paddle somewhere in the middle of Montana if I had pandered to him yet again!

  • Prior to finding out about my FW now ex wife’s two year long affair, my father and I had been having an argument about something fairly petty. My Dad never even called me to ask how I was doing, even though he knew I was suicidal. Other family members had told him I wasn’t doing well, and I could use a phone call. After several months of refusing my calls, texts, my Mom defending this as “he is angry, give him time”. I began to see that my family of origin primed me to accept less than human treatment from others in the world, and that I had spent my entire life making my own needs as small as possible. If they couldn’t show even the slightest bit of empathy and understanding after my entire life blew up, what exactly did they bring to my life? I decided to cut my toxic parents out of my life in 2019. It has been painful at times, but my mental health is better than it has been. I am now remarried to a wonderful woman, have a much higher paying job, two dogs, a cat, a brand new truck, have traveled to Brazil and several other places. My
    FOO have no idea about any of this, and I intend to keep it that way. I’ve worked incredibly hard on myself. My mental stability and gaining a sense of self is more important than anything or anyone to me, including those you share DNA with. I wish things were different, but I’ve had to accept things for what they are, not what I want them to be.

    The one positive thing out of this horrific experience is you do view every relationship you have with a microscope. It becomes easy to see who is beneficial to you, and who is toxic. The hard part is knowing what to do with that information and following through.

    • “…decided to cut my toxic parents out of my life…”

      That took courage and conviction. Glad for you.

  • Such a timely topic for me. My divorce was final about a month ago. None of the financial changes have been made yet. We included a drop dead date for my pack rat ex to remove his stuff from my house. I don’t want to pack it all because it’s a lot. I reminded him of the date. Told him my lawyer says I can dispose of all of his things as I saw for after the drop dead date. Gave him extra time and some specific dates and timeframes to come inside and have free access to the house to take his things. One week passed, then two. He would come in and take two to three things out at a time. We went from basically no contact to texting frequently over this. This was all a big mistake. I had let my boundaries down. Lo and behold he pushes it further and asks for my piano. That he gave me years ago as a gift. He doesn’t play piano. Me and several of my children do. It hurt. Him gifting me that piano was a nice memory from our early days. It upset not just me but my children as well. He acted like things are still under negotiation when no, all negotiations are over. I finally woke up, told him he was not allowed in the house anymore, talk to my lawyer about it if you have a problem and blocked his number I am fully prepared to drag him into court now if he doesn’t sign the paper work that we need to divide the finances as per our agreement. But this was definitely a big wobble for me. I never should have extended the date for him to clear out his stuff. He immediately jumped right over my weak little boundary and pushed for more.

    • Sometimes it takes something as egregious as your ex asking for the piano for us to snap to attention, be reminded to trust that they suck, and to act accordingly. There’s no negotiating with these terrorists.

  • Is no contact a boundary? I instituted that before the divorce was finalized and only spoke to him regarding details of the settlement. No pleasantries, no “how are things” talk, straight business until everything was done then block, block block.

    Fast forward to last week, almost 3 years after the divorce, and he showed up at my front door! Bing bong, selfish FW calling! I refused to allow him inside, told him it was inappropriate for him to be here and he needed to leave. He said he didn’t have any other choice because I blocked him everywhere and he didn’t know if I was alive or dead. I told him there is a reason he is blocked and it’s none of his business. Then reminded him that he DOES have a choice, respect my wishes because he is no longer a part of my life. His response, “well, I guess this is goodbye then.” Yep! I turned around, walked back in the house & audibly locked the deadbolt.

    It was the first time I had seen his face in 3 years & it was a jolt, but I am SO proud of myself for holding that boundary.

      • Thanks, Spinach. The only thing he was thinking of was himself, as usual. He is unhappy with his OW but stuck with her because they have a child. Oh well, not my problem!

        I did enjoy myself a little when he was trying to talk about our past & I shut him right down. I said, “I am not the same person I used to be… she was a lot nicer than I am!” LOL!

      • He was thinking he could sweet-talk LifeIsGood into some pity sex, is what he was thinking.

        Narcissist FWs have a hard time understanding that other people are not just supporting characters in their lives.

    • And THIS is why I don’t answer my door if I’m not expecting anyone. 🤣

      You need to get one of those little doorbell cameras!

  • Boundaries. Luckily our son was an adult when we divorced, so I didn’t have to deal with my ex in custody matters. My ex would bulldoze over boundaries as if they hadn’t been set, but which I didn’t really see until after I left him, because for years I’d been so used to ensuring I did things in a way that no conflict would be triggered, and if he objected, I’d change the plan.

    I only started to recognize this pattern after CL opened my eyes, and during separation and divorce proceedings I set to work on setting and enforcing them.

    An early instance of my seeing his bulldozing through a boundary occurred the month after I moved out into an apartment of my own. My ex needed a ride to a colonoscopy appointment, which I agreed to do (at that time I was still incorporating the idea that we were no longer a “we,” and I was also trying not to antagonize him during the divorce). He called his doctor, got several dates, and asked when I could take him. I named the days that I could drive him. Immediately, he asked if I could do it on a different day instead. I capitulated, thinking my days were “only a preference and I could accommodate him,” but I also realized right then that I was going to have to grow a backbone and start enforcing my boundaries, or otherwise I’d suffer in the divorce settlement.

    A very recent instance of my setting a boundary with him: he sent me a text telling me the department chair (I am retired from the same academic department in which he still teaches) had had an email from a student who wanted to contact me, and had asked him to let me know. I wrote back to my ex “I’ll handle it. And in the future, please tell Mike [the chair] to contact me directly.” Then I wrote to the chair, and told him the same thing.

    I’m still working on boundary enforcement, but now with my FOO. I’ve spent the three years since I retired and divorced (I did them in tandem because I worked with the fuckwit) being the point person caring for my 96 year old mother. I moved temporarily a thousand miles from home to live across from her for six months so I could provide for er (I was effectively providing her with the care of an assisted living facility while she remained in her own home) ; I made the arrangements for her move to assisted living when she could not longer climb the stairs in her condo; for a year and a half since her move I have spent half of that time on months’ long visits to to help her–and her needs have grown exponentially in assisted living. Before this latest visit, for which I committed myself to four months, I made the decision this is the last one, that I will no longer be willing to do this care beyond September of this year, and I’ve begun telling my siblings I will be going home at the end of September (after four months straight of living away from home, and six months this year). Just this morning, I told my sister that she might want to keep in mind as she plans a visit now that in October Mom is going to need care. At the end of August, I will tell them we need a new plan and to put it in place in September, because I am going home at the beginning of October.

    I am finding the most difficult part of disengaging from three years of being willing to order my own life around my mother’s needs and my siblings’ convenience is that I feel selfish in declaring my life has as much value as everyone else’s, and that my needs are as important as theirs. I know I have done my duty by my mother, and done more than my share of the care, but the actual carrying out of this boundary is going to test me even more than leaving my ex and dealing with him.

    Maybe if when I was a child I’d learned it was ok to set boundaries, and how to set and enforce them, and even been taught and encouraged to set and enforce them–instead of the opposite–I wouldn’t have married the fuckwit in the first place.

    • “I declare my life has as much value as everyone else’s, and that my needs are as important as theirs.”

      Say it. Act as if you believe it. Let all of them get used to the new Adelante who loves herself.
      Very inspirational comment.

    • Adelante,

      I love your plan! Your siblings need to step up to the plate.

      Stay strong 💪! You got this.

      ((hugs))

  • I blocked him everywhere. Filtered his emails to spam. He eventually stopped trying when he got no response from me.

    He also moved 45 minutes away. While he has rental property in town, I live in a private neighborhood so he can’t do a drive by.

  • This entire comment section is life-affirming! CN is MIGHTY! I’ve been growing into boundaries through the experience of final discovery, kicking FW out, filing, selling our family home, and having divorce be final. He’s been really ramping up in the last few weeks, as our kid prepares to leave for college. I think it’s finally dawning on him that he has no more control over either of us, and it’s driving him apesh*t. I blocked him on all forms of social media, learned grey rock, moved away from phone calls except in real emergencies (injury to our daughter), not answering texts of emails on his schedule, but at my convenience, silencing his texts. I taught myself to think of communication with him as costly to me, for a while I would put a dollar value on every word. If this is a 10 word text and each word costs $10, I am “spending” $100 on him. Is he worth $100 to me? NO? Then cut some words out. All that has done wonders for my mental health! Just getting him out of my daily environment was immediately healing.

    Now, though, as I said, he is ramping up again. So my rule is that I will address one topic or issue per day and when I’m done, I’m done for the day and he has to wait. He recently complained that “we only talk about (our daughter) these days…” and I was like, NO SHIT, SHERLOCK, that’s the ONLY topic mandated in our decree! And only about health or education! But he has decided that we MUST disclose any/all of the following life events to each other: moving, buying a house, changing jobs, leaving the city or the state, death of a loved one, serious illness, and, of course, buried in the middle of the list but I know it’s the burning issue for him, any serious relationship. He did have the self-awareness to say that he knows we are not friends, but not the sense to realize that the things on his list are to be shared with friends or family members… and we are neither. I noped out of that business so fast, I like to think his head is spinning.

    • I love your strategy of putting a value of $10 on every word and asking if he’s worth the cost. Of course “no contact”=worth nothing to me.

    • Isn’t it crazy how these fuckwits will throw our relationship away but still get jealous when we move on and see other people? They’re like territorial dogs pissing on hydrants.

  • Probably the first boundary within a 33 yr marriage, where I tolerated everything, was actually leaving. I had a couple of dinners involving the kids with him initially and realized their relationship was not mine to mediate or repair since they were older.I met him a couple of times in public places thinking we could work something out and where I was held hostage for hours with his verbal rants and him declaring, “a cup of coffee won’t solve this.” I went nc and from that point on everything went through my attorney. He HATED that. We’ve had a variety of court cases since then but I have not spoken to him directly in 7 yrs. Heaven
    I still have difficulty with boundaries with my brother. I value his opinions but I have fear of his judgments concerning decisions I make.

  • My fuckwit not forwarding a kiddo expense reimbursement and ignoring any follow up regarding reimbursement owed is him still being in control. It’s been an ongoing annoyance since the divorce was finalized 4.5 years ago. A couple years back, I had my attorney file 86 counts of contempt against him; one count for each reimbursement owed. The fuckwit claimed he did not have the funds for an attorney and didn’t hire one. He would ignore my attorney or respond that he needed more time to review. These delays cost me extra thousands in fees for my attorney. At my breaking point over that mess, I looped the fuckwit’s parents into what was going on. Within a week, I had a settlement and fuckwit texted me to never bring his parents into his personal business again.

    Fast forward to now. Given the crazy used car prices, fuckwit agreed to my suggestion that our kiddo who turned 16 this summer should get my older vehicle as I was planning to get a newer one. Our parenting plan indicates that we will split the cost of a vehicle up to $15k when each kiddo turns 16. The vehicle was worth more than that, but I still felt that me losing a little money on this deal was the safest vehicle option for our kiddo. I have in writing where he has agreed to pay me $7500 as his half and would have it to me by the time kiddo turned 16. Of course that didn’t happen. And, as expected, the fuckwit ignores any follow up that I send regarding the amount owed. It’s been a coulple of months and I’m done. On Monday, I will be looping in his parents to see if they can assist with this matter. If they cannot, then I will forward it to my attorney and also seek to have child support revised as it’s currently calculated on fuckwit having 85 days. In actuality, it’s been less than 5 days each year. And, last fall the fuckwit moved out of his apartment and bought some raw hillside land in a rural area. He’s currently living in a shed with the OWife with no space for kiddo and no indoor plumbing. Kiddo will never spend a night in there. Fuckwit has a VP level job with a high income. Maybe the OWife always wanted to live in a shed?!

  • A year after FW left for the white trash OW I decide to buy a new car. My BF at the time suggested the maybe FW would want it because his lack of taking care of his car left it with a seized engine. When we met to do the exchange he told me I needed to speak to our youngest about his Canada plans. I asked why and was informed that he could not go so dad’s place as they would not be there. I said did he expect our son would trash the house he grew up in ( insert eye roll). No apparently the OW’s teenage grandson was staying with his friends.

    I looked at Fuckwit straight the eyes and said not my house not my problem. As well my secretary days were over. Get you side piece to take of it. Oh he was not happy. He yells at me at the DMV that it’s my responsibility because he is my son. I looked straight in the eye and told again his house his problem and walked away.

  • I Changed locks day after FW moved out. I was heartbroken and still in shock from being blindsided but felt that a message had to be sent. In the next 3 weeks so much info came out that it made going NC easy. FW had flying monkey neighbor attack me in my house in an attempt to entrap me. Fortunately I had recorded incident and neighbor was arrested and charged. FW tried to get me to drop the charges but I didn’t. Neighbor was also cheating on her husband and I exposed her to everybody. She had to do public service and her children currently are not talking to her. FW had priest come to me to get me to soften my stance on neighbor. I pointed out to priest that he allowed FW to have affair on church property with maintenance worker and did nothing after I informed him. I berated the priest for that and not helping me at all over the last year. When he attempted to go “holeir than thou” on me he received a verbal beatdown that left him and the monsignor shaking. I reported the incident and him (the Priest) to the diocese and now an investigation is going on which has exposed neighbor of improperly using funds. It has rattled the church. I am a daily communicant and still go to that church everyday. FW is now at a different church and maybe I hurt my chances of an annulment but fuck it God knows.
    FW has also learned the hard way that you can’t break a court ordered parenting plan.
    Happy Friday everyone I will continue to pray for all of us.

    • Good for you. I always like to hear of fellow Catholics who are sick to death of the covering up process.

  • a couple weeks ago, as we attempted to email one another a working list re: contents of the house, and he was rude AF. i just responded with “i think it best that our lawyers deal with this list.”

    “no. i don’t agree. you can do this. you’re an adult,” he responded.

    an adult, says the 12-year-old boy going on 60-year-old man.

    “please address any thoughts/concerns/comments/concerns about the contents of the house to your lawyer who will, in turn, speak to my lawyer. thank you.”

    X was angry, angry, angry.

    i did not respond.

    it felt great.

    i just don’t have any gas in the tank for that guy. i have another tank that feeds my self and my kids and my friends, and i need all the gas for that tank.

    fuck that guy.

  • I stopped allowing her to drive onto my property when we do exchanges of our daughter. The problem was, she would just babble on about how she missed her plants and had suggestions for how I should prune plants, etc. She would pretend that everything was normal and act like we were still such good buddies. Uh….no.

      • It does … but that would also mean jail time.

        In a less Agatha Christie vein: I’ve struggled with an ongoing temptation to drive to my sister’s ex’s house at night and use Round-Up to write a very rude word on his verge lawn. In large letters, for the neighbours to enjoy.

        • You might do the same with plant food, in early spring? I’ve read it can work, and you could enjoy the thought of all the extra mowing ‘to keep the message down’. I don’t think it would count as criminal damage, but this is the internet and IANAL… 🙂

      • Klootzak uses so much Round Up, I thought it would affect him eventually. But I think FWs are closer to cockroaches than weeds so Raid would probably be more appropriate.

  • I pretty much blocked all contact with my ex cheater so that makes my boundaries easy. I do want to, however, talk about the boundaries that the adult daughters I share have put in place because “surprise” once he didn’t have me to be a dick towards, he set his sights on trying to trample their boundaries. Essentially, what has happened his entire life is that he’s used his charm, space and silence as a way to not ever have to apologize. For example: he does or says something crappy, person on receiving end gets upset (he loves pushing buttons) and FW slinks away and gives person the gift of space and silence for a couple of hours/days/weeks. When he thinks all is forgotten and forgiven he pops back up in a nonchalant manner such as with a phone call or a text or whatever. Never ever does he apologize for his shitty behavior and he just attempts to pick up conversation or relationship like nothing ever happened. This has worked for so long that he’s now shocked that our adult daughters are not responding to his post shitty behavior attempts at contact and DO NOT ENGAGE. No response, no acknowledgement, nothing. They also aren’t telling him what he needs to do because if they say they are looking for an apology he’ll go through the motions but never actually mean it. This is rocking his world and he is growing increasingly frustrated that he can’t suck them back into his cycle of mental abuse. They desperately want their father back. Not the guy who cheated on and abandoned his family for a very close family friend but rather the dad they think might be buried deep deep down in this pitiful shell of a human they are seeing. I know this is hard on them but they are being so strong and truly telling him, themselves and the world that they will not tolerate his cycle of what is essentially abuse.

    • “the dad they think might be buried deep deep down in this pitiful shell of a human they are seeing”

      My kids too, but x isn’t that “dad”.

  • I divorced in the day of landlines. I think there’s nothing as satisfying as hanging up the phone so the moron on the other end just hears a dial tone. 😆 But any kind of hanging up works well too! I’m not available to be spoken to in any old way. I did a lot of hanging up in the 90s.

    • I did too, in the early 90s. Although, for some reason I always said something like, good bye, or I have to go and didn’t give him a chance to respond.

  • My ex, with his mistress-turned-wife, makes $1M+/yr AFTER paying my spousal support and her spousal support, came at me claiming he gets the tax write-off for our daughter and that he wouldn’t “force me” to refile.

    Nope. Residency trumps $$$. Her time in college is considered a temporary absence from my place. I managed to calmly smack him down without emotion.

    Here’s the kicker — it would be a whopping $500 write off for him. For me it would mean losing HH status.

    How spiteful can you be? It’s been a definite trigger, bringing back all the pain of my divorce, where he showed absolutely no remorse for lying/cheating/stealing gaslighting & deception for his serial cheating over 20 years! This is a man who refused to split the airlines miles, even though he travels all the time because “his butt was in the seat” while I was tethered to the house raising our daughter.

    It seems as though history repeats itself. I was the big earner when we married, albeit at a much different income level, and the new wife outearns him 2x now.

    Although he never expressed it to me, he felt emasculated and acted out by having affairs. Will he repeat himself again? Or will the money and power couple image be enough for him?

    Oh yeah, we’re talking about boundaries. He only cares about money. He is responsible for our daughter’s living expenses and made her approach me recently so I would look like the bad guy if I said no. I told her that he was trying to manipulate me and he shouldn’t put her in the middle.

    My boundary is not taking the bait and not showing any emotion. It’s difficult for an emotional person like me to do.

    • “Although he never expressed it to me, he felt emasculated and acted out by having affairs.”

      That’s no better an excuse than bagged salad or socks that aren’t folded correctly. Complete bullshit.

      “Will he repeat himself again? Or will the money and power couple image be enough for him?”

      Nothing is ever enough for these chronically thirsty people.

  • I set boundaries with my Swiss family members that they were to stop trying to convince me to stay with FW, saying how FW really is a good guy at heart and calling me oversensitive. They broke the boundary so I broke off contact. Then they tried to do it through my DD2 when she visited. She didn’t visit again until it stopped. They learned, but it took more than a year for them to accept that was the way it was going to be.

    I set a boundary with my eldest child who was playing Swiss but was actually in FW’s camp. She said cruel things, was angry about me not being able to visit her shortly after Dday (she lives a ten hour drive away and I was so depressed I could hardly get out of bed, let alone go on a trip) and was conspiring with FW for him get to see our grandchildren and for them to get together to “discuss the situation” (meaning talk about me behind my back.) She actually had the gall, knowing FW had been lying and keeping secrets from me for years, to ask him to keep that secret. Even FW himself was not happy with her doing that, so he told me. I then told her I couldn’t help but feel betrayed by her doing that. Her response was to block my number, FW’s number, her sister’s number, remove the family from her photo sharing through google, then tell lies about me and play the victim with other family members. My boundary after that, (relayed through another family member since she had ghosted me) was she had to apologize and retract the lies or we would not have a relationship.
    That was four years ago and she has still not done the right thing. Her sister tried to convince her to but got nowhere. While saying she wanted to re-connect (much like a FW asking to wreckonclie) she blamed-shifted, made a bunch of stupid excuses for her behavior and would not retract her lies. Apparently she got angry about being expected to be decent, because she went even further and made some insinuations that were disturbing, yet refused to be specific or elaborate (classic passive aggressive power move.) Unfortunately I think she may have BPD. Her bio-dad did and it has a genetic component.
    So it looks like we’re done, because I will never settle for a one sided relationship with any pathologically selfish, disordered person again. That is a hard boundary. People in my life must treat me with equal respect and consideration as I do them. If they don’t I can’t be around them. It sets my mental health back and I can’t allow that.
    It sucks to lose people, but it’s worse to lose myself. That’s what happens if you let people walk all over you- you keep getting smaller and further from who you were.

  • This is not in regard to FWs, but boundaries with friends. I’ve recently realized how many “friends” I have that only contact me when it seems like they need attention; otherwise, I am the one reaching out to them to see how things are going. There is no reciprocity in their concern about me. One is always ditching plans with me to do stuff last-minute with her 40-something-year-old children instead–like I’m an option only if her kids don’t call and make other plans. My new boundary is not to contact these people, not to make plans with them at all. I’ve got to get out there and make new friends. My current ones suck.

    • I’ve had a couple of friends like that. It took me awhile but eventually I came to the same boundary you did.

  • For me it was telling FW on the day he collected his remaining ‘stuff’ that I would ‘never ever speak to him ever again!!’

    It felt good 😁

  • My life might be proof that being known or identified as a person who sets boundaries carries a double edge because some perpetrators view this as a challenge. “Oooh, boundary! Must cross!” Or “Oooh, boundaries! Must take you down!”

    My late uncle who was a green industrialist sort of mentored me from the time I was 10 years old thinking I might go into the family biz. He cryptically gave me bits of business wisdom from time to time, such as his observation that people who lack integrity will invariably try to target those who have integrity because anyone succeeding without being corrupt destroys the cynical rationale of the integrity-free that corruption is necessary to succeed. His company had all sorts of stopgaps against hiring divisive, untrustworthy people in the first place (deep, elaborate background checks) and managing corporate sabotage in order to keep the working environment as positive and unmicromanaged as possible. It worked and my uncle’s company was the subject of graduate business school seminars every year for decades because of it’s flat hierarchy, lack of titles and employee freedoms (what companies like Google pretend but never achieved). Basically the lesson there– which is something I eventually figured out after paying the price of missing the clue– is that you can’t let the creeps near you to begin with because they invariably cause severe damage on their way out. Just as important as having boundaries is having a deft picker.

    I suspect part of the reason FW’s DARVO was so hateful and angry from the start of the affair was because he knew I was a formidable opponent when crossed and it scared the bejesus out of him. Of course before FW shifted to the cheater track, the fact that I fought back against various offenders and had boundaries probably flattered his narcissism as one therapist put it, as if I was some hard-to-get commodity that rejected other contenders yet accepted him. But that feather in his cap sort of turned into a grenade with the pin pulled out once he turned against me. Then it’s like he started to identify with the scoundrels I’d fought back against.

    For some context, I interned and worked in a notoriously competitive industry in which harassment and assault were commonplace, a fact that my parents and uncle tried to warn me about but was only recently blown wide open during the #MeToo movement. I was also raised not to take any crap. It was kind of a family motto. The weird thing is that, rather than making me look for offense around every corner, I was convinced that the way I was raised would act as a magic shield against it so I was always shocked to the bone when that wasn’t the case. Later when I did advocacy for victims of violence, I learned that the whole view that victims “draw” aggression towards themselves due to low self esteem was a crock and part of rape and battering myths. As it turns out, victims aren’t any more likely to have had tough childhoods than anyone else and even statistically tend to skew slightly towards higher pre-victimization self esteem. Basically perpetrators vary in taste in prey, some preferring “big game” or challenging targets. D’OH. In fact, on reflection, the only women I saw navigating their way through this rapey industry maze (if they didn’t just give into it and enable it, which many did) were tough as nails due to traumatic upbringings. I’ll never forget my first internship working under a poker-faced redhead from Nacogdoches, TX. At first she terrified me. She never smiled and called me on every mistake. But I admired the way she talked back to the creepy company director and got away with it. Once she saw I wasn’t an incompetent idiot and worked hard, we became friends and I spent a wonderful New Years eve with her and her three legged rescue kitten making up nicknames for all the creeps in the company. She knew everyone’s dirt but was never gratuitous about it, didn’t pick on harmless people. Over time I learned that she’d been a mistreated foster kid and had a depth of wisdom and generosity that I’ve rarely encountered. But one thing she couldn’t impart was how to act so impenetrable all the time that nobody messes with you. And would anyone really envy the kind of background that produces such a bulletproof exterior? She even said that I might eventually figure out I was in the wrong line of work and that it’s pointless to envy anyone’s success since you don’t know what they suffered or paid to get where they are.

    I did start to improve my radar a bit from experience and from knowing people like her. Something else that probably intimidated FW is that I was on my way to developing an improved creep detection system. For instance, FW and his mother had been devotees of a certain new age sect since he was a kid. He once took me to a meditation center which had an eight foot portrait of the founding guru at the entrance. I took one look at it and thought, “Eek, pedophile.” A few years later, this particular organization hit the headlines for being a den of child rape and the founder was exposed as a serial rapist. I was impressed that FW read the reports and stopped patronizing and practicing. I remember him saying “We’ve got to be about truth as much as it hurts.” Yeah, well. Another time I helped police bust an unapprehended child molester when I saw a guy hanging around a children’s baseball game and took his license plate because my gut screamed “wrong, wrong, wrong.” When I saw the report in the paper the next day with the recreated sketch and description of the suspect, I called it in because it fit the suspects appearance down to the stripes on his shirt, his remarkably green eyes and his weird little-boy Ked-style sneakers. Cops are used to getting useless tips from busybodies and the cop who took the call asked in a bored voice if I’d happened to take down the plate and then spit out his coffee when I said that I had.

    Maybe it was just a matter of growing into a family quirk since a few years ago while at my mother’s house I got a call from a detective in the city we’d lived in when I was growing up. They wanted to return a sketch my mother had made (she was a professional illustrator) twenty years earlier of a suspicious man at a gas station. My mother had been on her way to her studio and stopped to fill her bicycle tires when she saw a motorcyclist filling his tank and staring at her with “bottomless, empty intensity.” After I relayed the message from the detective, my mother described having had the same bolt-of-lighting sense of dread that I’d felt a few times. She said that, a few hours after she got that “chill” from the guy at the gas station, she heard that a woman cycling in a nearby park had been raped and murdered just an hour after she’d spotted the motorcyclist. Apparently one person who’d been walking a dog close to the scene of the murder remembered seeing a motorcyclist (illegally) on a bike path. So my mother immediately sketched the motorcyclist she’d seen from memory (she has eidetic memory) and delivered it detectives. Twenty years later when she called the detectives back, they thanked her for helping to solve the previously unsolved case which they blamed on the former administration (one of the most racist, corrupt PDs in the country). The perpetrator had died many years before in prison but they were at last able to match DNA. The former administration had insisted the perpetrator had to be African American, not the young blond guy my mother sketched.

    So what’s wrong with my radar that I missed FW’s cues? Maybe it was calibrated on “rape/murder” only and not on subtler danger. It also might be the price of having worked in a shitty industry for so long until my sense of smell got burned out and could only pick up on massive shit storms but not silent farts. There’s also the problem that some perpetrators can tailor their abuse as required to confound and paralyze prey. They can get a jump on you. For instance, when I was pregnant I worked for someone who was later exposed as a serial rapist of teenagers. For whatever reason, that boss fixated on me and seemed devoted to making my life miserable even if I wasn’t a teen anymore and not in his target range. When I look back it’s clear I was doing some of the best work I’d ever done then but was constantly criticized. And no, unlike my previous supervisor, this wasn’t just a test period from someone with high work standards who was going to make me better and end up my friend. This is why it confused me at first but I eventually quit when the guy almost put me into preterm labor. Then I learned that he’d had a lawyer access court documents of my past civil suit against a workplace stalker which had not been sealed. So not only did he mystically sense I might be trouble (how?), I assume he felt compelled to preemptively dig around to see if he could find something to blackmail me with and came across evidence that I was, in fact, trouble. I think his immediate harsh treatment of me as an employee was all a preemptive DARVO tactic to confound my radar. Maybe it’s not such a stretch to imagine that child abusers are wary that maternal types are automatic opponents. Maybe he was like my uncle in dark form and always deeply background-checked employees. He’s dead now so I’ll never know.

    In advocacy I’d learned that serial offenders, particularly child molesters, develop an almost preternatural political sense of anyone who might get in the way of their schemes and misdeeds which is how so many seek out and manage to rise and thrive in positions of trust in which they have power over children. They might take you down before you figure them out just like my uncle warned. Or some might feel compelled to get close to you, to charm, beguile and win you. WTF. So the moral of the story is that while boundaries are critical, I made the mistake of having hubris about having boundaries. I think that applies to high self esteem as well. High self esteem won’t stop bullets and knives and it’s not a perfect shield against predators who relish a challenge. I think it’s important to realize that, for every person on earth, there’s a predator who can tailor tactics to get past a target’s defenses. So boundaries, yay, but the picker is still a primary defense and takes years and years to develop. And I’d add a note to get out of any job, career or industry that’s so full of shit that it dulls your sense of smell and may make you overly grateful and relieved when you encounter people who just don’t happen to, say, stalk, rape and murder. I’m sure a lot of embezzlers and human traffickers are genuinely against cannibalism.

    • @Hell of a Chump,
      thanks so much for this post. You touch on areas about perpetrators and experiences that I myself have not been good at putting into words.

    • I’ve read elsewhere that cynical people can’t stand people with integrity winning. Very interesting book about called “Stalking the Soul”. You see cases in famous stories, like why did Iago destroy Othello in Shakespeare’s play. Or, that kind of pathological envy could also explain why Cain killed Abel.

  • My ex abandoned us so he wasn’t trying to come around much. However he was also not participating in the separation and being abusive by ghosting and offering no help or support. When it can time for the property mediation, he waffled on and made himself out to be the huge victim. I simply said “I want to keep the home so I can give our daughter stability”. This was my boundary because it was the best grey rock ever! I didn’t get pulled down to his level of weirdness and victimhood. His lawyer was also baiting me but I didn’t take the bait. I just calmly walked through the process to finally get him out of my life. He didn’t want to settle with me presumably so he could keep control. He did almost nothing else to keep his end of the bargain. He wouldn’t go to the bank to close our accounts so I had to do that myself after pleading with the bank manager to help. I had to do everything myself to get rid of him. That was my boundary 💪🏻

    • Yeah I get that bank thing, ours required the one dropping off the account sign off on it. It was the one that had my check going into it.

      I just changed my deposit to another bank, and when the last check cleared I pulled all the money out except for 6 dollars required to keep it open, and I had my name taken off the account. I assume he got the six dollars and then closed it. My treat to him and whore, happy meals all around.

      I must have signed for the bigger account, because I had the paper work where I was dropped off it.

      I took him off all my work insurance and benefits which I could legally do the day after he walked out the door. Except for the retirement account which had very little in it as I had only been working on it for three years. We legally waived each others retirement after he paid out my share with a small apartment sized house and lot. It wasn’t much but a few years later I a little over double what we paid for it, so it was a few bucks.

  • My ex taught me that I want someone who is interested in me. So i set a boundary that on an online dating site, the guy needs to show he’s read my profile. And he needs to ask questions about me before I will meet for coffee.
    And I actually enforced the boundary last weekend. After messages to me all about himself, the guy asked me to meet him. When I said not yet (and why) he got mad. Glad i saved me some time!

  • I have also been enforcing my boundary that I will not seek out information about my ex or his now-wife or any of his online cheating activities. Sometimes I get curious about whether he’s crashed and burned already, but I also know that people only post good things about their lives, and if they don’t have anything good they make something up, so I wouldn’t be seeing the truth anyway. And then the urge to look kind of fades away.
    But part of me still wants karma. I tell that part that if he reaches out to me for anything that I know something bad has happened in his life.
    And I also take some time to really send him some bad vibes. For example,
    * hoping he’s always just late enough to everything to miss something
    * his pizzas (his fave) never quite taste as good as he remembers
    * his clothes always have wrinkles
    * he gets an incurable STD
    * he gets bald soon (I thought he was on his way but tried to reassure him no before)
    * every board game is missing something (we loved playing them and he kept them all by coincidence)
    * his porn-watching at work gets worse so he’ll be caught
    * he gets audited by IRS
    * his glasses get a scratch in the most annoying spot
    Etc

    • I think hoping for bad karma is kind of like the watched pot that never boils. I’ve noticed I only see real schadenfreude-fodder when I no longer care or react to it. And then it can be spectacular. I’ve had so many instances of wincing over the fate of some genuinely awful person who did genuinely awful things years ago. You know you’re over it when those things happen and you have to avert your eyes. Not because you care about that particular individual but because some things you wouldn’t wish on your enemy’s dog. Examples: three dead before their time, one lost a leg, two in jail (one in a huge embezzling case), another had their whole family engulfed in the most humiliating kind of scandal.

      I’m not religious so I don’t believe these outcomes are God’s will. It doesn’t explain all the innocent people who suffer terribly through no fault of their own. But even if I was religious I’d take a hint from the Book of Job that presuming to guess God’s will is a bad idea. In the end I suspect character can sometimes affect destiny in ways that make it seem like the better choice to stay on the straight and narrow.

      • I’ve noticed similar fates in the terrible people from my past, too. Not just my indifference to their ends, but how awful those ends were. It’s hard to escape consequences from a lifetime of bad behavior unless you’re rich and powerful, and even those things have their limits.

        • Yes, being an alcoholic diabetic will do one in. Also std ravaging a woman’s plumbing. I feel sorry for their children.

    • I do understand this (see earlier comments about Round-Up) – but he’s occupying what sounds like an awful lot of your mental real estate?

      It’s hard to get to Meh with such a lot of baggage slowing you down.

  • My FW left just before Thanksgiving 2020.

    Two weeks later, during our first mediation session, he suggested that I could “do” Christmas, since I was still in the house with our child, while FW was bouncing around in Airbnbs (AP’s apartment was too small for the two of them). I’d prepare a holiday dinner, and then he’d show up so we could celebrate as a family! “That’s not going to work,” I said.

    A month later, FW made the very same proposal regarding our child’s birthday. I’d throw a party, and then he’d show up so we could celebrate as a family! “That’s not going to work,” I said.

    He didn’t make a third attempt.

  • Well thank you for the post.

    She loves to change things with the kids as I think she’s starting to realize I have a life after all this.

    Perfect example, boy was enrolled in a football program, but she changed it last minute. Now, I won’t be a dick and not watch my boy and pick him up from practice (even though I don’t have to pick him up), but I did let her know that I will not on certain days of the week as they are reserved for my companion and friends. If she argues, I tell her we signed an agreement, it’s now just business, just like you treated our marriage contract.

  • I kept the home after divorce. The ex thought she could just walk in as she pleases . I had to tell her that she could only come into my house, If I’d ask her in.
    She wanted to text me about nonsense .
    I had to tell her that communication is via email unless there is a health or safety problem for the kids .
    And so she emails – no manners in the emails, just a conversational tone .
    Very often rude .
    My emails are formal and written in grey rock. When too many of hers arrive, I’ll only answer on the day of the kids handover .
    We don’t sit together at school sport or arts events . There is no fake family Christmas, as requested by her .
    This is all extremely helpful .

  • Right now my boundaries are, no, I’m not up rooting my life to fix yours. I don’t need boundaries with the soon to be ex husband, he doesn’t care because he’s too busy transforming into a complete douche bag- but, I’m also facing other people asking me to pick up the shit they leave behind and no, I’m not doing it. I’m not doing the time because I didn’t commit the crime. I’ve been a door mat for people my entire life and it’s about time that comes to an end.

    • Good for you, Lindsay. They can damn well sort their problems out for themselves, or not. It’s their choice.

      I’m not trying to fix things for people who do things that fuck up their lives either.
      That means the addicts in my family who are after me for money are SOL. What I have saved is for my daughter when I’m gone. My drug addict brother asked me to use my inheritance to buy out my alcoholic brother’s share of our childhood home, then let them continue to live in it rent free where they would continue to drink and use drugs. Not happening.

  • “Yes.” “No.” “Maybe.” These are complete sentences. I shut down any non-kid communications a long time ago. Grey rock works to heal me and keep me sane. If XH starts in on a rant, I simply block him for a few days. I do not mention doing it. None of his business. I protect myself now.

  • Early on I realized he always wanted to text me shortly before bedtime. Then I couldn’t sleep. So I blocked him from 6 pm until morning. Then I extended that to while I was at work all morning. Then I finally blocked him all together and he could only email me. In his emails unless he directly asked a question I did t respond. Even if it was a question disguised as a command I wouldn’t respond. It drive him crazy.

    • I’m old school and prefer emails to texts, unless they’re near and dear to me. It absolutely enraged a now (thank God) former neighbor. I wouldn’t budge and she was beside herself. Too bad.

  • People have always remarked how civil me and the father of our kids seem. It baffles me that I’m that good at hiding my true thoughts. I feel as though they’re written on my forehead and that I have slipped and said it out loud. At a minimum, every sentence ends with the words, “You asshole!” It’s been 40 years since the divorce — cheater alcoholism and 2 toddlers made it impossible to have a genuine relationship and I wasn’t going to have a third child in the house.

    With a granddaughter graduating high school and going to college and a daughter moving into assisted living, this past year has been one of those periods of time when crisis meant the boundaries were lowered a bit.
    I have been raising the granddaughter and the ex has been tossing money into the pot for some things and has agreed he’ll pay half of her college.

    With her pending move into the dorm in two weeks, I am now able to move to a dream house. I have purchased it — it’s 5 minutes away from another daughter and her family. My ex and his wife keep throwing out hints about seeing the house. They will never be on my street, let alone in my lovely back yard, or god forbid inside my cottage.

  • >