My gaslighting began on Halloween 2020. The now-ex and I finished walking the dogs and were sitting out on the patio drink coffee. I said to him, “I think we should refinance the house.” His reply, “We aren’t going to refi the house. You keep asking me what’s wrong. I want to separate. I haven’t been happy for a long time. I’m going to stay at a friend’s house.” “He” has an extra room. It was so out of the blue. I knew he had been acting strange, but he was working two jobs and in my ignorance I thought he is just tired.
Well, to sum up the next few months I pulled phone records, found her number did a search and got her name then confronted him. Looking back I should have kept my mouth shut. Anywho, then it went from she’s just a friend, to kissing/messing around, to we had sex a couple times. Funny I had always thought if I found out someone was cheating on me I would just walk out. Well, I humiliated myself by begging him to work it out for months. He never really wanted to work it out, he wanted her. He lied and lied and I swallowed it all. Then he revealed the friend he had been staying with was “her”.
Finally told him to leave and he moved in with her. I was a caregiver to my sister for years and she unexpectedly got gravely I’ll and passed away which devastated me. This was his sister in law for 22 years and he came by the night she passed for maybe 45 min.to give me a hug and checked his watch continually. She had him on a short leash. So I handled the divorce completely. It only took 6 months because we agreed on split. Then we attempted the Friend thing and he would call me almost every morning and email me at work.
Then imagine my surprise when I find a wedding announcement in January 2022 for their marriage. This is her third marriage. Married to first husband 20+ years, leaves for “soulmate,” he decides to return to his wife, she marries someone else and they are pending a divorce and going to marriage counseling when she hooks up with my ex.
So, I was devastated that he married her and in our daily conversations never said a thing to me about his pending nuptials. Yes she wore a fancy white wedding gown for her third wedding. Oh, did I mention she said she was a Christian and did not allow my husband to curse or watch R rated movies? When he told me this I laughed and said, “But screwing someone else’s husband is ok with God?” Then he said the do morning Bible readings. I said isn’t that great have you read and studied the 10 commandments, yet there are a few in there you both may need to work on.
Ok, so I moved a year ago and have not physically seen him since I moved. However, we still communicate via email. I’ve tried several times to just ignore them, but no success so far. About 2 weeks ago he told me he cared and loved me and regretted what he did and beats himself up daily.
Realistically I know if that was the truth he would leave her and do anything possible to be with me and fix his crap. He is exactly where he wants to be, with her. I know I need to stop communicating with him. How do I do this? I lost him, his kids stopped communicating with me, so no grandkids either and my sister is gone leaving nothing for me anymore.
I need you to kick me into reality because I am going crazy.
Crazy in Cali
Dear Crazy in Cali,
(((Hugs))). This has been a lot of loss. Your sister, your marriage of 22 years, your home, your extended family. I could just go straight into Chump Lady mode and bitchslap you, but I want to acknowledge the deep grief behind the chumpiness.
We get it. You’re among chumps. Love, and the loss of it, can make you do stupid things. Forgive yourself. But Cali, you must stop doing stupid things.
He is not, and has never been, your friend.
He abandoned you. And then, to add insult to injury, he didn’t even have the decency to initiate the divorce. (Incredibly common. Adulting is for the little people.)
Get your head out of the hopium haze — he’s not in touch because he cares, but because he enjoys playing two women off each other (aka, the pick me dance.) He feeds off the centrality. It’s a power trip.
People who care about you don’t goad you into humiliating contests for their attention. He wants to tell you about the details of his Bible study with Sister Skanky? NO.
I shouldn’t untangle his effed up little skein, but my guess is he throws out details about his newfound piety precisely because it’s crazy making. OF COURSE you’re going to remind him that he’s a fucking hypocrite. Such tasty, tasty bait. And you took it.
Stop matching wits with this loser. You know what every well-crafted zinger says? THAT YOU STILL CARE. That’s all that matters to him — your attention. You wanting him. Him denying you, but enjoying the power trip of maybe. Keeping you engaged. Feeding on your loss.
CUT THAT SHIT OUT.
Then we attempted the Friend thing and he would call me almost every morning and email me at work.
He’s eating cake. Go familiarize yourself with the Unified Theory of Cake. He wants Schmoopie plus all the perks and privileges of your emotional labor.
You cannot stop him being a jerk, but you can stop abasing yourself. Friendship should mean something. There are standards. People who defraud you are not your friends, UNLESS you lower your criteria for friend. Heck, this cold cup of coffee can be my bestie. Not terribly fulfilling, but my cold cup of coffee isn’t trying to deliberately HURT me, so this inanimate object is still a better friend than your ex-husband.
Then imagine my surprise when I find a wedding announcement in January 2022 for their marriage.
Gosh, he didn’t invite his friend? Yeah, of course he didn’t tell you, because that would put a damper on cake.
However, we still communicate via email. I’ve tried several times to just ignore them, but no success so far.
You know how you ignore email? YOU BLOCK HIM. Delete it without reading it. Auto-forward it to a friend for safe keeping. But don’t allow his name to pollute your inbox.
You need to decide that he doesn’t get access to your life. At this point, the pain you are experiencing is self-inflicted. Trust the suck — he’s a fuckwit. He can’t not play stupid games. But YOU are participating. The only person who can shut this down is you.
About 2 weeks ago he told me he cared and loved me and regretted what he did and beats himself up daily.
This isn’t an apology. Did you notice that? He “regrets.” I regret low-rise jeans. He “beats himself up daily” is him making this about HIS suffering. This hurts him too! More really! It’s all designed to keep you hooked on him.
If he cared and loved you, he could never have behaved as he has. Nor would he presume your continued emotional investment in him. He’s still the same old entitled jerk, Cali.
He is exactly where he wants to be, with her.
No. He’s exactly where he wants to be — with you BOTH. (And probably others you don’t know about. Maximize kibble production…)
Exactly where he wants to be is CAKE. Take yourself out of the equation and leave him to Miss Bible Verse.
He’s not torn between two lovers, lost in eternal vacillation. He has manipulated this situation to his advantage. BOW OUT.
I know I need to stop communicating with him. How do I do this?
Cali, you know how to do this. (A link there to CN’s best no contact strategies.) The mechanics are pretty easy, it’s the mental discipline that’s hard. You need to get mad and start sticking up for yourself.
Not to him, that’s matching wits with a loser, we covered that. I mean, be your own best friend and stop allowing this man to hurt you.
No contact takes some dedication, but the longer you do it, the easier it gets. I know it feels like One More Loss, but all you’re doing is reliving the loss every time you interact with him. You get NOTHING out of this, but pain.
Snuff out the hopium. What if he comes back? Fuck him, you’re not Plan Z. What if he’s sorry? He’s a lying liar that lies. You’ll never know if he’s sincere or a royal corgi. What if he explains? There’s nothing to explain. His actions speak for themselves. They’re either acceptable to you or they aren’t.
He’s remarried. Do not play the Schmoopie role.
All of this takes energy, Cali. You’ve moved and you’ve got a new life — please direct your energies there.
But I will allow you one final fuck off to your ex.