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He Left for OW, But Stays in Touch Daily

Dear Chump Lady,

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.

Thank you,

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.

“I think you need to go home and pray.” — Ezekiel 23:20

Ask Chump Lady

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  • He’s also keeping you sweet in case it doesn’t work out with the AP-turned wife.

    You are no Plan B. You are worth so much more than that. Now is the time to strike out and create a new life for yourself. Rebuild. Think about things you want to do with your time – volunteer, get a dog, take up a new hobby, focus on your health with yoga, pilates. Distract yourself from him with lots of positive things to rebuild YOU. It’s all about YOU now. Good luck.

    • Yup! My FW kept me in his pocket even while he had left me and our babies for GF#1. It was bizarre how much I wanted contact with him despite how cruel he had been. After he cycled through GF#1 and GF#2, he came crawling back to me… his wife. He apologized and said he regretted everything he had done to me.

      And it worked! My door and my arms were open. He moved back into the family home and our marriage was saved!

      Only it wasn’t. Reconciliation was hell and after he had secured his spot back by my side he became even worse than ever. A year-ish later, he packed his bags and moved into GF#3/Wifetress’s house. And I finally got the memo: he was not a friend to me. I went No Contact and, while it was hard to start, it has been nothing but glorious.

      But yes, he is definitely “keeping you sweet” incase the situation with the new wife doesn’t work out. Mine had me figured as his Plan Z and it worked.

  • Cali, I’ve been there. Divorced 3 weeks shy of our 18th anniversary, my mother passed a month after he filed for divorce, and the two stepkids who I loved and cared for 19 years, they were gone. That was 4 years ago and my heart still aches for the loss of my family.

    But, it doesn’t not hurt enough to keep the ex in my life. Our divorce was quick – no kids, agreeable split and from start to finish was right at 4 months and they included the sale of our home. I had already blocked him on social media, shortly after he filed divorced. I told him,in the midst of it all, that after the divorce I never wanted to see him again, and I meant every word. The day our house sold, I blocked him all his emails and his phone numbers for texts. He lost the privilege to know anything about me and my life. I stupidly loved him so deeply, and will never forgive him for being a cheating POS.

    No contact is the way to your peace. You do it to let go and take that final step forward that is all you. You don’t need to carry that stone into your new life – just drop it and walk away a free woman.

  • A glaring issue is his children’s behavior toward you. It makes me wonder how much bad mouthing he did. They probably heard every little complaint he thought up. There are people who are never satisfied with their lives. They move on to the next chapter without ever stopping to think about the good things in their lives. He is already bad mouthing his new wife. What do you want to bet the kids are hearing the same old complaints?
    CL/CN has your back. Stay here, read and you will find your way out.

    • Letgo, without a doubt, he’s bad mouthing her and portraying himself as the victim.
      Image management, and support for their behavior.. Chump is so difficult to get along with even my kids don’t like her..

    • What is an affair other than triangulation? And triangulators gonna triangulate in every way possible. They bitch and moan behind people’s backs, pit this person against the next, form little bully gangs in order to betray, punish and control. It’s a tireless campaign to quell the fear of being socially stigmatized over the terrible things they’ve done and know they’ll continue to do. The only reason the kids wouldn’t eventually see this in their father is if they’re infected with the same disease.

  • Crazy in Call,
    The road to peace is getting rid of toxic people — especially crazy making gaslighting cheating FWs. Nothing good comes from being in touch with the man that blew up your life and is already remarried. So do what CL said and cut him off. You can do this!

    And get a therapist if you need to to help you work through things and find healthy ways to take care of yourself. Use that newly found time and energy towards being with your family or meeting new people or doing something you’ve always wanted to — learn guitar? Painting? Traveling? It takes time and it’s harder when you’re also going through grief, but every day it will get better. Do things for YOU. It will get easier. And then he’ll be a distant memory. You’ll look back and wonder why you ever stayed in touch after he left.

    Getting to meh is amazing. You won’t care whether he stays with AP or not (although based on her history, they are probably already cheating on each other and there’s a shit show pending). But most importantly be sure you’re free of him completely by then. You are not his parachute. You are not his back up plan. Sending you a huge hug. You CAN do this. Cut his ass off.

    • There will be plenty of chumps here to help with the No Contact that you must do (and it’s almost unbearable so hang tight). I’m going to suggest more on the side of
      “Use that newly found time and energy towards being with your family or meeting new people or doing something you’ve always wanted to — learn guitar? Painting? Traveling?”

      It will help you tremendously to build up friendships and find activities where you are now living. I moved too many times to even believe and had to find new support systems and activities with each move.

      A divorce support group and a grief support group may give you a chance to vent and possibly a new friend. Worth a shot. In the US, most Ys will offer something or check with local religious institutions if that is of comfort to you.

      I have found the public library to be an amazing resource. A book club in the middle of nowhere enabled me to have lovely experiences. Librarians, especially reference librarians, also know what other groups offer in your community.

      Look into meetups (www.meetup.com) in your area. I did walking groups, movie nights, a painting group. Even if you hate an activity, you might make a new friend by attending.

      There are so many travel groups out there for every interest and activity level! I took a chance and went with a tour group, not for singles, but that offered rooms with no extra single-supplement fee. That usually means they’re single friendly. Went across the globe on my own and met some fun people, couples and singles, and had the trip of a lifetime.

      My point in all of this is to encourage you to branch out and take some chances. The busier you are, the easier it is to block him.

      It will be hard and take time but don’t stop trying! Good luck!

      • This???????????????????????? 25 year marriage and I could have written many of these same sentiments. I found cL, filed, went no contact/grey rock (4 kids). I went to the YMCA and did classes. New things like kick boxing— very cathartic! And, after awhile, I met new people. Started hiking with a group. Took a shine to one special person… fast forward 8 years… we’ve been happily engaged for the past year. I never thought I’d be able to stop loving/communicating with XH (see, “25 year marriage”!) but I did! I chose myself and life. It was so worth it! You can do this! If you slip back, just hit the reset button. And go join your local Ymca today! Try every class they have. Do the outings. Volunteer at the front desk or in the daycare if you’re inclined. Get a certification and teach a class. You’ve got this!

        • My first venture for solely for myself was to attend a free yoga class, because my muscles were constantly spasming and I was a sleepless, tense wreck. That led to volunteering at the studio in exchange for free yoga classes, and for a time it became my community. The instructor had a surprise breakup shortly after I did, and she led the women in a very primal exercise of what I remember as “the woodchopper,” which was all of us squatting slightly, feet far apart, and moving as if we we bring an ax down on a huge stump. The most cathartic part was the huge “HUH” we each bellowed with every swing. The law office in the other half of the building may have even joined in for all I know, but they were probably surprised at the noise coming from next door. It was one of the most memorable events in my recovery of my self.

      • I want to add there’s a lot of loneliness in doing these things, too, at least in the beginning. There’s no getting around it when you’re rebuilding your life. It’s like the undiscovered country. If you can handle feeling lonely sometimes, or out of your element, you can accomplish anything.

        A few years ago, I’d networked my way out of waitressing and finally got my foot in the door of my current white collar industry, but my first few jobs were underpaid and rife with dead ends and abuse.

        Then I took a chance on a new job offer that required moving across the country. It was lonely as hell sometimes, but worth it. Four years later, I’ve been promoted 2X and have a strong group of local friends. That took time, patience, showing up to new things, and accepting I’d feel lonely a lot but that the loneliness would dissipate eventually.

        I was recently sipping coffee on my back deck and reflecting on how much I enjoy my life these days and how I haven’t felt lonely in a long time. Tuesday sneaks up on you, often in quiet moments.

        • OMG, so much this!

          This really is a time to focus on you. For real. Find a counselor to help you work through this. Do your hobbies, or explore new ones if you’ve let your interests drop. Start looking for a new job if the one you have is meh. Call your friends. Figure out what will make you less lonely (tip: It’s not him. He will not make you less lonely. He’ll just leave you with email hangovers and regret. Block that nonsense).

  • I get it. You are lonely. Your Sister is gone. He and his children are gone. You have lost so much and depend on those emails for an emotional connection.

    It’s not real. It’s an addiction. You must cut ColdTurkey on this one. Block him. Totally remove him. He’s dead. Have a funeral for him if you must. But he no longer lives in your world.

    Get a friend to email you each morning. Even just silly memes. Replace the daily correspondence with something else.

    Join our FB community. Make some on line friends. Go for a walk. But do not chat with him!

    • Lucky, I am always interested to see the moniker that others choose, as it says a lot about where they are in their recovery. I used to post as “ColdTurkey” (married to an archaeologist, spent months every summer trying to maintain consciousness in blistering Mediterranean heat), but as I progressed in my journey, I chose “EireneLux,” or “peace and light.”. Choosing a new name was very important to me, as it emphasized my focus on *me.

      • Sounds like you’ve spent time in Greece and/or Türkiye, eirene! I was trained as an archaeologist in those parts. Look me up in the Reddit group of you want to chat! ????

      • Yup, I was SO convinced that I was a unicorn !! When this website was brand new, I think I even posted a “well you all just dont know how to do it” post. Being forgiven for such foolishness is a treasure to me.

  • Oh no! This was a wake up call to me. My adult daughter agreed to watch her fathers dog, whom I basically raised for a year by myself when my ex left. She loves the dog, I love the dog, it turned out that I enjoyed having him here this weekend. But before he arrived I got angry at my daughter and sent an angry text to my exes cell AND work cell. I should have shrugged my shoulders and said whatever. It’s just a dog. My ex obviously knew this would tick me off because we are still having legal battles, even after the divorce.

  • Oh Cali. I’m so sorry you’re going through this pain. We all know that landscape well. But…it’s temporary. The way out of this hell is disciplined no contact cold turkey. Replace the urge to check and look with something healthier. Distract. You are trauma bonded to him. I get it. The farther away you get the easier it becomes. Make a list of things you want and need to do. The gift here is that you found out he’s not what you thought he was and now you are free. Now you take center stage, not mister lying cheaterpants. He will do it again. They always do. Just read what all of our village has experienced. It’s a playbook we know well. So well, in fact, that his future behavior is predicted on these pages. You will get better. It will feel better. Keep going. We are rooting for you and all the suffering souls who are forced to go though this shit show with these clowns. You can do this.

  • Yes, you had something together. That story is over though. He has regrets. Fine, he can handle his own regrets.

    My wonderful attorney had various sayings that I would record after I talked to him. One of them he related several times, “Only a fool would be friends with the person who burned down their house.”

    Sure, if forgiveness for you means letting go and going on, do it. But forgiveness doesn’t mean buddy-buddy. I can be polite without letting someone into my space, but there are people that I keep a mile away. My ex and his family are in that category.

    You can set up your email to automatically delete anything with his address. I keep mine open because we did some close-out items via email and periodically my ex still reappears with a bogus pro se threat (my attorney loved those), but my responses are all boring and business-like. It has been almost a year since the last one appeared, so he’s taking his whatever elsewhere.

    This guy is a wreck. Move on.

    • And only a fool would hook up with a person who burns down their own house, with their family inside.

      Thanks for sharing this, Elsie. I love those little sayings that keep my perspective in the right place!

      ❤️

      • My attorney was a gem. He retired the day after my divorce was final. The business relationship ended there, but he was the type that would be fun to hang out with socially. He had a truly crazy sense of humor, and one time during the divorce mess, we got to laughing so hard, we cried. His wife (40+ years) was the firm’s business manager. I wish them both well, of course.

  • The ex dumped me after 26 years for an ex gf. He never admitted the affair and I found emails. My father died only a few weeks before I was dumped. I was 59. Before I knew about the affair, I was desperate for him to come back. I danced around making a fool of myself. I say that because his behaviour leading up to my discard was sufficient justification on its own for me to have dumped him, even without the affair. He sucked up my dancing. He strutted and preened and smirked. He wouldn’t divorce me – wanted to wait 2 years with consent (UK). ExgfOW wanted him to start divorce proceedings on the grounds of my unreasonable behaviour immediately, so that they could ‘tell the world about their ‘love’ and get married (I saw the emails). I gave him what we both wanted. I did not want that lying, narcissistic cheat hanging round my neck like a milestone for any longer than necessary. Of course, he delayed and dragged his feet even though he wanted to be free, he said. He threw his toys out of the pram when I refused to deal with him other than through lawyers. There came a point when we were trying to get him to collect his hoarded rubbish, including his hundreds of books which we had dragged around on every move at vast removal expense and which he said he didn’t want once he had to take sole responsibility. He wanted to come to the house. What he wanted was to strut, preen, and bully me into disposing of his rubbish at my expense. I told my lawyer (I’m a lawyer too), that I never wanted to see his face again. My lawyer told his lawyer that I ‘never wanted to see your client’s face again under any circumstances whatsoever’. It was very final, like death. And I have never heard from him or his toxic family again. No kids made it easier.

    The thing is, part of me continued to hope that he would ‘fight for me’, that he would show that he cared. 26 years is a long time and I felt as if I was cutting off my nose to spite my face. But what that meant was that, in order to be in his amazing orbit, I had to settle for scraps. I had to continue to be available as a friend, with exgfOW keeping him on that leash, in a toxic, poisonous situation. The truth is that the friends thing only applies if you still have an emotional connection with the ex, a lying cheater. That emotional connection will harm the chump while the ex has a good laugh about his mightiness as a woman magnet (or man magnet). You cannot heal a wound that’s having poison washed into it daily. You keep the wound clean, eat well, sleep well, put good stuff on it, and it heals. Stick tetanus in a cut and you’ll get tetanus and die. Blocking the ex POS was hard and the best thing I did. My wound still gapes from time to time (it’s gaping today) but it’s closed for longer than it’s open and the healing happens much more quickly now. Good luck.

    • I should have made clear that I divorced him on the ground of his unreasonable behaviour, listed it all, everything that went on in the discard, including the financial dishonesty and an ‘emotional affair’ with another woman (no intention of naming her and giving her centrality or giving credence to the ‘depth of their true soulmate love’). He did not like that one little bit but he will have lied to people bored enough to listen about how I was lying – the nature of the despicable beast.

      • “he would have lied to people bored enough to listen.” Isn’t that the truth? If you do the 180 and ditch the scene abruptly, you’re robbing them of even the semblance of contact from which they could fabricate fresh stories about you in order to scandalize and titillate their flying monkeys. But without fresh drama fodder, they end up harping on the same old crap for years to the point others start tuning them out.

        And lies are boring past the first dramatic reading of them. Like badly written scripts or history told from overly patriotic bs perspectives, fabrications lack depth, depend on creaky binaries of exaggerated good and evil, are missing organic detail, etc. I never get bored listening to genuine survivors comb over their stories as a path to recovery because someone telling the truth will always discover new insights and have enriching revelations even though the story itself doesn’t change.

    • Ah, it’s a true sign of adulthood when we know in our bones that no one needs to “fight for” us. That’s not how love works. If someone has to “fight for us,” some terrible damage has already been done. And if we have to “fight for someone,” well, that’s just a militant version of the pick-me dance.

      We are worthy of love. We do not need to fight for it. We can fight for justice, for a clean environment, for a habitable planet, but we do not need to fight for love. When it’s there, it’s given freely.

    • “Before I knew about the affair, I was desperate for him to come back. I danced around making a fool of myself. I say that because his behaviour leading up to my discard was sufficient justification on its own for me to have dumped him, even without the affair. He sucked up my dancing. He strutted and preened and smirked. He wouldn’t divorce me – wanted to wait 2 years with consent (UK). ExgfOW wanted him to start divorce proceedings on the grounds of my unreasonable behaviour immediately, so that they could ‘tell the world about their ‘love’ and get married (I saw the emails). I gave him what we both wanted. I did not want that lying, narcissistic cheat hanging round my neck like a milestone for any longer than necessary. Of course, he delayed and dragged his feet even though he wanted to be free, he said. He threw his toys out of the pram when I refused to deal with him other than through lawyers. There came a point when we were trying to get him to collect his hoarded rubbish, including his hundreds of books which we had dragged around on every move at vast removal expense and which he said he didn’t want once he had to take sole responsibility. He wanted to come to the house. What he wanted was to strut, preen, and bully me into disposing of his rubbish at my expense. ”

      Wow. This sounds so familiar.

  • Dear Cali, I am so very sorry that this has happened to you.

    Question. How is your anger over all this? My anger is the motivation for Minimal Contact (I have a child with Traitor Ex so I can be total No Contact.)
    For me, it took a while for the shock to turn into absolute rage.

    Just Do It is how you do it. FEELINGS FOLLOW ACTIONS. Contact with them perpetuates the crazy and keeps the game going. When you engage with him, you’re giving him a big fat dose of what he is getting out of it, and you’re keeping the game going. No contact is like depriving a fire of oxygen, causing it to die out. It takes time for your feelings to catch up. Do the ACTION of No Contact and eventually your feelings will synch up.

    The worst thing you can do to a dog is WITHDRAW YOUR ATTENTION. Same with a triangulating cheater.

    • TYPO….

      “I have a child with Traitor Ex so I can be total No Contact”

      It should read

      “so I CAN’T be No Contact”

      I need my reading glasses…..

      • Cheater Haiku

        Redefine friend please
        Friends don’t hurt you on purpose
        You can get new friends

        He burned your house down
        With you inside unaware
        Let the fool have him

        A person who cheats
        Proves they don’t know what love is
        Wise ones heed warnings

    • Absolutely. I set myself No Contact challenges, and bought myself a reward for meeting them.

      Cali, a warning: you don’t have to tell him you’re going No Contact. This is usually an invitation to a sick fuck like your ex to try to reel you back in.

      Sometimes, secretly, this is what we want. But that’s not No Contact; that’s just cake by other means.

      You don’t owe him an explanation. Nothing says No Contact like complete silence.

  • Whenever I get sappy, sad or sorry for myself, then I know it’s time to reframe my situation. Instead of being Chumpy Sentimental, I need to pull out Chumpy Bad Ass! Chumpy Bad Ass doesn’t take disrespect. Chumpy Bad Ass doesn’t let others take advantage. Chumpy Bad Ass doesn’t live in the past. Chumpy BA is fearless, even when it’s scary. Chumpy BA moves forward, even when it’s uncertain. Chumpy BA sheds deadweight that holds them back. When Chumpy BA needs more Bad Ass she dresses & styles herself Bad Ass!
    Your ex is a loser, time to lose him. And Chumpy BA is right there to help you x

  • C in C – I. too, lost my home, extended family and beloved kitties when I left. I thought it would be a trial separation and we would both work on our marriage. Nope. I ended up going gray rock (minimal contact), filling for divorce and went no contact. That allowed me to keep my dignity and sanity. At this point, your ex is a bad habit that will fade if you intentionally replace the email/phone call with almost anything else. Make a list of 21 activities that are pleasant, healthy and/or productive. Do those instead. Repeat every 21 days.

  • “ 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 doubt ANY of this is true. He is a lying liar who lies. Stop giving him chances to put poison in your ear.

    Sounds like you were step-mother to his children? Are you sure of the timeline of how you met him in the first place? His adult children not speaking to you makes me think either he is telling lies about you, or that they see you as just another “wife” in their Dad’s chain of infidelities.

  • Anyone who cheats has no morals at all. They also don’t see other people as human. It doesn’t chance. I’ve never seen someone develop a conscience. Never. Cheaters are the serial killers of relationships. They don’t regret it, they are sick. It’s horrible to read of so much trauma and grief and I can’t understand how people can be so cruel and heatless to people who were loyal and honest either. It’s a scary thing and it’s plan evil. Unfortunately these people are black holes there is nothing good in there. Nothing. It’s just dark vast darkness and you have to keep away from them like your life depends on it because it does.

    • Half the cake, this reminded me of a strange memory of a time early in my marriage. I kept our infant’s laundry separate as most people do, and cautioned asshat not to put his dirty clothes in the baby’s basket and he actually said, “Well where does the human’s [laundry] go?” It took me a couple decades to realize that was exactly what he meant.

  • He’s staying in touch because, let’s face it, he married a flake. She has no problem with pursuing married men but please don’t swear. Spare me. Won’t even go into the religion part which is just a cover for her to act all high and mighty and because, well, she’s a flake. So from time to time your ex does not feel secure or happy in his marriage so he reaches out to you spouting regrets because he may need a back-up, a place to live when she dumps his stupid ass. I would be very tempted to take all his emails and forward them to the flaky skank and request she stop him from emailing you.

  • A very dear work buddy of mine had her husband leave with the right out of a movie secretary theme after 29 years of marriage and two daughters.
    She tried to kill herself twice afterwards overdosing and was actually a patient in our own ICU.
    After some eventual healing, she kept him in her life and he would visit her weekly on the premise of fixing something in the house they once shared together and continued to sleep with her for years married to the secretary he left with.
    She never got her own life, only his half chewed measly scraps.
    He had his cake served up exactly how he loved it best and my friend never moved on, just lived in his decrepit shadow.
    It was so sad to watch such a precious life being destroyed by a FW who cared about no one whatsoever on this earth.
    He finally died of skin cancer and my friend then blamed herself that if she were still married to him, she would have discovered the cancerous area and saved him.
    I hated how much he hurt her, it felt almost evil to me to do that to another.
    Block your loser completely, Cali. It’s the only way to get to a better life.
    Sure it is very painful, but not as painful as holding on.
    There’s a life out there waiting for you that is worth your journey towards. He will not change for someone else and you deserve so much more.

  • Gmail has a filter option. That’s what saved me through the 2-year harassment campaign.

    It really is our own responsibility to take care of ourselves. I know it’s hard because we trusted these folks and thought of ourselves as a “team” where each participant looks out for each other as well as themselves. BUT, this man has showed you, that is no longer the case. It’s hard to get your heart on board, which is why you come here and read the advice and the comments from hundreds.

    Good luck, you can do this. Shut that email communication down. Let him find someone else to entertain himself with.

  • Start accepting that you were married to someone that was not the man you thought he was. He probably never existed. Did you see any red flags before you married him? Why did his first marriage not work? I am not saying it was your fault. He fooled you. Please build a life without his interruptions. It is hard but there is nothing in this for you but more pain. Believe everything CL said! Do you want to be friends with a person who lies and cheats and either can’t make up his mind but enjoys keeping a hurt X in his Plan Z file? There is only more hurtache in this for you. SORRY/

  • My favorite part of ChumpLady’s wonderful reply to you, Callie, was “And probably [there are] others you don’t know about.” Yes!!!

    • No one gets that polished at blameshifting without having a lifetime of ill-deeds behind them. That ability to conduct an entire secret affair and only then backfill an entire marriage (that he stayed in for 18 years?) as “bad” is the mark of someone who’d been doing terrible things for a long, long time. Maybe it was years and years of cheating, maybe a combination of cheating and embezzling funds at work, maybe strangling canaries or grooming runaway minors but it had to have bad and consistent enough for someone to develop that particular mental trick of blaming the victim and rewriting history. Normal people don’t have the ability to do this and make themselves believe their own nonsense.

      • HOAC, exactly so. Whatever facts we may have about the cheater, the full depth and breadth of their evil-doing is always even worse than we know.
        This is a sobering and scary thought, and it haunts me. I think it always will to some extent. Exactly what sort of monster did I give my life to? I’ll never really know.

  • He’s like a teenager/very young adult that gets his first apartment, or left early to go room with a friend. These kidults call home regularly, stop by unannounced for a meal, need money to get through the week, and are still half-in/half-out of the family home. It takes them years to learn to survive in an adult world.

    He’s THAT kidult. Not mature enough intellectually, emotionally or spiritually to survive. You were his soft, safe place where you did the adulting, while he chose to remain trapped in his childish ways by his own failure to grow-up.

    This next partner he’s attached to is merely a launch-pad into further dependence on others to carry him through life.

    You’ve outgrown this manchild and the awakening is changing YOU. Cut him off completely; he’s an impediment to your growth progress and deserves not one whit of your time or interest.

  • “leaving is not enough. you must
    stay gone. train your heart
    like a dog. change the locks
    even on the house he’s never
    visited. you lucky, lucky girl…”

    This is the first few lines of a poem by Marty McConnell. I first saw it posted here, by a member of CN, and I painted the entire poem on a piece of reclaimed wood and hung it in my own “house he’s never visited.”
    I was a No Contact failure for 2-3 years after I dumped the Lying Cheating Loser, locked in this push-you-pull-me toxic dynamic where my worth was all tangled up in the occasional throwaway kibble he’d toss my way. Every chump has their own path to meh. Not all of us manage the block, no contact, resolute boundary all at once and forever after.
    That’s why the McConnell poem resonated with me – because I had to work so hard to stay gone. I had to train my heart like a dog.
    I’m 4.5 years out now. I’m NC. I’m (pretty much) at meh. My own healing journey continues, and I gain increased clarity, still, about character disordered people and the ways you break your own heart by trying to bond with them.
    To Crazy In Cali: keep taking the next right step. If you feel unable to handle cold turkey NC, begin by slowly going grey rock. Take longer before you respond to an email. Give a more brief response. Work on yourself. Journal. Allow yourself to ruminate, but for a limited time. Then consciously redirect your thoughts.
    You’re not failing or doing it wrong. You will get to meh in your own way and at your own pace. Trust yourself.

    • “I gain increased clarity, still, about character disordered people and the ways you break your own heart by trying to bond with them.”
      This is a perfect description of what we need to learn about and change as we gain a life.

    • There’s also something to be said for ghosting a shitty ex (if you can stomach it). It drives narcissists CRAZY and hurts them worse than anything else you could ever do.

      I know, I know, not very meh of me. This was years ago when I was cutting people off because I’d hit my limit. My intention wasn’t to stick it to anyone, but it’s funny that the malignant narcissist of the lot, the ex who’d spent years terrorizing me, took it the worst and freaked out … even though we hadn’t spoken in years and he’d since married someone else (poor girl). The end result of “staying friends” with a narc ex is they stuff you under a rock like a gator does with meat for later.

      Cali, some people deserve an Irish goodbye. I recommend it, if you can. It’s the ultimate power move and for me, was the defining moment in my new life. I still feel such confidence and pleasure when I think about it.

      Disordered people can’t give us closure, but you can nonetheless have the last word without saying anything at all.

  • Another thing to consider is how he is still continuing to use you and possibly your emails for his image management. He may be pointing to them and saying, “See? She keeps contacting me daily,” either to inflate his ego or justify a claim that your divorce was amicable and he’s not a cheat, you just grew apart. Or to make OW/wifetress uncertain and on her toes to please him.

    Or whatever. It doesn’t matter. Just like it doesn’t matter that a three-time or more cheater wore a blindingly white wedding dress. No matter what she wanted to believe, it told everyone in attendance that she’s a hypocrite.

    I was married 37 years to Fraudster, 40 by the time the divorce went through. I went No Contact right away, thanks to Tracy and Chump Nation. Although sometimes I miss the relationship I thought we had, it’s clear that every time he contacts me, it’s an attempt to use me for something he wants, and I exult when I don’t respond.

    By moving, you gave yourself a fresh start. You don’t have to be reminded of him every time you look around your home or set foot outside it because everything is new and untainted by memories of him, unless you let his emails and calls get through to you. Moving also gave you the wonderful status as a newcomer. It’s a great reason for putting yourself out there and seeking new friends. Get to know your neighbors and community. Find what makes you happy, and enjoy your new life.

    • Good call on him showing Owife the emails from Cali to keep her uncertain. However, I am sure he only shows particular emails, not the ones where he is reaching out and telling Cali how much he regrets what he’s done. Cali should print and copy all the emails and post them to Owife. If she has Owife’s personal email info that’s even better. It will get cheating ex to stop contact while throwing a bomb into the cheater’s home. It would be a twofer and Cali needs to stop all contact to get on with her life.

  • “Sister Skank!” I nearly spewed coffee.

    I think the key, as a couple of others have mentioned, is anger. You do get to be mad at how you’ve been treated. I’ve noticed that usually, the chumped are also the people who are slow to anger, quick to empathize. This is one of those times when empathy is not your friend — your empathy has been used against you, wittingly or otherwise, at great cost to you.

    You get to be angry enough to lock the door he shut. He left, but wants to make sure there’s a key under the mat. So click that deadbolt shut. Get out all your self-care, get on the couch and watch a movie. And if he knocks, turn up the volume. You can be about you for a while. You deserve it, and he doesn’t deserve your attention. A whole lot of cheaters, once this has happened, get angry themselves, in really ugly ways. Then you start seeing the real them.

    I started re-envisioning my ex as a desperate person. I mean, between the extreme anger episodes that still gin up around custody and which I now find bizarre. And I truly believe she is desperate — I just never saw it. What I thought was an ease in conversation with strangers? It’s a desperate attempt to fill the void with noise and external validation. What I thought was altruism? It’s a desperate attempt to receive thanks for how awesome she is, because she’s terrified she isn’t awesome. She was so desperate for validation that she had to shtup the plumber.

    These cheaters are someone else’s problem now. And those poor souls are next in line for a chumping when they aren’t supplying enough feels.

    • ????% this!! It’s one thing to extricate yourself physically from the FW, it’s another to cut all emotional ties. For that you need to channel your anger and say to yourself that you deserve better. He already fired you from the job of giving two shits about him.

      I get it. I was married for 35 years, and, at really weak moments, I slip into a brief reverie about how I wish I was still with FW. It’s natural to want what was comfortable and easy for decades….except, in my case, it actually wasn’t comfortable and easy. I spackled. And I need to review my list of “shitty things he did” to remind myself that I should be righteously angry.

      So, C in C, I recommend you make of list of the shitty things he did and reference it when you need to stiffen your spine. You deserve better. NC will free you.

  • There are so many people and communities who could use the attention of someone as loving as you are.

    Big Brothers and Sisters, Adult Literacy, your local church if that’s your thing, reading books to babies in the natal unit of your local hospital, volunteering at your local library…
    There are also many senior singles, my Grandmother met the love of her life at age 85. A lovely widower who’s family considered her one of their own and they visited her even after he passed away.

    Once you can drop the rope on this horrible user of a man, you can spend your energy finding people and communities that need and will love you. He isn’t your only option to not be alone. Sending all the love.

    • I’ll add that not being in a romantic relationship doesn’t mean that you won’t have love in your life. In many ways, I have more love in my life than ever. I have a loving dog, loving friends, and caring, healthy relationships with my grown kids. I love my job and do a lot of volunteer work. All is good here!

  • Cali, I hope you’ve read CL’s book, “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.” You’ve taken care of most of the “leave a cheater” part. You divorced and relocated. Now you need to go full NO CONTACT and that’s the end of that mess.

    But for lots of reasons, you haven’t really committed to the “gain a life” part. While you are holding on to contact with a REMARRIED EX-HUSBAND, you are not focusing on building a new life. I get it that you feel alone; the death of a sister you were caretaker for is a second huge blow to your sense of being emotionally connected to people you love. But now is the time to start rebuilding.

    1. I’d say find a therapist who can help you process the grief of your sister’s death, the cheating and the divorce. It may be enough to do online therapy for a while. Since COVID, my former in-person therapist does mostly FaceTime work and it’s not all that different. You just may have an easier time getting on someone’s schedule as therapists are not all that available right now. (Chumps, if you are looking to change careers, there’s a crying need for good therapists).
    2. What do you want your new life to look like? Where do you want to be in 5 years? What do you love in yourself and want to nurture? What do you want to seed and grow in your new life? Have you taken a look at your style to see if it reflects you as you are now and as you want to become? Is your home a sanctuary for you, no matter how humble? Is your work life satisfying? These are all questions intended to get you focused on the present and on building the future through the choices you make in the present.
    3. Find your tribe. It’s tough out there, more or less post-COVID. Things are still not back to normal. But there are still pet shelters, food banks, sports leagues, and courses to take. My own university has an adult learner component. For a few dollars, you can take interesting courses with other adults. If you have a dog, find the other dog people. If you like cooking, take a cooking class.

    Your goal is to spend 100% of your effort, time and attention on building your own life in the present, not looking back at some relationship that is roadkill.

  • My X is a covert narc. He loves triangulating people. Loves the kibbles. But he’s also a huge coward. As soon as I realized that I could trust nothing he said or did and started treating every interaction with suspicion, his behavior became incredibly transparent, and he realized he could no longer manipulate me. It was amazing how fast he disappeared from my life.

    • The ex used to test me on the very rare occasions when we met before I started divorce proceedings. He would say something, and ask me whether I believed him. With a sad sausage face: ‘you do believe me, don’t you?’. I said ‘yes, of course’ because I did not intend to help my enemy by telling a liar the truth. Much better for him to believe that I believed him while I proceeded with my lawyer on the basis that the ex was lying.

  • You are a GREAT plan B. If you take him back, you are verifying that his behavior has no consequences, which, of course, means that he will continue it. Maybe he will change it for the Bible-thumper, but I doubt it. I’m sure she would appreciate seeing some of the emails he sends you.

    Adulting IS hard, and FWs like things easy and focused on their dicks. Anything that requires actual adulting, and (gasp) delayed gratification just isn’t in their wheelhouse.

    My xFW, during all the horrific revelations of his double-life told me two things that made it clear he didn’t like adulting besides the obvious:
    1) His description of his weeklong f*kfest with the AP as “playing house”
    2) His description of them getting back together after a brief breakup when she “put him to bed” (and then went back to her own hotel).

    Yes, I was married to that.

  • It’s the trauma bond that you’re experiencing. What your ex is doing is typical; cheaters are black holes and nothing and no one can ever satisfy them. Channel the pain and anger into focusing on making the best life for yourself and reach out to a good therapist. .

    My pet died the month after fuckwit’s affair was exposed and my friend, who had ovarian cancer, passed away the following month. It was their loss that helped me realize that I wanted nothing to do with a heartless individual like FW or his deranged sloppy seconds anywhere near my life going forward.

    It gets better. What’s important is that you no longer allow him the ability to affect your present and future life.

  • dear cali,

    would you refinance a house with termites and a leaky basement? no. there’s structural damage. you’d move. this is the same for your X. he’s damaged at the foundation, so invest in a new house of your own, one that suits you and has space for the things you need.

    go no contact and you’ll soon discover yourself. you deserve better, cali.

    PS fuck that guy.

  • OMG – that verse from Ezekiel. Well done, Chump Lady! Well done! ????????????????????????

    Thanks for doing this topic today. Very timely; I really needed it. It’s weird how grieving works. You think you’re doing fine but then it’s almost too fine, like how the tide goes out reeeeaaalllyyy far before a tidal wave comes in for the kill.

    • Thank for this. Very well put, ActaNonVerba! Love the tide analogy.

      I can relate. I’m not sure if it’s seasonal depression or the recent death of x’s mom (I wrote to give my condolences, breaking NC), but I’m fighting off a tsunami of feelings these days. It’s weird and hard to understand because I know he sucks and abused me.

      I know I was thrown off my game when I read the x-MIL’s obit. It makes sense that I wouldn’t be in it, but it was weird to see x’s name along with that of his new wife. I didn’t even care for that woman–the bible thumper who exhorted me to forgive only weeks after D-Day–but there was something about my total erasure from that obit that just hit me.

      I didn’t attend the funeral, but two of my adult kids did. By design, they arrived late, sat in the back, sat through their dad’s eulogy (which must have been SO hard), and left before the recessional. In so doing, they avoided their dad entirely. I heard that he tried to chase them, but by then they were already gone. [Note: They’ve been NC since D-day, which was 3 years ago, almost to the day.]

      So that stirred up a load of crap for me. Waiting for the tide to go out again…

      • Spinach – I think our timelines are similar and I also feel the tides. It’s been gloomy for days here on the east coast as Hurricane Ian lingers. I saw a brief video of a woman sharing that she just says “NEXT” out loud to stop the rumination and I find it works. Grief, though, is complicated.

      • And the D-day anniversary, and the anniversary of his remarriage, etc. Be kind to yourself, Spinach. These are terrible, trying milestones. Or millstones. (Thanks, MightyWarrior!) Sending much love. ????????????

  • Cali: Interesting that you (only) mention that wifetress is on her third marriage. Sounds like FW is on (at least) three, also. He had kids with a first wife, and then you raised them…sounds like it was mess from the beginning.

    • TTAC, good point. No way was that the first time he cheated. He’s cheated in every relationship and he’s trying to set up Cali to be his mistress.
      I know just what’s coming next.

      FW; “I made a huge mistake. You’re the one for me, my one true love. I miss you so terribly. Can I see you tonight? Let’s keep it on the down low until I can find a way get free of her. She’s unstable and I’m afraid of what she might do. I know Jesus wants me to be with you. I see the truth now. It was the devil who brought me to her, and I fell into his trap.
      So, how does eight sound for dinner? I’ll bring the wine. Why don’t you wear the red dress you look so gorgeous in. See you then!????”

      These clowns are so predictable you can practically write their dialogue for them word for word.

      • That’s what my XFW said to me… I fell for it and the asked him to leave 5 days later. NC since June 15.

  • Leeches have a powerful anticoagulant in their saliva called hirudin that keeps the wound perpetually open so the leech can keep feeding. Separating from an abuser is like pulling off a massive blood sucking leech. You dread the moment of complete separation because you know you’re going to keep bleeding for a period after the thing is finally ripped away. But it’s only when the thing is pried loose, the poison washed away and the wound allowed to heal a bit that clouds clear and the real story starts to emerge that sets things in perspective.

    One thing that was familiar in Cali’s story is that when her FW pronounced his intent to move out, she automatically assumed it was because he was “tired.” It suggests that she may have been trained over a period of many years to view him as “overwhelmed,” and “exhausted” and “put upon”– in fact, victimized!– by obligations and also that she’d been trained to repeatedly forgive weird behavior because she was led to believe she had some fault in his put-upon state.

    Because abusers are pretty cookie-cutter and predictable in their tactics, I’ll hazard a guess that she feels paralyzed to the degree that her FW had, over years and years, subtly instilled a sense of “FOG” or “fear/obligation/guilt” in her. It’s a classic tact of abusers. Personally I was boiled like a frog for ages through FW’s daily displays of “FOG” gesture warfare that ranged from subtle and nearly undetectable to periodic fits and tantrums over his tragic lot in life. And tucked within his tragic rhapsodies were always a few hints that it was me who was causing his suffering.

    Abusers do this both to retroactively justify their bad past behavior and proactively pave the way for more. They’re the world’s biggest victims and they feel its their due. It was only after D-Day and during the wreckonsiliation period that it dawned on me that he’d kept me constantly off balance and mildly anxious because of these gestures and, in doing so, he managed to foster my dependence on his reassurances to relieve that anxiety. I’d formerly advocated for battered women but because FW’s fuckery came in “lite” form for most of the marriage, I failed to notice that it was the exact pattern that domestic batterers employ, aka the cycle of abuse: tension building, explosion, remorse/lovebombing. It’s also the same as the random reinforcement/punishment that creates “learned helplessness” in lab animals.

    For another animal analogy, the behavior also reminds me of a favorite cat I’d had since kittenhood. He was a charming, hilarious, smart doll-faced Persian so his quirk of occasionally going into “military mode” was forgivable. Sometimes he liked his belly petted but sometimes he’d bunch up on your hand like a bear trap with all four paws and half-bite you, then would immediately start grooming the hand he just feigned to bite. Bite/make it better, bite/make it better, bite/make it better. He was forgiven because he never left a mark and because he was a cat, not a human. When humans do this, they tend to leave infected wounds and it’s not forgivable.

    After D-Day, I became intolerant of even the subtlest little FOG displays from FW and realized that calling him on each and every one was like playing wack-a-mole. How had I not previously seen how relentless he was? I almost don’t regret the otherwise regrettable RIC thing because it gave me a chance to really study him and his “bite/make it better” tactics. Every FW is probably different in how they induce “FOG.” I started keeping lists. A few classic examples of things that took place day to day:

    –Wakes up in the morning with a sour expression, refuses to admit he’s in a mood. Gets hissy when questioned and then rhapsodizes about chronic lack of sleep in a dramatic, husky tone and asks if we can please get to sleep earlier (subtext: implies with his attitude that somehow it’s my fault even when he insisted that dinner be served at 9:30PM so he could prepare for a work meeting and then stayed up until two AM watching Netflix the night before).

    –While sitting at the kitchen table talking about something serious, he lurches away suddenly as if the stove were on fire but, in fact, was only retrieving a cup of coffee. Stubs his toe dramatically and spills coffee on the way back and makes a huge, hopping deal out of it, hissing curses and filling the room with a sense of dread (subtext: minor terror tactics as diversion to get out of having the discussion).

    — Driving back at 8PM from a very long and important doctor’s consultation for a child with a chronic condition, he gets hissy when I suggest we stop at the grocery store to pick up something that will be quick to cook because everyone’s starving. Him… Do we need to do this now, isn’t there anything at home, organic pork chops are so expensive and he’d been doing the accounting and we needed to tighten our belts because he can’t keep working at this pace without ending up having a stroke (subtext: competing with sick child whose care he neglected during an affair; decrying the credit card debt he created with his affair; blaming the “burden of having a family” in front of the kids for his potential tragic demise…).

    After D-Day, the high point of the FOG campaign was when FW “helpfully” gave me a book on the clinical importance of sleep. Every cheater seems to have main themes in their blame reversal and justification for mistreating their partner. In FW’s case, lacking anything else to blame me for, he’d sort of settled on this narrative that I was somehow the “enemy of sleep” and, er, uh, that’s what had driven him to become a fourth stage alcoholic within a few months, bang the office doorknob and blow the kids’ college funds on a drunken, spendy affair. The irony was too much for me. I’d suffered debilitating insomnia during and in the wake of the affair– literally years of Guantanamo level sleep deprivation. When he handed me the paperback, I turned into a hissing, spitting demon, tore the thing into tiny pieces and swore to make a paper mache sculpture of him fucking the AP with it on top of a bed made of money and the corpses of his family.

    The look on his face was priceless. I’d stolen his drama queen crown! But I’d never wanted to be in a drama queen death match. I’ve never been a crier or scene-maker. My idea of communicating hardship was simply telling people close to me in a neutral voice and in a neutral moment that such-and-such was going on and I’d appreciate support and that, out of empathy, people who care about you will quietly provide help out just as you would do in turn. Life provides enough drama and shock on its own without adding to it with exhausting displays.

    It started to become clear the FOG nonsense was daily behavior and he’d always done it in one form or another. All through the marriage he had shown an effort to “make up” for these spates of unsettling behavior but those apologies were always laced with more hints of his victim status, that he was doing these things because he was tired, overworked, overwhelmed, because the behavior was modeled to him in his (woeful) childhood, etc. Even his bits of “stoic” behavior had an undercurrent of long and solitary suffering beneath it and subtle resentment. So when his behavior got worse during the affair, my first thought had been that he was “exhausted, overwhelmed, cracking under pressure!” just as I’d been trained to think. The text threads from that period really illustrate the over-the-top rhapsodizing manipulation of constantly depicting himself as a victim of life. I’d been so acclimatized to the behavior that I had begun to feel automatically responsible for whatever was wrong with him. And during the affair, I waited for his typical “So sorry, I’ll make it up to you, my dad used to do this and I hate it, I understand and I’m determined to change this…” bs but the “groom/reassurance/lovebomb” became scarcer and scarcer and I was just left with the bite marks and growing infections. And then he began the DARVO “deny, attack, reverse victim/offender” tactics where he claimed to have always been miserable from all my complaining… from the guy who never stopped complaining and blaming.

    Going back to the leech analogy, I think we dread the moment of prying the thing loose because the leech who put the gaping wound there convinced us it was, in fact, a living tourniquet! They backfill reality and gaslight so much that we end up believing we must have always had an open wound of chronic anxiety and the helpful abuser was just there to staunch the bleeding! If the behavior is chronic, it’s easy to forget who bit first, who kept the injury open with daily fuckery or mood swings or odd behaviors or tantrums or just an eerie feeling something wasn’t right– whatever it took to keep us unsettled and dependent on the “make it better” reassurances. If a victim did happen to have a cause for anxiety that preceded the relationship, it can be even harder to determine the ways an abuser keeps “refreshing” that anxiety and disallows the healing that might have come with time. For others, abusers are the originators and perpetuators of destabilizing dread.

    In my experience, I think someone’s feeling of helpless dependency and paralysis following betrayal is a dead giveaway that they had been subjected to some sort of FOG campaign and cyclical abuse for a period leading up to betrayal. In the improbable case of marrying someone who was perfectly wonderful, loving, sane and balanced for years but who changed overnight and becomes a betrayer, I suspect the initial shock might be greater but the recovery much swifter. So I don’t believe the post-abuse paralysis is solely from the shock of betrayal itself but from years of undermining, sabotaging, etc.

    Because abusers are famous for having selective memories, for forgetting the disordered things they do and for creating elaborate narratives of why their victims deserved abuse, abusers’ conviction about the “truth” of these narratives can be spellbinding. It can take time to break the spell and start remembering how things really were, but those revelations aren’t going to come until the abuser is fully out of the picture. I think many abusers try to stick around and string along former victims in order to keep updating the spellbinding “program” and keep the victim drowning in the false narrative precisely because the abuser realizes that, in their absence, the truth will start seeping back in and they will be damned in the victim’s assessment.

    I can attest to how powerful that spellbinding is because even my past training to recognize cyclical abuse dynamics, captor bonding, learned helplessness and the rest weren’t enough to fully spare me the paralyzing effects. But I think it helped that those dynamics were in the back of my mind so that when I got out, I knew I’d have to start deprogramming. I did this by writing out the story of the relationship from beginning to end from my own perspective. The more I wrote, the more little forgotten details I’d recall. The final picture was absolutely damning and clear but it hadn’t seemed that way at the time.

    It was at that point that I allowed myself to mourn the past because I’d finally pieced together the story of the disaster. I think grieving can act as a kind of epilogue, a seal that’s put on an experience before storing it away and moving on. I didn’t want to put a seal on the narrative that I’d “lost the love of my life because he was a poor, sad, disordered sausage” because that was his bloody story, not mine. By the time I got to grieving, it was manageable because it was just over lost time, not over the loss of an abuser.

    • Great insight to dealing with a defective, cheating abuser. The constant blaming whether they are raged or apologizing, trying to make nice. So true. I hope Cali reads your comment.

      • It’s extraordinary how I didn’t clearly see the behavior for so many years. He was polished at it. One of his biggest tactics was stoically acting like he was on a hunger strike for an important cause if asked to do something he didn’t want to do. I figure his routine was forged over many generations of men who would drama-gesture and whine about fate in order to get women to scurry about and do things for them (I’m sure she-cheaters do something similar). But I stopped scurrying and stopped tHoUgHtfuLLy cOmMuNicAting after I discovered he’d been whining and crying to others about *me.*

        I’m neither proud nor ashamed of how I started mimicking him after D-Day or just telling him to eff off with his babyman antics. In the end I didn’t want too much practice in cruelty. I didn’t want to be like him.

        Lesson learned. Drama queens are invariably backstabbers.

    • They do each figure out their own way to assign blame.

      I spend years working in the community civics club of FW’s choice because he wanted to someday become mayor, during most of the time I was working part time (five hours a day, last three years full time) and still doing the volunteer work several nights a week, and also doing all, and I mean by golly all the house work. I wanted to hire a once a month house cleaner, but no money for that. It costs a lot of money to keep a whore on her back.

      However, I was not a spit shiner, never was never will be. Even so, I kept it decent and his clothes were always clean and ironed if needed (police uniforms). I also did all the yard work, and I even painted our house. Because he was just always so busy.

      He ignored me and our son when we told him for several years straight that we had termites, refused to call a professional, let the fucking house almost fall down before admitting it was termites. Thank God the damage was limited to one small wall and a portion of a support beam. Evidently that is the way termites work; in colonies and they together destroy one area before moving on to the next segment. They didn’t destroy the flooring, just those walls.

      He slapped up some new walls and a beam, but this was in the early part of the year of discard, so he did a sloppy job. It looked like shit. Unknown to me his plan was to dump me; let me take over the house payments (while also letting his mother live in the house that was paid for by a lean on the marital house) and he and whore would skip merrily away and start their amazing new life.

      Yeah, didn’t go down that way.

      Well I got side tracked, but his only complaint to me the day he left for good was (this house, while shaking his fat head) He was Implying I wasn’t a good enough house keeper for his majesty King FW. That was all he could come up with. I oft wondered if he used that reasoning with our friends. His friends were at our house a lot and they knew I was a decent house keeper and that I worked a lot.

      Oh and per my son and his wife I was Martha Stewart compared to whore.

    • O.M.G. What you have shared is a mirror of my life. I was raised in a family that was just like this. My mother was the long-suffering, martyr Chump. My father was the Narc/FW/FOG abuser.

      You have no idea how much healing has occurred for me just by reading the things that you have shared.

      Thank you.

  • Aww shucks! Why didn’t I know about Ezekiel 23:20 for the final fuck off for my days of standing up to the fuckwit. The Bible is full of snark.

  • This “cake eating” behavior by FWs reminds me of the monsters who largely abandon a pet or livestock – throwing the tiniest bit of nutrition to keep them from straying and (barely) alive. It’s not that they don’t understand, it’s that they don’t care.

  • Cali, my deepest sympathies for your loss, and I know how you feel. My mom died while I was in the midst of getting rid of the FW. It can derail you, because at such a time you need support.
    However, this guy is no supporter. He did the bare minimum to pretend he cares while negating it by insultingly looking at his watch. That’s despicable. He is friends with no human being, only with his dick, and he’s a crap friend even to Mr. Happy, cruelly sticking him in unclean places and making him be his excuse for stupid life decisions. Mr. Happy should go NC, too.

    I won’t reiterate what everyone has already said you need to do. You knew we would say block him and go NC, anyway. You just wanted a booster shot.
    I will suggest you are more choosy about friends in the future. At a minimum, they shouldn’t be the scum of the earth.

  • I think for some FWs, they try to maintain contact and be friends to assuage guilt. I don’t think they all do it for cake, although I’m sure many do. Just my personal situation with my ex-FW. Others will have different experiences. It all leads to the same place though….NO CONTACT. Whether it’s because of his guilt or cake or sadism or whatever, my ex-FW is not allowed to contact me for his personal use. The only way to stop being used is to stop all contact.

  • These NPD people need attention. They always have the main person for most of it and residuals, but they crave side dishes. Once you see them for what they are, you can’t unsee. The side dishes can be children, parents, siblings, friends, exes. It doesn’t really matter. Not all side dishes will be lovers. As they get older their circle shrinks. They get desperate. You are fair game to get attention from. I guess if you offer him to be a side dish fuck he might take you up on it. But he will be more than happy to just communicate with you, it’s attention from a person. They are not normal people, they don’t think like us. Once you see the way they are you can’t unsee

  • Cali,

    I’ve shared my story on CN before, but in short, ten years ago I escaped a cult. I ghosted hundreds of people I once considered family. Never spoke to any of them again.

    At the same time, I started realizing how many abusive or toxic people I had in other area of my life. Within the span of months, I cut off a ton of friends, relatives, and old classmates.

    I’m not kidding when I said I had to rebuild from scratch. I didn’t even have an income. I found a job waiting tables and did that for a few years while I pieced my life back together.

    A decade later, I’ve got a thriving career, good friends, and graduated trauma therapy last year. None of this would be possible if I hadn’t closed the door on the abusers in my past and gone firmly no contact. You can’t thrive when you keep ingesting poison.

    I know how hard it is to let go of a terrible person when it feels like you have nothing else left – but you actually do: the beginning of your new life. But you won’t get to see it until you let go of your ex. He’s an evil bastard who brings nothing good to your life. You will be so much happier when you block him and go no contact. He doesn’t even deserve a goodbye.

    • he is not u friend. you talking to him daily is him spying on u hes actually controlling you. u actually doing the pick me dance

  • Definition of friend – loyal, honest and trustworthy.
    Right now you need to stop being your own worst enemy.
    No contact is your only good path. Drop your hopium pipe.

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