It’s been 6 months and I’m ready to tell my story.
In March of 2020, right when my city got locked-down for COVID, my husband’s (female) friend came crying to him that she needed help escaping an abusive relationship.
As a good person and supporter of women, I said she could stay with us for a few days. Because of COVID she was unable to work/earn money and therefore get an apartment. She quickly made herself at home taking over my household jobs and getting overly involved with my kids and my husband’s extended family: i.e., coming to our family Easter dinner.
I quickly started to feel unwanted and unsafe in my home. I expressed my concerns to him many times and he always had excuses of why she couldn’t be asked to leave. I endured a 4-month major depressive episode during which I wanted to end my own life for fear of being unneeded. I started on anti-depressants, but I was still suffering.
Over time I found out that he was sharing personal info about me and our family with her. She was openly disrespectful towards me. I asked him if he was cheating several times and he said no. Then, “Do you know how much it hurts that you don’t trust me”?
There was almost 2 years of this gaslighting, neglect and emotional abuse, until one night I decided to check his phone hoping to prove my suspicions wrong.
He had been cheating on me since 2 weeks after she moved in. In my room, with my two kids in the house, while I was at work (as a nurse during COVID times). The cheating was one thing. But the emotional torture is what hurts the most. That he could treat me like that when I was already hurting so much.
I’ve been on my own for the last 6 months. And I’m free and I am no longer small or unsafe. Even so, I’m still so hurt and angry sometimes.
P.S., I did see a lawyer, and am waiting out the one year of separation until we can be divorced. They’re still together in my former home.
Dear COVID Chump,
I get a lot of sad, fucked up letters, but this might be one of the worst stories I’ve ever read.
You’re a NURSE, on the frontlines of a pandemic, risking your life every day to help others, and your charity even extends to housing this whackadoodle “friend” of your husband’s — and they were fucking IN YOUR HOME, gaslighting you, for TWO YEARS?
And you’re wondering why you’re still “hurt and angry” sometimes?
I wonder why you’re not awaiting homicide charges.
I wonder why you didn’t grind up glass and anti-depressants and sprinkle it over ice cream and hand your husband a spoon. And if he hesitated, why you didn’t purr, “Do you know how much it hurts that you don’t trust me?”
THESE PEOPLE ARE MONSTERS.
CC, I just know the bare outlines of what you suffered and my prefrontal cortex is going all primal: VIOLATION!!! REVENGE!!! FURY!!!
And here you are composing a letter to me! Lawyered up. Sane. Still employed. Parenting.
Do you know how MIGHTY you are? That this didn’t BREAK you? That you’re still standing here FREE and “no longer small or unsafe”?
Because I think I’d be standing in a pool of blood. And I’m only experiencing secondhand outrage.
(Public service announcement: We’re not actually about revenge at CN. If It Feels Good, Don’t Do It. Your mind, however, is allowed to go to dark places. It inevitably will.)
What is it again that I’m supposed to help you with? Because I think we all need to take a lesson from you in forbearance.
Oh right. Hurt and anger.
CC, you were abused. It’s totally normal to feel hurt and angry. Devastated and furious. Bereft and engulfed in emotion. These are HUGE transgressions!
He had you suicidal with gaslighting! He let you go on medications! The level of contempt it takes, from BOTH of them, to do this to you. It’s absolutely sociopathic.
Look, I’m going to now segue into my predictable Chump Lady sermon about boundaries and Is This Relationship Acceptable To You, but first I want to say: You’re a good person. The most beautiful things about you probably also made you vulnerable to these fuckers, but never regret your good heart. You took in someone you thought was in need. You did not deserve, or could’ve predicted, what happened next.
That’s the thing about sociopaths, they subvert your best qualities — generosity, empathy, selflessness — for their own agenda. The thing to know going forward is that: A.) YOU MATTER. And B) You can still be good, but you have to be discerning. Good people do NOT impose like those freaks imposed. You are allowed boundaries and you’re always free to walk when those boundaries aren’t respected.
As a good person and supporter of women, I said she could stay with us for a few days.
Okay, and that turned into TWO YEARS. At any point you could chuck the consensus attempts, CC, and put it to him: This isn’t okay with me. She goes, or I go. (At which point I would’ve told you it’s over because you’re having to issue ultimatums.) You are not required to hang in there and finder greater depths of understanding. Where the fuck was HIS understanding that this was killing you?
He was sending you a very clear message with his actions. He was devaluing you. Paying attention to people’s actions over their words is a lesson to take forward.
She quickly made herself at home taking over my household jobs and getting overly involved with my kids and my husband’s extended family: i.e., coming to our family Easter dinner.
Ugh! I get a feeling she and your husband had an affair before she moved in. How convenient her “abusive” relationship ended and the only place on the planet she can seek shelter is with her married guy friend.
You were in a pick me dance you didn’t understand. And he’s a sick fuck to pull this Sister Wives cake act.
I quickly started to feel unwanted and unsafe in my home.
Because you WERE unwanted and unsafe.
I expressed my concerns to him many times and he always had excuses of why she couldn’t be asked to leave.
You could ask her to leave. Not everything requires consensus. You tried consensus, it failed, the next step was to ask yourself Is This Acceptable To Me? No? Then vote with your feet.
Making your needs smaller, trying to be yet MORE accommodating, isn’t sustainable. You wind up sick, exhausted and used. Good people DO NOT REQUIRE THIS OF YOU.
She couldn’t find a job? Bullshit. People have been desperate to hire during the pandemic. Is it a good job? It’s better than no job. Her imposition stinks to high heaven. None of that story adds up.
I endured a 4-month major depressive episode during which I wanted to end my own life for fear of being unneeded.
Let’s reframe this. You had a major depressive episode because you were being gaslighted. Because your husband was contemptuously fucking around on you in your OWN HOME.
Being needed isn’t being loved. Or respected. This confusion has kept many a chump hooked. Adult love is RECIPROCAL. Everyone adults! Everyone cares!
She was openly disrespectful towards me.
The cheating was one thing. But the emotional torture is what hurts the most. That he could treat me like that when I was already hurting so much.
You’ll never understand it because you’re not a monster. That’s good news, actually. Had you been able to understand these people — oh yeah, I’ll move in and fuck over my host for two years while driving her to suicidal despair — we would have to summon a war crimes tribunal or something. Who relates to this? Putin? You’re not a heartless despot who uses and abuses people. Yea.
Please stop trying to understand them (that’s Untangling the Skein) and just keep protecting yourself. You survived. You got away. That’s what matters.
Going forward your homework is: Being needed is not the same as being loved. Pay attention to actions over words. And — if it’s not acceptable to you? It’s not acceptable, period. You get to decide what’s next and you don’t need a fuckwit’s permission.
As for the hurt and anger — it fades. You never forget, especially if you bred with the freak, but it’s survivable. Look at you only 6 months out! CC, you’re navigating this nightmare admirably. Keep up the good work.