You thought I was going to say “bitch”? Oh, I’m sure that’s out there too. One thing that’s been a constant since Chump Lady has gotten a wider circulation on Huffington Post is that I’m called “bitter” a lot. And not just the obvious wing nuts, a fellow blogger I follow patronizingly used the “B” world on me recently too.
Bitter is a one-size-fits-all pejorative that says: shut the fuck up.
Did you call bullshit on that non-apology apology? You must be bitter!
Are you not going to eat this magnificent shit sandwich I have laid before you? You must be bitter!
Do you not want to stay friends for the children? You must be bitter!
Because Jesus, you don’t want to be a bummer, do you? One of those people who just Can’t Let Go, who drapes themselves over the furniture at social gatherings and wails and renders garments? That person is such a buzz kill. And the trail of snotty tissues and self-help books… it’s just embarrassing.
Uh no. I’m not like that person at all.
Really? It’s just that when you write about infidelity, gosh, you seem so… angry.
I’m flummoxed by this. Is cheating not supposed to make you angry? When confronted with gas lighting, and blameshifting, and betrayal — are you supposed to hug the cheater like a warm puppy? (Pat, pat, pat… ooh, hey, I have tasty kibble in my pocket here for you!)
Or is the point that when writing about infidelity, you must maintain the myth that everyone is at fault here? Mistakes were made. We each have flaws and it is unfortunate that one party sought comfort for the needs that weren’t being met in the marriage, but let’s not cast blame. We’ve learned from this. Cheaters cheat, but they’re not Bad People, they just did a Bad Thing. It’s nothing to get huffy and puritanical about. Let’s invite them over for our next Superbowl party and sit on the sofa together! You, your OW, me, my boyfriend and let’s impress everyone with our progressive, forgiving nature and five-layer bean dip!
Okay, I’m not that person. But I’m not a bitter person. The very last thing I want for the chumps who read Chump Lady to come away with is that they should be bitter about what happened to them. You can be pissed, of course. You don’t have to forgive. But the whole point of this blog is to point people towards a chump-free existence — a happier life with healthier relationships. And you cannot do that if you give your ex a lot of mental real estate. You want to feel “meh!” about the ex.
Bitter people exist. I’m not doubting it. In fact, my first ex-husband is probably the walking embodiment of the bitter, ex-spouse who cannot let go. (He’s a hoarder, so apparently he cannot let go of a lot of things, including moldy tennis balls, so I don’t consider myself special or anything.) Bitter is representing yourself in pro se lawsuits against your ex. Bitter is being oppositional and defiant about every last thing because you can. Bitter is obsessiveness and stalking.
So — for the record — don’t be bitter!
But don’t be delusional either. The only way I found to get to the blissful state of “meh” was to realize exactly what sort of disordered freak my cheating ex is. Limbo, being unclear on who he truly was, kept me in a painful state. But once I could look at him and situation objectively and say — “toxic” — I was able to break away from it. There was nothing to miss.
People often mistake this avoidance of the toxic person as”bitterness.” No — bitterness is wanting to get all up in their business. However, recognizing them as toxic means getting the fuck away from them and going no contact. People also mistake the righteous anger at acts of injustice as bitterness. No — it’s normal to be angry at people who do hurtful things. Calling people out on manipulation and bullshit does not make you bitter — it means you’re not a chump any more.
Now, I make a hobby out of calling cheaters out on manipulation and bullshit, so there is an occupational hazard of being called “bitter” once in awhile. I can live with it. But don’t you fall for it, okay?