God, I really can’t stand all the moralistic gobbledygook that you must forgive a cheater. According to one blogger over at HuffPo, Vicki Larson, it is “essential.”
Essential, chumps! Otherwise you are doomed to the fiery pits of bitterness! You shall never move on and heal! Worse, you will never know the joyous satisfaction of friendly co-parenting!
You’re not friendly? Why not? Are you a victim of your victimhood? People like you are such a bummer. You’re destroying your children with your resentments, you know. Can’t you sit nicely next to the other woman at the Christmas concert and make polite chit chat… for the kids? Let them know that, hey, you’re a family and no hard feelings? Because if you cannot do that, well, frankly, I don’t think you’re very evolved.
After reading about the fiftieth such comment, I wanted to puke. Vicki Larson reminds me of one of those whinnying narcissistic playgroup mommies that make parenthood a competitive sport. “Oh, is Kate still drooling at 18 months? Bryson knows 327 vocabulary words and enjoys organ fugues. [sniff] Organ fugues are essential, you know.”
This is Healing From Infidelity as a Competitive Sport. “Oh, you haven’t reached the lofty plane of forgiveness? Well, it’s essential, you know.”
No it is not. Indifference is essential. I trust you’ll get there in time, chumps. Meanwhile, this is not an argument for setting fire to cheaters’ hair. Or alienating the children. Or setting incendiary devices off under the headquarters of doccool.com. We’re all about “meh” here at Chump Lady. You don’t have to forgive them — you have to realize that you’re better than them.
You’re a bad match with your cheater because you have different values. You want different things. You value honesty, commitment, and a healthy reciprocity in your relationships. You’re too cool to hang with someone so slavishly devoted to Adult Friend Finder. It’s embarrassing. Forgive them? No, don’t stand near them. They’ve got cheater cooties.
Thinking that your forgiveness matters to them is its own kind of narcissism — the fantasy that they’ll be so moved by this awesome gesture they will strive to become a Better Person. Nonsense. Forgiving my ex-husband would have no more effect on him than forgiving a septic tank. They’re both still full of shit. My forgiveness is irrelevant. Their essential being is unchanged.
Oh, but forgiveness is for myself. It will release me from all those angry feelings and resentments. Well, here’s the thing — when I think of how I was played, financially defrauded, how my child was hurt by my ex’s fucking around, hey, I have bad feelings! I think that’s pretty normal. They don’t paralyze me. They don’t get in the way of my life. I do draw on them to write Chump Lady each day with the hope that it helps others, but bottom line? They are shitty memories and to think of them causes me some pain.
And as for anger? That goes away when you see your cheater for who they really are — someone you don’t have anything in common with. Okay, bad choice. I’ve got to work on my picker, my issues, whatever. As my husband says “You may as well be angry at cats for killing birds.” This is who they are. They want to be better? Okay, this is who they were, or could be again. They destroyed the relationship with their cheating. I don’t need to forgive them to see their true nature. I need lucidity. If anything, if I allow myself to feel the warm, soft, copacetic blanket of “forgiveness” I may be blind to who the cheater really is, thinking my forgiveness has transformed them into a Better Person Who Respects Me For My Kindness.
I have every confidence that the chumps reading this blog will move on and succeed. You’re classy and above this crap. You aren’t pulling your children aside and whispering in their ear, “Mommy is a whore.” You’re not bogged down in victimhood or wasting your precious energies on revenge. And I hope you’re not beating yourself up over forgiveness. It’s totally overrated. Success, on the other hand, is where it’s at. Go be awesome. It is essential.