I have worked really hard as seeing the STBX for what he really is. Gave up with the ego kibbles, stopped playing pick me, worked on myself, went to therapy, made new friends and hobbies. But I just can’t get to “meh.” I am constantly angry and hating him for cheating for leaving me and for all the underhanded things he did and said. And while I do enjoy many things in this new period of my life, I experience crushing sadness when I seriously don’t think I can stand another minute.
It has been 18 months since Dday, over a year since he moved out after a false reconciliation, and I still can’t seem to be meh. What else do I have to do to be okay with the shit storm that ravaged my life?
Accept shit storms.
I know that sounded really flippant, but have you heard the expression — if it rains, let it? Part of getting to “meh” is accepting the injustice. That shit storms happen. That you suffer. That it isn’t fair. But still you get up, rebuild (while STBX is probably swanning about with soulmate #137…), and live your life without the benefit of a karmic reckoning.
I don’t know who schedules the karmic reckonings, but they seem to have a sixth sense where “meh” is concerned. Just when you really don’t give a shit, is about the time that tree falls on the cheater’s house or they die of clap. The karmic scheduler is really perverse, because when you badly wish for some Old Testament justice, some hot coals to fall on their head, a plague of locust… anything! — nothing happens.
Let me put this another way — to get at “meh” you must first eat the shit sandwich of injustice.
I’ll give you an example. My son’s dad (who is mentally ill) has sued me multiple times over the last decade. For custody, several times. Because I put my son in a Waldorf school (and paid for it myself). Because I moved across the river from Va. to DC. once. Because I moved 2 hours away later. If there was an opening to litigate or harass me legally, he took it. Usually, he represented himself — and I paid TENS of THOUSANDS of dollars to my lawyer to fight this shit. All told — probably close to 100K over 10 years.
And no, I’m not rich. And yes, he did this while owing me thousands in back child support. It pretty much ate through an inheritance and my home equity. And while I’ve been very blessed in my life (everything is fine now) — when I was a single mother earning peanuts, the stress of this was never ending.
Is it galling to consider how my life would be different if he didn’t sue me? If I had an extra $100K to have spent on my son and myself? YES. If I didn’t live with the yearly nightmare of a mentally ill person trying to take my son from me? YES. Some how, I don’t wish that man dead. I don’t want to dance on his grave or spit in his eye. I just count down the couple remaining years until I am done with legally having to interact with him. I honestly feel “meh” about him. I don’t hate him. I don’t care what he’s up to (insofar as it doesn’t harm my son). I wouldn’t care pro or con if he got run over by a bus tomorrow. He’s a nonentity.
And the injustice — and a litany of other shitty unforgivables I won’t bore you with — is just part of my history. It happened. I did my best to get through it. And eventually, I triumphed over it — and you will too. I built a better life.
So how do you eat the shit sandwich of injustice?
Well, I found a few things helped. First, validation. It helps a lot for people — a therapist, a friend, someone on a board here like CL — to say “Wow. That sucks. I’m sorry that happened to you. You didn’t deserve that.” It helps a whole lot to hear people call injustice unjust. To not spackle or spin, or tell you to stop being bitter or angry, or feign “neutrality” — but to clearly call out that this is SHIT. And it’s unfair.
When that happens, a weird thing happens — you start to let go. Some people think that hearing that a situation is unjust will keep them locked in an “angry” place about it. (I get this criticism about Chump Lady all the time…) I have found the opposite is true. Feeling heard allows me to be quiet. Otherwise, I get locked in a dispute with people who want to minimize the shit sandwich. I feel defensive — no this really happened! And it was dreadful! But when good people hear you? Preferably people who have lived the same thing? The validation helps you let go and get to “meh.”
Next, to eat the shit sandwich of injustice, you have to do some spiritual work. I read about Buddhists’ views on suffering — life is suffering and no one is immune. When you think of the democracy of suffering and consider another person’s suffering, someone you would never trade with (a dying child for instance), it helps put things in perspective.
This isn’t minimizing it. When you’re trying to be validated nothing is less helpful than someone saying smugly, “Oh, it could be worse. You could be a starving orphan in China.” Oh gee thanks… That’s why this is work you do yourself. Come up with your own examples. Look around. Read the paper, get outside your own head. The world is full of examples of people who suffer unjustly. Count some lucky stars. Doing that helps you practice gratitude.
Gratitude in turn, lifts your mood and makes you, well… nicer to be around. (I’m sorry. Your mother was right.) Which takes me to my third suggestion. Fight like hell to be the person you want to be. There are many days in which your mental state is going to be a battle. You will have to will yourself to get through this. To accept these injustices. To go forward anyway. I often say be kind to yourself — yes — but the truth is there are many more days when you have to kick yourself in the ass and force it. Today I won’t dwell. Today will not NOT look at his Facebook page. Today I will NOT call her.
Part of that battle is not doing certain things (dwelling, staying in contact, pining) and the other part of the battle is having a vision of yourself as a resilient person who is going to Rise Above this shit. You want a new life, and you want to attract good people to that new life — and what’s attractive? An angry person? Or a positive, thankful, engaged person? Who would YOU rather be around? So be positive. It’s in your best interest.
Pearl, it’s early days for you. This will swirl in your head for awhile, but you’ll find in time (dreaded time) he will take up less and less of your mental real estate. You will never forget the injustice. (I don’t think Nelson Mandela has forgotten the 27 years he spent breaking rocks on Robbin Island before he won the Nobel Peace Prize.) But it’s not the only narrative. You’ve got other stories to write.
Meh will come when that new story takes more of your interest than that old story.