Here’s something I’ve learned painfully over the last couple of days — the lessons you take away when you leave a cheater (and gain a life) stay relevant. They translate into other aspects of your life — and woe to you if you lapse back into chumpdom — because the Universe is going to bitchslap you upside your head until you get it right this time.
To wit — trust that they suck. People who suck? They keep sucking. If you go no contact with a sucky person, and then get back into their orbit? Don’t expect different results. They’re still going to suck. In fact, they may have upped their suck game. They probably suck epically now. While you were gone, they were honing their suck skills, going to suck conferences, and blogging essential How To Suck pointers. Yes, chumps — THEY STILL SUCK.
I think a lot of us in chump recovery (I’m talking to myself here), think they can strike a Devil’s bargain. Well, I have to hold my nose around this person, I’m sussed, I get it — but maybe this time It Won’t Be So Bad. We can work something out. Maybe they’re really sorry about the way they behaved before, and really want to do me this favor. You know, let bygones be bygones…
I don’t know how to give you an abridged version of my current circumstance. Except to say, I’m traveling with my 16 year old son with a fractured arm strung out on painkillers. Had to cut the holiday short, come get him and fly home. The people who I entrusted with his care — I knew they sucked. I didn’t want them to suck. I don’t want to judge them too harshly (except I am, I’m mightily pissed), as an unexpected calamity happened on their watch — my son fell off a bike and broke his arm — and they got him to the ER. But I knew from former experience, that they sucked. And I let them do me this gracious favor of watching him when his father bailed, which I accepted in desperation.
When my son’s father bailed less than 24 hours before the visit, the choices were — leave a teenager home alone and cobble together care for him remotely, cancel a long-anticipated and fully paid for vacation, or accept the invitation. (The option my son was heavily lobbying for, and had finagled with his friend.) I didn’t like any of my options, but I went with accept the invitation.
Why didn’t I want to accept the invitation? Because I’ve fallen out with the couple. When I got less chumpy, I realized my relationship with these people was toxic and I ended it. Which was really difficult, as it was a long friendship. The dad is a cheater, and the mom is a unicorn chump of the I-like-my-SAH-lifestyle. When her DDay hit, I gave her the advice you read here. But she never called the lawyer (in a fault state). She had a little revenge affair instead, did the counseling, and told her husband how I’d advised her. Which didn’t endear me to him. (She neglected to mention her revenge fling to him as well.) Everything was Fine. Better now. Together for the children. Etc.
And I would’ve tiptoed around that, for the sake of our son’s friendship, until the day her husband wrote a letter of support for the court, for my crazy ex. Saying a boy needs a father, and he shouldn’t have less time. (I was lobbying to reduce summer visit to 4 weeks from 6 weeks.) Apparently he did it because Crazy ex showed up at their house with tears in his eyes, and a sob story of thwarted paternal love. Anyway, he did it.
People who had known me for over a decade and seen how this guy has sued me, and who have never let their son stay at his home (because he is a HOARDER), gave him a vote of confidence in court against me. Then the wife was all “He did it, it was dumb, but we can still be friends? Right?” And I was — don’t ever speak to me again. We’re not friends. The boys can be friends. We’re not friends.
And the boys still are friends. Collateral damage in the fuckupedness of adults and their messy lives. They see each other every time my son’s dad has him. Why? Because he’s been dumping him there for years. Every holiday. Easter. New Year’s. Thanksgiving. Most of them are spent there. It’s the family he knows. They’re the people he wants to see.
And frankly, it’s been a relief to me over the years, because I thought they at least care for him better than his own father. At least he’s fed, bathed, and entertained.
I didn’t go 100% no contact because of my son. I should NEVER have accepted that favor, however. Because people who do not have your back — don’t have your back.
If my son hadn’t been hurt, of course it would’ve been fine. I would’ve eaten the shit sandwich and been gracious about it. But my son was hurt, and when the chips were down, and things got difficult, the mother fell to pieces.
When I got the news, I was told it was a broken arm, he needs to rest, he can’t do anything, so better to get the cast next week and let him sit tight for a few days. I asked my son, can I get you home? And he was all no! And the mother was sending me “got it under control” texts on his care, making him broth, calling him an angel, saying he was feeling better and wanted to go to a movie.
Until she wasn’t. Until 24 hours after the accident, she calls at 10:30 at night, when I’m hundreds of miles away and shrieks at me that she can’t handle it, and I need to have him gone in the morning. ASAP. She’s done.
Where is my son’s father? A half mile away. Will she call him? No. “I don’t want him mad at me. I don’t want him to think I’m a bad mother.” I said “Bad mother?! This is the guy who won’t see his son! You care what HE thinks?” to which she said “If that’s true.”
If. That’s. True.
Well, we told his father — emailed, called, texted, then called his girlfriend in desperation. No response. From the first message, for a full day — no answer.
So I spent the whole night canceling the trip and paying nearly $2,000 in new flight and rebooking fees to get my kid out the next morning and us all on flights home.
When that’s done — his father calls back. Not to say “What’s wrong with son?” But to say to my husband, “Why is Tracy bugging my girlfriend?”
It gets worse. Next morning, the mother goes off on me again as I’m driving to the airport. “I don’t think he’s in any condition to fly” and how he could’ve stayed. As if I just imagined the whole melt down hours before. When she freaked out, it was how she was all alone, and now — oh, her husband is back from his business trip. It was like she was angry with me for doing EXACTLY what she wanted me to do — come rid her of this responsibility.
I lost it with her when she said: “You only care about the money this is costing you. If you were a mother, you’d care more about your son.”
Hey, Unicorn bitch, if you read this blog — and I doubt you do — PROJECT much? I’m not the SAHM who’s never held a full-time job in my entire adult life who stays with her cheating husband for the lifestyle. Good luck with that. Check for STDs.
Anyway. I got my kid. And when I picked him up (text from her: “I’ll leave his things in a pile.”), the father says to me — with a STRAIGHT FACE, like I was the mean mommy breaking up the party — “Oh, we were really hoping he could stay.”
What’s the point of this long tale of woe? TRUST THAT THEY SUCK. I knew that former friend was weak. Prone to meltdowns. Narcissistic. I should’ve worked from that knowledge base. I did not need to have her character demonstrated to me again. I put myself in that position — I put my SON in that position — and paid the price. People who are unreliable tend to STAY unreliable.
Same with son’s father. Why did I think that idiot would rise to the occasion? Because of a medical emergency? No. People who are checked out tend to STAY checked out. I need to manage my expectations of him accordingly.
But chumps, here’s the good news — the lessons you take away when you leave a cheater (and gain a life), that you keep applying to your life, pay big dividends.
I chose a wonderful partner — and at every step of the way he had my back. He never once sulked or complained. He field marshaled. We got the news of my son’s accident just as we were walking into a Red Sox game — his long-awaited 50th birthday present. He showed concern for my son, and he also appreciated the time we did get together. Even though it was cut short. He supported me — a person who is a lot less gracious and together than he is. I field marshaled too. But I also wept and cursed and essentially lost my shit. (You would too if you were on automated customer service with three different airlines.)
My cheater ex-husband would’ve sulked. Held the calamity against me. Made it about him. Not my husband. People who have good character DEMONSTRATE good character.
I’m so glad I know the difference now. Occasionally the Universe likes to remind me. Puts me back in remedial chumpdom. But I think I got it now. Hope so.