Dear Chump Lady,
I’ve written enough about my story, so you know my ex is a cheater, narcissist, nut job and creep of the highest order. I know this as well. And yet…. I still struggle with something I’m sure some other chumps also are trying to overcome. Or maybe it’s just me.
Even though my ex is a cheating, lying loser who has nothing going for him….. I still find I compare my life to his. And then I come up short in my comparison. Somehow, his years of gaslighting, brainwashing and abuse left me believing he really IS more interesting, more fun, more lovable and more capable than I am. I tell myself that although he IS more sparkly than me, that does not mean he is a better person than me. Yet I still feel like any success he has (not that he’s had any) means that I am a loser in comparison.
He’s spent the past three years basically on vacation. No job, no bills (he declared bankruptcy), no actual home (he’s been living with various people who don’t charge him rent), not paying full child support. Following his “dreams.” Meanwhile, I’ve started a new career as a freelance writer, raised our son, maintained a home, dealt with financial struggles and life in general. On paper, I see that I am the one who is a success, not him.
I don’t know why I still feel like he is “more” than I am, just because he is having a fun, sparkly time. Although intellectually I know he is a horrible person no matter what he does, it seems like my heart hangs onto the idea of him as the “winner” in all this, and me as the loser.
How is it that these cake-eaters manage to get inside our heads and leave us feeling “less than”? Most importantly, how do we get them OUT?
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” This one is on you. And that’s good news, because you can fix this. It isn’t anything your creeptacular, loser ex has done lately. We can point to the years of mindfuckery — okay, you drank deep of the crazy Koolaid — but this is a problem with your perception. You just need a great, big reality check.
I saw this guy’s videos, as I’m sure other regular readers of the blog have as well. Obviously, I’m not a professional, but my impression is that the guy is seriously mentally ill — not charming. If he “sparkles” he does so with extreme creepiness. I’m not just saying that because I think your ex is a baddie and I want to be sympatico with you, like, “yeah he sucks!” I’m saying — he’s really off. Like tinfoil hat off. He reminds me of my bipolar cousin who went through a manic phase and made youtube videos about his Christina Acquilera obsession and foot fetishes while drawing crazy portraits, like a psychotic Bob Ross. THAT kind of crazy.
This is just a hunch, Glad, but I think your world is too small if he still impresses you as sparkly, so my advice to you would be — expand your world. Freelance writing is isolating (I should know, I’ve done it for years) — and it’s not the steadiest of incomes. I’d look at finding a full-time job where you can be a part of a larger community. I think it’s totally awesome that you’ve transitioned away from stay-at-home motherhood — but your ex cannot be relied upon for income. (Or anything else, by the sounds of it). So reach for the greater independence that will come with a full-time, out of the house gig.
I think we tend to compare and get jealous of people who have something we want, or that we think we’re lacking. You perceive your ex to be “interesting” and “lovable” (two qualities he demonstrably is NOT) — why not work on your own interesting and lovable qualities? Be a better friend, be more social, take a class, get out more often, take a fashion risk. Do the things you think awesomely interesting and lovable people do. (Which does not include dressing as a giant Sasquatch and singing show tunes. That’s the Wrong Kind of Interesting.)
You can’t truly believe he is both a nut job creep AND “more than” you. I don’t think you really believe YET (you’ll get there) that he’s a narcissist nut job creep. I think, at some level, you still want to believe he’s a successful sparkly guy.
Why? Because then it wouldn’t make your 20 year investment feel so stupid. OMG, she realizes in horror, I’ve devoted my life to a narcissist nut job creep! Well, join the club, Glad. We’ve all been there to one degree or the other. If you hold on to the idea that, hey, well he was SPARKLY, then we can understand the attraction. I saw the videos. I don’t understand the attraction. I’m not judging you, if you saw my ex’s, you’d want to hit me with the clue bat too.
So, when you fully embrace that’s he’s a crazy loser — there is nothing here to miss. Nothing to compare your life with. I can see how you’d envy, at some level, his utter lack of responsibility, his “care free” life, because you’re saddled with full-time child care and having to work after years of being out of the work force. But Glad — this new independence is a GIFT. Yes, you are the responsible one, and yeah, that’s a drag sometimes. You could use more margin to your life, I’m sure. But your ex is not tripping the light fandango — he’s an unemployed weirdo sleeping on sofas. He’s one overburdened “friend” away from homelessness.
At the end of the day, it’s useless to compare our lives to others, whether that is a crazy ex, or some celebrity’s. Some chumps here were left by people who — on paper anyway — appear to be All That. They look good, they earn good money, they’re beloved community members. They can’t point to a Sasquatch video and say the person is a loon. Should they feel less than? No, of course not. Who another person is IS NO REFLECTION ON YOU.
Especially an ex — what he does, or does not do, has NO relevance to your life anymore. If you were with a narcissist, you’re used to the narcissist assuming you are an extension of them. You’re not. You never were. And now you’re free to chuck that stupid role.
I’m not trying to minimize what years of emotional abuse can do to your self esteem. But what you need to realize is — it’s OVER. This shit is FINITE. You stuck around and endured it for so many years, and now you don’t have to waste one more second of your life on that nonsense. It is your choice how much of your mental real estate you’re going to give to your ex. How much power you’re going to hand to him concerning your value.
And it’s also your choice to stay locked in some eternal competition — i.e., he’s the “winner” and you’re the “loser.” No, you’re just you, living your life. And he’s him (a freak) who is now peripheral to your existence. This is the first boundary you must enforce — where you begin and where he ends.