Lately, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m everyone’s divorce fairy godmother. At least in my real life here. (I mean, I ask for it on the blog — it’s my schtick.)
Someone’s going through a divorce, or knows someone going through a divorce, and they think “Oh, I’ll call Tracy. She knows from divorce!” (Having had two of them. ) Lawyer referrals, agony aunt services, leave-the-dipshit-already pep talks — it’s my wheelhouse.
Nobody wants to talk to me about soil science. (I spent Friday listening to a 5-hour talk about soil science and the latest National Organic Program rules. Did you know that nitrogen uptake is weather-variable? It’s all about the moisture content, people. You can have the most fertile soil, but if you let it dry out, it’s worthless.) My husband says soil science is where the expression “dull as dirt” comes from.
I don’t know. I find dirt peaceful after cheater shit overload. Some days just give me the rhizosphere over “he’s a porn addict with a hooker habit.”
So anyway, both worlds collided the other day when a farm-y friend called me about her brother who is getting a divorce. Or thinks he’s getting a divorce. He’s not sure. His wife apparently is having an emotional affair that she’ll admit to, but spends weeks at a time in another state partying with her high school buddies. (This person is in her 40s, let’s take a moment to reflect on how pathetic that is.) We all know the drill. Everyone has thought for years that this wing nut was cheating on him, and awful as it is (especially for their kids), it was a bit of good news really that he might actually FINALLY be ending this toxic relationship.
Except he isn’t. My friend wanted the name of my old lawyer. To give to him, and then bludgeon him with it because Quote “he’s like a deer in the headlights,” Unquote.
The wife has told him she’s already filed on HIM (no evidence of it) and there’s a family farm at stake, and child custody, and it’s all a big clusterfuck and they’re Mennonite. You have to understand Mennonite culture doesn’t do confrontation, assertiveness, or divorce lawyers. You piss the collective off, they send people to come pray over you. You can imagine how effective that is when dealing with a sociopath. (The cheater is not a Mennonite. Just the chump. So he’s like extra-special chumpy, with a side serving of shoofly pie.)
My poor friend keeps trying to advise him and her sister, who is totally bad ass, is also trying to persuade the guy to ACT. Or REACT. Or just ANYTHING. And the guy just can’t seem to muster the smallest amount of self defense.
(My advice was, call the lawyer, make an appointment, and if he’s that passive, just tell him he has an appointment on Tuesday and you’re taking him there. Just boss him around. It’s what he’s used to. At least get him in the door.)
And it occurred to me that…. Jesus. I just went through this the other week with a relative, also stuck in the headlights, also too paralyzed to call a freaking lawyer.
And then my husband and I compared notes on this phenomenon and realized… of a bunch of chumps we know in real life, most of them STAY STUCK. Either, they’re still married to the fuckwit, or the fuckwit walks out, decimates their finances, and they don’t put up much of a fight. By the time they wake up, the idiot has left and taken everything, and they’re sputtering “but! but!”
Now, I’m an epic chump, and so is my husband. But on the plus column, we both lawyered up pretty early up after D-Day. I am GOBSMACKED how many people don’t see lawyers. Or leave it to the bitter, bitter end when a good lawyer could’ve helped you a lot sooner. Hell, even if I were to reconcile, I’d see a lawyer. You need to know your rights! What to expect! How much this will cost! What you are entitled to! What to consider (like say, a family farm)!
To just sit there paralyzed confounds me. Or not even read a book! Isn’t EVERYONE an Amazon chump? OMG, I had to know everything about infidelity and personality disorders, like it was an advanced degree and my boards were next week. My husband too — he got on online boards and Amazon-ed it too.
And yet, some people just don’t get that far. Look, I have sympathy. I’ve written what keeps you stuck with a cheater. And I totally understand the limbo paralysis when you have Naugahyde remorse and you think you’re really in reconciliation. You ride that unicorn carousel for awhile. I get it.
I’m talking about situations in which it’s clearly totally hopeless. You can’t even get a contact high from the hopium any more. The person has checked out for the affair partner, they’ve admitted they’re gay, they’ve destroyed you financially, they’re threatening to run with the kids to another state. I’m talking red light CRISIS. Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter.
Why the fuck don’t you ACT?!
So, who better to ask than a bunch of chumps. Can you relate? What got you Unstuck? Was it a bad ass sister driving down from another state to drag you by the ear to a lawyer? Was it some final indignity that pushed you over the edge? An epiphany?
Or are you among the trampled? The cheater just left, you watched it all like a bad dream and didn’t put up much of a fight. Could anyone have gotten through to you?
Any thoughts on this? Because if we don’t solve this, we’re going to have to go pray over a bunch of stuck chumps, Mennonite-style.