Psssst! I have a little secret to lay on you…. People are not interested in your messy divorce.
Okay, maybe your parents and closest friend. Certainly it sucks for your children. But the rest of humanity? I’m sorry. They do not care for the particulars.
I know how unjust this is, especially if you’ve been cheated on. It’s shattering. The horror of being played for a fool is enough to put anyone out of their right mind. But I’m telling you, chump-to-chump, maintain your dignity.
I’m not saying shut up. Please understand I want you to speak your truth. If anyone asks, sing like a bird. “I found 14 Craigslist hook-ups. We’re divorced.” Or “I didn’t like her boyfriend.” Or “The Ashley Madison accounts really didn’t jive with my idea of marriage.” By all means, speak up. It’s not your job to be your ex’s PR agency and polish their image. What they did was shameful and it’s not your shame to wear. It’s theirs. But there is a difference between matter-of-fact succinctness… and emotionally vomiting all over a stranger’s shoes.
What I’m saying is — don’t send a three-page, single-spaced narrative with footnotes and apocrypha to their employer. Don’t do a social media blast of their sexts. Don’t post the naughty bits you found on their secret cell phone on Facebook and tag their mothers.
Does that sound delicious? Did you just read that and think “OMG, I have to try that!”
Step away from the send button. You’re still wobbly. These feelings will pass.
Here’s three reasons why over-sharing the particulars of your messy break up is a bad idea.
1.) Lawyers. Any tangible communication can be used against you in court. Don’t give the crazies in your life ammunition, okay? You don’t want to face harassment charges. If there is an actual abuse of power that you should report, like your ex was having sex with a minor, or their therapist, or was abusing their authority in some nefarious way — you need to run all that past a lawyer. How you expose, how you confront — these things are best left to professionals. And in other less egregious cases, let your lawyer use evidence of infidelity as leverage in your divorce. (Yes, even in no fault divorce states, affair partners tend not to want to be deposed.) It doesn’t work very well as a threat if you’ve already informed everyone on Facebook. You also need to think through the ramifications — could your ex lose their job for a work place affair? Shouldn’t you get the support order in place before that happens? Lawyers think about these things dispassionately and strategically. You need that.
2.) It makes you look like a loon. The last thing you want to do is match the narrative your ex paints that you’re crazy. Even if they manufacture crazy like Henry Ford made automobiles, even if they’re a big slag heap of insanity — don’t take the bait. Don’t match their crazy with your crazy. I know you’re angry and grieving, but take a big step back. You can’t control this. You only get to control you, so be the sane person.
And remember, people aren’t interested in your cosmic injustice. I know it’s huge to you, but to the person reading your three-page, single-spaced narrative with footnotes and apocrypha — it just comes across as raw. And unbalanced. And they don’t really want to sort it out, so they’re going to make a quick decision about who to side with and it’s probably going to be the person who didn’t send them a three-page, single-spaced narrative with footnotes and apocrypha to read.
So really, if you have something to say — bullet points.
But better yet, keep it to yourself and maintain your dignity.
3.) It gives the bad guys centrality. This is the biggest reason not to alert the press — it gives the bad guys your precious mental real estate. Your life gets winnowed down to winning some stupid narrative. You know the truth. The people who matter to you know the truth. Everyone else? Who cares. Who cares if they think the sun shines from your ex’s butt? Who cares that she’s a fraud? I promise you, they’ll find out (painfully) in time.
Focus on you. Focus on your new life. Don’t look back at their drama. Fold the three-page, single-spaced narrative with footnotes and apocrypha and stick it in a drawer. Pull it out a couple years from now and have a good (if rueful) laugh. You’ll be so grateful that’s no longer your life. Trust me on this.