I’ve been divorced for over a year, but I’m still healing my chump heart. I’m relatively new to your blog, but I feel it is already giving me part of my life back. My ex-husband is a narcissistic cheater who married his affair partner. Both continually deny all wrong doing and love to blame me for the affair as well as everything else. In other words they are too awesome and I’m just the bitter loser who tried to get in the way of true love.
I also get told time and time again how fucked up I am for not accepting of my children’s stepmom a.k.a OW. I don’t interfere in their home, but I have requested she not go to my children’s school functions and stay away from me and my family. This to me is a reasonable boundary.
My ex is still verbally abusive to me. He wrote the man I’m dating a letter to convince him I’m a vindictive bitch he should dump. My boyfriend has never responded to the three emails he sent. He is angry with me that I did not give him 50% custody in our divorce. He knows I have PTSD and his wife triggers me. I’m in physical and emotional pain every time I’m around her. Yet he makes sure she interacts with me. I have requested repeatedly when I pick up our sons they not be walked to my car and yet she continues to do so just to trigger me.
They state there is a safety issue. The kids walk from the driveway to my car without crossing the street. My kids are 9 and 5 and they live in he suburbs. There is no safety issue, but they want to play victims. I’m sick of them purposely triggering me and the abusive emails. I can’t go completely no contact because we have kids together. My sons do love their dad and do like being with him. I’m afraid to do 50/50. I don’t want to be bullied to giving him to his demands and he has no respect for my boundaries now. Am I being selfish? I just think 50/50 would cause us to interact more and I can’t parent with a narcissistic child as it is. At the same time I want to do what’s best for my sons and not interfere with their relationship with their father. Any suggestions?
The court just ruled on this a year ago and awarded you physical custody. Do you know how many chumps would give their eyeteeth to get that ruling? Quit doubting yourself! You’re not selfish — you’re doing the best you can, you’re abiding by the court order and visitation, and that’s enough.
He doesn’t like it? Hey, well YOU didn’t like being cheated on, you don’t like him sending hate mail to your boyfriend, and you also don’t care for the Trigger Promenade down the sidewalk. Fuck his feelings.
Cynical Chump Lady thinks he doesn’t really want more time with his kids. (Kills the schmoopie vibe over there at the love shack.) He’d probably prefer to not have to pay you child support, and he’d like you to suffer. And the best way to accomplish that is triangulate through the kids and try bullying you into 50/50.
K-mom, this is about CONTROL. He would like to ensure that you never move on. He would like you to live in constant fear that he’s going to challenge the custody arrangement. He and the OW positively LOVE the centrality you give them, because it keeps the triangle alive. It makes you the Enemy and them the Poor, Star-Crossed Lovers Thwarted by Your Constant Unreasonableness.
So STOP giving this disordered piece of shit and his OW centrality. You don’t control what they think and how they feel. Let them find another hypotenuse to torture. I’m sure you’ve been pick me dancing for so long and trying to please the un-pleasable Mr. Cheaterpants that it feels like second nature, but listen to me, K-mom — and repeat after me — pleasing him is NOT YOUR JOB.
Ooh, he’s going to be angry! You must concede to his demands. NOT YOUR JOB.
Look, we’re chumps. We try to be reasonable. We CARE what other people think. When things go wrong, we question ourselves. We’re not afraid to self-reflect and reassess. And it is those very admirable qualities that disordered people exploit.
Chumps think, well maybe if I give them this, they’ll be satisfied! Maybe if I concede that, they will recognize the significance of my sacrifice and will oblige me in turn.
So, we kick that Charlie Brown football and are shocked! astonished! every time Lucy pulls the football away.
Newsflash — the game isn’t football. The game is Snatch the Football and Watch You Fall.
K-mom, there are no winning moves in the game your ex is playing. There is only ONE move — minimal contact.
He’s not your job anymore. (Hurray!) But let me tell you what your job IS:
1. Abide by the court order. Document EVERYTHING. “I will be dropping the kids off at 11 today in front of your house.” Even if you do this every single Wednesday, send an email. So if he EVER challenges you, you have a record of abiding by the order. That’s what courts like — documentation and shows of good faith that you are trying to obey the order.
2. STOP triggering. Yes, me, Chump Lady. I’m telling you to get over it. Is the OW a piece of shit? Yes she is. But she’s also a piece of shit who took a highly disordered person off your hands. You need to trust that he sucks. The corollary to Trust That He Sucks is — she didn’t win a prize. She “won” a highly disordered person who I guar-an-fucking-tee will make her life miserable. But the best way around that misery — disordered spackle, if you will — is to continue in the fantasy that SHE WON and you just can handle her happiness! So STOP playing into their fantasy by performing your recurring role as Embittered First Wife Who Can’t Get Over It.
She comes around? She walks down the sidewalk with your kids? She waggles her fat behind in your face? Your response is MEH. Indifference. Whatevers.
Fake it ’til you make it, K-Mom. But seriously STOP giving them kibbles. Give up the sidewalk fight.
Talk to your lawyer, but you may have to give up the school event fight too. Because the court is all about the best interests of the children. And the appearance of coordinating on homework, school life, etc. is probably essential. My best guess is once you concede this ground and go “meh”, she’ll get over the novelty of Back to School Night. I have a teenager, K-mom, if I never go to another open house or 4-hour 8th grade choral concert, I won’t dissolve into a puddle of disappointment. And you won’t either.
But if you concede that means they WON!
Oh no. They each won the turdish loveliness of the other. Remember, keep removing yourself from the triangle. YOU DON’T CARE.
3. Don’t let him fuck with your boyfriend. Three letters? This is harassment. You have your lawyer send him a letter as a warning that any further communication will result in criminal harassment charges. You cc the local police department.
I’m sorry you’re dealing with that, but again, it’s about control. My cheating ex did something very similar (but did it “anonymously.”) Character assassination is what these freaks do. He’s trying to punish you for moving on.
Your response to that should be a renewed vigor to move on. And put the heavy boot of the law on his neck if he tries to prevent you.
Look K-mom, escaping one of these freaks is traumatic, but I want you to take a deep breath and realize — YOU ARE FREE of him. Take back your power! You got a ruling and you have the kids! You have a new life and a new boyfriend!
He’s just an idiot who can’t handle it. And she’s just a fuckwit who wants you to want what she has. (An idiot.)
Too bad. So sad. Walk that down the sidewalk and shove it, cheaters.
*Illustration today is by Charles Schultz.