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Dear Chump Lady, How do I deal with cheating ex at my daughter’s graduation?

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there-is-nothing-more-satisfying-than-seeing-your-ex-looking-like-crap-with-that-ugly-dude-she-always-talked-crap-about-84ef8Dear Chump Lady,

This coming Saturday, the 14th of May, my daughter is graduating from college. She’s worked hard, and deserves a good day, and I will strive my best to do so. However, the cheating ex wife will be there, of course. And even though it’s well over two years since the divorce and I have moved on, this is the first “social” occasion I will have had to deal with her for the sake of my children.

My daughter informs me that her and her mother have purchased some food for after the first graduation ceremony (like most colleges, there’s a large ceremony at the stadium, followed by a later, smaller ceremony in a hall for her specific college).

On the one hand, I’m looking forward to celebrating with my daughter, on the other hand I dread the thought of being in the same zip code, let alone the same room, with the cheating ex. As you would expect, I’ve had a thousand thoughts, read dozens of sites, and I’m no closer to understanding what is really the right action in this circumstance.

I want to give no signal that I’m okay with my ex, that I do want her to keep her distance, but at the same time, do not wish to burden my kids with “the past.” It is the past, but it’s also the continued crap I’ll have to deal with for the sake of my kids. I guess what I’m after is a strategy. Keep my mouth shut? Walk away from conversation? Simply find a way to be distant? Keep to myself with my girlfriend and her son?

You often say, “We ACT our values.” I love and respect my children, and I’m proud of my daughter (she’s not just getting a degree, it’s an incredibly difficult degree and in the sciences to boot). However, I’m not willing to be a pawn for the horrid ex to prove to the world everything is okay. So I’m pretty sure posing for pictures with the ex and my daughter is out of bounds for me. But I’d like to know what general guidelines you would encourage me and other in similar situations to follow?

What’s your advice? What’s the proper etiquette in these situations?

Scott

Dear Scott,

It’s a college graduation, not a referendum on infidelity. You treat your ex like the stranger that she is. A stranger you don’t find terribly interesting or have anything in common with. That’s the truth of it.

I know there is more truth — that she fucked you over in the most intimate and horrible of ways. You have every right to not want to be in the same zip code with her ever again. But when you breed with a fuckwit there are a few high occasions in which you have to show up together and deal — weddings and graduations. I’m sorry, this is one of those suck it up events.

A brief aside on the co-existing with the ex issue — I said HIGH OCCASIONS. You do NOT have to conspiciously consciously uncouple for children’s birthdays, Aunt Hazel’s hip surgery, or 8th grade choral concerts. I’ll leave it to you to determine the hierarchy of your occasions, but my point is these are RARE occasions. Especially after your children are grown.

You’re a loving father who would take a bullet for his daughter. Consider the ex your bullet. Make this day about your daughter and her accomplishments. Take the bullet.

You still think of your ex as a bullet?! That’s not very meh! That’s not very moved on! I think you’re bitter and scorned! 

Look, I consider myself very meh. I would still rather pluck out my own spleen with salad tongs than be trapped in a small room with either ex.

Would I do it for my son though? Yes.

Strategies? Here’s a few.

1.) You’re entitled to some boundaries. You don’t want to take a picture with the ex? Politely defer. Offer to take the pictures. Excuse yourself and run to the bathroom. Smile and say how horribly unphotogenic you are. I’m sure other chumps can weigh in on this one. I don’t know how close you are to your daughter, but I’d probably warn her ahead of time so there are no awkward surprises. I have a dear friend who is a wedding photographer and the “don’t photograph mom and dad together” request comes up all the time.

2.) You’re having an AWESOME day. Fake it until you make it, Scott. While you’re enforcing those boundaries of no pictures together or we’re best buddies! small talk, you are super duper pleasant. Watch some youtube videos on how to endure cocktail parties. Channel the most vapid part of your soul. Discuss the weather, compliment the canapés, feign interest in floral arrangements.

I promise you, your cheating ex is far more unnerved by your presence and that of your girlfriend than you are of her. Just be cool and above it, because hey — you ARE cool — you did nothing wrong — and you ARE above it — your life is better for having dumped a cheater.

3.) Divert, distract, digress. About those cocktail parties — ever been saddled with someone really dull to talk with? If you’re a chump, you sit there dutifully listening to some windbag natter on about metallurgy or WTFever. If you’re a person with boundaries, you politely listen for a bit, suss pretty quickly that this is a monologue in search of an audience, and politely excuse yourself. I want you to be a person with boundaries. If your ex has the nerve to approach you and act like you’re BEST FRIENDS, you let her natter on for a few moments, smile the smile you reserve for the afflicted, and divert, distract, or digress.

Divert — “Oh look, there’s Bob! Haven’t seen him in ages!” Distract — “Hey, look! They just set out the brownies!” Digress — “Metallurgy is an absolutely fascinating topic. Excuse me, I’m off to go get a drink.”

Keep it light, Scott. Shower praise and warm fuzzies on your daughter and your girlfriend. Ignore the rest.

Speaking of your girlfriend, she’s the one I feel truly sorry for. You’d take a bullet for your daughter, okay. She’s taking a bullet for you being trapped at an event with your ex. I’m sure she’s going to look smoking hot. Notice. Reward her. Have fun.

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  • I can only echo what CL said, Scott. Good luck and give your daughter and girlfriend all that they deserve. Be well, man.

  • I really needed this one today. At this point when Narkles shows up to anything I remind him “I’m not here to play happy family with you. Everything is not good between us. I’m here for my kid” I may not say this in front of the kid but I leave no room for misinterpretation of my presence by the X.

    Hopefully I will learn to smile and be more pleasant in the future since graduation is a good six years away for me. Thanks for the advice as end of school year events are upon us. Let us know how it goes Scott.

    • I love this advice – it applies to other people as well. “I’m not here to play happy family with you. Everything is not good between us.” I’ve been demonized for years by a family member for not playing along with her intact adoring family image machine. I always felt a combination of guilt – everyone else is playing along, maybe I AM the bitch in this scenario; and complete grossness – the need to shower after any plastered on smile encounter. She bullies and manipulates by coming at you with Jesus-like arms outstretched for a hug and a grin that’s smile only, no eyes. Creepy. You cringe or flinch from the embrace? You’re a cold bitter bitch. I mean, look how sincere and warm she’s being! It’s a crazy mind fuck. Should I find myself bathing in the sparkly sunshine of her presence again, I will tell her what you said. Thank you for that.

      • You hit the nail on the head. My mother-in-law has always had that syrupy sweet, “I’m ok, you’re okay,” voice. Gag.

        • Yup that’s the family member to whom I was referring as well. I get tooth pain when she starts up, it’s so sickly sweet. She cut me out 2 yrs ago (yay!!) but she’s been circling the periphery because she thinks I’m keeping the kids from her (they don’t want to see her), but she’s never texted or called or written them, she just sits at home and tells everyone she misses them while. Doing. Absolutely. Nothing. About it. She has full access, but she really doesn’t want to connect – until there’s a family function, then she’s Mr Roarke from Fantasy Island staging curating and choreographing everyone. I had 25 yrs feeling guilty for the feelings I had for her (nausea) and I’m still healing from it. I’m ok, therefore you’re ok (never, “are you ok?”) is her mantra – she’s a therapist. Blech.

          • Holy Shit! We have the same mother in law! She would call me to complain that she hadn’t heard from my son in awhile. She stopped calling when I just reminded her that she had his phone number and she could call him. Then she started calling Fucktard and telling him she hadn’t heard from our son. My youngest was complaining after his birthday that his dad called him yelling that he needed to call his grandmother to acknowledge he got her card in the mail. My oldest then said that she called him every day for two weeks asking if he got her card. She then called and said the card was returned to her because she forgot to put his address on it. I just smile because the best thing about divorcing Fucktard is divorcing his mother too.

            • I opted out of family funeral since mow was an employee of the family company and had a way of inviting herself. I was supposed to trust mil’s word that the idiot would not be in attendance and decided the only way to not be humiliated was to not go. Boy did I get a rash of shit. Apparently I was disrespectful to what family means. What I was doing was demeaning to family. For real. Cheating lying whoring risking the family business, shitting where you eat are all fine, keeping myself safe brings dishonour to a family of white trash hillbillies. Pretending to be a unified family is more important than living authentically. I was told my absence caused drama. My response was that explaining the truth would have made the drama dissipate, and she looked at me like I had 2 heads – the truth? Are you crazy? We don’t do truth!

              She’s been trying to indirectly woo us back with money and gifts, sports tix, etc. My therapist said take the money for the kids and run. If she wants to pay for shit (not huge amounts, but certainly helpful) just let her and end the transaction after accepting the cash (through her son).

  • This is wonderful advice. I was just thinking about this and it’s very timely and spot on. Thanks Chump Lady! I’ve been recently invited to the wedding of a Switzerland friend where by ex will be and none of that group has so much as texted me to find out how I’m doing. I was sweating what to do, then I remembered something in one of these blogs, I don’t have to do what I don’t want to do, so I won’t be going. I feel much better after that decision.

    • Good for you, Annie. Sometimes it’s hard for us chumps to realize that saying No Thanks is OK!

    • Yes, Annie! Good for you for learning….and enforcing boundaries. Switzerland friends aren’t friends.

      • Exactly. Swiss friends can’t be bothered to see how you are? That’s a simple fix: see ya never. A freaking text requires virtually NO effort. Yet, hey come celebrate MY special occasion & be sure to bring a gift?!? Screw that, I’d be busy at my anal bleaching retreat that weekend.

        I had alot of that nonsense the year following DD. I cut all of those folks out. Problem solved. What kind of freakshow has zero regard for you only and until its time for you to bring a gift? As my astute grandmother used to say “that’s shit for the birds”.

      • Thanks. I kept going round and round getting anxious until I realized I was considering going only because it was expected of the old me. I would have been absolutely miserable. I will suck up misery for my boys or people who return my love, but no one else.

        So I have a question. I’ve been ready the awesome and delightfully snarky new book by CL (I love snark). Can you have Tuesday without being at Meh? I’m no longer in pain, and Ive stopped trying to untangle anyone except me, but I’m not at Meh. I still want to drive the karma bus that hits him, backs up and hits him again.

        • Five years out for me.

          I wish I could say with all honesty that I don’t care any more. But that wouldn’t be true. If it were true, I would never think about what he did to my family, wouldn’t care the two of them seem very content or even happy with his choice, wouldn’t bat an eye if/when I saw him.

          But I do all of the above.

          I forgive myself. I don’t hurt any more, and it’s a nice peace. I am madly in love with a new man, and I’m over the moon about it. I have an awesome life–so much better without him. I saw a picture of the two of them the other day–another happy couple selfie!–and all I could see was that nasty mouth of his I used to kiss. (I actually shuddered. Not if he was the last male on Earth.) I don’t want to bore you with how great things are for me–in every way they are better than when I was married. EVERY way.

          I’m actually not sure I really ever do want to give up caring? I’m SUPER great with the fact that I will never be friendly with the Coward and his Home-wrecking Twat. I’ll certainly never forgive them. I don’t aspire to sit with him and reminisce, nor to make him sorry. That I can say with confidence. I don’t wish ill will on him–not even on her–but I don’t wish them well, either.

          Was it Tracy who said, or was it someone else here? You don’t need to be friends with someone who shit all over your family–it’s ok to stay mad and disgusted about it. I’m so good with that.

          I just wish I could stop thinking about it.

          Graduations? I’ve had a few: 2 high school and one university. We both attend, seating nowhere near each other. I am 99.999% NC, with adult kids. He’s a non-entity to me. I don’t factor him nor consider him for anything. I don’t accommodate him. When it’s time to congratulate the graduates, I stay well clear of his time on the field or in the courtyard, whatever the case may be, and that includes his mother, for throwing me under the bus after DD. When they leave, I enjoy my time with my kid and parents.

          My mother said to me the other day that she wishes I could get to the point to where I could stand with my kid, and the Coward and his victim mother and just be polite. (I’m never impolite, just scarce. If the victim MIL corners me, I am exceedingly polite, but only as long as it takes to extricate myself quickly.) Meh. I don’t make that my goal. As usual my goal is not forgiveness, it is indifference (which I suppose is my mother’s vision, as well.)

          But 5 years later, and I still cannot control the shaking when I see him, and the realization that I never even knew him floods every vein. Seeing him, let alone responding to him, is, to this day, a surreal experience. Also he is ugly. Right to the core.

          Maybe one day my new man will have his hand on the small of my back to hold me steady, should I ever come face to face with evil.

          Meantime I will give my mother’s vision some thought. Maybe I can get to indifference, after all.

          Forgive yourself, my friend. You are not wrong. Just work as hard as you can on making your own life as awesome as you can. You are mighty.

          • I love hearing how Chumps have found happiness and I never find it boring. I hope you find indifference. I’m almost NC and only contact is made when necessary. After he texts to make arrangements for whatever, I quickly text a bunch of people so the new name I’ve given him on my phone “Fucktard” moves down and out of sight. I saw him today to exchange paperwork and he asked me how I was doing. I didn’t answer and redirected his attention, which is as easy as shouting, “squirrel!” I just finished chapter 13 on meh, so I still have some work, since I also read the following chapter and really feel, “I didn’t kill you, so consider yourself forgiven.” I see no need to do either (well perhaps maime a little). Stay mighty.

            • You’ll zoom much faster toward meh when you no longer have to see him to exchange paperwork. (Can you leave it in a neutral location?)

              The fact that you can communicate with him at all, without having your head pop off? That’s really awesome!! You’re closer to meh than you even know! (Kinda like your first trip to somewhere new–you don’t know how close you are until you get there.)

              YOU stay mighty.

          • Have never commented here but been a part of CN and avid CL reader for many months. I echo your sentiments entirely about indifference – but it would be so great to see that Karma bus come round the mountain! Readying for graduation for the oldest – ironically I am no longer her stepmother but now her Godmother and close with the first ex who I thought was bat shit crazy for 9 years I was married to XH because of all the lies I was told. Now I’m painted out to be the bat shit crazy ex to the current wife – who is totally for image management, she is not one of the many other women I uncovered after the primary OW/GF of 2+ years texted me out of the blue and shattered what I thought was my all American baseball and apple pie life. Current wife (can we add CWI to the glossary for current wife??) is just the next victim in line, just like the primary OW was and the others I uncovered with my expert sleuthing skills – none of them even knew me and my kids existed. So anyway – I keep my distance at sporting events and such and maintain as much NC as possible – problem is he’s made a point of trying to just plop down right next to us when seating is available so now I try to get there a bit late and seat myself and parents as far as possible. Or, if I do arrive first and they try to plop down and shower the BS sparkles of their new wonderful life – I just get up and move away. So glad the actual graduation will be HUGE so can avoid easily I hope! The graduate understands that me and my family won’t participate in the BS grad party hosted at the ginormous new house – not participating in the image management of “we are all OK” when kids still in therapy, with one refusing to attend the wedding to CWI, and another apparently locking himself in his room for over an hour on the day. Thanks CL for validating that NC and not participating in the BS is healthy for us chumps – cause if anyone knew me at all, that reconciliation shit was never gonna fly here!

            • Welcome out! Nice comment!

              And, UGH!!! Having that freak anywhere near me would make me jump out of my skin. He’s like a freaking soulless zombie in a skin suit. Nothing behind those empty eyes.

              Ugh!

            • Welcome, TruthintheDetails! Sorry you had to join the Nation but we are a fine bunch of chumps. Keep commenting. Many of us have been portrayed a s batshit crazy. A badge of honour!

  • Thank you CL! Thank you for the insight and advice and I will follow it! …and you’re right, my GF is a trooper to be willing to go into that situation. I look forward to the thoughts on ChumpNation…always educational…

    • Scott – I’ve been thinking of these things more and more as my youngest is soon to be a junior. Thankfully, there’s NC between me and the douchebag, NOR between him and our daughter (protective order, blah, blah), but the point is, I’ve worried about these life events for her, and for myself.

      I can only encourage you to lavish attention on your new sweet girlfriend, and on your amazing daughter. A college degree in a difficult arena is a mighty accomplishment, and it speaks on behalf of the one sane parent in her life helping her get through it all. That’s you! Be nothing more than a proud parent who maintains integrity, and just be as attentive to your daughter’s potential needs, and the needs of your girlfriend ALL through the event. Keep your arm around your girls the whole time, and give hugs and kisses and take TONS of pics cropping the douchebag out of them. That alone with keep you occupied and “unavailable” for glances or awkward moments. There’s a person without punch in their hand? Dismiss yourself quickly to fill that need, bro! And keeping your arm around your daughter and girlfriend keeps the people whom you WANT close to you very close, and you two can walk away when necessary – together. 😉

      Good luck – you can do it!!

      • Be nothing more than a proud parent who maintains integrity, and just be as attentive to your daughter’s potential needs, and the needs of your girlfriend ALL through the event. Keep your arm around your girls the whole time, and give hugs and kisses and take TONS of pics cropping the douchebag out of them. That alone with keep you occupied and “unavailable” for glances or awkward moments. There’s a person without punch in their hand? Dismiss yourself quickly to fill that need, bro! And keeping your arm around your daughter and girlfriend keeps the people whom you WANT close to you very close, and you two can walk away when necessary – together. 😉

        Oh I LOVE this advice, so much!!

        This is what you will DO. You will be surprised at how fast it all goes. You will see someone besides your girlfriend with whom you want to strike up a conversation. You will introduce your girlfriend to that person. You will laugh. You will be in the back yard, when the X is in the house, or vice-versa. If she sidles up to you or tries to make conversation? You will smile and do a courtesy laugh if that, and excuse yourself for a refill of olive tapenade and those dynamite crackers.

        Remember, you ditched a loser. You lost a cheater. And cheater got herself a home-wrecking jackass cheater (wooooooooot!!) You’re the winner!

        Buy yourself a new pair of jeans (or slacks if fancy is required) and shoes that are comfortable and look good. Get a haircut. Feel fabulous. Write your girlfriend a love note, buy her a pair of earrings to wear to the event. Notice how beautiful she looks in them.

        You can DO it, Scott!!

        One more thing–if you find yourself getting down at this event? Pretend we’re standing behind you. Oh, we are talking some serious SMACK about that ho, all of us are, behind you. We are standing at your shoulder, whispering to each other about her. Laugh about how awesome CN is, cause we are.

        You got this, buddy. You got it.

  • CL is spot on

    Only advice I can give is that its your daughters special day. Its not your ex’s special day nor is it your special day. That does not mean you have to be all chummy with your ex though! Like CL said treat her like a stranger. If she says hi to you then say hi back. If your ex tries to talk to you then just smile and walk away or you can tell her, in a low voice so no one else can hear you, “Please don’t talk to me unless it is something important about our daughter!” and then walk away (don’t wait for a response).

    I would give your daughter a heads up that you will be professional around her mother because its her (daughters) special day and you want her to be happy. Also explain that professional means business like which does not include pictures, hugging or conversation with your ex.

    • Lothos, this is really good advice. That is exactly how you need to treat these situations. Last July my daughter got married. She waffled back and forth about inviting her father. She ended up inviting him. It took me a little while to “get ready” for the day. But I did figure that it was her special day and I was going to be there for her, no matter who else was there.

      • I think it’s important to have a talk with your child in advance about their expectations about the day. You want them to know that you are going to do everything you can to make it all about them, but you need to be clear about what you will and will not do (pictures, fake family, pretend all is well, etc.).

        They’ll respect you more for it, and you won’t be blindsided by any attempts on your kid’s part to use a special event as an opportunity to try and get you reconcile with their other parent.

  • My daughter is no contact with her dad since October of last year. Her highschool graduation is 5/20. He stopped speaking to her when she wouldn’t treat his affair partner with “the respect she deserves”. She was never good after d day but tried to be polite and maintained very limited contact with her dad to keep the peace. He came back a few months later and tried to recant and re establish contact with her but she was just done.
    Long story short, she gets a very limited number of tickets to her ceremony and she has been very clear that she does not want him to attend. He feels he’s entitled and has vowed to be there if he has to don his fire dept uniform and say that he’s working to get in. He says one day she will see how silly she’s being, that he deserves to be there and see her walk even if she doesn’t want it. She sent him a very polite text asking him to respect her boundaries ( she’s 19 in August) and all he’s done is try to bulldoze MY no contact by continuing to contact ME with the whole ” you can invite me or not, but she will see me there one way or another”…..very, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. I’ve been very clear that she’s 18, can make her own choices, and this is her decision. He feels as her mother I can influence her to allow him to attend so he doesn’t have to ambush her and would “appreciate my help”. Yep, the same guy that had 5 affairs and left for a while new family and made me fight like a dog for my settlement feels entitled to help ( you can’t make this shit up) this day is about her, nobody else.
    I could use some serious advice. How do we behave if he just bulldozes our boundaries and puts himself in front of us and makes a scene because HE feels he’s entitled?

    • Tell the school he was not invited and have him arrested for trespassing LOL

      Honestly not sure other than to give the school a heads up so they can deal with it appropriately.

      • This, but speak to your daughter very gently and non-pushily about her doing it if she feels she wants to. That way, the school won’t think ”bitter ex bunny” but if a student over 18 explains her father is a bit unstable and she doesn’t want him there, they will be in a position to take it seriously and stop him. I’d go further personally. I’d get a TRO. I know he’s not violent but this notion of ”I will force myself on you despite you specifically asking me not to, I don’t accept your boundaries and will harass relentlessly” is… mildly worrying. Speak to your local police and ask what is to be done, at the very least keep detailed notes and any weird correspondence.

        • Very sticky situation.

          Have a frank discussion with your daughter about her options. If she doesn’t want him there, she needs to let the school know asap so they can take appropriate action. If he’s told in advance by the principal that he will be arrested if he shows, maybe he’ll back off.

          • Went through this kind of crap with my father.

            The only way to deal with it is to set a VERY hard line. Get her to talk to the school. The school might have to deal with the police.

            Don’t allow any room for guilt or BS.

    • No contact, no contact, no contact! I saw a very cool quote on Pinterest yeaterday, it read, “silence, is the best reply to a fool”. Do not engage with him. Vent to your people how it’s making you feel, but ignore him. It’s so flipping hard, but that’s the only thing that will work. Do you feel comfortable blocking his number? If so, block him. He doesn’t need to contact YOU anymore since your daughter is 18 and you can’t get in any legal trouble for being no contact. Shut him down by shutting up.

      • Oh yes ALL of this! I can’t wait for the day I can press ‘block this number’ (only 13 years to go!!). Sociopaths are so hard to deal with. Nothing is ever their fault and their incapacity to see past their own feelings and emotions is debilitating. You’re doing the right thing by being simple and clear and speaking reeeeeallll ssslllowwwww 😉

      • My daughter’s high school graduation was 3 months post DD. She was NC from DD but I prevailed upon her to give her narc father a graduation ticket (the divorce was pending and I was under scrutiny by his lawyer). In violation of his agreement (duh), he tried to speak with her after the ceremony. She had discussed this possible scenario with a very few close friends and while she turned her back and walked away, they intervened. Nothing embarrasses a narc like being told off by a couple of high school girls.

    • See what TheClip says below. Great advice.

      First, he can’t bulldoze no contact if you are no contact. Block him. Don’t respond. Don’t triangulate between him and your daughter. My guess is that he has text or email access. Your daughter is an adult. Neither of you can be forced to stay in contact with him. No contact is not “no contact” if you are debating about graduation tickets.

      You are making him central. Who cares if he shows up? If he can scrounge a ticket, so what? Plan your day. Both of you have your canned responses ready if he appears: “I see you got a ticket. Isn’t Daughter beautiful? I’m so proud of her.” “Hi, Dad. I’m going to take pictures with my friends.” And then you move on to what you want to do and leave him in the dust, pondering the consequences of his action. In a way, it’s better if he shows up and sees that he is irrelevant.

      Everything you say about Cheaterpants indicates his need to be central. So he’s making his attendance a big issue. So ignore him. When Jackass’s daughter did her college visit to her chosen school, he went along to the parents’ meeting and the whole entourage with her ignored him. He was deeply wounded! Incensed! Because, doncha know, it’s all about him. You and your daughter can be civil. Polite. Not interested.

      Plan your day. Figure out how long the kids at your venue hang around for pictures and then plan to move on to a reservation for lunch or dinner or a round of grad parties. And part of your plan should be to stop thinking about, talking about, worrying about, or getting anxious about the thing you cannot change: how this jackass behaves.

      • LaJ, this is premium! It is so relevant to Paintwidow, to Scott and to all of us who are standing in dread of the first event with the ex. I hope to never be there, but I know that is fantasy!

        Pretty soon I will have an entire book on LovedaJackass wisdom. You are a treasure.

        • Thanks for the kind words. But really I learned it all here, from CL and the amazing people on this site. The hardest thing for many chumps to do is break the habit of making the Cheater central. It’s a mental habit. And for me, it was a lifetime habit of making Selfish People central. Ooooh, she’ll be upset. Oh, no! He’ll be hurt. Good grief, she’ll say something horrible. And in all of that, I lost myself. In order to get myself back, I had to put myself central in a healthy way, which means that I get to make my own choices and not worry about pleasing or appeasing.

          • I agree, LAJ. It has taken me a long time to stop putting myself last because I’m afraid that I’ll hurt someone’s feelings. I took a huge step toward deciding what was best for me in the workplace last year– an opportunity came up that was best for my family (and it wasn’t an opportunity that harmed someone else, like through a job loss). I took advantage of it even though someone else also wanted it. The old me would have worried more about what the colleague thought and whether I was hurting her feelings, and I would have missed out due to my people pleasing ways. I am finally finding myself again!

      • Seriously spot on LAJ! It is ALL about the Cheater making himself central – being the center of attention. My cheaterpants (which by the way I find a funny term because let’s face it with all the cheating he was doing he really couldn’t have had pants on much!) is loud and tries to be funny and acts totally inappropriate in all settings to keep my two youngest kids attention focused on him. Has to be the one on the infield tossing the ball, has to be talking loudly about what they will do the next weekend they see him, has to constantly be talking abut the AWESOME vacation they have scheduled months down the road, has to be constantly baiting them with conversations like “what do you want for your birthday” when said birthday is also months away – ALWAYS SOMETHNG to keep the focus on him. NC indeed given the daughter is 19 – NC means NC, means NC, repeat. It is a hard habit to break but SOOOOOOO very peaceful when they move on and harass someone else – because let’s face it these disordered people have to constantly mindfuck with someone.

    • Let him make a scene. It’s not your problem or your daughters. He’s just going to make himself look like an idiot.

      Also, he can’t bulldoze your boundaries if you very succinctly tell him to fuck off hard. Quit talking to him. Quit trying to explain it to him. Block his number. Tell your daughter to block his number. She’s already told him she doesn’t want him there, you don’t have to keep explaining it to him. If he shows up, he’s trespassing.

    • @Paintwidow:

      My oldest daughter’s sperm donor (never parented, didn’t pay child support, only called or showed up when he was dating someone with a child her age – you get the picture) showed up at her high school graduation even though he was told he was not welcome and she never wanted to speak to him again. She had invited his father and he showed up with his Dad, without a ticket. He attempted to talk with her, she told him she had clearly told him he wasn’t welcome and she walked away from him without causing a scene, she refused to allow him or his father (who had disregarded her wish to NOT bring his son) to celebrate with us after the graduation and then cut off contact with her grandfather after the graduation. I don’t believe she has spoken to him (the grandfather) since (that was close to 20 years ago). To say she has firm boundaries is an understatement. While she could not, obviously, keep her sperm donor from being the narcissistic sociopath he is and show up to the graduation, she refused to engage him. He at least had the good sense not to cause a scene and embarrass himself. The only thing I did was support her in her decision and make sure that I was prepared to quietly and unobtrusively rip him a new asshole if he tried to batter ram her boundaries.

      Neither you nor your daughter can control the behavior of her fuckwit father. Don’t even try. She has expressed her desire to him that he not attend. Should he choose to ignore her wishes, then whatever consequences evolve from that are his problem with which to deal. Disordered people cannot comprehend other people making choices that don’t accommodate their needs and desires. That’s not your problem or your daughter’s problem. Her graduation is her day. It is not about him, his all about him mentality and his desire to do impression management. Let your daughter know you have her back. Let him know you will no longer discuss the matter with him – and don’t. He’ll figure it out eventually – or he won’t. That’s his problem, though.

    • Paint widow, first thing u would do since there are no minor children is BLOCK him out of my life. Alert the school that he’s not welcome and if he shows up invitation less let the authorities deal with his ass

  • I guess I have to ask why is it bothering you so much? You are bringing your girlfriend AND her son. Hmmm. And you are worried about being around your ex? If I had a posse with me I wouldnt be giving a shit if she was there. You have back up. Is your girlfriend aware of your feelings? Are you aware of your feelings? I am puzzled by why its bothering you so much.
    I have had to be at severval events with my ex… His family and the tweeny…. I went alone. Stood there like a boss. The first event was hard. I thought of a thousand ways to back out, stay in the car or blend into the wall paper. Believe it or not it was he who was way more uncomfortable with my disinterest in him. Now I own events. Funny thing is since then he has never brought tweeny with him again. She failed to enchant anyone at the party and in the end it was way too awkward for him.
    Go to the party … Own it like a boss.

    • Very true! When you have your tribe of people it’s so much easier. I can’t imagine how you survived being at an event alone. Wow, kudos to you!

    • I too wonder why it bothers you so much. Last June I had to go to Cuba for my daughters wedding. I had only been separated from my ex for one year after 35 years together. I dreaded the day that I would have to spend an entire week on an island with my ex and his slut. But I pulled up my big girl panties and went. I did not bring any one with me to prove to him I could I went with my best friend who is my daughters god mother. HE on the other hand and RSVP and booked the week off and did not show. He told his daughter he couldnt do it with me there. HEY he was going with the so called love of his life why would it bother him to see little old me. I know if I had had a boyfriend to bring it wouldnt have bothered me at all to see him but I didnt so it was very scary to think I would have to see them all the time expecially with our two little grandsons. In the end he did not go because of me and my daughter told him he could take another plane down and stay at the resort beside. Still he did not go. She still talks to him today but I feel and others feel that I owned that day as I was showing up to Cuba spending money I didnt have to spend with my one and only daughter because it was HER day not mine.

      • Actually there is a little bit of Karma to this story. My daughter has my last name and her fathers i our country you can do that. I for some reason many years ago never wanted to take his name lol guess I had ESP anyway to make a long story short. ON the beach the ordained person kept saying My daughters name with just my last name excluding the fathers. then when it was time to sign the papers that Cuba wrote up there was no sign of his name anywhere. I did not notice this as I was trying despartely to keep my grandsons out of the water on the beach. She brought it to my attention at the supper and she had a little chuckle as she said it. I on the inside said Bouya!!!! plus all the pictures are of all her friends and her husbands friends and the two grandsons my best friend her godmother and little ole me. Mind you I am sad for my daughter about the action of my husband but it sure explained to everyone then and in the future what kinda man he really is. What kinda of father does NOT go to his only daughters wedding.

        • Same kind of man as my husband who was too busy to go to either of his 2 eldest children’s graduations (from Oxford university) and that was before any of us found out what he was so busy doing

          • WHAT??? OMG!

            If that’s not evidence of antisocial selfish narcissism, I don’t know what is.

            I guess that was a red flag, in hind-sight!

    • This is his first time, as stated in the primary article. If you have to qualify “why does it bother you so much” with “it was hard for me the first time”, then you’ve been there and it bothered you, too.

      It bothers Scott so much simply because it does, and that seems reasonable to me. I felt the same way, in my own unique way. I didn’t have kids with my cheater and I can only imagine how much harder running into him the first time would have been had there been kids or had it been a large, visible event.

      Hang in there, Scott. You are going to be OK. You are (we all are) mightier than you feel right now.

    • TheClip, Bruce is not The Boss. YOU are. Thank you. I needed this. It just seems exactly right!

      minime1224’s post poignantly emphasizes the importance of sucking it up, being the boss, and removing centrality from the cheater. Centrality is their oxygen. I say we gently, with class and elegance, asphyxiate ’em!

  • Thank you Scott for this question. I’m in the same situation except it’ll be one year from now. I really look forward to the responses and finding out how it went with you. Keep us posted.

    • Scott, I understand your question and your angst. My daughter opted to live with her Dad the last 2 years of high school. ( My teenager was lured with living near the beach, a car, money etc. etc. ). I have one year until her high school graduation and here I have to plan something for her, send out invitations etc. to his family who have all gone Switzerland on me. Sigh… It is such a crappy situation. Oh well, my daughter opted to live with her narc Dad over me. I miss her terribly having been the hands on mom who cared for her, chauffeured her everywhere, homework etc. Just do your best to show you love your daughter on her day and look forward to it being over st some point.

  • I had to endure preschool graduation last year, and this year I will have to endure Kindergarten graduation. It’s no walk in the park, but honestly, I worked myself up for the worst, and the graduation went fine. You do NOT have to sit by your ex, so don’t. Any time the ex was interacting with my daughter, I actually turned my back to speak with with other people that were there with me. You can speak to your girlfriend and her son while they take pictures together.

    You will get through it and as CL said, these moments are so very rare. Good luck!

  • Focus on your daughter; as people have said, it’s her day.

    And the ones who are really taking the bullet are girlfriend and especially girlfriend’s son. I’m not big on traditional graduations although I’ve been to a lot: wait in line, sit in stadium in boiling sun or pouring rain, listen to forgettable speeches, enjoy the five seconds out of the two to four hour ceremony for that one name to be called . . . to go to the graduation of my mom’s boyfriend’s daughter sounds like a special hell.

    Excuse my curmudgeon-ness, my sinuses are full. You can be civil, but not chatty, and you will survive. I’ve been through four graduations since D-day four years ago, although ex forgot/didn’t show up to one, and there’s another one coming up next month. I showed up for my kids, took pictures, socialized with the other parents I knew, then went home and had a drink. My kids were satisfied and that’s all that counts. Good luck!

    • Great advice from CL and CN, especially this –> “You can be civil, but not chatty, and you will survive.”

      Our kiddo is in elementary school and therefore, I have gobbled and will be gobbling a bundle of shit sandwiches for school and other recitals for the next several years.

      The first time was really rough, but it gets easier. Each time I prepare myself by repeating that I do this for my kiddo, because these are her childhood memories. I would even take pictures with my X and smile my best smile, so that every time my kiddo looks at these pictures, she remembers that I love her far more than I despise my X and his cumdumpster.

  • I read a Facebook post this morning from an 18 year old to her father about why their scheduled visitation was ending now that the child is an adult. It resonated with me about how that child has felt over the years about the father’s tiny actions and comments towards the mother and now it has added up to a mountain of resentment.

    This is one of those moments. This moment is only about your daughter. If she wants to take a group picture, smile. It is about your daughter. It is not a statement stating that you are ok with her mother and her past behavior. Don’t you want your daughter to look back and say I just love my family. I love my dad. He is a class act. Someone I aspire to be like.

    Your ex wife is probably just like all the other cheaters out there….nothing you do or say will make a difference. She will not finally say “I was so wrong, I am so sorry” and mean it. Don’t waste your mental efforts, concentrate on making your daughter’s day special.

    • I’m curious on where people come down on the pictures. Does anyone look at these things? Is a group picture hugely important versus the more candid, unposed sort of personal shot?

      I can see sucking it up for the kid. I can also see saying “no thanks.” And a large group pic is one thing. Just daughter, mom, and dad is another.

      I think chumps get flinchy at the “whatever you want!” position of deference, as that’s usually our chump default setting.

      • If my daughter was In a good place with both parents and we were both attending it would be I take pics with my family and he takes pics with his, no group photo unless it meant the absolute world to my daughter but that would of been discussed well in advance of the day with her.
        I think once kids get to highschool graduation/ college graduation level they are pretty in the loop about the discomfort level between parents.
        My daughter knows…..and she would consider it a gift that I would be in that space with him for her, that would be enough.

      • As a kid of divorced parents, I still have a Mom and a Dad regardless of what they feel about each other and/or where they live. So, I would say suck it up and take some pictures with your kids.

        • This. You are both still parents; a kid has a Mom & a Dad. What’s a picture? Let the photographer deal w it.

          Having said that, I’d be in a cold sweat having to deal w an ex or a gf, much less both. Or not knowing. This one is hard.

          Nonetheless, you consider it a state occasion, do what is required. Take the bullet (I like “as a boss”!) It’s not about either of us/you. It’s their day.

        • I agree. I have two separate graduations within a week of one another, one out of town. One daughter is graduating from high school, the other from graduate school. They have each worked diligently to reach their goals and I believe I am obligated to keep the focus on their accomplishments. My daughters know their dad’s flaws, but this is not about him or me. It is their respective days to shine and shine they will. I will be attending a dinner and hosting a party and my X will attend both. I will take pictures with the entire family because that is what my daughters want. If they felt otherwise, I would support them 100%. I am at peace and I am not going to allow the past to spoil my present.

      • I do not think that any child will be horribly traumatized for life if either mom or dad did not want to take a picture with the other. Hell, if the kid wants one so bad, Photoshop it.

        I would not ever take a picture with my X even if we had kids together. Sometimes kids need to know mom or dad have feelings about a thing, and that those feelings matter too. It’s OK to say no, even to our kids.

        • BINGO! I won’t model that I’m okay with her Dad and I’m totally at peace with my decision.

          • Hey, I can say “No” all day long. I don’t have that problem. There’s never going to be a time I feel like I have to suck it up for my ex-husband. I did plenty of that in my life and at 50, fuck all that.

            My parents were divorced and I wasn’t cutting myself because mom and dad wouldn’t take a fucking picture together.

      • I am the daughter of a contentious divorce. My mom was NC with my father except for high occasions. Both of my parents passed away some years ago and I miss them.

        I have only one photo of them together, looking happy at my brother’s wedding. It is one of my dearest possessions. I’m so glad my mom and dad spent the effort in that thirty seconds to take a nice photo. Thank you Mom and Dad!

      • So relevant as youngest son graduates four weeks from today.

        As much as I would want to be “above it all” I just could not at this time, take a photo with my cheater and my son. I am pretty sure I would just break down and cry – as I am not at meh, only separated since February, and graduation will fall one week after what would have been our 30th anniversary.

        I think this is an entirely personal decision based on what you can handle – there is no right or wrong. Every chump would want to do what their child wanted if they could. And if your child wants the photo, and you can pull it off, you are a BOSS (thanks Clip!)…………………But if you can not do a mom-dad-child “happy family’ picture, I would just explain to your daughter that you can not do it because you are sad or feel it is pretending or whatever it is you feel. It is okay for your daughter to understand your emotions (as long as it is not crazy anger/disparagement) – and frankly I think showing genuine emotion makes you the better parent. I DO THINK IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE your daughter knows in ADVANCE…

        I am excited to celebrate with my son next week, but it will be bittersweet. Hopefully, meh will be soon……..as I know that every minute spent ruminating about what was, or what could have been, steals time from the present. and stops me from moving on.

        Here’s to being a “boss” at college graduation in 4 years.

        🙂 🙂 xo,
        Tired Chump

        • “I think this is an entirely personal decision based on what you can handle – there is no right or wrong.” I agree, TiredChump, so many variables at play. Though I’m fortunate in that X stopped deigning to appear in photographs with me long before I discovered the cheating, as part of his overall devaluation strategy. So it would actually be more awkward for us to break that pattern, which is one small blessing I suppose.

          I feel for you, Scott–I’m having a hard enough time steeling myself to attend our son’s lacrosse games. Keeping physical distance has helped a lot, making it challenging for the X to try to use it as an image-management opportunity. He hasn’t approached me yet, but I plan to use the divert and deflect tactics mentioned on this thread if he does. Good luck!

        • I’m with you on that tied chump. I’m 7 months from dd and my 35th anniversary is this Sunday. I’m grateful there is nothing like this on the near horizon. My son graduated but he is a kid who dies not go to graduations aND is low contact with his dad. I don’t blame you one bit. I would have a hard time too. Grown kids should understand and you need to take care of you.

      • I think it’s personal. The way I see it, the kids have a mom and a dad but the pictures don’t have to be of them together. I don’t see anything wrong with taking pics with mom and separate pics with dad. What use is it pretending that you’re one big happy family?

        Where does that end? Are you supposed to pose for pictures that include the other woman/other man too? And if they’re married, how awkward is it to leave them out of the picture?

        If you can do it, then I guess you are boss but If you don’t want to do it, I don’t think that makes that parent selfish.

        • I agree; even if I was willing to take pictures with my X (not), my daughters would respect me LESS for doing so. They know I’d just as soon push him over a cliff as look at him, and my teen would call me a “poser” (or worse) for agreeing to smile in a picture with him just to look polite.

          Don’t underestimate the extent to which our kids look to us implicitly for strength and moral fortitude, even when they’re asking us (explicitly) to violate that moral fortitude by pretending something that isn’t true.

      • THank you RumbleKitty for “I would not ever take a picture with my X even if we had kids together. Sometimes kids need to know mom or dad have feelings about a thing, and that those feelings matter too. It’s OK to say no, even to our kids”. Echoing that wholeheartedly. In my situation where do we all draw the line if taking a family group photo – would be awkward with cheater ex, first wife, me (second wife) and current wife (again I will say we need to add current wife CWI to glossary). His current family gets their own pics. The first two ex’s and all our families hang out now and are close – now that we realize he mindfucked us all in the previous years. I think the happy BS family pic ignores all the disrespect and betrayal – allowing the narc to repeatedly soak up the “no consequences to their actions” – look – we are ALL OK – and I have it post on FB to show it! Hell NO – and my kids understand.

    • This2ShallPass, can you summarize or quote the FB post (with privacy intact?) My S17 is counting down the days till visitation ends next March. He only goes now because X threatens me with court. I wish my son had a dad who would put his children’s interests first!

      • Dear Dad,
        I haven’t heard from you since my 18th birthday a few months ago when I was finally able to make my own decisions and chose not to follow the possession schedule for the remainder of high school. At the time, I told you I still wanted to have frequent dinners and get together often but I was no longer going back and forth between households. You accused me of letting “mom get to me.” The truth is, mom encouraged me to continue to routine and invest in my relationship with you. It was just the most recent of lifetime examples that led me to this decision.

        One time when you noticed a mannerism of mine that reminded you of mom, I heard you tell my stepmom that it made you insane. When I told you something fun I did with mom, you rolled your eyes. When I was excited about an upcoming event with mom, you told me you were disappointed because you wanted to be the one to do that with me. Sometimes you told me you’d plan something similar only bigger and better. When I asked you for something I wanted, you said I could ask mom because you gave her a child support check that would cover it. When I asked to sleep over at a friend’s house you told me not on “your weekend”. When you gave me a gift you told me to leave it at your house. When I wanted to call mom from your house you would hover near me, listening, and then ask a bunch of questions about what she said. When I was rebellious you asked me why I was acting like my mother. When I argued you said I was being manipulated by my mom.

        One time mom saw me make a face that reminded her of you and she smiled. She told my stepdad fondly, in front of me, that my father does that too. When I told her something fun I did with you, she told me how cool it sounded. When I was excited about an upcoming event with you, mom was really happy for me. She told me how lucky I was and helped me count down the days. When I asked her for something I wanted and told her you said you’d sent her the money, she told me I could save up for it. When I asked her if I could sleep over at a friend’s house she helped me pack a bag, walked me there and was invited to stay and visit with the parents. When mom gave me a gift that I really loved, she handed it to me right before I went to your house for the weekend. After I’d call you, she always asked, “How’s Dad doing?” When I was rebellious she punished me. When I was argumentative she would explain her reasoning once and require me to be respectful.

        The truth is:
        I wish you’d have loved all of me. I am a lot like you and a lot like Mom. It’s who I am.
        I wish you hadn’t shared information about child support with me and involved me in grown up business.
        I wish you hadn’t made me put my life of hold when I came to your house. It wasn’t your time, it was time I spent living under your roof.
        I wish the gifts you gave me didn’t have conditions. They were for me, not matter where I was.
        I wish you were comfortable with me loving my mom and that you realized my phone calls with her weren’t about you.
        I wish you had disciplined me instead of using my behavior to speak negatively about my mom.
        I wish you’d have dealt with my phases as a parent, not someone trying to win a fight of make me think badly of my mom.

        The things you did might have seemed small individually. But a lifetime of those little things didn’t lay the groundwork you intended. Instead, you don’t know me like you should. And I only know you as someone who worked tirelessly to dissect my life into parts and devalue important pieces. I wish you had used the time raising me instead of fighting for me. I wish you had let me love both of you.

        Sincerely,
        Your grown child

        • Wow. Probably shouldn’t have read this at work. My heart hurts for my child and all the others who have to deal with a disordered parent. Although, it does reinforce my absolute determination to be the sane one!

        • I’m in tears reading this. What a clear-sighted young person. And what a testament to the value of us chumps being the sane parent.

        • Thank you for this letter. It reminds us all that it is unfair to make our children carry the burdens of divorce. Those burdens did not belong on your shoulders. Ultimately, our children innately understand which parent has their best interest at heart. We are collectively obligated create an environment which does not require our children to choose sides in a conflict that they did not create and cannot control.

        • Jedi Hugs This 2 Shall Pass. I’m glad my divorced parents didn’t do this and I’m very sorry your father did. Sounds like you are a strong person with great boundaries.

  • Scott, you don’t have to take the high road. You ARE the high road. Your wife, no matter how “together” she looks, took the shortcut and she knows it.

  • Hi Scott, I had to go through this last year with D’s high school graduation. CL’s advice is spot on as usual.

    My sister and her family were with me and ex had his brother and sister-in-law with him. We sat separately but stood briefly together in the lobby. His brother and sister-in-law hugged me which was uncomfortable since they haven’t spoken to me in the 2 years since I kicked ex out. My sister, her family, and I made no effort to engage with ex other than complete small talk if we had to. We spoke to and engaged with others we knew to keep distance. D did initially ask if the 3 of us could have lunch or dinner together and I simply said that did not work for me but she was welcome to go with him. So instead, he planned dinner with her one night with his family and I planned dinner with her another night with my family.

    But I do think college graduation will be different because the parents tend to know fewer, if any, of the other parents there to help distract us. So please do share your experience and advice with CN afterwards so those of us that have this interaction in our future can learn from you. Good luck – you can do this!

  • I read somewhere that the movie Gosford Park is all about being vague. The director said he never stopped moving the camera. You just need to be the camera and keep moving slowly but surely around the room on the opposite side from your ex. This may sound silly but practice. Practice ahead of time being able to be in the room with her without getting angry or protective. If you see her ask her how she’s doing if she says “fine” she’ll ask you and you say “fine”and then you just keep moving. Tell your daughter ahead of time that you are so thrilled with her and you want pictures with her but please not ask you to be in the same photograph with her mother. There may be one time when parents, aunts, uncles, siblings are all in the picture and you may have to bite that bullet. Keep your girlfriend close by and tell her to just squeeze your hand when you get stiff and to be there as your protector. You will get through this. Remember your daughter is going to be able to look back at this day either with joy or sadness. Make sure she looks back on this day with joy.

  • I think you should ask your daughter how she thinks you two should handle it. He wants a scene. The scene where he plays the devoted father and everybody gets along. I would prefer the scene where you two present a united front and turn coldly from him and walk away.

    If it’s an indoor graduation and he has no invitation they should have some security to keep interlopers out.

    • Wow, I really ended up far down here. My response was to Paintwidow, but it would be the same for Scott–just change every he to she, etc! I certainly wouldn’t imply that Scott wants a scene!

  • My daughter graduation was last Saturday from college. Her father came to the graduation and how we know is because he texted her pictures during the ceremony. But is a spineless jellyfish and didn’t come talk to her. He hasn’t seen her in over a year!

    • Oh, see that was the Sad Sausage cue. I’m a sad and woeful man who can only gaze at his daughter through a telephoto lens. I’ve been cast out! Shunned! It’s up to you to come and greet me and wipe my tears away. But Still I Love! Still I Watch and Press My Tear-Stained Face Up Against The Window of Your Moved On Life. Here’s some passive aggressive evidence that I Care.

      Yeah, I know that play.

      • Add in repeated Biblical references to how Sad Sausage is the Father in the Prodigal Son parable. Wise, compassionate, forgiving. Ready to run and embrace his wayward children when they regain their senses and leave the pigs (that would be me).

        Barf. The only result has been that my children refuse to go back to church!

      • Does the Sad Sausage cue sound like the “wah-wah-WAAAAAH” that you used to hear in cartoons?

      • CL you are so smart. This is exactly (and I mean EXACTLY) what my Stbexh would do, and I would have so fallen for it. I fell for it every damn time he felt excluded. I’m so glad I found you weeks after my 2nd DD. I think I would still be in a puddle. Thank You!

      • Huhn! Lightbulb moment….

        The Coward shows up to things alone, without Schmoopie (thank God, and maybe she’s considerate? Maybe he’s considerate to not bring her?) He always looks so thin and rumpled and sad and gray.

        He’s sad sausage! Mommy taught him to be a really excellent victim. And he’s been cast out, poor, sad, sausage….

    • That is weird as fuck and creepy to boot. Reminds me of something a scary stalker would do….. peep from afar and send texted pics. Ugh.

  • This is a great question. I’m interested in how other chumps handled it.

    Recently my daughter had a school function that my STBX and I both attended. I wasn’t 100% sure if he’d bring his new side piece or not but I went with friends and my parents. He did show up without the side piece and with only my ex MIL in tow. He even sulked around us to avoid having anything to do with us. We were all friendly to my former MIL. We had a good time and I was proud of how I handled it. Honestly, he looked a bit sheepish and embarrassed. He couldn’t face my family. Shows the coward that he really is.

    So go and enjoy the day. It’s one day to celebrate your daughter’s achievements. Be pleasant but distant and have a great time. Be good to your girlfriend and focus your attention on her and your daughter. Good luck!!

  • I have the same situation coming up on Saturday. My son graduates from college and my STBX will be there, with her affair partner. Our divorce is not finalized yet and it is very painful for me to see her and even more difficult to see the two of them together. For the past several months, STBX has been bringing her affair partner to our son’s athletic events. She just doesn’t get it and continues to make terrible choices and decisions.

    I have had to eat a shit sandwich every time I see her. I just keep telling myself it will be over with soon and I will never have to see her again. Instead of feeling angry, I feel sorry for her. That actually helps me get through the day.

    • Good tactic. Whatever gets you through.

      Isn’t it amazing how cruel and insensitive these clods can be??

  • This is good advice! I will keep this in mind myself. Scott, as others said, please let us know how this goes. I have to deal with this NEXT year w/ the ex and the former AP/now wife.

    • I should add, except I am not dating anyhow, so I’ll probably be solo. So I’ll really have to suck it up!

      • Take your sibling or the child’s favorite other adult. There’s something powerful about a man or a woman who doesn’t have to have a significant other, as if we are all walking to the ark, two by two.

    • I will definitely let everyone know…such great feedback too from everyone. I liked the comment above about having my people to back me up. It’s nice that in 2 1/2 years I haven’t had to deal with her hardly at all. But given it’s my first time at an event that I can’t graciously back out of, and never would because it is my daughter and this is such a great day for her, I really wanted to get some advice and thoughts. I love the “keep moving” idea too. Make myself unavailable. Good thoughts…

      • Have to run, in case it wasn’t said. Ask a friend or two to look out for you so if your ex is coming your way they can run interference, if she has you stuck, they can come get you to ‘show you something’, etc. I had to use this in a different situation. Jedi Hugs! Have fun!

  • I had a lot of angst before my youngest son’s wedding which was about 6 months after our divorce was final. To my surprise, my ex was in a lot worse shape than I was once we were in the same room together. My counselor had suggested I walk up to him first, say hello (I actually hugged him), and then go sit on the opposite side of the room. My ex scuttled around like a crab on the fringes of the crowd trying to avoid me, which actually got to be pretty funny. Once I realized he was a bigger basket case than me, I started staring at him to make him more nervous. LOL. At the reception I even went up to him and asked him to dance. We used to be really good at dancing together and it was kind of a special thing between us. Anyway, we danced, but conversation was very awkward. I really don’t care about what’s happening with his job, or hobbies, or anything. There’s really nothing to talk about.

    My ex actually skipped one of our children’s graduations from college. It was pretty soon after D-day, so I guess he decided to avoid the stress by taking my son and his wife out for a special dinner beforehand. Now that son is expecting his first child. He told me, “Dad will probably find a reason to go on a business trip for a couple of weeks until everyone else is gone. Then he’ll show up.”

    My advice is to focus on your child. Don’t let your fear of being around your ex keep you from being involved in your child’s life.

    • You are a BOSS. I love this. Everything you did was super classy while the undeniable subtext is you’re a better person than he his, your life is better, and he can eff off. No wonder he was a basket case. LOL.

    • Once I realized he was a bigger basket case than me, I started staring at him to make him more nervous. LOL.

      Bahahah!! Love it!

  • Scott – I’m in the same position, on 5/28 our youngest child graduates from high school. However, my daughter and I planned her little event together, so cheater dad has to show up and march to MY tune this time. If he manages it, he’ll have to show up at my church for lunch prior to the graduation ceremony. (You know my church? The one that used to be OUR church before you starting going to church with your 22 year old howorker? It’s the truth. I swear.)
    I have a 2 part plan. #1 – shower my precious daughter with love and attention. It’s a miracle she made it through her junior year to even get to her senior year after dad’s reveal and exit. #2 – be busy, all day. Oh look, the pastor needs a napkin. I should refresh Aunt Carol’s lemonade. Let me wipe down that table, and get the salt, etc.
    I guess I also have a part #3 – look expensive and damn good. Cue evil laughter…

  • I can say something about college graduations, as in my coaching experience I once sat in a hospital waiting room as a literal barrier between two parent who do no speak to each other. At our small college, there is really almost no chance for people to mingle as the priority is to get a seat. After the ceremony, there is a reception. Kids spend the time getting pictures with friends, faculty and family. It is very tough to organize big group photos because there are so many people and kids are focused on saying goodbye to a place (an experience) that was important to them. Big graduations are even worse–it’s literally hard to find people you want to talk with–but you can bring your whole tribe, usually. Make sure you get a lot of candid photos of the graduate, in cap and gown, alone and with friends. Make sure you get a photo of the grad with older relatives and a good one with you! Then go get ice cream or Mexican food. And tell the kids not to drink and drive!

  • If you feel uncomfortable going to the “after event”, then make another offer to celebrate specifically with your daughter like dinner or brunch at a fancy place the next day. The point is to celebrate and to spend time with your child — in the way that would really thrill her.

    I recall my own graduation with my parents who were in the middle of a very messy divorce. The tension was palpable and I did not feel very celebratory. I was happy to escape for a drink with my friends after.

    As for your EX, I really like that advice CL has for dealing with teens. Respond with: ‘wow’, ‘cool’, ‘bummer’. It works!

  • The fact that you will have your girlfriend with you, and her son, will make it so much more bearable. Enjoy your daughter’s day, and try not to give the ex a second thought. As others has stated, send all your warmth and happiness and joy towards your daughter and the new wonderful person in your life! It will be fine!

    When forced to interact, I employ the “work colleague who I don’t respect or like but have to deal with on occasion” technique. I say hi, I am civil, I talk to those around us, I ask no questions of this person, I might say something related to work (the kids), then I excuse myself as soon as possible. This person gets none of my normal personality, where I am engaged, happy, excited to find out about their life and have an interactive conversation. I give that to everyone else in the room. They get my grey rock personality – not rude, but not engaged either.

    Just endured ice cream after the final band concert ever (3rd son is ‘retiring’ from sax). Ex wanted to join us in this family tradition and I said ok, for my son, and only my son. I felt remarkably calm, I chatted with our kids, he chatted, I did not really make much eye contact with him and I did not direct any of the conversation to him. I was civil, employed my work colleague technique. I want to show my kids how to behave, even when dealing with people you don’t like or respect. I do this in writing as well – I always ask myself, “would I write this to someone I work with?” If not, I try to tone it down and make it business-like, stating facts rather than getting into the emotions. I don’t always get this right – but I try.

    • unencumbered, very helpful. Practical. Smart. Doable.
      I LOVE examples, as I am a kinaesthetic learner.

    • Brilliant, unencumbered. I love how you described your normal personality versus the grey rock personality. I decided early on that there was no way in hell I’m missing ANY of my kids events, even if it means sharing space with The Entitled One, even when he starts bringing around his chickadees, which mercifully so far he hasn’t. I take less of a hard line on this than a lot of CN. We do joint birthday parties for the kids (I plan/manage; he pays and shows up), I’ve spent concerts and recitals sitting in the same row as him with the non-performing kid between us, we do joint teacher conferences when he manages to show up. We’ve got research fairs and third-grade “graduation” (yeah, I know) and some other stuff coming up for the end of the school year, and we’ll both be there socializing separately. This won’t work for everyone and it’s certainly up to each individual to decide what they can and cannot do. I’m a fan of the grey rock mask.

  • I hope you get through the day okay.

    It’s a hard balance.

    On one hand, you don’t want to have to see/talk with you ex.

    On the other hand, if you purposefully ignore or avoid her, people notice and claim that you’re “bitter” or otherwise haven’t moved on.

    When I had to see my ex for the first time in a year, I went the (continued) route of taking the high road. I engaged in polite conversation that I tried, but mostly failed, to end in a reasonable timeframe.

    Looking back, the only person who would think I’m now “cool with” my ex would be herself. Anyone else there who knows me and saw that conversation already knows that I was being polite and avoiding making a scene.

    And that’s what we say here: the people who matter understand the shitty things that you have to deal with after a divorce, let alone after an affair.

    The people who DON’T matter are the ones who misinterpret, judge you, or otherwise give the cheating ex a pass.

    Do what feels right to you, and yes, act your values.

  • I also have oldest daughters high school graduation coming up on 5/28. I am not aware of any party for her that i’m going to need to attend so that’s good. Not sure if I would go or not. It was just depend on if I thought I could handle it. I will most certainly be at the graduation though. I appreciate all the advice given. I will be sure to cover all the scenarios with my daughter before hand so there are no surprises for her. Best of luck to all of the others facing these events coming up!

  • I just got invited to my niece’s (god daughter) graduation dinner. She is my former sister-in-laws daughter. So it will be me my former in-laws and their family and the ex and maybe her BF/AP if he can face me. You know what? It is her problem not mine. Everyone knows she cheated with the AP and dumped me. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I suspect if anyone will be uncomfortable it is her and the downgrade.

    I am going to go. I keep in touch with my in-laws and it was a genuine phone invitation from my sister-in-law. And I have no problem being cordial with the ex and the AP. I would not let our issues ruin the day for my niece.

    If I went and snubbed the ex I believe that would be giving her power that she no longer has. I will be there with a hopefully genuine smile on my face and although I am not bringing a date(unnecessary drama) I don’t feel like I am going into enemy camp. They were my family for 35 years. Still are 1 years after the divorce in my opinion.

    I don’t believe chitchatting with the ex portrays that I accept her behavior. Just that I don’t give a crap anymore and I am able to coexist with her at a function just like any other acquaintance.

  • CL is right, you focus on your daughter on the day of her graduation. And you did nothing wrong, it’s your ex who cheated on you, let the cheater feel bad. And you will have your girlfriend there, so it’s not like you’ll be unaccompanied while your ex is with their partner. So many posters here had to show up alone to such events, at least you have your girlfriend there and the main focus should be your daughter. So you go, act civilized, be polite and go home.

  • All great responses by CL, of course. Absolutely warn your daughter ahead of time to say, “I’ll do pics with you in your cap and gown, and you can do pics with your mother in cap and gown”. Also, I’d caution and ask your daughter, ahead of time, if she just wants a pic of you and her in her cap and gown, or if she’s ok with your girlfriend being in the picture. Be respectful, as even if she likes your girlfriend, she may not want a pic memorializing such an important event with you, your girlfriend, and her. This is something Cheaters aren’t good at – they barrel their “Twu Luv” on the kids, and the kids are forever resentful.

  • Scott, these events are hard, but the hardest thing I found was the dread you build up before the event. Shit sandwiches do not taste good. You’ll get it done.

    Don’t let that narcissist keep sucking your brain cycles. Focus on the present and future people who are good to you, your daughter and girlfriend.

    By the way, your girlfriend who is being a pretty serious trooper by going to this too. Make sure she is happy and comfortable.

    • She’s awesome, and a former chump herself. I’m in a great place, and given the passage of time, much stronger as a person. Like anyone will tell you, the first time for anything is always the most nerve wracking.

  • My daughter graduates this June and told her dad it is best if he did not show up. He has not seen her or talked to her in over a year, only texted. He is the sad sausage personified. He kept insisting that he should attend until I told him to talk to her therapist. He did and he agreed to respect her boundaries, whew.

    I totally get how you would be uncomfortable Scott. It’s just an added stress on a day that should be beautiful and stress free. I would focus on your daughter and how awesome she is and try to ignore your ex. Your child has worked so hard to earn her degree, even with the added stress of having this shit storm hit her family. Hopefully this will help her become resilient to life’s heartaches and she can learn from you how to be a strong, sane parent.

    On a side note, I also reaped some karma when my daughter won a college scholarship and it was published in the county newspaper and she only listed me as her parent! Hehe…he texted all butt hurt, like I wish I knew, blah, blah, blah.

  • I think I am totally at meh. I am at that place where if he was laying down in front of me screwing another woman I would step over them and say…ewww

    Amazing what time and gaining a life will bring you.

    Thank her for donating her eggs otherwise you would not have your amazing daughter.

    When I look into my grandsons’ eyes, I realize it was worth all the hell I went through to have them in my life. I promise you will get there on Tuesday.

  • My son graduated high school last year and the ex’s presence was a major concern of mine as well. He did approach me afterwards and ask if I would pose for a photo with him and our son. FOR MY SON’S SAKE, I did agree to this, as I knew otherwise ex would use it as an excuse to go off on son. We took the photo, ex made some comment that it was nice to see me, I replied neutrally, and then I literally turned my back on ex for the remainder of the event. I saw him a while later standing awkwardly all by himself and he looked pathetic.

    It’s not easy but I suggest taking the high road for your daughter’s sake in this instance (and major kudos to her on graduating with a STEM degree!). Smile politely and exchange the most neutral of pleasantries with your ex and that’s all you really need to do. Then move away from her and talk with other people. As for photos: If your ex is the type to make a public scene or cause your daughter grief, I vote for letting your daughter have her spotlight. Do the photo. If not, then it’s up to you.

  • For a long time, every time I had to anticipate an encounter with my ex, I would make myself crazy with anxiety, making up scenarios in my head and mentally playing them out with different outcomes. I would imagine that my ex or the tramp would try to get my goat in some way and I should be prepared with some brilliant response that would make them want to hide their disgusting faces. Then, the event would come and go and none of the scenarios I imagined would come even close to happening. Most times the chicken shits wouldn’t even show up, or they would discreetly come in late and leave early. The times I wish I had been better prepared were when weird things would happen that I could never in a million years predict.

    My point is that after the graduation and after-party are over, I’m pretty sure you’ll realize that you got all worked up over nothing, or that none of whatever happened could have been controlled by you.

    My advice is to keep your eye on the prize, which should be to focus 100 percent on your daughter’s achievement and making the day all about her. It will all fall into place, no matter how you have to improvise, if the goal is to just make it all about her. I do this with my kids’ birthdays and holidays. If it’s one kid’s birthday, I do my best to insulate him/her from any and all drama. As a child of divorce, I want this from my parents. And, in those huge moments in life (which you cannot get back), I want just one picture that has both my parents in it with me. I understand they are not friends and don’t want to be in the same room together. It’s not about their relationship with each other. It’s about their connection to me, their daughter.

    So, if you can just maintain your focus on the goal of making the day special for your daughter, you will feel successful in the end, no matter what drama happens.

  • Scott, I wish you great Peace and Joy at this important event. I would be quaking in my boots if facing this now. I have not seen MoFaux since I was told about Dingleberry (partly over the phone and then in an email). We were living in separate cities at the time, so my last experience with him was kissing him goodbye at the airport after a 9 day holiday. I had NO IDEA that 6 days later my situation was going to implode.

    Had only one Skype call to process the dissolution of a 22 year relationship. I think he kind of likened it to throwing out a Christmas card in February!

    I have no advice, as no experience with this yet. Thank you for bringing this forward, as the benefit to all of us is immense. Your courage will come to you. Carry CN in your pocket and hear us cheering you on!

    • Virago, that’s a very nice way to think about it — that everyone at CN will be cheering us on when we push through things we never wanted to do in the first place. Thanks for that visual!

    • Slight threadjack: Virago, I was not familiar with your story, but I cannot believe the heartlessness with which you were treated. Just when I think I’ve heard it all……

      • Thank you, Her Blondeness. There is truly no end to the stuff we read here. Sometimes I want to cover my eyes! Glad to be in the trench with you!

    • I know your pain virago. Mine couldn’t wait to get all dolled up and put on his stinky aftershave to go on a date with his AP right in front of me(he was still in our house) This after 34 years of marriage 3 days after the discard on thanksgiving. They really do suck

      • sadlady15, thanks. Yes, they suck. Because they suck the hind one their brains do not fully develop. And what does develop is low functioning. Sorry you had to deal with such sucktitude.

  • I am dealing with my youngest son’s upcoming High School graduation by calling in reinforcements – my sisters and mom will be driving down from a few states north to be at a small lunch with son and friends and their parents, right before the ceremony, and then sit with me during the ceremony itself (huge event!)

    Typically we have a huge party, but since we separated in February (i kicked him out as he was still seeing the 28 year old 1.5 years after Dday), a joint family/friend party seemed awkward and my son vetoed it when asked. Oddly enough, my mother-in-law sent an email to all my kids/husband/I asking about the date of the big party – she is clueless – and her exact words to me were “you just need to be patient, he(cheater) just needs to get this out of his system” aghhhhhhh

    My therapist said joint party was not appropriate as cheater ” has not earned the right to have you continue to cover for him and present the image of the happy family.” However, if my son had really wanted a big event, i would have sucked up and done it. However, son does not even like seeing us together and told me “don’t wait around for dad, if he isn’t working on things, you shouldn’t even be talking to him.” Smart kid….

    As a chump, I have felt incredibly guilty about the timing of this – but I kept it in as long as possibly, kids and family knew nothing – all through oldest’ college graduation last spring.

    The fact my cheater couldn’t hold off a few more months (he had broken off with AP for awhile but rekindled around thanksgiving) til youngest had gone to college, after a multi-year affair – says a lot about him.

    Jerk…..

    • TiredChump, you are mighty, with class!
      And he remains a jerk forever.
      IMO, your therapist is a gem.

  • My strategy. You are there for the daughter, but not the x, and they (x) should in no uncertain terms understand their place. I would address this with the x before ceremony.

    During the day, imagine a bubble around you, that will be the “no x zone”. I’m talking about your thoughts. If you are happy and focused on your DD and girlfriend, no matter what x does, it does not enter your bubble – at least not that day. If she throws a tantrum, allow yourself to react – at another time, not that day, not that moment,

    Concentrate on your breathing, focus on your intention for being there. anything except x or her problems.

    Noting cheeses off a Narc worse than not being the center of all attention, anyway.

  • Hi Scott,
    I didn’t have children with the future ex-husband, but he didn’t tell his family we were separated and his mum had a stroke a month after we were. I spent the next few months visiting my mother-in-law whilst pretending to still be married. She died last Friday and I went to the funeral yesterday. I attended with friends and when they left after the service without going into the reception hall for food, I left as well. I am glad I went to the funeral and equally glad I left when I did. The anticipation of the event was much worse than the event itself, and now I only have to wait until the divorce (in Australia we must wait 1 year and 1 day before we can divorce, it is hell). So go and enjoy yourself, be proud of your daughter and exude the happiness you feel at your new life.

  • Scott and the OPs who have this dreadful situation to face, I feel your pain. Cheater #2 had two teenagers that were extremely active in all school activities and we had to endure each one with his exW and her AP in attendance. Do *not* do what (cheating) bio-mom did:

    1) Sit around and look like you are passing a kidney stone. At every play, band concert, choir recital or graduation, several mutual friends asked if C#2’s exW was sick because she looked so pained. A piece of me wanted to shout at her, “Biatch, you wanted the divorce, you got your boy toy, this is part and parcel of what YOU wanted!” But, alas, I did not give into my reptilian brain impulses and say what I really wanted to say.

    2) Give your kid six kinds of shit because they had the good manners to greet the other parent at the event. Or other family members. Or parents of kid’s friends. Or mutual family friends. Or the band/choir/drama teacher. Your “you aren’t the boss of me” narco attitude does extend to others nor include the directive “you can’t do that of which I do not approve”.

    Both the above make you look like a whack job and just give people fodder for gossip. Show the world you are the sane one! Believe me, after 12 years of putting up with this, you realize that others suspect that the cheating ex is nutso, just give them enough space so that they remove all doubt!

  • Scott–I’ve been there. My wonderful daughter graduated about 3 months after the divorce was final, and about a month after crapweasel told her he was leavin’ on a jet plane for his new and improved life with narcissa-california.

    At her graduation, I kept my energy on my daughter as much as I could (not withstanding our smaller event getting hijacked by a roommate’s narky mother…yah, they’re everywhere…but I digress…). My sister came with her kids, and that was emotional support for me. I don’t have a partner, but if your GF is going that’s terrific (especially if your kid likes her?) I pretty much ignored crapweasel; we sat apart from him for the big ceremony, for example, and I only spoke to him when absolutely necessary, about logistics. I stayed at my kid’s place–he had to have a hotel room. hah.

    Finally, our family brunch turned into a picnic (see hijacking, above)–which would not have been so bad, if I had known! crapweasel tried to give daughter a card, which she threw in his face, and told him to get out of her life. So, she made that decision clear, I’d say.

    On one hand, I am sad that she has a crapweasel for a father–that’s really a shitty roulette spin. On the other hand, she’s old enough to understand things, and make her own call about relationships. I stay out of it. He had trouble keeping a decent relationship with her when we looked like a family from the outside…(little did I know how rotten we were, at the core.) Once she found out about his lies, she was done. She has a really good picker, incidentally.

  • I swear, ChumpLady, you must have a psychic vibe with me or something— this is EXACTLY what I needed to read today!!!

    My oldest is getting married this Saturday, and EXH#1 & Wife #5 will be there — I am at total MEH about him, buuuuut I still don’t want to be around him — right now we’re arguing about our second son’s living arrangements next year for school, I’ll leave it at that, for now. In my mind, EXH#1 is stirring this shit-pot these days to take the focus off our son’s wedding because it is about them— someone other than him, and he has to be in the spotlight for some reason or another no matter what. Also, I have an issue with him and Wife #5 contributing nothing towards our son’s wedding, except for the food for the Rehearsal (in which he is taking half of the costs from my monthly child support).

    I have already asked our son if he wants a pic of me, his dad, and brother only— we haven’t had a picture of the 4 of us in probably 15 or so years- he said yes, he did. So, EXH#1 will be on one side of our sons and I will be on the other.

    Good luck, Scott, enjoy your day with your daughter and try not to let your ex- grate your nerves.

    (((hugs))))

  • I have done this, lived it. I basically sucked it up and yes, I had a photo taken including myself, my ex, our son and his girlfriend. We actually had a lovely day, my son later said my ex and I got on depressingly well, there are good and valid reasons we were married for so long, It wasn’t that bad, the thought of it was very bad but the actual event was fine. It helped that ex cried when he left us to go back to his new family but as it was over a year ago those tears meant and signified little other than self pity. I display the photo of the four of us on the mantle piece with a photo of Aidan Turner ( a crush of mine! Who says middle aged ladies can’t be frivolous) that a friend gave me covering ex, there are ways to cope with this.

    It is basically a gift to your children, my son knows how hard that day was for me, but he appreciated the fact I did it. As Chump lady says there are those occasions, the really important ones, where we all must swallow the disgust and do what is right for our children, after all, none of the mess from our broken marriages is their doing.

    Suck it up, do the right thing for your daughter and you will feel good about it now and in the future.

    • You know, when I first thought about it, i said there is no way I’d ever be in a photo again with the ex. Then I read some comments and realized if it was important to my child, I would do it on the HIGH OCASSIONS as Chump Lady calls them.

      I had forgotten but in college , one of my suite mate’s parents had gotten divorced and she kept it a secret. I caught her in a lie about it, and it was just so sad. I didn’t tell anyone else, but if I could help my child through this with a damn one time picture, count me in.

    • I think the best thing to do, in advance, is talk with your daughter and see what she thinks about all this. What would make her comfortable. You don’t have to plan every detail, but what photos, seating arrangements, etc. would she like.

  • Be civil, smile as if you are fine, say hello if you come face to face, then politely excuse and remove yourself from their proximity. Avoid idle chitchat with the nitwits as much as possible. (Take a page from The Book Of Narcs and Cheaters — learn the art of giving vague responses.) Just be happy for and proud of your daughter!

    I try not to let my ex be a cloud hanging over times that should be happy where my kids are involved. I have sucked it up to attend many school functions (sports, orchestra, awards, etc) plus high school and college graduations with my ex & his family — there will be weddings and births of grandchildren in the future that I will also have to grin and bear because I know he/they will be involved as well.

    I am happy with my cheater-free life now. I don’t care what the ex or his family think of me any more. They are no longer my family. Our kids fully understand my need to keep a respectable distance from their dad. It does, however, bother my ex and his family that I do not go out of my way to be very friendly with them — they all have told me that I “need to let go of the past for the sake of the kids.” It’s simply because I decline their invitations to join them. I suppose it is a stain on their public image if I don’t appear to be chummy.

    Ex and his family don’t understand that I HAVE let go — I’ve let ALL of them go from my past, present and future! Not my circus. Not my monkeys.

  • Both my daughter and son are graduating on the 14th. We are celebrating by going to her graduation on Saturday and away together on Sunday to celebrate his graduation as a family.

    I have set strong boundaries around not having to share family events period. This will never happen. As a result of their behavior over the past two years my children decided to see him without her meaning they do not go to the whore shack to see her rotating on his lap for any event. If he wants to see them it is minus skank. This was put in place after she ran me off the road after my granddaughters performance in February.

    My son, daughter, her husband, his parents, my granddaughter and I will sit together and go out together afterwards.

    The Limited who made us move, lose our home, forcing my daughter to quit high school, was invited because she thought it was the right thing to do. The whore will be present but watching from the sidelines with the asshole.

    I personally will never put myself anywhere near them because I have that choice. He gets to sit in the background like he deserves.

    Image control? NOT.MY.JOB.
    He was told to leave her home for my granddaughters middle school graduation. He was uninvited to stand up for a friend at his wedding. Consequences!

    Who was there for my daughter encouraging her to get her degree? Me
    Who supported my son for the past two years while he earned his Masters degree. Me. Posing in a picture with a loser? NEVER. I care. It’s what I do 24/7. My actions. I get to control me.

  • I have worked a lot with helping people through difficult situations and what to say and do as part of my work. One of the things that happens is people get anxious and nervous and they kind of freak out and may ramble or talk too much or too fast. They may say things they wish they hadn’t said. They may crack awkward jokes to try and ease the tension.

    I used to advise my folks to practice what they were going to say about Difficult Topic X. Practice over and over in mirror, or on each other or with a close friend who knew their situation. I think you and your girlfriend could both benefit from a little role playing/rehearsal. Come up with a few scenarios and practice what you will do and say. If you ExW tries to come at you with a big hug perhaps you step back put your hand out in front of you and quietly say “No.” If she tries to engage you in something about the divorce or your relationship (cause Narc’s have to have the last word), you practice your best blank stare and say (quietly) “Not the time and place Caroline” and walk away. If she tries to talk to make small talk – well the key to small talk is the natural back and forth, chit-chat about sort of nothing most of us instinctively do. Nice weather we are having, Oh yes it’s a lovely day… I remember it rained on my college graduation. Oh gosh our’s was in field and sun just beat down. blah blah blah.

    So don’t do the back and forth. It’s awkward as hell, but it sends a message:
    Her: Too bad it’s raining so much
    You: yes it is. (walks away)

    Her: So how’s work going
    You: Fine I guess.

    It’s super awkward to do this, so you need to practice so you don’t yammer on. Practice with your girlfriend and make joke out of it. If she has a sense of humor and knows anything about your ex, let her try to upset you (give you her worse).

    Pictures – I’m a fan of just taking a ton of pictures. Of everyone. I mean it’s digital photography. I’m sure you and your girlfriend will be dressed up and looking good … so take some together. Take some of your girlfriend and her son. Take some of your daughter and her buds. Take some of you and your daughter. Take some of the three of you. It’s not like it’s 1895 and each photo is a carefully staged once in a lifetime shot. It’s friggin digital photos. Take bunch, delete what you don’t want.

    • My favorite response to unwanted conversation is “Right….”. Usually, stops people dead in their tracks. They don’t know if you agree, disagree, or what.

  • My situation is a little different. Nearly one year after I kicked crapweasel out, his sister was brutally murdered in her home, leaving behind two teenage daughters. The older girl went to live with her Dad’s brother to finish out senior year in HS, the little one was about to begin HS and came to live with me.
    I could not go to the older girl’s HS graduation celebration as crapweasel was attending – the pain was too fresh and I could not trust myself to do the right thing at a family celebration, so I sent little sister and a wonderful gift, along with my regrets.
    Last weekend, the older girl graduated college and there was no way I was going to miss it. Crapweasel was going and I didn’t even care. Fuck him.
    He ended up backing out and I had a fabulous weekend with the little one who lives with me (freshman in college!), the girl’s Dad’s family, and both god mothers. We had an Airbnb house and partied.
    I must have looked good as everyone wanted to know if I was dating. “Once was enough”, and after a few wines, “I lived with a dickhead too many years and I’m damn done”.
    The best part was being there for my niece. It was HER weekend. The family and friends got on great and I think she has some very good and loving memories.
    I stressed a bit, because crapweasel did not cancel til the last minute, but I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from giving my niece to love, support and celebration she deserved.
    I love MEH.

  • I had high school graduation for my daughter. What I did, was enjoyed the graduation – her father was there with his girlfriend, but there were so many people there I didn’t have to even see their faces. Afterward, my daughter was going to attend an all night grad party, but at the last minute, decided to come to dinner with my daughter, sister and I. We had a great time and I was so very proud.

    My ex flew in from FL and got the ceremony and my guess is a few pics. I got the girl for the whole night. I’m truly blessed. For your sake and your daughter’s sake go, ignore and if your cheating ex comes up to you just be polite and make it short like CL says. She’s the one who’s the loser, not you. Have fun Daddy and be proud!

  • It’s funny what the memory will do. I had completely forgotten that I attended my daughter’s graduation a year after x left. It was the first time that we would be in the same building with each other. I was so hoping that he would not be there, but sure enough sad sausage shows up. After the graduation, daughter, son and I had pictures taken. My kids, being the kind souls that they are, wanted to find their dad and I went to the car. I, apparently, vowed that day that I did not have to be the one that was “sitting in the car”. So when her wedding came around the following year, I was there for her, regardless of sad sausage’s presence. At the wedding he was acting the sad sausage part and the rest of the wedding attendees were having a good time, I should say that x and his sisters were looking rather down for a wedding. Too bad, so sad.

    Go support your child, Scott. And don’t give a flying fuck what the x is doing, it’s all about “them” anyway and if you give no kibbles, she will have the sadz. That’s on her sorry ass. Go and enjoy this milestone in your kids life and deal with any pesky developments as they happen, with the grace that you know you have.

    • DeeL – BOUYA! Especially about excavating one’s Grace. Sometimes we are not aware of this buried treasure!

  • Scott,

    I have the ‘honor’ of spending much time (a couple of times per week) with my abusive (financially, emotionally, sexually, physically), extremely disordered STBX. He knows that a few months ago my last boyfriend (post-separation), who I knew for 30 years and wanted to marry, dumped me after one year (on anniversary with now ex-boyfriend). My STBX seems to attract sexual partners like white on rice. As a result of my STBX and my boyfriend doing much better than me on virtually every front (availability of sexual partners, popularity, money, health, comfort, etc.), I must admit that I am jealous of my now-ex-boyfriend’s new partner(s?) and envious of both my STBX and my now ex-boyfriend. If living well is the best revenge, then I am not getting anywhere close to the best revenge. (I just hope that I get to Meh someday, preferably sooner rather than later, because at my age, I can never catch up to either of them in terms of ‘success.’) As my STBX is in the music business, in public, he literally puts on spectacles at my kids’ school, birthday parties, kids’ sporting events, etc. He is ‘Father of the Year,’ but in private, he has literally shut the lights off on us when he abandoned us a couple of years ago), used kids’ college money to pay prostitutes, and often fails to pay child support. We have had restraining orders for 18 months which will likely be permanent. Nonetheless, he tells everyone that I am an abusive parent, who has tried to hire prostitutes (WTF?) and cheated on him (not true) who should not ever see our children because I purportedly molest my own children. Consequently, I don’t love seeing him.

    How do I cope with all this togetherness with criminal STBX? I have learned to compartmentalize. When I am out for another round of family ‘togetherness’ I almost subconsciously get into my ‘business with STBX’ mode while maintaining loving feelings for our kids. Trust me–practice helps! Like a physician who has worked in ER for decades, I think that the ‘work’ gets easier over time. I feel proud of myself for being able to maintain a certain demeanor. While I am at home, work, elsewhere without STBX, I can go back to my ‘STBX is dead to me’ or I’ hate what he has done to his family (kids and me)’ modes.

    Please ENJOY your child’s special event for her and for you!

  • One word of advice to those having to attend adult kids’ graduations and weddings with Cheater present. This comes from an experience my current Chump partner had with his Cheater ex wife, who likes to try to rewrite history.

    AVOID any photo with the Cheater. They will crop, cut, paste and make it look like one happy family and proceed to facebook it all, while making comments about “how all is reconciled and forgiven”. My stepdaughter posted a “loving” photo on her facebook profile with her two smiling, divorced parents on each side of her at her graduation. Her Cheater mother then posted a comment about “how nice it is that we are all now together again”…CLEARLY as impression management! And…likely as a dig at my partner, whom she humiliated way back when, and to whom she has been nothing but abusive over the years. I (and Cheater’s current partner) were deliberately cropped out. I don’t particularly care about it, but just shows how deluded and determined these farkers are to prove they are the golden uterus.

  • Midway through very messy divorce proceedings, our son got married. I stood next to ex in the church, thanked him for hiring the wedding car and stood tall (no easy feat 6 weeks after major abdominal surgery). I had been dreading being there with him at such an emotional occasion. I worried endlessly about him talking to me, catching his eye during the wedding song and generally making a fool of myself. All unfounded.
    The reality was – he only spoke briefly to my family, (to give them his new address! like who cares??) sulked in a corner for the whole evening, did not even give our son a handshake and there is not one wedding photo with him smiling.
    He dropped me home at midnight when all the street lights were out, dumped me in the road and sped off. That was when I knew that I had him completely rattled. Awesome feeling.
    Often things are never as bad as we fear.

  • Hey Scott,

    This sucks, but the harsh reality is that you and your ex divorced, not your kids, and so you suck it up for them. And be prepared for your ex to put her best Disney-mom show on, for all to see.

    My ex wife is often at school functions, but I have a strict NC policy, and I never sit next to her, or speak to her. Up to this point, she hasn’t had the audacity to bring her AP to school functions — that was saved for my son’s barmitzvah and children birthday parties.

    The first time is the hardest. I know, because I lashed out the first time, and felt like such an idiot afterwards. It’s stressful, and PSTD triggers are all over the place. But the next time, and the one after that will get easier. I use Mindfulness — basically focusing on breathing when I feel myself getting triggered. And I smile and nod and get on with it, and make polite chitchat with everyone else.

    This isn’t the graduation ceremony you might have pictured all those years ago, and there’ll never be a traditional graduation photo on the mantle piece showing mom + dad + daughter. But you’ll have one of the you with your daughter beaming, and that’s the best you can do with the cards you have been dealt.

    Breathe. You’re going to get through this.

  • at my oldest son’s college graduation ex #1 went but wouldn’t go to the after party because i would be there. we had been divorced since my son was 2. he looked like an idiot. when my son got married he told me he was afraid his dad would make a scene. i told him it was his day and i would take what crap i had to not to ruin it for him. i paid for the rehearsal dinner, his dad took the credit. whatever. i brought a gorgeous dress for the wedding, had my makeup professionally done and looked awesome. surrounded myself with friends and family and totally ignored him. my son did request a picture with just him and his dad and i “because he has never had one”. i did it for him. two seconds out of my life, no biggie.

  • Scott, some excellent advice here, my ex hooked up with one of the Moms from our kiddos primary school, spent a year pretending nothing was going on then moved in with her after she and her husband split to “help” her and all the kids get through the “difficult situation”. A special kind of hell for my eldest who was allocated to the same class, spent every other week 24/7 with her bully (ow child). I made sure all kids were in separate classes thereafter. At kid1 graduation, he spent the whole time with his arm around his fiancée, I enjoyed the righteous anger of the other Moms staring daggers at them and checking that I was ok (which I was, my awesome SIL dubbed OW the crow and we had a great laugh). Kid2 graduation, school tradition was that both parents come up and get a token gift if it is the last kid leaving. Hair done, great dress, red lippy & looking like I had no care in the world, walked up confident, thanked the principal, turned my back and walked away whilst toad was accepting his – I owned it. What a difference a year makes, his fiancée and her ex sat together whilst he was alone in another row, they walked up the middle together – LOL. No photos together but if either kid wanted it on their wedding day I will do it in a heartbeat. Faked it til I made it – the love for our kids is like the USS Enterprise going in with shields up! – all you chumps got this.

  • “Channel the most vapid part of your soul.” Chump Lady has a gift with words, haha!

  • 173 comments, I admit I didn’t read them all but wanted to add my 10 cents worth. Have no doubt your ex has regaled her new lover with stories of how you were such a Loser she had no choice but to cheat and leave you. She would love nothing more than for you to prove her case.
    I have been with men who had ex wives who were consumate bitches every time they were in his company (I usually avoided being with him when he picked up the kids etc. Personally I have no need to piss on my “property” and let him deal with his kids alone but that is just me. I have attended functions where my ex was present with his new woman and she was always the one who didn’t want pics together and had the sore look on her face. I would have loved a pic of my son and his dad and I at my son’s wedding. We made him. I certainly didn’t want to drag him off and screw him, I don’t know what the new woman was so afraid of. Her insecurities, not mine.
    I have always looked my best and acted friendly, been the living mom I always have been and carried on. My son appreciated the fact that I wasn’t making things difficult and was pleasant to everyone there. His dad’s new woman made a joke of herself by refusing to stand (or let my ex stand) near me in pics etc
    My 2nd husband had an ex wife that acted and looked like hell every time I was around. I had nothing to do with their breakup but it sure made me feel sorry for him that he ever had to put up with her.
    I don’t think you are being a doormat or comprising your boundaries or standards by being agreeable and cooperative for your daughters sake. This happens only once in her lifetime, it would be unfair and selfish to give her any reason to feel uncomfortable.
    Be the loving happy supportive dad you always are, wear a suit that shows off the studly dude you are. Shake hands with the new man and show not one ounce of resentment. He will without a doubt wonder about all these horror stories she has told him and respect you for not flexing.
    It is the past, you have moved on remember? Let it show that you really don’t give a flying Fuck what your ex is doing.

  • My situation is a bit different: there was no cheating by me or my ex-wife. However, she left with no discussion of divorce or leaving, giving me 3 hours notice, and my kids found out from their aunt that she was moving 4 hours away to move in with her mother, brother and sister. She ordered me to contact her only through her attorney, and we have had no contact since. She also hasn’t worked since (no boy friend, either – they’re recluses, and no one in their family works).

    To my surprise, since she left, she has all but cut off our kids. She calls only on their birthdays and hasn’t visited them. They are allowed to call, but rarely do, and are allowed to visit, but do so about twice a year for 2-3 days at a time. I have never discouraged them from visiting her, and at times have suggested to both that they do so, but they can tell that I’m holding back hard when I suggest it.

    I’ve taken care of the kids solo ever since she left. She has no idea of the problems I’ve dealt with, and the list is endless. My son has a severe learning disability and ADHD, and that has made this all the more challenging.

    Now they are both about to graduate from college (son is on year 6). My daughter told me that she invited her mother and she plans to attend.

    I’d like to explode at her or hit her with a baseball bat (but it might ruin a perfectly good bat).

    This is not a 2-hour ceremony – it’s a weekend filled with intimate events, dinners, and brunches. I can’t just hide on the other side of the auditorium.

    I saw the note above from All Out of Kibble that said to say, “I’m not here to play happy family with you. Everything is not good between us. I’m here for my kid.” But I don’t want to start a war on my daughter’s campus (or perhaps my son’s, if he invites her).

    Now for the even weirder part: both kids had endured multiple trauma before their mother left (as did I, and their mother). Our daughter died in an accident, my other daughter found her body in the woods, my wife for some bizarre reason claimed it was murder, and still did 3 years later when she left, despite absolutely no indication of murder, and kept telling me how terrible a father I had been to our deceased daughter until she left. A month later, Book of Job, a hurricane/flood hit us. Our neighbor’s car caught on fire, and my daughter panicked, wondering if it was my car (I was on the scene trying to get her out before the car was fully engulfed and she burned before my eyes; my wife was vacant when I told her – she acted as if I had just told her a baseball score). Three years after our daughter’s death, my son broke down and told about how a year before, he witnessed something no one should have to witness, and moments after that, my daughter broke down and cried because she was feeling guilty about not being with her sister at the time of her death, because – her brain was telling her it was her duty to protect her sister, which may seem nonsensical, but brains do that). Three weeks later, their mother ran away.

    I know it’s supposed to be good for the kids to have a relationship with their mother, no matter what she’s done or how she acts (Is this really true? Does it help them to be around someone like that?).

    I don’t think my ex-wife deserves to be at my daughter’s graduation. I don’t want to have any contact with her. but I don’t want to ruin it for my kids. That they have survived all of this and both appear to graduate is amazing.

    I’ve thought of emailing her (I do have a way of doing that), but I also don’t want to ruin things (or tell her some of the things that I’ve dealt with, or mention that they have told me that she seems like a distant aunt, and not a mother – I don’t want to squeal on my kids, because they don’t want their mother to hate them.

    Any advice?

  • I have a similar issue: With Graduations upon us………

    The new wife (affair partner) is going with my ex (and his family-my previous inlays) to my daughter’s graduation. New wifey has gotten in good with my daughters, because they have tried to make their dad happy.

    New wifey & I have never faced eachother, I hear she’s afraid of me, and my previous MiL is now very aggressive toward me, so she will be defending NW, if I try to approach her.
    Im wondering about these parts of the graduation:

    1-Directly after the ceremony, there will be photos made – and
    2-Most likely a lunch we all will go to.

    How do I handle this? especially when it will be so many of my old inlaw family members, my ex, and she. Im going stag. Im clearly outnumbered, with people who’ve heard who knows what about me.

    DO I insist on a photo with my ex & daughters – as if we are still one happy family?
    My guess is that NW is actually going to be shaking in her shoes & now that she’s got his money, she will definitely be dressed & made up to the nines. Ill just be me.
    Im happy and loving singlehood, well respected as an upstanding confident woman, as long as I don’t have to see my ex & NW … but I am rattled anticipating this! My confidence is going out the window!

  • I know it’s hard, but what your cheating ex’s relatives think about you is immaterial. Nothing justifies cheating. If you hate your spouse, get divorced. Then go after anyone you want. The lesson he gave to your kids is that cheating is OK? When I was college, if you got caught cheating once, you were out for a year. If you were caught twice, you were out forever. Other types of cheating get people fired. Land them in jail. End the careers of presidential front-runners and potential presidential candidates (Gary Hart and Eliot Spitzer; Trump is a one-time exception that won’t happen again). Integrity is a key lesson to teach to your kids. Your ex really blew that one.

    Beyond that, I think there are no easy answers. His ex-wife is certainly terrified of you. You can play that to your advantage, but unfortunately, this is not the time (oh, well). I’m sure that my ex is even more terrified to see me (and I’m more concerned that I’ll have to hold back an explosion after the way she dumped the kids on me and traumatized them even further – see my story, a couple comments above. If I happened to meet her somehow, alone, I’d blow my stack at her. Or more likely, give her a sour look and walk away).

    Please don’t worry about the new woman being dressed to the nines. That ain’t that appealing to more men than you realize, and often reeks of insecurity outside of a place that requires being well-dressed, like the workplace, a wedding or a Presidential gala. I can’t stand being around overdressed women, covered with make-up. Ugh. I’m going to be wearing jeans or shorts, and don’t care if anyone there cares how I look. At my last college reunion, I met a baseball team owner and a Congressman, both old friends, and both were wearing shorts (and Spitzer no longer comes to our class reunions, for some reason). A graduation, even from a highly prestigious college (I went to one, and my daughter is graduating from one) isn’t an occasion that calls for formal attire.

    I don’t have an answer about photos. I don’t think my daughter (or son, who is furious at his mother, but still wants her to be proud of him) will ask for a joint photo.

    The toughest part is being civil. I don’t want to be, but I guess I have to be.

    No easy answer, but remember that they are terrified of little old you, and the gaudier they appear, the more scared they are.

  • Well, this is how I handled my daughter’s graduation. I got the allowed # of tickets – invited whom I wanted and sat where I wanted. Afterward, I had a designated meeting place and took my own pictures without them. As far as dinner/lunch afterward, I made my own plans. Originally, my daughter was scheduled to go to Project Graduation which is an all night lock down party @ the school, but at the last minute she opted to join us for our dinner out.

    As for her dad and his new wife – they took their own pictures and went on their way. I didn’t even see them at all except for them driving out of the parking lot. That’s it. All angst for nothing, but I did make an effort to look nice. It was her graduation after all – but not the 9’s – just did my hair and a bit of makeup and something pretty but comfortable to wear.

    I know it’s hard, and divorce just plain old sucks, but you’ll get through it, and life will continue – try to just be proud and enjoy the day. It’s wonderful for her – Congratulations!

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