A recent Forums post by fellow chump @Hesatthecurb ponders how compelling it can be to reconnect with someone that you have history with, and the risks that can come with attempting a reconnection if one or more of the participants are looking for trouble. Sigmund Freud recommended tossing a coin when considering difficult decisions – not as a means of determining what to do, but rather to helping to recognize how one really feels about the matter, deep down inside. After tossing the coin, ask yourself whether you are pleased or disappointed with the outcome. With that as a basis, you’ll then be ready to make up your mind and come to the right decision.
When I first started getting a sense that something was going horribly wrong with the open marriage arrangement that my STBXW asked for, I knew I needed to unburden myself to someone or go stark raving mad. I was far too embarrassed to admit anything to my immediate or extended family, and I didn’t trust anybody in my circle of acquaintances enough with anything this personal. My thoughts kept returning to a person I knew would listen with empathy and fairness, advise with thoughtful (and if necessary brutal) honesty, and above all make sure that I was tapping the inner strengths I knew I possessed and to act in my own best interest.
This was a person from my past — a person of the opposite sex with whom I’d lost contact for some 20 years. There was never any emotional or romantic involvement — in fact, she’d been the girlfriend and eventual wife of one of my college fraternity brothers. As a Native Bostonian trying to navigate the shocks of assimilating into the culture at a midsize Indiana university, she was one of the people who took much of the sting out of suddenly being so far away from everything and everyone I knew and loved.
The friendship between the three of us was a strong one, and I was one of the attendants at their wedding. When he walked out on her a few years later (she was several months pregnant), there was no question as to who I would stand by and support. We remained in close contact throughout her pregnancy, but after the birth of her daughter, she became involved with a man who brought joy back into her life, so I backed off. We had lunch when I announced that I was moving back east after 9 years in the Midwest, and we lost touch. There were a few attempts to reconnect in the ensuing 20 years, but nothing that stuck.
When my own marriage began to crumble, I took a chance and reached out to her via Facebook. The message was: “There’s a lot going on with me, and I’m thinking you’re the only one who can help me through it.” Her response: “Let’s make time to talk! You’ve also been on mind a lot lately…” You might now be guessing the outcome — she had once again been chumped after 23 years, was in the early stages of formal separation, and needed some in whom to confide.
She’s been my hero throughout my nightmare, and has been emphatic in telling me that I’ve been hers. She’s the one who directed me to the Chump Lady book and website, which have been my second greatest sources of support and validation. She’s also the one who gave me the best piece of advice I received throughout the ordeal: “You’ve got to find your own truth – you know by now that you’re not going to get any truth from her.”
Reconnection may well be viewed as a coin toss with two possible outcomes, but when viewed through the prism of Chumps and Cheaters, the outcomes may not be equally likely.
One side of the coin is grounded in empathy, character, integrity and the genuine love and concern one can have for a fellow human being. Call it Heads, as it relates to the output of the more honorable aspects of our humanity.
The other side of the coin is grounded in ego, vanity, entitlement, and a need to satisfy one’s desires with willful disregard for, or non-recognition of, the well-being of others. Call it Tails, as it relates to output of . . . well, what comes out the other end.
As chumps, we should all be thankful that the odds are ever in our favor that the coin will come up Heads.