Dear Chump Lady,
My D-day came about reading an email between my husband and his bimbo. When I previously discovered something going on, he swore it was a one-time thing and we were going to therapy to work on the marriage. I blamed myself — dove into gross issues with my father — and then I discovered in this email that it was an ongoing affair and he was sharing the details of our therapy with Bimbo.
So there’s that rage, and the rage of the pick-me auditions that followed. (My mother passed and that is when he decided to hold auditions. I thought he was being kind.)
We have 9-year-old twin boys and he sees them two nights a month. This is all he wanted as they interfere in his relationship. Although he acts like dad of the year. He actually drives around with a bucket of baseballs in his car.
So here’s my question — Why meh? How in the world do you get to meh and why is it a desirable place? I am raging. We had kids late in life. We tried so hard and then he just leaves. Leaves me with the falling down house, the dying dog, the furious children… I am raging. My day is about 18 hours long and he struggles with what tequila bar he will go to. Why can’t I rage? Why can’t I scream? Other than a lobotomy, what is the path to meh? Why do I have to pretend I don’t feel as bad as I do?
Dear Not meh,
It’s too soon for meh. You’re in the thick of the shit storm. “Husband”? Where exactly are you in this divorce process? The last thing I’d want you to do right now is pretend you’re fine. On the contrary, the liberation campaign to meh begins with a scream. Many, many screams. And booms. And revelations. And smashed burner phones. And maybe a dance around a flaming pyre of couples’ therapy bills…
Anger is your friend now. Fact is, you’re an excellent candidate for future meh because you ARE enraged. This tells me you’re lucid. You’re not spackling, or pick me dancing — no, you’re FURIOUS at the injustice. Good. Well-channeled anger will armor you. Rage will make you call that lawyer. Anger will engulf any tender feelings you still have for him. Fury asserts your dignity and does not allow you to beg. I will not be devalued! I will not be used! I will NOT protect you from the consequences of your abandonment!
Rage is exactly where you need to be right now. Not forever, because it’s not sustainable or healthy long-term, but NOW? As you and your sons are being shat upon and there’s separation and divorce looming? Now, when there are assets to divide? Now, when there’s a fuckwit in a tequila bar who thinks he can throw a few baseballs with his 48-hour children and everything is hunky-dory? I’d be worried if you were not furious.
This is what un-chumping feels like. It’s excruciating. (But then again, so is childbirth. New life generally doesn’t arrive without a lot of gore and pushing.) But you know what’s worse than rage? Continual humiliation. Eating the shit sandwich and blaming yourself for his abuse. Collusion with his narrative. Dancing prettier, spackling harder, begging more abjectly…. promising, promising you’ll try harder… to hide your tears, and not ask any more questions. Please don’t hurt us. Begging your partner to show you common decency. Imploring your child’s parent to pretty, pretty please support their offspring.
THAT is worse than rage.
So good. You’re pissed off. You’re starting to trust that he sucks. You’ll get to meh eventually. (It happens on a Tuesday.) Meh isn’t anesthesia. It’s not plastering a phony smile over your sadness. Meh is the liberating sense of acceptance, when you stop getting broadsided by who he is, because you know what he is.
Anger helps with that, keeps you from falling for the impression management. (Dude, your bucket of baseballs FOOLS NO ONE.) Meh is when you stop giving this jerk the power to hurt you. You accept what happened. Doesn’t make it right, or him less of an asshole. It means you see the truth — he sucks. And you realize you can only control yourself here. Not what is done to you — but how you react. How you’re going to march forward anyway.
You control your resilience. You control what kind of person you want to be — a person who faces adversity and builds a new life — or a solid gold pick me dancer who “wins” the Plan B cheater consolation prize. (It comes with a lifetime of therapy luggage set! And a twitch!) Let Bimbo have him.
How in the world do you get to meh and why is it a desirable place?
Meh is sane and peaceful. It’s a great place to raise children. Meh’s stable, unlike Tequila Joe there. Meh doesn’t hurt. In fact, I’m writing to you from the verdant fields of Meh (waving! hi!)
I won’t lie to you, it takes ages to get to meh. The point of this blog is to get you there faster. It’s a journey. (Oh shut up, Tracy. Embroider that on a pillow.) Acceptance comes after the bloody struggle to get free of a fuckwit, physically and then mentally. But I promise you, meh is attainable.
Meh can seem impossible when you’ve bred with a fuckwit, because of course you can escape, but your children cannot. You’ll have set backs, for sure. Anyone who hurts your children, is naturally someone whose face you’d like to rip off. Fuckwits can make things very difficult. (Their faces are so rip-able.) That’s why there are lawyers and child support enforcement and scheduling software. Use them. Learn iron clad boundaries. Learn grey rock. Meh will come.
My son is 20 — let me share a secret with you — kids get to meh about fuckwits too. Some of them get there even sooner than we do. When I left my first fuckwit, my son was 4. This Christmas, like so many Christmases before, his father didn’t see him, or call him, or send him a gift. It’s 16 years since I left that asshole, and to this day I really cannot conceive of anyone doing that to their own child. Ignoring their birthday, graduation, Christmas. Canceling your child’s health insurance without a word. Taking oneself on grand vacations, and neglecting one’s child support. (I read worse on my blog every single day.)
If I think about it, I’ll lose my carefully curated meh. Somewhere in my core, I’m enraged. Weirdly, I’m also meh. That. Is. Who. He Is. I can try and untangle it. Mental illness? Dementia? Not giving a fuck? Or I can accept it. That. Is. Who. He. Is.
Should I let the injustice kill me? The guy sued me for a DECADE. Pro se. He was so weird and vindictive, he faxed a Texas probate judge a four-page-single-spaced-typed screed outlining every grudge and perceived sin (real or imagined) dating back to 1991, so my son couldn’t inherit stock my grandmother left him. (He failed. He always fails. Success isn’t the point. Obstruction is the point.)
MEH. I have a GOOD LIFE. The fuckwits didn’t win. Oh sure, they have their spoils from the fuckwit wars. The cheater has Schmoopies 1 through whatever Tinder is doing today. My son’s father has the thousands he hasn’t paid in child support.
I have my son. This big, beautiful creature. This loving, happy, successful kid. I WIN! He’s kind, he works hard, he’s got this libertarian quirk that concerns me, and he’s loathe to wear dress shirts, but OMG, he’s one hell of a kid. (He also has one hell of a stepdad.)
I wish I could wrap my arms around my 34-year-old single mother of a preschooler self and tell her, “It’s going to be okay. It all turns out okay. He’s a good boy. You’re gonna raise him right. You win. They didn’t break you. They didn’t break him. It all turns out fine.”
I can’t go back 16 years in time. All I can give you is this blog. Meh exists. He won’t break you. Hug those little boys. Model resiliency. It all turns out okay. You’re gonna raise them right. You WIN.