I’d probably make a terrible lawyer. It’s not that I don’t like to argue (clearly, I do… at least on the page.) It’s that I tend to bludgeon in cases where subtle diplomacy might be a more effective tactic.
Contrast me with my husband, an awesome lawyer and a consummate persuader. (I’m exhibit A. He sweet talked me all the way to Texas. Me, a person who despises hot weather, jalapeños, and threats to her reproductive freedoms. Really an amazing accomplishment when you think of it.) A middle child, he’s a natural diplomat. He’ll pretend to eat the shit sandwich if he thinks that will get you to do what he wants you to do. “Oh, you’re just kicking my ass” he’ll coo at opposing counsel as he pockets their settlement money.
Our contrasting persuasion styles were on display last week, as we were counseling my cousin about her chump situation. We’d outline a practical plan of a escape, and after listing a litany of horrors, she’d say: “I still just can’t believe he’s Not A Nice Guy.”
For me, that’s like waving a red flag to a bull. I immediate launch into HE’S NOT A NICE GUY! Nice people don’t fuck around with people they meet on Craigslist for years! (And then try to convince you that those people are Nice People.) Nice people don’t imperil your finances, put liens on your house, and fuck with the IRS! Nice people don’t blame you for this shit and expect you to clean up their messes! HE’S NOT NICE!
I can’t leave it there, of course.
As far as I’m concerned this guy is 77 flavors of personality disordered, a manipulative turd, lightly battered, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep-fried in Satan’s own kettle. I’m not allowing “nice.” I don’t care if he sings in church choirs, gives vegetables to orphans, and sends his chump flowers on her birthday. He’s a fucking creep and he’s on my Bad List. I proposed a summer vacation to the town where he lives just so we could go kick his ass. Once I know this crap, I cannot UNknow it. Hell to the NO will I pretend that he is NICE.
(sputter) “But He’s Really A Nice Guy.”
So how does Mr. Lawyer/Diplomat handle it? “You don’t have to hate him. Work out who he is later. What’s evident is that his self-destructiveness is hurting you, you have zero control over him, and you need to save yourself. Get out now.”
Ooh. Much better.
Meanwhile over the weekend, I received about a dozen letters asking about Trust That They Suck. Help! I’m paralyzed! I can’t trust that he/she sucks!
See, I always go down the rabbit hole of trying to convince you how much they suck. I realize now that my approach was wrong. If you’re reading this, and you’re on the fence — ACT NOW and UNDERSTAND LATER.
You don’t have to trust that they suck! You just need to recognize the chaos and pain you’re living in. Love that idiot all you want to — just get the hell away. It’s a burning house — run OUT and save yourself. You know it’s on fire, and really, you know what you need to do.
I’m making the argument that your cheater is the arsonist who lit the damn thing on fire, and aren’t you pissed off? But really, you can figure that out later. What’s important right now is that you SAVE YOURSELF. Don’t sit there as the flames engulf you wondering, huh… is that a burning smell? Could it be an electrical fire? Did I leave the toaster on? DOESN’T MATTER — RUN OUT OF THE BURNING HOUSE.
Does your cheater smell like gasoline and dried pine cones? Or do they smell “nice”? No. They smell like all manner of combustibles. They aren’t nice. They’re fucking arsonists.
The important thing to realize is that the relationship is dead. It burnt down. You didn’t burn it down, you don’t want to believe (right now) that your cheater was capable of burning it down, but there it is — a charred ruin all the same. You can’t go back and live there. You need to rebuild — alone. You can’t go back to your cheater because for really coincidental reasons, they tend to live in places you’ll never feel safe in. (Uh, that’s because they keep burning down houses… because they SUCK!) You don’t need to connect the dots right now. Just get OUT.
(sputter) “But maybe I’ll regret it later?”
As you live in a nice, solid house? As you breathe fresh air that’s not contaminated by burning toxins? As you relax into a newfound feeling of security?
Trust me on this. You won’t regret it.
This column (and my burning house metaphor) ran before. But I think some newbie chumps still might need it.