Dear Chump Lady,
My husband walked in on Christmas Eve to break the news that he had fallen out of love with me and was leaving me for another woman.
I had spent the day wrapping gifts for his family and prepping food for Christmas dinner, while he was with the other woman planning their own magical Christmas.
He gave the whole “I love you but I’m just not IN love with you” speech, before dropping the bombshell that he had been planning on leaving me for the past 18 months but was waiting “for the right time”.
Now, a few months on, the initial pain has passed and to my surprise I’m not missing him in the slightest — he was lazy and cruel and now the blinkers have been removed I can see that my life has the potential to be much happier without him in it.
But I still feel incredibly angry — angry that he never told me he was unhappy or tried to work on our relationship, and instead threw it all away for a woman he had only been seeing for a few weeks. (But it’s true love and she is perfect and special, he says). Angry that I’m now stuck in the middle of a messy divorce and might lose my home. Angry that he has told lies about me to his family, friends and lawyer, claiming that I’m a total bitch and threw him out. Angry that he wasted precious years of my life — we had been planning on starting a family this year, he let me think this was what he wanted right up until the day he left. If he had been planning on leaving for 18 months, how could he have been so cruel as to lead me on like this? Now I find myself single again in my early 30s and I’m worried it will be too late for me.
He has blocked all forms of contact and we only talk via our lawyers, which thankfully prevents me doing what I want to do and hurling endless streams of abuse at him and the other woman, but leaves me feeling very frustrated. He hasn’t acknowledged any wrongdoing and before cutting me off, and he openly admitted he didn’t feel any guilt or shame.
Sometimes I feel so angry I can’t focus at work, I wake up feeling angry and I don’t know how to deal with the strength of my emotion. Is it normal to feel this way? How can I deal with this anger without resorting to Kill Bill style revenge scenarios?
Your anger is totally normal. I don’t even know the guy and I’d like to dangle him over a balcony for you. Let’s recap:
He dumped you on Christmas Eve — ludicrously pronouncing it “the right time.”
He cheated on you.
He’s assassinated your character — to that family you were wrapping presents for.
He wasted your precious time and fertility window, letting you invest further in him.
He’s left you with a huge legal mess.
He doesn’t feel one bit sorry.
Yeah, I’d be all Godzilla over his Tokyo too.
You know what’s really madness? The expectation that you wouldn’t be angry! Where does THAT come from?
(Ooh! Raising my hand. The Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Every conscious uncoupling article in every glossy celebrity magazine. Every supercilious mommy blogger simpering how she’s “friends” with her ex For The Children. A bazillion years of the patriarchy insisting that women smile as they eat shit sandwiches. While looking like ladies. And wearing lipstick. Lest they be burned on a pyre as a witches.)
Why are you angry? Because you’re SANE. It means you’re paying attention. It means you CARED.
Anger is a good sign. You’re in protection mode. You’re not going to be played. You’re full into Trusting That He Sucks, and turning a corner towards Meh soon.
Frankly, I’d much rather you be angry than directing that fury inwards into sadness. Or worse, be mopey and paralyzed, still loving the bastard. It’s SO much easier to help angry people than unicorns. He looked sideways at a self-help article I taped to his mirror. I think he still cares! Or depressed people. What’s the point? The OW is prettier than me. I think I’ll just weave flowers in my hair and lay down in this stream…
Ugh. I prefer anger. Especially when channelled towards snark.
Anyway, GG, you won’t be angry forever. The Kill Bill revenge scenarios are finite too. It’s a stage you go through as you process the enormity of the transgressions. All the alarm bells are going off in your body as you get free. You’re still in this middle of the nightmare, so it’s going to suck for awhile. He’s still central, because you’re dividing property and he’s moved on with Perfect Schmoopie. The unfairness of it all will feel overwhelming at times. Okay, it will feel overwhelming A LOT of the time.
And you know what? You’ll come out on the other side okay anyway. You really will. Talk to me one to two years out from this crap, when you’ve got the foundations of that new life built. I promise that new life will be WAY more interesting than whatever Fuckface is up to. And if it isn’t? Get working on that new life! Stop looking backwards at Fuckface!
As you’ve realized, life is already improved without his lazy cruel ass. He will never not suck, and the injustice will never be acceptable — but it won’t consume your life. The pain fades. Your heart scars over and remains a working heart.
Maybe you’ll love a future partner and future children. Maybe you’ll love orphans. Or preservation societies and corgi puppies. I have no idea how your life is going to turn out, except for the BETTER because you lost a loser. We don’t get the lives we imagine, and that’s a good thing. God didn’t answer my reconciliation prayer, He sent me my husband. I didn’t get the farmhouse by the river with my precious garden — I got sent to Texas, a state the color of dead grass.
We don’t know where our hearts will take us. This is what I can tell you from my chump experience — my greatest gifts could never have been possible without my greatest losses. Without that suckfest this blog wouldn’t exist, this lovely tribe of CN wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t have written a book. I wouldn’t have left the safe confines of my existence to meet some Texan in New Orleans.
There’s a lot I did NOT get — more children, my money, my deep investments in other lives I thought I was going to have.
And it’s okay. There’s nothing to be angry about any more, because it worked out. Doesn’t make any of it RIGHT, of course, but I’m stronger than a couple of fuckwits — and you are too.