People say a lot of stupid, insensitive things to chumps. It’s everything from the grossly mistaken — “Gee, the affair partner doesn’t seem all that bad!” To the dunderheaded smugness of, “I’m so glad my husband would never cheat on me.” (Bully for you.)
Chumps, being pretty nice people, are usually taken completely off guard. Did you really just say that? To help you identify Stupid Shit Other People Say, I’ve broken it down into a few categories.
1. Your Misfortune Is Very Threatening to Me. See “dunderheaded smugness” above. If a comment seems oddly competitive — “I’m so lucky that my biggest marital crisis was my husband buying a Trans Am!” — you can rest assured that this person is deeply freaked out by you. So let’s heartily avow that Bad Things could never, ever happen to them. Why did a bad thing happen to you? Well, because you brought it on yourself. And in that respect, we’re very, very different people. Unless we’re not. In which case your misfortune may be contagious, so I’m going to avoid you entirely in any case to make sure I don’t catch it.
2. You’re Doing It All Wrong. You know what you need right now? Someone yelling at you from the sidelines of your life. “You should wait 6 months before you make a decision. You didn’t wait 6 months? OMG! Everyone knows you have to wait 6 months!” Chances are this person has never experienced your particular calamity, but they are well versed in exactly how you are fucking this up. You really should thank them. No? What’s wrong with you?
3. Damning with Faint Comparisons. Let’s say you share that your wife cheated on you with 15 men she met on Craigslist. This is the person formerly-known-as-your-friend who replies, “Wow. That reminds me of like, when my car wouldn’t start. I thought it was the battery, but no, the whole alternator was bad. Cost me $700. Can you believe it?” No. No we cannot believe it.
4. Norman Vincent Unreal. “Think outside the box! Shift the paradigm! Breathe!” Are you feeling suicidal? Norman has exactly the right sunny cliche to make it all better. “Everything happens for a reason.” You can’t find a reason? “Every cloud has a silver lining!” Please God make him stop. “A smile is just a frown turned upside down!” “You’ll find someone when you least expect it!” “It’s always darkest before the dawn!”
So I’m curious — what sort of stupid shit did other people say to you? (Not including the cheater, of course, who has their own page of Stupid Shit entirely.)
This column ran previously. I’m in Australia! Upside down. That’s why my hair looks like that.
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