I’ve often said the Mindfuck Only Has Three Channels — rage, charm, and self-pity.
Recently, I was upbraided by a self-professed cheater.
I’ll tell you: You’re spot on with the three channels, (but) you missed one: Big Chaos.
Chaos is a premeditated distraction that’s designed to keep us together.
Whenever I’d slip and fear she’d be on my scent, I’d switch on the Big Chaos channel. I’d do it in a number of ways: with my side of the family (Dad has Sudden Cancer, but Doesn’t Want to Discuss His Medical Condition With Anyone But Me!), or a destabilizing project (it’s time to sell the house, RIGHT NOW), or some random concern (does our child have autism? We gotta go to a fuckton of specialists). Or some conflict (my boss now hates me, let’s get lawyers and build a case).
The net results: We spent money and time on random shit to keep us from accumulating assets. Was on purpose on my end, nearly conscious. Because I feared that if she had options, she’d leave. So we had to spend, spend, spend.
I’m not sure chaos is a channel though. I think it’s more meta. Chaos is expressed through the mindfuckery channels.
Here’s chaos and rage:
I CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS RIGHT NOW. IF YOU BRING UP MY AFFAIR, I WILL LOSE MY JOB! Do you WANT THAT? DO YOU?
Here’s chaos and self-pity:
No one appreciates my unique genius at work. This has all been so difficult for me, so I decided to quit my job. Taking a loan from my 401K, I’ve invested in a beer bong/kiteboarding/crocheted toilet cover business on Etsy/eLance/random hobo. Don’t I deserve to be happy? Isn’t it time I invested in ME? Why won’t you believe in me? You’re so negative and controlling. You trigger all my trust issues. Clearly, you don’t believe in my potential.
Here’s chaos and charm:
LET’S RENEW OUR VOWS IN BERMUDA! Now! Won’t that be ROMANTIC? Babysitter Babyschmitter! What’s another 5K of credit card debt? Let’s be SPONTANEOUS. (Schmoopie is always Spontaneous and Unfettered. Unlike you. Perform the pick me dance!)
Chaos is such a powerful go-to move. It keeps the chump off-balance, and in constant triage mode. I cannot ask more about this affair, I must prevent him from quitting his job and impoverishing our children!
Running here and there, putting out fires, soothing egos, tamping out temper tantrums — it’s exhausting.
Which is rather the point. Now that I’ve worn you ragged, you’ll let that go. #winning
Chumps are so busy being chaos janitors* (Clean up! Aisle 6!), there’s no energy left for their own needs. And if you’re a little FOO fucked up and codependent, that feels normal. Horrible, but normal.
Is someone in your life manufacturing crazy like the Henry Ford of Dysfunction?
Close shop, chumps, and come on over to the stable side. It’s peaceful here and the sanity pays dividends. Chaos? Not so much.
* “I will not be your chaos janitor” is a line from SuperDuperChump I filed away as quite brilliant.