After his two-year affair and an excruciating “pick me” dance that ended with me walking out, I am divorced as of a month ago. I have cut contact with my ex-husband.
The problem is, I have to work with him and the OW. (Yes, I have exhausted HR and admin and yes, I am looking for a new job, and no, I can’t just quit because I have kids in college).
He has essentially replaced me with her. They drive to work together, just like we did — her in the passenger seat I used to sit in, they have lunch together, just like we did. And she’s wearing a ring now; they are either engaged or about to be (I do my best to distance myself). I avoid both like the plague but some situations or run-ins are unavoidable.
What do you do when the affair and humiliation is essentially thrown in your face regularly? I am aware I can only control myself, but any thoughts or strategies or things I can use as a mantra to not get swept up in the shame and anger when I have a job to do? It is very difficult and I’ve only now stopped crying all the way to and from work. This was a job I used to love.
I know 100% that I am better off, but how do you heal when your replacement wife is in your face daily, is my question?
Fantasize about weaponizing the office supplies? Staple guns? Poison Post-Its?
APPROACH MY CUBICLE AND I WILL DEPLOY THE BINDER CLIPS.
God, Hummingbird, I don’t know how to survive such a daily assault on your senses. You headed my most sensible answers off at the pass — quit, job hunt, or talk to HR for a reassignment to Zambia. That just leaves the shit sandwich of continued employment with your ex and his fuckbuddy.
Any thoughts or strategies or things I can use as a mantra to not get swept up in the shame and anger when I have a job to do?
Yes. We have a mantra here at Chump Nation called “Trust That They Suck.”
Your ex isn’t a prize and the OW didn’t win anything, and both of them are an employer’s nightmare. (If Twu Wuv ever sours, the company gets to fend off the harassment lawsuits. No wonder he put a ring on it.)
Your anger I understand. But shame? You have NOTHING to feel ashamed of. You didn’t skulk around in the copier room for two years and mortify your coworkers. You didn’t press innocents into a conspiracy of silence. You didn’t cheat and lie and casually betray the person you purported to love most. YOU LEFT!
You left HIM. Think about that. You stopped the pick me dance, you filed for divorce, YOU ended it. YOU stepped away from the insanity. You are the MIGHTY person here. What’s shameful is that you were ever put in this situation. So hold your head high, woman.
Now let’s take on the anger. I can type at you that these people are loathsome and to not internalize their suckitude, but I don’t have to see ugly mugs in the cafeteria line daily. It’s one thing to intellectualize a tidy mantra of superiority, it’s another to face the motherfuckers.
The cornerstone of healing is no contact. For those with kids, we talk about “grey rock” — minimal contact, which can be borne. But at least parents get separate homes and schedules — you work with these freaks. It’s not sustainable.
Could anyone work with their mugger? The 8th grade bully who shoved them in a locker? The unhinged neighbor who shot their dog? No. Anyone would see those events as traumatic. So why would being chumped — sexually humiliated and conspired against — be shits and giggles at the workplace? It’s completely normal that your body would feel pumped with adrenaline at Code Red every day. I can’t tell you to get used to that — just get away from it.
It’s not fair, but none of this is. You can love another job (like, one that doesn’t employ your ex and his mistress). The way forward is to build a new life on your own terms. To keep stepping far, far away from the triangle.
Because I bet you your next performance bonus, your ex gets off on this situation. It’s still cake — his ex-wife and his mistress unnerving each other daily. Him at the center of all centrality! How do I know? Because the OW performed a two-year pick me dance. She’s the pathetic soul who accepts that. Everyone working together, they still get the frisson of the triangle. Her off balance, occasionally triumphant at “winning.” (Note to OW: If you find a half-eaten sandwich in the trash, it’s technically a sandwich, but it’s still trash.)
Please deny him the triangulation. Godspeed on the job search.