Hi Chump Lady,
I’ve been a former Chump for 8 years; I’ve got the fair settlement, a great house I bought and restored pretty much myself, the better career than I’d ever thought possible, a closer relationship with my kids and No Contact unless ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for our adult daughter. My other grown up sons cut contact with their former step dad when the whole thing came out and I won’t repeat the history here, because it’s the same old…..
It wasn’t easy. I made a lot of mistakes in the first few years. He went to live with the ‘real’ love of his life, but they split up about a year ago; the edited version I got from our daughter is the OW seemed “disappointed and barely able to look at him.” (Why aren’t I surprised to hear that?)
So this is the thing that’s rattled me. As manipulators go he was only ever as good as I was an expert Chump, and I spent some years honing my Chump status. But, post split and divorce, with me taking no more shit from him, I’ve always expected him to take another shot. That could only ever happen if we have to be in the same place at the same time, for our daughter.
That opportunity arose 3 weeks ago. My darling girl was rushed to hospital and admitted for suspected bacterial meningitis (and she is recovering well now). He pitched up whilst I was at her bedside and she was asleep. “Can I have a word outside?” he said.
I knew this next bit was coming, Chump Lady. I’ve been rehearsing this in my head for a VERY long time. “I’m being investigated for cancer, I won’t tell our daughter until she’s better though”. “I’m sorry to hear that” I said and went to turn back into my daughters room. “And how are you?,” he said all smiley and keen. “I’m good” I said. End of conversation, I shut it down.
Obviously because most of what came out of his mouth for many years was a lie, no matter what the subject, I translated this information — “I’ve been to the Doc and there are a number of possible things going on one of which might be cancer, and as this kind of story always worked on you in the past I’m going to test the waters, see if I still have the magic touch”.
So, turn out, he does have cancer. He had the tumour removed two days ago and needs chemo. Our daughter is obviously very distressed, he told her over dinner the day before the surgery was due, so she took him to the hospital and she was his only visitor afterwards. I am supporting her as best I can given she doesn’t have all the information about prognosis, although he told her it is treatable.
I’m a bit all over the place Chump Lady. A part of me, the part that can have concern for anyone going through a tough time, feels like sending him a message of compassion, but the other part still feels a tremendous fear of tying myself to that train track so he can ride right on over me again. (I didn’t realise that until we were both at my daughter’s bedside and he kept trying to entice me into playing happy families with him). My feelings swing from one end of the love/hate spectrum to the other.
I’m not sure what I want, but anything you can say to bring your mighty wisdom to bear will be hugely appreciated.
Usually my letters go — A Terrible Thing Happened to Me and Nothing Terrible Happened to the Person Who Did The Terrible Thing. Where is the Justice/Karma/Rain of Fire?
(My answers to these existential questions are very unsatisfying.)
Instead, you present me with the sort of dilemma newbie chumps would thrill to — your ex is Schmoopie-less, sick, and alone.
Because you’re a nice person, you feel compassion instead of apoplexies of Schadenfreude? I can’t beat you up for that, SFZ. That must be just awful for your daughter, especially after her own health scare. No parent wants to see her child suffer distress. And it must be very disconcerting for you to see this former Bogeyman, your cheating ex, laid so low.
But I would caution you to check your chump impulses at the hospital door.
Your ex’s cancer is NOT your problem. It requires nothing from you.
Cell divide weirdly for the just and the unjust. He didn’t do one thing to deserve cancer. It’s a shitty thing that happens.
Having his life implode, his Schmoopie bail, and discarding a quality person who would’ve stuck through him in crisis?
That’s on him. And if he’s the manipulative bastard you say he is, you can be damn sure he wants his chump back now. Those colostomy bags don’t change themselves.
Too bad. It’s sad he made bad choices. It’s tragic he didn’t value what he had. Where’s Schmoopie right now? Probably painting her toenails with a delightful shade of I-Don’t-Know-You.
And where are you? Oh, conveniently there in the hospital room. Of COURSE he’s going to play happy reunited family.
Shields UP, Spackle!
He made choices. You get to make choices too. You’re rocking a new life. Support your daughter in all this — not him. That doesn’t make you a bad person — not investing in his distress — it makes you an EX. A person who used to care, but had that shit beaten out of her.
Feel bad from 30,000 feet. Put some distance there, (as in, no “notes of compassion”). If you’ve truly been no contact with him for years, there’s lots you don’t know about him now (or ever). Like — how many other chumps he’s got lined up, or is trying to. If he’s on dating profiles. If he’s trying Happy Reunited Family on Schmoops.
Is that cynical? No — that’s who he’s been. He’s not having character chemo.
It may also be he’s truly alone, sick with no one to keep him company but his flaccid penis.
In which case, I think they sell those pink, fluffy teddy bears at hospital kiosks everywhere. $14.99. He can buy one.
You’re off the market. Please return to no contact.