Dear Chump Lady,
During my shock of learning and trying to understand why he cheated on me, when I thought we had a great relationship (he was full of remorse after girlfriend #1 and begged for forgiveness..) — he is now leaving me for girlfriend #2.
I have stated the obvious to him that what he did was wrong in so many ways — and his response is always “Quit playing the victim.”
Hello? Am I not the victim? I am trying to forget and move on (almost a year now), my therapist says I’m doing great considering, I’ve never sunk into deep depression despite it all, and kept being productive in my life.
It makes me so angry that he keeps saying this line! How do I respond?
I suggest you don’t respond. Get away from this creep. There is nothing more tiresome than trying to convince someone who has wronged you that they’ve wronged you.
Surely he must understand that he’s Done The Bad Thing here. He can’t be that daft? Perhaps if I explain with this color-coded PowerPoint presentation complete with laser-pointer and appendices, he will get it?
Pam, he has a vested interest in NOT getting it.
He would prefer to think himself a Splendid Person and you’re really fucking things up with the truth.
There are his actions and then there is his image. With ethical people, these thing are more congruent — words and deeds align — and you get integrity. With shitty people you get bad actions, lies, chaos — which results in spin. The truth is fluid. It’s about how much manipulation is required to get a chosen outcome.
When he was busted after girlfriend #1, his spin was “forgiveness.” You were still of use, so he chose the inauthentic path of “reconciliation.” Did his actions align with his words? No. Enter girlfriend #2. Did she just spontaneously appear? Sprout from the head of Zeus? No, he was out scouting fuckbuddies while you thought you were in a “great relationship.”
Anyway, all your shiny has worn off and now the new spin is that you’re “playing the victim.” That’s a nod to his worldview. There are no authentic emotions — there’s just playacting. He playacts, so he projects that you must too.
And now a digression about victimhood. It’s very unfashionable to be a victim. We like stories of badassery and resilience. (I like them myself, I’ve fashioned a whole blog out of them.)
But the fact remains, we don’t control if we’re victimized. It means a perpetrator commits an offense against you, and there is ZERO consent. A bomb can fall on your neighborhood, and you’re a refugee — you’re not “playing the victim.” You didn’t ask for bombs. You can be mugged on a street corner, molested by a priest, have your pension fund stolen by some sociopathic billionaire — shit can be inflicted on you.
That’s a basic fact of life. Shitty people will deal shit. You only control how you respond. (See also “Gain a life.”)
Is it especially shitty that they DENY their shitty things? Yes. Let’s take the shit metaphor further — it’s a shit sandwich.
You don’t control what crazy things he thinks. Let him think you’re “playing the victim.” Let him think Esther Perel is the most original, innovative voice of her generation of hucksters.
YOU DON’T CONTROL CRAZY.
How do I respond?
No response is a response. Quit engaging. Do you want to chase a man who has two girlfriends that aren’t you? Do you enjoy his blameshifting? Would you like a flesh and blood person to love or a mirage of promises?
ACT on your values. He victimized you — and you can respond with “Please sir, I’d like another.” Or you can take your life back.
Doesn’t matter what he says — if you’re not there, you can’t hear him. You can carry his voices in your head. But you can also choose not to.
Who wants to argue with a ghost?