Hi Chump Lady,
I am heading toward the end of the divorce process for leaving my cheater.
Overall things are progressing rather well for me. I’m working hard on the the ‘gain a life’ portion of recovery to much success. While I am not quite ready to be thinking about dating again, I have occasionally run into people who I have found attractive and interesting that I kinda mentally filed away for later when I think I’m ready.
Unfortunately, despite intellectually not blaming myself for the affairs, a lot of the criticisms leveled at me by both my cheater and other people seem to have taken deep root in my psyche.
Every time I meet someone who is cute and fun and I feel my attraction for them, right behind it, whispering in my ear, is every toxic thing said to me during the whole process –“You’re not good enough. You can’t show enough affection. You aren’t interesting or fun enough. You’re boring. She’ll get tired of you and leave if you aren’t exciting enough.”
I don’t actually believe any of these things, but apparently being told them often enough lodged them in my head and now they’re there. Do you have any suggestions for exorcising these thought demons?
Dear Possessed Chump,
Yes. Science. It’s the way the rational world has warded off superstition for centuries.
Instead of listening to hateful ghosts, conduct a series of experiments — in the real world — not in your head — and determine if you actually suck.
Hypothesis: I am not boring. Experiment: Dine with coworkers. Observations: Did anyone stuff dinner rolls in their ears to silence my nattering? Excuse themselves hastily to go alphabetize their paperclips? No? Maybe I’m not utterly insufferable.
PC, you might also notice that people actually engage with you, and like you. Consider the evidence.
If you are in fact boring, hey it’s not a fatal condition. You can learn a few party tricks or better yet, the art of conversation. Ask people about themselves! Actively listen, and ask follow up questions. You’ll get the hang of it in no time.
Also consider the Theory of Relativity. Boring as compared to what? Naked paragliding? A tree stump? There’s a lot of variables here. We’re all boring sometimes. (Have I mentioned my pinecone elf collection lately? Nigel and Mr. Crumblybuckets have sombreros! I considered bidding on some with sleighs, but $40 is too much…ZzzzZZZZZzzzz.)
The secret is to find someone whose boring matches your boring, or who tolerates your boring as an adorable quirk.
Case in point — my husband spend last President’s Day listening to an Andy Griffith podcast on his way to visiting the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. (I missed this riveting escapade because I didn’t have the day off.)
He came home brimming with Woodrow Wilson trivia — Guess who established the Federal Reserve? Who was racist AND president of Princeton? Mr. CL even bought a commemorative Woodrow Wilson ball cap!
(Stand back, ladies, all this dorkiness is mine.)
My point is — what your ex-wife found insufferable, some ladies might find absolutely winsome. Not every woman wants to go to race tracks with Rico Suave.
But you will never meet these people whose boring matches your boring, if you listen to the haters in your head.
Why sign up for that kind of self-sabotage? Didn’t this person steal enough from you? You’re going to give mental real estate to a ghost?
We all must perform exorcisms — critical parents, cheating exes, that 1985 clerical supervisor who told you you don’t staple right.
Fact is, haters gonna hate, and some times we’re going to suck, or be less than, and people will point and laugh. Or judge. And none of it matters. What matters is that you persevere. That you try to be your best self every day and live your life with integrity.
YOU get to measure your worth by YOUR values — loyalty, honesty, humor. And you get to jettison the shit that doesn’t matter — “boring,” doesn’t staple properly, whatever.
You’re not someone who betrayed someone you purport to love. I’ll take your lack of “excitement” over her mendacity any day. And so will a lot of folks.
Not only are you Good Enough — PC, you’re better.
Believe it, and exorcise those demons today.