I was cheated on years ago. It was a horrible, messy, painful two years. I wish I’d had your book back then to save me the heartbreak.
I’m mostly over it, except for one thing. Every time I hear a chump making the same excuses I used to make, I get absolutely enraged. It’s like a red mist of pure boiling fury. Although I’m outwardly calm, internally I’m seething. In my mind I’m calling them stupid, useless, moron, etc. I’ll dwell on this for days or even weeks after sometimes.
I don’t want to be like this. I know I’m being a hypocrite because I did all the same chumpy things back in the day. I know I’m just projecting. But I don’t know how to stop. In most ways, I’m at meh, but this one thing sweeps me right back to square one. Can you help me get over this last hurdle?
Dear Angry Ex-Chump,
They say there’s no greater evangelist than a quitter. Maybe that’s what’s going on? Like how ex-smokers cannot stand cigarette smoke, or former alcoholics can’t be around drinkers. Perhaps you can’t stand the smell of hopium.
I would untangle the “pure boiling fury.” Are you really mad at chumps? Or just their spackle?
Chumps cannot help being chumped. We don’t control what other people do. It’s no one’s fault they got cheated on. How we rise to the challenge of chumpdom, however, IS ours to own. That’s why in retrospect, spackle and pick me dancing are so mortifying. Why did I work so hard for one so unworthy? OMG, why did I hit send on that 14-page-single-spaced-treatise-of-emotional-word-vomit?
It’s different once you have perspective. Very few people are dealt this kind of trauma and immediately respond as clear-headed field marshals. No, they’re scared witless. A lot is at stake — their futures, their intact families, their finances, their pride — their HEARTS. When you’re scared witless, you say and do a lot of dumb shit.
So, Angry, my first point would be — try to have some compassion. You’ve been there. I’ve been there. A bazillion of us have been there, if we’re to believe the blog numbers.
If you’re going to do fury, direct it at the Reconciliation Industrial Complex that profits from peddling false hope and quack cures for “affair-proofing” marriages. Who sing the siren song that we can control scary outcomes, if we only follow the recipe right. Oh, it didn’t turn out? You missed step #113. That was on the special video download Reconciliation Grand Rodeo for $74.99. Too bad you skipped it. Now the soufflé has fallen.
Yeah, yeah, but chumps! They’re so stupid! They buy that shit!
Yeah, well, spackle is a very seductive commodity. Making excuses for bad behavior helps you live another day (unexamined, but not hurling oneself off a cliff either). Oh, oh right. He was just sleeping in his car… in January… in Vermont. That’s why he didn’t call.
Of course it doesn’t sit right. But you can stuff it down. Because if you don’t stuff it down there is a Giant Wall of Pain waiting.
Most people will do anything to avoid the Giant Walls of Pain in their lives.
Admit their partner is a cheater? Acknowledge their child is an addict? Their political candidate is a fraud?
No. Our choices reflect on US. We’d rather believe we’ve invested in Good People than admit we’ve been used. It’s a horrible reckoning.
I argue at CN to face the Wall. The pain of acceptance is far less than the misery of hopium.
In fairness, it’s a lot to process. And that’s why I created this place — a) to counteract the RIC narrative (It’s Your Fault and You Can Fix It, Alone Even!) b) so people feel less alone in their mortification, and c) to fast-track your healing. Just pole-vault over that wall. Fuck it. Fling yourself forward.
Back to you, Angry, and chumps who infuriate you.
I think another thing you might be reacting to, and it bugs me too, is exceptionalism. That’s the flavor of spackle that says For Me It Will Be Different. Did he cheat on 14 other women? Does she still blame you for her affair? Exceptional Chump says “I can work with that! For Me It Will Be Different!”
You can’t use reason against pure irrational faith.
“GPS tracked her at Motel 6.”
Yes, Tracy, but For Me It Will Be Different! She was returning a lost dog!
Science and common sense fail when someone is under the spell of their exceptionalism. The only thing known to cure it is abject failure.
Angry, look, exceptionalism is annoying as fuck. But last I check gravity still worked. Consequences are coming. You’re mad because it’s a calamity that could’ve been avoided.
But maybe you can be the change you wish to see. Reach out and listen. Tell them you’ve been there.