I’m 2.5 years out from D-Day (3-year affair with his assistant), divorce final a month ago, 20 year marriage, 2 great kids, one who is almost 19, the other is 15, which keeps us in limited contact.
I did all the things we chumps do: pick me danced for a year, although I filed at 6 months from D-Day, still hoping he would “come around 🤦♀️. I was not 100% mighty and I’m still hurting, but I had enough strength to move forward (decent divorce settlement, kids are with me 95% of the time and, though they discovered the truth, are healing) and try not to think about the shit show he turned out to be.
Basically, I discovered the affair, he flip flopped around for a year deciding what he wanted and left. The affair partner did not work out — as far as I know — but he was done with me.
I moved forward, painfully, with a few shameful begging incidents (I am ashamed of now) and am mostly ok — not healed, still deeply hurt, still shocked, but over the idea of who I thought he was (or who he became).
Here is the question: I have to discuss issues with him about our younger kid — only by email, and specifically only about her situation (brilliant kid who got slammed by depression/anxiety over the past two years — it’s bad, she and I are coping and very close, but I am supposed to keep him apprised of school/health etc.).
Any exchange with him on this (or any issue) is laced with anger. At me. Why? He left — did not want this life. He is not hoovering or anything like that. His rage in emails is so unreasonable. Can you tell me why?
Sounds to me like he fucked up his life and you’re a nice rage receptacle.
This question comes up a lot (so much in fact, I have put a similar letter in my book). I call it the If You Didn’t Want to Go to Chicago, Why’d You Get on the Train? problem.
He wanted his affair, his new life, to leave you all (destination: Chicago), now he arrives in Chicago and it’s not at all as he imagined it.
Life is not an all-night pizza buffet and the streets are not paved with gold. There are consequences. Unpleasantness. Stockyard smells.
Even though he got on the train, and the platform was clearly marked Chicago (YOU ARE LEAVING YOUR WIFE AND FAMILY), and he got off in Chicago — he is just astounded that he’s in Chicago.
Outraged, really. Heads must roll.
Why the confusion? Part of this is the genuine cluelessness of the narcissistic — they don’t connect actions to consequences too well. (Consequences are for the little people — you there in the clean-up crew).
And part of it, I believe, is that these people don’t like the definite. They prefer cake — all options open, all the time. So the problem’s not Chicago, per se, it could be any destination. They’d find fault with Peoria, or South Bend, or anywhere.
And you, the change agent, the person who MADE them, by your sheer awfulness, get on that train to Chicago are to blame.
This is all untangling the skein of their fuckupedness. Who knows why he’s angry? Maybe his bowels are obstructed. His anger is really HIS problem. The point is he takes it out on you. Don’t let him.
The minute he rages at you, shut it down. Hang up the phone. Stop texting. Send all his emails to a folder called “Outrageous Clown” and let your lawyer or best friend sift through them. Don’t allow his negativity into your life.
Here’s another thing I suspect you’re doing (chump), that you should not be doing — trying to get him to face the mess he left behind.
“Well, here I am with our daughter, sobbing her heart out because her father left. Had to run to the ER tonight because she cut herself. And how is Schmoopie?”
I know you want him to see the trail of broken hearts and damage, but he won’t. LET THAT GO. If he were the sort of man who had empathy and remorse, he wouldn’t be on a train platform in Chicago, okay?
Instead, YOU be the Sane Parent. You do what you’re doing. You show up. You care for your daughter. You let her work out her relationship with shitty dad on her own and in therapy. You don’t burden her with your grief or judgment of the fuckwit (very hard, I know. I get it. I’ve sat in an ER waiting for a fuckwit to show and he didn’t, so I have tasted this particular shit sandwich.) Focus is on supporting your daughter’s healing, and modeling mightiness. We’re going to be FINE. I’ve got this. How are you feeling, honey?
You have some court order to keep him apprised? Do it sparsely, without emotion. Do it with parenting software.
Tuesday, ER visit. Discharged with meds. Wednesday, therapy appointment. Billing through Dr. Humpty.
That’s IT. No relationship autopsies. No asking how the weather is in Chicago. No recriminations. This is the pick-me dance trying to get him to care. He doesn’t.
What?! And let him get away with what he did?
YES. Because he is living his punishment. He doesn’t have you and he doesn’t have his kids 95% of the time. He’s hopping trains and living the hobo life with his dick. That was his CHOICE. That idiocy will pay dividends. You just get on with YOUR life.
His feelings are NOT your problem.