So, I found out through the grapevine that my ex is on his way to the altar with Schmoopie. And when family and friends look at my calm, unaffected response, they’re stunned.
“I’m so sorry.” (Still no reaction)
“Are you okay?” (Nope. Not gonna to blink)
“Are you sure?” (Really?)
“Because you must be feeling so many feelings.” (WTF)
Sure, I definitely have emotions, but I’m intent on at least presenting Mighty on my way to MEH, issuing the emptiest bag of kibble, and winning the medal for Least Affected Chump.
The expectation that I fly into a rage, melt into a gooey puddle of tears, or show some form of reckless insanity is insulting. Is that what they think of me? Is that what they want? Do they wait to hear a quiver in my response? See my eyes cloud over? Launch into a rage-filled monologue?
Meanwhile, I’ve gone completely no contact since D-Day, which, incidentally, was two years after the divorce was finalized.
And believe me, after hiding his affair partner for six years, siphoning money from our shared account for the last four years of our marriage, and gaslighting me enough to power the entire East coast, his cowardly ass is clearly more than thrilled to have NC. I have a great job, great friends, and a great life. But it would be lovely to have a great canned response for the well-wishers.
To add insult to insult, my adult son conveyed that he’s worried about me because I MUST be feeling such hurt. He then insisted that Fuckwit “will always love you because you’re my mom,” and “It’s important that you go forward with love and respect for each other.” I’m sorry, honey. I love you, but did you expect me to lunge for that shit sandwich? What’s an appropriate response to my clueless boy who’s been swept away by Fuckwit’s false narrative?
Thanks so much,
Dear Poker Face,
First question first — I don’t have a snappy retort for rubberneckers. Whose family is this? Whose friends are these? People who genuinely care about you may actually be checking in to see if you’re okay. They don’t need to know the inner workings of your mending heart, but they’re probably not mistaken that this news might come as a surprise.
Only you can discern if these people are offering support, or if they’re just rubberneckers who get a contact high off other people’s drama. Or if they’re malicious gossips intent on making you crack. Agents for the Kibble Dispatch.
To those who mean well, but you don’t want to talk about it, just smile with “I’m fine, thanks” and change the subject. If you need a soft shoulder, you know where to find one.
For the Hidden Agenda, Your Pain Makes Me Giddy vampires — are you south of the Mason-Dixon line? “Bless your heart” works well for all fuck-you politesse.
“I heard your ex is marrying Schmoopie at the fire hall and there will be an organ grinder and canapés!”
Bless their hearts.
Deliver it with all the astonishment you’d give to a four-year-old sticking french fries up his nose. What foolishness! Gosh, I hope that blocked nasal passage heals.
Bless their hearts.
Dim people need my blessing.
If you can’t summon the divine passive-aggressiveness of “bless your heart” go with no response. However, the problem with shrugging nonchalantly at vampires is the confirmation bias that you’re a cold-hearted bitch and that’s why he left you. She didn’t react? She mustn’t care!
You never have to defend yourself to vampires, okay? There’s no correct response to people who already made up their minds.
Now, to your son.
my adult son conveyed that he’s worried about me because I MUST be feeling such hurt.
Is he wrong about that? I think I’d feel hurt if someone hoodwinked me, stole marital assets, and I learned about the long-term affair after the fact. I’d also feel crushed that someone I loved and invested half a lifetime in, would do such a thing to me.
He then insisted that Fuckwit “will always love you because you’re my mom,”
I think your son is trying to make sense of his parents’ divorce. Bargaining stage of grief. Well, if they can’t be married, they can be friends! Secure in the knowledge that creating ME was all worth it. Thoughts like this are probably comforting to him, even as they horrify you.
You could gently set him straight on this.
“Son, you’re not in his head. Judge people by their actions. People who love, act loving. Cheating is abuse, not love. Your father isn’t in my life any more, so his feelings don’t concern me.” Don’t let it devolve into being all about what a shit his father is. His relationship with his dad is his to figure out. But you get to have a boundary — you don’t have to hear your son parrot his father’s self-serving narratives.
“It’s important that you go forward with love and respect for each other.”
Geez. This reminds me of the time my son mansplained mansplaining to me.
Son, or no son, he doesn’t get to tell you how to feel about this.
“Son, I will always be civil to your father — at any significant life event of yours, you can expect good manners. But who I love and who I respect, is my business. I reserve those honors for people who honor me. I’m no contact with your father for my own self-preservation and sanity. The unethical and abusive way your father left the marriage means I cannot love and respect him, as much as that pains you.”
Your son might also be laboring under the false belief that if you don’t Get Over It and Love Dad, he will have to bolster you, and he doesn’t feel up to the job. You could reassure him that you’re doing fine in your new and improved life.
Being the Sane Parent means you can’t slop your grief on your kids (there’s CN and therapists’ offices for that).
So, when your son says something ridiculous like this, just remember that time he stuck a French fry up his nose. You don’t take advice from that guy.