My children’s father and I broke up 18 months ago after after an 11-year relationship, 2 kids, a house, and a business. The break up especially was horrific with mental / financial abuse, accusations, gaslighting, and projections. I’ve only recently been able to wrap my head around it and have retained a lawyer to initiate, at minimum, a custody agreement and appropriate, honest child support.
I suspected within a couple of months of the break up, the ultimate downfall of our relationship was due to a behind-the-scenes “friendship” with my best friend of the last decade. She broke up with her spouse, of 15+ years, within a week or two of my break up. Then she spent a month standing up for my ex’s integrity and character while I continued to confide in her daily, until I came to my better senses.
My two young kids came home recently, after one of their twice a month 8-hour visits with their father, and confirmed their relationship and my suspicions. She has been present for all their visits since. I am currently away from my job on a short mental health leave.
Now that their relationship is out in the open, my ex is suddenly trying to step up and be a father to his kids. Whether it’s to do with his image management or hers, has yet to be seen. The visits and phone calls with our children, prior to a month ago, were sporadic and random at best. One year ago, he even claimed that our children weren’t his… he sent DNA tests away on their hair….
In retrospect, my best friend’s excessive interest in my kids was obviously more then her being a good friend to me. She is unable to have her own children. My best friends ex committed suicide within a year of their breakup. I suspect to justify her life circumstances, she will put up with more then I ever did. My ex and my best friend will be together for the rest of their dishonourable lives to justify both of their actions.
My ex spent the better part of our relationship being sexually inappropriate to anyone and everyone who would pay attention to him, including 2 of my younger sisters (repeatedly). I don’t worry for one second, they will truly live happily ever after. My best friend sat with me and listened to my confusion and heart break after each caught incident of infidelity.
My problem is, after confiding in my best friend for years, taking family vacations together, and inviting her to every Christmas / Thanksgiving / Easter / birthday party, I also recruited her to my workplace. I see her at my job every day.
Because of my suspicions, the friendship had previously fallen to polite greetings in passing. Since confirmation, our friendship has ended on disgusted looks from me and her avoiding eye contact with me. I am unwilling to risk my career and professional license by acknowledging this at work or by overtly sharing my situation with our mutual coworkers.
I like my job. It’s rewarding. It provides me the daytime / weekday hours that I need to be at home and raise my children. Most jobs in my profession, require shift work, which I am unable manage due to childcare. I don’t feel that I am in the best mental or emotional place to learn a new job. I’m in a specialty area that I’ve spent almost 20 years learning and becoming good at.
Am I ridiculous for trying to wait my best friend out with hopes that some sense of shame and dignity will inspire her into finding a new job? Or do you think I’m going to eventually lose the never-ending head game of “f” the ex over?
Dear Doubly Chumped,
I hear all your reasons for wanting to keep your job, and they’re valid. But something has to give. Either you tell someone at your workplace what’s going on, or you look for a new job and childcare. Seeing as you’re still working out a settlement, I’d have your ex pay for those childcare and job-finding costs.
Expecting the woman who fucked your husband to Do The Right Thing is delusional. I’m sorry. She clearly isn’t capable of shame or dignity. This whole situation is so transgressive and fucked up, I’d run screaming away from it and build a new life.
You still have to co-parent with the creeps and that’s ENOUGH. I wouldn’t want her in my workplace too. It might be that you have great powers of detachment and can do it. You might be locked in a battle with the OW of You Shat On My Whole Life YOU CANNOT HAVE MY FUCKING JOB TOO. I still think the winning move is to quit the game and walk away.
It’s not fair. It’s not just. But either you become the subject of gossip and pity if you disclose, or you have to nod at your trigger in the hallway every day. I don’t care how much Trust That They Suck you’ve internalized, that’s a shit sandwich you do not have to eat.
I tend to think of these cheating characters in one’s life as nuclear waste. It’s Chernobyl. You close the perimeter and never revisit. You put that shit in a container and seal and bury it for a thousand years. You avoid exposure to save yourself from radioactive poisoning. You’re asking me how much ticking on the Geiger counter can you endure? My answer: GET AWAY FROM WHAT KILLS YOU.
You’re taking mental health leave! It’s not fair, it’s not just, but start looking at other jobs. I know that’s not the answer you want. I suppose the other option here is disclosure. Tell HR what is going on. Okay, but they can’t make this freak lose her job because she’s a terrible human being. Maybe they could re-assign her to Siberia? I suppose that’s worth an ask. As professionals, they aren’t going to tell anyone.
A chump fantasy might be to tell a co-worker, word spreads, and the OW is so reviled and shunned that she looks for another job. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Most coworkers don’t want the particulars of anyone’s messy tragedies or abuse. There are widgets that need manufacturing. And while some may have compassion, there are other who might shrug or befriend this freak, and who needs that shit?
If you persist in your job, remember, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I think you’re pretty clear on that. The woman who should wear ashes and sackcloth is the OW. The fact that she traumatized two people closest to her from betrayal, one to his death, should bury her in shame. But it won’t. She’ll just carry on — and THAT is what I’m asking you to get away from. That mind bending indifference.
Now, to your ex.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this man tried to co-opt those closest to you — your best friend and your two younger sisters — into being his fuckbuddies. That’s an A-level sicko there. Sure, there’s an inherent laziness of cheaters to hunt the grounds closest to them, but this also strikes me as deliberate malice. The extreme trauma this would inflict on you. The humiliation of your unknowingness. You are well rid of this monster.
And the OW, another creeper. She seems to have wanted your life. Your kids. Your job. Now that horror show is hers. I’m sure she believes in her exceptionalism. (That never ends well.) But imagine being so devoid of personality and character that assuming and usurping another’s life appeals to you?! What an empty elevator shaft she is.
Doubly Chumped, I’m so sorry this happened to you. The OW may insinuate herself into your kids’ lives, they have no choice in that, but no one will ever replace you in their hearts. You’re their mom, the sane parent, the true parent. This is just a window in time. Parenting is a long arc. The kids won’t have a fuller picture for a very long time.
You can’t control the OW’s presence in their life — but you can practice no contact. You can build a new life free from these horrible people and refuse them mental real estate eventually. (Not now, of course. The trauma is fresh. You’re going to process this for ages. Sorry.)
Don’t let your ex’s impression management get to you. That’s all he has. That’s all she has. Veneer.
You have substance. You have heart. You’re the true parent. That’s the winning hand.