My daughter will be graduating from college in a month and I’m kinda dreading the day because I’m feeling pressure to interact with my ex and the woman who replaced me.
I hate to report that after 10 years I can still be wobbly at “meh”. Up to now we have done other events and ceremonies separately. We are not doing a party or dinner together, but there is a reception that we will both be at with refreshments and pictures to be taken.
I have never been face to face with the woman who helped turn my life upside down. I’m afraid that seeing her will set me back because I will compare myself to her or see how happy they are together. Generally, I feel like I’m doing well and am happy in my life but unfortunately I can still be rattled if I think about them too much. I’m afraid I could get emotional and I don’t want to lose it in front of my daughter and ruin her day.
Is it time to suck it up and mingle with them? What should I do?
You should hold your head up high and enjoy your daughter’s college graduation. You should also reframe this entire clusterfuck. It’s been a decade of avoiding her. She’s got boogeyman status now. Time to defang the fuckwit.
I’m kinda dreading the day because I’m feeling pressure to interact with my ex and the woman who replaced me.
She didn’t replace you. You got a life and she won a cheater. A creep, a liar, a person with lousy life skills. She’s not enviable. They’re not “winning,” because you are above this competition. RIGHT?
I’m unclear on the specifics of the “pressure to interact.” Is this coming from your daughter? It’s a reception. Can you bring a plus-one? A human buffer? A really snarky friend?
This guy is the energy you want.
As much as possible, I’d try to get the game plan ahead of time. If you don’t want to be in a picture with your ex and Schmoopie, say so. But don’t spring it on your daughter on her big day. Get this conversation out of the way. My friend, a high-end wedding photographer, tells me these sorts of requests are very common.
I’m sure CN has endured these sorts of encounters and can offer tips and scripts. In my opinion (as you asked me), I think there are rare, high occasions in which, as the sane parent, you must eat the shit sandwich and co-exist in public with your ex and his or her attendant satellites. Weddings, funerals, graduations. Essentially, any place with an open bar.
Don’t set the expectation at “mingle” or “interact.” Set it at “Do not vomit on their shoes.” You don’t have to be besties with these people. You have to regard them with polite indifference. A nod of acknowledgment across a crowded room. A grip and grin with your daughter and her diploma. That’s all.
I’m afraid that seeing her will set me back because I will compare myself to her
You control that. Don’t compare yourself to her. Do you really want to be someone who has less moral sense than God gave badgers?
Shore yourself up, woman. What are your values? What do you respect in people? Does Schmoopie possess those qualities? Is this anyone you have an ounce of admiration for?
So what if her hair is glossier than yours, or she has a thigh gap, or a trust fund. She’s a shitty person. He’s a shitty person. Bad character cannot be eclipsed by boob jobs and dental veneers.
or see how happy they are together.
You have NO IDEA if they’re happy. Shallow people may present as “happy” — but how deep can it be? In any case, IT DOES NOT MATTER if they’re deliriously enraptured with each other (doubtful) or if they despise one another, because your happiness isn’t dependent on their misfortune. We don’t get karmic comeuppances on demand. You have your own life.
This “They’re happy! I’ve LOST!” is misery of your own making. It’s continuing the pick me dance long after you should’ve left that toxic disco. Stop it.
I’ve written here about my Grandma Vi, the Queen of Mean. I’m sending you her mojo. I inherited some of her nice furniture and fine jewelry, but also a deep inner bitch. Please summon your bitchiest ancestor. Whenever I answer these sort of letters, I think “What Would Vi Do?”
My grandmother was rather narcissistic. But she wouldn’t collapse in on herself with fits of self-loathing either. I imagine she’d stub a cigarette out on Schoompie’s tacky handbag. “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought it was some sort of receptacle.” Upon introduction, she’d probably airily ask Schmoops to put more ice in her drink.
We rail against narcissists here, but we could take a few pages from their playbooks. They don’t make themselves small. Or suffer apoplexies of self-doubt. They just own the room.
I could go all hand-holding on this post. Tell you that your ex and his whatever hurt you, and you’ll wear those wounds forever, and maybe you do — but don’t show it. Don’t give them that satisfaction. Own the room.
You earned it. This is your daughter. She got through college. You got through raising her. Rejoice.
Don’t let fuckwits steal your joy.
Not when they could be putting more ice in your drink.