I’m writing in hopes of finding some fresh advice. Quick backstory: My story is the same old, same old. Multiple D-days, lots of love-bombing on his part, lots of pick-me dancing on my part, but I eventually found you and got the courage to pursue divorce. We’re divorced, but we have a 3-year-old son together, plus we work for the same school district (different campuses, but that’s only because I requested a campus change), so I have lots of opportunities to practice gray rock and work on achieving meh.
I feel like I’m doing really well overall. I even had a chat with HR when I changed schools, to be sure I could be both honest and appropriate with what I said. There were lots of questions from coworkers about why I just disappeared from one school and reappeared at another, and I have a set of scripts that I default to in those awkward moments, many of which came from you or from CN.
So, here I am looking for more sage advice. Our school district is partnering with a local university to help people in education get their master’s degree. It’s a fabulous program and I applied right away. I got accepted as one of the top candidates and was really excited to finally get a graduate degree… until I found out FW applied at the last minute and also got accepted. It’s a 15-month intensive program, so we will literally be spending 40 hours a week together over the next two summers, plus a day per week during the school year.
I need a way to cope. I’m struggling extra hard with this because I already supported him through a master’s program. He failed out and never got his M.Div. because he was actually spending time with multiple APs instead of going to class or study group. I went to a church that was patriarchal and didn’t support divorce because he got to pick his sponsoring church and boy oh boy wasn’t that convenient for him.
I’m so furious that this is even a situation I’m in. I’ve just rebuilt my life after he burned it all down, can’t I just have this one? I mean, of course not. Why miss an opportunity to try to control me even more? I’m NOT dropping out of the program. He doesn’t get to take this from me too. Thus, my desire to seek advice. How can I walk into class every day all summer and not throat punch him? What strategies can I employ to keep on the path to MEH? How can I gray rock with him in my world so much? What scripts can I use when questions from classmates eventually arise? Help me Chump Lady.
This sounds like the worst aversion therapy ever. How to get over your ex? Spend 40 hours per week in a class room with him for two summers.
I mean, I’m sure this works with spiders… a little stimuli… a little discomfort. Eventually you stop reacting to spiders. But a cheating ex-husband? Ugh.
As you’re set on pursuing this opportunity and furthering your education — totally your right, yay you — you’re going to have to achieve Jedi-level gray rock skills. I hope some CN Jedis weigh in, because honestly I can’t imagine subjecting myself to that much contact unless my child was directly involved in some way.
In fact, I’m trying to imagine a scenario that would entice me. Aretha Franklin is raised from the dead and wants to sing a concert just for me? And I can sit at her knee? But FW is invited too? I’m sorry Aretha, you have to go back to the heavenly chorus. I can’t do it.
You’re a stronger person. And your fervor for higher education speaks really well of you. I’m sure it will pay dividends for your career.
Now, about your crappy ex. He’s really having his turd-in-the-punchbowl moment, isn’t he?
I’m so furious that this is even a situation I’m in. I’ve just rebuilt my life after he burned it all down, can’t I just have this one?
No. How could he resist so much centrality?
Look, this is a guy who dropped out of grad school already. And dropped out of marriage. Chances are he cannot sustain this commitment either.
Your job is to give him ZERO kibbles. No contact high of reaction. And with any luck he’ll bore of the effort.
Still, you have to go in there and tolerate him in the meantime. Strategies, strategies… Some thoughts.
1.) Can you confide in anyone? Do you know anyone else on this course besides him? You need a buffer. Your own tribe. I have no idea how large these classes will be, or how intimately small, but one snarky friend could go a long way here. With that much coursework and togetherness, you’re bound to make your own friend circle that doesn’t include him.
2.) Remind yourself how utterly irrelevant he is. You have a new life. You’re not the person who used to contort herself into pleasing shapes to win a FW. You know what he is — a loser. A Jesus cheater who needs the patriarchy to prop up his dick. Write “Trust That He Sucks” on your forearm each day before you head into class. He’s not someone you have to trifle with. Yes, even if you bred with him. He can be adjacent to your life — he’s not IN your life. Unless you let him. Do NOT let him.
3.) Be awesome at your studies. Nothing succeeds like success. Enjoy crushing him in the academic arena. Get your own kibbles. He’ll hate it. (Not that his feelings matter.)
Now let’s do scripts.
What scripts can I use when questions from classmates eventually arise?
You don’t owe anyone an explanation, for starters. Of course, he can go in there all chummy and set you up as the Cold, Hard Bitch (see also I Fail to Understand Your Hostility.) But I think a sort of Bless Your Heart nonchalance works here. Southern women have perfected this. A kind of withering disdain that oozes politesse. Well, he tries. Isn’t that sweet for such a slow child?
Donald says you used to be married.
Bless his heart.
Then change the subject to the syllabus.
Of course, if I were in this position, I’d probably go all Cassandra/truth-teller. “That’s nice, Donald. Are you going to rate this professor the way you rate your hookers?”
He is chancing it that you don’t expose him as the pathetic dickdribble that he is.
Let him live in fear. Good luck with your studies.