When is a not-a-chump, a chump?
See, seven months ago, my partner of 21 years, husband of a mere 17 and a half, decided he didn’t want to be married any more. We’d been through and weathered a lot of shit, childlessness and miscarriages accounting for the greater part of the pile. Then around the 40th birthday mark, he began looking for a way out. A couple of years of being increasingly short-tempered and distracted (not taking his ADHD meds – apparently I was the only one with any problems) and he bowed out.
He wanted a ‘separation’ which I stupidly imagined was something a couple negotiated, might seek help to weigh up, and so on. I asked we see a therapist. Apparently a ‘separation’ actually meant he was ‘Done’ — as he announced determinedly five minutes after us meeting said therapist.
I read widely and waited for the inevitable: a Schmoopie to materialise some months down the line, but no. It would seem his other love is just him living like he’s 20 again, in his childhood bedroom. Yes, back home with his similarly Peter Pan-wannabe father. It would be funny if it wasn’t so bloody hurtful.
There really doesn’t seem to be an actual Schmoopie — though I don’t doubt he mentally put himself out there from day one. I think (whispers it) maybe he is his own Schmoopie? Like he’s in love with his new-found old self — fun, no ties, no pesky wife and pesky emotional, grown-up shit to deal with.
Does that make me a Chump?
By the way, your site saved me at a moment when the despair was all-encompassing. I’d been rejected, but for what? I picked myself apart and then, when I suspected there was perhaps an emotional affair going on at the very least, read this: Can I Leave for an Emotional Affair? (If he is his own Schmoopie, does that make him Narcissus?)
Anyway, days later I became the proud owner of an (unfolding) origami swan tattoo, as a reminder that I never should have been folding myself up into ever smaller pieces these two decades. Thank you.
‘Be free. Unfold the Swans.’
The Girl with the Origami Swan Tattoo
Dear The Girl with the Origami Swan Tattoo,
I could not think of a better way to start the New Year than to read you have an origami swan tattoo! I feel so honored!
To any newbies reading, I often describe the chump dynamic of folding yourself into tiny origami shapes and stuffing them into the recesses of your soul. Aka, making yourself small. Not mattering. A great part of un-chumping is reclaiming your rightful space. Remembering that you matter.
What an awesome image to tattoo on yourself. Please send us a picture!
As to whether you’re a chump, hey you have the tattoo and the abandonment. We’re here for support, Schmoopie or no Schmoopie.
(Although I must cynically point out that a lot of chumps thought there was no one else, and it came out much later.)
In any case, rejection sucks. But suddenly, life-altering abandonment perhaps sucks worst of all. What did I do? Was it something I said? How do you not take someone walking out of your life personally?
It’s a big subject, but I’d start with remembering where you begin and the other person ends, and come back to — is this acceptable to me? (There’s a tattoo… I say it often enough…)
Maybe there IS someone else. Maybe he DOES think you suck. Maybe he sees his 21 year investment as complete garbage and prefers to live alone with a bag of Doritos.
Now what? Do you want such a person? Why would you want to keep loving someone who doesn’t love you back? Besides habit.
It would seem his other love is just him living like he’s 20 again, in his childhood bedroom.
Okay, he’s made a unilateral decision to regress. Do you want that in a partner? The adolescence or the imperious decision making?
The only option here is to gain a life. Whether you want a new one, or not. To unfold the swans.
I’d been rejected, but for what?
It doesn’t matter. Figuring out why he rejected you is untangling the skein. Putting a lot of energy into his motivations and perceptions. What he values, how he perceives you. It’s still rejection. It’s what YOU do next that matters.
Let’s say this isn’t a matter of the heart, it’s a job promotion, and you didn’t get it. There may be valid reasons you didn’t get promoted (you’re not qualified). There may be invalid reasons (you’re a woman, they hate your haircut). At the end of the day — you didn’t get the job.
Instead of making yourself miserable second guessing yourself, and relying on their dubious explanations (if any are offered), shore yourself up and ask — was this a good fit? Or, more to the point — do you want to remain at an organization that doesn’t value you?
If that happened, you probably wouldn’t hesitate to look for a new job. Sure, you would examine your strengths and weaknesses, as emotionally mature people do. But you wouldn’t slop over into self-recriminations. I made them reject me! New haircut stat!
Now take that confidence and apply it to this marriage. This guy doesn’t value you. That’s important information. If he’s rejecting you because you can’t have babies — well, find someone who sees you as more than a uterus. Better yet, find yourself. Who are you without this guy’s opinion of your worth?
A guy living with his dad, surrounded by cold, greasy pizza boxes. That guy. Who bailed on you.
You’re not an ugly fuckling. You’re a swan.
Go be a swan.
Happy New Year.