First of all, thank you for curating this resource; it’s been invaluable to feel less alone throughout this incredibly isolating experience!
FW and I had been dating each other since I was seventeen (I’m now twenty-five, and we recently separated this past summer after a miserable year of marriage).
I’ve suffered from depression and an eating disorder (EDNOS/OSFED) since puberty, but I’ve always been “functional” — I paid my way through two degrees with scholarships (while he barely graduated with constant funding from his parents), and I’ve finally found myself a rewarding job in academia (while it doesn’t pay much, I feel so optimistic about the future). With lots of effort, I’ve also maintained a healthy weight, and my savings were the reason we were able to buy a house together a few years back.
However, to hear him talk about me, you’d think I’m a CRAZY, deadbeat, frigid bitch who gets paid in hugs and loose cigarettes and cruelly refuses sex at every turn. I knew about his cheating for at least five years, but I stayed because he insisted no one could love someone as broken as me.
I know, with some level of objectivity, that he probably has narcissistic personality disorder, and that this was gaslighting/manipulation/emotional abuse.
I have accepted that he will probably always think I’m crazy.
However, what is driving me insane is that this “crazy, frigid bitch” persona is what’s being spread to his new flings, and to a horrid female friend of his (who is a licensed therapist!!!!) who has always egged on his cheating. I had found texts between them where she:
- told him I was “acting out” by seeing someone new once we had separated (God forbid I try to find a sliver of happiness in a casual relationship after years of horrid, lonely sex with a narcissist);
- informed him I must not have wanted sex with him because of my body image issues (and not because he cheated on me compulsively and refused any feedback on his boring sexual performances — sex with him involved me literally squeezing my eyes shut and reciting Hamilton lyrics in my head until he came)
- generally encouraged him to be a piece of shit to someone who was emotionally vulnerable, despite herself being a MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
This woman has been in my house. She babysat my cats during my wedding. She lives down the street from me. I don’t give a crap if FW thinks I’m insane, but to have a therapist seemingly affirm that I’m crazy? To know that there are people in my immediate neighborhood who think I’m suicidal, unstable, hysterical? I don’t know how to cope with that. I know I shouldn’t care. She doesn’t ever have to be in my life again. But, yet, I still care. How do I stop?
Please stop caring. She thinks you’re crazy? Consider the source — a “friend” of your cheating STBX. She’s no greater arbiter of your sanity than I’m a tuna casserole.
Oh, right, she’s a Mental Health Professional. Who has never been your therapist.
Shrinks aren’t infallible like popes. (Actually, I don’t believe in the infallibility of popes or shrinks.) Unfortunately, some therapists are absolutely atrocious. Esther Perel case in point. See my archives for tales of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex.
But before I go on a tear about professional standards, victim-blaming, and strip-mall sex addiction therapy degrees, let’s take a closer look at your cat sitter.
Ten-to-one she’s a fuckbuddy. How do I know this? (Aside from reading a gazillion of these stories for years…) Well, your husband is a serial cheater. He’d screw anything with a pulse. At the very least he is having an emotional affair with this freak. Otherwise, what? She’s just a friendly neighborhood pro bono shrink? Who listens to his marriage woes for free? And throws in pet sitting?
No, someone that intimately in your space, conspiring about your “issues,” and egging him on in his abuse of you — that’s a side chick. Or someone pick-me dancing for the chance to be one.
I understand why you’re furious — she’s wrapping her abuse in a veneer of “professional opinion.” Trying to give it greater weight than the nonsense that it is.
Please take a big, cynical step back. History is replete with examples of abusive, blameshifting Mental Health Professionals. Schizophrenia is caused by cold mothers. Single, unwed mothers are mentally unfit and must have their children adopted out. Lobotomies.
Before I am besieged with comments, I’m not saying all therapy is worthless. I’m saying therapists are prone to cultural, institutional, and personal biases like the rest of us. And at the end of the day, the final arbiter of your worth is YOU.
ANC, you’re a functional adult who overcame an eating disorder. You saved money to buy a home. You worked hard to get scholarships. You got a great job. The cheese has not slipped off your cracker, okay?
Where you seem to struggle, IMO, is looking to other people to validate you.
I knew about his cheating for at least five years, but I stayed because he insisted no one could love someone as broken as me.
Oh fuck him. Why does he get to judge how lovable you are? Stop giving him the power to determine your worth. Same with Dr. FrankenFriend. Look at all you’ve accomplished! Stop internalizing “broken” and examine the evidence: BADASS.
A couple of garbage cheaters don’t like you?
Let it go!
Forgive the Taylor Swift-isms. I know it hurts like a mofo, and it’s been a waste of your young life thus far, but kid, you’re going places. Finalize that divorce and eject these people from your life (and headspace).
No tag backs, Dr. Twatwaffle. They can do it on her shrink sofa with boring repetition.
there are people in my immediate neighborhood who think I’m suicidal, unstable, hysterical? I don’t know how to cope with that.
See a pattern here? The neighbors’ validation of your worth doesn’t matter either.
You cope by continuing to exist as a sane, stable person going about your ordinary life. We don’t control what other people think. Anyone who believes their lies in the face of your evident character isn’t worth knowing.
Godspeed on the divorce, ANC. ((Hugs))