My soon-to-be-ex (“Ted”) and I had an agreement we would tell each other before we introduced our minor daughter (“Amy”) to anyone we may be dating. Of course that didn’t happen.
Ted, this woman, and Amy have spent time together twice and he didn’t tell me. I found out because he texted me yesterday that he was “bringing someone” to Amy’s Christmas play. I asked him,
“What is Amy going to think if she sees you there with another woman? This is a very important play and your choice could throw off her concentration.”
I might have called him thoughtless.
It was then he told me she already knew this woman is coming and she’s spent time with her before. I just lost it, and he tried to weasel his way out of admitting that we’d had that agreement.
I have wanted to divorce him for years. He is a lying, manipulative asshole and apparently that hasn’t changed. I acknowledge my pride is hurt and I feel sorrow because he has moved on so quickly and I’m not ready for anything like that yet. I need to spend some time figuring stuff out on my own.
He says it’s nothing but a friendship, and Robin, I don’t care if he’s banging her six times a day. I care that it bothers me that he has once again proved himself untrustworthy. I don’t want to care! But I fucking hate being lied to, and I am spending way more energy on this than I want to.
This touches so many sore spots from our marriage–lying, manipulation, twisting language, and always putting himself first–and I know I’m reacting out of old wounds. AND I DONT WANT TO.
How do I let go of caring if this asshole lies and is thoughtless?
Fuming in Farmington
Let’s break this blog down into two sections.
1. Your “agreement” with Ted.
That Was Dumb
Your daughter is a junior in high school, not a toddler who is easily confused. If either of you want to introduce your fresh fucks to your kid, the person you should check with is Amy.
I see these bargains negotiated all the time and in essence they boil down to this:
“I want to continue to exert influence over your life after we divorce.”
Divorce is expensive because it’s worth it, and one reason it’s worth it is so that bitch/jerk can’t tell you what to do anymore.
I stretched my brain to understand what justification you could have for this deal (besides being nosy, self righteous, and controlling) and I came up empty. This is especially true since you told me your daughter is doing well and doesn’t seem to mind meeting the new “friend.”
Before you think I’m insulting you, I’m not. You know that because you yourself identified that Amy meeting this woman isn’t really your issue. You’re one smart cookie, you know that? Stop doing my job for me!
2. Second things second: what’s really going on.
Controlling Your Emotions (good luck with that)
You asked me, “How do I let go of caring…?”
What a wonderful world this would be if we could simply press a button to either engage happy feelings or disengage those that bring us anxiety, grief, and anger. But it’s not a wonderful world and humans have not evolved to that point yet, so you are stuck with your primordial brain and its irrational operations.
Your letter was so familiar to my some of my own experiences. I emailed you:
“I’m so sorry. I used to despise when someone I didn’t respect or value in any way made me feel hurt and angry. Does that make sense?
“When I’m angry at people I love I don’t have that feeling but when I’ve heard some stupid bitch/former good friend who never accomplished anything in her life has been trash talking me (yes, that BS still happens) I used to feel exactly the way you do. Am I getting it?”
“Yes, you are absolutely getting it. And the fact that you started your email the way you did made me cry! Thanks for caring.”
For both of us, the problem is rooted in our former positive relationships with and expectations of these people. So what do we do?
You Can’t Control Emotions, but You Can Control Expectations.
We may find these people reprehensible now, but we’ve neglected to eliminate our expectations of them that were held during the good times: namely that they be decent human beings who respect our feelings and, to put it bluntly, not be fucking assholes.
You know your husband is not the man you thought he was when you married him, so adjust your expectations of him accordingly.
Specifically: adjust them down to zero. That way you’ll never be disappointed again and you may be pleasantly surprised when he isn’t a dick.
I’m reminded of those who complain time and time again about the shitty weatherman who never gets it right, but they keep tuning in and planning picnics around his forecasts. It’s as if these folks enjoy the disappointment for the sheer pleasure of denigrating the weatherman for being who he is: a terrible meteorologist who is quite handsome and thus employed.
Change the channel and stop expecting accurate information from the Hippy Dippy Weatherman.*
If you are thinking, “Easier said than done, Robin!” you are rejecting my simple-yet-effective advice because despite everything you wrote about this man above, you still hold out hope that he isn’t the man he is.
Let it go by practicing ATAM, or “Animosity-to-Apathy Meditation.”
It’s quite effective, trust me. Here are your instructions:
- Write a list of every shitty mendacious thing your husband ever did. This may take time, but really sit and concentrate until you think your list is comprehensive and reflective of objective reality, not just your version of it.
- Gather your ream of paper and your reading glasses. Light a candle and some incense.
- Sit in a quiet spot and silently reflect on each incident of shitty behavior you’ve been witness to all these years until it finally sinks in that your husband is a lying manipulative jerk.
- Once you believe that, accept he is a man who simply should not rise to the level at which your Give-a-Shit impulse is triggered.
- Do not get up from your spot until you truly believe your emotions are owned by you, and not someone you are divorcing. If you are stuck there for a few days that’s fine, but please be sure to wear a diaper and have snacks handy.
- Build a fire and throw your book of disappointment into it. As it burns, enjoy the warmth and freedom that comes from reflection, destruction, and acceptance.
You will not begin to recover from your divorce and thrive until you find peace through indifference, because it is indifference that is the true opposite of love – not hate.
We all know the same truths and our lives depend on how we choose to distort them.
*George Carline routine. If you didn’t know that, I pity you.
PS: Go get laid. You’ll feel better.