Revenge – A Dish Best Served While Pointing and Laughing

PUNISHER

I receive so many emails from readers asking how to get back at their ex.  So many people tell me that while my approach helps, it’s just not enough.  Sometimes you just feel like you need revenge.  I completely agree.  So many quit therapy because their therapist constantly says to, “not let it in.”  Well, why didn’t I think of that?  I didn’t realize it was so easy!  With that in mind, I no longer need you.

I get it, you don’t want to respect their new spouse.  You don’t want to hear from the kids about how great your ex is doing, and how fabulous the new husband or wife is.  How all they do is take them places and buy them things.  Meanwhile, you are left doling out punishments, running to Michael’s praying it doesn’t close because your idiot kid didn’t tell you they had a project due in 30 seconds, and that you can’t afford to buy them all those things because you don’t make as much as their household.  It sucks.

All you do actually want to do is drunk dial them, and tell them where they can stick their social media photos of their last “family vacation,” which depict a family that you are no longer a part of.  You want to slash tires and put Nair into that bitch’s shampoo bottle.  You simultaneously hope he gets fired so he will be less smug, but also realize you cannot survive without the child support. Basically, every time you see her, you hope she trips and does real damage to her stupid face.

I really do get it.  All that said, I love you guys and really don’t want you to get arrested, or worse, lose your kids for doing something you cannot take back.  If you are reading this, then your kids are important to you, and you are trying. Don’t let the assholes get the best of you.  More importantly, don’t give them the satisfaction.

The best way to get back at them, is excel and exude confidence.  

I do not mean to go post endless pictures on Facebook of how “blessed” you are.  In case you don’t know, no one believes that shit.  Simply live your life.  While things are different, and you may miss some things, I would bet money that there are many things you DON’T miss and are glad to be rid of.  You are a viable person, and as the mother or father, you are irreplaceable.

You want to mindfuck your ex and their new significant other?  Walk into a room like you don’t care that they are there.  Wave to acknowledge him/her/them, or even go say, “hello,” if you think you can do it without “accidentally” stomping her foot with your stilettos.  [Sidenote:  Unless you can wear those without falling on your ass (I can’t), do not wear them while trying to look confident.  Many women look like a baby giraffe learning to walk.  This is a bad plan.]  Talk to people you know.  Interact with your kids.  If you don’t know anyone, invite a friend along. That way, you don’t end up feeling like an ass while you’re pretending to look at something on your phone because you have nothing else to occupy you.

Basically, fake it until you make it.

Eventually, and I know it doesn’t feel like it now, you really won’t care. Revenge won’t be a high priority anymore. You will go say, “hi,” because why not?  They are just some other people you know at this event.  You will chat with friends without constantly checking to see if he/she/they are looking at you.  You won’t care because this is another chapter of your life, and it’s OK that it doesn’t include them.  You will be confident, and it won’t be an act anymore.  You will laugh when they are petty or overly concerned with what you are doing.  You will be amused when they do something stupid, and the kids report back a less than perfect outlook (which you will never let your kids know you think is amusing).  Am I saying to revel in someone else’s pain?  Of course not!

OK, maybe a little….

Just Let It Go

Maxfield-Parrish-Ecstasy

I am NEVER going to tell you not to let it in or just don’t let it bother you.  People can be assholes and while I agree that there are more students than yogis, I’m not zen enough to simply not let people’s bad behavior bother me.

You are allowed to have your rant, let it all out, and get mad.  Bitch about it and scream into your pillow.  Call your best friend and discuss what so-and-so did, why they are a jerk, and how their mommy dresses them funny.  Have too much ice cream and use language that would make your grandmother cringe.  Feel it and express it, but then you have to learn to let it go.

“Holding onto anger is like holding onto a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one that gets burned.”  ~Buddha

The people around you are going to hurt you.  People do shitty things because they are insecure, because they want to feel important, because they don’t know any better, and because they legitimately want to hurt you sometimes.  They demonstrate bad behavior for so many reasons.  Please, allow me to validate you here….You have every right to get mad about it, to allow it to hurt your feelings, and wish the circumstances were different.

That being said, staying angry only hurts you.  Anger will rot you faster than cancer.  They are not the ones losing sleep at night being upset.  They are not using their limited amount of time and energy to dwell on the situation.  You have a limited amount of time and energy with which to spend and expend on this planet.  Only you choose how you spend it.

Whether you are holding onto your children too tight and need to relinquish the worry and control (which is only an illusion anyway).  Whether you need to move on from a past hurt.  Whether you are holding out for your ex to finally understand you.  Whether you need to release yourself from a relationship that is crushing your spirit (we are little old for frenemies, guys).  No matter what you are holding onto, you need to let it go.  You are only hurting yourself and who the hell has time for that anyway?

Stop Comparing Yourself

Edited Don't Trust Happy People

I know I’ve mentioned this briefly before but it is important enough that the topic deserves its own post.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  They are only showing you what they want you to see.  I cannot remember where I read this but some very intelligent writer wrote, “Stop comparing your every day, to others’ highlight reel.”

This makes perfect sense.  The trouble with social media is that we are constantly inundated with every moment of every person’s life that we choose to “friend” or “connect”, even if we barely know them.  I don’t have a Facebook account so I have threatened to simply walk around and shout updates.  “I’m having a bowl of cereal!”  “My kid did something cute!”  “I’m stuck in traffic!”

The point is, people want other people’s approval.  They show you their cool vacation photos, but leave out that they fought with their spouse the whole time.  They post cute photos of their kid but fail to mention this was the only good shot before little Carter (why do so many kids have last names as first names lately?) threw a gargantuan fit and his face was too red and his eyes were too swollen to get any other decent shots.  They show off their new home but hide the fact that they eat Ramen many nights per week because they couldn’t really afford it, though it makes for a nice Christmas card.

I’m not throwing stones here.  I’ve done it and so have you.  Everyone has.  The problem is that we, as a society, cultivate an environment of perfectionism when nothing could be farther from the truth.  Ask anyone how they are and the answer is, “great!”.  No one is freaking great all the time.  No one’s kids are always cute (my goal at 6:30AM is simply to make them look “not homeless” for school….I’m not aiming high here).  No one’s marriage is perfect, because well, people are annoying and you and your spouse are no exception.

When you co-parent or parent at all, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other parents.  That kid doesn’t look like a ragamuffin, that mother had time to do her hair (usually….because nanny), he runs a successful business, they never have to remind their children to say “thank you”, EVERY FREAKING TIME, that kid gets better grades, that mom had time to make her own baby food, and the list goes on and on.  You can cure that by spending time with other people’s children.  Just when I’m ready to kill my girls, I hang out with someone else’s kids.  I realize, at least my kid doesn’t do THAT.  More importantly though, you see that while you are noticing what that parent has that you don’t or what that kid excels in that yours doesn’t, you realize that you are better in other things and your kid is better at some things as well.

I cannot afford to put my kids in a bunch of activities so I don’t have a baseball star.  But I do bake/cook with my kids every week and we garden together.  I do let them pick ONE activity per season and I go to every game.  Our house is not the cleanest but it is very well-organized and my kids can always find what they need.  I know that sometimes you just have to SHOW UP.  I have to constantly remind my children to say “please” and “thank you” but I they never throw temper tantrums that I see other kids their age throw and I’ve never seen them pass someone who looks upset or hurt without helping them or trying to make them smile.  We don’t always have everything we want, but we always have everything we need and I’m OK with that.

What does this mean for you?  Stop comparing yourself to others, especially their social media feeds because it’s all bullshit.  Put real emphasis on learning to appreciate the things you are good at and improve your self-esteem.  High self-esteem is actually knowing you’re not perfect, and liking yourself anyway.  See yourself through your kids’ eyes.  They love you unconditionally and think you’re awesome.  Unless of course you have teenagers in which case they think you’re an idiot (but not really, they just act like it).  Be happy for your friends and family without feeling inferior.  Everyone is fighting a tough battle because we are ALIVE, and life is tough.  If that doesn’t work?  Then drink wine and revel in how fat the hot chicks and how bald the popular guys from high school got.

You Have One Life and You Have a Right To Live It

Life is Short Edited

Everyone knows you love your children.  Everyone knows you wish your marriage had worked out.  Not because you necessarily could see yourself being with that person anymore.  Probably because you wish you didn’t have to share your children, because no one gets married hoping to get divorced, and/or you may feel you failed at something.  Everyone knows you work hard to make everything function.  And if they don’t?  Fuck ’em.  Yes, yes, I’m already cussing (“live so the other Christians wonder if you’ve been saved” – Dr. Brown).

Here’s what you need to know….you also get to have a life outside of what was, what might have been, and what others expect.  No one expects you to mourn forever.  You have one life.  Stop proving how hard you work and how much you love your kids, we know.  Anyone who sees your Facebook page with a picture of EVERYTHING YOUR CHILDREN DO, knows you love your kids.  <—–Sorry, I had to make a Facebook joke here, I don’t care that someone I don’t remember from 6th grade is having a bowl of cereal.  And oh look!  They took a picture, because apparently we need evidence of his sugar bomb fruit circles.

Only we can live our lives and we only have one shot at it.

My ex texted me after our split and I quote, “thank you for giving me my life back”.  He said this while riding a motorcycle with his friends and learning to love the things that we jointly forgot how to do while wading through diapers, late utility bills, and sleepless nights.

While you are building your children’s self-esteem and teaching them to follow their dreams, are you following yours?  Why as parents do we remember to lead by example until it comes time to teach them that you are a person too, that you have goals and dreams, and most importantly, feelings?

What does this mean for you?  It means you have one life and only you get to live it.  Your children will grow up and go off to live their lives.  We know you love your children and they will ALWAYS be a part of you, no matter where they go.  But if you do it right (no one really wants their 35-year-old son living in their basement, playing World of Warcraft), they will eventually leave the nest.  You get to have a life.  Go live it no matter what anyone thinks.

Don’t Let Them Eat The Brownie Batter

Sperm Edited

There will always be someone who is stronger, smarter, prettier, and more charming (and can walk in heels).  But sometimes, even though I know this, I get something in my head and then realize, long after, that I am a FREAKING IDIOT.

Allow me to provide an example for you.  I used to read every parenting magazine and book I could get my hands on.  Since our mother died young and we were never exposed to children, my sister and I had to completely wing parenting.  I remember reading some things that were helpful and some that I was just glad I didn’t have to deal with such as, “How to keep your toddler from smearing poo on their walls at naptime”.  YAY!  One bullet dodged.

I once read an article about ideal foods for children.  It actually explained not to let your children eat raw eggs or raw meat.  I remember thinking “no shit, thanks.”  I even remember talking to my sister about how I was done with parenting reading material because it wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know.

I still remember reading this article and feeling superior.  But again, I’m an idiot.  Fast forward, and I am baking brownies with my daughters.  Once they were in the oven, the girls happily licked the spoon and cleaned out the bowl, just as we did when we were kids.  As they ran off to clean themselves up, I was wiping down the counters and guess what I remembered?  WE ADDED 2 UNCOOKED EGGS TO THE BROWNIE BATTER THAT THEY JUST ATE.  That’s right, superiority destroyed.  Apparently they do have to tell people not to let their children eat raw eggs because there are people as dumb as myself out there.

No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.  Pointing out others’ mistakes only serves to make yourself feel superior.  No one needs that.  So do your ex, your children, and most importantly yourself a favor and let it go.  My children didn’t die and the next time we baked, I admitted my mistake and explained why they couldn’t lick the spoon.  They learned some important lessons:

  1. Mommy doesn’t know everything (no one does) and she isn’t afraid to admit that
  2. To admit your mistakes when you are wrong
  3. To always offer an explanation as to why you are changing your mind not just because you “said so”

What does this mean for you?  I know I am always telling you to go easy on your ex and you should.  But don’t forget to go easy on yourself as well.  Everyone messes up.  You are human.  Besides, being right all the time isn’t realistic.  Your kids need to see that you are fallible as well.  You are their role model, and they need to know that you are not perfect and you do not expect them to be.

Love is Not Finite

Sloth Edited

Love is not a limited resource.  I know adults who still have not learned this and it’s very sad (and annoying).  The result is someone who feels threatened for absolutely no reason.

These individuals can be identified in many ways.  The most common is that they use titles when you know exactly who they are referring to.  My friend, my mom, my dad, my brother, etc.  Yes thank you, we just had dinner last week, I know who “your friend” is.  They do this because they have to point out that they are “theirs”.  Note: If you know me personally and do this, I may punch you in the face.  Stop it.  You are probably cuter/can walk up stairs without being winded/more charming/have a better ass/can walk in heels/smarter (I could go on), than me.  NO ONE should be threatened by me.

Just because your kid, parent, or friend loves someone in their lives, does not take away from their love for you.

No one is going to say, “I’m sorry but I can only love 10 people.  If you want my love, Herman here, has to go to make room.  It’s OK, he always smelled like cigarette smoke and invaded my personal space anyway.”

This is especially true for your children.  You are their parent.  No matter how much your child loves their other parent, they will always love you.  They may not like you, but they will always love you.  You do not need to be threatened.

Hanging on to your children to make them love you will push them away.  It will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Remember, your kids love both their parents and step-parents (if applicable) and loving them, doesn’t take away from their love for you.  Whether you’re the sperm or the egg, your role is important.