How Much Do You Babble about Your Ex?
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.)
After a financially ruinous divorce, one man can’t stop babbling about his unfaithful ex-wife. The goal must be to let go of bitterness and move forward in strength.
Courtesy of Match.com’s “ASK DR. GILDA” column, Happen Magazine
Dear Dr. Gilda,
My ex-wife started investing in crazy schemes without discussing them with me, and we landed in huge debt. The money was one thing, but I was furious that she disrespected me by making financial decisions alone. Our stress snowballed into her leaving her job, doing nothing around the house, going out with her friends every night, having an affair, and giving her boyfriend thousands of dollars of our remaining money. Now that I’m single again, I want to know whether I’m having a self-esteem meltdown, or just going through the regular grieving process. On dates, all I do is talk about my ex.
Ready to Move On
Your feelings are understandable, although let’s agree that they’re doing you no good. You’re in a rage — as are many people suffering the fallout from a divorce. Apply this Gilda-Gram to bring perspective into your world: “Anyone living and breathing will occasionally be betrayed.” Sometimes betrayal takes the form of being unfairly fired from a job. Other times, your back betrays you by going out of alignment (and, of course, it’s right before a hot date!). Still other times, the person you love, depend on, and vowed to spend your life with runs off with someone else. No matter what its form, betrayal hurts, and it hurts badly!
But your ex’s actions will not cause you to deteriorate — unless you allow them to affect you. Either you can feel sorry for yourself and become the perpetual victim, or you can decide to become the victor, anticipating a glimmering lining for your current dark cloud. Continuing to talk about your ex is evidence that you’re playing the victim. Note the victim’s rallying cry: “Life sucks!” In (brighter) contrast, victors believe: “My ex didn’t betray me; she freed me for a better life.” So, Ready, are you a victor or a victim?
Of course you’re having a self-esteem meltdown right now. When someone turns on us, unenlightened people unwittingly ask themselves, “What did I do wrong?” They accept all the blame and take the betrayal personally. Does this feel like familiar ground? If so, let’s enlighten you!
Betrayal has less to do with the betrayed than it does with the betrayer. For example, your wife’s secret investments were her way of scrambling for independence, obviously thinking she had little choice. Her feelings of insignificance were her issues, not yours. She even thought she needed to “buy” a boyfriend! That’s pitiful, and the hallmark of gross insecurity. The major thing you can fault yourself for is not having perceived her self-destructive flaws earlier. But don’t fret; every life path can be rerouted.
This is what I suggest you do next:
1. Get counseling. Recent research shows that people don’t necessarily need the kind of extensive and expensive therapy they sought in the past. More therapists seem to be taking my lead and instituting the kind of phone and online advice counseling options I have set up on my website. Find such a therapist who can quickly get to the heart of your issue, so you can just as quickly enjoy your life.
2. You signed off as “Ready to Move On,” but I’m not sure you are. Test your readiness by listing how often you act out the role of victim or victor in your life.
3. By all means, allow yourself time to grieve the loss of what you had. Self-esteem meltdowns and grieving are part of divorce recovery, and they need to be respected and experienced as part of the process.
There’s no hurry to move on until you know for sure you’re truly “Ready.” Become kinder to yourself than your ex was to you, and demonstrate self-care without apology. Then you can savor the partners you attract who reinforce your good feelings about who you’ve finally become!
DR. GILDA CARLE (Ph.D.) is an internationally known psychotherapist, relationship educator, and management consultant. She is Match.com’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist. She is also known as the Country Music Doctor, with her “Country Cures.” She is a motivational speaker, professor of psychology & communications, the author of the well-known “Don’t Bet on the Prince!,” a test question on “Jeopardy,” AND NOW IN ITS SECOND EDITION, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity, How to Win When Your Mate Cheats, and many more. She was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old that his mom died in the World Trade Center bombing. She is currently developing her own TV show. Visit www.DrGilda.com and get her Instant Advice!