mindfulness in action

How Do You Suffer the Fools and Jerks in Your Life?

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I’ve had a few run-ins with people I didn’t see eye-to-eye with. That’s no big deal. When they hold power and authority over you (a manager, or a vindictive ex-wife with the custodial parent role) you mostly have to hold your own anger and put on your shiny-happy-people face.

When They Hold the Power

My ex-wife could afford to be an asshole to me because she feared no consequence of her actions. Well, until I began to blog about it. Then she freaked the fk out.

writing about divorce

“This is the mother of your children…” That’s funny. Coming from the “this is the father of your children asking you not to file our decree with the AG’s office.”

Ooops. So sorry. Mama needs the money. Or is it, mama is entitled to the money, it says it right there in the divorce papers, and you owe me that money, even if you don’t have a job. I’m going for “enforcement” to punish you for divorcing me. Well, wait… It was HER idea, right?

I’ve also had some really terrible managers. People who clearly do not value the human experience, only the Gantt chart, and their own power to disrupt your life. And disrupt it they can. Once, at a start-up, my manager asked me on DAY 3, “Are you looking for another job?” I was confused. “What are you talking about?” “Well, you took an hour and a half for lunch today.”

He was already concerned that I was looking for a different job. Was he aware how messed up that paranoia was? And then to learn he’s going to be a clock-watcher. We’re executives, her, sir, I don’t me running an errand to Home Depot during lunch is a big deal.

They Are Only *Part* of the Problem

When you enter an al-anon meeting for the first time, you might be hoping that you’re going to get some help with the problem drinker (addict) in your life. But that’s not how it works. The serenity prayer makes it pretty clear. “To accept the things (and people) I cannot change.”

We cannot control the other person. We cannot control many of the circumstances of our jobs, and our financial hardships during a downturn in the economy. We can only control how we respond.

“The courage to change the things I can.”

Yes, we have to have the courage to stand up for what we want. We have to be strong to deal with OUR OWN ISSUES and NOT THE ISSUES OF THE ALCOHOLIC. That’s the pivot. It’s not about the drinker. It’s about our relationship to the drinker. It’s about how we can take care of ourselves. And learning that we can leave when things are no longer tolerable or civil.

My ex-wife WAS a huge source of my pain and discontent. But once the divorce was done, she was just a woman doing her best in a difficult situation. That she took her fear and frustration out on me, well, that’s part of her work. I can’t do it for her. I can’t even refer her back to her therapist when she screams “fuck you” during a heated discussion. I guess she was losing the argument. But she was edgy and a bit feral.

And when she filed with the AG’s office she knew what she was doing. She was going to hurt me in the most fundamental way she could. From that moment forward, for 11-years, my name and credit report contained information about my late payments. Yes, dear ex-wife, my company lost a major client, I’m going to fall a few months behind. But, I’m good for it.”

She would like me to imagine that she was dealing with financial hardships as well. But as I was giving her $1,500 per month and covering the kid’s health insurance, I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for that line of bs. She was not suffering for money. Sure, my two kids loved the BRANDS that their mom loved. They learned shopping as entertainment from my ex-wife. And they might have been complaining about the cost of new Nike AIRs. But my ex-wife was in no danger of falling behind on rent or utilities. My kids never went without a meal, or a vacation, or a summer camp experience.

Again, I have learned that I cannot change her or her actions. I cannot redo the divorce and spend $100,000 that we didn’t have, to fight for the 50/50 shared parenting we had agreed upon. Nope, she knew I would not sue her when she changed her mind and went for 70/30 parenting instead.

Co-Parenting Today and Tomorrow

I am no longer suffering the fools. My managers who tell lies, and who make up false accusations, will now have to explain their side of the facts. “I’m just doing my best here, why are you asking me to do something then going off and doing it yourself?” In the case of my ex-wife, she’s now cutting back on my kid’s college spending money and even rent. I suppose it’s because she’s trying to teach them a lesson about money.

She’s selling the family home, to use the money to remodel her other home. She and her “south park husband” are retired. They’re building a pool on the second home and selling the first home. Well, good for them. But my wife’s frugality with the money is an attempt to get my kids mad at me for not paying. Um, wait, I paid… Over $200k. I asked her to put aside some of the cash for college. Their tuition is paid for. And she wants to nickel and dime both her kids so they pressure me for money.

She’s still on point with the angst she tries to spread to others. And here’s my lesson.

So what. She cannot infect the conversations I have directly with my kids. She can tell them whatever BS she wants about her financial situation, but they both know that she is lying to them too. She had NEVER been hurting for money or threatened. She filed with the AG’s office to punish me. It worked. I am punished. It also hurt our kids, but she won’t ever admit that. And today, she still cannot see how planting discontent on my kids towards me is hurting them more than it’s hurting us. She is actively damaging her own relationship with her kids over MONEY.

Welcome to your mom’s trope, kids.

“And the wisdom to know the difference.”


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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