He’s rewritten history. He had the affair. He left our family. I had to pick up the pieces and hold the family together. He spent years living very independently from his family with little contact with our children. Now with our adult children and grandchildren, he makes occasional appearances in their lives.
He is trying to tell our adult children that he ‘has no knowledge” of the actual events leading to the divorce. The whole story has changed in his head. It was my fault. I forced him out of the marriage. He didn’t get involved with someone else until after he left. None of that is true. My adult children know that is not true and yet he tried to lie to them. When they challenged him with the truth he backed down and said he was lying without offering any explanation. Why would he do that? How can he do that? What is the point of confusing the issue now?
You cannot change his thinking. Start at that point. Anything you say will not change it. He has developed a revisionist family history as many do to create themselves as the victim. It suppresses any guilt that may have built over the years. Chances are he is surrounded by people who believe what he says. Those people are in his circle of friends and support him.
Truly many people have their own life to deal with and care little whether your former spouse is lying about this or not. His friends are probably not greatly invested in the true divorce story. It all happened several years ago, and they have spent many years listening to his version. It has become the truth in their minds too.
As time has gone by, the people in his life believe his revisionist story because they will have heard the reasoning so many times. Stories like that get polished over time as each seed of doubt about you was planted. Nobody challenged him so the story grew. The real story got lost in the annals of history and his version of the story becomes the truth. You are no longer in his world so you couldn’t defend yourself.
Externalizing the blame is a common defense mechanism. If he blames you for the fact he left his family then that absolves him. It happens in many divorces.
Those are the facts. What can you do?
Without being defensive yourself, remind your children of what really happened. They lived it and there should be enough collective memory to correct his revisionist history, at least for your own family. Your children have probably been through enough pain in the past, don’t let it consume the present.
Beyond that, you will just have to let it go. He will say and do whatever he wants. Lashing out will only make matters worse. Unfortunately, by being defensive and angry, you will look like the person he has created to his friends if you get vindictive.
It is a fact that in many cases, no matter how hard we try to outrun the past, it has a way of showing up. You have spent many years creating a new life and this should not in any way hamper all the personal gains you have made. The effort you make should continue to be on yourself. Your divorce will always be a part of who you are but its effect on your life should be minimal.
Venting with a good friend will help but telling the world won’t help. Most likely the people in your life have already lived it with you once. It is not that they don’t care about you, but life moves on.
Issues like this do open old wounds but only if we let them. Get on with your own life and let him live his-whatever revisionist version of his history he chooses. The people that matter will know the truth.
If you get angry then that is giving up your personal power to him again. It allows him to affect your emotions once more. Do not let that happen because you are the one that will suffer.
It will take a concerted effort to not be hyper-focused on the anger you feel. Shove those negative thoughts away. Think about other things. If anyone mentions it, give the topic very little airplay. Have an answer prepared that is not an angry response, briefly correct the lie, and then move on to something else.
By shifting the focus away from him and his revisionist history, everyone, including you, will benefit.
We are living through difficult times and if your life has been impacted by divorce contact The Divorce Magazine UK for your complimentary divorce coaching session with Linda. She is a divorce coach who is also a traumatic divorce survivor. Her insights and empathy will help you find your path forward to a brighter future. She looks forward to meeting you – firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.