Keeping Your Dignity in the Face of Injustice
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt last week. While I am saddened that six children are in the midst of turmoil, I must admit that a small part of me is perversely pleased by this news.
I say perversely, because I’m a firm believer that you should never, ever rejoice at another person’s suffering, but for the past twelve years, the world watched as Jennifer Aniston was publicly betrayed, humiliated and discarded, in favor of another woman, the other woman being younger, more beautiful, more interesting, more complex – every man’s fantasy.
Angelina Jolie is cool. She’s a humanitarian. She wants to do good things in this world and I really want to like her, but I just don’t. It’s unfair that the world pitted one woman against the other, while Pitt appeared to get through the scandal unscathed, like he was a hapless victim against the seduction of Jolie the temptress.
Even though twelve years have gone by and Aniston has moved on and remarried, she is still being dragged into the Jolie-Pitt fray. The New York Times tastelessly put a picture of a laughing Aniston on its cover, when news of the divorce broke, as if she was consumed with revenge.
This is relevant to us because, in the face of public betrayal and humiliation, Jennifer Aniston stood tall with her dignity intact. She was the wronged party. She was the one who was tossed aside for another. She could have slandered Pitt till tomorrow. She could have sought revenge. She could have started a war. We would have understood. But she didn’t.
She kept her thoughts and feelings to herself and her inner circle, and she went about the business of getting on with her life. This made us love her more. She didn’t let it destroy her, or consume her. She didn’t attack Jolie. She didn’t make egregious accusations, or jump up and down and yell to all who would listen, that Pitt’s morals and character were lacking. She let us figure that out for ourselves and she let it unfold naturally.
Justice is important to us as a species. It seems like it’s innately a part of our DNA. We want it, we need it. It makes us feel better. We wanted justice for Aniston and that’s why we’re still talking about it. But in life justice doesn’t always work on our time table. It doesn’t jump to do our bidding. Sometimes justice is slow, but I firmly believe that if we let it, the universe always seeks out equilibrium. Those who are deserving of getting their comeuppance will get it, one way or another, you just likely won’t be around to see it.
There are many things I wish I did differently after my break up. I wish I didn’t call up all his friends and family and tell them what he had done. I wish I didn’t email his bosses at work. I wish I didn’t damage or throw out his things. It didn’t solve anything and none of it made me feel any better.
Getting Through It with Dignity
If I could do it again I would have taken a page from Aniston’s life and behaved with these things in mind:
It has to be enough that you and those who love you, know the truth: It’s really, really hard to just allow people to believe things about you that aren’t true, without being able to defend yourself. It’s important to your wellbeing that you understand that you aren’t responsible for what other people think and that you don’t need everyone to agree with you and be on your side. You are not going to convince your ex’s loved ones that they are horrible people. They just aren’t going to be on your side, regardless of what happened. It’s more important that you stop putting your energy into a doomed relationship and turn your attention towards you and your future.
The way you react says more about you than it does them: If you can walk away with your head held high it shows that you have integrity and strength of character. When someone freaks out and screams about what a p.o.s. their ex is, it cheapens them. I’m not saying they aren’t accurate in what they have to say, but it’s their need to say it which is in question. People will say and do whatever they please and you have no control over that, but you do have control over yourself. Do yourself a favor and stay classy San Diego.
Your Silence Speaks Volumes: If someone tosses you aside and you act like it doesn’t bother you in the slightest, it really does a number on the leaver. It gives their fragile little egos fits. They’ll question their decision, they’ll have doubts, and drive themselves crazy wondering if they made a mistake and why you aren’t upset and chasing them.
Many get off on your hurt: Some emotional manipulators gain satisfaction from knowing they can hurt others. It makes them feel big to know that they can have such power over another’s emotions. If you know your ex feeds off of your pain, by God, don’t give it to them.
If you freak out or act out it proves that they were right about you: If you are losing your mind over someone – obsessively calling, textng, showing up where you know they’ll be, causing a scene, damaging their property, calling people in their circle… you are damaging your own reputation. The last thing you want is to end up in jail or having to fork over money to them because they took you to court because you wrecked something of theirs. While it may seem satisfying at the time, don’t do it. Save yourself the hassle.
Revenge is a dish best served cold and not by you: When someone gets what’s coming to them, at a later date and by alternate means, that have nothing to do with you, it’s almost like the universe is putting things back into balance. Emotional Manipulators do a lot of shitty things and believe me, it does catch up to them. My ex’s new girl was pretty smug in the beginning, like she had won a prize. I remember telling her, “I can’t wait until everything is all your fault.” Now it is.
Have faith that the truth will come out in the end: Chances are if you were involved with an emotional manipulator they’ve just done the same dance with you that they’ve done many, many times in the past and will continue to do in the future. Those closest to them, that have half a brain, will start to notice the pattern and figure them out eventually. The universe likes balance, which is why we have contrasts like light and darkness, good and bad, yin and yang… while it may seem like the one who left you has ridden off into that merry sunset unscathed know that there’s a big dose of Karma just waiting around the corner to punch them right in the throat.
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