I Need Validation From My Ex-Wife

pantaloons face down

I had a great joke for my ex-wife yesterday.

No, I didn’t mistype.  â€For” – not “about.”

I’ve been open about my journey through divorce.  I  have even been on tv and spoke about it.  My relationship now with my ex-wife mostly consists of questions I have about the pets (she’s a veterinarian) and something funny I know she’ll laugh at.

We probably only chat live maybe once a month, and never about anything other than those two topics. (four “t” words in a row! And yet, it’s not a hey-I-just-used-for-t-words-in-a-row thing. You hadn’t even noticed.)

I called up yesterday expecting to get her voicemail so I could just leave the joke.  It was a one-liner about our cat.  Not funny enough to reproduce here, but she would have dug it.

I think it’s important to note that I didn’t write the joke for my ex-wife.  My brain is wired to always look for humor.  The joke about my cat wrote itself.  Then I realized that my wife would laugh if she heard it.  Nobody else would.

Anyway, when I called, for the first time ever, she was sort of cold and distant.  You could tell she had probably picked up the call by accident.  I got the impression she was in a group of people in a public place.  Halfway through the joke (which was all of seven seconds) I felt a “don’t call me with this bullshit” vibe.  Now, she loves a good joke and has never responded that before.  But I could feel it.

And after I told the joke she politiely laughed, said it was funny and then, “I have to go.  I’m sitting down to dinner.”  I apologized for bugging her and hung up.

She could have been out with friends, or a boyfriend, or her parents.  No idea.  But it was obvious she was somewhere where she didn’t want to explain why she was laughing hysterically on the phone with her ex-husband.  I understand this.

I was devastated.  I didn’t realize that her approval still meant so much to me.  I don’t long for her.  I don’t have fantasies where we’re together again.  But I was saddened that she brushed me off.

And then, right then, I realized that even though a good joke is a good joke, I had been using my ex-wife to validate me since the divorce.  If I said something funny to her, she would laugh.  I would feel good.  This dynamic is not totally crazy as she validated me a lot when we were together.  I have struggled to validate and self-soothe my whole life.  I mean, I write a blog.  A good chunk of that is about external validation.

The message I had been transmitting to my ex-wife from me was, “Don’t leave me again!  I’m good!  Can’t you see?”  Now, please understand, I have a girlfriend show loves and supports me very much.  More than any other relationship I’ve ever had.  I could not be more grateful or happy to be with her.

Obviously I won’t be calling my wife the rest of my life whenever a one-liner about my cat comes up.  And I hope I can get to a point where if I reach out to her it’s not to get something I need for myself.

So, to help me, I’ll make a deal with you.  I’ll just tell the jokes about my cat.  And you can pretend to laugh.  Deal?

pantaloons face down
Pantaloons occasionally sleeps with her head face down into a blanket. And starts to snore. This isn’t an example of a joke I make. Just saying.

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