Do you know, or were you possibly married to, someone who is a champion in the Ex Games? I’m not talking about the X Games, as in ESPN’s extreme sports competition involving BMX races and seemingly insane feats of athleticism in surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. Although X Games competitors go to great extremes to prove their daring and skill, perhaps they’re no match for the lengths of pure crazy that an ex playing EX Games is willing to go!
We’ve all heard the stories of the “crazy ex” who stalks, trash talks, and seems to make their post-divorce life all about jealousy, vindictiveness, and punishing their ex ‘til the end of time. Maybe it’s a sign of not being able to move on, or maybe it’s living proof of why not to be in a relationship with them!
Sometimes the Ex Games are subtle (although irritating) in the form of little digs and insults dropped at every opportunity. Some Ex Games champs go out of their way to turn everything into an argument or to push the limits of divorce orders or rational behavior just to prove a point, be right, or get their way.
I have a friend whose ex wins a gold medal in every event of the Ex Games. He regularly asks her to watch their kids for him over his time when he is working. He won’t take “no” for an answer, so if she tells him she has other plans, he just drops the kids at her door, whether she’s even at home or not, then heads off for work. He manages to pick an embarrassing public fight with her at nearly every child’s athletic event or school activity. If it’s his time with the kids and they ask to go say hello to their mom or sit by her for a while in the stands at an event he refuses to let them go anywhere near her.
Another divorcee plagued by an Ex Game superstar told me of how he essentially burned her life to the ground once they decided to divorce. He went to the HR at her work with enough made up information about her that she ended up losing her longstanding job and has had great difficulty finding steady employment since.
He took his campaign to the court of social media and crucified her reputation, all the while portraying himself as the model father and man among men. With every improvement she makes in her life, trying to climb up from ground zero, he counteracts by requesting higher child support or refusing to cooperate with her schedule changes so she can maintain her time with the kids.
These kinds of ex stories might make you feel lucky to just have an ex who hangs up on you or raises their voice occasionally!
I have to wonder what it is that players in the Ex Games actually win? The victories may initially taste especially sweet when the divorce is new and the emotions are raw. But, to go to the extremes of continually going out of one’s way to cause trouble for another person has to be exhausting! I know that when I’m angry with someone, my entire mood changes and my body feels more tense. Thoughts of the situation upsetting me can feel all consuming, and it’s just draining of all energy until the episode is over!
Imagine living in that state of mind all of the time? Imagine having the time to calculate, scheme, and meddle? I find the mental state and maturity of such a person downright concerning. A person who is capable of orchestrating an endless barrage of attacks against their former partner or other parent of their children is, in my opinion, in need of some help!
Anger, sadness, jealousy, and others are natural emotions. It is perfectly normal to feel all of these emotions following a major life event like a divorce. What you do with these emotions defines whether your behavior is healthy or not.
So, you’re mad at your ex for gambling away your money, for moving on with a new person, for leaving, and so many other potential reasons? Understood! Divorce is akin to having one’s heart ripped out, then stomped on!
Refusing to return property, going out of your way to make visitation time difficult, and engaging in non-stop pot-stirring isn’t going to help the healing process progress. What it does is take years off of your life, fill your own life with negativity, and make you look like an ass!
Some people get a high off of sticking it to another person, tormenting them, punishing them, or getting even. This behavior is the equivalent of punching a wall to express anger. Did it feel good? Maybe for a hot second until the force of the punch meets the solid wall and injures the hand. Maybe until it’s noted that both the hand and wall are damaged. And what was gained? Maybe a temporary outlet for rage, but no true solution.
If the sight of an ex elicits so much volcanic anger or the desire to be like a pesky mosquito, zooming around, reminding them of your presence, begging for a reaction, biting and causing irritation, perhaps a healthier outlet for these feelings needs to be developed. Seek the release of these emotions through a more productive outlet such as exercise, writing, talking to someone, doing something fun or creative, and taking steps to develop new post-divorce meaning to life.
Playing Ex Games smacks of desperation, resembles junior high conflict-resolution tactics, and demonstrates how much power the former partner really still has. Think about it, if you’re really healed, doing well in life, happy, mature, and have your priorities straight, do you have time for juvenile pranks, tantrums, following the movements of another person, or becoming consumed with another person’s life? Nope! The Ex Games are a crutch for the damaged and overly dramatic. It is like holding up a giant sign that says “I am a train wreck! Watch me crash and burn!”
Realizing that the origin of an ex’s need to play Ex Games comes from a place of serious pain and possibly dysfunction helps to put their actions into perspective. While they may want to be seen as a vigilante righting the wrongs of the past, it’s more likely that they either suffer from the same craving for adrenaline that a kamikaze skier has before launching over a cliff, yet they are as broken as that skier when the parachute fails to open and they land at the base of the mountain a shattered mess.
The Ex Gamer is irritating and very successful at wasting time and energy; yet, this is a person who needs counseling, support from friends, and help to get past divorce and learn to forgive and be happy again. Gold medals are great, but this is not one contest you want to be the “winner” of!