Picture this: You are sitting at your computer working late at night. As always, you are stressed about finances, your upcoming court hearing, being single, and all the other stress factors that come with going through a divorce.
All of a sudden, you hear on your phone that you received a text. What a nice break! It's probably one of your friends, or the girl you just started dating. You take the phone and to your dismay, the message is from your ex. But, it gets worse. It's a scathing, mean-spirited message, telling you how awful you are and how much she can't stand you. It goes on and on, includes many expletives and it makes you sick as you read it. It is so full of hate, anger, bitterness.
You get the feeling that she has been drinking because why else would she all of a sudden go on this unsolicited attack? You weren't even in conversation with her.
I hear stories like this from men and women all the time. It's a horrible feeling. It's disturbing. It's upsetting. It's creepy.
A person's first instinct in receiving a text or email that I call "an unsolicited attack" is to attack back. Send back a response. Defend yourself. Hurt back.
But, my divorce advice is do not reply. Do nothing. Do not type one key. Leave it alone. An unsolicited attack deserves nothing from you. Don't even type something short, like "you're an idiot," "grow up" or even "get help." I know you want to, but it isn't wise.
An unsolicited attack is the result of the unhappiness of the person sending it. That person is hurting in some way. Maybe his or her life isn't going well. Maybe he or she is falling apart and they want to blame someone, so who better to go after than the person who set things in motion: you. Blame someone. Unhappy, unhealthy behavior is always the result of someone not taking responsibility for their own mistakes.
The unsolicited attacker wants to battle. He or she wants a fight. They want you to attack back so they can then attack again. They need to release their anger and they are trying to use you to do it. Don't engage!
If you realize that the unsolicited attack has so little to do with you, you will feel better. I would actually go so far as to say you should feel sorry for the person sending the words of hate and anger. And, just focus on trying to forget about it.
Now, if the unsolicited attacks get to be a regular occurrence, you might have to reach out to your attorney, because no one should have to deal with that abuse. But, I think ignoring the unsolicited attacks (not giving them the attention the sender so obviously craves) will most likely result in the person not sending them anymore. It's kind of like a toddler. If he or she has a temper tantrum and you ignore it, they see that the behavior doesn't get them their desired result, so they stop.
The best advice I can give for receiving an unsolicited attack besides ignoring it is, try to think of it as HIS or HER PROBLEM and go back to what you were doing: working, being productive, or enjoying your evening. It's really hard to do, but getting into battle will only make you upset and ruin your night. Oh, and keep the text. You never know when you might have to use it!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, "Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.