Disclaimer: I am neither a psychologist nor an attorney. I am sharing information based on research and experience.
If you are in midlife you might remember George Carlin’s comedy sketch about the seven words you can’t say on TV. That routine actually got him arrested for disturbing the peace in Milwaukee. It just goes to show you that freedom of speech has limits. When you are venting frustration about your ex, or anyone, on social media it pays to be careful. You don’t want to get dragged into court or have your hand smacked by the judge because you’ve crossed a line. While there aren’t actually seven things you can’t say (the title was just catchy) there are a few you want to be careful of.
Remember, the narcissist in your life has boundaries even if you aren’t allowed to.
Are You Being Vindictive?
That’s a question you will need to answer for yourself. I have been accused of writing these articles to be vindictive, which to me is hysterically funny. My last name is not used when my articles are published, I never mention my ex by name, and believe me, if I wanted to be vindictive this is not what I would do when there are so many other possibilities. Honestly, I write here because I am a freelance writer and this is how I provide for my family and because I really wish to encourage others who have lived in difficult circumstances that they can get through.
Let’s check the definition of vindictive – having or showing a strong or unreasoning desire for revenge. So, before you write that blog post or Facebook ex trashing status ask yourself if it is vindictive. Are you upset and blowing off steam or are you hoping to humiliate him in some way?
Being vindictive slows your healing, builds bitterness, and backfires on you. Don’t go there, you don’t have to. Generally the truth comes out without your help.
You Need a Support Network
I have no life. At least no real one. With the exception of a handful of real-life friends most of my support network is on Facebook. Some of these women have been part of my life for 18 years!
I don’t have a huge extended family, my parents are gone, and I work at home. It should come as no surprise that I am an introvert. It is easy for me to get lonely, retreat into myself, and get depressed. However, I spend at least an hour a day catching up with my friends online – catching up, chatting, boasting about my kids, and blowing off steam about everything from the idiot who cut me off in the parking lot to my ex’s newest stunt.
It helps me not to explode. The ex does the same thing, by the way. It always makes me laugh when someone shows me some allusion he has made to me. I don’t have to be vindictive. If he is spending his time cyber-stalking me then there is nothing I could do to bring him further down, if I wanted to.
And I don’t.
What You Can’t Say
So, you’ve decided you are not being vindictive, you just need to blow off steam or you want to attempt to make your critics to see the whole picture. Fine.
There is, legally speaking, stuff you can’t say. Well, you can but it can screw up your court case or even cause him to be able to bring a defamation of character charges against you.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
You cannot lie. That’s important – you can’t say that the ex is a deadbeat jerk who doesn’t pay child support if it isn’t true. You can’t say that he offers human sacrifice on Halloween or drinks bats’ blood if indeed he does not partake in those activities. You cannot say he threw a metal crutch at your head if you don’t have proof that he did.
It’s also good to be careful what you say and how you say it because if you say something derogatory, even if it’s true, and a co-worker or boss reads it then he could lose his job. Inevitably that will come back and bite you in the butt because you won’t be getting child support.
Finally, give thought to what you say if it’s something your kids are going to see unless it is common knowledge.
So, let’s recap. Don’t lie, don’t say anything that will come back on you, and don’t say anything that will alienate your kids if they have a close relationship with him. In many cases you don’t have to worry about that because the kids have already formed their own opinions.
What You Can Say
You can call him any derogatory name the censors will allow you to post because it is your opinion. Your opinion is protected by freedom of speech. I am probably guilty of this but I try not to name call. I am not ten years old.
You can’t be sued for your opinion.
You can say anything that is true. If it damages his reputation, hurts his feelings, or embarrasses him it matters not. He has to prove it isn’t true in order to sue for libel. That gets tricky because it gets into a she said/he said kind of thing.
You can say he has 65 or more charges of contempt of court pending if it’s true – even if you are wrong and he only has 63, and even if those charges were dismissed. An honest miscalculation is not a huge deal, it can happen to anyone. Don’t say he has 57 contempt charges if he only has four though. Exaggerating is tacky. Anyone can look them up – they are a matter of public record.
I don’t know many women who feel the need to get nasty on social media on a regular basis. Even if they do it’s usually without intent to harm the ex. Definitely something can set you off and you can blow off steam but usually we are so busy making a living, taking care of kids, and healing that we don’t have time to make fun of the ex publicly.
Obviously, always talk with your lawyer if you are concerned about ramifications.
What about Harassment?
Harassment and Internet stalking are hard to prove. The complainant has to show proof of damages. I say this, not because you are likely to stalk the ex but because narcissists have a habit of stalking you. You can block them on Facebook but they can always use a fake name. You can also set your preferences so no one who is not on your friends list can see anything you post. I don’t have that option because social media is part of my job – and frankly, I don’t care. I have nothing to hide.
If you feel he is stalking you then talk to your lawyer but be aware that it is hard to prove. You don’t need to waste more time and money on him, do you?
Part of healing is moving past the name calling and revenge stage to a place where you don’t worry about him or what he is doing at all. Of course if he isn’t paying child support or is causing other issues then it is more of a challenge to forget he exists.
Learn to laugh at him, his name calling, and his lies. They held you prisoner in the past but not anymore. His dysfunction can’t hurt you. While others may believe him for a time they’ll eventually see the truth or they will get sucked into co-dependency but neither has to make a difference to you. You are pursuing healing, wholeness, and happiness. You don’t have time for his bull.
Need to blow up in a safe place? Join First Wives World and talk to others who will listen.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User: See-ming Lee