Apologies, chumps. I’ve been away from the blog for the long holiday weekend here. Had a nice empty nest weekend noodling around San Antonio, but I’m back at it today.
It was a good weekend — seeing a movie, eating barbecue, strolling around an old mission — rare time alone with my husband. I try never to lose sight of how lucky I am to have him, to have this life, to accept such blessings as normal, ordinary existence.
I sometimes get to remembering that none of this would be my life if I hadn’t taken several terrifying leaps of faith. I had to leave a cheater. I had to rebuild my life and invest fully in a good, sane life alone with my kid, my job, and my garden. I had to go to New Orleans and meet a Texan. I had to overrule my good sense that said “You’re a TEXAN. You live in TEXAS. How’s this going to work?!” I had to say goodbye to that job I loved, those friends, that garden, those fragile trappings of stability that were so hard won. I moved to Texas during a historic drought. As someone who grew up around the Great Lakes, and had a house next to the Susquehanna River, I get seriously panicky in deserts. I loathe hot weather. I’m still adapting, building this new life, a stranger in a strange land.
I’m not going to lie and tell you every step in this journey was filled with great rewards for having taken such brave steps. I tried to sell my house, just as I got a buyer, it flooded. I never found another newspaper editor job. I still complain incessantly about the 9 months of summer followed by 3 months of inferno that is the Texas climate.
But absolutely, it was all worth it and then some to have this new life. You just don’t get great rewards without great risks. So many of us, myself included, get paralyzed at the starting gate. There’s that saying: “Jump and the net will appear.” What they don’t mention is: “Jump and you will feel every second of that fucking free fall.” You have to tough it out, chumps. Gaining a life is an act of faith in yourself. That you can knit a net before you go splat on the pavement.
I see people in disintegrating reconciliations, red flags flying everywhere, and the chumps still have this abiding faith in their cheaters. In the face of all evidence to the contrary, they believe in unicorns. That this person will get their shit together, quit behaving narcissistically, will kick the ego kibbles, and be a full partner to them. However painful, whatever the costs, they can hold on to this dream for a very long time. Which strikes me as a waste, because if the chump had only had that unswerving faith in themselves, they’d be a lot happier. If chumps invested half the energy they spend figuring out their cheaters on themselves instead, they’d be much further along in a new life already.
Think about it — you only get to control yourself. You can’t control another person, especially a person who is behaving self destructively or narcissistically. Your best shot at happiness is YOU. If you’re making a bet, why not back yourself? I think those odds are much better.
The opposite of fear is faith. Which is just another way of saying LET GO. Fall already. When you’ve experienced infidelity, the worst has already happened. So let go of the fear — start working on being fearless.
Speaking of being fearless, this brings me to my first ever Chump Lady Book Plug of Nepotism. “Smile At Strangers: And Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly” by Susan Schorn, my sister-in-law. (For sale in the Amazon box to your right.) Susan writes the column “Bitchslap” at McSweeney’s, humorous essays about life, and being a blackbelt in karate. She doesn’t write about infidelity (although I encourage every chump to read her hysterical essay about Other Women and pushing Rielle Hunter down a flight of stairs). Smile At Strangers is a memoir and how-to guide of facing your fears and chronicles her own journey from neurotic, anxious person to a woman who can kill you with a swift kick to your solar plexus.
Maybe marital arts isn’t your thing, but I encourage every chump to do something after DDay that makes you feel powerful, (apart from hiring an attorney). For me it was welding. My husband got a tattoo. Other chumps go back to school, buy a new home, travel somewhere their cheater would never go. Do something to invest in yourself and reclaim your life!
I’ll leave you with an awesome quote from “Smile At Strangers”:
“Don’t be afraid of the dark — grab darkness by the throat, kick its ass, push it down the stairs, and laugh at its haircut.” — Susan Schorn