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Rock Throwers vs.Tiffany Glass Windows

Hi chumps, I’m away from the blog until Monday. But meanwhile, I’m running a post from last January, which I hope you’ll still find relevant. There’s a message in my art blather, really. 🙂


Hi chumps! I’ve been on vacation with my family in Orlando, Florida for a few days. Yesterday my mother and I visited the Morse Museum in Winter Park, which if you find yourself in the Disney World orbit, I can highly recommend over rollercoasters, crowds, and uber-commercialized touristy crap at the theme parks. The Morse Museum is a mind-blowing collection of Tiffany glass, jewelry, and Arts and Crafts pottery. Really, I cannot convey to you how exquisite it all is. Make it a must-do if you find yourself in this neck of the woods. But the crowning jewel of the museum is the Tiffany Chapel.

tif-peacockThe chapel was created for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It’s this Byzantine-inspired Art Nouveau confection of glass mosaic and stained glass. It’s freaking amazing. The altar piece is a mosaic of two peacocks facing each other with a crown floating above — it looked like a technicolor dream of Gustave Klimt to me, the swirls and jewel-like abstractions. They say it was Louis Comfort Tiffany’s masterpiece.

The chapel had a rather sad history, which you can read about. Suffice it to say, it was a sensation when it debuted, but then struggled to find a home. Tiffany rescued it at one point, had it restored and installed in his mansion estate Laurelton Hall, (which is its own amazing story). By the 1950s, the estate was abandoned and in 1957 a fire raged for three days and most of the place was destroyed. The chapel survived, only just.

TC034The daughter of Tiffany called the McKeans, a couple that ran a small museum in Winter Park, Florida and asked if they wanted a few of the windows. Okay, TRY and imagine a world in which someone is saying “here, please TAKE a Tiffany stained glass window off me, because I know you would appreciate it and no one else apparently does.” So the McKeans travel to Long Island, New York and viewed the wreckage of Laurelton Hall. The fire fighters had salvaged some of the windows, which were leaning against a wall — some miscreants had come and thrown rocks through some of them. The place was full of debris, open to the elements. The McKeans decided then to rescue the chapel and save as much as they could. At the museum are photos of the ruins and the salvage company that came to move it — who didn’t treat it right, threw all the pieces in the back of a truck with the crowning indignity — topping the pile with an old tire.

Mind blowing.

Tiff-MorseWhat does this have to do with infidelity? Well, as I was listening to this story during the narrated film at the museum (which my mother insisted on attending… thank you Mom…), I thought — what kind of MONSTER throws a rock through a Tiffany glass window?! What kind of idiot cannot see how freaking beautiful these works of art are? What sort of world do we live in where an entire mansion full of Tiffany glass is just abandoned? And it occurred to me, that some people can’t see obvious beauty. They destroy and devalue. Or they can only appreciate something if it is set in a context of What Is Fashionable and Approved Of, versus just seeing it for what it IS — beautiful and worthy.

Cheaters are the sorts of people who would throw a rock through a Tiffany glass window. To give your heart to someone, to be faithful to them, to try and forgive an unforgivable betrayal — that makes you a beautiful person. Tiffany glass windows are no less valuable because some idiot could not appreciate their beauty and threw a rock. Tiffany windows should not think… Gee, if I’d only been some work of abstract expressionism… something in vogue… if I’d only been a Jackson Pollack painting, they wouldn’t have thrown that rock. No, Tiffany windows are what they are — exquisite, obviously beautiful things. It just took escaping the ruins and the rock throwers for the world to notice was was really apparent all along — that these are works of art. Precious creations. (Which now go for millions of dollars and are coveted museum acquisitions.)

I believe this is true for chumps as well. Get away from the burning ruins and find someone who appreciates you. Your worth was never in question. Some people throw rocks. Some people are ugly and can’t see true beauty. It’s not you. It’s them.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Dear ChumpLady,
    I’m in tears here. I was, literally, about to write an email to my cheater saying something like, “Okay, you win, we’re coming back(we have a four-year-old).” But some little self-esteem-deprived part of myself does believe I’m Tiffany glass and deserve more. I should mention, the “coming back” is not across town. He is in China and we are in the converted garage of my childhood home with my dad in California where I left after high school(I am 48!).Thank you!

        • 50+ here too. Terrified – but determined.

          (IC made me laugh – he says he wish H had had the affair 10 years before he did! I would have had more time then)

          Not too sure how to interpret that…

    • Please, please don’t go back. As CL has said, don’t renew your pain subscription. Nothing good awaits you. I should know. I tried for 23 years. My only regret now is I should have left then. My life now? No drama, amazing internal freedom, lots of joy and fun. I am in my early 50s and loving being single and at peace.

      • CL, Datdamwuf and Uniquelyme,
        Thanks for the hugs and pep talks. It really means so much to me and helps to know there can be a brighter future.

    • Sunnydaysahead,

      I’m 58 and starting completely over – living like I lived when I was 28, without the YOUTHFUL hope and enthusiasm, but hope and some enthusiasm nonetheless. It is difficult, but you can do it. From the Star Wars files: the force is strong in you. (((Hugs)).

  • What a beautiful metaphor, and on a day when I am feeling down and need to be reminded of my intrinsic value and worth. Thank you for that.

  • Sniff…I’m in tears too. This is one of the first posts I read when I was lucky enough to find CL and art has always been a major part of my life. That is until I finally did something for me and pursued it, was painting – blogging – people were big fans and buying ny prints!

    Well that was a horrific mistake on my part because it wasn’t about “him” although he didn’t hesitate to spend the money. He punished me hard/well/fast/furious to the point that I have not picked up a paintbrush since. But seeing this post (again 🙂 ) with different eyes now that I’m free thanks to CL and all of you here, I know when it’s time…it will all come back. Have a wonderful weekend CL! We will be here … XO

    • Toni – please do pick up the paintbrush again! I know it is a struggle to rebuild – I’m a writer and slowly, slowly regaining some of the confidence I lost years ago after too much ridicule and too many discouraging comments by STBX (not to mention him taking over whatever space I could find to set up my writing space). Now I realize that he must have been immensely jealous, not being able to put two words together himself without immense effort.

      It’s your gift, and I hope you can get back to the joy of it. Good thoughts your way.

      • Thank you X,
        Yes, he crowded me out too, I am slowly setting up the room where he had all his “junk” as a studio. Thanks for the encouragement! Xo

    • Toni & ExRMM –

      I feel your pain! Our marriage trouble began when:

      1. We started having kids
      2. I started building my own business

      Crazy to do both at once, I know, but I was tired of working for “the man” and wanted to be home with my kids. XH was all for it at first…until it took more time and effort than he thought it should for me to succeed. I struggled, struggled, struggled – with NO help from him in the business or with the kids – yet the first month I made a profit, he was standing there with his hand out.

      When I stupidly bought him a car a few years later during the “pick me” dance, I got miffed that he didn’t said, “Thank you.” So I prompted him, like I do the kids. “What do you say?” I asked. He snorted. “It’s about f*ing time!” he replied.

      I just stared at him, mouth agape.

      That was the last highly profitable month I had until after the divorce. The “need to please” ended then and there.

  • Yes, thanks for posting this CL! It’s been a particularly bad week for me – now that I have finally filed for divorce the STBX has gone into full-fledged passive-aggressive mode, and I feel like this ordeal will last forever. Every once in a while, when I am particularly tired and sad and discouraged, I think that maybe I should just pack it in, give him what he wants (everything) and move on. And at 55 most of the time I feel like I’ll never have a better life, or someone who really loves me, or even just someone who would respect me a little bit and appreciate me for who I really am.

    So when I clicked over here tonight it was just what I needed – a lovely story of beauty and craft appreciated and salvaged. Gives me hope.

    Have a wonderful weekend, eh?

    • exrepeatedmeme, don’t be discouraged, once you file the time is finite to reach an agreement. Do NOT give the asshole all your shit just to get it over with, you built that and you deserve some of it. I’m 50+ too and dammit we deserve to have some of what we worked so hard for. Instead, get pissed off at your STBX and claim what is rightfully yours.

      As to whether you will find anyone to love and be loved by, I feel pretty low on that too but we shouldn’t give up, just read about two 70+ year olds getting married. We will find someone to love or fill up our lives with what we love, some way some how. We are beautiful, we are full of light and we will overcome all the bad shit and sit in the sun again. I believe it.

      • Thanks, Dat, I really appreciate the support. It’s a lonely journey dealing with all the history and struggling to regain the person I was. The posters here have been a Godsend.

        It’s Thanksgiving this weekend where I am, and this place is one of the things I will be giving thanks for over an awesome vegan dinner on Sunday with my kids (something I never could have enjoyed before). Maybe there is a relationship in my future, maybe not, but as you say we will overcome all the bad shit, and I’m grateful for that too.

        • And, give thanks for the kids! Not everybody gets to have those, and have a Holiday dinner with kids who care for you and show it by coming over. Even though my X treated me badly, I did get my sons because of him, so that’s one thing to his credit.
          Have a lovely dinner!

        • I think I get you exrepeated, I have this problem – some days I am ME, the ME I used to be but then I can’t find my way to what I want to do now. It’s like I’ve lost something essential and I can’t quite pull it back out of the dark. I reach for it and some day I think I know what it is, other days I am walking through my life wondering if I’ll ever be ME again, wondering if I even know who ME is. I wish I could be clearer, but that’s the mud puddle of life that I’m in. I am so much happier without my ex, I still don’t have ME yet, but I keep pretending and searching so I think I will get there and so will we all.

          This time of year in Virginia it’s worse, too cold to sit on the porch and watch birds, too warm to have a fire. The comfort things we do when we live alone are not always there and sometimes they are not enough. I think this is what sends us outside our comfort zone to find friendship and warmth so maybe it’s a good thing.

          I almost erased this post, but you know? Maybe it resonates with some so I’ll put it here, I think for the first time in my life that I’m lonely. I’ve never felt that before so I’m not sure if that is what it is. Just a feeling that I need more than I have, more people in my life when I used to hide from them, more doing and less solitude, when I never really noticed before. Lately I feel as fragile as a piece of Tiffany glass and not nearly as beautiful.

          • Ddw, I think I know the kind of moment you’re experiencing. Those pangs of loneliness are hard to face, but they are so human, and so about US, not the drama and the narc, that we aren’t even sure what’s going on, never mind how to deal with it!

            I’ve learned not to be as scared of the difficult moments, I see them as signals of what needs to change in my life. I’m bored? I need to find more interesting stuff to do and new challenges. Overwhelmed? I need to cut back, take better care of myself. Lonely? I need to make more effort to connect to the people I care about and enjoy, or to find more.

            And just when I get things just right into balance, something will shift, and I’ll need to rebalance again. It’s not a state to be reached, it’s a constant adjustment.

            Take care of yourself in your moment of fragility, and remember your beauty as a caring and sensitive person. ((hugs!))

          • Patty, it’s one of the things that gets me through when I start beating myself up for staying with him – I have three lovely, talented, and caring boys from the relationship, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

            (I remember just after he left when everything was falling apart and I thought I was losing them, my sister, my wonderful rock of a sister, saying to me, “Don’t worry, they know who their real parent is.” And a few months later at dinner one of them saying very matter of factly to me that their Dad leaving didn’t matter, because after all, I was the one that brought them up. That was when I knew I would be ok.)

            And Dat, I do understand you about the loneliness. I’ve always been a solitary sort, needing lots of alone time, and since STBX left I have luxuriated in the quiet and uninterrupted time to myself. But every now and then loneliness sweeps over me and I feel like crying – usually when I’m in the car, for some reason. I think it’s just too much change all at once, and also because I am not sure I will ever really trust anyone in my life that way again. And because of that I crave companionship, but fear it at the same time, if that makes any sense.

            So I run, or knit, or play video games, or rake leaves, or cook, or just snuggle with the cat and read, and trust that the feeling will pass and that things will keep getting better. One of these days the blustering, bullying cheater will be well out of my life, and I’ll be ready for someone new. This is time to get back to myself, whoever that turns out to be.

            Hang in there. Glass may look fragile, but is deceptively strong in all it’s transparency, like us. And beautiful.

  • Thanks CL,

    Am currently in the early NC massive push pull , love bombing stage.

    Every post of yours helps stay away from random torture and drama.

    You are awesome 🙂

  • Well put, we all deserve better. Even if I don’t find someone else I will continue to be the best person I can be….a work of Art my children can be proud of..

  • Lovely analogy :-)! I’d add to the last bit about getting away: …and do your own restoration work, you’ll find yourself coveted too.

  • This is a great post, CL, that brought out a lot of fantastic comments.

    One thing I’d add: In this country, we have become accustomed to “needing” a lot of things. Oftentimes, NPD types can be big material providers. I think it can be one part of the fake buffet of fun they offer. But, in reality, we can all live with less. (I think the time when we learn to live better with less is coming for the whole population, in any case.) This may seem like an odd thing to add, but there is a company called Tumbleweeds that makes high-quality tiny houses. Now, this isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s a metaphor. I’d rather live in a tiny house by myself or with someone with whom I got along than in a mansion with a moron.

    I guess what I’m saying is that there are all sorts of ways to make things work, and that the human side — more than the material side — is what counts. In any case, CL, your writing today and your choice of metaphors was positively transcendent. And the comments you elicited were the same. Bravo to this amazing Chump Thread!

    Sunnydaysahead, if you and your children (you talked about “we”) are in a healthier place where you are now, then you are moving forward! I don’t know your situation, so it’s your call, but from what little you say, it sounds like you know, deep down, that going back is a bad idea. And I’d bet where you are is better for you and yours. So, hang in there!

    • The comment from the self-described “therapist” to this article was telling – ” Folks have affairs to make themselves feel better – not to purposely hurt their spouses and families- although that is usually one of the unfortunate by-products. Kudos to you for sharing this complex and painful experience.”

      Huh. So everything my kids and I have gone through, and are still going through, is an “unfortunate by-product” of STBX’s affair(s). Well, I feel better with that cleared up. I wonder what kind of therapist this guy is – Goddess help any chump who is seeing him…….

      The woman posting this mea culpa is a rock-thrower, and no after-the-fact justification, crocodile tears, or soothing comments from other cheaters will change that. Good luck to her on that whole “honesty” thing.

      • ‘Unfortunate by-product’??????

        I’ve always divided damage into various types for my kids; you damaged something or hurt someone, completely accidentally. Or you did it entirely or mostly on purpose. Or you did damage or hurt without planning that, but in circumstances in which that damage or hurt was predictable, and you could have avoided it. Like someone who drives drunk or doesn’t repair the steps that they know are broken.

        In that third case, the person is just as culpable as if they had planned it – perhaps more so, because they are behaving in a cowardly way. And THAT’s the kind of damage done by affairs, especially long-term or serial affairs. The person has to DELIBERATELY CHOOSE not to think about the entirely predictable hurt and damage they are causing, in order to convince their cowardly selves that it’s not intentional, and therefore, not REALLLLLLY their fault.

        Assholes. And any therapist who supports this view is just as big a one.

  • You put into words what I’ve known all along. here’s a quote for the cheaters.”you might just miss a diamond while you we’re too busy gathering stones.”

  • I am crying. This is lovely and inspiring. While I know I am that beautiful glass…it often feels more like I am a pile broken beer bottles.
    Keepin’ the faith and looking for goodness. Thanks CL.

    • I’ve actually seen stained glass made from bits of beer bottles and other broken discards. It was BEAUTIFUL, and doubly impressive because of its past! Just like you, I bet.

  • Great post, CL!

    Needed it… as I recently told someone my “story” and this person just didn’t get it. No expressions of horror, no talk of how I didn’t deserve it, what a beautiful person I must be for trying to work through it. Just seemed to devalue it and then… even more annoying… seemed a little preoccupied with the fact that I receive alimony (he’s a classmate of mine so already knew some stuff). Referred to it as my ex-husband is “still paying for his mistake”. Sometimes after I talk to these guys I feel like not only do I need to prove I didn’t “cause” my ex to cheat on me, but also that I’m not a money-hungry bitch for receiving alimony & child support. Why do these guys stick together even when they know the reason for the divorce?

    Then again, he then went on to complain to me about his sex life with his wife, so maybe he’s just a future cheater anyway…

    • I’ve noticed, we all have, that many people put cheating in some “other” category. Like there are reasons they could understand how it might happen that do not apply to other kinds of abuse. I have a guy friend who does this too, he says he would never do it, that’s it’s wrong but he doesn’t get how devastating it is. I think you have to have suffered a betrayal of that kind before you really get it.

      • true… I myself was surprised at how traumatic it was. But seriously, what does it take for someone to call my ex an idiot?? That’s what I want to hear! 🙂

  • CL, gosh I only live about 15 miles away from that museum and always wanted to go (but ex wasn’t interested). I had no idea about the history and story behind the collections. Since you’ve visited my neck of the woods, you can tell there’s not too much culturally going on (lol) except if you’re a fan of the mouse (ex was!) so I think I’m going to use this as a suggestion for a first date when I finally get out there. Thanks so much for posting about this place!

  • Wow, I’ve missed it here. So the asshat worked me for a few months, got shiny, therapy, and weepy about the impending birth of our child and I let the fucker back. Now I sitwith an 8 week old, a 2 & 4 year old, 4 days out from him moving across the country with us to follow in a month or two…and I figured out he is still cheating. I’m not surprised. I knew in my heart I was being dumb…damn hope!! And it wasn’t just 2 woman he was banging while I was pregnant & kicked him out. No, 4. FOUR!! That guy sure has some time management skills!!

    Anyway, I haven’t informed him of my discovery. We Skype with the kids, I do the “yea I miss you” blah, blah. All the while I’m planning my divorce. Schmuck!

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