People say the nicest things to me on this blog, and I feel compelled to remind them that I was once a blithering chump. The chumpiest. I chased the unicorn at a full gallop. Had four D-Days. Wrote the goopiest, most mortifying entreaties to my cheater to not cheat on me. Did the marriage counseling, the therapy, read the books. Championed my “reconciliation” to baffled friends and family members, and even my divorce lawyer. I tangled with the skein so deeply, that’s why my hair looks like this.
So where did Chump Lady come from?
She was there all the time. She was the bitch inside me fighting back. Getting angry and occasionally winning the arm wrestling contest against chumpy me. Chumpy me had the strength of ten, thanks to hopium (a powerful hallucinogen and reconciliation-enhancing performance drug), but Chump Lady — my bad ass persona — was tenacious. She was the creeping doubt. The nag that woke me up at night saying, “This doesn’t add up.” The protector who yelled back. Who questioned. Who insisted.
Once she got completely off the leash, and boxed his ears. YOU WILL NOT THREATEN HER! YOU WILL NOT SAY THOSE THINGS! WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
Chumpy me tried to put her back in her box, but she wouldn’t stay down. She fomented revolution. She would not shut the hell up.
Always the questioning. And the late night homework. She read infidelity boards (so many chumps, so few Chump Ladies and Men). She schooled herself about personality disorders and narcissism. She saw patterns. Things fit together, so that when chumpy me bought the lies, she said, “This is manipulation.” Chumpy me wanted to go down the rabbit hole, had elaborate theories about why he did the things he did. Chump Lady said, “No, he likes it like this. It’s that simple.”
Chumpy me got very upset with Chump Lady. How could two such different people live inside one woman? Chumpy me implored Chump Lady to shut up. Don’t you know what this means? It means we’re going to be ALONE. Fucked over! Broke! Humiliated! Chump Lady said — hey, we’ll figure it out. Chumpy me was too tired to make the journey. Remained unconvinced of the outcome. Where the heck are we going?
Chump Lady said “to a better place. Any place is better than this place.”
Sometimes chumpy me and Chump Lady were not on speaking terms. If chumpy me gave it another try, had sex with the loser, Chump Lady grew silent and just expressed herself as disgust. “It’s hard to have respect for you, Chumpy.” Sometimes when Chump Lady grew quiet, chumpy me would try to summon her back, imagining what she looked like. (Chump Lady was several parts Aretha Franklin.) Chumpy me had to admit defeat — I can’t do this without you. Chump Lady said, “Okay, I’m driving. Get in the backseat.” Chumpy me tried to backseat drive and offer directions. “Um, maybe we should pull over for that apology?” Chump Lady said, “Shut up. I’ve got this.”
Chump Lady left the cheater. Chumpy me got used to the idea. They’re reconciled now. Chump Lady said, “Don’t you dare feel sorry for him.” Chumpy me doesn’t. Chumpy me feels a bit sorry for herself now and then. God, what a waste of time that was. Chump Lady says, “Nonsense. Look at how much we’ve learned. If it weren’t for that cheater, we never would’ve met.” Then the two sides of me embrace and have a good laugh.
This column ran previously. Feel free to comment!