Happy blog-aversery everyone! Today Chump Lady is four years old! Well, the blog that is. Not me. I’m 49 years old. For your amusement, here’s a picture of me at four years old, dressed as a cowgirl. (A foreshadowing of Texas things to come?) Cue “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Bloggers…”
What a long, strange trip it’s been. I’ve been blogging about infidelity now longer than I was actually married to a cheater. What began as a brain dump — here’s everything I learned! Please don’t do the stupid things I did! Skip ahead! — has turned into an amazing community, Chump Nation. I sensed that there were unicorn skeptics out there, I just didn’t realize you were legion.
So today’s post is 4 Things I’ve Learned As Chump Lady.
Every day I learn from you guys, and I’ve read tens of thousands of infidelity stories, which still have the power to move me, surprise me, and keep me angry at the injustice of it all. If anything still keeps me writing, it’s the mindfuck of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex and all the lousy advice out there. I hope more survivor chumps speak up, so we can change the Chumps-Drive-Cheaters-to-Cheat blameshifting narrative. Which leads me to my first nugget —
1) It’s awkward to self-identify as a chump. To speak up about infidelity is to out yourself as a chump. Let me tell you, it’s pretty darn awkward to tell people what I’ve been working on these last few years. “Oh a blog. That’s nice.” (Eyes roll back into head with visions of half-assed mommy blogging about my child’s peanut allergy or something.)
What’s it about? The winsome daily adventures of being you? Power kale smoothies? Fitness? (Do I look like a fitness blogger? Have you seen my thighs?) No, no, no — it’s about cheating! Uh, but there’s cartoons and stuff and snark.
Now my inquisitor is totally confused. Maybe I’ll go on to explain it happened to me (but I’m okay now! Really happy! Not bitter! No sir!) Maybe I’ll do the shock and awe of my readership — 9.3 million-plus page views to date, 400K-plus a month of page views, a traditional book deal, a self-published book that went #1 on Amazon.
But there is still the sense, that in raising the topic of chumpdom and infidelity, I’ve overshared. Or identified in a way that sometimes makes people reassess me. (Sexless loser? Bitter, angry ex? Middle-aged woman who Drives Men Away!) The secret is to just be OKAY with that. I don’t control what other people think. Maybe my example — I’m well-adjusted! I’m writing! and dear God, some publisher PAID me! — will make others rethink the chump experience. Or better yet, have the courage to share theirs and chuck the shame.
2) If you build it, they will come. Any aspiring bloggers out there? KEEP AT IT. I really didn’t have an end goal or an exit strategy when I started this blog. I was fed up with the advice out there and being red-flagged on reconciliation sites. So I started my own site as a bit of a protest vote, but more with a sense of freedom that here I can talk about the infidelity experience in my own voice (read: potty mouth), and where I don’t have to tread lightly around reconciliation and cheater sensibilities.
As I said, it was just going to be a brain dump. Here’s what I learned! Take it!
I found very early on, that other people felt like I did. And Ego Kibbles and the Pick Me Dance and the Unifying Theory of Cake helped them. And they sent encouragement. And so many letters, that I just kept at it, crashed a few servers, fucked up WordPress a few hundred times, went into the red to keep the thing going, got trolled, got on HuffPo, got more virulently trolled, and kept at it.
And damn, if you didn’t keep coming. So anyone reading this who wants to blog about this crap? DO IT. The more voices out there, the better. Tenacity is 99 percent of blogging, IMO. Just show up and be original.
3) Cheaters are even more twisted than I thought. Esther Perel once tweeted at me that my experience “goes beyond infidelity.” Which clearly goes to show that Esther doesn’t know shit about infidelity. It ALL goes BEYOND. It’s always more than just the fucking around. It’s the theft, of your time, your reality, your finances, your family belonging. It’s often volatile and traditionally abusive — domestic violence, towering rages, threats. It’s the mindfuckery — the lies, the gaslighting, the blameshifting, the constant subtle and not-so-subtle devaluing.
Can someone pleases stand up who had one of those benevolent cheaters who gently fell in love, and did some harmless exuberant defying in a Motel 6? But deeply loved the bonds of their marital captivity?
If I’ve learned anything doing this blog, is that this shit is even darker and creepier than I ever imagined.
4) But chumps are MIGHTY. Four years of writing this blog and reading your stories, I’ll tell you what my biggest take away is — resiliency. I’ve read some horrific stories here — but I’ve read more stories of chumps overcoming the crap they’ve endured. I’m not talking overnight meh success, I’m talking about foot soldiers trudging over mountains of dysfunction, and coming out alive.
Better for it, stronger for it, and funnier for it. Thanks for sharing your stories with me and your fellow chumps. Happy blog-eversary!