Hey! Just a note to say THANK YOU for an epic book launch. I was so honored to meet you guys. We had chumps from Arizona (who walked 2o miles sight-seeing on Friday according to their fit bits!), Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Texas, Ottawa, West Virginia, and the DC environs.
It was absolutely amazing. And I choked up more than a few times. It was such an assemblage of strong, funny, amazing people. Just WOW.
You can’t imagine how odd this is for me. I started this blog, and I know you guys comment in droves, and more lurk, but yet, in a way, it’s still quite abstract to me. I liken it to sending messages in a bottle every day. I throw them overboard, they float along on the Internet seas, and I have no idea who picks them up to read, or ever sees them. I was blogging for a year and half before I’d ever actually met anyone who reads me. It was like meeting your imaginary friend.
Writing is just this sort of isolated thing you do alone. A universe you create in your head. So it is very strange indeed to meet people who speak your language — a language you invented! Of unicorns, and kibbles, and untangling skeins of fuckupedness, and the Universal Bullshit Translator.
You all GET IT.
And it helped you? I’m so thankful to hear that it helped you.
Listening to so many stories last night… after the party, some of us gathered to have dinner (thanks to Clare for organizing!) and went around the table with our chump tales. I was so impressed.
I can’t properly express this — but I was so deeply moved by what good, decent, loving people you chumps are. And what IDIOTS your cheaters were to ever, ever devalue such a beautiful bunch of people.
Oh you’re just saying that, Tracy!
Look, you are people who SHOW UP. And bring gifts. And say thank you. And help each other out, with directions and accommodations, and LISTEN. You hug. You joke. You tear up and get mortified. You are HILARIOUS. Deadpan. Mordant. Witty. Fragile but fierce. Motherfuckers you should not mess with. MIGHTY.
You are my tribe.
And the details of your stories will stay with me. The cheater who ordered his wife and kids out of the house. After she worked and worked and put him through a PhD program — banished. Thrown out with out a thing. No clothes. No furniture. And her telling me how she brought her two teenagers to an empty house and they all slept on air mattresses for months.
Okay, or the special ed teacher chump who works with kids with emotional problems — who found her husband’s Craigslist ads for cross-dressers? And the long litany of his kinks and hook-ups? And who saw the dark ABSURDITY of this idiot and made us laugh with her about it?
Or the woman who bashed the hell out of the unicorn piñata — cheated on while pregnant and then abandoned. Recently. Looking like a million bucks, and is quite the slugger.
You guys are amazing. Thank you.
For those members of Chump Nation who couldn’t make it, I’m attaching some pictures and the little talk I gave (and did not get through without a maudlin display of emotion).
Ten years ago THIS WEEK, May 20, 2006 — a few blocks down the street, I married a cheater. (Unbeknownst to me at the time, of course. Turns out, I paid the bar tab for one of the Other Woman.)
A decade ago, this week.
I’d been married 6 months, when D-Day hit. What I didn’t know then, was that the worst thing that ever happened to me would become the best thing that ever happened to me.
(And I don’t mean that we reconciled our marriage, became stronger for it, and rode off into the sunset riding unicorns.)
I mean, I gained a life.
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
Some highlights – in August 2010, I married Paul, a Texas trial lawyer and my son and I moved to Texas. And to underscore just how much I love Paul, and how wonderful he is – I moved to TEXAS. Rural Texas. I’m a pasty person who gets miserable at weather over 70 degrees, I enjoy WOOLEN things, and about the spiciest food I grew up with was tuna noodle casserole. (Jalapenos? Please. Pain is a not a flavor.)
Love will make you do crazy things.
And to underscore how wonderful Paul is, and how much he must love me, we just moved to DC. A land with no breakfast tacos or decent BBQ. He had to give up casual work clothes, a much-lamented quad-cab diesel Ford pickup truck, and beating up on Houston lawyers.
Love will make you do crazy things.
In April 2012, I started the blog Chump Lady.
It began as a brain dump of everything I learned about being chumped. Here it is! I don’t need it anymore! Hope you can learn from all the stupid things I did and skip ahead.
It’s four years later and the blog odometer is about to flip to 10 million page views.
Also in 2014, I self-published a book and it went #1 on Amazon in divorce. Which got the notice of an agent, which got a book deal – and here we are celebrating the release of “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.” (This one also went #1 on Amazon in divorce.)
And the only reason I’m here celebrating with you today is because there are a LOT of chumps. My experience wasn’t unique. It was terribly common as nightmares go.
What wasn’t common was good advice. What wasn’t common was the message that you could leave and be happier for it. What wasn’t common was common SENSE about how to protect oneself.
All I did with Chump Lady was create a space to talk about the infidelity experience that did not assume or promote reconciliation. And to me, the most beautiful thing about Chump Lady, is the community. People who are further down the road shouting back to the newbies, “HEY! I see meh ahead! It’s TUESDAY!”
And the newbies believing it. Believing that the pain stops (on Tuesday) and that better days are ahead.
Nine years and six months ago, I was a sobbing heap on a bathroom floor. Lost 15 pounds in a week out of sheer grief and vomiting. Stranded in a new town. I’d left my job. Had sold my house and taken that cash and bought a house with the cheater, thereby making it a marital asset. I was terrified about my financial future. I was scared for my son, putting him through this drama, through another divorce.
I thought I’d never love again. I thought I was damaged goods. Insanely, I thought what that disordered freak of a cheater thought of me MATTERED. I thought his rejection somehow defined me.
Today I’m just fine. My son is fine. Actually, proud mom moment here – he’s better than fine. He’s a great kid, a cross-country runner who was accepted to college on an academic scholarship.
And that cheater was not the last vote on my lovability. I’m loved. And I love and trust others.
I gained a life.