Hey, today the Chump Lady blog turns 5 years old! No longer a toddler blog, it has fully formed incisors and can bite the heads off unicorns. When I started this venture, I thought it would just be a brain dump for what I learned about infidelity (stupidly, blunderingly) so you wouldn’t make the same mistakes I did. Little did I know this brainchild would morph into an enterprise closing in on 14 million views, a book deal, and a Hollywood agent. Blogs. They grow up so fast!
You might wonder what it’s like to read hundreds of thousands of infidelity stories over five years. (Not including the wasted time I spent on reconciliation boards huffing the hopium pipe, long ago.) What is it like to be entrusted with chumps’ 5,000-word, single-spaced grief-vomit emails? Hourly? Daily? Weekly? Yearly?
Humbling. Startling (yes, things still surprise me). Inspiring.
In honor of five straight years of this Chump Lady endeavor, I thought I’d share five things I learned from Chump Nation.
1. You are not alone. When I got chumped, I thought I was Freak of the Week, that my life was a Jerry Springer episode, that few had suffered anything so tawdry and mortifying. Fact is, this infidelity shit is really common. My cheater wasn’t unique – he was predictable. And my chump experience? I served a light sentence. I’m a rank amateur compared with what most people here have suffered. (I had a short marriage and no children with him.)
What I’ve learned reading all these shocking stories of cheating cheaters and the people who cheat with them is that not only is evil banal, it needs a better scriptwriter. “I love you but I’m not in love with you.” “He’s just a friend.” “I never intended to hurt you.” Really? Is that the best you got?
There are a lot of people roaming this planet who have empty elevator shafts where their souls should be. A lot of us saw “potential” in empty elevator shafts. Don’t be embarrassed. The chump condition is common, but fixable. The good news is, if you’re in pain from betrayal? You have a soul. It’s better than the alternative. Trust me, you have something to work with.
2. The world is way more twisted than I thought. Thanks to Chump Nation, I got a whole education on sex workers, sex tourism, underage prostitution, sexual trafficking, ranking sex workers like Amazon purchases, “sex addiction,” web-cam sex – and some idea as to what all these past-times cost. (Your pension, an inheritance, that Christmas bonus you never saw – oh hey, there’s another lesson – infidelity goes with financial infidelity. Double lives cost money.)
For some reason the discourse around cheating is on one-night stands and exit affairs liberating cheaters from oppressive Unhappiness. When in fact, cake – a partner and fuckbuddies (paid and unpaid) – is a lifestyle for many. I would argue that cake-eating (serial cheating) is the NORM for infidelity, and everything else is an aberration. We’ve got it backwards.
Researchers – come study this! Do we ever have a dataset here or what?
Let me also add to the “twisted” column the ubiquity (and profitability) of married dating sites.
3. Chump Nation is a rainbow nation. And I don’t mean unicorns. Cheating is not a gender thing, or an orientation thing, or race thing, or a left-handed Unitarian thing – cheating is a character thing. Anyone can be chumped. Trusting someone and loving with your whole heart is human. We’re a big tribe.
4. Chump Nation is changing the conversation. You know what’s cooler than meeting someone in real life who reads this blog? Hearing Chumpisms in common discourse – the pick me dance, shit sandwich, kibbles! Not only are we changing the conversation that infidelity is abusive, we’re changing the discourse away from pansy-ass euphemisms. You did that, Chump Nation! Bitch cookie! (No, a REAL cookie, because this is a REAL accomplishment!)
5. Chump Nation is MIGHTY. There might be a lot of twisted, dark stories and empty elevator shafts, but there is more mightiness. Only one motherfucker cheated on you. How many more people held you up?
Why do I keep doing this, for five straight years? I’ve been writing about infidelity far longer than I experienced it. I come back because you all inspire me. Because I cheer for the underdog. Because you won’t be down and out for long. Soon you’ll outgrow this place, gain that life, or maybe (I hope) stick around and bolster the newbies with tales of new-found meh.
Thanks for five years! I find it auspicious that today of all days, Starbucks has just come out with a special unicorn drink. I wonder what it tastes like? (Sad sausage tears?) Tell me in the comments!