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Chump Lady Takes Back Paris

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Eleven years ago I honeymooned in Paris with a sociopath. Not knowingly, of course. (Does anyone do anything knowingly with a sociopath, other than war crime tribunals?) You’ve all heard my story… The whole time I was tra-la-la-ing around into my Happy Ever After, he was cheating on me. From that ugly came the genesis of this blog.

This last week I took Paris back with Mr. CL. Paris, consider yourself conquered.

Forgive the foray into personal travelogue. (I’ll resume regular broadcasting on Monday.) But OMG, I’ve had the most wonderful time! Thank you all for the break from regular blogging. I’ve been gorging myself on pretty things and buttered carbohydrates. (Baguettes with every meal! How can I ever go back to sad-salad-at-my-desk eating after this?)

If you’re new to this Gain A Life thing, may I suggest Paris? Next to New Orleans, it may top my short list of cities it’s impossible to have a bad time in. (Unless you don’t eat carbohydrates, in which case it would be horrible torture to be in such close proximity to such a national concentration of pastries.)

This post risks coming off smug and First World-y, and I’m copping to it now. In fact, blogging about one’s vacation might be the 2017 equivalent of forcing dinner guests to watch the slide show of your family’s trip to Mount Rushmore. (Anyone remember slide shows?) I’m sorry. It took me 11 years to get back here, and I’m cognizant of all the shitty years I spent single parenting, under-employed, and eating proverbial shit sandwiches. I’m now older, fatter, happily remarried, and an empty nester. I’m at a different stage of life, and grateful as hell.

So with that out of the way, let me tell you about Paris! I gotta say, it’s much improved by a much better husband. Mr. CL is a great travel companion. Except for his penchant for climbing rickety, historic structures for their views. If it’s a crumbling cathedral with a claustrophobic staircase and a tiny ledge, 1000 feet up, with a rusty metal railing standing between you and plummeting to your death? He’s all in.

What makes him wonderful, and MATURE, is that he does not inflict his love of rickety, claustrophobic historic structures on me — he leaves me alone to explore art museums! And then we get together for dinner and I tell him about French paintings (I had the third floor of the Louvre to myself! There were Ingres! And they WERE ALL MINE!) and he tells me about scaling the Pantheon. It works for us.

By contrast, I really have very little recollection of what it was like to travel to Paris with the cheater. Other than he had to go to the Paris Starbucks and buy a mug. #uglyamericanmoment And he was game to do the touristy things one does in Paris. And whatever other romantic memories there were got obliterated 6 months later when I discovered his secret fuckbuddy life. I hope he and his Starbucks mug are happy together. (Making memories. Drinking hemlock. WTFever.)

Okay, the other thing about that trip to Paris 11 years ago was I bought him a 400 Euro Dupont pen for his birthday and presented to him with great fanfare. Which I, um… later retrieved during the divorce. You can read the pen story here. The important thing to know is that I signed my book deal with that goddamn pen. And with any luck I’ll use it to ink the TV deal too. First I took back the pen. Now I have taken back Paris.

Some random observations about the French and Paris:

This is not a city of business majors. I am in awe of the preposterous shops in Paris of precious, ridiculous things. Like perfectly curated throw pillows. Or teeny tiny macaroons. Or saxophones. Yes, a WHOLE STORE DEVOTED SOLEY TO SAXOPHONES. (See picture.) If you think that is weird, I walked past a store — swear to GOD — that only sold antique glass eyes. I give Paris huge points for whimsy. But OMG, how does anyone make a living here?  You have to admire the boldness of I Shall Go Forth and Sell Saxophones Without a Business Plan because… jazz. But Paris — WTF are you living on? Do you all have trust funds?

The food. Everyone marvels at how the French can take two hour lunches, and four hour dinners, and wake up and eat pastries for breakfast. I don’t pretend to understand it, but I’m grateful for a week spent a thousand miles from the nearest kale smoothie. France is in some alternative caloric dimension. They drink red wine. They don’t stress over gluten. They embrace butter. Why yes, I don’t mind if I do have some more béarnaise sauce. AND IT’S ALL BEAUTIFUL. It makes me want to go home and casually poach a pear.

The Devotion to Pretty. I thought Paris was lovely before, but I never really internalized how single-mindedly, manically driven the French are toward prettiness. The gardens, the public statuary, the ornamentation. The ornamentation of the ornamentation. It’s like graffiti artists trying to out-tag each other. I’ll see your gilded iron gate and raise you a hundred marble NYMPHS! Take THAT! I don’t know what this says about the French. But whatever they’re saying, they look good while saying it.

Speaking of looking good, beyond my devotion to art museums (the more the obscure the better — check out the Gustave Moreau museum!), or my love of buttered bread, or my love of Mr. CL — perhaps the very best thing that happened to me on my trip to Paris is… I bought pants that fit.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking — Tracy, the Parisian frivolity has taken hold of your senses. Or you’re thinking — Tracy, you are a squidgy woman over 50, there are no pants that fit. Especially in Paris. But you would be wrong. CN, I had a RELIGIOUS CLOTHES SHOPPING EXPERIENCE.

This does not happen to me. (See squidgy, over 50 above.) I am 5’10” and a size 14 on a good day. (More like 16, fuck 18 on those Euro sizes.) The chances of me going to Paris and finding clothes that fit me are as likely as a macaroon solving a differential equation.

But miracles happen, CN. I am living proof. As it happens, our hotel was next to this store, CAZAK. The windows were full of gorgeous things and I kept walking by it, and one day (while Mr. CL was scaling a ruin, or smoking a cigar by the Seine) I went in there, intrigued, and ever so slightly intimidated. It’s Paris. The clothes are expensive and beautiful and not for mere North American mortals.

I was greeted by this warm woman, Nadia, who immediately told me she knew what size I was and what would look good on me. (Who the *&$! are you, Nadia? How do you presume to know my unique squidginess?!) I pulled a few things from the rack. Nadia pulled a bunch of other things… and CN, I’ll just cut to the chase — I HAVE A NEW WARDROBE. I am REBORN.

For like two hours (WHO SPENDS TWO HOURS ON A CUSTOMER?) this French woman dressed me better than I could ever dress myself. Okay, she tried to talk me into a sexy leather skirt (“Modern!”) and I drew the line there. But damn, I left that store with a new suit (Knit wool! Peplum jacket! Pencil skirt!), a black dress (she made me alter it tighter around my ass… okay, a point toward “modernity”), a black jacket made of some kind of miracle fabric, a floral dress (for my inner hippy chick), and a scarf with FUR POM-POMS!

I floated out of that store deliriously happy. Like crazy happy, even having spent a lot more on clothing than I ordinarily would ever spend. (They’re going to bury me in that suit.)

And you know what’s different on this Take Back Paris trip? Me. I’m different. Last trip I bought an ungrateful cheater a 400 Euro pen. This trip, I bought myself some exquisite new clothes. Yea me! Yea Mr. CL for being happy I was happy.

I know that sounds so princess-y. But you guys are chumps, you get reinvention. I stepped way out of my comfort zone and it’s all rather exhilarating.

So, about those pants. I confess a second trip to CAZAK. (Hey, I had to fill out the tax rebate forms. Forgot my passport.) I got talking with the owner, Karen, this vivacious Danish woman — 50-something, divorced, retired from an IT career — and we got to gabbing like long-lost sisters. She told me how her life diverted. How she re-created herself and started this shop. About her dream to live in Switzerland some day, and how improbably she made it happen. A little piece of heaven, her own apartment in a 15th century house, in the mountains overlooking a lake. How hard won it all was. And her amazement and gratitude for her good fortune.

And both being tall, busty women she told me how she created her shop to be the kind of store she wished existed for women like us. And I told her how I created a blog to give people the kind of advice I wish existed when I got chumped. And we commiserated about pants.

Look, I don’t know about the rest of you, but pants shopping when you’re 5’10” and middle aged is not for the faint of heart. A) Nothing is long enough in the leg and B) nothing comes up to my waist. No, I mean my REAL waist. Not mid-muffin top.

Karen, turns out, had this issue too and being a seamstress, she created her own line of pants, sizes 2 – 26. All I can tell you is, I tried these stretchy, miracle things on and my thighs disappeared, my ass looked better and THEY CAME UP TO MY WAIST. Oh! And they were dressy and French and Jesus, I don’t know what voodoo Karen does, but my faith in pants is restored. I bought two pair. (They’re around $200 a pair. They were worth it. Money well spent if I don’t have to try on pants again for a long time…)

Anywho you’re all very indulgent to read about my Paris trip and my forays into clothes shopping. I don’t think I’ve ever plugged a product in my 5 years of blogging, but I wanted to give a shout out to Karen (pictured above). In talking (for hours!), it turns out that this talented woman with her amazing shop isn’t online yet (she’s working on it! But if you’re pants-starved contact her, they ship). She was thrilled that I rated her Facebook page 5-stars. I think I was the first to rate it. I couldn’t believe this pants genius with her fancy Parisian shop could ever feel buoyed by a nice review. I was so pleased to offer encouragement (knowing a bit about building an online world), because this shop and the two women in it made me so happy. It’s the least I could do.

And isn’t that what new lives are all about? Paying it forward in pants that fit.

Viva la Paris!

 

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Ask Chump Lady

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  • Tracy, how wonderful! I am enjoying your trip along with you. What a visual! Thank you for sharing. It gives me hope for a wonderful life after all the turmoil. PLEASE take more pictures of Paris. I have never been there but it is on my bucket list! xoxoxox

    • Hey I know that good looking couple in the picture. Tracy, you are radiating joy in that photo

      I’ve never been to Paris and always wanted to go too. I hate travel alone but when I recall traveling w a selfish ass, it doesn’t sound so bad now.

      Btw, It’s no picnic buying pants if you are Elfen sized either and your alterations always cost more than the garment. I love a shop that tailors so god bless Cazak and their 5 lengths sized 2-26. And cudos to your sales person who suggested to alter to show your actual body. I would have loved to hear that conversation.

      I had a visual of you leaving the store with bags of fabulous garments ala Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman minus having to rent yourself by the hour.

      You and the Mr always give me hope.

  • OMG Tracy thanks for sharing. love this soooo much!! I plan to take back a number of places with my new good guy nerd.
    Save trip home and thank Mr CL for letting you share your personal time with us, family from a distance, fellow chumps and warriors.

  • Oh and I am a very squidgy 5’6″ size 16 (14 if I starve myself for a while like I did right after dday). Thanks for the clothes story too!

  • That’s wonderful, CL! Glad you had such a splendid time taking back Paris. It truly is a night and day difference when you find someone who actually is decent and truly cares about you. I’m so thankful for Mrs. DM myself.

  • Glad you had a lovely time. Totally get about reclaiming places,all my memories (from the last god knows how long)of being anywhere with the ex were peppered with an odd feeling of being not real,like I was in some strained adventure movie. God knows what was going through his head,perhaps thoughts of his mistress or whoever else he was screwing. All I know is that things felt strange. I’m slowly revisiting places to try and reclaim them and to replace the distressing memories of being with him there. I feel cheated of so many years of life,they’ve all been revealed as an illusion…like a badly made layer of something you have to dig it all out and start again with something wholesome and honest. Enjoy Paris and your pants and the clean,fresh memories you’ve made. 🙂

    • “like I was in some strained adventure movie. God knows what was going through his head,perhaps thoughts of his mistress or whoever else he was screwing. All I know is that things felt strange.”

      I know exactly how that feels, WantMyLifeBack.
      It was like the axis of my earth shifted just a little.
      Enough to alarm me that something was very wrong.

      ChumpLady – This was a great post to read to today.
      I really really want to own Hawaii back.
      It ended as the worst time of my life, and that is not fair to those islands..

      Thanks for the kick in the butt!
      And, I need that website – I’m short with no hips but a big belly. hohoho

  • Reading this story makes me happy to be alive, since it is proof that there are good people out there and that a lovely life can be had after having gone through living hell. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Tracy, at this moment I was eating a small shit sandwich when your blog popped in. It made it so much easier! I am so happy for you!

    Thanks for sharing all the great tips! One of my favorite pair of pants came from Paris, sugestion of a very nice sales lady. Too bad they have already bit the dust (I have cats…).

    #uglyamericanmoment: LOL! What is it with cheaters and Starbucks? Mine insisted in stopping in a recently inaugurated Starbucks packed with young kids in Moscow. It was the worst cup of coffee of my life. I waited for almost 15 minutes to be served while cheater rested at the table, probably on his cellphone with AP, who, I later discovered, was supposed to go in my place, the reason why cheater was so mean and rude to me for the whole trip. I had always wanted to visit Russia and jumped at the chance and cheater had no legitimate excuse to say no. So I have to reclaim Moscow.

    Beauty begets goodness.

  • Tracy, you are amazing! Thanks for posting this! You make me feel mighty when infidelity made me feel worthless. I’m going to go to Paris now because of you, even if I have to go alone. And that’s a huge deal. I hated anything French because my ex left me for the French teacher at his school. Way to go taking back Paris!!!

  • I honeymooned in Paris in 2010, there were some minor dramas… him having some beers and wanting to shake a little mini car on a movie set near the Sacre Coeur church (I was all in happy romantic stroll mode), followed by him wanting to pee in a fancy street behind the Sacre Coeur and then after sunset him friending sketchy guys hanging out on the stairs in front of the Sacre Coeur which kinda scared me… he was minda drunk and threatened to go off hang out with them in Paris because I was a party pooper… I got so fed up I started walking back to the hotel crying. He followed leaving some distance and once on the hotel did a drunk kinda rage thing and threatened to lean on the tiny crappy balcony almost falling over from 4 high…

    Other than that I freaked out in the catacombes because claustrophobia and too many skeletons so I kinda made bim run through it… but he was nice about it although we did have big fight later that day in Natural History museum, dont remember why.

    I do think back of that trip happily although now I cant remember what were the happy highlights LOL

        • yes… my ex will always be a kid… as he grew older and the firends of his own age “outgrew” him because they matured, he started getting friends waaaay younger than him, he still hangs with teenagers, not because he is creepy but because he is on that level… was a big aha moment when i realised AND accepted this.

        • + my ex was super depressed when he turned 30… which is strange for a man if you ask me, he doesnt want to grow up, which is why he left me while i was pregnant, his most feared words are”responsibility”, it is for him a scary scary word.

  • Just think: you now have something awesome to wear when you sign your TV deal (since you already have the pen.)

  • Your story reminds me of my trip to Rome. It was during separation after D-Day. I flew over the pond to be with a good friend in London. She took me to Italy to try to cheer me up. The first day I was in Rome I was a sad crying mess. My friend took my by the shoulders and looked into my face and said, “This is my vacation too. Snap out of it, we are in Italy!” From that point I put my troubles away and enjoyed Italy. I ate gelato every day (sometimes multiple times as I was so thin from the d-day diet). I walked through beautiful parks and saw great art. I marveled at all the attractive Italian men and I let them flirt with me. I too did a bit of shopping. I went into one cute dress shop and found the sales woman to be from America, a fellow chump. She had remarried an Italian man and ended up happy in Rome. I tried on a classic pair of black pumps and fell in love. They were very expensive, but the owner of the shop, a lovely Italian woman explained to me: I would dance in the shoes now, then I would sit in them when I could no longer dance, and then I would lie in them when I could no longer sit. They were lifelong shoes! I bought them and still love them. I don’t regret the price one bit.

    So Rome is my Paris I guess. I hope to take my new husband back to Rome to share it with him. Luckily my former cheater spouse has never been to Italy so that special memory is mine alone, not tainted by him. So happy that you and Mr. CL have taken back Paris! And perfect pants are the cherry on top!

  • Sweet baby Jesus, sanctuary.!..Loving every bit of it. Thank you for shoiting straight! Thank your family for putting up with us!
    Love you to pieces…

  • Such a wonderful post Tracy! I went with my son to France 🇫🇷 last year for 2 weeks and we had a splendid time! I took my kids and grandkids on my retirement cruise this summer. When we were in the steak restaurant after everyone ordered their steaks med-rare my SIL stated thank god we don’t have to deal with over cooked steaks-x always orders them well done. This caused many fights between us. He didn’t like them that way-just following what his brother does. So we took back “steaks”.

    I am a big fan of buying the right clothes and how they absolutely turn around your self esteem. But $200 for one pair??? I’d have to have a book deal for that! So now we can officially refer to you as a **FANCY PANTS WRITER”. Glad you had fun. Viva la Paris and your bonne compangion!!

  • Wow! This was such a great all-around happy post! It’s funny, but I’m one of those odd people who like looking at peoples vacation photos and hearing their stories. 🙂 Sooooo happy you found that nice store that helped you pick out new clothes (from Paris!!) and the dream pants. 🙂

    I spent most of the afternoon looking at Rick Steve’s videos about France, so I was so excited to see your post today. I went to France with my ex-cheater twice and we had a really fun time. When he was engaged with me and our life, he was great. But when he was distracted by work or work-whores, he was cold and distant. There’s something very disordered with a person that has hot and cold behavior like that. When we were in Paris, I have two really sad memories. One time we were walking by all the Paris stores and we passed a lingerie store and I flirted with him and said we should go in and buy me something sexy. My offer was met with silence and the narc “smirk.” In our 24 years together, he never once bought me lingerie or even suggested I go buy some. I did go out and buy quite a few things about 15 years into our marriage and he loved them! All the lingerie was the first thing I threw in the trash after D-day. The other memory was walking around Paris at night and we walked to where Princess Diana died. He just felt so distant that night and I just remember thinking “We are in Paris! The city of love and lovers and he feels so distant.” I guess I was getting flashes of who he truly is at that time.

    Thank you again for sharing your trip and insights with us!

  • Tracy, I cannot tell you how this post renewed my spirits today. I’m feeling sad about a particularly horrifying week with the ex threatening me, insulting me, then telling me he missed me and thought about me all the time and said he was feeling “alone and scared”(isn’t the whore doing her job?) ALL IN THE SPACE OF 24 HOURS.

    You give me hope. I am beyond thrilled for you to have reclaimed Paris and to have reclaimed your life! You are my inspiration! THANK YOU for Chump Lady, and THANK YOU for Chump Nation!

    And buying pants that fit? PRICELESS.

  • Oh how lovely! Paris is on my bucket list and I hope to travel there soon. Traveling is my passion and since psycho cheater pants left 2 years ago, I have been to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, D.C., Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Orlando (Disney) and Africa (Kenya!). I even found my own cute nerd to travel with. Next week I’ll be in Mexico. I love the pants story as am also on a constant quest for pants that fit (5’4″, 52 and a bit squidgy). Getting rid of that ass-clown opened up a new world for me. Literally. Macchu Pichu here I come!

  • “I’m now older, fatter, happily remarried, and an empty nester. I’m at a different stage of life, and grateful as hell.”
    Yup. My vibe exactly..and enjoying it the the fullest degree.

    I keep threatening to go of to Paris to spend more time at the Louvre all alone. I went with to Paris in 2012 with daughter but only spent a few hours there which made me feel like I had cheated myself.

    Good on you !!

    (Harboring a fantasy that a Unicornomore-like story makes it into future CL projects that you can sign with your vengeance pen)

  • Yay a for you!
    I love to read this example at how life can be.
    So happy to hear you have been enjoying yourself with Mr. CL, and getting a new wardrobe.

    PS: I swear just traveling cheater/narc free is a gift in itself.

    • AOOK, so true! Travelling after tossing skankboy out is sooooooo much more fun! I have travelled more in the past two years than I did with him for 16 years. Headed to Vegas this month to celebrate my 60th birthday and my mother’s 80th birthday and don’t have to worry about a 62 year old whiny ass cry baby! Life is good!

  • I can’t even say how happy I am for you. And it’s not at all self-indulgent to write about your trip. You’re showing the way. You’re showing how to take back PARIS. If you can take back Paris, the rest of us can take back the local Cinemark or that nice path along the lake. If you can, we can.

    And how wonderful to give Karen the Parisian pants genius. I dream every day about an American dressmaker who can produce lovely Jackie Kennedy-esque little dresses in wonderful fabrics that fit middle aged bodies (and no, I don’t care that I’m 66. I’m middle-aged until I retire and that’s at least 10 more years). Maybe someone will read this and make my fantasy come true.

    • Come to Paris and go to CAZAK. You’ll be transformed. Someone DID make this fantasy come true. Unfortunately, she lives in Paris. But man, when she goes online, I’m posting the link. Most women I know need this fantasy to come true too. Rock on with those Jackie dresses! There was a woman when I was there (I’d guess age 70) who rocked a leather motorcycle jacket!

      • Yoko Ono is 84 years old and she looks great in a leather motorcycle jacket. Looking forward to shopping online at CAZAK!

  • I’ll be taking back Paris very soon myself. Probably next year in the Spring/summer shoulder. I did it with Douchebag this last February for our “25th Wedding Anniversary” his idea a whole new level of reconciliation I thought, after three years of hell after D-day. We did it all romantic dinner for the anniversary, a lock on a railing on the river Seine and throwing keys into the river pledging love blah blah blah…..

    To come home and finding a new secret email account two more OW fighting it over him (he met them in the same place, waitresses at the Workies for you Aussies). Says it all right there. 130 odd nude and semi nude pictures of me from our trip that he took while I was toileting, showering etc and had no idea he was taking which he pornographified and sent to said secret email to do what the hell with I don’t know!!! And various other pictures of other unsuspecting women he had stalked in various places. It was the end for me I realised it was all a charade the whole fucking lot and so I sent him packing literally with 3 suitcases. He had the ordacity to try and tell our kids on the way out that

    “Although it seemed really strange he was leaving, we both loved each other so much, but just couldn’t meet each other’s expectations!!” WTFever

    I shut that down by bursting into laughter and as the kids knew the truth from the first time around just said it up straight. He has been cheating again and I’m divorcing him. He was in shock of course trying to play the diplomat as he shuffled out the door and salvage something anything. But I wasn’t having any of it. Thanks to Chump nation I was ready and knew I had to cut the snakes head off. No more Chumping for me.

    And it’s been such a blessing I am free. So bring on Paris 2018 and to finding a pair of bolt cutters and that damn lock if it hasn’t already been removed and I’ll be damned if it’s not removed by the time I leave.

    Viva la Paris

    • Dragonlady, I read they cut down all the locks from this bridge http://nypost.com/2016/04/29/paris-puts-an-end-to-love-locks-tradition/. Not sure if it’s the same one you went to, but if it is — someone already did the work for you! I only knew about it, because the cheater and I were thinking of taking our kids to Europe summer of 2015, but I busted him out with the whore-worker exactly three years from today, 10/7/14. Right about now he texted me, “I’m sorry it’s so late, but I feel I need to be here.” “Here” was supposed to be out on a business dinner, but “here” was actually having drinks with a newly divorced work-whore. So anyway……I remember doing research on this bridge and thinking it would be so romantic to do the whole locks thing. I wonder how many people relationships survived after that? I now know two couples that didn’t. You and a local chump guy friend.

      • Unfortunately it wasn’t the bridge. Yes all the locks have been removed from the bridges as of Feb 2017. They do have a whole section of fence on the end of the Ile de la Cite where you can add your locks to. But Douchebag wanted to make sure it would be secure and hopefully go undetected. Yes he sounded so sincere. It makes me feel sickened by his treachery. So it’s on a rail above the flood height of the river so it would survive longer. We spent a deal of time looking for just the right spot. When I have asked him about that moment. He responds “What I was feeling was real. I love you and still do!!” Yup Nope not when you are doing what you were doing. Justify it what ever way you want. That’s not love!!!
        Hoping the local authorities have done a cleanse.

        • Wow. To go to such trouble to show you how dedicated he was to you and your relationship. And then he’s has a whole double life at the same time!! Just another character disordered fxckwit! It’s amazing that he thinks that’s love. I read somewhere that cheaters definition of love is “I love how you make me feel right now.” Their love has nothing to do with sacrificial love, giving and thinking about how can make the other person feel loved or make their life happier or easier. Hopefully someone found the lock and cut it down for you already.

  • So, so pleased and happy for you, Tracy! I have yet to reclaim Paris but I have reclaimed a number of places since my divorce over 4 years ago. Funny how the life with cheater ex seems to be eons ago. Meh is truly a blessing – meh has allowed me to live in the present and simply enjoy an unencumbered life.

  • Sweet Jesus. I’m going to Paris next in the spring and, as a 5’11” person, I also have a serious length issue and cannot wait to slide some Magic Pants up onto this body!

      • Yes. ::sad face:: Also, my previously-annoying shoe size of 11 crept up a *half* size. Not 12, like when I was pregnant with the kids (hard but find-able), but 11.5.

        I am restricted to a men’s 9-9.5, depending on fit, 12s that run small, or 11s that run large. Sensible Clark’s walking shoes and Bass’ men’s shoes (run super narrow and are sharp and constantly on clearance) are my standbys.

        Paris flashback, pointing to my feet and asking in my most basic French: “Avez-vous la taille quarante-cinq ou six?” ::shopkeeper erupts into hysterical laughter::

        Merci a ton, bye. 😛

        So between the pants, jacket sleeves being 3/4-length, and my damn footwear issues, it’s very difficult for me to look put together and “normal.” I stick to skinny jeans and pixie pants in tall, tunics, and cardigans.Last time I was in Paris, I bought a TON of shirts because they don’t seem to skimp on length like American clothing makers do.

  • CL,
    So glad you took back Paris! I hope CN will have the opportunity to buy some “Take Back Paris” t-shirts…
    (in the style of 80’s concert t-shirts….black torso with
    3 quarter length sleeves)….hear they are coming back in style!

    Glad you had the time off, I felt we all stayed within the fenced barrier, but looking forward to you blowing up my phone at 6 am come Monday.

  • I’m just sitting here smiling! Happy to hear the happiness in your blog today. Happy to know that you are truly happy – especially in Paris with Mr. CL. I also know you will be happy back home sitting in your new pants with that fur ball scarf on writing words of wisdom for CN. You have no idea how happy you have made me…I learned quite a bit about how to deal with everything through my divorce – especially no contact. I reached Meh on a Wednesday this July. If not for you and your CN vocabulary I might have missed it. But I looked forward to it for six years and embraced it when it happened. I can’t thank you enough!

  • Glad you took the plunge and indulged in a Parisian wardrobe. I remember my first shopping there as a student. Those clothes remained in my wardrobe for years.

    I have migrated back to Europe to live and I live an hour’s flight from there. When I do go, my favorite day is to set off with good walking shoes on a sunny morning and just discover new things. And the shop staff are generally a lot friendlier to english-speaking tourists than they were in the old days.

  • Paris is my favourite city. I took stbx there the summer before bd to rekindle out relationship. It was a great trip but now is tainted with the realization he was in the early stages of his relationship of some sort with ow at the time. I plan to go in the spring when I go overseas to visit dd18 who is living abroad now. People think I’m crazy to go alone but I want to take back Paris for myself by myself. I’m afraid of being triggered because it was a good trip with him, but I need to reclaim the city I love and make new memories.

    • I hear you Renny. My motivation to. By myself for myself. It’s an amazing place and I love it. Climbed to the top of The tower on the Sacre Coure. Spell binding. Douchebag was such a misery moper. It’s the first time we had traveled over seas together and he saw i side of me he really “loved”. But he was so grouchy and disconnected I let him be. And just soaked it all in and had a ball doing my own thing and organising the day’s outing. Didn’t realise it was because he was thinking about which Hoe at the Workies to choose. Oh so many sparkly vaginas!!!!! I got accused of controlling the holiday and not stopping to smell the roses. Bastard just couldn’t be happy if he tried. Even now with Peachtitties (the one he ended up choosing and got her fired from work, they weren’t very happy hthey had conducted their relationship on premises while she was supposed to be working) her Insta page has a picture of her holding two peach halves in front of her breasts. Yup classy. Now he’s struggling with her wanting to “change” him because howhe’s treating her, in her words “was probably how you treated your wife and I’m not standing for it”, the irony they keep breaking up and then getting back together. It’s hilarious because nothing has changed and they just make each other angry and miserable. Justice right there 😊

    • Take it back and do NOT fear traveling alone. I saw a lot of single older women dining out alone in cafes. In fact, people are super friendly and talk to you at cafes. (Not in a sleevy pick you up way, but in a talk to the table next to you, it’s what everyone is doing kind of way.) Had a conversation with one lovely woman business traveler — and then Karen, who I mentioned in the post, also single. Totally fabulous. Totally approachable.

      I promise you won’t feel freaky. GO and ENJOY ALL THE PRETTY THINGS!

      • And by “all the pretty things,” do enjoy ALL the pretty things! I love Paris — love love love it and go whenever I can. It’s a wonderful city to be an older single woman in. Dining alone? No problem. Having a little picnic in the park (half-bottle of wine or champagne, baguette, and some divine cheese in the Luxembourg Gardens — who needs anything more)? Perfectly fine. And I also saw lots of mature women dressed really cool without necessarily being fancy, and I realized a painted up pair of Converse can be just as dressy as a pair of Jimmy Choos. — At dinner one night (alone, bien sur), a very handsome young Frenchman at the next table took a moment away from his pals to photobomb my phone pics of the street scene, and not in that condescending way that I feel I get sometimes from the youth of America but instead a genuine human-to-human moment.

        Paris is a spectacularly beautiful, safe, fun city to travel on your own. In fact, I’m long overdue for a return visit, myself.

    • Paris is awesome for the single traveler! I was there for the month of August and had an amazing time. Lots of single diners. Lots of singles at the movies and markets. Nobody stares. Also, there are a ton of Meetups.

      I wish I’d known about CAZAK. Next time!

    • I loved traveling alone in Europe. I was in my mid-20’s, so had a little more more male attention than I wanted, but always there were people friendly if I simply looked up and met their eyes. It was also pretty easy to connect with other travelers and spend a day or several together visiting places and sharing meals, but maybe that was more because of staying in youth hostels. Enjoy yourself.

  • After this shitty week, with my lawyer telling me with extra compassion that he is sorry the asshole doesn’t reply to any communication and that he plans to send our settlement proposal so this nightmare ends soon for me, and a visit to the ob gyn where the counselor made me cry asking me when was the last time I had sex, if I was married or in a relationship (“I’m married but not in a relationship”), forcing me to remember the last days of my marriage, only because I dared to ask for a contraceptive to control my endometriosis…. Paris.

    Paris where we lived for a month when we were just boyfriend and girlfriend. Where I realized I wanted to life with him forever and decided to ask him to take me with him (I was living in our country, he had moved to Paris to do his PhD) after I finished my academic year. Paris which I considered to be my honeymoon. Paris where probably he didn’t love me. Paris where his eyes doesn’t light up in the photos I had. The imaginary Paris where I was dreaming about making him happy and being happy just with him by my side.

    Then I remembered that the imaginary Paris and the real Paris, where I was used because I was a well trained homemaker and discarded when a better hole appeared, share things. Like the Egyptian collection in Louvre, where the cat goddess is. Or the Pantheon, where again the cat goddess is sitting right next to the pendulum. Or the museum with the tapestry of the unicorn in the darkess. I could go to these places where the two Paris intersect. Perhaps this way Paris will stop hurting me this much. And I don’t even liked the city.

  • Thank you, Tracy and Mr. Chump Lady. You inspire me. Traveling was one of the high points of life with Woody, tainted by learning that he was on the computer with other women instead of “working” the way he said he had to during who knows how many of our trips. Hoping for many take-backsies in the future, when I am ready for a new love. Third time’s a charm?

  • Mercí Tracy! As always, you are an inspiration.
    It’s wonderful to read about your happiness in life after being chumped. Also, thanks for the great shopping tip! Paris is not as far from where I live, so really hope to make it into CAZAK one day soon!

  • Tracy, you look beautiful! Thanks for sharing! My goal is to one day take back San Francisco (my honeymoon site). Have a wonderful rest of your trip!

  • I am so happy for you! Every success and happiness you and the Mister have is so throroughly earned! It seems like you have a knack too for avoiding the tourist cattle sites and really having a genuine experience!

    Paris and London are on our dream trip list. Right now we are in Bills Before Thrills Mode. Many of you have heard the sad sack take about how Cold Slab O’Meat burned through our last seven thousand dollars of liquid savings on a weeklong Disney and Universal vacation two weeks before D-Day. Wherein he ignored his stepdaughter and wife, yelled abuse at his own twelve year old daughter for not packing what she needed after yelling at me that I was too controlling and shouldn’t meddle in her packing with my OCDness. And kept abruptly stepping away to text and even Skype The Sluterus. Because Cold Slab wanted to stay in a rental home rather than a hotel, I still had to cook and clean and do loads of laundry every day. He hid in the dining room with his computer and phone. Stepdaughter hid in a bedroom. My daughter and I spent days with only each other aside from meals. I had to use my own money for groceries and anything for both kids and a few meals out. I still don’t rightly know where all that 7k went. The house and tickets were 3 thousand. He still had to borrow money from his Dad to move out a month later. He’s nearly 50 years old!

    That was not going to be how my daughter remembered Disney World. A year later I took both my adult son and daughter to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a cruise to Cozumel. The following year we reclaimed Disney World. We stayed at the hotel we wanted. She wore a full Alice in Wonderland getup from dawn to dusk. We got a meal plan and didn’t cook a thing! We had dinner in Cinderella’s castle. Nobody screamed over missing flip flops. It wasn’t about status or revenge. It was about actively resetting the narrative of our story as a family.

    I have no regrets. Life is now. Life sometimes still hurts. But life is good. We choose goodness and hope.

  • So nice to hear you are having a wonderful time taking back Paris. And getting a wonderful wardrobe. Leading by example gaining a life. It’s very inspiring.

  • Tracy, your trip is fine french dessert. Thanks for sharing a bite. I love your enthusiasm and unbridled joi-de-vivre! We attract like to ourselves…hence you + Karen. Great stories! I hope you & Mr. CL had the time of your lives. Missed you, but it was so worth it!

  • Tracy – you are so pretty in real life! Your cartoons don’t do yourself justice. Great hopeful post. There are so many places my husband has ruined for me – I planned never to go to them again but I have to wait and go with someone good and decent one day.

  • We live for each other’s wins.

    Thank you for everything that you do.

    You deserve every happiness.

  • This was a lovely and very interesting read! It got me dreaming again – last time I was in Paris I was young, single, travelling with a friend. People were nice, food, even on a tight budget was great – lived in bakeries, the art was so stunning. Your post brought back that feeling. Good for you and Mr CL!

  • Ok, (a) what a beautiful couple you are, CL and Mr CL, and (b) your return is impeccably timed, as Esther Perel appears not once but twice in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, portrayed in a positive light, exposing a glaring need for somebody to point out how damaging her message is. I have been trying to draft up a comment or letter to the editor or something, but I am new here and do not have the skills of CL or most of those here on CN.

  • I’m so happy for you both Mr. & Mrs. CL. In particular that you could both go do things you both enjoyed by yourselves and then meet up and enjoy things together. It sounds goofy but my ex NEVER wanted to do anything I wanted and would guilt me over it. So chumpy me did what he wanted, EVERY time.

    Way before DDay #2 with second schmoopie, I was watching the movie The Breakup with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston on cable (asshat was at work) and one scene resonated with me and I have never shook it. Vince Vaughn’s character is a self centered jackass and is sitting at a local bar with the sadz, and his friend the bartender told him something like “Vince when we go out together, I know its going to be fun and I’m going to have a great time. But anyone that knows you knows we are going to be doing something you want to do. When’s the last time we ever went and saw my team play?”. If you watch the clip, you’ll know the bartender doesn’t get the reason behind the behavior but us chumps do. And the clip isn’t talking about cheating although we all know with these self centered, entitled douches this is just another aspect of their character.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWP03hrPdeg

    I knew that was my husband. If we were with his friends, at an event he wanted to attend, he was going to be funny, engaging, and super sparkly. I guess I basked in that glow. If he had to go do something for me like a work Christmas party or a birthday meal for someone in my family, he was going to make me and the kids miserable. Now I know if he isn’t the center stage of attention, he’s just a dick. And we all know theres more times they don’t sparkle than they do. Not worth the trade off. I hope schmoopie is enjoying her 15 minutes of attention and fame.

    CL & CN may these new memories last you a life time of joy and love. Thank you for sharing with us chumps so we can see there is a new, better, cheater free life out there!!

    • Wow twiceachump, that scene really captures the sociopathic narcissist!

      I am sitting here contemplating the whole: if it is about me, it will be great, thing. STBX hosted his own 50th birthday party last night. I am fortunate that I didn’t have to be there due to the guest list and the angriness that would have come with the preparation, but I did think, oh to be a fly on the wall and watch the narcissistic behavior from my new perspective.

      I wonder how many times he was asked about his 5 children and wonder if he blamed me [the brainwashing queen for their absence, (If I am as good as he says, maybe I should considerstarting a cult)]. I wonder if he mentioned that he did not invite his children to his party.

      He is supposed to go on a motorcycle trip to the gulf coast with schmoopie for his birthday this coming week and while I am sorry for anyone suffering from the effects of hurricane Nate, let’s just say, I wouldn’t be sad if it inconveniences cheater in any way.

      It is funny that you equate New Orleans with Paris Tracy, Stbx has always wanted to go there, probably for the debauchery, but fortunately I never went with him. I have been there twice to visit my cousin who is a fellow chump and maintain good memories of the city.

  • Dear Chump Lady,
    I love this post.
    I know I will never get to see Paris, but your story, your pictures, they all took me on a lovely virtual trip to beautiful Paris.
    THANK YOU.

    My favourite part is when you describe the clothes shopping.
    Immediately I thought of when we find something, perfect for us, we buy it and when we get home we love it so much we say, ” I should have bought 2.” You did buy 2!
    YOU are Mighty!

    😊

  • So happy for you!
    And as a squidgy 5’9″ 55 y.o. I am so jealous of the pants!!!’ Long enough!?!? Up to your waist?!?! Miracle in Paris!

  • So happy that you took back Paris! You are a beacon of hope to us still trying to find MEH. Thank you for your wisdom & humor as many of us are still trying to survive. I read your blog daily & can’t wait to find my Tuesday. 💥

  • Thanks for sharing your inspiring trip, CL! Looks and sounds incredible. I am 5’6″ and have long legs, so I totally get the too short pants thing. Happy you found those miracle pants!
    I have taken back many of the places I went with cheater by myself, but I still look forward to experiencing some of those places and many new ones with someone who actually wants to be there with me and is there with me both physically and mentally (not with his mind secretly on someone else, wishing he was somewhere else!)

  • You and your husband are the cutest things ever.

    Love the pants lady and the pen story.

    Grateful for the gift of you and what you have made here. Nobody deserves Paris (and perfect pants, and a kick ass pen) more.

    Whenever I am pensive, going to make the triple P’s my mantra; Paris, pants, pen, Paris, pants, pen . . . 😊❤️

  • A year and a half ago I confided in a colleague, a prominent forensic psychiatrist, about my “sex addicted” ex. I thought he would be sympathetic towards my ex, but instead he said, “he’s just having his cake and eating it”. I was already reading CL so you can imagine how this resonated with me. This morning, coincidentally, I returned from the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires, with the same colleague…and it was the most wonderful holiday! I had dulce de leche every morning with pastries and of course lots of wine and steaks. It was eight days without a kale or spinach smoothie for me too!

    CL, I’m so happy to hear you had an amazing holiday too!

  • Chumplady you are amazing. I’m so glad you took back Paris. I took back eating out this weekend. I am two months out of a bad relationship with a cheating lying stinking pile of garbage. Last night I went out with a very nice, good looking man. The waitress could not seem to contain herself. With the lying, cheating, stinking pile of garbage, he would have been flirting right back. As the waitress had totally ignored me while she was gushing over him, he looked at her and said my lady would like more water. I told him I appreciated that. That I was so used to being disrespected by my ex. He looked at me and he said women like that are rocks. You can pick them up anywhere. And if you are a man that picks up rocks, then you a rock too. He said I would never throw down a diamond to pick up a rock. I loved that. I wanted to share the rock analogy with all my chump friends. Let’s never ever pick up another rock.

  • One a side note, it’s amazing how something that small means something. We get so used to being disrespected that it becomes our way of life. After flirting with everyone around, the ex would then call me jealous and insecure. Being on a date with a man that was respectful was not something I was used to. And thanked him for it. I’ve got a little ways to go, but I’m getting there.

    • This exactly: “We get so used to being disrespected that it becomes our way of life. After flirting with everyone around, the ex would then call me jealous and insecure.”

      He did that from the beginning of our marriage and I always had an off feeling with regards to everything while with him. I was not in my reality but desparately trying to accept it as mine and embrace it. Back to my own reality cheater free now.

  • I too have been in a foreign country, walked into a store, tried on pants that fit perfectly and been deliriously happy. I get it. The thrill does not fade.

  • Tracy – Wow, what a great post. All of it, especially the details that reminded me of what it is like to be in a frame of mind to be able to find joy piddling in a shop and enjoying a museum, or scaling some rickety artifact (that would most definitely be me, ha). There’s something about feeling safe that allows that, I think.

    I kind of think of chumps as being people captured and exiled to some high security prison camp. It’s miserable and we’re all trying to escape to freedom. Its fucking hard to get over the wall, and you fall on your ass so many times and pound the ground in frustration. You think you’ll never see home again.

    Then someone gets away, then another, and you feel so happy for them and it makes you smile that they made it (even if you haven’t), and gives you the determination to keep trying for yourself. It gives you hope.

    The story of your trip is wonderful, and inspiring. So are the stories of others like yours posted here. I’m glad you and Mr. CL made it over the wall together. You deserve it, you deserve it, you deserve it! And thanks for this site that does so much to show the way.

  • This is great, CL, so happy for you! You give me hope. I was in Paris on a business trip a month after DDay in early 2016. I was barely able to collect myself in front of other people and attend meetings and put a smile on my face. I then wondered around the streets and visited the great places and the ever-encompassing thought was why, why, why….why couldn’t he appreciate what he had, why could he not be there to enjoy this beautiful place with me. Paris was filled with tears, followed by Lyon, then by Verona, Parma, Milan and Rome. All these cities I visited for the first time in my life and had eyes filled with tears non-stop. I look at my pictures now and realize I was physically there but not mentally or emotionally present. I have to reclaim those cities to myself now.

    While you were in Paris, I was in Seattle. I met with a beautiful and successful and strong woman and she was twice a chump with 40 years shared between two cheaters. We shared stories and could not stop talking. She is in a beautiful relationship now with a kind man. I was so happy for her. She also gave me hope.

    Thank you for the hope, CL.

    • I also did some crazy shopping in Paris. I actually lost weight after DDay and was ruefully smiling that at least I got some good out of it. Shopped all my heart out. Now 1.5 years later nothing fits. All my Paris and Milan wardrobe has been hanging there waiting for the better days. But I, on the other hand, feel good. I feeeeeel good, Da-da-da-da-da-da-dum!!!

  • So many things to love about this post, didn’t even read the comments first.

    A Moreau museum?!? Holy fucking shit. 4 years of Catholic prep-school French? That I took solely to go to France for the art?!? Art school fine art painter drop out?!? Ermerherrgd.

    Getting the whole floor to yourself?!? Kaboom!!! Many years ago, worked in a museum. The day it was closed to the public, would spend 2 hours in the chapel that was completely restored from 14th c. England to look at the color of the light filtering in thru the windows.

    I can’t tell you how much I love this post. 💕💕💕💞💞

    Now, to read the comments. CL, if you ever come to PA …. fan girling out here! I think I may still have access to private areas of the museum. 😄

  • My stepson came by–he’s applying to grad school through a group app & one of the questions has one make a bucket list. It’s a great idea!

    I’d use it to take back Napa Valley; my ex took his first wife there & one of the mistresses. I’ve never been, but I can still take it back, no? (Plus I can pay for it myself these days. 😃)

    And I love Paris. After buttoned-down London, it’s not only chic, it’s just so free.
    Great post–very encouraging!

  • Tracy, it’s so lovely to hear about your great vacation. Paris is on my bucket list and I’m so glad I didn’t go with my cheater. One of the first things I said through all of this was Paris will be mine, thank god I didn’t share it with him. Don’t apologize about vacation blogging – anything you write about is always a good read. Cheers!

  • “Okay, the other thing about that trip to Paris 11 years ago was I bought him a 400 Euro Dupont pen for his birthday and presented to him with great fanfare. Which I, um… later retrieved during the divorce.”
    So, CL, did he swipe back the shitty tie-die license plate cover he gave you?
    🙂

  • You deserve every pastry, every stitch of that fabulous new wardrobe, every glass of French wine, every art museum, every minute with someone who values you (and likewise for Mr. CL). I’m so glad you took back Paris and showed the world how it’s done.

  • Loved your writing and despite being an Aussie bogan, one of my favourite artists is Gustave Moreau. My first boyfriend, who was cheating on me with his ex, naive 19 year old me thought they were friends was a book rep and art lover. He had a vast collection of art and coffee table books and I liked to look at the works of Gustave Moreau, Jewel like and intricate.
    Loved the little rabbit picnic also, soo cute…

  • Oh Tracy! Your Paris take-back sounds marvelous! I’m so glad you had a wonderful time and you invested in you. Being an apparel sewing enthusiast myself, I know from personal experience what it’s like to wear clothing that fits and fits you well. I owned a store that sold high end apparel fabric for people to make their own clothing – nevermind that I had DDay right as I kicked off a brick and mortar shop after being online for 3 years. Anyway, I know of what you speak when you find beautiful clothing that makes you feel like a million dollars. Kudos to Karen for creating such a wonderful shop!

  • Congratulations, Tracy!

    I have not yet taken back Paris. My last vacation with the Fucktard was to France. Nice, St. Tropez, St. Paul de Vence, Les Baux, Mersault, Epernay, then on to Paris. So I spent 9 days driving across France while the Fucktard sat whining in the passenger seat with a bottle of wine between his knees and a glass in his hand. He complained bitterly about the lack of acceptable vegetarian food. He complained that people in France smoked (this was over 20 years ago — A LOT of people in France smoked). He complained that I wanted to visit museums or look into lovely shops. He complained about the prices of everything. He was constantly needing a phone booth “to check his voicemail at work.” In short, he was the sort of tourist everyone wishes had just stayed at home.

    I learned later that he had promised that trip I spent months researching (and paying for) to his AP, who was extremely ticked off that I hadn’t taken the bait and refused to go after the Fucktard spent weeks in advance picking fights and behaving like a jerk on steroids. Hence the need to check the voicemail regularly and call another continent to soothe the poor little lamb. He took her on the same trip later to make up for her hurt feelings, right down to the same itinerary and hotels. No points for effort or originality there.

    So Paris still needs to be reclaimed, but I have taken back Nice, Rome, Florence, London, Boston, and bits of Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean that were previously soiled by the Fucktard. Mr. Survivor and I have our tickets in hand to take back New Orleans in a few months. Let the good times roll!

  • How lovely! The last time I saw Paris…I was 5’10” and a size 8. Hoo boy!

    Hélas, les pantalons magique do not have a web shop (so damned Euro of them). So I will offer a booster for my fave stateside shop– I recently bought some jeans from them and Holy Cow! I felt like a new woman. (If you are a standard size or not comically long-legged this may not make sense to you.) I am now 5’8″ due to my spine progressively collapsing, but my damnable legs are as ever. And I’m nearly 60, and there are two of the me who was last in Paris, lard-wise.

    Alons-y. If you can’t hop a plane, check out https://universalstandard.net. They are fantastique!

  • I love this Tracy. What a fabulous and inspiring trip that could not be possible with kill joy that is the cheater. ASC (cheating ex) had misery and abuse in him at all times, turning even a glorious walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into an episode of the Twilight Zone. No more. I now love travel, but also simple outings to parks, for Dim Sum, to the library. Life is good. Lots of love to all.

  • So glad you reclaimed this city!

    The French know that life is short, so enjoy the delicious food and pretty things while you can. No margarine, use real butter. No imitation-leather knockoff clothes….real, designer leather! They spend more on quality items (clothes, food, art, etc.) . They have fewer clothes in their closet, but what they have is quality. They don’t gorge themselves on food, but what they eat is decadent.

    Life is also too short for cheaters. Only genuine-character people!

  • A little late in commenting, but CL I just love this post! And you found pants that fit – that’s just a wonderful bonus!

  • Tears of joy, yay you!!!!

    Well deserved!!!

    Happy Anniversary to you Mr. CL!!!

    I didn’t have a honeymoon with either exh, so *IF* I’m ever blessed with honest to God true love, you just sold me on Paris!!!

    Carbs? Yes, please
    Wine??? Fill ‘er up!!!
    Butter??? Mmmmmhhhhhmmmm
    Pants that fit??? Yes, Lawd!!! I’m 5’10”, 250, pants that fit is my unicorn
    Happily getting to travel with your love, annnnnnnd having the freedom to be yourself?!?! Sign me up!!!
    Cheers!!!

  • Late to this, but just wanted to acknowledge your great blog post. Moi, j’aime bien Paris. For us euro folk, buying clothes in the USA is a rare treat, because we feel a size or two smaller!

    You give me hope – real hope not hopium – that such a great experience with a partner/husband can be mine too one day.

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