Dear Chump Lady and CN,
Two years ago on Valentine’s Day (which also happens to be my birthday) I discovered my husband was carrying on an affair with his co-worker that he had eight months prior assured me he had completely ended.
At this point I was already reduced to 85 pounds, on anti-depressants, and for some reason (PTSD) I saw his affair partner everywhere I went. On the L train, in stores and restaurants. I would disguise myself each time I left the house so “she wouldn’t recognize me.”
Like many fellow chumps I had gone through 8 months of pure pick-me-dancing hell as I attempted to contort myself into all sorts of pleasing forms in order to show him I was better than the 25-year old he had chosen over me. I was much cooler, smarter, more beautiful, and a damn good mother and wife…..right? Of course none of that mattered.
My two children (aged two and four years old at the time) had in many ways lost their mother the day D-day first went down. I literally thought the second time around I would not last.
I was alone in New York where we had moved so he could take up a job at a tech-start up (startups being notorious breeding grounds for cheating and narcissism.) I had kept the affair a secret from all my friends and my family in my home country. It was an unbelievable burden.
It was that Valentine’s Day, when I was in the deepest pit of despair that I finally came to realize that I needed to get away. That the situation I was in was certifiable abuse. I remember calling my best friend and confiding in her. She flew down that very day.
I left my husband and the city that had been my home for seven years. There was an uneaten chocolate birthday cake in the fridge and an unwrapped iPhone on the counter (which he thought would make a great birthday present for the wife he had shattered with his infidelity.)
Fast-forward to now. This week, I will mark my Valentine’s Birthday with my two children, in our own home. The home I created for us. My parents and siblings and their wives will celebrate with us over pizza. My sweet and kind boyfriend of just over a year will give me a loving hug and kiss. He understands Valentine’s Day is fraught with difficult emotions for me. We treat this day like a cassette tape. We just record over the old crappy song with a new one, whether that means taking a trip or having a nice dinner out. The old memory is still there, but each year, it fades a little more.
This is the first time I am sharing my story with CN, despite having been a silent follower of this blog for years. I have garnered great strength and wisdom from this community. I wanted to share my story so others can take comfort in it. To maybe give some hope to someone who might be feeling like a frayed thread as I once did. There is light and hope up ahead.
On this Valentine’s Day I am sending real love and hope to all my fellow chumps and a grateful hug to Chump Lady herself.
Happy almost birthday! And thanks so much for sharing your story with CN! May your cassette tape be forever full of mightiness and devoid of bad fuckwit cover bands (and their groupies).
Letters like yours really underscore the Gain a Life message here — it’s not all gloom and despair. A better life is out there. Move towards it. Don’t let anyone devalue you another second.
I love that when you summoned up your courage to tell your friend, she was there for you immediately. Give her a hug from all of us.
I’m curious how other chumps are resetting the Valentine’s Day holiday. (Aside from reading the Infidelity Valentines winners here tomorrow!) Assuming you acknowledge the day at all… It’s not necessary!
Until I married Mr. Chump Lady, my Valentine’s Days went largely uncelebrated, or unrequited. (Yes, even within prior marriages… ugh…) Mostly it was a day of construction paper hearts and glitter glue with my son. We had a lovely tradition there for years of making the school Valentines (the store-bought ones weren’t allowed at his school.) That was fun, but now he’s at college and libertarians don’t do glitter glue. (Or maybe they do, and spell out giant Ayn Rand treatises with it…. ) Anyway, he’s a grown-up and I have a Valentine — my husband.
I confess my years-long Valentine’s Day drought has resulted in an unhealthy accumulation of heart paraphernalia today. I decorate. I’ve got a bowl full of old Valentines, and hearts, and flowers, and some presents for Mr. Chump Lady … (And not only does he reciprocate — he slam dunks this holiday.)
Although last year I WON VALENTINE’S DAY. It was my greatest Valentine’s Day coupe. I won’t reveal all my methods, except to say I pulled off an amazing feat of nerd love — I got Ruth Bader Ginsburg to personally inscribe her book to him!
Mr. Chump Lady is a civil rights lawyer and a big fan of the Notorious RBG. I sent Justice Ginsburg an obsequious love letter with a photo of Mr. Chump Lady at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. carrying a sign that said, “TEXANS KNOW BULLSHIT WHEN THEY SEE IT.”
I hoped that might charm her. (How could any thinking woman fail to be charmed? Hands off, ladies!) I told Justice Ginsburg how he reveres her, and it would mean a lot… and…
Damn if she didn’t sign his book!
How are you loving the special people in your life this week? Heck, how are you loving yourself this Valentine’s Day? Thanks Iris!