Today is my 10-year wedding anniversary. I don’t generally blog about myself or the goings on at Chez Chump. But I thought I’d make an exception as I’ve got something to share in the Mighty column — I’ve been in a healthy marriage for a DECADE.
I don’t suck at this. Mr. CL doesn’t suck at this. We’re both pretty great partners.
Why is this a revelation? Because if you’ve been chumped, you’ve probably carried around baggage that the problem was you. You’re unlovable. Controlling. You make pasta wrong. You’re embarrassing. You drove them to it.
Why should you think such a thing? Because your cheating partner told you so — and so did all the resources purported to help you. (i.e., the Reconciliation Industrial Complex.) You weren’t “meeting their needs.” You demanded too many answers. You couldn’t forgive this nebulous thing we aren’t allowed to discuss. You didn’t love unconditionally, horizontally, or swung from a trapeze.
So, give up, chump. Just give up. Stay hopelessly devoted to a cheater, says the RIC, don’t give up on THAT. No, give up on expecting mutuality and respect. Give up on mattering.
I didn’t give up.
Mr. CL, who endured a much longer 22-year-long mindfuck, didn’t give up either.
We found each other and it stuck.
I didn’t earn Mr. CL because I learned a Lesson. He was a gift. What changed is that I could recognize an opportunity (fix your picker!), and I let myself be open to the idea. And then — this is the crazy part — I let myself be ridiculously brave after I’d suffered two crushing failures at this life partner thing.
When I met Mr. CL, I was a twice-divorced squidgy 42 year-old woman with a kid. A year and a half later, I moved to Texas, a state the color of dead grass, to be with him. A state with open carry gun laws, jalapeños (pain is NOT a flavor), drought, tornados, floods, rattlesnakes, fire ants… (Don’t get me started on Texas.) Suffice it to say, I never imagined myself in Texas.
I never imagined myself married to a Texas trial lawyer who drove a quad-cab Ford diesel pickup truck with a gun rack. I didn’t get the life I planned. I got a BETTER one because I was brave.
When I left a cheater, I didn’t know what was on the other side of my life. I just knew that I MATTERED. And I wouldn’t be accepting abuse. Whatever it was I’d had when I was married was toxic, lopsided, chaotic and painful. I left for an ideal — self-respect. I deserved better. I had ZERO expectation that I would live to see a day I’d find “better.”
Things were demonstrably better after I left the cheater. As we say around here, “the walls in my house sung.” I created a good, safe, well-ordered life. I had a job I loved, and a little house that was just mine, and a garden with two pears trees, an apple tree, a cherry tree and raspberry bushes. My son could walk to school. It was a hard-won kind of heaven. It was enough until I met Mr. CL.
Trauma can make you go two different ways — you can curl yourself up and retreat. Or you can be a bold risk-taker. Few things in life hurt more than being chumped. You stared down the worst sort of humiliating rejection and survived. So why not be brave?
Ten years ago today, I woke up in Lockhart, Texas. The day was hellishly hot. Hotter than a June bride in a feather bed, as my grandfather would say. So hot we drove the two blocks to the Caldwell County courthouse. Judge Jarrett fit us in between traffic violations. It was just us and the judge as our witness. Mr. CL wore a suit, I wore a sundress. Exchanging vows took about 10 minutes, and then we walked across the street and shared a slice of coconut cream pie.
Since then, we’ve muddled through blending families, launching three young men into adulthood, a lawsuit (from my son’s deadbeat father. He lost, of course he did.), a flood, the death of Mr. CL’s father, a couple health scares, a relocation to D.C., new jobs, expanding waistlines, gray hair.
None of this was as hard as one day spent with a fuckwit. What a difference a loving, invested partner makes.
Today Mr. CL made breakfast tacos for breakfast. I put hot sauce on mine, because I’ve grown a lot in 10 years. We exchanged cards. I failed to adequately express the goopy love I feel for him, but I tried.
Mr. CL wrote:
“I met you when I thought my life had been destroyed. Turns out, my life was just beginning!”
Here’s to new beginnings!