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Chump Lady Slouches Toward Another Year

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Today is my birthday and every year I rerun the first birthday column I wrote in 2012. It’s a meditation on craptacular chumpy birthdays, and what a difference a new life — and a new partner — makes.

(Not that you can’t have the new life without a new partner. This always bears repeating.) Fair warning, however, this post is goopy.  

****

Well, I try not to blog about myself too much, because God, how dull. (Mommy blogging anyone? Does anyone want to know about my son’s travails with geometry?) But I’m going to make an exception today, because today is my birthday. (Cue Leslie Gore… “It’s my birthday! And I’ll blog if I want to! Blog if I want to!”…)

I’m 46, if you’re curious. Fairly ancient. [Editor’s note. I am now 54. Officially ancient.]

What does my descent into middle-aged decrepitude have to do with infidelity? Well, my 46th birthday is a nice reminder of my 40th birthday, which sucked epically. And I thought I’d tell you about it as a little example of how different life can be post-cheater.

When I turned 40, I had just moved to a new state with my then-husband for his job. I’d been married four months. We bought a 100-year old fixer upper house (with my money) and it had been badly neglected. The  widow who owned it hadn’t done yard work since her husband died years ago. But hey, you know what they say about codependents, right? Codependency is the addiction to the POTENTIAL of things. I was still a flaming codependent. I loved the potential of this ancient pile of house and I was resurrecting the garden single-handedly.

It was the day of my 40th birthday and I ordered myself a truckload of cow manure from a local farmer. He delivered it, dumped it in my yard and I spent the day ankle deep in shit, shoveling cow flop around.

At the time — swear to GOD — I thought “I’m ankle deep in shit on my 40th birthday. This must be a METAPHOR for something.”

My metaphor called me about six weeks later. It was the Other Woman phoning to let me know she existed. Turns out — surprise! — my new husband had a mistress spanning 20 years and three marriages. No, I had NO IDEA. Remember, I’m a CHUMP. No clue. None. Zip. Zilch.

I had just moved to a no fault divorce state, financed a serial cheater’s career move, and bought a 100-year old fixer upper with this fucking sociopath.

How I got out of that mess is another story for another time (many miracles and a lot of idiocy on my part — idiocy I share with you as trial-tested results of What Not To Do). The point was… my birthday.

My 40th birthday sucked. I literally spread shit on my 40th birthday. My cheater husband’s gift to me was a pen. (Admittedly a nicer gift than the tie-dye motif license plate cover he presented to me that Christmas). And during that weekend, unbeknownst to me at the time, he was off screwing his mistress. Cherry on top of the shit sundae.

What a difference six years makes.

Today I am remarried to a great guy who is truly my better half. He’s nerdy and kind and super smart. Verbal. Bright. A mensch. A wonderful father to his kids and a rock to my son. He eats too much popcorn and loves polka music. His quirks fit my quirks. I marvel every day at my amazing fortune that this is my life and he is my husband… and I will shut up now before you choke on my treacly, heartfelt, love goop.

Mr. CL has been pestering me for the last week about what I want for my birthday breakfast. He is a master at French toast, and tragically for him, I do not like French toast. (“It’s JUST LIKE BREAD PUDDING! You love bread pudding!” No, it’s not the same. French toast is a pale substitute because it’s not drenched in Bourbon.) I got a sweet roll and coffee and roses for breakfast. Swoon.

He took me out on a date last weekend and gave me a ridiculously extravagant gift. He put a pressed shirt on, and the man hates to wear all things dry-clean-only. He opened my door. He bought the fancy dinner.

I’m not writing this to make you hate me. I am writing this to say — YOU ALL DESERVE THIS. Everyone deserves to have someone in their life who delights in delighting them. Who gets honest to God pleasure from giving to them. Who will go to whatever effort just to PLEASE you on your birthday.

You know what’s sexy? EFFORT. Effort is sexy.

I didn’t know this until I was 42 and met my husband. I spent a lifetime in my relationships shoveling shit to one degree or another. I’m not saying (sniff!) no one loved me, no one bought me a pretty present. I’m saying — I didn’t know what reciprocity felt like. What it was to love someone who loved me back just as hard, maybe harder. Who if I lobbed the ball to him, picked it up and lobbed it right back. Who threw it further into the green, past me, so that I had to run to catch it. Who (damn him) is ahead on this birthday celebration thing. But I have a few things planned… his turn is coming…

Chumps — do not settle. Good people who make effort exist. Go find each other.

Going to go celebrate some more. I’ve got a sugar coma now, between my prose and the birthday cake… maybe I’ll go take a nap… Happy birthday to me!

Postscript: Us earlier this summer (we took our masks off momentarily). We got to spend a chunk of the summer hiding/working in Michigan. Spending today driving back. Farewell whitefish spread! Regular columns resume Monday!

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Happy Birthday Tracy.

    Your snark helps a lot of people.

    Have a great day, and thanks for the reminder that other kind and loving people exist.

    • Happy birthday and many more. I turned 50 this year and he didnt say so much as f÷×%k you to me. This will be the last year of shit birthdays. I am almost set to go !

      • Happy birthday! Have a great day! You are a star! I don’t remember my 40 bday. But my most memorable FW was he bought me a small bday cake With my money. Put it on the counter said happy birthday, went back outside to work on a car with a friend and told me to cut a couple pieces for them and bring it outside. I got in my car and left for a couple hours. Gifts from him were rarely joyful.

        • FWs are so grand.

          My FW rarely remembered my birthday, though I always made a big deal of his. The only time I ever got flowers from my FW was the day my son was born. He ordered them while he was in Vietnam. The other time was on my 39th birthday. Actually a month ahead of my birthday. My Bday is 6 Oct, he sent me flowers at work on 5 Sep. He called and said since I always forget your Bday, though I would send them a month ahead.

          Fast forward a year later, and I am pretty sure he sent those flowers out of guilt. I am guessing it was when he started screwing schmoopie. The year following my 39th birthday was the year he started getting real nasty. It blew up 25 Dec of the following year. I turned 40 in Oct, and Dday was 25 Dec.

      • Happy Birthday Tracy. 🎉His birthday was in May. During this shit show that is 2020, I found a way to get him things he wanted for a motorcycle trip he was taking shortly after his birthday. It was difficult. When mine rolled around last month, I guess I can say, at least I got a card. I actually preferred that to the socks and granny underwear I received one Christmas! Aren’t they a thoughtful lot?

        • They really are.

          My last Christmas gift from him, the year he was treating me like shit, was a gold necklace, and a beaded silver one. The only other time in our marriage aside from my wedding rings that he bought me jewelry was the first year we were married, and he was in Vietnam. He sent me a cameo necklace, earrings and ring. I have already given those to my granddaughter.

          All my other Christmas presents were either a robe, or kitchen item. Which was fine, I was a very practical person. However, his gifts were always something like a table saw, or something for his boat that was always more extravagant. Again, it was fine as I was practical. I loved him gift giving warts and all.

          Given that scenario, I suspected that either the last Christmas gift of jewelry was a guilt gift, or schmoopie went through her old stuff and that is what I got. It was weird to get two necklaces, and I know he didn’t pick them out. Either way, once Dday 25 Dec came around a few days later, I knew I didn’t want those necklaces, so I gave them to my daughter in law.

          • Crazy isn’t it? I’ve never received the wedding ring he promised me over 22 years ago! He did, however, give me a beautiful pandora charm bracelet for xmas 2017. It was in front of our family members, of course, and 2 weeks before he tried to pick up the venue owner at a family wedding right in front of me! Parting gift maybe? I SOOOO wish I’d known about this site then!

      • I’m sorry. That sucks. I sympathize. For my 50th, I wanted to have a party but my ex kept making excuses and it never happened. I didn’t get a gift. I asked him to take me out to dinner. He did, a month later. DDay was a couple of months later. On our home computer, I found out that he was buying gifts for his girlfriend during my birthday month, with our money. He had a secret mail delivery box set up with the post for his deliveries. This hurt me to the core. This year he sent me a text, “I hope you manage to have a nice birthday today.” Unbelievable.

    • Happy birthday! 🎂🎉💐❤️

      Such a happy pic of both of you.

      You and your book, this site, have been my life line through the shit show, thank you.

      • Can I say ditto to what chumpnomore6 said (she’s always on the ball!)? I’m saying ditto. Did y’all hear that? I now apologize to all Southeners. Enjoy your day, Tracy. Hope you have some fun w/Mr. CL. If that doesn’t sound too weird. Birthday-wise, I’m not that far behind you at 52. Gonna be 53 in January. I’m all for enjoying a birthday.

  • Lovely pic!
    May you always be happy together and cherish every moment of bliss!
    Life can change in the blink of an eye!
    Many more healthy and happy ones.

  • Happy Birthday Tracy! And a big hug and a thank you fpr all the effort. You help so many people with your blog, I just love your wit and smarts, you are truly an amazing and remarkalbe woman!

  • My birthday was yesterday and this is totally relatable. For my first birthday together, my ex husband gave me a phone cord, and for my birthday last year, he gave me nothing. No flowers, no cards, no sex…NOTHING. He told me “If you want to feel special, go see your parents.” What an ass.

    This year, I’m with a new guy that’s treating me like a goddess. His gift to me this year is a new pet! He also gave me flowers, a cake, a card, screaming orgasms… you know, the standard birthday gifts.

    Even though I had a birthday during quarantine, he still make me feel extremely special.

  • The dilapidated fix me up house and the cow shit symbolic of life with a turd. You gained a life and life is a gift, Happy Birthday Tracy! & thank you for sharing your gift with us xx

  • Happy happy birthday Tracy!

    I hope your birthday is as happy as the happy birthday I just had with my daughter, courtesy of your lifesaving blog and your gift of helping victims of infidelity heal.

    ❤️

  • I just turned 60 on the 16th. Still working on a good partner ( and yes the one I’m dating went to honest-to goodness effort—roses, cheesecake with a candle and a fancy steakhouse—swoon!). No red flags but it’s only been 5 weeks so early days. Happy birthday lovely lady it really is so much better without these pieces of shit!

  • Happy Birthday!!

    You are an inspiration. Thank you for your book and for providing this forum. It’s helping me process my shit so i can move on.

    I also appreciate your definition of codependency. In the future, I’d love to read more musings on codependency. As I write this, my chumpy self feels the need to apologize and confess that I haven’t checked the archives yet. 🤪

  • Happiest day to you O Lifesaving CL.

    No pressure.

    I reckon you would sometimes dearly love to leave the whole cheater thing waaaay behind. But with all of us here saying stuff like “You saved my life” and all … chump Feeling Obliged reflex ain’t never gonna fade away.

    I’m about 6 months behind you, (53 1/2), DDay 3 1/2 years ago and Tuesday maybe 12-18 months ago. So I’ve read this post a few times now and every time … new messages.

    No Mr CL for me yet but am seeing someone (also a chump) for 8 months … it’s worth remembering. EFFORT IS SEXY. Effort indicates depth. Bonding capacity. Etc. My dad is a 5 star man but doesn’t do flowers, diamonds, expensive meals for my mum . Just loyalty, respect, devotion, decency and utter reciprocity. My Dad told me that his father told him: “If both partners put in 60%, then surplus is not a bad thing”.

    Also, I have pointy chin like you. Yay.

    • Your dad gives sage advice. 🙂

      On the feeling obligated thing, thanks. I do struggle sometimes with the why’s of keeping the blog alive (new life long ago eclipsed old life), but several things motivate me to continue.

      1.) I truly despise the victim-blaming dominant narrative of the RIC. And I wanted a place that was an oasis from that mindfuck.

      2.) Chump Nation is amazing. The stories of resiliency and mighty knock my socks off, daily. I love the community here and how chumps bolster one another. And no one gets it like someone else who’s gone through it.

      3.) On a professional level, there’s no writing I could do that will ever be this satisfying. You write a cookbook, no one’s going to say “Hey! You saved my life!” (Okay, maybe if it was a low cholesterol cookbook…) I’ve got a niche, a voice on a topic probably no one wants to write about, but okay. There is nothing dull about infidelity. It’s power, sex, mindfuckery. And it’s also underdogs rising up and smacking down their oppressors. That’s how I see it. Cheating is a power play and it’s abuse. And I like writing about resisting abuse.

      4.) It took a long time to build all this, and I have a redesign and a new book and things I’m slogging away on. Finally realized I need to outsource a bit more on the managing the blog side, so I can write. And I’m finally doing that.

      All to say… I left the cheater, but I’m not inclined to leave the blog.

      • Thanks, CL! Staying with the blog despite having moved on so many years ago (thanks! yay!) and writing a book! Great news!

        Can you give us a heads-up on the book’s topic?

        • Spinach (is that a Popeye 💪 thing?)
          There’s been mention of a book on sharing kids with a cheating ex fuckwit, that’s probably it. Just a few chumps hanging out for that book. Will be solid gold when it happens. Again Tracy, no pressure!

      • Thank you, CL! For keeping this corner of the internet running, and for letting me indulge in my favorite your-birthday tradition: reading this re-run. 😀

        I agree that all this MIGHTY keeps resonating, long after meh. It’s why I keep coming back (a little less frequently, but still coming back). And always, always referring new chumps.

        • Happy Birthday Weekend! My coworker friend asked me this week what’s the name of the blog you read? She has a friend who has a cheating husband. Next day I passed along my copy of LACGAL. This book is one of the most important books I’ve ever read because it helped me stop pick me dancing & gave me a blueprint for the divorce.

      • Wishing you the happiest of birthdays, CL! You make the world a better place, and have made all the difference to me and my fellow chumps. Thank you from the bottom of my chumpy heart!🎂🎉❤

      • Happy birthday! I am so glad you will continue to blog. I am firmly in the “you saved my life camp.” I had been so put down by counselors, clergy, and myself during my then 34 year marriage. I had never seen the script flipped, the way you do it. It took months, maybe even the full first year of reading your blog, before I could really get it & begin to turn my thinking around. I especially love Ch.12 in LACGAL, about “I brought my A game.” Since I anticipate divorce very soon, I started working with a therapist again. It was traumatic to relive all 36 years of life decisions when giving her my history. She suggested I go to B&N & get a workbook to help with self esteem. She couldn’t recommend any (may ditch this therapist!). Instead, I am working through LACGAL and I am journaling each day on each positive statement you make about chumps! Ha! “A chump is a trusting soul.” “Who was picking up the slack?” “Who was rocking babies, packing school lunches, and bringing home their paychecks?” “Who existed in the same less-than-stellar marriage and didn’t blow their boss?” LOADS of material for self esteem here! That’s what began to help me July 2018. Love you, Chump Lady!

        • Limbo
          I know right?!?
          Astonishing that there are legions of apparently “trained” psychowhatsit therapy-type people out there and CL does more for us – with authentic compassion, wit and smarts – than so many of them. And I say that with total respect and appreciation for the good ones, (and as someone with a Masters in Art Therapy yes the same as Esther Perel don’t hold it against me!)

          As she says, no one gets it like someone who’s gone through it. So so lucky for us that she went through it, and maintains a stubborn cranky hate for the RIC.

          I really hope u are out of limbo very soon and on the way to meh. It’s so bloody great when you get here. The pain does end!

          (Sending massive self-esteem boosting hugs)

      • Thank you Chump Lady! Your book and this site has certainly saved me. I read the book constantly on a loop so that I don’t slide into utter despair. I have had a horrible story of infidelity, narcissistic abuse, and now the classic smear campaign is raging along with a very aggressive lawyer on my ass. All this while having to be bombarded with him and his young pretty affair partner constantly in my face. I couldn’t get through this without you!
        Happy birthday

        • Happy Birthday Chumplady and husband. Sucks you have to find this first before good attorneys. Lady(tigerbitch). Pineapple juice anyone. Toast to Tracy and her love bug. ❤️

  • Happy, happy birthday Tracy!

    Thank you for sharing all of your hard-earned wisdom, wicked sense of humor, and wonderful (spit-take worthy some days) illustrations.

  • Happy Birthday! You brought a smile to my face on a dreary Friday. You look genuinely happy….nothing forced in that photo.

    My D-Day was over 1.5 years ago and the STBXW is still dragging this divorce along. I recently had to respond to a ridiculous email from her (lying cheater, master gaslighter, expert blameshifter) and I actually drafted 3 separate responses before I sent. 2 of them were full of snark reminiscent of this blog but alas, I took the high road and kept it to facts and business.

    May you have a wonderful birthday and I wish you the best of years ahead…..looks like you have stepped way out of that pile of shit you were in!

  • Happy Birthday CL! 🥳

    My 40th birthday was this year. Spent alone at our condo at the beach. Alone at the beach!! He left me at the beach 2 days prior to MY 40th BIRTHDAY to go “home” (300 miles away) during COVID! Obviously going to fuck whore on my birthday. Fast forward 1 month and I hired detective and filed for divorce. Today the condo is sold and the proceeds are waiting so that my daughter and I and can move forward and get a place of our own. Can’t wait to see what the future holds. I deserve so much better!!

    • Narcs love to ruin/attempt to ruin birthdays! Last year my now Ex-h took me to dinner on a Saturday night to celebrate my 38th birthday. He has given me a birthday card & restaurant gift card earlier in the week for my actual birthday since he was working out of town. So that Saturday dinner cost quite a bit more than gift card & I charged the rest to my own credit card – yes chump paying for her birthday meal. The next day we finished our weekend project of staining our large deck in 90 degree heat. As soon as project was over, he blurts out about his affair & blames me/rages at me of shortcomings going back years. Fortunately I found LACGAL at Barnes & Noble a few weeks later bc I didn’t want to order on Amazon and for him to see it.

      • “As soon as project was over, he blurts out about his affair & blames me/rages at me of shortcomings going back years. Fortunately I found LACGAL at Barnes & Noble a few weeks later bc I didn’t want to order on Amazon and for him to see it.”

        Yep, they are something else. My FW waited until we had the deck built on our recently purchased river property. Part of that was me holding down an auger bigger than I was. Then it was all set (unknown to me) for him and his whore to have their trysts in while I was working, or home cleaning his toilets and doing his laundry.

        On the way home from that deck building trip, I guess I didn’t follow him close enough in my car, so he raged at me for five minutes at a gas station about how useless and stupid I was. So bad that, several guys standing at the gas pumps stopped and stared. Then he came out of his rage, and said go home. When he got home, he said “sorry I was under pressure” then he took off, I guess to fuck schmoopie and relieve his stress.

        Quite frankly, though I don’t wish him any ill health, or physical harm; I hope he is living in hell; and there is plenty of indication that he is. Their life didn’t go as smooth as they had planned, mostly due to their own stupid actions. Still counts.

  • Happy birthday to everyone with a Sep born day! This post reminds me so much of my 40th birthday. I found out about the affair in Feb, MIL was diagnosed with terminal cancer in Mar and she passed the day after my birthday. So yeah, zero happy memories from that milestone. May we all have better birthdays ahead.

        • Same here. I turned 40 in Oct and Dday was Dec 25th of the same year. A year of horror followed, but I came out stronger. Yes there are scars, and it changed me forever, but I have been blessed with many years of happiness, contentment and best of all good health.

          It amazes me sometimes what we humans can survive.

          • I got DDay at 50. Although, at 40 my stbx was cheating on me even then! Oh how I wish I would have been dumped at 40. I don’t know if I believe in “mid life crises” but I do think there is something that happens to their fragile egos at these significant milestones. My ex did say weird things as he was leaving, such as, “if I don’t do this now, I’ll never do it.” And, “we’re getting old”. So, he clearly was concerned about his (and my) aging, so he started cheating around the 40 mark and continued until he couldn’t keep secrets anymore and decompensated 10 years later and got sloppy – and stopped fucking hookers and got a girlfriend instead.

            • Oh I get you, I feel lucky it happened at 40, but would have preferred it at about age 37, the year my son started his senior year of high school. Because I am pretty sure that is when he and schmoopoie started their adultery.

              He wasn’t ready to discard me yet though. Guess he wanted to be sure. What’s another two years of wasting my life compared to him being certain of what he wants.

              Oh I definitely believe in MLC. It isn’t an excuse, as they have agency the same as we do, but yeah; they lose their fucking minds at some point.

              Even the ones who are long time cheaters, manage to hide it, then they go ape shit. I honestly believe my ex came to regret it. Hell I know he did. But it was too little too late. He did not and is not having an easy life with schmoopie. His choice though.

              I didn’t really think it at the time, but I think given that schmoopie was his direct report at work, his balls were in a vice and he couldn’t escape.

              He actually drug out our divorce for six extra months, and he kept contacting me to “talk” I wasn’t interested by then, but I did meet him and talk a few times, and this was a confused mess of a man.

              I think if a lot of them wouldn’t get so damn mean when they are fucking around, they might be able to salvage their lives, but something drives them to the meanness.

      • Jumping onto your story with my 40th birthday story has nearly become a tradition.

        My 40th birthday suuuuuuuuuucked. The shitty restaurant my then-husband took me to became a used car dealership and is now boarded up. Nearly everyday I drive the Scandinavian roadster my new husband bought me (in cash) past that place but Im at Meh…I only use it as a signpost that Im going in the correct direction.

        The year I turned 40 was also the year that my then-husband had a full blown cheater melt down and fell in lurve with a coworker. He was a shitty ass-bastard and tried every sort of abuse to get me to pull the trigger on our marriage but Oh, no…I wouldnt do that because hopium.

        He was so godawful mean and for a while he moved away. He left me raising our kids and doing my low stress job caring for dying children. I got down to 113 pounds, my hais was falling out and I had hives when he announced he was “coming home”.

        I did a 5 year wreckonsillyation with him but was ready to leave as I had promised myself that I had endured my last rage from him. I had a low-rent apartment and a Chevy picked out (I knew he would claim my MBZ, his name was on the title) but I was struggling with what would happen to my kids when I left, so I stayed. His mood was, however, so dark that knew that something would give.

        What actually happened was something I never ever saw coming. Im not saying this is good in all ways, but he dropped dead. (Please don’t go down the rabbit hole of “I wish mine would drop dead too” that is well worn turf and based on the grief my inlaws and children suffer, I wouldnt have chosen this but God chose it and there I was).

        I did a bit of dating but was reunited with an old boyfriend who had been single for 12 years after his narcxw decided there was greener grass (btx, the grass was not greener and now she is very resentful…not my problem). He proposed to me on a luxury yacht trip (4 couples and a crew including a chef) to the Aegean Sea …we then went to Istanbul where I bought silk scarves in the Grans Bazaar.

        Like Mr CL, Colonel Greatguy is a funny, quirky dude who wears his phone clipped to his belt and likes painting his grandma painted (ick) he also does not fuck around. 2 months before our wedding, I learned that my Cheater had been a life long cheater which threw me into a spin but I was determined to not let it ruin my new relationship.

        My story is not one to try to replicate…dropping dead is an odd, unpredictable thing and I do not advocate anyone do anything rash (oddly and seriously, I would have never ever hurt him, never even wanted to slap his face). So results will vary but the life I was TOO SCARED to leave was a horrible, painful abusive dead-end. I should have left years earlier but I didnt.

        Be mighty and reclaim your life, it is YOURS

        • “The year I turned 40 was also the year that my then-husband had a full blown cheater melt down and fell in lurve with a coworker. He was a shitty ass-bastard and tried every sort of abuse to get me to pull the trigger on our marriage but Oh, no…I wouldnt do that because hopium.”

          Brings back memories. Much the same at my house. His whore was his employee (direct report) on the police department. He was of course lyhing to me when I questioned why he was being so shitty, “it is my job, new promotion, pressure” blah blah blah. I buckled down and tried to keep things calm, and he only got worse. On Christmas day of the year I turned forty, we were at my sons house where he was stationed in AZ, and I found him out in the common area early in the AM, at the complex talking desperately to his whore. Just a few hours before he had initiated sex and it was quite an event. I guess he wanted to get one last sample just to make sure.

          I confronted him and, he just stared coldly at me. I was of course already suspicious, but I guess he decided that was the day to rub it in my face good. Like fireants they had built their escape over the last couple years, and it was time to sting the unsuspecting victim. What a great trip home.

          I went into walking shock and I don’t really remember much for the next couple weeks as he slowly moved out of our house (it took about a week). If I could have thought, I would have dumped his shit in garbage bags and put them on the front lawn.

          But, I was in shock, and likely pickme dancing.

          I am fine now physically, emotionally and financially, but you never forget.

        • That happened to my mother in law. In her case her husband was an alcoholic, but he was also running round. He was always putting her down and yelling at her. He dropped at age 48. She of course loved him and grieved, but she was by all accounts much happier after.

          I was a young stupid married woman at the time, and I never connected his actions to my young husband. I had only known him a year before he died, I didn’t like him; but wasn’t around him a lot.

          When my ex (her son) 20 years later, pulled his crap, she was devastated. She actually said to me, it would have been easier for you had he died. I know she didn’t want him to die, but I also know she was thinking of how it was for her.

          She eventually turned on me, but in the beginning she did hold him to account.

  • A joyous and happy birthday Tracy. You are a blessing. Your willingness to document your journey and to provide a safe place to others walking the same road has definitely saved lives.

    Personally, being here helped me understand just what the hell really happened in my life and provided a blueprint for healing.
    Better yet, you have helped me avoid similar people in my life at present. For all of that I am eternally grateful.

  • Happy birthday Tracey! Here’s to you having all the bourbon you want or need today, all weekend, and all next month. Thank you for all that you do.

  • Omg, I swear you just had a birthday! I’ve read this column, many times. I absolutely love it. Thanks to you, I am out of hell . I got my plan together, each day I realized how bad it had become. It’s been six years total now. He died just before I was leaving. The depth of shit sandwiches, lies and manipulation, still pop up for me. I think of the RIC industry as the pandemic and you are the inoculation. When we get herd immunity from accepting cheating, lying etc. as normal, it will be time to stop writing, yelling enough already. I’m in my sixties now, doubt I will live that long, lol. Our numbers are swelling slowly but surely. I read everyday, learn from it everyday. Still waiting for meh, but my life is wonderful now. Happy birthday. You can truly say , you have done something important with your life.

  • Happy Birthday, Tracy!!

    You are such an important thinker and writer and have helped so many of us Gain Our Lives back

    May yours be filled with joy today and every day!

  • Your blog has sustained me through some really awful, awful days….and nights. LACGAL is torn, worn, and frayed….marked by coffee stains, wine spills, and countless tears. YOU are MY gift from gods that knew I needed help, and truth, to get me through the unimaginable. Happiest of Birthdays from the bottom of my heart…..Have a WONDERFUL day.

  • Happy Birthday! Thanks for the message of hope. I don’t know about being knee deep in cow shit on your birthday is such a bad thing. A good friend said to me: “people who plant gardens have hope for the future” and she told me this while I was still living with fuckwit, after D day. Yes, I helped prepare his garden for Spring 2020. I am grateful I got out before it was time to plant seeds (I took all the second and third generation seeds with me, even though I don’t have a garden where I live – I did that work and they belong to me) She is right, I do have hope for the future – this blog and this community, the stories, the goal to expose abuse, line up with my values and ethics. I spent my birthday this year “alone” but it was glorious! I have peace in my home – my walls sing – I SING.

  • Today is my 8 mo D-Day anniversary on the day of CL 8 year anniversay.

    Comforting to be reminded of how life will continue to move forward, and good time to reflect on how far I’ve already come.

    Also – Yeah Michigan!

  • Happy Happy Birthday Tracy!! (I always loved weekend Birthdays!).
    I will never be able to Thank You enough for your shared wisdom and your life saving book and blog! I am now approaching 7 years from Discovery Day and Divorce. (I RAN to a lawyer.). I believe that stumbling onto YOU within weeks of the Tsumani rolling over my life was nothing more than Divine Intervention! This was a 46 year marriage. It nearly broke me, but thanks to you and this “tribe” of souls, I now live my life in peace and MEH. You are a total gift to those that find you!! May your day be full of Birthday Bl. Essings. ❤️❤️

  • Happy birthday, Tracy! This is the sixth circle around the sun with you (Dday was 12/2014). I love reading your birthday story— it’s like a beloved poem.

    I have been at a Meh for 3+ years, it coincided with getting divorce finalized, staying deeply “no contact,” and having my new life eclipse my old one (promotion to partner at a new firm in a new state, my relationship going from friendship to significant other, my teens settling into new life post destruction, taking charge of my financial future.). I come here every morning upon waking. CN is my community and my people. I hope my support helps others who are in the hell of early days. I also need the reminders so that when XH Hoovers I do not forget how he really is and what he is capable of.

    Thank you doesn’t begin to express my gratitude for you. 😘😘😘❤️❤️❤️

  • Happy Birthday!

    You really did save my life. I probably would have stayed or tried to crawl back or even do something terrible afterwards, had I not found your blog.

    My 40th bday XBF was still love bombing a bit. He bought me a paddleboard, but I shopped for it and picked it out. He made a big deal every year about telling people how difficult it was to strap to the car and drive it home from the city. (Eye roll).

    My last bday with XBF, we sat outside at a beautiful French restaurant and I mostly stared off while he was on his phone. I knew he was texting one of his OW but I didn’t want to start a fight so I ate the shit sandwich. This year I had a super fun dinner with 3 close friends (who are in my bubble of 10). No shit sandwiches.

    • Love that. Thanks for sharing! Reminds me that no matter what they buy, where you go or how fancy the meal it doesn’t show genuine love and doesn’t fix anything. Be well

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY CL!!! Thanks for sharing I always enjoy reading… upper Michigan is so beautiful I’m “down state” but venture every chance I get. After my husbands recent “confessions” we made a trip all around traverse city Sutton’s bay Mackinac even kayaking in gaylord, but there’s NOTHING like the up! (NO nothing fixed us, I just figured well a trip paid by him, why not)
    Also, Pictured rocks was the coolest kayak trip I’ve ever done/seen.
    I’m happy you got to spend time here and so overjoyed with the HOPE that you bring💛 have a great birthday!!!

  • Happy birthday to you! It looks like you made a wonderful life for yourself and you deserve it!

    On my 40th birthday, I had to BEG the backstabber (I didn’t know anything about his despicable behaviour back then. I thought he was a good guy and trusted totally and unconditionally) to celebrate my big day in NYC. He finally agreed, but grudgingly and unenthusiastically (now I know why!). On my 50th birthday (I had just found out a small part of the insanity my life was), I sat in a restaurant with my children, parents and sister weeping uncontrollably while they sang happy birthday to me. I’m looking forward to a happier 52nd birthday celebration.

    Your site has helped me so much through this horrible time. You give refreshingly spot on, no nonsense advice that I’ve followed (made a few mistakes in the beginning but am on track now) from the beginning of my ordeal. When I read what you have to say I know you understand exactly what I’m going through. Most people don’t believe or can’t understand the insanity I have to deal with.

    Thank you for telling it like it is, always.

    • That first birthday was very hard. Mine was a week after d day. I was devastated and lonely.
      But I did one thing right (well, many things, including kicking cheater out immediately and divorcing him thanks to this group). I told my friend I was sad.

      She dropped everything and showed up at the door with pizza and cake. It was the kindest, most meaningful gesture in my life. I still cry thinking about it. I’m not sure I would have made it without her.

      Anyway. I hope 52 is awesome. Or at least not traumatic!

    • “When I read what you have to say I know you understand exactly what I’m going through. Most people don’t believe or can’t understand the insanity I have to deal with.”

      Yes, Overly Trusting Chump, there is power in one survivor helping another. What I lived through comes out in dribs and drabs to friends and their mouths drop open. I am so glad I am out of that insanity.

  • Reciprocity and thoughtfulness. Red flags I never noticed until after ex was gone.

    I felt him bringing me coffee sometimes showed love. Otherwise I got few gifts in our 25 years.

    I am fiercely attached to independence now. I’m happy. My life is lovely. D day was almost 2 years ago. I am often amazed at how much better life is without ex.

    That said, no new guy or girl for me. I definitely don’t have trust in others yet. And I am still enjoying finding me. I might just continue to give myself everything I want.

    D day was a week before my 47 birthday. It was a bad birthday oh woe is me and all that. 3 weeks later was Christmas and I bought myself a new car. I’m a quick learner.

    It makes me happy to know there are sappy people out there. Thank you for sharing your life.

  • Same birthday as my dad, who held on just long enough to see the divorce finalized and me disassociated from my nightmare for good.

    Two of my heroes in one day. Not bad.

  • Happy Birthday, Tracy! And thank you!

    Like everyone else here, I feel like CL and ChumpNation was my lifeline of support as I left my cheating Fu**wit after 24 years married. I am celebrating 3 years since the day I declared it over. I read LACGAL 3 times in the first weeks and have visited this blog daily since then. I love the wisdom and care of this community. I will be forever grateful.

    *I hope someday to find my own Mr. CL. You two look so happy. But if not, I still have a pretty awesome life right now – 100% better than I could have imagined before I liberated myself. *

  • Happy Birthday Tracy! I love reading this story every time. The two of you look good together- very happy!
    Here’s to many more Happy Birthdays together🎂 🎁🎊🎉

  • Happy birthday, Chump Lady! The existence of this blog and the great community behind it has been life altering for me. I’m not sure I could have gotten through my divorce without it. You’ve taken a topic that is devastating and soul crushing, and made it into something that has snark, humor, and best of all, hope for the chumps. Thank you!

  • Happy Birthday Tracy! I want to thank you and all of Chump Nation for your wisdom, support and encouragement to my clumped daughter. She found your blog and introduced me to it. You all have given us a crash course in how to LACGAL. I am now a faithful daily reader desiring to know how I can best support our daughter in the days ahead. Thank you one and all!🤗

  • Happy Birthday, fellow Septemberist.

    Shakespeare didn’t believe in astrology so neither do I– except if it’s flattering. Add CL to the list of pioneering women born in September who shed an associative glow on that month. Queen Elizabeth, Agatha Christie, Lotte Rotholtz, bell hooks and M16 secret agent Greta Garbo to name a few. 😉

  • Everyone else said what I wanted to say! Happy Birthday, Tracy! I’m hoping you’ll be blessed with love, happiness, good health and good luck today and every day!

    Every time you write about Mr. CL I remember that you met him on an elevator (right?) and obviously, the elevator in your life went UP! I can’t imagine how awful my life might have been if I hadn’t found this blog in Sept. 2012. I had been trying to reconcile etc for years, with only the RIC to depend on (and make it all worse). You spoke to my heart and told me I didn’t have to keep pick-me dancing anymore. Thank you!

  • Happy, happy day, Tracy-Chumpy-Lady! So grateful for you and your mind and your heart! Super jealous that you appear to be a perpetual 39!

  • The happiest of birthday wishes to you, Dear Chump Lady! If you were my local friend, I’d bake you the most delicious cake (your pick on the flavor)! I hope you have a wonderful day. 🙂

    Your birthday post always reminds me of the countless birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Days, Valentines Days, etc that were pretty much ignored. I went out of my way for my XH and his families birthdays. My birthday? I’d get a card left somewhere — on the computer keyboard or the kitchen island. No cake, presents, dinner, NOTHING!

    I foolishly thought my 40th birthday would be different. I tried to help him a little by buying some cosmetics that I needed that was also giving a gift with purchase. I thought he’d wrap them up from our young children. Nope! I was given the cosmetics in the store bag they came in. Nothing was planned for my birthday. No presents or cake. I asked the grandparents if our kids could sleepover, so we had the night to ourselves. He asked me what I wanted to do. I was so beat down on what should have been a happy day, that I said I didn’t care. We ate out at Quaker Steak and Lube (mind you we could have afforded a very nice restaurant) and then we went to the local mall TO BUY HIM A PAIR OF PANTS! After that we went to Saturday service at our church, because I just didn’t care anymore and was so sad. XH told a couple of church friends that it was my birthday. They asked what we did and I said, “We went to the mall to buy Snake a pair of pants.” He tried cutting me off when I said that and said, “Don’t tell them that!” Too late, Snake! We were home by 8:30pm and I cried myself to sleep. One week later it was Mother’s Day and the Snake’s mommy guilted me into having a big family party at our house. Chumpy me did all the cleaning and cooking of course. I watched the Snake wish tons of women at church Happy Mother’s Day and then all the female family members Happy Mother’s Day. Did he wish me Happy Mother’s Day or buy me anything? Nope! And when I asked him why he didn’t wish me Happy Mother’s Day, he said and I quote, “You are not my mother.”

    Sometime later, I cried to him about all of the above and told him how much it hurt me that nothing was ever celebrated for me. He said, “I didn’t know.” Claiming cluelessness about birthdays and such, which didn’t ring true to me, because every single birthday of his, he went out for a birthday lunch with a former FEMALE college friend for her birthday (they shared the same birthday).

    So then he started celebrating my birthday, but in his usual disordered way, he’d get narc kibbles from my birthday too. He’d ask women at work for cake recipes when I never asked him to bake me a cake and I also had tons of recipes myself. He’d also take the day off work for my birthday, but never once asked me to take the day off to do something. He’d just work from home, but he’d get narc kibbles from whoever he told he was taking the day off work for my birthday. I’m sure all the women (he works with mostly women) at work thought he was such a wonderful husband. Far from it! I could go on and on.

    So the lesson learned is: Be in a relationship that is reciprocal. For sure our relationship didn’t start off so unbalanced, but I can now look back and see that once the love-bombing staged ended, I was always the one who was giving more.

    And I can use this lesson not only in intimate relationships, but with others too. My chumpiness didn’t just get played out at home. It got played out all throughout my life with other people.

    In less than a month it will be six years since I caught the Snake out on a date with a newly divorced whore. It took me over a year after that until I found our beautiful Chump Lady and all the wisdom found here at CN. CL answered my letter and I’ll be eternally grateful to her and all of CN that responded too. https://www.chumplady.com/2016/02/dear-chump-lady-is-the-cheating-my-fault/ I was in a deep depression that I didn’t think I’d ever come out of, yet alone survive, because my brain was like scrambled eggs and I wanted to die ever single day. CL said to me, “How do you move on?
    You get a pit bull lawyer. You fight hard. You make that part-time job a full-time job. You stop looking to him for answers. You build a new life. You get independent. And you trust that he sucks.”

    Chump Lady, I did all that you told me too and I survived!! None of it was easy, especially going back to school to become a nurse. I’m still working on building a new life, but I’m headed in the right direction! Thank you, Chump Lady! You truly did save my life! God bless you on your birthday and I hope one day I’ll be able to meet you and thank you in person. (((HUGS)))

  • Happy 46th (+/- 8 yrs 😉 ) Birthday, Tracy! You not only aren’t shoveling shit around anymore, you’re actively of service to those of us who are popping out of that shit like magic ChumpLady mushrooms! Thanks!!

  • Happy Birthday Tracy. Old lady?! Piffle. I’ll be 56 in November. I try to convince myself that’s not old, merely mature.

    The blog and book and comments have kept me sane. Thank you for keeping it going, even though you’ve been at meh for a while. The closest I get to it right now is my meh tee shirt. Aspirational, and predates DDay. I just keep going.

  • It’s been 5 years. I have rebuilt my life. I have a great job. I have a great apt. I have a great kid. I’m finally starting to get my head above water financially. I am, for the most part during Covid, extremely lucky.

    I’m 54, in pretty good shape. Not unattractive. Fairly sane. Been working on my baggage. I’m ready to date and try again. But there’s no one knocking on my door, and yes, I’ve made efforts to ‘get out there!’, tried online dating sites, etc.

    Yet everyday I wake up and say, maybe today. Maybe I’ll meet someone today. Maybe a real man will come into my life and think I’m worth effort. And every night I go to bed alone thinking, oh well, maybe tomorrow.

    I can’t remember the last time I celebrated my birthday with someone that actually made an effort. That cared. My last 5 birthdays I ‘celebrated’ alone with chocolate and tequila.

    I am so glad you have found your person. I try to hope that I may yet find mine. But now, after decades of dissapointment waiting for promices never kept, hope never fulfilled, I just need to find acceptance that I may never find anyone. This may be as good as it gets. And I need to be ok with that.

  • Happy Birthday Tracy! Thank you for sharing your story and building Chumplady. You surely have kindness embedded in your soul to continue helping others with your blog, even though you are several years into Meh and you have a wonderful partner. I wish you all the best! 😊

  • Tracy, If you’re 54 I’m a monkey’s Uncle 😂
    You look 40!!!

    Three years ago This month I sat in an empty house abandoned and bewildered. Searching the Internet for What to do next. Surviving Infidelity led me here and Amazon supplied the cheaters handbook LACGAL. Audio book format which never left my CD Player at home or in my truck.
    Had your book been a college class, I’d have made an A+ on the final exam. It took me down the rabbit hole 🕳. More precisely the empty elevator shaft after having been pushed & tumbling down the stairs a few times.

    My step son recently moved to Marlette Mi from Bayport btw. I’m hoping to go up for a visit in October. His mother is absent in his life…because !schmoopie!…

    I hope you get a Detroit Chocolate Factory Brownie with a candle…or 54! And a hot tub to enjoy it in with Paul and some bubbly. Add some Lavender essential oil and candles Paul and ya might get lucky 🍀☝️😎🤘

    Y’alls picture together is glowing and I wish y’all many decades more of blissful happiness.

    ML. OUT.

  • Happy Birthday Tracy! I am so grateful for having found you. You will never know how your blog and this group have helped me keep my sanity. I am one year out from D-day and still on the path to meh. But I know I will get there because you believe I will and so many other people here believe it too. Please know that your work is so valued.

  • Happy Birthday Tracy!! Much love from me, I found you just as my marriage of 27 years was imploding and it was my guidepost to get myself to a lawyer and follow the steps out. Congratulations to you on celebrating with your Mr. CL. So happy you found each other! All the best and many more.

  • Happy birthday CL! And what a lovely picture! Keep fighting the good fight. You might not ever get a statue erected in your honour but, while I haven’t been chumped as such (I got cruelly discarded by a long distance cheating bf, several years ago) I think you’re a hero. To be fair, the sculptor would have to be ultra talented to do your hair justice…

  • Happy birthday Tracy ! 🥃🎂💝

    Who knew that your shoveling poop would lead you to building this life saving site ? You’re an alchemist of sorts,turning shit into gold. Manure is good for growing things and you’ve launched a movement.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Happy Birthday CL! Thank you for continuing this wonderful blog, it has helped me so much. You are the BEST! Really cannot thank you enough, you helped to propel me in the right direction and make sense of all the craziness.

  • You and your fucking happiness is a reminder! Don’t look back you’re not going that way. Tuesday does come to those, in time ❤️ To heal will bring clarity, followed by more respect for oneself and then … BAM. We all be loving and living and killing our new lives. Fucktard free.

    Thank you for you on this happy day of you Tracy. I truly, deeply and fondly admire and respect you. Your spirit and strength are a beacon. Thank you 🙌🏼
    Now come and visit mi pequeño frijol y yo for a dill pickle vodka polka dance off. ❤️ Mucho Mucho Amor 💋💋💋

  • Today is my birthday too. Thank you for posting this. It’s been a rough one. Last year, I think i was still in shock. This year, I’ve been divorced for six months and I’m finally realizing that 1) I’m old (43) and 2) I’m scared shitless because I have no idea what the future holds. I can’t imagine finding love but I’m glad you did. Thank you for sharing your witty insights with us and happy birthday! I’m glad you’re not shoveling shit this year!

    • Oh Stacy, please don’t call yourself old. You are really so young. I was forty when my FW blew up our marriage. I remember the fear, but I wasn’t old and neither are you.

      Go out and join in on the things you love, even if you have to force yourself. And I did have to force myself.

      Also, I would recommend checking with your churches (if you are religious) or community center and see if you can find a group therapy session for newly divorced folks. I went to one that my sister in law set up for me, and it was really good in getting me to redirect my mind to me. I mean a counseling session with a qualified therapist, not just a singles group. My session was once a week for six weeks.

      You likely are doing all this, but I just wanted you to look at yourself as young, because you really still are. I am 70 now, and I would love to get another shot at 40. Especially if I could know what I know now.

  • Happy birthday fellow Libran! Thank you for all that you do. May all the care you put out come back to you in joy. Add me to the list of people you’ve saved. I was so far gone, I didn’t even realize I was being mistreated or that it’s ok to get out.

    And as for my birthdays, in a nutshell, whether they were good or bad, they were always about him. Tuesday will be my first FW free birthday. I can’t wait for it to be all about me and what I want! Thank you thank you thank you.

    • ^This. For my ex’s 40th I planned a destination mtn-biking and whisky-tasting trip to Scotland with his closest friends—his favorite things. For my 40th, we played shuffleboard at a casino in town…. Funnily enough, he left me after I finally threw a big birthday party for myself for my 47th birthday. He just couldn’t forgive me for putting myself first after years of devaluation.

      Happy Birthday, CL! Thank you for everything you do to nurture chumps.

  • Happy birthday a day late! Thank you so much for the assurance that you plan to continue giving the world’s best snarky advice. After D-day, I knew that I wanted out and the only advice online was to stay. It took days of internet searching through mountains of RIC garbage before I found you and CN. Thank you for waking up at 5:30 each morning to support, encourage, and run the UBT for us! It is greatly appreciated!

  • Thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes! Just got home from a 2-day drive from Michigan and it’s so great to read these. Thank you, thank you, thank you! xoxoxoxo

    • Maybe we should hold a Chump Nation convention at the Grand Hotel!

      (My grandparents had a cabin on Bois Blanc Island….)

      • Happy belated B-Day CL! Best wishes for the rest of your years!

        I will always remember my last B-Day with my PE-XW. She dressed to the 9,s, she was beautiful. We went out to our favorite sushi restaurant. When we finished she said, lets go out, lets go to _________. I said sure….when we got there guess who was there…..yep…AP. She was all dressed up so I guess she wanted to show him too. This was 47 days before she walked out and never looked back. UGH…….Fuckwits…..all of em!

        • They really are FWs.

          My FW brought her into our house on several occasions. One month before Dday, he sat her at our table for his work Christmas Party. Invited her into our church two weeks before Dday.

          So ephed up. I can’t even imagine the crap they did when I was out of the house. He likely brought her into our bedroom. That seems to be a common need with these fuckwits.

          I don’t know if my FW was always this devious, or if he snapped at midlife, either way they are so screwed up.

  • “It’s my birthday and I’ll do what I want to !”
    I celebrated my birthday last week and consciously practiced self care by scheduling a particular call AFTER my b’day.
    My aunt is a scary Venn diagram of narcissism, alcoholism and eating disorders. Thanks to you Tracy I recognized her cycling through the charm/pity/rage channels two years ago on a trip to Europe. It’s all about her and she didn’t disappoint during our conversation, I mean her monologue. I don’t get upset like I used to (insert the Serenity Prayer).
    Thank you again and I can’t wait for your next book. Glad you and yours are back home safe and sound.

  • Happy Birthday! I originally read this post a few years ago when you ran it on your brthday and it was a real eye opener for me. Reciprocity was what was lacking in every romantic relationship I have ever had. I was attracted to vampires. They sucked everything I had: time, effort, money, emotions, until I had nothing left to give and was an empty shell.
    When I met my now SO, I was not looking for a relationship, but the more time I spent with him I realized, “This is what reciprocity looks like!”
    Thank you for your hard earned wisdom. Whenever the younger people in my life ask for relationship advice, I always tell them not to accept a relationship without respect and reciprocity!

  • Thank you for all you do chump lady , Please don’t ever change. Three months ago I celebrated my 64 th birthday, It was 1 week after my 3 1/2 year divorce from hell was granted. I treated a small group of friends to dinner at our best steakhouse. Instead of gifts I asked everyone to write a limerick , a haiku or a poem for the occasion. It was hilarious and fun and sweet. The best birthday celebration ever. The limerick idea I got from your site and occasionally use it to purge bad thoughts. Wishing you many more wonderful birthdays. You are an inspiration.

  • Happy birthday, Tracy! I hope your Sunday evening is lovely.

    I appreciate your continued contribution to this blog. Even though my last cheater is looking super tiny in my rear view mirror, I visit this site often so I’ll remember to immediately sidestep the FWs when I see them coming.

    Many good wishes for you and Mr. CL!

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